Your eye is the lamp of your body, Luke 11:33-36.
Luke 11:33-36: Your eye is the lamp of your body.
By Peter Krey (12/27/13
with a Response by Mark (1/21/14)
and a Response of mine again to him (1/21/14).
In rereading the Gospel of Luke, it seemed rather foolish to consider Jesus merely a revolutionary peasant in the way of the Zealot, by Reza Aslan. Reading this passage and thinking about Jesus as the light of the World, as we are wont to do over Christmas, makes me realize that Jesus was enlightened and had fully become conscious of his unconscious in the experience of the fullness of self-knowledge and of others in God’s presence. Buddha can throw light on Jesus, but Jesus is not only completely enlightened personally, but also enlightening the whole people of God for the Kingdom of Heaven. Perhaps Jesus is not as individually oriented as Buddha.
No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a bushel, but on the lampstand so those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light; but if it is not healthy, your body is full of darkness. Therefore consider whether the light in you is not darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be full of light as when a lamp gives you light with its rays. (Luke 11:33-36)
Our enlightenment is for the sake of showing others the way so that they do not fall or lose their way or experience the hopeless and dumbfounding experience of the blind leading the blind. The body can also be understood as the collective of all the people as one heart and soul in Christ as well as in the body of the one person. Jesus sees a person as a beacon, as one who throws light on the path that people go and shows them the way so that they do not become lost.
Having your whole body be full of light seemed to me to refer to transfiguration as well as enlightenment. “If your eye is not healthy” – St Jerome in the Vulgate translates the Greek poneros in Latin nequam sa good for nothing or wicked, which the English “healthy” does not capture too well, even if one of the meanings could be “ill.” Sick eyes probably don’t see very well, but an eye that does not see, one that is useless, is probably what Jesus is referring to.
But comparing the eyes to a lamp for the body made me realize that we understand what our eyes do differently from the way Jesus and the people of his time understood what they do. We see the sun’s rays striking an object and that light going into our eyes and getting reflected on our lens, upside down, as we know, and then getting the recognition of its image in our brain. The eyes function, but they are passive, in our view, and the light external to them is active. Jesus saw the eyes the other way around; they were the active light shining inside the body but also shining outside and not merely seeing by means of the light outside. Sometimes pictures by the ancients showed beams of light coming out of the eyes of a seer. The seeing was not just sight but much more: perhaps spirit, faith, and knowledge. Thus this sight could also be involved in a change of mind that not only saw the world in a different light, but also changed the world by the way the eyes of the heart and mind saw the world.
“Eyes that do not see, ears that do not hear, and a heart that does not understand” refers to useless eyes and a true seer or prophet had eyes, ears, and a heart that penetrated seeing with the light in which we see light. (Psalm 36) Thus God said, “Let there be light” and there was light before the creation of the sun, moon, and stars.
Immanuel Kant spoke of his Copernican revolution in how we know things. David Hume awakened him from his dogmatic slumbers. Hume thought the mind was a tabula rasa, a blank slate upon which impressions from the outside marked and filled the passive mind. Kant said it was just the opposite. The active mind worked on the sensations out there actively shaping them for comprehension and grasp of the invisible hand, so that the representations of the senses could be perceived and reasoned and thought. When Jesus refers to the eyes as a lamp, he is making the spirit, what Kant called the mind, and what is sometimes called our consciousness, active the way Immanuel Kant did.
But Jesus is speaking about more than the mind, even though his call to repentance means a metanoia or a change of heart and mind. He sees the eyes as working when they participate in that light in which we see light. To merely speak about that as consciousness or even God consciousness does not take the presence of God into account and the Kingdom of heaven that Jesus is proclaiming, unless we subscribe to a Jungian collective consciousness. Really it is faith and that not merely understood as our trust but ultimately as faith or the light of the world, Christ as the Holy Spirit living and acting through us. “Your faith has made you well,” Jesus never tires of saying and that means the light of God shining in you and on you and making you well again, somewhat like our soaking in vitamin C while basking in our sunlight.
