Christian Science and Everyday Living
Charles M. Carr, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
A better world will not come until
we break free from "the mental barrier" of materialistic thinking, a
Christian Science lecturer said in
Charles M. Carr, C.S.B., of
We must "come to grips with this problem of how we see ourselves and our fellowmen," he said. "We'll have a better world only as our thinking is more spiritual and less material, more God-centered and less self-centered. It's the only way."
The noontime lecture was presented
under the auspices of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist,
Mr. Carr is an authorized teacher and practitioner of Christian Science, as well as a member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship.
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
"Is It Really More Time We Need?"
"There's a way to do it better - find it." That's what Thomas Edison once said. And through his inventions he did find many ways of doing things better. Well, we're all interested in a better way of life, aren't we? For ourselves, for our neighbor, for our world. That's probably why you're here - at least one of the reasons.
Now some of us may have found that better way, the spiritual way, but may feel we've not been making the most of it. Others of us may still be seeking a better way. Whichever the case, we may be thinking, "Well, if I just had more time, I'd do better." Aren't we all tempted to think, "If I had more time, I'd accomplish more?" Or, "If I had more time, I'd do more business?" Or, "If I had more time, I'd do a better job of solving my problems, of enjoying life more?" But is it really more time we need? We all have the same amount of time. Nobody ever had twenty-five hours a day. Isn't it really a question of what we do with our time that counts? Isn't it really more clarity of thought that we need and the courage to use it - not more time? Clarity as to the spiritually mental basis of existence, or creation? Isn't it more a matter of seeing creation as it really is, spiritual and complete? Isn't it this kind of spiritual reasoning, this spiritually scientific prayer that's needed, rather than more time? Then the good each one of us seeks we can begin to experience and enjoy. We can find this better way - and use it all the way - all the time! As someone's said, "More knowing, less going." More spiritual knowing - less material going, less material thinking - really pays dividends.
For example, a man I know was sales manager for a carpet manufacturer. One day he was asked to call on one of its largest distributors because of a serious problem. This distributor demanded exclusive handling of the manufacturer's line within an area of three hundred miles. He stubbornly insisted that, unless he had his own way, he would handle someone else's line. If the manufacturer went along with this demand a number of smaller firms would suffer considerable loss.
Man Reflects God as Christ-Image
My friend got pretty steamed up about this situation - about the selfish, stubborn mule of a man he had to deal with. However, he was used to working his problems out through spiritually scientific prayer. To help him in this, he turned to an article in "Miscellaneous Writings" by Mary Baker Eddy called "Love Your Enemies." In this article, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science says this, "Who is thine enemy that thou shouldst love him? Is it a creature or a thing outside thine own creation? Can you see an enemy, except you first formulate this enemy and then look upon the object of your own conception? . . . Simply count your enemy to be that which defiles, defaces, and dethrones the Christ-image that you should reflect" (page 8).
The light of spiritual understanding came as he studied this. He saw that the matter of good relationships was squarely up to him. That his only enemy was his own false view of man. He'd been seeing man as a rascal - as expressing self-justification, selfishness, self-pity, self-will. He began to replace these false traits of character - rather his own false estimate of man - with the fact that man reflects God as the Christ-image. He acknowledged that this image, or man, includes by reflection all the qualities of God, good. That these qualities belong to him, to the distributor, to everybody. Such qualities as integrity, helpfulness, co-operation, appreciation. He gave up destructive criticism. He insisted the one God, or divine Mind, governs all creation and that man expresses perfect unity with God in thought and action. He also insisted that mortal opinions and human willfulness are no part of God's image and likeness anywhere, because God is fully and perfectly expressed everywhere. He spent quite a lot of time praying along these lines the night before he was to meet with the distributor.
In the morning he found his answer in the form of a question. When he met with the distributor he asked him, "Did you ever hear of anything that was 100 percent selfish being 100 percent satisfactory?"† Well, from that time on nothing more was ever said about an exclusive line. He and the distributor worked out a very satisfactory agreement. And, incidentally, they came to be good friends.
God Never Made a Human Rascal
This man went on to apply his knowledge of Christian Science to larger aspects of his experience. Later the government sent him to Europe to set up the industry division of the Marshall Plan. After this he was appointed to a very high position in the federal government and handled some nine billion dollars a year along with all the problems that involved.
In everything he did - business, government, politics, world affairs - he tried to see God, or infinite good, as the creator of all creation, as the governing force. He saw himself in his correct relationship to God as a divine idea reflecting the infinite Mind that is good - saw this more and more consistently. But that wasn't all - he knew he had to see his fellowman that way, too.
