In the following audio and transcripts, Vera Dawson Tait provides commentary on the Correspondence School Annotations for Emilie Cady's Lessons in Truth.
024 Threefold nature of man
Before we start our lesson for today, could we just have a slight reference to both chapter one and chapter two? Chapter one, we consider the first step in our adventure of life, which was the choice, either liberty or bondage. Then we consider the relation of God to man, man’s inheritance of ideas, and probably one of the most important points was the primary cause of suffering. Did you notice the reference to man’s threefold nature in chapter two? You’ll notice that we did not mention it. And the reason was because in chapter three, we go into that in much greater detail. Because we feel that the fourth question of chapter three, explain the three phases of our being and show the function of each and how they are related, is about one of the most important things that we can consider. Probably the greater part of this side of the cassette will be given over to the threefold nature of man. I want to read from chapter two, about the threefold nature of man. “Man is a three fold being made up of spirit, soul and body.
Spirit, our innermost real being, the absolute part of us, the eye of us has never changed, though our thoughts and our circumstances may have changed hundreds of times. It is a standing force of God indivisibility, it is the Father in us. At this central part of His being, every person can say, ‘I and the Father are one.’ And speak absolute truth.” Now, let me cover chapter three as far as the threefold nature is concerned. Man is made up of spirit, soul and body. Spirit is the central unchanging eye of us, the part that since infancy has never changed, and through all eternity, never will change. The following paragraph says this, “In our out springing from God into the material world, spirit is inner, one with God. Soul is the clothing as it were of the Spirit. Body is the external clothing of the soul. Yet all are in reality one, the composite man as steam, water, and ice are one only in different degrees of condensation.
Perhaps one of the best illustrations for the threefold nature of man would be fruit with a large seed. However, bear this in mind, that no illustration can attempt to cover something that is really related to the spiritual. However, let’s see how we can relate fruit with a large seed. The seed would represent the life principle or the spirit phase of man’s being, because we know it can grow and reproduce according to the parent plant or tree. Then the pulp of the fruit would represent the character or nature of that fruit, or the soul of man. If you were to sink your teeth into the pulp of fruit, which had already been peeled, no rind or skin was left, and you were familiar with that fruit, you would know immediately what fruit it was that you were eating. Therefore, the pulp has a certain type of identification. But when we go to the skin or the rind, we have a very definite identification with the outer world, provided we are familiar with that fruit. Whether it be an apple, or a peach, or a papaya, or a mango.
Man’s threefold being works very much in the same way. Spirit is the life principle. Soul is the nature of that individual using the life principle. And the skin would be represented by the body, which would be identification in the outer world.
Let’s deal first with spirit. Spirit we could say in a simple way is God’s presence in us. Probably, we may not thoroughly realize what we mean by God’s presence, but somehow we know that there is a way that we can make contact with God and it has to be this presence within each one of us. Genesis probably brings out two words that would mean a great deal to us if we would give them thought. Spiritual man is spoken of as the image likeness of God. And then when we begin to get further on in our Old Testament, we remember that in the third chapter of Exodus when Moses asked God, whom he was to say had sent him to lead the children of Israel, God said, “I Am that I Am.”
And He told Moses to tell the children that this was the One who had sent him to take them out of their bondage. The child takes the Father’s name, so it is logical for us to imagine that our real name in the spirit side of our nature is I am. In the New Testament, the gospel of John refers to this spiritual man as the Word. Do you remember when I read from the second chapter, it spoke of this central part of our being and also the Father, and that is the Father within. God, the Creator is the Father of all and His presence in us as the I Am, or as the Word is the Father within dwelling to each one of us. Metaphysically, we would perhaps, use the words, “real self”, “spiritual identity”, and “divine pattern” as much as anything. However, there is a word very dear to Christians, and that is the name Christ. If you recall, Paul says, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” There’s another word that can also be handled in a metaphysical way, and that is the name “Lord.”
Because metaphysical we often say that the Lord is the law of our being. Another name that is used a good deal in the metaphysical teaching is “super conscious” the super conscious phase of mind, or the Christ mind. And remember, this is the realm of divine ideas in man. Bear in mind, that divine mind or Universal Mind is the realm of all divine ideas, which contain the knowing power for all of creation. Not just our Earth planet, but as far as we can ever think, or even conceive. Now to make it a little clearer about man’s threefold nature, could you imagine in your mind’s eye, a large circle, and then you’re going to put a smaller circle in the middle? The small circle is going to represent spirit. But don’t get any idea that this means that spirit is smaller than soul or body, but rather spirit is like an aperture through which you look into all eternity. Think of the portion that is around this smaller circle, as representing the soul or the mind.
