Christian Science: The Great Awakener
Martin N. Heafer, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
This lecture was delivered in the
Gold Room at the Convention Center,
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
All of us at one time or another have had dreams − perhaps of falling from some height. In the dream, there is the actual sensation of falling, and the intense anxiety seems very real. But when you awaken, you're safely in bed. There is no building to fall from or stairs to tumble down, no body that is suffering, no fall. That which you saw and felt in the dream didn't really exist or take place at all. It was only what you were dreaming. All you had to do was wake up to find it completely untrue.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, calls mortal existence a "waking dream." In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" she writes: "A mortal may be weary or pained, enjoy or suffer according to the dream he entertains in sleep. When that dream vanishes, the mortal finds himself experiencing none of these dream-sensations" (p. 250). She continues, "Now I ask, Is there any more reality in the waking dream of mortal existence than in the sleeping dream?" And she concludes, "There cannot be, since whatever appears to be a mortal man is a mortal dream." Christian Science shows that all the ups and downs of mortal experience are no more real than a dream. When we awaken spiritually, we find existence is happy, harmonious, good.
So long as the mortal believes in the reality of the experiences of his "waking dream," he is, of course, liable to sin and suffering. But Christian Science extends to him the love, the understanding, the compassion, and the correction of thought that he needs to arouse him. Through its teachings, each one of us can learn how to awaken spiritually to the truth about ourselves. As we do this, we can be healed of sickness, lack, misery, sin. In spiritual reality we're at all times the exact likeness of our Maker, the tenderly-cared-for, blessed, sinless children of God. We can begin at once to experience this humanly through spiritual sense − the great awakener.
Spiritual Sense Keeps Us Awake
What is spiritual sense? We're aware of what is going on in the physica1world through what we call the physical senses. These senses convey to us impressions of matter, of sickness, pain, accident, evil − any discord. But there's something else we're conscious of − something which isnít at all perceptible to these material senses. We're aware of purity, integrity, wisdom, joy, satisfaction, health, unselfed love. We perceive these through spiritual sense. According to Mrs. Eddy, "Spiritual sense is a conscious, constant capacity to understand God" (Science and Health, p. 209). It's our only reliable source of awareness, because it shows us God, Spirit, and what His perfect creation is really like. It's spiritual sense which truly awakens and enables us to be alertly aware of what is really going on − only good.
Spiritual sense isn't peculiar to
Christian Scientists. Everyone has it. There are many examples of this. Here's
one that many of you will recall. On
He tried several ways to overcome this temptation. He tried to arouse himself physically by exercising. He tried to keep awake by mental exercises working out†† mathematical problems. But everything he tried failed, and he became so drowsy that he was on the verge of going to sleep and letting the plane fall into the sea. Then something came to him which did not fail. Let me quote his own words, "And there's something, else, which seems to become stronger instead of weaker with fatigue, an element of spirit, a directive force that has stepped out from the background and taken control over both mind and body."
Wasn't this "element of spirit," this "directive force," the God-sent spiritual sense which is in each of us? And isn't it this spiritual sense which enables us to overcome the material sense of existence that would defeat us and cause us to suffer? Lindbergh succeeded in his historic mission according to his own conclusions, only because of this "element of spirit." It enabled him to maintain superhuman efforts in his desire to complete his flight. He stayed awake through his spiritual sense and succeeded in his right endeavor. Everyone has this spiritual sense. Christian Science shows us that we have it and how everyone of us can make effective use of it. By using it we can awaken from a suffering, sinning material sense of existence − and we can stay awake.
God Is Source of Spiritual Sense
What is the source of this spiritual sense? It is God Himself. God is the one cause, the only creator, the divine source of all that really is. Then what is God like?
We acknowledge that God is the one God: that He is almighty; that He is omnipresent, infinite Spirit; that He knows all that is; that He is divine Love. This is much the same as what other Christians believe about God − so far as the words go. But the demand on the Christian Scientist is to make these words radically and scientifically, the basis of his living. What do they mean?
