To be practical, your metaphysical work must be directly to the point. If your treatment is to include argument, then this argument must be explicit in order to reach the particular case. The direction and extent of such argument is, naturally, determined by the circumstances of the moment as well as by the degree of your understanding, and so cannot be outlined in advance. Rules? We are not concerned with rules, but with principles. The rules vary with progress and situations. So if we lay down any restrictions at all, let it be clearly seen that they are strictly temporary concessions to unconquered opinion. As human beings, though, we do have to lay out our course constantly, and so there is no objection to setting up useful means, methods and expedients of thought and action – so long as we do not think of them as absolute or final.
Students often contend with each other, for example, over the proper order or procedure in treatment, and they will cite successful metaphysicians as their authority. This contention would not come up if we agreed that always "wisdom in human action begins with what is nearest right under the circumstances, and thence achieves the absolute." (Mis 288:13-15). Then we would not be tempted to interfere with our brother's freedom of thought and right to proceed as his own experience guides him (No 9:8-13). This will not keep him or you from considering and studying the methods of others, at various stages of individual advancement. In fact, you may save yourself many unnecessary detours by examining the work of others and appreciating the values therein set forth. You will not have to spend years of experimenting if you are big enough to profit by the experience of others. There are many good features of practice as worked out in the field which you can appropriate without having to fumble through repeated trial-and-error experiences.
The order of procedure. Is there anything fundamental which experience always teaches on this question? Yes. You handle exactly what arises and in the order in which it arises. Again: what about the adequacy of denial? Your denial is adequate when it leaves nothing to be denied. The essential thing, though, is not the journey but the goal. Your goal? Divine realization. That can only follow the clearing of consciousness by way of analysis resulting in conviction. Realization is not possible where thought is encumbered with misconception. You arrive, through sound reasoning with Principle, at your conclusion, where nothing is left but divine Mind declaring its own divinity. You progress through the six days (or stages) of labor to the Sabbath, where you rest. Keep this Sabbath holy, by entertaining nothing that worketh or maketh a lie.
Obviously, the realization is not contained in the finite expressions you have recourse to on the way. Your words simply represent or indicate the vastness of infinite knowing. They are, for the nonce, indispensable to your attainment of that attitude of thought which is the altitude of God. This attained, you must not forsake it for an instant in considering that which obtrudes itself as an erroneous claim. Your work is designed solely to bring you to this point. How you arrive, is of no consequence whatsoever. Accordingly, you may bring anything into your treatment which serves to clarify consciousness. But the more simple, direct and coherent your reasoning processes, the more efficient your work. The aim is simplification, rather than elaboration. Argument alone, of course, does not heal; it is merely a human expedient for sweeping away the mental smokescreens that Mind may unfold. So learn to say, Amen. Watch your punctuation: more periods and fewer commas!
In this matter of analysis or argument, we must be alert enough to reject the widespread fallacy of correlating errors. Regrettably, the superstition is rife in the field that disease is the penalty for or consequence of sinful thinking, and this notion has ultimated in the natural conclusion that specific diseases are coupled with specific sins or vices. This would be mortal mind in the form of Old Theology. The only sin is indulgence in the belief that existence is material, the claim of sensation in matter embodying every possibility of both pain and pleasure. The so-called penalty does not follow nor result from the sin, but is an aspect of the sin, disappearing with the extinction of the sinful or material sense (Ret 63:7-9).
Some will tell you of sicknesses which have been healed with the uncovering of particular sins or vices, and this is not to be gainsaid. Nevertheless, it does not prove that the one springs directly from the other. It only goes to show that both sin and suffering have a common root in the belief of sensation in matter. When thought is exalted beyond "the fundamental fear that is the faith in things material," both the suffering and the pleasure material disappear. It may prove more difficult on occasion to heal the sinner than the sinless, because the sinner is bound by his fear of losing pleasure through relinquishing the material sense of it. He should be reassured through the promise of contentment beyond his dearest hopes.
