Lecture 5 - Mary Baker Eddy
Eric Butterworth points out that Mary Baker Eddy's great discovery and her contribution to New Thought is that one does not need a practitioner to be healed. She developed the "self-treatment", which was developed further by Emile Coué and others.
This is an example of religious innovation. Nearly all religious movements grow because they provide some sort of religious benefit to those who are not able to benefit from what is presently being offered. The innovation is typically a simplification of the current offerings. In this case, Christian Science took off because Mrs. Eddy was able to eliminate the practitioner.
No wonder that she locked-down the movement and prevented practitioners from inserting themselves back into the process.
Alright, let's be still for just a moment.
One of the great emphases of this teacher we're considering tonight, Mary Baker Eddy, was the idea of divine love as the great healing force. So I would like us now to take a moment to just reflect upon the omni-presence and the omni-action of divine love.
We remember the scriptures say "Behold, I have loved the with an everlasting love." And so we dwell for a moment in this consciousness of that activity of the infinite which is a loving, living force that supports and heals and guides, gives life and fullness to each person. We live in it, we are vitalized by it and we are grateful for it. And this evening may we feel increasingly aware of the flow of truth through the consciousness of love and may we go on our way from this place tonight with an even greater sense of this love activity sustaining us in all of our ways. And we are grateful. Amen.
Alright let's consider the fifth of our series of antecedents of the new insight in truth. It has been our goal in this series to first of all recognize that all ideas that are experienced in the consciousness of man come about as a result of many influences and as we're saying that all ideas have some kind of antecedents. If only from the standpoint that we all live in the infinite mind and we all are experiencing the same mind source and the things that come to us usually are touched off or sparked or spurred on at least by things we've heard or read and by people, teachers and influences that have gone before us.
And I think that certainly all mature teachers or scientists or philosophers recognize this influence. We are tracing the evolution of what we call the new insight in truth. The ideas that many of us have become quite excited about. We look back as objectively as we can to some of the ancient sources in philosophy and Plato and early Greek times and in India and in China and so forth. We've looked back in at least one kind of study of psychology and we've especially emphasized the transcendentalism of Kant as especially articulated through Emerson. Last week, we dealt with the work and the ideas of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby.
Today, we're going to deal with Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science. This is a fascinating story. If it wasn't so charged with emotion and resistance to objective appraisal, it would make a tremendous motion picture or a play. Unfortunately, that is probably not to be because there are some who refuse to allow any kind of objective look at this great teacher.
Certainly, Mrs. Eddy was one of the most controversial figures of the past 100 years in America and I'm willing to grant that she might well have been of the most influential. In the annals of American religion, probably no ones life has been so laid open to criticism, on the other hand so shrouded in defense as that of Mary Baker Eddy. Chiefly because of her insistence on originality and divine revelation for all her ideas. Many works have been done on her life, most of them have been banned by the Christian Science Church, a few were done by the church, painting Mrs. Eddy as a modern saint. The chances are that the true story lies somewhere between the two extremes.
Let's take a brief look at Mary Baker Eddy, the person, because I think we find in the life at least as much of it as know it, we find the reasons for, the motivations for, some of the great ideas that she espoused in which she certainly was a part of giving articulation to. She was born in Bow, New Hampshire, on July 16th, 1821. The Bakers were simple farm people, she grew up in a Congregational Church background which accounts for the Christian orientation of her teachings.
She was an imaginative and over sensitive child, she grew up to be a very frail and highly nervous girl. She was so delicate that she was allowed to remain home and not attend school because the excitement of the school was too much for her and she was allowed to pick up what she could in the way of learning but this was very very difficult because it was prior to the days of radio and television and her farm home was many miles for the nearest cross road. So there wasn't a great deal of learning to be picked up in the early years.
Any analysis and even fair analyses of Mary Baker Eddy reveal that she was chronically neurotic. We say this not critically and this has often been leveled as a criticism but it shouldn't be. Dr Louis Bisch wrote an excellent book some few years ago title Be Glad You're a Neurotic and he shows how all the important people of history, people who have done anything very special out of the general stream of things, have been labeled abnormal or subnormal or neurotic or one of the others. So in this sense, probably many of the outstanding people have been labeled neurotic people.
