Spiritual Power and Its Application

 

William Milford Correll, C.S.B., of Cleveland, Ohio

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts

 

If you visit a bookstore or library today you'll undoubtedly be impressed by the flood of publications dealing with human potential: how to reduce your tensions, improve your creativity, and be your own best friend. In everything from "Inner Skiing" to "The Fat Is in Your Head," we're reminded that how and what we think has a strong effect on our experience.

Mental improvement techniques are getting so much attention that it's not unusual for some avid "self-helpers" to be "into" three or four mental approaches at one time. Others drift from fad to fad in search of greater satisfaction. These popular mental methods depend upon such questionable resources as willpower, positive thinking, and hypnotism. It's as if one really could pull himself up by his own mental bootstraps.

Christian Science doesn't dispute the influence of the human mind over the human body. It quite agrees with that. But it leads far beyond the old "mind-over matter" cliché. Christian Science shows that the remedy for trouble comes from God, the divine Mind.

God is the real source of healing and regenerating power. And healing through spiritual regeneration of the human mind isn't really new. Recently I was doing some further intensive research into Jesus' life and work. As I studied the New Testament, I was struck by the tremendous thoroughness and speed of Jesus' healing. He healed disease quickly and permanently. He reformed wasted lives, and even raised the dead in several instances. He's often been called the greatest physician of all time.

What's more, Jesus said his followers should do the works he did. And when we look closely at Jesus' method of healing one thing stands out right away. Jesus didn't examine the physical bodies of his patients! He didn't probe, measure the pulse, or listen to the heartbeat. He didn't apply drugs or pills. He didn't massage the body or use hypnotism.

Instead Jesus turned immediately to his patients' thinking. Here was the crucial area − wrong mental states. It was fear, hatred, jealousy, anger, lust that he designated as the cause of trouble. Belief in evil power, dread of disease, the love of sin − these mental states were at the roots of suffering.1

Jesus' method of healing was to get right at these roots of wrong thinking, what's called in the Bible the "carnal mind." He explained the blessings that come from purity, integrity, unselfishness, mercy, meekness.2 It was a spiritually impelled change in the mental state of his patients that produced healing effects on their bodies. Some power beyond the human mind made this happen. It was the power and control of the divine Mind, God, that Jesus manifested. Instead of using the human mind or human will, Jesus always turned to the divine Mind. He said, "The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works."3

 

Healing Comes from Divine Mind

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, was a profound student of the Bible. She was deeply impressed by Jesus' healing works, his approach to his patients, and the way he taught his disciples to heal. She saw that the conditions of matter seemed of little account to him. Jesus' teaching and work illustrated the Bible statement, "As [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he." 4 Through her study and her own practical experience, Mrs. Eddy recognized that any healing effect in the physical body must start with a change of the mental state. Then, through revelation, reason, and proof, she established conclusively that it's divine influence, not human, that effects the needed change.

She sets forth this basic fact in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, "The procuring cause and foundation of all sickness is fear, ignorance, or sin."5 And then Mrs. Eddy goes beyond this to explain what disease is and how it's removed. She writes, "If a sense of disease produces suffering and a sense of ease antidotes suffering, disease is mental, not material. Hence the fact that the human mind alone suffers, is sick, and that the divine Mind alone heals."6

Before her discovery of Christian Science Mrs. Eddy conducted extensive experiments with homoeopathy. This often included a process by which a drug is attenuated, or diluted, to the point where it practically disappears. She found that a given drug seemed to get more effective as its concentration lessened. Finally it became apparent that it was the patient's faith in the application that made it effective.

Recently there's been extensive discussion of the effects of placebos. These are sugar pills (or any inactive substance) given as if they were drugs. A reporter in the Wall Street Journal wrote, "Now amid the most advanced medical technology, the placebo is gaining a new respect from medical scientists."7 The placebo effect rests entirely on the patient's faith − and on the doctor's faith in the patient's faith in it. The placebo effect is a clear illustration of the basic link between human minds and bodies. It's mental influence and not matter that exercises the control.

