There is a beautiful thread running through Mary Baker Eddy's writings. It is the thread of caring, sharing ideas how to put into practice the laws of Spirit, how to be most useful to humanity, and how to live a life which is rooted in divine Love. She writes, for example, in her message for 1900:
"Our Master saith to his followers: "Bring forth things new and old." (...) Usefulness is doing rightly by yourself and others. We lose a percentage due to our activity when doing the work that belongs to another. When a man begins to quarrel with himself he stops quarreling with others." (Message for 1900, p.8)
What a blessing for our world - for this small portion of humanity which is "our world" - when we quarrel with ourselves instead of with others. When we wrestle with our own weaknesses and resistance, instead of blaming others for the fact that things don't go well. Synonyms for "quarrel" are "to cross swords, to disagree, to battle, to draw into a controversy", all words which not only sound spiky and bristled, but allude to those actions towards others which in a way say, that there is no God - no Love, goodness, Life.
Sometime ago I woke up early with this, for me, astonishing question: "It will be either one Mind, and one alone, or billions. Which will it be?" I understood this question to move me forward to a decision to stay in the oneness of goodness, which meant questioning any other mind or life separate from the oneness of God, including my own sense of "who I am." In Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy I was reading: "Divine Science explains the abstract statement that there is one Mind by the following self-evident proposition: If God, or good, is real, then evil, the unlikeness of God, is unreal. And evil can only seem to be real by giving reality to the unreal. The children of God have but one Mind." (p. 470) I understood that the question needed to be carried over into the question whether I was willing to let go of a sense of life separate from the oneness of Mind, let go of a sense of evil - the diametrical opposite of God - and humbly and quietly start questioning and quarreling with this ego, mortal selfhood which claims to be "me". For where, after all, does a sense of separation reside?
So quarreling with ourselves, what do we quarrel with? Reading the fifth chapter of Galatians and observing our world I think it is selfishness, self-interest, uncontrollable temper, selfish ambition, hostility, envy, jealousy, idleness, unwillingness to be spontaneous. In the Message we read in this chapter about "divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival."
Since that question "It will be either one Mind, and one alone, or billions. Which will it be?" I have been living differently. I try to focus and magnify good where ever I find it, I don't write down, in an email or letter, anything negative, any criticism, I don't give unsolicited advice (and if I do, my children promised to tell me) and have eliminated "pity!" from my vocabulary. If we have to mention anything that needs improvement we should earnestly pray for the right words and talk from a position which knows the ability to achieve all good in each one.
After all: We only quarrel with ourselves and stop quarreling with the world (with other drivers in the road, with neighbors who are different, with family members, who simply don't understand, with a world that just doesn't get it), if we truly and unequivocally accept ourselves as we are. This may sound like a paradox, but the position to quarrel with ourselves is a position of power, not of weakness, and the greatest power in the universe is love, unconditional love. This is the opposite of selfishness, it is unconditional self-acceptance, or, as a recent book title by a German philosopher has it, it is being our own best friend. A real friend, who tells us the truth, who works with us, who helps us to be better, who doesn't lie or betray. Being your own best friend enables you to overcome a sense of loneliness (just in case) and will give you plenty to do each day. As any work of art was at some point a work in progress, so a little progress each day adds up - quarreling with ourselves has an aim. Remembering this rule of everyday happiness and progress, by Mary Baker Eddy: "When a man begins to quarrel with himself he stops quarreling with others." And later on, in the same message she gives this counsel:
"Hold in yourselves the true sense of harmony, and this sense will harmonize, unify, and unself you." (Messsage for 1900, p. 11) Doesn't this sound like friendship in a nutshell?
There is only one world, and this world is good, powerful, strong. No dualism. Just one. Life is truly all, because God is all. And there is only one "we". And this "we" is in the middle of it - whereever: Under a tree, in the middle of a crowd, in an elevator, in school, at home, at the university, in the office. Can you put this love for God ahead of anything else and find Him/Her everywhere? And work out from God's point of view - being a force for good for others?
"A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else!" writes the psalmist (Psalm 84), and The Message translates this passage and a little more thus: "One day spent in your house, this beautiful place of worship, beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches. I’d rather scrub floors in the house of my God than be honored as a guest in the palace of sin. All sunshine and sovereign is God, generous in gifts and glory. He doesn’t scrimp with his traveling companions. It’s smooth sailing all the way with God-of-the-Angel-Armies."
This week I found the deepest peace and my way out of discouragement and a sense of feeling overwhelmed with the empowering bible lesson on "Reality". In it, I found the encouraging words to "walk in God's truth" (see Psalm 86:11). This is what I committed myself to. Life in God's truth, and this truth alone. Be available to see God everywhere. Forgetting self. Be alert to thought. Spend the day in God's presence. Don't leave. Stay in God's house, spend your day upright as God's expression in His/Her presence.
This prayer transformed itself into deep inner peace and joy and the empowerment to let go, to put my own needs behind the needs of others --- and see them met as well. Possibilities to help unfolded, healings happened in the practice, constructive ideas presented themselves effortlessly, tasks weren't so heavy anymore, opinions evaporated and peace was restored. Joy, joy, joy!
I plan to spend another day with God, because truly:
"A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else!" What an interesting, deeply enriching, productive life we all can lead - and are leading in the presence of Love. Can you say in the evening: What a good day this was, I spent it selflessly in the courts of the Lord. Where we all truly are, always. So why leave?
Who is writing?
In my work as Christian Science practitioner and writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.
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