Anyone who is honestly turning to spirituality has a right to say: I am not under penalty for anything I ever did or did not do, for anything I ever believed or disbelieved, or for anything evil would have me believe for the moment, since belief does not touch my real being, and the knowledge of this annuls any claim to the contrary (S&H 390:20-26). Otherwise, insidious evil, in the guise of good, would have you constantly condemning yourself and others instead of redeeming all. As for the danger of moral idiocy in this, the sinner is never deceived. In his heart he knows when he is resorting to subterfuge. He cannot call sin unreal in order to justify it, for he must make a reality of sin in order to justify it, for he must make a reality of sin in order to indulge it. He knows this. The only way a sinner ever ceases finally to be a sinner is by knowing he never was a sinner, and knowing it so well that he demonstrates it.
Any disease, then, is sinful thinking itself, never the result of sinful thinking (S&H 411:24 only). Don't grant validity to any error on the assumption that it springs from some other error. Yes, our book does say sin may be the procuring cause of disease, but in the very next paragraph it says the exact opposite (S&H 419:1-12). The first is obviously a relative statement, to be denied on the basis of the absolute one which follows. Don't get stuck on the relative statements. Go on through to the absolute, or you'll never get into the Promised Land of realization. There is one statement in the book which covers this subject beyond all equivocation: "It is latent belief in disease, as well as the fear of disease, which associates sickness with certain circumstances and causes the two to appear conjoined, even as poetry and music are reproduced in union by human memory." (S&H 377:26-3). This disposes of the spurious claims of psychosomatic medicine.
Edward Kimball and Bicknell Young, in keeping with Mrs. Eddy's instructions, emphasized at every turn that we have no authority or sound reason for linking up various errors – like cancer-vindictiveness, eczema-vanity, glasses-criticism, to mention but a few of the most popular fallacies. This practice has hovered about Christian Science ever since its inception and workers have been known to assemble long tables of supposedly correlative errors. Mrs. Eddy at one time told Mr. Kimball that she would have to put a prohibition in the Manual to cover this if it was not stopped in New York, and he laughingly said he would be lost without his list!
Such absurdities arise from the superficial observation or, as must be evident, from puerile punning. Unreason runs something like this: cancer is a malignancy, hence must represent such malignant thought as vindictiveness! Then some unscientific worker encounters bitterness in the attitude of a cancer sufferer – should that be surprising? – and jumps to the unwarranted conclusion that the cancer is the outgrowth of bitterness, Again, someone with an aural affliction overhears something he was not wanted to hear, after having failed to understand something said directly to him, and the shallow comment is that "he just doesn't want to hear, but hears what he wants to!" Or perhaps an eczema sufferer is shy because of the blemishes on his face, or takes measures to improve his appearance somewhat, and into this is read vanity. Such a view is unscientific and unkind.
Many good people die of cancer and many cantankerous and spiteful tyrants remain physically sound to a ripe old age. This should be enough to discredit the theory of correlated errors. One student told another that he had been able to heal one of his patients of chronic rheumatism only by uncovering this rheumatic's hatred for his mother-in-law. Impressed, the second student applied this to a case he had been handling, but the rheumatism did not yield. At last he discovered that his patient didn't have a mother-in-law! We have heard public testimonies ascribing gallstones to galling thoughts, liver trouble to being "a bad liver" and corpulence to personality! Coughs have been attributed to rebellion, colds to anger and insomnia to ambition. A patient of mine told me that she had been given to understand that her corns were due to hard thoughts, but complained that they were soft corns!
When you sing a song, you regard it as a simple, elemental activity; yet it is dual. You may recite the lyrics without ever having heard the melody, or you may hum the melody while unfamiliar with the words. These things are so intimately associated in the song, however, as to seem one. It makes no difference how closely errors seem to be correlated, their only connection is the claim that they are all mortal mind in manifestation. They do not represent the interplay of separate elements, but are simply the language of mortal mind by which it would establish itself as a real entity. Our analyses will not become bogged down in the ramifications of belief if we will just see that these various complexities are but aspects of one indivisible picture, from which we may profitably ascertain the trend of thought and so get our bearings. These "errors" do not depend upon each other, but upon the fundamental claim that mind, your mind, is mortal, malicious, finite, afflictive. If a man has cancer and also smokes, handle both beliefs – but don't let him die of cancer while you are quibbling over the cigarette habit!
