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provided in their Divine Perfectness, and the tree in the midst thereof is Free-Will.
"In the midst thereof” refers to the vital, central necessity of this free privilege eternally existing in Baring, and of which every idea of Being may become conscious at some time in its history.
li God is free to do His own will, every idea of God has the same freedom--and this is the tree in the midst of the garden of Mind. Before the ego discovers this freedom it is an innocent child of Mind without conscious volition of its own. It is perfect as babes are perfect. But what father or mother would want a child to always remain a prattling infant?
Do not parents always look forward with pleasure to the time when their children shall become capable men and women, co-operating with them in the attairs of life? So our father, God, gives His son the freedom of choice, and the knowledge of good and evil which may come of it.
It cannot be said that this is evil, nor that the exercise of his rights does not redound to the benefit of man. In fact, it is pointed out as opening the way to an understanding of God-like powers, for the * Lord God said, Behold the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also the tree of life, and eat, and live forever; Therefore, the Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken."
It is evident from this that from eating this forbidden fruit man developed faculties that made him a dangerous rival in the realm of the gods, and it was neccessary to drive him forth in order to preserve the harmony of the Tree of Life, lest he should eat of it and in his ignorance perpetuate his ideas of good and evil.
We all know this tree of "free choice," and we see it exercised every day by the youth of our land as they go forth from the care and protection of home
into the freedom of experience. They are ignorant and can in no way be educated in self-reliance except to put them on their own resources. When they are judicious in receiving and utilizing their experiences they become towers of strength and the affairs of the world rest upon their shoulders. This is eating of the tree and pronouncing it good. But there are those who let the temptations of pleasure bewilder them and they become slaves to sensation in its many forms. These pronounce the fruit of the tree evil.
Neither is good nor evil, because it is brought forth in a realm outside the Eden of Mind -- it is in the domain of comparisons.
There is none good but one, that is, God." This good cannot be described nor compared; it must be felt in the soul. Therefore that which man pronounces good from the plane of comparison will not stand the searching scrutiny of the One Wisdom.
Good must be absolute in order to form the basis of a permanent rule of life. Men set up standards of right and wrong as guides by which to regulate their moral conduct. When they do this from the discernment of the intellect they fall far short of a permanent standard. The intellect is a creationa thing formed and therefore subject to that which formed it. It of itself has no original hold on understanding. It is the shadow cast by the perception of the ego in its search for Truth. When the shadow assumes to be substance, division takes place that leads to results unwelcome in both intellect and ego. Neither wants to be half made up, yet through a lack of right relation to the whole there is set up that semi-consciousness which is legitimate in neither. This is the "coats of skins" in which Adam is clothed outside the Garden of Eden.
Ideas always clothe themselves under the impulse of the inherent law of Being, the Lord God, and every idea that floats into the mentality of the ego in the exercise of its free will is by this ļaw compelled
to make for itself an external surrounding, or state of consciousness.
This law of the idea and its clothing is always operative whenever it functions, and it does not take into its field of operation the quality of understanding unless there is a special desire in that direction, This is how the "coats of skins” come about. They are ideas of limitation, and result in the consciousness of matter and its attendant surroundings in the body of flesh.
Then the next step is the ego setting up in this realm a standard of good. It says its world of material conditions is necessary in the divine plan and therefore good.
Its good is always on its own narrow plane and subject to like vicissitudes and changes. It believes the wisdom of men is good, and looks to them and their teachings for guidance. It says, “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?"
It believes that good can be formulated and put in pills, as it were, to be taken in specified doses at stated times.
This ego outside the garden of Divine Mind becomes in love with its “coats of skins" -- its narrow ideas -- and tenaciously clings to them and insists upon their perpetuation.
It beholds the clothing of its ideas in the visible universe and proceeds to locate there permanent standards of nature law. This it terms physical science. Out of this grows a myriad minor standards fitting the needs of each department of life.
Although experience has again and again proven in every one of these natural sciences that they are evanescent as the dew, as changeable as the winds, yet the deluded ego lets go but an instant and then grasps with enthusiastic hope some fresh standard, It does not go down to the foundation and see that its standards are planted in the shifting quicksands of an apparent substance.
When told to sell all and give to the poor, it turns away sad, for it imagines that it has great possessions. • Yet there is no other way to know this One and only Good, God, except by lettig go the idea that there is good anywhere in the realm of the intellect. This seems a most radical and far-fetched statement to the intellect. It is so firmly intrenched in its ideas of good and doing good that it fies into argument and self-justification if its methods are impugned.
It says, Is it not good to be honest, moral, pure, just and charitable? Is it not good to heal the sick, console the sorrowful, and unselfishly aid all men and women?
These are the most insurmountable arguments that the spiritual consciousness has to meet, and like Jesus in the presence of Pilate, it remains dumb and unresponding to the question.
If, however, Pilate will open his mind to the light of spiritual understanding, Truth may be stated to him and he will admit that it is Truth and not false appearance.
To say to the intellect, these virtues which you so highly prize are not good in the sight of God, is to discourage it in its travel from sense to soul. Yet this is truly the only conclusion that we can come to.
To the ego that remains in the consciousness where the observance of those so-called virtues are neccessary in order to keep it from going to rack and ruin, we say, “They are good from your standpoint. But suppose you rise into the consciousness where the One Good, our Loving Father, dwells, what becomes of the conditions which make necessary the exercise of your so-called goods?”
Is there any dishonesty in the One Mind? What then would be the necessity of striving to be honest? Is God immoral? Who in His pure consciousness would brag about his morality? Is God unjust? Who in His perfect equity would prate about justice? Is God sick, or are any sick who dwell in His whole
ness? Where would the idea of healing find a place there? Are there any sorrowful or unhappy who dwell in the presence of the All-Comforting and AllProvident Father?
So we see that all these ideas of good from the plane of the intellect fall into chaos in the sight of the One Good, because the conditions upon which their permanency rests do not find place in that rightful consciousness.
Knowing the mental law of idea and expression, or clothing, may we not learn the wisdom of letting go the belief that these virtues of an abnormal consciousness are good?
Ideas are formidable things to handle, and we should take every advantage of them. They stand
between us and the light sometimes at very peculiar ste angles. In fact, we frequently become so infatuated
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with what we call our good ideas that we believe they are the very light itself.
Calvin undoubtedly believed that he was doing good when he burned Servetus at the stake because he differed from him in his idea of God. Our Puritan fathers were blinded by an idea of good when they burned the witches. It was an idea of God that instigated the tortures of the Inquisition. These people all supposed they were doing good and serving God by killing all those who differed from their ideas of God's character and government.
The Jews crucified Jesus in good faith. They looked upon him and his doctrine as dangerous to the people, whom their father Abraham had committed to their care.
In our day the orthodox Christians consider the revival of his doctrine, advocated by us, as a dangerous trap set by the devil to catch the unwary. This is their idea of good, and they are honest and sincere in carrying out its behests.
If these ideas of good prevail among those who are right in the front rank of spiritual progress, how