The Knowledge of Good and Evil

Infinitely Defining Evil

Now we have left the scale of the human with its finite levels of belief. We may want to look back to the chapter where we considered the idea of infinite goodness. When infinite goodness touches our thought, it seems like there is no such thing as evil. Any sense of the negative becomes simply a sense of its nothingness. When we have worked these things out, evil as an abstraction will have lost its fearful mental aspect, and we will not be afraid to handle it analytically, up close. We have been preparing ourselves to address an infinite idea of evil. In talking here about evil, I hope you will pardon me for not belaboring its ugly aspects. There will be time for that. In working out this problem in theory, the most ethereal sense of evil is the best level at which to defuse it. Evil as an infinite abstraction is more tractable than as a concrete confrontation. If we are good at dealing with evil seeds, perhaps we can minimize the extent to which we will have to deal with evil fruits.

As a prelude to getting serious about defining evil, let us review definitions of evil implicit in the points of view we have discussed so far. At the totally material level of human belief, no one is interested in the concept of evil. With no justification for ascribing mystical significance to untoward events, we define evils loosely as things against human survival or well-being. Any rational vehemence on the subject of evil would only refer to its appearance as phenomena without considering spiritual dimensions.

When a mystical concept of evil is introduced, evil is interpreted to be the result of capricious or malevolent forces or angry gods. Undisciplined spiritism can fall into believing that mysterious powers of darkness are lurking about causing all sorts of mischief. Since this doesn't make any sense, we deem it to be a pre-rational level of belief and move on.

The first level where things can start to make sense to the rational thinker is introduced by the concepts of monotheism and law. Evil is seen as punishment for wrong doing and for contrast to good, so life doesn't get too boring. At this first level of human belief, good and evil are inherent in the creator and also in man; they are certainly inherent in this theory.

At the second level, evil is not believed to be created or ordained by the creator but by an adversary internal to the creation and allowed by a creator unwilling or unable to prevent it. The creator has not provided ground rules to reliably eliminate evil. Evil is embodied in a personal devil, and good is embodied in a benevolent personal deity.

At the third level, evil is not seen to be created or allowed by the creator, but is viewed as a mortal error. The origin of this error is addressed by saying the error is unreal and, therefore, has no origin. Reluctantly, this false belief is said to have begun as a false supposing. Evil is believed to be a mesmeric mental influence from which humans can gradually demonstrate their freedom. The creator is seen as a divine principle having no association with evil, and man's true selfhood is seen to be spiritual.

At the fourth level, the human explanation for evil is that it is spiritually mental empty space. The creator is entirely spiritual and good, and has no opposition, real or imagined. This is a state of human belief the only error of which is limitation. The explanation for this view is that our awareness of sublime spiritual creation began little and is continuing to dawn.

Reaching for the spiritual idea in level three can lead us to reach for the infinite idea in level four. None of these views of good and evil are without flaws. The fourth level of belief may present the lesser of evils, but it sacrifices the idea of infinity to its logic. And that is not good.

In each of these cases, there is a symmetry of sorts. Good and evil are logical opposites. As thought progresses, however, good and evil are increasingly less balanced in the scales of our beliefs. As our sense of good evolves toward its allness, our sense of evil diminishes in progressively more abstract phases of its nothingness. As our sense of spiritual good becomes more tangible, our sense of evil becomes more ethereal, until it becomes a pure abstraction, a term for that which is essentially nothing at all.

When spiritual progress has readied us to cross from one level of human belief to the next, the crossing is often stalled by our trepidation. Every significant step we complete is welcomed by a sense of relief as there emerges both a brighter world and an accompanying lessening of superstitious fears. Until we are ready to move ahead, however, each next step will seem too hard to comprehend, too impersonal or abstract in its appeal, too expansive or hopeful in its possibilities, and somehow irreconcilable with our sense of things.

Given the option to define evil once and for all, we might want to do better than these flawed choices. None of these choices, not even the ones giving us quite a lot of freedom from fear, will give us reliable practical relief from a sense of evil as something or even as nothing.

* * *

It is useful to recognize that what we believe may be different from what we think and from the way we may be trying to think. I may look around me and see my perceptions of sense evidence characterized by level four beliefs, but I will try to spend time and effort thinking in better ways than that. I know that thinking beyond the level where I am believing provides the impetus for grasping new potentials and for bringing more radical transformations. Reaching out beyond my beliefs provides the vital inspiration that nourishes the rest of the process.

