Breaking the Barriers of Limitation
William Milford Correll, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
What brings freedom from
limitation is acceptance of a spiritual frame of reference, a spiritual standpoint, a Christian Science
lecturer told an audience in
William Milford Correll, C.S.B., of Cleveland, Ohio delivered a lecture entitled "Breaking the Barriers of Limitation" in Tustin Presbyterian Church, Fellowship Hall, under the auspices of First Church of Christ, Scientist, Tustin.
Mr. William Stroud, First Reader, introduced Mr. Correll. The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
Practically all the problems that come into human experience are some form of limitation. All through our society there's a common hunger for freedom from confinement. The Black says, "Let me out of the ghetto." The youth says, "Let me out of the Establishment." The feminist says, "Let me out of the kitchen." The businessman may be saying, "Let me out of this rat race." And, as always, the sick are saying, "Let me out of this bed of suffering." There's a basic urge for freedom from limitation of every kind, for a broader and fuller life − for a new range of experience.
I'd like to explore with you some of the elements common to all these problems and explore also a new-old outlook that gives promise of the freedom all men are asking for. So much depends upon our ability to see experience in its proper perspective.
Let me involve you in some simple mental gymnastics that illustrate how different things can look from a new standpoint.
Suppose you and I put a coin − a quarter − flat on a table. And then we bend down to put our eyes level with the surface of the table. Looking at the coin from this standpoint, we see only a short straight line on the flat surface. This is all we can see of the coin. But if we lift our eyes a little above the level of the table, we get into a whole new dimension. We begin to see a different outline, an oval shape. If we continue to lift our eyes until we're directly above the coin, the straight line has disappeared. We see a complete circle. The coin looks altogether different from this point of view than when we looked at it on the level of the table's surface.
Throughout human history many discoveries have been made as a result of the willingness to look at experience from a new viewpoint. Some of these discoveries have resulted in space travel and we've all been impressed with the different perspective on our home planet and on ourselves that this has brought us.
Now this is the point. If we're looking at our lives from the level of the material senses, we'll naturally experience the limitations of that point of view. However, a spiritual viewpoint, an understanding that life and substance aren't material but spiritual, can provide us with a new dimension, a new frame of reference. Our need is to lift thought above the level of materiality and come to a more spiritual view of creation.
I'd like to discuss this new-old frame of reference. And I'd like to show how this spiritual viewpoint can free us from limitation as we progressively understand it and apply it to our lives.
Seeing Through and Beyond Materialism
It may seem a little presumptuous for me to stand here and announce that matter isn't substance. After all, down through the ages men have depended largely upon the evidence of the physical senses in their search for the good life. And many people have been bound by the persistent belief that matter is substantial, that matter is the fundamental substance of life, that we live in matter and depend upon it for life and existence.
But I would like you to consider the fact that matter is not what we may have thought it to be. I'm sure you're all aware that physicists now regard matter as made up of electrical charges and accept matter and energy as convertible into one another. I expect, too, that many of you have heard about all the empty space in what we call the material body. Get rid of all that space and the solid residue could be condensed to the size of a pinpoint, which you could then convert into electricity. In other words, plenty of scientifically-minded people have already concluded that matter isn't at all what we've thought it to be.
But I'm going further − in fact, quite a way further. I'm offering for your consideration that what appears to be a material universe and man is simply a material view of creation − a view of creation from the eye-level of the physical senses. It's a false and limited view of the real universe of Spirit.
Just as an exercise in how we can look at the same creation from different viewpoints and so learn something of what matter isn't, let me use a similar example to the one with the coin. This time let's take a brass ring − say a half inch wide − and set it on a table. If you and I look at the ring from the level of the table, we see a solid brass object. Lifting our eyes a little above the surface, we see that it isn't what we thought it to be at all. We can begin to see through it. And when we're directly above the ring, the metal practically disappears and we see the emptiness of the opening. It has an altogether different appearance.
In somewhat the same way matter seems solid only when we stay on the level of the material senses. If we use spiritual sense, spiritual understanding, from this higher viewpoint we can see through matter and beyond it to the wholly spiritual universe and man.
So there we have the two contrasting viewpoints. From the viewpoint that matter is basic substance we see limitation and therefore suffering; from the viewpoint that divine Spirit is substance we may lift our vision to see a universe that is boundless, unlimited, harmonious. It's this spiritual universe that Christian Science reveals as true and real.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, has set forth the basis for this spiritual viewpoint. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, referring to God as infinite Mind, she writes: "There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all" (p. 468).
