Adventure Into Inner Space

 

Jessica Pickett, C.S., of Chicago, Illinois

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts

 

Unlimited opportunities for purposeful living are available to all, a Christian Science lecturer told a large audience in Boston Friday noon.

Miss Jessica Pickett, C.S., of Chicago brought out that there is much more to life than a struggle for existence. Through individual spiritual awakening, she said, everyone can learn how to live in a really meaningful way.

"We're all capable," she said, "of doing more to demonstrate scientifically the power of Love to meet all human needs - yours, mine, our brothers'. It's the most practical way on earth of changing discord into harmony and the only way of transforming the struggle for existence into a life of divine adventure."

A member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship, Miss Pickett spoke in John Hancock Hall under the auspices of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts. The subject of her lecture was "Adventure Into Inner Space."

The First Reader of The Mother Church, William H. Waite, introduced the lecturer, who spoke substantially as follows:

 

‘What’s right with us?’

 You've all heard the expression "the struggle for existence." In this struggle all living organisms are believed to compete with one another to determine which shall prove itself fittest to survive.

Wouldn't it be a relief to learn that we can leave behind this concept of life as a struggle to survive? Well, we can, as I'm sure some of you have already found out.

It's a matter of being willing to pioneer in the adventure of spiritual exploration.

Of course, this is a time when marvelous pioneering is going on in the realm of outer space. But the kind of adventure I'm talking about is one in which we can all take part individually. It's the adventure into inner space! The exploration of what our life is all about.

A young advertising representative I know had met with continuing success for a number of years. One day he told me that he'd just been given another promotion. For the first time in his life he was afraid he wouldn't make good. He wondered what was happening to him and exclaimed to me, "Some of my friends feel the same way, and they're trying to find out what's wrong with them. But I don't want to find out what's wrong with me. I'd like to find out what's right with me."

Isn't this what we all want to find out - what's right with us? I know just how this young man felt. There was a period in my own life when I began to wonder if I ever would get anywhere. The struggle seemed so hopeless; my life, so meaningless. Then I began to explore this realm of inner space, life as it really is, and I learned some entirely new things about myself.

 

Discovering one’s inner self

Somewhat to my surprise, instead of a gloomy outlook, I began to expect good, to look for good everywhere all the time. I stopped outlining the exact way I thought things should go. And, in everything I did I began to rely more on what I was discovering of my inner self - on the new and true identity I was getting to know.

We all need to be assured of a real place and purpose of our own - one in which we don't struggle for existence but live life as the spiritual adventure it's meant to be.

Once you've started on this adventure, almost immediately you're past the point of no return. It's a one-way trip. And your ultimate goal - the full discovery and proving of your spiritual identity - continues to unfold day by day. This is the adventure into inner space and it's the most exciting one there could be.

Take this matter of expecting good, for example.

I like to think of expectancy of good as a strong favorable wind blowing us forward on a direct and desired course. Seriously, though, to expect good in this way isn't just a vague general optimism, hoping without any valid reason that things will turn out all right. Nor a determination we're going to get our own way. To expect good, as I mean it, is to trust good, understandingly. When we're willing to do this, when we're willing to trust good completely, whatever it brings, because we've glimpsed what it really is, we can expect only good to be the outcome of whatever we undertake. Why? Because good is what God really is: God is good and the source of all and every good. Only what comes from God is really good.

Christ Jesus knew God better than any had before him and he repeatedly brought good out of the most unpromising situations. He could do this because he knew as he said: "There is none good but one, that is, God" (Matthew 19:17). When we trust God, we can't help expecting good.

Jesus also taught that God is Spirit. So good that comes from God must be spiritual good. And it has all the qualities of Spirit, qualities such as joy and peace, patience and gentleness and temperance.

 

‘My presence shall go with thee’

The Bible has many stories of men and women who pioneered the inner space of Spirit. They succeeded, they found good, their characters were transformed, because they trusted God's promise: "My presence shall go with thee" (Exodus 33:14). What is this divine presence? It's the power of divine good, expected and experienced. Expectancy of spiritual good is the forerunner of success.

