The Way of Dominion Over Limitations
Gordon V. Comer, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
A Common Desire
Probably everyone here will agree no matter how advanced his understanding of Christian Science may be or how new the subject may be to him, that we all desire a greater sense of dominion over certain conditions in our human experiences which impose restrictions upon us. These conditions, which more or less limit our human lives, may be grouped under numerous headings. We may feel the pressure of one or of several of them. But regardless of their specific names, the suggestions of limited happiness, limited supply, opportunity, companionship, strength, courage, health, peace, or intelligence parade before human thought singly or in combinations, and our lives seem to lack the freedom, the peace, the sense of dominion which we all desire, and to which we all are entitled. It is for this reason that I should like to consider with you the subject: "Christian Science: The Way of Dominion Over Limitations."
Mary Baker Eddy
First of all I shall tell you of the experience in this respect of Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. For many years prior to her discovery Mrs. Eddy struggled with a limited sense of health, of happiness, and of supply. She was of a deeply religious nature and from an early age she treasured the Bible. The childlike faith in the goodness of God which this spiritually-minded woman had caused her to question generally accepted beliefs. She simply could not believe that a good God sent evil to His children. Finally when through recourse to the Bible she experienced immediate recovery from an injury which neither medicine nor surgery had healed, she glimpsed the great truth of spiritual being which had produced her healing and which later enabled her to heal others. And this great fact of true being, as she accepted it and relied upon it, freed her from other limitations which had seemed to be a part of her experience. At first she was unable to explain the method of her healing, and she devoted the three years that followed to a thorough study of the Scriptures. By the light of spiritual understanding which dawned in her consciousness, she discovered that there is a divine law underlying the works of Christ Jesus, and that this law when recognized and applied through right thinking, enables anyone to heal.
Aside from what she gained from the Bible, Mrs. Eddy's discovery was entirely independent of all other authors or sources. She gave the world the result of her own observation, experience, and final discovery. She says: "I have put less of my own personality into Christian Science than others do in proportion, as I have taken out of its metaphysics all matter and left Christian Science as it is, purely spiritual, Christlike - the Mind of God and not of man - born of the Spirit and not matter" (Message for 1901, 27:22-26).
Although Mrs. Eddy was a prodigious writer, very few pages of her writings are about herself. She intended her statements to direct thought away from personality and toward divine Principle. She said: ". . . follow your Leader only so far as she follows Christ" (Message for 1901, 34:26-26). We Christian Scientists are humbly grateful to Mrs. Eddy for her unselfish life and for her devotion to the Christ-Truth that was revealed to her because of her spiritualized thought. Those of us who have gained a greater sense of dominion over limitations because of her great gift to mankind, call her a beloved benefactor, and we are striving to approach somewhat the selfless, pure, spiritual state of thought which made her such a clear transparency for Truth.
Mary Baker Eddy is the Discoverer of Christian Science; she also is its Founder. Her writings, including "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" and her Manual of The Mother Church, state the whole teaching of Christian Science. They remain as the Leader of her great church, and always will continue to lead and to direct it.
The Comforter Promised by Jesus
Christian Science, as Mrs. Eddy revealed it to the world, is the promised Comforter - the Comforter which Jesus said the Father would send to teach all things and to bring to remembrance the truths Jesus spoke (John 14:26). This Comforter, or divine Science, is the awareness of the Christ presence. It is Immanuel, or God with us. It is the "Word made flesh." It is that divine Truth which is made known to human consciousness as better health and in more abundant lives. It is that which reveals the Christ as the spiritual idea of all that is, and therefore as the true substance of all.
The Christ was the true nature of Jesus. Christ and Jesus are not synonymous terms. Christ is the expression of the perfect nature of God, while Jesus is the highest human concept of man the world ever has known.
