Thursday, May 24, 2007

Q: Illusion and reality

First off, wanted to report that yesterday was phenomenal. The day just flowed. I completed projects, had several meetings, organized my life, and even worked out and watched some TV with the kids. Time was not an issue. Joy and expectancy of good made the day work. So just wanted to share that update.

This below came in as a comment on one of my older posts:

Dear Laura,

I am struggling to put this all together and would greatly appreciate your understanding in explaining some of this further. From what I have read, I am gathering that in Christian Science, denying the material world of reality will aid us in overcoming physical challenges and illness etc. In Christian Science, if matter and this material world is seen as an illusion, then may I ask, where this illusion originated from? And if it is an illusion, then how is it that we as people, see the illusion in the same way...meaning, how can I look at anything like a picture someone paints, and see the exact image they painted, if this material world is an illusion? I'm sure that doesn't make any sense :)

You have shared some very interesting testimonies. May I ask you why you were healed of an infection in your fingernail, by seeing God as the starting point and all perfect, but yet you still wear glasses?

I guess I am struggling with the idea that this world that we touch, smell, see and feel, is not real and is an illusion. Could not God create a spiritual realm and a physical?

Thanks for your explanation!

Pondering in Utah

I love questions like these!!! Hearing them asked always reveals to me that the person is getting some traction in their study of Christian Science. I don’t know anyone who’s explored Christian Science who doesn’t ask these questions, or some form of them. And amazingly, to dig deeply into Christian Science is to discover the answers. So, “Pondering,” you’re not alone, and you’re definitely making sense. I’ll give some thoughts, but I’m also rejoicing that in your journey you’ll discover the answers for yourself.

Where did this illusion come from?
I’m going to start with an illustration. You know how when scientifically advanced people meet up with more primitive cultures, and they do something like light a match? And the primitive people are amazed and think it’s magic? This to me captures somewhat the feeling of undiscovered reality that is actually already all around us.

The potential for invention, manufacturing and lighting a match is available to anyone; the primitives just didn’t know about it yet. So, was their needing to generate fire through rubbing twigs on stones an illusion? No, those were just the tools they knew about and maximized. However, once they acquired some matches, how fast do you think they would abandon the twigs/stones thing?

For me, figuring out the illusion isn’t really the point. It’s learning about the reality. Once you know about the reality, the past phases you went through just drop away. Once you truly understand universal Love, for example, how long do you think you’ll hold onto racism or sexism? The latter will drop away. At that point, do you really need to dwell on where racism or sexism came from? To my mind, no, you don’t. Once they’re gone, there’s no point to figuring them out further, unless it’s to help someone else out of them. But even then the more direct approach might be to teach them about universal Love.

So, I guess I don’t emphasize in my spiritual practice attempting to see through things that are very real to me at the moment. I love a sunny day, a brilliant smile, a warm hug. Instead, I strive to fill my thought with the reality that is beyond what I can see—Life, Truth, Love, Spirit. The more I know about the Divine, the more I experience the falling away of the grown-beyond.

It’s not cut and dried illusion versus reality. It’s where are we on the learning curve, and are we learning more each day? Bit by bit we’ll inculcate that which is real and the false will fade out.

So, in “Pondering”’s question about seeing the painting someone else painted, find the reality in that painting. What does it express? What goodness, light, color, creativity, glory is it showing to you? Rejoice that you can see these things with the painter, but also from your own perspective.

Check this out from Mary Baker Eddy (she did Q&A, too!):

Is it correct to say of material objects, that they are nothing and exist only in imagination?

Nothing and something are words which need correct definition. They either mean formations of indefinite and vague human opinions, or scientific classifications of the unreal and the real. My sense of the beauty of the universe is, that beauty typifies holiness, and is something to be desired. Earth is more spiritually beautiful to my gaze now than when it was more earthly to the eyes of Eve. The pleasant sensations of human belief, of form and color, must be spiritualized, until we gain the glorified sense of substance as in the new heaven and earth, the harmony of body and Mind.

Even the human conception of beauty, grandeur, and utility is something that defies a sneer. It is more than imagination. It is next to divine beauty and the grandeur of Spirit. It lives with our earth-life, and is the subjective state of high thoughts. The atmosphere of mortal mind constitutes our mortal environment. What mortals hear, see, feel, taste, smell, constitutes their present earth and heaven: but we must grow out of even this pleasing thraldom, and find wings to reach the glory of supersensible Life; then we shall soar above, as the bird in the clear ether of the blue temporal sky.

To take all earth's beauty into one gulp of vacuity and label beauty nothing, is ignorantly to caricature God's creation, which is unjust to human sense and to the divine realism. In our immature sense of spiritual things, let us say of the beauties of the sensuous universe: "I love your promise; and shall know, some time, the spiritual reality and substance of form, light, and color, of what I now through you discern dimly; and knowing this, I shall be satisfied. Matter is a frail conception of mortal mind; and mortal mind is a poorer representative of the beauty, grandeur, and glory of the immortal Mind." Mis 86:9-14 np

I’ll talk more tomorrow about how we can selectively explore specific elements of spiritual reality in order to zero in on outgrowing circumstances we no longer want to experience—i.e., healing.

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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At 5/24/2007 02:00:00 PM, Anonymous Emily said...

I always refer to the movie "The Matrix" as a means of explaining the difference between reality and mortal mind. Mortal mind is like the Matrix: As long as you're plugged into it, you're subject to its slings and arrows. Unplug from it, and all its claims and illusions vanish into their "native nothingness," as Mrs. Eddy puts it.

At 5/25/2007 06:52:00 AM, Blogger John said...

An analogy that I find helpful is that of the principle of mathematics. The principle, when applied, always brings the right answer, and proves that the principle is true. Children learning math at the beginning frequently make mistakes, and come up with wrong answers. Their experience may be problematic, but the principle that governs mathematics is perfect and harmonious.

On our own, we often come up with the wrong answers to life's problems, but Christian Science says that God, the Principle is perfect and harmonious. As we gain a better understanding of God, the problems of our lives are corrected. God doesn't know about our problems and doesn't need to, just as the principle of mathematics doesn't have to know about a 3rd graders mistakes in order to correct them.

In Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy says,

Who would stand before a blackboard, and pray the principle of mathematics to solve the problem? The rule is already established, and it is our task to work out the solution. Shall we ask the divine Principle of all goodness to do His own work? His work is done, and we have only to avail ourselves of Gods rule in order to receive His blessing, which enables us to work out our own salvation. (S&H 3:5-11)


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