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JohnGospel of John

Lorin Friesen, May 2017

This essay is a verse-by-verse description of the Gospel of John. It examines the text in detail, looks at the original Greek, and discusses the underlying symbolism, using the same symbology that was used to analyze the Revelation of John. This essay presents a cognitive theory of Christology, based upon the concept that Jesus is the Word made flesh, who descended from God.

Due to the length of this essay, I have split it up into four parts. This part looks at John 7-12. The first part examines John 1-6. The third part examines John 13-18. The fourth part examines John 18-21. I have also included a table of contents.

All scriptural references are taken from the NASB.

Table of Contents

John 1-6

7:1-9 Disbelieving Family

7:10-18 Manipulating MMNs

7:19-31 Hypocrisy

7:32-44 Jesus as Mythical Hero

7:45-52 Lawless Leaders

8:1-11 Woman Caught in Adultery

8:12-18 The Source for Jesus

8:19-29 The Source for Religious Leaders

8:30-40 Personal Motivation

8:41-47 Different Fathers

8:48-59 Driving Assumptions

9:1-3 Man Born Blind, Judaism, and Science

9:4 Window of Opportunity

9:5-9 Bringing Sight to Blind Beggar

9:10-29 Fixating on Methodology

9:30-38 Beggarly Wisdom

9:39-41 Judgment of God

10:1-6 A Shepherd

10:7-9 Door of the Sheepfold

10:10 Life versus Destruction

10:11-18 The Good Shepherd

10:19-21 Is Jesus Crazy?

10:22-41 I and the Father are One

Identity Self-image

12:1-8 Anointing of Jesus

11:1-2 Mary and Martha

11:3-16 Jesus loves Lazarus

11:17-37 Jesus Arrives at Bethany

11:38-46 Resurrection of Lazarus

Providence God and Righteousness

11:47-53 The Religious Leaders’ Response

Domain God the Father and Promotion

12:12-19 Triumphal Entry

12:20-36 The Greeks

12:37-50 Finished


John 13-18 John 18-21

Disbelieving Family 7:1-9

One might think that the battle is almost over, because incarnation has now descended to the level of the flesh with its MMNs of physical sensation. But the battle has actually just begun, because the interchange in chapter 6 occurred at the level of words. A verbal concept of God now extends to the level of the flesh, but it is still only a verbal concept of God.

Teacher thought wants general theories to apply everywhere without any exceptions. But a theory will only apply to some situation if the rest of the mind builds a connection to that situation. One can understand this distinction by comparing a theory with the rule of a government. Suppose that some tribal chief proclaims that he is ‘ruler over the entire inhabited world’. The chief may think that he rules over everyone, but his government only extends as far as the tribe has explored. There could be a group of people living on the other side of the mountains that have never heard of the chief. Therefore, the first step in extending the reign of the chief is to explore beyond the mountains and see who is there. This exploring happened in chapter 6 as Jesus proclaimed his message in increasingly personal ways. If a new tribe is encountered, then the next question is whether these new individuals will submit to the reign of the chieftain.

Chapter 7 opens by telling us that a battle has started: “After these things Jesus was walking in Galilee, for He was unwilling to walk in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him” (v.1). Looking at this cognitively, when two mental networks are triggered, then each will attempt to impose its structure upon the other. The TMN of a concept of God is now being triggered at the same time as MMNs of culture and identity, and the MMNs are responding by trying to shut down the intruding TMN.

For instance, a similar response typically occurs when I share the theory of mental symmetry. The theory of mental symmetry began as a system of cognitive styles based in Romans 12. Don and Katie Fortune started studying and teaching Romans 12 spiritual gifts about the same time that my brother did. They have given seminars for decades, the character traits that they teach are reasonably similar to the traits that we have discovered, and their book has sold about 300,000 copies. In contrast, when I talk to people about cognitive styles, they typically show great initial interest, but this usually lasts only a few weeks before the topic is dropped. The difference in response can be explained by conflicting mental networks. The Fortunes describe cognitive styles in a way that doesn’t threaten MMNs of Christian fundamentalism. Their description emphasizes the need for character improvement but not personal transformation. And their treatment of cognitive styles is not held together by the TMN of an integrated understanding.

Jesus says of the Jews were ‘seeking to kill him’, and he accuses others of trying to kill him in verse 19. This is strong language, but I know from personal experience what it feels like. When one goes beyond talking about theory to embodying theory, then personal identity will become intertwined with understanding. This is a good thing—if understanding rules over personal identity; if one only does what one sees the Father doing. But it also means that those who reject understanding are rejecting me. For instance, when a person shows great initial interest in mental symmetry and then drops the subject like a hot potato and refuses to talk about the subject again, then cognitively speaking, that person is trying to kill me, because I try to embody my understanding. After experiencing this enough times, one gradually learns how to continue smiling, pretend that one knows nothing, and avoid the subject. Jesus responds in a similar fashion by remaining within Galilee and staying away from Judea. I only experience a partial feeling of rejection from others, because the partial incarnation of science and technology now exists. For instance, I currently make most of my money tutoring math and physics, as well as working with computers. For Jesus, this option did not exist, because Judaism had chosen to follow mysticism and nationalism rather than scientific thought. Thus, the rejection that he experienced was total. (This means that the Jews actually rejected the concept of an incarnation in the centuries before Christ, causing them to instinctively reject Jesus as the Incarnation.)

When Jesus asks in verse 19, “Why do you seek to kill me?”, the crowd responds “You have a demon! Who seeks to kill you?” Looking at this from personal experience, the average person does not know what it feels like to have an understanding of the mind that guides personal behavior. Thus, when people reject the theory of mental symmetry and I respond by trying to defend myself from personal attack, then people usually think that I am overreacting: “Who seeks to kill you?” And people often worry about me being driven by some strange obsession: “You have a demon!”

One can respond to such rejection either by trying to defend oneself or by seeing rejection as an opportunity to uncover and deal with MMNs of culture and status within one’s mind. I have tried as much as possible to respond in the second manner, largely because responding in a negative manner leads inexorably to self-destruction. This kind of positive response is described at the beginning of chapter 7.

Verse 2 says that “the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was near.” During Sukkoth, Jews eat and sleep within temporary shelters, in order to be reminded of the period when the Jews traveled through the wilderness and did not have any permanent homes. Cognitively speaking, Sukkoth is a time of distancing oneself from MMNs of culture and identity, which is precisely the topic that is being discussed.

Jesus’ family tells him to do some marketing: “Therefore His brothers said to Him, ‘Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing’” (v.3). In other words, go to celebrations and celebrities that have Mercy status and make an emotional splash. This type of approach is often used to spread the Christian message. For instance, a famous person may be asked to endorse the Christian message, or the Christian message may be publicly proclaimed at some well-known event, such as the Olympics. For a mind that is based upon MMNs, it seems obvious that if one has an understanding that really does apply to people, then one should use marketing to spread this understanding: “For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world” (v.4). However, this type of response indicates that one does not grasp what it means to be guided by the TMN of concept of God: “For not even His brothers were believing in Him” (v.5).

Jesus then points out two characteristics of embodying a Teacher message. First, timing will become important: “So Jesus said to them, ‘My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune’” (v.6). Looking at this more generally, I suggest that this is a simple way of determining whether one is being guided personally by Teacher understanding or by Mercy status. If Mercy status is in charge, then one will feel driven to do something now. A nagging feeling that ‘I should do something to market my message’ will be present. That is because Mercy thought thinks in terms of experience and not time. If I am experiencing rejection, then something needs to be done—now. In contrast, Teacher thought thinks in terms of time and sequence. Therefore one will feel at peace about doing nothing right now to market the message because one will recognize the importance of timing.

Second, embodying a Teacher message will cause a person to be naturally hated by those who follow cultural MMNs: “The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil” (v.7). (Going the other way, being hated by others does not necessarily mean that one is embodying a message from God. One can become hated for many reasons.) Jesus tells his brothers that the world cannot hate them. That is because marketing appeals to MMNs of status and culture. In contrast, Jesus is questioning the actions of society. He is being guided by the TMN of a concept of God to act in a way that threatens established MMNs. (The word translated world is cosmos, which describes the mental networks of the world system.)

For instance, people have sometimes asked me why I do not package the theory of mental symmetry as a seminar for corporations. After all, it would be very useful for employees to know their cognitive styles. I have examined some corporate seminars and I have noticed that there is a critical difference between their content and my content. The typical corporate seminar teaches useful information, but it does not question the underlying motivations of the corporate world. It helps people to become better employees. Mental symmetry, in contrast, questions the corporate system itself: ‘Why are you pursuing peripheral wealth while ignoring personal transformation? Why are you giving your life to a corporation? Why are you selling your soul to the system?’ Basic questions such as these arise naturally from the theory of mental symmetry. They ‘testify of this world, that its deeds are evil’. (The downfall of an economy that seeks peripheral value while ignoring personal worth is described in Revelation 18.) Again I should point out that I only experience partial rejection, because major aspects of society and research are governed by Teacher understanding. Thus, I find that I can communicate significantly with others about reasonably important topics, and that it is possible to have fairly meaningful relationships with others, as long as I am careful to avoid focusing too heavily upon either mental symmetry or the fundamental shortcomings of current society. Going the other way, I continually encounter topics where I need to learn from others, because they have more knowledge and maturity than I do. Jesus, unfortunately, did not have this privilege, because scientific thinking had not emerged.

Jesus does not try to convince his family but rather tells them to go to the feast without him: “‘Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come.’ Having said these things to them, He stayed in Galilee” (v.8-9). Looking at this cognitively, if someone does not understand what it means to follow a TMN of God, one should not respond by attacking the MMNs that drive such a person. That is because the mind cannot exist without core mental networks. A person cannot let go of existing core mental networks unless they internally possess an alternative set of mental networks.

Manipulating MMNs 7:10-18

I have mentioned that Jesus does not appeal to MMNs of culture and status. This does not mean he ignores or suppresses these MMNs. Instead, Jesus stops merely conveying information and starts manipulating MMNs. In chapter 6, the message of incarnation extended to the level of personal MMNs. In chapter 7, Jesus starts manipulating MMNs. Manipulating mental networks sounds Machiavellian, and those who act in this manner are usually either evil or psychopathic. However, what really matters is one’s basis for manipulation. The mind of the average person is built upon core mental networks of society, and is emotionally incapable of questioning these core mental networks, because that would be the mental equivalent of sawing off the branch upon which one is sitting. A psychopath is able to manipulate core mental networks because such a person does not feel normal emotions. Such an individual “is incapable of feeling guilt, remorse, or empathy for their actions. They are generally cunning, manipulative and know the difference between right and wrong, but dismiss it as applying to them.” Jesus, in contrast, has an alternative emotional foundation. His mind is built upon the TMN of a concept of God, which has now extended to include MMNs of society.

Early Christians were persecuted primarily because they violated MMNs of society. As this BBC website explains, “Pagans were probably most suspicious of the Christian refusal to sacrifice to the Roman gods. This was an insult to the gods and potentially endangered the empire which they deigned to protect. Furthermore, the Christian refusal to offer sacrifices to the emperor, a semi-divine monarch, had the whiff of both sacrilege and treason about it.”

One major sign that one is no longer ruled by societal MMNs is that one can perform an activity without having to appeal to the approval of others. Thus, Jesus goes up to the feast without seeking publicity: “But when His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He Himself also went up, not publicly, but as if, in secret” (v.10). Compare this with the ‘hypocrites’ described in the Sermon on the Mount: “When you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men… When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men” (Matt. 6:2,5).

John describes the methods that Jesus uses to manipulate societal MMNs:

Jesus encourages a sense of mystery: “So the Jews were seeking Him at the feast and were saying, ‘Where is He?’” (v.11). Looking at this cognitively, I have mentioned that the facts limit overgeneralization. Mystery requires a lack of factual knowledge, which makes it possible for the mind to exaggerate, leading to strong emotions that attract the attention of Exhorter thought. This sense of mystery is heightened because no one can talk openly about the subject: “Yet no one was speaking openly of Him for fear of the Jews” (v.13).

Jesus also encourages conflicting mental networks: “There was much grumbling among the crowds concerning Him; some were saying, ‘He is a good man’; others were saying, ‘No, on the contrary, He leads the people astray’” (v.12). Instead of responding to the grumbling of the people, as he did previously, Jesus allows this grumbling to continue and grow. The cognitive reason for this was mentioned earlier. Conflicting mental networks maximize free will, because a person is able to choose between one mental network and another. Notice that this conflict is not between good and evil but rather between two methods of defining goodness. One group notices that Jesus upholds existing standards, assigning a Mercy label of goodness to Jesus: “He is a good man”. The other group notices that Jesus is following a new standard, pointing out the effect that Teacher thought is having upon the actions of Jesus: “he leads the people astray”. Saying this more generally, one does not follow God by violating existing standards but rather by submitting to a higher standard. This is quite different than the psychopath who violates standards while giving the external impression of following standards.

Jesus began the chapter by telling his brothers that it was not time for him to speak. In the middle of the week-long feast, he decides that it is time to start talking: “But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and began to teach” (v.14). In other words, following timing does not mean never saying anything but rather saying the right thing at the right time.

The crowd is amazed at the quality of Jesus’ teaching, because he does not have a formal education: “The Jews then were astonished, saying, ‘How has this man become learned, having never been educated?’” (v.15). Jesus does not use this to gain personal status, but rather explains why he is so clever. He is being guided by the TMN of a concept of God: “So Jesus answered them and said, ‘My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me’” (v.16). He is teaching universal principles that can be independently verified by those who are willing to apply understanding in righteousness: “If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself” (v.17). Jesus is not seeking MMNs of personal status, but rather trying to expand the TMN of the rule of God: “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him” (v.18). Such a person is truth and lacks unrighteousness: “He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him” (v.18).

Jesus is describing an important cognitive principle, which I have also discovered. There is an intellectual benefit to embodying righteousness. When one follows the TMN of a concept of God to the point of guiding MMNs of personal identity, then concrete thought becomes an assistant to abstract thought. The objective scientist has to protect rational thought by suppressing subjective emotions. This means that he is actually doing research with only half of a mental computer, because he has to devote considerable mental resources to ensuring that he is actually pursuing rational thought and not being self-deceived. The individual who embodies righteousness, in contrast, is doing research with two mental computers, because subjective identity has been reprogrammed to be a reflection of abstract understanding. The end result is that rational thought actually becomes seeded and guided by subjective emotions and visual imagination.

Richard Feynman, the famous physicist, achieved this level of embodied righteousness in the realm of physics. (Feynman did not function at this level of righteousness as a person, but still provides a partial example of the intellectual benefits of embodied righteousness.) Feynman referred to this as imagination in a straitjacket: “The game I play is a very interesting one. It’s imagination in a straitjacket, which is this: that it has to agree with the known laws of physics… It requires imagination to think of what’s possible, and then it requires an analysis back, checking to see whether it fits, whether its allowed, according to what’s known, okay?”

If one wishes to think at this level of embodied righteousness, then one must become truth and get rid of all unrighteousness. This cannot be done through self-effort, but it can happen slowly, painfully, and inexorably as the result of being driven by the TMN of a concept of God. It is slow because all existing mental networks have to be re-evaluated in the light of the TMN of God. It is painful because existing mental networks are not suppressed or ignored, but rather reshaped. And it is inexorable because a TMN of God is emotionally driven to continue expanding until it explains everything and everyone. In practical terms, this means consistently applying understanding, choosing not to pursue personal status, being willing to accept rejection, and never selling one’s soul to the system, no matter what the cost. This is quite different than denying self in order to be a missionary in some foreign field, because the typical missionary is very much guided by MMNs of religious status and approval. He may be denying self, but he does so in a manner that is highly approved by church culture and church leadership. Instead, what is being described here is a person of deep personal integrity and internal consistency: someone who is truth and lacks unrighteousness.

I am not implying that all missionaries lack integrity. But one can only reach the level of embodied righteousness by following God rather than men at a deep personal level, which means going through a period of time during which one is guided only by an internal concept of God without receiving approval or financial backing from some supporting group. Missionaries who have not gone through such a wilderness experience tend to exude an aura of spiritual entitlement, an implicit assumption that they deserve support from others because they are ‘denying themselves for God’.

Hypocrisy 7:19-31

Jesus then points out that the Jews are not following their own MMNs: “Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law?” (v.19). In other words, they claim to give great emotional status to Moses, but they are not doing what Moses says. At the end of John 5, Jesus was preaching at the Jews, trying to get them to believe in him. Jesus is using a different method here, pointing out that they are being inconsistent with their own beliefs. Similarly, he emphasizes that they need to follow their own beliefs more completely: “If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses will not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made an entire man well on the Sabbath?” (v.23). If one does work on the Sabbath in order to make someone a Jew, then what is wrong with doing work on the Sabbath in order to make someone whole? Jesus then repeats his traditional emphasis upon righteousness in a more personal form: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (v.24).

I have found these two principles to be very effective with analyzing authors and systems: First, what happens when one takes the statements of an author and applies them to the author himself? Does the system survive, or does it fall apart? I have found that most systems do not survive when they are applied to themselves. I have also found that applying a system to itself often helps to uncover the core mental networks that are driving that system. Similarly, Jesus follows his statement that the Jews are not practicing their own law by focusing upon underlying motivation: “Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” (v.19).

Looking at this cognitively, absolute truth bases Perceiver facts in MMNs of personal status. When one applies this to itself, one finds that religious experts often do not practice what they preach. That is because one will only believe absolute truth if one feels that the source of truth is far more important than personal identity. However, if I become a religious expert, then I will acquire personal status, and I will no longer feel that absolute truth applies to me, because I will no longer feel that the source of absolute truth is far more important than my personal identity. Instead, my attention will turn towards maintaining my emotional status, and the easiest way to do this is by eliminating other individuals who threaten my emotional status. Thus, the Jews claim that Moses gave them the Law, but they do not feel that they have to carry out this law. Instead, they are trying to kill Jesus because he threatens their authority. Jesus then points out the underlying problem: “I did one deed, and you all marvel” (v.21). They are thinking in terms of emotional Mercy experiences. When Jesus does something, they view it as a special experience in Mercy thought without applying any critical thinking.

The second principle is extending what someone else is already doing. The Jews are already practicing circumcision on the Sabbath in order to make an infant a member of God’s chosen people. Jesus suggests that bringing healing from God on the Sabbath is an extension of what the Jews are already doing. And Jesus reminds his audience that circumcision existed before the ultimate religious expert of Moses arrived on the scene. (Jewish circumcision began with Abraham and Isaac.) Looking at this cognitively, Jesus is encouraging his listeners in a practical way to use Teacher thought. Teacher thought wants principles to apply more widely. When one extends the application of some general principle, one is using Teacher thought. The Jews are viewing circumcision as an important Mercy experience given by an important Mercy expert to an important group of people in order to demonstrate how important they are in the eyes of the Most Important Person. Using religious language, Moses gave circumcision to the Jews to signify that they are God’s chosen people. Jesus is telling them to switch mental gears and use Teacher thought. Instead of thinking of personal status, think of personal wholeness. Wholeness is a Teacher concept, because Teacher thought feels good when all the parts of a machine, mind, or physical body function properly in an integrated manner. Similarly, Teacher thought feels good when a core principle, such as circumcision, is applied more generally. Jesus focuses upon Teacher emotions: “Are you angry with me because I made an entire man well?” Are they responding with a negative emotion because Jesus applied Teacher wholeness to personal identity in Mercy thought? Jesus concludes by telling them that their judging should be guided by applying Teacher understanding to Server actions and not by Mercy feelings generated by physical appearance: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (v.24).

Obviously, it would have been much easier for Jesus to apply these two principles if science had been known. First, a scientist who discovers a scientific law is strongly encouraged to apply this law to himself as well. That is because everyone spends their entire life trapped within a physical body that is inescapably subject to physical law. Second, science by its very nature goes beyond surface appearance to underlying principles, and a scientific hypothesis makes a general statement by extending specific observations. Instead, Jesus was forced to extrapolate from the religious practice of circumcision.

Using modern religious language, this is like extrapolating from ‘asking Jesus in your heart’. If one becomes justified before God by applying words to personal identity, then by extension, it makes sense that one also becomes sanctified before God by applying words to personal identity. In the words of Paul, “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude” (Col. 2:6-7). Summarizing, both becoming a Christian and growing as a Christian involve being verbally instructed, receiving this with gratitude, and applying this in faith.

It is easy to reject the words of someone who is preaching at you, because an adversarial context already exists. It is much more difficult to respond to someone who takes your own words and either extends them or else applies them to you. Similarly, the crowd notices uncertainty in the Jewish leaders: “So some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is this not the man whom they are seeking to kill? Look, He is speaking publicly, and they are saying nothing to Him. The rulers do not really know that this is the Christ, do they?” (v.25-26). When experts are uncertain, then it becomes possible for the average person to think and choose, because MMNs of status and society are no longer projecting a monolithic emotional message.

The crowd deals with this uncertainty by applying the basic premise of mysticism: Anything that has content cannot come from God because God transcends all human content: “We know where this man is from; but whenever the Christ may come, no one knows where He is from” (v.27). Jesus responds by accepting their statement while correcting the underlying flaw. They are correct in saying that Jesus has human content: “Then Jesus cried out in the temple, teaching and saying, ‘You both know Me and know where I am from’” (v.28). But they do not understand the concept of human content being guided by Teacher understanding, while Jesus does: “...and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. I know Him, because I am from Him, and He sent Me” (v.28-29).

Most current theological thinking goes one step further than the Jewish audience. It is now generally accepted that Jesus lived as a man within the world of human content, and that Jesus-the-man is God in incarnate form. However, current theology still does not know what it means to be sent by God, but instead insists that incarnation is an incomprehensible mystery. Thus, the domain of mysticism has been limited, but the mindset of mysticism still rules supreme: Most people now believe that some aspects of the character of God can be understood and applied, but the fundamental traits of the Trinitarian God are still regarded as beyond human comprehension.

John tells us that “They were seeking to seize Him; and no man laid his hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come” (v.30). One can interpret this both cognitively and spiritually. Cognitively speaking, a person who embodies Teacher understanding in a righteous manner will exude an emotional classiness that will tend to protect such a person. One sees this in the typical Server person. Even though they tend to copy the actions of others, they have an inherent air of self-contained classiness that prevents others from totally stepping on them. One can imagine that this aura would have been projected quite strongly by Jesus, who only did what he saw the Father doing. Looking at this spiritually, it appears that the spiritual realm enhances the cognitive realm, adding power to existing mental networks. Therefore, when one follows God in righteousness to the extent of transforming networks of personal identity, then it is also possible for the spiritual realm to empower these transformed mental networks.

The crowd is not capable of using Teacher thought, but they do progress to the point of being able to compare the Mercy status of one expert with another: “Many of the crowd believed in Him; and they were saying, ‘When the Christ comes, He will not perform more signs than those which this man has, will He?’” (v.31).

Jesus as Mythical Hero 7:32-44

We have seen how Jesus took advantage of an inherent contradiction within the minds of the religious leaders. But when these leaders respond by officially and corporately choosing to use physical force to impose MMNs of status upon Jesus, then Jesus recognizes that his tactics have only brought him a temporary reprieve: “The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about Him, and the chief priests and the Pharisees sent officers to seize Him. Therefore Jesus said, ‘For a little while longer I am with you, then I go to Him who sent Me’” (v.32-33). Jesus does not say that he has lost because, unlike normal humans, he is not based in Mercy thought. Instead, he says that he will ‘go to Him who sent me’, indicating that he will return to Teacher thought. Because others are incapable of following Teacher thought, they will be unable to find him or go to where he is going: “You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come” (v.34). As we saw when looking at Orthodox Church, early Christian believers did search for Jesus, but they could not find Jesus or go where he went, because he was using Teacher thought while they were mentally imprisoned by mysticism combined with MMNs of status and culture. This does not mean that the early church had no Christian impact. Rather, it means that the early church lost most of its Christian impact when it stopped being persecuted and became the official state religion. That is because a mystical version of Christianity is still capable of functioning as a spiritual hospital.

The crowd misinterprets this statement from a Mercy perspective, thinking in terms of the split between religious and secular: “The Jews then said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find Him? He is not intending to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks, is He?” (v.35). Reading between the lines, they may be saying, “Jesus, you are such a brilliant scholar that you could even make it in the secular academic world. Are you going to leave our religious academic realm in order be one of the real experts?” If this encounter occurred today, then many religious experts would probably feel such sentiments.

One can tell that Jesus’ comments are striking an emotional nerve, because they think about what Jesus said: “What is this statement that He said, ‘You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come’?” (v.36). Looking at this cognitively, the religious leaders have realized in this chapter that Jesus is in some way fundamentally different and special. Therefore, when Jesus says that he is about to go someplace where they cannot go even if they seek, then they have a gut suspicion that he is right. Notice that Jesus does not tell them where he is going but rather leaves them pondering an uncertainty.

Looking at this cognitively, in verse 27 the crowd concluded that Jesus cannot come from God because they know the human content of Jesus and they know that God transcends all human content. But Jesus is no longer being viewed by the crowds as a normal human being. In verse 15 they were astonished at his teaching, in verse 30 he exudes a presence that stops them from seizing him, and in verse 31 he is no longer being compared with normal experts but rather being compared with the promised Messiah. Thus, Jesus has mentally moved from the realm of known human content to something different and unknown. When Perceiver facts are uncertain, then Teacher thought is free to overgeneralize, and when Teacher thought starts overgeneralizing about the nature of Jesus, then one is using the same kind of thinking to think about Jesus as mysticism uses to think about God. And when Jesus becomes mystically associated with God, then it is only a matter of time before mysticism will equate Jesus with God, because the fundamental premise of mysticism is that All is One.

This explains why most theologians regard Jesus-as-God as an incomprehensible mystery. If both God the Father and God the Son are regarded mentally as ‘shapeless blobs’, then one can use overgeneralization to believe the scriptural doctrine that God the Son is one with God the Father. Such a method will only work if one uses adjectives such as transcendent to describe God and incarnation, and not crude terms such as ‘shapeless blobs’. That is because transcendent implies that one is using something higher than Perceiver thought, while shapeless blob implies that one is not using Perceiver thought. However, if one examines the underlying cognitive mechanisms, then one concludes that shapeless blob is the more accurate description.

Jesus reinforces this mindset by exploiting religious MMNs: “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water”’” (v.37-38). Commentators have pointed out that during each day of the Feast of Tabernacles, a procession of priests would go to the pool of Siloam, draw water, bring it back to the Temple, and then pour out water as an offering to God. However, this ritual was probably not carried out during the last day of the feast. Thus, when the priests stop bringing water, then Jesus proclaims that he has a better source of water. The obvious cognitive principle is that Jesus is not speaking in an emotional vacuum, but rather attaching his message to existing religious mental networks. The implicit message is that Jesus is better and different than the existing religious experts, emotionally reinforcing what the people already are feeling about Jesus.

Jesus does not proclaim new facts but rather quotes from existing absolute truth: ‘as the Scripture said’. And he redirects the attention from physical Mercy experiences to internal Mercy thought: ‘from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water’. The difference between marketing and what Jesus is doing lies in which mental networks are in control. Marketing appeals to existing MMNs of culture, which provide the emotional reference point for thinking. The reference point for Jesus is the internal Platonic forms of the spirit, and he is using cultural reference points as illustrations of a deeper reality: “But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (v.39).

This leads to another argument over the identity of Jesus. The mindset is still based upon Mercy experiences, but the attention has changed from normal Mercy experiences to religious ones. In verse 12, the crowds were arguing over whether Jesus was a good man or leading the people astray. Those are both statements that one would make about a normal political or religious leader. What is being asked now is quite different: “Some of the people therefore, when they heard these words, were saying, ‘This certainly is the Prophet.’ Others were saying, ‘This is the Christ’” (v.40-41). As was mentioned earlier when looking at the identity of John the Baptist, Messiah and prophet are two of the main promised religious figures in Judaism. Thus, Jesus is being regarded as a religious expert, but not one with normal status but rather one with mythical status. Using an analogy, previously the crowds were asking whether Jesus was a George Washington or a Benedict Arnold. Now they are asking whether he is Superman or Batman.

