Christian Science: The Recognition of True Being
Lucia C. Coulson, C.S.B., of London, England
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Miss Lucia C. Coulson, C.S.B., of London, England, lectured on "Christian Science: The Recognition of True Being" Monday night in Cadle Tabernacle under the auspices of Third Church of Christ, Scientist, Indianapolis. Miss Coulson, who is a member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Mass., was introduced by Lewis F. Malcon. Her lecture follows, substantially as it was given:
A remarkable statement of that most remarkable man, Sir James Jeans, President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, reads as follows: "The nature we study does not consist so much of something we perceive, as of our perceptions. . . . The objective and materialistic universe of the Victorian natural scientist is proved to consist of little more than constructs of our mind."
The first thing to be noted in this statement is its acknowledgment of the fundamental change in the attitude of natural science since the Victorian era, the great advance it has made, that indeed it has moved from a material to a humanly mental basis. The second thing of note is the incentive it gives to mankind to improve its thinking, that its constructs or concepts may be improved; for, as Sir James implies, if they are changed and formed anew, their objectification will be changed and improved. This indicates clearly the unity, the true relationship, of the subjective and objective.
The power to think is the greatest of all gifts. Indeed, since "thought is the essence of an act, and the stronger element of action," as Mary Baker Eddy has written (The People's Idea of God, p. 10), it may be said to be the one and only power; and yet how lightly and carelessly we exercise our great prerogative - the power to think? People still ignore the fact that thought is formative, that their experience is their own concept.
Now it is self-evident that there must be right instruction to enable thought to be rightly constructive, and instruction or true education is the greatest need of mankind. As long, however, as we are dealing with the so-called human mind, with its many fears and failings and limitations, we are inclined almost to despair of finding a way to lift it out of itself and establish it in ways that are just and right and peaceable. Here divine Science comes to the help of the human mind with its basic statement that God is Mind, the only Mind, and that this divine Mind is the Mind of man, to be claimed and demonstrated. The only expression of this perfect and immortal Mind is necessarily immortal and perfect, and its universe of spiritual ideas is included within its own infinitude.
In "Miscellaneous Writings" by Mary Baker Eddy we read (p. 69): "The Principle of Christian Science is divine. Its rule is, that man shall utilize the divine power." Here is the hope and promise of the Science of Christianity, that we learn to utilize divine power. In other words, that we avail ourselves and ally ourselves with immortal Mind and its power to correct and govern and redeem the so-called human mind.
Most right-minded statesmen today are already planning to construct a new and better and juster world order, with more equal opportunities for all. They are realizing the tremendous reconstruction that must take place when the present strife is stilled. Most of us will agree that there must come better and more equal advantages for all individuals, and also for all nations. Wise and disinterested persons are evolving plans; but what hinders the reformer at every point are the greed and selfishness which seem inherent in human nature, the qualities of resentment, jealousy, revenge, and so on, which have to be dealt with. As a true humanitarian said to me not long ago, the problem is to forestall and prevent the callous, relentless scheming of those who want only their own profit and the exploitation of natural resources for the benefit of the few. In effect, the constructs or concepts of our own thinking are not good enough.
At this point Christian Science intervenes with an entirely different concept of reform. It starts from the other end, so to speak, and demands a complete change of attitude. Starting with God, divine Mind, as the great First Cause and remembering that like produces like, it is easy for us to see that the outcome or offspring of this perfect divine Mind is of necessity perfect and divine, and that we must change and exalt our concept of man in order to bring to light the man of God's creating. We must stop trying to make a mortal immortal, stop viewing through a distorting veil God's creation, and changing our attitude, hold fast to the facts of perfect God, perfect man, and a perfect universe as the starting point from which to obtain higher and better human concepts. This change of attitude is a change of consciousness. It involves the acknowledgment that God is and that His divine power is humanly available, humanly demonstrable, as we recognize our sonship, our divine origin.
