A few years ago, my son took a college class in anatomy for his education degree. One of his three-hour labs entailed dissecting a cat to review the parts and systems of the body for confirmation of what they had studied in class. Although he’d been queasy, my son spoke with confidence that he had accomplished this task successfully.
Dissection gives the student a picture of the physical being. But there is another way to look at anatomy–one that relates to our thinking.
More and more physicians are coming to the conclusion that physicality alone does not determine one’s health. Emotional, psychological and even societal forces are being increasingly considered when it comes to the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Dr. Christina Pulchalski, Dr. Larry Dossey, Dr. Harold Keonig and others have made landmark strides in bringing mindfulness, spirituality, prayer and faith into the discussion of effective health care.
Still, these mental and spiritual methods are often denigrated to a secondary status – helpers – rather than considered as a primary way of treating disease. That’s because prevalent health theories insist that man is biological, therefore disease is biological and we need something pharmacological to control or alleviate it.
Health researcher and Christian healer Mary Baker Eddy came to a different conclusion. After years of being treated unsuccessfully through allopathic medicine, homeopathy, hydropathy and even hypnotism, she came to the conclusion that disease was not biological, but mental. She then probed the Bible to find how Jesus healed mentally. This search unfolded to her the reliable power of the Christ that Jesus taught–the power of God to heal.
Then a whole new train of thought opened for her. She recognized that man as God’s likeness must be spiritual, not material or biological. This realization brought her to a new definition of anatomy. She wrote, “Anatomy, when conceived of spiritually is mental self-knowledge, and consists in the dissection of thoughts to discover their quality, quantity, and origin.”
She taught that all dissecting of thought should be done with tenderness and love, and then showed how this knowledge could be helpful: “The anatomy of Christian Science teaches when and how to probe the self-inflicted wounds of selfishness, malice, envy, and hate….It urges the hallowed influences of unselfishness, philanthropy, spiritual love.”
She further found that when one’s thinking is permeated with the Christ –with the understanding of God’s unconditional love and power — the cure of disease occurs. As she gained this understanding, her own experiences of healing herself and others taught her the effectiveness of prayer in the treatment of pain and illness.
I have often found this understanding helpful to me when I’m ill. For instance, a few years ago I began to manifest symptoms of a painful internal disease. It became increasingly worse until certain functions of my body began to slow down to a marked degree. As I continued to ask myself “What is wrong?”, I remembered Eddy’s passage about anatomy. I realized how afraid I was. I had trusted spiritual healing in the past, but I discovered that this time doubt had crept into my thinking.
I turned to this Bible passage for guidance and support, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (Isa. 41: 10). It gave me the courage I needed to continue praying to acknowledge the supremacy of God that reaches human thought, dispels fear and consequently heals disease. This was the power of the Christ, Truth, at work. For the next few weeks, I continued probing my thinking and replacing fearful thoughts with assurances of God’s supremacy and man’s ultimate spiritual identity.
This dissecting prayer quieted the pain and eventually brought complete healing.
Since then, when facing illness I am less apt to ask, “What have I eaten? or, Did I do too much today?” than I am to ask myself, “Is my thinking toward others, as well as myself, more angry or kind, more hurtful or blessing, more fearful or loving? In other words, Am I letting human speculation and will or the Christ influence me?” As I have succeeded in displacing the fearful, angry, materially-based thinking for thought filled with divine goodness, I have found this an extremely practical way to health.
©2017 Christian Science Committee on Publication for Illinois