Whatever you are aware of must be caught through mind. You certainly do not apprehend anything through senseless matter, do you? Perception belongs to mind, however you look at it (Mis 228:21-24). Even our friends the materialists admit this much. You cannot go back of consciousness, beyond or outside of it. It is elemental, final and primal, the essence of all the things of your experience. You could no more escape your thinking than matter could leave its material, finite outline and enter the realm of thought.
Does the material chair get into your brain? Or even into your thinking? Hardly! What you see of chair is a mental concept wholly. Awareness embraces chair, yet awareness could not possibly include anything that was unmental. Then is the chair mental or material? You have your answer. If cognition includes it, it is mental first, last and always. You couldn't know chair except as a form of thought (Un 8:5-8). Consciousness can include nothing but itself.
Then what about body? Does it exist, or not? Why, we couldn't be talking about it if it didn't exist – at least in thought. What the human view would designate matter must indicate a mode of thought, so that what you know about body must represent a state or stage of consciousness, in order to be appreciable to you at all (S&H 573:9-12).
Learn to reduce everything to its common denominator, the mental. See that you are never dealing with anything outside of what you call your consciousness, for that could not exist for you which was external to your thought. So it is that you must be forever alone with your own being and with the reality of things, to quote our Leader ('01. 20:8-9). You are the only one concerned with all that means consciousness to you. This is so whether you say you are asleep and dreaming, or awake. Although existence may seem to be composed of persons, places and things, it is still just plain mentation – and your own. It must be mind appearing in concrete form, whether regarded as indivisible unfoldment or numberless entities.
This raises the arresting question as to whether you are in this room. Are you? No, the room is in you, humanly speaking. Why? The room does not think of you; you think of the room, and consciousness implies inclusion. When you think of yourself as in anything, you are subject to it. Reversing this, means your emancipation. It is like escaping from a nightmare by awakening to the fact that you are not in the dream universe, but that the dream universe is your thinking. This establishes your dominion over it. It is the old Ptolemaic blunder of inversion, which would have the sun revolving around the earth and Soul at the mercy of body or Life dependent upon matter (S&H 122:29-10).
Is the concept called body within, or are you in it? "You embrace your body in your thought," and to recognize this is to find yourself master where before you were enslaved (S&H 208:29-30). Consciousness is always inclusive, never included. The moment you relinquish the notion that consciousness is something that can be compressed and carried around in a box called the skull, you gain immeasurably in the Godlike manhood that spells redemption to your finite human sense of man (S&H 397:28-30). And this is not without immediate results with reference to your present experience or consciousness of existence.
All this, of course, is within the range of finite mentation. It must be carried over into the absolute of Spirit, where it can be established unmistakably that "there is a spiritual body." (I Corinthians 15:44). Read that remarkably metaphysical part of Paul's letter to the Church of Corinth in which he declares that, despite the apparent presence of a material body, body is actually and provably spiritual (I Corinthians 15:35, 38, 40-44).
To "embody" means to render concrete by expression in perceptible form, to realize or actualize. Mind's perception of itself is undeniably concrete and definite. There is nothing vague or formless about Truth, and Truth manifest must be accurate, exact, specific, definite. "As the image of God, or Life, man forever reflects and embodies Life . . ." (Un 39:23-24). When asked, What are body and Soul? Mrs. Eddy does not equivocate. She answers directly that identity is the reflection of Spirit, that man is Soul expressed. That is to say, Mind cognizing itself is the Psyche embodying itself as its own thought (S&H 477:19-26). God's recognition of Himself identifies God by way of body, or embodiment. Isn't this man? Man does not have a body; man is body.
In the first edition of "Science and Health," its author made this enlightening statement: "The body of God is the idea given of Him in the harmonious universe, and the male and female formed by Him." (S&H 1st Edition, 221:25-2). She never retracted this. Indeed, she reiterates substantially the same thing in our present edition of the textbook, though the precept is couched in less blunt language. Perhaps experience showed her that the average reader cannot use the word body without picturing a finity. Be that as it may, we have then God and man, Soul and body, Principle and idea.
The knowing of arithmetic by way of its multiplication table means embodying arithmetic as understanding. And without this body, arithmetic would be a nonentity. Arithmetic unexpressed would be absent. Its expression, by way of cognition, is its body, literally speaking. So it is that without man-body, our Soul would be a nonentity (S&H 477:29-31). Thought or thinking, knowledge or knowing, is body, spiritual body and the only body. To understand this, we need hardly add, you must dispense with the finitizing connotations associated generally with the word "body."
