The Knowledge of Good and Evil
When the thinker identifies and reflects the mind of spiritual goodness as his or her own right mind, the thinker becomes gradually dissociated from any hypothetical sense of an erring mortal mind or sense of falsity. When our reflection of spiritual principles becomes what we call our thinking, this reflected spiritual thinking realizes its reality. It becomes clear that no mental activity apart from spiritual goodness has substance. The previous level of belief loses its mental hold as our human belief of reality.
As we gain the mental confidence to look to spiritual reflection for all our sensations, fears associated with losing good sensations, or having negative ones, fade away. Looking to spirit for its sensations, identity comes to regard its sensations as spiritual, and this includes its sensations of itself, of its surroundings, and of its sense of substance and existence. The loving embodiment of our spiritual sense brings us into a new level of human belief. Declarations of the allness of spiritual goodness, that we held as our ideals at level three, become our human beliefs now at level four. Matter, most recently viewed as an erroneous perception or mental error, now no longer presses itself on our thought. Thoughts that used to be seen as matter are resolved into discord and limitation, neither of which have a mental aspect as reality. Mental discord disappears from consciousness, leaving human limitation as the only negative.
At level four, we do not see a human world made of spirit and matter, of truth and error. The mental makeup of our human world is seen to consist of spirit and nothing, of spirit and empty space. This level of belief is logically consistent with the ideal of spiritual substance as the sole reality of creation.
At this point, it appears palpably that spirit and spiritual ideas are the only mental substance. From this vantage, it becomes clear that there could never have been any essential beginning to mental discord. There never could have been a false mental creation or actual mental misconception. There never could have been a false supposing, and there is no false supposition to explain.
What we are talking about here is still a phase of human belief. At this fourth level of belief, we may have obeyed, believed, and understood our ideas of law, goodness, and spirituality. Nevertheless, the world of observation appears objectively like it is. It has a brighter hue, but it is the same world as seen by everyone else. This world still has its problems, and we could still call the world's problems an appearance or sense of evil. It is just that the problems seem different than before. They have a different mental aspect. At this level, we see the world through a different lens of belief. What is behind this?
At this point, we have obsoleted our old beliefs again. Now we need to come up with another theory to explain our sense of the negative. We need a new theory to explain what may be our new sense of evil, even if ours is a sense of evil as nothing at all.
We are getting closer to having beliefs about our everyday world that are in harmony with the earlier ideas about the principle of pure infinite spiritual goodness. As we reach for words of infinite spiritual goodness as our mental principle, we no longer conceive of the spiritual idea independent from our reflection of it. When we let our sensations be spiritual, and unlimit our love to win out over superstitious fears of nothingness, we set the stage for the disappearance of any real seeming to discordant thinking. Now we have arrived at a state of mind where we identify spirit as the only actual substance, reality, feeling, and experience. Our sense of the negative is simply a sense of it as empty space, a sense of it as nothing at all.
At this level of belief, the reality of what we see before us is spiritual. In a sense, your hand before you is spirit. It is the spiritual idea of a hand reflected in the mind of spirit. It is a finite representation of the hand of the infinite. But we need to make some fine distinctions here.
While we have a finite sense, the world of observation is not totally spirit, in the sense of being infinite spiritual goodness. At this level, the world we see is a mixture of spirit and nothing, of spirit and empty space. To look about ourselves in this world and say it is all spirit might be pantheism. That is not what we are talking about. We may still see a problem here, and we could still call it a problem of evil. But now we see it not so much as something wrong, but as something missing.
At each stage of our progress we gain a higher sense of the prevalence and power of pure goodness, and evil becomes less legitimate to us. In each case, after we finish thinking about the essential nature of good and evil, we have to come up with an explanation, however flimsy, for our remaining sense of the negative, even as it fades from view. Now, again, we have articulated a new sense of the nature of good and evil - good as spiritual reality and evil as spiritually mental empty space. Now we have to come up with a new theology to have such an interpretation make at least temporary sense.
At this level, we have become comfortable regarding things as thoughts, differentiating between the spiritual identity that makes things appear and our sense of the things themselves. The thoughts to which we knowingly lend our volition are all on the side of spiritual good. Now it is clear that to be spiritually minded is to really live, to feel all life's feelings, and to know all life's joys.
