Chapter 6 – Life


W. John Murray
New Thoughts on Old Doctrines
Divine Science Publishing Co.
New York, N.Y., 1918

[129] “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
“He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
“Because I live, ye shall live also.
“In Christ, shall all be made alive.
“As the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself:
“For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.
“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
“My words are life to those that find them, and health to all their flesh.
“For to be carnally minded is death: but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
“I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil.
“Therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.”

[130] BLANK

[131] LIFE

“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” –HEBREWS 11:5.

LIFE, without doubt, is the most serious of all the subjects with which the human mind has to deal. It is so serious that in all generations and among all people it has been approached from every possible angle, and men have studied life from protoplasm to infinity. Through the science of evolution men have studied life from the mineral to mind; biologists have made remarkable discoveries in the phenomena which we call visible or objective life; all of which shows that the human mind regards the study of life as the most essential in the universe. When I say the human mind, I wish to be understood as meaning, in this connection, the progressive mind, the thoughtful, investigative, [132] divinely curious, mind; because, there are those to whom life, unfortunately, is not something to be studied, to whom life is not a thing to be scientifically or wisely directed, but something to be waded through as best one can. There are those, and I sometimes think they are in the great majority, who feel that life is rather a game of chance, something that they do not know anything about, something they confessedly admit they cannot know anything about. According to their own logic, they are here without their own consent; according to this same logic, they are just as unceremoniously removed hence. To such as these, life is therefore a transient experience which begins with infancy and ends with death, whether through old age, disease, or sudden accident. This is the popular idea concerning life: the human experience embraced between that part of life which we call the cradle period and the other which we call the coffin period.

Life is vastly more than this. The larger interpretation of God and the newer thought [133] of things are bringing us to a fuller sense of the clearer interpretation of life. Without this clearer interpretation, life is hardly worth living. It is fraught with chance and change. If we are inclined to be pessimistic at all, cast down by personal experiences, we regard life as a rather toilsome, tiresome sort of thing; we regard this invisible world of ours as a veritable vale of tears, something we would like to get through with as quickly as possible. Therefore, life must be studied, not from the merely biological point of view, nor from the physiological, nor the intellectual, but rather from the purely spiritual; because, after all, the only point of view we can get of life which is really scientific, is the spiritual. Even the so-called material scientists are arriving at this conclusion. Modern chemistry is revealing to us that matter is neither life-giving nor life-sustaining; that it is not something which acts upon, but something which is acted upon, and this by an invisible, underlying principle which one might as well call Life, or God, or Spirit, or Love, as anything else. [134] It is the invisible Reality of which all external manifestations are but so many projections into space. These are the conclusions that modern physical science is arriving at.

And so we see that modern material science is arriving, by the slow, tortuous intellectual method, at the same conclusion Jesus reached by the more direct intuitional method of the Holy Spirit.

After all, life is invisible. No one has ever seen life. You cannot touch, taste, smell, see, hear, or feel it. Life is like mind in this: none of the senses can take cognizance of it. All that we have ever seen of life are its visible manifestations. So most of us have studied life from the standpoint of its visible manifestations, just as most of us have studied nature from the standpoint of her visible manifestations; we have taken nature’s convulsions, as well as nature’s beauties, as evidences of what she is capable of accomplishing. We have regarded nature as benevolent on the one hand and malevolent on the other, constructive on one side and destructive on the other–all because [135] we have watched the natural or visible manifestations of what we call invisible nature.

When it comes to studying life, we take it from this same objective point–we look with eyes. We see it coming into birth. We see what we call life, gay, pleasant, and joyful, or sad, unpleasant and sorrowful. We see it ending in death. And this, in the past, that we have been pleased to call life, is nothing more nor less than the imperfect manifestations of it on the visible plane. The science of ontology, which is superior to the science of biology, evolution, or physiology, suggests to the inquisitive mentality–the divinely curious mind–the necessity for studying life at first hand and not according to any of its visible manifestations; we are therefore called upon to study life from the standpoint of the purely spiritual or the purely scientific.

