Christian Science: The Way of True Living
Leonard T. Carney, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Leonard T. Carney, C.S.B., of
The Way of True Living" Thursday evening in the Murat
Theatre under the auspices of Third Church of Christ, Scientist. Mr. Carney is
a member of the Board of Lectureship in
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
The purpose of a Christian Science lecture is to awaken spiritual sense, satisfy the reason, and present evidence of healing in mind and body. It should explain briefly what Christian Science is, how it operates, and what it does. It should be said, however, that a lecture should not be regarded as a complete exposition of so vast a subject as Christian Science. Within one hour it is possible to deal only with some of its essential teachings, refer to a few of its phases, and leave the listener to pursue the subject further if he so desires. For a full and complete elucidation we refer him to the textbook of Christian Science, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by its Discoverer and Founder Mary Baker Eddy, which, together with the Bible and other authorized literature, may be found in Christian Science Reading Rooms in cities and towns, large and small, throughout the world.
A Religion of Works
Christian Science is a religion of works. He who experiences its beneficent effects and is restored to a life of health, happiness, and usefulness, when pain, penury, and woe had been his prospects, may be tempted by his enthusiasm and zeal to proclaim the good news indiscriminately. But Christian Science must be lived, not merely talked, if we would retain what we have and ensure further progress. For even more important than physical healing are spiritual regeneration, improved habits of thought and action, increasing love for God and man. These require practice rather than preaching. The novice learns that a well-balanced team pulls the best load, and to hitch up "zeal" with "wisdom" will carry one many a long mile. One ounce of right thinking and doing outweighs a pound of loose talk.
The name Christian Science is peculiarly appropriate. "Science" means exact knowledge, and "Christian" means that which is compassionate, helpful, and spiritual.
The Bible and the Textbook
There is one common meeting ground for many forms of Christian faith, and that is the King James translation of the Bible. Of it the great educator William Lyon Phelps has said, "I thoroughly believe in a university education for both men and women; but I believe that a knowledge of the Bible without a college course is more valuable than a college course without the Bible." It is to the Bible that great men of history and of learning have acknowledged that they owe their all; to it many martyrs have given their lives. The Bible is the law book of Christian Scientists, constantly cited, continuously revered. It is their foundation chart of life, marking the hidden shoals of danger, making plain the safe channel. To them it points the way of true living.
The Bible's exalted place is attested by these words from the Christian Science textbook, "As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life" (Science and Health, p. 497). Then what is the peculiar value of the Christian Science textbook has reinstated this primitive Christianity with its element of healing which was known and practiced by Jesus and the apostles, and later lost to posterity. Even two hundred years after Christ Jesus, Irenaeus wrote of frequent wonderful healings of lameness, deafness, blindness, paralysis, and many other bodily maladies. He cited one church where the members through prayer raised one who had died, and to use his own words, "the spirit of the dead man returned, and he has been restored in answer to the prayers." It was through the textbook of Christian Science that the "key" to the Scriptures was forged in the grueling fires of experience by the hand of a gentle woman who loved all mankind. With this key the doors of the ancient treasure house of healing have again been opened to the sick, the sinning, the poor, the lonely, the discouraged. And once again the seeming miracles of old become the natural happenings of today.
The Founder of Christian Science
It is perhaps unnecessary to inform this audience that Christian Science came to this age through the pure thought of a woman, Mary Baker Eddy. As in every mountain range there is one peak that catches the first faint rays of the rising sun, so her exalted spiritual thought from childhood caught and retained the indelible quality of spiritual light. As Elijah presented the idea of the fatherhood of God, so likewise, from Abraham's wife to Mary at the sepulcher, have women exemplified the tender, compassionate motherhood of God. It is not strange, then, that the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science was a woman, who by her healing work and church organization of today completed and complemented for future ages the work of Christ Jesus and the apostles. Through a life of prayerful preparation and fulfillment of her hopes, she was able to view her work accomplished, her mission completed, a consummation experienced by few leaders in history. May I give you the words of one who knew her well during the last two years she was with us. Said he: "The more I see of our Leader in the various side lights of her wonderful mentality, the more plainly do I understand why she was the chosen bearer of this message to the children of men. Never was there another like her. An outstanding evidence of it all is that those who have been longest with her and closest to her are the ones who pronounce with the least hesitation the conviction that she was God-sent and God-directed."
