(Posted on: March 1, 2013 by David McMillin)
He said to them, “If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you may say to this sycamore tree, 'Be uprooted and be planted in the sea', and it would obey you.” (Luke 17:6)
He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." (Matthew 17:20)
The Spirit of God moved and the Creative Energy of the Divine was projected through the Universal Mind (with its patterns that we call the laws of physics). Thus the physical universe came into being. From Spirit through Mind into matter – that is the pattern of divine reality creation. Likewise, as souls created in the image of God, we are each spiritual beings with minds endowed with the power to build and manifest forms into physical reality.
This process has been going on continuously from the beginning of the physical universe we now inhabit. It is going on now all around and within you. Everything of a physical nature in your environment has come into material reality through this process of reality creation – EVERTHING. Obviously it is important to understand this process and put that understanding into practice. Having a little faith in the unseen forces of spirit is important too!
While compiling the lesson on faith for "A Search For God," the Norfolk Study Group #1 defined faith in terms of the Ideal and the manifestation of that Ideal in the world as co-creators with God:
Do we know in whom we believe? If so, then the ideal or standard toward which we move becomes the basis for the activity of faith in constant action from the mental, imaginative, and spiritual forces. Thus we may express or bring into manifestation that which is held as our ideal – not for self-exaltation, but rather to show the blessings we have received and to see them manifested in the lives of others. Let us look within ourselves and know that we are workers together with God. We should analyze ourselves to find out just where the flesh is weak, where we are most likely to fail, and then seek a constant reinforcement of spirit that will make us hold on with unwavering faith to our Ideal. (A Search For God – Book I, p. 47; emphasis added)
… that we see manifested in the material plane is but a shadow of that in the spiritual plane. (5749-3)
My choice of Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” as a theme for the Faith lesson actually has its origin in one of Mark Thurston’s “Experiments In A Search For God.” Whereas Mark used Plato’s allegory as an experiment in the Lesson on Virtue and Understanding, I moved it up one lesson in the series because I wanted to more strongly emphasize the connection between Ideals, reality creation ("manifestation"), and Faith in the unseen forces of spirit.
The reason Mark included the analogy of Plato’s cave in the Lesson on Virtue and Understanding is that you can trace the pattern of creation back from the result (physical manifestation or “shadow”) through the patterns of the mind to the energy of spirit. Thus understanding can be achieved by putting into action this self knowledge. The Cayce readings did insist that working with ideals is a form of “self analysis.” Thus by looking closely at the physical manifestations in your life – your body, your behaviors and interpersonal interactions, the productions of your work, etc. you can know yourself better by recognizing what you have created in your own personal reality. Since we are focusing on reality creation, this is no small point. If you have access to Mark’s book you might want to do the experiment as it can help you to understand yourself as a creator or your own personal reality.
To convey the gist of Plato’s allegory Mark included a simple illustration of a darkened room with a flashlight illuminating a beautiful statue, casting a shadow on a nearby wall.
Mark explained the drawing, as it pertains to Plato’s cave, like this:
“The light is symbolic of the one force – the energy of the spirit that gives life. The shadow represents the projection of spiritual reality into (a) materiality, and (b) the realm of rational thought.” (Thurston, 1976, p. 55)
Below is an image I created to convey Plato’s tale as applied to ideals and the pattern of downward causation which is the basis for reality creation in a material universe: Spirit is the life (light), mind is the builder (form), and physical is the result (shadow).
In case you haven't noticed, I really like visual media. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here is another image portraying the same dynamic of downward causation. This one comes from "Meditation and the Mind of Man" by Herbert Puryear and Mark Thurston. In this image the analogy is that of a slide projector. As the authors note: "… the light of spirit shines through a pattern (of consciousness) and manifests as a projection (our physical experience.)" This all comes from a chaper titled "Physiology of Meditation" in which the the patterns (slides) are associated with spiritual centers (sometimes called chakras). By changing patterns (the "forms" of Plato) our physical experience is changed.
