The Most Important Spiritual Discipline in Unity (It's not prayer)
Hi Friends -
The title of chapter two of the original edition of Lessons in Truth is “Thinking.” Affirmations and Denials come after Thinking, as does Faith, The Secret Place, Finding the Secret Place, Spiritual Gifts, and Unity of the Spirit.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the most important spiritual discipline in Unity is not prayer. Thinking is Unity’s most important spiritual discipline. Without thinking, at least as Emilie Cady explains it, there is no prayer; neither is there faith, gifts nor unity.
I want to bring this out because thinking has got a bad rap today, at least in much of what comes out of Unity. Several years ago I wrote about “a drift to domination of the heart.” I wrote “We live in a time where the analytical capacity of the head is all too often branded and depreciated as ego and the body is construed as an illusion of that ego. In many ways, New Thought has lost its grounding of the mind, which is body and soul, to a small part of the soul, known as the subconscious and felt as the heart. We need to rebalance the conversation.”
Many in today’s culture, especially boomers, want their math and their metaphysics to be heart-felt. That’s fine. But let’s also acknowledge that, at least among the millennial generation, many, if not most, are exploring science and technology in the same way that Charles Fillmore did so many years ago.
Perhaps when millennials reach the same age as our present boomer generation they will discover that their spiritual unfoldment had been more influenced by their creative algorithms and entrepreneurial breakthroughs than by silent soul searching. It just may be that not only has religion been disrupted, but so is spirituality being disrupted as well. And it's being disrupted by Thinking.
I don’t know. But I do know that Emilie Cady placed Thinking as chapter two of Lessons in Truth. And we need to reckon with that.
A statement from Charles Fillmore can provide the key to understanding Emilie Cady’s chapter on Thinking. He said that “Thought is the movement of ideas in mind.” Another key is a statement by Emerson that is quoted so often in Unity, “Man is an inlet and may become an outlet to all there is in God.” All there is in God that comes to us are ideas—Divine Ideas (which millennials love)—and they come though the mind (which the millennials also love). Thinking, according to Charles Fillmore, is the process by which we bring them forth into expression (which is what millennials really want to do).
The bottom line is that Metaphysical Christianity is about Mind—Idea—Expression. That is our spiritual discipline. We do that—not by morality, nor by love, nor compassion, nor mindfulness, nor by justice—but by Thinking.
This essay on Thinking by Emilie Cady has a subtle but perceivable three-part structure: (1) Open your mind to Spirit, (2) Go Alone—Stop reading many books and (3) Radiate what you ideate. Her message is clear to all who take time to read closely:
- Creative ideas that bring solutions and pleasure in life are plentiful and free to all.
- Our job, as thinkers, is to move these ideas through our mind into expresson, dressing them with unique qualities that can only be got not from others but rather from our own individual character.
- Thinking is never complete until there is expression—we must radiate what we ideate.
That is our religion. That is our spirituality. It just may be that Lessons in Truth will disrupt religion and spirituality in the 21st century as it did 125 years ago.
Sunday, July 14, 2019
Lesson 2 — Thinking
1. We learned in the first lesson that the Real Substance within everything we see is God; that all things are one and the same Spirit in different degrees of manifestation; that all the various forms of life are just the same one Life come forth out of the invisible into visible forms; that all the intelligence and wisdom there is in the world is God as Wisdom in various degrees of manifestation; that all the love which people feel and express to others is just a little—so to speak—of God as Love come into visibility through the human form.
2. Now when we say there is but One Mind in the entire universe, and that this is the Mind which is God, some persons having followed understandingly the first lesson, and recognized God as the One Life, One Spirit, One Power pushing Itself out into various degrees of manifestation through people and things, will at once say, “Yes, that is all plain.”
3. But some one else will say “If all the mind there is is God then how can I think wrong thoughts or any but God thoughts?”
4. The connection between the Universal Mind and our own individual minds is one of the most difficult things to put into words, but when it once dawns upon one it is so easily seen.
