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PRINCIPLE AND PRACTICE
By Mary Baker Eddy
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Christian Science Sentinel
“What I say unto you, I say unto all, WATCH” Jesus
September 1, 1917
[This article was written by Mrs. Eddy in 1910. Its message
is of vital importance to every Christian Scientist today.]
Principle and Practice
Mary Baker Eddy
The nature and position of mortal mind are the opposite of immortal Mind. The so-called mortal mind is belief and not understanding. Christian Science requires understanding instead of belief; it is based on a fixed eternal and divine Principle, wholly apart from mortal conjecture; and it must be understood, otherwise it cannot be correctly accepted and demonstrated.
The inclination of mortal mind is to receive Christian Science through a belief instead of the understanding and this inclination prevails like an epidemic on the body; it inflames mortal mind and weakens the intellect, but this so-called mortal mind is wholly ignorant of this fact, and so cherishes its mere faith in Christian Science.
The sick, like drowning men, catch at whatever drifts toward them. The sick are told by a faith-Scientist, “I can heal you, for God is all, and you are well, since God creates neither sin, sickness, nor death.” Such statements result in the sick either being healed by their faith in what you tell them—which heals only as a drug would heal, through belief—or in no effect whatever. If the faith-healer succeeds in securing (kindling) the belief of the patient in his own recovery, the practitioner will have performed a faith-cure which he mistakenly pronounces Christian Science.
In this very manner some students of Christian Science have accepted, through faith, a divine Principle, God, as their saviour, but they have not understood this Principle sufficiently well to fulfill the Scriptural command, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel.” “Heal the sick.” It is the healer’s understanding of the operation of the divine Principle, and his application thereof, which heals the sick, just as it is one’s understanding of the principle of mathematics which enables him to demonstrate its rules.
Christian Science is not a faith-cure, and unless human faith be distinguished from scientific healing, Christian Science will again be lost from the practice of religion as it was soon after the period of our great Master’s scientific teaching and practice. Preaching without practice of the divine Principle of man’s being has not, in nineteen hundred years, resulted in demonstrating this Principle. Preaching without the truthful and consistent practice of your statements will destroy the success of Christian Science.
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BELIEF VERSUS UNDERSTANDING
By Herbert W. Eustace
(pages 125 – 137 of “Why Am I A Christian Scientist?”
On this point of understanding that is so fundamental to a correct answer of, Why am I a Christian Scientist? I want to read to you from and article written by Mrs. Eddy in 1910, and published in the Christian Science Sentinel, September 1, 1917. I do not believe Mrs. Eddy ever wrote anything fraught with more import to the Christian Scientist, than this article, "Principle and Practice." It was the dictum of that deep spiritual experience, that understanding of Mind, which was so clear and fearless that it could call evil by its right name and expose the absurdities, the dangers and inconsistencies of human belief, whether appearing under the guise of Christian Science and its practice, or under any other guise.
In the opening statement of this article Mrs. Eddy writes, "The nature and position of mortal mind are the opposites of immortal Mind. The so-called mortal mind is belief and not understanding." Is not this absolutely true, and do you not know it of yourself and not because Mrs. Eddy wrote it? You have established Mind as that which is, and therefore, as all that is, infinite, immortal. Contrary or opposite to this you have established the suppositional mind as finite, mortal or dead. Is not the first under-standing, and the other mere belief? Which does Christian Science require? Mrs. Eddy says, "Christian Science requires understanding instead of belief; it is based on a fixed eternal and divine Principle, wholly apart from mortal conjecture; and it must be understood, otherwise it cannot be correctly accepted and demonstrated." It is not possible for you to use, or correctly state, what you do not understand: nor to intelligently demonstrate what you cannot correctly state and understand. You must understand Christian Science and not simply have faith or belief in it. Do not deceive yourself into thinking that belief or faith can substitute understanding in Christian Science.