The years of Mary Baker Eddy's own inner struggle were obviously the blending and baking ovens through which the ultimate outline of truth came as the scriptures say "In the furnace of affliction have I gained strength" (Isa. 48:10). Its probably true that very few great spokesman of truth have been free from some kind of deep suffering or disturbance in their life which has been the motivation for digging deeper. One biographer refers to her 40 wasted years with all of its personal tragedy but how can you call it wasted? It produced ultimate success and meaningfulness. So certainly these were not wasted years.
It was obviously her continued sickness or neurosis or inability to function successfully in society and her great poverty through much of her life that motivated her to seek to find a way out of her challenge and in the findings, she discovered some great truths.
At the age of 22, she married Washington Glover, a young mason. She went with him to South Carolina to start a small contracting business and had probably the only brief period of happiness in much of her life and if the man had lived probably we never would have heard of Mary Baker Eddy or Christian Science. But in 6 months, Glover died of yellow fever and her life continued its pattern of confusion.
She returned to her father's home, she went into a complete retreat from reality, a period of constant fatigue, and irritability and in time she couldn't even get up the stairs without help and it seemed certainly that she was doomed to a life of an invalid. It is quite obvious that her own sickness led her to emphasize healing as the most important thing after she eventually developed her teachings in the field of Christian Science.
For nine long years after the death of Glover, she endured a kind of hysterical paralysis and then in 1852, this remarkable woman gave evidence of the energy that despite her neurosis, she was capable of calling into operation and so she launched on a new life. At 32, she married an itinerant dentist, Dr Daniel Patterson. He was handsome, outgoing, she probably thought that he was the kind who would be able to buoy her up with strength, confidence. He was actually a very weak character. He wasn't strong enough to cope with her problems as well as her own. So the civil war came along and he joined the medical staff in the army and he was captured in an early battle and spent the rest of the war in prison. After the war, he abandoned her.
It was this time that we pick up the story that we touched on last week, when she heard of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby. That man in New England who was doing such fantastic things in healing without medicine. So she wrote some letters, despairing letters, urging, appealing, begging, but his schedule was so busy that he wasn't able to fit her in so it went a long period of time. When finally he did suggest that she could come, she was in an awkward position because she had to travel to Portland, Maine, she was penniless and so it seemed that it was impossible.
But she worked up a passion to see Quimby. Somehow she felt that in her mind he was the only man in the world who could save her, who could cure her. So she saved her money, she begged, she borrowed and in October 1862, she made the trip. She was half carried up the long stairway under the waiting room above and within one week of treatments with Dr Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, Mary Baker Eddy was cured. She who had been given up despairingly by the doctors was very soon climbing the 182 steps to the dome of the city hall every day without assistance.
She was obviously enraptured with Quimby and there is, certainly a matter of public record, published in the Portland Courier, an enthusiastic account of her cure at the end of which she says, and we'll just quote it in part.
"But now I can see dimly at first the great principle which underlies Dr Quimby's faith and works and just in proportion to my right perception of truth is my discovery. The truth which he opposes to the error of giving intelligence to matter and placing pain where it never placed itself. If received understandingly changes the currents of the system to their normal action and the mechanism of the body goes on undisturbed."
Actually, Mary Baker Eddy publicly and in writing defended Quimby against the charges that he employed animal magnetism which was called mesmerism and these incidentally were charges that she made of him herself in later years. She insisted that his ideas were a science and we quote "the result of superior wisdom which can demonstrate a science not understood." In time, she became a virtual secretary to Quimby, an active assistant. She said that her only aim was to spread his teachings.
But unfortunately almost following the pattern of the great problems that seemed to harass this woman, he died in January 1866. So she returned to Concord, physically a cured woman, somewhat let down because of the void in her life and to make matters worse, within a month she slipped on the ice, injured her spine, probably had a spinal fracture and she felt terribly alone without Quimby, her teacher, to turn to. And this was a very important time. I think it was at that time she made the great discovery. The discovery that led to enthusiasm for truth, her confidence as a teacher and as a healer and to the development of Christian Science. And the discovery, I think is somewhat muddied by the charges and counter charges relative to a divine revelation and the question of originality and so forth which are somewhat irrelevant.
I think the great discovery was that which led to self healing, the discovery that she could use the mental health cure that she had been experiencing with Quimby without recourse to a second person. Quimby's patients were healed through his powerful suggestion, the person was influenced by Quimby's suggestion to deny the validity of disease and to build up a mental image of health. But the patient had to be with him and they made headway only as they returned for repeated treatments. He did a great work and obviously had a great following.
