The Answer to the Worlds Prayer for Peace
Koch-Meisen, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
If I were to ask each one of you here tonight what his heart's desire is, I would receive many different answers; but if we took the time to resolve each answer into its primary elements, we should soon see that basically we all are seeking a realization of peace.
Throughout history, many nations have made frequent efforts to establish permanent peace. Still there have always been wars, even religious wars. There have been wars fought in the belief that war could end warfare forever. We know that this can never be done. War may destroy cities, but it can never destroy the basic causes of hostilities envy, fear, hatred, distrust, oppression. These characteristics of the carnal mind, also called mortal mind, inevitably lead to conflicts.
The word "peace" may have a different meaning to each one of us. One may recall bells of peace sounding at the end of a war; another may think of the end of quarrels and misunderstandings in his surroundings or of the peace of the body which we call health. Again, to a third, peace may mean victory over inner conflicts, the peace and the stillness of one's heart.
Christ Jesus, recognizing the human heart's longing for peace, said centuries ago (John ), "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you." And he added significantly, "not as the world giveth, give I unto you." He knew that peace could never be found in the world's methods. He spoke of himself as "the light of the world." We can logically deduce therefore that the peace Jesus referred to comes to us only through spiritually mental light. When in the place of ignorance there is enlightenment, right there is the presence of the Christ. If we are not conscious of the peace that Christ Jesus promised us, it can only be because we are ignorant of the correct basis for peace.
Most of you undoubtedly know that Christian Science is a religion. If a religion, a spiritual attitude, a reaching out for God, can bring us peace, peace must be the result of the entertaining of right ideas. We all know that to stop hostilities, to silence cannons, is not peace; just as the cessation of pain is not health. Peace can never be won by means outside ourselves, for it is not dependent on outside conditions; neither can permanent health be gained by outside means such as hygiene, change of climate, injections, or operations. Health as well as true and lasting peace cannot be gained by faith alone, but through a correct understanding of God.
God and Man
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, gave us this correct understanding of God through the discovery of Christian Science.
As a result of her prayerful study and enlightenment, she defines God in her textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," as follows (p. 465); "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love." She uses the seven terms or synonyms quoted in this definition in her writings in referring to God. Just as the seven spectrum colors taken together give us light, so the seven synonyms for God, understood, bring the full revelation of God's nature.
God, who is infinite, divine Mind, is naturally omniscient; God as Spirit is omnipresent. Mind therefore cannot possibly be material nor can Mind know matter. God as Principle is omnipotent. God as Life must be infinite and eternal. God as Love is changeless.
In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy speaks of man as "the idea of Spirit." She writes (p. 266), "Man is the idea of Spirit; he reflects the beatific presence, illuming the universe with light." Then man as the reflection of God must express the intelligence and wisdom of Mind, the freedom of Spirit, the purity, inspiration, and intuition of Soul, the government of Principle, the activity of Life, the exactness of Truth, the loveliness and peace of Love.
The individual ideas of God collectively constitute God's peaceful but ever-active universe. God's universe would not be complete without each individual idea, including you and me in our true being as His ideas. Because God's universe unfolds from the basis of infinity, every idea has always been and will ever continue to exist. Has God's man, then, ever been born? Can he ever die? Jesus was stating the truth regarding his true individuality when he said (John ), "Before Abraham was, I am." The fact that he appeared as a babe born in a manger presented no problem to Jesus in discerning his true spiritual being, which was identified with the Christ, Truth.
He surprised Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, when he said to him (John 3:7), "Ye must be born again." This new birth is going on in the consciousness of each one of us, here and now, whenever we grasp a right idea regarding God and man's relation to Him. Man coexisting with God is the eternal idea of Spirit; however, we must distinguish between the real, spiritual man and the unreal, mortal man who is represented as diseased and sinful.
