Christian Science and Human Relationships
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
Better human relationships begin
with God, and must be worked out from a "spiritual standpoint," a
Christian Science lecturer said in
Charles M. Carr, C.S.B., of
Mr. Carr warned the audience not to become "human reactors."
"The sure recipe for unhappiness," he said, "is to be constantly reacting to what others do or donít do, say or don't say" - "to go up and down like a barometer, reacting to every change of mental climate or human opinion."
Our problems can't be solved "by blaming others," he said - the trouble must be dealt with primarily in our own thought.
"We've got to change the emphasis of our thinking from a material, personal point of view to a spiritual, Godlike point of view." We must "recognize man as a spiritual idea of God - instead of judging him as physicality or personality." We must "know what man really is."
Mr. Carr, a member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship, was introduced to the audience by Gordon F. Campbell, First Reader of The Mother Church.
Who Decides How You Will Act?
The following is a text of the lecture:
Much of a person's success and satisfaction in life depends on how he handles his human relationships. Dr. Vannevar Bush, formerly dean at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, makes this point in his foreword to Professor F. Alexander Magoun's book, "The Teaching of Human Relations" (p. x). Dr. Bush goes on to say, "Most of us have had to learn what we know of human relations by butting our heads into stone walls and studying our mistakes over a long period of years, and there has been many a heartache suffered in the process."
This is too often the case, isn't it? We see the evidence all around us: family misunderstandings, an increasing divorce rate, labor-management disputes sometimes resulting in prolonged strikes, racial tensions, strained friendships, poor employer-employee relationships. Just look into the lives of your acquaintances and you'll find evidence of this. Perhaps only into your own immediate circle. Why is this? We all want to get along better with ourselves and others. Eliminate head-butting! Be spared the heartache of strained relations! Avoid the kind of job failure that carries with it the tag, "He just can't get along with anyone!" What's the trouble? What can we do about it?
Actually much has been done to try to improve human relations. Social scientists in business, government, and private agencies are working at this. And some progress has been made. But can examining the behavior of the human self give the full answer to person - to - person difficulties? Not really. Why? Because the true basis of all relationships is a spiritual standard, not a human measurement.
Here's a simple illustration. Two men rode on the same bus every morning on their way to work. They usually had the same driver. He was often unfriendly - sometimes downright mean. In spite of this one of the men greeted him every morning in the same friendly way. His companion, puzzled, asked why he continued to do this. He answered, "Why should I let him decide how I'm going to act?"
Respond Only to the Real Cause
What does determine our behavior? How we're going to act? What somebody else thinks? Does? Says? This isn't a very dependable standard. The sure recipe for unhappiness is to be constantly reacting to what others do or don't do, say or don't say, think or don't think. To go up and down like a barometer, reacting to every change of mental climate or human opinion. To be a human reactor.
Then what should determine how we're going to think and act? Isn't it to know what real cause is and then respond only to that cause? In other words, to understand that there's one basic, underlying cause or divine Principle of all life called God, good. To know man as he really is - the reflection or effect of this one cause. To know that man's relationship to God and man's relationship to man is one of reflecting God. That it's not one of reacting to a personal sense of God as a magnified human being, or a personal sense of man as a mortal personality.
Just what do we mean - to know man as he really is? Generally speaking, he's thought of as a human being - a human self - with a physical body and a material mind. We think of him as being born into a material world, growing up, maturing, aging, and dying out of that material world. Almost everyone thinks of himself and others this way. But this isn't what man really is. Man is the reflection of God. This spiritual fact determines all true relationships.
We're all interested in better human relationships, aren't we? There are literally hundreds of books on the subject. But one more than any other presents the subject from an inspired viewpoint - a spiritual viewpoint. That book is the Bible. And in this scientific age, one book above all others unlocks the scientific meaning of the Bible. This book is "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy. What God really is, what man really is, and what their relationship is - these facts of existence are all clearly explained in Science and Health. As well as the know-how for successful practice. As you and I study these truths and apply them consistently in our daily living, we'll get along better with ourselves and others.
