Lela May Aultman, C.S.B., of Denver, Colorado
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Are you free to think as you wish to think? Is anything trying to interfere with your ability to think clearly? These questions loom large on the world's horizon today.
We have seen efforts to mass-mesmerize whole nations by repetition of set phrases intended to force the people's thoughts into certain grooves, and to override their ability to reason or think things through logically for themselves.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, understood God to be divine Love. She knew that Love, or God, completely controls His own creation. Although efforts to manipulate men's thinking have become more obvious in recent years, Mrs. Eddy many years ago foresaw our need of defense against this form of mesmerism, and we have strong assurance of our freedom from its imposition, in her words (Pulpit and Press, p. 3), "Know, then, that you possess sovereign power to think and act rightly, and that nothing can dispossess you of this heritage and trespass on Love." Her words further imply that if we maintain this position, nothing and no one can cause us to sin or suffer.
This freedom is being ruthlessly challenged. Let us value and defend our God-given ability to think rightly.
Traveling in many countries in recent years, I have heard everywhere the same alarm expressed, that a system is being developed which might eventually rob us of our freedom to think. A well-known news commentator in our country, speaking on the radio concerning the years ahead of us, said, "It will be an uneasy age for an atheist." But only for an atheist. An editorial in The Christian Science Monitor stated that "Now, as in other times when materialistic tyranny has brandished what tyrants suppose are terrifying weapons, free men are turning to spiritual resources." He who understands the omnipotence of God, as Christian Science teaches it, the irresistible power, wisdom and love with which He governs His own creation, faces each day with expectation of good, and with a sense of security based on quiet trust in God's care.
What does Christian Science reveal of God's nature which encourages this confidence? We have spoken of God as divine Love, ever present, comforting, guiding, preserving His creation. Christian Science also teaches that God is Principle, governing the universe through wise and just spiritual law. God is infinite good; and in man's experience, the effect of such a cause can only be good.
God is both Life and Spirit, which means that Life has no element of materiality and is therefore indestructible. Man's spiritual selfhood and immortality are the reflection of God, or Life, therefore man, too, is indestructible.
Evil, denying God's wise government of His creation, claims that it can control men's thoughts and lives. Mrs. Eddy warns that "The crimes committed under this new regime of mind-power, when brought to light, will make stout hearts quail." She says, "Its mystery protects it now, for it is not yet known" (Mis. p. 222).
Some of the mystery has cleared, and many fine thinkers are beginning to be aware of the methods of mental manipulation. The experience of our captive soldiers with what is called "brainwashing" aroused many people who had previously been asleep to this evil. In recent years a number of thoughtful books have been written on this subject in various countries, but most of them only point out the evil, knowing no solution to recommend for it. However, even their bringing it out from under the cover of secrecy is a step in progress.
A well-known British author (Charles Morgan in "Liberties of the Mind") writes, "The problem of the liberties of the mind . . . is today as urgent and practical as the problem of the emancipation of slaves was in the past . . . it is important that we should observe the nature of the enemy and recognize that our minds, their integrity, lucidity and freedom, are the object of attack."
As long ago as 1875 Mrs. Eddy wrote the textbook of Christian Science, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," which explains to all who read it understandingly, how by knowing they are influenced only by divine Mind, they can defend themselves from any system which would try to interfere with their freedom to think clearly. Enlightened spiritual defense is the only effective safeguard.
Those who do not yet understand God as the creative and governing one Mind, controlling His own universe, are trying various material ways of changing and molding human thought, in a mistaken effort to benefit mankind.
Sales psychology has for many years attempted through suggestion to influence potential customers to buy, and the method was considered a success even if it persuaded the victim to buy things he did not need. More recently what is called subliminal advertising has presumed to control the thought of whole audiences through suggestions insinuated into television programs. The inventors of this system believe they can thus force people to buy whatever product is presented to them. These are phases of interferences with our freedom to think intelligently.
The ability to think is a great talent each of us has received from his creator. It is our obligation to use this power rightly, to benefit ourselves and our world. Let us never through voluntary consent or through neglect, yield this right to another's mental despotism, even if it claims that it can benefit us.
Some years ago exhibitions of hypnotism were given as vaudeville entertainment, and it was then well known that the subject who yielded his mental freedom to despotic control by another's human will grew increasingly incapable of resisting this mesmerism, and gradually lost all self-government.
