Spiritual Interpretation of Scripture
Chapter - Scriptural Symbols
Spiritual significance of Scripture is often revealed in the metaphysical interpretation of names of people of places, mountains, seas, and rivers we find in the Bible. The historical sense of the Bible is often not correct and is rarely of much important. The spiritual sense of Scripture is the important one, and it shows forth the laws and principles of harmonious existence.
Spiritual ideas and moral lessons have been interpreted as men, events and movements, and these must now be re-interpreted in order to unravel the mystery of the Bible and make Scripture practical in destroying its superstitions and mysteries.
People have considered their place of worship almost as important as the God they worshipped. The Holy Temple in Jerusalem was considered of such importance that Jews from all over the Holy Lands made pilgrimages there every year. The Temple, however, rightly understood, is a symbol of the spiritual universe or body and is attained not by means of a pilgrimage from one place to another, but by an expansion of consciousness, which then includes within itself the secret of immortality or life eternal achieved here and now.
Jesus showed forth this truth about the Temple when he said, "Ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. . . But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth."
Again, he said, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will rise it up." The material sense of Temple localizes and finitizes it; the spiritual sense reveals the infinite and immortal Temple of your life, your body, your experience of good.
This true view of Temple likewise spiritualizes your understanding of worship. Thinking of church as material, as having edifices and rules, materializes and finitizes and localizes worship, whereas, the spiritual sense of church reveals the unlimited, unfettered prayer uttered within your own being.
Following this line of thought, we find a Holy City, which, being interpreted, becomes divine Consciousness or Christ Consciousness and this is now understood as the consciousness of you and of me.
We likewise find in all Scripture and upper and a lower land, indicating heaven and earth, or states and stages of consciousness and symbolizing Spirit and body.
There is always a connecting river and a bordering sea. The river is the individual path from sense to Soul, from the lower land to the upper, the bordering sea is either the troubled waters of material existence or the quiet waters of the Soul. Always there are smaller bodies of water to be crossed on the journey -- the Sea of Galilee. Dead Sea, Black Sea, the Jordan -- all symbolic of the one crossing from danger to safety, from matter to Spirit.
Within our own consciousness we find these places, rivers, temples and mountains-not outside of us in a book as it may appear. It is within our own consciousness that the rivers are to be crossed, the transition made from the localized and finite conditions to the infinite and omnipotent good.
In reading Scripture, remember that the people and events are to be understood as states and stages of your development and unfoldment, as spiritual consciousness.
The tendency to translate spiritual ideas of good into symbolic names of places is to be found in the naming of cities of the United States: Salem, Providence, New Haven, Newark, New Canaan, Bethlehem, Corpus Christi, Sacramento, and many others. No doubt the early settlers were expecting to find peace in Salem, security in Providence, a haven in New Haven, a new existence in Bethlehem, and so on down the long list of symbolic names. People are always believing that they are going to find their peace, joy, health or wealth in some person or place--and that is one reason for so many disappointments.
There is no such thing as a heaven, harmony, to be found in person, place or thing. If we do not find our good in our own consciousness, we will not find it externalized, and if we do find it within our own being, we will find it wherever we may geographically find ourselves. No circumstance or condition can be experienced unless it first be found within our own consciousness.
"Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it." Unless the Consciousness of God speaks through us, it would not be the voice of God heard.
You remember that John the Baptist said he was not the Light, but that he bore witness to the Light. In every instance your interest must not be centered in or on the messenger, but rather in the voice of God and its message. You are always attuned, receptive to the ideas unfolding within you. Do not be enticed even by words of wisdom because the Spirit of God speaks in a spiritual tongue and interprets itself to the listener spiritually.
"Ye are the light of the world." That is your only reason for existing. Anything less would not be worthy of God's revelation of His own being.
God must play some part in our experience in order for us to receive the inflow of God. When we turn to God, let us try to rest, to let down the barrier of self to the degree that we acknowledge the divine Presence, the God Presence.
There is no individual with more God Presence than another, yet there is a greater degree of awareness of the Presence in one than in another. Why turn to somebody else instead of the Kingdom within ourselves? Only because we have not given the time, attention, thought, prayer and consecration to the bringing forth of that Presence that some others have. Therefore, in our unlimited state, we may turn to another and there find the divine Grace. Finding it in some one else ultimately leads to finding it in our own being--because that Grace is the very Self of you and of me.
