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Repeating and defeating

From the April 1, 2013 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

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I was recently thinking about the 1993 movie Groundhog Day. In the movie, Bill Murray plays an egotistical TV meteorologist named Phil Connors, who is forced to relive the same day, February 2, over and over again. Even though Groundhog Day is just a Hollywood movie, at some points in my life I have felt a lot like Phil, reliving the same story over and over again—the story of life in matter, trapped in an endless cycle of challenges or mental fog.

But through my study of Christian Science I have grown to see that this fog is something I can wake up from. It is my thought that needs changing, not my circumstances.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science defined this state of mental fogginess as “animal magnetism” or “mesmerism,” and told of its illusive nature. She wrote, “… in Science animal magnetism, mesmerism, or hypnotism is a mere negation, possessing neither intelligence, power, nor reality, and in sense it is an unreal concept of the so-called mortal mind” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 102). The thing about a “mere negation,” or a “zero,” is that it can be brushed aside to open up our clear vision of the wonderful possibilities already present.

So how do we lift a feeling of mental fog? First and foremost, we take a proactive stance against it to keep ourselves aware of its subtlety. Eddy saw the importance of this proactive stance and instructed Christian Scientists that it was their duty to defend themselves each day “against aggressive mental suggestion” (Church Manual, p. 42). I have learned that when I diligently do this on a daily basis, I am quicker to recognize mental fogginess for what it is. 

The next important step in ridding myself of foggy thought is recognition and exposure—realizing its insidious nature and exposing it to the light of Truth. Eddy wrote about the importance of this awareness and exposure in Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896: “Error found out is two-thirds destroyed, and the last third pierces itself, for the remainder only stimulates and gives scope to higher demonstration. To strike out right and left against the mist, never clears the vision; but to lift your head above it, is a sovereign panacea. Mental darkness is senseless error, neither intelligence nor power, and its victim is responsible for its supposititious presence” (p. 355).

Like Phil from Groundhog Day, who took positive action to escape from what was beginning to look like his fate for eternity, we can also wake ourselves up from any mesmeric dream we might find ourselves in. Phil’s antidote was to do good deeds and befriend everyone in town. Once he did this with due diligence time after time, it reformed him and he finally “woke up” from his repetitive dream a new man. As Christian Scientists we defend our thought daily against “aggressive mental suggestion,” affirm our obedience to God and God’s laws only, and live our day out from that perspective.

One time a few years ago, I had allowed myself to fall into mental fogginess, somewhat like Phil. I would pray and study, and gain glimpses of a higher perspective, but then slip back down into a pit of negativity. I felt very much that I was lost in the fear of disease. I felt bombarded with negative thoughts and visions of disharmony, and I didn’t know how to get out of it. It was a sad and scary place to be. I was also spending a lot of time asking, “Why is this happening to me?”

I hadn’t yet recognized and exposed what it was I was dealing with, but I finally realized I needed to clear my consciousness of these mesmeric suggestions that seemed to keep coming at me, and to expose them as “mere negations” that did not have any intelligence, power, or reality behind them.

I began to realize that all the good that is in existence comes from God, and that it is indestructible because God is indestructible.

I contacted a Christian Science practitioner to pray with me. I still remember the wonderful message he told me that eventually lifted me out of this fogginess. It was that I should focus a bit less on materiality and a bit more on present spiritual goodness. The practitioner was basing this antidote on this statement by Eddy: “All substance, intelligence, wisdom, being, immortality, cause, and effect belong to God. These are His attributes, the eternal manifestations of the infinite divine Principle, Love. No wisdom is wise but His wisdom; no truth is true, no love is lovely, no life is Life but the divine; no good is, but the good God bestows” (Science and Health, p. 275). This idea spoke to a whole different reality than the dark, gloomy one I seemed to be stuck in. 

Through prayer I began to realize that all the good that is in existence comes from God, and that it is indestructible because God is indestructible. Each day I was acknowledging the unchangeable presence of God and God’s goodness throughout my day, focusing a bit less on materiality and a bit more on present spiritual goodness. I stopped “striking out left and right against the mist”; instead, I was lifting my thought above it. And just like Phil, after a time I woke up to a new day and a new thought. My circumstances hadn’t changed, but my thought about them had.

The most important thing to remember, if we find ourselves stuck in a fog, is to not be discouraged, berate ourselves, or get caught up in asking, “Why is this happening to me?” Even experienced Christian Scientists are faced with the subtlety and insidious nature of this recurring lie. John Lathrop, who served in Eddy’s household, recounted that once the workers in her household were called by Eddy because “their mental work seemingly had been ineffective and depressing. She said in effect: Never become discouraged, dear ones. This work is not humdrum, it is growth. It is repeating and defeating, repeating and defeating, repeating and defeating” (We Knew Mary Baker Eddy, Expanded Edition, Volume 1, p. 263).

By repeatedly facing down a lie in our own thought, and defeating it as many times as is necessary, we gain a higher perspective—a view of existence above the mist of material living.

Samuela Orth-Moore is a Christian Science practitioner living in Nairobi, Kenya.

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