In Proverbs 4:7 we read, “Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.” This is telling me that while it is important to get wisdom, wisdom is not much use unless we understand wisdom. An important aspect for both our humanity and divinity is the getting of understanding.
“The awakening of our own faculty of understanding starts with questioning – questioning the old ways of thinking we may have been taken for granted, wondering about the ‘way’ and the ‘truth,’’ desiring to know – above all else, desiring to know the spiritual truth.” Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann.
Let’s see if we can turn on the Light of Understanding. In Mysteries of Genesis, Charles Fillmore wrote “Everyone has within him the light of divine understanding. Those who do not recognize that they have this inner light are thinking intellectually instead of spiritually.”
Earlier this month we celebrated NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) week, in which the focus is honouring and understanding more about the Indigenous people of our country. Why do I mention this? Because on reflection I realised that apart from a slight knowledge of some of the dreamtime stories, some of which I have used during my talks over the years, I have very little knowledge of Indigenous peoples’ culture and practices.
Growing up I was aware of their existence, and little was said about them except as I remember in negative terms. I am gradually realizing as descendants of the new arrivals in this country, we have so much to learn and it is encouraging to learn that forest management in some areas is under the direction of Aboriginal people.
During the thousands of years living in this vast land they have learned how to cool burn the forest undergrowth to prevent major bushfires which as we know has had disastrous consequences in parts of our country. They have a deep understanding of country. During NAIDOC week I thought how great it is that a whole week is devoted to learning more about what Indigenous people can share and teach the greater community if we but open our hearts to understand more about them and their culture. Of course, this like so many of our celebrations, needs to continue beyond the confines of just one week.
The power of Understanding is one of humankind’s innate abilities along with many more. In Unity we focus on our Twelve Powers as written about by Charles Fillmore. Many of you know that each of the powers is represented by one of the twelve disciples. Each power has several attributes, can be used in a positive or negative way, and each one of the faculties or powers is located in a particular body centre. Each has also been assigned a colour. Understanding is located in the front forebrain, the colour is gold and the disciple is Thomas. Understanding is the power to comprehend and interpret knowledge and make cognitive connections.
There are two types of understanding, one is intellectual and the other is spiritual. In the book Power Up Your Life, authors Bill and Cher Holton and Paul Hasselbeck wrote, “Intellectual understanding is mostly gained from the ‘school of hard knocks.’ It is subject to temptation and sometimes used for selfish ends. By combining reasoning with intellectual understanding, we are able to arrive at valid, practical conclusions.” When we have intellectual understanding, we have an awareness in the relative realm. This may be those times when we declare, “Oh, I get it.”
I was working with a class of year three children many years ago and many of the children had English as their second language. I was teaching a math concept and noticed one of the children struggling when they were given some equations to work out using the concept I had been teaching. I went to him and worked one-on-one and explained it in a slightly different way without changing the process and all of a sudden I “saw the light of understanding in his eyes” and he was able to comprehend the process and to continue working on his own. He had a desired to get the correct answers to the math questions, and with some help he was able to use his power of understanding.
Mathematics uses principles and once we understand the principles we can use that knowledge to solve other mathematics problems. This is intellectual understanding. We all have the ability to understand and know how to use our experience and arrive at practical conclusions.
Ideally once we know and understand our true nature, that we are fully human and fully divine, we will endeavour to turn the light of understanding to positive use in our lives. When we have a desire to know we may ask questions of others, we may attend classes, or we may teach ourselves from books. Today we can use videos and YouTube for instruction on almost anything.
Many years ago my father wanted to build a solar water heater – something he had never done before. He spent time reading many books on the subject and from his book knowledge he turned on the light of intellectual understanding to build the water heater. Of course, he had to comprehend the book learning to then put it into practice. Dad used his powers of Will and Wisdom as well as his Love for creating. Did he make mistakes? I’m sure he made several. His will to succeed motivated him to persevere. He had a clear understanding of what he desired to achieve; a desire to understand is a very important companion to turning on the light of understanding. His heater was very successful.
So these are examples of the way we use our power of understanding in the relative realm and yet our divine nature was involved in both examples without the realization of that aspect of the self being involved. So how does spiritual understanding differ?
In their book Power Up Your Life the authors wrote, “Spiritual understanding is gained by investing time in the Silence. It results from the quickening of our Spiritual Nature, which is our Divine Nature. This type of knowledge sometimes includes, and always transcends intellectual understanding. This knowing comes swiftly and arises outside of the reasoning process. It comes as an internal knowing, or perhaps a still small voice that may seem more like the reflection or echo of something we have heard and/or forgotten.”
Again, we may exclaim, “Oh, I get it.”
Thomas, the disciple who represent understanding was often referred to as doubting Thomas. Why? Because the Gospel writers portray him asking many questions. He demonstrated a desire to know at a deep level that which he heard Jesus speak, but he didn’t understand. He demonstrated a desire and willingness to believe in those things even though he did not always understand what Jesus meant – so he asked questions. By understanding, truly understanding the message he was able to develop an understanding faith as well as his faculty of understanding.
What I have found is that a deep desire to know, the will to understand, to explore, question and then use my power of wisdom to release that which does not feel right for me, helps me on my spiritual journey. This has resulted in my reading many books, attending classes and talks, watching videos and teaching what I also am learning.
Teaching has been a wonderful way for me to examine my own inner convictions, beliefs and practices and learn along the way. More often than not I realise I have gained an intellectual understanding of the spiritual teachings before I REALLY get it and know something at a deep level – that I know that I know.
Spiritual understanding comes from knowing and using spiritual laws and principles. Just as with mathematics it’s about understanding the principles or laws that stand under every aspect of life. When we turn on the light of spiritual understanding we are in effect turning on our own internal light of our potential.
Emilie Cady wrote in Lessons In Truth, “When you first consciously desire spiritual understanding, you do not attain it at once… we begin our journey toward understanding by cutting off the branches of our selfishness. We try to love instead of to hate, instead of avenging ourselves, we begin to forgive, even if it costs us great mental effort. We begin to deny envy, jealousy, anger, sickness, and all imperfection, and to affirm love, peace, and health.”
Charles Fillmore taught that spiritual understanding is the ability of the mind to apprehend and realize the laws of thought and the relation of ideas one to another.
Winifred Wilkinson-Hausmann writes, “In awakening the understanding, it is good to remember that there is another center which represents this attribute: the part of the body that stands under the whole – the feet… We must have the spiritual understanding that lifts us above the world, but also we must develop the base that enables us to relate to our world in a spiritual way.”
Of course, I must mention the importance of prayer and meditation to shine the light of understanding within. Spending time in meditation gives us the opportunity to open our heart and mind to the still, small voice of our Divine Nature and a deeper inner knowing of Truth.
In closing, I share with you words Your God Given Potential by Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann. “Awakening the faculty of understanding in a spiritual way is an activity that will change not only your way of thinking, but also your way of life. Be prepared for this as you question, study, and even pass the level of prophecy to go onto greater discoveries of Truth. There is a Spirit in you that has all the answers. Trust it as you proceed in an orderly, harmonious, loving way to unfold this faculty.”
Talk by Rev. Phyllis Grace at Reflections of Truth on 18th July 2021