The Divine Principle Home Study Course
Nature of God and Man; the Purpose of Life"Thou didst create us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee", Saint Augustine
It has been said that every generation asks the same questions about God, man and human destiny, but that each puts them in some special form. When in 1966 the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands issued a new type of lay catechism, they expressed for the modern age some of the questions which have perplexed humankind since antiquity. Among the questions these bishops raised were: "What is the point of this world?" "How did our life begin?" "Is it an accident that things strive upward through such new and wonderful phases--existence, life, feeling, thought?" "How can we harmonize all the sickness, disappointments and cruelty of this world with an infinitely good origin?"
Such questions, of course, are not necessarily new. The prophets and priests of the Hebrew Bible wrestled with similar issues, and so have modern theologians and laymen. Earlier, Greeks from Plato to Plotinus considered them; nor were they overlooked by Hindu saints and Muslim sages. Even Karl Marx recognized the need to address these issues, and today these same questions are still being asked by Christians and non-Christians, theists and humanists, dogmatists and doubters.
Regardless of one's particular religious or irreligious faith, every individual sooner or later asks himself certain fundamental questions about human nature and destiny. A person must find his place in the society of which he is a member. He must relate himself in a positive fashion to the wider universe surrounding him. Ultimately, if the above passage from St. Augustine is correct, one must even come to terms with God.
Polarity: Creator and CreationIn asserting that the Lord has "created us for Himself," St. Augustine has touched upon the first characteristic and activity of God. He is the Creator. The Hebrew Bible, the foundation for the Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths, opens with the verse, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Similarly, in the Apostles' Creed, the first article is: "I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth."
In the Judeo-Christian tradition, then, God is the ever-active Creator, an infinite and invisible spirit who fashioned the universe in the light of His perfect reason and holy will. Whether we read the creation story in Genesis, the beautiful nature hymns in the Psalms or the majestic poetry of Job, we are reminded by the Biblical writings that behind and throughout everything visible, man can sense the activity of the invisible. Wherever one looks he beholds the handiwork of God.
Reflections of GodEven though God is an invisible spirit, He can be known through His creation. An artist's work is a visible expression of his invisible character. Shakespeare could only write Shakespeare; Picasso could only paint Picasso. In the same way, the universe reflects the personality of God. As we can sense an artist's character through his works, so we can perceive God's nature through His creation. If, as now asserted by scholars of body-language, our facial expressions, gestures and overall appearance reflect our inner nature and attitudes, so we may say that the universe reflects God's nature. In that sense, the universe becomes God's body. The majesty of Mount Everest, the beauty of a sunset, the power of a storm, the harmony of the cosmos--all reflect something of God. The temporal manifests the eternal. Reflecting this fact, the Apostle Paul wrote to his fellow-Christians in the first century A.D.:
"Ever since the creation of the world, His invisible nature, namely His eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made" (Rom 1:20).
Beyond the natural creation, however, Divine Principle teaches there is a more direct way of receiving God. "What is mind that Thou art mindful of him?" the Psalmist asks--and answers in the same breath that this creature has been made only a "little less than God" (Ps 8:4-5). Man, we are told, was created in God's image. According to the writer of Genesis:
"So God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him: male and female He created them" (Gen 1:27).
This affirmation, of course, has found considerable support in the millenia since it was written. As the Russian scholar Vladimir Lossky has pointed out, the founders of the early Christian Church devoted no little energy to identifying God's image in man, variously defining it as the soul, the intellect, and the power of self-determination. In addition, it was identified with the gift of immortality, the ability of knowing God, and the possibility of sharing the divine nature. In the modern age, Archbishop William Temple, noting that the revelation through nature is "incomplete and inadequate," has stressed that "personality can only reveal itself in persons. Consequently, it is especially in Human Nature--in men and women--that we see God."
God, then, is revealed most directly in people.
With Archbishop Temple, Divine Principle distinguishes between the revelation of God through nature and His revelation through man. While through man there is a direct expression of God, in the case of the universe there is an indirect relationship. God is expressed not actually, but symbolically. Nevertheless, both man and creation serve a revelatory function. By recognizing the fundamental characteristics inherent in both man and the cosmos, Divine Principle teaches us that we can comprehend the basic nature of God.
The eye is the lamp of the soul, the poet says, and thereby implies a fundamental truth about all humanity. Looking at ourselves we discover we are polar beings. We are both mind and body, internal character and its external form. The outer expresses the inner and the inner directs the outer. The quality of the soul is expressed in the clarity of the eye. Though our inward selves are invisible, our thought, emotion and will are reflected outwardly in our facial expressions and indeed in the whole body. To a considerable degree, each of us is what he does, because he embodies what he thinks. The outer man we see mirrors the inner man we don't.
As a man embodies an inner spirit, so does the rest of creation. Animals, for example, have internal instincts that direct their bodies. Squirrels provide for themselves in burying their nuts; spiders instinctually survive by building perfect spider webs; birds migrate across thousands of miles, seeming to know when to fly and where to go. Extraordinary new experiments reveal that even plants have emotions and memories. As everything visible is the expression of an invisible aim, we come to recognize that two dimensions, internal and external, character and form, characterize all things.
While it may seem obvious, Divine Principle reminds us of the importance of the internal dimension. A person's inward aspect gives him his value. No matter how handsome one may be, qualities of dishonesty or selfishness will severely compromise his stature in the eyes of God and his fellow man. On the other hand, even though a person's body may be crippled, noble internal qualities will gain him the admiration and love of all. Helen Keller, for example, despite being both deaf and blind, came to be both respected and loved throughout the world.
