Jesus, ‘who was tempted ‘in every respect just as we are’, made it clear that the eye is the doorway to the soul when he said, ‘A pure eye lets sunshine into the soul but a lustful eye shuts out the light and plunges you into darkness’.13,14 The awful side of that truth came home to me a long time ago when I heard someone tell a story about a young man they knew who had become like an empty shell because he was mastered by the sin of uncontrolled eyes.
The Gruen Transfer tells us that the marketer looks for that ‘split second when the (shopping) mall’s intentionally confusing layout makes our eyes glaze and our jaws slacken….. the moment when we forget what we came for and become impulse buyers.’ But it’s not just marketers who look for this: books on witchcraft speak of a thing called the Witch’s Lunge, where the occult practitioner will wait for the right moment and then attempt to dive straight through the eyes of their victim and into their soul.
It would not be an overstatement to say that we live in a world where our eyes (and all our other senses) are the targets of those who—with the help of greed, lust and pride—would have us buy their products. But what is the price we pay? Supposedly it’s just an exchange of dollars for the merchandise, which it may well be if we’re talking groceries. But someone has said that the ‘value of a thing is the amount of life given in exchange for it’. In that case, a Playstation might actually have the value of a human soul.
The sellers of the products will often tell us to gamble responsibly or that their cigarettes cause cancer. The implication being that this was our choice and therefore absolves them of any responsibility for the hell they lead us into: a logic not that much different to the friendly witch in Pilgrim’s Regress: “And all the while the witch stood saying nothing, but only holding out the cup and smiling kindly on him with her dark eyes and her dark, red mouth. Then, when she saw that he would not drink, she passed on to the next: but at the first step she took, the young man gave a sob and his hands flew out and grabbed the cup and he buried his head in it: and when she took it from him, his lips clung to it as a drowning man to a piece of wood. But at last he sank down in the swamp with a groan…’15
So, if it’s that serious, what are you going to do about it? The only solution is to face the fact that if your eyes are not on the playing field then you cannot get hit. In other words you have to kill it. But you don’t have the power to do that, or at least you don’t have the power to do it in a way that makes death work backwards, that brings redemptive magic into play. For it is a fact that there are other ways to do this: but they are all flawed by the idolatrous motivation of doing it for yourself, for your own happiness, and in your own power. Yes, they sort of work, but they leave something hard inside you, something buddhist/eat,love,pray and made useful for the one who is determined at all costs not to die, at all costs to remain un-resurrected.
The only way to really do it is the way of Easter. To drink the cup that says, ‘Not my will but yours be done.’ You must offer your eyes to God as a living sacrifice, so that whatever it is that rules your eyes can be killed—his way! Yes it will hurt, but there’s a beautiful surprise awaiting you, and the best way to understand that is to read this excerpt from another of Lewis’ writings.
‘I saw coming towards us a Ghost who carried something on his shoulder. Like all the Ghosts, he was unsubstantial, but they differed from one another as smokes differ. Some had been whitish; this one was dark and oily. What sat on his shoulder was a little red lizard, and it was twitching its tail like a whip and whispering things in his ear. As we caught sight of him he turned his head to the reptile with a snarl of impatience. “Shut up, I tell you!” he said. It wagged its tail and continued to whisper to him. He ceased snarling, and presently began to smile. Then he turned and started to limp westward, away from the mountains.
“Off so soon?” said a voice.
The speaker was more or less human in shape but larger than a man, and so bright that I could hardly look at him. His presence smote on my eyes and on my body too (for there was heat coming from him as well as light) like the morning sun at the beginning of a tyrannous summer day.
“Yes. I’m off,” said the Ghost. “Thanks for all your hospitality. But it’s no good, you see. I told this little chap,” (here he indicated the lizard), “that he’d have to be quiet if he came, which he insisted on doing. Of course his stuff won’t do here: I realise that. But he won’t stop. I shall just have to go home.”
‘Would you like me to make him quiet?” said the flaming Spirit: an angel, as I now understood. “Of course I would,” said the Ghost.
“Then I will kill him,” said the Angel, taking a step forward.
“Oh-ah-look out! You’re burning me. Keep away,” said the Ghost, retreating.
“Don’t you want him killed?”
“You didn’t say anything about killing him at first. I hardly meant to bother you with anything so drastic as that.”
“It’s the only way,” said the Angel, whose burning hands were now very close to the lizard. “Shall I kill it?”
“Well, that’s a further question. I’m quite open to consider it, but it’s a new point, isn’t it? I mean, for the moment I was only thinking about silencing it because up here-well, it’s so damned embarrassing.”
“May I kill it?”
“Well, there’s time to discuss that later.”
“There is no time. May I kill it?”
“Please, I never meant to be such a nuisance. Please-really-don’t bother. Look! It’s gone to sleep of its own accord. I’m sure it’ll be all right now. Thanks ever so much.”
