The Only Two Denials That Really Matter (the ones we too often ignore)
Hi Friends -
This is part three of the series on Lessons in Truth, given here as a Sunday blog post and given as the lesson this Sunday morning at Unity Center of Christianity in Baltimore. I am grateful for the opportunity to share this lesson with my spiritual family in The Charm City.
Chapter One of the original edition of Lessons in Truth is subtitled Who and What God Is; Who and What Man Is. It’s main point is that the metaphysical meta-narrative of Mind—Idea—Expression explains how we may claim that divinity pervades all nature and humanity, thereby bridging God and man.
Chapter Two is entitled Thinking, and it, too, bridges God and Man. It does so through our understanding of our three-fold nature of Spirit, Soul and Body. Thinking, our main spiritual discipline, is about building an awareness of God-Mind providing divine ideas to our Spirit within, which are assimilated by a receptive and responsive soul and then radiated outward through our bodies.
Chapter Three, the subject of this lesson, is about Denials. Now most of us understand that denials is not about denying negative conditions or circumstances. Rather, most of us believe that denials are about denying in consciousness a negative experience of conditions or circumstances. But if we read the text of this chapter, we will discover that is not what she has to say.
In fact, Chapter Three also bridges God and Man. Read it closely. You will see that Emilie Cady doesn’t talk much about conditions or circumstances at all. What she says, time and again throughout the chapter, is “the first step toward freeing ourselves from our troubles is to get rid of our erroneous beliefs about God and about ourselves.”
For Emilie Cady, the only two denials that really matter are denying the false God and denying the false self. Denying the experience of negative conditions and circumstances is secondary. Let me explain why this is so important.
Back in May, I put out How Unity has taught Metaphysics, a post that defended the idea that God is as much a presence as a principle. I got many replies, for which I am always thankful. But one reply from a Unity minister was especially insightful. He wrote,
“For years I too have been astounded as to how some Unity teachers can be all about God as Principle only, and suggest that anything else means a person is suffering from an old anthropomorphic illusion of God. No, they are most probably still running away from their unresolved and unconscious religious abuse of their past, and thus not wanting to talk about Jesus or the Bible or the ’Thou’ aspect of God... I see it not just as a possibly unconscious keeping God at a a safe distance where “he” can’t abuse me anymore (Patriarchal abuse), but also as just a personal place in one’s history that’s filled with shame and abuse, and so ‘I don’t want to go back’ there. It could be throwing the baby out with the bathwater, so Jesus goes, even though he truly taught only love, not all the other add on dogma of died for your sins cause you’re a worm of the earth, etc.”
So much for the false God. As for denying the false self, I would only point to studies that are all around us.
- Begin with the well-known work of Brené Brown and her understanding of the connection of body image and shame, particularly among women, but also among men, like me, who struggle with weight.
- Then there is my good friend and collaborator, Rev. Cecilia Loving, now Chief Diversity Officer for the NYFD, who has written God is a Brown Girl Too, a book of healing and self-empowerment for women of color.
- Finally, The Boy Crisis; Why Our Boys are Struggling and What We Can Do About It, by Warren Farrell and John Gray, which highlights why the increase in suicides among white males has led to as many white male’s lives lost to suicide as have been lost to AIDS.
So there we have it. Far too many of us find ourselves with a toxic sense of God and a toxic sense of our bodies. And Emilie Cady says “the first step toward freeing ourselves from our troubles is to get rid of our erroneous beliefs about God and about ourselves.”
Let’s get real when we teach Lessons in Truth. And I’m not talking about psychological talk about the Ego nor philosophical talk about whether life is an illusion. I’m referring to persistent life issues that threaten our health and prosperity.
Emilie Cady offers four denial statements that grant great power. For the first two, I want to append something the end (in parenthesis):
There is no evil (in me).
There is no absence of life, substance, or intelligence anywhere (in me).
If we can truly use Thinking to build a consciousness of no evil in me and no absence of life, substance or intelligence in me then we may convey to culture a message of empowerment we heard from Aretha Franklin many years ago,
You better think (think) think about what you're trying to do to me
Yeah, think (think, think), let your mind go, let yourself be free
People walking around everyday, playing games, taking scores
Trying to make other people lose their minds.
Well be careful, you're gonna lose yours.
Yeah, think (think) think about what you're trying to do to me
Yeah, think (think, think), let your mind go, let yourself be free
You need me (need me) and I need you (don't you know)
Without each other there ain't nothing we can do
Oh freedom (freedom), freedom (freedom), freedom, yeah freedom
Freedom (freedom), freedom (freedom), freedom, ooh freedom
Do we want liberty or bondage? We need to Think.