While Divine Principle recognizes that the polarity of internal character/external form permeates all the created universe, it nevertheless affirms that the ultimate inner/outer relationship is that existing between the Creator and His creation. The heart of all creation is God. He is reflected in all that we can see or hear or touch. He makes His presence known in the totality of creation which serves as His body, exemplifying His beauty and providing the outer form of His being. As St. Augustine wrote of his own experience:
And what is this God? I asked the earth and it answered, "I am not He".... I asked the heavens, the sun, the moon, the stars and they answered: "Neither are we God whom you seek." And I said to all the things that throng about the gateways of the senses: "Tell me of my God, since you are not He. Tell me something of Him." And they cried out in a great voice: "He made us." My question was my gazing upon them, and their answer was their beauty.
Male and FemaleBeyond the polarity of inner and outer, there is another fundamental polarity that is "perceived in the things that have been made." This is the polar relationship of masculinity and femininity. When God created man, He also created woman; they are a complementary pair. Also, within each man there are feminine qualities and within each woman there are masculine qualities. Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychologist, thought of these qualities as the anima and animus. In the view of Father John Sanford, an Episcopalian priest and Jungian therapist, masculine qualities of personality (the animus) include active creativity, controlled aggressiveness and psychological firmness, while the feminine aspect of personality (the anima) comprises such qualities as understanding the capacity for relationship, patience and compassion. Each person contains both masculine and feminine potentials and, according to Sanford, "no one can approach wholeness without some development in both areas."
Of course, the complementarity of masculinity and femininity is not limited to the species Homo sapiens. Within the larger animal kingdom there are also male and female creatures--stallion and mare, buck and doe, rooster and hen. Also, plants generally reproduce through staminate and pistillate parts. The world is made so that most everything exists and comes to completion through the reciprocal relationship of masculinity and femininity.
In the inanimate world these complementary elements are often expressed in terms of positive and negative. For example, atoms are formed from protons and electrons, and each atom itself assumes a positive or negative valence. Electricity flows between positive and negative charges.
The masculine/feminine polarity is also recognized in Oriental philosophy, which understands the relations of all things in terms of yin and yang. Yang includes such masculine elements as man, mountains, daytime and sun. Yin includes such feminine elements as woman, valleys, nighttime and moon.
In the Image of GodDivine Principle teaches of an intimate relationship between cause and effect. Since people and all things are composed of two sets of dual characteristics, character and form, and masculinity and femininity, Divine Principle argues that God Himself, the Source of all things, must also possess both internal and external dimensions and the qualities of masculinity and femininity. Since God as the First Cause necessarily possesses internal character as well as external form, we can understand Him as a personal being who feels, thinks and wills. He is not merely the "Unmoved Mover" of Aristotle, but the God of Love of Jesus. Indeed, while for the author of the 23rd Psalm the Lord is a "shepherd" whose "goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life," for a modern Christian He is an Other who has brought "relief from tension and misery... (and) guidance that rescued me from intolerable situations. At rarer moments this Other gave a joy and fulfillment that made the whole business of life worthwhile" (Morton Kelsey).
Such is the personal, caring nature of the Creator.
Since--beyond the polarity of inner and outer--God also must possess both masculine and feminine characteristics, the metaphorical image of God as an old man with a long white beard can be only half the picture. If we try to symbolize God in this way, an accompanying grey-haired matron would also be necessary. God, an infinite spirit, is not just Heavenly Father, but Heavenly Mother also. In terms of the Biblical record, then, Adam alone does not provide a complete image of God: Adam and Eve together are God's image. Man and woman stand on a ladder of polarity which is connected to every level of creation--from humankind to animals, to plants, to the protons and electrons at the base of the realm of matter.
While it has recently become fashionable in some circles to interpret the differences between men and women purely in terms of cultural conditioning, Divine Principle would see such an interpretation as questionable. In a famous work by Switzerland's Professor Emil Bruner, Man in Revolt, for example, this scholar describes a biological difference between the sexes that is basic and deep-seated. Spiritually, he tells us, the man expresses the productive principle while the woman exemplifies the principle of bearing and nourishing. Man tends to turn more to the outside world while the woman concentrates more on the inner realm. The male often seeks the new and the female longs to preserve the old. While the man often likes to roam about, the woman prefers to make a home.
For Divine Principle, such distinctive orientations exist by divine design. Physically and psychologically, man and woman are to complete each other's inner nature and outer structure.
Divine polarityWhile the male-female polarity is evident in human society, it has been less recognized in the divine realm. The feminine aspect of God particularly has not been emphasized in Western civilization. Although other faiths have assumed the feminine aspect of the Godhead (Hinduism, for example, in worshipping the goddess Shakti has long affirmed a feminine dimension of divinity; also the Greeks recognized Zeus and his wife Hera), traditional Judeo-Christian theology has seen God as masculine.
Significantly, in the view of some scholars, there are deficiencies in a society based on the worship of an exclusively male deity. The well-known psychotherapist Erich Fromm, for example, has argued that fatherly love characteristically sets up principles of appropriate behavior and establishes laws of correct action. If the child cannot live up to such demands, he may feel a lack of love and by self-accusation cut himself off from the father's love. The result is frustration and depression.
According to From, maternal love is by contrast unconditional and all-enveloping. It does not need to be acquired, but comes as a natural gift of physical birth. The mother loves her children simply because they are hers--not because they obey her commands and fulfill her wishes.
For Fromm, an understanding of God as both a guiding Father and Mother would lead to a more rounded and stable personality in its adherents. While Fromm's distinctions might be slightly too neat, it is clear that considering God as both Father and Mother broadens and clarifies what we need and seek in God. Each aspect by itself is incomplete and one-sided.
Innumerable studies of modern culture have been done, but it hardly takes a trained scholar to detect the profound malaise which permeates much of twentieth century western society. The title of Carl Jung's well-known book, Modern man in Search of a Soul, suggests one level of this malaise while Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, a 1970s film replete with senseless violence, is a cinematic indication of the moral sickness of modern society.
Alienation, spiritual emptiness, meaninglessness and powerlessness are words which for many characterize the situation of modern man. The lack of meaning and loss of belonging strike particularly at the spiritual roots of modern city dwellers, especially in teeming, impersonal metropolises like New York, Los Angeles and London.
