Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Standpoint" essay

In my entry dated October 5 I alluded to spiritual lessons about the choice of a standpoint for looking at things. A reader was kind enough to ask me to elaborate, so I’ll give it a shot.

I was fascinated as a child in Sunday school to hear my teacher say that in the coming age “the astronomer will no longer look up to the stars, — he will look out from them upon the universe.”* I was sure at the time that she was talking about space travel, but as an adult I have concluded that this is all about how we perceive things. If we stop seeing ourselves as puny earthlings “down here,” it’s not too hard to realize that we’re already looking out from the stars. It’s a simple shift in point of view.

Here in Belarus, I see regularly how point of view colors things. The Belarusian people I’ve met are generally very proud of their nation and their culture. This pride is generally expressed in a gentle way, not as in-your-face nationalism, but as a matter of fact. It’s just the way people tend to see things. Except for those who see things differently! I’ve also met a small number of people who are deeply dissatisfied with the flawed electoral process in place here. To most of those in this second group, everything sucks; especially everything about the government. But yet the members of both groups are generally experiencing the same lives, the same sets of opportunities and restrictions.

On a metaphysical level, I am trying to elevate my standpoint in order to look through God’s eyes. My concept of God is as a loving Creator, satisfied in every respect by His flawless creation. I believe that when God looks at me he doesn’t see a struggling student limited by a certain I.Q. and a certain background. I believe He sees His own expression. In other words, if I can look at myself through God’s eyes I free myself from limitation.

This process takes a very practical turn when I survey the circumstances around me. If I look around and expect to see the beautiful and harmonious creation of a loving God, then I am not horrified if the bus driver is feeling testy today. It’s easier to respond to his testiness with love and calm because I know that I’m looking at the child of God, whom I know to be completely serene.

I can’t “look through the eyes of God” if my standpoint is that of a frustrated player in a confusing game. I can only do this if I recognize myself first as the same sort of loving and harmonious brother I wish to see in each of the people I encounter. We stop being players in a game or in a theater and start being ourselves as the expressions of a loving, powerful and knowing Creator.

*She was quoting from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy.

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