The Science of Happiness
Roy J. Linnig, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The only happiness that can satisfy man comes from "obedience to God's will."
It's a state of spiritual joy, "so based on unselfed love that nothing can shake it."
This was the message presented by Roy J. Linnig in a Christian Science lecture at the John Hancock Hall in Boston, Oct. 20.
"The belief that happiness depends on material things is a deception," he declared. To search for happiness in matter is "a selfish state which loses sight of God . . . puts us at odds with God and with our own native spiritual sense." It leads to "appetites and addictions which make slaves of men and rob them of their natural dignity."
"It can offer only counterfeits" and "illusions."
He quoted Jesus' words, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing," – and added that "each of us must learn this for himself. We are compelled to seek the higher pleasures that God gives."
Such a change "is not made in
a moment," remarked Mr. Linnig, who is a Christian Science practitioner in
He urged the audience not to be "surprised when tempted to think or act evilly." We are always "at the point of choosing between good and evil," he said. The important thing is to detect temptation, and reject it – for Christianity shows that "evil must be faced and overcome" through the "joyous striving to bring 'every thought to the obedience of Christ.' "
This is the purpose of prayer, the lecturer stated. It "awakens such a love for God in our hearts that to know and obey Him becomes our one endeavor. . . . We know the thrill of yielding to God's healing power." . . . We discover that "man is God's likeness," that "man's very reason for being is to know and witness the bliss of Love."
This is "the Science of happiness," he said, "the key to feeling the joy of God" – the happiness "already within you as the child of God." It "can never be taken from you," he declared.
Mr. Linnig is a member of the
Board of Lectureship of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in
Title of the lecture was "The Science of Happiness." A full text follows:
Real Joy Is
I wonder if childhood memories are as vivid in your thought as in mine. Some of you may remember the advertisement of a well-known food product. The ad appealed to potential customers with this punch line: "Eventually, why not now?"
We can apply this slogan to our topic today. We all want to be happy. Why wait? Even the word happiness touches the hearts of all who hear it. There's a good reason for this. Happiness is the natural state of man – man made in the image and likeness of God. In fact, true happiness is that spiritual state which is completely at one with God.
One of the cherished statements in the American Declaration of Independence is that the pursuit of happiness is a right with which God has endowed men. Actually the only pursuit involved is finding out that in our true selfhood, happiness isn't something we get – it's something we already have. This statement may surprise you, but it's completely provable. Happiness isn't a material sense of pleasure. It's a spiritual sense of joy – the fruit of obedience and conformity to God's will. It is a present and eternal fact of our real being because it is bestowed by God, man's source. We find this to be true when we're obedient to this source of all good, this one cause, God. So happiness isn't something to be attained eventually. It is ours to be enjoyed right now.
If this is the case why do so many people seem to be unhappy? The lot of men has improved so much in the past few decades you would expect the search for happiness to be successful. Yet comparatively few find a satisfying life. Why?
Doesn't the failure lie in seeking happiness from a wrong basis? We're inclined to think we're dependent on matter and its conditions for our needs and wants instead of on God, Spirit. We expect things to make us glad. We depend on relationships and actions of people, what they do or what they don't do. Yet actually neither a thing, a place, nor a person can either give or take away real joy. Christ Jesus stressed this when he said: "Your joy no man taketh from you" (John ). And since God is the source of joy, we can say also. Your joy no man gives to you.
Material Pleasures Deceive
We must eventually live according to the premise this implies. God is the creator of man, the creator of all that exists. As creator He is the source of all our good. Since God is Spirit, and is the source of man's happiness, happiness is spiritual. So humanly the search for it in matter or in a material sense of things puts us at odds with God and with our own native spiritual sense. We're deceived into believing that we're happy when we're not.
For instance, some people seek to be happy through the degrading pleasures of the five material senses. By degrading pleasures I mean any of the unwholesome appetites and addictions which make slaves of men and rob them of their natural dignity, their Godlikeness. Others seek to be happy through a morality which finds pleasure in wholesome and unselfish pursuits. This moral state is a long step away from the pursuit of evil. But we should not stop there. If we do we have stopped short of true joy, because happiness is both moral and spiritual. It includes morality, yet is that wholly spiritual state which is completely at one with God.
Anything else which is called happiness is temporary because it has no foundation in God. A structure without a foundation collapses. The sooner the structure of false pleasures falls, the sooner we are compelled to seek the higher pleasures which God gives. Such a change, while it may seem afflictive, is all to the good, because through it we find the lasting basis for joy – that is, spiritual mindedness.
