[Lucifer, Vol. II, No. 11, July, 1888, pp. 410-414]
The object of this work, which is published in the form of twelve pamphlets, each averaging about twenty pages in length, is to prepare the reader for becoming a student of the Science of Healing by means of the Spirit, for this title (though somewhat lengthy) more accurately describes the so-called Science than the cognomen “Christian.” “Prepare the reader,” is also said advisedly; for the first ten of these pamphlets are chiefly occupied with the thesis that man’s beliefs with regard to the existence of matter being erroneous, he is thereby subject to certain illusions with regard to it, the chief of these being ill-health and disease. This is pure Berkeleyan philosophy, if not Platonism itself; Theosophists indeed, may claim for it a far older origin, for do not the early Brahmanic and Buddhist philosophies teach that all outward appearances, all phenomena, are illusion—Maya? However this
H. P. BLAVATSKY,
Corresponding Secretary of the T.S.
† Statements of Christian Science. Comprised in eighteen lessons, and twelve sections. By Ursula N. Gestefeld. Chicago, 1888.
may be, the application of the principle to the treatment of disease, if not actually new, is here presented to us in a novel form, and with a view to rendering its practice popular. It is philosophy reduced to its simplest expression. It is the physician’s highest art made common property. It is another claim to a “secret unveiled,” the secret of man’s being. And if, as the writer states, the present treatment of disease is the result of man’s belief in the reality of matter, it is doubtless necessary to begin by a somewhat lengthy chain of reasoning in order to convince him of his error, for man cannot understand what he really is so long as he pronounces upon himself as he sees only. “Not until he brings his higher powers into action, his discernment and perception, will he begin to perceive the truth about himself, which stands opposed to his own belief of himself. And never till he so perceives and understands will he reverse his decision upon himself. And never till he reverses it, will he grow into the consciousness of what he really is.” * He will remain, as the author puts it, in the Adam-state, subject to the law of matter, making to himself “graven images,” and falling down and worshipping them. And as “Adam is the model of man as we see and know him to-day, Jesus is the model of what he is to become—consciously, as he is in reality—through his own work of regeneration and redemption.” . . . . “It was this consciousness which was perfect realization, which gave him (Jesus) the power he manifested over sin, sickness and death, by which he healed the halt, the sick and the blind; by which he cast out devils and raised the dead.”† This consciousness is the chief point insisted upon in this stage of the work, for until this is realized, there is no possibility of the exercise of the healer’s power, except perhaps in a weak or partial manner. It is not therefore till we arrive at Section X that the treatment of disease is actually touched upon. In this section we are told that “what man in
* Section III, p. 18.
† Section VIII, p. 6.
his ignorance calls health is as much a belief as what he calls sickness,” and that “putting medicine into a stomach never yet changed a man’s conception of himself; but he has changed one conception or belief of his for another in consequence of his belief in the power of the medicine.” Conditions of ill-health are said to be nothing “but mental pictures which man creates for himself and believes in religiously.” We must therefore learn to dominate all those conditions to which we believe our bodies to be subject. Denial of the false, affirmation of the true, constantly in thought if not in word, is to be the first process for bringing about a change in man’s own body first, subsequently in that of others. If we deny sickness and suffering and all kinds of evil as no-things, nonexistent, not proceeding from the Infinite Mind, both as regards ourselves and all surrounding us, for all are parts of one Universal Whole (which is another purely Vedanto-Buddhistic tenet), we shall, by this transformation of the inward gradually act upon and cause a transformation of the outward, and overcome all discordant conditions, be they called sin, or suffering, or sickness. And as man is the creator of every form of sin and suffering, so is he also the transmitter of these through “Thought Transference”; diseases are communicated by this means “instead of through physical germs.” * The healer by means of “Christian Science” must attack the root of all disease, man’s belief about himself and others; he must treat the sufferer for his faults and for sin, of which his diseases arc but the extreme expression, one disease being the same as another to a scientific healer. In treating little children, it is mainly the parents who have to be dealt with, their beliefs about the child, their fear and their anxiety.
The last section closes with some instructions as to the attitude and deportment of the healer towards his patient, but the whole treatment is to be spiritual, above and beyond the plane of material being.
* Section XI, p. 12.
