Existence and Personality

W. John Murray
The Astor Lectures
Divine Science Publishing Assoc.
New York, 1917, 8th ed.

Christians, be ye more serious in your movements;
Be ye not like a feather at each wind,
And think not every water washes you.
Ye have the Old and New Testament,
And the Pastor of the Church who guideth you.
Let this suffice you unto your salvation.
If evil appetite cry aught else to you,
Be ye not as the lamb that doth abandon
Its mother’s milk, and frolicsome and simple
Combats at its own pleasure with itself.
— Dante.

[276] The mirror in which the phenomenon of existence is reflected is called nature, and the reflector is so marvelous that oft times the phenomenon is mistaken for the actual. The world which is the scene of nature’s spectacle owes its origin to the invisible force, ever tending to draw together certain molecules, which have combined the primal mists, “in the play of forces which appear to us as sky and land and water.” God’s footstool, therefore, being wholly gaseous, does not contain a grain of solid substance. According to nature’s representation of earth life, it begins as a protoplasm and ends in [277] man, all of which existence is dependent upon the sun for its apparent life. Two important facts are illustrated by nature–unity of cause and progression by the law of transformation. There are some fifty-eight distinct species of existence in nature’s presentation of animal life, each of which is manifested in an endless variety of modifications, notwithstanding that each species originates from the same cause–the protoplasm, and derives its existence from the same source–the sun.

In the genealogical tree representing the gradations of existence we find four epochs covering a period of incalculable centuries. The first epoch represents the lowest grade of animal life gradually rising from the protoplasm to the sponge, one of the earliest manifestations of the second epoch of animal existence. The third era is known as the epoch introducing spinal existence. This era rises from the insect stage to that of the mammal, the fourth and last epoch of existence, began with the protoplasm and terminated with man. It does not seem more difficult to believe the metaphysical Truth that the body of man is the effect of which Mind is the cause, than the physical fact that the world in which we exist, and move, and apparentlyhave our being, is merely the condensation of mists, since neither the metaphysical Truths nor the scientific facts are supported by the evidence of the physical senses. By following the route of the evolution of existence from the protoplasm to man, it is [278] plainly seen that the difference existing between man and his completion in God is less than that which exists between any one of the modifications of any one of the different species in the gradation of existence between the germ and the human. It is as if the ascent of man consisted of fifty-nine steps in the scale of being, fifty-eight of which, having already been taken, he now stands with his foot raised to take the last step out of existence into the realm of Infinite Being. This last step is the transmutation of man to God, which will fulfill the prophecy that Christ himself shall place in man’s hands “the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever man shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever man shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” This signifies that man will be thesupreme ruler in the heaven of Mind with absolute authority upon earth or the so-called physical realm.

When the last step in the evolution of existence is taken, then in Truth will man say: “I am he that liveth and was dead;–in existence–and behold, I am alive for ever more Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death!” In view of this spiritual triumph, so close at hand, is it a vital matter whether past steps or the step to come in the scale of Being have been taken? Or that they will be taken by the transmutation of the lower plane of existence into the higher, or that each specie has and will evolve in turn from the whole rational plane of development? By [279] transformation is meant the transmutation of one form of existence into another higher form. Evolution, as a result of the whole rational scheme of development, is best illustrated by the numeration table, in which each number is evolved as a higher manifestation of the indivisible unit. It is reasonable to suppose that Aristotle, Lamarck, Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Darwin, Wallace, and others of equal mental endowment were justified in believing that the species were evolved by the transformation of the lower species into the higher manifestation of animal life, but it must be remembered that these great men were investigating the phenomenon of existence and not the Reality of Being, which is the difference between studying a man’s mask and studying the man himself.

According to the law of correspondences or the connection that exists between the natural and the spiritual, or the phenomenon of existence and the reality of Life, it is undoubtedly true that existence evolves through the transformation of the specie from a lower to a higher expression of animal life; but it is also true that, in the reality of Being as God, each idea in the Divine Mind is but a higher numeral in the table of Spirit of which God is the changeless unit. God is the life of which existence is the shadow; He is the link which unites man with the protoplasm in the circle of life without beginning and without end in which existence is the straight line. The sun of man’s ignorance is set, but the [280] night is far spent, and daybreak is at hand! Even now the clouds of flame which foretell the coming of the sun are reddening the eastern horizon, and man, about to ascend above the clouds (earth) will be like the Most High, and “ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power!” (Isaiah 14:14. Mark 14:62.) For verily man is being led by the Spirit of God “unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” God is the substance of all that is, for God is All in All, and man is about to become that which God is, for God and Man “they so equal are, that all similitudes are insufficient.”

Man is the God, “by whose will doth every thing become the thing it is.” Sons of God, “the heavens are calling you,” and it is your wisdom and your omnipotence “that open the thoroughfares ‘twixt heaven and earth,” where you will understand “how God and our own nature were united”; even as the sun is inseparably connected with its rays, the life which is universal is merged in the individual.