To succeed is the very nature of spiritual exploration. Succeed is an interesting word and has special meaning for this discussion of expectancy. By derivation, it implies a succession of actions taken until a goal is reached, one event succeeding another. In light of this, defeat doesn't loom up as a dreadful finality to stop our progress; it's scientifically dealt with as only a matter of unfinished business. We haven't gone far enough. There are more steps to take in the line of spiritual growth, and often a reappraisal of our goals, in order for us to get over some barrier to progress.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, defines the nature of such barriers in a statement in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "Science reveals the possibility of achieving all good, and sets mortals at work to discover what God has already done; but distrust of one's ability to gain the goodness desired and to bring out better and higher results, often hampers the trial of one's wings and ensures failure at the outset" (p. 260).

You know, even a baby faces life expecting good, and he really gets somewhere! I sometimes marvel that a baby ever learns to walk. It's such a struggle you might expect him to give up and crawl through life! But no, he's not concerned with the struggle. This is his first great adventure into outer space. He's found a wonderful new power, and he's using it!

The impelling power of good is always sufficient to meet our growing demands on it. Unleashed divine energies speed progress. More and more, expectancy of good becomes synonymous with the presence of good in our experience.

 

Scientific expectancy

No one ever expressed more of the power of scientific expectancy of good than Jesus did and with unfailing good results. He knew that God, divine good, expresses Himself through whoever submits to God's will. Jesus' utter surrender to the Divine released the full power of the healing and saving Christ in his experience.

I know of a man who was healed of the drug habit through discovering the Christ. He was later asked if it was willpower that had healed him. His reply makes an important point. "Oh, no," he answered, "not willpower. You see, I always had a will to break the habit. But it wasn't until I found the Christ that I received the power to do it."

Exercising this Christ-power, Jesus found nothing impossible. Through every evidence of defeat that obstructed his way he saw an unattained goal ahead, and he continued to move toward it with expectant trust in God. An outstanding example of this is his healing of Lazarus. Most of us are familiar with this Bible story (John 11).

You recall that Jesus received word that this dear friend of his was ill. It was two days before he started out to walk to the town where Lazarus lived. When he got there, Lazarus was already buried.

But, even in the face of death and the burial tomb, Jesus didn't give up. His certainty of the all-power of good didn't fluctuate with material conditions. He thanked God right then and there for His ever-present availability and goodness. Why, his expectancy of continuing life roused even the mourners from their grief, and they removed the stone from the door of Lazarus' tomb. Then Jesus, empowered by the Christ, his consciousness of the presence and power of God, with a single command brought Lazarus forth - alive and whole.

Isn't this kind of expectancy of good really prayer? With it, just as Jesus did, we're investing our confidence in God's infinite goodness, the source of all good. Our experience then comes under the government of the Christ, of Truth, and we can expect the outcome of events to be powerfully affected. We can expect happiness. We can expect health. We can expect accomplishment.

To side with God in expecting all good is to win. Why are those who trust in God, good, so sure of this? Because they're able to prove it every day according to the degree of their expression of spiritual qualities and their understanding of what they really spiritually are.

Before I seriously set out on this journey into inner space to discover myself, I used to dream a good deal about distant goals and how to achieve them. I'd make plan after plan, but there was something I had to learn about planning if I was to get anywhere.

I've always been grateful for some excellent advice given me by a friend who is a Christian Science practitioner. I was struggling with a hard problem. And I outlined exactly the way I thought it would have to work out for me. At this point my friend said, "Now, let's not outline. We don't know how to outline good enough." He didn't say "well enough." It was good enough - enough good! We expect so little when all good is ours to express.

When we outline precise ways and means, aren't we circumscribing or limiting the infinite possibilities for good that God has in store? That word "circumscribe" literally means "to draw a line around." By deciding what we believe to be the way good must come, we simply draw a tight line around our experience. We shut it off from the infinite plan of good for all men's happiness, health, and achievement; we don't know how to outline "good enough."

My friend must have had in mind Mrs. Eddy's great trust in God's disposal of events - and perhaps even these words of hers: "Instead of relying on the Principle of all that really exists, - to govern His own creation, - self-conceit, ignorance, and pride would regulate God's action" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 354).

There's no conflict, no misdirection, no accident, mistake, or failure in His plan.

