Is there a superhuman life or is this a closed universe limited to what we can see and touch? Right from our beginnings as a human race we and our forefathers have always felt there has to be some power beyond this earth who is ultimately responsible for our existing at all. In other words, there has to be a first cause, however many intermediate or evolutionary causes lie in between. Is there any empirical evidence of a life above and beyond ours? Is there any touch-and-see evidence of life from outer space?
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For generations we human beings have lived off the earth. We have kept alivethrough eating its produce and we have made homes for ourselves from its woodand stone. Nevertheless the earth hasn’t been able to give us a sense ofself-worth, and we have felt vaguely dissatisfied with the extent of thehappiness it gives us. This consciousness of “something missing” wasexplained clearly by the unique historical figure called Jesus about twothousand years ago.
Differing from religious leaders like Buddha or Mohammed who claimed to besimply human prophets, Jesus explained that the Creator of the earth was hispersonal father and that they lived together before the earth was made. He saidthat the real purpose of our life here was to spend our days being and doingwhat his father planned for us personally. If we concentrated on that, ourcreator would ensure that the economy of the world-system would provide enoughfood, clothes, and shelter to keep us alive.
Meanwhile this inner trust in him would make us like him so that we wouldfit right into the new world that he would start after this one ended. We, ofcourse, rejected the whole idea and got down to the business of getting from theworld’s economy what we needed through our own determination and energy. Theresult is that we are an up-tight bunch of little parasites who live off eachother’s attention and prey on each other’s possessions. When this Jesus tells to”have no anxiety about what we shall eat or what we shall drink or what weshall put on”, we find it impossible to stop worrying about these things.Even when we do get some money or possessions together, we then get preoccupiedwith what others think of us because we now miss the approval of the creatorhimself.
This, Jesus then explained, was the reason for his coming to earth: toenable us to be changed in our personalities so that we could live the way hisfather originally intended. He said through his follower, Paul, that when hedied outside Jerusalem we all died. In fact, his death in 29 a.d. was simply themanifestation in time-space of our death in him that took place “before thefoundation of the world”. This was God’s way of enabling you and I to seethe results of our living independent of him and yet have the chance to changeand begin trusting him. The theory of relativity has now demonstrated how thiskind of future event can already have taken place elsewhere in space (or, inthis case, beyond space).
How Do You Change?
But how can this change occur in you- First, you have to want it. This meansyou have to believe in Jesus–believe that his explanation of this life iscorrect–believe that he is the creator’s son and that his death included you.Then, you have to decide whether to continue to depend on the world and yourability to get what you want from it–or to depend on your Father-creator andgive yourself to doing what he wants. When you’ve faced the consequences of thatas truthfully as possible, you need to act. This means ending those attitudesand actions that spring from your selfish use of the world and other people;instead, you start to confer with Jesus and obey the inner impressions youreceive from him. His father (and yours) will then begin to work out yourcircumstances to fulfil his plan for your life. So–your “other life”the new one–will begin!
Dying with Jesus – What does it Mean?
What actually took place when the Creator destroyed you in his Son outsidetime and space- He destroyed your inner tendency to persist in working anglesand watching out for the main chance. That, of course, leaves youdefenceless-unless he defends you. This was symbolized by Jesus hanging on thecross with nothing but a loin-cloth on: if God did not protect his life, hehimself certainly wouldn’t. For many of us, replacing God’s will for that numberone priority of ensuring we don’t go down is a major motivation we have tosettle in our heads.
Another is the simple one of material things. When Jesus died he ownednothing besides the robe he had on. Our cars, clothes, houses, vacations,stereos are not the problem–the feeling of false security we get from thesethings is the real problem. Though it is false, it’s what our heart leans on forits sense of security: where our heart is, there is our treasure also. Thissubtle confidence in money and possessions prevents a sensitive trust in ourFather and gives rise to all the worry and coveting that govern our behavior.Dying with Jesus cuts us off from material things and makes them immaterial tous. Indifference to them is the attitude of the new person we’ve been made inChrist’s resurrection.
Perhaps the biggest implication of the fact that we have been crucified withChrist is that we ourselves no longer exist. Our body exists–and our minds andemotions–but our personal identity as it has been up to now–has died. We havea new personal identity wrapped up completely with Jesus– guided by his ideasand thoughts–identified with his purposes. We–as our mothers knew us–havebeen utterly destroyed and changed into new creations.
As we think about these implications, we need to see that we are notconsidering what we should do–we are simply considering whether we will acceptnow what has already been done–or whether we will continue to live in theunreality that was destroyed in Jesus’ death.
by Ernest O’Neill
Heroin enables us to pretend that we are transcending this narrow little physical sphere in which we live, but it ties us fatally to the earth. Marihuana gives us a sense of “flying” but it enslaves our inner aspiration to the body. Alcohol seems to relieve us of what Shakespeare called the “heavy and the weary weight of all this unintelligible world”, but it squeezes our mind in a vice-like grip that imprisons us in our circumstances. Sex seems to release us from the boring conventions of earth-bound relationships but it finally bores itself. We could go on listing thousands of other enslavements that we use to satisfy our inner longing to soar free like the eagles, but we would have to admit that all of them trap us in slavery to the earth or people or things. That’s the paradox of our lives here: we sense within us a longing to transcend and fly high, but our dependence on the world of things, people, and circumstances has enslaved us ever more continuously to this earth.
The Reality Behind Drugs
The explanation that we have been studying was given by the unique human being who lived in the first century of our era and was known as Jesus of Nazereth. After transcending the ordinary physical and mental powers of humanity by a life that could control the powers of nature and heal diseased bodies, he was executed by the Romans and came back to life after a few days. He explained that his father was the creator of the universe and that he had put us here to learn to depend on him. If we were to do that, he would fill us with his own superhuman life that makes cashflows work, bodies live free from strain, and maintain hearts at peace. He painted out that flesh and blood could never “inherit the kingdom of heaven” by using or abusing any weed or herb of the earth. He explained that our dependence on physical stimulation via our five senses over the years and centuries had permanently perverted our natures so that we couldn’t trust the creator for our livelihood even if we wanted to. What was needed was a complete destruction of all that we have become and a total re-creation of us by the creator himself.
The Cosmic Death
This was what his father did in his death at Calvary just outside Jerusalem in the first century of our era. His crucifixion was simply the space-time manifestation of a cosmic death of the human race that had taken place ‘before the foundation of the world’. Through followers like Paul of Tarsus, he elaborated on this ‘cosmic death’, pointing out that when he died, we all died and at that moment in spaceless-timelessness the old creation passed away and a new creation took its place. In a sense it’s what Plato said in “The Republic” there is in heaven a perfect, ideal form of everything here on the earth. Jesus, however, said that this destruction of the old and creation of the new was achieved by his father because he was able to foresee the way we would act and behave and deteriorate. Thus he was able to provide the solution even before we were born here on earth. We therefore have a real intelligible choice which we can make: we are in that enviable position of being able to see what our lives become if we depend on the earth and people and things. Yet we can reject that as we’ve seen it working out here on earth and be willing for the creator’s Spirit to replace this old creation with the new one he has made in Jesus’ resurrection.
The possibility of a total replacement of our old selves is like an impossible dream. Yet it’s what all of us know is necessary. We’ve all tampered with our habits and our incorrigibilities, but we realize that our fear of what people think of us and anxiety about our futures and the dissipation of our vices all come from one unitary attitude — self-dependence. Because we ourselves are incapable of supplying all our needs, self-dependence really means dependence on other things and other people in the world. It is this basic slavery and untamable selfishness that cannot be turned around by our “tampering” with this habit or that temper. We sense that a complete overhaul of the system is needed. The product really needs to be sent back to the manufacturer to be retuned and reset according to the original specifications. This, Jesus explained, is what happened in his cosmic death in eternity which was manifested in history in Palestine for humanity to see.
The Theory of Relativity
The plausibility of the creator foreseeing how you would turn out and replacing that with his original version of you before you were even born is clearer as scientists begin to touch the borders of time and eternity. We ourselves can see the relativity of time in the fact that we can now fly the Concord to New York from London and arrive several hours before we left. But cosmologists like Stephen Hawking are demonstrating mathematically that time passes more slowly at the top of a tower than at the bottom. The famous twins illustration has enabled even lay-people to understand that if one twin were to travel in outer space for several years, he would arrive back on earth younger than his brother who remained earth-bound. In other words, the theory of relativity is showing scientifically that there is a place out in space where time stands still compared with earth. An infinite creator can see past and future as one great eternal present where everything happens at once.
The real achievement or miracle is to bring eternity into time. How do you break through to eternity? How does the new version of you that exists in Christ actually penetrate your present self? Let’s talk about that in the next article.
The Ideal You
Plato was an ancient philosopher who has greatly influenced the way men have explained the meaning of life through the centuries. One of the surprising ideas he presented was that somewhere in heaven THERE IS A PERFECT FORM OF EVERYTHING HERE ON EARTH. Every artist or designer therefore is simply attempting to reproduce that perfect form in their particular specimen. A chair is an imperfect imitation of the perfect chair that exists in heaven.
Several hundred years after Plato, the unique human being, Jesus, lived in Nazareth. He differed from Plato in many ways. Plato died and was never seen again. Jesus died and was seen by hundreds for weeks after he came back from the dead. Plato talked about the One True Good, but Jesus talked about God as his own personal father. Plato talked about perfect forms of inanimate objects in heaven, but Jesus talked about perfect forms of each human being that existed in heaven.
This is the remarkable fact that we discussed last month. Most of us have realized that just as our arteries clog up with cholesterol and our bodies wrinkle with age, so our personalities become increasingly twisted and perverted as the years pass. We become dependent for our sense of self-worth on what people think of us. We become dependent on our possessions for our sense of security. As a result our emotional peace and balance is governed by people and things until we seem to be puppets who merely respond or react to outside stimuli. The heroin addict seems to be simply a very crude example of the complex deterioration that afflicts us all. Often we have thought: ‘`IF I COULD ONLY START ALL OVER AGAIN — the way I was as a child — a fresh, clean slate!”
The Perfect You
That is the miraculous change that Jesus explained was possible! He made it clear that such a basic, radical new beginning was the only possibility for our lives to be what his Father intended. Jesus showed that his death completed what God had started when he gave us free wills. Free will meant that we could choose to love God as our own father or separate ourselves from him. But separation entailed separating ourselves from the one person who loved us unselfishly, from the one person who could protect us forever, and from the one person who knew why we were here. Without these certainties WE BECAME WANDERING NOMADS; we felt like alien orphans on a strange planet, so we set about making ourselves secure and happy. However, everyone else was doing the same so we ended up the perverted little parasites that we are today — badgered by petty jealousies of which we’re ashamed and twisted by selfish ambitions that fill us with fear.
God foresaw this development, destroyed it in his son Jesus before the foundation of the world — and then let it “play in Peoria” so that we could make a real and final choice. Out of sheer kindness to us, the Creator gave us a chance to “HAVE OUR CAKE AND EAT IT”. He made it possible for us to reject him and cause him pain, see what that did to us and him, and then “go round again” and accept the new, balanced version of ourselves that he had recreated before we were born here on earth.
How Does Eternity Penetrate Time?
Many of us see the necessity for such a superhuman change because we have tried and tried to improve ourselves ’til we have given up. But how does eternity penetrate time- How is the recreated ideal version of me actualized here in time-space- This is where the absolute simplicity of God’s solution bewilders all but the most desperate.
God alone can reproduce in you the ideal version of you that he has recreated in Jesus. He does it IF YOU BELIEVE HE DOES! That’s it — it’s tantalizingly, infuriatingly incomprehensible. But that’s really how it works. If you believe you’ve been destroyed in Jesus — that selfish, unchrist-like, angry, critical you — and set your mind and will on the fact that Jesus now lives in your body instead of you, then God makes that a fact!
Not Power of Positive Thinking
It’s not that your thinking positively makes it so. It’s that the Creator sees your faith in Him and uses His miraculous powers to replace time with eternity. HE LITERALLY MAKES THE CLOCK GO BACK FOR YOU. The difference between faith and the ‘power of positive thinking’ is that positive thinking tries to change reality by the power of thought whereas faith simply thinks and wills what is reality.
“Turn the clock back- Not on your life — it’s been hard enough gettingwhere I am.” Besides, turning the clock back usually means losing all thegains that progress has brought about in our lives.
But isn’t there another meaning for the phrase — Have you not wished attimes that you could erase the wrinkles that time and anxiety have made in yourforehead? Haven’t you wished that you could be INNOCENT AGAIN AS YOU WERE INPRIMARY SCHOOL? Don’t we often wish we could look at things as freshly as weused to? Free from some of our cynical, twisted preconceptions? The ulteriormotives and suspicions that spoil our attitude to others?
