The new series “Letters of the Infinite Way” starts with the full letter Joel wrote for you. We already published the first part, but there is more.
CHAPTER ONE: JANUARY 1955
The Importance of Meditation
OUR work is to live in God; to dwell in the secret place of the most high; to keep thought stayed on Him; to pray without ceasing. Throughout all ages, the scriptures of the world have given us this same truth: “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” No part of the Message of the Infinite Way is more important than meditation, for it is only through meditation that we are enabled to find God.
There is no other way. The act of meditation is solely for the purpose of quieting us into a state of peace and serenity, in which we become receptive to the Word of God unfolding and revealing Itself in and as our consciousness. Each of us has many moments during the day and night in which to abide in the Word of God, to meditate upon Truth, be it only a momentary pause during our work, before meals, while walking, driving or resting. If wakeful during the night, we can spend that time with God and find rest in His peace.
While we are dwelling in God no sense of evil can come nigh our dwelling place. God is the all-knowing Mind, so take the attitude that He knows our needs better than we do, and turn within only for the impartation of His Word. We may be meditating because of a lack of health, or supply, or companionship, but it is not necessary to enlighten God. Just turn to Him with the expectancy of an impartation from within, and the Word of God will be made flesh—it will appear outwardly in human experience, and therefore let us not be concerned as to what form it shall take.
There may be times when no thoughts come, but be grateful: thoughts are not necessary. “My peace I give unto you. . . .” Be satisfied with the sense of peace that is beyond words and thoughts and knowledge, and relax in it. Thank you, Father, I rest in Thy peace. Thy Grace is my sufficiency. I am happy, peaceful, joyous in Thy peace. The kingdom of God—the Allness of God is within me.
In this meditation we do not think of ourselves, we do not ask God for anything, we have no hopes, no wishes, no ambitions. We rest in the Spirit, in God’s Presence, His promises and assurances, and in this consciousness awaken to the realization we have been desiring. “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” “Man shall not live by bread alone”—not by the truths we think or declare or read, “but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God,” and the only way to hear that Word is to listen. Seek, ask, knock, but do not acquaint God with the nature of the problem.
Leave your problems outside the door, and enter into the sacred place to hear the still, small Voice, with the attitude that you are seeking only the kingdom of God. Should any difficulty arise, become still and quiet inside. At such times as it may appear that you have some need or human requirement on the outer plane, no matter what the claim, let your answer be: “I have meat to eat that ye know not of.” Refute all temptation to yield to the claim of lack with the Word of God, which is your meat, your wine, your water, your home eternal in the heavens.
In this understanding you can be reborn. You can undergo a change of consciousness wherein are needs you long to have fulfilled, to a consciousness that faces every claim with “I have meat to eat that ye know not of.” In this consciousness you are aware of the Word of God—the invisible substance of all form, the essence of which every demonstration is made. In this consciousness you have the bread of life, the wine of inspiration, the invisible source of supply, the fount of all good; and as you turn within and feel Its Presence, It manifests outwardly as demonstration.
While this new consciousness is forming, you may, for a while, be faced with some sense of limitation or delay which may cause you to doubt the Presence of the Christ, and it is then you need to remember: “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. . . .” It is in quietness and in confidence that you rest in assurance. If you have even a grain of faith, the Christ will see you through. Your good can appear outwardly only in proportion to the development of spiritual consciousness within. Disaster results from accepting appearances and feeling that perhaps you do not deserve God’s blessings, and that He is not paying attention to your needs.
If you will learn to sing in prison, and never to fear, even in the valley of the shadow of death, you are acknowledging that “I have meat”—the Word of God—and that will bring you through all forms of discord. Many times we may feel that error is responsible for our inharmonies, and in so doing we violate the first commandment. All power is in God. The darkness of discord may be a step to bring us to God, for God works in mysterious ways to give us the lessons and, thereby, the blessings we need.
“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Rom. 8:26.)
This may seem a startling statement, but you do not know how to pray, and if you are obedient to the Voice of the Spirit you never will know how to pray! The further
along the Spiritual Path you travel, the nearer you come to the place where you let God do the praying, and it is then you let the Spirit pray in you, bear witness, make intercession for you. God knows far more about prayer and what to pray for, what you need and how to present it than you do.
You know not what to pray for; you know not how to go out or how to come in; you know not what your need will be tomorrow. Therefore, the only way you have of praying is: “Father, pray. Reveal Thyself, the activity of Thy Being in me and through me. Let the Spirit make intercession for me.” In one of my recent writings, I made much of the fact that the “I” is a devil. The personal “I” which calls itself Joel, or Mary, or Bill, is really a devil, because it takes unto itself powers it does not possess. The word “I”, wrongly used, can interfere with your demonstration, and even the thought that “I can give a treatment”, or “I can pray”, can be a hindrance.
