Q: The "m" words in Christian Science
This question came in to me on Facebook from a college student friend:
Can you explain what Mary Baker Eddy meant by the terms "mortal mind" "mind" "matter" and "mortal man?" I need some clarification on what she meant when she uses those words.
Also, how do explain the passage from St. Paul when he talks about the body being a temple of the Holy Spirit?
Thanks for the question. Below are some passages from Science and Health that use these terms and show the relationship between them, along with some commentary by me.
MIND. The only I, or Us; the only Spirit, Soul, divine Principle, substance, Life, Truth, Love; the one God; not that which is in man, but the divine Principle, or God, of whom man is the full and perfect expression; Deity, which outlines but is not outlined. (p. 591)
When “Mind” is capitalized in MBE’s writings, she means Mind as defined above—God, Spirit. When it’s not capitalized, she means human consciousness or mortal mind, the mind we think we have that is distinct from Mind. Divine Science reveals however that we have no such lower-case mind—there is only one Mind, and that is God.
Here’s how matter and mortal mind relate in Christian Science:
It is mortal mind which convulses its substratum, matter. (p. 80)
[Christian] Science shows that what is termed matter is but the subjective state of what is termed by the author mortal mind. (p. 114)
Matter and mortal mind are but different strata of human belief. The grosser substratum is named matter or body; the more ethereal is called mind. This so-called mind and body is the illusion called a mortal, a mind in matter. In reality and in Science, both strata, mortal mind and mortal body, are false representatives of man. (p. 293)
What we term mortal mind or carnal mind, dependent on matter for manifestation, is not Mind. God is Mind: all that Mind, God, is, or hath made, is good, and He made all. Hence evil is not made and is not real. (p. 311)
Interesting—according to MBE’s statement above, mortal mind is dependent on matter for manifestation. That clarified some things for me this morning as I did this research. You can tell if it’s mortal mind if it needs matter to be actualized. That makes it easier!
And here’s some flat out definitions from the Glossary. You can see how mortal mind, matter, mortality, nothingness, mythology, etc., are woven throughout both terms. In many ways, they’re interchangeable, and simply indicate what MBE said above, different strata of the same false belief.
MATTER. Mythology; mortality; another name for mortal mind; illusion; intelligence, substance, and life in non-intelligence and mortality; life resulting in death, and death in life; sensation in the sensationless; mind originating in matter; the opposite of Truth; the opposite of Spirit; the opposite of God; that of which immortal Mind takes no cognizance; that which mortal mind sees, feels, hears, tastes, and smells only in belief. (p. 591)
MORTAL MIND. Nothing claiming to be something, for Mind is immortal; mythology; error creating other errors; a suppositional material sense, alias the belief that sensation is in matter, which is sensationless; a belief that life, substance, and intelligence are in and of matter; the opposite of Spirit, and therefore the opposite of God, or good; the belief that life has a beginning and therefore an end; the belief that man is the offspring of mortals; the belief that there can be more than one creator; idolatry; the subjective states of error; material senses; that which neither exists in Science nor can be recognized by the spiritual sense; sin; sickness; death. (p. 591)
Some defining ideas about mortal man can be gleaned from these passages:
The Science of being reveals man and immortality as based on Spirit. Physical sense defines mortal man as based on matter, and from this premise infers the mortality of the body. (p. 191)
Mortal man is the antipode of immortal man in origin, in existence, and in his relation to God. (p. 215)
Mortal man is really a self-contradictory phrase, for man is not mortal, "neither indeed can be;" man is immortal. (p. 478)
Science and Health attempts to describe for us nothingness, that which has no reality, so that we can learn to recognize the unrealities and see through them. MBE had to invent terms that came closest to what she saw as the different phases of nothingness, but it’s all nothingness. When reading Science and Health, I’ve found it helpful never to forget that.
It’s also important to remember that the nothingness terms are zero, and the infinite terms are infinite. Meaning, to my mind we need to be sure we’re spending a proportionate amount of prayer time on the infinite, rather than dwelling too long on nothingness. Nothingness in all its forms is to be dismissed. The infinite—Love, Mind, Truth, Spirit—is to be glorified and magnified in our thought so that nothingness is dispelled naturally.
Dwell with the somethingness of Spirit, and the rest of this becomes clear.
I’ll address the question about being a temple of the Holy Spirit tomorrow.
Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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