The Law of Spiritual Dominion Over Material Domination
Richard Knox Lee, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Liberation from sin and disease
through spiritual understanding of God is a practical opportunity today, said Richard Knox Lee,
Mr. Lee told a lunchtime audience in John Hancock Hall that the evils and limitations of materialism are overcome as man's God-given dominion is spiritually understood and applied.
A member of the Christian Science Board of Lectureship, he spoke under the auspices of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, on the subject "Christian Science: The Law of Spiritual Dominion Over Material Domination." He was introduced by Miss Leslie Harris, C.S.B., Second Reader of The Mother Church.
Divine Law Revealed by Mrs. Eddy
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
The great question today confronting mankind individually and collectively is, Do we wish to understand and exercise our God-given dominion over the domination of the deceitful physical senses, or to continue in submission to their enslavement? This question arises because in the year 1866 Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, revealed to human apprehension the divine law by which Moses and the prophets "caught glorious glimpses of the Messiah, or Christ" (Science and Health, p. 333), which appeared in its full effulgence in the demonstration of Christ Jesus, thus enabling his followers to prove, to a marked degree, spiritual dominion over the tyranny and vicissitudes of their day. This continued to the end of the third century. In the year 1875 Mrs. Eddy gave her discovery to the world in her textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." This volume, next to the Bible, upon which it is founded, is now one of the most widely read books in the Christian world. It is available in most public libraries and in all Christian Science Reading Rooms.
Mrs. Eddy, in her prayerful contemplation and study of the Bible, discovered Divine Science, which, as applied to humanity, she called Christian Science. Briefly stated, Christian Science is the Science of Christianity, which is manifesting its practicability in the healing of sickness and sin and the lifting of multitudinous evils and limitations that claim to dominate the human race. It dispels all belief in a manlike God and inspires its adherents to become Godlike men. It reveals God as Life, Truth, Love, the divine Principle of being, giving man dominion over the world, the flesh, and all evil. On the basis of God's allness, it demonstrates the positive reality of good and the negative unreality of evil, the substance and supremacy of Spirit and the nothingness of matter.
Christian Science has several names for Deity, but there is only one God. It defines Him as "The great I am; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence" (Science and Health, p. 587). This infinite God is the great First Cause, who made all that was made, and made all good, as we read in Genesis. The Bible also avers that everything that was made is now and always will be perfect and complete; "nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it" (Eccl. ).
Man’s Harmony Derived from God
Now, my friends, all men in their true, spiritual selfhood are included in this perfect spiritual creation as individual, spiritual ideas, and Christian Science helps us thus to identify ourselves spiritually. As a mirror reflects all that is in front of it, so we, as the spiritual ideas of God, image forth or reflect God in myriad forms of goodness. The material sense of things that denies the perfection of God, man, and the universe is non-sense or want of spiritual sense, as Jesus proved to the satisfaction of those whom he healed and saved. There was nothing wrong with God and His infinite creation as Jesus saw and demonstrated it. Had there been, he surely would not have said, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). Jesus knew that it was natural for man to reflect God's goodness, for the expression of goodness reveals the perfect man. Christian Science teaches that in coming to know ourselves as we are already known of God, we naturally express the wisdom that overcomes ignorance and folly: purity, dispelling impurity and sin; spiritual understanding, effacing evil beliefs and delusions; spiritual power, destroying the effects of these beliefs and illusions; love, conquering hate and fear; health, replacing discord and disease; holiness, or wholeness, banishing death and all else that constitutes a troubled or mortal man. The harmony of this spiritual selfhood derived from God has never been touched, impaired, or impeded by mortal thoughts or conditions, for in the abode of Spirit, Mind, where man naturally dwells, no such conditions exist.
Some time ago, a little girl was taken seriously ill with pneumonia. Her father and mother were abroad at the time, and she badly needed them. A Christian Scientist was called to help on the case, and while visiting the child it was explained that her real Father-Mother was God, and that He could do far more for her than any human parents. She became so engrossed in what she had been told of the Father-Mother love which God had for her true selfhood, as well as for all His children, that she lost her fear, her breathing became less labored, congestion and sickness abated, and the next day she was well. Healing in Christian Science is not difficult when we let God and the realization of His goodness become our present consciousness, for disease is merely a diseased mental state, superimposed upon the body.
Christian Science treatment is not primarily the process of changing a diseased body into a healthy one. God's man is already whole and free; it is our privilege to know this, and knowing it we find that the body inevitably resumes its healthy functions. Mrs. Eddy says, "We cannot remake ourselves, but we can make the best of what God has made" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 288).