Many of us have been educated to believe that this mortal man is the real man, and that sin, disease, sorrow, frustration, anxiety, poverty, death are normal. You may say, "Well, that is what I see all around me." With what do you see this unhappy picture? With the material senses. But spiritual sense, which is man's through his likeness to God, sweeps away this personal, limited sense of man. Then we see that right where this false sense of man claims to be, right there is the real man, expressing purity, wholeness, joy, goodness, abundance of ideas and the ability to put them into operation; unlimited unfoldment that leads not to decrepitude and blight but to the fulfillment of man's purpose to glorify God.
The first record of war in the Bible is war in its simplest form Cain slew Abel (Gen. 4:8). But the cause of that war was the same as the causes of our greatest modern wars. Fear, envy, and jealousy so filled Cain's consciousness that he saw Abel as an enemy. Mrs. Eddy tells us in "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 8): "Who is thine enemy that thou shouldst love him? Is it a creature or a thing outside thine own creation? Can you see an enemy, except you first formulate this enemy and then look upon the object of your own conception?" And she goes on: " 'Love thine enemies' is identical with 'Thou hast no enemies.' " When this fact is individually recognized as a certainty and when each individual strives daily to love the true concept of man, then we shall have built up a safe and unshakable basis for world peace.
Both health and peace are eternal, for they are divinely bestowed, and therefore are ever included in man's conscious being. They are spiritual qualities, for they express the divine nature. However, these spiritual qualities must be understood and demonstrated. As we begin to see that man, the idea of God, is Godlike and peaceful, we begin to see that a Godlike man would never be an enemy nor have an enemy.
Peace Is Individual
Peace is a matter of individual thinking, and thereby it affects all mankind. As a stone dropped into the water forms first a small circle that widens more and more, so the understanding of true peace, expressed in individual consciousness, reaches out into ever wider circles. Extending its healing influence, it becomes an element of humanity's thinking until every individual, and thus mankind, has gained the true understanding of brotherhood as Christian Science teaches it.
In her textbook, Science and Health (p. 496), Mrs. Eddy writes, "We all must learn that Life is God." Does not our lack of peace stem from the fear that we may in some way lose that which we believe constitutes our lives our loved ones, our homes, our supply, our way of life, even life itself?
How can we overcome the dangers to our peace, the fear, selfishness, pride, self-importance, all that causes the disturbing happenings in daily life? What is the meaning of Life that is God? How can we discern this truth and prove that God is Life? Certainly not by looking around and believing what we see and hear. To the material senses all seems to be under a law of finiteness. But has this anything to do with the life Mrs. Eddy speaks of? Certainly not. It is the counterfeit, the misrepresentation of true Life, which is perfect in every respect, unchangeable, wholly spiritual and eternal.
The Life that is God makes the seed grow, the flower unfold, and the stars circle in their courses. It impels the spider to spin the most delicate web, the bees to live in a state of ideal order. It leads the migrating bird on its way to the south. So we see that nature yields to spiritual law and points to God, divine Mind.
The understanding that Life is God is power, a far mightier power than mortal sense can imagine. Mountains of error can be removed through the understanding of this great truth.
We read in the Bible (James ): "Pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." Prayer is indispensable to peace of mind. Turning to God in prayer is a source of strength available to us at all times. Blessed are those who make constant use of it. For everyone who believes in God prayer is a natural activity. It is audience with God. In prayer our fears are silenced and replaced with confidence and power.
Before we understand prayer in Christian Science, we generally pray from the standpoints of petition and of gratitude a thanksgiving for that which has been received and a petition for that which seems desirable to the human heart. Beside the prayer of gratitude and petition, Christian Science gives us the prayer of affirmation. We affirm in our prayer that God is All-in-all and that man reflects and expresses God's dominion, intelligence, and completeness.
But prayer in Christian Science is not only affirmation of that which is true concerning God and man. It must include conscious denial of that which is untrue. For instance, we affirm that man is God's reflection; and we deny that God's man is a miserable sinner, that he has ever been born into matter, that he is living in matter, aging in matter, or that he can ever die out of matter, because he has never been in matter.
