Chapter One Hundred Fourteen
From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
Spiritual Meaning of Symbols
Since this treatise stresses Mrs. Eddy’s insistence on demonstration, indicating how she demanded that all outward tasks or effects in the home, such as cooking, cleaning, or matters connected with her business affairs, be the result of spiritual thought instead of mortal mind, it should include a definite statement of what Mrs. Eddy meant by the term.
In the world, all outward effects result from human thinking, which is always destructive thinking, since it emanates from an enemy of God, or animal magnetism, which is perpetually striving to keep man from reinstating himself in the kingdom of God. The expressions of mortal mind, manifested as substitutes for the expressions of the divine Mind, tend to produce in man a mental laziness, because they satisfy him as an easy method of producing results without demonstration.
This reasoning leads to the deduction that, in Christian Science, demonstration is that process whereby all outward effects are recognized as being symbols of the divine Mind. It was this conception of that word which I gained from our Leader. Hence, the work necessary to produce a demonstration, as thus defined, is the effort to eliminate faith and belief in the human mind, and the determination not to permit it to enter consciousness under any circumstances, in order that man may be entirely governed and controlled by the divine Mind. Then, every effort that we make, every task that we perform, which emanates from the divine Mind, carries with it a healing and constructive atmosphere.
In a previous chapter is given the illustration of a man hiding an impure thought in a gift to some girl. Thus, how needful it would be for that girl to use her intuition to reject the gift, no matter how beautiful it might be, in order to protect her thought against the encroachment of error! In like manner, animal magnetism hides behind the evidence of man’s material senses in its effort to keep man in bondage. Therefore, Mrs. Eddy’s conception of demonstration, as she conveyed it to us, was bringing error out from its hiding place, silencing it, and restoring the channel error had claimed to use back to the uses of the divine Mind. How could Mrs. Eddy be a metaphysician and tolerate a student, an object, or a service rendered, that had animal magnetism, the enemy of God, hidden within? Surely the lie had to be uncovered, in order that it might be self-destroyed, and the reign of harmony, with God in control, be the result. This was demonstration.
So, every time a student in the home performed any duty, by making it a symbol of the activity of God, he released in the home a spiritual power that carried life, healing and protection in its train. This was the demonstration Mrs. Eddy required, the endeavor through prayer and consecration to change one’s conception of all causation from the human to the divine.
Why did our Master permit himself to be baptized? Why did Mrs. Eddy permit her Cause to copy scholastic theology, by building churches of beauty in which to conduct services? The answer to both questions is the same. They represent concessions to mortal thought. The Christian Science edifices in every quarter of the globe, besides facilitating the recognition by the world of Christian Science as a religion and form of worship, help to destroy prejudice. After people have studied Mrs. Eddy’s works, they are then ready to learn that Christian Science is not a religion in the sense of worshiping God, since Christian Science teaches man how to reflect God, which is certainly not the old conception of worship, where worship consists in adoring that which somebody else has. It is undeniable, that such a notion is not the scientific process, whereby man avails himself of the divine power in a practical way.
In order to break down whatever prejudice it may have, the world must learn that Christian Science is a religion in its general definition. Therefore, the building of churches, and the holding of services, is a concession that must be made in order to arouse interest. During the Christian Science services, however, an instruction is offered, and a mental atmosphere established by the workers, which extends to the congregation, and which has for its purpose the disintegration of the fallacy of old theology in the minds of receptive ones, as well as the healing of the sick. Thus, because spiritual understanding replaces the false doctrines through these processes, we find justification for Christian Science edifices.
Similarly, in the time of the Master, religion was looked upon as the spiritual regeneration which follows man’s submission to the rite of baptism. Hence, in order to break down prejudice among religious people against his doctrine, he made this concession, and he accepted baptism without harm to himself. Although the Master rejected the notion, that a few drops of water on his head possessed any power to make him a better Christian, he submitted to baptism as a symbol of the fact, that the spirit of God had descended upon him from heaven, and that he was animated by the divine Mind.
