Christian Science: Its Practical Availability
Louise Knight Wheatley Cook, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Mrs. Louise Knight Wheatley Cook,
One quiet hour is before us, one happy hour, in which to think about God, what He is, and what He does, and His wonderful ways of caring for His children. Christian Science brings you a message which all may hear and understand, and it cannot be defeated in its holy purpose, for it comes to you straight from the very heart of Love itself, the Love which is God.
If anyone is under the impression that Christian Science is difficult, hard to understand, may I disabuse his mind of that at the very outset? Christian Science does deal with the most stupendous facts of existence; yet these facts may be set forth with simplicity. Jesus, the Christ, the greatest teacher the world has ever known, did this. Those who followed him came in many cases from the humbler walks of life, were unlettered and unlearned, and yet so well did they assimilate the tremendous truths he taught that they continued to put them into practice long after he had left them. For three hundred years the early Christians repeated many of his so-called miracles, but after a while, in the world's increasing materiality, their spiritual light grew dim, until it finally flickered and went out. The healing element was lost.
Nearly twenty centuries went by,
and then one who had long been an earnest searcher for Truth, a
proofs which would convince an unbelieving world that there was a definite rule underlying Jesus' words and works, removing them from the realm of the miraculous and supernatural to that high realm where they could be recognized as the most divinely natural and inevitable occurrences in all the world. For three years she devoted herself to the discovery of this rule, and eventually placed the results of her investigations in her book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." And then a sleeping world woke up.
Many of you, no doubt, have stood
in that quiet spot among the beautiful
Her family, while well-educated, well-bred, and of high standing in the community, were not people of great wealth. She had had no experience in promotion and publicity, nor in any of the things which are usually regarded as essential in order to expedite the success of any movement. All she had was God, and a deep, unshakeable conviction that she had laid hold of a truth so vital that nothing could deter her from her purpose to present it to the world. And someone once wrote, "The one thing that is stronger than the tread of marching feet is an idea whose hour has come."
It is a metaphysical axiom that a right idea carries with it everything necessary for the demonstration of its completeness. It cannot be defeated, since Mind's infinite idea reflects God, in whom is all power. It needs no added impulsion. We can follow it, but we cannot "lead" or "push." Since it is ever at-one with the source of all spiritual activity, it is always under divine protection, and proceeds on its way as unconscious of human opposition as is some clear star unconscious of the drifting cloud which may, for a moment, hide it from our sight. This Mrs. Eddy had to prove, again and again, but she held to her discovery at all costs, never for an instant doubting its ultimate acceptance.
The field which Christian Science opens before us is inconceivably vast. Human conjecture has, as yet, glimpsed but a small part of the change which it is destined to make in a world sadly in need of some radical readjustment. And Christian Science is radical. It upsets human theories, breaks down pretense and sham, shatters conclusions accepted unthinkably but never investigated, and carries thought steadily and surely from provable premise to provable conclusion. Its basis rests upon the Scriptural authority that since man was made in the image and likeness of God, and since God is Spirit, man is, must be spiritual. He cannot be material. It says that man, God's likeness, is now, ever has been, and always will be entirely independent of matter, entirely separate from it, entirely apart from all material conditions; that as our textbook states (Science and Health, p. 468), "All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all."
In this forever fact lies man's salvation. This truth about man is the saving power, or the savior, which releases him from the opposite belief that he is a sick, sinning, and dying mortal. It is a law of complete annihilation to all that is unlike itself. Man's health, his happiness, his very life itself, are contingent upon God, upon the fact that because God is, man is; and in this unbroken and unbreakable relationship lies his immunity from all material laws, so called, and material conditions.
To understand man's true status then, obviously requires an understanding of God, whom he is like in quality but not in quantity. The Christian Science textbook defines God as "Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love" (Science and Health, p. 587). There are other names, such as cause, creator, substance, intelligence, Father-Mother, the great I AM, but the seven first given are the ones most often used. To expect to analyze them fully, to try to elucidate the nature and wholeness of Deity in the brief space of the hour at our disposal would be obviously impossible. Let us never lose sight, however, of the great fact that whatever may seem to be the difficulty to be corrected, whether it be physical, financial, or moral, the real need, whether one knows it or not, or admits it or not, is to know more of God, and of man's relationship to Him.
