Lesson 19- Helen Keller and the Kingdom Of Darkness
Before beginning this weeks topic, I want to apologize for the fact that I keep reinforcing certain concepts over and over again but these programs are really a course of study in which each talk builds upon my previous talks and it is very difficult to do this through a weekly radio program where there is a seven day gap between each program, new listeners tune in every week and some of the steady listeners might miss programs.
Its the problem of continuity which all teacher face when there is a long gap between classes, or new students enter the class weeks after it has begun or old students miss lectures because of absences or other interruptions. Thus, I suspect, my reviews might be annoying to those who never miss a program because they have already heard it and dont need to hear it again. But without a proper foundation, my other listeners might not understand where I am going with my present talk. That is why we encourage all of you, especially those who have not been with us consistently from the beginning, to order all the tapes through our "10-4 Club" which for $10 a month we will send you four talks each month, beginning with the first ones. Since these talks are a course of study, you really need all of them to understand what the course is about.
How important is this course? Well, the teenagers that I teach tell me that it has changed their way of looking at life and, just last week, a student that I had last semester asked me if he could have a copy of all my notes because his mother had accidentally thrown out his copy while cleaning. There arent too many courses that impact teenagers so much that they want to hold on to the notes for future reference.
This course has the power to change your view about a lot of things that you thought you understood and, hopefully, change your life. I am even presumptuous enough to believe that, properly understood, it has the power of saving souls because, I believe that God gave it to me and I have an obligation to give it to you.
Having said that, let me lay the groundwork for my talk today by reviewing some important concepts that are necessary for understanding where todays program is going.
For any new listeners, you should know that these programs are based on a course that I have taught for many years known as "Logic and Psychology." It is a course that integrates information from psychology, anthropology, sociology, science, religion, philosophy,- especially Catholic - and my own personal experiences and insights.
It began by asking the question "What is the basic difference between animals and human beings and concluded, as Catholic philosophy does, that the basic difference is that animals, and human infants and children, have an non-rational non-reflective mind which operates according to the principles of hedonism, which says, whatever gives me pleasure is good and whatever gives me pain is bad." Being totally subjective and driven by feelings, the non-rational brain is amoral and incapable of sin because, not having eaten from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, it doesnt know or understand the primary or rational purpose of things. It believes that the purpose of food is taste and the purpose of sex is pleasure. Therefore, although it is capable of sinning- a word in the New Testament that means, "to miss the rational target or mark" it is incapable of being held morally responsible for its behavior even though it will reap the consequences of its unwise behavior.
Human beings, on the other hand, have rational, reflective minds that, being goal-directed, operate according to the pragmatic principle of whatever helps me to reach the goal is good and whatever interferes with it is bad Being goal directed, the rational, reflective mind is objective and moral. Having eaten from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, it understands the real, rational, or primary purpose of things and thus is not only capable of sinning by "missing the target" but is also morally responsible for it.
After exploring this question, I then moved on to describe the split brain operation perform by Dr. Roger Sperry in the 1960 in which, in order to cure his patients severe epileptic seizures, he separated the two lobes of his brain by cutting a bundle of nerves, known as the corpus collosum, which connect the two lobes at the top of the skull. Following the operation, the epileptic seizures stopped, but his hands got into arguments, revealing the fact that our sense of being one person is an illusion since each lobe of the brain has a different personality which isnt apparent until you split the corpus collosum, which is the communication link between them. Splitting this link allowed the doctors to see each brain operating independent of the other.
Further investigation revealed that the right lobe or hemisphere of the brain is a very clever animal which is unable to read or write and that it communicates its feelings nonverbally through facial expressions, body posturing, and other symbolic methods such as art, music, dancing, and sculpture. It also uses items such as clothing, cars, jewelry, tattoos, hairstyle, and other non-verbal methods to symbolize who it is or who it wants to be.
