The 6 C’s of Separation
It was a couple years ago that I began developing the concept of “The 4 C’s”. I published the idea in a blog post, but I didn’t name it “The 4 C’s”, so I’m really not even sure which of the now 212 posts introduced the idea.
The seed of the idea came when I was praying about “keeping up with the Jones’” – the idea that I felt somehow less or unworthy because I had not experienced the things that others had described – experiences or milestones called, “The Second Comforter”, or “Baptism of Fire”, “Calling and Election Made Sure”, etc. As I was praying, the words came to me, which I attributed to Jesus, “Do not compare your experiences with those of others”. It took a while for the lesson to sink in, but today I recognize that tendency more quickly and easily, and so am better able to guard against the consequences.
So, “The 4 C’s” started out as:
These represent a process that initially creates separation (comparison) and then fortifies it; comparison leading to competition (no one want to be last), which, of course leads to contention, and eventually the tendency to seek to control others.
Since this initial understanding, this progression toward greater and greater separation has continued to cement itself in my understanding and perception, as I’ve perceived my own behavior, thoughts, and tendencies as well as that (those) of others. I’ve perceived the “4 C’s” in action over and over again, and they always lead to the perpetuation of the illusion of separation.
Since the formation of that initial concept, the 4 C’s have actually expanded to 6 C’s, with the addition of:
Now, there’s nothing doctrinal or compelling (heaven forbid) about this concept. I simply find it a useful tool for recognizing the triggering and progression of separation in our relationships, this separation being a denial of the oneness that I think is our intended inheritance.
If I may, then, I’d like to address again, from an enhanced perspective, the components of “The 6 C’s of Separation”:
It all starts here. There is no positive outcome from comparing ourselves with others, or with some standard. We will either think ourselves less than, or more than, the object of our comparison. This either fosters pride or unworthiness, guilt, frustration, etc. When we begin to comprehend the concept of unconditional love, comparison becomes unnecessary. Within the context of unconditional love, we live with trust, faith, hope, and charity, in the knowledge, or at least hope, of the oneness of all that is. We need not, indeed can not, qualify for salvation – theoretically the ultimate act of love (but not unconditional) as wrought through the sacrifice and atonement of Jesus Christ – but we can receive our inheritance, our perfect place in the universe.
Comparison is the result of doubt, of mistrust. It results from believing that we need to “earn” our place in eternity.
Comparison is also the antithesis of humility – the beginning of the end. I would define humility as the acceptance, even the love, of your own perfect, true self, without the need to validate it through comparison to others or to some ideal.
Finally, comparison is the trigger for competition.
In addressing this issue of competition, I am talking about competition for worth. I’m not referring to games, or athletics, unless we allow our successes or failures in these endeavors to become a measure of our eternal worth or the value of our soul or the souls of others.
The natural outcome of comparison is competition. If I perceive myself as less than someone else, then I will naturally desire to address that and fix it. That can only be done in two ways:
- Abandon the very idea of comparison; surrender the need for validation through comparison.
- Engage in competition to improve my status.
One problem with option 2 is that, as soon as we indulge in comparison, we will find that there is always someone who we perceive as “greater” than us. In order to compete, I must look for an “edge”, or a weakness that I can exploit. To do this I must judge, and I might even make things up. Have you ever known a person who constantly elevates themselves by pointing out the faults in others? This is what we risk becoming when we begin to engage in competition.
This need to exploit the weakness of others while, of course, hiding our own, leads to:
So, if we expect to come out on top, we need to emphasize any weakness that we can discover in our adversary (adversary? Did I just convert my neighbor into an adversary?), even to the point of making things up, accusing, judging, belittling, condemning. We also must make sure we conceal our own weaknesses, and in doing so we basically throw integrity out the window.
Next, we assume that our neighbor (or is that “our adversary”) is doing the same thing. Trust flies right out the window, too. Everything others do is perceived as conniving or self-serving, while everything we do is intended to further our “standing” in the hierarchy. I’m really not enjoying this! No, not at all!
Ah – now we have introduced the concept of hierarchy. Yep as soon as we graduate to an attitude of competition fueled contention, a hierarchy necessarily results. I know the scriptures often imply an hierarchy of authority as characterizing the government of Heaven, but I believe this is absolutely contrary to the spirit, the personality, the nature, the order of Heaven. If there is any hierarchy, any authority, it is a hierarchy, and authority of service, humility, and love. He who is the least shall be the greatest.
