What Governs You?
James Spencer, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
I went to the World's Fair in
The display consisted of a tall, rectangular, glass box. In the upper part of the box were numerous pegs that bounced little balls about the size of marbles into various channels. At the bottom of the box were fifteen thousand balls. These were carried by conveyor to the top of the box and released. Then each ball fell at random, one at a time, through the maze of pegs. When all the balls had dropped into the bottom of the box, they formed a bell-shaped mound.
Although the balls fell at random, and might individually fall into different channels each time, the over-all pattern was always the same. There appeared to be a law of probability, or percentages, governing the action of the balls which caused them to fall into the same pattern repeatedly. As I stood there, I began to wrestle for the first time with the concept of a law of probability.
To me, as a Christian Scientist,
law meant something exact, scientific; it also meant something based on moral
and spiritual values. The kind of law given to Moses in the
Ten Commandments. The kind of law referred to by the Apostle Paul when
he wrote to the Christians at
I was somewhat shocked to realize how much we have all accepted a supposed law of probability into our lives. Have you ever thought about this? How much we live under this theory of probability? Suffer under it, feel helpless under it? That rectangular box, for instance, might be the National Safety Council; the little balls, people; and the law of probability the prediction that a certain number of people will die on the highways over a specific period of time. Unfortunately, in general, the predictions have been accurate. This so-called law of probability has also been applied to predict the frequency of birth defects, heart disease, disability from age, business failures, immorality, crime, famines, and so forth. In effect, in one way or another, its dire prospects point a finger at each one of us.
So each of us does well to ask, "How much am I being governed by this so-called law? What can I do to resist it? Am I just one of the little balls in the box being pushed into this or that channel by percentages, or odds, or chance? What governs me?"
Isn't this a problem we're all facing? Sooner or later each one of us has to decide what governs him. So it should be worthwhile for us to devote the time we have together this evening to discussing these three questions: First, What is the popular belief about law? Second, What is the true nature of law? And third, What is our part in applying true law?
Changing Human Concepts of Law
What is the popular belief about law? In 1875, Mrs. Eddy brought out the first edition of her book now known as "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." This book contained spiritually inspired insights into theology, medicine, and the nature of scientific law as fulfilling God's exact purpose for every individual. The insights in this book were backed by practical demonstration, but they were too radical to find general acceptance. Since then, physicists have greatly changed their concept of law. But the gap between the physical and the spiritual concepts of law remains.
Physical law used to be commonly regarded as a very stable, neat little package. It was thought of as something which governed what would happen any time any where under a given set of circumstances. The behavior of every material particle – or atom – could, it seemed, be adequately described and confidently predicted on the basis of physical laws.
Then new discoveries were made which changed men's concept of physical law. For example, in the 1920's came Werner Heisenberg's "principle of uncertainty." His observations led to the conclusion that the precise fate of an individual particle could never be defined, however accurately we might state the physical laws involved.
This "principle of uncertainty" no doubt has its uses for the physicist. More questionable is the strong effect it has had and continues to have on general thought. It has undermined confidence in certain predictable causes and effects as regards an individual object or being. It has greatly strengthened reliance on the statistical approach to what happens.
In her book, "Exploring the Universe," Louise Young writes: "Some rules or generalizations have been found to have such a broad application and such a high degree of probability that they have been dignified by the term, Scientific Laws." So the popular belief about scientific law – or that which governs the physical universe – currently appears to be that the only certain things are probabilities and percentages.
But can this really be the nature of scientific law? Are we to live our lives under a concept of law that would make us like unintelligent balls in a box bounced back and forth by pegs of chance? Aren't there certain and unchanging laws which, when understood and utilized, maintain harmony, order, and health? Then wouldn't it be the most absorbing and rewarding study to understand these laws and come under their control?
Beliefs of Age Set Aside
Probabilities and percentages may be useful in their own appropriate fields. Christian Scientists don't underrate the contributions to human welfare which their use may have made there. But when a supposed "principle of uncertainty" comes to be accepted as law in many other areas, that's a different matter.
Now, let's consider, by way of example, two such areas – advancing age and psychological balance. Today increasing longevity makes the first important to many of us, while the stepped-up tensions of modern living make the second important to all of us.
Industry has generally accepted the reliability of probability and percentages. This has promoted the thought that at sixty-five a man is over the hill and ready for forced retirement; that he has a high probability of physical breakdown from age. The general public have gone along with the supposed fact that the individual can't do much about the physical breakdown from age. But is this a fact?
In 1965 one of the main speakers
at a national convention of doctors made some interesting observations. Dr.
