From Addresses by Martha Wilcox
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Association Meeting 1935
Our next subject is Scientific Translations; and this subject should be understood by every Christian Scientist. In dealing with matter, the student is often confused in regard to the method he should use. He does not understand how to deal with the so-called material man and the objects of the material universe.
In the very beginning of his study of metaphysics, the student learns from his textbook that he is to “exclude matter” (S&H 123:13) from his thinking; he learns that “in Christian Science the nothingness of matter is to be recognized,” and he learns that “every object in material thought will be destroyed.” (S&H 267:1)
The student’s belief that material man and the material universe is to be destroyed, often according to the accepted meaning of destruction, seems to create an antagonism against Christian Science, and a reluctance to conform to the requirements for growth, as set forth in the Christian Science textbook, because he feels that he, with all his seeming pleasure, will be annihilated.
But as the student progresses in his study, he learns that what we call material man and the material universe is to give place to their spiritual fact by translating material man and the material universe back into Spirit. (S&H 209:16) In Miscellaneous Writings, Mrs. Eddy makes the following statement, “Science, understood, translates matter into Mind.” (25:12) And Mind is here written with a capital “M,” meaning Spirit.
From these references, we see that the purpose of Christian Science is to translate matter into Mind, or Spirit. According to the dictionary, “Translation” means to repeat or to carry forward one mode of expression into a better or higher mode of expression. For instance, the translation of Greek into English, is the interpretation of the mode of language called the Greek into a more useful and comprehensive mode of language, called the English. In the process of translation, it may seem that the
Greek language was destroyed, but the translator saw in the Greek language the substance of a more useful and comprehensive language, which we now call the English language. When Enoch was translated to heaven, his continuity and identity were in no way destroyed. By translation, Enoch, as a mode of consciousness, was forwarded, or was expressed in a higher or heavenly mode of consciousness.
So it is with the different states and stages of human consciousness, which to us are material. As these states and stages of material consciousness are flooded with the light of understanding, as taught in Christian Science, this understanding translates these states and stages of human or material consciousness into Mind, Spirit, or Reality. Translation in Christian Science is accomplished only by applying the rules and principles of Christian Science to our various states and stages of human or material consciousness. Our states and stages of human or material consciousness is all there is to matter.
The translation of material man and the material universe back into Spirit is best accomplished by using Jesus’ scientific method, which was always one of spiritual fulfillment, and not one of destruction. Translation, as taught by Jesus, and later as taught by Mrs. Eddy, is the changing of our material concept of the things at hand into a higher or more spiritual concept of the same thing.
Therefore, when I treat someone’s heart, I do not destroy a material heart, but I understand that all there is to that individual’s heart is the spiritual fact, the divine idea, the very presence and substance of Spirit. The trouble with the individual who seems to have heart trouble, is that he sees his heart as corresponding to his false, material concept of heart. Then I need to change his concept of heart, and not his heart.
By translation, I realize that all there is to a material heart, or to the material concept of heart, is the spiritual fact which is Reality. I do not change the spiritual fact, but I translate my material concept or belief about the spiritual fact, and see and understand it as it is. I, as a translator, see in my material concept of heart, something which if lifted up into its true depict, is the substance of the spiritual fact at hand. We know “heart” is a spiritual fact, because from our textbook (585:10) we read, “Christian Science, with which can be discerned the spiritual fact of whatever the material senses behold.” And again, “All must give place to the spiritual fact by the translation of man and the universe back into Spirit. In proportion as this is done, man and the universe will be found harmonious and eternal.” (S&H 209:21)
We read that God told Abraham not to destroy Ishmael. No, Ishmael was not to be destroyed; but through the understanding of the method of translation, Abraham discerned the spiritual fact of what his material senses beheld, and he saw in Ishmael the substance of Reality, or the spiritual fact at hand. And although Ishmael, as the son of a bondwoman, was not to be heir with Isaac, yet God, or Mind, said to Abraham, “Also, the son of the bondwoman will I make a great nation because he is thy seed.”
We, like Abraham, need to recognize that the good in human consciousness has in it “the seed,” or “the substance of things hoped for,” and not want to destroy it, but exchange a material concept of it for a higher, truer sense of the same thing.
For a Christian Scientist to take the attitude of thought that everything that still seems to have material accompaniments is just matter and, therefore, is to be destroyed, is not a scientific attitude of thought. Perhaps there is nothing so misunderstood as what is called “material things,” and perhaps there is nothing so improperly handled in Christian Science. Material things give place to the objects of spiritual sense as we translate man and the universe back into Spirit. True enough, in absolute Science, matter is naught; Mind is All. But to our human comprehension, practically everything we know seems to be material. But they are material only because of our material concept of them.