Being more related to the animal kingdom than the left lobe, it depends more on feelings, impulses, and intuitions for motivation and resents any type of structure or law that inhibit what it wants to do. Its attitude was best expressed by a billboard that I saw in London that showed in one corner the paints, brushes and easel of an artists and, on the rest of the billboard in large letters, was the statement, "There are no rules!" Because of this attitude, it is undisciplined but very creative and is always "pushing the envelope" by breaking the laws or social conventions of the culture. Its motto is "let it all hang out" or "Just do it!" It is, in essence, what connects us to the animal kingdom because, it appears, that the reason that animals have non-rational, non-reflective brains is because both of their lobes are duplicates of each other and thus we might say, functionally speaking, that they have two right lobes upon which our right lobe is patterned.
The left lobe, which is what separates us from the animal kingdom, is the seat of rational, reflective thought. It is capable of learning how to read and write and it communicates verbally through language. Unlike the right lobe that is motivated by intuition and feelings, it is motivated by logic and facts. It is a truth seeker which, instead of looking inward at its feelings, looks outward at the facts and thus, it is the source for everything that is scientific. Thus, the right lobe, which is feeling oriented, is subjective, while the left lobe, which is fact oriented, is objective. Where the right lobe would say that the purpose of food is taste and the purpose of sex is pleasure, the logical left lobe, after studying the facts, would conclude that the real, logical, or primary purpose of food and sex is nutrition and reproduction respectively. Thus, it appears that only the logical left lobe has the "Knowledge of Good and Evil" thereby making it a moral being and therefore being morally responsible when it sins by "missing the target" that the Creator intended for an act.
Because of its knowledge of the real purpose of things, it reflects before it acts by asking itself whether its actions are in accordance with the true purpose or goal of the behavior. Whereas the right lobe is always pushing freedom and creativity, the left lobe is always demanding order and structure. When the right lobe says, "let it all hang out!" the left lobe is saying "stuff some of it back in!" Where the right lobe is unfocused and flitting impulsively about from one creative interest to another, the left lobe is focused on a singular goal which, through a disciplined effort, it is determined to reach.
We see this ongoing conflict between them in the constant battle between the artistic community and the censors. And yet, despite this conflictual relationship, all of the wonders of human civilization are the result of the cooperative interaction between the two. In fact, some historians have held that the two pillar of civilization are Art and Science. We now know that Art is the forte of the right lobe of our brains and Science is the forte of the left lobe.
When they unite in common agreement, when the creative imagination and impulses of the right lobe are united with the disciplined and focused efforts of the left lobe, they are dynamite. Our problem often is that the two persons who make up our being often acts like a "house divided against itself" with one pulling in one direction and the other pulling in the opposite. And, as Jesus once said, a "house divided against itself can not stand" or again, "you can not serve two masters..." When we consider the folly of being divided within ourselves, the final prayer of Jesus takes on greater significance. Before He ascended into heaven, he prayed, "Father, I pray that they will be one as You and I are one."
Is it possible that when the Jews said that we were made in the "image and likeness of God" that if God is a rational being that He, like us, has a creative right lobe and a logical left lobe and all the wonders of creation are a reflection of what happens when the two are united in a common purpose? Think about it and also think, that if this is true, then there ought to be a third person in us thereby making us in the image of a triune God or Trinity.
Anyway, let me get on with reviewing the groundwork for picking up my talk where I left off last time.
I had said that one of the reasons that we dont fully understand the message of the Gospel is because our understanding remains on a childish level. When we are children, deep truths often have to be expressed in over simplified terms, otherwise we would not be able to grasp them at all. Thus, as the great St. Paul said, "When I was a child, I thought as a child, I acted like a child. But now that I am a man, I have put away the things of childhood. Now we see as though through a glass darkly. But then we shall see clearly face to face." What he means is that as we mature, our understanding of the underlying meaning of these terms should also mature.
Statements like "Jesus saves us from our sins", when we are children, are taking at face value without any understanding of what it means. Later, if we seek to deepen our understanding, which many of us dont, we learn that Jesus in His Cosmic God Nature, according to the teaching of the Church, is the Wisdom or Logos which God the Father, the Creator of the universe, used to create all things. In other words, the Father, like a great artist, thought the universe up but Jesus, like a logical craftsman, implemented the Plan.
