Attaining Eternal Life
(From Lesson Thirteen, Talks on Truth 146)
These queries often come to us: "What do you teach about death?" "Where do people go when they die?" A succinct answer to these questions is found in a statement made by Paul: "The mind of the flesh is death" (Rom. 8:6). According to the Bible, all men are "dead through ... trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1).
Adam, as originally created, was in illumination. Spirit continually breathed into him the necessary inspiration and knowledge that gave him superior understanding. But he began eating (or appropriating) ideas of two powers — God and not-God, or good and evil. The result, so the allegory relates, was a falling away from life and all that it involves. This was the first death.
Men do not think of the first death in its relation to the second death. The latter enters when the soul loses control of the body, when the functional activities permanently cease and the physical organism dissolves. If the scriptural statements given above express facts, sinners (men who believe in two powers, good and evil) are already dead. They do not have to wait until the body stops acting in order to know the conditions that prevail in death. Why should we worry about the condition of men who go through the second death? The first death is death of the light and the life of Spirit in our consciousness, and the result is a withdrawal of the soul from the organism. The soul of the carnally minded does not live in the body but outside of it. Because of his sins, man has been driven out of the body Eden.
What is death? Briefly stated, it is cessation of vital force and action in the body. Jesus referred to the dead as "fallen asleep," (John 11:11) as also did Paul (I Cor. 15:18). There are various degrees of this sleepy condition into which the body falls. Students of
physiology find that the body has unused resources that can be temporarily awakened. Through deep breathing, they bring into action certain centers in the lungs that give additional purity to the blood; by the quickening of other centers in the body weak persons can be made strong. This is not the regeneration taught by Jesus, but it demonstrates that the body is not living up to its capacity in even a material way. Some physiologists say that in our thinking exercises we use only a small part of the brain. Nearly the whole nervous system of man is in a sleepy, inactive state. These material investigators tell us that if some substance could be poured in through our nervous system that would wake us up all over, we should be transformed into a new being.
That is exactly what the new life in Christ does for us. "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Rom. 12:2). We are to be transformed not by deep breathing or by muscular exercise or by having our nerves shocked by electricity; but by a new process of thought and spiritual energy, we are to awaken our sleepy body, we are to get back to the original state in which we consciously receive the inspiration of Spirit and charge our body with the life of the infinite life.
This is the teaching of pure Christianity, and it is borne out by the discoveries of modern science. Both agree that men must have more life and greater vitality in order to carry forward the demands of mind and its aspirations. Jesus went so far as to claim that men who do not lay hold of the larger consciousness of life that He brought to the race have no life in them (John 6:53).
What shall we do to escape the second death? We must take the life of the Christ man, which is potentially here in every one of us, and concentrate it into this brain and this body of ours. This is accomplished by the power of the word.
To hold negation in the mind is to stamp negation on
the body. There is no duality in God. We intuitively know that God is good and that God is all. We intuitively know that life is the one real expression of God. To demonstrate the God life, we must plant the knowledge of that life in the flesh. To keep on living, we must supply the God substance out of which the body will be renewed.
There is no need of any state or condition called death. The word death is a denial of God's idea of life. If we would accept life as God offers it to us, we are obliged to refuse the conditions that man has attached to it.
If we would realize the larger life, we must believe in it; we must begin to affirm it as ours here and now. And what kind of life do you conceive this eternal life to be? A life that goes and comes? Affirming eternal life, would you say, "I feel tired and weak; I wish I had a little stimulant to tone me up?" Certainly not. You would meet the feeling of weakness with an affirmation of strength; you would meet every evil suggestion with a denial of its reality and a strong word of Truth. Sound words quickly tone up the mind and body, and there is never a reaction of weakness following their use.
It does not make any difference to the loyal Christian how many people "fall asleep." We know that the sleepers awaken again, that what men call the sleep of death is just a long dream. Some people have more vivid dreams than others, so some who fall asleep in the second death may dream of returning life until they quickly take up again the construction of an organism. The early Christians considered it a great advantage to have a knowledge of Jesus before falling asleep.
It is possible to think about the absence of life until death seems real and lasting. This makes the dream dense and dark, and the awakening slow. Christianity shows how to
come right back into life, and that is the only salvation for man. If you believe faithfully in Christ life, you will never die. That is the promise of Jesus, and our understanding of the laws of mind substantiates His assurance in this respect. The mind can be so filled with thoughts of life that there will be no room for a thought of death. Death can never take possession of the body of one whose mind is thoroughly charged with ideas of life.
This will answer the question "If a man die, shall he live again?" Eternal life means continuous conscious existence in the body. Every man lives just to the extent of his appreciation of eternal life. Not only must we live, but we must live wisely. In the Genesis allegory, it is written that, for fear man would eat of the tree of life and live forever in his sinful mind, the Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:22-23). This means that man does not consciously live in his organism, which is the real Garden of Eden. In his unregenerated state, man reflects his mind into his body. But when the baptism of fire, the descent of the Holy Spirit, takes place, there is a reunion of mind and body, and the thrill of divine life is again felt by Adam. The return of the soul to the interior of the organism is part of the symbology portrayed in the history of Jesus of Nazareth. Man must seek and know the law of life before he can live forever. Living without conforming to that law is tragedy.