So now we’re going to deal with this second phase. Very frequently in the Unity teachings, we use one hyphenated word as representing the soul, we say, “self-consciousness” but don’t get any idea in your mind. This is the kind of self-consciousness we mean when we’re referring to a person being embarrassed over some something that is done or said. It is the awareness or the consciousness of identity. You just know that you are, you realize that you exist. And so the soul can say, “I am I.” You remember spirit is I am, but the soul says, “I am I.” It can also say, “I will.” But also, “I won’t.” It can say, “I can.” And also, “I can’t.” Now, do you realize something from this? We are saying right here that the soul is the user of ideas, it is that which will choose. It may decide whether it wants this or that. And it is very important to you and me to realize this, because it is through the use, or the misuse of ideas that our life is definitely built. What are the tools that man uses to choose and to use ideas?
Nothing more or less than the abilities of thinking and feeling. Now bear that in mind, thinking and feeling use the ideas of God. But because man can choose, then he will use these ideas according to his own soul and unfoldment. That is why we say that the soul may look in two directions. Now once more, consider this circle with a small circle in the middle. The soul which is the larger portion between the rim and the center can look inward to the center, which is the Father within, the Christ the I am or the Word. Or it may look outward to body and beyond that to affairs. You remember we said that the spiritual part of man is the super conscious or Christ Mind, the realm of divine idea. All right. Now let us consider a little more what the faculty of thinking is. Sometimes we call it the intellect. It is the ability of man to lay hold of ideas and reason, judge, deduct, and come to certain conclusions. But the other phase of man’s mind or soul is called the subconscious phase, and sometimes we refer to it as the heart.
It is in the subconscious phase, where we feel, where we build emotions, moods, temperaments, and opinions. Now one thing to bear in mind is that the subconscious phase has no direct choice of its own. Being subjective to the conscious phase of mind, it must accept what is given to it by the thinking faculty. If the thinking faculty is confused, anxious, upset, and certainly not based upon truth, those are the patterns that it will give to the subconscious. And this very obedient process will carry out in the deeper realms of the soul, what has been given to it and build what Dr. Emmett Fox refers to as mental equivalents. These mental equivalents actually become magnets and eventually draw into our life experience, whatever their character is, or whatever has been established in the subconscious realm of mind.
If the conscious phase of mind gives imperfect patterns to the subconscious in the form of negative concepts through ignorance, then the result will be sickness, hate, weakness, fear, unhappiness, inharmony, war, et cetera. But on the other hand, if the thinking faculty has been spiritually educated, then it will give to the subconscious the divine patterns that will result in life, love, power, faith, joy, and peace.
Now we’re going on to the third phase of man’s threefold body. Nearly everybody says, “Well, I know what my body is.” Do you really? Do you realize that primarily your body is the temple of the living God? We have Scriptural authority for that. You say, “How can I say my body is the temple of the living God? It’s full of pain, it’s full of many errors.”
We said the body is the temple of the living God, not the appearance of the body. We have found that the body is based on a divine idea in God Mind. If all of creation is based on ideas, then it stands to reason that this is true. However, the soul being the user of divine ideas, including the body idea, is actually the director as far as the appearance of the body is concerned. Should the soul have the wrong idea about the body, seeing it only as flesh and blood, subject to all of the outer conditions of the world, then the body will show forth that same understanding. However, it is not only according to the body idea held by the conscious phase of mind that the body is affected. Every idea or every concept that enters the conscious phase of mind has its effect upon the body. For instance, one individual may never have thought of sickness or of disease, may have never thought that his body was subject to any of the conditions and the outer world.
And yet if he should hold thoughts or concepts about fear, and ignorance, and envy, and unhappiness, then these same effects will show in the body. For instance, a businessman who has never given his body very much thought may begin to worry about finances for his business. And the first thing he knows it is pulling down as it were, his body into sickness and into disease. Or one who has always had what we call a good prosperity consciousness may feel that his businesses doing splendidly, may begin to worry about the conditions of his home life. And the worry about these conditions or concerning individuals, wife or children will have its effect upon his business, because he is not able to give full attention to what he is handling. And then another individual who may seem that he has a very harmonious relationship with his loved ones and with his friends may be worrying even about the conditions of the world, and it even affects his approach to his loved ones.