Once we begin to realize the control of mind over the physical body the more basic question has to be faced, "Is it the mental energy of the human mind or the divine Mind that's the effective healing agent?" With so many kinds of mental techniques being actively promoted as health-producing agents, we need to understand clearly that none of these techniques rises above the level of the human mind. None of these methods employs the divine power, the divine energy, Jesus applied. He didn't advocate any system based on the human mind. He turned to God as the source of real healing energy. And that's an absolutely crucial distinction.

Some people think of Christian Science as just positive thinking or perhaps even self-hypnosis. But this Science isn't a phenomenon of the human mind. It could never be practiced that way. It rests wholly on an understanding of God, the divine Mind, and His control of man. When one understands the nature of God and of divine law he can then apply this understanding to the problems of his life, and experience the divine-healing power. This isn't the substitution of one human thought for another, but the application of divine Truth that destroys diseased thought and heals the body.

 

Divine Power Overcomes Destructive Mental Influences

God's power is present and available to each one of us. Mrs. Eddy and her students have proved this by preventing as well as healing sickness. She says, "You embrace your body in your thought, and you should delineate upon it thoughts of health, not of sickness."8 When you're watching television and you have a picture coming in that you don't want, what do you do? You turn the switch, you cut off the energy. When the producing energy is cut off, the picture disappears. We may be sure that whatever is going on in our lives, there's some kind of producing influence − some kind of mental energy − that's causing the effect. Can we shut off the energy that's producing sin, disease, suffering and so remove these destructive influences from our lives? Yes, we can! Divine power − divine energy − will cancel out the wrong influence, and provide the right, healing, influence.

This spiritual power is present and available today through Christian Science, and a boy I know has no doubt of it. He was on an overnight trip with his Boy Scout troop. Not long after they started he felt ill and feverish. He was sent back to the base for examination. The boy's parents were informed that he had acute appendicitis and should be taken to a hospital for an immediate operation. This young lad was a faithful student in the Christian Science Sunday School who had experienced God's healing power before. He wanted to rely on Christian Science this time too.

The boy's parents engaged the professional services of a Christian Science practitioner to help him and them through prayer. The trip home took several hours.

On the way the scoutmaster telephoned the parents to see if they wouldn't consent to an operation. The parents and the practitioner prayed. They prayed by knowing that God alone governs man and that the burden of anxiety could be lifted from all who were involved. They knew that this illness was simply the false energy of fear being made manifest on the body. They understood that the higher law of God, the law of divine Love, nullifies such fear and destroys the so-called laws of disease, infection, inflammation.

The symptoms gradually subsided and soon after the boy arrived home he was well and happy. He went to bed, had a good night's rest, got up the next morning, ate a hearty breakfast, and went on to Sunday School. The next day he played in some athletic events and felt no after-effects. He has remained well.

Now this boy's parents weren't just being stubborn or willful in refusing medical assistance. And they weren't just thinking positively. On the contrary, they were obediently yielding to the power of God, divine Love, to preserve and to protect their son from disease and suffering. They knew from past experiences that they could intelligently defend themselves and their children against the aggressive suggestions of disease and fear. They relied on a deep and clear understanding of God and His intelligent care for man.

 

God Is the Source and Center of Man's Existence

Christian Science teaches that God is the central controlling Principle, or Mind, that governs the universe. He's divine Love, Truth, and Life. He's the source of intelligence, of spiritual power, the divine influence Jesus relied on in healing. God is always expressing His divine control throughout His creation. It's through an understanding of the nature and presence of God that we're able to utilize this intelligence, this divine energy.

In thinking about God it's interesting to consider the function of the sun in the solar system. The sun is the central source of light and warmth. It's sending out immense amounts of energy that we're just beginning to use in minute quantities. Sunlight supplies the energy that causes plants to grow, crops to flourish, fruit to ripen, flowers to bloom. Its light warms and vitalizes our planet.

