From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
Receiving Truth from the Divine Source
An interesting question grows out of the fact that the Old Testament records that the Lord rained manna from heaven for the Children of Israel. Notwithstanding this fact, the Master plainly states that Moses gave them not that true bread from heaven. Which record is true?
Surely, the spiritual inspiration and guidance that Moses received, came down from heaven. Nevertheless, it was his demonstration that provided the manna for the others. Hence, to them it was an influx that came not through their own demonstration, but through that of Moses. Strictly speaking, it did not come down from heaven, but came through Moses, much as a healing in Christian Science does not come down from heaven to the patient directly, but comes indirectly through the thought of the practitioner. It is the difference between the light of the sun coming to earth directly, or being reflected by the moon as a secondary light.
Following the logic of this reasoning, we must conclude that Moses did not give them the true bread from heaven. In truth, no one can give another the true bread from heaven, since only that which is the fruit of one’s individual demonstration is true bread from heaven, that which flows directly from God to man.
Similarly, Mrs. Eddy demonstrated the true bread from heaven; she learned how to be taught of God, and receive the influx of revelation directly from the divine Mind. Although Mrs. Eddy has left this vast spiritual esource for our partaking, yet, to us, it is not the true bread from heaven as long as we are content to feed on her inspiration. The bread that cometh down from heaven is our true bread, when we gain the ability that Mrs. Eddy had and taught, namely, to reflect this inspiration directly from its divine source.
One great difference between our Leader and Moses was that, whereas Moses knew how to reflect this divine inpouring, he did not teach the method to others. (Perhaps the reason for this oversight may be traced to Moses’ inability to impart the process.) Mrs. Eddy not only reflected this heavenly essence of good, but she recorded the rules for so doing, that all who run may read and follow.
It is one thing to drink of the living water furnished by one spiritually endowed, and another to gain for one’s self the understanding of how to gain that living water. Yet, no one is a true Christian Scientist until he makes this demonstration. No one can call himself Mrs. Eddy’s true follower, merely because he or she appreciates and partakes of the living water she has furnished. “Go, and do thou likewise,” is the demand of infinite Love. Each pilgrim must go to the Father, in order to do those greater works to which Jesus referred.
Any branch church of Christ, Scientist, will suffer a loss in spirituality, if the membership permits itself to allow one spiritually-minded student to carry the burden of demonstration. False peace may be the outward sign of this loss of demonstration; but such a situation stifles individual growth, and is really the blind leading the blind, where the one who leads and those who follow, are blind to the seriousness of the situation.
One of the most vital things that the Children of Israel should have been told was, that simply following Moses did not make them the promised children. Yet, they were the most spiritually-minded people on earth at that time. Only as they gained the understanding of how to draw their spiritual sustenance directly from divine Mind, could they claim to be the children of the promise. Still, the Master, by his request of the woman of Samaria at the well of Sychar, implied that another might go to the divine source and give him living water. He said, “Give me to drink.”
What a glad surprise and yet, a shock, it must have been to this member of a despised race to have had the Master, a Jew, one of the chosen race, thus call upon her for such service. But the Master knew, that whatever comes from God can feed another, even if the latter might be the most spiritually endowed mortal on earth. Although Jesus recognized the spiritual possibility of everyone’s going to the divine source and feeding another, he taught that the highest and most important demonstration is learning to draw from the well of inspiration for one’s self.
Christian Science unfolds the fact, that for one to harbor the self-depreciating thought of himself as a mortal, especially when that includes membership in a despised race, would be an effective barrier to his recognition of himself as a son of God. Thus, it was a true healing thought for Jesus to imply that she could perform a service for him. The drink of cool water was symbolic of the possibility of her being a channel to him for spiritual good. A realization of these facts would be an effective neutralizer to aid in restoring her spiritual ‘amour propre.’
The possibility is evident of one who is spiritually advanced, reaching the point where he might feel that if he got into trouble, he would have difficulty finding another to help him. Such a situation might bring a feeling of isolation, as if, at a time when thought became clouded, so that the student could not break through to.
I speak of this, because there were nights when our Leader would call different members of her household to her room to help her, to give her to drink of the living water, to lift her out of a sense of depression and fear. Think how it affected us, thus to be called by the one we knew to be so spiritually great. We felt as the woman of Samaria must have, a glad surprise to be summoned, and yet, a great consciousness of the spiritual distance that lay between the humble disciple and the one so spiritually advanced. Nevertheless, through scientific argument would come the restoration of her faith and trust.
When a bird, accustomed to soar in the upper reaches of the air, flies by mistake into a narrow room, it becomes confused and fearful. It flies around and around the room, beating its wings against the walls, in a vain search for liberty. Finally, it becomes so exhausted, that it permits you to pick it up and release it through the open window. The moment it feels its accustomed freedom, its strength returns, and it wings its way skyward. Thus, thought that is accustomed to the spiritual freedom of right thinking, becomes bewildered when it is forced into the narrow confines of the thought of self.
In this manner, I would diagnose our Leader’s experience. When her thought was released from this unaccustomed sense of self, it would soar again into the spiritual reaches where it was at home.
Through audible argument, we would assure her that because she was the servant of God, and called of God to do His work, that God would take care of her, protect her and hold her safe until that work was completed. We would assert, that there was no power that could claim to stand before the power of God that filled all space, nor was here any delusion of fear, that could rob her of the recognition that the all-pervading, all-sustaining consciousness of God was caring for all, especially those called according to His purpose.
The metaphysician is accustomed to dwell in a consciousness of spiritual and mental freedom. When he loses that, his thought becomes bewildered in the narrow confines of fear and limitation; but the moment he is led out, he recognizes it and is all right. Such was our Leader’s experience.
Hence, referring to the incident with the woman of Samaria, we perceive that Jesus disclosed the wonderful lesson, that at any time in our human experience, no matter how far advanced we may be spiritually, we can receive help from God through those to whom we apply; and the humblest thought can be this channel, if, in some degree, it is spiritually attuned. Thus, like the Master, Mrs. Eddy was willing to ask spiritual drink of a humble one, when she was spiritually thirsty. It is probable that the Master was not in need of a spiritual touch from this woman, but it was necessary that he ask her, in order to set forth the lesson, and thereby, encourage the sweet and simple thought by revealing its possibilities as a channel for good.