HOW SHALL THE DEAD BE RAISED?
Talks On Truth
AS DISCIPLES of Jesus Christ, we are commanded to “raise the dead.” To understand this part of our mission clearly, we should acquaint ourselves with the philosophy of death; we should know what it is and how it came about.
2. Death is defined by Webster as “cessation of all vital functions without capability of resuscitation.” This, like all definitions derived from sense observations, is quite incomplete. It gives us no idea of the relation that death bears to its polar opposite, life; and no idea of the process through which life passes in order to appear absent in that which has “cessation of all vital functions.” Following this to a final analysis, we find that we must understand life before we can apprehend that appearance of its absence in a form called death.
3. In this, as in all other investigations of Truth on the basis of the correct premise, we find that we can never get at any right relation by examining th negative side only. One could not correct the errors in a mathematical calculation without first understanding the rules governing numbers. Some people think they can learn how to be healthy by studying disease; but they get further and further into disease when they study it as an entity. The study of health as a real principle involved in the being of man leads to the discovery of its foundation–mental harmony.
4. In metaphysics the beginning students insist upon having evil explained to them–how it originated, and why it has place in existence–when good is the origin of all that is. They worry and they play their thoughts upon this question until in sheer desperation they, as a rule, give it up. The tangle of a good God and a bad Devil will not straighten itself out from their plane of perception. The trouble is that they do not know enough about the good. They want to know all about the evil without first being acquainted with the positive side of the question. They are like children who know nothing about the harmony of music, yet insist upon a full explanation of discords before they will go on with their lessons. To know about evil we must first become thoroughly familiar with good.
5. We find in our investigation of the character and the place of death that by studying death alone we can get no clue that will lead us to even a single fact. It has no foundation in itself. Every definition we can frame implies that death is the absence of something, and we are forced to inquire into that which is absent before we can know the meaning of the condition that the absence seems to cause.
6. When we have made ourselves familiar with life, we shall know all about death without studying it at all. We shall know it from its true standpoint–absolute negation–as that which might be if life were not all. Those who worry over the cause of evil always find, when they drop their investigations from the negative standpoint and go over to the positive and make themselves familiar with the good, that all their questions are answered by the good itself, because it and it only can explain all the vagaries that arise in the consciousness where good is not constantly recognized.
7. A study of life reveals it to be an expression of Being that gives rise to animation, vivacity, vigor, energy. We learn that life may appear in a form in superabundance, accompanied by but little intelligence. We perceive that the character of life is determined by the intelligence that it exercises. We find that the life expressed in and through our own body requires the husbanding, directing power of our intelligence. But life stimulates the lower as well as the higher faculties. Right here many people do not exercise wisdom in their living. They think that because life stimulates the faculties, each of these should be gratified as it desires. The desires of the animal man are thus permitted their full exercise; the share of life force that should go to the intellectual and spiritual man is wasted, and he is robbed of his sustenance because he does not understand the law of his being.
8. We find that life is a principle; that it is inherent in Being, everywhere present at all times; that it is manifest to consciousness through vehicles; that these vehicles are animated by life according to their capacity or power to express it; that that capacity or power of expression is governed by the idea of life that is infused into it by the generative energy of the I AM.
9. Electricity, for example, is everywhere as invisible potentiality. It may be brought into expression and use through a motor. Some people think that the size of an electric motor is the measure of its power. This is not true. It is the character of the coiled wires within that measures its capacity. Fine wire closely wound gives power to the motor. So a fine, intense, high perception of life, accompanied by a burning desire to express it in its purity, marks the highest form of the animated vehicle of God’s vitality.
10. Man is the highest expression of God; he manifests God’s life through his body. Physiologists long ago discovered that it is not the size of the body, nor its beauty, that determines its vitality, but the fineness of its texture.
11. Electricity is our best illustration of universal life. The greatest electrician in the world does not know the real character of electricity. He knows many ways to transform that universal energy into light, heat, power, and so on. Man’s body is the greatest of all transformers of life; in other words, what science has named electricity. The cell centers are the transformers and man, the I AM, is the directive agent. Infinite Mind expresses life in “waves and nothing but waves” according to Sir James Jeans. In the 1st chapter of Genesis it is written, “The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Isaac Leeser, in his “Twenty-four Books of the Holy Scriptures,” translates it thus: “The spirit of God was waving over the face of the waters,” thus confirming the latest scientific conclusions. All the potentialities of Being are epitomized in this universal energy, the source of all existence. To the man who manipulates it outside of his body in mechanical devices it is electricity. To the metaphysician who concentrates it in the nerve and brain centers in his organism it is God-Mind, the “Father abiding in me” of Jesus.
12. Life in the body is governed by the hold that the I AM has on the idea of life. Its character is also tempered by the conservation that judgment and discretion exercise with respect to the other factors of expression. But let the idea of life be firmly grasped and put into practical use through thought and word, and the other factors fall into line.