Making this mental shift from normal expert to special expert would have been much easier if people had understood science. We saw when discussing the ladder of generality that one makes a shift from real experiences to Platonic forms whenever solving a scientific problem. One can tell that Jesus is referring to this shift because John specifically says that ‘he spoke of the Spirit’. If people had understood science, then Jesus could have said something like ‘I am not a normal person. Instead, I am a Platonic form who expresses the universal nature of God’. But instead, all that Jesus could do was implicitly lead people to conclude that he was a mythical person and not a normal person.

It is interesting that Jesus does not answer an obvious question. The crowd quotes from the Bible: “Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the descendants of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” (v.42). It would have been easy for Jesus to have clarified this confusion by pointing out that he was a descendant of David born in Bethlehem. But he allows the debate to continue without supplying this simple piece of information. Similarly, in verse 52 the religious leaders point out that “no prophet arises out of Galilee”.

There is a cognitive reason for Jesus’ silence. Mysticism uses Teacher overgeneralization, which cannot handle specific details. If Jesus wishes to be regarded as a mythical person rather than a real person, then his identity must remain vague and the discussion must not descend to the level of specific facts. This may sound like an overstatement, but one can see this principle illustrated repeatedly in the theology of Berkhof. That is why this section uses the term ‘mythical person’. If one starts with a rational concept of God, then it is possible to view Jesus as the incarnation of God, and use rational thought to analyze the nature of incarnation. However, if one starts with a mystical concept of God, then Jesus can only go beyond being viewed as a normal human by entering the realm of myth with its vague statements. A mythical concept of Jesus is better than a purely materialistic one, because it allows the mind to look for general principles behind the specific details of the life of Jesus. However, any general principles that are discovered must remain somewhat vague in order to leave the underlying overgeneralization of mysticism intact. In contrast, I have found that a cognitive concept of Jesus makes it possible to search for general principles while retaining both rational thought and a respect for the content of Scripture.

Lawless Leaders 7:45-52

Jesus manages to convince the officers but not the religious authorities: “The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, and they said to them, ‘Why did you not bring Him?’ The officers answered, ‘Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks’” (v.45-46). The word translated officer means ‘a subordinate executing official orders’. Looking at this cognitively, an officer is mentally different than a leader. A leader uses personal status to act as a source of law, while an officer obeys the law that comes from leaders. We saw previously that Jesus exploited an inconsistency between the MMNs of personal status and the content being taught by experts with personal status. The officers resolved this internal conflict by focusing upon the content spoken by Jesus: ‘Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks’. The leaders, in contrast, resolved the internal conflict by using personal status to impose content: ‘The chief priests and the Pharisees sent officers to seize Him’. The general principle is that the way that one deals with religious truth will probably be determined by one’s personal relationship with truth in normal life. This is a scary principle, because it means that one’s occupation can either open one’s eyes to Jesus or else blind one’s eyes to seeing Jesus. (That will be the theme of John 9.)

John describes the response of the religious leaders in more detail: “The Pharisees then answered them, ‘You have not also been led astray, have you?’” (v.47). The focus is not upon truth but rather upon guidance. Jesus is causing the people to ‘go astray, get off-course; to deviate from the correct path’. How do the leaders know that Jesus is leading the people astray? Because all the religious experts reject him: “No one of the rulers or Pharisees has believed in Him, has he?” (v.48). But what about all the people who believe in Jesus? They are ignorant and ‘accursed, doomed to destruction’: “But this crowd which does not know the Law is accursed: (v.49). Notice the circular reasoning: Jesus is wrong because we are the experts and we all know that Jesus is wrong. The people are ignorant because we are the official experts who are the source of truth, and we reject the opinions of the people because we have official status and they do not.

A similar situation exists in the world today. Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology analyzed the relationship between 43,000 transnational corporations and “found much of it tracked back to a ‘super-entity’ of 147 even more tightly knit companies – all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity – that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network.” Notice again the implicit circular reasoning. Wealth, which equates to power in today’s economic world, is concentrated in a few companies, who own each other and therefore only have to listen to each other. Translating this into language of John: Morality is irrelevant because we are CEOs of multinational companies and we all know that morality can be ignored. The average person knows nothing about morality because we are the CEOs who control the wealth, and we reject the opinions of the people because we are important and they are not. I am not suggesting that all CEOs of multinational corporations are amoral, but it is becoming clear that this describes the attitude of the majority of today’s ruling elite.

Similarly, some of the religious leaders in Jesus’ time also questioned the attitude of the majority: “Nicodemus (he who came to Him before, being one of them) said to them, ‘Our Law does not judge a man unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it?’” (v.50-51). In other words, some of the experts are legitimate experts. They have ‘conquered the people’ not by imposing personal status but rather by gaining expertise. And these legitimate experts are pointing out that decisions need to be guided by knowledge and the rule of law.

One final comment about this chapter. Chapter 6 was interpreted primarily from a symbolic perspective, while in chapter 7 we have been looking at the text more literally. I suggest that there is a cognitive reason for this distinction. The primary topic of chapter 6 was abstract thought. When people are incapable of abstract thought, then one can only deal with abstract thought in a symbolic manner. In contrast, the primary topic of chapter 7 is manipulating mental networks of culture and status. Jesus’ audience lived within a nonscientific world that was driven by such mental networks. Therefore, it was possible to deal with this topic in a much more literal fashion, which also means that my analysis of chapter 7 was probably easier to understand than the analysis of chapter 6.

Woman Caught in Adultery 8:1-11

Chapter 8 focuses upon motivation, comparing the core mental networks that drive Jesus with those that drive the religious leaders. Summarizing what we have seen so far, Chapter 3 stated the need to be born again. This is normally seen as primarily a religious experience, but the focus of chapter 3 is upon the effect that being born again has upon abstract technical thought. If one is not born again, then rational thought will merely be a veneer that is added to a core of childish MMNs. Chapter 4 developed these two paths further. If one is born again, then it is possible to form a rational concept of God within Teacher thought. Otherwise, incarnation will viewed as the servant, protector, and healer of religious tradition. Chapter 5 discussed righteousness, focusing upon adding Server actions to a Teacher understanding of God. The focus of chapter 6 was embodiment, which means pursuing rational thought and righteousness to the point of affecting mental networks of identity. Chapter 7 revealed a new way of sharing understanding. Instead of preaching at another person, one uses rational thought to guide core mental networks within the mind of the listener. Chapter 7 recognized that people in society are driven by their core mental networks. Chapter 8 will go one step further by comparing the mental networks that drive Jesus with those that drive the religious leaders. Saying this another way, the contrast in chapter 8 is a result of the choice made in chapter 3. Those who are born again in chapter 3 will follow a path that leads eventually to the transformed motivation of chapter 8, while those who are not born again in chapter 3 will eventually lose their veneer of rational thought.

This contrast is portrayed in symbolic form by two short statements that bridge chapters 7 and 8: “Everyone went to his home. But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives” (7:53-8:1). A home symbolizes MMNs of personal existence. ‘Everyone going to his home’ implies that the religious leaders are emotionally returning to the level of personal MMNs. Consistent with this, the statements of the religious leaders in chapter 8 descend to the level of personal attack. A mountain represents a big picture, the pragmatic version of a general understanding. And olive oil is traditionally viewed as as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Looking at this cognitively, my general hypothesis is that liquid always represents some aspect of Mercy thought. Water represents experiences in general, wine represents MMNs of culture, blood represents MMNs of identity, while olive oil represents the Holy Spirit. Thus, Jesus is also finding a personal home in Mercy thought—in the Platonic forms of the spirit that are an expression of Teacher understanding.

The chapter opens with the story of the woman caught in adultery. This story is not in the earliest manuscripts, but I see no reason to exclude it because it fits the context. Verse 2 says that “Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them.” If the sun represents a general theory in Teacher thought, then coming again into the temple early in the morning implies that religious thought is being guided by the dawn of a new understanding, which is being taught to a receptive audience.

This teaching is interrupted by the arrival of religious leaders: “The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, ‘Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act’” (v.3-4). This simple description encapsulates an entire mindset. First, catching her in the very act tells us that they have been spying on people’s private lives. Thus, they are focusing upon personal MMNs. Second, in order to catch her in the act, she was probably set up in some way, telling us that they are manipulating circumstances in order to generate bad personal MMNs. Third, no mention is made of the man with whom she was having sex. If they caught her in the act, then he was also present. In other words, they are focusing upon desirable mental networks triggered by female beauty and are ignoring how male thought responds to desirable mental networks. Fourth, not only do they spy upon what they regard as evil, but they make it the center of attention. Thus, MMNs of physical desire and beauty may be regarded as evil, but they also provide the mental reference point for thought. Fifth, they bring this ‘evil woman’ into the court of the Temple where Jesus is teaching, telling us that their minds are being driven more by MMNs of evil than by mental networks of God and religion. Sixth, their focus is upon a person and not upon general principles, again indicating the fixation upon personal MMNs. Seventh, they choose to focus upon the sin of adultery, the sin of identifying personally with MMNs of identity that do not belong to me. Muslim religious police provide a modern example of this mindset. (In 2016, Saudi Arabia stripped their religious police of the power to arrest, suggesting that some progress is being made in this area.)

The religious leaders continue by saying, “‘Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?’ They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him” (v.5-6). Continuing with our points: Eighth, law has become the servant of attacking MMNs regarded as evil. Ninth, they are responding physically to evil by trying to kill people. Tenth, they are willing to destroy the life of a person in order to prove a point, telling us that what really matters is maintaining personal status in Mercy thought, no matter what effect this has upon other people. Eleventh, their primary goal is not to build personal value, but rather to accuse others.

The religious leaders are trying to catch Jesus by exploiting the fundamental division between religious and secular thought. The religious law of Moses says that such a woman should be killed, while the secular law of Rome stated that only the Romans had the right to kill a person. This legal restriction is mentioned several chapters later when the religious leaders bring Jesus before the Roman governor: “So Pilate said to them, ‘Take Him yourselves, and judge Him according to your law.’ The Jews said to him, ‘We are not permitted to put anyone to death’” (John 18:31). Thus, if Jesus says that the woman should be stoned, then he will be condemned by secular law, but if he says that the woman should not be stoned, then he will be condemned by religious law. Looking at this cognitively, the religious leaders are assuming that there is a fundamental split between religious and secular MMNs of authority, and they are taking advantage of this split in order to preserve MMNs of personal status, attack MMNs of foes, and destroy the MMNs of anyone who gets caught in the middle of their machinations.

Jesus does not try to argue with this mindset but rather stoops to write on the ground: “But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground” (v.6-8). Some commentators have suggested that Jesus is writing down the sins of the religious leaders, and I find this interpretation attractive because it explains Jesus’ words as well as the response of the religious leaders. What Jesus writes must be connected in some way to the sins of the religious leaders, because he interrupts his writing by specifically asking the accusers if they are without sin.

This interpretation assumes that Jesus could read the minds of his accusers. Several verses in the Gospels, such as Matt. 9:4 or Matt. 12:25, suggest that Jesus had the ability to read people’s minds. One could interpret this as an expression of the divine nature of Jesus, but a similar telepathic ability can be found in most stories of encounters with UFOs. Quoting from one website, “the constancy of reported telepathy for over thirty-five years from all over the world strongly suggests that it is the ‘normal’ mode of communication for all aliens and humans during abduction events”. My general hypothesis is that UFOs and angels both come from the same supernatural ‘universe’. Old Testament references to ‘the angel of the Lord’ are generally viewed by theologians as pre-incarnate appearances of incarnation. If angelic creatures have telepathic abilities, and if Jesus appeared as an angel before becoming incarnate as a human, then Jesus as a human being would have continued to have angelic traits. This suggestion is backed up by repeated Gospel references to angels and spirits recognizing the identity of Jesus. I am not suggesting that Jesus was a space alien. Instead, I am pointing out that one can add details to the general statement that ‘Jesus is God’. If the second person of the Trinitarian God appeared as an angel before becoming incarnate as a human, then it makes sense that Jesus the human would also exhibit angelic traits—such as the ability to read minds.

This also provides a possible cognitive explanation for why Jesus began human life with a strong sense of righteousness. We have looked at the negative side of growing up in a physical body, which is that the mind becomes built upon childish MMNs. But there is also a positive side. One is forced to learn some common sense because one is trapped within the Perceiver object of a physical body within a world of Mercy experiences. My hypothesis is that angelic existence is the mirror image of human existence. More specifically, Perceiver is the mirror image of Server, and Teacher is the mirror image of Mercy. (The theory of mental symmetry was initially developed by examining such mental symmetries, which is why it is called the theory of mental symmetry.) An angel would be forced to learn some righteousness because of being trapped within the Server sequence of an angelic ‘body’ within a ‘world’ of Teacher waves and energy. Thus, it could be that Jesus’ innate sense of righteousness came from an angelic side that developed before his incarnation as a human. As usual, it appears that one can turn to science for illumination, because the relationship between angelic and human existence seems to be similar to the relationship between wave and particle that has been discovered by physics.

Returning to the book of John, the religious leaders have made the sin, and the person committing the sin, the center of attention. Jesus, in contrast, writes discreetly and John does not tell us what Jesus wrote. Jesus also looks down when writing, giving individuals the opportunity to leave without being personally confronted.

When they persist in asking him, he finally replies. Their trap has assumed an inherent lack of internal integrity. Jesus, in contrast, starts with personal integrity: Those who wish to impose truth upon others should first impose truth upon themselves. As Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount: “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:5). As we have seen, the religious leaders cannot see clearly, but rather are mentally blinded by MMNs of personal status and forbidden pleasure.

After making this general statement, Jesus continues to write on the ground. Perhaps he adds more details to what he has written before. Eventually the accusers leave, starting with the older ones: “When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones” (v.8). Older minds have had more time to reflect upon their actions. Therefore, if Jesus revealed the sins of the accusers, it makes sense that the older accusers would leave first. Eventually, only Jesus and the woman are left, with the woman still being the center of attention: “and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court” (v.9).

Jesus then changes the focus from condemnation to salvation: “Straightening up, Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more’” (v.10-11). The goal of Jesus is not to suppress evil MMNs and exalt MMNs of personal status, but rather to transform personal MMNs. This is consistent with the concrete technical thinking of incarnation. A childish mindset manipulates MMNs in order to make me feel good and others feel bad. Incarnation is driven by the emotional bottom line of improving and transforming personal identity.

One can also interpret this story symbolically from a cognitive perspective. I have mentioned that the mind will only believe in absolute truth if the emotional source of truth is regarded as far more important than personal identity. This means that following God will naturally be associated with personal self-denial, leading to the conclusion that physical pleasure is inherently evil. But it is difficult to suppress physical pleasure when one lives in a physical body that generates feelings of pleasure. Therefore, those who practice religious self-denial will continually find themselves being drawn to forbidden physical pleasure. Religious leaders will tend to feel such temptation the strongest, because their personal status is already causing them to focus upon self and doubt absolute truth. Incarnation, in contrast does not suppress personal identity, but rather saves and transforms personal identity. Thus, a conflict will naturally emerge between condemnation of physical pleasure by religious leaders who promote absolute truth and transformation of personal identity by those who follow incarnation. This conflict will occur both externally between groups of people as well as internally between conflicting mindsets as a person is attempting to replace MMNs of childish identity and religious culture with MMNs of transformed identity.

A mind that has its source in MMNs of personal status will naturally be driven by internal voices of approval and disapproval. When incarnation descends from God to the point of transforming personal motives, then these internal voices will be silenced. This descending is symbolized by Jesus writing on the earth, because earth represents rational thought. Personal accusation will be gradually replaced by rational thinking. A similar mental transition is described in 1 John 3:19-22: “We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.” Notice how factual knowledge from God is overcoming feelings of personal condemnation. Instead of replacing one condemning voice with another, the end result is confidence before God. But this confidence before God does not come from ignoring moral rules, but rather from following them.

The Source for Jesus 8:12-18

The encounter with the woman illustrated that Jesus and the religious leaders are being guided by different sources. Jesus describes the nature of incarnation as a source: “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life’ (v.12). First, incarnation is light. Light clarifies, light brings understanding, light shows relationships. Saying this cognitively, abstract technical thought is being motivated to improve and expand Teacher understanding. The religious leaders, in contrast, are trying to trap Jesus, exploit contradictions, and use people. Second, incarnation lights the world. The goal is to build universal understanding. This is quite different than the religious leaders, who only care about preserving personal status. Cognitively speaking, Teacher thought wants general theories to become more general, while childish Mercy thought wants personal status to increase. Third, incarnation illuminates the path of those who follow. Remember that incarnation combines abstract technical thought with concrete technical thought. Concrete technical thought deals with actions and cause-and-effect. When one is mentally guided by a concept of incarnation, then abstract technical thought will provide illumination to the actions of concrete technical thought. One is not just thinking about light, but walking in the light. Fourth, this is the light of life. The end result of following incarnation is to renew Mercy mental networks of culture and identity.

As usual, one can use science to illustrate these four points. First, the goal of science is to build rational understanding. Second, science wants to gain an understanding of all natural processes. Third, the abstract thinking of science brings light to concrete actions through technology. Fourth, the goal of technology is to make physical objects function better. Notice that I said physical objects and not people. That is because science and technology improve objects while ignoring people. In the extreme, this leads to abominations such as smart bombs. A smart bomb is functioning better as a physical object than a dumb bomb. But bombs destroy people. Incarnation extends the objective thinking of science and technology to the subjective realm of the personal. Incarnation saves people as well as objects. Notice again that it is possible for us to compare incarnation with science and technology because science and technology now exist. Unfortunately, they did not exist during the time of Jesus.

The response of the Pharisees indicates the dominant mindset of that time: “So the Pharisees said to Him, ‘You are testifying about Yourself; Your testimony is not true’” (v.13). Instead of thinking about understanding, they focus upon personal authority. They are rejecting what Jesus says because he is building up his own status in Mercy thought. Translating this into modern language, ‘Your theory has not passed peer review. It is just your own personal opinion. Therefore, it must be false’. The primary purpose of peer review is to eliminate subjective bias and self-deception. Peer review is essential when scientists are not reborn, because childish MMNs have to be eliminated from scientific thought, which can be done by having ideas evaluated by other experts with different childish MMNs. Peer review can remove personal biases, but it cannot eliminate the underlying problem, which is that all scientists suffer from personal bias. Jesus points this out in the next verses.

Jesus acknowledges that he fails the test of peer review, but says that peer review itself is flawed: “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Even if I testify about Myself, My testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from or where I am going’” (v.14). Jesus is ‘testifying about himself’. But he understands the sequences of personal identity, while they do not. One could interpret this at two levels: First, one of the basic principles of scientific thought is to stop thinking in terms of experience and start thinking in terms of sequence. For instance, science looks beyond specific situations to examine natural processes. Cognitively speaking, Mercy thought focuses upon experience while Teacher thought thinks in terms of sequence. When one views personal identity in terms of sequence rather than experience, then this is a sign that one is going beyond personal bias. Second, there is also the sequence of incarnation. Jesus is descending from Teacher thought and he will return to Teacher thought. The sequence here is from Teacher to Mercy to Teacher. Jesus descended from God in Teacher thought. This made possible the birth of science, which started with the assumption that the universe was created by a rational God whose nature can be understood using Teacher thought. (One can see this assumption in the life and thinking of Johannes Kepler, the first to come up with modern scientific laws.) Similarly, the scientist starts by assuming that specific experiences are ruled by general theories in Teacher thought, and as Thomas Kuhn pointed out, every scientist views specific experiences through the lens of some paradigm in Teacher thought. Going the other way, incarnation will ascend back to God in Teacher thought. Similarly, the purpose of science is not to replace a concept of God with a godless theory of evolution, but rather to construct a transformed concept of God. Science must not end by declaring that nothing exists except physical reality. Instead, it must return to a general understanding that includes all forms of existence, whether physical, supernatural, spiritual, or divine. Finally, the purpose of science should not be just to produce better consumer gadgets or to make life better for a rich ruling class, but rather to improve all of existence for all people. Jesus points out that the religious leaders do not understand these concepts: ‘You do not know where I come from or where I am going’. And I think one can safely say that the average scientist or theologian today has only a partial understanding of these concepts.

Jesus then summarizes the underlying problem: “You judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone” (v.15). Religious leaders are being guided by childish MMNs to label personal mental networks as either good or bad. Jesus does not think in terms of good and bad people. But even if Jesus were labeling between good and bad, his thinking is being guided by two independent standards: “But even if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent Me” (v.16).

Expanding upon what was said when looking at chapter 7, Jesus is describing a basic principle of science, which is that science combines two independent forms of thought. One can either use the technical thinking of incarnation to analyze physical processes, or one can use the Teacher theories of mathematics, because both will lead to the same conclusions. What Jesus is describing is based upon righteousness but also goes beyond righteousness. Righteousness adds Server actions to Teacher understanding. If one continues to follow righteousness, then one eventually ends up with a mindset of righteousness that is capable of discovering truth independently of following Teacher understanding. For instance, practicing science has led to a scientific community that is capable of discovering more science. Similarly, practicing law and order has led to the institutions of democracy that are capable of following law and order. Looking at this more personally, if one practices righteousness to the extent of becoming righteous, then one will naturally think and act in a way that independently verifies and extends Teacher understanding. The problem today is that the primary method has become forgotten while the secondary method has become the only method. For instance, science is now viewed by most individuals as a description of how the scientific community behaves, while many scientists reject the idea that the universe is inherently governed by Teacher thought. But the scientific method can only discover laws of nature because these laws of nature exist. Similarly, democracy is now viewed by most individuals as a description of the institutions of democracy, while most politicians now reject the very concept of universal law. But institutions of democracy will only survive as long as the concept of universal law survives within the minds of citizens.

Jesus concludes that he is following a form of peer review. He is being guided by both Teacher understanding and by technical thought, which function independently to corroborate the findings of the other: “Even in your law it has been written that the testimony of two men is true. I am He who testifies about Myself, and the Father who sent Me testifies about Me” (v.17-18).

I have discovered a similar principle in my research, because much of my thinking is guided by two independent voices. First, I am guided by the general theory of mental symmetry in Teacher thought. Second, I am guided by observing how my own mind functions and develops. This methodology will only work if one consistently applies personally what one understands about the mind—one must embody righteousness. In other words, one cannot jump directly to John 8 but must first go through the preceding chapters.

Using self-analysis to study a mind that is driven by childish MMNs will fail. One may come up with some insights, but one will end up in a web of self-deception. The self-analysis of Sigmund Freud provides a prime example. Instead of bringing understanding to the mind, one will end up worshiping and serving a God in one’s own image. This also is illustrated by Sigmund Freud. As Wikipedia explains, “in Moses and Monotheism Freud applied to history ‘the same method of interpretation that he used in the privacy of his office to ‘reconstruct’ his patients’ forgotten and repressed memories.’” Quoting further from this article, “Theologian Rowan Williams concluded that Freud’s accounts of the origin of Judaism in Moses and Monotheism are ‘painfully absurd’, and that Freud’s explanations are not scientific but rather ‘imaginative frameworks.’”

The Source for Religious Leaders 8:19-29

Unfortunately, the religious leaders do not know what it means to be guided by Teacher thought, and do not even understand the nature of Teacher thought: “So they were saying to Him, ‘Where is Your Father?’” (v.19). Asking where the Father is is not just a mistake, but rather a category mistake. ‘2+2 = 5’ is a mistake, while ‘2+2 = red’ is a category mistake. Mercy thought thinks in terms of experiences, people, and locations, while Teacher thought thinks about sequence and process. When one asks where the Father is, one is using Mercy thought to try to determine the nature of Teacher thought, which is a category mistake. (They were probably referring to the fact that Jesus was born to an unmarried woman. But that is merely another version of the same category mistake of thinking in terms of human experiences rather than in terms of the nature of God.)

Jesus points out that their thinking is fundamentally flawed: “Jesus answered, ‘You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also’” (v.19). They don’t grasp the nature of incarnation, because if they did they would also grasp the nature of God. The word translated know means ‘seeing that becomes knowing’. Verse 20 adds that “These words He spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple.” This is the only reference to the treasury in the Gospel of John. This location is symbolically important, because Jesus is talking about personal value. The religious leaders treated the woman caught in the adultery as worthless, while Jesus regarded her as someone worth saving. The section that we have just discussed talks about the basis for a proper system of value, while the next section will compare temporal value with eternal value. The chapter will end with Jesus telling the religious leaders that their system of value is worthless, and they will respond by telling Jesus that he is worthless.

Jesus begins by repeating what he said in verse 34 of the previous chapter: “Then He said again to them, ‘I go away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come’” (v.21). In the last chapter, he merely said that they would be unable to find him. This time he adds that they will die in their sin. In the previous chapter, Jesus had guided the mental networks of the religious leaders to associate him with God in mystical thought. This could have led them to further understanding. But instead, the incident with the woman caught in adultery shows that they chose to descend to the level of emotional manipulation. Therefore, there is now no hope for them, and they will die in their sin. Looking at this cognitively, conflicting mental networks maximize free will. Thus, when the message of Jesus faces the religious leaders with internal conflict, then they can use free will to choose either to accept or reject his message. But once choice has been used to remove internal conflict, then free will no longer has the ability to oppose core mental networks.

One can see that they are no longer thinking in spiritual terms because of their next comment: “So the Jews were saying, ‘Surely He will not kill Himself, will He, since He says, “Where I am going, you cannot come”?’” (v.22). Previously they were wondering if Jesus would move to more esteemed academic circles in order to teach the Gentiles. Now they are thinking in purely physical terms: ‘Will he kill himself?’. Jesus tells them the level to which they have descended: “And He was saying to them, ‘You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins. Their emotional source is the childish MMNs of the flesh, while Jesus has a source that is from above and not of this world. Jesus tells them that they will die in their sin because they are ‘of this world’. They chose at the beginning of this chapter to reject understanding and pursue personal status. In the same way that continuing to act in a righteous manner leads eventually to a character of righteousness, so continuing to pursue personal status leads ultimately to a mind that is of this world which will die in its sin.

This mindset is revealed by the nature of their response: “So they were saying to Him, ‘Who are You?’” (v.25). They are not asking a religious question or seeking understanding. Instead, they are focusing purely upon personal identity in Mercy thought: ‘Who are you?’ Jesus does not answer their question but instead points out that he has been trying to tell them about himself from the beginning: “Jesus said to them, ‘What have I been saying to you from the beginning?’” (v.25). He then starts talking about them in the third person: “I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world” (v.26). He is no longer speaking to them, but rather has many things to see and judge concerning them. He is no longer trying to dialogue with them, but rather says what the Father is telling him to say because he knows that the Father is true. However, he doesn’t try to mention the Father by name, and they don’t realize that he is talking about the Father: “They did not realize that He had been speaking to them about the Father” (v.27).

I know to some extent with this feels like. For many years I have continued to analyze the writings of others and have attempted to interact with others, in the hope that meaningful dialogue was possible. On the one hand, my confidence in the theory of mental symmetry has grown as I continue to find that it is capable of analyzing the thinking of others. On the other hand, as my emails and presentations continue to be largely ignored, it has become increasingly clear to me that most people who claim to be searching for answers do not really want answers. But I also notice increasingly that many Christian academics are openly losing respect for Scripture and starting to promote anti-Christian agendas. This indicates that internal doubt is being resolved by rejecting the content of Christianity, indicating that free will is being lost. This has changed my basic motivation for doing cognitive analysis. My primary goal is no longer to gain official academic approval, but rather to attempt to understand and follow the plan of God.

In chapter 6, Jesus was driven by rejection to make the message of incarnation more personal, ending up by saying that others must eat his flesh and drink his blood. A similar effect is occurring here, because rejection is causing Jesus to make his statements both more universal and more personal: “So Jesus said, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me’” (v.28). In John 3, Jesus talked in impersonal terms about the Son of Man being lifted up. Here he personalizes it by saying ‘when you lift up the Son of Man’. John uses the phrase ‘lifted up’ as a euphemism for being crucified, because a person who is crucified is lifted up off the ground on a cross. This is explained in Chapter 12: “‘And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.’ But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die” (12:32-33). In blunt terms, Jesus is telling the religious leaders that they are going to kill him.

