Establishing the fact of God explains nothing of man. At this juncture, REFLECTION is the key, as indicated in this passage from "Unity of Good":
"God is All-in-all. Hence He is in Himself only, in His own nature and character, and is perfect being, or consciousness. He is all the Life and Mind there is or can be. Within Himself is every embodiment of Life and Mind. If He is All, He can have no consciousness of anything unlike Himself; because, if He is omnipresent, there can be nothing outside of Himself." (Un. 3:20-26).
Now what must be the function of Mind? To know, must it not? And what is there for God to know or take cognizance of if He is all there is? Must it not be Himself alone? Mind, of course, is consciousness; but, in order to be that, it must be conscious of something, and since there can be nothing beyond Mind's infinity, it is conscious necessarily of itself and of nothing else. Omniscient Mind knows itself perfectly, has a perfect concept of itself, and this is the infinite, divine idea called "man" or "manifestation." It is the divine self-consciousness, or Mind looking back at itself, seeing itself as itself. The quotation above, then, is at once a declaration and an explanation of spiritual reflection.
As used in Christian Science, the word reflection is generally misunderstood (S&H 301:5-6). Consider it in this wise. You can see yourself in your mind's eye, can't you? You can visualize yourself exactly as you are, as surely and as accurately as if you were looking into a mirror. As a matter of fact, isn't this something like looking into a mirror? This should clarify the subjective nature of divine reflection. It's not "done with mirrors"! Seriously, there is no component, factor or element involved in spiritual reflection which corresponds in any manner to a mirror, mentally or otherwise. Man is not something that reflects something else. He is reflection itself (S&H 258:11-12). An idea or knowing is not something besides God which reflects or echoes God. Hardly! Mind taking cognizance of itself is its own reflector and its own reflection. The knowing is the divine idea or reflection. Man is not a reflector; he is reflection.
The Oxford dictionary defines "reflection" as "the mode or faculty by which mind has knowledge of itself and its operations," while Webster explains it as "the action of the mind by which it takes cognizance of its own operations." It is synonymous, according to these philologists, with meditation, contemplation, cogitation, consideration, thinking, thought or idea. As usual, we find the dictionary definition basically correct for our purpose, requiring only amplification, expansion, extension. We do no violence to the orthodox definition when we apply it to the infinite, so as to see that divine reflection is the endless self-awareness of inexhaustible Principle.
God is fully cognizant of Himself and of nothing else. That is to say, He has an unrestricted conception of Himself. Knowing Himself perfectly, He sees Himself as He is. Infinite Mind beholding itself infinitely is true, spiritual reflection. As in a mirror, so to speak, Mind perceives its own incorporeality, recognizes its own unopposed supremacy, realizes its absolute divinity, and this clear comprehension of its own nature and isness constitutes Mind's evidence of its tangible existence. Being All, if God was not knowing Himself, He would be unconscious. Mind unexpressed would be a nonentity, and Mind as the knower predicates the knowledge that is "man the reflex image of God." (S&H 303:25-30; 259:16-17).
Oftentimes erroneous inferences are drawn from the old theological terms, "image" and "likeness." To some, image suggests picture, and likeness a duplicate, so that they find it impossible to dissociate the word "reflection" from parallelism. How can there be anything like infinity? Infinity is All (S&H 287:16 only). The word "manifestation" is not open to as many interpretations, however, and might be used until the words are purged of their finite connotations for you. To illustrate this essential oneness or inseparability of Principle and idea, let us say that your friend visits you and you acknowledge his presence. Is not your friend manifested to you? When he departs, you would not expect him to leave his manifestation with you – for his manifestation is your friend manifest. Likewise, thought cannot be detached even figuratively from Mind, for it itself is Mind thinking. Mind is wherever it is manifest as thought, and nowhere else. Its expression is its presence. Manifestation is God in expression. Man, perforce, is God – expressed. "So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him." (Genesis 1:27). But this that is God beholding Himself is one Being, so that God is all there is to man.
