BE AS WISE AS SERPENTS
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves:
be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16)
The reading of American history reminds us that the states, in which we live, their institutions and laws, have come into existence through conflict, and very often, bloody conflict. To Americans, our Western culture seems to be the great determinant of how humans ought to conduct themselves. We are cultural animals who take great pride in the richness of the American lifestyle, but at the same time, as human beings, we recognize the potential for violence is “close to the skin.”
Since the end of WWII, America has had over five decades of peace and prosperity on our home soil, but lately, the stream of 24/7 news is telling a different story. These reports defy what we generally perceive as cultural normalcy, they invalidate our expectations of how the world will be tomorrow or the day after. Anyone who is paying attention realizes there is an incurable schism within the political ideologies of Congress which has spilled over, completely contaminating the American culture as well as our Christian heritage. As stated in the paper above, it is not likely that this cycle of chaos and contamination will change until it has been thoroughly exhausted, and only God knows when that will be.
As the title indicates, the subject of this paper is about Christians understanding what it means to be “as wise as serpents.” Most translations of this verse use the word shrewd instead of wise, which means acute in perception and sound in judgment; also, practical, hardheaded, clever, and wise in judgment. My experience has taught me that good-hearted Christians are somewhat naïve about the “ways of the world.” They already know how to be “harmless as doves” because they tend to see the good in everyone, which is the natural thing for a Christian to do.
However, as we move into these times of tribulation, it is perception, cleverness and wise judgment that will be needed more than innocence or harmlessness. Normally, the solution to differing perceptions is found in the middle at the balancing point, and the same holds true here. Harmlessness and innocence are internal states of being within the hearts of Christians, along with peace, mercy, faith, affection and goodwill. Shrewdness, perception, cleverness and wise judgment are meant for use in the external world to thwart the ill intentions of the wolves or tares, as discussed in the paper above.
In a nutshell, the shrewdness spoken of in this verse means psychological awareness of other people and being able to discern their dark intentions. This is difficult for some Christians who “project” the innocence (or self-righteousness) of their religious perception onto other people and fail to truly understand the person they are engaged with. This is explained in several places on this site; it means that most humans see the world (and people) through their own self-image so instead of seeing the world as it is, they see the world as they are.
In these conflicted and troubled times we all need to open our eyes and recognize that the wolves “are at the door.” Self-awareness is the key to “shining the light” on the darkness that pervades our lives and country. Personal self-awareness awakens when one steps upon the path, the Way of Life as described by Jesus Christ, and that awareness is greatly enhanced when one begins to practice meditation.
The shrewdness that Christ admonishes us to have is for the purpose of recognizing the darkness, schemes and bad intentions in other people. In a sense, shrewdness is the ability to discern the darkness in others, but, it is important to understand that there is a difference between evil and darkness. A person can be in darkness, without being evil; but if a person is truly evil, their whole being is full of darkness. (Matthew 6:23)
In this world, everyone is in darkness to some degree; in psychological terms, this darkness is referred to as the shadow, our personal unconscious. (See: The Shadow) Freud identified the shadow as the negative side of the personality which he called the Id or the repressed aspects of personality. Later, Jung used the term “the shadow side of the psyche” to mean the repressed, unconscious, dark desires of the personality. He refers to the personal shadow as the other in us, an unconscious personality of the same sex which harbors and hides all our unpleasant qualities and undeveloped characteristics as well as the negative aspects of the personality.
Jung says, “Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. At all counts, it forms an unconscious snag, thwarting our most well-meant intentions.” I am reminded of the bible verse in Matthew 6:23, “…if therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness.” To me, this verse indicates how the shadow pervades our light, and as Jung says, “the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” Each one of us who believes in Jesus Christ has the ability to confront the shadow, banish it and restore our light. (See: Stage 2 Meditation)
The obscurity of the shadow, its nature and even its very existence, is difficult for most people to acknowledge. Thus, the shadow is denied expression in everyday life, making it a splintered fragment of the personality which is isolated from exposure and discovery. However, this does not mean this repressed fragment of personality lies dormant in the unconscious. Quite the contrary, this shadow self represents energetically charged patterns of feelings, urges and behaviors which still operate in the life of the individual, but “from the shadows,” making it all the more disturbing and disruptive to the ego-persona.
