The Power Crisis and the Individual
Patricia Tuttle, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Individuals need to rely on
spiritual power in their efforts to heal community and other difficulties,
Patricia Tuttle, C.S., told an audience in the Circle Theatre,
A member of The Christian Science
Board of Lectureship from San Francisco, Miss Tuttle spoke under the auspices
of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in
Miss Tuttle was introduced by William Milford Correll, First Reader of The Mother Church. The title of her lecture was "The Power Crisis and the Individual."
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
Confronting a hopeless situation
A friend of mine was awakened about in the morning by the telephone. It was an urgent long distance call from her daughter. The daughter and her husband own a lovely boutique and they design and make dresses to sell.
The daughter was calling to tell her mother that they'd just been robbed. Twelve of the best dresses had been stolen as well as their iron and radio.
The police came and did what they could but they said there wasn't any hope of ever getting the dresses back. Well, the young people were really distressed. They didn't have a lot of money and to lose this merchandise was a disaster for them.
I don't own a boutique. And probably most of you don't either. But haven't we all been confronted with situations that have appeared just as hopeless? Aren't there times when we've felt victimized by a destructive force beyond our individual control?
Perhaps some of you right now are faced with what appears to be an incurable disease. Or unemployment. Or a failing business. Or an unhappy marriage. Perhaps addiction to alcohol or drugs is destroying your life. Or maybe you're plagued by loneliness or feel that you've lost all usefulness.
And even if our personal lives seem to be running pretty smoothly, we're all faced with the multiple problems of a technological society.
Many thoughtful people are convinced that disaster lurks just around the corner ready to wipe out the human race. And they say that you and I are powerless to do anything about it.
But is this so? Must we accept this gloomy picture? Must we live helplessly under a death penalty? Are we really powerless? No, we're not! We each can have unlimited power to fulfill the maximum potential of our human lives. We can be a constructive influence in the world. But how? What power is available to us?
That's what my friend was wondering when her daughter called. She asked herself: What power do I have to comfort my daughter? To help the man victimized by dishonesty and the city victimized by crime?
My friend knew that no matter what the difficulty, she always had access to an authority more powerful. Her power was her understanding of God. She had proved that a spiritual understanding of what God is and does is the most scientific, potent healing agent in the world today. This mental ray of spiritual light is more powerful than any laser beam. When focused on problems, it reaches right to the heart of every difficulty − neutralizes all that is destructive and harmful − and releases in human consciousness the energies of compassion, honesty, justice, and wisdom.
So my friend began to reason with her daughter from her understanding of these spiritual truths. She told her daughter to think of God as Father-Mother, as the divine Love or Principle or Mind that creates and governs man. She assured her that no one is ever outside God's love. Moreover, since everyone is God's idea, he manifests the intelligence of Mind, the integrity of Principle, the purity of Love. Not only was this the truth about her daughter and her husband but it was also the truth about the man who had broken into their shop − about every man everywhere. There are no exceptions. God doesn't create dishonest men or women.
Three facts about God
My friend emphasized to her daughter the importance of keeping in mind a spiritual view of everyone concerned and not giving any power in her thinking to evil. She quoted from the Bible: "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (II Tim. 1:7).
Later, my friend reaffirmed the truth in her own mind. She recognized the impossibility of Mind, God, expressing itself in any form of lawlessness − just as impossible as it is for the sun to express itself in darkness.
In the afternoon, the daughter called again and said: "You'll never guess what happened. Around in the morning a man rushed into the store, dropped a big box, and was gone! But in the box were all the dresses, the iron, and radio."
My friend had based all she said to her daughter on three facts about God. First of all, God is Spirit. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, defines Spirit in this way: "Spirit. Divine substance; Mind; divine Principle; all that is good; God; that only which is perfect, everlasting, omnipresent, omnipotent, infinite." This statement is found in the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 594).
The source, then, of life, intelligence, substance, and power is God, Spirit. Divine Principle, Mind, creates only good. Because Spirit is infinite and omnipresent, there can be but one source of existence, one supreme Cause or Mind operating in the universe.
Secondly, God alone creates man. Man is God's beloved idea, His manifestation or evidence of goodness. Spiritual ideas form and constitute his individuality. Therefore, man is entirely spiritual. He always reflects the consciousness and substance, the beauty, integrity, and power of his Creator.
Thirdly, God does not create evil. Nor does He create matter or mortality. Evil is not a part of true consciousness. Matter is not genuine substance. Mortality is not the true state of existence. Matter, evil, and mortality are mistaken human concepts appearing real and substantial only because of human ignorance of God, Spirit.