Don’t we especially wish that we could turn the clock back on some of thephysical and mental habits that chain us to the past and prevent us doing whatwe know we ought? How many of us wish we could shed our procrastination, ourindecisiveness, our inferiority complex, our financial worries, our physicaladdictions? But all of these have been built “brick-by-brick” overyears of wrong choices — they are the part of our past that is present with usday after day. “If only we could turn the clock back on the character wehave become!”
The best that we can do with our COUNSELLING AND PSYCHOLOGY is — “let’spretend that we have turned the clock back”. So we try to manipulate theway we look at the past. We try to rationalize our actions and experiences. Weat times try to sever the cord that ties our memory to our consciousness. Butsomehow these excursions into our unconscious don’t produce permanent results.We wish that there was some way to actually turn the clock back — to unlive thepast — so that our present character was free to begin again. What a relief itwould be if we could now (given our experience) begin life again!
Time and Eternity
Our Creator knew we would end up in this position. It was necessary if wewere to have free wills. We had to have the opportunity to see the fullout-working of choosing to put ourselves first. But there had to be some way toenable us to return to “square 1” — to erase the past’s effects onour present personality! Choosing right means nothing unless its consequencescompletely replace the consequences of choosing wrong.
Turning the clock back is what happened in 29 A.D. on a cross outsideJerusalem when Jesus of Nazareth was executed. Time-wise, this was just thecrucifixion of another would-be national messiah who would deliver the Jews fromRoman oppression. Eternity-wise, this was the historical expression of theDESTRUCTION OF THE WHOLE HUMAN RACE (as it had become) and its complete renewaland resurrection in the timeless-spacelessness of eternity.
That’s why our Creator prompted Paul to write things like — “If withChrist you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as ifyou still belonged to the world?” “For you have died and your life ishid with Christ in God” -“We were buried therefore with him by baptisminto death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of theFather, we too might walk in newness of life” — “We know that our oldself was crucified with him” (Colossians 2:20; 3:3; Romans 6:4,6).
This Jesus Christ was “slain from before the foundation of the world”(Revelation 13:8) — “He was destined before the foundation of the worldbut was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake” (1 Peter1:20). As Stephen Hawking writes in his Brief History of Time, “the theoryof relativity gets rid of absolute time — just as one cannot talk about eventsin the universe without the notions of space and time, so in general relativityit became meaningless to talk about space and time outside the limits of theuniverse” (Ibid p.33). As is shown by the “twins” example of onetwin aging faster on earth than the other would out in space, there is a “place”where time is one ever-present moment. Thus our Creator did not simply turn backthe clock in Jesus’ death — He eliminated it.
How do we Turn the Clock Back?
Simply by believing reality — the Creator has eliminated the clock. Becauseof his work on us in Christ, we have been changed — that is reality. And thatchange is effective now — the tracks your past left in you have been erased. Itis as if it never happened! Adopt that attitude now. Look up to your Creatorthis moment for the original spirit he put into you to guide the development ofyour life.
Air fills your lungs as soon as you breathe. Reality breaks in upon you assoon as you act in accordance with it. Inferiority complex, weakness for drugs?”The old has passed away, behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians5:17).
Stop pretending any longer. Live now in reality.
Life in Space
We humans have always imagined a vast “space” world exists somewhere in the universe where beings like us would be capable of travelling huge distances and performing superhuman feats. Of course, we have always smiled at these dreams of space-fiction as simply figments of our imagination. Even if we are beginning to probe the breathtaking spaces of our solar system at speeds which appear to lift us beyond our human limitations, yet man himself remains burdened with his own human limitations however much he dreams of liberation.
But There is Such a World!
That is the startling truth! Our Creator made us with free wills, foresaw what a mess we would make of ourselves and rectified it in His Son’s death; then he gave us about 70 years on this planet to see the mess and choose his remedy. At this moment, in timeless-spaceless there exists an unspoilt version of you that is free from anxious wrinkles, disappointed cynicism, fear and apprehension. That’s the effect of the cosmic miracle revealed in 29 A.D.: “the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world…we are convinced that one has died for all, therefore all have died…therefore if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come” (Revelation 4:8; Corinthians 4:14,17).
Leaving the Earth
But how do you enter that God-recreated self that has the innocence of the child you once were? How do you get into the spaceship that carries you beyond the earth’s limiting atmosphere?
Here’s one obvious truth–you can’t get into what you’re in already! And you’re already in that spaceship — “God…even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ, and raised us up with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-7). That is the part of reality that exceeds the dreams of space-fiction: while you live your daily life here on earth, the “real you” exists in spaceless eternity waiting for you to believe it. That is, in fact, how you enter this new dimension — you believe the Creator’s statement — and behave accordingly.
There is no other way. Your original creation is beyond your understanding, and certainly your pre-original re-creation is beyond your understanding, so the only step you can take is belief in the Creator’s statements. This involves more than a childish declaration of belief in yellow fairies just because you choose to believe in them. It means a realization of the egotistic, self-seeking and self-gratifying individual you have become through your dependence on yourself and others instead of God. It means arriving at a place of absolute despair of changing yourself that makes you desperate enough to see the sense of the radical destruction and recreation that your Creator has carried out.
Only such absolute despair and dependence on God’s work in Christ makes a person willing for the radical change that is to be worked in their nature. Only such a change enables the superhuman life of the Maker to infuse totally the inside and outside of a human being. Only such an infusion of superhuman spirit from God can lift a human creature into the life we were originally created to live.
Such an absolute change of mind and will about how we live life constitutes the metanoia or repentance that validates the intervention of eternity in this temporal life. But this new birth continues only as we live in the new reality of dependence on the Creator rather than the world of men and circumstances and things.
A Leap Into Cleaness
Personal change is a “leap into cleanness”. It isn’t a long drawn out struggle to overcome the selfishness in you. It is a glorious leap into the “perfect you” that has been resurrected in Christ in the presence of God. It’s not something you do, but an eager, whole-hearted embracing of what God has done for you in His Son. Suddenly it dawns upon you that “you have been crucified”. God did it when he included you in His Son. You must choose to live a crucified or an uncrucified life. But the actual crucifying is not in your hands — it’s been done for you. The life-shattering change from within that begins to take place, takes you out into a life of such vivid, carefree existence that it may take the next five years to describe it. Let’s begin in the next article.
By Ernest O’Neill
H.G. Wells — and others — dreamed of a “time-machine” that wouldlift us out of the present century and the limitations of our own time-spacelife and transfer us into a larger experience. That is what our Creator has donefor us in his son Jesus Christ. Jesus himself is above time and space — he said”restore to the the glory which I had with you “before the world was”.(John 17:5) This means that He exists above time and space and the limitationsof our earthly existence. In his short time on earth in the first century heexplained to us that we were created to live in that same transcendent timelessstate even here on earth. He put it like this — “I have come that youmight have life and that you might have it more abundantly…set your mindtherefore on things that are above not on things that are on the earth”. (John 10:10 and Collosians 3:2)
Just as we call credit cards “plastic money” so there is areligious plastic that substitutes its own limited salvation for this realsalvation which God has given us in his son Jesus. So, conventional religioninterprets these explanations of Jesus metaphorically as meaning that we shouldthink about highly moral things instead of low earthy things. But the Christ(this man who came from beyond the earth) meant what he said. He indicatedthrough his follower Paul that the present state of our lives was like deathcompared to the state our Creator had provided for us originally. He stated thatGod had allowed us to sink into this “second-best-life” to demonstratewhat life on our own would be like. But in his son Jesus Chris the had preservedthe original life and had recreated our original existence in his son so that wemight choose it if we wished. He put it like this: “those of us who weredead in our trespasses and sins God made alive together with Christ and raisedus up with him and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesusthat in the coming ages he might show forth the riches of his kindness towardsus in Christ Jesus”. (Ephesians 2:5-7) We all have had glimpses of thisexistence when the Creator has allowed moments of youthful exhilaration to fillus with the limitless possibilities of the future. At those times, we sense that”everything is possible” and we are filled with an inner joy thatlifts us above any feelings of inferiority or inadequacy. We seem to “forgetwho we are” until a friend or relative “brings us back down to earth”and we fall back into the consciousness of our own “human”limitations.
What is Normal?
These “human” limitations are not “normal human” but “sub-normalhuman”. They are the impaired minds, unbalanced emotions and weakened willswhich have deteriorated under the pressure of our attempt to live in dependenceon the material world rather than God himself. This fearful, anxious state hasbecome our “normal”, and the only way we can escape from theoppression of the world is by blotting out our consciousness of it through drugsor distraction. Even these deadly substitutes to which we have resorted point tothe exhilaration and excitement we were meant to have in our normal day-to-daylife on earth. “Salvation” is God miraculously exchanging our presentlimited and limiting existence for the limitless existence he gave us originallyin his son Christ.
How Can You Become Normal?
How can you yourself be changed from what you are into what you were meantto be? Not by our self-help methods of long-drawn-out struggle and repeatedfailure, but by believing all that we’ve just shared in these paragraphs–and byadjusting our thinking and our acting to the fact that we are now part of theCreator’s superhuman son, Christ Jesus. He has an unlived, unrepeatable lifethat he wishes us to live for him — and that he wishes to live through us sothat he can complete the creation of the universe. The moment we begin to graspthis and live accordingly, that same moment reality begins to break in upon us.The Christ of God infuses thoughts into our minds that we can then follow. Wehave the power now to follow them (though we can still use our free-will toreject them). As we start to follow the impressions he makes upon our minds eventhough they may seem foolish to our friends, the normal life of God replaces theso-called “normal” life we have been living. How does this work out inpractical living? Let’s now begin to share the ways it affects our humanabilities. But the best way for you to know is to begin believing all this now.
Why Am I So Confused?
One reason is that many of us don’t understand the make-up of our own personalities. Many of us take Darwin more literally than he took himself. He never thought that evolution was the explanation of creation — his “Origin of Species” ends like this: “There is a grandeur in this view of life with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.”
We think he saw us as simply more complex animals consisting of body and instincts, but it’s obvious from his own conclusion to his historic thesis that he saw us as the creation of a superior intelligent being. However, so strong has been the influence of this view of Darwinism that we have come to treat ourselves as animals that walk on two feet. We think of ourselves as having a physical body like other animals so we experience hunger and tiredness like them. We seem to have the same instincts for self-preservation and self-gratification though our mental and emotional powers appear at times to be somewhat more refined. But generally we treat ourselves and others as if we consist of these two levels of lif — he physical and the mental/emotional.
This is why we’re confused and can’t understand ourselves. It’s why we seem to contradict ourselves about questions of conscience. From one angle we say we show fear of other’s opinion of us when we abstain from some behaviour because of peer pressure, yet from another angle we hold it’s important to consider one’s peers and what they think. In one sense we feel we should be free to sleep with anyone, but in another sense we feel that long-term commitment is vital for absolute intimacy. Again and again we human beings find that we seem to be more than just animals with refined instincts. We appear to have another side to our personalities that animals don’t have to trouble with. But we don’t know what it is, so we struggle on with this inadequate working-model of our personalities.
Three Levels of Life
That remarkable collection of historical books that has given us humans the best empirical evidence of the Creator of the universe presents a different picture of our personalities. Paul, who was a student of Jesus Christ’s, wrote about it to the people in Thessalonica: in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, he wishes “may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless”. This is the view also of his teacher Jesus, who is the only human that speaks, acts, and overcomes death as you would expect the Son of God to do. He says we aren’t just animals with two levels of life — body and instincts. He makes it clear that we exist on three levels — spirit, soul, and body.
The body consists of our physical powers and our five senses. It’s the medium through which we relate to the physical world. It has needs and experiences hunger, thirst, and tiredness. It has to be clothed and given food, water, rest, and exercise, but it is only pert of us.
The soul consists of the psychological part of our beings. The Greek word for soul is “psuche” and the word psychology comes from two Greek words — “psuche” and ‘logos”, meaning the knowledge of the soul. It includes our minds, emotions, and our wills. But even the soul, though more inward than the body, is only a part of us. Whereas the body is the world-conscious part, the soul is the self-conscious part. We are able to judge ourselves and examine ourselves through the introspection of our minds while we can feel shyness when we are hyperconscious of ourselves.
The spirit is the innermost part of our beings. It is the medium through which we know and communicate with our Creator. It’s the real “you”. During the Second World War we would talk about the “spirit” of Churchill: we meant the very essence of the man — what he was in himself. Your spirit is the real you.
Superhuman life — that life that enables humans to rise above normal human limitations — affects each of these three levels of existence. Actually it depends on every level operating in balance and harmony with the other two.
If the body dominates, then the life becomes more animalish. Supply or lack of food, shelter, and clothing are the most important considerations. Probably most people exist on this level and therefore rarely rise above the level of the animals. When they’re tired they’re unbearable, when they’ve just had a good meal or a good drink they are beaming. If they’re cold, they’re irritable and discontented. If the morning is bright, sunny, and Friday, they’re upbeat; if it’s wet, cold, and Monday, they’re miserable.
