See My Hands And Feet

Now at their speaking these things, Jesus Himself stood in their midst and is saying to them, “Peace to you!” Yet, being dismayed and becoming affrighted, they supposed they are beholding a spirit.” And He said to them, “Why are you disturbed? And wherefore are reasonings coming up in your hearts? Perceive My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and perceive, for a spirit has not flesh and bones according as you behold Me having.” And saying this, He exhibits to them His hands and feet.” (Luke 24: 36-40)

The things just spoken had to do with all that occurred with those who met the Lord on the road to Emmaus, that affirmed the testimony of those who had seen, and so were claiming, that the Lord had in fact risen from the dead. As this testimony was being unfolded, so the Lord appeared in their midst. There are a number of things in this post resurrection account that I would like us to focus on because they speak to some of principles on which Logopraxis is built, and they also affirm the collective experience of many of you who have participated in Logopraxis Life Groups. So, we’ll move through things verse by verse with a view to drawing these principles out. But before we do that consider what the following number from the Arcana Coelestia has to say in the light of the Lord’s words of peace given to his followers, and the dismay and fear they illicit in response.

Turmoil is used to mean the rearrangement and reordering of truths within the natural, a reordering about which the following ought to be known: The order in which the factual knowledge and the truths in the human memory are arranged is not known by men; but angels know it, if the Lord so pleases. It is an amazing order – facts and truths are grouped together in bundles, as also are the actual bundles; and all this in keeping with the interconnection of things of which the person has gained a mental grasp. The way they are grouped together is more amazing than anyone can ever imagine. In the next life visual presentations of them sometimes appear; for in the light of heaven, which is a spiritual light, things such as these can be displayed for the eye to see in a way utterly impossible in the light of the world. The arrangement of the facts and truths into those bundle-like forms depends entirely on the person’s loves. Self-love and love of the world leads to their being arranged into hellish forms, whereas love towards the neighbour and love to God leads to their being arranged into heavenly ones. Consequently when a person is being regenerated and the good of the internal man is becoming joined to the truths of the external man, turmoil develops among the truths; for they are being rearranged into a different order. This turmoil is what is being described here and is meant by their being filled with dismay. The dismay which comes to be felt at this time reveals itself through anxiety arising out of the change in the state immediately before; that is to say, it arises out of being deprived of the delight which had been present in that state. (Arcana Coelestia 5881)

So, holding these things in mind, let’s begin by shifting our focus onto the inner realities being spoken about in our reading from the Gospel by reminding ourselves that the historical context and events are given to support us to move into what they point to within our own experience of working with the Lord as the Word. For by the Lord, from a Logopraxis perspective, we understand the Word and its activity within our minds, and by Jesus specifically, we understand the Lord as to Divine Good. But in more concrete terms, Jesus is understood to be the Lord’s desire for our salvation, and His speech is how that desire takes form as thoughts based on truths from the Word within our mind.

In Logopraxis, we meet together to share our experience of the Lord as the Word working in our life, and we do that in the hope that the Lord might be made visible in our midst. Of course, by saying the Lord is made visible in our midst, we don’t mean visible as someone appearing before our physical senses, rather we mean that when what is of the Word passes between people we come to see a little more clearly the Lord’s presence in our life as the Word, either through the opportunity to share our personal experience of it, or in hearing of how it is experienced in the lives of others. For as people share together their experience of the Word working in their life, their understanding of it increases. So the principle here is that it is as we share our experience of the Word in our life that our sense of the Lord expands in a way where He becomes mentally more visible or accessible to us all.

This is illustrated in verse 36 where we read…

Now at their speaking these things, Jesus Himself stood in their midst and is saying to them, “Peace to you!”

The things spoken of were those things related to a journey by two disciples from Jerusalem to Emmaus. But this isn’t just a journey in history, for the journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus is every spiritual journey on every scale of manifestation. It describes the journey we take across the whole of our life, or it can describe any portion of it.  From a Logopraxis, perspective it describes our journey across each Session Cycle of our practise; stretching from our initial contact with the reading, through to the sharing of our experience of the Word with others. We approach our initial reading not knowing where it will lead, at the end of the cycle we come into a new sense of the Lord as the Word through the truth we felt drawn to that formed the basis for our inner work with the Text. In a sense, we always begin in Jerusalem, and arrive at Emmaus every time we move into a new experience that deepens our sense of the Word as the Lord.

