Principle and Envy

November 7, 2002

Science rests on Principle and demonstration. The Principle of Christian Science is divine. Its rule is, that man shall utilize the divine power.

Miscellaneous Writings, by Mary Baker Eddy

Church fathers (Evagrios and Aquinas) associated envy with sadness — seeing men as torn between charity and grief over another's good. They also discerned in it a tendency to yearn for a time or place other than the here and now.

People sometimes confuse envy and jealousy. The readings from Genesis and John show both. Envy concerns another's power, possessions or position while jealousy is brought on by threats from a rival to one's relationship with another.

A member said he felt both envy and jealousy involve a disconnection from God and community. Another member pointed out that psychologists look on both as constructive components of childhood development as long as they are not quashed prematurely and thus frozen, but are allowed to have their transitory sway.

This comment provided a key for our evaluation of envy and jealousy in Christian Science. They both represent desire and thus prayer. "They can be treated as the small ego's way of reaching out for and surrendering to a Higher Power." Our synonym for the week is the perfect one for this operation: the perfect Principle of all being.

The same approach can be used when we feel we're the victim of someone else's envy or jealousy. "As a student of Christian Science, I can take that person's envy as prayer and then see him as he is in Truth, having all good. His very own good, which does not infringe on mine."

A member remarked on the paradox that envy and jealousy can be a malpractice against one's divinely established individuality if not handled properly in Science, while they are a spur to spiritual growth and experience if we see through them to the realities just at hand. "But isn't that true of all human appearances?"

The somewhat complicated issue of currying envy came up. Do we do things or have things or associate with certain people to spark envy or jealousy in others? Conspicuous consumption is turning out to be quite dangerous — your Rolex or Mercedes might be snatched along with your life! Even more troubling to us was the seeming oblivion of some hefty consumers to the reactions they might cause in others or their inability to think of the community as they trash and pollute the atmosphere with their lavish lifestyle.

What if one truly loves fine autos, dwellings and adornment? Perhaps these can be relished in some reasonable way — any envy evoked being handled as sin-desire-prayer-fulfillment. But one member told of his once visiting the ruins of the Malkata Palace, Amenophis III's modest living quarters and throne room, set beside a huge and glorious temple to the gods. What! Egypt's Louis XV reduced to such humble surroundings, when he clearly had all the means possible to have a home of distinction! Well, our member came away with a lesson — keep the human requirements in check and let the divine realities flourish.

What if one has a certain talent which others do not have? Should it be kept hidden? That would go against the Bible and common sense. One member quoted Kahlil Gibran: "Don't limp before the lame." Could we see the talent and its exercise as sharing with others and not a way of lording it over them?

A member who MC's nightclub acts has a friend whose voice and musicianship are magnificent. One could easily envy her, yet there is something so gracious and giving in her singing that others feel blessed by her presence and transported by her performance. "Envy doesn't have a chance."

One member reported on work he had done during the week on what psychologists (specifically Melanie Klein) call "defenses against envy". Since it is so painful and threatening for a child to feel and accept the implications of, it's shunted off to other more acceptable feelings. Until the real feelings are accessed and felt, there can be no recovery in Science. He worked on two defenses.

1) Devaluation. For decades he has scorned parties and other seemingly valueless social occasions. This week he uncovered his primal envy as a mere tot, watching his glamorous socialite parents prepare for evenings, leaving him home! Oh the envy and abandonment he felt, but quickly displaced unto anger and devaluation. He went on to spoil the parents' vision of him as a budding socialite and has always when possible avoided"meaningless merriment". The sheer outlandishness of his comments alerted him that lots of envy was being covered up here.

2) Idealization and sexualization. As an awkward and overweight teenager he envied football players and other athletes, but avoided these feelings by idealizing and sexualizing them, while also running them down (i.e., that other defense, devaluation). He has had now decades of this kind of thing and says he's glad at last to have located the underlying envy.

Here's how our member concluded his exposition. "Well, once I've fully felt the devastation of this envy, I'll seek what the desire/prayer is that's hidden here. I doubt I'll become a big partygoer or crave the company of the unattractive, but at least I'll be rid of some awful drives and free to choose what makes sense in light of my own being."

We talked of what part envy plays in homophobia. How much animosity towards us is driven by non Gay people observing all the rules as they see them, doing the right things, and yet here are these Gay people getting rights to live and flourish. Scratch the surface and we get plenty of envy. Standing porter at the door, we convert it to desire-prayer-fulfillment. Fulfillment to live their God-based reality, not just some inauthentic religiously-based version of it.

What of heterophobia? Hmm. The fact that the word barely exists may indicate immense envy beneath. But we ran out of time and couldn't delve into it. Homework anyone?

Next on our lists of God's synonyms and the seven deadly sins come Life and Gluttony.

The Bible

I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.

And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following;

Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.

Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy

Question.—Is there more than one God or Principle?

Answer.—There is not. Principle and its idea is one, and this one is God, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent Being, and His reflection is man and the universe. Omni is adopted from the Latin adjective signifying all. Hence God combines all-power or potency, all-science or true knowledge, all-presence. The varied manifestations of Christian Science indicate Mind, never matter, and have one Principle.

Christianity will never be based on a divine Principle and so found to be unerring, until its absolute Science is reached. When this is accomplished, neither pride, prejudice, bigotry, nor envy can wash away its foundation, for it is built upon the rock, Christ.

Christian Science silences human will, quiets fear with Truth and Love, and illustrates the unlabored motion of the divine energy in healing the sick. Self-seeking, envy, passion, pride, hatred, and revenge are cast out by the divine Mind which heals disease. The human will which maketh and worketh a lie, hiding the divine Principle of harmony, is destructive to health, and is the cause of disease rather than its cure.

From Genesis to the Apocalypse, sin, sickness, and death, envy, hatred, and revenge,—all evil,—are typified by a serpent, or animal subtlety. Jesus said, quoting a line from the Psalms, "They hated me without a cause." The serpent is perpetually close upon the heel of harmony. From the beginning to the end, the serpent pursues with hatred the spiritual idea. In Genesis, this allegorical, talking serpent typifies mortal mind, "more subtle than any beast of the field." In the Apocalypse, when nearing its doom, this evil increases and becomes the great red dragon, swollen with sin, inflamed with war against spirituality, and ripe for destruction. It is full of lust and hate, loathing the brightness of divine glory.

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