Become What You Are
Harold Rogers of Rome, Italy
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Christ Jesus showed people their true identity and healed them of sickness and lack, Harold Rogers, C.S.B., of Rome, Italy, told an audience in Boston's South End yesterday.
"Jesus was an activist," Mr. Rogers said. "He actively used his understanding to heal people of their ills and bring about a better society."
A former Editor of the Arts and Entertainment Page of The Christian Science Monitor, Mr. Rogers became a member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship in 1968 and a teacher of Christian Science in 1970. He spoke in the Union United Methodist Church under the auspices of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts.
"Become What You Are!" was the title of his lecture.
Mr. Rogers was introduced by Mrs. LaVonia Shaw of Boston. He spoke substantially as follows:
Suppose you were a member of an archaeological team and were digging for earlier civilizations in Greece or Egypt or India, or even the United States. And suppose you found a statue covered with the mud of ages. You wouldn't be able to know who this statue is until you had cleaned off the mud. Then you'd be able to recognize it as Athena, or Isis, or Shiva, or perhaps a Navajo rain god whatever character had been given it by its creator.
Now all of us are something like this statue. Our true identity has been given us by the cause that created us, the divine architect. But somehow in varying degrees we've lost sight of this fact. We find ourselves covered over with poverty, diseases, weaknesses of character, sorrows and frustrations, and imprisoned in a physical body with all its limitations just like the statue covered with mud. And if we look at this overlay that is, if we think all this mud is really us then we'll never be able to see ourselves as we truly are.
Well, then, what is our true identity and how can we find it? When we've found it, can we hold onto it, protect it, so we never lose it? And how does this development of our true identity change our lives or improve our society?
Today there are more than three billion people on this planet, yet only a small fraction have any understanding at all of their true identity. Why? Because they're looking at themselves through the five physical senses. And the physical senses, being material, can tell us only about matter in its various forms even to man as matter.
We all know what the physical senses say about man that he's conceived in matter, born into matter, conditioned by matter, matures in matter, declines in matter, and then dies in matter. And if we accept this picture of man, we are prone to experience all the troubles and limiting conditions that matter is subject to like disease, for instance, or the slavery of uncontrolled physical appetites, or just plain poverty.
Over the centuries, however, there have appeared a few inspired individuals who haven't been willing to settle for this unhappy picture of man as matter. The more enlightened of these individuals those known as prophets have seen man as being quite different from the way he appears to the physical senses.
Christ Jesus, the most enlightened of them all, saw that man isn't in the least material that he's a purely spiritual being and is given senses that are purely spiritual by his cause, divine Spirit. And these spiritual senses tell us quite the reverse of what the physical senses say.
Our spiritual senses which are your true senses and my true senses tell us that man is conceived by Spirit, the universal creator; that he is brought forth in Spirit, given his individuality by Spirit, lives in the plenty of Spirit, and that every individual is just as deathless as the everlasting Spirit that created him.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science a little over a century ago, writes in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "Sometime we shall learn how Spirit, the great architect, has created men and women in Science" (p. 68). We all will inevitably learn what we truly are not material but spiritual.
We live in a scientific age. It was therefore natural that someone would want to consider religion from a scientific viewpoint. Mrs. Eddy was that person. And she reasoned that we can find the true identity of man by observing the scientific relationship that exists between cause and effect.
For example, we all know what it means to see our reflection in a mirror. We are the cause. Our image is the effect. If you smile, your reflection smiles too. If your hands are empty, the hands of your reflection are also empty. If they're filled with jewels, so are the hands of your reflection. As long as you're standing before the mirror, your reflection can't turn around and walk away. Nor can your reflection ever step around to your side of the mirror and blend with you. You forever hold your position as cause. Your reflection forever holds its position as effect.
Now let's look away from ourselves as being the cause of our mirrored reflection. Instead, let's look to "the great architect," the one Spirit or universal creator. Let's see the great architect as being the only true cause, and we ourselves as the reflection, or effect, of this only true cause.
