The Continuity of Good
Nathaniel Ridgway White, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Disruptive business and other
cycles should be challenged on the basis of spiritual law, Nathaniel. Ridgway
White, C.S., of
A former business writer who is now a Christian Science lecturer, Mr. White held that there is a spiritual law of continuing good which annuls belief in cyclical evil.
Mr. White spoke under the auspices
of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in
He spoke substantially as follows:
The ancient Preacher of the Bible asked, "What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new?" (Eccl. 1:3, 10). So the Preacher wouldn't have been surprised at the way we still cling - even in this age of scientific exploration - to much of our outgrown thinking. Especially to the superstition that our lives are governed by inevitable cycles of alternating good and evil.
But this belief should have been corrected long ago by the teaching of John, the disciple of Jesus. Some 1,900 years ago John wrote these powerful words: "God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him" (I John , 18; I John 4:7,16). We dwell in Love when we ourselves love, then God, ever-present Love, dwells in us. Love is never far away. Never fails, never changes, is always here.
But the human scene is often just the opposite. Hunger for affection goes unrequited. The hardness of the world often seems to leave love out. God's tender ever-presence sometimes seems far away. The human story abounds with tragedy. It's darkened with†† disappointment, clouded with fear, filled too often with superstition. Sometimes we're almost afraid to be happy. We often hear it said, "This is too good to be true."† This superstition, good promptly reversed by evil, characterizes too much of human history. It stems from some dark corner of fear in our thought, which needs enlightenment.
Ours is a scientific age. Surely we can dispel old fears and with clear eye scan our problems of today in light of a scientific perception that God is Love. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, tells us, "The cycle of good obliterates the epicycle of evil" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," p. 270).
As we hold firmly to this fundamental rule of scientific Christianity, that God is Love, we can begin to dispel some of the belief in cycles of alternating good and evil. Christian Science explains that God's constant goodness cancels recurrent evil. Let us see, then, what it is to dwell in Love, to see how an understanding of this unity of God and man dispels and dissolves anything unlike God, good.
All of us find it necessary to deal with the human belief in uncertain good and cyclical evil. Christian Science offers a practical basis for doing this. In her major work "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" - the Christian Science textbook - Mrs. Eddy writes: "Throughout the infinite cycles of eternal existence, Spirit and matter neither concur in man nor in the universe" (p. 319).
Of course, a cycle can be many things. One dictionary defines it as "a series of changes usually but not necessarily leading back to the starting-point." The cycle I'm talking about doesn't lead back to its starting-point. I'm not talking about a static inevitable fatalism. I'm not talking about a kind of numbers game, playing Russian roulette with our lives - expressed sometimes like this: "What's the use of trying to change anything? When your number's up, it's up." And I'm sure Mrs. Eddy doesn't mean any of these things when she writes of "the infinite cycles of eternal existence" and "the cycle of good."
My concept of cycle: forward movement in an interesting series of combinations. It's constant progression. Itís action. It's always forward - never backward. It's constantly new - perhaps picking up ancient, tried and true themes, but in new series of combinations, as it moves forward. It's never precise repetition. It moves, sometimes slowly, gradually, sometimes - if need be - rapidly. As it gains momentum, it includes lights, shades, colors, values, in ever new combinations.
Good, then, when thought of in terms of a cycle, isn't something that just repeats itself unchanged or comes back to its old starting-point. Good is constant, active, always gentle but firm, always operating, always present, always ours. It represents God's very presence and power, God's care for each of us individually. We might say that, as we learn to dwell in divine Love, love radiates from our individual unity with divine Love and that the cycle of good is gently moving our lives, dissolving all that would try to operate in reverse.
Do you see, good operates as divine light, as infinite radiancy which penetrates the darkened corners of thought, dispels, dissolves, dislodges the ancient sediments of doubt and fear and superstition, and floods these corners with light and love and healing?
But surely human history has often recorded just the opposite. Evil's negations, its recurrence, its reversals, all that Mrs. Eddy sums up in her phrase "the epicycle of evil," have seemed inevitable.
†Then where is good in all of this? How can it be said to control the universe? Where is the practical effect of the "cycle of good"? What has Christian Science to say about destructive forces?
