The spiritual individual will not feel bitterness. His ideas don’t revolve around feeling bad feelings toward fellow man. In fact, those with a developed sense of spirituality will not even venture into the battlefield of bitterness as they will understand how that sense of negativity saps what is essentially spiritual and makes it less complete. The mathematics of the situation are clear. If you have a human being and you add bitterness, the sum total of what you have is a human being that is lacking.
Thus, bitter people can’t be spiritual. Try the equation another way. Take a human being and add compassion and understanding and what you see before you is a human being with extra potential. People see bitterness as a very complex element. They often employ the “eye for an eye” statement without really truly understanding its meaning. However, to gain any kind of spirituality, the eye for an eye would never be used as an excuse to feel bitter.
Hebrews 12:14-15 comes up with about the most accurate description about bitterness that could be found on the spur of the moment. Of course, there are many examples in the Bible, but this is probably one of the most astute on the subject and helps with understanding why bitterness is not something equated to spirituality:
“Strive for peace with everyone and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;”
Bitterness helps no one
What the Bible is actually saying in words if not altogether in meaning is that bitterness helps no one. If an individual feels bitter, there are too many people impacted by that bitterness. However, what bitter people don’t understand is that they choose the road they take.
Thus if they are bitter, their anger will affect others, though spiritually, it affects the people feeling the bitterness more, since they can never be truly spiritual. They are too busy feeling bad things about the world around them, or the people that form part of that world, to have any kind of inner peace and it is only through inner peace that spirituality begins to develop.
It is almost as if Hebrews 12:15 instructs believers to keep away from the root of bitterness. That root within the heart of an individual leaves no space for spirituality to grow.
The Christian religion is not the only religion that covers bitterness.
Buddhism also has similar leanings toward a human being needing to let go of negativity, and certainly, bitterness forms part of negativity. An interesting comparison between Christian belief and that of Buddhists by Robert Thurman came up with a very powerful argument against bitterness as being anything which good can come from. In fact, it argues that when compassion is exercised instead of resentment and bitterness, results may be a lot more empowering.
Bitterness breeds bitterness. Compassion is perhaps harder for an angry man to feel though those who are spiritual are also aware of the negativity that is the only reward someone gets from bitterness, and it’s not a sweet reward. By being compassionate, the human being is able to remain complete and to go beyond feeling complete to actually achieving a spiritual understanding of what life has to offer. If a man wakes and sees black clouds, he will feel negativity. Those black clouds powered by bitterness hold back man’s potential in the same way.
Kahlil Gibran’s statement on bitterness is a useful one to look at to help the understanding of bitterness.
“Oftentimes we call Life bitter names, but only when we ourselves are bitter and dark. And we deem her empty and unprofitable, but only when the soul goes wandering in desolate places, and the heart is drunken with overmindfulness of self.”
What he is saying is crystal clear. If individuals are so self-possessed and find themselves inwardly looking while criticizing the world as being a bitter place, what happens is that it’s unlikely that they will find any kind of reward. The statement further goes on to say that when you pull a veil over life, you also put limitations on the possibilities that spiritual people would be rewarded with. You stifle spirituality. You kill it with bitterness for the world in which you live and learn nothing about what is covered by that veil you choose to put up between yourself and your soul.
How people perceive bitterness
It’s strange how people perceive bitterness. It is a poison to the development of spirituality because it takes away so many more rewarding possibilities by hiding them out of reach. Those who choose to remain bitter don’t experience life’s glory at its fullest and are incapable of crossing the bridge of possibility into the realms of spirituality.
If you toss a stone into a puddle and only blame the stone’s shape for not skimming the surface in the way you wanted it to, what you obscure are those beautiful ripples reflected in the water at the moment of impact. It didn’t matter that the stone didn’t skim. What mattered was that the observer was able to see beyond the failure and embrace the reward.
In this humble attempt to explain the spiritual problem of bitterness, it is hoped that readers learn something about the vastness of choice given to mankind. The choices of acceptance and compassion are almost like gifts to the spirit, whereas the choice of bitterness and regret serves very little purpose but to stifle the potential of spiritual development.