Christian Science teaches us that there is in reality only one consciousness — the consciousness of divine Mind, Spirit, which is reflected upon man by man’s consciousness of his own existence — and that this one consciousness must therefore be spiritual, not material, because no factor of material manifestation is involved in the spiritual reflection of identity. This absolute point of view contrasts sharply with the common earthly interpretation of being which insists that tangibility is either entirely material, or is both material and spiritual. In order to grasp Christian Science, a spiritually transformed perspective of conscious existence must be recognized and adopted. To attempt to comprehend Christian Science from the conventional earthly perspective is impossible and futile.
In Spirit, all realities possess an eternal and perfect nature. Therefore unrealities possess a temporal and imperfect nature. In matter, which is only the impossible supposed opposite of infinite Spirit, all is erroneous, but is falsely supposed and believed to be true. Only belief lies behind its seeming reality. Its seeming reality is empowered by deep hypnotic and mesmeric belief in its false existence. All of which we are conscious is actually the representation of some form of thought. Every thing of which we are conscious in the mental realm which we call human, is always the presentation of an idea originated in the one divine Mind. The supposed realm of consciousness known as mortal mind is, because of its supposititious nature, is always invalid. In the spiritual perspective, mortal mind is always a lie.
But this does not at all mean that matter’s claim to presence is not of some use to us! An understanding of the invalid nature of matter is vital because its claim to presence tells us something about the activity of thought going on in consciousness. All that comes to experience is a product of thought. The lie, which appears as matter, is always a lie about something, about a something which is spiritual and true. As such, the lie presents to the human consciousness an inverted representation of a particular truth. Whatever appears to us consciously, be it an idea, or a situation, or another human being, and whether the appearance is good or evil, real or illusory, it always presents to us some representation of a perfect idea which originated in divine Mind.
Some may ask, “but if the starting point is that God, good, is All-in-all, as Mrs. Eddy explains on page 275 of her textbook, then how is the appearance of evil be explained at all, and how could its representation in our consciousness have any validity at all?” The appearance of evil never possesses validity, but the astute Christian Scientists understands that an evil appearance must be dealt with by an analysis of its presentation, in spite of its nothingness, for its very seeming presence is actually an indicator of erroneous human perception of the truth, reversed.
Let’s say for instance that an abnormal condition makes an appearance to the human consciousness on a part of a human body – on a foot for instance. What is a foot? Since a foot comes to us recognized in consciousness, we know its origin to be mental. So, is there actually a physical foot? Yes, to enlightened human sense there is a perfect physical foot. The perfect physical foot is actually the conscious human manifestation of the divinely perfect idea of foot. As such, the physical foot is perfectly valid and substantial in its perfect representation. In order to see it so, the foot must be mentally viewed through the perfect mental lens of Spirit. If a foot appears to be diseased, it is only the belief in a discordant material diseased condition of the foot which must be eradicated from consciousness.
In spiritual terms, the perfect foot is an idea made manifest to consciousness. A foot represents, for example, the eternal and perfect idea of man’s mobility and support. The Christian Scientist must make a sharp distinction between the perfect physical foot which represents God’s idea, foot, and any mortal misrepresentation of the appearance of that foot which causes the foot to appear in the form of matter. Instead of coinciding the physical idea of a foot with materiality, which is the mental approach to which the world and materia medica are accustomed, the Christian Scientist learns to coincide the physical idea of a foot with the divine, with the manifestation of its perfect physical representation. We must take care not to make the false conclusion that a physical foot does not exist, or is to be disposed of. On page 427 of the textbook, Mrs. Eddy assures us that “immortal Mind, governing all, must be acknowledged as supreme in the physical realm, so-called, as well as in the spiritual.” We are not working to eliminate the physical appearance of a foot. Rather are we aiming to see the physical foot in the absence of matter. To believe that we must eliminate the physicality of the appearance of a foot, would be to “throw the baby out with the bath water.”
