The Gateway to a New Life

 

Naomi Price, C.S.B., of London, England

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

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

 

"Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it." These words from Revelation were the keynote of a Christian Science lecture titled, "The Gateway to a New Life," delivered in Boston last night by Naomi Price, C.S.B., of London, England.

"Many people at some stage in their lives get restless," Mrs. Price told her audience. "They become dissatisfied and want to pull up stakes and start all over again."

The lecturer reminded her listeners of the advice of Arnold Toynbee: "The new worlds with whose life it is now urgent for us to make contact are the spiritual worlds within ourselves."

"Professor Toynbee foresees," Mrs. Price said, "that it is in this spiritual universe rather than in outer space that mankind will find its deeper satisfactions and wider opportunities during the coming centuries.

"But what is this spiritual universe? Where is it located? How do we find it?"

Jesus told us 2,000 years ago where and what it was, the lecturer said. According to the Gospel of Luke, "The kingdom of God is within you."

We enter this kingdom, Mrs. Price commented, only by "changing the basis of our thinking from materiality to spiritual-mindedness, from fear of matter to trust In God's government and in the spiritual laws of His kingdom."

Mrs. Price, a member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship, spoke in the auditorium of The Mother Church Extension. She was introduced to her audience by Noel D. Bryan-Jones, First Reader of The Mother Church.

A partial text of the lecture follows:

 

Pioneer’s prayer answered

I suppose many people at some stage in their lives get restless. They become dissatisfied and want to pull up stakes and start all over again.

About 75 years ago a young couple of American pioneers I know about did just this. They left their childhood home and traveled westward. It was a hazardous journey in those days. The country was populated mostly by hostile Indians and desperate outlaws, and their mode of transportation was primitive - a covered wagon in which they took their two babies, one only six weeks old. But this vast, undeveloped territory seemed inviting to the young people. They wanted space for their family and were looking for adventure and opportunity.

As they went, the going was hard. Food was scarce and dangers threatened. But these young people had a steadfast faith. When difficulties befell them, they prayed and were helped. The Bible was their constant companion.

Eventually, after a few years, they reached western Oklahoma and things were better. By now they had four children, a small herd of cattle, and they ran a general store. Then disaster faced them.

The young mother became grievously ill with what the neighborhood doctors diagnosed as an advanced condition of cancer. The prospect for the family was black. Again they prayed to God for help, and again the prayer was answered, but this time in a more fundamental way.

One evening at sundown, a man came to the door wanting food and lodging. Two friends were nursing the sick woman and there wasn't room to take the man into the house. So, after a good meal he was given a bed in the haystack.

While the bed was being made up, he asked his host what was the trouble with his wife. And when he was told, he gave some information which was to change the whole course of this family's experience. He said, "There's a woman in Boston who has written a book, and reading it will heal the sick." He gave the address of a man who lived in another part of Oklahoma and had this book. The next morning he left and the family never saw him again.

 

Health completely restored

Acting on his advice, the husband immediately wrote to the address he'd been given and asked for the book to be sent. When it came, the young mother and her husband read it constantly. Very quickly the sick woman was restored to complete health. And when I met her son, not long ago, he told me that after this healing his mother lived a full and active life for nearly 40 years. In fact, after that experience he never knew her to have a sickness that kept her in bed a single day.

How did this healing occur? Well, you remember what the traveler told them. He said, "There's a woman in Boston who has written a book, and reading it will heal the sick." That book turned out to be "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," and its author is Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.

The first edition of Science and Health was published in Boston in 1875. By the time it reached our friends in Oklahoma, the reading of it together with the Bible had frequently healed acute conditions of disease. And now the book did the same for our pioneers. It healed the wife of cancer. More than that, it was to transform their whole outlook and experience; and it finally led them to the secure happiness and developing sense of fulfillment they so much desired.

Now, from experience I can tell you that this book will do the same for us. It will answer our questions and solve our problems. But the interesting thing about it is that, although it provides answers and solutions, it doesn't bring one to the end of the search for truth; rather does it open the door to the beginning of a new adventure in the exploration of infinite Truth. This book led that little family into a life of much greater security but also of much wider opportunity. After it came, they had far more thrilling and interesting experiences than before. It was a new beginning for them. And so it can be for each one of us, too.

This book is a gateway to new opportunities and wider horizons for us all - to a new universe. What is the nature of this new universe with its wider opportunities and horizons?

