Abstract Principle

Abstract is defined as “existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence; dealing with ideas rather than events; not based on a particular instance; theoretical; denoting an idea, quality, or state of being rather than a concrete object.”(WAD). A principle is “a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning; a rule or belief governing one’s behavior; morally correct behavior and attitudes; a fundamental source or basis of something; a fundamental quality determining the nature of something.”(OED).

As opposed to concrete, abstract means “withdrawn or separated from matter, from material embodiment, from practice, or from particular examples." An abstract is the epitome of some state of being, its ideal in Platonic philosophy. In chemistry, the term abstract was once used to describe the distillation of an essence.

“Abstract principles are not discernible by the senses.”

To think in the abstract is to separate the idea, the mental conception, apart from its physical embodiment. Defining a thing in its concrete or material reality is easier than describing it as an abstract idea. For example, to discuss the meaning of the idea of liberty is far different and more difficult than discussing its creator’s embodiment of that ideal as the Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island.

To say that abstract thinking is based on general ideas rather than on real things, people or events tells us little of value in understanding it, so we resort to comparing and contrasting the differences between the abstract and the concrete. The abstract always deals with the quality of some idea or ideal rather than its quantity or the various measurements of its forme.g. its dimensions, weight or volume. You may recognize that a thing is beautiful, but can you measure what beauty is? Pure mathematics comes closest with, for instance, pi (π, 3.1415…) and phi (φ, 1.618…) the golden mean, the ideal moderate position between two extremes.

Here we interject the idea of the Creation descending from the supernal Light into formLight ⇒ color ⇒ tone ⇒ number ⇒ form (also called name, which is the designator of specific forms). “And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.”—Genesis 2:19. Name describes form; the true name of a thing reveals its formula of expression. Herein lies a great mystery to ponder; there is no single answer, but many degrees of rightness, alignment or congruity with ultimate, absolute truth.

Abstract principles include the good, the beautiful and the true, desire, mind, thinking, imagination, honor, justice, and compassion, etc., to name but a few. Abstract ideas include such intangibles as moral values, ethics, integrity, loyalty, courage, glory, among a multitude more. Jesus said, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?”—John 18:37-38. On the Via Christa, we follow Jesus the Christ, and persevering, eventually we will have followed him all the way Home. As he did, each of us must bear witness to the truth that is in us.

All abstract principles are ultimately rooted in an emanation of LightWisdom, Love or the Logosand each designates a particular state of being. The Light itself contains all the potentials of reality, including other absolute principles, all of which are possibilities as aspects of the Godhead. Every facet of Creation expresses some absolute abstract ideal, lowered one or more degrees in its rate of vibration. For example, absolute Love becomes divine substance, the stuff of creation, when the Godhead exerts it, and relative desire or faith when you, the embodied soul, express it. One principle always hinges on another because Light is the Source of all that is; thus, using one principle without involving others is virtually impossible.

To say something is abstract means that it exists in thought or as an idea, but has no physical or concrete existence. Thus, abstract principles are intangible, not discernible by the senses. You may ask, how does this apply to me? What does it mean for me? Every soul eventually wakes up and asks these or similar questions: What is the meaning of life? Who am I? What am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose for being here? What am I supposed to do here? Where should I go? How do I get there?

Unless you become a good critical thinker, you will never arrive at the answers you seek. Hearing or reading someone else’s answers is not first hand soul knowing and will satisfy you only temporarily. You develop and hone your thinking skills by using your mental faculties of logic, reason, discernment, discrimination, and discretion. A good critical and theoretical thinker has a strongly developed mental faculty of abstract reasoning. To pursue the beauty of abstract thinking, you must enter the golden silence. You can, must and eventually will see that you now have a mental map, a plan, and the first action steps for your journey home to God.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”—Philippians 4:8. Edna Lister personally introduced me to the thrilling adventure of becoming a pioneering mystic in 1971, and as all those who followed and lived her teachings, I remain honor-bound to do the same.

—Linda Mihalic, Via Christa site editor.

Abstract Principles

Action » Learn more »

Action and Reaction » Learn more »

Beauty » Learn more »

Color » Learn more »

Energy » Learn more »

Equilibrium » Learn more »

Eternity » Learn more »

Name » Learn more »

Number » Learn more »

Order » Learn more »

Peace » Learn more »

Poise » Learn more »

Time » Learn more »

Tone » Learn more »

Truth » Learn more »

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Edna Miriam Lister
1884 – 1971
The original Christian Pioneering Mystic,
Platonist philosopher, American Idealist, Founder, Society of the Universal Living Christ, minister, teacher, author, wife, and mother.

Edna Lister

Etymology of abstract: Middle English: from Latin abstractus, literally ‘drawn away’, past participle of abstrahere, from ab- ‘from’ + trahere ‘draw off’.

Etymology of principle: Late Middle English: from Old French, from Latin principium ‘source’, principia (plural) ‘foundations’, from princeps, princip- ‘first, chief’.


The Compact Edition of The Oxford English Dictionary: 2 volumes. Oxford University Press, 1971.

Harper, Douglas. The Online Etymology Dictionary.

The Holy Bible. King James Version (KJV).

Webster, Noah. Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language. New York: S. Converse, 1828. Public Domain.


We use many online sources of definition, the most common of which we abbreviate as shown:

AHD. American Heritage Dictionary.

CDC. Century Dictionary.

CED. Collins English Dictionary.

EB. Encyclopædia Britannica.

LLP. Wikipedia.

MWD. Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

OAD. The Oxford American Dictionary.

ODP. The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy.

OED. The Oxford English Dictionary.

TPP. The Philosophy Pages.

WAD. Webster’s American Dictionary.

Related Topics

See Absolute Principle

See Laws of Being

See Laws of Doing