Quit Conspiring Against Yourself
Edwin G. Leever, C.S., of Winter Park, Florida
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Nobody wants to be taken advantage of - to be exploited and used, lied to and deceived. And yet here we are - you and I - in today's world where there seems to be so much cheating and so many conspiracies going on. How can we be sure we don't become innocent victims of any kind of deception or intrigue, or maybe even join the conspiracy against ourselves?
Here's how one little boy coped with it. He was out on the slopes enjoying his new sled. When suddenly he returned home. With no sled.
"What happened?" his parents demanded.
"No problem," he replied. "I loaned it to a nice man I met."
"You've got to be kidding," his parents screamed. "How could you possibly trust your new sled to a total stranger?"
"It's all right," he reassured them. "He'll bring it back at four." His parents threw up their hands in despair but the boy wasn't the least bit concerned. Promptly at four there was the man with the sled, and the boy gave him back his watch.
That's one way to make sure we aren't cheated out of what's rightfully ours. But it's going to take more than holding a watch for safekeeping to make sure today's conspiracies don't rob us, not only of our possessions, but also of our health, our happiness, and our success.
Some of the most damaging conspiracies of all are still so secret they never get mentioned in the papers. Nor are they often discussed as such on T. V. Yet the damage they can do is appalling. Let's track down some of these hidden conspirators today and see, in the light of Christian Science, what can be done to overcome them.
A Love-illumined Consciousness Is One Where God, Divine Love, Is All
Let's start with one of the very worst - hatred. Alex Haley, the author of the best seller, Roots, certainly has hatred pegged. In getting material for his book, he uncovered indescribable horror and suffering inflicted for generations upon his family. Yet he didn't end up seething with hate.
He explained: "There were times in the early stages of the research when I felt like going back through history swinging an ax. But," he emphasized, "I resolved my bitterness over a period of time because I just couldn't let it eat me up, wreck my life and my work."1
And neither can we. Any of us. "Hate," Mary Baker Eddy writes, "is a moral idiocy let loose for one's own destruction.2 Mrs. Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, is the author of a book which not only helps people resolve bitterness, but also helps them wipe it out of their hearts and their lives. This book, a best-seller in its own right, is the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.
Science and Health teaches us that we stop hatred's conspiracy against ourselves as we destroy it in our consciousness, and we do this through love. A love much deeper than mere sentimental affection which admires friends and despises enemies. A love so pure it is just and loving to everyone. A love which is the only source of real affection.
Where do we find such a love? Only in a Love-illumined consciousness where God, divine Love, is All. In one of her poems, Mrs. Eddy states, "Love looseth thee, and lifteth me, ayont hate's thrall: There Life is light, and wisdom might, And God is All."3 Only divine Love - not human love - can ever loose us and lift us "ayont hate's thrall." As Mrs. Eddy tells us in Science and Health, "Clad in the panoply of Love, human hatred cannot reach you."4 Hatred can't touch man in God's likeness, held within the magnificent array of "the panoply of Love." In fact, hatred can't penetrate or even dent the Love-illumined consciousness man inherently has because of his relationship to God.
One dictionary defines "illumine" and "illuminate" "to enlighten spiritually."5 Spiritual enlightenment is what helps us see ourselves as God made us: spiritual, immortal, loving, and lovable.
That's the man we really are in God's likeness, the likeness of divine Love, the likeness of infinite Spirit. Man reflects what God is. God is divine Love, and only loves not hates, so man can only love.
Dwelling in a Love-illumined Consciousness, We See Man's Mission Is to Love, Not Hate
As we begin to understand man's mission is always to love, we dwell in that Love-illumined consciousness where "God is All," where there's nothing to hate.
Hatred isn't always intense animosity. It can be any irritation however slight, any annoyance however trivial, any aggravation however petty; that's all hatred, and it must be recognized as such. Justifying hatred in any degree is not being obedient to what Jesus taught. He laid it right on the line in the Sermon on the Mount where he said:
"Ye have heard that it hath been said. Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven."6
It's only as we dwell in a Love-illumined consciousness that we can love as Jesus commanded. Then we won't be fooled or deceived into becoming an instrument or victim of hatred in any degree. And we'll see healing result. I remember when I was in the army I saw how practical this could be.