 

Spiritual realm perceived

In this age when astronauts are reaching out to the stars, Prof. Arnold Toynbee, the famous historian, is looking in another direction. He said recently, "The new worlds with whose life it is now most urgent for us to make contact are the spiritual worlds within ourselves." He foresees that it is in this spiritual universe rather than in outer space that mankind will find its deeper satisfactions and wider opportunities during the coming centuries.

But what is this spiritual universe? Where is it located? How do we find it?

In this present century highly organized forces of materialism are insistently pressing their claim that the material world is all that really exists. But throughout the ages thinkers have recognized that there is more to life than what we materially see and feel - that there is a vast spiritual realm, a realm of spiritual qualities, substance, identities, and law, which we have yet to explore.

Christ Jesus frequently referred to this spiritual realm with its promise of happiness and constantly developing experience for everyone under God's law. He called it "the kingdom of heaven" or "the kingdom of God." He told his disciples that this kingdom is "at hand" but "not of this world" - that is to say - one can enter into it now but it is not a geographical location nor a human system of government. He said (Luke 17:21): "The kingdom of God is within you."

This didn't mean that the spiritual kingdom is located inside a human body or brain. It isn't within the mortal personality of anyone or within the material cells of the brain. As Jesus explained, the kingdom of God is spiritual and is discerned through spiritualized thinking.

And we don't enter this kingdom and experience it through any effort of merely human thought or will. We enter and experience it through changing the basis of our thinking from materiality to spiritual-mindedness, from fear of matter to trust in God's government and in the spiritual laws of His kingdom.

 

More than blind faith needed

To effect this basic change of thought there is need for more than blind faith in the Bible's promise of this kingdom. There is need for scientific understanding of God, the divine Principle, or creator, of this super-sensible universe and of spiritual man who inhabits it. Then as we begin to live in obedience to the divine law which governs this universe, our eyes are opened to its wonders all around us. We gain an understanding of the boundless horizons and the great opportunities available to all of us. We have entered the kingdom of heaven on earth; we have started to explore "the spiritual worlds within ourselves."

Christian Science unlocks the spiritual meaning of the Bible. It teaches exactly and scientifically the nature of God and of spiritual man and the spiritual universe, created by God.

In Science and Health God is revealed as infinite Mind; as the divine Principle of all that is made; as eternal Life; as limitless and indestructible substance, or Spirit; as the Soul of His spiritual universe including man; as Truth, pure and whole. God is shown to be all-inclusive divine Love, embracing the spiritual universe in harmony, tranquility and joy.

These seven terms - Principle, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Life, Truth and Love - not only describe God's nature; they constitute God's nature and refer to God Himself. In their incorporeal, divine, infinite meaning they are actually synonymous with the word "God."

What, then, is man? Science and Health tells us: "Man is the expression of God's being" (p. 470). So, since we understand that God, the creator, or divine Principle, is infinite, eternal Mind, Soul, Spirit, Life, Truth and Love, we see that man, "the expression of God's being," reflects the qualities of God implied in each of these seven different terms. Man in his real nature isn't a material body or personality with a spiritual individuality inside. Man's expression of the spiritual qualities of God actually constitutes his whole and only being.

Each of us, then, includes in his true spiritual nature a complete reflection of God - the stability of divine Principle, the intelligence and wisdom of Mind, the joyful vitality of Spirit, the beauty and grace of Soul, the activity and eternally unfolding productivity of Life, and the glory and goodness of selfless, spiritual Love. We lack nothing that contributes to full and happy living - that can ensure everything the human heart most deeply desires and truly needs.

And this is not all. Our experience is not stagnant, static. Science and Health shows that God, divine Principle, is the source of all action; He is the inexhaustible source of intelligent ideas; therefore, man and the universe, which He brings forth in expression of His own nature, continue to unfold and develop throughout eternity. Listen to this from Science and Health: "God expresses in man the infinite idea forever developing itself, broadening and rising higher and higher from a boundless basis" (p. 258). What a glorious prospect!

As we gain a scientific understanding of God's nature and become increasingly conscious of our true identity as "the expression of God's being," the basis of our thinking changes from the limitations of matter to the boundless freedom of Spirit. Then we can expect to have increasing evidence in our lives of continuing adventure, of developing capacity and broadening opportunity.

This was certainly the experience of Mary Baker Eddy, the author of Science and Health.

