Depth-Perception: The Foundation of Therapy

Imagine someone who is missing 3-D visual depth perception (and even its concept). He sees everything in flat two dimensions. To him, things closer are simply larger, and if something closer blocks something behind it, he perceives it as if part of the posterior object doesn’t exist.

Nevertheless, he’s a brilliant man, with a genius-level IQ and prodigious powers of expression.

So he formulates and espouses a scintillating logical and self-consistent worldview to explain reality as he perceives it – why a hand can sometimes dwarf a skyscraper, or why said building, after being ‘cut into pieces’ by interposing giant fingers, is still able to survive intact, etc.

His wife, who in no way shares her husband’s intellect or erudition waits until he draws a breath in the midst of his dissertation, shakes her head, and says: “No honey, I just waved my hand in front of you to try to get your attention and it blocked your view for a second, that’s all.

Which member of the couple is the wiser?

Not smarter, not more gifted, but wiser – in possession of a truer understanding of the reality in front of them?

Judaism says that the ‘foundation of wisdom’ is the awareness of the spiritual dimension of reality underlying and influencing all of life’s situations and phenomena.

Without this awareness, it is impossible to truly and contextually understand anything that one sees or experiences.

By whatever means one may explain or understand it, no matter how sophisticated his reasoning, no matter how penetrating his analysis…

…he has yet to even step foot over the threshold of true wisdom.

For he’s missing the foundational fact upon which all genuine perception depends.

This deficiency is especially keenly felt in the ‘helping professions’.

A car mechanic, though lacking a spiritual perspective of the engine in front of him (and there is one), will almost surely be able to repair it based on his physical knowhow alone. Not much ‘depth perception’ required there.

A well-trained physician will also likely be able to render effective medical treatment despite his obliviousness to the spiritual dimension. Yet, as all disease has a spiritual root, I would venture that the doctor who takes this fact into consideration will likely be more effective in the long run than one who doesn’t, assuming all else is equal in their technical proficiency, etc.

Yet for those who seek to heal the psyche, the emotions – the ‘soul’ – this awareness is crucial.

Those who endeavor to address inner angst, to curb self-destructive, addictive behavior (which primary-source 12-Step literature describes as a ‘spiritual malady’), to repair relationships, particularly within marriage with its overarching spiritual dynamic, who fail to not only acknowledge, but to understand the workings of the spiritual dimension and incorporate this understanding into their therapeutic guidance, are bound not only not to heal – but to harm.

Missing the ‘depth perception’ of the spiritual dimension, inevitably certain factors which appear to be small will actually be large – and vice versa. Crucial pieces that are merely blocked off by ‘closer’ surface issues will appear to simply not exist.

That is not to say such therapists aren’t intelligent – they may be brilliant.

Not to say they aren’t necessarily caring and sincere.

But they are (or, at least their treatment is) missing the ‘foundation of wisdom’, and it is the wisdom of spiritual ‘depth perception’ more than anything else, which is needed to heal the soul.

About the Author
Nesanel Yoel Safran, US born and a graduate of Brandeis, now living with his wife and family in the Judean Hills, is a writer, chef, and a teacher/student of Jewish spirituality. He blends these assorted vocations on his blog, Soul Foodie, where you can join him on mystical cooking adventures and glean practical wisdom for the kitchen — and for living.
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