Contemplating Jesus


Posted on by Lucinda M. Vardey

In the past self-knowledge was discovered through the regimens of contemplation, study, prayer and meditation, either alone or with the guidance of a spiritual master or director.  During the last century, psychology has largely taken the place of such practices, introducing methods and processes to enable a more thorough understanding of the mind, emotions, motivations and habits.

Psychological perception particularly pin-points why certain behaviours mirror aspects of one’s personality that are usually disliked.  These aspects lie hidden in the sub-conscious and can manifest in expressions of fear, anger and criticism.  The therapeutic process helps unravel the truth behind such behaviours, and provides ways to encounter forgiveness, self acceptance and a more honest outlook.

Jesus had a handle on psychological wisdom centuries before the discoveries of Freud, Jung, Reich and Perls.    In Matthew 6 (22-23) he likens the eye to a lamp.  If the eye sees clearly then the body “will be filled with light.”  If, however, the eye is diseased the whole body “will be darkness.”  The eye could mean the mind but it could also mean that how we see ourselves is important for healthy relationships.   This seeing of self is not just about exterior impressions but an inner clarity, a knowing of the truth of who we are.  When we arrive at that truth, the light of the Spirit dwells within us.

Jesus seemed well aware of the dangers of a person who is self-ignorant. Without having brought to light the shadowy parts inside, many are likely to turn to projection, judgment or dismissal of others whose character, manner and actions remind them of what they don’t want to face in themselves.  Jesus doesn’t only define – and remind us – of the law of cause and effect (“Do not judge, and you will not be judged because the judgments you give are the judgments you will get.”  (Matthew 7:1-2)) but he tells us to first recognize our emotional disabilities, especially if led to relate from a critical or superior position.   “Why do you observe the splinter in your neighbour’s eye and never notice the great log in your own?”  he asks (Matthew 7:3). That “log” Jesus infers is a self burden far greater than the perceived burdens of others.

Those who have undergone personal therapy know well of what Jesus was inferring.  Gaining familiarity with one’s interior darkness eases that burdensome log and creates a lighter sense of self and a clearer intent towards helping others.   Jesus instructs, by “taking the log out of your own eye first, you will see clearly enough to take the splinter out of your neighbour’s eye” (Matthew 7:5).

Only those who have suffered and found truth are able to effectively guide others on the path to wholeness and healing.

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