How Do You See Yourself?

 

Georgina Tennant, 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

 

Real progress for mankind depends upon men seeing themselves as God sees them, according to a Christian Science lecturer.

In a lecture titled "How Do You See Yourself?" Mrs. Georgina Tennant, C.S.B., of London, told a large Boston audience that men must learn to see themselves in "the mirror of spiritual understanding" as God's loved son.

A member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship, Mrs. Tennant spoke last night in The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts.

"The mirror of spiritual understanding," Mrs. Tennant said, shows one his relationship to God. Explaining this figure of speech, she said it's obvious that one's reflection in a mirror does only what its original does. Since God is the one intelligent cause, she continued, man can be thought of as God's effect or reflection.

This understanding of God and of man's relationship to God as His reflection is the basis of a true sense of security and control in everyday life, Mrs. Tennant observed.

Man's relationship to God, she stated, is the most important relationship he has.

Gaining this new view of man, she continued, involves a willingness to let go of limited concepts. Jesus is our example in this effort, Mrs. Tennant said.

"Nearly 2,000 years ago Christ Jesus proved the presence and power of God as cause," she stated. His healing work, she said, destroyed the evidence of anything but the one loving, intelligent cause, God.

Mrs. Tennant quoted Jesus' remark "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" (John 5:17). She added that the healing power that comes from Jesus' concept of God and man as Father and Son, as cause and reflection, is available today in Christian Science.

The concept of God's law governing man was also discussed. God governs man through divine laws that overrule the harmful and destructive laws of matter, Mrs. Tennant explained. Those who listen for and obey God's laws experience freedom from fear, sickness, mental confusion, and weariness, she said.

"You will find through spiritual understanding," Mrs. Tennant remarked, "that only obedience to the will of God brings out the full stature of man."

A partial text of the lecture follows:

 

How do you see yourself?

If I were to stand in front of a mirror up here with my hat on and then ask for a volunteer from the audience to try to take my hat off my reflection in the mirror while I kept it on my head, would I get any volunteers? I doubt it.

It's obvious to all of us that a reflection in a mirror can do nothing but what its original does. But in asking the question, "How do you see yourself?" I'm speaking about a different kind of mirror. I'm talking about the mirror of spiritual understanding, the mirror that shows your relationship to God. Have you looked in that mirror lately? And deeply? It's the most important relationship you have. And it's what I'm here to talk with you about.

Mary Baker Eddy uses an arresting term for man's relationship to God. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science calls man God's reflection. This is the context in which I'm asking you to consider this question this evening. What is man's relationship to God? What is the relationship of the reflection in the mirror to its original? The term reflection can mean so much to you and me that we need to feel we can understand it, even if this is your first contact with Christian Science or if you're a new student. And the more advanced student of Christian Science is ever seeking its deeper meaning.

So, in answer to our question, What is man's relationship to God? I make my starting point an intelligent cause that has conceived and ordered the universe in love. We need to recognize God as our source or cause and man as His effect or reflection. Secondly, we can consider how an understanding of man as God's reflection brings security from danger and disease. And finally we can consider how an understanding of this relationship gives us control over our experience. Our first point then is that God, divine Love, is our source and cause; we reflect Him. The second is that an understanding of this relationship gives us a sense of security; and third, it gives us the opportunity to control our everyday lives.

 

False evidence destroyed

Nearly 2,000 years ago Christ Jesus proved the presence and power of God as cause. In his healing activity he destroyed the false evidence of any other than a loving, intelligent cause. He stated clearly that it was his relationship to God, his Father, his source and cause, that gave him the power to heal. You remember he said, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" (John 5: 17). The Father worketh - man's divine cause does the work - and His effect is seen as men and women everywhere meeting their own as well as their brother's need. Jesus used spiritual laws which have always been present - before his day as well as after. But it was to be centuries before human thought discovered them as Christian Science, and found them to be practical and universal.

It may be a help to use a familiar illustration here. You and I take our television set for granted and when we turn it on we may watch men walking in space. We look forward to a man on the moon and, what's more, to watching him from here. The intelligence which has given us television and spaceships has always existed; but human thought had to be progressively prepared to accept these inventions. We still, some of us anyway, look on these achievements as marvels or miracles. Isn't that how Jesus' works are still regarded - though he did say himself that those who believed on him should do the works that he did?