5. There is in reality only One Mind (or Spirit, which is Life, Intelligence, etc.,) in the universe; and yet there is a sense in which we are individual or separate,—a sense in which we are free wills and not puppets.
6. Man is made up of Spirit, soul and body. Spirit is the central unchanging I of us, the part which since infancy has never changed and to all eternity never will change. Soul, or what by Christian Scientists is called “Mortal Mind,” is the region of the intellect where we do conscious thinking and are free wills. This part of our being is in constant process of changing.
7. In our descent—or outspringing—from God into the material world, spirit is inner, next to God; soul or “Mortal Mind” or intellect, is the clothing, as it were, of the spirit; body is yet the external clothing of soul. And yet, all are in reality one—which makes up the man—as steam at the centre, water next, and ice as an external—all one, only in different degrees of condensation. In thinking of ourselves we must not separate spirit, soul and body, but rather hold all as one if we would be strong and powerful. Man originally lived consciously in the spiritual part of himself. He fell by descending in his consciousness to the external or more material part of himself.
8. Mortal Mind, the term so much used and so distracting to many, is the intellect, the conscious part of us which gathers its information through the five senses from the outside world. This mortal mind has no way of knowing truth from falsehood. It is what Paul calls “carnal mind,” in contradistinction to spiritual mind; and he flatly says “To be carnally minded” (or to believe what the carnal mind says) “is death,” (sorrow, trouble, sickness); “but to be spiritually minded” (». e., to be able to still the carnal mind and let the spirit speak within us) “is life and peace.” (Rom. 8:6)
9. The Spirit within you is the Divine Mind, the Real Mind, for without it the mortal mind disappears just as a shadow (which, looks so very real) disappears when the real thing which casts it is removed. Man then, is Spiritual Mind, carnal or mortal mind, and body.
10. If you find this subject of Mortal Mind and Universal Mind puzzles you, do not worry over it and above all things do not discuss it; but just drop it for a time, and as you go on with the lessons you will find that some day it will all flash suddenly upon you with perfect clearness.
11. There are today two classes of people, as far as mentality goes, who are seeking deliverance out of their sickness, trouble and unhappiness through spiritual means. One class requires that every statement made be proven by the most elaborate and logical argument before they can or will receive it. The other class is willing at once to “become as a little child” and just be taught how to take the first steps toward pure understanding (or knowledge of truth as God sees it), and then receive the light by direct revelation from the Good. Both are seeking and eventually will reach the same goal; and neither is to be condemned.
12. If you are one who seeks and expects to get any realizing knowledge of spiritual things through argument or reasoning, no matter how scholarly your attainments or how great you are in worldly wisdom, you are a failure in spiritual understanding. You are attempting an utter impossibility,—that of crowding the Infinite into the quart measure of your own intellectual capacity.
13. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them for they are spiritually discerned.” (I Cor. 2:14) Eventually you will find that you are only beating all around on the outside of the “kingdom of heaven”—though in close proximity to it—and you will then become willing to let your intellect take the place of the “little child,” without which no man can enter in.
14. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath “(not will)” prepared for them that love Him.”
15. “But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit.”
16. “For what man knoweth the things of a man save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” (I Cor. 2:9-11)
17. For all those who must wade through months and perhaps years of this purely intellectual or mental process there are today many books to help and many purely metaphysical teachers who are doing noble and praiseworthy work in piloting these earnest seekers after truth and satisfaction. To them we cry all speed.
18. But we, believing with Paul that “the foolishness of God is wiser than men,” and that each soul has direct access to all there is in God, are writing for the “little children” who are willing at once without question or discussion to accept and try a few plain, simple rules, such as Jesus taught the common people who heard him gladly, rules by which they can find the Christ (or Divine) within themselves and through It each man for himself, work out his own salvation from all his troubles.
19. 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. Our advice is, if you want to make rapid progress in growth toward spiritual understanding, stop reading many books. They only give you someone’s opinion about truth, or are a sort of history of the author’s experience in seeking truth. What you want is revelation of truth in your own soul; and that will never come through the reading of many books.