And this is most important because sometimes we may be tempted to think, "Well, I see myself as God's likeness all right, but the reason I'm in this jam is because of that rascal I have to deal with." Now who made a rascal? Certainly not God. And since God is the only creator, there's no other creator to make a rascal. Then a rascal never was made. A rascal is just a rascal point of view, a material point of view of spiritual man - the only kind of man.
So if any of us ever happens to have a rascal in his experience, do we need to be troubled because we have to deal with a rascal? No, because we're not dealing with an entity called a rascal, but with our own rascal point of view. We get rid of that false point of view in our own thought. This is what my friend, the sales manager, did. He replaced the material sense of man with the spiritual sense. Then healing look place. And this process didn't take time, just the inspiration and consecration that come from spiritually scientific prayer. He really had accepted the challenge, "There's a way to do it better." He found it. Lives it. Enjoys it. You see, more spiritual knowing, less material going, less material struggling.
The better way of doing things, then, is always the spiritual way. As we saw with my friend, the sales manager, wrong thinking based on material testimony has to be replaced with Godlike understanding based on spiritual fact. This is the primary objective of Christian Science - to spiritualize thought in every aspect of our everyday living. This is accomplished, first of all, as we gain a spiritual understanding of God and man and the universe. And secondly, as we learn to pray spiritually, scientifically - that is, think out from the point of view of creation as spiritual and complete, never material or incomplete.
Mrs. Eddy Taught Godís Allness
Now it doesn't necessarily take time to gain this understanding and basic approach of prayer or Christian Science treatment. What it does take is an open-minded awareness of what Life is - and the courage and an active willingness to live in accord with its Principle, God, good. The Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," written by Mrs. Eddy, teaches that God is infinite, therefore He's All. Because He's All, He's One. In this textbook she writes, "God is infinite, the only Life, substance, Spirit, or Soul, the only intelligence of the universe, including man. . . . He is divine Principle, Love, the universal cause, the only creator, and there is no other self-existence" (pp. 330, 331).
This one God naturally can have but one effect, and this effect - man and the universe - must be just exactly like God. Man, you see, is defined in the Christian Science textbook as "The compound idea of infinite Spirit; the spiritual image and likeness of God; the full representation of Mind" (p. 591). This means that the relationship of God and man as cause and effect is unvarying. It's controlled by the universal law of God or good, the law of infinite ever-present Love. Man, then - your true selfhood and mine - is maintained constantly at the point of spiritual perfection and isn't subject to chance. Therefore man and the universe must be as good and perfect as the cause that created them, as spiritual and intelligent, as radiant with divine Love, as unrestricted. In fact, all the good that constitutes God must be reflected by all creation - and that includes man - you, me, everyone.
Now, matter and all of its troubles and limitations is no part of God's creation - the only creation. Matter is not the effect. No phase of mortality is the effect of infinite Spirit, the God who's All-in-all. So matter is simply not the reality of being, anywhere. It appears to be real only as much as we believe in its existence as something - something in addition to God or apart from Him. But if God is the infinite cause - and He is - how can there be any existence, or effect, besides His creation? Well, there can't be, can there? These facts have been proved over and over again. This is why Christian Science is Science. This is why Christian Science treatment, spiritual reasoning, heals.
Now just what can this spiritual reasoning mean to you and me? Why, as you and I understand God, and man and the universe in His likeness, we can begin immediately to use this divine knowledge to direct our living wisely, successfully. However, with spiritual reasoning as with any kind of reasoning, if we want to get correct conclusions we have to start with the correct premise. And as far as Christian Science treatment is concerned, there's just one right premise - that the one God, including man and the universe, is all there is to reality. When we know this Truth clearly, it frees us from the bad results of our own limited standard. It's a double standard wrongly conceived. A belief in God and mammon, Spirit and matter, good and evil - an impossible standard. Nothing to live by!
Scientific Prayer Is Always Effective
The only standard is the absolute spiritual thinking we've been talking about - the Christ, Truth - the divine message from God which Jesus brought. Jesus taught this Christ and practiced it scientifically - the truth of God and man and of true existence. That's how he helped humanity win freedom from sin and sickness, lack and limitation. You see, Jesus was the highest human exemplification of God's image and likeness. Christ is Truth that reveals the present spiritual perfection of all Life and its manifestation. Jesus demonstrated this truth of being. And he left no doubt that we could, too, when he said (John ), "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also." This Christ, Truth, comes to redeem humanity from its false points of view, material, restrictive. It purifies human consciousness until it's aware only of Truth and Love, of the spiritual perfection of God and His creation.
