From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
Mrs. Eddy’s Unconquerable Determination
Mrs. Eddy was able to detect spiritually the mental atmosphere that was given out by any student. Yet, because it is possible for this atmosphere to becloud another’s spiritual sense, while the student himself feels contented amidst a false peace, this circumstance makes it difficult to unfold to such a one that his or her mental atmosphere is not scientific. It is inevitable, however, that such a thought, handled by animal magnetism, will give some outward indication of its inward mental lack. Hence, Mrs. Eddy watched for such indications, and used them as object lessons to prove to the student that his or her thought was not where it belonged, even though he or she seemed to feel a sense of peace at the time. This teaching was often misunderstood, because it is difficult, at such times, to convince one that the outward act is an error, when it is prompted by love, especially if it be the most unselfish human love.
To be specific, misplacing a chair so that another tripped over it, would be recognized as an error. If no one fell over it, however, the error might go undetected. Yet, to Mrs. Eddy, the misplaced chair was an error, regardless of what happened, because it was the outward expression of human thinking. Much of her important teaching embodied as a text the little events in the home, things done from the standpoint of a thought that was humanly balanced; for they offered an occasion to give a deserved rebuke, and to point to the necessity of broadening one’s demonstration to cover the minutiae that, of a truth, represent error’s strongest hold upon man, because of his unconsciousness of their binding power.
It need not be supposed, that Mrs. Eddy’s attitude toward mortal existence can be gleaned from a casual reading of these pages. It was revealed to her, that the domination of man by mortal belief, or animal magnetism, always spelled disintegration, disease, lack, suffering, death. She also knew that, through the claim of reversal, mortal man was brought under a mesmerism that made him believe himself to be healthy, wealthy, happy, and free. This reasoning leads to the conclusion that a man who is spiritually sick and poor, and who imagines himself to be in just the opposite condition, must have his eyes opened, before he will take the first step out of such a miserable condition. That is, he must advance from the counterfeit to the opposite, before it is possible for him to gain the genuine. This statement is based on the fact, that if Truth is the real or genuine, then error is Truth’s opposite. But, in order to pass as genuine, error, the opposite, dresses up to mimic or counterfeit Truth. Error must be stripped of this counterfeit dress and exposed as the opposite of the real, before man will turn away from the unreal and seek the real.
Mrs. Eddy saw Truth coming to mortal man and saying in the words of Revelation 3:17, “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich.” She perceived that, when Job thought he was rich and healthy, with many friends and a large family, in reality, he was sick and poor, and friendless, because he was under the domination of mortal belief. Therefore, when the accusation comes that God sent him sickness and lack and loneliness, the answer comes back, “Lay not this charge at the door of God.” Job was already in that condition, but, through mesmerism, his eyes were holden, so he did not realize it. Truth came only to open his eyes to his real condition. The torment resulted from his discovery of how he had been fooled.
This chain of logic gives a clearer understanding of sickness, when Mrs. Eddy describes it as being “the schoolmaster, leading you to Christ.” Rudimental Divine Science, page 11. It shows that before man will progress spiritually, he must see that animal magnetism is not part good and part bad, but all bad. Then, he must have some indication of the iron hand of mortal belief, encased in the velvet glove of human harmony. Like a slave to some foreign monarch, who does not realize he is a slave because of the luxury and ease of the court, he must have some indication of his servitude and bondage, before he is awakened to the need of making his escape. Similarly, in this human experience, sickness is often the first step in removing from the domination of animal magnetism, the mesmerism that causes man to believe that there is anything of harmony, or good, ever to be found in existence on a material basis. No government by animal magnetism, no matter how harmonious its present effects may seem to be, is aught but dangerous to man’s peace of mind, his sense of life and his spiritual attainments.
Mrs. Eddy knew that this knowledge was the beginning of wisdom for man. Unless the reader comprehends this logic, he will fail to perceive why it was that, when her students were experiencing discord, she was not troubled. When they relaxed into a sense of human peace, however, she knew it to be a “peace, peace, where there is no peace.” She recognized it as the one danger in their path, as one gathers from her statement in Miscellaneous Writings, page 9, “A false sense of what constitutes happiness is more disastrous to human progress than all that an enemy or enmity can obtrude upon the mind or engraft upon its purposes and achievements wherewith to obstruct life’s joys and enhance its sorrows.”
She knew animal magnetism to be the avowed enemy of God and of all of His children. Hence, a state of peaceful and quiescent resignation to its domination is far more deleterious than the discomfort that rouses man to protest and rise in rebellion. If the purpose of animal magnetism is to attempt to rule God out of man, and to prevent man from returning to the Father’s house, then it has no phase that does not call for a scientific protest from the student of Christian Science. The very day mortal man is born, he begins to die. His whole mortal existence is like a charge of dynamite with a slow-burning fuse, timed to twenty, fifty, or eighty years. From this unfoldment, it is seen how all mortal existence is, in reality, a state of sickness. However, this slow disintegration is more or less hidden from man’s eyes, until, suddenly, man finds himself at the end of life and health.
Can we not see the priceless wonder of Mrs. Eddy’s revelation, through which man’s eyes are opened to these vital facts, even though, in the beginning, this awakening be to show man that he is sick, although no sicker than he has always been, and under the control of mortal mind! Thus man, when he recognizes the uncovering that sickness brings, is able to take advantage of it, to seek and find the only true sense of life and health, which alone can be found under the government of the divine Mind.
