The Mirage versus Knowledge

A man and his wife, accompanied by a boatman guide, or gillie, as he is called in the Highlands of Scotland, had been spending a day at a loch situated in the hills some five or six miles from a road. As the loch could be reached only by crossing a heather-covered moor over which there was no path, the little party was therefore entirely dependent on the gillie's knowledge of the surrounding country.

As they started to come home in the evening, the attention of one of them was suddenly arrested by the sight of a fine range of hills which had not been visible when they arrived at the loch some hours earlier. She immediately called the gillie's attention to the hills, asking in which county they lay and expressing surprise that they had not been seen in the morning. After looking steadily at them for a minute or two, the gillie said, "They are not there." Consternation seized this member of the party, as she felt that if the gillie was unable to see the hills, which were obviously near and on which she could distinctly discern clefts, watercourses, and other distinctive features, he could not possibly find his way over the pathless moor to the road. She repeated, "But you must see them; they are quite near." His answer was, "I see them, too, but if they were really there I should not know my way home—but they are not there." The other member of the party said to him, "You mean it is a mirage." He replied, "That may be the name, but they are not there." With that he proceeded to walk across the pathless moor. One member of the party, having seen a desert mirage, contentedly followed the gillie, but the other member was disturbed. Only when they had reached the road which would quickly take them back to their hotel did she realize the truth of the gillie's statement, "They are not there."

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On page 14 of her Message to The Mother Church for 1901 Mrs. Eddy has said, "We regard evil as a lie, an illusion, therefore as unreal as a mirage that misleads the traveller on his way home." And in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 300) she has told us that "the mirage, which makes trees and cities seem to be where they are not, illustrates the illusion of material man, who cannot be the image of God."

Mortal man seems a long way from home. He too appears to see a trackless region over which he must pass; and the illusion of sin, sickness, and death rises before him as real and substantial. Is he to believe the evidence of the physical senses? In the story just told, had the gillie trusted to the false evidence of the material senses the little party would have been lost; but he resolutely refused to accept the illusion, because he knew the country and his direction.

So, when the illusion of evil suddenly confronts us, we can look at it fearlessly and refuse to believe in its reality, because we know that God is All and ever present. Jesus told his followers that faith will remove mountains. From the great depths of his spiritual understanding he could say to the man with the withered hand, "Stretch forth thine hand." Had material sense ever before seen a withered hand stretched out and instantaneously become normal? No; and spiritual sense can never behold a withered hand. The Master knew that in God's creation, disease did not in reality exist. He knew that evil has no cause and is therefore unreal; and to him the removal of the illusion, which seemed to take the form of a withered hand, presented no difficulty.

Sin, disease, and death in their various forms seem to rise up before us as solid realities, and it often requires much faith in and understanding of divine Love and much courage to look at them and say confidently, "They are not there."

In the incident related above it would have been useless for the gillie to have entered into a long discussion about the mirage. To him the hills had no place, no substance. In the same way those who are striving to see the unreality of evil need to acknowledge that it has no place or substance, and no support from spiritual law.

We need no longer ask where evil comes from, since we know that God, good, fills all space, and there is therefore no place in which evil, the opposite of good, can exist. The illusion of evil must disappear before spiritual clearsightedness, the spiritual vision which was so marked in the prophets of old. Our beloved Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, has given us the following definition of "prophet" (Science and Health, p. 593): "A spiritual seer; disappearance of material sense before the conscious facts of spiritual Truth."

The Heart of Prayer
July 2, 1932

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