Human thought had to be prepared to let go its limited concepts in order that our modern inventions could come to light. Just so, human thought has to be prepared to let go its material point of view in order that the power Jesus used may be used again. The eternal ideas that come from Jesus' concept of God and man as Father and Son, or cause and effect, are still available to us and they have healing power. We need to shed our limited concepts of the power of God in our daily lives. Instead we need to open our thought to the control and freedom that divine cause gives to its effect, man - to its reflection.

This true idea of God is the Christ. It brings to humanity an understanding of God and of man and of their relationship. Jesus understood this divine idea so well that he is known as Christ Jesus. It was the Christ that healed the sick in Jesus' day; and, understood as Christ, Truth, it heals the sick today in divine healing. The Christ, the Truth and power that Jesus used, comes to you and me in the degree that we express God's nature, in the degree that we consciously live with God, as effect with its cause, in the degree that we understand ourselves to be the reflection of God.

 

Cause and effect found in Mind

From a layman's point of view we probably owe our television set to Marconi's discovery of how to use radio waves.

Just over a hundred years ago, in 1866, Mary Baker Eddy discovered the universal spiritual laws used in a degree by the prophets but more fully by Christ Jesus and his disciples.

Those of you who are familiar with the Gospels will remember that Jesus prophesied the coming of "the Spirit of truth" . . . who "shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14: 17, 26). Mrs. Eddy's discovery brings to us what Jesus said in a new and startling light - the light of scientific demonstration.

Mrs. Eddy herself was healed of the results of a serious accident through a glimpse of the universal spiritual nature of all things. This glimpse came after years of research in the Bible. She had intuitive faith that God could heal as He did in Jesus' day and among the early Christians. And she was determined to find out how.

Mrs. Eddy was a systematic, persistent thinker. And she prayed over her research. Studying, pondering, proving, she perceived that God is divine Mind, that all causation is in this Mind and all effect is mental. Christ Jesus speaks of cause and effect as Father and Son; and Mrs. Eddy speaks of them as Mind and idea. You know how anything must be conceived of mentally before it's created - a picture, a house, or a universe.

Mrs. Eddy had grown up in a Protestant church and had learned that God is Love and Life and Spirit and Truth - all names for God found explicitly stated in the Bible. But the revelation of God as Mind and man as His idea opened the way for her to a fuller understanding of God and of man's relationship to Him. Man was seen not as he seems to be - a physical personality - but as he really is - an individual spiritual idea, expressing God's thought, God's nature. Actually as His reflection.

Mrs. Eddy healed and taught and wrote her revelation in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." She designated the Bible and Science and Health as the textbooks of Christian Science. Because she saw so clearly the relationship of man to God, as effect to cause, she expressed divine Love in abundant measure. In nothing was this more apparent than in her writing of Science and Health and her founding of the Christian Science Church. It was out of deep love for her fellowmen that she pressed on in face of intense opposition to share with all the healing spiritual law she had discovered. She truly demonstrated in her long human life of nearly 90 years that, rightly understood, man indeed is the expression of divine Love.

What is perhaps humanity's greatest need, the need for love, is met by this recognition of God as Love - the intelligent, patient cause of all real love; To know God as Love itself and man as His reflection, expressing His love and conscious of His love, meets this great human need for love.

Divine Love isn't personal. It doesn't love one individual and leave others in the shadow of neglect or indifference. We can't truly love until we have wholly accepted that we are beloved, that God loves us. A personal sense of love so often brings unhappiness. It can be possessive or dominating or exclusive. It can even be frustrating. The understanding of love as originating in God who is Love itself, and not in a person or object, enriches our affections. It brings freedom and true companionship to human relationships. It brings love that is as unselfish as a sunbeam, loving because it is Love's expression or idea, asking nothing but to bless. It doesn't spoil those it loves but strengthens them and helps them to gain freedom from limitation. It is without fear.

To Love's expression all is love. To the sunbeam there is no encounter with darkness. It lights everything in its path, the flower, the beetle, or the pebble, even the cave's mouth. It doesn't discriminate. It just shines. Its relationship to the sun not only gives it ability to shine but causes it to shine.