What Is Matter?
In Miscellaneous Writings (102:24), Mrs. Eddy says, “Whatever seems material, seems thus only to the material senses, and is but the subjective state of mortal and material thought.” So, what we call matter is not some inanimate thing, but is a mode of mortal thought. Were this not true, matter could not be translated into Mind, Spirit. In Miscellaneous Writings (233:30) she says, “Matter must be understood as a false belief.” And again (Ibid. 174:2) she says, “Matter is a misstatement of Mind.”
“Mind” written with a capital “M.” We can readily see that before we can have a false belief, or make a misstatement about a spiritual fact, the spiritual fact must be already at hand. We also see that there cannot be present both a material object and a spiritual object. If we see an object as material, we are only wrongfully minded about the spiritual fact already at hand.
If I have a picture of my home, we know there had to be a real home from which the picture was taken. The real home and the picture is the same thing. And, of the picture, I can say, “This is my home.”
So material objects are mental pictures of Realities formed by the human mind. The Reality is all there is to the mental picture. The Reality and the mental picture is the same thing. And of the mental picture I can say, “This is Reality.” I can say of my heart, the heart I now have, “This is divine idea and is perfect; there is only one heart present.” My concept of heart does not make another.
As our conception of Reality broadens, so-called matter, or these mental pictures of the spiritual fact, appear in higher perceptions and higher presentations of Reality. These fuller appearances, approximating Reality, make up the various states and stages of human consciousness, according to the degree to which the human mind is illumined by Truth.
These higher states and stages of consciousness which the human mind terms matter and Spirit, show forth the individual’s progress from sense to Soul, and they show forth the rise of mankind from a material viewpoint to a spiritual understanding and scientific demonstration of all Reality.
The Meaning of the Word “Thing”
The ordinary meaning of the word “thing” or object is that which is inanimate and has boundary, limit, weight, density and space, qualities which are the direct opposite of the qualities of Mind or Spirit; but when we understand “thing” or object correctly, it is thought.
Mrs. Eddy says (S&H 337), “Eternal things (verities) are God’s thoughts.” So, things are objects of thought, or distinct ideas in the Mind of God, and are spiritual facts or Realities.
S&H 573:10, Mrs. Eddy says, “What the human mind terms matter and spirit, indicates states and stages of consciousness.” To the individual whose consciousness is illumined by Truth, man and the things comprising the universe are spiritual, “while to another, the unillumined human mind, the vision is material.” (S&H 573:8) The good in any stage of human thought is the appearing of the spiritual fact at hand. This good is not to be destroyed, but our material sense of it is to give place to a higher spiritual sense.
If material good indicates a certain state of consciousness, then that particular stage of human consciousness is not to be destroyed. It is to be translated into higher states of consciousness, which more nearly approximate the spiritual fact or divine idea at hand.
Indeed, matter, or these states and stages of thought, must be translated into Mind, so that to us, there will not be both matter and Mind, but Mind will be All.
Man and the Universe Translated
How shall we translate man and the universe back into Spirit? We do this by knowing and feeling that Spirit, Mind, or Conscious Life, lives in all things and as all things. All things are the spiritual evidence of Mind.
There should be a feeling of infinite tenderness towards the things of Spirit which are here before us, even though we see them now as through a glass darkly. We can never behold the creations of Spirit at hand, so long as we see things as matter, or illusions, or nothing, and try to destroy them. The work of a Christian Scientist “is to discern the spiritual fact of whatever the material senses behold.” Only in this way can man and universe be translated back into Spirit.
In our present stage of understanding, we are not viewing things and forms as we shall view them when we open our perception wider, and live Reality more abundantly. Jesus said, John 10:10, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” As we experience perfect life more abundantly, we begin to view everything about us in a more perfect way. And as we discern the spiritual fact of all things, the material accompaniments such as inanimate life, weight, density, solidity, finiteness, impermanence, insecurity, uncertainty, time and place will vanish from our consciousness and human experience.
Spiritual objects are forms of spiritual thought, and “thought will finally be understood and seen in all form, substance, and color, but without material accompaniments.” (S&H 310:6)
The revealment or the disclosure of infinite Mind as ideas and forms is constant and eternal, and these higher revealments is what our Leader has termed states and stages of consciousness. Jesus said, John 14:2, “In my Father’s house (infinite Being) are many mansions,” that is, there are many higher and continuous revealments of Perfection or the things of Reality. Jesus demonstrated that the spiritual fact was the thing at hand, and that it was to be seen and utilized right in the midst of his human experience. So we are to utilize the thing in our midst, and see that our human experiences and the spiritual fact is now the same thing, and the only thing.