Sunday, July 21, 2019
Lesson 3 — Denials
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, if any man will come after me let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”—Matt. 16:24.
1. All systems for spiritualizing the mind include much denial. Every religion in all the ages has had some sort of denial as one of its foundations.
We all know how the Puritans believed that the more rigidly they denied themselves any comfort the better they pleased God. So far has this idea taken possession of the human mind during some ages, that devout souls have even tortured their bodies in various ways, believing that they were thus making themselves more spiritual, or at least were in some way placating an angry God. Even today most people interpret the above saying of Jesus as meaning, if any man wants to please God he must give up about all the enjoyment and comfort he has, all the things he likes and wants, and must take up the heavy cross of constantly doing the things which are repugnant to him in his daily life. This is why many young people say “When I am old I will be a Christian, but not now, for I want to enjoy life awhile first.”
2. There could, I am sure, be nothing further from the meaning of the Nazarene than the above interpretation. In our ignorance of the nature of God our Father and of our relation to Him, we have believed that all our enjoyment came from external sources, usually from gaining possession of something we did not have. The poor see enjoyment only in possessing abundance of money. The rich, who are satiated with life’s so-called pleasures until their lives have become like a person with an over loaded stomach compelled to sit constantly at a well spread table, are often the most bitter in the complaint that life holds no happiness for them. The sick one believes if he were well he would be perfectly happy. The healthy but hard working man or woman feels the need of some days of rest and recreation, that the monotony of his or her life may be broken.
3. So ever the mind has been turned to some external change of condition or circumstance in pursuit of satisfaction and enjoyment. In after years when men have tried all, getting first this thing and then that which they thought would yield them happiness and have been grievously disappointed, they, in a kind of desperation, turn to God and try to find some sort of comfort in believing that sometime, somewhere, they will get what they want and be happy. Thenceforth their lives are patient and submissive but they are destitue of any real joy.
4. This same Nazarene, to whom we always go back because to us he is the best known teacher and demonstrator of truth, spent nearly three years teaching the people—the common, everyday people like you and me who wanted just as we do, food and rent and clothing, money, friends and love—to love their enemies and do good to those who persecuted them; to resist not evil in any way, but to give double to any one who tried to get away what belongs to them; to cease from all anxiety regarding the things they needed, because “Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.” (Matt. 6:32)
And then in talking one day he said, “These things have I told you that my joy might be in you and your joy may be full.” (John 15:11) And another day he said “whatever you may ask the Father in my name He will give it you. Ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” And again “I do not say that I will entreat the Father for you, for the Father himself loves you.” (John 16:24, 26-27) We have further learned that God is the sum total of all the good in the universe, and that there is in the Mind which is God a perpetual desire to pour more of Himself—the substance of all good things—through us into visibility or into our lives.
5. Surely all these things do not look as though, when Jesus said that the way to be like him and possess like powers was to deny yourself, he meant we were to go without the enjoyable comforts of life, or in anyway deprive or torture ourselves.
6. In these lessons we have seen that besides the real innermost Self of each of us—the Self spelled with a capital S, because It is an expression or pressing out of God into visibility and is always one with the Father—there is a mortal self, a carnal mind which reports lies from the external world and is not to be relied upon at all. This is the self of which Jesus spoke when he said, “deny yourself.” (Matt. 16:24) This intellect man, carnal mind, mortal mind or whatever you choose to call him, is envious and jealous and fretful and sick because he is selfish. This mortal self is always seeking its own gratification at the expense if need be of some one else.
7. The Self of you is never sick, never afraid, never selfish. It is the part of every man which “seeketh not his own, is not puffed up, thinketh no evil.” (I Cor. 13:5) It is always seeking to give to others, while the self is always seeking her own. Heretofore we have lived in the self region. We have believed all that this false mind has told us, and the consequence is we have been overwhelmed with all kinds of privation and suffering.
8. Some people who have, during the last few years, been making a special study of the mind, have found it a fact that certain wrong or false beliefs held by us are really the causes of all sorts of trouble, physical, moral and financial.1 They have learned that wrong,—or as they call them, error beliefs arise only in the carnal or mortal mind. And they have learned and actually proven that we can by a persistent effort of the will change our beliefs, and by this means alone, entirely change our troublesome circumstances and bodily conditions.
9. One of the methods which they have found will work every time in getting rid of troublesome conditions—which are all the result of believing the lies told us by the carnal mind, the senses—is to deny them in toto. First to deny that any such things have or could have power to make us unhappy; second to deny that these things do in reality exist at all.
