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There’s hardly an area of life today where we don’t find observers—observers of politics, of the economy, of social trends, of the world of entertainment. It’s natural for us to look to observers for a perspective or depth of knowledge that we might not have ourselves. It’s a way of expanding our own view.
I once had an interesting conversation with a legislative aid, in this instance a woman who helps one of the lawmakers in her state by observing and analyzing proposed legislation. I was appreciative that she gave me a view of her region and activity that I didn’t have.
During our conversation she mentioned a severe physical pain she’d recently experienced. The doctors who examined her said they could find no physiological reason for the trouble. They told her all about the known causes of that particular difficulty but said that none of them were evident in their examination. She then said to me that she was certain what was to blame. She said she had been deeply resenting someone. She was convinced that the cause of the physical difficulty was mental, in this case hatred.
I was listening to her observations, and yet couldn’t help doing some observing of my own. The woman’s frame of reference had not been strictly physical (material cause and effect). She sensed the mental nature of human experience and acknowledged hatred as a harmful and unhealthy factor.
But there was more to be seen, metaphysically, that could be an even greater benefit to her. The teachings of Christian Science could show her that man was never material and flawed in the first place, but instead is spiritual and perfect, the image of God. She could also learn that no one is stuck with the emotions linked to a mind filled with resentment and be a source of suffering. She could learn through Christian Science that God is the only Mind there is and the only cause; that God is divine Love, and that He produces only harmony. With the light of this spiritual understanding would come a recognition of the powerlessness and unreality of any claim of a so-called mortal mind. This would enable her to overcome resentment and experience physical healing as well.
So, I offered her Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. I was sure that reading Mary Baker Eddy’s book would expand and uplift her view of things. She was grateful to receive it, adding that she was slightly familiar with its teachings. As we parted ways she said, “I’m going to read this book!”
She was sincere. And she was observant. A useful example for us all. If more people were consistently watching what occupies their thought and were sincere in their efforts to guard against harmful thoughts, how much better their lives—and ours—would be. Less hatred and violence. Less selfishness. Less unhappiness. Less discomfort and disease.
The most helpful observer, however, not only watches one’s thought and identifies what’s wrong, he or she sees the importance of healing such thoughts. That’s where spiritual observation is vital.
Giving more attention to the spiritual nature and goodness of existence, letting justice, patience, forbearance, unselfishness, goodness, health, and holiness spiritualize our thought, is key to healing and reform. In this way human thought yields to the uplifting and correcting influence of the divine Mind. The divine influence destroys the false belief that life and intelligence are material and that evil has power and reality. Without this false belief, sin and disease have no foundation and must disappear.
Spiritual observation and understanding were essential in Jesus’ healing ministry. He taught that we have a responsibility to be watchful and guard against being taken in by any form of evil. But he never said that’s all there is to do. He showed the natural expression of Love in healing the sick and saving the sinful. This is based on a discernment of the truth that man is actually free from evil because he’s the image of God, perfect good. This discernment and understanding is essential. We should never lose sight of the spiritual facts of existence and the difference they make in our lives. Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Watching what comes to our thought, the self-examination that makes us aware of what would mislead and harm, is enormously important. But a knowledge of the claims of evil isn’t enough to free us from such claims. The perception of the truth of God and man is what will bring an end to sin and sickness.
Those who would be the most careful and most helpful observers today will take to heart these comments from Mrs. Eddy to a Christian Science branch church. She said: “Watch diligently; never desert the post of spiritual observation and self-examination. Strive for self-abnegation, justice, meekness, mercy, purity, love.”