Such is an imperfect digest of the teaching contained in Mrs. Gestefeld’s twelve pamphlets. A candidate for “Christian Science” would have to study them in all their details; for it is only by dwelling and meditating on the principles therein set forth that one can arrive at the state of mind necessary for realizing the results to be attained. The Science of Being can be summed up in few words, but it cannot be so easily imparted, and many difficulties naturally occur to the student which require to be separately answered. A few of these must be stated at the outset.
To begin with, why premise by giving to a Science a qualification which does not belong to it? Why start with a misnomer? Why call it “Christian” rather than “Sufic,” “Buddhist,” or better than all, the “Yoga Science,” the aim of which is preeminently to attain union with the Universal Spirit? We are told by the author, as also by several other professors of this new school, that it was through this Science that Jesus healed, and that it was this Science which he taught. We demur to the statement. There is nothing whatever in the New Testament to lead to such an idea or even suspicion; and there are no other documents known more authoritative to the Christians than the Gospels. The Sermon on the Mount, which is the very embodiment of Christ’s teachings—Christianity in a nut-shell, so to say—is a code of preeminently practical as also impracticable rules of life, of daily observances, yet all on the plane of matter-of-fact earth-life. When you are told to turn your left cheek to him who smites you on the right, you are not commanded to deny the blow, but on the contrary to assert it by meekly bearing the offence; and in order not to resist evil, to turn (whether metaphorically or otherwise) your other cheek—i.e., to invite your offender to repeat the action.
Again, when your “Son,” or brother, or neighbour, asks of you bread, you arc not invited to deny the hunger of him who asks, but to give him food; as otherwise you would indeed give him instead of fish “a serpent.” Finally, sins, wickedness, diseases, etc., are not denied by Jesus, nor are their opposites, virtue, goodness and
health, anywhere affirmed. Otherwise, where would be the raison d’être for his alleged coming to save the world from the original sin? We know that “Christian Scientists” deny every theological dogma, from Eden downwards, as much as we do. Yet they affirm that which Jesus ever practically denied; and affirming (is it for the sake, and in view of the Christian majority in their audiences?), they are not in union with the Universal Spirit, which is—TRUTH.
Again, is it safe to entrust this occult power (for such it surely is) to the hands of the multitude? Did not Jesus, whom we are expressly told to take as our model, himself say:—”To you (who are disciples, initiates) it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven; but to others in parables”? Is there no danger that one who acquires this power of controlling the will and thoughts of others, and the conditions surrounding them, should fall from this high estate, and use his influence for bad purposes—in other words, that the white magic should become black? The very fact that Mrs. Gestefeld warns the healer never to give a treatment for any purpose but to make the Truth of Being manifest, “never for any personal gain,” points to this possibility; she also warns, or I may say threatens, that if this should be attempted, the would-be healer will “descend at once to the plane of mortal mind.” Perhaps this implies that the power will depart from him, but that this salutary consequence will accrue is scarcely made clear to the reader. She says, indeed, “You will be no Christian Scientist, but a mesmerist.” But to certain people this would be no objection. Where then is the guarantee, the hall-mark, of the true Christian Scientist, by which he can be known to the unwary? If this, like other spiritual things, can only be “spiritually discerned,” the patient must be equal to the healer, and will have no need of him.
Again, is it true that all our diseases are the result of wrong beliefs? The child, who has no belief, no knowledge or conception, true or false, on the subject of disease, catches scarlet fever through the transference of germs not through that of thought. One is tempted to ask,
like those of old, did the child sin or his parents? Will the answer of the Great Healer fit the case, i.e., “Neither did this child sin nor his parents, but that the glory of God might be made manifest”? The “glory of the new Christian Science,” then?—the “new” wine in very, very old bottles? And are there not among the renowned teachers of the new science, who are themselves afflicted by disease, often incurable, by pain and suffering? Will Mrs. Gestefeld, or some one nearer home, explain?
Then further, in the case of widespread epidemics, such as cholera, we know that to a certain extent these are the consequence of man’s sin, his neglect of hygienic laws, of cleanliness and good drainage, and, in proportion as these laws are obeyed, to a certain extent preventable. But there are also climatic conditions, as in the last visitation of cholera in 1884, when the epidemic seemed confined to certain areas, following some law of atmospheric currents, or other undetected, but not undiscoverable, physical cause. Can these be overcome by Christian Science? How is it they do not yield to a whole nation’s fervent prayers?—for prayer, when in earnest, is surely, at least, when accompanied by virtuous living, a mode of Christian Science, of intense WILL? And do we not see the holiest and the best, and those, too, not living in ignorance or in defiance of law, spiritual, moral, mental, or hygienic, fall victims to disease, and only able to preserve life at all with the utmost, almost abnormal, care and precaution?