Life is not what we call life. Jesus said that life eternal consisted in a knowledge of the only true God. “This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true [136] God.” Life eternal consists of knowledge. There are those who are perfectly satisfied with the manifestations of things. For instance: A man will go into a room, touch a button, see that the room is suffused with light, and never stop to question the phenomenon. It is nothing to him. His sole interest is to see that the room is properly lighted, his sole care to touch the button; everything is done for his convenience. But there are those divinely curious persons who are not satisfied with the phenomenon, they are not satisfied that the room is suffused with light at a mere touch of a button. They must know why; they must investigate the science of it. Why does this phenomenon take place? The mentally indolent man says: “It is nothing to me. I do not care why or how or by what method or science it takes place. All I am concerned in knowing is that it does take place. I am satisfied to have the light.” But when the switch will not work, it is the divinely inquisitive man who is able to rectify things. The other man [137] must either remain in the dark or get the assistance of some other person.

Thus it is with life. The mentally indolent man does not care anything about life in the abstract; he is more concerned about life in the concrete–how to enjoy it, how to get the most out of it, and almost invariably from a merely physical point of view; how he is going to cater to what he calls life, representing to him nothing higher than the merely physical; how he is going to enjoy himself without suffering the consequences; how he is going to indulge his passions without going through the necessary aftermath of pain. These are the things that trouble his mentality–beyond them, he has no other concern.

Life is not physical. For those who believe that the sustenance of life depends upon the physical, we can again call modern science to our aid to convince them of their mistake. It is comforting to know that twentieth century science is corroborating first century Christianity. It is very comforting to me to know that men like Sir Oliver [138] Lodge, Lord Kelvin, and others, by scientific, intellectual processes, are arriving at the very same point of view Jesus held so many hundreds of years ago–that life is not sustained by matter.

This is made very clear to us when we take the grosser form of physical foods. Men graduate away from what we call the material: the mineral food, the things of the earth; and we see how very much more necessary the fluids are to man’s physical life. It is demonstrated beyond peradventure, that water is more necessary to the sustenance of physical life than is solid food; that is, we can live longer without mineral food than we can without water. Again, we go up into the element of air; we can live longer without water and mineral food than we can without air. And now the physical scientists tell us that back of the air, without which it is impossible for us to live, or move, or breathe, there is that imponderable ether, which is as much more refined than air as air is more refined than the vegetable or the mineral. There are those who are now beginning [139] to tell us that the ether corresponds to that breath of God which is spoken of in the Bible. It is the medium by which men live and move and breathe, and without which men could not do any of these things. Consequently, we see that even on the plane of the purely physical, the sustenance of life depends more on the invisible things than on the visible. When this lesson is learned, as it is being slowly but surely learned in almost every department of thought, men will eat less and live longer.

The day has gone by when physical life is to be sustained by the quantity of food. It is even now among the naturopaths and others a question of quality. We are eating less; we are enjoying better health, and there is an increasing longevity on the part of the race, all because we are getting away from the idea of the merely physical and material.

The text that we have chosen for our discourse is tremendously interesting: interesting from the fact that though it has been accepted by many, it has been ridiculed by [140] many others. Ridiculed by those who do not understand its spiritual significance, it has been accepted with the same lack of understanding, just as unquestionably as the man who accepts the fact that there will be light in a room if he can touch an electric button.

We have accepted these great facts in Biblical literature unquestioningly, and yet back of them all, there is a spiritually scientific import, which, when understood, will enable us to do in the degree that we understand it, just what Enoch did. It is said, “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death.” By faith! The word faith has come to have a very narrow meaning; to most of us, it represents a sort of blind trust, a confidence in something that we cannot understand, an acceptance of something that we cannot unravel. We think of this peculiarity of mind as responsible, in the early days, for the strange manifestations of men like Elijah, Enoch, and Jesus–a blind trust in an invisible force or power; when, as a matter of fact, the word faith in the original Hebrew meant knowledge. [141] If we substitute the word knowledge for faith, we shall read it in this way: By knowledge Enoch was translated that he should not see death.