The closer we draw to this Christ, Truth, or absolute Science, in our prayers, the more effective they are in their application to the human sense of things. Now we've all studied mathematics. It's just the same as in mathematics. The closer we draw to its principle, the more exact we'll be in its application to our mathematical problems. Obviously, we can't deviate from the principle of mathematics by following human opinions and then expect to get correct results. And we can't deviate from scientific prayer, from the recognition of the infinite, spiritual perfection of God and His creation, and then find the answer to our prayer. No material considerations enter into true prayer.
And our prayer - to be most effective - needs to embrace not only the Science of God's allness, but also the spirit of divine Love that comforts us, encourages us, and assures us of God's ever-presence and goodness. But someone might ask: "How does prayer that's spiritually mental change a physical condition or a human problem?" Well, it changes the belief in the reality of material difficulties to the understanding that creation is already spiritual and complete; so it's all right. The effect of this knowing, or prayer, is improvement in thought and this is followed by improved conditions - always. This was proved in the case of the sales manager.
Christian Science Defines Truth
The demand for a better way of doing things isn't peculiar to the age we live in. People have always been looking for better ways - quicker, more efficient ways. But the demand is particularly challenging today because of the far-reaching advances in almost every phase of modern activity - especially the sciences. However, the many wonderful inventions and remarkable scientific advances haven't given mankind happiness, peace, a genuine understanding of one another, or even unfailing health. Much less the answer to life's purpose, or to life's real meaning. Why? Because all material thought and action, the human sense of existence, is just an assumption of reality within a material frame of reference. Now, knowing this Truth doesn't do away with man or the universe, or any good. But what it does do is get rid of the false belief that existence is material. As a result we experience more good and less sin, sickness and trouble. We just can't get rid of any trouble until we get rid of what causes it, the mistaken point of view that material existence is the real thing. Don't be fooled. It isn't!
Of course, some of the conditions of this human experience are nearer right than others. And they have their temporary place in the relative, human sense of things. But none of them are really permanent or true. They appear to be true only within the framework of their human, matter-based assumptions - assumptions based upon a material concept of substance and law. Now, natural science works within the framework of these material assumptions and calls them fact or reality. And much credit should be given the natural scientists. They've made substantial progress within this framework. However, if we accept material premises as the very essence of real life, we're apt to be led astray by physical analyses and test tube conclusions.
Actually, in place of these matter-based assumptions is the Principle of life as spiritual and complete. This divine Principle includes the truth of all existence. That's just another way of saying the absolute spiritual nature of creator and creation, God and man - your true self and mine. This Truth is what Christian Science defines as reality. It's a total frame of reference; it includes all reality.
Mrs. Eddy sensed this and as a result discovered Christian Science. She, too, also was one who was interested in a better way of living. An exceptional student, she also had an unusual appreciation of spiritual values and a most inquiring mind that was spiritually based. This is pointed up in her book "Retrospection and Introspection" (pp. 24, 25), where she says, "During twenty years prior to my discovery I had been trying to trace all physical effects to a mental cause; and in the latter part of 1866 I gained the scientific certainty that all causation was Mind, and every effect a mental phenomenon.
Jesus Said Comforter Would Come
"My immediate recovery from the effects of an injury caused by an accident, an injury that neither medicine nor surgery could reach, was the falling apple that led me to the discovery how to be well myself, and how to make others so."
Mrs. Eddy put her discovery of this Science to the test - the practical test - by healing and teaching others to heal. She wrote Science and Health to make Christian Science, or the Science of Christianity, available to all mankind. A continual reaching out for divine guidance enabled her to establish the Church of Christ, Scientist, in spite of the opposition of material-mindedness which the Christ, Truth, aroused. Because of her all-encompassing love for humanity, her humility deepened, her courage strengthened. Is it any wonder that Christian Scientists all over the world love Mrs. Eddy and revere her as the God-inspired revelator of the Christ, Truth, to this age and the Leader of the Christian Science movement? Today Christian Science branch churches encircle the world, fulfilling their purpose to "reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing" (Church Manual, p. 17). This was the basis of Mrs. Eddy's efforts to bring sinning and suffering humanity the revelation of Truth - the full revelation that would bless all through spiritual healing.
Christian Science is the Comforter, the Holy Ghost that Jesus promised would come and lead us into all truth. This Science challenged and is challenging every barrier to man's spiritual progress or salvation - not just the barriers of sin, sickness, and death, but the whole world's belief in the actuality of matter with all of its problems.