The sun is often used as a symbol of God. Bible writers did this in many instances. We can use this symbol to help us understand God, Spirit, as the actual source and center of man's existence. The outpouring of intelligence and love from the divine Mind, or God, may be compared to the emanation of light and warmth from the sun. God is the creative power that causes man to be, that causes him to express the divine nature. God is the source of love that produces abundance, the source of intelligence that defines and directs man in His image and likeness, the source of all real healing power. This source is purely spiritual, not material. It's actually the power of God, divine Life, that constitutes and maintains the universe.

 

God Never Causes Evil

When God is understood as divine Principle, the source of all real power, then that power is recognized to be entirely good. Coming from God, or good, it could never produce evil any more than light can produce darkness. God is all-powerful, all-present, all-knowing. It's of great importance to realize that because of His divine nature God would never cause evil in any form. He'd never cause a man to be sick or to sin. Then it follows that since these evil effects don't reflect the nature of God, the only cause, they're not part of His creation and they don't belong to man made in His image and likeness.

As we understand this scientific truth we'll be able to challenge evil as literally unreal, the supposed effect of ignorance and fear. Jesus said that he came to do the will of God, his Father: he healed the sick, redeemed sinners, and raised the dead to life. From this we can certainly conclude that it's not the will of God that man be sick and die − that he suffer limitation or that he be subject to sin. These evils are no part of God's creation and they don't belong to man made in God's likeness.

But why do we experience these problems? Well, it's not God's will, but a lack of understanding of the nature of God and of the Science of real being that seems to cause suffering and limitation. Through ignorance of God, human thought seems to be impressed with the belief in evil, the so-called opposite of the divine and true energy of Life. But evil has no source in God and no real existence. Mrs. Eddy explains, "We are sometimes led to believe that darkness is as real as light: but Science affirms darkness to be only a mortal sense of the absence of light, at the coming of which darkness loses the appearance of reality. So sin and sorrow, disease and death, are the suppositional absence of Life, God, and flee as phantoms of error before truth and love."9

 

Christ the True Mental Energy

The light of intelligence and spiritual understanding dawning on human thought is the healing energy that comes from divine Mind. This is the Christ, the activity of divine Truth, the expression of divine Love, or God. Jesus embodied this Christ so clearly that he was called Christ Jesus. Christ is the divine healing agent that uplifts and regenerates. It's the nature of God made manifest, the nature of Love reflected in its creation.

Jesus proved the presence of the divine power in every part of his mission, even up to the culminating events of his resurrection and ascension. Through his understanding of God he cancelled out wrong mental influences and so released himself from the hatred of his enemies. Jesus represented the power of God to destroy evil and to produce harmony and healing. In Mrs. Eddy's words, "The energy that saves sinners and heals the sick is divine: and Love is the Principle thereof."10 This is a far cry from human willpower, hypnotism, or mental manipulation.

Christ is the power of God made manifest. One can see why it's only from the divine Mind that such power, such healing energy proceeds. The human mind has no such resource. That which believes in evil and experiences discord can't cure it. No, it's the Christ, the divine energy, that produces true healing.

One reason we get into difficulty is that we're often convinced of the reality of some power apart from God. We may believe that life and intelligence are in matter. These basic errors are manifest in human experience as fear, sin, disease, suffering. They seem to obscure the divine presence and influence. It's evident that we must lift thought above this mist of error and understand the presence and power of the Christ in order to counteract these false mental influences. Such understanding is prayer that lets in the sunshine of Truth, the light of the Christ.

The Bible says, "The carnal mind is enmity against God."11 Jesus was at war with this false mentality wherever it appeared. Mrs. Eddy explains it this way: "The Son of the Virgin-mother unfolded the remedy for Adam, or error: and the Apostle Paul explains this warfare between the idea of divine power, which Jesus presented, and mythological material intelligence called energy and opposed to Spirit."12

 

No Evil Mind

But the human mind keeps questioning. "Where does evil come from?" Well, where does any mistake come from? It's a lack of the true understanding of God, infinite Spirit. The entrenched beliefs in evil and matter result in discord, sin, and suffering. Even though we call these false beliefs "mortal mind," it's not really a mind at all. There is no real mind opposed to God, and as we cease to believe in it, then we are free.

