Infinite Way Letter
By Joel Goldsmith
Part 6 of 6
What Is Religion? – continued
God is the source of all good. In our spiritual Selfhood, we are the children of God, heirs to all the heavenly riches, and it is God’s pleasure to give us the kingdom. To God we can give nothing, but we can accept the grace that flows so abundantly, and we can open out a way for it to flow to others. We must accept this grace, not only for ourselves, but for all.
It is sometimes believed that the health of the body and mind is something different from the health of the Soul, but it is not. When the Soul is at peace, the body responds and shows forth this peace. The Soul is our real being, and the action of the Soul operates in our body to give health and strength, in our business to give guidance, direction, and prosperity, and in our nations to give wisdom, honor, and justice. The Soul is the source of all human good, and when we are in contact with the Soul-center, we do not find body and business and government things separate and apart, but we find that body and business and government are all acted upon by the Soul. When this contact with our inner Self is made, and when consciousness is filled with the realization of God’s presence all our earthly affairs respond.
The East seems to feel that the Western world pays too much attention to the body, to the accumulation of wealth and material possessions, and to mechanical and industrial progress. This is true only where health or wealth or progress is the prime goal. When bodily health and material wealth assume too great an importance, they become obstructions to spiritual development. But when spiritual development and the realization of the Soul-capacities becomes the sole aim, it automatically follows that the so-called human affairs respond to the spiritual impulse and become harmonious.
When the young student first turns to God, usually it is because of a desire for better health or greater wealth, but soon he finds that these cannot be attained until he has achieved his spiritual contact with God. It is most marvelous to watch the beauties that are unfolded in his experience as God becomes the central theme, the first and greatest desire. The intent and purpose of prayer is not the attainment of harmony, but the attainment of God consciousness, spiritual consciousness, and when the heart sings with true prayer the effect is harmony in all our affairs of body and being. In this light, prayer becomes a very exciting and joyous experience, because in addition to the prayers in which we participate in temples and holy places, there are the prayers that continually sing within us as we go about our daily tasks. Then it is that we understand that it is not necessary to pray for help or for a specific good. It is only necessary that we open ourselves to receive the grace of God, and that we be willing to share this grace with those not yet aware of their divine heritage.
There is still a higher aspect to the subject of religion and prayer. In the West, most people are inclined to think of life merely as a period between the cradle and the grave, believing that this is the only life about which they need be concerned. In the religious world of the East, however, there is a greater recognition of the life which existed before the cradle, and of the life that exists beyond the grave. Devotion to religion and prayer eventually unfolds the knowledge and understanding that this present life can be, should be, and is, a preparation for the experience that lies before us, just as life before the cradle was an experience that brought us to the place we are today. Religion and prayer are the development of the Soul, not only for the harmony of everyday earthly living, but for the harmony and progress of our experience unto eternity. We must never lose sight of the fact that in God realization we perform two functions: we bring about peace and harmony in our present lives; and we bring the assurance of progress in our lives to come.
When we pray alone, often there is a great struggle to rise above the limitations of our personal sense of prayer. It is when we find an enlightened Soul that our ideas and capacities for prayer are expanded, and the way is opened that frees us from these limitations and more quickly enables us to enter the kingdom ofGod on earth. It is in this way that we receive help, not only in our everyday affairs, but the greater help that opens the consciousness of our Soul to the ability to realize God. For every individual on earth there is a teacher, visible or invisible, and the first prayer of every student and seeker of truth should be that he be led to that teacher; and once finding him to accept the grace which comes through the heart and Soul of such an enlightened one.
Prayer is an important part of life, second only to the subject of religion itself, and yet the two are inseparable. The life of prayer reveals the life of God as man’s individual life. In the West, to a great extent, prayer is confined to Sunday or other specific days, but more and more it is beginning to be understood that prayer must be without ceasing—twenty-four hours of every day, seven days a week. There was a time when everyone who embarked upon a life of prayer left his household and entered a temple, a monastery, or convent; but now it is known that a life of prayer can be lived right where we are, in the midst of home, business, and government demands. Spiritual men and women are called by God, and when life is lived in an unceasing atmosphere of prayer, those few individuals who have been chosen to be spiritual leaders will be lifted out of their everyday lives. But never should one be encouraged or even consider leaving his human surroundings until the call is unmistakable. Only in this way will the spiritual men and women of the world be worthy of their calling. When this is thoroughly understood there will no longer be false prophets and false teachers, nor will people leave the human world for what they consider the spiritual world before they are called. It also will be understood that each individual is called to fulfill some specific spiritual function in the divine plan; therefore there will be no lack, no disease, no war, and no unhappiness; and every individual will be cared for physically, mentally, morally, and economically. There are those who must be saints and seers and spiritual teachers, just as there are those who must fill positions in the family, business, and government; but each one who fulfills any of these in the realization of his spiritual destiny fulfills it harmoniously, joyously, successfully; with love, generosity, and forgiveness.
The greatest privilege that can ever come to an individual is that of sharing the grace of God which is received and revealed in the silence and secrecy of the heart. The most sacred work on earth is the giving and sharing of God’s riches of spiritual wisdom. My own heart is full of gratitude that God has spoken to me in silence, in sacredness, and in secrecy, and then permitted me to share these spiritual gems with others. One of the greatest human privileges that has ever been mine is the rare opportunity to travel to far places, and to encounter such enlightened souls as our beloved Swami Ramdas, who so liberally shared his spiritual gems as he traveled the world last year. I am sure Swami Ramdas knows my great joy in being permitted to speak on these occasions at Anandashram. To all of you, may I say that you have given me far more than I have been permitted to give you—more in spiritual memories that I will be able to store up in the next three or four lifetimes.
Reprinted from The Vision, April, 1956,
Anandashram P.O., Kanhangad,South India
End Part 6 of 6