February 10, 2000
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
As long term friends of our group know, we're quite given to confrontation against error in institutions and persons, including other members of the group, in our struggle over goals and the provision of safe space for spiritual growth. Some attendees last week approached the topic with trepidation, fearing more of the same. It came as a surprise, then, that participants this week wanted to focus almost entirely on confronting error in — or claiming to be in — ourselves.
Man in Science, of course, needs no confrontation, but for those of us still caught in the myth of ourselves, it is a great help. Mortals are continuously confronted by the divine facts — thus our discomforts — and Mrs. Eddy tells us that the origin of evil "...confronts Christian Science" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 346: 8).
After the readings from Mrs. Eddy's official writings, a member quoted an extract from her unofficial writings in the Blue Book, page 146. She says, "...from any Eden we create in materiality, we shall be banished. The condition we call satisfactory from a material standpoint is a delusion of human sense and from it we must be exiled..." We felt our departure from such Edens would involve suffering as long as we clung to mortal consciousness and merely sought another fix. If however we confront the belief of life called Eden with the facts of being, we have instantaneous access to harmony in our very humanhood.
We discussed the concept of "peace of mind", so valued today, and wondered whether it can usefully be seen as a goal in itself. Two quotes from last week's Lesson on Spirit were read, from Science and Health, as follows:
"Spirit, God, is heard when the senses are silent." (p. 89:20-21)
"To enter into the heart of prayer, the door of the erring senses must be closed. Lips must be mute and materialism silent, that man may have audience with Spirit, the divine Principle, Love, which destroys all error." (p. 15:9)
We concluded that as we most feel our at-one-ment with divinity we are most able to heal, for then we are instruments of God who rests in action (see Science and Health, p. 519: 25). In light of this, we felt pursuing peace of mind per se might be a dereliction of duty; whereas, such peace as an element of healing practice is in fact the peace that passeth understanding.
A member then read us some quotes from the Scriptures of other religions promoting the view that confrontation — often called Holy War — ultimately must be an assiduous, internal practice by individuals. For instance, Mohammed on returning from what he called a lesser jihad or Holy War with others, advised his followers that now they must undertake the greater jihad within their own souls. Also the Hindu Bhagavad Gita, while describing an outer war, constantly keeps its focus on the spiritual truths being uncovered in the process. One of our members also a member of a 12-Step program, remarked that his abstinence depends on his constant confrontation of his erroneous character traits, and prayerful surrender of these to a Higher Power. Our topic on Daily Duties a few weeks ago as well as our readings above make clear the need for moment by moment evaluation of motives and drives by Christian Scientists. One member questioned, "Am I going more and more into matter (e. g., beliefs, dualistic concepts, time, fear, etc.) or into Spirit?"
According to many social commentators (e. g., Carl Jung, Jean Gebser) the development of civilization and personal egos involves conflict, struggle and confrontation as by-products. Splitting of good from evil and the repression of the latter makes way for advances in the sciences and arts, but also for every horror imaginable as the disowned elements — or evils unfaced, unconfronted — erupt. The paradox is that the patriarchal model of "good" overcoming "evil" seems to have advanced us out of the matriarchal one of safety without progress. Can we have both safety and progress? Our textbook provides some keys for work in this area — for instance, Mrs. Eddy's contrasting of the natures of the angels Michael and Gabriel. Of the latter she says, "To infinite, ever-present Love, all is Love, and there is no error, no sin, no sickness, nor death" (Science and Health, p. 567: 7-8). Reflecting God we can help the world along in its adjustment from one-sidedness to wholeness. Mention was made of some cases in the Incoming Tray right now: the peace breakdowns in Northern Ireland and the Middle East; worries about Iraq's weapons program; the future of Gay Straight Alliances in Orange County; the cracker attack on internet sites.
In this era of hotly discussed religion and politics — and much else — we thought it was too bad we have no way of fully, even passionately tossing around a subject, without the inevitable lapse into characterization and vilification. One possible help might be to try to find the most basic values from which the people are arguing. Thus say a Gay Christian Scientist and a Straight Southern Baptist, locked in combat, might be seen as both interested in eternal salvation — which of course they have now — and infinite Love — which they both now reflect — and so forth. This might be an interesting experiment. All the surface shenanigans would be seen as mere dualistic representations of the facts of being, which control.
These healings were reported:
1) A member made quite a breakthrough with his landlady during the week. For years his bathroom has had leaks and faulty pipes which he has tried to get her to fix. She has not done so, but our member has continued to be friendly with her throughout. Recently, neighbors have also started complaining about her services, but he has defended her and recommended they be nice, even friendly, with her. She was in the building one day and seemed quite happy, perhaps not her usual state. He invited her in to see the problem, which she arranged immediately to have repaired. There was one difficult pipe to get to and she initially refused to have it taken care of, because of the expense involved. He persisted with his work in Science and his cordiality with her. She phoned later to say that this pipe too would be repaired.
2) Another member had a healing of what he called paralytic grief over some really bad love affairs several years ago. While they brought up much valuable material about the way he was seeing himself, he had been unable to process any of it in view of his bitterness and depression. Working with the topic helped him see he's got to confront and move along a number of issues absorbing energy from his sense of life and love.
We'll look at Attraction for next week.
Self-ignorance, self-will, self-righteousness, lust, covetousness, envy, revenge, are foes to grace, peace, and progress; they must be met manfully and overcome, or they will uproot all happiness. Be of good cheer; the warfare with one's self is grand; it gives one plenty of employment, and the divine Principle worketh with you, and obedience crowns persistent effort with everlasting victory.