I had an adult piano student back in the 1980’s who had originally come to me for an objective evaluation of his progress. He had been studying with another teacher for about 3 years, felt that something wasn’t right, and was looking for an outside view.
Well, I agreed to listen to him. He sat down and “played” a relatively easy piece by J. S. Bach. You’ll notice that I put the word “play” in quotes. And I did so intentionally because his performance bore no resemblance to the actual piece. It was instead a floodwater of wrong notes, musical stuttering, starts and stops, and constant changing of tempi. Unfortunately, it could only be described as nothing short of horrible!
But the interesting thing here is not about the performance, but about his mental state while playing and his reaction to my critique. This dear man was completely oblivious to his errors. He thought that he had done a fine job!
And right now, you might be asking how that could possibly be?
The answer? He had become so accustomed to and comfortable with these errors that he had been completely mesmerized into thinking that his performance was how the piece should actually sound—a delusion that his teacher had not corrected!
At the end of the evaluation, and after I demonstrated how the piece should be played, he asked if I would accept him as a student—which I did. It took several months of constant correction by me for him to become alert to his bad habits, hear his mistakes, and begin to understand how to actually make corrections that would last.
In thinking about this experience yesterday, I had to ask myself: How often are we behaving as this student did? How often are we going through life repeating the same errors, until we not only become oblivious to them, but actually think that this pattern of wrongness is how life should be lived?
If that’s the case, how would we even know that this phenomenon was happening to us?
By praying! Yes, praying for deliverance from error in all its forms as Jesus taught us in The Lord’s Prayer:
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil;
In her spiritual sense of this same prayer, Mary Baker Eddy wrote:
And God leadeth us not into temptation, but delivereth us from sin, disease, and death. (Science and Health, p. 17)
This is a clear declaration and affirmation of God’s love and guidance for us. But what about our responsibility in all of this? Where do we begin?
There’s a stanza from a poem by Eddy, “The Mother’s Evening Prayer,” that I think is relevant here (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 389):
Love is our refuge; only with mine eye
Can I behold the snare, the pit, the fall:
His habitation high is here, and nigh,
His arm encircles me, and mine, and all.
In the past, I had thought that if Love, God, is indeed our refuge—and He is—then it is only the material sense of sight that could cause us to see, believe, and experience the evil—the lie—that is matter-based thinking.
But about 6 months ago, it struck me that this “eye” can also be referring to our spiritual sense of sight—a sense that is entirely sourced in that very refuge of Love, a sense which enables us to see and be alert to the temptations of evil. To the temptations that would snare and trap us into believing that sin and sickness are realities. To the temptations that would keep us asleep in the dream of matter.
And it’s this spiritual sense—this gift from God which we all possess—that needs to be continually used to avoid those shoals of error.
I’ve often contemplated and found this passage from Isaiah very helpful—for myself and for my patients:
Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. (Isa 60:1)
Note, that it’s in the present tense. And also note that it’s a wake-up call to all of us right now!