Christian Science Reveals Spiritual Forces in Action
Paul Stark Seeley, C.S.B., of Portland, Oregon
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
How to apply God's healing power to solve the problems of everyday living, was the theme of the lecture, delivered Friday evening, February 12, at 8 p.m. in the auditorium of the Clearwater Senior High School on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard at Hercules. The lecture was presented under the auspices of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, of Clearwater.
Mr. Seeley has been prominent in the Christian Science movement for many years. He has served as Associate Editor of the Christian Science religious periodicals and as President of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts. He has lectured to audiences throughout the world.
A member of the Bar in New York and Oregon, he is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Princeton University. Prior to devoting his full time to the practice of Christian Science, he was associated with an engineering firm in the Northwest.
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
An intense interest in the discovery and use of physical forces characterizes the present era of human history. The overcoming, in an ever-increasing measure, of the obstacles of time and space with these forces is now generally accepted as an attainable objective. The limitations within which human thought has long imprisoned itself are being recognized as barriers which can be broken through and new vistas revealed. But there are limitations inherent in physical forces which also need to be recognized.
Regardless of inventions that facilitate the production of the things we need; regardless of the speed with which one individual may communicate with another at some distant point on this planet; regardless of how rapidly physical forces may transport one's body from place to place, perhaps even to another planet, there remain the most vital needs of men that physical forces can never meet. Chemical, electrical, or atomic forces, for instance, are powerless to overcome fear, worry, grief, despair, anger, or hate. They offer nothing wherewith to implement men's desire to live in unity and peace with one another. They include no factor for establishing permanent health, happiness, and the continuity of life.
Moral and Spiritual Forces Most Important
Christian Science is bringing to light the moral and spiritual forces which are just at hand to be understood and realized. These are the forces which hold a preeminent place in the Bible teachings, and were used with outstanding success by Christ Jesus to subjugate and nullify destructive material forces. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, says in the textbook of this Science, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," written by her, "The central fact of the Bible is the superiority of spiritual over physical power" (p. 131).
Spiritual forces are not hard to understand or to apply. They are the forces of good, which is another way of saying they are the forces of God. Can you think of any place for the forces of good to be active except in good thoughts? Is not a thief made into an honest man simply by his willingness to accept the good thought force of honesty as a governing force in his consciousness? He does not make the idea of honesty, or the moral force that is ever active in it, but he finds the idea and its forces are natural to his better self, his true manhood, and he aligns his thought and life with this right idea and its forces. Doing this he proves his ability to use a moral force to destroy a suppositional immoral force called dishonesty.
No one, I suppose, would deny that if every individual on our planet were willing to accept as his consciousness only good thoughts such as honesty, justice, lovingkindness, and so on, the troubles of the world would soon be over. Our troubles are but the externalization of wrong thoughts, and of the evil forces which impel these thoughts. The wisdom of Solomon was never better illustrated than when he said of the individual, "As he thinketh in his heart [consciousness], so is he" (Prov. 23:7). We have been very slow to accept and profit by this simple truth, but it is a truth each one must learn. What we see without us is what we think within us; our without is our within objectified.
Who Makes Good Thoughts?
God, Christian Science explains, is the only Mind of us all and is entirely good. This Mind is not walled in somewhere. It has to be, and it is, everywhere — universal. Would you not expect to find ideas of kindness, courtesy, wisdom, good will as available to you on Mars — if someday you should go there by a spaceship — as these ideas are within your conscious reach here? Mindless space cannot supplant the universality of Mind. And Mind cannot exist apart from the legions of intelligent ideas by which it evidences itself in man.
The spiritual fact, taught by Christ Jesus and Christian Science, is that God is the everlasting Father, divine Mind, naturally manifesting Himself in limitless individual expressions of positive Mind, the highest of which is man, called in the Bible the son of God.
Mortals generally think of God and man as separated from each other by space. Many believe God has some kind of limited physical personality, and man even a much more limited selfhood.