13. The energy generated by a dynamo is expressed through action, and a suitable medium for its exercise must be provided. We find a parallel to this in our own life. Thinking and speaking are our methods of creating energy, and our body is the vehicle acted upon by the energy developed. We must think life into the living. Jesus at the raising of Lazarus first “lifted up his eyes.” He thus, through mental dynamics, connected His idea of the universality of life with universal life itself, and He was able to say, “I thank thee that thou heardest me. . . . And when he had thus spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.”
14. This event shows that we are to do more than merely perceive the omnipresence of life; to fulfill the whole law of manifestation we must speak life into visibility.
15. Yet again, we may perceive the truth that life is everywhere waiting to be spoken into all forms, and with a clear understanding of this truth we may speak the words of life and yet not get the anticipated results. What is the reason?
16. Going deeper into the factors constituting Being, we discover that life or energy must have substance through which to make itself manifest to consciousness. If we have wasted our substance in riotous living, our word is made fruitless because of lack of material upon which to work.
17. We should be as careful of the stored-up substance of the consciousness, of which the body is the lower stratum, as we are of the thoughts and words that we express. If our substance is being wasted in the lusts of the flesh, our word will lack in life-giving quality. Jesus cast out of His consciousness the limitations of matter; He mastered the appetites and the passions of the animal man and dissolved all fear of evil.
18. Jesus demonstrated the law of God, and His word was with power. He became the Word of God incarnate, because He fulfilled all the requirements of the law.
19. This fulfillment is the privilege of every man. Whoever dedicates his whole life to the supreme good and by devotion, right thinking, right doing, right acting, pure living, and pure speaking fulfills the law, may have all the power of Jesus. God is no respecter of persons, but He requires an exact observance of the law to the least jot and tittle.
20. So we say that we cannot explain death without first having an acquaintance with life, an acquaintance with life that carries with it an acquaintance with God. We must go back to the supreme cause before we can get a complete explanation of the origin of an effect.
21. In the matter of life, we discover by following the clues given us in our own experience that they point to intelligence as well as to force. In other words, life falls far short of its mission if it is not equalized by intelligence. Yet thousands who are seeking health, which means more life, have no especial desire to become acquainted with God. Many think that health and fullness of life may be had without God, and when asking the help of a metaphysician they often stipulate that they shall be given no religious doctrines with the treatments. They might with like consistency engage a locomotive without an engineer. All the ills and discords of humanity may be traced to one error–the indiscriminate and thoughtless use of life separated from intelligence.
22. What men need above all else in this day is more wisdom–more discretion in the use of the life that they have. More life with the same old destructive ignorance in using it would but add to their misery. Yet God does not dictate what shall be man’s choice in this or in any other act. If man finds the law through which life is made manifest in his consciousness, he may use it blindly and ignorantly if he so elects. But he must also abide by the results, and this is where man sets up his wail of sorrow; he does not like to reap his sowing.
23. Death came into our world through the ignorant use of life, and death can be put out only by a wise use of life. Death is the result of a wrong concept of life and its use. In the beginning of man’s experiments with the powers of Being, he had no concept of death. His consciousness was intact and his unfoldment in wisdom was gradual and orderly. But his desire to experiment predominated. Sensation was sweet and enticing; it absorbed so much of his attention that he forgot wisdom–he “hid” from his Lord–and the result is separation from his Eden, the divine harmony of the law.
24. When there is disorder in the working parts of a machine, it breaks down or flies to pieces. That is just what occurred in man’s body. When intelligence was no longer present in its full complement in his consciousness, there was lack of harmony, and this resulted in such disorder that the parts flew asunder–soul and body separated, and man named the dissolution death. Then in its train the fear caused by this dissolution was imaged in man’s mind, and he made it a secondary cause. So we find the mere belief in death in the world today slaying its thousands.
25. In raising the dead there are, then, two factors to deal with. The idea of the reality of death and the fear of death have both become destructive beliefs in the race consciousness, and they must be taken up and dissolved. The total unreality of death must be portrayed to the deluded consciousness. The omnipresence and the omnipotence of life are beyond dispute, and there can be no question that death is a condition set up in human consciousness alone. God is not dead; He does not recognize or countenance death; neither does man, when freed from its delusion. Jesus said, “Follow me; and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”
26. The first step in demonstrating over death is to get the belief entirely out of the mind that it is God-ordained, or that it is of force or effect anywhere in the realm of pure Being.
27. The next step is to live so harmoniously that the whole consciousness will be not only resurrected from its belief in death but so vivified and energized with the idea of undying life that it cannot dissolve or separate.