Let it be reiterated that thought cannot be restricted to any finite form nor confined within a dimensional outline. There are no conceivable boundary lines to mentation, so that body must be utterly incorporeal. It cannot be visualized or depicted in the imagination and none of its aspects can be reduced to material characteristics. Still and all, this need not remain a nebulous abstraction, for Mind is real enough to itself, and its manifestation or body is tangible and palpable in every possible respect as an actuality. Mind manifested is vividly real to Mind (S&H 269:17-20, 317:16-23). Incorporeal body would have to be no less visible to spiritual sight than could the human being be to the belief of sight. If a seeming state of existence – the material – which is admittedly deceptive and unreal, is so apprehensible as to be at times obtrusive, then the reality of spiritual being is bound to be infinitely more palpable and substantial to unhampered, flawless, spiritual vision.
A curious comment on mental tangibility which ran through many editions of "Science and Health" is worth repeating here: "Corporeal consciousness is not so much needed as spiritual. Think of thyself as the orange just eaten, of which only the pleasant idea is left." (S&H 164th Edition, 277:24-27 and other editions).
What is ordinarily called the body is a corporeal sense of body, and the misapprehension is not the reality of body. Nevertheless, what appears to be body at the moment is body, misapprehended though it is. And the corporeal limitations and imperfections begin to yield to the beauties of incorporeality from the very instant one begins to see that he hasn't got another body. As far as body is concerned, it is divine, and it is divine right where it appears to be human. You cannot localize it, of course. But, just the same, it is divine exactly where it appears to be otherwise (S&H 476:32-5).
"Rightly understood, instead of possessing a sentient material form, man has a sensationless body," and this is the only body (S&H 280:25-26). Not two. One. Man cannot be both material and spiritual. Even in belief, he must be one or the other. To always qualify your statement that man is spiritual by adding "in Truth," is to imply that he is material in belief, and this is an inadvertent admission that you are still entertaining the belief of materiality! The only man there is must be spiritual, and he must be spiritual in the only place he ever is, namely: right where he is thinking or being.
In passing, it might be wise to say a word about body being sensationless. Sensation and perception belong to Mind irrevocably, not to idea. It is not idea, expression or body which senses anything, but Mind. Mind remains always the perceiver. Idea is Mind's sense of itself in its every last possibility.
The claim is made that, although man may be spiritual and perfect in his true being, he has here another body – one that is material and imperfect. The thing that extinguishes an erroneous sense of body is the realization that he hasn't got another body (S&H 270:7-10, 279:26-29, 369:19-22). Realizing that this which appears to be a material body is exempt from the restrictions of finite belief, perfect body is manifested in exact ratio. The only material body you could have would be the belief that body is material. You cannot dispose of a material sense of body as though it were a thing, but you must transcend it; and this ascension appears as a constantly improved bodily estate (S&H 425:23-26). You cannot die out of material body; you must live out of it.
Body will always be body, and you will never be without body – although your fundamental sense of yourself as body may undergo a gradual and radical change. To dip into Scriptural metaphor, no body achieves heaven except that body which seems to have come down from heaven, but which has remained forever in heaven (See John 3:13). That this is the selfsame body that has never left heaven is made clear enough where it is written that the genuine Christian Scientist never abuses the corporeal personality, but uplifts it. That is, he redeems the limited concept to the illimitable ideal. To the extent that he understands man in his true nature, he must see the mortal in an impersonal or incorporeal depict (Ret 76:23-26, My 218:9-11).
When Paul refers to "our vile body," it is our corrupt sense of body of which he speaks, for he immediately thereafter envisages its displacement by "the glorious body." (Philippians 3:21). Body, being the embodiment of Soul, is as sacred as Soul. It follows that there can be no legitimate denunciation of body. The only thing that is legitimate is to supersede a wrong sense of body – and this involves the perfection and preservation of body, not its demise. Understanding man as body, you can profitably paraphrase that favorite proclamation: Then shall body be found in His likeness, perfect as the Father, indestructible in Life, "hid with Christ in God," – with Truth in divine Love, where the finite sense of body is inconceivable (S&H 325:16-19).
