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The ‘stuff’—or substance—of our being

From the October 2016 issue of The Christian Science Journal

What is the “stuff” we’re made of?

The answer is often sought in analyzing the structures of matter—the elementary particles, atoms, molecules, compounds, and mixtures that obey physical laws. Even our consciousness has been described by scientific opinion and popular assumption as a highly evolved outcome of inanimate matter. Although some religions and philosophies argue for the existence of an immaterial soul or psyche to help explain our sense of mental, moral, and spiritual identity, they generally accept that this identity is—at least temporarily—tied to a material body.

The understanding of identity taught by the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, is revolutionarily different. Based on the teachings of Christ Jesus, Christian Science explains that the fundamental substance of all true being is Spirit, God, not matter. As Mrs. Eddy puts it in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all” (p. 468).

We ourselves are spiritual, the reflection of God. Understanding this in some degree can and does heal. In fact, the same divine Truth and Love that lifts the grieving heart can also heal physical sickness and wrecked lives.

Many people have testified—and continue to testify—to this healing power in the various outlets provided by the Church of Christ, Scientist. Repeatedly, testifiers emphasize that they are grateful not only for the healings they experience, but also for the joy and progress brought about by their improved understanding of themselves as spiritual, not material.

These healings are not always immediate. They sometimes take prayerful persistence. But healing is still the natural outcome. A physical healing of my own is a case in point.

Several years ago, the main symptom of what I was facing—recurrent obstruction of one nostril, which affected my ability to breathe—was nothing more than a vague annoyance. However, it persisted, so I called on the aid of a Christian Science practitioner for treatment, and on two separate occasions the condition cleared up briefly and I felt full of inspiration, energy, and joy. However, I began to experience relapses. 

The fundamental substance of all true being is Spirit, God, not matter. 

As the symptoms persisted, I found that three passages were particularly meaningful and helpful to my prayer. One was a paragraph from Science and Health known as “the scientific statement of being,” which includes the passage quoted earlier and concludes: “… man is not material; he is spiritual” (p. 468). Another was an arresting sentence in the first chapter of Science and Health, titled “Prayer.” It reads: “Become conscious for a single moment that Life and intelligence are purely spiritual,—neither in nor of matter,—and the body will then utter no complaints” (p. 14). Finally, in a striking Bible verse that seemed to speak with almost comical directness to my situation, there was the advice from the Hebrew prophet Isaiah: “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?” (2:22).

I started reasoning it all through. The idea behind that biblical verse from Isaiah, and a key theme running through all of Science and Health, is that man—including you, me, and everyone—is purely spiritual. 

Our physical senses allow us no vantage point outside of matter to surmise that we are anything but material. However, turning to God with a heartfelt desire to better understand spiritual reality cultivates our spiritual sense, which enables us to see the solid and permanent spiritual truth about us. A clear, conscious glimpse of ourselves in that light transforms thought and brings healing.

I was stirred with awe and wonder as I began to contemplate the universe as infinite and spiritual, with each of us having a unique and precious place in the immensity of eternity. I also found that I was naturally feeling gratitude for the entire Christian Science movement, for everyone who has ever helped in any way to support and further the extraordinary avenue of insight, inspiration, joy, and love that is Christian Science.

When I reported these thoughts to the practitioner, she assured me that healing would be the outcome of this uplifted and spiritualized thought. Despite appearances at that moment, she was right. Physical healing is always expected in Christian Science, as tangible evidence of the spiritual fact that we are God’s perfect, whole creation.

Within a couple of weeks, I was breathing freely again, but I still felt the situation was fragile. Well-intended concern by friends who felt this physical issue was just part of reality shook my confidence. But as I prayed, I realized that we can let the one divine Mind lift our thought out of matter and into Truth, even if we are confronted by beliefs contrary to Truth.

When we do this, we realize that our true, spiritual identity—which we forever have in common with one another—is the reflection of God as Love. In fact, another of the phrases that had repeatedly come to me during this period was “unselfed love,” as used in this sentence in Science and Health: “The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God,—a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love” (p. 1).

It is natural for us to express this Christly, God-derived love toward other people, in activities and experiences. It is when we look beyond ourselves as mere mortals and yield to that kind of all-inclusive spiritual love that we demonstrate more of what we truly are, that we demonstrate the one absolute, universal, and eternal law of Love. Divine Love is not fragile, fickle, and subject to chance, change, whim, and personality. It is the source of all true and permanent substance. 

As I moved forward praying with these truths, the breathing problem vanished once and for all. I was no longer mentally accepting the belief, however popular, that man is based in matter. Instead I was rejoicing in every evidence of God’s love I could possibly identify in my own life and in the lives of others. It has been well over a year, and the symptoms have not returned.

The substance we’re truly made of—the real, eternal “stuff” of us—is spiritual and sourced in Love. We can demonstrate this and experience healing in our lives right now.

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