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Back to basics

Education has its back-to-basics movement Environmentalists have groups that urge us to pare our life style to a simpler, less consuming approach. Many people are growing impatient with a bureaucratization of their lives and society. Each of these concens is a genuine yearning to live closer to the heart of life, a need to get down to the essentials.

Yet there is more to getting down to essentials than trimming government, revising school curricula, and using fewer appliances. While these may be appropriate steps for a society and for individuals, they can become empty sacrifices unless thought is itself radically transformed. Fear, greed, distrust, may blind us to the simple and satisfying life. These seeds of destruction grow into the tangled jungle of materialism where survival of the ruthless is the first law. These attitudes are what cause us to collect things and money needlessly, conform to status- seeking rituals, engage in corruption and infidelity to gain power in corruption and infidelity to gain power and satisfaction.

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How are we to make a clean sweep of this mental debris that clutters and chokes our lives? The answer could not have been put more simply than it was in Christ Jesus' teaching: "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." n1

n1 Matthew 5:8

To pierce through to the fundamentals of life we must see what God is. To do this we need to discover our original purity -- an unmixed love for spirit, an integrity that holds fearlessly to Truth, aims that rejoice in Love. These three names -- Spirit, Truth, Love -- are names the Bible gives to the fundamental Principle of the universe -- God. There is nothing more basic than this Principle, and we can let this Principle shape our lives and guide us to the essentials.

How do we do this? The Beatitudes -- Jesus' guides to the spiritual pursuit and practice of happiness -- give us an unfailing checklist of what to keep and what to throw out of out thought, household, and society. The Beatitudes describe the truly simple life, the life shaped by the Principle of the universe. Here are the basics -- a humble spirit, a yearning for spiritual comfort, meekness, hunger and thirst for integrity, mercy, purity, peacemaking, longsuffering, and forgiveness. n2

n2 See 5:1-12.

Jesus and his disciples proved the practical support these spiritual essentials give. Jesus fed five thousand peoplw with a few loaves and fishes, changed water into wine, quieted a destructive storm, found his tax money in a fish's mouth. His approach to health care was immediate and direct. He understood Principle, God, and fed multitudes, healed the sick, and raised the dead. He knew that the Science of the divine economy would supply whatever is truly essential in the human economy. This same Principle also eliminates whatever is nonessential and detrimental. It purifies the heart.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered the Science JEsus practiced, affirmed the basic requirements for the simple life. She writes, "The good in being, even the spiritually indispensable, is your daily bread." n3 In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,m she illustrates how god's law, obeyed, brings help at every level of hunger -- hunger for safety, home, good government, beauty, health, love, and satisfaction.

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n3 The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 196.

In her spiritual interpretation of the Lord's Prayer, Mrs. EDDy offers a new view of the request, "Give us this day our daily bread." n4 She writes, "Give us grace for to-day; feed the famished affections."m n5 What quality could bring more freedom from excess bureaucracy than grace? What but grace could be more satisfying than our status as God's beloved child, the child of His grace?

n4 Matthew 6:11.

Science and Health, p. 17.

Our yearning for a life that is simple and close to the essentials can be satisfied. There is a way to educate, clothe, house, feed, heal, and enrich the lives of our families and our societies. The pure, powerful way of the Christ is that way. It requires us to weed out the jungle of materialism by purifying our heart -- by beginning in some way to love, live, and heal as Christ Jesus did. DAILY BIBLE VERSE As for the pure, his work is right. Proverbs 21:8 m

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