The real is that which has "actual existence"; it is "not theoretical or imaginary." The fictitious is that which is "imaginary; counterfeit; false."
The real is the permanent. It continues "in the same state or without essential change." The fictitious is the impermanent; it does not continue "in the same state or without essential change."
Life is permanent; it does not change. Manifestations of life are impermanent; they change. Life is real. Manifestations of life are fictitious, in the appeal that they make to you before you have learned to distinguish between cause and effect. They do not support your expectations of them; they seem to promise much, but if you rely on them they fail you. Nevertheless, during the term of their continuation they are actual and accurate representations of their origins. Their inconsistencies are not in themselves but in you, who expect permanence of impermanence.
If you spiritually are in a state of amnesia, the fictitious will first claim your attention. You will see manifestation unassociated with its origin, and you will be puzzled in your efforts to account for it. If manifestation is pleasing, you will be content. If manifestation is unpleasing, you will be dissatisfied. Conscious only of manifestation is Adam of the Scriptures -- glad for the apple, gloomy when caught. If you accuse outside parties of responsibility for your predicament, you continue in the
Adam line of action. You make your helpmeet a hindrance. Manifestation is a warning or it is an encouragement; it never should be regarded as an advisor or as an end to be sought.
"In Adam all die" (I Cor. 15:22). All that is in the fictitious, all that is imaginary, all that is counterfeit, all that is false, will disintegrate. All that is impermanent will permanently vanish. All reliance on manifestation will cease.
If you have regained consciousness of your spiritual identity you will know that manifestation changes with the changes that take place in your mind. You will know how to ally yourself with realities, never again to be misled by fictions.
"In Christ shall all be made alive" (I Cor. 15:22). The senses are accurate within their own ranges, but their ranges are so circumscribed that you cannot from the senses alone gain any appreciable knowledge of reality. There are vast universes of being that the senses do not touch, and in order not to be deceived you must have a more capable guide, a more comprehensive reporter of events than the senses ever can be. The fictions that perplex you are the discrepancies between the reports of the senses and the facts of life that exist beyond the reach of the senses. You have innate knowledge of all the facts of being. But when contradictions arise between innate knowledge and the senses, you say that you cannot believe what you see. You can believe what you see, but you may make the mistake of trying to stretch sight into realms that the eyes cannot penetrate.
Christ, as exemplified in Jesus of Nazareth, is
the redemptive power of your mind; the real; the permanent. Christ awakens all the realities; reveals the permanent. All your innate beauty, all your holy aspirations, all your eternal relationships with life and love and good, are made alive. Dormant power is aroused. Truth, buried beneath fiction, is resurrected. In Christ, the life of God manifesting, you are made alive consciously, to live forevermore.
The real and the fictitious blend in ways that may make them look indistinguishable to you. The ground under your feet is real in that it is not merely a concept or a conjecture. It is fictitious in that it is an imitation of what the personal mind believes to be a support and a field of activity for all of life. It is permanent in the sense that it does not fail you in the uses for which it was constructed. It is impermanent in the sense that in it change is constant. The horizon is real because it is not theoretical; it is fictitious because it is but an apparent meeting of earth or sea and sky. It is permanent because it will endure as long as the world endures; it is impermanent because it changes with the changing positions of the observer.
The real and the fictitious join where primary cause transmutes into effect. Primary cause is mind; effect is the form created by your personal use of mind. Primary cause is eternal reality. Effect is eternally fictitious; the swaying shadow of the wind-moved tree; the mask at the ball; the image in the pool.
Knowledge of what you are includes knowledge of the real and of the fictitious. When you see a
shadow you know that it does not exist of itself; you know that it is cast by a body, familiar or unfamiliar to you. The relation between body and shadow, in the less obvious aspects of life, becomes clear to you, and you perceive that you have consciousness of two worlds. One world is real. One world is fictitious.
The real world is the world in which God is recognized. The fictitious world is the world in which God is not recognized.
You are native to the real world; in it you have union with God; in it you have sustenance and eternal being. But you do not consciously live in the real world all of the time. You adventure into the fictitious. You wrestle with its shadows; you plead with its irrationalities; you clasp its phantom forms to your bosom, to extract rest from their restlessness. You deceive yourself so thoroughly that you finally cease to remember what you are; you become a victim of spiritual amnesia.
Having recovered consciousness of your identity, you return to your home, the real world. In the real world you recognize God as He is, and not as you thought Him to be while you were lost in the fictitious world.