It is as we share in the experience of the Word working in the lives of others that the possibility opens to finding Jesus standing in the midst, speaking into each and every heart, “Peace to you!” Through sharing our experience of the Word with others we share our life with the Lord and this expands our appreciation for how the Lord as the Word works to regenerate the human mind. Through building an understanding of the processes involved and how they are experienced directly we are given a sense of “peace”. But this “peace” is not the absence of conflict, trial, or struggle, rather it is a peace that comes with knowing that the Lord is with us in our difficulties and that despite how things appear, the Word is well able to carry us through. Remember what these disciples had just been through – and what they had yet to endure. To practise the Word, which is what Logopraxis means, by taking truths and applying them to the life of the mind through the spiritual disciplines of self-examination and repentance, puts us in front of many difficulties. So the “peace” mentioned here is not how the world defines peace, but is the peace that comes with knowing that every difficulty is permitted by the Lord for the sake of the end which is eternal life.

That difficulties are part of the spiritual life and arise from contact with the Word can be seen in verse 37.  For even though the Lord speaks “peace” those present are dismayed, becoming fearful for they suppose they are beholding a spirit. In Logopraxis we are learning to find our security in an experiential understanding of what’s involved in working with truths from the Word. What presents when truths are being applied to the life of the mind doesn’t always fit with the understanding we have acquired that belongs to the memory and so constitutes our historical faith. In fact, if our historical faith is not being challenged at some stage in our practice of the Word, we are probably not doing Logopraxis. The religion of the natural man is built on the misunderstanding that its understanding of doctrine is the Truth. In Logopraxis we are continually discovering that our understanding of truth at any given stage of our development is simply how things appear in relation to our state. That our understanding of truth is just that, our understanding of it, and that this will undergo shifts and changes as we look to practise the Word through applying its truths to the life of our minds.

All fear, dismay, or turmoil that arises in the face of what’s presenting from our efforts to examine our life in the light of truths from the Word is an indication that the truths within the natural, that belong to our current understanding of things, are undergoing a rearrangement and so are being reordered. To understand and accept this as a necessary aspect of the outworking of regenerative processes, goes a long way to providing valuable support, enabling us to navigate the difficulties that must be faced as things within the mind are reordered. When in states of spiritual disorder, fear and dismay arise as new truths are spoken into our life and make their presence felt. We may become disorientated and lose touch with our sense of connection with Lord as we are pushed and pulled by spiritual influences that manifest as emotional responses, over which we seem to have little control. These states can give rise to doubts about the substantial nature of spiritual things over natural things, for in such states what presents on the surface to our senses seems much more real than those things that the Word says is real.

The Word says, “Peace to you!” the appearances of the senses say, what the Word declares is not real – that it is vague and without substance being described as a “spirit”. The peace that the Word speaks into our life can only become something substantial if we allow the Word to do its work. Nothing but peace can issue forth from the Word but this peace cannot be experienced in the natural mind where the loves of self and the world rule. So in speaking “peace” the Word first of all looks to restructure the mind into a form that can receive the peace of heaven. For, if the kingdom of heaven is to rule in our life, then that which is opposed to it must be put to flight – and in this process the Word is experienced more like a sword than as a dove. And so it must be, the disordered state of our natural mind has to first be put into order if peace is to be established in us.

For those in Logopraxis work, there needs to be a recognition of this fact. Through sincere self-examination by using truths from the Word to assess the quality of our mental life, with its affections and thoughts, we can come to see the disordered state of our mind. We can know from first hand experience that what truths teach concerning our proprium are in fact true, that living a spiritual life involves facing the discomfort that seeing our self in the light of what truths teach brings. Hence what follows in verses 38 to 40 describes a deepening level of self-examination that arises as we continue to work with the Word. There we read…

And He said to them, “Why are you disturbed? And wherefore are reasonings coming up in your hearts? Perceive My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and perceive, for a spirit has not flesh and bones according as you behold Me having.” And saying this, He exhibits to them His hands and feet.”

In asking these questions the Lord is seeking to get those He is speaking to to reflect more deeply to discover the origin of their mental state. Within us this same process takes place, only we experience it as questions arising within our own minds as we engage with and practice the Word. Such questions appear to be the product of our own thinking but we can be sure that any question that focuses the mind onto matters connected with its regeneration, through getting us to examine the source of the motivations and reasonings arising within it, is a sign of the Word working to bring forth the kingdom of heaven within. If we find ourselves inwardly disturbed in our work with truths from the Word, then we need to ask, If the Lord seeks only our peace then why is there this disturbance? Perhaps it’s because what truths are highlighting are things detrimental to our spiritual welfare, things our sense of self is so invested in we find ourselves in a real struggle to let go of them. It is not truths that cause disturbance but the evils and falsities through which negative spiritual associations are able to form a part of our sense of self. These are the cause of disturbances because they look to resist truths and darken the saving light that truth can bring.