He may be very bruised, and very sharp and his loved ones may feel that he has ceased to care for them, when all the time it has been worry, perhaps of conditions in the outer world. Do you recall that in the last chapter we spoke of God is wisdom, and then we referred to intelligence as the know how of all atoms of creation? Have you ever stopped to think that God’s intelligence moves through every atom of your being? In every cell, nerve, tissue and bone, there is intelligence. The body really wants only one thing, and that is to express its own perfection. And only man can interfere. The directive power for the body is found in the mind of man which is, of course, the soul of man. So you begin to realize why it is that the body is so affected by everything that is thought or felt by man. If man realizes that there is an intelligence in every cell of his body, then when imperfection strikes the body, he can return to that inner part of himself. Take hold of the idea of perfection, and speak that word into the body.
This we call healing. Do you recall that the Scripture says, “Take with you words and return unto the Lord.” We will probably refer a little more to this when we come to our lesson on affirmations, but this is what we do. There is no magic in healing the body, it is a definite acceptance of God’s life in every cell. If the appearance is not one of perfection, then we know that it lies with each individual to change the imperfect mental picture he has been holding off the body. Now, let us take once more the threefold nature of man and consider it along with our circle with a smaller circle in the middle. The outer rim then is the body that has come forth through the sole use of the body idea. In between the rim and the smaller circle, we find the soul or the human mind, the chooser and user of these ideas. And then in the very center, we refer to spirit or the Father within. That real self of every individual, which has come forth as the image likeness of God. Do you think you have a clear picture now of your threefold being?
028 Describe the foundation principle of Truth
Now let us go back to the first question, or the first actual key idea that is brought out in chapter three. The question reads this way, “Describe the foundation principle of truth.” Throughout the study so far, you have come to the realization that God as the one presence and the One Power is the foundation principle of truth. We speak of truth as being the reality, and the reality is that there is only God. And you say, “Well, what about all of the many appearances that are coming in my life and certainly showing up in the world as war, poverty, unhappiness, and sickness?” Remember, we’re not considering right now, these outer conditions that have been brought into our world by man, but we are considering the fundamental principle of truth and we say it is God. What did we say about God? We said that His nature is absolute good. Absolute good? Then how can we say that there are all these appearances in the world that are not good?
In the same way that you and I may deal with the principle of mathematics. We may be taught the principle, but unless we’re going to follow through on its rules, our answer is not going to be correct. So man has been given the principle of life, he has also been taught how to handle life. But if he ignores this, or is completely unaware of it, then the results of his use of life are not going to be according to God’s standard. God as the principle of absolute good, gives to each of His creation the ability to actually unfold its own particular nature. There is, as we said in the last chapter, an intelligence running throughout all creation. Men must turn inward to learn of this intelligence. He does it in many outer things, he learns to do things with his hands in very skillful ways. He builds machines that can go very fast upon the earth, machines that can rise into the skies at tremendous speed. He learns to put up buildings that are feats of engineering.
He learns to do so many things in the outer, that sometimes he forget that there is an inner world that he must deal with. If he will understand that the foundation of his life, the foundation principle of truth is God as absolute good, and he comes to know himself as the offspring of that good, then in his hands he holds the key to successful and happy living.
029 Explain God as Universal Mind
Now to our next question, I’ll read it in its entirety. “Explain God as universal Mind.” That’s the first part. “If there is only one Mind ...” and that spelt with a capital M. “... why does there appear to be many minds?” So far in our lessons we have said that God is divine Mind. We could say God is universal Mind. We mean that God is the one truth, the one reality, out of which all creation has come forth. Strictly speaking, you and I don’t have a separate mind. We talk about my mind and your mind, but we really do not have a mind.
We are ideas in the mind of God, and as His image likeness, we have been the given the ability to think and feel, or we have been given the ability to build a consciousness, and this we call our mind. All right, if God is universal Mind out of which all ideas have come forth, the ideas for the smallest insect, to the largest sea creature, to the tiny little Hummingbird, to some of the largest eagles and other birds that we know. All of these remember our ideas in the mind of God, and to each one is given the same life, substance and intelligence to fulfill its own life upon this earth plane. Then, if there is only this one mind, why do there seem to be so many minds among men, and many minds among nature? Very simple. This one mind has ideas, and every part of creation may use these ideas. As far as nature is concerned, we say that nature has subjective consciousness. We feel that the animals, the birds, the sea creatures, and the reptiles follow their own species. There is a pattern running through each species and they follow that.
