Men are gregarious creatures, and that is as it should be. Nothing else would be natural, normal, wholesome or desirable. Anyone who secludes himself invariably loses his perspective in sodden morbidity. You cannot keep a balanced sense of values without contact and association with your fellow beings. Because Christian Science discloses the indivisible completeness of Being, it unifies men and nations. Oneness and inseparability can only be shown forth as a fuller sense of unity and action. Thus we love each other no less, but secure our love in human relationships more noble, more tender, more binding. Human unity is our way of seeing the divine completeness undivided. The concrete demonstration of completeness is the only proof of completeness. In this we have family, community, world ever more congenial and consolidated (S&H 340:23-29).
In his 1917 class, Bicknell Young said: "Marriage is a better illustration of the divine man, because you have the male and female living together in harmony. If man and woman ever belong together in the human order, then they first belong together in the divine order, and they can never be separated." Marriage is a way of seeing the divine completeness (S&H 57:4-5). It is not the only way, of course, for the fact of completeness must appear through Science as what is nearest right under the circumstances. To the pre-adolescent, for instance, it cannot be marriage. Still and all, the youngster does have his chum. How completeness is seen at any point in your development is a matter of perception (S&H 210:1-4). Whatever the form, though, the fact of completeness must be manifest in some mode comprehensible to the individual if he is to enjoy any sense of contentment (Mis 370:12-13).
Occasionally some misguided student of metaphysics voices the curious fancy that an individual human being is sufficient unto himself, that he can demonstrate completeness independently of his fellows. You have only to look at the faces of such people to see the desolating results of such a warped viewpoint. Even the practiced smile does not conceal the emotional, moral and spiritual pauperism. Such victims will quote for authority Mary Baker Eddy's statement that the unity of male and female must eventually be understood as two natures in one Mind instead of two separate individuals, neglecting to finish out her sentence to the effect that this inclusiveness is not possible as one "corporeal being." (S&H 377:4-8). Conveniently, too, they overlook the fact that Mrs. Eddy herself was married three times, bearing a child by that marriage which she forever afterward declared idyllic.
Question: I recently read an article in which a practitioner told a mother that her little boy was as much girl as he was boy, because of the divine completeness, and that the child forthwith ceased manifesting the boyish vigor which made living in a small apartment difficult.
Answer: Such a perverted concept would provide the basis for physical and psychological hermaphroditism, a grave and disruptive malady, and betrays a shocking ignorance on the part of the author of both human conditions and metaphysical requirements. One of the cardinal points of our doctrine is that Science absolutely refutes the amalgamation, absorption or annihilation of identity or individuality (Mis 22:12-14). The fatherhood of God is not the motherhood of God, any more than the infinity of Mind would be the eternality of Mind. As aspects of indivisible Being they are inseparable, but they are always distinct and must be so demonstrated humanly. In her calculated article, "Man and Woman," Mrs. Eddy calls attention to the dual nature of Being, the masculinity and femininity of God manifest as distinguishable gender, and she points out that neither manhood nor womanhood is superior to the other in God's sight, even though one or the other might temporarily gain the ascendency in mankind's sight.
There is just one "I" but that I is also US, since "man and woman [are] unchanged forever in their individual characters, even as numbers which never blend with each other, though they are governed by one Principle." (S&H 588:11-15). You can't get around that. And remember your fundamental premise is that the divinely true is humanly demonstrable, with demonstration requisite. Masculinity and femininity must not become lost in each other but must enrich each other by association through the inclusiveness of Mind. Yet they remain permanently distinct and must be proven so in present experience (S&H 70:12-13, 217:1-5, 507:7-10, 513:17-21). My manhood can only be demonstrated as my own virility and that of the men of my world, while my womanhood is inconceivable except as the femininity of the women of my world – certainly not in the anomalous character of the shrill effeminate or the hoarse virago.
The completeness of man is seen in his universe and is demonstrable only as his universe. This divine and demonstrable consummation includes the trees and the flowered carpet of the cool forest, the lambent moon in a cloud flecked sky, the precious playmates of childhood and the beloved helpmeets of maturity, always, always unfolding harmoniously as "what is nearest right under the circumstances."
Question: But our textbook says gender is a product of mortal mind? (S&H 305:12-13).