This conception Christian Science challenges. Says Mrs. Eddy in Science and Health (p. 202), "The scientific unity which exists between God and man must be wrought out in life-practice, and God's will must be universally done." The will of God is the intelligent force of the perfect Mind. This Mind-force is ever active and controls the ideas by which Mind manifests itself. These right ideas are included in the only true consciousness you or I can ever have. This consciousness is just at hand, intact, waiting, in a sense, on our willingness to discover and accept it.
"I am with thee"
Isaiah writes of God, "Fear thou not; for I am with thee" (Isa. 41:10). Let us be willing to let go of the mistaken sense of Deity that says our life is apart from God. How is God with thee? With me? God is not a human person who is physically with us. But because God is the only Mind and is good, must not that Mind be ever with us? How else could we be conscious of what is genuinely good, be truly intelligent, express righteous judgment, spiritual ideals, and good character? How could one express goodness if the good Mind were not with him continuously maintaining his conscious being?
Our need, it is apparent, is more fully to understand and demonstrate this oneness or unity of God and man that is the scientific verity of being. Actually we cannot ever be separated from omnipresent Mind, God, even though, as the Psalmist says, we humanly seem to make our bed in the hell of evil thoughts. The ever-present Mind remains our real Ego, and its spiritual thought forces are ever ours to lift our consciousness above any discordant sense of being.
The Devil's Puppet Show
Christian Science teaches that the carnal or material mind, also called mortal mind, with its hordes of evil thoughts and suggestions, is the opposite of true Mind and its thoughts, hence it is unreal, powerless. It is the mindless, suppositional evil forces in these thoughts that claim to force mortals to commit crime, to indulge in all sorts of sin. It is these so-called evil forces that claim to force mortals, in their ignorance of the forces of God, Spirit, to be unkind or willful, to hate, to be angry, to be unjust — to be sick and to die. Mortals do not like to be pushed around, or dominated, by other mortals, but in their ignorance of God and His Godlike man they seem often to be but puppets on the stage of mortal life. In belief the puppeteer is the material or mortal mind. It controls its puppets — materially minded mortals — with its counterfeit forces. They talk, they act, they fight, they get sick and die because they know no better. They are slaves and prisoners of their own belief in a godless mortal mind which the Master branded a murderer and liar. Our individualities have a more worthy role than to be puppets manipulated by the impulses of the so-called material mind. For example:
Fear of Heredity Destroyed
What is it that often claims to terrorize a mortal, arguing that because his human parents passed on with a certain disease he is doomed to the same fate? What says that? Only the devilish material mind, which we have seen is a lie. But the spiritual thought forces of the Mind that is God will destroy, cancel out, that fear, since they nullify all forms of fear. Here is an instance. A student of Christian Science had tolerated a latent fear that because his parents had passed on with pneumonia it was likely that he would do so. He took a heavy cold on his chest, and the carnal mind began to talk, suggesting that his time had come. His fear grew until his condition became alarming. The suggestion came, "It would be easy to let go and pass on, as your parents did." Then he awakened to what he had to do. He saw he had been so blinded with the so-called forces of blind fear that he had been believing that matter had produced him and that his life was in mindless matter instead of in intelligent Mind, his true Father-Mother God.
He mentally subtracted from his sense of matter what Christian Science had enabled him to see never could be there. He saw intelligence could not be in non-intelligent matter. He saw that life could not be in matter, because matter, being mindless, must be lifeless. His thought reached out to God, omnipresent Mind or Spirit, as the one real source and continuing cause. He claimed that his only real selfhood was God-constituted, God-conditioned, and God-protected. He realized that the forces of divine Life and Love were the governing law of his being and that they outlawed and nullified the afflictive forces, or beliefs, of the material mind which had no legitimate claim upon his life and health.
Thus, with the recognition of the constructive thoughts of the Mind that is God, he freed his consciousness from fear and false belief, and he was soon healed of, or free from, the illness that threatened to take his life. He proved the truth of the Bible statement, "I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts" [consciousness] (Heb. 8:10). We need to discover that the creative, governing, protecting forces of almighty Mind are ever active within our only real consciousness and life. These life-preserving forces dissipate disease-producing forces and bring health and harmony to light.