Finally, contention is the outcome of fear – the fear of the actions of others; of losing your place in the hierarchy; or of becoming somehow less “worthy” (contention and worthiness seem oxymoronic to me – but maybe that’s just me. Actually, the idea of worthiness in any form is anathema to me.) When we act out of fear, we graduate into:
A logical outcome of competition, especially if we win that competition, is the desire to maintain that hard-won status by exercising control over the behavior of others. This control can manifest itself through setting boundaries (rules, dogma…commandments), or by actually using some sort of manipulation to either encourage or, worse, force behavior that will preserve our status. Of course, all the time that we’re seeking to establish control, we will certainly continue to compete against others seeking to elevate our status by – how? Well, by either bringing others down, or by elevating ourselves through winning the competition that we’ve initiated.
So, exercising control by limiting or manipulating behavior, using rules, doctrine, dogma, commandments, or narcissistic manipulation and bullying is bad enough. But there is another method of control that takes things to a whole other, highly destructive level:
Compulsion is control on steroids. Compulsion involves the use of force to control the behavior of others. Force can come in many forms. The most profane form, of course, is physical force, or even the threat of physical force. Government works in this way. Laws are enforced by the threat of, and often execution of, force.
But there are other types of force that can be used to compel behavior – economic, cultural, emotional, psychological. “Bullies” who are clever enough will use these types of force before resorting to physical force, and even then the really “clever” ones will exert economic, cultural, emotional, or psychological force to manipulate others into executing that physical force in their behalf. Models of this type of behavior abound in our society, from school bullies, to gangs, to government at all levels, to cults, to religious and other types of communities and societies. Of course, all use of force leverages fear to further our exercise of competition and contention in favor of our comparative standing in our relationships.
Now, we arrive at the crown jewel for the 6 C’s of separation:
Is there any word in the English language that belies love more than “contempt”? Even the word “hate” implies a grudging respect, but contempt is even without respect. Yet, this is where all of this separation activity ultimately leads.
If we compare, and seek to compete and contend, but fail to elevate our standing, our worthiness, we will most certainly hold ourselves in contempt.
If we succeed in elevating our worthiness standard through successful competition, contention, and control, even though, no especially if, we resort to compulsion, would we hold those whom we have compelled or “conquered” in any perspective other than contempt. We certainly won’t love them.
That is such an ugly word. And it all started with that innocent, benign, but ever-so-sneaky indulgence in comparison.
The First Shall be Last, and the Last Shall be First
So, Jesus is recorded as comparing the sheep and the goats. But what characteristics do you think accompany those “sheep” who would stand at His right hand? Do you think they got there by indulging in comparison with others, and seeking to elevate their standing through contention, competition, and compulsion?
What did Jesus say when the apostles asked Him who would be the greatest, implying, of course, that someone must then be least? Silly apostles.
“The Kingdom of Heaven is within you”. Could the Kingdom of Heaven, or even Zion, truly be built upon principles of hierarchy and these 6 C’s of separation? Could there possibly be any room for control, compulsion, and contempt in the Kingdom of Heaven? And, if the Kingdom of Heaven is “within you”, can there be any room for these things within us?
What does D&C 121:34-46 have to say? (This is an excerpt from a letter by Joseph Smith, which letter I hold in high regard as a standard of love. The term priesthood as referenced below is greatly misunderstood, but to me it means the opportunity and responsibility to act, only in service and love, in the name of God, and carries with it no authority other than the authority of truth.)
Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.Hence many are called, but few are chosen. No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;…Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.
I think to simply leave this letter to stand on its own…
These “6 C’s of Separation” describe a natural progression that we are all subject to, and it all begins with comparison.
But I don’t believe that Christ compares us to anyone or anything. His unconditional love is just that – unconditional. This is the defining characteristic of His righteousness and perfection. So, any need for comparison is of our own creation – is born of fear and a failure to “know” Christ, and is the antithesis of oneness, of heaven.
The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.
I’m afraid those would would elevate themselves at the cost of others shall, ironically, find themselves very much alone at the top of the “heap” of their creation, with none to compare themselves to. It has long been said that “It’s lonely at the top”.
Those, however, who seek not status, do not indulge in comparison, but spend their energy, their light, their love searching for the divinity in their neighbor, and trusting in their own infinite worth, will find themselves partaking of the fruit of the tree of life, filled with the knowledge of Christ, and waiting with infinite patience, confidence, and trust for their beloved neighbors to arrive in their own due time, to share freely in their joy..