Life Without Lack (2)
Ada P. de
Mondino, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
I'd like to tell you a story I read when I was a girl. It was about an old nobleman who asked his three sons to choose what each wanted of his property. The eldest chose his father's castle. The second chose his father's lands because he wanted to become a powerful landlord. The youngest simply asked for his father's large library. It was knowledge he sought above all else. The others scoffed at him, though he seemed very happy with his choice.
Some years later an army invaded the country. The three brothers had no alternative but to run away. The two older brothers asked the youngest what he planned to take. And he answered: "You can't take the castle, nor the lands, but I'm taking what the books taught me. That's my part of the heritage and I already have it with me." Evidently the youngest brother was equipped to face the future with the knowledge he possessed.
Isn't mankind today going through an experience like the one the older brothers had? Why is this? Why are so many people in great need? Why is there so much hunger, poverty, unemployment? Couldn't it be because mankind individually and collectively is making the wrong choices like the two older brothers did? Choices made from a materialistic basis - fleeting, temporary, insubstantial?
To speak about a situation you know very well, this country is going through an inflationary process. My country has been going through a similar one for the last fifteen years. Inflation today is no longer a problem of a few countries. Inflation today is a world problem. It seems the world can't escape from the vicious cycle of rising prices and devaluation of money. Economists all over the world have thoroughly studied the problem. They explain its causes, know its results, but are they any nearer a solution?
It's time to consider whether the starting point of economic systems and their solutions to problems is adequate. Time to see whether the right choice has been made. Time to make an analysis - without prejudices or preconceptions. Time to decide whether matter is to be kept at the base of human economy or rejected in favor of God, Spirit, as the reliable source of all supply.
Christian Science brings to mankind's unsolved problems a new view of substance - a view known to the ancient prophets and proven by Christ Jesus. Christian Science shows us how we can let God direct our choices. It shows us how to turn to Spirit, God, as the unfailing source of good, our heritage.
As We Change Our Concepts of Substance Our Needs Are Met
Some years ago my husband and I proved that the effects of inflation can be overcome through Christian Science teachings. At that time our country went through the worst period of inflation we'd ever known. In only a few months the dollar almost doubled its value in relation to our currency.
My husband and I needed to travel to the
We did manage to save some money every month, but the rapidly increasing inflation made the buying power of our money smaller and smaller, and that reduced the amount of dollars we'd be able to buy. My husband and I had learned the importance of always trusting in God's goodness, but things looked very bad. Especially when we compared the expenses of our trip with the little money we had. Three months before we were to leave, the amount we'd saved was so small that it looked impossible for us to make this important trip.
We then wrote a Christian Science practitioner asking for help. A practitioner is a Christian Scientist who devotes his life to helping others through prayer. My husband wrote saying that even though he got up at 5 in the morning to go to work and worked 14 hours a day, he didn't see how he could save enough money for the trip.
As you can imagine, we were looking forward to hearing from the practitioner. What would he answer? So, when the letter came we read it eagerly. Can you imagine the look on our faces when we read we had to get up at 4 instead of 5? We were stunned!
But then we laughed. We realized we had done everything except what we most needed to - really turn to God in humble reliance on His power; to give that hour to prayer and study in order to better understand God as the true source of our supply.
My husband followed the practitioner's advice. He had no choice because he found he woke up punctually at four every morning without an alarm clock. We studied more thoroughly than ever before the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. And this proved to be exactly what we needed because we began to see lots of things we hadn't seen before, that our true supply didn't consist of money; that God, Spirit, is the source of spiritual ideas, not the source of money. And we realized that what we most needed were God's spiritual ideas, which in turn would lead us to a practical solution to our problem. This realization was prayer - prayer that reached out to God, Spirit, as our only source of good.
Substance Isnít Matter, but Spiritual Ideas
This prayer really opened our thought because we saw that God's ideas are already available to us in boundless measure. And they did come to us. We saw clearly that God is good and only good, that there is no evil in God because He is infinite good; there are no limits to God's goodness. And then we reasoned: Since God who is our Father is infinite good, He intends only good for His children. So we had to be glad to have this opportunity to better understand God's plan for us and to see that He would supply everything necessary to fulfill it. It really was a relief to understand that we were not responsible for that trip; that God was the only responsible one. So the only thing we had to do was to open our thought and see how God's plan was developing.