Mind's infinite individuality is the boundless awareness of its own character and nature. This that is Mind identifying itself as idea must exhibit all of the attributes of Mind, its every quality and property (S&H 470:23-24). Man, the expression of God's being, is here and now disclosing the hereness and nowness and isness of God, showing forth God's spirituality, intelligence, substantiality, vitality, actuality, loveliness, His infinity, eternality, indestructibility, incorruptibility, utility, variety, resourcefulness, His omnipresence, omnipotence, omniscience and omniaction, His absoluteness, completeness, perfectness, as well as His oneness, allness and onlyness, and so on, ad infinitum. Man, or God in expression, cannot be restricted, confined, limited, curtailed, afflicted, impaired, displaced, obscured, obstructed or subverted.
Parenthetically, it is well to note that students of Christian Science occasionally ascribe certain attributes to God which have objectionable connotations. We speak of "a patient God," for instance, only as a concession to those who have not yet outgrown their bias of orthodoxy, for usage has narrowed the meaning of the word "patience" down to where it is strictly a human appellative. God is anything but resigned! He is not placidly waiting around for the opportunity to really be All! Quite the contrary. Scientifically considered, God is intolerant of all but His own selfhood (S&H 129:5-6, 243:27-29). Words used carelessly become meaningless, and Mrs. Eddy covers this point when she calls attention to the inappropriateness of giving "pity" as an attribute of God: "To gain a temporary consciousness of God's law is to feel, in a certain finite human sense, that God comes to us and pities us." (Un. 4:7-9).
To resume. Mind can only be known through the thoughts which reveal it. Humanly speaking, you know that you have a mind, yet this mind is evident only as conscious idea. Even so, God is seen only in spiritual idea (S&H 300:29-30). This implies that an idea is necessarily an idea of something, and this something we call the subject, the principle or the substance of the idea. To use a homely illustration, Cat is the principle of the idea cat, and the idea presents all the identifying characteristics of cat – whiskers, tail and all! Then the divine idea is the idea of Principle, and it is never without its Principle; while Principle, in order to remain Principle, must always be accompanied by that to which it is Principle. "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." (Matthew 28:20). Love, divine Principle, embraces all that exists as its own self-expression.
The only I or US is truly one – the Adorable One (S&H 588:11-15). Jesus said, "I and my Father are one," in that thought and Mind are a unit (John 10:30). But, speaking from the standpoint of effect, he had to say, "My Father is greater than I." (John 14:28). Mind as cause must precede Mind as effect – in point of sequence but not chronologically, of course. What cause does, effect is, so that the instant there is cause, there is effect. They are simultaneous or coexistent. Cause could not be cause without effect and effect could not exist without cause. The old precept of cause and effect as two separate things has given way before the recognition that effect must be cause manifest, or in evidence.
God would not be God without man to be God to, and the Revelator declaims: "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." (Revelation 4:11). All credit to cause; none to effect. The only demand in all infinity is that of cause for effect, and effect is for the satisfaction of cause. Principle completes itself by way of idea and could not be complete otherwise. Which is another way of saying that Mind completes itself by way of reflection. Thus it is that "Love cannot be deprived of its object." (S&H 304:9-11).
Effect never becomes cause and cause remains forever cause. But since the function of cause is to produce effect, cause requires effect in order to exist as cause. So cause and effect cannot be dual entities, but simply the one entity evidencing itself. Nor is there anything to thwart this functioning. God, being All, is free to express Himself without opposition or limitation, and inevitably does so. Therefore, man is the achievement of God's purpose. Through (or as) man, God establishes and maintains a continuous state of progressive contentment.