Prior to 1866 Mrs. Eddy's life had been relatively narrow and restricted. Her childhood and young womanhood were spent in the comparative obscurity of rural New England. Her activities were limited by continual ill health. And although she had great resources of affection and a deep desire to help others, her influence was not felt much beyond the immediate radius of her family and friends.

Then at a moment of extreme physical crisis she caught a glimpse of the universe as wholly spiritual, as created by God, divine Life; and she was healed.

 

Mrs. Eddy studied Bible deeply

Inspired by the tremendous spiritual revelation which had produced this seemingly miraculous event, Mrs. Eddy began to work with great dedication. She felt divinely impelled to find out exactly what it was that had healed her so that she could share its benefits with the whole world. Her healing was clearly a spiritual experience, and during the next three years she devoted hours each day to deep study of the Bible, which she felt held the secret of her recovery.

Gradually, the spiritual significance of the Scriptures appeared to her. She understood for the first time the spiritual meaning of the teaching and demonstration of Christ Jesus. She had discovered the Science of Christ - Christian Science.

Mrs. Eddy thoroughly tested her findings by healing others. And in Science and Health she set forth the principle and rule of Christian Science with its method of metaphysical healing. Then her life and influence for good blossomed more and more.

You will remember that news of her discovery and her book came to the family in the then sparsely populated territory of Oklahoma. At about the same time - about 70 years ago - a businessman from Australia sent Science and Health home to his invalid wife and she was healed. And my own mother heard of it in England. At the turn of the century Mrs. Eddy's book had almost encircled the world.

By this time, too, she had founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, with its headquarters in Boston and widely scattered branches. Then, as the intrepid Leader of a rapidly growing movement, she completed the Manual of bylaws which would govern and protect this church in perpetuity. She taught classes, wrote more books in explanation of Christian Science, and founded weekly, monthly, and quarterly periodicals. At the age of 87, she founded the now world-known daily newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor.

Surely, this is a breath-taking record of activity and achievement by one woman. Could there be more convincing proof of the broadening, energizing, satisfying effect of gaining a scientific understanding of the new and wonderful universe of Spirit?

Now let's see what we have to do to explore further the possibilities of this new universe.

You'll remember that the young mother in Oklahoma was healed of cancer as a result of studying the Bible and Science and Health. Where ever she and her husband were, in camp and while traveling in covered wagon, in their dug-out home and while tending sheep and cattle under the open sky, the books were scarcely ever out of their hands.

But clearly our young couple not only read the books, they utilized the truths they read about.

 

Chart for exploring reality

When we're going on a trip we need maps in order to plan the journey, but we have to do more than study these maps if we're to arrive at our destination. We have to use the information we get from them and take active steps to travel the way we want to go.

So it is with the exploration of spiritual reality. The Bible and Science and Health provide a chart, or map, as it were, of the spiritual universe. But we must do more than read them. We must take steps to put into practice the truths we have learned concerning our spiritual being.

After Christian Science came to our pioneer family, the woman was restored to health. Also all the children became wonderfully happy in spite of the lack of almost every material thing which would, in modern times, seem necessary for happiness. They were taught by their parents to utilize the inexhaustible supply of spiritual qualities which they now knew existed within themselves as expressions of God - qualities of intelligence, inventiveness, resourcefulness, observation, kindness and compassion. Their days were filled with adventure and the delight of discovering new and interesting ideas. And their happiness was secure because it sprang from their spiritualized thinking, independent of outward circumstances and material things.

This can be the experience of everyone who goes through the gateway of Christian Science into a new universe. He can learn of the spiritual riches that belong to him as "the expression of God's being," and then utilize this understanding to transform his thinking and experience.

Prayer, as understood in Christian Science, is for the most part silent, and it is ceaseless. It is consecrated, perpetual communion with spiritual Truth. And it is coupled with the fervent desire to be totally committed in thought and deed to the facts of spiritual being - to become more Godlike.

 

View of God’s kingdom at hand

First, there is humble recognition that God's nature is infinite, divine Principle, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Life, Truth and Love. And there is grateful acknowledgment that man - the real man created by God - is the expression of His being. This recognition of God's sublime nature and the limitless perfection of man as His spiritual offspring opens the door to a vision of God's kingdom at hand. We see before us a glorious promise of happy, harmonious, triumphant living, wholly spiritual because God is Spirit, forever unfolding because God is infinite.