You do not recognize God when to Him you attribute motives and acts contrary to His nature. If you say, "God has afflicted me," you do not recognize Him. Affliction is the shadow of a foolish gesture; it does not come from God. If you say that God's plan for you includes hardships of any sort, you do not recognize Him. God is the blessed and the
good; you live in Him. God is the beautiful and the joyous; He lives in you. The imperfect thing is an ugly mask; changes are the images of objects that pass above the pool. In the fictitious world you use God. In the real world God uses you. When you use God manifestation fails you, mocks you, hurts you. When God uses you manifestation sustains you, encourages you, soothes you.
In the fictitious world you experience death, sickness, poverty, sorrow. In the real world you possess, know, and rejoice in life, health, opulence, happiness. The fictitious world offers you its all, but its all cannot enrich you. Its promises are as the promises of the mirage lake that lies alluringly ahead, but the eager traveler never tastes the refreshing coolness of its tantalizing waves.
How can you judge between the real and the fictitious? The Mind of God in you knows. Let it choose.
A story in the Talmud relates that the Queen of Sheba, to test the wisdom of Solomon, came into the monarch's presence, carrying a bouquet in each hand. One bouquet was of real flowers, the other was the finest product of the imitator's art. So true to each other in appearance were the two bouquets that great Solomon could not decide the question propounded by the queen. As he pondered he noticed bees outside the casement; he ordered the windows to be opened; the bees entered and flew to the flowers held by the queen's right hand. Then those present knew, as fully as wise Solomon knew, which flowers were real, which were imitation.
Your innate intelligence will find the real for you. It will testify of things eternal. Open your consciousness to it. Let it judge. Trust it.
The real is substance; the fictitious is shadow. What the real possesses the fictitious claims; what the real is the fictitious assumes to be.
Manifestation is not evil; it is not error. It is the consistent outpicturing of the inconsistent human consciousness. On its apparent inconsistencies have been based all judgments against it. In any form it is not real in the sense that it exists of itself. In any form it ceases when the sustaining force of consciousness is withdrawn, and it appears as the new form that the changed consciousness assembles and maintains.
The element of duration is found in the fictitious world and in the real world. In the fictitious world duration is time; in the real world duration is eternity.
If you have not recovered consciousness of your spiritual identity you are more aware of time than of eternity.
Time is the thread of experience on which you string the beads of events. Time is a Janus, one face looking forward, one face looking backward. The forward look is future time; the backward look is past time. Present time, or now, is minimized in the fictitious world.
The future shelters apprehension: Crops may fail; you may lose your position; old age is coming. Fear of these things paralyzes you. Like a charmed bird you flutter and protest before the
devouring snake of time. You think no deliverance possible. You vision evil, you expect grief. And events, the progeny of your mind, are delivered of your mind into the outer world. A mother whose three sons were in penal institutions told me that while her children were yet but babes she saw them committing the crimes for which as men they were incarcerated in prisons. That mother worked in the fictitious world; she accepted results before they appeared; she did not know how to rear her sons in the righteousness and the safety of the real world. Had she known that the real world can be made to blot out the figures of the fictitious world, she could have dissolved the mental nebula in her children that later emerged as act in the area of manifestation.
The future lures you with anticipation. But its promises are handcuffed to postponement. You think, "I will be great tomorrow." You cannot be great tomorrow if you do not begin to be great today. You do not have to wait until tomorrow for the things that would be lovely for you today. What is not now ready for you never will be ready for you. Nevertheless, all that you can think is now ready for you. Beyond what you can think or feel or dream, the scope of God expands with enrichment for you. Why wait?
Your past is your array of regrets, sorrows, endorsements, compliments. Memories of regrets and sorrows often are less inhibitive of growth than are memories of endorsements and compliments. If you give attention to past triumphs, you neglect your
present opportunity for better triumphs. You should be wiser, stronger, more splendid now than you ever were in the past. Burn the old laurels and earn new ones. Make this day your supreme day. By so doing you will transcend the inhibitions that memories of personal events entail.
Cease to be proud of former weaknesses, or you will become more weak. Cease to be proud of ancestors, and achieve honor for yourself. An honorable line of ancestry attests high-minded companionship, but the line will deteriorate if you do not keep your life honorable. You can, but you may not, secure the past by the present. Evolution halts or hastens in you. Ancestry is neither a liability nor an asset. Your life is an individual responsibility, an individual opportunity.
Be little concerned with your grandfather's behavior; be greatly concerned with the behavior of his grandson. Physical ancestry is a convenience. Mental ancestry is a necessity. In all vital ways you are your own ancestor. What you were in former times has produced the you of today. The you of today begets the you of tomorrow. To improve the product, the you of today must transcend the you of yesterday.
Time is unknown in the real world. If you try to speak of that world in terms of time, you must say that it was, that it is, that it will be, changelessly itself. Your correct thought is expressed in the world now.
