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Correspondence School - Series 2 - Lesson 9 - Imagination

Booklet Cover





God is afar off, do you say?
I saw Him in the fields today
Painting the leaves of the maple and oak,
Sumac and woodbine with master stroke.
So deftly still in the autumn hush
The colors flowed from His magic brush;
Orange, crimson, golden green
On each passive bough were seen.

I saw Him in the clover bloom
And the pensive lance of the willow plume
Reflected in the loitering stream
As peaceful as a vagrant dream,
And I heard His step in the winds that pass
In drowsy waves through the meadow grass;
And the flaming disc in the autumn sky
Was the glory of Him passing by.

God is afar off, do you say?
I saw Him in the fields today.

--Jocile Webb Pearson, in Unity.

1. What is imagination? Show how imagination is the third step (day) in the creative process.

Every student of Truth should understand Spirit in all its expressions and be able to interpret the symbolism or parables of the Scriptures. Truth cannot be adequately conveyed by language, but the allegories written by those who have spiritual discernment can be understood by the student who takes the universal key of mind and applies it to these writings.

The 1st chapter of Genesis is an allegory; each day's creation represents the expression in Divine Mind of a fundamental idea and its associated thoughts. Seers have discerned that the universe is a representation of a "grand man" with stars and planets as the cells of his body. Back of this is Mind, with its faculties. This Mind— Spirit—is the origin of everything, and it creates or expresses itself in orderly, sequential steps (days"). These steps ("days") are not evolutionary, but they are the involution of the mind in a thought process that afterward comes forth in evolution.

Involution as described in this chapter of Genesis is the enfolding or enwrapping of the divine idea, the enveloping or concealing of all the qualities of God, all the ideas of Divine Mind in its seed idea, the Word. Evolution is the unfolding or unrolling of a great scroll, reading what has been written there by the hand of the Almighty, and interpreting aright what the plan or will of God is for man and the universe. The first movement ("day") of Mind is the expression of conscious intelligence, described in Genesis as "light." "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light" (Gen. 1:3) Without intelligence there is no thinking; it is simply mind drifting. In everything that he thinks man's mind should move in the same order as the events in the story of creation.

The second movement is faith (covered comprehensively in Lesson Eight). Faith is a substantial, abiding confidence in innate intuition for it is the power or faculty of perception.

The third movement is imagination. After our intelligence has grasped a subject, and our faith perceives or shows us that the subject is worthy of our consideration, then we turn our imagination upon it and try to see it from all sides, from different angles.

Imagination is primarily an idea in Divine Mind; a divine principle; one of the twelve powers of man, thus one of the twelve faculties of man's mind.

Imagination is the mental picture-forming faculty described in Genesis as the bringing forth of the "dry land" which God called the earth. Imagination is the faculty that beholds." With this faculty we form first in mind and then in substance the shape of that of which we are thinking. Imagination is the faculty of mind which "lays hold of" spiritual ideas and translates them into material Lesson 9 Page 2 forms, or in other words, externalizes them. It also "beholds" material forms in their spiritual essence, or reality; that is, as ideas in mind. Imagination is the great symbol interpreter of the mind.

"God answers our prayers in ideas, thoughts, words; these are translated into the outer realms, in time and condition" (Christian Healing, page 78).

Prayer is the cumulative action of the soul. It accumulates ideas from the One Mind, the storehouse of ideas.

The ancient Greeks took advantage of the mental law of imagination and surrounded their prospective mothers with beautiful pictures and statuary believing that the unborn child received from the mother's mind the impress of beauty that she beheld in these outer forms.

Jesus Christ demonstrated the law of imagination in a higher way because His imaging faculty was established in Truth. His mental pictures were based on the perfection of the ideas inhering in the One perfect Mind.

2. Where does one get the "pattern" that enables him to demonstrate perfection in body or affairs?

A clear understanding of the imagination, the imaging faculty, is necessary, because in order to demonstrate perfection in soul (mind), body, or affairs, we must go to the fount of wisdom, the Father-Mind, to receive the perfect idea of that which we desire to manifest. With a clear understanding of the working of mind, we then proceed to carry out the idea in thought, feeling, word, action, and reaction. The imaging must be clear, uninfluenced by negative impressions from the senses. Our vision must be based on Spirit, and we are to hold to it steadfastly in order to allow the spiritual idea to come into manifestation. By this we do not imply that all sense reactions are wrong, but to accept the edict of the senses as final is to accept a basis that is subject to change.

"All things, including the mind, work from center to circumference. A knowledge of this fact puts man on his guard and causes him to direct that his imagination shall not create things in his mind that have been impressed upon him from without. This does not imply that the outer world is all error, or that all appearance is the creation of finite mind; it means that the outer is not a safe pattern" (Christian Healing, page 100).

