Kindness Science

Whatever furnishes the semblance of an idea governed  by its Principle, furnishes food for thought. Through astronomy, natural history, chemistry, music, mathematics,  thought passes naturally from effect back to cause.  Academics of the right sort are requisite. Observation, invention, study, and original thought are expansive  and should promote the growth of mortal mind out of itself, out of all that is mortal. – from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy

Science of healing, divine Science, Science of Creation, Christian Science, Science of Mind, Science of being, Science of Genesis – these are all terms one can find in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.

And I’d like to humbly suggest  another term for a study that I have found to be  demonstrable and practical: Kindness Science.

Recently I was involved in a dialogue about the nature of science.  Actually, “dialogue” might be the wrong word to use here – a dialogue usually involves an exchange of ideas, a sharing, an exploration. This was more of a monologue, I guess, or a lecture – with me as the student, expected to sit quietly and listen, while others threw their great wisdom and knowledge at me.  I get this kind of thing a lot.  I’m genuinely interested in learning what others think, believe, and feel about things, and so I ask people questions, and invite them to share. But, weirdly, I’ve found that people aren’t always so eager to find out what I think, feel, and believe about things. And so I end up becoming the recipient of a one-sided conversation – often with the other person telling me what I think, feel, and believe and judging me based on his own assumptions regarding my thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.  It can all be a little odd.

Anyway.  So in this particular “dialogue”  my lecturers let me know how impossible it would be to prove Christian Science to them – that all the evidences and proofs – the physical healings and other demonstrations of Christian Science I shared with them – were just personal anecdotes and proved nothing (in spite of the fact that several of these demonstrations were witnessed by medical scientists), and that I’d have to have at least a level six “sigma” (don’t ask, I’m still trying to figure that one out) if I wanted anyone else to believe what I’d shared.

And I know. Personal anecdotes really aren’t proof of anything to anyone but the person who’s actually experienced them, I guess.

But there were things in what my lecturers were telling me that didn’t quite add up, either. There was some bias. There seemed to be an inability to separate fact from opinion. And – here’s the thing that really exasperated me – there was a pompous bossiness, too – there seemed to be an expectation that if I were a rational person I would, of course, have the same perspective and beliefs my lecturers have about the world.  So. Ahem. I sort of stopped being a good listener at one point. And all hell broke loose.

I took a break from the dialogue.  Took a nice long walk in the sunshine, weeded the garden, and went to the memorial service of one of my mom’s cousins.  Roger had lived a really wonderful life and had a positive impact on the lives of a lot of people. As I listened to all the good that Roger had done for his community – his peace activism, his work on behalf of a clean environment, his scholarly attainments, and the kindness and patience he’d shown to others throughout his life – I felt a little ashamed of myself for my recent impatience and exasperation in the dialogue in which I’d been participating.

Memorial services always help me remember what’s really important in life. And what’s not all that important.

I realized I hadn’t been practicing my own Science with the dedication and devotion to it that was needed to demonstrate its truth.  I decided it was time to practice kindness Science on those very people who would say they don’t believe in kindness Science. I made them a part of my experiment, and a part of my demonstration.  I consciously made the decision to respond with nothing but kindness, and with genuine love in my heart towards those with whom I was engaged in The Dialogue.  And, as I predicted from my previous experience with kindness Science, those with whom I was engaged in the dialogue responded back to me with kindness, too. And we moved on.  “Love is reflected in love,” writes Mary Baker Eddy in the textbook for Christian Science.  Through my use of kindness Science, I was, once again, able to prove the truth of this statement for myself.

Kindness Science is effectual, demonstrable, provable, practical Science – and it has, I believe, a far more direct and important impact on our lives than, say, the study of the movement of the stars in the sky, or the layers of sediment in a rock wall.

***

Because the Science of Mind seems to bring into dishonor the ordinary scientific schools, which wrestle with material observations alone, this Science has  met with opposition… In divine Science, the supposed laws of matter yield to the  law of Mind. What are termed natural science and material laws are the objective  states of mortal mind… the physical universe expresses the conscious and unconscious thoughts of mortals.