The Power of the Divine Mind is the Messiah
The material sense of life and man with all its belief in evil forces, its sin, disease, injustice, mutability, and doom, has seemed so unlike a supremely intelligent God that thinkers in many lands, throughout the ages, have felt there would appear a higher concept of existence that would deliver men from earth's woes. Christ Jesus clearly defined the standard by which the individual may align his every thought, word, and act with the Mind that is God, and thus free himself from enslavement to the suppositional mindless material forces of the carnal or mortal mind.
In Christian Science we learn that Jesus is the messenger whose message is the Christ — the true idea of God, Spirit, the universal Father-Mind — and man is the spiritual expression of this true Mind, or Ego, subject to no forces but the constructive forces of divine intelligence. Jesus proved that the omnipotent power of deific Mind is the Messiah, or Christ, which is always here to deliver the individual from every ignorant material so-called force that would enslave with sin, terrorize with fear, afflict with disease, destroy with death. His life-work proved that the spiritual forces of divine Mind are available to every individual. In Science and Health (p. 593) Mrs. Eddy describes this deliverance or salvation as, "Life, Truth, and Love understood and demonstrated as supreme over all; sin, sickness, and death destroyed."
He proved that by accepting the natural, intelligent forces as the very substance of his life, the individual can demonstrate the great fact that deific Mind is the one power, that its forces manifested in spiritual ideas are at hand to reverse and nullify the suppositional disruptive thought forces of evil. Jesus demonstrated, through his realization of the presence of these God-empowered forces as the governing law of man, that his life could not be destroyed by the ignorant hate of his enemies or by the mindless physical forces they used upon his material body.
His true life, he knew, was Mind, God, which physical forces had no access to and could not touch. Then, after his resurrection, his proof of the impotency of evil forces, physical and mental, he went on to prove for the benefit of all men that the same God-empowered thought forces could free man's individuality from any least link with ignorant matter and its lie that its murderous forces can annihilate man. Jesus charted the way out of mortality's lie into God's enduring spiritual kingdom of Mind. He is indeed the Wayshower, demonstrating that mankind's Saviour is the power of our Parent, Mind, over all the mindless forces of evil, mental and physical.
Material Limitations Overcome
Only a few years ago aeronautical engineers believed it would be difficult to make an airplane that could travel faster than sound. They accepted a mental barrier which they called "the sound barrier." Now it is gone. Planes are being built that go several times the speed of sound. Where has the barrier gone? Into nothingness. It never really was. It was only an ignorant, mistaken, limiting belief of the carnal mind.
Mortals believe that they are surrounded by barriers, walls of limitation, that they cannot break through. But these seeming barriers are no more real than the sound barrier. They are false beliefs that would try to separate us from happiness, from security, from satisfaction, from success, from useful activity, from goodness, and from the recognition and enjoyment of our spiritual heritage as sons of God.
Dr. Toynbee, the well-known English historian, has said that he supposes we shall all become spiritual beings sometime, but that the getting rid of matter seems to present some difficulties. Perhaps he is saying what others are thinking. But Christ Jesus showed how every one of the apparent difficulties can be overcome. All he had to work with was his consciousness. See what he did. Jesus came to show you and me how to think — how to accept as our consciousness and life only the thought forces which evidence the Mind that is the one enduring substance and our God. Thus we free ourselves from the false belief that there is more than one God, one Mind.
Ask yourself, "What says I cannot be happy and healthy, successful, useful, and good?" Only the counterfeit belief suggests those limitations. Remember that this evil mind, the Master said, is always a liar. Why let your life be enslaved by a liar? The mission of the Christ, the true idea of God, as taught and demonstrated by Christ Jesus, is stated by Isaiah, "to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house" (Isa. 42:7). Do not consent to be a prisoner sitting in a prison house of grief, fear, sickness, self-condemnation. Use the power of the saving Christ, the true idea of God, of yourself, and of creation, to break through the prison walls and prove that the barriers of false material thought cannot dispossess you of your God-given freedom, health, and joy.