Then you can see that one who yields his mental independence to the control of another's will would be less able thereafter to resist the mental attack of those who wished to "brain-wash" him or to use any other phase of mental manipulation to harm him or cripple his usefulness. We should never be willing to yield to anyone's despotic mental control for any reason.
Evil is not power. It is an illusion that a force opposite to good can exist and operate, when God who is infinite good is All-in-all and has no opposite. The power of God's wisdom and love is the only power.
The great characters who have contributed to men's progress, spiritually, scientifically, artistically have been the thinkers who were free from being influenced by the narrow limits of dogmatic viewpoints and static tradition. They were not content to just think other people's thoughts and follow an established pattern.
Jesus, as a child, must have been brought up in the customary tradition of the ritualistic religion of his people, but this did not determine his theology nor limit his spiritual inspiration. He had but one theology the truth God knows of His own being and of His spiritual and perfect creation.
Those around him might be slaves to dogma and ritual not he. They were slaves to Rome but not he. He was free even in his babyhood from Herod's decree of death to all boy babies. He was free from the dictates of physiology about both birth and death. He was free from hatred, from expressing it or being victimized by it. His thoughts and life were God-controlled.
Christian Science differentiates between the words "Christ" and "Jesus." Science and Health in explaining this difference tells us (p. 473), "Christ is the ideal Truth, that comes to heal sickness and sin through Christian Science, and attributes all power to God. Jesus is the name of the man who, more than all other men, has presented Christ, the true idea of God, healing the sick and the sinning and destroying the power of death. Jesus is the human man, and Christ is the divine idea."
Jesus taught and lived his understanding of the fatherhood of God. He knew man to be the son of God and realized that it was his own conscious oneness with the Father which gave him power to heal and teach. Jesus knew that our divine Father unfailingly supports and sustains His creation, and expresses in it His own goodness and wisdom.
It is Christian Science which has revealed God as Mother, or divine Love. Humanity yearns for the mothering of God. The feeling of insecurity and fear of the future, an anxious attitude of "anything may happen," is replaced by a consciousness of safety when we know man is protected and guided by divine Mother-Love. Conflicting ambitions and goals of nations or of individuals can only be resolved into harmonious cooperation by the understanding that we have all one parentage, and that divine Love's fatherhood and motherhood are reflected in man's enlightened love for his brother.
Extremes of materialism expressed in crime waves, drug addiction, the temptation to use human inventions to destroy life, civilization and culture, instead of applying them to liberate and enrich men's experience all these aspects of intensifying materiality can be nullified in just one way, by a growing, expanding, soaring increase in spirituality. Where does one find it? In his conscious oneness with his Father-Mother God, with God's tender purity, changeless goodness and constant love.
We can never be in any place or condition where the love of God cannot reach us, and when we listen, we can always hear God's voice telling us we are safe and beloved.
A number of Scriptural prophecies have foretold two great revelations of the Christ to humanity. Only two. This makes it clear that all that was needed for the full redemption, the complete salvation of mankind, would be available to us when the first and second revelations had been accomplished.
In Zechariah (4:l-3,14) we read the description of the vision of the two candlesticks and two olive trees which typify "the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth." Jesus himself, whose lifework was the fulfillment of the prophecy of the first great revelation of the Christ to humanity, told us there would be a second, the Comforter which would bring his teaching to our remembrance.
What of the second great revelation? This prophecy found its fulfillment in the discovery of Christian Science by Mary Baker Eddy. A discovery, not an invention.
Why were only the two revelations foretold? May the answer be in Jesus' words when he said of the second revelation of the Christ, that it would remain with us forever (John 14:16)? So we have no need for further revelation. The need now is for our progress in heeding it, and following its light.
Christian Science heals sickness and sin, but it is more than a system of spiritual healing. It is a theology, and the purity of its teaching is safeguarded for present and future generations by the Church founded by Mrs. Eddy The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, and its branches in many countries throughout the world and by the Manual which governs this Church through inspired laws written by Mrs. Eddy under God's direction.
Just as Jesus had prepared faithfully for thirty years for his spiritual ministry, so, although Mrs. Eddy discovered Christian Science in 1866, she tells us: "God had been graciously preparing me during many years for the reception of this final revelation of the absolute divine Principle of scientific mental healing" (Science and Health, p. 107). How had God prepared her? How was she uniquely fitted for this discovery?
