Dr. John M. Dorsey, in his later writings, develops his idea of emotional continence. In his book Illness or Allness, he had not yet coined this image. He shows awareness of the distinction between infantile narcissism and adult self-love throughout his writings, noting that the latter depends on an individual’s conceiving of self as comprehensively one all-inclusive meaning (life). “Every individual is an all.” Emotional continence – neither over-reaction nor under-reaction – is an indicator of the well-integrated self. Understanding that I am one, neither less than one nor more than one as my imagination may momentarily tell me, is self-continence: self-contained, self aware, self-renewing individual being. In several of his works he uses the metaphor of a little child for the well-integrated self-conscious adult living his/her all as his/her self within, and he uses the word “God” for such a one. He explores these themes in his 1971 book Psychology of Emotion: Self-discipline through Conscious Emotional Continence.
At the Laird seminar in Evanston, 1966, where Dr. Dorsey was invited to speak, he tells of his roll-calling at the beginning of his classes addressing each student of self, as “God,” “Mr. Jones-God”, “Ms. Smith-God,” etc. In a quick exchange between Dr. Dorsey and Mrs. Laird, he is about to pay verbal homage to Mrs. Laird and her pioneer spirit and asks her not to listen. “There’s many a wonderful person (will you close your ears for a moment please Margaret). She has a darling sturdiness in her devotion to the divinity of her world of self, which everyone who lives as Margaret Laird can…” She responds with unabashed childlikeness: “…go ahead. I don’t have to close my ears. I know I’m divine. Can God be flattered?”
Now emotional continence such as the above has nothing to do with blocking emotion. That’s why I like his use of the word “continence.” It tells me not to try to hold my feelings, breath or urine indefinitely which would be growingly painful to me. It tells me that I need to learn how to express my emotions consciously through sublime-ating them and outgrow the habit of denying them. That’s my word for it. “We feel the energy of Spirit and rise into newness of Life because Spirit is what we are.” (WATW, pg. xx) Through Science, I can learn how to move with the energies of my Spirit and rise myself into newness of life, if I can understand that each emotional event is all and only about itself. It is always now and always new. And this awareness of my Self-allness is “childlike.”
“I consciously am. A little child accepts this fact naturally. It had nothing to do with being Self-conscious and takes no thought about it. Self-consciousness Is; I am. I am I by being conscious identity and not-I as someone or something to take thought about. Self-consciousness is Mind and the existence of all that Is or seems to be. When there is no I-taking-thought, then there is I-being-thought. This is the meaning of the statement, “Except ye become as a little child, ye cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” (L.L. Jan./Fe. 1976, pg. 1)
D.T. Suzuki, the renowned Zen master describes what happens in archery when the “thought-taking” no-mind takes control:
“As soon as we reflect, deliberate, and conceptualize, the original unconsciousness is lost and a thought interferes…The arrow is off the string but does not fly straight to the target, nor does the target stand where it is. Calculation, which is miscalculation, sets in…Man is a thinking reed but his great works are done when he is not calculating and thinking. “Childlikeness” has to be restored with long years of training in self-forgetfulness.
Newness and nowness are coordinates in Scientific metaphysics which Descartes did not imagine. Keeping thenness and thereness in their place, the back and forth of human ruminating thought is left behind, as one rises in the scale of being – the vertical veridical –UP. Dr. Dorsey in his writings states over and over that all human defensiveness including disguising one’s feelings as not-I (“my body is sick”) are necessary self-help for an individual who feels overwhelmed by living and trying not to sink down in to the abyss of unhappiness. Every human is treading water, trying to keep head above water, staying afloat. This is the human condition.
In working this article up, I reminded myself of a phrase I picked up about aging which correlates with the statement of Mrs. Eddy (Overcoming age is not renewing our youth but is thought going into new channels which history has not yet recorded), and the phrase I remembered was “hardening of the categories.” A play on the phrase “hardening of the arteries,” I like the description of it given in Yahoo Answers describing how we remember things:
“Memory process tends to work with generalized categories. If people do not have an appropriate category for something, they are unlikely to perceive it, store it in memory, or be able to retrieve it from memory later. If categories are drawn incorrectly, people are likely to perceive and remember things inaccurately. When information about phenomena that are different in important respects nonetheless get stored in memory under a single concept, errors of analysis may result.”
After first drafting this article, I realized that the above description is a good one for “point of view” or attitude. Not the altitude attitude that Science provides, but the basic human, trying not to sink into abysmal unhappiness manic attitude.
Mrs. Laird is quite clear on the fact that a Scientist who is the Science will lose his/her vision of divine/human Selfhood if that one refuses to wean him/her self from Oldness - “organization” mentality (memory-basing) - when the signals come to do so. Ignoring the signals of impaired spiritual growth and progress “incontinence” and indicates a long-standing habit of refusing to sublime-ate all of one’s emotions, that is identify all emotion with Love, the awareness of perfection. It also indicates a lack of spiritual self-understanding.