Thinking at the level where we are believing can involve interpreting and re-interpreting what we see. It can help us put our sense evidence into the best light. Affirmative thinking to recast and unlimit our sense of things can help clear out discordant beliefs and open up our thoughts to wider prospects for good.

The peculiar challenge when we have beliefs at level four is that no humanly dimensioned positive or spiritual thoughts will contrast significantly with our beliefs. When we are in a level four belief about things, we need to reach outside the human dimension altogether to find thoughts that are ahead of our beliefs. That is one reason we are addressing the subject of infinite ideas.

As one practices spiritually principled thinking about oneself, about one's fellows, and about the universe, one's sense of the reality of spiritual goodness becomes more palpable and one's sense of evil diminishes. Our analysis of evil evolves from chance to indifference to caprice to punishment to adversary to error to nothingness, with each belief of evil presenting a less formidable mental aspect than the last. But why evil at all? Is there anything good about evil at any level? Do we want to vanquish even the word evil and never think of it again?

How could we define evil infinitely and have it be less than the level four belief of it where it is a sense of nothing, simply a sense of spiritually mental empty space? Since you read the first sentence of this book, you may have guessed what we are going to do with infinite evil. What are we going to do with an infinite empty place? After all this trouble, do we simply want to make it go away?

Let us be practical. Let us come up with a definition of evil that we will be delighted with, one that will have significant value. What definition of evil could help us with conception of the infinite idea? Since the word is here, is there a definition of evil that we could feel good about having forever?

The reason we asked the question about evil in the first place was to help us resolve our sense of the negative. We were able to think about pure infinite goodness in a way that created a concept of reality that almost seemed totally complete and sublime. But it did not fit with our world of observation. It was unable to address a sense of discord or limitation. If thinking about the infinite aspects of good gives us the greatest sense of goodness, what might we conclude from thinking about evil as infinite, once we have concluded that it is nothing at all? What would that mean, and how would that fit into our scheme of things?

You may remember that throughout this book we have left some issues untreated. In an early chapter, we considered conception and elimination, that making things better consists of having more of what we want and less of what we do not want. We tried to put aside the question of what we did not want by saying we would not plant bad seeds and would start with clean soil and would not let the wind blow anything into our garden. We said we would not plant seeds we did not want. We deferred talking about mental weeding and getting rid of unwanted seeds latent in the soil, by saying we would not have them. Where can we find virgin soil so clean that we will never have to weed it?

Later on, we talked about types of spiritual action, looking only at the types of action in line with goodness. We talked about exercising obedience, belief, understanding, and knowledge to make good things happen for us. Since we had no interest in making bad things happen, we did not address opposite mental action. Perhaps we need to find ways to deal with negative action. What do we do with accident, abandonment, malice, disobedience, doubt, misconception, and delay?

Then, we used words to create a spiritual thought model, but we did not reconcile that spiritual model closely to our world of observation. We could have simply called that mental world our reality. We relied on the discipline of our logic to define an idea of pure infinite goodness for which no opposite was defined. Having done that, we then returned to our world to apply the standard of goodness to the question of evil's origin. Until now our discussion has deferred serious consideration of a definition for evil, except to say what it, according to our evolving spiritual logic, is not or cannot be. We have proceeded to a level of human belief where all that is left of evil is pure limitation.

* * *

For good to prevail, evil must be dealt with in whatever form it appears. In the wholly material view, evil is simply a random event. The subject of evil is dealt with humanly and does not come up as a spiritual issue. In the next frame of mind, we are indifferent to evil, until our theory transitions to another. While involved in human mysticism, we might attempt religious practice to combat evil, but it is too confusing to be effectual. Let us group these three pre-rational theories as level zero. At the first rational level, evil is avoided through obedience and dealt with through law. At the second level, evil is overcome as faith and love triumph over doubts and fears. At the third level, belief in evil is dispelled through understanding the supremacy of Spirit. At the fourth level, evil is seen as spiritually mental empty space, made insensible by our expression of the idea of infinite goodness.

Where does this progression go? Is there an end to it? Is there anything to be done with evil to antidote it once and for all? Are we ready to do that? One thing is clear, ignoring evil is not the answer. Dealing with evil, abstaining from it, overcoming it, understanding its nothingness, and displacing it, is part of the process by which room is made for higher conceptions of good.

Although the idea of pure infinite spiritual goodness can define the substance and content of good, more than a finite sense of evil needs to be cleared out to enable the infinite idea to appear. With the words of infinite goodness, we have the good seeds we need. Now our need is for better soil.