Philo has said that God has breathed into man from heaven a portion of His own divinity; and this is by way of proof that while Spirit may not be separated from itself, it may nevertheless be extended from itself. The Christ was so intermingled in the Man that the Son of Man could say: “The Father is in me, and I am in the Father.” The Christ in you is your hope of glory, and, if you will be at peace knowing [281] that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, the Spirit will shine through you to the elimination of all that is unlike God. Besides our visible possibilities we have countless potentialities that only await an opportunity to spring into life and action, for, as the whole life of the tree circulates through every leaf, so the life which is God is pulsating through every fiber of our being, and to realize this is to establish our freedom from all discord. The seeds of the lotus, even before they germinate, are said to contain perfectly formed leaves, and the miniature representation of the perfected plant. Thus man, albeit in a latent state, has within himself a celestial germ which must be awakened into conscious activity. The kingdom of heaven is within you, and health and happiness are in heaven. Faith is that perception which lies above the sense plane, and by faith we apprehend the Truth, which is that which is, in contradistinction to that which only seems to be.

Every time we act contrary to the testimony of the senses, we increase our spiritual power, which is only another name for faith. The highest form of intellectual knowledge is faith, in that it acts independently of the physical senses. By faith we discover righteous judgment in spite of its being contrary to the evidence of the senses. For instance we realize by faith that the sun is stationary, and that the parallel lines which seem to converge in the distance are absolutely divided. By faith we enter the realm of [282] pure thinking, which is to think the thoughts which are God’s thoughts, the thoughts which are Substance and Life. Hence it is that the life of man has the essence of thought which is the substance of God. Faith precedes every conscious and unconscious act of existence. To get an unobstructed view of anything, it is necessary to rise to the plane upon which the thing we wish to see in its entirety is situated. Faith is the route by which we ascend from the plane of superficial vision to the mount of revelation which is immune from anything unlike the real and eternal.

Man is Spirit. To intellectually perceive this verity of Being is to translate it eventually into the form of the supreme and celestial man; it is to hold soon the keys of heaven. By reason of his divine nature man is immune from sickness and sin, for every man is an incarnation of the universal Christ. That which we see as evil in humanity is no more a part of him than the shadow on the wall is a part of the object which casts it. To believe in the Reality of Being is to set aside all material laws; to adhere to the Truth with divine persistence is to make the seeming impossibility an absolute actuality. Evil is the apparent absence of that which can never be absent, namely, Good. Evil is no thing; it is vacuity, a false and fallacious seeming, unreal and temporal. That evil seems real is no more evidence of its reality than the apparent immovability of the world is proof of its immovability.

[283] To grasp intellectually the reality of harmony is to take the first step towards attaining it. To hold an idea in mind persistently is to create the form of the thing which you have conceived mentally, and thereby to cause the invisible to appear.This is an eternal verity. To think is to create; to put a thing out of thought is to annihilate it. The great Arabian alchemist, Apili, says: “I admonish thee, whoever thou art, that desirest to dive into the inmost parts of nature; if that thou seekest thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee.” Nature is a reflector that images creative thoughts, but nature can only give that which has first been given to her. Nature images, but she does not create.

Swedenborg says: “Nature cannot dispense life to anything, since nature in itself is wholly inert, for the natural to act upon the spiritual is entirely contrary to order; therefore to think thus is contrary to the light of sound reason. What is dead, that is the natural, may indeed in many ways be perverted or changed by external accidents, but it cannot act upon Life; on the contrary, Life acts upon it.–Nature with each and every thing pertaining thereto is dead. It appears in man and animals as if alive, because of the life which accompanies and actuates it.–No power is implanted in nature, and she no more contributes to production than a tool does to the work of a mechanic, the tool acting only as it is moved.” Nature, therefore, represents [284] merely phenomena. God out of Himself has produced all things; therefore all that is, is as eternal as is God, Who, “apart from time is in all time; Who apart from space fills all the space in the universe.”

That which is called matter may be likened to the shadow of substance. There is no antagonism between these two opposites, as neither is conscious of the existence of the other. Substance is God; shadow is the phenomenon of existence which has no reality apart from that bestowed upon it by reason, acting apart from intelligence. Intelligence, bearing the seal of Truth’s approval, bids man to acquaint himself with God and be at peace, but studying the phenomenon of shadow will not acquaint man with Substance. To discern Spirit as the only cause and creator is to understand scientifically man’s relationship to his Maker and to endow him with the power of the Father, by which man may overcome the appearance of evil, and heal the sick and bind up the broken-hearted by purely spiritual means. To realize that God is the all of intelligence, wisdom, and love, and that man is the divine image and likeness, is to grasp the Reality of Being and thereby hasten the millennium, which is the reign of peace on earth and good will toward man.

The finite has no place in the Infinite, and there is nothing out of place in the Divine Mind. Facts of Being are impervious barricades to the suppositions of sense which are always variable and [285] never real. Man is a divine idea, which is an incorporeal thing giving shape to that which is called matter, but which is in reality the shadow of the substance which is God.