Just as long as you keep your mental gaze fixed on the narrow opportunities that seem yours, on the sordid phenomena of mortal existence, on the destructiveness of the carnal mind, just so long will these conditions continue to be your daily experience; but fix your gaze as firmly on things eternal, beautiful, and spiritually desirable, on the infinite opportunities, the liberty, the plenty, the satisfaction of divine reality, and your present human experience will inevitably grow brighter and more beautiful.
Do you ask why? Because, whether we are aware of it or not, the words of the Apostle John are true - "Now are we the sons of God." Now are we immortal, spiritual, divine, and as we claim this divinity, it comes through, so to speak, becomes ours consciously; for the ultimate goal for each one of us is identification with the divine. It is also the present fact, and you cannot change a fact. When the mists sweep over a beautiful landscape, first a tree may be obscured, then a lake, and finally a mountain; but nothing has happened to the tree, the lake, or the mountain - they are there just the same, they are unchanged. If the facts of being should seem remote, obscured, has anything happened to God? Has anything happened to man? Has anything happened to the universe? No. They are, as they always have been. The mists of material sense cannot change or affect them. They constitute being - our being - and therefore our being is not in the mist.
The whole object of true education is to bring to light what we already are, to make us aware of our potentialities. The slum dweller is not aware even of his right to decent living, of his right to pure air, good food, and the opportunities to rise. Higher up the human scale there are many whose lives are spent in routine and drudgery, and who seem ignorant of their right to leisure, to expansion of experience, to the enjoyment of the finer ways of living. The businessman whose whole life is spent in the accumulation of dollars might be said to belong to this class.
Then comes the question: how many of us anywhere are awake to our rights as the sons of God and are claiming them? This is a Christian country, and in all Christian countries the Bible is taken as the spiritual guide which we believe in and profess to follow. It states that man was made in the image and likeness of God. If this be true, then it is our right and duty to aspire to and claim for ourselves all that God has, as His image or expression, to be content with nothing less. The point is this - that only as we become aware of our potentialities and possibilities and affirm and demand them, only then are we ready to rise and advance, to make progress individually and collectively. Discontent with the material must precede spiritual satisfaction. This change of attitude or outlook is spoken of in "the pearl of the parables" as going to the Father. We are told of a young man who took his whole fortune and squandered it in riotous living. Then came a time of famine, the famine which always follows reckless, selfish extravagance, just as abundance follows selfless giving. At this point the young man found himself completely deserted. Mammon, the god he had been worshiping, did nothing for him. He must have doubtless feasted many, but he got no return. In the graphic words of the Master, "and no man gave unto him." But here comes the crucial point of the whole story: when mortal mind offered him nothing, when the hollowness and the deceptiveness of worldliness were realized, when, in fact, "No man gave unto him," then he came to himself. Then at last he was ready to begin the journey to the Father - to divine reality.
Now, let us mark the steps he took. First, he arose. "I will arise and go to my father" - arise from the burial of mind in matter, of Soul in sense, arise to the true stature of man. But he did not pause there. "I will arise and go." Immediate action followed his resolve; he began to put his aspiration into practice. He went - where? What was his goal? No halfway house, no better belief alone - "I will arise and go to my father." That is the only destination for each one of us.
When the ego seeks identification with the Father, the right way has been chosen which inevitably shortens the process. So he arose and went. It may have seemed to him at that moment a long journey. It may seem long to some of us who are standing at the threshold of the way. It may have seemed to him full of difficulties, as it may sometimes seem to us also; but behold what took place! At the very start, "when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran" - the infinite love of the divine Principle of his being, at the first turning of the human in the direction of the divine, met and encompassed him. Then followed the kiss well described by a passage in the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy (p. 561), as "divinity embracing humanity" - in other words, the divine taking the human into its arms.
So if there should come moments of discouragement to the beginner, let him recollect the exquisite comfort of this passage, "the father ran." But remember the son was on his way. He had changed his attitude. He was walking towards his father, not away from him. That is the point. If we are mentally walking in the direction of material ways and means, if we are using the weapons of resentment and envy, then we are not on the way to the Father, but are traveling on a road which He cannot see. Truly the father ran to meet him, but people can only meet if they are moving towards each other.