One day the whole company was lined up and the sergeant of my platoon announced, "There will be extra duty this week-end for the four worst troublemakers of my platoon." And he read off the names.
You guessed it. I was one of them. And me third in command of his platoon. Everyone conceded the other three were troublemakers. But obviously the sergeant had it in for me. I tried to reason with him but he wouldn't even talk about it.
I was married, so my wife and I prayed to correct our thought, to see that sergeant as he really was - the spiritual likeness of divine Love, full of justice and mercy. That was his true being. And this vengeful, hateful mortal I was encountering was a lie about him.
Just when I'd think I really got it, I'd remember what he had done to me - and in public yet - and I'd get furious. I was not yet dwelling in the Love-illumined consciousness that heals. I was mentally stumbling in and out of it. So back to the books I'd go - the Bible and Science and Health - the basis for all Christian Science prayer.
As I studied, I began to see that both the sergeant and I were spiritual and lovable and loved and just. And then my healing came. All bitterness and animosity left me. I sought the sergeant out. But before I could say a word, he announced, "I'm taking you off the punishment detail." And that's all there was to it.
Except for one thing. Dwelling in a Love-illumined consciousness not only heals what has upset us. It changes us. I realized I had been excluding the sergeant in good times I and the others would have from time to time. And he resented it. I had been insensitive to his feelings.
So I went about correcting this, including him when it was natural to do so. He loved it. We didn't become big buddies, but the barrier between us was down.
With a Love-illumined consciousness we can't be fooled into believing anyone, in his true being could be less than Love's perfect expression. In this perfect expression - based on man's being spiritual not material - there's nothing to hate. We're separating the evil from the person and denouncing it as a lie because it's no part of God or His creation. Then we can easily love the good that's left - the perfect, spiritual idea everyone really is.
This helps us be more alert to detect evil's tricks to get us hating and to keep us there. We won't be joining in a conspiracy against ourselves. Rather, we'll become more patient and forgiving, kinder and more thoughtful, and be more genuinely concerned for those we meet. We'll be doing our part to help stamp out hatred wherever it tries to pop up.
Lust Must First Be Recognized for What It Is - a Sin Against God
Let's look at another conspiracy many people get all caught up with. It often starts innocently enough, but before long an unwed couple end up sleeping together or living together. Many people today call this doing your own thing, expressing life to the fullest, or new views of morality.
But in a recent TV program, it's true name came out. This fellow and his girl were about to get swept up in all this when suddenly she asked him, "What is this?" To which he, tongue-in-cheek, replied. "Lust."
Somehow it just wasn't the same anymore. That word stopped them from going any further, and they went their separate ways.
Lust sounds kind of mid-victorian to many, and today it goes under many names - illicit sex, sensuality, spouse-swapping, gay liberation, trial marriage, cohabitation, and so on - but it still remains what it always has been: unrestrained sexual desire and gratification. It's having sex outside the marriage covenant.
So whatever you want to call it, it's nothing new. It's been around for centuries. Those who get caught up in it are simply entering an age-old conspiracy against themselves. History proves that. It has never been an instrument for good. It has scarred people's lives and wrecked their careers. It has brought on disease and depravity, physical and spiritual decay. And it has been a major factor in destroying some civilizations. How important, then, that we all learn to recognize it for what it is, as that young fellow on TV did. And then go further - destroy it.
Yet today many people feel that, if you have the opportunity to experiment with illicit sex and don't follow through, you're just not with it. But we who yearn for higher morals today in all phases of society - home life, schools, business, and government - don't have to accept such reasoning.
A teenager I know of had the right idea. His boss's wife tried to seduce him. But he refused to join in this conspiracy. He simply said, "How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?"7 You don't hear that line very much today. But wouldn't it be refreshing!
This teenager - Joseph of the Bible - could see the culprit here was lust, not the woman; whereas the woman didn't understand how she was being used. She was so blinded by lust she was furious at being rejected by a slave in her household. She couldn't take it. She framed Joseph and had him thrown into prison. But, as most of you know, the story didn't end there.