Man Reflects Unlimited Intelligence
Now it's essential to understand God in order to know man as His reflection. Speaking of God, Mrs. Eddy says in Science and Health (p. 330), "God is infinite, the only Life, substance, Spirit, or Soul, the only intelligence of the universe, including man." From this we see that God is infinite Spirit, the only Life, the only cause of all creation. Then all effect is the expression or reflection of this infinite Life, or Spirit. Man, therefore, is spiritual in nature and character. He reflects the unlimited substance and intelligence of God.
In discussing man in the same book, Mrs. Eddy says (p. 475), "The Scriptures inform us that man is made in the image and likeness of God. Matter is not that likeness." She continues a little later, "Man is idea, the image, of Love; he is not physique." Then man - the only man there is, your true self and mine - is a spiritual idea of God. He's the image of God, Spirit, not the likeness of persons. He's the reflection of Soul, not the product of matter. He's infinitely spiritual, not finitely material.
We have to recognize the truth of man as the conscious embodiment or reflection of the spiritual qualities of God. And respond to this truth. We can't afford to believe in the misconception of man as physicality, material personality, the embodiment of flesh, changeableness, ill humor, sickness. And then react to this misconception. These non-spiritual qualities, whether they're considered as mental or physical, have nothing to do with God. And since man is the reflection of God they have nothing to do with man.
The Great Debt: To Love One Another
Why should we trust the material senses to give us an understanding of man, when the nature of man is wholly spiritual? The material senses can't give us a true picture of man. Or of God. Or of man's relationship to God. Or of man's relationship to man. And because man is wholly spiritual it's very important how you and I look at ourselves and others. Why look at man through the lens of materiality? It is always out of focus. It's certain to register a limited picture of man, such as personal judgment, personal love. Or a distorted, personal picture of man - such as prejudice, envy, hatred, inferiority, egotism, dissatisfaction, irresponsibility. The material senses just don't tell the truth - the truth that man reflects God, spiritual good.
The beloved American humorist, Will Rogers, glimpsed this to some extent. One of his well-known sayings was, "I never met a man I didn't like." He saw the good in men. He liked them for the good they reflected. Now in the light of Christian Science shouldn't we be even more able to say, "I never met a man I didn't like," because we'll be seeing man as he really is?
Of course, what this adds up to is that there's a basic, underlying cause of all life called God, good. We gain a true understanding of this through spiritual sense. Mrs. Eddy says in Science and Health (p. 209), "Spiritual sense is a conscious, constant capacity to understand God." Spiritual sense reveals the spiritual standard for understanding God and man. It helps us recognize man as a spiritual idea of God - instead of judging him as physicality or personality, either materially bad or materially good. This gives us the rule for all true relationships.
Remember the Apostle Paul said, "Owe no man any thing, but to love one another" (Rom.† 13:8). In other words, owe no man anything but to have a right concept of him. The basis of this concept is to know man as a spiritual idea reflecting or expressing the one infinitely good cause, God. This is true love. In all human relationships then, our objective should be to change our material concept of man as mortal with all kinds of feelings and failings - and human reactions - to the Christlike, spiritual concept of man as God's reflection. To the extent we respond to this true concept we improve our ability to get along with ourselves and others.
"Yes," you may say, "that's all very well theoretically. But I have to deal with many different kinds of people - some difficult and unpleasant." Let's go back to our friends on the bus. Visualize yourself in a similar situation. If you see yourself as one human self disturbed by another human self, you've already denied the basic, underlying spiritual truth we've been talking about. The truth that God, good, is infinite cause - the only cause, volition, motivation of being, the only Life, Soul, Mind of all existence. The truth that man is God's infinite spiritual reflection. Therefore, he can respond only to the divine Principle of all life called God, infinite good. That man isn't a limited material personality reacting to other limited material personalities, wondering whether he has the capacity to deal with them and whether they'll be cooperative and helpful. Now it isn't enough to know this truth. We have to use it in our daily living.
To illustrate, a student of Christian Science, a first lieutenant in the Women's Army Corps, was assigned as the officer in charge of a major public relations operation. Army†† officials wanted to see if a woman could do a job that had always been given to a man of higher rank and longer service. If she was successful the field of public relations in the United States Army would be more freely opened to women.
The scope of the responsibility almost overwhelmed her. She was afraid of failure.† She felt burdened, afraid. She felt ill at ease with the publishers, editors, reporters, congressmen, and educators she had to work with. Her joy evaporated.
