Possibly the most important of all modern documents to escape the long arm of ecclesiastical vandalism is an unpublished letter from Edward Kimball to Judge Hanna, written at Kansas City in the winter of 1907, for it settles at last the moot question of what this most distinguished of Mary Baker Eddy's students did teach privately under her direct supervision.
Hidden away for three decades in the Judge's musty files, this priceless piece was surrendered to the Kimball family in 1937 by the Hanna secretary and heir, and it was given me in facsimile by its author's daughter, Edna Kimball Wait, under rather interesting circumstances.
A few country lanes below the dune-encrusted basin of Lake Michigan, Mrs. Wait presides over the charming old house, Waverly Crest, which is the scene of many lively and provocative discussions. On one of my week-ends at the Crest, the talk turned to Mrs. Eddy's public proclamation that Mr. Kimball's clear, correct teaching should remain an everlasting inspiration to the whole field (My 297:18-20). In view of the fact that fragmentary statements attributed to him are so often contested, I ventured the opinion that it was a pity the essence of his instruction could not be fully documented. "Oh, but Father put it all in a letter!" exclaimed my hostess. And out came the treasure.
On the diplomatic plea that his teaching was widely misunderstood and misrepresented, Mr. Kimball undertakes to outline for Judge Hanna, his successor on the Christian Science Board of Education, the instruction of a class. He indicates that we cannot safely ignore the claim that the teaching generally is not uniform and that Scientists even work at cross purposes, for evil would destroy the Movement by discrediting us in each other's eyes and so setting up corrosive hostilities. The gist of his argument is that there should be greater mutual understanding among metaphysicians, and that only by getting together – socially, intellectually and spiritually – can this be accomplished.
Throughout the history of the Church, there have been two divergent trends of thought. There have been those who pursue the negative course – "there is no this, that or the other thing"; then there are those of the positive approach – "there is a truth to everything." (That is an over-simplification, of course, but it is the main point of cleavage). We should enlist to establish the true, rather than allowing ourselves to be obsessed with the hopeless feat of trying to do away with that which is untrue. Our textbook says that Christian Science is affirmative (S&H 418:20-21).
Relating his conversations with his teacher on this score, Mr. Kimball calls attention to Dr. Alfred E. Baker who, in his effort to do away with matter or error, appeared to favor a philosophy of annihilation instead of redemption. He quotes Mrs. Eddy as calling the Doctor to task in these words: "Jesus said, 'Stretch forth thy hand,' but all you have to say is, 'You haven't got any hand!'" She elaborated on this by recalling a patient who passed away at Concord under a practitioner who simply declared there wasn't any case! Denouncing such negativism, she said the patient couldn't possibly get anything curative out of it. What appears to be a material man may not be what he seems to be, but we do not try to wipe him out of existence!
Because there cannot be a lie without a truth to lie about, the spiritual fact, or idea, of whatever we see as matter must be all right – "perfect in God," as Mrs. Eddy put it. Christian Science comes not to destroy, but to fulfill. The business of the metaphysician is not annihilation, but transformation. Would it transform or annihilate to say there is no body, or there is no hand? If there were no counterfact to "My body is sick," what could you do to forestall death? (S&H 233:28-29). If there were no opposite affirmation to "My heart is imperfect," then the ultimate would be disaster, rather than redemption. What is the opposite affirmation? To say there is no heart would be irrelevant. The specific counterfact is, "My heart is perfect."
Naturally, one cannot properly say this while thinking of heart as material. Only from the standpoint that Spirit constitutes all can he make such an affirmation. If there is anything true about heart – and there must be, or we couldn't be aware of anything called "heart" – it must be spiritual, and therefore indestructible, omnipresent, safe and sound. The constricting clamps of fear are taken off the ailing concept of heart the moment you see that heart, in its true being, would have to be spiritual. Mr. Kimball gives the immediate offset as: "We have a perfect heart in God." After thoroughly talking out this phase of the subject with Mrs. Eddy, he repeats her instruction verbatim as: "Declare, 'I have a perfect liver,' and let the spiritual import of this declaration destroy the false concept about liver."
There! That is the pith of it! It is surely superfluous to add that the transforming power does not reside in the words employed, but springs from the grasp and realization of their meaning. It is not what you say, but what you mean, that counts. And you will say what is most useful under the circumstances in any instance if your thinking is what it ought to be. Reducing everything to its common denominator, you recognize that anything wrong in your experience would be a wrong sense of a right something (S&H 585:10-11). The knowledge of this simple fact is a leavening influence at all times. The finite view would translate spiritual ideas into materialistic beliefs, and to spot this device of finite mentation is to bring into play that law of resiliency which releases the human concept to the spiritual ideal (S&H 257:15-17).
