From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
Click here to play the audio as you read:
Wisdom Versus the Human Mind
Now let us probe into the experiences of some of Mrs. Eddy’s students who were highly educated, who were recognized in the literary world as men and women of marked attainment, and who had been recruited from the pulpit, from journalism, from educational activities, and from other professions equally cultural and praiseworthy. I do it, not by way of criticism, but in order to unfold the spiritual lesson embodied.
Some of these individuals were writers, who were humanly gifted in this direction beyond our Leader, they having been clergymen, journalists, publishers and reviewers of books for many years.
These students might have continued to be of great value to Mrs. Eddy and to the Cause of Christian Science, if they had not finally turned aside from the organization and repudiated it, to pursue paths devious.
In order to understand these deflections, and to gain the spiritual lesson involved, it is necessary to consider the following illustration: If I had a rich father who did not like my present residence, he might send me the materials with which to build myself a new one. Yet, if I had too much pride in the present one, because of the many things I had been able to do to beautify it, even though I know it is not constructed of material that is permanent, while the new one will be, I might be unwilling to tear it down. Instead, I might use the new material, intended for the construction of my new home, to repair and to strengthen the old.
In this illustration, the old house typifies the human mind, which Christian Science bids us tear down, in order that we may build in its place a new one, constructed with the spiritual materials furnished by God. In the case of these students, they had developed the human mind to a remarkable degree. They were gifted intellectually, with a fund of scholarship and a wide acquaintance with books and authors. But when they became students of Christian Science and went to study with our Leader, they were not entirely willing to fulfill the demand of spiritual progress, to put off the human mind. Their continued application of Christian Science tended to enhance the human mind, and give it greater endurance and acuteness, a fact which may be deduced from their later history.
Yet, Christian Science unfolds that no matter what one does with the human mind, it is still human, and in humility and with a conviction of its utter worthlessness, one must finally put it off, before the divine Mind can be reflected. Mrs. Eddy once said, “The human mind does not increase in wisdom, but wisdom decreases the human mind.”
These students become an object lesson for all Christian Scientists who feel the temptation to be proud of their human attainments and accomplishments, unfolding, as it does, that the remedy for such a condition lies in going back to the simple teachings of the Master who said, “I can of mine own self do nothing.”
One of the vital requirements for the gaining of true spirituality, is willingness on the part of man to strip himself of all that mortal belief has put upon him, human education, inheritance, human opinions and intelligence, in order that he may be clothed with the robes of Christ. As Paul writes in the fifth chapter of II Corinthians, “. . . not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.”
Again and again, the Bible uses the symbol of a lamb to represent the spiritualized man. Apart from typifying purity, the lamb has another metaphysical significance, in that it represents complete dependence. The lamb seems stripped by nature of all ability to protect and support itself, and hence, it must turn unreservedly to the shepherd for everything. He must ward off the wild beasts, must find new pasture, and must even taste the water to be certain that it is fit to drink.
It is little wonder that the Master was called the Lamb of God, since he was absolutely dependent on the divine Mind for everything. His attitude of thought, that brought divine reflection, came through his willingness to give up every human dependence.
He said to Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” In other words, man must strip himself of all belief in human intelligence, selfconfidence, time and maturity, which carries with it pride, age and decay, and return to the helplessness that the babe typifies, in order to earn and win the guidance of God, whereby man is led into the Promised Land.
In the allegory of Adam and Eve, one might say that the wisdom that opened their eyes to their nakedness was an error, only because this exposure was premature. If, at that point, they had had a true knowledge of God with which to clothe their thoughts, they would not have been deceived by the false sense of God, which furnished them skins. These coats of skins might be said to typify the false sense of man, that has hidden the true sense from that day to this. Logically, we deduce that the recognition of his nakedness, when it comes to man, is the action of Truth, if man is ready at that point to take on a true sense of himself as the perfect child of God, reflecting all from the divine source.
From the standpoint of Christian Science, nothing that man gains with the human mind is real or permanent. Furthermore, if man is unwilling to put aside the old garment, he thereby precludes the possibility of his getting the new one. It is a claim of pride that causes man to cling to a belief in self-derived and self-developed qualities. On page 201 of Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy writes, “Let us disrobe error. Then, when the winds of God blow, we shall not hug our tatters close about us.”