But “Christian Science” goes further than that. At a lecture, in London, it was distinctly asserted that every physical disease arises from, and is the direct effect of, a mental disease or vice: e.g., “Bright’s disease of the kidneys is always produced in persons who are untruthful, and who practise deception.” Query, Would not, in this case, the whole black fraternity of Loyola, every diplomat, advocate and lawyer, as the majority of tradesmen and merchants, be incurably afflicted with this terrible evil? Shall we be next told that cancer on the tongue or in the throat is produced by those who backbite and slander their fellow men? It would be well-deserved
Karma, were it so. Unfortunately, some recent cases of this dreadful disease, carrying off two of the best, most noble-hearted and truthful men living, would give a glaring denial to such an assertion.
“Christian” (or mental) Scientists assert, furthermore, that the healer can work on a patient (even one whom he has never seen) as easily thousands of miles away, as a few yards off. Were this so, and the practice to become universal, it would hardly be a pleasant thing to know that wherever one might be, occult currents are directed towards one from unknown well-wishers at a distance, whether one wants them or not. If, on the one hand, it is rather agreeable, and even useful, in this age of slander to have other people denying your faults and vices, and thus saving you from telling lies yourself; on the other hand, it would cut from under one’s feet every possibility of amending one’s nature through personal exertion, and would deprive one at the same time of every personal merit in the matter. Karma would hardly be satisfied with such an easy arrangement.
This world would witness strange sights and the next one (a reincarnationist would say “the next rebirth”) terrible disappointments. Whether viewed from the standpoint of theists, Christians, or the followers of Eastern philosophy, such an arrangement would satisfy very few minds. Disease, mental characteristics and shortcomings, are always effects produced by causes: the natural effect of Karma, the unerring Law of Retribution, as we would say; and one gets into a curious jumble when trying to work along certain given lines of this “Christian Science” theory. Will its teachers give us more definite statements as to the general workings of their theories?
In conclusion, were these theories to prove true, their practice would only be our old friend magnetism, or hypnotism rather, with all its undeniable dangers, only on a gigantic universal scale; hence a thousand times more dangerous for the human family at large, than is the former. For no magnetizer can work upon a person whom he has never seen or come in contact with—and this is one blessing, at any rate. And this is not the case
with mental or “Christian” Science, since we are distinctly told that we can work on perfect strangers, those we have never met, and who are thousands of miles away from us. In such case, and as a first benefit, our civilized centres would do well to have their clergy and Christian communities learn the “Science.” This would save millions of pounds sterling now scraped off the bones of the starving multitudes and sunk into the insatiable digestive organs of missionary funds. Missionaries, in fact, would become useless—and this would become blessing number two. For henceforth they would have but to meet in small groups and send currents of Will beyond the “black waters” to obtain all they are striving for. Let them deny that the heathens are not Christians, and affirm that they are baptized, even without contact. Thus the whole world would be saved, and private capital likewise.
Of course it may so happen that our “heathen” brethren who have had the now called “Christian” science at their finger ends ever since the days of Kapila and Patañjali, may take it into their heads to reverse the current and set it in motion in an opposite direction. They may deny in their turn that their Christian persecutors have one- iota of Christianity in them. They may affirm that the whole of Christendom is eaten through to the backbone with diseases resulting from the seven capital sins; that millions drink themselves to death and other millions (governments included) force them to do so by building two public houses to every church, a fact which even a Christian Scientist could hardly make away with if he denied it till the next pralaya. Thus the heathen would have an advantage over the Christian Scientist in his denials and affirmations, inasmuch as he would only be telling the truth; while, by denying disease and evil, his Western colleague is simply flying into the face of fact and encouraging the unwary mystic to ignore instead of killing his sinful nature.
The present criticism may be a mistaken one, and we may have misunderstood the “Science” under analysis, in which, however, we recognise a very old acquaintance,
namely, Dhyâna, “abstract meditation.” But so much the greater the necessity for a definite explanation. For these are questions we would fain have answered, precisely in the interest of that old Science reborn under a new mask, and because it must be the desire of every true follower of Eastern Theosophy to see the doctrine of self-oblivion and altruism, as against selfishness and personality, more widely understood and practised than at present.