So you see, the spiritual knowing of one individual does have power. A spiritual understanding of God as Spirit, and man as His beloved idea, arms us to deal effectively with all that is destructive and harmful. And this mental power is available to each of us without limit.
What really causes our difficulties and makes us feel so powerless? Is it the establishment? The rising cost of living? Technology? Is it people? Your employer? Your neighbor? Your children? Your parents? Is it you? Your past? Your − well, you name it!
Material sense distorts perception
The basic cause of all misery is the kind of thinking that accepts matter as substance. Material sense contends that each of us is a physical organism made of matter, that we're living in a matter world, and that we're governed by physical laws and animal instincts beyond individual control. It supposes that matter is the cause of our life, our intelligence, our pain or pleasure, our power or helplessness.
It's this deep-seated mental conviction of matter's reality and man's materiality that oppresses us. When we think of ourselves and others as material organisms, we are victimized by the limitation of this belief. And the same limitation is experienced when we consider our environment in material aspects alone.
A classic example of how material sense distorts human perception is illustrated by a fact-finding committee that was appointed to make a study. It was to survey a choice piece of land and determine its suitability for settling a large number of refugees. The people had been promised by a reliable source that the land was ideal − had everything to be desired and the committee was to verify this.
The story of this committee is in the Bible. Of course, if we consider the Bible from a purely historical point of view, we can certainly wonder what relevance it has for us today. We can even, in fact, question its accuracy and some of the ways and means used to achieve goals. But the Bible is not just a book of historical events. Rather, its importance lies in the record it preserves of humanity's gradual discovery of spiritual power and the effect of this power on human lives. And it is from this standpoint that we are discussing this committee project.
The committee made a thorough investigation and presented their report. They all agreed that the land was excellent as promised, that it had everything they wanted and needed. They even brought back samples of high-quality fruit as evidence of the land's productivity.
But, in spite of all this evidence of good, 10 out of the 12 committee members were dead set against settling in the land. Why? Because there were problems! They saw all the good of the land surrounded by problems. The cities were walled. The inhabitants appeared unfriendly and hostile − almost like giants. Comparing themselves with them, the investigators reported, according to the New English Translation of the Bible, "We felt no bigger than grasshoppers; and that is how we looked to them" (Num. 13:33). And, they summed up their report by saying: "The country we explored will swallow up any who go to live in it" (Num. ).
Now, the two remaining committee members looked at the same land − but from an entirely different viewpoint. They saw the good; Oh, yes, they saw the problems, too, but their interpretation of what they saw led them to a different conclusion. They intuitively knew the problems could be solved and that they had ability to take possession of good. Caleb pleaded in his minority report: "Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it" (Num. ).
Why did Caleb have such a feeling of dominion and why did the others feel so overwhelmed? It was a question of their mental viewpoint − the lens through which they looked at themselves and their world.
In describing Caleb, the Bible says: "But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went" (Num. ).
"Another spirit" was Caleb's spiritual understanding − what he had learned of God's goodness and ever-presence. Looking through this lens of spiritual sense gave Caleb a right perspective of the situation. By making divine Mind a starting point for reasoning, Caleb expressed intelligence and intuition. Such qualities come from God, not matter. They are the elements of true power − the power of spirituality that enables human beings to fulfill every right unselfish goal.
The majority of the committee members made matter their starting point. And consequently, they felt powerless − no bigger than grasshoppers − swallowed up by the problems. The lens of material sense distorted their human perception so that they couldn't feel the power of God's presence. Nor could they envision fulfilling the promise of good in their lives.
That's what always happens when we make matter, instead of God, our mental standpoint. You know, looking at ourselves and our world through material sense is a little bit like trying to see a beautiful landscape through a thick fog. You just can't see or feel anything but the fog! Yet, the density and chill, the gray and gloom are all aspects of the fog, not the landscape.
And so it is when we try to understand spiritual reality through the fog of material sense. We may see ourselves and others as weak and inferior or maybe as too important and puffed up; we may see problems as gigantic or we may underestimate or be unconscious of them; we may see our promised good as faraway or impossible or even nonexistent. But fear, hatred, prejudice, anger, lack − even the problems themselves − always belong to material sense and not to us or to others. They are never a part of the real man or of his environment. As we gain an understanding of spiritual reality, we progressively refuse to allow material beliefs to be superimposed on the spirituality of our being.