Then she suddenly realized she was believing the entire operation was her own personal responsibility. That she would either personally fail or perhaps personally succeed. The words of the prophet, Jahaziel, came to her (II Chron. ), "The battle is not yours, but God's." She realized that she must see the entire project from the standpoint of divine Mind's infinite expression of unlimited intelligence, freedom, originality. That man is not a limited mortal with or without personal responsibilities. Then came the healing thought. "Responsibility - the response ability - the God-given ability to respond to God's allness, to His wisdom, love, goodness."
She saw clearly that inherent in every responsibility is the ability to respond to the one creative Mind, God. She could see if she lost her joy, it was a red flag warning her she was taking responsibility personally. She was getting in the way by casting her own shadow of personal anxiety over the clarity of her being. Instead she had to know that as a spiritual idea of God she already had the ability to reflect divine Mind. To act rightly. That no person or thing could interfere. Why? Because God, good, is the only cause or source of all real activity, including her own being. She had to willingly respond to this spiritual standard. Apply it all the way. Bring her human footsteps into accord with it. The result? She was highly successful in her assignment. And had a good time doing it.
And so with us. Our application of the standard of scientific Christianity needs to go all the way in order to get satisfactory results. It needs to be a faithful application of the fact that man is wholly spiritual, the complete reflection of God. Not partly spiritual and partly material. This is a revolutionary approach to the understanding and appreciation of man. It's the basis for all true relationships. But, unless we thoroughly understand this radical fact - and value it - we miss the point of Christian Science entirely. We shouldn't be struggling to make over, patch up or change, influence or heal a mortal, an imperfect, ignorant, or brilliant human being. But we should be striving to see spiritual man in God's image and likeness, always responsive to the infinite cause that is God. When we correctly understand this truth and faithfully apply it, it becomes a healing influence in our lives.
Mental Bulldozing Shunned
Haven't we all been in situations where we're sure we're right and the other fellow's wrong? Where the tyranny of human will and stubbornness takes over and causes discord between people - even between good friends or in families. For example, a young college graduate and her family disagreed vigorously over a job the girl wanted to take - the type of work, the locality, the timing. Everything about it. She thought they were stubborn and unreasonable. They thought she was willful and ungrateful. Finally, she said she was going to do what she wanted to do - no matter what. Nobody was very happy about anybody! As students of Christian Science the girl and her mother both realized that the mental bulldozing of human will was not Christian Science. Neither was parental domination.
What to do? This situation awakened a desire in this girl to learn more about applying Christian Science to her daily living. She knew Mrs. Eddy had made provision for this through class instruction, a two week course designed to give students a thorough working knowledge of Christian Science. She decided to prepare herself immediately for this step rather than continue to stew about the job situation - or blame her parents.
Through her study she saw that no problem could be solved by the roughshod methods of human will, personal outlining, or by blaming others. That she must first bring her thinking about herself and others into line with the divine Principle that is God. How? By seeing that God, good, is the only cause. That man is a spiritual idea reflecting God, that he's not a material personality. By consistently claiming this truth of being and responding to it. By not reacting to material, personal opinions about man, either hers or others. By letting go of human pushing.
Mrs. Eddy says in Science and Health (p. 129), "If you wish to know the spiritual fact, you can discover it by reversing the material fable, be the fable pro or con, - be it in accord with your preconceptions or utterly contrary to them." You see, in order for our young friend to discover the spiritual fact about relationships she had to reverse the material fable about man - the fable that he's a mortal personality pro or con this, that, or the other thing. She had to see man as immortal idea - pro Truth, Life, and Love. Her purpose in praying was not to look for the green light for her own human will and the red light for opposing human wills. But rather to strive to know that omnipotent, impersonal†† right alone governs man constantly.
Others Are Made in Godís Image Too
As she let go of the human tendency to react to material, personal measurements of man, she began to respond to the divine purpose by reflecting God's spiritual qualities. She saw she had to give others credit for being God's spiritual image and likeness, too! Shortly she had an opportunity to fill a position that was far better than the one she had originally been so determined to take. Both she and her family were happy about it, too. She began to see it's never who's right but what's right based on the spiritual standard of understanding and humility, not personal ambition. When she got a personal, willful concept of herself and her family out of her thinking, there simply wasn't any sense of conflict to react to. She was freed for progress. And so was her family!