Actually in our real spiritual selfhood, we can never be unhappy. Remember, true happiness isn't something we get. It's something we already have, and each of us must learn this for himself. There's a Science to discovering the happiness we already possess, and it is Christian.
We must come to understand the true source of happiness, and that unhappiness really has no source – it's illegitimate, a myth. Then unhappiness is really a deception. So to be truly happy we must refuse to be deceived and live accordingly.
God Blesses His Creation
What is the source of real joy –
the joy that is purely spiritual without one tinge of false, material pleasure? What is that state of
bliss which is the true condition of man as God's image and likeness?
The record of spiritual creation in the first chapter of Genesis confirms this, for it says that God created man in his own image, and continues, "And God blessed them" (Gen. 1:28). Think of it! "God blessed them." The verb "blessed" in this text means to confer bliss, to make supremely happy. God created a happy man and nothing less! Man expresses the fullness of God's nature. This is the substance of his happiness. All the good that exists is in God, and flows from God to man. All the joy man has comes from God. All the gladness God imparts is permanent and spiritual.
God's nature is no longer a mystery. Through scientific Christianity God is knowable as the giver of all good. His nature as it relates to happiness is that He is Soul, or Mind. Just as the sun expresses brightness and warmth in its rays, in the same way Soul expresses radiance and joy in man.
One aspect of God's supreme bliss is His nature as Father-Mother. A spring bubbles cool water tirelessly. Just so God, our Father-Mother, delights in imparting good to His children. How natural for Love, the Mother of all, to do this.
Because joy is inherent in ideas, God as divine Mind helps us to understand the nature of happiness. Mind creates spiritual ideas. As the idea, or expression of Mind, man includes joy just as he includes beauty and all good qualities. Yes! the real man of God's creating is eternally joyous. This real man is your true being and mine.
Absolute happiness in man is the delight he knows as God's expression. The Psalmist's words (Ps. 40:8), "I delight to do thy will, O my God," means that man's action conforms to the good that is God. He is the witness of good in all he does. This conformity of man with God isn't chance. Man's very reason for being is to know and witness the bliss of Love. This is a divinely mental state, a state of spiritual mindedness. So actually your joy is spiritual. It can never be taken from you. It is always demonstrable. This is the Science of happiness.
Now Christ Jesus knew this, and what better example of scientific joy do we have than the life of our Master, and this in spite of the trials he faced? Perhaps the bitterest of the Master's trials, even beyond the ordeal of the crucifixion, was the world's hatred and rejection of the Truth he taught. Yet he never lost his conviction of the final triumph of Truth. This conviction, coupled with obedience to God at every point, lightened the burden of his tremendous lifework and gave the Saviour an abiding sense of true happiness. What trial could overshadow the joy he knew in this – he was showing to all men for all time the way of salvation? Because he trusted in God and obeyed God, his joy was enduring. He proved the truth of his own words, "Your joy no man taketh from you."
Jesus Showed the Way for Everyone
What delight must have been his in understanding God, and knowing man as the son of God. The Master's absolute conviction of God's power, His presence, His unchanging Love, saved him from belief in sorrow and grief. His life conformed completely to the Christ, Truth, the true understanding of God and the universe, including man.
From this radiant summit of his Christly understanding, Jesus rejected the false view of man presented by the physical senses. To him a material mortal wasn't the creation of God, but a distorted, deceptive view of man. He saw that the discords of this outlook – the sorrows and sufferings, the poverty and sin, aren't real. Jesus saw that all such mistaken concepts are subject to correction through the Christ, Truth, which reveals God's true creation. He saw that troubles are unreal, that they are errors, or mental mistakes. These must be replaced by the opposite and true ideas of God, divine Mind, the one cause.
This Christly understanding gave the Saviour power to deal effectively with the problems of human existence through scientific prayer. His works show the effect of the application of Christ, Truth.
He exemplified in his spiritual mindedness the truly happy state of man. The ideas or spiritual thoughts which God gave him enabled him to save men from their troubles, both sickness and sin. Through this same Christ, or saving Truth, we're able to solve our problems.
It was Jesus' Christlike thinking, his scientific prayer, which made him the Wayshower. He showed the way for us to be saved, to be good, to be healthy, to be happy. He showed that to delight in doing God's will is to experience true joy. How natural that he should say, from the basis of his own complete obedience, "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them" (John ).
There can be no doubt that Christ Jesus, the most joyous of all men, prayed without ceasing. Nor is there any other way to discover the happiness already within you as the child of God. It is through the prayer of spiritual understanding that we come to know God, Spirit, as the source of all good, that we come to see ourselves as His reflection. Such prayer includes the joyous striving to bring every thought into obedience to the divine will. It is this active Christlike thinking which leads to complete faith in good alone.