In the building and the furnishing of the tabernacle Moses was commanded: "See that thou make them after their pattern, which hath been showed thee in the mount" (Exodus 25:40). "The mount" represents the high place of spiritual understanding, the realm of divine ideas, the kingdom of God within man. God as Divine Mind contains all ideas necessary to express His divinity perfectly in every thought, feeling, word, and action of man. We are the image of God and through Spirit within us we have as our foundation all divine ideas. The activity of these ideas produces the functioning of our soul, body, and affairs.

For us to understand our spiritual foundation it is necessary for us to focus our mind (conscious phase) and heart (subconscious Lesson 9 , Page 3 4 phase), in "the mount" or high place in consciousness in order to find the source of our being. When we draw upon the spiritual realm, instead of the realm of appearances, for the patterns of thinking, we form in righteousness, in our faculty of imagination. Our formations are then true and abiding. All divine ideas are in this "mount" or "secret place of the Most High" (Psalms 91:1). We cannot get the vision of perfect ideas by looking without. Revelation must come to us from within.

We are the Idea of God, the Son Idea. This Idea must be expressed in the human consciousness, because we are destined to make manifest God's image-likeness, Jesus Christ, in the flesh, here and now. The perfect body will be demonstrated through a "beholding" of the perfect, eternal, living, glorified Christ body. Now we are ready to externalize, or work out, this perfect body-idea into every cell of our physical organism.

It is the privilege of everyone to choose the kind of mental pictures he will form with his faculty of imagination. Therefore,

"Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Phil. 4:8).

If the blessing of plenty seems to be lacking, it is because mental images of lack have been allowed to form until they have become objective. You cannot change conditions by working in the external; you must go back to the mental images from which the conditions were produced. Put a new slide into your magic lantern and you will throw a new picture upon the canvas.

3. How often is the physical body renewed?

Every thought is generative and produces after its kind. Erroneous thoughts produce inharmonious conditions in the soul (mind), body, and affairs, and true thoughts produce good conditions in these three realms. The body is in a continual state of renewal. When the imagination is trained continually to behold the perfect pattern of the body-idea in "the mount" then we can say:

I am the ever-renewing, the ever-unfolding expression of infinite life, health, youth, and beauty.

The truth is that it is the human consciousness that needs renewing daily in order that it may be filled with ideas that will be imaged forth in beauty and wholeness. The consciousness is renewed by thinking such thoughts as these:

I charge my mental and physical atmosphere with life, health, strength, energy, vitality, and power.

Man's body and his world are the result of what mankind individually and collectively thinks, believes, and accepts. A large part of humanity believes in old age and death, and as a result these beliefs Lesson 9 Page 4 are being worked out in the race day by day. When man changes the trend of his thoughts, sees life as abundant, beautiful, and eternally he will outpicture such thoughts in his human experience.

4. What effect does spiritual treatment have on mental pictures of error?

Spiritual treatment erases inharmonious mental pictures from the imagination. The substance of our faith which was put into these untrue concepts must be withdrawn. We cease to feed them or nourish them by thinking, speaking, or listening to anything that pertains to them. We deny reality to the conditions such concepts produced. Thus, we are able to erase from the imagination the error thought-form, the wrong belief that we have been holding in our consciousness. The trained metaphysician lays hold of power through meditation and prayer to enable him to erase (deny) the wrong beliefs from his own consciousness. He affirms by constantly beholding the perfect Christ body and thus he himself attains spiritual understanding. Such spiritual understanding will enable him to quicken the consciousness of faith in the mind of the one in whom the erasure is to be made, when that one is open and receptive to the spiritual treatment being given.

When our mind accepts a new picture, we consciously or subconsciously let go of the wrong mental picture. The negative thought form, obedient to the law of mind action, will disappear. We mentally see ourselves as free from the negative condition and in divine order the condition itself is dissolved.

It is no longer a mystery how an individual's appearance changes for the better--sometimes miraculously--when he changes the mental pictures he has been holding in his mind (thoughts and feelings). A new light then shines from the eyes; a new radiance glows in the countenance; and a "new creature in Christ comes into manifestation.

5. Explain the importance of the imagination in the forming of character.

Man's character is the total of all that has been built into his consciousness. Webster's Dictionary gives the root meaning of the word character as "to engrave." Thus, whatever is "engraved" upon the imagination by the law of mind will form the character as well as external conditions. "Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matt. 5:3). An understanding of mind and how it works reveals to us that to realize our perfect estate we must claim it in faith and steadily picture ourselves as the image of God becoming in actuality (outer form) the likeness of God. The man with understanding ideates himself as the image of God, God's perfect idea of Himself in visibility. He sees himself as one with divine love. He beholds himself as having and exercising divine Judgment and justice in all ways. With the faculty of imagination, he sees himself as God's representative, one with unlimited power. He keeps his interest and attention on the orderliness of all that he touches. He images himself as Godlike so that he brings into expression the ideas, qualities, or attributes of God, thus knowing himself as a true son of God--perfect as God is perfect. By the right use of the faculty of imagination one may form a perfect character, a perfect body, a perfect world.