Let us take even the tiniest step in the direction of purity, of spiritual desire, of love that is not personal but universal, go just a few yards towards mercy, the divine mercy, which is at the opposite pole to condemnation; and then as soon as the first and smallest step is taken, the Father runs, the kiss of the divine enfolding and encompassing the human is given, and the reward exceeding so unutterably the desert is poured out.
This passage from sense to Soul, this journey to the Father, is a change of attitude, as we have seen. It is a question more of being than of doing, of being or becoming like unto the Father. Science and Health says (p. 337), "The Son must be in accord with the Father." There must be an assimilation of the divine qualities. How is this accomplished? By learning what we truly are, learning how even now we appear in the Father's sight. In her book "No and Yes" Mary Baker Eddy says (p. 16). "For God to know, is to be." Therefore what God knows to be, we are. In Matthew we read, "No man knoweth the Son, but the Father." What God knows of man is the only concept we can afford to entertain, and that man knows even as he is known, as the Master further implies at the end of the verse already quoted from, "neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son."
This perfect coincidence, this complete knowing, is what enables us to heal the sick. This is what enabled Jesus to demonstrate in such full measure the Christ, so that the Christ characterized and determined his every thought and action. The two definitions given in the textbook of "Christ" and "Jesus" are worthy of deep consideration. "Christ" is defined as "the divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error" (p. 583). And "Jesus" is defined as "the highest human corporeal concept of the divine idea, rebuking and destroying error and bringing to light man's immortality" (p. 589). Here the distinction made in Christian Science between the spiritual idea or Christ and the human Jesus is clearly drawn. In the measure that we discern and express the Christ will our humanity be purified.
To illustrate: as we gain and claim the Christ-idea, the right idea of home or of companionship, which is purely spiritual, we shall have with us in demonstration the highest human corporeal concept of the divine idea. It may be said that the right idea of transportation is omnipresence. As we discern and claim this spiritual fact, we shall have with us the highest human corporeal concept of the divine idea, manifested to us in our human experience as safe and harmonious travel or conditions.
This is the only method by which to set about world reconstruction which will be enduring, because only when the human is subdued and governed by the divine is there sufficient wisdom to build lasting structures. The Christ-idea, the right idea of building, must inform the human, that it may be the house built upon a rock. It is through the Christ, then, that we approach the Father - divine reality. In the words of Mrs. Eddy (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 196), "The 'I' does go unto the Father, the ego does arise to spiritual recognition of being, and is exalted."
In Christian Science God is revealed to us as Father-Mother; therefore this going unto the Father is also going unto the Mother. It is the province of the mother to feed; and the food the divine Mother gives is love. Everywhere today in the countries engaged in war we hear of the shortage of food. When war starts, lack of food always follows. The food the world is starving for at present is love. Then we can help to feed its famine. What an incentive! Let us love and love and love impersonally and universally, that we may help to stay its hunger.
Love is not emotion. It is action. It must be lived - lived when that living may mean a hard experience, a difficult or dangerous undertaking; for to love is not always easy, but it is ever and always worthwhile. And whom are we to love? Just our friends? No; those who may have wronged us, those against whom we seem to have a grudge, those from whom we differ. The Way-shower, the great Example, said, "Love your enemies." This we are not always willing to do; but it is imperative that we learn to love as Jesus loved, for only thus can the Son be in accord with the Father, only thus can we find identification with the divine.
"God so loved the world," we read. Let us so love that we conceive our world as lovely and lovable; for the lover sees no fault in the beloved. This is the loving that seeks no return, that does not demand a worthy object on which to shine; and this is going unto the Mother. Such love is true prayer. As the poet wrote:
"He prayeth best who loveth best
All things both great and small.
For the dear God who loveth us
He made and loveth all."