Divine Principle uses the concept of give and take to express one dimension of what is missing in the experience of modern secular man. The Principle explains that, for lack of proper give and take, we are missing the core relationships for which we were created. Indeed, since everything exists as part of a pair system, each aspect is created to relate to the other. This occurs through giving and taking, both in human society as well as in the natural world.
An atom, for example, exists because of the exchange of energy between positive and negative charges. Give and take between stamen and pistil creates new seeds for plant life. Zoologists speak of a vast web of life in which each part plays both a productive (giving) and receptive (taking) role. Throughout the universe, give and take provides the energy for the existence, development and multiplication of all things. It is the action whereby the polar aspects of all things can be harmonized and unified.
God's EnergyBeyond the interaction within the natural world, Divine Principle suggests there is a giving and taking of energy within God Himself. When Moses asked God for a name by which He could be called, He replied, rather enigmatically, "I am who I am" (Ex 3:14). Since God is the First Cause and the primal source of all that exists, we may think of His Being in terms of perpetually self-generating energy. This ultimate energy is the outer form of God, as heart is His inner character. The give and take between these polarities with the Godhead form the foundation for the Lord's eternal existence.
The late Paul Tillich is famous for having removed God from His throne in the sky and having identified Him as the "ground of being." Divine Principle would sympathize with this assertion. God's energy is the source and substance of our physical world. Causing the visible creation and operating through it, God is responsible for the infinite patterns which energy forms to make the world we touch, see and know.
If we think directionally, we may say that the source energy from God is in a vertical relationship to the world while the energy produced through give and take between different earthly polarities is horizontal. Since the energy emanating from God operates to stimulate give and take between distinct horizontal elements, there is no creation in which God's spirit is not at work. The universal law of give and take is an aspect of God's omnipresence; nothing can exist without this connection to the living, ever active God.
Flow of LoveIn line with the principle of polarity, Divine Principle points out that wherever giving and taking occurs, two positions are established, one we may call the position of "subject" and the other the position of "object". Generally speaking, the subject projects an initiating and creative energy, while the object is to be stimulating and responsive. As the positions complement each other, both are needed for interaction.
Examples of subject and object relationships are many. In human affairs, these positions can be seen, for example, in the relation between director and actors in the theater, or in a family between parents and children. Husband and wife may also be thought of in terms of these categories, with the mates playing different roles at different times. In his most famous work the Hasidic scholar Martin Buber termed these two positions I and thou.
Since love requires "two" (the lover must have his beloved), the positions of subject and object ultimately exist in order that love might flow. As in the exchange of love two persons change places and alternate roles, we may think of love as occurring in a circulatory motion. Love is the power which unites. Therefore, in love the subject and object ultimately unite and become one. This can be true of man and woman, parents and children, or even an individual and God.
The Four PositionsPolarity, give and take, subject and object, God and man: do all these elements fit together? Yes; they converge in an interconnected whole which the Divine Principle terms "the four position foundation."
When a man and a woman or in fact any two entities in the role of subject and object have a relationship of give and take, they form a unit of four positions. We may think of this unit as the basis for everything which exists; indeed, it is the foundation upon which God carries on His creative work.
In the natural world, give and take between a proton and electron, for example, establishes a four position unit consisting of God as the Source, proton and electron and the resulting atom. Similarly, interaction between two atoms produces a four position foundation among God, the two atoms and the resultant molecule.
In human society, give and take between mind and body centering on God creates a four position foundation on the individual level. In a family, a four position foundation consisting of God, husband, wife and children is established. When a person enters a God-centered relationship with the things of the universe, he realizes a four position foundation on the universal level.
The ultimate in a series of give and take relationships is the exchange of love between a man and a woman, husband and wife.
For Divine Principle, the four positions on the family level, including parents and children with God in the first position, provides the natural foundation for human society. Indeed, this is the pattern for all other bases of four positions. On the community level, the four positions would be God, the leadership, the people and the community formed among them. Societal, national and international relationships are also based upon this pattern. Indeed, in the view of Divine Principle, the four position foundation provides an operative model for the realization of societal harmony. If social leaders were centered on God, embodying His heart and seeking to bring His love and truth to their people, then an ideal community would begin to be within reach.
As we all know, however, the give and take principle in action in society at large leaves much to be desired. Satisfying four position foundations are not being realized. This is the result of the quality of the relationships as well as the content. Certainly, if the content of our give and take were love, and if it were given with understanding, then a world of harmony and cooperation could result. The reason why Christianity historically has flourished, for example, is that it emphasizes the primacy of love: "so faith, hope, love abide," writes Paul, "but the greatest of these is love" (I Cor 13:13). The New Testament envisions a loving fellowship which through love binds together very disparate kinds of people:
Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love...and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him (I Jn 4:7-8).
Divine Principle stresses that harmony among people can be achieved when such people first love God. We may say they then have access to a warehouse of love and can pass the cargo of God's love to their neighbors. When the Apostle Paul was spreading his new faith throughout the Hellenistic world, he was well aware that, in Jesus' eyes, the commandments to love God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself were the most important of the hundreds in the Torah. He knew that harmony on the horizontal level was dependent on the vertical relationship with God, that give and take flows freely between people only when it flows between individuals and God, and finally that "Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (II Cor 3:17).
The earnest searching question asked by a 1960's pop hit, "What's it all about, Alfie?" reflects for the present time a question that has beset men and women of all time. What is life all about? What are we here to you? Is life, as Shakespeare's Macbeth would have us believe, merely a walking shadow...a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Or does it have as other poets and mystics suggest, some ultimate and sublime purpose?
For Divine Principle, as we shall see, the purpose of creation is three-fold yet one. In contrast to Macbeth, the Principle affirms there is a profound meaning in life and this meaning is connected to joy. Indeed, for the Divine Principle the very purpose of God creating the world was to produce and experience joy. God, humankind and the natural world all exist both for their own joy and to bring joy to others.