Lifting our thought to the allness of God, good, and the substantial nature of Spirit, we uncover the deceptive nature of matter, we see through its empty claim to be solid and real. This action is a great step forward in breaking the barriers of limitation. It liberates us from a false view of ourselves, our universe, and our fellowmen − and from the confinement and suffering that result from this false view.
The Example of Moses
Such a liberation is vividly illustrated in the life of Moses. You'll recall that the Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians and made to perform heavy labor under conditions of great hardship. Moses was faced with the task of leading the Israelites out of this limitation, out of this bondage. To accomplish this he had to lift his thought to a new frame of reference. This new point of view came to him in several important steps.
First, it was revealed to him that God is without physical form, that He is infinite Spirit, the I AM. This demanded a new level of perception. You'll recall that Moses showed his spiritual receptivity when he perceived the burning bush. The Bible states that "the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed" (Ex. 3:2). Very evidently this was a spiritual experience where the light of inspiration became apparent to him. Then there followed the great revelation of God's nature "I AM THAT I AM" (Ex. ).
This revelation of the self-existent, self-sustaining nature of God, totally independent of material form, opened Moses' thinking to the great possibility of liberating God's people. He began to yield up his limited view of God and His creation and to see the possibility of finding "the promised land" or the unlimited sense of being.
The second step in Moses' progressive experience came when he threw down his rod and saw it become a serpent. He became afraid and fled from this appearance of evil, this symbol of subtlety and deceit. But God, the I AM, the source of all truth and intelligence, told Moses to come back and take the serpent by the tail. When he did so it became a rod or a staff in his hand. Here was definite proof that matter is illusory, that it's a mistaken view of existence and that its deceitful phenomena should be handled as ignorant or fearful thinking. The experience taught Moses to lift his thought to a higher standpoint, to the supremacy of Truth over falsehood, of God, good, over material limitation and the evils that result from it.
Then there was a third step. Moses put his hand into his bosom and when he took it out it was snow-white with leprosy. God told him to repeat the process. And when he drew it out this time, it was perfectly healthy. This uncovered the fact that disease is unreal, that it's actually a product of material belief, a subjective illusion, having no real substance or foundation in truth.
These three great facts were the essential elements of freedom to the Israelites: the infinitude and self-existence of God, good; the illusory and deceitful nature of evil; and the subjective nature of physical conditions. As Moses understood these truths he could see beyond the material appearance of limitation. He could see the whole situation from a more spiritual standpoint − from the standpoint of limitless divine Mind. From this standpoint he could challenge the material systems of thought represented by Pharaoh. He was able to break the barriers of limitation and set the Israelites free.
What does all this mean to us? We may see the state of bondage as symbolizing the limited, material sense of existence we all need to be rid of. Then the promised land is the spiritual sense of life which is entirely free of evil, disease, and limitation.
These great liberating truths were seen and applied by Moses and other Bible leaders and prophets in the context of their own day. They came to Mrs. Eddy as scientific discovery to be practically applied as scientific law in a scientific age. She describes the initial phase of her discovery in these words, "When apparently near the confines of mortal existence, standing already within the shadow of the death-valley, I learned these truths in divine Science: that all real being is in God, the divine Mind, and that Life, Truth, and Love are all-powerful and ever-present; that the opposite of Truth, − called error, sin, sickness, disease, death, − is the false testimony of false material sense, of mind in matter" (Science and Health, p. 108).
Here was the Truth that could liberate multitudes from the slavery to sin and disease, from the belief that life and intelligence are in matter and that matter governs rather than divine Mind. When we understand the deceptive nature, the unreality, of matter and find Spirit to be the only real substance, we have an altogether new frame of reference for both our basic thinking and our daily experience. We begin to see man from a new viewpoint. We can begin to understand man as the spiritual idea of God and not as a material organism.
In Christian Science we find out that God, Spirit, is the one infinite Life that sustains all existence. Man is defined as completely spiritual, as the individual expression of God, an expression that can never be separated from its divine source.
Healing Comes with the Higher Perspective
This truth of man's real nature and relation to God has great potential for healing. A woman I know had a heart attack and was taken to the office of a Christian Science practitioner. All the symptoms pointed to a very serious situation. She seemed to be at the point of passing on.
In order to help her the practitioner had to see beyond the material appearances. Through prayer he had to lay hold of the spiritual facts of being − that God, divine Principle, is the Life of man: that man is His eternal likeness; that man's life isn't in matter or dependent upon physical organs. He had often considered the fact that when one holds a mirror up to the sun he sees the sun reflected in the mirror, but he doesn't for a moment believe that the sun is in the mirror or dependent upon it. In like manner Life, God, isn't contained in a material body nor dependent upon it. Life is infinite Spirit, divine Mind.
