The human consciousness, in spiritual terms, is where the spiritual world seems to commingle with the material world. Those familiar with spiritual healing are well acquainted with the idea that the spiritual, eternal, infinite is the real and enduring part of human consciousness, while the material and carnal things are actually the false pretenders in human consciousness. Experience is human consciousness, and hence what human beings believe about themselves is reflected in their life experience. The relationship of hypnotically induced behavior, a phenomenon of the carnal and material side of consciousness, with everyday human life is worthy of examination. Which is closer to spiritual reality, the hypnotic suggestion or the harmonious human life? One of them is a pretender and a liar, and the other is true. On stage, hypnotists and illusionists are known for their ability to mesmerize a volunteer into believing something untrue about himself or about his situation, usually for the entertainment of a crowd.
One such story involved a hypnotic stage act in the late 19th century. An audience participant attending such a show had been made to believe by a renowned hypnotist that he was sitting on a hot cooking stove. Squirming in discomfort, to the delight of the audience, the man became increasingly uncomfortable as the suggestions became more severe, and finally he began to scream in pain. The hypnotist then brought the man out of his mental state of illusion and brought him relief from his imaginary torture with a snap of the fingers. But when the man went home after the show, he found that he had actually acquired large red burns on his buttocks as a result of the part he had played in the show. What actually happened? Hypnotists will tell you that the experiences felt under a hypnotic spell feel every bit as real as normal conscious reality does. As a result of such trickery, subjects of hypnosis believe themselves to have been effected by the experience, and their body responds accordingly. In this case, the subject believed that he was burned to the point of actually having the evidence appear on his skin.
This psychological phenomenon has been and is still often used by many mental health professionals as a means of changing human behavior. One modern example is the use of hypnotism as a means of overcoming unwanted addictions ( nicotine, alcohol, dangerous drugs, etc.) In the late 18th and into the 19th century and beyond, mental hypnotic treatment was commonly and respectfully used as a means for alleviating the effects of all kinds of disease. It was even given some credibility by the medical community for a time. Such human-mind mental therapy was at that time sometimes referred to as animal magnetism, or mesmerism, as it was a form of hypnotic treatment first introduced by Mesmer, an alternative behavioral researcher in Austria in the late 18th century. Mesmer actually accumulated a small fortune from his bizarre treatment methods before the fad fell out of popular acceptance due to condemnation by the medical community. So, is hypnotism good or is it evil? Is it good for health, or unhealthy in the longer run?
One can conclude from the above anecdote that the nature of our material human sense and its relationship to conscious reality itself can be in question. In human sense we create our own reality as a product of our thoughts. That being said, the unprepared human mind is liable to experience any number of hypnotically induced suggestions. Hypnotizing influences are sometimes intentional, sometimes accidental or unintended. Through hypnotic suggestion we are effected physically by what we fear and believe – and more deeply than most of us imagine. Hallucinations and dreams are common examples of such a phenomenon. In every-day life, human conditions can actually sometimes be seen as the direct result of human belief or human belief systems. Subliminal advertising takes advantage of human weakness to secretive hypnotism by secretly and subtly suggesting certain desires. Every day, we unwittingly allow ourselves to be the unknowing subjects of many other kinds of involuntary mental suggestions.
Carefully read, The Bible gives us hints of these subtleties and how we can handle subtle suggestions – and it hints at how to find our way back to reality. The serpent appears in the second chapter of Genesis, the record of divine creation from the human mind’s perspective, as the universal symbol of subtlety. It was the metaphorical serpent who first tempted Eve to “eat of the the tree of good and evil”. The already perfect spiritual man became supposedly mortal by believing the deceptive lie of the serpent, who convinced them that they would be better off if they knew both good and evil. The serpent from that point on in the metaphor became the symbol of deception, lies, error, devil, evil, etc. Thousands of years later, Jesus said of the devil that he was “a liar and the father of it”, meaning by that, that Satan’s claim to exist is his most outrageous lie. If we fall for that one, we leave ourselves even more vulnerable to all types of deception. The serpent is the symbol of its representation.
In Genesis 49, Jacob (who had become “Israel” after a mighty internal struggle to find his spiritual identity) addressed each of his 12 sons on his death-bed, at which time each son was assigned the responsibility of becoming the leader of one of the 12 tribes of Israel. Jacob reviewed the strengths and weaknesses of each of his sons in the process of making his tribal leadership assignments.
In Mary Baker Eddy’s scripture-enlightening textbook, Science and Health with Key to The Scriptures, is found some background about Jacob, his sons, and the 49th chapter of Genesis: “He was no longer called Jacob, but Israel,– a prince of God, or a soldier of God, who had fought a good fight. He was to become the father of those, who through earnest striving followed his demonstration of the power of Spirit over the material senses; and the children of earth who followed his example were to be called the Children of Israel, until the Messiah should rename them.” (page 309:7)
Dan was known to have displayed personal characteristics of deceptive evil. But Jacob held the highest hopes for Dan and in spite of his shortcomings, like many more of his other sons, made him a ruler of one of the tribes of the Children of Israel. Jacob said of him “Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. (But) Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.” And in higher hopes Jacob added ” I have waited for they salvation, O Lord.” (Gen. 49:16-18)M
Mary Baker Eddy defines Dan in spiritual terms as “Animal magnetism; so-called mortal mind controlling mortal mind; error, working out the designs of error; one belief preying upon another.” (Science and Health page 563:26)
What did Jacob mean by this horse and serpent metaphor? The author’s understanding is this: Hypnotic and subtle belief (Dan, Jacob’s son) is like a serpent hiding in the grass. A horse comes along, carrying the rider. Imagine the rider to be you, and the horse to be your life. You are just riding along in your life minding your own business. The horse could represent your life, or it could represent whatever situation you happen to find yourself in. The serpent represents subtle evil beliefs. Those evil beliefs are masquerading as good, and they seek to convince you to carry out some evil by convincing you that the evil is a good thing. The serpent assumes it has the power to do evil, and you even unwittingly grant it that power by ignorantly walking your horse through the tall grass.
