I have always loved peace, deeply desired peace in the world, and striven to be a peacemaker. However, this past year I found myself challenged more than ever by the notion that people can be so different from each other and misunderstand each other so completely that they experience a deep sense of division instead of peace and unity.
I thought about this divisiveness in the global context. Believing that all of us, as God’s ideas, are not part of the one manifestation of the one infinite God, Mind, assumes a separation into groups—some groups that seem to be better than others, or should have more rights than others, or might be more deserving than others. I saw clearly that the belief that we do not live in unity as one spiritual—and equally loved—creation of God is the basis for war and violence in the world.
I knew that my prayers for peace began with my individual life: to demonstrate harmony in relationships, to more expansively and unconditionally love.
I knew that my prayers for peace began with my individual life: to demonstrate harmony in relationships, to more expansively and unconditionally love. And although living out these prayers could be very challenging, especially when faced with everyday temptations to feel self-righteous in personal interactions, or to feel anxious when hearing stories of war and disease, I strove to follow Christ Jesus’ example in the spiritual way he viewed man.
Mary Baker Eddy, Founder of Christian Science and author of the book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, explains this view in stating: “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God’s own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick” (pp. 476–477).
To me, this illustrates the power of spiritual perception and the importance of seeing, or spiritually discerning, the Christlike individuality of everyone. By discerning the true nature of man, Jesus healed. He didn’t make diagnoses or human assessments of evil. He knew that the wholeness and goodness of infinite Mind is the only reality, and that spiritual understanding destroys the false projections, or illusions, of evil.
Putting these ideas into practice, I first aimed to see myself as spiritual and perfect. I stripped away all worldly notions of identity and asked: “What does God know about me? How does God see me?”
I next extended the same perception and compassion to my fellow man. What I found in doing so was that my entire perception of identity shifted. I saw, loved, and appreciated one’s spiritual essence. I glimpsed the way God knows us. God knows our true being, our true goodness. He doesn’t know anything about age, political views, religious denomination, financial status, nationality, or race.
Of course, this practice of seeing ourselves as we truly are spiritually, without human, material labels, takes moment-to-moment alertness. As I endeavored to stay awake to this, I noticed a profound change: perceiving spiritually became more natural and effortless.
I had an opportunity to practice seeing myself and others spiritually while spending time in a town where I found most people to be very different from me.
I had a particular opportunity to practice seeing myself and others spiritually while spending time in a town where I found most people to be very different from me ideologically, politically, and culturally. I was moved and grateful that I was able to experience so much good among the people I interacted with. I appreciated the humility, love, and care they expressed. And the spiritual perception I had gained allowed me to feel a oneness with everyone, instead of letting a difference in, say, political views cloud my feelings toward someone and divide us from the outset.
This was a tremendous lesson, especially when applied to the global context. The understanding of our oneness, instead of a material sense of dividedness, is what the world needs most, because this understanding is, essentially, the recognition and expression of divine Love. And our expression of divine Love is what brings peace.
Through this experience I learned that thinking about peace, wanting peace, and praying about peace are all important, but it is also vital to practice peace through what we discern spiritually. As we realize our oneness with God and His creation, we demonstrate peace in action in our daily lives.
Mrs. Eddy writes about the outcome of this oneness: “With one Father, even God, the whole family of man would be brethren; and with one Mind and that God, or good, the brotherhood of man would consist of Love and Truth, and have unity of Principle and spiritual power which constitute divine Science” (Science and Health, pp. 469–470).
Therefore peace will be seen more greatly manifested individually and collectively as we each continue to live daily—in prayer and action—what unites us: our spiritual identity as children of God, or “the whole family of man.”
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