Mankind thinks of itself as sometimes awake, sometimes asleep, according to human evidence. Accepting the theory that life begins with mortal consciousness and ends with mortal unconsciousness, called death, it is unaware that the whole of human experience is a dream from which there must one day be an awakening, with the coming not of death, but of life.
"Our friend Lazarus sleepeth," Jesus said to his disciples, "but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep." Had Christ Jesus accepted the world's estimate of death, he would not have been able to break its mesmerism for others, or finally for himself. Within the sleep of mortality, awakening does not take place; it must be sought where there is no divided authority, where eternal Life is understood to be the only Life. Men begin to awaken when they learn that Life is not mortal but immortal; that however seemingly logical, consecutive, and persuasive human existence may appear, its every phase partakes of a dream, climaxing in what is termed death.
The purpose of Jesus in going to Bethany to call forth his friend from the grave, was not to inaugurate another period of human living, but to awaken Lazarus and others from the sleep of mortal existence, of which death was the inevitable consequent. The sleep might call itself disease or sin, loss or death, but it was traceable to the same source, submissive to the same pattern, obedient to the same rules.
Christ Jesus did not go to Bethany merely to restore a mortal to a dream of mortality which he had just left. He went that he might awaken him out of sleep by revealing the law of immortality. When the Christ reaches mortal man, wherever he may be, on a sickbed, in a prison cell, in the tomb, there is an awakening from the sleep of materiality, the mesmeric claim is broken, and reality begins to appear.
On page 250 of "Science and Health with Key to theScriptures," Mary Baker Eddy writes, "Mortal existence is a dream; mortal existence has no real entity, but saith 'It is I.'" So wholly had Lazarus and Mary and Martha identified themselves with this self–styled "I," without authority, without origin, without creator or creation, that only the presence of one who knew the Christ to be "the resurrection, and the life" could have broken it and awakened the sleeper.
But what of us today? Are we still saying of sick and dying beliefs, of unhappiness and loss, of bitterness and persecution, "It is I"? If so, then we have failed to realize that the Christ is here to awaken us out of sleep.
Sometimes the individual believes that with the passing of one ugly dream and the appearance of a happy one, the desideratum has been accomplished. But awakening out of sleep means nothing less than the awakening to spiritual being, which has never slept. On page 21 of "Retrospection and Introspection" our Leader writes, "The awakening from a false sense of life, substance, and mind in matter, is as yet imperfect; but for those lucid and enduring lessons of Love which tend to this result, I bless God." How significant are those two words for us to ponder, "lucid" and "enduring." Muffled and indistinct, temporary and disconnected, to those asleep in the satisfaction or misery of matter, is the call to our awakening. But unless we hear and heed the call of that "Come forth" of the Christ, unless we fully perceive that the shadow of the tomb must be abandoned, that the acceptance of and indulgence in any form of materiality mean prolonging the dream of mortal existence, we continue, as did the disciples in Gethsemane, to sleep on.
"I shall be satisfied," declared the Psalmist, "when I awake, with thy likeness." There can be no other satisfaction. For this satisfaction there is no substitute, even as there is none for the Christ–awakening. So long as mortal man accepts as inevitable the mortal dream, believing he is one with it, affected by its pleasures and pains, so long will the sleep last and the real meaning of satisfaction be indefinitely postponed.
Because the Master refused to say, "It is I," to every form of mortality; because he knew himself to be awake and in God's likeness, even while other men slept, wherever he went the spell was broken for those who were responsive to God's Word. He knew that the Mind of man—the only Mind, the only I—does not sleep.
The call of the Christ is to each one to come forth now, to acknowledge now his immortal birthright, to begin to free himself now from the entanglements of selfishness, of cowardice, of material, personal sense; to enter now upon what he is called to be and do.
Would we come forth from the mesmerism of death, of loss and separation? Would we understand what this awakening is which Christ Jesus brought to humanity? Then we can learn it from Mrs. Eddy's words on page 230 of Science and Health. She writes: "This awakening is the forever coming of Christ, the advanced appearing of Truth, which casts out error and heals the sick. This is the salvation which comes through God, the divine Principle, Love, as demonstrated by Jesus."
Evelyn F. Heywood