Christian Science In Everyday Life
( Originally Published 1921 )
I AM inclined to ask you to indulge me in this one respect—I am to speak about a subject that is necessarily large, boundless. You are mostly students; you know how impossible it is for one to traverse, adequately, any great theme in an hour. I shall be obliged to say much in a rather abrupt, bald way and let many of my statements go without attempting to vindicate them by means of argument, for the reason that there will not be time enough for amplification. What I crave at your hands is this : because of the abruptness of some of my declarations, I hope you will not think that I come to you with any sort of effrontery, for I assure you that I feel a very considerable sense of humility in coming before any audience on this subject.
By way of introduction, I ask you to let your thought dwell upon an imaginary procession or line of men. Consider two groups of men, one of which consists of savages from the depths of dark Africa. Let them appear at one end of the line. At the other end, place such men as Lincoln, Franklin, Bacon, Emerson, and Gladstone. Now consider these two groups of men with reference to that which is distinctive concerning them. On the side of physicality the savage is superior. He will show an ability to endure more and to perform more by way of physical endeavor than the others. He can probably digest his food better; he has a better nervous system. At the World's Fair in Chicago, it was determined that the best specimen of physical manhood was a South Sea Islander.
Inasmuch as this group of men is superior on the plane of animality, what may we observe regarding the total relative value and consequence of the two groups. Is there any other difference or characteristic? Yes ! there is a vast difference in the realm of mentality and therein lies the chief distinction and the conspicuous superiority of the men who stand at the head of the line; moreover, these two instances of humanity indicate both the dwarfed limitations and boundless possibilities in the mental realm; they ought to attract attention to that which lies beyond, namely, the infinity of the Mind that is God.
Now fill up the gap between these two groups with all the gradations which indicate the entire range of the so-called human mind, and let the entire procession stand for historic humanity, and then we may observe other things of great importance.
The man at the foot of the line least knows how little he knows. The man at the head of the line best knows how little he knows and admits that the vast realm of knowledge lies, as yet, quite unexplored. He knows that, comparatively speaking, man-kind expresses very little exact, absolute knowledge. He knows that we have yet to learn the definite facts of being, and he best knows that these facts are to be spiritually discerned.
At the foot of this imaginary human procession is a state of dense materiality or animality; indeed, we here have a state of existence that is but little above the animal. About all that distinguishes such a human being is his ability to articulate, by means of words, his various requirements and instincts.
Observe that, at first, they make use of only the simplest and crudest of processes. Then they have recourse to more complex methods and tools; they begin to employ devices, implements, and expedients, and to show forth greater mental elaboration. As we move along the ascending scale, we find that they ponder the unknown and peer into the mystery of creation. With some small appreciation of the phenomena of daily existence, they inquire, "Where did we come from; what has induced the universe?" Then follows a maze of both crude and ornate speculative philosophy and, finally, we come to an instinctive and continuous searching after God or "gods many" and the erection of countless doctrines, creeds, dogmas, and beliefs, ranging all the way from the ridiculous to the sublime. In proceeding along the line, we come to the point where mentality takes on a scientific aspect. Later we notice the metaphysical, the idealistic, and the occult, while midway are to be discerned glimpses of pure divine spirituality and a capacity to reach out beyond the realm of crude sense and materiality and toward the real, supersensible capacity of man to know the truth. When the astronomer reaches this supersensible mental perception he uncovers his head, and declares, "The undevout astronomer is mad." In this state of advancement the mathematician, whose mental gaze ranges far out toward the unlimited, declares, with awe, that the science of numbers is infinite, and when he does this it is because of his own mental release and more adequate mental grasp. At the head of this long sequence of mental gradations, we find that state which is indicative of what is called spiritual-mindedness; we find the prophets and revelators who pass the frontiers of sheer materialism and discover something of the infinity and substance of Spirit, the verity of pure divine Science.
You know that no word is more misused than the word "science." You know that to speak of the science of cooking is absurd; one might as well speak of the science of boils or of the science of shipwrecks. Nothing is science except that which fundamentally is purely mental or spiritual.
Notwithstanding the many beliefs and mental moods of the race, we observe one place where may be found a distinct and significant segregation. The division is between that which is wholly materialistic as a trend of belief or philosophy, and that which is either metaphysical or spiritual, or both. Now permit me to say that at some place in this line of progress and mental advance, humanity may and does arrive at the mental stage or poise wherein it is enabled to grasp the significance of Christian Science.