Let us think of how joy is experienced No one feels joy by himself, but only by having an object which complements or reflects his own character. If an artist merely conceives an ideal without expressing it, his joy is not fulfilled. But when his creative idea is perfectly expressed on his canvas, then he is likely to feel a joyful satisfaction . The painting serves as an object to stimulate such feelings.
On a deeper level, joy comes from love. When one has a full relationship of love, the highest joy is his. Romeo's rather exaggerated exclamation upon seeing the light in Juliet's window, "It is the east, and Juliet is the sun!" suggests the ecstatic heights truly-felt love can bring.
Divine Principle teaches that God's desire for love is not so different from that of his children. So long as God was alone and his essential self was unexpressed, the feeling of satisfaction or joy was not his. He needed an object and out of this need he created humankind. Projecting his whole nature into his work, God produced man to manifest his invisible nature in the form of a visible and tangible image. He thus created man as an expression of himself, as a being with whom he can have a relationship of love.
A specific analogy to the divine reality can be found in the human family. Because a child is the most perfect expression of his parents' nature, parents can have an abundant exchange of love with their children. In the same way, of all beings in the created world, many inwardly and outwardly expressed God most fully. Thus he is a being with whom God can have the fullest exchange of love. In the view of Divine Principle such was the hope of God when he undertook his creative endeavor. He intended to live with man forever in the highest joy through the perpetual exchange of love.
Three Great BlessingsWithin the framework of this understanding, Divine Principle finds a clear expression of God's purposes in the following well-known passage from scripture:
Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it: and have dominion...(Gen 1:28)
God is bestowing three blessings upon Adam and Eve: be fruitful, or unite with him; multiply, or unite with each other; have dominion, or unite with creation.
What precisely would it mean to "be fruitful", which is the first Blessing? A tree becomes fruitful when it becomes mature or when it blossoms and bears fruit. Similarly God's first Blessing to mankind is the blessing of individual perfection or maturity a state in which the individual become one with God in heart.
In the history of religious thought, man's relationship with his Creator has been characterized in several ways. The encounter between man and God is compared to a ruler and his subject, a master and his slave, a craftsman and his craft. In line with historic Christianity, however, Divine Principle affirms the validity of the most personal analogies; father and child, lover and beloved, bridegroom and bride. The intimacy possible with God not only allows man to reason with God, but also to live in joyous love with him.
Ultimately, each of us is meant to establish a vital rapport between himself and God, resulting in perpetual, ever-expanding joy. "When thou comest unto my heart, all that is within me dost joy!" writes Thomas A Kempis of his relationship with God. Such was God's hope: we were to be fruitful and joyful by uniting with him.
The promise of maturity may be described from another point of view also. That is, Divine Principle would assert that the goal of individual life is achieved by getting mind and body in tune with each other, centered on God. Unfortunately, rather than possessing such a personal integration, most of us know only too well the conflict the Apostle Paul describes:
"I can will what is right, but cannot do it...I do not the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do." Rom.7:19
The task of spiritual growth, then, is to bring an end to this inner division, finding an inward God-centered harmony and unity. In such a state we may say one's feelings parallel God's feelings, his thoughts reflect God's thoughts and both are expressed clearly in his physical deeds. Diagrammatically, we may say this state produces a four position foundation on the individual level.
Despite the promise of this ideal, it is clear that it has not yet been realized. Individuals by and large have not achieved a God-centered integration of personality. Falling short of the goal given us by Jesus, humanity has not become perfect ("You must be perfect as your Heavenly Father is Perfect." Mt. 5:48) nor have we become God's temple (" Do you not know that you are God's temple and God's spirit dwells in you?" 1 Cor 6:19). Therefore, since mankind has not yet become fruitful, neither God's joy nor man's joy has been consummated.
The Loving FamilyIt has been said that there is no success in the world that can make up for failure in the home, Divine Principle would affirm this as true, based on misunderstanding of God's purpose for men and women, as expressed in the second Blessing. This Blessing is the experience of an ideal family, a family in which God's love dwells. In the view of Divine Principle a man and a woman were first to attain individual perfection and then become husband and wife, giving birth to children and forming a family. As the center of love, this family would be the fullest basis for the experience of love for man and God. Had there been no fall, we may imagine that Adam, Eve and their children would have formed the first God-centered four position foundation on the family level.
For Divine Principle, love is the beginning and the end, the nearest and the farthest, the deepest and the highest. "Many waters cannot quench love, either can floods drown it" writes the author of the Song of Solomon (8:7) and the Divine Principle would agree. It would also argue, for reasons we have already mentioned, that such love can be best cultivated in the God-centered family. While it is widely accepted today that one's early experiences with his family are profoundly influential in determining his future psychological health and wholeness, Divine principle points out that the diverse relations of the family also provide the natural ground for ongoing growth in the dynamics of love. Specifically, we may identify three basic expressions of love that develop progressively in the family: L passive, mutual and unconditional.
When, for example, a person is a child he experiences love passively as he receives love and care from his parents. In marriage he is called to know love in a different way, through the mutual exchange occurring between husband and wife. Finally, in becoming a parent, one is to experience unconditional love, expressed in his relations with his par children. For Divine Principle, the family was thus to be a multifaceted sphere through which each person would come to full maturity in his capacity for love. Also, since God's love is expressed primarily through human beings, the family was to be the basis for the fullest knowledge of God. In this way are family and marriage to be sacred.
Although traditional Christianity has considered marriage a sacrament through which one receives divine grace, marriage is generally not given the central position it is in Divine Principle. Mystical religion, Eastern and Western, commonly emphasizes the individual's experience and unity with God. Divine Principle proceeds to an even higher goal, transcending the individualism of the traditional mystic and embracing the potential of the family. The Principle points to the ideal of moving from I and my Father being one to I and my spouse being one, centered on God. The greater and higher goal is the loving unity of God and the family.
