Get Your Life in Balance
David C. Driver, C.S.B., of Seattle, Washington
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
"We all need both firmness and flexibility, and we also need a balance of other qualities like strength and gentleness, discipline and freedom, manhood and womanhood, stillness and action." David C. Driver, C.S.B., of Seattle, Washington, went on to explain these ideas in a Christian Science lecture given on Sunday, Oct. 23, 1977, in the Concord Baptist Church in Boston.
Mr. Driver, a member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship, spoke under the auspices of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts. He saw the life of Christ Jesus as the most helpful example of balanced living. He cited the Bible, noting that Jesus both spoke "as one having authority," and yet was "moved with compassion" toward those in need. The lecturer viewed the scriptural record as proof that a life of balanced qualities can have a healing effect on individual and collective problems.
The title of the lecture was "Get Your Life in Balance." Mr. Driver, a former architect and planning consultant, was introduced by Mrs. Cheryl Fair of Boston.
The lecture was substantially as follows:
When I was an architect concerned with the designing of structures, I discovered something about the nature of balance that's been a help ever since.
Anything that can be defined as a structure is designed to withstand forces. In designing a structure, one has to determine the forces acting on it. These can be resolved into two main types - forces of pressure, tending to crush, and forces of tension, tending to stretch. To withstand these forces, the material the structure is made of needs to have two contrasting qualities - firmness to withstand the crushing forces and flexibility to withstand the stretching forces. These contrasting qualities - firmness and flexibility - complement each other to make a structure sound in resisting both pressure and tension forces.
I found a simple illustration of this right at home in our garden. Two slender pine trees bent low under the weight of a heavy, wet snowfall. When the snow was gone, I tied them back to a larger tree to restore them to their normal position. Several years later there was another heavy, wet snowfall. The rope on one of the pines held firm, keeping the lower part of the trunk rigid. Above the point where it was tied, this whole tree snapped off with the weight of snow. The rope on the other tree broke, so that tree was free to bend. Though it bent low to the ground, it was firmly rooted and remained whole. A firm foundation combined with flexibility saved that tree. Rigidity without flexibility caused the other to snap off.
Rigidness invites cracking
Likewise in human experience, a rigid attitude - firmness without flexibility - is likely to snap into anger or temper or break down into depression. But flexible thinking balanced by a firm basis of sound values can withstand opposing forces without harm. We all need both firmness and flexibility, and we need also a balance of other qualities like strength and gentleness, discipline and freedom, manhood and womanhood, stillness and action. Such balance is as essential to the structure of our life as to the structure of a building or a tree. And it's essential in the affairs of nations.
As a bird needs two wings to fly, each balancing the other, so we need a balance of qualities to find our completeness. A bird with one wing missing is earthbound. Too often we find a missing element that keeps our life earthbound.
How can we discover or restore such missing elements and so find that completeness that enables our life to soar?
A young man I know had an experience that can help us find an answer (and incidentally, he's happy for me to share this with you). He'd been sick from the age of 13. Medical diagnosis said that his body was out of balance. There was a missing element that was essential to resist certain types of bacteria. All sorts of medical remedies were tried, and he was given increasingly heavy doses of drugs, almost consistently for eight years. Although he could carry on with most activities, he was never really well. Then a crisis occurred when the drugs that were supposed to help him started making him worse. The doctor could do no more and told his parents to prepare for the worst. At this time the young man met a former school friend who told him how he had been completely healed of incurable asthma when Christian Science came into his life. This greatly impressed the young man. That night he got hold of a copy of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," the Christian Science textbook written by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science. He was especially uplifted by several pages which include powerful statements like these: "Truth brings the elements of liberty. . . . The power of God brings deliverance to the captive. No power can withstand divine Love. . . . Whatever enslaves man is opposed to the divine government. Truth makes man free" (pp. 224, 225).
