From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
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Mortal Mind and Matter Analyzed
At one time Mrs. Eddy said to a student, “If you take up arsenic, you will hit it in most of the cases in 1903.” At another time, during one of the general Watch Hours, Mrs. Eddy sent me the following directions, written in her hand-writing, covering work for Calvin Frye who was in need of help at that time: “No arsenical nor mercurial rheumatism or neuralgia; no effect of arsenic on the nerves, stomach or liver. No relapse or return of these beliefs. It does him good to work for me. This with all else that God gives, use in arguments for F.”
These instructions bring up an important and interesting point in any effort to trace Mrs. Eddy’s footsteps of thought, since this subject of arsenic appears time and time again in her history, as it did in her instructions to us. In the Lynn Reporter for June 23,1882, she stated that her husband, Dr. Eddy, had died from “arsenical poison mentally administered.” She wrote, “. . . every symptom he had can be found in medical works as occurring from doses of arsenic.”.
What is the answer to this phase of Mrs. Eddy’s teaching, which has furnished her enemies with so much to scoff at?.
Metaphysics is science that treats of the mind. Yet, the only mind there is, in reality, is the divine Mind, and the only science is Spiritual Science. In this Science, the correct application is the effort to apply the divine Mind to the so-called human mind as the human cause, and not to its grosser substratum, matter. In the realm of the human, mortal mind is that counterfeit of the divine Mind, which assumes a despotic control over the individual mind, to force it to whatever issues it desires. In this action, an important fact must be noted, namely, that the influence of this human mind is exercised largely through the grosser substratum called matter, or symbol, the objects and substances of this material existence. The Roman Catholics use a beautiful statue of the Virgin Mary, to act as a symbol, or finger, pointing to the high spiritual ideal which she exemplified; but with the passing of time, the inherent tendency to idolatry in mortal man comes to the fore, and the ideal is lost sight of. In this manner, the lifeless symbol becomes endowed with spiritual qualities which rightly belong to Mind alone, cause is lost in effect, and faith is hung on the object instead of the idea. This process is illustrative of how man has relinquished his divine rights of mind in every direction, delegating to shadow the prerogatives of substance, and then complaining at his loss of harmony and control over his destiny. An illustration of this point is the simple act of eating, where mortal mind attributes to matter, or shadow, the power to sustain man’s life and strength, a power that belongs to Mind alone. Herein is embodied the dominant error of mortal existence, that Mrs. Eddy corrects with the scientific statement of being, on page 468 of Science and Health, which begins, “There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter.” If this statement should be applied to the case of the statue of the Virgin Mary, it would be the mental effort to withdraw from the lifeless symbol all sense of significance that had been read into it, and restore to the mental ideal that which, through ignorance, had been attributed to transient clay.
Many physicians, who recommend a diet of milk to increase weight, have noted that it signally fails when the patient dislikes to drink milk. Why is this, if the milk is self-acting, apart from the mind of the patient? Mrs. Eddy has proved beyond cavil that “. . . faith in the drug is the sole factor in the cure.” (ibid., 370). To sum up this discovery, we can say that all action in the human is mind on mind; for matter, or shadow, merely offers the peg upon which thought pins its faith, much as a child needs symbols of numbers for use on the blackboard in solving mathematical problems, but which the mature scholar is able to do mentally, without the aid of such symbols.
This evolves the point, that matter is only the symbol, behind which mortal mind hides in its domination over man. Thus, when a man takes arsenic, the only effect he can possibly feel, is produced through the effect of mortal belief acting on him through his individual belief in the innate power of the drug, his faith in it, and fear of it. This mental influence, in turn, expresses itself on his body. Yet, it is a scientific fact, that the arsenic per se produces not the slightest effect. The phenomenon is wholly mental.
This advancing spiritual understanding brings to the student an increasing realization of the action and operation of thought, wholly apart from the symbol called matter. From her exalted spiritual perception, Mrs. Eddy recognized the action of mortal mind as injurious and poisonous at all times. She also saw that until man realized this, he could not free his thought to find God. In other words, thought must withdraw from the symbol, or, as the Master stated it, the mountain must be cast into the sea; the mountain standing for the objects of matter, and the sea, for mortal mind. Once the student has traced back to mortal mind as cause, then he can replace the human with the divine cause, and thus the mortal problem is solved. In this process, however, the action of mortal thought becomes more and more subtle, only because there is less and less tell-tale, or shadow, to serve as an outward indication of the true inwardness of thought. The advancing Scientist, however, is able to discern the action of thought without the tell-tale, and can direct his work to neutralize the error, even though there is no manifestation present, either as a seeming cause or effect.
