Thinking for ourselves

How can we challenge the tendency to follow or believe something unthinkingly? By turning directly to God, the divine Mind that invigorates thought with fresh inspiration, wisdom, and even healing.

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“The time for thinkers has come.”

These words written over 100 years ago by Mary Baker Eddy in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” (p. vii) characterized Christian Science not as a dogmatic religion but as a movement to awaken and revolutionize thought.

Yet religious practice has not always roused, awakened, or revolutionized how we think about God, but has often closed minds and dulled thought. So we each must consider in what ways we might be accepting various forms of dogma and rote ways of thinking – and how we can be alert to challenge the tendency to follow anything unthinkingly in our hearts and minds.

The radical solution that Christian Science offers to these tendencies relates to the origin of thought. Fundamentally, Science identifies good, constructive ideas as originating in a divine consciousness, or divine Mind, the one consciousness of the universe. Each one of us reflects this divine Mind, or universal divine consciousness.

Even though it feels as though we go through life with our own personal mind that is influenced by other personal minds – sometimes with inspiration and sometimes with negativity – and even though each day’s news seems to parade before us developments of a bunch of evil minds doing bad things in the world, the fact is, there is only one source of actual thought: the one Mind that is the only consciousness. How do we begin to realize this and make it practical in our experience?

Consider this incisive observation about God by the discoverer of Christian Science: “As mortals awake from their dream of material sensation, this adorable, all-inclusive God, and all earth’s hieroglyphics of Love, are understood; and infinite Mind is seen kindling the stars, rolling the worlds, reflecting all space and Life, – but not life in matter. Wisely governing, informing the universe, this Mind is Truth, – not laws of matter. Infinitely just, merciful, and wise, this Mind is Love, – but not fallible love” (Mary Baker Eddy, “Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” pp. 331-332).

Can you hear in this passage how the fundamental concept of thinking for ourselves is yielding to the direction and governance of the one divine Mind? Key to this yielding is knowing the essential unity of God, divine Mind, and Mind’s ideas, each one of us.

One primary way to experience this unity with God is to keep yielding to all real thought as originating with God, or divine goodness. Our work is to discern between thoughts that are unlike God and thoughts that come from the divine influence in consciousness, or the divine Mind. This divine Mind is the only Mind we have, and it impels us to become more familiar with the qualities of true consciousness.

The radical nature of thinking for ourselves has roots in Christ Jesus’ teachings. His revolutionary ideas turned upside down and inside out the predominant thinking of the time, and they continue to awaken us today. To seek first the kingdom of heaven and know that all human needs will be met (see Matthew 6:31-33) is to first commune with God and then see how this transforms our experience, inside and out, one heart at a time.

As we explore Jesus’ teachings, we find that his point about seeking God’s heavenly kingdom was preceded by inviting listeners to rethink their sense of divinity (see Matthew 4:17). He taught that anyone could pray and engage directly with God, rather than just accepting what others said about God. We can each trust God for every need.

Prayer along these lines, then, is an active and individual engagement with God. It is not an unthinking repetition of words that somehow calls forth something beyond our imagination. It is to feel and experience the divine presence right with us. This is what brings healing and transformation to our lives and helps us see how our needs can be met.

The tendency of the human mind is to look to an expert, a guru, or someone knowledgeable separate from ourselves that we can follow for wisdom and assistance. But as Jesus showed, it is the direct encounter with God that changes us. While support from others can help move thought forward, it is in feeling directly God’s presence that we find peace and, ultimately, healing.

Adapted from an editorial published in the Dec. 16, 2019, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.