In her copyrighted article, "Man and Woman," Mrs. Eddy emphasizes the singleness of Mind infinitely reflecting, by stipulating "image and likeness – not images, but image" (Man and Woman, copyrighted 1890). God's image and likeness would have to be, like God, one and indivisible, wouldn't it? To deduce the nature of man from one Principle, God, cannot result in the notion of many men or the belief of finite number. One could not express itself as many. If the infinite idea of infinity, which is the continuous unfoldment, were made up or composed of an aggregate of separate individualities, it would have to have a collective origin (Mis 165:7-16).
There could not possibly be many images alike, for two ideas or concepts exactly alike would have to be the same idea or concept, whereas different likenesses would necessitate more than one Principle, resulting in "Gods many and Lords many." There can only be one of anything that is truly mental – as witness twice-two-is-four. Apparently, you have that and I have it and everyone else has it, but it is still one idea, infinite and indivisible. For this reason, man could be no more one of a series than God could be one of a series (S&H 117:1-5).
God is individual because He is indivisible (S&H 331:18 only, 336:19 only, and No 19:15-16). It is unthinkable that Mind could be divided up into parts or entities, or that any element of Mind could be detached or isolated from the wholeness of Mind. Being is essentially one and necessarily whole. Let us look at it this way: In the sleeping dream at night, you are conscious of persons, places and things. In other words, your consciousness appears to be made up of separate objects. But is it? Admittedly not. Whatever it may look like, your consciousness is basically one and indivisible, and it cannot for a moment be limited to any particular phase of its manifestation. It is continuous and unified, notwithstanding any interpretation which might be placed upon it. When you awaken in the morning, you are not deceived by the remembered appearance of multiplicity, knowing as you do the singleness of thinking.
Mind is not a big package made up of smaller parcels! And in expressing itself as itself, it could hardly take on any characteristics contrary to its primal nature. Mentation is perforce in the singular and it is only a material viewpoint which would construe the uninterrupted flow of consciousness as finite "things," circumscribed entities or static ideas. Humanly speaking, you can visualize a tree, for example, but you know that it is simply your mind appearing as a tree. More specifically, you can think of an oak, a pine or a cedar; but still there is no division into fragmentary ideas, for it is your mind alone appearing as tree, whether specifically or generically. You can easily distinguish the varieties, one from the other, but you cannot separate them, for they are all your mind and it is unalterably one (S&H 267:5-6).
Mind unfolding as your awareness is what appears to you as persons, places and things – just as mathematics apprehended appears as numbers and music as notes. It is a mistaken sense which would misinterpret these states and stages, or modes, of consciousness as material and restricted objects, misconstruing their purpose and meaning as physical (S&H 280:10-15). Although Mind clearly distinguishes its attributes and aspects in manifestation from each other, its essential oneness remains inviolate. We must never get away from the point that oneness of Being is literal and does not refer to a quality shared by many. Uniformity is not oneness, but monotonous repetition. The expression of God's being is not piecemeal, but is perfect, whole, sound.
Unfoldment has an infinite variety of aspects. Allness, despite its variety, though, could not conceivably express itself as Allness repeatedly, and there can be nothing in addition to Allness (S&H 287:16 only). Infinite Mind could not know itself perfectly (completely) more than once, for identical concepts would be the same concept. Infinity cannot repeat itself. The allness of God predicates the oneness of manifestation. One cannot be manifested except as one (My 239:17 only). The one continuous reflection is of necessity one in its infinity; otherwise the demand on God would be that He should conceive of something unlike Himself, and that would be an utter impossibility. Nevertheless, with Mind multiform in office, it follows that its unfoldment is compound (S&H 331:29-30, 475:14-15).
Thus unfoldment provides infinite variety. "In my Father's house [divine consciousness], are many mansions [a variety of aspects]: I go to prepare a place for you." (John 14:2). The corporeal sense of Mind's presence, that is to say, must yield in order that the divine awareness may prevail. The knowing right now is one of these mansions, even as the poverty of monotony gives way to the richness of Mind's rainbow hues. God being multiform in capacity, function or office, He is manifest in an infinite diversification of aspects or activities – as you can see in the versatile Shakespeare expressing himself as many characters, which never cease to be one with each other in Shakespeare (S&H 513:17-21).
In one sense, identity can only be rendered in the singular, for it is God's infinite reflection or identification of Himself (S&H 258:19 only, 258:11-12). On the other hand, we often speak of identities (in the plural), and are then referring to specific phases, facets, functions, capacities, aspects, states, stages, modes or components of Mind. The compoundness of Mind necessitates the compoundness of idea or reflection, and it is the constituent elements of the compound whole which we call "identities." (Bicknell Young and others often refer to health, beauty and other specific verities as "divine ideas," and the propriety of this usage cannot be challenged. However, it should be noted as a different application of the word.) (S&H 515:17-18).