Frederick Swartz, of
Years before, Mrs. Eddy was asked about overcoming the problems of advanced age. She answered: "In proportion as the law of Truth is understood and accepted, it obtains in the personality as well as character. The deformities and infirmities said to be the inevitable results of age, under the opposite mental impressions, disappear" (Christian Science Sentinel, May 1, 1926, p. 683).
Mrs. Eddy demonstrated her statement to a remarkable degree. When she was eighty-six a reputable and well-known newspaper editorial writer interviewed her. Incidentally he wasn't a Christian Scientist. After the interview he wrote; "Her figure is straight as she rises and walks forward. The grasp of her thin hand is firm; the hand doesn't tremble. . . . The sight . . . is that of a woman one-half Mrs. Eddy's age." He added that her face was "almost entirely free from wrinkles," that her "mind on all points brought out was perfectly clear," and that "her answers were instantaneous."
At a period of life when most people are thinking in terms of retirement Mrs. Eddy founded the Church of Christ, Scientist. Later, at eighty-seven, she took steps to establish and direct a daily newspaper – The Christian Science Monitor, a mammoth undertaking. She showed in her life that the popular belief about probable physical breakdown from age isn't a law at all; that statistical percentages and probabilities can impose no conditions of finality on any individual's experience; that each of us is not at the mercy of uncertainty, but that each of us is governed by the spiritual certainties of true law – God's law of good.
Psychological Law Set Aside
And now let's look at how these spiritual certainties can overrule human probability in another area – that of psychological disturbance.
Some years ago a man on a business
He told me he had suffered from an anxiety-depressive neurosis since he was fifteen. In other words, he was a neurotic. He had sought relief through auto-suggestion, group therapy, and many years of psychoanalysis; but there seemed no probability of his recovery.
He added that one of his former psychoanalysts told him if he ever attempted a cure for his troubles through Christian Science he'd lose his weather vane. I answered, "If by losing your weather vane, your analyst meant losing your fears, your depressions, and your anxieties, I can promise you, you will lose it in Christian Science." This struck a chord in his thought.
I explained that mere probability didn't govern him. Instead I told him something of the tender, healing, and certain nature of God's law. I assured him that the stability and foundation of spiritual law would support and sustain him. I illustrated this to him by explaining that an engineer builds a bridge in accord with the laws of statics – or stability and equilibrium. Broken law or misapplied law leads to an unstable and unsafe bridge. Properly applied law leads to a safe and secure one.
Spiritual law properly recognized, applied, and obeyed corrects the uncertainties, and stresses and strains in our lives that lead to physical, moral, and mental difficulties. It works for every single individual. I encouraged him to seek a clearer understanding of spiritual law by studying the Bible and Science and Health. He left and I didn't hear from him again until four years later.
Then one day my bell rang. I opened the door and looked at this man but didn't recognize him. He radiated health and happiness. It took several minutes for me to recall him as the dejected neurotic of four years before.
It seemed my statement about
losing his weather vane wiped away his fear of studying Christian Science. When
he returned to
Have you ever walked through deep mud with boots on? Remember how heavy your steps were as the mud stuck to your boots and weighed down your feet? But when you washed the mud off, you walked easily again. And you never believed the mud was part of you. It may have clung to you, but it wasn't you.
So it was with this man. He studied the spiritual laws that I've been speaking about. In this way he realized that his steps were heavy with the mud of false concepts. He had been fearful about life, about his purpose, his health, his income, his relations with others. He had felt these were all at the mercy of uncertainties. Now he found that he could wash away this heavy mud by relying completely on God's ever-available and sure law.
As his false concepts of law and government dropped away, he stopped fearing what others thought about him; instead he concerned himself with what he thought about others and about himself. He took the mud off his boots and walked freely. He found the mental poise and stability that come from relying on unchanging spiritual law.
Through understanding the spiritual certainties of true law this man had gained an entirely new approach to life. For him probability of evil and the so-called "principle of uncertainty" had been overruled.
True Nature of Law
Now, what is the true nature of law? The true nature of law is in spiritual certainties – not in probabilities or uncertainties. And as we gain a clearer understanding of the real nature of law we can all start life anew. Then we no longer believe we're being pushed here and there by blind irrational percentages like our little balls in the box. The only true law governing us is God's law, the certain law of good.
It's the nature of this law to be loving. In fact, divine Love is one of the names all Christians use for God.