In a few like Einstein or Plato, the soul seems to rule the body. Though this is always limited by the fact that the close connection between them often means the body affects the soul. So the mind often has trouble concentrating if the body is tired. Similarly, the emotions of fear can tighten the stomach muscles and cause intestinal problems.
Jesus of Nazareth laid chief emphasis on the spirit as being the level of life that distinguished man most clearly from the animals. The spirit is the life that is part of the creator himself. It has the same capabilities as his own nature, though in finite form, and enables us to communicate and share his powers.
Our Personality — Spirit, Soul and Body
How does this way of looking at ourselves help us to understand and solve some of our contemporary problems? Let’s look at that in the next article.
The Person who made us humans explained very clearly down through history that we operated on three levels of life-not two! Even in the simple outline of our creation which He presented to mankind in its childhood at the beginning of the world, he showed Moses that He made man out of the dust of the earth, breathed into him life, and men became a living soul. Today we can easily see the physical body which returns to dust at death; we talk a lot about the psychological which owes its name to the Greek word for “soul”-psuche; but we don’t know what to make of the spiritual which owes its name to the Hebrew word for the “breath” of God. Those of us who see life as just soul and body think of our personalities as a dichotomy while those of us who see life as spirit, soul, and body think of them as a trichotomy.
The Problems of Dichotomy
Because so many of us today think of ourselves as having only physical and psychological life, we end up trying to solve human problems with animal answers. Most of our serious human difficulties originate in the spiritual part of our natures though they may exhibit physical or psychological symptoms.
So one of the most common problems in today’s “mass-production” society is self-esteem. This is really a problem of the spirit and our lack of God’s approval, but we try to solve it as if we were only physical and psychological organisms. The result is self-adulation groups or achievement-praise techniques which leave us feeling as inferior as ever.
It’s the same with today’s drug problem: we have concluded rightly that human happiness is a combination of serenity and excitement so we are now trying to devise harmless drugs which will provide these “highs”. What we really need is the enlargement of spirit that comes from a sense of the Infinite Creator within us, but we think we simply need to stimulate the emotions through injecting drugs into the body. The result is physical and emotional dependency instead of ecstasy.
Most of our marriage problems are due to the fact that we expect from our partner the security, esteem, and happiness we should get from God. The result is that we put superhuman demands on our husbands and wives, expecting them to supply the reassurance and security, the emotional and physical satisfaction that can come only from a balanced life under the Creator of the world. So marriage has become almost unbearable for the majority of people in the latter half of the 20th century.
The Psychoanalyst’s Couch
You know the problems you face if you have run out of petrol in your car but don’t realize it. You check the battery, the plugs, the timing, the alternator, the starting motor, the distributor, the coil, the carburettor, the fuel pump, the fuel lines etc.,etc., ad infinitum. You may improve the car as you replace each of these, but the time and money and final futility of it all wears you and the mechanic out. This is what we do with our psychoanalysts. They provide a legitimate service at times when they deal with disordered souls or psyches–minds and emotions. But we usually take the problems that stem from lack of the right fuel in our spirits. Our psychological problems are only symptoms of a deeper spiritual deprivation, but we spend hours on the psychoanalyst’s couch trying to motivate wheels, gears, and crankshafts that will never work smoothly until the underlying ”fuel problem is solved.
Dichotomy or Trichotomy?
So, because we assume that all our personal life can be explained in terms of two kinds of existence — physical and psychological — we face myriad problems that are never solved. Those of us who are repelled by church never consider the possibility that we have spirits, while those of us in church usually run to the psychiatrist because we think the psychological and the spiritual are the same. Meanwhile, all of us suffer lives that are basically the result of the spirit-world that sustains and pervades the world in which we live. Since we don’t understand what our spirit is or what it does, we wander through life burdened with various insoluble problems that will yield to no treatment we or others can devise. How does our spirit work? What does it do? How is it related to our souls — our minds, emotions, and wills? And how do these levels of consciousness relate to our bodies?
Let’s begin by looking at our spirits in the next article.
by Ernest o’Neill
How Were You Made?
One of the shortest explanations is given in the book that has the best historical and the sublimest spiritual claim to express reality. The Bible explains that our creator “formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul”. This sentence is found in the first book of the Bible – Genesis – chapter 2, verse 7. It contradicts the view of most of us today because it states that we are made up of three different kinds of life, not just two!
Most of us think of ourselves as body and soul, inside and outside, mental and physical. But the creator made us with three elements – not two. He took earth and made our bodies, breathed into us his breath (Hebrew word ‘ruah’, meaning ‘spirit’), and these two elements combined to produce a riving ‘soul’. Today we all provide for the body with exercise, diet, clothes, and rest. We also provide for the soul (Greek word ‘psuche’) or the psychological part of us with education, entertainment, psychoanalysis, and group therapy. But even churches talk about the ‘spirit’ part of us as if it were synonymous with ‘soul’. The result is that most human beings live on the level of either their bodies or their mental faculties. But they go no deeper than that. The result is the widespread dissatisfaction with personal life that characterizes modern society.
The Banalities of Dichotomy
This dual concept of human nature produces life that is dull, flat, and trite — filled with the deadness that the poet, T.S. Eliot, describes-
- “We are the hollow men
- We are the stuffed men
- Leaning together
- Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
- Our dried voices, when
- We whisper together
- Are quiet and meaningless
- As wind in dry grass
- Or rats’ feet over broken glass
- In our dry cellar.”
If everything can be attributed to the effects of the physical world on the mental and emotional or viceversa, then such a closed system leads inexorably to the limp, stuffed scarecrows that react but never act. The American psychologist, Skinner, shocked us all by saying we are merely predetermined robots that are controlled by our heredity and environment. When you consider that most of us spend at least four hours a day absorbing, imitating, and reacting to what we see on the TV screen, such a shallow view of human nature may seem justified. Many people today have a great sense of inner emptiness and meaninglessness. We often feel a piece of us is missing. We sense there must be more to life than this.
We are revulsed when we are treated as just physical and mental animals. When we feel restless and are advised to change our jobs, we suspect that the restlessness is caused by something deeper than boredom with work. Mood altering drugs that provide emotional ‘ups or downs’ seem to treat us as less than we are. Though job satisfaction and security together with interesting colleagues and vacations are appreciated, we still feel there is something more to us than mental and physical fulfillment.
Is There Anyone at Home?
Sometimes, indeed, as we react to yet another set of demands upon our time, we wonder if we are anything more than a punch-ball that is pummeled by people and circumstances. As we smile wanly to please yet another “significant other” in our lives we feel there must be more to being “me” than just the sum-total of my physical and mental responses. Frequently we find something within us desperately wanting its own time and its own space to do whatever it wants for a change. Usually, however, such inner urgings end up in social or professional disaster. Yet we still feel there is some part of us that is almost dead despite the fact that is should be alive and active. At times we look into others’ glazed eyes as they probably look into ours and wonder “is there anyone at home?”
That’s the part of us that the creator breathed into us when he infused his spirit or ‘ruah’. That’s ‘you, yourself’ – it’s the very essence of you. Inside your physical and mental equipment (which you have in common with everyone else in the world) is the real ‘you’ – your spirit. As we’ll see next time, this is the part of human nature that is ignored in our contemporary world. Yet without a real respect for it, a human being feels ‘like a blob”. Let’s begin then our “research into this problem of inner space”.
by Ernest ONeill
Today more of us than ever are able to choose what school we attend, what jobs we want, what clothes we wear, what vacations we take, and what we do with our leisure time. But, despite all the mental and emotional satisfaction that results from such improved participation in society, great numbers of us feel a vague lack of fulfilment in life. Deep down in our innermost beings — somewhere that seems beyond simple intellectual and emotional experience — many of us feel there is part of reality we are not even beginning to touch. Though educators, coaches and artists help us to use our minds, bodies and emotions more fully, we are left with a sense that we are not fulfilling the potential we have.
Even those of us who seem successful in our jobs or personal lives sense that life could be more exhilarating or assured than it is. We can understand why others attempt to raise their level of consciousness through drugs or alcohol because we, too, have felt there must be more to life than what we are experiencing. Psychic and spiritualist experiences attract us because they seem to offer the possibility of a higher level of consciousness without the adverse effects of drug or alcohol addiction. Yet we suspect these ‘twilight zone’ phenomena as much as mood-altering drugs because of the imbalance they seem to introduce into the personality.
Something Deeper Than Intellect
What we have been sharing the last few weeks is that there is a level of consciousness within us that is deeper than our minds and emotions. We all touch it from time to time in different ways. Some of us experience it as an unavoidable conviction that we are different from everybody else in the world. Though society barrages us with the notion that we’re all the same, we continue to feel that we are individually different from everybody else. Our minds and emotions may share the same characteristics as those of other people, but somewhere underneath our mental life we feel there’s something that is us ourselves. At times, we are convinced that we will exist even after we die. We can’t explain it, but somehow we feel we’re eternal. Sometimes, we are convinced that we’re being guided in our lives by some power that is more than human. We are surprised at the way things work out or we find a strength rising in us that appears almost superhuman. All of these symptoms are expressions of a deeper part of us that is the real ‘you’, the real ‘me’.
What Is It?
Its our very essence-the truly individual part of our natures. The son of the Supreme Being who made the universe, Jesus of Nazareth, explained it the same way as Moses did in the first book of the Bible. Paul, one of Jesus’ followers, put it like this in his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 2, verse 11: “For what person knows a man’s thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him?” They all implied that there is part of you that is deeper than your thoughts it is able to judge the integrity of your thoughts because it has higher power than your mind. Indeed, it has the ability to communicate with the Creator who made you. Your mind and emotions (your psychological apparatus) make you conscious of yourself while your body makes you conscious of the world outside. But your spirit makes you conscious of the life beyond this physical universe.
Wordsworth described the kind of experience some of us have had of our spirits when sitting beside a mountain-lake in the evening:
- “And I have felt
- A presence that disturbs me
- with the joy
- Of elevated thoughts;
- a sense sublime
- Of something far more deeply interfused,
- Whose dwelling is the light of
- setting suns,
- And the round ocean
- and the living air,
- And the blue sky,
- and in the mind of man.”
In moments like this, we seem to be in touch with some life that lies behind and underneath the thing we perceive through our five senses. There seems to exist in this reality a deeper satisfaction or interaction with the very basis of the universe than we find in everyday experience.
These moments are so rare that ordinary humans like us have come to regard them as aberration, rather than normal. But the fact is that we were made to live at this level of reality all the time. But we can’t sit by lakes every day! So what is this ‘spirit’ part of us? And how do w (as they say today) ‘get in touch with ourselves’? Let’s talk about this in the next article.
by Ernest ONeill
Do you feel that you have experiences and thoughts that no one else has? Do you wonder at times how others live without the sense of uniqueness that you have? Do you feel glad at times that you aren’t like others but are in fact as different as you are? Your mind and your emotions and your physical appearance may be like some other people’s, but inside you-in the very depths of your being–you know you’re unique and different from everyone else that has ever lived in the world. Why is this? And what part of you senses this?
Do you ever feel a sense of missing something in life? Have you ever thought that somehow you’re not quite hitting the whole point of life dead-on? Even though you may be quite successful in your career and family life, have you ever felt that you’re not experiencing the full exhilaration that should characterise life on the earth? Do you ever sense there’s a deeper peace or a more exciting sense of exaltation than you’ve experienced thus far? Why do you sense that you are somehow falling short? What part of you gives this sense of missing something?
As the years pass, do you ever feel that you were not made to die? Are there not moments when you think that the unique conviction of selfhood and personal existence is so complex that it must continue forever? When you think of some of your personal relationships and some of the people that are dear to you, have you ever reflected that they must surely continue to exist even after they die? That it would be an thinkable shame for them simply to cease to exist? What part of you has this sense of eternity?
Have you ever sat by a lake or the ocean on a summer afternoon and felt as if you could touch some spirit that lies behind the beauty of the scene that surrounds you? Have you been overwhelmed by the beauty of a sunset or a painting or a piece of music so that you seemed to be piercing to the very heart of the universe and touching the deep spirit that lies back of everything? What part of you perceives this kind of glimpse of reality?
Spirit and Soul
The Bible, which is that collection of history books that best recounts the events in which the Creator of the universe has revealed himself to us humans, calls this part of us — our spirits. God makes a distinction between the human spirit and the human soul. In Hebrews 4:12, the writer is inspired by God to state “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit”. The term “soul” is used to express the psychological parts of our personality like emotions and mind and will. For instance, 1 Samuel 18:1 describes that “when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul”. So, soul means not only personality but the emotions of the personality. The Greek word for “soul” points to the same truth etymologically: it is transliterated “psyche” which is obviously part of our English fish word “psychological”.
