WILL AND UNDERSTANDING
1. “If any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of the teaching.” Man manifests that which exists eternally in Being. We talk about the faculties of man’s mind as if they belonged to the individual and had origin in him. Man exists in the one invisible Mind. He may assume to have a mind of his own, but his origin and destiny are in God-Mind.
2. Primal causes are complete, finished, absolute. All that man manifests has its origin in a cause that we name Divine Mind, Spirit, God. This being true in logic and intuition, it is not a difficult matter to arrive at the conclusion that the manifestation proves the character of the cause. In dealing with the faculties of man, the relation between them and the one Mind should not be lost sight of. There is but one Mind, and that Mind cannot be separated or divided, because, like the principle of mathematics, it is indivisible. All that we can say of the one Mind is that it is absolute and that all its manifestations are in essence like itself. This brings us to the true estimate of man, and when we speak of spiritual man, or Christ man, or the son of God, we refer to this original expression of Divine Mind.
3. In analyzing these faculties and in establishing their relation in the individual consciousness, we should clearly understand that they are never separated from their Principle, the Divine Mind. In the text quoted above, Jesus refers to two of the powers of man and brings out a certain phase of their relation. Will and know designate the faculties of mind that we term will and understanding. Through appropriation, through expansion and growth in consciousness, will and understanding would seem to have their source in individual man. But, however adapted by man, they can never be divorced from the mind of Being, in which they exist as essential members of its wholeness.
4. Individual consciousness is like an eddy in the ocean–all the elements that are found in the ocean are also found in the eddy, and every eddy may, in due course, receive and give forth all that is in the ocean. As the will of God, man represents I AM identity. This is individual consciousness, freedom to act without dictation of any kind, selfhood without consciousness of cause, the power to make or break without limitation, constructive and destructive ability with a universe of workable potentialities. The will is the man. Without absolute freedom of will, man would be an automaton. If his will were restricted in the least degree on any side, he would not be perfectly free. We know that God is the Great Unlimited, and man, His “image” and “likeness,” must be of the same character; consequently man has the same freedom that God has to act in the fulfillment of desire. God does not dictate man’s acts, although He may instruct and draw him through love away from error. The idea that God makes man do certain things cannot be true in a single instance, because, if it were, man would not be a free agent. If God interfered with man’s will in some things, it would follow that He could interfere in any and all things. Logic and observation clearly reveal the freedom of man in everything.
5. Creative thought uses the will to build up individual consciousness. The Lord God, or Jehovah, of Genesis, is the original “I WILL BE THAT I WILL BE.” In mind, both Jehovah and Jesus mean I AM. I AM is man’s self-identity. I AM is the center around which man’s system revolves. When the I AM is established in a certain understanding of its Principle, it is divinely guided in its acts, and they are in harmony with divine law. This is the union of will and understanding. In the Scripture these two are designated as Ephraim and Manasseh, sons of Joseph. Their allotments in the Promised Land were joined, indicating that these faculties work in the body from a single brain center. The center is in the forehead.
6. The will should never be retarded in its development, but should be strengthened along all lines. The idea of breaking the will of children is wholly erroneous. The perfect man is produced by rounding out the will and joining it to the understanding. The idea of giving up the will to God’s will should not include the thought of weakening it, or causing it to become in any way less; it properly means that the will is being instructed how to act for the best. Do not act until you know how to act. “Look before you leap.” This does not imply that one should be inactive and indefinite, waiting for understanding, as do many persons who are afraid to act because they may possibly do the wrong thing; it means that understanding will be quickened and the will strengthened by the confidence that comes as a result of knowledge.
7. To strengthen the will, and at the same time to discipline it along right lines, requires an understanding nothing less than divine. But man can balance his will and his understanding; when he does this he will always do the right thing at the right time. Nearly every mistake is the result of will’s acting without the cooperation of its brother, understanding. When the will is permitted to act on its own account, man becomes emotional and willful. These states of consciousness lead to all kinds of bodily discord. Willfullness makes tenseness, and a tense mind ties knots in the nerves, muscles, and tendons of the whole organism. The metaphysician, observing these conditions, treats for relaxation of will and for a general letting go of the whole system. The universal treatment for this condition given by Jesus is, “Not my will, but thine, be done.” This surrender causes personal will to “let go,” and a unification of man’s will with God’s will takes place. When this is accomplished, all goes well.
