Why we do what we do

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

Some researchers look to the brain for answers and suggest that we come predisposed to behaviors that backfire on us. Beginning with a view of life as strictly material, taking place in a physical arena, these theories close us in. Bad genes and thought patterns condemn us to bad behavior, they say.

But this assessment is inherently flawed.

As Albert Einstein noted, "Significant problems cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them." So the solution to the problem of mortal existence and what leads us to misdirect our lives won't be found by analyzing the material conditions that incline us toward bad behavior. Rather, we need to ask ourselves if matter really is the essence of being, and if it defines what and who we are.

Mary Baker Eddy's discovery of Christian Science points to a totally different view. In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," she wrote: "The human mortal mind, by an inevitable perversion, makes all things start from the lowest instead of from the highest mortal thought. The reverse is the case with all the formations of the immortal divine Mind. They proceed from the divine source; and so, in tracing them, we constantly ascend in infinite being" (p. 189).

This statement makes the point that it's not which neurons are firing that determines human behavior but what people accept as the premise for determining who they are and what's going on.

What Mary Baker Eddy called "mortal mind"– thought that begins with the conviction that life has a material basis – reinforces its own conceits. In this way, another's fears tend to "prove" to us that there is something real to fear. Another's overindulgence in drink or food suggests that we need to fill ourselves materially.

Science and Health states, "We weep because others weep, we yawn because they yawn, and we have smallpox because others have it; but mortal mind, not matter, contains and carries the infection" (p. 153). Yet, for all its threats, this "mental contagion" loses its persuasive appeal when a desire for Truth connects us with a spiritual sense of life.

Divine Truth transforms lives today as it did when Jesus healed people. With compassion he said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. 6:33). By seeking God, Truth, our thought becomes receptive to good. We become aware of intelligent, creative solutions, and comforting direction that wasn't visible before.

A young woman learned this the hard way. A series of bad decisions and irresponsible behavior led to a crisis. At a party after drinking too much, she was invited to try a drug that "everyone" was taking. She went along.

Soon, feeling very sick, she collapsed. Her heart was pounding wildly, and the scene around her kept going out of focus. As the physical sensations intensified, she thought that she might be dying.

In the midst of this, the words of Psalm 23 came to her, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." She hung onto each statement of God's love and ever-present care. As the Psalm ended, "And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever," she marveled at how wonderful God-given life is. And then she realized that she was completely fine.

The dizziness and intense sickness were gone, as were the effects of alcohol. She felt mentally clear and more like herself than she had in years, and she wanted more of that spiritual sense in her life. That was a turning point; gradually, all the destructive behaviors fell away.

There is no situation in which the good that God has written in our hearts is unavailable to us. Life's spiritual illumination, once uncovered, stays with us like a lighthouse guiding us home.

Each step in the light of the revelation that everyone is God's own creation lifts not only our own thought but that of those around us. Step by step in this way, we'll find a deeper sense of purpose and a more blessed and blessing life.

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