In like manner, Christian Scientists do not reject the old church ceremony and its functions, but transform them into symbols, to remind them that all is Mind. They do not object to eating food, but to them it has an entirely different significance than it does to mortal man, since, to Scientists, it becomes a symbol of the fact that Mind alone feeds and blesses man, that man looks to divine Mind alone for his support, wisdom and inspiration.
In Bible times, baptism was considered a necessity for the soul, and food, a necessity for the body. The Master transformed baptism and food into symbols, instructing man that Mind alone is the basis of all religion and sustenance. This was demonstration, as Mrs. Eddy unfolded and demanded it in her home. She disclosed that the materiality or spirituality of an act is entirely dependent on the standpoint of the actor. The service which the students offered Mrs. Eddy, had no value of itself, but when it was reckoned as an opportunity for the divine Mind to govern, and express itself through every act of every individual, that was demonstration.
For Jesus to have accepted the baptismal ritual as having any value per se, would have been a lack of demonstration. For him to suffer it as a symbol of infinite Love, governing man and being the mainspring of his thinking, was to make of it a demonstration.
Further light on the correct conception of demonstration can be gleaned from Exodus 30:34-38. Here Moses was commanded to make a sweet perfume, which he must use as being holy for the Lord. If he disobeyed, and used it to smell, however, or for the purpose of the pleasure of indulgence, he would be cut off from his people.
The whole religion of the Israelites, as revealed in the Old Testament, offered the greatest opportunity to broaden one’s sense of demonstration. The Bible constantly emphasizes that all the minutiae of their acts were to be holy unto the Lord, which means putting demonstration back of them. Here was the simple matter of a sweet perfume compounded from stacte, onycha, galbanum and frankincense, which, if utilized from an inspirational standpoint as a symbol of God, would be holy unto the Lord; but, if considered as an opportunity for pleasure, and permitted to be a product of mortal thought, a symbol without divine significance, or matter conceived as possessing life, truth, intelligence and substance, then it must be cast out.
Every symbol, if given spiritual significance, directs man’s thought to God, and spiritualizes him. Every symbol that is used without spiritual significance, constitutes a deterrent which distracts man from the contemplation of God, and from the healing, protection and love that accompanies it. Therefore, we can see why Mrs. Eddy recognized the spiritual possibilities and opportunities offered by the simple things in her home, when reckoned as symbols having divine implications. In fact, the minutiae of Mrs. Eddy’s home might be described just as are such things in the Bible, as, for instance, in the Old Testament, where the measurements were taken with such exactness, and the use of the holy vessels was treated with reverence. In truth, one could contend that Mrs. Eddy’s chairs and carpets were holy unto the Lord. Why? Because she demanded that spiritual demonstration which made them holy, and because they became thereby the expression of a spiritual thought, with an exactness which can only result from mind in tune with God. To Mrs. Eddy, such exactness became the means of detecting whether Spirit or matter, divine Mind or mortal mind, was dominating the individual.
Hence, as a present-day counterpart of the old Jewish customs, Mrs. Eddy provided a simple and effective means, by which a great number of purely human things could be transformed into symbols of Deity, symbols of the love of God, and with those as a start, the student might soon achieve that vision wherein all creation becomes a symbol of divine Mind, a channel for the infinite blessings of Spirit.
When we declare that God created all, we are voicing a statement that is true only in the absolute. Hence, God must be seen to be back of everything through demonstration, since mortal mind has so adulterated this universe of God through human opinion and falsity, that it does not now appear, as God created it. Christian Science unfolds that it is possible, through human misconceptions, to mingle with God’s creation such a finite sense, that it becomes almost self-evident that God could not have created it. It is apparent, therefore, that the spiritualizing of the universe must commence in man’s consciousness, which is just what Mrs. Eddy was demanding of the students. Through this demonstration, man begins to perceive the perfection, immortality, and good that must be resident in the universe, if God created it. All of this process of rendering creation to God transpires, of course, within man’s own consciousness. It becomes necessary to realize, that all that the five material senses perceive, is an image of mortal thought. So man must undertake to conceive of a perfect God and a perfect manifestation of God, as his idea of creation. Then, as he constructs this ideal in consciousness, he must reject the evidence of the senses as being so unreliable, that it cannot be depended upon.