A few days later my husband was asked to do some special work to be paid in advance. This was enough to cover the expense of the trip. We were so happy! We had proved that God does meet every need. But what really amazed us was that when he went to receive the check, and without his saying a single word, he was paid twice the prearranged amount. His employers had suddenly decided they weren't giving him enough for the work he was to do.
We were so grateful! We had succeeded in demonstrating not only God's abundance but God's superabundance. "Well," we thought, "no more problem for us." This we thought. Because this wasn't the end of it. We had something more to overcome. You know, when my husband came home with the money he'd received I was overwhelmed! I'd never before seen such an amount of money! Do you know what my first thought was? "What a shame! All this money gone on a trip! And so many things to be done here! We could paint the house, buy some furniture, repair the car. . . ."
"What do you think about postponing the trip?" I asked him. "I know what you're thinking of," he answered. "I thought of it, too. But then I read something that made me change my mind. Read it, it'll help you." He gave me a copy of The Christian Science Journal, one of our Christian Science publications, and asked me to read a certain article. It pointed out that when we use money in providing for our needs, we mustn't think we're spending; because what you spend is gone, there is nothing left and it doesn't come back. Instead, we need to see there is a constant flowing of spiritual ideas emanating from God, and that we are part of that, that we are an active part of this permanent flowing of good emanating from God.
This made me think. And to understand better what the article said, I looked for an example I knew very well; and I thought of the sun, and began to compare. Just as the sun is the source of warmth and light, God, good, the creator of man and the universe, is the source from which all creation springs. Therefore man is always receiving and enjoying the good God is giving him - just as the sunbeam is receiving and imparting the light and warmth of its source, the sun.
It was a joy to understand that there isn't any breakage, no stoppage of this constant outpouring of warmth and light; and that there is no breakage, no stoppage either of the constant outpouring of good, which is manifested through man as God's expression, as God's activity. And as the sunbeam is reflecting the light and warmth which constitutes it, so spiritual man is reflecting the substance he is made of: divine good.
My thought was filled with calm
and a deep joy. We'd never think that a sunbeam is spending light. So I saw I
shouldn't think that we were spending money; but rather reflecting the good
emanating from God, the only true substance. This understanding of God's abundance
was so clear that it enabled us not only to take our trip, but also to paint
the house, buy the furniture, repair the car, and take an additional trip to
Spiritual Abundance as Infinite as God Himself
Our gratitude knew no limits. Not only because we could take the trips and paint the house, but because we realized this experience wasn't an exception, an isolated fact. We felt that in some measure we had followed the example of Bible accounts about lack being overcome through prayer and trust in God. We also felt we had followed in some degree Jesus' example when he fed the multitude. And since it's such an important event, let's talk about it.
As we all remember Jesus had been preaching to that multitude and he realized they were hungry and that it was too late for them to go back home - they had come from faraway distances. So, he decided to feed them right then and there. And the first thing he did was to have them sit on the grass, in calm expectation of the meal to come.
And he took the only food available - the few loaves and
fishes. Let's picture this scene, this large crowd sitting on the grass, on the
It's interesting to note that though Jesus perceived so clearly the abundance of God's spiritual ideas, he asked his disciples to gather the fragments left. There is no waste of spiritual ideas. This spiritual abundance includes wisdom and control to use it; and this also must be expressed in our experience, as Jesus did.
What should we do then when confronted with lack? We can follow Jesus' example. We can depend on God and know that since God is good and fills all space there can be no lack of anything good. Our fear and anxiety disappear when we know that God is actively taking care of us, of our family, of all our affairs, of our planet, of our universe. Looking to heaven, to God's infinite, abundant and spiritual creation we bless the situation we're facing because we recognize that it's being governed and protected by God who meets our every need. Then we can rejoice in practical proof of the fact that God's will is "done in earth, as it is in heaven" and that He does "give us this day our daily bread" (Matt. 6:10,11). This practical reliance on God's care is also expressed in the very first words of Science and Health: "To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings" (p. vii).