But it is probably true that Mrs. Eddy was the first to realize that she could employ this art of what probably at least critically be referred to auto suggestion, conscious auto suggestion or self treatment. She learned how to apply the method to herself and to her own problems without recourse to any other person. This led to a lot of further thinking on her own and the development of these ideas in an entirely different dimension. But I believe that this alone was a psychological discovery of such magnitude that if this were all that science and health taught, it would still be a great discovery.
Many years later, Emile Coué, who we referred to several weeks ago, the French psychologist who developed the idea of curing people by auto suggestion, seemed to be evidenced by Mary Baker Eddy.
Anyway, this was a turning point and the story unfolds a gradual development of writings in the organization of Christian Science most of which is not really relevant to our consideration here and much of which is greatly controversial. But again we can refer to the fact that they chief controversy arose because, she and I would personally feel unwisely, insisted that her science was a complete revelation. Now I say unwisely basically because if anyone stands up before the world and says that I'm the first and only one that's ever said this before, you're going to find a thousand and one people who are going to say "oh yeah?" and to analyze it from every side, every shape and form and that's exactly the kind of analysis to which Mary Baker Eddy was and still is subjected.
There is little question that she was strongly influenced by Quimby, not only from the records that are available but even from reading her writings themselves. The manuscript of his questions and answers was carried on her person for years and in the publication of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the chapter Recapitulation which has always been a basic text for the teaching is a duplication of the style and reflects much of the concept and consciousness of Quimby's questions and answers.
Now this is not said in criticism of Mrs. Eddy, you see, but its said in the fact that much of the controversy about Mrs. Eddy has been fomented, and I say unwisely because of the insistence that this is her teaching, her science, everything began completely with her by direct revelation.
After finding her own self cure and the discovery of how to help herself, Mrs. Eddy had a great sense of mission. She was alone and penniless, she undertook to write a book. I don't know whether you can imagine what a tremendous task this would be basically because this was a woman without formal education, without any sense of literary creativity, totally unprepared for writing and so she labored over this for years. The manuscript as it unfolded was unbelievably clumsy and inarticulate but it was her attempt to completely synthesize all the experiences and the ideas of life to that moment.
I feel quite confident myself that in her insistence on originality that she was quite sincere. Because I think that one often believes that when he pulls everything together in consciousness that what he brings, what comes about, is the result of his originality.
So many studies have been made to show as it has been with all persons and could be I'm sure with any teacher, to show obvious indebtedness to many individuals. For instance, one would have been Swedenborg, I have personally looked through and analyzed the relationships between some of Swedenborg's work relative to the metaphysical interpretation of biblical ideas and idioms and so forth and read carefully Mary Baker Eddy's glossary in the back sections of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures and there's an obvious reflection of the influence of Swedenborg. I mean some of the statements are exactly the same, some of them simply touch upon some of the same ideas much in the same way as Charles Fillmore's Metaphysical [Bible] Dictionary reflects many many, a multitude of sources of information from East and West and the influence is there.
But the important thing, and this is a thing that has always been strongly helpful to me, is that Emerson's idea suggesting that thought is the property of the person who can entertain it and of the person who can adequately place it. He says "a certain awkwardness marks the use of borrowed thoughts and as soon as we have learned what to do with them, they become our own, thus all originality is relative."
Now in the very beginning of our study we referred to a simple little poem that talked about the idea of the "new" of New Thought, what is new? We stressed the idea that it was a pooling together of all sorts of influences coming together in a synthesis in terms of a new form and but the newness is the fact that someone has put all the pieces together for the first time. You see this would be like saying that when Thomas Edison developed a technique or a process for the electric light or for the phonograph or whatever that he was the first one in all the ages that have ever even entertained such a thought which isn't true at all.
I mean there are antecedents behind all discoveries but the discoverer is the one who puts them together possibly for the first time and makes them work you see. So in that sense there is an originality but the originality is relative because as Emerson says its the consciousness of the person who has the ability to entertain the thought, to use the ideas that are available. So obviously there are many antecedents, we can trace for instance in Mrs. Eddy not only influences of Quimby and there are so many in Swedenborg and Hegel, the Vedanta school of the east and many of them who are strong influences that you find throughout Mrs. Eddy's writings.
But again, I say this is really irrelevant. Its only made relevant because of this insistence on originality. But she insisted on staking her whole philosophy on the basis that it was a divine revelation.
