The Divine Nature

Mind not only conceives and thereby controls all that is, but Mind is the stuff of which all things are made. When you understand that existence in its entirety is purely mental, you escape the tyranny of what you have been calling external circumstances. If Mind could be limited at any point, it would not be mental. To be Mind, it must be infinite – that is, continuous, indivisible, flawless, illimitable. To say that all there is to a thing is thought, is not to exchange substance for shadow, however, and it is imperative that this be appreciated before going any farther. To find that the "objects of sense" are mental concepts is not to lose them, but to gain a far more vivid apprehension of them, to find them more intimately knowable, more tangibly palpable, instantly available and utilizable.

When you awaken from the night dream, do the objects of your dream cease to be? Not a bit of it. You can recall them as accurately as if you still regarded them as made out of matter. To "awaken" in the morning is not to be transported to another realm, but simply to recognize that the experience of the past few hours was purely mental, even though it seemed at the time to be material. You do not thereby destroy any matter in your dream; you merely correct your misinterpretation, now calling the substance of your dream "mind" instead of "matter." The substance of your dream doesn't go anywhere; mentality displaces physicality through understanding (Un. 35:20(from "matter")-22).

In a way, Christian Science is like this, in that it is rousing you from this "waking dream," to give existence a more vivid reality, a more tangible concreteness. An arresting declaration is to be found in Miscellaneous Writings: "Science, understood, translates matter into Mind." (Mis. 25:12 only). Now "translate" does not mean to change or exchange, strictly speaking. It means to make understood. If you look puzzled when I say, "Parlez-vous francais?" I quickly add, "Do you speak French?" Observe that I have not at all changed the meaning, but only made it clear. Then to go back to our statement above, we may legitimately paraphrase it: Matter, properly understood, is Mind. This is not just giving it a new name, for when you are seeing it as Mind, you are not regarding it as matter. And recognizing the nature of existence as psychical does away with the limitations inherent in the physical or finite sense of existence as mundane, material, mutable.

When we refer to God as the one substantiality, we call Him "Spirit." So the word "spiritual" does not mean ethereal, but substantial. The word substance is derived from the Latin sub stare, meaning to stand under, so that substance is the underlying reality of all that appears or is being evidenced. The use of the word Spirit for substance helps us wonderfully to rise above fettering materialism, for it emphasizes the true nature of substance as the antithesis of matter. "Matter is substance in error, Spirit is substance in Truth." (Ret. 57:17-18). As Spirit, substance is uncontaminated, incorruptible, indestructible, flawless, vividly tangible and satisfyingly palpable, undecaying, useful, beautiful, harmless (S&H 468:21-22).

Things are actual as Spirit – not as matter. Nothing can ever happen to anything that you truly identify with Spirit, and it will be found all right all the time everywhere. Since God can be manifest as nothing other than Himself, the only substance to a seed, a thought or a flower is God (S&H 508:5-6). The substance of the idea is the Mind conceiving it (S&H 316:20-21). To say it in Scriptural style: "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear," (Hebrews 11:3), but "the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made." (Romans 1:20). And we are warned by those sterling metaphysicians of another day to "Judge not according to the appearance, but [to] judge righteous judgment." (John 7:24).

Do you see the importance of mastering the various synonyms? While the word "Mind" is at once an appropriate name and explanatory, it conveys no idea of substantiality; whereas "Spirit" instantly focuses attention on the concrete, indestructible and immutable nature of Being in its every aspect. It signifies the palpability of mentation as essential reality, disposing of the instability, decadence and dissonance of physicality or matter. Thus is thought dematerialized and material thinking spiritualized, so that substance is apprehended divinely. God's cognizance of Himself as substantial is substance manifest directly, so that Spirit is its own evidence (S&H 505:9-12). Spirit in expression is still Spirit, and such manifestation, expression or evidence is not had indirectly through, by way of or as something else. It presents itself to itself as itself, the irrefutable, unassailable, palpably apprehensible entity, devoid of any flaw, discord or lack. The evidence of essential tangibility is therefore as omnipresent as Spirit itself.