The Way of True Living
There is one business in which we are all engaged and about which we seem to know the least; and that is the business of living. Once there was a man who made himself great works, who built for himself houses with vineyards and gardens and orchards. His many cattle were upon his hills, and streams ran down the valleys and watered the abundant trees. And he had servants and vast possessions, and he restrained himself from no pleasure. Of this man it was written in Ecclesiastes several thousand years ago, "Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun" (Eccl. ).
The age long quest for a better way of life is fulfilled through the teachings of Christian Science, which may be likened to a university, with its practical courses in the way of true living. Its textbooks are few but completely sufficient, the Bible and "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." The daily Lesson-Sermon from these two textbooks is the student's morning meal, leaving the remaining hours of the day for the practical application of those early lessons and additional reading and study as desired. Such is the curriculum, and he matriculates with promised honors who not only studies but continuously puts into practice what he learns; but study without practice is a locomotive without steam.
The Material Universe
Ancient philosophers believed that there was only one element or substance of which the universe was composed. Some said it was air, others said water, and still others that it was fire. But the search for one original cause is answered not through material but through spiritual phenomena. The cause of all that exists is Spirit, God, the creator and origin of all. This, however, does not mean that God creates matter. A true creator creates nothing inferior to himself. Much less could God make a destructible, material universe. What we see materially are the formations of the human, mortal mind, visible because mankind believes them. We usually believe what we see: it is no more strange that we see what we believe. Hence mankind sees, hears, and feels its own thoughts. This is what we call the material world about us. In fact it is not about us, but in us, in our own human belief. This materially mental universe - because it is mental - is subject to divine Mind's control, acting upon human belief. That material scientists are beginning to recognize this all-controlling power of God is evidenced by the following from the well-known physicist, Dr. Arthur Compton, Nobel Prize winner. He said, "Atom, electron, electricity, everything that a scientist touches, shows him that behind it is a great force, a causation, a giver of laws, a God."
God and His Universe
Christian Science teaches that if we would find God we must look away from material things. God is to be recognized in our hearts, in our tender, loving thoughts, in our upward-rising consciousness. If we look for Him in physicality, in nature, or in material things, we look for Him in vain. Because God is everywhere, He is omnipresent; because He has all power He is omnipotent; because He knows all that really is, He is omniscient; because there is nothing beside Him or outside of Him, God is all. When in Christian Science we can surmount the limited, material thoughts of earth and earthly living, and view infinite Spirit without limit of time, space, weight, or measure, then we begin to see and recognize God. In order that spiritual realization may carry us aloft as a bird soars above earth, we, likewise, must possess the wings of spiritual inspiration for guidance and power.
As a miner searches for gold and finds the pure vein of it separate from rock and earthly debris, so do we as Christian Scientists find the universe of Spirit and its ideas separate from matter, awaiting our recognition and demonstration. Let us behold the spiritual universe in its purity and perfection. In it is light and glory unquenchable. God sends forth inextinguishable, spiritual light. In this light we behold the spiritual facts of man and the universe, perfect and permanent, untouched by matter, sin, disease, or death. God and God's ideas are pure and unadulterated good. They have always been so, and thus they will remain throughout eternity. As you behold this glorious fact, and put the spiritual into practice, much of evil will drop away without specific effort.
Divine Mind and Spiritual Consciousness
The way of true living began with the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Into his world beset with idolatry, tyranny, and mental darkness, despite the lives of holy men who had preceded him, came this gracious, tender, understanding man of Galilee, but imbued with a strength and power not his own. With this God-power, which was the very Christ, he stilled the turbulent, angry sea, brought sight to the blind, caused the lame to walk, comforted the downcast, reformed the sinner, and raised the dead. Speaking of the Christ, he said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." Jesus' way of true living was the Christ-way of spiritual healing and regeneration.
Because Mind is God, and is One, there is, in reality, no mortal mind, no mesmerism, no mental poison, mental manipulation, nor mental malpractice. There is therefore no insanity of world thought that can inflame warfare, divide and confuse individuals and nations, perpetrate cruelty and destruction, arouse the greed, hatred, and passions of men. Because man, in reality, is the reflection of this one and only Mind, the mind of man is not subject to derangement, disintegration, or decay. Real Mind is never darkened, confused, nor inactive. Its activity is infinite, and is wholly and completely good. This infinite, divine Mind is God, in whom you live, and move, and have your being. Since God is your God, then the one Mind is your Mind by reflection.
Divine Mind is that of true knowing, the awareness of all things, the Mind of pure, spiritual ideas. It evolves its own ideas, and they are as perfect as the Mind that forms them. Human thoughts are not so. They are subject to human frailty. But God's thoughts are substantial, infallible, and eternal.
