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Chapter 2 - Pergamos
Our third lesson, which is the third letter, to the third church, concerns the church of Pergamos, and looking up the meaning of that word in our metaphysical Bible dictionary, we find that the word Pergamos means strongly united, closely knit. To what this church stands for within us, the Christ mind in dictating this letter helps us to identify it by saying, “I know where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is.” What part of our human nature is quote, “Strongly united and closely knit”? At the same time, is the place where almost all our mistakes and wrongdoing originates. Satan’s seat.
It can only be the intellect. The church of Pergamos stands for our human intellect, but not just the intellect. More specifically, the church of Pergamos stands for our intellectual activities in trying to develop a spiritual consciousness and proper worship of God. In our intellectual working toward spiritual consciousness, and in our intellectual worship of God, we do have some praise given to our intellect, the church of Pergamos, from the Christ mind, when we are told in our letter that although the church of Pergamos dwells even where Satan’s seat is, this is added: “Thou holdest fast my name, and did not deny my faith.”
Satan is the biblical symbol of erroneous and negative thinking in mankind. Satan’s seat refers to that place in us where erroneous and negative thinking originate. It is the seat of all our human error and negativeness, yet at the same time, it is located in one of the most advanced and highly developed parts of our human nature, our intellect. In this letter, the Christ mind praises us for this remarkable fact about our intellect, which is that in spite of the fierce bombardment of error and negativeness hitting our intellect from every direction, and also proceeding from it our intellect still remains steadfast, and loyal to truth. Doesn’t this warrant the words of praise given by the Christ mind in the letter? I know where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is, but thou holdest fast my name, and did not deny my faith. When you stop, and consider that Satan’s seat, or the origin of error and mistake-making, is right within our intellect at this time, you cannot help but wonder how you have managed to keep yourself so faithful and so loyal to the truth, even in your intellect.
This is a very praise-worthy thing, and our intellect is given proper praise for it in our letter, but as we find, as we continue reading the letter, that praise worthy as it is, our intellect is doing a far from perfect job in working toward building our spiritual consciousness, and in helping us to properly worship God, because it is still holding on to some things which cause it to become a weakness, or a troublemaker, for many of us.
The Christ mind in this letter lists some of the intellectual faults and weaknesses in this language: but I have a few things against thee, because, and then these three things are listed. First, thou hast there some that hold the teachings of Bailam. Secondly, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and third, to commit fornication. These three things are highly symbolic references to three very common weaknesses and faults which are going on in the intellects of most persons who are struggling to understand and to express truth on a purely intellectual level.
The first two of these, that is following false doctrines, and eating things sacrificed to idols, these pertain to the tendency in some persons’ intellect to accept substitutes for the purer truth. You see, the intellect may sincerely love truth, and yet how often does it become first, curious, then fascinated, and then perhaps all caught up with some fantastic or impractical teachings, just because they excite the imagination or promise some spectacular and some quick results? The intellect seems to have a rather incurable urge to try to find shortcuts to heaven, and quicker, easier ways to substitute for the magnificent simplicity of the truth of Jesus Christ. Some persons’ intellects insist on believing that reading books about truth, for instance, is just as good as praying, or that brilliant people are the best authorities for what is spiritual truth, or that being very spiritual means to be superior to other people.
Friends, all of our intellects make such mistakes as these, in one form or another, at various times. These mistakes must be detected by us, and we must try to quickly replace the pure truth that we are learning or have learned for this intellectual emotions which sometimes try to take the place of the pure truth in our intellect. Some other examples of this sort of thing are a belief that a certain kind of a diet, or certain kinds of body movements will make me more spiritual, or that there is some outer thing I can get, or some outer thing I can give up which will earn me more merit in the sight of spirit, or the belief that I can get good advice or important information for my spiritual unfoldment from certain disembodied, psychic forms. Or the belief that I can let a teacher, or a counselor, or my minister do my thinking and deciding for me, or that it’s all right for me to use my intellect to dig up examples, to use as arguments against the pure, simple truth of Jesus Christ. You see, friends, these are just some examples of the type of false doctrines which are sometimes followed in people’s intellects, and which so often spoil our good efforts to eventually spiritualize our intellect, or perfect our church of Pergamos.
The third and the last fault warned against in our letter, to commit fornication. To commit fornication refers to the intellect injecting its errors, and its misconceptions into what we call race consciousness. That is to deliberately project our negative thinking into life, into our world, into our activities, into our conversations, and relationships with other people. To allow error or negativeness to externalize and project from our intellect is called, symbolically, commit fornication in the church of Pergamos.
But this fault definitely can be overcome, and we read in our letter that such overcoming contains a great reward for the individual who achieves it. It is found in these words. In Verse 17 of our letter,
"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the white stone, a new name written, which no man knoweth, save he that receiveth it."
How to overcome these weaknesses and faults in our intellectual nature, our church of Pergamos? Nothing is more effective than intelligent and faithful use of correct denials and affirmations of truth. By such practice that is truth denial and affirmation, the intellect will then be trained to feed on purer truth, instead of things sacrificed to idols, and it will also be trained to inject only its own truth realizations into the stream of race consciousness, instead of fornicating wastefully. Charles Filmore, in one of his books, said that this kind of disciplining and training of the intellect will hasten the moment of spiritualization of the whole intellect, which is of course another form of the kingdom of heaven here on Earth. Here is the first part of the reward promised for such an overcoming: “I will give to eat of the hidden manna.” This means that as your intellect becomes more spiritualized, you will somehow make contact with a new source of nourishment for your whole being, a type of nourishment which is hidden to ordinary thinking.
To most human beings, this idea appears as very mysterious, something entirely new and completely unexplainable. The current intellect would ask how can this be? How can there be such a thing as an invisible source of nourishment? This nourishment, talked about in this letter, is not to be confused with the commonly known type. One derives from physical food, but it is of a much higher, finer, and more enduring nature. The hidden manna spoken of here nourishes and strengthens the whole man, and it quietly eliminates many of our baser, more troublesome appetites simply by making them unnecessary. This is partly what Jesus was referring to when He said, “I have meat to eat that you know not of” (John 4:32). This is the vital life substance and energy of spirit, directly assimilated into our entire being. There are really no existing words to describe what is being referred to here, but perhaps we can know that our intuition will recognize it when it begins to occur in us.
The second part of the reward mentioned is described as a white stone with your new name written on it, which only you who receive it can know. This of course refers to a realization of what you really mean when you speak the name which only you can know for yourself: I Am. In the past, when most of us said, “I am,” we were usually thinking only of all our old accumulated opinions of ourself, the sum total of all our thoughts about our old selves. This was not your real name, your real I am. Your real self is so far beyond, and so much greater than anything you have ever thought, felt, or said about yourself that it takes an entirely new and pure state of consciousness for you to be able to even bear facing it. This is the white stone, and in that white stone of purified consciousness, you will for the first time come face to face with your new name, which means your new understanding of what you mean when you speak those words, “I am,” because what you are, and what you are learning to realize yourself as being is, I am the true and perfect and eternal image and likeness of my Father, God.