The Third Blessing, "Having dominion," is fulfilled when spiritually mature men and women understand and appreciate the creation as God does. The creation then would respond with beauty, abundance and a festive glow.
Divine Principle suggests that before He created the first person, God made all things in man's image. Therefore we share various qualities with the things of nature. The beauty of a rose is precious because it corresponds to the quality of beauty in ourselves. The majesty and nobility of a mountain are striking because they reflect something deep in the human spirit. Because things in the universe reflect the many aspects of man, we feel joy through the stimulation given by them.
God feels joy when his children are living joyfully. Therefore the Lord created the things of the universe to bring man joy. When a perfect individual has a productive relationship with the created world centered on God, a four-position foundation is established among God, man and the universe. The result is joy. According to the Bible, the creation eagerly awaits the revealing of the sons of God (Rom 8:199). Although we may sometimes glimpse a vision of eternal beauty in and behind creation, mankind as a whole has never realized the earth's true value, nor presided over it in a true dominion. Though man was to be the lord of creation, he has often shamefully exploited his physical resources, particularly in the modern age.
Co-creators with GodInstead of a dominion of care and love, our rule over the earth has been one of indifference and waste. In return, we have suffered from a harvest of polluted air and water, ravaged landscapes and filthy cities. Again, we have abused the environment because God's image within us has not matured. Divine Principle anticipates that as we fulfill the first blessing by uniting with God in heart, we will come to have a proper dominion over the universe. Then we will be able to co-create with God a joyful and harmonious world, the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
Although the coming of the Kingdom of God on earth was a central conviction of the Hebrew prophets, the hope has largely faded in the centuries since then. One reason for this is that after the crucifixion of Jesus, the developing Christian Church tended to focus its faith on the cross rather than on the Kingdom of which Jesus so frequently spoke. In addition, of course, the record of human history in the past 2,000 years has not given us much reason to hope for a promised world of justice and peace.
Regardless of the present situation, Divine Principle reminds us that the Heavenly Kingdom is still the central purpose of God. Indeed, for God to be God He must one day achieve His ideal. When people throughout the world fulfill their purpose of becoming united with Him, forming God-centered families and taking dominion of love over the creation, we may have hope for the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
Peace and well-beingDivine Principle, in other words, reminds us of the original purpose of God a purpose which finds clear expression in the Scriptures. The Old Testament is replete with visions of a coming age of peace and well-being. Isaiah, for example, is the author of one famous passage:
". . . they will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks, nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore." (Is 2:4)
Likewise in the New Testament Jesus stresses repeatedly the promise of the Kingdom, ultimately encouraging his disciples to pray "Thy Kingdom come Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven" (Mt. 6:10). The Apostle Paul anticipated a time when God would unite all creation, "things in heaven and things on earth" in Christ (Eph. 1:10). The writer of the book of Revelation, envisioning the ultimate triumph of goodness over evil, foresaw the day of "a new heaven and a new earth" (Rev. 12:1). Today, many people feel humanity has entered a new age and that a new day will dawn in the not-too-distant future.
What will the Kingdom be like? While Jesus gave some vague hints in his parables, comparing the Kingdom to a pearl of great price or a wedding feast, Paul tells us that we mere mortals have no way of imagining what God has planned for those who love Him (1 Cor 2:9). Indeed, the average person who has been ravaged by the sufferings of the real world cannot easily imagine such a Kingdom.
One HeartNevertheless, based on our understanding of God's original ideal, some educated guesses are possible. First of all, the Kingdom of God is a kingdom of one heart. In the words of one of the original innovators of the social gospel, Walter Rauschenbusch, the Kingdom of God implies the "reign of love in human affairs." Divine Principle would agree. In the Kingdom of God, each person would be one with God, triumphant in love. The citizen of the Kingdom would love as Christ loved. He would be a person of absolute value, living not just for himself, but for the whole world,. He would indeed be a citizen of the world.
For Divine Principle, the redeemed world is to be rooted in the family as the heart of life. The relationship between a mature man and woman would serve as the well-spring of love for their children and the larger society. Parents would be in the position of communicating God's love to their children and children would find in their parents love examples by which they could live. From such a family would come the society, nation and ultimately the world centered on a true way of life.
Also, in the Kingdom contrasting elements would find their point of harmony in God. Black and white, occidental and Oriental, believer of different faiths a saints and scholars would all, through higher truth and love, find reconciliation and harmony. To paraphrase Rauschenbusch, the reign of love would tend toward the progressive unity of mankind, while preserving individual liberty and national distinctiveness.
Since the standard of living for all members of a family is the same, Divine principle teaches that in the global family of God, the all-too-familiar disparities between industrialized and Third World nations will be eliminated. God's children are all to know health and well-being, both spiritual and materially.
For Divine Principle then, the Kingdom is no idle dream. The Principle perceives that throughout history God has sent such men as Moses and the prophets, Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius and Krishna, as teachers of the way. In His greatest effort God sent Jesus Christ.
Will the Lord let these efforts go unfulfilled? Can He allow His children to continue to suffer without end? Definitely not. As later volumes of the Divine Principle will explain, with the advent of then new Messiah God will initiate a further effort to overcome the suffering of the world and to establish His Kingdom on earth.
Obviously the world we know is hardly the world of God's ideal; indeed, the proverbial description of our earth as a "vale of tears" is not far from the mark. Let us inquire how this could come to be the case.
Observing different earthly phenomenon, we note they all exist within the realm of time. Chemists recognize that in any chemical process, for example, time must elapse before a result can occur. All backyard gardeners know a summer must pass before their tomatoes can be harvested. In the case of the formation of the earth, geologists believe it took as long as four billion years to develop to its present state.
