Idealism and Realism
From Addresses by Martha Wilcox
Click here to play the audio as you read:
Before taking up the subject of “Idealism and Realism” I wish to speak of a vital point that will help us to meet our so-called human needs, whether the need is health, a home, a position, or tax money. It is most vital that we clearly understand that all ideas appearing in our human mind are not just mere ideas, but are eternal facts; and we should know and understand these ideas as infinite, eternal facts at hand.
There is only one Mind, and God or Mind expresses His own infinite Being as ideas. These ideas are real and tangible. They are the only things at hand. Everything that exists, everything that is good and useful and natural to human existence, exists as a divine idea. It is a divine fact or entity, and is complete and finished, and is always at hand.
Error would always keep us having two, a divine idea and a human concept about the divine idea. But we are learning that the human concept or material thing is merely our imperfect apprehension of the divine idea or the only fact at hand. Mind evolves its own perfect ideas and their corresponding identities, and if my human sense calls these divine ideas a tree, a heart, a stomach, a house, the tax money, or a person, it makes no difference how they appear, the idea remains forever a divine fact at hand, perfect, immortal, and infinite as divine Mind. They are the phenomena of my spiritual consciousness and my own self.
If we wish to experience these divine ideas in forms that will meet our need, we must understand that each one of us is consciously this infinite compound of divine ideas. In the ratio that we understand that divine ideas have their source in divine Mind and are man, all human limitations will disappear.
Idealism and Realism
We hear much these days about “idealism and realism.” It is easy for a Christian Scientist to be an idealist. And if our ideals have sufficient realization to control our conduct, then we are not only an idealist, but are also a realist. When our idealism controls our conduct, it becomes realism.
We are idealists when we are devoted to good and right ideas, but devoted to ideas that to us are as yet unrealized thought, mere theories, intangible things, ideas that have not as yet been wrought out in life practice. We are idealists only because we do not clearly understand that all divine ideas are tangible things, eternal facts at hand.
Christian Scientists Should Be Realists
As Christian Scientists we should all be realists; that is, we should be devoted to ideas, and at the same time understand that all divine ideas are eternal facts at hand. We should clearly understand that all ideas within our mind are already realities, or eternal facts, and we should establish these ideas as facts in our thinking. And while these facts may not be fully embodied in our mind, we should see to it that they are in the process of being embodied in our mind, and embodied as facts. It is only when these ideas become realized thought, or visible, tangible facts that we can be called realists.
Accumulation of Metaphysical Ideas
As Christian Scientists we have a vast accumulation of metaphysical ideas: good ideas, wonderful ideas. We affirm these ideas and sometimes even exploit them; but much of the time they remain mere abstract ideas in our thought. Many of us build up a world of metaphysical ideas, and still live in a world of unrealized thought. Why is this so? It is because we desire to escape the so-called problems of life, rather than work out the facts of life, and we take refuge in these metaphysical ideas in order to avoid our so-called problems.
There are no problems for us to escape from. The seeming problem is our imperfect apprehension of an actuality at hand. We have permitted our thought to dwell on this imperfect apprehension, have accepted it as a reality, called it a problem, and then resisted it. We should realize that all so-called problems are some reality of Being at hand seen in reversion; and when we work out the so-called problem, we find a reality and reap a rich blessing of fact.
Many of us iterate and reiterate statements of Truth, profound ideas, and think this reiteration will do for us what we must do for ourselves; that is, live these ideas out into facts or concrete experiences. The repetition of ideas as mere abstract ideas acts upon the human mind as a mental narcotic, and weakens our power to demonstrate. This mere repetition of ideas has a tendency to make a weak student, instead of a strong one. We can repeat the Scientific Statement of Being, the greatest statement of metaphysical fact, until it becomes a mere verbal statement, instead of a vital fact of power.
Since we are the infinite compound idea of Mind, it is quite right for us to possess an immeasurable number of metaphysical ideas. It is God-like to have these ideas. But since the compound idea, man, is constituted of living, conscious ideas or facts, then it is quite logical that we should maintain all ideas as living conscious facts, and not as mere abstract ideas.
Jesus Was a Realist
Jesus was a realist. He possessed a wealth of ideas, but his ideas were to him living, conscious, concrete facts. When Jesus said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you,” he did not mean that the Kingdom was just a beautiful theory. Jesus meant that the Kingdom of Heaven is in us now, as a living conscious fact, and that we are to acknowledge this unseen fact, and identify it concretely. Jesus showed forth the Kingdom. He was the embodiment or the fulfillment of the fact of the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Word Made Flesh
Jesus did not just express theories about life, he showed forth life, out of Life, Itself. Jesus’ words and deeds were a unit. They were the “Word made flesh.” Jesus answered the needs of the people not only with the verbal statement of Truth, but with the demonstration or proof of present, concrete facts at hand.
When the idea, life, was present in the consciousness of Jesus, the concrete evidence, or the facts of Life were coincidentally present, so that he could say, “She is not dead, but sleepeth.” And when the idea, money, appeared as his consciousness, the concrete fact which is eternally the idea, instantly appeared as the tax money.
Idealism in any subject never answers the need of the people, and it will be a great step in growth when the inoperative idealism in Christianity is cleared away. Mrs. Eddy writes, “Truth talked and not lived, rolls on the human heart a stone;” (Mis. 293:27). We should give evidence of divine facts. Are we giving proof or evidence to the world that our bodies, our environments, all circumstances and events connected with our lives, are divine facts at hand? It is our duty to present the concrete proof or evidence to the world, in order that the world may understand the spiritual facts of Life. We must give the so-called material evidence to the world, since it is only the material evidence that mortal mind can understand. The Word or idea must be in evidence in the highest visible form that the human being can comprehend.
Improved Material Conditions
To the world, the proof or evidence appears as improved material conditions, but to us who make the demonstration, the evidence is mental and spiritual. To us, the evidence may appear as a better body, or a better business, but we understand that the evidence is our spiritual discernment that ideas are divine facts. Our idealism has become realism, and the proof or evidence is the result of our mental and spiritual processes through which the Word becomes flesh.
Only that is really ours that we gain from the unfoldment of truth or true ideas within ourselves. There is too much of reaching out to the external for ideas, instead of letting true ideas unfold from within. Let the marvelous truths or ideas in your textbook and your Quarterly Lessons unfold to you and demonstrate them.
Reflect genuine joy and gladness and satisfaction in your daily living, “Joy in the Lord.” The unfolding of true ideas within is your strength and aids you in doing for mankind whatever is necessary to be done.