On the Subject of Thinking
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
A book on spiritual healing includes the account of an older man, an actor, who was lame. He would limp to work and wait in pain for his appearance on stage. At that point he would find himself able to play his role oblivious of pain, as free as the younger actors.
According to that book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the actor's ability to rise beyond his physical limitations when he was doing what he loved illustrates something important: unspiritual, or mortal, thinking is responsible for the loss of well-being. Immediately preceding the actor's story, Mary Baker Eddy, the author of Science and Health, writes this: "The effect of mortal mind on health and happiness is seen in this: If one turns away from the body with such absorbed interest as to forget it, the body experiences no pain" (p. 261). Getting beyond such limited thinking, even momentarily, brings freedom.
But the actor's experience of fluctuating between pain and freedom also indicates that just being distracted from a problem temporarily isn't enough to heal it. There is something that will heal, though; an honest recognition of spiritual truth brings release from sickness, from poverty, from wrongdoing. This involves the effect that understanding God has on human health and happiness. Science and Health, the textbook of Christian Science, says: "Look away from the body into Truth and Love, the Principle of all happiness, harmony, and immortality. Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts" (p. 261).
Truth, Love, and Principle, as used in that passage, are synonyms that express the existence, the very nature, of God. This counsel to look away from the body-on the basis of becoming conscious of God-is the reverse of ignorance. Far from encouraging us to remain oblivious of evil, holding thought to "the enduring, the good, and the true" empowers us to become so conscious of good that we know how to vanquish evil from our thoughts-and lives. Christ Jesus, who was wholeheartedly devoted to God, healed many people of disease and freed many others from sin, according to the Bible. He showed how our thoughts affect our well-being. Thought that is faithful to God is promotive of health, while thinking that tends away from God undermines health.
I have seen this contrast in my own life. One weekend when I had a cold, I saw a movie. I became so engrossed in the movie that I experienced none of the cold symptoms during that time. Afterward, though, the symptoms rapidly returned. The excitement of the movie may well have absorbed my thoughts and temporarily obscured the cold symptoms, but it certainly hadn't healed me. In fact, beneath its glamour the film had promoted a very flawed view of humanity, which I realized in hindsight had not helped me, because it kept me from holding my thought to the truth that we are created in God's image and likeness, as the Bible says (see Genesis 1:26). I knew from previous experiences of having been healed through prayer that holding in thought a correct view of God and of my likeness to Him was effective and could restore me to health.
Later I sat down with the Bible and Science and Health. As I got absorbed in reading and pondering the truth of God, I realized something of the unreality of evil, including sickness. The cold symptoms began to subside and soon disappeared. And they didn't return.
In the Bible, the book of Habakkuk promises, "The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (2:14). This depicts a state of thought possible now. We can discern the truth at any point and, through prayer, understand how God creates us. More and more, as the light of God's glory fills our thoughts, we find that we have prosperity, health, happiness, and the ability to help others.
For as he thinketh
in his heart,
so is he.