From The Gentle Art of Blessing
Bless them that curse you. (Matthew 5:44)
At one point in my career, I was employed in the field of international development, working in the Swiss school system with both students and teachers. During this time I had to make one of the most difficult decisions in my career: keep my job but accept a situation that violated the most elementary professional ethics, or quit. (I learned later that the people who put me in this situation were actively banking on my leaving!)
So, rather than commit moral hara-kiri, I quit.
In the following weeks, I developed a deep-seated and all-consuming resentment such as I had never experienced before against the people who had put me in this impossible situation. When I awoke in the morning, my first thought was of them. As I showered, as I walked along the streets, as I went shopping or jogging, this resentment obsessed me, eating me up, draining my energy and robbing me or all peace. I was literally being poisoned. I knew I was harming myself, but despite hours of meditation, prayer, and spiritual study, this obsession clung to me. I felt and behaved like a total victim!
Then one day, a statement in Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount struck me as never before: “Bless them that curse you,” (Matthew 5:44). Suddenly, everything became clear. This is what I had to do. Bless my former “persecutors.” Right then and there, I started to bless them in every way imaginable: in their health and their joy, their finances and their work, their family relations and their peace, their abundance and their goodness. The ways to bless them were endless. By blessing, I mean wishing from the bottom of the heart, in total sincerity, the very best for those people – their complete fulfillment and deepest happiness. For instance, if a friend is in a state of deep depression, I will bless them in their peace, joy, and wholeness, which is hidden to the material eyes but very present at another level of their being.
This is the most important dimension of blessing: sincerity that comes from the heart. This is the power that transforms and heals, elevates, and restores. It is the very antipode of a stereotyped ritual. Spontaneous blessing is a flowing fountain that, like a mountain stream, cascades and sings. It expresses perpetual morning – defined as freshness, openness, gratitude, inspiration, newness, alertness, expectation of good, wakefulness, fresh beginning, purity, threshold, (re)birth, joy, innocence, wonder.
At first, these blessings were a conscious decision activated by my will but born of a sincere spiritual intention to heal my thinking. The key factor was the intention. Slowly the blessings moved from being an act of the will to a yearning of the heart – because the act of blessing comes essentially from the heart.
I blessed those people all day long – when I was brushing my teeth, jogging, on my way to the post office or supermarket, washing dishes, and before falling asleep – individually and silently. This process of blessing continued for quite a few years.
After a few months of this practice of blessing, one day, quite spontaneously, I started blessing people in the street, on the bus, at the post office, or when I stood in lines. At the beginning of this wonderful discovery, I would sometimes walk the whole length of a plane or train just for the joy of silently blessing the travelers – unreservedly and unconditionally. This gentle art of blessing became a silent song, the driving power of my spiritual life, a bit like the cantus firmus of a Bach cantata. Little by little, blessing people became one of the greatest joys of my life – and it still is now, after many years of practice. I have found it to be one of the most efficient ways of staying spiritually centered and of freeing my thoughts from negativity, criticism, and judgment. Learning more about the spiritual laws that govern the universe, which we’ll discuss in the chapters ahead, revealed to me why blessing had this effect.
I never received any roses from my former employer, nor even the slightest expression of regret. Rather, I have received roses from life. By the armful.