Though we often fail to make the distinction, in the human realm of thought, the physical and the material are not one and the same. Christ Jesus, for instance, dwelt humanly in the perfect physical realm. He presented a physical body, but he never perceived that physical body to be material. He saw the perfect physical body to be the mental window to understanding the perfect and eternal idea of embodiment. This understanding gave Jesus his complete authority over matter. In the resurrected state it gave Jesus the power to appear physically wherever it was necessary for him to be, without the restraint of material laws. He appeared, for instance, to his disciples on two occasions behind closed and locked doors, before he finally rose in understanding to the final step above physicality, into pure spiritual existence in the ascension. (John 20:19 and 26)
Let us return to the analysis of the foot. In the sense of observing the foot humanly, the presentation of the foot in thought is a mental vehicle which brings to consciousness the eternal and complete idea of foot. In Christian Science, our objective is to observe and feel that perfect presentation. The unadulterated conscious presentation of foot is represented in human consciousness by the appearance of a perfect physical foot. We must mentally stop with this perception of foot and go no further . We must cease from attempting to mentally take from or to embellish its perfect representation. The foot cannot be damaged, diseased, or present in any form inferior to its perfect and eternal nature. Such embellishment takes place in human consciousness via the error of viewing foot through a lens of mortal perception. Such false representation takes place only suppositionally, in mortal mind, having only a false reality endorsed only by hypnotic belief. Understanding this, it can be seen that the perfect physical foot seen in human consciousness is a window to the spiritual idea of perfect foot. As humans, we are in the habit of examining the foot through a mortal thought-lens, through which distortions and misrepresentations appear in the conscious picture. This gives the appearance of materiality to the foot. We must remove that mortal lens of observation and we must grasp the perfect physical presentation, and then we must hold onto it!
I give the example of a foot because of an enlightening healing experience I recently had. The foot was healed through the realization of this very concept of the validity of perfect physical appearance. A couple of months ago I began having difficulties with severe itching which appeared to be caused by reactions to chigger bites on my lower legs. Every morning during the hottest part of the summer I had been spending a few hours in the woods tending to our livestock. Every night my legs appeared to be covered in irritating chigger bites. Without giving them a lot of serious thought, I scratched them and took hot showers to reveal the itching. After several weeks of this, a couple of infected wounds appeared near my ankles, resulting in an abnormally swollen foot. I could barely stand when I awoke every morning, and for a few days I almost could not put my shoe on that foot due to the swelling. Only after the problem escalated to this point did I begin to get serious about how to address it correctly in Christian Science. In the beginning I began to look for mortal errors in my thought, and then proceeded to correct whatever I found, step by step, to the best of my ability. I even called on three different Christian Science practitioners to help me with this, over the course of about a month, but to no significant avail. Though some progress was made in the reduction of fear, the healing just did not come. The third and final practitioner recommended that I focus primarily on my own mental receptivity while she prayed. The very next morning, this sentence from Science and Health stood out to me (from the Lesson Sermon on Matter for that week). On page 588:15 Mrs. Eddy says “All the objects of God’s creation reflect one Mind, and whatever reflects not this one Mind, is false and erroneous, even the belief that life, substance, and intelligence are both mental and material.” From this I suddenly grasped that a perfect image, that which reflects the divine Mind, acts as a vehicle to bring the perfect essence of the spiritual idea to the lesser developed human consciousness. Any attempt to embellish this vehicle with the limitations of materiality degrades the clarity of the window pane to the divine Mind. I suddenly realized that I had been embellishing the perception of a perfect foot with the false concepts of swelling and infection. The swelling and infection were never present! I found that stopping with the perfect and unaltered perception of the divine idea in human consciousness presents perfect physicality aligned with divine Mind. The human was thus coincided with the divine. Every thing is a spiritual idea – and never any more than that! Mrs. Eddy says (521:5) “All that is made is the work of God, and all is good.” And 162:13-16: “The indestructible faculties of Spirit exist without the conditions of matter and also without the false beliefs of a so-called material existence.” Almost immediately the sore began to drain more effectively, and the swelling of the foot was drastically reduced. Over the course of several days I continued to work with maintaining the unadulterated perception of my perfect foot until the symptoms responded by continually diminishing.
