June 7, 2001
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.
The group continues to recover from the personal attack made by a member on the evening's chairperson two weeks ago (see notes on [#topic=20010524#] and [#topic=20010531#]). The person who chaired reappeared this week to participate fully in proceedings while the member who attacked continues to recover quietly at home, assisted by phone calls from other members.
We started the meeting by reviewing the definition of Heaven from the "Glossary"of Science and Health, focusing on "the atmosphere of Soul."Why this synonym for God and not perhaps Mind or Love? We could hardly say for sure, but found some hints in two statements from Science and Health which emphasize the utter perfection of Heaven and its link to man. They are, "Soul or Spirit signifies Deity and nothing else,"(p. 466:20) and, "Man is the expression of Soul."(p. 477:26)
We then quickly moved through some beliefs and images commonly entertained about Heaven. Judeo-Christian thought projects it unto an afterlife experience, although modern educated Christianity approximates Buddhist and Hindu thinking which holds Heaven to be the presence of God, or perfection and bliss. Isn't this very close to what Mrs. Eddy discerned?
Ancient Egyptian expectations of a glorified human life after death do not seem that far from those of Islam which aspire to a totally happy human existence in the gardens or mansions of eternity.
We were charmed by these seemingly primitive images but tended to discount them from our sophisticated Western perspective. Fortunately sophistication fell before Science which showed us the kernel of Truth hidden here. And it's no less than the integration of Heaven and earth once the dualism of the old man is put off in favor of oneness. Two statements by Margaret Laird soon surfaced:
1) The Christian Scientist who is being Science (rather than just thinking about it or using it to achieve a result) will be in Heaven, also known as earth.
2) Let the seeming be the being and by being, let the being be the seeming.
The basis for these statements rests on Science and Health, page 572: 23-12, as shown in our readings.
Next came some healing experiences.
1) One member before coming back to Christian Science through our group had been troubled by thoughts that it might be time to "check out". After all she had had a full life and "done it all"and now found herself with greatly reduced activity and prospects. As she has taken up the study of Science again these morbid thoughts have faded in the light of joy and spiritually based well being. She has the tools at hand to counteract whatever mortal mind tries to pull. Heaven is just a prayer away.
2) The member who was driven from the meeting two weeks ago quietly regrouped at home for a few days and then talked to a Christian Science practitioner about his bruised thought. The practitioner worked with him to see that a divine idea cannot think but is the thinking or cogitation of God, divine Mind. This understanding cleared away the bad feelings.
3) Another member took some Christian Science periodicals on vacation with him. As he read through the testimonies of healing he became interested in just how the healings were effected and worked with the quotes included in the testimonies from the Bible and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy. He looked up alternative truths and worked with these, arriving eventually at a state of thought that could see through the belief of evil to the allness of good.
We turned to the the first and second chapters of Genesis. One is the spiritual vision of Heaven-earth, the other the material. Before the so-called "Fall", Eden would have seemed like Heaven, but since it was created and run by a dualistic Lord God, who embodied both good and evil, trouble was assured. In such circumstances the serpent was an angel entertained unawares, doing its work to bring the whole sham down. Interestingly, we found some of Mrs. Eddy's insights into Revelation helpful in showing the transformation of the human concept of Heaven into something approaching true Heaven. See our readings Science and Health, p. 574 and Miscellaneous Writings, p. 287, where lost Eden is restored!
We then referred to the 20th anniversary of AIDS. A member had reviewed his 1981 diary to see where his thought was at the time. He was surprised how naive and instinct-driven he was, going through 2 or 3 tricks a week. "I was a serial polygamist."He did hope for love and never bought into no-feelings-please sex between clones. He now sees himself as having been virtually delusional, living in a kind of Genesis-II heaven, particularly in view of what followed: the death of so many friends, the end of easy sex, and the overall threat to world health. "I can certainly see the suffering of all this, but where is the Science?"
He himself then brought up a healing from 1985. A friend of several of us was called to Bellevue Hospital to comfort an AIDS patient in the last stages. The patient had been raised in Science. It was communion Sunday and they read the lesson together. At the end, the patient wanted to kneel on the floor, so several nurses were summoned to help him down. Three days later he walked out of the hospital and at last report was doing fine.