They follow it so exactly, that sometimes, human beings are amazed at what nature can produce. Man, on the other hand, has the ability to choose. While nature must take these God ideas, bring them forth in beauty and usefulness the ability to grow and reproduce. Man alone can take these ideas and either use them according to their original plan, or misuse them with the result of suffering in his life. So you see, there really are not many minds, but there are many ways of using the ideas of the one mind. When you think of yourself as really very close to nature, in fact close to all of the kingdoms, the animal, the mineral, and the vegetable kingdom, you have a feeling of God’s oneness. You have a feeling of this one mind moving its intelligence and its life throughout all creation.
030 What is thinking?
You may wonder why the third question is only being dealt with now? Because the first part of it is actually the subject of this chapter. The question reads, “What is thinking?” And the second part, “Can one come into a realization of truth by arguing?”
Probably one of the simplest definitions of thinking is one given by Charles Fillmore, he says that thinking is the movement of ideas in mind (MBD Thinking). Think of that, that when you think you move ideas in your mind. But if you don’t move those ideas according to their original pattern, then you are going to bring forth concepts or opinions, many things that may be far from the original idea. Let’s use an illustration. We may find two children in the same family, having the same upbringing, having the same opportunities. And yet each child will interpret for instance, the idea of life entirely different. One child may be an extrovert, so life to him is a rather thrilling and adventurous thing. He likes people, he likes what he does, and he goes ahead blindly on his way. The other child, perhaps being an introvert, may have a certain fear of life. He may think that people are crowding him, he may feel that conditions are difficult and hard. And he will find the same kind of experiences in his life, as he has envisioned in his own mind. Yet, it’s still the same idea.
Two people, two individuals using one idea, and yet it comes out entirely different. Probably one of the most dramatic illustrations ... and this has happened time and time again in our world, is two boys in one family with an entirely different approach to this thing we call life. One going into a life of crime, and the other going into a life of law and order. We’ve had many illustrations of that actually taking place. If there is one mind, why do there appear to be so many minds? Because each individual as a self-conscious entity has the right to choose exactly how he will use these ideas. Does this seem clear to you? Now to the second part of question three, “Can one come into a realization of truth by arguing?” There’s only one answer. No. You see, when an argument takes place, it usually means that each individual taking part in the argument has very set notions concerning the subject under discussion. Very frequently, in arguing, the participants do not listen to each other. You see, there’s quite a difference between discussion and arguing.
It would be impossible to come into truth by arguing. By discussion, yes. If we feel that we must argue on a point of truth, 10:1, we are not very certain in our own mind about the particular subject that we are handling. If we are unclear concerning a subject and we want to discuss it with someone else, someone perhaps who has more understanding on the subject, then the mind must be open and receptive. A truly enlightened person will say to one who wishes instruction on any subject of truth, “Oh you think this, do you? Well, how about approaching the subject from this standpoint?” And instead of shutting the other individual off, or saying what he has been thinking on the subject is wrong, this individual then allows the other one to consider the subject from his own standpoint, but from a higher standpoint than he had before the discussion. But in arguing, this it not the case. One person seeks to impose his particular type of thinking upon the other. When you consider the subject of thinking, have you ever stopped to realize what a tremendous power it is?
And above that, have you ever stopped to think that it is probably the greatest gift that God has given you, after the gift of your own divine nature? Do you realize just what thinking does? Do you realize what a world it opens to you? Do you realize that upon your thinking, lies the entire tone of your life? Whether it will be one of fulfillment or whether it will be one of unhappiness and sorrow. Only you can make the choice because you are a self-conscious entity, free to choose and then to follow through on that choice.
031 What is meant by error consciousness?
Our fifth question reads, “What is meant by error consciousness?” Now, before I deal with that, I want you to recall this; In the chapter, the words “mortal consciousness” are dealt with, and there is quite a lot mentioned about it. We do not use the word, “mortal consciousness” very much now, we refer to the human consciousness that can build into itself states of mortal consciousness, or states of error. And I’ll tell you the reason we don’t care to use that word “mortal” too often, it refers to death. So we prefer not to use it.
But there are errors states of consciousness that have been built into this wonderful thing that we call our mind, which is our consciousness in divine mind. So error consciousness then is nothing more or less than a state of consciousness on any subject. Let me make that a little clearer. One individual may not have a very good consciousness about his health, he may feel that he’s sick or he’s an invalid. So he actually builds into his mind, a state of consciousness that is negative. This is an error consciousness, it is not true. He may think of himself as subject to colds and subject to the illnesses and diseases of every kind, but it is not true. Another individual, on the other hand, having quite a good consciousness about health, he feels healthy and he doesn’t stop to think much about many of the things that occur to the physical body. But he may feel that he has a lack of substance, he may feel that he’s poor, he may feel that he has a lack of supply.