First of all, Christian Science tells us about God, the source, creator, and sustainer of all good: that God is Mind, Principle, Love, and in divine Mind's infinite spiritual government of man, Soul. It tells us, too, that this Mind, Principle, Love, Soul is ours to express individually, as we learn that we literally dwell in this divine Love, Mind, Soul. This Principle is good. This Love never turns against man but tenderly embraces him, helps its precious daughters and sons in constant, undeviating good - good that doesn't come and go but holds.
In proportion as we understand this true concept of man, of ourselves as we truly are, and live by it, the epicycle of evil can be proved powerless. Whether it appears as destructive nature or destructive disease, it can be destroyed, its evil effects dispelled; and the superstition that recurrent, repetitive evil inevitably, fatally controls man can be ended - forever.
Let's take a look now at some of the cycles in the human scene.
First, the business cycle. One of the little known facts about Mrs. Eddy is her work with business people. She regularly included business people in her classes on Christian Science. They early learned what the effects would be if they could understand divine Principle, God, pure Mind, and the law of the Christ. Step by step, they would be freed from fears and superstitions. Their characters would be transformed and enriched with the qualities and graces of Spirit - unselfishness, generosity, humility. Their business, too, would improve.
Now it may not readily appear how this understanding could help men and women bring about better business. Yet this understanding has helped business people throughout the past century to counteract the cyclical beliefs about business.
A friend of mine had built a
successful company doing major business in the
My business friend - a Christian Scientist - accepted the general theory: This has been the longest forward business movement in history. Now it's time to slow down - maybe turn back! He let himself sink into his own mental depression. His business began to show loss.
My friend would have gladly sold his business at a sacrifice price for a million and a half dollars. But there were no buyers. He was ready to give up his business.
But then he began to "work" seriously in Christian Science. He began to reverse his mental position, his belief in his own personal depression. He realized that divine Principle is ever active, always available, always the source, the resources of man; that Principle doesn't ebb and flow, sometimes weak, sometimes strong; that Principle is constant, unvarying good absolutely supplying individual man with the idea, ideas, or combination of ideas he needs, that is, the answers for any given set of conditions. He knew there's never loss of good, that infinite good never runs thin, never goes dry, never tires, can't be consumed or brought to a terminus.
Most important of all, my friend began to see that he, as the son of this Principle, this Mind, included and participated in all of God's goodness flowing to man - not just a little.
In a year my friend's business recovered from a half-million-dollar deficit to a half-million-dollar surplus - a turnaround of one million dollars in a year. And he was offered six-and-a-half million dollars for his business, and he was sure he didn't want to sell. He was having too much enjoyment in his participation in the forward movement of his business under divine Principle, the progressive unfolding of divine intelligence in his life.
All of this took place for this individual Christian Scientist when the financial specialists, especially financial editors, were telling everyone, "There's a slowdown, a leveling off, a recession ahead."
Man is a full recipient, not a partial recipient, of infinite good, an active full-time participant in Mind's ever-presence, not a part-time participant. And as a full-time recipient of, good, a full-time participant in Mind's fullness, man individually includes the idea, ideas, or combinations of ideas in divine Science, which he needs to maintain forward momentum. Man's business cannot slow down, even if the entire human business scene is declaring otherwise. In her book, "Unity of Good," Mrs. Eddy tells us, "The talent and genius of the centuries have wrongly reckoned. They have not based upon revelation their arguments and conclusions as to the source and resources of being, - its combinations, phenomena, and outcome, - but have built instead upon the sand of human reason" (p. 9).
So we must be sure that we don't invent our own personal booms and busts. As individuals we can with wisdom from divine Mind, refuse to accept outworn beliefs about our business, our health, our careers, our supply; they were never anything more than beliefs anyway. We hold the responsibility for our own experiences. If we understand and apply to our business problems or any other problems the constancy of God's goodness, if we open our individual consciousness to the idea and to the ideas flowing to us in ever new combinations, we participate individually in this divine goodness.
In reality, Mind, or God, constantly expresses itself in man, in you and me, in our individual experience. The ideas of this Mind, appearing freshly to us in ever new ways and new combinations, give to each of us the answers we need for any given set of circumstances or conditions - when we need them - here, now.