Mrs. Laird has much to say in her works about the false human emotions: gratitude and humility, which represent not a fully matured spiritually conscious self, but a leveling off at a developmental impasse. Again, trying to not sink in one’s own downerness.
In my research these past few months, I came across this wonderful statement of Mrs. Eddy’s written to the New York Herald on May 15, 1908, following the report of her demise. The same message was repeated in stronger language for her followers on the next day, when this notice appeared in the Christian Science Sentinel:
Since Mrs. Eddy is watched, as one watches a criminal or a sick person, she begs to say, in her own behalf, that she is neither; therefore to be criticized or judged by either a daily drive or a dignified stay at home, is superfluous. When accumulating work requires it, or because of a preference to remain indoors she omits her drive, do not strain at gnats or swallow camels over it, but try to be composed and resigned to the shocking fact that she is minding her own business, and recommends this surprising privilege to all her dear friends and enemies.
(Source: Mary Baker Eddy, Gillian Gill, pg. 529)
Sarcasm, a cousin of wit, indicates growing emotional continence. Today, I might advise my self: “Don’t have a cow.” But I find the important point of minding my own business is to feel the energy of Spirit and rise into NEWNESS now! This is the demand of Truth pressuring me to be Love, the energy of Spirit, the male and female of Mind, functioning as newness and freshness of life. (WATW, pg. 204) If I have not minded my business (my back and forth thinking) into the integration of my maleness and my femaleness in my one/allness, I lack the regenerating force of my own Soul – Self-recognition as absolute Good-being – which acknowledgment opens the way to rise UP. The human coordinates of now/then, here/there, must be put in the framework of Science: omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence to stop the ruminating human mind and open the way for new self-insight.
I find my 95-year-old Margaret Laird babysitting a five-month-old baby. Reminding her that “the human is human because it is divine and not human for the same reason” as she observed the baby doing itself divinely, she writes: “I saw her do all sorts of things that she had no way of “learning” how to do, and I realized that she knew without knowing that her original Nature is Self-responsibility and Self-fulfillment.” (L.L. Jul/Aug. 1980, pg. 1)
We all know that wonderful quote from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint- Exupery that what is essential is invisible to the eye and that it is only with the heart that one sees rightly, but suppose you could actually become invisible?
Mrs. Eddy’s comment on “being watched” reminded me of a book by Cambridge biologist and psychic explorer Rupert Sheldrake – The Sense of Being Stared At -- in which is asserted that “our minds are not limited to our brains, but rather stretch outward to touch the beings and objects that we perceive. Once this extended influence of the mind is taken into consideration, many puzzling phenomena being to make sense, including telepathy and phantom limbs.” Dr. Dorsey sitting in analysis with Freud spoke of the feeling of being watched and Dr. Freud exclaimed – “That’s the whole of the trouble!”
Two diametrically opposed points of view of the same Mind phenomenon, just like the “unillumined human mind (SH 573) versus John who “saw the human and divine coincidence,” …”divinity embracing humanity in Life and its demonstration – reducing to human perception and understanding the Life which is God. In divine revelation, material and corporeal selfhood disappear, and the spiritual idea is understood.” (SH 561) This spiritual continence – self-discipline through owning one’s individual allness -- resolves all human emotion in the understanding that is Self-Love.
“Know thyself, live your divinity (Spirit) self-consciously and you will be humanly what you are divinely – the male-female of Mind continually expanding into newness of Life…It will be a great day when Sex is given its nobility as Soul and restored to Love as the act of integration – the bond of cohesion. In that day the human race will possess a morality, an ethical culture so pure, so virgin, that crime, poverty, way will be words without meaning.” (WATW pg. 207)
“Dr. Dorsey found the confirmation of his life work when he “grew” one or two Christian Scientists in his world who interpreted and demonstrated that living the God-Nature Self consciously is God “doing” the living. (L.L. Sep./Oct. 1980, p. 4)
P.S. I was recently contacted by a student of Kathryn Breese-Whiting, founder of the Phoenix Institute (http://phoenixinstitute.us) offering me 5 boxes of Dr. Dorsey’s books. Seems that Mrs. Dorsey and Mrs. Breese-Whiting were friends and Mrs. Dorsey gave the books to Mrs. Breese-White over 30 years ago. These were entrusted to the new friend who contacted me to see if I would like them. Traveling to Nashville to see our grandkids, Laura and I stopped in Kansas and picked up these books. So, if any of the IMS newsletter readers would like a copy of the following books of Dr. Dorsey, shoot me an email –firstname.lastname@example.org - and I will mail them to you. The Psychic Nature of Physiology, The Psychology of Ethics, The Psychology of Language, American Psychiatrist in Vienna and His Sigmund Freud.