On Consciousness: A Comparison Between Biocentrism and Christian Science

Home is the consciousness of good

 That holds us in its wide embrace;

 The steady light that comforts us

In every path our footsteps trace.

 – Rosemary Cobham, Christian Science Hymnal Supplement, #443

***

I just finished reading Robert Lanza’s book, Biocentricism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe. I found it thought-provoking and utterly fascinating. And as I was reading Lanza’s book, I couldn’t help but make comparisons between the ideas I was reading in it, to the ideas found in Christian Science.

Lanza writes: “Take the seemingly undeniable logic that your kitchen is always there, its contents assuming all their familiar forms, shapes, and colors, whether or not you are in it… But consider: the refrigerator, stove, and everything else are composed of a shimmering swarm of matter/energy. Quantum theory… tells us that not a single one of those subatomic particles actually exists in a definite place. Rather, they merely exist as a range of probabilities that are unmanifest.”

A little later, Lanza writes: “Three components are necessary for a rainbow. There must be sun, there must be raindrops, and there must be a conscious eye (or its surrogate, film) at the correct geometric location… your eyes must be located at that spot where the refracted light from the sunlit droplets converges to complete the required geometry. A person next to you will complete his or her own geometry… and will therefore see a separate rainbow… As real as the rainbow looks, it requires your presence just as much as it requires sun and rain.” In other words, the answer to the question about whether a tree falling in a forest makes a sound if there’s no one to hear it, is “no.” A falling tree may make waves and vibrations, but an ear is needed to turn those waves and vibrations into sound. Lanza writes: “… without perception, there can be no reality.”

In her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, a book published back in 1875, Mary Baker Eddy writes: “Belief in a material basis… is slowly yielding to the idea of a metaphysical basis, looking away from matter to Mind as the cause of every effect.” Eddy writes: “Metaphysics resolves things into thoughts, and exchanges the objects of sense for the ideas of Soul.” And further in the book she writes: “As mortals gain more correct views of God and man, multitudinous objects of creation, which before were invisible, will become visible.”

In Biocentricism, Robert Lanza points out that the “dividing line between self and nonself is generally taken to be the skin, strongly implying that I am this body and nothing else.” But Lanza believes this is a myth. “Nothing,” he writes, “is perceived except the perceptions themselves, and nothing exists outside of consciousness.” According to Lanza then, we are directly connected to whatever we see, feel, and hear – it’s not outside our consciousness, but a part of it – and there’s no separation between what we perceive and what we are.

Mary Baker Eddy would agree that individuals are not isolated beings, separated from the rest of the universe, but she has a different take on our connectedness to each other, and to all. “When the divine precepts are understood, they unfold the foundation of fellowship, in which one mind is not at war with another, but all have one Spirit, God, one intelligent source, in accordance with the Scriptural command: ‘Let this Mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.’ Man and his Maker are correlated in divine Science, and real consciousness is cognizant only of the things of God.”

Of western religions – Christianity, Judaism, Islam – Lanza writes: “No mention is made of other states of consciousness, nor of consciousness itself… except in mystical sects…” Ahem. Well. Yeah. This is simply not true. In her textbook (published in 1875 – long before Lanza arrived on Earth) for Christian Science – a denomination that is considered “Christian” by its adherents, and which they do not consider in the least “mystical,” Mary Baker Eddy mentions “consciousness” 80 times.

But I suppose we can make a distinction between the consciousness Lanza is attempting to explain in his book, and the consciousness Eddy refers to in hers. Lanza talks about the structure of the brain, and a physical universe. Eddy speaks of a spiritual consciousness – the consciousness of Mind, God – and provides a practical use for drawing our thoughts near to that consciousness: “When we realize that Life is spirit, never in nor of matter, this understanding will expand into self-completeness, finding all in God, good, and needing no other consciousness.”

“To succeed in healing,” Eddy writes, “you must conquer your own fears as well as those of your patients, and rise into higher and holier consciousness.”

Eddy provides us with a choice. She claims we can choose which consciousness, which perception, we want to accept as real in our lives – and that choice will determine our experience here. “Dear reader, which mind-picture or externalized thought shall be real to you, – the material or the spiritual? Both you cannot have. You are bringing out your own ideal. This ideal is either temporal or eternal. Either Spirit or matter is your model… If sin, sickness, and death were understood as nothingness, they would disappear. As vapor melts before the sun, so evil would vanish before the reality of good. One must hide the other. How important, then, to choose good as the reality!”

Foreseeing the future, Eddy wrote in 1875: “The mariner will have dominion over the atmosphere and the great deep, over the fish of the sea and the fowls of the air. The astronomer will no longer look up to the stars, – he will look out from them upon the universe; and the florist will find his flower before its seed. Thus matter will finally be proved nothing more than a mortal belief, wholly inadequate to affect a man through its supposed organic action or supposed existence. Error will be no longer used in stating truth. The problem of nothingness, or ‘dust to dust,’ will be solved, and mortal mind will be without form and void, for mortality will cease when man beholds himself God’s reflection, even as man sees his reflection in a glass.”

***

…within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related, the eternal ONE. And this deep power in which we exist and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self-sufficing and perfect in every hour, but the act of seeing and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object, are one. We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are shining parts, is the soul. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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11 thoughts on “On Consciousness: A Comparison Between Biocentrism and Christian Science

  1. I would argue that CS could be viewed as a mystical sect – and I don’t mean that in a negative way – in that it focuses on transcending the human experience and seeing the universe as a sacred love, if you will. Non-mystical religion focuses on the rules and rites of our physical life in order to some day be elevated to a sacred place: heaven. CS seems to teach that we are already there.

  2. Oh! I’m grinning right now – didn’t expect to see your name pop up on here, my dear friend – I guess I was sort of hoping I could slide this one under the radar of my scientifically-minded friends until I could work out the bugs. Because I’m pretty sure there are bugs in here. But I’m so very glad to see you here! And so glad you took the time to respond to this post! Confession: I guess I’ve never really had a good understanding of what “mystical” means – I’ve always sort of thought it had to do with mystery and unknowns – and CS isn’t about mystery. But I really like how you describe your understanding of CS as focusing on “transcending the human experience and seeing the universe as a sacred love.” Yes, I like that very much.”CS seems to teach that we are already there.” Yes! Right on! “Behold, NOW is the day of salvation. Behold, NOW is the accepted time.” And “The kingdom of God is within us” – within our consciousness.

    So fun to see you here, Runny Babbit!
    xoxoxo Karen

  3. I haven’t read Lanza’s book…yet, but this, “we are directly connected to whatever we see, feel, and hear – it’s not outside our consciousness, but a part of it – and there’s no separation between what we perceive and what we are”, sounds like Margaret Laird. She was a one time CS saying all perception is real and we are all a part of all.
    Darn it, Karen, now I’ll have to add Lanza to my already over full “to read” list!

  4. This is brilliant, Karen, but unlike Pam, I don’t feel I even need to read Lanza’s book now! 🙂
    And I do agree with your Runny Babbit friend that the word “mysticism” can have a different meaning. I know MBE speaks of it in a negative way, but I’m thinking maybe the word has changed in meaning or taken on expanded meaning over the decades.

  5. Pam and Amy – thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here! Pam – you should see my nightstand – it is piled high with stacks of books on my “to read” list. It’s a little overwhelming. 🙂 And Amy – thank you so much for sharing your thoughts about the word “mysticism” – I think you may be right about that… 🙂

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