The Achievement of Spiritual Healing


Francis William Cousins, C.S.B., of Manchester, England

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts


The world should no longer be amazed at the achievements of spiritual healing, said lecturer Francis William Cousins, C.S.B., of Manchester, England, who addressed an audience in Boston on September 22.

Mr. Cousins, who is a Christian Science teacher and practitioner, noted that the strong effect of "mental attitudes" on physical conditions is being increasingly recognized.

"If we can see for a moment that all disease is mental and subjective," he said, "then we shall also see that such a condition can be reversed by replacing the wrong ungodlike thinking with the pure spiritual truth of man as the expression of God."

Our real challenge, he added, is how we can meet every experience of daily life with "the spiritual healing power of the Christ."

Mr. Cousins is currently on tour as a member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship. His lecture here was presented in The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, with an introduction by the Second Reader, Mrs. Rose M. Henniker-Heaton. The title of the lecture was "The Achievement of Spiritual Healing."

A partial text follows:

Hope of healing fulfilled

From your coming together this evening to hear this lecture, I assume you are interested in the subject of spiritual healing. It is possible that you, or someone in your family, have undergone a considerable amount of material treatment and may even be like the woman referred to in the Bible in Mark's Gospel who in spite of much material treatment "was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse" (Mark 5:26).

She had heard of Jesus in those days and came to him in the hope of spiritual healing. And she found God's healing power, expressed through the Christ. You will find after listening to this lecture that God's healing power is still present today, expressed through the Christ Science or Christian Science.

How did Jesus exercise this healing activity? In the case of the woman just referred to, he didn't ask her which form of material treatment she had had; and he didn't express, so far as we know, any condemnation of the physicians of her time — I'm sure he would have appreciated their efforts to relieve suffering. But he responded to her silent call for help and healed her. Then he spoke to her of faith, peace, and wholeness, encouraging her and quieting any fear that might remain.

When Jesus was faced with any kind of need, be it to meet taxation demands upon himself, to help his disciples solve their difficulties, or to heal some sick person who had come to him, he always had recourse to the Christ, to his understanding of the power and presence of his heavenly Father. He taught emphatically in all his healing ministry that the knowledge and understanding of God was the only way to health and happiness. For us today to consider spiritual means of healing it's obvious we must have a clear concept of what God is. John in his Gospel records these words of Jesus: "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, saw clearly the wholly spiritual nature of God. In the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," one of the definitions she gives of Him is this: "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love" (p. 465). I think we can agree that no one in the world need have difficulty in understanding this definition of God. During this lecture we're going to see how we can meet difficulties and solve problems by following Jesus' example. We can have recourse to our understanding of God. This knowledge of the divine nature, as spiritually and scientifically defined by Mrs. Eddy, can be used to bring spiritual healing into present experience.

Many of us have seen how people are affected by their own mental attitudes. At times of anger, or fear, these mental attitudes become expressed on the body. Similarly the ungodlike qualities of envy, jealousy, hatred, revenge, dishonesty, and so on, become expressed on the body. But, if we can see for a moment that all disease is mental and subjective, then we shall also see that such a condition can be reversed by replacing the wrong ungodlike thinking with the pure spiritual truth of man as the expression of God.

Such mental attitudes as jealousy and anger can't be destroyed by matter, a drug, for instance. But they, together with every kind of disease, can be destroyed by spiritual awakening. We need to see and understand the scientific fact that the very presence and omnipotence of God, divine Mind, leave no place for wrong thinking and its effects. This Mrs. Eddy discerned and demonstrated.

Wrong mental attitudes and their outward manifestations derive from the belief that life and intelligence are in matter and from the consequent acceptance of the physical senses as reliable sources of evidence. The five physical senses don't give us correct information on the subject of God, or man, or the universe. They only give us a picture or mental impression which includes much evil. Unfortunately men are apt to accept this picture. Actually they are only seeing their own incorrect thinking externalized.

