What Controls Your Thought?
Nathaniel Ridgeway White, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
On Thursday evening, April 16th (1970) at 8:00 p.m., the following free lecture on Christian Science was presented at First Church of Christ, Scientist, Green Street at Lynn Falls Parkway, Melrose (Massachusetts).
Mr. White was introduced by Mrs. Dorothy Smith, Second Reader of the Church.
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
The word "control" stands for many concepts in our world. It's worth careful consideration. Doesn't our concept of what controls us directly affect our careers, our health, our usefulness to our fellowmen? We might say it actually sets and steers the whole course of our daily lives.
The Greeks had a word for "the steersman's art." They called the helmsman "kybernetes." Plato uses the term in relation to thought. Andre Marie Ampere, a French physicist and mathematician, used the word "cybernetics" in the early nineteenth century, to denote a means of governing people.
Today the word "cybernetics" aptly expresses some features of our society. As it's now understood, cybernetics is the science of communication and control by means of electronic machines, either in combination with other machines or in combination with human beings or animals. It attempts by electronic methods to model the functions of the human brain and its myriad combinations.
Most of us are familiar with electronic control devices. We're happy to make use of them. But there's a less familiar aspect of cybernetics which is a major problem of our time − mass control of thought.
Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin used mass control of thought to achieve control of their societies. Strict control of mass media − press, radio, and massed public assembly − enabled them to mold the course of history. This nearly led to the destruction of European civilization in World War II.
Today, societies in almost every part of the world utilize television, radio, and press to influence or control thought, partly because the very nature of the media invites this use. Skilled technicians can manipulate mental action; they can induce conformity of thought, expression, and habits, practically simultaneously, in many parts of a large country. At the same time on the credit side these marvelous systems are used positively to entertain, inform, enlighten, and aid. And the focused electronic beams of powerful transmitters bring the story of democracy and freedom to nations where the people are otherwise fed only what their rulers choose.
How these systems are used, and who directs their use − these are a problem of our times. Most of us will deny vigorously that we're under the influence of controlled thought. But do you find yourself humming a tune which describes how attractive a cigarette is? Or does a silly jingle about chewing gum hum itself to you and interfere with your thoughts?
This evening I want to talk with you about a control which will allow us to take full advantage of all the highly developed systems used today. But at the same time it will protect us against all forms of mental intrusion. I'm referring to the control of divine Mind, which Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, has designated as a synonym for God. She writes, "He who refuses to be influenced by any but the divine Mind, commits his way to God and rises superior to suggestions from an evil source" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 113).
Pure Mind is our only reliable guide. Today, as individuals in a free society we need to be spiritually scientific in our control of our general human environment and also of our own thought and experience. We gain this control over our experience as we understand the power and practicality of the Mind which is God.
Taking Mind as Our Guide
Let me begin this discussion by
giving you an example. It's a true story about a
Men early learned to navigate at sea by the sun and moon
and stars. But this old salt of my story found himself
in a situation where he couldn't use any of these. His ship was caught in a fog
so deep that from the bridge of the ship he could see neither bow nor stern. This
I read the story when I was serving
as a junior officer in the United States Navy in the
The account I'm referring to
appeared in a World War II issue of "Proceedings of the U.S. Naval
Institute" − a semi-official bulletin sent to all naval ships and
stations. It is accompanied by a chart of the ship's course, and is entitled,
"Navigation by Christian Science." The author, a retired
Captain Stott relates that he, as the Ensign Navigator, told his skipper in firm terms, as he was required to do by Naval Regulations, that he could not be responsible for the safe navigation of the ship under the conditions which confronted the vessel. But the skipper thought otherwise. Even though his navigator and his other officers protested to him vigorously not to take his ship through the perilous waters and heavy fog, he felt no anxiety about doing so.
A Daring Navigator
In his account, Captain Stott pays tribute to the old seaman in command as having been one of the most daring and successful navigators under whom it was his privilege to serve. He goes on to say: "Among his peculiarities was a strong belief in Christian Science as the means of solving all difficulties aboard ship . . . However if it was Science that enabled him to navigate the way he did, we had to take our hats off to it; and the trip in question I have never been able to account for in any other way than by believing that the skipper got an inspiration from something."