First, that God is the one God, wholly good. This simply means that we acknowledge there is no other God, no other good, no other creator, no other infinite Being. It means that there's no other source of that which really is. In other words, there are no other gods, creators, or sources of anything − of anything at all. God, the only good, is the source of all.
Secondly, the demand is to perceive God as omnipotent, all powerful. There is no other power but God, good. He is not only more powerful than all else, He has all the power there is. Any suggestion of an opposing power is a part of the waking dream. God isn't in it and neither is man.
We believe God to be omnipresent, present in every place, at all times. We can only grasp such omnipresence, when we realize something of God's nature as infinite Spirit.
For us God is all-knowing. He knows all that is. He is infinite Mind, the sum of all true knowledge. And He is divine Love. This spiritual, divine Love, of which John spoke when he said, "God is love" (I John 4:8), is the word which describes God to us more clearly than any other. It is the divine Principle of Christian Science.
Finally, it is our understanding of God as Soul which precisely reveals to us our spiritual sense. We believe that there is only one Soul and that it is God, Spirit. This one infinite Soul is the source of all perception, of the spiritual sense with which each one of us is endowed and which breaks the material dream of suffering and sin. The prophet Jeremiah said, "Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies" (Jer. ). Through spiritual sense God shows us that His creation is wholly good. It is spiritual sense which awakens us from any evil condition or circumstance. Christ Jesus exercised this sense in the highest degree.
Christ Jesus Used Spiritual Sense
It has been said that all the historical comment about Christ Jesus and his followers during the first 100 years after the crucifixion, other than that found in the Bible, could be written down on a single sheet of paper. Even if the news media of today − the newspapers, radio, and TV which give us such worldwide and instant news coverage − had been present in Jesus' time, his marvelous acts and words might have received no more attention than they actually did. The crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension might have rated small space as vital news of the day, perhaps only squibs on the back pages. †To all appearances his ministry was only the inconsequential work of a country preacher making his rounds among his tiny group of followers, but in fact the accomplishments of Christ Jesus were for humanity the most important events of his own time and of all time.
Perhaps you remember the healing
of the man at the pool of
Again when Jesus went to raise Lazarus from death, he said, "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep'' (John ). He knew that, when evil seems to be present, a knowledge of God's infinite goodness and everpresence can dispel it like a dream, can dispel even death itself. Of Jairus' daughter, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus said, "The damsel is not dead, but sleepeth" (Mark ). He aroused her from this sleep. He perceived through spiritual sense what was really true. The spiritual fact is that God, Life, never sleeps, is ever awake, and that man, too, is ever awake.
A better appreciation of Jesus' ministry and the Christian requirement to follow in his footsteps comes with the realization that there is a distinction between Jesus and the Christ. Jesus was indeed a man who walked in the flesh. But his clear spiritual sense of the Christ, the divine ideal, imperceptible to material sense, brought man's true spiritual identity into sharp focus in his human experience. His rich endowment of spiritual sense enabled him to express the Christ, the ideal Truth of all things, so clearly that many who knew him saw it and were awakened. They saw him as the Way to the true spiritual sense of being. Mrs. Eddy puts it this way: "The divinity of the Christ was made manifest in the humanity of Jesus" (Science and Health, p. 25).
Jesus knew that the Christ was present even before his own appearance on earth. He said: "Before Abraham was, I am" (John ). And although the human Jesus is no longer present, his spiritual selfhood, or the Christ, remains eternally with us, forever revealing the true, spiritual man and his relation to God. His works proved his sonship with God and earned him the divine title of Christ. He set the train of men's thinking forever on the track that leads to that state of Mind, of divine Mind, which is the true kingdom of heaven. His unsurpassed love for all humanity overrode indifference, neglect, spiritual blindness, persecution. It forever established his Church on the rock of Christ.
Mrs. Eddy Discerned Man's True Nature
The healing mission of the Church that Christ Jesus established was lost sight of for many centuries, but it has reappeared. This modern marvel has taken place because of the spiritual vision, the great love for mankind, exhibited by the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy. She had an intense desire to learn the basis of the healing work done by Jesus and the early Christian church. Through spiritual sense she was led, after many years of sacrifice and search, to the revelation of the true spiritual meaning of what Jesus taught and practiced.