I believe and again, I say this without any negative judgement at all, I say this was an evidence of this continued neuroticism that was a part of the consciousness of Mary Baker Eddy. She went from place to place teaching an occasional pupil, reading from her evolving manuscript, healing without benefit of medicine and finally conducting classes in the principles underlying the healings. But we can see through all of her life and up to the end her neurotic fear of being harmed by malpractice or as she referred to it malicious animal magnetism, MAM, and this was built-in to the philosophy that she unfolded.
The interesting thing is when we understand the great ideas that this woman taught, great ideas, fantastic ideas, some of the greatest that have been expressed certainly in this whole new thought field, when we look at these ideas, the beautiful ideas, the tremendous ideas, one can hardly wonder how this paradox could take place. How these fears should be so lodged in the consciousness of this woman, but MAM, malicious animal magnetism, became and continues to be the devil that is built into the teaching of Christian Science.
Now she had continuous conflicts with associates, one young man, a Richard Kennedy, handled her finances and was also a success as a healer. She grew tremendously jealous of his success and accused him of transferring to her the illnesses of the patients that he healed.
Another one, Samuel Spofford spent twelve months trying to reduce the time incomprehensible manuscript of Science and Health to some order. This was the first editing and it led to the publication in 1877 but at that time it was still a very confused hodge podge, a document that was very difficult to read. Spofford also introduced her to Gilbert Asa Eddy, who was a sewing machine agent, and they were married in 1877. But again continuing this pattern that seemed to plague her of tragedy, he died of a heart disease after 5 years and Mrs. Eddy insisted that he died of mesmeric poisoning. So this fear of mesmerism surrounded her always. Then Spofford was disposed of because he became too popular and the charges made against him that he robbed her of health so he could pass it on to the sick. Her hatred of Spofford was so great that she went to law accusing him of witchcraft. She lost the case but Spofford was expelled from the Christian Science Association.James Henry Wiggin, who did probably the most scholarly work in putting the works of Mrs. Eddy into some kind of intelligible English. He wrote later that of all the dissertations that he had seen, nobody had ever seen a treatise to surpass this in misspelling, punctuation, contradictions, misused references and so forth. So he said he actually had to go back back rewrite the whole thing. Now this again is not in any way to degrade the work that was involved in this but it simply is evidence of the fact that at the revelation that came through Mrs. Eddy certainly had to go through a great deal of refinement before it was intelligible.
In 1881, a small group was organized in Lynn, Massachusetts of which she was the minister and very soon the group moved into Boston and the foundations of the Christian Science organization were laid. That year the Massachusetts Metaphysical College was charted and in the 1883, the Christian Science Journal was launched. This is a fantastically successful story from here and it is probably made successful because of the tremendous absolute rule over which the organization that she held and the built-in authority that became so much a part of Christian Science.
In the beginning, students went out on their own and she had no control over them. She simply taught and she taught many many students. So in 1889, when she found that many of the students were going out and teaching things that were not exactly in accord with her ideas, she dissolved both the Metaphysical Institute and her Boston church and created the Mother Church which had a self perpetuating board and she had the authority of getting the resignation of anyone of them at any time.
The terms of the deed gave her heirs the right to recover the property at any time and so it was actually her church by law. She, herself, passed the law prohibiting individual sermons in her churches and she ordained the Bible and Science and Health to be the pastor of the Mother Church and therefore the same lesson sermon prepared and read in the Mother Church each Sunday, even today is read by all the other branches.
This seemed to be the result of several things. It was the result first of all of the fear that someone was going to tamper with or alter or change the ideas that had so strongly influenced her.
But also in its favor and accounting for a great deal of the clear line of pure success that has been experienced by Christian Science, it established a kind of absolute approach to truth which obviously has good points and bad points. The good point is that if people are continually conditioned with absolutes then there will be very little deviation and the person constantly conditioned with these ideas over and over and over again and this can play a very prominent part in the developing consciousness of individuals. The bad part is of course is that leaves no room for any kind of creative exploration of the ideas and this was carried out simply by the fact that all Christian Science lectures had to be screened and approved by the Board of Trustees and there was a complete authoritarian control. Mrs. Eddy's revelation was always treated and it is continually today as final truth.
However now having said all that, let me back up a little bit and reiterate again as I have said that I believe Mary Baker Eddy was one of the great teachers of truth. One of the greats in the unfolding stream of truth. I cannot acknowledge her as the source of truth as perhaps Mrs. Eddy herself would have wanted to be acknowledged, but I see her as a great teacher and her ideas certainly have been greatly influential certainly among the greatest of all this unfolding stream of truth.
