The Last Supper was painted by the Italian artist, Leonardo DaVinci. It took seven years for him to complete the project. The figures representing the Twelve Apostles and Christ were painted from living persons.
The live model for the painting of the figure of Christ was chosen first. When it was decided that DaVinci would paint this great picture, hundreds of young men were carefully viewed in an endeavor to find a face and personality exhibiting innocence and beauty, free from the scars and signs of dissipation caused by sin. Finally, after weeks of laborious search, a young man of nineteen years of age was selected as the model for the portrayal of Christ. For six months DaVinci worked on the production of this leading character of his famous painting.
During the next six years, DaVinci continued his labors on the sublime work of art. One by one, fitting persons were chosen to represent each on the eleven apostles, space being left for the painting of the figure representing Judas Iscariot, who betrayed his Lord for thirty pieces of silver, worth $16.95 in our present-day currency.
For weeks DaVinci searched for a man with a hard callous face, with a countenance marked by scars of avarice, deceit, hypocrisy, and crime, a face that would delineate a character who would betray his best friend.
After many discouraging experiences in searching for the type of person required representing Judas, word came to DaVinci that a man whose appearance fully met the requirements had been found in a dungeon in Rome, sentenced to die for a life of crime and murder. DaVinci made the trip to Rome at once, and this man was brought out from his imprisonment in the dungeon and brought into the light of the sun.
There DaVinci saw before him a dark, swarthy man, his long, shaggy, and unkempt hair sprawled over his face, which portrayed a character of viciousness and complete ruin. At last the painter had found the person he wanted to represent the character of Judas in his painting.
By special permission, the prisoner was carried to Milan, where the picture was being painted, and for six months he sat there in front of DaVinci at appointed hours of each day, as the gifted artist diligently continued his task of transmitting to his painting the base character representing the traitor and betrayer of Christ. As he finished his last stroke, he turned to the guards and said, “I have finished, you may take the prisoner away.” As the guards were leading their prisoner away, he suddenly broke loose from their control and rushed up to DaVinci, crying as he did, “Oh, DaVinci, look at me! Do you not know who I am?”
DaVinci, with the trained eyes of a great character student, carefully scrutinized the man upon whose face he had constantly gazed for six months and replied, “No, I have never seen you in my life until you were brought before me out of the dungeon in Rome.”
Then lifting his eyes toward heaven, the prisoner said, “O God, have I fallen so low?” Then turning his face to the painter he cried, “Leonardo DaVinci, look at me again for I am the same man you painted just seven years ago as the figure of Christ!”
This story is powerful in illustrating the unfortunate truth about our conditioning. As we go through life it seems that our light dims more and more. We get stuck in a rut, unhappy about our present circumstances, but not dissatisfied enough to change them. We begin to believe that we are not capable or worthy of more. We buy into the cynical attitudes that say that success is a fairytale that doesn’t exist in real life.
Our beliefs come from our conditioning; what we hear, feel, and see. However, Stephen Covey said, “We are neither a product of nature or nurture, but a product of choice.” What this means is that anything that is conditioned can be reconditioned. Anything that is learned can be unlearned and relearned. Think of weighted scales. It is both the amount and the weight of the object that affects the scales. Similarly, we recondition through repetition and impact. We need quantity and weight to recondition what has been imprinted throughout our life.
In his book NLP: The New Art and Science of Getting What You Want, Harry Alder observed, “Even small changes at the root level of belief will produce amazing changes in behavior and performance. … The better performance will fuel enhanced self-belief and they will go on to excel.
In a few rare cases a person might have an overriding self-belief that says “I’m no good at anything,” and this will have a very damaging effect on anything they try to accomplish – if they bother to try. But it is far more common to have a mixture of self-beliefs, some of which are positive or “empowering” and some of which are negative or “disempowering.” A man might have a low self-image in career terms and not see himself, for example, as being a good “manager” or “boss” or “leader”. The same person, however, might see himself as a “natural” at sport, socializing, or in some hobby or pastime.
Just as commonly, in a work situation, a woman might see herself highly in terms of professional ability – being able to do the job well technically – but be far from happy about handling the “office politics” side of her career. Or visa versa. So we each have a range of self-beliefs, covering the many facets of our work, social and domestic life; and we need to be specific when identifying those that affect what we achieve. We need to replace disempowering ones with empowering ones.”