Christian Science: The Conquest of Fear
George Nay, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Walking in the park one day I came upon an unusual sight: a bird hanging on a bush with wings open, seemingly lifeless. I stepped a little closer and saw that he was alive, but the tip of one wing had caught on a twig, and there he hung, motionless, paralyzed with fear. I clapped my hands, where upon he jerked himself free and flew away. Nothing had held him but a feather! He was unhurt, fully able all the time to free himself, but under the mesmerism of fear he had become unresisting, he had given up.
Few people would question the statement that one of the great handicaps each individual must face at one time or another is fear of some sort, and that therefore the conquest over fear is one of the most far-reaching attainments one can achieve for himself. While some may believe that fear is at times justified, all will agree that fear is never right and that the conquest over it is always right, is indeed essential to a happy, successful, and healthy life.
Conquest over Fear is a Religious Process
Since fear is mental, it must be met in the mental realm, and since it is a response to a threat, which is in some way always connected with matter, it is materially mental. As fear is subject to dismissal - which is its destruction - it is a passing or mortally mental phenomenon; therefore it can be met only by means that are themselves immortal or spiritually mental, hence superior to it. The realm of the immortal is the realm of permanent, unchanging good, unassailable, ever available. It is the realm of Truth with its absolute law of harmony, order, and safe abiding. It is the spiritually or divinely mental realm of God. Logically, then, the conquest over fear is based on the scientific understanding of God and His law; it is therefore not a psychological, not a philosophical, nor a medical, but a religious process.
David's method of dealing with the
threat of Goliath was primarily a religious one. Goliath hoped to defeat the
Israelites - even before the battle was joined - by inducing fear in their
hearts, fear of size, muscles, weapons, fear of matter. He would have succeeded had David's response to the
threat been one of fear, had he countered the threats of matter merely with the
arguments of matter - with boasting of a sharper sword perhaps, or of his greater
skill with the shield than his adversary's with the spear. But David had
something loftier to animate him than mere reliance on matter. Through divine
inspiration and past encounters with evil's intimidations he knew that these
can never give battle to Spirit and win. And so he declared with power:
"Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but
I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of
Christian Science is defined, by its Discoverer, Mary Baker Eddy, "As the law of God, the law of good, interpreting and demonstrating the divine Principle and rule of universal harmony" (Rudimental Divine Science, p. 1). As through Christian Science we come to understand this law of God; and learn to abide by it, we recognize the existence of the universal divine harmony in which we live and work and prosper without risk and without fear, unhindered by ill-health, personal discords, lack of capacity or lack of opportunity; and thus we can experience the fulfillment of our high hopes and noblest ambitions.
The One Primal Cause Holds No Threat or Fear
We said a moment ago that fear is always a response to a threat. Christian Science shows us the unreality of that which makes the threat, and its powerlessness to carry it out. Christian Science does this not from any emotional or humanly mental standpoint, like the ways and means of psychology, man-made philosophy, or as mere optimism, but from the basis of absolute truth which being scientific, is practical and effective. For if the threat is found to be empty, fear of it will naturally vanish.
That which threatens is evil, and matter is both the tool and the object of its threat. To destroy fear, it is necessary to find evil unreal. Obviously, this cannot be done through any physical or humanly mental means, through thinking based on material sense testimony, for these are the very means, the very senses which suggest the reality of evil. The unreality of evil can be recognized only through spiritually right thinking which is independent of physical sense testimony, through spiritual reasoning, for it is through spiritual sense, the sense of intelligence, that we are aware of spiritual good and understand its reality. Now it is self-evident that there cannot be two kinds of reality, one good, one bad, for that would imply two kinds of truth as the effects of two primal causes, one good, one bad. Because an evil primal cause would not seek to create but to destroy, it would naturally first destroy itself and so cease to be. Therefore an evil primal cause is an impossibility.