But Jesus does not stop there, which explains why John uses the euphemism ‘lifted up’ to describe the crucifixion of Jesus. John is the only gospel writer to use this euphemism. Every other biblical reference to ‘being lifted up’ talks about being personally exalted. Jesus also talks about personal exaltation. When he is lifted up, then those who reject him will finally recognize what he has been trying to teach all along, which is that everything he does is an expression of God the Father. And they will also know that he is the eternal God. As a footnote in the NASB points out, ‘He’ is not in the original Greek. Instead, the original text says that ‘you will know that I AM’, and most theologians regard this as a reference to the eternal I AM of Jehovah.

Jesus describes his relationship with God in emotional terms: “And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him” (v.29). Saying this cognitively, Jesus does not feel abandoned. Instead, he is personally connected with the TMN of a concept of God, because he always acts in a way that brings emotional pleasure to the TMN of God. One gains the impression that Jesus is talking here more to himself than to others. Before, he was trying to convince others that he always obeyed the Father. Here, he is finding emotional comfort in a deep sense of knowing that he always obeys the Father.

I have learned through personal experience a little what this feels like. I have mentioned that the theory of mental symmetry can be used to bring Teacher understanding to a number of areas. Looking at this more specifically, the book Natural Cognitive Theology uses cognitive principles to construct a systematic theology. The research that I did in ESL in cooperation with Angelina Van Dyke resulted in a general theory that ties together many aspects of the TESOL field. These two can be combined to come up with a general theory that integrates Christian doctrine with the principles of ESL. My study of New Testament prophecy has led to a coherent package of eschatology. And I have found that mental symmetry can be used to explain all of the major findings of the cognitive science of religion. Science claims to be a search for general understanding. However, in each of these cases, I found that when experts in a field are presented with a general understanding of their field, they are not interested. When each personal rejection is followed by another expansion of general Teacher understanding, then this will lead to the feeling that one is not being forsaken by God in Teacher thought. Cognitively speaking, it appears that these two factors have to go together. The mind will only seek emotional comfort in the TMN of a concept of God if it is not finding emotional comfort in MMNs of approval and identity. This does not mean that one has to be persecuted, but it does seem that some sense of extended, deep loneliness is required.

One can also find an example of John 6 and John 8 in the path of science and technology. In John 6, Jesus was driven to extend the message of technical thought to include the personal. Similarly, during the Industrial Revolution, science was driven to extend its message of technical thought to include the personal through the theory of evolution. The basic premise of evolution is that one can use natural processes to explain the development of all life, including human life. One of the fundamental problems of the theory of evolution is that it is based upon a category mistake. Scientific thought tries to pursue rational thought by remaining objective, resulting in an understanding of the world that ignores the personal and the subjective. Evolution then extends this objective understanding to include the personal and the subjective. It is a category mistake to apply a theory to something which the theory explicitly ignores. Stated simply, evolution is an inhuman theory of humanity.

Moving on, in John 8 the realm of technical thought becomes increasingly both universal and personal. Similarly, the realm of technical thought is currently becoming increasingly both universal and personal. We are becoming a society that is always interconnected through technology and this interconnectedness is extending both to all aspects and to the most intimate details of every human person. It has recently become apparent that governments are trying to spy on everyone all the time. I suggest that this is also a category mistake, because technology that ignores the human individual is being used to spy upon every human individual. Stated simply, universal surveillance creates an inhuman society for humanity.

Personal Motivation 8:30-40

Jesus, in contrast, does not make such a category mistake. Instead, Jesus extends incarnation to the personal by using technical thought to understand the nature of humanity.

First, one must make allowance for human free will. Mercy thought finds it easy to reject people and groups as beyond hope. One sees this, for instance, in the idea that ‘All Muslims are terrorists’. One of the first things that Donald Trump did when being elected president was attempt to ban citizens of seven Muslim countries from entering the US. But one does not find this attitude in Scripture. Instead, one consistently finds some sort of reference to a believing remnant. Similarly, after emphasizing that the religious leaders rejected Jesus, John adds that “As he spoke these things, many came to believe in Him” (v.30).

Second, one must also give a mental network time to emerge. While it usually takes many emotional experiences to form an MMN, a single experience with sufficient emotional intensity can create an MMN. That is because the physical body generates experiences of pain and pleasure. A TMN, in contrast, will only form over time as one continues to think about some theory. A true disciple of incarnation is guided by a TMN of understanding. Such a TMN will only emerge ‘if you continue in my word’.

Jesus addresses this group of believers by talking about personal motivation: “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free’” (v.31-32). Similarly, in the Great Commission, the emphasis is not upon gaining converts through MMNs of religious experience, but rather upon making disciples guided by the TMN of understanding, which is done by “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matt. 28:20). The word translated observe means ‘to watch over or guard’, indicating what must be done internally if a TMN is to form. I have found over the decades that this is precisely what the average person will not do when encountering either cognitive styles or the theory of mental symmetry. Instead of hanging on to the material, it will be mentally dropped from thought in order to ensure that a TMN does not form. This also explains why most researchers are not interested in a general theory that explains their research, because they do not want to be mentally ruled by a TMN of understanding. However, this will not prevent a TMN from forming. Instead, any explanation that a researcher uses, as well as the organization within which a researcher functions, will inevitably turn into an implicit TMN that will guide the thought and behavior of that individual.

Unfortunately, the personal implications of Jesus’ words touch Jewish MMNs of cultural and religious superiority: “‘You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’ They answered Him, ‘We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, “You will become free”?’” (v.32-33). The word translated know means ‘experiential knowledge’. Using cognitive language, when the words of incarnation turn into a TMN, then this will emotionally affect MMNs of personal identity, liberating a person from being emotionally driven by childish MMNs.

The crowd responds from the Mercy perspective of ethnic background: We are descendants of Abraham. No one enslaves us. How can we be set free? Translating this into modern language: We are American citizens. America is the land of liberty. How dare you insinuate that America is not a bastion of democracy. Or: We are professors. We know how to practice critical thinking. How dare you suggest that the University is not a place of academic freedom. In all three cases, I suggest that the same cognitive fallacy is being followed. The founders of Judaism, America, and academia discovered significant principles of personal freedom. But most of their descendants are following for cultural reasons, turning Judaism into tradition, America into consumerism, and University into academic culture.

Jesus focuses upon the underlying, internal problem of core mental networks: “Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin’” (v.34). Freedom is something cognitive. If one is internally driven by childish MMNs, then one is not free. Being born a Jew is not enough. Growing up in America is not enough. Learning how to follow the methodology of academia is not enough, because one is doing the right things for inadequate reasons.

If the institution is to survive, then one must go beyond doing the right thing for merely cultural reasons: “The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever” (v.35). What matters is core mental networks. The Jews described themselves as the seed of Abraham, but they need to become sons of Abraham. A son embodies the nature of his father. If the Jews want to retain their freedom, if Americans want to remain the land of the free, if academia wishes to remain a center of critical thinking, then the descendants must become ‘sons’ of the founders who have learned to think like the founders. Going further, true freedom comes from internalizing the message of incarnation: “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (v.36).

Jesus recognizes that he is speaking to the seed of Abraham. But they are attacking him personally, making it obvious that his word does not live in them: “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you” (v.37). Saying this cognitively, they are demonstrating in two ways that they are driven by childish MMNs: First, they are emphasizing their cultural and racial connection with Abraham. Second, they are suppressing the person of Jesus.

The words of Jesus are guided by a TMN of God the Father, which also guides the internal vision of Jesus: “I speak the things which I have seen with My Father” (v.38). The ‘seed of Abraham’ is also being guided by a TMN: “you also do the things which you heard from your father” (v.38).

Explicitly, they claim to be guided by the TMN of an understanding of Abraham: “They answered and said to him, ‘Abraham is our father’” (v.39). Applying this to our current examples, America claims to be guided by an understanding of democracy and political freedom, and academia claims to be guided by an understanding of scientific theory and academic freedom. But, as Jesus points out, this explicit claim needs to be backed up by actual behavior: “Jesus said to them, ‘If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham’” (v.39).

Instead, they are trying to silence the voice of truth from God: “But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do” (v.40). Before we look at our examples, let us examine this cognitively. The underlying problem is that the descendants are ‘dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants’. The founders were giants because they were guided internally to some extent by an internalized understanding of God and incarnation. The result was substantial success. The descendants are dwarfs because they view the founders as experts with emotional status, and are trying to copy the founders without thinking like the founders. Obviously, this will lead to inferior results. Using the language of Jesus, one will not ‘remain in the house’. The descendants will then feel driven to maintain the superiority that was achieved by the founders, but they will use the wrong strategy. Instead of building internal content and understanding, they will focus upon MMNs of culture and identity, violating the path that was followed by the founders.

Applying this to the Jews, Abraham stepped out in faith to follow God, leaving his homeland in order to live in tents in a foreign land. In contrast, the Jews are bragging to Jesus that no foreign occupying force has made them slaves, and their goal is not to live as foreigners in tents but rather to defend the homeland at all cost. When Jesus comes along telling them the truth from God, they reject the message and try to kill Jesus.

Applying this to America, many of the American founding fathers stepped out in faith to follow God, leaving their homeland in order to settle in a new country. This may be an overstated American myth, but there is some truth to this myth. In contrast, today’s Americans brag about being the land of the free, and their primary goal is not to pursue higher goals but rather to defend America, the homeland, the bastion of democracy, with the world’s largest army. In fact, in 2016, the US spent more on defense than the next seven countries combined. If America is such a lover of truth and understanding, then why did president Obama sentence whistleblowers to 31 times the jail time of all prior US presidents combined? Looking at the other side of the political spectrum, why does newly elected president Trump reject anything he does not like to hear as fake news?

Turning now to academia, many universities were founded by scholars who wanted to pursue rational thought in an environment of academic freedom. Today’s universities still claim to practice rational thought better than the average person, but if the goal is to discover truth and build understanding, then why has deconstructionism become the driving philosophy in so many departments? Deconstructionism believes that there is no such thing as truth or understanding, and that all apparent truth and understanding is merely the opinion of experts with Mercy status. Going further, if the university is such a champion of free thinking, then why are so many universities becoming bastions of intolerance, which silence any voice that violates official belief? I should emphasize that deconstructionism has not taken over all of the University system. The hard sciences still believe to some extent that the universe is governed by universal theories which are independent of personal opinion. However, deconstructionism has made significant inroads into the soft sciences, and it is in these soft sciences that open inquiry is being replaced by belligerent intolerance.

Different Fathers 8:41-47

Going further, Jesus says that “You are doing the deeds of your father” (v. 41). Saying this cognitively, when one continues to behave in a certain manner, then the words that one says and the actions that one practices will turn into a TMN, and this TMN will motivate behavior. Thus, the Jews have acquired a father, and they are doing the deeds of their father. Applying this to our examples, defending the homeland has turned into an institution, known as the military-industrial complex, accompanied by the various three letter agencies. Similarly, the attitude of deconstructionism has become institutionalized within major segments of academia.

Returning to the Gospel of John, the Jews are disturbed by what Jesus says, and they respond by saying that God is their Father and that they are not bastards like Jesus: “They said to Him, ‘We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.’” (v.41). Obviously, they are referring to the fact that Joseph was not the father of Jesus and they are calling him a bastard. However, I suggest that something deeper is occurring at a cognitive level.

The phrase ‘we have one Father: God’ brings to mind the attitude of mysticism. Kabbalah, the theological side of Judaism, defines monotheism as believing in a mystical fashion that God is one. The emphasis is upon a oneness that transcends all created content. But “Kabbalah originally developed within the realm of Jewish tradition, and kabbalists often use classical Jewish sources to explain and demonstrate its esoteric teachings. These teachings are held by followers in Judaism to define the inner meaning of both the Hebrew Bible and traditional Rabbinic literature and their formerly concealed transmitted dimension, as well as to explain the significance of Jewish religious observances.” I know that Kabbalah was only fully developed in the Middle Ages, but we are looking here at the fundamental assumptions of Kabbalah, which already were present during the time of Jesus. Thus, there is an implicit contradiction. On the one hand, mysticism says that all is one, while on the other hand, Jewish mysticism focuses upon the Jewish part of the ‘all’. This makes it possible for the Jewish mindset to regard God as beyond all human content while simultaneously regarding God as the father of the Jews.

Jesus calls them out on this fundamental contradiction: “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me” (v.42). Cognitively speaking, male thought is the part of the mind that deals with content. If God is the father of the Jews, then this means that content proceeds from God, because father implies content. If content can proceed from God, then the Jews would love Jesus because he is the word made flesh—he is content from God.

Jesus concludes that they are mentally deficient: “Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word” (v.43). More literally, they do not experientially grasp his words because they lack the power to hear them. That is because the words of Jesus are being passed through the two mental filters of mysticism and nationalism. The Jews know that Jesus cannot proceed from the father because mysticism says that nothing can proceed from God. And the Jews know that Jesus cannot be talking about internal transformation because nationalism says that defending my country and my tribe is more important than anything else. One can see these two juxtaposed in Kabbalah. On the one hand, Kabbalah tries to come up with a universal theory of psychology by starting with the concept of a mystical God. On the other hand, Kabbalah assumes that what really matters to God is Jewish content. If this sounds like an overstatement, please read the essay on Kabbalah.

Jesus then tells them who their real father is: “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father” (v.44). The word devil means ‘a slanderer; a false accuser; unjustly criticizing to hurt’. In other words, pursuing mysticism and nationalism has caused an implicit TMN of content to form within their minds, which is driving them to think and behave in a slanderous manner. Mysticism is inherently slanderous, because overgeneralization by its very nature has to attack all factual content and belittle all rational theories. More specifically, the mysticism of Kabbalah slanders the God of the Jews, who has revealed his nature through the history of the Jewish people. The downfall of this devilish mindset is described in Revelation 12: “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world… Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night’” (Rev. 12:9-10).

One can see this illustrated in academia by deconstructionism. This began as a questioning of moral and political truth: If the political and religious elite are imposing truth upon the population in order to control the population, then one becomes free by questioning the pronouncements of authority. But this has morphed into an institutional mindset that attacks the very concept of truth. Using the language of Jesus, it is of its father the devil, and wants to do the desires of its father. I wish that this were an overstatement, but the moral relativism that began in academia has now spread to society at large, and we have now entered an era of post-truth politics. Quoting from the Economist article, “Post-truth politics is more than just an invention of whining elites who have been outflanked. The term picks out the heart of what is new: that truth is not falsified, or contested, but of secondary importance. Once, the purpose of political lying was to create a false view of the world. The lies of men like Mr Trump do not work like that. They are not intended to convince the elites, whom their target voters neither trust nor like, but to reinforce prejudices. Feelings, not facts, are what matter in this sort of campaigning.”

Slander has also become institutionalized in the agencies that protect nationalism. The official word for this is disinformation. Quoting from the Wikipedia article, “Disinformation is different from misinformation, which is information that is unintentionally false. Misinformation can be used to define disinformation — where disinformation is misinformation that is purposefully and intentionally disseminated in order to deceive.” Soviet Russia started to use disinformation as an official government policy in the 1920s, and “The United States Intelligence Community appropriated usage of the term disinformation in the 1950s from the Russian dezinformatsiya, and began to utilize similar strategies.” Disinformation is institutionalized slander. Using the language of Jesus, it is of its father the devil.

Going further, I have mentioned that science and technology are a partial expression of incarnation. It has recently become clear that the NSA, and other government spy agencies, have literally become slanderers of computer technology, hoarding knowledge about computer vulnerabilities in order to infiltrate enemy computers, and trying to subvert programs that protect users from computer viruses. In the words of one computer security expert, “Leveraging its secret agreements with telecommunications companies – all the US and UK ones, and many other ‘partners’ around the world – the NSA gets access to the communications trunks that move internet traffic. In cases where it doesn’t have that sort of friendly access, it does its best to surreptitiously monitor communications channels: tapping undersea cables, intercepting satellite communications, and so on.” (America is not the only country to act this way. Russia and China also practice the same kind of behavior. But America claims to occupy the moral high ground, while Russia and China do not.) The rationalization for all this devilish behavior is nationalism: We must protect us from them.

Jesus describes what it means to have the devil as your father: “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (v.44). Jesus goes beyond specific behavior to focus upon core mental networks. The devil does not just commit murder, but is inherently a murderer. The devil does not merely speak lies, but is the father of lies who is inherently devoid of truth. For instance, I am noticing a similar transition in the online comments that are being made by computer experts. Previously, government spy agencies used to be regarded as basically good institutions that were performing evil acts. Now I am increasingly seeing comments that view these secret government agencies as inherently evil, which are driven by their very nature to subvert information infrastructure. Looking at nationalism, the basic premise is that threats against us need to be personally eliminated; we must have the ability to kill them. And knowledge must remain secret from them, in order to maintain our ability to kill them, which means that knowledge should also be restricted on a ‘need to know basis’ in order to limit the chance of them finding out. Similarly, the basic premise of mysticism is that human content must be eliminated in order to encounter God. And one can only maintain a mystical feeling of having encountered God by keeping knowledge quarantined from a concept of God. In both cases, the lying and the murder are inherent.

The Jews are automatically rejecting Jesus because he speaks truth: “But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me” (v.45). One could interpret this either as rejecting specific facts that are being spoken by Jesus, or rejecting Jesus because he speaks factually. The next verses tell us that the second interpretation is the more likely one: “Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God” (v.46-47). The phrase ‘convicts me of sin’ is more accurately ‘convicts me concerning sin’, implying that the real battle is not over whether Jesus has sinned but over the more fundamental struggle of defining moral standards. Jesus is complaining that they are not believing him, even though he is speaking truth. The underlying problem is that their minds are not rooted in the TMN of an understanding of God. (Remember that the word believe actually means to ‘be persuaded’, which implies that one is using rational thought.) Someone who is personally anchored in the TMN of a concept of God will hear the words of God. If a person does not hear the words of God, this means that this person is not based in the TMN of a concept of God.

For example, content is seldom discussed when I describe the theory of mental symmetry with academic individuals. Almost never will someone say ‘I agree with this fact’ or ‘I disagree with that concept’. Instead, the discussion invariably seems to bog down in underlying assumptions, which usually focus upon MMNs of authority and tradition, such as: ‘What do the experts think?’, ‘How big is your bibliography?’, ‘Do you have a PhD?’, ‘Have you published papers that have passed peer review?’, ‘Are you following approved methodology?’. These are the kinds of questions that dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants would ask. But even when these questions are satisfied to the best of my ability, I still find an inherent barrier to comprehension. In religious circles, the primary barrier appears to be mysticism—the underlying assumption that God is incomprehensible. This underlying assumption remains even if one explains theology at the level of systematic theology and analyzes entire books of the Bible. In academic circles, the primary barrier seems to be a deep belief that one must always start with empirical evidence and must never begin with a general theory in Teacher thought. It does not matter how much the theory explains, or even if it explains information gathered by the researcher himself. The very fact that one is starting from a theory is suspect. Using the language of Jesus, I am forced to conclude that such individuals cannot hear because they are not of God. At the level of core mental networks, their starting point is not the TMN of a rational concept of God.

Driving Assumptions 8:48-59

The discussion began at the level of facts and truth. It now descends to the level of motivation and core mental networks: “The Jews answered and said to Him, ‘Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?’” (v.48). Someone who is ‘born of fornication’ might have a source that is suspect, but this does not mean that the content is flawed. In contrast, if Jesus is a Samaritan, then this means that all of his content is tainted. This is consistent with the reference to ‘having a demon’. Spiritually speaking, if Jesus is demon-possessed, then everything that he says is tainted by anti-religious urges. Cognitively speaking, it appears that both spirits and demons interact with human mental networks. Spirits can inhabit and enhance MMNs, while demons inhabit and enhance TMNs. (I suspect that both spirits and demons come from the same spiritual realm.) Thus, the Jews are telling Jesus that he is driven by an impure TMN, again implying that all of his content is tainted.

Jesus responds that he is not driven by an impure TMN, but rather that he is being guided by the TMN of a concept of God and that they are besmirching him personally: “Jesus answered, ‘I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me’” (v.49). Jesus adds that he is not trying to promote himself but rather that there is an independent standard of judgment: “But I do not seek My glory; there is One who seeks and judges” (v.50).

Jesus points out that those who share his TMN will become free of a mindset of death: “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death” (v.51). Keep means to ‘Guard, observe, watch over’, while the word translated see means to ‘gaze on for the purpose of analyzing’. Jesus is describing a fundamental characteristic of being guided by a TMN of Teacher understanding, which is that one does not think in terms of death; one does not analyze situations from the vantage point of assuming death. For instance, the fundamental assumption of defending nationalism is that enemies can be killed. Death is assumed. Similarly, the fundamental assumption of mysticism is that one leaves the realm of human content at death and enters the mystical realm of God. In contrast, a mind that is governed by Teacher understanding does not view death as a primary concept. For instance, the theory of mental symmetry has led me to think in terms of cognitive development, a path of cognitive development that extends beyond the grave and that occurs in heaven as well as on earth. My starting point for interpreting the book of Revelation was recognizing that one can see cognitive development in the succession of vignettes before the throne of God.

This same mindset can be seen—inappropriately—in those whose minds are guided by the TMN of scientific understanding. A person who wants to ‘leave a legacy’, wishes to ‘add to the scientific body of knowledge’, or waxes eloquent about ‘the evolution of the human species’ is thinking in a manner that transcends personal death. But this is inappropriate self-delusion, because objective science has no room for the individual. What is the point of leaving a legacy if I am not around to enjoy it? Why add to the body of knowledge if I can no longer know anything? And why care about humanity evolving if I myself am snuffed out?

The response of the Jews tells us that they really are assuming death: “The Jews said to Him, ‘Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, “If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste of death”’” (v.52). The basic premise for the Jews is that all the religious experts died. Because Jesus questions this basic premise, they conclude that his underlying TMN is inherently tainted. Using modern language, Jesus is questioning the underlying assumption of materialism. The Jews also misquote Jesus. He said that one will not ‘gaze on death for the purpose of analyzing’, while they quote him as saying that one will not ‘taste or experience death’. In other words, they can only think in terms of Mercy experiences, and cannot grasp what it means to hold on to an understanding in Teacher thought that is independent of Mercy experiences. This idea of holding onto an understanding that is independent of death and greater than death can be seen in 1 Corinthians 15: “When this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55). Notice that death is not killed but rather swallowed up. Death is not eliminated, but it no longer has the victory. Death still exists, but it loses its sting. Looking at this cognitively, there still are major transitions of dying to old mental networks and coming alive to new mental networks. But these transitions now occur within the larger context of core mental networks that are imperishable.

The Jews, as usual, focus upon Mercy status, while continuing to assume that death is fundamental: “Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?” (v.53). Does Jesus think that he has greater status in Mercy thought than Abraham? Who does he think that he is? And they repeat their statement about death, this time using the verb ‘die’ twice instead of once, adding an extra reference for emphasis. In verse 52, they say “Abraham died, and the prophets”, while in verse 53, they say “Abraham, who died? The prophets died too”. (These differences are in the original Greek text.) In other words, they really are thinking in terms of death.

Jesus answers that his words have nothing to do with personal status, but rather are a result of building upon the TMN of a concept of God: “Jesus answered, ‘If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, “He is our God”’” (v.54). Notice that Jesus describes God as his father, implying a relationship based upon content. In contrast, Jesus says that the Jews are taking personal ownership of God, because a more literal rendering would be, “You say that God is of us”. This describes the fundamental contradiction of Jewish mysticism, which views God as transcendent but then takes tribal ownership of God. One sees a similar contradiction in the American concept of ‘God and country’, which proclaims that God is God over everyone while simultaneously believing that God has a special relationship with the country of America. Similarly, academia proclaims that it is searching for universal truth, while simultaneously believing that it is uniquely qualified to discover this universal truth. In each case, a specific cultural group is taking ownership of the universal God. This inherent contradiction will not lead to a knowledge of God: “and you have not come to know Him” (v.54).

Jesus then concludes that maintaining personal integrity and following the TMN of a concept of God are of primary importance: “but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word” (v.55). Looking at this from personal experience, I have found that I can interact meaningfully with many people if I focus upon specific issues and pretend that I do not have a general understanding. As a result, I have had to decide that my ultimate bottom line is not interacting with others, but rather remaining true to an integrated Teacher understanding of the nature of God.

Going further, if one analyzes the content of the original Jewish and Christian religious experts, one concludes that they were looking forward to such an integrated Teacher understanding of the nature of God: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad” (v.56). Jesus is not saying that Abraham rejoiced to see him, but rather that he rejoiced to see his day. The focus is not upon the person of Jesus but rather upon the light of understanding brought about by Jesus.

The Jews again respond by focusing upon human mortality and personal status: “So the Jews said to Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?’” (v.57). They are interpreting Jesus within the framework of youth→maturity→old-age. How can Jesus be making such grandiose claims if he has not yet become an old expert? For instance, I remember asking one professor why my approach of comparing various fields to look for common patterns was not acceptable. His response was that one is only permitted to make such grand statements after one has worked in a field for several decades. In addition, the Jews do not refer to keeping the word of God, but rather talk about having an internal vision of Abraham. In other words, the goal is not to gain an understanding of the character of God in Teacher thought, but rather to gain a better picture of the person of the religious expert in Mercy thought. This brings to mind the numerous modern scholars who have spent a lifetime studying some dead expert in order to gain a more complete internal picture of how that expert really thought.

Jesus responds by stating that all religious experts came into existence, while he is identifying with eternal truth: “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am’” (v.58). Theologians regard the phrase ‘I am’ as a reference to the eternal Jehovah God, and this is used as one of the proof texts to prove that Jesus is God. This interpretation makes sense, but why is Jesus making this statement now? In order to answer that question one has to take a cognitive perspective. Jesus has just made two significant statements: First, he has said that a mindset that is guided by a TMN of God will not think in terms of death. Second, he has concluded that his ultimate bottom line is to acknowledge his understanding of God and be personally faithful to this understanding, even if everyone rejects this understanding and even if this means that no one will listen to his words.

I have mentioned several times that mental networks take ownership of behavior that they motivate. We saw this when discussing righteousness. A person becomes righteous by allowing actions to be guided by a TMN of the character of God and not by MMNs of personal status or approval. Similarly, Jesus has just concluded that he will allow his entire being to be shaped by a TMN of the character of God rather than by MMNs of personal status or approval. And he has just stated that the character of God transcends human experiences of birth and death. This would lead cognitively to a strong personal connection between Jesus and the eternal God.

That brings us back to the theological question of how much of the divine nature Jesus-the-God set aside in order to become Jesus-the-man. In terms of righteousness—the relationship between Teacher and Server thought, it appears that Jesus-the-man set aside very little, if anything. But in terms of personal identity—the relationship between Perceiver facts and Mercy identity, it appears that Jesus-the-man did set things aside which were re-acquired step-by-step by living in the flesh as Jesus-the-man. And it appears that this re-acquisition of divine identity occurred as a result of following cognitive principles.

It is obvious that a finite human cannot identify with the infinite God as Jesus does the end of John 8. The fundamental fallacy of mysticism is asserting that I am God, because finite is not infinite. But it does appear that one can gain a personal connection with the character of God by following a path that is cognitively similar to the path that Jesus followed. In other words, one can gain some of the emotional benefits promised by mysticism without having to make the devil your father. This explains what the apostle Peter says at the beginning of his second letter: “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust” (2 Peter 1:2-4). Peter talks, not about transcending factual knowledge, but rather about grace and peace being multiplied within knowledge about God and incarnation. This leads to life and godliness based in divine power, which would transcend death. And it also escapes the mental corruption of childish MMNs. The end result is to have fellowship with ‘the underlying constitution or make-up’ of God. Saying this cognitively, this is not a combination of overgeneralization and identification. Instead, MMNs of personal identity are being transformed to behave in a way that is consistent with the character of the TMN of God. This leads to an emotional fellowship with God, because one naturally thinks and behaves the way that God does. Saying this more simply, one becomes a friend of God. The common assumption of many evangelical Christians is that every Christian is a friend of God, but I suggest that this is actually an expression of mysticism, which asserts that interaction with God transcends all human content. I am talking about something quite different and far more valuable, which requires traveling through the path of personal transformation.

