Don’t be fooled by matter’s illusion

On the route I used to take to work every day, building and landscaping projects were frequent, so it was not unusual to see construction vehicles along the way, a lane blocked, or sometimes even a road closure. On one occasion, after making a turn, I could see traffic cones up ahead that appeared to be blocking the way. My first reaction was an exasperated “What now?” 

But as I got closer, I could clearly see that the road was not blocked at all, and what had at first seemed like traffic cones turned out to be a blooming bougainvillea bush that ran along a fence where the road curved. I was certainly relieved to realize my mistake, and it even made me laugh. You might say I had become conditioned through experience to see what I believed, but the truth turned out to be much different.

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As a student of Christian Science, I appreciated this reminder to watch my thinking and not be fooled by what the material senses have conditioned us to believe is the reality. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science and author of its textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, writes, “We learn in Christian Science that all inharmony of mortal mind or body is illusion, possessing neither reality nor identity though seeming to be real and identical” (Science and Health, pp. 472–473).

From the Bible, in the first chapter of Genesis, we find that God created man and woman spiritually, in His likeness, perfect and complete. In the second chapter we are presented with an opposite account of man created from the dust of the ground, followed by woman created from the rib of man. This second account of creation points to the lie, or illusive claim, that man is material. 

In our daily lives we are barraged by false evidence from the material senses tempting us to believe that man is a frail mortal plagued by problems of all sorts. Yet Christ Jesus showed man’s true nature as spiritual, upright, free, and whole by healing the sick, raising the dead, and casting out sin. In the Bible there are many accounts of Jesus healing in direct opposition to what the material senses were claiming to be factual. 

In the case of a man blind from birth (see John 9:1–7), the blindness was accepted as real not only by the man and his parents, but even by Jesus’ disciples, who asked the Master, “Who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus’ answer immediately refuted what others believed to be fact: “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” Then, after Jesus anointed the man’s eyes with clay made from dust and spittle, and instructed him to wash in the pool of Siloam, “he went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.”

Science and Health says, “Jesus acted boldly, against the accredited evidence of the senses, against Pharisaical creeds and practices, and he refuted all opponents with his healing power” (p. 18). Jesus had not been fooled by matter’s illusion. He knew that man’s true likeness is the perfect reflection of God. 

Christ Jesus showed man’s true nature as spiritual, upright, free, and whole.

Years ago I had an experience that illustrates how we, too, can heal by seeing through matter’s illusion. I had come down with all the symptoms of the flu and had to take time off work. Initially I figured this would quickly pass and I’d be back to work in a day or two. But as the days went by, those symptoms expanded to include tight and painful joints whenever I stood up, walked around, or sat down. I also felt an unusual reluctance to pray about this condition, as I would usually do in practicing Christian Science. On hindsight I can see I was indulging in self-pity. 

One day, while making my way to the kitchen after a great struggle to rise, I found myself barely able to move. Leaning against a wall, I began to laugh at how ridiculous this had become. I asked myself, “What am I doing?” This broke that reluctance to pray, and I began to contemplate what I had learned in Christian Science. I knew that God was my true Father-Mother, my creator, and that in reality I reflected God’s purity and wholeness. I read the weekly Bible Lesson from the Christian Science Quarterly, which includes passages from the Bible and Science and Health. 

As my thought turned from the material condition to the perfection of my spiritual identity, I was led to give prayerful thought to another situation that had been worrying me. A relationship issue needed to be resolved, but it seemed to be out of my control. In Science and Health we read: “It is error to suffer for aught but your own sins. Christ, or Truth, will destroy all other supposed suffering, and real suffering for your own sins will cease in proportion as the sin ceases” (p. 391).

As I considered that passage, I could see that any “supposed suffering” was a lie that the Christ, Truth, destroys. With that insight, the physical symptoms began to abate. Within a couple of days the healing was complete, and I was back to work the next week. But physical healing was not the primary result. With the change in my thinking, I came to trust God to resolve the troubled relationship. Soon that situation was amicably resolved without my personal intervention.

When I turned away from the false picture the physical senses presented of man as a sick and troubled mortal, and looked instead to the spiritual sense of man as the perfect, harmonious reflection of God, I could see through matter’s mesmeric illusion, and this improved view resulted in healing.

A hymn by B. S. Ingemann (Christian Science Hymnal, No. 15) poetically captures such a moment of Christ-healing:

As gold by fire is tested,
   Its purity shown forth,
So cleansing fires of Truth may prove
   To man his native worth.

And as a mirror shows us
   A likeness clear and bright,
So God forever sees His child
   Revealed in radiant light.

’Twas thus the loving Master
   Saw man’s perfection shine,
Beheld God’s child forever pure
   In radiance all divine.

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