She had great mental freedom. Even in her youth she saw beyond the religious teaching of her parents' church and dared to question the cruel doctrine of predestination. The spiritual clarity of her thought remained unconfused by the intellectual and philosophic wrestlings of her day. After her discovery of Christian Science, the criticism and intolerance she received even from her own relatives did not cripple her freedom to fulfill God's holy purpose for her mission. In the years immediately following her discovery she was anything but free from a material standpoint. She had almost no financial income, no settled home, not even a warm room in which to work, or the comforting warmth of understanding friends supporting her great endeavor. But she had great spiritual freedom.
She was prepared for her holy mission by her deeply rooted spirituality, her willingness to be God's messenger, and to make every necessary sacrifice of her own comfort and material security to meet the needs of her fellow men.
Although the Bible had been faithfully studied and revered in her childhood home, Mrs. Eddy learned that Scriptural teaching is practical to heal and guide humanity only when it is spiritually interpreted. When she was healed by inspired study of the Bible, she proved the effectiveness of her revelation for many years, by healing the sick and redeeming sinners, before she presented this demonstrable Science to the world in her book, Science and Health. Just as Jesus healed and taught others to heal, so Mrs. Eddy was able to impart to others her demonstrable understanding of the Christ, Truth, and it enabled them also to heal.
Christian Scientists rely entirely on God for healing, even as Jesus did, so they use no material remedies. But do not feel you have given up material remedies if you use material mind remedies, such as will power, hypnotism, psychiatry and various forms of pseudo-metaphysics.
Some systems which try to imitate Christian Science recommend a sort of self-mesmerism by the use of vapid repetitions of optimistic or so-called "positive" statements. This is not at all the same thing as studying and understanding divine law, and applying it accurately. The human mind has not power to heal. It is God, divine Mind, which heals. Mrs. Eddy tells us (Science and Health, p. 12), "It is neither Science nor Truth which acts through blind belief, nor is it the human understanding of the divine healing Principle as manifested in Jesus, whose humble prayers were deep and conscientious protests of Truth, of man's likeness to God and of man's unity with Truth and Love."
When we consider Jesus' example, it seems strange that anyone could have asked Mrs. Eddy whether it is wrong to pray for the recovery of the sick. But she was asked, and she answered (Mis., p. 59), "Not if we pray Scripturally, with the understanding that God has given all things to those who love Him; but pleading with infinite Love to love us, or to restore health and harmony, and then to admit that it has been lost under His government, is the prayer of doubt and mortal belief that is unavailing in divine Science."
One who knew Mrs. Eddy tells us that when she prayed "It was not as though she had gone to the Father in prayer, but rather as though, because she was with the Father, she prayed" (We Knew Mary Baker Eddy, 2nd Series, p. 6).
If we are to feel as certain of our oneness with the Father as she did, we must learn to understand Him. People sometimes question "What is the reason for my sickness, accident, business failure? Is God punishing me? Why did it happen?" The answer is in a simple sentence from Science and Health, (p. 390); "It is our ignorance of God, the divine Principle, which produces apparent discord, and the right understanding of Him restores harmony."
How can we gain this right understanding of God? The Bible promises, "Thou shall find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart . . ." (Deut. 4:29).
The mother of a five-year-old Sunday School pupil reminded him that the Bible teaches us that God created man in His own image; then she explained that he himself was therefore God's likeness expressing perfection, since God is perfect. To help him understand the word "image" she used the illustration of a mirrored reflection. She spoke of a rose in front of a mirror and explained that the reflected rose would have the color, grace and beauty of the original rose. Then she asked her son, "If it were God instead of the rose being reflected, what would you see in the mirror?" To her surprise, the small lad promptly answered, "nothing." He had learned that God is Spirit, and cannot be seen materially. On this basis she could help him to understand that man, who is the exact likeness of God, reflects His qualities and is therefore not material, but spiritual.
Take away church buildings, burn religious books, and people are still free to serve God. A man who is free to obey divine Principle is obeying God, for God is Principle. One who is free to express love is God's witness, for God is Love. A spiritually-minded man gives evidence that God is Spirit. He is free to express inspiration and joy, and thus to show forth the nature of God who is Soul. His alertness and the activity of good in his life give evidence that God is Life.
Much worse than the destruction of religious buildings and books is the mental despotism which attempts to kill the love of God in men's hearts. This cannot succeed. Mrs. Eddy foresaw, however, that the destructive effort would be made, for she wrote (Science and Health, p. 28), "The determination to hold Spirit in the grasp of matter is the persecutor of Truth and Love."
