What is real?

Divine good—God, Love—is the Principle of the universe and the sole cause and creator of all reality.

I recently read an interesting article that discussed the possibility that this whole universe may be nothing but a simulation. Other thinkers have suggested similar theories, and it can be intriguing to try to follow their logic and figure out what they’re talking about.

That article and others like it came to mind when I reread a statement by Mary Baker Eddy in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She wrote: “Human mind produces what is termed organic disease as certainly as it produces hysteria, and it must relinquish all its errors, sicknesses, and sins. I have demonstrated this beyond all cavil. The evidence of divine Mind’s healing power and absolute control is to me as certain as the evidence of my own existence” (p. 177 ).

Those articles about the nature of the universe and this statement by Mrs. Eddy wrestle directly and indirectly with cause and effect. What is really real? What can I be sure of?

These are sometimes fun questions to consider when we’re in a reflective mood. But they can seem to be very scary questions when we’re confronting illness, poverty, or any other serious discord. We want—actually, we need—something sure we can stand on, some way to tell the true or real from the false.

Sadly, many people believe that whatever situation is in front of them must be the truth. After all, if I see it, it’s real, right? But like those scientific articles questioning the existence of an objective material universe, Mrs. Eddy’s statement (and certainly her life’s work and her other writings) pushes us beyond the immediately apparent and encourages us to consider our role in seeing and experiencing harmony. However, instead of leaving the questions of cause and reality in mystery (as those articles do), Mrs. Eddy realized, and shared with the world through her discovery of the Science of Jesus’ Christianity, that divine good—God, Love—is the Principle of the universe and the sole cause and creator of all reality.

The sense of mystery, then, is only proportional to one’s individual perception of things, and the insistence on the legitimacy (or not) of disharmony. Again, “Human mind . . . must relinquish all its errors, sicknesses, and sins.” This isn’t a personal attack or condemnation; it’s a reminder of this statement from the Bible’s Epistle to the Ephesians: “Put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and . . . put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (4:22–24 ).

I realized there was no trace of discomfort or annoyance at all.

Recently, I woke up with a very sore throat. I was uncomfortable, to say the least! I was also annoyed at the thought that this sore throat might signal the onset of a more challenging illness, and I just didn’t want to go through that. Now as a student of Christian Science, I am accustomed to praying about discordant issues in my life, including health problems, so I felt prepared to handle whatever should arise. But I was still in pain and didn’t really want to have to deal with this at all.

My study of Christian Science has led me to the reasonable understanding that matter cannot, in fact, convey sensation—that it is either the divine Mind, God, or one’s personal sense of mind, a supposed human mind, that conveys information and sensation. Even in the midst of pain, this made sense to me, and I was soon quite willing to admit that this issue was not strictly physical, but was a presentation of thought. This was an interesting and, I thought, inspired exercise, but it hadn’t yet provided any tangible benefit. I was still in pain and annoyed.

Something else I’ve learned through my study and practice of Christian Science is never to just leave a good idea with my own thinking. I should always take time to really pray—to acknowledge the presence of God and listen to Him, letting my thinking be transformed by His love. I find this easier to do when I treat God as my best friend, so, as we do with dear friends, I just laid it out: “God, I’m delighted to admit that this pain is entirely a mental rather than a physical experience, but I still really hurt and am pretty annoyed. What do I do now?” 

When I pray, I don’t always feel an answer or a transformation right away (although it always comes), but this day, I immediately felt a response: “Good! Mind is here. Give it all up to Mind.” Oh, now I saw! Not only did I need to  admit that this painful sensation was mental, but I also needed to give up any claim to a personal sense of a mind that could own or communicate pain in the first place. If this was really all mental, why would I try to personally deal with something within my own sense of things? Why not let the perfect, true Mind—the existence and wisdom of God, good itself—just wrap me up and give me my information?

Well, I was delighted with this clear direction, so I “gave it up to Mind” by turning my thought and attention steadfastly to reflecting on the nature of divine Mind. I felt gratitude for inspiration, for Mind’s infinitude expressed around me in beautiful scenery and productive activities, and for joy that Mind was watching over me, guarding me and all those around me. By the time I was back inside (I had gone out to get the mail), I realized there was no trace of discomfort or annoyance at all.

Had thinking about pleasant things made a bad thing go away? In other words, had I defeated a bad reality with a good reality? No. That may be one approach—trying to manifest and maintain good health through human effort. But the approach of applying scientific Christianity is distinctly God-oriented and rests entirely on yielding to God, on giving up any personal insistence on the reality of inharmony, and on being willing to “put on the new man”—to be transformed by the divine sense of things.

Had the pain been my fault? No. Admitting, with Mrs. Eddy, that the human mind produces organic disease is not an admission of personal guilt; it’s a reminder of the practicality, the livability, and the permanence of our God-given dominion over what seems to be our own thinking. 

In Genesis, God is described as giving us dominion over all the earth. I’ve started to look at that word dominion as the ability to exercise restraint. The fact that pain and fear sometimes come to thought doesn’t mean that I have to let those sensations run loose, defining my day for me. I can instead restrain myself from ruminating on those painful reports and accepting them at face value, and consciously yield to God as the only governor of my life. The “evidence of divine Mind’s healing power and absolute control” is what is real, and all of us are included in that reality.

Not one of us is outside the absolute control of infinite Mind. To consistently experience the benefits of Mind’s government, it’s good to consistently practice this yielding to Mind instead of casually accepting that what the material senses perceive is the reality. But no matter what, because of the uniquely good and perfect nature of God, we are always able to experience and feel His saving, loving care.

We may not yet understand everything about reality, but it’s good to know that the divine Mind encompasses, includes, and defines all reality, and that Mind is our ever-present refuge and help. This divine Mind knows us fully, loves us as precious children, and is always here to answer our call.

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Reversing what the senses tell us
July 26, 2021
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