The Individuality of Man

From Generic Man by John Hargreaves

Another fallacy in this approach is that it tries, in belief, to replace an existing number of human personalities with an equal number of spiritual individualities, each fulfilling a niche or purpose in the Mind of God. This may sound good, and humanly reassuring, but can have little to do with the statement, “From the infinite One in Christian Science comes one Principle and its infinite idea” (S&H112:16-17). We know that, by definition, the infinite, has to be one. If there were more than one infinite, then one would finitize the other! So the use of the word “infinite” twice in this sentence implies that Principle and its idea, or God and man, exist as one essence, one presence, one consciousness, and one power. This Principle, interpreting the universe, allows no standpoint outside of itself for anything else to be interpreting or knowing.

There is no plurality in the infinite One. It is only “to accommodate its finite sense of the divisibility of Soul and substance,” that it (finite belief) “seeks to divide the one Spirit into persons and souls” (S&H 280:13-15). So to gain a clearer appreciation of the infinite nature of God and man, some more discarding of false standpoints is required. The one thing that personal sense seems reluctant to do is to give up its belief in plurality, hoping that, by retaining the guise of many spiritual individualities, it can get away with breaking the First Commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me”. (See S&H 466.) This personal sense might well be referred to as “dividuals” rather than “individuals.”

We will explore this point further, as we clear the air for our treatment of the subject of generic man, and it is necessary to do so. We have all read the account of Mrs. Eddy’s interview with a journalist, during which she said, “If we say that the sun stands for God, then all his rays collectively stand for Christ, and each separate ray for men and women” (My. 344:3-5). But the important word is “if,” for that which might be suitable for a journalist with no knowledge of Christian Science is scarcely appropriate for a mature student nearly one hundred years later.

We have, therefore, to obtain a better concept of individual man than as a ray of light and, in turn, a better concept of generic man than as a collectivity of male and female rays! Indeed, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures points out that “the term individuality is also open to objections, because an individual may be one of a series, one of many, as an individual man, an individual horse; whereas God is One,—not one of a series, but one alone and without an equal” (S&H 117:1-5).

It follows that man, as the image and likeness of God, must likewise be one alone and without an equal. We are told in Lyman Powell’s biography that in her last class Mrs. Eddy dwelt at length on the point that there could be but one full or complete reflection of one God, and that this must be the basis for all scientific deduction. She indicated that only as her students grasped this fundamental fact, that one God could have but one reflection, did they have the right basic sense of Christian Science and know that there was no other starting point (Powell: p. 189).

Because “any inference of the divine derived from the human, either as mind or body, hides the actual power, presence, and individuality of God” (Mis. 103:21-23), the scientifically correct starting point does not begin with man at all, but with God. We read in Science and Healththat “we know no more of man as the true divine image and likeness, than we know of God” (S&H 258:16-18). So it is in knowing God, or Principle, that we find the true man, or idea, and it is in knowing a particular aspect of this Principle that we find that particular aspect of the true image and likeness. This is consistent with the demand that “reasoning from cause to effect in the Science of Mind, we begin with Mind, which must be understood through the idea which expresses it and cannot be learned from its opposite, matter” (S&H 467:29-32). Mind always understands the idea which expresses it, but idea cannot think about, or understand, idea.

So, to understand the true nature of man’s individuality we have to enquire into the nature of God’s individuality —His oneness, integrity, distinction, and indivisibility, which is the original meaning of the word. Then it is that we find that the consciousness of God’s individuality is the idea of individuality called individual man. “God is individual Mind,” we read. “This one Mind and His individuality comprise the elements of all forms and individualities, and prophesy the nature and stature of Christ, the ideal man” (Mis. 101:31-2). This nature is summarised, in the definition of man, as “that which has no separate mind from God; that which has not a single element underived from Deity.” It is this idea or consciousness of God’s individuality that constitutes individual man, and accounts for the fact that man “possesses no life, intelligence, nor creative power of his own, but reflects spiritually all that belongs to his Maker” (S&H 475:19-22).