With an intensity probably unknown to any other period in humanity's history a lot of energy is being invested into the mere surface of things, of events, of people. The way things look (instead of what they are), how people, events, or things are perceived (rather than truly are), and who has the best show (in times when trust among is crumbling away, this is what is left). There is a relentless appeal to the surface, the outmost layer of a physical object or space, in a speed that is breathtaking.
Depth and surface are central to debates about virtual reality, computers, and television. Depth and surface also relate to tweets and facebook, fake news and showtime, also in regard to cosmetics, body images and plastic surgery, visual impressions and contrived images, simulations and fakes. In his seminal work Postmodernism, Or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1995), Frederic Jameson investigates the "depthlessness" of postmodern culture, in particular within the art world. But it applies today, in the 21st century, to many more phenoma. There is f.e. a rapidly growing interest in virtual realities — in holographic projections, computerized games, and technologies designed to create heightened sense impressions. The emphasis seems to be on seeming and feeling, rather than on being and doing.
Interestingly the symbol of the media world is the screen - the symbol of the surface culture.
If surface is all there is, if "depth" is just another superficial layer beyond the initial surface, then nothing remains that is profound. And yet humanity's hunger for meaning is the most significant movement of thought underway in human culture.
Logic tells me there is no way that the five physical senses can ever take us beyond the surface. That is all they can touch, see, hear, smell, or taste. Sensebased knowledge is incapable of grasping something that doesn't have material parameters. It requires thinking and faith — a quiet heart — to perceive something different, something beyond the millions of layered surfaces presented by popular culture.
This "something beyond" was what Christ Jesus saw and taught. Here was someone who literally walked over water — surface — in defiance of material limitations. But as Mary Baker Eddy also noted concerning Jesus, "He plunged beneath the material surface of things, and found the spiritual cause" (Science and Health, p. 313). Jesus penetrated the surface of the material world that we call "real." He showed that there is a God who is transcendental to the human mind. She adds: "We cannot fathom the nature and quality of God's creation by diving into the shallows of mortal belief." (Science and Health, p. 292)
God's messages break through misperceptions of what is real and show us something else, the reality of Spirit and spiritual existence. In the modern age, long before our present surface culture, Mary Baker Eddy writes: "When examined in the light of divine Science, mortals present more than is detected upon the surface, since inverted thoughts and erroneous beliefs must be counterfeits of Truth. Thought is borrowed from a higher source than matter, and by reversal, errors serve as waymarks to the one Mind, in which all error disappears in celestial Truth" (Science and Health, p. 267). So do we need to believe all we see and hear? How do we get the facts - about Life, about our being?
All it takes to help forward the search for depth is a simple yearning for something beneath and beyond the surfaces of everyday life. We are being invited to dive into the dephts. And we are being asked every day by Life itself: "Hast thou walked in the search of the depth?" (38:16).
How spiritual perception healed someone who had attempted suicide you can read about here: Infinite good - the dawning and the meridian (by Allison W. Phinney)
In my practice I encounter the need for change, for progress, for renewal - mostly of myself, but also of others. It may sound like "I need more colors in my life, every day the same, all monochromatic" (that is one single base hue only). This morning cycling through a huge gorgeous park to a reading room of a library, I drove through lawn sprinklers of gigantic proportions, producing the most glorious rainbows under gigantic beech trees. And seeing a rainbow is always very special, don't you agree?
This year I will spend part of my summer time at Arc-en-Ciel in Switzerland, a Christian Science summer camp in its 50th year now. This camp offers a mix of togetherness, fun, development (from Bible exploration to sustainability, art, and more), most of all spiritual refreshment and empowerment. I was asked to be the Christian Science Practitioner on site. The organizing team is fantastic and we are ready to roll.
The theme of this year's camp is from Paul: "...walk as children of light!" (Ephesians 5:8). It is a wonderful motto and you might already have an idea what that could mean in your own life. Certainly Paul knew what he was writing about but evidently also perceiving the need to give more specific ideas to live by in order to heal the question mark on his readers' foreheads. So he sent the light of his spiritual teaching through a prism, dispersing the beam of light. A prism separates the long wavelengths from the shorter wavelengths and makes light visible, in a way - that's how we see colors. Paul gatheres nine qualities of light, from the other side of the prism, and these nine qualities, you might say, are the essence of a spiritual life, a life as "a child of light". They show the concrete uplift, relevance, and richness of spirituality in action. To walk as a child of light means that to be alive, productive, and truly content. It means making a difference in material concept of world - much as light does in darkness. Here are the nine qualities Paul mentions, in the translation of J.B. Phillips (Galatians 5: 22,23), writing from experience:
"love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, fidelity, tolerance and self-control."
In the Message these same qualities are related this way:
"But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely."
Arc-en-Ciel means "rainbow" in French, and along with the campers we all are made for a colorful life, a rich life, an abundant life, in every land, in every culture. Spiritual living is light, no darkness at all - the total absence of light - which enables us to stop the repetition of the same story over and over again. There is a startling openness and surprising immediacy of the Spiritual. As the properties of visible light are intensity, direction, frequency or spectrum, so is it with our experience. The qualities Paul invites us to live present an infinite array of possibilities, opportunities of healing practice: kindness, generosity, and self-control can be explored, intensified, be given a direction, can be more frequent and display a larger spectrum.
There is no obligation to stare into the dark of materialism, every day. It is not our duty to live pressured lives in a hamster wheel or to bear the boredom of days without purpose. We can stop agreeing with the shadow of an existence and lift our thought towards spiritual living - which Jesus showed to be the only existence there is. We can turn thought to the elegant, beautiful order of the universe under the control of divine Principle. We can acknowledge that divine Love is present, embracing us with tender care and comfort and filling our days with --- light! And we respond by opening our eyes and acknowledging the warmth all around. All the good you are experiencing today is divine. All those lovely qualities of light are divine to start with and belong to Soul, God. They are not human accomplishments - they show forth in beauteous ways what light is: The essence of Life.
I picked one quality in particular to give my own "walk as a child of light" direction and to explore the spectrum of this quality in a more specific way. I intend to see the results very soon. I am looking up the word, write up a small concept and I am defining aspects of my thinking and living which will benefit from this discipline - to let my light shine more brightly and more consistently than before. Do you have one, too?
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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