If you were confronted with confusion or ignorance, would you not have to turn to God as Mind, the source of all intelligence? That would be the appropriate, the scientific and effectual approach, undoubtedly. But supposing you were called upon to handle a claim of disintegration, deterioration or dissolution (as in gangrene or consumption), you would surely have to establish true substance as indestructible, incorruptible, immutable, under the divine laws of adhesion, cohesion and attraction, by turning to God as Spirit, wouldn't you? It is somewhat like turning to a competent friend for help in time of mathematical trouble. You would not be looking to him as a cook or a chemist, but in his capacity as a mathematician. Or, again, if you sought your friend to do some typewriting for you, you would then necessarily appeal to him as a stenographer. Analogously, it is essential that we recognize God in a particular function in any specific instance, even while leaning upon Him throughout as Mother-Father.

As the underlying reality or essence of all that appears, Spirit is the law of substantiality to all.

Soul is something else, quite! Our clue is found in the fact that the Bible uses the word "soul" to signify material sense on the one hand and to denominate God on the other (S&H 482:10-12). Then Soul is spiritual Being as opposed to sentient existence. It is manifest as the awareness of pure Mind in place of material experience. Dwelling in the senses means submitting to limitation in every direction (S&H 249:31-32). This may not at first seem to be of vital moment; but consider. If you stop with God as substance, or Spirit, you have given up the shadowy sense of mere mentation, gaining palpability – but to what end? What care you how substantial existence may be if it carries no meaning for you? Here you are forced to advance to God as Soul – Mind as its own evaluator, giving significance to all being. The Psyche finds singing uplift and rich spontaneity in the relishing of its own values. The thing that enjoys is Soul.

The glorying of Soul, "the direct opposite of material sensation," in the unfoldment of its own infinite versatility, implies that "this divine Principle of all expresses Science and art throughout His creation," (S&H 507:25-27). What is "art"? You may say a natural sunset is beautiful, but you do not say it is artistic. Why? You do not hesitate to call a painting, a dance, a symphony, a lilting sonnet, artistic. What do all the various art forms have in common that makes them art? All art is the purposive arrangement of concrete elements to bring out new values. The jangle of a piano's indiscriminately struck notes becomes the voice of angels when these same notes are combined in recognized harmony. The uninteresting movements of the body are given new meaning and strange fire when thoughtfully arranged with others in the dance. The drab words of the workaday world, the very same ones, drop as pearls from the lips of him who selects them lovingly and strings them on a song. The artist is neither aimless nor haphazard in his artistry, and his masterpieces are not mere accidents.

Oh, yes, there are those students of Christian Science who say we should not enjoy beautiful things because they are material. But such students are only exposing their own crass materiality. The things may be material in belief, but their beauty is purely spiritual, now and always (S&H 89:18-20 and 247:21-27). When you thrill to an exquisite painting, you are not concerned with the chemical composition of its pigments, nor yet again with the physical processes of their application to the canvas. No, you are happily lost in the meaningful play of light and shadow, the flash of concordant colors, the balancing of form with form in rythmic sweep. And, mark you, this is the wholly mental appreciation of mental expression mentally apprehended. There is not a grain of materiality about it, and to know this is to have it stand forth in its pristine loveliness, embodying ineffable joy.

The objection is often put forward that a beautiful woman could be cruel, despite her charm, as though this invalidated our claim that all beauty is rooted in eternal Truth (S&H 247:10 only). Notwithstanding any appearance of evil, all good is of God. Regardless of any other qualities which a human being might exhibit, woman's comeliness and grace, her dewlike radiance, would have to be Soul in manifestation – as much as twice-two-is-four would have to be of mathematical truth even though seen in the midst of mathematical mistakes. Her beauty is to be revered, while the wickedness which mortal mind would attach to her is to be demonstrated unreal. In her incomparable style, Mrs. Eddy brings this very thing out when she writes that a fragrant flower can be nothing less than the happy expression of God, and that it would be a sacrilegious abuse of natural beauty to consider it a manifestation of evil or injurious (S&H 175:9-15). She shows that it is only error which would associate evil with that which is obviously good (S&H 377:31-3).