The problems involved in dealing with Mrs. Eddy's truth is that there is much of it that is extremely helpful, much of it that obviously has influenced the ideas and the thinking of many other teachers but is very difficult to deal with it simply because truth that has been allowed to move into a stagnant pool aside from the moving stream of truth in a sense ceases to be truth because truth is an unfolding process. Truth is a continuous releasement of the divine process within man. As long as it is treated in a crystallized sense then of course its very difficult to see the real positive value in it. However, there is so much that is good in Mrs. Eddy.
The basic propositions of her science,
- God is all in all,
- God is good,
- God is Mind,
- God's spirit being all, matter is no thing,
- Life, God omnipotent good denied death evil and disease, and
- Disease, sin and evil and death deny good, omnipotent God life.
The whole system is based on these self-evident propositions. Only God is real and God is all, the totality of all things, whatever is is God. And the divine characteristics of God are omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience. Mrs. Eddy made a great deal of the unreality of error, of sickness and of as being the effects of illusion of the mortal mind. Of course, this is a very important realization.
But we can see that in many ways she was constantly trying through analyzing herself to find her way out of her own neurosis, to see out of her own confusion. Christian Science then has at its strong point, the fact that it is a personal system of healing, depicting the battle by means of which she climbed to the healing of her own experience. And in that sense its a remarkable outline of ideas. She says
"Sin, sickness and death are comprised in human material, belief and do not belong to a divine mind. They're without a real origin or existence, they have neither principle or permanence but they belong with all that is material and temporal to the the nothingness of error which simulates the creation of truth."
Now Mrs. Eddy here seems to parallel the writings of the ancient Vedanta group of India. The idea that there is but one reality, one life, one substance, that of the absolute or God. Both hold that the material universe is illusory and that all things exist only as ideas in the mind of the One. The Vedantast's claim that the appearance of the phenomenal world with its succession of changes and its plurality of souls is due to Maya, illusion, arising from avigna, ignorance, which binds the individual until the scales drop from his eyes and sees the truth of Oneness.
So Mrs. Eddy places the focus of all man's experience in what she calls mortal mind. Explains all the limitations of life, all the bodily conditions. I don't think Mrs. Eddy ever completely gives a clear explanation of how mortal mind and its belief in matter come into being but she makes it very clear that she will have none it then she certainly makes the strong suggestions that everyone should try to erase the emphases of mortal mind.
Mortal mind is the source of all error, the most dangerous form of mortal mind again is malicious animal magnetism, which is akin to hypnotism, mesmerism, general evil, mental malpractice and again this is this hang up of Mrs. Eddy that keeps cropping up. Its a kind of neurotic paranoia that is built in as one little facet like a little sand burr under the saddle that is forever being exposed in the teaching.
And I say personally that its a pity, that Christian Science has not long since discarded this little bit of nonsense. I would say personally for my own sake that I have had a great deal of delight in reading Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. I've probably read it as much as any other metaphysical source however unlike that which is insisted on by Christian Scientists because I'm not a Christian Scientist, though I guess I've gotten a hold of the little book of Christian Science somehow. I reserve the right and the freedom to read as I want to read and so there is so much in this that is good, that's excellent truth.
If one can readily discern the areas where this confusion seems to crop up and just eliminate it and have nothing to do with it. As I always say, take the best and leave the rest and there is so much that's best in it, so much that's best. Its my feeling that if some sort of a up-to-date editing could be done, which of course wouldn't be done under the present system of Christian Science, that this could be certainly one of the great sources, probably the greatest source of metaphysics today, but again that's more or less of a commentary.
According to Mrs. Eddy, mortal existence is only a dream, and has no reality. God who is all is being and is, and mortal man is a reflection of being but not identical with it. Mortal finite man exists as error but is not. He has mortal erroneous existence but not being. Now according to Mrs. Eddy, both matter and mortal mind are strata of man's human belief. The mortal body is but one's mortal erroneous belief and matter itself is only error.
Since matter has no sensation, man has a body without feeling. The five senses are only the beliefs of man's mortal mind affirming that he is a material rather than spiritual. So it follows that pain, too, is only the product of mortal mind and its belief in pain. Of course, this leaves the student in a rather precarious position, at least it creates some problems, because he must deny his pain, his physical challenges and refuse to do anything about them because they are error, they are illusion. So any attempt to do anything about them in a physical sense is denying the validity of Christian Science.