Time is also needed for movement. Each movement has a point that it starts from, a path that it follows, and a concluding point. In the natural world, a lightening bolt reaching a speed of 87,000 miles per second still needs a beginning and an ending point, a path to follow and time to occur.
'Days' as epochsAccording to the Bible it took six days for God to complete His work. While indicating that time was integrated into God's creation, this teaching appears contradictory to the discoveries of modern sciences which emphasize the evolution of the earth over eons of time. Reconciling the two understandings, Divine Principle teaches the six days in Genesis does not mean a literal 144 hours. As we are told by the Second Letter of Peter that "with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (II Peter 3:8), so we may perhaps best understand the "six days" of creation as the ages or epochs through which God completed His creative work. The
They correspond roughly to the successive ages many scientists say the earth has passed through in its development.
The French Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin, who is well-known for his paleontological work in China, notes that when observed in terms of millions of years, life can easily be seen to move in a definite direction. While anti-religious scientists maintain that development takes place randomly, Teilhard argues that from the lowest to the highest level of the organic world there is a persistent and clearly defined thrust of animal forms toward species with more sensitive nervous systems. For both Teilhard and Divine Principle, the divine mind behind creation is working according to a plan.
States Of Growth"But you can, Jonathan. For you have learned. One school is finished, and the time has come for another to begin." , "Jonathan Livingston Seagull".
Since no one or no thing becomes mature in an instant, growth is a vital dynamic in human life. If one is to fulfill his destiny, if one is to come to full maturity in the eyes of God, he must grow through time. As with all living things, to cease to grow is to die.
While the phenomenon of growth is widely recognized, it is recently coming to be understood in new ways. What Harvard's Erik Erikson did for children, and apparently what Richard Bach did for sea gulls, Gail Sheehey has now done for adults; in her recent best seller `Passages' she had pointed out that growth never stops: There are different phases of human growth, even in adulthood, and then emergence of advanced phases depends on the successful completion of earlier ones. While Erikson has identified these phases for children and adolescents, Sheehey has begun the task of identifying them for adults. As she points out, the phenomenon of growth is a lifelong process, often precipitated by crises and difficulties.
While recognizing that there are innumerable phases of human development, Divine Principle nevertheless suggests a three-stage model as descriptive of this process. One's movement toward maturity may be thought of in terms of formation, growth and completion. During the first years of his life a child learns how to walk and talk and how to use his personality as a self-concept are established during these formative years.
As he grows older he attains most of his physical size, develops a greater measure of independence from his parents and cultivates his own circle of friends. Thus he actualizes the growth stage of his life. Reaching adulthood he not only becomes mature physically, but, ideally speaking, during this completion stage he also gains an autonomous personality and develops a mature capacity to love and work.
Since every being develops through these three general stages, Divine Principle teaches that the number three represents the state of completion.
The Dominion of God.Although most Christians tend to claim that from birth to death man is guided and governed by the strong love of a kind Heavenly Father, they also affirm, on the other hand, that man is the master of his state and the captain of his soul. There is thus a considerable tension for Christian believers between the faith that God rules ---- and the equally strong belief that man possesses free will. Resolving this paradox has been no easy task.
Divine Principle addresses this question by reference to the direct and indirect dominions of God. According to Divine Principle, God's rule over man before he reaches maturity is indirect, a relationship which can be explained by analogy to the natural world. During the period of growth each thing of the material creation operates by the autonomous power of natural law.
The snow and rain come, the seasons change and day dawns and night falls, all because of the prearranged law of nature, created by God.
God relates to immature man in a comparable way. We may say that men and women who have not reached a spiritually mature state are guided by spiritual law. Thus, the period of growth is the time of God's indirect dominion of mankind.
We should note that this indirect dominion can often be a period of difficulty and instability. Physically, if we do not live in accordance with the rules of good health we may injure or destroy our bodies. Likewise spiritually, if we ignore the principles of God, or if we engage in spiritually unhealthy activities, we are likely to suffer as a result. By aligning ourselves with God's principles and laws, we can grow to full maturity and health, both spiritually and physically. In this way our growth beyond the indirect dominion becomes possible. On the other side of the indirect dominion, we enter the direct dominion of God's love.
In the same way that plants and animals have to reach a certain level of growth before man can harvest or have full use of them, so human beings are to mature spiritually before God can "harvest" us.
Such maturity is achieved as man becomes one with God's heart; when man fully responds to God, God bestows on him His love and His power. This is called Direct Dominion.
Divine Principle teaches that the promise of the Direct Dominion is in living heart to heart with God as matured persons. In this union, God governs by love, and laws and commandments become unnecessary. Under the direct rule of God man is completely free-liberated to be who he was meant to be. Direct Dominion, therefore, should not be confused with a one-sided domination, but rather understood as a mutual loving companionship. It is the crowning jewel in one's interior life, opening immense new vistas of love, joy and beauty.
A Shared TaskIn one of the most memorable works of Feodor Dostoyevsky, the story of the Grand Inquisitor, Christ has returned to earth. He has embarked again on a ministry of healing and charity and, to his surprise, is subsequently whisked off to prison. Here he confronts the Grand Inquisitor. Christ is told he must again face death, for he is again guiding people in the wrong direction. He is leading people to freedom and self-responsibility, "fearful burdens" too great for man to bear. It is better, Christ is told, for individuals not to confront self-responsibility to the Church, they are given what they need: bread and other symbols of security.
While it is no doubt overstated, Dostoyevsky's story makes its point. There is a tendency in all of us not to take responsibility for our own lives. On occasion we would like to give that burden to God, to the church, or to any figure representing strength and authority.
Despite such tendencies, Divine Principle, with much of contemporary thought, affirms the critical role individuals must play in shaping their own destiny. we cannot pass off responsibility to someone else. Each of us is the captain of his own ship.
