Jules Cern, C.S., of Scarsdale, N.Y.
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Ability to help others depends on spiritual understanding of the truth about God and man, Jules Cern, C.S., told an audience in Boston yesterday.
A member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship from Scarsdale, N.Y., Mr. Cern spoke in The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, on the subject "The Truth That Heals."
Mr. Cern was introduced by the Second Reader of The Mother Church, Mrs. Virginia Nichols Chancey. The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
Perhaps some of you read about a shopkeeper in England, who filled a fishbowl with clear water. Without putting anything else into the bowl, not even a fish, he placed the fishbowl in his shop window. Alongside the bowl he put a small sign which read, "Transparent Dragon Fighting Fish." Then he waited to see what would happen when people noticed the bowl of water and the sign.
He didn't have to wait very long. In a short time a crowd had gathered to stare at the bowl. Suddenly, one man shouted, "Look! The fish are fighting!" Another exclaimed, "You can see the ripples on the water!" Then others in the crowd agreed that they could see the fighting fish also. Several of them went into the shop to ask the price of the Transparent Dragon Fighting Fish.
At first the startled shopkeeper told the enquirers that the fish were not for sale. But some of them were so insistent upon buying the nonexistent fish, he finally decided to tell them the truth. He explained that he had simply put the fishbowl and sign in the window to attract attention to his shop.
Much to his surprise, when he told them the truth, the would-be customers didn't like it at all. It seemed to be an insult to their intelligence to be told that what they thought they saw with their own eyes didn't even exist. It was not easy for them to accept the fact that they were only seeing their own thoughts. They were actually intent upon buying their own mental misconceptions.
In a similar way, mankind seems to observe the universe like a fishbowl, and is positive that it's full of fighting mortals; fighting for health, fighting for wealth, fighting for happiness, or fighting each other. It has been looking at a material world and thinking that it sees creation. It has fixed its gaze upon physicality and is convinced that it sees man's identity.
Mankind is apparently unaware that it is only seeing its own thoughts. It has insisted upon "buying" its own mental misconceptions. It seems to be an insult to its intelligence to be told that what it thinks it sees with its own eyes doesn't even exist. And, like those who resisted the truth about the fishbowl in the shop window, most of mankind has resisted the truth about God, man, and the universe. This is only because it has not understood divine Truth.
The major premise of Christian Science is that God is absolutely All. Christian Science explains that for God to be All, right here, everywhere, every moment, God must be and is infinite Spirit. The infinity of Spirit means that Spirit fills all space and all place. As recorded in the Bible, "Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord" (Jer. 23:24).
This does not mean that infinite Spirit is in a physical sky above and in a material earth below. This would imply pantheism, the infusion of God, Spirit, into matter. Nor does it mean that Spirit is on, around, or above a material heaven and earth. This would imply dualism, the coexistence of Spirit and matter. This would make Spirit less than All.
The true meaning of God's allness is that, right where a physical sky and material earth are believed to be, right there and everywhere infinite divine Spirit exists exclusively. So we see that infinite Spirit does not encompass matter, nor is it encompassed by matter. God, Spirit, is All, everywhere, instead of matter.
Even though infinite Spirit does not share its allness with matter, this does not imply that infinite Spirit is a vast, dull, empty vacuum. Infinite Spirit is infinite Mind, all-pervading intelligence, the only Mind. Infinite Spirit is infinite Life, omniactive, eternally perfect Life. Infinite Spirit is infinite Love, all-harmonious Love. Infinite Spirit is infinite Truth, all real existence. Infinite Spirit is infinite Soul, the boundless substance of all being. Infinite Spirit is infinite Principle, the only creator, the only power there is.
This is clearly stated by the Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy. In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," she writes, "The Scriptures imply that God is All-in-all." And a little further on she adds, "He fills all space, and it is impossible to conceive of such omnipresence and individuality except as infinite Spirit or Mind. Hence all is Spirit and spiritual" (p. 331).
Radical, you say? Yes, of course. But infinite Truth is radical. If it compromised with falsity, it would cease to be infinite Truth. It would cease to be either helpful or reliable. Its being so radical is what makes it so practical. It saves us from our own mental misconception that man and the universe are material.
Now it would not be surprising for someone to say, "Wait a minute! Hold everything right there! If I were the only one who believed that man and the universe are material, I might accept what you say. But I'm not the only one! Practically everyone else believes it too. Surely, all of us can't be wrong!" This is substantially the same thing that people said in the days when practically everyone believed that the world was flat: "Surely, all of us can't be wrong!" But they were. All of them! A flat material world never was in creation. It was only in the thought of those who believed it. Let's have another look at that fishbowl in the shop window.
