From Collected Writings by Bicknell Young
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An experience with death, that is known absolutely to have taken place in the human experience of a well-known person. There is no doubt as to the veracity of this.
You know, that you are the first one I have ever written anything about the experience I had with what is called “death” some years ago. In fact, I have never even talked about this experience to very many people. Such an experience is something one doesn’t like to talk about very much, and it is difficult to explain, too. Nevertheless, this experience of being drowned in Lake Chautauqua, my so-called body remaining in the bottom of the lake for half to three-quarters of an hour, and being able to prevent myself from being “put to sleep” at all, certainly proved many things of great value to me. I am sure that if I had not been a Christian Scientist at the time, I would have been “put to sleep,” and probably would be still sleeping, although I can’t say for sure.
I know that the Master Metaphysician, Christ Jesus, meant just what he said, John 8:51 (Goodspeed), “I tell you, if anyone observes my teaching, he will never experience death.” In my experience I was saved, only because I was a Christian Scientist, with a workable understanding of Christian Science, and realized my at-one-ment with God, and used my God-given dominion and control in my own behalf. It is just a question of having a spiritually controlled mentality, knowing what to do, and then doing it. Leading the right kind of a life is helpful, but it will not save you. The ability to think along Christianly scientific lines at all times, and under all conditions, is necessary to be saved from what is called “death,” or being “put to sleep.”
Now, we are all familiar with the Master’s wonderful parable of the tares and the wheat. In this story it means that the tares were sown in the same soil with the wheat. So the tares and the wheat, taking root in the same soil, grew up together. Then the advice was given, that both should be permitted to grow together in the same soil, “until the harvest.” Then disposition was to be made of the tares. Note: The tares are not the wheat, and there is no “relationship” between the two. Just as it seems that the tares and the wheat are growing together in the same soil, so it seems that we entertain the illusion of material sense, and the ideas of spiritual sense. This is to be permitted, until we have a developed, or ripened, spiritual sense. Then we will make final disposition of the illusions of material sense, for good.
Our present work is to grow in grace, through the active cultivation of spiritual-mindedness. Because only by becoming spiritually-minded, can we intelligently or scientifically distinguish between the aggressive suggestions of mortal mind, and the truth of immortal Mind, God. We must learn that what is called physical health, as well as what is called physical disease, is an illusion of material sense. Neither physical health, nor physical disease, is known to God. One who is healed in a scientific Christian manner, loses some of his belief in physical health, because his sense of health is more spiritual, less material.
At this time, it does not seem advisable to set forth a history of something that is supposed to have happened to me a long time ago, when I had an unpleasant experience with what is called death. However, I see no reason why I cannot discuss some of the different phases of this experience, and in doing so, it may give you the information you want.
In the first place, as the result of a culmination of certain violent and malicious elements, I was involved in a storm and drowned. After a struggle in the water, I became resigned, and “gave up the ghost,” so to speak. It was then I heard a sinister, diabolical, insidious “voice,” which began to talk to me in a more or less bored, yet masterful way. At once I sensed that the speaker was evil. I know that the speaker intended to dominate my thought with his suggestions along certain lines, which I had to refute. The speaker, or rather voice, presented pictures of my past life, in which certain things happened as a result of premeditated evil thinking on my part. Nothing good was shown me. It seems that the voice had an ulterior motive, in only presenting evil happenings, as the result of my evil thinking. As I saw, or lived through, each past evil experience, I suffered great pain and anguish. Note: While I had been a pretty decent fellow, and had done a lot of good, it seemed to be of no use to me at this time. Only the fact that I was developed mentally, spiritually, and could “argue” with the “voice,” is what saved me from being forced into oblivion, unconsciousness, and put to sleep. Remember what Jesus said about the so-called dead, and what he was going to do about it.
The voice, and arguments of the voice, only came to me in connection with my body or physique, where it had been used as a tool for premeditated evil thinking, activated by evil thought. As long as I held a personal sense of being associated with a material body, I had trouble. When I relinquished my body, let go of it, and saw it as any other object included in consciousness, then the “voice” stopped. Everything looked the same after death as before. I was able to think and act the same, but without a physique. But having no physique, I was, of course, handicapped, in not being able to make my presence known. However, it was an advantage, because I was able to be where I wanted to be, instantly. I saw nobody who had passed on, therefore was somewhat disappointed, although it was rather a weird experience, being with people, and not being able to make your presence known to them at all. For that reason, I had a desire to get away from them all, and would have done so, if it had not been for certain reasons that I wanted to come back, so to speak. I know that if I was to remain, that I had to have a body or physique, so came back and took possession of mine.
