10 of 19

Can you 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.”

The Guide: The meaning of these words has been grossly misunderstood by humankind. It has been interpreted to mean that God is a punishing, cruel God of retribution. Of course, it is not so and the words were never meant to imply this. The real meaning simply affirms the utter justice of cosmic law, or of your inner psychological law. The more you work on the path of self-finding, the more you are bound to find this to be so very true.

You will find how you cause all your difficulties. You have already stopped regarding these words as mere theory, but the better you progress, the more will you truly understand just how and why you cause your hardships. By so doing, you gain the key to a change in your life.

Most of you have begun this self-search in good faith, yet at this early stage you can barely see how you are responsible for your misfortunes and, therefore, how just this universe is. Only when you reach certain inner depths, perhaps after a long time of hard and sincere endeavor, do you begin to see clearly what in you has so precisely brought about the hardship that you feel as injustice.

The more connections of this sort you make, the better you can realize the true meaning of self-responsibility and of divine justice, without any thought of punishment and retribution. You begin to understand that whatever you give forth, no matter how hidden or subtle, is returned to you. And you deeply feel and know that this is not due to a stiff, rigid, merciless law – but it is your own inner law.

In that you realize the glory of God’s love and wisdom. The better you understand your own causes and effects, the more convinced must you become of the marvel of this benign Creation. That is the meaning of these words. The various items cited in this saying are, of course, symbolic. If you want me to, I shall explain the meaning of these symbols.

Eye: The eye symbolizes seeing, the capacity to see, not only outwardly, but also the inner view and vista. In other words, understanding. The more you understand yourself, the better you understand others. You know this. But also, the more you understand, the better you will be understood. This truth may have dawned on some of you as you made real progress and the haze and fog of your confusion lifted.

As the fog lifts, your real self reveals itself automatically and others perceive you in truth as well. There is no better or other way of finding this to be true than through the path of self-searching, self-understanding and self-analysis. Any one of you who has reached some victory within will understand exactly what I mean – not only theoretically, but through having experienced this truth. Your real seeing and understanding begin only when you see and understand yourself. And in that measure will you be understood.

With such understanding, you will see that the meaning of these words has a positive, rather than a negative implication. It does not mean: “If you do wrong, you will be punished by retribution.” It means: “As you see and understand yourself and others, so you make it possible, by lifting the veil, to be seen and understood.”

Life: If you heal yourself of your conflicts, if you integrate and become one within yourself, you become alive – vibrantly alive. To a small extent those of my friends who really work on this Path have experienced this to be true. Perhaps you experienced it only temporarily; nevertheless you know what I am talking about. You understand these words in a deeper sense than just as theory.

There were those moments of finding the truth within yourself when, all of a sudden, your weariness, your deadness was lifted from you. You vibrate life. You are life. And therefore you give life to others. The life force penetrates through you and finds you an instrument through which to manifest only when you are alive, when you are the life force. You have a life-giving effect on others. Life can only coexist with truth.

Where the truth is blurred by your fear, cowardice and the erroneous belief that life can be dealt with by evasion, deadness results. No matter how unpleasant the temporary truth in you may be, facing it results in a vibrant feeling of being alive. Most of you know this from your own experience in this work.

Tooth: What is a tooth? You need your teeth to bite, to chew, to prepare the physical food so that your body can assimilate it. The intrinsic meaning of a tooth is that of an instrument of assimilation. As you properly assimilate life, incidents could truly become an experience, and you are bound to exert a similar effect on others. On the other hand, your lack of assimilation causes blindness.

Your blindness in turn must create blindness toward you. I have said that before in connection with the eye – seeing, understanding. But the tooth refers specifically to the process that makes it possible to see while the eye symbolizes the end result. Some time ago, I mentioned the contagiousness of inner attitudes and reactions. All this is an explanation of that factor.

If you train yourself to follow this through in your observations, you will gain an entire understanding of this meaning. You are so often puzzled by certain situations in your life. You cannot assimilate this situation because you have as yet not found how you caused it.

Only in understanding the causes that you have set in motion will you be able properly to assimilate your life. Whenever you are puzzled, it means that you have not properly understood and assimilated the experience. This creates negative emotions which are bound to affect your environment.

People who live with this attitude will tackle any event coming their way in an entirely different spirit than people who still ascribe certain happenings to a fate outside their control. People understanding and living according to this truth will take any event and examine it profoundly as to their real reactions and hidden trends.

If done sincerely, astonishing insights must follow – perhaps not immediately, but insights must come if you persevere. You will then see that the negative result is the only medicine, the only remedy you need to change the underlying incorrect attitude. This, and this alone, is proper assimilation of life and its experiences. You often suffer because others do not understand you. I assure you that this only happens because in some way you have not assimilated life as it could be possible for you.

Some of you, my friends, have experienced that people in your environment suddenly began to react differently toward you, even though they themselves did not pursue such a path. The mere fact of your own inner growth and change has made it possible for others around you to react more positively toward you.

To the measure that you assimilate, to that measure do you affect others, and subtly enable them, to a degree, also to assimilate a little better.