The 'idea' of multiformity is shown forth by the metal gold. This precious element is regarded as a single entity, identifiable by its aspects, features, qualities, call them what you will, of yellowness, hardness, heaviness, ductility, malleability, solubility,resiliency, and so on. Observe that all these verities or ideas about gold are their unmerged selves permanently, yet always inseparable as one in gold. And who is to say which are the greater and lesser? Surely they are all equal in gold's sight. That we should fail momentarily to apprehend the full importance of any of them in the scheme of gold does not touch their true status, which still awaits our discovery. Just oneness; not togetherness. Manifold Truth in expression includes the multitudinous facts of being (S&H 112:16-19).
This should give us pause in our evaluation of men, of plants and of the minerals of our world. No matter how it may seem just now, God's creation or reflection of Himself is really whole, concordant, flawless and vital in every respect, and there can be no degrees of comparison in infinity. So we may enjoy the infinite variety of Soul's radiant unfoldment, unhampered by any feeling of need for finite comparisons or mechanistic explanations. This is not evading the issue; it is refusing to be trapped by finite sense.
In seeing that Mind is single instead of multiple and its expression infinite rather than numerical, let us not overlook the important fact that there is naturally a truth about everything – about every last thing in our experience (S&H 207:27 only). Why, there must even be a truth about that thing called "number"! This is a principle, and there can be no exceptions to principles. Because redemption means getting back to the fact, in Christian Science nothing is lost sight of. Redemption implies not loss, but transformation and perpetuation of everything through the apprehension of its true nature and character. Accordingly, the fact of endless diversification cannot be impugned by the onlyness of indivisible Principle. Principle is one, but manifold.
Since there is a spiritual reality or scientific fact in all things, there must be a truth to number. It may be far removed from our present perception or interpretation of the thing, but we need not be deceived by the finite connotations ordinarily attached to the word. Our concept of 'number' does not have to be restricted to the limitations which such connotations imply. Parenthetically, it may be said that, while our sense of language may be woefully inadequate, still language does serve to point in the right direction, when properly used (S&H 267:19-25). This being so, it is patent that no one word ever refers to exactly the same thing as another word.
Every word has a different value, indicating or referring to something different – even synonyms exhibiting a shade of difference in meaning – and there could not be a variety of words unless there was a true diversity upon which to base them. Nor must we jump to the conclusion that these diversified aspects of being are merely qualities, characteristics or attributes, for that would represent nothing more than a superficial translating of finite material values into finite mental values. So, while none of our words is final or literal as applied to a metaphysical precept, each word without exception has a distinct and unique meaning, each necessarily referring to and indicating something different in the scientific range of reality. Every word must be predicated upon an antecedent fact or verity (Mis 218:5-6).
You would not use two different words if you were referring to exactly the same thing, and when you are referring to one distinct aspect, phase or manifestation of Truth, you cannot mean some other manifestation, phase or aspect of Truth. Being would surely lose its sparkle, if not its entity, if deprived of its multicolored facets, just as gold would sacrifice its identity if it could be made to give up its characteristic elements through absorption or dissolution. Identities and individuals, then, must be variant aspects of the whole – with no two aspects the same, of course (S&H 70:12-13).
Granting that "infinite number" is a contradiction of terms (since to number is to count or to limit), you can't have a misconception of nothing. So, instead of halting at the misconception, let us follow through to the reality in every instance, conceding that it must be, even if we do not immediately see what it must be. The main point is to know that everything, from the far-flung rolling of worlds upon worlds to the homely potato patch at hand, is divine Mind manifesting (Mis 26:5-8).
Asked why there are as many divine verities as there are mortal concepts, Mrs. Eddy did not deny that there must be a counter-fact for everything that appears in human experience. Instead, she asserted that "every material belief hints the existence of spiritual reality; and if mortals are instructed in spiritual things [instead of contemplating the misleading appearance], it will be seen that material belief, in all it manifestations, reversed, will be found the type and representative of verities priceless, eternal and just at hand." (Mis 60:23-10).
Didn't the Master say that the very hairs of your head are numbered – that is, accounted for in truth and so eternally? We are admonished to abandon the mortal sense of things, but hardly the things themselves (S&H 370:2-3). "I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill," declares the saving Christ. Thus all things are secured, vivified, substantiated. Isn't it as plain as day that all you have to do is to incorporealize consciousness? And is not this "exchanging human concepts for the divine consciousness"? (S&H 531:12-13). You won't lose anything or anybody in the process, you may be sure.
