Is There a Way Out?
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
There is a way out of fear and
hatred, disease and frustration, and it is lighted by spiritual understanding,
Martin Broones, C.S.B., told a large audience
Saturday morning in The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist,
Such understanding is vital, Mr. Broones said, to the establishment of sound, healthy conditions.
A healing of alcoholism through wholly spiritual means was related by the lecturer. He also described the healing of a condition diagnosed as malignant and beyond help.
A Christian Science teacher and
Mr. Broones was introduced by Mrs. Elizabeth Glass Barlow, Second Reader of The Mother Church. His lecture was entitled "Is There a Way Out?"
The report given on this page is a condensed version of the lecture. The lecturer spoke substantially as follows :
As we look around us today, we see a world which is making important advances on many fronts. But in other directions it is in trouble, deep trouble. It's true that the same could be said of almost any time in history, at least as regards the trouble. Parents have always been prone to shake their heads over the waywardness of the young. People have always been plagued by fear. Nations have always been driven by one force or another to hurl themselves at one another's throats.
But today the very progress that is being made in material conditions is at the same time giving new strength to the forces of division and destruction. With coverage by television being now worldwide, the advocates of trouble have almost immediate access to the ears of the entire human race. A reading of the daily papers and viewing of television could easily lead one to believe that destructive and divisive elements are in the ascendancy, that hatred and fear are the order of the day, that darkness is all around us. It all seams very threatening. Many question whether there is any way out at all.
But there is a way out - and Christian Science shows us the way out through the light of spiritual understanding. Let us consider the spiritual understanding that lights the way out of the world's problems and how this understanding operates.
Perhaps it will help us to see just what spiritual understanding is if I tell you how I first glimpsed this light - how I found it, or rather how it found me.
When I was very young, my best friend about my own age took me to visit the Sunday School he attended, a Christian Science Sunday School. We were pals, so I went with him again and again.
I'll always remember an incident that occurred there. One Sunday the lady who played the piano didn't arrive, so I volunteered to play. They didn't quite believe I could. You see, I was only eight years old. But no one else was available. They didn't know I'd been playing the piano from the time I could barely reach the keyboard by standing on my tiptoes.
But there's something more important that has stayed with me. My friend who took me to that Sunday School told me of a prayer that we didn't actually say in Sunday School but that was specially for children. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, had written it. My friend told me I should say this prayer when I went to bed; and he said that then I wouldn't mind the dark. Probably many of you know it. Mrs. Eddy called it her "New Year Gift to the Little Children" ("Miscellaneous Writings," p. 400):
Loving me. –
Guard when I sleep;
Guide my little feet
Up to Thee."
I must confess that I sometimes say this prayer - or sing it to myself - when I'm tempted to "mind the dark" that we see around us in the world today.
That prayer has not only brought me comfort in dark moments. It gave me my first shining glimpse of a great and basic spiritual fact - that God, Spirit, is the loving Parent, Mother as well as Father, of every one of us. In other words, man's origin isn't really in protoplasm or physicality of any kind. On the contrary our true origin is wholly in Spirit; and so in times of darkness and difficulty it is to the spiritual we should turn rather than to the material to lead us out of trouble.
Then my family moved from that section of town and I never went back to the Sunday School. But this I know. What I learned about God and His goodness through this brief contact, generated the first flickering of a light which I have later learned to identify as spiritual understanding.
This childhood glimpse that God was my Father and my Mother and that He really cared for me and would help me stood me in good stead later when I was a teen-ager. Without it I think I'd have been far more rebellious when I came up against my parents' determination to take me away from music and make me into something 1 didn't want to be.
My father was a well-known
I feel that it was the trust in good which I had learned in Sunday School, together with the assurance that I could look to my divine Father-Mother to direct me, which guided my next steps.