But “spirit” is a deeper part of us than “soul” and is distinguished from soul by our Maker. Moreover, “spirit” is regarded by Him as a part of us that can perceive things that neither our physical nor our psychological senses are capable of perceiving. Thus Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 2:9 “what no eye has seen nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him, God has revealed to us through the Spirit…because they are spiritually discerned”. Our Creator states through Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:17 that “he who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him”. In other words, it is our spirit that senses God and is able to communicate with Him.
Function of the Spirit
It is our spirit that senses this lack of wholeness or completeness in our lives. Usually it is in our spirits that we find the lack of infinite exhilaration that we are meant to find in personal oneness with our Maker. On the other hand, it’s through your spirit that you sense at times what Wordsworth described when he said “and I have felt a presence that disturbs me with the joy of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime of something far more deeply interfused whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, and the round ocean and the living air”. However, Wordsworth also described our modern state when he said “the world is too much with us, late and soon, getting and spending we lay waste our days-little we see in nature that is ours; we have given our hearts away, a sordid boon”. How do we get in touch with our spirits which seem so dead? Let’s discuss this next time.
by Ernest ONeill
Do you ever feel at times that you’re just a consumer statistic, a head to be counted or taxed, another bundle of learned responses and programmed behaviour? More of us than ever before feel we’re becoming objects to be manipulated rather than free human personalities with our own individual wills. As we examine why we do the things we do, we wonder at times if there’s any individuality left in us. So much of the way we eat and work and play seems be influenced by what we see on TV or read in magazines that we seem to have lost our real self in all the pressures.
Our Inner Depths
This explains why we have difficulties with self-esteem and self-worth. We seem to be nonentities with no individual life of our own. Yet something deep down inside us keeps making us feel we are unique and we will continue to exist after this earthly life ends. But, though this inner part of us which the creator calls our ‘spirit’ appears to be very weak – almost dead, yet we feel it’s the real us. We wish it could grow stronger or come alive so that we could set our own individual direction in life for many of us feel at times that we’re here to do something special that no one else can do. But when we look at the pettiness and unimportance of our lives, we are easily laughed out of this as sheer egotism. Still, at certain moments, when we’re watching a movie or sitting quietly by a stream, we sense somewhere deep-down inside that somebody somewhere up there knows we’re here and has a reason for putting us here.
Trying to Get in Truth
This ‘spirit’ part of us is the deepest part of our personalities deeper than our feelings or our thoughts – our Maker showed certain people who wrote the Bible that this is the part of us that is conscious of Him. In most of us its almosr dead — we’re like a tone-deaf person who just can’t hear the difference between two notes of music. We sense there’s something there, but we can’t quite make it out. We’re drawn to the occult and are curious about unidentified flying objects; if religion were less materialistic we’d be attracted to that also, because somehow we suspect its possible to develop our spirits. We see how we can strengthen our bodies through sports and strengthen our minds through study, so surely it should be possible to strengthen our spirits. However, though you have read volumes on how to improve yourself, get in touch with your inner feelings, develop your inner resources through transcendental meditation, or enter cosmic consciousness through communion with nature and the spirit of the universe, you find things are still as vague as ever in this part of your life.
The Psychic World
What often happens to us is that our spirits are so weak and comatose that we mistake soul experiences for spirit experiences. In other words, soulical thoughts and feelings from the psychological parts of our beings seem to our weak spiritual eyes to be from the spirit. Thus, we become involved in the ‘world soul’ (which in its lighter side you touch when the crowd at a football game roars in excitement) and are drawn towards the psychic realm where and fortune-tellers live. But this is not the realm of the spirit though frequently comes under the influence of the deceiving spirits which Jesus described as the ‘elemental spirits of the universe’. However, it is easy to waste decades of your life exploring dangerous substitutes for real spiritual life. The reason is that we feel shallow. We feel there is a deeper depth to life than we have plumbed, and we are so hungry that we are willing to do anything to find it.
This is why so many of us end up experimenting with consciousness-raising drugs. We will try anything to intensify our experience of life in order to get out of it the juice that we think has to be there. Others of us become drug-addicts just to blot out the pain of the utter pointlessness of this frustrating mental and emotional existence. Whatever our predicament is, all of us know that there is something deeper in life than what we have experienced up to now. And we believe it has something to do with this part of us that senses we’re unique and that we’re here to do or be something that no one else can do or be. But why we’re in this position – we do not know. And how do you get out of it – we do not know. How did we end up in such a crippled state? How is it that the deepest part of our beings seems to be dead? Is there any way to bring it alive again? Let’s talk further about this in the next article.
by Ernest ONeill
Wordsworth wrote a poem in which he said:
- ‘Heaven lies about us
- in our infancy!
- Shades of the prison-house
- begin to close
- Upon the growing boy,
- But he beholds the light,
- and whence it flows,
- He sees it in his joy;
- At length the man perceives it
- die away,
- And fade into the light
- of common day.’
Have you ever felt something like that? That you were more alive in some ways when you were young than you have been since? It’s customary to dismiss this with the grey, adult comments that ‘we all have to grow up someday and come to grip with the world’. But have you ever wondered ‘do we’? Is it not possible to retain that sense of the boundless possibilities of life and the excitement of the future? Can one not still sense the aliveness of the invisible world behind a spring morning? Can we not still soar in our thoughts and imaginations? Why do ‘shades of the prison-house begin to close upon the growing boy”?
When Did Life Close In?
Most of us trace it to the time when we realized that our parents would not take care of us forever. We began to sense that we would have to someday provide for ourselves. We’d have to work at some job that would bring enough money to buy the food and clothes that we needed. Around that time, life ceased to be quite as much fun as it had been. We felt less free to pursue the things we enjoyed doing and we became more interested in the occupations that would bring in the necessary money. About that time, too, we saw that everybody didn’t think as much of us as our parents, so we came under the burden of making others see that we were important. Somehow, life was never as free again! What happened to us?
The truth is that our parents provided a human version of what our Maker really is. They gave us a great sense of security – we worried little about our next meal when we were five: Mum usually provided it on time. We had little concern about our importance because Dad seemed to think the world of us. So there seemed to rise from within us a joy in life that was spontaneous. Everything wasn’t perfect: many of us hadnt a lot of clothes – some of us were hungry at times – but our hearts were usually light, and life was a simple round of playing with our friends and spending evenings at home with our parents. In this atmosphere we had fun realizing that there was within us an individual life and spirit that seemed to rise with the singing of the birds on a spring morning. Our minds and emotions were alive, but they seemed to be simply reflections of this free spirit within us. We used our minds to learn the alphabet and were aware of our emotions when our grandmother died, but generally there seemed to be such a living spirit of life inside us that we were not very conscious of any difference between our souls (our minds and emotions) and our spirits inside.
For many of us, the joyous freedom of life that seemed to characterize our apparently innocent spirits appeared to fade when we started school. For some of us it happened later, but the great educators like Pestalozzi and Montessori imply that education has often spoiled rather than made adults. The word ‘education’ comes from two Latin words ‘e’ or ‘ex’ plus ‘duco’ meaning to lead out. Even pre-Christian educators believed that some unique life and purpose existed in each individual and that education should lead that out to fulfil its potential. This ‘spirit’ of life’ inside each person was the clue to their existence and fulfilment
But society did not seem to develop that way. It became preoccupied with the material products of the world and treasured especially the merchants and leaders that could extract and amass its gold and copper, its fruits and grains. Such people grew in influence and importance while human spirits that could paint or sing or heal or comfort were regarded as less valuable. As the world lost consciousness of its precarious position as a sphere spinning through limitless space with no visible means of support, the eyes of humanity, turned increasingly from contemplation of the infinite to preoccupation with the finite. Schools obeyed society’s dictates and began to concentrate on teaching children to use their minds and emotions to promote their success in society rather than express the unique spirit within them.
Thus, most of us found school cramped rather than freed the spirit of joyful freedom inside us. Some of us (who found our homes repressive) found school initially stirred this individual spirit into activity, but eventually this fragile life-spirit faded into the background as we concentrated on training our minds and emotions to meet the challenge of the acquisitive hedonism that ruled our society.
Elephant Sitting on a Mouse
That’s what it has seemed like ever since. Our heavy, over-developed souls (our minds and emotions) seem to have squashed our spirits out of existence. Now and again we may have memories of the way we used to feel as five-year-olds, but generally we have little spontaneous joy from inside anymore. We live lives of quiet desperation dominated by mental equipment that is controlled by society. Can anything be done about a dead spirit? Let’s examine this in the next article.
by Ernest ONeill
The Light Inside Has Gone Out
Many of us feel that we’ve lost something that we used to have. When we were children we seemed to have a spontaneous, carefree delight in living. But that has been crushed by the adult responsibilities of making a living and succeeding in our careers. We comfort each other by knowing comments about the need to grow up and face the real world, but we often look at little children playing in a sand-pit and wish for the days when we were as happy and free.
Part of the child’s free joy comes from the fact that he didn’t have to provide the next meal or work out where he was going to sleep: his parents did all that. He knew they loved him and provided for him, so he could simply be himself. So he became conscious of a whole life inside that was different from everyone else – and he knew no better than to follow the intuitions of that life. That life is called by Jesus of Nazareth ‘spirit’ – and that is what has died in all of us.
We run our lives now by bodily needs and our soul needs – our minds and emotions; our spirits are so shrunken that we cannot contact them at all. Yet your spirit is the part of you that can communicate with the Creator who made you, but it cannot come alive because you no longer trust Him the way you used to trust your parents. You are driven by the same fears about employment and frustration about happiness as everyone else, so there is little rest deep inside you. Can you do anything about this deadness inside?
The Stirrings of Life Inside
The deadness of your spirit inside is a direct result of the fact that you never progressed from trust in your father and mother to trust in your real Father who made you. Instead, you declined into ‘shifting’ for yourself. However much you try to meet your own needs, you repeatedly bump your shins against reality – you’re a creature – not a creator. So, though you can deal with some things like getting food, there are other things like cancer that you cannot deal with. So you live a lie! You pretend your are your creator, but the facts of reality constantly prove you’re not.
The first step is to ‘waken up to reality See that you are a ‘made’ being rather than a ‘self-made’ being. Start thinking of the Creator as real in other wards, start believing in Him. You’re still a long way from coming alive inside, but at least you’ve started! As you begin to be interested in why He has put you here and what He’s thinking, your spirit inside will be touched by God Himself. You will probably be conscious of a new sense of concern about what God thinks about things you do. This is really the first part of your spirit that comes alive – your conscience.
You may say that you’ve had a very lively conscience all your life, but what youve probably listened to is the standards of behaviour your mind has absorbed from your upbringing These standards combine with desire for man’s approval, fear of their condemnation, and your own ambition to succeed – this potent combination masquerades as ‘conscience for most of us. But, apart from the God-given urge to live up to the highest you know, this ‘soulish’ moral obligation has little to do with the stirring that you are now sensing.
Your real conscience is part of your spirit, the deepest part of you. It is a natural consciousness of the law in your heart which was written there when you were created. This is mentioned by Paul in verse 15 of the second chapter of his letter to the Romans. Our whole nature is made by God to depend on Him and express Him; our conscience attests to that – even against our own will. When you start trying to treat God as real, your spirit affirms the rightness of that by sensitising you to the reality that your Creator has plans and intentions for you today.
Different from Social Mores
Your conscience (conscio in Latin, suneidesis in Greek) is consciousness of God – of His will and pleasure. It is far higher than the social mores that allows cannibals to eat people or Mafia hit-men to regard murder as just business. That’s why your response to this deeper internal consciousness enables you to touch (perhaps for the first time in years) the spiritual life that is related to God.
It is also the reason why you must see your response as an intensely individualistic and personal one. You cannot allow it to decline into a search for other’s opinions and advice about what is right to do or what is wrong. Conscience is not concerned primarily with moral right and wrong, it is concerned with what is keeping you from God. This is why your first steps towards aliveness inside mean your willing to do or say or adjust your behaviour according to the fragile stirrings of conscience within. As you do this, your spirit hesitatingly gropes towards life.
by Ernest ONeill
Most of us feel deep within us that we know what we ought to do. Even if we have lived amoral lives for many years, we still feel stirrings within us that urge us to do what we know is right. Although we try to dismiss these feelings as childish inhibitions or a throwback to Victoriana, we find they continue to persist through the years. They seem to come from the same instinctive part of us that makes us feel we were made to live forever. It’s the same part of us that makes us feel we’re unique and that there’s some special purpose for our existence. It’s the part of the personality that is called ‘spirit’ by Jesus of Nazareth.