Metaphysical dilettantes are wont to prattle that there is no body. But observe that "Science and Health" is all about the body and what to do for body, from start to finish. As its author points out, "The Word will be made flesh and dwell among mortals, only when man reflects God in body . . ." (Mis 184:6-7). This does not mean that the Christian Scientist tries to reduce the infinite idea, or divine embodiment, to a restricted area. It means that man is recognized as existing at the standpoint of body, as the spiritually perfect, incorporeal or boundless manifestation of pure Mind.
Then it is seen that the states, stages and modes, the faculties, functions and capacities, the phases, aspects and facets of Soul are embodied in Soul's identification of itself, since the potentialities of God are the potentialities of man as God's reflection (Mis 183:12-14). It must be acknowledged that all the things, verities, of body are eternal, complete, perfect and successfully purposeful, with the law of Soul to body the law of perpetual, harmonious action.
The frequent reference to body as an "aggregation of ideas" is perhaps objectionable, for it suggests an organic or structural concept of Being. Spiritual body cannot be an organism, or grouping together of semi-independent parts. Man is not constructed of things, mental or otherwise. The image of prolific Principle is the compound, complex manifestation of infinitely versatile Being (My 239:17-23). Multiform Mind must retain its every aspect as perpetually distinct in manifestation, so that every feature of body, no matter what named, must be or indicate a specific spiritual verity. To call the complex idea of versatile Principle organic, however, is to misstate the Science of Being and to invite the difficulties inherent in the sense of interdependency implied (Mis 56:21 only).
While an erroneous viewpoint would translate spiritual ideas into material beliefs, we need not be deceived (S&H 257:15-17). Instead, we admit the spiritual meaning in contradistinction to the material implication, thus translating the material back into the original spiritual signification (Hea 7:6-10). There is no nihilism in this business of metaphysical translation. Only redemption. Total redemption. But as long as you regard the things of body as material – even "in belief" – body will be to you nothing more than an assemblage of components, a finite, fallible organism, rather than the spiritual identity in its divine variety of aspects. Body, or embodiment, is not organization, but realization.
The diversity of Mind's expression (S&H 507:7-10) or functioning is strikingly described in Paul's instruction to the Corinthians: "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all . . . For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many." (I Corinthians 12:4-6, 12-14.).
That one function is not the other, (S&H 70:12-13.) but that each retains its own identity, is brought out there also: "If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body." (I Corinthians 12:15-20).
That the human evaluation of the functions is arbitrary and unscientific, (S&H 297:24-31) is shown, too. "And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body." (I Corinthians 12:21-25).
There is no authority or justification in Science for tabulating certain of the functions as noble and others as base. Either all the functions, in their true nature, are spiritual and divine, or else none of them are. We must be consistent to earn the name of Scientist. True, the functions as we see them may vary in beauty, usefulness and importance, but the human view is always relative and vacillating. If you were to ask the goldsmith which of the components or ideas of gold was the greatest, he might hit upon its malleability or its luster as paramount, because biased by his craft. The artist might see in its yellowness its sole value and beauty. To the electrician, its "beauty" will lie alone in its conductivity, while the dealer would select heaviness, because of his obvious concern with its weight. The chemist would be appreciative first of its solubility, for it would not be of any use to him except for this property. The metallurgist might tag its ductility its chief asset. Which is all a way of saying that the comparative values of anything (including body) are a matter of viewpoint – a finite or limited viewpoint. Speaking of masculinity and femininity, Mrs. Eddy says they are equal in God's sight, or from the absolute viewpoint, even though human belief might temporarily give one or the other the ascendency now or then ("Man and Woman," article by Mary Baker Eddy). So it is with all things.
Almost from the start, Mrs. Eddy so taught the metaphysics of organs and functions, writing as follows: "Nothing ails lungs, for you know that Science holds man and every formation of man immortal. . . . Organs are ideas that the Soul holds and gives the idea of them in man. Holding them thus, they are never lost nor inharmonious."
We shall not go far wrong if we see that Spirit names (characterizes) and blesses (sustains) everything, diversifying positively in every direction (S&H 507:6-7). This is diversity of expression, not variation of fact. The one full expression of Truth must include all the various facts of being – with these facts dependent not upon each other, but upon the Truth which they represent. We must cease thinking of distinctness as separateness. Then we shall not mistake the infinitude of variety for a lot of things. The elements of the compound, complex reflection, or indivisible body, are not a lot of bounded and inactive units, beginning with Mind and ending as circumscribed entities; they are simply variant aspects of the infinite whole (My 239:17-23).