Prayer Is an Attitude
Prayer is never in words, though it can find expression in words. It is more an attitude than a statement. This spiritual attitude knows good alone to be real and so disposes of the belief in evil, that is, the temptation to believe that evil is real. It was such prayer that enabled Jesus to overcome temptation. Mrs. Eddy says in regard to the attitude of students of Christian Science toward temptation: "The best lesson of their lives is gained by crossing swords with temptation, with fear and the besetments of evil; insomuch as they thereby have tried their strength and proven it" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 10).
Let me tell you my experience in crossing swords with a temptation to believe sickness is real. As a student in the Christian Science Sunday School I had been taught that sickness isn't what it appears to be. It isn't physical, but a state of false belief. Yet when severe symptoms of disease appeared in my body, I was afraid. Although I resisted the fear I didn't overcome it. So I called a Christian Science practitioner to help me through prayer. In spite of our combined efforts, I barely held my own. It was all I could do to continue at work, but I didn't get discouraged. After months of what seemed to be useless effort, I came across this statement in Mrs. Eddy's autobiography, "Retrospection and Introspection" (p. 31), "The first spontaneous motion of Truth and Love, acting through Christian Science on my roused consciousness, banished at once and forever the fundamental error of faith in things material; for this trust is the unseen sin, the unknown foe, – the heart's untamed desire which breaketh the divine commandments."
Now I had read this sentence before, but this time it had a fresh meaning. Christian Science had taught me that God is Life, and that man lives in God. Yet when I became sick I was tempted to believe that the physical body sustained my life, that matter could give life and take it away. This blinded me to my faith in God, to my natural happy state of spiritual mindedness. The temptation was the deception of mortal mind, "the fundamental error of faith in things material." It was this fundamental error, this fear of the body and dependence on it, which made me sick.
Bible Says 'Be Not Afraid'
When I saw this I reached a turning point. I prayed to shut out the fear with trust in God, with a conviction that right then I lived in God as a perfect spiritual being. As I responded in this way to the practitioner's help, within a few days all symptoms disappeared. I regained my strength and normal weight quickly. You can appreciate how glad I was to have crossed swords with temptation and won a victory.
This experience shows how faith in a material sense of body deceived me until Science corrected the mistake. Faith in matter in any form is deceptive because the source of all good is Spirit, God. The five material senses falsely claim to be the source of good. They present a misconception of God. In fact, if we allow it, they even claim to take the place of God. They say the source of happiness is matter. This leads to the belief that happiness depends on matter. The senses say we need certain material comforts or things to satisfy us, or that we need to be in a certain place, or that we need a certain person to bring us joy. All such beliefs – that our well-being, our satisfaction, our joy, depend on matter – produce fear. And who can be happy when he is afraid? Who can rejoice when he is doubting the existence of God, doubting Love's care for His children? No wonder the Bible calls for the overcoming of fear in such words as "be not afraid" (Mark ).
Now the material senses appear to be five, but they are actually one. They are subdivisions of that negative sense which insists that matter exists, that matter is substance, and that it can feel pleasure and pain. This deception is one, whether it testifies through hearing, feeling, sight, taste, or smell. In Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy groups these senses under the term "mortal mind." The word "mortal" defines the temporary, self-destroying nature of material mindedness and all its deceptions. God is Mind, the one divine Mind, and He is immortal.
'It Is the Spirit That Quickeneth'
Mortal mind would fool us regarding happiness. It can offer only counterfeits. Since it has no real existence its sensations are illusions. It would substitute these in our thoughts and experience for the spiritual satisfactions which God gives. So in order to be happy, we must accept the fact that these senses aren't true and find in place of them man's native spiritual sense.
Mortal mind would fool us regarding man. It says he is material, that his life is in a physical organization. Christ Jesus rejected this deception. He said: "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing" (John 6:63). A modern translation reads, "What gives life is the Spirit; flesh is of no avail at all" (Moffatt). All beliefs which arise from the claim that life is in matter are foes to our happiness. They must be so regarded, and so discarded, if we're to live in that spiritual mindedness which is real joy. Unhappiness is material mindedness, or a material sense of things. It is a selfish state which loses sight of God. The supposed happiness of the material senses is just the opposite of what it seems to be; it is a lack of happiness, a nothing claiming to be something.