As human concepts, everything from organs and functions to mollusca and radiata would be material, temporal, finite (S&H 556:3-9). But when this interpretation of being is transcended, all things, including "mollusk and radiata are spiritual concepts testifying to one creator, God, so that earth is filled with His glory." (Mis 361:9-11). There is no question here of man being organic, spiritually or otherwise (Mis 56:21 only). Our Leader is quoted as saying: "There are no organizations of Spirit whereby to live, and no matter whereby to die." Mr. Kimball complains that some of these absolutely correct statements have been grossly misconstrued throughout the field, because torn from their supporting contexts. "What I do say," he writes, "is that there is some idea, some perfect idea of Mind that mortal mind has counterfeited in its presentation of liver; so one should declare for the perfect body, the body of right ideas, which is the spiritual body."
If we are about our Father's business, we are exchanging the objects of sense – which must include the organs – for the ideas of Soul (S&H 269:14-16). This quenches the fear that would define all things materially. It is the process of salvation which must overturn, overturn [reverse] all, until he [the Christ consciousness] come whose right it is to prevail (Ezekiel 21:27). The story of Jacob's struggle at Peniel depicts the endeavor we are all engaged in, the endeavor to grasp reality in the place of illusion. All night, through the darkness of error, we wrestle with that materiality which dawn shows us to be spirituality misperceived. All there is to matter is Spirit – just as all there is to twice-two-is-five is really twice-two-is-four (Genesis 32:24-30).
Mrs. Eddy showed the practical application of this principle in the very first edition of "Science and Health": "Meeting the affirmative to disease with a negative, neutralizes the positive belief and its effects on the body, making discord become negative to harmony, and introducing the science of being." (S&H 1st Edition, 426:25-29). This somewhat cryptic passage may perhaps be more readily understood by interpolating the negatives and positives: "Meeting the affirmative to disease (I am sick) with a negative (I am not sick), neutralizes the positive belief and its effects on the body, making discord become negative to harmony (establishing harmony as the positive fact), and introducing the science of being (divine understanding)."
The ghost that startles you on the midnight path may be only a post in the moonlight, but you must see it for what it really is before you can call it a post instead of a ghost. Need it be said again that we are required to distinguish between the fable and the fact? The tares and the wheat never mingle, but we do not try to separate them until the harvest – that day of reckoning when the finite sense of the infinite (the tares) no longer accompanies the infinite (the wheat) (S&H 72:13-16). It is well to note that matter, or the finite appearance, misrepresents creation. It is deceptive in every aspect. As we perceive this more and more, the real man becomes more evident in thought, character, action and appearance (S&H 317:16-20). "Spiritual" does not mean blurred and ethereal; it means substantial, concrete, concise (S&H 129:7-10). But to find that matter is Spirit falsely cognized is not to think of Spirit as matter!
During one of our Leader's classes, little Edna Kimball was permitted to sit on the platform. Pausing in her discourse, Mrs. Eddy looked down and asked whose child she was. She replied, "God's child." The teacher then placed her hand firmly on Edna's shoulder, saying, "Is this God's child?" "Oh, no!" was the little girl's prompt rejoinder. This differentiation is unfailing with anyone who has the most rudimentary acquaintanceship with Christian Science. However, the line of demarcation is on the belief side of the question, and this must be recognized if one is not to succumb to dualism. There is literally but one creator and one creation, and it is for this very reason that we are able to demonstrate perfection here (Mis 251:20-24).
You are not going to waste time shadow-boxing with matter. To think of it as something to be disposed of is to saddle yourself with it. Nor are you going to be indiscreet in your statements on the subject. If you were to say to any man you met that matter is not the chunk of stuff it seems, your statement would be absurd, for matter may be perfectly real to him and perhaps the only thing that is real to him. You cannot say there is no matter from the standpoint of matter, but only from the standpoint of infinite Spirit. Anyway, you are not engaged in getting rid of matter, but in getting Spirit. Let your gaze rest upon the real if you would lose sight of the unreal.
You must always work from the basis of Spirit's allness. This that is Mind unfolding is God appearing, and so is the embodiment of all that is good and worthy and desirable (S&H 471:18-20). If this is God appearing, the recognition of that fact establishes the divinity of the appearing. The only presence there is or could be must be God, so that God is the only presence to a seed, a thought or a flower (S&H 508:5-6). This is your basic premise and you must return to it persistently. Only the material-minded could read pantheism into this, for it is patent you could not be recognizing the infinity of pure Mind and still retain any trace of materiality. Ascertaining that materiality must be spirituality negatively appearing, your cognition will be rectified, so that incorruptible, ineradicable substance is established for you as the only substance (S&H 572:10-11).