Under the marginal reference “Scientific Translations”, Mrs. Eddy says, “Emerge gently from matter into Spirit. Think not to thwart the spiritual ultimate of all things, but come naturally into Spirit through better health and morals and as the result of spiritual growth.” (S&H 485:14) That is, emerge gently into your successive stages of consciousness, and let your demonstrations keep pace with your successive stages.
One lady said to me, “I fear I shall emerge too gently,” and someone else is trying to take the kingdom of heaven by violence. “Therefore are its spiritual gates not captured, nor its golden streets invaded.” (Ret. 79:27) This anxiety results from separating any stage of consciousness from its divine source, and considering it other than the spiritual fact.
It is always best to be temperate in thought, word, and deed, and if translation means the carrying forward of the states and stages of human consciousness into successive, higher modes of experience, this can be done only by degrees. God’s work is finished; His idea man, is finished; all creation is finished; and all will appear as finished and spiritual from the infinitesimal to infinity as we, individually, discern the spiritual fact of all that we behold.
We have considered “Translation” from the viewpoint that Christian Science, understood, translates matter, or states and stages of human thought, into Mind; now, let us consider “Translation” from the opposite viewpoint.
Mrs. Eddy says, Miscellaneous Writings (22:10), “Christian Science translates Mind, God, to mortals.” That is, Christian Science translates God, Mind, meaning all Reality, to mortals. We know, of course, that God, Mind, cannot be matter or a mode of mortal thought, but God, Mind, gives us spiritual ideas, and Christian Science translates these spiritual ideas, or realities, into mortal thought as good things which the human mind can understand.
Jesus translated spiritual ideas, or spiritual facts, into loaves and fishes for the multitude; into tax money for Peter; into the wine for the wedding feast. These examples of the Master show us that it is possible to receive, in its visible form, any spiritual fact or idea in which one can function, while yet in human consciousness.
Many of us seem slow in reaching a satisfactory solution of our daily problems; slow in making our own demonstrations; and slow in giving the proof to others that there is a wealth of desirable things at hand. When it comes to a wealth or an abundance of health and joy and peace, and supply, our proof of Christ, or Reality in our midst, seems very meager. This, of course, is a result of a meager understanding of certain spiritual facts. (Unity of Good 61:23-25)
We all need fully to understand that all things or all creation is not to be separated into two groups, one group spiritual and the other group material. Mrs. Eddy says (S&H 369:21), “Jesus knew that man has not two lives, one to be destroyed and the other to be made indestructible.” Jesus knew that the God-Life is all there is to the so-called human life; and that the divine idea is all there is to so-called material good things.
And we need to know that creation, that is, all things, is ONE CREATION; and that all things are spiritual, no matter in what state or stage of human growth we are in. The living God made heaven and earth and the sea, and all things that are therein, and everything in creation is exactly the same at this moment as God conceived it; it is good and very good and it is spiritual. There can be nothing outside or beside or unlike the all-inclusiveness, ONE-INFINITY.
When rightly viewed, all natural things, from the sands on the seashore to the stars in the heavens, are formations of Spirit and are spiritual. So, also, is everything from a pin to a palace, including houses, and lands, and money, when these are correctly understood. Mrs. Eddy says (S&H 70:12), “The divine Mind maintains all identities, from a blade of grass to a star, as distinct and eternal.” Then a star, which to one state of human consciousness is inanimate matter, when rightly viewed, is an identity or is identical with Mind, Spirit, and must be spiritual. The whole point at issue is our individual viewpoint.
To the most of us, the sand on the seashore would seem very inanimate and material, but to Jesus it would not seem so. Mrs. Eddy says (Misc. Wr. 74:13), “Christ Jesus’ sense of matter was the opposite of that which mortals entertain.” Then what to us is material, must have been, to Jesus, spiritual.