Answer: That reference is obviously to the physical misinterpretation of gender called "sex," for the same book says later on that gender, properly understood, is of God, doesn't it? (S&H 508:13-14). If there were no truth to gender, what basis would you have for correcting sex difficulties, which are legion? Frigidity and impotence are not uncommon maladies, and they often result in tragedy. Are you going to fall into evil's trap by agreeing here that "there is no sex"? Confronted with the unfortunate victim of indeterminate sex, you are going to have to be consistent, practical, compassionate. What is the only possible counterfact to, "My sex is uncertain"? My sex (or gender) is certain! You do not have to visualize it materially. You just have to know that true gender, whatever called, is unimpeachable, sacred, lovely, infallible, harmless, harmonious, as glorious as the God of which it is.
Question: We hear a lot of talk about "impersonalization," as though that meant annihilation of identity.
Answer: It is only in wonderland that a cat can be stripped of everything but its grin! In all things, we do not demolish, but redeem. Mrs Eddy urges you to be on guard with anyone who incessantly warns you of personality, since he must be the victim of his own corporeality (Ret 73:19-21, S&H 217:1-5). To impersonalize is to incorporealize, to translate materiality back into spirituality, finding the true nature of all being in Mind. The intemperate discussion of personalization betrays an obsession with matter. The glutton may make a god of matter, but the ascetic makes a devil of it, and whether through love or fear of it, each serves materiality. You can see that the militant crusader for "impersonalization" means to wipe out every characteristic by which we could identify each other or recognize presence. The genuine Christian Scientist does not abuse the corporeal concept of man, but endeavors to redeem that concept to the spiritual ideal (Ret 76:23-26). The characteristics are not lost but spiritualized, so that personality is found to be, in its true nature, the divine identity. Scientists do not dispose of personality. Contrariwise, "their personality is defined spiritually, not materially – by Mind, not by matter," so that we are not engaged in blotting out the race of Adam but in uplifting man to his God-ordained status in the scale of Being ('01, 5:14-16).
Question: Then murderers and liars are God's children?
Answer: Not as such! What you denominate an evil man is a wrong sense of man, and you cannot love evil. You cannot call an evil man a good man until he is regenerated, any more than you could call a sick man a well man until he is healed (My 242:10-14). This discrimination is vital to your welfare, to your world and to your progress in Christian Science. In a page of surpassing value, our Leader writes that a real Scientist is a miracle and that the opposite of this type of man, sometimes called one, is no more than a treacherous insect or a ravening beast, from whose sting and claws you must protect yourself. She goes so far as to say you should love such a man no more than enough to help him, but that you must not dissipate your attentions on him if you are not proving that you can help him (Mis 294:6-23).
That she followed her own precepts is related by Minnie Scott, a member of her household staff. A known trouble-maker who was rather prominent in church affairs insisted upon an interview with our Leader. "Minnie," Mrs. Eddy said at the time, "if you knew that someone was trying to get into your home to bother you and take up your time, would you just know that divine Love protected you and so you were safe?" Mrs. Scott relied, "Yes, Mother, that is exactly what I would know – but I would also be sure that the doors and windows were securely locked!" Mrs. Eddy beamed. "There! You have given me the spirit and the letter, and there is nothing more need be said!"
Question: If personality, rightly understood, is divine identity, its eternal continuity should be demonstrable right here, should it not?
Answer: Yes. You are not to reconcile yourself to the loss of a loved one, but you are to assuage your grief through the sure knowledge that you can eventually prove presence precisely where there seems to be a void. Presence cannot cease with regard to anything, and if that is true it is surely demonstrable. You would no more resign yourself to the absence of an individual than you would to the disappearance of an eye or a lung (My 297:11-25). Absence is a false sense of presence, to be corrected. Presence must be demonstrated in the same literal sense that health is demonstrated. Going and coming belong to the relative interpretation of being (Un 63:7-11).
Naturally we are not to picture where people ought to be in human belief. But we know that in the manifestation of Soul's indivisible completeness, everything must be evidenced in a manner that is harmonious and satisfying. Eliminate living and what becomes of Life? It would vanish into the limbo of supposition. See that all isness is inextinguishable. Presence would have no significance or value for us if we could not demonstrate it in terms of present understanding (S&H 555:27-30, 486:14-15). Jesus did not justify the absence of Lazarus when his friend disappeared into the tomb. Indeed, according to the record he wept at first. Then he called him back, but literally, in the only guise recognizable or conceivable.