In her textbook, Mary Baker Eddy has written a whole chapter on prayer. In fact, it is the first chapter and is basic to an understanding of Christian Science. The first sentence reads (p. 1); "The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed Love." She makes it perfectly clear what it is that "reforms the sinner and heals the sick." It is spiritual understanding, unselfed love. Mrs. Eddy says that "Spirit, God, is heard when the senses are silent" (ibid., p. 89).
Only through spiritual sense can we perceive reality. As we deny the presence of material sense and affirm that man evidences spiritual sense, we reach that inner stillness where we hear the voice of God. Only then can we know that holy rest of which Isaiah speaks (30:15): "In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength." We enter the sanctuary of God where the human consciousness coincides with the divine and is identified with the Christ. Then personalities, petty animosities, and irritations disappear.
Jehoshaphat, king of
While the people prayed, the Lord spoke: "Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not your's, but God's. . . . Stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you. . . . fear not, nor be dismayed." Jehoshaphat accepted the promise. He trusted. Full of fear, he had turned to God. But now the fear was replaced by trust, and his doubts, whether he could really rely on God's message, were silenced. When the people were told of God's promise, they too trusted.
Up to this point there had not been the slightest visible proof of God's support. But the people realized that the victory is inseparable from God's promise and understood that the word of God is one with His deed. While the people thanked the Lord their enemies were smitten, and they were saved.
With the same certainty, we can trust the voice of God. It is the same voice of the Almighty that ever was and ever will be speaking to you and me. It is the same spirit of the Lord that gave the promise of salvation then and is still giving it to us right here tonight, regardless of what our problems may be. The voice of God speaks to us through our prayers, answered in inspiration, intuition, and divine impulsion. But Christian Science carries us further and enables us to understand God. Are we ready, like Jehoshaphat, to give thanks from our hearts before we have seen the proof? If so, we have faith. Can we say with conviction as Jesus did before he raised Lazarus from the dead, "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me"? If so, we have reached the point of spiritual understanding.
How Jesus must have cherished his
communion with God, when he withdrew from earthly scenes to commune with Him.
He did not say to himself, "Oh, there is so much to do, there are so many
demands on me, I'll pray when I have more time." He turned to his Father,
God, in quiet communion. He dwelt upon man's unchanging unity with God. In
thought he walked with God in the
The beloved disciple John says (I John 3:2), "Now are we the sons of God." In reality we are not the sons of mortals, but the spiritual ideas of God. As we individually recognize and claim these truths we too can express the Christ. But it requires spiritual mindedness to perceive the Christ in ourselves and others. With the material senses we are conscious only of so-called material personalities.
I know a woman who had been suffering from an abdominal disease for over ten years. She had consulted a number of physicians and well-known specialists, but none could help her. All agreed that she might receive temporary relief but the disease could not be permanently healed. She tried every form of modern treatment, but with no results. Finally, she grew hopeless, the more so because she had gone through some other difficult experiences. She had lost the two who were dearest to her. She was young, and the prospect of being ill, helpless, and alone for the rest of her life seemed unbearable to her. She had always been religious, but her church did not satisfy her. For years she had searched in all directions for a satisfactory religion or philosophy of life. However, God seemed to be getting farther away and becoming more uncertain. Life seemed to be without logic or justice. It seemed to hold nothing for her, and she longed for death.
From early childhood she had been taught that God sends illness either to punish or to purify one's character, and that one has to submit to God's will. However, she knew that this viewpoint was not at all in accordance with the God whom Christ Jesus had presented to his disciples. Something within her rebelled against it.
One day, by an interesting coincidence, a copy of The Herald of Christian Science (German edition) came into her hands. She knew nothing about Christian Science, but from curiosity she opened the Herald and began to read. She was in bed; it was early afternoon. She opened to a testimony of healing through Christian Science, and the very first sentence arrested her attention. There were the well-known words, "God is Love." How often she had read these words before, but now, together with the statements of Christian Science, they stood out in a new light, and suddenly she found herself reasoning logically in this way: "If God is Love, as Jesus defined Him, then God cannot possibly send disease and grief. If illness is not sent by God, who or what can force me to be an invalid? If there is no divine compulsion to force me to suffer well, then, I am not ill, I am well." Then her heart cried out, "Yes, this is true!"