Suddenly the serpent bites the heel of the horse. The horse, being startled, rises on its hind legs and tries to buck you off. In other words, some subtle evil suggestion comes along and bites your experience – something bad and devastating has come into your life. What would be your first reaction when the horse begins to buck you?
Most of us would curse the horse. “What’s the matter with this horse? ” In other words, “What’s the matter with my life? What is the cause of my whole world suddenly trying to pitch me and turn everything upside down?” We blame life, or in the metaphor, the horse, for bucking us. We may say that life is just sometimes out of control, and that there is nothing we can do but hold on and wait for it to calm down, or try to soothe it. But what really caused the horse to try to throw you? Was it the horse’s fault?
A hidden serpent bit the heel of the horse. In other words, subtle evil invaded your life, and you missed it. You had no idea what happened, so you falsely blamed the horse, your life. The serpent was hiding in the tall grass that you knowingly walked your horse through. The tall grass represents all of the distracting human activity you have going on in your human life. You could prevent your life from being in turmoil, prevent the serpent from biting the heel of your horse, and thus prevent it from bucking you, by mowing the grass before you ride – clearing all of the hiding places (disturbing un-Godlike human activity) in your human life consciousness for evil to secretly hide. When the grass is mowed, the serpent has no place to hide. Spiritual purification, spiritual baptism, is like mowing the grass. Using a New Testament metaphor, you must remove the tares from the wheat, and dispose of the tares.
So, let’s say you know about serpents, and have mowed the grass now. You have protected yourself against the serpent’s attack, but what power does the serpent really have in the first place? The subtle suggestions of evil represented by the serpent are the real root of the problem. The fist step was in clearing the human consciousness to give evil no abiding place (mowing the grass.) We must also get rid of the serpent, or it will simply seek out another hiding place. The serpent, that mesmeric, hypnotic power of evil suggestion, is only empowered by giving it a sense of somethingness.
Again in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mrs. Eddy reminds us how the ancient patriarchs, Jesus, his students, the apostles, and adherents to the practice of true Christian healing began their approach to keeping experience free from evil. I maintain that Jesus as well as other slightly less spiritually advanced humans knew that “The starting-point of divine Science is that God, Spirit, is All-in all, and that there is no other might nor Mind, – that God is Love, and therefore He is divine Principle” (Science and Health 275:6) In other words, we must begin by never falsely granting evil a foothold. The initial error is the belief that evil has a right to exist at all, or that it does exist within God’s realm. God is infinite, pure good, All-in-all. That concept in itself excludes an abiding place for evil. Evil’s only abiding place can be in the tall grass of the mortal human activity of the carnal and imperfect man, of whom God is not the author, and who exists only in a supposititious (spiritually unreal) mortal consciousness. That is the consciousness of the Adam-man, the carnal man, who falsely believes that he lives in a world where both good and evil are present. Jesus was teaching mankind how to elevate their consciousness above the Adam dimension and into the real and spiritual plane of the perfect spiritual man, as described in the very first account of creation in Genesis Chapter 1.
In further explanation, Mrs. Eddy tells how to exterminate the serpent: “The exterminator of error is the great truth that God, good, is the only Mind, and that the supposititious opposite of infinite Mind –called devil or evil–is not Mind, is not Truth, but error, without intelligence or reality. There can be but one Mind, because there is but one God; and if mortals claimed no other Mind and accepted no other, sin would be unknown. We can have but one Mind, if that one is infinite. We bury the sense of infinitude, when we admit that, although God is infinite, evil has a place in this infinity, for evil can have no place, where all space is filled with God.” (Science and Health 469:13)
If God, good, the only Mind, is all that exists, then we, as the effect of this great and only cause reside within this perfect and infinite self-contained spiritual realm. Evil is automatically exterminated because it has no true residing place in our consciousness, once we make our consciousness aligned with God’s. The only place evil can possibly even pretend to reside is in human material sense. And human material sense comes from the carnal and imperfect concept of man claiming to really be us. – and this is is NOT God’s man! Evil tries to hide itself in this human consciousness, and it comes in the form of mesmeric suggestion, pretending to actually be our thought.
But we have the power to remove evil’s hallucinatory, mesmeric, illusory existence. Mrs. Eddy further illustrates this point in Science and Health when she writes : “Under the mesmeric illusion of belief, a man will think that he is freezing when he is warm, and that he is swimming when he is on dry land. Needle-thrusts will not hurt him. A delicious perfume will seem intolerable. Animal magnetism thus uncovers material sense, and shows it to be a belief without actual foundation or validity. Change the belief, and the sensation changes. Destroy the belief, and the sensation disappears.” (490:28)
If you desire to be free from the influence of evil you have only to claim your freedom from evil by firmly and powerfully confirming the presence of God, and with conviction realize that evil is but hypnotic suggestion. Maintain, as Jesus did, a solid conviction of the erroneous nature of error, evil, devil, sin, sickness, death, which can have no abiding place in the true Kingdom of God, which is with us here and now. Jesus said, ” Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21)