The power of purifying thought
I need to keep a persistent watch over what I am believing about myself and others.
Most of us wouldn’t stand in a pool of water during a lightning storm. But interestingly, it’s not the water, but the impurities in the water that mainly conduct electricity. I’ve found that my thinking is often a lot like water in that way, and to the degree that I watch my thinking, purifying it on a consistent basis, I’m less likely to react to events in the news or be offended by someone else’s adverse comment or action. I’m less likely to become a “lightning rod,” responding in an unhelpful way.
To purify my thinking, I’ve found I need to keep a persistent watch over what I am believing about myself and others. To begin with, I need to be alert to any fear, pride, or self-righteousness—any unspiritual character trait that I might be accepting about myself or someone else—that would cause me to speak or act in a way that is detrimental. As a student of Christian Science, I am learning that I need to strive to see the spiritual idea of man, which is the true identity of each of us, as found in the Bible. In the first chapter of Genesis, we read that man is made in God’s image and likeness, reflecting God’s dominion and goodness, and we need to reject any belief that contradicts God’s infinite power, presence, and goodness.
In particular, I’ve found that humility is essential to this effort. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, says, “Humility is lens and prism to the understanding of Mind-healing; it must be had to understand our textbook; it is indispensable to personal growth . . . ” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 356). As I strive to quiet my own ego by recognizing God as the source of all intelligence and ability—the source of all good—and to purify my motives, I’m able to become more humbly obedient and receptive to God’s, divine Love’s, guidance. Humility silences human willfulness and welcomes the influence of Christ, Truth, into our experience.
The Christ reaches us through uplifting thoughts and through the Word of God, found throughout the Bible and manifested in the life of Christ Jesus. We also find God’s Word amplified in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mrs. Eddy’s definitive textbook on Christian Science, and in her other writings. I’ve discovered that to the degree that I strive to live in accordance with the teachings of the prophets and Jesus and put into practice their teachings as expounded in Christian Science, particularly the Ten Commandments given by Moses and the Beatitudes that open Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, my thinking and actions are purified. And this results in healing.
For example, many years ago when I was first married, I noticed plantar warts on the bottom of one of my feet, and they seemed to be spreading. My husband (who is not a Christian Scientist) saw the warts and said that he had had them in the past and that a doctor burned them off in what was a very painful process. He felt that that was the only way to get rid of them and that I should address them in that way as soon as possible. I didn’t take his advice, but I also didn’t address the problem through prayer in Christian Science. I just ignored it, and the problem persisted.
Then, many months later, a difficulty arose in my office that caused me to dig deeper into my study and practice of Christian Science. I called a Christian Science practitioner for help through prayer. The practitioner recommended that I make a list of all the qualities I could think of for each of the seven synonyms for God—Spirit, Life, Truth, Love, Principle, Mind, and Soul. These scripturally based synonyms are highlighted throughout Mrs. Eddy’s writings. At first, I resisted, thinking, “This is a Sunday School assignment!” But I knew I had to be obedient and humble, and soon I had long lists of qualities for all the synonyms except Spirit. I loved to think of God as Love and Mind, but my conception of God as Spirit seemed somewhat abstract and intangible.
As I studied more deeply to understand God as Spirit, wonderful insights soon unfolded. I saw Spirit as the source of all movement, action, and strength. But the one quality that really stood out to me was purity. In her poem titled “Communion Hymn,” Mrs. Eddy writes,
“ ’Tis the Spirit that makes pure,
That exalts thee, and will cure
All thy sorrow and sickness and sin.”
(Poems, p. 75)
I realized that to the degree that I purify my thinking by acknowledging only what is good and true about man as made in God’s image and likeness, I am spiritualizing thought. Just as pure water is not a good conductor of electricity, so I couldn’t be made to react (or express irritation, willfulness, or bad traits of any kind) when holding to the spiritual truths of God and man as taught in Christian Science. Despite what I was seeing, I realized I needed to purify my thought every day when I went to work and see my colleagues as only spiritual. This required me to listen more conscientiously and to discipline my thought to know that we all could receive and express only right ideas that came directly to each of us from God, infinite Mind, Spirit, Love.
Within a few days, the work difficulty resolved beautifully. As I told my husband about it while I was getting ready for bed, I noticed that all the warts on the bottom of my foot were gone, too! I was so surprised and grateful, and I showed my husband my smooth foot. He couldn’t believe it and asked to see the bottom of my other foot, thinking I was mistaken about which foot had been affected. But both feet were clear and smooth. Not only had my problem at work been healed, but my foot had, too.
This healing gave my husband and me very tangible evidence of the effectiveness of Christian Science and the reliability of this teaching, and buoyed our trust in God when we were faced with greater challenges in the years that followed.
It may seem difficult at times to keep a consistent watch over our thoughts, and sometimes the need to do so may not even be apparent. But whenever we find ourselves reacting to someone else’s words or actions, we can be alert to the fact that we need to keep our own thinking clear and pure about the situation. It’s also reassuring to know that we’re not relying on our ability to respond but prayerfully trusting divine Love to reveal the right thought or action to take in any circumstance. Essentially, as we put this into practice, we will be able to squelch any inclination to react, and instead express dominion over the situation, blessing everyone involved.