In the great spiritual illumination of the Scriptures which came to Mrs. Eddy, she saw this true nature of man clearly presented by Jesus, and recognized it as the Christ, or Messiah. She saw that this true, Christly nature is never born and never dies, but that it coexists with God. To Mrs. Eddy's spiritual sense the Christ was undimmed by materiality. She recognized that this perfect Christ, or true being, could express only God as Spirit; and that divine Spirit, or God, could not possibly be rightly defined in terms subject to limitations of any kind. God could not be mortal or material. Her prayerful and thorough search of the Scriptures revealed ample authority for declaring God to be Spirit, or Truth, or Love.
For example, in the Gospel of John we read that "God is a Spirit" (John ). And in 1st John the familiar statement is found that "God is Love" (). Moses said that God is a "God of Truth" (Deut. 32:4). These and many other statements to be found in the Bible indicate clearly that the spiritually minded of those days probably recognized the fact that God must be all-knowing Mind, omnipresent Spirit, divine Truth, infinite Love.
In defining God, Mrs. Eddy writes: "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love." And then she continues by saying that these terms "refer to one absolute God," and are "intended to express the nature, essence, and wholeness of Deity" (Science and Health 465:9-14).
In applying Christian Science to the restrictive conditions in human experience, the spiritual record of creation as found in the first chapter of Genesis is used as a basis. There we find that God made man in His own image and likeness and that He looked upon His creation and pronounced it very good. It, therefore, is perfectly obvious that if man is the image and likeness of God, one who wishes to know more about his true being must begin by learning more of "the nature, essence, and wholeness of Deity."
Divine Principle, the Basis of Christian Science
Mary Baker Eddy writes: "To grasp the reality and order of being in its Science, you must begin by reckoning God as the divine Principle of all that really is" (Science and Health 275:10-12). Isaiah gave a similar admonition. He points out that the Lord, the Holy One of Israel said: ". . . Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me" (Isa. 45:11). But is this what mortals ordinarily do? No. When confronted with limitations they do not begin by asking God concerning the truth about man, but by consulting the material senses. They start with† imperfection, rather than perfection. They start wrongly, but hope to end rightly.
The Example of Jesus
In applying the Science of true being, Jesus evidently knew that God is the only Life. When he stood before what others saw as the dead body of Lazarus, his thought turned instantly to God. You recall that after lifting up his eyes, he said: "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me" (John -42).
Jesus must have known that existence separate from God is impossible. He, for example, said: "I and my Father are one" (John ); thereby recognizing the real man's being as perfect by reflection as God. He knew that health, harmony, peace, and all good are man's birthright. They are qualities of God, forever expressed as man. He recognized the real man's Christlike nature. He saw that this truth of man's being never could be touched by limitations. And when receptive seekers appealed to him for help, their limitations were dispelled. And so it is today. Christian Science reveals the spiritual facts concerning all things and assures sincere seekers that if their thoughts are kept in accord with the divine, healing is realized. Jesus beheld the perfect man. He viewed man correctly. He saw man as God knows man. And you and I can do this also, and we can do it with the same healing results that the Master realized.
Jesus said that if we believe on him we not only can do the works which he did, but even greater works, ". . . because," he said, "I go unto my Father." Our textbook explains this last clause in the following words: ". . . because the Ego is absent from the body, and present with Truth and Love" (Science and Health ). In other words, because the limitations of material sense are no part of true consciousness, which is ever at one with the infinite One, or God, who knows no limitation.
Christian Science reveals that each one of us, in his real spiritual identity, is one with this true consciousness, and that we can, by recognizing this perfect oneness with Truth and Love, realize dominion over limitations. In order to do this we must understand what is meant by reflection. We must use the mirror of divine Science to see the right reflection. Mrs. Eddy says: ". . . compare man before the mirror to his divine Principle, God. Call the mirror divine Science, and call man the reflection" (Science and Health 515:28). And what is divine Science mirroring forth as man? Is it mirroring forth limited health, limited happiness, limited supply, or limited freedom of any kind? No, it is not. Divine Science is mirroring forth the likeness of God - which is manís true being. This is the true view of man, which we shall see everywhere as false material sense gives place to the facts of Christian Science. And if the one who is struggling with limitation of any kind will hold to these divine facts and will not let fear overwhelm him, he will find that the limitations begin to fade out of his experience - he will see Truth revealing itself to him in ways which he can understand. Healing will be realized.
