Chapter One Hundred Six
From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
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Watchfulness Needed to Keep Spiritual Poise
Our Master said, that of himself he could do nothing; yet, with God all things were possible. This statement, revealing the great obligation laid on every man to embody the Christ-idea within himself, was illustrated in the moving pictures by a young man who entered a swimming contest, without even knowing how to keep afloat. But, equipped with a non-sinkable bathing suit which he had invented, he was able to swim for many miles, and felt confident that he could win the race. However, just before he reached the buoy that marked the end of the race, he was told that he had accidentally put on a bathing suit that possessed no such remarkable powers of buoyancy. The moment he accepted this notion, fear stopped his progress, and he began to sink.
This comedy unfolds one of the profound concepts in metaphysics. When man embodies the Christ-idea, he thereby acquires infinite power by reflection. But whatever of good works are accomplished by this means, result from the enthronement of the spiritual idea within, and not from one’s own resources. This indicates that if one suddenly loses all awareness of the spiritual idea, he begins to sink, even though he has embodied that spiritual idea for ten years, and, through demonstrating it, has performed many wonderful works.
Furthermore, from these propositions we deduce that man should not place his confidence in the wonderful works that are done through him, or in himself, but in the spiritual idea which he embodies. Thus, we conclude that every bit of man’s spiritual success hinges on the embodiment of the Christ-idea.
The above humorous illustration may aid some who find it difficult to picture our beloved Leader losing her spiritual thought at times, being subject to disturbance, and having to request help of her students. Her ability to progress spiritually through the waters of mortal mind, did not result from any innate gift she possessed, but from her embodiment of the Christ-idea, of which she said, “Follow me only as I follow Christ.” Thus, at times, when she was tempted to believe that she had lost this spiritual guide, she would feel her thought sinking, and, accordingly, would recognize the necessity of rallying to the point of resurrecting her consciousness of the Christ.
Animal magnetism would always present the temptation to the metaphysician who had established, over a long period of time, the Christ as the “head,” in accordance with I Corinthians, to abandon this demonstration and carry on through the momentum of the past.
The fallacy of such a vain hope can be deduced from the experience of a man who owns a sailboat, but, because he does not know how to sail it, hires a skipper. What a mistake he would make, should he believe that, because he had watched the skipper sail day after day, he could discharge him and manage the boat himself! The smooth sailing was the result of the skipper’s skill, a thing which cannot be attained by observation, but requires years of experience.
Hence, those times when Mrs. Eddy was tricked out of her Christ-consciousness divulge, as nothing else could, the fact that, like the Master, she could do nothing without the Christ, but with Him all things were possible. Were it not for the recognition that even Jesus seemed to sink at times, mankind might gain the erroneous impression that he was capable of sailing his own ship without the Christ, instead of being but the humble servant of the Christ-idea, which was enthroned in his consciousness. These glorious facts are equally true when applied to our Leader.
No student can ever afford to grow careless on this point of reflecting God. Inspiration is similar to a flock of birds. Treat them with kindness and gentleness, and they remain. Frighten them, and they fly away. Mrs. Eddy respected and leaned upon the spiritual thought in her students, only when they respected and leaned upon God. A student, whose spiritual thought was of value to our Leader one day, might find himself or herself rebuked the next day for a lack of spiritual reflection.
Thus, continual watchfulness is required of the student, lest the spiritual poise of his thought be lost, and inspiration cease to flow. This statement does not mean that the spiritual equilibrium of the real man ever wavers, but it takes persistence and singleness of purpose to lift the veil that hides this fact, from the one who is functioning under the suggestion that inspiration, like the tide, ebbs and flows.