5b Biblical Passages Explained, Part TwoJill Loree2023-07-21T00:30:16+00:00
An eye for an eye is not saying, “Do wrong and you’ll be punished.” It’s saying to open our eyes so we can understand ourselves and others.
Please explain the Biblical passage, “The word of God was given to Moses: Thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning.”
Humankind has really butchered the meaning of these words. We’ve interpreted it to be about a punishing, cruel God who is full of retribution. Not so, folks. These words were never meant in such a way. The real meaning is to simply affirm that spiritual laws are utterly just. These are our inner psychological laws and they run like clockwork. The more work we do, the more we see how this is true.
We will uncover the fact that there is a cause for all our problems—and we are it. This is no trivial theory, and the more we develop the more we’ll stop thinking that it is. It will dawn on us just how we tee up all our hardships ourselves. And by seeing this, we can take a new swing at changing our lives.
Most of us embark on our self-searching in good faith. But early on, we can barely see how we could possibly be the ones responsible for our misfortunes. We can’t grasp this notion of a fair and just universe. It’s only when we start scratching deeper levels, which could take a good deal of time and sincere effort, that we get a clearer glimpse of what our precise role is in delivering hardship to our own doorstep. Until we start to get this, just being told that we are in any way responsible will seem like an injustice.
The sooner we can make these connections, the more quickly we can realize the meaning of self-responsibility and divine justice—without the added dotted lines to punishment and retribution. We’ll begin to see that what we put forth, no matter how hidden or subtle, gets returned to us. Not because of some rigid fire-and-brimstone law that has no mercy, but because of these precise inner laws.
In this, we can realize the glory of God, full of love and wisdom. Seeing cause and effect in ourselves allows us to see the marvel of this benign place God created. That’s the meaning behind these words. Here is the meaning of the individual symbols in this passage.
Eye | This is our capacity to see, both outwardly and inwardly. The inner vista means understanding. The better we understand ourselves, the better we can understand others. We all know this. But what’s more, the more we understand, the more we will be understood. This is a truth that’s revealed to us the more we progress, as the fog in our minds lifts and confusion burns off.
As the fog leaves, our real selves are organically revealed and others perceive us in truth. There is no more direct route to getting a taste of this than through a path of self-seeking and self-knowing. Once we’ve had a little nip of victory in this way, we’ll see exactly what is meant here. Not as a theory, but as an experience of truth. Our real seeing and understanding will blossom once we’ve begun to understand ourselves. And then, to the same measure, we’ll be understood.
That will put a positive spin on these words, rather than their typical punitive interpretation. They’re not saying, “Do wrong and you’ll be punished”. No, they are encouraging us to open our eyes so that we can start to understand ourselves and others. We need to lift the veil that prevents us from being seen and understood.
Life | If we resolve our problems by healing ourselves—becoming integrated and whole—we will come vibrantly alive. Praise be. Once we’ve done some work to heal our souls, we’ll know this to be true, even if in a tiny or temporary way. Again, this is not a theory.
When we have moments of truth within ourselves, all of a sudden our weariness lifts. Deadness lessens and we come to life. We vibrate. We are life. And therefore we give life to others. Life force streams through us as though we are an instrument through which it plays. This can only happen when we are alive, when we are the life force itself. Then we have a life-giving effect on others. Life can only exist side-by-side with truth.
If truth gets blurred by our fears, cowardice or wrong thinking that we can survive better by avoiding life, deadness will result. No matter how hard it may be to stare down the unpleasantness of the temporary truth inside us, facing it will bring us back to life. As we do this work, we will find this to be true.
Tooth | So what’s a tooth? It’s what we need to bite, to chew, to take in nourishment so that our bodies can digest it. So the intrinsic meaning of a tooth is that it is an instrument for assimilating what we need. As we properly take in life, we assimilate experiences so that we have a positive effect on others. If we don’t do this properly, we will cause more blindness.
If we’re blind, other will be blind about us, as said regarding the eye. But the tooth is what makes it possible to see; the eye symbolizes the end result. This relates to the contagiousness of our inner attitudes and reactions. Other people pick up on what we’re puttin’ down.
How this relates to our lives is in the way we become so puzzled by situations when we can’t see the connection to how we’ve caused it. If we train ourselves to observe things this way, we’ll get a better understanding of this meaning. Then we’ll be able to properly assimilate our life. Being puzzled is a clue that we haven’t properly understood and assimilated an experience. That leads to negative emotions which are bound to affect others.
If we can sink our teeth into an attitude like this, we can tackle whatever comes our way with a different spirit than those who see themselves as victims of a cruel fate. People who live by this truth will take any event in their lives and study it from this angle, exposing their real reactions and the hidden trends they contributed.