Force of Habit Overcome
Here is an example of what is often called a force of habit, how it would imprison one, and how the forces of divine Mind can make one free. A businessman living in a suburb of New York had accepted a chronic grouch as belonging to his consciousness. When he came to the breakfast table he seldom said good morning to his wife. There was little conversation before he hurried to catch his train for the city. He held on to the grouch all day. Since it was but a false belief, it had nothing with which to hold on to him. Each night he brought his grouch home. He was consenting to yield his thought to unintelligent, mean suggestions that fed him on self-centeredness. He contributed nothing of happiness to those about him, at home or in his office.
But underneath this crust were some good qualities. A friend who knew this and who also knew something of Christian Science and of God as the only real Mind of man, ever at hand to supply man with good and constructive thoughts, pointed out to him how foolish he was to coddle this selfish grouch and shut out the thoughts which his intelligent Mind was providing to make his life happy and harmonious. He began to see that he was breaking the First Commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." This "Me," he realized, was the one real Mind of all men. He encouraged his friend to reject the selfish material sense of mortal mind and its worthless imprisoning thoughts. He was as much mentally imprisoned by these thoughts as his body would have been had it been confined with four walls.
The man was willing to see his mistake and to challenge the thought forces which had forced him to put on a mental mask which had seemed to hide his real nature as God's son. He began to realize that the manhood derived from intelligent Mind was ever expressing qualities of kindness, justice, good will. He mentally demanded the right to express such qualities, and he began to do so. He discovered that the Bible is right when it says, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). The evil thoughts had no way to resist the good thoughts when he consented to claim and accept them as his own.
After he had put this true sense of Mind to practical use he came to the breakfast table one morning with a pleasant smile and a genuine "Good morning, dear," for his wife. She nearly fainted! But he meant it. From then on, the going was happy for them both. And the change was so simply accomplished through a willingness on his part to accept only the good thoughts just at hand. They delivered him from his own ignorantly erected prison house. His life and his home took on a different hue. Unselfish good imbued his consciousness with consideration and love and accomplished the destruction of the suppositional evil suggestions that were a barrier claiming to separate him from his true manhood.
Be Wiser Than the Bee
Maeterlinck tells the story of a bee imprisoned in a bottle. Eager to gain its freedom, it wore itself out by flying vainly against the closed end, when the open end and freedom were just at hand. So mortals often try vainly to find the way out of their self-imposed imprisonment within the walls of material thinking and material sense testimony and generally accepted material beliefs.
But the way of escape is as near as was the bee's way to freedom. We must, however, be willing to turn our thoughts in the right direction, to God and His kingdom. We must make a persistent and consistent effort to accept as our consciousness not a single thought or motive save those that derive from the Mind which is our Life and our God.
Lincoln and Mary Baker Eddy
In certain and important ways the thinking of Abraham Lincoln and that of Mrs. Eddy were akin. Both had a keen appreciation of the right of every individual to justice and freedom, and Lincoln recognized that the forces that physically enslaved men and placed them in bondage to the will of others were not the forces of God, good. Largely through his moral courage and wisdom they were set at naught.
In the year after he proclaimed the emancipation of the slaves, Mrs. Eddy discovered the freedom-bringing power of the forces of the Mind that is God. A devout student of the Bible from childhood, she turned to it for help when a physician said she could not recover from the effects of an accident. Material forces appeared to have gained the upper hand. They argued there was nothing to thwart their destructive power.
Calling for her Bible, she opened it to the incident related in Matthew 9:2, which tells of Christ Jesus' healing of a case of palsy. For twenty years Mrs. Eddy had been endeavoring to trace all physical effects to a mental cause. Now as she read she perceived something of the unseen power of divine Mind with which Jesus reversed the material forces or beliefs that produced the palsy. Her glimpse of the potency of Truth's forces to reverse evil's afflictive forces freed her, and she arose from her bed healed.
This was only a beginning in Mrs. Eddy's discovery of Christian Science, but it was a most important beginning. She had glimpsed the operation of divine law, or spiritual force. Then she set about to understand it, to learn how it works and how it can be individually applied in our daily life. Deep research into the Bible and especially the teachings of Christ Jesus brought answers to the questions that crowded her thought. She began to see the spiritual meaning of the Scriptures in contrast to the merely literal meaning, and, step by step, the Science of Christianity and its mighty spiritual, moral forces came to light.
