And they came to Bethsaida. And they brought a blind man to Jesus, and entreated Him to touch him. And taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes, and laying His hands upon him, He asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see men, for I am seeing them like trees, walking about.” Then again He laid His hands upon his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly. And He sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.” Mark 8:22-26
I’ve written lately about character disorders, which these days are called “personality disorders.” I prefer the older term “character disorder,” for to the contemporary person I think the term is more easily understood to involve a problem of the self, a difficulty with the nature of the person, the human being. We do not seem to think in terms of the person–the “person-ality”–any more. Rather, as some here have suggested, we attempt to build a better neurotic, and to help modern man adapt to the maladies of modern living. We don’t seem able to tolerate much depth at all, unless the suggestion of psychological development can be conveyed in 30-second sound bites or 15-minute talk show increments.
Many times Jesus healed people or called them to repentance and then sent them into seclusion. Some preachers have suggested that he did this because of his wish to avoid notoriety, but I don’t buy it. “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men to myself,” is not the statement of a wallflower. The development and growth of the whole self requires much time on one’s own; hence we have numerous tales of the call to adventure resulting in the hero’s separation from kith and kin, tales of journeys into the wilderness. Once healed, a person isn’t supposed to hog his healing to himself, gluttonize it, imbibe it, belch it out to his own satisfaction. Once he begins “to see everything clearly,” he is to avoid the village. Go home, the Lord said, first go home and see what is there more clearly. Learn to see. Learn to hear. Wait for the call, for it will come.
People typically gain some facility for seeing and then fill their eyes with the world and leave the Lord behind. I am writing in metaphors here, but probably you’ll know what I mean. “The dog returns to its vomit, the pig to wallowing in the mire,” Jesus also said, referring to our base natures. People may start out hoping to get some relief from their suffering and with every intention of becoming whole, but few are willing to go very far along the way because of the additional suffering imposed by consciousness. Most people get just well enough to see the hand in front of their face, then they head for the mall. Lacking the characterological courage to press forward and fight for their spiritual inheritance like Jacob, they sell their souls for a mess of pottage. Thus God speaks through the prophet in Hebrews, stating, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”
I always thought this statement to be a harsh one. God is speaking here, and He says, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” What does he mean? This was one of many difficult passages in the Bible that made me think less of God, when I regarded God as someone or something that could be captured in mere words. Lately, though, I have come to see what He may have meant in this statement, for I know some folks with Esau spirits who have, in fact, sold their birthrights for bowls of soup and whatever satisfies the body and soul but can never grow the genuine self. The genuine self is established and grown by grace, miraculous intervention, humiliating sufferings, crippling struggles, and death, burial, and resurrection. When Jesus said “I go to prepare a place for you, that you may be where I am,” he wasn’t just talking about playing a harp on some fluffy cloud somewhere. He anticipated Golgotha, the place of the skull, and we must anticipate it too if we are to get to the place where we are fit for wholeness.
Psychology is not enough, and religion is not enough. But the principles necessary for transcendence are found in both disciplines–and they are disciplines. Though psychology cannot possibly give us the stuff of God, it can show us the God-shaped place we have within. Religion can give us the symbols that can help us comprehend what this hidden life is about if it will respect them enough to retain them. But giving sight to the blind is a God thing. We must pray for grace and then be Jacobs willing to grab God by the heel, wrestle with him until we get his blessing.
Jung said that the soul is “an eye destined to behold the light,” and had this to say about inner vision:
Were it not a fact of experience that supreme values reside in the soul, psychology would not interest me in the least, for the soul would then be nothing but a miserable vapour. I know, however, from hundredfold experience that it is nothing of the sort, but on the contrary contains the equivalents of everything that has been formulated in dogma and a good deal more, which is just what enables it to be an eye destined to behold the light. This requires limitless range and unfathomable depth of vision. I have been accused of deifying the soul. Not I but God himself has deified it! I did not attribute a religious function to the soul, I merely produced the facts which prove that the soul is naturaliter religiosa, i.e., possesses a religious function. I did not invent or insinuate this function, it produces itself of its own accord without being prompted thereto by any opinions or suggestions of mine. With a truly tragic delusion these theologians fail to see that it is not a matter of proving the existence of the light, but of blind people who do not know that their eyes could see.
It is high time we realized that it is pointless to praise the light and preach it if nobody can see it. It is much more needful to teach people the art of seeing. For it is obvious that far too many people are incapable of establishing a connection between the sacred figures and their own psyche: they cannot see to what extent the equivalent images are lying dormant in their own unconscious. In order to facilitate this inner vision we must first clear the way for the faculty of seeing. How is this to be done without psychology, that is, without making contact with the psyche, is frankly beyond my comprehension. (Since it is a question here of human effort, I leave aside acts of grace which are beyond man’s control).
Another equally serious misunderstanding lies in imputing to psychology the wish to be a new and possibly heretical doctrine. If a blind man can gradually be helped to see it is not to be expected that he will at once discern new truths with an eagle eye. One must be glad if he sees anything at all, and if he begins to understand what he sees. (CW Vol. 12, Par. 14-15)