Joseph went on to a great career, ending up second in command of the whole country. In his new post, he saved the lives of many, even his own brothers who were the ones that had sold him into slavery in the first place. Joseph looked beyond the current mortal picture and triumphed.
An Awareness of Spirit's Supremacy Breaks the Hold Lust Has on Our Consciousness
We, too, can look beyond the current picture of ourselves as mortals with an awareness of Spirit's supremacy. This gives us the tools we need to destroy lust - to break its earthly spell on us - before we get taken in by it as that woman was.
Spirit, not matter, is supreme because God is Spirit - as the Bible tells us - and God is All. Since Spirit has created man in His likeness, man is spiritual. He's complete as he is. There's nothing in matter which can give man any more satisfaction and joy than he already has.
God can no more create an unsatisfied, miserable man than "a fountain [can] send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter."8
We certainly don't expect bitter water, salt water, to come out of our kitchen faucets. Even in Florida where I live, which is surrounded on three sides by salt water. So why should we expect man to be anything less than what God has created? Man, God's man, needs nothing added to him to improve on the spiritual, perfect being he already is.
Man is not of the earth, or the dust of the ground. He was never born into matter. Nor does he ever have to struggle through emotional identity crises, rejections, or cycles of feeling unloved and incomplete.
Over the years the conspiracy has been to brainwash us to believe that we're mere mortals, subject to fleshly tendencies. But that's not the real us. That's simply the earthly spell we have to break.
We do it by putting on - prayerfully - our spiritual identity which we all inherently have as pure and holy ideas of God. This isn't disregarding the human body. It's taking good care of it - the best care.
What we're doing is walking "in the Spirit," as the Bible puts it. We're dropping the fleshly garment we have so long identified ourselves with. We're letting Spirit's supremacy reign supreme, be uppermost, in our consciousness and in our actions. We're being convinced man's life and substance are already intact in Spirit. We're discovering Spirit's ultimate control of man which includes spiritual strength and conviction. No fleshly impulse can override or influence spirit's control.
When we see this, we start looking at ourselves in a new light, the Christ light. Whereas Jesus was a person - a very special person no one can ever take the place of - the Christ is the understanding of man's true, spiritual being, filled full of joy, satisfaction, and contentment.
Building out from such a Christ-like basis, that is, walking in the Spirit, we'll have more firmly fixed in our consciousness the spiritual being man inherently is. We'll find it's natural to stand up for what is right, for what will help us and others get more in tune with God and stay there. We'll look for that which will build up and redeem. We'll know better what to say or do to help break the hold lustful thinking has on anyone's thought.
Letting Spirit, infinite Spirit, reveal to us its supremacy, opens the door to the right discussion at the right time. For several years I served as a Christian Science campus counselor. One college girl told me after several sessions she and I had along this line that she could see the strong, happy, and lasting male-female relationship she was looking for could only come about through a deeper look at man as God, Spirit, had made him.
So often, though, the question comes up that if we go this route, won't we be missing something? Consider my friend Bill. He's a fun-loving, married individual right in the thick of things. And yet not once - and he's been around a number of years - has he ever had sex outside of marriage. And he's had opportunities.
For example, one time he told me how he and a group of young servicemen were out on the town. One of them picked up a prostitute who was ready to take them all on. Bill mentally and verbally rejected the whole idea, knowing it was wrong, a "sin against God." Because of his strong stand, others, too, declined. One, in fact, a married buddy of his, told Bill afterwards that the only reason he'd abstained was because Bill said, "No," giving him the courage to say "No," too. He thanked Bill profusely, as he thought about it, because he really didn't want to cheat on his wife.
Bill has had other propositions made to him over the years - directly and indirectly. And yet not once has he considered joining in such a conspiracy against himself. You know, that's all lust is.
Bill has found life so spiritually enriching, so dynamic, he doesn't feel he needs something else to liven up his life. His glimpsing more and more of man's spiritual, eternal being as the son of God has brought a great sense of joy, meaning, and purpose into every aspect of his life, making it full.
