Chapter 2 – Self-Discovery


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

[33] “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall know him as he is.
“We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.
“And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.
“Him that overcometh will make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.”

[34] BLANK


“After that day ye shall know that I am in the Father, and ye in me and I in you.” -ST. JOHN 14:20.

In the world of scientific discovery, there is nothing that is quite so important as the discovery of self. We are very much concerned about discovering new continents, new planets and North and South Poles; rarely ever do we bestow a thought upon the greatest of all these discoveries, which is the discovery of that which constitutes the reality of man.

We seem to have innumerable selves. In fact, modern psychology speaks of multiple personalities. Every man seems to be a duality of selves at least. In some instances, as in the instance of Sarah Beauchamp, we have what we call a trinity of personalities, but there is in all of us a veritable gallery of personalities. Sometimes I am reminded of [36] this when I look in shop windows and see a photograph of the same individual taken evidently at the same time in various positions. One looks at us directly, another casts a side-long glance at us and another has its back quite turned to us. This is one of the tricks of modern photography. We see seated at a table the same individual, but it looks like a veritable host of individuals. And so it is with this strange thing that we call the human self, a peculiar mixture of moods, emotions, temperaments, sensations. We speak of ourselves as being ill one day and well another. We speak of ourselves as being capable of doing almost anything one day, and the next day we are quite incapable of doing anything at all. Surely these concepts of self–which is all they are, by the way–cannot bear any real relation to the self that is. When all of these selves are paraded before our mental vision, when we sit on the reviewing stand of divine Intelligence and see these varied selves of ours that pass in review before us, we are inclined to smile because they are so peculiarly unlike [37] what we want ourselves to be. The self of yesterday is not the self of today; the self of today is not the self of tomorrow; the self of our childhood, of our adolescence, youth and early manhood is something upon which we look back very frequently with regret and wish that we might recall a great many of the things that the self of those days thought and did. The self of tomorrow, with its suggestions of old age and weakness, is not the self that we like to think about. And yet, all of these together seem to form the composite photograph of the real you.

What is it that sits in judgment upon all of these varied and various selves? Is it not you, you, your own very self? Are you not the reviewing judge, because back of all these varied phenomena of the self, there you sit calmly enthroned thinking about the days of your infancy, youth, middle life, if you happen to be getting along in years, or perhaps thinking of the time in your middle life when you will be that which you desire to be, or perhaps dreaming of what you desire [38] to be in old age; all of these selves are paraded before you for your own examination and review and criticism, if you please.

Surely the self as knower must be something different from the self as known, the self as knower must be something different from that which the self seems to be, because the self which seems to be is little more than merely physical, a body, if you please, with a mysterious Soul supposedly inside of it, but back of all this strange parade of your own multiple personalities, there you are, the quiet, thoughtful, and I may say, dignified spectator of the whole phantasmagoria. It is you who are passing judgment upon the whole situation.

And what is this you, for the necessity of self-discovery leads up to this giant inquiry–What am I? Where am I? Whence came I? Whither go I?–these are the questions which always perplex the inquiring soul. They never trouble the stupid person. They never trouble the confirmed inebriate. Nor do they ever trouble the chronic idiot. They are the questions which [39] are always agitating the soul of him who would know, because he is the knower. He must know what he is; not what he has been, not what he is going to become, but what he is, because this the science of ontology insists upon. In this it differs from the science of evolution. In this it differs from the science of immortality or theology. The science of ontology demands that a man know not what he has been in a past incarnation, not what he is going to become in a future incarnation, but what he really is today, this moment, now; he must know himself. The oracle of old is just as new as it ever was–know thyself.

What is the most popular concept of self? Is it not that of one who apparently comes out of nothing into visibility and disappears again out of something into invisibility? Is it not that of a mortal who dances across the stage of human experience, entering by one wing and making its exit by another, applauded perhaps or hissed, as the case may be, according to its successes or its failures, approved or condemned according to its [40] successes or its failures–and this by the self as knower?

It is very evident that if we are to succeed in life, that if we are to rise above the limitations of sense and time and trouble, we must come to a larger and a more complete understanding of what we are, because no man can know his capacities, his capabilities, until he knows what he himself is. And, when he knows what he himself is, then begins the slow, gradual ascent above what we call personal limitations, because when the individual comes into a consciousness of the reality of himself, then does he discover his potential powers, then does he realize his unity with that great Self of the universe which is God.