Man Born Blind, Judaism, and Science 9:1-3

All of chapter 9 is devoted to discussing the story of Jesus healing a man born blind. As with Chapter 6, I suggest that one can interpret the story at both a literal and a symbolic level. These two interpretations do not contradict each other, because in both cases the same kind of emotional responses are occurring.

At the literal level, the general theme of chapter 9 is straightforward. Verbal communication has broken down completely by the end of chapter 8. In Chapter 9, Jesus continues to convey his message using nonverbal language. We saw that the Jews are thinking in terms of death; they assume the natural sequence of birth, growth, aging, and death. Jesus performs a miracle that violates this basic assumption by healing a man born blind. Neurologically speaking, giving sight to a person who is born blind is quite different than restoring the sight of a person who has become blind. That is because a person who is born blind has not developed the brain circuits that are required to interpret vision. For such a person, the eyes have to be restored and the brain has to be programmed, and this brain programming does not always happen. For instance, one individual became completely blind at the age of three and had sight restored at the age of 43. This person, “like many others who have regained their sight after decades of blindness, could see the world, but could not interpret what he was seeing. Two years after surgery, he still lives in a world of abstract shapes and colors instead of the environment of recognizable objects with three-dimensional shapes that normally sighted people take for granted… [He] was able to detect motion and color, but had a difficult time identifying objects, and was especially challenged by faces and facial expressions.”

This ex-blind man (whom we shall refer to as ‘the beggar’) then interacts with the Jewish leaders, giving them a powerful object lesson. In simple terms, who is blind and who can see? The cured man was physically blind and now can see. But the Jewish leaders are suffering from mental blindness. (One could use the term spiritual blindness, but the modern tendency is to associate spirit with the absence of mental content, which is itself a form of mental blindness. The term mental blindness conveys the concept of non-physical content.) This conclusion is stated in the final verses of the chapter: “Jesus said, ‘For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.’ Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, ‘We are not blind too, are we?’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, “We see,” your sin remains’” (v.39-41).

Notice that Jesus distinguishes between blindness and sin. Blindness is an inability to see, while sin comes from verbally asserting that one can see when one is actually blind. Saying this cognitively, the sin comes from hypocrisy, which is a mismatch between the Perceiver facts that come from Teacher words and the Perceiver facts that come from personal Mercy experiences. What I say about myself does not match the facts about myself. Becoming aware of hypocrisy should be viewed as an opportunity, because free will emerges when the mind is ruled by conflicting mental networks. One can choose to eliminate the hypocrisy by pursuing mental wholeness, leading to growth, or one can either eliminate the hypocrisy by pursuing incomplete thought more consistently or else ignore the hypocrisy, resulting in mental blindness and sin.

I suggest that the symbolic meaning is an extension of the literal meaning. Symbolically speaking, a man represents male thought, which emphasizes the Perceiver facts and Server sequences of technical thought. Sight is used to recognize objects and to determine the spatial relationship between objects. Cognitively speaking, sight is strongly related to Perceiver thought, which thinks in terms of objects and the spatial relationship between objects. A blind man cannot use this kind of Perceiver processing. But a blind man can still hear and speak the words of Teacher thought, perform the actions of Server thought, and use touch and physical sensation to program Mercy thought with emotional experiences. (These four cognitive modules handle mental content. The other three cognitive modules use this content to run the mind.) This does not mean that Perceiver thought does not function in a blind man, but rather means that Perceiver thought has to acquire its facts indirectly.

Summarizing, a blind man symbolizes male thought that lacks Perceiver facts. Because the man is born blind, this means that Perceiver facts are not being suppressed but rather have never been present. As far as the blind man is concerned, it is normal to be blind. The symbolism becomes obvious when one looks at the big picture. Judaism began with God telling the Jews what to do. As I mentioned at the beginning of this essay, Jews view the law as a set of actions to be carried out by Server thought. The Jewish word for religious law is halacha, which means ‘going’ or ‘doing’. This emphasis upon doing Server actions that come from the Teacher words of God has characterized Judaism from the time of Moses. Cognitively speaking, Judaism was born blind and it considers this cognitive blindness to be a normal state of affairs. This may sound like an overstatement, but the typical Jew does not know why halacha is being practiced, but rather views Torah as a tradition that was originally revealed by God to Moses and has been handed down from one Jewish generation to the next.

Similarly, modern science was also born blind, because the focus has always been upon suppressing Mercy experiences by remaining objective, and then going beyond Perceiver facts in order to gain Teacher understanding by studying the Server sequences of natural processes. For instance, when a scientist drops objects in order to study the law of gravity, the scientist does not care if what is being dropped is a dirty pebble or mother’s precious ceramic doll. Mercy emotions are irrelevant as well as the specific objects in Perceiver thought. Instead, the scientist wants to discover the Server path that will be followed by the Platonic form of some generic object. This is an effective method for understanding how the natural world functions, but it is also a form of cognitive blindness.

If God’s original purpose was for the Jews to discover science in Alexandria, then this cognitive similarity is not an accident but rather by design. Why was Judaism born blind? Because it is impossible for a tribal civilization to think in terms of individual facts and individual people. But it is possible to tell a tribe of people how to behave. Why was science born blind? Because it is much easier to discover how the world behaves than to discover how individuals behave. Emotionally speaking, it is much less threatening to analyze the physical world than it is to analyze myself. I am not suggesting that Judaism and science are devoid of Perceiver facts, but rather that this is not their primary focus. For instance, the typical nuclear physicist does not care whether he is using his knowledge to build atomic bombs or atomic power plants. What really matters is the Server natural processes and the Teacher universal laws, and not the Perceiver objects or the Mercy experiences. And this is not generally seen as a moral or personal deficiency, because science was born blind.

Notice that both Jewish halacha and science use the technical thinking of male thought. Jewish rabbinical thought is highly technical, and one of the greatest compliments that can be given to a Rabbi is to call him a genius. And it goes without saying that scientific thought is also highly technical. Thus, one is dealing cognitively with a man who was born blind. I should emphasize that being born blind does not mean being stupid or ignorant. The blind beggar who receives his sight in Chapter 9 turns out to have more insight than the religious leaders to whom he is speaking.

It may seem like an overstatement to call emphasizing Server thought to the exclusion of Perceiver thought mental blindness. But this can be verified by observing the behavior of the typical Server person, who emphasizes Server actions while allowing the external relationship between physical objects to substitute for Perceiver thought. (For instance, instead of having a mental map, the Server person will know that the scissors live in this drawer, the pens are in that drawer, and so on.) In my experience, these kind of persons are literally incapable of stepping back and observing themselves. They are superb at copying the actions of others, but they are mentally blind when it comes to observing a situation—either externally or internally—in order to see connections and relationships.

Jesus came as a messiah to give sight to these men who were born blind. Jesus was born and raised a Jew within this culture of blindness. On the one hand, Jesus always did only what he saw the Father doing. Cognitively speaking, Server thought was following a Teacher understanding of God at the level of divine perfection. But on the other hand, we have seen Jesus’ personal identity developing throughout the Gospel of John, and it is at the end of chapter 8 that Jesus finally claims to have a personal identity that is one with the eternal God. Saying this symbolically, Jesus has taken the cognitive steps that are required to give sight to a Judaism that was born blind. He has extended the Teacher-Server halacha of Judaism to include Perceiver truth and Mercy identity.

If the Jews had discovered science, then Jesus could have given sight to both the blind thinking of Judaism and the blind thinking of science by adding personal implications to technology. This does not mean that all of Judaism and all of science would have responded favorably. In verse 34, the man who is blind is officially expelled from the synagogue, telling us that the system still would have officially rejected those who had gained sight. However, it is possible that many individuals and many specializations would have cognitively gained their sight. Unfortunately, science did not exist, and so Jesus was forced to try to give sight to Judaism in a symbolic manner by adding personal implications to the physical healing of a man born blind. Notice again the generality of Teacher thought. Jesus was carrying out the general Teacher step of ‘giving sight to a man born blind’. But this general step could have been applied in many different ways, and giving physical sight to a physical man was one possible way of carrying out this general step.

The first thing that happens is that the disciples ask Jesus to assign guilt: “And His disciples asked Him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?’” (v.2). Interpreting this literally, the common Jewish view at the time was that physical illness was a result of sin. If a man is born blind, this leads to the rather bizarre conclusion that a baby is capable of sinning before being born. One commentator interprets this as a belief in the transmigration of souls. Thus, a soul was reborn as a blind man because of bad karma from a previous lifetime. Another commentator mentions that it was possible for unborn baby to sin, quoting from a passage in the Midrash which states that “when a pregnant woman worships in a heathen temple the fetus also commits idolatry”. Jesus is quick to correct this misconception: “Jesus answered, ‘It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him’” (v.3).

A fuller explanation emerges when we look at this comment symbolically. A sense of personal morality emerges when Perceiver facts apply to personal identity in Mercy thought. Because current scientific thought focuses upon Teacher understanding and Server actions while ignoring Perceiver facts and Mercy experiences, Christians have a natural tendency to regard science as inherently morally deficient, to the extent of regarding science as anti-God. Similarly, Christians also have a natural tendency to regard the Jewish concept of halacha as morally deficient. Thus, the typical Christian will ask whether science and Judaism are morally blind because they are inherently morally deficient or because they came to birth in a morally deficient society. The guilt is assumed, and all that remains is assigning the guilt. Jesus does not address this question but rather changes the focus of attention from Perceiver-and-Mercy to Server-and-Teacher. The purpose is to ‘make clear, visible, or manifest’ the works of God. God uses Teacher thought while works involve Server thought. In other words, one can learn about how God behaves by studying science and by observing Jewish history. (But Jewish mysticism is intrinsically opposed to the concept of a God who behaves.)

Saying this more bluntly, both Judaism and science have a better concept of righteousness than Christianity. I am not suggesting that every individual Jew is ‘saved’. The Jewish portion of the Bible states repeatedly that personal salvation comes to a ‘believing remnant’. I am also not suggesting that science is a replacement for Christianity, because many scientists are frankly amoral. Instead, I am pointing out that the interaction between God and man contains a Teacher and Server component that interacts with a concept of God in Teacher thought, and a Perceiver and Mercy component that interacts with personal identity in Mercy thought. Both Judaism and science emphasize the divine side of this interaction. One can learn about the character of God by studying science. Going further, God has used—and continues to use—Jews at a national and tribal level to guide the course of civilization at a national and tribal level. However, as the Holocaust showed, God’s guiding of civilization through Judaism can be extremely destructive to individual Jews. Similarly, science and technology may manifest the works of God, but they can be used to bring extreme destruction to individual humans.

Window of Opportunity 9:4

Jesus then warns that there is only a finite window of opportunity: “We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work” (v.4). Speaking literally, Jesus only had a little time left before the religious authorities would turn on him. Symbolically speaking, when rational understanding does not include personal identity, then the rational understanding will eventually be lost, and it is important to extend understanding to include personal identity while the day of Teacher understanding still exists. Looking at this in more detail, pursuing rational understanding in an objective manner will lead naturally to hypocrisy, because objective understanding and behavior will become more rational than personal identity, and this state of hypocrisy will create a window of opportunity during which one can use free will. However, if one chooses not to use understanding to transform personal identity, then the MMNs of untransformed identity will eventually overwhelm rational thought, closing the window of opportunity and darkening the daylight of rational understanding.

This window of opportunity can be seen in the case of Alexandria and the birth of science. As this website on Jewish history explains, “The Jews of Alexandria were very proud of their accomplishments and felt that Alexandria was more entitled to the Temple than Jerusalem. In their view, Jerusalem was a very provincial, small, backward city... The irony is that in about 300 years they would disappear as though they never existed. In Jewish history, there are a number of such aberrations, of great Jewish communities that looked like they would last forever, and then it was as if somebody just pulled the plug on them. They disappeared. Alexandria was one of those communities.” Similarly, 40 years after the conversation of John 9 took place, the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed. Modern scientific thought also appears to have a finite window of opportunity, because technology is on the verge of creating a world of global interconnection and spying in which private personal identity can no longer exist. And scientific thought itself is now under attack from both deconstructionism and fundamentalism.

One can find four references to light in these verses. First, a blind man cannot see the light. Second, in verse 4, Jesus talks about the day coming to an end. Third, in verse 56 of the previous chapter, Jesus said that ‘your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day’. I mentioned earlier that Jewish halacha began with God giving the law through Moses on Mount Sinai to the Jewish tribes. Abraham lived before the giving of the law and was led by God to take increasingly personal steps of faith. Thus, it makes sense that Abraham, the father of the Jews, would look forward to a future time of enlightenment when personal faith would be added to the halacha of Judaism.

If one wishes to see, then two requirements must be met: First, there must be daylight. Second, one must not be blind. The circumstances of history had created a temporary period of societal daylight that was lit by the sunlight of Teacher understanding. But this daylight would only be of personal benefit if those who were born blind acquired the ability to see.

Applying this to current society, for several hundred years Western society has been illuminated by a worldview that values the light of Teacher understanding. But objective science is like a man born blind. The juxtaposition of societal factors that led to the daylight of rational thought is now coming to an end, and if objective science is not cured of its blindness while it is still daylight, then the daylight will come to an end, and all that will be left is blind men stumbling around in the dark. This does not mean that the plan of God will fail, but rather that God will have to carry out his plan by manipulating and juxtaposing implicit core mental networks of society in a manner that involves substantial human suffering. If one wishes to understand what this entails, then one merely has to look at Jewish history since the time of Christ.

The fourth reference to light is in verse 5, where the method by which Jesus healed the blind man is described in unusual detail. This methodology must be significant because it is repeated in verse 11, and the Jews ask four times how the blind man was healed. There is a cognitive reason why the Jews focus upon methodology. Both Perceiver thought and Server thought gain confidence in information as it is repeated, and as it survives emotional pressure. For instance, in military training, critical skills are repeated endlessly until the actions can be performed automatically and smoothly. And these skills are performed in realistic, stressful scenarios in order to ensure that they can survive emotional pressure. The mind needs outside help to build Perceiver confidence. Perceiver confidence grows whenever one notices connections being repeated. The primary way of noticing repeated Perceiver connections is through sight—which is what the blind man receives. But the mind does not need outside help to build Server confidence, because Server confidence in some action grows whenever I repeat that action. Thus, when there is intellectual questioning, then what will remain at the end is methodology: Server confidence in how researchers themselves behave. Applying this to our discussion, whenever a group fixates upon methodology, this usually indicates that this group is mentally blind and unable to see Perceiver facts. For instance, truth is now often of second concern in a criminal trial. Instead, what matters is whether or not proper procedure has been followed. I am not suggesting that methodology is irrelevant, but rather that one should not focus upon the letter of the law while ignoring the spirit of the law.

Bringing Sight to the Blind Beggar 9:5-9

John describes the method by which Jesus heals the blind man: “‘While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.’ When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, and said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing” (v.5-7). The statement ‘when he had said this’ tells us that what Jesus does is related to what Jesus just said. Jesus verbally emphasized embodying truth: ‘while I am in the world’. Jesus also verbally emphasized universality: ‘I am the light of the world’.

Thus, the starting point is a concept of incarnation that extends from universal understanding in Teacher thought to personal identity in Mercy thought. The extension to personal identity happened in John 6, and the extension to universal understanding happened in John 8. As I have mentioned previously, incarnation is based in technical thought. Science and technology tend to use technical thought in a manner that avoids personal identity by being objective, and avoids universal understanding by specializing. Incarnation is based in technical thought but extends beyond technical thought to include personal identity and universal understanding.

The next step is to spit on the ground and make clay. Symbolically speaking, liquid represents Mercy experiences, while the ground represents rational thinking. Thus, clay from spittle would represent the concrete implications of speech. Jesus started by making a theoretical pronouncement about the nature of incarnation. But he then went one step further by spitting on the ground and making clay of the spittle—symbolizing in a non-technical, non-verbal manner that one must go beyond technical speech to examining the concrete implications of this speech. Saying this more generally, Jesus did not just talk about incarnation going beyond technical thought, but instead talked about incarnation in an incarnational manner. Jesus is able to take this further step in Chapter 9 because he has followed the cognitive steps that are required to become incarnational in chapter 8.

Jesus then applies the resulting clay to the eyes of the blind man. Cognitively speaking, this means thinking about what it means for Jesus to be incarnation and then applying this to Perceiver thought. But Perceiver thought functions by comparing one context with another in order to find common connections. Thus, the final step is to go and wash in the pool. In other words, change the context and go to another pool of Mercy experiences. This changing of context is emphasized by the name of the pool, because Siloam comes from the Hebrew word that means ‘sent’ and John points out this meaning. And ‘sent’ is an accurate description of what it feels like to move to a new context, because one does not naturally leave the existing context but rather has to be pushed or sent in some manner.

For instance, one of the key insights of my research was recognizing that one can only succeed in studying the mind if one personally applies what one discovers. One cannot remain in technical thought but rather must add personal identity to technical thought. Another major transition happened when I realized that the theory of mental symmetry could be used to construct a systematic Christian theology. I was not just studying the mind, but coming up with a Teacher understanding of the nature of God and incarnation. Going further, I gradually realized that if mental symmetry accurately described the nature of God and incarnation, then it should be possible to use the theory of mental symmetry to analyze various technical fields. For me as a Perceiver person, this meant using Perceiver thought to compare one specialization with another, in order to discover repeated connections. But in order to actually find these connections, I had to be mentally sent to a new context. One new context for me involved co-presenting papers in the the field of TESOL. Another new context came from teaching high school math and physics for several years at an international school in South Korea. The end result was that mental symmetry turned into a meta-theory that brought sight to many areas of research, because one could now see the connections between these specializations in the light of a big picture. (Notice how we naturally talk about ‘seeing the big picture’. If symbolism is cognitively natural, then it will tend to show up in normal speech, because this symbolism emerges naturally from cognition.)

John explains that the blind man was known as the person who used to sit and beg: “Therefore the neighbors, and those who previously saw him as a beggar, were saying, ‘Is not this the one who used to sit and beg?’” (v.8). Similarly, I used to feel as a Perceiver person that I was merely an intellectual beggar, incapable of going anywhere on my own. Teacher persons could come up with general theories, while I was only capable of using Perceiver facts to poke holes in these theories. Contributor persons could use technical thought, while I could at best learn what the experts had discovered. Science comes up with facts by looking for empirical evidence and does not need—or want—the random associations of the Perceiver person. Religion generates its truth by quoting holy books and does not appreciate the questioning of the Perceiver person. Wherever I turned, I was intellectually reduced to the level of sitting and begging. But then my eyes were metaphorically opened and I saw that I could use Perceiver thought to look for connections between one field and another.

I still use Perceiver thought, but I now use it in a different manner. This is portrayed in people’s response to the beggar: “‘Is not this the one who used to sit and beg?’ Others were saying, ‘This is he,’ still others were saying, ‘No, but he is like him.’ He kept saying, ‘I am the one’” (v.8-9). A similar kind of confusion will emerge in the minds of others when one uses Perceiver thought to look for common connections. The starting point is still intellectual begging, because one is continually acquiring information indirectly from others. But this information provides the raw material for using Perceiver sight to discover common connections.

Fixating on Methodology 9:10-38

The question then turns to methodology. Symbolically speaking, the man born blind is using a new form of thinking and people want to know how this works: “So they were saying to him, ‘How then were your eyes opened?’” (v.10).

The beggar describes what happened but leaves out what Jesus said before he acted: “He answered, ‘The man who is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me, “Go to Siloam and wash”; so I went away and washed, and I received sight’” (v.11). What is missing from this description is an integrated understanding of incarnation. Instead, the beggar refers to ‘the man who is called Jesus’. Names involve Teacher thought, and the name Jesus means salvation. Thus, the beggar is being guided by a Teacher understanding of salvation. Using scientific language, he has discovered that interdisciplinary research is good for solving problems. This is significant. But there is no integrated understanding of incarnation that explains why interdisciplinary research is so helpful. There is no TMN of a monotheistic rational God that drives a person emotionally to do interdisciplinary research. One can tell that the understanding of the beggar is insufficient because he does not know where Jesus is: “They said to him, ‘Where is He?’ He said, ‘I do not know’” (v.12). Interpreting this cognitively, he does not know how to place incarnation within a mental map of understanding.

This healing comes to the attention of the religious authorities (v.13.), who notice that Jesus has been working on the Sabbath again: “Now it was a Sabbath on the day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes” (v.14). Making clay would fall under the category of kneading to create ‘a thick, dense mixture’. This is officially regarded as work, and thus would be forbidden on the Sabbath.

I do not think that Jesus is deliberately trying to violate Sabbath laws. Instead, one is dealing with two contradictory views of Sabbath. As I mentioned earlier, a mystical mindset views the division between human labor during the week and rest during the Sabbath as a picture of the division between human content and divine transcendence. This Jewish website explains that “In the worldview of the Kabbalah, Shabbat is more than just a day of rest. It is a gateway for reaching expanded consciousness. By studying the Kabbalistic understanding of the cycle of the weekdays and their prayers, one sees that on Shabbat the entire world becomes spiritually elevated”. Therefore, Jewish mysticism places great importance upon Sabbath laws: “Kabbalistic tradition greatly emphasizes Shabbat observance. Whether the mystical significance of the 39 prohibited acts of work, meditations on the Shabbat prayers and Kiddush, or candlelighting, Jewish mysticism teaches volumes on the particulars, as well as the general mindset, which can give one access to the spiritual treasure of this most holy of days.” A Sabbath that focuses upon God does elevate normal existence, but it does so by bringing wholeness and meaning to the details of life, and not by transcending the content of life with the emptiness of mysticism. Wholeness and meaning truly elevate normal life, while mysticism merely generates the feeling that normal life has been elevated.

Jesus, in contrast, views Sabbath as a time when humanity stops working in order to allow God to work. Therefore, it makes sense to heal someone on the Sabbath. And if righteousness is to be preserved, then the work of God needs to be accompanied by human actions. Mysticism views this as blasphemy because it associates the transcendent God with human content and because it violates taboos against working on the Sabbath.

The Jews then ask the healed man—about methodology: “Then the Pharisees also were asking him again how he received his sight” (v.15). As before, some details are lost in the retelling. The name of salvation is no longer present, and the idea of interdisciplinary research has been dropped: “And he said to them, ‘He applied clay to my eyes, and I washed, and I see’” (v.15). What remains is the personal experience: clay on my eyes, washing, and seeing. Looking at this cognitively, a mindset that is based in MMNs of religious status will not feel a need for salvation because it is convinced that it already has personal access to the ultimate source of absolute truth. And if one already has all the answers revealed by God, then why study anything else? Finally, if MMNs are the source of truth, then what really matters is religious experience.

This miracle succeeds in generating an internal conflict within the religious leaders: “Therefore some of the Pharisees were saying, ‘This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.’ But others were saying, ‘How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?’ And there was a division among them” (v.16). This conflict is at the level of religious Mercy experiences. One group emphasizes that Jesus is violating the holiness of the Sabbath. Another group emphasizes that Jesus is performing miracles. Thus, the religious leaders are being forced to choose between their concept of Sabbath and Jesus’ concept of Sabbath. They regard Sabbath as limiting human content in order to encounter a mystical God. Jesus regards Sabbath as God working rather than humans working.

I suggest that Christians also have a tendency to equate Sabbath rest with passivity. Sabbath is more than just taking a weekly break, because Hebrews 4 talks about entering God’s Sabbath rest, which implies achieving some state of mind rather than ceasing from all physical activity one day a week. Looking at this bigger picture, a Sabbath rest brings an end to work, but not necessarily to action. Effort stops, but not activity. Defining this cognitively, work is Server action that is motivated by the MMN of some desired goal, like climbing a hill in order to eat at the restaurant at the top of the hill. In contrast, one enters a Sabbath rest when Server actions are guided by the TMN of a concept of God. Instead of climbing the hill, one steps into a car and drives up the hill. The action is still there, but the effort is no longer present, because some ‘higher power’ is propelling the action. Hebrews 4 describes some of the requirements for entering a Sabbath rest: One must hear the voice of God and not harden one’s heart, which means being guided by a TMN of God instead of clinging to human MMNs. One must apply verbal understanding by adding faith to hearing. One must allow the word of God to distinguish underlying motivations. And one must ask God for mercy and grace to help in time of need.

The religious leaders try to resolve this conflict by asking the man who was blind: “So they said to the blind man again, ‘What do you say about Him, since He opened your eyes?’ And he said, ‘He is a prophet’” (v.17). If one reads the story from a purely literal viewpoint, it does not make sense for religious leaders to attempt to resolve a theological debate by asking a beggar for his opinion. Leaders with religious status do not care about the opinions of social outcasts. But if one interprets this symbolically as Perceiver eyes being opened, then the interchange makes sense. The religious leaders are asking the beggar ‘since He opened your eyes’. Cognitively speaking, a new form of thought has emerged, which is now being used. However, the religious leaders are not using this new strategy to evaluate truth but rather to evaluate people: ‘What do you say about him’, indicating a mindset that is fixated upon MMNs of personal status. In contrast, the answer of the beggar indicates a focus upon Perceiver truth: ‘He is a prophet’.

The religious leaders respond by trying to resolve their internal conflict. Looking at this literally, the conflict was between keeping the Sabbath and experiencing a miracle from God. The validity of the miracle from God is now called into question. This tells us that keeping the Sabbath is more important than being healed by God. Interpreting this cognitively, the overgeneralization of mysticism has turned into a TMN that is imposing itself upon thought, and this TMN is more important than mental networks of personal health. This illustrates the cognitive strength of a concept of God that has turned into a TMN.

Looking at this symbolically, a similar internal conflict exists today. As I have mentioned several times, Western civilization is characterized by a fundamental division between objective scientific thought and subjective mysticism and identity. When the technical thinking of incarnation is extended to include a rational concept of God as well as personal identity, then this will cause mental eyes to become open, giving sight to blind thought. A choice must then be made between acknowledging integrated thought or maintaining the ‘Sabbath split’ between objective and subjective—a Sabbath split that has been defined as objective rational thought versus subjective experiences where rational thought does not intrude.

In both literal and symbolic cases, the intuitive response will be to check sources and assert that the status quo has not changed: “The Jews then did not believe it of him, that he had been blind and had received sight, until they called the parents of the very one who had received his sight, and questioned them, saying, ‘Is this your son, who you say was born blind? Then how does he now see?’” (v.18-19). In other words, nothing unusual has happened because the man has always been able to see. Let us learn more by asking the parents. Symbolically speaking, parents would represent the original specializations that are now being reinterpreted in an eye-opening, fact-comparing manner. Notice also that the religious leaders ask again about methodology: ‘How does he now see?’

The parents answer very carefully: “His parents answered them and said, ‘We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but how he now sees, we do not know; or who opened his eyes, we do not know. Ask him; he is of age, he will speak for himself’” (v.21). The literal meaning is obvious. The parents do not want to become personally implicated. The next verses tell us why: “His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone confessed Him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue. For this reason his parents said, ‘He is of age; ask him’” (v.22-23). The underlying assumption is that MMNs of social acceptance are more important than anything else. Related to this is the assumption that the religious leaders are the valid spokesmen for God. This type of mindset flows naturally from mysticism. Mysticism may claim that God is higher than all human content, but in practice this means that content about God will be acquired from religious experts who are mentally associated with God. Thus, ‘God is above everyone’ turns in practice into ‘I worship and serve religious experts’, because a God that transcends all content is incapable of providing content, and religious experts are usually more than willing to fill this vacuum. I am not suggesting that all religious leaders function at this level. Instead, I am pointing out that when people believe that God transcends human content, this will create an internal vacuum that will naturally be filled by religious experts claiming to speak for God.

The symbolic interpretation leads to similar conclusions. Suppose that one interprets some specialization in a new eye-opening manner. The accepted experts of this field will acknowledge the facts that are being used and they will also acknowledge the existing methodology of ‘blind thought’. But they generally will not be willing to discuss the new methodology or how this new methodology was acquired. Instead they will redirect all questions to the new way of thinking. That is because modern science has fundamental assumptions that must not be questioned. One of these assumptions is that teleology has nothing to do with scientific thought. Teleology deals with purpose and goals, which is an expression of concrete technical thought. The name Jesus means salvation, which implies pursuing the goal of saving people. Using biblical language, when one separates teleology from science, then one is refusing to confess Jesus as the Christ.