God is Mind, and God is  infinite; hence all is Mind. On this statement rests the Science of being, and the Principle of this Science is divine, demonstrating harmony and immortality.

You will learn  that in Christian Science the first duty is to obey  God, to have one Mind, and to love another as yourself.

– from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy

***

There are several posters in the aforementioned Dialogue with whom I always enjoy exchanging ideas. They’re smart, curious, and genuinely interested in what others have to say.  For anyone who’d like to read some of our exchange, I’ll post an excerpt from The Dialogue here:

Nova:  Just curious and mean no ill-will, just finding out! I’m curious to go into that CS psyche of yours! I know you mentioned one example, that of human fear, but I’m interested in the following. How does this sound:

“Well, when I go see a human doctor, or even when I begin to contemplate needing medical assistance in my healing, then I begin to listen to medical science’s answers. They are ok, to a point. But, then, I feel thoughts arising in me that feel like I’m turning away from healing from divine Mind and trusting in something other than the divine Mind.”

Does that register anything?

Karen: Nope. Honestly, no. My pointy little head doesn’t work in that way. Maybe there are Christian Scientists who do look at it that way, though. I’m not sure. But I’m never motivated by feelings of guilt or a “turning away from healing from divine Mind” feeling or worry about not being loyal to divine Mind or anything. For me, it’s more like…

Well, for instance, when I woke up to find my hand inflated to twice its normal size, and really painful – I couldn’t bend my fingers or anything – I think at first I was kind of… “well, this is interesting”… I wasn’t sure what was going on there. But I got myself dressed and drove to my workplace and I think my thought was that I’d just work around it until it went away or something. But when I showed my hand to my co-workers to see if they’d had any experience with something like this, they were all really scared for me. One of them told me about an allergic reaction that had nearly killed her son. I think three or four other people mentioned that flesh-eating disease or serious infections that had nearly killed them or their loved ones. Everyone advised me to see a doctor post haste. So – I really like my hand, you know – it’s useful and quick and good at sports and kind of attractive, too – although it’s rarely manicured or anything… but I digress… anyway… the thought of losing my hand was pretty scary to me. So I called our family doctor right away and left work to see him. Normally he laughs with me about stuff, but this time he was not laughing. He was pretty serious, actually. He said he thought it was either a serious infection or rheumatoid arthritis – although my case wasn’t typical of either one of those because I didn’t have any open wounds and my joints weren’t inflamed. He wanted to start me on drugs right away – some to address the one thing, and some to address the other – and he wanted to run blood tests on me. I agreed to the blood tests, but I told him I didn’t want to start taking any drugs until I knew better what was going on with me.

So I guess the question here would be why I chose not to take the drugs?

I can’t recall exactly now the course my thoughts took. This was several years ago. But my thoughts might have run something like this:

1) The one or two times I’ve ever actually taken pharmaceuticals, I’ve always had a bad side effect from them. I might have thought, too, about the time my son had gotten a really bad reaction from one of the ‘cillin drugs. When we went to the doctor to see what we could do about it, he’d said he could give my son drugs to counteract the side effects of the first drug. My son asked him if this new drug might have side effects, too, and the doctor admitted this was the case – all drugs have side effects, he pointed out. I could see the wheels turning in my son’s head – “And then I’d need to take another drug to undo the side effects of the drug I’d be taking to undo the side effects of the first drug?” he asked. The doctor nodded. My son has a pretty-evolved sense of humor. “No, thanks,” he’d said, grinning. We’d gone home and called a CS practitioner, and the side effects had quickly been removed. With no side effects. 🙂 Anyway. So yeah, I guess I’ve become really skeptical about the whole drug-thing from personal experience with it.