In this connection it's interesting to consider the confusion of matter-based thinking that Max Planck refers to in his book, "The New Science." As you may know, Dr. Planck is the German physicist who discovered the quantum theory. This theory, together with the theory of relativity, marks the beginning of the tremendous developments in modern physics. These form the basis of the nuclear discoveries. I'd like to quote him briefly. "In the midst of this confusion" - he's referring to the ever-changing material theories - "it is natural to ask whether there is any rock of truth left on which we can take our stand and feel sure that it is unassailable." Then he goes on to say. "Science, in general, presents us with the spectacle of a marvelous theoretical structure which is one of the proudest achievements of constructive reasoning." He continues, "But this logical quality will not avail us now against the skeptic's attack. Logic in its purest form, which is mathematics, only coordinates and articulates one truth with another. It gives harmony to the superstructure of science, but it cannot provide the foundation or the building stones." And then Dr. Planck asks this question: "Where shall we look for a firm foundation upon which our outlook on nature and the world in general can be scientifically based?"
Christian Science gives us the answer. First of all, it's encouraging us to know that "There's a way to do it better." That there's a better way to solve life's problems - better than the usual approach - the material approach, that's based on the reality - the assumed reality - of matter, or materiality. Second, it's enabling us to find out for ourselves that, as we spiritualize thought and rely radically upon the Science of Christianity, putting it to practical test, it's not just the better way, it's the only way.
Thereís No Dualism to Existence
Christian Science says to anybody who's searching for the "foundation or building stones" in matter, or materialistic knowledge, they're not to be found there. Where they are found is in God's allness, and that includes spiritual man and the spiritual universe, as the sum total of all reality. This Science of God's allness reveals absolute Truth, total Truth, to human consciousness. How? By showing that this Truth exists in place of the human belief about things, not in addition to it, not apart from it, not alongside of it. So you see, there's no dualism to existence. No two-ness. Why? Because in the final analysis the human sense of existence, whether it's materially good or materially bad, is just a material belief about the one and only existence, God, good.
All right, you say, but what about all the trouble that seems to be so much a part of existence - the sin and sickness and evil, all the materiality? Why, they're just beliefs, too. Beliefs of the human mind or the material senses, the five physical senses. But we can't believe what these senses tell us, can we? In the middle of the day you don't see the stars in the sky, but they're there. If you put a straight stick in a calm pool of water it looks crooked, looks bent but itís still straight. We just can't draw correct conclusions regarding reality from the evidence of the physical senses.
This was forcibly brought out in the experience of a young couple while building their home. As the building progressed they realized how hard it was going to be to complete their home, to furnish it and landscape it. There was such an enormous amount of work that had to be done on the grounds. Labor was short, the contractor was too busy, the materials were hard to find. And the expense! It just seemed prohibitive. All they saw was discouragement and confusion, a depressing situation. They were overlooking the law of God. This law operates as the law of spiritual perfection, intelligence, completeness. It opens up opportunities for fulfillment in human experience.
Change of Basis Assures Success
The wife spoke to a Christian Science practitioner. Immediately the practitioner said, "See it according to the law of God, or good, as spiritual and complete." The wife thought, "See it as spiritual and complete, yes. Why, I've been working from the wrong basis. But I can change my attitude about the whole thing and change it now.'' She began to realize more clearly than ever before that her job was always to see God's creation as spiritual and complete, right where difficulties and lack seemed to be. To see God's spiritual ideas right where material persons, things and circumstances seemed to be. She acknowledged the truth of Mrs. Eddy's statement in Science and Health, "There is no such thing as mortality, nor are there properly any mortal beings, because being is immortal, like Deity, - or, rather, being and Deity are inseparable" (p. 554).
And so, in place of mortals coming or going, cooperative or uncooperative, she saw man as a compound idea expressing divine Mind, intelligence, perfect action. She insisted that God's creation - the only creation there is, of course - is made up of spiritual ideas, not material objects. And so, in place of material objects, available or unavailable, she saw spiritual ideas of God already beautiful and complete - ideas of harmony, order, originality. Well, the effect of this knowing, this spiritual reasoning, was most gratifying. There was steady progress. The contractor was more than helpful. The workmen were honest and loyal. The materials were available. The means to finance the whole project -† the building, furnishing, landscaping - came through unexpected channels. What's more, they've applied the "See it as spiritual and complete" point of view over the years in every facet of living. It's turned out to be not only the better way, but the only right way of thought and action. It's brought an abundance of ideas with it, a more instant sense of appreciation, happiness. A wider sphere of activity for good. Again, more knowing, less going. More spiritual knowing and less material struggling.