There's a saying that a man who keeps his shoulder to the wheel is rarely seen giving others trouble. He's like a mule - when he's pulling he can't kick, and when he's kicking he can't pull. Now we've got to keep our shoulder to the wheel. How? By making the persistent effort to recognize man as he really is - as a spiritual idea of God, pro Life, Truth, and Love. Like the mule, we're pulling when we're seeing man as spiritual. We're kicking when we're seeing man as material personality, pro or con a certain thing or person. We can't pull and kick at the same time - any more than the mule can! As long as we're devoting our efforts to being reflection - responding only to the spiritual or true concept of man, we can't give others trouble - or ourselves, either, can we? Then we can't be a reactor - upset, worried, or devastated by human actions or material opinions. Such actions and opinions are merely misconceptions of man. That's all. The more we realize this, the less we're troubled by them. We won't be fooled into believing they're real or permit our thinking and experience to be upset by what isn't.
You see, spiritual testimony is all that's really true about man. It's his identity as reflection. This identity becomes clearer as we know ourselves and others through spiritual sense as a spiritual idea of God rather than through the physical senses as material persons. We develop this spiritual sense through prayer. Through prayer we get rid of the mist of material thinking. How? By aligning our thought with the fact of God's allness and man's perfect relationship to Him, to divine Life and Love. In proportion as we see ourselves and others as a spiritual idea of God, pro Life, Truth, and Love, instead of as mortal personalities pro or con anything material, we'll get along with ourselves and others.
Speaking of praying, perhaps you know the story about the minister who asked a little boy if he said his prayers every night. The boy said, "Nope, some nights I don't want nothing." Let's not be tempted to do what the little boy did - pray only when we want something or are in a jam. Let's align our thought with infinite good, spiritual cause, and keep it based that way - quietly, confidently. Then our lives will be increasingly filled with good expressing itself, rather than with the heavy burden of problems. We'll feel the warmth of God's presence and tender love, and reflect it not as person-centered, limited love, but as Christlike, universal love. And we'll respond to this love by including everyone in it - without exception.
Fable of Resentment Reversed
For it's never our family, in-laws, business associates, or church members who give us trouble. It's always our own wrong point of view of them. We need to stop contending with and reacting to material personalities. They're just personal, material points of view of man - misconceptions within consciousness. And where do we deal with these misconceptions? In our own thought. Never outside of it. As we exchange our own faulty concept of man for the spiritual, true concept, the effect humanly is to improve our dealings with others. This will also improve their experience to the degree they're reaching out for the truth of being. But you may say, "What you've been talking about may be all right for dealing with those who look at things the way you do. But I'm in business and I don't deal with a closed corporation of thinking." No, none of us does. All the more reason why we need to see man as he really is.
For example, a public relations man introduced a new plan in a business operation. It aroused a storm of opposition that was personal and bitter. At first he reacted humanly to the bitterness expressed by those opposing his plan. He forgot to respond to the Christlike, spiritual standard of thought. Like the mule, he was kicking instead of pulling. But he soon saw he wasn't getting anywhere that way. What did he have to do? Dig deep into spiritual facts and pray. How? He insisted on seeing man as a spiritual idea of God always at one with infinite good. He stopped reacting to a material, personal, limited, critical sense of man. He reversed the material fable about man - the fable that he's a mortal personality pro or con this, that, or the other thing. He saw man as immortal idea - pro Truth, Life, and Love.
He acknowledged God, infinite good, divine Love, as the creator of all creation. He reasoned then, that all creation must reflect God's goodness and loving nature in limitless measure. He realized that God is the Mind or Soul of man. Therefore man's motives and acts have their source in God alone and reflect only good. That human willfulness, material opinions, ungodlikeness are no part of God and therefore have no place in God's likeness, man.
God-Centered Concept of Man Held
He continued to pray with a clear perception that all of God's ideas have unity of purpose, thought, and action because God is the one and only Mind of man. All of God's ideas are always at one with Him and therefore always in agreement with each other.