Spirit – Soul – Body
Through our bodies and our five physical senses, we are able to communicate with the world of things and people. Through our souls we can use our mental and emotional faculties to communicate with our selves. But our spirits are capable of taking us beyond both these realms — they enable us to communicate with the life from which we all came – the life of the Supreme Being that created the universe. There are several capacities our spirits possess, but this first one that we’re discussing is the one that seems most alive. Because of disuse and abuse of our Creator, our spirits seem to be incapable of contacting Him, but our consciences still appear to retain a memory of His image within us. This expresses itself first as vague yearning within us for our roots.
The Essence of Conscience
Paul put it like this when he was speaking in Athens in the first century. God “made from one every nation of men to live on the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us, for ‘in him we live and move and have our being; as even one of your poets has said For we are indeed his offspring (Acts 17:26-28). All of us – at some time or another – sense this homing instinct within that makes us feel we were made for some purpose beyond the bounds of this physical life. This sense of ought – this feeling that we know something higher and should live up to the best that we know is the essence of conscience. It belongs to the highest part of our personalities the spirit part that relates us to the world of God above us.
Memory of What Has Been
Without this urge to live up to the best that we know, moral standards would have no influence in our society. But conscience is more than an urge to live up to the highest we know. For besides this sense of obligation we seem to have some memory of what we are meant to be. Though races may differ about whether unselfishness should be expressed to your family or your neighbours or everyone in the world, nobody thinks it’s right to be selfish. Similarly, no one thinks it’s right to be a coward in battle or to do something bad to a friend. In other words, conscience seems to retain some vague memory the image of God in which we were originally made.
This is what Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome in 57 a.d. – “When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus” (Romans 2:14-16). Probably you yourself are surprised at feelings that you have about me shortness of life being inappropriate to the intricate personality you have. Perhaps youve also wondered at times where you get the desire to bring things into order: even if some of us can trace it to our parents, still we wonder where the first human being got it. We appear to have within us a vision, however blurred, of what we were made for. Conscience preserves a memory of God’s image within us.
Our Personal Guidance-System
This, then, is a vital gyro-compass that each of us has. Whatever our position, whatever forces govern us, however far we may have strayed from our origins, there is within each of us a unique memory of what the Creator intended us to be. This is different for each of us because each of us is unique. Our conscience judges us – or urges us according to what God wants us to do next. At times, these motivations may be stricter than societys mores or religion’s laws; at other times, they may be broader, but the first step to our own spiritual rebirth is immediate, honest, practical response to our conscience.
by Ernest ONeill
We’re talking about a gyro-compass that each of us has within us. However corrupt you may have become through the years, this compass continues to register the direction for which you were originally created. It is your maker’s stamp of origin — a personal homing device that constantly exerts an inner pull upon you throughout your life. Conscience is partly an inner consciousness or knowledge of your creator and his intentions for you. It mirrors his nature and the beings that he treasures.
Why Do Consciences Differ?
However, as we human beings have lived independent of God’s wishes through the centuries, that mysterious part of our personalities — our spirits –has atrophied. Though your spirit still gives you a sense that there must be a god, that you are unique, and that you are not made to go out like a light, it has sunk into a kind of coma or death-like sleep. The conscience-part of our spirits is the part that is more alive than the rest: God has graciously maintained this consciousness of his wishes so that we may find our way back to Him if we choose.
Nevertheless, most of us have relegated conscience to a secondary position and have lived “following the desires of body and mind” (Ephesians 2:3). Even though our conscience continues to urge us to live up to the best that we know, we have diluted that “best” with the corrupted moral standards of our minds. Although the nature of our creator is unselfish and our conscience urges us towards unselfishness to all, our corrupted minds dilute such a universal beneficence to unselfishness to our family or our tribe or our nation. This slavery to mental standards rather than conscience reaches an extreme form when cannibals appear to experience no guilt when they eat people. The same kind of deterioration is evident in organised crime where killing is excused as “just business”.
The Searing of Conscience
It’s important, however, to see that conscience is part of the indestructible image of God within us. Along with the commission and urge to “subdue the world” and exercise authority over chaos, conscience continues to bleep its signals to our consciousness even if they seem like the weakening rays from a dying star. By repeatedly ignoring conscience, we can “sear” it (1 Timothy 4:2) so that its sensitivity grows less and less, but conscience itself persists in existence through the creator’s activity. However seared it becomes, it can still be found deep within you as long as you live on the earth.
Conscience versus Good Works
If you want to find your way back to God — if you want to find out why you personally are here — then the first step is to attend to the signals your conscience is sending. These will differ from the signals you receive through your mind
and memory. Mental signals are full of men’s methods and standards (Colossians 2:16-23) whereas your conscience attests to your maker’s personal plans for you. Usually you have to distinguish the guidance of your conscience from its seared corruptions and your mind’s moral and “self-improvement” ideas. This requires faith that God can enable you to discern the directives of your conscience (Hebrews 9:14). But it also requires your faith in his method of sensitising your seared conscience!
As your conscience belongs to that mysterious part of your personality called your “spirit”, it’s obvious that its correction can be made only by your maker’s own spirit. This is what Jesus of Nazareth promised his disciples in John 16:7,8 – “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgement.”
If you make an honest attempt to listen to your conscience rather than people, God’s own Spirit will begin to work with you to distinguish and strengthen your conscience’s registration of God’s wishes. As you do this, two further great factors will be brought into play to move you into dynamic, fresh life again. We’ll deal with these in the next article.
by Ernest ONeill
When God is mentioned, most people today feel nothing. The whole idea seems something that is beyond our ability to conceive. We just cannot get hold of anything beyond the vague associations of archbishops, church, and religion. It seems as if part of us is missing – the part that can respond to this idea of God.
That’s exactly what Jesus of Nazareth taught students like Paul of Tarsus – the part of us that can relate to God is dead. He referred to this part as our ‘spirit’. Through years and years of indifference to our Creator, we have lost a vital sensitivity so that we are now cut off from our own God.
Are our spirits absolutely dead? No. Part of them seems to retain some life. Our conscience holds on to some memory of what life was meant to be. That’s why we feel at times that we were put here for some reason or that we werent meant to just die and disappear as if we’d never been. Our conscience keeps reminding us of the way things were meant to be. Conscience is God’s will written in our hearts. We reject it we rationalise it – we try to dilute it, but right throughout lives, conscience keeps on making us feel guilty when we’re selfish or cowardly or irresponsible.
Even the worst of us who say we’ll stop at nothing, have certain things that we will not do. All of us draw the line somewhere with someone. Conscience is the part of our inner spirit that is more alive than any other part. It’s the one part of us that has more in common with superhuman life beyond this earth than it has with us. It’s the element inside us that is closest to a ‘visitor from outer space’.
How to Find God
That’s why the first step towards finding God in your life is to respond to your conscience. If it suggests that you are unique and you are known by the Creator of the universe, then respond to that by action – or words or thoughts. Think up to him your acknowledgement of his existence – and your thanks for him thinking you up. If it occurs to you that you seem made to exist longer than death, then whisper that to him privately. These are vital first steps you’re taking towards reality. ‘Without faith it is impossible to please God’ – these first steps are faith even if they’re purely inward at this point.
If you have become troubled about some behaviour you engage in, then express that to God: let him do what he wants with it. But you be honest with your conscience – don’t suppress it or sear it by ignoring it – respond to it. These steps of inner integrity are an acknowledgement that you recognise there is a deeper part of you that reflects your Makers opinion. As soon as you make these tentative moves, you begin to wish for a clearer picture of what God is like and what He wants you to do in your life.
The fact is that God has spoken to many people like ourselves through the centuries of the world’s history. But to certain men and women He has spoken not only about themselves but about Himself and His plans for the world and the universe. Through the years, these words of His came to be respected and trusted as directions that He meant all people to observe and practice. When the unique human being, Jesus of Nazareth, lived and died and lived again in the first century, He affirmed that these words (of the Old Testament) had really come from His Father, our God. So, when you begin to want clearer direction about what God is thinking, you can find it in both the Old Testament and the New Testament (which recounts Jesus’ own life and teachings).
This ‘Word of God’ brings clarity to the hints your conscience gives you. To a person who truly wants to know what God wants – His Word brings life to the conscience. Something echoes inside you when you read it. You sense it is true – and your conscience, in turn, seems to stir with life. You feel as if your conscience is awakening from a long, deep sleep.
An Act of Will
Once you start to read the Bible to find out what God wants for you, you see that you have been living in a dream world. You’re not on your own – you have a loving Father. You can’t do just what you want – because He made you to do certain things and be a special person that only you can do and be. So, very quickly you see that you have to change. It becomes obvious that you have to change your mind about a lot of things – this is what God calls ‘repentance’ – meta-noia in Greek – turning or changing your mind.
Of course, when you change your mind about your right to steal or be angry, or resentful, you automatically have to change your behaviour in order to retain sanity and integrity. As you exercise your will to start doing the things that God shows you, His Spirit infuses light into your conscience and your inner spirit slowly stirs into life. Let’s talk more in the next article about what follows.
by Ernest ONeill
What do you think God wants you to do? Most people today have absolutely no idea. Indeed, most of us regard the question as meaningless. Most of us believe in God because such belief is the only reasonable way to account for the origin of the universe (or the origin of whatever made the big bang or single cell amoeba). But we have no idea which of our five senses we would use to find out what God thinks. This is because none of the five senses can perceive God – He is spirit – invisible like wind. And the part of us that can perceive Him – our spirit – has become so insensitive through neglect that it is virtually dead. This is why we blank out if anyone asks us what God thinks we should do.
But your spirit is not quite dead. Part of it retains some memory of what the Creator is like. It’s the part we call ‘conscience’. It’s the source of those vague feelings we have at times that we have some purpose to fulfil – or that we aren’t made to simply cease to exist after death. When we respond to these urgings, God’s spirit is able to move towards us. He cannot do anything until we respond because He is committed to preserving our free will. So He is free to communicate with us only after we make an honest response to conscience.
Conscience itself is an urging to live up to the highest we know, and the highest is the mirror of God in our conscience. But many of us, at this point, slip out of our contact with superhuman life and fall into the grip of human standards that we have stored in our minds. We become preoccupied with our parents’ ethical standards or the mores of our social or religious group. This leads often to some religious affiliation or reformation of character. But it does not lead to the regeneration of our spirits and only this brings superhuman life into us.
How do you ‘follow’ your conscience?
Honestly follow the tiny, flickering light that you sense inside. If it suggests to you that there is a God or that someone put you here for a purpose, then think that thought to God. Think up to him your request for further guidance. He has shown His nature and communicated His wishes to other human beings through the centuries: these revelations are recorded in the Bible – pick it up and read a little. If you read it with an honest desire to find out if God is real, His spirit will contact your spirit through the words of the Bible. This will help confirm and strengthen some of the impressions you’ve been receiving from your conscience.
Your conscience is part of your own spirit which has been dead for years: so it is not a perfect reflection of God’s will. The spirit behind the words of the Bible help to correct and adjust the gyro-compass within you. As you begin to respond in thought to the combined guidance of your conscience and the Bible, you soon find that you’re ‘way out of line’ in your life. You quickly see how ‘big-headed’ and how self-willed you are, and this prepares the way for the start of personal dealing with God.
At this point many fall into a mental-game. They are elated by the truths they see about God and then selves and think this insight itself is all that’s needed. So they change their ways of thinking about God and some of the things He seems to want them to do; then they wait for some witness within that God is real. Nothing happens ! This is because God requires us to change the way we’re actually living in the light of His will revealed through our conscience. If we become conscious of indolence, then we must will to stop being lazy. If we become conscious of our tendency to lie or boast, then he requires us to stop our dishonest speech. This is part of ‘repentance’, and this outward change of our behaviour is an essential condition that must be fulfilled before our Creator can bring more life and sensitivity i. our spirits.
As we begin to exercise our wills over our bodies, thoughts, and emotions, God is able to sensitise our spirits enough to begin to realise the crass indifference and contempt we have exhibited to God so far in our lives. The whole meaning of Christ dying in agony on the cross comes home to us as God’s own pain when we plunge swords of greed, anger, and lust into His heart. Then our repentance becomes personal sorrow to God for the pain we have caused him – and an overwhelming desire to stop the pain.
Christ or Us
The strong words of the Bible save us here from maudlin introspection and futile resolutions. ‘The wages of sin is death…if Christ died for all, then all died’. We see at once that we cannot be improved or made better – either we must die or God must die. Then we see that we actually died with Christ and that our Creator has miraculously put an end to our life in His Son, and raised us up as new creations in His resurrection. Immediately we grasp this and apply it to ourselves, God sends ‘the spirit of His Son into us’, and our spirits come alive to God.
