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Can you shed some light on the nature of the symbolic language used in the Bible? For example, in a passage like this: “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee, for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into Hell.” To take it literally would, of course, be disastrous and I am sure it is not meant that way. However it does have a harshness to it and I personally react angrily and rebelliously to it. How is it really meant to be read and interpreted – in the spirit of love?
The Guide: The true meaning of this saying is, of course, that anything that keeps you from your ultimate fulfillment, in all respects and on all levels, should be cast out and denied. This refers to an attitude, a thought, an opinion, an act, and obviously not to a physical organ. A physical organ in itself could never have such an effect on the personality.
Specifically the eye symbolism applies to distorted vision of life, of God, or Creation, of things the way they really are. The strong language attempts to emphasize the severity of the consequences when man turns away from the truth of God’s laws in self-will, stubbornness and pride, in lack of faith and in the fear that God’s laws will not do right by him.
The immense damage he inflicts upon himself in that way by far outweighs the pain of even a loss of an eye or other physical organs. This particular symbolism merely tries to stress the relationship of these elements that man sees in such a blurred way.