Mormon Parenting: Coming to know what is real

Published: Friday, March 22 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

Editor’s note: This is the second of two articles on what matters and what is real.

We recently read an outstanding book called “The Art of Hearing Heartbeats” that made us think about levels of reality.

In the story, a boy in Burma goes blind and learns to navigate the world with acute hearing and other senses. When a cataract operation restores his sight, it is a mixed blessing — he feels that sight reveals the “shiny surface” of things and often hides or distracts us from their deeper realities.

How many of us see beneath the surface of our lives and of the world?

We live in a temporal, sensory place where we say things like “seeing is believing,” and label things like faith, impressions and spiritual nudges as superstitious or mystical. In this kind of world, scientific explanations are seen as more solid and real than faith- based explanations.

Yet it has only been this way for a tiny fraction of history. If we go back just 200 or 300 hundred years, and if we go back thousands of years from there, the accepted explanations for things were virtually all spiritual. Things happened in earlier paradigms, people believed, because "the gods made them happen."

We are not suggesting that we return to those times — when it was believed that volcanoes erupted to punish people — but we need to understand that getting rid of suspicion and magic does not negate spiritual answers or the deep reality of spiritual things.

There are many ways of knowing things and of learning things. Our senses provide us with one way, and science provides us with another. But are these our most reliable ways of knowing? And do they supersede other less-worldly ways?

Our senses are highly prone to inaccuracy and deception. How many times have you heard or said phrases like, “I thought I saw something,” or, “I must be hearing things.”

And it often seems that nothing is more prone to error or false starts than science.

Think how often we change our minds on what is good for our bodies or on what causes astronomical or physiological phenomena.

The simple fact is that there is a third way of knowing, and instead of being based on physical senses or observable data, it is based on spiritual feelings.

If you asked me (Richard) which I am the most sure of, Einstein’s theory of relativity or my love for Linda, I would choose the latter, although I probably couldn’t think of a way to scientifically prove it to you.

We all know that certain things are right — more surely than we know that certain things are red or melodious or pungent.

As it has been said, we are not physical beings that occasionally have a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a physical experience.

The real, lasting part is the spiritual. The less lasting, less trustworthy part is the physical.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, sayeth the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8).

“ … not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:13).

Richard and Linda Eyre are New York Times best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Visit them anytime at www.EyresFreeBooks.com or www.valuesparenting.com. Their latest Deseret e-book is “On the Homefront."

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