The now of continuous consciousness is the eternity of the real world. Observe: I find you holding
a book. I ask, "Why not read?" You answer, "I have been reading, but now I am thinking over a statement I found in the book." If yesterday I had met you on the street and asked you where you were going, you might have said, "I am going to the post office, now." Tomorrow I may ask you what you are doing, and you may answer, "I now am packing to go out of town."
You draw on your memory, and say, "I now remember." You anticipate, and say, "Now I wonder if my effort will be as successful as I hope." In the past moment you said "now"; in the present moment you say "now"; in the moment to come you will say "now." In so speaking you accord with the real world. Eternal consciousness of life operates in now. The tick of eternity's clock says, "Now, now; now, now."
Time inhibits. You look back at an event and you say, "That was a long time ago." Then you begin to feel old. A feeling of old age includes a feeling of inability. You look forward, in computation of your remaining time in the fictitious world, and you say, "My grandfather lived to be eighty; my mother made the transition at seventy; I still have perhaps thirty, perhaps twenty years." Then your thoughts begin to shrivel; your body takes up the mental cue and acts upon it. You feel that life has to do with time. But you are wrong. Experience has to do with time. Life has to do with eternity.
Years do not make you old. Years are our accumulation of experiences. You are the identity that you were before birth. That identity never is taken
from you. The man of eighty years is the same man that he was at the experience of sixty, forty, twenty years. Methuselah died the same identity that he was born. There is no oldest man, no old man. You do not grow old because the earth swings around the sun. What you do with the life stuff marks your body, but you are beyond the reach of age.
Life is real; ages is fictitious. Get that distinction, and you will understand that age is a habit -- a habit to be avoided. You will understand that years, alone, do not lessen your ability. You will understand that your regard for years is the cause of decline in your confidence toward life, and that decline in your confidence marks your body with what you call age. You now should be a more capable man, a more capable woman, than you were twenty years ago.
If you say that because of years you cannot do that work that you once did, I will answer your charge against yourself by saying that life does not expect you to do the work that you once did. There is a better work for you. The only person who continues to do the work that he once did is the imbecile, who makes no progress in mind and body. Life demands growth, change, progress, of you.
If you still wish to doze in the somnolent blankets of age, you perhaps will say to me, "But you can't teach an old dog new tricks." Then I will say to you, "If the dog won't learn new tricks, he is an old dog, or in a way soon to become an old dog." Interest in new things is the most splendid characteristic of youth. Refusal to learn, refusal to try,
produces the fossilization which, can be called old age.
Blessed be change. It is the flow of the living water from the living fountain of life. Blessed be the struggle to grow. It is the witness of an ever- increasing zest and capability.
Eternity releases. What time binds, eternity sets free. Your faculties expand, your soul rejoices, and your body thrills to realization that there can be no defeat, no end; that progress is as eternal as being; that life and development are one.
Engage your thoughts in the realm of the real. Improve you mind; eternity lies before you. Lift your eyes to the golden heights of vast achievements; you live now, and you will continue to live always. The improvements that you make in your mind fit you to meet the expanding opportunities of unrolling eternities. The victories that you gain in yourself bring you into broader concepts and give you fairer perspective of your possibilities. Now is the point of beginning the works that you have deferred because time seemed too full for all that you would do. Working with time, you never will finish what lies before you. God gives you eternity in which to perfect the perfect thing that you would do.
All that hurts you and all that annoys you are fictitious; they pass; you and your eternal opportunity remain. Poverty, sickness, death, transpire in the fictitious world; you the what, go through them unscathed. Only the who suffers. You, the what, emerge, opulent, whole, alive, as you were before you entered the ordeal. You profit by the ordeal if
through all its circumstances you hold a firm consciousness of what, and let considerations of who drop to the level of the negligible.
Take your mind off the past; let it go; it cannot help, and it is quite sure to hinder you. If you were lovely, popular, thirty years ago, and are not lovely, popular, today, you have severed your connection with the traits that made you sought for in former years. Reconnect with those traits, and you will be sought for today. If you treasure mementos, reread the letters that commended you for the deeds and graces of five years ago, you perhaps are doing so to the neglect of those acts and ways that would win you commendation now.
If you treasure your joys you will find it easy to treasure your sorrows. A review of sorrows is the weakling's plea for a sympathy that will further weaken him. You say, "I have been through so much." You are not through your sorrows if you relive them, talk them, insist on giving them a page in your life book. While you recount and revisualize them they are as potent with you as they were when they occurred. Your emphasis of them in memory may make them more potent, for most sorrows, like most adventures, grow with each review of them. Nothing that you drag into the present is wholly in the past. If you tie yourself to memories of events in the fictitious world, you become as one stumblingly walking backward up the slope of endeavor, tugging at a chain gang of ghosts. Dead things do not move themselves. Your progress is slow while you strain to
keep your retinue in hand. The fictitious forms that people the dead years are not the marching comrades of the forward-moving mind.
