Suppose you want to “do” a triathlon. Where would you begin? A triathlon is an intense aerobic endurance contest, consisting of a 2.4-mile ocean swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride, and a 26.2-mile marathon run. Triathletes are elite athletes, not mere experts in one sport, but expert in three. If a triathlon is your goal, your training is guided by it.
Margaret Laird was a world-class metaphysician, acknowledged as such by other elite metaphysicians. In her writings she presents insights into the Science of Being which she grew for herself reading the works of Mary Baker Eddy, as well as many, many other great thinkers. These revelations she discovered by practicing her Mind-being for over 70 years. Her Mind’s Eye she understood as the “discernment of the spiritual fact of whatever the material senses” behold (S&H 585:10). Her practice was the exercising of this core muscle.
In her Journal article (Christian Science Journal - February 1938. Vol LV, No. 11, p. 609) Mrs. Laird states that without the understanding of Love as Principle, human love, no matter how lovely its impression may seem, will produce the impression of love/hate on the level of belief. She writes:
Christian Science has been appropriately called a religion of love. But the appropriateness of such a designation has its root far deeper than the tolerance, kindliness, forgiveness, charity and justice which characterize those whom we usually think of as loving. A man may express all of these attributes in their superficial meaning, which the world accepts, and yet not actually express the Love which is Principle. In fact, considered humanly, these attributes imply duality and give reality to evil, in assuming that there is actually something to forgive, something undesirable of which to be tolerant.
In training for a big triathlon, everyday becomes a mini-triathlon. You don’t jump into the big one, you start with a lot of little ones. You start with a run around the block, a dip in the pool and a bike ride to the grocery store and back. Everyday you work out. Everyday you try to do more. And you learn an important insight: energy begets more energy. The more you spend, the more you have to spend. You discover an “inexhaustible Source” and its reciprocal functioning as you living. The unseen Reciprocal action taking place imperceptibly as you practicing, is seen when you stop practicing. You see it by not seeing it. A friend once said, “Perfection makes me practice.” You may take a break; it does not.
The one thing that all aerobic endurance contests, like triathlons and daily living have in common is, well, “aerobics”. Aerobics means depending on air (spirit, inspiration) and exercises that are aerobic strengthen the heart and the lungs. We may forget that air is substance but it breathes our lungs. Try living today and tomorrow and next week, with all the little upsets and frustrations that offer to sink you, as if they are exercising you and your capacities to live the divine Principle, Love depending on Spirit substance. All the negatives are making you stronger, just as all the positives are. They are not two things but two aspects of the same thing, like inhaling and exhaling.
You can learn to “expand in the negative”. But this is not beginner’s work. Before you can learn to swim the negatives, you’ve got to learn to swim; and before that you’ve got to learn to float. And before that you’ve got to get into the pool. Swimming instructors tells us how hard it is to “teach people to float.” Having trusted the ground under their feet for so long, they cannot overcome their resistance to trusting water to buoy them up instead. The problem of course is not the ground or the water, it’s their sense of substance. But radical reliance on water - the streaming 4th dimensional divine substance or underlying reality of all things- is the beginning of swimming and every experienced metaphysical triathlete who just dives in when others, afraid of sinking, stay in the shallows, had to learn to float, too. Learning to float means relaxing and letting omnipresent Substance live you consciously, even if momentarily you are unconscious of It.
Here, another Laird insight is most important and that is the “permissiveness of all appearances.” Science is exact knowledge and its metaphysical science includes no vague general sense of “error” to be destroyed but a pinpoint supposititious “cause” that disappears in the full identification of one’s self with and as infinite divine immortal Mind. That is why the permissiveness of all appearances principle is a practical rule. Using the principle uncovers the hidden offender which hides in “every affective phenomena”. We learn that they are all but “the interpretive deformation through ignorance, of non-affective phenomena.” We learn that “all my affectivity is interpretive delirium resulting from illusory beliefs” and we learn that “my real Self is inaffective.” (Benoit, Supreme Doctrine, pg. 152 ) This ignorance is not a person, not a thing; but seems to be and this “it” can greatly handicap the one who would be Mind as Mind’s conscious identity self-consciously swimming the great Channel of human daily living when the tide suddenly turns against him.