Here it may be objected that to conceive and perceive our world in such a manner, in contradiction of all that our senses present, is senseless and deceptive. To this it can only be answered that it is the senses that are deceptive, that what appears to us are the constructs or concepts of our own mistaken thinking, and that as we change that thinking the manifestation changes. This is proved to be true every time a case of sickness is healed by just this same method, by understanding that the body simply registers a mental condition.
An illustration may help here. When a wind arises and sweeps over that great body of water we call the ocean, its surface is ruffled. The wind is unseen, but its effect is visible. And as the wind continues, the agitation increases, until great waves white-crested reach the horizon, and the ocean becomes the most tempestuous spectacle imaginable. But it is not the ocean that is tempestuous. Let the wind die down, and in a short time the great stretch of water lies calm and still and blue, without a ripple. This can be likened to the effect of the human mind, so-called, upon the body. Stormy, troubled discordant thinking beats upon the body, as it were.
Thoughts of hate or fear or sorrow toss and disturb it, leaving their impress. But let the wrong thinking cease, and the body, like the sea, responds - the unseen cause being removed, it is left calm and well and normal. Because, you see, the body is innocent. It was not the body that was disturbed and troubled; it merely reflected the disturbed thought. The Christian Science textbook tells us (p. 425) that "consciousness constructs a better body when faith in matter has been conquered."
Let me give you some instances of healing which make clear the mental nature of cause and effect, and of the way in which the divine Mind changes and corrects the action of so-called mortal mind, until it is further recognized that the divine Mind is the only Mind. One evening a woman called to see a Christian Science practitioner. She was suffering from a chill, and her body was aching; but that seemed less to her than her troubled thought. She began pouring out her fears to the practitioner until the very air seemed full of them. The practitioner stopped her and said: "There is only one power anywhere, and that power is God, good. There is only one presence anywhere - the presence of good.
You are yourself the very expression of that one good power and presence." As she finished speaking, the restless troubled movements of the patient ceased. There was a great stillness, and in a few minutes the patient rose to go, saying she was healed physically and mentally. Later, she stated that the fear never returned.
Again, I know of a man who was a confirmed drunkard, and at the end of a long bout he was desperate. In his despair he was willing to try Christian Science. The practitioner said: "This craving has nothing to do with you. It is only the perverted longing for the joys of Spirit, for the wine of inspiration. In reality you are hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and you shall be filled." The man was healed there and then by that simple truth. You see the separation that had been made in both cases between the mortal and the immortal. When we deny the prodigal and affirm as selfhood the beloved son, we are making the separation required between the false concept and the divine idea.
This brings us to the right idea of sacrifice. The beginner who has taken up the study of Christian Science learns that in reality there is no sacrifice to be made, because man already has all; and there is nothing too good or too great for him to claim and demonstrate. But at the same time Science makes it very plain that there is a right idea of sacrifice, even the sacrifice of the false concept, and that in every circumstance this sacrifice is demanded. Entering the liberty of the sons of God does not mean wallowing in the ease and glamour of the material senses. If there is one sacrifice of concept more than any other which divine Science calls for today and always, it is the sacrifice of ease in matter. The athlete must discipline his body in order to attain, or he becomes what is called "soft." The mental athlete must discipline his thinking constantly, ceaselessly, or he will become "soft" mentally. No one can sit down and let another do his thinking for him, nor gain mental strength without obeying the demands that are made upon him for demonstration.
What if the demand made on us is a hard one, requiring the sacrifice of a false concept we prefer to retain? We cannot evade or avoid it if we have named the name of Christ, Scientist, and remember the selfless courage of the Master and the selfless devotion of our Leader, who dared and braved the whole onslaught of the carnal mind to give us what we accept so complacently today. I spoke of the demand made upon us for demonstration, which is the inescapable requirement of Science and the essential equipment of the Scientist. The student of chemistry, having studied his textbooks, must go into the laboratory to demonstrate what he has learned.