Thus, from the beginning of time, Jesus, the Logic of God, has been carrying out the Plan that His Father conceived. However, according to the Church, in order to foster that plan, Jesus entered time and history over two thousand years ago when He entered the womb of Mary and was born in Bethlehem. Thus, when the Gospel of John is read, and we come to the words, "And the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us" the priest pauses, and bows to indicate that this was the most significant event in human history. The Church calls it the Incarnation and refers to Jesus as Incarnate Wisdom because the word "incarnate" means to "be made into flesh."
Thus, with this deepened understanding, we can restate our previous statement in the following manner: "Jesus, the Wisdom or Logic of God, will save us from "missing the target" by removing the blindfold of ignorance from our eyes so that we can see what the real purposes of God are." Now add to this understanding the fact that the Jews considered that our souls, which were destined for eternal life, ate Wisdom and that one of their terms for it was "the Bread of Life" and Jesus' statement, "I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to me shall not hunger; he who believes in me shall not thirst" takes on a newer and deeper significance.
Now add to this the fact that the Bible constantly contrasts the Kingdom of Darkness, which is ruled by the devil or Prince of Darkness, who is artistically portrayed as half animal and half man and the Kingdom of Light, which is ruled by Jesus, the Light of the World who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and we begin to realize that Darkness and Light have a mental or spiritual meaning with Darkness meaning ignorance and mental blindness and Light meaning Wisdom and mental understanding. So we could conclude that Jesus, or Wisdom came to lead us out of the world of mental darkness, which, for most human beings, seem to be their natural states. So, when St. John asks, "Why does God condemn Man?" and he answered "Because the Light came into the world and Men loved darkness" we should now understand this to mean "the Light of Understanding" came into their world of mental darkness but they preferred to remain ignorant. Is this true? Consider the fact that the word "amusement" means "without thought" and asked ourselves if we were given a choice between learning or amusing ourselves, what would most of us choose? Just take a look at the type of shows that are growing in popularity on the TV and asks what is the preference of the human heart. They arent watching documentaries.
Now add to this the fact that the Old Testament's word for hell is Gehenna and it means "empty thought", then it lead us to the startling conclusion that we are not going to hell but that we are already in it to the extent that we continue to remain in the world of Mental Darkness. This being true then God, through His Wisdom, Jesus the Logic of God, is trying to save us, not condemn us, by sending His Wisdom to show us the way out of Mental Darkness.
When we were children, we thought of hell as a place of burning fire which was enough to scare the hell out of us and our animalistic right lobe, which is dominant in children, could fully understand this. After all, its motivating principle is "whatever gives me pleasure is good and whatever give me pain is bad" so what other explanation could you give it. However, our intellectual left lobe is interested in facts and truth and thus its idea of heaven would be "to know the Truth, to love the Truth, and to serve the Truth and to spend eternity in the presence of the Truth." Thus, hell for it would be Gehenna or "empty thought."
This now completes my foundational summary and brings me to my current topic which is the experience of Helen Keller. Helen, for those of you who are just tuning in, lived almost seven years without any understanding of language, which means, that, during this time, she was living totally in the world of the right lobe, which, need I remind you, is our connection to the animal world. Since consciousness is connected to language because we can bring things into conscious existence only by naming them, then she also lived in a world of "no thingness" or "empty thought." She was living in Gehenna or hell and, thanks be to God, she got out when Ann Sullivan broke through her mental darkness and showed her the connection between words and the objects in the outside world.
We have already read her description of that world in which she said that she had no awareness of herself, good or evil, God, nature or anything else. She was locked in a subjective world of bodily feelings and was unable to make any connection with anybody outside of her self. In other words, she was imprisoned within herself. She describes herself as an "unconscious clod of earth" and then when the miracle of language dawned upon her it was like an awakening, a rebirth, a revelation in which she became aware of love, God, good and evil, and the natural world. It was so spectacular that she compared it to her entrance into heaven. Let me now quote further from her writings. Listen to her own words:
"When the sun of consciousness first shone upon me, behold a miracle! Down in the depths of my being I cried, 'It's good to be alive!' I held out two trembling hands to life. The world to which I awoke was still mysterious, but there were hope and love and God in it, and nothing else mattered. Is it not possible that our entrance into heaven may be like this experience of mine?