Christ Jesus spoke of God as a loving Father. In the prayer he gave his disciples he began by addressing God as "Our Father which art in heaven." The father qualities of divine Love are strength, integrity, fearlessness, forthrightness, and so on. But Jesus also revealed much about God's mother qualities which include warmth, tenderness, kindness, compassion, purity, mercy and constancy. Mrs. Eddy repeatedly emphasizes God's motherhood in Science and Health and in her other books. She interprets the first line of the Lord's Prayer in this way: "Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious" (Science and Health, p. 16). As we gain a clear sense of God as our loving Father-Mother, we begin to really understand God's law of Love.
This Father-Mother Love is far different from what we know as the love of human parents. For instance, human love can make mistakes. It can be unwise. It can spoil or smother. Not so divine Love. Its law is constant in wisdom and application; it never makes a mistake. It is Principle. So divine Principle is a name Christian Scientists use for God. The law of Love or of divine Principle isn't affected by probability or chance; it states and maintains unchanging spiritual facts.
Divine Principle as a name for God also indicates Him to be the giver of universal law. Principle isn't localized, nor are its laws. Divine Principle is inexhaustible, ever-present, ever-available good. It's the source and sustainer of all law, and its law is divine Love that never varies, never makes a mistake. We see this ever-active, ever-available law of divine Love operate in many ways.
An incident like this points to God's law controlling His whole spiritual creation in love and mutual order. It points to His law of love endlessly expressing itself throughout His universe, guiding and governing.
True Law Subdues False Law
But then what of fear, ruthless self-preservation, and destructiveness? What shall we say of their expression often seen in nature as brutality and mortal struggle – the so-called law of the jungle? Could these possibly be caused by divine Love with its law of ever-present order and kindness? And what of the violent eruptions in nature that destroy homes by floods, ruin crops with blight, and destroy families by accidents and epidemics? These can't be the result of divine Love's law. In fact, they aren't the result of law at all.
All violence and catastrophe, whether in our homes or in the wider world, result from the acceptance of wrong concepts, mistaken beliefs; from belief in laws apart from God's law of good, in a power apart from the power of divine Love, in finite personal minds apart from the one divine intelligence, or Mind, God. The source of all these mistaken beliefs we call mortal mind. Chance and uncertainty are among its products. We need to identify this source of all evil, to correct mistaken beliefs with the true facts. Then we'll experience the protection of true law – what, as you'll recall, Paul called "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus."
This, in fact, was the experience
of Christ Jesus 2000 years ago. He identified the devil, or evil, as a liar,
just as we identify mortal mind as a liar. He didn't accept false lying concepts
of law into his thinking and so he experienced the dependability, availability,
and protection of God's law. In the wilderness he was safe among the wild
With his understanding of this same divine law Jesus restored health. It didn't make any difference whether disease presented itself to him as a malfunction of the system or an organic breakdown. He knew that the universe and man, as made by God, were spiritual; it was only a material sense of things and its false laws that called the universe material and disordered. So he corrected this lie with the true facts, with the law of divine Love. He also applied this law to heal immorality, insanity, and lack.
Why do we call Jesus the Christ or Christ Jesus? Because he understood the true facts of God and man and all things. His living was an unfailing expression of divine Principle, and his teaching was the word or message of divine Love to humanity. It was his consciousness of the Christ, Truth, that enabled him to say to the man with the withered hand, "Stretch forth thine hand." And the hand was restored. The Christ, Truth, isn't a personal possession. It belongs to all men. And for everyone who honestly seeks the truth of God and His creation and His law, the Christ acts as power. The Christ is ever-present, ever-available, unchanging Truth. It reforms and liberates, heals, protects, and saves. It enforces God's law of good, not on a percentage but on a universal basis.
Healing Through Spiritual Law
This same timeless divine law that overcame fear and sickness, and that guided and protected in Jesus' time, is the law of healing in Christian Science today.
This Science relies completely on the creative purposeful intelligence, which we call divine Mind, or God. It corrects false material thinking, or mortal mind, the supposed opposite of divine intelligence. This opposite, which we have identified as the source of all evil, attempts to impose its government on our lives. Science and Health brings out that it's this supposed mortal mind, not muscles, nerves, nor bones, that makes the body sick. "Mortal mind," Mrs. Eddy says, "is the worst foe of the body, while divine Mind is its best friend" (p. 176).
This false sense of mind is a fertile seedbed for fear, anger, selfishness, envy, self-will, deceit, and revenge. These seeds germinate in the soil of material thinking, push to the surface, and appear in the body as disease. Our need is to think the thoughts of the Mind which is God. To be whole, we must bring our thinking into line with this Mind – yield to the power, the laws, and the government of this Mind.
