Lessons in Truth for the 21st Century
by H. Emilie Cady
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Lessons in Truth by H. Emilie Cady has become the one, central text for all Unity teachers, churches, and New Thought organizations. Over a million copies have been distributed since 1923.
Unfortunately, however, many modern readers have a difficult time with Dr. Cady’s Victorian English. After all, American culture has changed a lot since 1894, when the Lessons were first written.
This book, then, is an attempt to edit Dr.Cady’s material into modern language. Very little has been added and virtually nothing has been deleted, except the flourishes and redundancies that were common to the writing style of the time. Every effort has been made to remain true to the spirit, as well as the letter, of her message, while making the language more readable.
As you begin this course, please put aside all your previous ideas, beliefs or notions. By “suspending disbelief” you’ll find it easier to take in what is being offered you won’t be, as Luke said, putting “new wine into old wineskins” (Luke 5:37).* If you find, as we go along, something you don’t understand or agree with, just let it go until you’ve finished the entire course. Many things that disturb you at first will be made clear later on. Of course, after you’ve finished, you’re free to return to your old ways of living and believing. But for the time being, remember what the Master Jesus said: “except ye . . . become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3). Also, when you find things repeated, please remember that these are lessons, not lectures.
Each and every one of us believes that we are ruled by our bodies and the material world around us and all our suffering is the result of this belief. If we look at the Old Testament, though, we can read in the story of Israel coming out of Egypt the story of human consciousness growing up out of bondage in the physical, and on into the spiritual.
And Jehovah said (speaking to Moses) I have surely seen the affliction of my people that are in Egypt, and have heard their cries by reason of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows; and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large land, unto a land flowing with milk and honey (Exod. 3:7,8).
These words express exactly how the Creator feels toward mankind, today.
Today, and everyday, God has been saying to us, His (Her) children: “I have surely seen the affliction of you who are in Egypt [the darkness of ignorance], and have heard your cry by reason of your taskmasters [sickness, sorrow, and poverty]; and I am [not I will, but I am now] come down to deliver you out of all this suffering, and to bring you up out of that land unto a good land and a large land, unto a land flowing with milk and honey [a life of joy and comfort].”
Sometime, somewhere, every one of us must come to our true Self. Like the Prodigal Son, having tired of eating cornhusks, each of us will “arise and go to my Father” (Luke 15:18). And we will do so in all humility and praise, as it is written, “Saith the Lord, to me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess to God” (Rom (14:11).
This doesn’t mean that God is a stern autocrat who compels us to bow to Him. Rather, it’s a description of the order, the law, of the universe: the law of all love, all good. Humanity, at first living in our physical, selfish, animal nature, will grow up, stage by stage, to the spiritual understanding that we are one with the creative force of the universe.
At that point we are free of all suffering, because we realize that we have conscious dominion over all things. And somewhere on this journey, our consciousness comes to a place where our hearts are full of joy and wonder. Then, gladly, we bow before the greatness of the Spirit working through us and around us. From that point on, with joyful freedom, our hearts cry out “Alleluia” and “Jehovah reigneth” (Psal 93:1). Everyone must sooner or later come to this experience.
You and I, dear Reader, have begun to wake up. We have become aware of the bondage of our past ignorance and have set out from “Egypt” to the land of our liberty and now we couldn’t turn back if we wanted to. Yes, there may be times on our journey when we come into a deep wilderness or against a Red Sea, and our courage may fail us. Yet, as Moses said to the trembling Israelites, “Fear ye not; stand still, and see the salvation of Jehovah, which he will work for you today” (Exod. 14:13).
Each of us must sooner or later stand alone with our god; nothing else works. Nothing else will ever make you master of your own destiny. Your own indwelling Spirit provides all the life and health, all the strength and peace and joy, all the wisdom and support that you can ever need or desire. No one can give to you as can this indwelling Presence. It is the spring of all joy and comfort and power.
We’ve believed we were helped and comforted by others, that we received our joy from circumstances outside of us, but that’s not so. All joy and strength and good come from inside, and if we only knew this truth, we would know that nothing outside of us can take away our joy or our good.
Most of us have believed ourselves to be slaves (or victims) of circumstances. Some have said that, at best, we are servants of the Most High. Neither belief is true.
It’s time for us to wake up fully, to know that we are not slaves, not servants, but sons and daughters; “and if children, then heirs” (Rom 8:17). Heirs to what? Heirs to all wisdom, so we need never make mistakes; heirs to all love, so we need never feel fear, envy, or jealousy; heirs to all strength, all power, all life, all good.