Those to whom the inwardness of Science and Health is becoming more and more plain, can recognize that, in Mrs. Eddy’s statement regarding tea, coffee, alcohol, opium, on page 406, the further call is to handle the belief of mortal mind working through these human symbols. Unless the claim of mortal mind is handled, the student may find himself expressing the same symptoms as those who use these narcotics. He may believe that, because he has risen to the point where he no longer uses tobacco, coffee, etc., he has fulfilled God’s demands. He may be rudely awakened, however, to discover that he was fighting effect instead of cause, and has left the real enemy untouched.
It is a fact, that the world will acknowledge in time, that alcohol, as matter, never causes intoxication. That result always follows the action of mortal mind, or false belief, held in thought by the majority. This conception agrees with Mrs. Eddy’s statement in Miscellaneous Writings, page 48, “It is alleged that at one of his recent lectures in Boston, Mr. Carpenter made a man drunk on water, and then informed his audience that he could produce the effect of alcohol, or of any drug, on the human system, through the action of mind alone.” This makes it evident that as thought rises superior to matter, or symbol, it becomes more susceptible to recognizing how man is affected directly by mortal mind, and the symbol, or matter, is only the agent of animal magnetism, holding sway over minds which require sense evidence for conviction. As this becomes less and less necessary, mind begins to gain its freedom and discover the way of escape. But this growing freedom demands a growing protection that untutored minds know nothing about.
There is no doubt that Mrs. Eddy recognized, that the action of mortal mind on Mr. Frye came under the head of poison, and she set the students to work in this direction.
It is a temptation to believe, that back of malpractice must be a malicious sense in the mind of the individual malpracticing. Yet Christian Science shows that man is never malicious; he merely expresses that malice, or permits it to use him. Mortal mind is malicious; it is enmity against God and fights against Him with murderous attempt, which extends to fighting against those who reflect God. It works to interfere with the spiritual balance of thought in the Scientist. If it succeeds in overbalancing his thought on the side of falsity, its effect is always detrimental and poisonous. Hence, Mrs. Eddy was instructing the students to direct their effort towards destroying in Mr. Frye the action of mortal thought, expressing itself as poison.
One of the points of value in this discovery of the dominance of all action as being mental, lies in the fact that it equips man with the necessary protection against poisons of all kinds. Knowing that matter is never selfacting, and that belief is responsible for every effect supposed to proceed from it, the Scientist can free himself from the effect of mortal mind by excluding mortal mind, even if he has by mistake swallowed poison. “If they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them.” Mortal mind sets up its grosser substratum, matter, as being endowed with power, only that it may operate behind this lie, unobserved and undetected. Mrs. Eddy followed this reasoning, even to the conclusion that a leaden bullet had no power to deprive a man of Life, God. Science and Health, page 358.
What is called sense testimony, is calculated to deceive man to the point where he will admit substance to be in its shadow, cause in effect. But the Christian Scientist, in his effort to correct this error, notes the various effects matter is supposed to have on man. Then he eliminates matter from the problem, and is left dealing only and directly with mind acting on mind, and as he brings in the divine Mind, the false sense of mind is ruled out; but this can never be done as long as matter, or effect, enters into the problem, any more than a man can repair the leak in his roof, as long as he spends his time wiping up the water that drips on his floor.
From this standpoint, Christian Science calls the material body nothing, because it is nothing to try to correct, nothing to deal with, nothing to take into consideration, except as an indicator, that helps to record outwardly to man’s observation, the errors that are within his thought.
Mrs. Eddy could tell from Mr. Frye’s symptoms of depression and unconsciousness, that mortal mind was affecting him like a poison. Hence, she was able to point out the remedy; and the fact that, while I was at Pleasant View, I saw her bring him back from what seemed death, after all of her students had failed, would indicate the scientific correctness of her diagnosis.
If, through Christian Science, students have learned that the scientific method of disposing of animal magnetism is to see its nothingness, then whatever brings them up to the mental standpoint of seeing it unreal, is a blow at error. If a sentry, who has allowed his imagination to trick him, calls out that the enemy is coming, he will bring the troops into battle array as effectively as if there were a real battle. If critics should argue, that Mrs. Eddy was putting forth a call to fight windmills or imaginary errors, when she specified arsenic, they should learn that imaginary error is all man ever has to combat, no matter what the evidences may appear to be. So why look for a real error? The most that can be said about animal magnetism, as far as its power is concerned, is that it is entirely founded on imagination, its only power is imagination, and the only way it can possibly operate, is through imagination.