It's from divine Mind that the seedlings of joy, love, patience, understanding, fearlessness, honesty, selflessness, humanity germinate. These push to the surface and bring health to our bodies, order and progress in our experience. They work with certainty, the same for all.
When I was a boy in high school our basketball team beat our arch rival. After the game someone from the other school who resented our victory hit me in the face with a metal pipe. When I collected my thoughts, I began to resent the fellow. The more I thought about him, the more I resented him – and I felt I had a right to resent him. When others heard about it, they felt I had a right to resent him too.
Some weeks later I began to have some physical difficulties – aches, pains, and a rash. I went to see a practitioner – not about the resentment (I wasn't about to get rid of that!) – but because I was uncomfortable physically. But the practitioner got right to the root of the trouble and told me I'd have to get rid of the resentment.
As long as I cultivated a weedy seedbed of resentment, I encouraged the germination of false beliefs. In other words, I put myself under mortal mind's so-called laws. And I was suffering the effects of that thinking. But in that one visit with the practitioner my resentment against the one who had struck me was replaced with compassion for him. In this way I linked my thought to the divine Mind and its laws; I no longer allowed myself to accept a wrong sense of man. And in that same visit I was completely healed of the aches and pains, and rash.
I learned that divine law is good, loving, universal, and certain. I learned that anger, revenge, sickness – and actually all discord – are without law or force. And I learned that these evils can be corrected by the application of true law.
As we yield ourselves completely to the law of divine Mind, our whole experience will be governed by this law.
Our Part in the Application of Law
Now what is our part in the application of divine law? What can we do to be sure we're being governed by God's law and not by percentages, probabilities, or uncertainties? We can maintain an understanding of our unity with God that will demonstrate His government in our lives, and we can do this through scientific prayer.
Scientific prayer isn't a fearful approach to a foreboding power, nor is it calling out to a far-off God. It's the recognition of the ever-presence of divine Love. It's communion with infinite divine Mind as the only Mind there really is and a denial of mortal mind or any finite personal mind. It's not asking God to set aside law for our benefit – it's placing ourselves under His law. It's a point at which we yield up our false concepts of Him and His law. Such prayer is effective in our daily lives as this experience bears out.
At my first duty station in the Army as a Chaplain I was placed in an administrative position in the Division Chaplain's Office. After several months passed I felt discouraged because I wasn't assigned my own chapel and conducting pastoral activities with the troops. One day I sat in my office feeling quite sorry for myself and thinking, "I have something to give outside of an office position. Why am I here?"
I earnestly lifted my thought to God for an answer. I knew the answer was always available; I just had to listen for it. But we so often fill our thoughts with the static of our own will, and planning, and likes and dislikes that we can't hear anything else. This time I was able to clear out the static, probably because of my earnest yearning. I felt willing to do whatever God had for me to do if He'd just show me.
Then the thought came to me: "Express all the qualities of God's goodness you can right where you are. You're not governed by happenstance, circumstance, chance, luck, statistics, person, place, or thing. You're governed by God's unerring law of right direction." You know, I felt completely at peace. I felt no more agitation about wanting to be anywhere else. I knew that wherever I was, my mission was to express God's qualities. I no longer felt like a little ball trapped by the percentages of misfortune.
The rest of my time in that office was happy and profitable. But I wasn't there very long. Within a month I was transferred to my own battalion where I had my own chapel. You see, in my prayer I communed with God. I recognized the presence of His law governing every phase of my experience. And I was ready to let go of my own preconceived planning and allow myself to yield to His plan for me.
Prayer isn't willing something to be. It's becoming aware of what already is. Our constant declaration that the earth is flat won't make it flat. At the same time, our declaration that it's round won't make it round. It already is. So in prayer, our denial of the mistaken concept, and our affirmation of what the fact is enables us to remain aware of the truth. Finally this truth becomes clearly established in our thought and life. Then false concepts of God and man and law have no more power over us.
Mrs. Eddy's Discovery of Scientific Prayer
Mrs. Eddy spent her life gaining an ever higher understanding of prayer. As a child she took on the generally accepted concept of prayer as a petition to a God who would pass judgment on her request. In young womanhood her life was burdened by severe sickness, the passing of her closest loved ones, and by a hounding lack of means of support. But throughout her trials, her prayers enabled her to bear her sorrows and continue her search for a clearer understanding of God.
After she discovered Christian Science, prayer was no longer merely a means of bearing her sorrows. It was the consciousness of God's presence that removed those sorrows and proved the spiritual fact of God's law of love as operative and effective. Of this prayer she writes: "True prayer is not asking God for love; it is learning to love, and to include all mankind in one affection. Prayer is the utilization of the love wherewith He loves us" (No and Yes, p. 39).
