Jules Cern, C.S., of Scarsdale, New York
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Many years ago, plans were being made to construct a bridge across a river. Two of the engineers were making a survey of the river lands to determine how high the water rose during flood times. They encountered a native inhabitant of the river lowlands, who had lived there over half a century, so they asked him if he could tell them the highest level the water had ever reached during flood periods.
The native borrowed a hammer and nail from them, walked over to a nearby tree, and without hesitation, reached up to a certain height and drove the nail into the tree. He stepped back, gestured to the nail, and said: "There ya are! The water'll never reach any higher'n that there nail."
The engineers were so pleased to have this firsthand information, that they asked the man, "How much do we owe you for your service?" The river man reflected for a moment, then replied, "Well, I reckon that'll be thirty-five dollars and ten cents." The engineers were somewhat amazed at such an amount and asked the man how he arrived at the figure of thirty-five dollars and ten cents. The river man readily answered: "Ya see, the ten cents, that's fer drivin' tha nail. An tha thirty-five dollars that's fer knowin' where ta put it!
Figuratively speaking how many of us seem to be well equipped with a hammer and nail, that is, the capacity to think, but we need to know where to put our thinking. Much too frequently we find that we have been hammering away at too low a level. Any thought that is nailed to matter is never high enough. It is never above the thought that there is matter. The thought that there is matter is never above the thought that there is something besides God, who is infinite Spirit. When one elevates his thought to the ALLNESS of Spirit, then he bridges the floodwaters of material thinking. When one lifts his thought to the true concept of man and the universe as being completely spiritual, then one avoids the driftwood of material discord.
As everyone knows a reliable bridge must be on a substantial foundation at both ends. One end may be on solid steel and concrete, but if the other end rests upon decaying wood, then the bridge becomes a treacherous support.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, saw what a treacherous support it is when one's thought rests partly upon the firm foundation of God's, Spirit's, allness and partly upon the decadent belief in matter. The Bible had always been a treasure to Mrs., Eddy, but now she realized that it must be spiritually understood. In order to pursue this understanding, Mrs. Eddy withdrew from all social activities. With open thought and expectant heart she studied, pondered, and prayed in her search through the Scriptures, and the inspired Word of the Bible unfolded to her. Her thought reached the heights of divine revelation, the reality, the Science of being. Through humility she attained it, and in humility she named it: Christian Science.
How did Mrs. Eddy know that she had reached the heights of thought? Because, through the spiritual understanding of God and man which had unfolded to her, she was able to heal and regenerate others. Of equal significance, those who accept her teachings and diligently apply them are also able to heal themselves and others of all types of disease and discord. Indeed, she had found the divine solution to every human problem.
Now one might inquire, "What are the teachings of Christian Science?" Let us briefly consider just a few.
With Biblical authority and inspiration, Mrs. Eddy beheld God as infinite Spirit, infinite intelligence or Mind, infinite Life, infinite Love, as All. That which is infinite, All, can have no opposite; otherwise it would be neither infinite nor All. Therefore infinite Spirit can have no opposite called matter. Infinite Mind can have no opposite, called mortal mind or many minds. Infinite Love can have no opposite, called hatred or idolatry. Infinite Life can have no opposite, called mortal life or death.
Now this does not exterminate man and the universe. It liberates thought from a false concept of man and the universe. The Bible declares in Genesis (1:27), "God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him." Christian Science explains that God being Spirit, He created man in the image of Spirit, not in the image of matter, called a mortal. God, being Mind, He created man in the image of Mind, a spiritual idea, not a corporeal being. God, being perfect Life, He created man in the perfect spiritual image of Life. He did not make him a material victim of sin, disease, and death. God, being Love, He created man in the spiritual image of Love. He did not make him a mortal originator or victim of hatred and suffering.
There is only one God, one Mind, there are not many minds or mortal mind. There is only one God, one Life; there are not many lives or mortal life. Most assuredly, there are spiritual reflections of the one Mind, the one Life. And these spiritual ideas constitute our true identity, our present, perfect, spiritual being.
Mrs. Eddy makes the oneness of God and the oneness of man with God very clear. In Retrospection and Introspection (p. 56) she writes "Whatever diverges from the one divine Mind, or God, or divides Mind into minds, Spirit into spirits, Soul into souls, Being into beings, is a misstatement of the unerring divine Principle of Science, which interrupts the meaning of the omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence of Spirit, and is of human instead of divine origin." And on the same page she states, "All consciousness is Mind, and Mind is God. Hence there is but one Mind; and that one is the infinite good, supplying all Mind by the reflection, not the subdivision, of God." A little further on she continues, "The sun sends forth light, but not suns; so God reflects Himself, or Mind, but does not subdivide Mind, or good, into minds, good and evil."
Accordingly, when man is spoken of in the Bible and in Christian Science as being the image and likeness or reflection of God, this refers to your true selfhood, to the true selfhood of everyone, but it does not refer to a mortal, corporeal human being. Man is always spiritual, a divine conception, not a mortal misconception. Consequently, physicality is not only unGodlike, it is unmanlike. Man is like God, only.
One might ask, "But how do you account for physicality and physical suffering?" It may be helpful to note that counterfeit money never is money at all. Regardless of appearances, regardless of how strongly one believes it to be money, it never is money. Now suppose someone accepted some counterfeit money, thinking it to be real, then discovered that it would not purchase anything. Would he suffer financially from bad money? No he would only suffer financially from believing that to be money which never was money at all, good or bad.
Similarly, physicality, good or bad, never is reality. Regardless of appearances, regardless of how strongly one believes identity to be physical, it never is. Actually there never is anything unlike God, Spirit. One does not suffer from being physical, or unlike God, Spirit, but only from believing himself and others to be physical or mortal. One does not suffer from mortal life or death, but only from the belief that there is a mortal life in the first place which can experience death in the second place; only from the belief that there is something unlike the one eternal Life, God. One does not suffer from mortal mind or minds many: only from the belief that there is something besides the one Mind, God.
At this point one might ask, "If Christian Science traces all suffering to wrong thinking, does this mean that Christian Science is like psychiatry and psychosomatic methods?"
The answer is that Christian Science heals every type of sickness and discord, but not through any method even remotely resembling psychiatry or psychosomatics, or any other human system. But let us see how it does heal. When one is confronted with mathematical discord, the alert, mathematician knows that it is not mathematics that needs correcting, but only one's own false thought about mathematics. In other words, the physical appearance of discordant mathematics is seen to be but a false mental concept of mathematics. When the false concept is mentally replaced by mathematical truth, the outward effect is mathematical harmony.
In like manner, when one is confronted, with physical discord, the alert Christian Scientist knows that it is not Life or man that needs correcting, or healing. It is only the false belief about Life and man that needs correcting. In other words, the physical appearance of discordant life is seen to be but a false mental concept of Life and man. Then, through humble and prayerful acceptance of the allness of Spirit and man's spiritual, perfect being, the false concept is mentally replaced by divine Truth. And the outward effect is health and harmony.
It does not take long years of struggle to attain the divine solution to every human problem, nor is it a complicated process. Let us see how simply the teachings of Christian Science were applied to the case of a very new student. He was on a train one night when he suddenly began to feel very ill. He became so weak he almost lost consciousness. As the train neared the city of his destination, the only thought he could hold to was, "If I can only make it to a phone booth to call a Christian Science practitioner to help me." After the train arrived, he did manage to get to a phone booth. As he waited for the call to the practitioner to be completed, he noticed a clock in the station, which showed the time to be long past midnight. Even though in great distress, the thought came to him, ''This is an inconsiderate hour to disturb anyone." And just as quickly another thought came, "But God's ideas cannot be disturbed." Then he heard himself saying: Why that's true about me! I'm really God's idea too! And I can't be disturbed!"
He felt the whole sense of weakness and pain suddenly vanish. He immediately hung up the telephone receiver without completing the call, and walked out of the phone booth perfectly healed. How grateful he was that just a little glimpse of the truth of God and man had enabled him to lift his thought above the whole human picture of something unlike perfect Life. The instant the truth was realized, the error was completely removed.
The grateful student of Christian Science naturally desires to unite with a Christian Science church or society, not because church membership is expected of him, but because of the desire to express his gratitude by helping others. What better way can he help to make Christian Science available to others than by active participation in the organization which helped, directly or indirectly, to make Christian Science available to him?
It may be asked, "How does one go about learning the teachings of Christian Science?" The answer is simple: Study, and practice what you study. The whole revelation of absolute truth of God and man is to be found in the King James Version of the Bible and in the inspired writings of Mary Baker Eddy. These may be studied, borrowed, or purchased in any Christian Science Reading Room. Also, they may be found in most public libraries.
The suggestion might come to someone: I haven't time to go to a Christian Science Reading Room. I'm too busy."
Many years ago, during the period the world calls the "depression", a young student of Christian Science who lived in a large city was in great need of employment. One Sunday afternoon he was out in the country and saw a beautiful sunset. As he watched the panorama of color, the thought came to him; "Now just look at that sun. It follows a regular and orderly course every day. I don't try to interfere with it. I don't try to outline where it should be. I let it alone, and trust it to fulfill its purpose." Then the thought came to him: "Now why don't I trust God to govern me with the same mental freedom I feel about the sun? Why don't I stop outlining where I should be and let God guide me every moment?"
The next day, back in his room in the city, he spent the whole morning studying and pondering the Christian Science Lesson-Sermon, which provides selections from the Bible and Science and Health to be studied each day. About noontime he went out for his daily search for a job. As he stood on a street corner, wondering where he should start looking, his eyes were lifted to a large glass window, bearing the letters Christian Science Reading Room.
He knew that the Reading Room was located there. In fact, he had been there many times. But on this occasion, when he inadvertently saw the window of the Reading Room, the first thought that came to him was: "Oh! No! You're not going in there! You've already spent the entire morning studying! Now you have to look for work!" But at that moment he remembered the sunset or the evening before, and he heard himself, saying aloud: "Here you are, humanly outlining again! You haven't the slightest idea where to go for a job, but you have had a definite leading to go to the Reading Room. Are you going to let God guide you or are you going to resist His guidance?"
Obediently, he went to the Reading Room and spent the rest of the day in humble, prayerful study of the Bible and the writings of Mrs. Eddy. When he left the Reading Room, it was too late to go looking for work, so he returned to his room. As he entered, he found a special delivery letter, postmarked late that afternoon. It was a request for him to report for work with a firm to which he had applied many weeks previously, but which he had completely given up as a possibility for him. It may be understandable why the Christian Science Reading Room holds a particularly warm spot in the thought of that student of Christian Science.
There is no substitute for daily unhurried study. But there is one requisite for fruitful study. When one opens his books, he must open his thought at the same time. It is far more helpful to study and ponder than to read and wander.
Now one might say: "I think I grasp the basic idea of Christian Science. It deals primarily with thought. Then wouldn't you say that Christian Science is mainly for mental cases?" Christian Science reveals that every case, even though it seems to involve matter or physicality, is a mental case. Now this does not mean that everyone with a physical difficulty is mentally unsound or mentally deficient. Not at all. It does mean that he is believing that there is something unlike God, infinite Spirit, perfect Life. And belief is mental. So every case of believing that there is something apart from and unlike God, called matter or physicality, in any form is a mental case, a false belief.
One might wonder: "But why is so much stress given to the lifting of thought above the belief in matter? Isn't it important to overcome hatred, lust, dishonesty, criticism, selfishness, fear, and other sinful qualities of wrong thinking?" It most certainly is, but to eliminate wrong thinking and its injurious effects, it is necessary to eliminate the basis of wrong thinking. The basis of all wrong thinking is undeniably the belief that there is matter or physicality. No one would hate unless he thought there was matter or physicality to be hated. No one would be lustful unless he thought there was matter or physicality to lust after. No one would be dishonest unless he thought there was matter or physicality to lie about or steal. No one would criticize unless he thought there was matter or a mortal to criticize. No one would be selfish unless he thought there was matter or physicality to cling to. No one would fear unless he thought there was matter or physicality to fear.
If one had a useless tree he wanted to get rid of, more than likely he would not cut it down one branch at a time. He would cut it down at the base. All wrong thinking, such as hatred, lust, dishonesty, criticism, selfishness, and fear, are but branches of the useless tree of matter and mortal mind. Thus we see that the basis of all wrong thinking about matter or physicality, is the-wrong thinking that there is matter or physicality. One does not eliminate suffering from wrong thinking through better thoughts about matter or physicality, but through better thoughts about God and man as Gods image. Being, humanly good does not give one spiritual understanding. But spiritual understanding makes one humanly good.
Indeed, Christian Science strongly emphasizes the importance of eliminating all erroneous thinking, since it underlies all human discord. Mrs. Eddy states in Science and Health (p. 405), "Christian Science commands man to master the propensities, to hold hatred in abeyance with kindness, to conquer lust with chastity, revenge with charity, and to overcome deceit with honesty."
How one might say, "All of that sounds very fine, but what good will it do in the hard knocks of the business world?" That is a fair question. Let us see how one man overcame a business dilemma by lifting his thought to the heights of divine Truth.
This man was general manager of one of the large retail stores in New York. And the store had shown phenomenal growth and profit under his management. However, the vice president of the corporation that owned the store had used every device at his command to take all the credit for the store's success. To further his purpose, he lost no opportunity to belittle the general manager and to blame him for every mistake that he could. After this had gone on for several weeks, the general manager began to lose confidence in himself. He found it increasingly difficult, to think clearly. He reached such a low ebb of self-distrust and self-depreciation that he began to contemplate suicide. He was not a Christian Scientist, but in desperation, he took the advice of a friend and visited a Christian Science practitioner.
The practitioner asked him if he had been honest in his work, considerate of others, and fair in his business ethics. The man earnestly replied that he had. He averred that he had done nothing wrong, and that he had been as honest and good as he knew how to be. The practitioner replied; "When you are expressing the qualities of good, you are expressing the qualities of God. If others fail to appreciate these qualities, it must be of no concern to you. Your only job is to express God. Whatever your activity or business may be, use it as a medium to express the qualities of God. Your reward comes from God, never from persons. It is of small importance what others think of your good works. The important thing is what you think of others. Because what you think has a direct bearing on what you experience. For example, if you were surrounded by mathematical dullards, all of whom believed that two and two are five, you would not suffer mathematically if you kept your thought on what is true about two and two."
The practitioner then read Mrs. Eddy's statement in Science and Health (p. 261). "Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts." He explained that all that is enduring is embraced in the allness of God, eternal Life. All that is true is embraced in the allness of God, infinite Spirit. Then he added: "Even though you may seem to be surrounded by mortals, who believe that man and the universe are physical, you cannot suffer if you keep your thought uplifted to what is enduring, good, and true about man and the universe. It is illogical for one to permit himself to suffer from another's wrong thinking, about mathematics. Then why should one permit himself to suffer from another's wrong thinking about God and man?"
The practitioner encouraged the man to trust divine Mind to unfold what was right. However, no one could outline just what this unfoldment should be. He assured the man that, by holding his thought steadfastly to what is true about God and man, the result would be harmonious. He would either progress where he now worked, or be lifted out of it into something better. He could not progress in his thought without progressing in his experience.
Then the practitioner quietly lifted his thought in gratitude to God. Holding his own thought steadfastly to "the enduring, the good, and the true," he realized that, in the allness of divine Mind there are no mortal minds, good or bad, right or wrong, weak or strong. There is no self-will, only God's will. Man's only identity is like God, completely spiritual. The only place is infinite Spirit, and everything in Spirit is right. Man, being always in Spirit, is always in his right place. There can be no wrong place. There is no rivalry in the allness of Spirit, and there can be no rivalry for man's place in it. God is All, and God is good, and man can never have less than the allness of good.
The general manager returned to his business with an unburdened happy thought. He lost all concern about a human present or a human future. He was learning to be mentally aware of the divine NOW. He found that he could look at the vice-president without seeing or feeling animosity. He regarded the appearance of mortal animosity as he would the appearance of two and two as five; as being nothing but a false thought. He refused to be influenced any longer by false thinking. He began to realize that the ever-presence of God, divine Love, means the never-presence of hatred.
Within a few days, two different firms offered this man positions, each of which far exceeded in every way the one he held. He gratefully accepted one of them, but before he left to join the new firm, the vice-president of the business he was leaving gave a banquet in his honor. The vice-president, in a speech before the guests of the banquet, sincerely acknowledged all the good the general manager had done for the growth of the business, and, in gratitude, presented him with a brand new automobile.
Mrs. Eddy has written in Pulpit and Press" (p. 3): "Can Love be less than boundless? . . . Know, then, that you possess sovereign power to think and act rightly, and that nothing can dispossess you of this heritage and trespass on Love. If you maintain this position, who or what can cause you to sin or suffer?"
Christian Science is not a battle with something unlike God. It is the divine revelation that actually there is nothing unlike God. So true salvation is not the saving of physicality from physicality. It is the lifting of thought from the belief in physicality to the truth that all is Spirit and spiritual, including man and the universe. Salvation is not a change from mortality to immortality. It is the exchange of belief in mortality for the truth of immortality.
Christ Jesus demonstrated salvation in its truest sense. His divine mission was to liberate human thought from believing that identity is mortal. What appeared to be a physical person named Jesus actually demonstrated the purely spiritual nature of man of himself and all men. Thus Christian Science explains the difference between Jesus and the Christ. In Mrs. Eddy's words (Science and Health, p. 482) "Jesus was the highest human concept of the perfect man." The Christ is the perfect manifestation of perfect Life. It reveals the eternal quality and condition of man.
Jesus loved man, the spiritual idea of God, but he did not love a lie about man, called physicality. When every phase of physicality is seen to be but some phase of mortal mentality, then the healing of what appears as physical discord will be more readily attained.
At this point someone might say: "Well, that sounds all right in theory, but what would Christian Science do about a case of appendicitis? Surely, you don't call that mental!" Let us see what Christian Science does with a case of appendicitis.
One afternoon, while at her work in a large business organization, a young woman was suddenly seized with violent pains. Seeing that she was on the verge of collapse, the company doctor insisted that she be examined by one of the finest surgeons in the city. The young woman was a student of Christian Science, and she asked that her mother be called. When the mother arrived, she was greeted by the surgeon who gravely informed her that her daughter should be rushed to the hospital for an operation to remove her appendix.
The mother very calmly asked her daughter if she wanted to have the operation. The doctor emphatically declared that she had no choice, if she wanted to live. The mother, still unperturbed, said that her daughter did have a choice and that it was up to her. The daughter unhesitatingly said that she would not go to the hospital and would rely entirely upon Christian Science.
Her attendance at a Christian Science Sunday School had helped to give her sufficient trust in the divine revelation of Christian Science to literally stake her life on it. She asked her mother to call a Christian Science practitioner to pray for her.
It may be appropriate to say that Christian Science very definitely heals through prayer. The healing prayer of Christian Science is the lifting of thought in grateful acknowledgment that God, perfect Life is All; and that man, including the real selfhood of each one of us, is His spiritual image and likeness, and therefore is perfect. The Christian Science prayer is not a doubting petition to God to heal matter. It is a joyous submission to the truth that God, Spirit, is absolutely All, and that there is no matter to heal.
It is never primarily matter or physicality that needs to be healed. The false thought that there is matter or physicality needs the healing. Accordingly, Christian Science healing is not a process of willing sick matter into being well matter. It is the willingness to let go of the false concept that there is any matter in the first place to get sick in the second place. How can one understand that there really is no disease unless he understands the unreality of matter to be diseased, to cause disease, or to experience disease? Referring to the method by which Jesus healed, Mrs. Eddy writes (No and Yes, p. 31), He healed disease as he healed sin; but he treated them both, not as in or of matter, but as mortal beliefs to be exterminated."
Consequently, when the Christian Science practitioner received the mother's call to help her daughter overcome the mortal belief of appendicitis, he wasted no time thinking about conditions of matter. He lifted his thought to the truth of being in order to exterminate the mortal belief that there is matter to cause appendicitis or a mortal to have appendicitis. He lifted his thought to behold man as God made him, instead of as mortal belief thinks He made him.
This does not mean that the practitioner ignored the various false beliefs about the case. Christian Science does not ignore lies about God and man; it exterminates them with the truth about God and man.
This truth enabled the practitioner to see that appendicitis is but another phase of the false belief that man is organic instead of spiritual. Names of disease are not various conditions of man; they are but various false thoughts about man. Thus, whatever is called disease, organic or structural, curable or incurable, is but a false thought about man's identity and condition. Consequently, the practitioner did not try to pray a physical organ into being perfect, nor did he try to see a physical organ as spiritual. He saw it as impossible. Because Spirit is All, he saw man's identity as being all-spiritual, not as spiritual physicality. He was reminded of these words of Mrs. Eddy (Science and Health, p. 83) "It is contrary to Christian Science to suppose that life is either material or organically spiritual." To presume that there are spiritual organs is but a futile attempt to use false beliefs as a basis for Truth. It would try to use matter as a model for the image of Spirit.
If one is faced with what appears to be diseased organs, it is of no help to pray for or think about organs that are not diseased. If one wanted to put out a fire of burning gasoline, it wouldn't be of much help to apply gasoline that was not burning. Similarly, if one would like to stop suffering from a belief of sick matter, it is of no help to believe in well matter.
When matter in any form, good or bad, sick or well, dead or alive, is seen to be nothing but a false thought about God and man, it loses its illusion of reality. All that can dispel a false thought, or illusion about man, is the truth.
Thus, the practitioner lifted his thought in joyous and grateful awareness of the truth about God and man, neither of whom is ever in trouble, He literally uttered: "Thank you, dear God, for being infinite, all-powerful, all-perfect Life. Nothing unlike You ever entered or coursed through Your allness. You are infinite Spirit, therefore there can be no kind of mortality, there can be no kind of disease, curable or incurable; no kind of death, gradual or sudden, pleasant or violent. Man is not a human victim of mortal infection. He is YOUR spiritual idea of divine perfection. All that operates is Your unerring unopposed law of harmony. There is no matter to cut out. You are all the Mind there can possibly be; so there isn't even a false thought to blot out. Your beloved idea is unknown as a mortal, unseen as a mortal, unbelieved to be a mortal, either individually or universally. Perfect Life is All this instant. Quicker than instantaneously, All is always perfect right now, right here, everywhere."
Within two days the young woman was completely healed of appendicitis. But that is not all. She had previously yielded to the argument that it was smart and popular to indulge in smoking. But with the uplifting of thought to her God-given freedom from a belief of material pain came an increased awareness of her God-given freedom from a belief of material pleasure. She was healed of smoking at the same time. Both of her healings occurred many years ago, and she has been completely free ever since.
If Christian Science seems radical to you try it! It will do nothing but bless you. It will never take anything away from you but your troubles. It will never deprive you of anything but your limitations. Through Christian Science alone may one understandingly and confidently lift thought to the height of God's allness and keep it there. The following words are from page 520 of Science and Health, where Mrs. Eddy keynotes the divine solution to every human problem. She writes: "The depth, breadth, height, might, majesty, and glory of infinite Love fill all space. That is enough!"