From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
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Mrs. Eddy’s Divine Standard
Mrs. Eddy’s teachings, properly understood, disclose that there is no effect existing in the world, not even the fall of a sparrow, that is not the manifestation of mind as cause. Therefore, as we gain the recognition that the most insignificant, as well as the most notable manifestations, are purely the outward expression, either of the fact that man is letting error gain control of his thinking, or else is letting go of the claim, we can see that the life of Mrs. Eddy, given merely as an accurate rehearsal of events, has no practical value, unless the student has the insight to trace the development of the thoughts, of which these outward events were but the visible expression.
Therefore, the true history of Mrs. Eddy must be a record of her mental struggle to throw off the domination of mortal belief in all its phases, from the aggressive to the somnolent, thereby letting in light.
Mrs. Eddy reserved her strongest rebukes, not for the evidence of fear and disturbance in the students, but for those phases of human thought which produced a quiet feeling of satisfaction, that all was well with the world. She fought this apathy, called it mental drunkenness, a peace, peace, where there was no peace, and insisted upon the students fighting it, insisted with more persistence than she did when it came to the aggressive and disturbing phases of experience and thought. Undoubtedly she knew that the students needed no prodding to persuade them to fight that which produces discomfort and fear, whereas it was necessary for her to waken them from the false comfort of a false peace, a human peace not based on a triumphant sense of good, but a sympathy with error.
It requires a well-developed spiritual thought to be able to trace the mental cause from its human manifestation. No-one without it could have detected any difference between the offerings brought by Cain and Abel. Yet, the Lord, or spiritual perception, had not respect unto Cain’s offering because it was discerned that back of it was the human, and not the divine Mind. This fact was exposed to be true, because of the murder of Abel by Cain which followed. To some degree the necromancers of Egypt, through false thinking, produced the same outward appearance in results as did Moses through right thinking. Beyond a certain point, however, the human mind cannot follow the divine Mind. This point is illustrated in the healing of the sick through Christian Science, where the outward appearance of restored health might not differ from a case which recovered under medical aid; yet, in the former case, unknown to the beneficiary, a spiritual inflow has been started, the result of which marks the final overthrow of all matter. It is at this point of demarcation that the student, who is capable of translating effect back to cause, must begin, in order to set forth to the inquirer the true demonstration of Mrs. Eddy, the casting off of those activities of mortal mind, manifested both in the malicious and the natural, which becloud vision and shut man off from being taught of God. There is little use, however, in attempting to explain Mrs. Eddy’s life from the spiritual standpoint to those who are so dulled mentally, that they would insist that Moses’ mental operations were the same as those of the necromancers; a supposition which would put Moses’ demonstration on the level of the human, implying that he used the human mind, instead of the divine, to produce his results.
What use would it be to try to unfold spiritual facts to one who insisted that the offerings of Cain and Abel were alike in value because of their outward appearance? The greater works which the Master promises, and which follow when man’s thought goes to the Father, can alone convince one’s beclouded sense of the true divinity of the thought back of the works, since beclouded sense sees no further than the surface from which to judge.
If mind is causation, then every effect must follow a mental cause. Only as this is understood, can the importance be recognized of replacing the so-called human mind with the divine. Otherwise one will judge effects at their face value, regardless of the cause back of them. The standard Mrs. Eddy presented is, that no matter how wonderful effect may appear to be, it is to be cast aside as worthless, unless the cause is spiritual and hence, right. From this, is it not apparent that the greatest study, the most important study that can be made by the student desiring to gain a comprehensive and demonstrable understanding of Mrs. Eddy’s experience and revelation, must be the study of her life, not as a series of human vicissitudes, but as a development of the spiritual seed, which, taking lodgment in the receptive and good soil of her thought, began to shake her life to its very foundation, and to drive her through those human experiences from which she learned that every attempt to find lasting peace, security, or health in any phase of human thought, no matter how good it might appear to be on the surface, is an impossibility? She discovered and passed on to us, as a priceless boon won through costly struggles, the knowledge that only as we find our happiness and our true spiritual destiny in receiving the things of God and giving them out to humanity, do we approach the divine standard.
Mrs. Eddy surrounded herself with students of Christian Science, who, through sincerity and sacrifice, were ready to give their all to help support and sustain their beloved Leader. Because of their inability to be sustained on her spiritual plane, however, their attempts were both helpful and deterring; helpful, when Mrs. Eddy, by her admonitions and her sharp rebukes, as well as by the spiritually sustaining power of her support, enabled them to unite with her in sending out a great volume of constructive and protective thought, which was felt all over the world; deterring, when the rising flood of animal magnetism reached those students who were on a lower plane, and, thereby, gave her the double task of saving herself and her students as well. Jesus had the same experience with his disciples. They left him unsupported when he needed them the most. Yet, in spite of denial and betrayal, he accomplished his demonstration and finished his work. What is more wonderful, he left the perpetuation of his teaching in the hands of these disciples, who, through their understanding of his life and the mental force at work to prevent the accomplishment of his divine purpose, were able to give to the world his important teachings, which would uncover evil and free man from it, thus enabling him to touch the garment of Truth.