The people outside the shop window believed that the shopkeeper had put Transparent Dragon Fighting Fish into the fishbowl. But wasn't it only their own thinking that had put those fish into the fishbowl? But even then, those fish never were really in the fishbowl. They never were really anywhere. They were only in the thought of those who believed they were there. The mere fact that practically everyone at the shop window believed there was such a thing as a Transparent Dragon Fighting Fish did not make it true.
Accordingly, we might be inclined to believe that God has created a material man and material universe. Whereas, only material thinking creates a material man and material universe. But even then, they never are really created. They never really exist anywhere. They are only in the thought of the one believing them to be somewhere. The mere fact that practically everyone else believes there is a material man and material universe, does not make it true.
Incredible? Not at all. Perhaps this illustration will make it even clearer. At a recent musical show all of the action took place in front of a plain, solid screen. While everyone could hear the music very plainly, nevertheless the orchestra was nowhere in sight. The stage had been extended to cover the orchestra pit, and the music obviously was not coming from underneath. At the opening of the second act some lights went on behind what had appeared to be the solid screen. Then the orchestra could be seen through the screen as plainly as if the screen were not even there. This particular type of screen is called a scrim. A scrim hides what is going on behind it, except when light is brought to bear on what it is hiding. When the light is applied, the scrim no longer conceals what is going on.
In like manner, the thought that matter exists is nothing more than a mental scrim. It seems to hide the true view of existence until the light of Truth is applied to our thought. Then we are able to see through the mental scrim of material thought, and its star performers, material objects and physical bodies, and their supporting cast of sin, discord, disease, and death.
When one is accustomed to darkness, the turning on of light may seem blinding at first. But this is no reason to turn off the light. If one persists with the light, it will soon reveal the many things he stumbled over in the darkness. But even more important, it will illumine the way for each step thereafter.
Similarly, the light of Truth reveals what is really going on: infinite Spirit, the only Mind, perfect Life, omnipresent Love, and God's perfect, spiritual ideas, spiritual man and spiritual universe. Actually, God's allness is not going on behind anything material. It is All, instead of anything material.
To some of you Spirit's allness may seem to imply the annihilation of man and the universe. On the contrary. Spirit's allness does not annihilate man. It perpetuates man. Spirit's allness does not annihilate the universe. It is the very substance of the universe. When we are aware of the absolute allness of Spirit, the only thing that is annihilated is the false belief that man and the universe are material. This does not deprive us of anything but our own limited false concepts of existence.
For instance, when the shopkeeper told his would-be customers that there was no such thing as a Transparent Dragon Fighting Fish, this truth did not deprive them of fish. It simply saved them from their own mental misconception of fish.
In a similar way, when we learn the truth of being, that there is no such thing as a material man or material universe, this does not deprive us of man and the universe. It simply saves us from a mental misconception of man and the universe. Divine Truth does not in any way eliminate identity. It spiritualizes our concept of identity. This does not mean that the truth spiritualizes matter or physicality. It spiritualizes the thought which believes there is matter or physicality.
Now, if identity is not physical, then what is it? The Bible makes the entity and true identity of man very clear. In the first chapter of Genesis it reads, "God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him" (1:27). When we bear in thought that God is infinite Spirit, this passage makes it plain that Spirit created man in Spirit's own image. There is nothing mortal or physical about God, so there can be nothing mortal or physical about the image of God. If a mortal body were the image of God, this would mean that God was the original mortal; even an infinite mortal. This would also mean that, if every mortal looked like God, then every mortal would look alike. And if you think the world is confused now, you can imagine what that would do to it!
Logically, man is not synonymous with physicality. Man is synonymous with spiritual identity and spiritual individuality. This does not extinguish man's identity or individuality. It distinguishes it. To illustrate, a ray of sunlight is not extinguished by the sun. It is distinguished as being an individual manifestation of the sun.
In like manner, man's identity is not extinguished by the allness of infinite Spirit. It is distinguished as being a completely spiritual image of infinite Spirit. Man's individuality is not extinguished by the allness of infinite Mind. It is distinguished as a spiritual idea of infinite Mind, inseparable from this Mind. Not one element of man's being is extinguished by the allness of infinite Life. It is distinguished as being the all-harmonious, spiritual expression of perfect infinite Life.
Now this understanding of man's identity and God's allness can make a significant difference in our everyday experience. Yes, even when it involves others who seem to be unaware of divine Truth.
