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The Way Out of Self-seeking
ELLA W. HOAG, CSD

 
         To the material consciousness there seems to be little else than that which speaks of and for self-seeking. The larger portion of mankind seems absorbed in seeking that which will in some way or other enhance the comfort, pleasure, power, and magnitude of a personal selfhood. With the belief in existence as material, there has appeared to be little else to consider than the accumulation of more matter, more money, more houses, more lands, even more human learning, and the personal power which claims to accompany them.

         From earliest childhood this personal standpoint seems to be the basis of mankind's education; for is not the child generally taught to think and work and even to play from the standpoint of what will bring him most personal gain, of what will make him increasingly healthy, happy, attractive, and influential? To be sure, there have been many who with a larger Christian vision have sought to season this self-seeking with some degree of unselfishness; but just so long as the standpoint continues in any degree a personal one, even unselfishness is apt to be more or less tainted with a desire for personal profit.

         Jesus' entire life was utterly opposite to this personal sense of things. He lived wholly and completely for the good of others, never once yielding to the temptation to look selfishly for his own advantage. The unselfishness which his teaching and practice have always demanded has seemed for the most part not only unwelcome, but quite impossible of fulfillment. Because men have glimpsed the exalted nature of Jesus' example and commands, and have at the same time not seen clearly how to follow and obey them, they have sometimes concluded that Jesus must have had an especial divine ability which they could not attain, and therefore that they could scarcely be expected to live the unselfishness he invariably expressed.

         And yet, self-seeking has rarely, if ever, resulted in aught but final disappointment. Through all time men have struggled to gain personal good for themselves, only to see what they imagined to be yet higher objects ahead, and, pursuing them, have finally acknowledged that they have won little if any real satisfaction from their efforts. In spite of this, each new generation has begun again to press on in the same mistaken way of self-seeking, each new toiler hoping against hope that he might prove that the way of selfishness could result in good.

         Because of all this vain expectation, mortals have been awakening partially to the fact that the world as a whole has been looking in the wrong direction for happiness. It is beginning to see that in some way it must find a better motive than that of self-seeking, if it is to gain any good that is enduring or truly satisfying. Into a world thus heartsick and tired with its vain efforts to find real good, real satisfaction in self-seeking, truly longing to be freed from what have been proved by multitudes to be the torments of selfishness, Christian Science has come to point anew the path which Jesus trod, to show that there is no one so lowly or lofty from the world's viewpoint who may not find the way of unselfishness and walk in it.

         In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 518) Mrs. Eddy sounds the tocsin to the destruction of all self-seeking. There she writes: "The rich in spirit help the poor in one grand brotherhood, all having the same Principle, or Father; and blessed is that man who seeth his brother's need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another's good." When she thus calls attention to the fact of "one grand brotherhood" because all have "the same Principle, or Father," she opens the way out of all selfishness. In such loving manner she introduces the fact of spiritual existence apart from all materiality, and thus takes away the thought of any necessity for seeking matter or its concomitants, of seeking to enthrone or satisfy a belief in personal selfhood. Thus gently does she loosen our hold on human selfishness that we may begin to grasp the divine unselfishness.

         In spite of this it often takes the Christian Scientist some time to learn how truly simple is this way out of self-seeking. Accustomed as he has been, before coming to Christian Science, to think he must look after his own interests in a more or less insistent fashion, it does not always quickly appear possible to "forget self in laboring for mankind" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 155). This is the one method, however, which must be understood and followed in order to depart from the self-seeking which is today beginning to be recognized as the greatest bane of mortal existence.

         The truly consecrated Christian Scientist understands full well that in every word and act he must finally learn to demonstrate that love which "seeketh not her own." At first, he begins to apply the rule to the more quickly apparent beliefs of self-seeking; he will find himself rejoicing in small opportunities to promote his brother's happiness rather than his own. Then, finding the real joy which is his because of such self-sacrifice, he will be prepared to take the larger step of longing to reflect blessing without being known as an instrument therein.

         A pretty legend tells of one who had pleased God until God sent His angel to see what especial blessing He could bestow on one so faithful. Pressed by the angel to name some wish, he asked that he might bless all whom he met, and never know it. From that time, wherever his shadow fell, men were healed and comforted, and they came to speak of him as the Holy Shadow.

         The way out of self-seeking may seem to human consciousness a long one. Over and over again Christian Scientists find themselves still seeking their own personal health, personal plenty, personal good. To deliver them from this temptation, they have the blessed assurance of their Leader that "self-forgetfulness, purity, and affection are constant prayers" (Science and Health, p. 15). These prayers will turn them away from the rocks and shoals of self-centered thinking. Then they will come to know no other purpose than that perfect God and His perfect man may be known and loved everywhere. They will thus have demonstrated the unselfish love which seeketh "his own in another's good;" they will have traversed all the way out of self-seeking!

 

"The Way Out of Self-seeking" by Ella W. Hoag, CSD
The Christian Science Journal, May, 1925


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