There is a story of a boy who climbed up to the top of a steeple, whence he could not get down. His grandmother, who had knitted his stockings, called to him to unravel them, beginning with the toe. This he did, letting down the yarn and, finally, pulling up the rope that saved him.
What a lesson the Old Testament teaches; that one should begin with a mundane thing like a perfume and then, by recognizing it as a symbol of the sweetness of God’s presence and the consciousness of good, utilize it as a starting point for a demonstration which will eventuate in his freedom from universal mesmerism. Thus, by commencing with the insignificant things and extending one’s endeavor to all creation, one forms the habit of demonstration. After all, is that not the true religion which results in man’s salvation, creating the habit, through specific ways and means, of extending that process by which he translates every daily experience, that claims to be a manifestation of mortal thinking, into a symbol of infinite Love, thus replacing mortal mind with divine Mind, and putting God in control?
Among all homes on the whole earth, Pleasant View was unique, because the entire trend of Mrs. Eddy’s teaching was to extend the importance of demonstration, beginning with the simple opportunities that the home offered, and then learning to translate everything into expressions of the divine Mind.
Life became a joy or a burden at Pleasant View, depending on the students’ attitude. It became a burden, if the students did not comprehend why Mrs. Eddy seemed so exacting and difficult to please, and why, no matter how conscientious and faithful they were in performing their duties, our Leader was just as liable to reprove them as applaud them. To understand, meant to realize that the very spirit in Mrs. Eddy that plagued them, represented the angels of Revelation which would show them the new heaven and the new earth. Those who comprehended, knew that there was only one method by which they could, with certainty, satisfy Mrs. Eddy, and that was by demonstration. That method she always commended. Therefore, by accepting those rebukes which annoyed them, they could transform them into the ladder, up which they might climb to the conception of heaven as a present reality, since they thereby acquired that mental process of translating everything into its real and spiritual significance as the new heaven and earth, new only because they represent a new conception of the old.
One might object that, in instructing Christian Scientists to see everything in the universe as under the control of God, Mrs. Eddy was thereby advocating the inclusion of that which is evil in the divine plan. This objection, however, can be answered by appealing to Scripture. Peter beheld in a vision a great sheet let down to earth, wherein were all manner of beasts and fowl. When, by declaring that he had never partaken of anything unclean, he remonstrated with the voice that bade him eat, Peter was told that he should not call common that which God had cleansed, or that had been included in the sanctification of demonstration.
Again, in Matthew 13, the Master likens the kingdom of heaven to a net, indicating thereby that demonstration means to throw an all-inclusive spiritual thought around everything, great or small. Then must come the separation which casts away the bad, or that which has a human origin. This instruction prophesies the end of the world, when the angels, or spiritual intuitions, shall separate the wicked from the just, the human from the divine, so that only the spiritual remains.
When the student obeys the teachings of Christian Science and declares, “I am spiritual,” he is endeavoring to throw the net of demonstration around himself. Later, he learns to extend that effort to patients, to the other members of the Christian Science organization, to his daily life and environment, and finally, to the whole world.
Yet this process includes much that is not spiritual or worthy to be brought into the kingdom of heaven. Notwithstanding, Jesus’ admonition indicates that it is legitimate to take the net and throw it around everything, endeavoring to see man and the universe from a spiritual standpoint. Then must follow the demonstration of gathering the good into vessels, or embodying the spiritual idea, and casting the false away as unreal. As man elevates his ideals to the standard of immortality, only that which is divine will be retained and embodied. This marks the end of the world, the juncture at which man perceives the unreality of all material creation, the termination of his belief in the reality of that which is false. At that point, all that is unlike God is discarded.