Physical senses limited

Mrs. Eddy has written in Science and Health: "The five physical senses are the avenues and instruments of human error, and they correspond with error" (pp. 293, 294). We can't tell if a man is honest by using the five physical senses. One can't taste, touch, smell, hear, or see God with these senses. The senses don't tell us a single thing about the highest and only true good, spiritual good. Everything that the physical senses tell us, therefore, falls short of being truly good, and so it isn't to our spiritual advantage to rely on these senses for true guidance. Indeed, in order to heal spiritually we have to take specific steps to deny the evidence of these senses.

Even in human experience it's a matter of observation that physical sense is not capable of truly perceiving the highest good. Mrs. Eddy refers to this in Science and Health, when she says; "Sound is a mental impression made on mortal belief. The ear does not really hear. Divine Science reveals sound as communicated through the senses of Soul — through spiritual understanding" (p. 213). She continues in illustration of this: "Mozart experienced more than he expressed. The rapture of his grandest symphonies was never heard. He was a musician beyond what the world knew. This was even more strikingly true of Beethoven, who was so long hopelessly deaf."

What manner of person was Mrs. Eddy? How came it that she was able to discern the true nature of God, and then to demonstrate this understanding by healing the many sick people that came to her for relief from the impositions of physical sense? All this was possible because of the penetrating purity of Mrs. Eddy's thought and the persistence of her search for the healing truth.

The qualities of purity, perseverance, and patience, together with a deeper yearning for spirituality, enabled Mrs. Eddy to hear and respond to God's directing. She read widely in many fields but particularly in the Scriptures. She experimented with various modes of healing. Then when she was suffering acutely as a result of an accident, the light of spiritual truth dawned upon her consciousness, as she pondered the account in Matthew's Gospel of how Jesus healed a palsied man.

In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy gives us a scientific definition of man made in God's likeness, "Man. The compound idea of infinite Spirit; the spiritual image and likeness of God; the full representation of Mind" (p. 591). Nowhere in this definition can we find physicality or material sense. The belief of life, intelligence, and sensation in matter is what, as defined in Christian Science, expresses itself in material sense. This belief, this sense, is opposed to the understanding of God. It knows nothing of God, of man, as he really is, or of spiritual reality, and therefore it's completely unreliable.

Heart Ailment Overcome

Since God, good, is omnipotent and omnipresent, where can there be any place for evil? Orthodox religion of Jesus' time made God responsible for evil. When the palsied man of whom we have spoken was brought to Jesus, Jesus said, "Man, thy sins are forgiven thee" (Luke 5:20). The scribes and Pharisees objected, asking, "Who can forgive sins, but God alone?" (Luke 5:21).

But Jesus brushed aside their objection by healing the man. He showed that a right understanding of God and man destroys both sin and sickness. The true healer of both sin and sickness is the truth of God and man; the Christ, Truth, which Jesus understood, through spiritual sense.

This proof of the complete exclusion of both sickness and sin from God's realm came as a great surprise to the people of Jesus' time. Luke's Gospel, telling the same story of the palsied man, records that after this wonderful healing, "they were all amazed, . . . saying, We have seen strange things to day" (Luke 5:26). Mrs. Eddy also perceived the truth that the healing of sickness and sin is by the same process, namely by understanding through the Christ, Truth, the true nature of God and man. And people may be amazed today at the proofs that Christian Science is offering to the world, proofs that the correct understanding of God gained through spiritual sense can heal the sick and destroy sin.

I would like to tell you of a friend of mine who experienced a healing of a heart condition. She had been very ill, and had relied on Christian Science treatment, but her family were opposed to Christian Science. A relative who was an eminent medical practitioner visited her and offered to arrange and pay for the very best medical help obtainable. She appreciated this generous interest, but to quote her own words to me, "I told them that in face of their fears of my death I still could not contemplate ever descending from Principle (God) on which I completely relied." This was the turning point in her experience. As a result of her complete reliance on God, she recovered her health and became a very happy, joyful and enthusiastic worker in her home and in a Christian Science branch church, even at what many might call well past retirement age.

It is Christianly scientific to realize that neither evil nor matter has any place in God's man. All true being is spiritual, in and of Spirit, good. The development of spiritual sense is the way by which Mrs. Eddy has shown we can follow in the footsteps of our Wayshower, Christ Jesus, proving that the true understanding of God both reforms the sinner and heals the sick.