In countries under dictatorships which forbid religious freedom, there are encouraging proofs that love for God is still a living fire in the hearts of the people. I learned recently of a Christian Scientist in such an area, whose religious books were taken from her by the police. A few weeks later the police officer returned to say how sorry he was that he had had to do it, but he explained that of course he had to do his duty. Then his face suddenly lighted up and he added, "But the wonderful things I'm reading in those books!"
Even in early Bible history we have records which show that the worshippers of the one God had experience with enemies who tried to overthrow them by using mental weapons.
You recall that when Nehemiah and his people were working to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, their enemies repeatedly attacked them with aggressive suggestions, intended to weaken their hands, fill them with fear, and stop the constructive work. Why did they not succeed? Because Nehemiah recognized these attacks as evil suggestion, not as truth and the confidence of his people in God's support and their willing obedience to God's commands, strengthened them, and the work was completed (Nehemiah 6).
At another time, Balak, king of the Moabites, distrustful of the ability of his own army to defeat the children of Israel, called upon Balaam to help, for it was believed that Balaam had power, through black magic, to bless or destroy a people, according to his will. Balak asked him to curse the children of Israel. But we know that the voice of God spoke to Balaam so clearly that it stilled the belief in the powers of darkness, and he could only say to King Balak, "How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? . . . Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed: and I cannot reverse it" (Num.23:8,20).
Herein lies our confidence of safety. Jeremiah understood this when he asked (Lam 3:37): "Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not?"
There is no curse on man, the beloved son of God. The prayer of Christian Science acknowledges that he is blessed and preserved by his creator.
By identifying ourselves with all the glorious spiritual qualities we know to be attributes of God, we are praying the enlightened and effectual prayer of Christian Science. Thus when we consistently maintain that we have "sovereign power to think and act rightly" because this power is given us of God, we are free from hypnotic control, from the mesmeric influence of evil propaganda of any kind, and free to bear witness to God's loving, intelligent government of man's life and relationships.
Some of our young people today seem to have lost the great gift called conscience, which tells them what is right or wrong. They do things which are radically wrong from any standpoint of their normal home, school and church education, and blandly say, "1 didn't think it was wrong." Why didn't they? Who said that? It was never their thinking. This is an enemy attack.
What is the enemy? It may call itself one nation or another, one cult or another but its surname is just the carnal mind, which the Bible tells us is "enmity against God" (Rom. 8:7). It is opposed to everything God-like and noble because it fears them. Good is always a danger to evil, just as light imperils darkness.
We heard many reports during the last World War that even the opposing nations recognized the generally high moral standards and morale of our young people. Their spirituality, their purity, is the thing which any enemy fears most. They know this is a source of spiritual and moral strength which is a Christian country's greatest line of defense so of course their attack is chiefly against those qualities which they fear. A strong spiritual education is the most impenetrable armor we can give our children.
We must teach them to see the power of good and acknowledge no other; to yield their thoughts and actions to the control of God, divine Mind, believing in and obeying no other control thus to prove themselves to be children of light, in whom there is no darkness.
It is natural to everyone to want to feel self-governed, but there has been a sad misconception of the meaning of true self-government. Does the liberty guaranteed to citizens under the constitution of a democratic country mean freedom to interfere with another man's rights freedom to ride a motorcycle over a neighbor's garden, or to destroy his happiness or his life? It means, instead, freedom to do right, and nothing else is liberty.
Science and Health tells us (p.106), "God has endowed man with inalienable rights, among which are self-government, reason, and conscience. Man is properly self-governed only when he is guided rightly and governed by his Maker, divine Truth and Love."
Freedom to govern one's self and self-discipline go hand-in-hand, but it is strange how often people think they can resist self-discipline and still welcome the freedom to govern themselves.
You may remember that when Jesus taught the Jews who believed on him, that knowing the truth would make them free, they answered him: "We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man; how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?'' He explained that "whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin" (John 8:32-34). It would be well to remember this if one is tempted to believe he wants to be "free" to sin. No one is free while doing wrong. He is a slave to the evil.
This was clear to a young woman who was a very new student of Christian Science; when at a college party, she refused cocktails and cigarettes, a friend asked why Christian Science was opposed to the use of alcohol and tobacco, and she replied quite simply: "Because Christian Science is a religion of freedom, and those things are slavery."
If we are unwilling to be enslaved, we should challenge the thoughts which present themselves to us: "Is this thought from God who loves me, or from an enemy who wishes to destroy me?" We are warned in Science and Health (p. 82), "In a world of sin and sensuality hastening to a greater development of power, it is wise earnestly to consider whether it is the human mind or the divine Mind which is influencing one."