The nature of the creator, or primal cause, cannot be destructive; it is constructive and loving. Therefore, primal cause must be divine Love itself, the creative intelligence or divine Mind, universal and eternal. "There is but one primal cause," declares Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, in the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." "Therefore there can be no effect from any other cause, and there can be no reality in aught which does not proceed from this great and only cause" (p. 207). This one primal cause is God, or good, and the outcome of His creative activity is the only real effect, and is necessarily as good. God and His infinite creation constitute the realm of reality. Therefore all that is real is spiritual and wholly good. Reality, that which we actually face every moment, holds no threat but offers the divine promise of good eternally fulfilled. Reality is without an opposite, therefore that which threatens is only a seeming or supposititious reality; it exists only as a false claim, as an illusion.
Fear and Suffering Parts of Sense Illusion
Even though evil is unreal, if we are ignorant of its unreality we may still be afraid of its threats, but this fear is needless because actually causeless, and the suffering it brings is a delusion, a waking dream, simply the result of false belief. To awaken from the delusion is to be healed both of the fear and the suffering which take place in the waking dream wherein the unreal seems real to us. Webster defines dream as "a state of mind marked by confusion of the sense of reality," and also as "any experience of waking life having the characteristic's of a dream." The suffering, in case of illness for instance, may appear in the waking dream as physical, yet the awakening which is spiritually mental stops the suffering. This shows that the suffering, too, was mental - materially mental. This points to the connection between fear and suffering, and explains the reason for Mrs. Eddy's instruction in Science and Health that Christian Science treatment should always begin with the allaying of fear. She definitely states out of her own rich experience that if we succeed in wholly removing the fear, the suffering will disappear. Similarly, can we not say that the removal of fear of danger, accident, loss, disease, condemnation, frustration will mean the disappearance of these false beliefs and their outward effects from the experience of the individual?
A man I know was going through a serious problem of human relationships. He had been under attack for quite some time by the very ones who should have known of his integrity. Misunderstanding of his motives, false accusations, innuendoes, and gossip were gradually turning his friends against him. The nature of the situation was such that he felt he could not rise in his own defense, and his friends seemed afraid to do it for him. The fear that his future was ruined had come to plague him and was manifesting itself in a physical difficulty that seemed greatly to handicap him. His face became drawn, his shoulders stooped, his steps heavy. Then, one day, as he was thinking about the problem, he suddenly became aware of God's words, as distinctly as if a voice had spoken them to him, words heard when Jesus came out of the waters of Jordan after his baptism by John: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:17).
The effect of his spiritual experience was instantaneous; it dispelled every trace of depression and fear. He realized in that moment, that in spite of all the insistent suggestions of personal sense, God knew him as His own child, and that God, his Father and only judge, was pleased with him. His head lifted, his shoulders squared away, an uplifting joy filled his consciousness - the first he had known for months - and the evil dream was gone. He walked on with a light step, like one who had never known the burden of hate and injustice. The physical difficulty left him that very day, and shortly afterward the whole situation was healed. He received complete justification without lifting a hand to bring it about. None of his fears ever came to pass.
Because it was the coming of God's holy inspiration that freed him of fear and despair, this man's healing was a religious experience.
The antidote for fear, then, is not physical courage but spiritual understanding. Physical courage is based on physical force, on matter, and requires material organization to support it.
Moral courage is not tied to any material support but to the convictions of a moral sense, an awareness of Principle. It implies the love of high ideals and a willingness to serve them, and so indicates a degree of spiritual development. It is capable of great accomplishment in the service of a righteous cause.
The story is told of two soldiers who were advancing through the woods in danger of being attacked at close range. One was a big, powerful man, without any sense of fear; the other a slight figure. Looking down at the little man and seeing the drawn expression on his face, the big man exclaimed, "Why, you are afraid!" "Yes,'' replied the other, "and if you were half as afraid as I am, you would have run long ago!'' Thus moral courage sustains even in the face of physical fear and enables one to go forward.
The highest form of courage is purely spiritual. It comes with the scientific understanding of the omnipotent power of Love, the divine Principle, present and active right where we are, and is confidence in the victory of Truth and the invulnerability of God's man. Because it is the effect of conscious communion with God, spiritual courage is inseparable from faith and knows no defeat. It is also inseparable from unebbing strength and resourcefulness. Jesus showed this courage before Pilate when his calm, self-possessed silence provoked the threat from the Roman: "Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?" Jesus' reply was: "Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above" (John ,11).