Do we long for counsel and guidance, for wisdom and understanding? Let us seek it through holy, uplifted thought, and divine Mind will give it. Do we seek healing of body and mind? God's spiritual ideas will heal us; His pure thoughts will comfort us. These spiritual ideas act upon the so-called human mind, transform that mind, causing it to let go of the diseased and erroneous beliefs which hold the body in bondage; and thus released, the individual is healed physically and mentally.
How may one bridge the gulf between the human experience and divine Mind and gain that understanding and spiritual power so vitally needed for improvement of daily living? It is through the awakened human consciousness, rising from material sense to apprehend man's true spiritual consciousness, which comes from God. Man is, in reality, individual consciousness, for he reflects the Mind that is God. To ascend in thought from the false sense of fear, disease, sin, and death, is to become conscious of those ideas which are real and tangible to spiritual sense. It is through an awakened, spiritualized consciousness that better bodies are constructed, sinful sense regenerated, financial needs supplied, families united, and homes made happy. It is through a rising state of consciousness that restoration and recovery are had all along the line. This desirable attainment comes through reading and studying the Bible, together with "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pondering the truths there revealed, and living the life of ceaseless prayer for spirituality and growth in grace.
"Consciousness, where art thou?" (Science and Health, pp. 307,308) Is it immersed in the small and petty things of daily living, in criticism, envy, jealousy, pride, resentment, selfishness? Is it sunken in the mire of impure desires, or in the beliefs of disease and fear? Is it floundering in the mental darkness of materiality, with no ray of hope or inspiration? Then turn away from it, and rise into the purer, loftier state of consciousness where God abides. For God expresses all true consciousness, in which abound health, happiness, holiness, and where man is found as His reflection, possessed of the abundance of good, embraced in the infinitude of divine Love.
Christian Science Prayer or Treatment
When Jesus prayed at the tomb of Lazarus and raised him to a life of usefulness, healed the lunatic boy through prayer, and restored the paralytic to health and soundness, a physical change followed the utilizing of such prayer. Prayer is more than a mere asking that something be done. It comprises deep and understanding realization of Truth and Truth's ideas, and of man's unity with God. As has been indicated, Christian Science prayer acts upon the human mind, changes its beliefs, and this in turn controls and heals the body. Such prayer is called treatment in Christian Science.
That it operates today as it did in Jesus' time is beyond question, and is illustrated by the following. A student of Christian Science was called to the bedside of a woman past eighty years of age, who was stricken with total paralysis. When the student arrived at in the afternoon the patient was in a very serious condition, being unable to move her body in any way. A treatment in Christian Science was given. That same evening, it being Wednesday, the patient arose from her bed completely healed, dressed herself and attended the Christian Science church meeting, walking several blocks to and from the church. This healing took place over a year ago, and there has been no return of the malady. Truly the healing power of Jesus' time is again available to mankind.
Have you ever watched from a high vantage point the morning mists in the valley below, circling and eddying over the surface of the lake, almost hiding its familiar contour? It seems impenetrable, so very real, enshrouding that which is lovely and beautiful to behold. And as the sun warms the air above the surface of the water, the mist begins to lift gradually; and then suddenly the jeweled surface appears, brilliant and rippling in the morning light.
Such is the action of Truth in a Christian Science treatment, dissipating the mists of fear, disease, and pain in mind and body. Treatment consists of declarations of immortal Truth, either silent or audible, the realization of which tends to lift thought to apprehend the perfection of God, man, and the universe of spiritual ideas. One declares and endeavors to realize these truths with positive conviction, holding to them with steadfast attention. Thus he is able to deny and overcome the claims of fear, medical laws, symptoms, suffering and other phases of erroneous belief which, like the mist over the lake, obscure man's perfection in Science. As he persists in this inspirational and scientific method, the body will respond to healing, whether it takes a moment, a day, or longer.
Because of the tendency of human thought to wander, it is well in treatment to give steadfast adherence to the spiritual meaning of the words of Truth just as they come into consciousness, and to hold thought persistently to them, so that the spiritual idea behind the words may become quickly evident and effective. One should learn to bring thought back again and again, if it wanders, as does a watchful mother with her errant child, until thought learns to abide in its rightful, spiritual domain. If there is lack of progress in healing, it may come from failure to adhere to the scientific way of treatment as taught in Christian Science, and to persist patiently until healing comes.