One of the puzzling things that faces every student of the Bible is the God of the Old Testament, the God of vengeance, the God that rewards and punishes. In the light of Christian revelation, it is agreed that that concept of God is an erroneous one--that there has never been such a God.
To accept that statement literally would be to wipe out all of the experiences of the Hebrew prophets, and it would not be wise to make such a statement. To me, the God of the Hebrew Testament was a blank puzzle for many years, and I could get nowhere in trying to fathom that God; yet at no time could I feel that something false or fictitious was being presented.
The same puzzle presented itself to me in the study of the three-faced Hindu God. How could these people that had such great light, such great wisdom, be so terribly wrong as to present a three- headed God: God the Creator, the Preserver and the Destroyer.
Now we have the answer, we know that the Hebrews and the Hindus both were right, because through the revelation of the spiritual sense of the Bible, we know that the destruction referred to was not the destruction of person, place or thing, but the destruction of the belief about the universe. Truth is a destroyer, but the only thing it has ever destroyed is error, and error never existed as a reality.
We understand that God is a divine Consciousness, infinite Consciousness and, therefore, contains within Itself its allness of being. We understand that nothing exists outside of God, that is outside of infinite Consciousness. It must be true, then, that God must destroy even a possibility of false concept. Within this infinite Consciousness which I am, there exists that which will destroy every illusory sense or concept. That is why we understand now that sin and disease do not exist as realities. They exist only as beliefs or false concepts, and it makes it simple for us to be healed of these errors, whether they are of health, morals or supply, when we realize that in the infinite Consciousness we call God, there is that destructive influence ever ready to remove whatever is unlike God-not to remove person, place or thing, but to remove every false concept of person, place or thing. The infinite Consciousness we call God is constituted of every quality of good, which includes always a force and power that is destructive to everything unlike its own being. This is an important thing at this particular time, because right now we are reaping hatreds due to the war, conditions national and international, racial and religious. We, though, do not have to be reformer. We have the realization within our own being, the Consciousness called God, and it has within Itself all that is necessary to destroy any qualities unlike good.
We do not have to be personal saviours to any one, because this infinite spiritual Consciousness, which is individualized has within Itself all that would be the Saviour, as well as all that is necessary to destroy all that is unlike good. We are never called upon to be personal saviours or punishers of evil doers. We can easily rest in the realization that God is the Mind, Soul and Consciousness of individual being. In this Consciousness is all that is necessary for the manifestation of the harmony of God being, as well as the destruction of everything that is unlike its own nature. That is why all through the Bible in the recorded healings, some in the Old Testament and many in the New, it is not in any way indicated that it is necessary to use suggestion or hypnotism in healing. It is not necessary to transfer thought from one individual who my be the practitioner, to another individual called a patient. The truth of being realized in individual consciousness is the law unto those who ask for help. We do not have to project our thought outward to a person, or even make them understand some truth.
The metaphysician has no interest in truth as an abstract theory, but only as it is proved a practical way of life. The Word must become flesh; it must be embodied as our own being, it must make for us a joyous existence, a successful one, a happy one. The rule for all of this is laid down in the Scriptures of the world. We have seen how universal is Truth--in Oriental Scriptures, the Old and New Testaments, Emerson, Whitman-- wherever we turn we find the same Truth, but we have not found it made practical in our own experience until the advent of metaphysical teachings within the last century.
Our turning to the Scriptures to find a solution to the problems in our individual experience is an example which may enable others to do the same. There is no way whereby we can save the world. This is entirely an individual experience. One of the sad parts of this is that at times we cannot bring our own families into it, as they can accept it only as they are ready. We can, though, be the Light of the world: we can show forth, through our demonstration, that which will encourage others to seek the same way. That is as far as we can go. We can only show it forth and thereby encourage them to take the next step.
One of the points that has retarded our own healing work has been the inability to recognize the fact that it is not necessary to reach a person with our mental thoughts; it is not necessary to get a treatment across to a patient. It is necessary only to reach the depths of our own being, to have a realization within our own consciousness, and that is the point from this moment on we are going to remember. Healing has nothing to do with the other fellow; it has to do with our state of consciousness only. In these years that lie just ahead of us, that is the work that will have to be done to set the pace for the entire healing world.
