It is not ignorant, uninformed or uncool to not have an opinion on a given issue. Our lives are built on eternal facts, immortal facts, which operate in a different realm and not needing our approval. To refrain from forming an opinion means to side with Truth, which is always on our side, on everyone's side. To side with Truth is natural, but our culture discourages often this path. Often the only thing that is asked of us, is an opinion, an intense emotion. Like? Dislike?
During a heated debate at my university on a topic I certainly had an opinion about, I felt a need later on to pray and listen. Earnestly. Deeply yearning for a higher view. And the result was, that I realized the glory of not having an opinion and the wisdom in unselfishly supporting the peace of mind of everybody. The mental work that followed has changed my experience in more fundamental ways than I could have imagined. One being that I am not a friend of unsolicited advice anymore.
Since that time a favorite insight from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy has grown even dearer to me:
"In Christian Science mere opinion is valueless." (p. 341)
An opinion really cements a human perspective which our ego relies upon. It leaves little space for understanding and holds us in a constant spot of flutter and fuzz. For anything in life and in Life is really not about an opinion, it is about understanding. Do you like this individual? Or dislike that person? Do you like this artwork? Do you dislike that decision? Based on truthful living how about these questions: Do you understand this individual? Or understand that person? Do you understand this artwork? Or do you understand this decision? What do you really know? And how does it feel to love with a universal love?
To move out of the combative fabric of public culture - or private culture - out of the back and forth of the opinion driven culture is a tall order. It asks for a lot of humility, inner work and ego busting. I rarely read a more moving account of this process and the shining results that followed than an account by Mary Trammell, a Christian Science practitioner and teacher from Florida. You can read the entire interview with Suzanne Smedley here. This part relates the healing of a prolonged period of weakness which prevented her from leaving her house, while she continued her practice work from home:
"I remember I was lying on the sofa one day, alone in the house, and I thought, 'If I ever get completely healed, I want to be a new person, and I’m going to give my whole life, like I never have before, to God and to the practice of Christian Science—to its healing mission.' And then, it was almost like a voice said to me, 'Well, why can’t that begin right now?' And so, I made the commitment right then that I would give it my all in a way I never had before. I think it was from that point forward that I began to see light at the end of the tunnel, and I had a complete recovery. (...) And as you know, Suzanne, I’ve been quite healthy ever since.
From then on, the practice became my life—the center of everything, whether it was family, church work, writing, editing. Without that, the rest would be meaningless. And I think I came out of that experience with a new sense of God as Love.
Prior to that, I’d spent a lot of time in an academic atmosphere, where the intellectual put-down, or arguing back, was a skill—you were encouraged to be a little combative. But after that healing, I couldn’t feel combative about anything, except fighting for the Truth. I found that even with our kids, who were teenagers at the time, I didn’t want to get mad at them anymore!
I remember soon after that experience, our son accidentally dropped a whole pile of plates, and broke them all, and felt terrible about it. I heard a big crash and went out to the kitchen, but you know, I wasn’t upset. I said, 'Well, let’s clean it up,' and he looked at me, and he said, 'Mom, you’ve come a long way. Two years ago you would have gone ballistic about this.' Since that healing, I haven’t ever had it in me to get really mad about anything."
What does it take to know something thoroughly? To understand an issue thoroughly - to become thoroughly proficient f.e. in speaking Italian or Mandarin, in mastering North Indian Cooking or playing the Goldberg variations by Johann Sebastian Bach. Or to understand journalism thoroughly, the British art of baking, gardening, driving, how a car really works. Running a household, preparing a reading, raising children, understanding a teenager, writing an exam, pitch an idea in the world of sales. You get the idea. "Thoroughly" is different from just googling something.
Take carpenting - an art held in high esteem in our family because of our mom, the first female carpenter of Germany. The difference between a DIY-er who does carpenting at the weekends, and those who are in the carpentry trade as professionals and work with lumber day in and day out might be f.e. the insistence on exact measurements. Skill and capabilities are developed over a long period of time, and no shortcut can make up for a lack of experience. In an interview with a carpenter I found this sentence, which I have never forgotten: "Look, I don't get paid for what I do in an hour. I get paid for what I CAN do in an hour - any hour, anywhere, on any job." So a professional is different from an amateur, and often you see this in a special moment, namely in the way he or she handles mistakes. Up front, and thoroughly, precisely. Because the work matters and not the impression you give.
It is a lesson in humility to honestly ask ourselves what we really, thoroughly know in our life. The answers are private.
"Thorough" is a word from Old English, around for more than 1200 years, and comes from "through". It means f.e. to dive into a lake at one end and come out at the other. Complete emergence. It means to be perfectly involved without deviation. Thorough means to be extremely attentive to detail and accuracy, to have full command of an art, a talent etc., and it also means painstaking. And, from the history books around King Charles I, without compromise.
What got me started to look deeper into the word "thoroughly", is a counsel from my favorite textbook to the Bible, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy:
"It should be thoroughly understood that all men have one
Mind, one God and Father, one Life, Truth, and Love.
Mankind will become perfect in proportion as this fact
becomes apparent, war will cease and the true brother‐
hood of man will be established."
This sentence follows the Golden rule - the Biblical demand to love our neighbor as ourselves.
I have been asking myself, what it takes to understand that we all have one Mind, one God and Father, and what it takes to understand this "thoroughly". What more is there to learn and practice? I thought I already understood something here, but, gee, what a learning curve again. The deeper one embarks on the journey of unselfish, authentic love things get a lot easier - and a lot harder. And a lot easier again.
You will have your own answers to the question, and I have the deepest respect for that. Infinite answers to an infinite question. Flowing from what we really know.
My current answer includes this: Doesn't the counsel mean that we love the deepest when we admit that we are spiritual ideas rather than carbon-based entities with beginning and end? Understanding this thoroughly means that we are never alone anymore. It also means not so much to invite God into our life, but rather helps us in conforming to God's established wonderfulness of being. In a way, we invite ourselves into the Life, that is Love, by striving to be more thorough in thinking and living. More real. There is nothing more demanding nor rewarding as the effort to live unselfishly. Something like becoming a real professional in unselfishness. We know what it takes to be really good at something. Now carry this understanding of thoroughness over into your inner life. It is not easy, yes, but not impossible.
Who is writing?
In my work as Christian Science practitioner and writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.
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