Question: Will you please explain further your statement that this world is in reality a spiritual world? One feels that the spiritual world must be entirely different to the human sense of it.
Answer: Exactly. Exactly what I have said that this is a spiritual world but the human sense of it is the illusion. Exactly so. The spiritual world must contain the infinity of God’s creation, including man, and can therefore have no boundaries as appear to human sense. And this is true. This universe, this one you that are living in has no boundaries. Any boundaries are those that you have accepted from the world’s illusory sense. And you overcome that world’s illusory sense not by battling an external evil but by knowing the Truth. Once you know that the horizon you see out there isn’t really the end of things, the coming together of the sky and land as it appears to be, but an optical illusion, you have overcome the horizon. You can now travel around the globe. It is only when you are accepting the appearance as it seems to be, that you say, oh I don’t want to travel far in that direction because I’ll tumble off that end out there. The very moment you know that that is an illusory sense, it no longer restricts you. And you then see that this is a round globe going round and round and round and round with no beginning and no ending.
And so it is, as spiritual discernment comes to you, you begin to perceive that your body is the temple of the living God, your business is the temple of God, your talent is the temple of God, your home is the temple of God, your life and your mind is the temple of God and there are no limitations. None. And any limitation that appears in your experience represents your acceptance of a universal illusion, a universal belief in two powers. And you rise above it only in proportion as you abide in the Truth that this universe is the temple of the living God and any limitations that I am aware of represent the limitations of sense, not of actuality.
Question: Would you compare the benefits of contemplation and meditation?
Answer: With us, contemplation is the first step toward meditation. And in matter of fact, it is a part of meditation and that is why we have the term contemplative meditation. Contemplative meditation is the step leading up to the actual experience of meditation itself. As meditation itself is a step leading to a further step or deeper meditation called communion, which is a communion between our outer self and our inner self, and this leading to the final step, which is conscious union.
Now, to understand this, let us look out from the spiritual standpoint and note this: I and my Father are already one; therefore, the union is already established. I and my Father are already one. But in my human estate, I am not aware of my oneness with God. I am not aware of my union with God. In fact, I have been born and brought up to believe that God is up in a heaven somewhere. Someone else was born and brought up to believe that God is hanging off a crucifix. And someone else is born and brought up to believe that God is somewhere else. Very few are born and brought up with the truth that I and my Father are one, and because of this, we entertain a sense of separation with God even while being one with God.
Now, at some stage of our unfoldment, we are prepared to hear someone say to us or to read in a book, “know ye not, I and my Father are one. Thou seest me, thou seest the Father that sent me.” And at first that’s quite a shock. But as we learn to live with it, if we are really prepared, gradually it will dawn upon us why this is true. God is closer to me than breathing, nearer than hands and feet. Whither shall I flee from thy Spirit. If I mount up to heaven, thou art there with me. If I make my bed in hell, thou art there with me. If I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, thou art there with me. Literally it is true I and my Father are one. I cannot escape from God.
Francis Thompson here in England tried it and had to end up writing his famous poem, “The Hound of Heaven.” You cannot ever become separated from God, but you can by false education, false religious teachings. You can come to entertain a sense of separation from God.
Now, your journey on the spiritual path is overcoming that sense of separation until you regain the realization of your conscious oneness. Now, because the Infinite Way is merely my personal experience, I cannot give you what other teachers or teachings have discovered. I can only give you what has been unfolded in my personal experience. And my personal experience revealed that there was no way of finding the Kingdom of God except within. And ultimately it was revealed that I couldn’t find it within, except through meditation. And because there was so little written in the Occidental world on meditation and so little I could understand in the Oriental world, I had to evolve my own method of meditation, and as it unfolded through experiment, I came upon this contemplative form of meditation. Now while it is an original discovery with me, it is not original in the sense that I am the only one who attained it. It is only original in the sense that I attained it without anyone else’s help. But there were many before me who have discovered a contemplative form of meditation and have lived contemplative forms of life.
Now, the contemplative form of meditation as it evolved within me was, well let us say the begin with it was necessitated by the fact that my mind would not get still long enough to hear the still, small voice. And so to bring it to a point of stillness this contemplative form of meditation took place.
Now you already have a full and complete form of contemplative meditation in I think the second night of this class, so I will not have to go into a lengthy one but just a very brief thing to show you that contemplative meditation is where I sit back quietly and bring to conscious remembrance within me as much as I can of what I know about God. Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee. So I’m going to try to keep my mind stayed on God by remembering God. God closer to me than breathing. The Kingdom of God is neither low here nor low there, the Master says. The Kingdom of God is within me. The Kingdom of God is not in holy mountains. It is not in a holy temple. And it’s certainly not in a holy teacher. Why do you call me good? There is but one good, the Father.
And so therefore, the Kingdom of God is not in a place or a person, but it is within me. The poet says, “closer to me than breathing, nearer than hands and feet.” And now I remember also that God said, “Son, thou art ever with me.” So here we are again God and I together, ever together, ever one. Here where I am God is. Wherever God is I am, for we are ever together. The place whereon I stand is holy ground. God is here. God is now.
And so I could go along that contemplative form of meditation for ten, twenty, thirty minutes, and eventually my mind would get perfectly calm and still, and I would enter a second stage of meditation, which is a state of receptivity. It is now where the mind is calm. Thoughts no longer flow. My inner ears are open, and I’m saying, “Speak Lord, thy servant heareth.” And then it may be for ten seconds or twenty or thirty that I sit there in a listening attitude. It may not last for any longer than ten or twelve seconds, and then I stop and my meditation is complete.
But eventually as I practice this form of meditation, I find that the second, the first stage—the contemplative meditation—is shorter. It takes only three or four or five minutes to enter into an inner stillness, a listening attitude, and the second stage is longer, that one of listening. And then follows, and it may not follow for days or weeks or months, but there eventually follows another stage in which I become aware of an actual Presence within me, a something. It may be a feeling. It may just be a sensing, an awareness. But I do know now that there is a something down here. And it brings a smile to my face, because I know now that I’m not alone. There are two of us. There is me Joel and whatever this is that is within me. I can’t describe it. I can’t define it. It’s just there. It’s a Presence, an awareness, a joy, a feeling. It might be a lightness.
But whatever it is I know something’s there, and I rest very still and content in the realization that it is there. This is the Christ. This is the very presence of God. This is the Spirit of God in man. In thy Presence is fullness, the Presence of this now that’s within me. Where the Spirit of the lord is, there is liberty. This Presence that I feel within me now is my freedom and my joy, my peace and my prosperity, my all. There is a me and an it as if there were two of us. And really it isn’t two. It’s my inner self and my outer self communing with each other. And there may be no words, and there may be no thoughts. There just may be just a feeling of its Presence there. And wherever it is, be assured of this: harmony is bound to be expressed.