Developing a taste for spirituality
SOME of the things we enjoy now we may not have enjoyed when first exposed to them-perhaps classical music, or jazz, or fine art, or a particular sport, or the cuisine of another country. Developing any taste requires a fair amount of open-mindedness as well as persistence. This allows us to appreciate the special qualities of something that have led others to love it.
Spirituality isn't one of the world's favorite things. It consists, in part, of a love for spiritual reality, of what St. Paul called ''the things which are not seen.'' n1 Forms of materiality-worldly riches, sensual pleasures, and so forth-have always claimed to supply mankind's deepest needs and hopes. But for all its flash, materialistic thinking is incapable of delivering on its promises. Today, spectacular developments in the natural sciences and technology promise much. Yet while technical advances can certainly be progressive in one sense, there are signs of increasing restlessness and dissatisfaction with what the material world has to offer.
n1 IICorinthians 4:18.
For almost two thousand years, Christianity, as epitomized in the life and teachings of Christ Jesus, has offered humanity a spiritual answer to its needs. But many hesitate to develop the spirituality implicit in Christ Jesus' injunction ''Follow me.'' n2 Why? Because it's easier to follow the general drift of worldly thought and to believe that what our physical senses report is the whole of reality. Materiality has a fundamental distaste for spirituality. This distaste characterizes what Paul calls the carnal mind, or ''enmity against God.'' n3
n2 See, for example, Matthew 19:21.
n3 See Romans 8:7. The elements that seem to the physical senses to constitute man, as well as the discords and evils that accompany these elements, are exposed as illusory when we grow spiritually. They are seen as misinterpretations of reality, metaphysical impossibilities, given the infinity, omnipresence, and omnipotence of God, Spirit. But discerning the insubstantiality of material things doesn't deprive us of good or of our own identity. Rather, it frees us. The physical and mental healings, the moral regeneration, that are the hallmarks of Christian Science, demonstrate the truth of this view. And each healing, each instance of regeneration, each spiritual insight, serves to weaken evil's supposed grip on mankind by removing another degree of our belief in and assent to it. They also contribute to the mounting evidence of Spirit's presence and superiority.
And yet spirituality isn't something you can just sign up for. A taste for it must be cultivated. Interestingly, an important factor in this process is childlikeness. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science , says, ''Willingness to become as a little child and to leave the old for the new, renders thought receptive of the advanced idea.'' n4
n4 Science and Health with key to the Scriptures, pp. 323-324.
learned this the very first time I opened Science and Health, the Christian
Science textbook, written by Mrs. Eddy. I was lying on my waterbed with a cigarette in one hand and a martini nearby (just a few of the worldly tastes I had acquired in fifteen years of agnosticism). Though my woes had finally led me to investigate this unfamiliar but promising religion, certain habits of thought made reading the book difficult. I cringed at its spiritual language and attitude and found myself automatically disputing everything I read. But then the painful realization came that I wouldn't even be reading this book if the numerous worldly methods I had tried had been permanently successful. It was clear to me that I would simply need to persist and listen if I was going to get even a glimpse of what Christian Science was all about.
I'm glad I did! Spiritual ideas have a powerful stirring effect in human consciousness. However strange they may at first seem, when humbly welcomed into thought, they call forth an echo of understanding from deep within. With continuing efforts to clear worldly debris from my thought and actions, I'm discovering that acquiring a taste for spirituality doesn't involve adding anything new to consciousness. Instead, this effort serves to uncover a deep, natural love for God that has always been there. DAILY BIBLE VERSE To be spiritually minded is life and peace. Romans 8:69:21. 3 See Romans 8:7. 4 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 323-324.