This Science is wholly mental or spiritual and no one comprehends it until there is a sufficient attenuation of what is termed material belief to make it possible for one practically to turn from a belief in a material life basis, and to begin to work toward the possibilities of a spiritual life basis.
The human throng that we are considering stands for a race of people who, soon or late, cry and complain of heavy hearts and heavy burdens; soon or late, they murmur and lament because of disaster and a hard lot, and this misery of humanity is what comprises its long continued problem. Soon or late, everyone asks the most important question of history, "What must I do to be saved?" "Can I do anything to be saved, or am I under an irresistible doom?" Mankind has been trying for centuries to solve the problem, and after all the centuries confesses itself as being without a solution. There are the same tears, the same lamentation, the same reproach. A poor, suffering humanity is taught that it cannot be saved on earth, or while alive; that the only way to get rid of it all, the only way out, is to die out.
And now comes Christian Science to declare that you can get out, and if there were nothing else in Christian Science to attract the attention of men, it would be done by this one incomparable promise which surpasses every other promise for the weal of men that has been made in the name of religion, philosophy, and science. There is nothing known in the history of men or the range of human belief that promises so much to the man that is in trouble as does Christian Science. There is nothing equivocal about the promise. The only open question is as to whether or not these promises are being fulfilled.
I am reminded, at this point, that many of you are Bible students. Permit me to remind you that all through the Bible runs the thought that God is the healer of disease. We are exhorted over and over again to have faith in God. There are many words to the effect that to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Again and again are we solicited to turn to God or to Christ for betterment, for salvation, for regeneration, but most men are just as I was. I found it utterly impossible to have faith in something that I did not know anything about. It was impossible to have a substantive and available faith in that which was absolutely invisible, imponderable, and without apparent available utility. I, like most other people, was fascinated by the apparently substantive nature of material things. I had no capacity, above the senses, to comprehend the things of supersensible existence. I know how easy it is for people to put the whole question away, just as I did, by declaring, "Christian Science teaches the allness of Spirit, but there is nothing visible, nothing in sight, as Spirit." I complained because my senses did not cognize and could not observe the basis or modus thereof. That which appeals to the materialist is something that can be touched and examined, and for this reason, we are divided as before, into those people who believe in a material basis and those who declare that a spiritual basis and modus operandi are palpable and of everlasting advantage to mankind.
Referring again to the course of mental development, I remind you that to the question, "What is the creative cause or impulsion of the universe?" there have been many answers. Those which have had the most approval are, first, the one that declares: "The cause of the universe is a blind, non-intelligent, material substance and energy;" and second, the one that declares: "The first cause and origin is God; He made everything."
There came a time, in the course of human discernment, when men perceived that every object in the universe existed at the standpoint of effect. It is a fact that everything that the personal senses observe has, already, been made; it already has been created, or manufactured, and exists in con-sequence of some inducement or animus. Now then, "What is the inducement, what is the basis or cause of what is called man and the universe?"
To a large extent the answer to this question has been after this fashion : "Whereas all visible, material things already are organized, that is to say, have been composed or created; and whereas, anything that can be discerned already has been made, the conclusion is that the primary inducement of material things, including man, is atomic dust or substance."
This has been called the atomic theory of a life basis, and instantly I ask you to observe that it is, as a basis, utterly nondiscernible. Everyone admits that as an assumed basic substance it is intangible and always will be.
Nothing but theory and sheer supposition lies in the atomic hypothesis. The world of thought includes nothing more intangible as basis, and nothing more incapable of proof. The purely materialistic theory concerning the initiative and impulsion of man, offers as such a basis, nothing at all—nothing that can be known or discovered or can be appreciated by the senses called personal.
The man who objects to a spiritual life basis on the ground that it is transcendental can find nothing but vacuity as a material basis, which vacuity a despairing human speculation has sought to fill up by means of a conjectural hypothesis which it admits is utterly unprovable.