Let us start with a fresh piece of paper and see if we can define infinite evil to make it serve a purpose. Have we outgrown our need for punishment, adversary, illusion, and human limitation? What is our real need? Is there any such thing as a necessary evil? If knowledge of evil is knowledge of empty space, maybe it is just an empty space to receive the essence of good, to make it room.

When our thinking is based on the principle of pure infinite goodness, our jurisdiction is uncontested within that realm. Might we ever need jurisdiction over mental space not subject to infinite goodness? Could there be other jurisdictions in the infinite? We have used spiritually principled thinking to try to conceive ideas of pure goodness. Is it possible that we could use some negative seed, some upside-down thought model, to render certain undesirable words inconceivable? Is there a thought we can hold affirmatively whose effect will be to make some specific things not happen? Would this be a form of negative knowing?

Consider a situation where you are about to enter a dark unfamiliar room. You ask, "What is in the room?" You are told, "The room has a carpet on the floor, a sofa and two chairs, a lamp, a table, and a large bookshelf filled with books." Is that information enough for you to know it is safe to enter the room? Do you know if the floor is strong enough to hold your weight? Do you know whether there are any snakes slithering about on the floor? No, but you presume it is safe. Unless, of course, someone already asked you about the snakes.

Consider a situation where you are staying the night alone in a cabin in the woods. You have no telephone, and the nearest road is three miles away. Just as you are about to go to sleep and have blown out your candle, you hear a rustling sound outside. What goes through your mind? Could the sound be caused by the wind, or a bear, or a prowler? What are you likely to assume? Is it good? Can your sense of goodness displace your fears?

In these last two situations, you know certain affirmative facts, but these facts themselves say nothing about the possibility of untoward events. In considering these situations, however, you may have a sense of uncertainty about them. Are you certain these situations are safe? What do you really know? These two situations are intended to suggest a mental region that may exist between what one knows and what one knows nothing of, a middle ground where the mind is left to wander, to assume, to suppose, and possibly to be afraid.

In situations where we are not at risk, where there are no potentials for loss or concerns for safety, we can usually tolerate a fairly high degree of uncertainty in our lives. There are plenty of times when we might be content to be uncertain. As might be expected, however, when issues of safety arise, our tolerance for uncertainty becomes less and less. We might wish to have two locks on the door and have one of them be really big. When the stakes are very high and the issues of life and death are present, our willingness to take unnecessary chances is rightfully diminished.

When the human mind does not know something, and feels uncomfortable not knowing, it sometimes tries to create a sense of knowing through the process of supposing. Someone who has supposed something has entered into a state of belief that may bear no relation to the facts. As was stated earlier about belief, likewise with supposing, there is nothing in the nature of one's ability to hold a supposition that bears on whether it is true. Sometimes we suppose just to quiet our fears. Other times supposing makes our fears worse.

Let us consider what the special nature of infinite ideas can offer to such issues. To human belief, there are things that are clearly good, things that are clearly bad, and sometimes gray areas in between. Religionists and others may differ on what the gray areas are. We sort through gray elements, and depending on our level of perspective we sometimes resolve gray issues to one side or the other. The infinite idea resolves gray areas and reconciles black and white. The infinite idea does not need a human belief or interpretation to tell it where to put thoughts; it puts them where they belong, and it puts them there to best effect, naturally. How does it do this?

From the viewpoint of infinity, one can translate good and evil events into those that are possible and inevitable and those that are impossible and inconceivable. These distinctions constitute primal order in the infinite realm. When you experience this in practice, you will appreciate the easy precision with which life at this level is ordered.

At the level of infinity, one realizes the truth of the common, if pessimistic, wisdom that if something can go wrong, it will. If something is possible at the level of infinity, it becomes an infinite possibility - it becomes a virtual certainty. The corollary, which obtains at the level of infinity, and from time to time elsewhere, is that if something cannot go wrong, it won't. If something is unlikely at the level of infinity, it is then infinitely unlikely - this thing is not going to happen. Because infinity tends to take things to their extremes, it takes all thoughts and shows their true colors.

Stepping off from a level four view of evil, if evil is spiritually mental empty space, an infinite idea of evil is infinitely empty. If evil is nothing, an infinite idea of it is infinite nothingness. Because of this aspect of the infinite idea, an unusual level of certainty accompanies an infinite apprehension of evil. In a sense, it is a negative certainty. It is a certainty about what is not. Infinite uncertainty becomes a kind of certainty. It becomes a kind of knowing. Infinite identity naturally resolves good and evil, real and unreal, into their essence as something and nothing. Working with any given word, we do not even need to know which it is going to be. Infinite identity conceives of such opposites as present and ever available or as forever absent, inconceivable, and unthinkable.