To lean "on the sustaining infinite" requires that we understand God as Spirit. Christian Science teaches us that God or Spirit is substance - eternal, infinite. God knows no other substance than Spirit. Therefore His creation is entirely spiritual. God's creation isn't made up of material substance, of material beings and objects, but rather of spiritual ideas. And spiritual man is God's highest idea because God's man is the individual expression of God able to manifest all of God's ideas.
And this is true for every one of you, for me, for every man, woman, and child everywhere. If we are thinking of the four hundred million hungry people all over the world, we can know that each one of them is the individual expression of God possessing the ability and capacity and power to express this unlimited spiritual abundance.
Spiritual Sense Reveals Spiritual Substance
Perhaps the moment has arrived to ask: But if this is true, why is the world so desperately in need? Because mankind is mainly looking in the wrong direction for the solution to its problem of lack, and as a result is always making the wrong choice, as the two older brothers I spoke of did. What can we do about it? In what direction must we look?
Jesus, like the youngest brother, made a right choice. He depended on God's spiritual law of supply. Do you think Jesus could have fed the multitude if he'd put his effort into counting the loaves and fishes? But isn't this what most of us do when facing lack - count our meager material resources? Doesn't this sound familiar? "My goodness! All we have to pay! This month's bills, and taxes, and the insurance is due too! Let's see: here is my salary, and my husband's salary, and some we have in our checking account . . .Oh no, we'll never do it!" You see, we are counting on our fingers; but we only have ten! Isn't this what most economists are doing when facing inflation or recession? Trying to find solutions in limited human resources but not really finding the substance that satisfies the need?
This wasnít Jesusí way. He didn't look to material forms of supply. Rather, he looked to what human eyes don't see, the infinite abundance of ideas in God's spiritual universe. How did he perceive them? Not through the material senses, but through what Christian Science calls spiritual sense. "Spiritual sense," says Mrs. Eddy, "is a conscious, constant capacity to understand God" (Science and Health, p. 209).
There are two important words here: "conscious" and "constant." This capacity is not a blind one, an unconscious one; no, it is a capacity conscious of its own existence and therefore active. It isn't a capacity that is here now and gone in ten minutes or that is here today and gone tomorrow. It is a constant capacity. We can say that spiritual sense is a constantly active capacity to understand God.
And the best thing I have to tell you today is that we all possess spiritual sense, that everyone of you, and I, every man, woman, and child possess this conscious constant capacity to understand God. And we can prove it, right now, because spiritual sense shows us the difference between spiritual ideas and material objects. We are going to see this difference, thus proving we all possess spiritual sense.
Material objects have limits, a beginning and an end, a finite form, a changing value. But God's ideas are unlimited, always good, always undepleted.
And what do spiritual ideas include? Every spiritual idea reflects God's multiplying power. It includes countless ideas "after its kind," as an orange seed includes in itself the orange it will produce when planted. But there is a big difference to be made here, because, you know, with a seed you have to plant it, wait for its germinating, take care of it until the plant is ready to give fruit, while spiritual ideas begin to reveal all they include right at the moment they are recognized, since in the timeless universe of Spirit everything is already complete.
It was the perception of this
spiritual fact which enabled Jesus to feed the multitude. For twenty centuries
this story has been considered a miracle. But was it really a miracle? If
Jesus' disciples while walking along the shores of
In the same way God's law of abundant supply was evident to Jesus. It was evident because he relied on spiritual sense, his capacity to understand God. So Jesus' feeding of the multitude really wasn't a miracle, but the inevitable, natural appearing of spiritual substance. We find that through Christian Science teachings this substance is present right here, right now, for you and me to perceive and draw upon, for the world to use freely.
Spiritual Sense Breaks Mankindís Clinging to Matter
But the problem is still unsolved, because the world hasn't understood or drawn upon this substance. How amazing it is that after such a dramatic proof of God's care mankind has gone on suffering from lack and hunger all the way from the first century to the twentieth.
The world's suffering can come to
an end as we take Jesus' message seriously and really live his
teachings. He proclaimed the
Where can we find it? We have
Jesus' answer, "The
How can we enter the
Take money, for example. When we accept it as though it were true substance, we believe the amount of money we possess will give us more or less joy, more or less good, when all the time it's nothing but a symbol! Only a symbol of real value, spiritual value.
