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7. The Work of the Imagination in Regeneration

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WHEN THE faculties of the mind are understood in their threefold relation—spirit, soul, body—it will be found that every form and shape originated in the imagination. It is through the imagination that the formless takes form. It is well known that the artist sees in mind every picture that he puts on canvas. Man and the universe are a series of pictures in the Mind of Being. God made man in His image and likeness. Man, in his turn, is continually making and sending forth into his mind, his body, and the world about him living thought forms embodied and indued with his whole character. These images are formed in the front brain, and clothed with substance and life drawn from subcenters in the body.

Very intellectual people, concentrating the intensity of their thought in the head, fail to connect with the substance, life, and love centers in the body, and their work, although it may be very brilliant, lacks what we term "soul." The thought creations of this type seldom live long. Where the thought form and its substance are evenly balanced, the projected idea endures indefinitely. Jesus was a

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man thoroughly conversant with this law, and every idea that He clothed has lived and grown in wisdom and power in the minds of those who make union with Him in faith and spiritual understanding. He said: "Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away."

Among the apostles, Bartholomew represents the imagination. He is called Nathanael in the 1st chapter of John, where it is recorded that Jesus saw him under the fig tree—the inference being that Jesus discerned Nathanael's presence before the latter came into visibility. This would indicate that images of people and things are projected into the imaging chamber of the mind and that by giving them attention one can understand their relation to outer things. Mind readers, clairvoyants, and dreamers have developed this capacity to varying degree. Where consciousness is primary in soul unfoldment there is confusion, because of lack of understanding of the fundamental law of mind action. Forms are always manifestations of ideas. One who understands this can interpret the symbols shown to him in dreams and visions, but lack of understanding of this law makes one a psychic without power. Joseph was an interpreter because he sought the one creative Mind for guidance. "And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace" (Gen. 41:16). When Pharaoh told him the dream about the fat kine and the lean kine, Joseph at once gave the real meaning of the dream; he understood the metaphysical law. The

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early Christians had understanding of this law. The same law is in existence today and can be used more effectually by us, the reincarnated followers of Jesus, because mind and its modes of action are now better understood.

The Spirit of truth [TruthUnity note: "the Mind of God in its executive capacity. See Revealing Word, Spirit] projects into the chamber of imagery pictures that, rightly understood, will be a sure guide for all people who believe in the omnipresence of mind. Everybody dreams, but the great majority do not attempt to interpret the handwriting on the wall of the mind, or they take their dreams literally and, because the dreams do not come true, consider them foolish. Through ignorance of the law with which imagination works, man has made imagination a byword. We look upon imaginary things as trivial, yet we know that through the imagination we can produce wonderful changes in the body. Studying this law, we find that the character of both soul and body is determined by the imagination and its associated faculties. Paul referred to this power of the imagination when he wrote:

But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit (II Cor. 3:18).

There has been much speculation about the method that Jesus used to impart spiritual understanding to His apostles and other early Christians, who were wonderfully illumined. It is true that the Twelve apostles had His personal instruction, but it was apparently preparatory only; the thorough training

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was to follow. Jesus promised that the Spirit of truth would, in His name, come as teacher, guide, and instructor. He did not say how Spirit would guide and teach those who believed in Him; we gain this conclusion from their experiences in the new school of life to which He introduced them.

It is possible to impart Truth through direct inspiration, but this requires a student with a development of mind superior to the average, and Jesus sought converts in every walk of life. So we find that the simple and universally intelligible avenue of visions and dreams, the work of the imagination, was adopted as an important means by which the believers were instructed and called together. In fact, a large part of the work of the early church was carried forward by this means.

Saul was converted by a vision. Jesus appeared to him in person and rebuked him for his persecution of the Christians, told him that He had a work for him to do, and gave him directions as to his future movements.