The appearance of these conflicts, of misdirection, accidents, mistakes, and failure, stems from the mortal or carnal mind, a supposititious consciousness opposed to God, good. When we do our planning willfully and without regard to divine Principle and its laws, we subject ourselves to this mesmeric influence. What happens? Well, almost anything can happen, because we come under the belief of chance instead of divine direction. Confusion, uncertainty, poor judgment are the result.

 

‘I demand it my way’

When we understand that God regulates His creation on the basis of scientific certainty, we acknowledge Him to be divine Principle, originating and sustaining all true law. When we recognize that this divine Principle governs man, we express a better sense of order in our thinking and therefore in our acting. The results are freedom from unnecessary footsteps; less physical process; punctuality without pressure; discipline without frustration; quickness to recognize God's way. We progressively free ourselves from the conflicts and frictions that stem from our insisting on doing our planning without reference to the divine intent.

As we understand and accept these spiritual facts, our human lives progress with purpose and satisfaction in their relationships with others, also. We come to see that divine Principle subordinates the play and interplay of His ideas according to His will; and in any situation divine intelligence outlines its plan directly to all involved. This understanding brings a very real sense of security to us in situations beyond our human control.

I found myself in such a situation when I was serving as a lieutenant in the WAVES. I'd been assigned by the Navy to a line of duty quite new to me. Things went well until one day a new commanding officer and I failed to see eye to eye on an important point of procedure in my department. I was trying very hard to steer my course in this matter without self-will, to be in accord with divine Principle as well as with military regulation; but he didn't agree with my position and I was overruled by his higher rank. Pounding his fist on the desk, he fairly bellowed: "As your commanding officer, I demand that you do it my way."

 

Yielding to higher authority

For a moment I was stunned. Dejected and frustrated I went into my office and locked the door. But I knew better than to wallow in despair very long. That's a sure way to stop our progress in the divine adventure! Even in the most hopeless situations we can rely on God's supremacy.

I prayed. My simple prayer went something like this: "Father, this battle is yours. My hands are tied; I can't do a thing. But I know that with you all things are possible. I know there's a way out of this dilemma. Anything which conflicts with divine justice and right action has to fall before divine law. I know nothing is outside of your control. Show me your way over this obstruction. I will let no doubt or distrust blind me to your plan; no personal animosity divert me as the way unfolds; no resentment cloud my thoughts as the right steps appear."

With a renewed sense of peace and expectancy I went on about my work. A week later a letter came from the Chief of Naval Personnel in Washington, clear across the country. His was the highest authority in my particular branch of the service. Now, that letter seemed to be directed right to my need though no advice had been sought.

It would have been contrary to Navy regulations for me to go over my commander's head. This letter, however, outlined precisely the same procedure as I had recommended.

The officers on the station were assembled for the business of the day when my commanding officer read this letter aloud and then handed it over to me. He then turned to the staff with this statement. "I want every officer on this station to bear witness to this fact: that I never interfere in the work of this officer again."

I have always marveled at the climax of this experience as our commander yielded to an authority higher than his. The demonstration of God's plan was so complete and equitable. The problem was so impersonally resolved. There was no unpleasant aftermath. No animosity was felt. I just never could have outlined that solution, could I? I just don't know how to outline "good enough"!

The impetus of Spirit and the plan of Principle - when we allow them to come into consciousness and to govern our actions - can really change the sense of struggle into wonderful discoveries about ourself and our world.

 

Spiritual sense our guide

Now every adventure has a purpose. This adventure into inner space is to discover just who we are and how we can put this new sense of identity to work. This true concept of ourselves, more than anything else, affects our lives. It's immensely worth exploring. It reveals possibilities for achieving all that is worthwhile and satisfying and really interesting for ourselves and for living a life of usefulness to our fellowman.

The adventures going on today in outer space are constantly revealing new wonders. We've seen earthrise over the moon; we've walked with our astronauts in that "beautiful desolation," as they called it; we've explored Mars at close range. With each boundary broken we discover a more expansive view of our universe. Now, physical science isn't creating these new views. It's merely bringing that which always has been into clearer focus. Isn't this exactly what spiritual Science is doing in the spiritual realm? It's revealing God's universe and man as they've always been.