Enforceable boundary established
I decided not to study medicine
and enrolled in
But now I was up against a new
problem. I didn't know how to orchestrate my music. I took it to all the
arrangers I could think of in
Then one day I got an entirely new
lead, a name I hadn't even considered before. I went to him and found this
famous arranger had time and love to give to a very young man who wanted to
study music instead of medicine. Many of you perhaps will remember his name -
Bill Vodery. This man talked with me and looked at my
music. He said he'd orchestrate it and felt he could place it for me; and I
could pay him when I was able. This became my first show on Broadway. As a
result, I was able to pay my way at the university and later go to
Of course, there's a lot more to spiritual understanding than just trusting God and expecting good. This is certainly a useful beginning, as I found out from the experience I've just related. But later on, when I really began to study Christian Science and see something of its application to healing disease and solving all sorts of human problems, then I had to dig much deeper into the meaning of spiritual understanding.
Most people agree that to some extent human conditions are the product of human thought. Sick and discordant conditions are the result of one type of thought; healthy and harmonious conditions are the result of the opposite kind of thought. Many might even go so far as to agree that good conditions are the result of good or correct thinking and bad conditions are the result of incorrect thinking.
The spiritual understanding I'm talking about accepts that the only method by which good and healthy conditions can be firmly and permanently established is by spiritually correct thought. What is the source of spiritually correct thought? God, infinite divine Spirit, the Mind or intelligence of all that is good.
All of us approach life's problems from some starting point. The materialist accepts that matter is fundamental reality or substance; he determines his calculations and actions accordingly. Many earnestly religious people regard life as having a partly material and partly spiritual basis; they, too, think and act accordingly. And in each instance their outward experience lines up with these inner convictions and assumptions.
Our starting point is that reality is wholly spiritual. Spiritual understanding is based on the clear recognition that the fundamental cause or origin of all real existence is divine Spirit, which is limitless and indestructible good. Therefore, whatever is restricted and destructible is no part of basic reality and cannot maintain itself in the light of spiritually correct thought - of spiritual understanding.
In Mrs. Eddy's book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" much light is shed on the exact nature of this understanding. For instance, Mrs. Eddy writes: "Spirit imparts the understanding which uplifts consciousness and leads into all truth. . . . Spiritual sense is the discernment of spiritual good. Understanding is the line of demarcation between the real and unreal" (p. 505).
All this adds up to one and the same thing. Spiritual understanding acts as a line of demarcation; it sets up in our thought - and therefore in our experience - enforceable boundaries, separating the temporal and insubstantial from the enduring and substantial, the material from the spiritual, the unreal from the real. Above all it sets an enforceable boundary between the good which God gives to man and the evil of all kinds which God does not give.
What has this spiritual understanding, this line of demarcation set by Spirit, got to do with our everyday living? For one thing it shows us our unbreakable relationship with Spirit and what this relationship does for us all. Through the spiritual understanding of Spirit as our Father-Mother, our sole source and origin, we cannot only be healed of physical troubles ourselves but we can also learn to heal others.
Healing is achieved through the realization that health is spiritual reality, always present. It is brought into our experience as the light of spiritual understanding corrects the thinking which accepts disease as a reality. We learn that disease is an unreal incorrect belief, in short, an illusion. Solid and convincing perhaps to the physical senses, as illusions often are, but still an illusion.
Isn't it comforting to know that health is real and sickness is unreal? Isn't it a joy to accept the fact that abundance is real and lack is unreal? And how reassuring it is to see that happiness, in its true and spiritual sense, is real, while unhappiness has no foundation in reality or truth? And isn't it most wonderful of all that all these truths can be ours to experience and share with others, as the light of spiritual understanding dispels the darkness in human lives, as we base all our thinking on Spirit.
When I saw this in Christian Science, I found myself right back where my father had always wanted me to be - in the work of helping and healing my fellowmen. My heavenly Father had shown me how this could be done, not by material, but by spiritual means alone. And for this kind of healing I was willing and happy to leave my music.
