Verses 9b-11a: (NEB) “If you cease to pervert justice, to point the accusing finger and lay false charges [or (RSV) If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil…], if you feed the hungry from your own plenty and satisfy the needs of the wretched, then your light will rise like dawn out of darkness and your dusk be like noonday; the Lord will be your guide continually.”
The language in the different translations of this scripture strikes me as worth pondering. “To pervert justice” or to “remove the yoke from among you” are interpretations of the same phrase. Both evoke images of being bound by something greater than our self.
Justice is associated in our collective consciousness with the scales of balance. Our actions are weighed against morality. The laws or principles are common to humanity, thus greater than any individual’s thought. The yoke is a harness that guides. Imagine the animal pulling a cart. It is yoked to the cart.
Justice and the yoke are like an ordered plan or pattern that guides us. We are yoked at many levels—collective authority, personal relationships, our adaptive self, our biological nature and our core Self or God Within. When we know how we work, when we are conscious of the laws and principles (plans) that shape us automatically, we can remove the yoke that perverts our actions.
The yoke we need to remove is the one that ties us to authority and ways of living that go against our true nature, God Within. We align with automatic, habituated, reflexive responses when we are not consciously bound to the larger Self that is the totality of God Within.
The Self, the psychic structure that connects us to God, guides us individually. Each of our psyches has a natural order according to which our libido or life force flows. What we experience as our self or our ego is shaped in the interplay between the natural flow of our psyche’s energy and the obstacles we encounter as we move in the outer world.
Isaiah says that we must stop perverting justice. The implication is that we distort the natural order. We misappropriate our energies. We try to tip the scales of justice in the direction we desire versus seeing the balance (or lack of) as it really is. We take energy that is flowing for our good and use it to our detriment. We do not always like our actions, so we may fudge in “seeing” the consequences to our selves and other people. We may distort the truth of how energies are flowing in order to maintain our self- image.
Our call is to consciously choose to align with the natural order of God Within. When we do, we experience the light and know the guidance of God in our heart.
In Egyptian mythology, the heart was weighed on scales against the feather of the Goddess Ma’at upon death. Ma’at represented truth, rightness, genuineness, realness, uprightness, and steadfastness. The lightness of one’s heart indicated the person had lived uprightly the truth of their soul. We can use this image to guide us in our choices and actions.
To remove the yoke of perverting or distorting the realities of our nature is essential for our growth. We have to see where we are bound to ego consciousness and ideals to the detriment of knowing our true nature, God Within. We are bound to something greater. Our spiritual work calls us to know and tend to the connection consciously.
How are your actions weighing against your heart’s desires? Are they in sync? Are they balanced? Where do you say you want one thing but do another? Look with compassionate presence to see how you distort (intentionally or unintentionally) the flow of your energies.
Look to see where the compensations, the opposite actions (inner and outer) are happening. Be courageous in removing the yoke of habituated patterns of thought, emoting, and action. Open to experiencing the connection to God Within as you align with the larger truth of your nature.