The student of Christian Science, having studied his textbooks, is required to demonstrate in some measure what he professes. This requirement of demonstration is also the greatest of opportunities. It enables us to become the master of circumstances. Instead of being a mere helpless onlooker at fate, so to speak, it puts into our hands the mental and spiritual weapon with which we can forge ahead along the path of liberty and unfoldment, overcoming the obstacles in our way, conscious of our right to overcome them. There is never an occasion or circumstance when there is not something a student of Science can do to overcome, because there is never an occasion or circumstance when there is not something a student of Science can know, and true knowing, or knowing the truth, is overcoming.
I shall never forget the great hope which came to me like a great light when, on starting the study of Christian Science, I realized that I need not submit to unjust conditions, unhappy circumstances, or lack of opportunity, but that I could refuse them, overcome them, and in the measure of my understanding determine the outcome and prove or demonstrate liberty, progress, and the fullness of being. This is the great gift divine Science bestows on us, and yet sometimes it seems as if, having received it, we become sleepy and let it drop out of our hands.
There is nothing that is more loosely talked about than demonstration. It is sometimes spoken of as if its purpose was to produce material success. We do not demonstrate cars, houses, positions, wealth, or material possessions of any sort. We demonstrate spiritual being; we demonstrate scientific truth, eternal Life, and the power of divine Love. Now it is quite true that when we see more of the truth of being, of our oneness with Principle, when we see that we are individually indispensable to God because we express Him individually, the human result may be ideal work. In the same way, when we realize the manner in which divine Love meets every need abundantly, the result may be manifested as increased supply, just as the realization of eternal Life will manifest itself in a healed body. At the same time, the demonstration is always the vision, the spiritual, which manifests itself to us in the flesh, so to speak, as we understand it: in fact, the Word made flesh.
In the overcoming of lack and limitation and impoverishment, which are so widespread in many parts of the world today, is the Word made flesh through divine Science. The great economist Sir George Paish, speaking at Newcastle, England, in 1939, said that this earth was supplied with an abundance to more than satisfy the needs of every living creature upon it, and that only one thing was needed to make that superabundance available to all, and that one thing was friendship and confidence among the nations.
He was speaking from the economic standpoint alone, and yet the remedy he stated was a purely mental and ethical one. That is the truth about supply. It consists entirely of ideas, of qualities of thought. An English financier once made the statement that another word for credit was confidence. Now how can this confidence be obtained in the midst of the flux and confusion of present conditions, the complete uncertainty of present human affairs? I know of only one way, and that is by understanding the changeless fact of man's unity with the ever-producing Mind.
You cannot shake the confidence of one who has accepted and in some degree proved this fact. You cannot shake the confidence of one who understands that the divine command, "Give, and it shall be given unto you," is law, more certain of fulfillment than any human law ever promulgated, and therefore you cannot interfere with or interrupt his supply.
The truth is that the superabundance of this earth spoken of by Sir George Paish and its sufficiency to supply all needs is but a shadow or symbol of the inexhaustible abundance of the spiritual realm. The God-ordained fact is infinite plenty, affluence, here, now, actually present to be appropriated, the need and the supply coincident, waiting, as it were, for us to use it. And there is just one quality necessary to open the door to this plenty. What is it? Mary Baker Eddy indicates it when she speaks in one of her books (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 14) of "love currency," for Love's chief characteristic is giving. It is the nature of Love to give, the spontaneous fervent desire and activity of Love is to give; and as we give we receive.
That is law, as we have seen. Love gives the confidence which is synonymous with credit, and Love banishes the one thing that would attempt to hold up our supply, and that one thing is fear. Fear casts a shadow which hides from us the present and available plenty. It checks the income of those active ideas which open out to us new ways of receiving and expressing the divine affluence. Love is fear's remedy; and remember, nothing can keep you from loving if you want to. To love is man's nature, man's normal inheritance, for Love is God and man makes this Love visible.
In commerce the great need is to adjust and balance demand and supply - to create a demand that will bring in adequate returns, also to keep the demand from exceeding the supply, and vice versa. In Science it is certain that your right demands will always be supplied, because the demand is made on infinite creative Principle. It is not always realized, however, that Principle makes demands on man and that when we comply with them that very obedience is the means of supplying us. To see how this works let us enquire what Principle demands.