The permissiveness of all appearances in Mrs. Laird’s writings is opposed to the possessiveness attitude of the personal concept. This personal possessiveness of the conceptual is nothing but the fact of individual divinity ignored. This ignorance deforms (makes ugly) non-affective phenomena which are just minding their own business. It makes them seem afflictive. But the affliction is not in the phenomena appearing, since Mind is the only Presence presenting everything. It is in the false view and its lone viewer, in the possessiveness attitude. This attitude is the misinterpretation and the misinterpreter of the fact of God’s allness as individual being. My own divinity ignored bedevils me. By the discipline of permissiveness, the personal, false self impression is uncovered and its possessiveness attitude found to be the basic trouble-maker. Again, permissiveness is no sissy act, it’s triathletic. It’s intensely aerobic. It depends absolutely on air. It takes strong heart and lungs, a strong central Core Principle consciously lived to permit the ugly seeming in myself to appear in order to disappear.
Metaphysical swimming with the negative results in “Kuhnian paradigm shifts” and the principle of “permissiveness of all appearances,” is one of the insightful keys that sets up this scientific shift since it accesses a 4th dimensional solution to a 3rd dimensional problem.
Thomas Kuhn, 20th century philosopher of science, coined the term "paradigm shift" in 1962. He used the familiar metaphor/image of the duck/rabbit to explain revolutionary science as contrasted with normal science. As the old normal science paradigm is breaking down under its own anomalies, simultaneously a breakthrough is happening. This is not just a simple personality adjustment among quirky scientists. The scale of it is universal. The Copernican revolution is an example. A scientific revolution causes not only a radical change in the basic assumptions within the ruling theory of the science, but is a cataclysmic shift in the whole worldview belonging to that science and all of the implications which came with that view. (source: Wikipedia)
Just as you lose sight of the duck in the seeing of the bunny, so you lose sight of the supposititious personal concept and its possessiveness attitude in the seeing of the spiritual fact of being. All of its suppositional characteristics go with it, including its entire world-view and all it implies, leaving nothing appearing but the divine idea, the perfect concept of Mind, which you, including everything, are forever being. The finite view disappears in the Infinite Vision, the imperfect seeming in the perfect being, and the fear of death vanishes in Life and its demonstration, Love, Principle.
Out of this Scientific shift from a consciousness of human concepts to the consciousness of the God-idea comes new creative power. Daily living becomes a great exercising of one's spiritual capacities. "Depending on air" one lives consciously as the divine Principle, Love, the Heart of all being and finds the power to swim with the negatives. One discovers that the Principle of air (self) and water (world) is one Substance, Spirit.
Said Mrs. Eddy, "All true thoughts revolve in God's orbits: they come from God and return to Him." (Mis 22:16-18) With this fact, I can imagine the whole stream of thoughts, conscious and unconscious, as I do my heart pumping, blood circulating, lung-breathing Life activities. My heart-lung system is right now reciprocally supplying the demand for positive full-bodied, red-oxygenated blood to all of my parts without my taking thought for it, and simultaneously right now is also receiving back the negative spent purple carbon-monoxided blood for recharging at its Source, all in one continuous loop. Transforming its negative "old" into its positive "new" is just simple functioning of my Life Principle. Just so my life of spiritual awareness, my 4th dimensional divine Selfhood including all thoughts, circulating as the Me that is Spirit, is me as inspired thought from the "source and condition of all existence," (SH 181: 2) bright with life-giving energy of Spirit, currenting through me AS me and all of my parts, including all of my universe. By that one reciprocal Cognitive action of the one egoic Being that propels my consciousness "out" as my world, so by that one Act is my consciousness returned instantly, reflexively back into its infinite Souce for recharging. This is Soul in its recognitive act. Cognition and recognition are two aspects of the same thing: Mind-functioning as conscious identity. There are not two kinds of thoughts; all thought is divine. But humanly, here's the hang-up.
At the zero point of Infinity's cognitive movement, where its direction reverses itself back into Itself, lies the negative aspect of the infinite divine Reality, the "beginning" of the re-cognitive act of Soul. Some of Mrs. Eddy's greatest insights into the nature of divine Mind deal with this point of return and of the scientifically correct method of humanly interpreting (living) it. The whole of metaphysical science practice, the application of divine truth to human experience, hinges on "the knowledge of error which must precede," (S & H 252:8-10) the action of Truth which disposes of it. Disposing doesn't mean destroying, it means putting it back in proper order. Like my heart/lung in living, my "bad" blood is not destroyed, it is recycled! It is redeemed and reconstituted. Hence Mrs. Laird's principle of the permissiveness of whatever the appearance; since Mind is the only appearing, let everything be, let everything flow.