Let me illustrate this point. You all use numbers in your everyday affairs. For example, in adding a grocery bill or a bank statement you use the number four a lot of times. Do you ever worry about the lack of number four this might bring? That fours might run out? Can't you hear this dialogue, for example?
"Have you heard about the shortage of number four?"
"Yes, and of number six, too!"
"Well, I think the best thing to do is to have a good stock of numbers four and six to face the shortage."
Can this happen? Of course not! Because number four, as every number, is simply the symbol of a mathematical concept, and this concept can be used as many times as necessary, regardless of how often number four, that is, the symbol, is used every day all over the world.
It's the same with money: Supply neither depends on money nor is produced by money. Rather, our supply depends on divine consciousness, or Spirit, the inexhaustible source of spiritual ideas. When we stop fearing and worrying about lack of matter and turn to Spirit, God, His spiritual ideas come to us immediately, abundantly, and as we utilize them we find the solution to our problem.
Spiritual Sense is Developed by Prayer
Why do we have such a fear of lack of money? Because we have to pay our bills, we have to pay our rent, we have to feed our family. Isn't that the reason why? I used to be very fearful, too, because of that. But today we are learning that our life does not depend on money.
Jesus fed the multitude through spiritual perception, not money. And when it was money he needed to obey the law of his country to pay his taxes, he had the exact amount he needed. Jesus didn't have a large accumulation of money, but he could pay his taxes. And we all remember where he found the money. And what was it that led him to find it in a fish's mouth? His spiritual sense. Jesus always let his spiritual sense guide him. What are we waiting for? We can do the same! We can begin to improve our spiritual sense right now. How can we do it? There are many ways; but Jesus gave us a prayer that deepens our spiritual sense - the Lord's Prayer. It includes a petition for our daily supply, "Give us this day our daily bread." What a relief to know that we are not responsible for our daily bread, that God is the only one responsible for it. Mrs. Eddy gives the spiritual meaning as, "Give us grace for to-day; feed the famished affections" (Science and Health, p. 17). It's interesting to note that she doesn't say here the famished mouths but "the famished affections"; there are spiritual needs to be fed every day.
And what is grace? Grace is the capacity God gives us to understand Him, in other words - spiritual sense.
The daily bread we most need is our daily understanding of God. This is the bread we ask for, because it's with this bread that our spiritual needs will be "fed." Mrs. Eddy points this out when she says: "What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds" (Science and Health, p. 4).
When we ask God to "Give us this day our daily bread," we are asking for more spiritual perception. Our prayer is answered as we are able to see and enjoy the spiritual universe, our God-bestowed heritage. As we gain our freedom from the limited views of material thinking, spiritual sense brings us the consciousness of God's abundance filling all space.
Mrs. Eddy Discovered We Live in the Realm of Spiritual Ideas
I've been speaking of how prayer deepens and develops our spiritual sense, our capacity to understand God and perceive His universe of abundant spiritual ideas.
No matter how desperate the human circumstances appear to be, we can awaken to the fullness of divine good. What is required is a deep hungering and thirsting for God, a spiritual desire that turns completely away from matter.
This prayer of deep spiritual desire was what brought Mary Baker Eddy to the threshold of her discovery of Christian Science.
From childhood she had suffered from frail health. Because she was raised in a deeply religious home, the little girl naturally turned to God for help. Her life was full of difficulties; and she continued to search for a better understanding of God.
Then, when she was nearing forty-five, she gained a sudden and glorious glimpse of spiritual understanding. Her already frail health was seriously threatened by an injury. She wasn't expected to live. But as she turned to her Bible to the account of Jesus' healing of a paralyzed man, she perceived that the power that had healed the paralyzed man wasn't a privilege Jesus alone had, but that Jesus showed us what God's power is and how it works. This was the answer to what she had been searching for all her life. She saw that God's power is eternal, permanent, and available to anyone who is spiritually receptive to it. Mrs. Eddy felt this power, and was ready and willing to obey it. As a result, she was healed. She got up, dressed herself, and to the amazement of her friends, walked out to greet them.
This discovery was the turning point of her life. During the early period of her discovery of Christian Science, she gave all her time to investigating it more deeply. But as she saw more clearly the potential of the power she had discovered and the infinite abundance of God's ideas, she expressed this power by healing others through prayer, by teaching and organizing her church.