For the first time the young man gained a sense that his life was independent of a physical body and could never be torn between opposing forces of life and death. He glimpsed that his life was actually eternal, inseparable from God, perfect, complete. Every spare moment for the next few days he studied Science and Health. Five days later he realized he was completely healed. That was the end of this problem. Eight years of medication had failed to restore the needed balance to his body, but five days of allowing his thought to be uplifted to a higher concept of himself had restored that normal balance.
This illustrates another statement in Science and Health, "The Bible teaches transformation of the body by the renewal of Spirit" (p. 241). Spirit here is a term used for God, the underlying cause or Principle of all that's real and good.
In turning his thought away from the body and toward God, the basic Truth of his being, the young man had glimpsed a spiritual completeness he'd never found through focusing thought on physicality, nor through exploring various other modes of human thought or philosophy. These had never restored the missing element to his body, but the transformation of thought to a more spiritual viewpoint had done so.
However, there was still a missing clement. Even with this glorious freedom from years of physical suffering, it was as if a devilish suggestion whispered, "Life can't be all spiritual. Matter must have its place somewhere," for at that very point after being lifted up to the heights in one direction, he was dragged down to the depths in another. He got waylaid into promiscuous, premarital sexual activities, and also into an intensive use of hallucinogenic drugs. He felt badly about these activities, because he knew they conflicted with the new view of life he was gaining in Christian Science. He knew these activities represented a material, dualistic sense of life, a false balance of opposing elements, like spirit and matter, good and evil, truth and error.
For one torn between such opposing forces, believing both to be real, it sometimes happens that a spiritual high is followed by a material low. Mrs. Eddy writes, "The bird whose right wing flutters to soar, while the left beats its way downward, falls to the earth. Both wings must be plumed for rarefied atmospheres and upward flight" ("Miscellaneous Writings," p. 267).
The missing element our friend needed was discipline to balance freedom - law to balance gospel. He'd accepted the gospel, or good news, of his physical freedom, but was neglecting the discipline of the moral law, which insists on no adulteration of one's purity, no bowing down to drugs as having any power to stimulate, excite, or heal. Mrs. Eddy writes, "Christian Science demands both law and gospel, in order to demonstrate healing. . . . They are a unit in restoring the equipoise of mind and body, and balancing man's account with his Maker" (ibid., p. 65).
If the moral law is to be a real force for good in our lives, it has to be regarded as something much higher than merely a humanly devised code of behavior appropriate for a particular phase of history. It needs to be seen as the very expression in terms meaningful to human experience of the basic spiritual law of our real being, the law of one God, one power without any opposite. You can't actually balance opposites, a positive with a negative, a presence with an absence. Place an ounce of gold in one scale and you can't balance it with a helium-filled balloon in the other. A positive weight of gold has to be balanced with another positive weight. It can't be balanced with a negative weight, or with no weight.
Positive good can be balanced only with positive good. The opposing negatives that may seem so real, so weighty, can be recognized as just mistaken concepts - like gas-filled balloons that make a big show but are easily burst - and not as solid weights. In proportion as we recognize this, these negative elements lose their weight in our thinking, and we gain dominion over them.
This is just what happened as the young man studied Christian Science further. The law of the unopposed oneness of good became more and more real to him. Then the activities opposed to this goodness lost their weight, became so empty, he wanted no more to do with them. The drug tripping ceased, the immoral sexual practices stopped, and a venereal disease resulting from these practices was healed in a few days without any material means. All this occurred some years ago, and he has remained free, and is now happily married.
I see him quite often and can verify that this man has been lifted out of the dualism that would attempt to link evil with good, sensualism with satisfaction, drugs with stimulation or healing. And he's found true balance in the linking of discipline and freedom, law and gospel, that have become for him "a unit in restoring the equipoise of mind and body, and balancing [his] account with his Maker."
In these two experiences the young man found that first physical balance was restored and then moral balance was found by a growing recognition and acceptance of God's nature, His completeness and His oneness. Now is there a conflict here? Balance implies two elements. A bird has two wings, a balance has two scales. Then how can this oneness of God be instrumental in restoring the twofold nature of balance? Does this oneness, in fact, include balance?