Spiritual courage is calm and unaggressive but undeviating. In the degree we express it, we fear no failure or frustration, no threat of disease, know no unrewarded service. It succeeds where material reliances fail.
Broadly speaking, all fear stems from the belief that good is material and therefore limited in quality or quantity. Fear is therefore an unconscious denial of the purely spiritual, unlimited nature of good. This is the material, limited sense of good, of man, his life, his success in life, his health, intelligence, and happiness. The physical senses present a totally false picture in which there seems nothing more real than matter and a measure of evil, and nothing higher than the pretended satisfactions of matter, satisfactions that never satisfy. This sense picture tells us nothing of spiritual truth, spiritual qualities, laws, and power, of character, nobility, and selfless love. Therefore it is a deceiving presentation; it is the counterfeit of truth. This is the picture that includes limitation, risk, ill-health, and failure, both their threat and their fear. Mrs. Eddy writes, "Fear was the first manifestation of the error of material sense" (Science and Health, p. 532).
The sum total of material sense testimony, the deluded judgments, false conclusions and causeless fears it incites, in short, all thinking based upon this testimony and limited to it, Mrs. Eddy has named in Christian Science mortal mind. She called it mortal in order to make it entirely clear that its every thought is error, its every suffering needless, its every fear causeless because unjustified by truth. Mortal mind is therefore not really mind but a term denoting the seemingness or pretense of error to be truth or true thinking. This pretense is a claim, false in every respect, that would foist on us everything that is untrue and therefore harmful. When mortal mind is seen as totally false and as actively resisted on this basis, its false argument is silenced. There is no cause for fear outside of this dream realm of self-deceived and deceiving sense perceptions; therefore all fear is but part of that dream. True existence is reality and not a dream. Therefore true existence is wholly without fear.
Real Being Is Spiritual
What, then, is true existence or reality? Mrs. Eddy gives the answer in Science and Health: "All reality is in God and His creation, harmonious and eternal. That which He creates is good, and He makes all that is made. Therefore the only reality of sin, sickness, or death is the awful fact that unrealities seem real to human, erring belief, until God strips off their disguise. They are not true, because they are not of God" (p. 472).
This statement of absolute truth is in opposition to the theory of physical science which distinguishes two forms of reality: living things and inert stuff, but believes that matter is the substance of both. However, after centuries of investigation, the natural sciences have not been able to account for either the nature or the origin of matter with any degree of finality. Four hundred years before the Christian era Plato pointed to the need of searching for the nature of life rather than of matter when he said: "The true lover of knowledge is always striving after BEIING . . . He will not rest at those multitudinous phenomena whose existence is appearance only." Similarly, Leibnitz, the great mathematician, declared toward the end of the seventeenth century that the qualities of matter are but "apparent" and have no reality independent of the senses. But neither he nor any other natural scientist, before or since, came any closer to the truth about matter, and certainly no closer to the understanding of life. That task remained for Mary Baker Eddy to fulfill, and she did it completely, not through mathematics, abstract philosophy, or any human knowledge, but through spiritual revelation. She gave us the Science of being, the truth about the nature and origin of life.
Is matter unreal, then? If all of matter's qualities are but apparent and not inherent, not actually physical but materially mental, having no reality apart from the realm of the material senses, then all materiality exists only as a sense impression, an illusion, not as true substance but as a seemingness presenting the counterfeit of truth. That which is real cannot possibly be lifeless or mindless, for it is the very manifestation of creative intelligence called Mind or God. Therefore actually to be is to manifest intelligence; to be is to live, for Mind, God, is Life. "Life is Mind, the creator reflected in His creations," to use Mrs. Eddy's words in Science and Health (p. 331). God is the infinite source or divine Principle of all reality. As origin, Principle determines the nature of all that emanates from it, therefore it is fundamental governing power. And since divine Principle is absolute, that is, dependent upon nothing but itself, it is unchangingly and unchangeably good. Because God's creation is God's reflection, divine Principle through His unchanging nature eternally safeguards and maintains the harmony, order, goodness, and completeness of His creation. Therefore divine Principle is divine Love, and real being is spiritual and eternal.
