Lesson 3 – Understanding and Will
Sunday lesson given at Unity Center of Christianity in Baltimore, October 20, 2019.
Hi Friends -
This talk is the third of a six-part series based on Catherine Ponder’s Dynamic Laws of Prosperity. As I said last week, the talks are based on a theory I’ve been harboring for several years—that chapters two through seven of her book reflect a particular coupling and ordering of metaphysical truths from the twelve powers as taught by Charles and Cora Fillmore.
The first lesson was commentary on Chapter 2 of The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity from the perspective of our faculties of Strength and Order. These faculties are foundational to how we present ourselves. Together, they form an axis from which our bodies are poised and from which we emit our body language. It’s subtle, but basic. Stillness (Strength) and composure (Order) are, in my view, the foundation for our bodily expression and so are the foundation for how we radiate.
Last week’s lesson was commentary on Chapter 3 of The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity from the perspective of our faculties of Renunciation and Life. I referred to Renunciation as Relaxation and Release, which is my sense of what Renunciation is really about. Relaxation, Release and Life comprise our ability to evolve spiritually. Evolution is change and what was once there is now something else. The remains of what was once there is now a fossil, an empty shell, a skeleton. It is, to use Dr. Ponder’s analogy, a vacuum that has made way for evolution, a new form (or expression) of life.
This week’s lesson is commentary on Chapter 4 of The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity from the perspective of our faculties of Understanding and Will. Having created a vacuum by the process of Relaxation and Release, we now shift to filling the vacuum with new good from our deepest desire and we do so with Understanding and Will.
The key to this chapter, and perhaps the key to Catherine Ponder’s entire book, is having a healthy perspective on desire. She begins her first chapter saying, “The shocking truth about prosperity is that it is shockingly right instead of shockingly wrong for you to be prosperous!”
Why do so many of us find prosperity to be “shockingly wrong?” We find it shockingly wrong because Christianity has always been suspicious of desire, or at least suspicious of people with strong desires. All too often we associate strong desire with a big ego. According to Catherine Ponder, that sort of thinking is conflicted thinking that sets up a “conflicting result in affairs.”
Thinking that only people with big egos want to be prosperous is sinful thinking, according to Catherine Ponder, Charles Fillmore, and most everyone in New Thought. And it is sinful thinking because, as Ed Rabel declared time and again, it is thinking that “negates one of God’s divine ideas.”
What is a negation of “one of God’s divine ideas?” An example, according to Catherine Ponder, is poverty. Here is what she has to say: “Poverty is a form of hell caused by man’s blindness to God’s unlimited good for him. Poverty is a dirty, uncomfortable, degrading experience.” The 3rd Unity principle is right, we shape our experience by the activity of our thinking. If we’re experiencing poverty, we are negating a divine idea, the divine idea of prosperity.
This takes us to the relation of a healthy perspective on desire and a good understanding of divine ideas. According to Emilie Cady (in her chapter on Faith in Lessons in Truth), “Desire is God tapping at the door of your mind, trying to give you greater good.” According to Emilie Cady, all desire comes from God, not from us, and certainly not from our big ego. If this concept is new to you, or if you find it “shockingly wrong,” then you can read a detailed explanation in the commentary in the Lessons In Truth Study Edition, entitled “Why We should Be Preaching Emilie Cady’s Theology of Desire.”
This takes us to how this chapter on The Creative Law of Prosperity is related to our faculties of Understanding and Will. If behind every desire is a divine idea, then Understanding is our capacity to latch on to the divine idea supporting our desire and Will is our capacity to defend our desire from doubt, fear, shame and complacency.
Let’s start with Understanding and it’s ability to latch on to the divine idea. We know that not every idea is divine nor every desire is good. This is why Christianity has been suspicious of people with great desire. It is easy for the wheels to come off and to become greedy when we are pursuing wealth.