Now Christian Science teaches, among other things, that there is no such thing as atomic sub-stance -or an atomic life basis, and it teaches that man and the universe are not the phenomena of any such noumenon. If it were true, however, that man has his origin in atomic substance, as the primary basis of his existence, then he would be annihilated at death; his existence would be forever extinguished in oblivion. Why? Because it is impossible for a phenomenon to outclass, or rise superior to, its noumenon. It is impossible for any effect to outfoot or outdo or excel its cause. If the primary cause of man were dust, then without fail his ultimate would be in dust.
At this moment I am reminded of one of Robert Stevenson's stories. He tells of two men who were out fishing when a storm came on at nightfall. The men became bewildered and knew not their course because of the shifting wind. After a while the storm became very severe and one of the men said, "Sandy, can ye pray?" "I don't know," said the other; "I never tried it, but I will try." "Well, Sandy, pray as hard and fast as ye can." So Sandy got into the stern of the boat and prayed. The other man continued to look out for land. After a little he felt the keel touch the sand and he immediately called out, "Stop praying, Sandy, we are ashore and we don't have to be beholden to anybody."
If our origin is in atomic dust, there is no use in praying, for prayer would be utterly in vain and, irrational. The atomic theory would inevitably abolish immortality and heaven, and turn to mockery the hope of a future life. It affords no place for prayer and no possibility of an answer. It would abolish Christian salvation and consign humanity to Pagan fatalism and extinction.
I ask you to consider the correlative of the atomic theory, its immediate kin in the material realm. I refer to the evolution theory as generally understood, to the effect, that an inferior noumenon can evolve itself to the point of a superior product or effect whereas such an achievement is impossible and ought to be unthinkable.
Now we do not fail to observe in what is called the material realm a sort of evolutionary progression, as indicated in the improvement not only in man but in the animal and vegetable kingdom, but it is not because of the possibility of the improvement of an effect above its cause, but rather be-cause all the improvement is primarily included in the cause or noumenon.
What does this suppositional basis promise humanity? Everyone here knows that it promises to give man life by a process of embryonic development; then it promises that when he reaches a state of maturity it will begin a process of impairment, degeneration, disintegration, dissolution, and decomposition. Its only promise and prospect is of utter failure.
On the other hand, what is the basis and promise of life in God—the basis that is in pure divine Mind? Science declares that man manifests intelligence. It declares that man cannot rise above nor excel his creator and therefore that that which is the creator of man is necessarily intelligent also. It declares, through the Science of Mind, that intelligence is not in matter, cannot be put into it, nor taken from it. It declares that matter is non-intelligence and cannot perform any function of Mind. It declares that Mind is self-existence and is the only state of self-existence in the universe. It declares that Mind or Deity—the creator, is one infinite conscious intelligence and that this alone is eternal, alone is supreme in the universe.
For forty years Mrs. Eddy has insisted that causation is in the divine Mind and not in matter. She proclaimed that God is the only real cause and source of being, the only Principle by reason of which all things exist.
What does this God promise for man? It is true that God is invisible. The personal senses cannot possibly perceive God, but regardless of this we inquire, what does this invisible spiritual animus promise? It promises life and health, the perpetuity of existence. It promises the rule of continuous harmonious being,—the dominion over all the earth. It promises normal prosperity in every way. It provides for the peace and perfection of its own offspring,—its own ideas.
I would not have you understand me as meaning that the science of numbers is spiritual, but it presents the highest exact concept of science that is comprehended by a materialistic age and I will linger at this point for a moment to call your attention to one of the simplest ideas of this science of numbers. Take for example the idea two and two make four. Even though the material universe were destroyed, nothing could destroy two and two make four. It is true everywhere, in the middle of the sun, on the surface of every fixed star. There are clusters of nebulae so far apart that it would take light, traveling at the rate of sixteen billions of miles per day, five millions of years to traverse the distance; and yet if you were privileged to go along that pathway, you would know that there was not an inch wherein you could not find that two and two make four. One cannot imagine a time when it was not or will not be true. Just think of how useful it is. How long would the banks and the business of the world continue without it? What chaos would ensue if it could cease to be. How prodigiously important it is. There is but one "two and two make four" and yet everyone has it and is willing the others should have it too. Did you ever know of any quarrel about it? Was anyone ever killed because of it? No; on the basis of actual truth, humanity would be peaceful, happy and with-out disorder. Think of the nobility of it, the beauty, the charming simplicity of just one true idea and its activity!