2) The other thing that probably came into play, though, is that when I’m working out a problem through my understanding of Christian Science, part of the process for me is real-izing the “reality” of Spirit, and the nothingness of matter – and, in taking drugs, I’d, in essence, be giving power to matter, and working contrary to what I needed to do for a healing in Christian Science. I probably wanted to give myself the opportunity to work this out in Christian Science first. My husband, who’s not a Christian Scientist, has, from the beginning of our marriage, sort of sets thing before me like this: “If you don’t get your healing by (and he’ll give me some time frame) you’re going to the doctor.” In the first years of our marriage he meant this as an ultimatum – now it’s more of an… he expects me to get healed now… and he seems to know it helps me when he gives me a challenge. (A couple years after we were married, he said: “You know with other Christian churches when someone gets healed it’s a miracle – a really big deal – in Christian Science it’s just an every day thing.”)

So I didn’t take the drugs, I went in for the blood tests, and came home and called for prayerful support from a Christian Science practitioner.

Although there’s no format or template or anything for CS healing – sometimes healing can come so quickly – instantly – with just a quick change of thought – that there’s really no process involved. But usually I start with an affirmation of God, Good, Love, as the only power, the only reality. Then… well, I’ll do a copy and paste here of a post I wrote somewhere else – imagine me talking to myself here –

You are the idea of Love and Truth and Life – eternally perfect and whole, healthy and active, unchanged, undimmed, loved, loving, intelligent, alert, aware of all good. The belief that you can ever be less than your perfect, ideal self, is a lie. The belief that you can ever be separated from Love, Good, God, is a lie. As an idea, you dwell forever within the consciousness of Love. You are the image and likeness of Love. You are the perfect child of perfect Love. You reflect nothing but Love, Spirit, Life, Truth, Principle, Mind, Soul. There’s nothing about you that is imperfect, for there’s nothing in your Father-Mother out of which imperfection could come.

And, for the treatment of my hand, I definitely handled the fear in my thought: “Fear, which is an element of all disease, must be cast out to readjust the balance for God… Take possession of your body, and govern its feeling and action. Rise in the strength of Spirit to resist all that is unlike good. God has made man capable of this, and nothing can vitiate the ability and power divinely bestowed on man… ” (from the CS textbook by Mary Baker Eddy)

The next morning my hand was even MORE puffed-up. But the fear in my thought was completely gone, and I felt that my thought had been healed…

And by the second morning my hand was completely back to normal. 🙂

When I called the doctor’s office to find out what the results of the blood test were, the receptionist said that one of the markers in the blood test indicated rheumatoid arthritis, and they wanted me to set up an appt with a rheumatoid arthritis specialist. I told her my hand was completely fine now. She was really surprised by this, and called a nurse to the phone to talk to me. I told the nurse the hand was deflated, and there was nothing wrong with me at all. She was… I could imagine her trying to process what I was telling her… she finally said that if anything changed to let them know, but she guessed they wouldn’t “go any further” with it right then.

That was, as I said, several years ago, and there’s been no return of the condition. 🙂

Nova: So, we are talking about a very personal choice, that may appear to be in opposition to something (say, medical science) at some level, but really isn’t against it, per se, but is simply you choosing something else.

Karen: Exactement!!! 🙂
Yes!
Thank you, Nova, for staying with me as I worked my way through this one and just letting me share with you. I know I’m probably the only one on here who sees things the way I do – in fact, if another CSist joined me on here, I’m not even sure he’d have the same perspective as me – but it’s just such a relief to be able to share, and not be blasted at the get-go. 🙂

Nova: ” If this same outcome (jumping to the healing of the hand without medical science intervention) happens to a non CS person, what do you say is the source of healing?”

Karen: Love. Truth. Good.

I don’t believe Christian Scientists have any monopoly on the power of God or anything, any more than those who study geology have some kind of monopoly on the beauty of rocks, or those who study physics somehow own gravity. 🙂

Scoby: Why do you suppose God would have any preference at all for having his people be healed by means other than these things (vaccinations and antibiotics)?