Nothing represents God but God Himself. Mind manifested is just Mind. It is simply God being Himself, and this absolute unity precludes inbetweenness. In analyzing spiritual reflection, if you "call the mirror divine Science," you mean that Science is Mind explaining itself as idea (S&H 304:9-11). The divine self-knowledge is, naturally, Mind's conscious concept of itself. Cause defines itself by way of effect, and the effect remains cause – defining itself. The reflection is not an entity in and of itself, but is Mind reflecting. Effect does not outline or define cause, but is cause self-defined (S&H 591:19-20). Thus effect may say: "The Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works." (John 14:10).
Nor can reflection be understood as substanceless shadow (Ret. 57:15-17). Reflection, or effect, is the Do-er doing. Such reflection is not only "at one with" Principle, but it must be that one that is Principle itself, functioning. Principle is not cognizant of idea, but of itself, and this cognizance is idea. An idea is not something that is aware of something else that is called "Mind," any more than Mind can be something that is aware of something else besides itself, called "idea." The idea is Mind knowing. The consciousness of God is not something that I have, but something that I am.
So it is that when you look for God you find man (S&H 258:16-18). When you get a correct concept of God, see Him as He is, attain the right idea of Him, why that is man. That is you. The true you. What you know of Truth is all that could be true of yourself (S&H 213:5 only). Literally, man is the awareness of God. Man is not aware of something; he is the awareness – God's awareness of His own infinite selfhood, or active reflection.
Understanding means knowledge or the possession of ideas. And what is there to possess ideas but the one Ego called God" (S&H 281:14-17). Man is idea, and an idea is not something with an idea (That would be mind). Ideas are not egos. Man is not a knower, absolutely speaking; he is the knowing or knowledge. Only Mind, God, is knower, originating ideas. Only Mind can have an understanding and "His understanding is infinite." (Psalms 147:5). Understanding belongs to God, and while it is true that man reflects God's qualities, it cannot be said that effect ever becomes cause or that understanding ever becomes the understander (S&H 506:5 only). Man does not have understanding; he is understanding. He is not somebody doing something; he is the doing. You do not have ideas; you are idea, or God's knowledge of His own infinite individuality. Thus you find the eternal Ego and yourself inseparable as God and His reflection, or spiritual man (S&H 314:5-7).
If, on the other hand, instead of looking for God you were to look for man, you would get a concept of a concept, for man (idea) is Mind's concept of itself. This would be something entirely removed from the original image and likeness of the creator. Such a derivative concept would be a counterfeit and, as an entity, suppositional. The Lord said, "Thou canst not see my face, for there shall no [mortal] man see me and live." (Exodus 33:20). As mortal man, you cease to be the moment you perceive God, for this is the disclosure of God in His own immortal image and likeness and is His own concept of Himself.
It is like twice-two-is-five disappearing in the perception of twice-two-is-four. Nothing is lost, but all is redeemed. Knowing God truly is yourself. "As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with [as] thy likeness." (Psalms 17:15). This is not the image of man, mark you, but the image of God (S&H 325:13-15). Your business is not primarily to seek the right idea about man, but rather it is to seek the right idea of God. The knowing and the doing of His will, by just being divinely, is the whole of man (S&H 340:9-12).
Knowing is being, so it is God (not man) that we must not lose sight of. "But," opines Paul, "we all, with open face [unveiled], beholding as in a glass [or mirror] the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the spirit [understanding] of the Lord." (II Corinthians 3:18). Come to identify yourself with and as the divine consciousness, so precluding an objective (external-to-consciousness) notion of God, as a Being apart or remote. This that is realization is true identification, and it means the experiencing of existence as it incorporeally, naturally, harmoniously is. Do this, and you will find the infinity of Mind, Being, unfolding its own events joyously, freely and in divine order. This spontaneous unfoldment is your real being – Mind itself in living expression (Un 24:6-9).