Another persistent phase of misapprehension is the assigning of symbolic values to the organs and functions. Such biblical figures of speech as "the bowels of mercies" and "the arm of the Lord" are taken to have some literal connection with the features of physicality. Thus breathing is presumed to represent inspiration and the feet understanding! Thoroughly loving souls who are the victims of heart disease are then told that they must "love more" and paragons of virtue are warned to live better if their livers are kicking up a fuss! A patient with congenital curvature of the spine was urged to see that "the backbone of life is Truth, uprightness." A student told her teacher she had received a telegram for help from an unknown applicant signed "Holeman," and that she had healed him by just knowing that he was a whole man! Her teacher's laconic observation was that he supposed the man would have been doomed if his name had been Dunn.
Come, now, let us have done with such fruitless and distressing sophistry and get back to the pure Science – which is always rational. Christian Science is metaphysical, not metaphorical. Nor do we analyze specific claims in order to reveal one error as having foundation in another error. Wouldn't that be endlessly self-defeating? Our analysis exposes the afflictive evidence as sheer deception and then disposes of the basic claim that there is evil, through the realization of God's allness. Detecting deception through scientific, irrefutable, compelling reason, there is nothing left but God appearing. As you progress, there may be less and less that is argumentative about your metaphysical work, but the end is always the same – Mind realized.
The most important thing to learn is that this is God appearing. But such a statement cannot be made casually. You must never, never make such a statement in an off-hand manner, either silently or audibly. Growing in Christian Science is not the cultivating of automatisms of thought and action, but the ever-increasing apprehension of living spirituality. If you are actually ascending the glorious, white throne of Spirit, you can look upon a ghastly accident or a charming symphony and say, "This is God appearing!" Good no longer appears negatively, then, but stands revealed in shining splendor. It is not merely re-titled, but redeemed by Truth. Knowing it as Spirit dispels its materiality and clothes it in the shimmering garments of light.
Whatever is appearing must, in the ultimate, be Mind disclosing itself – not to you, but to itself and as itself. And where is all this taking place? In the only place there is: the realm of thought. Yes, the demonstration of Christian Science is always subjective, even though it must appear to be external to pure consciousness. This that is Mind's communion meets your every need, for it necessarily unfolds in the language of your comprehension. You do not try to alter your way of seeing reality, but gratefully accept what you recognize to be the unfoldment of Mind. You understand that the forms of goodness and beauty for you will be purified and perfected as you grasp their underlying divinity of cause. Mind, to be Mind, must be understandable. Mind understandable expresses itself as law, order, harmony. The language in which you apprehend this is decided by the degree of your understanding or spiritual growth. Harmony to us is the music of human relationships; perfection accords with mankind's standards; completeness is literal in every field of experience. And if this isn't so for us, there's something wrong with our version of Science. We are entitled to the loaves and the fishes. Indeed, they are the only concrete evidence possible to us that we are divinely provided for. We do not seek the effects, of course, primarily, for that would tend to separate cause and effect and so deprive us of them. But we do expect results. We know enough to seek first the kingdom of God, but we also know enough to expect the finding to be manifest as all that is right in present experience.
It is sometimes said that the practitioner treats himself only. This is quite true. But it must not be inferred that the practitioner has a private mind apart from his patients, which private mind is to be corrected individually. Mentation is one and indivisible, and this mentation is the universe. In no sense do you ever treat "another mind." You correct belief through divine realization – a wholly impersonal operation. Where else could you correct it but where it is appearing – which is where you are and what you are thinking? You do not point thoughts at people; you establish the truth of being, making way for Soul's immaculate expression. Where? The infinite here of consciousness is the only place there is. Then the demonstration appears as that which is entirely natural, since nothing can appear to you contrary to your own interpretation of reality at the moment. To be miraculous to you, it would have to be contrary to your sense of reality and therefore impossible.
