“The only measure of your words and your deeds / Will be the love you leave behind when you’re done.” Lyrics to the song “Everything Possible,” by Fred Small
The reciprocating image that we find in a mirror is unique kind of image. There is a cycle of return which always puts us back into the image we create.
In the last couple of posts I have looked at one of the four human endowments: conscience. The root image of the mirror points to how we meet our deepest thoughts and feelings held in our conscience. The mirror’s reciprocating image reflects for us the relationship that we create with the world. And there is a perfection to what the mirror shows, a perfection that allows us to acknowledge our personal truth and our relational truth. But mirrored image is also a compensating image — one that holds us accountable for our response and its impact. There is a cycle of return that always puts us back into the image we create.
In my earlier discussion, I endeavored to look at five qualities of conscience: reciprocity, social veracity, safety, diversity, and empathy. These qualities are as close as we can humanly get to the perfection of the mirror’s reciprocating image. They are also the points of compensation which measure and reflect back to us the impact of our response.
- If I do not extend reciprocity, then the mirrored image will not offer me empathy in return.
- If I do not respect social veracity, then the mirrored image will not offer me safety in return.
- If I do not extend safety, then the mirrored image will not not honor my needs or the needs of those I love.
- If I do not respect the diversity of needs, the image will not offer empathy in return.
In simplest terms, if I refuse to honor the most important dimensions of relationship, then karmic debt is created. And I am always immersed in relationship; so the debt I create in one relationship will eventually be paid back through some other relationship. There is both a sense of deep democracy and deep justice in this creation of karmic debt.
- Deep democracy listens to all voices. It offers respect for how we extend reciprocity, social veracity, safety, diversity, and empathy to one another. Everyone is included. Everyone counts.
- Deep justice exacts a compensation for when voices are not heard. It offers a karmic response to present reality of relationship. Debts are created that must be acknowledged and paid — just so relationship can flourish again.
Let’s look at examples of karmic debts created by relationship toxins of criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.
- Criticism – Classified as an over generalized attack against the personality and character of an person or group around minor or incidental “flaws,” criticism only seeks to belittle or diminish. It attacks safety by withdrawing empathy; the resulting imbalance diminishes reciprocity, social veracity, and diversity.
- Contempt – Classified as the intent to insult and psychologically abuse an person or group with no reference to any observable behavior, contempt only seeks to destroy the integrity and identity of another. It attacks reciprocity denying any impact for one’s action; the resulting imbalance diminishes safety, social veracity, and diversity.
- Defensiveness – Classified as the protective withdrawal into aggressive forms of rigidity that “act out” shame, blame and denial, defensiveness only seeks to destroy the openness required for communication. It attacks diversity by enforcing personal veracity; the resulting imbalance diminishes reciprocity, safety and empathy.
- Stonewalling – Classified as the withdrawal of all thoughts, feelings and actions on behalf of the relationship, stonewalling only seeks to create the impact that has already been realized on one side of the relationship. It inverts empathy through passivity and destroys reciprocity; the resulting imbalance diminishes safety, social veracity, and diversity.
The karmic debts created by any of these behaviors will most likely be repaid through some kind of relationship pain as the conscience tries to clear itself of the debt. The best way to avoid unnecessary pain is to conscientiously uphold all five qualities which are the basis for just and right relationship. While mental illness may alter the way conscience records relationship debt, the thoughts outlined above (I believe) apply to healthy, well-functioning adults.
As Fred Small pointed out: “The only measure of your words and your deeds / Will be the love you leave behind when you’re done.” Love is the principle results created by right relationship. Conscience seeks after love in all of its contemplation.
Thanks for listening!