Therefore, its to open himself to a great deal of criticism. This creates problems because the person quite often attempts to go all the way with this absolute concept even though he himself is experiencing the evidences of a relative consciousness and thereby to place his life in jeopardy at times or on the other hand he may be tempted to, and sometimes gives in to the temptation, to take some form of physical help in his condition and then he labors under the tremendous sense of guilt. And many students of truth in and out of Christian Science have fought with that particular dilemma.
I think it is at this point that the teaching Christian Science does a disservice to much that is vital in the concept and conscious of Mary Baker Eddy. Mrs. Eddy had experienced so much frustration to the inability of doctors of her day to help and I'm sure there was good reason for this, I'm sure that she was justified in many of her attitudes because medicine didn't have too much to offer in those days and she became highly resistant to the whole field of medicine as we mentioned last week Quimby did to the whole field of materia medica.
She has made it then, built into the system, a matter of conflict with people who might otherwise be able to save a situation by such a simple matter of setting a bone or applying a tourniquet or the use of penicillin or antibiotics to prevent a spread of infection. Actually she says that hygiene is worse than worthless, he who knows no hygienic laws is more receptive to spiritual power.
Now of course this can be taken in many ways and in its absolute sense, I think she's absolutely correct. See that's the problem of the Christian Science concept, Mrs. Eddy in her writing and her teaching dealt with absolutes, no relative at all, absolute totally. I doubt if she herself was up to the absolutes as perhaps no one is in this particular experience but the absolute was the level of teaching. And I think in that sense it becomes a tremendous influence to the student.
But I think it sometimes eliminates that hand holds because all of us live and move and have our being not only in God, in an absolute sense, but in a world of three dimensions and a relative sense. Often our relative experience, we have difficulties and challenges and we're not at the moment equipped to jump right into the absolute to solve them, you see, and so often the person is left dangling.
This thought that hygiene is worse than worthless is basic truth but it can lead to an awful lot of misunderstanding because in a relative sense, it sounds almost as if she is saying you needn't wash your hands or keep clean because its ridiculous to you to follow any kind of hygiene, you see. That isn't what she meant but of course you leave yourself exposed to that type of analysis.
But to get to the heart and root of Mrs. Eddy's teaching I think we should read the Statement of Being which is a very dynamic and very beautiful absolute statement of truth. It can be questioned on a relative level too. She says
"there is no life, truth, intelligence nor substance in matter. All in infinite mind and its in infinite manifestation for God is all and all, spirit is immortal truth, matter is mortal error, spirit is the real and eternal, matter is unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, man is his image and likeness, therefore man is not material, he is spiritual."
That's a very beautiful statement of absolute truth. Charles Fillmore in his concept and obviously influenced a great deal by the ideas that flowed through Mrs. Eddy and through some of the others that were influenced by Quimby and some of those who left Mrs. Eddy and so forth. Charles Fillmore made a statement that seems absolutely contradictory to Mrs. Eddy's where she says there is no life, truth, intelligence nor substance in matter, he says "there is no absence of life, substance or intelligence anywhere" [Charles Fillmore may have said this, but the quote is from Emily Cady's Lessons in Truth, Chapter 4 Denials].
And yet the interesting thing is, they're really saying the same thing. You see, depending upon whether we are dealing strictly with the absolute or whether we're beginning at the level of consciousness where we can begin to evolve into an absolute awareness. To know that there's no lack of life or substance or intelligence anywhere. But Fillmore seemed to desire to provide a progressive course in growth to the absolute.
Mrs. Eddy says "disease and sickness are false perceptions and beliefs. They have no existence whatever." Now this of course does not even acknowledge that they exist which can lead to some rather tragic situations. It makes it very awkward for a person who is committed to the concepts of Christian Science, this very absolute approach. To be seen with a runny nose of course is terrible, you see. It isn't there, it doesn't exist. You know, its unreal, its immaterial, its mortal and therefore I'm spiritual and it does not exist.
Well, the problem is that I believe at least, and this is pretty much my personal consciousness, that disease and sickness very much exist but are not permanent. In other words, there is no disease, no limitation, no sin in divine mind, in the absolute. Just like saying there are no wrong answers in the principle. The principle of mathematics certainly has no room for the answer 3 + 3 = 12. I mean, it doesn't exist, it isn't in the principle. But it exists very much on the paper of a child who's trying to pass a mathematics course and he must face up with the fact that he's getting the wrong answer and find out how to get the right answer by knowing the principle, you see. So her point is valid and is very well taken but quite often it does not leave the hand hold to the person who's trying to rise out of the 3 + 3 = 12 consciousness.