But this vision of spiritual being is not of itself sufficient to ensure that we enjoy more than a fleeting glimpse of the wonder of this universe. We must then take the step of active involvement with it. We must abandon the belief that we exist in a mortal world and a material body, regardless of how real they may seem to be. We must break down with the spiritual facts the mental barriers that confine us to limited experience and limited achievement. We must give up the notion that we are dependent upon material things for satisfaction and fulfillment. We must dedicate ourselves to the expression of the qualities of God which constitute our real being in His likeness. And we must accept and adopt into our thinking the facts of limitless, gracious, harmonious being which Christian Science has shown to be man's true identity.

This prayer of recognition and involvement brings us into an enjoyment of the spiritual universe here and now. It enables us to live in heaven on earth. It has the effect in our own lives of healing disease and of transforming the human sense of a restricted, barren, human wilderness experience into a fruitful realization of limitless, spiritual usefulness and fulfillment. It can also be used for the benefit of others as well.

But, let me be clear. Except in emergencies, Christian Scientists never pray for others unless specifically asked to do so. This would infringe the right of the individual to care for himself. But they are always happy to pray - that is, to give spiritual help, or treatment - for anyone who asks for this help.

Indeed, there are several thousand Christian Scientists who have dedicated themselves to helping mankind in this way. Their names and addresses are listed in The Christian Science Journal. And today, there are people all over the world who have been released from the slavery of limited, material thinking through the work of these Christian Science practitioners. Let me tell you of one particular case.

I was once introduced at a lecture by a strong, healthy and evidently very happy man. He was a professional sportsman and well known as a radio sports commentator. He began his introduction by saying: "There was once a time when I thought joy came out of a bottle!" He went on to say that he had been an alcoholic but had been healed through Christian Science.

He was in a state of extreme degradation, suffering from delirium tremens, when he sent a message to a Christian Science practitioner asking for help. As a consequence of her treatment he was quickly healed, and never since then has he even been tempted to take an alcoholic drink.

This healing through the prayers of a practitioner set him to explore the spiritual universe further on his own. Three years later, through his own realization of the satisfaction which belonged to him as an individual expression of God, he was released from the smoking habit. He had been an inveterate chain smoker, but since this second healing he has never even wished to light a cigarette.

Through Christian Science this man discovered immense resources of spiritual happiness and peace within himself which released him from the false belief that he must find these qualities "in a bottle" or in a cigarette.

Now, let's see just how this exploration of the spiritual universe affects our daily experience.

One of the important aspects of Mrs. Eddy's discovery was the illusory nature of matter. She saw that all substance is infinite and indestructible Spirit. Therefore, what appears to humanity as matter and limitation is actually a subjective state of material thinking - of the carnal, or mortal mind. In fact, the physical universe and physical body, though appearing to be substantial to the physical senses, are actually no more substantial or real than an image in a dream. As Science and Health puts it: "Matter, or body, is but a false concept of mortal mind" (p. 177).

 

False concepts underlie disease

What does this mean to us? It means that since "matter, or body, is but a false concept of mortal mind," if there appears to be a diseased condition in our own bodies or in the body of a friend, we can realize that it is merely "a false concept of mortal mind." This false concept can be corrected by recognizing the true fact of man's spiritual, perfect being as God's expression. Then, this corrected thought expresses itself in a normal condition of health.

Now, some may say, "If the material body - indeed, the whole mass of matter - is a ‘false concept of mortal mind,’ why doesn't the whole concept of matter dissolve and the material body vanish when you replace the false belief with spiritual understanding?"

Christian Science stands by its explanation that, since man is the expression of God and God is divine Spirit, man is wholly spiritual. And it maintains that the wholly spiritual nature of man and the universe will ultimately be demonstrated, as Jesus demonstrated his own wholly spiritual nature in the ascension. But it also shows that whatever is good and useful on the human scene points to the full realization of spiritual being, and is therefore strengthened and sustained by divine Love.

At this present stage of development our progress towards the demonstration of the spiritual ultimate lies in step-by-step transformation of thought with spiritual Truth. And this step-by-step transformation of thought brings step-by-step improvement of bodily and other human conditions. Through progressively healing and correcting the imperfect and human it gradually brings to light the spiritual and the perfect.

Sometimes this transformation of thought occurs suddenly. In this case a quick healing of the body, a swift change of character or of circumstances, often takes place.