Healing of Sickness
And it is healing in which mankind is primarily interested. If a mortal is in bondage to limitations, he naturally desires to be freed from them. In Christian Science, healing is brought about in the same way, no matter whether the limitation suggested is sickness, sin, lack, or any other inharmony.
If the suggestion of sickness confronts us, we should ask ourselves this question: What does our Father-Mother God, the perfect One, whom John tells us is Love - what does He know about sickness? Can He possibly know anything about sickness, which is diametrically opposed to His loving, good, and true nature? No, He certainly cannot. If God is the all-governing power of the universe; if He is the only cause - the one perfect Life and Being - if He is divine Truth, divine good, where does this leave sickness? It leaves it a false, lying belief with no reality or power, an illusion of material sense. The man God knows expresses now and forever perfect health, perfect harmony, complete and perfect being. That is the view of man which the mirror of divine Science shows forth. That is the truth concerning man. It is the truth concerning the real you, and the real you is the only you there is or can be. If you will accept this divine fact, and use it as a basis of your thought and action, you will bring into your human experience the freedom, the peace, and the harmony to which you as a "joint heir with Christ" are entitled.
All conditions of limitation of whatever kind involve fear. As one's thought dwells upon and accepts the truths just stated he finds fear dispelled. He becomes more assured that in reality there is nothing to fear, for God is All, He is omnipresent divine Love, and where divine Love is there is no fear. We should learn to say with the prophet Isaiah: "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid" (Isa. 12:2). We can trust God and not be afraid for if we are honestly and sincerely striving to be obedient to Him, His tender, patient care for us will become more and more apparent as we journey from a material sense of Life to the spiritual or true.
I know of a man who had a diseased condition of his back; which drained almost constantly, and kept him inactive for several years. The doctors, who had been treating him during these several years, could not heal him. He went to a hospital conducted by well-known surgeons, who told him they could not heal him permanently. He returned to his home and called a Christian Science practitioner. He asked the practitioner what he should do - how he should study in order to be healed. He was told to study "Science and Health," the textbook of Christian Science, with care, and to give particular attention to God as the one perfect cause, and to man as His perfect expression. His attention was called to the reference in the textbook which reads: "There is but one primal cause. Therefore there can be no effect from any other cause, and there can be no reality in aught which does not proceed from this great and only cause. Sin, sickness, disease, and death belong not to the Science of being. They are the errors, which presuppose the absence of Truth, Life or Love" (Science and Health, 207:20). Obediently, he began to study. He lost his sense of fear as the truth began to dawn upon him that if God is the only cause, and God is wholly good, then man, the perfect effect of the one perfect cause, can express only good. He talked with the practitioner only a few times. His healing was accomplished largely through his own study of the Christian Science textbook. This occurred a number of years ago.
Healings of physical limitations such as these are not uncommon in Christian Science. They are taking place all of the time. Any number of instances could be given, if there were time in which to do it, which would show that sickness and errors of all kinds are misrepresentations of man - the result of wrong thinking of some nature. And when these errors of thinking are corrected by the application of Truth, the limitations are healed.
Healing of Sin
And so it is with sin. Sin is a belief that there is some satisfaction, some power to attract, some glamour in matter. It is an extremely limited and erroneous concept of true satisfaction, true attraction, true spiritual being. In our textbook we read: "The belief of sin, which has grown terrible in strength and influence, is an unconscious error in the beginning, - an embryonic thought without motive; but afterwards it governs the so-called man" (Science and Health 188:4-8). Matter claims to have glamour, and by its glamorous suggestions entices those who are not awake to its lying claims into becoming tools to carry out evil's own designs. By its subtle suggestion that it is pleasure-giving, it sometimes appears to blind to Truth those upon whom its limitations are imposed. Sin, Mrs. Eddy says, "is an unconscious error in the beginning." Why not leave it an unconscious error, and refuse to yield one's thinking, or consciousness, to it! Error must always be unconscious, for there is but one true consciousness, even God, or divine Truth. Error has no life of its own. It comes to you, or to me, for consciousness, for existence, and if we accept it as true, we give it all the life or being it has, or ever can have. It is the acceptance of the error that we must guard against. Jesus was tempted in all ways like as we are, yet without sin. It is not the temptation which is the sin. It is the acceptance of it - the yielding to it - which is sin.