As each one of us takes his stand for what is right - and remember, Joseph wasn't the last one to ever take a strong moral stand. People do it all the time. Bill is just one of the many. You just don't always hear about them. As each one of us takes a strong moral stand, he's helping wipe out that age-old conspirator called lust with all its contemporary disguises.
Man is established forever in God's likeness and stays that way. This kind of spiritual realization - known and lived - wipes lust out. We'll then see more and more proof of chastity and faithfulness to marriage vows taking place in our lives, and in the lives of those around us.
We're Inspired by Love When We Let Our Thinking and Actions Reflect Love
Now let's go after another conspirator. Have you been noticing how capable we all are of doing this kind of sleuthing? Spiritual Sleuthing? We don't need to call in a Barnaby Jones or a Columbo.
So let's move on, sleuthing out revenge. "Am I going to get even with him!" And have you noticed how so often revenge follows undestroyed hatred or lust? Now there's only one way to truly conquer revenge. With charity, a love so great we mentally embrace those being used to cause the trouble.
Take the story of David and Saul in the Bible. Saul, the king, was very jealous of the young David - that popular military hero of the David and Goliath battle. So Saul tried to kill him. David escaped and had to become a fugitive on the run for years. And yet, when David finally had the opportunity to get revenge, what did he do? He spared Saul's life, not once but twice, and even referred to Saul as "the Lord's anointed.9
What a wonderful, inspiring way to view someone else - as the Lord's anointed. In reality everyone is truly anointed as the spiritual likeness of God. As we become inspired enough to see man only in this way, our thinking and our actions will start being more loving. Our love will know no limits, no boundaries. That's conquering revenge with charity, regardless of what's been done to us, and healing inevitably results.
One definition of "inspire" is to cause, guide, communicate, or motivate by divine influence.10 As we are guided and motivated only by divine influence, the influence of divine Love, the mesmeric, evil pull of revengeful thinking loses its grasp in our consciousness. We won't be so quick to lash out - physically, verbally, or silently.
Mrs. Eddy once wrote, "To strike out right and left against the mist, never clears the vision; but to lift your head above it, is a sovereign panacea."11 Only a Love-inspired concept of man as he really is - the beloved expression of God - enables us to lift our heads above revenge, and conquer it.
Mary Baker Eddy Was a Living Example of This
Mrs. Eddy spoke from experience. As the Founder of Christian Science, she dared to stand for what she believed in: the allness of Spirit and the nothingness of matter. Undaunted by every attack trying to get her to accept matter's supremacy in people's lives, she continued to practice what she preached, loving and healing on the basis of God's being supreme over everything. She could later write, "I will love, if another hates. I will gain a balance on the side of good, my true being. This alone gives me the forces of God wherewith to overcome all error."12
This kind of inspiration helped Mrs. Eddy overcome revenge with charity as she encountered one vicious onslaught after another. One of the worst occurred when she was in her mid-eighties. Her church, by then, was well established. And she became "the victim," as Reverend Irving C. Tomlinson, in his book about her, states, "of a modem form of religious persecution superlatively cruel and vindictive because of the subtle and hidden nature of its venomous intent."13
A New York newspaper persuaded members of her family, including her son and nephew, to bring suit which would take away from her her earnings, her copyrights to her book Science and Health, and her freedom to further the Cause of Christian Science she had labored for so diligently the previous forty-one years.
For more than a year, Mrs. Eddy was unjustly maligned by newspapers. During the week of formal hearings on the case, Mrs. Eddy was not required to be in the courtroom, although the court visited her on one afternoon. A friend of hers reported daily to her after each court session. He described her at this time as having "full confidence" in God's triumph. "As I recall," he stated, she once said to me, 'You cannot hurt anyone by telling the truth, and no one can hurt you by telling a lie.' 14 Even when the ones telling the lie were dear to her.