The law of life is revealed to the mind of man through conscious thinking. Give attention to the omnipresent intelligence and it will make you wise. The "light which lighteth every man, coming into the world" (John 1:9) is here as the atmosphere is here. "The light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not." Why? Because men do not realize the truth about Spirit and its laws. Spirit is like mind — in fact, it is the highest realm of mind. There is an ever-
present, all-knowing One. Put yourself into conscious unity with this Presence through the power of your thought and your word and you will gradually become mentally open to a world of causes of which you never before dreamed.
Metaphysicians have found that man can light up the body cells by affirming life and intelligence for them. Metaphysicians tell their patients to make affirmations such as these:
I am alive with the life of Christ. I am intelligent with the intelligence of Christ.
Take these words and use them day after day, night after night. Affirm them when you go to bed and affirm them when you awake in the morning; make them part of your consciousness and you will take a very important step in demonstrating eternal life.
Love, peace, and harmony are the only remedies that count. "God is love," and to live in God-Mind, man must cultivate love until it becomes the keynote of his life. We must love everybody and everything, ourself included. Some people hate themselves. Self-hate is destructive. You must love yourself. Affirm infinite love as your love and you will find that there will be generated in your mind and body an entirely new element. Love is the cementing element of all things. You could not have an organism without the help of the cementing power of love. Love is the magnet. You must have love. You cannot live without it. Then begin to live in the thought of love. Personal love is part of the law, but divine love fulfills the law (Rom. 13:10). Center your love thoughts upon God and you will find love for your fellow man growing marvelously.
We must have substance in its purity in our body. All about us are elements out of which, if we knew how to use them, we could make any form that we desire. We have not
cultivated faith in the invisible substance idea, and it, therefore, has not been incorporated into flesh. But now that we know that it exists and that through our affirmations we bring it into expression, we begin at once to affirm divine substance. By this practice, we put our body under a refining process, which we may continue until we are transfigured into the likeness of that divine man whom John saw on Patmos (Rev. 1:13).
The pure substance of Being is a universal solvent. Man can take the substance idea into his mind and, by the presence of its native purity, cleanse everything upon which he concentrates his thought.
Jesus said that His body was living substance and He told His followers to eat it. You eat the purified substance of the body of Christ by affirming it to be the real substance of your body.
In the regeneration, we thus daily put on the body of Christ until finally every cell becomes so related to its neighbor that each reflects upon the other, as diamond reflects upon diamond, and the redeemed body literally shines. "They that are wise shall shine" (Dan. 12:3). The wisdom that shines is the wisdom of Spirit, the knowledge that life is spiritual Being, complete here and now.
Man is spirit, soul, and body. The spirit is I AM, and I AM is the ego of the Deity. Jehovah told Moses that His name was I AM. Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life." Every time that man says "I AM," he is speaking the name of Being.
Soul is the sum total of man's experiences gathered throughout the ages. Soul has its inner and its outer avenues of expression.
The body is the meeting place of the life and substance attributes of Being; consequently, body is an important fac-
tor in consciousness. Body is not matter; it is substance and life in expression. Expression takes the character of the presiding ego. When the ego attaches itself to life and substance alone and ignores the higher attributes of Being, it becomes gross and material in thought and in manifestation.
Every form in the universe has within it a thought picture or pattern. The form may be destroyed, but the picture endures. Man's body is first a mental picture imprinted upon the ether or universal substance.
To the oft-repeated question "Where is my loved one who is dead?" there can be no comprehensive answer until there is a broader and deeper understanding of man. If the physical were all of man, then the question could easily be answered. But man is very much more than body, even more than intellect. The most interior and real part of man is spirit; then comes soul; then come intellect and sense consciousness, out of which body is formed. When the body is destroyed, the house of these various component parts of man is no more, and they are left homeless. Then they separate, each going to its own state of consciousness. The spiritual ego reverts to its original essence in the bosom of the Father; soul falls asleep until the next incarnation. Body and sense consciousness are earth-bound and, in due season, they disintegrate. Those who have lived honestly and purely find peace and happiness for a time in the rest that follows sincere observance of the divine law.
But the goal of man is eternal life and, in each incarnation, that goal is brought nearer if Spirit is given opportunity to express itself. When this is done, the true spiritual body will replace the physical body and all men will become like Jesus Christ. This is to be accomplished here in the earth. With the eye of a prophet, John saw the redeemed earth, as described in Rev. 21:1-5, "And I saw a new heaven
and new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth are passed away; and the sea is no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of the throne saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his peoples, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God; and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away. And he that sitteth on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new."
Preceding Entry: The Household of Faith 275-276: The Last Supper
Following Entry: The Household of Faith 285-289: Preserving the Unity of Soul and Body