By radically sticking to these truths, he noticed that the opposition faded out. The worth of his plan was recognized. It was put into effect with excellent results. You see, our concept of ourselves and others needs to be spiritual and God-centered, not material and self-centered. We need to love one another. How? By seeing man in the image of God or Spirit, instead of in the likeness of mortality or material personality. Seeing man spiritually rather than materially is loving man. Then we can't help but say, "I never met a man I didn't like." And mean it, too!
A professor in a graduate school asked his students, "Who do you consider to be among the great scientists of all time?" A student wanted to know what he meant by a "great scientist." He replied, "One who has helped the world change its concept of itself."
I don't know whether the university group included Mary Baker Eddy in its list but it certainly should have. She has helped hundreds of thousands change their concept of themselves and others from a false material point of view to provable spiritual fact. In doing so, they have been freed from the generally unhappy, limited point of view of mortality and futility.
For many years Mrs. Eddy struggled with the problem of human existence. She was an exceptional student of the Bible and was keenly interested in academic subjects, too. As she studied she became increasingly convinced that the real values in life are spiritual, not material. She saw that if people could really understand God and man's relationship to Him - that is, really understand the wholly spiritual nature of life - they would have the answer to the meaning of existence, and, incidentally, to their own problems.
The opportunity came for her to prove her spiritual convictions. Her life was threatened as the result of an injury. In turning to her Bible she glimpsed the truth that life isn't something that can be circumscribed physically. Why it isn't even a human possession. In reality, life is the reflection of infinite spiritual Being - not a finite, material coming and going. She saw that this truth is just as true now as is was when Jesus proved it. As a result she was healed instantly.
Mrs. Eddyís Response to the Truth
During the next three years she devoted her entire thought to further study of the Bible. She was intent on finding the key to understanding life. The key to proving what Jesus had promised when he said (John ), "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also."
Mrs. Eddy saw that all she or anyone needed to do was respond to God's revelation of His spiritual idea. That is, respond to the Christ, Truth, Jesus taught and lived, the Truth that reveals the wholly spiritual nature of man in God's likeness. And react less and less to false material opinions about man as expressed by people in general. She hoped her own church would accept the truth she had discovered, but it didn't. As a result she established the Church of Christ, Scientist, so that all who wanted to could learn about the Christ, Truth, and practice it successfully.
We hear a lot these days about people on an endless search for happiness and freedom. They seek approval from their fellows. They try to achieve security and status by money, material power, family position. They look for popularity by going along with the crowd and conforming to its ground rules rather than the rules of moral and spiritual law. They try to find love and satisfaction in sensual indulgence. They do almost anything that happens to gratify their sense of personal pleasure and call it freedom. This is the basis for many human relationships today.
Now one of the most pernicious lies about man is the generally accepted theory that man is a human self, dependent upon other human selves and materiality for happiness, satisfaction, fulfillment, freedom. One of the points we've been making is that we can't find these things in a personal sense of ourselves or others. Christian Science makes plain - very plain - that right relationships and lasting happiness are established only as we identify ourselves and others as spiritual ideas of God, never as material personalities.
True Marital Standard Upheld
Let me tell you about a young married couple. The wife was attracted to another man. Now material sensual attraction is one of the most deceptive and subtly debasing aspects of the theory that we must react to material standards and conform to them in order to be happy. This woman's husband was drafted into the service. She returned to work as an executive secretary to a top man in a large business. He was personable, prominent, wealthy, successful. She was offered a definite place in his world. A false sense of human, material values began to take over. She was tempted to worship person or a material, personal sense of man, instead of worshiping God as the giver and satisfier of all life.
She was a Christian Scientist. She knew that deep down she wanted to be faithful to what she understood was the real cause of all life, happiness, satisfaction. But it wasn't always easy. When her husband returned after the war there was a great gulf between them.
At one point he asked her, "Do you want a divorce?" This made her turn earnestly to God for guidance. She prayed to know God as the infinite cause, the only creator, and man as His perfect, satisfied reflection. She prayed to respond only to God's goodness and love. She prayed for the courage to refuse to react to a material or mortal sense of man - either materially favorable or materially unfavorable. She saw God couldn't create an unlovely, critical, dissatisfied person calling itself husband or wife.† She became more thankful for her husband's interests and ideals. She began to want to correct the situation rather than to abandon it. They began to see that their unhappy experience was just a collection of false beliefs about man. Beliefs that man is a mortal personality, separated from God, living his own material life, with his own material will, dependent on his own material decisions. All lies!