The remedy for these errors, of course, is their opposites, divine Love, Truth, and Life. The understanding of the oneness and allness of God, the divine Mind, destroys the belief in another mind, another creator, and strikes at the root of error and suffering. It uncovers mortal mind as an imposter. Jesus defined it as "a liar, and the father of it."13

As we learn how to counteract these false beliefs, we may prove that man is neither the victim nor the agent of evil of any kind. Mrs. Eddy explains this in Science and Health. She says. "The exterminator of error is the great truth that God, good, is the only Mind, and that the supposititious opposite of infinite Mind − called devil or evil − is not Mind, is not Truth, but error, without intelligence or reality . . . . We can have but one Mind, if that one is infinite."14

 

We Can Defend Ourselves

The other day I saw a sign on a billboard: "Before television I never knew what a headache looked like." This may seem rather humorous at first, but just think about how this false suggestion is repeated in many people's thoughts and on their bodies. Through published reports of disease, contagion, an atmosphere of uncertainty is created − fear, expectancy of evil. This is an instance of the carnal mind that seems to cause suffering and disease.

Some advertising seems to produce the very difficulty that it claims to cure. In cases of contagion it isn't really the physical contact that causes the contagion but the mental contact, the fear left unresisted. This fear is multiplied through unwise publicity. The picturization of disease often calls up the images of disease in the human mind. Then, through fear, the symptoms of disease are pictured forth on the body.

Matter can form no conditions of itself. It has no intelligence. Actually it's the human mind that causes disease and that which causes suffering cannot cure it. Always it's the divine Mind that dispels the false beliefs, cancels the wrong influence, and brings harmony to human experience.

We're never helpless. Through a knowledge of Christian Science we can stir ourselves out of apathy and material-mindedness. We can affirm the fact of God's perfect government of man. We can realize the presence and power of God, the oneness of divine Mind, and this prayer destroys the fears and false beliefs of the carnal mind.

Healing in Christian Science is accomplished through prayer, through what's called "Christian Science treatment." Now, sometimes the question is asked, "Just what happens in this prayer?" Or, "What goes on in Christian Science treatment?"

First you have to realize that Christian Scientists don't pray to change God or His laws. We don't pray to influence God. We don't pray for some miracle that sets aside the established order of the real universe. We know that God is already absolute good, that His Law is a law of harmony that He creates man perfect, and that He maintains him in harmony and order. Any apparent disruption of God's omnipotent law is a mistake, an illusion, a false sense entertained in human consciousness.

The purpose of prayer is to bring our thought into line with God's law, to understand the already established Science of being, to let go of our false beliefs, and to acknowledge the love of God and His ever-present care for man. This is the standpoint Jesus prayed from. He was acting not just on faith but on spiritual understanding. He understood the law of God and invoked it to heal and regenerate human thought.

The first step in prayer is to get rid of fear. The textbook, Science and Health, instructs us, "Always begin your treatment by allaying the fear of patients."15 As we've said, fear is one of the basic causes of disease and suffering. You get rid of fear by realizing the allness of God, the goodness of God, and the all-power of God. If God is All-in-all (and He is) and God is good, then all is under His loving control, and all is well. When through realizing truth we begin to feel the presence of divine Love, the allness of Love, and the power of Love, then we cease to be afraid. This is often sufficient to heal.

After you overcome fear, you may go on to more specific correction of false beliefs. For instance, there may be a belief that disease is inherited, that it's been transmitted through parent or ancestor. This is literally a mistaken belief. In truth there's no intelligence in matter and no way that matter of itself can transmit disease. It's the belief in this process that causes the trouble, and this false belief is destroyed by divine Truth.

There may be a belief of contagion − that one has become ill through contact with or proximity to some diseased person. Here again it's the fear of contagion − held by you or others − that causes the difficulty and not actual contact or proximity. In reality matter has no intelligence. It can't do anything of itself. A realization of the facts of Science, the presence and power of God, good, will counteract the belief in contagion and free us from such fear.