8. Willful persons often complain of a feeling like that produced by a tight band around the head. This feeling results from the pressure of thought substance, which the will has laid hold of and is clinging to with centripetal force. In all such cases, and, in fact, in every sense of pressure, treat against personal willfullness and affirm the divine freedom.
9. Every organ of the body is affected by the action of the will, and when this faculty becomes fixed in a certain attitude, it holds the whole body to its central affirmation. The determination to have one’s own way, regardless of the rights of others, tends to stop the free action of the heart; the stomach is then sympathetically affected. Persons affected in these ways seldom realize that they have a set determination as to how things shall be done in their lives, and they are sometimes slow in accepting the higher understanding that is necessary to the untangling of mistakes made by the ignorant will. Contrariness is another name for perverted will. An exaggerated idea of self and its needs takes possession of the mind, and the will is used to carry out this shortsighted policy. The result is a belittling of the whole man. Persons who are contentious for their personal rights place themselves in bondage to material conditions and stop spiritual growth.
10. How shall we bring the divine will to bear? By understanding; by appropriating universal wisdom; by affirming: Not my will, but thine, be done. God is potential, unformed will; man is manifest God will, or goodwill. When man links his will with the principle of divine force he has superior executive capacity. He swiftly brings forth faculties that, under the slow action of human personality, would take ages to develop.
11. There is a knowing quality in Divine Mind. God is supreme knowing. That in man which comprehends is understanding; it knows and compares in wisdom. Its comparisons are not made in the realm of form, but in the realm of ideas. It knows how to accomplish things. We may know without experience. The human family has learned by hard knocks that experience is a severe schoolmaster. In the allegory of Adam and Eve, we see a picture of man’s falling under the sway of sensation (serpent) and having to learn by experience. One of the esoteric meanings of serpent is “experience.” All the bitter lessons that come through blundering ignorance can be evaded when men declare their divine understanding and in it follow the divine guidance.
12. For all willfullness, the healing treatment should be affirmations of spiritual understanding. The will is not to be broken, but disciplined. The absolute freedom of the individual must be maintained at all hazards. God is the one principle; we are all as free to use God as we are free to use the principles of mathematics or of music. The principle never interferes, but if it is to be rightly applied we must develop understanding. Freedom leads to many errors, but, since it is a part of Being, man must learn to use it properly; he must learn that the freedom of the law means control and conservation, not lust and license.
13. We should be careful not to enter into any healing system that interferes with freedom. Hypnotism is not real healing. Any system that suppresses the will is radically wrong. It is the work of the true healer to instruct the patient, to show cause and remedy from the viewpoint of spiritual understanding. All other methods are temporary. The old states of mind will come again into action unless the causing thought is uncovered and removed. A man may have a paralyzed arm through selfish desire for money, and though he may find temporary relief in mere mental suggestions of health, or hypnotism, he will never get permanent healing until he understands the divine law governing possessions, and conforms thereto.
14. There are people who claim that they are being spiritually developed through mediumship. This is error. If you believe that you are under the control of another’s will, if you give up to another will, your own will is gradually weakened. If you continue to submit to the domination of another, you will finally lose control of your own life. The will must be strengthened by being constantly used in divine understanding. Mesmerism weakens the will. Spiritual understanding quickens and makes alive. God never puts anyone to sleep. “Awake, thou that sleepest . . . and Christ shall shine upon thee.”
15. Never say, “I don’t know,” “I don’t understand.” Claim your Christ understanding at all times, and declare: I am not under any spell of human ignorance. I am one with infinite understanding. The accumulation of ignorance gathered through association with ignorant minds can be dissolved by using the word. You may know by simply holding the thought that you know. This is not egotism, but spiritual knowing. When you declare divine understanding, you sometimes meet your old line of thought and are disappointed. Right then continue to hold to your declaration for knowing. Judge not by appearances. Do not act until you get the assurance; if you keep close to Spirit by affirmation, the assurance will come. Will it come by voice? No! You will know through the faculty of intuition. Divine knowing is direct fusion of mind of God with mind of man. Sometimes we are taught by symbols, visions, and the like, but this is only one of the ways that Divine Mind has of expressing itself. When the mind deals with God ideals it asks for no symbols, visible or invisible, but rests on pure knowing. It was in this consciousness that Jesus said: “Father, I thank thee that thou heardest me. And I knew that thou hearest me always.”