In the same article Mrs. Eddy writes, “The inclination of mortal mind is to receive Christian Science through a belief instead of the understanding, and this inclination prevails like an epidemic on the body; it inflames mortal mind and weakens the intellect, but this so-called mortal mind is wholly ignorant of this fact, and so cherishes its mere faith in Christian Science." How true this is. Through an ecstatic state of uplifted faith in Christian Science, beliefs of one kind and another have readily vanished. But does the vanishing of a belief necessarily mean that understanding has destroyed it? You know that, in the realm of belief, the stronger belief always supersedes the weaker, and so a religious belief, being a more mind-belief than the so-called belief of sickness can easily overshadow the belief of sickness. To such an extent is this so, that as Mrs. Eddy states, it "prevails like an epidemic on the body," healing the entire body temporarily, and substituting a belief in God, for a belief in a sick body.
This same belief and faith in good is illustrated in the woman who touched Jesus' robe and was healed. Jesus was not deceived into thinking or allowing that the touching of his robe had any power to heal the woman, and that is why he said to her, “thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague." (Mk. 5:34)
What power to heal could there possibly be in the robe of Jesus any more than in the handkerchief of Paul or the flowers from Mrs. Eddy's conservatory at Pleasant View? Healing is not faith; it is not belief; it is Life itself, and Life is understanding. While faith and belief in Christian Science may appear as healing, or as a healing epidemic on the body, that does not mean that understanding in Christian Science has done the healing.
For you to tell the sick man that you can heal him, because God is all, and he is well, since God creates neither sin, sickness nor death, does not mean one thing in the true understanding of Christian Science. The sick may be healed because of what you tell him, as Mrs. Eddy points out, but there is no understanding back of such healing. The Mind that destroys sickness is never the mind that first admits its existence, and then believes that God can heal it. The Mind that destroys all evil, sin, sickness and death is the Mind that knows nothing outside of itself, and therefore knows good and good alone.
Mrs. Eddy emphatically states in this article that the so-called healing, which results from faith and belief, is not different from healing by a drug, and that it has no relationship whatever to genuine Christian Science, which is understanding.
Do not be deceived on these points. Faith and belief may be mere characteristics of the human mind. So-called religious ecstasy or belief may perform what appear to be marvelous healings, but in reality they are simply the exchange of a belief of sickness for an ecstatic faith and belief in Christian Science. "Health is the consciousness of the unreality of pain and disease; or, rather, the absolute consciousness of harmony and of nothing else." (Rud. 11:13)
HEALTH THE ETERNAL FACT
Since good is the only reality, the All-in-all, it must be omnipresent, therefore, what is called health must be everywhere present. Because sickness is merely a belief, then with the slightest change in this belief the omnipresence of health can be seen as the fact. This is why drugs and other remedies seem to heal. That is why the Eskimo's incantation and the Tibetan's praying machine accomplished the same result. In fact, no matter what the healing belief may be, if faith in it is sufficient, it will appear to heal. But do you think for one moment that all these foolish beliefs of the human mind have the slightest bearing on, or relation to, Christian Science understanding; that understanding which Jesus expressed in healing the sick, feeding the multitude, walking the waves, stilling the storm, and raising the dying, and that proved the utter powerlessness of evil?
No wonder Mrs. Eddy says in the same article, "It is the healer's understanding of the operation of the divine Principle, and his application thereof, which heals the sick, just as it is one's understanding of the principle of mathematics which enables him to demonstrate its rules." Could a thinking person possibly imagine that faith or belief could have anything to do with the working out of a mathematical problem? He knows it has nothing whatever to do with it, and unless the Christian Scientist understands just as clearly that faith and belief do not and cannot enter into the practice of Christian Science, because understanding alone operates in that practice, he will lose his way and become discouraged and fearful.
THE DANGER OF BELIEF
Again quoting from this same article, Mrs. Eddy wrote, "Christian Science is not a faith cure, and unless human faith be distinguished from scientific healing, Christian Science will again be lost from the practice of religion, as it was soon after the period of our great Master's scientific teaching and practice." (Prin. & Prac.)
The belief or faith Scientist fondly imagines that, because of Mrs. Eddy's discovery of Christian Science, and her gift of Science and Health to the world, it is impossible for the light of Christian Science to disappear. This is just a fond delusion, for Mrs. Eddy, in this article, shows very clearly that she had no such delusion, but knew perfectly well that, if understanding did not replace this foolish "belief" and "faith" acceptance of Christian Science, it certainly would disappear from the vision of the mortal. With understanding, however, it can no more disappear than can the multiplication table. Preserve, then, understanding under all circumstances, and remember what Solomon said, "with all thy getting get understanding." (Pro. 4:7)
All the love and devotion one may express towards Christian Science, or its discoverer, or the Bible, or Christ Jesus, can never substitute itself for the understanding that is Christian Science. Faith, belief and emotion, in themselves, have no understanding. They are the "reed shaken with the wind," (Matt. 11:7) and when the wind passeth over them they are gone, for there is no substance to them.
