All our shortcomings and limitations are understood when we see that the personal I is necessarily limited by the self-sense, while the real I, the individuality, is limitless and complete outside of the sense of self. We see that our work, in the face of these present limitations, is to cultivate a new and higher self-sense; that this work can be done successfully and that its harvest is sure. We part company with "I can't," and form a partnership with "lean."
We see why we can and we are not working in the dark. We see that we can and must hold that self-ideal in mind which is in accord with the real and eternal I, instead of that ideal which accords with the personal I; for this is limited to time. It has not the element of perpetuity till it has taken on a certain quality. It must die and die again, be resurrected and resurrected again till it has become the divine personality.
How is this personal I thinking today? According to its natural self-sense or according to its real and eternal being—the Lord? If the appearance of what it calls matter—with its various shapes—is its standard for thought, it is increasing and intensifying that soul-quality which eventually must disappear, and which will die hard because of this intensifying. If it is thinking according to its true being, if it has turned to the Lord, it is increasing that quality of soul which is eternal.
Here is the secret of eternal life for the soul—its destiny because of its origin. Both mortality and immortality are conditions. The one is put off and the other is put on. The choice between them must be made, the work necessary to be done voluntarily undertaken. The time for this is now. "Acknowledge the Lord in all thy ways and he will direct thy paths." Because they are conditions they must pertain to that which is conditioned.
Our real being is not conditioned by existence. It is above and beyond that existence which is the unfolding of its nature to view. It is conditioned only by its relation to its cause, and this relation makes it the changeless Lord of the soul.
"I am that I am. My real being can never change or decay. It is from the forever to the forever. It is whole and complete, lacking nothing. All that God can give to it is already given. It has health, strength, power and peace, dominion over all things. Though my soul falls short of this perfection, it is being perfected through that Lord which worketh in me to will and to do. Though my soul is compassed about by the actualities of mortality and seems at present subject to its conditions, I know that it is being delivered from them and is being brought from death unto life by its over-ruling Lord.
"My soul is putting off its mortality and is putting on its immortality through the Word which I speak; for the Word is mighty in power. I declare my freedom from mortality and its conditions, whatever the appearance. That serpent has no longer power to beguile me into self-deception. I accept appearance as my standard of judgment no longer. I judge righteous judgment, for I judge according to my real eternal being. No theory based upon dust as the substance of man can turn me away from that freedom of the Sons of God which is mine by right; and which I now claim and oppose to those conditions due to the limited development of my soul."
Plant your feet upon this rock, the rock of understanding, and to you will be given the keys of life and death, of heaven and hell. And whatever you shall bind as you stand there, shall remain bound; and whatever you shall unloose shall remain unloosed. You are the arbiter of your own fate. The universe and all in it is yours.
What shall it be to you, while it is everlastingly for you? Shall it be an ascending heaven or a devouring hell? Must you find your heaven through your hell, ascending through torment, or will you descend from heaven even into what would be hell to others, but which is no place of torment for you because even the devils are subject unto you as the child of God.
Servant or Master? is the question to be answered by the soul for itself, an answer none other can give. Upon its answer, depends whether it is bound under the law of the Old Testament; bound to perfect its self-knowledge only through experience, experiencing every form of suffering as the condition through which it eventually learns of its power to rule suffering; or whether it has come out from under the law and taken its stand above it—upon the gospel (using experience as the means by which it demonstrates its power).
We learn under the law; we demonstrate under the gospel. We find our power of mastery while under the law. We prove its truth by actual accomplishment only as we live above the law and according to gospel—"the gospel of glad tidings which shall be for all men"; for every soul will at some time pass from the old to the new dispensation.
This time is not fixed as a certain year anno domini; and yet it is always the year of our Lord; for it is the time when the soul has learned enough through experience under the law to turn to its real being, with which it has all along been at war, and make peace with it through the true self-idea. It is the period of new birth when the soul begins to live consciously from the within and to be weaned from that without from which it has believed itself to have drawn its nourishment.
"Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." The soul must be born out of its sense of matter as the real, because it is tangible, and into a sense of Spirit as the only real and supreme, even though at the present moment Spirit is intangible and must be felt after if haply it may be found. We cannot see the spiritual, much less Spirit, with our present sense of sight—with its present limited range of operation. We discern it if we stand on the rock of understanding; and the true self-idea will give us the keys which open to us the kingdom of heaven in which we shall see the kingdom of God.
When we rule our daily lives according to the true self-idea; when we hold it constantly, making every thought conform to it, knowing that thought generates feeling; when the feeling which comes from that effort rises in the soul, we enter heaven and dwell there; for what we are becoming in soul is in accord with what we are in being. And as we make ourselves at home in this heaven, the outer world which has been so real to us, is seen as only the blackboard with figures upon it, needed less and less as we gain the power to work our life problems mentally. We see it as only the projection from our own generic nature which meets a temporal need of the soul, to be indrawn as the soul ascends beyond this need.