So he in turn has built a negative consciousness as far as his outer life is concerned, as far as his prosperity is concerned. The other one who had an error consciousness about health may have a very good prosperity consciousness as we speak of it. And then another individual having a good prosperity consciousness and a good health consciousness may not be able to get on with other people. He may have a suspicion of people. He may feel that if he doesn’t dictate or tyrannize over others, he cannot be successful or get the things that he wants in life. So he in turn has built a negative consciousness and error consciousness concerning his relations with other people. You see, somehow or other, he has forgotten the Fatherhood of God, and thus he has failed to remember the brotherhood of man.
032 Stop reading many books
Now that we’ve covered the five questions for the first part of the chapter, there are one or two things that I’d like to bring up that are sometimes overcome in a surface reading. One is the subject of reading books.
I want to read directly from the chapter, “If you want to make rapid progress in growth towards spiritual understanding, stop reading many books. They only give you someone else’s opinion about truth, or a sort of history of the author’s experience in seeking truth.” One of the problems that we have found is that students reading that forget that the vital word is “many books” and they say, “Oh, well I don’t need to read any more books because it’s only giving me an author’s opinion.” Now that isn’t really what Dr. Katie meant at all. She said definitely, “Stop reading many books.” It is quite possible for a person to be so hungry for this truth that he gobbles it up everywhere he can find it. He gets book after book or he attends lecture after lecture, in the hope that he’s going to come to spiritual understanding. The important thing is to stay with one thing long enough until it has given you a revelation of the truth. You don’t need to go out after books or teachers, you will find yourself guided toward them.
And if you are willing to give yourself entirely to one simple study for a time, then all of the other books and studies that you may take will have a much greater value to you, they will have much more inspiration. Sometimes, reading too many books and listening to too many courses, or too many teachers can be like overloading the body. We know that we don’t want tomorrow’s food or next week’s food, we take that which is sufficient for today. And if we will do that in our spiritual growth, we will find that our study of truth becomes a much simpler thing to each one of us.
033 Falls and bumps on the way
There is another point in this chapter that is not covered in any question, but it is one that is a vital interest to all of us and I’m going to read, “We are in process of growth into the highest spiritual manhood and womanhood. We get many fallows and bumps on the way, but only through these not necessarily by them, can our growth proceed.”
Now this is very important because there are individuals with deep sincerity in truth who feel that unpleasant experiences are going to be the way of spiritual growth. But as the chapter says here, we get many fallows and bumps on the way, but only through these not necessarily by them do ... in other words, do we reach our spiritual growth. If we were to come into our full spiritual growth by these things, then it would mean that all individuals had to have sickness, and unhappiness, and war, and crime, if that were the only way in which we could come into spiritual attainment. However, it is only through them. Sometimes though, we don’t always learn our lesson. We go through a certain experience, and we don’t learn it. It comes again, and the next time we learn it. So just keep in mind we grow through our experiences when we learn the lessons they have to teach and not by these negative experiences that come into the life of one who has not yet learned how to use the principles of life.
034 Through which faculties does man find God?
We are continuing with chapter three. On this side of the tape, we are going to cover questions six through 10, you will find that these are really fascinating key ideas that bear on the very title of this chapter, Thinking. All right here is question number six, “Through what faculties does man find God?” Now in looking through the chapter, you may say, “Well, I don’t find any answer in so many words.” But you will read these words in this chapter. We are writing for the little children who without question or discussion, are willing at once to accept and to try a few plain simple rules. You and I know that in order to accept and to try any rules, we have to use our abilities of thinking and feeling. So we must say that the faculties through which man finds God are his thinking and feeling. As you consider the matter, you will realize this is very logical. Unless you and I can think about something, and then feel that topic about which we are thinking, then we really are only laying hold of the letter and not the spirit.
Each man comes to the place in his life when he thinks that he needs a change. Do you remember that’s what we discussed in our first chapter? Bondage or liberty, which man comes to a place of choice, and naturally he does it through his thinking. Immediately after he has thought about something, he begins to generate a feeling. You say, “But God is not in thinking or feeling.” No. But our faculties, our abilities to think and to feel, put us on the pathway to God. Thinking, as we said in the first part of our chapter is the movement of ideas in mind. When you begin to think about God, you will find you have to consider some of the ideas or qualities that make up His nature of absolute good. You think about love, you think about life, you think about power. But merely just think would, as we said before, mean that we were only adding the letter of the law to our mental abilities. However, we go way beyond thinking into this place of feeling.