These thoughts brought a new frame of reference to the situation. Through a realization of this true perspective the practitioner was able to destroy the fear of the patient and to lift her thought to a new and higher sense of Life. It was necessary to insist that the patient hold to her understanding of Life as God, that there's just one infinite Life and that this Life is reflected by all true individuality. Nothing could happen to Life, for it is infinite. As she and the practitioner persisted in holding to these truths, her strength returned, her color became natural and her breathing normal. In about an hour she was fully restored.
Through spiritual understanding, then, we can lift thought above the level of material evidence and perceive existence in a new perspective. And this new view of reality heals. It's only through the spiritual senses that we can behold and understand the things of God. Paul referred to this spiritual perception when he wrote, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit." (I Cor. 2:9,10).
Life Can't Be Defined Materially
These things which God has prepared for us are the spiritual realities of being as opposed to the confused and limited picture seen by thought that relies on the material senses. We've already seen something of the distinction between what the spiritual perspective shows us and what the material shows us. But now let's look at this distinction a little more closely.
Mrs. Eddy discovered that what appears to be life in matter is a false limited sense of Life. In spite of all the material research into the nature and origin of life, in spite of all the activity in dissecting matter and material bodies, life has never been conclusively defined from the physical standpoint,
There's also difficulty in knowing where intelligence comes from if one thinks that matter is the basic source of life. In an article in the Saturday Review which is addressed to "The Great Unanswered Questions" Dr. Paul A. Weiss points out that in biological explorations the researchers couldn't finally account for the intelligent design that appeared in the genetic code or in many forms of "organized" matter which expressed life. Dr. Weiss honestly asks the question, "How do we get from a bag of protein to the organized shape and function of a living cell, let alone to the integrated viable masterpiece of a human organism?"
The belief that life and intelligence are in matter is the wrong frame of reference. We'll never be able to understand the "secret of life" if we try to find life in matter. Our need is to understand the spiritual nature of life and find the source of intelligence in divine Mind. Then we're able to perceive the Science of Life. From this standpoint we can heal the ills of human experience and demonstrate spiritual law as the controlling power in our daily lives.
Just to dramatize the necessity of lifting thought away from the matter-based frame of reference, let me ask you, "How far can you see?" Many of you will answer "Four or five miles − maybe ten on a clear day." But look up at the sun. Now, how far can you see? And look at that distant star. Now, how far can you see? Isn't it apparent how much depends upon our frame of reference?
As an example of finding and
applying the understanding that life and intelligence aren't material but
spiritual, I'd like to tell of the experience of a family. The young son was
stricken with an acute attack of rheumatic fever. He grew steadily worse and
was taken to one of the largest medical institutions in the
In this desperate situation the parents learned of Christian Science and engaged a Christian Science practitioner. After the first interview with the practitioner a sense of freedom and release came over the parents. They had the feeling, to quote their own words, "There is nothing more to worry about. The boy is in God's hands." They had found their new frame of reference − that their son's life and health were wholly apart from matter.
The next day when they visited the hospital they were told that something very wonderful had happened the previous afternoon. The boy was doing exceptionally well. When they reached his room he was sitting up in bed smiling. Several days later he was discharged from the hospital completely well. Upon the last examination the chief surgeon said, "This is the most unusual case in our files. No human hand could ever have performed what has been done for this boy. You have found your God. Now, never give Him up."
And this family has remained faithful to their God − to their understanding of Him as Life, Spirit, self-sustaining and self-existent. I learned recently that the young boy is now active in our nation's space program. By the way, there's a most inspiring account of this healing in the book, A Century of Christian Science Healing (p. 160).
A Change of Base from Matter to Spirit
Now, in this new perspective we begin to see the deceptiveness, the unreality of matter. And begin to see more clearly the reality, the substance, of Spirit. So Christian Science demands a change of base − that we leave material thinking and learn to think instead from the basis of Spirit. This demands spiritual sense or spiritual understanding. As the Bible says, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (I Cor. ).
It's only through the spiritual senses, the faculties of divine Mind, that we can understand God and demonstrate His presence and power. Jesus' control over matter and material conditions showed his understanding of Spirit as substance, of man as spiritual and good, and of harmony as God's law. He knew that there is neither intelligence nor life in matter. He said, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing" (John 6:63).
Has it ever occurred to you that Jesus' coming out from the tomb was the greatest achievement the world has ever known in breaking the barriers of limitation? You're all familiar with the account of the resurrection − how Jesus was crucified, buried in the tomb, and a big stone rolled against the door. On the third day he walked out − loosed from death, freed from imprisoning walls, the huge stone rolled away. Here was the greatest example ever shown to mankind of man's superiority over limitation. Jesus had overcome the last enemy, death − the ultimate sense of limitation.
