“When spirit rises and commands, the gods are ready to obey.”
—James Allen, in As a Man Thinketh
Ernest Holmes explained the three aspects of existence in his monumental work The Science of Mind. In his description, conscious mind, or “Spirit,” decides and envisions what is to be, while subjective mind, or “Law,” receives this direction and brings about the envisioned circumstances as an expression in the physical world, or “Body.”
Spirit imagines, desires, and directs; Law receives and acts; and Body expresses. This view of the Trinity lies at the very core of Holmes’ philosophy and in many ancient wisdom teachings.
The “gods,” as typified in the quote above and in myths throughout human history, are the natural laws or forces which together form the “Law,” collectively bringing about the desires of the constantly-visualizing Spirit. We might imagine them as agents or aspects of the Divine, from our point of view, and also as psychological principles that apply to the ongoing flow of our own life experiences from the inside out.
These functions have been labeled and personified variously as “gods,” “archetypes,” “archangels,” and so on. These agents’ consistency of action and purpose might give them the appearance of personality or character to those who become aware of them, and so people’s visualization of them throughout history as figures or beings is easy to understand.
(I am not describing demons, ghosts, or other beings that might occupy a lower level of what we think of as the “spiritual” world. These beings, if they exist, are not agents of the Divine but beings like us, with their own agendas.)
As it turns out (as we Western humans are just now beginning to re-learn after a 2,000-year detour through the spiritual Dark Ages), the “gods” are the servants of men. As agents or facets of the Divine principle of Law, they do what they’re told: they bring about what Spirit (conscious mind) desires and impresses upon them through thought. This includes the desires of humans, who are individualized expressions of that same conscious mind or Spirit on this physical plane.
During billions of years of development in the physical universe, the workings of conscious mind were not visible. Conscious mind was something like what we usually think of as God: the invisible First Cause behind All That Is, whose will the Law brings forth into reality even while the Cause Itself remains hidden amidst the physical universe which is Its Self-expression.
Since the rise of humans from the ranks of advanced life forms, however, Spirit has finally developed—from within an organism!—the ability to affect reality in the same creative fashion that has always operated behind the scenes. Law expresses through (non-human and human) life as instinct, while Spirit expresses through (human) life as insight, intuition, and creative power—thought.
Perhaps the defining characteristic of humans is that we are uniquely capable of forming thoughts that do not conform to reality and then believing them to be true, or possible, which then makes them real in our experience. For example, if people think “the gods” are superior to themselves (as most people do), then the gods (as agents of Law, remember) will submit to the will of conscious mind (in us) and act as if it really were true. They will respond to that thought-direction and bring about circumstances that make them appear to be superior to that person.
Law always follows the direction of Spirit (conscious mind), and as long as the individual is willing to entertain incorrect thoughts about life, his thoughts will continue to be confirmed in his experience as “the gods” follow his thought-directions. In this way, his whole existence (even if it has to be filtered through a lie) confirms the thing that he really believes and thinks about life.
If, however, people awaken to the fact of their creative power over these forces—forces they might never have been aware of before now—they can make the gods dance in their favor if that’s what they desire. As Holmes said himself, “We should control the subjective and not let it control us.”
As expressions of conscious mind, then, it might be helpful for us to realize that we command the gods.