They persisted in seeing that all they could reflect or express were Godlike qualities. Like joy, love, integrity, unselfishness. Where? Right where unhappiness, pride, bickering, envy seemed to be. Of course this took devoted discipline based on the spiritual standard not on a human measurement. Their growing understanding of the infinite goodness of God and their inseparable relationship to Him, to divine Love brought them closer to God and naturally to one another. The division between them disappeared. They've continued to grow spiritually. And they've had practical results in a happy, expanding sense of activity at home, at church, in business.
This young woman was also healed of a very difficult skin condition she'd had for many years. Previously a doctor had diagnosed the trouble as eczema and said it was incurable. As her understanding of Christian Science deepened and her application was more consistent, the skin condition was healed. Physical difficulties, temperamental ups and downs - all of the problems of mortality can be successfully solved as we learn what is really true and who we really are. You see, spirituality and practicality go hand in hand.
We've got to change the emphasis of our thinking from a material, personal point of view of existence to a spiritual, Godlike point of view. Then we'll find our life and its fulfillment in God, or Soul. Then we'll realize that people, circumstances and things are not the cause of our happiness. True, we enjoy happiness with people, but our happiness is dependent on God - not on people, not on a personal sense of man. We must respond to the spiritual standard that there's only God and His perfect reflection. And express this in our lives. Then we'll insulate ourselves from the fallout of materialism's blatant and silent allurements. Then the window-pane of our consciousness won't be tainted by materialism, personal popularity, personal hatred, self-satisfaction, criticism, crassness, sensuality. Instead it will be clean and clear to let in the light of Truth and Love. Then we'll be able to see the spiritual nature of God and His creation. See their perfect relationship here and everywhere.
God Denies Place or Power to Evil
Now this doesn't mean that we assume a Pollyanna attitude of pretending the evil in human experience doesn't appear very real. Dishonesty, greed, lust, hatred, gossip, trouble. That we just grin and bear them! That we let them push us around or out! Definitely not! But the defense against all phases of evil is not to think or say, "Evil is true and has power to hurt and destroy, and I'm afraid of it."
No, the sure defense against evil is to understand that God - the one infinite cause - didn't make anything unlike Himself. Therefore He didn't make any ungodlike thing. So in reality evil has no power or place, no voice or audience, no channel or object. It can't come to us - to our consciousness - as or through people, circumstances, or things in our own family, business, church, or elsewhere. Why? Because God, good, is All. We can refuse to react to evil because we know that right where it seems to be is really the very presence of God and His wholly spiritual reflection. To the degree we respond to this spiritual standard, our lives will be, progressively freed from the influence of anything unlike God, good. You know all the water in the ocean can't sink a ship unless some of it gets inside. So evil has no power to sink us if we don't let it into our consciousness. If it doesn't get into our thinking, it just can't get into our experience.
As we've seen, it isn't a material world and material persons that trouble us. It's only our own materialistic points of view of spiritual man and the spiritual universe. There can be only one creation because there's only one God. As we daily accept these truths - and use them - we'll find our world is better - right here - because our thought is better. By seeing man spiritually instead of materially, we'll live as divine reflection rather than human reaction.
Whether the distortion of a world picture
I'm sure some of us know the story about the man who came home from a long day at the office and sat down to read the paper. His little son kept begging him to read him the funnies. Finally the father took a piece of the paper that had a large map of the world on one side. He tore it up to make a jigsaw puzzle for the boy, saying that when he had finished the puzzle he would read to him. The father of course expected to be let alone for a while. But the youngster quickly finished the puzzle. Asked how he did it so fast the boy said, "Well, there was a picture of a man on the other side, and when I got him together, the world, was together."
And so with us, when individually our concept of man is in order - that is, spiritual rather than material - what concerns our world will fall into place. As men everywhere, you and I, everyone, respond only to the truth of creation in God's likeness, we'll live by divine direction as divine reflection. We can make that start individually now, thought by thought, asking ourselves, "Am I reflecting the divine or reacting to the human?"
[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 3, 1963, under the headline "God-like View of Man Improves Human Relationships".]