Writing of what the Scriptures revealed to her, she says, "Their spiritual signification appeared; and I apprehended for the first time, in their spiritual meaning, Jesus' teaching and demonstration, and the Principle and rule of spiritual Science and metaphysical healing, − in a word, Christian Science" (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 25).
Mrs. Eddy received this revelation from her study of our textbook of Christianity, the Bible, and through putting its precepts into action. She was able to perceive something of the true meaning of the inspired Bible passages. Hidden from a sleeping world, they were crystal-clear to that spiritual sense which is God-given to each one of us. Mrs. Eddy saw that the true meaning of Jesus' teachings and the Science of his and his followers' healing works were plainly implied in both Old and New Testaments. She was able, through divine inspiration, direction, and guidance, to write down these truths in clear, spiritually scientific language, in the Christian Science textbook "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." And so the Bible and Science and Health now stand together as the two textbooks of Christian Science.
This discovery came to Mrs. Eddy in 1866 as a result of a healing. It occurred when she was in her forty-fifth year. She spent the rest of her life, forty-five more abundantly fruitful years, in ceaseless, loving labor to establish the Church of Christ, Scientist, and provide it with all the necessary means to preserve her discovery and make it known to all mankind.
Mrs. Eddy showed her great love for her fellowmen by seeing man always as he really is, the image of his Maker, pure, spiritual, and good. She expressed this conviction of man's unity with the Father in this way: "The real man being linked by Science to his Maker, mortals need only turn from sin and lose sight of mortal selfhood to find Christ, the real man and his relation to God, and to recognize the divine sonship" (Science and Health. p. 316). This man is the man each one of us truly is. God has given us that Christly spiritual sense which enables us to recognize our sonship with Him; and to awaken from the illusion of a man who sins or suffers.
Choosing to Break the Dream
Now there's one thing that's impossible − we can't both dream and be awake at the same time. These are two different states of consciousness. Likewise we can't think of mortal material existence with all its discords as actual, and at the same time be aware of God's true creation, good, healthy, and spiritual. We have to take our information about what is really going on either from physical sense or from spiritual sense; not from both at once, for they are exact opposites. We have a choice.
The other day, I noticed a little cartoon in a newspaper. Two cartoon characters were talking. One said, "Did you know this is national tuberculosis week? It's national asparagus week too." With rare discernment the other character asked, "Do we have a choice?" Yes, we do have a choice, a choice between good or evil; between the alert awareness of genuine spiritual well-being, or dreaming the dreams of material sense. Choose asparagus, my friends, not tuberculosis! Choose health, not sickness, good not evil. Christian Science shows you that this is your choice through using your spiritual sense.
In order to dream we must first go to sleep. And then, of course, we're separated from reality, we're out of touch with what is actually going on. But alert spiritual consciousness doesn't do this. It is ever awake and aware of the good that is really taking place, and this is the only God-bestowed consciousness. In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy writes, "Your decisions will master you, whichever direction they take" (p. 392). And a little further on, she adds, "The issues of pain or pleasure must come through mind, and like a watchman forsaking his post, we admit the intruding belief, forgetting that through divine help we can forbid this entrance." Through God-given spiritual sense we can choose to stay awake and keep out of these lies of suffering and unhappiness.
The true nature of existence becomes more apparent to us the more we use our spiritual sense. Take the sense of sight. Materially, sight is dependent upon what is called an optical mechanism consisting of lens, retina, optic nerve, and so on. The images on the retina are supposed to be transmitted to the brain and recorded there where we become aware of them. But sight is really a spiritual sense, given to us by God. We have the human sense of eyesight only because, whether we realize it or not, there is such a thing as spiritual sight, which we all have. When we think of sight as being in matter, in an optical mechanism, this is a dream-sense of sight. Anything may happen to it. But true sight is spiritual. The clear waking realization of this fact is what heals poor or defective vision.