However Understanding, which is really Spiritual Understanding, is able to recognize the true divine idea behind each desire, regardless of whether our desire is good or bad. And, if the desire is not good, Spiritual Understanding (or Wisdom as Cora Fillmore refers to it) will reveal this error and direct us to a desire more in line with the underlying divine idea. That is one reason why we should affirm our desires with the phrase “this or something better.”
As a side note, this highlights a problem with the persistent ego bashing we see in much of metaphysical religion. It may be true that strong desire really is related to having a big ego. But the big ego isn’t the problem. The problem is a desire held with no spiritual understanding of the divine idea behind it. That’s greed, not prosperity.
Now let’s move on to our faculty of Will. As said above, Will is our capacity to defend our desire from doubt, fear, shame and complacency. Cora Fillmore begins her chapter on Will in Christ Enthroned in Man saying,
When Moses was born his life was, from the viewpoint of man, in immediate danger. The king of Egypt had issued an edict that every male child born to the Israelites should be killed. This decree doomed Moses. But the spiritual nature wrapped in the soul of the young babe delivered him from the man-made law and brought him safely through every peril.
The great mother love in the heart of the woman who bore Moses caused her to hide him away during the first few months of his life. When she could no longer keep him in concealment, she made a basket of rushes, placed him in it, and set the basket among the reeds on the shore of the river Nile, with the prayer that God guide the little bark and bring the precious cargo into the hands of someone who could and would protect and save her child. God’s hand protected the boat. An Egyptian princess, accompanied by her ladies in waiting, came to bathe in the Nile. She found the babe in his queer boat and adopted him. Thus through God’s guidance this little waif (presumably) was placed where he received the best of care, where eventually every advantage of the land of Egypt was opened to him.
Moses became a great leader, a great lawgiver. The name Moses means “drawing out.” Through the power of divine guidance he finally led the Children of Israel out of their Egyptian bondage and placed them on the path that led to the Promised Land.
We can learn much from this passage. First is that authentic divine ideas truly are in immediate danger of being killed by dark thoughts. Second is that divine ideas are most vulnerable in early stages and so we protect them by wrapping them in the feminine part of our soul. Third is that when our divine ideas begin to become noticeable, we must send them forth and trust God for their protection. And, last, divine ideas produce great leaders who lead us out of bondage to prosperity. Their greatness is intrinsic, it is “drawn out” by the power of Spiritual Understanding and supported by Will.
Cora Fillmore goes on to say,
Man has become willful, which is the cause of much of his suffering. He has lost almost all conception of what it is to hear and to heed the voice of the indwelling Lord. He looks to man-made laws and to man’s opinions as standards of living and thinks that in worldly affairs there is no place for religion. The affairs of the world have been carried on independent of the higher powers, until today our civilization is approaching chaos.
Catherine Ponder shares many practical things about how to hear and to heed sincere desire:
- How we can release our deep-seated desires (p. 57).
- Why we must write down our desires (pp. 58-60).
- What we can do when we don’t really know what we want (p. 61).
- Formulas and instructions for practicing the Creative Law of Prosperity (p.62-68)
- How to overcome grievances about the past (p. 71-72).
- The power of boldness and starting when we don’t know how the outcome will be accomplished (p. 74-75)
Last week I alluded to Frances Foulks’ classic Unity book, Effectual Prayer and the five-step prayer process she developed: Relaxation, Concentration, Meditation, Realization and Gratitude. If last week’s lesson (the Vacuum Law) was about Relaxation, it may be said that this week’s lesson (the Creative Law) is about Concentration. I find a congruency not only between Catherine Ponder’s laws of prosperity and Charles Fillmore’s twelve powers but also between Catherine Ponder’s laws of prosperity and Frances Foulks’ five-step prayer process.
Such should be true when considering metaphysical Truth. To hear and to heed divine ideas is an act of concentration, which requires a strong ego and a well-developed capacity for concentration. Next week we will proceed to chapter 5, The Imaging Law of Prosperity where we will learn more about mystical methods of prosperity.
Sunday, October 20, 2019