Claim your birthright as a child of God. Do not be afraid to claim it, and to claim it all. Remember who you are. As the father in the parable once said, "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine." Not a little bit. Not just a part. But all. Never allow a sense of lack of anything to remain in your thought. Rejoice that you know this. It is the inalienable right of every child of God to possess that inward peace which is the natural outcome of his understanding of his oneness with the Father. This oneness is as much a part of the real man now as it was "in the beginning," when the morning stars sang together for joy, and a mist had not yet gone up from the earth. It is demonstrable and practically available even when circumstances are such that it would seem impossible to be at peace, to maintain one's mental poise when everything around him seems to be going wrong.
Man is ever the master, not the victim, and the harmony of his real being has never been touched, impaired, impeded, or impoverished by any material condition, for in the great universe of Spirit, no such condition exists. Refuse, to be mesmerized by counterfeits. Know that as that beloved son who is ever with the Father, you are in reality happy, free, and unafraid. Man has no care, no anxiety, no pain, no suffering, no dread. No inharmony of any sort can enter the glorified Christ-consciousness; and there is no other. No one can harm you. No one wants to harm you, for there is but one Mind, and that Mind is wholly good. The real man is never in any danger, predicament, or extremity. No physical appearance or combination of circumstances has the power to frighten him. He is never sorrowful. He is never disappointed. He is never discouraged. He cannot be induced to believe himself a mortal, with a mortal, material body, subject to mortal, material laws, so called. The man God made knows no reality in evil, hence he cannot suffer from it. God knows none of these things, hence man, God's likeness, cannot know them. Our textbook says (Science and Health, p. 567), "To infinite, ever-present Love, all is Love, and there is no error, no sin, sickness, nor death."
The cause of every ill "that flesh is heir to" lies rooted in the almost universal belief that man is material, instead of spiritual. Upon this one erroneous premise mortal mind rests its false conclusions, and when we destroy this, it has nothing left. Annul it with the counterfact that man is spiritual, he is not material. Mrs. Eddy says (Science and Health, p. 369), "In proportion as matter loses to human sense all entity as man, in that proportion does man become its master." Arise from the false consciousness which would persuade you to say about yourself: I am sick. I am poor. I am alone. I am afraid. I am unhappy. I am discouraged. I am wearying for something which I cannot have. I am tired. I am cross. I am a failure. I am not going to try any more.
Instead of dishonoring God by maintaining that a perfect creator made an imperfect creation, and that this creation is a miserable failure, doing nothing right, and everything wrong, why not instantly assert the real man's eternal at oneness with Spirit, and know
that he is all that is lovely and good and true, for he lives, moves, and has his being in God? As Truth's reflection, man cannot know a single one of those infamous lies, for Truth surely knows them not! If Truth knew them, they would be true. If they were true, they would be real. If they were real, they would be eternal. If they were eternal, they would be incapable of change, and man would be like that forever. Man, the beloved son, is not the victim of aggressive mental suggestion. He cannot catch the contagion of surrounding mass mesmerism. In the midst of excitement, insubordination, and lawlessness, he is untroubled and unafraid. He has all he needs every moment, for he is God's satisfied idea.
The Apostle James speaks of the man who beholds his natural face in a glass, and then "goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was." Yes. He "forgetteth" that he is spiritual and not material, and how quickly mortal mind takes advantage of this mental door left unguarded to slip in with all sorts of erroneous and unpleasant suggestions! "You are getting old," it whispers, and the man before the glass, replies, "Why, yes. So I am!" He accepts the suggestion as his own thought without stopping to reason. He just believes what he sees, "forgetting" that Life is God, never in nor of matter at all. He just believes what he sees, "forgetting" that what he sees is only his own thought about himself objectified. Life is not a matter of years. Life includes perpetual unfoldment. There should be greater beauty, freshness, and vigor as spiritual realities are more clearly discerned in all their unutterable loveliness. For Love is Life, and Life is God. Hence as we love, do we begin, here and now, to demonstrate our immortality.
