Jesus on the Beam and Splinter

   There is a teaching of Jesus that is on the same topic as that considered in the writing of Carl Jung on the shadow. Regardless of what one thinks about the Jesus question, this is the best teaching in all of psychology regarding the first or lowest level of the soul, and this ought be accessible to those on the internet. If it is not accessible, one is inclined to say, nothing of psychology can be discussed in any way in so public a forum without doing more harm than good.

   The teaching, from Matthew 7:3-5 and Luke 6:32, is that of the beam and splinter. In Matthew, it follows immediately upon the teaching of measure for measure:

   Or why do you see the splinter that is in the eye of your brother, but the beam in your own eye, you do not observe? Or how will you say to your brother, allow me to cast the splinter from your eye, while also not seeing the beam in your own eye? And when you will look through to cast the beam from the eye, (then too that) of your brother.

Jung calls this the shadow and the projection of the shadow, where we relate to our own sin and deficiency in projection in relation to our fellows. Two pages early in the book Aion (CW vol.9 #2) might be his best discussion of the matter, and it recurs throughout his teaching. The shadow is illustrated by the difficulty humans have in arguing. Conversation that aims toward learning is simply impossible for most people, because of self interest and a certain attachment to our own thoughts. This is why, as has been said, the liberal arts and the virtues of conversation have to be cultivated. It is a great error to try to talk to people who are not capable of liberal learning and conversation, but then if one were to observe what seems to be the rule to be drawn from this, we simply have almost no one ever to whom to speak. But many hours are wasted, and a great many opportunities for learning gone into the past because we have not a clue as to how to govern ourselves, nor does it occur to the vast most that such a thing is even possible. We spend our lives, ethically speaking, fighting shadows, quarreling in opposition against defects or vices in others that may or may not truly be there, while this whole way of living or relating is from the start fruitless.

   A careful translation reveals many subtleties which we have tried to render by being a bit more literal. At first, from the English, I had a teaching that one cannot remove the beam from your brother’s eye, but only the splinter, and that one must remove the beam from one’s own eye, so that if the beam were to be removed from your brother’s eye, he must cast it out himself. And this may describe what we try to do fruitlessly. This meaning may well be in there, implied by what is said, but it is not quite the primary meaning of what is being said. Dia-Blepseis, to look through, is a word used also by Plato. Combined with katanoeis, this is one key. Kata-noeis, translated “perceive,” is also observe, or consider carefully.

   The phrases repeated in the translations, because they are implied, are simply not in the Greek text. What is there in the Greek instead is the immediacy of the casting of the splinter from your brother’s eye upon looking through to cast the beam from the eye, and it does not even say “your” eye, but it is now suddenly the beam and eye in general. (Then, that) of your brother.

   This passage  in Matthew and Luke is related to another, in Matthew 6:22(-34)

   The lamp of the body is the eye. If then your eye is sound, your whole body is lit. But if your eye is bad, the whole of your body is darkened. If then the light in you is dark, how much is the darkness?…

You cannot serve God and wealth. Therefore, do not be anxious about your life…

6 thoughts on “Jesus on the Beam and Splinter

  1. One interesting note: When I attended a Baptist reading of a certain book of scripture, I eventually had to stop going, as it became clear to others that I was not obedient sort. It was said of me- because I had painstakingly translated the entire book of the Revelation and made my own interlinear copy just to use for my own commentary- that I was “writing my own Bible,” or some such drivel. This is because these Baptists wish to assume that the King James translation is divinely inspired, and so to read the words in the original Greek as these were written by St. John, well, such disobedience, we must send this one away! I was not actually sent away, but was dishonored by a leading member, and would have had to respond in order to return. That church is dying, with no younger members at all, although there are some very good members, and they could do a great deal of good about the neighborhood. Another member, though, a very dedicated follower of Jesus, hates his neighbors the Muslims up the street, all for the love the Lord.

    One truly must wonder why these have rejected the obedience required of Catholics, causing division in the Western Church, if they are simple going to ignore Roger Williams, the first American Baptist, and impose a human authority over the church. Is it OK, then, with you’all, if we note that there is a difference between Zoa and Tharion that does not come through in the King James, etc? Or do you say here that with my translation, I am not getting closer to the original words of Jesus, but rather writing my own Bible? This is a question you’all will have to face sooner or later. For myself, I wish we could go from the Greek to the Aramaic, and from there to the Hebrew, but those who could teach us Hebrew have been despised by the Christians for two thousand plus years, so that to find some willing will be difficult.

    Again, in the Gospel of Thomas, saying 26, it is written, and translated from the Coptic:

    “Guard your brother like the pupil of your eye”

  2. Since non-wordpress users are blocked from commenting, and wordpress users do not have much to say (with just a couple exceptions), I will comment again on my own posting.