The word “vehicle” is key to grasping this concept of perfect physical manifestation. The essence of a thing appears to the thought as a mental image of it, and this mental image is the vehicle which comprises physicality in the human consciousness. The perfect spiritual eternal idea exists. And that is all.! That which claims to exist in a realm beyond the spiritual is entirely mentally separate from the universe of Spirit. Mrs. Eddy says on 14:25 “Entirely separate from the belief and dream of material living is the life divine, revealing spiritual understanding and the consciousness of man’s dominion over the whole earth.” That revealing of spiritual understanding makes apparent to consciousness the perfect model, the perfect image. This is only seen through continual self abnegation, constantly keeping thought in the eternal absolute and permanent state of Spirit. On Page 491: 12 Mrs. Eddy explains that to strip off the impositions of mortal thought seen as a disturbed presentation, we must remain in a state of continual acknowledgement that there is only the reality, Spirit, and that the impositions are entirely separate and invalid: “It is only by acknowledging the supremacy of Spirit, which annuls the claims of matter, that mortals can lay off mortality and find the indissoluble spiritual link which establishes man forever in the divine likeness, inseparable from his creator.”
For the sake of illustration, let us examine another hypothetical bodily condition. The reader should find, through study of the two examples given, the utility of this concept of perfect physical body. Many of the ideas presented in the first example (of a foot ) are repeated in this analysis, for the sake of reinforcing the application of the same mental concepts .
Consider the common false perception of eyesight degraded by disease or age. If a human possessing the materially degraded eye were to seem to be suffering from the perception of degraded material images, we would examine the mental concept of the human eye in the same light, just as we did the foot. In order to find a solution, the world examines the materiality of the presentation called the human eye, believing its substance to be in matter. The Christian Scientist mentally separates the materiality of the appearance, and mentally sees the perfect physical eye in the absence of matter, knowing its substance to be eternally expressed, spiritually, as the idea of eye. The eye which we as humans are accustomed to addressing as responsible for seeing, and which we interpret as the material eye, is in its purest spiritual sense represented to the human consciousness as a perfectly functioning physical eye, but completely devoid of matter. The physical representation of that eye is but a vehicle for presenting to consciousness the idea of eye, spiritual perception, to consciousness. That vehicle, the perfect physical eye, is a window to the complete and whole idea of eye, or perfect spiritual perception. The perfect physical presentation is divine Mind’s vehicle for delivering the perception of the idea of eye to the human mind. This perfect physical eye, so perceived, must remain so perceived, perfect. Any material analysis of that eye mentally relates the human to the mortal, to the dying, to the unreal, to the negative. We must take care not to attempt to either embellish or take from the perfect representation of eye as perceived in the physical realm. When that eye is examined through the spiritual mental lens rather than the material mental lens, we relate and coincide the human perception with the divine idea. The immutable and perfect functionality of this perfect physical eye exists in the eternal and spiritual idea of eye. Just as in the case of the foot, the mental picture of perfect physical eye is to us like a window to the eternal spiritual idea of eye. Although the eye appears to be physical, its functionality has absolutely nothing to do at all with matter. We must mentally stop when we have perceived the perfect representation of eye – and then go no further. Eye will then be manifest as perfect physical eye.
What happens when we do go further and erroneously examine the eye through the falsifying lens of mortality? The perfect physical eye then appears to take on a false sense of materiality, and that false material sense is subject to the imperfections resulting from the false material law claiming to govern it. All the while, the perfect state continues to exist in eternity, untouched by mesmeric belief. But mortal mind believes some imperfection to be possible in the eye, and attempts to embellish the perfect appearance with a claim of the appearance of disease, cataract, or some other imperfection. It would also add an accompanying belief of distorted mental perception of the material images which this deranged model of an eye claims to process. But is this really going on? Why, no! It only seems to be going on as long as the mesmeric influence of mortal mind, a spiritually impossible concept, is entertained. When we focus on knowing the eye in its perfect spiritual essence, we then know and experience eye in its perfect manifestation. What sort of embellishments might claim to intrude on the perfect manifestation of perfect eye? The degrading embellishments which we must avoid applying to the perfect concept might, for example, include beliefs in the effects of material aging, material conditions, material environment, disease, etc. But nothing can be added!
Mrs Eddy tells us on 335: 7-12 “Spirit, God, has created all in and of Himself. Spirit never created matter. There is nothing in Spirit out of which matter could be made, for, as the Bible declares, without the Logos, the Aeon or Word of God, ‘was not anything made that was made.’ “ And Eccl 3:14 tells us “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.”