Sometimes disease is caused by moral fault − some phase of immorality, such as hatred, malice, jealousy, lust. It's only through regeneration of one's thought and life that he can come out from the penalty of suffering. If one is living contrary to God's law, he'll suffer for it until he repents and comes into harmony with God's law.

These are a few of the various beliefs that cause suffering. In this process of prayer or treatment we keep in mind that we're dealing with false mental states. Science and Health tells us, "Disease is always induced by a false sense mentally entertained, not destroyed."16 It's the purpose of prayer to yield up these false beliefs, to correct error with Truth, to realize that there's just one Mind, infinite Spirit, and that man has no mind apart from God.

We must understand that in prayer it's not the human will or the human mind we're depending upon. It's always the divine Mind. It's divine Truth overcoming error, divine Love overcoming hate, divine Life overcoming death. It's the operation of divine Principle that really uncovers the falsity and then the powerlessness of evil or error.

For instance, no human effort can overcome fear. You can't conquer fear through the human mind or through human will. It's only the presence of God that really destroys fear and reassures us with His love.

I think one of the clearest explanations of what goes on in treatment is found in this passage from Science and Health. Mrs. Eddy says: "We must learn how mankind govern the body, − whether through faith in hygiene, in drugs, or in will-power. We should learn whether they govern the body through a belief in the necessity of sickness and death, sin, and pardon, or govern it from the higher understanding that the divine Mind makes perfect, acts upon the so-called human mind through truth, leads the human mind to relinquish all error, to find the divine Mind to be the only Mind, and the healer of sin, disease, death."17

Through such prayer, the Christ is active, in our consciousness, governing our thinking, dissipating the so-called energy of evil. As one faithfully realizes this, he is uplifted by the Christ, Truth, and keeps his experience free from disturbance.

A young friend of mine experienced a great fear of cancer. She sought to reject this fear, to counteract it, through her study of Christian Science. But some time later a large lump appeared on her breast. She was petrified with fear. All the aggressive medical theories of malignancy, the public discussion of these errors, and the general fear of them seemed to overwhelm her. She knew she needed to make even more faithful efforts to rally her thought with the truths of Christian Science. So she deepened her study and turned more persistently to God's direction.

One morning she awoke with this statement from Science and Health in her thought, "In patient obedience to a patient God, let us labor to dissolve with the universal solvent of Love the adamant of error, − self-will, self-justification, and self-love, − which wars against spirituality and is the law of sin and death."18 My friend saw that self-will, self-justification and self-love were the so-called energy producing the effects of disease. It was false mentality, the carnal mind, that was projecting this picture on her body. As she understood the truths of Christian Science, saw how they applied to her, and intelligently counteracted this false state of thought she knew she was making progress. She felt less irritated and fearful, and she began to relax. Her whole life began to reflect more of the presence and power of God. Within two weeks the lump dissolved. She was healed and has remained so. And most of all, she's learned that fear is powerless.

Part of the trouble in my friend's experience had been the fear of death, fear that there's a malignant force that can annihilate man. But the carnal mind and its fears are powerless, whether they appear as medical theories, a prophecy of doom, or a death-wish. They have nothing back of them.

God, Spirit, is the one infinite Life, the creative force that causes man to be, and maintains him as spiritual and perfect. God is the Life and substance of man. This substance is pure. It has no malignancy in it; it can't deteriorate or be consumed. There's nothing in real man of a rebellious nature, no carnal mind, nothing to cause abnormal growth. He's governed by the law of God.

 

 

Divine Intelligence the Controlling Influence

The Psalmist found healing and comfort in God's presence. He sang, "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"19 My young friend proved that God is our strength and our salvation. We need not be afraid.

Do we see clearly the sharp contrast between divine intelligence − the laws of God expressed in harmony, health, freedom − and the false beliefs of the human mind expressed in sin, sickness and death? The one is the creative energy of the divine Mind expressing itself; the other is the accumulated beliefs of mortal mind, the negative influence, the "mythological material intelligence called energy and opposed to Spirit."