A short time ago, a man and his wife, both students of Christian Science, were driving a rented car in a foreign city. As they approached the hotel where they were to stay, they started looking for the automobile entrance. They were driving very slowly, when suddenly they heard a loud, impatient sounding of a horn behind them. Realizing they were delaying the car behind, they went a little faster. As they turned the corner and approached the other side of the hotel, they saw several automobile entrances. But finding the correct one was not easy. So they were forced to slow down once more. And again came the loud, impatient sounding of the horn behind. The couple tried to give the car as much room as possible to pass in the heavy traffic. And as the car drew abreast of them, two very angry-looking young men made threatening gestures at them.
If this had occurred in the days before the husband became a student of Christian Science, he probably would have responded with some threatening gestures of his own. However, at this point, the husband and wife affirmed the truth of being, the allness and ever-presence of divine Mind, and the never-presence of any other mind. This light of Truth enabled them to see through the scrim of material thoughts. They thanked God that right where hatred and animosity seemed to be, that very place, and all space and place, are already filled, exclusively, with infinite Love. They acknowledged that man's identity is not a mortal, good or bad, but always immortal, spiritual, the perfect loving image of infinite Love.
As both cars continued to move along abreast of each other, the husband was led to lower the window on his side of the car. He gestured to the young men to lower their window also. As they did so, somewhat puzzled, the husband said to them, "Have you ever been a stranger in a city, and didn't know where to go? We're looking for the automobile entrance to this hotel." He had hardly finished speaking when the young men pulled ahead, stopped their car, got out, held up traffic, and directed the couple to the proper entrance.
Apparently, the two young men knew very little, if anything, about divine Truth. But the husband and wife certainly proved that their own understanding of God's allness was sufficient to heal a discordant situation involving others. In the final analysis, they were only dealing with their own false concepts of identity. They had observed the fishbowl of the world and momentarily believed that it contained at least two, not-so-transparent, fighting-angry mortals. They also believed that it contained two jeopardized mortals.
The question is, What had to be dealt with, the false beliefs of other mortals, or their own false beliefs that there are any mortals? God made all that was made, but He never made an unlikeness of Himself. And anything seeming to be mortal is an unlikeness of God, infinite Spirit. When we flood our thought with the light of divine Love's allness, it dispels the darkness of belief in anything unlike divine Love. Mrs. Eddy makes this point in Science and Health, "Clad in the panoply of Love, human hatred cannot reach you" (p. 571).
Of course it is gratifying to heal human relationship problems with the truth of man's identity — that he is really spiritual and perfect. But how can it help in a case of sickness, where man seems to be very physical and imperfect? Perhaps the experience of a friend of mine will answer the question.
He was in his hotel room in a distant city, when he was suddenly seized with unbearable kidney pains. Although he was a student of Christian Science, the suffering was so intense it was difficult for him to think clearly. He realized that he needed the help of a Christian Science practitioner, so he wasted no time calling one by long-distance telephone.
Now you might wonder how anyone can heal someone else who is in physical agony, when they are hundreds of miles apart. To put it simply, Christian Science treatment is not one human mind trying to help or control another human mind, whether near or far. Christian Science healing rests entirely on the truth that God is the ONLY Mind, ever-present and omnipresent. Neither physical nearness nor physical distance is a factor in God's omnipresence. How comforting are these words in the Bible: "Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord" (Jer. 23:23,24). You may be sure there is no distance between God and man.
Whatever is true about God and man right here, is true about God and man "out there." In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy states it in these words: "God is at once the centre and circumference of being" (pp. 203, 204). Without exception, God, infinite Spirit, perfect Life, is the boundless center and boundless circumference of all existence.
On the basis of this divine revelation Christian Science enables us to recognize that anything that seems to be material or physical is nothing more than a false belief, a mental misconception that there is something unlike or besides infinite Spirit. Since man is the image of Spirit, then physicality is nothing more than a mental misconception of man's identity. Conclusively, diseased physicality is nothing more than a mental misconception of man's condition.
Accordingly, the Christian Science practitioner who was called in the distant city to heal the man with kidney pains was quick to acknowledge the truth of being. He realized that, where God is, there is perfect Life. And there is no place where God is not. So wherever man is, he is in Life's omnipresence and perfection. There is nothing organic or structural about divine Life, so there can be nothing organic or structural about man, the image of divine Life. There is nothing wrong with God, so there can be nothing wrong with man, God's likeness. There are no restrictions on God, so there can be no restrictions on Life, nor on Life's image, man. Life's perfection assures man's perfection, right now, every moment, everywhere, always.