The unity of man with God is not a new truth. It may be a new thought to some of us today, but a new truth–not at all. It was emphasized in the Upanishad long before the birth of Jesus. It was re-emphasized, reiterated and demonstrated, which is better, by Jesus. The recognition of man’s unity with God is the basis of all [41] success. It is the very foundation-stone of all that is great and noble and worthwhile in this world. The stream of consciousness upon which floats all the good, bad and indifferent experiences of the individual is not the self, the body is not the self, nay, the mind is not the self. The body which has repeatedly changed itself, according to physiology, which is not the self that it was last year, which is assuredly not the self that it was in youth or childhood or before birth; the body, which, according to physiology, has put off every cell of itself during the past eleven months, surely this is not the self. The evanescent, the ever-moving, the ever-appearing and disappearing, surely this is not the self. And yet, how many people think of it as the self, look upon it as the self, regard their state of life and health and strength by what they call bodily conditions, judging themselves by the bodily appearances, doing exactly what Jesus said man should not do.

The mind is not the self. Why? Because the mind is mutable, the mind is torn [42] between its varied and various emotions, now filled with fear and terror and again with courage, and hope, and strength; now pure, again impure; now thinking aesthetic, spiritual thoughts, tomorrow vulgar and unspiritual ones; at the mercy of every wind that blows, whether it be a doctrinal wind or a wind of adversity or pleasure. Surely this is not the self!

Self-discovery consists in getting back of the body, getting back of the mind which forms the body, to the divine Reality, to that immutable Center which is always one with the great, changeless Self of the world. When Jesus said, “I and my Father are one,” the vulgar people of his day did not understand him, because it requires ears to hear; that is, it requires spiritual perception to take in such a wonderful spiritual truth. In like manner, the vulgar of today do not understand it. The “I” of you is indeed one with the Father, because it is that which has never known sin, has never known sickness–which is the direct consequence of sin; it has never known anything but that which is [43] true; it is incapable of beholding anything but the brightness of its own glory. It is like the sun; it sees only that upon which its vision rests. It never beholds the shadows of fear or failure, sin or sickness. It is always serene with the serenity of the great, universal Self. It is not to be touched, as the ancients said, by fire or flood. It is that center of man’s being which is ever the same, like God, yesterday and today and forever. Until we find ourselves as a spiritual entity, subject neither to birth, growth, maturity nor decay, we shall never know the self, we shall ever speculate about the self and that will appear to be the self which is not; we shall be self-conscious, self-condemnatory, self-approving, and all of the time that which we condemn and approve will not be the self at all, but the shadow cast by our wrong thinking; the Self in reality remains ever the same.

The self is never found by looking outside. The self is ever found by entering into the great within. It is not enough that we quiet bodily emotions, it is not enough that [44] we subdue bodily twitchings, it is not enough that we quiet turbulent thought, though these are the necessary steps leading to the great valley of silence. The silence is not the control of the body nor the control of thoughts by mental forces or powers quite so much as it is the deep, tranquil, self-conscious communion with God. Out of this and through this and by this the mind becomes tranquil and serene and the body responds to it in terms of health and joy, gladness and power.

Self-discovery is the most essential thing in the universe. Of what avail is it that we discover new planets, that we find the North Pole, of what avail is it that we discover oil, precious pearls in the sea and rubies in the mines? Of what avail is it that we convince ourselves that Mars is inhabited, if we have no spiritual sense of self? “For what shall it profit a man,” said Jesus, “if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” Soul means spiritual self. What doth it profit a man, indeed, if he acquire all the things of earth and all the joys of the orthodox [45] heaven, if he doesn’t know himself and his capacities and capabilities? Of what avail is it? What pleasure would an idiot find in heaven? What pleasure would a sick man find in the orthodox heaven? All of the joy and all the gladness and all the peace and power in the universe consists in finding one’s self.

And, when the self is found, what do we find? We find God, because the discovery of self is really the discovery of God. The reality of one is the reality of the other, and herein lies the explanation of these wonderful, mystic words of Jesus, at that day, at that day when your eyes are opened to the facts of Divine Science, at that day when Truth dawns upon your awakened consciousness, ye shall know, know beyond peradventure, know beyond the shadow of a doubt, “that I am in the Father and the Father in me,” I in you, ye in me and, we in all. Here is the mystic statement of the inseverability of Realities. Here is the mystic utterance of one who knew that cause and effect and consequence are inseparable [46] as is the sun and the light and the warmth thereof.