Mortal man takes pleasure in believing that when he is conscientious, and when love prompts his efforts to please, his human motive and endeavor should be commended. Such is not the case in Christian Science, the standard of which is apt to chemicalize many. Nevertheless, the world must be brought up to the recognition, that only as man applies demonstration, should his work merit consideration. Should we applaud the treasurer of a branch church who brings out a prosperous sense, through working with the congregation outwardly, apart from demonstration? Under such conditions, there is no development nor growth in the field for which the church was founded, namely, spirituality. Furthermore, the one who labors long and faithfully to accomplish something, and does it more or less successfully, yet without demonstration, would feel injured if another attempted to belittle the value of his endeavors.
A quotation from Isaiah reads, “For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. ” These words might well have been put in Mrs. Eddy’s mouth, because she never withheld a rebuke when it was merited, and because she was untiring in her watch, lest the students fail to reflect the glory of the Christ-idea in all their undertakings. Her tendency to reprove any effort which lacked demonstration, no matter how faithfully it had been performed, caused her to be misunderstood. Nevertheless, one who is striving to emerge from mortal mind into the divine Mind, appreciates this reproach, and does not want to be applauded when human ability produces apparently harmonious results, no matter how similar these results are to those which the divine Mind would have produced. One of the greatest dangers besetting the Christian Scientist, is the possibility of achieving effects, as did the necromancers of old, through the action of mortal mind, which are similar in outward appearance to those which emanate from demonstration, as did the miracles of Moses. As Christian Scientists, we should be rebuked for accomplishments which are not scientific, since, in the last analysis, we are not working for effects, for healthy bodies, financial relief, etc., but we are striving to substitute the activities of the divine Mind for the illusion of mortal belief, the process which alone will bring constructive, scientific and permanent results.
After one has planted vegetables, he must extend the circle of his hoeing sufficiently, or weeds will come in and choke the plants. This illustrates the failure of those students who do not broaden their demonstration of Christian Science to cover the little, insignificant human claims, by which they are just as much held in the illusion of mortal belief, as by the so-called big ones. These students persistently dwell upon God, they study and labor, and cannot understand why Christian Science does not do more for them. They have planted the seed of the Christ in their consciousness, but they fail to clear out all the weeds in the field of their experience.
One might study an airplane thoroughly, yet all one really knows about flying is acquired through taking the machine out of its hangar, and attempting to fly it. The stock question that Mrs. Eddy asked every student who came to Pleasant View was, “How much Christian Science do you know? ” The correct answer, as we were taught later, was, “Only what you can demonstrate. ”
Mrs. Eddy foresaw the danger arising from the notion that the way to progress in Christian Science, is to spend hours and hours of one’s time in study, since the divine Mind is of no value to man, until he assimilates and utilizes it. It does not necessitate much study nor understanding to follow the simple teachings of Mrs. Eddy’s revelation, but it requires persistency and consistency, where the endeavor is made to apply this divine power to everything in one’s experience, whether small or great.
There are many text-books devoted to the study of the electricity which fills the atmosphere. Yet, of what value are these text-books, or the presence of this power itself, until one who has read them sufficiently to comprehend the subject, stops theorizing, begins to harness this force and apply it as an active and helpful agent to man?
Thus, Mrs. Eddy’s answer referred, not only to what our faithful and consistent study had brought to us of understanding, but also the use to which we devoted it. She knew that one’s knowledge of God was not theory but practice, entirely dependent upon the application one had made of that knowledge. Once the student perceives the great opportunity for demonstration, contained in the effort to translate every human object and experience back into a spiritual symbol, which rules out belief in any cause other than the divine, he has provided himself with plenty of occupation. This unfolds the underlying significance of the ancient forms and ceremonies of the Jewish faith, that appear so material on the surface. If these rites represent the symbols as having any spiritual value in and of themselves, that would be idolatry. When they typify the attempt to put God back of the universe in every way, then they become footsteps to heaven.