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A Life of Learning

FOR many people in the Northern Hemisphere the month of September and ``return to school'' are synonymous. Some will be going back as teachers, others as pupils. But all of them symbolize the importance of learning in a modern and rapidly changing world.

Much research has been done into the nature of intelligence. For some, brainpower is the answer. Yet reducing intelligence to brainpower would argue that some of us have it and some of us don't. One wonders where Christ Jesus and the fishermen he chose as his first disciples would fit in such an evaluation. The Master didn't give them IQ tests before asking them to leave everything and follow him. Yet the task that lay before them--learning from Jesus and then establishing the Christian Church--would demand the highest thought and wisdom.

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Instead of teaching his followers about brainpower, the Master taught about God, divine Mind, and our unbreakable relationship to God. Jesus told his listeners, ``I can of mine own self do nothing'' (John 5:30). But the Master wasn't describing a passive approach to living. His active and alert receptivity to divine direction illustrated God's ever-present love for man.

Mind, God, is the source of all real intelligence. As the offspring, or spiritual ideas, of this Mind, we each can express the unlimited wisdom and insight that come to us from our creator. We need, however, to be willing to surrender belief in ``brainpower'' for Mind's direction--of our thoughts, our decisions, and our days. When I was in college, for example, I wasn't an academic superstar, but I found that my ability to master the material was in almost direct proportion to my willingness to turn to God in prayer and to affirm my actual spiritual nature to be intelligent.

This experience confirmed for me some statements the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, makes in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. One of these is where she writes, ``Man is the offspring, not of the lowest, but of the highest qualities of Mind. Man understands spiritual existence in proportion as his treasures of Truth and Love are enlarged'' (p. 265).

Giving up a material view of ourselves does enlarge our ``treasures of Truth and Love.'' Often the first step in understanding new ideas is simply to realize that we are not limited mortal beings who are dependent on ``genes'' or ``brain'' for what we can know and comprehend. We are spiritual ideas of God and have full access to divine intelligence. This means that we can turn in prayer to God and expect to find an answer whether our problem is big or small. ``Self''-based knowledge supposedly resides in a brain with greater or lesser capacity depending on our biological background. Rejecting this limited view of man's nature, we gain our true ability, which is found in expressing the infinite, omnipresent, and omnipotent Mind, God.

Since I have left school, many years ago, my work has required me to continue to learn--sometimes in actual classes, sometimes on the job. Occasionally these requirements have not been easy to fulfill. But each time I have been able to give up a sense of intelligence as being my personal possession or as residing within me in some way, I have found the answers I've needed.

So if you're facing a test of new knowledge or of your ability to learn--at school, work, or elsewhere--take a few moments to pray silently and to affirm your unbreakable unity with God, divine Mind. Trust divine wisdom to remove any fear that might keep you from thinking clearly. This kind of learning is a joy, and it brings both satisfaction and progress.

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