11/29/2010 08:10 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

R-e-s-p-e-c-t: Find Out What It Means To Me

Today we have to pay attention to a wide spectrum of politically correct agendas -- our PC-sensitive etiquette realities. Do you still say "handicapped" as the parking placards state, or do you say "physically challenged"? God forbid you refer to an airline employee as a "stewardess." The last stewardess retired over 20 years ago; the airlines now only employ "flight attendants." As if the PC jargon were not restricting enough, the new, improved PC behavior boundaries need to be observed as well. The biggest behavioral boundary that has reared its cosmetically challenged (i.e., ugly) head: what is spiritually mature behavior and what is not? When do you draw a line in the sand, and when do you turn the other cheek?

Recently I was talking with a businessman who was dealing with members of the "Spiritual Community." He was greatly shocked by their materialistic, egocentric behavior. "These people are supposed to be better than this!" he complained, with a quality of bitterness that comes with disappointment in what he had clearly anticipated would be a better world. "Quite, frankly, I'm shocked that you're shocked!" I told him. After all, people are people, no matter what community they profess membership to. We need to look no further than Sister Geneva's Psychic Hotline service, or any televangelist, to find gleaming examples of blinding human frailty.

Just because your livelihood advertises a higher, loftier standard of human conduct does not mean, as a human being, you will suddenly shed all your imperfections and never again act like a self-absorbed child. Spiritual creatures come to the earth to practice and explore growing beyond what is limiting, life-destructive and diminishing. The stuff (i.e., excrement) we are here to grow beyond needs a place in which to show up, so that we can practice putting it down and choosing something else. We are all excrementally challenged, or we wouldn't be here.

My first suggestion is to make your peace with the excrement (i.e., sh*t) hitting the fan; that is why the Earth was created. Here we have a place to work out our issues, without messing up the rest of the universal neighborhood. If you resist the purpose behind the creation of the entire physical realm, it will most likely screw up your afternoon, not to mention your life. So get over it. There are no short cuts in the Tao. We all get the whole of life -- the tolerable as well as the intolerable.

Now that we have established the groundbreaking reality that people are less than ideal (i.e., have issues with just about everything), and always will be as long as they are coming here to learn and grow, what is the best way to respond to this ongoing annoying situation? Jesus tells us to "love our enemies." (So does Hallmark.) That is great advice, and I do not have an issue with it, but that does not always mean I know how to be aligned with that wisdom.

Does "love you enemies" mean becoming a doormat and letting people walk all over you, wiping their feet on your dreams? This is where being a member of a spiritual community becomes very tricky. How does one establish fair and healthy boundaries yet still remain Christ-like or true to one's Buddhist nature? The answer is somewhere between grabbing your shotgun in hand with "Kill the wabbit!" in your heart like Elmer Fudd, and passively letting Lucy pull the football out from under you every year like Charlie Brown.

Balance is what we are essentially after in our relationships and in our lives. But even with balance we cannot necessarily control our relationships with other people. All we really have is sovereignty in our own lives. We can strive to achieve that balance by asking what is fair for all beings involved. We need to respect the divinity of others as well as our own. When we die and experience what Franklyn Smith calls our "panoramic life review," where we sit down with God, a large popcorn and junior mints, and see the home movie of our life, we are going to have to be accountable for not only why we trashed the God in others, but also why we allowed the divine within us to be treated as inferior and irrelevant.

Saying to others who are deeply challenged in the arena of playing nice with others (i.e., as*holes) that they do not have our permission to dis the Divine in us, and that they are most welcome to take their toys and play elsewhere, is a loving and Spiritually appropriate action. Granted it needs to be executed with respect for all parties involved, but choosing not to allow people in your life who are toxic and ruinous is how you respect your spiritual identity and relationship with prime source.

You are allowed to have a backbone and still be tolerant, compassionate and clear. When you come face to face with God, you can say, "I feel good about how I valued and respected my divinity, and I extended that openly and fairly to all other God creatures everywhere." The meek will inherit the Earth, but the happy, well-balanced people who value respecting fair and healthy boundaries will inherit a life worth living while on the Earth!

Vaishali is the author of "You Are What You Love"® (Purple Haze Press 2006) and "Wisdom Rising" (Purple Haze Press 2008).

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