We mentioned God as basic cause or Principle. Now can you possibly conceive of a cause without an effect - sun without sunlight? Or can you conceive of an effect without a cause - sunlight without sun? Cause and effect are inseparable, though distinct. The divine cause and effect - Principle and idea, God and His spiritual universe including man - is the basic balance of all true being.
Furthermore, the effect must necessarily partake of the nature of its cause, as sunlight is all light, like the sun. So if the nature of God includes perfect balance, it must follow that the real nature of man - the deep-down spiritual reality underlying all outward appearances - must also include perfect balance.
What, then, is the nature of God? Christian Science reveals it in seven synonymous terms. We've already mentioned Principle, Spirit, Love, Truth. The others are Soul, Life, and Mind. These don't refer to seven gods or to seven parts of one God. Each of them means the whole of God, but each at the same time brings its special hue, its own qualities, to the nature of Deity.
The varied qualities deriving from these diverse synonyms might be likened to the spokes of a wheel. Though each spoke is individual in the place it occupies and the direction it points, yet each has to be equal in strength to contribute to the perfect balance of the wheel.
There's a helpful word that describes this equality of strength - "equipollence," meaning equal power. The equipollence or perfect balance of God and of His innumerable qualities must be expressed in the perfect balance of man's true nature.
Mrs. Eddy sums it up: "The equipollence of God brought to light another glorious proposition, - man's perfectibility and the establishment of the kingdom of heaven on earth" (Science and Health, p. 110). As we recognize this perfect balance of God expressed in ourselves and in others, we find this kingdom of heaven on earth. We find harmony reigning within us here and now. We find a growing spiritual balance governing our whole life.
The one who lived this balance most fully was Jesus of Nazareth, and he made it extremely practical in all sorts of situations. He faced up to atmospheric imbalance and stilled a storm. He confronted an imbalance of supply and demand and with only a few loaves and fish fed well over five thousand people. He countered physical, mental, and moral imbalance and healed paralysis and lameness, insanity and epilepsy, adultery and extortion. In all these situations, as in his teaching, Jesus spoke with great power and assurance. "Rise, take up thy bed, and walk" (John 5:8), was his typical command to the paralyzed or hopelessly lame. And they obeyed. Matthew tells us that "the people were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one having authority" (Matt. 7:28. 29).
Inseparable from the might of this authority was an abiding compassion and gentleness. Time and again the gospel writers tell us of Jesus being moved with compassion for the people. Because of this he healed them, fed them, redeemed them. He cherished the gentleness and innocence of little children, and he said, "Blessed are the meek [or the gentle in other translations]: for they shall inherit the earth" (Matt. 5:5).
Meekness or gentleness isn't usually thought of as a strong, manly quality. Often it's confused with weakness. But that wasn't Jesus' concept. There's nothing weak about inheriting the earth. With him meekness and might were inseparable. For the might he claimed was not his own, but something infinitely greater. So he could confidently say, "I can of mine own self do nothing" (John 5:30). Think of that. With all he accomplished he claimed absolutely nothing for any personal sense of self. Because he knew, as he said, "the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works" (John 14:10).
The Father dwelling in him was divine Spirit, God, manifesting infinite strength and healing power through him. Here Jesus was claiming his spiritual selfhood, or Christ, always at one with the Father. He was recognizing that divine balance of the effect always at one with its cause. His divine nature, or Christ, was at one with the Father, even before Abraham and beyond the ascension. The Christ was never born, never crucified, even while the human Jesus was going through these experiences.
Christly nature realized
Jesus' clear recognition of the Christ as his true nature didn't separate him from humanity. Rather it was the very basis of his healing works, because it enabled him to recognize and bring to light the Christly nature of everyone else as well.
In the rejection of any personal sense of selfhood and the recognition of the Christ as his real nature, we see the meekness of his might, the might of his meekness - like balancing spokes of the same wheel. It was this balance that structured his life, lifting it to a greater wholeness than either quality could do alone.
Mary Baker Eddy was a committed follower of Jesus and, like him, expressed a remarkable balance in her life. A newspaper editor wrote of her in a London paper as "The gentlest, sweetest, and most refined lady I have ever known. Yet with all that gentleness she possessed the fire of a great reformer; with that sweetness she was none the less the deepest of thinkers; while her innate refinement did not prevent her from being the foremost leader of men in the world-battle of good against evil. . . . Nothing perhaps has struck those who have come in personal contact with Mrs. Eddy more than the immense strength of her character mingled with her extraordinary tenderness for humanity" ("Editorial Comments on the Life and Work of Mary Baker Eddy" [Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society], first edition, p. 4).
Years before that was written another balance of qualities was important in the very discovery of Christian Science - the balance of reason with revelation. At a time of severe crisis, Mrs. Eddy had been healed instantly while pondering one of Jesus' healings. This launched her into an intense search for the law behind both her own healing and those she knew so well from the Bible. "I must know the Science of this healing," she writes, "and I won my way to absolute conclusions through divine revelation, reason, and demonstration" (Science and Health, p. 109).
And further on she continues, "The Scriptures were illumined; reason and revelation were reconciled, and afterwards the truth of Christian Science was demonstrated" (ibid., p. 110). There's the historic fact. But is this balance of reason and revelation something we need today?
Suppose we substitute for "revelation" a less religious term, like "inspiration," or "intuition," or "illumination." I've seen highly intelligent people struggling to discover some great truth through intellectual reasoning alone. And it hasn't worked. A balance of intuition (or inspiration) is essential to the discovery. This is even so in the practical field of human invention. So often an idea dawns in thought. Then with this insight, coupled with reason, the new idea is developed into something useful for humanity.
I had to learn this in my own architectural practice. I was used to reasoning things out logically - and eventually I'd reach a solution. But then the most important job I'd had came into the office, and for a lot of good reasons the solution had to appear quickly. There was no time for the usual long-drawn-out design process. Reason of itself wasn't enough. I needed the inspiration that could provide ideas spontaneously. How could I find it?
As a Christian Scientist, my method was prayer. And my starting point was God. I knew God as both Mind and Soul at the same time. Mind I could recognize as the source of the order and logic of reason; Soul as the source of the spontaneity and intuition of inspiration - balancing spokes of the wheel. And in the balance of cause and effect I spoke of, as the effect of God, in my real being, I couldn't be separated for a moment from any of these divine qualities belonging to my cause.
My prayer, too, had that balance of firmness and flexibility I spoke of - firmness in the affirmation of spiritual truths like these, and a flexibility of thought that was responsive, ready to receive. So I affirmed - and I listened. Soon ideas started formulating - fresh concepts I'd never thought of before. I made a thumbnail sketch. It looked promising. I checked it carefully. Everything seemed to work. So I drew it up and presented it to the client. Though it had to go before a whole membership, it was approved unanimously with no changes. Even the completed building didn't deviate from the concept of that original thumbnail sketch.
On this occasion more than ever before, I'd allowed inspiration to balance reason through turning to God as the source of both. And this had lifted the human achievement to a higher level of excellence.
This sort of spiritual balance is never a mere average without high points, never a dull mediocrity without variety and contrast. That dull no-man's-land is what happens when we try to balance irreconcilable opposites like good and evil. The balance I'm talking about is between positive, God-derived qualities - different, even contrasting, but always complementary, never opposing. This balance inevitably lifts one higher into a fuller, richer experience than either quality without the other could possibly do.
We've considered several pairs of qualities that complement each other in this way, like balancing spokes of the same wheel. They lift us into a more whole sense of life - really structure our life. The same spiritually based reasoning can be applied to bring any other needed qualities into balance.
For instance, how can we be sure that mercy always accompanies justice? Shakespeare caught a profound glimpse of it when he wrote, "Earthly power doth then show likest God's when mercy seasons justice" ("The Merchant of Venice," Act IV, Scene 1). Know God as both Truth and Love at the same time, and always justice will temper mercy and mercy will season justice.