To illustrate how she kept her perspective in all this: the suit was called the "Next Friends Suit" as the relatives bringing the suit were referred to as the "next friends." She wrote someone a note during this time and signed it: "Your best friend, but not your next friend."15
During the trial, a group of reporters were sent to Concord, New Hampshire, where Mrs. Eddy was then living. As one of them said later, he couldn't understand why they, the reporters, were treated so nicely by the Christian Scientists. This reporter said, "If ever anyone has a right to hate someone, surely the Christian Scientists had a right to hate us. We were there to vilify Mrs. Eddy if we could. We had no reverence and no decency. We did not believe anything but the worst about anybody, and we wanted if possible to hold Mrs. Eddy up to scorn and ridicule, to expose and denounce her."16
But Mrs. Eddy continued to love them all - to see them only in their true immortal being. And she encouraged her household to do the same. An interesting healing came about as a result of this.
One of the reporters was instantaneously healed one night of a cancerous growth while he was there in Concord. The other reporters witnessed it and they were all stunned, for they all believed Mrs. Eddy and what she taught to he a big hoax! And yet they saw this proof of Christian Science healing right before their eyes. They packed their bags and left. Years later that reporter acknowledged how grateful he was for that healing.
That reporter was healed because Mrs. Eddy and those close to her were so inspired by divine Love that they could only see those reporters as they really were. There was no place in their thought for revenge.
The lawsuit soon collapsed in Mrs. Eddy's favor. As soon as she heard the news, Mrs. Eddy sat right down and wrote a letter of forgiveness to one of those bringing the suit.17 And at her insistence a book written about the suit was withdrawn from publication. She didn't want to keep alive a memory of bitterness and discord, when obedience to God's law of harmony should be the aim of all.18 And what's more, she generously reimbursed the editor who had prepared it.
One of Mrs. Eddy's biographers wrote of her that "she emerged from every encounter as the victor who had stripped her opponent of his venom and covered his defeat with lovingkindness."19 That's conquering revenge with charity. That's being inspired by divine Love so that anything to the contrary dissolves into nothingness.
Deceit Underlies Every Conspiracy
Now let's look at one last conspirator we're going to expose today - deceit, the act of representing as true what is known to be false. Deceit underlies every kind of conspiracy. Without uncovering deceit and destroying it, hatred, lust, revenge, and all other tricks in evil's bag of hidden conspirators might slip in on us.
Remember Jesus admonished us all to "watch," to be alert, to "take heed that [we] be not deceived."20 Or, as a modern translation says it, "Watch out; don't be fooled."21 How are we fooled today?
There are many ways, many forms of deceit running rampant. But as I see it as a Christian Scientist, one of the biggest deceptions of all is believing God is not all-powerful. Did Jesus accept this? No. Did he tell us we had to? No. He did not limit for one moment God's ability to heal any kind of sickness or disease. And so neither do we have to.
A woman I know was seriously ill and was having the very best medical treatment. The doctors finally conceded there was nothing more they could do and predicted she'd live only a few more months. Her husband took her home, where she required complete rest and quiet and the services of a full-time nurse.
This family heard about Christian Science and so, in desperation, they tried it. After the woman's first visit with a practitioner, she began to glimpse something about God and His laws. She said, "There was awakened in my thinking a zest for living that I had not experienced before. Almost immediately, I began to manifest strength, alertness, and a desire for activity had had not been shown for several years."
Within two months, she was able to start caring for her two small children, and within a few more months, she began doing all her own housework. She was completely healed, and lived many happy, healthy, and useful years. I know because she was my mother.
Honoring Truth Is Honestly Reaching out to Truth and Accepting It as Law
She had overcome a form of deceit - the belief that God is not all-powerful. And she had done it with honesty, an honest reaching out to Truth, or God, and honoring the Eternal Truth as law.
What does eternal Truth tell us about man? That he is made in God's likeness. That he is immortal and not vulnerable to disease or deterioration. That he is, and remains forever, the expression of health. That he is witness only to Truth, and honors only that which is true. That he acknowledges God, and God alone, as all-power, and as the very source and essence of his being.
We read in Science and Health that "omnipotence has all-power, and to acknowledge any other power is to dishonor God."22 Acknowledging any other power but God is entering into a deceitful conspiracy against ourselves because we're not honoring what is spiritually true.