Turning from this digression, I venture again to make plain the fact that whether it be Mind, Spirit, God that is considered the cause of the universe, or whether it be matter, it is apparent that in either case the cause and authority are invisible.
Even the materialist is obliged to rest every belief about the origin of the universe on a non-discernible supposition. Could anything be more vague as origin, or more disappointing and tragic as a conclusion, than that supposition?
In addition to the fact that the source or omnific origin of the universe is invisible, there is the equally significant fact that the fundamental law through which the universe is governed also is invisible, as is all the power of the universe. Think of it for a moment when Christian Science urges the acknowledgment of the invisible God as the creator and as law and power. Remember that the only evidence of existence is in concrete form.
Only when the supreme cause of existence manifests itself through invisible law and power can we behold the result in action and in concrete effect.
Nothing is more common than law. Without it existence, including man and the universe, would be impossible. If law could be abolished, the universe would collapse in chaos. Therefore when I tell you that Christian Science practice rests on an invisible Principle, law, and power, you will see that in this respect it is by no means unusual, irrational, or impractical. There is no other foundation or rule. The most dense form of materialism does not rest on a more tangible impulse or modus.
The materialistic theory declares that we exist as victims; that we are like bubbles on a sea of capricious destiny; that we are doomed to be sick and to die at any moment, and that we have no adequate power to resist.
What does Mind declare? It declares that you are not a victim, that you have a fundamental right to be the master of your foe; that you not only have a right to be a man but a right to continued activity also. The promise is that we may do all things through the Mind which was in Christ,—that we may move mountains.
I may be speaking in a somewhat fragmentary way because I am speaking extemporaneously. I understand that you are accustomed to this and you will therefore excuse me if there is any fault in the way of sequence.
Twenty-five years ago one of the most celebrated instructors in America, in addressing a convention of teachers, told them that in the next fifty years the discoveries in the realm of mind would out-weigh unspeakably in importance all the discoveries ever made in what is called the realm of matter and invention.
The outcroppings of mental possibilities in the realm of what Mrs. Eddy designates mortal mind, when estimated correctly, indicate the possibility of great changes. Take for instance the case of "Blind Tom." You know that Blind Tom could listen to a piece of music for the first time and go immediately to a piano and reproduce it. He is what they call abnormal, but in fact he comes the nearest to being normal of any of us. The rest of us are abnormal because we cannot do it. I have no time to elaborate this, but will add by way of supporting the statement as follows : The people in this audience, I will presume to describe as possessed of trained conditions of mind. You easily ascend to a high standard of definition, so I ask you, does it not follow that if any man can do this thing, then the act is one of the normal possibilities concerning man?
Again, consider the "lightning calculator." He may be a boy only seven years old. Ask him what will be the interest at seven and one-half per cent on $7,382.97 for twenty-three years and twenty-three days, and he will give you the answer instantly. He is called phenomenal, and yet we all ought to be able to do it. And why not? The answer exists just as well as the question. We do not need to manufacture an answer, for it is always present as a correlative. Why then do we not at once seize upon the answer? It is because we people, who call ourselves a fallen race, are mentally below a normal standard and have mentally restricted our-selves. The thing that must be accomplished for us is this: Science must and will enable us to appropriate and manifest the unlimited capacity of the normal man to know the truth. This capacity will be manifested when we are ruled by the Mind that is God instead of by the "carnal mind," which is no mind at all; which is always wrong and always stands for limitation.
You have had other lectures here, and the subject of Christian Science has been discussed before you in a general way. It is not my purpose to attempt an elaborate exposition of the theology of Christian Science now, but rather to confine myself to a few statements that have immediate application to your needs and your future careers.
Pardon me if I may seem to be too familiar and to enter too largely upon what you regard as your own affairs, but as you are soon to go forth into the field of life, I feel certain that I can say something which will be of everlasting advantage to you if you are disposed to consider and appropriate it. It is concerning the application and enforcement of natural law.
Because of ignorance, sin, and fear, humanity is under the illegitimate law of sickness and death; indeed it seems to be generally believed that man is naturally involved in disaster, and that he should be submissive to it. I venture, therefore, to speak to you of some of the spurious laws or influences that are fraudulently imposed upon the race, and that will press with more or less severity of impact upon you unless you know how to resist and abolish them. Failing to do this, you are quite likely to wonder, some day, why you do not succeed; to wonder why you fail here and there, or are unaccountably hindered.