But at other times thought is less ready to give up its false concepts. It is less quick to grasp the truth of spiritual being in God's likeness; it is slow to yield to the implication that material, sinful thoughts and habits must be abandoned in order to establish that the spiritual kingdom of God is actually at hand. Then a desired healing may be delayed. But with persistence it will surely come.

 

Healings of Jesus explained

This, very briefly, is how healing takes place in Christian Science. It may seem a new concept of healing, but the method is identical with the one practiced by Christ Jesus and his disciples long ago. Paul said (Rom. 12:2): "Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind," and he healed on this basis. Likewise, Christian Science transforms the false material concept with the truth of spiritual being and heals.

The true idea of God and man and of all things, we understand to be the Christ. It was this true idea, so clearly discerned by Jesus and so mightily used by him in his healing works, that makes us call him Christ Jesus. Today this true idea, this Christ-power, or Christ, Truth, is again available to heal in Christian Science.

This Christ-healing is not miraculous in the sense of being an infringement of law. Rather is it the operation of divine law in human consciousness. In the presence of this spiritual law of harmony, discord disappears, giving place to the health and well-being which are always God's will for the man He created in His own likeness. Such healing is the beginning of a glorious new day for whoever experiences it. As the light of spiritual understanding grows stronger, we can make new and wonderful discoveries about the true, limitless nature of man - of ourselves and our family and friends - as the expression of God's being. Our horizons are pushed back. Our opportunities for development and achievement widen. We find ourselves living happier and more satisfying lives. Our usefulness to others grows. The universe seems brighter and more beautiful, and we see infinite possibilities before us for the exploration of Spirit's continually unfolding grandeur and glory. In Mrs. Eddy's words: "Each successive stage of experience unfolds new views of divine goodness and love" (Science and Health, p. 66).

I would like to tell you about my first experience of healing when I started to study Science and Health with a real desire to learn about Christian Science. It was a very quick healing and it has been an inspiration to me ever since.

 

A life transformed

Some years ago a love of humanity and a desire to help people in trouble led me to take up social welfare work. I was associated with many fine men and women whose devotion to philanthropy I greatly admired. But after a time I became dissatisfied. It seemed that the help we gave frequently had only temporary effect.

Believing life to be material and subject to evil influences, I felt the outlook was dark and hopeless. Finally, this depressed mental condition brought on a severe physical breakdown which would not yield to any material remedy. Suffering from the discomforts of nervous indigestion, I could neither eat nor sleep and I became thin and miserable.

At this point I purchased a copy of Science and Health. As I read, the logic of the scientific relationship of God and man as divine Principle and perfect, spiritual expression began to dawn upon me. I saw that because God, divine Principle, is the only creator of the universe, including man, there is, in reality, no truth in the evil, discord and disease which seemed to be giving so much trouble to the world.

In the light of this opening of my eyes to the reality of God's perfect spiritual universe I found myself suddenly well. The symptoms of the nervous complaint vanished and that very day I was once again able to eat and sleep normally.

This was the beginning of a new and happy life. Since then I have been able to serve humanity in wider and more effective ways. Through Christian Science I have seen healing take place in cases which would have been beyond the reach of any methods previously employed. And my own life has been (and I know it will continue to be) an experience of continually broadening usefulness and fulfillment, with constant "new views of divine goodness and love."

It was a great adventure to travel across the unsettled western States of America a century ago. In this materialistic age it is a bold undertaking to follow Mrs. Eddy in exploring the realm of divine Spirit. But the prospect is magnificent. We need not pack our belongings on a covered wagon and move to another place to prove this. The spiritual world stands with its gates wide open right where we are.

Here and now we can start on the greatest and most rewarding adventure of all - the exploration of the vast and exciting possibilities of God's man and God's universe. We can discover what we really are as expressions of God, divine Mind, Life, Truth and Love, the infinitely active divine Principle of the universe including man. We can take possession of the spiritual qualities which belong to us under divine law.

Then we can look forward to every new day in the certainty that it will bring forth fresh, exciting experiences of wholesome, colorful enjoyment. And we can make a valuable contribution to society not only in neighborly kindness but in useful, constructive ideas.

"Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it" (Rev. 3:8).

 

©1967 Naomi Price

All rights reserved

 

[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, May 7, 1968, under the headline "Gateway to the spiritual universe is open to all".]

 

 

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