To Dr. Alfred Baker, Mrs. Eddy said: "Lazarus, come forth! broke [annulled] every law of anatomy." (Metaphysical Obstetrics, by Alfred E. Baker, p 7). If you were really discerning that he was Mind, not matter, you would see him here now, and in the only form in which he could be identified by you – which is exactly what Mrs. Eddy said of her beloved Edward Kimball after his demise. To Anna Machacek, she said that "'Planes of thought' is a figure of speech. We shall never demonstrate over death as long as we keep talking about 'planes'." No man can escape from the one and only plane: consciousness. If we knew this, our friends would cease slipping away from us into the Unknown.
While Mind diversifies, individualizes and distinguishes, it cannot segregate, insulate or isolate. In this realization is reunion, blessed consummation, where there is no suffering or sorrow and all tears are wiped away. The Life we are living is infinite and indivisible, and this is the only one we shall ever experience. "This is Life eternal," and he who knows this will never see death, in himself or others (S&H 324:32-7, 421:25-26). A student in the celebrated 1898 Class, Mrs. Sue Harper Mims, reported at the time that Mrs. Eddy "told us something of her experience when she first saw the Truth. She said the first revelation that came to her was that she could not die. She saw Life, and that it was impossible for her to die." (1898 Association Address of Sue Harper Mims, Mother Church Archives).
But she did die, you protest. Who says so? Who believes that? Who sees it that way? Who is entertaining a sense of her absence? How do you know that Mrs. Eddy passed through the belief of death herself? You don't. All you can be sure of about that event is that you are entertaining the belief of Mrs. Eddy's death. When you dream at night that someone near and dear is dying, you are grief-stricken. Then you wake up, and there sweeps over you a blessed relief as you recall that your friend is in the best of health. In your dream, he was really dying but that dream was not shared by your friend and did not touch him in any way. On your awakening, did the friend of your dream cease to exist? Not a bit of it! You woke to find him more real, so that you recognize it was only your temporarily wrong sense of him which had him slipping away (S&H 386:16-2).
Anything that exists at all is alive, as mental action. If you consciously are at this instant, this is a fact self-evident. Any fact is without beginning or ending, uninterruptible, and so you can never experience death. You could not even fleetingly fancy you were dead, for the presence of consciousness to think anything would automatically, irresistibly and constantly refute and preclude the belief of unconsciousness, oblivion, non-existence. You are right now experiencing immortality, and the knowledge of this embodies the power to eliminate the appearance of death or passing on.
Mind cannot get outside of itself to go anywhere and, for that matter, is inclusive of everywhere. That which is cannot become something else – is not – and Mind is incapable of entertaining any sense of its own disappearance, certainly. People say there isn't any death and then go right on preparing for it. True, they give it the more palatable title of "passing on," but it's the same thing. Until the statement of death's powerlessness and unreality is accepted as literal and provably so, that harrowing if illusory event cannot be transcended.
Question: Our books say it is unchristian to believe in a transition, but where do people go who pass on? (Un 38:11 only).
Answer: The question is self-contradictory. We cannot say people do not go away and then ask where they went. But they have gone, you say? When a lung has disappeared in tuberculosis, do you work from the premise that it has actually gone, or that its absence is illusory? To restore the lung to all soundness, you must insist that, rightly understood, it is exactly where it has always been and doing exactly what it has always done in the divine order (No 10:16-26). What, then, if the negative illusion of absence extends to the entire organism, so that man appears to disappear? Are you going to accept that, or disprove it? Be conservative in how you talk about these things, but you must be radical in how you think of them. Stand for resurrection as a present possibility (S&H 573:19-2).
Here you are, let us say, seeing a party of friends off for South Haven on the far shore of Lake Michigan, and you stand happily on the pier, caught in their picnic spirit of adventure. The apricot lights dancing on the sunrise water keep you standing there long after they have cast off, and you watch the ship sail slowly and majestically up toward the sharp horizon. Does the vessel shrink with the minutes, like a man with age? Only from your fixed view. Well, anyway, it lingers quietly before you ever so long – something like this human sense of a life-span – and then rather suddenly it drops behind the skyline and is seen no more. Snuffed out in a twinkling, leaving no trace in all your universe.
Your friends have passed on, beyond your reach, and you have no evidence to point to that they exist at all any more. What has happened to them? Nothing. That you know. It is only from where you stand unmoving that they pass away. Do you suppose they were startled when they encountered the horizon? They did not see this line of demarcation, this knife-keen edge which cut them off so implacably from your point of view. They are going right on in the same old way, their surroundings unchanged, laughing, conversing and eagerly anticipating the next gay episode, which for them lies beyond another horizon at the moment.