It is by knowledge that we are all translated. The word translate means to change, to be removed from; by knowledge we are changed. Our opinions change from day to day as the result of exact knowledge or scientific demonstration. We are removed from our old conceptions every day that we think. We are taken away from things, which yesterday we regarded as true, and transplanted into a new atmosphere.

Through true knowledge, Enoch arrived at the conclusion that life was sustained from above and not from beneath. He realized that life is far more than the merely material, infinitely more than the merely intellectual. He penetrated beneath the surface of things and reached the very foundation of what constitutes life. Thus he saw that life is and always must be–God. The more he could know about God, the more he would know about life. This is why Jesus said, [142] “This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God”–the only true Life.

Regarding life from the standpoint of the physical, we never know God, we never know what life is, and so we are told Enoch was translated because he had faith or understanding of a Divine Principle.

In another part of this wonderful testimony to eternal life or immortality in the flesh, we are told that Enoch walked and talked with God: that is, Enoch lived the divinely contemplative life; he felt a sense of nearness to the source of things. He persuaded himself of the great fact that his life was God, and the more fully he became persuaded of this fact, the more fully he began to live his life, his spiritual life, his real life, because, after all, a man has not two lives. He has not a physical, mortal life, which begins and ends, and another spiritual and immortal life, which neither begins nor ends. This lesson we must learn sometime, somehow, somewhere; whether we learn it now in this chamber of the Father’s [143] house, or in the other after what we call death, does not make any difference, except that it is wiser for us to begin here.

We must learn that life is one, not two; we must learn what life is, and then we shall begin to live it: live it fully, gloriously, profitably, painlessly. The only sense that most of us have had of life has been that of mortal existences sort of coming in at one wing of the stage and going out at another, a passage through, but never anything fixed or permanent. Mortal life has been the only sense of life we have ever had; because of this, we have never really received from life all that life contains for us.

After all the only life is the spiritual life and this holds true, not only after death, but now. Of course, there are those who doubt life after death; but most of us are perfectly willing to admit that immortality is a fact which will be proven, which will be demonstrated after we die.

But this was not the teaching of Jesus. We are told that the mission of Jesus was to bring life and immortality to light. Now [144] when you bring a thing to light, you make it manifest. It was to bring immortality to light, to reveal to humanity the great fact that immortality is not a post-mortem experience but a present possibility, that he came. Jesus had not added to the world’s knowledge at all if he merely came to preach immortality after death. The Pharisees believed in it, the ancient Egyptians believed it; the Israelites from time immemorial had believed in immortal life after death. What Jesus came for, then, was to reveal immortality now, to bring it to light, to make of it a personal attainment in this day and in this generation. He demonstrated it. Most of us, especially in the older churches, are prone to regard these experiences as deviations from the natural order of things, when, as a matter of fact, they are nothing more nor less than the external manifestation of an internal co-operation with the Divine Principle. They were not strange and unusual experiences that could never be demonstrated again. They [145] were the natural results of men’s understanding of the principle of life and their own identification with it; and wherever men have understood the science of life from a purely spiritual point of view, infallibly, longevity has been the result.

To understand life as purely spiritual here and now, and to live the life purely spiritual here and now is to avoid a great many of the painful consequences that go with the opposite belief. To overcome fear is, perhaps, the greatest necessity today. What a hindrance it is to our success in life, to the enjoyment of peace, to happiness and to health! What a terrible sin fear is! To stigmatize fear as sin is hardly consistent with our old teaching, and yet to those of you who have studied the New Testament, it must be very apparent that John the Apostle regarded fear as the most vicious of all sins. He puts it at the very head of all sins: “To the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and the sorcerers”; he speaks of these as all being outside of the kingdom, meaning by the [146] kingdom, the kingdom of happiness and joy. The fearful! He headed the list with these. When we say that fear is a sin, we speak advisedly, because it is a lack of trust in that supreme Life which is God; it is a lack of faith in one’s own divine possibilities. It brings with it lack of control over one’s emotions, over one’s sensations, over one’s affairs. It is blighting, demoralizing, diseasing, and death-dealing.