The experience of a student of Christian Science whom I know answers this question. She had a small dressmaking business and was going through a difficult time financially. There seemed plenty of demand, but it was always for things which she could not supply. Finally even the demand ceased. One Friday night she went home filled with anxiety, and it came to her that she must gain a spiritual understanding of demand. She got her books and concordances and found in Science and Health (p. 595) the words, "Perfection; the eternal demand of divine Science." Instantly she realized that in divine Mind itself there was such a thing as demand - the demand that man should express God perfectly.
She rejoiced that at last she had seen the truth about demand, and the next morning she went to her business full of joy that she had the opportunity to practice what she had seen. It was clear to her that there was an increasing, unchanging, never-fluctuating demand that she could always meet, the demand to express perfection, shown in kindness, courtesy, honesty, consideration, unselfishness, and so on. Nothing else mattered to her. She no longer worried about selling or cared if she had many customers; she was eager about one thing only, to meet God's unceasing demand. As she opened her business a customer came in and then another and another. They literally poured in, until she was so busy that she hardly knew how to cope with them. As it was Saturday she should have closed at twelve, but she could not do so because people were still there. When she made up her books that day she found that she had transacted five times as much business in those few hours as had been usual during the entire week.
The whole problem was a question of being in accord with the Father, of being rather than doing. Goethe said, "In order to do something you must be something." Truer words never were spoken.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science was a woman. She was a great spiritual teacher, and she was the first to give woman the specific office of spiritual instruction. The ministry of other churches from time immemorial has been confined to men alone. Spiritual teaching and preaching have always been the prerogative of men. Mary Baker Eddy placed man and woman side by side in the conducting of church services and the high work of healing and teaching.
There is a story in the Gospels of two women, two sisters who were friends of the Master. One of them, Martha, was cumbered with much serving. There was to be a dinner, and she was determined that it should be the best, to do honor to their beloved guest. She was so anxious about it all that she was incensed when she saw her sister Mary seated at the feet of Jesus, drinking in his words and with her whole thought and attention given to the spiritual truths he was imparting. Indignantly she demanded of the Master that he should rebuke her sister and even asked him if he did not care that she should be left alone to serve.
We know his answer and his commendation of Mary's attitude: "Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." There is something to be noted here. Martha was engrossed with the thought of how best she could minister to the material needs of her guests; but was not the great need of her chief guest to find someone who would listen to and understand his teaching? Mary was ministering to that need, and her service was of a far higher order. Through the centuries woman has ministered chiefly to the material needs of man, but today we see her lifted to minister to his spiritual needs. Mary Baker Eddy chose indeed the "good part" - the discovery and understanding of the things of Spirit, the preparing and breaking of the bread of Truth, the feeding of the spiritual hunger of humanity. These constituted the work and purpose of her life. What she accomplished in the discovery of the Science of Christianity, in the spiritualization of the thought of her age, in the healing of sickness, and in mental liberation, is not yet fully recognized; for she was a spiritual genius, and that alone explains her work and life.
How shall we define the "good part" which Mary chose and for which she was commended by the Master? It was the listening for and the contemplation of the divine verities - the going unto the Father. In a letter to the Board of Lectureship Mrs. Eddy has counseled them to rise "above theorems into the transcendental, the infinite - yea, to the reality of God, man, nature, the universe" (Miscellany, p. 248).
In the midst of all the present seemings, then, Christian Science bids us contemplate reality. What does this imply? It means the contemplation of unbroken brotherhood and uninterrupted harmony. It means the acknowledgment of absolute perfection in every detail and direction of thought. It means the recognition of the omnipresence of Spirit, where boundaries and barriers, the inhibitions and prohibitions of sense, do not exist and where limitless freedom is the now of existence. "The, reality of God, man, nature, the universe" does not include a single element of death or destruction - only the radiance of Love and Life.
[Published in The Marion County Mail of Indianapolis, Indiana, Feb. 27, 1942.]