It is self-evidently true that if one wishes to solve a problem correctly he needs to be acquainted with the factors concerned in it. Attempts to reach a right conclusion without this acquaintance will prove abortive, and the worker, however persistent for a time, will become discouraged.
Like attempts to solve the problem of existence, individual and universal, have resulted, for many, in a fatalism paralyzing in its effects, a result mitigated in great or less degree by the moral or ethical sense as it assumes control.
While it would seem a mistake, at first sight, to assume that the collective attitude of religious bodies is a species of fatalism, and because it is one of faith in an overruling power, critical examination will show this faith to be destitute of the element which would save it from that quality.
There is a faith which results from knowledge and a faith which comes from lack of it. This kind of faith may be beautiful, but the other is more useful. One has a lasting foundation that strikes deeper and deeper with the assaults of experience; the other, one that is liable to weaken.
No teaching is ultimately helpful that declares the powerlessness of the individual in any direction, for its logical sequence is submission to the inevitable. Whether this teaching be religious, philosophic, or scientific, its effect upon the individual, and therefore upon the mass, is not the full development of his powers, but their partial stultification. Though this submission be disguised with the mask of obedience, it is not and cannot become that free and voluntary co-operation with unvarying law, through recognition of its nature, which constitutes obedience. Its "vestigial remains," carried over from generation to generation, prove it to be a species of fatalism dignified by the name of religion.
Religious and intellectual fatalism are alike undesirable. One is an ignorant faith resulting from lack of knowledge, the other an ignorant knowledge resulting from lack of the perception that leads to true faith. One who recognizes the simple, logical fact that man's destiny is involved in his origin echoes as his own desire Paul's utterance—"May the eyes of our understanding be enlightened…till we all come, in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man."
If carrying to perfection the basic plan is the destiny involved in man's origin, to be either a religious or an intellectual fatalist is equally a mistake. Unity of faith and knowledge is the essential for fulfilment of this destiny, the essential for the mastery of fate. It is the only basis for obedience in place of submission. Obedience recognizes and honors individuality; submission crushes and extinguishes it. The nature, dignity, and power of individuality is the key-note to be sounded persistently, whose vibrations shall conquer fear and fate with knowledge and surety.
In this series of articles it is to be thus sounded, and the attempt will be made to help to forward that unity of knowledge and faith which brings us finally unto "a perfect man"—the fulfilling of our destiny; an attempt which is primarily the effort to enlighten "the eyes of our understanding" rather than to cultivate dependence upon a mysterious and unknown God, or reliance upon ocular demonstration as the only evidence of truth.
As an illustration of the form of argument to be employed—not forgetting that illustration is always limited and not sufficient to cover the whole ground of perception—let us consider the relation of inventor and invention, and the consequence involved in them and in this relation. The inventor is the beginning or fixed point from which comes the invention. The inventor is the absolute, the invention is the relative. They stand to each other as cause and effect; the relation between them is a logical necessity. Consequently, a third factor appears—the inventive power, the link between cause and effect.
We have here a trinity in unity, a trinity which is a logical sequence, a unity which contains variety. Within this unity is involved a consequence which will evolve from it. If there be the inventor, there must be the inventive power and the Invention. If there be the invention or the inventive power, the other two are necessitated. They stand or fall together. Neither can survive, as the fittest, the destruction of the other two.
We are not obliged to believe and accept this trinity. It is a self-evident truth, and the lasting foundation of all that develops from it. Looking upon this development, or evolving of inherent consequence, as a building, this building is founded upon a rock which no tempest can remove from its place; therefore, the building will stand.
The invention must possess that nature which is derived from its cause. It is not its own cause; therefore, its nature is not self-bestowed. Being derived, its nature and all that enters into it as composite is compelled by the nature of the inventor. The one hinges upon the other. But the invention is not a visible thing, or an object in space seen with the sense of sight. It is idea, not an object in space seen by all who look in its direction.
As the inventor's idea it is visible to him; it lives and moves and has its being in him. It is whole, complete, and perfect as his perfected idea. To him it is real as having place in his consciousness. To others it is unreal because it is his, ideal; because it has no place in their consciousness.
Before it can become as real to them as it is to him, it must have place in their consciousness. The corresponding idea must be derived from their own natures; their idea must conform to this ideal. How may this be brought about?
They are individual; they are themselves; they are not the inventor. How may the idea arise or form within them, which corresponds to his idea—the invention—and which enables them to see his idea because they see its likeness? In other words, how may the—for them—invisible become the visible, the ideal become the real?
Here a mediator between the two is a help to that end—something that stands between the primal idea and its likeness in the individual consciousness; something which helps all to see and know what the inventor sees and knows. A model representing the inventor's idea, a working model, is "a means to this end. The reinvention, but, because as a visible object it represents the invention, it suggests it and its nature to the observer.
Visibility of the invention, which is the forming of a correct idea of it in the observer, depends upon how he regards this mediator—this visible representative of the invisible. It may be a help or a hindrance to him, while in itself it is unvarying as a means to an end.
Now let us apply our terms. The inventor is the cause or beginning from which the sequence proceeds, and by the operation of his inventive power. The invention, his idea, is the effect and the expression of his nature. It lives and moves and has its being in him. It is visible to him, known by him, but invisible and unknown to others. How can it be made visible and known to them? How be made plain, obvious, free from obscurity or doubt? How be made manifest?
Clearly, by the arising in them of the corresponding idea—the likeness of the invention.
How may this be brought about?
By a mediator—something which is visible and represents that invention, and which, in consequence, will suggest it to their consciousness.
When, as a result, the observer's equally complete and perfect idea, which is the likeness of the original idea, is formed within him, the original invisible is manifest to him, becoming the plain, clear, obvious, or visible.
The invention, as the expression, is that which may be understood; it is set forth by its producing cause.
The representation or model is that which is set forth a second time, or is presented anew.
The manifestation is that which is clear and obvious to understanding.
Between the beginning and the end of this sequence there is likeness. As a logical necessity the end must be like the beginning.
The Science of Being is based upon and embodies the view thus illustrated. Before its principles can be applied to the mastery of fate, they must be discerned and approximately understood. They are fundamental and capable of this practical application and demonstration.
Hence the necessity of their consecutive presentation, and the student's persistent attention to them alone, refraining from carrying along with him a pattern which he continually applies to see if the teaching will conform to it. His motive in studying these principles should be, "Are they true?" not "Do they agree with what I believe?" Belief is sometimes a good servant, but always a bad master.
In the next and succeeding articles the illustration here used will be applied to the nature of man.
More from 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.