Watching Point 288
From 500 Watching Points by Gilbert Carpenter
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288 — WATCH lest you neglect the “second degree” on page 115 of Science and Health. It is not possible to go from the physical directly to the spiritual. There is a necessary intermediate mental point, where one recognizes mental causation and through divine help improves the human mind. If the first degree is called the lie about the lie, and the third degree, the truth about the Truth, then the second degree may be called, the truth about the lie.
Once a student declared that the human mind is absolutely no good, saying that it could not be taught spiritual truths, nor could it declare them. He embodied this teaching in a book called, “Let God Do It.” Such statements are true in the third degree, but they overlook the fact that in the second degree we must improve the human mind to the utmost, even though it is being prepared for its elimination. Hence his book was misleading and calculated to cause students to neglect the second degree.
This second degree is where we resolve things into thoughts, as Mrs. Eddy says. It must be understood that we are dealing with a dual error, a lie about a lie. That there exists a mind apart from God is the first lie; that matter exists as a substance apart from this mortal mind is the second lie, or a lie about the first lie. The second lie declares that matter is real and exists objectively, that it is a self-constituted entity or intelligence. When we tell the truth about this lie, it mentalizes it, and exposes matter to be nothing beyond an image in mortal mind, as Mrs. Eddy says, or mortal mind seeing its own images of thought reflected on the retina.
The importance of this point is recognized when one learns that any human problem can be solved the moment it is put into the realm of the mental, since God, being the allpowerful Mind, can deal with the belief of mortal mind.
If one was in a diving suit on the bottom of the sea and should be frightened by the shadow of a large fish appearing on the ocean floor, all his endeavors to chase away the shadow would be to no avail. Let him leave the shadow and rise to the point where he can frighten the fish itself, and away it goes. Sickness is never anything more than a shadow.
In Alice in Wonderland we find described a phenomenon which Mrs. Eddy mentions in her book, Miscellaneous Writings, where the Cheshire cat disappeared until only its grin was left, which Mrs. Eddy says is like the attempt to conceive the universe as a phenomenon without a noumenon. She declares, “An effect without a cause is inconceivable.” If you saw a grin, you would know that a cat was back of it, even if you could not see the cat. The truth about the lie is that matter is merely the phenomenon of mortal mind which ascribes reality to its own objective misconceptions, as one forms his own dreams and believes them to be real.
Once in the presence of Gilbert C. Carpenter, Mrs. Eddy said, “Good morning, how are you?” to a student who had the symptoms of a cold. When the latter replied that she was all right, Mrs. Eddy said forcefully, “Tell the truth about the lie.”
This student was attempting to go from the physical phenomenon of a cold directly to spiritual harmony, without the intermediate step of thought correction. Her statement, “I am all right,‛ was an assumption that the shadow of the belief in a cold which she was manifesting was an error in effect without an error in cause to produce it, or a grin without a cat. Mrs. Eddy wanted her students to be right with God, and she knew that one could not claim to be free from error mentally while manifesting the physical proof of the presence of that error.
Mrs. Eddy once instructed her students not to tell the truth of a lie too often. Are we to deduce from this that because the second degree does not destroy error, but renders it ripe for destruction, we must not linger there, since, if we continue to make a reality of the mental error, we have not accomplished much?
On April 17, 1890 Mrs. Eddy said, “When we understand the truth of a lie, then we shall understand God, and not until then.” Mortal mind counterfeits divine Mind. It is only when human cause and effect are comprehended and seen to be wholly mental, that the way is opened for one to understand divine Mind and its spiritual expression. As long as one believes in an objective physical world as real and selfcreated, he is blind to the existence of a spiritual universe which is the expression of divine Mind. Mrs. Eddy in the above statement declared that only the recognition of mental causation made it possible to understand God.