Let's consider what spiritual sense is. Mrs. Eddy says in Science and Health, "Spiritual sense is a conscious, constant capacity to understand God" (p. 209). Then again she says, "Spiritual sense is the discernment of spiritual good" (p. 505).

Neither of these two statements is beyond our ability to understand. I proved this to be true many years ago. I found that The Christian Science Monitor was printing on its Family Features page a small column headed "I Record Only the Sunny Hours" or, as regular readers of the Monitor usually call it, the Sundial Column. In this column are recorded original stories sent in by readers, or reprints from other newspapers, telling of kind actions performed by people quite spontaneously. One can read, too, of very thoughtful schemes prepared by people to help those who may be less fortunate than themselves. There are also stories of people's natural honesty in returning lost articles or money that may have been found.

Spiritual Abilities Exercised

I was intrigued by many of these stories and began to look around to see if any of these things happened in my experience. I soon found that indeed they did, and I began to make a record of these incidents and send them in to the Monitor, so sharing them with others. Gradually I realized that I was exercising my ability to discern spiritual good as manifested humanly; or in other words I was looking for the deeper truth of daily living instead of the superficial erroneous picture presented by material sense. I increased my activities along this line until I was exercising in ever-growing degree a "conscious, constant capacity to understand God." I was awakening to the possibilities of spiritual sense.

Nowadays I frequently suggest to others that they would do well to become aware of spiritual sense. And I often tell them that, if they don't know how to start, they can look around for incidents similar to those printed in the Sundial Column. I assure them too, that the Monitor would appreciate hearing about these incidents. Soon they find that looking for the expression of God is a very rewarding business.

It brings us great joy to find so much good around us. We begin to see our fellowmen expressing to us kindness and honesty, and other good qualities. Then our burdens seem to become a little lighter. The sun seems to be shining more often, and our general experience becomes happier. Very often those who have begun to look for good expressed by others find their own problems are solved and, indeed, that their own sicknesses are healed as they begin to think unselfishly and to consider others instead of themselves.

Perhaps I should make it clear at this point that the need to develop spiritual sense is a phenomenon only of human experience. The man of God's creating, the true man acknowledged in Christian Science, isn't engaged in a process of changing from his dependence on material sense to his realization of spiritual sense; he is already fully conscious of spiritual sense and this is his only consciousness.

Jesus Revealed Freedom

Many are awakened to see that the true senses of man are spiritual by the evidence presented in the Bible. But we can discover and test the same fact for ourselves in ways such as I have just outlined. Mrs. Eddy has indeed given us a clear and simple definition of spiritual sense by saying that it is "a conscious, constant capacity to understand God."

The development of spiritual sense demands sacrifice. But only sacrifice of material beliefs and their consequences. The endeavor to give up belief in, or reliance upon, matter in any form is necessary if we are to develop spiritual sense. Christ Jesus continually tried to liberate men from reliance upon matter. He condemned materialism, and helped his fellowmen to awaken from the dream of existence in matter so that they could understand and experience spiritual living. The reluctance of many to accept his teaching resulted in their prolonged imprisonment by matter and its restrictions or deficiencies. Jesus dearly wanted to free mankind from the chains of physicality, but they were blinded by their accepting the evidence of material sense.

As we begin to forsake reliance upon matter, we can refuse to accept the evidence of physical sense. We can instead allow ourselves to be governed by spiritual understanding. Then our experience becomes more harmonious. We're freed from error or evil; we manifest less sickness and unhappiness; we gain a sense of spiritual supply with its abundance of good; we express right constructive employment. In short we find that the use of spiritual sense brings us experience of all good. Mrs. Eddy says, "The central fact of the Bible is the superiority of spiritual over physical power" (Science and Health, p. 131). We can prove this for ourselves by demonstration. Through Christian Science, healing brought about by spiritual sense, by a correct understanding of God and of man, is as available today as it was in Bible times.

Now why do many people find it difficult to express the spiritual sense that discerns the healing Christ? Because they are deceived by the evidence of the physical senses. It requires spiritual energy to discipline oneself and thus put away reliance upon matter. The whole question is: Are we satisfied with what matter can give us today? Are we content to embrace the pleasures of matter that can never really satisfy? So, many find that the pains of matter soon outweigh its pleasures. Then the dissatisfaction which follows begins to make them look for substance in something higher and better than matter, and indeed turns their thought towards God.