In the German Christmas Eve sermon this year I realized our living room became transfigured into the Christmas room by the candles burning on the tinsel laden Christmas tree and all the glowing and glistening candles and decorations with the presents lying all around us. Christ had a body full of light and no part of it was in darkness. We often are full of darkness without any light in us, except physical light. In that sermon I quoted hymns that identified the darkness with depression, sorrow, suffering, pain, sin, evil, death and destruction. The light was identified with life, love, forgiveness, compassion, and bliss and the light overcame the darkness.
The metaphors for Christ went from the light of the world, to the Sun of Righteousness, the Sun of Grace, and the Christmas Sun. Luther noted that God spread a heaven of grace over believers, from which God would never shut them out. God’s steadfast love and faithfulness endures forever. (Psalm 117) Christ, the Sun of Grace belongs up in that heaven of grace, making the dawn break on our day full of grace in our transfigured space and time. So for those who revere the name of God the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. (Malachi 4:2) And the friends of God are like the sun when she rises in all her splendor. (Judges 5:31)
Perhaps Plato can help us. He felt that there was another invisible sun, far greater than the merely physical one up in the sky. It was the form of forms, the sun that was the source of intelligence that shone with goodness, truth, and beauty. (I would add life, the source of life and intelligence.) For Plato, although that sun was invisible, it was the really real and it was the true source of all the merely physical copies seen with our physical eyes. Thus in the metaphor of the cave, to be completely captured by the physical sun, was to only see shadows, and to rise up and become enlightened, the way Socrates was, and the way Jesus was, would mean to come out of the darkness of the cave, where mere shadows and reflections could only be seen and up into the sunlight of that sun that was the source of life, intelligence, of thought, of seeing oneself and knowing oneself and seeing the world and knowing the world for what it really is.
So God and the kingdom of heaven is within us and through faith in the light of the world, Jesus Christ, the light shining in the darkness which the darkness has not been able to overcome, is the one who calls us to repent for the Kingdom of heaven at hand. Jesus calls us to have a change of heart and mind and get out of the cave and into the sunlight of the faith in God that heals, gives new life, reveals the real nature of the world, seeing the whole world and all the people in it in a new light, in which we and this whole world become transfigured.
Luther first sees faith as the foreman of all good works, then the captain, and finally as the pure act of God in, with, under, and through us. So faith means the Holy Spirit working in bringing healing, new life, continual reincarnation, as we become Christs to others by our baptisms and rebirths in the continuous creation by God, who is not finished with us nor this world yet.
|3:06 PM (3 hours ago)|
I really enjoyed your paper about the Eye as the Lamp of the Body that was inspired by the passage from Luke. It has been especially nice to read since I am 6 or so chapters deep into Zealot by Reza Aslan.
I will outline all of my thoughts, comments and the one or two typos I found below. Everything I state will be organized by page number…
( page 1) “[Jesus] had fully become conscious of his unconscious in the experience of the fullness of self knowledge and of other’s in God’s presence.”
– Does this mean that Jesus had become aware of the power of one’s own unconscious (i.e. that it shapes the world) and/or he had become aware that he in fact was God’s consciousness?
( page 1) “… Jesus is not only completely enlightened personally, but also enlightening the whole people of God for the Kingdom of Heaven.”
– Jesus then attains enlightenment by enlightening the world around him, or his own enlightenment is the product of having enlightened the world around him. For example: seeing God in his neighbor.
( page 1) ” Perhaps Jesus is not as individually oriented as Buddha.”
– Jesus is the enlightened one, who is the enlightening of all people!
( page 1) ” Jesus sees a person as a beacon,”
– This inspired me to think that the word beacon could be interchangeable with Christ. Thus when we are a beacon for others it is like we are saying we are a christ for others. That is a very fascinating idea you put forth there, Dad, and it’s very well worded.
( page 2) When you mention that Saint Jerome translates the poneros as wicked and good for nothing, I think that paints a very different picture of how someone’s eye is capable of being. Good for nothing almost sounds like the eye is defiant or a degenerate.
( page 2) And further down the page you state “… but an eye that does not see, one that is useless, is probably what Jesus is referring to.”