The primal composition known as the universal ether of which all things that appear are made,–that which is the same everywhere, and which is in all things in the universe terrestrial,–is without form or quality. That form and quality which it appears to have it receives from the divine ideas which animate it, and the subtly invisible, spiritual idea which penetrates it is Spirit. Man’s individuality is spiritual and eternal, but his personality is temporal and fleeting, because it is material and not substantial; it is but a shadow that hides man’s reality as Spirit; even as the personality of death declares her to be a destroyer of life, when in reality death is merely an extinguisher of the shadow that would hide man’s spirituality, and as long as men lend themselves to the worship of a thing or a person, it will retard their progression heavenward. In this age, the love of externals is so apparent that it may well be asked:

“And from the idolater how differ ye,
Save that he one, and ye a hundred worship.”

Beware of personality. It is a mask that conceals character, and it is well to remember that a king’s mask may hide the personality of a swine.


“How many are esteemed great kings up there
Who here shall be like unto swine in mire”

says Dante in the Divine Comedy.

As divine entities, all men are equal; as personalities all are unequal. Terrestrial fame is all too often spiritual insignificance, and, like a small candle, it generally flickers out in the face of a great light that is unconscious of the flame’s puny presence. What was the fame of Herod as compared with that of the “Son of Man”? Verily, “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are: that no flesh (personality) should glory in His presence.”

Personality belongs in the realm of the unreal, and to see the real man, personality must be unseen, for in the infinitude of Mind, which is the dwelling place of man, there is no personality. It is man’s personality that interposes between himself and his Maker, between himself and his fellow man. Thus, against the creature works his own creation. There are personalities,

“who by abasement of their neighbor,
That from his greatness he may be cast down;
There are, who power, grace, honor and renown
Fear they may lose because another rises,
And there are those whom injury seems to chafe,
So that it makes them greedy for revenge,
And such must needs shape out another’s harm.”

Personalities are the repositories of suggestions and fears, and man must learn to treat his personality as he would any other illusion. He must elevate his mind above his personal desires and fix it on his spiritual Being. To forget his transitory existence is to remember his actual Self. The sense plane testifies only to error and delusion. Sensation is sense perception and therefore teaches us nothing; separated from intelligence, it is a mere figment of reason. We must break the fetters of sense to obtain true knowledge. Disbelief in the sense makes it possible to reject the fallacies of erroneous sensations, and where sensation ends a live faith begins,–a faith which is “the evidence of things not seen.” It is this faith which enables us to heal ourselves and others.

To become a living power, faith must be emancipated from the bondage of the senses which is another name for personality. Inasmuch as disease is a sense perception it is a fallacious appearance and not a reality of Being. Neither the disease nor the part diseased is real, for the disease is merely an opinion concerning personality, and neither of them is any part of the real man. Subtract both, and man’s true being remains intact. In his true essence, man is divine, immortal in all his parts.

[288] There is no life, sensation, pleasure, pain, health or disease in matter. Mind is the cause of all activity; therefore all action is harmonious and painless. The head can no more ache than the hat placed upon it. But you ask, if the head does not ache, what is it that aches? The answer is, nothing aches. Headache is an illusion, a fallacy or false belief concerning that which does not exist in Divine Mind, and there is no other abiding place wherein it might be. It is a scientific fact that there is no sensation in matter because there is in reality no matter. We suffer in thought, and by thought.

There is, therefore, only one remedy for discord, material or mental; it is to return from sense perceptions to the consciousness of Spirit by a change of thought. We locate pain by thought; we have the power to dislocate it by thought. To put discord out of thought is to annihilate it. Pain cannot exist elsewhere than in thought, and to remove pain we have only to loose it from thought.

“Consider ye the seed from which ye sprang” and lift your thought out of its disorder by mentally ascending to the realm of Spirit, the seed from which you sprang, and into which you can always rebound by the power of thought. Nerves cannot be diseased, muscles cannot be paralyzed, for neither one nor the other ever had any existence apart from thought; the disease and paralysis are both mental and not material. Therefore to restore harmony in these members, [289] remove the disease from the thought. As well try to pick a shadow from the wall as to remove disease by treating the physical organs.

Every organ in the so-called physical structure is merely a modification of thought, and to change the function of these organs, you must change the thought that governs them. As steam is the energy which moves the impotent engine, so thought is the force that not only moves but controls the body. What is called general debility is a mental languor. Nausea is not a disease of the membranes of the stomach; instead it is an irritation in the soul. To heal the debility and the membranes, introduce more of Spirit into your thoughts. Christ’s Truth is the only antidote for poison; it is the only remedy for disease, the only cure for discord, and the only restorer of harmony to mind, soul, and body. As well medicate the shadow of a man to calm his disquieted soul, as to give him medicine to heal his mind. It is the Spirit “that maketh alive; the flesh (personality) profiteth nothing.” Christ has taught you how a man becomes eternal, by thinking the thoughts of life. Ascend, then, you sons and daughters of God, to the mountain of Spirit, “and strip off the slough, that lets not God be manifest to you” and in you and through you.

Next: The Tyranny of the Past

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