Looking at this further, intelligent design is the belief that some intelligence lies behind the structure of the universe. The alternative is the theory of evolution, which asserts that intelligence does not lie behind the structure of the universe. But intelligent design violates the accepted division between science and religion. As the ‘father of intelligent design’ explains: “One of the things that’s so controversial and so hated about the concept of intelligent causes in biology is that it threatens this division of things into naturalism, which deals with how things really are and is called science, and religious belief, which [in their view] is about make-believe in people’s heads out of fairy tales and the like.” Those who question the official line tend to get ‘put out of the synagogue’: “The authorities of the evolutionary scientific community would say, ‘We’re not in crisis because we’re as determined as ever. We still have a solid phalanx of belief. Yes, we get individual dissenters, but they are quickly closed off and marginalized. They tend to lose their research funds, be considered no longer real scientists anymore.’”

This leads to a second round of official questioning: “So a second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, ‘Give glory to God; we know that this man is a sinner’” (v.24). Notice the contradictory presupposition, mentioned earlier. The official goal is to ‘give glory to God’. How does one do this? By recognizing the religious experts as the bona fide voice of God, while rejecting Jesus as evil. Thus, glorifying God is being defined as labeling Jesus as bad in Mercy thought. This contradiction will happen naturally when religious leaders who are driven by childish MMNs become regarded as the voice of God.

The beggar redirects the attention of the religious leaders to the real issue: “He then answered, ‘Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see’” (v.25). The Mercy label of Jesus is secondary. What really matters is having one’s eyes opened and learning how to think. They respond by asking about—methodology: “So they said to him, ‘What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?’” (v.26). This fixation upon methodology may seem like a caricature, but it resonates with my personal experience. As I have mentioned before, the vast majority of conversations that I have with educated individuals end up focusing upon questions of methodology. Speaking again from personal experience, when I am motivated by the questioning of others to reconsider my understanding, I keep coming back to the fact that I used to be blind but now can see. I had no clue how things fit together, but now I can see the big picture, and I can grasp how the facts of one specialization relate to the findings of another specialization. I have mentioned that Perceiver and Server thought have to grow in confidence. One of the signs that Perceiver thought has gained confidence is that one is able to mentally distinguish facts from emotions. Without this confidence, one can only preserve facts by avoiding emotions. Applying this to our current discussion, the facts of how things fit together are independent of the emotional labels that one ascribes to religious and academic leaders.

But even though the religious leaders are asking obsessively about methodology, they do not want an answer: “He answered them, ‘I told you already and you did not listen; why do you want to hear it again? You do not want to become His disciples too, do you?’” (v.27). Paraphrasing, ‘You asked me about methodology, I told you, and you ignored my answer. You are asking again about methodology. Is this because you did not understand the first time and want to learn more clearly how to practice this methodology?’ Why do the religious leaders obsess about methodology? My guess would be that inquiring about methodology is the standard way used to deal with questionable content. If some controversy arises, then this is handled by applying official methodology. Looking at this more generally, when skepticism sets in, all that remains is methodology. For instance, I remember one unusually honest retired Bible school professor telling me that he did not know how to evaluate theories about Christianity, because he had spent most of his time lecturing, marking papers, and guiding grad students.

One can tell that the religious leaders are practicing methodology backed up by Mercy status because they respond with revulsion when the beggar suggests that they might want to learn new methodology: “‘You do not want to become His disciples too, do you?’ They reviled him and said, ‘You are His disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where He is from’” (v.27-29). The word translated reviled is quite strong in the original Greek, and means to ‘revile a person to his face, abuse insultingly’. When a person responds with such strong emotions, then one can tell that core mental networks are being questioned. The Jews are basing their methodology in the personal status of Moses, the ultimate source of Jewish halacha. And they assume that the beggar is also a disciple of some religious expert. Going further, the Jews recognize Moses as an accepted expert about God, while Jesus has no recognized pedigree. I have personally experienced this sort of revulsion, with educated individuals metaphorically vomiting over my writing and telling me in no uncertain terms that I do not know how to think properly.

Beggarly Wisdom 9:30-38

The beggar responds with a wisdom that extends far beyond the insight of the typical beggar, again implying that what is really being described is a new insightful form of thought. One gains the distinct impression that the mental eyes of the beggar have been opened as well as the physical eyes. First, the beggar points out that it is amazing that these experts in methodology and recognized sources cannot explain either the methodology or source of this new form of thought that opens a person’s eyes: “The man answered and said to them, “Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes” (v.30). Applying this to the theory of mental symmetry, one would think that it is obvious that one can discover cognitive principles by comparing different fields of thought for common patterns. And yet, this type of thinking is not well known.

Looking at this cognitively, mental symmetry suggests that the mind can think in one of three ways: technical thought, mental networks, and normal thought. When knowledge is divided into objective and subjective, then technical thought will be used to analyze the objective while the subjective will be emotionally ruled by mental networks. If one wishes to integrate these various fragments of thought, then one must use normal thought to look for common patterns and analogies. This cannot be done when the primary premise is that the Sabbath division between objective and subjective is sacrosanct and must not be violated. (Searching for common patterns is currently done within the objective. For instance, I learned in engineering that mechanical and electrical systems follow common patterns, because both are governed by the same differential equations. Searching for common patterns is also done within the subjective. For instance, the concept of religious myth views religious stories as general patterns that apply to social and personal existence. However, normal thought is seldom viewed as a legitimate independent form of analysis that can be used to bridge technical specializations and mental networks.)

Second, the beggar points out the principle of righteousness: “We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him” (v.31). Looking first at the negative trait, Teacher thought will not listen to sources that are regarded as sinful or unreliable. One can see this trait in the Teacher person. If the Teacher person decides that some individual is an unreliable source of information, then the natural tendency is for the Teacher person to write that individual off completely. This is not a matter of being skeptical of what that person says, or of ignoring some of that person’s information. Instead, the Teacher person literally stops hearing the words of that person. There may still be polite verbal interaction, but there is no longer meaningful communication.

Looking now at the positive trait, if one wishes to gain the attention of Teacher thought, then TMNs of understanding must take emotional precedence over MMNs of personal identity, and one must allow Teacher understanding to guide Server actions. This happens especially during the second stage of personal transformation, when the focus is upon becoming righteous by adding Server actions to Teacher understanding. These are cognitive principles that apply to a mental concept of God, and I suggest that they also apply to interaction with the real God.

Third, the beggar points out the nature of Teacher thought: “Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing” (v.32-33). Speaking literally, giving sight to a person born blind is an unusual miracle, because it requires both physical healing and mental programming. Looking at this symbolically, what normally happens is that new theories replace old theories. It is unusual for a meta-theory to come along that explains existing theories and shows how they interrelate. This sort of thing has happened occasionally in the hard sciences. For instance, in chemistry, the periodic table of elements provided an integrated explanation for previous discoveries. In contrast, the soft sciences are characterized by a multiplicity of coexisting theories, with older theories continually falling out of fashion and being replaced by new ones. As I mentioned previously, Angelina Van Dyke and I recently presented papers at the Canadian and BC TESOL conferences using the theory of mental symmetry as a meta-theory to provide an integrated explanation for a number of more specific theories used by ESL, and an expanded version that also included key elements of Christian theology was presented at the international Christian TESOL conference in 2014. (This two part presentation can be seen on YouTube.) As the beggar states, this type of integrated explanation is only possible if the universe is ruled by Teacher thought, and if one has a deep personal understanding of Teacher thought: ‘If this man were not from God, He could do nothing’. This needs restating. It is easy to proclaim in an overgeneralized manner that ‘God rules over everything’. One simply has to ignore all content. It is far more difficult to come up with a meta-theory about the character of God that is actually capable of explaining content.

This reasoning means nothing to the religious experts, who instead are insulted that he is trying to teach them: “They answered him, ‘You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?’ So they put him out” (v.34). He is not just a sinner, but born in sin. And he is not just born in sin but is entirely born in sin: ‘all the parts are present and working as a whole’. In other words, he is following an integrated form of thought and behavior that is regarded as fundamentally flawed. The response is excommunication. One might think that modern intellectuals would not respond so harshly, but this summarizes the general response that we have received to our presentations. On the one hand, the presentations continue to be viewed and downloaded. But on the other hand, the official response—especially to the Christian presentation—felt very much like excommunication, because academic interaction suddenly stopped and the content of the presentation was never discussed.

When one experiences such total rejection, the natural tendency is to get discouraged or cynical. However, I have learned that there is another side to the story. When the beggar is expelled, then he encounters incarnation: “Jesus heard that they had put him out, and finding him, He said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ He answered, ‘Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you’” (v.35-36).

I have mentioned several times that rejection forces a person to apply the message that is being preached. This principle also applies to the beggar. When he first describes how he received his sight, he grasps the concept of using Perceiver thought in an interdisciplinary manner, but he misses the foundational belief that Jesus is the light of the world within the world. This missing belief is now added, because Jesus explicitly asks him ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ This belief is added at the end of the story because the personal experience of pursuing interdisciplinary thought despite rejection builds the internal content that is required for belief. Notice that believing in incarnation does not require learning any new content: ‘You have both seen him and he is the one who is talking with you’. The word translated seen often has ‘metaphorical meaning: to see with the mind’, and the verb is in the past tense. The beggar had his eyes opened and gained the ability to see. But what was he ‘seeing with his mind’? He was acquiring an internal picture of incarnation, by mentally connecting fragments of specialized technical knowledge, and then allowing this integrated understanding to guide his thinking. Until now, the beggar has been doing his interdisciplinary research in order to converse with the religious and academic experts. Now that the experts have officially rejected him, he starts to have a conversation with incarnation. Notice the two related components: The beggar constructed a mental concept of incarnation by integrating fragments of technical specialization, enlarging technical thought in Teacher thought. And the beggar was rejected by MMNs of academic and religious status, making it possible for personal identity to be guided by incarnation in Mercy thought.

The emotional turning point comes when the beggar is officially excommunicated. Verse 35 explicitly says that Jesus finds him when he hears that ‘they had put him out’. Looking at this cognitively, the beggar encounters the TMN of incarnation after he is emotionally rejected by the mental networks of religious and academic authority. This is related to the principle of righteousness: If one wishes to receive a reward from God, then one must not receive a reward from men. One can tell that the beggar is being guided by a new core mental network because his belief is followed by the emotional response of worship: “And he said, ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshiped Him” (v.38).

Using scientific language, the interdisciplinary research is now being guided by a new paradigm. Before, the goal was to do better research within the existing system. Now, the goal is to gain an integrated understanding of God and incarnation.

Judgment of God 9:39-41

That brings us finally to the bigger picture—the other side of the story. When one places personal experiences of official rejection within the paradigm of incarnation, then one recognizes that one is actually experiencing the judgment of God: “And Jesus said, ‘For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind’” (v.39). This judgment was first mentioned back in chapter 3: “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (3:19). This judgment goes beyond a determination of good and evil to include an imposition of punishment. But the punishment is not being imposed externally by some person or authority. Instead, the punishment is being imposed internally by the structure of the mind. Truth and understanding are being shared, and the person who rejects this message is experiencing the self-punishment of becoming internally blinded.

Notice all the things that the religious leaders have lost in this chapter. In verse 16, they chose to maintain the split between objective and subjective rather than experience the benefits of an integrated concept of God. Using religious language, they rejected Jesus as the Christ. In verse 22, the existing experts disowned the new source of knowledge. In verse 24, the religious leaders replaced their concept of God with Mercy labels of good and bad. In verse 27, they lost the ability to change their methodology, and in verse 30, maintaining existing methodology became more important than acquiring new knowledge. In verse 31, they rejected the idea of righteousness, while in verse 33 they abandoned the very concept of Teacher thought. Finally, in verse 34 they associated internal wholeness with evil, because they rejected the path of pursuing mental wholeness as being ‘born entirely in sins’. At each stage, the beggar gained new insight while the existing experts lost some aspect of mental sight. As Jesus said, ‘I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind’. This is not just a religious platitude. Instead, it is an inescapable cognitive principle. What makes it so scary is that when one becomes mentally blind, one also becomes blind to the fact that one is blind. As was mentioned before, this is known as illusory superiority.

The last two verses of the chapter make it clear the Jesus is talking about mental blindness and mental sight and not just physical blindness and physical sight: “Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, ‘We are not blind too, are we?’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, “We see,” your sin remains’” (v.40-41). The Pharisees pick up the symbolic meaning. When they ask Jesus if they are blind, they are obviously not referring to physical blindness but rather to mental and spiritual blindness. And Jesus does not respond by saying, ‘You misunderstood me, there is no symbolic meaning’. Instead, he adds details to their symbolic interpretation. The beggar was already internally seeing incarnation when he followed interdisciplinary research in the face of institutional rejection. But he started to converse with incarnation in Teacher thought when he was officially expelled. Similarly, the religious leaders were already becoming internally blind when they continued to reject this new form of interdisciplinary thought. But this rejection turned into sin when they said in Teacher thought that they could see.

There are major implications to this principle of God judging people by giving sight to those who are blind and blinding those have sight. For instance, when I began my research, many Christians were skeptical because I was starting with a theory of cognition rather than quoting verses from the Bible. I am now increasingly finding that the shoe is on the other foot. That is because many Christian individuals and institutions that used to be regarded as evangelical and Bible-based are losing their respect for Scripture. Instead of viewing it as a source of theology, it is being approached as narrative—stories that need to be imaginatively placed into the current culture. Instead of regarding the Bible as factually true, it is seen as a source of religious myth. In contrast, my respect for Scripture continues to grow, because I keep finding that the Bible contains more cognitive structure than any other book that I have analyzed. Thus, I now find myself increasingly in the unexpected role of defending the value of Scripture to evangelical Christians. The temptation is to blast these individuals and groups for hypocrisy and apostasy: ‘You rejected me because I was not quoting from the Bible. But your supposedly high view of the Bible is turning out to be a sham without substance. Shame on you!’ However, such a response is actually fighting the hand of God, because God is the one who is giving sight to those who use Perceiver thought in an interdisciplinary manner, while blinding those who build upon Mercy status. Saying this more bluntly, it appears that God is taking the Bible away from those who claim to believe the Bible and is giving the Bible to those who are trying to understand what the Bible is saying. I am not suggesting that I am the only one who believes the Bible in a proper manner, because that would also fall into the trap of building upon Mercy status. Instead, I am suggesting that the line separating those who respect Scripture from those who do not has become blurred. Using an analogy, normal warfare with its well-defined distinctions between friend and enemy has turned into guerrilla warfare where one no longer knows how to distinguish friend from foe. When this is the case, then one cannot blast people or groups for apostasy, because there is a good chance that one will be attacking the wrong target. Instead, one must focus upon the positive goal of gaining more personal insight rather than the negative goal of attacking blindness in others. This principle has always been true, but in the past it has been possible for Christian preachers and apologists to follow combative approaches and still remain somewhat effective.

One final point of a general nature before we move on. Using Perceiver thought by itself to search for common patterns is not sufficiently rigorous. That type of analogical thinking was used in medieval Europe and it was a mixture of insight and garbage. Instead, interdisciplinary research only becomes possible after technical thought has divided into independent specializations. And comparing different fields for common patterns only becomes rigorous to the extent that a person is willing to learn about different specializations. Saying this more succinctly, in order to compare one field of thought with another, these fields must exist and a person must become proficient in these fields. For instance, over the years I have managed to become reasonably competent in engineering, physics, math, computers, music, languages, psychology, neurology, history, theology, and personality. I have also traveled to 37 countries.

A Shepherd 10:1-6

A transition occurred in the previous chapter with the blind acquiring the ability to see and those who had the ability to see becoming blinded. I suggest that the blind man is an archetype that represents a shift in religious and academic thought. It is difficult to say how many individuals are involved in this shift, but it is enough to start a new movement, because chapter 10 talks about styles of leadership, which implies that a new group of people has emerged. Two primary contrasts are mentioned in this chapter. The first contrast is between a robber and a shepherd. The second contrast is between a shepherd and a good shepherd.

The key trait that defines a shepherd is ‘entering by the door’: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep” (v.1-2). A thief ‘steals by stealth rather than in the open with violence’, while a robber ‘steals out in the open, exploiting the vulnerable without hesitating to use violence’. Thus, the way that Mercy identity is being treated is secondary, because Jesus mentions both the polite thief and the violent robber. Instead, what matters is ownership, which is determined by Perceiver thought. Perceiver thought builds connections between experiences, objects, and people. When I own something, then Perceiver thought is connecting that object with my personal identity. However, what is being stolen here is not objects but rather sheep. Thus, one is dealing with an ownership that includes mental networks of life.

This deeper version of ownership was illustrated in the previous chapter. Objective science thinks that information can be separated from personal identity. But when information touches personal identity, then one has to purchase facts and skills by ‘paying the personal cost’ that is required to ‘make that information my own’. This was discussed in John 3, when Jesus talked about being born again, and also in John 6, when Jesus talked about eating my body and drinking my blood. More generally, we have seen throughout the book of John that if one attempts to do research without being born again, then one will acquire a layer of rational thought while still being emotionally driven by childish MMNs. Such research is not useless, because it makes it possible to transform the objective world of things. But the motivation for using things, as well as the goals that these things are used to reach, will both remain untransformed. That is because research that avoids paying a personal cost will naturally come to the conclusion that there is no need to pay a personal cost.

Jesus says that anyone who does not enter through the door is a thief and a robber. Jesus is not focusing here upon sheep, but rather about people who take care of sheep: religious, academic, and political leaders. ‘Climbs up some other way’ is an accurate translation. This implies that the thief is not descending to some low level of behavior but rather is ‘going up, or ascending’. However, the thief is going up ‘from another quarter, by another way’. In other words, the thief is applying the wrong methodology. In the previous chapter, the religious leaders fixated upon methodology. This does not mean that methodology should be ignored, but rather that one must follow a higher methodology if one wishes to be a shepherd of the sheep and not a thief or robber.

Jesus adds that the door is guarded by a doorkeeper: “He who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens” (v.2-3). Notice that it is the doorkeeper who opens the door to allow the shepherd to enter and not the shepherd himself. One sees this partially illustrated by the idea of official accreditation. One does not just choose to be a legitimate expert. Instead, one fulfills the requirements and then is officially recognized by others as a legitimate expert. I suggest that a similar but deeper level of official accreditation occurs cognitively when one purchases knowledge. This cognitive purchasing involves self-image, which can be defined as the Perceiver facts and Server sequences that I know about myself. For instance, when Server action is guided by Teacher understanding, then one is performing an act of righteousness. This is an important step, but it is not the same as becoming a righteous person. Instead, one becomes righteous in some area when one consistently behaves in a righteous manner under stress. Successful repetition under stress is required to cognitively purchase a skill. Similarly, repeatedly holding on to truth under stress is required to cognitively purchase truth. When one knows that one will think or behave in a certain manner, then the mental doorkeeper will open the door by changing self-image: I have become this sort of person; I have personalized this skill; I hold on to these truths. In the previous chapter, the beggar purchased truth by holding on to what he discovered despite emotional and institutional opposition.

I should emphasize that cognitive ownership is deeper than self-affirmation or self talk. Self-affirmation replaces negative internal messages with positive ones. If some positive message is repeated, then this repetition will give Server stability to Teacher words. And this positive message will not be rejected by Perceiver thought if it describes legitimate facts about myself. However, cognitive ownership goes beyond talking to being. It is the deep realization of who I am, what I know, and how I behave that emerges when I go through situations of personal stress. Words play a primary role in self-affirmation but only a secondary role in cognitive ownership. In self-affirmation, I tell myself what I want to be, while in cognitive ownership I verbally acknowledge what I am and what I have become.

The next verses make it clear that entering by the door involves a personalization of Teacher understanding: “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice” (v.3-4). The sheep do not recognize the image of the shepherd in Mercy thought but instead recognize the voice of the shepherd in Teacher thought. This tells us that relationship is being guided by TMNs of understanding rather than MMNs of personal status. Similarly, the shepherd also focuses upon Teacher thought, calling the sheep by name. A name is a label in Teacher thought that summarizes the skill and knowledge of a person. For instance, the name of ‘medical doctor’ describes a particular combination of skill and knowledge involving human health. Calling a person by name assumes cognitive ownership, because a person must cognitively purchase knowledge and skills in order to be called by a certain name.

This cognitive ownership extends to the relationship between the shepherd and the sheep, because the shepherd ‘calls his own sheep’. Verse 4 describes some of the differences between cognitive ownership of sheep and the ownership of slavery: “When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.” First, slavery restricts personal freedom and hangs onto people, because one is treating human beings as objects. Cognitive ownership ‘brings forth, puts out, banishes, or produces’. Instead of hanging on to people, it sets them free; instead of limiting people, it ‘produces and brings forth’. That is because Teacher emotion comes from order-within-complexity—when many people independently behave in a similar manner, guided by the same general Teacher understanding. Second, under slavery, the slaves do the hard work so that leaders can luxuriate in comfort. Cognitive ownership forces leaders to go ahead of the people, because one must first purchase knowledge and skills before one can lead people in some area. Third, slavery drives workers and forces them in a certain direction. Cognitive ownership attracts followers through resonating TMNs: The sheep follow because they know the voice of the leader. People who are guided by some TMN will be naturally driven to follow those who have taken cognitive ownership of these TMNs.

MMNs of personal status can be acquired through emotional experiences. Thus, a person who is born to the right family or surrounded by enough wealth automatically acquires MMNs of personal status. TMNs must be constructed as a person gains and applies understanding. Thus, one gains importance in Teacher thought by taking cognitive ownership of knowledge and skills. MMNs focus upon people and status, leading to attitudes of dominance and submission. TMNs, in contrast, focus upon understanding and behavior, motivating people to naturally listen to and follow leaders who have cognitive ownership. Saying this more simply, one is leadership by status while the other is leadership by expertise and example.

This same mechanism prevents people from following strange understanding: “A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers” (v.5). MMNs drive people to exclude those who look and act different, resulting in feelings of cultural superiority. TMNs drive people to reject strange theories. This is more inclusive than cultural superiority, because understanding is more general than personal experience. For instance, a religion that is based in theology is naturally more inclusive than one that is based in tribalism. Modern academia provides a partial example, because culture is regarded as secondary, and people from many cultures can become experts if they acquire cognitive ownership.

John concludes by saying that the disciples did not understand what Jesus was saying: “This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them” (v.6). Because science did not exist, Jesus could not point to the partial example of science but rather had to use a ‘figure of speech,’ which the disciples did not understand.

I am the Door 10:7-9

Jesus then equates the door of the sheep with incarnation: “So Jesus said to them again, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them’” (v.7-8). Looking at this cognitively, the only proper way to get into the sheepfold is through incarnation based in the TMN of a concept of God. (We will discuss Jesus’ statement that ‘I am the door’ when examining verse 33.)

Jesus follows this with the statement that ‘all who came before me are thieves and robbers’. This is a very strong statement, because ‘all’ includes everyone, even religious experts such as Abraham and Moses. If a thief or robber is defined as someone who adds a veneer of expertise on to a core nature based in MMNs, then one is forced to conclude that Jesus is making an accurate statement, because he was the first to be fully guided by the TMN of a concept of God. However, Jesus does not say that everyone who follows him will also be a thief and a robber, which implies that it is possible for people who follow Jesus to become guided by a TMN of understanding the nature of God. This does not mean that those who lived before the time of Christ had no Teacher understanding of the nature of God. There was significant understanding, but this Teacher thought occurred within an overall context of cultural and tribal MMNs.

Science provides a partial illustration of this transition. Before science emerged, people knew many things about the natural world, but no one was mentally guided by the TMN of a general understanding of natural law. Instead, all knowledge about the natural world was ultimately held together by MMNs of experience and personal status. But once natural law was discovered, then it became possible for scientists to be mentally guided by TMNs of general scientific theory.

Jesus adds that ‘the sheep did not hear them’. In other words, no real interaction between leaders and followers happened at the level of Teacher thought. The leaders were incapable of truly talking while the followers were incapable of truly listening. Instead, everything was emotionally colored by either implicit or explicit core MMNs. This may seem like a strong statement, but it is backed up by both history and the biblical narrative. For instance, the Bible describes King David as a man after God’s own heart. And yet, David was a fairly typical warmongering tribal leader of that age. The second book of Samuel relates, “Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah...” (2 Samuel 11:1). And in 1 Chronicles 28:3 David says that “God said to me, ‘You shall not build a house for My name because you are a man of war and have shed blood.’” Moving to the next generation, David’s son Solomon built the Temple, and 1 Kings 4:30 says that “Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the sons of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt.” But he obviously had problems with lust because “He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away. For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God” (1 Kings 11:3-4). In both cases, one finds that the Jewish heroes had feet of clay. The man after God’s own heart was driven by MMNs of violence and domination, while the wisest man of his age was driven by MMNs of sexual hedonism. Saying this more generally, it appears that even the best of leaders were incapable of truly talking, and it is also clear that their followers were incapable of truly listening.

Jesus describes the characteristics of what it means for him to be the door: “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (v.9). Jesus is mentioning the Mercy and Teacher aspects of incarnation. On the Mercy side, there is personal salvation. Concrete technical thought improves situations; incarnation extends this to improve MMNs of personal identity. On the Teacher side, there is interdisciplinary existence. Abstract technical thought works within some paradigm; incarnation extends this to many paradigms, and these paradigms are homes for personal identity. Using the language of Jesus, a person goes in and out of the sheepfold and finds pasture.

Looking at this in more detail, whenever a person continues to use some theory, then that theory will turn into a TMN which will emotionally trap a person within that theory. As Thomas Kuhn says, it is very difficult for a scientist to change his paradigm. Unfortunately, most general theories are rather limited, and the typical scientist uses rational thought within some limited paradigm, while ignoring or belittling anything that lies outside of this paradigm. That is what happens when one enters the sheepfold by some other way. However, when one enters by the door and follows incarnation, then this emotional belittling is not necessary, because the technical thinking of incarnation is based in the universal Teacher character of God. Instead of hiding within the sheepfold, or refusing to eat anything that comes from outside the sheepfold, one can leave the sheepfold, find pasture, and reenter the sheepfold. Cognitively speaking, one can leave the safety of the Teacher paradigm, acquire unrelated information, and not have one’s paradigm threatened. For instance, whenever I analyze some author or system, it is possible that my theory will not survive this analysis. However, I have discovered so far that one can analyze other systems without threatening the theory of mental symmetry. One can go in and out and find pasture and not poison.

Life versus Destruction 10:10

Jesus contrasts his motivation with the motivation of the thief: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (v.10). Previously, Jesus talked about both thieves and robbers. Here, he focuses upon the thief, who steals surreptitiously. A thief is not openly violent. Despite this, Jesus says that a thief comes only to steal secretly, ‘kill as a sacrifice and offer on an altar’, and ‘permanently destroy’. These are strong words that reflect what happens when MMNs acquire a veneer of Teacher theory.

This combination will lead naturally to surreptitious cognitive theft, because it will appear on the surface as if rational Teacher thought is in charge, while under the surface behavior is still driven by childish MMNs, which attempt to acquire possessions, experiences, status, and skill without paying the required cognitive cost. (I suggest that most sin can be defined as attempting to gain something—or be someone—without paying the required cognitive cost.) Childish MMNs of status and culture naturally fight for dominance, leading to dictatorship, hero worship, and xenophobia. Teacher thought searches for a general theory that summarizes the essence of many specific situations, and then eliminates anything that is inconsistent with this theory. When Teacher thought is added to childish MMNs, then this will naturally lead to a distilling of the essence of childish thought. Instead of having thievery juxtaposed with kindness, all that remains will be efficient, distilled thievery. Instead of coming to steal secretly, the thief will come only to steal secretly.

Nazism provides an extreme example of this principle. What made the Nazis so evil was not their blatant racism, because many cultures have practiced open racism. Instead the evil came from combining racism with Teutonic efficiency. Instead of merely killing Jews at random, as previous pogroms have done, the Nazis used IBM punchcard technology to identify Jews more effectively and scientifically developed pesticide to kill Jews more efficiently.