I believe sickness and disease exist, they're not permanent, they're changing mental conditions and they will come to pass. So then we can deal with them in self honesty and begin to take the progressive steps that at the moment reflect the level of consciousness where we are and help to lift us to a higher state of consciousness. Until we can come to the realization that absolute realization that there is no reality in sickness whatever you see and demonstrate it.
So that this is a great deal of the confusion that has come about through Mary Baker Eddy's absolute teaching. However again this absolute approach to metaphysics is very valuable and she was not the first and will probably not be the last who has dealt with the absolute. It creates problems for the teacher and for the student.
I know I knew a teacher who I must say was a Unity teacher many years ago who had this same absolute approach to all kinds of truth and metaphysics. It was just absolutely black and white, it was dadadada. That's all there is to it, there's no question, no equivocating. Unfortunately I was very new in the work at that time and I was called to go to her particular center and to come to the aid of a great problem because the woman herself had fallen ill with cancer. It was a very sad thing, this is a sad condition with anyone but it was a terribly tragic condition for this woman and to all of her people because she was still living in this absolute consciousness, therefore refused to face up to it, refused to go to a doctor, refused to have any treatment, she would pass out after she left the platform every night. Someone would have to carry her back and eventually when she went to the hospital and within a matter of days passed away, left these people just absolutely dejected because this absolute thing which she held to, you see, seemingly was suddenly rendered invalid, which it wasn't at all you see. But as a teacher, I believe she failed the students because while she was trying to live in an absolute consciousness, she did not provide the hand holds for the people to make progressive growth into that realization, you see.
Now there is probably some of that in the life of Mrs. Eddy, I'm not prepared to make that kind of a judgement. I think this remarkable woman had such a determination to rise out of the mortal experience that had been so difficult for her, to get into this absolute consciousness that she just would not allow her consciousness, her thought, to entertain anything else and this created problems for her, for people around her, and it was kind of built in as I say into much of the teaching of Christian Science. But she was one of the giants of new thought certainly, played a great influence in the new insight in truth.
One of her great ideas, one that I find very helpful, one that is probably most oft quoted of Mrs. Eddy, she says
"Stand porter at the door of thought, admitting only such conclusions as you with realized in bodily results. You will control yourself harmoniously. When the condition is present, which you say induces disease, whether it be air, exercise, heredity, contagion or accident, then perform your office as porter and shut out these unhealthy thoughts and fears. Exclude from mortal mind the offending errors and the body can not suffer from them. The issues of pain or pleasure must come through mind and like a watchman forsaking his post, we admit the intruding belief forgetting that through divine health, we can forbid this entrance."
I find this to be an extremely positive and very helpful ideal. I also find myself wondering that with this concept, how could there possibly be any fear of malicious animal magnetism. But again that's just one man's question from the outside.
Many of the students of Mrs. Eddy eventually dropped away or were expelled and so there were several forces that played upon the unfolding stream of new thought.
As we mentioned last week, many of the students of Mesmer, notably Julius Dresser and Warren F Evans, tried to continue the work of Quimby and in a sense were motivated to do so because of what they felt to be the negative position of Mrs. Eddy because they felt that she was being terribly disrespectful to Quimby when she turned her back on Quimby and called him a mesmerist and said that she had nothing to do with him. So they seem to be more strongly motivated than ever to carry on this consciousness.
So the mental science idea that Quimby engendered certainly was carried forth and many teachers have come out of this stream, out of the Dresser, Evans stream that comes down to some of the mental cure people today and much in perhaps in Religious Science and some of the other modern teachings that certainly greater the deal of the influences as come into Unity also.
There were other influences, there were students who were very closely associated with Mrs. Eddy and who were greatly influenced by the absolutes which she emphasized, these great truths which were so vital and so beautiful, but who could not tolerate the authoritarian control and the lack of freedom of creative expression on the part of individual teachers.
Notable among these was one Emma Curtis Hopkins. Emma Curtis Hopkins is in her own right a giant in this movement and with it we had time to spend an hour with her. She left Mrs. Eddy and went to Chicago and established the Illinois Metaphysical College [Eric is probably mistaken. Her school was named Christian Science Theological Seminary] and there are a number of works by Emma Curtis Hopkins and all of them are in the absolute, all of them very beautiful, much of them reflect the kind of sense of Mrs. Eddy but they're free from a lot of this fear that is built into it.