Another special attribute of the infinite idea is the degree to which it embraces experience. There are many abstract or spiritual ideas we can ponder that might allow us to remain remotely contemplative about them, but not the infinite idea. The infinite idea embraces all that is real, and it also embraces infinite abstractions whose unreality has been resolved into nothingness. The infinite idea does not have anything real or imagined conceivably outside of itself. One identifying with the infinite idea may be led into experiences confirming that evil is not only unreal at a spiritual level, but can be experienced as nothing more than empty space on the human scene. The experiential validation of evil as empty space confirms the supremacy of spiritual goodness and makes room for new conception.

Were it widely rumored that the moon was made of green cheese, some would swear it was a fact. Some might have doubts; others might have misgivings; some might have hope, while others had faith. Some might have real confidence, conviction, scientific understanding, or even absolute certainty. All such states of mind are not to be compared to knowledge gained from experience. We would not use words like conviction, faith, understanding, or certainty to describe the point of view of one who had been to the moon and returned. If we were the ones to have traveled to the moon, found it to be green cheese, nibbled on some of it, brought some back to earth, and used it to make salad dressing, we would not need to assert that we were certain.

Having been there, our viewpoint would not need to be supported by a conscious or affirmative mental position on the subject. We would simply have knowledge. While others might be afraid to entertain a doubt on the subject, for fear of losing their beliefs, any who had been there would not feel so threatened.

* * *

Let us follow another line of thought by addressing the nature of truth insofar as truth defines what is true and what is not. A witness asked to give testimony in a court of law is sometimes asked if they will "tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." Have you ever wondered why they do not simply ask the witness to tell the truth or not to lie? The reason for asking such a complicated question to get a straight answer has to do with what it takes to know the whole truth.

At the level of infinity, it could be said that the truth is one idea. However, that one idea has implicit in it three parts: there is the truth about what is, the truth about what is not, and the recognition that these two parts constitute the whole of truth. Because of what it takes to really know the truth, one cannot really know the truth without knowing what is true, what is not, and that these two fit together forming one whole truth.

In the illustration presenting the unfamiliar room, we had no way of knowing whether the room was filled with snakes. Truths were stated about the contents of the room, but we did not know if those constituted the whole truth. If we had asked whether there were any slithery things in the room, the truthful answer might have kept us from wading ankle deep into snakes.

This is not to suggest that we should ask a thousand questions about what is, what is not, and if anything has been omitted. In normal human living we are content to have a reasonable level of uncertainty. As spiritual thinkers, however, our true knowing conveys a sense of legitimate reality that is directly linked to our beliefs. The spiritual truths that we are able to truly know unveil the reality of spiritual goodness at hand. In dealing with good and evil, we can know infinite good, but how can we infinitely un-know evil?

In the human dimension, negative knowing is very different from not knowing. If there was a bear outside your cabin at night, perhaps you would rather not know about it until you saw its tracks in the morning. But not knowing about the bear is profoundly different from knowing that there is no bear.

We are not addressing things about which we would like to be humanly ignorant, but things we would like to know, about which we may have some uncertainty. If you know what is, if you know everything that is true about spiritual reality, cannot someone always come up to you and ask, "Is there anything else?" Could something possibly go wrong? Are you sure it is really safe? Will it ever happen again?

Were we to imagine an allegorical serpent who asks a lot of tricky questions, would the truth about spiritual goodness silence such a serpent? Understanding the truth about spiritual goodness might enable us to answer this serpent, but we might have to keep answering its pesky questions over and over and over. We may be able to attain a high level of certainty about goodness, but what do we know about evil? What is our level of expertise regarding the most subtle of serpents? Can they get to us? When knowledge of the infinite idea answers a questioning serpent, that question is never heard from again.

Knowledge of the infinite idea is all-inclusive of what is and all-exclusive of what is not. Knowledge of infinite good's allness and of infinite evil's nothingness constitutes one whole idea. The one who has knowledge of the infinite idea does not feel a twinge of uncertainty when asked to consider, "But what if...?" What is it about having knowledge of the infinite idea that makes us like the space travelers with all the cheese?

* * *

If an infinite uncertainty is not going to happen, if infinite doubt is total disbelief, if infinite risk is total failure, perhaps a use for such concepts can be found in the spiritually mental realm. We may want to be certain that evil will not happen, but until now we have only defined certainty for good things happening. To deal with evil, perhaps we need to have some negative certainty - we need to know what is not. Where can we find negative certainty in the mind of pure goodness?