Several years later my life enlarged when I learned to speak. I can never cease to marvel and be excited by that event of thirty-six years ago; it stands out so isolated, miraculous, baffling. Think of changing mute, soulless air into speech in the midst of midnight silence. Literally, I had no concepts of speech, and my touch was not enough to convey to me the thousand vibrations of spoken words. The pain and disappointment I have endured (in learning to speak clearly) are incalculable; but they are a price worth paying for the joy I have in being able to keep this living bond between the outer world and myself. As I learned to talk and to put feeling into what I said, I sensed more and more the miracle of all time and eternity-- the reality of thought! Thought, out of which are wrought books, philosophies, sciences, civilizations, and the joy and the woe of the human race! Even as if the lonely blind man who has traveled many years in midnight gloom should suddenly stumble upon the sun and all the glories of a sunlit world, so it was with me when the light of understanding flooded my mind, and I realized that words were precious symbols of knowledge, thought, and happiness.
The normal human being is familiar with the use of words, and he cannot remember when he first began to use them. I have had a different experience. I was nearly seven years old when I began to acquire language, and I remember distinctly the feelings I experienced... It was a wonderful day never to be forgotten. Thoughts that ran forward and backward came over me. Now I see it was my mental awakening. I think it was an experience somewhat in the nature of a revelation. That first revelation was worth all those years I had spent in dark, soundless imprisonment."
Notice how she uses the imagery of Light and Darkness to describe her condition and how she compares it to "coming alive." It makes you wonder whether we really experience life until we have a mental awakening. Maybe that is what being "born again."
Now lets analyze more closely what she said. Consider the line, "As I learned to talk and to put feeling into what I said, I sensed more and more the miracle of all time and eternity; the reality of thought. Thought, out of which are wrought books, philosophies, sciences, civilizations, and the joy and the woe of the human race." What we now know, that Helen didnt, was that the left lobe of her brain, which was lying dormant, had awakened and the Logos or Logic within her began to function. According to her, this is the source of what we call civilization because, without it, we would be animals living on an animalistic level. Yet, she says, it is a two-edge sword because not only does this increased mental awareness add to our joy but also to our woe because it awakens in us a sense of personal identity and everything that happens to us becomes personal. Instead of just being biological being which responds physically to sensations and stimuli, we now become living beings with a sense of personal involvement in what is happening to us and our response is emotional rather than sensational. (I have a feeling that I have just said something that is very deep which I dont fully understand myself. Yet, whatever it is, it creates a deep chasm between the world we experience and the world that animals experience.)
And, finally, consider her last sentence which says, "That first revelation (of the meaning of language) was worth all those years I had spent in dark, soundless imprisonment." I sense that she is not only talking of the dark and soundless world that came from her blindness and deafness but, even more so, from her mental blindness and deafness from which many normal people suffer. Jesus had said of the Pharisees and Scribes that they were the blind leading the blind because "having eye to see they could not see; and having ears to hear, they could not hear." Remember, Jesus who was more interested in spiritual healing than in physical healing, healed the physical blind and deaf only to show that he had the power to heal sin.
It is interesting to note that it was the Logos within her left lobe that set her free from the darkness of her right lobe existence and that it is Jesus, the Logos of God, who came to set us free from the Kingdom of Darkness or Gehenna.
Is there something that we have been missing here? Is there a connection between what happened to Helen and the message of the Gospel? Our ancestors had a clearer understanding of the philosophical connection between the Gospel and our intelligence. That is why St. John was able to write that the Logos that was in the beginning with God who created all things was found in every human being. It is also why Justin, a 1st century Christian who lived when some of the Apostles were still alive, could say that all rational men are Christian whether they know it or not. He understood that salvation and our intelligence are connected. In fact, our Intellects, which we now know to be the left lobe of our brains, were called the Divine Spark in all human beings. That is why the Church has always been a leading proponent of learning and education. It was the Church that built the first colleges and universities in Europe after the collapse of the Roman Empire.