We’re so used to the sound of the words we heard in childhood that we often forget to look for the meaning in them. Have you ever considered what it means to be “heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ” (Rom 8:17)? It means, as Emerson said, that “every[one] is the inlet, and may become the outlet, for all that is in God." It means that all that God is and has is truly ours, the rightful heirs, if we can only claim our inheritance.
So in this course, we will be learning how to claim the inheritance that God wants us to have in our daily life.
The “Spirit of his Son” is the risen Christ that dwells in each of us. And it is through that indwelling Christ that we are to receive all that God has and is as much or little as we can (or dare to!) claim.
No matter what you thought started you on this journey, it was really because it was God’s “fullness of time” (Gal 4:4) for you to claim your inheritance. You could no longer be satisfied with, or in slavery to, the material world. God’s “fullness of time” for you is now. It’s time for you to be free, to have dominion over the material world, to be no longer a servant, but a first-born, in full possession of your inheritance!
Yet even as we take in that wonderful truth, we realize that we’re no longer to be looking for rewards, or for a belief to follow. We’re not on this journey to get something, or to follow someone, but to find a new way to live life. And in the course of these Lessons, we’ll take the first steps toward a new life of freedom, perfect love, and all good.
As we begin the walk, we discover that every right thought we think, every unselfish word or action, must by unchanging laws lead to good results for us. But on our way, we must learn not to focus on these results. Instead, we must learn to be the Truth, consciously. We must learn to be, consciously the love, the wisdom, the life that we always truly are, though unconsciously and let the results take care of themselves.
We bring these qualities to our consciousness by taking daily time alone, focusing on the divine Presence within us. In daily meditation lies the secret of power. No one can grow in spiritual knowledge or power without it. No one would ever dream of becoming, say, a master musician without daily practice! You need to practice the presence of God just as you would practice music.
You may be so busy working and even helping others that it seems there’s no time to go off by yourself. But the invitation is clear: “Come ye yourselves apart . . . and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). And that’s the only way to gain the definite knowledge, true wisdom, steady purpose, or the power to meet the unknowns of daily life, that sets us free.
The thing to remember is that doing is secondary to being: when we are consciously the Truth, it radiates from us and does the works without our running around looking busy. So if you have no time for this quiet meditation, make time; take time. If you look carefully, you’ll find some things better left undone. You may spend time chatting with friends or neighbors that, rather than diffusing your energy, could be spent “refueling” in the silence. Even some unselfish act may not be so important that you should neglect your regular, daily meditation.
And when you do withdraw from the world into the silence, don’t think about yourself or your failures, but focus on God. Let all your thoughts center on your relation to the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Let all the old fears and trouble go for awhile; work at turning your thoughts away from them to some line from a hymn, a Psalm, or statement of Truth.
Unless you’ve tried it, you’ll never know how this simple practice quiets the nerves, reduces fears, and dissolves the stresses of the day into nothing. So never let your minutes or hours apart be a time of effort or concern, but always a time of peace: just calm, quiet waiting alone with the Presence within.
Once you’ve tried it, you may be tempted to make the mistake of withdrawing from the world, and spending all your time in meditation. This is asceticism, and is rarely wise or profitable. Jesus, our Way-shower, helps us to see this: each day he went off by himself, and each day he returned to share, renewed in Spirit and in power. In the same way we, too, go into the stillness each day, so we can come back into everyday life with new inspiration and new courage and power.
And don’t let concerns about others stop you. Wherever anyone practices this daily presence of God, peace and harmony flow through to fill the surroundings. We go apart to get still, to receive new life, new inspiration, new power, new supply from the overflowing fountain within, and then we return to the world around us to share that life and power in love. When we do this, peace and harmony result in our home and workplace in all the world around us, wherever we are.
Yet in our newfound clarity and power it’s important, again, to remember Jesus, and live in the understanding that “Thy gentleness hath made me great” (II Sam. 22:36). No one is so grand, so godlike, as one who, knowing the Truth of Being, can stand meekly* and unperturbed before the false accusations of the human mind. As Jesus stood meekly, saying nothing, before the false accusations of Pilate, we need to live that quality of love and acceptance in our daily life.
We must also forgive as we would be forgiven. To forgive doesn’t mean simply being indifferent to those who injure us; to forgive is to give for to give some actual, definite good in return for the distress incurred. Like most people, you may think “I’ve got no one to forgive!” Yet if we consider all the people we feel negatively toward, or that we think “served him right,” then we find we have much to forgive. Any pain that you suffer, any failure of some expected good, may be the result of a spirit of unforgiveness you’re holding toward someone in particular or the world in general.
