How to be Born Again, Metaphysically
Hi Friends -
Emilie Cady’s essay on Spiritual Understanding, the seventh essay in her 1895 series for Unity magazine, describes what must happen for us to experience our life spiritually. The process begins with a high level of intellectual understanding, symbolized by John the Baptist and his baptism of water. High intellectual understanding is experienced as a belief in spiritual matters and a sense of the presence of God. But intellectual understanding does not bring happiness because we still believe that we are cut off from God. We have a hunger for the “deep things of God” and we seek to “obtain full understanding” by reading too many books and spending far too much time in introspection.
But spiritual understanding cannot be obtained. It is only revealed, by God, to those who have an “understanding heart” because they have experienced a new, spiritual birth and have a “consciousness of the ever abiding inner Presence.” I know that is a packed sentence. But know that each phrase of that sentence is repeated several times in this essay. Emilie Cady speaks of a “consciousness of an inner abiding Presence” at least sixteen times. It is, for her, the essential factor in experiencing life spiritually.
She writes, “The very Spirit of Truth which has come to abide with you forever,—in your consciousness—takes of the deep things of God and reveals them unto you. You no longer feel like running to and fro to teachers or healers however efficient and good they may be. You know that the Living Light, the Living Word within you will guide you into all truth.” For Emilie Cady, being born again metaphysically is a “consciousness of oneness with the Father.” Without a consciousness of oneness with God we do not pass go and we do not collect $200.
Sometimes I will ask congregants a trick question. The question is “When a baby is born, what is the first thing the baby must do?” Typically the answers will be “breathe or cry.” But, spiritually, the first thing a baby must do is to bond. The baby must ask “to whom do I go to get my needs met?” And we know that if the baby does not bond then life for that baby will always be difficult. But for the baby who bonds, who knows that a loving parent is present, that there is someone who loves and cares, life is good.
That God is present, that God is Presence, that we are one with our Father-Mother God in a personal way is the foundational Truth of spiritual understanding and is the basis for spiritual living.
As with the new born baby, so it is with the new born Christian. We are not born in sin, we are born in bondedness. That is spiritual understanding.
Sunday, September 15, 2019
Lesson 7 — Spiritual Understanding or Realization
Happy is the man that findeth wisdom and the man that getteth Understanding:
For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver; and the gain thereof than fine gold.
She is more precious than rubies; and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared with her.
Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand, riches and honor.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her; and happy is everyone that retaineth her.”
With all thy getting get Understanding.
— Proverbs of Solomon (Prov 3:13-18).
1. What is this Understanding upon the getting of which depends so much? Is it intellectual lore gotten from delving deep into books of other men’s making? Is it knowledge obtained from studying rocks—Geology,—or stars—Astronomy, or even the human body—Physiology? Nay, verily, for when did such knowledge ever insure life and health and peace, ways of pleasantries with riches and honor?
2. Understanding is a spiritual birth, a revelation of God within the human soul. Jesus touched the root of the matter when, after having asked the disciples a certain question which was answered variously according to the intellectual perception of the men, one, Peter, gave him a reply not based at all upon external reasoning but upon intuition. He said to Peter “Blessed art thou Simon-Barjona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee but my Father which is in heaven.”
3. You may have an intellectual perception of the truth. You may easily grasp with the mind the statement that God is the Giver of all good gifts,—life, health, love,—just as people have, for centuries grasped it. Or you may go further and intellectually see that God is not only the Giver but the Gift itself; that He is Life, Health, Love in us. But unless it be “revealed unto thee by my Father which is in heaven” it is of no practical benefit to you or to anyone else.
4. This revelation of truth to the consciousness of a person is Spiritual Understanding.
5. You may say to yourself or another may say silently to you, over and over again, that you are well and wise and happy. On the plane of mortal mind or intellect a certain “cure” is effected and for a time you will feel well and wise and happy. This is simply hypnotism or mind cure. But until down in the depths of your soul, you are conscious of your oneness with the Father; until you know within yourself that the spring of all wisdom and health and joy is within your own being, ready at any moment to spring forth at the call of your need, you have not Understanding.
6. All the teachings of Jesus were for the purpose of leading men up to this consciousness of their oneness with the Father. He had to begin at the external man—because people then as now were living mostly in external things,—and teach him to love his enemies, to do good to others, etc. These were external steps for them to take,—a sort of lopping off the ends of the branches—but they were steps which led on up to the place of desire and attainment where finally the Master could tell them some of the “many things” which previously they “could not bear.”
7. He told them of the Comforter which should be in them and which should teach them all things, revealing the “deep things of God” to them and showing them things to come. In other words he told these simple worldly-ignorant men how they might find the kingdom of heaven within themselves, the kingdom of love, of power, of life.