Then Captain Stott tells how the old seaman took a big wicker chair to the top of the pilot-house, with a copy of the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mrs. Eddy. Stott was left with the chart down on the lower bridge to estimate the situation as well as he could.
Let me read you what happened from Captain Stott's account:
"The skipper would occasionally look over the bridge rail and quietly remark, 'Port a point' or 'Starboard a half,' as the situation seemed to demand but so far as I could see without any reference to the lay of the land; for there was no land to be seen. . . .
"Finally the Captain said 'Stop,' then 'Half astern,' 'Stop' and 'Now look out'. . . In about a minute a dim shape loomed up ahead, and we made out the flag and stern of another ship and heard her fog bell.
"What is the answer? I have been asking myself that these many years. Of course, there was nothing supernatural about it. It was a splendid exhibition of absolute self-confidence, based on long experience and familiarity with the locality, and supported by a faith so absolute that it could not be denied."
The ship arrived in port, on schedule, to the relief and amazement of all the crew.
A Master Decision
Captain Stott's question, "What is the answer?" brings us right to the point of our discussion, "What controls man?" This is the all-important question. It needs to be answered practically.
Since the old salt was obviously a thorough student of Christian Science, he knew what Science and Health has to say about control and man's scientific relationship to divine Mind. This scientific relationship of divine Mind and man, when understood is the most exact, undeviating, all-encompassing relationship in human experience.
Science and Health gives the term "divine Principle" as well as the term "Mind" as a synonym for God. It makes clear that God, divine Principle, is without physical form, is supreme, and is endued with all-power, ever-presence, all-science or understanding. Above all, that this divine Principle is also divine Love, tenderly caring for and protecting its creation including every individual man or woman.
Since this is the nature of divine Mind, to rely upon it, to recognize it as man's only Mind, must have put him immediately and completely under the control of that Mind which knows all, understands all, and is unerring, exact, scientific, precise, available,
present. He apparently understood there is no possibility in ever-present, all-comprehending Mind, for the slightest deviation from the right course, and he could implicitly trust this divine Mind, this all-loving Principle.
The skipper relied from experience on his trust in divine Mind and on his own expert seamanship tested many times under Mind's guidance. So he could be sure of his judgment in steering the ship. He had no need to know the hazards. He only needed to know the right course.
He put himself under the direction of pure, unerring Mind. This was his master decision. This master decision directed all other decisions in his helmsmanship. That is the answer to Captain Stott's question.
Can We Also?
Can we, too, avail ourselves of this exact direction? Can we trust divine Mind's control, both in our daily living and in moments of emergency?
First, let's see what we know about ourselves.
We know that we're thinking individualities; we're mental beings. We determine what we do, how we act, by thinking. We make decisions − hundreds of them − each day. Many of them are so natural they seem to be automatic. A smile expresses thought. Just as does a frown. Enthusiasm is mental. So are apathy and despair. Laziness is mental. So are persistence and industry.
Some of us demonstrate our "cool," our poise, in difficult situations. We demonstrate balance in thought and action, self-control. All of us, I am sure, have had unexpected frights, and we may have seen or experienced situations in which extreme anger, or terror were present. But if we understood pure Mind, pure Principle, and our scientific relationship to this Mind, we can remain quietly confident that even these situations can be brought under control. Why? Because if divine Mind is all-power, any other appearance of power is illusory. There can be no second power able to create terror and confusion by opposing the all-power of Mind. Allness by its very nature has no opposite.
This spiritual truth is always operating. Divine Mind is never still, never absent, never distant, never baffled, never vacillating. Our individual recognition of this fact, and that this Mind is in reality our Mind, individually and specifically, can bring any situation under Mind's intelligent and wholly good, wholly loving, control.
Many of us like to elude the responsibility of recognizing mental influences and the need to accept or reject them. We like to pretend, for instance, that we're victims of conditions beyond our control. These may be the actions of others, hereditary influences, even occult or planetary powers, or the signs of the Zodiac.
Shakespeare in his play "Julius Caesar" pierces this tendency to shift our faults and failures from ourselves to some other action. Cassius makes the astute comment to Brutus:
"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings."
