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)
It is no small matter to stay the course of unselfish living, to have effortless access to the soothing impact of divine Love, to find the stillness for the next step, to experience genuine healing.
Mary Baker Eddy has words of assurance for us:
"That tomorrow starts from today and is one day beyond it, robes the future with hope's rainbow hues. In the battle of life, good is made more industrious and persistent because of the supposed activity of evil. The elbowing of the crowd plants our feet more firmly. In the mental collisions of mortals and the strain of intellectual wrestlings, moral tension is tested, and if it yields not, grows stronger. (...) There is no excellence without labor; and the time to work, is now."
(Miscellaneous Writings, p. 339/340)
Christianity as Jesus introduced it, wasn't called Christianity originally. It was called The Way, I learned. I get from this: It is a practice, not an object of admiration. Jesus himself talks about life as a way:
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad and easy to travel is the path that leads the way to destruction and eternal loss, and there are many who enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow and difficult to travel is the path that leads the way to [everlasting] life, and there are few who find it."
If you have no Bible background and are unfamiliar with this quote and can't make sense of "everlasting", think "continuous", and if "life" is too abstract, think "being". So living in sync with continuous being is living the good life - the real life, the only existence that truly is. It is here.
But, Jesus says, beware of the danger zone, the "wide gate", opening to a destructive path. The good life is to found only behind the narrow gate. Why is it narrow? How many ways are there to go wrong, how many chances to give in to "the elbowing of the crowd" (Mary Baker Eddy) and elbow back? Millions, of course. Because there is only one way to do it right. So what makes the gate narrow is, I find, its precision. We have to hit the mark. The "narrow gate" is a hand-forged master piece, because there are many wrongs, but only one right. The divine way.
Narrow is in its original meaning also another word for tailored - it is really fitting and clear, not restricting. It is narrow, because it is made FOR YOU. It feels right like a custom-made dress. Who are you truly, what defines your being? What is true individuality? The answer is specific and it is glorious. It is unlike the path of anybody else.
Difficult to find this gate and to travel this path behind it? Yes, says the couch potato, the poor little me, that can only understand a limited life-span. In order to find it, to daily and walk in it, I have pinpointed those small thoughts that lead me right into the danger zone in which it is impossible to life the real life. We can detect those thoughts quickly and know: "I am not going there. My thinking is private, it is the reflection of Goodness and intelligence, of generosity and humility. I will not let one of my thoughts be used to jeopardize the divine plan of justice, health, and peace for all." You will notice quickly that the danger zone is no fun, although it feels justified to stay there. The danger zone is really dangerous, not at all like Kenny Loggins' energetic "Highway to the danger zone, gonna take you right into the danger zone". The danger zone is hazardous, it erodes strength, takes away meaning, and makes healing impossible.
So now it is time: The curtain rises. Drum roll! Its time to present to you:
"The infamous d-a-n-g-e-r z-o-n-e."
Look around, behold its ugliness, its unnatural allure, see its bottom covered with sludge, beware of the tar on the side, look at the dust covering the walls, ash and cinder everywhere --- and hear what the voices hidden in its obscure recesses are whispering:
Quickly jump out of the danger zone, take a deep breath, take a bath in the sunshine of goodness - and make a healthy plan: Own your life and take responsibility. Get to know Good. Find the narrow gate and walk right through it up the good path. Note how it becomes wider at every step. You have avoided the danger zone, the ego cascade, thoughts recurring to your needs 24/7, the "me first" nightmare, the story of desperation. Discipline and love will keep you on the right track and will make your life complete, less lonely, boring, or stressful. It will teach you how to live the good life, the abundant life. Good, God, enables you to do your mental homework every single day and work within God's master plan for all.
Write something on your personal banner as you march on. Perhaps a poem? A spiritual idea? A Bible verse? A wise counsel? Or this hymn. It will boost your confidence, encourage you to stay alert - and keep you safe and sound out of the danger zone, complying with a divine standard. It is fixing you right in the middle of Love's comfort zone:
"Is the heart a well left empty?
None but God its void can fill;
Nothing but a ceaseless fountain
Can its ceaseless longings still.
Is the heart a living power?
Self-entwined its strength sinks low;
It can only live in loving,
And, by serving, love will grow."
(Poem by Elizabeth Charles, Hymnal #360)
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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