Allness of Life and Love Heals Sick
You and I in this building, and people everywhere, are embraced in the all-inclusiveness of Life and Love as surely as was Jesus when he taught by the wayside, fed the multitudes, and healed the sick and sinning; the only difference is that Jesus was constantly aware of this fact and took full advantage of it. Jesus knew the truth concerning God and man so clearly that evil vanished in the presence of his understanding. In proportion as we have the same thoughts that he had, do we have the same power to repeat his actions and demonstrations. We shall not then fear or run away from the errors that confront us, but refusing to acknowledge any power or presence, cause or law, life or intelligence, mind or substance, other than God, good, we shall "see the salvation of the Lord" (Ex. 14:13).
Now, the way to dominion over the flesh and its many ills is open to us in Christian Science, which rightly demands the whole weight of our thoughts, affections, and capacities on the side of Spirit, God. But drifting with the current of popular beliefs, yielding to suggestions of false desire, thinking of physical personality as the one thing to cherish in this life, we bind ourselves to the dream of error and blind ourselves to the realm of reality. The so-called physical senses, which enslave us, proffer nothing that can make their indulgence worth while. Most of us have found this out in some way at one time or another.
The allness and oneness of God precludes the existence of anything unlike Himself, unlike the infinite perfection. Hence the commandment, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength; and thy neighbour as thyself" (Luke ), a commandment which Jesus obeyed literally and unconditionally, and which makes its unreserved demand upon us. "Self-renunciation of all that constitutes a so-called material man," says our Leader, "and the acknowledgment and achievement of his spiritual identity as the child of God, is Science that opens the very flood-gates of heaven; whence good flows into every avenue of being, cleansing mortals of all uncleanness, destroying all suffering, and demonstrating the true image and likeness. There is no other way under heaven whereby we can be saved, and man be clothed with might, majesty, and immortality" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 185).
Man Cannot Live Without Godliness
It should be clearly understood, however, that self-renunciation of material selfhood is not neglecting a physical body, but giving up the false beliefs of which material man is the embodiment. These beliefs are the negations of reality. They are the aggressive suggestions and fraudulent impulses of mortal mind that make men unhappy, fearful, sinful, and diseased. We need constantly to ask ourselves if the Mind which is God and its manifestation which is man is being increasingly demonstrated in our individual lives, and to see that it is.
When we love good with all our heart and mind and soul and strength, and love to know ourselves as the reflection of all that God is, we shall no longer let the suppositions of materiality dominate our thoughts.
If we resist the errors that would dominate our thoughts as vigorously as we rebel against the physical discomforts they impose upon us, we shall advance rapidly in the realization of spiritual dominion. God knows us as His spiritual ideas "without spot or blemish." As such, we are free to disown and abandon whatever defiles our lives. God withholds not from anyone the possession and expression of the qualities which reflect Him and which make manifest His presence and power.
Everyone is capable of thinking and expressing good, no matter what its circumstances may be, for that expression is his life, and without some measure of it he would not be living at all. Mrs. Eddy writes, "Godliness or Christianity is a human necessity: man cannot live without it; he has no intelligence, health, hope, nor happiness without godliness" (Message to The Mother Church for 1901, p. 34). Through godliness we partake of heavenly manna, we enter the realm of reality, we have sonship with the Father, the source and substance of all true life, action, and being.
You see, my friends, Christian Science introduces a higher and more practical Christianity which promises to improve the present. The Science of Christianity is eminently practical, but we must live it, that its promise may be fulfilled.
To illustrate this point, let me
tell you of an amusing incident which occurred in
Christianity can straighten out the world's affairs only as it is utilized by its adherents, and Christian Science is come to lead the way in doing this. The great healing truths of Christian Science are ever available to men, and through Mrs. Eddy's discovery of this fact we can use these truths to wash away the depravity and distress and disease which are no part of God and no part of man.
Beatitudes Teach Being-Attitude
And now for a few moments I want
to turn your attention to the subject of Being. In our textbook we read:
"In the order of Science, in which the Principle is above what it
reflects, all is one grand concord. Change this statement, suppose Mind to be
governed by matter or Soul in body, and you lose the keynote of being, and
there is continual discord" (p. 240). My friends, it is highly important
that we do not lose the keynote of being. Seventy-two pages of our textbook are
devoted to a chapter entitled "Science of Being." This shows how
necessary it is for us to gain a right concept of being.
You are well acquainted with the Beatitudes, no doubt, and other statements of Jesus, John, and Paul on the subject of "being": "Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves" (Matt. 10:16); "Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant" (Matt. 20:27); "Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful" (Luke 6:36); "Be not children in understanding . . . be men" (I Cor. 14:20); "Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you" (II Cor. 13:11).
If such Beatitudes and attitudes of being are linked with our living and our moving, what dominion we shall prove, what freedom shall we know.