Believing in the finality of disease, in the finality of any medical verdict, is saying, in effect. God is not all-powerful. But He is. Whereas honestly accepting God's never-failing power, believing it to be true and honoring it as law, changes our lives and heals us. My mother's case was not unique. Healings such as hers happen all the time.
Take my friend Sheila. She was confronted with four medical verdicts over a period of eight years. When she was first married, she wasn't much of a student of Christian Science, although she had attended Sunday School. But she trusted God completely and honored His Word as law. She knew she didn't have to bow down to any other verdict.
She had to have a physical examination to get a job she wanted. When she was given the results of the exam, she was told the chances were slim she would ever have children. She refused to accept that because, as I said, she honored God's Word only as law. She prayed to know more clearly that man was created by God. Later, when she became pregnant,
the physician at one of her pre-natal checkups told her there wasn't enough iron in her blood, and so she would need medication. (Christian Scientists obey the law which requires a physician or midwife in obstetrical cases.)
She called an experienced Christian Scientist to help her through prayer. This was the step she took instead of taking medication. She knew God was supplying everything man needed. Later tests proved all was normal. When born, the child was perfectly healthy. The physician did tell her, though, that due to a RH factor, any second child would probably be a "blue baby," and its life and hers could both be in danger at birth.
When she became pregnant again, she wasn't fearful of that medical prediction. She now firmly knew God was the only Creator and didn't doubt that her life and that of her children were all safe and secure in God. There were no complications at birth and both mother and child were fine.
Later when she decided to go back to work, she was required to take another physical. This time she was told she had diabetes and that she should come back the next week for more tests. Again she relied on Christian Science teachings completely and prayed to know man was spiritual and has not made up of blood or anything material which could get diseased. The following week the blood tests proved negative. There was no evidence of the diabetes.
Each medical verdict was overcome - and remember there were four of them in this short period of time. With much gratitude and joy from all the good she had witnessed during these spiritual growing years, she went on to become a dedicated student of Christian Science, and is so today. As each one of us so honors what Truth and Truth alone is ever revealing, we're helping destroy the conspiracy called self-deceit, which tries to lure us all away from recognizing the real spiritual facts about man when we hear them.
"Christian Science," Mrs. Eddy tells us, "commands man to master the propensities, - to hold hatred in abeyance with kindness, to conquer lust with chastity, revenge with charity, and to overcome deceit with honesty. Choke these errors in their early stages," she reminds us, "if you would not cherish an army of conspirators against health, happiness, and success."23
During this past hour, we've seen how people have refused to conspire against themselves. We can do the same. We all encounter hatred, lust, revenge, and even deceit from time to time in our lives but what we do with them is up to us. We can ignore them, be horrified, look the other way, or just drift along with them! Or, we can start healing them. The decision is ours, isn't it?
1. Alex Haley, Orlando Sentinel-Star, Orlando, Florida.
2. The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 249.
3. Christian Science Hymnal, No. 161.
4. Science and Health, p. 571.
5. Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, 8th ed., p. 570.
6. Matthew 5:43-45.
7. See Genesis 39: 7-20.
8. James 3:11.
9. See I Samuel 18:6ff.
10. See Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language (New York and Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1970), p. 729.
11. Miscellaneous Writings, p. 355.
12. Ibid., p. 104.
13. See Irving C. Tomlinson, Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy (Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1945), p. 154.
14. See We Knew Mary Baker Eddy. Third Series (Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1953), pp. 54, 55.
15. Ibid., p. 56.
16. See Tomlinson, pp. 62-65.
17. See We Knew Mary Baker Eddy. Third Series, p. 55.
18. See Lyman P. Powell, Mary Baker Eddy, a Life Size Portrait (Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1930), pp. 209, 210.
19. See Julia Michael Johnston, Mary Baker Eddy: Her Mission and Triumph (Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1946), pp. 166, 167.
20. Luke 21:8
21. v. 8 (Good News for Modern Man).
22. Science and Health, p. 228.
23. Ibid., p. 405.