Man cannot exist without God, and may I say without being accused of blasphemy, that God cannot exist without man? Effect cannot exist without cause and neither can cause exist without effect. The Father cannot exist without the Son; neither can the Son exist without the Father. Here is the inseparability of God and man and the faculties and functions of the individual. When this truth concerning the self becomes more apparent to human consciousness, we shall see how impossible, how utterly and absolutely impossible it is for anything to injure the self. In moments of temptation, it will be the grand safeguard against difficulties, against pains, against perplexities; in moments of temptation, when the temptation always comes to believe that self can in some wise be injured by someone else, by something else, by some event or prospective calamity, when the temptation comes to believe that the self can become ill, poor and die–then arises this wonderful consciousness [47] that says to the individual, the self is superior to all, the self is greater than all the selves that are paraded before us, because, after all, these are nothing more nor less than more or less imperfect concepts of what the self really is.

We can conceive of ourselves as human beings, mortal, mutable, and, according to our conception, we are, because verily, as a man thinketh in his heart so must he be in his external manifestations. We can conceive of ourselves as going through all the ramifications of human experience. We are born, we go to school, we graduate, we go into the great university of hard knocks, we suffer all kinds of tribulations and temptations, and then we marvel about what is going to become of us after death. All of these are speculations, foolish speculations, based upon foolish concepts of what the self really is. The old oracle, “Know thyself,” was not amiss, after all, because to know the self does not lessen man’s vigorous pursuits of knowledge along other legitimate lines. It would not interfere with Peary [48] going after the North Pole. It would not interfere with the legitimate pursuit of wealth. It would not interfere with the legitimate pursuit of pleasure. On the contrary, it would add zest to inquiry. It would add to discovery strength and not fatigue. Men would pursue all their legitimate investigations through the knowledge of what the self really is with greater power. We should increase not only in heavenly Truth but in worldly wisdom that is not illegitimate. As the soul expands in the direction of its own reality, the intellect also expands as a natural consequence. But how many men have developed the intellect at the expense of the soul? By the soul, I mean the self, the self that is at-one with God. If we could always keep before us, and may I say we can–I use the word “if” because it has been a habit with most of us to feel that we can’t always retain a spiritual consciousness of ourselves, that we must occasionally go down into the depths,–we must from time to time be impressed by one or many of these varied [49] selves of ours that parade before our vision like ghosts of the night. This is not so, however, because there is a science, which, like all other sciences, requires concentration, which will enable the individual to rest sublimely, serenely, comfortably in the thought of the reality of self as a spiritual entity.

Some say this is altogether too idealistic, that this philosophy is quite apt to take an individual out of the world of common affairs, that this is quite apt to make a man an impractical visionary. My dear friends, it doesn’t make an automobile less useful because you see that the tank is filled with gasoline and that the machinery is in good running order. It doesn’t make machinery in a factory less useful because you take excellent care of it and govern it from below in the engine-house. It ought not to make an individual less useful in the world because he is able persistently to contemplate his reality, his divinity. On the contrary, is it not the storehouse of refreshment? Is not the great Self understood a reservoir of strength and power and majesty and sublimity? [50] Is it not to this that you turn in a moment of fatigue for refreshment, in a moment of sickness for health, in a moment of temptation for a power of resistance? Is it not to this always that you turn? In some mysterious way, we seem to feel, long before we come into the larger study of things, that all of this that is transpiring on the surface is not us. The we of us, the us of us, the you of you and the I of myself seems to reason about all of these experiences, and we sometimes ignorantly or instinctively arrive at the conclusion that these are no more a true part of our being than is the wart upon the hand,–an excrescence, a sediment that is gathering in the water of life, a something that is interrupting and interfering with our natural progress. But, heretofore, in our ignorance we have come to the belief that this was just as natural as the other part of it, that sickness is just as natural as health. You can’t be well always, says one; and the great majority say, “But you must die sometime or other.” How persistently we have [51] argued for the necessity of death! And yet Jesus said, “If a man believe on me, he shall never taste death.” Was he speaking of the physical? Ah! there is the thing, you see. My dear friends, when you come into the larger idea of the self, the physical disappears; the spiritual is all. When this fuller thought of man’s individuality, of man’s true ego dawns upon your consciousness, the physical disappears just as does your old garment,–you no longer think of the physical; you live in the spiritual.

Ah! says one, if you live always in the spiritual, the body is quite apt to suffer from neglect. For centuries men have bestowed the greatest care upon the body, and yet it has died, not from neglect but from overcare. We have pandered to it. We have patted it and comforted it. The flesh doesn’t give life to the Spirit. The very reverse,- “the spirit that quickeneth” is the deep, underlying conviction of the individual that the all of him from center to circumference is purely spiritual. That is what [52] makes him immune, which renders him superior to the elements. He says of himself, “I am spiritual through and through; I am not physical and subject to physical laws. The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and disease and death.” He takes refuge in the great truth that his self, his real self is divine, not mortal; spiritual not material.

