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Lesson 16 - What is Real and What is Illusion?
WHAT IS REAL AND WHAT IS ILLUSION?
Purpose: To lead the student to deep insight into, and true evaluation of the world about him; that he may delight in it as only the spiritually discerning can.
 Man in all ages and in every stage of his development has sought Something higher than himself, and seeking, has found. “Man is incurably religious.” Civilized men have simply continued the search begun by primitive men ages ago. Both have found; each in his own way.
It is essential that men hold the right belief about God, for the history of man accords with his belief in God; our weakness or our strength as world citizens is determined thereby.
The following statements are true: As man is, so is his God; as is man's conception of God, so is man. Man conceives God according to his own development; and his conception reacts upon him as an individual. Until he becomes enlightened, man conceives God to be manlike; the conception of a tyrannical God sprang from tyrants, and has brought tragic experiences into the world--persecution, the inquisition, and mental cruelty. The conception of a loving God, as taught by Jesus, is transforming men's lives' it is impelling them to translate the theory of human brotherhood into daily practice.
The need through the ages has been a concept of God that will bring out the nearness--the  oneness of God and Man; the Divine Science idea of God as Infinite and Immediate Presence, does this for me.
In Divine Science we think of God as the Infinite Expanse of Consciousness--the Fundamental Being of the Universe; but we also know God as infinitely loving Presence “closer than breathing, nearer than hands or feet”--the very Essence of our Being, the LIFE that you and I are.
There are myriads of ways in which this Life expresses, from the grain of sand to the solar system, from the wayside flower to man, but all is one Life. God Life is expressing Itself as creation. God is sharing His Life with us, his children; He is truly in us, through us, around us. Man is always being lived by God; the Father of us all is not only the far, He is the near; the Fatherhood of God is both infinite and immediate.
The truth that God lives in each one of us makes the individual potentially infinite.
There is no limit to what he can comprehend and to what he can do, as he comes to realize his oneness with the Father. It is not of ourselves, remember, that we are powerful; it is of the Father which dwelleth in us and worketh through us. The life of the individual is endless, and each one of us will go on throughout eternity, realizing more and more the truth of God-Life.
Truth is changeless, but our conceptions change; these grow deeper and broader and truer as we unfold.
The Law of God is eternal, and our interpretation of the Law deepens and broadens and becomes truer as we develop.
 Let us suppose that Jesus had said, “I see a new interpretation of law, but what Moses said must not be changed; we must live by the old.” Think of the loss to humanity such a conception would have meant. Jesus taught, on the contrary, that the Spirit of Truth would lead men into greater and greater knowledge. “When he, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.”
Led by the Spirit of Truth we are finding the fundamental things of life, and the welfare of man is being assured by this deepening, enlarging, and strengthening of his concept of God.
We are coming to see that the universe of form is the manifestation of Infinite Consciousness and that the intelligence of God is everywhere in the universe.
God Idea is taking form. What shall we do with the inharmony that we see around us? Does God create deformity, sin, and suffering? At this point let us take up the question as to what is real and what [is] illusion.
Each philosophy has its own vocabulary. To some the real means the actual, the objective only. This concept leaves out the part of the Universe that is most important. There are others to whom the real means the subjective wholly; to them outer force, outer action, and form are not real. Here again a part of the Universe is denied.
The one who thinks of the actual in the sense of what he can see, hear, and touch, and calls this the only real is dealing with the outer merely, and is accepting the doctrine of materialism. The one who believes that only the invisible or  subjective is real excludes an important part of the universe. The materialist is looking at the external only; if he were willing to look through the external, he would find God and God in action.
The real is more than that which is becoming or coming forth; it is more than that which is visible or than that which is invisible. Let us hold the bigger attitude. Why try to wipe out the visible or refuse to accept the invisible? God is all. Truth is eternal. Because we do not see the whole of Truth, let us not deny the part. Human ignorance cannot do away with the visible, for the visible is God in expression, but it is a mistake to believe in the visible alone.
The Universe is one--visible and invisible.
Divine Science gives the truest interpretation of the Universe that I have found.
Again we are told that, “ What is , is real.” But I ask, “Do we really know what is ?” The senses do not report aright. They do not tell us what is . As we stand on the back platform of a rapidly moving train our eyes report that the rails are coming together behind us. Is this true? The senses report that the sun rises in the east every morning and sets in the west at evening. For thousands of years men believed that the earth was flat, because it looked that way to the eye. As we look over the plains our eyes show us that the earth and the sky meet; while natural science proves that there is limitless space above and around us.
We have all heard people say, “I know this is true because I have seen it.” Is seeing  believing? It is not, according to the latest theories advanced by natural scientists. You and I look at a piece of furniture--a chair or a table. Do we see it as it is? What appears to us as solid substance, firm and hard, is really atoms, vivid with life activity, vibrating in unison with one another.
There is no inanimate matter.
Natural science tells us that the only difference between various kinds of material, such as air or wood or steel, lies in the number of electrons that revolve around each of the nuclei that make up the material. We do not become aware of this pulsating life activity through the report of the senses.