Mrs. Eddy knew that the students who labored to help her and do things for her, did them either through demonstration or animal magnetism. There can be no middle ground. We have seen a boy’s whole life ruined by a mother’s love and kindness. Does that not prove that that love must have been directed by animal magnetism, in order to produce such an unhappy result?
When a student loved the Leader and desired with the whole heart to help her, he or she was apt to believe that such a desire to serve, prompted by a great sense of love, could not help being productive of good results. Yet, without the right demonstration, all that love was of no value. In fact, the reverse was true. Often it would result in discord and bring a wave of error into the home.
There is no half-way position. “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” No-one can be a channel for Truth and error at the same time. There are only two motivating or directing forces, the divine Mind or animal magnetism, one of which goes out when the other comes in.
The natural human tendency is to let one’s thought and ideals come forth into activity, covered up with that which seems good on the surface, but with animal magnetism as the source. Unless, however, one makes a definite effort to work out of this inclination, he is bound to be governed by animal magnetism. No matter how sweet and loving the effort may seem, the object of animal magnetism is always to prevent or to break up the action of scientific demonstration. This explains why it was such a difficult task to serve the Leader in a way that was both scientific and constructive.
Although the mantle that clothed the effort might be human sweetness and love, so that the student would think the effort must be good because the mantle was good, yet Mrs. Eddy saw through this and perceived the underlying animal magnetism.
How difficult for the students to accept as a fact that which she declared she saw in them, when they could not see it in themselves! How difficult to accept a rebuke based on something they could not see! To my knowledge, Mrs. Eddy designated one of her active students a “moral idiot,” and yet that student was conscious only of a love for the Leader and an active, honest desire to help her and the Cause.
This could be illustrated by a student bringing Mrs. Eddy a beautiful wreath and receiving a rebuke because Mrs. Eddy detected branches of poison ivy hidden in the wreath. The student who did not see the poison ivy would not understand.
The kindly thought of the unspiritual so neutralizes the underlying animal magnetism, that it is not recognized. Mrs. Eddy, however, was never deceived. The result was that she rebuked students when they felt that she was unjust, because they were performing their duties with such a great sense of love and loyalty. Notwithstanding, Mrs. Eddy knew when the directing thought back of these activities was animal magnetism, or divine Mind. Hence, no student could rightly fulfill his or her privileged obligation to our Leader, when he was not making the definite attempt to do everything, no matter how simple, from the standpoint of demonstration.
I repeat, that one of the sources of misunderstanding of Mrs. Eddy on the part of her students was their failure to trace effect back to cause and perceive that, when she rebuked them for outward acts, no matter how trivial, it was because she lived so much in Mind, that these outward things to her represented the continual inward struggle, the ebbing and flowing of thought as, under the greatest kind of mental pressure, mortal belief or human thinking would creep into the thought in the home and then be driven out again.
Years ago, the Mississippi river was systematically hemmed in by dikes, in order that the stream would flow down and be lost in the gulf, instead of spreading over the country. At times, during this great undertaking, when a dike gave way, no attention was paid to the water as it rushed through the break. Every effort was concentrated on repairing the breach to prevent further devastation.
From this illustration, one can see that the true interpretation of Mrs. Eddy’s guidance in handling her students so that they might be of the utmost value to her and the Cause, was to realize that she detected that their protection against the flood of animal magnetism was weakening, and their thought in danger of being inundated, when some of them began to lose their mental alertness, which Mrs. Eddy called a state of mental drunkenness. Nevertheless, it seemed a great trial, when a sense of this peace, induced by apathy, caused us all to feel so harmonious, where we felt that the Cause of Christian Science was progressing, that everybody was at his or her post of duty in the home, and all was well, to have it rudely invaded by the one who watched so lovingly and persistently, yet, who would give the rebuke for that which seemed unimportant, or insignificant. Mrs. Eddy, however, from her mental height, looked down and saw the small beginning of a leak in our thought, into which animal magnetism had begun to flow. She knew that if it were not stopped, serious results might happen to the spiritual thought in the home, to the growth of the student, and to the activities for which he or she were responsible. Mrs. Eddy rightly expected that those students had assimilated her teachings sufficiently, so that they would know that she was not criticizing effect, but through effect was pointing to the cause, and that they would perceive the value of this rebuke, and fortify themselves spiritually. At this point, it is well to state that when any student was thus mentally fortified, he was not rebuked by our beloved Leader. Yet, no student could keep himself or herself at all times at the high point of alertness, necessary to understand the subtlety of error. So how fortunate we were to have such an alert spiritual Leader who could understand, and who had enough love in her heart, and interest in her students, to awaken them as the need arose.