In the condition I was in, I could think about being any place, but the moment I wanted to be there, it was so. I was in the air, in the room of a house, in the water, any place I wanted to be. In a certain sense I trekked my way back. I was many miles away, when I decided that I ought to come back, although I did not want to do so at all. I came back in three or four moves, until I was in very close proximity to my body. I then moved into my body, and the “voice” started again. Now the voice was no longer bored, it seemed to be very much concerned and insistent. The battle was on in earnest. “Hell broke loose.” The voice stopped arguing, and began to make direct suggestions, which became more and more aggressive, until they came with the rapidity of machine gun bullets. When I say that the voice stopped arguing, I mean that it no longer waited for me to reply, or come back at what it said. I was face to face with aggressive mental suggestion, which seemed to be coming from somewhere, so I got busy too. I became more and more aggressive myself at stating truth, and was finally able to silence the aggressive mental suggestion. As soon as I was able to do so, then I had control of my body, and made it do what I wanted it to do at that moment: Jump up from the bottom of the lake and shoot out, which it did. People took me ashore, and worked me over a barrel, and used the regular methods to revive me. They worked for a long time and gave up. Then the “voice” started again, as it did at the very first. I got busy again, silenced the voice, and the men then went to work on me with renewed energy over again. After a short time, I gave a cough and started breathing again.
At that time, being of a scientific turn of mind, I checked up on my experience with a doctor, proving beyond any doubt that there is no such thing as death. This doctor was deeply impressed, and helped me to check up on places I visited, etc., and so proved to his satisfaction, as well as my own, that I actually did what I said I did, while my physique was on the bottom of the lake, and that I was not suffering from any hallucination. The history of this experience may be interesting, but it can be profitable, too, to the individual who knows enough to benefit by it.
In your letter, you ask for a clear presentation of the argument with the “voice.” I don’t think a statement of the exact words used would be of any real value; words don’t mean anything in themselves. You know Mrs. Eddy says (S&H 454:31), “Remember that the letter and mental argument are only human auxiliaries to aid in bringing thought into accord with the spirit of Truth and Love, which heals the sick and the sinner.” I am sure there was no one speaking to me. The “voice” was mortality talking, or mortal thought formulated into words or an argument, that would reach me. It was aggressive mental suggestion. It was malicious animal magnetism. Of course, it came to me as a voice or argument, and I had to deal with it as such.
How did I get the best of this error? By being bigger, better, stronger than it was. It was just another question of dominion and control. It talked; I talked. It claimed dominion; I claimed dominion in His name. It presented an argument, based on false belief; I presented an argument, based on Truth. It got aggressive; I got aggressive. I knew when the argument first started, that I had to get “hooked up” with something bigger than it was, so that I could be bigger, too, than it was, and get the best of it. I remembered what Jesus said about his power, where he got it, and that he was always master. That was my cue, so to speak, and from then on I made real progress.
Mrs. Eddy says (S&H 471:17), “Man is, and forever has been, God’s reflection.” And she also says (S&H 525:4), “Man reflects God.” In many other places she brings out the above two very important points about man. Man is the reflection of God, and man reflects God. The idea is an expression of Mind, and the idea expresses Mind. Man must remember who he is and what he does.
As a result of a culmination of certain violent and malicious elements, I was involved in a storm and drowned; which is just another way of saying that what was supposed to be my death, was brought about as the result of certain malicious elements, which were seemingly working toward that end. Of course, the circumstances had to include what mortal mind said was I: My material body. From mortal mind’s standpoint, to dispose of my material body would be to dispose of me. The situation first presented a question, which brought about a violent argument, which I told you about.
Did mortal mind own and control my material body, or did I own and control my material body? For many years, it did what I told it to do, generally speaking. Now mortal mind seemingly brought about a circumstance, or situation, which involved this so-called body, and was trying to force me to give it up, for certain reasons. You will recall that Michael, the archangel, had quite a dispute with the devil over the body of Moses (Jude 9). Well, what is said to be my material body, presented the claim of something controlled by two different powers. In other words, it seemed that somebody, or something else, claimed concurrent jurisdiction, as far as my body was concerned. All this is perfectly natural, when one understands what is called the material body.
If mortal mind evolved a material body, which it allows you to control for a time, then you can expect trouble eventually. There is no doubt, that so-called mortal mind has evolved the so-called material body, in belief, and this so-called mortal mind says it is you, or a part of you. It is all a lie. It is not true. Nevertheless, one seems to find himself in such a situation, and therefore he has to make the best of it. Mrs. Eddy says (S&H 86:29), “Mortal mind sees what it believes as certainly as it believes what it sees. It feels, hears, and sees its own thoughts.” The material body is mortal mind’s own erroneous mental concept or belief of body. The mental circumstances or situations are called mortal mind’s own erroneous concept, or belief of circumstances or situation. Therefore, everything for you or against you in the material world, is mental, and a product of this so-called mortal mind. It is important to understand this fact. Undoubtedly, mortal mind is “the strong man,” the ruler of beliefs, arbitrarily dealing out fortune, success, and failure, wealth and poverty, health and disaster, disease, life and death. Any idea, thought, belief, which is maintained by mortal mind long enough, will eventually take form in some way or other. Erroneous thinking will cause trouble. Because this so-called mortal mind is not really Mind, which is good, and which alone is intelligent, it cannot be relied upon at all. To be saved, to be delivered, Christian Scientists must “first bind the strong man,” then, when they have done this, “enter into the strong man’s house and spoil his goods.” Mortal mind must be instructed by one having authority.