Man will never lay up treasure in heaven, so long as he believes that he has ample treasure on earth. He will never seek the true sense of health, so long as he believes that he has it in matter. Therefore, we must conclude that the greatest enemy of man’s spiritual growth is that human harmony and peace, which causes man to believe that he does not need recourse to the divine, because he already has all that he needs. Under this mesmerism, man is preyed upon by a human destiny that marks him for death and extinction, which is covered up under an illusion of physical health and prosperity, an illusion that is really a condition of sickness and lack. The opposite is camouflaged to appear genuine. Job had no spiritual growth under this delusion of health and prosperity, until Truth unfolded to him how poor and sick he really was. Thus was he driven to seek his true sense of family, money, friends, and health in God.
The argument thus far contends that the mesmerism of human harmony keeps man unconscious of his bondage, and that the uncovering of this mesmerism through Christian Science makes him conscious of it. He then sees the counterfeit to be what it really is, the opposite of the real. At that point, he should not desire to go back and let that mesmerism once more possess him, but to look things squarely in the face, and develop that spiritual understanding which will lead him to his freedom.
Let the one who would criticise one single thought or experience in our Leader’s life, ask himself, have I gained the mental and spiritual height that enables me to judge of such matters? Then, if he has not, let him refrain from criticism. Animal magnetism does not want to be uncovered. The knowledge of this fact alone should give some insight into the life of the one who does it successfully. “Uncover error, and it turns the lie upon you,” is our Leader’s prophecy, born of her own sad experience, concerning those whose good would be evil spoken of. Science and Health, page 92.
A young trotting horse with high spirits is apt to break into a run because it chafes at the slower pace. Once it is disciplined, however, it makes a better trotter than a slower horse that never breaks.
When Mrs. Eddy once put her hand to the plough, she never looked back. She became animated by a potent, unconquerable determination to accomplish whatever God directed her to. How fortunate, that a pure and unselfish motive actuated her! She sought neither riches nor worldly emoluments. She discovered the way to heaven, and ever after that her one desire was to present her discovery to the world. Before this determination was wholly tempered by experience and divine wisdom, she never lost sight of her objective. Her entire history proves that she felt no sacrifice was too great to make in her resolve to let no obstacle detain her. She had a quality of forward marching, which sprang from an unusually active mind, and which, when put under the control of divine Love, made her the great spiritual Leader of this age. Experience taught her, however, that she could not, by running, win the race and bequeath the prize to the world. It took many heartbreaking experiences to awaken her to the realization, that the goal can never be compassed by determination alone, but by a determination that is under the guidance of divine wisdom, and hence is willing and able to detect the hidden foe.
Mrs. Eddy undeniably found other individuals with some truth, but the question was, what were they doing with it? Was it not dying on their hands? If she appropriated any of it, might not God have directed her to take what they had, and glorify it into a working principle for humanity by infusing it with inspiration?
She found others bent on strewing her path with thorns in an endeavor to block her. No doubt she was greatly tempted to use any means to render abortive such attempts to stop her from giving to the world her great blessing.
At this stage, her demonstration brought the divine Mind into the picture, thereby making possible the attainment of her desire. With the entrance of Spirit, began the refinement of her human will, its eventual elimination, and its replacement with the divine will, that needs no questionable aggressive human methods in order to accomplish its purposes. Now dawned the realization, that those things which appeared to be obstacles, could be transformed into divine aids. Thus her position resembled that of the man in the pit, who, instead of throwing back the rocks which were hurled at him, constructed them into steps leading out of the pit. No doubt she was tempted to use any means to silence those who misrepresented and persecuted her, until wisdom instructed her how to make them serve the ends of Truth.
Mrs. Eddy had an unconquerable determination to bend her human will toward giving to humanity that which would save it from the domination of animal magnetism, and bring it the peace of God. Further spiritual growth brought an influx of divine power that tempered this purpose with divine Love, and changed the human will into the will of God. At that point, wisdom taught her how to love her enemies, and not imagine that they constituted an irresistible opposition to the establishment of what she felt she must give to the world, but to prove them to be aids to spiritual attainment.
Thus she found that, instead of destroying the obstacles, she could render them harmless and then cause them to become stepping-stones in the attaining of her objective. With the Master, the crucifixion was the stepping-stone which elevated him sufficiently to make his great and final demonstration over death. He did not fight his enemies, but used them by translating them into steps to heaven.
Mrs. Eddy learned this greatest of lessons for the pioneer, without which the value of opposition and persecution is never appreciated. She found her highest spiritual progress, when she discovered that the process of blessing her enemies was the divine method of changing the hatred of her foes into a ladder, up which she could climb, thereby fulfilling the Biblical saying, “I make thine enemies thy foot-stool.”
From the preceding discourse, we learn that the problem of how to handle animal magnetism is of the utmost importance to the Christian Scientist. The situation is similar to that of cattle seeking pasture in a desert, whose only vegetation is cactus plants, which, if eaten, cause death. Then a process is discovered which makes the cactus plant edible to cattle. Hence, instead of being an enemy that destroys life, this plant is transformed into that which makes life possible on the desert. Thus the desert is rendered harmless.
Mrs. Eddy learned how to handle the cactus of hatred, so that the desert of mortal mind was turned into that which sustained her, and furnished her with that which enabled her to traverse the desert and enter the kingdom.