I am often asked: Can this power of spiritual understanding really change our experience? It really can and does. Human difficulties, of whatever kind, are basically the outward appearing of a sense of separation from God, good, a belief in a power opposed to God, good - belief in the reality of evil. Nothing seems more real than darkness, as one fumbles one's way at night through an unlighted room. But one finds a switch and turns the light on. And darkness disappears. What was apparently in control of the situation vanishes in an instant. Darkness was really only the absence of light. Light wipes out its dominance. In much the same way spiritual understanding, shining in our thought, dispels evil first from thought and then from our experience.
The powerlessness of evil to resist spiritual understanding was proved in the highest degree by Christ Jesus. He brought healing wherever human thought responded to him.
This same power of God, scientifically understood, is being demonstrated today in the practice of Christian Science healing. Addictive drug-taking and alcohol are two of the most serious problems in the world today. But from these, too, there is a way out. Understanding spiritual reality brings freedom from drug addiction and from alcohol.
When I asked the man, whose experience I'm about to relate, for permission to tell his story, the first thing he said was that he wanted me to know how grateful he was to Christian Science for his healing. He'd been healed of compulsive drinking 15 years earlier.
He had been in this condition for many years. Attempts to stop drinking met with some limited success but sooner or later he'd start again. In his last most severe bout with alcohol he was consuming huge quantities daily just to be able to feel what he called normal.
One night he remarked to a friend that he wanted to stop drinking. The friend's reply was: "Tomorrow I'll take you to see someone and you will never drink again." The man said this sounded a little mysterious to him but he didn't ask any questions. They made a date to meet the following morning.
He said he didn't consume any alcohol this particular morning, even though he could hardly face the world without it. He met his friend on a street corner and at this time was told that he was being taken to a Christian Science practitioner. He said he thought his friend expected him to react against this, but he didn't. He said he had never even thought about Christian Science before, and knew absolutely nothing about it.
When he reached the practitioner's house, he and his friend were greeted very lovingly, and the practitioner invited him in. He told me that they sat and talked for about an hour. He remembered asking a few questions but mostly the practitioner did the talking.
He said the practitioner talked about humility and gratitude, and told him there is no condemnation in Christian Science. He said that this statement played an important part in his healing, and that it's a very vital point in the rehabilitation of all heavy drinkers. He was also told by the practitioner that it was wrong to condemn oneself and that, if in the light of what had been said, he would stop thinking of himself as a compulsive drinker, he would stop acting like one. He was so grateful that the practitioner spoke to him in terms he could understand.
This man told me he couldn't express the feeling that came over him immediately after this Christian Science treatment; but when he left the practitioner's house, he knew that he was free. And, he was. Behind the loving welcome and simple explanations of the practitioner there had been a deep understanding of the great spiritual truths we have discussed - the allness of God, Spirit, and the unreality and powerlessness of evil. And my friend had responded to these truths, as I responded to the first simple presentation of spiritual truths that I received in Sunday School.
As I went forward in Christian Science, I learned more of what spiritual understanding is and the wonderful healing results it brings. But next I needed to know just how this understanding operates, just how it produces these results.
Just how does spiritual understanding heal? It heals because, besides being spiritual understanding, it is scientific understanding; it is understanding of Science, of spiritually scientific Truth. The light of spiritual understanding reveals universal truths that are inescapable, irrefutable, unconquerable. It reveals God, Spirit, as the divine Principle of all true good, from whom emanate spiritual laws that are true and eternal.
It guides us into the full comprehension of these laws and their application. When we grasp this divine Principle and its laws, we no longer have the sense of choosing between two courses of action, the better and worse; instead we see there is only one course to be followed, the good and right course, the course, that is charted by infinite divine Principle.
Christ Jesus fully understood this divine Principle. He understood the truth of being completely. In Christian Science we call Jesus the Christ because he so clearly expressed this divine Truth.