Another member who is involved in a long term relationship, which he pointed out is the ideal held before our gaze today just as recreational sex was 20 years ago, felt we should look at "Spiritual Wedlock"(see the marginal note at the bottom of page 574 of Science and Health) to get some sense of the divine energies underpinning all the searching and yearning for togetherness. The paragraphs associated with this heading and the one above it form a wonderful treatment not only for togetherness but also for the belief in AIDS.
So, our topic for next week is Spiritual Wedlock.
If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
HEAVEN. Harmony; the reign of Spirit; government by divine Principle; spirituality; bliss; the atmosphere of Soul.
Through discernment of the spiritual opposite of materiality, even the way through Christ, Truth, man will reopen with the key of divine Science the gates of Paradise which human beliefs have closed, and will find himself unfallen, upright, pure, and free, not needing to consult almanacs for the probabilities either of his life or of the weather, not needing to study brainology to learn how much of a man he is.
The Revelator had not yet passed the transitional stage in human experience called death, but he already saw a new heaven and a new earth. Through what sense came this vision to St. John? Not through the material visual organs for seeing, for optics are inadequate to take in so wonderful a scene. Were this new heaven and new earth terrestrial or celestial, material or spiritual? They could not be the former, for the human sense of space is unable to grasp such a view. The Revelator was on our plane of existence, while yet beholding what the eye cannot see, — that which is invisible to the uninspired thought. This testimony of Holy Writ sustains the fact in Science, that the heavens and earth to one human consciousness, that consciousness which God bestows, are spiritual, while to another, the unillumined human mind, the vision is material. This shows unmistakably that what the human mind terms matter and spirit indicates states and stages of consciousness.
And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.
This ministry of Truth, this message from divine Love, carried John away in spirit. It exalted him till he became conscious of the spiritual facts of being and the "New Jerusalem, coming down from God, out of heaven," — the spiritual outpouring of bliss and glory, which he describes as the city which "lieth foursquare." The beauty of this text is, that the sum total of human misery, represented by the seven angelic vials full of seven plagues, has full compensation in the law of Love. Note this, — that the very message, or swift-winged thought, which poured forth hatred and torment, brought also the experience which at last lifted the seer to behold the great city, the four equal sides of which were heaven-bestowed and heaven-bestowing.
Think of this, dear reader, for it will lift the sackcloth from your eyes, and you will behold the soft-winged dove descending upon you. The very circumstance, which your suffering sense deems wrathful and afflictive, Love can make an angel entertained unawares. Then thought gently whispers: "Come hither! Arise from your false consciousness into the true sense of Love, and behold the Lamb's wife, — Love wedded to its own spiritual idea." Then cometh the marriage feast, for this revelation will destroy forever the physical plagues imposed by material sense.
My sense of the beauty of the universe is, that beauty typifies holiness, and is something to be desired. Earth is more spiritually beautiful to my gaze now than when it was more earthly to the eyes of Eve. The pleasant sensations of human belief, of form and color, must be spiritualized, until we gain the glorified sense of substance as in the new heaven and earth, the harmony of body and Mind.
To an ill-attuned ear, discord is harmony; so personal sense, discerning not the legitimate affection of Soul, may place love on a false basis and thereby lose it. Science corrects this error with the truth of Love, and restores lost Eden. Soul is the infinite source of bliss: only high and holy joy can satisfy immortal cravings.
Jesus came to earth; but the Christ (that is, the divine idea of the divine Principle which made heaven and earth) was never absent from the earth and heaven; hence the phraseology of Jesus, who spoke of the Christ as one who came down from heaven, yet as "the Son of man which is in heaven." (John iii. 13.) By this we understand Christ to be the divine idea brought to the flesh in the son of Mary.
Salvation is as eternal as God. To mortal thought Jesus appeared as a child, and grew to manhood, to suffer before Pilate and on Calvary, because he could reach and teach mankind only through this conformity to mortal conditions; but Soul never saw the Saviour come and go, because the divine idea is always present.