In addition to the emotional disturbance we are also asked to take stock and look at the source of the reasonings arising in our hearts. Unpacking the origin of these two dimensions to our mental life, our emotional states and the thoughts or reasonings coming into our conscious awareness, and bringing these before our understanding of the Word, is what spiritual work involves. This must be done if we are to see and therefore verify for ourselves that what the Word teaches concerning the state or condition of the human mind is actually so. Without doing this the Word shall remain weak and ineffectual in our life. As people who profess a belief in the holiness and power of the Word we need to be engaging with it regularly, otherwise our profession is mere lip service. We should not underestimate the proprium’s ability to use negative emotional states and false reasonings to undermine the power of the Word in our life, and there is perhaps nothing more subtle in this regard than a profession of a belief in the centrality of the Word to spiritual life without engaging the will in an intentional practice to back it up as a matter of life.

The absolute importance of remaining in touch with the Word through its practice as the basis of a commitment to self-examination and repentance where our mental life is concerned, is highlighted in the final verses taken from the Gospel reading today where the Lord admonishes us to…

Perceive My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and perceive, for a spirit has not flesh and bones according as you behold Me having.” And saying this, He exhibits to them His hands and feet.”

If we wish to move into a firmer sense of the substantial nature of the Word as a basis for life then we need to engage with it for ourselves. This is what is meant by the phrases, “Perceive My hands and feet…” and “Handle Me and perceive…” The Word itself asks us to open ourselves up to it, to allow our powers of perception to be directed towards its “hands and feet…” which is the Text Itself. The command to see or perceive means to give attention to something, it is a command from the Word to focus our intellectual powers upon the Text of Divine Revelation in an effort to understand what’s here and what it claims itself to be. The “hands and feet” of the Word are its extremities, or those teachings that pertain to eternal life that can be accessed through the surface meaning of the Text. The hands are teachings of an internal quality that have to do with the power of the Lord to save (Arcana Coelestia 78{3-4}), while the feet are those teachings found in the letter of the Word (Arcana Coelestia 9406) that provide support for people to walk in what’s required of them to live the spiritual life.

But it is not enough to just read about them, the Word actually needs to be engaged with, hence the second command from the Lord concerning the Word is, “Handle Me and perceive…” The first command to, “Perceive My hands and feet” pertains to understanding things intellectually but the second command is to, “Handle” the Word “and perceive”, which speaks of the need to move from an intellectual understanding of truths into an understanding that comes from their application to life.

First, we need knowledge in order to know what’s required of us in the spiritual life but knowing must move to actual application which relates to handling the Word through its application to the life of the mind and its regeneration. From this a deeper appreciation of the substantial nature of the Word is able to be entered into due to actually having experienced it first-hand working in our life. This fuller kind of perceiving is only possible after the application of truths to the life of the mind which is clearly indicated in the order of the words, “Handle Me and perceive.” The Logopraxis structure seeks to provide overt support for this so that we can consciously experience this process for ourselves over each Session Cycle.

To the natural mind or man, spiritual things appear vague and without substance which is illustrated by the idea of Jesus appearing to be a spirit in the perception of those beholding Him. From a Logopraxis perspective, we know that this is also true of our sense of the Word. It’s not until we have really experienced the Text working in our life through handling it as it relates to the inner practice of self-examination and repentance that it becomes something substantial for us. To handle the Word is based on the sense of touch. Touch spiritually means conjunction and the only way conjunction with the Lord is possible is through the integration of truths from the Word into our life, and this only occurs when those truths are being practised. For the saving power of the Word to be active in our life it must not only be affirmed intellectually but must also be made real experientially. It is only through experiencing the Word first-hand, as something that is having a real effect in our life, that it is able to be seen to be the Lord, and to be Him right down to the very letter of the Text. For if we can receive it, the letter of the Word becomes the very flesh and bones of the Lord Himself, this being the foundation and container of the Divine Good and Divine Truth Itself, through which He is able to be made real and present in the midst of those who seek Him.

Perceive My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and perceive, for a spirit has not flesh and bones according as you behold Me having.” And saying this, He exhibits to them His hands and feet.”

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