But there are other ways in which this man before the mirror gets discouraged about himself, and among those false suggestions best qualified to make him forget what manner of man he is, is the fallacious argument that he does not amount to very much anyway. Mortal mind persuades him to reason something after this fashion: "I am not talented like others. I lack education; I have never made much of a success of anything. Someone else can always do things better than I can." This, like the belief of age, is no new thing, for mortal mind began to use it successfully in the very early stages of human history. After the children of Israel, under Moses' direction, had made their escape from Egypt, but were yet wandering in the wilderness, Moses sent a small company of chosen men ahead of the others to spy out the land which they were approaching, where a strange and hostile people dwelt. Upon returning, the spies reported that the land was very good, well watered and fruitful, but that it would be useless to proceed, for the inhabitants of that land were giants, "men of a great stature;" and they added, sadly, "And we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight."
Yes. Even at that remote period of the world's advancement, mortals were prone to accept the opinion of someone else about themselves, without stopping to challenge its reliability. Did the men of that country consider them "as grasshoppers"? Then grasshoppers in their own estimation they immediately became. Quite a sudden change, for when Moses sent them out they had been chosen men of valor! How perfectly had the suggestion worked! When one finds himself constantly belittling himself in his own estimation, without really knowing why, it might be well for him to ponder this story. Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me." I can do all things through Truth, the truth of who I am, God's image and likeness. In such circumstances the realization of man's unbroken relationship to God is indeed the Christ, Truth, which frees him from all such mental robbery. Adherence to this realization will enable one to do anything which it is his duty to do, and to do it easily and well.
Perhaps an important decision is to be made, and we doubt our ability to make it. We are still vacillating, uncertain, halting between two opinions. What then? Is Christian Science practically available to help us in this? Will an understanding of our relationship to God free us from this uncertainty? It certainly will, and it already has, in innumerable instances. Make your strong declarations of truth. Nothing is hidden to the Mind which already knows all, hence it is not hidden to Mind's reflection, man. The right answer is at hand, just waiting. It is bound to come. It cannot help coming, any more than the answer to a problem in mathematics can help "coming" when one applies the rule. Continue your work of knowing that your affairs are not in the hands of persons, but in the care of God. The requests of personality and the demands of Principle may sometimes seem to conflict, but if they do, there is but one course open to the Christian Scientist. No family entanglement nor claim of human relationship can complicate a situation already cared for by divine wisdom. Neither so-called enemies nor so-called friends can bias your conclusion. No mesmeric and smothering mist of conflicting opinions can confuse any issue in regard to which you need to make a decision; and that decision once made, under divine guidance, there is no censure, criticism, or condemnation to reverse it, or to dissuade you of its rightness, or to rob you of your joy about it.
Some who are attending a Christian Science lecture for the first time may perhaps have a somewhat vague concept of the nature of prayer, as we understand it. If any such are present (and I hope there are many), it will interest them to hear what Mrs. Eddy says on this subject. There are, we find, three requisites, for she writes (Science and Health, p. 1), "The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, - a spiritual understanding of Him; an unselfed love." Jesus, our great Master, gave us the prayer which has blessed Christianity throughout the ages, the Lord's Prayer, with its humble petitions and its glorious affirmations. Prayer is the true, earnest, sincere desire of a heart turning to God, not necessarily formulated in audible words; but finding its higher expression in those deeds which always prove beyond the power of any speech, however eloquent, what one really is, and where his interests and affections lie.
What is known as a Christian Science treatment is really prayer directed in some particular, specific direction, and for the purpose of healing. It includes those three essentials just given, "absolute faith," "spiritual understanding," and "unselfed love." It has for its basis and foundation the fact of man's unity with the one source of all good, and his consequent immunity from anything which would suggest the absence of this unity, and the annulment of his spiritual status as a child of God. While it is true that some persons may seem to respond to these prayers, or "treatments," more quickly than do some others, there is no reason for concluding that the healing is not for all. Some of us may seem to have traveled farther in devious and dangerous paths than have some others, and so they come to Christian Science bringing with them more of the dust of the journey to be removed. But a Christian Science practitioner does not mind that. His business is to see through that dust of error, to see through it, and beyond it, in order to discern the radiant loveliness and perfection of the real man, whose true being was never touched by any of these phases of nothingness. And of course he has to do this mentally while the dust is still there. A man who had been healed of habitual and excessive drinking by Christian Science once remarked afterwards: "These practitioners are certainly strange people! She never seemed to mind the ugly things I said. And I was surely mean. I see that now. But the worse I acted, "The kinder she used to get." Of course. The farther one seems to be from the kingdom of heaven, the more he needs kindness.