“May I kill it?”
“Honestly, I don’t think there’s the slightest necessity for that. I’m sure I shall be able to keep it in
Nine Strategies P. Volkofsky 9
order now. I think the gradual process would be far better than killing it.” “The gradual process is of no use at all.”
“Don’t you think so? Well, I’ll think over what you’ve said very carefully. I honestly will. In fact I’d let you kill it now, but as a matter of fact I’m not feeling frightfully well to-day. It would be silly to do it now. I’d need to be in good health for the operation. Some other day, perhaps.”
“There is no other day. All days are present now.”
“Get back! You’re burning me. How can I tell you to kill it? You’d kill me if you did.”
“It is not so.”
“Why, you’re hurting me now.”
“I never said it wouldn’t hurt you. I said it wouldn’t kill you.”
“Oh, I know. You think I’m a coward. But it isn’t that. Really it isn’t. I say! Let me run back by tonight’s bus and get an opinion from my own doctor. I’ll come again the first moment I can.”
“This moment contains all moments.”
“Why are you torturing me? You are jeering at me. How can I let you tear me to pieces? If you wanted to help me, why didn’t you kill the damned thing without asking me–before I knew? It would be all over by now if you had.”
“I cannot kill it against your will. It is impossible. Have I your permission?”
The Angel’s hands were almost closed on the Lizard, but not quite. Then the Lizard began chattering to the Ghost so loud that even I could hear what it was saying.
“Be careful,” it said. “He can do what he says. He can kill me. One fatal word from you and he will! Then you’ll be without me for ever and ever. It’s not natural. How could you live? You’d be only a sort of ghost, not a real man as you are now. He doesn’t understand. He’s only a cold, bloodless abstract thing. It may be natural for him, but it isn’t for us. Yes, yes. I know there are no real pleasures now, only dreams. But aren’t they better than nothing? And I’ll be so good. I admit I’ve sometimes gone too far in the past, but I promise I won’t do it again. I’ll give you nothing but really nice dreams–all sweet and fresh and almost innocent. You might say, quite innocent …. ”
“Have I your permission?” said the Angel to the Ghost.
“I know it will kill me.”
“It won’t. But supposing it did?”
“You’re right. It would be better to be dead than to live with this creature.” “Then I may?”
“Damn and blast you! Go on can’t you? Get it over. Do what you like,” bellowed the Ghost: but ended, whimpering, “God help me. God help me.”
Next moment the Ghost gave a scream of agony such as I never heard on Earth. The Burning One Nine Strategies P. Volkofsky 10
closed his crimson grip on the reptile: twisted it, while it bit and writhed, and then flung it, broken backed, on the turf.
“Ow! That’s done for me,” gasped the Ghost, reeling backwards.
For a moment I could make out nothing distinctly. Then I saw, between me and the nearest bush, unmistakably solid but growing every moment solider, the upper arm and the shoulder of a man. Then, brighter still and stronger, the legs and hands. The neck and golden head materialised while I watched, and if my attention had not wavered I should have seen the actual completing of a man–an immense man, naked, not much smaller than the Angel. What distracted me was the fact that at the same moment something seemed to be happening to the Lizard. At first I thought the operation had failed. So far from dying, the creature was still struggling and even growing bigger as it struggled. And as it grew it changed. Its hinder parts grew rounder. The tail, still flickering, became a tail of hair that flickered between huge and glossy buttocks. Suddenly I started back, rubbing my eyes. What stood before me was the greatest stallion I have ever seen, silvery white but with mane and tail of gold. It was smooth and shining, rippled with swells of flesh and muscle, whinneying and stamping with its hoofs. At each stamp the land shook and the trees dindled.
The new-made man turned and clapped the new horse’s neck. It nosed his bright body. Horse and master breathed each into the other’s nostrils. The man turned from it, flung himself at the feet of the Burning One, and embraced them. When he rose I thought his face shone with tears, but it may have been only the liquid love and brightness (one cannot distinguish them in that country) which flowed from him. I had not long to think about it. In joyous haste the young man leaped upon the horse’s back. Turning in his seat he waved a farewell, then nudged the stallion with his heels. They were off before I well knew what was happening. There was riding if you like! I came out as quickly as I could from among the bushes to follow them with my eyes; but already they were only like a shooting star far off on the green plain, and soon among the foothills of the mountains. Then, still like a star, I saw them winding up, scaling what seemed impossible steeps, and quicker every moment, till near the dim brow of the landscape, so high that I must strain my neck to see them, they vanished, bright themselves, into the rose-brightness of that everlasting morning.’16
13 Luke 11:34
14 Heb 4:15
15 Lewis CS. Pilgrim’s Regress
16 Lewis CS The Great Divorce pp: 98 -103