"Transforming," "translating" and "exchanging" are simply synonyms for "understanding." It is understanding which establishes everything, from the lowly atom to the mighty universe, as Mind manifest (Mis 190:1 only, 26:5-8). Since the spiritual reality is the scientific fact in every last thing, we must acknowledge that all the things of experience do exist – though perhaps in a different way than we have been wont to regard them. Objects of sense rightly understood are ideas of Soul.
Are there spiritual organs? it is often asked. The answer is that the word "organs" is misleading. "organic life is an error of statement," because Life is not built up of interdependent parts (Mis 56:21 only). The divine idea is hardly a machine constructed of interlocking units. Nevertheless, there must be a specific truth about any aspect of existence which we apprehend – no matter how imperfectly we may apprehend it. As we advance in Science, we are enabled to discern the spiritual fact of whatever the material misinterpretation would depict (S&H 585:10-11). Advancing understanding brings the spiritual meaning as opposed to the material. "It is the language of Soul instead of the senses; it translates matter into its original language, which is Mind, and gives the spiritual instead of the material signification" (Hea 7:6-10).
Our textbook insists and we must agree that divine Principle is supreme in the physical realm, so called, because if Mind is all, it is the only thing that could function (S&H 427:23-24). Outside the realm of understanding, the divinely mental is miscalled "physical," but it remains spiritual just the same. Mind could not possibly reach outside itself and control something that does not exist. Mind includes nothing but itself and rules only that which it embraces. If the functions are subject to Mind – as they indubitably are – they must be Mind functioning. To discover this is to find them divinely successful. Mind governing its own formations means Mind controlling its own manifestation or expression of itself as thought (S&H 514:6-7, 209:5-6). What this looks like at the moment depends upon how you are looking at it.
We do not abandon things, but only the material sense of things. When you say that what appears to be an organ must be a spiritual idea or verity, what the man in the street thinks about that organ is not the spiritual idea by any means! Notwithstanding this, you could not possibly demonstrate perfection of organ if there were no organ perfection to demonstrate (S&H 267:19-25). To "heal" a defective organ through Christian Science, you must prove that the organ is perfect, must you not? The extraordinary notion, so often put forward, that by knowing there is no organ you demonstrate that nothing can be wrong with it (sic!), is farcical and sometimes disastrous in practice.
Principle functioning in different capacities may be at the moment inconceivable except as a collection of material organs, but we judge not according to appearances. Spiritual identity must include all the distinctions which we imperfectly perceive and grossly misconstrue as the physical organism, so that our primary concern is to direct attention away from material sense testimony to the wholeness of infinite Spirit, expressed as spiritual understanding (S&H 581:19-22). We concede that there is a specific verity in the case of each organ and function, while seeing clearly that being could not be organic. The deific Ego is not an organization of entities. At the same time, the only functioner, Principle, is multiform in office and so its various functions are forever distinct. Naturally, the individual functions cannot be conceived of physically without setting up many functioners (or organs), because distinctness can only appear physically as separateness.
Let us repeat that the misperception is not a thing or entity in itself, but something seen wrongly. Therefore, it is not something to be done away with, but a sense to be rectified. That you are aware of a thing proves that it is; but what it appears to be is determined by your current degree of understanding. Functions "are physically mortal, but spiritually immortal" since "matter is substance in error [and] Spirit is substance in Truth." (Un 37:17-18, Ret 57:17-18). The initial step, of course, is to recognize each thing as a divine fact misinterpreted. Sometimes that is enough, in actual practice. But the more advanced approach is to ascertain what aspect of reality is being misrepresented or misapprehended, for Mind maintains its various manifestations like numbers which do not blend though governed by the same principle (S&H 588:11-15, 513:17-21). "Inorganic" does not imply a merging or dissolution of identities; it simply means non-structural (Mis 22: 12-14, S&H 507:7-10).
When you grasp firmly that functioning is Mind functioning, you will find your dominion in the fact that all functioning is incidental and inevitable (S&H 122:29-10). The endeavor to abrogate or extinguish a function only serves to make it an anxious obsession, to warp and possibly pervert the sense of it. "That body is most harmonious in which the discharge of the natural functions is least noticeable," our book affirms. Not, mark you, where the functions are dispensed with, but where they are subordinate (S&H 478:18-20). Life is not dependent upon pulse, but pulse is an evidence of Life. Pulse will be present wherever Life is present, you may be sure. This lifts the fear which would constrict pulse in belief.
Take respiration. As soon as you turn your attention to breathing, it ceases to be spontaneous and natural, becoming labored and irregular. Turning thought away again, the lungs resume their normal, rhythmic, harmonious activity, and you are aware of no effort in that direction. If fear can contort the face, it certainly can contort the liver, for all is mental. And what is fear, ever, but the basic conviction that existence is material? That is why the Christian Scientist takes the best care of his body who leaves it most out of his thought.(S&H 383:6-11).