This is the new birth – the ‘birth from above’ that Jesus explained in John 3 to Nicodemus. Our spirits then become imbued with the Spirit of God and we begin a living relationship with Christ and His Father. As we’ll see in the next article, the continuation of this communion, as with its initiating, is conditioned by our conscience.
by Ernest O’Neill
Some of us feel that we are bigger than this short life we have here on earth. Something inside us makes us feel we were made to live longer. Somehow it seems such a waste that a complex organism like our brain and body, our emotions and our minds should end in dust. Moreover, deep inside us there seems to be sense of worth or value that corresponds to the reasonable idea that we were made by an Intelligent Being who cares about us. All these ‘feelings’ come from part of our personalities that is deeper than the psychological entities of mind, emotions, and will — these ‘feelings’ or intuitions come from a part of our personality designated in the Bible by the word ‘spirit’.
One way to represent our personality is to think of the body as the outside visible coat which covers the inside psychological functions of mind, emotions, and will — which, in turn, covers the innermost part — the spirit. It looks like this:
You can see that in this diagram, the psychological part is labelled ‘soul’ — from the Greek work ‘psyche’. These levels of our personality can again be designated by certain functions that are performed:
You can see that our spirit, the innermost part of us, has the capacity of conscience, which etymologically and experientially, “knows” or senses reality first-hand -more deeply than the intellect. While the body knows the world through the five senses and the soul knows itself through self-consciousness, the spirit seems to be able to contact the superhuman life of the Creator. Though the spirit is asleep in most of us, the conscience part of our spirits remembers what God’s plan was before we began to ignore Him. So, even the proudest and most godless people still sense they were made for something greater than themselves-and have some value to someone beyond.
What we have been saying during these months is that the Creator permitted us to exercise our free wills to live independent of Him- so that we could see what life was like when our spirits lost consciousness of Him and His love for us. Knowing that this would utterly corrupt our personalities, He pre-destroyed them in His Son’s eternal death-and pre-resurrected them (whole and complete) in His Son’s eternal resurrection. Both of these events were then set forth in time in 29 a.d. in Palestine so that we are now in a position to acknowledge their reality by aligning our minds and wills with them. When we do that, He “sends the Spirit of His Son into our hearts” (the heart of our personalities-the spirit), and our spirits come alive and a whole new relationship with God begins. Our personalities come alive from the inside and a new dynamic is experienced in our daily lives. All of this begins through our responding to these first signals from our consciences.
Following Your Star
The development of superhuman life in you depends on your faithfulness to the inner star of your conscience. Naturally, like the rest of us, you have difficulty distinguishing your conscience (God’s ways planted inside you) from all the obligations and moral standards of your environment. But the development of superhuman life in your spirit is directly proportional to your response to the guidance coming from your conscience, confirmed and strengthened by the revelation of God’s character through history. This is pre-eminently expressed in the inspired record of the Bible. Incredible though it is, God deals with you personally through your conscience. Only as your will is directly responsive to your conscience-and as you use your will to direct your mind and body accordingly-will God continue to strengthen your spirit so that your perception of Him becomes sharper than your perception of the world of people and circumstances.
At times your conscience will seem more liberal than the mores stored in your mind and memory. At other times, your conscience will require you to walk more narrowly than your mind’s received opinions allow. While the constraint of the mind produces legalism, the constraint of the conscience produces Christlike freedom in the spirit. The former produces reformation of character, the latter produces regeneration of spirit.
by Ernest O’Neill
The pivotal point in your personality is the relationship between your conscience and your will.
This is the meeting-point of your spirit and your soul:
If your will is ruled by your conscience, then God is able to infuse your soul with the life that He has imparted to your spirit. But if you consciously reject the laws of God in your conscience, then the flow of that life into your spirit is suspended also. So the key to your entry into and continuance in supernatural life is the positive response of your will to your conscience.
Reformation or Regeneration
It is this obedience of will to conscience that determines whether you initially enter into real regeneration or temporary reformation of character. Many of us experience guilt in our conscience about our independent attitude to God or our indifferent attitude to mankind, but, instead of exercising our will as our conscience direct, we do some other “good” works that are more convenient. Thus we begin some reformation or improvement of our behaviour, but nothing supernatural occurs in our spirits-there is no regeneration.
If, however, you exercise your will to direct your mind’s thoughts and your body’s actions or words in obedience to the pangs of your conscience, then the Creator’s Spirit begins to regenerate your spirit. This can be the beginning of a complete re-orientation of your spirit by the Spirit of Christ if you continue to respond to God’s work in your conscience. Many people do this and are “born from above” so that they become conscious of the whole world of God and His Son and Spirit. But many stop right there!
They fail to see that the conscience and its signals come from a deeper level of their personalities than the ethical standards held by the mind and intellect. So, they begin to “grieve the Spirit” (Ephesians 4:30)- “for the very best reasons”. The standards that the mind holds may mirror what God is communicating to you in your spirit, but they may not! Whether they do or not, the danger is that you will ignore the vital gyro-compass that God has placed in your conscience (enlivened by the Holy Spirit) and will sink into a fleshly, mental life of trying to imitate Christ.
Consequences of Substituting Mind for Conscience
If you exercise your spirit, it grows stronger, and you become more sensitive to the constraint your conscience exercises on your will. These two vital partners coalesce and form the beginnings of a joyful, spontaneous life of Christ within. If, instead, you exercise your mind to settle what God wishes, then you eat of the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” and subtly develop an independent “Christian” life.
In such a life, the will loses its executive position in the soul and body because it lacks the superior guidance of conscience. Volition then gradually succumbs to the thoughts of the mind, the feelings of the emotions (and eventually, therefore, the desires of the body). All liveliness of spirit and guidance from God fades; the formerly “born from above” spirit sinks into inactivity, and the Christian settles into a carnal life governed by the “group” needs and standards.
This is why there are so many boring people who are called Christians! While the Creator feeds constant bright originality into the spirits of those who come alive to Him and His existence, thousands cut Him off by exercising their will according to mental opinions instead of according to their conscience. Consciences are “seared” (I Timothy 4:2) as much by this kind of mental self-righteousness as by vice or crime. The plain reason is that conscience is a supernatural part of your spirit that knows what will melt you supernaturally into God’s life, whereas the mind is a natural part of your soul that is oriented primarily to the world of people and things and circumstances. As Aldous Huxley implied, the mind can defend whatever you direct it to defend-it’s an instrument. The conscience, enlivened by God’s Spirit, is an agent of Christ.
by Ernest O’Neill
Many of us think of religion as morality. We think that “being religious” just means “being good” or “being a moral person”. We slip into this error because we read a Biblical statement like “God whom I serve with a clear conscience” (2 Timothy 1:3), and we identify “conscience” as the faculty that reproved us when we told a lie. We think, therefore, that religion is living with a clear conscience, i.e. living morally. The result of this popular idea of religion has been to produce thousands of boring “moral” people who have none of the daring abandon and exciting initiative of Francis of Assisi or Eric Little. They often express, instead, the death-urge of “Christianity-gone-sour” -the ethical standards without the vital life-urge of Jesus’ Spirit.
Conscience Does Not Care About Goodness
Truthfully-conscience does not draw you simply to what is good or moral in human eyes. Conscience is part of the indestructible image of God in you-it is a “piece of heaven”. It not only urges you to live up to the best that you know-as an Englishman or a cannibal–but it registers God’s own personal concern about your responses to His signals. Our Creator is always-every moment-trying to get through to us. He is constantly endeavouring to alert us to the fact that we are only half-living! The English poet, Auden, described this half-life/half-death in these words:
“In headaches and in worry,
Vaguely life leaks away.”
Night and day, our maker nudges us to see that there is a beautiful life of grace and gladness that begins the moment we believe that He is our loving Father who “feeds the birds of the air” and regards us as “of much more value than them”. Conscience is part of our “spirit”, the faculty through which we can perceive God-it, therefore, makes us aware-or convicts us-when we are not responding to God’s hints. Thus God strives to reveal to us where we are subtly living in unreality-as if He didn’t exist. He does this through our consciences.
Your Will and Your Conscience
The purpose, then, of your conscience is not to enable you to live a morally good life. It certainly results in that, but its primary purpose is to conduct you into superhuman life-where you actually depend on God in your deep heart. Conscience is quickened by God’s Spirit each time your will obeys it. It cannot be otherwise. The Creator has connected the two faculties together in this way so that you may be conformed to the image of his Son. When you actually exercise your will over your mind, emotions and body according to the whispers of conscience, you are enabled to discern God’s will more and more clearly.
What many of us do is to exercise our will according to the opinions we hold in our minds; we ignore the pure signals of our conscience. The result is that we reform our behaviour in accordance with the best moral standards our mind grasps. But our spirit-and therefore our dependence on God-is affected only adversely. We plough further down the road to the moral self-righteousness of the Pharisees-“dead in our sin” and independence of god, though we seem more religious than ever.
Escape From Death
The only way to escape from this vicious circle of death-life in which so many of us live is for our wills to follow out after our consciences. “Cold-turkey” exercise of the will in precise accordance with the whispers of conscience is the only way into freshness of superhuman life. Only in this way can our spirits come alive to Our Maker. Your will must become a slave to your conscience (enlightened by the Bible). Only this incipient trusting of God’s Spirit in your conscience can lead you out of the self-interested second-guessing of your mind. God’s Spirit does not respond to the mind’s opinions or machinations; God’s Spirit responds only to the practical exercise of the will. Jesus said, “If you do the will of my Father, you will know that what I say is true.” Your weak, dead, comatose spirit will begin to live only when your will obeys your conscience. Meditations, self-denial, good works cannot be substituted for this. The pivotal point of your whole personality is at the meeting-place of these two faculties-your conscience and your will. Here you will be led beyond goodness to God, where independent moral goodness is impossible.
by Ernest O’Neill
- “Oh, often have I washed and dressed,
- And what’s to show for all my pain–
- Let me lie abed and rest —
- Ten thousand times I’ve done my best —
- And all’s to do again!”
Houseman’s poem expresses the jaded malaise that weighs down many of us today. Life seems to have deteriorated into a dreary rat-race of repeated activities that seem only to prove the pointlessness and purposelessness of our lives. Yet we still remember moments of illumination and exhilaration when we thought that life could be limitlessly exciting. The world once lay before us as a wonderful adventure waiting for us to plunge in. Hang on to that — don’t lose it — keep hold of it right now! That is the truth! Life is all of that — even now — for you — whatever age you are! You’ve simply let your inside go to sleep while you’ve listened to all the people around you. That’s part of the reason you’re so bored; you listen to what everyone else thinks you should do, instead of finding out yourself. Their views are OK for them! But you’re your own person — you’re different. You’re unique — and your Maker has a unique plan for your life.
Listen to Your Conscience
This is what your conscience is all about. It’s not just the herd instinct or the product of your education or upbringing. It’s a supernatural gyro-compass inside you — a cosmic memory planted by God to lead you out along the remarkable fulfilling development he has for you. Far from being some kind of resident policeman who stops you doing anything that’s enjoyable — your conscience remembers why God made you. Inside it is written the unique contribution that you were made to make to the universe. Nobody else knows it — only your conscience. This is why a verse in the Bible (1 Corinthians 2:15) states “the spiritual man is judged by no one” — because no other human being on earth knows what the Maker has put you here to do and be. Only your conscience knows that.
Why So Many Bores?
You can see why so many of us become bores. Few of us spend much time listening or obeying our consciences. The result is that we all copy each other — do what others are doing — or play the contrarian by doing the opposite of what others are doing. So we all grow beards to be different — or study for MBA’s — or get married late — or early. But we all end up doing it together! Because we’ve allowed conscience to be relegated to the realm of morality and religion — and missed the fact that it is the key to life with a big “L”.
You see life differently from everyone else in the world — and differently from everyone who has ever been in the world — or will be in the world. There is nobody quite like you — with the combination of parents, home, relatives, education, physical appearance, emotions, and mind that you have. And there’s a reason for that. The Creator of the universe has a Son — and you are part of Him. That was stated by a man named John in the first century (John 1:4) — “That which has been made was life in Him.” You were made in Jesus, the Creator’s Son, and He has planned to show himself through you in a never-to-be-repeated way. Only your conscience knows how. That’s why it’s so vital for you to listen to your conscience.
An Engine-Driver or an Explorer
Only your conscience holds the pattern of your life. Don’t settle for survival at any cost. Don’t sell yourself short. Of course, you yourself are just a human being with the same attributes as everybody else, but inside you is the most remarkable Being in the whole universe — and he wants to be himself in you. This doesn’t mean you become a passive instrument. The more you listen to conscience the more active you find yourself becoming. It’s a miracle that this Son of God, Jesus, can only be Himself when you are most really yourself. But that’s reality! So, start listening!
Don’t get all religious about it. Just be quiet at the end of each day. Think over the day — reflect on your own actions and thoughts. Be downright honest and real. If you did anything that makes you squirm, then acknowledge that to your better self — Christ inside you. Read about him in the New Testament — one of the historical records of his conversations. This will help you to understand what your conscience is telling you to do. Then, in a very simple way, acknowledge to Christ that you know he has something to do in your life that he cannot do in any other — and that you want that.