How [to] overcome it? The one great thing that enables us to conquer fear is the realization of what life is, to realize that life is perpetual, indestructible, eternal, and forever spiritual; to realize that nothing can deprive us of it. Without it we would not be. Life is the foundation, the superstructure, the divine reality of each and every individual; separated from it we cannot be. When once this great fact dawns upon the consciousness of the awakened mind, fear subsides; we know that there is no death; we know that life is the unbreakable reality. At first it is merely an intellectual thing. Then, as we walk and [147] talk with God, who is Life, and dwell upon the great facts of being, it becomes a spiritual possession. Ills disappear, diseases flee, health springs forth speedily, strength increases, and life becomes a joy because we know now its indestructibility. We know now that it is not confined to that period after death or before birth, but is that which knows no break; not even human birth nor human death can interfere with it any more than the putting on of the lights and turning them off can interfere with electric energy. You do not change the unchangeable electric energy of the universe when you turn on the lights or turn them off again, when you run the elevator up or bring it down again. That is static. Electric energy is the same, yesterday, today and forever; all you do with it is to appropriate it and to stop appropriating it.

All that we are doing here on this plane of consciousness is appropriating life–utilizing it, if you please, and frequently very poorly. We are here to utilize life, and we utilize it in very much the same manner as [148] we utilize electric energy, we turn it on and we turn it off again. We enjoy it or we put it out; we practically do as we please with it, because we are the individuals who give direction to that energy which we call life or the spirit. That is our function in life. We shut it off through fear, we enjoy it through courage.

Enoch was translated. The discouraging feature about this text is that sometimes we read it as if it were an instantaneous experience with Enoch. We read it as if it were some strange and unusual proceeding which took place in a night, when, as a matter of fact, the translation of Enoch had been going on from his early youth. By degrees, he had become better acquainted with life. The fact that he walked and talked with God reveals the other fact that he was a contemplative individual, that he thought of life from its purely spiritual point of view and in its purely spiritual aspect, and because of it life became to him boundless, unending, most enjoyable.

Jesus’ resurrection, his ascension, and restoration [149] of life to Lazarus, and to the daughter of Jairus, were all indications of a profound knowledge of what life is. Jesus knew that the life of Lazarus was God; he knew that the life of Jairus’ daughter was God; he knew that his own life was God, and by reason of his knowledge, he demonstrated his spiritual life, on what we call a material plane. He objectified his knowledge of truth and he said to you and to me, in that won- derful but somewhat mystic book of Revelations, “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”

The book of Revelations is mystic, but it is not on this account meaningless. On the contrary, who has eyes to see may see; he who has an understanding heart may unravel the divine mysteries and may find for himself on these sacred pages the science by which he may live longer and more enjoyably. “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” Overcometh what? That is the great question. What are we to overcome? [150] In the old churches we know that we are to overcome sin, and by sin we mean those crude and gross and coarse forms of licentiousness. We know that we are to overcome the murderous instinct, the thieving instinct, the adulterous instinct; we know that we are to overcome the lower passions and the lower vices and viciousness of the carnal mind. But Jesus meant infinitely more than this. He knew that even when men overcome these low animal tendencies, they have not yet overcome their fear of death. They have not yet overcome their belief in a life apart from God. They still believe in a physical life which can begin and end. Even though men have overcome all of these lower instincts, even though men are what the world would call strictly moral men, they are nevertheless unrighteous. That is, they are unright in their judgment. They have not overcome their belief in death. Until we overcome that belief all of our lifetime we shall be in bondage to the fear of it.

