The Word Foundation


Harold W. Percival



Section 6

Duties of a human being. Responsibility. Conscience. Sin.

The human has duties to nature, to his breath-form, to his Triune Self, to the Intelligence from whom the Triune Self receives its Light, and to the Supreme Intelligence.

The duties to nature are, to nature in the human body and to nature outside. While nature-matter is in the human body it is the doer’s duty to improve it so that the nature-matter becomes conscious in higher degrees. In most of this improvement, as that through the progression of the nature units in the body, the doer in the human is unconscious, but senses a duty to keep the body whole, sound and clean; this includes the duty to care for the four beings which are the four senses. To outside nature the human has the duties to worship it according to the religion into which he is born or which he chooses, and to be true to that religion while he believes in it; to worship, pay tribute to and to nourish a nature god or the nature gods, so long as the human believes him or them to be the source of his being. This is the case chiefly while the doer is in the stage of the run of human beings. When the human advances he has the duty to see and understand nature in his own body.

The duty of the human to his breath-form begins when he discovers that nature and the nature gods are not the source of his being. The duty is to restore his breath-form to the Realm of Permanence so that it will take its place in the Eternal Order of Progression when his Triune Self becomes an Intelligence.

The duties of the doer in a human to its Triune Self are to learn what the three parts of the Triune Self are, as doer, thinker and knower, and what their proper relation is, and not to allow itself to be lost into nature. The doer must learn the nature and functions of itself as feeling-and-desire, of the thinker as rightness-and-reason, and of its knower as I-ness-and-selfness. Feeling must be kept sensitive, so that it may receive accurately impressions from nature and from the other parts of the Triune Self. Desire must be restrained so as not to strive against rightness-and-reason. Thus rightness should be made safe against the pressure of desire. Rightness should receive the respect due it for showing the standard of what is right, and reason should receive the reverence due it as the guide of the doer in the human who should learn to communicate with rightness-and-reason. The human should revere the I-ness of his knower as his unchanging identity, and the selfness of his knower as his Self-knowledge and as his bringer and dispenser of Light of the Intelligence. It is the duty of doer-in-the-body to distinguish itself as that which is not the body with a name, but as desire-and-feeling in the body, and to adjust each to the other towards a final balanced union.

The duties of the doer in the human to the Intelligence are to recognize it as its Conscious Light, as different from nature, as the source of the Light that is in the Triune Self. The human should preserve the Light and not lose it into nature. One should try to become conscious of the Light and to be conscious of the Intelligence through the Light of the Intelligence. The duty of the human to the Supreme Intelligence is to become conscious of it through the Light of the Intelligence which gives its Light to the Triune Self. When these duties are comprehended they will be done as naturally as are the bodily duties of eating and drinking and bathing and breathing and sleeping, and as gladly as one communicates with those whom he respects and loves.

Responsibility is closely connected with duty. A man’s duty, the decree of the law of thought, is measured by his responsibility and this is based on his standard of right, his appreciation of right and wrong, that is, on the amount of knowledge of what is morally right or wrong which he has acquired through the doer-in-the-body. A man is responsible to the degree of his knowledge in a given situation and of his ability to perform the duties of that situation. The law of thought centers upon the doer of the Triune Self. Under that law is made the advance of the human or by that law he is cast into nature and imprisoned as a “lost” doer portion.

What the human has become conscious of as morally right or wrong, finds its expression as conscience which is man’s knowledge of his departure from what he knows is right for him, that is, his duty. In any given case, his duty to do or not to do, to suffer or not to suffer, is shown to him by his conscience. If he thinks about doing what he knows to be a positive wrong, his conscience will tell him “Don’t.” If he is in doubt about the rightness of his doing or not doing, suffering or not suffering, conscience will advise him as he keeps on thinking.

Conscience will never show the way, nor will it give an explanation, but it will say: “Do not” or “No” as often as necessary to let him find the way. He must find the way himself through the maze of life. Conscience will protect him from going wrong by telling him whenever he is about to do so. That is enough. His conscience makes him responsible. His conscience will speak, whether he listens or not. He must listen to the voice, if he wants to know. The voice of conscience becomes the balancing factor in thoughts which are conceived or entertained and issued notwithstanding the warning.

Thoughts against which conscience does not warn make no destiny. In them the balancing factor, which is conscience, is satisfied at once by the issuing of the thought. It ends when its design is exteriorized. Intending to violate one’s duty, conscience and responsibility, is sin and will be exteriorized in a sinful act or omission. Sin originates in ignorance, that is, a man’s act is a sin not because he does not know better but because he does what he knows to be wrong. Acts done without knowing that they are wrong, are not sins, though harmful results may follow, as where one poisons another accidentally, or unintentionally causes him to fall under a train. If these acts are done with the intent of producing the result, they are sins; if not, they are done in ignorance. The difference under the law that demands that adjustment be made lies in the fact that in the second case conscience does not warn and no duty is violated; but in the first, responsibility attaches. The ignorance out of which sins originate is different from that which causes ignorant action. The ignorance from which sin springs is due chiefly to obstinate prejudices and one’s refusal to see his own mistakes.