The real man, who is the idea of God, or Mind, is not a material but an intelligent spiritual being, an individual consciousness living in the realm of Mind and is loving and lovable of nature. He possesses, by reflection, the qualities and capacities of God, and is constantly engaged in expressing them. He is as immortal and in every way as harmonious as the Mind which protects and upholds him. Man lives without risk or danger to his life, to his health, his business, his happiness and complete success. And since as the reflection of Mind he knows all this, he is never afraid.
True being and its action can never be stopped or even touched by fear. It goes on in eternal continuity, independent of aught save God, infinite good. It knows no vulnerable childhood, no troublesome adolescence, no feeble old age, no poverty or weakness, no danger, no frustration; it is without threat and without fear. The real man - God's man - is under the sole jurisdiction of the law of God, all-knowing, all-acting, all-protecting, all-sustaining divine Love, the Life, the Soul of all. Mrs. Eddy sums it up in these words: "The divine Mind that made man maintains His own image and likeness. . . All that really exists is the divine Mind and its idea, and in this Mind the entire being is found harmonious and eternal" (ibid., p. 151). Where, then, is there occasion for fear?
Mrs. Eddy's Discovery a Revelation
The discovery of this truth of being did not come to Mary Baker Eddy in a moment; it unfolded to her gradually during the years of her inspired search for it, which followed her startling, instantaneous recovery from a serious physical injury. This quick healing occurred when, reading her Bible, the spiritual law of Jesus' marvelous healing works became suddenly clear to her. She became convinced that, obscured by centuries of dogma and misinterpretation, the Bible did contain man's instinctive recognition of the true nature of divinity. Each step in this unfoldment was beyond human calculation; it had to be a spiritual revelation, God's revelation of His own nature to Mrs. Eddy's receptive consciousness.
This revelation, or message coming from God and bringing the true idea of God and man to the human consciousness, Mrs. Eddy recognized as the Christ. The perfection of being, beauty of character, and dominion through good which the Christ includes, was best expressed by the man Jesus, the master Christian. The Christ was the divine nature of Jesus, and so it became his divine title. To teach it to humanity through precept and proof, and through the inspiration of his marvelous goodness and wisdom, was his life purpose. The function of the Christ was, is, and always will be to redeem the human family from the causeless fears, self-imposed sufferings, sins, cruelties, and misfortune included in the mistaken, material sense of God and man, to open before mankind the infinite possibilities of good prepared for us all by divine Love. Therefore the Christ, understood and admitted into our consciousness, nullifies there all that is unlike God. It is the Christ that heals, restores, regenerates, and brings salvation - here and now.
Mrs. Eddy, Founder, Leader
This Christ, or Truth, coming to Mrs. Eddy's uplifted thought in response to her fervent, importunate prayer, impelled her to accept for herself, gladly and spontaneously, more and more of the qualities of all-intelligent, divine Love, as these qualities unfolded before her. She writes: "The Divine Being must be reflected by man, - else man is not the image and likeness of the patient, tender, and true, 'the One altogether lovely;' but to understand God is the work of eternity, and demands absolute consecration of thought, energy, and desire" (ibid., p. 3). It was due to her deep consecration to the "One altogether lovely," that she reached the depth and beauty of character, never-failing love, dauntless spiritual courage, inspired foresight and wisdom for which she is so deeply honored and loved, and which, in turn, enabled her to attain the full understanding of God and a spiritual power to heal unprecedented since Bible times. These were the qualities, the spirituality, that made her the author of the Christian Science textbook, Founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist, and through the continued teaching of her books and her uplifting example the Leader and inspiration of the Christian Science movement. It is not a sinecure but a Christly responsibility to be a follower of Mary Baker Eddy. It is also a deep and satisfying joy.
Throughout the centuries, theological dogma had created a fear of a harsh and merciless God, and this fear oppressed, intimidated, and pursued mortal man and was the profuse breeder of the diseases of hopelessness and the sins of desperation.