In simple terms, people who are not conscious of their own shadow cannot be conscious of the darkness and ill intentions of others. In other words, people who have not engaged the darkness of their own shadow do not have the shrewdness, courage and perception to recognize it in others. Transforming the shadow through meditation or introspection is how we become “as wise as serpents.”
Three Realms of Perception
The ego-persona of most people in this world has an “outward-looking” orientation, and as a result, it is in the dark about the knowledge that lies within. Jesus said, “Seek and you will find.” Obviously, he meant for us to seek within. When we turn our outward looking attention back upon ourselves in meditation we discover states of consciousness which reveal sublime realities, exalted knowledge and divine presence. This light in our life shines forth into the world and reveals the darkness. John 3:19-21, “ … the Light has come into the world, but men loved the darkness rather than the Light, because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come into the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever practices the truth comes into the Light, so that it may be seen clearly that what he has done has been accomplished in God.”
In order to be shrewd enough to perceive the darkness of the wolves, it is necessary for your light within to be acknowledged and liberated, and when your light is strong, courageous and peaceful, you will be able to abide in the light as an “innocent dove” and the wolves will flee.
The diagram below will explain the “how and why thinking” of wolves; this discussion will focus primarily on the bottom domain. The middle domain is “where” normal, rational, caring people function; the resurrection of consciousness in this domain is explained in Stage 3 Meditation and the top domain is explained in Stage 4 Meditation. The Moral Foundations are explained here.
Consciousness of a human being is most commonly thought of as the mind or intellect. However, within the reality of our individual consciousness, there are many “minds” and each of these minds has its own unique perceptions and responses. For example, there is consciousness referred to as the body-mind which is the awareness of the physiology of the body with its instincts, urges, impulses and desires. These instinctual impulses felt in the body-mind are often referred to as the animal nature of the body because the body-mind thinks instinctually; it functions and reacts on the same level as the beasts of the jungle, with the exception that the body-mind can also think rationally, feel emotion, speak and communicate.
There are many people whose primary level of functioning is from this primal mind, consequently, their primary focus in life is on the body: feeding and sustaining it, and satisfying its desires and personal ambitions. This is referred to as two-dimensional thinking; this is the realm of the wolves or tares, i.e. those who hate the light; there are many varieties.*
People who are rooted in two-dimensional thinking are at the lowest level of consciousness development; this means the horizon of their universe does not extend much beyond their own selfish interests. They are self-aware, but only to the point of having a limited, self-centered self-concept, that is, in their thinking they are the “center of the universe”; thus, they seldom, if ever, think deeply of God.
As shown in the diagram, the domain of two-dimensional thinking is centered in the primal, instinctual nature of the body where the power, sexual, and survival drives correspond to self-image, self-gratification, and self-preservation respectively; these forces and impulses dominate the body-mind. (See diagram above) Although these people live in “darkness, delusion, and suffering,” not all of these people are evil or even sinners; they are just unable to conceive of themselves in a “higher state or place” or to conceive of God or higher consciousness as being “nearer than breathing and closer than hands and feet,” as Tennyson wrote. If they believe in God, He is in a vague and distant heaven.
The primary focus for the individual living in two-dimensional consciousness is self-gratification by any means necessary; these are the “end justifies the means” people. The most significant characteristic of such people is they do not engage in personal
self-reflection because they are not really conscious of it; it has no meaning to them just as God has no meaning to them. Self-reflection is a necessary function of consciousness for the development of morals, values, common sense, and goodwill; it is what makes one responsive to conscience in the life experience.
By default, people who have no interest in reflecting upon how they impact life or people, automatically gravitate to using the negative morals as a result of their self-centered orientation. The mind, emotions and dark desires of these people reside below the diaphragm (in the world), never above in the area of the sacred heart and purified desire, referred to as the Kingdom of Heaven within. (See: Stage 3 Meditation) In other words, what we perceive, understand and know intellectually and spiritually, we experience as truth; through will we keep ourselves on the path of truth and experience this as goodness. The experience of heavenly consciousness for us is the union of what is good and true within.