This great architect is the one God the unique creating force that is all-powerful, all-intelligent, and everywhere present. So if we reason logically from cause to effect if we see that God is the cause and man the effect then whatever God is as cause, so is man as effect.
For correct identification, the greatest need of humanity is to arrive at an exact definition of what God truly and scientifically is; for we can never get a correct understanding of ourselves as effect until we gain a correct understanding of God as our cause. In Christian Science we learn that God is the only cause, the origin or divine Principle of all that truly exists, the controlling intelligence or Mind of man and the universe.
Speaking of this, Mrs. Eddy writes in her autobiography: "During twenty years prior to my discovery I had been trying to trace all physical effects to a mental cause; and in the latter part of 1866 I gained the scientific certainty that all causation was Mind, and every effect a mental phenomenon" ("Retrospection and Introspection," p. 24).
Mrs. Eddy found the true nature of God and the true nature of man set forth in the Bible. And in the first chapter of the Bible is a clear statement of perfect cause and perfect effect. The Scripture says that "God created man in his own image" and that "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (Gen. 1:27, 31). So here we have a good or perfect cause producing a good or perfect effect.
Yet if we hold to the notion that God may be perfect while man is no more than an animal, then we have abandoned scientific logic altogether. The entire theology of Christian Science is reasoned out from one basic truth: the perfection of God and the consequent perfection of man perfect cause and perfect effect.
In this way we learn to see ourselves spiritually and scientifically as perfect effect of perfect cause. Then we can go on to learn how to put this correct relationship to work in correcting our own ills and the ills of our society. This was Mrs. Eddy's experience. Following the passage just quoted about her discovery that all causation was divine Mind and all effect a mental phenomenon, she goes on to say, "My immediate recovery from the effects of an injury caused by an accident, an injury that neither medicine nor surgery could reach, was the falling apple that led me to the discovery how to be well myself, and how to make others so."
Those of you who know something of the Bible know that it is divided into two parts the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament is a grouping of Hebrew writings in which the concept of monotheism or one God only emerges clearly.
Some of the early Hebrew prophets foresaw the coming of a great prophet who would be able to show to humanity the true nature of God and man. This prophet would proclaim the coming of God's kingdom or rule on earth and would be known as the Messiah or Christ the anointed representative of God. He would be the Saviour who would provide the saving understanding the correct identification that would free human beings from all suffering and evil.
And, as we know, this individual came 2,000 years ago and was called Jesus. As we also know, the New Testament is an account of Jesus' experience and of his healing ministry. It also records the Christian teachings and the healing works of his students. When it was understood by his students that Jesus was the predicted Christ, he was then called Jesus the Christ, or Christ Jesus.
So Jesus and Christ don't have exactly the same meaning. Jesus was the name of the human person. The Christ is the true idea of God and man Jesus taught and lived. It was the Christ that enabled Jesus to tell us the truth of God and man, and it is the Christ today that tells you and me of our true identity as the perfect effect of a perfect cause. Never once did Jesus attribute evil to God. He told his students: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48).
Those of you who know something of Jesus also know that in showing people their true identity he healed many of them without drugs or surgery. Some Christians think of these healings as supernatural. Mrs. Eddy, however, through her accurate use of metaphysical logic, her spiritual insight, and the proof she obtained in the many healings she herself performed, learned that Jesus healed in strict obedience to divine law.
He made it clear in his teachings that he himself, as effect, could do nothing. He taught that his Father, or God, is the cause of everything good. "Why callest thou me good?" he
asked. "There is none good but one, that is, God" (Matt. 19:17).
As for evil, Jesus made it clear that evil was not created by God and therefore had no true existence. He taught that evil tells us nothing about who we really are; it's "a liar, and the father of it" (John 8:44).