The study of outer space is carried on by the physical senses. Now, we've never been able to trust the physical senses completely. You've watched an airplane disappearing as a speck in the sky. But you know very well that all those passengers aboard that giant Astrojet aren't being squeezed together tighter and tighter into a mere speck. The jet doesn't just evaporate and disappear forever with all those passengers aboard. It's an optical illusion.

The material personality which we've been educated to accept as our true identity is the offspring of those same deceitful senses. From them arises every evil their victim seems to be subject to. They keep him always in a struggle with fear - the fear of sin, sickness, lack, sorrow, failure. And they foster selfishness and self-will.

Wouldn't you like to be free from those conditions? Of course you would, and you can be, just as many here are proving they can be. If you're willing to accept a more spiritual view of yourself, you, too, can change that struggle with fear and material selfhood into the triumphant adventure into inner space which we've been talking about.

We can never change what we really are, but what we really are can and does change what we seem to be. It brings our human experience into agreement with the good that is from God.

Spiritual sense is our guide on this journey. It's spiritual sense, a keen awareness of Spirit and of spiritual values, that shows us our real being. At first we may get just a glimpse of it. But as this view comes more clearly into focus through spiritualization of thought, it expands our ability to see and to be God's original man in our own individual way.

In this view, man no longer appears as a helpless mortal, limited by material laws, such as heredity, environment, race, color, and creed. This man isn't an American, an Asian, or an African. He isn't a Presbyterian, a Methodist, a Buddhist, a Muslim. No, he isn't even a Christian Scientist in a denominational sense. He's not what he appears to be at all - the offspring of matter and the physical senses, engaged in a competitive struggle with other mortals. He's the Son of God - the spiritual entire idea of God, endowed with the Christly qualities of good. He's you and me and all of us as we really are, each one individually filling his own place and purpose in God's infinite plan.

Christ Jesus referred to this true selfhood when he prayed: "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was" (John 17:5) - before the world, the universe of outer space, existed. And Mrs. Eddy refers to this selfhood when she writes: "Man outlives finite mortal definitions of himself, according to a law of 'the survival of the fittest.' Man is the eternal idea of his divine Principle, or Father" (No and Yes, p. 25). Man, as here defined, is alone fit to survive.

Earlier I spoke of Jesus' scientific demonstrations which proved for mankind the healing effects of the Godlike view of man, the Christ. Jesus urged others to follow his way, to take up the search for Christ. He urged them to relinquish the outer world of material seeming for the inner world of the truth of being, and to explore with him this realm of inner space. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness," he said (Matthew 6:33), and he pointed out quite clearly where to find this kingdom - within each one of us.

Millions of Christians through the years have taken up this search. Many have caught glimpses of the kingdom within. One sincere seeker penetrated this inner space to the point where she discovered the laws of the kingdom, the nature of these divine laws and their application to present experiences. Mary Baker Eddy then dedicated the remainder of her long life to making her discovery, Christian Science, available to all mankind.

 

Reality beyond the human

I've always been interested in a childhood experience of Mrs. Eddy's. It seems to indicate the divine destiny that lay before her and her innate feeling for metaphysical reasoning. This episode took place in school. The instructor asked the class: " 'If you were to take an orange, throw away the peel, squeeze out the juice, destroy the seeds and pulp, what would be left?' Many said they did not know. Some said that nothing would remain, while others kept silent. Mary . . . replied, 'There would be left the thought of the orange' " (Irving C. Tomlinson, Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy).

Later on, as spiritual Truth dawned in Mrs. Eddy's consciousness, she saw reality far beyond the mere human concept of things. The Christ, Truth, revealed the divine idea as the real substance of things and life as wholly spiritual. She had penetrated to the true nature of identity, God-created and God-sustained.

As many of you know, the revelation came to Mrs. Eddy in one of the darkest moments of her lifelong search for Truth. Those years were indeed years of struggle to survive. The search had cost her every worldly asset she ever had. She underwent total deprivation - loss of health, home, family, friends, her only child. Her life itself seemed to be ebbing away.

In her need, she turned to the Bible, and as she read, the Christ flooded her consciousness with spiritual light. The testimony of physical sense faded before spiritual insight and understanding; and she was healed.

