Open Your Eyes
Martin N. Heafer, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Reason enables men to look somewhat
beyond the evidence of the physical senses, but the faculty of spiritual
perception sees a realm beyond the scope of human reason, according to Martin
N. Heafer, C.S.B., a
Christian Science lecturer from
spoke last night at The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist,
Spiritual perception, Mr. Heafer said, gives men glimpses of the spiritual good and truth of God's creation, present here and now to heal and help mankind.
It's spiritual perception, he said, that enables us to see the good that's absolutely true in any given situation.
Mr. Heafer stated that this God-given faculty is always present in our inner consciousness, ready to reveal the true facts.
The Bible, he indicated, contains accounts of individuals who utilized the faculty of spiritual perception to improve the human condition. He spoke specifically of Elisha and Christ Jesus.
He also explained that health is the result of the redemption and salvation that come from development of spiritual insight into God's kingdom.
Commenting on this point, he said: You wouldn't think of using drugs to obtain salvation. Salvation is spiritual. So is true health. The same kind of inner transformation that brings salvation produces real health.
a practitioner and teacher of Christian Science, is currently on tour
A partial text of the lecture follows:
Deceptive evidences exposed
What would you say if I told you that only good exists? That that's all that's really going on? Of course, I'm aware that there seems to be plenty of evidence to the contrary - war, crime, poverty, disease. But does such evidence, evidence based largely on the physical senses, tell us what's really going on? Is such evidence absolutely reliable?
For instance, here you are sitting quietly in this auditorium, with no sense of motion or movement at all. But is this the way it really is? An astronomer would tell you that you're actually whirling through space at some 800 miles per hour as the earth turns upon its axis. That the earth itself is revolving about the sun at an incredible speed! Yet as you sit quietly here, you're completely unaware of this constant revolution and orbiting of the earth. It seems that you're not moving at all, when actually you're speeding through space!
Even natural scientists, such as astronomers and physicists, have found that in their own fields they have to go beyond the evidence of the unaided physical senses to discover what's true. They use instruments and exercise reason to supplement what appears to the physical senses and so arrive at more logical conclusions.
If we're to discover the true nature of our total experience, we must look beyond the evidence of the physical senses, and beyond even the most delicate instruments and the keenest human reason. How then can we discover what's actually true? Or to put it another way, that what's really going on is completely good? Well, there's a way to do it, a way others have done it. We have to open our eyes! Open them spiritually, that is.
Whether we know it or not, each one of us has within himself a marvelous faculty - the faculty of spiritual perception! It's spiritual perception that enables us to see the good that's absolutely true in any given situation. This God-given faculty is always present in our inner consciousness, ready to reveal the true facts.
Many years ago, as recorded in the Bible in the book of Job, a man named Elihu put it this way, "There is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding" (Job 32:8).
Material basis rejected
This spirit in us, described by Elihu, this ability to look beyond what the physical senses and human reason may tell us, comes to us from God, infinite Spirit, Himself. It's not supernatural but natural, and it's entirely spiritual in quality. It doesn't come through electronic impulses of the brain. It works on an entirely different basis from the usual physical way of perceiving things.
Now we all know pretty well what perception is. It's awareness, comprehension, recognition, seeing. But when we talk about spiritual perception, then we need to have a clear concept of what spiritual means. One way to pin down its meaning is by finding out what it is NOT. If there's one thing that spiritual means, it means that which is NOT material; having no element of matter at all.
And spiritual doesn't just mean something that's mental or intellectual. The commonly accepted concept of that which is mental isn't really mental at all, when you come to think about it. It's material. For instance, the brain is thought to be the seat of mentality. But the brain is matter itself! There's just no way at all to demonstrate that brain, matter, in the form of electrical impulses can think. This is a widely held theory, but it has never been proved. I venture to say, it never will be. Why at one time, people thought that mentality was in the heart!
Now to think of something that's absolutely spiritual, that has no element whatsoever of matter in it, isn't really difficult. Actually you do this all the time, perhaps without even realizing it.