I doubt that there's anyone here who isn't concerned about world problems. The question is, are we willing to work to solve them? It's work to spiritualize thought, isn't it? But that's what's needed more than anything else. The application of basic spiritual reasoning isn't any different for world problems than it is for individual problems. That's why if we really want a better world we can have it. It just takes a more persistent use of the Science of being and a wider application of it.
Man Is Object of Godís Great Love
We'll have a better world only as your thinking and my thinking are more spiritual and less material, more God-centered and less self-centered. That means that we have to see man as the idea of God, subject to the influence of good. Not as a mortal, subject to the influence of evil. Can we really say we see man that way? If not, why not? We can start right now. We can apply this truth in all of our social contacts, with others, in our home, our school, our work, our church, our community, our world - in short, with everyone, everywhere. Until you and I come to grips with this problem of how we see ourselves and our fellowmen, we'll never make much of an inroad on the larger problems, like delinquency, crime, national and international misunderstandings and prejudices, wars and the threat of them, economic maladjustments. More spiritual knowing, less material struggling.
Now, we've considered a number of healing experiences that illustrate the divine Principle of life as spiritual and complete. I'd like to tell one more.
A young Christian Scientist fractured a spinal disk while in training in the Army. He was taken immediately to the Army hospital where he was told that an operation was absolutely necessary if he was ever to walk normally again. Even then the doctors didn't guarantee he'd be able to move about the way he had before. He asked them to delay the operation until he could get in touch with a Christian Science practitioner. The practitioner prayed for him something like this: "I thank You, God, for being All-in-all. Your allness includes Your creation, spiritual man. Right here is spiritual man, because You are right here and where You are is Your beloved image and likeness. This child of Your creating is the object of Your love. You've made him - made him perfect. And You maintain that perfection. I thank You, God, that this is true. Man is immortal. He's in and of God or infinite Spirit. He's not a mortal. He doesn't dwell in a material body or a material world. He's not subject to material laws. There's nothing but God and His infinite, perfect manifestation, which is the only man. Man has, in reality, no material mind to be aware of an accident or to fear the consequences of one. He's not, in reality, a material body to have been involved in an accident, and there are no harmful conditions or circumstances. So there's no possibility of any harmful after-effects. No threat. No fear. Life and Love and good is all that man can ever know or experience. I thank You, God, that this is true now and that man is aware now of his spiritual perfection and completeness as the son of God, and that he expresses this unconditional and unrestricted good forever."
Healing Brings Spiritual Impetus
The practitioner persisted in praying along these lines. In a short time the young man was completely healed. His Army record shows this. Another proof of this healing was that he could play handball just as vigorously as before. But a more important result was the spiritual impetus the healing brought. As his spiritual understanding of God and man deepened, his application of Christian Science widened. And the result? He found†† useful, rewarding business activity, wonderful companionship, a fine home and family, and the opportunity to grow with his branch church.
Friends, we've seen that the prime
objective of Christian Science is to spiritualize thought in every aspect of
our everyday living. And in the process we progressively overcome the false
belief that there can be any real barriers to health, happiness, success. These
barriers are never physical; they're mental. One of
Now Christian Science shows us how to get rid of these barriers - the barriers of matter-mindedness, medical theories and practices, materialistic philosophy, limiting creeds - barriers of all kinds. We've seen that when such a barrier or problem confronts us, there are two ways of looking at it - one the material, the other the spiritual. One way deals with it as a material fact and tries to improve the so-called fact through material reasoning and action. The other way deals with it as entirely mental, as a false belief about true creation, and then exchanges that false belief for the true understanding that creation is already spiritual and complete - never material, never incomplete.
And the change in thought - this is the good part - it doesn't have to take time. It can be quick, instantaneous, even. What's needed - what we all need - is more thought, not more time. More thought devoted to spiritual reality and less time to material unreality. More knowing, less going. Mrs. Eddy puts it this way in Science and Health (p. 199), "The devotion of thought to an honest achievement makes the achievement possible." Now, notice she doesn't say, "the devotion of time," does she? But "the devotion of thought." Well, as you and I devote our thought to the things of God, instead of the things of matter, we'll reach our goal a lot faster - the goal of experiencing more and more good. We'll prove "There's a way to do it better."
The better way, then, the real way, is as near to each of us as our own thinking, It's as near as our willingness to claim present spiritual perfection as the fact or truth concerning man and the universe. We can wake up to this Principle of Life. We can hold to this viewpoint, the "see it as spiritual and complete" viewpoint, about all creation all the time. The better way - the spiritual way - is instantly available. It's up to you and me.
[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, Oct. 23, 1962.]