Even as a child, Mrs. Eddy showed signs of the true scientist by her unwillingness, and indeed her inability, to accept theological dogma. Her natural love for God and deep conviction of His goodness, as well as her gentle, affectionate, spiritual nature, together with an unusual capacity for logical thinking, caused her to question the dogmatic teachings of her day, as for instance the compatibility of God and evil, God either standing helpless before evil or sharing His power with it, and even sending it as a means of punishment or reformation. It is characteristic of Mrs. Eddy that her first protest against these teachings was at the age of twelve, at the time of her admission into the Orthodox Church. Later, this independence of thought, matured and instructed by spiritual understanding, enabled her to reject the physical dogma of the reality of matter together with the dogmatic beliefs of materia medica which are its direct outgrowths.
All the so-called common sense of her day argued against this rejection, but she knew that this so-called sense was nothing more than a false sense of things commonly entertained which in turn was producing the common human experience - common to those who shared in the sense. She knew, too, that the only thing that is truly common, or universal, is truth itself, and since truth is independent of general notions, prejudices, and stubborn beliefs, she would have to carry on her search in the face of this general opposition. Almost sixty years later, Einstein said - not without humor that what appears like common sense to an individual is usually nothing more than a deposit of prejudices laid down in the mind prior to the age of eighteen. And so Mrs. Eddy, disregarding the common beliefs and prejudices of her day, went to the very source for the truth of being where, as her own healing had shown her, it has always been, to the Bible. After the discovery of Christian Science, her early doubts about the nature of evil as God-ordained blossomed into the full understanding of the complete goodness and allness of God and the consequent unreality of evil. And so she could write in her book, "Unity of Good" (p. 20); "Through these three statements, or misstatements, evil comes into authority: -
FIRST: The Lord created it.
SECOND: The Lord knows it.
THIRD: I am afraid of it.
By a reverse process of argument evil must be dethroned: -
FIRST: God never made evil.
SECOND: He knows it not.
THIRD: We therefore need not fear it."
The understanding of this fundamental truth of the allness of good and the unreality of all that is not compatible with the nature of God, dispels fear and heals disease.
Cerebral Hemorrhage Healed
Some time ago a young girl was found in an unconscious condition on the sands of a bathing beach. She was taken to a nearby hospital. When the parents, who were Christian Scientists, were finally located, they quickly called a Christian Science practitioner for help and hurried to the hospital. There they were told that their little daughter was suffering from cerebral hemorrhage and probably would not regain consciousness; that only a delicate operation held out the slightest ray of hope, and even if the child survived the operation, she would not regain a normal mentality and the use of her limbs. They were also advised that in her present condition she could not be moved without immediate risk to her life.
The practitioner saw that he had to nullify the fear of the parents for their child, as well as the fear of the physicians. He also had to consider the effect of the medical atmosphere, so unusual for that family, which tended to make the problem appear more real and their fears more justified.
The parents decided to trust their child completely to the ministrations of Christian Science, and from that time she received no medication of any sort. The young girl did not regain consciousness that night. The practitioner staunchly maintained the truth of Mrs. Eddy’s statements quoted a moment ago from "Unity of Good," which declare that because God never made evil, we need not fear it. He realized that since fear is but the outcome of the false conception of God and man, it is an illusion and has not the slightest power to change the eternal truth of man’s harmonious being nor affect his God-given ability to manifest the intelligence, strength, freedom, and conscious control bestowed on him by his Father-Mother God. He realized that since matter cannot perform the functions of divine Mind, it cannot obstruct their spontaneous expression by man, who as the reflection of Mind is the unchanging and unchangeable likeness of the Life which is Mind. He held firmly to this assurance in Science and Health: "Sickness, sin, and death must at length quail before the divine rights of intelligence, and then the power of Mind (with a capital M, meaning God) over the entire functions and organs of the human system will be acknowledged" (p. 384). He succeeded in achieving for the young girl the scientific sense of health Mrs. Eddy speaks of where she writes: "Establish the scientific sense of health, and you relieve the oppressed organ. The inflammation, decomposition, or deposit will abate, and the disabled organ will resume its healthy functions" (ibid., p. 373).