If the universe is Mind unfolding as your consciousness, what about all the other people? Must you lose your precious friends and your beloved relatives in order to get into heaven? But of course not! What about mankind, then? It cannot be, as it would seem to be, a schizoid mass of competing segments. Indivisible Principle cannot express itself fragmentarily. Allness can be expressed as nothing less than allness (S&H 302:1-2, 336:23-24). We must get away from that old notion that the unfoldment of Mind is a series of insulated ideas pouring forth like bullets from a machine gun! As cause or effect, Mind is indivisible, but discriminative intelligence preserves every divine verity from a blade of grass to a star as eternally distinct. This means coexistence and utterly precludes amalgamation, absorption or annihilation of identity or individuality (Mis 22:12-14).
The infinity of man may be apprehensible to you just now as a countless diversity of men, so that "generic man" is spiritual man as you comprehend his infinitude (S&H 475:15-16). Just the same, the sons and daughters of God are mentation, not mentalities. Mrs. Eddy repeatedly warns against the tendency to divide Mind into minds and Being into beings, and never did she refer to consciousnesses plural (S&H 249:31-2). Awareness cannot be confined to departments nor concentrated in centers! It is only as the finite sense of consciousness feels limited and incomplete that it seeks other consciousnesses to enrich – albeit vicariously – its meagre existence; but this imperative urge disappears in proportion as the infinite inclusiveness of true consciousness is revealed (S&H 264:15-19). Although this is now and forever incomprehensible from the mortal standpoint, man has immediate and constant access to his own inherent divinity and transcendent Godliness.
You can discern the heart of divinity, the spiritual Esse, and as you do you will find that "man" is the generic term for all that could be meant by God manifest (S&H 258:31-1). To discern is to mentally comprehend or include by way of consciousness, and to identify yourself with the one Mind is to discover generic man, or the infinity of your divine selfhood. Then you will see that the spiritual verities, ideas or "identities" cannot be separate egos, but must be Soul's awareness or sense of itself in its manifold capacities. Spiritually the ideas or identities of our world of experience are not independent entities embracing each other consciously (Ret 56:18-19, 5-11). It takes a mind to be conscious of anything, and there is emphatically only one Mind, one Ego. The blade of grass and the star are not conscious of each other; they are consciousness – in different aspects. Every thing in creation must be the conscious expression of this Ego which is unalterably one in its infinity. Mind distinguishes; it does not separate.
Paul surely glimpsed this when he wrote, "Ye are all one in Christ." (Galatians 3:28). This does not imply diminution; rather, it means a less restricted or fuller sense of identity and individuality, and therefore a more satisfying sense of being. Greater works than you have done will you do when the "I" of you goes unto the Father – when the Ego is found not in matter (finity) but in Mind (infinity) as all-inclusive and illimitable consciousness your very own (Mis 195:31-3). Jesus was applying this truth when he said: "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; . . . And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; . . . Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am." (John 17:20-24). Not out there!
One infinite Mind unifies men and nations, because if God is one, His image must be one (S&H 340:23 only). One man can be like one God, but many men cannot be like one God; and to say that man can be many in one, is like saying that man can be imperfect in his perfection, incomplete in his completeness or temporary in his immortality. Such a paradox has no place in the logic of Science, and is the result of the effort to reason from the human up to the divine. No one has ever offered a rational explanation as to how one infinite Principle could express itself as many (Mis 25:3-4). Asked why God commanded man to multiply and replenish the earth, if all minds (men) have existed from the beginning, Mrs. Eddy implies in her lengthy answer that the question itself is based upon a fallacy, since she does not admit that men (plural) have existed from the beginning. Indeed, a search of the concordances shows that she never commits herself to the proposition that God ever created men (Mis 56:25-24). When she states that generically man is one and specifically man means all men, she indicates that the exact or specific truth is that all men are man, when the erroneous appearance or misinterpretation is corrected through understanding (S&H 267:6-7).
Our First Authority refers to man as the generic term for mankind, after having already explained that by mankind she means mortals, or a kind of men (plural) after man's own making (My 347:5 only, Mis 261:24-25). She further says that man is of God, while mankind is the Adamic race of human belief (S&H 525:4-6). This is a forthright and unequivocal statement that generic man is an expression intended to cover all that is meant by man, even though the limitations of material sense might for the moment make it difficult to see this as anything but men. Finite sense, conceiving of man as a finity, misconstrues the infinity of oneness as numbers (S&H 263:24-26). Again, "infinite number" is a solecism, for no matter how far counting is carried, it can never be anything but extended limitation. There is no numbering the infinite, because you cannot measure the immeasurable. The Bible says that David sinned when he numbered the people (II Samuel 24:10), and Mrs. Eddy implied that such counting tended to finitize thought (Man 48:16).