And we think, “Well, if God is creator, if God is absolutely good, then it stands to reason that He must be love, and life, and strength.” But I’ve got to feel that or know that. I must feel that God is the love that goes through my heart. I must feel that God is the life through every part of my body. I must feel as well as know that God is the wisdom that coming forth in my life will bring me understanding about any subject. Does it seem reasonable to you then, that through thinking and feeling man finds first of all his way to God, and then he finds God? So you will say, “But God is not lost.” That is true. The word “find” in this question is more in the sense of a discovery. We discover that there is a Creator, we discover that there is a Being. A Being represents absolute good. And this discovery to us may seem something very new, but we find as we go along it is something that’s been part and parcel of our being.
035 How does each individual receive his own spiritual revelations?
We go now to the seventh question, it’s divided into two parts. The first part reads, “How does each individual receive his own spiritual revelations?” And the second part, “Why should we not depend wholly on books and teachers for an understanding of truth?” There is only one answer to the first part, “How does each individual received his own spiritual revelations?” And that answer is by turning within. It is very easy to say, “To turn within.” But what do we mean? We don’t mean just to our own human understanding, we mean to turn within to that spirit of wisdom and understanding. How does each individual receive his own spiritual revelations? Let me repeat again, by turning within. We call this turning within prayer, because prayer is a conscious communion with God. Notice the word “conscious”. Not merely communion, but conscious communion with God. So this prayer may be spoken in outer words, or it may be just that which is spoken in the deep recesses of our own soul. As you and I turn within to this indwelling spirit that we call God, we find that the revelations that come are for us.
The answers that you and I get to our prayers may may not be a bit like those that come to our neighbors, but they will be our own spiritual revelation. Sometimes people say, “Yes, but I went to a meeting and I heard something that the speaker said that became a revelation to me.” It may have been that which stirred up the revelation within you. Revelation cannot come from the outer. It may be stirred up by a stimulus from the outer, but the revelation comes within the each individual. This should not seem difficult to most of us because even our study at school means that we take what a teacher gives to us, but the understanding or the revelation of that subject must come from within ourselves. Throughout all of truth teachings, and especially the you Unity teachings, we find that to teach people to turn within to that indwelling presence of God is about one of the safest things that can be done. To depend too much upon books and teachers might build an obstacle in an individual’s life.
So the second part of our question reads, “Why should we not depend wholly on books and teachers for an understanding of truth?” Do you remember in the first part of the chapter reference was made to the fact that we are told not to read many books? It did not say not to read books, but not to read many. In other words, you and I are not to get confused by too many opinions. We are to take what books and teachers can give us just as we take the food into our bodies, then we are to masticate and to digest in our mind that which is presented to us in the form of books or teachers. If we look to a book or a teacher for an understanding of truth, we’re building on a false premise. We should be grateful for both teachers and books, in that they will act as guideposts along the way, allowing us to walk away that will give us a chance to get the inspirations and the understanding that we need in our own life.
Probably this chapter contains some of the most definite instructions concerning the seeking of our own spiritual revelations. Let me read, “Seek light from the spirit of truth within you.” Now notice this, “Go alone. Think alone. Seek light alone. If does not come at once, do not be discouraged and run off to someone else to get light. For as we said before, by so doing, you get only the opinion of the intellect, and may be then farther away from the truth you are seeking than ever before.” Do not get hold of the idea that because we say to go alone and think alone, that we are not to have help from teachers, and from preachers. Paul says very definitely in the New Testament, that unless a man has a teacher or a preacher, how is he to know of these things? All through our lives we find that we are very grateful for those who have pointed the way. But the danger lies in depending wholly on books, or some teacher expecting that through that book, or those books, or through that teacher, or teachers, we will get an understanding of truth. Understanding itself means that which stands under, and we know that nothing of the outer can stand under that which is taking place in our own individual life.
036 What is the direct road to spiritual attainment?
Our eighth question is very closely related to the sixth question about through what faculties does man find God? This eighth question reads in this way, “What is the direct road to spiritual attainment?” And there’s really only one answer there, prayer. We will probably repeat about prayer over and over and over again. And yet we know that whether we are fully aware of it or not, prayer is the direct road. This does not mean that we have no need, as we mentioned in our last question for books and teachers. But it does mean that the direct road to spiritual attainment must be made by the individual who seeks God within his own soul, deep within the spiritual part of his nature. Each man has a different approach to prayer. To one, it may be a very devotional attitude that includes the speaking aloud of certain words, words that he directs to his Father, mother God.