The word translated kill means to ‘kill as a sacrifice’. Similarly, when Teacher thought is added to childish MMNs, then normal interpersonal conflict acquires higher emotional overtones. One is not just killing another person in order to remove some personal threat. Instead, one is killing someone because they are a heretic, in order to further the kingdom of God. Religion is often regarded as a source of war. This is both true and not true. The ultimate source of war is not religion, but rather struggling childish MMNs. In the words of the apostle James, “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel” (James 4:1-2). When religion and theology are added as a veneer to childish MMNs, then this intensifies the struggle between childish MMNs that is already happening. Thus, there is a sense in which religion is a motivating factor in war. But when one examines religious war in more detail, one notices that the religion is invariably being used as a façade to ennoble the crude motivations of childish personality and give them a veneer of respectability and religiosity.

The word translated destroy is also a strong term that means to ‘fully destroy, cutting off entirely’. Thomas Kuhn says that when there is a paradigm shift, then all the textbooks will be rewritten in the light of the new understanding. In other words, the old will be fully destroyed and entirely cut off. That is because Teacher thought hates exceptions to the general rule. Thus, any thinking that is based in the old paradigm will be eliminated as an exception to the new general rule.

In contrast, incarnation comes to provide abundant life: ‘I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly’. Stated simply, the purpose is not to shut down mental networks but rather to enable them. The word translated abundant is also quite strong, and means ‘all around, beyond what is anticipated, exceeding expectation’. As far as I can tell, this combination is only possible if both the universe and the human mind were created by one God to function in a manner that reflects the character of God. Teacher thought feels good when a general theory becomes more general by applying to more situations. Therefore, if one is guided by the TMN of an understanding of the nature of God, then one will be emotionally driven to think and behave in a manner that is consistent with how the mind was designed to function. Thus, the primary internal goal will be to enable mental networks of life so that the mind can function in a whole matter. Similarly, if one is guided by the TMN of an understanding of natural law, then one will be emotionally driven to discover new ways of behaving in a way that reflects the laws of nature, leading to all-around life that exceeds expectations.

One can gain a partial understanding of this by looking at science and technology. True science does not have to control thinking, but rather can encourage people to explore the universe independently without supervision, because science is ultimately based upon how the universe functions, and not upon the opinions of some group of experts. Similarly, science leads to material life that exceeds expectations, because gaining a greater understanding of how the universe functions makes it possible to construct new gadgets that harness the laws of nature in new and unexpected ways.

The order of statements in verse 8 is significant: “If anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” The starting point is entering through the door of incarnation. Saying this cognitively, one must start with the assumption that a Teacher understanding of God is revealed through the technical thinking of incarnation. If this is not the starting point, then the result will be a veneer of rational Teacher thought placed over childish MMNs, leading to the thievery that was just discussed. Entering through the door will lead to personal salvation, because one can only let go of core mental networks if one has an alternative set of core mental networks. Starting with the TMN of a rational concept of God and incarnation provides an emotional alternative to childish core MMNs, making it possible to let go of childish infatuations and become personally saved. When one follows the TMN of a rational concept of God without being mentally polluted by childish MMNs, then it becomes possible to go in and out and find pasture. Otherwise, one will become emotionally locked into the limited TMN of some paradigm or worldview that makes it emotionally impossible to think beyond the walls of the sheepfold.

The Good Shepherd 10:11-18

The emphasis of the last section was upon being guided fully by Teacher thought and not just bolting Teacher thought onto childish MMNs. This section describes the positive impact that MMNs can have upon Teacher thought. The primary concept of this section is ownership, because the shepherd who owns the sheep is being compared with a hired hand who is being paid to take care of the sheep. Since Jesus said in verse 6 that he was using a figure of speech, we will interpret ownership as cognitive ownership.

Jesus begins by talking about laying down his life: “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (v.11). This is typically viewed as physical martyrdom, but the original Greek does not back this up. When talking about abundant life in verse 10, the word zoe is used, which refers to both physical and spiritual life. But when talking about laying down his life in verses 11, 15, and 17, the word psyche is used, which talks about ‘the soul’ or ‘a person’s distinct identity’. Thus, Jesus is talking about internal rebirth, and not necessarily physical sacrifice.

The good shepherd is compared with the hired hand: “He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them” (v.12). The word translated snatches means to ‘seize, snatch, obtained by robbery’, giving the idea that the wolf acts like the robbers referred to earlier. However, a wolf steals, kills, and destroys sheep in order to consume them for food. The hired hand acts like a good shepherd until he ‘sees the wolf coming’, and the word sees means to ‘gaze on for the purpose of analyzing’. In other words, some new danger arises that threatens the sheep. The hired hand sees this danger coming and flees, making it possible for the wolf to steal the sheep, who respond by scattering. Verse 13 states that this happens “because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.”

We have been interpreting food as abstract information, and drink as concrete experience. We have also interpreted the sheepfold as a general theory within which personal identity lives. A wolf views sheep as food, suggesting that some outside intellectual force is threatening the various mental networks of personal identity that live within the sheep fold. The wolf snatches the sheep, implying that the intellectual enemy is trying to steal content that it does not legitimately own. And the wolf scatters the sheep. Scattering is the opposite of Teacher order-within-complexity. Items that are scattered no longer fit together in an ordered structure.

This may sound like a rather esoteric interpretation, but it has happened throughout recent history. For instance, when objective, specialized science tries to explain culture and religion, then I suggest that this is an example of a wolf snatching sheep. That is because science is trying to steal intellectual food that does not belong to it. Objective science has no right to make statements about religion, because religion involves subjective emotions, and objective science starts by assuming that one should ignore subjective emotions. Similarly, specialized technical thought has no right to make statements about God, because God is a universal being, and technical specialization starts by assuming that one should ignore universal understanding. When objective, specialized science tries to explain God and religion, then it steals, scatters, and devours. It steals because it is taking information that it does not own. It scatters because it replaces the structure of God and theology with nothing, leaving people in society with nothing to hold them together. And it devours like a wolf because it consumes intellectual food regardless of the destructive effect this has upon subjective MMNs.

The response of a shepherd to a wolf will depend upon cognitive ownership. A hired hand will see the threat coming and flee in order to preserve self: “He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep” (v.13). In contrast, the good shepherd will lay down his life for the sheep because of cognitive ownership: “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me” (v.14). The word translated know means experiential knowledge. Looking at this cognitively, cognitive ownership brings with it a sense of responsibility. In contrast, the hired hand is not concerned about the sheep; he does not ‘take an interest, with the implication of some apprehension’.

For instance, I have now spent over a year analyzing New Testament books and writing essays such as this one on the Gospel of John. I do not know who will read these essays or if I will ever get paid for my time. If I were merely a hired hand, then I would have quit this project long ago. But I am guided by two forms of cognitive ownership. In abstract thought, I have acquired cognitive ownership of the theory of mental symmetry. I am not just trying to interpret Scripture, but attempting to expand a general understanding of the character of God, the mind, and the world. In concrete thought, applying the theory of mental symmetry has caused valuable mental networks to emerge within my mind, mental networks that could provide the seed of a better way of life, and analyzing Scripture helps to place these mental networks within a context of wholesome living. Therefore, I mentally lay down my personal life in order to protect these ‘sheep’. A similar ‘laying down’ occurs many times when writing an essay. At first, my attitude is usually that of a hired hand: I will do the job of writing the essay and then resume normal life. But then I encounter passages that resist analysis. Cognitive ownership means that I cannot give up. Instead, I have to lay down feelings of timing and scheduling and focus upon analyzing the text to the best of my abilities, no matter how long this takes. So far, I have found that the understanding always comes—if I want it badly enough.

Summarizing, one normally thinks of ‘laying down one’s life for the sheep’ as dying physically for real people. But I suggest that the real laying down is occurring cognitively, and that the sheep are actually mental networks that one is trying to protect—and that this is true even when one is laying one’s life down physically. In the words of Napoleon Bonaparte, “A man does not have himself killed for a half-pence a day or for a petty distinction. You must speak to the soul in order to electrify him.” If one ignores the cognitive component and focuses purely upon the physical, then it becomes possible for dictators, such as Napoleon, to manipulate followers into giving up their lives by appealing to mental networks in manipulative ways. That is why it is important to look beyond the external manifestation of laying down one’s life to the internal motivation.

Jesus gives quite different advice in Matthew 24, where he tells the people to flee to the mountains when they see the abomination of desolation. The word for flee in that passage is the same verb used to describe the behavior of the hired hand. Going further, Jesus warns against personal commitments in Matthew 24 (“woe to those who are pregnant and those who are nursing babies in those days”, v.19), while condemning the hired hand in John 10 for fleeing because he does not have personal commitments. And, while warning people to flee Jerusalem in Matthew 24, Jesus himself ‘was determined to go to Jerusalem’ (Luke 9:52), even though he knew that he would be ‘devoured by wolves’. Finally, Jesus did this while predicting that “You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, ‘I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered’” (Matt. 26:31).

I suggest several reasons for this contrast. In Matthew 24, the temple stones of absolute religious truth are being dismantled, and people are being told to flee to the mountains of rational understanding. In contrast, Jesus is already based in a rational concept of God in Teacher thought. Using the language of Hebrews 8-9, Jesus is based in the heavenly Temple that is eternal. The earthly temple is merely a copy of this heavenly Temple and will be destroyed. Using the imagery of still another parable, when the floods come, then those who are built upon the sand need to flee, while those who are built on solid rock should not leave their solid ground. If one’s goal is to flee, then it is better not to have personal commitments, while if one is supposed to stay, then personal commitments add motivation. Finally, using yet another analogy, when there is a battle, then civilians flee while soldiers stay. Jesus heads to Jerusalem because he will eventually achieve victory through the backing of God the Father in Teacher thought. Those who are fleeing in Matthew 24 do not have such a backing, but instead are troubled by dissension, betrayal, apostasy, and false leaders. Saying this more generally, serving God does not require martyrdom and self-sacrifice. An attitude of self-denial comes from following absolute truth that is based in MMNs of emotional status. Instead, as Paul advises in 1 Corinthians 7, it is better to limit emotional commitment when going through a time of societal transition.

Jesus describes what it means to lay down one’s life when one is based in Teacher understanding. Personal commitments will be guided by understanding: “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep” (v.14-15). Jesus is not emotionally attached to his followers in some sort of idolatrous manner. Instead, the relationship between him and his followers is ‘even as’ the relationship between him and God the Father. The word translated even as means ‘according to the manner in which, in the degree that, just as’, which indicates that there is a correspondence.

Moving on, laying down one’s life leads to increased order: “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd” (v.16). Many words have been written about the ‘sheep which are not of this fold’. Some claim that this refers to Islam. I have problems with that interpretation because of the extensive cognitive differences between incarnation and Islam. For instance, Islam believes strongly in a mystical concept of God, while incarnation requires a rational, knowable God. Islam is strongly rooted in blind faith, while incarnation is based in a rational understanding of God the Father. Finally, the Quran makes most logical sense when it is viewed as an expression of the personal life of Mohammed. In contrast, John’s description of incarnation makes most logical sense when it is viewed as an expression of the process by which rational understanding descends to human existence.

The standard Christian interpretation is that the ‘other sheep’ refer to Gentile believers. John 12 backs up this interpretation, because when Greeks come to talk to Jesus, then Jesus responds by talking about achieving greater order by laying down one’s life. We will look at this further when discussing John 12.

Examining this cognitively, the technical thinking of incarnation is inherently limited to some specialization. One sees this illustrated by the typical Contributor person, who will limit most activity to the confines of some specific area of expertise. If technical thought wants to expand beyond the walls of a specialization, then Contributor thought must lay down its life in order to be expanded by Teacher thought.

This process is described in verses 16 and 17: “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.” Initially, the other sheep belong to a different paradigm, they are ‘not of this fold’. They need to ‘hear my voice’ so that they are also included within the Teacher understanding. The end result will be greater Teacher order-within-complexity: ‘one flock with one shepherd’. This brings pleasure to Teacher thought: ‘For this reason the Father loves me’. And the process of letting go of technical thought in order to expand Teacher understanding is itself a general theory in Teacher thought: ‘because I lay down my life so that I may take it again’.

Contributor thought is the part of the mind that is most associated with free will. Contributor thought chooses between alternatives presented by Exhorter thought. Jesus emphasizes that he is choosing to lay down his life and not being forced: “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative” (v.18). In order to freely choose something, one must have a foundation of core mental networks that is not being threatened. One feels coerced when one is forced to follow a certain path because core mental networks are being threatened. For instance, if someone asks me for money, then I can choose to say yes or no, because my physical integrity is not being threatened. But if someone puts a gun to my head and asks me for money, then the threat to my personal integrity will force me along a certain path. Jesus does not feel coerced, because his core mental networks are based in the TMN of a concept of God: “I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father” (v.18).

Is Jesus Crazy? 10:19-21

Jesus’ words lead again to a state of confusion within his listeners, which enables free will within their minds. However, the choices this time are more extreme. One group concludes that Jesus has gone crazy: “Many of them were saying, ‘He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to Him?’” In John 8:48, Jesus was accused of having a demon, but he was not called crazy. In John 9:24 he is called a sinner, but he is still not described as crazy. The word translated insane means ‘raving mad, speaking as a madman’. Using psychological language, Jesus has crossed the boundary from neurosis to psychosis. In simple terms, a neurotic has problems, but he knows that he has problems and is still able to function within reality. In contrast, a psychotic lives within illusion, has lost connection with reality, and does not realize that he has a problem. Jesus is now living so fully within his understanding that those around him regard him as psychotic.

They respond by saying that no one should listen to Jesus. This is an interesting conclusion because Jesus has been talking about the sheep hearing his voice. The audience is concluding that no one should listen to the voice of Jesus because he is crazy. Thus, the audience is illustrating that they are not Jesus’ sheep because they do not recognize his voice. Is Jesus crazy? If one uses MMNs of society to evaluate the words of Jesus, then what Jesus says is beyond the bounds of common sense. But if one is guided by a TMN of rational understanding, then one concludes that Jesus is making eminent sense. Jesus says that the relationship between him and people is like the relationship between him and his Father. If science had existed, then Jesus could have expanded upon this statement, because people would have had at least a partial understanding of the nature of the relationship between incarnation and God the Father. Instead, Jesus had nothing ‘even as’ to compare to, and his audience concluded that he was insane.

Another group points out the eye-opening nature of interdisciplinary thought: “Others were saying, ‘These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed. A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?’” (v.21). Looking at this cognitively, if Jesus is being guided by a TMN of general understanding to gain the insights of interdisciplinary research, then it makes sense to be guided by a TMN of general understanding to gain the benefits of interdisciplinary existence. The TMN that is driving Jesus cannot be a demon because it is opening the eyes of the blind. Here too a transition has been made from neurosis to psychosis. In John 8:48, Jesus was accused of having a demon—a portrayal of neurosis. In 10:21, Jesus is referred to as being demon-possessed—a description of psychosis.

I and the Father are One 10:22-41

Verses 22-23 set the context for the next section: “At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon.” The ‘feast of the dedication’ is now known as Hanukkah, which celebrates the light that burned during the re-dedication of the Temple after it had been desecrated by the Seleucids. This is not a biblical feast, but rather was initiated by the Maccabees after the Jewish Bible was finished. It is interesting that this non-biblical feast is mentioned in the Bible, and this is the only time that Hanukkah is mentioned.

Interpreting this description symbolically, the center of religion in Jerusalem has been blasphemed and Jesus is trying to bring light that will restore religious truth. It is winter, a picture of absolute truth, when the water of Mercy experiences is frozen solid to make truth. And Jesus is responding in the fashion of Solomon by teaching wisdom. The name Solomon means ‘his peace or wholeness’, which implies that Jesus is trying to bring wholeness and prevent scattering.

The question of Jesus’ identity has finally come to a head: “The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly” (v.24). The word translated plainly means ‘a proverb or statement quoted with resolve, leaving a witness that something deserves to be remembered’. Thus, they are not looking for a clearer explanation, but rather a definitive pronouncement, backed up by sufficient MMNs of emotional importance.

Jesus responds that he has given them an answer backed up by a TMN of understanding: “Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me’” (v.25). He has performed actions in Server thought that reflect the name of God in Teacher thought. But they have not believed this evidence.

The reason that they have not believed is because they are not sheep who are guided by Teacher understanding: “But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (v.26-27). Notice again the relationship between sheep and following Teacher thought. They are not sheep, because they are looking for Mercy status rather than being guided by Teacher understanding.

Jesus then adds that a TMN of understanding is far more powerful than MMNs of personal status: “and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (v.28-29). The word translated perish is the same word that was used in verse 10 when talking about the thief coming to destroy. And snatch was used in verse 12 to describe the snatching of the wolf. Jesus is not just saying that his sheep will not perish, but rather that they will never perish. Similarly, he says that no one will snatch his sheep. This is because incarnation is based in a general Teacher understanding that is more universal than any other understanding. Looking at the original Greek, greater is ‘mega’, which means ‘large, great, in the widest sense’. And than all means ‘each and every part of a totality’. In other words, this is not merely an overgeneralized statement that ‘God is big’, which falls apart when one asks for specifics. Instead, it is a statement of universality that still holds true when one examines the details.

Having made this general statement, Jesus follows it by a personal claim: “I and the Father are one” (v.30). We will return to this statement in just a moment. But first we need to establish a context by looking at the following verses.

The Jews interpret Jesus’ claim as blasphemy: “The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him” (v.31). Jesus tries to redirect their attention to the relationship between his Server actions and a Teacher understanding of God: “Jesus answered them, ‘I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?’” (v.32). The Jews respond that Server actions are irrelevant. Instead, what matters to them is that Jesus is equating himself with God the Father: “The Jews answered Him, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God’” (v.33).

Jesus defuses this with a rather strange reply: “Jesus answered them, ‘Has it not been written in your Law, “I said, you are gods”’?” (v.34). In other words, why is it blasphemy for Jesus to claim to be one with God if the Bible itself says that people are gods? This statement is often interpreted from a mystical viewpoint, defending the idea that the ultimate goal is to become united with God. But Jesus adds a clarification: “If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?” (v.36-37). On the one hand, those who are called gods (plural) have received the word of God. On the other hand, the Son of God (singular) was set apart by God the Father to be the word made flesh. Humans can receive the word of God, while incarnation was sent as the word of God.

Looking at this in more detail, what Jesus says differs from mysticism in a number of ways: First, mysticism claims that ‘I am God’, while the statement here refers to gods in the plural. This is a major distinction, because mysticism is based in overgeneralization, and overgeneralization cannot handle any details, even the idea of a multiplicity of gods. In contrast, Jesus mentions both gods and the one God in a single sentence, an expression of Teacher order-within-complexity: ‘he called them gods, to whom the word of God came’. Second, mysticism states that God transcends all content. In contrast, Jesus backs up his statement by saying that ‘the Scripture cannot be broken’. And broken means to ‘release or unbind so something no longer holds together’. In other words, the statement that ‘you are gods’ does not transcend any of the content of Scripture. Third, the mystical claim that ‘I am God’ is backed up by personal experience. In contrast, God is making a verbal statement and calling people gods. Fourth, mysticism is guided by individual experiences that must not be mentally compared with other experiences, because comparing adds details which overgeneralization cannot handle. Jesus, in contrast, explains his statement by comparing one situation with another.

The other passage that is used to support the concept of mystical unity with God is in 2 Peter:“To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust” (2 Peter 1:1-4). The phrase ‘partakers of the divine nature’ appears at first glance to be a description of mysticism, but I suggest that the context does not support a mindset of mysticism. The word translated partaker means ‘sharer, partner, companion’. Being a partner or companion is quite different than becoming united. Mysticism asserts that one loses one’s identity in God, while being a partner means that personal identity survives intact in the presence of God. and the word translated nature means ‘inner nature, the underlying constitution or makeup of someone’. This term implies structure and content, which is precisely the opposite of vague overgeneralization. Thus, Peter is not talking about becoming one with a mystical God of transcendent Oneness, but rather of acquiring an inner nature of thinking and behaving in a manner that is a partner to how God thinks and behaves. The preceding verses describe the process of becoming this sort of person. The starting point is a God and incarnation of righteousness, consistent with what we have been discussing in this essay on the Gospel of John. This righteousness needs to be embodied as personal knowledge—‘knowledge gained through first-hand relationship’. And instead of discovering God by letting go of content and morality, God is glorified within creation and exhibits moral excellence. Similarly, the response from God is not mystical union but rather precious and magnificent promises—statements that God will change reality. In brief, Peter is not describing the nothingness of mysticism but rather the somethingness of personal transformation.

Jesus concludes by telling them yet again to focus upon Server actions being guided by a Teacher understanding of God the Father: “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me” (v.37). And even if they do not understand his words, they should still focus upon his Server actions because that will give them the mental structure that is required to understand the relationship between incarnation and God the Father: “but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father” (v.38).

But this makes no sense to them, and they try again to kill him for blasphemy: “Therefore they were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp” (v.39). As I have mentioned numerous times, Jesus’ words could have made sense if they had understood science, because science is based upon the relationship between mathematical words in Teacher thought and natural processes in Server thought.

Jesus then goes to the far side of the Jordan River, limiting his message to something that is compatible with the earlier baptism of John: “And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was first baptizing, and He was staying there” (v.40). In other words, people cannot handle the full message of Jesus, and so he restricts himself to a partial message that is compatible with fundamentalist belief. This limited message attracts many followers: “Many came to Him and were saying, ‘While John performed no sign, yet everything John said about this man was true.’ Many believed in Him there” (v.41).

I have experienced something similar with the theory of mental symmetry. On the one hand, it appears that mental symmetry is consistent in detail with biblical Christianity. Jesus’ audience concluded that ‘everything John said about this man was true’. Similarly, one can use mental symmetry to interpret the Bible. However, when one starts with a general Teacher theory rather than the specific words of a book, then one can use the theory to make statements that go beyond the content of that book. By retreating to the far side of the Jordan where John was first baptizing, Jesus is limiting himself to interpreting the Bible rather than using an understanding of God the Father to make statements that go beyond the content of the Bible.

Going ‘beyond the content of the Bible’ may ring some alarm bells in the mind of the Bible-believing Christian. Therefore, I will attempt to address these concerns. Many Christian denominations feel that they preach the pure unadulterated message of the Bible without adding to the text. But if one looks closer, one notices that every denomination emphasizes certain aspects of Scripture while glossing over other aspects, as well as adding numerous cultural and moral restrictions. For instance, I am reminded of the story of the Spanish evangelical Christian lady at a church picnic asking the American missionary, “Do women in American churches really wear pants and not dresses”—while she was refilling the missionary’s glass of wine. Looking at this cognitively, it will feel as if one is not adding to the text of the Bible if these additions come from religious experts whom one respects in Mercy thought, while pronouncements that come from other religious experts will feel like additions to the biblical text. I am not suggesting that all religious denominations are built upon self-deception. There are core doctrines of Christianity upon which all denominations agree, and it is proper to regard groups that alter these core doctrines as either sects or cults. Instead, I suggest that one is dealing with a solution to a problem which creates its own problems. The underlying problem is biblical heresy. Charismatic churches illustrate what can happen when Perceiver truth does not come from accepted religious authorities. People become their own religious authorities, spouting strange doctrines prefaced with ‘God told me to tell you that...’ The problem of individual heresy can be eliminated by accepting truth from established religious authorities who have emotional status, but this solution leads to the secondary problem of denominational blindness that we have just discussed.

It is inevitable that one adds to the biblical text. That is because it is impossible for a single finite book to contain all truth. An attitude of Christian fundamentalism will claim that the Bible is the sole source of absolute truth, but in practice the biblical text will always be extended by statements from the respected authorities of one’s denomination. Therefore, I suggest that what really matters is not whether one adds to the biblical text—because this adding is inevitable, but how one adds to the biblical text. Going further, I suggest that our discussion of the Gospel of John tells us how one can add to the biblical text. Jesus is described as the word of God revealed to humanity, just as the Bible is regarded as the word of God revealed to humanity. On the one hand, Jesus said and did only what the Father was doing. But on the other hand, the life of Jesus applied the message of God the Father to real situations within the real world. Thus, Jesus extended the message of God the Father without contradicting this message. Jesus explains in John 8 that his extension of the message of God is valid because he is from above, while the Jewish religious leaders come from below. Using cognitive language, his starting point is the TMN of a concept of God, while their starting point comes from MMNs of personal authority. Similarly, these essays have been attempting to extend the biblical message by starting from a general theory of personality in Teacher thought. Jesus suggested that the validity of his claim could be tested by examining the results that he achieved. Similarly, I suggest that the validity of the theory of mental symmetry can be tested by looking at the results. Mental symmetry can be used to explain core Christian doctrines, it can be used to analyze entire biblical books, and it leads to a message that resonates with John’s message of incarnation descending from God to earth.

Summarizing, Bible-believing Christians often warn against adding to the message of the Bible, quoting passages such as Revelation 22:18-19: “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book.” This is an accurate warning, because adding human content to Scripture means that more human content has to be eliminated by God through the processes described in the book of Revelation. Going further, everyone adds to the Bible, and every Bible-believing Christian follows a multiplicity of rules that are not directly based upon the Bible. Such adding is inevitable when one attempts to apply a single, finite book to all of human existence. What really matters is how one adds to Scripture. If one pursues pure mysticism, then all content must be added by human experts claiming to speak for God. If one combines mysticism with absolute faith in the Bible, then content will still be added by human experts, but this human content will tend to be limited to specific passages from the Bible that reinforce cultural MMNs, usually pulled out of context in a manner that ignores sequence. In contrast, if one starts with the TMN of a rational God of righteousness, then one will view Scripture as a description of general sequences, as we have been doing in these essays on the Bible, and instead of adding extra human content to the specific verses of the Bible, one will place specific human content within the general sequences of the Bible.


Until now, Jesus has responded to every rejection by extending his message, applying it both more universally and more personally. Why does he change tactics now and pull back to a lesser message? I suggest that this is because he has now finished everything that needs to be accomplished. I mentioned earlier that experiencing rejection forces a person to apply the words of their preaching. Jesus has now applied the words as much as is required.

In order to understand what this means, we will look at how self-image forms within the mind. Several times throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus has made a general statement and then followed this with a statement about himself. We saw this back in chapter 6, where Jesus talked in general terms about bread from heaven, but then claimed in verse 35 that ‘I am the bread of life’. At the end of chapter 8, Jesus made the general statement that ‘Abraham rejoiced to see my day’, and then added the personal claim that ‘before Abraham was born, I am’. Similarly, at the beginning of John 10, Jesus says in general terms that ‘he who enters by the door is a shepherd’ and then follows this with the personal statement that ‘I am the door of the sheep’. A few verses later, his general statement that ‘my Father was given them to me is greater than all’ is followed by ‘I and the Father are one’. Finally, Jesus talks in verse 37 about doing the works of his Father and then makes the personal claim that ‘the Father is in Me and I in the Father’. In each case, a general statement is followed by a personal claim.

As I mentioned earlier, self-image can be defined as the Perceiver facts and Server sequences that I know about myself. Self-image is not what I pretend to be or what I claim to be, but rather what repetition reveals about me. Saying this another way, self-image is related to cognitive ownership. Every person is subject to various inescapable and repeatable influences that define self-image. These influences act as the source of self-image. (Neurologically speaking, identity resides in the orbitofrontal cortex, while self-image is determined by the medial frontal cortex.)

My physical body is one primary source of self-image because it places inescapable, repeatable characteristics and limitations upon me. For instance, jumping over a tall building is not an aspect of a person’s self-image because physical bodies are incapable of performing such feats. But jumping over a small wall is part of the typical person’s self-image because this lies within the bounds of physical capabilities.

Knowledge and skills are another primary source of self-image, which brings us back to the topic of cognitive ownership. For instance, playing violin is part of my personal self-image because I have acquired this skill, and I am able to carry out this skill reliably and repeatedly. I also have knowledge about computers and electronics, which I acquired studying electrical engineering.

Core mental networks provide another primary source of self-image, because they shape behavior at a fundamental, repeatable, inescapable level. It is not possible for a person to continue behaving in a manner that violates core mental networks. The average person is not aware of this aspect of self-image because core mental networks tend to function at an implicit level. Instead, core mental networks usually become consciously apparent when visiting another culture.