Mind, divine Love, Principle, God alone, does not withhold from any individual the answers he or she may need. So each of us, as truly the individual ideas, the daughters, the sons of God, can expect to experience the constant appearing of good in our individual consciousness, the progressive unfoldment of our own lives in new dimensions of thought and action.
This progressive appearing in individual consciousness - in our spiritual and enlightened consciousness of divine Mind - is the cycle of good, the rhythm of Love, the radiance of Soul in our experience. We discern this progressive appearing of good in our lives as we understand the harmonious rhythm in which each of us participates as a daughter, a son, of God.
This participation in good is moment by moment. It's an awareness of individual unity with God, Mind, Soul. It's the natural rhythmic movement of our daily lives in exact response to the all-action of God. This is true no matter what the human scene is picturing.
The essence of our daily lives, the very fiber of thought, is this natural, moment-by-moment participation in the divine all-action. It's the very opposite of repetition, recurrence, returning to old starting-points. And we find it through the Christ.
A group of businessmen and research
specialists deliberated on policies for the
Three members of his Cabinet and many of his advisers were former members of this group which at that time was often referred to as a shadow cabinet.
In a final two-day session when these policies were under final consideration, the forces of reaction in the group won out over the progressive position of the moderates. The action taken would have urged the President and his administration to turn back policies which, up to now, had kept the general economy moving forward.
A Christian Scientist, an officer of the organization, recognized the emergency which was being created and the need to apply the understanding of God's all-action, all-wisdom, all-presence to the problem. He knew that divine Mind, God, is always active, constant, giving to man the idea man needs in the necessary combinations. And he knew that retrogression, reversal, countervailing negativism was not the law of divine Principle.
The Christian Scientist knew that the Christ, the true nature of individual man, is present at every conference table.
Christ Jesus tells us, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. ). The Bible abounds with the record of how the consciousness of God's presence was often "in the midst of them" in councils affecting events.
So here at this meeting, the Christian Scientist knew that the true nature of individual man, the Christ selfhood, was present in the "midst of them."
The Christ - the God-created and God-maintained nature of each individual† consciousness - is always present. No countervailing power can prevail in the presence of the Christ.
Christian Scientist prayed thus, a prominent businessman, a well-known
"business statesman," asked to be heard. The meeting was at
the point of adjournment. Up to this moment this businessman had kept silent.
He said only 19 words, the masterful words of Christ Jesus from Luke: "No
man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the
He took his seat, presented no other argument.
The group sat in stunned silence as the significance of their retrograde step dawned on them. A new vote was taken, the decision unanimously reversed.
The President and his administration accepted the policies proposed. And the Congress put them into force with hardly any change.
God's all-action cannot be denied. It cannot be set aside. It cannot be blocked. God's action never hurts man. It can only bless man.
The Christ idea penetrates closed doors - the
stubborn, closed, or adamant consciousness. The Christ is on both sides of
closed doors. The Christ idea prevails in the councils of men. In government. In the White House. In
The Christ, as represented in an earthly life by Christ Jesus and as explained in the Bible and in the teachings of Christian Science, means many marvelous things. For example, God's own communication to humanity; the manifestation of divine Love in individual lives, destroying everything unlike Love, unlike God; God's own true idea or expression in individual man.
This beautiful nature of the Christ, so tenderly shown to us by Christ Jesus, is man's own God-given nature. We can have the humility to accept from divine Love the nature God has given us. We derive our being from God. The source and resources of our individual being is Soul, pure, beautiful, lovely, divine. So our nature, our being, must in reality be - they certainly can be - pure, beautiful, lovely, divine.
Christ Jesus fully demonstrated the power of the Christ. He challenged the claim of recurrent evil wherever it confronted him. He faced it down, whether it presented itself as destructive nature, violent mental disease, deterioration of flesh, paralysis, blindness, deafness, or death. To him human beings were not matter-enclosed, matter-bound, matter-chained physiques. Individual human beings all represented to him their own pure selfhood, their own natural wholeness, their own expression of the divine, their own Christlike nature. He faced down the physical illusion that confronted him because he knew it was not real - not from the source of all reality, not from Mind, Soul, divine Love.
Because Jesus understood that God is Love and that dwelling in Love makes individual men invulnerable to evil from any source, he could do these works. Evil has no roots in divine Principle, no law, no agency, no identity. Having none of these, evil has no presence or power. Evil, being without Principle or God, is supreme nothingness - without power or control over man. It is absolutely nothing!