This was the prayer of spiritual understanding which is Christian Science treatment. Christian Science treatment is the clear realization and affirmation of God as the only creator, the only cause, the only power, and the manifestation of His love in happiness, health, mental and spiritual perfection, harmony, and safety as the only real effect. This prayer includes the denial, on this scientific basis, of the specific claims evil or mortal mind urges upon human thought through the material senses. These declarations and denials are made with the strength and joy of one's loyalty to the one God, and from the background of spiritual understanding and deep conviction of divine Love's never-failing power to express Himself through His idea, man. It is divine Love that heals, and the realization of His allness is not reached through human will, timid pleadings, or fear-inspired promises; it comes to the heart through patience, grace, and spiritual fortitude.
In spite of all predictions to the contrary, in about twenty-four hours the young girl regained consciousness, and to the astonishment of the hospital staff, showed some ability to move her arms and legs. The improvement was steady, and in just ten days the physicians agreed that at the responsibility of the parents she could be taken home. Christian Science treatment continued. She began to speak with some continuity of thought, and a greater sense of coordination became daily more evident. She was completely healed and grew up to be a beautiful young girl, graceful and capable, without a trace of the after effects predicted by the physicians.
The story has a sequel. Some time later the father gave a testimony of this beautiful healing in his branch church. As soon as he had finished, a woman in the congregation rose and stated that she was in position to verify the testimony just given for she had been a nurse in that hospital, had observed the case, and knew of the hopeless sense the medical people held about it. She knew, too, that the family were Christian Scientists. What she had seen of the case prompted her to turn to the study of Christian Science. There are some forms of fear not commonly recognized as such. Certainly there is no sharp dividing line between hatred and fear, for do we not hate what we fear, and fear what we hate? And is not the antithesis of hatred, love, the remedy for fear? "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear" (I John ).
Hurry is an expression of fear, fear that we have not time enough to complete a task. Christian Science teaches that there is no such thing as time in the realm of Spirit, the realm of absolute reality; that it is but a part of the fictitious realm of the material senses, a mere human concept, a form of limitation. Is it more time we need for a task or more spiritual capacity? As reflections of omniscient Mind, we can have all there is of spiritual capacity, and the prayer of spiritual understanding will enable us to demonstrate all we need for any task. For to coexist with God is to share His qualities, His power, His goodness, His ageless, incorporeal existence.
Overcoming Fear of Old Age
There is no closer relationship than that which exists between God and man. Reflecting divine Mind, we know Him as our Life, and know ourselves as existing in Him, in His presence which we can never leave and which can never leave us; expressing His nature from which we can never deviate, we are identified with Him as His beloved children, His faithful witnesses, always active, always effective, always successful. Our faculties and our functions cannot falter or fail. With listening ear and clear vision, with tender sympathy for mankind, with unyielding faith in the power of divine Love, with the simplicity of heart which characterizes the Christlike man, we can go forward in the demonstration of the eternal reality of good. Our shoulders do not droop when our head is held up with the conscious knowledge of our sonship with God and when our thoughts reach up to God and out to our brother. As we contemplate our spiritual origin and our mission as God's witnesses, we continue mighty in strength. As we steadfastly cultivate the listening ear, we quicken our hearing, as we look beyond the testimony of the material senses, the vision infinite becomes to us more clear and our eternal freedom is brought to light. Ageless man becomes to us a reality. And so does timeless Life, and timeless Life is expressed in fearless living.
To see life as Spirit, is to see Life as self-sustaining and eternal; to see it as divine Love, is to know it as wholly good, and unchangingly so, without threat and therefore without fear, for in the realm of Spirit there are no contrary elements, no threat of interference with the appearing in our lives of every proof of God's omnipotent love - and of nothing else. Dwelling in Mind, man reflects spiritual intelligence; therefore he never believes but knows. He is never in any illusion about evil but is conscious only of reality, of the sole power and presence of good. Man is never the captive of sense but is always the free expression of God's being, free of disease and the threat of it, free of sin and the temptation of it, free of failure and the condemnation of it, free of death and the fear of it. He is never threatened; therefore he is never afraid. He knows only the promise of good, and he lives in the assurance and joy of its present fulfillment.
This is the true existence and
experience of the reflection of
God; it can be, it is meant to be, our own experience
here and now. This is the age-old promise made by Micah to the children of
[Published in The Milwaukee County (Wisconsin) News, March 8, 1956.]