But how to do this? How to gain spiritual understanding? We do it by gathering spiritual ideas. By spiritual ideas, I mean the living, eternal truths of God. For example, "God is Spirit." That's one. "Man is the expression of God." That's another.
We must stockpile spiritual facts
Because spiritual ideas originate with God, they have power to correct human misconceptions and transform human consciousness to the way of spiritual thinking. How important it is, then, to make sure we keep our stockpile of spiritual facts, of God's truths, growing.
Phillips Brooks, the 19th-century American clergyman, observed: "God has not given us vast learning to solve all the problems, or unfailing wisdom to direct all the wanderings of our brothers' lives; but He has given to every one of us the power to be spiritual, and by our spirituality to lift and enlarge and enlighten the lives we touch."
Isn't this the power, then, that we should all be demanding - the power to be spiritual, to reflect God's thoughts? It's one's individual spiritual understanding or lack of it one's state of consciousness − that either remedies human ills or is their cause.
Since the human mind can't invent or make up spiritual ideas, what awakens us to their presence? It's God's constant revelation of Himself and His purposes to men, divine Love's message to humanity, the ever-present Christ.
Christian Science makes a distinction between the human man, Jesus, and the Christ, Truth, or message that he presented. This is the way Mrs. Eddy explains this difference. "The advent of Jesus of Nazareth marked the first century of the Christian era, but the Christ is without beginning of years or end of days. Throughout all generations both before and after the Christian era, the Christ, as the spiritual idea, − the reflection of God, has come with some measure of power and grace to all prepared to receive Christ, Truth" (Science and Health, p. 333).
The Christ, then, is Truth, the spiritual idea of God and man operating to save human consciousness from materiality. It's the power of the Christ that awakens us from material beliefs and impels us to turn to Spirit. It helps us achieve spirituality.
Bible relevant to our times
When we let the light of the Christ turn us Spiritward, we experience humanity's coincidence with its divine Principle, God. We see that true humanhood rests upon God. We comprehend that God, not matter, is the source of our being, that God's ever-present love embraces each individual, protects him from all harm, and supplies him with all good.
Through the Christ, the human race has been and is steadily moving toward the full appearing of the ideal Truth of perfect God expressing Himself in perfect man.
And that's why the Bible is so relevant. It preserves for us some of humanity's first great discoveries of the Christ. Therefore, it's our best source book for that growing stockpile of spiritual ideas we all need. The spiritual discoveries of the early Hebrew men and women can help us in our own mental lift-off for spirituality. Building on spiritual ideas they discovered, we are able to make new discoveries of God's infinite love.
What an exciting breakthrough for us all when individual men and women began catching sight of their Saviour our Saviour. These early Hebrew truth-seekers of the Old Testament were pioneers in the technology of Spirit - in the understanding and appreciation of spiritual power to human needs. Through their primitive spiritual discoveries, they solved problems problems that were not so different from ours.
Throughout the Old Testament, we can trace the gradual appearing of the Christ-power in human lives and see the change in character and values it brought about. Each individual building upon the spiritual ideas already known, added his own discoveries.
Thus, gradually, the increasing power of spiritual understanding prepared the way for the full appearing of the Christ.
Human and divine coincide
Christ Jesus represents for humanity the clearest example of the coincidence of the human with the divine. His consciousness was so imbued with the truth of divine Love, with the Christ, that for Him the physical concept of matter was of no consequence. Because he understood that his humanhood rested on God and not matter, he had unlimited spiritual power the healing power of the Christ.
Through the power of the Christ, Jesus instantly healed people of their physical diseases. People were saved, too, from sinful habits which debased their selfhood. Whether the distress was physical or mental, social or economic, Jesus proved that the power of the Christ was supreme over evil and therefore the only effective remedy for all human misery.
Perhaps one of the greatest contributions Jesus made was lifting humanhood to a new level of dignity and freedom. He showed that man's whole purpose was to express God and to serve others. He established that the promised land we are all seeking isn't really a material place at all; it's a state of spiritual consciousness in which the understanding of God governs man's whole being.
Jesus is the supreme example of what one individual can do through the power of the Christ. Therefore, Christian Scientists with all Christians recognize Jesus as their Way-shower and identify him as Christ Jesus.
But this great continuing evolution of thought is gradually releasing all humanity from the mental concept of man as a physical organism; and you and I are part of it. Each of us has within his consciousness the seed of spiritual selfhood and this is our link with God.