And as he [Saul] journeyed, it came to pass that he drew nigh unto Damascus: and suddenly there shone round about him a light out of heaven: and he fell upon the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest; but rise, and enter into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men that journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing the voice, but beholding no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw nothing; and they led him by the hand, and brought

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him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and did neither eat nor drink. (Acts 9:3-9)

Those who look to the Holy Spirit for guidance find that its instruction is given to all who believe in Christ, and they are often drawn together by direction of the inner voice, or by a dream, or by a vision. Saul, after beholding the blinding light of the spiritual realms, needed to have his sight restored. The brightness, or high potency, of Jesus' glorified presence had confused his intellectual consciousness, and this had brought about blindness. He needed the harmonious, peace-giving power of one who understood the inner life, and this was found in a certain disciple named Ananias. The Lord said to Ananias in a vision:

Arise, and go to the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one named Saul, a man of Tarsus: for behold, he prayeth; and he hath seen a man named Ananias coming in, and laying his hands on him, that he might receive his sight. But Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard from many of this man, how much evil he did to thy saints at Jerusalem: and here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call upon thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles and kings, and the children of Israel: for I will show him how many things he must suffer for my name's sake. And Ananias departed, and entered into the house; and laying his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, who appeared unto thee in the way which thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mayest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit. And straightway there

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fell from his eyes as it were scales, and he received his sight; and he arose and was baptized; and he took food and was strengthened.

The Lord's appearing to Saul, with the conversion of the latter, is considered one of the great miracles of the Bible, but the experience of Ananias is seldom mentioned. Yet we are told in this text that the Lord appeared to Ananias and talked to him, just as He had appeared and talked to Saul, and there was apparently no difference in the real character of the incidents, except such be found in the mental attitude of the participants. Saul was antagonistic and full of fight. Ananias was receptive and obedient; he doubtless had received this sort of guidance many times. From the text we readily discern his spiritual harmony. He knew the reputation of Saul and protested against meeting him, but the Lord explained the situation and Ananias obeyed.

Today disciples of Jesus who are obedient and receptive and believe in the presence and the power of the Master and the Holy Spirit, are everywhere receiving visions and dreams. They are being drawn together and are helping one another to recover from the discords and inharmonies of life. Never before in the history of the race has there been so great a need for spiritual instruction as there is now, and this need is being met by Jesus and His aids in a renaissance of early Christianity and of its methods of instruction.

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Spirit imparts its ideas through a universal language. Instead of being explained by words and phrases as used in ordinary language, the idea is formed and projected in its original character. This system of transferring intelligence is called symbolism. It is the only universal and correct means of communicating ideas. For example, if one wished to tell about a procession that he had seen, and could mentally picture it so that others could see it, how much more complete the communication than descriptive words! The mind formulates into thought images every idea that arises in it, and then tries to express it in language, which is nearly always inadequate. The French say: "Words are employed to conceal ideas." As the early disciples of Jesus had to learn that the symbol represents the idea rather than the thing, so modern disciples, following the same line of instruction, should not allow the intellect to materialize their dreams and visions; although they may be puzzled, like Peter, subsequent events will bring to them a clearer understanding of the lesson.

In the 10th chapter of Acts, we read:

Peter went up upon the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour: and he became hungry, and desired to eat: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance; and he beholdeth the heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending, as it were a great sheet, let down by four corners upon the earth: wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts and creeping things of the earth and birds of the heaven. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter;

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kill and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common and unclean. And a voice came unto him again a second time, What God hath cleansed, make not thou common. And this was done thrice: and straightway the vessel was received up into heaven.

Now while Peter was much perplexed in himself what the vision which he had seen might mean, behold, the men that were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon's house, stood before the gate, and called and asked whether Simon, who was surnamed Peter, were lodging there. And while Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. (Acts 10:9-19)

Peter was still bound by the Jewish teaching that there was no salvation for any except those of his faith, and this vision was to break the bondage of such narrowness and show him that the gospel of Jesus Christ is for all people. In a vision the Lord had already instructed Cornelius, the Roman soldier, that he should send certain of his servants to Joppa and fetch Peter to Caesarea.

Some advocates of flesh eating make the mistake of giving a literal interpretation to Peter's vision, holding that the Lord commanded him to kill and eat "all manner of fourfooted beasts and creeping things of the earth and birds of the heaven," and that God has cleansed them and thus prepared them for food for man. If this view of the vision should be carried out literally, we should eat all fourfooted animals, including skunks, all the creeping things, and all birds of the air, including vultures. We know, however, that the vision is to be taken

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in its symbolizing meaning. Peter was to appropriate and harmonize in his inner consciousness all thoughts of separation, all uncleanliness and impurity, narrowness, selfishness—the thoughts that bring diversity and separation.