If we do this with sincerity, we will be astonished by the insights that will flow. We’ll see how the negative effect is the only medicine that could get us to change our wicked ways, to bring the remedy of changing an underlying attitude that just ain’t right. This and this alone is the proper way to assimilate life. We so often suffer because “they don’t get me.” Well, listen up, that only happens because in some way we are the ones not getting it—not assimilating things properly, the way we really could.
If we’ve already done some work on ourselves, we may have seen it happen that others around are suddenly reacting differently toward us—even though they aren’t the ones doing the work. The mere fact that we’re growing and changing makes it possible for others to have a more positive experience of us. To the extent we assimilate our lives better, to that extent we’ll affect others and subtly help them, to a degree, to do the same.
Hand | The symbol of the hand stands for giving and taking, and more. It’s the instrument through which we make things and do things to execute an idea; through which we give and take and receive; through which we can extend friendship. So it represents a certain action as well as reaction. As we act and react, so will that be given back unto us.
We may know this as a religious concept, but also, from our personal work on ourselves. This is very different from the idea of retribution. Also, thoughts and feelings are included here as actions and reactions. They inevitably will affect others, and then this effect will boomerang back to us.
Notice how humankind has chosen to view this teaching through the lens of retaliation. That’s a typical human misunderstanding, to not see things in terms of cause and effect which is actually based on wonderfully just laws that are infused with mercy, grace, wisdom and love.
So in Matthew 5:38, when Jesus said: “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 you resist not evil,” he was not contradicting the statement, but underscoring and extending it. On this path of purification, we come to see that all evil is self-created. It’s our own lesson—it’s our own medicine.
Seeing things this way allows us to liberate ourselves from the inner factors that are responsible for our ills. If we resist evil then, we cringe from the consequences of what we’re responsible for—directly or indirectly, it’s all the same—and therefore are not learning from life.
So “resisting evil” is our blaming attitude that tries to make God, fate, life or someone else the cause, rather than finding it in us. It’s our withdrawal from life, feeling antagonized by it due to our own failure in understanding the real meaning of life. If we keep resenting certain happenings in our lives, shunning responsibility, we can’t even begin to get to the truth of the matter. And hence, we’re not in reality.
But if we face ourselves squarely and with courage, we’ll find the causes. And the truth of this will set us free. We don’t have to go digging into past lives for this, because the root of any problem is here with us right now. So Jesus’ statement then was an extension and amplification of this same meaning.
If not taken superficially, such as when Jesus said, “But I say unto you that you resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also,” the meaning is the opposite of a contradiction. All sayings in Scripture are like this, with deeper meaning than their surface may at first suggest. By grasping the deeper meaning, one gets an entirely different understanding of Scripture. In fact, it’s really impossible to understand Scripture unless one is doing this work of self-knowing, because then it will have clear meaning for us.
Foot | Here again is a symbol of activity, but it’s of a different kind. With the hand, the activity could take place without a person needing to change their position. We can make and do things while we stand in place. So this implies certain inner actions, which are important but which must accumulate to be significant.
It takes a whole series of such actions to add up to an inherent pattern. They are more like an underlying concept of life. So the hand then symbolizes everyday activities—both outer and inner—including seemingly trivial events and our reactions to them.
The feet, on the other hand, symbolize movement of the whole body—or lack thereof if one is standing still. The latter can be positive if one is taking a firm stance on something and not retreating. It can also be negative if one is stagnating. When applied to our lives in psychological terms, the feet represent major changes, decisions and attitudes.
We can break all of life down into these two buckets: big and little. The minor actions aren’t part of a pattern—they’re fleeting, passing situations that don’t hit our radar as being major activities. They are more like outer events that don’t affect our inner beings so much. Which is not to say they don’t produce an effect that ricochets back in our direction.
The major actions, which relate to the symbol of the feet, are about decisive change, grand decisions and things that propel us—or fail to propel us—into movement. These determine where and how we stand on our spiritual path, and our basic approach to major life issues.
The movement of our feet has a bigger effect on our whole being and those around us than the movement of our hands. They establish our position in life. On this we build our own fate, and this determines what our minor actions and reactions will be.
Keep in mind that what we think with our conscious mind isn’t necessarily the same as what’s going on in our real mind, which is underground. But we will use it to determine whether to head in an upward direction, with all that this requires from us in terms of being willing to pay the price so we can overcome our own resistance. That kind of overcoming is going to take more movement than just the hands, or minor actions, that would allow us to remain in one place, so to speak.