To grow, the spiritual impulse within needs only the light of the Christ. It is the Christ that nourishes spiritual understanding by giving us the right ideas of God and man. And with the growth of spirituality, material beliefs begin to lose their importance. We express greater intelligence, more love, life, beauty, radiancy, power, goodness, purity all the elements that make up the substance of our true selfhood.
True Christianity is scientific
What a deep, inner joy and peace come to us when we discover that by nature, we are all really spiritual beings!
Through the Christ, we discover the delight of living and the peace and security of real freedom!
And this new-found joy isn't just a human philosophy, or a lovely dream. It's a concrete fact. We can really experience the coincidence of the human with the divine when we exchange thoughts of matter for thoughts of Spirit. When we know the Christ, we can say with Paul: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Phil. ).
A system that transforms human thought to a higher state of consciousness from materiality to spirituality must be truly scientific. And that is just what true Christianity is scientific.
I was discussing this with a chaplain at a large technical university.
He wanted to know why Mrs. Eddy used the word "Science" in connection with Christian. My answers didn't satisfy him until I explained that from the Christian Scientist's viewpoint there is only one genuine Science operating in the world today and it's divine Science the Science of God and His manifestation, man and the spiritual universe. I pointed out that only God's laws are unchanging; only the substance of Spirit is everlasting; only the power of divine Love is omnipotent; only man as divine Mind's idea is the ultimate of every human being. And therefore only divine Science reveals and explains these underlying spiritual facts the reality of our being.
The physical sciences, on the other hand, are dealing with matter, a phenomenon which isn't genuine substance, but impermanent, changeable, and elusive. Therefore, these sciences, whatever their limited and varying usefulness, can never be relied upon for final answers.
The chaplain agreed with me. And he commented that in bringing to light the scientific aspect of Christianity, Mrs. Eddy had added a new dimension to religious thought.
Mrs. Eddy didn't set out in life to restore the Science of spiritual healing to Christianity, but she came upon it gradually as she reached out to find a power capable of solving her problems.
She'd always been an original thinker and she also had the spirit of protest. Therefore, when confronted with a series of personal tragedies she couldn't resign herself to a state of helpless dependency upon others. The power behind her mental protest was an unswerving love of God and a compassionate concern for human beings. And her protest was against the religious doctrine that suffering was God's will.
Like anyone in search for healing Mrs. Eddy tried the available methods of her day. But none of them resulted in permanent healing. Intuitively, Mrs. Eddy felt that any lasting remedy had to be related somehow to God. Eventually, the answer came when she turned her entire attention to the Bible.
Gradually, the spiritual import of the Scriptures dawned upon her. She realized that the healings and wonders recorded in the Bible were not capricious interventions on behalf of special individuals at special periods. Rather, they were concrete evidences of the continuing operation of God's spiritual power in human consciousness and therefore in human affairs. And this same healing power had to be still available.
The moment came when Mrs. Eddy glimpsed the reason for this − the spiritual nature of all reality. It healed her, and as she further grasped the scientific laws governing spiritual reality, she gained the power to heal others through this spiritual means.
Mrs. Eddy recognized that, while healing is an essential aspect of Christianity and can't be separated from it, the most important role it has is to free mankind from all binding beliefs of material sense. From our viewpoint, Christian Science is the final breakthrough from a belief that matter is the substance of man and the universe to the knowledge that the real man and universe is entirely spiritual in nature.
Today, the minds of men seem almost wholly engaged with the subject of technology, and while we see its marvels and promises for the future we must ask this question: "Will the problems of technology outweigh the good and swallow up the inhabitants of the land'?"
Interpreted correctly, technology has an important role to play in man's progress toward a higher humanhood. But though the physical sciences can be useful tools, they alone can never put off all the limitations that are imposed upon us by the belief in matter. True expansion of the human consciousness depends upon spiritual development.
Prayer is spiritual reasoning
Pollution the bomb poverty are basically a result not of technological discoveries but of uncontrolled material thinking. Selfishness, self-will, greed, cause disregard for our human environment. A lack of wisdom causes us to neglect intelligent planning. Failure to love our fellowman makes the communication break down. And hatred is the real cause behind the misuse of human power. Destructive material thinking negative mental energy these are what prevent technological knowledge from serving mankind.
So, then, to improve human affairs we must concern ourselves with the quality of human thought our own individual thought. Real love for others means an unswerving commitment to our own spiritual self-improvement. To fulfill this goal we will turn to the only Science that can do what is really necessary, that can spiritualize consciousness the Science of Christianity.