Of course, this is not to say that we are alone. For Divine Principle, God is on our side. There is an organic partnership between man and God. However, God's efforts on our behalf become effective only when we do our part. In the course of growth, of achieving the Direct Dominions, of building the Kingdom, God does His part and we must do ours. Until our portion is completed, God's efforts are futile. The Lord helps those who help themselves because He can only help those who help themselves.
In light of this principle certain habitual practices of Jesus become more understandable. When Jesus healed the sick he first asked if they believed in him. When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said to him, "Yes, Lord." Then he touched their eyes saying, "According to your faith be it done to you (Mt. 9:28-29)."
Faith was the condition that allowed God's healing energy to work. Without that faith, no healing was possible. Likewise Matthew tells us that Jesus promised people seeking for answers that they would find them, but urged them to first do their part.
"Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened (Mt. 7:7-8)."
If we ask why it is we have been given this portion of responsibility, two reasons suggest themselves. First, each of us is created as a child of God. We are given the freedom to make choices and the obligation to take responsibility for them. In this way God allows us to participate in the creation of our own selves. In a sense, we thus become co-creators with Him.
Secondly, Divine Principle explains that God wanted man to be lord over all the world as His representatives. However, a person can rightfully have dominion only over what he has made- and none of us made the world. Therefore, we must make some condition whereby we can become creators ourselves. By taking responsibility in our own self-creation, Divine Principle tells us, we qualify to inherit the Lord's right of dominion.
Sharing ResponsibilityNaturally, compared to the care God takes for our growth, our own responsibility is minute. The two cannot actually be compared. Nevertheless, we can figuratively say that God's portion of responsibility is 95 percent while ours is 5 percent. Five percent of the job, however, cannot be fulfilled by 5 percent effort. Even though we are responsible for only a small part of the total task, we need 100 percent effort to fulfill it.
We may say then that God is like a master stone mason building a magnificent stone wall. He has laid almost all the stones Himself, heaving just one unplaced. We are asked to lay the final block. As co-workers with God, we are then to take part in the glory of the finished product.
Because historically humankind has not fulfilled its 5 percent, God has had to wait for adequate human action. No matter how long it may take, this principle of co-responsibility has remained unchanged. We live in a world of suffering, not because God's lack of concern, but because humanity has not fulfilled its responsibility. We shape the destiny of the world by our actions, and our decisions determine not only our own success, but that of God as well.
In a very memorable scene of the popular theater, the dream sequence in Fiddler On The Roof, the cornered Tevye invokes the spirit of his wife Golde's late grandmother in order to extricate himself from a very problematic situation
The implications of this new theory with regard to the possible existence of a spiritual dimension are clear. Indeed, it is probably such a discovery as this that he has promised his Daughter to the wrong man. Tevye reports that the grandmother has come to him in a dream warning against this almost finalized match. His wife's agitated yet believing response, referring to her grandmother Tzeitel's coming all the way "from the other world" to impart her needed guidance, tells Tevye his ruse has worked.
While merely a fictional, construct acted out in the cultural setting of the Russian Jews, this scene nevertheless reveals something universal in human consciousness. From Plato and the early Greeks, through Jesus and Paul, through most African and Oriental cultures, to spiritualists of the 20th century, a belief in some kind of survival of bodily death has been unequivocally affirmed. Jesus' assertion that in his Father's house "there are many rooms," would seem to be justified by the fact that this common belief is held by such divergent peoples.
The Mount Of TransfigurationWhile many traditional believers tend to shy away from the topic, testimony to the existence of a spirit world actually permeates the Bible. Prophets such as Ezekiel and Isaiah report powerful spiritual visions, as does the writer of the book of Revelation. In the Gospels, angels speak(Lk 1:28) and on the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus talks with the long-dead Moses and Elijah.
"And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them upon a high mountain apart. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him (Mt. 17:1-3)."
Today, perhaps the most dramatic testimony to the existence of the spiritual dimension comes from those who have had what are commonly called "near death" experiences. These individuals, who were pronounced clinically dead but who were later revived, recall remarkably similar experiences while they were "dead."
While many people, if not most, are prepared to admit belief in some kind of life after death, few are willing to accept the proposition that even during our physical lifestyles we are existing in two realms at once a material one and a spiritual one. Yet this is what Divine Principle teaches. There is an invisible spiritual world that surrounds this physical one and that is inhabited by those who have passed on.
Because the two realms do inter-penetrate each other, the spirit self of a person near death can float on out of his body and then return later on. For this same reason the spirits of Moses and Elijah could appear to Jesus.
To begin to understand how we could simultaneously live in two realms and, for the most part, be unaware of it, we must remember that there are many things, even in the natural world, that exist beyond the range of our five physical senses. For example, we can't see infra-red light or x-rays, or hear sounds above or below certain frequencies. Nevertheless, x-rays and high and low frequency sound vibrations do exist. In the same way, even though we cannot perceive a spiritual world through our physical senses, it does exist all around us.
ScienceThe discoveries of modern science lend credence to this prospect. Whereas in prior times scientists thought of the material world as constructed of solid, though minute, blocks of matter, they now believe this is not the case. Rather what we think of as the material world seems to consist of invisible patterns of energy.
As Professor Raynor C. Johnson of the University of Melbourne has pointed out in The Imprisoned Splendor, "The world of hills and rocks, tables and chairs is for the ordinary unreflective man the one real world. There may have been some excuse for the materialistic philosophy of the nineteenth century which supported this, but the discoveries of modern physics rise to Albert Einstein's celebrated remark that his work was spiritual, involving the discovery of where matter ended and spirit began.
Subject And ObjectBy applying the principle of polarity, we can conclude that a counterpart to the physical world must exist. As previously stated, God created all things in subject-object relationships. Man as subject has both spirit and body; therefore, his object the world must also have a two-fold nature. Just as the physical world was created as an environment for man's physical body, so the spirit world was created as an environment for his spirit.
As man has five physical senses for perceiving the physical world, so he has five spiritual senses with which to perceive the spiritual world.
