We have seen constant conflicts in human history. Our human nature has been ever since judgmental and self-righteous.
When God faced Adam in the Garden of Eden if he had eaten the fruit from the tree of the knowledge, Adam, even though he had eaten it, insisted that he was not wrong, but Eve was, because she tempted him. And Eve also said she was not wrong, but the serpent was, because the serpent deceived her.
From the mythological inception of universal humankind, even in communicating with God, our archetypical action already was a series of stupid blaming games.
And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.Genesis 3:9-13
And even the first murder in humankind took place between their children, Cain and Abel, the mythological inception of human siblings.
Our archetypal conflict in humanity was due to Cain’s jealousy against Abel — comparing oneself with others, hating others in one’s assumption, and thinking “I am not wrong, but he or she is ” or “we are not wrong, but they are.”
Thus, Cain thought or felt that killing Abel could be the only solution to restore peace of his mind.
And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?Genesis 4:8-9
When God asked Cain where Abel was, Cain’s answer was well-known: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” He was self-righteous and defensive.
Archetypically, we are all Adam and Eve, and also have our own Cain within.
We always think we are right, and others (including God) are wrong. At the personal level, we always say, “I’m right, and you are wrong.” And we even answer back to God. If ever we would accept we were wrong, still the implication could be within the prison of self-righteousness. That is to say, we are right because we have accepted that we are wrong.
Thus, whatever we may say, whoever we may be, we can never get out of this dilemma of self-righteousness.
Jesus said as follows:
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.Matthew 7:5
We’re always busy checking the faults of others (including God) without knowing ours. Even if we could accept our mistakes, our very repentance would be often mistakenly self-indulgent, and deceitfully self-righteous. We think we are right because we know we are wrong, while (we arrogantly and judgmentally assume) most of them have not reached this level yet.
In short, it is the attitude of “I tell you that I am humble, but you are not.” Such a sense of twisted moral and ethical superiority could be even worse than innocent simpleness.
Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.Matthew 6:2-4
What if we show off our very repentance in front of people with our public prayer? We would be deceitfully in a trap and dilemma of such a twisted superior, narcissistic feeling of self-indulgence and self-righteousness. That is why, Jesus was telling us that we should not let even our left-hand know what our right-hand does. That is to say, we must deny our self-consciousness in the first place. We must be poor in spirit.
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Matthew 5:3
Image by Andre Mouton