For example, right now just try to think of some idea which excludes any concept of matter. What do you come up with? How about an unselfish thought?† Does this need awareness of matter to make it real to you? Certainly not! Unselfishness is spiritual; we'll never locate it with a microscope or a Geiger counter! Oh, we see the effects of unselfishness on matter all around us. When someone is expressing unselfishness, you see it in his face, don't you? You see his smile, his expression of love. But unselfishness isn't the muscular action of his fleshly face. It's a quality in his thought; a spiritual quality.
Infinite Spirit discerned
Spiritual perception, then, is the perception of that which is wholly spiritual.† It's the perception of SPIRIT, God. It's God's way of showing us the absolute spiritual truth of His wonderful creation.
Using spiritual sense, we see God as infinite Spirit, permeating every facet of true thought.
In her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, defines "Spirit" like this: "Divine substance; Mind; divine Principle; all that is good; God; that only which is perfect, everlasting, omnipresent, omnipotent, infinite" (p. 594). Note those phrases "all that is good," "that only which is perfect." These define the nature of Spirit. Then spiritual perception sees right through and beyond the good and evil evidence of the physical senses. It sees only the spiritual good present in every situation, the real and controlling fact.
Of this faculty Mrs. Eddy writes: "We must look deep into realism instead of accepting only the outward sense of things" (Science and Health, p. 129). Every one of us, in our true nature as the creation or expression of Spirit, is richly endowed with this ability, the ability to open our eyes and look beyond appearances. Spiritual perception reveals the good that's all around us. And it will govern our experience to the degree that we recognize it.
This is what happened to Elisha, a
deeply religious man who lived nearly three thousand years ago. The Bible story
brings out that Elisha knew very well what spiritual perception was. He had
done some wonderful things to help his country in its fight against slavery and
oppressions. Divine inspiration had enabled him to perceive the battle plans of
Jesus adhered to divine facts
So the king of
The Syrian army consisted of many
soldiers with horses and chariots, spears, shields, and so on. Now Elisha had
with him only one other person, his young servant. As one can readily
understand, this servant was utterly dismayed when he saw that they were surrounded
by an army. But Elisha wasn't deceived! He said to his despairing servant,
"Fear not; for they that be with us are more than they that be with
them" (II Kings ).
Then he prayed that the eyes of the servant be opened. And the servant's eyes
were opened! He saw the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire protecting
them. The story concludes with
Now what was it that Elisha had that enabled him to see the way out of this bad situation? Nothing that all the rest of us cannot have! He had faith in God, not blind faith but a spiritual perception of God's nature and the nature of God's completely spiritual and good creation. And he knew that his servant had spiritual perception also when he prayed, "Open his eyes, that he may see" (II Kings ). And he did!
Of course, Elisha lived a long time ago. But I'm talking about something which every one of us possesses. We all perceive spiritual good to some extent. But even a glimmer lights up our experience. It's a glimpse of infinite reality. There's no doomsday, there's no heyday, there's only God's day of ever-present good!
How do we develop spiritual perception? How do we apply it? Well, if you wanted to find out about astronomy, how would you go about it? Wouldn't you go to a skilled astronomer and learn from him or from his writings and teachings what he knew about astronomy? In the same way then, if we want to discover and learn about spiritual facts, we should go to those who had proved they know something about them, those keenly aware of spiritual perception and its uses. We should study the teachings of some of the great spiritual teachers of all time.
There never has been a greater spiritual teacher than Christ Jesus.
Jesus had no doubt of man's spiritual perception. He taught men to exercise it with confidence.
And he required of those he healed that they claim and accept their own ability to perceive spiritual good. To the man with the withered hand, he said, "Stretch forth thine hand" (Matt. ). While this was a physical act, it indicated the man's willingness to reach out in thought and learn more of the true facts of God and man - the Christ, Truth, that Jesus expressed. When he obeyed, he saw what was really true and was healed. His hand "was restored whole, like as the other" (ibid.).
It was by his deeds as well as by his words that Jesus taught men to pray. And it is by following him in deed as well as in word that we too learn to pray - to discover and utilize in our own thought our ability to perceive the true spiritual nature of things. This leaves us no doubt of good, no belief in or acceptance of what appears to be sick, unhappy or sinful. We can open our eyes, look right through evil, and see, instead, the good that's really true. We can, to use Mrs. Eddy's words already quoted, "look deep into realism."