I have a friend who as a college girl was having difficulty with her sight. She not only had a heavy schedule but had also transferred from one university to another where the academic demands were much greater. In striving to do the studying necessary to make the good grades to which she was accustomed, she developed eyestrain. Her vision became unclear and, although she was a Christian Scientist, she was tempted to accept the need for glasses. A good many of the other young students wore them and it seemed the normal thing to do under the circumstances.
Then she began to pray about the problem as she had been taught in Christian Science. She rejected the concept of sight as material and as dependent on a physical mechanism which could be strained or fail. She accepted the fact that sight is a spiritual sense bestowed upon us by divine Love − that it is unchanging, indestructible, forever intact. She also asked help from a Christian Science practitioner who called her attention to this passage in Science and Health: "Sight, hearing, all the spiritual senses of man, are eternal. They cannot be lost. Their reality and immortality are in Spirit and understanding, not in matter, − hence their permanence" (p. 486). It wasn't long before the girl was again seeing perfectly. She was also free from any sense of stress or strain about her work. This was over twenty-five years ago, and she has never worn glasses to this time.
The Prayer of Spiritual Sense
There are a variety of deceptive dreams of mortal existence. Spiritual sense enables us to make the right choice − to awaken and be rid of them and all they contain. But sometimes we may choose to stay awake to the spiritual facts and the trouble seems to come in anyway and be very real and persistent. It's not enough just to declare that evil is illusion, although this is a true and correct statement of fact. It's not enough just to accept theoretically the truth of the allness of God, good. The inner conviction of God's allness and therefore of evil's unreality and powerlessness must be obtained, and this must be done through prayer, as we have just seen in the experience of my friend.
Spiritual perception of the unreal nature of evil comes through the prayer of inner conviction and unselfed love. Many of us here tonight are familiar with this statement on the first page of Science and Health: "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." Prayer enables us to believe in good so profoundly, with such inner conviction and assurance, that it becomes spiritual understanding, the awareness of God's grace and love which always surround us. Then we lose all sense of the evil, and healing takes place.
It's like a baby learning to walk. No matter how many times he falls, he keeps trying. He has a solid, inner conviction that he should walk and that he can walk, and he keeps on until he finally succeeds. So we should be so convinced of the omnipotence and ever-presence of divine Love, that we persevere in seeking healing until the light does dawn on us. Then we awaken and see the spiritual facts of infinite good.
The truth of man's continual blessedness and sinlessness is always present. When this seems obscured by some adamant problem, we need to know that beneath what appears to be discord, all is well. This truth has been there all the time − we only needed to awaken in order to realize it.
The Scriptures Help Us to Awaken
When you take a picture of a beautiful rose with your camera, the film is exposed to the rose and the latent image is impressed on it. It seems blank, until the film is developed and printed. Then the beautiful picture clearly appears. So the true picture of health, harmony, purity, comes through when we're confident, certain, sure, that it is really there, even though the picture hasn't appeared.
While on a vacation trip, a couple I know, Christian Scientists, stopped at a resort. The week before there had been such a heavy rainfall that the reservoir dam containing the water supply for the community had broken and the normal water supply had been dissipated. Due to certain chemical conditions that resulted, the remaining water supply had been contaminated and was being used only for bathing and washing. The thought of contamination and disease was being entertained and talked about in this community. The wife didn't consciously reject this thought of contamination but dreamed about it along with the rest of the community. She didn't keep spiritually awake and actively witness to the spiritual fact that man is immune to contamination.
The next day she became severely ill and was forced to cancel her vacation activities and go to bed. It was necessary that she and her husband travel on to another city. On the way she became so ill they had to stop and go to a motel. Here she collapsed, with symptoms indicating some type of typhoid fever. A Christian Science practitioner was called. He lovingly assured the woman that since divine Love was governing her experience there was nothing to fear. His thought turned to God and these verses from Psalm 139 came to him: "I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid†† from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written" (Ps. 139:14-16).
