This article is a continuation of yesterday’s entry.
“I appreciate the lengthy explanation. What comes to mind is that material reality is like a shadow of the spiritual reality: it doesn’t exist independently and is the negative of the object from which it is cast. Mortal mind is the shadow of Divine Mind and hence it perceives shadows as real since it’s very nature is error. I still don’t quite get how this is practically demonstrated in healing. Is it simply by coming to this understanding that God is the true reality and matter is error that healing occurs? How does one focus upon something that is entirely intangible to the senses (life, love, truth, consciousness, etc.)? Is it only by negating the error? In other words, cutting away what is not Truth?”
Answer: Thank you. Since what I wrote sounded consistent I also anonymously republished your question and that answer on my blog. As a matter of fact, Mrs. Eddy described the presentation of matter as shadow in her pamphlet of 1870 called “Science of man”, which ended up being the basis for the current chapter in Science and Health called “Recapitulation.” I’ve never read it myself directly, I only have read about it in articles. I like the shadow explanation because it opens for me a couple of other perspectives.
Consider for instance the material analogy of the shadow cast by the sun shining on a tree. Let us describe it first from the perspective of physics and then discuss what that indicates metaphysically. The shadow cast on the ground is created by the lessening of the intensity of light cast by the sun behind the area blocked by the tree. The shadowy area behind the tree is where the light of the sun is not seen, although the tree cannot cause total darkness in the shadow. This is because physically, in the presence of air, light still reflects off of particles in the air and finds its way into the shadowy area in reduced intensity, making it slightly illuminated bit recognizable as a shadow. The shadow casts a shape which indicates the shape and size of the tree and perhaps even its type under some circumstances. But we know of course that the shadow is not the tree, but an optically negative representation of the tree. If we were to mistake the shadow for the tree, we would be missing the most beautiful and defining characteristics of that tree. For instance the shadow cannot tell you the colors of the various leaves, the texture of the bark, nor can it indicate the height of the tree unless one also knows the angle of the sun when the shadow is formed. It is also interesting to note that as the sun first appears on the horizon, the shadow is long and exaggerated in length. But as the sun rises the shadow becomes increasingly shorter until it disappears entirely when the sun is directly overhead, at high noon. Of course this condition is impossible to perfectly exemplify, but this is an analogy which approximately illustrates some spiritual concepts very well.
Metaphysically, matter is in this sense the shadow of Spirit. The human mind looks down at the ground at shadow, at material presentations, and looks rarely up at the trees, to Spirit, to the very source of those shadows. Material presentations, like shadows, are defined by their very negativity. Just as the shadow is defined by its lack of light, so matter is defined by a lack of a sense of the presence of Spirit. When the light of truth in only on the horizon of our thought, matter seems more substantial and presents an enlarged and imposing form much like the elongated shadow. But as spiritual understanding increases, the morning of understanding grows into noon and the shadows diminish in size. As that noon approaches, we continue to watch the shadow as it becomes shorter and shorter, until the gaze finally rests upon the tree itself as the shadow slowly disappears. Spiritual manhood is the noon of being. Mrs. Eddy says on page 246 of Science and Health: “The radiant sun of virtue and truth coexists with being. Manhood is its eternal noon, undimmed by a declining sun. As the physical and mate‐
rial, the transient sense of beauty fades, the radiance of Spirit should dawn upon the enraptured sense with bright and imperishable glories.”
As to how this applies to healing: Our being IS consciousness. Christian Science reveals that Consciousness is infinite and unified in nature – that God is All-in-all and is self-expressed as man. Real divine consciousness, the spiritual man’s consciousness, is God’s own awareness of Himself. Therefore mortal consciousness is only nothing’s awareness of its supposed entity, the negation of Spirit. Mortal consciousness is the awareness of a world of shadows from which the nature of Spirit is completely mentally separated. It is the lack of light in the shadow. The only awareness that exists with validity is the awareness of God, divine Mind. The human senses are not the awareness of God. They are the sensors of the material realm, the mental shadow world, and are the sensors of belief.
Healing is not a change in condition. What appear to us as external conditions are not at all external to us. They are internal and false mental conditions. Everything comes to us as consciousness, including and especially what we call our human conditions, be they bodily or of any other nature. Being is consciousness, and nothing is external, nothing can be external to us, for God is All-in-all, and we are His infinite manifestation — infinite manifestation. That all-inclusiveness excludes anything external to, opposite in nature to God. Because our being is consciousness, The only conditions which exist, perfection and eternality, are the only valid conditions which real consciousness can entertain, for consciousness is God’s own self awareness. God cannot be aware of a nature opposite to His infinite selfhood. Therefore, the apparent presence in consciousness of a nature opposite to God’s nature is invalid supposition, the negative shadow realm, which correctly interpreted continues to reveal God, but in an inverted presentation. Healing is the result of a change in consciousness. Conscious bodily condition is the product of the quality if consciousness entertained. As the false mortal aspects of consciousness are dismissed through this recognition of the inverted nature of the conscious material presentation, the quality of the presentation, material body, improves. To the senses this appears to be a physical change, only because the senses are unaware of the action of thought. Those uninstructed in Christian Science may thus regard such healing as miraculous, or they may dismiss it as invalid because it does not correspond with their admitted and preferred but erroneous perception of reality as material and external to them.
You touched on the answer very well. Effective mental spiritual healing in Christian Science negates the erroneous material presentation by understanding that the presentation which comes to the material senses is always opposite in nature to God’s spiritual reality, and that this material picture resides in a supposed and therefore invalid mental realm which is excluded by the infinite nature of the realm of Spirit. And because being is consciousness, conscious bodily condition and/or condition of environment is elevated in proportion that consciousness is elevated through purification of thought.
Again, I hope that did more clearing than muddying. Thank you for the opportunity to think this out once more.