These individuals who love evil and darkness are the wolves Christ refers to – what we today call the “haters” who act the way they do because they are not getting what they want; and what they want is the destruction of: capitalism, our Constitutional Republic, Christianity and the American way of life. They hate our culture, Christians, the Constitution, the rule of law, cops, unborn babies, America and anyone who does not agree with them.
Not everyone who thinks on this level acts out, but the useful idiots, i.e., the “uncivilized, mindless bunch” who do, comprise the mobs and protesters we are seeing in the news lately. So many of these people simply want to have an emotional connection to something, even though they have no idea what the end results of their actions will bring. There is a universal principle regarding the cyclical nature of order and chaos – which is that one side rules until it is fully exhausted and then the other side rules until it is exhausted; and they switch back and forth endlessly. The chaos we see in these “end times” will only get worse before it is exhausted.
Self-reflection is what distinguishes third-dimensional thinking from two-dimensional because it has the capability or quality of relational perception. Relational perception means reflecting upon the relationships one has with the people, places, and objects within the life experience and what these mean to each individual. Self-reflection is what makes a human being human; it distinguishes us from the animal nature of the body.
When such an individual yearns for higher knowledge and understanding, one is feeling the pull from fourth dimensional consciousness, that is, from the presence and influence of the spiritual reasoning mind and the mind of rightness which is called conscience and the higher Self; this is spiritual intelligence or light-illuminating internal knowledge. This is the influence and presence of the Holy Spirit which inspires one to follow the Way of Life and strive for Self-realization.
In this time of chaos, the world and its people need the Light of Christ we carry. Christians must learn how to stand/be in the light of Christ which is to be present in the highest connection one has to Jesus Christ and Mother Mary. When one can maintain this presence, we need to be ready to let shine the peace and light we feel within, especially when the chaos and darkness are near or around us.
We all have a responsibility as Jesus said in John 6:29, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom He has sent.” Believe on Him and let Him into your heart to help shine your light to everything and everyone who comes into your life. Take care of your life and “walk upon” the Way of Life; many are, and one day we will all be united in the Light of Christ.
*Psychopaths & Sociopaths – Psychopaths are literally “wolves in sheep’s clothing” and their presence in society is more common than people realize. A psychopath is a person with a nasty personality who builds an attractive and very fake personality to cover the frauds, transgressions, and sometimes, murders. This fake personality allows for them to blend into society and perform successfully as CEO’s, mid-level managers, neighbors, politicians, cops, and even as spouses (See Goldie Hawn 1991 movie Deceived) to name a few.
Not all psychopaths are violent or murderers unless provoked, but there are other notable and common characteristics they share: they are the most self-centered people on the planet, their only focus is getting what they want which includes revenge, and they will “act out” toward people who get in their way; they often have self-esteem issues; they have no conscience so they feel no shame or remorse regarding their actions; they do not feel love or affection even for a spouse or child, but they often pretend to when the situation calls for it; and they are unable to make long term plans.
These conditions are the result of a malfunctioning amygdala, an almond shaped structure in the subcortical brain which is responsible for experiencing emotion. Psychopaths are the way they are because of a malfunction of nature, whereas sociopaths are the way they are as a result of nurture, meaning their condition is a result of parental abuse or neglect as well as adverse environments. Sociopaths have many of the same characteristics as psychopaths but live on the fringe of society because their behavior is more erratic and impulsive, and their tendency toward violence is higher.
Unlike psychopaths who feel nothing: happy, sad, or even fear, sociopaths can develop feelings for close friends and family members. I write this from extensive experience with these and other personality disorders.
A excellent book, A History of Warfare by John Keegan, follows the history of warfare as it evolves over the centuries, and at the end of the book, he concludes that it is inevitable that humanity will enter the “war of all against all.” Thomas Jefferson also predicted the same future for humanity. (See a diagram from the book below - bottom right corner)