 

Man reflects God

So in our true being, our relationship to divine Love not only gives us ability to love, but causes us to love everything in our path. We find when we know God as Love and accept His Love, we can never lack love.

God then is the only cause and man is His reflection. An understanding of this inseparable relationship gives us a sense of security that can be gained in no other way. Let me illustrate this out of my own experience. One day I was suddenly attacked by severe pain while on my way to stay with some friends in the country. After I arrived, the pain got worse. And all through the night, in spite of constant prayer, I heard each quarter hour strike on the village clock.

At seven in the morning the thought suddenly came to me so clearly: "But I'm God's reflection, I can't be attacked." I went to sleep at once and about an hour later awoke to the glorious freshness of a spring morning. There was no trace of pain whatsoever. "I'm God's reflection, I can't be attacked." Pain and disease couldn't touch me because it couldn't touch God. What proof of complete protection through a realization of the inseparable relationship between God and man! I've never had such a feeling of being spiritually washed clean.

It might help us to realize the exactness of man's likeness to God, nothing added, nothing left out, if we think of the mirrored reflection I spoke of earlier. How secure the reflection is in relation to its cause and how exact an image! Jesus said, "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise" (John 5:19). The reflection is unable to do anything unless the original acts first. Mrs. Eddy states the analogy in Science and Health where she likens divine Science to a mirror. She says, "Now compare man before the mirror to his divine Principle, God. Call the mirror divine Science, and call man the reflection. Then note how true, according to Christian Science, is the reflection to its original" (pp. 515, 516).

 

Right mirror, right reflection

Let me tell you what this analogy meant to me when my son went into the Army during World War II. I remembered a restaurant which had walls of mirrors. I had sat there with my back to the door, chatting with a friend while we waited for others to come. I remember how I had watched for the others in the mirror - confident I would see them arrive, and how I had observed their exact movements as they entered - all in the mirror. And the inspiration came: Why shouldn't I watch for my son in the mirror of divine Science?

Perhaps you're separated from someone you love. He may be with the forces in battle, or he may be struggling with sickness. Or the separation may be a mental one. How are you going to think about him? Why not watch him in the mirror of your understanding of God, as naturally as I watched my friends arrive in the mirrored wall of the restaurant? That was how I got my news daily of my son when he was in battle.

When I wondered how he was, I would pray something like this: "Well, he's the reflection of God. How do I understand God to be? God is Life itself. I know that, so His likeness must express life, now. The Bible often speaks of God's joy and glory; so His image must be happy. God has conceived the infinite variety and order of the universe. He must be whole, perfect; so man, His reflection, must be whole, perfect- that would be healthy."

Then I'd go on with my prayer: "The image of God reflects God's strength. How could it express weakness or weariness? God's likeness couldn't be bound by anything; it expresses freedom. As God's reflection, man isn't under any sentence or doom, because he can never be separated from God's saving health." I found that, as I thought like this, my fears were destroyed and I felt I was giving real support to the boy. He told me later how conscious he had been of this support, first in the field and afterward in a prison camp.

When we base our thought of those we love on their relationship with God we free them from the burden of believing that man is physical. It frees them from the effect of fears that they're in danger or going through a difficult experience or that there's a rift in a precious relationship. It restores them to their real identity as the children of God, inseparable from God's goodness, always cared for by His love. If you think like this too, you'll find that you don't get disturbed even if there are no letters. You get your news from God. After a bit you'll find that you have far more faith in the veracity of your news from God than in anything human thinking might tell you.

 

Universal law recognized

If we're enthusiastic radio and TV fans, if we listen and view seriously, we might feel that disease is inevitable. Can we find security from these threats? Can we find healing without recourse to drugs or surgery or electricity? Or to the ways of the human mind? Long ago, long before Jesus healed all that came to him, the prophet Jeremiah foresaw the need of healing by other than material means. "Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?" (Jer. 8:22) And later Jeremiah says, "Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise" (Jer. 17:14). All through the Bible those who had spiritual understanding recognized a universal law. We know from experience that this law still operates.

Christian Science expounds this spiritual law on the basis of the spiritual nature of God's creation and of man's relationship to God as reflection to its Principle. How could divine Spirit, divine Love, create matter? Out of what? How could Mind's reflection be physical? How could disease be real?