Spiritual Meaning of Bible
In my own experience it has meant much to find that the Bible has spiritual meanings which are not always apparent when we read the words of some important statements. For instance, the Master says in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." If one accepts this in the letter it might mean that Jesus was saying that if his followers believed that he had a very unusual personality devoted to good works, and tried to take him as a good human example, that doing so would bring them to his Father. Christian Science helps us to understand that he intended it to mean much more than that.
The "I" and the "me" the Master refers to are much more than a worthy human personality. It is the Christ-consciousness — the real consciousness with which the Father Mind endows man. Jesus revealed and demonstrated the power of Mind inherent in this right-mindedness. He understood God is immaterial, spiritual, universal, the only Mind, and man, Mind's highest expression, or son. This truth Jesus both taught and proved. He was saying in the statement quoted that his true sense of God and man, the true sense of cause and effect, was the only way by which an individual can understandingly come to the Father, can mentally find man's understandable oneness with his intelligent source — the Mind that is God.
It is the spiritual meaning of the Bible that reveals the true order of creation, the truth of man and of the forces of Spirit, or Mind, whereby we can begin to understand and demonstrate the presence of God's kingdom. In her works, Mrs. Eddy includes over seven hundred direct quotations from the Scriptures and more than two thousand statements based on the Bible truths. This shows that Mrs. Eddy's intensive study of the Bible was the basis for her teachings.
After the Science of Christianity became clear to Mrs. Eddy, she made available her discovery in the Christian Science textbook, which was "Science and Health," published in 1875. Later the title was changed to "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." The Bible and Science and Health she later made the Pastor of the Christian Science church, thus freeing its services from human opinions which so often are included in personal preaching.
Brain Cancer Healed
Material forces had produced what surgeons diagnosed as a brain cancer in the brain of a twelve-year-old boy. He was in the incurable ward of a hospital. The physicians told his parents that there was no hope; so far as they could determine the forces which produced the cancer could not be reversed and overcome. They seemed to have the right of way, even though they were devoid of intelligence or love. They were cruel and unjust, but claimed they were supreme and that from their will there was no appeal. In his extremity the father called a Christian Science practitioner. She went to see the boy. She talked to him of God's constant love for him and of how Jesus proved this love in healing the sick. She and he repeated together the Lord's Prayer over and over, dwelling on each word and searching out its spiritual meaning.
The boy's religious education had been meager, but he asked his mother to get him a Bible — and he said, "Be sure the Lord's Prayer is in it." He asked the practitioner if the prayer would heal him, and she assured him it would if it was understood. They pondered the truth that God was his only real Father-Mother, and they recognized heaven as the consciousness of good only, where harmony always is. They acknowledged that God's kingdom is always at hand, as Jesus said, and that God's will is that only harmony and health be the lot of His children, that evil could not have power over the child of God, but that God's power delivered from every form of evil.
Deliverance Through Spiritual Forces
To the surprise of the doctors the boy improved, contrary to their verdict. Soon he was moved from the incurable ward to the convalescent ward. He was later allowed to go home for three days at Christmas, but bad weather prevented his return for three weeks. On his return he was examined under the X-ray machine for three successive days. Then he was asked by the doctors what he had done while at home. He said he had prayed. One doctor said, "We can only go as far as we understand; much has been done by prayer; it is good to pray." The boy was soon released because nothing was found wrong with him. It was proved he could not be forced, by so-called evil physical forces, to die from the effect of these forces. The spiritual forces of God had saved him.
How right the surgeon was — "We can only go as far as we understand." But the boy and the practitioner placed their trust in God, the Great Physician, and His healing power. They successfully challenged and nullified the seeming forces of affliction and death because they had found and yielded to the basic, intelligent cause, God, and had realized that suppositional evil forces could not supplant God's constant love for and control of man. The Psalmist said, "He sent his word, and healed them" (Ps. 107:20). What is the healing Word that God sends to bring healing to us? It is the enlightening ideas from the Mind that is God. In them are expressed the radiant forces of Spirit which destroy the evil thoughts that produce all sickness.