Or what about youth and maturity? Must we lack maturity while we still have youth, or lose youth to gain maturity? No. Youth and maturity in their highest sense are purely spiritual qualities - like the freshness of divine Life and the stability of divine Principle - so they both actually belong to all of us all the time in perfect balance.
Manhood and womanhood - have you ever pondered how you can claim this balance within yourself - and the fulfillment that goes with it - without in any way losing your distinct identity as man or woman? When we know God as both Mother and Father, we recognize that each of us in our real being is a full individual expression of God's masculine and feminine qualities. This is what constitutes true completeness.
Likewise with stillness and action, the little and the big, profoundness and simplicity, head and heart, letter and spirit, theory and practice.
A major issue concerning us all is the need to balance supply and demand. Let's look into this one more fully.
Suppose you have a talent or a skill in plentiful supply, but find no demand for it. Or suppose you have bills to pay but not enough to pay them with. Multiply such instances of imbalance millions of times and you have some of the major problems facing mankind today - unemployment, the energy crisis, food shortages, inflation, recession. Such world problems arise from world thinking. But this is only the accumulation of the thinking of individuals. So each problem solved in individual thought makes a real contribution to solving a similar problem on a wider scale.
Years ago on my first visit overseas, I was faced with increasing financial demands and rapidly diminishing funds. I feared my visit would have to be cut short before its purpose was fulfilled, and the more fearful I became, the faster the money disappeared. Then one day I pulled myself together and lifted thought in prayer to what was actually true of this situation.
In the realm of the spiritually real, there's always a perfect balance of supply and demand. There's never a surplus, never a deficiency, for this is the realm of ideas. Would you ever find yourself saying, "I can't finish that calculation - I've run out of sevens"? Because seven exists as a numerical idea, there can never be too few or too many. Likewise it wouldn't be possible for the all-intelligent divine Mind to produce spiritual ideas for which there wasn't an adequate use, nor to create a demand without providing the ideas to fulfill it. Mrs. Eddy tells us that God's law "demands of us only what we can certainly fulfil" (Science and Health, p. 233).
What does God's law demand of us? The law of divine Love demands us to be compassionate and gentle. Divine Mind demands us to be intelligent and perceptive. Principle demands us to be orderly, consistent, lawful. And how can we find the qualities to meet those demands? By acknowledging God as their infinite source, always at hand. Mrs. Eddy writes, "God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies. Never ask for tomorrow: it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment" ("Miscellaneous Writings," p. 307).
And that's exactly what I found. When I didn't doubt, I had what I needed. Occasionally after this I let fear creep in again, and then the money would vanish as if I had a hole in my pocket. But as soon as I lifted thought to the divine balance of supply and demand, there was invariably enough for every human need. My visit wasn't cut short, and it developed in a way that was fruitful beyond expectations.
As we strive to fulfill God's demand on us to be His expression and recognize God's eternal supply of every idea needed to meet that demand, we find a sense of spiritual balance. And this in turn provides whatever's needed to balance supply and demand in human affairs.
Earlier I spoke of the balance of firmness and flexibility needed in a physical structure to withstand the forces of pressure and tension acting on it. In defining Church spiritually, Mrs. Eddy lifts up the concept of structure to a spiritual level in the phrase, "The structure of Truth and Love" (Science and Health, p. 583). Here the firmness and stability of Truth combine with the gentleness and adaptability of Love to form a spiritually mental structure against which no destructive forces can ever prevail.
In this divine structure we find a sure defense against the pressures and tensions and imbalances of the world around us. Here we find the God-derived spiritual balance that structures our life and never leaves us with a missing spoke to our wheel or a missing wing. To repeat that earlier quote, "Both wings must be plumed for rarefied atmospheres and upward flight." "Both wings" could be thought of as meekness balancing might, inspiration combining with reason, supply fulfilling demand, discipline balancing freedom, firmness uniting with flexibility. With both wings plumed, we can soar to new heights of wholeness and fulfillment. So have a good flight!