Forever appraising its own glorious qualities of action, Soul exchanges physicality for spiritual being. Because Soul is God as aesthete, its law of beauty is the law of right feeling, of inspiration, of spontaneity. To say that a painting or a poem has Soul, is quite correct, for all that there is to beauty is apprehensible only through Mind as Soul. It is Soul that sings! While material sense (the finite viewpoint) would blight all things, robbing life of joy, of satisfaction and even of meaning, Soul lends a tender sweetness to every little experience and a noble splendor to the grand ones.

"Truth" is a generally neglected synonym for God, because the mistaken impression prevails that it is nothing more than another word for "fact," and remarks are not uncommon which show that it is widely regarded as an abstraction, a theory, or even just a quality. When understood, "Truth" is fully as important and useful as any of the other synonyms. Truth is not merely a characteristic, a quality or an attribute, but it is the subject of characteristics, qualities and attributes. Truth is actuality, reality, isness – which is eternally pure isness, because it cannot be contaminated with that which is not. In order to be true, it must be entirely true, or else it isn't Truth at all.

Truth is that which is forever itself. And what do you know to be forever itself? Consciousness, of course. Mind is truly conscious and consciously true, aware of itself as that which actually exists exactly as it is. This is conscious Truth, or true consciousness. As such, it is not an abstraction, but a concrete entity. Truth is not, like a fact, something about something. It is something, and the only something. Anything else would have to be untrue and non-existent. That which really is can only evidence itself as Truth, and Mind's awareness of its own absoluteness must mean conscious Truth. The recognition of the facts of being is the very presence of Truth as fact, in all of its exactitude, changelessness and perpetuity. Mind's realization of its own isness, its perception of its own actuality, declares God to be All as Truth (No. 30:18-20).

The law of Truth must be the law of changeless actuality to everything eternally. Because it must exist precisely as it is, Truth is the law of accuracy and exactitude. Excluding anything unlike itself, it is the law of incorruptibility throughtout infinity. Truth must be flawlessly true, and so – with perfection its nature – it is the law of perfection with regard to everything in the range of reality (S&H 424:11 only). Security, invincibility, confidence lie this way. How is it that God comes to you as Truth? That which consciously is, knows that it is that which is, and in this is experiencing right now eternality. As Life is to be lived, Soul is to be experienced and Love indulged, so Truth is to be known.

The popular expression, "We must seek Truth for Truth's sake alone," has proven unfortunate, for taken at it's face value, it is nothing more than an appeal to barren intellectuality. Toying with Truth as an abstraction or even as an ideal, is nothing more than a scholastic exercise or a doctrinal sport. Of what concern is Truth to you if it does not relate to you? And to yours? The only legitimate appeal of Truth lies in its vital application to, in and as your universe. Let us recall that the term "Christian Science" covers the human application of divine Truth, (S&H 127:15-16), and that flights of intellectual speculation, without their human correlatives, leave its Principle unexplained, confused and ultimate in what Jesus denounced – straining at gnats and swallowing camels (My. 218:15-20).

God, to be God, must be a living God. The Supreme Being is existence in the active sense. Mind as activity is Life. The "Vital Fluid" is living existence. Anything else would be inactivity, stagnation, nothingness. "Mind" implies intelligent mental activity, and in order to exist at all it must be activity itself, or perpetual motion (S&H 240:14-15). Mind inactive is inconceivable, an irrational proposition. Mind to be must be energetic Being, so that there is no such thing as an inanimate idea, concept or thought. Anything that exists at all is alive, as mental action. Mind does not stop, cannot stop, for it could not cease being Mind, Life, for a single moment. Life cannot conceive of death nor experience inaction, stoppage, unconsciousness. Existence cannot be transformed into non-existence, the one becoming the other. Being is inextinguishable.

Life is inconceivable in the abstract, but is concretely manifest as living. Life is expressing itself and defining itself every moment as your being. You are Life in the living. Living, are you not the very consciousness of Life? What cognizes God as Life? Life can only know itself as Life, and can never know (include) any element foreign to itself, so that it knows all as living. Living Mind, active knowing, is conscious living, and this vitalizing immanence self-perceived is the "one moment of divine consciousness" (S&H 598:23-24), which, in its isness, defines eternity as the boundless now. Death (nothingness) is inconceivable from the standpoint of Life (conscious somethingness).