If, as we have hypothesized, material reality is a manifestation of spirit being projected through patterns of mind, then we must conclude that most reality creation at the human level is unconscious. Collectively and individually, we don’t know ourselves very well. For the most part, the lives that we create and the influence that we have on the world is pretty clumsy.
We are spiritual beings, but we have little or no concept of what spirit is – what spirit does. When spirit moves us – when desire motivates and drives us in any given direction, the intent is often for a selfish or self-centered purpose. By the way, when we use words like movement, motivation, desire, intent, and purpose, we are speaking of the realm of spirit. These are all hallmarks or attributes of spirit.
Most of us do have some idea of what mind is about. We contemplate and reflect. We think we know what we are doing. But as Freud and others have pointed out, there is much that is hidden in the shadows of the unconscious mind. And from a metaphysical perspective, there are levels to the mind that go way beyond the brain so esteemed by modern neuroscientists. I am referring to the soul level of mind (subconscious and superconcious) and possible karmic patterns that these dimensions of mind may contain. But even conscious mind processes tend to ramble on as mental chatter in the background of our lives (i.e., internal self talk). Just try to meditate by being still and observe the mental monkeys jumping from branch to branch.
Is it any wonder that the world appears to be in such a mess. Reality creation is going on all the time all around (and within) us. Our physical bodies, our behaviors and interpersonal activities, the objects and services produced by our work – all of these human creations follow the pattern of “spirit is the life, mind is the builder, physical is the result.” If we have selfish or self-centered ideals and project that energy of spirit through mental patterns of greed, power lust, and carnal fantasy, what can we expect the result to be? In a world focused on “survival of the fittest” and “look out for number one,” our personal and collective reality may range from physical illness and psychological distress to the production of weapons of mass destruction and crimes against humanity. Yes, as Plato observed – there are plenty of shadows in the world, and some of them are pretty dark.
But even individuals with a metaphysical leaning and some understanding of “mind is the builder” can miss the mark when it comes to reality creation. For example, I recall speaking with a man at a conference several years ago and learning how he had misused the power of his mind to create a reality that he didn’t really want. A couple of years earlier, when he wasn’t very happy with certain areas of his life (work and marriage), he decided that he would change his life by focusing his mind on a new reality through imagination and visualization. Within a few months he actually created the circumstances that he had visualized. The problem is, after the fact, he realized that he still wasn’t happy with his life. After I listened to his story, I pointed out that He had missed an essential step in creating his new personal reality. He forgot to start with a spiritual ideal. Apparently his unconscious spiritual motivation was tainted by selfishness. His mental visualizations were a reflection of this self-centeredness.
For reality creation to work in a truly fulfilling way, you have to start with a high spiritual ideal and make the mental ideals (patterns of thought and attitude) consistent with that spiritual ideal. Then, when you put it all into action at the material level through your physical ideals (behaviors and activity), the reality that you create will make your soul rejoice.
Conscious Reality Creation
When we consciously focus on a high spiritual ideal and bring our thoughts and attitudes (mental ideals) and behaviors and actions (physical ideals) into harmony with that spiritual ideal, we reclaim the heritage that we were granted in the beginning as companions and co-creators with the Divine. How can we pass on a deal like that!
It may take a little faith to trust in the realm of spirit as the ultimate power of the universe, but if we can muster that little bit of faith and put it into action through our ideal, we can change our lives for the better and bring light into the world.
A.R.E. (1977). A Search For God. Virginia Beach: Va. A.R.E. Press.
Puryear, H. B. & Thurston, M. A. (1975). Meditation and the Mind of Man. Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E. Press.
Thurston, M. A. (1976). Experiments in a Search For God. Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E. Press.
Experiments in a Search For God – Mark Thurson’s book is an excellent resource for these lessons.
Holistic Materialization – This video segment describes how ideals create our personal reality ("manifestation"). It includes examples from my experience as a building contractor.