LOVE AND THE SELF: Will and Understanding

We have two abilities that make up our life, one called will and the other understanding. They are distinguishable, but they are created to be one. When they are one, they are called the mind; so they are the human mind, and it is there that the entirety of our life is truly to be found.

Just as all things in the universe (those that agree with the divine design) trace their origin back to goodness and truth, so everything in us traces its origin back to our will and understanding. This is because whatever good we have depends on our will and whatever truth we have depends on our understanding. These two faculties, these twin living parts of us, receive and are acted upon by what is good and true: our will receives and is acted upon by everything that is good, and our understanding receives and is acted upon by everything that is true. Goodness and truth can be found nowhere else in us but in these faculties. Furthermore, since they are not to be found anywhere else, neither are love and faith, since love and goodness are mutually dependent, and similarly faith and truth.

Now, since everything in the universe traces its origin back to goodness and truth and everything in the church traces its origin back to the good that love does and the truth that our faith understands, and since we are human because of will and understanding, the theology [I am now presenting] deals with will and understanding as well. Otherwise we could have no clear concept of them, no solid foundation for our thinking.

Will and understanding also form the human spirit, since they are where our wisdom and intelligence are found; or, to state it in general terms, they are our life’s own true dwelling.

The body, by contrast, is simply a thing that follows orders.

There is no knowledge more relevant than knowing how our will and understanding make one mind. They make one mind the way goodness and truth make a single reality. There is the same kind of marriage between will and understanding as there is between goodness and truth. That is, an instance of goodness is the actualizing of something, and truth is the manifestation of the thing that is actualized. In the same way, it is through our will that our lives are actualized, and it is through our understanding that our actualized life becomes manifest to us. This is because any instance of goodness that comes from our will takes form in our understanding and manifests itself [to our apprehension] there.

People who are focused on what is good and true have both will and understanding, while people who are focused on what is evil and false do not have will or understanding. Instead of will they have craving, and instead of understanding they have mere information. Any genuine human will is receptive to goodness, and any genuine human understanding is open to truth. This means that will cannot be associated with anything that is evil and understanding cannot be associated with anything that is false—because these things are opposites, and opposites are mutually destructive. That is why anyone who is focused on something evil and therefore on what is false cannot be called rational, wise, or intelligent. Then too, the deeper levels of our minds are closed when we are evil, and those levels are where our will and understanding principally reside.

We assume that we have will and understanding even when we are evil because we say that we are willing things and understanding them, but our “willing” in that case is nothing but craving and our “understanding” is mere information.

from Regeneration, Pages 3-4

Notes:

The first two paragraphs were published 3/30/2016

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