What was it that enabled Jesus to do this? It was his spiritual altitude of thought, his spiritual sense, his spiritual understanding. He knew the unlimited nature of God. He knew that infinite Spirit is the Life of man and that this Life couldn't be mutilated by crucifixion, confined to a tomb or terminated by death.
It was the true idea of God that showed Jesus the way out of limitation and crowned him with the glory of unlimited perfect being. This true idea of God is the Christ. And it's the presence and activity of the Christ, Truth, in human consciousness today that lifts men out of confinement and suffering. It purges human consciousness of its material elements and lifts thought to discern spiritual reality.
The Christ as the true idea of Love lifts thought above the level of selfish, material thinking and motivates men to be and to do good. The Christ as the true idea of Life enables one to rise up in rebellion against the ignorant claims of suffering and disease and to destroy them as false beliefs. The Christ as the true idea of divine Principle equips us to challenge all error, all sin, and to rule it out of our lives. And through the Christ we can begin to understand man not as a physical person but as a spiritual idea.
Now just what do we mean when we speak of man as a spiritual idea? Suppose we have four apples in our hands and we use them to illustrate the number four. Then suppose we eat the apples or dispose of them. What happens to the number four? It's still existing as a concept in mathematics through which the truths of mathematics can find expression. It's distinct and maintains its identity independent of matter or material objects. This gives us some inkling of how man exists in divine Mind as idea. He's indestructible, individual, spiritual, unlimited.
Just as Mind is the source of an idea, God is the Father of man. And because man's characteristics are derived from the one infinite Mind, his individuality, identity, and substance are wholly spiritual and indestructible. Illustrating the true Christly nature of man as spiritual idea rather than material body, Jesus once said, referring to his body, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:18). In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy explains, "It is as if he had said: The I − the Life, substance, and intelligence of the universe − is not in matter to be destroyed" (p. 27). And Jesus certainly proved this in walking out of the tomb.
Do you think of yourself as a spiritual idea without any material accompaniments? Can you think of yourself without thinking of the physical body? To be free from limitation we must begin to conceive of the spiritual nature of man and of the permanence of spiritual identity. Science and Health puts it like this: "In proportion as matter loses to human sense all entity as man, in that proportion does man become its master" (p. 369).
Very evidently the way to gain dominion over human circumstances is to lift thought to a higher standpoint, to spiritualize consciousness.
Spiritualization of Thought Necessary
Now no one knows better than I that it's no small task to spiritualize consciousness in view of all the material sense evidence about us. We hear all the time that you have to face reality. That's just what Christian Science calls upon us to do − face reality, and find out what it actually is. Mrs. Eddy has given us the scientific method of study and prayer through which we can lift our thought to a higher and more spiritual viewpoint − and gain an understanding of reality.
She was a keen student of the Bible. As she was faced with severe difficulties of many kinds, her thought turned more and more to the healing works related in the Bible and especially to those of Christ Jesus. She felt that his spiritual method of healing must still be available and she sought it persistently.
In this search the Bible was her inspiration and it was, when studying the Bible, that she received her great illumination that life and existence are wholly spiritual. This started for her the years of demonstration that followed, demonstration that the power of Spirit could heal disease and resolve human problems.
It was natural, then, that her major work should be titled Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. The Bible and Science and Health are the two textbooks which Christian Scientists study daily. Through this study we find out more and more about the nature of God and our own real nature as His infinite expression. And we understand better the Science of Life, the laws of healing, of supply, and of harmony among men. We find out that all suffering takes place on the level of the material senses in a limited material mentality. As we put off this false mental state and lift thought to the spiritual frame of reference, we're released from the necessity of suffering. Matter can't talk or give any evidence to mind. All that testifies to the suffering is the false limited mentality itself. And when you learn to silence this lying material mentality, to reject material sense evidence, you destroy the sense of suffering.
In like manner we gain a concept of the unlimited nature of good and from this we can realize the laws of supply that meet human needs. The Mind that is God, or good, is infinite. This Mind can never be conscious of lack or limitation. And as we strive to know this Mind is our Mind, we can come to the point where we don't experience any sense of lack. Our increasing awareness of the infinite nature of good becomes a controlling factor.
Have you ever watched a fly caught in a ring try to get out by crawling around the circle? He'll constantly go round and round that circle seeking a way out. All he has to do is spread his wings and rise out of the confinement. So often we're in the same condition trying to find a way out from the level of material mindedness. We can use the talent of inspiration to gain the higher spiritual standpoint and to rise out of the difficulty. Mrs. Eddy says "mortals must gravitate God-ward, their affections and aims grow spiritual, − they must near the broader interpretations of being, and gain some proper sense of the infinite, − in order that sin and mortality may be put off" (Science and Health, p. 265).