The practitioner began to realize that God never made a contaminating, infecting substance, or a man capable of being contaminated. He made man spiritual and perfect. As the psalm reads, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made." It came clearly to the practitioner that the false concept of man as material and mortal wasn't the true man. That there were not two men, one mortal and material and another spiritual, but only the spiritual man, and he knew that man's soul or spiritual sense knew these spiritual facts perfectly. As the Bible verse says, "That my soul (my spiritual sense) knoweth right well."
He was inspired to recognize that the true substance created by God couldn't be hidden, obscured, destroyed, or replaced by a false sense of contamination; that the common beliefs about man as chemical, organic, and subject to sickness and contagion weren't in accord with truth. "My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth." To the practitioner's uplifted thought man appeared as God saw him, spiritual, perfect, forever reflecting God's goodness and health.
In spite of what the material senses were saying and presenting as evidence of severe sickness, God was still seeing His child in the way that He had created her, whole, well, and free. "Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written."
The Scriptural passage led the practitioner to an inspired vision of the perfect man, made in God's likeness, of the pure, spiritual substance of good − uncontaminated,†† uninfected, undefiled by disease. He saw the real man so clearly that the woman saw it too. She realized that she could no longer be fooled by the dream of sickness. She arose from her bed well and strong, and resumed her happy vacation trip.
Our Need for Unselfed Love
The prayer of spiritual sense, of absolute faith in God, draws its strength from unselfed love. With such prayer, there is no problem, however difficult it may seem to be, that we can't awaken from. This is truly the prayer of spiritual understanding.
We find this admonition in Science and Health, "The more difficult seems the material condition to be overcome by Spirit, the stronger should be our faith and the purer our love" (p. 410). The strong faith and the pure love, which God awakens in us through spiritual sense, break the illusion and heal persistent discord. Purity of thought comes when we're willing to give up something of the belief that we have a personal, material selfhood, a selfish viewpoint, which is standard equipment for mortals. This personal, material sense of things is the stumbling block which would keep us from expressing unselfed love. And this sense of being a material mortal person must be replaced with unselfed love, if we are to awaken from tenacious dreams of suffering and sin.
There is, in reality, no such thing as chronic disease, chronic lack of supply, or chronic discord of any kind. The basis of what we call a chronic difficulty is very often too much concern about a personal selfhood, too much seeking for good in material things − wealth, fame, social position. These always fail to satisfy, and sometimes the resulting disappointment causes a lingering dream of confusion. But expressing love, unselfed love, allows us to awaken from such persistent suffering. The Psalmist says, "I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness" (Ps.17:15). Only the correct picture of the true Christlike man satisfies. This is the man who is never fooled into thinking he has a stubborn difficulty or that he must selfishly protect and care for himself. He knows that God cares for him, his family and all, and this satisfies and heals him, releasing him from selfish fear.
When we constantly endeavor to love our neighbor, to think not only of ourselves, but to make our daily acts, thoughts, words, of benefit to all mankind, we shall be happy, satisfied, and freed from any suffering however persistent. This is praying the prayer of unselfed love, and this prayer is answered to the extent that we put into practice, that we live the meaning of our words.
Seeing Our Neighbor Correctly
Now we may be confronted with someone who in a hateful or mean way is seeking to injure us. Through the awakened spiritual consciousness which constitutes our true self, we can express that divine Love which effectively deals with such a situation and heals it. What appears to be a wicked man is actually nothing more than a dream; a dream that the person is dreaming about himself. Neither the dream nor the dreamer is real. "The dream has no reality," we read in Science and Health, "no intelligence, no mind; therefore the dreamer and dream are one, for neither is true nor real" (p. 530). The dreamer, you see, is the sole source of what seems to go on in his dream. An outsider can't enter.