My friend was permanently healed that same day. His distance from the practitioner had been no obstacle. Why? In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy tells us, "The 'still, small voice' of scientific thought reaches over continent and ocean to the globe's remotest bound." Later she adds, "It is heard in the desert and in dark places of fear." And, "Then is the power of Truth demonstrated, — made manifest in the destruction of error" (p. 559).
Christ Jesus knew more about the truth that heals than anyone else. Consequently he was able to heal countless numbers of people, provide food for multitudes, and raise the dead. And he was able to do it because there was no mental scrim of materiality in his concept of God and man.
But not in any instance did this truth of being harm, deprive, or impair the human concept of man's identity. Not once did Jesus rebuke wholesome happiness, or advocate indifference towards others. Not only his example but his Sermon on the Mount encouraged pure affection, and useful activities.
If anything should try to make you believe that divine Truth might deprive you of some of the fun, the friendships, the affections, and even the incentives of human activities, just consider the activities of Jesus. He attended banquets, dinner parties, and weddings. He mingled with the people, enjoyed the hospitality of friends, and had the most useful human activity ever known. But everything he did humanly was divinely impelled, to glorify God and benefit others.
What he did do by his words and works was to change the basis of thought from matter to Spirit, from material limitation to unlimited spiritual substance, from mortal material concepts of life to incorporeal, divine concepts of Life.
The divine concept, or true identity of all being, is what Christian Science defines as the Christ. Jesus was completely aware of the Christ, or true idea of being. It was only natural that he, who was originally called Jesus, should ultimately be referred to as Jesus Christ, or Christ Jesus. His whole outlook was that God, Spirit, is already All-in-all, and that identity is already all-spiritual, all-perfect and eternal. By his resurrection and ascension, he proved that the thought that there is mortality is all there is to it. Jesus demonstrated that spiritualizing thought harmonizes thought. And when thought is harmonized, experience is harmonized.
When you turn on light, you eliminate darkness. When you turn on the light of Truth, you eliminate the darkness of material thought. You eliminate the scrim of misconceptions of identity. You eliminate the basis of hatred, jealousy, dishonesty, prejudice, addiction, adultery, and fear. THESE are the culprits which take the fun out of life, spoil friendships, destroy the affections, and demoralize incentives. Whereas, illuminating thought with Christ, Truth, the true idea of all being, provides real fun, broadens friendships, solidifies the affections, and sponsors useful activities.
Mrs. Eddy explains it in these words. "Self-renunciation of all that constitutes a so-called material man, and the acknowledgment and achievement of his spiritual identity as the child of God, is Science that opens the very flood-gates of heaven; whence good flows into every avenue of being, cleansing mortals of all uncleanness, destroying all suffering, and demonstrating the true image and likeness" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 185).
Perhaps some of you have noticed with what complete acceptance the writings of Mary Baker Eddy have been quoted. There is a valid reason for this. A prayerful study of her writings not only brings healing or harmony into our own experience, it makes it possible for us to help and heal others. With such results, it's only natural to accept her writings with unquestioned trust.
These writings are not a compilation of one woman's human opinions about God, man, and the universe. They are the divine revelations which came to her when she relinquished all human opinions. She was near death when she turned to the Bible for some ray of hope. It was not unusual for her to study the Bible. Her writings are punctuated with her great reverence for the Bible. It was her textbook.
Now in her struggle for survival, she turned naturally to the Bible. But she had no preconceived notion that it was to bring a discovery of anything unusual. She humbly pondered the Biblical passage relating the healing of the palsied man by Christ Jesus. Suddenly, a glimmer of the light of reality, revealing Life as infinite Spirit, illumined her thought. She was healed.
In her account of this event, she states, "That short experience included a glimpse of the great fact that I have since tried to make plain to others, namely, Life in and of Spirit; this Life being the sole reality of existence" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 24).
The truth about God, man, and the universe continued to unfold. Many others were being healed and uplifted through her spiritual understanding. She knew that it just had to be made available to all mankind. To do this, she wrote the textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." Later, to foster this revelation, she established The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts. Since that time, branches of The Mother Church have been established around the world.
The Founder of Christian Science did everything possible to make it clear that the healing power of Truth was of God and not of a person. Light may come through a window. But light never comes from the window. The window is not the origin of light, it is merely the transparency through which the light comes. So Mrs. Eddy is loved and appreciated as being the transparency, the window, through which the full light of spiritual understanding has been revealed.