We have within us, bound in the cage of the subconsciousness, all the propensities and the savagery of the animals. In the regeneration these are brought forth and a great reconciliation takes place. We find that there is really nothing unclean, except to human consciousness. In the original creative idealism of Divine Mind, everything was made perfect and sanctified and pronounced "very good." But God did not tell man to eat everything because it was good in its place.

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food. (Gen. 1:29).

When man has regenerated and lifted up the beasts of the field, he will carry out the injunction given to the original Adam and name them "good."

Man's body represents the sum total of the animal world, because in its evolution it has had experience in nearly every type of elemental form. These memories are part of the soul, and in the unregenerate they come to the surface sporadically. Sometimes whole nations seem to revert from culture to savagery without apparent cause, but there is always a cause. These reversions are the result of

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some violent wrenching of the soul, or of concentration, to the exclusion of everything else, on a line of thought out of harmony with divine law. When the soul is ready for its next step in the upward way, a great change takes place, known as regeneration. Jesus referred to this when He said to Nicodemus: "Ye must be born anew." In one of its phases the new birth is a resurrection. All that man has passed through has left its image in the subconsciousness, wrought in mind and matter. These images are set free in the regeneration, and man sees them as part of himself. In his "Journal," George Fox, the spiritual-minded Quaker, says:

I was under great temptations sometimes, and my inward sufferings were heavy; but I could find none to open my condition to but the Lord alone, unto whom I cried night and day. I went back into Nottinghamshire, where the Lord shewed me that the natures of those things which were hurtful without, were within the hearts and minds of wicked men. The natures of dogs, swine, vipers, of Sodom and Egypt, Pharaoh, Cain, Ishmael, Esau, etc. The natures of these I saw within, though people had been looking without. I cried to the Lord saying, "Why should I be thus, seeing I was never addicted to commit those evils?" And the Lord answered, "It was needful I should have a sense of all conditions, how else should I speak of all conditions?" In this I saw the infinite love of God. I saw also, that there was an ocean of darkness and death; but an infinite ocean of light and love, which flowed over the ocean of darkness. In that also I saw the infinite love of God, and I had great openings. As I was walking by the steeple-house side in the town of Mansfield, the Lord said unto me, "That which people trample upon must be

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thy food." And as the Lord spake he opened to me that people and professors trampled upon the life, even the life of Christ was trampled upon; they fed upon words, and fed one another with words; but trampled under foot the blood of the son of God, which blood was my life: and they lived in their airy notions talking of him. It seemed strange to me at the first, that I should feed on that which the high professors trampled upon; but the Lord opened it clearly to me by his eternal Spirit and power.

In the regeneration man finds that he has, in the part of his soul called the natural man, animal propensities corresponding to the animals in the outer world. In the pictures of the mind, these take form as lions, horses, oxen, dogs, cats, snakes, and the birds of the air. The visions of Joseph, Daniel, John, and other Bible seers were of this character. When man understands that these animals represent thoughts, working in the subconsciousness, he has a key to the many causes of bodily conditions. It is clear to him that the prophets of old were using symbols to express ideas, and he sees that to interpret these symbols he must learn what each represents, in order to get the original meaning.

According to Genesis, the original creation was ideal, and through man the ideal was given character and form. Adam gave character to all the beasts of the field: "and whatever the man called every living creature, that was the name thereof." To the spiritually wise it is revealed that, when man is fully redeemed, he redeems and purifies and uplifts the animals in himself. The animal world will go

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through a complete transformation when the race is redeemed. As Isaiah says, "the wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox." Some even go farther than this, and say that in the millennium there will be no necessity for animals; that they are, in reality, the dissipated forces of the human family and that when those forces are finally gathered into the original fount in the subjective, there will be no more animals in the objective; that in this way man will be immensely strengthened and a certain connection will be made between the so-called material and the spiritual.