We must let go of past beliefs about our circumstances or environment. No matter how evil circumstances may appear, or how much it may seem that someone else is the cause of your sorrow or trouble, God, good and good alone is really there, when you call the Law into expression. Joseph, speaking of his brothers’ selling him into slavery, said “As for you, ye meant evil against me; but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20). If we have the courage to see only God in it all, even “the wrath of man” (Psalms 76:10) is turned to our advantage. Situations that seemed heartbreaking turn to joy before our very eyes, if we steadfastly refuse to see anything but God in them.
Finally, while it is perfectly natural for the human mind to seek to escape from its troubles by running away from a situation or planning to make some physical change, such methods of escape are foolish. There is no real or permanent physical way to escape from circumstances or feelings; all our help must come from within. The real inner consciousness that “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”* will supply all needs more surely (and more liberally!) than any human hand. The felt understanding that “God is my defense and deliverance,” achieved by holding the words in the silence until they become part of our inner being, will free anyone from the arguments of the smartest lawyer in the world.
goal must be to come into full awareness of the indwelling God, and
then, in all circumstances, to affirm our support and deliverance
through and by this One. We don’t need to run
around, helping the Divine, but simply to hold a calm, restful,
unwavering trust that the All-Wisdom and All-Power within us is able to
bring about whatever is needed. When that victory is won in the silence of our own being then we need do nothing
outwardly to relieve any situation. The Psalmist
I will lift up mine eyes unto the mountains [to the Highest One] from whence cometh my help? My help cometh from Jehovah, Who made heaven and earth. Jehovah [your indwelling Spirit] will keep thee from all evil . . .From this time forth and forevermore” (Psalms 121:1,2,7,8)
If only we could realize that this mighty power to save and to protect, to deliver and to make alive, lives forever within us, and stop, forever, looking to others!
There’s only one way to fully realize this the way of the Christ Spirit. Speaking through the Master, Jesus, that Spirit told us: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Holding onto the words “Christ is the way” when you are confused and perplexed and see no way out, will always open the way to complete freedom.
* note that “meekly” does not imply weakness or cowardice, but a quiet, accepting strength the strength of a true hero.
* This use of the word “want” should be read “lack for anything” or “have to do without anything” so an alternative translation would read: “God is my caretaker, I have everything I need.”
GOD, MAN, AND BEING
When Jesus was talking with the Samaritan woman at the well, He said to her, “God is spirit: and they that worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24) * Webster’s, in their dictionary definition of spirit, says: “life or consciousness viewed as an independent type of existence. One manifestation of the divine nature; the Holy Spirit.” We can’t see spirit with our physical eyes, but when we look with our “sixth sense,” our intuitive eyes, then spirit is visible and we recognize it. You don’t see the living, thinking “me” when you look with your eyes at my body; you see only the form I am manifesting at this time.
God, then, is not, as many of us have been taught to believe, “the big man in the sky,” some gray-bearded person who lives in some beautiful region above the earth called “heaven,” where people go where** they die. Nor is God a stern, angry judge, waiting for the chance to punish people who failed to live a perfect life here on earth.
God is not a person having life, intelligence, power, or love. God is that invisible, intangible, but very real something we call life. God is perfect love and infinite power. God is the total of these, the total of all good, both manifested and unexpressed.
God is Spirit, the invisible life and intelligence underlying all physical things, the creative energy that is the cause of all visible reality. There is only one God in the universe, only one source of all the different forms of life or intelligence that we see: animals, plants, human beings, microorganisms, water, and even rocks. As Plato put it, there could be no body, no visible reality, unless there is first Spirit as creative cause.
God is love. We cannot see love, nor even comprehend what love is, except as love in action. All the love in the universe is God. The love between husband and wife, or between parents and children, is just the smallest bit of God, as made manifest in visible form. A mother’s true love, so infinitely tender, so unfailing, is God’s love, manifested a little through the mother.
God is wisdom and intelligence. All the wisdom and intelligence that we see in the universe is God wisdom projected through a visible form. Up to now, we’ve looked for knowledge and help outside ourselves, not knowing that the source of all knowledge, the very Spirit of truth and wisdom, is waiting within each and every one of us. To educate (from educare, to lead forth) therefore means not to force knowledge in from the outside, but always to draw out from the student something that already exists there. God as infinite wisdom lies within every human being, only waiting to be led forth into physical manifestation. Understanding and working with this awareness is true education.
