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The Common Ground of the Oriental and Occidental Philosophy

When we can look upon existence as only the gradual appearing of what we eternally are in our being, it ceases to be a puzzle and an unfathomable mystery. Chaos ceases and Cosmos begins. Order succeeds disorder; a constantly clearing vision: the perplexity and obscurity.

As nothing can evolve that is not primarily involved, all that makes up our existence is involved in our being as a possible consequence of its nature. As that nature is composite, there must be variety of consequence. If we are clear in our perception of the fixedness of our being, we can view all these possible consequences without dismay. "Whatever comes, whatever goes, I am."

Our being is the Divine Ideal. Existence is the actualizing of this Ideal. Our being is God's plan. Existence is the carrying out of this plan. Our being is the archetypal Man. Existence is the gradual embodiment of this archetype till the God-Man stands revealed as the Man-God.

Existence is necessarily full of change. It is a constant putting off and putting on; for the being—"image of God"—is to be "fruitful." It is to "bring forth" till all that is possible to such a nature is brought forth. We need not be appalled at any one consequence, for any undesirable consequences limited, and can be first modified and finally overcome by another less limited and more potent. Whatever result of the lesser possibilities of being we encounter in our existence, it can always be dominated by higher possibilities.

To this end they must be brought together. We must bring the greater to bear upon the lesser. Certain tendencies we feel. Certain potencies we perceive. What we perceive must be brought to bear upon what we feel. The greater will rule the lesser if we do our part as mediator between the two.

Remember that in existence we play the part of spectator and observe the unfolding of our own primal being and the graded consequences of that unfolding. Abstractly, existence, from beginning to end, is good. But in existence there is comparison. This is good, that is better, and that is best. Our sense about existence, the view we hold of it, and the feeling we have about it, must be movable—must move along from that which is good at one time to that which is better, and finally to that which is best.

The spectator who observes this unfolding is the soul or self. Here is our statement—"In being, which is fixed, I am the expression of God. In soul, I am the actualization of this Ideal. Therefore, while I am complete in being, I am not yet complete in soul. While I am conscious that I am, I am not yet fully conscious of what I am. In soul, I must grow or become; grow till what I am in being is fully revealed or manifested."

When this sense of existence, and the feeling it engenders, supplant the old sense and feeling, we become masters of fate. The old is the natural—natural to our ignorance of our true being. The new is the spiritual which comes from perception of our true being. "First the natural, afterward the spiritual." At this point is found one of the greatest stumbling-blocks for the would-be student of the Science of Being. "If I am created originally perfect, why am I so different now? If what God created was perfect, how can I be imperfect now?"

Here is a paradox, one of the “mysteries of the kingdom of heaven." You are, always were, and always will be, complete and perfect in being. You are not yet complete and perfect in soul or self-consciousness, but you will be eventually. In being you subsist. In soul you exist, and existence is not yet rounded out, full and complete. To-day, you are conscious of your being—of its nature and properties, only in a degree. As a soul, your present existence is limited. In being, your possibilities are infinite.

More of the possibilities of your being must be brought into your existence as a soul. In being, no comparison is possible, except with God. You are the "image of God." This is the only comparison to be made, there. In soul, you are qualified by the degree of development. In soul, you are good, may be better, will sometime be best. Imperfection is incompleteness. In soul, you are yet incomplete. Soul must develop till it is all it can become. Throughout this development the being is fixed in its completeness. The being is good in that highest sense which admits of no comparison. It cannot be bettered. The soul is good in the sense which admits of comparison. It is good as far as it goes; but it is to go farther, is to be better and better till it is the best.

The paradox is no paradox when it is understood With-understanding all mystery is removed. We would do well to pray Solomon's prayer—to ask as the greatest boon possible to be bestowed upon us, “Give me, O Lord, an understanding heart!" We pray when we desire. When our desire is for understanding above all things, and because we see that understanding is the basis for true feeling, that prayer will be answered for the seeking soul; for the desire develops that power which is in the fixed and eternal being. This development is the answer to prayer.

Soul develops only through desire, and develops always according to desire. Hence a higher quality of soul—more consciousness of what we are in being—is gained only as it is desired. If we are content with things as they seem, we cannot know them as they are in themselves while this contentment lasts. A “divine discontent" is imperative if we shall grow in soul—if we shall actualize the divine Ideal.