It's obvious, isn't it, that we can't destroy anything that is 100 percent true. Whatever is truly true remains true throughout eternity. Now if evil were true, it would be forever true; we could never destroy it. But Jesus proved all forms of evil could be destroyed. He healed blindness, deafness, crippled limbs, paralysis, hemorrhage, insanity, immorality, and lack.
In Science and Health we find this clear explanation of how he healed: "The divine nature was best expressed in Christ Jesus, who threw upon mortals the truer reflection of God and lifted their lives higher than their poor thought-models would allow, thoughts which presented man as fallen, sick, sinning, and dying. The Christlike understanding of scientific being and divine healing includes a perfect Principle and idea, perfect God and perfect man, as the basis of thought and demonstration" (p. 259).
So far we've been gaining some understanding of how we can find our true identity of how we can become what we truly are. Now I'd like to ask you this question: Once we've found our true identity, can we keep it or is it something that after a few years we shall lose?
No, we can never lose our identity, our God-given individuality. You will always be you throughout eternity. Some religious teachers don't understand this divine fact and therefore give their students an incorrect notion of man's continuous identity.
When my wife and I were on a lecture tour of India, a friend there told us that almost all of the Oriental religious systems teach the ultimate dissolution of man's identity. One example they give is that man is like a doll made of hard salt. This doll, of course, would have an identity. And then suppose this doll were to be dropped in the ocean. It would dissolve and lose its identity as it blended with the water.
But scientific Christianity reveals that we are not like a salt doll that is dropped in the ocean, losing its identity as it dissolves and becomes one with the water.
To reason this way is to think that an effect can leave its position as effect and assume the position of cause. Remember our mirror illustration? Your reflection can't leave its position as effect and walk around the mirror to blend with you as its cause. As long as you're the cause of your mirrored reflection, it must remain as your effect.
Now God Himself is the everlasting cause, and an eternal cause must forever manifest itself in an eternal effect. An eternal God manifests Himself in an eternal man. If we as effect could blend with our cause and cease being effect, then we'd have a cause without an effect or God without man. And this is scientifically impossible.
Once when Jesus referred to Abraham, a Hebrew patriarch whose place in history dated some 2,000 years before his own, he said: "Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58). Here, of course, Jesus wasn't referring to his physical body. He was speaking of his true identity, his wholly spiritual manhood. Christian Science too, teaches that individual being pre-exists human selfhood. In the words of Science and Health, "If we live after death and are immortal, we must have lived before birth, for if Life ever had any beginning, it must also have an ending, even according to the calculations of natural science" (p.429). If we're the everlasting reflection of an everlasting God, then we have forever existed and will forever exist.
This is why students of Christian Science understand there is no reincarnation, no transmigration of souls. Reincarnation is an attempt to explain the coming and going of mortals. It's an attempt to fit mortals and mortality into some kind of a divine design. But in divine Science we learn that the material body is not man's true identity. It's a counterfeit concept of identity. A counterfeit dollar, for instance, may look like a real dollar, yet the counterfeit dollar has no true value.
The fact is, however, that there's no duality there isn't a false you and a true you. There is only one you, the true you that the great architect has created, and this true you is perfect and continuous. Right where the human you appears to be sitting, right there is the true you, the man of God's creating. And this true you has no history of mortality, no history of coming and going, of birth and rebirth, of disease, or immorality, or lack only eternal continuity of spiritual being.
I'd like to tell you about a friend of mine who was raised in a religion that teaches man is a material mortal with a human history. She told me that she had an unhappy childhood because she could never measure up to what her mother expected of her. When she became a young woman, she began to study Christian Science and was overjoyed to learn that she no longer had to accept her mother's opinion of her.
Her mother, however, was bitterly opposed to Christian Science, and my friend was not yet completely free of her mother's domination. One night, when her mother was visiting her, my friend became so upset that she had a bad fall. She dislocated her jaw and was badly cut under the chin. Her mother rushed her to an emergency hospital.
The doctor took X rays and told her that her jaw was fractured. He said that it should be set surgically. He also said the cut under her chin would require 18 stitches.
