If you dream you’re being chased by a giant Kodiak bear and then suddenly awaken, what happens to that 1,500-pound bear? It disappears, of course. No matter how real and frightening it seems while you’re dreaming, it’s just an illusion that dissolves the instant you wake up.
The Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, draws a parallel between sleeping dreams and another kind of dream. In Rudimental Divine Science, she writes, “In a moment you may awake from a night-dream; just so you can awake from the dream of sickness;…” (p. 11).
When we believe what the material senses suggest, we are dwelling in a dream.
It may seem unusual to identify sickness as a dream, but Eddy goes on to explain that God is ever-present good, which means that sickness cannot be part of God’s creation. Sickness is a mental suggestion based on what the physical senses observe. God, who is Spirit, could not, and did not, create matter, and the physical senses cannot be trusted to give us reliable information about God and His spiritual creation.
Christ Jesus’ many healings demonstrated his understanding that the man of God’s creating is not as we appear to human eyes. For example, when Jesus was confronted with the evidence that a man’s hand was withered, he saw beyond what the material senses were presenting, to the spiritual truth that man, as the image and likeness of God, is actually always whole and perfect. Jesus’ understanding of the man’s true being overruled the untrue appearance of deformity, and the man was healed immediately (see Mark 3:1–5).
When we believe what the material senses suggest, that there is life and intelligence in matter, we are dwelling in a dream. But as we begin to understand that life is in and of Spirit, not matter, we awake to our real selfhood as spiritual and expressing only the goodness of our Maker. This awakening is a holy and empowering experience that enables us to see the fictional nature of sickness.
A number of years ago, when I was in graduate school doing a college teaching internship, I felt pressured to participate in a university activity that I didn’t feel right about. I didn’t believe participation was necessary in my role as an intern, so I chose not to go. That evening, however, while the event was going on, I began to feel quite ill with nausea, chills, and fever.
As I prayed, I thought about my motives for not attending the event and felt assured I had made the right decision. But I had a lurking fear of what my superiors might think or do because of my nonparticipation. Realizing I was being pushed around by derogatory thinking that wasn’t coming from God, I laughed out loud.
Immediately the self-condemnation and fear lifted, and the flu-like symptoms vanished. The illness that had felt so real was just a mirage caused by fearful thinking. I felt perfectly well, and the next day there was no mention of my absence from the activity by anyone.
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy says: “The dream that matter and error are something must yield to reason and revelation. Then mortals will behold the nothingness of sickness and sin, and sin and sickness will disappear from consciousness. The harmonious will appear real, and the inharmonious unreal” (p. 347).
A hymn by R. M. Turner addresses this change of thought concisely:
O dreamer, leave thy dreams for joyful waking,
O captive, rise and sing, for thou art free;
The Christ is here, all dreams of error breaking,
Unloosing bonds of all captivity.
(Christian Science Hymnal, No. 202, © CSBD)
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