One symptom of this error in these students was their attitude of mind in meeting with Mrs. Eddy as her equal, whereas the more humble students sat at her feet as disciples, glad to be fed with bread from heaven. This sense of equality with our Leader was based on the extensive education which such students had enjoyed, in contrast to her limited scholastic opportunities. Not that Mrs. Eddy was an uneducated woman in any sense of the word; but, judging by the world’s literary standards, a skilled writer might feel that what she wrote lacked finish. Hence, to feel superior to her, would be a temptation confronting a humanly well-educated person, who did not fully appreciate the spiritual part of her demonstration.
Such students would feel tempted to believe, that Mrs. Eddy’s reputation for greatness resulted from something which they themselves possessed in even greater degree than did she. Their pride of attainment would blind them to the full significance of the inspiration contained in Mrs. Eddy’s writings, as being the only feature furnishing them with their great value, and elevating them as far above the writings of others, as is the sun above the earth.
These students were writers and authors before they became Christian Scientists. Failing to relinquish their dependence on the human mind after their tutelage with Mrs. Eddy, they could pen only human literature. Contrariwise, what Mrs. Eddy wrote was not human literature; it was spiritual food, divine precepts for humanity’s guidance, inspiration from God; the spiritual thought back of it was paramount, and the symbol in which the spirit was enshrined, assumed a divine hue that transcended grammar or syntax. Mrs. Eddy could have created a new language; in fact, to a great degree she did. She submitted to human rules, but only in order that what she published might conform to the highest standards of human education. Her lack of human technique manifested itself in directions no more serious than punctuation or phraseology, which has been true of numberless authors whose minds teemed with so much material, that they could not write fast enough to record it. This fact, however, at no point hindered Mrs. Eddy’s expression of Truth. This human limitation only served to turn her more unreservedly to the divine Mind. She exemplified what was said of the Master, “How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” But the Master reflected all he needed to know from the divine Mind; he confounded the wise men who depended on human ways and means. Similarly, Mrs. Eddy, with her growth in spirituality, measured up more and more to the standards of human education.
The mental attitude of the students, as described here, would render the good one might gain from Christian Science of little permanent value, as long as one continued to use it merely to improve his or her own developed human capacities and possibilities, although this may be a necessity in the beginning. From these students’ experiences I deduce this most valuable conclusion: that the only effect of Christian Science on a student, that does not definitely carry with it a temptation to self-aggrandizement, and to cling to that which has a human origin, is to open his thought to reflect the divine Mind alone. One cannot accept and retain that which comes from the divine Mind and the human mind at the same time. One cannot serve God and mammon, for mammon represents the source from which emanates all that mortal mind values. Either one must repudiate God and cling to mammon, or vice versa. When the student applies his advancing spiritual knowledge to the opening of thought to receive, in larger measure, the refinement and culture of mortal existence, then one can be sure that his spiritual understanding is being applied from the standpoint of the beginner in the study of Mind-science.
Mrs. Eddy’s own concept of her experience in reflecting the divine law, is clearly summed up by her as follows: “God has worked through one in this age because He could. The light will come through the window because it will let it, while the wall will not; it would shine through the wall if it could; God is no respecter of persons. Then would you say, the wall can let in the light the same as the window? No. Then does one person let in as much light as another?
No. Can the one who lets in the light, see what is best for the others, better than the one who does not? Yes. How do you know I am a window-pane for the light to shine through? By the works.”
On Feb. 19, 1903, in a private letter Mrs. Eddy wrote: “The sick are healed to all appearance and the gospel is taught by mortal mind; but the fact remains, that only the immortal Mind can heal the sick or save the sinner. Divine Love knows that love is light, even that light which is the Life of man. Divine Love knows His window, and knows that it gives light, not darkness, and is the means of love’s entrance into the hearts of men. The wonder is, that aught can make God’s window seem to be what it is not. It was the doubt and ignorance of what Jesus was and did for all mankind, that shut out and still shuts out the light of Love. What if the window does offend the senses with the objects it reveals and the path it points out! It is Love’s window and Love’s revelation to mankind. The good gaze at last with gratitude and joy on what they had not seen, but now see through the window that disturbed the senses, but pointed the way in Science.”