My friend, however, refused medical aid and went home. Then she telephoned a Christian Science practitioner. She poured out her story between clenched teeth while the wound was still bleeding badly.
The practitioner reminded her of her true identity as the perfect effect of a perfect cause. The practitioner told her that she must get a clearer sense of her parentage that God was her only true Father or Mother, that this universal Parent was causing her to see not only her own true identity but also the true identity of her human mother. And my friend began to see that, as the everlasting effect of an eternal cause, she truly had no human history whatever not even the history of having fallen and fractured her jaw.
Suddenly she heard the practitioner say, "Why, you're talking normally."
And it was true. Her jaw had suddenly adjusted itself, the pain was gone, the bleeding had stopped.
The next day she went to a private physician to have the wound washed and bandaged. This doctor took new X rays, compared them with those taken at the hospital the night before, and then said, "I don't believe this could have happened last night." He added, however, it was too late to take stitches, that she would doubtless have an infection and need plastic surgery.
When she returned three days later, the doctor was amazed to find no infection whatever. The wound healed perfectly; no plastic surgery was required.
By observing this healing we learn something about Christian Science treatment, or the scientific prayer that establishes and protects our identity. And we can also see something of what this prayer is not. It is not mental concentration on nothingness. It is not autosuggestion or self-hypnosis. It is not the endless repetition of religious formulas until the person falls into a trance, a false state of bliss. It is not the denial of identity until he is lost in a cosmic ocean of forgetfulness.
Prayer in Christian Science is active communion with God it's the affirmative acknowledgment of the perfection of God and the consequent perfection of man. It includes a denial of the falsities that are no part of our true nature and an affirmation of the truth of our identity as God's perfect expression of Himself.
And now I'd like to say a few words about a counterfeit science a teaching totally based on a false identification of man. This is the so-called science of astrology. A dictionary defines astrology as "pseudo science," and pseudo is the Greek word for false. Astrology is a false science based on the belief that our destinies are controlled by the movements of the planets and the stars.
But the pseudo science of astrology makes a further false claim: It says that the movements of the stars also influence the lives of those who don't know anything about astrology or who don't believe in it.
Science and Health points out: "The planets have no more power over man than over his Maker, since God governs the universe; but man, reflecting God's power, has dominion over all the earth and its hosts" (p. 102).
Christian Scientists, of course, accept this statement, and they therefore don't go along with the false teachings of astrology. And there are many other Christians and non-Christians who also refute it. But does this refusal give these individuals total freedom from its false influences?
A friend of mine a dedicated Christian Scientist recently told me that for many years he was troubled with a marked inability to reach a decision. He was afraid of making mistakes. A friend of his, who knew when he was born, told him that an inability to make decisions was typical of those born under the sign of Libra, or the scales.
According to astrology, those under this sign are always weighing things in their thought swinging, like the scales, from one side to the other. This friend of his, who is also a Christian Scientist, told him that unless he consciously took himself out from under this astrological belief, it could continue to operate as an influence in his experience.
"From that moment," he told me, "I became aware of this problem in a new way and discovered that I was indeed suffering from it even more than I had supposed. As I understood and affirmed that man is governed by divine Mind alone and is not subject to any false astrological influence, I began to make decisions promptly without fear of making mistakes. Recently a friend commented particularly on how decisive I was about everything."
Astrology is a belief in fate that both good and evil can be predicted for us and then take place in our experience. But a knowledge of our true identity will put a stop to this nonsense. We aren't mortals made out of matter who can be influenced by mindless matter bodies out in space. We're the sons and daughters of God, 100 percent spiritual; we're the altogether good effect of an altogether good cause. Therefore our God-given destiny can only be a destiny for good.
When we understand this divine fact and claim it for ourselves, then we'll find that evil things will begin to disappear from our experience, while good things will progressively appear.