Self-image can change over time. Physical abilities change: a child with limited physical power grows into an adult who is bigger and stronger; strong adults become aged and frail. Knowledge and skills form the aspect of self-image that can be changed the most. Core mental networks can also be transformed, but this is not straightforward, and Christianity describes the process by which core mental networks are transformed.

There is one final primary source of self-image that appears to be unalterable: cognitive style and finiteness. For instance, I am a Perceiver person and it appears that I will always be a Perceiver person. I can transform the way that Perceiver thought functions, but I cannot escape or alter my conscious awareness of Perceiver thought. More generally, all humans are finite creatures with a finite awareness. Each cognitive style has a different kind of finite awareness, but every human being, regardless of cognitive style, has a limited, finite awareness of existence. It is in this final source of self-image where the primary difference between humans and Jesus the God-man lies. As the second person of the Trinity, Jesus appears to be a Contributor person. But unlike human Contributor persons, Jesus the incarnation is infinite and not finite.

The childhood cognitive development of Jesus was discussed at the beginning of the essay on the Gospel of John. This section will attempt to look more generally at the cognitive development of Jesus. Jesus was born a baby and then grew to become an adult. As far as his physical body is concerned, Jesus appears to have had a typical human self-image, because he lived in a human body with normal human needs and desires. Hebrews 4:15 says that he was “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin”. Jesus also acquired skills and knowledge. For instance, he must have learned the skill of being a carpenter from his human father. Luke 2:52 says that “Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” (There are apocryphal books that talk about the childhood of Jesus, but I am quite leery of them because they are strongly characterized by cognitive fallacies. The Infancy Gospel of Thomas has a Gnostic flavor, and portrays the child Jesus as a capricious Greek god. The Infancy Gospel of James places an undue emphasis upon the holiness of Mary, the mother of Jesus. One does not find such cognitive fallacies in the canonical books of the Bible.)

It is at the deeper level of core mental networks and innate essence where Jesus appears to be unique. His starting point was unique. Every human grows up controlled by a sin nature based in childish MMNs acquired from living in a physical body. Jesus, in contrast, was controlled by a TMN of God in Teacher thought that guided his actions in Server thought. Stated simply, Jesus-the-man was driven by righteousness in the same manner that the typical human is driven by a sin nature. My hypothesis is that Adam and Eve were originally created with an innate connection to God in Teacher thought that was similar—but also fundamentally different—than the innate relationship that Jesus had to God in Teacher thought. My guess is that Adam and Eve had some sort of generic direct awareness of general theory, which made them naturally receptive to interacting with God, but also made them vulnerable to being mentally hijacked by the serpent’s promise of becoming like God. In contrast, it appears that Jesus had a direct connection to the content of God the Father in Teacher thought. Saying this more simply, while Adam and Eve were capable of interacting directly with any god, Jesus interacted directly with the God. This provides a cognitive angle to Paul’s description of Jesus as ‘the second Adam’ (1 Cor. 15:45).

Going further, Jesus followed a path of cognitive development that was unique. Human cognition goes through Piaget’s stages of cognitive development, starting with concrete Mercy experiences and finally ending up with abstract Teacher thought. Jesus probably went through these stages of cognitive development when growing up as a child. But what is described in John 1-12 is precisely the opposite: starting with abstract Teacher thought and then ending up with concrete Mercy experiences.

Jesus is also unique at the level of fundamental essence. Like a normal human, Jesus was forced to apply his message personally when his words were rejected. But unlike a normal human, the end result was that Jesus came to a universal realization about himself: I am the bread of life; before Abraham was born, I am; I am the door of the sheep; I and the Father are one; the Father is in Me and I in the Father. Instead of recognizing that he was fundamentally a finite human, Jesus recognizes that he is fundamentally infinite God. It appears that reaching this fundamental recognition was the ultimate goal of Jesus living and teaching as a human being. Jesus fully reaches this fundamental recognition in John 10, and when he does, he then softens his message and sets the stage in John 11 and 12 for his physical death.

An infinite being would be like the ultimate massively parallel computer that would be capable of handling all of a general program and its details at once. Thus, God the Father would be aware of a general theory and all of the details and implications of that theory at the same time. In contrast, a finite human mind is only capable of focusing upon some aspect of a general theory, and must gradually construct a general theory one piece at a time, making it possible for humans to slowly form an adequate concept of God. I have often wished that I could dump the entire theory of mental symmetry into someone’s head so that they could see the elegance and beauty of the theory, but this is not possible with humans. (My guess is that seraphim and cherubim have ‘bodies’ that can sense many aspects of a general theory at the same time. This is implied by Ezekiel 10:12, which says that “Their whole body, their backs, their hands, their wings and the wheels were full of eyes all around”. This would also explain why God the Father appears in the company of cherubim in the Old Testament. A human can tolerate a theory with internal contradictions by focusing upon part of the theory at a time. God as an infinite being would find such inconsistencies intolerable. Similarly, cherubim would also find inconsistencies physically painful.)

As a Perceiver person, I am very aware of self-image, and my self-image has also been transformed at a fundamental level. Like all humans, my self-image has matured as a result of physical growth and the acquisition of knowledge and skills. But because I have spent so much time developing a general theory of human thought, a small part of my self-image involves a general understanding in Teacher thought that applies to personal identity. Therefore, when Jesus says ‘he called them gods to whom the word of God came’, I think I know from personal experience what this means. The word of God has come to me to the extent of creating a fragment of identity that is godlike, because this fragment deals with universal concepts about humanity. But I never feel that I am Godlike (with a capital ‘G’) because my mental concept of God is far larger and far more extensive than any fragment of personal identity that feels godlike (with a small ‘g’). For instance, when it comes to math and physics, I may be reasonably competent, but my knowledge feels very limited and not in the least godlike—and in most other areas I do not even feel competent. This small fragment of godlike identity exists within a much, much larger framework of a concept of God, and it only feels godlike because my concept of God regards it as such. This leads to a sense of deep responsibility and not to delusions of personal grandeur. Paul describes something similar when discussing what it means to be an apostle in 1 Corinthians 9.

Going further, whenever I think about godlike identity, this is immediately followed by a deep awareness of my fundamental essence: I am not infinite, but rather have very limited, finite awareness. Constructing a tiny fragment of godlike identity has taken most of my lifetime. Therefore, my gut reaction is to regard the mystical assertion that ‘I am God’ as utterly absurd, because my entire life experience screams that this is impossible. In contrast, when Jesus reaches the level of thinking about godlike identity, this is immediately followed by a knowledge of divine fundamental essence: Jesus realizes that he is God and that he has unlimited, infinite awareness.

Putting this all together, I suggest that the cognitive development of Jesus-as-man can be divided into three stages:

Birth-12: During childhood, Jesus was implicitly aware of being the second person of the Trinity. The mind of Jesus was driven to behave in a righteous manner and follow the will of God the Father, similar to the way that a normal human mind is driven to follow childish MMNs of idolatry and hedonism. During this period, the mind of Jesus went through Piaget’s stages of cognitive development, modified by the fact that Jesus was driven by righteousness rather than by physical sensation.

12-30: During adulthood, Jesus was consciously aware of being the second person of the Trinity. The mind of Jesus continued to be driven to behave in a righteous manner—to ‘be about his Father’s business’. Scripture tells us nothing about this period of time. Presumably, Jesus learned and practiced the trade of carpenter as an observant Jew, because the core of Judaism is righteousness—doing the instructions that God the Father gave to Moses on Mount Sinai.

30-33: During ministry, Jesus became aware of being the second person of the Trinity at the level of core mental networks. As before, Jesus was still driven to behave righteously; he still did only what he saw the Father doing. But when Jesus made universal statements regarding the nature of God, then this was followed by Jesus personally claiming to be that universal statement. This is when Jesus-as-man became emotionally and personally connected with Jesus-as-God.

A similar cognitive process often happens when a person emigrates to another country. The first stage is one of basic survival. During this period, the primary task is acquiring the skills and knowledge that are needed to live in the new country. During the second stage, one can step back and be consciously aware of being a new citizen of a new country. The final stage is to become internally integrated by reconnecting emotionally with one’s previous identity, which often involves visiting the country from which one emigrated.

The Anointing of Jesus 12:1-8

Chapter 11 opens by referring to an event that occurs in chapter 12: “Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick” (v.1-2). There is some controversy over whether Jesus was anointed once or twice and when this exactly occurred. We will ignore this question and assume that the anointing of Jesus is mentioned in John 11 and described in John 12 because it is cognitively significant. Mark 14:9 says that “wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her”, telling us that the anointing of Jesus has universal symbolical importance.

Our analysis will also skip ahead to the beginning of chapter 12 before returning to Chapter 11. Chapter 12 opens with Mary anointing the feet of Jesus with perfume: “Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (v.3).

Looking at this symbolically, I have suggested in a previous essay that hair symbolizes intuitive thought, which is guided by mental networks rather than by logical reasoning. Going further, smell is a way of directly triggering mental networks, and feet appear to represent either mental networks or Mercy thought and Teacher thought in general. Physically speaking, a person stands on their feet and walks by shifting weight from one foot to another. Similarly, personal identity rests internally upon mental networks within Mercy and Teacher thought, and one walks cognitively by shifting one’s emotional weight between Teacher and Mercy thought. Thus, the anointing of Jesus is referring symbolically to the use of mental networks.

Jesus adds in verse 7 that she has done this for his burial: “Jesus said, ‘Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial.’” Mary, a woman, is anointing Jesus, a man. Interpreting this cognitively, female thought emphasizes mental networks and emotions, while incarnation is based upon technical thought, which is an expression of male thought. Thus, incarnation is being anointed by mental networks.

Technical thought excels at improving or optimizing within some limited context, but finds it difficult to move from one context to another. Jesus the incarnation is about to experience a major paradigm shift. The pain and confusion of shifting from one context to another can be reduced if one is guided emotionally by an intuitive understanding during the period of transition. In other words, the mental network of an intuitive understanding can help technical thought make the leap from one context to another. Using symbolic language, the hair of female intuition combined with the aroma of a general mental network can anoint the feet of incarnation in preparation for the burial of going from one paradigm to another.

Mary uses ‘very costly perfume of pure nard’. The word costly means ‘of great value, very precious’. Nard is ‘spikenard, a perfume made originally from a plant growing on the Himalayas’. I have suggested that a mountain represents the big picture of a Teacher understanding. It is interesting to note that Nard, or spikenard, comes from plants that grow on the highest mountains on earth. Similarly, John says that ‘the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume’, indicating the universal nature of this anointing. Thus, Mary is not anointing Jesus with the MMN of some isolated emotional experience, but rather with a mental network of Teacher generality that extends to the entire house of subjective identity within Mercy thought. In other words, like incarnation, this mental network includes both Teacher understanding and Mercy identity. This mental network is not just of value, but of great value. The concept of cognitive ownership was introduced when looking at John 10. A mental network of great value expresses the female, intuitive side of cognitive ownership. This essay has pointed out numerous times the inadequacies of childish MMNs. What is being described here is the kind of mental network that emerges at the end of personal transformation, something of deep quality and value.

For instance, I have come to view the theory of mental symmetry as a form of anointing Jesus for burial. Religious concepts of Jesus the incarnation are dying as the stones of absolute truth become dismantled, while the partial expression of incarnation that is found in objective science is being threatened by the nihilism of deconstructionism and the blind faith of neo-fundamentalism—the insanity of the left and the insanity of the right. As Matthew 24 and Revelation 11 describe, incarnation will eventually return in resurrected power, but an anointing based in core mental networks is needed to help bridge this gap. Using another biblical analogy, an ark is needed to help mental networks of life to survive the rising flood of belligerent stupidity.

Mary’s anointing of Jesus annoys Judas Iscariot: “But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, ‘Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?’” (v.4). I have mentioned that belief in absolute truth leads naturally to feelings of self-denial. Charity for the poor is a cheap way of making it appear that one is practicing self-denial. It costs money, but there is very little personal cost. One can tell that Judas thinks in terms of peripheral monetary value, because he describes the financial value of the ointment and talks about giving to the poor. Verse 6 explicitly states that Judas himself is motivated by personal gain and not being driven by any feelings of self-denial: “Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it” (v.6). The word thief is the same word that was used in John 10:10 when saying that ‘the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy’, and ‘not concerned about’ is the same Greek phrase that was used in John 10:13 when saying that the hired hand is ‘not concerned about the sheep’. The word translated pilfer actually means to ‘carry, bear, carry away’, and is not translated as pilfer anywhere else in the New Testament. Thus, the emphasis appears to be not upon Judas stealing money, but rather upon Judas thinking in terms of monetary value.

We interpreted John 10 from the viewpoint of acquiring understanding. One can also interpret the pilfering of Judas from this perspective. The thief steals knowledge by acquiring information without paying the personal cost that is required to gain cognitive ownership of this information. When someone else acquires information at great personal cost, as illustrated by the perfume of Mary, then the thief sees this as an opportunity for pilfering. The thief will portray this in positive terms by describing it as ‘giving to the poor’, putting on a cloak of personal self-denial. However, self-denial is by its very nature a cheapening of cognitive ownership. That is because self-denial suppresses childish MMNs, indicating that it is still thinking in terms of childish MMNs. Cognitive ownership, in contrast, takes the perspective of value, telling us that it is thinking in terms of transformed MMNs. Similarly, selling the perfume and giving to the poor is inherently a cheapening of cognitive ownership, because it replaces what one is with what one has, turning core value into peripheral value. I am not suggesting that it is wrong to give to the poor. However, I am suggesting that it is wrong to give to the poor as a substitute for personal transformation.

The anointing of Mary is often portrayed as an extravagant act of selfless devotion for Jesus, an abandoning of any feeling of cost or benefit. However, Jesus’ response to Judas indicates something different: “Therefore Jesus said, ‘Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial’” (v.7). Jesus does not respond with great hallelujahs. Instead, he tells Judas to leave her alone. Extravagance requires hype. Great value, in contrast, simply needs to be permitted to do its own thing. Jesus does not celebrate Mary’s act as inappropriate extravagance. Instead, he points out the appropriateness of her anointing. She has not done it for nothing, but rather to prepare for the burial of incarnation. (The word translated burial means ‘embalming, preparation of a body for burial’.) Finally, Jesus does not say that Mary has squandered a bottle of perfume. Instead, he describes her act as keeping, which means ‘maintain, preserve, spiritually guard, keep intact’. Keeping is precisely the opposite of squandering. Thus, while breaking an entire bottle of costly perfume over someone’s feet may be literally an extravagant act that abandons any concept of cost, Jesus portrays this incident as something far more meaningful and lasting. Consistent with this, Jesus says in both the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Matthew that “Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her” (Matt. 26:13).

Mary and Martha 11:1-2

Mary’s anointing of Jesus does not occur in a vacuum. Instead, in Chapter 11, Jesus performs an act of rebirth that will help Mary to anoint the feet of Jesus with an intuitive understanding of rebirth in chapter 12. One can decipher what is happening cognitively by looking at the meanings of the various names. The incident happens in Bethany, which means ‘house of affliction’, just outside of Jerusalem. Thus, one is dealing with some sort of suffering or hardship within a general context of religion. A religious mindset is required to get people to think beyond the purely material while the hardship drives individuals to look beyond the material for something better in the unseen. Lazarus and his two sisters Mary and Martha lived in Bethany. Lazarus means ‘God has helped’, suggesting a mindset that is responding to hardship by looking for help from God. Martha means ‘mistress’, which is how one refers to the lady who is in charge of a house. Martha’s focus upon performing household duties is portrayed in Luke 10: “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’” (Luke 10:38-40). As many sermons have pointed out, Martha invites Jesus and prepares the meal, Mary sits down and listens to Jesus, and Martha responds by asking Jesus to tell Mary to help.

The name Mary has a double meaning. It is an old name. The first Mary mentioned in the Bible is Miriam the sister of Moses. In Egyptian, Mary means love or beloved, while in Hebrew it means bitterness or rebellion. If Egypt is a symbol of the world, then Mary represents the worldly loves that one leaves behind when following Christianity. One looks back on these childish loves from the viewpoint of maturity and sees them either as rebellion against God or else feels bitter that one is no longer permitted to enjoy them. This attitude of treasuring ‘the good old times’ can be seen in Luke 2. I know that Mary the mother of Jesus is a different person than Mary the sister of Lazarus (and there is not enough scriptural description to determine the cognitive style of either of these Marys with certainty), but I am assuming that there is a coherence to the underlying symbolism. After Mary the mother of Jesus experiences the visit of the shepherds with their amazing story of seeing angels, Luke relates that “Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

Looking at this cognitively, the childish mind pursues MMNs based in emotional experiences in an idolatrous fashion, while the mature mind is motivated by Platonic forms that are based in Teacher understanding. How can a person be driven by Platonic forms when understanding is inadequate? The answer can be found in the name of Mary. Suppose that a person has pleasant experiences from the external world and they stop. All that is left now is the memory of good experiences. Going further, suppose that one treasures these pleasant memories and ponders them in one’s heart. One will now remember the past through rose-colored glasses, because the mind will be guided by Teacher emotion to remember the ideal essence of the past. Childish infatuation has now been turned into Platonic forms. This happens normally to every person when growing up. Childhood and youth are periods of innocent infatuation, which are followed by growing older and wiser. What remains for most people is a memory of the past, seen through rose-colored glasses. One can either pine for what has been lost, as did most of the Israelites in the wilderness, or else one can ponder the past and try to re-create the best from the past.

For instance, I grew up in the 1970s, during the hippie period with its motto of ‘make love not war’. This was a time of hedonistic love, bitterness against authority, and rebellion from restrictions. The TV shows from this era tend to be vacuous fluff, but this was also one of the few times in history when society as a whole has been guided by the positive goal of pursuing love rather than war. As an obedient Mennonite child, I never participated in the excesses of the time, but I still ponder and treasure the general attitude of a non-commercialized, uncynical pursuit of pleasure (while conveniently forgetting the leisure suits and plethora of polyester).

Jesus loves Lazarus 11:3-16

Now that we have examined Mary’s anointing of Jesus, let us return to the story of Lazarus in John 11. Lazarus is sick and his sisters ask Jesus for help: “So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, ‘Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick’” (v.3). One of the recurring themes of the Gospel of John has been the deep emotional incompatibilities between Jesus and his audience. Here we see something totally different, because the sisters refer to Lazarus as ‘he whom you love’. And this is not a mistaken assumption because verse 5 specifically states that “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” In verse 3, Mary and Martha use the verb phileo for love, while in verse 5 the verb agape is used. The implication is that Jesus is going to show his friends a higher form of love, going beyond phileo to agape.

Related to this, one also finds a new characteristic of Jesus emerging in Chapter 11, which is emotion. Until now, the people around Jesus may have emoted, but Jesus has consistently portrayed an attitude of calm confidence. This changes in Chapter 11. Looking at this cognitively, I have suggested several times that Jesus was naturally driven to perform Server actions that reflected a Teacher understanding of God. One can see the type of emotional stability that this produces by observing the typical Server person. Unlike the typical Mercy person, the Server person does not have mood swings, but rather tends to be characterized by an unchanging calm and pleasant demeanor. In chapter 11, one gains the impression that Mercy emotions are coming alive within the mind of Jesus, and one major reason for this is that the story involves people whom Jesus loves.

Jesus begins by focusing, as usual, upon the Teacher perspective: “When Jesus heard this, He said, ‘This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it’” (v.4). Looking at the sickness of Lazarus symbolically, God may have helped in the past, but this mindset is not well, implying that people are starting to doubt that God really helps. Jesus responds by saying that he does not want this hope to die. Instead, the process of incarnation descending from God has now reached the point where it is possible to replace the Platonic forms of ‘trying to re-create the best from the past’ with something better.

A similar transition occurred in Europe after the scientific revolution. For many centuries, Europeans had looked back at the technological achievements of the Roman civilization and longed to re-create the lost wonders of the past. However, modern science and technology eventually reached the point where it was possible to go beyond re-creating the past to building a better future.

Returning to the story of Lazarus, “when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was” (v.6). Thus, Jesus ensures that Lazarus will be dead by the time he arrives. On the surface, the response of Jesus seems rather strange. First, Jesus says that ‘the sickness is not to end in death’, then we are told that Jesus loves Lazarus, and then Jesus delays his arrival by two more days to make sure that the sickness does end in death. I suggest that we can make sense of this response by thinking in terms of mental networks. I have mentioned numerous times that behavior will only be motivated by a TMN of God if it is not motivated by lesser mental networks. Therefore, if Jesus is to bring glory to God, then a lesser solution must no longer be possible. Thus, Jesus delays his response in order to ensure that resurrection from God is the only option. Saying this another way, if God steps in with a higher solution while lesser solutions are still possible, the mental result will be mixed motives. If lesser solutions are no longer possible, then there will be purity of heart, making it possible to follow God with all of one’s being. Similarly, one of the Beatitudes states that “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). Resurrection is also the ultimate personal miracle, and Jesus knows that he will become emotionally involved. Therefore, he chooses to perform this miracle upon a family whom he loves—friends with whom he is willing to become emotionally connected.

Following God is never an isolated incident, because a concept of God is based in general principles that apply to many situations. Thus, the resurrection of Lazarus occurs within a general context of following God despite the threat of death: “Then after this He said to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again.’ The disciples said to Him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?’ Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him’” (v.7-10). Jesus begins by returning to Jerusalem, deliberately placing himself within the context of threatened personal MMNs.

The general principle is that if one wants God to help others in some area of need, that one must personally enter into that need as well. This does not mean that one has to experience the same suffering as those that one is trying to help. That is because the laws of God are general laws that can be expressed in many different specific ways. However, one must still experience the kind of need that one is trying to help; one must embody the law of God in some manner.

For instance, a Third Culture Kid is someone who grows up in a culture that is different than the culture of their parents. Obviously, a Brazilian TCK who grows up in Japan will have different cultural experiences than an American TCK growing up in Nigeria. But such TCKs will find friendship in one other because they share the common bond of trying to live in two cultures at once. TCKs illustrate what it means to empathize with others at a general level.

Jesus emphasizes that he is being guided by the light of Teacher understanding, and that this understanding will prevent him from stumbling. The general principle is that entering into someone’s need must be done intelligently. If one lacks the light of a TMN, then one will be driven by the MMNs of need that one is attempting to help and end up stumbling in the dark. The primary motivation must always remain following God in Teacher thought and not identifying with the needy in Mercy thought. As we will see in the next few verses, Jesus does become emotionally influenced by the MMNs of need, but he does not stumble because he has the TMN of a light of understanding to guide him.

Jesus starts by focusing upon his plan while emotionally minimizing the MMN of need: “After that He said to them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep’” (v.11). Jesus says that Lazarus has not died, but rather merely fallen asleep. However, if the full emotional extent of the need is not recognized, then there is no need to ask for help from God: “The disciples then said to Him, ‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover’” (v.12). Jesus has deliberately delayed his return in order to ensure that resurrection is the only option. But ensuring a physical need is not enough. One must also emotionally acknowledge the need in order to ensure that one gains the internal attention of the TMN of God.

When Jesus realizes that his disciples misunderstood him, he then acknowledges the emotional need plainly: “Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. So Jesus then said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead’” (v.13-14). But even here the focus is not upon entering into the sufferings of the needy but rather upon spreading an understanding of God: “I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe” (v.15). Thomas, in contrast, makes the mistake of entering into the suffering: “Therefore Thomas, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us also go, so that we may die with Him’” (v.16). That is because Thomas is starting with the assumption that everyone will die. For him the MMN of need is stronger than any TMN of God, therefore he can only choose mentally between staying away or identifying with the need.

Looking at this cognitively, I have mentioned that technical thought excels at making improvements within some context, while finding it difficult to move from one context to another. Jesus is obviously optimizing the situation in the light of some goal, because he postpones his help of Lazarus in order to maximize the impact. But Jesus’ comments regarding Lazarus being asleep indicate that Jesus is viewing this event as making improvements within a context and not as moving from one context to another. In addition, the focus of Jesus is upon optimizing the impact that his plan will have upon others. We saw when looking at the anointing of Mary that technical thought needs help moving from one paradigm to another. We see here that Jesus is cognitively stretching forward from his current paradigm. We will return to this concept later when looking at the relationship between God-the-Son and God-the-Father.

Jesus Arrives at Bethany 11:17-37

The story then shifts to the arrival of Jesus at the village of Martha and Mary. Lazarus has been in the tomb for four days (v.17). Reviewing the various names, Bethany means ‘house of affliction’, Lazarus means ‘God has helped’, Martha is the title given to the lady of the house, while Mary has the double meaning of ‘beloved’ in Egyptian and ‘rebellion or bitterness’ in Hebrew.

The belief that God will help is now dead and buried, and the responses of Martha and Mary reflect this death of hope. A God of help has been replaced by a God of consolation: “many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother” (v.19). Consolation means ‘cheering someone up by soothing speech with a personal touch’. Jesus is being guided by a TMN of understanding the plan of God to enter into MMNs of need. In contrast, the Jews are no longer thinking in terms of a TMN of God helping needy MMNs, but rather are using Teacher thought with its words to bring emotional comfort to hurting MMNs. Given this emotional context, it would be easy for Jesus to emotionally stumble if his light of Teacher understanding were inadequate. Similarly, I have learned from personal experience that it is difficult to hold on to a TMN of understanding when one is surrounded by an atmosphere that is focusing upon MMNs of need which has lost hope in the efficacy of Teacher understanding.

Martha is the first to go out to meet Jesus. She focuses upon both the past and the present: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give you” (v.21-22). Jesus responds by trying to impose the TMN of God’s plan: “Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again’” (v.23). Martha responds by asserting this TMN in a general manner that does not apply to the MMNs of the current situation: “Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day’” (v.24).

Jesus, in the incarnational manner that we have seen previously, follows this general statement with an assertion of personal identity: “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die’” (v.25-26). In John 5, Jesus talked about a resurrection of life and a resurrection of judgment, but he did not claim personally to be the resurrection and the life. Jesus talked in John 10 about having the authority to lay down his life in order to take it up again, but he describes this as a commandment received from his father. Here, Jesus makes the personal claim of being the resurrection and the life.

Jesus then asks Martha, “Do you believe this?” (v.26). Again, she responds by giving a theological response: “Yes Lord, I have believed that you are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world” (v.27). This response of Martha may be inadequate, but Jesus has succeeded in turning the attention away from the MMNs of need to the TMN of God. Martha has acknowledged in theoretical terms that Lazarus will rise again at some time in the future. And she has also acknowledged that Jesus comes from God to the world. This is a significant acknowledgment, because it summarizes the entire theme of John 1-12.

Now that the theological context has been established within the mind of Martha, it is time to add the personal emotions of Mary: “When she had said this, she went away and called Mary her sister, saying secretly, ‘The Teacher is here and is calling for you’” (v.28). Martha refers to Jesus as ‘the teacher’, indicating that she is now thinking in terms of Teacher understanding. And she says that the teacher is calling for Mary, telling us that Teacher understanding wants to extend to the current situation of need. Martha does this secretly or privately, in order to ensure that the MMNs of the current context do not disturb what is happening cognitively.

Until now, Mary has been sitting in the house (v.20). Previously, Martha went out to meet Jesus. Mary, in contrast, ‘got up quickly’ (v.29), indicating a more emotional and less measured response. The people who surround Mary assume that she is still fixating upon needy MMNs: “Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and consoling her, when they saw that Mary got up quickly and went out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there” (v.31). Instead, Mary complains to Jesus about what has been lost: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (v.32). I suggested previously that the name Mary symbolizes the pleasures that one loses when following God (which become transformed into Platonic forms, if one thinks about these lost pleasures in the light of Teacher understanding). One can see this in Mary’s instinctive response: ‘Look what I lost because you did not arrive in time’. Martha and Mary’s statements of personal loss are the same in Greek, but the word order is slightly different. Martha says literally ‘would have died the brother of me’, while Mary says ‘of me would have died the brother’, implying that Martha is thinking more of her brother, while Mary is focusing upon the personal emotion of loss.

