Seeing Spiritual Existence

by Jim Chapman

How does one know that spiritual existence is tangible? Spiritual reality cannot be detected by the physical senses. A material mentality or mortal mind cannot conceive of spiritual things. This is why perception of the tangibility of Spirit may elude us at first. But as we understand through Christian Science that man reflects divine Mind, Spirit, that he does not possess a private, material mind, we begin to understand and perceive spiritual existence.

Spirit is the only true substance. Matter is a false sense of substance, a belief in the existence of reality apart from Spirit. Spirit is the only cause. Its effect is the universe of perfect spiritual ideas, living and moving in infinite Mind.

Our perception of the reality of spiritual existence is the standpoint from which we gain the power to heal. Discord or limitation can be healed by first understanding it to be a subjective state of delusive, mortal thought and then by realizing its unreality. Approaching problems as actual conditions to be changed, rather than as false beliefs to be dispelled, we will think our prayers have to change matter. And to the degree that we think to change matter, we will doubt, and thereby undermine, the power of our prayers. But when an apparent material condition is seen to be a false belief, the discernment of the specific spiritual counter fact of that belief - the scientific truth that destroys it - will make the belief vanish from thought, the only place where it ever claimed to exist. Then our healing work is done, and we have but to know that it is done.

Being concerned about what matter is doing hinders healing. Spiritual sense reveals the only facts of man.

This was illustrated to me once when my foot was badly swollen. I had prayed to understand the unreality of each of the mistaken beliefs about man claiming to constitute the problem. When I knew this was done, I watched my foot for signs of improvement. There were none. I realized I needed to look away from matter and be satisfied with spiritual perfection alone. Perceiving man's existence apart from physicality brought the realization that man is spiritual and perfect in spite of and independent of matter. I became totally unconcerned with the material picture, and the physical healing took place quickly. I had needed to hold a more spiritual view of man - to accept the spiritual facts as the only facts involved.

We may feel we don't perceive the substantiality of spiritual existence sufficiently to exercise the authority over error that we know is possible. But each of us can gain this authority. We can become conscious that God's kingdom is come. As we increasingly cherish Truth and Love, we come to understand the impossibility of an existence separate from God. Mrs. Eddy tells us, "Man understands spiritual existence in proportion as his treasures of Truth and Love are enlarged."(1)

To better demonstrate the nothingness of mortal beliefs, we need to increasingly cultivate an understanding and awareness of the infinite somethingness of spiritual ideas. These ideas are beautiful and deeply satisfying when understood. Worldly and personal beliefs are sourceless, illegitimate, fleeting. They have no structure, value, strength, or basis. Because spiritual good is the only reality and power, there is actually no evil or malice, no sin, sickness, or mortality. And there is no source for such beliefs.

The Apostle Paul tells us, "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."(2) Our spiritual sense increasingly develops as we think on these things, as we earnestly study, ponder, and cherish God's nature, and love man in His likeness.

Our allegiance to Truth during our daily activities prepares our thought for receptivity to spiritual unfoldment in moments of prayer. Whatever we love, trust, or obey - be it the spiritual or the material -tends to be established as reality in our thought.

When asked, "Which is the great commandment in the law?" Christ Jesus replied: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, and with all thy soul, and with all they mind.... And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."(3) To understand spiritual being we need not only to love Spirit as our Mind and Soul but to acknowledge Spirit's likeness in others.

To illustrate: I remember one time when I had been trying to perceive the substance of spiritual being. I prayed to see that I was the spiritual reflection of God, having no selfhood other than as God's likeness. I prayed, knowing I was not identified by physicality - not a material personality. I persisted in this way for some time without a glimmer of insight. Then the thought came to declare the same truths for all mankind as for myself - and I did. Instantly I perceived, in a wave of insight, the tangibility and infinitude of man's being as the reflection of infinite Love. I realized the universality of the truth of man, man in God's likeness. I was loving my neighbor as myself.

When we are willing to give spiritual ideas their proper place in thought and are willing to relinquish finite concepts of life, we will perceive spiritual existence more tangibly. We will increasingly see ourselves and others as Spirit's own likeness, as the infinitely loved expressions of divine Love. Because the Mind which is Spirit is actually our Mind, we can affirm that we are now awake to our identity as Spirit's reflection. Holding to this view of ourselves turns faith into fruition as the unseen that is hoped for emerges as a present reality.

(1) Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, p 265; (2) Philippians 4:8 (KJV); (3) Matthew 22:36,37,39.

Transcribed from
The Christian Science Sentinel
April 6, 1976

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