10. The word deny has two definitions according to Webster. To deny, in one sense, is to withhold from,—as to deny bread to the hungry. To deny, in another sense (and we believe it was in this latter way that Jesus used it) is to declare not to he true.—to repudiate as utterly false. To deny one’s self then is not to withhold comfort or happiness from the external man—much less to inflict torture upon it,—but it is to deny the claims of this false self called “mortal mind;” to declare these claims to be untrue.
11. If you have done any piece of work wrong the very first step toward getting it right is to undo the wrong; to erase from the slate as far as possible the wrong figures you have made, and begin again from the foundation. We have believed wrong about God and about ourselves. We have believed that God was angry with us, and that we were, at the best, great sinners who ought to be—and most of us are—afraid of Him. We have believed that sickness and poverty and trouble were evil things put here by this same God just to in some way torture us into serving Him and loving Him. We have believed that we have pleased God best when we became so absolutely paralyzed by our troubles as to be patiently submissive to them all and not even try to rise out of them or overcome them. All false, entirely false! And the first step toward freeing ourselves from our troubles is to get rid of our erroneous beliefs about God and about ourselves.
12. “But,” objects one, “If a thing is not so, and I have believed a lie about it I do not see just how my believing wrong about it could affect my bodily health or my circumstances.”
13. A child can be so afraid of an imaginary bugaboo under the bed as to have convulsions or become insane. Should you today receive a telegraphic message that your husband, wife or child who is away from you had been suddenly killed, your suffering, mental and physical—and perhaps extending even to your external and financial affairs—would be just as great as though it were really true. And yet the report may have been entirely false. Exactly so have these messages of bugaboo behind the doors, bugaboos of Divine wrath and of our own weakness, come to us through the senses until we are paralyzed by our fears of them.
14. Now let us arouse ourselves. Denial is the first practical step toward wiping out of our minds the mistaken beliefs of a lifetime; the beliefs which have made such sad havoc in our lives. By denial we mean declaring a thing which seems true not to be true. Appearances are directly opposed to the teachings of truth or Science. Jesus said “Judge not according to appearance but judge righteous (right) judgment” (John 7:24).
15. Suppose you had always been taught that the sun really moved or revolved around the earth, and someone should now try to persuade you that the opposite was the truth. You would see at a glance that such might be the case; and yet as often as you saw the sun rise the old impression made on your mind by the wrong belief of years would come up and seem almost too real to be disputed. The only way you could cleanse your mind of the impression and make the untrue seem unreal would be by repeatedly denying the old belief; saying over and over to yourself as often as the subject came up in your mind, “This is not true, the sun does not move. It stands still and the earth moves.” Eventually the sun would not even seem to move.
16. The appearances are that our bodies and our circumstances control our thoughts, but Science says directly the reverse.
17. If you repeatedly deny a false or unhappy condition it not only loses its power to make you unhappy but eventually the condition itself is destroyed by your denial.
18. What everyone desires is to have only the good manifested in his life and surroundings; to have his life full of love, to have perfect health, to know all things, to have great power and much joy. And this is just exactly what God wants us to have. All love is God in manifestation, as we have learned in a previous lesson. All wisdom is God. All life and health is God. All joy (because all good) and all power are God. All good of whatever kind is God come forth into visibility through people or some other visible form. When we crave more of any good thing we are in reality craving more of God to come forth into our lives, so that we can realize it by the senses. Having more of God does not take out of our lives the good things. It only puts more of them in. In the Mind which is God there is always the desire to give more, for the Divine impulse is forever to get more of Itself into visibility.
19. Intellectually we may see the fact of our own God-being which never changes. What we need is to realize our oneness with the Father at all times. In order to realize it we deny the appearances in ourselves and others which seem contrary to this. Deny them as realities. Declare they are not true.
20. There are four or five great error thoughts which nearly everyone holds, and which the people who have grown out of sickness and trouble by these means have found it good for all people to deny, in order to cleanse the mind of the direful effects of believing them. They are something like this:
21. 1st. There is no evil.
22. There is but one power in the universe and that is God—good. God is all good and God is omnipresent. Apparent evils are not entitles or things of themselves. They are simply an absence of the good, just as darkness is an absence of light. But God (or good) is omnipresent, so the apparent absence of good (or evil) is unreal. It is only an appearance of evil just as the moving sun was an appearance. You need not wait to discuss this matter of evil or to fully understand all about why you deny it, but just begin to practice the denials in an unprejudiced way and see how marvelously it will, after a little, deliver you from some of the so-called evils of your daily life.
23. 2nd. There is no reality, life or intelligence in matter. 2
24. We have seen that the Real is the spiritual. “The things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (II Cor. 4:18) By using this denial you will soon break the bondage you are in, to matter and to material conditions. You will know you are free.