Happiness an Essential
Happiness is an essential of healthful living. Many diseases are nothing more than unhappiness externalized on the body. That grief, heaviness, sorrow, has produced disease and even death by depressing bodily action is becoming known to discerning men of medicine. I should like to relate an instance of spiritual healing illustrative of this point. Many years ago a young woman experienced a great disappointment in love. In resentment she married another, and raised a family of superior children. But due to the disappointment prior to marriage, the years of her married life were filled with grief and bitterness. This frustrated sense brought into the home much inharmony through the years, children without a mother's loyal love, a home they later left without regret. As the early experience faded from her thought - though not its effects - there ensued for the mother years of bodily suffering, physical breakdown, with long periods of invalidism, during which she was confined to her bed due to various afflictions. Forty years passed since the early disillusionment, years of bondage to mental and physical suffering; and then she was healed through one Christian Science treatment. In an instant that burden of woe dropped from her completely. The discerning practitioner in that one visit uncovered the forgotten disappointment in the patient's early life, pointing out the effects of grief and a divided and unloyal thought about her family. As this Christ, Truth, knocked at the door of her consciousness she gladly opened it from within; the mantle of heaviness fell from her shoulders, and, as she said, it was as though a heavy weight had been lifted from her body, and a sense of physical and mental freedom ensued unlike anything she had ever known before. She was completely healed then and there. And the children returned to that transformed home with joy.
Christian Science disentangles and solves these involved problems when properly applied. It discloses that man is not an unstable and helpless entity to be reached and touched by evil, but that in reality he is idea, the expression or showing forth of God Himself. He is not a receiver of the woes of earth, but a reflector of the joys of heaven. His only real business is the giving forth of truth, health, and happiness. The righteous man lives not unto himself but unto God, who is his real Father and Mother. His purpose in being is to glorify God, to express the irradiance of Life. He embodies divine power to resist aggressive evil by expressing spiritual good. One may so live as to receive directly this divine power.
A student of Christian Science was passing along the boulevard of a city on a dark, misty day. As he walked along with head down, his thoughts were as heavy as the day was dark and foreboding. He was discouraged and disheartened, for his money was gone, and no job in sight. As he was passing a shoe polishing shop, he happened to look up, and over the doorway he saw a gleaming electric sign, with this lettering: "Shining Within." It aroused him with its sudden challenge. Yes, he thought, that was what he needed, "shining within," a change of heart. His expression lifted, his step quickened, his confidence in good returned, and gratitude flowed in. The next day he found a lucrative position awaiting him. To keep the light of spiritual understanding shining within is to have good manifested without.
To the traveler on transcontinental trains there is at intervals a familiar sight. As the train slows down and one looks from his window he may see a long line of men leaning on their picks and shovels waiting for the train to pass before again taking up their interrupted employment. Their labor is to work the gravel in and around the ties in order to strengthen the roadbed. This is the "pick and shovel brigade," so essential to safe travel. But the railway workers do not constitute the only pick and shovel brigade. Such a group may be found even among ourselves and our acquaintances; but its activities differ radically from those of the track workers. While the railway men are working for a firm roadbed, the others are using the pick and shovel of unjust criticism, gossip, ridicule, tale-bearing, slander - not to strengthen, but to undermine, their neighbor's reputation. This is not the way of true living.
Destructive criticism is an age long error. Paul, in his usually picturesque manner speaks of it thus: "If ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another" (Gal. ). The following statement was made in a public address several years ago by a well-known physician, the health officer of one of our largest cities. He said: "More people are dying every day from criticism than from cancer. More people are suffering each hour from lack of charity of heart than from poverty. The inhumanities of life are more dreadful than disease." At one time a woman desired to work out a church problem that bothered her. She took the church membership list and checked the names of those against whom she felt the slightest criticism. She was amazed at the number she checked, but was more astounded to find that many of the persons whose names were checked she scarcely knew at all. This awakening brought a change of thought and healed the problem.
The unkind critic usually judges only from his own viewpoint. But, as Josh Billings, the humorist, once said, "There are always two sides to every question: the wrong side and our side." There is in reality but one side, the spiritual side, the side of loving-kindness, divine justice and truth. We cannot always know the pressure and the problems confronting another, causing him to act unreasonably. To criticize unjustly is in a sense to misjudge God, because man, in reality, is the likeness of God. To transgress this spiritual law reacts upon oneself like a boomerang, for it changes the disposition, tends to affect the health, and opens one to similar treatment at the hands of others.
Make your mental home a place of fitting hospitality so that when one is admitted to your thought, he will know that he is safe and welcome. Let us uphold the hands of those who need it as Aaron upheld the hands of Moses during the battle, aiding, encouraging him until evening, that is until the peace of victory over evil came to him. May we so reflect divine Love that we uphold the hands, the spiritual power, of each other. As we do it unto others, so it will be done likewise unto us.