Karen: I don’t think God – the one I believe in, anyway – has any preference one way or the other. I don’t think God has any thought about that stuff at all. And I think when we try to attribute human opinions and preferences to God then we’re anthropomorphizing God. Trying to put God inside some kind of human framework, and limiting God. Love just keeps on being Love, and Truth just keeps on being Truth – and unchanging Love and Truth (God) aren’t affected one way or the other by what humans do or think or opine or prefer.

In Praise of Science and Technology

“Whatever furnishes the semblance of an idea governed by its Principle, furnishes food for thought. Through astronomy, natural history, chemistry, music, mathematics, thought passes naturally from effect back to cause… Academics of the right sort are requisite. Observation, study, and original thought are expansive and should promote the growth of mortal mind out of itself, out of all that is mortal.”

– from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy

 ***

My dad is 94 – he  was born in 1918. It’s mind-boggling for me to think about all that he’s witnessed and lived through in his life.  He was born near the end of World War I, and two years before women in the United States got the right to vote. He lived through The Great Depression, and served in World War II. He was around for the first radio broadcast, the first flight across the Atlantic, and the first “talking picture.” When he was born people used these things called phonographs to listen to music (I did, too), and typewriters to write stories (me, too!) – and if a writer made a mistake on a typewriter, she couldn’t just “delete” it – she had to type the whole *@#$%* page over again! (Yeah, the exclamation mark indicates some personal experience with this.) Toasters, yo-yos, television (we didn’t get our first TV until I was six or seven), color television (we didn’t get our first color TV until I was a teenager), duct tape, microwave ovens, Velcro, hula hoops, calculators, post-it notes, computers, personal computers, videos, phonographs, liquid paper, DVDs, CDs, i-pods, and our first launch into space and our landing on the moon have all come during Dad’s lifetime.  He is a piece of walking history. 🙂

In Prose Works (Miscellany, p. 345), we find an interesting dialogue about science and technology between Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science church, and an interviewer. The interviewer asks Eddy how she feels about the “pursuit of modern material inventions,” and Eddy replies: “Oh, we cannot oppose them. They all tend to newer, finer, more etherealized ways of living. They seek the finer essences. They light the way to the Church of Christ. We use them, we make them our figures of speech. They are preparing the way for us.”

Although I myself have sometimes considered Luddite membership – usually following a skirmish with my laptop’s recalcitrant hardware, or frustration over trying to figure out which icon to push on my new cellphone – this occasional desire to chuck my phone into the nearest river is not something that comes from my study of Christian Science.  It’s just me being me.

Christian Science is not at odds with science and technology.

In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes: “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.” Eddy published her book in 1875 – almost 100 years before man landed on the moon – yet she seemed able to foretell some of the advances in science that we have come to see. Pretty cool, ay? (Piece of trivia here: The wife and the mother of Alan Shephard, the first guy NASA shot into space, were both Christian Scientists.)

My Christian Science mom (born in 1927) is huge into quantum physics. I don’t mean that she’s formally educated in it or anything (she was a music major – my dad was the one educated in the sciences – he was a geologist) – but the concepts in quantum physics absolutely fascinate her. She’s got tons of books and videos on the subject – and gets great joy from contemplating that stuff.

Unlike my mom, there are Christian Scientists who are actual physicists – and probably some of them are fascinated by the idea that the more you study matter the more you realize how little substance there actually is to it. From what I can gather most of the material world around us is actually filled with electrical fields and there’s more “space” between atoms than there is substance. So really, even from a physically scientific standpoint, matter doesn’t exist, or it hardly exists. (Sort of puts a whole new perspective on Mary Baker Eddy’s thought that matter is illusion, doesn’t it?) 🙂