It is sometimes difficult for those who have a deep sympathy for suffering, and are only slightly acquainted with Christian Science, to accept that we deny reality to disease. But we heal on the basis of God, divine Mind, as the only creator, the only cause. Then, in our scientific terminology, we give the term reality only to what God has made - in other words to what reflects Him. If we allow reality to disease, what authority have we for destroying it? It would belong to God's creation. But if from the first call for help the Christian Science practitioner denies divine origin or authority to disease, he truly approaches his patients with tenderness and compassion - and so there's healing.

 

Receptive attitude speeds healing

It doesn't really matter what the type of disease is, but the mental state of the patient has to be taken into consideration; for it's in thought that reflection operates. Negative qualities, such as self-pity, resentment, ingratitude, delay healing. Jesus healed all that came to him, all that made the effort to leave their houses, carry their sick along the dusty roads, search in the mountains for the Messiah, the Saviour. When they found him, they were healed.

As we're dealing with states of thought, we can translate the Bible pictures of the crowds that sought out Christ Jesus into ways of everyday thinking. They're those who are prepared to listen - to obey and so reflect Mind's perfection - who are willing to leave their old material concepts, and persevere through the opposition of fear and of educated beliefs in matter as substance and life. They're those who are prepared to accept the simplicity of Jesus' teachings of the Father, divine Mind, who doeth the works. These are the ones who find healing. Let me just give you present-day proof of the power of Jesus' theology understood by referring you to testimonies of healing included in our weekly periodical, the Christian Science Sentinel.

There are testimonies of healing in other Christian Science periodicals too. They all point to the spiritual fact that man can't be diseased or injured if such conditions are unknown to Mind, the origin of his being. Nothing can happen to the reflection in the mirror unless it first happens to the original in front of the mirror. Nothing can happen to man as God's reflection unless it first happens to God. Herein lies our security.

Now let's consider finally what the understanding of man as God's reflection can mean to you and me in our everyday life - what opportunities it can open up for us.

When we wake up in the morning we probably - after perhaps overcoming our resentment at the alarm clock - think of what's ahead, either with happy anticipation, fear, or just boredom. But suppose instead, before we start our day, we spend a little while understanding and reaffirming what governs our day - the spiritual law of good that blesses universally. We can claim itís blessing for ourselves and for everyone we come in contact with. This way of thinking isn't just being optimistic. We don't ignore the evil that appears so prevalent in everyday life. We deal with it scientifically.

The Discoverer of Christian Science found Jesus' scientific method of dealing with evil is still practical and demonstrable. You may remember how in the eighth chapter of John's Gospel we have a picture of Jesus reasoning with a group of scribes and Pharisees - they were the letter-perfect and the ritualists. They had lost the simplicity of the law of Moses and the vision of the prophets.

We can visualize the picture in the bright sunshine, the colored cloaks and dignified carriage of the great figures of the temple, Jesus quietly teaching the relationship of man to God and how, if they would only believe him, it would make them free too. They didn't agree with him and scornfully rejected his teachings. He told them why they couldn't understand him - because they were of the devil, a liar from the beginning. In other words, their thought didn't come from God and so had no real cause. Have you ever thought how incisive Jesus was in his denunciation of evil as having no truth in it - as nothing. He denied it reality or power and he proved the effectiveness of this method. He destroyed disease and sin; he even defeated death.

 

Self-expression explained

If we deal with our day in such a manner before we set out on it, we can deal effectively with suggestions of evil that might possibly come into it; accident, contagion, friction, loneliness, resentment. We can recognize them as not coming from divine Mind, God, the only cause, but from the devil, the supposed opposite of the one cause. We deny them power to disturb our day, to make us do what we'll regret having done, or to blind us to things we should do and overlook.

Mrs. Eddy gives us a good word for the devil: error. As Truth is God, a supposed opposite for God would be error. And to understand evil by this term gives us a sense of possible dominion over it. We don't deliberately leave an error in our accounts; we know that, if we do, we shall get into difficulties. But through our recognition of it as wrong and our understanding of the right figure, we are able to correct the error. We destroy it and its effects. We can treat evil in the same way Ė scientifically - and with results. We can deny it reality and power since it doesn't come from God, from good, the only creator.

