Buddha Says What?  Turn the Other Cheek?

by Jeanne Reilly Burgess


Live purely. 

Be quiet. 

Do your work with mastery. 

Like the moon, come out

from behind the clouds. 


                         ~ Buddha



So, am having a meditation around all kinds of things… Buddha is guiding me.  We get done with ‘my stuff’ and I say “So, shall we start?”  Buddha says something like “Sure, let’s start with a simple teaching Turn the Other Cheek.” I say “Hey, that’s not yours… that’s Jesus’.” 

My mind is already going to the idea that I can’t start this whole reinterpreting the Buddha for the modern age mission by quoting Jesus. People will think I am soooo confused. Buddha says (with patience and humor) “I said the same thing.”  The tone was along the lines of ‘we all say the same thing, when will you people get that?‘  So he starts explaining and showing me what ‘turn the other cheek’ means to him.  

I don’t know if this is common, but since childhood I have held an image of what it means to turn the other cheek.  I picture someone slapping me –hard.  The slap causes my whole body to twist away from the slap.  When I turn the other cheek, I bring my body back around and offer my second cheek to be slapped… like I am offering myself to be hurt again.  Buddha says something different. 

Buddha says the teaching is to bring yourself back around to center. Face the person.  Look them right in the eye… look into their soul. You want to look into their soul because you are looking past their earthly personality… the personality that just slapped you (hard). In the aftermath of the slap, you’re holding a space for that person that insists on seeing their soul, their true essence.  You know the slap is simply an action born of some separation from self. You are able to remember THAT in the moment, even as your cheek still stings and your eyes water.  

He was very clear that you look into their soul and you say NOTHING. If you MUST speak (which he was not advocating, but was recognizing our human penchant for speaking), say “What are you afraid of?”… no challenge, no fight… from a place of genuine compassion. The feeling is “I see you have acted out in your own frustration (pain, upset… fill in the blank) but I know that is not really you. Tell me, my friend, what are you afraid of?  My intention is not to hurt you.”

That’s it. At first, I wasn’t going to share this. My mind got busy thinking our first Buddha lesson should be HUGE. But then I sat with it, reflected on it, shared it with my friend SoulSpark and it became clear — this is to be shared. Of course it is simple (silly), it’s Buddha.





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