Our new theory is based on recognition that the underlying reality of every good thing is the essential substance provided by the creator: spiritually creative thought declaring itself - I am. It naturally appears to us in this frame of mind that any appearance of evil is not the result of some evil act, incarnation, or mind. Apparent evil is not backed up by some evil mentality, essence, or illusion, real or imagined. It is simply not backed up at all. At this level of belief, the appearance of any evil is not seen to be precipitated by bad mental substance, but simply by the want of mental substance. Apparent evil is simply a sense of some not-knowing of spiritual truth. It has an aspect of pure spiritual opportunity.
At this stage of our practice, we see everything that actually exists as good. Any sense of evil can be likened to darkness. It can be observable while we know it is not actually something. What is darkness? You can see it, but you have no doubt that it is not stuff. You do not even think of darkness as unreal stuff, like a level three view. You know it is simply the appearance to your sense of some not-shining of the light.
A small child might not understand that darkness is not something. He might see the dark as a fearsome reality, a negative sense that is something, rather than a negative sense that is nothing. Were one not to understand its nothingness, darkness would be something to prudently avoid. It might have a foreboding mental aspect, if one did not know that what appears to the senses as light and darkness are not two opposite substances, but that light is the presence of illuminating energy, and darkness is its absence - simply a sense of the want of light.
To transfer the light and darkness analogy to ideas of truth, one could say that the light of infinite truth, or the spiritual substance that the creator consciousness causes to be, could be simply dawning to, or even as, individual and collective thought. Any appearance of evil could be regarded as simply a compounded sense of that which is not, some not-yet-knowing of the truth of infinite spiritual reality.
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We have moved a few steps forward, and now we must take the usual step backward. While we are trying to have our spiritual ideals replace our human beliefs at level three, it is easy to be unaware of the background beliefs that base our actions. But spiritual progress requires us to gradually accept improved human beliefs before they are replaced altogether by the spiritual and infinite. We need to be unafraid to accept the better of still imperfect human choices. A belief that spiritual truth is dawning unopposed into empty space is a lesser evil than belief in evil as a mortal mind, a divinely allowed educational tool, or as divinely ordained punishment.
To embrace an improved belief at this new level, we need to consider that the creation, conception of its spiritual idea, or at least its exposure to us, had at some point a small beginning. We need to embrace the idea that spiritual creation was once little. Perhaps in this we lovingly embrace our own humanity and receive spiritual creation as a little child. Having embraced this little idea, our new human belief is that spiritual creation is not unlike a point of light that grew from some tiny peep to become a tidal wave of spiritual revelation traveling through space and time and all dimensions. This belief is not our ideal; it is not the infinite principle we reach for; it is just a more progressive interpretation of our human sense of things.
This theory suggests that the dawn of spiritual truth is even now progressively filling voids, giving form to formlessness, dispelling spiritually mental darkness, and vanquishing sensible manifestations of discord and limitation from consciousness and universal experience. In this state of belief, the conclusion that things are always getting better is inescapable. This can be a comforting thought.
For this theory of the spiritual dawn to make sense, we must understand that spiritual substance is the essence of everything real and that there is no opposite mentality. This enables us to overcome our fears of embodying existence closely enough to have it integrated. Love of the infinite makes it silly to have a frame of mind where spirit and matter, truth and error, good and evil, real and unreal, are practically at odds with each other. This level of belief can support some very buoyant human philosophies.
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If the fundamental aspect of aggressive human problems appears to us as erroneous belief or as mesmeric mortal mind, our human beliefs are anchored in the "false supposing" theory of evil, at level three. If we view the essential aspect of problems as inadequate spiritual expression, our beliefs are rooted in "the dawn," at level four. Both types of belief are finite, but the dawn theory is more progressive and less frightening.
Implicit in the false supposing theory, and in less metaphysical theories of "the fall," like Adam and Eve in the garden, is the possibility that it could happen again. If the explanation for one's beliefs about the origin of evil, or even the origin of error, includes the proposition that once something bad happened in a world created good, then there is nothing in that logic to keep it from happening again. This theoretical susceptibility is an element responsible for some of the superstitious fears latent in human religions.
If a jot of one's theology is based on the notion that something bad once happened to something good, that mental position makes one's beliefs vulnerable to the conscious or latent fear that it could happen again. This fear, that one could do something wrong or not do something right and therefore fall into darkness, is inescapable for all belief systems before level four.