As if a veil had been drawn away, she beheld a new and beautiful vista. With each passing hour it became clearer. What first had been only a dawning was now illuming her whole consciousness with unspeakable bliss and certainty.
That night she could not sleep for the wonder of this light that had come to her. In the morning she arose fresh, strong, and well. She was not only healed physically, but her grief had been replaced by the peace that passeth all understanding. She knew that she was healed and that this was not a temporary improvement, but that she had found the truth which she had sought for years. She at once gave up medical treatment, threw away her medicine, and lived a normal life. The conviction never left her that she had, at that time, touched the hem of the healing garment of Christ and had found the way to eternal life.
Mary Baker Eddy
All her life Mary Baker Eddy was close to God. Prayer was her natural attitude of thought; and because of this she dwelt in the sanctuary of inspiration and felt at home there. She understood the language of Spirit and was quick to recognize Mind's direction. She wrote (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 117), "Be sure that God directs your way; then, hasten to follow under every circumstance." In her quietness and in her confidence lay strength. She kept her gaze fixed on God and her heart filled with love,
It was in the year 1866 that Mrs. Eddy made her tremendous discovery, namely, that God, Spirit, good, is the only reality and therefore the only power; that matter, the opposite of good, God, Spirit, must be, by reason of logic, untrue, unreal, powerless. She discovered and proved the healing Christ, which Jesus had recognized as his own nature and had demonstrated in healing works. She declared that disease, in fact every bodily condition, is mental. Even before her discovery of Christian Science she had begun to see something of the relation of mind and body, but she did not find the Principle of spiritual healing until she herself was healed of seemingly fatal injuries from an accident. Lying on her bed in what were supposed to be her last moments, she took her Bible and read Jesus' healing of a man sick of the palsy (Matt. 9:2-7). She saw its spiritual import and recognized that the divine power was operating in her behalf just as it had been operating in behalf of the man healed by Jesus. With this spiritual light she was able to rise and dress herself. After this experience she enjoyed better health than ever before.
Her marvelous discovery was not at all enthusiastically and gratefully received by the public, as one would expect. Today Christian Science is recognized in many parts of the world. Healings have cut their way through antagonism and suspicion.
Mrs. Eddy had at first a small group of followers. They were inspired Christian Scientists who had experienced healings and went out into the world to heal and teach Christian Science. Over the years, this group has developed into an ever-widening movement.
Church Organization and Government
According to the Church Manual the Christian Science branch churches are distinctly democratic in their organization and government. Each member has the right of free expression of opinion and can hold office according to his qualifications.
An important activity of every Christian Science church is the Sunday School. Here the pupils learn the basic truths of Christian Science and how to apply them in daily life. It is remarkable how even the tiny ones learn to heal. They grasp the understanding of God as their omnipotent Father and Mother and with unshakable conviction expect Him to heal whenever there is a need.
In a country where Christian Science was prohibited for several years the children flocked to the Sunday School when the prohibition was over. In many cases they were the ones who brought Christian Science into their families, and they felt it their responsibility to prove at home what they were learning. Once a four-year-old boy told his teacher that he was teaching Christian Science to his grandmother; "but," he said, "I must have a lot of patience with my granny; she doesn't understand that one just cannot be sick."
This does not mean that all of the children in a Christian Science Sunday School are models of virtue and that there are never disciplinary or other problems. Of course there are, for the carnal mind tries to use the children for its erroneous purposes just as it tries to use you and me. But it is inspiring to see how the children respond quickly to the truth concerning God's idea, man.