Self-enslavement destroyed

Mrs. Eddy sums up this situation by saying in Science and Health: "Absorbed in material selfhood we discern and reflect but faintly the substance of Life or Mind. The denial of material selfhood aids the discernment of man's spiritual and eternal individuality, and destroys the erroneous knowledge gained from matter or through what are termed the material senses" (p. 91). When we begin to deny matter and to seek satisfaction through the contemplation of spiritual identity, spiritual substance, progress is steady and happiness is assured.

A young student of Christian Science was awakened from the illusion that he needed to indulge the tobacco habit. He thought that he enjoyed smoking, until one day he found he was suffering from a physical condition which he didn't enjoy, and which made him afraid. He turned for help to Christian Science. A practitioner faithfully used her understanding of God and God's spiritual universe, including man, to help the young Scientist. Soon he was healed of the physical condition and also of the desire to smoke. This healing of smoking came even though the student hadn't told the practitioner of the habit. To know and understand God's perfection and to see that man, His spiritual image and likeness, must also express perfection is likely to heal other evils, as well as the one immediately troubling the patient.

We find many passages in the Bible where we're encouraged to use what in Christian Science is called spiritual sense, instead of relying on the physical senses. The Psalmist says: "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord" (Ps. 121:1,2). In his moments of inspiration, looking away from material to spiritual evidence, he always found help. The 23rd Psalm makes clear that spiritual sense is needed in order that we be not, as it were, mesmerized by the doleful picture presented by physical sense. Here we read, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me" (verse 4).

Man’s true nature recognized

Jesus exercised spiritual sense to a supreme degree. In reading the account in Matthew's Gospel of the healing of the centurion's servant we see how Jesus went about restoring health by spiritual means — by an understanding of the nature and power of God. His immediate reaction to the centurion's call to him on behalf of the servant was to say, "I will come and heal him" (Matt. 8:7). Because Jesus understood that the knowledge of God was scientifically demonstrable, he could speak with this assurance.

But what about the centurion's part of the story? Jesus' instant recognition of the good qualities of the man, and of the sense of order expressed in this reply to Jesus, enabled Jesus to say of the centurion, "I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel." Jesus didn't visit the sick man, but said to the centurion, "Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee." "And," the account concludes, "his servant was healed in the selfsame hour."

Jesus was ever conscious of man's true nature, man's perfection as the image and likeness of God. His constant recognition of this reflection enabled him to accomplish the wonderful healings recorded in the New Testament. He taught emphatically that this healing work wasn't for him alone, but that his followers, too, could achieve these results. What a tremendous vista is here opened for us! The knowledge and demonstration of the spiritual fact of man's true nature as the expression of God, Spirit, enable us to bring to our fellowmen healing and regeneration as well as finding it for ourselves.

God, omnipotent and omnipresent Mind is expressed through the Christ. For ages there have been good and pure thinkers who by spiritual sense have been able to discern the Christ. Jesus did this in a much greater degree than did others, but there's no limit to the number of individuals who, in any age including today, may discern the Christ. Such individuals know that it isn't a question of time or age before one can express the Christ, but that it's a question of purity and clarity of understanding.

Mrs. Eddy discovered the ever-presence of the Christ in its spiritually scientific significance and she was able to tell in spiritually scientific terms of the Christ's true nature. In Science and Health, she defines the Christ as "The divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error" (p. 583). If the understanding of God comes to us and destroys the inner errors of thought that have appeared as outward subjective manifestations, this is spiritual healing. We avail ourselves of God's healing power through the Christ, or Christ Science.

Individual Christian Scientists are constantly maintaining their clear concept of God and they do this by the prayer of spiritual sense. They expect their prayers to be answered. They base their prayers on the fact of God's divine law which is ever operative and of which in prayer they avail themselves.

When Jesus was asked to heal the centurion's servant, he didn't ask God if he were willing to have the servant healed. Jesus didn't have to debate within himself whether God would consider that the man was good enough to be healed and saved. He knew that God is aware only of the perfection of every one of His children. The Apostle Paul was very clear and definite in his epistle to the Romans. He said he was convinced "that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:38,39).

