Getting the 5th and 6th Beatitudes Right: Metaphysical Interpretation of Matthew 5:7-8

Mountainside-SermOnMt-5-6Last week we shared a metaphysical interpretation of Beatitudes 3 and 4 (We refer to them as Be-Attitudes). If they made sense to you, we hope you’ll try the 5th and 6th ones on for size that we share in this blogcast. We believe these interpretations will deepen your spirituality and your appreciation for how a  metaphysical perspective enlivens scripture.

We also believe it’s important to honor the integrity of the original meanings of spiritual texts if you expect to use them as baselines for further thought. For the Beatitudes, that means honoring the purity and intent of the original Aramaic meanings. That’s the only way subsequent interpretations can capture the intended voice of the author.

One of those subsequent interpretations is a metaphysical interpretation of scripture. No matter what the faith tradition, a well-thought-out metaphysical interpretation adds immeasurable value to the writing because it takes scripture from an external, dogmatic, parochial bias to an introspective, spiritual intention.

The 5th Beatitude: Matthew 5:7

So, this week let’s take a look at the next two Be-attitudes. The fifth Beatitude, as it is usually stated it reads: “Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy.”

Actually we could work with this Beatitude just the way it is—except it is a misinterpretation. To have mercy is a wonderful human trait. Mercy, in all of its forms—kindness, tenderness, empathy, leniency, and clemency—is a soulful thing to offer anyone.

However, the word mistranslated as ‘merciful’ from the original Aramaic is rakhma, which means unconditional love. It means loving people the way they are regardless of who they are, how they are, where they are, and why they are.

It means loving people in spite of their frailties and failures. It implies loving them regardless of their disabilities and defects. It means loving them irrespective of their past actions and current human dramas.

However, it doesn’t mean applauding their bad habits, putting up with corrosive negativity, or condoning verbal and physical abuse. It means loving them through it! Even if it means ‘tough loving’ them from a distance.

Historically this Beatitude, like so many of the others, was a frontal attack at the Pharisees and Sadducees of his day. The Christ as Jesus railed against them for their hypocrisy and arrogance when it came to their mistreatment of Gentiles, Samaritans, women, the Essenes, and anyone who wasn’t Jewish.

However, we’d be remiss if we didn’t offer a brief metaphysical treatment of the historical context we’ve just shared. Metaphysically:

  • Pharisees and Sadducees represent thoughts that we allow to bind us to conventional and dogmatic forms of religion.
  • Our Gentile nature refers to that aspect of our spiritual practice which is independent of any particular religious bias.
  • Samaritans symbolize thoughts that vacillate between spiritual and material perspectives.
  • The Essenes represent asceticism and abstinence from materialism.

Forgive us for stepping outside of the ‘Be-Attitude box’ for a moment in order to give you an extended snapshot of the historical context of the Beatitudes. We felt we needed to include a metaphysical snapshot that put the people and groups of people we mentioned in their proper metaphysical places. Because, you see, people, places and things—metaphysically speaking—are traits and aspects within us.

So, what is this Be-Attitude really saying?

That being said, we believe the 5th Beatitude, correctly interpreted says:

HeartsVarietyMore enlivened and enriched are those who offer unconditional love; for they shall receive unconditional love.

Beatitude #6: Matthew 5:8

Now, let’s move on to the 6th Be-Attitude. In its traditional interpretation the 6th Beatitude is a heart-centered message. As it is commonly understood it reads: “Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.”

This translation implies that if we are good, decent, moral, and virtuous human beings, we will see God when we stand before the Pearly Gates.

Devoting oneself to ‘pure living’ is certainly praiseworthy. However, the implication that we will stand in the presence of an anthromorphic god in the sky one day misses the central teaching point of this Beatitude.

The point was missed entirely by a young truth seeker in the following story:

A young truth seeker went to an old sage one day and asked if the wise old man could help him find God.
The sage replied, “Yes, I can help you find God. Come back tomorrow morning. Make sure you pray, and meditate, and affirm your oneness with Spirit in the meantime.”
The man was delighted. The next morning he went to the sage. “Okay. Here I am. I’m ready.”
The sage said, “We’ll have to climb to the top of that hill over there. Pick up this backpack and follow me.”
The truth seeker struggled to put the bundle on his shoulders but managed to follow the sage. When they had only gone a few yards the man called out to the sage to stop.
“This backpack is too heavy. What do you have in here?”
The sage said, “The backpack contains five large stones.”
“Five stones!” shouted the aspirant.
“If it’s too heavy for you, take one of the stones out, and lighten your load.”
The aspirant did as the sage suggested. When he had only walked a few more steps he complained about the weight again.
The sage advised him to toss one more stone aside.
The trip up the hill was punctuated by the complaints, excuses, and pettiness of the aspirant.
By the time they reached the top of the hill the aspirant had thrown away all of the stones, as well as the backpack.
At the summit, he arrogantly told the sage, “Look. I’ve patronized you all of the way up here. I don’t see why I had to carry those stones in the first place. Were you going to build an altar or something? I don’t see what carrying them has to do with finding God.”
The sage replied, “You would not climb the hill with five measly stones. How do you expect to find your Godness when you have vices heavier than mere stones?”

That is the central message of this beatitude. If we are burdened by ‘stones’ like anger, fear, greed, arrogance, selfishness, unforgiveness, and material attachments we will miss the purpose of the climb.

In the original Aramaic, the correct translation for dadcean is not “pure in heart” per se. It’s more correctly translated as ‘spiritual perspective.’ It’s referring to an enlightened mind. A mind centered in super-conscious awareness. A mind that values the spiritual over the material.

The word ‘see’ as it is used in the standard interpretation of the 6th Beatitude is a mistranslation of the word mikhazoun, which means ‘comprehend.’ So, the ‘seeing’ implied here is not physical sight, but an internal ‘spiritual depth perception.’

So, we believe a more correct interpretation of the 6th Beatitude is:

eye-Divinity-sxc1269510_99507757Fortunate are those who see things from a more Christed perspective; for they shall comprehend their innate divinity and spiritual worth.

The 6th Be-Attitude encourages us to lighten our egocentric load so we can see things from a Christed perspective. It reminds us to fill our consciousness with spiritual thoughts and inclinations instead of burdensome material thoughts and tendencies. We will lighten our load when we enlighten our perspective.

Next week we tackle Beatitudes # 7th & 8th — and look forward to the 9th plus a Bonus Beatitude! Let us know what you think so far!

About Cher & Bil Holton

Since 1984, Cher & Bil Holton have been co-owners of The Holton Consulting Group, Inc., helping corporate and association clients enhance bottom-line results using cutting edge employee engagement. Their keynote speeches, turbo-training, and coaching sessions are practical, grounded in research, and lots of fun to boot! They are prolific authors, and take "Indiana Jones" vacations to continually stretch their limits!
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