Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Q: Mortals vs. Man—dynamic not static

This came in from Heather:

I'm not sure how to ask this, because it's not really in the form of a question. Many of MBE's detractors commented on how she said that man in God's image and likeness was not a sinner, and then they pulled out a bunch of Bible quotes "proving" her wrong about how man is a wretched sinner. The thing is, in reading the Science and Health -- aside from it being obvious the detractors missed the point -- she refers to two different 'concepts' of people, in a way. Mortals/Sinners and Man. There's a comment, and I'm paraphrasing, about how Jesus saw in Science the perfect man where sinning mortals appeared to mortals. That concept really comes across in Romans, when Paul is referring to once being slaves to sin, and his unspiritual nature verses the new man. And how when he starts doing what he doesn't want to do, it's no longer him doing that, but the sin 'lodged' inside him. I was wondering if you could comment on the two, in terms of the two and replacing one with the other, and how each comes across in the Bible.

Any thoughts/clarifications you have would be really helpful. Thanks!

You know, this is probably why Mary Baker Eddy included “Mortals and Immortals” as one of her Bible Lesson topics, to be studied twice a year. It is important to get this straight, although my concept of how I can exist as an immortal consciousness while experiencing this mortal seeming is constantly evolving.

Check this out from MBE’s Unity of Good:

Human beings are physically mortal, but spiritually immortal. The evil accompanying physical personality is illusive and mortal; but the good attendant upon spiritual individuality is immortal. Existing here and now, this unseen individuality is real and eternal. The so-called material senses, and the mortal mind which is misnamed man, take no cognizance of spiritual individuality, which manifests immortality, whose Principle is God. --Unity of Good

Looking at that first sentence, there appears to be a dichotomy—human beings appear to be both at the same time. What has helped me in coming to peace with this is the insight that the relationship between the two is dynamic, not static. We may be perceiving a dichotomy, but we’re not stuck in it. The apparent mortal side of the picture is being inexorably subsumed by the immortal because we’re constantly growing spiritually. We’re not standing still.

I published this little illustration way back in October 2005:

It’s an attempt to illustrate this sentence from Science and Health: “Understanding is the line of demarcation between the real and unreal.” Note how it’s moving—as spiritual understanding increases, so does the perception of reality.

You know how when you learn something, it’s like you always knew it? Take driving, for instance. We all had to learn to drive. At first, even negotiating a right turn took complete concentration and was fraught with unknowns. You drive for a while, though, and that right turn becomes the simplest thing in the world.

Which is the “immortal” concept of your ability to make a right turn? The one where you have mastery. The learning process was temporary, mortal. The mastery has become second nature.

Okay, it’s an analogy. But it’s how I feel about spiritual growth. Once you learn the new spiritual idea, you have unveiled more of your immortal identity and the mortal seeming has yielded. That’s what we experience in the here and now. When our growth eclipses mortality altogether, and spiritual reality becomes more to us than its opposite, this mortal seeming itself will feel like just another thing we outgrew and left behind.

I see myself as on a journey of discovery, and I’m never standing still. Every moment I’m making progress along that path. I may feel like a mixed bag sometimes, but the mixture is lessening all the time.

The mortal/immortal dichotomy is important to understand, but also to discount. The truth is that each and every one of us is 100% immortal.

Thoughts? I haven't really covered the aspect of Heather's question that pertains to the Bible, so if anyone wants to weigh in on that, please do so!

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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