Since we're mental beings, we do have choices − choices over actions, over the directions we take. We hold the responsibility for ourselves. We cannot escape it. If we wish to enjoy right control, we must begin by doing a better job of deciding the kind of thought we accept or reject.
To do this we need to know more about divine Mind. And we'll be taking a clearer look at this Mind and just what it means to accept its control. But there's another point which we should perhaps consider first. I refer to the research that is well along, in this and other lands, in the automatic control of human beings.
Cybernetics and Thought Control
Today's cybernetics assumes the biochemical-electronic nature of the human physique. It attempts electro-modeling of the brain and brain functions. In an address on "Evolution of Physical Control of the Brain" at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, Dr. Jose M.R. Delgado, associate professor of physiology of Yale University School of Medicine (1965), told his audience, "In my opinion, it is necessary to shift the center of scientific research from the study and control of natural elements to the analysis and patterning of mental activities."
Dr. Delgado then explained the electronic influences on the living brain which can produce hate, anger, aggressiveness, as well as opposite reactions. He told how gentle animals could electronically be turned into vicious reactors. And how aggressive animals could be made gentle through electronic control.
When applied to persons, this cybernetic control takes on the role of substituting electronic direction for men's thinking, sometimes inducing thought foreign to their individuality. A tendency to experiment with so-called "mind expanding" drugs is closely related to thought control by electricity.
The most famous of ventures in mental cybernetics was I.P. Pavlov, the Soviet researcher in shock experimentation. Pavlov is generally associated with the Communist practice of alternately soothing the world into apathy and suddenly shocking it into numbness.
We're constantly subjected to some attempt at thought control in our society. Yet the very words "thought control," whether by machines or men, are abhorrent to free individuals. Brainwashing is a practice which, if applied, we would reject. That is, if we knew it was being applied. For this reason we need to be clearly warned against mental aggression of all kinds and know what to do about it.
We must credit the specialists in electronic and chemical control of the brain with the humane desire to help the human race solve its problems. But we must also be aware that this research can also be used, like atomic energy, for less worthy purposes. We can't always be sure that those who work in this field are guided by informed and right motives.
Defending Our Health
In view of all this we need to be on guard that we don't lazily subject our children or ourselves to mental aggression coming to the home through the mass media. We need to be alert on this matter of mental intrusion and aggression. We need to agree to disagree at once with the mental planning of those who promote intentionally or ignorantly, an unwholesome idea or product, sometimes even a disease.
Anyone in the public practice of Christian Science, or a medical practitioner, or a psychiatrist, can tell you of their own individual experiences along these lines. Following a broadcast that a certain contagious disease is abroad, the number of patients thinking they are afflicted with it often multiplies tenfold. A clever actor or actress on television, for instance, can make hay fever, colds, arthritis, headaches, tension, upset stomach, or weariness appear so real (to sell a drug as a remedy, of course) that people unwittingly take on the symptoms of the disease.
A few years ago
Another mother − this one a Christian Scientist − awakened one morning with the symptoms of polio and was almost completely immobilized. She was concerned for her three small children, and also that her husband, who didn't share her religious views, would rush her off to a hospital. But she at once recognized that she'd let herself become the victim of the propaganda concerning this disease. She managed to reach a phone and whisper to the Christian Science practitioner what had happened. This was about in the morning. By she was able to shuffle her feet to the kitchen to get her busy family off to school and her husband to his office. By then the problem wasn't even noticeable. And by she was completely free and able to go to the market.
The Christian Science periodicals abound with records of the successful way in which students of Christian Science have met and conquered disease of the most aggressive sort. Not long ago a dispatch in a widely read national newspaper spoke of the vicious nature of leukemia with the conclusion, "There is no known cure." On that very day the Christian Science Sentinel carried a testimony recording the healing through Christian Science, through spiritual means alone, of a child afflicted with the disease.
The mother of the girl wrote in her Sentinel testimony, "I was willing to allow my husband to pursue his own choice of treatment in our daughter's behalf; but when he became convinced that there was no medical cure for the illness, leukemia, he gave me full permission to rely upon Christian Science.
As divine Love was put into practice in my own life, the human need was met. A complete healing resulted, for the child, who graduated from college, has now been married over thirteen years, and is living a happy, useful life, active in the teaching profession."