Do they worry about you? No. "Oh, John will be along as soon as he can get away." When will you pass your horizon? You never will. You can never get to your horizon, for it is no more than a deceptive appearance, an illusion, a total nonentity. It appears as the boundary of a limiting point of view. Personally, you will never pass the horizon called death, to sense or otherwise. Consciousness is always saying, "I am the resurrection and the Life, and he that believeth in me [understandeth] shall never see death." If I awaken ahead of my friend in the morning, am I terrified that he is in "another sphere," because I am not in conscious touch with him? Of course not! I think, "He'll be along directly." He will awaken to the same sense of things as I, and we will continue from there together in awareness or communion. Meanwhile, if I temporarily believe I cannot reach him, I have no reason to say that he believes the same.
Death is not in those we say have died, but in us. It is we who believe they sicken and die, we who believe we bury them as material bodies out of sight, we who believe we shall never see them again. In her masterly article "Life," Mrs. Eddy writes that when you say "My friend has just died," no change has been wrought and that this friend must be saying right now, and in the same surroundings, "I am alive!" (Journal, Vol 36, pp 1-7). Why "the same surroundings"? Unless your friend's basic interpretation of being has suddenly and inexplicably altered – and you have no evidence whatsoever that it has – everything must remain the same for him (S&H 291:19-25). It is you who believe him dead and gone. He can't be believing that. If he ever lived, he is alive now, and must be knowing Life more and more, forevermore (S&H 427:1-2).
During dessert at Pleasant View one evening, Laura Sargent posed this question: "Mother, if someone put a leaden bullet through your heart as we sit here at the table, what would become of you really?" Smiling quietly, her teacher looked up and said, "Why, I'd go right on eating my apple pie." What she clearly implied by this was that while she might appear dead to them, she couldn't possibly appear so to herself, and so would go right on doing exactly what she was doing and seeing it in the same old way. She brought this out in a discussion of the subject with Dr. Frank L. Riley in November 1897, in which she said that if she saw the Doctor slain by an arrow before her, she could no longer converse with him. She added that he would go on about his affairs, leaving no body in the chair where he had sat, while she would proceed to bury his dead body in belief.
One of the most important key-phases of Christian Science is that things exist for us only in the language of present thinking, and that we never acquire a totally new vocabulary of thought overnight. Mathematics and music come to us as numbers and notes, and cannot come to us otherwise. Living existence unfolds to us in the familiar language of people-places-things, even after we recognize that it is Mind speaking in the language of pure Mind (S&H 117:6-7, 210:1-4). That is why your nocturnal dream-universe, which is admittedly thought alone, is constituted of people-places-things. Arising with the dawn, you say you wake up. Is your universe abolished thereby? No, it becomes more vivid and palpable for you. Do you ever open your eyes to a literally new world? Certainly not. That is forever impossible. Mornings you only awaken to a brighter and more convincing sense of things than that of your sleeping dream. Not to a novel environment, but to an existence so much more real and so much more familiar that you refer to the experience of the recent hours as "just a dream." The touch of death could not in one fell swoop change your basic language of thought miraculously, to leave you gaping over things for which you had no names or notions. From the standpoint that all is mental, this is not at all difficult to understand (Un 8:5-8).
If there are any other "awakenings," you can depend upon it that they must be ever to a more welcome and happily familiar sense of things – never to a sense of loss, separation or strangeness. Arriving at such a point, would you not have to recognize the presence of those whom you may have been believing long dead? According to our book, if you could awaken to the reality now, you would bring back into your world those thought dead (S&H 81:17-19, 75:21-24). Failing to achieve this for the nonce, you cannot be dismayed, for with what you know scientifically you are sure that the demonstration can be made and that it need not take time nor suffering in the making. Fallacies of belief are but flickering shadows that have nothing to do with realities. You admit this. Death is no more than a transitory belief which misguided education would fasten upon us (S&H 164:17-29).
We know and can ultimately prove that there is no death, and we need not say or think anything which might cast a shadow on the joy of this realization. Truth is true, and what is actual about anyone remains untouched by any belief about him. The harmony and immortality of man are intact, and if those we do not see should desire anything from us, it would surely be that we know this much for them and for ourselves steadfastly. Grief on our part would be needless and profitless. All that was ever true of any late lamented one is spiritually mental, not material. If finite sense would argue that he was ever imprisoned in a physical outline, that does not make it so. He never existed in or as matter and has therefore never passed out of it (S&H 76:6-12). He is as much here today as he ever was, and knowing that (My 297:12-17). Let us rejoice together!