Is seeing believing? I say that I went downtown today and bought blue material for a dress. Really the material I bought is blue because it isn't blue; the color that you and I see is what we call blue because the material does not absorb certain rays and does obsorb others. That which it rejects and reflects gives the material its color. It is evident that we cannot rely upon the senses.
Are you saying, “I learn by experience?” Is this true? Are our experiences always based upon Truth? What shall we trust since we have found that the report of the senses is not dependable? The subconscious? No, we cannot trust it, for the subconscious accepts without question what is said to it by the senses, until it is trained by the right thinking of the individual to higher standards. The subconscious inherits much ignorance, and it believes in sin, sickness, and death until you and I teach it better. Since  the subconscious may report negatively, we dare not rely upon its promptings. Generations have done this; mankind has gathered its records of the past in this way. As a consequence, many times we are working from the wrong basis. The subconscious tries to report to us that we are creatures of a dire heredity, bound by past mistakes and wrong beliefs.
We are, in Truth, sons of God, free to progress eternally.
God, we affirm, is the one Reality of the Universe. “What,” I hear someone say, “I have understood that Divine Science believed in nature, the created world. Now you are denying it.” And I reply, “No, I am not denying the universe of form and force; these are Immanuel, God with us.”
Here comes an exceedingly vital point:
Perceiving Omnipresence clearly brings the realization of health, supply, abundance, power, and joy.
Before man does anything, the idea is in his mind. For example, the architect has the plan in mind before attempting to build; the real cathedral is in mind. An engineer works out his plans for construction in his thought before he builds. A dressmaker has the plan of the dress worked out mentally before she cuts the material. So it is with God!
Every created thing is Idea in Divine Mind before it is expressed.
One of the unchanging laws of the Universe is that, like produces like. Jesus stated this law in these words: “Do men gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles?”
 “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.”
We are not surprised, since like produces like, that God looked upon the works of His creation and pronounced these good. Yes, very good! They were Godlike! God is looking upon His work today, and He is pronouncing them good. Blessed is the man who discerning Reality-- God-Presence --pronounces all Good.
Are we prepared in the light of what has been said, to define the Real? Divine Science says that the Real is That Which Eternally Is-- God and God in action. This means Mind and its Ideas, the principles and laws of the Universe, and That Which God Does.
What God is and What God Does Is the Real.
What man conceives apart from God or in belief of separation from God is the outcome of ignorance and does not accord with God-Idea, nor with Universal Principle; hence it is the unreal or illusion.
Glenn Clark in The Soul's Sincere Desire , discriminates between the real and the unreal in the following words: “Reality, in the eyes of the practical man, is made up of cold, hard facts. And what are the cold, hard facts of life? As we look about us in this world, what we see all too frequently are quarrels, bickerings, unhappiness, unfaithfulness, treachery, covetousness and materialism everywhere. These are the facts of life. Fact comes from the word, factum , meaning something that we do or make. Are these facts of life identical with the realities of life? Not according to Jesus.
 To him Reality does not consist of that which is made, but of that which eternally is.
Love is --quarrels are made; joy is --unhappiness is made; truth is --lies are made; loyalty is --betrayals are made; purity is --impurity is made; life is --sickness is made.
Is nature real according to our definition of Reality? Let us look at a flower; richness of color, beauty of form, and sweetness of fragrance are there. The flower is real because it conforms to the fundamental conception of its Being, the God-Idea of it, although temporarily expressed. The idea of the flower in God-Mind is eternal and real; and its expression is temporal and real.
All expression, true to Idea and Principle, whether coming directly from God or from God through man, is real.
You say that the sunset is temporal; its glory is passing: Is it any the less beautiful for this reason? The sunset in all its colorful glory passes, but the Idea of the sunset is eternal. The principle upon which it is based and by which it is expressed is Real, the permanent Real, while the sunset itself is the temporary real.
How rich, wonderful, and beautiful Creation is! Some philosophers say “amen” to all that I have said--One God Omnipresent; One Creator, God; One Creation, Godlike, hence perfect; and in the next breath, perhaps, they speak of man's creation. Here is a strange teaching. We do not agree with it. This is where Divine Science stands true to its basic principle.
When we speak the word, Omnipresence, we mean that One and One only is the Reality.
 Illusion is believing in more than one--the many; it teaches an opposite to the One wholly good--the devil or evil. Divine Science recognizes One Creator and only One, and this Creator is God.
We believe that unillumined thinking is the only evil in the universe.
Since God is Omnipresent, Life, Health, Beauty, Power, Intelligence and Joy are Omnipresent. Belief in aught else is delusion. From the point of view of Omnipresence we can say, “Whatever is, is Real.”
There is only God and God in action.
Our conception that there is an opposite of God-Life, of harmony, and of good, is substanceless and has in it no power. Such misconceptions as that of the existence of two powers, one good and one evil, keep us from realizing the blessings of the Kingdom of God within us, of the Kingdom of Heaven at hand. As long as man is ignorant of Reality he will suffer the pangs of delusion--sin, sickness, and death.
We must know the Truth about Life. Jesus says, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
Knowledge of God gives us understanding of Reality; in the light of God-Consciousness all illusion falls away, and through the practice of the Presence of God in thought, word, and deed, we come to know with unswerving certainty that there is only One Reality--God and God in action.
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