A short time ago I was shown round the offices and laboratories of a firm that manufactures magnetic tape for the computer industry. At the end of this tour my guide pointed out a laboratory that could be viewed only through a glass screen. This was known as the "clean room," since all dust and dirt particles had been extracted from the air in the room. Here the magnetic tape was tested, a process requiring absolutely clean conditions.
Thinking about this visit later, I realized that a valuable spiritual lesson might be learned from the conditions in the "clean room." Here was a room for which an air-cleansing plant was constantly producing a pure atmosphere.
The student of Christian Science soon learns that to progress spiritually he must cleanse his thinking of all impurities and then maintain this pure state of thought. The healing effect of maintaining purity of thought was demonstrated many centuries ago by the master Christian, Christ Jesus. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes of the Master's divinely inspired ability to heal: "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick. Thus Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is intact, universal, and that man is pure and holy."Science and Health, pp. 476, 477;
Do we not long to maintain this pure state of thought, which enabled our Master to do so many wonderful works? Do we not ask ourselves, when error seems very pressing, how Jesus was able to maintain this purity of thought on all occasions? To answer these questions it is necessary to look at Jesus' instructions on prayer. He tells us in the Gospel of St. Matthew, "When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."Matt. 6:6;
The closet Jesus refers to is a clear consciousness of the spiritually mental realm of reality where God is All and only purity and holiness exist. In this closet discord and decay, disease, sin, and death find no foothold. The atmosphere is always pure. As Mrs. Eddy writes, "The closet typifies the sanctuary of Spirit, the door of which shuts out sinful sense but lets in Truth, Life, and Love."Science and Health, p. 15;
This closet of pure thought resembles the "clean room" insofar as offending errors are excluded. However, this mental closet where God is seen to be All-in-all is far from being localized, restricted, like a room bounded by four walls. It is present right where we are at this very moment.
To experience the joy and peace that come from the understanding of Truth, Life, and Love, we must firmly adhere to our beloved Master's instructions on prayer. In the passage just quoted, Mrs. Eddy goes on to explain how much this adherence demands: "In order to pray aright, we must enter into the closet and shut the door. We must close the lips and silence the material senses. In the quiet sanctuary of earnest longings, we must deny sin and plead God's allness. We must resolve to take up the cross, and go forth with honest hearts to work and watch for wisdom, Truth, and Love. We must 'pray without ceasing.' "
Unceasing prayer is the prime requisite for demonstrating and maintaining a pure state of thought. To "pray without ceasing" does not mean that we must shut ourselves up in a little room at home, away from the world, and devote every minute to studying the Bible and Mrs. Eddy's writings. Such a hermitlike attitude might shut out the world and its troubles from physical contact with us, but it would bring us no nearer to healing these problems. Periods of quiet meditation alone with God to refresh our thoughts with pure ideas are very necessary for us all, but this must never be to the exclusion of all contact with our fellow human beings.
Our Master did not shut himself away from those he came to bless. On occasions, it is true, he went into the mountains to be alone with God, but after these quiet periods of communion with the Father he was better able to meet the needs of suffering humanity. When he returned to the multitudes, he did not cease to pray. Rather, through conscious awareness of man's unity with God he unceasingly refused to admit the claims of the senses that presented themselves to him in countless forms of sin, sickness, and death. He healed these discords by destroying them with his understanding of God and of man as His image and likeness.
Proportionately as we refrain from admitting the claims of the senses do we find that we are successful in closing the door on all that is unlike God, good. Animal magnetism, or the claim of evil to attract and distract us, may tempt us to leave the door ajar, but let us resist this temptation and close the door firmly. As we do so, materialism is silenced, and we have audience with divine, ever-present Love. Impersonal evil may argue that it is difficult to refrain from admitting the claims of the senses, since they appear to be so very real, but we can face these erroneous arguments squarely and refuse to be discouraged by them. They are destroyed as we persistently dig in our heels on the side of Truth. As we do this, we find that the lovely verse in James rings true in our experience: "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."James 4:7;
By resisting the devil we are prayerfully opening the door of consciousness to let in only Life, Truth, and Love. We become conscious of the peace and joy of divine Love governing our every thought and action. Animal magnetism is self-destroyed in our experience as we progress in right thinking and acting. It is seen to be nothing, void of authority to hinder our advance.
The understanding that the pure atmosphere of Spirit is ever-present and that man continuously enjoys living in this atmosphere awakens thought to perceive things from an unlimited spiritual outlook. We perceive that only good can exist and that all reality is found in Spirit. Striving to follow our Master's perfect example, we find that we are increasingly able to maintain a pure state of thought and see "in Science the perfect man." This purity of thought blesses all upon whom it rests, bringing healing, joy, fulfillment. We know the certainty of the Psalmist's promise of God's goodness: "Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases."Ps. 103:3.