25. 3rd. Pain, sickness, poverty, old age and death cannot master me, for they are not real.
26. 4th. There is nothing in all the universe for me to fear, for greater is He that is within me than he that is in the world.
27. God says “I will contend with him that contendeth against thee.” (Isa. 49:25 He says it to every living child of His; and every person in His child.
28. Repeat these four denials silently several times a day, not with a strained anxiety to get something out of them, but trying calmly to realize the meaning of the words spoken.
29. There is no evil (or devil).
30. There is no reality, life or intelligence in matter.
31. Pain, sickness, poverty, old age and death are not real and have no power over me.
32. There is nothing in all the universe for me to fear.
33. Almost hourly little vexations and fears come up in your life. Meet each one with a denial. Calmly and coolly say within yourself, “That’s nothing at all. It cannot harm or disturb me or make me unhappy.” Do not vigorously fight it but let your denial be the denial of superiority to it, as you would deny the power of ants on their little hill to disturb you. Tf you are angry, stand still and silently deny it. Say you are not angry; you are Love made manifest and cannot be angry; it is not true, etc., and the anger will suddenly leave you entirely.
34. If some one shows you ill will, silently deny their power to hurt you or make you unhappy. Should you find yourself feeling jealously or envy towards any one, instantly turn the heel of negation on the hyra-headed monster. Declare you are not jealous; that you are an expression of Perfect Love (which expression is God pressed out into visibility) and cannot feel jealousy. There is really nothing and no one to be jealous of, for all people are one and the same Spirit. “And there are diversities of operations, (or manifestations) but it is the same God which worketh all in all,” says St. Paul. (I Cor. 12:6) How can you be jealous of another part of yourself which seems to you “more comely?”
35. Shall the foot be jealous of the hand, or the ear of the eye? Are not the seemingly feeble members of the body just as important to the perfection of the whole as the others? Do you seem to be less or have less than some others? Remember that all envy and jealousy is in the false or mortal mind, and that in reality you, however insignificant, are an absolute necessity to God, in order to make the perfect whole.
36. If you find yourself dreading to meet any one, or afraid to step out and do what you want or ought to do, immediately begin to say “It is not true, I am not afraid; I am Perfect Love and can know no fear. No one, nothing in all the universe can hurt me.” You will find after a little that all the fear has disappeared, all trepidation is gone.
37. Denials bring freedom from bondage. And happiness comes when we can effectually deny the power of things to touch or trouble us.
38. Have you been living in the negations for years, denying your ability to succeed, denying your health, denying your God-hood by feeling yourself a child of the devil or of weakness, denying your power to accomplish anything? If so, this constant negation has paralyzed you and destroyed your power.
39. When, in the next lesson, you learn something about affirmations—the opposite of negations—you will know how to lift yourself out of the realm of failure into that of success.
40. All your happiness, all your health and power, come from God. They flow in an unbroken stream from the Fountain Head into the very centre of your being and radiate from centre to circumference, or to the senses. When you acknowledge this constantly and deny that outside things can hinder your happiness or health or power, it helps the sense nature to realize health and power and happiness.
41. No person or thing in the universe, no chain of circumstances can, by any possibility, interpose itself between you and all joy, all good. You may falsely think that something stands between you and your heart’s desire, and so go through life here with that desire unfulfilled; but it is not true. This “think” is the bugaboo under the bed that has no reality. Deny it, deny it, and you will find yourself, free and soon will realize that this seeming was all false. Good will begin to flow in to you and you will see clearly that nothing can stand between you and your own.
42. Of course the denials, all of them, are to be said in your own mind, not openly to call forth antagonism and discussion.
43. To some, all this sort of mechanical working will seem a strange way of entering into a more spiritual life. There are those who easily and naturally glide out of the old material life into a deeper spiritual one without any external helps. But there are also thousands of people hungering to-day for a higher life, and thousands of others who are seeking primarily the loaves and fishes of bodily health and financial success, but really are just the same seeking a higher life, who must needs take the very first steps. For such, practicing these mechanical rules in a whole-hearted way, without prejudice, is doing the very best thing possible toward purity of heart and life, toward growth in Divine knowledge, and fullness of joy in all things undertaken.
- Emilie Cady does not identify who these people who are making the special study, but it is likely Phineas Parkhurst Quimby or Mary Baker Eddy.
- This second denial as originally written here is obviously a direct contradiction to Unity's foundational teaching. It is not known when later editions of Lessons in Truth changed it to “There is no absence of life, substance, or intelligence anywhere.”