In the spiritual realm of reality, and there is none other, all men reflect one Life or Being. As there is but one air or atmosphere, not mine or yours, but nature's air, and we all use it, just so in the realm of infinite Life there is one infinite peace, love, buoyancy, freedom, one infinite joy, beauty, order, and countless other attributes of the one all-inclusive Life, for us to apply to the circumstances that confront us in this material realm, so-called. Using Life's attributes we realize them, they become real to us, we find their reality in health, harmony, happiness, home, heaven.
Air does not give us life, but life enables us to breathe air. Jesus lived in a sealed tomb for three days. It was spiritual inspiration, "the breath of the Almighty" (Job 33:4), as Job calls it, that gave him life – was his life, and is the real life of all.
"But," you may say, "that's all very well regarding life; what about its opposite, death, which we all have to face sooner or later? What has Christian Science to say about death?"
As you know, the Latin word for death is "mors, mortis," from which the word mortal is derived. Death is mortal or carnal-mindedness; death is not merely what is called "passing on." That is but a phase of it. To think of oneself as mortal, to be mortally-minded, is to be dead to immortal selfhood, to ageless life and harmonious being – that is, so long as we choose to think that way.
Jesus Proved Death to Be Illusion
All that ever dies is that which never lives, a false sense of existence, the dream of life and intelligence in matter.
"For we know," says Paul, "that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven" (II Cor. 5:1,2). In other words, in proportion to our realization of the unreality of material beliefs, we cease to be dominated by physicality, and find true and abiding selfhood derived from God, forever harmonious. By spiritual thinking and living, not by dying, we put off material beliefs and dissolve their substratum, matter. This is what Jesus proved by his ascension, his crowning demonstration of spiritual dominion over the belief that man is material. He gave forever the proof that man's Life is God, indestructible, eternal, and that death is merely a temporal illusion of false, material sense.
Here or hereafter all must awaken to the Life which is God, good. The incident called death is not the end of Life, neither is birth the beginning of Life. Life is eternal, without beginning or end. Material birth, growth, maturity, and decay are not accompaniments of Life, they are as separate from the divine Principle of being as mistakes in arithmetic are apart from the principle of mathematics: they have but suppositional existence and are ''full of trouble." Death is not a friend. Jesus called it an enemy, because it is unnatural, a human mistake, as much as sin and disease are human mistakes, and it should be averted. As we exterminate sin and suffering, we shall find their penalty, death, proportionately diminishing, until it is finally "swallowed up in victory" (I Cor. ). Life is God, eternal, indestructible, omnipresent Being, and all men reflect Life in its myriad forms of goodness.
When the funeral procession from
Jesus said, "If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death" (John ). Thus it is Christian Science teaches that, "Life is real, and death is the illusion" (Science and Health, p. 428).
Christ Discerned as the Saving Truth
Christ is the eternal truth of God, man, and the universe. It is therefore more than man's person: it is true spiritual individuality, to which Jesus referred when he said to the Jews, "Before Abraham was, I am" (John ). This utterance so stirred them that they took up stones to cast at him, thus showing that they had failed to recognize in him what Peter discerned when answering Jesus' question, "But whom say ye that I am?" Peter replied, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. ,16). Peter had perceived the Christ in Jesus' thought, the very presence and power of God operating through infinite spiritual ideas; he had glimpsed the Christ as the impersonal Saviour from all that constitutes a mortal concept of man and a physical universe.
Jesus said, "The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him" (John ). Jesus was obedient to the law of God, and in this obedience he pleased God. In pleasing God he pleased men. He attempted nothing without God's help. This, no doubt, is why he commended Mary, the sister of Martha, who sat at Jesus' feet and heard his word, while Martha was "cumbered about much serving" (Luke ). Mary had chosen the good part: she was putting first things first. She was learning to please God as Jesus pleased God – to reflect the divine Mind in thought, word, and deed. Martha, however, was not consciously reflecting the Mind which is God; she was harboring hard thoughts. She was right in preparing a meal for her exalted guest, but her lack of spiritual grace in accomplishing this task was blameworthy, and this called forth the Master's kindly rebuke, "Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part" '(Luke .10:41,42). In Christian Science we learn to put first things first, to acknowledge God in all our ways and let Him direct our paths. Working without God's wisdom and love is like the sunlight trying to shine without the sun: nothing real is done, nothing worth while accomplished.
We need to do the Martha work, of course, but with the mind of Mary, that is, with a moral and spiritual outlook derived from God, which makes each task a joy. How much better it is to identify ourselves with God and reflect His grace than to work without God and spread discord and disgrace.
What a blessing life becomes for ourselves and those around us when we manifest the qualities of God in thoughtfulness, kindness, justice, and love, when we are buoyant, calm, happy, and free. How truly do God's qualities, thus expressed, lighten every burden and put everyone at ease. No wonder Jesus said, "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matt. ).