How do we spiritualize our own thinking so as to be the Light of the world? We have been taught that Truth cannot be known by the human sense; Truth cannot be intellectually discerned. Truth is a spiritual quality, and it must be spiritually discerned. It must enter our awareness through spiritual sense, through spiritual consciousness. This spiritual sense is attained in two ways: one, by the reading of spiritual or inspirational literature, which, of course, includes practicing the truth learned, second, by contact with those whose thought is in the same direction. Spiritual consciousness is contagious: it is impossible to be in the presence of those who are making even the slightest degree of effort towards this awareness, without imbibing some of it from them. The greatest step is found in the word "receptivity," "Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth." "Be still and know." "I will listen for Thy voice." Always it is be still; always it is listen; always the indication is to become receptive, open consciousness to the inflow. It is as if, just outside of our hearing ear, is an infinite reservoir of spiritual good, and by opening the ear, listening, we open consciousness for an inflow of the Word, the divine Spirit.
We have advanced to a state where our interest is in God and the things of God, where we must pray without ceasing; our lives must be a dedication. We are no longer living for ourselves, and that is not an understatement. It would be impossible to follow the line of work we have been doing if our interest was just self-interest. We have gone beyond that. We have come to a place of self-effacement where we are living not for our own good: our demonstration is only incidental to the work that we are carrying on. "Ye are the light of the world." There is not an individual on earth who is not here as part of a divine plan. Every one has his own particular mission; every one here is to serve some particular part of God's purpose. As humans, we do not fulfill that mission--no human ever fulfilled a spiritual mission--but in the forgetting of our humanhood, divinity is revealed, the divine plan is revealed.
The public ministry of healing is only one avenue. Right where you are is holy ground -- "the place whereon thou standest is holy ground" -- and that is the place from which to show forth the Christ of your being. Any further steps that have to be taken, will be taken by the Christ of your being. You will not have to plan it humanly.
Constant realization of the letter of truth is necessary so that we do not get lost in the bypaths of blind faith or superstition. It is much too easy to roll off the path into a blind faith, a superstitious faith. We must keep balanced; we must have a reason for our faith. This is not contradictory to the idea that we must be spiritually illumined, but rather, having a reason for our faith makes it possible to receive greater illumination.
To fall into a careless attitude of leaving it to God, without realizing that this God we are leaving it to is the reality of our own being, would be fatal to our ultimate demonstration. There is no God outside of our own being: God is the Mind of the individual, the Life, Soul and Spirit. Therefore, God is that which constitutes the individual. This being true, when we take the attitude, I can rest. I can relax, knowing that God is on the field, it is because we know that we are referring to our human sense of self that we can relax, knowing that the divine of us is on the field, knowing that the "I" of us is the law unto our own being, knowing that I and the Father being one, all that the Father hath is mine. Then we can relax and can even say, "Leave it to God." It is only when we fail to remind ourselves frequently of the true nature of God--of our oneness with God--that we are apt to relapse into the fatal belief of some power outside of our own being. We dare not accept the New Testament as our guide, inspiration or textbook without accepting Jesus' revelation that, "I and my Father are one."
The Bible has not been so clear on the nature of error as the metaphysical writings that have been given to us for our study. It took deep spiritual insight to find that the evils and errors, the sins of the Old Testament, were not realities but negative qualities of thought. The literal study of the Bible does not reveal that, and that is why the churches have never taught it. All of them accept evil, error, as real.
Error has been proved to be no more real than our own concept of it, so taking the Bible together with the metaphysical writings of today, we take another step in the realization of the letter of truth, because through this letter of truth, we are led to the Spirit.
You cannot accept intellectually the nothingness of error. In our study, we must understand the statement that error or disease is not real. We must gain some degree of realization of the nothingness of error. Words will not do it. The study of the literal sense of the Bible will not reveal the absolute Truth that there is but one Power. No matter how many times the Bible speaks of God as all, there are just as many references showing that evil has terrific power, and many times sufficient power to overcome good. But spiritual insight has revealed that the so-called evil powers were not powers but only beliefs, false concepts, ignorance. That leaves us, then, with the great task of getting used to the idea that there is but one Power and that that which is called evil is not power. As we accept this and apply it, ultimately we gain, through our sense of receptivity, a realization of that truth; and all the errors in the world are seen to be illusions, and we wonder that we ever feared them, or hated them, and in some instances, loved them.
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