There is an old legend taken from the Aquarian Gospel, which tells of Jesus when he was seven years old. He was telling the people who had gathered before his home, of a dream. He said, “I had a dream, and in my dream I stood before a sea, upon a sandy beach. The waves upon the sea were high; a storm was raging on the deep. Someone above gave me a wand. I took the wand and touched the sand, and every grain of sand became a living thing; the beach was all a mass of beauty and song. I touched the waters at my feet and they were changed to trees and flowers and singing birds, and everything was praising God. I heard a voice which said, ‘There is no death. The sea of life rolls high; the storms are great. The multitude of men are idle, listless, waiting, like dead sands upon the beach. Your wand is Truth. With this, you touch the multitudes and every man becomes a messenger of holy light and life. You touch the waves upon the sea of life; their turmoil ceases; the very winds become a song of praise. There is no death, because the wand of truth can change the driest bones to living things and bring the loveliest flowers from stagnant ponds; and turn the most discordant notes to harmony and praise.’” (Valley — Glossary : 596)
To Jesus, things at hand were not inanimate, material things. This legend illustrates the fact that everything at hand, when viewed correctly, is spiritual Reality. With our wand of Truth, these spiritual facts can be translated into concrete, visible forms which we can understand, and into human experiences which are needful. “Our heavenly Father knoweth that we have need of these things.” Such things as health and sight and beauty and food and clothing and homes and friends and money.
It is very important to know that there are not two groups of creation, but that all things are spiritual.
Since there is only one group of creation, and all is spiritual reality, then it is very necessary that we understand that the concrete, visible expressions of these realities is the spiritual fact of Reality itself, even though these visible forms appear as human sight, food, home, or a friend, or money.
How different would man and the universe be to us, if we would let this sense of separation of the human concept or material thing, and the divine idea, be swallowed up in unity, and see that loaves and fishes, the money and the wine, as the spiritual fact at hand, through the discernment of the reality of what the material senses behold.
Divine realities and their concrete expressions in human good co-exist, they are ONE AND THE SAME THING. Let each one become aware and conscious of this great fact.
“The spiritual ideas” that God gives us, and their translated daily supplies, are a unit; indivisible and inseparable. As one gains the more glorified concepts of Substance and its accessibility, things will be seen in their finer and more etherealized form, quality and beauty. Let us accept the fact that Reality is present in the very place where we stand. Reality is the divine Substance or Truth within us, or is our state of consciousness which we may utilize to fill our every need. It is right for us to translate these divine ideas, or spiritual facts, into concrete, visible forms and bring them to human sight and sense.
Humanity is, at present, functioning only partially in the completeness and abundance of Reality, so to sight and to sense, our abundance of good appears to come gradually. Our infinite Good, to human sense, is only partially seen and, therefore, only partially utilized and demonstrated.
It is only as we lift our vision above the realm of appearances, and function in the spiritual fact of abundance, as at hand, here and now, that we can bring the spiritual fact of abundance into tangible expression, and the good things that we desire.
Let us hold in consciousness that the one Good is here, at hand, now, in our possession. This knowing, this conviction, will out-picture or externalize itself into what we call our human good. This universe of spiritual ideas is apprehended and utilized by each individual, according to the individual’s degree of spiritual illumination. Such things as rocks, and trees, and grass, and sky, and animals, and men, are not material, as sometimes believed to be.
They are good, and therefore, they are “God-bestowed” in the human consciousness. When we treat such things, we always consider that the spiritual fact is all there is to our human concept of them.
Not a single blade of grass, a leaf, or a flower, is material, when viewed correctly. It is Spirit, Mind, which conceives, outlines and forms these ideas, which multiply and replenish the earth.
Mrs. Eddy says (S&H 191:21), “By its own volition, not a blade of grass springs up, not a spray buds within the vale, not a leaf unfolds its fair outlines, not a flower starts from its cloistered cell.” All natural beauty and grandeur, from the freshness of the morning, to the calm of the evening and the starry heavens at night, are the presence of the one Spirit, and are, therefore, spiritual.
All natural activities, such as eating, and walking and resting, and hearing, and seeing, and thinking, and feeling, ARE NOT IN NOR OF MATTER, but are the conscious functionings of the one Spirit, and are therefore spiritual. All natural love, and affection, and gladness, and happiness, and joy, and peace, and harmony are not in nor of person, but are the one conscious Life or Spirit in Being, and are therefore spiritual and unceasing. All things pertaining to, and essential to, our normal state of living, from a pin to a palace, when rightly viewed, are not matter, but are spiritual ideas at hand.
I do not say that the way I see them humanly, is spiritual, but the fact of what I see humanly, is spiritual, and the fact is the only thing present. Let us remember that only one thing is present: the spiritual Fact, and that Fact is always as it is, no matter what the human concept about it seems to be. The human concept and the spiritual fact is the same thing and the only thing.
