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Are we starting at the mountaintop of God's omnipresence or in the valley of opinions?

From the August 2000 issue of The Christian Science Journal

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To give truly effective spiritual treatment through prayer, treatment that heals, is the concern of many people. How might we do it, and do it better?

The most potent treatment doesn't start out assuming that a particular worrying condition is solid reality to be somehow pushed aside, despite a perhaps persistent appearance. It starts out with an acknowledgment of God, of His immaculate nature and perfect care for His creation. And the best treatment tends to stay right there, with God. Effective treatment is a communing with God, a sure affirmation of the reality of God and His offspring as pure and perfect, keeping us awake from the slumber and dream of living in matter.

We can rejoice in the infiniteness of God's care.

Practical treatment starts off from the mountaintop—the assurance of God's omnipresence. It leaves behind the valley of human opinion and physical sense evidence. From the valley, we look up. From the mountain peak, we look out. Looking up from the valley, we could think we have a horrendous climb ahead of us—some well-publicized disease, an apparently hopeless financial situation, depressing business conditions, or a shattered relationship—to be battled with and overcome. Looking out from the peak, we see a promising, endless landscape: the allness of Spirit excluding all matter, outlawing all disharmony. And what could be more powerful than that?

The ethics of metaphysical treatment are exacting. "It is mental quackery to make disease a reality—to hold it as something seen and felt—and then to attempt its cure through Mind," we read in the chapter "Christian Science Practice" in Science and Health. "It is no less erroneous to believe in the real existence of a tumor, a cancer, or decayed lungs, while you argue against their reality, than it is for your patient to feel these ills in physical belief. Mental practice, which holds disease as a reality, fastens disease on the patient, and it may appear in a more alarming form."Mary Baker Eddy. Science and Health, p. 395.

The treatment that heals, then, rules out anything, anywhere, actually in need of healing. It emphatically dismisses disease, and the imperfect, as reality for anyone in his or her true self at any time. The ideal treatment isn't really some human procedure stretched over a span of time. Rather, it expresses the immediacy of divine power. The Christian healer, in communion with God, perceives the unflawed nature of God's creation. This pure consciousness, reflecting the one Mind, is somewhat like a crystal-clear, unblocked window for the light and reality of Mind, God. The realization accompanies that we're not really doing something—God is doing all and being All.

The satisfying healing treatment takes delight in, and has a deep feeling of, the perfection of all being as the fact now throughout the universe. It puts aside mentally trying to tinker with matter or to micromanage human situations. It rejoices in the infiniteness of omnicaring God, good. It does not merely wrestle with beliefs but knows the oneness of Mind and its spiritual idea. It is not a human procedure, labored or otherwise.

Sometimes the language that might be used in regard to treatment reveals a point of view that may weaken it. Instead, for instance, of emphasizing the concept of "working on a problem," we'd do better to upgrade that with the certainty of staying with the truth, a significant shift. Or, we could say we're working on a problem by staying with the truth—that is, by knowing our unity with Truth, God. Sound treatment is not fastened on the problem but turned away from it, looking to the perfect realities of all being. Treatment is most successful and best upgraded as we move on from the sense of a physical condition to be treated. Until we have arrived at that point, our prayer-based work is not complete.

It upgrades healing prayer to resist being pulled toward some kind of localized treatment focused on some aspect of the corporeal body. A friend, say, asks us for metaphysical help for something wrong with his left leg, adding that his back needs some attention, plus a difficulty with the top of his head—all detailed! Such specification of symptoms may be natural enough from our friend's point of view. But the practitioner needs to be alert that such pinpointing doesn't draw his or her attention to corporeality. Any temptation to apply a kind of mental plaster on the leg or elsewhere should be shunned as a shift in the wrong direction. The physical body's supposed troubles may, admittedly, be sharply vivid to the patient. But a troubled physicality should not stay vivid to the one called upon to help with metaphysical treatment.

We should not, and need not, picture the material scene. We maintain the spiritual integrity of our prayer by not slipping into imaging. We deal spiritually and scientifically with inflammation, a fracture, a rash, or whatever, not as a picturable condition but as a false argument about identity as God's incorporeal likeness.

Healing is not a human procedure, labored or otherwise.

Lowering and expelling a patient's fears is of first importance. This would be hindered if we mentally displayed to ourselves what the patient believes is wrong. That's not actually the patient's own belief—it's belief and image in general mortal thought, even while it seems to belong to the sufferer who perhaps is getting graphic about it. Should we absorb colored-in pictures of what's wrong, we may compromise our own necessary fearlessness and dilute our confidence in God's power.

We upgrade treatment as we keep putting to one side the information gathered by the five senses—the ultimate in misleading informants and false prophets! Though seeming superficially to be harmless and as innocent as sheep, the five falsifiers are not so for the spiritual healer, since their descriptions and news of material conditions and trouble can be insistent. The Bible sounds the alert: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." Matt. 7:15.

To bring about metaphysical healing, we turn away from the senses' persuasion that God's man is a mortal living and suffering in matter. Not for a moment should we believe we must take man out of matter, or matter out of man, since that was never the situation and is not now. True identity is spiritual, having its being in Spirit. We need to negate the sense-story of anyone as an ill mortal, exposing the lie that he or she is a good-lacking or an upset physical personality. Such suggestions could be highly destructive if entertained as facts. They are the nub of all woe. The healer, understanding the impeccable nature of God's creation, affirms that they are wholly false.

The only influence at work is the resistless Christ influence.

Because the Christ, the ever-present force of healing Truth, is the dynamic of treatment, treatment takes itself where it needs to go—even if there is a continent between practitioner and patient. There are no cross-currents of mortal belief to push treatment off course. The only influence at work is the resistless Christ influence for good.

Treatment based spiritually and scientifically—Bible-founded, and as demonstrated by Christ Jesus—has a confident tone regardless of what challenges mortal sense projects. There is always a human solution because there's a divine solution. The solution is, essentially, the allness and almightiness of Deity. That is the great untangler of mortal complexity. In confidently upgrading treatment by defending it well, here is reliable direction: "We must realize the ability of mental might to offset human misconceptions and to replace them with the life which is spiritual, not material." Science and Health, p. 428.

Solid treatment embodies not wimpy human beliefs, or mere nice positive thoughts, but powerful ideas that are from and within God, and nothing can defeat their purpose. Mental might that heals is not generated within human consciousness; it's the outcome of the one all-powerful Mind, God. Armed with true mental might—the actual presence of eternal Mind—we can witness the perfection that Mind witnesses without ceasing. And our witnessing to it appears to human estimation as healing.

Geoffrey J. Barratt is a contributing editor

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