Analogously, the various "elements" of gold do not refer to nor depend upon each other. The yellowness does not rely upon the hardness, the ductility upon the heaviness, nor the solubility upon the luster. These "identities" are not entities which in the aggregate make up gold. Gold is neither organic in essence nor manifestation. Oneness cannot be structural (S&H 309:30-32).
Christian Science demands that we exchange the organs, as objects of sense, for ideas of Soul (S&H 269:15-16). To do that, we must see them as indicating or representing particular functions in the realm of divine reality. Then each of them must be the one functioner, Principle, functioning divinely in a spiritual capacity and achieving its purpose painlessly, efficiently, joyously, regardless of any interpretation which the finite view would put upon it.
At this point, we must not permit the old claim of mediumship to gain ground, for Principle does not function through something, whether called organ or anything else. Principle, Spirit, constitutes all there is and so it must always function as itself directly, functioning not through idea but as idea. Ideas do not function of themselves; they are the functioning.
The mortal sense of man may be imperfect and misleading, but it is nevertheless spiritual man who is being seen (S&H 258:25-26). So when you look for the truth of being, what you see depends upon how you look for the truth of being, what you see depends upon how you are seeing it! Body is Soul manifest, rather than physique, and a constantly better sense of body is yours as this is increasingly apprehended. As long as you regard body as something apart from Mind, you are going to fear for it, you may be sure. But when you see that the only body would have to be perfectly spiritual and spiritually perfect, all functions will be found harmonious (S&H 384:30-1). Regardless of how complex the functions, that which is functioning is one and infinite, and this divine organ, if you will, must be immune to the ravages of material beliefs and human anxieties. This is establishing the redemptive truth for your present sense of body as you find you are body.
This that appears right now to be body is spiritual body, as you are seeing it, and the recognition of its natural flawlessness, painlessness and infallibility, glorifies body here and now as your very own (Un 46:9-12). The continuously fresh discovery that it is quite different than at first considered, is constantly revitalizing and perfecting body in a most practical way. The evidence resulting from scientific progress along this line must appear to the man in the street as little short of miraculous. It should make straight the malformed, clear the dimmed eye, drape the form in silken splendor and give to the conversation the opalescent shimmer of living inspiration.
Literally, as Paul declares, "There is one body, and one Spirit." (Ephesians 4:4). Individual being is necessarily one Being individualized. This may at first seem a difficult hurdle for the questing thought, but an illustration which is often used – though not at all accurate – may aid us in this. It is said that although there is just one multiplication table in mathematics, each and every one has the unlimited use of it, without in the slightest depriving his fellow beings. All possess the same multiplication table and possess it equally without imposition, hindrance or curtailment. In that sense, body – being mental – would be universal or omni-present as the body of all Being divine. Then it would not be necessary to speak of "my body" or "your body," but simply of "body," in order to appropriate the tangible perfection and harmonious activity of Mind's infinite reflection or embodiment (S&H 302:8-9).
So, while the human being is apt to recoil at the absolute statement that there is only one body, he has but to abandon restrictive habits of thinking and entrenched preconceptions to perceive the universal availability of infinite body, and so to find body to be his own body. Whatever is mental is intrinsically infinite, unrestrictable. Mortal belief, in its imperfect apprehension of the infinity of Being, would divide Mind into minds and body into bodies, posing countless egos having separate bodies. It is as vital to understand that all men have one body as it is to understand that all men have one Mind (S&H 467:9-10). This body must be flawless, whole, harmonious. It can never be sick or in trouble. You are satisfied in the conscious possession of divine body – or rather in the consciousness of God that is yourself-body.
Because a thing is one – body or whatever – is no reason why you cannot have and enjoy it wholly, if you understand it to be mental instead of physical (Pul 4:7-14). As living Principle embodied in expression, you are the happy fulfillment of God's divine intention. This is something to think about. Lean upon it. Use it practically. Avail yourself of the power resident in such priceless precept. Admit that an idea must have a mind, that Mind is the Mind of its own idea and that this Mind is the very Mind of you. Untrammeled Spirit is going on from glory to glory, and this is your own ascension.