– That brought to mind that some people ( perhaps atheists) see all of God’s creation around them, yet they do not see God’s creation as miraculous and holy and they fail to see God’s promises and consciousness within those around them in their life.
( page 2) The second paragraph on the second page captures perfectly the ideas you originally expressed to me that day as we walked through Andronico’s and I am satisfied with the way it is verbalized. ( The Sun reflecting light off of objects versus our own inner sun emitting a ray of our inner light that reflects off an object and gives the whole world purpose and order)
“seeing” by means of the light within, and that sight being perhaps spirit, faith and knowledge, as you state at the bottom of page two. Excellent!
( page 3) “When Jesus refers to the eyes as a lamp, he is making the spirit, what Kant called the mind, and what is sometimes called our consciousness, active the way Immanuel Kant did.”
– That’s a wonderful way of putting it! Jesus activates the mind!!! Incredible that he was talking about this stuff in first century Judea no less!
( Page 4) I thought it was very interesting that you make sure to include the participation of God the Father “To merely speak about that as consciousness or even God consciousness does not take the presence of God into account and the kingdom of Heaven that Jesus is proclaiming”
– So we don’t want our own consciousness / lamp to overshadow that of God’s consciousness. God is still ultimately in charge.
( page 4) “Really it is faith and not merely understood as our trust but ultimately as faith or the light of the world, Christ as the Holy Spirit living and acting through us… the light of God shinning in you and on you and making you well again… [like basking in sunlight ands absorbing vitamin C]”
– This passage was very interesting to me, because firstly it gave me a more unique understanding of the trinity, in that it is the “Christ”part of Jesus that traverses the hearts and minds of people making a home in them.
(made heavens and earth and all of life)
(God taking on the form of human consciousness / flesh / bone)
(that consciousness of God that is somewhat conceivable to the human race. That consciousness that resided in Jesus of Nazareth, that can now reside in us through Faith)
– The part about the light of God shinning in you and on you and making you well again (Like the sun and vitamin C) reminded me a little bit of the idea that when we have the Holy Spirit, God can take us (as sinful as we are) and still use us for God’s will. God writes straight on crooked lines as you say 🙂
( page 4) “Christ had a body full of light and no part of it was in darkness.”
– Do you think it’s possible during times of temptation for Christ, like when he was in the desert being tempted by Satan, that he was struggling with some darkness in his body? Perhaps it was a darkness that was inherent in him simply because of his human form. It’s just an idea. I’m not even sure where I stand on that idea.
( page 5) The whole section where you compare Plato’s cave to the eye being the lamp of the body concept, is really great! You take your whole idea a step further and illustrate it in a very effective way. With the comparison to Plato, you begin to paint a picture of a heavenly realm. Perhaps we are a step closer to seeing that realm glimmer through this earthly realm we dwell in.
( page 6) “Jesus calls us to have a change of heart and mind and get out of the cave and into the sunlight of the faith in God that heals, gives new life, reveals the real nature of the world, seeing the whole world and all the people in it in a new light, in which we and this whole world become transfigured.”
– The tradition of calling Jesus “the way, the truth and the life”, almost sounds prophetic to Plato’s cave allegory. Jesus is our path out of the cave into the sunlight of the really real as you state so beautifully. Because Christ incarnated onto this Earth, we have found a way to leave the cave and transfigure the world through him. I would think that if we as human kind meditated on this idea, that we could achieve a paradigm shift of the Earth’s consciousness.
( page 6) I was very interested in your usage of the words reincarnation and rebirths. I’d love for you to expand on that and tell me more in regards to what you mean when relating it to Faith, God’s Healing, Being Christs For Others and God’s Continuous Creation.
In that book you got me about reincarnation I read a wonderful story:
A God Sage named Narada came from heaven down to earth on a journey which was customary for him. One day he was passing by a man who was meditating in the wilderness and he had been sitting and meditating so long that ants had built a mound around him. He asked Narada “Ask the God of Heaven when he will be merciful to me and when I will attain freedom.” Further down the road Narada ran into another man who was singing and dancing. When the man found that Narada was going to heaven he asked Narada “Ask when I shall attain freedom”.
