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Is a banana round?

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

Seems like a no-brainer. And yet, slice a banana onto your breakfast cereal, and what's the shape of those little disks? Round, like coins.

Yes, most coins we'd describe as round. But wait; look at them edgewise, and they're flat.

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How we describe something depends a great deal on how we're looking at it. A description that at first may seem ridiculous - like a round banana - may on further investigation prove to be perfectly valid. Realizing this can have implications that go far beyond musing over the shapes on your cornflakes. It can reveal insights that reshape our lives and help us to deal more effectively with our problems.

For instance, the question "Are we spiritual?" isn't likely to be answered with an unqualified "yes" from the usual standpoint of observation. After all, there's a material body that's born, grows to maturity, and ultimately dies. Yet that's not all of an individual. Qualities like goodness, lovingkindness, integrity, and so on, which make up individual character; the intelligence and capacity that establish our abilities - these can't really be defined as material or dependent on a physical body.

So the conclusion might then be drawn that we are partly material, partly spiritual, or perhaps a spiritual soul housed in a material body, as a lot of people have described it.

But what if we could go further and define our identities as being totally spiritual? What if we recognized the material body as only a limited concept of what our true identity, or body, is? Would that break through material limitations and bring us into a new and freer sense of life and its possibilities?

That's the standpoint from which Christ Jesus could perform remarkable healings and demonstrate his freedom from physical limitations. This is discussed the Christian Science textbook, which presents a spiritually scientific statement of what our true being is. Starting from the premise that God is All - is Spirit, Mind - and the consequent deceptive nature of matter, "the scientific statement of being" concludes: "Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 468).

When we start reasoning from this standpoint, we can more readily understand and obey statements and instructions that otherwise might seem preposterous - just as we can see that from a certain standpoint a banana really is round. As an example, Science and Health discusses how to pray when an accident happens: "Declare that you are not hurt and understand the reason why ..." (pg. 397). That seems an outrageous thing to declare when we're hurting badly! But the keynote is "understand the reason why."

While I was helping some friends scrub the bottom of a heavy sailboat, as it was being winched up a slipway, the toes of my right foot were caught between a steel wheel (carrying a quarter of the boat's weight) and the steel rail it was running on. The pain was intense. I hobbled away from the scene of the accident and pondered the instruction about accidents in Science and Health. In the middle of agonizing pain, how could I honestly declare, "I am not hurt"?

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I realized I was so much more than a lump of easily damaged matter. The goodness, helpfulness, justice, purity, and so on that constituted my real being could in no way be damaged or in pain. This spiritual being, derived from God, remained untouched by accident or injury.

After pondering ideas like this for a few minutes, I found the worst pangs of pain had dissipated. I soon returned to helping my friends for the rest of the afternoon. More healing followed quickly. My foot, which was badly swollen that evening after I'd cleaned it up, had resumed its normal size by the next morning. I was able to wear a close-fitting pair of shoes and help conduct two public meetings that day. Though I was still limping slightly, it was not noticeable. All evidence of the injury was gone within the next few days.

This might help illustrate the spiritual standpoint that Christian Science presents. It enables anyone to assert - with understanding - that all is well, right in the face of material evidence to the contrary. And it's from this standpoint of thinking that spiritual healing results.

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