28. We regard the apostle’s words “dead through your trespasses and sins” as metaphorical. But an analysis of man, in the supermundane part of his being, reveals that sin or departure from divine law in the use of a faculty actually results in its death. That is, after violent exercise of a power there is such a reaction that it goes into a comatose state or “sleep of death.” Death is the failure on the part of man to sustain harmonious life in the body.
29. Death and sleep are brothers in a metaphysical sense. The life action is never wholly withdrawn from all parts of a form, but in the experience named death there is such cessation of vitality that dissolution of the outer shell takes place. Jesus pronounced death to be sleep, and said that the sleeper could be awakened when the vitality was restored in divine order. Jesus said that Lazarus was asleep, and added: “I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.”
30. But His disciples did not see deeply, and took it for granted that Lazarus had merely fallen into a trance or prolonged sleep, and said, “Lord, if he is fallen asleep, he will recover.” “Then Jesus therefore said unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.” Paul frequently referred to those who had dissolved the body as brethren who had “fallen asleep.” The Lord told Daniel, “But go thou thy way till the end be; for thou shalt rest, and shalt stand in thy lot, at the end of the days.”
31. Our poets in their inspired moments have caught this truth, and our literature is replete with references to the “sleep of death.” Hamlet, in his soliloquy, opens to us in a remarkable way the metaphysics of death:
To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub:
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause.
32. We are not afraid to go to sleep at night, yet every time we lie down and fall into unconsciousness of the body, we are enacting in a small way the sleep of death. In one case the soul leaves the body for a few hours and again takes it up; in the other the soul leaves the body to mortal dissolution, yet it does not fail to return in due time and take up a body–so long as it believes in the limitation of sense. In the sleep of a single night, the one with a clear conscience rests peacefully and is strengthened for another day’s experience. But the guilty, anxious, worried sleeper is haunted by distressing dreams.
33. The experience of the death-sleeper is similar. If his life has been according to the Golden Rule, he “wraps the drapery of his couch about him, and lies down to pleasant dreams”; his soul basks in the sunshine of a world Elysian and his hope of heaven is for a season fulfilled.
34. This, however, is but the rest that prepares him for another day’s experience in the workshop of Being. This process is repeated again and again, until man discovers that there is a law of living that obviates this repeated “sleep of death.” That law is revealed to all who seek to do the will of God and fulfill the law of life.
35. Here is where we find ourselves today. We know that this law of life is based on mind action and that through the mind we may resurrect ourselves from the dead.
36. As we explore the mental realm, which is our causative thought, we find it filled with a legion of narrow beliefs, foolish, ignorant beliefs, selfish beliefs, and discordant beliefs. These we have lumped together and denominated “mortal mind,” or “carnal mind.”
37. It is here that we first do our raising of the dead. Each of these beliefs of mortality is a sin. The meaning of “sin” is “missing the mark,” and these sense limitations miss the mark of divine Truth. The light of Truth must be turned into our consciousness and each of these sleepers must be awakened. Some of them may seem for a time to be beyond our power to resurrect; our most sanguine thoughts may lack faith at the prospect, and may cry out: “Lord, by this time the body decayeth.”
38. But the Christ power is with us. “Said I not unto thee, that, if thou believedst, thou shouldest see the glory of God?”
39. All things are possible to them that believe in the power of God within, waiting to be made manifest at their word. Then send forth that word and say to every sleeping belief of sense: “Lazarus, come forth.”
40. If you do not believe in the power of Spirit to resurrect your consciousness from its tomb of earthly superstitions, of course you may make no effort to do it. But if you have faith that it can be done, you can do it.
41. Beliefs of every kind take up their abode in the consciousness and make a home there. If you believe in old age and bodily decrepitude and decay, you will find that all the little cells throughout your organism are carrying in their depths just such pictures, as the clear waters of the lake reflect the trees and the clouds. If you want these obedient little cells of your soul and your body to reflect pictures of health and vigor undying, hold before them, in the heaven of your mind, clear images of these perfect states. Not only hold such images before them, but demand that they express those images perfectly. And do not forget to conserve your bodily energies by pure, careful thinking and living, in order that you may have the transparent substance in which your true thought images may be planted and, in their course, brought to fruitage.
42. Many who are faithful in holding right mental images do not get results, because they lack a receptacle; they let the lusts of the flesh dissipate all the clear water of life, and their good thoughts and their good words are returned to them void. Guard all the powers of your being if you would resurrect them from the dead. They do not stand alone, but are dependent on one another, and must all be brought into subjection to the Christ of God. Paul said, “Every man that striveth in the games exerciseth self-control in all things.”
43. The resurrection of the dead is the sure and certain work of the true Christian. We know that Jesus is the example that we are to follow, and we say with Paul:
If the dead are not raised, neither hath Christ been raised: and if Christ hath not been raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ have perished. . . .
But now hath Christ been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of them that are asleep. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. . . . The last enemy that shall be abolished is death.
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Talks On Truth by Charles Fillmore
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