lost coin

Once you realize the relationship of the consciousness to the soul, your inner world is available for recognition and integration. The process involves the inclusion of what was once unrecognized and unknown.

This, unfortunately, is not always a pleasant experience, because, as Sanford says, some of what must be included appear at first to be objectionable, inferior, unwanted and perhaps, even “devilish.”

But, without these “lost” aspects of ourselves, the “perfection” or wholeness of the kingdom cannot be established as they represent our unredeemed humanity, which must now be found.

Our early identification with the mask, he says, effectively excludes a large portion of our personality. And, our identification with our masculinity or femininity, depending on whether we are men or women, will also exclude much of our potential.

The undeveloped side of our personality often appears in our dreams. It could be a beggar, a man or woman we see as inferior, a crippled or handicapped person or even a child that has not yet developed. The need to reclaim this part of ourselves is often seen in dreams as a great descent, or a dream figure that cries for help or even in a scene that resembles the realm of hell.

Sanford says the unlived life may “seize the initiative and make a great bid for freedom, in which case there is a turbulence of personality, a violent inner upheaval as the unused portions of ourselves stage a revolt.”

If we identify with that rebellion, it will be a frightening experience for those around us as they see sudden changes taking place in our personalities. If we do no identify with these surging forces, the fear will be our own; we will become deeply frightened of ourselves, fear insanity, or feel forced to quell the rebellion in drugs, alcohol or some other form of escape.

Jesus has many sayings that speak of the need to reclaim what has been denied, such as, “The Son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost.” Luke 19:10

This has come to mean those people “out there” who have not heard the Gospel, but Sanford says the meaning is also internal. Jesus came as the archetype of human completeness in order to save all those parts of the human personality, wherever they exist, that are lost to consciousness.

“When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not ask your friends, brothers, relations or rich neighbors, for fear they repay your courtesy by inviting you in return. No; when you have a party, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; that they cannot pay you back means that you are fortunate, because repayment will be made to you when the virtuous rise again.” Luke 14:12-14

This another of the sayings of Jesus that refers to both the social and psychological attitude the Christian is to cultivate. Says Sanford, “Psychologically they are to . . . include those parts of themselves that have hitherto been denied development. At first this seems futile, as though we must accept in us what is unacceptable, useless, or actually defeating to our conscious purposes. Where is our reward in this? But when the kingdom comes . . . we shall have paved the way for totality.”

Many parables also speak of the necessity of including the inferior element, including the parable of Lazarus and the rich man that appears in Luke 16:19-31. In this parable, the rich man from hell begs Lazarus, who is in heaven, for relief and Lazarus denies him any help for either himself or his brothers. The only thing that is offered is: “They have Moses and the prophets.”

“If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead.”

This may look like a story created to put Jews in their place for not believing in the resurrection, but taken inwardly, the rich man is the ego, which “has everything its own way and falls prey to a hubris so that it unfairly dominates the entire psyche.”

“The poor man,”Sanford says, “is the rejected one, a personality shoved aside by the ego into the unconscious where it longs for acceptance and for nourishment from consciousness but is denied it.”

Sooner or later such an ego is plunged into the hell fire of the unconscious, which is the only way this hubris can be overcome. But the inferior personality (Lazarus) is elevated by God, which shows that what people have regarded as inferior, unworthy, and to be scorned is actually favored, loved and elevated by God.

The great gulf between heaven and hell in the parable is the inevitable result of the refusal of the ego to acknowledge inner reality.

The parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin also illustrate this:

“Tell me. Suppose a man has a hundred sheep and one of them strays; will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hillside and go in search of the stray? I tell you solemnly, if he finds it, it gives him more joy than do the ninety-nine that did not stray at all.” Matthew 18:12-14/Luke 15: 4-7)

Sanford claims there is a reason, an inner meaning, for the precise total of 100 sheep. Numbers for the early Christians, he says, all had a mystical, or psychological, meaning.

“Ignorance of numbers prevents us from understanding things that are set down in Scripture in figurative and mystical ways,” Saint Augustine said.

Thus it is that 10, with its multiples of 100 or 1000, was known as the divine number. It represented unity (as the total of the four primary numbers: 1, 2, 3 ,4) on a complex level. It was the number for totality, or God.

Which explains why the loss of one sheep is so important, without finding the one lost sheep to bring the total back to 100, there is no completeness. So, psychologically, that lost sheep is the lost part of ourselves, the part of our total personality that is submerged in the depths. And, this part must be recognized and brought into expression if we are to be complete.

“Or, once again, what woman with ten drachmas would not, if she lost one, light a lamp and sweep out the house and search thoroughly till she found it? And then, when she had found it, call together her friends and neighbors? ‘Rejoice with me,’ she would say, ‘I have found the drachma I have lost.'” Luke 15: 8-9

A drachma is worth only about 6 cents so it is not particularly valuable, but according to K.C. Pillai, at that point in history, a woman was given 10 coins by her husband at the time of their betrothal as a pledge of love and loyalty. She was to keep them her entire life and losing them would be a terrible disgrace and a bad omen for the marriage.

So, like the lost sheep, the lost coin is a lost part of ourselves, the inferior part that must be recovered if we are to be complete. The lighting of a lamp and the sweeping of the home are also symbolic as we light the lamp of our mind, do a thorough searching of our souls, and a sweeping of our inner world in order to become whole.

Gregory of Nyssa writes of this parable that the lamp/light is “doubtless our reason which throws light on hidden principles” (i.e., consciousness that perceives hidden unconsciousness).  The coin, he says, is to be found “in one’s own house, that is, within oneself.” Then he observes about the lost coin, “By that coin the Parable doubtless hints at the image of our King, not yet hopelessly lost, but hidden beneath the dirt.”

This dirt, he says, “is the impurity of our flesh, which, being swept and purged away by carefulness of life, leaves clear to the view the object of our search . . . Verily, all those powers which are the housemates of the soul, and which the Parable names her neighbors for this occasion, when so be that the image of the mighty King is revealed in all its brightness at last, that image which the fashioner of each individual heart of us has stamped upon this our Drachma, will then be converted to that divine delight and festivity, and will gaze upon the ineffable beauty of the recovered one.”

To recover the lost coin within us, our unredeemed humanity, is to recover Christ himself, the psychological equivalent of which is totality.

The paradox of the kingdom is that the very things in life that hitherto have given us such support may now have to be sacrificed, Sanford says. Jesus puts it this way:

“If your right eye should cause you to sin, tear it out and throw it away . . . for it will do less harm to lose one part of you than to have your whole body go to hell.” Matthew 5:29-30

Obviously, literally, this is absurd. Psychologically, the “right” side represents the side of ourselves that is consciously developed; the “left” side is the side of ourselves of which we are unconscious. In other words, we must at times sacrifice what has been psychologically developed if it so takes over that it excludes our totality.

The final paradox, Sanford says, is that it looks as though consciousness, from its superior development and vantage point, must stoop down to lift up the inner beggar, to rescue the undeveloped inner person, or go in search of the lost sheep/coin. But, at the same time it is the lost part of ourselves, the despised “Samaritan” that rescues us. We are saved when the lost part of our personality is recovered.

“With the removal of the hubris of the ego and the inclusion of the inferior, hitherto unconscious parts of our personality that our connection to the soul has made possible, we are now in a position to receive the kingdom of God, he says.

Next Week: The Coming of the Kingdom