The recognition of existence as divine is the infinite self-knowledge of God, which can only be described as reflection or divine identification. So considered, all the human connotations or finite limitations fall away and you discover reflection to be Mind knowing itself, with you the knowing. You must be the thinking, thought or idea, with Mind as Principle the only knower, for you as that which is formed obviously cannot be underived Entity (Mis 255:5-6). The sight of this clears up the misapprehension, with its tribulations and afflictions, revealing the divine presence in place of the human seeming. And remember that God is not waiting for you to reflect Him more fully! He is the only one who is doing any reflecting, with you the inevitable reflection. This is finding your true selfhood in God.
"Identity" means self-sameness. When you identify a person, do you not say, "He is the same one?" Exactly so, spiritual reflection is the divine identification (S&H 477:20 only). It is Mind saying, "I AM." The "I" is Principle and the "AM" is idea. This apperception that is the Psyche recognizing itself, is the essential and only possible evidence that Mind is. Without this recognition, reflection or identification, God would be without a witness, a childless Father, a total nonentity (S&H 303:25-30, 306:8-12).
Identity and individuality are not, of course, precisely the same. Notwithstanding the general tendency to think of individuality as apartness or isolation, the fact is that Mind is infinitely inclusive and indivisible (S&H 259:1-5). The word "consciousness" itself means inclusion – mental inclusion. But this does not imply absorption or loss of character through any sort of blending (S&H 265:10-15). Mind does diversify, classify or specify, even if it does not segregate (S&H 513:17-21). But never could Spirit, Soul, Principle externalize itself literally, for there could be nothing extraneous to consciousness which consciousness would ever know about.
The only "objectification" there could be would be Mind regarding itself through reflection. To objectify is for Mind to distinguish itself by way of idea, identification or effect. Reduced to simplest terms, individualization is realization. It is like the universal multiplication table being individualized as your knowledge or apprehension of it. Any aspect of Being perceived as distinct is an instance of individualization – or objectification, if you prefer. While no illustration can be carried far, perhaps we can cast a little more light on the subject by exploring this analogy a bit.
To say that twice-two-is-four is present whether known or not is as absurd as saying that effect can exist without cause. The one cannot be without the other. In fact, the one is but an aspect of the other. There is no call for getting lost in abstractions of that kind. Plainly, twice-two-is-four can only be present as your knowledge of it. Otherwise it does not exist for you. Your recognition of the fact is its concrete presence, or individualization. Likewise, Mind can be present only as thought or realization. The apprehension of Spirit is its individualization, embodying all the power of Principle, all the beauty of Soul, all the spontaneity of Life – much in the same way that the mathematical expression embodies the irresistible truth of mathematics (My 160:5-8).
Don't you see why our feeble efforts to know about God and man have been so unavailing? You will never have Truth by striving merely to know about it. Your only concern is to know Truth and so identify yourself with it. If you do that, you will find – or rather be – man all right, for the knowledge of God, God's knowing of Himself, the divine idea of Principle, is the divine man or manifestation. And don't worry about trying all the time to get rid of the human concept, for the negative approach is a specious diversion from the pure Science which must be affirmative. As Edward Kimball often said and as Bicknell Young repeated with emphasis, man is the understanding of God. Not someone who understands, but the understanding. Write that on the tablets of memory, and you cannot ever get very far away from the sacred Science of Being.
Idea and reflection are clearly interchangeable terms. But there must be a word of caution here. Do not honor the widespread notion that idea is something static, circumscribed or finished. The deific apperception is the supreme Ego spontaneously disclosing itself to itself as itself, and this must mean active, progressive knowing. This is unfoldment, which can never conceivably cease. The popular statement that "idea unfolds" is another thing that is misleading if not used judiciously. Idea of itself does not unfold, but is unfoldment. Mind unfolding is reflection or idea, and it is ever-fresh, vital and radiant.
Infinity cannot be grasped at once in its entirety, but Mind must be forever engaged in the work of knowing itself. It is eternally being Mind. That living reflection has no beginning or ending or interruption is a precept quite incomprehensible from a physical standpoint; but if you will consider it from the standpoint of pure Mind, there can be no mystery about the eternality of inexhaustible good's expression as man's endless development or ascension (S&H 258:11-15). Watch out that you do not think of idea as an inanimate thing. Mind doesn't just think you up and then stop there.