It would seem logical that the wide publicity given to the harmful effects of evil thoughts and bad habits on the human body would encourage men to abstain from evil. But this isn't the case. This shows that there is a need for a true incentive to move the sons of men to seek satisfaction on a basis higher than that of mortal mind. In "Miscellaneous Writings" Mrs. Eddy throws light on this question. She asks (p. 279); "Why does not the certainty of individual punishment for sin prevent the wrong action?" And she answers: "It is the love of God and not the fear of evil, that is the incentive in Science."
It's true that the spiritual light which the study of Christian Science sparks in our hearts awakens such a love for God, that to know and obey Him becomes our number one endeavor. Then we see that the lying material senses and their evil tendencies are foreign to us. Fleshly attractions and addictions lose their false appeal, and in their place is born man's natural gravitation to his divine source, God. This move toward good initiates and hastens the departure from evil. And it does this from a right basis. Fear of being punished isn't a true incentive. If we love good supremely, we just naturally abandon evil. And God demands this. The rate of our progress depends on how consistent our efforts are to conform to His demands. Eventually we all must leave mortal mind and its deceptions to find spiritual joy. Why not now?
Mrs. Eddy emphasizes the need for this change in these words (ibid. p. 86); "What mortals hear, see, feel, taste, smell, constitutes their present earth and heaven: but we must grow out of even this pleasing thraldom, and find wings to reach the glory of supersensible Life." Later she continues (p. 87): "Matter is a frail conception of mortal mind; and mortal mind is a poorer representative of the beauty, grandeur, and glory of the immortal Mind."
Jesus didn't say, "Happy you will be." He said, "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them," indicating that happiness is a present spiritual state dependent solely on our obedience to God. So you and I are always at the point of decision, crossing swords with every fleshly tendency, either painful or pleasurable.
Obedience means to love Spirit wholly and so to cling to every right idea, every spiritual motive, and reject every evil thought and motive. This is repentance, or change of thought from the material to the spiritual. Repentance is the first step toward "bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (II Cor. 10:5).
Unselfed Love Required
Since disobedience begins with a mental mistake, obedience requires persistent guard over our thoughts and motives. It is a turning away from material sense to our native spiritual sense. This helps us to realize that Spirit is substance and that man is spiritual. Obedience means letting go of all that would interfere with spiritual mindedness, that would turn us away from God. We do this, we obey God, through unselfed love.
The qualities of obedience and unselfed love were expressed in full measure by Mary Baker Eddy. From girlhood she was an ardent student of the Bible. Following an accident which her friends expected to be fatal, it was natural for Mrs. Eddy to turn to the Bible for help. She glimpsed in that moment that God's law heals. This glimpse of Truth healed Mrs. Eddy instantly.
She then set out to define to her own thought the Science of this law which had been revealed to her. She did this through an exhaustive study of the Bible. But she studied from a new standpoint. She knew she must find the original spiritual meaning of the inspired Word. With thought turned to God, she drank in all the Father revealed to her and recorded the revelation in Science and Health. Following this she established the Christian Science church with all its far-reaching activities.
Here was a woman who dared to state the truth which challenges the accredited beliefs of both popular theology and popular medicine. The problems she faced and the persecutions she withstood in fulfilling her mission are beyond our full appreciation. Her unselfish desire to share her discovery, and the fact that she acted under God's direction, gave her a joy so based on unselfed love that nothing could shake it.
She writes of her experience: "I saw before me the awful conflict, the Red Sea and the wilderness; but I pressed on through faith in God, trusting Truth, the strong deliverer, to guide me into the land of Christian Science, where fetters fall and the rights of man are fully known and acknowledged" (Science and Health, p. 225). Hers was a rugged happiness which could sing through dark days. The radiant joy of unselfed love thrived in Mrs. Eddy under adversities which would make the bravest heart flinch. The benediction voiced by Christ Jesus falls on her life with full meaning: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant" (Matt. 25:21). Hers was a complete, self-sacrificing obedience to God.
Evil Must Be Faced and Overcome
Obedience is the key to feeling the joy of God. The truth that man is happy now appears increasingly in our human experience in the degree we obey God. Obedience is essential to the demonstration of happiness.
If we want to know the bliss of obedience we must turn to spiritual truths. Our study of these in the Scriptures and in Science and Health and the other writings of Mrs. Eddy strengthens our desire to do God's will. Through such study we become conversant with God's demands, and seek to live them. We are at the point of choosing between good and evil every moment – to obey God, to be spiritually minded, or to accept the deceptions of mortal mind as real. The Christian Scientist isn't surprised when he is tempted to think or act evilly. He isn't dismayed that the lying material senses present their suggestions as if they were his own thoughts, because he knows how to distinguish suggestion from spiritual idea, evil from good, and the illusion from the real. This enables him to correct mental mistakes, or better still to refuse them a place in his consciousness.