Once in the
Many coming to Christian Science for relief have "traveled far." Those looking on do not always know how far. They do not know how endless may have seemed that journey through the desert of human illusions, nor how hot were the sands! The girl on the comfortable veranda had not the slightest conception of what the desert meant. She saw only its results. Perhaps had she been called upon to endure but a small portion of the hardships which fell to their lot, she might never have come through at all! Let no one look with condemnation and repulsion at another who is laboring under the delusion of some ugly, false belief. Let us rather rejoice to remember that no matter how long that journey may have been, or how far from the Father's house he may have gone, one can always come back quickly, if he really wishes to come.
A Christian Science treatment refuses to judge after the sight of the eyes, or the hearing of the ears. It judges "righteous judgment." Our God, our loving God; never made physical or mental ugliness. Indelible traces of an unhappy past are not in accord with the law of Life, wherein now is the only time. God never made deformity, abnormality, scar, or blemish. Man never was depleted, or deprived of anything needful to his comfort and well-being. God made man to be happy, free, loving and lovable, rejoicing in ease, freshness, wholeness, holiness, health, harmony, vigor, and vitality. In the great universe of Soul, can there be anything useless, superfluous, cumbersome, or burdensome? Surely not! Then we have a right to be relieved of anything which serves no good or useful purpose.
The success of Christian Science when applied to cases of financial difficulty is well known - so well known, in fact, that it may not be amiss to mention here that our pure and holy religion must never be regarded as a sort of Prosperity System. Once in a while someone seems to think that he can appeal to it to "put through" a certain deal, to get a certain position, to sell a piece of real estate; or to bring in an oil well. He usually has it all figured out beforehand in his own mind as to just what particular thing should happen, and then he thinks if he asks God to make it happen, that he is demonstrating Christian Science. Perhaps no one in this room has ever felt that way. If so, I am in a hopeless minority, for that is exactly what I once thought Christian Science to be - a sort of fairy wand to be waved, and then everything would start to come my way. And how I was disillusionized! Because my way and God's way usually happened to be entirely different.
I want to tell you a true story. A little boy went to a Christian Science practitioner to recover a lost bicycle. He was a telegraph messenger, and had to have a bicycle in order to hold his position, "Will you get it back for me?" he anxiously asked the practitioner, and the reply was, "I shall be so happy to work for you." "But will God give it back to me?" persisted the boy. Still the answer came, "I shall be happy to work for you." And then she told him more about God, and how He loves all His children, and wants them to be happy, and to have everything they need, and how they can never lack anything which it is right for them to have. Well, he did not get back his bicycle. To use the child's language, "God did not give it back." But He gave something very much better, because the boy now had to look for some other kind of work, and this other work turned out to be so much more pleasant and lucrative than the old position that he finally came to rejoice that he had lost the thing which was holding back his progress.
One must not, of course, infer that one has to lose something in order to progress. That is not God's way. The little boy did not necessarily have to lose his bicycle, but since he had already lost it, it was for him to prove - as do we all, sooner or later, in one way or another - that, to quote from Mrs. Eddy (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 389), "loss is gain." In these troublous times it often happens that the human activity through which our needs have long been supplied has ceased to function. The world seems to have no further need to buy what we have to sell, or to use what we are making. What then? It only means that if one kind of work comes to an end, another kind of work is just beginning, when one lifts his thought above matter, with its limitations, to seek first the kingdom. Christian Science does not invariably bring back our bicycles, but, if not, it brings us something better and more satisfying. And remember this, if the way through which divine Love supplies our needs is not sometimes changed - just changed - we might forget that good is infinite.