It is well for us to understand the law of mind action, for we meet its manifestations on every hand. The imagination, which is an (Lesson 9 Page 5) integral part of this mind action, has often been belittled. Because imagination has not been understood, it has been described as belonging only to daydreams. Now it is known to be one of God's gifts to man, one of the fundamental faculties in our makeup. We must learn to use the imagination righteously if we would reap a harvest of good in mind, body, and affairs.

6. How may anxious thoughts be overcome?

Anxiety and fear are caused by man's false belief in a power opposed to God, the good omnipotent; by false sense perceptions of something considered unpleasant; by conclusions based on unwise judgment; by negative reactions. This means that man is letting his imagination run riot or remain undisciplined. Man has the ability to direct and to control his thinking and feeling through staying his mind on Truth. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee” (Isa. 26:3) Man must use the I AM power, mastery, and dominion by centering his attention in the I AM or Christ consciousness. Having exercised that power, man's mind will image or picture the good and be at peace. Each person should take possession of the "throne" and judge his twelve powers, symbolized by the twelve tribes of Israel. He is the judge of what shall be imaged by him and he should carry out his dominion in thinking, feeling, speaking, acting, and reacting.

Our thinking must be positive along the lines of what we want to be and to experience. An understanding of Divine Mind and its powers (ideas) will help us to remain faithful to our goal--conscious oneness with God and manifestation of our divine heritage. Our faith should be established in God, Absolute Good, thus eliminating all negative feelings, doubts, and beliefs. By having our vision (imagination) on the high and the true, the one Presence and Power, by becoming consciously established in the Spirit of Truth, our desire will be for the expression of Truth, thus only good will come forth in our life. Man is master of every situation when he is master of his thoughts, feelings, words, actions, and reactions.

7. Why is it unwise for one to give himself to excessive daydreaming?

All forms in the mental or soul realm are the result of concepts and do not of themselves have real power. Just daydreaming is not conducive to well-being. Individuals who indulge excessively in daydreams, and are "carried away" by beautiful visions, are often impractical. This is a misuse of the power of imagination, through lack of discipline of the faculty of imagination. By letting the mind run loose, control over it is weakened and for the time being it cannot be used effectively to bring forth good demonstrations.

Everyone has a purpose in life, whether he is aware of it or not, and it is only by a disciplined or trained mind that this purpose can be discovered and acted upon. One who is given to excessive daydreaming is not inclined to make purposeful use of his imagination, or formative power of thought. Such a one needs to develop a greater consciousness of faith in his ability to act and to achieve that which results in his well-being.

Man's purpose is to make his vision (imaging) of Truth actual in the realm of manifestation. To bring forth an idea requires faith not only that the idea is possible of accomplishment, but that within us is the power and ability to bring it forth into manifestation. Then faith must be proved by our acting accordingly. Our faith should be Lesson 9 Page 6 so great that every conscious power and ability is set in full motion toward the fulfilling of the idea. Without faith and action, the idea remains only on the mental screen of the imagination. The practice of daydreaming carried to excess weakens one's ability to concentrate and leaves the faculty of faith in idleness. Man is here to release and exercise all the powers of Divine Mind (Being) through which he attains dominion. He must keep ever before him this one thought: The foundation of everything is mind, and manifestation is effect. Forms are the manifestation of ideas. An important work of the imaging faculty is the formation of clear pictures of divine ideas in man's imagination. This is accomplished through thinking right thoughts, assembling those thoughts in right relationship, until the divine ideas are firmly established in the consciousness as productive principles. All power is given to him who understands the imagination, or formative power of thought. He makes his understanding substantial with faith and feeling and is thereby master of ideas and of his own destiny.

8. Is there any power outside of man to harm him?

There is only one Presence and Power in the universe, God, the good omnipotent. This one Presence and Power is omnipresent Absolute Good, therefore there is no power outside of man to harm him. However, man has been given the freedom to think, feel, and form mental images as he chooses. If he is not in spiritual understanding and if he does not use his powers and abilities according to divine law, he may have dreams that frighten him and cause him to believe that there is a power outside of him that is working against him. But such thoughts, feelings, and mental images are not true. They have their origin in man's limited understanding. Man has the power to choose the kind of thoughts and feelings that he desires. Therefore, he harms himself by giving power to pictures of imperfection. Every mental picture represents a thought, a concept, or a belief that is based upon man's understanding (be it great or small) and his use of divine ideas. To interpret dreams correctly one must have clear understanding of divine ideas and their relation to the symbols in the dream.