Au Seuil de L’Eternite
You’re now stepping “on the threshold of eternity” — the beginning to the great journey. This is the start of your journey towards reality. Your conscience — rather Christ through your conscience — will gradually stir into life a whole person inside you that has lain dormant from your birth. Let’s talk more about it in the next article.
by Ernest O’Neill
Many of us today think we’re nothing! Often we say and do things that make others think we’re arrogant or proud or sure of ourselves. But inside our own hearts we hide a different self-a self that feels it’s worth nothing, achieves nothing, and will die without ever being missed. This comes from the way humans think about success today. People think you’re successful when your picture is in the paper or you have lots of money or thousands pay to hear you sign or play football. The reality is what was whispered to Roman generals in their triumphant entry into Rome after a great military victory: the one in the chariot who held the laurel crown above the victor’s head as the crowds cheered, whispered “Remember, all fame is fleeting!”
Whether we’re known by many or by none, all of us have a far greater destiny than the temporary adulation of humans who will soon be dead. You were created so that the only Son of the Maker of the universe could live in your body and mind here on earth. That’s why you’re different from everybody else-because he is so infinitely diverse in his character that he will only be properly seen if you allow him to be himself in you. This is what your conscience testifies to. That is the purpose of your conscience-it’s “intense knowing”- “con-scio” in Latin, “suneidesis” in Greek – “knowing completely”. It’s part of God’s own view of reality-implanted in you when you were created. It’s your best guide to what you should do in your life-day by day, year by year, and moment by moment. Fulfilment is the real success. The applause of other little specks of dust is irrelevant. The fulfilment of the Creator’s Son in you is the purpose of your life.
Your Conscience is Exciting
This is why listening to your conscience through the day is exciting. Listening to the jaded moral precedents stored in your mind or listening to your mind’s apprehensions is constricting and boring. But listening to the spirit of the creative Christ through your conscience links you to the moving, unknown actions of the One who made the universe. You don’t need to get entangled in the abstractions of spiritualism to do this; you don’t need to lose your personality in the passivity of transcendental meditations; you don’t need to retreat into introspection to find reality in your inner being. Christ is real-and loves you-and thinks of you as part of Himself. See Him objectively as he appeared in the first century in Palestine. Think about his character as you read the ancient histories. Then respond by word and action to the directions He is giving you through your conscience!
If you respond to your conscience with more thinking and meditation and good intentions, you’ll find yourself sinking in a morass of passivity and confusion. But, if you respond with actions and words and change of your actual behaviour to things and people and circumstances, you’ll find a simple consciousness of direction developing in your life. Clarity about what you should do and satisfaction about your life will seem to materialize out of nowhere. All of this comes from the fact that your Creator is now able to communicate with you. An old writer put it like this-“let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience” (Hebrews 10:22).
The more you respond by actual behavioural adjustment to Christ in your conscience, the more he is able to be Himself in you, and the more you experience the oneness with reality that Paul expressed when he wrote “my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 9:1).
What Does This Mean For You?
What does this mean for you? Only you will know! That’s the wonderful thing about reality. It is more personal than we ever thought it could be. You yourself are more personal-more individual-than you ever thought. You see-the world has never seen Christ, the Son of God, the way he has planned to show himself in you. That’s true! Only you can reveal that-today, as you talk with him, think of him, forget all the pretensions and fears you’ve had in the past-and be yourself, rather Himself in you. It’s an inexplicable paradox how an honest respect and love for the Son of God (at first, in childlike faith) enables you to be actively you and, at the same time, Christ. But that is the miraculous life that you have before you. Begin today!
by Ernest O’Neill
For years Superpower leaders have had “hot lines” to each other-direct phone lines that were always kept open and available so that they could communicate with each other directly if an international crisis occurred in their nations’ relationships. That’s what conscience is!
Your Personal Hot-line
You often wonder what you’re supposed to do with your life. You face forks in the road and are not sure which road to take. Conscience is the living monitor through which your Maker draws you to his original purpose for your life.
Conscience is part of the supernatural part of you called your spirit. But we human beings have ignored it and substituted the moral, amoral, and immoral standards of our social group. We still call it our conscience, but really it is simply our mind that observes, learns, and memorizes what we have seen in our families and friends. Our minds are an important part of us-but only the human part that relates to the world around us. Unlike our conscience, the mind has no direct connection to the Maker of the universe. This is why so many of us wander through life never really knowing why we’re here or what we should be doing with our lives. It’s why so many of us are motivated by what others do or think we should do. Because our only guidance comes from our minds. And our minds simply observe or read about others.
Listen to Your Conscience
Deep inside you, God has written a personal code of what Christ wants to be and do in you. That’s the only reason God made you-not so that you could “do your own thing”, live your own life-and go out like a light into a darkness of nothingness forever. He made you so that Jesus, His Son, could live over again in you-with you alive-but the old selfish, independent part of you destroyed forever in His death on Calvary. Your conscience attests to God’s modus operandi-God’s ways. This is what Paul meant when he wrote to the Romans (2:15) that non-Jews “show that what the law [God’s ways] requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness.”
But your conscience does not simply make you feel you were born for some special purpose beyond dying like a dog after 70 years. Your conscience is the faculty which the living Spirit uses to guide you step-by-step along the way Christ wants to go. You never become a robot because you can always do what you want. You never become passive because Christ’s mind does not take the place of your mind, nor His will take the place of your will. But, if you attend to the impressions that come from your conscience (as it is nourished by daily study of Christ’s human life on earth), your life will begin to sense a direction and fullness that you have never known before.
Is Conscience Infallible?
Is your conscience an absolutely sure mirror of what your Maker has planned for you? Originally-when you were born-yes. That’s why Wordsworth, the English nature poet wrote:
- “The Child is father of the Man;
- And I could wish my days to be
- Bound each to each by natural piety.”
But as Paul wrote to Titus (1:15) about adults in the first century- “their very minds and consciences are corrupted.” Years of looking at what other people are doing-years of trying to please others-leave the conscience unused. The Spirit that informs it becomes grieved, and we ourselves lose sensitivity to it. The result is that conscience itself can be affected by erroneous spirits and can be seared by our indifference to its voice. Thus its clear witness to your daily direction becomes diluted with the fallible judgements of mind and emotions; nevertheless, conscience still seems to retain the original divine “genetic” code built into your creation. Even when conscience is at its “most defiled”, it seems still to sense what you could be doing in your life.
Keep the Line Clear
The only life-line you have to the one who made you is this remarkable built-in compass. Your parents didn’t make you, nor your teachers, nor your coaches, nor your friends, nor your wives or husbands. Only one made you-and he has hidden his secret purpose in your conscience, so listen to it and obey it. It’s like every living thing-use it or lose it. Even a telegraph line can be grounded by something as small as a spider’s web: this is why Paul explained in Acts (24:16) “so I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward God and toward me”.
Have you sensed deep-down you should do something? Do it! Start stepping out on the journey that was designed for you by your Maker. You’re never too old–begin today.
by Ernest O’Neill
“The mature individual-the rounded personality-the fully integrated pscyhe-the socially adjusted person”-we spend hours and hours discussing what a balanced human being is. But the ideal varies year by year according to which psychological theory or social goal dominates the magazines or the media. Many of us are increasingly dismayed at the slipping of the “ideal”- as more deviations become acceptable behaviour. The result is that the direction of our own development seems vaguer the longer we live.
All this uncertainty ends when we begin to notice that we have within us a mysterious sense of what is right and wrong. Often it seems to point us higher than our parents or our peers. Indeed, sometimes we feel it is too demanding because it convicts us about things that nobody else can see or know. Nevertheless, we seem to experience a sense of completeness whenever we obey this secret advice-and, adversely, a sense of failure when we ignore it. This inner monitor is usually called “conscience.” Most of us find that aligning our wills and actions to this inner voice brings harmony and clarity to our personal lives. Whereas introspection and preoccupation with mental and emotional progress brings confusion and vagueness. This is due to the fact that conscience mirrors the absolute will of our Maker whereas our mental meditation mirrors the shifting values of our society. Paul wrote to the Corinthians in the first century “for our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience that we have behaved in the world, and still more toward you, with holiness and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God” (2 Cor. 1:12). Conscience tells us how God’s own heart feels about things: if we respond with our wills, a basic oneness with the Creator is established.
Conscience is Personal
You were created to do and be something unique-rather, you were created so that the Christ of God could do and be something unique as YOU. This means that others’ opinions or ideas are incapable of guiding your life and behaviour: you have a life to live that only you can live, so it’s essential that you follow the leading that is built into your inner being. Strictly speaking, if you follow your conscience as it’s informed by the revelation of the Creator’s nature in Christ, no one is really in a position to judge you. “The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one” (1 Cor. 2:15) states clearly that each of us has been created to live a life that only we can discover from God. The function of our conscience is this guidance. It comes to us directly from the heart of God so there is something superhuman about it. Even when the issue is a very earthly one like your tone of voice or eating or wandering thoughts, your instant willed response enables the Spirit of God to infuse inner life into you. In other words, response to conscience is response to a signal from beyond the earth-as a result, something comes from beyond the earth to you.
Conscience Reinforces Intuition
Actually conscience judges your actions according to the signals God is sending to your intuition-not according to the moral signals that your mind sends to your will. Thus conscience is the first part of the human spirit to be energized by the Spirit of God when a human being’s relationship with God is made right. As you respond to the convictions of your conscience, God’s Spirit increasingly energizes your spirit’s intuition so that you begin to perceive what God wishes to do in you. The more you act in accordance with conscience, the clearer is your intuition’s perception of God’s present will for you. This leads us naturally to deal with the second main function of the human spirit-intuition. Let’s begin our study of the human spirit’s intuition in the next article.
by Ernest O’Neill
Has your mother ever said to you, “It’s just a woman’s intuition!”, when you asked her how she knew what you were going to do? Often women seem to have a sixth sense that is more developed in them than in men. They seem to have an insight into people’s characters that appears to be deeper than just intellectual analysis. Indeed, sometimes people with little intellectual training have a livelier intuition.
The word “intuition” comes etymologically from the Latin word “intuor” which means “see”; it refers to an inherent, innate ability to perceive what is true or what ought to be done-apart from any conscious analysis of the situation. This faculty resides in the mysterious part of our personality that we are discussing these months-the human spirit.
Foretelling the Future
Our spirit is that level of our personalities that lies under the conscious level of our intellects and emotions and wills. It’s the part of us that can communicate with the Spirit of our Creator. Conscience, which we’ve just been discussing, is part of the human spirit; and conscience convicts or nudges us in the light of what our intuitions are saying.
Just as conscience is still partially alive even in a person who has no belief in or relationship to God, so intuition is often partially alive in many human beings who have no belief in God at all. This is simply because the human spirit still exists even though it is not vitally energized by God’s Spirit. This helps to explain why people with certain personalities (not just women) seem to be “spiritual” in a non-Christian sense. They are very aware of the spiritual world that is governed by the “principalities and powers” mentioned by Paul in Colossians 2:15. Just as there is an eternal spiritual world ruled by Christ, so there is a temporal spiritual world that has been given the same freedom as human beings. People with sensitive spirits can be influenced by that spirit-world that imitates and counterfeits the real spiritual life of God.
This is why the witch at Endor (in the history of Saul in the Old Testament: 1 Samuel 28:12) was taken aback when Samuel miraculously appeared himself instead of the counterfeit spirit she expected to call up. This also helps us to understand why clairvoyants, spiritualists, and psychics appear to be able to foretell the future. This gift belongs to the Holy Spirit (John 16:13), but it is counterfeited by deceptive spirits which manipulate human wills and circumstances to fulfil their prophecies.
Purpose of Intuition
Nevertheless, the existence of such a network of spirit-activity serves to draw attention to the existence of a genuine “intuition” which exists in each of us. It remains weak and inactive in most of us until we become aware of the real world of God which is all around us. Then, as we take our first tottering steps of faith in Jesus, we sense urges to do and say things that seem to come from somewhere other than our own reason. Somehow we just “know” what we should do. Even in situations that are new to us, we seem to sense what we must do-without advice from others-and at times without prior thought on our part. God’s Spirit always enlivens our spiritual intuition whenever we make a real, honest, heartfelt move towards Him. This is why we begin to receive these inner impressions that we’ve never experienced before.
What is happening to us is the effect of God’s Spirit upon ours as we begin to believe and act in accordance with reality. His Spirit then commences to communicate to our spirits what our Creator wishes for us: this is because “what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of men conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him, God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what person knows a man’s thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God, except the Spirit of God (I Corinthians 2:9-11).