The demand on all of us today − especially those who have long trusted in a supreme and good intelligence − is to be more scientific in this trust.
Faith in an unknown God is no longer sufficient. We can't base our lives on ignorance, on superstition, on fear or awe of the unknown, nor on electronic forces, chemicals, drugs or mere brainpower. These are uncertain, slippery, changing, unsafe.
We need to understand this and to establish ourselves in the firm, unerring, direct, immediate control of divine Mind. As we do this systematically and scientifically, that is, with alert understanding, we shall reject intrusive and tyrannical systems of control, the false impulses that throw us on the rocks of fear and doubt. At the same time we shall make proper use of modern control systems and cybernetic inventions. In this way we shall under divine Mind's loving direction hold firm control over our experiences.
Pure Mind Discerned by Mrs. Eddy
Only a few thinkers in Christianity's long history have discerned the complete unity of divine Mind and man as the scientific basis of thought and action.
Old and New Testament writers understood more of Mind than those of the age in which they lived. Early Christians, especially intimate students of Christ Jesus' teachings, such as John and Paul, perceived something of the scientific relation of Mind and man. But in our age, Mary Baker Eddy opened an entirely new dimension in the exploration of Mind and man's relationship to Mind.
Through many years of research and experimental practice, Mrs. Eddy tested mental power in healing human beings of every type of disease, physical and mental. Out of her great love for her fellowmen she pioneered in the understanding of divine Mind and in the demonstration of its control over man for good. In a period when men and women in many lands were challenging set thought-patterns, she experienced a mental and spiritual breakthrough which challenged traditional religion and medicine. Her staunch faith in God and His love for all was nourished from early childhood by her study of the Bible. And it was this that prepared her for the revelation and understanding of God as divine Mind, divine Principle, divine Love itself.
Mrs. Eddy herself was healed of an acute physical trouble at the time she made this discovery. In the light of it she learned how to heal others by spiritual means alone, and she wrote Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. In this book she shares her discovery with all mankind; and in great detail she points the way to its practical effects in better health, morals, and daily living.
Demonstrating the Mind of Christ
In her spiritual and scientific
researches Mrs. Eddy took Jesus as her example. The Apostle Paul wrote to the
Jesus taught his students to rely upon the ever-availability of our divine at-one-ment with God. This includes all of us today. The understanding of man's at-one-ment with pure Mind, divine Principle, is a practical, healing, governing power in our times. It is the unfoldment of the Christ. It is spiritual Truth correcting all belief in materialism and material control of our lives. So Science and Health defines "Christ" as the divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error" (p. 583).
The Mind of Christ, as Paul indicates, is also our Mind. So the nature of Christ − the true divine nature of Jesus − is also our true divine nature, forever with us.
What does this mean? Perhaps a small example will illustrate.
I had an ugly growth on a finger, another on a knee, and another on a shoulder. As children will do, a sweet little girl pointed to these one day on the beach and made me more than ever aware I had to do something about them. I knew that to be really and permanently rid of them the operation must take place in thought. I had to excise these from consciousness, where the base of the problem lay.
Mrs. Eddy writes, "When all fleshly belief is annihilated, and every spot and blemish on the disk of consciousness is removed, then, and not till then, will immortal Truth be found true, and scientific teaching, preaching, and practice be essentially one" (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 94).
I saw mentally and spiritually that the true Christly nature of man could never possibly have had any "spot or blemish on the disk of consciousness" and that, since this was true, there could be no spot or blemish for me to see or feel. These ugly blemishes left, and I have no idea when.
Healing occurs in every phase of the human experience when we understand scientifically that each of us is a participant in pure Mind's expression of its own nature. All the Christly qualities such as justice, equity, integrity, love, fidelity are qualities of pure Mind. So is unspotted purity of every kind. As the sons and daughters of Mind, its own precious, perfect, individual expression, we include and participate in all these qualities. And we express them humanly in patience, tenderness, unselfishness, gentleness, and compassion.
When we scientifically understand this control by the Mind of Christ, we demonstrate balance in our lives and guidance in our experience. This acceptance of the nature of Christ as our own true individual nature protects us from intrusion of false aggressive control and brings us fully under divine Mind's loving control. In the words of Science and Health, "Mind's control over the universe, including man, is no longer an open question, but is demonstrable Science" (p 171).
