The Realm of the Intellectual


This is the realm of the Christ, the Word, who puts the will of God into terms of human thought. Mental processes are uniquely human as Christ was human. They are also divine as pure ideas as Christ was divine.

The Realm of Mind, Symbols, and Wealth

The intellectual realm includes our mind and the thoughts we have. While we don’t control our bodies, we do have greater control over our thoughts. Since our thoughts take the form of words, this is also the realm of symbols. Christ taught in symbols because that is all languages are: a set of symbols.

Symbols are artificial representations of things, not the things themselves. Ideas are symbols for things, not the things themselves. Christ taught that we perceive the world in symbols because we are limited in our ability to perceive reality directly. We can see the physical world, but we cannot see the processes that control it. We cannot see the spiritual world at all. Ideas help us understand what we cannot see.

From our personal perspective, we each live in our own mental world. We share the physical world, but our thoughts are our own, known only to ourselves and God. Our thoughts determine our actions, which is what people can see.

Our products are our ideas in physical form. Christ does not include them in the natural world because they are artificial and therefore arbitrary. The inclusion of our products in the intellectual world is a very important and unique aspect of Christ’s teaching. We value artificial things not just on their utility, like we value bread and water because they sustain life. We value artificial things because they encapsulate ideas. The most important ideas captured in the artificial world are ideas concerned power and wealth.

Wealth and power are included as part of the intellectual realm. They are not part of the emotional realm of relationships nor are they part of physical reality. Wealth and power are artificial constructions. They are ideas. They may or may not be based on physical reality or relationships. Gold is not needed because it is physically necessary. It is valuable because people think it is valuable. A ruler is a ruler because people think that he has power. Wealth and power are ideas.

Christ does NOT condemn wealth and power as such. They are worldly forms of achievement. I don’t say success, because the word is too intangible. Christ talks about real, tangible success in the form of possessions. The ultimate power and wealth, after all, belongs to God. Most of Christ’s parables have rich men and kings symbolizing God. Christ ties wealth and power to mind and wisdom. This is not a condemnation of wealth and power but a recognition that it takes wisdom to be successful in life.

Symbolized by Property, Products, Fire, “Demons,” and Hearing

In the Gospels, the intellectual realm and our thoughts are symbolized by property and produce.

Fruit trees, flocks, fields, warehouses of grain, and treasure are all forms of property that Christ uses as symbols for the realm of the mind. Trees are particularly important in demonstrating the role of the mind in the cycle of life. The ownership of property is an idea, but it is not an idea that Christ condemns (except when people get stuck on it.) Ownership and responsibility for property are usually discussed in positive terms. Like all good ideas, we can use it to understand God and our relationship with God. God is described as a property owner in many of Christ’s parables. In this sense, Christ was what some might call a “materialist.” Property is necessary for creating produce and products.

Christ distinguishes between produce, which are needed to sustain life and part of the natural, physical realm, and products, which are part of the intellectual realm. Bread, fruit, and meat are produce. Products include wine, clothing, treasure, and buildings. Again, Christ does not condemn products. However, he draws a clear line between what is necessary and what is nice, necessities and luxuries. Both can be good, but it is important to clearly separate one from the other if we are to make useful judgments.

The intellectual world is symbolized by the element of fire. The association of fire with judgment is not arbitrary, but it is almost always misses Christ’s point. Fire is used for production. The term for furnace that Christ uses is specifically the oven used to cook bread and make bricks. Fire creates bread, bricks, and metal. Judgment can involve punishment, but judgment itself is a mental ability. Christ says that the Father gives him the power of judgment. Of course, God gives us all the power of judgment. Christ equate poor judgment with punishment, but also with the transforming power of fire: taking something worthless and making it useful.

Christ also symbolizes the the intellectual world with demons, but this idea, like the idea of fire, gets lost in translation. In Greek, daimôn means “gods,” “goddesses,” “the power to control destiny,” and “understanding.” In Christ’s view, the “gods” and “goddesses” of the world, along with most of the demons that handicap us, are mental constructions. If that form of “demon” is the dark site of our mental abilities, our ability to control our destiny and understand things is the light side.

Christ also symbolized the intellectual world through our sense of hearing. Words are sounds and symbols. Sight symbolized the physical world. Feeling symbolizes the world of relationships. Invisibility symbolizes the spiritual world.

Christ uses stories in the Old Testament of Solomon to personify the intellectual world. Solomon uniquely combined wisdom, power, and wealth.

A Part of the Cycle of Spirit, Body, and Relationships

Some aspects of intellectual world such as ideas are more permanent than our bodies in the physical world. However, our thoughts, wealth, and power are all described as temporary. Property persists, but its ownership is temporary. As with all the other aspects of life, our problems arise when we get stuck on the intellectual world.

It is important to understand that Christ talks about “good” and “evil” in the sense of what is worthwhile and what is useless. The utility of thought is that it leads to action. Action creates products, which again part of the intellectual world. What we produce can live long after we do. In the Parable of the Good and Bad Seeds, Christ makes it clear that we are judged by what we produce. Our worthless products are destroyed by the cycle of life while our good products are reproduced. We are judged or “made dirty” by what comes out of us. As Christ said, this depends on what is inside of us.

Our mental abilities are part of a cycle. Our intellectual orientation can be either the good tree that produces good fruit or the “bad tree” that produces bad fruit. Our intellectual qualities depend on the seed, that is, the spirit behind them, and the emotion that drives them. Our mental abilities both arise from the body and are used to sustain the body. The arise from our relationships and they sustain (or destroy) our relationships.