The key to "generic man" lies in seeing that, although consciousness may appear to be made up of persons, places and things, it is still pure and undivided consciousness, unlimited to any specific instance of itself. In short, to the extent that the wholeness of man can only be conceived of as an aggregate of lesser parts (men), just to that extent the conception is human; still insofar as the wholeness of man is perceived, it is man appearing in his wholeness. Humanly, this perpetual idea of inexhaustible Mind is inconceivable except in a general way as mankind, and so we call it generic man. An understanding of generic man releases your infinite potentialities as the perfect likeness of God, erases the boundaries of awareness and confers the satisfaction of infinite conclusion.
It is interesting to read in the official Powell biography of Mary Baker Eddy that her teaching of the famous Class of '98 pivoted upon the fact that God's oneness necessitated the oneness of man. "Mary Baker Eddy", by Lyman Powell (189:5-15). Of even greater interest is one of her pronouncements made during her very first class, in the year of 1870. Her student Samuel Putnam Bancroft posed this question: "What or who are your scholars studying this Science? If the ideal man, what need of studying? If not, what use of studying?" Mrs. Eddy (the then Mrs. Glover) wrote out the answer as follows: "No thing or no person studies this Science, but the Eternal Wisdom, that is the Soul of man and which we name God, is through itself the understanding, destroying the belief of God in matter, or Soul in body, yea of God in man, by which we vainly suppose there is a god studying. Science teaches us that there is one Intelligence and one Reality. This intelligence is Soul, and man is its shadow and idea only, and possesses no capacity to learn or unlearn Truth." ("Mrs. Eddy As I Knew Her in 1870," by Samuel Putnam Bancroft).
To say it differently, what appears as our communion with each other must, in the final and only analysis, be Mind's communion with itself. So you may say of your fellow-beings: there is only one and we are that one (S&H 588:11-15). You do not thereby confuse or lose them, either in each other or in what you have been calling your own individuality – any more than you would dissolve the clear-cut characters of Shakespeare by admitting that all there is to Olivia, to King Lear and to the Merchant of Venice would have to be Shakespeare. "He is as much I as I am myself," we might well imagine Juliet saying of Romeo (S&H 290:1-2). And that would do away with the inbetweenness which threatens their desirable union, would it not?
Question: What about animals?
Answer: The story is told of a little child on a farm who healed a sick hog. His parents were naturally curious as to what line of thought the tot had pursued, and pressed him to explain his handling of the case. "Oh, I just said, 'Old sow, you're the image and likeness of God!'" The child-thought, in its simple directness, had seen something that his elders had missed. They had failed to look beyond their own restrictive sense of God manifesting Himself, so missing the point that all must be Mind manifest always according to its own divine nature, regardless of any construction put upon this appearing by material sense. The finite viewpoint limits in varying degrees, and these are the gradations which finity would ascribe to God's infinite likeness of Himself. There are no degrees, as we use that word ordinarily, in Spirit. That we should fail for the time being to perceive the wholeness or divinity of Truth does not, it is surely needless to say, limit or restrict Truth to the partial or incomplete view which we may hold. From immensity to minutiae, God is all there is to all (S&H 516:9 only, 511:25-28, 303:8-9).
Our universe, then, is peopled with God's being. Spiritual man must indeed manifest all those characteristics which we dimly perceive and largely misinterpret in what we call mankind. Though God is one, He includes the reality of all things, shown forth in a continuous variation of expression, or an endless variety of aspects. This does not imply change, but a boundless diversity of manifestation, characterized by distinctness rather than separateness.
It is not unusual to encounter students of Christian Science who voice the extraordinary fallacy that a man or woman can demonstrate completeness apart from his fellows. They actually presume that contentment can be achieved independently of their universe! The fact is that complete means universal, all, and is inconceivable in any other way. That the Christian Scientist is alone forever with his own being does not make him a dweller in a private world, detached from something bigger than himself called humanity ('01. 20:8-9). He is not an isolated entity excluded from satisfying union. Mind in expression, or man, is not reducible to a point in space, abandoned on a lonely mental island (S&H 259:1-5). Not alone, but all-one is Mind manifest as the indivisible universe, which must represent the consummation of all being (My 239:17-23).
For this vital reason, you must master in some degree the meaning of generic man. As you do, you will find that you are this man in all his infinitude, so that you are deprived of nothing conceivable or desirable. Now are we the Son of God – and it doth appear! (Un 46:9-12).