Each world has its inhabitants. In the real world there are God and His idea -- you. There are living potentialities, vibrant, eager. There are the hosts of good, the as yet unrevealed splendors, the vision of which Paul found not lawful to be uttered. There is work, the accomplishment of perfections of which you now have not so much as a hint. There is endless progress, on and on toward the heart of God; on, until you awake with beholding His likeness.
The fictitious world is inhabited by ghosts. Idle dreams drift through the areas of consciousness. Imaginations founded on ignorance walk with you. In that world you construct dragons, and then cower before them. Of the formless you assemble forms of terror which you permit to paralyze your mind.
I became aware of the hypnotic influence of the fictitious world in an experience which I here relate for the purpose of showing you how you may be yielding to your own imaginations:
We were three girls, in midteens. My companions asked me to tell them a ghost story. I had told them ghost stories on other occasions, but never before amid such favorable surroundings.
We were in a lamp-lit room of a small, isolated house. The night was dark, windy. Tree boughs moaned, doors shook; at intervals the air sighed eerily about the house.
With secret zest I acquiesced in their demand. I gave my imagination rein and spur. My companions
began to respond; they shuddered, but still smiled. I saw that to give them the stimulation that they were expecting I should have to do better than I was doing. I did better. I heaped horror on horror. My companions ceased to smile; they cast fearful glances at open doorways to dark rooms; they clutched at each other, but eyed me expectantly.
I was much encouraged by their appreciation. I broke all bounds; possibilities were spurned and impossibilities were transcended. Gruesome situations, gruesome objects, were depicted with mounting fervor. My audience was responding most satisfactorily.
Then, all at once, without the slightest warning of the land of terrors into which my own fabrications had taken me, I believed that story, myself. I sat rigid, frozen by the creations of my own fantastically misdirected imagination. My companions shouted with laughter; they took hold of me and shook me to break the hideous nightmare that I had created for myself. I was dazed with relief when I realized my commonplace surroundings.
After that most successful recital I never told those girls, or anyone else, a ghost story. I had lost my taste for being entertaining in that way.
Later, I became aware that I was telling myself ghost stories of another sort. I saw that these ghost stories had an effect similar to, but not so swiftly apparent as, the effect of the story that I had concocted that dark and windy night. I closely watched results, and I found that when I told myself that I was sick, the sense of sickness increased. I found that
when I told myself that I was poor, my money did not go so far, and debts appeared. I found that whenever I chose my companions from the inhabitants of the fictitious world, my energies lagged to the time of their movements, and that a state of torpor ensued. Observing these things, I resolved to tell myself no ghost stories of any sort. In addition I resolved to tell myself the truth on all occasions.
Truth is the character of things and of events that occur in the real world. Cleave to truth, though all evidence seems to support fiction. If you tell yourself the ghost story that represents yourself as incapable, you will find your mind congealing with the fear that you cannot do the thing that is for your good and for the good of others. You will have to be brought back to reality, even if your restoration must be accomplished by ridicule and figurative shakings. If you tell yourself that God's capability is your capability at all times, you will feel the warm currents of returning confidence flowing through your being. Then you will accomplish what you should.
If you tell yourself the Adam-old ghost story that you fail because of another, you will paralyze your powers of initiative, and will become an addict of the alibi. If you are large enough to acknowledge your mistake, accept the results, and then set about reforming conditions by conforming with the laws of the real world, you ultimately will find yourself a free man.
Every negative mental picture is a ghost story. Every recital of wrongs is a ghost story. Delineations of symptoms of illness are ghost stories. To relate
a hard luck story is to relate another ghost story.
When you say of anything that it is too good to be true, you tell yourself a ghost story. Everything that speaks of good is true -- an incident of your life in the real world. All things begin in the mind. To claim the good of which you are able to think is but simplest honesty. The act of claiming gives the thing an impulse that starts it toward you. Make your claim on the grounds of your natal rights. You are a citizen of the real world, wherein exists for you all that you can claim of the enduring, wherein there is infinitely more than you have thought of claiming. When you have fully identified yourself with the real that you cannot be shaken or rendered doubtful by the pretenses of the fictitious, you never will say of anything that it is too good to be true. Of the best that you can hear, of the best that is hoped, of the best that is prophesied, of the best that is revealed, and of the best that stand beyond the pale of present revelation, you will say, "It is good enough to be true."
Identify yourself with the real; the fictitious will loose its hold on you.
"I will arise, and go to my Father."
You are an alien in the world of the fictitious. You are heir apparent to the splendors of the real world.
God's world is the real world.
In God's world life is eternal.
In God's world good in unending.
I live in God's world of eternal life and endless good.