When you are tempted to entertain that sense of a fixed, immobile concept, try thinking of "man" as a verb instead of a noun. "Being" with a capital B is a name, while "being" with a small b denotes action, as these words are being used here. Idea is Mind's perpetual knowing, for isness is uninterruptible. Mind being infinite as cause must be infinite as effect, as it must assert itself after its own nature (S&H 336:23-24). Such a proposition cannot be fully described in human terms nor illustrated by relative comparisons. It must be apprehended spiritually. To do this, we must dispense with the limiting connotations of human language and rise above the entrenched habits of mortal-mind thinking, to the suprarational.
Do not let yourself be induced to believe that the fact of infinite unfoldment, though, is difficult to comprehend and to utilize. The thing that says it cannot comprehend infinity will never comprehend it, for that is finite sense speaking. To finite sense, the infinite is inconceivable (S&H 208:2-4). Although profound, the infinity of being is truly simple, as you will see, for when you consider these things in strictly mental terms, you dispossess thought of any tendency to finitize, retard or block. Barely glimpsed, the idea of infinity is an explosive truth in the arena of human mentation (S&H 90:24-25, 114:23-27).
Abandon now anything and everything in the way of dimensional, chronological or material reasoning. Set aside the temptation to picture the verities of Mind – for you can visualize or literalize only by reducing things to the physical limitations of time and space and matter-substance. Learn to survey all from the altitude of Spirit and you will find that the freedom to think out into any direction has nothing to do with measurement or comparison. The whole subject will be more easily understood if you will but pause to consider that the word "infinite" implies something far beyond anything that the human imagination can fabricate. It applies only to infinite Mind infinitely manifest.
Because illimitable Mind cannot be deprived of its vitality, the divine idea of infinity is naturally progressive in its unfoldment. Progress is the law of infinity because unconfinability is the nature of prolific Principle (Mis 15:19-20). Soul's boundless unfoldment is always new, always original, in a certain way, because idea, as thought or knowing, cannot be conceived of as arriving at a point where nothing more could appear or anything else be known. Understanding God is a matter of eternity (S&H 3:15 only). We do not reach a stage of static perfection and halt there. That would be decidedly un-mental. For Being to discontinue actively being would be tantamount to stagnation, death, non-existence. This could not be true of Mind existant as the ceaseless knower.
In Christian Science, "complete" does not mean stopped, but perfect. We do not work up to perfection, but out from it (S&H 290:19-20, 370:8-9). Completeness is the nature of infinity, both as to cause and effect. The human concept of completeness means concluded or finished. But Mind is energetic activity, if it is anything at all and, while complete, it is never ended. Asked if progress continues after the relative sense of things is transcended, Mrs. Eddy answers that it most assuredly does continue forever. She beautifully describes the inevitable unfoldment of divine Mind as the "living witness to and perpetual idea of inexhaustible good." Study that wonderful passage on pages 82 and 83 of "Miscellaneous Writings" (Mis 82:13-4). When you understand it in the least degree, infinite progression for you will no longer be abstract glory, but concrete being!
Eternal ascension seems mysterious at first, because it is impossible for the unenlightened human mind to conceive of action except as something moving in space. Mental activity is hardly that. Omniaction is just mental being. It is not physical and does not occupy space or time. While immeasurable, divine idea is grand beyond all human imagining, a mere acknowledgement of the infinite nature of Mind in manifestation sets thought free. It incorporealizes idea. It is like the release that must be found in the simple admission that twice-two may be four, even before directly perceiving that it has to be four. We must, for purely practical reasons, recognize the expansive nature of Mind infinitely manifesting. Then the divine fact becomes a tremendously important factor in human experience, operating as a law of progression to our present sense of things.