ANXIETY has many faces. It may appear as despair, as loneliness, as a nagging emptiness lurking at the dark borders of thought. Indeed, our modern age has been called the Age of Anxiety, and some see it as an age in which God has grown silent or even died. Behind this very modern anxiety is an old fear, perhaps the most basic fear of all -- the fear of human nothingness, of nonbeing and death. These other feelings -- the anxiety, the loneliness, the terrible emptiness of human life -- are masks of the one great fear that torments mortal man.
The materialism of our times may have increased this torment by augmenting the individual's sense of insignificance and transience in the universe. But this underlying fear of mortality seems to be built into the very nature of material life and mind.
There is a way out of this primal fear and the deep-seated anxiety it brings. But it requires going to the root of the problem and not just dealing with surface symptoms. We need to stop accepting materiality as the framework of human life and then trying to cope, somehow, with the fears that are endemic to a mortal mind and mortal man. Instead, Christian Science says, we should make Spirit, God, our paradigm, and from this basis, question the basic assumptions of material living.
The problem is not fundamentally that mortal man is fearful of death and nonbeing, of nothingness. The problem is the mortal sense of man itself. To the degree that we believe we are finite, mortal entities, with a precarious life defined by the limitations of our material bodies and environment, to that degree we will tend to be fearful. Christian Science explains that this mortal fear is also the source of most disease, either through direct mental causation -- by the effect of fear on the body -- or indirectly through the self-destructive and wrong ways of thinking and living that fear fosters.
What, then, is the solution? If a false, fearful, material sense of self and life is the source of the problem, then the true, fearless, spiritual understanding of self and life must be the solution. This realization was at the very heart of Mary Baker Eddy's1 spiritual discovery, which she called Christian Science. As she recounts in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``When apparently near the confines of mortal existence, standing already within the shadow of the death-valley, I learned these truths in divine Science: that all real being is in God, the divine Mind, and that Life, Truth, and Love are all-powerful and ever-present; that the opposite of Truth, -- called error, sin, sickness, disease, death, -- is the false testimony of false material sense, of mind in matter; that this false sense evolves, in belief, a subjective state of mortal mind which this same so-called mind names matter, thereby shutting out the true sense of Spirit.''2
What Mrs. Eddy is talking about here is infinitely more than thinking of ourselves as somehow being potentially spiritual, and deriving comfort from that thought. Christian Science is not a form of positive thinking or comforting imagery. Mrs. Eddy was a tough-minded realist; she had no patience with abstractions that had no relation to human life and its profound problems.
In Christ Jesus' example, in his remarkable healing works, which set aside so-called material laws, Mrs. Eddy found proof of the absolute reality of life in and of Spirit. She saw that at the heart of Jesus' message of sonship and of God's fatherhood was the revolutionary fact that Spirit really is substantial and that man's real existence is wholly spiritual, despite what the material senses report. She also demonstrated scientifically, with Christly healing works, that this spiritual life is tangible, realizable, and thus practical.
To be free of the anxieties, fears, obsessions, and phobias that the material sense of life inevitably entails, there really is only one release. Real ``peace of mind'' is literally peace of Mind -- the fearless sense of existence that comes as we claim and realize our spiritual selfhood and relationship to the divine Mind, God. This Mind, or intelligent Spirit, that Jesus called Father, destroys mortality's fear with the reassuring, concrete evidence of undying spiritual life in Him, for this is the meaning of Christ's sonship.
No wonder the Apostle Paul enjoined, ``Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.''3 This Mind is God, the infinite, loving intelligence that we can come to know intimately as our Father-Mother God. In prayerful communion with our Father Mind, we gain the assurance that life really is spiritual, and thus undying. In the light of our revealed sonship, we feel mortality's fear and anxiety dissolving away. What a joy to experience, here and now, something of the deep peace of Mind that is natural to us as God's children!
1The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 2Science and Health, p. 108. 3Philippians 2:5.
BIBLE VERSE And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. ...And the God of peace shall be with you.
Philippians 4:7, 9