Christian Science reveals to us the sinless nature of spiritual man. It shows us that we may look into the mirror of divine Science and see reflected there the true, pure, perfect nature of man, of the real and only you and me. It reveals true satisfaction, true happiness, true attractiveness, true being, and all of the divine characteristics or qualities of God as forever reflected by man. One of evil's chief and wholly erroneous arguments is that satisfaction is outside of man; in other words, that there is something lacking with man. If we will but think of it, error is almost always suggesting that there is something lacking with us. It suggests that health is lacking, happiness is lacking, peace is lacking, supply or something else is lacking. But Christian Science comes to you and to me with the blessed assurance that truly the kingdom of heaven is within; therefore we lack nothing. Man is "the compound idea of God," Mrs. Eddy tells us, "including all right ideas" (Science and Health 475:14-15), and it is thus that the mirror of divine Science reveals man's completeness. Man includes the right idea of satisfaction, and because he does, he has dominion over every limitation which suggests itself in opposition to the right idea.
It is sometimes suggested that Christian Science requires us to give up many things which are pleasurable. Christian Science does not ask us to give up one single thing which is truly good. It gives "beauty for ashes." It enables us to see and to appreciate true satisfaction. It gives us a sense of happiness and of freedom which we have never known before. And as the result of this, we find that we have not given up anything but a wrong sense of satisfaction in exchange for which we have awakened to a higher and truer sense of it.
A man addicted to the periodic excessive use of alcohol called a Christian Science practitioner for help. While he was working for the patient it was revealed to the practitioner that the drunkenness followed periods of mental depression - periods during which a great feeling of inferiority came to the patient. It was, therefore, primarily a feeling of inferiority which needed to be healed. In this case, alcoholism was but a by-product of inferiority. The practitioner pointed out that inferiority is a limitation never imposed upon man by God. Inferiority denies man's completeness as a child of God - a fact which is undeniable. It challenges the unchallengeable truth that God is no respecter of persons. It lies about the demonstrable fact which Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians (4:13) that one can do all things through Christ who strengthens him, which fact proves man superior to every suggestion of a limited, material sense of things. As these truths began to find acceptance in the patient's thought, the limitation of inferiority was healed, and with it came the healing of alcoholism.
In "Science and Health" Mrs. Eddy writes: "The counter fact relative to any disease is required to cure it" (233:28-29). The counter fact of inferiority was found to be the superior, or better stated, the wholly perfect nature of man as a child of God.
It should not be inferred, from the experience I have just told, that inferiority is always the cause of alcoholism. There might be many so-called causes for it. But no matter what the cause may seem to be, if the problem is honestly faced, and if the counter fact of the error is accepted into human consciousness, and held to, the error will be healed.
God the Source of Man's Supply
There probably is no other suggestion of limitation which causes more anxiety and fear than that of insufficient supply. The problem of how to acquire financial security for present and for future needs is one which perplexes and frightens many people. In response to the question: "What are you doing now?" we often hear some one say: "Oh, I'm still trying to make a living for my family, but it's pretty hard to do."
There must be something all wrong with that kind of thinking; for we are told in the Bible that God made all, and made it very good. God's work is finished, and because He is divine Love it is unthinkable that He would fail to provide all good for His children. Man is God's reflection and expresses His infinite goodness.