When the disciple attempted to walk upon the water to go to Jesus, and as the result of his own fear he began to sink, it was Jesus' hand which appeared to hold him up. If it hadn't been so, he would have appeared to drown. Surely there could be no question that it was spiritual power which sustained him? Yet divine sustenance was visible to those who witnessed the event only as the hand of Jesus lifting him up. Actually, Jesus never existed in matter, so the entire experience was not what it seemed to be (S&H 76:10-12, 75:16-20). Significantly, our Leader writes: "Wearing in part a human form (that is, as it seemed to mortal view) . . . Jesus was the mediator between Spirit and the flesh, between Truth and error." (S&H 315:29-32).
To demonstrate means, of course, to establish the truth or produce the evidence of fact, so you cannot demonstrate that which is not already so. Christian Science demonstration is simply seeing that which is. What you call progressive demonstration is your growing apprehension of the divine facts of being. Such evidence is wholly incidental to what you are really establishing – namely, God as the divine and only cause. When you seek cause as God, the evidence is sure to accord. What you are confronted with is not the result of your thinking, but it is your thinking, and its nature is according to what you are accepting as Mind. Such evidence does not follow realization; it is itself realization. That which is evidence must be determined by Mind and as Mind (Mis 257:6-7).
Demonstration appears to hinge upon the understanding of the treater, but that is all on the belief side of the question. From the standpoint of the human being, the responsibility for healing is as much that of the patient as the practitioner, and vice versa. Whether you believe yourself to be the patient or the practitioner – or an onlooker – it is up to you to handle and meet, so far as your understanding permits, any erroneous appearance in your world of experience. But, in order to do this, you must take the whole thing out of that relative realm and admit that you are forever within the sphere of your own consciousness, accountable for everything arising therein.
It may appear that one person is healing another person. Actually, it is divine power humanly attested. Treatment must take on ever more of the character that is the constant consciousness of God – God's consciousness. This that is thinking Mind is the divine presence. All that is true about your treatment emanates from God and is God. "The Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1). That is why it is infallible. And you must insist (in your own thinking) that it is unfailing and instant. Passive thought is not treatment. The divine oneness must be vital and alive as active realization. Then it is never inadequate, incompetent, indifferent, incomplete, imperfect.
Silently declare that Christian Science is true. It is Truth itself. Therefore it is the only truth or power or law to this or any case, now and forever. You need not speculate on the results of such knowing. You may rest assured that completeness, perfection and harmony, in order to appear in belief, must conform in their appearance to the requirements of belief. Again: the perfection of being can only be apprehended as what is nearest right under the circumstances. But Mind is its own interpreter and you only handicap your search for divinity when you try to outline in finite terms the outcome of turning to Mind (S&H 62:22-26). Confusion, disappointment and defeat attend human speculation (S&H 422:31-32). If you just leave the results to God, they will be satisfactory and satisfying, because they then must be good unfolding.
Right here is a good place to make the point that the Christian Scientist is not in the business of reconstructing a belief world. Perfecting the universe is not a matter of idealizing it, but of ascertaining the reality of perfection and the perfection of reality (S&H 518:27-2, 504:14-15). Demonstration is revelation, not manipulation. What is the healing of any condition or situation but the apprehension of the fact that all is complete, harmonious, perfect? That this should appear as a material improvement is in no way surprising, since it can be cognized only in the language of your present thinking. When things are unsatisfactory, you do not seek a better sense of things, but you seek the spiritual reality, and this results inevitably in a better sense of things though a sense of things far removed from anything you may have preconceived.
What you call reality is your current sense of reality. If there is anything wrong about it, you do not try to juggle the sense or interpretation directly. You alter it indirectly by seeking and finding the truth of being. Otherwise, it would be as futile as trying to change the echo without reference to the sound echoed. To become absorbed in the appearances is to be lost in deceptive superficialities. You rectify the misinterpretation by finding what the appearance is a misinterpretation of. Rather than stopping with the picture confronting you, you go on through to the basic reality (S&H 264:7-10).