But right at this point, the point where the divinity of humanity turns to return to its Source, the whole of human thinking gets hung up and the hang-up becomes a great handicap. Humanlly, we intuitively feel this infinitesimal zero point (our Infinity) and misinterpret it as something. We call it "nothing", "non-existence", no-sense, no-mind, as a gap in our awareness, as a defect, as a great lack, etc. and by misinterpretation, this no-mind infinitesimal point, becomes entifyied instead of understood . For the human mind, zero is as inconceivable as Infinity. Infinity gets conceived of as many positive ones and zero as many negative ones. Understood scientifically it is simply the negative aspect of Infinity, Mind at the point of its turn to return, Mind in its own Self-recognitive act (cognition/recognition like inhale exhale- two aspects one thing).
But human thinking having entifyied it, given it all kinds of names, has educated itself in attaching great fear to it, and in blaming it for everything humanly undesirable. We try to segregate it. We try to destroy it. And by this dualizing of nothing, the natural inaffective phenomena of the real Self, Soul, become the seeming afflictive phenomena of human experience, by this "interpretive delirium based on illusory beliefs."
"Permissiveness of all appearances" is a rule and it means letting all "negative" thoughts flow free. Do not try to hinder them and they will flow back into Mind, naturally, since Mind is the source and condition of all thought- even the thoughts that humans call "negative". Depending on air, depending on water, this discipline sets up the shift of impressions currenting against us to energies currenting with us. It is as if our daily swim suddenly was lifted by a super-charged energetic wave buoying us up and moving us forward toward our goal. Living this fact of the negative aspect of my divinity unconsciously as the old paradigmatic fable of devil, "evil," and "error", "sin, sickness, death" etc. et al, I am misinterpreting the very equilpollence of God, of my own Mind. I am resisting the flow of my own Mind's streaming thought. I am refusing to set up the radical shift, the scientific revolution, that the evolution of consciousness requires of me and that would fulfill my Life. Without Science, what is there for me then, but suffering? It is my own divinity mistinterpreted that bedevils me.
So how does swimming consciously this positive/negative identity of infinite Mind start? You learn to float, then to swim, then to swim whatever the circumstances. "Depending on Air" buoyed up by water you learn little by little that IT, Principle, will be there for you consciously, when you return your awareness to It as Its Self-awareness, its Self-recognitive act. This is practice: living and learning, step by step, to live from the standpoint of your now divinity - no matter what. Practice is your now divinity. You have to be willing to let go of your present vision for a greater vision. It starts with practice, its stays with practice and only practice gains the "ear and right hand of omnipotence" (SH 15:28) the great Wave, Love as Principle.
In her book, Christian Science Re-explored, page 230, Mrs Laird demonstrates her keen understanding of Principle, Love, the oneness of Being in her courageous chapter 15 insightfully identifying Sex with God, the Love that is Principle. She writes:
The chief characteristic of the unselfed-love that is Love is permissiveness. In this Love there is no taking thought for appearances, good and bad, right and wrong, life and death, sick and well. Hubert Benoit in The Supreme Doctrine uses this illustration of permissiveness: "The caterpillar has to immobilize itself as a chrysalis in order to become a butterfly." In other words, if we should live humanly without the neurosis of a split personality to bedevil us, we must die to ourselves as person. This we do by living as Principle. We must become unmindful before we can become Mindful. We must discover that we live, move, breathe humanly because we are divine.
Stephen Levine in the introduction to his book, Healing into Life and Death, writes:
There are many ways this work can be used. It can be read like a book, not unlike
passively sitting on a river bank listening to the rippling waters, or, one can go
swimming in it, actively participating in it as a healing process. Indeed there is
a story about an intellectual youth who felt he could learn everything from books.
He read about the stars and became an astronomer, he read about history
and became a historian, he read about swimming and drowned.
Some things we can only learn by wading in slowly, from the direct experience
of the ocean of being...To enter this process directly is to participate in the
healing we took birth for, is to become fully alive.
Such are the writings of Margaret Laird, world-class Mind triathlete. Wade in. Float. Let the current of Awareness take you where it will. Practice, practice, practice.