What is the basis of good living? Is matter the basis of it? No. It could not be. That which is living must express Life, and the only Life is God, or infinite good. But some one may say:† Well, that sounds all right, but how does that help one to provide the necessities of common everyday living? Well, it does, but perhaps in not exactly the same way you may at first think the need must be supplied. Christian Science does not show us how to demonstrate money or things, but it does enable us to demonstrate the very presence of right ideas, and these ideas in turn, when accepted into human consciousness, begin to manifest themselves to us in ways that meet the present human need. "God," Mrs. Eddy writes, "gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies" (Miscellaneous Writings 307:1-2). One's need is not for material things, but for right ideas.
Christian Science enables us to recognize something of true substance. True substance is spiritual understanding. Spiritual understanding is never at the mercy of limited, material beliefs. It is always under the divine law of unfoldment. As we accept this divine fact, and hold to it, it operates as a law of success in our lives.
There is always a need for right ideas. Today most of the large corporations offer liberal rewards for ideas that will improve their methods, and they encourage the submission of them for careful consideration. Ideas of this description, of course, concern human footsteps and merely hint the divine. But as we begin to understand divine Mind or God, the true source of all right ideas, and become receptive to these right ideas - as we become better listeners, these ideas begin to reveal themselves to us in ways we can understand and utilize. The right ideas are revealed to us and with them the right human steps to be taken. There is nothing miraculous about it. It is pure Science in operation. Right ideas are revealed to receptive, honest thoughts, and as they are intelligently and industriously applied, success is assured.
I know of a family who at the time I first heard of them were struggling bravely, but to all appearances unsuccessfully, with a problem of very limited supply. They were poorly housed, poorly clothed, and poorly fed. The father of the family was employed, but only intermittently. His wages were small, and they tried vainly to stretch a little money to go a long way. Now one's first thought might be that the need of that family was for more money. But that was not the need. The need was for more orderly, more intelligent thinking. Christian Science enabled them to bring about in their thinking the needed changes. There have been healings of faults of character, of wrong thoughts about service, about home, about supply, about human relationships, and as these healings have come, there has been a constantly increasing sense of true substance, of true supply, and of true happiness from serving. The outward manifestation is that of a much happier family, attractively housed, well clothed, and well fed.
If makes no difference what disguise the suggestion of limited supply wears. It may suggest that one has no employment; or that he has no money; or that he has not enough money; but whatever it is, being evil, it denies the nature of man as God's reflection. It denies the infinite abundance of good. It is not part of God, and therefore it is not part of God's man. These things not being of God cannot be imposed upon God's idea, man. Intelligent, scientific thinking along this line will enable one to dispel the illusion of limited supply. One might paraphrase the last verse of the last chapter of II Kings in this way: And man's allowance is a continual allowance given him by his all-loving Father, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life.
The healing of sickness, of sin, of lack, or of whatever limitation may be suggested to one, is accomplished by prayer as taught in Christian Science. To this subject Mrs. Eddy has devoted the first chapter in her textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." It is a chapter which ever affords to students of Christian Science inspiration, spiritual strength, and a continuously unfolding sense of spiritual being. Our textbook teaches us that desire is prayer. What kind of desire do we mean? Do we mean that a desire to be freed from the limitations which mortal mind would impose upon us is the whole of prayer? No, indeed. The desire must be higher than that. It must be a desire to know more of God and His creation.
I happened to notice sometime ago a sign which read: "Prayer changes things." The statement stood out in bold letters and challenged thought. But it is helpful only insofar as it means that righteous prayer is the acknowledgment of God's presence and power. The statement needs to be analyzed. Does God know anything about evil things? Habakkuk answers that question by telling us that God is of "purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity" (Habakkuk ). We, then, do not ask God to change the things for He knows nothing about material things; but through prayer we change our thought about them. Through prayer we are led to see God's creation aright as wholly spiritual, and this establishes in human experience an improved condition of things.
Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health (2:1-4); "What are the motives for prayer? Do we pray to make ourselves better or to benefit those who hear us, to enlighten the infinite or to be heard of men?" And then a few lines further on she adds: "God is not moved by the breath of praise to do more than He has already done, nor can the infinite do less than bestow all good, since He is unchanging wisdom and Love. We can do more for ourselves by humble fervent petitions, but the All-loving does not grant them simply on the ground of lipservice, for He already knows all." Note that Mrs. Eddy says we can do more for ourselves by humble, fervent petitions. We pray that we may be released from the limitations of belief in a selfhood apart from God, that our eyes may be opened to the realization of the complete and perfect nature of man as the child of God.
