The Spiritual Viewpoint

 

William Milford Correll of Cleveland, Ohio

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts

 

"Throughout human history many great forward strides have resulted from men being willing to change their viewpoint," William Milford Correll, C.S.B., of Cleveland, Ohio, told an audience in the Charles Cinema in Boston on Saturday morning.

"I'm speaking of a change from regarding matter as the basic fabric of the universe to seeing Spirit, divine Spirit, as the basic source and substance of all that really exists," he went on to say. A member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship, Mr. Correll spoke under the auspices of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts.

Mr. Correll was formerly First Reader of The Mother Church. Prior to that he served as Associate Editor of Christian Science religious periodicals. He is active in the healing ministry of the Church and is a teacher of Christian Science.

The title of his lecture was "The Spiritual Viewpoint." He was introduced by Mrs. Ellen Shank Collins of Boston. An abridged text of his lecture follows:

 

A change of perspective

Have you ever tried doing this? Put a coin — a quarter perhaps — flat on the table. Then bend down until your eyes are level with the tabletop. Now, how do you see the coin? As a short, straight line of metal — that's all. Well, lift your eyes a little; what do you see now? An oval shape. Go on lifting your eye-level until you're right above the coin. The straight line has disappeared; the oval has disappeared. Instead you see a complete circle of metal. You're seeing the coin from an altogether different point of view. What's more, you're able to recognize it as an actual quarter — and behind the coin the useful things that it can buy.

Throughout human history many great forward strides have resulted from men being willing to change their viewpoint. Take space travel, for instance. What an entirely new perspective it's given us of our home planet. The photographs of our world taken from out in space have produced a tremendous impulse toward the solution of some of our problems — towards better weather forecasting and better ecological and environmental control. So I'm not talking just about dimes and quarters but about the whole future of our earth and of us who live on it.

Actually most human problems stem from a wrong or at least an inadequate viewpoint. And this results in those limitations we're all trying to shake off in one way or another. The woman barred from employment or promotion because of her sex; the businessman feeling pressured and too often frustrated and disappointed even by his successes; the invalid confined to his bed or to his room. What can help free them?

Perhaps you'll expect me to say: a change of viewpoint, a change of perspective. Yes, that's exactly what I'm going to say; but it's only the short answer, only the start. To reach the change of viewpoint that will really liberate — that will upgrade your whole experience — this kind of change means completely new attitudes, a completely new basis of thought and conduct. I'm speaking of a change from regarding matter as the basic fabric of the universe to seeing Spirit, divine Spirit, as the basic source and substance of all that really exists.

This was the kind of change that inspired the early Christians — that turned provincial fishermen into great figures on the world stage, that made their opponents describe them as men who ". . . have turned the world upside down . . ." (Acts 17:6). And this turning upside down had started in their own thinking — with the new viewpoint that Jesus had given them.

The teachings of Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, demand the same change of viewpoint from the limitation of matter to the limitless vistas of Spirit. Here's what she says in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," "God expresses in man the infinite idea forever developing itself, broadening and rising higher and higher from a boundless basis" (p.258). Not a material basis, but a boundless spiritual basis.

We begin our change of viewpoint with one of the most basic teachings of Christian Science: the understanding that substance is Spirit rather than matter. Sometimes we may think there aren't any new frontiers left — that all the areas of human experience have been fully investigated. But when we learn that divine Spirit is the only true substance and that matter isn't substance at all, we'll see vast, virtually untouched frontiers to conquer.

I'm sure you're aware that many physicists now regard matter as made up of electrical charges. They accept matter and energy as convertible into one another. I expect, too, that many of you have heard of all the empty space in what we call the physical body. Get rid of all that space and the solid residue could be condensed to the size of a pinpoint, which you could then conceivably convert into electricity. In other words, many scientifically minded people have already concluded that matter isn't at all what we've thought it to be. But still these investigators are mainly working from the level of material sense perception. It's only as we rise to the spiritual outlook that we can get beyond the limitations of this material view.

Christian Science demands this. It states that matter is but a state of mind, a material point of view — a looking at existence from the level of the material senses. As we lift thought above this level, we begin to understand divine Spirit, God, and His universe of unlimited spiritual ideas.

Jesus healed the palsied man, restored the withered hand and raised Lazarus from death. How did he do this? Through his ability to see and acknowledge spiritual facts instead of resting on reports from matter. Jesus understood the nature of God as infinite Spirit and he knew the spiritual nature of man as God's image.