We've considered some of the blessings that come to all of us when we begin to acknowledge our relationship to God as His reflection - the reflection of divine Love and divine Mind.

Now there's no need for this understanding of God and man to lead us into conflict with the present-day demand for free self-expression. To submit to divine will doesn't detract from man's individual stature. On the contrary, you will find through spiritual understanding that only obedience to the will of God brings out the full stature of man. In proportion as we identify ourselves as God's reflection we reject a selfhood apart from God. Then we naturally experience the good that flows from God, divine Mind, to His idea.

Paul was certainly a man of stature. His discovery on the way to Damascus of the truth of Jesus' teachings, changed his whole life instantaneously. He had been on his way with a warrant from the high priest to destroy the followers of Jesus, when the blinding light of Truth humbled him and he said, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" (Acts 9:6). His mighty achievements that followed are a matter of history.

The universe of Spirit, of divine Mind, is really a new dimension, a new element. Just as the understanding of the basic laws of aerodynamics opened up the field of aviation and later of space, so the discovery of God as the one Mind, the divine Principle, has opened up the world of spiritual thinking, the element of true substance.

 

Opportunities come from Mind

In human experience we believe that opportunities come from our own personal ability or from other persons. Through the understanding of man's relationship to God, as the idea or reflection of infinite Mind, we find that opportunities come from Mind. They're included in our unity with God and are independent of external influence, money, or personal ability or good fortune.

If you're a student, for instance, laboring away on the basis that you're dependent on your own personal intelligence - think what this means. You find yourself like Paul on the road to Damascus, at the point of free choice. Are you going to labor on on your own, in your own way, with a limited sense of ability - or are you going to depend on your relationship to God and the reflection of the infinite capacities of divine Mind? This doesn't cut out the necessity for academic work, but gives you control over it.

Or if you're a housewife meeting the many demands of your family, you can find as you do all as God's reflection - or as Paul puts it, "to the glory of God" - that the chores take less time; opportunities are open for cultural and. intellectual growth, and there are fresh contacts. With home as your center your interests widen and whatever sense of burden there may be falls away. You're but reflecting the activity of God.

You may be one who has retired from your life-long occupation. Sometimes you may feel at a loss and lonely - without any purpose to life. But infinite Mind who conceived of the multitudinous objects of creation surely doesn't come to a stop in its unfolding activity. How can its reflection come to a stop? Through a growing comprehension of the spiritual universe you may learn what human activity it is that needs you. It may be utterly different from your former work, but full of opportunity to serve.

We all have free choice as to what we will do with our lives, how we will think. This is why we can let the spiritual understanding of God as divine Mind, Love, Life, Truth release our everyday lives from limitations of fear, lack, sickness, unhappiness. Isn't this what we really long for? The Science of the spiritual laws Christ Jesus used can bring us the practical dominion of works rather than theories. It can bring us the only security there is - the understanding of our relationship to God as reflection and how this relationship governs our daily living.

 

Manís heritage: health and security

A hundred years ago the feasibility of walking in outer space existed, but discovery and scientific practice hadn't made it possible. In the centuries since Christ Jesus' time the spiritual laws he proved were available, but not understood, so not demonstrated. A hundred years ago Mrs. Eddy's discovery of the Science of Christ, the Science of being and its power, opened wide horizons of usefulness to the human race.

To put one man in space took thousands of men and women years of study and hard work. Through the prayer, study and illumination of one woman came the discovery of the Science of Christianity which has healed hundreds of thousands of people from many races and religious backgrounds. It has changed the basis of their thinking from dependence on matter and the belief that it gives life and is substance, to the scientific understanding of God, of Spirit, and His spiritual laws - the laws whereby, through reflection, health, security and dominion are revealed as humanity's heritage.

Humanity's need is urgent. Only the coming of a spiritual era can bring peace and understanding and good to all mankind. Its coming depends on our spiritual growth - yours and mine - our conscious reflection of divine Love and intelligence. It depends on how clearly we see ourselves and our fellowmen in the mirror of spiritual understanding. So your answer to the question, How do you see yourself? is important - for you, for me, for all mankind.

 

© 1967 Georgina Tennant

All rights reserved

 

[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 17, 1969, under the headline "Man is governed by God through divine laws".]

 

 

HOME PAGE††††††††††††††† INDEX OF LECTURES