This is the way our lives were meant to work-by the guidance of our intuitions. The Creator did not make us and put us here on earth to find our own way through life as best we could. He put within us a receiver that is able to register the specific plans He has for our lives. Let’s study in the next article how this works in real-life situations.
by Ernest O’Neill
We think of our modern era as the scientific age. Science, we say, is based on the careful observation of facts on the basis of which we formulate scientific principles. We then modify these principles periodically as observed facts increase our knowledge of the world in which we live. So, we believe Newton watched the apple fall from the tree; then he observed the behaviour of other heavier-than-air objects.
Finally he concluded that such objects must be drawn to the ground by some magnetic force, so he came to posit the law of gravity. Philosophers call this thought-process inductive logic. It has come to be the dominant method of thinking in our century-observing the behaviour of things or people and drawing conclusions from that.
Thus physics, behavioural psychology, political polls, and television programming are dominated by quantifying the activities of things and people.
No Such Thing as Scientific Thinking
However, many philosophers would say there is no such thing as INDUCTIVE logic i.e. arguing from particulars to a general principle. They say there is only DEDUCTIVE logic-arguing from a general principle to particulars. They hold that it wouldn’t have mattered how many apples or stones or people or raindrops Newton had observed, those numerous particular occurrences would never have led his mind to formulate the law of gravity. They say there was a ‘leap of faith’ that occurred from within Newton-a kind of inspired ‘guess’-the hypothesis of a theory, the suggestion of a principle. Then his mind quickly worked down from that principle by deductive logic to the observed particulars; thus the only authentic logic his mind followed was-if the law of gravity is true, this object and that object will behave in this way or that way.
Einstein lends credence to this view of human thought by his remarkable statement that “all ideas come from God”! Moreover, our own personal experiences seem to confirm it: how often we have gone to bed with an unsolved problem and awoke the next morning with the answer. Certainly, many medical researchers and computer programmers would say that they spend much of their time testing out ideas that seem to have synthesized mysteriously in their heads. Often they are simply analyzing or breaking down the synthesis that has unconsciously taken place as they encountered various phenomena.
Thus secular thinkers have little trouble with the idea that we human beings possess the power of intuition. We seem to have an inherent knowledge of things that we come conscious of when faced with problems. This intuition appears to operate at a level deeper than our deductive thinking-deeper than our minds.
The Source of Intuition
This intuition is described in the Bible as a normal function of the human spirit, the part of us that is conscious of the Creator. So, as we mentioned before, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:11 “what person knows a man’s thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him” and Jesus “perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, ‘Why do you question thus in your hearts?'” (Mark 2:8). Both remarks imply that our spirits are able to perceive things that our minds cannot see. Even the Greek tenses used to recount the Magnificat (the song of praise uttered by Mary when she was told she would bear Jesus) highlights the fact that our minds simply try to understand later what first is perceived by our spirits: she says “my soul MAGNIFIES the Lord, and my spirit HAS REJOICED in God my Saviour” (Luke 1:46-47). Our souls (Greek ‘psuche’ which includes mind, emotions, will) acts only after the important perception has occurred in the intuition of our spirits.
Einstein had this ability. Our mothers often have it. You probably have had some experience of it. But it seems only to become normal ‘modus operandi’-the everyday way of life-in people who are personally related to God, the Creator. Why is this so? Let’s discuss this in the next article.
by Enest O’Neill
“All Ideas Come From God”
Who said this — “All ideas come from God”? Albert Einstein — the greatest thinker of our time. He had faced so many impossible problems and his mind had come up with so many ingenious answers that he was convinced that the ideas came from someone outside himself. He could use his great intellectual powers to test the theories once they occurred to him, but he had no doubt that they occurred only because of intuition. We’ve all experienced intuition at some time. Often we experience it the morning after we’ve gone to sleep with some difficulty on our minds: we awake with the difficulty solved. We usually attribute this to the mind’s unconscious activity through the night, but we wonder why it should work better when we’re not using it than when we are.
Most of us have experienced intuition in other well-known situations — those moments of decision when we had to make a choice that would determine the whole course of our lives. Suddenly we’ve just known what we should do — sometimes it seems illogical — at other times it seems utterly alien to our natures. But we’ve followed it — and, as Frost says, “that has made all the difference”.
What is Intuition?
Is intuition just the unconscious working of our minds when we’re asleep? Then we ought to pay all our scientists and economists to sleep — if the mind works best when we’re unconscious. But we don’t really believe that. Besides, those big moments of decision in our lives leave no time for sleeping — we find ourselves making the crucial decision when we’re wide awake — right in the middle of our normal activities. Moreover the decision we make is often one that our minds would never arrive at — even if they had centuries to work at it. So, intuition seems to be some power that is deeper than the mind — and has knowledge that is beyond what the mind possesses.
This is why we are often surprised at the insights of people less educated than ourselves. They seem to express perceptions that are beyond their natural experience of life. Indeed they often evince a wisdom that goes beyond what any person imprisoned in time possesses. Sometimes you’d think they received the insight from someone who knew the future. Thus we have come to think of intuition as a knowledge that is different from sheer intellect — and, in many ways, higher than the intellect. Most of us use our minds to understand and manipulate things and circumstances and people to fulfil some purpose; but intuition appears to introduce a creative direction that can change a situation by adding something to it. It seems to bring a life from outside the situation itself — and this life often bears the impression of the ageless foundations of life itself.
The Empirical Evidence of the First Century
All of this is confirmed by the unique human being who lived in the first century of our era — Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of the Creator of the universe. When Simon Peter (who later publicly denied Him) said, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now; but you shall follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why cannot I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the cock will not crow, till you have denied me three times.” (John 13:36-38). This man, Jesus Christ, evinced an intuitive knowledge of men and events that went beyond simple intellectual perception of present circumstances.
Furthermore, he implied that this was the kind of knowledge of intuition that was His Father’s normal provision for us humans. He explained, “These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things” (John 14:25-26). Jesus tied this gift of intuition to the Spirit of God and therefore to our own spirits — that part of us that lies deeper than the psychological capacities of our minds and emotions. He and his students — Paul, John, Peter and the others — made it clear that we human beings were created to live by the daily aid of intuition from our Creator. Our minds are simply computers that can collect and organize knowledge of the world, but cannot know the way the world really works — only the Maker knows that. But His plan was for us to share that insight through our friendship with Him so that we would not create oil-spills on the California coast or cause the land to sink in Houston or Florida through our abuse of the underground water. Intuition was always intended to be the “sine qua non” — the thing we couldn’t do without — if we were to develop the world the way the Creator intended.
In the next article let’s look at the way we lost this gift!
by Ernest O’Neill
The ancient civilizations of the Incas, Egyptians, and Chinese have left us countless examples of mathematical, engineering, and architectural achievements that amaze us. We simply cannot understand how they did this when science and mathematics were at such a primitive stage of development.
Of course, we suppress any thought that these disciplines might have been much more highly developed than we have suspected because of its dreadful implication that we have actually deteriorated as the centuries have passed. Yet you yourself know that there are two paths to knowledge-the conscious, painstaking study of precedents-things that others have done or discovered-and the flights of insight or genius that seem to come effortlessly from outside ourselves. Even we ordinary mortals have had those moments when we just knew we should do something-we did it-chose a certain path, took a certain job, married a certain person-and everything turned out better than we could ever have thought. So, even we have experienced “intuition”: a perception, a discernment, an awareness, a premonition that simply occurs to us over and above the natural working of our intellects.
The Garden of Eden
In the noblest, most ancient account of the creation of the world, there is no record of Adam attending school. Indeed, there is no evidence of him being a child. The implication is that God, the Creator, made a mature universe. There may or may not have been all kinds of evolution within the species, but the fossil evidence implies that there are gaps which the Creator crossed by significant innovations that owed something to what went before. But the leap over that gap occurred by adding some substantial new element.
In man’s case, it was intellect and self-consciousness. Nevertheless, this first man faced a mature universe with fruit trees, rivers, and his own existence of which he was suddenly aware. And there were no precedents to follow-he couldn’t go next door and ask his neighbor where to buy the orange juice for breakfast. The only way he could proceed from that to the stage where his immediate descendants were working with bronze and iron was by “intuition”. As you think back to those days, you can see that the only way man could have survived was by intuition: survival of the fittest could only operate if there was an inner drive to survive, but that motivation required some innate knowledge to preserve man until precedents were set.
The Voice of God
Man’s first experience of intuition was God’s voice within saying “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die” (Genesis 2:16). Man sensed right from the start that His Maker’s plan was for him to live by intuition through his moment-by-moment friendship with God while he used his intellect to apply the fruits of that intuition to the practical world. The moment he began to live independently by precedent knowledge of good and evil, he would die to his awareness and experience of His Maker.
As we know, man did just that! Our Maker made him free-free to listen to what he was told or ignore it. Our forefather chose to live by his own unaided wits, separated himself from intuitive relationship to God, and gradually suffered the deterioration of mental and spiritual powers that resulted. The fact that this was a gradual deterioration over centuries is apparent not only from the longer life enjoyed by our ancient predecessors but also by the remarkable achievements of ancient civilizations.
The Remains of God’s Image
But God has been gracious to us. He leaves each of us with some experience of the intuition that He planned for the normal functioning of our lives. We catch glimpses of it when we come to critical moments of our lives-and children seem to live by it at the beginning. But soon even they learn to operate by studying the weary precedents of the knowledge of good and evil we have built up over the centuries. As Wordsworth says:
- “At length the man perceives it die away
- And fade into the light of common day”.
This is why so many educators lament what schools too often do to the fresh, intuitive curiosity of children. It’s also why society still treasures the creativity of artists and poets-though this now is corrupted by the deception of the elemental spirits of the universe.
Is it possible to live by this intuition now? Can you yourself find your way back to it? Let’s discuss this next.
by Ernest O’Neill
You’re stupid if you don’t believe in God! This is what Psalm 14:1 states in the Bible. The actual words used are “The fool has said in his heart ‘There is no God'”. Karl Barth, the German theologian, says that such people are stupid because they reject reality and are forced to build a whole system of ideas on the fantasy that the universe occurred by sheer chance. This, he points out, is the tree of knowledge of good and evil that our forefathers depended on for their survival in a world where they decided to ignore God.
It is this worldly wisdom that most of us have learned throughout our lives. In our adolescent years, we have to be told by our parents that “nobody will look after us but ourselves so we must get good jobs”; this piece of knowledge of good and evil shocks us out of our childlike trust that there will always be a Father who will look after us. Similarly, the stupidity that we cannot “get on in life without some strategic lies” has to drive out our childlike tendency to blurt out the truth without thinking of the consequences at all.
Gradually, as we grow more “mature”, we lose touch with this deeper wisdom with which we seem to be born and learn this worldly knowledge of good and evil which is based on the stupid idea that the world came from nothing by sheer chance and is maintained by no one.
Is there any way to recover that fresh, pristine intuition that we used to have as children?
Getting Back to Reality
The unique human being, Jesus of Nazareth, put the answer like this: “calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven'” (Matthew 18:2-4). The first step back towards that intuitive knowledge we used to sense in our childhood is to humble ourselves and admit we’ve lost something. Don’t press the same old button that you have to “go along to get along”, you can’t afford to be a door-mat etc. etc.. Humble yourself and admit that the knowledge of good and evil that you’ve accumulated gets pretty stale and dry. Moreover, though it can lead to security in life yet the life itself can become very boring and unexciting. Even when it seems exciting on the outside, it is all fatally predictable on the inside. You wonder at times what it would be like to do something different, something unusual for you; how wonderful it would be if there were someone who knew you better than your father or mother-who could introduce some new thoughts and attitudes into you!
The first step back to such freshness is to “humble” yourself and admit that things could be better. Everyday life could be more exciting; it could be more noble than it is. It could benefit from being lived on a higher plain. This is the first vital step to take-admit that you could be wrong-life could be better than it is. You could do with some new thoughts and some new direction inside.
Become a Little Child
The second step is to “become like children”. Just look around you; look up at the stars-see them orbiting longer and more precisely than our best satellites. We used a lot of intellect and a lot of technology to put them there. The stars didn’t get there by chance. Don’t learn to twist your natural intuition: be like a child-go with the flow. There must be an intellect behind the universe-and, if this man Jesus is what the historical evidence indicates, then His Father is in fact yours, too. A little child acts naturally in accordance with his best judgment-reaches out his arms trustingly to his father.
That’s the vital second step back to the intuitive knowledge that you vaguely remember possessing in your early years-begin to look out into space, begin to look into inner space in your own head-for some sign that the Father of the universe is trying to get through to you. This is the tenuous beginning of faith inside you-the first expression of dependence on somebody beyond the world-something that a little child has no trouble in admitting and freely expressing.
Let’s talk in the next article about what such candid honesty can lead to.