 

The power of intelligence

Because of this higher viewpoint Jesus saw man in his perfect, spiritual state. His reliance on divine intelligence corrected the false mental picture. This lifted thought above material sense evidence and brought healing. Jesus' healing ability rested on the power of Truth over error, the power of intelligence over nonintelligence.

Mrs. Eddy makes this arresting statement in Science and Health: "In proportion as matter loses to human sense all entity as man, in that proportion does man become its master. He enters into a diviner sense of the facts, and comprehends the theology of Jesus as demonstrated in healing the sick, raising the dead, and walking over the wave." Then she makes this important point as she continues: "All these deeds manifested Jesus' control over the belief that matter is substance, that it can be the arbiter of life or the constructor of any form of existence" (p. 369). So we can see the belief in matter as substance is at the root of all the limitation and suffering of human existence.

But just how does matter lose to human sense all entity as man? Through prayer. Through a clear realization of the facts of God and man we can discern the presence and the power of Spirit. And as our thought is lifted to behold the substance of Spirit we see the total unreality of matter, its illusory nature, its nothingness. As we do this, the picture of suffering and limitation gives way to the higher law of God, and the perfection and harmony of man as God's idea become more apparent. This is the real entity of man and it becomes clear to us through spiritualization of our thought. As the Apostle Paul writes, "To be carnally minded is death: but to be spiritually minded is life and peace" (Rom. 8:6).

A family I know learned the importance of finding and applying the understanding that substance is not material, but spiritual. Their young son was stricken with an attack of rheumatic fever. He grew steadily worse and was taken to one of the largest medical institutions in the United States. After some weeks the parents were told by the chief surgeon there was nothing he or his staff could do. They would give the boy no more medication as he was too far gone.

In this desperate situation the parents learned of Christian Science. They contacted a Christian Science practitioner and asked him to pray for the boy. 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." This wasn't a blind faith, but an intelligent trust in God as Life. They'd found their new viewpoint — 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. At his 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've 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 has been active in the United States space program.

This healing points to another of the basic facts in the teachings of Christian Science:

that Life is infinite Spirit, the creative divine Principle of the universe. Life is God, the source and substance of all true being. Now this Life isn't material and finite; it doesn't exist in a material body nor depend upon material objects. It's infinite, eternal, unlimited. What we observe through the material senses or interpret as life in matter is simply a limited view of Life.

This limited view is like the example with the coin when one is viewing it from the level of the tabletop. To properly understand Life and its expression one must lift his perception to the spiritual level. It's only through spiritualization of thought that we can see Life in its true perspective. When this happens, we glimpse a whole new dimension of being based on a knowledge of God and His creation, on the nature of man made in God's image and likeness.

You know, from a material standpoint men have never been able to explain the origin of living things. There are various theories, but no explanation. In spite of all the material research into the nature of matter, in spite of all the activity in dissecting material bodies, in investigating biological processes and chemical reaction, life has never been conclusively defined from a material standpoint. A professor at Yale University once made this statement, "There is yet no formal definition of what life is" (Dr. S. R. Lipsky in The Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 27,1965).

It's evident Christ Jesus understood Life as infinite and eternal Spirit and he demonstrated this understanding in his healing work. He said, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing " (John 6:63).

We'll never be able to understand the "secret of life" if we try to find it in matter. Our real need is to understand Life as Spirit


Then we're able to heal, and prove that God, Spirit, is the controlling power in our daily lives.

Now this Science or spiritual knowledge is demonstrable in practical ways — it's not just theory. 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 condition. She seemed to be at the point of passing on. In order to help her the practitioner had to see beyond the material appearance. Through prayer he had to lay hold of the spiritual facts of being — that God, the divine Principle, is the Life of man; that man is His eternal likeness; that Life isn't in matter or dependent upon physical organs. He knew that man doesn't contain Life, but that he reflects Life, God. 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.

 

Man a spiritual idea

Thoughts like these brought a new frame of reference to the situation. Through this true perspective the practitioner was able to destroy the patient's fear and lift her thought to a new and higher sense of Life. He had to insist that she 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, indestructible and eternal.

As she with the practitioner's help 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. She resumed full normal activity from that time on.

I hope you can now begin to see how essential it is for us to challenge the belief that matter is substance or that it has life and intelligence. It's this material-mindedness that's responsible for all the frustration, the discord and lack, the sin and sickness that plague the human race. If we learn to refute this fundamental error, we can realize a whole new opportunity for freedom from limitation of every kind.

This is what happened to Mrs. Eddy. The great liberating truths of the substance of Spirit and the nothingness of matter came to her as scientific discovery to be practically applied 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).