The accent, however, should not be on thinking matter, but upon reverting to Spirit. If any object to you is material in belief, you are believing it to be material, obviously, and you do not take the curse off of it by dubbing it "counterfeit" and "suppositional." The so-called physical is actually spiritual in the last and only right analysis, regardless of any interpretation with which you are confronted. Recognizing the negative statement as Truth defined in obverse, you arrive at the point of glorious transfiguration. Heaven is not a vacuum, praise be! We do not try to get matter into heaven, but we prove that all form, color, quantity and quality are of Mind, and so tangibly eternal (S&H 512:21-24, 247:19-27).
But keep clear that the negation is not something apart from the thing negated, for dualism would subtly thwart your scientific demonstration (S&H 270:7-10, 207:6-7). There are not two creations, but just one, and that one is spiritual. What you are seeing as an external world of matter is actually a subjective picture, entirely mental, and therefore neither requiring nor occupying space. This is amply illustrated in the night dream. The infinity of Mind is not a spatial or dimensional proposition. You cannot get outside of consciousness to do anything at all. You do not attempt to do anything to a patient; you simply know the truth about him, for that is all there is to him. From the standpoint of Mind, you can and must declare positively and vigorously on the side of Mind, and with all the power and authority of Mind itself.
Only because there is a truth about all the objects of awareness can we "heal" the sick, restore the sight of the blind, recover harmony here. If this existence that you are conscious of is not the spiritual existence – however wrongly interpreted – how can you expect to prove its wholeness and flawlessness? How can you demonstrate God to be supreme in the "physical realm" without finding out that it is only so called? What is unfolding to you (or as consciousness) is Mind, not matter. The human recognition of this is the tool with which you work. It is certainly no accident that in a great many of Mrs. Eddy's references to matter, she labels it "so-called." (S&H 427:23-24).
According to our textbook, what we have been calling matter and spirit indicates states and stages of consciousness. Are these phases of thought objective (external) or subjective (within)? (S&H 573:5-12, 19-23). Not "out yonder," but here it must be that anything is consciously present. "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation [looking about]: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, Lo there! for, behold the kingdom of God is within you," Jesus declared (Luke 17:20-21). To be specific, is your hand material or spiritual? You know you have a hand, for you can consciously move it about. Now if Mind alone embraces all action and volition, what moves your hand? (S&H 187:22-23). What, indeed, but Mind! What do you know of matter-hand? Only that which comes to you as a mode of thought, for matter of itself senses nothing.
But beware of trying to put hand into matter! "Thus saith the Lord: Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord [Mind]" (Jeremiah 17:5). – for you cannot do this without incurring all the trials and vicissitudes intrinsic to material existence. With the acceptance of substance as matter, volition is imperiled (Mis 28:6-7). But, after all, is the fleshly hand material or mental? The answer is plain. Granting that matter is Spirit misperceived, it can no longer come to you as matter, with its limitations and restrictions, but must come instead as the glory of pure Mind, "harmless, useful, indestructible" in every aspect (S&H 514:28-30). Do not cower before matter as a thing that can do something, but follow the shadow back to the substance, so rectifying the afflictive misinterpretation. Then, like Jesus, you will not see the withered hand, but will see it as it must be in the sight of God, good, so that the man stretches it forth.
What a precious precept! But tread with caution in voicing it. You would suppose everyone would joyously welcome such an emancipating idea, but the depravity of mortal mind is such that, as Mrs. Eddy writes, "That man was accounted a criminal who could prove God's divine power by . . . spiritualizing materialistic beliefs." (S&H 316:25-28). Mortal mind is as unreconciled as ever to the coming of the Christ, Truth, whether in or out of the Church. The thought that cannot grasp this pearl of great price is resentful, and the usual reaction is to charge you with being off on a tangent (S&H 92:21 only). The orthodox type – the "faith Scientist," as Mrs. Eddy so rightly stamps him – clings fondly to his suppositional world paralleling the divine creation, despite the obvious fact that he can never attain divinity that way (Sentinel, Vol. 20, p 10).
He who constantly warns you of pantheism is the sure victim of dualism. But he resents bitterly anything that would disturb his complacency. "My father always said," quotes Mrs. Wait, "that if you are seeing anything different, you had better keep it to yourself!" If you do not realize the importance of keeping revolutionary statements sacred, you are liable to find yourself at the wrong end of a witch-hunt (Mis 294:6-7, 12-23, No 8:19-13). Let sleeping dogmas lie. With hostile people, you are seldom given the opportunity to explain your position; or, if you are, it is only to address a closed mind. If charged with spiritualizing matter, tactfully state that you are dematerializing thought. If that is not enough, all the words in the world will not suffice.