Conventional wisdom says that it is hard to prove a negative. Perhaps we cannot be negatively certain, but only infinitely uncertain. Maybe, like having two locks on the door, we can have infinite certainty of good and infinite uncertainty of evil, both at the same time, flip sides of the same coin. Is uncertainty the symmetrical opposite of certainty and somehow to be associated with evil? Could it be that part of the antidote for evil is to have an infinite idea about it? When we are infinitely uncertain about evil, perhaps we are home free. If this is valid, the abstraction of infinite evil could be extremely useful, perhaps by being infinitely useless. It would be nice to have an infinite set of words for all the things that should never sensibly be.

We have talked about how an event that is infinitely uncertain will not happen. Carrying this idea a little further, infinite weakness is so puny as to be totally powerless. Infinite lack defines all the things we will never have. Infinite delay defines nothing ever happening. Infinite void defines a place absolutely clean of everything.

An infinite idea of evil can bring out the opposite of any human sense of it as something. This can be found with every word we could ever associate with evil. Each human step toward the realization of evil's nothingness brings palpable relief. When finally seen to be nothing, the words we might associate with evil can be elevated to an infinite idea the consequences of which must be entirely good.

While the most elevated human belief of evil, even as apparent spiritually mental empty space, does not conflict with all sorts of human suffering, the infinite idea of evil makes the idea of sensible evil totally inconceivable. It becomes nonsense. For this reason, the specific infinite idea of good and evil can antidote any adverse human sense of evil.

We have discussed the idea that infinite spiritual goodness defines the nature of everything that is real. We also know that the whole truth must include not only the truth of what is, but the truth of what is not. This latter aspect of truth is what is meant by the infinite idea of evil. The infinite idea of evil is inconceivable.

The idea that evil is the absence of good has been around for centuries. Working with the idea of evil as the absence of good and making that infinite, brings out interesting practical possibilities. If evil is a word whose essence is that it is ultimately inconceivable, the infinite idea of evil defines precisely and exactly that which is not.

At level three, where we first defined evil as unreal error, we were just at the beginning of understanding it. We declared evil to be nothing, but even then we did not fully comprehend what that meant. When we said it was unreal, we didn't mean some fancy infinite abstraction, but just that we had spiritual grounds for banishing its manifestations from consciousness. Now we learn that infinite evil is like a list of all the words that can be known to be inconceivable in the light of infinite spiritual thinking and being.

Perhaps when we have knowledge of the infinite idea, evil becomes a category for all the things that can never happen to us. If we have knowledge of infinite evil, perhaps we have knowledge that evil is something rightly experienced only in its absence. Then like returned lunar space travelers with green cheese on our breath, with knowledge of the infinite idea, we can go beyond belief, beyond understanding, having been there.

What may appear as scary evils on the human scene can be increasingly overcome as we embody the infinite ideas that antidote them and translate our sense of the negative into the infinite words that make it inconceivable. Now we are ready to stop wondering why providential intervention has not delivered us from evil. Perhaps it already has. Maybe the principle for evil's vanquishment is at our disposal, and we just have to work it out. If having to work it out is the bad news, the good news is that infinite truth is retroactive, which says that when we finally get things together, we will realize they have always been that way.

The one who has knowledge of infinite evil finds sensible evil to be inconceivable. A finite conception of evil, as by the human mind, is not a true conception but a misconception. Now let all our misconceptions be infinite. As we let spiritual conception displace human supposition, our ability to humanly misconceive fades away. Then we can no longer conceive of evil as a reality or misconceive of it in any sensible way.

Evil's ultimate antidote lies in infinite creativity, which renders, at once, the forever conceivability of good and the inconceivability of evil. If you can conceive of good, you can have it sensibly - it will make sense. To have knowledge of evil at the highest level of apprehension, its being inconceivable, makes it also insensible.

Words of infinite good and infinite evil would almost suggest an infinite writer of nonfiction and fiction. Its nonfiction is of things that are knowable, of goodness, love, life, and happiness. Its fiction is of opposite words. Because these things are fiction, they are all the things that become inconceivable to us as we reflect the infinite idea.

What evil may be to our senses often has little to do with its essential nature. Spiritual understanding of goodness dissolves beliefs of evil as obtrusive discord. Knowledge of the infinite idea of good and evil vanquishes the last observable remnants of evil, at their essence, as pure limitation.