In her own experience Mrs. Eddy was a prime example of the power of Spirit to break the barriers of limitation. Early in her life she struggled with many forms of limitation — of health, supply, companionship, opportunity. All these seemed to present insurmountable barriers to her freedom and well-being.

But over a period of many years, she'd been seeking spiritual elevation of thought, she'd been turning away from matter to Spirit. Then, in a time of great need, she turned to her Bible for help. As she considered Jesus' healings, it began to dawn upon her that God, infinite Spirit, is the Life of man — the deathless Life. She began to see that God is the Mind of man, the only consciousness there is — that her selfhood came from God and was an exact individual expression of divine Mind. As she pondered the immortal nature of Life, Truth and Love her own real nature as God's idea became more apparent. She was healed of injuries from a serious accident. From then on she progressively proved the health and abundance that are natural to the child of God. Her life became freer and stronger, as she lifted her thought consistently to the spiritual point of view.

We've already glimpsed that this higher viewpoint starts with God, Spirit, as the one intelligent cause and creator of the universe. Everything God creates expresses His nature. Spirit is the substance of man, and Spirit is absolutely unlimited, omnipresent, infinite.

Since God is infinite Spirit, His creation must be spiritual and unlimited. Because God is infinite good, then man in His likeness must be unlimited, harmonious and complete. There can be no lack or limitation in the divine likeness.

These fundamental truths help us break through the limited concepts that constitute a material sense of creation. We begin to understand creation from the standpoint of the divine Mind and God's unlimited ideas. Instead of thinking of man as a material body, measured by time, weight, height, and subject to all kinds of limiting forces, we begin to think of man as idea, spiritual, perfect, unlimited.

Mrs. Eddy sets forth the basis for this in Science and Health. 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).

It's not always easy for the human mind to conceive of man as idea. I attended a training course for Sunday School teachers not long ago. The instructor told how difficult it is for children to conceive of purely mental concepts. She said it seems necessary for them to have material objects before they can even begin to think in terms of ideas. For instance, at first they have little or no understanding of what numbers represent. But after some experience with counting blocks, fingers, objects, etc., children begin to get the meaning of the concept of the number. Then as they grow in understanding, they no longer need the objects. They can begin to think in terms of the numbers or the concepts themselves, independent of the material things, and they can begin to think in terms of unlimited availability of those concepts. They'll see they can have as many 5's or 6's or 8's as they need or can use. There's no limit.

 

Solution always at hand

In somewhat the same way people have had difficulty in recognizing purely spiritual ideas as substantial and unlimited. The Christ, as the true idea of God, may seem nebulous to the human mind. But it doesn't have to be, because of what Jesus did. Jesus came with the distinct purpose of identifying the Christ, of defining the true nature of God, to humanity. Through his human expression of the qualities of God he clearly exemplified the healing Christ. He defined the ideal man in the likeness of God, made up of the qualities of God — love, fidelity, purity, integrity, and unselfishness. Through his example we can see man as he truly is—a spiritual idea, the compound idea of God.

This real man isn't fleshly or material. He's spiritual and eternal. By healing, Jesus showed the perfect nature, the unlimited nature of the real man. He showed that man in God's likeness can't be limited by disease or lack or age or time or space. He can't be enslaved by sin. This real man is spiritual, complete, perfect.

Jesus healed those in need by purely spiritual means — by lifting their thought to a higher interpretation of man. This shows that the problems of limitation we encounter — sin, disease and death — aren't objective realities. They're limited states of mind, faulty points of view, wrong standpoints of thought. Once we realize this we'll quit trying to solve our problems as though they were outside of ourselves, as if they were material conditions independent of thought. We'll see that experience is actually subjective and that what's needed is a change of consciousness. Then we'll be ready to lift our thought to a new and more spiritual point of view.

For example: if Jesus were faced with some of the shortages that we're experiencing today — shortages such as food — how would he respond? Well, let's see what he did do in one instance. He was teaching a great crowd of people in the wilderness. They had no food and it was well past the time for their meal. His disciples couldn't figure out how to feed the people, since they were working from the limited viewpoint of the material senses.

But Jesus was operating on a different level of understanding. He understood the nature of God, or good, as infinite. He knew God's — love and care are unlimited ~ not subject to material circumstances or to material measurements. He took the few loaves and fish that were on hand, and, as Luke tells the story, "looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude" (Luke 9:16).

Well, you know the rest — all the people were fed and there were twelve baskets full of remaining fragments. There was abundance for all — some five thousand people.