If such be the case with you, it will probably be because you have not learned that you have a right to a legitimate dominion over your affairs, and have not learned to exercise such dominion. The Bible says that Christ has abolished the law of sin and death. You are soon to go forth to a career, and at the very doorway of that career is a so-called law that is declared by materialism to be strong and far-reaching; it is the law of hereditary transmission,—a law of hereditary influence and taint. Millions of people are greatly hindered thereby, and are gratuitously suffering on beds of pain because of this belief.
Christian Science declares that what is called hereditary influence and contamination does not exist, because of matter nor because of actual law. The mystery of heredity has been solved; it has been determined definitely that such influences are brought to bear and impressions are made by a process of pre-natal mesmerism; but let me say. for your encouragement, that there is nothing natural nor necessary about it. There is not a man here who is irretrievably under any such law. We know absolutely that many people have been healed instantaneously of so-called hereditary disease by being delivered from that blight of pre-natal impress or liability; there is not one of you in this room but may break that law and release yourself.
Take, for instance, the case of one who is infirm of body or purpose, or one of whom people say that his temperamental characteristics are peculiar, or that he is not forceful and energetic, or that he has no talent, and that this is because he has been distorted by reason of ancestral influences. Such a one is liable to go through life under that law and its constraint, not knowing enough to rid himself of it, and to establish his absolute freedom. Now I have not the slightest idea what you think or will say about this; but let me insist that Christian Science promises you in the name of a pure science, according to a pure law, coming from the supreme power of the universe, that it will deliver you from this oppressive influence; and moreover it promises that you can learn to do it for yourself. Your efficiency and prosperity need not be suppressed nor curtailed by any of the human beliefs concerning hereditary impairment.
Unless you learn to abolish the rule, you are liable to go out into the world of future activity under the spurious law relating to opportunity. This law is another fraud; it declares that every man has his opportunity and that if he misses it, he will probably be a failure. This is another phase of limitation, but the rule has not proceeded from God, from Science, from Truth, or intelligence. The actual Science of being is that you are not under a law of limited opportunity. You are subject to the law of boundless and perpetual opportunity and you can enforce that law in your behalf righteously, just as widely as need be.
Another spurious law that dwarfs humanity is the law of lack and of poverty. Christian Science teaches concerning this, that the only legitimate law is the law of supply, and that the normal man exists at the standpoint of supply. I would not have you think that Christian Science encourages greed and the mad rush for money; nevertheless it is to be said that destitution and poverty are abnormalities, and that man is entitled to and ought to receive a legitimate and ample maintenance.
The greatest pest and torment of humanity is fear; it is about all there is to hell; it induces nearly all the sin, disease, disaster, and misery of the world. Every one of us until now has labored under its dire mischief; it is wholly abnormal and unnatural. There is nothing known to man except Christian Science which promises to deliver you from it. For a million people to entreat you not to be afraid would be of no consequence, but for you to learn scientifically how to master fear is of more consequence to you than is the entire State of Massachusetts. It is observable among business men that fear is one of the most disastrous things that projects itself upon their affairs. Consider for a moment a very simple object lesson on the plane of everyday experience. You college men know much about a boat-race, but do you know that very many races are lost because of fear, rather than because of physical deficiency? Do you know that very much of the training induces fear on the part of the oarsmen? Do you know that the man who is afraid is at a great disadvantage, as compared with the man who is not afraid? I do not want it to appear that I am urging the right of mere human will to dominate your affairs and procure results by means of the headlong or tumultuous onslaught of the human mind, alias mesmerism: nevertheless it is true, that as you come to under-stand Christian Science, it will teach you to over-come and to banish all fear; it will teach you that you may do anything which is right for you to do without dismay or anxiety.
It is probable that there will come a time when you will be in quest of professional or business occupation; when you will be in want of a situation. Let us assume that you will be entitled to it and that it will be right for you to be employed righteously and profitably. Such an assumption as this carries with it scientifically the conclusion that if it is right for you to have such a thing, that thing must be in existence and must be available. Please bear with me if I presume to say to you that most of you do not understand how to proceed advantageously to solve such a problem; and although it seems to be applying Christian Science on a some-what low plane, it is to be remembered that Science is to improve every department of your life, and to facilitate every form of normal activity, and it is to be remembered still further, that it purports to present the right way and the adequate way in which to accomplish any normal purpose.