God is power. Not simply God has power, but God is all the power that can do anything in this universe. God, as the creative energy that causes all visible reality, is the power that sustains and evolves this reality.
God is not a being having qualities, but God is the good itself. God, the source of our existence in every moment, is not only omnipotent (all-powerful); God is omnipotence (all power). God is not merely omniscient (all-knowing), God is omniscience (all knowledge), itself. God is not merely omnipresent (always and everywhere present), God is more omnipresence. Everything you can think of, in its absolute perfect form, is God.
The Nature of Substance
God then, is the substance (from the Latin sub, under, and stare, to stand), or the real thing standing under every visible form of life, love, intelligence, or power. Each rock, tree, or animal every visible thing is a manifestation of the one Spirit, God, varying only in degree. And each one of the infinite forms of manifestation, however insignificant, contains the whole. One drop of water taken from the ocean is just as perfect ocean water as is the whole: the molecules are the same, combined in exactly the same way, whether we consider a drop, a pail-full, a keg-full, or the entire ocean. Each is complete in itself; they differ only in quantity. Each contains the whole, yet nobody would make the mistake of confusing a drop with the entire ocean!
So we say that each individual form, or manifestation of God, contains the whole. We don’t for a moment mean that each individual is God in the entirety, but that each is God taking form in some degree or quantity.<>God is not only the creative cause of every visible form at its beginning, but at every moment that form exists. God lives within every created thing as the life, the ever-renewing, re-creating, ever-evolving, cause of it. God never is and never can be separated from any created form not for a moment. Then how can even a sparrow fall to the ground without God’s knowledge? And “ye are of more value than many sparrows” (Matt. 10:31).
The Nature of Mankind
God is. Mankind exists (from the Latin, ex, out of, and sistere, to stand forth). Humanity stands forth out of God. As such, humanity is the fullest and most complete expression of God on the planet. “In the image and likeness of God He created them” (Gen 1:27). To mankind, therefore, is given dominion over all other manifestations.<>Each of us is a threefold being, made up of Spirit, body, and soul. Spirit, our innermost, real being, is the absolute part of us, the I of us, and has never changed though our thoughts and circumstances may have changed thousands of times. This part of us is God standing forth into visibility. It is what Jesus called “the Father” in us. At this central part of our being each of us can say “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30), and be speaking absolute Truth.
Our Relation to God
Jesus said “one is your Father, even He who is in heaven” (Matt 23:9). He also said “and all ye are brethren” (Matt. 23:8), because all of us are manifestations of one and the same Spirit. As soon as we recognize this truth of our relationship to all humanity, we at once slip out of our narrow personal loves, out of “me” and “mine,” into universal love, taking in all the world. Then, with Jesus, we joyfully exclaim: “Who is my mother? And who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples and said, behold my mother and my brethren.” (Matt. 12:48).
God is the name we give to that unchanging principle at the source of all existence. To the individual, God takes on personality as loving Father-Mother, a comforting Presence, but as the creative underlying cause of all things, God is principle, impersonal, infinite. For some, taught to think of God as a person, the statement that God is Principle is chilling. Terrified, they cry out “They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him!” (John 20:13). But broader and wiser minds find the thought of God as a person too small for their understanding, for a person is limited in place and time and God is the infinite within whom this finite universe takes form.
All that we can ever need or desire is available to us through the infinite reservoir of good, God, that we experience as the loving Mother-Father Presence. We all have direct access through the central “I” of our being, the Father-Mother within, to the infinite life, love, wisdom, and power which is God. This Source is the living fountain of all good, the Giver of all good gifts. This Source and you are connected, every moment of your existence. You can draw on this Source for all the good that you are, or ever will be, capable of desiring. There is no limit to God’s willingness to manifest more of God’s self through us, when we are willing to align our self with God.
Till now in our lives, we’ve focused on the world outside us to satisfy our desires and we’ve been sorely disappointed. Our hunger for satisfaction is not about visible experience; it’s really the cry of the homesick child-soul for its Mother-Father God. It’s the Spirit’s desire in us to come into our consciousness as more and more perfection until we become fully aware of our oneness with All-perfection. Mankind has never been and never could be satisfied with anything less.
What we want to know now is how
receive more from the fountainhead within, and how to experience more
and more of God (all good) in our daily life.
by H. Emilie Cady
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