So when we see someone believing that he's spiteful or unloving, why should we seek to enter his false dream or set up our own false dream or concept of him? Why should we fear and resent his mistaken efforts to harm us? We have a choice. We can choose to stay awake with spiritual sense and not be drawn into the dream that God ever made a wicked person. The Bible says "I will not know a wicked person" (Ps. 101:4). Just think what that means − I will not know a wicked person. As we refuse to accept the false concept of an ungodlike, wicked man, we stay out of his dream of antagonism, envy, rivalry, and jealousy. We are healed of what is apparently a confrontation with a mortal expressing meanness, as we realize that the true God-made man is really present, right where we're looking. This man is loving, unselfish, meek, attractive, helpful, cooperative. This is the man we can choose to see.
A Christian Scientist, a friend of mine, was healed in such a situation. He worked in an office where he was closely associated with another man who was very antagonistic. The man was ugly to him at every opportunity, tried to undermine him with supervisors, was jealous and hostile. My friend tried in every human way he knew to overcome the antagonism. He invited him to his home, but the man wouldn't come. He tried being exceptionally pleasant in conversations with him, but in reply got only grunts or sarcasm. He just didn't get anywhere in dealing with the situation in a human way.
Then he began to do what he should have done at the start. He began to strive to awaken from this dream of a bad relationship to the truth about relationship, that it is harmonious, brotherly, unselfish, free from envy, jealousy or hate. Using spiritual sense, he strove in his thinking to separate the wrong thoughts being expressed from the person who was letting himself be a mouthpiece for animosity. He remembered the passage in Science and Health which reads: "Nothing is real and eternal, − nothing is Spirit, − but God and His idea. Evil has no reality. It is neither person, place, nor thing, but is simply a belief, an illusion of material sense" (p. 71). He kept trying to realize that the picture of a jealous, self-centered mortal was a dream, and determined that he wouldn't let himself be involved in it by believing it to be true. In his thought he stayed with the Bible affirmation, "I will not know a wicked person." He knew God was showing him the true man − loving, unselfish, and good.
This went on for several weeks, with my friend working daily along the lines I have described.† Gradually there came a change in the other man's at titude. He became warm and friendly. He no longer expressed a single one of the mean characteristics he had been believing about himself. In being healed himself of the false picture of his business associate, my friend had helped his brother awaken, too! The words of the Christian Science hymn had come true (Hymnal. No. 51):
"The clouds of sense roll back and show
The form divinely fair."
The clouds of material sense had been rolled back by spiritual sense. Today, these two men are good friends.
Praying for the World
There is much need in the world today for spiritual sense, for the prayer of unselfed love. Hate has never been so organized, so politically, socially, economically managed, as it is today. But it contains its own seeds of destruction. Its nature resembles that of a dream, never real. It can't continue to dupe men. Love prevails in the end. In a letter to the Corinthians Paul gives us this assurance, "Charity never faileth" (I Cor. 13:8). Many translations read the word "charity" as "love." So, Love "never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away." Those who preach hate, prophesy doom, speak evil of their fellowmen, are dreaming the dreams of material sense. Love never faileth, and as we who call ourselves Christians pray the prayer of unselfed love, and live it in our daily lives, there will be widespread awakening from the hateful influences which would have us destroy one another.
Scientific prayer is our way of worshiping God in Christian Science. It's the way in which we realize His presence and goodness and are awakened from every kind of evil thinking and suffering which characterizes mortal existence. This prayer effectively utilizes the great awakener − spiritual sense.
Yes, the rewards of awakening through spiritual sense are very great. And the time to wake up is now. The truth of God's ever-present goodness was never more evident, nor evil more ripe for destruction. Paul gives us this cogent conclusion: "It is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed" (Rom. ). Mortal existence is largely a series of little dreams − together they make up the compound dream, if you will, of life in matter. With each proof of God's goodness, with each awakening from some dream of suffering or sin, we are working out our salvation. But meanwhile our present human experience becomes progressively more pure, more healthy, happy, satisfied, through our spiritual perception of what is really going on.
There is nothing going on but good! So why should we be deceived by the lies of suffering, material sense? We can wake up and we can stay awake.
In the words of St. Paul, "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God" (I Cor. 2:12). Now is the time to enjoy our God-given blessings through more effective use of spiritual sense − the great awakener!
©1964 Martin N. Heafer
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