We might illustrate this issue graphically by viewing the traditional religious theory of creation (of good, with some sort of fall, moral or metaphysical) as a line beginning at unity and taking a plunge from its original goodness. If we accept this idea, this fall, we have bought into logic that must admit that the line could be a sawtooth. Even if we are successfully working our way upward, our spiritual growth or even collective human spiritual progress could take a plunge again at any moment. If we believe any of the "fall" or "false supposing" theories of the origin of evil, our logic will be unable to prevent us from fearing that our own or the world's progress could be a sawtooth curve.
This latent theoretical susceptibility is inherent in all religious systems grounded in level three and before. That is why some more secular appearing human philosophies, with but subtle spiritual underpinnings in level four belief, can result in superficial belief systems that are much less fearful than those more devoutly held at earlier levels in human religions.
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Infinity is creative, and its creativity results in it continually conceiving of itself anew. It may be that creativity needs to be seen in a new way. Since infinity is boundless, maybe the appearance of spiritual creativity is subjective to the observer. Maybe what we see as creativity is the discovery of aspects of infinity we had not yet seen, our forever discovery of what already is.
Let us go back and remember our old friend the principle of pure infinite spiritual goodness. This infinite spiritual principle tells us we need not wait to receive the present fullness of spiritual goodness. Our work is already done. As long as we think like it, the principle of infinite spiritual goodness will keep pulling at our human beliefs, and we will keep progressing at the edges of our beliefs. It may be that this theory of the dawn, where problems are seen as spiritually mental empty space, gradually filling with spiritual light, is one of the last humanly conceivable conclusions. After all, the only missing element in the dawn theory is the idea of infinity.
It may be that the idea of infinity is at odds with any human sense of things, even our most sublime sense of finite concepts. The difference between the viewpoint of infinite spiritual goodness and this fourth level of human belief is that, with the dawn, it just looks like all the good we seek has not yet arrived. Our present human sense of spiritual reality just looks like a partial shipment. At this level, any human assessment of our problems can begin by realizing their solution is only a matter of time.
In the last two chapters, we addressed seven cases of causation and interpretations of evil consistent with each case. In each case, the idea of creation mirrors the concept of creator, and the idea of good has a logical symmetry with the explanation for evil. There were three cases before rational spiritual levels: no spiritual causation, indifferent causation, and mystical causation. Then there were four levels corresponding to what we have called rational spiritual action: (1) creation of good and evil; (2) creation of good, with allowance for evil; (3) creation of spiritual good, with evil as false belief; and (4) dawn of spiritual good, with evil as spiritual empty space.
Reaching out to pure infinite spiritual goodness as identity can bring you from wherever you start to the end of these stages of human belief. While working out your spiritual progress, your patterns of growth will tend to evolve along these steps of being, thinking, believing, and behavior.
What we believe will be determined by a number of factors. The range of our thinking will be determined by our starting point. It will depend on how deep and how far we reach into the infinite. Casting out to reflect infinity as identity may be the ultimate engine of our progress. Thinking based on spiritual principles brings spiritual understanding and opportunities to sort out and improve our beliefs. Changes in our beliefs bring out changes in our words and actions. How far we reach to seed our spiritual thinking may not be the only pacing factor determining our progress, but it is a most powerful impetus.
When trying to work out our spiritual growth, we sense the value of keeping our idea of identity, our thoughts, our beliefs, and our actions linked together. Since we see what we believe, our actions tend to be consistent with the world as we believe it to be. When we are thinking ahead of our beliefs, we will at length perceive the consequences of our thoughts. This seeing promotes the transformation of old beliefs until they correspond to new and better ways of thinking.
The conclusion of these last two chapters is that all human beliefs related to transcendent being, to creator and creation, are by definition limited beliefs. Insofar as they are limited, they are, from the viewpoint of infinity, inaccurate at best. In fact, they are all fatally flawed. Thoughts made out of human concepts and their accompanying dimensional pictures misrepresent the idea of infinity.
To think about things humanly, to use finite concepts and dimensional pictures for our very best thoughts, is to employ a logical framework within which all the manifest ills of humanity can be justified. To be infinitely minded about the objects and events of life is to begin to truly understand them, and it is the ultimate antidote.
Copyright 1994, Jim Chapman
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