16. A very practical application of the truth about the will can be made in the matter of self-control. Those who try to get control through suppressing the personal will fall short. We should be free to express all that we are. If you are afraid of any force within you, your fear leads to suppression. In the true self-control, the will and the understanding both play a part. The feelings and appetites and passions must be disciplined. They are not merely to be held in check by the will, but they are to be lifted up and developed through the Christ Mind.
17. The problem of self-control is never settled until all that man is comes into touch with the divine will and understanding. You must understand all your forces before you can establish them in harmony. This overcoming is easy if you go about it in the right way. But if you try to take dominion through will, force, and suppression, you will find it hard and will never accomplish any permanent results. Get your I AM centered in God, and from that place of Truth speak true words. In this way you will gain real spiritual mastery and raise your will consciousness from the human to the divine.
18. The will plays the leading part in all systems of thought concentration. The simple statement, I will to be well, gathers the forces of mind and body about the central idea of wholeness, and the will holds the center just so long as the I AM continues its affirmation. No one ever died until he let go his will to live, and thousands live on and on through the force of a determined will.
19. The “devil” that we are to overcome is the adverse will, which seeks to master man in the without. This “adversary” troubles us because we strive to maintain personal freedom instead of submitting to divine guidance. Self-confidence is a virtue when founded on the Truth of Being, but when it arises from the personal consciousness it keeps man from his dominion. Are you trying just from yourself to be free from the traditions of the outer world, or are you resting in the understanding and assurance that you are a son of God? To know yourself as a son of God is to overcome the “devil”–the personal self. The “devil” makes you believe that you are the son of the flesh. To overcome, say: I put Satan behind me by the realization that God is my Father. I am centered in Him, and all things are under His dominion. I live in the infinite Power that produces all self-control. I have no necessity for controlling people. Events and people are controlled by divine law. There is an eternal law of justice. I am one with that law and I rest in it.
20. Among the apostles of Jesus, Matthew represents the will, and Thomas the understanding. Matthew was the taxgatherer who sat at the gate, representing the executive part of the government; so the will is the executive faculty of the mind and carries out the edicts of the I AM. All thoughts that go into or out of man’s consciousness pass the gate at which sits the will, and if the will understands its office, the character and the value of every thought are inquired into and a certain tribute is exacted for the benefit of the whole man.
21. Thomas, the understanding, is represented as under discipline; that is, not yet in the light of Spirit. The understanding, in its first steps in Truth, wants its lessons and accompanying demonstrations to be couched in terms like those used in the outer world. When Jesus showed Himself to Thomas, the latter said that he would not believe unless he could see the prints of the nails and feel the wound in the side of the Lord. This double proof was given him, and Jesus said: “Be not faithless, but believing.” Thomas was then spiritually awakened and he made the acknowledgment: “My Lord and my God.”
22. The people who are being educated in Truth through the written and the spoken word will finally arrive at that place where the true light from Spirit will dawn upon them, and they will, like Thomas, see with spiritual understanding and have proof of the reality of the Christ Mind.
The Establishment Of Will And Understanding
(To be used in connection with Lesson Ten)
1. My understanding is established in Divine Mind.
2. “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
3. The will of God is ever uppermost in my consciousness.
4. “Not my will, but thine, be done.”
5. I firmly believe the guiding Intelligence that directs all my thoughts.
6. “There is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty giveth them understanding.”
7. The willfullness and stubbornness of the flesh have no power in me. I am obedient to Spirit and receptive to all its secret thoughts.
8. “Not . . . of the will of flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
9. I am willing to change my mind.
10. “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
11. The Christ of God is born in my consciousness, and I am glorified in my understanding.
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Christian Healing by Charles Fillmore
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