To another, it may be only sitting quiet, and turning his thoughts inward, until the thoughts themselves speak in the silence of his soul. To another, prayer can actually be the doing of something in the outer while the mind is moving along toward that understanding of this being he calls God. Many years ago, I remember reading in one of the Unity books about one of the teachers who said he believed in walking prayer. And this is how he came to write that article. It appears he was trying to do everything that the book said, and everything that any teacher said about prayer. He would sit very quietly and fold his hands, and he would wait to get into that very quiet time that we call the silence. So this particular morning, he was doing the same thing and he couldn’t seem to get anywhere. The quieter he tried to get, it seemed as if the more confused his mind was and his body seemed to twitch in every direction. So finally, after sitting a little while, he tried again, and nothing happened. So almost in disgust, he gave up. In his basement, he had a power machine that he liked to play with in carving pieces of wood and making various things because that was one of his inclinations. So seeing that he couldn’t go into the silence as he had expected, he went into his basement, he started this power machine going, that made a great deal of noise and almost instantly, he found he was in the silence that he had not been able to attain when he was upstairs in a very quiet place. Let me read once more from the chapter. “In other words, there is a shortcut to the top of the hill. And while there is a good but long roundabout road for those who need it, we prefer the less laborious means of attaining the same end, by seeking directly the Spirit of truth promised to dwell in us and to lead us into all truth. This we call prayer.”
037 Is God responsible for keeping our thoughts right?
Now to our ninth question. It is also in two parts as most of our questions are, as you’ve observed, “Is God responsible for keeping our thoughts right?” That’s the first part, “If He is not, who is?”
Now, this is what the chapter says, “Is it difficult for you to understand why, if God lives in us all the time, He does not keep our thoughts right? Instead of permitting us through ignorance to drift into wrong thoughts, and so bring trouble on ourselves.” For one thing, we must remember that when God created us, He did so in His own image and after His likeness. We are sons and not servants, we are not automatons. So it stands to reason that God could not be responsible for keeping our thoughts right. The title of this chapter is Thinking. As was mentioned in another part of our lesson, thinking is really a gift to us from God. But the right to use this thinking depends upon the individual. If God were responsible for keeping our thoughts right, then we would not be the self-conscious individuals about which we spoke when we studied the threefold nature of man. Do you remember, we said that the soul is the chooser of God ideas, and it is also the user of these ideas?
The fact that the soul can choose and the soul can use is in itself a proof that man has a responsibility and that responsibility lies, first of all, in his own mentality. He has the ability to think as he wishes, and to feel according to his own dictates. But man must be willing to take the result of his own thinking and feeling. In considering the word “responsible” or “responsibility”, many years ago a student once made this remark, “I think that responsibility must be the ability of God in me and my response to that ability.” If you think of it that way, you realize that God’s responsibility has already been taken care of. In other words, God has created us in His image and after His likeness, with this right of choice, and this right to act upon our own decisions. But our responsibility is responding to all that He has put in us that allows us to complete our lives or fulfill our lives as seems right as far as our own spiritual understanding is concerned. Then the second part of this question we have practically answered, “If God is not responsible, who is?” And we have to say we are. If we have learned anything of the truth at all, we know that our responsibility is to use as much as we have absorbed. Nobody can expect an individual to do more than he has already received the principles or the know how for handling. Nope. Nobody would expect a child of six to take a test intended for a boy and 16. God has already given us certain principles, they lie deep within ourselves and our own inner nature. So it is no use for any of us to say, “I do not understand. I do not know.” We know that there is this direct road to spiritual attainment or spiritual understanding that will reveal to us the next steps that we must take, and we will never be asked to do that for which we are not yet prepared.
038 Do we have to beseech God for the fulfillment of our desires?
vLet’s go on to our 10th question, and it also is divided into two parts. “Do we have to beseech God for the fulfillment of our desires? Why?” And the second part, “Does God change?”