8. The coming of the Comforter to their hearts and lives giving them power over every form of sin, sickness, sorrow and even death itself, is exactly what we mean by Understanding or Realization. The power which this consciousness of the indwelling Father gives, is as much for us today as it was for them to whom the Nazarene verbally spoke. Aye more, for did he not say “Greater works than these shall ye do?”
9. All the foregoing lessons have been just simply external stepping stones leading up to this same point; the consciousness of the ever abiding inner Presence which is to reveal to each soul the fact that it—the soul—is the tabernacle in which dwells the Most High God. “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?”
10. I cannot reveal God to you. You cannot reveal God to another. If I have learned I may tell you and you may tell another how to seek and find God, each within his own soul. But the new birth into the consciousness of our spiritual faculties and possibilities is indeed like the wind which bloweth where it listeth; thou hearest the sound thereof but canst not tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” It is a process in the silence, in the Invisible.
11. Intellectual lore can be bought and sold. Understanding or Realization cannot. A man, Simon by name, once attempted to buy the power which spiritual understanding gives, from another who possessed it. But Peter said unto him, “thy money perish with thee because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither lot nor part in this matter; for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.”
12. Neither will crying and beseeching bring spiritual Understanding. Hundreds of people have tried this method, and have gone out of this life without having received that for which they earnestly but ignorantly sought. They have not received because they did not know how to take that which God freely offered. Others have sought this spiritual understanding or consciousness of the indwelling Father with selfish motives because of the power it would give them. “Ye ask and receive not because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (or to serve selfish ends.)
13. Understanding or realization of the Presence of God within us, is as Peter said, “the gift of God.” It comes to any and all who learn how to seek it aright. Emerson says, “This Energy” (or consciousness of God in the soul) “does not descend into individual life on any other condition than entire possession. It comes to the lowly and simple; it comes to whomsoever will put off what is foreign and proud; it comes as insight; it comes as serenity and grandeur. When we see those whom it inhabits we are apprised of new degrees of greatness. From that inspiration (or consciousness) the man comes back with a changed tone. He no longer talks with men with an eye to their opinions. He is plain and true; has no rose color; no fine friends, no adventures; he does not want admiration; dwells in the hour that now is.”
14. “And ye shall seek me and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” In that day when, more than riches and honor and power and selfish glory, you shall desire spiritual Understanding, in that day will come to you the revelation of God in your own soul, and you will be conscious of the indwelling Father who is Life and Strength and Power and Peace.
15. One may so desire a partial revelation of God within him, a revelation along one line, as, for instance that of health, as to seek it with “all his heart.” And, if he has learned how to take the desired gift (by uncompromising affirmation that it is his already) he will get understanding or realization of God as his perfect health. So, with any other desired gift of God. This is a step in the right direction. It is learning how to take God by faith for whatever one desires. But in the onward growth the time will come to every soul when he will hear the Divine Voice within him saying “ Come up higher,” and he will pass beyond any merely selfish desires which are just for his own comfort’s sake. He will desire good that he may have the more to give out, knowing that as God (or Good) flows through him to others It will make him “every whit whole.”
16. In the beginning of Solomon’s reign as king over Israel the Divine Presence appeared to him in a dream at night, saying, “Ask what I shall give thee.” And Solomon said “Give thy servant an understanding heart.”
17. “And the speech pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing.
18. And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing and hast not asked for thyself long life: neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies but hast asked for thyself understanding.
19. Behold I have done according to thy word; lo, I have given thee a wise and understanding heart, so that there was none before thee like thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.
20. And I also have given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches and honor; so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.”
21. Thus in losing sight of all worldly goods and chattels, all merely selfish ends, and desiring above all things an understanding heart (or a spiritual consciousness of God within him as wisdom, life, power) Solomon received all the goods or good things included, so that “there was none among the kings like unto him in worldly possessions. “Seek ye first the kingdom (or consciousness) of God, and all these things shall be added unto you.” “For whosoever will save his life” (or the things of his life) “shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for my sake” (or he that is willing to forget the goods of this life for the truth’s sake choosing before all things the finding of God in his own soul) shall find it.”
22. When you first consciously desire Spiritual Understanding you do not attain it at once. You have been living in the external of your being and have believed yourself cut off from God. Your first step after “coming to yourself” is to “arise and go to my Father;” to turn your thoughts away from the external seeming toward the central and Real; to know intellectually that you are not cut off from God, and that He forever desires to manifest Himself within you as your present deliverance from all suffering and sin. Just as Jesus taught, we begin our journey toward understanding by cutting off the branches of our selfishness. We try to love instead of hating; we begin to forgive even if it cost us great mental effort, instead of avenging ourselves. We begin to deny envy, jealousy, anger sickness and all imperfection, and to affirm love, peace and health.