At the same time, her human surroundings and life improved. Mrs. Eddy's own experience proved the power of relying completely on Spirit for the true substance of health and life. Mrs. Eddy has proclaimed to the world that the substance of man's health isn't in matter, since all being is spiritual. As God's ideas we can't help being healthy since God knows no other possibility. We live in Spirit, forever well and whole.
Our Substance Includes Abundant Health
Because of Mrs. Eddy's discovery, Christian Science, we too can understand and experience the fact that we are always living in Spirit, blessed with abundant health and life.
A friend of mine had a heavy cold and as a result one of her ears began to drain. She asked me to help her through scientific prayer, through Christian Science treatment. And I did.
After several days, however, there was no improvement. Then I prayed, "Father, please let me know what I need to know and pray about." Immediately the words "fear of lack of money" came to me.
Though I couldn't see the relationship between fear of lack and a draining ear, I began to know with conviction that man created by God is a complete and perfect idea, conscious not of lack but of spiritual fullness. I rejoiced in the fact that, as God knew her, my friend could never fear or lack. On the contrary I could see that she was always satisfied with her being in Spirit, always full of abundant health.
I telephoned her and told her what I was praying about; and she admitted she was really worried about her financial situation. We talked about God's love for His children, how great God's love is. We discussed how she and I, as mothers, wanted the best for our children and gave them the best. From this we saw that God's perfect and divine love is tenderly embracing His children, sustaining, supporting and supplying them abundantly. My friend realized she couldn't ever be out of this infinite, all-inclusive love.
Two days later she telephoned me to say she was healed - what's more, her financial situation improved too. Both problems were solved through replacing a false material concept of herself with the true and spiritual fact. At every moment we can be conscious of Spirit, God, as our source, in whom we have our being.
We Live in Constant Good
Now let's go back a moment to the story of the three brothers. We saw how the two older brothers apparently made a very good choice which gave them wealth, security, and a future without problems. And at the time the choice the youngest made seemed ridiculous. However, it proved to be the right one. Why? Because even human knowledge is something that once you possess it can't be taken away from you; it never wears out; it doesn't depend on circumstances.
Jesus through his life showed us how to make the right choice; he met his own needs and others' through what he knew. But it wasn't everyday human knowledge, it was knowledge at the highest level, his understanding of the Christ. The Christ is eternal Truth, the true idea of God and man. We can take all the knowledge mankind possesses and give it to a computer. The result will never be the Christ, the true idea of God and man. This is what Jesus expressed.
To see why this spiritual knowledge is so important for us to have, let's briefly review the effect this knowledge had in the other instances we spoke about. My husband and I were afraid of not being able to take our trip. What were we afraid of? Limited material resources. Jesus' disciples and the crowd were afraid they couldn't be fed. What were they afraid of? Limited material resources.
We see that at the base of lack there is always fear because of limited material resources. Material resources with their limitation, changes, and depletion bring forth fear, lack of confidence, and insecurity. And these are three elements that, according to economists, lie at the base of inflation. The more fear, the more lack of confidence; the more insecurity, the greater the inflation and lack.
This vicious circle can only be broken by the knowledge of the Christ, by spiritual understanding of what God is, of what man is. We need to understand God as the Supreme Being filling all space - as Spirit, unchangeable, immutable, eternally good.
Man is the individual expression of God, able to manifest all of God's ideas. Do we realize the potential of good this means? Every spiritual idea reflects in itself God's multiplying power. Every spiritual idea includes in itself countless ideas after its kind. We weren't given twenty-five percent, nor seventy-five percent, nor ninety-nine percent, but all God's ideas. All God's ideas are within man's consciousness, blessing, healing, multiplying, supplying.
Can the allness of God be inflated or deflated? Can we ask for ten percent or twenty percent more than all?
We possess a whole universe, God's spiritual universe for us to live in, express, and enjoy. All good is eternally unfolding within our consciousness, multiplying, expanding, rising higher and higher in the understanding of God's universe.
In Mrs. Eddy's words, "God expresses in man the infinite idea forever developing itself, broadening and rising higher and higher from a boundless basis" (Science and Health, p. 258).
Jesus assures us, "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke ).