`I'' -- there isn't any shorter word in the English language. Yet what we attach to that word is probably the single most powerfully determinative factor in our lives, forming the mental lens that colors our entire experience. Perhaps in no respect was Christ Jesus more revolutionary than in his sense of the word I. When he said, ``I can of mine own self do nothing,''1 wasn't he rejecting the universally accepted notion that ability and intelligence have their origin in a finite, brain-centered ego? On the other hand, when he insisted, ``The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works,'' adding, ``I am in the Father, and the Father in me,''2 wasn't he indicating that his sense of ``I'' was rooted in the universal intelligence he called Father? His words clearly point to the spiritual reality of man as the very image, the expression, of the one divine Ego.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, pondered such statements long and prayerfully in her search to understand what underlay Jesus' unparalleled healing works. During a moment of acute personal need, she glimpsed that spiritual basis, proved it in her own life, and made it available to the world through her writings. She says of Jesus, ``He knew that the Ego was Mind instead of body and that matter, sin, and evil were not Mind; and his understanding of this divine Science brought upon him the anathemas of the age.''3
The transforming effect of this divine Ego, this infinite Mind, on the personal sense of ego was impressed on me many years ago. Early in my study of Christian Science I was overwhelmed with an intense fear that verged on terror. All the praying I had done almost nonstop during the days preceding this crisis seemed to have been no use at all. I was sitting at a stoplight, my hands literally shaking on the steering wheel, when these words from the Bible came to thought as vividly and forcefully as if spoken: ``Be still, and know that I am God.''4 Immediately, as though someone had pulled the plug in a bathtub, the fear drained away, and in the place of it there was an indescribable serenity and joy.
After parking and getting out of my car to do an errand, I was filled with compassion for those around me. If only they could recognize this dimension of peace that was so real and near at hand. I returned home to discover that the situation which had triggered this distress had been resolved in an unexpected way.
Weeks later, while reading a chapter in Science and Health consisting of testimonies by people in Mrs. Eddy's day who had been healed by reading her book, I came across the testimony of a woman whose experience almost paralleled my own. She described how at a moment of great need the same passage from the Bible had come to thought, and then she added: ``I held my breath -- deep into my hungering thought sank the infinite meaning of that `I.' All self-conceit, egotism, selfishness, everything that constitutes the mortal `I,' sank abashed out of sight. I trod, as it were, on holy ground.'''5
Isn't it time each of us became better acquainted with this eternal ``I''? Only in this way can the mortal sense of ``I'' and all the troubles it includes loosen their deadening grip. All the mental elements so desperately needed both in our individual lives and in the world -- the joy, the tranquillity, the love, the satisfaction -- are included in this one, all-embracing ``I.'' And ultimately they will never be found anywhere else.
1John 5:30. 2John 14:10,11. 3Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 315. 4Psalms 46:10. 5Science and Health, p. 669.