Jesus healed in just this way. He intuitively knew what was really true, instead of being deceived by the evil which appeared to human sense. By these demonstrations of the Christ-power, he taught his disciples to develop and use their spiritual perception.
As you and I use our spiritual perception to realize the facts of infinite good, we too lose the sense of evil. Like Elisha's servant, our eyes are opened spiritually and we are healed of whatever is bothering us. We see God's "chariots of fire" which are always around us, instead of the enemy chariots.
Healing of an incurable disease
I know a student of Christian Science who was healed of an incurable disease through putting into practice what she had learned of spiritual perception. Let me quote from her letter: "I have been healed of cancer, and would say to those who are suffering with an incurable disease, you can be healed through Christian Science."
This woman proved that matter doesn't make any conditions for us. She had been correctly taught that Life is God, Spirit - eternal and indestructible - that there is no life nor death in matter. This opened her eyes to the spiritual fact of lively health which was present instead of disease and the threat of death. She was able to see and bring the truth of Mrs. Eddy's words into her experience, "Consciousness constructs a better body when faith in matter has been conquered. Correct material belief by spiritual understanding, and Spirit will form you anew" (Science and Health, p. 425).
There have been fine visions of Truth down through the ages, but there has been none brighter or more divine than that of Mary Baker Eddy in 1866, when she discovered the Christ Science! She was one of the most consecrated students of the teachings of Christ Jesus that the world has ever known. Her mighty accomplishments in healing, teaching, founding the Christian Science movement, lead the unprejudiced thinker to the conclusion that here is one who truly understood spiritual perception. Mrs. Eddy is widely recognized as the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. Should she not also be recognized as one of the great spiritual teachers of all time?
Through her many years of prayer and search for absolute Truth, Mrs. Eddy was prepared to receive the revelation that the Christianity Jesus embodied and taught was absolute Science. She became aware that he and his followers performed their healing works through the scientific perception of what was really true, instead of the mental acceptance of what appears to be real to the limited physical senses. She came to realize that the sin and suffering of material existence is an illusion. She proved this by actual healings and experiences over a long period of years.
Recently a physicist came into my office in search of healing through Christian Science. I spoke to him about its teaching that all true substance and law are spiritual and that therefore matter and its so-called forces are unreal. Because of his training he was having a hard time accepting these radical new teachings. Then I said to him, "But you know the things that are believed today by physicists about matter are quite different from what they believed a few years ago. They've come to accept radical new concepts about the nature of matter."
Mrs. Eddy shared discoveries
"Oh, but," he said, "these things were true all the time, they've just recently been discovered."
"Exactly, my friend," I said, "You've just made my point! The spiritual facts that I spoke to you about were true all the time, too. Mrs. Eddy discovered them and made them available through her writings. Now, anyone who wishes to can set to work and demonstrate for himself that there is no evil, but all is in reality, spiritual and good."
Her unselfish love for her fellowmen sustained her through the years of prodigious effort and care that she spent writing down her discoveries in clear, simple language. Her book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," has been a best seller since its date of publication in 1875.
The way to solve each problem of everyday living is to develop spiritual perception; and every single one of us - not just Christian Scientists - has this ability.
What better way can the student benefit from what he's learning than to put it into practice, to start healing at once? Through spiritual perception, we become aware of the fact that what appears to be disease, suffering, discord of any kind, is actually a counterfeit, a false front, if you will, back of which is something good and spiritual. We read in Science and Health, "If you wish to know the spiritual fact, you can discover it by reversing the material fable, be the fable pro or con - be it in accord with your preconceptions or utterly contrary to them" (Science and Health, p. 129). The substance and activity of God's creation are wholly good. So when something bad appears, it must be illusion, a mistaken sense of what really is. As we learn to open our eyes and discern spiritually what's taking place, we find the good that's actually there. This results in healing.
Health always present
Even when symptoms of disease appear, what's really present all the time is health. Just as the protecting horses and chariots of fire were present all the time when Elisha's servant could see only the Syrian chariots. It's a delusion of the physical senses to believe you see and feel symptoms of disease. Health is really there instead. We see this through spiritual perception. This is the spiritually enlightened faith which Paul describes as "the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). Everything that is true is good. As we spiritually perceive the Christ, Truth, the true eternal facts of every situation, symptoms of disease no longer fool us. Right where those symptoms appear to be we find something that's good and healthy. We could never heal as long as we believed in evil's reality. Evil is not something real that has to be overcome, for in the presence of infinite spiritual good, evil must be seen for the nothing that it really is. This is how disease and suffering, even so-called incurable disease, can be healed.