The righteous man is just as much afraid [151] of death as the unrighteous man, except that he has a changed belief concerning it. He is not nearly so afraid to meet his God as is the unrighteous man, but he believes that he can only meet his God through death. He does not realize that he may walk and talk with God on this plane of consciousness. He believes that death is the necessary matrix of immortality. He believes that the experience of death is the only means by which he may enter into the presence of that Eternal Life which is God, when, as a matter of fact, it is totally inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus, “That they might know thee, the only true God; this is life eternal.”

Life eternal consists in spiritual understanding, and that must begin here. The more we get of it, the more life we shall have. In ancient literature, we read something that is really interesting concerning this “tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” Ancient literature and ancient art picture the tree of life as having its roots in the air, apparently attached to nothing, with its fruit-bearing branches leaning in the direction of the earth; our picture, the modern representation of the garden of paradise, or the garden of Eden, represents it with its roots in the earth, with its fruitbearing branches extending upward. The idea of the older mysticism was that life is not sustained by sinking the roots of thought into materiality; rather is it sustained by lifting the roots of thought in the direction of the Holy Spirit into apparent nothingness, and yet into the great somethingness of Life; “into the very womb of ether,” say the old literateurs, there to conceive grand ideas which presently bear fruit: fruit not so much for self-support as for the support of the race.

The contemplative soul is that which regards life from the standpoint of the purely spiritual, extending the roots of its thought in the direction of the upper world, the spiritual world: God, if you prefer; drawing its sustenance from the Divine, transmuting into the human, feeding humanity upon that which it derives from Divinity. It is a very pretty picture and not at all hurtful and injurious. [153] Rather is it explanatory of a great deal that we now dream about. We are not so much to be fed upon the things of earth as we are upon that bread which cometh down from Heaven. Jesus said to his disciples: “I have meat to eat that ye know not of.” His life was sustained more by Divine contemplation than by physical exercise or material food. If we would live the same life and live well and long and helpfully to humanity, we must be fed from the very same source. Our tree of life must have its roots planted in the Divine. We must draw our refreshment from the great Water of Life, which is God, our sustenance from the meat of the Spirit.

Then, and then only, shall we know what life really is. We shall become translated, changed from a belief in a necessity of depending upon matter to the consciousness that Spirit is the only thing that sustains and supports. The translation will begin in a small way; it will go on and on and on, until we, too, may taste of the glorious hope and the glorious achievement of Enoch.

[154] This seems impossible because so few have done it in the world’s history, but a wise man once said: “Whatever the human mind can conceive, the human mind can accomplish.” When Jules Verne conceived the idea of submarines, only adventurous youths took any interest in it; when the idea of navigating the air was conceived, wise men shook their heads. The theologians said it was exercising a prerogative which did not belong to man, invading the territory which belonged alone to God, and must eventually fail. It was seeking to dominate an atmosphere for which man was not originally intended, which belonged to the birds. And what do we see? We see the dream of Jules Verne actualized—demonstrated in a barbarous manner, perhaps, but demonstrated. We see the air dominated, controlled, utilized, in a way that we would not prefer, but nevertheless actualized.

Whatever the human mind can conceive, that it can accomplish; this has as much reference to translation and the overcoming of what we call physical death and to the demonstration [155] and the bringing to light of immortality in the flesh as it has to aviation or submarine warfare. One is just as possible as the other, the only reason for its not being more fully demonstrated is, as Balzac once said: “It has hitherto lacked its man of genius to demonstrate it.” Balzac seems to have forgotten Jesus and Enoch and Elijah. Levitation is as much a possibility as aviation. The only reason why it is not more generally accomplished is because it is not more generally studied. Translation is a possibility. To the vulgar mind, of course, it is not. Why should it be? Has any great accomplishment ever been possible to the vulgar mind? But to the awakened consciousness, it is a demonstrable possibility.

We are living in an age when we are beginning to say, even in the world of physical science, “I do not believe anything is impossible.” Why? Because we have seen so many things demonstrated before our very eyes. He is, indeed, an incredulous man who would suggest that anything is impossible.

