A: I have a confession to make. I was looking back at some earlier posts, and I realize that both you and I were guilty of using the terms “light” and “dark” in a less precise way than we might have. So first I want to apologize if we confused anybody.
J: Language is fluid. Communication is fluid. Words like “light” and “dark” have a lot of different meanings, depending on the context. This is why I say the intent is more important than the words. The goal here is not to speak or write like a corporate lawyer, but to talk about feelings and ideas related to the spiritual journey. Writing “live” on a blog has some of the same problems as being interviewed live on TV. People will look for ways to trip you up. But that’s their choice. That’s their intent. If their intent is to be legalistic for their own benefit, that’s up to them. Small errors in speech are going to happen, and each individual has to decide how to react to those errors. It’s a choice like any other choice.
A: It’s a choice to look at the intent behind the words or actions.
J: Yes. People make mistakes. It’s part of the human condition. Everybody makes mistakes. But not all mistakes are made with intent. Many mistakes are nothing more than accidents — pure accidents, with no intent to harm. Sometimes the results of purely accidental mistakes can be tragic. More often than not, though, the greatest harm is caused by people who have harmful intent towards others. Among adolescents and adults, the majority of mistakes carry with them a harmful intent. A young child who drops a glass of milk because his motor skills aren’t fully developed has no harmful intent. An adult who gets behind the wheel of a car after drinking may not be planning to crash into another car — so from this point of view a crash is an “accident” — but his intent is clearly harmful from the moment he gets behind the wheel. He intends — he chooses — to drive regardless of the consequences to himself or anyone else. That’s what I mean by a mistake with harmful intent.
A: He made a choice and hoped he wouldn’t get caught.
J: The body of law known as common law understands this principle. You treat a crime done “on purpose” differently than you treat an accidental harm. You look at the intent of the people involved, and ask yourself if anybody had motive. Did anybody stand to gain?
A: Can acquisition of status can be considered a motive, an incentive, a measurable and desirable gain in the eyes of some individuals?
J: Acquisition of status lies behind many a crime.
A: Including religious crimes against humanity — the ones committed by status-seeking religious leaders?
J: Especially the crimes of religious passion. Especially those.