Now back again to our first part, “Do we have to beseech God for the fulfillment of our desires?” Of course we do not. The chapter brings out that we don’t have to beseech God for the fulfillment of whatever we think that we need any more than we have to beseech the sun to shine. It is interesting to note that the chapter says, “It is its own nature to shine.” And we could say that it was our very nature to turn to God just as it is the very nature of God to respond to whatever we are desiring with all our hearts. If we had to beseech God, this would mean that He was not a God of love, that He was not a God who understood His creation. Even the word “beseech” is almost an indication that there is a sense of fear or a sense of doubt. If you have to beseech anybody for something, then you hold in your mind the thought, “Perhaps he won’t give me that which I ask.” The loving father does not need to be besought by the child.
The child goes automatically to his father and asks for what he wants. We know of course, the wise father either withholds temporarily or tells the child why he cannot have this thing that he wants. I would like to give a little illustration to you. I knew a woman in Canada, who told me that when her eldest daughter was preparing to marry a sea captain, she called him to one side and told him a little story about her daughter at the age of 11. It appears that one Monday evening, the mother said to this little girl, “Shall I hear you say your prayers?” And she said, “Oh, no mother. I’m not going to pray anymore.” And she said, “Why Vito? What do you mean?”, “Oh ...” She said, “... at Sunday school yesterday, they told us that you could have whatever you wanted If you prayed for it.”, “Well, isn’t that all right?”, “Oh yes, but mother, I want a baby so much. And I put my arm on the pillow last night and made place to the baby. And when I woke up this morning, there wasn’t one.”
And of course it became the part of the mother to explain to the child that it would be very uncomfortable to have a baby suddenly appear in the home. She explained to the child that everything came in divine order, even the things that we wanted from God. About 11 months after the wedding of this sea captain and this girl, the captain had to leave his wife at Buenos Aires in South America while he continued on one of his trips, as she was about to have a baby. He returned in about five days, and his little daughter had been born. However, when he came to the hospital room, he merely opened the door, looked at his wife and said, “Aren’t you glad you didn’t have the baby when you’re 11 years old?” Do we have to beseech God for the fulfillment of our desires? No. But we still have to know that there is a divinely ordered plan for our life. Sometimes when we have the feeling we must beseech, it is a fear that we won’t get this thing exactly when we want it.
Like the little girl in the story, there is an orderly way for all things. If we can hold on to the idea that God will give us whatever is needed to fulfill our life at the right time, and in the right place, there is no thought of beseeching. We say to God, “Father, I give thanks, that this that I feel I need is coming to me in divine order.” Also, many a teacher has reminded the students that very often that which we want, is not nearly as good as that which God desires for us. We read in the chapter, nothing can hinder Him except our own lack of understanding. It spoke about the sun shining ever so brightly, but if we through ignorance had placed ourselves in a dark place, in other words, we could neither get joy nor comfort from the shining of the sun. God is constant. God is everywhere, even the present. And so we go on to the second part of this question, “Does God change?” Well, God couldn’t change. We’ve already said that He’s omnipresent.
We’ve already said that He is the changeless principle upon which all creation is established. If God were to change, there would be nothing that we could depend upon. We see the growth in the spring, we see the seasons change, we see the great advancements that man has made in his world. And yet we know that back of each one has to be a changeless principle, and the author of that changeless principal has to be God. God being Spirit interpenetrates all of creation at the level of its own intelligence. Many times, we wonder about the perfection that seems to be of nature’s unfoldment into its own purposes. But back of it all is this changeless principle that we call God. Those who do not want to accept God as the principle of good, or do not want to accept God as the one Creator, still have to explain the perfection of the instinct of birds, and animals, and reptiles, the perfection of the growing of plants and trees. It is one of the most remarkable things to realize that things will grow in spite of calendars and in spite of man.
Somehow, everything in the universe responds to light, and we have come to realize that God is this source of all light. If this light were to change, we would have nothing upon which to build our own lives. Even so simple a thing as mathematics should be a kind of an illustration to us of the unchangeableness of God. Think how disastrous it would be if today we could say, two plus two equals four, but we weren’t certain that tomorrow, two plus two would equal four. Suppose it were possible for us to say, spring will follow winter today, but we weren’t sure in a year from now that that was possible. It’s an amazing thing how we have come to accept the laws of nature, but very often we forget that the laws of nature are nothing more or less than the laws of God expressed through His creation. God, the chapter says, is all good, always good. That means changeless. Always love.
He never changes no matter what we do or may have done. He has always tried to pour more of Himself through us into visibility so as to make us grander, larger, fuller, freer individuals. I think perhaps the next paragraph is almost in the form of a prayer, “While the child is crying out for his Father, mother God, The Father mother is yearning with infinite tenderness to satisfy the child.” In the heart of man, a cry in the heart of God supply.