But how do we spiritualize our thought? Why, through prayer. Prayer is the Christian's way of reasoning. We're praying when we quietly and humbly turn to God for spiritual information and let divine Mind reveal the wonders of His perfect creation. When we're striving to manifest more love and goodness, we're praying. And from an ever-increasing state of spirituality, the scientific Christian is able to utilize the constructive power of divine Love to help others.
A friend of mine had just such an experience. Through the power of prayer, he was able to put off limitations in himself and thereby found the power to help others.
He'd been a pilot and had about the best job a pilot could have. Prestige and material security. What more could he want?
He did though! He felt hemmed in. He thought the job was well was too narrow. He saw that material security and prestige wasn't the ultimate of human life. Service to others was what he really desired.
But what could he do? He had no other training. Flying was his life work. My friend knew that his motive to serve others was right and therefore he could depend upon God to fulfill his desire. So he left his job even though he'd no idea of what his next work would be.
Light when things seem darkest
After weeks of prayerful work, a job opened up with a small firm producing a high-quality product. His employer wasn't interested in his training but in the qualities of his thought. He needed a salesman to take over a large territory where sales had declined sharply. They'd lost most of their accounts because the previous salesman had been dishonest.
My friend took the job. Through prayer, he was able to express the intelligence needed to master all the technical knowledge.
Well, the problem of employment was solved. But my friend found himself confronted with two bigger ones. No one wanted his product because of their unpleasant contact with the previous salesman. Doors were rudely closed in his face. He was met with hostility everywhere. In addition to this dilemma, he developed a distressing physical condition. It caused him continuous pain and threatened to disable him.
My friend spent much time in daily prayer. He realized that he needed a higher spiritual understanding that would enable him to exercise his spiritual power. But, in spite of his sincere efforts, the situation grew worse.
And, then, when things seemed darkest, a turning point came. It was the end of the day a day that had brought no results. He had one more call to make. He was full of disappointment and discouragement and physical pain. Although it looked like the most unlikely place for a sale, my friend pulled up in front of a store.
Before going in, he sat in his car and reached out to God as he had never done before. He just asked to be shown what he needed to learn. Well, it was almost as if a light turned on.
All of a sudden, he realized that his whole approach was wrong. He was trying to sell material products to material people. He'd been outlining sales, trying to get something from somebody else. When they didn't buy, he felt resentful, rebuked, defeated.
Right then and there my friend saw his work in a new light. He recognized that God, not man, is the only source of all good. Man always has everything he needs because divine Love gives unlimited good to each idea. My friend saw that his whole purpose was to express God's ideas to manifest what God had already given him. He was in business to give evidence of service to reflect love, selflessness, honesty, integrity, kindness, intelligence. He didn't need to wait for somebody else to express these qualities first.
Deeper purpose of life discerned
Well, a great burden fell away. The Christ opened his thought to the higher, deeper purpose of his life and he felt the power of spirituality to fulfill it.
He made his first sales of the day and from that time on, the whole picture changed. Within two years, the sales had far surpassed the company's expectations. His physical difficulty, too, was healed. But these were really only the added bonuses. There have been many others.
As my friend turned to God for guidance, he became an expert in his field. Within five years, he was brought into the management of the firm and within seven he became an officer. With every new step his spiritual power to serve others in both business and community activities has broadened and increased beyond all his expectations.
You see, there's only one real power structure and its God and His manifestation, man and the universe, both spiritual. Divine Science reveals that each human being rests upon this wholly spiritual foundation.
As the Science of Christianity spiritualizes human thought, continuous change occurs both in ourselves and our world. Rigid, binding, mortal thought-patterns break up and drop away. The underlying power structure of divine Love becomes more apparent as thought conforms more nearly to God's perfect design. Mrs. Eddy explains change in this way: "Every step of progress is a step more spiritual. The great element of reform is not born of human wisdom; it draws not its life from human organizations; rather is it the crumbling away of material elements from reason, the translation of law back to its original language, − Mind, and the final unity between man and God" ("The People's Idea of God," p. 1:1-7).
We have seen that God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore, no power crisis can occur in the life of the individual who makes his first priority to understand God and who utilizes his own ever-increasing power to be spiritual.
The promised land of spiritual good and of human fulfillment is close at hand − as near, in fact, as our thinking, as our spiritual understanding. Shall we not go in now and take possession?
[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, March 20, 1972.]