The Moral Demand
Christian Science demands, and its true followers are careful to express, the highest standard of morality, purity, and integrity, as set forth by Jesus in his teachings. The extensive body of practitioners, Readers, teachers, officers, and members of the church stand as its representatives before the world. Where much is professed much is expected. Hypocrisy is the consort of a dishonest heart. Because the slightest deviation from rectitude reflects upon the movement as a whole, its true adherents faithfully uphold family unity, marriage sanctity, and an impeccable standard of personal purity and conduct, without which society itself is undermined. Its faithful followers do not use intoxicating liquor and tobacco.
The attainment of a life of exalted spiritual ideals is one of gradual rather than rapid growth. As a mountain range is pushed slowly upward by earth's contractions, emerging through the ages from the plain below, the future granite peak is imbedded in the earthy mass of soil and shale. But rising slowly and steadily skyward as the earth subsides, the mountain peak finally sheds its encumbering garments and envelops its bold outline in the purity of eternal snow. So stands forth the individual, rendered strong and upright, sincere and honest, by the purifying power of Christian Science - shedding his impeding garments, emerging from material attractions, resisting wrong, and reaching the heights of spirituality, so that all may see the beauty of holiness, the waymark for earth's pilgrims.
The Belief in Old Age and Death
The way of true living is often hampered by the fear and dread of old age. Years do not make one old. We should not count years, but deeds. Emerson said, "We do not count a man's years until we have nothing else to count." It is our thought about passing time, rather than time itself, that makes for aging. Divine Mind knows no time, hence it knows no age nor aging. The only real event is the unfolding of spiritual ideas. Good is endless, and he who is conscious of good and not expectant of evil is freer from the sense of passing years.
Rigidity of thought induces rigidity of body, while kindly, resilient, scientific thinking aids in loosening mental and physical bondage. Benjamin Franklin knew the advantage of this, for he advised one not to maintain unyielding rigid opinions which would rather break than bend. We need elasticity of thought, willingness to yield for the greater good. Cultivate buoyancy in your work and living, the spirit of service to God and man, the understanding of divine Love which Christian Science presents, and you will be at the noontide of being, full of good works and ripe with experience.
There is another factor of living about which little is said - perhaps more is thought - and that is the fear and expectation that living has an ending. In fact, living appears to some to be a doleful and unhappy interlude between birth and death. Possibly more of an attempt is made to forestall death and its effect upon families than is made to render living a real and happy experience. Jesus came, as the Bible says, to "deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Heb. ). From this we take it that Jesus did not consider death as merely an event to happen at some future time, but that death was really the daily living in constant fear of disease and evil in various forms.
The Christian Science textbook does not define death as an event to occur at some remote time. Rather, it defines it as "the flesh, warring against Spirit" (Science and Health, p. 584). It is the erroneous experiences of daily material living, rather than the fear of dying, that are to be forestalled. It is the belief in the pleasure and pain of the five senses, in fear, sin, sickness, selfishness, self-will, criticism, hatred, revenge, some of which appear in childhood and blossom into baneful fruitage in later life. When Paul said, "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (I Cor. ), we may take it to mean that at last the enemy is uncovered as the flesh warring against Spirit. We shall cease to "die daily" (to use his further words) in proportion to our overcoming the fears in and the desires of the flesh, with its loveless, healthless, joyless living. As we live each day nearer and nearer to God, who is omnipotent and omnipresent Life, and farther and farther away from the fleshly sense, we shall be ushered into a clearer realization of everlasting Life here and now. Consciousness will be transfigured on the mount of revelation, and we shall truly experience now and always the promise of our Master, "If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death" (John ).
To seek wisdom rather than material riches, to find health and happiness through spiritual means, to give support in place of destructive criticism, to present a sense of Life for aging and death, to attain the spiritual rather than the material - this is the way of true living, and may be found through the study of Christian Science. You are in the presence of Life now, because God is your Life. All the Life there is, all the activity, intelligence, power, wisdom, being, is available now. It is spiritually visible to you at this very moment. This is the real Life of man, in fact your very Life. Have it more abundantly, that is, realize more of what you really have. The highest human, personal sense of life, glorious and free, does not even approximate the glories here and now of spiritual Life. It is yours independent of time or event. It will remain yours throughout eternity. "Rejoice and be glad in it."
[Published in The Marion County Mail of Indianapolis, Indiana, Nov. 22, 1946.]