Mrs. Eddy is a good example of what can happen to a person who learns something of his true identity. During her first 45 years she was sick much of the time. After her discovery of Christian Science, she entered into a state of productive activity that included writing Science and Health, a book that has since gone through hundreds of printings and has brought healings to thousands upon thousands. She founded The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, which now has branches encircling the globe. She established The Christian Science Publishing Society, which daily sends out the healing word of Christian Science on a worldwide basis. In her 88th year she launched an international daily newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor.
When we gain a clearer understanding of our true identity and its indestructibility, we also experience a growing desire to develop it still further by helping our fellowmen and improving our society.
Jesus was an activist. He never selfishly withdrew from the world to work out his own salvation from the limitations of matter. He actively used his understanding to heal people of their ills and bring about a better society. True, he often withdrew to a mountaintop where he'd spend an entire night in communion with God. But then he'd return to the people to teach them and heal them. He never taught his students to be hermits. "Go ye into all the world," he commanded, "and preach the gospel [the good news] to every creature." "Heal the sick" (Mark 16:15; Matt. 10:8). In this sense, Mrs. Eddy, too, was an activist.
I'd like to tell you about a friend of mine who is now one of the finest activists I know. He began to learn something of his true identity while serving a 75-year prison term. He had held up two motels at gun-point, after which he was arrested at a roadblock. He had two automatic pistols in his possession, a juvenile girl, a stolen car, and clothing from a department store burglary. He had been led into a life of crime by members of his own family who were pushing drugs and prostitution.
He told me that after he was sent to prison, he sank to new depths of depravity. He smoked, drank, sniffed glue, and nearly ruined his arm by shooting a variety of drugs into his veins.
He served 15 years before he was released by the parole board. But his freedom began when he found copies of The Christian Science Monitor in prison. And he had read the Monitor for several years before noticing the daily religious article on The Home Forum page.
"It was an article on moral courage that did it," he told me. "And I found a statement by Mrs. Eddy in this article that helped me to revise my life: 'Moral courage is requisite to meet the wrong and to proclaim the right' (p. 327).
"At first I couldn't remember the words from one hour to the next. So I cut them out and pasted them with gum to a piece of cardboard and wrapped it with cellophane so the sweat from my trousers wouldn't rub the ink off. When the gangs would stop for a drink from the water wagon, I would read and ponder these healing words. They were my life, my air, my sustenance!''
In this way he began to carve out a new life for himself. He took note of an illustration that Mrs. Eddy gives in Science and Health (p. 248): "The sculptor turns from the marble to his model in order to perfect his conception," she says. "Have you accepted the mortal model? Are you reproducing it? Then you are haunted in your work by vicious sculptors and hideous forms." And she drives the point home this way: "We must form perfect models in thought and look at them continually, or we shall never carve them out in grand and noble lives."
He began to see that as God's child he never had been an animalistic mortal with a history of crime. He now accepted the perfect model that he was the good effect of a good cause; that he could have only the history that God gave him; that his life, as the reflection of divine Life, could only be grand and noble.
As my friend put these Christ ideas to work in his consciousness, he was inspired to take certain steps that won him his total release from prison and from the 75-year sentence. And after winning his freedom, he felt compelled to use his understanding of Christian Science to help his fellow-man and to improve his society. He now devotes his full time to rehabilitating prisoners. And his own life has taken on a wonderful sense of manhood and dignity. He now has a beautiful wife and a handsome son.
Several times in her writings Mrs. Eddy refers to man's statuesque being. And what are some of the qualities we find in great statuary? Well, some of these are dignity, serenity, poise, grace, purity, balance, nobility, eloquence. So as we learn more of our true identity our statuesque being we'll find these radiant qualities coming into our human experience.
No, you are not a salt doll to be dissolved into a sea of oblivion. You have always been you. You are you. You always will be you. And you will always be consciously and actively you.
So become what you are! Awaken to your true nature as the image of God Himself! Stop looking at yourself as a mortal. Start seeing yourself as an immortal! As we read in the New Testament: "We all, with open face beholding as in a glass [as in a mirror] the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Cor. 3:18).