Right Discrimination

Recently, while looking over the long array of books on the shelves of a public library, a Christian Scientist was impressed with the valuelessness of much that has been written to aid in solving the problems of humanity, and he went back in memory to his impressions when first visiting a large library. As he passed through the long book-studded aisles, he thought that surely here, among these stored-up treasures of learning, he might find the panacea for human needs; that here the hunger for truth could be satisfied, the spiritual vision be attained.

Thus impelled, a number of years were spent in study; but the result was not what he had anticipated. Something had been gained of education and culture which was of value in later years, but the youthful faith that in the study of books he might find a remedy for the ills of mortal existence, had been rudely shattered. In place of poise of mind had come impaired health, a pronounced pessimism, and a cynical disbelief in the practical application of good to the betterment of human affairs.

It is a pleasant theory, a theory whose fallacy was exposed by George Eliot in one of her novels, that through intellectual grasp and mental might the really valuable of human knowledge, the highest good, can be acquired; genuine knowledge can be separated from the dross of human misconceptions and the golden goal of spiritual reality gained. But Mr. Casaubon's failure, with the failure of many another before and since, has made clear that this dream of intellectual supremacy is impossible of attainment; that no tower can be built upon the foundation of human knowledge to gain the heaven of reality. The search ends in disappointment and disillusionment, and like the workers on the tower of Babel the student becomes confounded. He finds that systems and theories for the improvement of humanity which are elaborated in text-books, frequently work badly in actual practise. He finds that the ills of mortal existence press upon him, as upon the community and the state, with an unremitting demand which his years of study and research are powerless to meet. The truth of this was borne in upon King Solomon, who, when surfeited with worldly knowledge, said, "Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh."

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Right Consciousness
February 7, 1914

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