[156] So many marvelous things have transpired in the last twenty-five years, that we are ready for anything on a purely physical plane. We dominate all earth, water, sky, sea. All things are possible to the man who believes they are possible. Enoch believed translation was possible; he believed that he would not see death if he became more intelligently acquainted with life. He demonstrated it. I am quite prepared to believe it, because I have seen this same law in part demonstrated. I have seen impending death frustrated. I have seen life lengthened by the dissipation of fear.

Therefore, if you can totally overcome fear, you can overcome death, because death is produced by fear. Physicians agree with us in this. Jesus knew that it was the predisposing cause. He knew that if he could destroy the fear of death he could destroy death itself; we know today in Divine Science, if we can destroy the fear of disease, of poverty, and of pain, we can destroy this trinity of evils. We know it because we know that fear is the mother seed. We [157] know that fear is the procuring cause of these mental and physical maladies. Destroy it and they disappear.

What is the antidote for fear? A knowledge of the truth. Jesus said: “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” If you know the truth about anything you are free from the tendency to err. If you know the truth about life, you are free from the tendency to be afraid of death; if you are not afraid of death, you will neither invite nor attract it. Fear does both. Fear is the magnet which attracts poverty, pain, disease, death. To overcome fear, we must know the truth, and we must know the truth about life.

What is life? Is it material or spiritual? Has it beginning and ending, or is it immortal? Is it that which we cannot see, or that which we do see? What is life, after all? Life is the unseen verity of every man’s being. It is the invisible Reality and Substance, from which he can never become separated, even though he put off his mortal body. Live he must; there is no such thing [158] as death. Somewhere, somehow, he must live, because he is a part of Life itself. When this becomes more intelligently understood, we shall lose our fear, and the consequence will be a fuller life, the life more abundant, the life more pleasurable, the life more enjoyable.

The fact that it is a spiritual life and does not tend to cause thought to gravitate in the direction of matter, or materiality, or sensuality, does not change the fact of its enjoyableness. He who lives most is he who lives best; he who gets most out of life is he who understands what life is, and understanding what life is, knows it to be purely spiritual. He walks, he talks with the Spirit, and God takes him: that is, Life absorbs him, Life enfolds him, Life encompasses him, Life breathes through him. He is an instrument through which Life manifests itself. The fear of death never comes to him who knows what Life is; he knows that all experiences are so many links in the great indestructible, unbreakable chain. To live is a delight to the man who knows what [159] life is: not going to be but is this very moment. Threats, intimidations, have no weight. He feels the consciousness of a Divine Presence, he knows that his life is indestructible and eternal now; this gives him courage to live it beautifully, cheerfully, happily. Nothing can hinder such a man from entering into the larger, fuller appreciation of his own divine possibilities.

Then let us study life from the purely spiritual point of view. Let us realize that it is that which is unseen, that which we carry about with us, that from which we can never become separated: “Neither height nor depth, nor length, nor breadth, nor things present nor things to come, can separate us from the love which is in Christ Jesus,” the life which is spiritual.

This was the dictum of Paul, the Apostle, who said: “We shall not all sleep”–that is, we shall not all die, but in the twinkling of an eye we shall awake; we shall put on immortality now; we shall become translated.

This is what you are doing in your bodies. You are putting off mortality and putting [160] on immortality while you breathe. You are casting off old cells and growing new ones, by a perfectly unconscious process to yourselves. Why not surcharge every new cell with the thought of eternal life, with the thought of indestructible immortality? Why not think of life as a purely spiritual thing so that each cell, as it takes the place of the old cell, shall come to perform its function harmoniously and perfectly, strong and vigorous, until it gives place to a newer and higher and better cell?

This is immortality: the replenishing of the human body by the transformation of the human thought; the renewing of the mind at the fount of thought; having the roots of thought in the direction of the Spirit; bearing the fruits of that contemplated life in health and strength and joy and power, abundant here and now.

Purely spiritual, never material; purely immortal, never mortal; purely infinite and inexhaustible, never finite and exhaustible; increasing your energy, your vitality, your power: this is Life!

Chapter 7

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New Thoughts on Old Doctrines
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