Burning | This symbolizes the fire of love—that spark that contains sacrifice, purification, everything. It’s the burning spark that is contained in every organism, in everything that lives. If we let this spark free so that it becomes a burning flame—instead of trying to bury it in ashes—we will ignite that divine spark in others.
What did Jesus mean when he said, “Unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of Man and drink of his blood, he has no life in you”?
Ok, first off, let’s be really clear, this saying is totally symbolic. The flesh means our Earth matter that we simply must accept. We can’t get out of the starting blocks without at least having a willingness to accept that life will have difficulties and obstacles. If we need to, we can start with being willing to be willing.
We tend to reject matter—we reject the reality that life is difficult—hoping to escape this using whatever means available to us, including some we aren’t even aware we are doing. Imbibing matter then—symbolized by the body of Christ, which came from man—means we say Yes to this whole Earth life and everything it entails—the good, the bad and the ugly.
The word “everything” here means everything. This is something to take into meditation. Think about what Earth life includes—what all should be accepted. Many of us reject various things—even good things—out of fear of sinning, or fear that these good things will lead to an uptick in unhappiness. The blood of Jesus symbolizes pain. We also have to drink pain, amigos.
Again, the way through is acceptance, not escape. We can accept in a healthy way, without fleeing. We can accept pain as part of the package that delivers life, given our current, albeit temporary, imperfect state. It’s the effect of what we ourselves have set in motion with our own inner causes. And if we drink the pain instead of turning our heads, we will got a shot of revival and come out of the pain. Jesus demonstrated this by his death and spiritual resurrection. That’s what is being symbolized in these words.
Another saying of Jesus has been distorted as meaning injustice. From the words in Mark 4:25, which read: “For he that hath, to him shall be given; and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.”
This refers to the principle of the vicious circle. These result wherever a deviation, misconception or conflict exists within us. And they snowball. They get bigger and bigger so that a difficult situation goes from bad to worse.
The thing that is getting worse is whatever we originally want to run away from. We create conflict through our evasions, and that brings more misery onto our heads than if we hadn’t been such chickens to begin with. The avoidance we were hoping for, using our defenses to cover our wrong thinking, has stronger repercussions than we were bargaining for. Which is exactly what Jesus was talking about.
Conversely, if we were in health and harmony—whether a little or a lot—no hardship would have come our way. We may have to see this in action to believe it. But when we start doing the work, we’ll know this. Then we will understand the true meaning of these spiritual teachings. We’ll see that God is not sitting up on a throne arbitrarily handing out reward and punishment, good and bad luck.
In our health, when we’re in alignment with reality on all levels of our being, we’ll create more and more happiness. In our fullness, we’ll attract more positive experience. On the flip side, in our soul-sickness and error, we’re not only filled with fear, pride, arrogance, ignorance and confusion, we compound these things. We’re unhappy and we spoil it for everyone around us.
So from the poor, more will be taken. The poor are the ones in darkness. The rich are the ones who see the light—who understand.
In the traditional Scriptures of Judaism and Islam, the texts are specific regarding the consumption of fish, flesh and fowl. It is commanded that “of their flesh shall we not eat.” Christianity, however, has no ban against pork. But then in the fifteenth verse of Matthew, Jesus said, “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth the man, but that which cometh out of the mouth.” However, during Lent, dietary restrictions are observed by Christians. What gives?
The dietary laws given so long ago were at a time when scientific and hygienic information was so insufficient that this type of information was disseminated by way of religion. These laws were dictated only by sanitary or health reasons. Later in history, when the circumstances changed, these laws did as well. Today, it would be folly for religion to set up such rules. They never had anything to do with spiritual life but were merely safeguards to protect public health.
So this raises an interesting question then, doesn’t it. Why would we cling to them as a spiritual necessity? Well, doing so shows a gross misunderstanding about what true spirituality is. It also shows a disinclination to think. This is the superficial approach preferred by many people.
It could happen that scientists today discover a certain condition, perhaps something like air quality, that would make it necessary for everyone to observe certain laws for as long as those conditions prevail. But when the winds change, so to speak, those laws can be eliminated. To continue them without any purpose wouldn’t make a lot of sense.
Regarding the symbolic meaning of Lent, this was to give people a time for introspection, purifying their systems physically as well as on other levels—the outer, of course, being a symbol of the inner. To combine the purification of the body and soul is healthy, assuming it is done with the right individual intention and not as a blind adherence to dogma.
When dogma appears, it shows rigidity and a lack of self-responsibility in being willing to think for ourselves. When this happens, whatever it is, it is dead. The breath of life has gone out of it. In the case of Lent, the original symbolic meaning was about contemplation, purification, introspection and preparing for something new to come in. This influx brings a new strength to be used for reaching out.