Charles Fillmore, American mystic….
Thanks to commenter Michael (a different one) for sharing his experience of healing through a power beyond his conditioned range of resources. I’m talking about a personal union with Christ, and one man’s road back from the depths of suffering. Check it out here.
Michael offered two scriptural references from the Gospel of John, and I thought it would be interesting to see how Unity founder Charles Fillmore interprets these passages (in this case, from his book Mysteries of John). This is sort of how I now approach the Bible, always looking for the “inner” meaning behind surface words and themes. I hope to be able to do this sort of thing without referring to someone else’s take, but for now, why don’t we all open our minds to what Fillmore has to offer?
The first verse is John 3:8. Fillmore lumps it in with the preceding verses, and I’ll transcribe his entire interpretation here:
3Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
4Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
5Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
6That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born anew.
8The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
The Pharisees refused to be baptized by John. They did not consider that they needed the repentance that he demanded. They thought they were good enough to take the high places in the kingdom of God because of their popularly accepted religious supremacy. Many people refuse to deny their short-comings. They hold that they are perfect in Divine Mind and that it is superfluous to deny that which has no existence. But they are still subject to the appetites and passions of mortality, and will continue to be until they are “born anew.”
The new birth is an uncertainty to the intellectual Christian, hence there has gradually evolved a popular belief that after death the souls of those who have accepted the church creed and have been counted Christians will undergo a change. But in His instructions to Nicodemus Jesus makes no mention of a resurrection after death as having any part in the new birth. He cites the ever present though unseen wind as an illustration of those who are born of Spirit. The new birth is a change that comes here and now. It has to do with the present man, that he may be conscious of the “Son of man,” who is the real I AM in each individual. “And no one hath ascended into heaven, but that descended out of heaven, even the Son of man, who is in heaven.”
This chapter of John contains some of the vital truths taught in Christianity: the evolution of man from natural to spiritual consciousness, and the incarnation of Jesus Christ as the divine pattern for all men who are seeking the way of life.
Christianity teaches the complete law of evolution as compared with the partial exposition of the law made by Darwin and associates. Christianity describes God as Spirit creating by a process comparable to the mental processes with which we are all familiar. “God said,” and thus God created that which was to appear, God planned man and the universe, and through His word projected them into creation as ideal principles and immanent energies acting behind and within all visibility. But we should remember that Spirit could not emerge from the formless into the formed without creating relations, which necessitated laws operating through man and all things as essential factors in an orderly universe. Thus even God becomes subject to His laws or commandments. God the universal Spirit first appears as spiritual man. The next step in evolution is the appearance of the idea of spiritual man in the natural or Adam man. This man was primitively identified with an infinite capacity for expansion. When he recognizes his identity as being that of his source, Spirit, he expands in divine order and brings forth only good. When he deserts his spiritual anchorage and gives attention to external experiences and sensations, he falls into a world in which a diversity of results obtain that he calls good and evil. Thus man eats “of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” In these few words is summed up the fall of man from an Edenic state, where he had the constant inspiration of creative Mind, to a consciousness of matter and the desperate struggle of personality for existence.
The natural man must evolve into the spiritual. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.”
We are told here that “the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light.” World chaos results from the lack of spiritual light. We may plan peace and achieve it, but if this peace is not based on divine law, evolving love, and that law incorporated into the pact of peace as well as into the minds of those who sign that pact, we shall have no permanent peace.
Wow — that last bolded line could be the theme for this blog, dontcha think?
In his story of rescue through Christ, commenter Michael (according to my insight, maybe not so much his own) chose a conscious communion with Christ, who, just as in my own childhood experience described in the previous post, appeared to him as an actual person, rather than a character in a book. To me, this is spiritualization personified, and Michael is an inspiration to all who seek the Source of their existence.
Now… John 15:26… and again, Fillmore lumps this verse in with surrounding verses, followed by his metaphysical interpretation:
17These things I command you, that ye love one another.
18If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
19If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
20Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
21But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.
22If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.
23He that hateth me hateth my Father also.
24If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.
25But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.
26But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
27And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.
The Comforter or Holy Spirit is the law of God in action, and when thought of in this way it appears to have personality. From the truth the Hebrews got their conception of the personal, tribal God.
The functions ascribed to the Holy Comforter or Holy Spirit or Spirit of truth imply distinct personal subsistence: He is said to speak, search, select, reveal, reprove, testify, lead, comfort, distribute to every man, know the deep things of God, and He can be known by man only through his spiritual nature.
(See John 14:25-31 for further interpretation.)
Again, there’s this notion of spiritualization leading to deliverance from fear, from unknowingness, from annihilation in the Void — which is to say, the deeper we descend into our transformative journey to full union with Infinite Spirit, the more obvious our challenge to keep moving forward, to keep diving deeper — until, at a certain point, we have no choice to but fully, absolutely surrender to God, despite our gravest suspicions that death (or worse!) may result.
In a sense, we do die… but are reborn as spiritual beings, firm in our knowingness that Life cannot die, and that it does, in fact, flourish in and through us forever.