Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Psalm for Wednesday: Psalm 94, verse 4
I got this one in just under the wire! But it is still Wednesday....
They pour forth words, they speak arrogantly; All who do wickedness boast of themsleves.
In my comments on verse three I interpreted "wicked ones" as referring to the ego and the messages it gives us in order to keep us focused solely on the self and to keep us away from connecting with God, humanity and the world.
The words of the ego often pour forth in a seemingly endless stream. These words do not spring fully formed from the ego itself. They are the messages that we have told ourselves or that others have told us through the years and which the ego has assimilated.
Sometimes they are messages of self-deprecation or self-condemnation. These voices, these words, can lead us to separate ourselves because we feel unworthy of others or of God.
Other times the words are of extreme praise or self-aggrandizement. These words lead us to remain separate because we feel we are better than others or that we don't need them, or God.
This verse focuses more on the latter type of message from our ego. These arrogant, boastful messages may originate from us or from others, either from a true sense of "superiority" or in order to mask a sense of insecurity. But wherever the root and whatever the underlying feelings, they serve to keep us separated and alone. And this is never good for the soul.
Ultimately, it is not good for the world either, for each person who is separated from the Oneness is another person unable to bring compassion and love in the world and unable to make the world a better place.
This boasting and arrogance, as phrased in the psalm, is a form of "doing wickedness" because it prevents goodness from manifesting itself.
I am not claiming, as some traditions and teachings might, that all forms of pride in what we do or who we are are evil. When balanced with humility and acknowledgment of the Source of All, feeling good about ourselves can be a blessing. But balance is the key word. If at any time pride in our accomplishments or in who we are causes us to feel out of balance, then we need to stop and take a look at what's happening. Chances are that the ego is trying to do its dirty work. But with mindfulness, compassion and seeking connection to others and God, we can bring that balance back into our lives, and ultimately the world.
Posted by Rabbi Steven Nathan at 11:43 PM
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