20. Do not even discuss these lessons with others. Go alone. Think alone. Seek light alone; and if it 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 only get the opinion of their intellect (false mind) and may be then further away from the truth you are seeking than ever before; for the carnal or mortal mind makes false reports.
21. The very Spirit of Truth is at your call, within you. “The anointing you have received abideth in you.” Seek It. Wait patiently for It to “guide you into all truth about all things.”
22. “Let this Mind which was also in Christ be in you.” (Phil. 2:5) This is the “Universal Mind which makes no mistakes. Still the intellect for the time being, and let It speak to you. And when It speaks, though it be but a “still small voice,” you will know what It says is truth.
23. How will you know?
You will know just as you know you are alive. All the argument in the world to convince you against truth which comes to you through direct revelation will fall flat and harmless at your side. And the truth which you know—not simply believe—you can use to help others. That which comes forth through your spirit will reach the very innermost spirit of him to whom you speak.
24. What is born from the outside of intellectual perception, only reaches the intellect of him you would help.
25. The intellect or false mind which is servant to the Real Mind and as servant (but not as Master) is good, loves to argue; but as its information is based on the evidence of the senses (belonging to the body) and not on the true thoughts of the Divine Mind in us, it is very fallible and full of error.
26. Intellect argues. Spirit takes of the deep things of God and reveals. One may be true. The other always is true. Spirit does not give opinions about truth. It is truth, and reveals Itself.
27. Some one has truly said that the merest child who has learned from the depth of his soul to say, “Our Father,” is infinitely greater than the most intellectual man who has not yet learned it. Paul was a man of gigantic intellect, learned in all the law, a Pharisee of the Pharisees, but after he was spiritually illumined he wrote “The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (I Cor. 1:25)
28. Now, it does make a great difference in our daily lives what we as “mortal minds” think about God, about ourselves, about our neighbors. Heretofore through ignorance of our real selves and of the results of our thinking we have let our thoughts flow out at random. Our minds have been turned toward the external of our being, our body, and nearly all our information we have gotten through its five senses. We have thought wrong because misinformed by these senses, and our troubles and sorrows are the results of our wrong thinking.
29. “But,” says someone, “I do not see how my thinking evil or wrong thoughts about God or about anyone can make me sick, or my husband lose his position.”
30. Well, I will not, just now, try to explain all the mental machinery by which bad results follow false thinking; but I will just ask you to try thinking true, right thoughts awhile and see what the result will be.
31. Take the thought, “God loves me and approves of what I do.” Think these words over and over continually for a few days, trying to realize that they are true; and see what the effect will be on your body and circumstances.
32. First you get a new exhilaration of mind with a great desire and a sense of power to please God; then a quicker, better circulation of blood, with sense of pleasant warmth in body, followed by better digestion, etc. Later as the truth flows out through your being into your surroundings everybody will begin to manifest a new love for you without your knowing why; and finally circumstances will begin to change and fall into harmony with your desires instead of being adverse to them.
33. Everyone knows how strong thoughts of fear or grief have turned hair white in a few hours; how great fear makes the heart beat so rapidly as to seem about to “jump out of the body;” this result not being at all dependent upon whether there is any real cause for fear or it be a purely imaginary cause. Just so, strong thoughts of criticism will render the blood acid, causing rheumatism. Bearing mental burdens makes more stooped shoulders than does bearing heavy material loads. Believing that God regards us as “miserable sinners,” that He is continually watching us and our failures with disapproval, brings utter discouragement and a sort of half paralyzed condition of mind and body which means failure in all our undertakings.
34. 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 upon ourselves?
35. Well, we are not automatons. Your child will never learn to walk alone if you always do his walking. Because you recognize that the only way for him to be strong, self-reliant in all things, in other words, to become a man, is to throw him upon himself and let him, through experience, come to a knowledge of things for himself, you are not willing to make a mere puppet of him by taking the steps for him, even though you know he will fall down many a time and give himself severe bumps, in the ongoing toward perfect physical manhood.