Every phase of mortality is an illusion, which is not real. There is no believer and no belief. In fact, an illusion does not include anything real. It is powerless, when it is understood just what it is: Nothing. In truth (S&H 468:10), “All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all.” Man must remember what he is, and who he is, and what he does. Man is the image and likeness of God. Man is the manifestation, expression, reflection of divine Truth, Life and Love, and man manifests, expresses, reflects, divine Truth, Life, and Love. Just as God is and does, so, too, man is and does. As God is the great I AM, man has nothing to worry about, and nothing to be afraid of. “Fear not.” God has given you “dominion and control,” so use it. In fact, it is God’s dominion and control you actually use, and for this reason you always have more than enough power “from on high,” which always makes you master of every circumstance and situation. You will continue to work for the “glory of God,” speaking with authority in His name, and you will be obeyed, because He must be obeyed. You will see the Christ idea gain an ascendancy, until the divine light glows in, around, and through all.
As the result of my experience, if I had died, been put to sleep, it would have been said that I had met with a violent or unnatural death.
Death is said to be unnatural in one instance, and death is said to be natural in another instance. It is well to understand that there is no natural death. Death is always the result of mental assassination. It doesn’t make any difference whether death is said to be natural or unnatural, it is always the result of an assassin. An evil or erroneous false belief is the assassin. Sin, or a wrong personal sense of things, assassinates the sinner. General false belief accepted, assassinates the believer. Death is said to be caused by disease, more than by anything else. And disease is simply an embodied evil or error. (’01 12:26-4) Therefore, it is necessary to disembody, dis-embody, evil or error. It is necessary to “cast out devils,” in order to heal the sick. From what has been said, it is also evident, as to what is necessary to prevent one from being put to sleep, and what is necessary to awaken one who has been put to sleep. What is called physique or material body, is evolved by what is called a material evolutionary life process. This claim of material evolutionary life process is malicious. Carried to a conclusion, it causes death, “dust to dust.” This claim is one of the devils that must be cast out, and its hold on the body broken; the physique or material body is a human invention, the result of a misconception of reality. It is a belief that must be improved. Mr. Bell says (Lecture 1920), “It seems to be yours, but it isn’t you.” And Mrs. Eddy says (S&H 393:10-11), “Take possession of your body, and govern its feeling and action.” Therefore, you tell your body what to do, and don’t let it tell you what to do.
If one dies or is put to sleep, it is because one doesn’t know enough to live. To Jesus, those who were dead, were simply those who were “asleep,” and he went to “awaken” them. The divine command always is (Eph.5:14), “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” It is animal magnetism, or a wrong personal sense of things that would, if it were possible, put one to sleep absolutely. Of course, it is impossible to be put to sleep absolutely, or altogether, in reality. One cannot be dead altogether to reality, or absolutely unconscious. The sleeper knows that he is sleeping, and the dreamer knows that he is dreaming. Strictly, there is no unconsciousness, and no death. For this reason we say, “Be not afraid.” However, in human affairs, it seems that a certain degree or depth of unconsciousness, a certain amount of death, is effected. It is only animal magnetism, or a wrong personal sense of things, that says so. Our duty is clear: Destroy animal magnetism. Christian Science presents the Christ, Truth, and therefore, we may have life, and we may have life “more abundantly,” as we work for, and discern, the “immaculate conception” of man, that is, spiritual man.
As I have said, the material is a human invention, the result of a misconception of reality. We have to live out of it; and we can’t die out of it. It being a belief, we must improve this belief. Eventually, we will be able to effect a complete dematerialization of thought in regard to it. The main thing is to know what it is, to govern and control it, to improve it and make it better, to put it off or eliminate it, as rapidly as possible; that is, supersede a wrong sense of it. Remember, the only body there really is, is spiritual. Man’s body is spiritual and perfect. It is a compound idea, or an idea that is an aggregation of ideas. It is the perfect, full, and complete embodiment of divine Truth, right ideas. The body, because of the presence and activity of the ideas constituting it, is conscious, or is a consciousness. Mind governs and controls the body, and what is included in it. NOTE: Divine power, operating according to law, produces action.
It is hatred of your scientific thinking that is trying to make you suffer. This is demonology, and you must cast it out.