Sunday, July 11, 2021

A Case of the Kleshas

Mark 6:14-29    

King Herod heard of Jesus and his disciples, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”

For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

Herod had a case of the Afflictions/ Kleshas:

·      -  Herod Feared John (Dvesa)

·       - Protected John (Raga)

·        -Was perplexed by John but liked his words (Avidya)

·        -Herod was attached to his daughter and his status in the country (Asmita)

·        -Herod was grieved over the prospect of killing John (Abhinivesah)

From Wikipedia the Hindu Afflictions (Kleshas) are:

·        - Ignorance (in the form of a misapprehension about reality) (ávidyā),

·        - Egoism (in the form of an erroneous identification of the Self with the intellect) (asmitā),

·        - Attachment (rāga),

·        - Aversion (dveṣa), and

·        - Fear of death (which is derived from clinging ignorantly to life) (abhiniveśāḥ).

The Afflictions are always there trying to hold influence over us.  But, if it is possible, we can find ways to cope.  Herod tried to cope at first by not killing John.  His response in this moment was exactly that a “response,” not an abrupt unthinking “reaction.” Unlike his wife who reacts without thinking about the consequences. She allows anger to win. The idea of learning to respond instead of reacting is summed up nicely in this linked video, I listen to this when I start to feel reactive, this is how I cope.

Herod is traumatized, one could even say the demand or manipulation by his wife left Herod in a state of PTSD. Many people suffer from PTSD, I myself do.  One of the greatest challenges in life is recovering from PTSD if it happens to you.  For Herod, his recovery was aided by the idea of magical thinking. His magical idea that Jesus was John raised from the dead somehow allowed his horrible shame to diminish.  This could have been born in ignorance (avidya), but the idea that John was still alive in Jesus released him from any blame. This helps him cope, true or not. Like Herod many suffer shame in their PTSD journey. From one of Brene Brown’s TED Talks, “Shame drives two big tapes -- "never good enough" -- and, if you can talk it out of that one, "who do you think you are?" The thing to understand about shame is, it's not guilt. Shame is a focus on self, guilt is a focus on behavior. Shame is "I am bad." Guilt is "I did something bad." How many of you, if you did something that was hurtful to me, would be willing to say, "I'm sorry. I made a mistake?"”

But perhaps this is the way:

Forgive one another, and yourself. 

Shame is not a helpful emotion, Herod needs to forgive himself, yet he does not, and the rest sadly is history. So learn from Herod, be gentle on yourself. Respond, Stop, Think, Lead with Love, and Forgive Yourself and Others.



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