I’ve often heard people separate religion and science, and talk about the two things like they are mutually exclusive. And I would agree that some religious people do seem to see science as the enemy.  Some religious folks have even gone so far as to consciously and deliberately make a war on science – and I find this appalling. (For a really enlightening read on this subject , you might check out wikipedia’s article on The Wedge Document – “The Wedge Document outlines a public relations campaign meant to sway the opinion of the public, popular media, charitable funding agencies, and public policy makers. According to critics, the wedge document, more than any other Discovery Institute project, demonstrates the Institute’s and intelligent design’s political rather than scientific purpose.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_strategy)

But Christian Scientists are not creationists or Intelligent Design adherents. We don’t believe the first chapters of Genesis are to be interpreted literally, and don’t believe the world was actually created in seven days and seven nights. (For more about how Christian Scientists view creation, you might want to read the chapter entitled Genesis in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.)

In the battle between religious ideology and science, Mary Baker Eddy chose science. In Prose Works, she writes: “On the startled ear of humanity rings out the iron tread of merciless invaders, putting man to the rack for his conscience, or forcing from the lips of manhood shameful confessions, – Galileo kneeling at the feet of priestcraft, and giving the lie to science.”

Mary Baker Eddy believed her discovery of Christian Science to be a scientific one, based on a provable Principle that brings healing to the world.  And, even with my own limited understanding of Christian Science, I have been able to prove – to myself – that by resting my thoughts upon this Principle (God, Love, Truth, Life), I can experience healing in a dependable and consistent way.

And I guess this brings us to medical science.

Some of the best, most honorable and intelligent people I know, are medical doctors.  They are motivated by a desire to heal the world, to use their intelligence and talents to bring wholeness and well-being to others. And I’m so glad to be able to call a number of them my “friends.”  Some of them do remarkable work for their fellow man – and it stems from their love of humanity.

But medical science is not like physics. It’s not an exact science, with dependable principles and rules. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it seems to help people, and sometimes it kills them.  Medical scientists cannot make a guarantee that their science will cure its adherents, and that it won’t harm or kill them instead.

In the interview I mentioned earlier, the reporter asks Mrs. Eddy how Christian Scientists should look on health laws of the States regarding infectious and contagious diseases. Eddy answers: “I say ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.’ …  knowing…  that the fear of catching smallpox is more dangerous than any material infection, I say: Where vaccination is compulsory, let your children be vaccinated, and see that your mind is in such a state that by your prayers vaccination will do the children no harm.” Regarding the use of drugs, Eddy says: “I was dosed with drugs until they had no effect on me. The doctors said I would live if the drugs could be made to act on me. Then homoepathy came like blessed relief to me, but I found that when I prescribed pellets without any medication they acted just the same and healed the sick.”

The drugs we see advertised on television do not seem like something any sane person would want to get tangled up with. Loss of memory, diarrhea, dry mouth, vomiting, thoughts of suicide, depression, liver damage, rashes, death – these possible side effects of drugs do not make me want to run out and get them. I know – call me loopy –  but when my health and life are on the line, I’d rather turn to the method of healing that has consistently worked for me, than some lab-tested drug  that may or may not cure me, and could possibly kill me.  Tested with the scientific method, these drugs may be – but that doesn’t guarantee they’ll work.

Medical research has shown that certain emotions – fear, anger, hate – produce chemicals that can affect your physical health:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090304091229.htm
http://psycnet.apa.org/?fa=main.doiLanding&fuseaction=showUIDAbstract&uid=2000-13324-011

– and I think this research on the mind-body connection correlates well to the teachings of Christian Science which include the belief that our state of mind determines our human experience. On the first website I listed above, the research indicates that your emotions play an even bigger role than having basic needs. If I were a medical doctor I think  this is the kind of research I’d be interested in studying further. I’d be studying to learn why a placebo is often as effective as the actual drug, and looking into the connection between a person’s thoughts and emotions and their physical health.

Is Christian Science an enemy of science? Nay, nada, nope. Is Christian Science a science? Well, I guess all I can say about that is that in my own personal experience it has provided me with reliable, consistent, dependable results time after time.