Hand: What does a hand stand for? Has anyone of you an idea? {Giving. Friendship. Action. Taking.}

Taking and giving. Yes. All that. Action includes all that – and more. The hand is the instrument with which you do, manufacture, execute an idea; with which you give, take, receive; which can be extended in friendship. Hence, the symbol of the hand represents a certain type of action, and therefore also “re-action.” As you act and react, so will be given onto you.

I hardly need elaborate on this. You all know it to be true, not only as a known religious concept, but also from your personal work experience as you work on yourself. This is very different from the concept of retribution. Thoughts and emotions are actions and reactions too. They inevitably have an effect on others and this effect comes back to you.

Foot: What is a foot? {Moving. Standing on. Progress.} Again, activity, but of a different kind. Let us examine the difference in activity between hand and foot. The hand’s activity is of a nature that may take place without causing a change of position of the person himself. People can produce, manufacture and do things with their hands while they remain in place. This symbolizes a certain kind of inner action. Such actions may be significant and important, but only cumulatively so.

If a whole series of such actions is added up, they point to an inherent pattern; they show an underlying principle and concept of life. In different words, the actions of the hand symbolize your everyday activities and reactions – the outer and the inner – the many little, in themselves seemingly unimportant events, and your attitude to them.

The activity of the feet, however, symbolizes movement of the entire person – or lack of it if you stand still. This can be positive in the sense of taking a firm stand, of not running away. Or it can be negative in the sense of a standstill, or stagnation. The feet involve the entire body – or person. In psychological terms, applied to your life, the movement of your feet symbolizes major changes, decisions, attitudes.

All life is differentiated between these two kinds of actions: the actions that are of minor importance if they are not a repeated pattern – passing, fleeting ones, those that do not necessarily involve your innermost being, unless they are a repeated pattern. It is the action that does not necessarily affect the inner being. The outer being, perhaps.

This is not to be taken to mean that such actions do not produce effects that come back to you. The major actions – feet – symbolize decisive change, great decisions, self-propelling movement – or the lack of it. These actions determine your spiritual stand, your basic attitude toward all major issues of life.

I need hardly emphasize again that one’s conscious attitude is not necessarily the real inner and unconscious one. It determines whether or not you choose the way upward – with all that this calls for in order to pursue it – willing to pay the price by overcoming a special resistance. Such overcoming necessitates more movement or action than just the minor ones of your hands that allows you to remain in place, so to speak.

Needless to say that such major activity has an even greater effect on yourself and others around you than the minor actions and reactions. The major activity establishes your place in life, your major events. With it you build your fate, and with it you determine the minor actions and reactions.

Burning: Do you have any idea what it could symbolize? {Sacrifice. Purification. Inner desire for development.}

The fire of love. The burning of being alive, of action, of doing in the right, organic way. It contains all of what you said. Love, sacrifice, purification, everything – that spark, that burning spark contained in all living organisms. If you let this spark free to become a burning flame, instead of burying it in ashes, you will incite the spark in others. That is the divine spark.

You mentioned an “inner psychological law.” Would you explain that, please?

The Guide: Whether you call it psychological or cosmic law makes no difference. It is one and the same. However, when I refer to “cosmic law,” you automatically think of something that is way outside yourself. When I say “psychological law,” you automatically associate it with yourself, as you should. The latter directs your thinking and feeling and perceiving into a more correct channel; you assume self-responsibility when you know it is you, your own law.

But “cosmic law” seems to you as if it were something that has nothing to do with you. It seems instituted from the outside, and you have no influence over it. This is an error, even if it is only in a vague feeling. In reality, the two are the same.

As you have already stated, this whole text is taken out of its setting and given a distorted meaning. It suggests a negative fear as though this is the rule by which one is to be governed and to retaliate by the justification of Scripture.

The Guide: Of course. It is a typical human misunderstanding to think of this in terms of retaliation, rather than in terms of cause and effect due to a wonderfully just law that is mercy, grace, wisdom and love.

In Matthew 5:38, Jesus says: “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.”

The Guide: Yes. Understanding the real meaning of the quotation we are discussing here will show you that Jesus’ statement is not a contradiction at all. It may seem so, it may seem like a paradox on the one hand, or a correction on the other. It is neither. It is merely an amplification, an extension.

With the understanding that you gain on this Path, you are bound to see that all evil is self-created, and thus it is your lesson and medicine. It is the only way in which you can learn to liberate yourself from the responsible inner factors. Resisting evil, translated into terms of your personal life and reactions, means your cringing from the consequences you are directly or indirectly responsible for, therefore not learning from life.

It is the attitude in which you blame others, God, fate, life, rather than finding your own causes. It is withdrawal from life, or antagonism against it, due to failure to understand life’s real meaning. “Resisting evil” means all that. As long as you resent certain happenings in your life, as long as you disclaim responsibility for such happenings, you cannot even begin to set out finding this responsibility. Thus you are not in reality, in its true sense.

By facing yourself squarely and courageously, you must eventually find your causes and be liberated by this insight. You do not have to look to past incarnations, for if you really want to, you can always find in yourself, in the present, the root that has caused an “evil.” So this saying of Jesus is no contradiction, but serves only to extend and amplify the meaning.

All sayings in the Scriptures have a much deeper meaning than their surface suggests. If you grasp this deeper meaning you will gain an entirely different understanding of Scripture.

Next Bible Verse

Return to Bible Verses Explained Overview
Return to Keys Table of Contents