From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
Click here to play the audio as you read:
Mr. Carpenter’s Experience at Pleasant View
The entire effort made at Pleasant View under the direction of our Leader, was to introduce into human thought the divine power. It was the first consideration, and under her instruction, direction and example, we all labored unceasingly for this end. For two years, before I received the call to serve our Leader in her home, whenever I turned my thought toward Pleasant View, with a desire to aid her in the unselfish work of leavening the thought of the world with Truth, it was always uplifted and received inspiration. I speak of this matter, because, when I was notified by the Board of Directors in March, 1905, to go to Pleasant View, it seemed but another step in a demonstration that had led me, each evening, to walk up to a high terrace near my home, and attempt to mingle my thought in love and helpfulness with her effort to call down from on high those spiritual blessings, which were for the feeding of humanity.
Before Christian Science healed me in 1894, I was almost a chronic sufferer with a claim of nervous indigestion, which would keep me at home on the slightest provocation. Therefore, it is natural that the first thought that came to me after I had arrived at Pleasant View, was in connection with my health. Involuntarily, the thought awakened in me that, no matter what the physical manifestation might be, I should never take the time to treat myself. I realized that if I did, error might use that means to keep me perpetually at work to maintain my physical harmony, with the result that my work for our Leader and the Cause would suffer. I then realized that I must meet this suggestion by refusing to acknowledge its necessity.
After I had been in the home for about ten days, the thought struck me, what shall I do if I fall ill? The rest of the household have their work to do, and I am sure I cannot ask Mrs. Eddy for help. Furthermore, no-one is called to this home, until he has proved his ability to demonstrate his health through his understanding of Christian Science.
I opened my thought to God for guidance on this point, with the question in my mind, “What causes disease? What causes the human manifestation that is commonly called sickness?” The answer came right back to me, “Truth causes disease.” I mention this matter, because this answer was entirely contrary to everything I had ever learned in Christian Science. Hence, I knew that the reply had not been evolved from my own thinking. Therefore, it came either through divine Mind or animal magnetism.
When the true spiritual inwardness of this answer was made plain to me, I perceived that I had received a revelation from God. The experience was fraught with blessing, and through it, I tasted for the first time what it meant to live in a demonstrated atmosphere maintained by our Leader, and also, the ease with which divine unfoldments would flow into man, when the obstructions of animal magnetism were rightly handled.
From that day to this, I have never doubted the scientific correctness of this revelation, that Truth was the cause of disease. My first step in understanding such a cryptic and apparently unscientific statement, was to visualize a small brook running down a mountain, gathering impurities on its way. Yet, the stream remains sweet and pure until it becomes dammed, with the impurities collected in a stagnated place to form a plague spot. The dam must be broken, therefore, in order that this unhealthy condition may be eliminated, and the primitive purity restored to the little brook.
Next, I saw an electric current harmoniously and uninterruptedly flowing over a wire, carrying to countless homes the benefits of light, heat and power. But the wire breaks, and at the break appears burning, flashing and destruction. When, however, the break in the wire is repaired, this discord disappears.
Now the lesson was clear to me. As man attains a knowledge of Truth, he becomes a channel through which the unbroken power of infinite good flows out to the universe. This idea is clearly elucidated in Zechariah 4, where God’s anointed ones are pictured as emptying the golden oil out of themselves through the golden pipes. Mrs. Eddy employs the illustration of mortals as windowpanes, being the channels through which the light passes. This divine essence not only blesses humanity, but it sustains the channel through which it flows.
When, however, in the temptations of this mortal dream, man turns his thought in to himself, he produces thereby a belief of interruption of this divine power; then stagnation, inflammation, congestion and destruction result. Furthermore, the greater man’s demonstration has been to open his thought to reflect and transmit the divine power, the greater the belief of discord, when that power is misused by being turned into man.
Thus, it is plain that the only remedy would be to be “absent from the body and present with the Lord,” or, as Mrs. Eddy expresses it in Science and Health, page 261, “We should forget our bodies in remembering good and the human race.” This reasoning throws light on Job 42:10, where we can deduce that Job’s troubles were due to an inturned thought, since it reads, “And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends.”
If one asks, how this discussion unfolds the fact that Truth causes the physical manifestation called disease, I would respond by requesting him to answer this question: Would he deny, that the electric power produced the burning and flashing at the ends of the broken wire? It is self-evident that, without the electricity, the broken wire would have been nothing of any serious nature. The electric power did not produce the break in the wire, to be sure, but it caused the attendant manifestation. It is obvious, that Christian Science does not teach that Truth causes the belief of a sickly condition of in-turned thought in mortal man, but, because such a selfish mental condition represents an interruption in man’s reflection of the divine power, that divine power is distorted into inharmony and discord, just as the smooth-flowing electricity is transformed into a destructive condition. This view corresponds with Mrs. Eddy’s statement in Science and Health, page 404, “The healthy sinner is the hardened sinner,” where sin is gauged by the degree to which man has shut his thought to the reflection of Truth. The more Truth a man reflects, the more he suffers when he turns his thought in. But, when thought is once more turned out, the restoration of harmony is immediate.
So, to state the revelation in a more understandable way, I would say that God never makes man sick, or produces sickness, since sickness is an error of mortal belief, or sickly thinking. But the action of Truth results in sickness, in the sense that it brings error to the surface. Human thinking is sickly thinking. The next point is, that animal magnetism covers over this sickly thinking with a deception of human harmony. Next Truth comes, removes the deception, and brings out the phenomenon of Truth apparently causing sickness, where before there was seeming harmony. Yet the sickly cause was there, and Truth merely brought it to the surface, much as the developing fluid in photography brings out some hideous picture on a plate, that before was invisible. The picture was there, but not visible.
As further proof of the divine nature of this revelation, I will relate the circumstances connected with the first time I fell ill, while at Pleasant View. Remembering the above revelation, I resolved to test it out. I sat down by the window, and let my thought go out in prayer to all the sufferers in the world in hospitals; in sick rooms; those condemned under the classification, incurable; those without knowledge of the presence of God to care for them; to bring them the truth, that there is no incurable disease and that, even though they did not know it, they do have a heavenly Father who is the great Physician, who “healeth all thy diseases.” I let my thought issue forth to all who needed God, with the true realization of the God that is all-presence, all-power and Love. When I returned from this mental journey, I found myself well. Through this process, I restored my thought to being a channel for good, and thereby eliminated the ill effects, which were the outward proof of an in-turned thought. During the year I was at Pleasant View, this divine mode of effort, which I believe was God-inspired, never failed me.
I include this unfoldment in these pages, because it reveals that Mrs. Eddy maintained such a spiritually ascending thought in her home, that it aided her students in receiving spiritual revelation and inspiration through unfoldment.