It is of secondary importance
whether or not we are tempted. It is of prime importance that we detect
temptation. And it is of utmost importance how we respond to temptation. We can
never work out our salvation, nor realize man's native bliss by ignoring evil.
Science doesn't teach us to ignore evil. The philosophy expressed in the image
of the three monkeys, "Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil," is
neither Christianity nor Science. In our Master's life, the wilderness
experience, the struggle at
This was the experience of a young man I know who found himself addicted to abnormal practices. The temptation seemed irresistible. But the guilt he suffered forced him to seek a way of overcoming the evil.
He knew of Christian Science. In fact, it had healed him physically more than once. So it was natural for him to turn to the Bible and Science and Health to help himself. And he found in the spiritual meaning of these books the assurance that God created man good, not evil, and that real satisfaction can't be found in doing evil things.
When he saw that he wasn't
progressing through his own efforts he turned to an older friend of his who was
a Christian Scientist. She pointed out
many passages in the Bible which deal with immorality. One of these
After some discussion, his friend said, "You should ask yourself these questions: Do I really want to serve my creator rather than the creature? Do I really want to stop sinning?" Apparently he answered these questions rightly, because he persisted in holding to what he understood to be his real, spiritual self as God's son. He began to see that satisfaction is found only in obeying God. His efforts brought gradual but certain reformation. He saw that morality is the first step out of evil and leads to the next step, the progressive recognition of spiritual real being. The completeness of his reformation is shown in the fact that today this man is married, has a family, a happy home life, and is a serious student of Christian Science, active in a branch church.
Eventually Joy – Why Not Now?
Doesn't this illustrate that even the more depraved counterfeits of satisfaction can be mastered through accepting and living the Science of true happiness? The line must be drawn between morality, the normal and wholesome in human conduct, and immorality, or the abnormal and unwholesome. Lying material sense, the deceiver, clouds the issues of morality and insists that there is really no difference. But the commandment, "Thou shalt not commit adultery" (Ex. ), has its literal meaning. It forbids violation of the marriage covenant directly, and should be seen to forbid all that is unwholesome and abnormal in the relations of the sexes.
As we have seen, in healing both sickness and sin, Christian Science meets the need scientifically. It shows how to dispel mental mistakes through prayer and to replace them by accepting the spiritual ideas which flow to man from divine Mind. It shows us how to repent of the belief that man lives in a material body. It shows us how to repent of the belief that matter can suffer or enjoy. And it reveals a delight in spiritually wholesome pursuits which excludes sinful desires and practices.
Why is the belief so persistent among us that sickness is a physical condition? Why is the belief so persistent that man is a sinner? Sickness is not inevitable. Sin is not irresistible. Both sin and sickness are foreign to the real man. As we accept the Science of happiness we know the thrill of yielding to God's healing power. Then comes the conviction that victory over evil is sure, because we know how to cross swords with temptation. And we know how to win. We're joyous even in the midst of problems. Such scientific happiness is buoyant, enduring, real. We must know such happiness to be ours eventually. Why not now?
I sat one evening in a park in my home city, enjoying a symphony concert under the stars. The conductor had chosen as the main offering the D Minor Symphony of Cesar Franck. The sad theme of the second movement spun out into the night air. The minor mood of the music blended with the dark of the night. As the theme unfolded it came to a climax. Louder and louder sounded the orchestra, as if it were a mammoth organ. Then in a tremendous burst, the somber melody lifted out of the minor key and into the bright and joyous major. It was as if all the darkness in music, and in night, was dissolved, and in its place was light.
This experience is to me a symbol of the change which takes place when we see that pursuing happiness through the five material senses is a mistake. The minor modes of a matter mind are dark and selfish. The material senses cannot be a source of true happiness. There is no joy to be found in deceiving one's self.
When we know this, the key changes. The search for happiness turns to the one source, turns from material to spiritual, from deception to Truth, from mortal mind to divine Mind, including perfect, happy man. This oneness of God and man, of Mind and idea, is the basis of all joy. So our effort is to attain this reality of being. The change is not made in a moment. It is a progression, a moving forward by the constant effort to conform to God's demands. This requires sacrifice of material self. Any error, any mental mistake, must be dropped if the progression is to proceed and succeed.
To attune thought to the major key of Spirit is to find that happiness is at hand. It is to know man, your real self. To know God and man is to leave the minor modes of matter. To know God and to do His will is to play variations on the major theme of unselfed love. It is to swell a crescendo in the harmony of being. It is to be the happy son of Soul! Yes, Christ Jesus has promised: "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."
[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, October 21, 1964.]