There are certain slang words in English which, if used among a group of men, will start a fight. We often hear such terms referred to as fighting words. Mrs. Eddy had fighting words, which were intended instantly to rouse her students to a positive effort against mortal belief. I am convinced that arsenic was one of these fighting words, and, when she gave it to us, we were supposed to recognize the need of stimulating our effort into activity, by breaking up the illusion and fear of animal magnetism.
The action of mortal belief can be roughly divided into three main heads; acting through matter, through mind without, and through mind within. In connection with arsenic, the first action would result from actually drinking a dose of it. The second would be, where you felt effects in your body which you believed could be traced to suggestion or malpractice, indulged in by others. The third would be, where your own thought should become obsessed with the fear that would manifest itself as the symptoms of poison. In Christian Science these three modes are really one, based on false belief. In one case, man must drink a potion in order to become convinced that he is poisoned. In the second case, the conviction strikes home through the belief that others are transmitting the suggestion maliciously. In the third case, man conjures up the effect through the action of his own imagination. Yet, belief causes the effects in each instance. For one to believe that another is maliciously dosing him with arsenic mentally, is valueless superstition based on fear, and is not the explanation of animal magnetism, any more than taking the actual dose into his system. We are apt to laugh, however, at the man whose thought ebbs and flows under the action of its own imagination, and feel a sympathy for the one who has swallowed the poison, but both require the same metaphysical treatment in Christian Science. It is helpful when the student is able to recognize these three phases as all coming from animal magnetism, although the first man requires tangible evidence before he will accept the belief.
The question might come up, “What if the man takes poison and does not know it?” Mrs. Eddy says on page 177 of Science and Health, “In such cases a few persons believe the potion swallowed by the patient to be harmless, but the vast majority of mankind, though they know nothing of this particular case and this special person, believe the arsenic, the strychnine, or whatever the drug used, to be poisonous, for it is set down as a poison by mortal mind. Consequently, the result is controlled by the majority of opinions, not by the infinitesimal minority of opinions in the sick-chamber.”
From the foregoing, it follows that when Mrs. Eddy specified that arsenic be taken up, she was outlining the universal process of handling all belief, and also the necessity for doing it, showing that no matter what the human evidence may be of poison or disease, it is to be handled purely as animal magnetism.
It is a generally accepted fact that the fear of disease may destroy a man, as surely as would the disease itself. So, even if an expert analysis fails to reveal the slightest trace of the disease, nevertheless the patient is not healed of that which he thinks is destroying him, if he is not convinced by this diagnosis.
Christian Science has proven that a correction of thought will heal a patient, whether the case is imaginary or based on definite symptoms. This fact indicates that the correct method of handling the effects of arsenic, whether they be mental or physical, must be by handling animal magnetism, which is always a mental rather than a physical process. A physical method of handling arsenical poisoning, where the victim has actually taken a dose, would never touch aught but such a physical case, whereas the mental method of Christian Science covers both the imaginary and the actual. The mental method is efficacious, whether you have taken it in through the mouth or the mind. This proves that the spiritual and correct method for handling every phase of disease, is to handle animal magnetism. Whether the case claims a direct physical cause, or a mental one, the healing is sure.
Thus, it can be seen that Mrs. Eddy was justified in instructing her students to work against arsenic mentally. Furthermore, where, under medicine, the type of disease must be ascertained, since different treatment is given to different types, in Christian Science the treatment for all disease is the same, namely, the bringing about of a change of thought in the patient, through the eradication of the fear and belief that man, as a child of God, can express anything that does not come from Him. Therefore, to instruct a student to work against arsenic, if he understood the true inwardness of such instruction, would be to furnish him with a strong sense of the necessity of giving his best scientific effort to the case at hand. Even if arsenic were not the right diagnosis, such a treatment would neutralize and destroy the error.
This point may be illustrated by the story of the father who stated in his will, that gold was buried on his farm. His sons, aroused by this information, dug over every inch of the property. Although they found no buried treasure, they raised such an abundant crop, because they had thoroughly spaded the field, that it brought them much gold. In like manner, the stirring of the thought, which the instruction to handle arsenic produced in the minds of the students, caused them faithfully and conscientiously to go over the whole mental ground and eradicate the mortality included in this error. This good work so purified and spiritualized their thoughts that, not only was falsity eliminated from their minds, but the soil was prepared for the reception of the spiritual idea, which is the end and aim of Christian Science.
Thus, we see that Christian Science classifies discordant effects in the human body as being produced in three distinct ways: the effects which material evidence can trace to a material cause, such as an accident, exposure, poison, etc.; the effects following the belief in the power of other minds; and, finally, the effects of selfmesmerism, which operates through individual fear and belief, thus turning so-called medical law in on one’s self.