The discovery of the self, then, you see, is not the least important discovery in the world. Yea, though we discover all the planets in the planetary system, though we discover all the pearls in the sea and all the rubies in the mine and all the oil in the land and all of the new continents, and strange, mysterious hemispheres, and we do not find ourselves, of what avail is it? No wonder that Jesus, that simple man who reduced all these great complexities of life to simple utterances, said, “what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world,” of what advantage is it; naked we came into it, naked we shall go out of it. Why lay so much stress on this little song and dance on the vaudeville [53] stage of human experiences, coming in at one wing and going out at the other? Why emphasize it? It isn’t all there is of being. It isn’t all there is of self. It isn’t anything of being. It isn’t anything of self. It is the great illusion, and yet it is so real to the majority, and because it is so real we suffer, we sicken, we die. Because it is so real, we minister to what we call the body, its passions, its pains–they are all catered to, loved and feared. And all of the time the self, as Emerson puts it, “lies there stretched in smiling repose,” watching the great procession of things and not paying any attention particularly. The self of you is mighty and the self of you is in God; the self of God is in you. The self of God and you are in your neighbor, and the self of your neighbor is in you and God. There is only one, Supreme Self in the universe. It can neither sin, suffer nor be sick. It is never born, never grows, never matures, never dies. It is always the same, and it is this which sits in judgment upon that which comes into birth, grows, matures and dies. [54] It is that which sits the silent, observant witness of a lot of foolishness.

What are YOU? According to one system, you are mud, made of the dust of the ground, a soul breathed into your nostril. According to another system, you are mind. Well, you may take your choice. No man, when the question is put squarely up to him, wants to be mud. No man, when he thinks seriously about himself, wants to think that he is confined to a mortal body subject to mortal laws. When you present the picture of the divine self, which is the only self, to an individual and his eyes are opened so that he can see what you are showing to him, then he says, “This is the idea of self I want. I want the self that is forever indissolubly connected with God. I want the self that never varies. I want the self that realizes all the beauty and harmony and health and peace and joy in the universe. I want the self that can never be severed from the Infinite.” We all do, and Divine Science has come to aid us in the discovery of this most important thing in the universe.

[55] When you are tempted to think of yourself as being sick, hereafter you are going to ask yourself what yourself is, and then you are going to ask if that self is divine, the image and likeness of God, the reflection of the One altogether lovely. You are going to ask yourself if that self which is the only self of you can be sick. When you are tempted to sin, you are going to ask yourself if that self, the real self, the immortal self of you, is subject to sin, and according to your answers, so will it be done unto you, because the answers will be in accord with Truth. The answer will be that you are not subject to sin, sickness nor disease. The answer will be forever and always that as the image and likeness of God, you are perpetually the same, yesterday, today and forever. Neither youth nor old age can affect you. Nothing can by any means hurt you, and that is what Jesus meant. But, the you to Jesus meant an entirely different thing from what the you meant to most of his hearers. The you to most of them meant that which is constantly shedding itself, [56] which is constantly giving itself off, as the rattler puts off its skin periodically, which is constantly sloughing away, which is not the same one day physically or emotionally–that was the idea of the you to most of the people. But that was not the thought in the mind of Jesus when he said, “Nothing shall by any means hurt you.” He meant you in your entirety,–spirit, soul and spiritual body. The you is a most important thing. Don’t let us forget it. Let us spend our days, aye, our nights in finding this self of ours, this changeless self which ever remains the same, which looks out upon the selves as so many parodies of itself. Maintain the attitude toward all of these personal selves of yours that you would maintain to just so many proofs of the photograph of yours that the photographer sends home to you today or tomorrow or whenever you have your photograph taken. This you accept; that you reject. Why? Because you say, “That is not myself at all. It isn’t a bit like me.” That is your divine privilege; it is your human [57] privilege. If none of them look like you, then you return them all and don’t give an order. If none of these concepts of yourself in your own mental art gallery measure up to your idea of self, put them out. If the proof that is returned to you from the photographer is that of a sickly person, put it out and declare, “I myself am well”, because now you know what the self is. This interpretation of the self is neither mystical nor mysterious. Neither is it far-fetched. It is based upon exact science. It is based upon the discovery of what the self really is, and when it finds lodgment in human consciousness, then the individual becomes a power, a minister of God in His righteousness, a self-healer and a healer of other men. No longer is he mystified nor misled by the things which appear to be, because always within, in the center of his soul, there is the consciousness of himself as the divine idea. This is salvation; this is health, healing, harmony.

Chapter 3

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New Thoughts on Old Doctrines
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