You know, people seem to get some temporary relief from quite a number of diseases through drugs, but there's always something that drugs or material methods won't cure, or will only partially help. That's because these methods don't get at the real need.
There's really just one disease, and it's the illusion that God, the only creator, made something other than good. The development of our spiritual perception awakens us to see, instead, the health that He has provided for each one of us. Then we lose the sense of disease, and are truly healed. This can't be accomplished through a form of matter called a drug, because the problem is not physical. A belief in drugs may cause disease to change its form - it may even disappear as one type of disease - but it reappears in a myriad of other forms. Drugs are no real cure.
Correct teaching leads us to the source of all disease - the belief to which most of us have been falsely educated, that matter makes its own conditions. But matter does not make conditions for us. Spirit, God, alone, does this. The real need is for us to remove from thought any belief in the power or illusions of matter, and to spiritually perceive the truth of health which is there instead. This real health is something more than the health of a physical body.
Physical health is but the outward visible sign of an inner transformation, of redemption and salvation to use the Bible terms. You wouldn't think of using drugs to obtain salvation. Salvation is spiritual. So is true health. The same kind of inner transformation that brings salvation produces real health. And this comes about only through spiritualization of thought, not by drugs. And we can begin to practice this Christ-healing from the very first moment we embark on our study of the teachings of these great spiritual teachers I've just been talking about.
Now we've seen how this study develops our spiritual perception and the way in which it abundantly blesses our experience. Why then is it not used more in daily experience? What obscures it and hinders its development?
You know, we're all willing to use our spiritual perception to get rid of suffering and pain. But when it comes to using it to unsee our weaknesses, our selfish tendencies, and let go of them - when it comes to seeing some fellowman who's trying to harm us as the spiritual, loving man that God made him, then we sometimes resist exercising our spiritual sense. We may even think we don't have any, and that the selfishness and self-love, with which we all seem at times afflicted, is our true nature and that of our brothers and sisters. There seems to be something that would come between us and God, a barrier to the spiritual perception of the ever-present good in ourselves and our fellowmen.
The belief in a selfhood apart from God is a wrong quality that has been nurtured in most of us since infancy. It encourages the belief that we all have separate minds, separate personalities, separate egos apart from God, the one Mind or Ego.
Complete victory over false selfhood requires a mighty struggle. It's not accomplished overnight. But once we begin, the good results are immediate. It's done through a knowledge of the spiritual fact that man has no personal mind or selfhood apart from divine Love.
False sense of selfhood discarded
Let me tell you a story I heard the other day. An art student asked his instructor, "How do I carve out the image of an elephant?" "Oh," said the instructor, "you just take a block of stone, and chip away everything that doesn't look like an elephant!"
And when we students of life are carving out - deciding in our thought - what our concept of ourselves and our fellowmen is to be, it's spiritual perception that gives us the correct model from which to work. It enables us to see the real man, the image of Love, clearly. Then we can chip away that false sense of a selfhood apart from God.
Then we can see ourselves, and others, not as separate personal egos, struggling to preserve themselves at all costs, but as individual expressions or reflections of divine Love. As we do this, the aggressive self-will, that would justify all the ways of a personal selfhood, drops away from us. Mrs. Eddy put it this way in a letter: "God will answer the prayer only of the meek, the unself-willed, the penitent, those who see the errors that they must destroy" (Christian Science Sentinel, Vol. 38, p. 690, 1892 letter).
As we lose the false sense of selfhood and gain some knowledge of our true identity as the expressions of God, we lose the fear of attacks being made on us by others. Instead we rely confidently on God to preserve us, to preserve His own individual likeness.