A man may sin in various ways. He sins first in thinking, and then the thought is exteriorized as a physical sin. There are sins against bodies and against doers, his own or those of others. Further, there are sins against outside nature and against his own Intelligence and the Supreme Intelligence.

Sins against one’s own body are all acts or omissions by which its well-being and usefulness are interfered with; as, sexual sins, overfeeding or eating unwholesome food, drunkenness, uncleanliness, not taking care of one’s eyes, teeth or any part, not attempting to cure disease once it is noticed, inflicting a physical injury and murder of one’s own body.

Some of these sins, like injury and murder, may be inflicted also directly upon the body of another. However, many more sins, which will demand a serious discipline and retribution, are inflicted indirectly upon the bodies of others. Such sins are the manufacture or sale of adulterated foods and drinks and of narcotics, sins of indifference, or extortions which cause poverty, overcrowding, disease and indecency in miserable dwellings, sins of employers who do not provide safe and sanitary places to work, and who pay insufficient wages. These sins, too, may be chargeable to those who are not directly interested as employers but are their agents, and to persons in public office, through whose connivance such conditions are allowed to exist. Revolutionists who fish in troubled waters also belong here. In the same way the people at large are responsible if they know of such facts and do not do what they can to remedy conditions by which sins against the body are committed. In this way a community as well as its party politicians may commit sins, as by permitting abuse of convicts or by allowing rivers and lakes to be polluted by sewage or by not insisting upon laws to compel sanitary food, dwellings and travel.

The physical body is the house of the doer and should become the temple of the Triune Self; into a physical body are solidified the four elements and the beings in them. Matter and beings travel in the body and are there affected by the conditions in which it exists and then are transformed, transmuted, etherealized and go back into the kingdoms of physical nature. In a human body the four great spheres are together and there they may be affected. In a human physical body the Great Universe and all its many beings can be brought together and focused. Therefore by sins against a human body, one’s own or another’s, nature is more directly affected than by any other sins of man.

Sins against the Triune Self are giving free rein to one’s desires and appetites, in disregard of what one senses or knows to be wrong. The desires may be for physical enjoyments, as overeating or laziness, or for psychic enjoyments, as sensuality or pleasure generally, or they may be for mental enjoyments as ambition, arrogance and selfishness generally.

There are sins against the thinker. They are the denial of the existence of the Light of the Intelligence, the intentional shutting out the Light so that one may remain in desired darkness. Then there are the sins against the doer of another. These are the encouragement or seduction or coercion of him to acts or indulgences that are sins against his Triune Self. Sins against the thinker of another are keeping him in darkness, shutting out the Light of his Intelligence for him, preventing him from reaching out for knowledge and generally seducing or forcing him to do or suffer sins against his own thinker, as by encouraging infantile belief, lying, perjury and otherwise acting against his conscience.

One commits a sin against his Intelligence by denying the existence of that Intelligence. The intentional shutting out of the Light of the Intelligence may appear in the form of bigotry, as the refusal to think about or examine religious problems, or as the clinging to an ancestral creed when one has outgrown it, or because of mental laziness. As conscience is the knowledge in the doer of its contemplated departure from what is its standard of right, the stifling of conscience is a crime against the Intelligence. Lying, which is the intentional statement of a falsehood, and perjury, which is a similar statement after a solemn invocation of the deity, are crimes against the Intelligence because they flout its Light. Though a liar is often a clear thinker, yet he blurs his own thinking and dims the Light that is in his atmosphere, because only to the degree that one sees a lie to be true can one lie most successfully and influence others. Though a lie is known to be a lie, it nevertheless beclouds the mental outlook of him who utters it.

Sins against nature may be sins against nature or sins against nature gods. The sins against nature are committed by sinning against one’s own body or the body of another. The matter circulating through human physical bodies is affected, improved or vitiated, while under the influence of the Light that is with the portions of doers inhabiting them.

It is a sin against the Supreme Intelligence to deny that there is law and order in the Universe. If one is not sufficiently enlightened to believe in the Supreme Intelligence, that is no sin; but every one has enough knowledge to believe in some kind of a God or an Intelligence. Whatever God a man worships as the author of his being and intelligence, by that form he worships the Supreme Intelligence, the highest source of his conscience, duty and responsibility.

Sins, here put into these classes, are a disturbance of order, and an adjustment follows automatically. The adjustment originates inside of the man, and at once provides in the thought itself the balancing factor, and causes exteriorizations in events on the physical plane until a balance is made to the satisfaction of conscience. This satisfaction is at the same time sufficient for universal adjustment and the tendency to maintain order in the Great Universe.

True repentance is the recognition of having done wrong, coupled with the will to compensate by doing or suffering to adjust and to do one’s duty. Forgiveness of sin can be had only from one’s conscience and only at the completion of the compensation, that is agreement, which must inevitably have been made in all four atmospheres. Salvation is being free from the consequences of continued exteriorizations flowing out of all sinful thoughts. It can only be the result of adjustment. This is the meaning of the doctrines of repentance, forgiveness of sins and salvation.