When we realize that all causation is mental, we mustn't stop there. We must proceed directly to this fact that there's just one Mind, one absolute cause, one God. We stop trying to explain evil for we find it to be unreal. Mrs. Eddy says, "The Christian Scientist, understanding scientifically that all is Mind, commences with mental causation, the truth of being, to destroy the error. This corrective is an alterative, reaching to every part of the human system. According to Scripture, it searches 'the joints and marrow,' and it restores the harmony of man."20

The author of the first chapter of Genesis, in explaining the creative force, wrote, "The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said. Let there be light."21 And then follows the record of spiritual creation which includes no evil. This portrays the one creative force as divine intelligence or light expressing itself in its ideas, its creation, and in man as God's image and likeness.

Again we can use the simile of the sun manifesting the productive energy that causes things to grow, to renew, to spring forth. Each spring we have a sense of newness of life. Nature is bursting forth with new energy, vitality, freshness. Metaphysically interpreted, this is infinite Spirit or divine intelligence moving upon the waters of thought, expressing itself in unfolding ideas, in health, harmony, and abundance. This divine newness isn't periodic, it's constant. It's the nature of God endlessly unfolding itself in man as God's idea, His image.

Through prayer, through spiritualization of our thought, we feel this newness of Life, this fresh unfolding of God's nature. We reject the belief in any mind apart from God and we affirm the fact of God's allness. God is the only motivating power. God is expressing Himself in man. We gain a new sense of spiritual power when we yield the human to the divine. As we turn to God in prayer, we feel the divine energy enriching our lives and bringing healing and regeneration into our experience.

Remember, it's one's belief in evil that gives it the only power it seems to have. Through understanding God, we can thoroughly disbelieve evil − deprive it of any energy, any reality. It has no place in God's universe or in God's man. The Christ, the divine energy, antidotes evil and destroys it.

In our society today we may meet up with a variety of evil beliefs − hatred, fear, jealousy, lust. There's a right antidote for every type of error. Jesus said, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you."22 As we love our fellowman, we reflect divine Love, we express the divine nature. This oneness with Love renews our energies, resuscitates our powers, and frees us from limitation. Through prayer we realize we're in the presence of God, Life, Truth, Love. And the presence of God is exhilarating, renewing, invigorating. In this prayerful work it becomes obvious that it's God that heals. Not the human mind, but the divine Mind regenerates. All power comes from God. This power is unlimited, it's indeed infinite. Truth is the Mind of man. Love is the intelligence directing and forming man's being. It's no wonder that we praise God and glory in His name, His nature. We can rejoice in the abundance of God's goodness.

Let's be willing to apply these truths to our own individual experience. We can demonstrate the Christ as the divine influence, the power of God made manifest. Consider these stirring words from Mrs. Eddy, "Let us feel the divine energy of Spirit, bringing us into newness of life and recognizing no mortal nor material power as able to destroy. Let us rejoice that we are subject to the 'divine powers that be.' Such is the true Science of being."23

 

       1.  See Matthew 15:19.

       2.  See 5:3-11.

       3.  John 14:10.

       4.  Proverbs 23:7.

       5.  Science and Health, p. 411.

       6.  Ibid., p. 270.

       7.  Wall Street Journal, August 25, 1977, article by Jerry E. Bishop.

       8.  Science and Health, p. 208.

       9.  Ibid., p. 215.

     10.  Message to The Mother Church for 1902, p. 8.

     11.  Romans 8:7.

     12.  Science and Health, p. 534.

     13.  See John 8:44.

     14. Science and Health, p. 469.

     15. Ibid., p. 411.

     16. Ibid., p. 411.

     17. Ibid., p. 251.

     18.  Ibid., p. 242.

     19. Psalms 27:1.

     20. Science and Health, p. 423.

     21. Genesis 1:2,3.

     22. Matthew 5:44.

     23. Science and Health, p. 249.

 

 

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