    Jesus said “If your eye is sound, your whole body is lit,” or, “full of light” (I have to work a bit more on this Greek word). Regarding the relation between intellectual and ethical virtue, Aristotle writes: “…but once he acquires intelligence, it makes a great difference in his action. At that point, the natural characteristic will become that virtue in the full sense which it previously resembled….Now, virtue in the full sense cannot be attained without practical wisdom (Ethics, VI.13,1144b12-17). “Ethical weakness does not occur in the presence of knowledge” (VII.4). Again, “A man of practical wisdom (phronemos) is ipso facto a man of good character (spoudaikos). (Translations by Martin Ostwald). What we have done is to translate the words of Jesus into the terms of Socratic philosophy, on this wonderful and beautiful point of the relation between intellectual and ethical virtue, or philosopher and King. Ethical virtue is the ordering of the passions and the body. Intellectual virtue is the goodness of the mind, and as the famous teaching of a former professor goes, “Intelligence (nous) deals with ultimates at both ends of the scale. It is intelligence, not reasoning, that has as its objects primary terms and definitions as well as ultimate particulars…Hence, one must have perception of particular facts, and this perception is intelligence” (VI.11, 1143a 35-1143b 5). Nous sees both the first principle and the one thing to be done in the particular circumstance. Nous sees the good both in thought and action, and it is “the good” that joins the things of the body and the things of the mind and soul. That is why the dualism or division in thought between body and mind is, well, limited. And need we add that this is also why the Machiavellian teaching and impulse or motivation is wrong, barbaric and wicked? He is so smart he is illiberal, or no longer a teacher of the arts that shape a free man! Aristotle is right about the body and practical wisdom, while Machiavelli is simply fundamentally wrong about the human things and the nature of the cosmos, spending all his strength against a certain artifact, a shadow and an error that results when idiots and morons get hold of the Christian teaching. They want everyone to think that the essence of the teaching of Jesus is some “world rejection” or failure to take into account the cruelty supposedly necessary in fighting wars, or some such drivel, a drivel, though, which may be worth considering with regard to the reflection of Christianity when the West makes a law out of the light, and a legislator out of the savior. One proof of what I have said is that these Machiavellians are now prepared to destroy the whole world, and could not care less, beyond their own power.

    And the Christian preachers thought Jesus was talking literally about healing the body of maladies and infirmities! Again, he does these miracles so that those seeing him might believe he has authority or liberty to forgive sins.

    But the American mind is buried in the mud of the barbaric bog, and cannot care for anything other than the body, wealth and power as a first principle. As Bloom notes too regarding our obsession with anti-smoking, all ethics has been replaced with bodily health as the one thing truly good by nature that can be publicly agreed upon amid our great self-satisfying “tolerance.”

    Hence, I am right and Donald Campbell is wrong on the Question discussed behind the altar of the Fountain Street Church: There is both Intellectual and ethical good and right, and, unfortunately, both ethical and intellectual perversion and evil. Machiavelli, Nietzsche, Marx and now Islamic terrorism are based on intellectual perversions. The same is Satanism. Communism, Nazism, and “Islamic State” are political and ethical tyrannies based upon the modern Western intellectual perversions, and this is why they are far more wicked than the old garden varieties of tyranny, which were the rule not of “ideologies'” but of a single man.

    Let me thank the Earhart foundation and all my former professors for preventing a proposed study of Tyranny some ten years ago. God forbid this be done by one so bad at writing and spelling! We appeal, then to all those who do get jobs and grants to get us out of the present predicament, and enlighten us about the true nature of tyranny!

    Shalom and Charis!

  3. I can imagine the Baptist people would have been shocked at your audacity or lack of obeying the rules. Like you rightly said, it’s indeed one of greatest teachings of Jesus Christ. How can you judge someone else when you are not blameless?

    • Something more is being said than, for example, we cannot judge murderers. It is measure for measure, as we forgive we are forgiven, because of this mysterious thing about the human soul, that we relate to ourselves in our relations to others. Therefore love one another is the new commandment and the last teaching of St. John. And therefore the wicked are inflicting punishment on themselves when they hurt another. The immortal soul seeks self-knowledge, and that seems to be the cause of the “projection-making factor.” The natural impulse toward self knowledge is one of the deeper things revealed by this, the basis of the golden rule, when one gets to thinking about it. Otherwise, logically, the golden rule might imply that they Saints should treat others as martyrs, since that is how the saints wish to be treated- but it is not true in this way. It of course does not mean we are to pretend that there is no sin and vice, but the salutary teaching to refrain from judging at all is probably better for most people, who are not capable of ethical judgement and could not care less. How indeed could the Protestants judge well enough to leave the Catholic authority despite murder and the molestation of the altar boys? By the same judgement, we cannot follow Baptist of any other Protestant authority either, which is again only to follow Roger Williams, and Jesus, who said “Do not swear at all…

  4. Finally, I would like to return to try to bring the teaching of Jesus together with the Jungian teaching on the shadow. The shadow is first the personal unconscious, the Freudian unconscious, of the Id or unrecognized appetites or desires and repressed memories. But the projection of the shadow, as Jesus teaches, is a function of the mind, the social or political nature, and an attribute of the soul.
    Jung writes: The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge, and it therefore, as a rule, meets with considerable resistance…

    There are many proverbial difficulties and permanent, common teachings regarding the recognition of the shadow which we will collect in our chapter for the psychology book. One is that its corollary is the inflation of the ego, so that with any success at recognizing our own shadow or its projection, we congratulate ourselves, criticize the other ignorant people, and are immediately sunk deeper in the mud for trying to free ourselves.

    Another perennial teaching is that penance is a passageway or an ability we learn rather than something we are done with once and for all, forgiven and admitted into heaven. Our penance is continuous, never done, and the shadow always with us so long as we are in the sun, to be recognized or not, at different levels for higher souls, but even there for Moses. Submission and peace through submission to God is a posture, and not an artificial “sacrament” or order attained by the motions of a ceremony, let alone by submitting to a bugged confessional or the will of some radical who says submission to him is the same as submission to God. But the withdrawal and projection of the shadow are also collective in the sense that organisations and political bodies project their shadows causing wars, as Andrew McCarthy is trying to get America to do regarding Islam.

    I want to join the Jungian and Christian teaching with the three part Platonic soul from the Republic and the teaching of faction in the first book of Plato’s Republic. This will be the basis of the most accessible part of my book on psychology, the first chapter of which is available in the page titled “Psychology” on the menu of the website.

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