As with other departments of human life, the world of industry and commerce has great need of Christian Science. We see so many people dominated by their businesses, either through ruthlessness and greed, or through fear and incompetence and a belief in hard times. Such negative thinking savors of worry, failure, and sleepless nights. To have dominion in business, so that we possess it and it does not possess us, we must place it in God's hands by letting the Golden Rule become the basis on which it stands. Doing unto our employers and employees as we would have them do to us; being more concerned with gracious service than personal gain; being obedient to divine Principle instead of exercising personal domination; using encouragement more than censure; and being honest, punctual, orderly, and just, is the way of the righteous that prospers. If such qualities as these characterize the efforts of employer and employee alike, business becomes the Father's business, the most harmonious, satisfying, and rewarding business there is.
God’s Ideas Meet Human Needs
A friend of mine, because of his sound character and wide experience, was called to take over the managing directorship of a large business concern employing many thousands of people. Under the influence of self-interest, dishonesty, and inefficiency, the business had been disintegrating and was in debt. With spiritual inspiration derived from an understanding of Christian Science and much moral courage, this man quietly went about correcting all that was not upright. Those who forsook their errors remained to help the company, but the few who would not do so left to learn their lesson elsewhere. This man understood the presence and unity of good, as taught in Christian Science. Introducing many righteous qualities, especially "wisdom, economy, and brotherly love'' (Manual, p. 77), he raised everyone's salary, and in response he awakened his employees' affection for honesty, justice, and integrity. From the lowest employee to the highest employer, good service was forthcoming. The company began to unite and flourish as never before. Today it is widely recognized as an outstanding success and an influence for good in the business world.
As we perceive and realize God's spiritual ideas in consciousness, they meet our human needs, destroying our iniquities and healing our diseases. Christian Scientists use the Lord's Prayer as do other Christians, but they are blessed in having its spiritual interpretation as given in their textbook. This spiritual interpretation used in conjunction with the Lord's Prayer enables them to apply its humble petitions and sublime affirmations understandingly in overcoming all that is unlike good.
Treatment in Christian Science is prayer specifically applied to solving the problems of individuals as well as those of the whole human race, thus enabling them to rise above the various vicissitudes that afflict them, and take full advantage of the opportunities of claiming God's goodness, which is always present and available. In giving a treatment a Christian Science practitioner silently or audibly affirms God's allness, that God being perfect, man also is perfect, because man is God's manifestation. He repudiates any reality in the false claim of the so-called carnal mind and its substratum, matter; he then denies the ailment or discord, whatever its nature; denounces belief in its presence or power, type or location, cause or effect; and on the basis of God's allness proves its nothingness. Such true or scientific knowing is answered prayer.
Spiritual Presence and Power Proved
For instance, not long ago I was privileged to witness an inspiring demonstration of spiritual power over mental derangement and physical impotence. It was the case of a headstrong young man who became mentally unbalanced and totally paralyzed. He was taken to a mental home, where he lay for several years, entirely helpless and oblivious of his sad surroundings. As the doctors had failed to make any progress with his case during all this time, his parents sought the aid of a Christian Scientist. It was a most distressing condition, and the Scientist vigorously denied the false evidence which the patient and his surroundings presented. He knew that the young man, scientifically speaking, was not in a mental home, but that his life and intelligence were purely spiritual, "hid with Christ in God." Visits were made, and Christian Science treatment was given. Stubborn resistance to Truth was handled. The weeks passed, but there was no response. A sense of futility and discouragement began gradually to dominate the Scientist's thought. Not until these had been resolutely rejected, and the Scientist had become thoroughly imbued with the spiritual ideas and graces of the all-knowing, all-acting Mind, which man reflects, did the patient begin to yield. Tears were seen to trickle from his eyes. His hands and arms began to move, and by degrees over a period of a few months the young man's mind and body were restored to normal thought and action. Today he is strong and healthy, has a keen intellect, and, best of all, he is a grateful student of Christian Science asserting a fuller measure of spiritual dominion as a son of God.
Here let me say that all the ignorance and false belief held in human consciousness can never change the demonstrable fact of man's present spiritual perfection; and all the wrong thinking in the world cannot separate us as children of God from the presence and power of the Father.
Thus it is that Christian Science answers the great question, of which I spoke at the beginning of this lecture. The understanding of the nature of God and of man in His spiritual image frees us from material domination and enables us at all points to exercise our God-given spiritual dominion. In Mrs. Eddy's words, "Father, we thank Thee that Thy light and Thy love reach earth, open the prison to them that are bound, console the innocent, and throw wide the gates of heaven" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 275).
[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 6, 1957.]