Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
And if any man will sue thee at the law and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.
And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Mathew V
Like many passages from religious works, what appears nonsensical when taken literally, is quite profound as spiritual teaching. The most helpful explanation of this passage for me is from Emmet Fox’s The Sermon on the Mount.
Fox was a New Thought leader of the turn of the 20th century and he interpreted the Bible in metaphysical terms. In his interpretation, the directive to “resist not evil” means to place your attention only on good. It means to recall the energy spent on mental sparring and pushing back. To be angry, fearful, or resentful is to drain your own energy and to empower what you do not want.
The quickest way to diffuse and transform a negative situation is to ignore unwanted energy and focus your intent on the highest energy of the other party (the God within, higher self, etc). By affirming their Divine potential, you help manifest it into being. Fox described it thus:
Feel out, mentally, for the Presence of God, as you would feel out physically if thrust suddenly into a dark room. Hold your thought steadily to that Presence as being with you, and as being also in the person or the place where the evil has presented itself; that is to say, turn the other cheek. If you will o this, the difficulty, whatever it is, the undesirable situation or the trouble that someone is making, will fade away into its native nothingness, and leave you free. This is the true spiritual method of loving your enemy.
This is easier in small cases, and quite challenging in the case of more serious confrontations. Also, this directive is not on right action, but in right thinking. The correct action will vary according to the situation. For example, if someone is physically attacking you, it is likely appropriate to take defensive action.