"Stand porter at the door of thought"
You do not question that you can so bar the door to your home that a thief cannot easily get in. So it is with our mental home. Said the Master, "A man's foes shall be they of his own household" (Matt. 10:36). In other words, our enemies are the wrong thoughts that we have foolishly accepted as our consciousness.
Christian Science teaches that each individual may securely close and bar the door of his consciousness to evil thoughts by realizing that his only true selfhood is tributary solely to the good Mind that is God; that God alone is the source of every right thought; that this consciousness is God's possession, and evil cannot take it over or substitute its trouble-making thoughts for the ideas that are man's God-made life, or consciousness.
The Christian Scientist daily realizes these facts. He knows that he cannot be forced by suppositional devilish thoughts to fear, to worry, to be unkind, to sin, to be sick, or to die. The reason — because all he actually is, is the expression of the one cause, God, Spirit, Mind, whom he lives to manifest, thought by thought, moment by moment. In Australia we found a sign on the curb which read, "Do not even think of parking here." We can say to all erroneous thoughts, "Do not even think of parking in my consciousness." There is no space for evil thought forces in the consciousness that is the continuing reflection of the Mind that is God.
Prayer Unites Thought to God
Prayer is a vital part of all religious teaching. Why? Because it is the means by which our thought reaches out to man's source, endeavors to find and feel that source, and to be blessed by doing so. Prayer becomes more rational and more natural as one understands man and his source.
To a Christian Scientist, prayer is the sincere endeavor to accept the thoughts which God, the Mind of man, provides for His own child, or expression, and so to honor and think in accord with man's only true Ego. True prayer brings one into a clear sense of oneness with the Father. As Mrs. Eddy well puts it, "Prayer cannot change the Science of being, but it tends to bring us into harmony with it" (Science and Health, p. 2). Since prayer brings one into harmony, or unity, with the Science of being, it is a most vital factor in your life and mine. Through prayer we find and accept the spiritual forces active in the ideas of God, the legions of angels which the causative Mind provides to unite our life to its source. These angels, or spiritual thought forces, keep us in our God-defined ways of health, happiness, and God-ordered being.
We have seen that so-called physical forces have not the wherewithal to meet men's greatest needs. They have no capacity to make men just, honest, or kind. They provide no antidote for fear, hate, selfishness, or despair. Nor can they produce permanent health or continuing life. Only the forces of Spirit, Mind, can do these things — the forces so successfully utilized by Christ Jesus. These forces, we have seen, are just at hand as they were when Jesus used them. They are inherent in the right ideas that manifest the Mind that is God, and this good Mind is the only Ego, or continuing source, of man.
The time approaches when all men will see that true religion is what is true about God and man, and that it is no more racial or national in its origin than is justice. The verities of being are the same for every individual, regardless of his race, color, or clime. God is one, for absolute intelligence is one, and God is universal, not material or corporeal. God is the only Mind, and Mind is unconfinable, infinite — is everywhere. Man's only individuality lives by, and in, and for Mind, or God. It is the forces of Mind that govern man. They work in and through the ideas of Mind that are the very substance and life of man — of you and me.
To find and accept these true concepts of God and man and the omnipotent spiritual forces of Mind as the sole controller of our being is to pray aright. Thus we honor and love the alone-God, our Father, whose irresistible forces are ever with us to enable us to exterminate every evil suggestion claiming that its false mental forces can force us to be fearful, hateful, sinful, or diseased. The forces of God are, of course, the power of God of which the Master said, "Behold, I give unto you power . . . over all the power of the enemy: . . . and nothing shall by any means hurt you" (Luke 10:19). No phase of the carnal mind's thought forces can find a base, or a parking place, in Truth's kingdom, where nothing is but the infinite, all-loving Mind and its Mind-governed ideas. To this one supreme and intelligent God, or Mind, every evil force must bow and every tongue must confess its omnipotence. All that really is, is governed by the spiritual force of the Mind that is God.
[Delivered Feb. 12, 1960, at the auditorium of the Clearwater Senior High School, Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard at Hercules, in Clearwater, Florida, under the auspices of First Church of Christ, Scientist, Clearwater, and published in a Clearwater area newspaper, February 1960.]