Prayer based on such conviction can't fail to be answered. What we call answered prayer is really the discerning through spiritual sense of what is already the eternal fact of good and its consequent appearance in our experience.

God is infinite Spirit, wholly perfect. Therefore man, as God's exact likeness, must always express the activity and perfection of Spirit. This fact of the unity of God and man exists to be grasped by spiritual sense. But too often human understanding lies dormant. It needs to be awakened to spiritual sense and so replaced by spiritual understanding, The job of awakening the dormant understanding is seen by Christian Scientists as specifically the work of the Church. This is one of the functions of Church in human experience.

Mrs. Eddy defined Church

The function of Church isn't to help us ask God for some material thing or condition that we think will be good for us. Christian Scientists don't have that concept of Church. Their concept has been clearly defined by Mrs. Eddy. She speaks in Science and Health of Church as "The structure of Truth and Love; whatever rests upon and proceeds from divine Principle" (p. 583). Having given us this wholly spiritual concept of Church, she also speaks of Church seen as an institution in human experience to which you and I may belong. She says: "The Church is that institution, which affords proof of its utility and is found elevating the race, rousing the dormant understanding from material beliefs to the apprehension of spiritual ideas and the demonstration of divine Science, thereby casting out devils, or error, and healing the sick."

It's an interesting thing that, when an individual is roused to the point of apprehending a spiritual fact, he is healed by it. I would like to give you an illustration of this, showing that spiritual sense is as potent to heal today as it was in Jesus' time. It illustrates how one may deal with what the world calls juvenile delinquency.

A mother approached a Christian Science practitioner about her teenage son. He had been in bad company, and had committed acts that rendered him liable to prosecution, and maybe imprisonment. The practitioner asked to see the boy alone, and also asked the mother to cease dwelling upon, and speaking about, the wrong deeds accredited to her son. Although the young man was fully aware of the seriousness of his actions, he claimed, while not justifying them, that he seemed to have no control over himself when the temptation to err came to him.

The practitioner needed to see if the young man felt any sense of remorse for his acts, and this indeed was found to be there. Gradually the practitioner was able to lead the young man to see something that was apparent not to the physical senses, but only to spiritual sense. He was able to show him that the true man wasn't the creature that physical sense saw, wasn't the creature that seemed to be at the mercy of every temptation that mortal material sensuous thinking presented to him, but was the spiritual reflection of God. The likeness, the reflection, of God isn't guilty; he is not a sinner, has never departed from his original purity; and this spiritual fact is a law of redemption to the human concept of man called a sinning mortal.

Realm of harmony discovered

The young man perceived this spiritual fact and was much helped by it. The time for his trial came. Lawyers warned him that while they would do their best for him, they couldn't give him much encouragement as to the outcome. All day mother and boy waited in court to be called. The other cases dragged on; then in late afternoon (due perhaps to pressure of work) the case was transferred to another judge. The lawyers were apprehensive, for this judge was known for his severity in regard to this particular misdemeanor. But, completely contrary to expectation, the judge concluded the case quickly and with justice but also with great compassion and understanding.

The young man wasn't sent to prison; he was free. And the significant thing is, that his first remark to the Christian Science practitioner was, "Now I know Christian Science works." That young man has remained out of trouble and today realizes he need not be the victim of temptation or circumstances. When he said to the practitioner, "Now I know Christian Science works," he was acknowledging without realizing it the work of Church as understood by spiritual sense. He had seen a proof of the Church's utility in "rousing the dormant understanding" to apprehend spiritual truth.

As we continue to progress in the work of demonstrating spiritual truth, we quickly see that it's possible to meet all the problems of human experience by putting into practice the scientific truths contained in the Bible and Science and Health.

In order that we may accomplish spiritual healing today we need to understand God, and through spiritual sense apply this knowledge to human situations. This enables us to awaken from the illusion or dream of false thinking into the realm of spiritual reality, the kingdom of heaven, where true harmony eternally reigns.

The great example was set by Jesus when he said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me" (John 12:32).


[Delivered Sept. 22, 1966, in The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, and published in The Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 23, 1966, under the headline "Mankind challenged to attain spiritual healing power".]