As we will touch on a few weeks hence when we deal with the Fillmores, that it was a teacher out of the Illinois Metaphysical College of Emma Curtis Hopkins who was lecturing in Kansas City in the late 1880s who had in his audience one night a Charles and Myrtle Fillmore and this is where they first got turned on by the whole concept and consciousness of this.
We also have the evidence in a more contemporary times of persons who have broken away from Christian Science for the same reason that perhaps notable of which is Joel Goldsmith. Joel Goldsmith probably has been as widely read as anyone in recent years in this whole field and certainly has been a great help and influence to many persons with his beautiful absolute insights.
Joel Goldsmith was a Christian Science practitioner and a very loyal one who began to develop the concepts that he shared later in his infinite way and succeeding works and he knew that he couldn't publish as long as he was in Christian Science so he held off doing so for a long time but finally he decided that he had to do it and so he published his book and resigned from the church and went out on his own. This is nothing against Christian Science as a movement or Christian Science as a religion or Mary Baker Eddy, its simply the fact that there are certain built in authoritarianism and resistances that have made it very difficult for a creative mind to continue. Joel Goldsmith I think would probably be one of the first to attest to the idea that Mary Baker Eddy was certainly a giant in the unfolding New Thought stream.
I think that's about as far as we need to go. I do want to reiterate again that we have tried to be as objective as possible and the only reason we've gone into much of the personal history of Mrs. Eddy is not that it paints a dark picture in her life but I think that it shows much of the furnace of affliction out of which great truths came and there's a lot of great truths in Mrs. Eddy's writing and teaching, a lot of them and this is a truly remarkable woman. As I say one of the most controversial women of the last 100 years and probably one of the most influential.
One of our gals this afternoon, who is an actress of many many years experience, she says that she was just confiding with me afterwards because I had mentioned that the story of Mary Baker Eddy would make a marvelous play or motion picture scenario. She said that some years ago, there was a play that got almost to Broadway depicting the life of Mary Baker Eddy and Helen Hayes was going to play Mrs. Eddy and this particular woman who I won't mention was going to play Emma Curtis Hopkins. But because of the objection and legal opposition of the Christian Science church, they were not able to pull it off.
I think its a great story and I think its unfortunate, I think more people should know about this woman. Because I don't think in the end that it would be held up to any kind of criticism, I think that one can not help but come away, I've read many different works of stories, some of them obvious destructive in their intent and some of them obvious building her up as a saint in their intent, but through it all, I've come away with the feeling that this is a tremendous woman. A really dynamic woman obviously who had problems but then who doesn't. But who was certainly instrumental in unfolding some of the really great fundamental principles that we think of today as a new insight in truth. So that's Mary Baker Eddy.
Alright, Let's take a moment now to just bless and consecrate our gifts of love for this evening. And I would like us to emphasize again this beautiful idea of divine love. I think that if Mary Baker Eddy articulated any one thought or feeling which assumed the shape of a spiritual principle, it was this great idea of divine love. Divine love as a healing force, divine love as the great influence in the life of every person. We like to think of divine love as a prospering influence.
Get the feeling that letting this flow of divine love come into and through your life is a means by which all your affairs, all your motivations, all your acts, all your work, all your use of substance can be transformed into a completely new positive vibration. And so we take the realization divine love flowing through me blesses and increases all that I give and all that I receive. So we affirm that together.
Divine love flowing through me blesses and increases all that I give and all that I receive.
And get the feeling that the act of giving itself is basically symbolic, that it opens the way to a flow of love and substance within you that moves forward in a beautiful, powerful way into your life as a continuing influence in your work, in your relationships with people, in every department of your life.
Now Let's go on our way this evening. Once again, paying tribute as it were to the greatness of Mary Baker Eddy as we reflect for a moment on the concept and the consciousness of divine love as an enveloping protecting force that surrounds us and enfolds us wherever we go. Divine love is the one power in your life, the one influence, the one direction, the one guide, the one protection. Through divine love you will be successful in all that you do. You will relate easily to people, you will be free from limiting beliefs, attitudes and actions and you will live as someone has referred to it as under the charmed circle of God's love. Walk in his consciousness of divine love and be free. And so be it.