Having made so little of human beliefs of evil, it is prudent to say something about the compounded phases of nothingness we might see as evils on the human scene. As a safety precaution, one would not want to encounter evil at any level of belief where it is regarded as something, but only at a level that knows it is nothing. Even though the idea of sensible evil is invalid, a belief in its validity could make it seem real to our mentality, and we would rather not have to deal with it at that level. If we see evil having a mental aspect as something, we should address it based on how it looks to us.

The basic office of evil is to define that which is not. For this reason, evil wants to pretend it is not there; it wants to hide, and when uncovered it wants to disappear. Because true knowing must comprehend both what is and what is not, any aspect of evil needs to be recognized by its particular name before that specific phase of it can completely disappear. Only in this way can we have a knowledgeable inventory of all the things that can never be.

It is fine for evil to appear to thought as an abstract empty space with a name. And it is fine for us to have knowledge of it by experiencing its oneness with the infinite idea of good. But if evil appears to us as accident, indifference, malice, vengeful justice, evil personality, mortal belief, or fatal limitation, it is unwise to lend our thought to it, to consent to it, to conceive of it, or to reproduce it. Sentient evil will eventually disappear from consciousness, and we do not want to be identifying with it in any finite way when it goes. In addition to simply disappearing, a more genteel way of saying that evil destroys itself, disappearing evil often brings out things that are aesthetically unpleasant, so they can disappear too.

When one is at a level of human belief where evil appears as something that is nothing, rather than as something that is something, one should be especially alert not to be humanly careless. There are no rewards in this life for being dumb. As an infinite idea, evil is an inconceivable abstraction. Entertaining a human belief in evil as something or even as nothing could lead one to accept evil's appearance on the human scene, which is all that is required to open the way for unfortunate manifestations.

* * *

Let us consider ourselves at a picnic luncheon looking for the salt. We are told there is a salt shaker with salt in it. What do we really know about this? Assuming that the statement about the presence of salt is truthful, we know there is salt. Based on that statement alone, we do not know how much salt, and we have no information about whether there is anything else in the shaker. We know that by being salt, the substance in question is not pepper. But to have the whole truth about what is in the shaker, we need to know more. We would really need to know more about this salt shaker were we to have our lives depend on it.

The mind that knows only what is, is open to suggestions from the remainder. Before we shake this salt on our cosmic mashed potatoes, we may want to know, not only what is in the shaker, but what is not. It might be salt mixed with rat poison for all we know. This might seem to be a silly distinction, and in most cases it is. But if our universe is to become the image of our knowing, we will certainly want to know what is real and what is to be excluded from sensible existence. Using the four levels of human belief and a level beyond the human, let us consider different observations about the salt shaker. Please pardon the strained analogy.

At level one, we look in the salt shaker and see salt and rat poison. We want to have the rat poison there, for some reason - to get rid of rats, perhaps. Because we want it there, it makes sense that the one who filled the shaker put in both salt and rat poison. We need to pick our way carefully among the specks. We cannot help wondering which ones were intended for us. No wonder we feel guilty.

At level two, we look in the salt shaker and see salt and rat poison. We know the one who put salt in the shaker did not put in the rat poison. Someone else did that. You can finish the rest of that story.

At level three, we look in the salt shaker and see salt and rat poison, but knowing that no one would have put rat poison in the shaker, we conclude that our observation must be in error. It is only our false belief that says it is there. Realizing this, we look again and, yes, our illusion of rat poison has disappeared. All we see is salt. However, at this point we have lost our appetites.

At level four, we see clearly that the salt shaker is half full of salt, nothing else. This would not be a problem ordinarily, but today we are at the end of a very long line. We are afraid that by the time we get to the front of the line the salt will be all gone.

As infinite thinkers, we see the salt shaker completely full of lovely white salt. In this case, we may even feel like we washed the salt shaker and filled it ourselves. The idea of rat poison is, to us, inconceivable. Having heard a rumor of rat poison, however, we are amused and comforted by the idea that all that salt fits in a perfectly empty shaker.

Observations about the salt shaker and its contents represent the different steps of our evolving beliefs. The contents of the salt shaker is like the contents of consciousness. Our individual levels of belief determine how we will be likely to perceive issues and approach solutions. It is only as infinite thinkers that we become aware of the value of starting with an empty shaker. Reaching for identity beyond human dimensions nurtures our knowledge of infinite fullness in infinite emptiness, and this brings the ultimate comforts.

Copyright 1994, Jim Chapman

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