23. Begin with the words of truth which you have learned and which perhaps you have as yet only comprehended with the intellect. You must be willing to thus take the very first light you receive and use it faithfully, earnestly, both to help yourself and others. Sometimes you will be almost overcome by questions and doubts arising in your own mind when looking in vain for results. But you must with effort press past the place of doubt. And some day, in the fulness of God’s time while you are using the words of truth they will suddenly be illumined and become to you the Living Word within you; the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. You will no longer dwell in darkness, for the Light will be within your own soul; and the “Word will be made flesh” to you,—i. e. you will be conscious of a new and diviner life in your body, a new and diviner love for all people, a new and diviner power to accomplish.
24. This is Spiritual Understanding. This is a flash of the Most High God within your consciousness. Old things will have passed away. Behold all things become new. This will be the time when you “will not talk with men with an eye to their opinion.” This is when you will suddenly become plain and true; when you will cease to desire admiration; when all words of congratulation from others on your success will fill you with an inexpressible sense of humility, when all mere compliments will be to you as sounding brass and tinkling cymbal. Truly from that inspiration a man comes back with a changed tone!
25. With Spiritual Understanding comes new light on the Scriptures. The very Spirit of Truth which has come to abide with you forever,—in your consciousness—takes of the deep things of God and reveals them unto you. You no longer feel like running to and fro to teachers or healers however efficient and good they may be. You know that the Living Light, the Living Word within you will guide you into all truth.
26. O, what we need to do is to seek this revelation of the Living Christ within our own being, each for himself, knowing that only this Divinity come forth can make us grand and powerful and happy.
27. Every person in his heart desires, though he may not yet quite know it, this new birth into a higher life, into this Spiritual consciousness. Every one wants more power, more good, more joy. And though to the ignorant mind it may seem that it is more money as money, or more goods that he wants it is, nevertheless, more of good (or God) that he craves; for all good is God.
28. Many are today conscious that the inner hunger cannot be satisfied with goods, and are with all earnestness seeking this Spiritual Understanding or consciousness of an immanent God. They have been seeking long and with a great degree of unselfishness, a feeling that when they have fully found God they will begin to do for others. But, beloved friends, I believe that faithful service for others hastens the day-dawning for ourselves. The gifts of God are not given in reward for faithful service as a fond mother gives cake to her child for being good; nevertheless they are a reward in as much as that service is one of the steps which leads up to the place where all the fulness of God awaits us. And while Spiritual Understanding is in reality a “gift of God” it comes to us more or less quickly in proportion as we use the light we already have in helping others.
29. I believe that too much introspection, too much of what people usually call spiritual seeking is detrimental rather than helpful to the end desired spiritual growth. It is a sort of spiritual selfishness, paradoxical as this may seem. From the beginning to the end Jesus taught the giving out of what one already possessed to him who had none.
30. “Is not this the part that I have chosen” said the Spirit of God through the prophet Isaiah, “to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens and to let the oppressed go free?
31. Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house when thou seest the naked that thou cover him? >
32. Then shall thy light break forth as the morning and thine health shall spring forth speedily: then shalt thou call and the Lord shall answer, here am I.
33. And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity and thy darkness be as the noon-day.
34. And the Lord shall guide thee continually and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones; and thou shalt be like a watered garden and like a spring of water which faileth not.”
35. Stagnation is death whether it be physical or spiritual. A pool cannot be kept clean and sweet and renewed unless there is an outlet as well as an inlet. It is our business to keep the outlet open, and God’s business to keep the stream flowing in and through us. Unless you use for the service of others what God has already given you you will find it a long weary road to Spiritual Understanding.
36. We cry out and strain every nerve to obtain full Understanding, just as sometimes we have heard earnest people, but people wholly ignorant of Divine laws, beseech God for the “full baptism of the Holy Ghost as in the day of Pentecost.” Why, if either obtained suddenly that which is asked for, they would as suddenly go out of the body. Jesus said, “I have many things to say unto you but ye cannot bear them yet.” We grow by using for others the light and knowledge we have. We expand as we go on step by step in spiritual insight until in the fulness of time—which means when we have grown spiritually up to the place when God sees we are able to bear the many things—we receive the desire of our hearts. Understanding.
37. Seek your own Lord. Take the light as it is revealed to you and use it for others. And prove for yourself whether there be truth in this prophesy of Isaiah that “then the light shall rise in obscurity and thy darkness be as the noonday;” that “then thy light shall break forth as the morning and thine health shall spring forth speedily.”