November 13, 2003

In the desolation of human understanding, divine Love hears and answers the human call for help; and the voice of Truth utters the divine verities of being which deliver mortals out of the depths of ignorance and vice.

Miscellaneous Writings, by Mary Baker Eddy

Everyone gets sad or bummed out from time to time, depending on how things are going. Members who wanted to work spiritually on depression, however, were referring to something deeper, more on-going, even at time paralyzing in its effects.

The problem comes upon us not so much from raw feelings of anger or sadness but from their blockage. When feelings are driven underground we can become spacey, numb. We lose pleasure in people and things we used to enjoy. There may be too much eating or sleeping — or too little — and, as confirmed by one of our more upbeat members, suicidal thoughts.

The latter point was an eye-opener. How could someone who keeps up a constant beat of happiness really be that depressed?

One member reminded us how some people feel during the Christmas holidays. There's supposed to be a general mood of joy and well being but many report severe sadness, enervation and compulsive behavior.

Here's an exchange that occurred early in the meeting concerning one of the members who requested the topic but failed to show up for the discussion. "Maybe he's too depressed to get out of the house."Or slaking an addiction so as not to feel depressed."Well now — I wonder if gossip is a way of not feeling depressed."

There are so many ways humans have to avoid facing the truth of what's ailing us. One member emailed some data drawn from a book Awakening Intuition, by Mona Lisa Shulz (a name which caused a brief outbreak of merriment at the meeting). Scientists who removed something called the "amygdala"from test monkeys' brains found the animals suddenly unable to distinguish between what was good for them and what was bad. They quickly lapsed into lethargic states of hopelessness and helplessness, which they tried to assuage with excessive food intake and sexual activity. The author felt many humans willfully suppress feelings of what's good and bad for us and fall into depression, masking it perhaps with an array of compulsive activities and attitudes far beyond the scope of our primate cousins.

One member saw his history of overeating and romantic obsessions reflected in the data. He was a master of denying his true feelings and resorting to self destructive pain-binding measures. He's much less willing to engage in these behaviors now, but still gets jolts from time to time as he realizes some more subtle depressive causes and defenses have slipped under the radar.

Grappling with depression through Christian Science can be tricky. There's such a premium on calmness and joy in our collective that we may settle for pleasant appearances and leave a gnawing depression untouched. This can result in empty, plastic lives and of course physical and mental illness.

There are lots of physical means today for handling depression. Drugs like Prozak, Paxil and Soloft are available to knock the peaks and valleys off mood swings. Some report bad side effects and feeling like zombies. There are alternative therapies like herbs, vitamins, aromas and acupuncture/acupressure. Exercise and sunlight are said to be effective.

These measures relieve symptoms but allow the underlying problem to remain. Talk therapy — e.g., psychoanalysis — can sometimes locate the cause, but varies in its success in removing it.

There was support at our meeting for the idea that depression is often a helpful means for spiritual growth. The two readings from the Glossary of Science and Health — Valley and Wilderness — show the value of a state of utter desolation or giving up where we no longer lean on material and fantasy solutions but really let God take over.

One member talked of the "depressive position"discovered by the Hungarian psychologist Melanie Klein. After we've had it with dysfunctional relationships and behavior based on schizoid manipulation of good and bad people, black and white thinking, we may painfully arrive at the realization that everyone — ourselves included — is a combo of good and evil. We naturally become depressed as the fantasy of the perfect person we want to be with fades before the facts.

"Fine — but where's the Christian Science in all this?"asked a member. "Oh, simple. Once we have the human belief clear, we can work in Science to see God as the source and condition of all existence. The human belief, be it good or evil, is merely a fictional representation of the scientific facts. It's science fiction!"

There was a discussion during the week by two members of a couple of troubling points in Science.

1) Is there such a thing as co-creating our lives in association with God? One member felt Deity is the whole presence and power, although operationally, in our everyday human lives, we hardly see this. They agreed our "ego"has a big part in what seems to go on, so we'd better make sure we see its claims clearly, refining them in accordance with our highest vision of God. Feelings of true worth, bliss and so on are important in this work. Here's a quote from Mrs. Eddy: "If spiritual sense always guided men, there would grow out of ecstatic moments a higher experience and a better life with more devout self-abnegation and purity."(Science and Health, pg. 7:18)

2) Is it wrong to desire appropriate interlocutors in forwarding one's work — or should we just take whatever turns up? Well, of course we all want what's good for us, but can we always tell? Sometimes a bit of patience is required to let things unfold. Here's an idea from the Textbook: "Know thyself, and God will supply the wisdom and the occasion for a victory over evil."(Science and Health, pg. 571:16)

In the November 17, 2003 issue of The New Yorker there's a review by Ruth Franklin of various biographies of Arthur Rimbaud and translations of his works. An interesting statement was made by the poet in 1871 at the beginning of his short writing career: "Je est un autre."It's translated "I is someone else"in the article, but one member felt it said simply, "I is an other."Surely it's a reference to the higher Self, the I that is all. Rimbaud said one must make his way to the unknown by "derangement of all the senses" — which he proceeded to do with extremes of attitude and behavior. The results were earth-shaking poetry. At the same time Mrs. Eddy was discovering similar metaphysical points as she wrote Science and Health — published in 1875.

Near the end of the meeting we addressed the lingering depressive effects of of growing up Lesbian or Gay. These can be quite devastating as shown by the suicide statistics for LGBT youth and the many depression related problems afflicting Gay adults. We saw in the readings from Jonah a model for recovering from these effects and staking our claim to a blessed and unique unfoldment of human life based on alienation from conventional modes. "It'll take vigilance, but the whole morass of anger and hurt can be turned around to joy if we see it as forcing us to at-one-ment with God."

For the next two weeks we'll work on Thanksgiving — using the Lesson from the Christian Science Quarterly as our study text. Notes will go up on the site on or about November 28th.

The Bible

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish's belly, And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God. When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord. And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.

And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey.

So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.

And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

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

Christian Science goes to the bottom of mental action, and reveals the theodicy which indicates the rightness of all divine action, as the emanation of divine Mind, and the consequent wrongness of the opposite so-called action,—evil, occultism, necromancy, mesmerism, animal magnetism, hypnotism.

The medicine of Science is divine Mind; and dishonesty, sensuality, falsehood, revenge, malice, are animal propensities and by no means the mental qualities which heal the sick. The hypnotizer employs one error to destroy another. If he heals sickness through a belief, and a belief originally caused the sickness, it is a case of the greater error overcoming the lesser. This greater error thereafter occupies the ground, leaving the case worse than before it was grasped by the stronger error.

VALLEY. Depression; meekness; darkness.

"Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." (Psalm xxiii. 4.)

Though the way is dark in mortal sense, divine Life and Love illumine it, destroy the unrest of mortal thought, the fear of death, and the supposed reality of error. Christian Science, contradicting sense, maketh the valley to bud and blossom as the rose.

WILDERNESS. Loneliness; doubt; darkness. Spontaneity of thought and idea; the vestibule in which a material sense of things disappears, and spiritual sense unfolds the great facts of existence.

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.

Mind's control over the universe, including man, is no longer an open question, but is demonstrable Science. Jesus illustrated the divine Principle and the power of immortal Mind by healing sickness and sin and destroying the foundations of death.

Miscellaneous Writings, by Mary Baker Eddy

The consciousness of corporeality, and whatever is connected therewith, must be outgrown. Corporeal falsities include all obstacles to health, holiness, and heaven. Man's individual life is infinitely above a bodily form of existence, and the human concept antagonizes the divine.

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