Spiritualized Thought Sets Free
This translation from a lower to a higher standpoint covers the whole range of human experience and covers every possible situation. But all too often the accumulation of material thinking clutters consciousness and one feels the weight of worldly, selfish and hateful thought. It's no wonder that persistent study is needed to cleanse consciousness, lift the burden, and let in the light of inspiration.
Let me tell you of the experience of a woman who was confined to a prison camp during World War II. She found a copy of Science and Health and started studying day and night, becoming fully absorbed in the new ideas she was gaining. Several months after she began her study a basic change took place in her thinking. She wrote: "I was studying and all of a sudden I caught a glimpse of what man is: the spiritual image and likeness of God. It was just as if a fog had been let open and I saw that man − as he really is − can't be detained in a prison, he can't be confined in a camp, but he is as unlimited and unbounded as God. It practically seemed ridiculous to think that you could keep man behind barbed wires, or confined within anything."
So she picked up the Bible,
Science and Health, and a few personal things and walked out of this camp by
broad daylight. She didn't try to hide anything. She just walked out −
there was only one road out of the camp. There were watch towers, there were
continually soldiers on duty and they had trucks and armed vehicles. But she
went down on foot for about two hours and a half to the closest railroad
station, and took a train to
Such an experience gives us some inkling of the new frame of reference that comes with spiritual understanding. It can break the bonds of limitation and free us.
Spiritualizing Consciousness by Scientific Prayer
Through a study of the Bible and its interpretation in Science and Health we gain a scientific sense of prayer. In any and all the problems of human experience we're dealing with states of thought, and it's through scientific prayer that we learn how to change our thinking. Limited material mentality will continue to express itself in confinement and mortality until it's transformed by Truth and a higher state of thought is attained. If we consider only the material sense of things in our approach to our problems, we'll be foundering in the midst of effects and won't be able to get to the cause of the difficulties or arrive at any permanent cure. We need to change the mental states − the ignorance, the selfishness, the greed, the fear − in other words, the limited material mentality. Otherwise we'll be constantly engaged in a defensive action − we'll be like one who's continually mopping up the floor instead of shutting off the water that causes the flood.
In scientific prayer we shut out the lies of the material senses. We deny the reality of evil and any belief in sin or death, anything that suggests a power apart from God. Instead we affirm in thought the perfection of God's creation, the presence and power of infinite Spirit. We need to exclude all suggestions that material conditions are real and to assimilate the pure spiritual view of man and the universe. Through this purification of thought we become increasingly aware of God's presence as the reality of being. Then, like Moses, we're ready to listen to divine Mind and to find the way out of limitation.
When we acknowledge that there's only one Mind which is infinite Spirit, we see and know creation through the faculties of this Mind, through the spiritual senses. This is the higher perspective, the unlimited view of Life, that lifts us out of confinement and suffering.
When we acknowledge and reflect the qualities of divine Love, we feel the presence of Love in our lives. When we find out that good is infinite, absolutely without limit, then we experience the freedom and joy that are natural to man as the expression of God. The Christ, the true idea of God and man, reveals that we already have in fact all that is needed. This stills dissatisfaction, quiets fear, and leads to the actual demonstration of freedom and harmony among men. These are the results of spiritualization of thought. They come from scientific prayer and persistent application of spiritual truth.
Limitation Can Be Mastered
Do you have some problem of limitation or confinement in your experience? Is there a stone rolled in the way of your progress? Then through this scientific prayer reach out for the unlimited idea of God. When you learn of the infinite nature of God, the eternality of Life, and the boundless Love which is the source of all good, then your life will take on a diviner sense and a more unlimited aspect. You'll feel the warmth, freedom and abundance that divine Love brings into our lives. The Christ is present among us. We can exercise our spiritual senses to understand and to demonstrate the law of God, the law of harmony.
The belief of life and intelligence in matter is actually a limitation, a barrier, a restriction which must eventually be broken by spiritual understanding, spiritual sense, and the reality of being. The "deep things of God" become available to us through a new and unlimited sense of God and His creation. Through earnest prayer, through an honest effort to spiritualize our consciousness we can feel the presence of God, we can hear the words of Truth and we can see the demonstration of Spirit in our lives.
Remember how far you can see when you really lift your vision. Let's face reality, "gain same proper sense of the infinite," and let that shape our lives and break the barriers of limitation.