In this instance, Jesus' higher viewpoint, his higher understanding, revealed unlimited supply. When we see the infinite, substantial nature of God's ideas they'll appear in our human experience as what is needed now. What a help-we will be to the world when we see this unlimited source of supply and learn to apply it to everyday experience.

Has it ever occurred to you what Jesus' coming out of the tomb tells the world of the unlimited nature of man, tells all of us about 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 was rolled against the door. On the third day he walked out — loosed from death, freed from the imprisoning walls, the huge stone rolled away. Here was the greatest example ever given 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.

The true idea of God 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 us out of confinement and suffering. The Christ 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 us to be and do good. The Christ as the true idea of Life enables us 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 ourselves — not as physical persons but as spiritual ideas.

Because man's characteristics are derived from the one infinite Mind, his individuality, identity, and substance are wholly spiritual and indestructible. Jesus once said, referring to his body, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19). 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. Remember the statement from Science and Health that we referred to earlier, "In proportion as matter loses to human sense all entity as man, in that proportion does man become its master."

Have you ever watched a fly caught in a ring try to get out by crawling around the circle? It will constantly go round and round that circle trying to find a way out. Of course, all it has to do is spread its wings and fly out. But it keeps on going round and round anyway. So often we're in the same condition, trying to find a way out from the level of material-mindedness. But we don't have to go round and round in circles. We can gain a higher spiritual standpoint and so rise out of our difficulty. Mrs. Eddy says: "Mortals must gravitate Godward, 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).

 

Matter can't talk

This translation from a lower to a higher standpoint covers the whole range of human experience and every possible situation. But all too often the accumulation of material thinking clutters consciousness. We feel the weight of worldly, selfish and hateful thought. So it's no wonder that persistent study and prayer are needed to cleanse consciousness, lift the burden, and let in the light of inspiration.

We hear all the time that you have to face reality. And that's just exactly what Christian Science calls on us to do — face reality and find out what it actually is. To see that God is Cause and man is effect. To know that the real man and the real universe are spiritual. To find out more and more about the nature of God and our own real nature as His infinite expression. To understand better the Science of Life, the laws of healing, of supply, and of harmony among men. Then 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 viewpoint, 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 we learn to silence this lying material mentality, to reject material sense evidence, we 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 that 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.

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? Isn't it apparent how we must lift our thought above the routine and limited outlook and seek the higher, more unlimited point of view.

Let me tell you the experience of a woman who learned to take the grander view, the spiritual view. She was confined in a prison camp during World War II. She found a copy of Science and Health. What she read in it was so encouraging that she 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 — cannot be detained in a prison, he cannot 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 were watchtowers, there were soldiers continually on duty and they had trucks and armed vehicles. But she went down on foot for about two and a half hours to the closest railroad station, and took a train to Vienna. No one came after her; apparently no one even noticed her walk out. She was set free by her newfound vision of spiritual reality, and was able to bring care and comfort to many during the remainder of the war. At last report she was living a full and free life ("A Century of Christian Science Healing,'' pp. 136-145).

Such an experience gives us some inkling of the new viewpoint that comes with spiritual understanding, and what it can do. It can break the bonds of limitation and free us.

Through a study of the textbooks of Christian Science, the Bible and Science and Health, we too can learn how to apply these truths through a scientific sense of prayer. In any and all problems of human experience we're dealing with states of thought, and so it's through scientific prayer that we learn how to lift our thinking and change our outlook. A limited, material viewpoint will continue to express itself in confinement and mortality until it's transformed by the spiritual facts 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. We won't be able to get to the cause of our problems or arrive at a 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 just be constantly engaged in a defensive action — like continually mopping up the floor instead of shutting off the water that's causing the flood!

Knowing that life isn't in matter and that matter isn't substance, we can approach our problems with a new perspective. We can begin to base our thought and life on the presence and power of infinite Spirit. We can thoroughly deny the evidence of suffering as a false mental state and affirm the fact of divine Mind's complete control. We can persistently purge our thinking of any belief in a power apart from divine Mind. Then we'll come to acknowledge that there's only one Mind, infinite Spirit. We'll see and know creation through the faculties of this Mind, through the spiritual senses.

 

A diviner sense of life

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, reveals that we already have in fact all that's needed. This stills dissatisfaction, quiets fear, and leads to the actual presence of freedom and harmony among men. These are the results of spiritualization of thought. They come from prayer and persistent application of spiritual truth.

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.

Remember how far you can see when you really lift your vision. Let's face reality, "gain some proper sense of the infinite" and let that shape our lives and break the barriers of limitation.

 

[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, Oct. 6, 1975.]

 

 

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