How are we living today? In heaven or in the world? We have eaten of the tree of knowledge. Have we eaten enough to begin to eliminate the error element? Have we eaten enough to see how this element is to be eliminated? Have we learned how to think? Do we see the connection between thinking and feeling? Do we think according to our insight, or only according to our intellect and out sight?
As we think, we feel. Are we feeling the woes of the world or blessedness of heaven? We can look out from the peace and security of heaven upon the seeming woes of the world, with perfect equilibrium, knowing they are but the surface waves tossed up by contrary winds, while underneath is the strong silent current moving resistlessly toward the sea. Knowing this, appearances do not deceive, the serpent no longer beguiles us into self-deception.
Here is a young man who is "going to the bad" you say. "He will never amount to anything. Steer clear of him."
The serpent is beguiling you; you are self-deceived. You are looking at a temporal surface tendency and do not see that that soul is in the under current and is being moved resistlessly toward the sea of eternal life. At present it is self-deceived; and me thinks to find enjoyment and profit in following blindly the impulses of its own mortal-sense. It seeks only self-gratification and in the ways which lie nearest to its outsight.
It is ignorant that it is planting a seed from which it must sometime reap the harvest; ignorant that it is making the conditions through which it must get knowledge by experiencing them; ignorant that the ground it is tilling will surely bring forth thorns and thistles unto it. Whatever the present enjoyment, that soul is bound to suffer and needs to suffer that it may know. It lives in and for sensation. It must learn through sensation. Knowledge comes for the soul only through such doors as are open.
But this soul has in it the germ of divinity. This germ will develop as sure as God is God, for it is always brooded over by the Most High. That weak, wicked, dissipated wretch will disappear and the Son of God will appear. The sinner will become the Saint, not by the mercy of a God who is capable of taking revenge for a slight, but by the necessity of his own being which is from God.
What he is in being compels him to become more than he is in soul. As a soul, by transubstantiation he is to become the Christ. Literally, he is to be changed into the body and blood of Christ. The divine germ in him is to grow to completeness.
Nothing can prevent it as an ultimate, no matter what the present surface tendency. Behind his weakness is the eternal strength which will never be found lacking when it is drawn upon. Behind his wickedness is the eternal love that waits with infinite patience for recognition. Behind his dissipation is that consecration that draws all souls to their eternal home.
All the while he acts according to the sense that betrays, he is acted upon by that Lord which is the same yesterday, today and forever, which is incapable of change, which is sure and steadfast, which is the soul's Father in heaven to whom it will sometime return, though as the prodigal it suffers in the far country. He is not "going to the bad." He is going to the good—to the Omnipotent Good that is God.
Though the outer personal shape is rolling in the gutter covered with the filth which is found there, through this covering may be seen, by those who have enlarged their soul-capacity, that which is not native to the gutter. And these know that sometime in the great Forever he will come to himself, arise from the gutter and go to the Father's house; and this even if the physical shape were to be found there, dead.
Whether the visible body be used or not, the soul, always acted upon however it acts for itself, goes on and up. And remember that this young man is a living soul now. He is not a material organ. This is his possession, but it is not he. Learn to distinguish between possessor and possession practically as well as theoretically, and it will be easier to judge righteous judgment. When we condemn the individual we but betray our own ignorance. When we perceive the soul's unlikeness to the divine ideal, we condemn only that unlikeness and reveal our wisdom, manifesting our love in our effort to show it the likeness of God.
In this wilderness of experience we lift up the serpent that has beguiled this soul, which has but to look upon it in its higher meaning, to live forever. Fortunate are we if we are able to lift it up for those souls who are still looking to the ground instead of to the heaven. Happy we, if we have suffered and so can sympathize with the sufferer. Happy we, if we have gotten the revelation of our experience which shows us the needlessness of sympathy with the suffering and the necessity for true helpfulness for the sufferer. Blessed are we if we can discern the Son of God in the Son of Man and reconcile the one with the other, though we know that “the Son of Man goeth as it is written of him."
But we know, too, that the soul that is spiritualized, however or whenever, as we with our mortal sense reckon time, this result may come, whether before or after what is mistakenly called death, is sure to overcome all backward tendencies, all obstacles, all the consequences of mistaken self-sense, and stand at last face to face with its Lord, knowing God as all in all.
The thorns and thistles of sensation become, sometime, the glints and gleams of revelation. Knowing this we do not extravagantly deplore them while we stand ready to help the soul that is experiencing them to find this revelation. We see the good in all, through all, over all. We pray "Lord! keep mine eyes from seeing evil." We know we help to bring out of others whatever we see in them and we keep our inner eye fixed upon the divine likeness, knowing beyond the possibility of doubt that it will appear.
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
Happiness belongs to the resurrected soul. This soul has no need to seek happiness; it has it.
The resurrected soul makes no supplication. It rejoices and gives thanks.
The resurrected soul dwells in heaven. It ministers to those who have not found heaven.
The resurrected soul has, in the world, no place to lay its head; for it is not of the world.
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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.