Some time later Narada was on the same road and he found the man meditating and the ant hill had completely grown around him. He asked Narada “What did God say? When will I attain freedom?”. Narada told the man “Four more births” and the man began to weep and wail and he cried “I have been mediating until an ant hill has been raised around me and I still have to live four more lives?”
Narada continued down the road and ran into the other man. The man asked “Did you ask about me?” Narada replied “Oh yes. Do you see this tamarind tree? I have to tell you that as many leaves are on this tree, so many times will you be born and then you will attain freedom”.
Then the man began to dance for joy and he said “After so short a time I shall be free!” and then a voice came “My Child, you shall have freedom this instant”.
One other idea I should share with you in regards to my reading of Zealot. Reza Aslan seems to be citing Jesus as a insurrectionist bandit in the passage of Luke where Jesus asks Peter to sell his cloak and buy a sword. Yet Aslan completely leaves out the following passage that Jesus does this so he can fulfill the scripture that said he would be counted among the lawless.
Pastor Jasa used to remind me again and again that Jesus through out scripture is going out of his way to fulfill the prophecies, so that those who know them will see that Jesus is the Messiah without having to be told.
This is comparable to what Artists in our day and age do. Some artists go as far as claiming to be the reincarnation of other artists, for instance Liam Gallagher of Oasis claimed to be the reincarnation of John Lennon. Liam went out of his way to sing like John, write songs that sound exactly like John’s songs as well as other things. He did this so people would see and believe that he was John Lennon reincarnated. Only problem was, John Lennon died six years after Liam Gallagher was born.
Regardless of that, I think Jesus ( or at least the writers of the Gospels whoever they may have been), are trying to give the reader the sign that Jesus is the Messiah and I don’t believe Jesus ever had any intention of using those swords on the centurions coming to get him.
I think he was just trying to make sure he met all the requirements of the prophetic Messiah and he even states it so it would be on the record “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled”.
I think the reason this Zealot book has been getting so much attention is because it’s a very different take on who Jesus was despite the fact I think it’s very inaccurate.
This paper on the eyes being the lamp of the body is very good. To allay your fears that you weren’t concise enough or didn’t express it as clearly as you did that day we were in Andronicos, I will tell you now that it goes above and beyond your original revelation and adds to it with Plato’s Cave. There’s nothing I would change in it, if I were you. I hope this response is something you can enjoy, Pop 🙂
1. I only understand this as the psychological definition of full human maturity. A fully mature person has made conscious his or her unconscious. Jesus also had full self-knowledge and thus also the knowledge of others. I’m not sure about the word “God consciousness, because I’m not sure about everything associated with it.
2. Page 2. “God’s promises and consciousness” works for me. The former are the Gospel and the latter is that aspect of the Holy Spirit with thoughts and ways higher than ours as the heavens are higher than the earth.
3. Going right to
4. Sure I think temptation was threatening the Light of Christ. But his light shined in the darkness and the darkness could not overcome it.
5. Going right to
6. I don’t mean a reincarnation or rebirth of some else from the past. What I mean is a continual incarnation, meaning that we become Christs as Christ is born in our hearts in our rebirth and then matures as we continue his ministry and have our own passion stories and become raised with him. But our rebirth also means become the true and unique individual selves who we were really created to be. God also did not create the world way back in the past and now is resting from creation. The creation is not finished yet. New stars are bursting into existence and out at the edge of our growth God is also not finished creating us yet. I once thought John the Baptist was a reincarnation of Elijah, but that is not a theological concept belonging to our tradition. John dressed like Elijah and resembled the spirit of Elijah, but they were two very different prophets. I think there are different conceptions of reincarnation, but the Platonic one has an eternal soul being recycled in an infinite number of bodies. In that way the individual, unique, individual person seems to become lost. Perhaps not if there are also an infinite number of souls. But we believe each person has his or her own soul. I confess that I often say that we have to be one heart and soul together in Christ. but let me go with Teilhard de Chardin: “True unity differentiates, it does not confound.” Unity does not allow conformity or uniformity. How can the same person have different lives? Sometimes in the same life, we face so many changes we feel like we already are living a different life and then a chain of another previous life is living a different life in the same life?