The Christian Science practitioner, who accepts this classification in his dealing with his patients, finds himself always tending to make a definite differentiation in his application of Christian Science to these three phases of error. He is liable to feel that the first one has a purely physical cause and, therefore, that the patient must be lifted out of the belief of life, truth, intelligence, or substance in matter. In the second case, he may feel that he is somewhat out of his element, because he is dealing with unseen and unknown mental agencies. This carries a temptation for him to be afraid. Last of all, he may conclude that, because the effects of self-mesmerism indicate a sense of weak-mindedness on the part of the patient, there is no good reason why he or she does not entally rise up and throw it off. Therefore, this effort becomes the endeavor of the practitioner in this last case.
Scientific insight demands that the practitioner group these into one. He must recognize that, until the divine Mind is seen and demonstrated as supreme, the so-called human mind, which is always opposed to the divine Mind and hence, was denominated by Mrs. Eddy as animal magnetism, must be dealt with and overcome. Then, that realization will give him the right unction and stimulation to approach every human need from the same standpoint, which is to establish the kingdom of heaven on earth. As Mrs. Eddy writes, on page 427 of Science and Health, “Immortal Mind, governing all, must be acknowledged as supreme in the physical realm, so-called, as well as in the spiritual.” Each case that comes to the practitioner will thus be a call to arms, because it indicates that the human mind is endeavoring to supersede the divine Mind, when it should be eliminated and forced to give up its false claims, because the effect of mortal mind is always the action of poison in some form.
Understanding the call of our Leader to take up arsenic, represents a priceless teaching, intended to unify all methods of handling the claim of error. It avoids the danger either of believing that, because a disease has a cause that is tangible, it must be dealt with from that basis, or that, because it comes through malpractice or self-mesmerism, it requires a different handling. In Mrs. Eddy’s call to take up arsenic from the mental standpoint, she indicated the cause of all erroneous effects as being animal magnetism. To the Christian Scientist, this recognition always demands authoritative handling of it. Mrs. Eddy once said, “It is not enough to smile and look pleasant when talking to the devil; speak with authority, stamp your foot if necessary, and command it to come out of him as Jesus did.”
Corroborating this thought is Ezekiel 6:11, “Thus saith the Lord God; Smite with thine hand, and stamp with thy foot . . . ,” which symbolizes the destruction of error’s power and its entire elimination. It is similar to blowing out a match and then grinding it to bits under your heel, which, in the case of error, would represent its reduction to dust, or nothingness. Smiting with the hand would refer to driving your way through the claim of animal magnetism by spiritual power, in order to take away its claim of power. Stamping with the foot is the accentuation of determination, whereby understanding is resolved into demonstration, and the error is destroyed. Smiting with the hand is the use of spiritual power to destroy the power of the human opposition, that would attempt to interfere with spiritual growth. Stamping with the foot is the effective use of understanding, which eliminates the so-called existence of any power apart from God. It is destroying the seeming power of animal magnetism, and also the belief in its existence, through an aggressive application of spiritual power.
In Psalms 63:8, David says, “My soul followeth hard after thee.” This statement implies that God is in motion, and man must run hard to catch up with Him, a thing which would be contrary to fact. Perhaps David had in mind some spiritual method, whereby man is urged to exert his highest and best spiritual effort. In whippet races, artificial rabbits are used, which can be sent down the track by electrical control. The purpose of this is to call forth from the dogs their utmost speed and effort.
Mrs. Eddy used her teaching in regard to the handling of arsenic and animal magnetism in a similar way, calling from the students their immediate, aggressive and finest spiritual endeavor. She knew that the human mind must be stirred to its highest point of activity, in order that it may be thrown off, and a spiritual activity take its place. She devised many ways to do this, in order to draw forth from students the last ounce of effort needed.
No one could criticise Mrs. Eddy’s methods, since they bore such glorious fruitage. She perceived the necessity of the student overcoming the human tendency to laziness, which otherwise might stupefy him into yielding to animal magnetism and its lies. She adopted a standard in her home so high, that there were those who called it unnecessary fussiness. Nevertheless, she set the goal high intentionally, so that it could be fulfilled only through demonstration. Such a move was spiritually wise, because it brought forth from the students their best efforts, and kept them on their toes. Its fruitage was made manifest in their demonstrations.
Paul used this same method of endeavoring to bring out a present, instead of a delayed effort, when he wrote, “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation,” meaning thereby, that now was the only time in which to find God, so man must act quickly. This buglecall to activity is necessary to rouse students from a lethargic putting off of the right effort into some future time.