The correct teachings of Christian Science reveal that evil has no reality of its own. Mrs. Eddy once wrote, "Error comes to you for life and you give it all the life it has" (Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy by Irving C. Tomlinson, p. 85). No unhappy condition we may be confronted with can remain in our experience - provided we scientifically understand that the protecting power of divine Love - God's horses and chariots of fire, always surround us. Just think of it! The same saving, healing ideas which appeared to Elisha and his servant as horses and chariots of fire are here today, to save and heal us! All we have to do is open our eyes, spiritually, in order to see them. Anyone's attempt to harm us is doomed to failure, if we meekly perceive the loving, spiritual nature of the real man, and his true selfhood as created by God divine Love.
We may not always see this, but it's as unnatural to hate, for any reason, as it is to want to be hated. There's no such thing as a good reason to hate, anyone or anything. It's contrary to man's real nature. Isn't it true that we all want to love as well as be loved? Isn't man's essential need, the most powerful force active in human consciousness, the desire to express unselfed love? Through spiritual perception we can discover and express this truly irresistible impulsion, deeply rooted in each one of us.
Welfare placed in Godís hands
Then our eyes are opened to perceive clearly the good all around us and to dispel the illusions of evil. Then, like Jesus, we are in a strong position to defend ourselves from attack and to heal whatever needs healing.
This was proved in the experience of a Christian Scientist I know, who became involved in a difficult human relationship.
My friend had a responsible executive position in a national business concern. A new man joined the organization. He became jealous of the Christian Scientist's position and tried to influence the management against him, making unjust accusations and insinuations. In spite of an excellent record of accomplishment with the company, the man was affected by this antagonism, became very unhappy, and his work suffered. The situation came to a head when he went on vacation. He returned to find that in his absence an audit of the company books had been made. He was surprised, because this work was usually done under his own supervision. Then an associate told him privately that the new employee had convinced the management that he might be embezzling funds and that an audit should be made. When the audit showed this to be absolutely untrue, the auditor was asked to manufacture evidence on which my friend could be forced to resign. This the auditor refused to do.
The Christian Scientist had almost begun to believe the false accusations of incompetency against him, but he knew that he wasn't dishonest. When he found that this charge had been made, it opened his eyes. He saw what he had to do - that he must perceive the true picture instead of the false one he had been taking in, not only of himself, but of his associates. He resisted the selfish impulse to take things into his own hands and resign in indignation.
After talking with a Christian Science practitioner, he decided to meekly stand firm and heal the situation through prayer. He refused to react in kind to this malicious attack. He sought to put his whole welfare into God's hands and leave it there. He got up at each morning and prayed fervently to see himself and his associates as governed by God, divine Principle, the one Mind.
Aggressive injustice dissolved
He strove to realize that in God's realm one individual couldn't possibly interfere with another, injure another, or rob him of his good name, reputation, and supply. He knew that he had been loyal to the company and had done good work. He refused to believe that the reward would be false accusation and injustice. He knew God had created only the true man who is honest, upright, fair and just, and that, as he corrected his own fearful and selfish thinking and let God work things out, he couldn't suffer from the thoughts or acts of others.
Gradually, a wonderful change took place in the attitude of the management. Doubt and suspicion faded away, and he was held in respect and high regard once again. The head of the company expressed his deep regret at what had happened and said he felt great admiration for the way in which my friend had conducted himself. And not only was he fully vindicated, but as a result of this healing, a field of activity of much wider scope and promise opened up for him. His overcoming of self-love, of a sense of a self apart from God, had broken the barrier to his spiritual perception of good.
Whoever would develop his spiritual ability to see good at all times, must give up self-love and learn his true identity as the expression of God, infinite divine Love.
There are revolutionary changes taking place in the world today. Incredible mental forces, both good and evil, are coming to the surface. But the things of Spirit, of true good, haven't changed since the beginning of time. They will never change. The invariable facts of good underlie all that falsely appears to be real to physical sense. Through spiritual perception we can find these marvelous truths, and bring them progressively into our human experience. It reveals the superior wisdom of being unselfishly willing to put our health, our affairs, our whole lives completely into the competent hands of divine Love - and to leave them there.
The evidence of God's limitless, tender love for each one of us is unmistakable to spiritual perception. Our intuitive quality of spiritual insight enables us to see and bring into human experience the invisible things of God, the spiritual facts of good. They aren't invisible to us when we use our spiritual perception.
Open your eyes, your spiritual discernment, look around you, and you'll see this good everywhere!
© 1965 Martin N. Heafer
All rights reserved
[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 20, 1968.]