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Disciplining thought

From the July 18, 2016 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel


We choose what we think moment by moment. What we think and how we think matter greatly. From our thoughts issue our words and our deeds. I learned this during my business career when I experienced challenges that became opportunities to correct my thinking by disciplining my thought. This led to spiritual growth, greater trust in God, good, and redemption.

One experience in particular comes to mind. A firm, where I had been steadily advancing, was on the threshold of a merger with another company. Three attempts were made by a member of upper management to move me into positions that were to be eliminated following the merger. In each instance, as the offer was presented to me, I discerned that it was not right for me and declined. These spiritual intuitions came with spiritual conviction and clarity.

Then, during a conversation where I was questioned at length about my rejections of these wonderful offers, it was revealed to me that this member of upper management felt stung by a remark I had made in private to a colleague. Now, together with my manager, he was attempting to orchestrate my layoff as part of the merger. My regret for the thoughtless remark was sincere and deep. I wasted no time in mentally chastising my colleague for repeating it. As I disciplined my thought in this tense situation, I saw a clear need to love and forgive myself, and to love and forgive my colleagues. 

First, I knew it was necessary to see that I wasn’t really a thoughtless mortal and instead vigorously see, recognize, and declare my innocence as God’s child—therefore untarnished, spotless, guiltless. In truth I could never cause emotional distress to anyone. I could not offend or be offended. I could not hurt or be hurt. I could not be disrespectful of others nor be scorned. 

Chagrined, I asked God to “purge me with hyssop” (Psalms 51:7)—to cleanse and purify my thought, and to renew my affection for others. Affirming that my spiritual identity remained pure and untouched by lies of thoughtlessness or betrayal was essential. 

It helped to lift my thought above the sense of hurt, anguish, and potential job loss, to the actual spiritual reality of uninterrupted harmony, joy, and worthiness. This took persistence. But as I did this, I saw myself as truly pure and innocent, and I forgave myself. A sense of peace enveloped me, and joy returned. Then, from this vantage point of spiritual realization, I was able to freely and willingly see everyone involved as God sees them: as pure and innocent as I am! 

Reversing claims of jealousy, animosity, and revenge, I affirmed that God’s government and control over His idea overrules injustices of every kind. God’s child cannot be tempted to disobey the Golden Rule, because in reality unselfish love governs his every motive and act. Holding to this spiritual fact overturns the lie of error and makes way for Truth, harmony, to reign in human consciousness.

Despite the picture of betrayal, animosity, and revenge, I chose to love and forgive everyone involved unconditionally. And I dismissed every temptation to be angry or upset with my managers. 

What we think and how we think matter greatly.

After praying along these lines for several weeks, when the merger took place, an interesting thing happened. Late one afternoon, our director called for everyone in our department to gather around him. He briefly stated that the merger would not become an opportunity for anyone in management to settle scores. He assured us that each section of our particular department would be reviewed carefully to determine whether or not it was functionally necessary to our new mandate. 

This man’s intervention was significant because he made it clear that the review process would be impartial. In a few weeks, one section of our department—the one management had attempted to steer me into—was disbanded. I remained at the firm for several months after this, until a wonderful opportunity elsewhere appeared on the horizon. 

To discipline our thought to be in harmony with God, to know the truth of perfect God and perfect man always, to conform our words and deeds to a Christly standard—these are important goals that we should all strive for. If we let ourselves be “conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2), as St. Paul puts it, we are more or less at the mercy of human will, mortality, and materiality. But if we think from the standpoint of our oneness with God as His spiritual idea or reflection, we are expressing the Mind (a Bible-based synonym for God) that was in Christ Jesus (see Philippians 2:5). 

It is our responsibility to discipline our thought when faced with unpleasant, difficult situations. Unkind, hateful human opinions and gossip would tempt us to give up our spiritual resolve. But disciplining our thought to think correctly—in a Christianly scientific way—about the situation will help us rise above it. If God, divine Love, does not do or create hateful things, then His reflection, man, cannot think or act hatefully. 

The power of divine Love wipes out hatred and shows that it was never real or powerful in the first place. In my case, right when the hatefulness or betrayal seemed to occur, right then Love was all-inclusive, all-embracing, all-harmonious, voicing its tender affection and pouring out wisdom and strength and understanding to all of its children. The immensity and infinitude of Love annihilate all sense of jealousy, envy, cruelty, animosity, pettiness—all that is unlike God, good.

Our dominion and ability to think rightly come from our oneness with God.

Conscious of our spiritual dominion, we are less impressed by the testimony of the physical senses, by the opinions and remarks of others, and by mortal mind’s stew of hatred in all its varieties and intensities. We are here to do good, to reflect and serve God, to love Him and all mankind. And nothing can stop us from doing the work that God gives us to do. Only a false material consciousness sees evil as a reality and reacts to it. As the spiritual truths of being saturate our consciousness, the pure light of the Christ, Truth, exposes and dissolves the claims of evil, or error.

We have divine assurance that we are not mortals, trapped in a soap opera of embattled wills, unable to free ourselves from self-ignorance, self-justification, or self-love. In her book Pulpit and Press, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, gives us sound counsel: “Know, then, that you possess sovereign power to think and act rightly, and that nothing can dispossess you of this heritage and trespass on Love. If you maintain this position, who or what can cause you to sin or suffer?” (p. 3). 

We attain and maintain this position of dominion by disciplining our thought to always know the truth. Thought filled with God’s goodness and love, and the knowledge that God is present and active right where we are, shields us. This shield is impenetrable, unassailable. 

Our dominion and ability to think rightly come from our oneness with God. This dominion is ours forever, in every situation we find ourselves in. Dominion doesn’t ebb and flow, but remains constant. Dominion is not reactive. Dominion means rising above the lies of hatred and betrayal, and loving our enemy with spiritual affection, seeing him as God’s innocent, pure, and loving child, and not the tool or fool of error.

Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy states, “The wicked man is not the ruler of his upright neighbor” (p. 239). The upright individual, having the spiritual discipline of self-government and with his thought in harmony with God, governs himself scientifically. Through his spiritual affection and love for all, including his enemies, he may help reform his enemy. 

Breaking the mesmerism of a power apart from God frees both parties from disagreement and disagreeable behavior. It ends bitterness and resentment, and restores complete harmony. It is not intelligent to hate. It is not intelligent to be rude or unkind or thoughtless. We can break these bad habits in ourselves by disciplining our thought, and then help others to win their freedom.

By disciplining my thought to be more Christlike, a tense business encounter was harmoniously resolved. No matter what situation we face, divine Love is already present to guide our steps forward in a meaningful way. And we can radiate peace, love, and joy as we move steadily forward with grace and spiritual discipline. 

It matters not what be thy lot,
   So Love doth guide;
For storm or shine, pure peace is thine,
   Whate’er betide. 
(Mary Baker Eddy, Poems, p. 79)

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