Years ago, while I was out with some friends, we wandered - for my first and last time - into a pornographic movie house. After a very few minutes I became disgusted with the film, and myself, and walked out. But for the next hour or so everything I saw around me - trees, buildings, everything - seemed sleazy and polluted. My thinking was mired and dulled. I had let the film temporarily take over and contaminate my thought. It took some tough mental laundering to return the fabric of my thought to a fresher state and to regain control of it. That mistake has served as a useful reminder to me not to walk knowingly into such pollution in the first place.
It was easy to spot that negative influence on my thinking, because such material wasn't a regular part of my intake. But what about the messages from magazines, films, or television that bombard us regularly, conveying a corrupt or un-wholesome view of man? Do we unwittingly concur with them and welcome them into thought? Just because they come our way, we needn't accept them!
Even Christ Jesus knew what it was like to be tempted with evil thoughts. He was alert enough, though, to realize they were from the tempter; so when they appeared at the door of his consciousness, he shut them out. An account in the Bible tells us of his forty days in the wilderness when he was tempted repeatedly. It reads in part, ''And the devil said unto him. . . . If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan.'' n1
n1 Luke 4:6-8.
It's native to us, too, to shut out carnal mindedness, and to open up to a pure view of ourselves and our fellowman. It's a view that corresponds to the spiritual nature of things, to what God has actually created, and it's a view that promotes harmony.
God has made man in His own likeness. Man's true selfhood, then, is the very reflection of God, of the one divine Mind. This selfhood is marked by purity, perfection, spiritual freshness, as well as other divine qualities. This is what is true about each one of us, and the more we understand this, the more we're able to think in a way that expresses these God-bestowed qualities, that expresses the purity of the one Mind.
What's really the source of right thinking? God is the source of all right ideas. ''Ideas are emanations from the divine Mind,'' says Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. ''Thoughts, proceeding from the brain or from matter, are offshoots of mortal mind; they are mortal material beliefs. Ideas are spiritual, harmonious, and eternal.'' n2
n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 88.
You and I don't really generate right thinking. It's not something we cook up in a personal way. We draw right thinking from divine Mind, the source of all that is good and right. Partaking of these ideas is somewhat like sipping from a fresh, clear mountain spring. The effect is both wholesome and invigorating. But corrupt or unwholesome thoughts don't spring from God, or from man, God's likeness. They are from the tempter and are like the pollution contaminating the stream - the heavy sludge that would clog the channels of thought that promote health and well-being. Impurity can only foster discord.
So here's the need: to filter out the polluting thoughts - those that do not come from God, those that are not native to our true, spiritual nature - and to partake of those pure ideas that come from Him. Mrs. Eddy makes this wonderfully direct statement: ''Watch your thoughts, and see whether they lead you to God and into harmony with His true followers.'' n3
n3 The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 213.
It takes discipline to live so that we don't intentionally subject ourselves to obviously corrupting influences. It takes even greater discipline to challenge each thought, test it for its source, and accept it only if it derives from God. But if we begin this work today, we will find we are able, in increasing degree, to keep our thinking free of the polluting elements that would mire us. And we will find that we're engaged in fresher thinking, purer thinking, more innovative, more beneficial thinking - because we will be drawing on pure Mind, the source of all right ideas.