27 And Jesus passing by thence, two blind men followed Him, crying and saying, Have mercy on us, Son of David. 28 And° when He had come to the house, the blind men came to Him, and Jesus says to them, Do you believe that I am able to do this? They say unto Him, Yes, Lord. 29 Then He touched their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. 30 And their eyes were opened, and Jesus admonished them, saying, See that you let no one know. 31 But° they going out spread His fame in all that land.
Arcana Coelestia 2701
The expression ‘God opens the eyes’ is used when He opens interior sight or the understanding, which opening is accomplished by means of an influx into the rational part of the person’s mind, or rather into the spiritual part of his rational. The route taken by this influx is the soul, that is, the internal route, of which the person himself is not aware. This influx is his state of enlightenment in which the truths he hears or reads about are confirmed for him by a kind of perception existing within, in the understanding part of his mind. The person himself believes that this enlightenment is innate within himself and that it springs from his own power of understanding; but in this he is very much mistaken. This enlightenment consists in an influx from the Lord by way of heaven into that person’s dim, mistaken, and specious sight of things, and by means of the good there causes the things which he believes to become imitations of truth. Only those who are spiritual however are blessed with enlightenment in spiritual matters of faith; and this is the meaning of the expression ‘God opens the eyes’.
Today we come to the story of the healing of two blind men. The Lord having just raised Jairus’ daughter is now said to be ‘passing by thence’ where He finds Himself being followed by two blind men, crying out and saying, “Be merciful to us, Son of David!” Blindness spiritually describes a state in which the mind suffers from a lack light and so is in a struggle to see or grasp the spiritual and divine realities that make up the internal sense of the Word.
So this story is for anyone who might be in such a struggle, for it shows us how the Lord is able to bring light and dispel the darkness associated with the letter of the Word so that the spiritual meanings and applications that lie within it can be seen. We might ask why this is important, isn’t it enough to take the Word at face value and just live a good life of being kind to others in the light of the two great commandments? The simple answer is that such a life is to be encouraged and should not be undermined in any way. But external life is only part of the picture – the life which is more critical is the internal life of the mind. The letter, or external meaning of the Word deals with external life and actions, whereas it is the spirit of the Word deals with the internal life of the mind with its motivations and thoughts.
Obedience to what the letter teaches can lead to external changes in behaviours on the moral and civil level of life, but the letter in itself cannot transform a person so that they become spiritual. For this level of transformation to occur ideas and affections are needed that open the spiritual level of a person’s mind and these are only found in the spiritual or internal sense of the Word. This level of meaning is provided in order to change the very structures of the mind into a heavenly form, but access to it is only granted to those who desire it and who are willing to reflect on the quality of their interior life while looking to the Lord as the Word to bring about the changes required.
To this end the Lord provides everyone with a rational faculty through which they can come to understand what the Word teaches and from that attend to what needs addressing so far as their exterior and interior lives are concerned. The laws of accommodation means that whatever we need from the Word for our regeneration will be provided, but that provision can only be delivered to us if we engage with the Word with a view to reflecting on the quality of our inner life. The depth within the Word so far as its internal meaning is concerned is unfathomable. This is because the Word is the fullness of God and as such is infinite and eternal. So in a sense we will always be blind to what lies beyond our ability to see, and what we are able to see will be what the Lord is providing for us in accordance with the quality of our presenting state of mind. So if we seem to be in a constant struggle to see anything in the Word beyond its letter then the answer is not to give up but to persevere and stay engaged. The experience of not being able to see is in fact a profound insight if it’s taken as a gift from the Lord. Whatever your experience is when you attempt to engage with the Word is the Lord’s gift to you.
This is captured so well in our story of the two blind men today. These men describe the struggle to see the Lord, or in terms more suited to the processes of engaging with the Word these men represent our struggle to move beyond the meaning of the letter into a fuller understanding of the Word’s application to the internal life of our mind found in its spiritual sense. So let’s follow their story to see if we can find something to assist us on our own journey.
When we come to the Word we often find that our mind stays stuck in the natural meaning, and we often experience real difficulty in getting beyond it. We are effectively blind to its deeper meaning and what it might be asking of us. What happens at this point is critical, if we slip into patterns of association that discourage us from persevering and holding what’s arising in our blindness we will more than likely give up then and there. We might find ourselves once again putting the Word back on the shelf wondering why it is so difficult to understand. Disappointed and thinking that we are incapable of understanding the Word on a deeper level for ourselves we feel defeated in our efforts.
But what a difference it can make to see that this experience of blindness is always the starting point for anyone when they come to the Word. That it is part of the process through which we all must pass if the spiritual associations that have become entrenched in the difficulties we might have in our relationship to the Word are to be overcome. What this story is trying to get us to see is that we are in fact blind and that our blindness is no more evident than when we are struggling to see what the Word has to say to us. Once we can accept our blindness our relationship to the Word begins to change. We approach it not as something that reminds us of, and so reinforces our condition but as something that can actually cure it.
This change in attitude to the Word can lift us out of any defeatist patterns of feeling and thought associated in our struggle to engage with it in a more meaningful way. This change in state comes with an increased sensitivity to the Lord in the Word and a recognition of His presence there. This is what is meant by the statement of “Jesus departing…” where by “Jesus” is understood the Lord’s love or desire for our spiritual welfare while the term “departing” describes movement or a change in our state or relationship to the Word. We then read what this change of state engenders in the mind now open to having its blindness healed for the blind men are said “to follow Him…” which is to work with the understanding of truth that we have knowing that the Word only reveals our blindness in order to bring us into a state of deeper insight and greater receptivity of the Lord’s love and wisdom.
We will not follow the Lord or, again to put this more in terms related to the practicalities of our regeneration, we will not engage with the Word if we don’t recognise that it is actually the Lord in His Divine Human. This is what is meant by the blind men addressing Him as the “Son of David”. David was an ancient king in Israel whose royalty represents the Lord as to the Divine Truth or the Word. So for them to be, “…crying out and saying have mercy, Son of David…” captures the needed acknowledgement required on our part that the Word is the Lord and therefore is the fullness of the God and is the means by which the Lord’s love is made manifest and His salvation realised.
To the degree that our belief in this is lacking then to that degree is the Word limited in its power to work in our life. We are being asked to engage with the Word in a deeper more meaningful way for it is the Word that connects us with the affections and thoughts of the heavens through which the influx of the Lord’s life and light is brought down into the level of our natural awareness. Just as the people of Jesus day were confronted with assessing the claims that He was God – so too we are confronted with the same questions in relation to the Word. Do you truly believe that the Word is able to cure your blindness? Do you believe that the Word is what it claims to be? This is the same question Jesus asked of the blind men and our answer to this question is not found for us in a verbal response but in whether we are actively engage with the Word or not as the basis for our spiritual life.
If we respond in the affirmative the truths of the Word will touch the eyes of our understanding releasing the power of the Lord’s love to transform our life in accordance with our willingness to live from the Word. Or in the terms related to us here in the Sacred Scripture,
Then He touches their eyes saying, “According to your faith let it be with you.” v29.