The method of teaching in the Christian Science Sunday School is different from other educational systems, for it starts from the basis that there is but one Mind. The same divine Mind that is reflected by the teacher is also reflected by the pupil. The child therefore is not regarded as a little material being; he is regarded as the perfect idea of Spirit, expressing his God-bestowed intelligence, unfolding from the basis of infinity.
I should like to illustrate this point. One night I was awakened by the crying of a little child in the apartment underneath my bedroom. After this had continued for some time, I went downstairs, where I found the little child in his mother's arms. He was screaming in severe pain. He had been ill for weeks. I began to tell him that God loved him, that God had made him a happy child, that God had never made pain, and so on. Soon the child became quiet, turned his little face towards me, and began to drink in what I was saying. He listened with big, understanding eyes in fact, eyes I have never forgotten because the realization of God and the desire to know more about Him seemed to be so evident in them. Soon he was free, fell asleep, and was healed.
The point I want to bring out is this. The words I spoke to the child were not only heard by him, they appeared to touch a sounding board in his consciousness. It was as if I were speaking to him of something he already knew. He just needed to be reminded in order to awaken from a painful dream. This was again a proof of the one Mind not the mind of a child and the mind of a grown person, but the one divine Mind and its reflections. The spoken words unveiled the language of Mind and they reached the child, who represented the idea of Mind.
Christian Science Treatment
If someone here is wondering what Christian Science treatment is, may I say there is nothing mysterious about it. It is prayer. It is the wholehearted, unlimited acknowledgment of the present perfection of God and man and the denial of all that is unlike God and His spiritual creation. It is the joyous awareness of God's all-power and all-presence.
The practitioner starts his mental work from the standpoint of perfection. He does not acknowledge a mortal with a sick body and then try to heal him, but he understands that spiritual man is created in the image and likeness of God. Mrs. Eddy says in "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 183): "Whatever is possible to God, is possible to man as God's reflection." As God's reflection, therefore, man is always whole and perfect. The understanding of this present perfection and of the operation of God's law acts as law to free the patient from error, from fear, disease, or grief.
Any error has just as much power as we give it. Suppose we put down a wrong number in our checkbook. Later we discover the error and correct it. Where then has the error gone? Nowhere, because it only existed in belief; it was an illusion, never a fact. And that is all there is to any error, whether it is sin, sickness, lack, or human discord. We do not take out an error from our accounts and put it somewhere else. When we see it as a mistake, it disappears like smoke in the wind, like a soap bubble. It is gone forever. Every error, whether a wrong figure in our accounts or a so-called incurable disease, is unreal, and divine Truth corrects these errors in human thinking.
A Christian Science treatment is never the mental activity of one person controlling the thinking of another person. It is the understanding of the eternal perfection of God's government and control of His creation. It makes no difference where patient and practitioner are, whether they are in the same room or on different continents. The treatment, God's power in action, is independent of space. In the divine kingdom there is no here and there. There is only the omnipresence of God, good, including His universe.
There are times when a patient may be so filled with the longing to be well that this desire dominates his thinking rather than his desire to find and understand God and man's relation to Him. This is not surprising in the face of suffering. But the patient must be helped to replace this desire for physical healing with the longing expressed by Jesus when he said (Matt. 5:6), "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled" filled with health-giving ideas. One thing is clear: if the healing is delayed, it is because something is darkening our consciousness; it is never a fault in the Principle of Christian Science. The light of the Christ must be trusted to dispel the darkness.
Jesus said (John ), "I can of mine own self do nothing." Likewise the practitioner cannot do anything of himself. What he understands concerning God and His creation does the healing. He knows that it does not make any difference whether the disease is called a mild or a severe case, or even an incurable case these distinctions are man-made and unknown to God, who knows only good. The practitioner understands that man in his true nature is spiritually perfect, now and forever.
Friendship also is an element of peace. The prophets of old talked to God as they did to their friends. Abraham was called "the friend of God." What a tender relationship, what love for God is expressed in these words! Surely Abraham approached God, his friend, by listening to his friend, by conscious audience with Him. When we are with a friend we forget ourselves; we understand our friend; we serve our friend joyously. Let us be that kind of friend to God. In being friends of God, we shall find that we are friends of one another.
