Horizontal Thinking and Vertical Thinking


Well, friends, it is Holy Week once again...  Rev. Charline Manuel mentioned Unity minister and author Ernest Wilson, and his book The Week That Changed The World in her wonderful Sunday message, which you can view HERE.  Through your dynamic spiritual gift of Wisdom, this can be a week - NOW can be a moment - to change your world.  Many thanks to Rev. Charline for her inspiring call to spiritual action.

This Holy Week, I invite you to consider the cross, as we explore a deeper meaning within this sacred symbol of Christianity.  As has been told for over 2,000 years, on the day we call Good Friday, Jesus was crucified on a hill, called "Golgotha" in Hebrew, or "Calvary" in Latin... which means the "place of the Skull," after having been ordered to carry the cross there, traveling on foot.  There are many metaphysical implications within this account.

Charles Fillmore, in his Keep A True Lent, has this to say about the period between Good Friday and Easter:

The word crucifixion means the crossing out in consciousness of certain errors that have become fixed states of mind; it is the enactment by a master of the final extinction of carnal mind, the giving up of the whole personality in order that the Christ Mind may be expressed in all its fullness. This is represented by the crucifixion of Jesus.

Calvary means “the place of a skull.” The carnal mind has appropriated the brain and its skull and it is here that the final battle is fought. Every time we give up error there is a crucifixion.

The three days Jesus was in the tomb represent the three steps in overcoming error. First, nonresistance; second, the taking on of divine activity, or receiving the will of God; third, the assimilation and fulfillment of the divine will.

In Unity, we often speak of the power of thought as a creative force.  Truly we create our experience of Life through the activity of our thinking.  What Mr. Fillmore refers to above as the "carnal mind" is our inability to see beyond what appears on the surface - when we think from this perspective, the body is all there is to us, and so we identify with it - e.g., "I am so exhausted," "I'm in good/bad shape," "I'm sick"; we identify with the realm of the material - "I am this [house, job, vehicle, relationship]."  This is what we'll call "horizontal thinking."

On the other hand, our power of Wisdom - that is, spiritual discernment - tells us, through prayer, meditation, study, and certainly listening to our "still, small voice," or intuition, that there is something higher at work, that there is something deeper than what appears on the surface.  There is a Wisdom within you that knows, beyond intellectual or cerebral reasoning, that something wondrous is at work, even if you can't exactly pinpoint what it is.

What it is, of course, is the realm of the spiritual, which precedes and undergirds everything we encounter in the realm of the physical (by way of the "five senses").  Now, as Paul writes in Philippians 2, "Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus."  This means to recognize that you are not simply a body that possesses things and is reactive to events.  No, no, no!  You are a Child of God, made in God's image/likeness.  You are a being of pure Spirit, whose nature is to create.  You have the dynamic Power, God-given, within you to control your own mind, to direct your thoughts.  When we think from this perspective of the Christ Mind, then we are engaging in "vertical thinking."

"But," I can practically hear you saying, "... while we may be spiritual beings, we still have to live in this world, with its challenges, its problems, other people and their acts.  We still have physical challenges, health challenges, job and/or relationship losses, war, disease, famine, politics, the economy..." and on and on and on.  Okay, point taken.  And yes, we do live in a world, we do have bodies, which require maintenance and regular care, mainly through exercise and diet.  We also require the spiritual nourishment of prayer, meditation, education, community interaction - loving, caring, sharing with like-minded people (via ministry / fellowship), so that we may go out into our daily affairs, meeting others who aren't "of like mind" with compassion and understanding.  This is a kind of thinking, living, and being where horizontal and vertical meet.  A centered state of consciousness.  This is what Jesus represents for us.  He is our primary model for who can show up to be in this world.  He said, "In the world you have tribulation.  But, be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

We interpret that passage to mean that He wasn't speaking from the ego, saying, "I, Jesus of Nazareth, have overcome the world..."  A misinterpretation of statements such as these may have been why the religious scholars, practicing what they believed to be the righteous way, in accordance with the Mosaic law of the Holy Lands at that time, sacrificed Him, cursed Him, and crucified Him.  It is said that they believed Jesus was proclaiming Himself to be a king, with a desire to overthrow the country and its government.  Again, if He were speaking from the ego, then perhaps their charges may have been justified.  He was not.  In our New Thought teaching, we believe Jesus was speaking from the "I AM" nature, the "Father within," or as we call it, The Christ - in other words, that part of Him (and of all of us) that is beyond human want and the willfulness of the ego, or personality.  The Christ within is our Individuality, our Divine Self.

To live from the Center, we "cross out" error thinking and live from that state of Christ Consciousness.  Material consciousness, body consciousness - all the "error thoughts" generated in that carnal mind Fillmore refers to - are overcome.  This is not to say, "Well, I'm centered and above all that messy stuff 'down there' in their 'lower' consciousness, so I don't care."  Certainly not - if such thoughts enter into our minds, we can be sure such thoughts are nothing more than "new wine in old wineskins," in other words, the ego (or the "mask" of personality) donning new designer threads and "bling," disguising and deceiving its way back into the forefront of our minds, where it thinks it belongs, and "Boom!"  We're right back in error again.  

To think from the Center of us means that we are filled with love, compassion, and a sense of "perfect peace" that can only come from within.  We can respond to the world's challenges, taking spiritual social action, without allowing reactivity to drag us down and eat away at us, without immersing ourselves and our identities in being a victim, a commiserator, or a savior.  Our reactions to what we see on the news, or hear about through the gossip mills, become opportunities - not to say, "Tsk, tsk, tsk," or "Ain't it awful," but to pray.  When we merge the horizontal with the vertical in our thinking, we live, love, and serve from the Wisdom that we can be "in the world, but not of it."

Charles Fillmore, elsewhere in Keep A True Lent, said:

Prayer does not change God–it changes us. Sincere desire is a form of prayer. Deep desire is essential for spiritual growth. It is desire–earnest, intense desire–that draws the whole being up out of mortality and its transient joys into the power to appreciate and receive real spiritual blessings. This is a demonstration, the proving of a Truth principle in one’s body and affairs. It is the manifestation of an ideal when its accomplishment has been brought about by one’s conformity in thought, word, and act, to the creative principle of God...  To this end I affirm: “It is not I, ‘but the Father abiding in me doeth his works.'”

So, the next time you, or a fellow Truth student, says "Stay centered!" I invite you to think of that image of the cross, with its horizontal and vertical beams, and Christ at the center.  Remember that you have that Power of Wisdom within you, at your Center, to discern the horizontal from the vertical, to "cross out" error thinking, and to truly be the Light of the World.


Daryn L. Wells