In other words, the left lobe of our brains may be the "Jesus within us" that so many people are fond of talking about. A simple test seems to confirm this. If you ask it what is the purpose of food, it will say nutrition and that why you shouldnt be a glutton; if you ask it what is the purpose of sex, it will say reproduction. If you ask it why fornication, adultery, homosexuality, child molestation and other sexual acts are sinful, it will tell you because they all "miss the rational purpose of sex which is the reproduction, care, and training of children." It is the moral agent within us; it is our conscience and, according to the Church, we are always obligated to follow it.
It's that little voice that is always confronting us with unpleasant truth that we would rather not hear because, when we do, it convicts us and challenges us to change by repenting and reforming. Its the little voice that keeps telling us that Logic demands that we will "reap what we sow," and that we should "do unto others as we would like them to do unto us."
Because it is logical, it is also linear, which means that it is goal directed and therefore looks at reality as going from an Alpha, or beginning, to an Omega, or end. This suggests that its view is progressive because one has to keep moving along a straight line in order to reach the end. This implies that anyone entering such a linear view must always be in the process of growth and development and, thus, must always be prepared to "repent and reform" in order to give up the old so as to move on to the new. Because it is focused on a goal, its advice to us is to "enter by the narrow gate" because if one loses his/her focus, they might easily stray from the salvation path because the road is wide that leads to perdition. It is a brain with a mission and it will not rest until it reaches its assigned goal.
All this, of course, is a description of Jesus who, as Gods Suffering Servant, entered the world bent on the mission of establishing the Kingdom of God on earth. Therefore, He called to those around Him, to come out of their Darkness and to put their shoulders to the plow and not look back. There was work to be done; there was a Kingdom to be built, and that is the mission which He gave His Church over two thousand years ago. Next time you listen to the song "City of God" think about what I have just said. Let me review the words with you now.
City of God:
Awake from your slumber; Arise from your sleep.
A new day is dawning for all those who weep.
The people in Darkness have seen a great Light.
The Lord of our longing has conquered the night.
Let us build the city of God, may our tears be turned into dancing.
For the Lord, our Light and our Love
Has turned the night into day.
We are sons of the morning; we are daughters of day.
The one who has loved us has brightened our way.
The Lord of all kindness has called us to be
A light for His people to set their hearts free. (Refrain)
God is Light, in Him there is no Darkness.
Let us walk in His light; his children, one and all...
O comfort my people; make gentle your words;
Proclaim to my city.... the day of her birth...(Refrain)
O City of Gladness, now lift up your voice;
Proclaim the good tidings that all may rejoice. (Refrain).
I have mentioned many times that, having played guitar masses for over thirty five years, I get upset with those Catholic in the pew who sit there and dont even bother to sing or respond in Mass. I could almost accept the excuse that they dont have good voices for singing but I think that they make a great mistake when they dont even bother to read the words of the hymns which very often are expressing deep meditative truths about our faith. I have learned so much simply because, as part of a music ministry, I have had to learn to sing so many of the songs.
If the right lobe of the brain is the source of art and music, then I can tell you what the problem is with most of them. Only half of who they are is at Mass. The left lobe is going through the action as a duty and obligation but their right lobe, which is their heart, is missing or some place else. When we consider that it is this heart that God is trying to change, it seems like they left the most important part of themselves home.
Recently, I was talking to my 11-year-old grandson about the right and left lobe and how they related to our worship of God. I said, if, when we are communicating with others, our left lobe is listening to their words while our right lobe is watching and listening to their expressions and tone, what happens when we hear loving words that have no expression or enthusiasm behind them. He said that we get turned off by it. Then I asked, if God the Father is the right lobe of the Trinity, then what type of communication is He receiving from people who, while attending Mass, sit there expressionless and dont even bother to sing. After all, music, rather than language, is the way that you communicate with anyones right lobe. He said that Gods right lobe would think that we were insincere. Think about it.
Well I see that my time is up. Heres Dom.