Mrs. Eddy links friendship with perfection. She says (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 80), "There are no greater miracles known to earth than perfection and an unbroken friendship"; and in "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 100), she says that friendship, the interchange of love, is one of the qualities of thought which brings a foretaste of heaven to earth. Surely if we base all our friendships on our friendship with God, they will be safe forever, and we can trust them to unfold in ever-increasing beauty, satisfaction, and peace.
Dwelling in the Present
One of the obstructions to our progress and disturbers of our peace is the habit of allowing our thoughts to dwell either in the future or in the past. He who tries to walk forward while looking backward or too far ahead is uncertain in his steps and is apt to stumble and fall. If our thoughts dwell in the future, we are either indulging in a fear of the unknown or building air castles. If we dwell in the past, we rob ourselves of the present and close our ears to God's voice. By allowing the past and the future to occupy our thought we submit to self-hypnosis.
At times we seem to be on a treadmill made up of faults of our own or faults of others. We seem unable to get off. What can be done? If a picture on the wall disturbs us, we remove it. But that is only the first step, because the bare spot on the wall will go on reminding us of it. We must put a new picture in its place; then the old association will fade away. The same procedure must be followed in dispelling human ills; we must see that in reality all human discords are false mental pictures. We must reject them and replace them with the glorious images of God, revealing His power, His presence, His activity. We shall then be inspired by the new, and the old will be blotted out of memory. Then nothing can take from us the certainty that the future rests with God and that the past holds only that which has always existed in divine Mind. Thus we open our thoughts to understand eternity.
The clear realization that the material past is not a divine reality facilitates the activity of forgiveness. Mrs. Eddy says (Message to The Mother Church for 1902, p. 19), "I say it with joy, no person can commit an offense against me that I cannot forgive." And at another place (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 12), "If you have been badly wronged, forgive and forget." In order to follow this command, we must understand that there is no time element in God's kingdom. In that kingdom material happenings are unknown, and therefore there is nothing in any idea of God that needs to be forgiven, no injustice, no disappointment, no offense. When we realize these facts, it is an easy, happy task for us to forgive and forget. Thus we clear the way of obstacles which would block our vision of divine Love, and our capacity to love is increased.
Many of us who lived in the devastated countries during the war learned that a reliable protection against bombs was a loving heart, a universal love that encompassed all without any reservation, that included even those in the planes overhead who had to carry out the destruction of the cities. This was not a difficult task as long as one accepted only the fact of the reality of spiritual creation and spiritual man and rejected the belief that man is a mortal. Herein lay our protection, in the realization that the spiritual creation, including man, is never at the mercy of destructive forces.
We have seen in this lecture that the demand upon each one of us is to establish peace in his own consciousness. From there it goes out and becomes the basis for world peace. Let me sum up the main points that the lecture brings out, for they are the very elements of peace; (1) The understanding that Life is God; in other words, that there can be no threat to our real life. This realization annuls the fear that would undermine peace. (2) The recognition that there is one Mind only. This realization annuls the belief that there are millions of different minds with different opinions which can create any kind of warfare. (3) The recognition that God is Love.
With this understanding comes the readiness to forgive, the determination not to look back on past mistakes but to live in the present, which means to live in eternity. When we know God as unchanging Love and understand that man, God's idea, is the expression of Love, we bring into operation the law of Love, which blesses and brings harmony and peace to all mankind. Then we are of the fellowship of Love those of whom Jesus said (Matt. 5:9), "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."
This peace stands intact throughout all eternity. Through it there comes a joy which all can share, for peace and joy walk hand in hand. Mary Baker Eddy writes in "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany" (p. 220), "Each day I pray: 'God bless my enemies; make them Thy friends; give them to know the joy and the peace of love.' "
And now in closing, may we, in the words of Isaiah (55:22), "go out with joy, and be led forth with peace."