Jesus claimed no power to heal of himself. He taught: "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John ). Whether the lie, the delusion, of evil presented itself to him in the form of sin, sickness, or death, it was still a lie, and it was routed and destroyed by divine Truth.
Christian Science states this same Christ-power in terms of Science, in terms of divine Principle governing man and the universe by spiritual law. Hence it provides the answer that will lead both the troubled individual and the troubled world to the solution of their problems.
In spite of the tempest in the world today, the waves of hate and violence that sometimes seem so overpowering, good does triumph over evil. Love triumphs over hate. Reality cannot be overcome by unreality. Darkness cannot put out the light of Truth.
Christian Science doesn't create a truth which can be submerged by upheavals of error; it reveals the one Truth, the whole Truth. It helps us recognize and spiritually understand Truth so that it can free us from the illusion of evil and govern our lives. Truth exists, and has been revealed to this age. Spiritual understanding heals because it is the scientific understanding of the Principle of all true being, of irresistible divine Truth dispelling all falsity.
This divine Truth, this Principle, to be experienced in demonstration must be seen by each one of us, and it must be brought to the consciousness of those who need it.
Now, mortal belief - belief in the power and substance of matter as opposed to the reality and allness of divine Spirit - this mortal belief sometimes seems firmly entrenched. So it isn't enough just to tell the sick and sinning and sorrowful that they are plagued by unreality and leave it at that. When everyone thought the sun circled the earth, it wasn't enough to assert that the opposite is true. Copernicus was rejected, and Bruno was burned at the stake for promoting his ideas. Christian Science has sometimes been ridiculed because it calls into question the evidence of the senses, the same senses that tell us the earth is flat and the sun circles around it.
But Truth has a way of prevailing, when it is presented compassionately and persistently. When Jesus saw the crowds, which Matthew's Gospel describes as "scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd," Jesus said to his disciples, "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest" (Matt. 9:36-38).
Christian Science practitioners help to bring the light of spiritual understanding to those in need of Truth.
A woman I know went to a practitioner because she had noted the serenity and joy of Christian Scientists under trying circumstances. She was suffering from what had been medically diagnosed as an incurable malignant disease, and she expected to die. She told the practitioner she thought that Christian Science might help her find peace of mind before she died.
But the practitioner turned her thought from the suggestion of death to the divine Principle which is Life and Truth and Love and said to the visitor: "Let's see why we want to live." Then the practitioner put Science and Health in the woman's hands, opened at what we know as "the scientific statement of being," and asked her to read it out loud. I'm going to read it to you now: "There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material: he is spiritual" (Science and Health, p. 468).
When the woman finished reading this statement of God's allness - of the infinite reality of Spirit and the unreality of matter, she burst into tears, exclaiming: "How wonderful! How wonderful!"
Well, isn't it wonderful to know that "God is All-in-all"? The woman responded to the spiritual understanding of divine Truth just as the compulsive drinker I told you about earlier. But her healing didn't come in a moment. In this instance, encouraged by the practitioner, she first spent many joyous days in the study of the book that had opened the door of her spiritual understanding to the allness of God, good. Step by step it showed her the way out of disease and death.
The issues that rend the world today, like the issues that trouble the individual in his or her daily life, exist only in the false sense of life as existent in matter. They cannot maintain their appearance of reality in the face of the spiritual truth stated by Mrs. Eddy in "the scientific statement of being." The divine Principle on which this statement is based, when compassionately and persistently maintained, holds the promise of bringing healing to every individual and justice and order to our troubled society.
Much of Science and Health deals with how spiritual understanding heals, and there is a whole chapter devoted to "Christian Science Practice."
In writing on this subject Mrs. Eddy spoke from experience. From childhood she showed a deep interest in spiritual things and was a keen student of the Bible. As a young woman, she suffered from ill health and in middle age she had a critical accident. Turning to the Bible for comfort and courage in what seemed to be her last extremity, she found the account of Jesus' healing of the palsied man in the ninth chapter of Matthew's Gospel.