Joseph of the Old Testament represents the faculty of imagination active down in Egypt, the subconscious. Joseph did not interpret dreams literally but showed that they are symbolical and represent certain ideas, thoughts, beliefs, concepts, at work in the consciousness either of the individual, the nation, or the race. Each person has the ability to get the meaning and truth of his own dreams. Identical dreams may have entirely different meanings for different persons. Only Spirit can reveal the import of the dream to the individual. When the imaging faculty is developed under divine law and is in harmony with Spirit, we shall get true pictures in our consciousness. Then we shall know how to interpret them for our safe direction and well-being.

9. Why should children be taught to be fearless?

The habit of frightening children and telling them that there is something outside of themselves to harm them is a negative way to train children and may be detrimental. Such training suggests mental images of fear, with the mental and physical results of fear. Fear has no rightful place in the human consciousness. Of all the false concepts, harmful emotions, nothing has been so injurious as fear. These concepts held in the imagination are sometimes impressed so forcibly upon the child that he has them to deal with when he becomes Lesson 9 Page 7 an adult, long after they were introduced into his consciousness. A mind possessed by fear conjures up false mental pictures that temporarily render the mental faculties ineffectual in their functioning.

10. What relation does "beholding" bear to the work of transforming man?

We are transformed and transfigured by "beholding." Whatever we persistently "behold" (Imagine) that we manifest. Only as man's character is transmuted by the attuning of his thoughts, feelings, acts, and reactions to Truth can he be said to be "transformed." We build conditions in human experience by "beholding" whether it has to do with outer conditions or with spiritual consciousness.

"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).

Some translators of the text use the words "from character to character" instead of "from glory to glory."

The perfect pattern for us is Jesus Christ, the perfect man, originating in each one as the seed Idea of perfect man. The expression of this perfect idea in the character of the individual transfigures the body of flesh into the exalted, glorified Christ booty. Jesus represents the correct use of the Christ principle bringing forth into manifestation the Christ idea in man. "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth" (Isa. 45:22). Such Bible expressions have a deep spiritual meaning when studied in this connection. "Christ . . . shall appear a second time . . . to them that wait for him, unto salvation" (Heb. 9:28). Christ shall appear to them that look for Him. Those who look for and find the indwelling Christ of God and steadfastly "behold" His perfection and glory shall be transmuted, transformed, and transfigured into His likeness.

Jesus lived so close to the Father within that He constantly "beheld" God individuated in Himself and "he was transfigured before them; and his face did shine as the sun, and his garments became white as the light" (Matt. 17:2). As we live day by day with His Image ever before us, desiring with all our mind and heart to express Jesus' character and nature in all that we think, feel, say, and do, a great change comes over us—we are transformed.

"There is a pattern in heaven that he who chooses may behold, and in the beholding may set his own house in order" (attributed to Plato).

We know that the "pattern in heaven" or in the realm of divine ideas that we are to behold is the Christ, the I AM, the divine ideal which is God's Idea of Himself made manifest as man. Also, we need to remember that every good manifestation has a divine Idea "in heaven" that has made possible the visible thing or condition.

It is interesting to observe that the quotation states "he who chooses may behold, and in the beholding may set his own house in order." When we "behold" that which is good and true, it is then our choice as to whether we shall begin to set our own consciousness Lesson 9 Page 8 ("house") in order that it may be based only on Truth. Denial and affirmation play a vital part in setting the mind in order so that the imagination may have a receptive consciousness upon which to impress the mental pictures of God's good. By beholding the pattern of innate perfection, we transform our lives for that which is pictured or imaged consistently in the imagination becomes manifest in our body and affairs. One Truth teacher expressed this same thing in these words, "Whatever we put our attention on we force to come into our life."

If we constantly see (behold) ourselves as essentially good, we will manifest goodness. When we consistently see ourselves as happy, comfortably situated, with many friends, loved and being loved, we must inevitably bring such conditions into our experience. If we see the opposite, just as certainly will we manifest undesirable conditions. We form and build the conditions, circumstances, and situations in our own world, just as we form and build our consciousness of spiritual values. When we hold in our mind (in our imagination) the picture of Truth, divine order, perfection, and sustain such a mental picture with our thinking and feeling, then we may be sure that Truth, divine order, and perfection will be made manifest in our life and surroundings.

We must "behold" or take hold of with our faculty of imagination that which we would be or do. We must not only take hold of it, look it over, but we must hold to the idea firmly and constantly. We need to "behold" the pattern (idea) first with our conscious phase of mind (thinking) and allow it to be accepted by the subconscious phase (feeling nature) so that it may bring forth the likeness in body and affairs. In this way the mind is renewed—"Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Rom. 12:2).

Perhaps the following words, by a religionist of the nineteenth century, give some idea of the value of our faculty of imagination,

"The soul without imagination is what an observatory would be without a telescope."

This lesson was transcribed on April 20, 2021 by Coy Brock.