36. We are in process of growth from the material through the higher mental into the highest spiritual manhood and womanhood. We do get many a fall and bump on the way, but only through these—not necessarily by them—can our growth proceed. No father or mother, no matter how strong or deep their love, can grow for their children. Nor can God, who is Omnipotence, at the centre of our being, grow spiritually for us without making of us automatons instead of individuals.
37. If you keep your thoughts turned toward the external of yourself or of others you will see only the things which are not real but temporal and pass away. All the faults, failures or lacks in people or circumstances will seem very real to you, and you will be unhappy, miserable and sick.
38. If you turn your thoughts away from the external toward the spiritual and let them dwell on the good in yourself and others, all the apparent evil will first drop out of your thoughts and then out of your life. Paul understood this when he wrote to the Phillipians:
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Phil. 4:8)
39. We can each learn how to turn our conscious mind toward the Universal Mind, or the Spirit within us. We can, by practice, learn how to make this everyday, topsy-turvy, carnal mind be still—actually to stop thinking,—and the Mind which is God—All-Wisdom, All-Love—think in us and out through us.
40. Imagine if you will, a great reservoir, out of which leads innumerable small rivulets or channels. At its farther end each channel opens out into a small fountain. This fountain is not only being continually filled and replenished from the reservoir, but is itself a radiating center from whence is given out in all directions that which it receives, so that all who come within its radius are refreshed and blessed.
41. That is exactly our relation to God. Each one of us is a radiating centre. Each one, no matter how small or ignorant, is the little fountain at the far end of the channel the other end of which opens out into all there is in God. This fountain represents our free-will or individuality as separate from the Great Reservoir, God, and yet as one with Him in that we are constantly fed and renewed from Him; and that without Him we are nothing.
42. Each one of us, no matter how insignificant we may be to the world, may receive from God unlimited good of whatever kind we desire, and radiate it to all around us. But remember, we must radiate if we would receive more. Stagnation is death.
43. O, I want the simplest mind to grasp this idea, that the very wisdom of God, the Love, the Life, the Power, which is God, is ready and waiting with longing impulse to flow out through us in unlimited degree. When It flows in unusual degree through these intellects men exclaim “what a wonderful mind!” when through these hearts It is the Love which melts all bitterness, envy, selfishness, jealousy before It; when through our bodies as Life no disease can withstand its onward march.
44. We do not have to beseech God, any more than we have to beseech the sun to shine. The sun shines because it is a law of its being to shine, and it cannot help it. No more can God help pouring into us unlimited wisdom, life, power, all-good, because to give is a law of His being. Nothing can hinder Him except our own free will. The sun may shine ever so brightly, but if we have through willfulness or ignorance placed ourselves or been placed by our progenitors, in the far corner of a damp, dark cellar we do not get either joy or comfort from its shining. Then, to us, the sun never shines.
45. So we have heretofore known nothing of how to get ourselves out of the cellar of ignorance, doubt and despair; and, to our wrong thinking, God has seemed to withhold the life, wisdom, power, we wanted so much, though we besought Him never so earnestly
46. The sun does not radiate life and warmth today, and darkness and chill tomorrow. It cannot from the nature of its being.
Nor does God radiate love at one time, while at others anger, wrath and displeasure flow out from Him toward us.
47. “Doth a fountain send forth at the same time sweet-water and bitter?” “Can the fig-tree bear olive berries? Or a vine figs?”
48. God is all good, always good, always love. He never changes—no matter what we do or may have done. He is always trying to pour more of Himself through us into visibility, so as to make us grander, larger, fuller, freer individuals.
49. While the child is crying out for its 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.”
50. There is but One Mind in the universe.
51. Mortal mind is false mind or intellect. It gathers its information and speaks from without; Universal Mind sees and speaks from within.
52. Intellect is the servant of Spirit. Body is the servant of intellect.
53. Our ways of thinking make our happiness or unhappiness, our success or non-success. We can by effort change our ways of thinking.
54. God is at all times, regardless of our so-called sins, trying to pour more of good into our lives, to make them larger and more successful.