Jesus’ response is striking because until now Jesus has been consistently portrayed as someone who is calmly in control of the situation. But when Jesus sees Mary weeping, he is ‘deeply moved in spirit’, emotionally agitated, and weeps tears. Anyone who knows the male Contributor person will recognize that this is an unusual response. The typical male Contributor person does not lose control over his emotions, because that is usually seen as a sign of defeat. But the male Contributor can also discover his heart, and this can be such an enlightening encounter that it turns into a religious experience. It is interesting that the emotion of Jesus starts internally with his spirit and then extends to physical tears. In verse 33, he is ‘moved in spirit and troubled’. He responds by moving to the physical location of death, saying “‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to Him, ‘Lord, come and see’” (v.34). He then response with physical weeping (v.35).

Looking at this cognitively, the human mind acquires MMNs directly from the physical body through personal experiences. Jesus is not a normal human being, because he is mentally rooted in a concept of God in Teacher thought. Teacher thought extends to Mercy thought through Platonic forms, because Platonic forms are imaginary pictures based in Teacher understanding. Jesus cannot descend to the level of childish MMNs, because Jesus is sinless. Therefore, if Jesus is to grasp human emotion, then Jesus has to meet humanity at the level of Platonic forms. I mentioned previously when discussing the name of Mary that childish MMNs can be turned into Platonic forms if one has good experiences and then no longer experiences them, because one will view the lost past through rose-colored glasses. Jesus is encountering human emotion here by coming into contact with the Platonic forms of human loss. That is why he is first moved in spirit and then weeps.

The people around Jesus view his emotional response from a Mercy perspective: “So the Jews were saying, ‘See how He loved him!’ But some of them said, ‘Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?’” (v.36-37). Notice that the focus is upon MMNs of personal attachment, which are being described in the past tense. Notice also the reference to the opening of the eyes of the blind. We interpreted that miracle in terms of interdisciplinary thought.

Continuing with that interpretation, I suggest that interdisciplinary research is an example of Lazarus: ‘God has helped’. Looking at this in more detail, the specializations of various disciplines are being bridged by Perceiver connections and Teacher understanding. However, the fundamental mindset is still based in the various specializations of technical thought. In contrast, the Bible talks about shalom or wholeness. This views integration as the central core, and specializations as various aspects that add details to wholeness. If one is to move beyond interdisciplinary thought to wholeness, then Lazarus must die and be brought back to life ‘for the glory of God’. Saying this another way, we have mentioned numerous times that incarnation extends technical thought to include the TMN of a concept of God as well as MMNs of personal identity. But notice that technical thought is still doing the extending, while Teacher understanding and Mercy identity are secondary partners. It is now time for technical thought to lose control to God in Teacher thought and be personally moved by humanity in Mercy thought. The goal is not to destroy incarnation, but rather to bring it back to life in a much more powerful form. (Looking ahead, John 16 appears to be describing this same transition happening at a societal level. More generally, God-the-Father makes it possible for God-the-Son to move beyond the current paradigm, as illustrated by Jesus submitting to the will of the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane.)

Resurrection of Lazarus 11:38-46

Returning to the story of Lazarus, Jesus arrives at the tomb: “So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it” (v.38). In verse 33, Jesus was deeply moved in spirit and troubled in himself. Here, he is deeply moved in himself. Troubled means ‘to agitate back and forth, shake to and fro’, while deeply moved means to ‘snort like an angry horse’, a ‘deep feeling that is moved to sternly admonish’. Troubled implies that existing core mental networks are being disturbed, while deeply moved suggests that core mental networks are being driven to express themselves in some verbal fashion. In verse 33, Jesus is only being moved in his spirit, while in verse 38 this moving has extended to his entire inner being.

The tomb is described as a cave with a stone in front of it, which was fairly common during that time. Symbolically speaking, a cave is a pocket of air surrounded by solid rock. In other words, when some MMN of culture or identity dies, it is surrounded by the air of some Teacher thought, and then placed within the rock of solid historical fact. Finally, it is separated from current reality by a stone of facts. Saying this more simply, one thinks about what one has lost, one recognizes that it is now in the past and gone, and then one stops thinking about the past and starts living in the present.

Jesus orders the stone to be removed, and Martha complains that this will lead to a stink: “Jesus said, ‘Remove the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, ‘Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days’” (v.39). Remember that smell relates to mental networks. Looking at this symbolically, when incarnation steps in to transform a situation, then the first step usually involves facing the problem, which will uncover a nasty odor of deeply hurting mental networks. It is interesting that Martha makes this complaint, implying that Martha’s focus upon theology and righteousness is being used as an emotional escape mechanism to avoid the pain of personal loss. In other words, Martha is focusing upon Teacher emotions in order to avoid facing painful Mercy emotions. Jesus responds by reminding Martha that a TMN of God should extend beyond abstract understanding to affect physical reality: “Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’” (v.40).

I suggest that one is looking here at the symbolic difference between Esau and Jacob. I mentioned earlier that God describes himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Abraham leaves the childish MMNs of Ur, Isaac finds pleasure in the TMNs of God (the name Isaac means ‘he will laugh’), while Jacob returns to Mercy experience by wrestling with the angel of God for an inheritance. Esau, in contrast, despised his inheritance, and the descendents of Esau lived symbolically among the rocks and wilderness of abstract thought. Jesus is telling Martha to follow the path of Jacob rather than the path of Esau. Martha chooses to face the painful situation: “So they removed the stone” (v.41).

Jesus begins by emphasizing his continuing personal connection with the TMN of God: “Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me’” (v. 41-42). He then says that his goal is to convince those around him that he has come from God in Teacher thought: “but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me” (v.42). Jesus then calls Lazarus to come forth: “When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth’” (v.43).

Looking at this literally, Jesus is going to try to convince his audience one last time then he is based in a TMN of God rather than in MMNs of human identity and culture. He will do this by using words to transform personal MMNs in the most dramatic way possible: raising a person from the dead. Looking at this symbolically, Jesus is going to transform the concept of ‘God has helped’. Until now, God has been viewed as a servant of humanity who assists humanity. We first saw this back in John 2 at the wedding in Cana: Human MMNs are in charge, while the TMN of God is the servant. Now that the concept of ‘God has helped’ has died, it will be brought back to life with the TMN of God in charge. This too is an aspect of Jesus showing the people around him that incarnation descends from God in Teacher thought.

Lazarus emerges from the tomb wrapped in grave clothes, which now need to be unwrapped: “The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go’” (v.44). Clothing represents the MMNs of personal culture—the ‘fabric’ of personal interaction. We saw in chapter 9 that the Jews have a mindset of death, assuming that the natural cycle of life followed by death is absolute. Jesus has just shattered this fundamental mental network, which means that existing personal mental networks have to be rethought. This is symbolized by the loosing of the cloths that have bound Lazarus.

The Jews respond in one of two ways: “Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them the things which Jesus had done” (v.45-46). Notice that Mary is mentioned and not Martha. One is dealing here with two sources of truth: what is right, versus who is right. What is right involves reality. Jesus has shown that God is capable of helping people at the deepest level of personal physical existence, by restoring that which has been lost. Who is right involves experts with personal status. The Pharisees are regarded as the ultimate source of religious truth. In simple terms, what is more important, being physically resurrected or receiving the approval of religious experts?

God and Righteousness

Before continuing, I would like to look briefly at the emotional involvement of Jesus. I have found that following a path of righteousness typically involves two stages: First, I choose to do some Server action that applies my Teacher understanding. Second, something happens to me that gives me the opportunity to apply my Teacher understanding. The first is an expression of free will: I choose the situation. The second is an expression of divine Providence: I am placed within a situation. This same transition can be seen in the story of Lazarus. In chapter 10, Jesus talked in an abstract manner about laying down his life for the sheep in obedience to the Father. In Chapter 11, the story of Lazarus begins with Jesus choosing to act in a manner that expresses the full extent of incarnation coming down from God to man. As Jesus is performing this act, his personal emotions get triggered. But that is not the end, because Jesus is about to be placed into the situation of ‘laying down his life for the sheep’.

First, Jesus carries out a plan of rebirth. Second, Jesus himself is placed within a plan of rebirth. Using cognitive language, righteous action adds content to Teacher understanding, making it possible for Teacher thought to generalize the righteous action. Saying this another way, if one follows the path of righteousness to the point of rebirth, then the resulting concept of God can push a person through rebirth. This interaction between incarnation and God the Father is described further in 1 Corinthians 15.

This concept raises an important theological issue that needs to be clarified. God could act by himself in an arbitrary manner without waiting for humans (or other created beings) to act first. But this would not result in a mindset of righteousness. From the divine vantage point, righteousness allows finite creatures to coexist with the infinite God. The underlying problem is not that God lacks power, but rather that God has too much power. An open display of the power of God would be like a village of flimsy huts encountering a hurricane. All human content would be destroyed. However, if God acts in a righteous manner, preceding every divine act in Teacher thought with some human action, then this ensures that the force of the wind is never stronger than the strength of the huts, making it possible for God to interact with humanity in a manner that does not overwhelm humanity.

Paul describes the various elements of this principle in Ephesians 3: “I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever” (Ephesians 3:14-21). Paul begins by acknowledging that every name has its ultimate source in God the Father, showing that God is the ultimate source of all creation. But God’s goal is not to overwhelm humanity but rather to strengthen them internally through God the Spirit, as well as giving them internal stability through faith in God the Son. Using the analogy of the village hut, Paul recognizes the power of the divine wind but says that the goal is to strengthen the integrity of the village huts. Continuing with Ephesians, this process of internal growth and strengthening is supposed to continue until people acquire an internal concept of God that includes all of the various dimensions of the real God. Paul then points out the two aspects of divine righteousness. On the one hand, God can ‘do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think’, but on the other hand, this divine activity is ‘according to the power that works within us’. In other words, the divine wind is being limited by the strength of the huts. Paul concludes by stating that this is an eternal principle.

I should clarify that God works with society at the group level by manipulating implicit core mental networks. Using the hut analogy, there is no guarantee that all of the huts will always remain standing. Instead, the guarantee appears to be that the village as a whole will never be destroyed. This is illustrated by the Jewish doctrine of the remnant. God never promises in the Old Testament that every Jew will be preserved. But God does promise that the Jewish people as a whole will survive.

The Religious Leaders’ Response 11:47-53

Returning now to the story of Lazarus, notice the interplay between Mary’s anointing of Jesus, Jesus’ raising of Lazarus, and Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus raises Lazarus as an expression of his existing plan—but he gets emotionally involved, because this plan is touching deep experiences of personal loss. The resurrection of Lazarus creates the context for Mary’s anointing of Jesus, because Mary’s pain of losing the past has been transformed into a hope for the future. And Mary’s anointing provides an intuitive emotional covering that lessens the pain of Jesus going through the major personal paradigm shift of death and resurrection.

There is also an interplay between the plan of Jesus, the reaction of the religious leaders, and the sovereignty of God the Father. This is described in the remaining verses of chapter 11. We have talked about a mindset that is based upon Mercy status. The religious leaders have gone two steps further: First, they have acquired personal Mercy status. Second, they are responsible for maintaining the Teacher order-within-complexity of the Jewish nation. Thus, they view Jesus as a personal threat who will take away their status in Mercy thought and remove their power in Teacher thought: “If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation” (v.48). So, they decide that Jesus needs to be killed, and conclude in the next chapter that Lazarus needs to be killed as well (12:10). Killing the messenger is a standard response taken by those who think that everything is based in MMNs of personal importance, and killing the messenger also assumes the finality of death.

The insanity of this response is breathtaking, and can be conveyed by using an analogy. Suppose that I and all my neighbors are dying of an incurable disease. Now suppose that we decide to play a game. Suppose further that one of the players of this game comes up with a cure for the incurable disease and demonstrates this solution by curing a fellow player. The rational response would be to immediately stop playing the game in order to learn how one could be cured of the incurable disease. After all, a player who dies can no longer play the game. Jesus has come up with a cure for the incurable disease of death and has demonstrated this solution by raising Lazarus from the dead. The religious leaders decide that winning the game is more important than staying alive, even though someone who is not alive cannot play any games, and so they respond by deciding to kill both Jesus and Lazarus.

I suggest that there is a cognitive reason for this insanity. A person can only become personally transformed by playing one set of core mental networks against another. Saying this another way, conflicting mental networks enable free will. For instance, my general hypothesis is that the path of personal transformation can be divided into three stages: The first stage of personal transformation builds the TMN of a concept of God, the second stage of righteousness allows this TMN to guide personal behavior, while in the third stage MMNs of personal identity fall apart and put back together by the TMN of God. One can only experience rebirth to the extent that one has constructed a concept of God.

Instead of submitting to mental networks, the religious leaders have become the source of mental networks. And instead of building the TMN of a concept of God, the religious leaders have constructed TMNs of national power based upon MMNs of personal status. Thus, they have become emotionally incapable of change, even when their thinking leads them along the path of literally breath taking insanity. Thomas Kuhn says that the average scientist is incapable of making a paradigm change and that new scientific theories replace old ones as old scientists die off and are replaced by younger scientists. Similarly, I have found that academic scholars become mentally imprisoned by their paradigms, especially when they gain status and tenure. In other words, when the religious leaders became blind in John 9, they really became blind, to the extent of pursuing death when being shown the possibility of resurrection life. The Jews accused Jesus of being demon-possessed in John 10. But a person who chooses to win the game of power rather than be cured of the incurable disease of death can only be described as demon-possessed. According to the standard of accepted religious authority, Jesus is insane. But according to the standard of reality, it is the religious authorities who are insane.

John 12:42 explains that some of the leaders did secretly believe in Jesus, which tells us that some of the religious leaders were convinced by physical evidence and not blinded by status and power. However, verse 43 adds that they believed in secret because ‘they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God’, telling us that their minds were still being ruled by MMNs of personal status.

God the Father and Promotion

We have examined the plan of Jesus as well as the response of the religious leaders. Let us turn now to the sovereignty of God the Father. My general hypothesis is that God the Father is associated with Teacher thought and that a concept of God emerges when a sufficiently general theory in Teacher thought applies to personal identity. A general theory exhibits order-within-complexity; it is a simple statement that is capable of summarizing many specific situations.

Teacher thought comes up with a general theory by taking an existing element and promoting it. For instance, Einstein, a Teacher person, came up with the theory of special relativity by taking the fact that light moves at a constant velocity and treating this as a universal statement that literally shapes all of existence. A concept of God is a general theory that applies to people. Therefore, a concept of God will form general theories by promoting people. This principle is specifically applied to God and incarnation in Philippians 2:5-11, which says that God promoted Jesus both verbally and personally because Jesus followed the process of descending as incarnation from God to death by crucifixion. And Paul begins this description in verse 5 by saying that Jesus set a pattern that needs to be followed.

We have seen that the Gospel of John describes the path by which incarnation descends from God the Father in Teacher thought to personal identity in Mercy thought. In John 11, Jesus performs the ultimate expression of incarnation by raising Lazarus from the dead. God the Father responds by taking what Jesus has done and promoting it. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. God will now generalize this by first raising Jesus from the dead and then using this as a universal pattern that applies to every one.

When Teacher thought promotes a specific element or person, then everything else will be viewed in the light of this newly promoted element. This is described in John 11. Caiaphas the high priest decides that Jesus should die in order to protect the Jewish nation, but John interprets this statement by Caiaphas in the light of treating the death of Jesus as a universal pattern: “‘It is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.’ Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad” (John 11:50-52). Notice how Caiaphas’ statement is being generalized. Caiaphas says that Jesus will die for the nation of Israel. John extends this statement to say that Jesus will die for the whole world. This will lead to greater Teacher order-within-complexity, because God will gather together all of His various scattered children.

Two points need to be emphasized. First, God the Father is motivated by Teacher emotion, and Teacher emotion is different than Mercy emotion. When God the Father carries out a plan, then Mercy feelings of pain, pleasure, and personal survival take a backseat to Teacher feelings of order-within-complexity. For Jesus, being raised up in Teacher thought meant going through the Mercy pain of crucifixion. Going further, the plans of God the Father are not guided by Mercy feelings of good-versus-bad or us-versus-them. Instead, God will cause core mental networks to interact in a manner that carries out the plan, bringing order to the complexity of societal and personal motivations. In the case of Jesus, it was the collision between the plan of Jesus and the rejection of the religious leaders that caused Jesus to die. In a related vein, a plan of God manipulates core mental networks, which run far deeper than the explicit words and behavior of people. However, this divine manipulation does not violate human free will, because God works with the existing core mental networks of society, as well as choosing individuals who are personally driven by the necessary mental networks. One can see this illustrated by the triumphal entry, described in chapter 12. When Jesus enters Jerusalem in triumph on Palm Sunday, it looks on the surface as if Jesus has won. But the deeper effect is to convince the religious leaders that they must take radical steps at once, in order to eliminate Jesus as a threat to their authority (12:10-11,19).

Second, God the Father plays for keeps. Teacher thought wants rules to apply without exception. Saying this bluntly, God does not practice fairness. God does not find a solution by averaging between the various viewpoints. Instead, when God promotes a certain person or viewpoint, then those who oppose what God has promoted get locked out. In chapter 12, John quotes Isaiah as saying “For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, ‘He has blinded their eyes and He hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them’” (12:39,40). This does not mean that every individual in an opposing group is rejected, because John adds that ‘many even of the rulers believed in Him’ (12:42). And I am not suggesting that God predestines certain individuals to eternal damnation, because that is incompatible with the concept of a good God, and I do not think that this can be supported by Scripture. Instead, I suggest that John is telling us that when God the Father carries out a paradigm shift, then God will reinforce the mindset of those who have chosen to oppose His plan in order to ensure that the paradigm shift actually occurs and not some half-measure that will leave the status quo intact. For instance, one can see this in the hardening of the Jewish leaders in the death of Jesus, as well as the hardening of Pharaoh in the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. Similarly, in the original passage in Isaiah, when Isaiah asks how long he should preach to an audience that does not listen, the answer is “until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, houses are without people and the land is utterly desolate” (Isaiah 6:11).

The Triumphal Entry 12:12-19

Jesus’ raising of Lazarus from the dead is followed by what is known as the Triumphal Entry, led by those who saw Jesus perform this miracle or heard about the miracle: “So the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead, continued to testify about Him. For this reason also the people went and met Him, because they heard that He had performed this sign” (v.17-18).

On the surface, it may appear that Jesus has won. However, if one looks deeper, one realizes that this is not the case. The crowd has learned that Jesus comes down from God in Teacher thought: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (v.13). But this is still being placed within the larger context of God helping us. Looking at the context around this quote: “The large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel’” (v.12-13). First, the crowd is focusing in Mercy thought upon the person of Jesus, rather than being guided in Teacher thought by an understanding of God. Second, they are focusing upon their own personal need instead of the plan of God. They are not crying hallelujah, which means ‘praise the Lord’, but rather hosanna, which comes from the Hebrew phrase meaning ‘save now, I pray’. Third, they are trying to make Jesus king, something which they attempted to do in John 6 after the feeding of the 5000. Finally, they are waving palm branches, a common ancient symbol of victory. Quoting from Wikipedia, “The palm became so closely associated with victory in ancient Roman culture that the Latin word palma could be used as a metonym for ‘victory’, and was a sign of any kind of victory. A lawyer who won his case in the forum would decorate his front door with palm leaves. The palm branch or tree became a regular attribute of the goddess Victory.” Mercy thought thinks in terms of one person gaining victory over another. Teacher thought, in contrast, thinks about submitting everything to a general understanding.

In John 6, Jesus avoided being crowned king and retreated to the mountain of a general Teacher understanding. In the triumphal entry, Jesus allows the crowd to treat him as king, because he knows that this will goad the Jewish leaders into killing him. However, Jesus still decides the type of king that he will be. Instead of riding a horse of victory, Jesus rides a donkey, symbolizing peace. In verse 15, John quotes from Zechariah 9:9, which describes the king of Israel coming with humility, mounted on the colt of a donkey. Zechariah 9:10 emphasizes that peace is replacing victory: “I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem; and the bow of war will be cut off. And he will speak peace to the nations.”

When the event is happening, the crowds do not understand what Jesus is doing, because they are fixating upon Mercy experiences, but it makes sense later when they think in terms of Teacher words and Server actions: “These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him” (v.16).

The Jewish leaders also respond by thinking in terms of personal status and approval: “So the Pharisees said to one another, ‘You see that you are not doing any good; look, the world has gone after Him’” (v.19).

The Greeks 12:20-36

I have mentioned that the technical thinking of incarnation needs help from Teacher thought to move from one context to another. The scientist who deals with theories in an objective manner experiences this as a paradigm shift. But because incarnation adds personal involvement to technical thought, the paradigm shift will be experienced as a personal rebirth. This relationship can be seen in the story of the Greeks coming to meet Jesus, found in the middle of John 12.

The description of this encounter is unusually specific: “Now there were some Greeks among those who were going up to worship at the feast; these then came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and began to ask him, saying, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ Philip came and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip came and told Jesus” (12:20-22). These various names were defined when looking at chapter 1. Philip means ‘lover of horses’ and Bethsaida means ‘house of fish’. In the description in chapter 1, the name Philip was the most secular and organizational. It makes sense that the secular Greeks would start their interaction with Jesus by initiating some sort of organizational or academic exchange. Philip is described as being from Bethsaida, implying that the context is studying people and social interaction. Using modern language, secular science is interacting with Christianity via psychology. Andrew means ‘manly’, which would represent male thought. Using cognitive language, if science wishes to study incarnation, then it should use male technical thought and not the female mental networks associated with mysticism or religious ritual. This is an important distinction. For instance, the cognitive science of religion uses scientific thought to study religion. But it focuses almost entirely upon mental networks of religious experience and ritual while ignoring—or even belittling—the ‘manly’ content of doctrine and theology.

Jesus responds to this simple request for a conversation with a soliloquy on expansion through rebirth: “Jesus answered them, saying, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal’” (12:23-25). Jesus is looking at the bigger picture. Incarnation is about to be glorified. But this expansion involves going through a process of rebirth. Holding on to the current context will end in failure, while letting go of what one currently has will lead to lasting results. This letting go happens cognitively, but an internal rebirth needs to be accompanied by some sort of external component that makes it real. Jesus adds that this describes a general principle by which one is honored by God the Father: “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him” (v.26).

Jesus now faces a choice. The TMN of a general theory can be used either to preserve the current paradigm, or else to drive a paradigm shift: “Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name” (v.27-28). This is also a significant principle, because the typical researcher using technical thought will be driven emotionally by the TMN of existing theory to ignore, attack, or belittle anything that threatens the current paradigm. Jesus instead chooses to be driven by the TMN of an integrated concept of God to go beyond the existing paradigm of Judaism.

The response is literally a voice from heaven: “Then a voice came out of heaven: ‘I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.’ So the crowd of people who stood by and heard it were saying that it had thundered; others were saying, ‘An angel has spoken to Him’” (v.28-29). Teacher thought is based in words, and heaven is the realm of God. Therefore a voice from heaven represents a response from God in Teacher thought. Jesus then states explicitly that he is about to go through personal rebirth in order to be ‘lifted up’ over opposing forces and given universal significance: “‘Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.’ But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die” (v.31-33). However, the audience has no concept of rebirth, but rather thinks in terms of achieving and holding on to status in Mercy thought. What Jesus is describing does not match their mental image of an anointed leader: “The crowd then answered him, ‘We have heard out of the Law that the Christ is to remain forever; and how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is the Son of Man?’” (v.34).

Jesus responds by pointing out how righteousness works: “So Jesus said to them, ‘For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light’” (v.35-36). Using cognitive language, they can currently be guided externally by the light of Jesus’ words. However, words by themselves are unstable. But if Teacher words are applied through Server actions, then a person will know what to do when the words disappear. Going further, applying words personally will cause a person to become a righteous person, who naturally behaves in a manner that is consistent with the light of Teacher understanding.

Finished 12:37-50

At this point, there is nothing more that Jesus can do. He has finished the task of descending as incarnation from God to man, he has performed the ultimate miracle, and he has explained everything as clearly as he knows how. “These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them. But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him” (12:36-37). I know from personal experience what this feels like. What does one do as an encore after coming up with a systematic theology as well as a coherent eschatology based in cognitive principles? If that does not communicate, then the only remaining alternative is to crawl in a hole and write everyone off.

The response is interesting and it also resonates with my personal experience. First, Teacher understanding will step in and say ‘I can explain this as well’. In the words of John, “This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: Lord, who has believed our report?” (v.38). Second, Teacher thought will add that this is all part of the larger plan: “For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, ‘He has blinded their eyes and He hardened their heart’” (v.39-40). Finally, Mercy thought will point out that one cannot write everyone off because there are always some who respond in a positive manner: “Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him” (v.42).

Therefore, Jesus changes his response. He recognizes that he is being guided by God the Father: “Jesus cried out and said, ‘He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me’” (v.44-45). His ultimate goal is to bring the illumination of Teacher understanding: “I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness” (v.46). He is following a positive plan of bringing salvation and not a negative plan of condemning people: “If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world” (v.47). Teacher understanding will eventually triumph: “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day” (v.48). Therefore, his words need to be guided by Teacher understanding: “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak” (v.49). And one needs to submit to Teacher thought because following Teacher understanding will lead to lasting benefits: “I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me” (v.50).

A similar relationship exists in science and technology. To believe in science is to believe that the universe is governed by universal laws. One does not spread scientific thought by condemning ignorance but rather by teaching understanding. Eventually, science will transform the world through technology, and those who do not know how to think rationally will be left behind. The words of science are ultimately based in the general theories of science.


John opens his Gospel by describing Jesus as the Word made flesh. This is not just a hand-waving doctrinal statement. Instead, the first 12 chapters of John make sense as a detailed description of incarnation descending from God in Teacher thought, and this description can be analyzed using the theory of mental symmetry.

1) This analysis continues to make sense even when one examines the context, studies the text in detail, interprets the symbolism, and examines the original Greek text. When it is possible to examine something so thoroughly with such clarity, then one can conclude that one is using the right set of theoretical glasses.

2) A cognitive analysis of the gospel of John is significant, because it transforms the doctrine of incarnation from an incomprehensible mystery into a rational hypothesis that can be analyzed, discussed, and applied. This essay presents a rational cognitive theory of Christology, which is a major breakthrough, because the current theological consensus is that incarnation is an incomprehensible mystery.

3) John’s description of incarnation descending from Teacher thought resonates with my personal experience. I spent several decades mentally living within Teacher thought as my brother Lane and I were developing the theory of mental symmetry. For the past few years, my primary goal has been to descend from this theory in Teacher thought to normal experience in Mercy thought—trying to follow the path of Jacob rather than the path of Esau. I have learned what it means to try to hold onto a Teacher understanding while living in Mercy experiences within a society that does not view God and religion from the perspective of Teacher thought. Thus, when I suggest that the doctrine of incarnation can be analyzed, discussed, and applied, I am stating this from personal experience and not just as a theoretical hypothesis.

4) If incarnation really did descend from God in Teacher thought down to humanity in a rational manner, then this has major societal implications: Science is not the enemy of Christianity, but rather a partial expression of incarnation. Judaism’s decision to reject Jesus happened in the centuries before the life of Jesus, when Judaism chose to follow a path of mysticism and nationalism rather than a path of discovering science. The Orthodox Church’s claim to be the original, true church is invalid because Orthodox Christianity is based upon the same flawed thinking of mysticism as Judaism.

5) If incarnation descending from God in Teacher thought really is a universal process, then following this process should lead to personal benefits. I state this as a personal experiment. Philippians 2 says that God lifted up Jesus as a reward for descending from Teacher thought to a dead-end in human existence. I find myself in a similar predicament, partially through my own choosing but also largely due to the hand of Providence. Therefore, my life has turned into an experiment that will demonstrate whether my analysis is merely esoteric theory or an actual description of how things really work.

6) The survival of Christianity depends upon personally demonstrating that theology is significant. Mainstream religion is now post-theology. The average religious academic no longer believes that there is any such thing as theology. However, as NT Wright points out, Christianity is based upon theology. Therefore, if Christianity is to survive, then people must regain a deep respect for theology. But that will not happen as a result of theological arguments, because theology itself is now regarded as meaningless. Instead, the importance of theology needs to be demonstrated through narrative and personal experience, because that is what most religious academics now study and respect.

John 13-18