It is not uncommon to hear Christian Science demonstrations referred to as "improved beliefs," and divine healing explained as the getting of a better belief through adherence to some underlying pattern of spiritual perfection. But if we thus left results in the realm of belief, we could lay no claim to any permanent healings. That's for certain. Human thinking is intrinsically unstable, vacillating, mutable. "It is as necessary for a health-illusion, as for an illusion of sickness, to be instructed out of itself into the understanding of what constitutes health," our Leader warns (S&H 297:7-9). So we do not try to perfect the fable, but to perceive the fact.
What is called an improved belief is simply a more nearly correct interpretation of the flawless actuality. You would not undertake to make over reality – which is what your interpretation is to you at the moment – for you could hardly hope to deceive yourself knowingly! Your interpretation is not something voluntarily undertaken, but the inadvertent outcome of your perception of the thing interpreted. Your viewpoint, unconsciously assumed, is what determines the form of being for you currently (S&H 210:1-4). You will have a more harmonious and satisfactory interpretation never by seeking a preferred interpretation, an improved belief, but by seeking the basic truth.
In Oscar Wilde's stately allegory, the Accused, admitting his transgressions, stands naked on the Day of Reckoning, and the Voice of Judgment consigns him to the nether world in these words: "Surely I will send thee unto Hell. Even unto Hell will I send thee." But the Accused cries out, "Thou canst not!" Thundering wrathfully, the Voice demands, "Wherefore can I not send thee unto Hell, and for what reason?" "Because," answers the Accused, "never and in no place, have I been able to imagine it." How true! That which cannot be conceived by the mind does not exist for it.
Mathematics comes to you as numbers, and music as notes – in the language of mathematical and musical thought. The universal language of mankind is that of people-places-things, without which there is no expression. Wipe out these familiar forms, and you would have only a vacuum left. Jesus brought back Lazarus, or re-established his presence, in the only form or manner in which he was recognizable – but there was nothing material about that. He recalled Lazarus' presence in the only language in which that presence could be apprehensible. He did not say that Lazarus had never lived in matter and we must not expect to see him as we did before. On the contrary, he cried, "Lazarus, come forth!" – clearly referring to the only Lazarus he or the others had ever known in the only form in which Lazarus was recognizable. If we are aware of Lazarus' presence, he implied, it must be in the only manner conceivable to us here and now.
Whether there are ten fingers, two eyes and one heart in Mind, is quite beside the point. The fact is that ten fingers, two eyes and one heart mean completeness to you, and completeness does not prevail for you except it be so seen. Mrs. Eddy points out that the divine idea appears in different forms at different times according to humanity's need (Mis 370:12-13). How else could it be? Mankind is bound to interpret its need as being filled according to its present sense of need. Flawlessness, wholeness, concord could not possibly appear except in keeping with human standards. Whatever you see, feel, smell, taste or hear comes to you as a mode of consciousness, a manner of thinking, a form of thought, and can have no other reality for you than the sense you entertain of it (Un 8:5-8).
Divine Love meets every human need humanly, not because it leaves its divine sphere, but because the form of its manifestation is decided entirely by the form of our acceptance. It may look like material provision, but you are not deceived by the spontaneous interpretation. The flatness of the earth, apparent as it is, does not disconcert you. Because you see the horizon in the distance, that suggestion of an edge would result in the sense of the earth as flat. If the matter were left there – as it was in the olden days – you would be confined to a small area of the earth's surface. Knowing that the appearance is deceptive frees you from confinement. The flatness is not a thing to be eliminated, but a misapprehension to be automatically corrected through your understanding of the earth's roundness. Enlightenment unmasks the trick of perspective and neutralizes it.
So it is that our primary concern is not with the appearance, but with the fundamental truth of perfection as the natural and only condition of being, here or anywhere. The least perception of this results in an altered sense of being and therefore an improved bodily estate. To think of heaven as a future state or a remote location is to postpone it. To find heaven at hand, you must perceive the spiritual reality as the only reality, so that it becomes your present experience.
In one of her later letters, Mrs. Eddy indicated that the vitality and growth of the Movement must rest upon our having "better healers." The word of God, she concluded, is this: "Demonstration is the whole of Christian Science, nothing else proves it, nothing else will save it and continue it with us." (Journal, Vol 54, p. 156).