The eye is the lamp of the body. It is by the eye that the mind is able to receive the world. Continuing so: if the eye then is flawed, the mind will have a faulty perception of reality, and still, if the mind is flawed, then the mind will create and store within itself hidden falsies. If these distorted assertions were individual disconnected premises that had no bearing on a man’s soul then the mistaken view of the world would be excusable. The issue then arises from the understanding that it is through the conception of these distortions and the process by which they were conceived that the voice of the Designer is dulled. The accumulation of wrongful perceptions of the world, of others, and of the self creates an unstable foundation for a person’s existence. The weak foundation is built on with more bricks until the structure entirely collapses. But if it is the relationship between the eye and the mind that allows for the processing of the external world, by what system if any does the external world process the internal being?
The physician-writer responds in perfect medical and philosophical terms when he say: “out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). He acknowledges that within the confines of the heart are stored what has been accumulated from the world. He then asserts that it is through a man’s words that this accumulation, mixed with his perceptions, is reciprocated. It is at this juncture that our job begins. Through a man’s words, the educated and loving listener can learn and detect the motivations of the soul, the misconceptions about the self and the world, and the potential diseases of the mind. In speaking about the parable of the talents, our late Patriarchal Father, Pope Shenouda III, says: “the mind is a ‘talent’ that can be ‘lost’. In the case of sin, there is found within the mind a wrongful understanding.” He continues: “The mind is not stable.”
It then becomes our job as servants and stewards of truth to uncover the flawed systems of perception in those whom we serve: by listening. By listening we are able to peer through the window of the heart and see deep into the concealed layers of a struggling soul. By listening we can not only detect the impairments of individual thoughts but also the process by which these thoughts are wrongfully collected and formulated. Listening, understanding, and conveying understanding becomes for us the vehicle by which the “doctor” can “reach” the “patient.”
Hearing the specific word choice, the ordering of ideas, and the tone of voice, the listening poses the question: “Why does he chose to say what he is saying in this manner?” Watching the patient is equally important: “based the hands, the posture, and the facial expression, what is the confidence level contained within his own words? Does he believe his own words or does he seeks attention?” Attention can even be paid to those thoughts and ideas that are skipped, omitted, or briefly touched on by the speaker: “Why did he not say…? Was a thought glanced over for the sake subtly or embarrassment, or maybe because of some unknown fear?” Over time the good listener can begin to uncover the idiosyncratic use of the patient’s language, emotion and movement. It is only at this point where the listener can speak; speak in order to first break down the collapsing building in a safe way and uprooting the unstable foundation.
Seeing, hearing, and detecting the inner unconscious conflicts, the hidden distortions, and the faulty association, is a difficult task that was laid upon us. It is a slow process requiring much time and persistence. Fortunately, along with being the “True Physician,” He is also the perfect teacher-listener.
But as important as all this may be, something is still more pressing. The question bodes: who now can preform these acts on themselves?
Who can listen and detect their own faulty conceptions of the world?
Who can hear the mind suppressing the spirit for its own gain?
Who of us can detect the body when it attempts to protect itself from the uneasiness of service and the help for other?
Who is able to attend to the “craftiness of the mind” when it yearns to fall into sin?
More… Who can listen so closely to their own thoughts that they can retrace the Designer’s thoughts deep within the soul uncovering His voice within us?