Mrs. Eddy maintained a continual state of communion with God. When one of her pupils asked her how she healed the sick so quickly, she likened the conscious awareness of God's presence to having a violin in tune. Having to work up to that awareness is like having to tune up the violin. She said, "If your violin is in tune it is unnecessary to tune it up. Keep your violin in tune."
Prayer is the recognition of divine law that operates in our lives to move us onward in the practical, demonstrable utilization of divine Love's care and divine Principle's control.
Healing Long-standing Problems
As we commune with God in prayer, we'll gain clearer, more scientific views of Him and of His law. We'll know Him better as divine Love and be able to express more of the qualities of Love in our lives. We'll know Him better as Principle and Mind and be able to express more of their qualities in our lives. Then we'll be able to clean the mud from our boots so our forward steps will be freer and quicker. The seeds of wrong thinking will be eliminated: negative attitudes, bad character traits, self-centered thinking. Then we'll begin to think from a new basis; and we'll bring out the fruits of this thinking in health and freedom.
A Christian Scientist I know experienced a painful disorder for well over a year. He prayed earnestly about it and had occasional help from a practitioner, but the condition didn't yield. He searched his thinking. And he'd uncover a wrong thought, such as selfishness, or envy, and he'd say, "I've got it. That's the error that's been delaying the healing." He'd correct it, but there was no change in the condition. Then he'd continue to pray and uncover another error of thought. Perhaps this time it would be ignorance of some important spiritual fact or law. He'd correct this ignorance – still no change.
Of course, he didn't uncover these errors by just peering into the darkness of what was wrong. That would have got him in deeper. No. He did it by expressing more of God's qualities and by insisting that his thinking be from divine Mind. All during those months his thought was growing more spiritual. From this greater spiritual altitude and with greater spiritual light, he could identify clearly the errors that needed correcting. And he corrected them.
An observation balloon rises when it lets go of its heavy ballast. Just so my friend's thought had been rising as he let go of the heavy ballast of wrong thinking. And the more ballast he dropped the higher he rose. Discarded ballast can't follow the rising balloon. The painful condition – the effect of his ballast of wrong thinking – couldn't follow his rising thought. He never knew when his healing took place. He just realized one day that he couldn't remember when he had last experienced the physical trouble.
We can all let go of whatever ballast we're carrying. As we keep on our upward way, the heavy weights of physical or other difficulties won't be able to follow us. Through prayer we'll be applying the law of God. Then God's law will bless and govern us.
When we recognize our true nature as God's exact likeness, we'll see mortal mind's distorted view of itself isn't man at all. It's a misconception of man. Man's true nature – our true nature – is the spiritual expression of divine Mind, the upright expression of Principle, the pure expression of Love.
God's Law Is Available for All Now
The whole world, including ourselves, needs to know God's law as good and as governing all. Then we won't go through life being limited by disease or heredity – victims of percentages. We won't be afraid that some unseen hand of probability can strike us down any time we cross a street, or ride in a car, or fly in a plane. We'll be less prone to make mistakes. We'll aid in overcoming misunderstandings, and crime, and war. These misfortunes will continue as long as men consider themselves like little balls dropped into a channel by chance and moved along by a law of percentages. They'll go on as long as men continue to slosh through the mud of material thinking. They'll go on as long as men cultivate the seedbed of mortal mind, as long as they allow it to bear fruit by submitting to its so-called laws. BUT NO LONGER!
It's wonderful to know that whatever we've done, whatever we've been, we can confidently turn to the unchanging, ever-available, completely loving law of divine Love, our Father-Mother God. We don't have to go somewhere to find it. We don't have to be someone special to experience it. We don't have to satisfy some probability or percentage. We only need to turn to God's law, and love it, and live it.
The law of God, divine Principle, is always available, ever-operative, and absolutely certain. We only need to recognize it, yield to it, and mold our lives to it. Then it will govern our bodies, our homes, our businesses, and everything in our everyday affairs. Our lives will be protected, and inspired, and meaningful. It will guide each one of us to what best promotes his individual unfoldment.
As you and I become more spiritually mature and better human beings through the application of this law, we'll inspire others to be the same. Then we'll have better cities and better governments. And the farthest reaches of the world will experience the order and the freedom that come from living under this law – under the unerring government of God. It will lift us above probabilities and uncertainties. We shall find that it alone governs, directs, and purposefully controls every individual.
©1967 James Spencer
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