Columbus did not originate America. It was already there. He simply discovered it. Mrs. Eddy did not originate divine Truth. It has been here all the time and always will be. Mrs. Eddy simply discovered it. And as we discover this truth for ourselves and come to understand it, not only we are benefited, but we are able to help others as well. These blessings come in abundance, as Mrs. Eddy reveals, when we mentally relinquish "all that constitutes a so-called material man."
Now it is one thing to mentally relinquish "all that constitutes a so-called material man," if he seems to be a stranger, or even a friend. But to let go of a material concept of a loved one seems to be quite a challenge. And yet, a loved one is just as entitled to be seen as God's perfect, spiritual idea as anyone else. And God's perfect, spiritual idea, is not a "so-called material man."
A student of Christian Science had to face this issue a few years ago. His wife had been suffering from an organic illness which had reduced her to extreme weakness. Since they were both students of Christian Science, he had tried, with all the spiritual understanding he had, to heal her. But no improvement was evident. He affirmed God's allness and perfection. He acknowledged that God is all the Life there is, and that all identity is, like the one Life, completely spiritual, always perfect. He declared that there is not one atom of matter in the allness of Spirit, nor one element of disease in the allness of perfect Life. He was aware that God is the only Mind, and that there is no mortal mind to interrupt man's perfection. He knew this to be the truth of being. He had seen it work in times past. Why not now?
When mental misconceptions, or material discords, do not respond to affirmations of Truth, it means that somewhere along the line of thought we are still believing something we shouldn't. It means that it's time to examine thought. It is somewhat like a woman and her handbag. She reaches inside it for a specific thing, and pulls out one item after another, except what she is looking for. Finally, she turns the handbag upside down and empties the entire contents on a table or the bed. Ultimately, she finds what she's looking for, and in the process she discovers several useless things she didn't even know she was carrying around. What she was looking for was there all the time. But all the useless things were obstructing it.
In like manner, if we're not getting the right results from the contents of our thought, it's time we took a thorough look at what we have been carrying around in it. We, too, might discover useless qualities of thought we never knew were there. Or maybe we knew they were there but couldn't be bothered to remove these undesirable obstructions. There are no obstructions in Truth's allness. So there must be no obstructions in our acceptance of Truth's allness. If we work with Truth and nothing else, it works with us and for us.
Now back to the husband. He realized that his understanding of Truth had resulted in the healing of others. Then why not his wife? Ah! Yes! His wife. His loved one. Then he had to face the challenge which he had evidently dodged up to that moment. He had not wanted to mentally let go of the material misconception of his wife's identity. But now he realized he must have no mental reservations or obstructions in his acceptance of her true spiritual identity. Then these words of Mrs. Eddy's came to him, "If one asks me, Is my concept of you right? I reply, The human concept is always imperfect; relinquish your human concept of me, or of any one, and find the divine, and you have gained the right one — and never until then" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 353).
He knew that it was vital for him to obey this admonition. Because the belief that man originates as a human concept is the basis of the belief that he degenerates as a human concept. This is emphasized in Science and Health, "The foundation of mortal discord is a false sense of man's origin" (p. 262).
Clearly, the belief that there is a mortal beginning is the foundation of the belief that there is a mortal ending. The belief that there is well matter is the foundation of the belief that there is sick matter.
Any concept of identity as mortal or physical is a mental obstruction, an illusion, whether it appears to be good or bad, sick or well, dead or alive. It is an illusion that identity is unlike infinite Spirit.
At last, the husband fully realized that his human concept of his wife was his own illusion. The darkness of his own mental scrim had been hiding the view of her true identity as God's perfect spiritual likeness. His thought was flooded with gratitude as the light of Spirit's allness and his wife's spiritual identity dispelled his mental obstruction.
Shortly following this spiritual refreshment, he was overjoyed to see his wife get out of bed, radiating happiness, animation, and freedom. The healing was complete.
It should be easy to understand why there is no doubt in the thought of that couple that the truth about God and man is not just a promise for the future, it is the premise of the present. It is indeed, the truth that heals.
So whenever we observe the fish-bowl of the world, and something tries to tell us that we're seeing fighting mortals — fighting for health, fighting for wealth, or fighting each other, we can flood the darkness of this mental scrim with the light of God's allness. We can rest assured that we are not ignoring what seem to be individual or universal problems. We are simply applying the all-powerful light of Truth. It is fully capable of dispelling the darkness of every false belief about God, man, and the universe.
These words of Mrs. Eddy in Science and Health epitomize this. She writes, "Man is, and forever has been, God's reflection. God is infinite, therefore ever present, and there is no other power nor presence. Hence the spirituality of the universe is the only fact of creation" (p. 471). This is the truth that heals.