Such prayer changes one's point of view; it turns thought away from the delusive mirror of material sense to contemplate reality as reflected in the mirror of divine Science.
The best way to begin to save the world is to rule out of ourselves all that is unlike God, or good. When we can with the sage pray: "Dear God, reform Thy world beginning with me," we shall have begun rightly.
Christian Science teaches that sick limited bodies, or a sick limited world, are evolved from sickly thoughts. And so it is clear to Christian Scientists that as their thinking about these things improves, their improved way of thinking will begin to express itself by way of freer bodies and a more orderly, harmonious, and peaceful world. We are not taught that we can close our eyes to individual problems, or to the problems of the world and merely say: They do not exist. This is far from true. But we are taught that as wrong thinking gives place in individual consciousness to right thinking - to spiritual thinking, or true prayer, the path leading to the realization of "Peace on earth, good will among men" will be more clearly seen.
We long for peace for the world and for ourselves. Many of us have loved ones who are serving in the armed forces of our country, far away from home. We are eager that our prayers will bring those loved ones strength, freedom, peace, and safety, and that we may realize for ourselves a certain measure of quietness and of assurance during their absence. True prayer will bring, all of these. It will reveal to us in the mirror of divine Science man inseparable from God, safe and secure in divine Love's everpresence. With confident assurance we can declare with the Psalmist: "Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me" (Psalms 139:7-10).
It makes no difference what condition of human experience seems to be limiting our perfect freedom, Christian Science will help us. Yes, it will heal us, if we are receptive and ready for the healing. Christian Science comes to us right where we are. No requirements are made of us which are impossible of fulfillment. Regardless of what our problem may be; regardless of what our situation in life may be; regardless of the length of time during which some problem may have been present with us; regardless of any negative argument, if our desire is right, if we are honest and sincere, if we are willing to think differently about some or many things, and will devote a reasonable amount of time to the study and application of the teachings of Christian Science, we will gain that same sense of dominion over every known kind of restrictive condition which countless numbers of Christian Scientists have gained, and are gaining daily. Christian Science offers us the "pearl of great price" and helps us in every way to claim and to enjoy the use of it.
The rules for demonstrating Christian Science are simple and easily followed. Mrs. Eddy says: "Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts" (Science and Health, 261:4).
Obviously, the enduring is that which expresses eternal Life, or God; the good, the all-loving nature of God; and the true, that which reflects divine Truth, or God. When we speak of holding thought steadfastly to these divine qualities, do we mean that we merely repeat words, and continue to repeat them until we are free? No. We do not mean that. We mean that we must make these qualities our own - we must strive to realize that they express the true nature of God; hence of man, God's reflection. We must keep before us the mirror of divine Science, where we see perfect creation forever expressed. We accept God as the substance, the Life, the intelligence, the very existence of all. And even though, at the moment we may not see clearly through the mist for which mortal mind is responsible, we know that whatever beclouds, distorts, or limits our sense of the divine and perfect creation, in any way, is without power or reality. In other words, as we entertain thoughts which express God's nature; as our thoughts dwell upon those Christ-like qualities comprising the real man; as we learn better to appreciate, to understand, and to love those Christlike qualities, we will see clearer expression of them in our own lives.
These truths could not be better summarized, nor more clearly or more beautifully stated than Mrs. Eddy has done in her book, "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany" (160:5), where she writes: "To live so as to keep human consciousness in constant relation with the divine, the spiritual, and the eternal, is to individualize infinite power, and this is Christian Science." There is a simple, understandable, and demonstrable statement of Christian Science. The logic of it is clear. It is the rule for individualizing the infinite power of good.† It is Christian Science, and it is the way of dominion over limitations.
[Published in The Evening Star-News of Culver City, California, Oct. 14, 1944.]