Chapter One Hundred Fifteen
From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
Spiritually Understanding Mrs. Eddy’s Life
It is recorded in the Gospel of John, that at a certain point in his spiritual pathway, the Master said to Mary, “Touch me not.” A spiritual interpretation of this statement brings to a sharper focus our understanding of our Leader. We can deduce, that Jesus had reached a place where he was so sensitive spiritually, that the best help another might try to give him along spiritual lines would only tend to pull his thought down from its exalted level. This characteristic of spiritual sensitivity was one of the outstanding proofs of the scientific quality of Jesus’ thought.
The student of Christian Science daily strives to reach the point, where he will instantly recognize a thought that is the enemy of Truth. Only in this way can he know what his work is, and when it should be done. It is a sign of increasing spirituality, when the advancing student is touched by alien thought to the point where he is compelled to make the effort to lift his consciousness to God. The student should not desire to reach a point where he is not touched by alien thought, as long as his obligation to the world is unfulfilled, but to win the ability to lift thought above it, so that he can say, “None of these things move me.”
This increasing sensitivity to error is essential in the effort to broaden the demonstration of Christian Science, beyond the attempt to meet merely the obvious forms of aggressive evil. In the beginning of one’s study, he is disturbed by the suggestions of fear, suffering, lack and sin. Hence, he applies his understanding of Christian Science whenever such suggestions assail him. Yet, this right application of Christian Science to apparent evil will not carry the student very far on the road of spiritual progress, unless he becomes increasingly sensitive to the claim of animal magnetism, so that he is urged to apply the Truth to an ever-increasing category of false beliefs. Mrs. Eddy was so spiritually sensitive, that a lack of scientific demonstration in any direction would disturb her spiritual balance of thought, as definitely as the fear of disease or lack would upset her students.
A student might be tempted to wish that he could enter an alien atmosphere without demonstration, and yet feel perfectly at ease. Nevertheless, a student of Christian Science has no value as an alert sentinel, protector and guardian of Truth, unless he is sensitive enough to detect and correct erroneous thought, whenever and wherever it presents itself. The student must achieve the ability to recognize when the atmosphere is not good, and to work until it is. No student should ever expect to enter a materialistic atmosphere of thought, and be at peace, unless he makes a demonstration of that peace.
A warning should be given to everyone who assumes the study of Christian Science earnestly and seriously, that he should not undertake to develop spirituality, if he is not willing to find himself in the position where he is under the constant necessity to watch and pray, to be ready and willing to work, whenever such work is requisite. One who develops spirituality cannot avoid feeling within himself the errors that come to him to be destroyed. If such a prospect does not appeal to him, a labor that involves an infinite blessing to the race, let him remain on a selfish, material level, where his thinking is so at one with mortal belief, that he will feel no friction when it comes gliding in.
Students of Christian Science are roused to action by those things that bring disturbance and fear. But only the grosser phases of error disturb a gross thought. As thought becomes more sensitive, however, it becomes more and more awake to the subtler phases of error.
In a family where the father and children are sound sleepers, oftentimes the mother will be so sensitive, that the slight sound of a clock ticking or a mouse gnawing will disturb her slumbers. The others in the family may be inclined to scoff at her for this sensitiveness, because it is beyond their comprehension.
To a degree, this illustrates Mrs. Eddy’s experience. Her spiritual sensitivity was beyond the comprehension of those less spiritually attuned. There was hardly a phase of her experience but what distressed her, when it became a channel for the action of animal magnetism. If the students did not make the demonstration to take out the animal magnetism, and to put in God, the divine Mind, anything they did for the Leader caused her to say in substance, “Touch me not.”
In a measure, the reiteration of the above points in these pages serves to illustrate the difficulty embodied in the effort to interpret Mrs. Eddy’s life. The experience of anyone who functions under spiritual law, must always be an enigma to the one who is ignorant of spiritual law, or of its existence. The results in the life of one under the law of God, cannot be comprehended by the one who operates under material law. This fact accounts for the numerous critical biographies written about Mary Baker Eddy, which go to all lengths to explain the many incidents by which the enlightened one knows, that God was preparing her for the great revelation of Truth which she gave to the world.
The one who functions under spiritual law seems either a fraud or a miracle to one ignorant of such law. The Master is held up as a special son of God, with a life that was a miracle from beginning to end, by those who know not God as Principle. They do not realize that spiritual law exists and forever operates. Then there comes one who understands this law enough to lay hold of it, and to begin to function under it. This is what the Master did in his age, and Mrs. Eddy in ours. Furthermore, her writings proclaim that this same law is open for all to utilize.
In the first epistle to the Corinthians, St. Paul states that the preaching of the crucifixion was a stumbling block to the Jews. He implies that the operation of spiritual law in the experience of the Master, as it carried him triumphantly through the experience of the cross, was incomprehensible to unenlightened thought.
From Paul’s statement, we can perceive why spiritual perception is needed, before anyone can comprehend the life of Mrs. Eddy, since the fruitage of her life-work proves that she functioned under spiritual law. No wonder the books dealing with her life, written from a human standpoint, present such inconsistencies and contradictions, that one turns away from any contemplation of her life, except from a spiritual standpoint! Only in this way, can Mrs. Eddy’s own life and experience be brought into perfect harmony with her teachings.