The Illusion of Animal Magnetism


We all owe Mary Baker Eddy, our dear Leader in this healing Science, deep gratitude for showing us that in no instance is the effect of animal magnetism — recently called hypnotism — other than the effect of illusion.

She did this through her love for mankind, and by going to the bottom of all mental action, and revealing to us the rightness of all mental action.

She showed us how to make this appearance of matter into a no-thing, and keep it as a no-thing. Mrs. Eddy says, “Sleep and mesmerism explain the mythical nature of material sense.” So, let’s think about it for a moment, because if we can once see the mythical nature of what appears to be matter, we are never going to stand so aghast at it again.

It means that when you walk down the street and see a tree, or a bird, you can stop and think, “That’s a thought of a tree, or thought of a bird. It all exists in thought.” I find myself practicing this, because the first step of what Mrs. Eddy says “to resolve things into thought” is the difficult one.

Let’s take a dream, for instance. In a dream we see, we feel, we hear — we have physical sense reports. Sometimes even more vividly than in the waking experience, and yet we know that everything we beheld, everything we experienced, was entirely in thought. Not one single aspect of a dream was ever anything but a thought. But when we wake up we think, “Oh, now I am awake and what I’m seeing has reality outside of me, outside of my thinking.”

It is just as mythical, just as much a dream, as that sleeping experience.

And when we realize that we are only dealing with thought in the waking experience, just as much as we are in the sleeping, we begin to deal with thought — and not with matter. Because, when we are dealing with it as matter, we don’t get into the ball game!

You’ve got to resolve things into thought before you can begin to make the exchange.

And the exchange takes place only after you have it in the area of thought.

That’s why the practice of seeing things as thought — recognizing it as thought — puts it in an area where you can say, “Well, big deal, I can handle that.”

But if you’ve got it as something where cell structure has to be changed, an organ has to be restored . . . all of a sudden, you’ve got a different ball game.

And that’s what the world is holding before your view constantly. An understanding of the mythical nature of it enables you not to stand aghast.

Now let’s look at it through hypnotism. You’re going to see that ultimately that’s all you are ever dealing with.

It’s no accident that Mrs. Eddy says, “Animal magnetism, alias hypnotism.” She refers to this constantly. Because that really explains what it is.

Most of us have the concept that, in order for somebody to be hypnotized, you’ve got to have someone with glassy eyes that hold your concentration, thereby bringing you under his control. Believe me, this is not true. This thing of voluntary hypnotism doesn’t even require a spoken word today.

A man at Fifth Church I knew had a very good friend who was an expert hypnotist. This was in San Francisco. They used to talk metaphysics from time to time, and he used to say to the Scientist once in a while, “One of these days I’m going to hypnotize you, and then you’re going to understand what we’re talking about.”

Well, the Scientist used to rather good-naturedly scoff at this. One night they went to dinner in the Persian Room of the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, and the Scientist ordered lamb chops. Presently, the waitress served him. And he looked down at his plate and he said, “Just a minute, Miss. You’ve made a mistake in my order. I ordered lamb chops — not watermelon.” “Well!” she said, “What watermelon?”

And he said, “This watermelon!” and he held up a big slab of watermelon right there in front of him.

She said, “Are you trying to put me on?”

“No,” he said, “I’m talking about this. I know I ordered lamb chops.”

She said, “Well, I served you lamb chops — and that’s what you’ve got.”

And they got into quite an argument.

Finally he caught a glimpse of his friend’s face across from him, which had a smirk on it, and he stopped, looked right at him, and said, “You finally did it, didn’t you? !”

And that broke the spell.

He looked back at his plate, and where an instant before had been a big slab of watermelon, were the lamb chops. He rather shamefully excused himself to the girl, and the two men went on with their meal.

The next day he and his mother went to visit an invalid aunt who was suffering from a belief of cancer of the face. It had reached the stage where she could no longer go out in public. And so the family took turns visiting. As they walked into the room, he saw his aunt’s face, all covered with this growth. He turned to his mother, and almost with a chuckle, said, “Why, Auntie has watermelon all over her face!”

You see, he saw so clearly that it was no different than the watermelon had been the night before. It was hypnotic. It was not actual. There was no reality in it.

And he saw that.

And his mother saw that.