You may feel that mental manipulation is a distant problem not connected with your own experience. But have you ever encountered insistent suggestion in print or over the air, that a certain epidemic of sickness was coming, and then let it control your thought so that you actually developed the disease?
When one understands Christian Science, it awakens him to his God-given dominion over every type of erroneous suggestion which knocks at the door of his thought. He realizes that his thoughts come from God, divine Mind; thoughts of joy, never sorrow; of calm trust in divine Love, which annuls all fear; of satisfaction with that which is good in God's sight; thoughts of health, not sickness.
A young girl who is a Christian Scientist spent the night visiting a school friend. In the morning her friend was stricken with polio, a severe case which was lost in spite of the earnest efforts of her parents and the doctor.
The young Christian Scientist was quarantined by the health authorities. At the end of what was called the incubation period, this girl had the identical symptoms which had proved fatal for her friend.
A Christian Science practitioner was called at four o'clock in the morning. Why could the practitioner help? Through her study of Christian Science she understood that man's thoughts come to him from God, and thus he is free from the aggressive suggestions of fear and of so-called medical law. It was clear to her that fear had produced the symptoms, and that divine Love casts out fear, and its liberating law frees men from any compulsion to fulfill medical prophecy regarding contagion. We read in Science and Health (p. 151), "Fear never stopped being and its action . . . Every function of the real man is governed by the divine Mind."
She knew that man who is always in the presence of God has therefore never been in touch with anything but good. God's just law decrees for His beloved creation the continuity of uninterrupted harmony and well-being.
The child was soon at peace and could rest quietly. By eight o'clock the same morning she asked her mother for permission to get up and rake leaves in their garden. The healing was complete.
Fear and its crippling effect on men's lives flee before enlightened trust in God.
In a little country hotel in England I found these words written over the fire-place: "Fear knocked at the door . . . Faith answered . . . No one was there."
May I remind you of some of the points we have discussed in this lecture?
God is infinite Mind, and His infinitude means that there can be no other mind. Man is created and controlled by this Mind. Man's thought can never be confused or misguided, for the divine Mind he reflects expresses order and clarity. He could not be uninspired or joyless or dull, for God is Soul, and Soul's attributes of freshness, inspiration, and joy are forever reflected by His creation.
With her glorious understanding of the nature of God and man, we can see why Mrs. Eddy was able to assure us that we have "sovereign power to think and act rightly, and that nothing can dispossess (us) of this heritage and trespass on Love."
The Bible teaches that "it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13). So no other will exists, to control our actions and relationships. God gave man dominion over the whole earth, and with this dominion we can assert our independence of all evil influence. In Mrs. Eddy's words (Mis., p. 113) "He who refuses to be influenced by any but the divine Mind, commits his way to God, and rises superior to suggestions from an evil source."
We can face each day courageously, knowing as the Psalmist assures us, that even "the desire of the wicked shall perish" (Ps. 112:10).
In our prayers we behold the omnipresence of God, whose goodness and allness leave no place for evil; we see God as omnipotent, thus we know that good alone has power.
A hymn in the Christian Science Hymnal (No. 18) tells us "The brave become bolder the darker the night." I thought of this one evening as I noticed that at twilight the stars were dim, but as the night grew darker, their light shone with greater and greater clarity.
No darkness which attempts to overwhelm us, or our world, can ever accomplish anything except to bring greater brilliance to our spiritual light, greater strength to our Christian character, firmer trust in God. Even Jesus' crucifixion was a step on the way to his ascension, and its only result was the glorification of God and man.
The challenges of our day look formidable, but the spiritual strength and enlightenment God has given us are far greater. How do we solve such problems? We never shout at evil, or retreat before it, believing it to be something real and powerful. How does a fine mathematician approach the working out of a demanding problem in mathematics? He does not begin yelling at it, rushing around the room saying how terrible it is that he must work it out; but if he is intelligent about it he is calm, he thinks clearly, he utilizes in a very sure and cool way the law of mathematics which he knows, and he does not stop the work until he has a clear conviction that he has solved the problem. A calm thought, filled with spiritual conviction, is at peace, and this serenity makes it possible for us to hear the truth which God reveals to us, so clearly that the din of mortal mind's false claims fades into silence.
We have the comfort of Mrs. Eddy's words that "He who dwelleth in eternal light is bigger than the shadow, and will guard and guide His own" (Mis., p. 134).