Did you ever figure out that poverty is contagious? But that is true. Keep declaring and knowing that success and right activity are natural and normal and are ours - now. To the Christian Scientist there is but one business, that of reflecting God; so man can never be "out of business" unless he deliberately steps out, of his own accord, to engage in the counterfeit business of dishonoring God by indulging in self-pity, fear, rebellion and discouragement. God is doing His part. Are we doing ours? We may smile at ourselves, some day as we look back upon our present experience, to recall how desperately we clung to something, fearing to let it go, while all the time the Father was so near, just waiting to bestow the greater blessing as soon as we were ready to receive it.
Perhaps some of us feel that in this last year we have lost something much more precious than a bicycle - a lost confidence, it may be, in someone we trusted, or a broken friendship. Or it may be that someone has passed from our sight without whom the world seems very dark and empty. Even so, let us remember that since joy is spiritual it is even higher than mere human happiness; and although "the touch of a vanished hand" would still be sweet, it is not to be compared with the soft touch of angel wings, God's messages, tenderly reminding us that in the abundance of infinite Love there is no change, no lack, no loss, but all is well.
Someone, however, may be thinking: "Then are we to use no initiative at all? May I not even look to a conclusion, work in a direct line, and to a given purpose?" Of course you may. But always bear in mind that first of all that given purpose is to "let" God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Include in your mental work that whether you go or come, buy or sell, stand still or move, say yes or no, it is all under divine direction. The real man, the man God made - and there is no other - is never the victim of confusion or delay. He possesses all the intelligence he needs at all times, and under all conditions, and this reflected intelligence will express itself in clear thinking, calm, unbiased judgment, keen intuition and unlabored right decision. And watch against impatience. Someone once said, "Our impatience sometimes betrays us into rash and foolish alliances which no God attends." Impatience is a lack of trust in God. Impatience may lead one to grasp desperately at something which, were he to take the time to analyze more closely, would be seen as just the outcome of his own fear and self-will, and not God's plan for him at all. Do not snatch at the lowest fruit. Why does anyone do that? The answer is obvious. Because it is the easiest to get. But the easiest is not always the best. Something much finer and more to be desired may already be ripening on the upper branches. Keep your aim high. The best is none too good for the son of God. If one is satisfied with the lowest fruit, that is the kind he will always have.
Shall we not trust God more? When I was quite a little girl I had what was then considered a rather serious childish disease. We were not Christian Scientists, and I recall vividly that one day after the doctor had left, looking very grave, I put my hot little arms around my mother's neck, and whispered, "Mother! Am I going to die?" I can still seem to see the smile on her dear face, and hear her reassuring voice: "Why no, darling. Of course not." I suppose my question must have almost broken her heart, but of course I did not know that. All I knew was that my mother had said I was not going to die, and I lay back on my pillow, perfectly satisfied. For did not my mother know everything? During the weeks which followed I imagine that I was a pretty sick child, but never again did I think of dying.
Dear friends, we all have a Mother more kind, more tender, than even the best of human mothers, and this Mother has said, Ye shall not die. Divine Love hath said, Ye shall not even be sick, or sorrowful, or unhappy, or poor. Can we not have the same faith in our Father-Mother God, that had this little child of long ago? Shall we ever doubt, or be afraid? I know that these are trying days for most of us, indeed I might say for all of us, for the world is passing through a period unique in human history. The impossible has happened so many times that we have almost ceased to wonder. But the more dark the night and the more fierce the storm, the more does the mariner need his chart and compass, if he would bring his ship safely through.
In those two dear books, the Bible and Science and Health, we have our chart and compass, pointing the way through every experience wherein mortal mind would try to make us forget, and lose our way. They are easily available, for in every place where there is a Christian Science church there is also a Christian Science Reading Room, where the public is most welcome. When the wind roars, and the waves pile mountain-high, shall we not find in these "a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall"? Those who have already found in Christian Science that peace of mind and body which the world can never give nor take away are proving that its teachings are as available today as they were centuries ago, when Jesus walked the Galilean shore, and taught them to those whose hearts burned within them as they listened. They are for any, and for all. "Beyond the frail premises of human beliefs, above the loosening grasp of creeds, the demonstration of Christian Mind-healing stands a revealed and practical Science. It is imperious throughout all ages as Christ's revelation of Truth, of Life, and of Love, which remains inviolate for every man to understand and to practise" (Science and Health, p. 98).
[Published in The Marion County Mail of Indianapolis, Indiana, April 16, 1937.]