All right, useful things, things that may yet seem material to us, REPRESENT SPIRITUAL IDEAS AND ARE EVER PRESENT AND DIRECTLY AT HAND. THIS IS TRUE, BECAUSE THE SPIRITUAL FACT IS THE SUBSTANCE AND PRESENCE OF THAT WHICH IS SEEN HUMANLY, or seen as a material thing. And, we as Christian Scientists are to “discern the spiritual fact of whatever our material senses behold.”
The spiritual fact is eternally at hand, and the way I see this Fact, humanly, or my highest human concept of it, does not make another fact, it is still the same spiritual Fact. I always have the Fact or Reality at hand, and I translate my human sense of it into higher, truer modes of consciousness. We are to remember that whatever appears to us as any material thing, this thing, AT THAT VERY INSTANT, IS A FACT, IS SPIRITUAL REALITY.
The Israelites must have had some sense of spiritual Reality as the substance and presence of their human concept of clothing, for their clothes waxed not old for forty years. Their clothes were materially mental, a state of human consciousness.
We are told that Christ, Truth, is the spiritual idea, giving us temporary food and clothing. And it appears to us as a human concept, or as something which the human mind can comprehend. As this material or human concept of food and clothing is transformed or translated with the ideal, higher and truer states and stages of consciousness take place, and the material disappears in the fulfillment of that which approximates Reality, and man is fed and clothed spiritually.
Homes — Lands — Money
We have been taught to call homes, lands and money, material things, but in reality, they are not material things, because Spirit is the substance and presence of what I see humanly as houses and lands and money.
Jesus had in his consciousness the eternal, spiritual Fact at hand, of what appeared to Peter, humanly, as the tax money. Jesus had in consciousness the eternal idea of Substance at hand, of what appeared, humanly, as wine at the wedding feast. Jesus’ consciousness was that of omnipresent infinity and it appeared, humanly, as loaves and fishes to the multitude. Homes and lands and money are divine ideas, expressed in forms that are cognizable to the human mind according to our individual comprehension of Reality.
Demonstration of These Things
If one is trying to demonstrate a home, or land, or money, his first perception of these things should be that since infinite Spirit, or divine Substance, or the divine idea is NOT material, neither can its expression be material. When we feel the need of these things that are natural and essential to our daily living, nearly always our first thought is of the cost. Our second thought must deal with certain people and circumstances; our third, the time it takes to obtain what we need and desire.
This seems to be our present stage of growth, but if we understand that all things are primarily divine ideas, in unity with infinite eternal substance, we can also understand that actually we have these things without price, and they are not dependent upon person, place, thing, or time for their existence, because they are co-existent with eternal being.
Sooner or later, it will occur to us that all good things belong to us because they are our very being. Sooner or later, we shall recognize that our own right Mind is God, and is our source of infinite supply. As we comprehend this fact, we need to deal with no one but ourselves. There is no “outside” to Being. BEING IS ALL. As we understand this to be true, we need not depend upon persons, place, time or circumstances for our help. Our world depends upon nothing outside of ourselves, and no problem is too small or too great to be understood, in its right light, and translated into Harmony.
We should learn to promote experiences of plenty and satisfaction from Heaven within us, rather than try to obtain them from circumstances without. All things are ours, because things are not material as is often believed, but are thought forms or distinct ideas in Consciousness.
All natural things that belong to our natural living are not finite or material, as supposed to be, but are forms of Mind, Spirit, although cognizable to us according to our comprehension and understanding of Being.
No matter in what state or stage of human consciousness I am, everything good in my consciousness “from infinitesimal to infinity” is God-bestowed, and is the divine idea or eternal reality at hand.
Whatever is good to human consciousness, we never consider it as matter. We never deny imperfect concepts with the thought of destroying things, but with spiritual insight and conviction, we deny the imperfect concept and, through translation, the imperfect concept gives place to a higher concept of Reality.
We do not destroy the so-called material body; we do not destroy the so-called material universe; we do not destroy the so-called personalities; the companionships, the pleasures, the activities, but we flood our consciousness with the understanding of omnipresent reality, and our concepts of these things appear brighter and brighter unto their perfect Reality.
All good things in human consciousness are Godbestowed. They are the formations of our own Mind or Being.
The Master said, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” Let us rejoice that Heaven, Reality, reveals itself in our human consciousness as home and persons and things.
Yes, even the warmth and glow of a happy family; the clasp of a friendly hand; the pure pleasures of daily living.
All forms of good are God-bestowed and are tangible and substantial in human consciousness, according to our individual comprehension of good. The fact that Spirit is infinite Good, precludes the possibility of a lack of so-called material or human good. Infinite Good and material good are one and the same Good when correctly understood. (S&H 561:16)