The metaphysician, the Christian Scientist knows this, so is continually on his guard, and never allows anything to direct or govern him but his understanding, his communion with Mind. He is just as positive on this point as is the mathematician, who knows that the only solution of a problem is his communion with the principle of numbers, and that no emotion, faith or belief aids him in the slightest. The Christian Scientist knows that Christian Science as a belief, has no more virtue than any other religious belief, and that, as a belief, it will eventually do no more for its followers in the way of destroying sickness and death than will other beliefs. He knows that belief will never end death, and he knows that death must cease before Life can be obtained.
John the Baptist expresses the utter futility of belief. Exalted as John's belief seemed to be, it was Jesus, who declared of him, "Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." (Matt. 11:11) This can surely be interpreted as meaning that the religious belief of John was the highest religious belief that had ever obtained, and yet, what was the ultimate of that religious belief? It ended in John the Baptist being mercilessly beheaded. On the other hand what was the result of Christ Jesus' understanding?—the proof of evil's complete inability to destroy the Life, the Christ which appeared in the Ascension.
"BELIEF IS VIRTUALLY BLINDNESS"
In the realm of belief, there is nothing permanent. Belief "is like a wave of the sea driven with the winds and tossed." (Jas. 1:6) It changes with every passing breath and has no place to rest. When the distressed father entreated Jesus to help his child, the Master said, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth," and he replied, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." (Mark 9:23, 24.) This blind belief showed its utter helplessness. It was the exact opposite of Jesus' real meaning in his statement, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." Unquestionably Jesus here meant understanding, just as Paul did when he said, “Believe . . . and thou shalt be saved." (Act. 16:31.)
The human mind having no basis or foundation is, as Jesus said, of its "father, the devil," "a liar and the father of it." (Jno. 8:44.) Its very nature is false and therefore unreal. On the other hand, divine Mind is reality; it is knowing; it is understanding, and understanding alone attains the solution of any problem.
A belief is Christian Science is no holier, and no better, than any other belief. Therefore, belief in Christian Science must give place to understanding or there will be no right practice of Christian Science.
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE PRACTICE DEFINED
What is meant by this term "practice"? What do you mean by the practice of anything? It means the showing forth of that which is practised. If nothing is manifested, you would then say that there is no practice. Then the practice of Christian Science must be a showing forth of that which Christian Science is, and is not for the purpose of bringing about some specific result. It is not for the purpose of exploitation or healing of some erroneous condition, any more than mathematics is for the purpose of correcting mistakes in problems.
The principle of numbers knows nothing about mistakes in problems, and the only way a mistake is corrected is by having the principle present, and then spontaneously, the mistake vanishes. The Principle of being, infinite good or Christian Science, knows nothing of errors such as sin, sickness, death or discord of any kind to be corrected or destroyed. Simply by being All-in-all, omnipresent, infinite, there is no place for evil to be, and hence, it must disappear just as naturally as the mistake in the mathematical problem disappears when the principle of numbers is present.
The belief that Christian Science is for the purpose of healing sin or disease is fraught with the greatest danger to the believer, because the mind that believes there is something to be healed is the same mind that holds within itself all that constitutes the disease, and therefore is not the Mind that can correct it. On the other hand, the Mind that knows only good and the things of good, is the Mind that has already precluded the possibility of anything unlike good, and therefore is its destruction. This process of destruction is not really destruction, but is only the pressure of the one Mind spontaneously eliminating everything unlike itself.
Mrs. Eddy thus illuminates this truth, "When I have most clearly seen and most sensibly felt that the infinite recognizes no disease, this has not separated me from God, but has so bound me to Him as to enable me instantaneously to heal a cancer which had eaten its way to the jugular vein. In the same spiritual condition I have been able to replace dislocated joints and raise the dying to instantaneous health." (Un. 7:8) It is clearly apparent that oneness with that which really is Mind constitutes the annihilation of everything unlike that Mind.
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