There are two conditions of the human mind that are often spoken of: the optimistic and the pessimistic, and they are both generally acknowledged as having a place therein. Christian Science, however, repudiates this illicit dualism, for the reason that it indicates an unsound or aberrated mental condition. The ordinary definition of the word optimism falls far below a scientific definition of the rights of man, but for the purpose of making myself easily understood, I will say that each one of you should be a pronounced optimist. One of the most influential human conditions is the one which I will call expectancy. In a large measure expectancy is the open door to welfare, and when misused, expectancy becomes the open door to adversity. Keep the right door open by expecting to gain everything that is right. You are entitled to the fulness and ampleness of life, but you will need to learn that gloomy foreboding never solves a problem and never releases the influences that make for your largest prosperity and advantage. Learn, my friends, of the prodigious activity and supreme influence of the Mind which is always right. Learn that for every condition of wrong thinking which waylays and obstructs the human race, there is the positive condition of dominion, hope, and power which is an irresistible offset thereto. Learn to operate according to the law of divine Mind; learn to let this Mind be in you, for it is the Mind that means health and life and boundless opportunity and recompense. No legitimate limitation rests upon you; none is competent to repress your own normal capacity. Do not let any argument of limitation enter into your life; remember that Mind will do every good thing for you,—it will move mountains for you.
You are going out into the world, you will need ability to do and to perform. You will live side by side with people who have been taught to be afraid of every conceivable thing and condition. You will need to guard yourselves against the contagion of such fear and of the disordered beliefs of the entire human race, which seems bent on continuing in the mutual business of scaring and hindering itself at every point. You must learn to maintain a poise that will mean for you aloofness and immunity from the depressing predictions and prophesyings which humanity bestows upon itself. Remember that the primary law of being is to you and for you the law of health and life, and be not afraid concerning your body.
You came to Harvard University to acquaint yourselves with knowledge. You are acquiring a large store of useful information and intellectual culture. To all this I add this suggestion, that at the open door of every man's life there lies the pearl of great price,—the knowledge which goes beyond all other knowledge,—the divine Science of infinite being, a knowledge of which will profit humanity unspeakably and contribute to its untold success. For twenty-one years it has meant for me the difference between life and death, for I was thought to be incurably ill. Since having been healed through Christian Science at that time, I have not had a serious instance of illness; but, notwithstanding this pronounced transformation, I may say to you that I have been able, through the instrumentality of this law, to bring to pass within the environment of my daily life things of greater consequence and that were of more importance to ordinary minds than it was for me to be withheld from the grave. I am but one among a million people who thus have been benefited. Each one of all these people recognizes the fact that it is through the teaching of Mrs. Eddy and her wonderful demonstration and proof, that we have been thus delivered and are entitled to rejoice.
Not only does Christian Science reveal the actuality of Spirit and acquaint its adherent with God and the Life which is eternal, but it promises to every man a betterment of his immediate existence on earth, and performs according to its promise. It does not invite anyone to die in order to be saved or to be happy. It repudiates the assumption that a dead man is entitled to know more than a live man. Its entire essence and import is in the way of expectation of life, health, immortality, and righteousness. This is what our Leader, Mrs. Eddy, has been contending for nearly fifty years. Physicians, dentists, scientists, and scholars, one by one, are admitting or declaring their concurrence in nearly all the propositions or postulates for which she has contended.
It is time for me to stop. I know as well as do you that I have been incomplete and yet I know that at some time what I have been saying will touch your life and will benefit you. I know that some day you will enter upon the plane of achievement wherein you will free yourselves from the things which bind and limit. Some day you will learn that you are entitled to win, and you will win. My friends, consider the majesty, the sublimity, the possibilities of infinite Mind. You are here spending years of time and vast sums of money in order to improve your minds. You must have some considerable appreciation of the unlimited privileges that lie in the direction of Mind. Consider all that is open to you by way of opportunity and utility and. then consider the promise, "Ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you."
Delivered at Emerson Halt, Cambridge, Massaehusetts and published in The Cambridge Chronicle May 23, 1908.