From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
Mrs. Eddy’s Standard Was Divine Thinking
In Isaiah 41, we find the promise of a new, sharp, threshing instrument, a prophecy which has an interesting fulfillment in the case of Mrs. Eddy. The threshing instrument was used in those days to separate the chaff from the wheat. In the experience of the beginner in Christian Science, this separation is applied to the right and wrong thoughts in his consciousness. What possible ideal can lie beyond that of separating between good thoughts and evil thoughts? Why does the Bible mention a new, sharp, threshing instrument as a necessity in the course of man’s spiritual growth? Does not such an instrument become a requirement, when the student discovers that his old sense of separation was based on his conception of good and evil thoughts, a conception which was, to a large extent, furnished by human education, religion, and civilization? In other words, the young student of Christian Science has little knowledge of right thinking, where that term means spiritual thinking. It requires great growth to take him beyond the standpoint of the old threshing instrument, which separates between good and evil thoughts, according to a standard that is tinged with the human.
To be sure, this standard is necessary up to a certain point of growth. But the time comes, when the new threshing instrument becomes vital to the student’s hopes for further spiritual advancement. It is a separator, not between thoughts which seem right and wrong to human sense, but between those thoughts which come from the human mind and those which come from the divine Mind. It is the separation between human thinking and divine thinking, where human thinking is not evil because it seems evil to human sense, but because it has an evil origin, namely the human mind. This includes human thoughts which not only seem harmless, but which the world would commend as being of the highest order. Nevertheless, in Science, such thoughts must be rejected, just as money which comes as a political bribe must be rejected, not because of its evident badness, but because of the nature of its origin.
This leads up to the point that, at times, Mrs. Eddy rebuked the students for wrong thinking, when from the standpoint of the old threshing instrument, they could find no evil thinking in their hearts. It was at this stage of growth, that it became necessary for them to learn that Mrs. Eddy’s standard was divine thinking, not human; that to her, any thinking that was human was evil. This accounts for the fact, that she laid so much stress on the uncovering of animal magnetism, an uncovering necessary in order to expose the error involved in human thinking, which, per se, carried no evidence of its human, or evil, source. Yet, such human thinking indulged in by her students, even thinking that seemed harmless, loving, or kind, interfered with her work, at times even produced suffering. Thus, her requirement was that the students stop their wrong thinking, where wrong meant human. To her, right thinking meant thinking entirely divorced from the human. This was the new, sharp, threshing instrument, having teeth, which detected in human complacence and contentment, a state of drunkenness, that exposed its human origin, and stamped it as an enemy of the spiritual idea.
Further light on this point may be gained through this simple illustration. Let us assume that a screw is countersunk in wood, with the hole over the screw filled with putty to hide the head of the screw. Let the screw illustrate man’s unconscious thought, bound by belief to matter, the space above the screw for man’s conscious thought, and the screwdriver for the action of the divine Mind, that would act to release man from this bondage to mortal belief. It is obvious that before this release can function, man’s conscious thought must be emptied of every deterrent that would fill it, and thereby exclude the possible action of the divine Mind in bringing about man’s release. Then, what difference does it make, what fills the space above the screw, either deadly poison or solid gold? Both exclude the screwdriver, and must be eliminated. The only point involved, is that one would be far more ready to work to eliminate, or expel, the poison from the aperture, than the solid gold, because one is manifestly bad and the other apparently good. Nevertheless, from Mrs. Eddy’s standpoint, whatever filled conscious thought to the exclusion of the divine Mind, was a definite enemy, to be handled as animal magnetism, whether it appeared as some aggressive phase of poisonous evil, or the gold of human thought, that seemed harmless, and even good, so that no one without spiritual perception would accept for one moment the proposition that he was harboring a Judas, that effectually excluded the possibility of divine help, in releasing him from human bondage.