Mind Expresses its Control Individually
It is important that we understand a further basic point in our demonstration of pure Mind's control in our lives − that it must be done individually. This control cannot be achieved by our trying superstitiously to absorb or sponge on the demonstration of another or others, whom we believe to be nearer God than we are. For centuries many Christians in spite of deep-toned faith have been sorely tried, because their faith was based on another's goodness, not on scientific divine Principle. Mrs. Eddy writes, "God is individual, and man is His individualized idea" (No and Yes, p. 19). Each one of us must learn to individualize for ourselves the control of divine Mind in our own experience.
Man's individuality or identity isn't physical. In its true identity and individuality Mind's idea is wholly apart from and independent of matter in any form. Pure Mind cannot depend on anything so unlike itself as matter for its expression; nor can we as Mind's ideas depend on matter for our identity or individuality, whether that matter is called body or brains. The understanding that man's substance and intelligence are wholly spiritual and derived only from divine Spirit − pure Mind − enables each of us individually to make the master decision that places us under divine control. This guides to health and safety.
So, we need to be aware of the Mind of Christ and of our own individualized experience as original and unique ideas in this Mind. It's this awareness which enables us to participate without interference in Mind's unerring guidance and to experience Love's protection.
Pure Mind is the only exact, scientific, unchanging, undeviating power and presence. Pure Principle is the only certain control available to us. And pure Love never lets us down. When we comprehend God as pure Mind, pure Principle, pure Love, and ourselves as the individual ideas of this Mind, we demonstrate Mind's security in our lives. Mind, ever present, never absent, all-power, never weak or vacillating, embraces each idea, each identity, each son and daughter.
Each individual idea is vibrant, vital, active − usefully and happily expressing the divine nature in its own unique way. Can such an idea get out of its Mind? Or lose its Mind? Or pass out from the control of this Mind? Of course not. Pure Mind and its pure ideas are by their very nature: ONE.
Those two mighty ones − Christ Jesus and Paul − understood divinely mental power with its ability to direct and protect. Their recognition of it ruled out of their experience the possibility of destructive power. So today Christian Science teaches Mind's absolute control over all conditions of fear, all turbulence of hatred, hostility, envy, revenge, all belief in a mind apart from God. And when we accept divine Mind's control in our lives, every one of us can experience guidance, protection, and an absolute faith based on understanding. As did our old sea captain. And as did the young mother who was healed of the symptoms of polio. And as I did in my experience.
The teaching of Christian Science on this divinely mental control is most thorough − I can give you only a glimpse of it in this discussion. Its profundity comes as an individual revelation to each one of us, as we gain an understanding of the revelation that came to Mrs. Eddy. As she sums it up herself, "Mystery, miracle, sin, and death will disappear when it becomes fairly understood that the divine Mind controls man and man has no Mind but God" (Science and Health, p. 319).
The Way Ahead
In this closing third of the fabulous twentieth century, we and our associates dwelling on Planet Earth have high expectations that we may move rapidly toward freedom from merely earth-bound experiences, earth-bound navigation and travel.
I hope that we shall move no less rapidly toward freedom from the fears and frustrations of earth and from its physical and mental ills. Why not? Why should our thinking in moral and spiritual areas lag behind the discoveries of physics and technology? In Christian Science we have the revelation of the Science of Mind, of divine Mind. Why should we remain in ignorance of the freedom which divine Mind gives to every phase of human experience that is placed under its control? Why should we continue to believe in or submit to controls of fear, superstition, outworn creedal ignorance, and outgrown scientific and medical fashions?
Today we have the revelation of the Mind which is Love. This pure Mind can free us from every mental and physical ill − and lead us into all good, as individuals and as a society. This revelation tells us that as divine Mind's infinite, individual ideas, the daughters and sons of infinite intelligence, we literally dwell in the center of the universe of Mind, of divine Love. This is the true nature of man and it is this Mind that controls him. From this all-loving Mind radiate the new heaven, the new earth, the newness of the ever-appearing creation wholly and solely under divine control.