As she read, she saw that the same power of God which Jesus invoked was with her in her hour of need. She saw that all real being is in God and that God is Spirit - all-powerful and ever-present good. With this glimpse of spiritual reality her health was restored. She had found her way out.
But healing herself wasn't enough for this woman who was to open up to all mankind a spiritual way out of the limitations, the miseries, and the frustrations of mortal existence. She had glimpsed the presence and power of divine Spirit to heal the mortal body, but she must find the Science governing this healing method and share with others its beneficent action.
For a period of years she studied the Bible, listened for the voice of God, and proved the divine intuitions that came to her by healing all manner of diseased conditions. Then she was equipped for writing Science and Health to explain how this healing was accomplished. And she was ready to found The Church of Christ, Scientist, to protect and foster her discovery.
The revelation of Christian Science came to Mrs. Eddy nearly 2,000 years after the teachings of Jesus had been given to the world. The teachings of Jesus hold within themselves all that is needed to create a world of peace, harmony, and beauty here on earth. What Mrs. Eddy did was to reveal the scientific laws and rules that underlay Jesus' healing practice. She showed how a spiritual understanding of God as divine Principle operates to heal today as in Jesus’ time and proved that the knowing of divine Truth still makes men free.
One of the basic elements in divine healing is that its practice starts from the recognition of the spiritual rather than the material evidence. Spiritual understanding recognizes that, because God, Spirit, good, is our Father-Mother, our sole source, men are in spiritual reality already in possession of all God's good gifts, joy, health, abundance, and freedom. Then as men's hearts and thoughts open to this spiritual evidence, the spiritual fact takes charge of their experience and is demonstrated on the human scene. Sickness, lack, bondage of every kind disappear before the spiritual fact of all-liberating Truth, as naturally as darkness disappears before light.
The Church of Christ, Scientist,
sends qualified workers to one of the darkest spots on earth - I mean prisons -
and holds services there. In some of these our church workers hold meetings
which include remarks on Christian Science and its healing power. The
experience I'm going to tell you occurred at such a meeting in Sing Sing Prison in
At this meeting there was quite a sizable gathering of men in prison clothes, and my friend's attention was attracted to a young prisoner who was ushering. This young man passed out hymnals, and when it came time to sing the hymns, he led the singing with a joyous and beautiful baritone voice.
On the drive back to
When the meeting was over, the young prisoner accompanied the Christian Science worker and his guests to the gate. As they walked down the long hall, someone asked him if he expected to be released from prison. He replied, "When I can do more good outside than I'm doing here, I'll be out."
What a message that is for all of us! He had seen the light of Truth; he had found spiritual reality. He knew that his having done so, his presence in that group of fellow prisoners, was helping others and doing good of such importance that it overshadowed any personal need for what we call freedom. In identifying himself with God's goodness he found freedom from the chains of his mortal nature which had made him belligerent and filled him with hate. Although the physical evidence still showed him to be in prison, he was acknowledging and living from the standpoint of spiritual evidence. He had found his way out.
The power of God is infinite. As we invoke this power, not with words alone but with true spiritual understanding, and demonstrate its power in our lives, the fear and hatred and frustration that imprison the people of the world will disappear as did the prison walls for this young man.
Today, there are more people imprisoned by their own false thinking than there are in Sing Sing or all the prisons in the world. How many people do you know who are imprisoned by lack of health, lack of employment, lack of supply, or unhappy human relationships, and are longing to find their way out?
When the light of spiritual understanding shows those imprisoned by sin, disease, and death, that good is the only reality and evil is totally unreal, then they, too, will be "out." They will be freed from their problems, abiding under the shadow of the Almighty God, good; securely and forever established under His wing; embraced in the outstretched arms of our Father-Mother, God, which tenderly, lovingly and eagerly encompass all those who respond to the call of God, ever-present good.
[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 21, 1970, under the headline, “Spiritual Understanding Lights Way Out of World’s Problems”.]