And they talked to the aunt about it, and about what body really is.

The next morning, the niece, who was taking care of the aunt, called — so excited she could scarcely speak. She said, “The most wonderful thing just happened! That entire cancerous growth just fell off of Auntie’s face. And she’s well!”

Now let’s look for a moment at what happened.

The breaking of a hypnotic spell requires two steps. The first step is recognizing it to be an illusion. Even when you are still standing knee-deep in it. The second step that is required is to know what the fact is.

With his aunt, when he recognized what true body was, what the fact was — that she was spiritual, every whit spiritual — not one iota matter — it had to break the spell.

We’ve got to see things as thoughts . . . then we can make the exchange. The growth had to be seen as nothing but a thought . . . an hypnotic thought . . . in order for the exchange of the objects of sense for the ideas of Soul.

And when that happens we cannot avoid healing.

I’d like to share with you another thing about hypnotism, because I think that this is the most excellent example of the necessity for continuity.

It explains something of what is demanded of us in our work.

During Mrs. Eddy’s time, one of her students, anxious to know more about the handling of animal magnetism, booked passage for India — to go and learn more about the defenses of mesmerism. He took his things aboard ship, put them away in his room, and then went up on deck.

He was standing on the deck, watching the stevedores load the boat. There were great stacks of boxes sitting all over the docks in big, orderly piles. And everyone was happily going about his business.

Among the passengers, he met a Hindu, and they began to talk. Pretty soon he asked the Hindu, “Do you believe in mesmerism?”

Well, it was a beautiful, sunshiny day. But all of a sudden, the most terrible storm came in from the Atlantic. Great waves smashed into the boat, and threw it like a toy against the docks. The wind knocked the big piles of boxes around . . ., knocked some of the stevedores into the water . . . tore the roofs off some of the buildings. They had to hold on for dear life to the boat railing to keep from being thrown overboard. It was a frightening experience. And this went on for some time.

Then, just as quickly, it stopped. Absolutely stopped. And the fellow looked down at the dock. And there were the stevedores going about their business — just as quietly as before.

All the crates were standing there in perfect order. No roofs were torn off. And the water was as calm as a lake.

And the Hindu turned to him and said. “I have just answered your question.”

The man continued his trip, and arrived in India. He kept his appointment with the adept, who was to teach him about this.

He was shown to his quarters. They were very sparsely furnished, just a table and chair. And he was left alone there. Presently, the door opened and a man came in carrying a magnificent, big Indian vase. He had never seen anything so beautiful.

The man walked in front of him, and suddenly lifted that vase over his head, and slammed it onto the floor with all of his strength. And it broke into a thousand pieces. This beautiful vase.

Well, it was a rather startling experience, but the Scientist was a bit prepared because of the experience on the boat. And he remembered what the Hindu had told him. He said, “The only defense against mesmerism is to hold to a fact . . . no matter how simple it is — hold to a fact.”

And so he did it right then. And the only fact that came to him at that moment was: 2×2 are 4. And he held to that.

And to his amazement, the vase and all its pieces disappeared from view. Absolutely disappeared. And he was alone in the room again.

Well, he sat back, rather proud of himself at what he had been able to accomplish, and he allowed his thought to drift away, and when he did, instantly the whole mess was back — all over the floor again.

He stopped, and went back to that fact again. Everything disappeared. He sat there a little while, and pretty soon his thoughts started wandering . . . and back it all came again.

Finally, he saw that he had to maintain that fact. And he did. And with that, the vase disappeared permanently.

The door opened. The mesmerist came in, and he said, “You need never fear mesmerism again. You know the secret of dealing with it.”

The continuity of the fact must be maintained, or the illusion will slip back.

Never lose sight of the fact that you are dealing with hypnotism. Never forget you are dealing with illusion.

We are breaking the mental state.

When you are tempted to believe what you see, we can think, “Father, You were there. What did You see?” When we see it through God’s eyes, the dreadfulness of the appearance . . . the helplessness . . . the hopelessness . . . the world belief of incurability . . . utterly fade away.

Now, to sum up.

Know there is no matter. Really know it. Feel it. Think it. Remember, it’s the feel of it that counts.

That is not only the axiom of true Christian Science. It is the only basis upon which this Science can be demonstrated.

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