Now this isn't mystical or supernatural. It's hard, tight, spiritual fact, so tough that it can't be put aside. This tough awareness of the allness of God, good, divine Principle, appears in our individual lives as what Mrs. Eddy has called "the cycle of good."
This tough awareness of God as Love, Mind, Principle, as Soul itself, is an invariable in our lives, is law to our lives. In the proportion we accept and understand it, it assures us of invulnerability - also. In its more gracious expression, it assures us of joy and freedom.
Let me give you the simple but profound example of how a woman was healed of cancer.
She had accepted dullness, routine, overwork, daily drabness as an inevitable condition of her life. Let us say she accepted the cyclical appearing every day of boredom, drabness, discouragement. When the cancer growth appeared, her condition seemed helpless, hopeless, and her discouragement was very deep.
But a Christian Science practitioner insisted to her every day that she was beautiful, clean, and pure. The practitioner helped her understand why beauty isn't a surface thing. It's an essential characteristic of a daughter or son of God. How could divine Mind, pure Love, pure Soul create or express anything that was not pure, not lovely, not beautiful? Absolutely impossible.
As this woman progressively learned to value her own individual participation in Soul, the beauty of supreme good, as her own selfhood, she gained a higher understanding of her own individual expression of the Christ nature, her own wholeness, her own Soul-derived purity, and the growth fell away.
The best news of all is that her life changed. She learned to abandon the daily boredom,† drabness, discouragement, repetitive purposelessness, the epicycle of evil. Instead she learned what it is to live moment by moment in the all-action, the all-presence, the all-substance of God. She found her life new and exciting and outgoing. Wasn't this the discernment in her individual consciousness of the progressive appearing of good, the cycle of good, which obliterated the picture of disease?
Mary Baker Eddy's challenge to repetitive evil was made on the basis of this law of the Christ. From this basis her challenge was courageous and profound. She dared to face the anti-Christ - the world's belief in all-present, all-powerful evil - with her sweet confidence in the constant goodness and presence of divine Love.
Mrs. Eddy taught how important it is that we be constantly aware of divine Love's care for each individual of every age, every land, every clime. She tells us that Christian Science in its tender ministrations is itself aflame with divine Love, with the actual power and presence of the Christ, operating in human consciousness and life as the law of Love.
This is the strength of the gentle message Mrs. Eddy gives to us today out of the experience and dedication of a life devoted to God.
It hadn't always been so with Mrs. Eddy. At the age of 44 her life was severely restricted, insecure, her health bad. Her hopes for human happiness had been crushed. Although she had been reared in a happy childhood, she early lost all that was humanly dear. Even human love, appearing as it did in her life, was fleeting. She reached a point where the brightness of day and the loveliness of night, even the beauty of flowers, seemed to have passed from her experience. Her health was poor. In her poignant search for health, she explored the byways and canyons of mortal thought. She faced fear itself. She dared look at mankind's belief in all-powerful evil. And like the Master, Christ Jesus, she faced it down - to its ultimate nothingness.
It was during this search, whenever her physical life seemed threatened, that she participated in Mind's joyous expression of her own individual selfhood. She touched the true nature of her individual being. As she touched the nature of the Christ - the true nature of everyone as wholly spiritual - all the boasts of evil disappeared. She was healed of her physical difficulty. But greater still, she was launched on her divine mission to explain to all of us how divine Love heals and governs us - what it means to dwell in divine Love. She tested her findings in healing proof. And as she tested them, she set them down in thorough detail in her book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures."
Let's turn now to another phase of cyclical behavior - the strike cycle, the protest cycle.
Have you ever noticed how work stoppages seem to occur one right after another? It's as if they were a kind of industrial contagion. In like manner, social protests erupt in successive waves.
A strike of agricultural workers in the sugarcane fields had long extended itself. Harvest time was near. A management-labor stalemate appeared unbreakable. Negotiations had stopped. Neither side communicated with the other.
A businessman specifically concerned with the sugar company "went to work" on the problem in Christian Science. He enlisted the help of a Christian Science practitioner. Together they realized that the cycle of good was never, could never be blocked. That there was no inertia in Mind, no action, collective or individual, which could stop, block, set back, slow down, or retard the action of God and man, divine Mind and its expression, individual man.