These spiritual senses make possible such experiences as those discussed above and others such as hearing voices, having prophetic dreams and seeing visions.
The spirit is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body there is a spiritual body (I Cor. 15:44). Existing in both worlds, each of us consists of both a physical self and a spiritual self. Just as the physical body and a physical mind (which functions similar to instinct in animals), in the same way man's spirit has a spirit body and a spirit mind. The spirit body is the body of the spirit self, just as the physical body is the body of the physical self. As the spiritual form is identical to that of the physical self, people are recognizable even in spirit. When Jesus saw Moses and Elijah he saw them in their spirit bodies. The spirit mind is the central part of a person's being, the source of his emotion, intellect, and will. Here our personality and self-awareness originate. Through the spirit mind God is able to communicate with us, inspire us, and guide us in our growth.
In order to survive physically, each of us needs physical nourishment. In a similar manner, Divine Principle teaches that our spiritual selves need spiritual nourishment. Such nourishment consists of two components - the "Life Elements" that come from God, which include love and truth, and the "Vitality Elements" which have their origin in the physical body.
These Vitality Elements flow from the body to the spirit as the individual lives in accordance with God's Word and acts according to the principles of service and love. As the spirit receives Vitality Elements from the body and Life Elements form God, it becomes vibrant and beautiful.
Reciprocally, our spirit selves project spirit elements to our physical bodies. A spirit filled with a divine ideal, hope and love imparts health and power to the physical self. For this reason, people filled with spiritual life often need less sleep and food, and generally have more enthusiasm about life.
The character of one's spirit self is thus dependent on the quality of his physical actions. If a person for example has wronged another, or stolen property or exploited someone weaker, he will inevitably be called to rectify such matters during the course of his spiritual growth. If one fails to right his wrongs while he is on earth, he will enter the spirit world in a damaged state. Jesus' encouragement to us to straighten out our difficulties with our fellow man before we offer our gifts at the alter (Mt 5:21) is thus not to be ignored. Heaven and Hell
But, if one neglects to do this, he will be sent to "hell"? The Principle stresses that after physical death we continue life in the spirit world at whatever level we have attained during our lifetime. No one is "sent" to heaven or hell; rather one enters the spirit world at the level of spiritual growth he has attained on earth. We are the ones who determine our destiny.
Professor Charles Whitehead, twentieth century philosopher and theologian, is reported to have once complained that too many Christians think of God in terms of an absolute, autocratic, Roman emperor. Perhaps so. In any event, a special aspect of the Divine Principle revelation is its understanding of the heart of God. For Divine Principle, God's heart is tender, sensitive - and grieving over a lost relationship of love.
Divine Principle underscores the fact that the almighty God is not only the source of energy, the origin and preserver of life, but also the Father of Heart. Man was to be one with his Creator, forming intimate relationships of father and child, friend and friend, lover and beloved, bridegroom and bride. However, as man's relations with his fellow man have been ridden with conflict, so have his relations with his Creator been badly crippled. Although He is a God of love, the Almighty God cannot express His heart of love as He wishes; He is limited by the capacity of human beings to receive and respond to it.
Judge or LoverWhile for much of the Old Testament God is portrayed as a strict judge or powerful monarch, there are nevertheless flashes of a God of tender heart and supreme sensitivity. The story of the prophet Hosea, a man whose wife was faithless is a case in point. Hosea's knowledge of his wife's infidelity, coupled with his continuing love for her, was a heart-breaking experience for the prophet.
What then must be the experience of God, Hosea asked, whose love for us is so much deeper and more sensitive? In the most profound and revealing of man's relationships, Hosea found a metaphor for the relationship between a faithful God and a faithless nation. For the prophet, his own experience became a living parable of the suffering heart of God. The truth then is that God has been hurt more than man. God feels crushed by the historic betrayal of His loved ones - as any lover would be. The injured heart of God, the suffering of the Heavenly Father, is beyond measurement and human comprehension.
It has been said that it is not so much we who seek God as it is God who seeks us. While humankind has walked a tortured and searching path through history, Divine Principle suggests that the same is true of God. The Lord's call to Adam, "Where are you?" (Gen 3:9) expresses an inquiry directed to all humanity. Ever since man's fall, God has been seeking His lost family with a grieving heart. Reflecting the difficulties of this search, Isaiah writes:
Hear, o heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has spoken:
"Sons have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its owners, and the ass its master's crib; but Israel does not know. My people do not understand." (Is 1:2)
And Hosea describes a similar situation: the more I called them, the more they went from me; they kept sacrificing to the Baal, and burning incense to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk. I too, them up in my arms, but they did not know that I healed them. (Hos 11:2)
On the other hand, alienated from God, humanity has also walked a torturous path. Separated from the love of God, humankind has hungered and thirsted in spirit. The Psalmist writes:
As a heart longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God. My tears have been my food day and night. (Ps 42:1)
Spiritual DeathFor Divine Principle, man's separation from the love and wisdom of God has prevented the human family from functioning at its optimum level. At its worst humanity's alienation from its Creator has brought spiritual death to man and has caused the sorrow and tragedy within man and the world.
Since the time of man's fall, many religions have developed in human society; to seek God through Jesus, or for that matter, through any historical religious path, is man's attempt to restore the original relationship of love with God. If man had not fallen, he would now be living in the bosom of God's love, walking with Him, creating with Him.
For Divine Principle, then, the central goal of the person who would be a mature son or daughter of God is the alleviating of the divine sorrow and the comforting of God's heart. This can be done as we realize God's hope for us, step by step fulfilling the three Blessings and doing our part toward realizing the Kingdom of God on earth. God has been longing for His children and they, like orphans, long for Him. Only when the meeting between this eager Father and these suffering children is sealed can restoration begin. The Lord is looking with great longing to the time of reunion, the day He and man can at last become one, as was the original intention. Then the great suffering of God, man and the universe will come to an end.
Home | Bibliography | Table of Contents