If Life is in fact – as it self-evidently is – it must remain the fact forever (S&H 516:9-10). Its isness is its eternality. There is nothing to intercept its continuity. Consciousness can never cease to be consciousness or become unconsciousness, for facts do not change. You are consciousness rather than physicality, and as such can never change. God must be, and Life demonstrates itself as your very being (S&H 306:7 only). This is life eternal, right now revealing itself as something you cannot lose nor escape. As awareness, you are this instant the acknowledgement of immortality. Existence, with regard to anyone or anything, cannot be terminated, and the recognition of this fact embodies the power to demonstrate it. You know that you are and therefore forever must be. Thus does Life operate as law (S&H 63:10-11). As Truth, Life is constant – in the same sense that twice-two never ceases to be four; but such continuity is present isness, having nothing to do with has-been-ness nor going-to-be-ness (Eternity cannot be understood from a chronological standpoint).

God, as the Life of all, is the law of immortality which is seen operating in resurrection or wherever death is forestalled in Christian Science treatment.

God as the Provider is Love. Divine, all-embracing consciousness brings all together consciously in the sublime consummation that means unutterable satisfaction. In referring to Mind in its completing nature, we speak of it as "Love," manifest in the fullness of its expression, or creation, and realized in the conscious union of all being. Here lies serene contentment. Love holds its entire creation in conscious embrace as Mind (My. 185:14 only). Love as Spirit constitutes, substantiates and sustains its creation. Love as Soul beautifies and inspires creation. As Principle, Love ceaselessly guides its creation. Love as Life vitalizes, awakens and propels its creation in radiant unfoldment. Love as Truth blesses every aspect of its creation with legitimacy. God as Love is Father-Mother, tenderly and warmly concerned with everything, down to the last infinitesimal detail, governing His offspring accordingly from His infinitely generous nature. Love is the law of infinite satisfaction and eternal contentment.

Love is manifest as loving. And how do we recognize anything as loving? In gentle care and kindly provision we see it, unmistakably. Mrs. Eddy says that Jesus defined Love by the amplitude of his pure affection (S&H 54:3-4). And how was that? Well, wasn't he always supplying the need, restoring something lost, fulfilling a shortcoming? He fed the hungry multitude not on platitudes, but upon fish and bread. He brought Lazarus back from decay. He supplied the tax money. He redeemed the sinner's self-respect. He gave back his reason to the lunatic. In all these affairs, we see illustrated the completing, unifying, consummating nature of Love. "Love is the fulfilling of the law." (Romans 13:10).

Love is the law of perfection more in the sense of completeness. Whatever is the work of Love falls short at no point but presents everything that could be desired, is of a character unmarred by defect or deficiency, lacking in nothing to make for harmony and perfection, but presenting all the elements that go to make up the lovable. So it is that Love's halo rests upon its object and that a friend is never less than beautiful (S&H 248:3-5). Thus it is that you speak of Jesus as a lovely and loving character, or a concrete example of Love.

You can never love God objectively. Love is to be felt. When you are thinking of God as loving, you are thinking of Mind as Love. Love is no mere selfish attachment or finite desire for completeness. Infinite Love is infinitely loving, and can only be manifest so. The adorable One is Love knowing itself as indivisibly All, and therefore satisfied. You cannot just think about Love; you must be Love. With Love being All, you can be nothing less than Love in expression. There is no Love where there is no evidence of Love. It cannot be left an ideal apart from your present experience. If you did not see Love in terms of your present comprehension, you would have no intimation as to what Love is and no proof that it is.

Nor are there two kinds of love – spiritual and material. There is just one Love and it is divine. If we should construe it as physical, material, degraded, it still remains the only Love there is, expressed in the only way possible: as affection, as loving, as goodness with activity and power. In our everyday lives, we have learned surely that the only real joy and happiness is found in each other, in sharing, and what is that but the consummation, unification, completion of Love? (S&H 518:17-19). If you could not experience Love in the language of your current interpretation, you could not even conjecture as to its nature and essence.

One of the most beautiful and valuable passages in all of Mrs. Eddy's writings is that one in which she says Love is not an ideal to be locked away in the chambers of fantasy, but a vital reality, demanding noble sacrifices and grand achievements as its evidence. Read that wonderful paragraph on page 250 of Miscellaneous Writings (lines 14 through 29).