 

Individual awakening the key

In this glimpse of spiritual existence she discerned the basic law of God's kingdom, the government of the divine Principle, Love. She also discovered her own true identity and her life purpose - to restore and proclaim the healing power of the Christ and establish its Science. Actually she was launching the most scientific exploration and adventure of this age, based on divine Principle and the unchanging law of Love. Later on she writes, "We live in an age of Love's divine adventure to be All-in-all" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 158).

In this Science of Christ lies the remedy for every discord, the poverty and sickness, the war and crime and racial strife that plague the world today - all the evil beliefs that would subvert the divine adventure into a horrible world struggle for survival. It's the purpose of Christian Science to awaken the individual and rouse mankind to the purposeful activity of exploring and occupying inner space, our demonstrable spiritual identity. It was to this purpose that Mrs. Eddy devoted the remainder of her long life on earth, writing, lecturing, teaching, founding the Christian Science movement, and always keeping close to God in prayer.

If the sense of a worldwide struggle for survival is to be overcome and replaced by a sense of all going forward together on a high spiritual adventure, it can only begin with the individual spiritual awakening of each one of us - with the awakening of you and me.         

A friend of mine learned this. She had met with unusual success in business and civic affairs over a period of many years. Whatever she undertook thrived.

 

Resources cannot run out

She organized and supervised the opening of a new branch of a large department store. She headed movements for women's rights and civil reforms. When a worthy cause was about to be launched in her large metropolitan area, the thought frequently seemed to be, "Let's get 'Jane' to do it." And "Jane" always came through with flying colors.

But suddenly, the demands seemed too heavy, and she had a complete physical breakdown.

She decided to talk with a friend, a psychiatrist who had been able to help her on other occasions, and she flew to a distant city to see her. Much to her surprise, her friend told her that she believed the answer to her problem lay in Christian Science. This was a step she had resisted for a long time. In desperation she went back to her hotel room and wired a relative who was a Christian Science practitioner and asked him to pray for her. Next morning she awakened with an indescribable sense of peace and an entirely new view of herself. The depression was gone, and she was healed of all pain, which never returned.

Later on she realized she had felt the touch of the Christ, Truth, in the healing love of one who had responded to her need with a recognition of her true identity. This one had seen her not as just a mortal trying to do good but as an individual spiritual expression of the infinite good which is God.

As she flew home above the clouds in an altitude of thought she hadn't before known, she realized she had embarked on a trip from which she would never return. She wasn't just going back home. She was going forward in a new, glorious adventure that had been opened to her.

This spiritual adventure is continuing to unfold in her consciousness. It's bringing to her progressively clearer views of her true selfhood - a selfhood with unlimited opportunity for good and unlimited capacity to turn each challenge into a stepping-stone to something better and more worthwhile. She keeps going forward. Her work has become worldwide in scope and by her service in a very much needed cause, she's helping to break human shackles wherever she goes.

She is relying on God for guidance and strength, having glimpsed her true identity as His likeness; and she is shouldering her full individual responsibility to express this identity. Confident that her resources cannot now run out, because they are from God, she no longer faces new challenges as a struggle but moves forward to meet them in the divine adventure, the adventure into inner space.

 

We’re all pioneers

We're all individual pioneers in this adventure. It's the scientific way of the Christ, Truth. It's the only way of true progress, of true harmony and success. It's the way Christ Jesus pointed out when he said: "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). It's the way of exploration into true identity.

This identity forever is expressing itself as actively occupying a purposeful, harmonious, useful, and worthwhile place in the present human experience. It's an identity to rely on.

I said at the beginning that this would be a trip from which we would never return. This promise can be fulfilled only if the ideas we have considered together continue to expand in a practical way in our daily affairs. We can begin right now - today - to cultivate them - or to resolve to do a better job of cultivating them - or we can just go back home. I hope none of us will just go back home, but that each one of us will decide to go home by the way ahead - the way of the endless possibilities of our inner selfhood.

We're all capable of doing more to demonstrate scientifically the power of Love to meet all human needs - yours, mine, our brothers'. It's the most practical way on earth of changing discord into harmony and the only way of transforming the struggle for existence into a life of divine adventure.

 

[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, under the headline “We can learn to live the life of divine adventure”, Jan. 16, 1971.]

 

 

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