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Joseph Wolpert: Classical Christianity and Unity


"Consciousness is the sense of awareness, of knowing. It is our knowing that we know. The ideas that are held in mind are the basis of all consciousness. The nature of the ideas upon which consciousness is formed gives character to it. Consciousness is the knowledge or realization of any idea, object, or condition. It is the sum total of ideas accumulated in and affecting man's present being. It is the composite of ideas, thoughts, emotions, sensation, and knowledge that makes up the conscious, subconscious, and superconscious phases of mind. It includes all that man is aware of in spirit, soul, and body. The total consciousness of man is the conscious, subconscious, and superconscious, phases of mind working as a whole, as a unity." (Ibid., pp 49-50)

The "conscious" phase of mind is our everyday waking consciousness with which we establish our relations with the outer realm of existence and recognize our own individual entities.

The "subconscious" phase of mind is the seat of memory. It has no ability to do any original thinking. On the contrary, it acts upon what it has received through the conscious and superconscious phases of mind.

The "superconscious" phase of mind is the bridge to the very experience of God and in a sense is the avenue through which divine ideas are received by humanity.

The conscious phase of mind, ideally, should look to the superconscious for its direction and instruction. But humanity, symbolized by Adam failed to do this. The result was the symbolic Fall as described in Genesis 3.

Another way of describing what took place allegorically in the "Garden" is through the use of what Carl Jung called the Four Functions of Consciousness.

Consciousness can be viewed as consisting of four functions: Intuition, Sensation (that which is perceived through the five senses), Thinking, and Feeling. Intuition is ideally to be the source through which we receive our guidance and instruction. Even scripture says "Do not judge according to appearances..." (John 7:24). The sense can indeed deceive us. Also, our own thinking can be misleading as well. How we feel depends upon our cognitive responses and will be consistent with them but if they are faulty then we can not be always guided by our feelings either.

One way in which the story of the Fall can be interpreted is in terms of these functions of consciousness.

In the allegory, there are four characters, man, woman, the serpent, and God. Man symbolizes the thinking function. Woman symbolizes the feeling function. And the Serpent and God symbolize Sensation and Intuition respectively.

With this understanding, it becomes clear then that the disobedience which this allegory illustrates was the failure to follow the Intuitive function of consciousness through which God speaks to man. The result of course was catastrophe. Humanity accepted the false belief in "two" powers, the notion of both Good and Evil, God and Not-God as mentioned earlier.

What then is the relationship between God and Humanity?

Humanity, of course, is God's creature but it is a special creature that has the ability to commune with God through mental processes. This is not accomplished through the normal waking consciousness but through the superconsicous phase of mind or the faculty of Intuition.

This is where and how the Grace of God is experienced and the reason that Unity does not place emphasis on physical or outer sacraments. The problem is one of consciousness and the solution entails a change of consciousness.

What then is the "problem" of humanity and how is humanity to be redeemed? The essential problem is one of ignorance - the failure to realize that all human problems ultimately rest on the fact that humanity believes itself to be separated from God when in truth - "he is not far from each one of us, for In him we live and move and have our being..." (Acts 17:27b-28a).

Does this mean then that humanity can redeem itself?

One of the big objections that the second century church had against Gnosticism was that the gnostics taught that all that was needed was a certain kind of knowledge for redemption to take place. The church said that humanity was too much under the power of sin for it to redeem itself and therefore a redeemer was needed. This is why Jesus came to earth, according to classical Christian theology.

Charles Fillmore saw the obstacle to humanity's redemption in different terms.

According to Unity teaching, all human problems have at their root the false sense in separation from God which expresses itself in terms of duality and the notions of Good and Evil.

Once that initial sin, error, or mistake was made multiplicity came into being and the conscious awareness of only one presence and power - God - faded, as it were from memory.

Again, his was not the result of one person's sin (Adam) but was the result of humanity at large or at least more than one person.

So, there is in a sense more than one consciousness that has to be dealt with. Yes, there is the individual consciousness which perpetuates the error of the false belief in separation from God but this is not entirely an individual error or problem. Because there is also "race consciousness" into which all of us are born and are definitely subject to:

"The human race has formed laws of physical birth and death, laws of sickness and physical inability, making food the source of bodily existence, laws of mind that recognize no other source of existence except the physical. The sum total of these laws forms a race consciousness separate from and independent of creative Mind. When creative Mind sought to help men spiritually, the mind of flesh opposed it and made every effort to solve its problems in its own way. The great need of the human family is mind control. Jesus showed us that mastery is attained through realization of the power of Spirit" (RW, p 162)

Consequently, if all human problems ultimately are caused by the false sense of separation from God, the solution, then to all human problems is the realization of Oneness with God. And this brings us then to a discussion of Jesus Christ, who he was in terms of humanness and divinity, and his saving act.