What is the "perfect law of liberty"? Is liberty—freedom from all that practically holds us in bonds, possible?
Yes, not only possible but sure, and yet attended with conditions.
You say you do not see how our sufferings, all that we call evil, are self-made; but just as long as you continue to believe that they are not, that they come from some intent and power extraneous to the human race, you will not be likely to keep the conditions necessary for this possible liberty.
Here is one essential which you must try to grasp and hold on to; you, I mean, who must have a reason at every step of the way and cannot with your inner eye pierce the clouds that envelop your rational nature.
Nature has no ethics.
Read that over and over to impress its meaning and truth upon you. There is no right and wrong in Nature per se. Nature is that eternal order of fundamental factors compelled by what First Cause is, not by what it chooses. And where there is no power of choice there is no right or wrong.
Read that last sentence again and again.
Only where there is power of choice can there be any right or wrong. We have been accustomed for so long to think of God as acting according to His will, and thinking of His will as what He chooses to do, that it is not easy to grasp this higher meaning. But try to see it, for it will help you so much when you do. It solves many a puzzle.
There is no justification for a God who purposely inflicts evil and suffering upon human beings, knowing their limitations and inability to cope with them. Such a God is an unnameable horror. When we see God as the governing Principle in Nature that will always act according to its own nature, we find a God that can be depended upon; and we see that understanding is the most essential thing.
God is Mind. Mind is always active. Its activity is Thought. Thought-Force is the Creative Power. It is constantly creating results.
You and I experience these results because this Creative Power works through us—through our thinking. It is sure to create. It cannot help it. It creates for us—to us.
What does it create? Our experiences.
Why do we have a painful experience? Because our own thought puts the quality into the result.
"But I had a very dreadful experience of which I had not been thinking at all" you say.
Yes, consciously you mean. You had not consciously, intentionally been thinking of such an one; but you had been unconsciously, unintentionally permitting thoughts in the common mental atmosphere to pass through you as your thoughts because you had not awakened to the necessity of conscious, individual thinking; and here you are guilty, not in a moral sense, but according to the sequence of cause and effect.
Morally there is no guilt till there is knowledge, for there is no active power of choice. You, the living soul, are the chooser, and the only one. And though ideally you have power to choose how you will think, practically, as a new-born Adam, you have not this power till experience has developed it in you. When experience has brought you to this point, ethics begin, and not before. Till then there is no right or wrong in the ethical sense.
There has been departure from the order of Nature, but this was consequent upon ignorance, not upon choice. You did not know any better, but your ignorance can not save—has not saved you from consequences; for Thought-Force is, ever was, and always will be, creative. It is Nature, not ethics.
As a living soul, from the first moment of existence you are confronted with that eternal order which constitutes Nature. You are to read the riddle, for you are the only factor in Nature capable of understanding the rest.
Remember this. Bead it again and again.
This is your destiny, to compass the whole. You, and you only, have power of choice. But this power is latent in you as an infant soul, and you become aware of it after having had experience.
You are first the servant of Nature, but you can become the Master of Nature. Through your ignorance of what and whence you are, though you have a divine birthright which entitles you to be Lord of all, you are first servant of all. You think by influence, not by choice.
Read that again.
Through ignorance—which is natural—you are negative, not positive. By being negative you are passive. By being passive—naturally—you reflect universal possibilities as your conditions. Practically, notwithstanding what you are ideally, you are a pipe through which passes the mental sewage of the human race; and this stream leaves its deposits with you.
You think as all ignorant souls think, influenced by what passes through you. And it is this kind of thinking which is responsible for your discordant and undesirable conditions.
This is not wrong in the ethical sense, for at first you know no better. It becomes wrong when you do know better, for ethics begin only with self-knowledge. Though not wrong the consequence is undesirable; but how would you find this out if you did not experience it? Experience is your first teacher, and when you understand her your future is in your own hands.
By your experience you learn that your undesirable conditions are consequent upon your ignorant or unconscious thinking, not upon conscious or intentional intellection; and that by intentional intellection you can change them. You can ward off and divert the general current that has been pouring through you, by filling yourself from the fountain head.
Read that again.
Full you are bound to be, and if you do not fill yourself with what you want, you will be filled by what you will not like as you experience it. "Nature abhors a vacuum."
When you have experienced what you do not like, you become competent to choose between it and what you would like. Then, having gained some self-knowledge, seeing that Thought is creative, you choose what you will think, becoming positive instead of passive. "First the natural, afterward the spiritual."
You choose what you will experience by putting yourself in the position of an individual doer, instead of remaining in that natural passivity which makes you only a receiver and transmitter of common ignorance and its errors of thought.
You are the only factor in Nature capable of understanding the rest. excuse repetition. Consequently you are the only one that can exercise the power of choice. This power is latent in you naturally, but it becomes active through experience. By its exercise you individualize your soul, preventing it from being only the conductor for the common mentality of the unenlightened race.
You "come out" from the universal to become the individual, and use Nature's resources instead of being used by them.
Now do you begin to see what is this “perfect law of liberty" and are you ready to look into it? So long as you remain this channel for the common stream to pour through, so long you will bear the consequences. You can free yourself from them by ceasing to be this channel. "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve."
Because thought is creative, because your thought gives quality to result, you can have the result you choose to have; but remember that choice is action and not passivity. Read "The Mastery of Fate" in the last number again, and see how necessary it is to be a "doer of the work" instead of "a forgetful hearer." Do an intentional, wise or enlightened thinking and you will prove the perfect law of liberty.
Thinking from influence instead of from choice is the natural state pertaining to every living soul. Coming out of the natural into the positive spiritual is the possibility for everyone, and is the way of salvation from all that afflicts.
We are never punished for our sins by a despotic ruler, for there is none. We are sure to be punished by them, by our sins of omission as well as of commission; and this punishment will continue till we oppose the enlightened individual thought pattern to the universal ignorant thought-pattern; till we stand in the world as individuals instead of passive instruments for the increase of sense-impressions.
The remedy for all that afflicts is to get back into the order of Nature from which in our self-idea we have ignorantly departed. This departure is the first natural—it is not an ethical matter—but the reinstatement is the higher natural.
Our choice lies between the two positions. When we do as well as we know, we do right. When we do not do as well as we know, we do wrong; and right and wrong are our own judgment. Nature's verdict is wise and unwise.
For generations we have been taught that Adam's sin "of which we are all partakers” was a moral sin. This is the mistake, the "original sin" of theology. There was and is no moral law in the Garden of Eden till souls make one. Nature is above ethics. Adam's sin is the natural consequence of ignorance, and the Adam-soul is naturally ignorant of its divine origin and destiny.
As Adams we share this natural error in self-idea and experience its consequences. But all the while there is the perfect law of liberty waiting for the soul to find it and keep its conditions. The soul must choose the positive and abjure the passive, thinking by choice instead of by influence. Then it is "a doer of the work" necessary to its own redemption from suffering, from all disease.
Because the law of cause and effect governs all things, because it can always be depended upon, this redemption is sure. By choice your relation to Nature and her resources can be changed "in the twinkling of an eye." Naturally the servant, you step into the position of Master.
Experience then becomes only the means by which you prove your mastery, good and valuable all the while, however the sense-man may feel it. Sensation no longer rules. It is ruled. He may cry out again and again, this sense-man, but the word of the Master is the word of authority and it will still the tempest of sensation.
By taking this position you lift up this sense-man, transforming him into a higher man, a transformation that shall go on till the Divine Likeness shines forth in all its majesty; and on this Mount of Transfiguration you too shall hear the silent voice saying “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased."
More Articles by This Author 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.