At the time of the cane's ripening, the workers - without a word from anyone - went to the field and harvested the cane.
But the cycle did not stop there.
The management, without pressure, made the adjustments the workers had been seeking.
A mob was burning, looting, breaking windows in a suburban community. A Christian Scientist's property in the area was directly threatened. He asked for the help of a Christian Science practitioner. Together the Christian Scientists knew that the Christ prevails in each individual consciousness, that the Christ is the true nature, the true Mind of each individual, and the Christ nature, the Christ Mind, contains no conflict. They knew: The Christ prevails. The violence reached the opposite side of the street from the Christian Scientist's property - but the mob suddenly stopped. And a voice in the mob was heard to say, "This is getting us nowhere. Let's stop this nonsense." The mob disbanded. Since that time the members of this community have been working quietly to bring about order, renewal, revitalization to their neighborhood.
All things work together well in the cycle of good when individual man understands and applies its all-inclusive action to a specific situation.
The cycle of good operates as law to every situation. Wrong action - injustice - cannot survive in the cycle of good.
Now I've referred to the term Soul - spelled with a capital S - as a synonym for God, divine Principle. We hear a great deal about the word soul these days; but most of it is in an emotional sense with variations of joy and sorrow. Christian Science teaches that Soul, used as a synonym for God and spelled, as I've said, with a capital S, is the practical, ever-present foundation of true health, true beauty, true purity. True beauty, true purity, true health, belongs to individual man and woman as the sons and daughters of God, Soul, because Soul is their Principle, the Principle of beauty, purity, health, maintaining joy always.
Soul expresses itself in individual man in beauty, joy, freshness, newness, in sheer pure being. Obviously matter or physique - mere physical appearance or structure - has nothing to do with the individual beauty or composition of the daughter or son of God, Soul. Matter is but a subjective state of material thinking. Soul cannot include the slightest wisp of matter - thought, physical thought, or appearance. Matter-thought is nonexistent in the purity of Soul and Soul's expression, individual being. The real individual can have no element of matter-thought in consciousness. Soul, God's own individual being, is the essence, the realness of the being, the substance, of the real individual.
Actually beauty in individuals is their progressive understanding of constant divine good, Soul itself, as the essence of their being. Individual men and women, recognizing themselves as Soul's expression, become clearly transparent to good, clearly transformed, clearly transfigured. Their individual being is beautiful, holy, Christly and Godlike.
The practical effect of this understanding of Soul is illustrated in the case of a second woman who was healed of a cancerous growth. She was a superstitious, ignorant woman by human measurements, and she earned her living in nighttime drudgery, doing cleaning work no one else would do.
A growth appeared on her face, and someone who saw it gave her a copy of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" and copies of the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine published by The Christian Science Publishing Society. She read these hungrily. A sister learned of this and arranged for her to have the services of a Christian Science practitioner.
This practitioner talked to the woman of God's love for her. It must have been the first beautiful, lovely concept that had ever appeared in her life. Within two months after this first conversation with the practitioner, the growth dropped away. But the inspiration, the awareness of Soul, changed her entire experience.
Here again, this woman, like the first one I've told you about, learned the beauty of participation in her own individual divine selfhood, the very nature of the Christ.
It was their own individual awakening and daily awareness of the Christ, God's own manifestation of purity to individual consciousness, which healed these two women. Each one accepted with humility her individual Soul-derived, Soul-expressed, Soul-maintained, Soul-sustained nature, her pure unadulterated beauty.
Each of us can challenge the claim of recurrent evil in everything we do. We can remove the drabness of the daily rat race, the competitive fear of losing out. We can end boredom. We need not put up with mental or physical disease. We need not accept second-class citizenship, or third-, fourth-, or fifth-class positions in our society. We can recognize ourselves as the sons and daughters of God, Mind, the full recipients of God's constant goodness, the full participants in the holiness of our own being; and we can live by this correct identification of ourselves. Then we begin to enjoy all good, all spiritual substance - without fear that it will cease or be withdrawn.
This is to live in Love - to live in the divine unity of our life in God, Mind, to participate in the beauty and joy of ever-present Soul. To enjoy the source and resources of being, based on our divine Principle with its law of blessing to our whole experience.