Our being is to bring forth its soul or self. This is its fruitfulness. The soul, potential in the being, is to be put forth from it. The being involves the soul, which, consequently, is evolved from it. Soul is self-consciousness. Self-consciousness is to be multiplied. "Be fruitful and multiply." That which is put forth from the being is to increase and increase—or multiply—till it is all it can become, and it can become all that is possible to the being.

Here we have the common ground of Oriental and Occidental philosophy, the fundamental principles which give to each—and its various ramifications—its vitality or “breath of life." Strip each system of its clothing, apply analysis to the body till analysis can go no farther, and you will find these principles as the lasting residuum. On these principles rest the Science of Being, which is applicable to the whole human race, to residents of this and all worlds, visible and invisible. And whether the soul follow the Oriental or the Occidental road as a seeker for and demonstrator of the Science of Being, it is making the same pilgrimage, seeking the same “Light."

"Man, know thyself." As souls our destiny is fixed. We make our own fate. Our destiny is involved in our origin. Our fate is involved in our blindness to that origin. Our blindness is natural, our fate is its as natural consequence. While that blindness continues we are mastered by fate, but all the while, under the surface of existence, we are being ruled by our destiny. When the blindness is displaced by applied understanding, we master our fate and rule with our destiny. Then we co-operate with that fixed destiny, with the Primal Energy that is bringing it to pass, working with it instead of against it.

The soul begins to master fate when, seeing its destiny, it uses the law of cause and effect instead of being used, unconsciously, by it. This law acts ever according to its nature, and will not be turned aside or stayed for all our ignorant petitioning. And because it is immutable, we—as souls—can make our fate what we will; make it accord with our destiny.

"As a man"—a soul—"thinketh, so is he." As we think, we—as souls—are. Our being is above and beyond the possibility of change. Remember, it never becomes. It is. But our consciousness of its nature and power—soul—is determined by what we think. What we think determines what we feel. What we are in self-consciousness is determined by what we think and feel. Soul can never rise higher than the level of the thought it embodies; hence, as we think, so are we in soul. When our self-idea is a low one, our self-consciousness is necessarily limited, too limited to admit of much power. As our self-idea rises our self-consciousness expands and includes more power. "Ye shall be as gods."

How are you thinking to-day? How do you do? For our thinking is primal doing. The objective act follows after the preceding subjective thought.

"Oh, I am wretchedly ill and altogether miserable."

Well! Who is to blame if you are? It is good for you that you are miserable and ill, because your experience is your first teacher and it must show you what you have done. You have been—and still are—thinking that which is not true of your being. What you think is true to you as an ignorant soul—you feel that way, for you feel your thought, and you have not known better than to think that thought.

You have unwittingly let yourself drift in the mental current of common belief, thinking as others think and because they tell you that their belief is truth. You are expiating the sins of the world because you are expiating your own sin, which is error in thought. Thought begets feeling. You—as a soul that is not yet awake to its destiny—ignorantly take upon you all the woes of undevelopment.

You have to experience the consequences of ignorance, but you are just as sure to experience the consequences of higher knowledge when you get it and apply it to the woes. And your suffering is the beginning of the means—not the full means—by which you get it. In soul or self-consciousness you are full of suffering. In being you are full of power to dominate that suffering. Bring the two together. Bring the power of real being to bear upon the sense of suffering.

You, as a soul, can turn from one to the other if you will. You, as a soul, can choose which you will serve, which way you will think; whether according to the sense which is temporal or the being which is eternal. You, as a soul, are continually choosing one or the other. Your suffering continues, because you are continually and unwittingly choosing it, even while you are hunting all over the world for a remedy for it.

Grow, you must. You must be born into a higher consciousness. Your sufferings are but the birth-pangs, and they will continue till the birth is accomplished. Your thought must be born again, for you, as a soul, to "enter into" the kingdom of mastery, which is the kingdom of God. Never till you think the masterful thought will you master suffering. Never will you be rid of suffering in some form till you do master it never will you find its remedy in any objective thing.

"The kingdom of God is within you." The powers of your being are the remedy. They must be brought to bear upon the conditions of the soul, and then they will lift the soul—gradually, not all at once—to its level. Watch your thinking. Think according to your being, the absolutely true standard, and not according to a present sense which is only relatively true and is to be outgrown and known no more.

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Ursula N. Gestefeld

  • Born April 22, 1845 and died in 1921 (burried at Graceland Cemetery, Chicago).
  • Involved in Christian Science
  • Most famous work is The Woman Who Dares.
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