Much better results follow when you have learned to make your statements of Truth merely for the sake of raising yourself in consciousness. When you come to that period of quiet, of listening, of peace, say: “Father, I know not how to pray, nor what to pray for. I know not how to pray to become free of disease or discord.” Then let the Father pray! Let the Father reveal the activity of His thoughts. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” Therefore, listen to the Lord’s thoughts, and let the Lord have His way in you. You come to a very high state of spiritual illumination as you realize that you do not know how to pray, and that all you can do is to learn to listen and let the Father reveal Himself within you.
All power is in God, so let us be receptive and responsive to that Power and Presence of God, and It will do all things through us—even pray! It will not answer our prayers; It will not fulfill our desires; but It will fulfill Its own desires in us!
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27.)
I would like you to meditate upon this statement for many days to come—a week, or two or three—until the Father within reveals to you what the Master meant when He said, “My peace” . . . not as the world giveth. . . .” The world has the power to give you only a human sense of peace. You might call it an absence of war and animality, an absence of hate and revenge. But that is not “My peace.” “My peace” is a very spiritual thing. It is something that can better be understood through the word “Grace.” It is a state of peace that has in it no thought of humanhood or human values—it is a state of divine being. You can bring this state of divine being into your experience. You can, through pondering and meditating upon this statement, ultimately achieve an awareness of its inner meaning, and find within yourself this state of Grace descending. In scripture, this state of Grace is called the descent of the Holy Ghost. It is a release from humanhood— from human standards and values, and even from human good. It is something higher
than human good—it is something divine; it is something not of this world; it is something straight from God.
Prayer, in The Infinite Way acceptance of the word, is totally unlike the accepted dictionary meaning of petitioning, supplicating, beseeching. While pondering words and all their varieties of meanings, my thought turned to how these words came into being: how feeling had first become caged in the form of words, and so became generally accepted to have much the same meaning the world over. In thinking of the feelings embodied in certain words, I was then in a state of meditative prayer. In this quiet, contemplative state my thought turned to the Psalms of David, and how his Psalms were prayers.
Many times he poured forth his personal sense of anguish, remorse, doubt, but always he came back to the understanding of his true relationship to God. Then his prayer became a song of praise and thanksgiving, and awareness of his relationship to God. Prayer then can be a cleansing agent, a clearance of old beliefs, a “cleansing of the temple,” and sometimes this cleansing can take the form of a whip—a lash to drive out the belief that our bodies can be other than “the temple of the living God.” Only the Christ performs this type of prayer, because only the Christ knows when the temple is being desecrated.
The natural man can give many good reasons why the money-changers should be in the temple. So, then, an important function of prayer is listening for the Christ—silently, expectantly listening for Its interpretation, and then following through by obedience. Only those of pioneer dispositions or with an adventurous spirit within can get the utmost from prayer. The word itself, having a supplicatory association, would disguise this fact, but anyone having explored the path of prayer for any period of time can tell you it is a glorious new adventure in living—the opening up of an heretofore unexplored realm. The dropping away of horizons is perhaps the first step; then old concepts slough off, one by one, and you begin to find you have never known your “Self.” Try it, and through the gateway of prayer, “Acquaint now thyself with Him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee.” (A Student.)
The Power of Secrecy
“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye
have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have the glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men.
Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” (Matt. 6:1-6.)
Secrecy is one of the profound and powerful principles of harmonious and joyous living, and only those who have discovered the world of secrecy can realize its beauty, peace and Grace. Rightly understood, The Infinite Way reveals that we do not pray, but rather that God utters His Word—and it is done. We do not pray: we hear the “still, small Voice” declaring His Truth within us, and this is prayer. Only in Silence, and “in the secret place of the most High” can we become aware of the Divine Presence, and thereby be in prayer. And this prayer is openly fulfilled in the harmonies, joys and peace of our daily experience. “ . . . do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have the glory of men . . . they have their reward.”
Indeed, to give alms, to give assistance and to share, brings a reward in the regard of men. But to do these secretly is to gain the Grace of God, the recognition of Love, and thereby God’s bounty is openly received. The reward for praying in public is in the regard received from men, but only those who have learned to pray “in secret” may experience the Grace of God in answering prayer.
To give, or to pray, where others may witness and possibly praise, is to glorify self, and this is a violation of Christ’s Law. The law of self is eliminated when the gift and the prayer are secret. God is the only Giver, and so praise of the self, or glory drawn to the self, leaves one outside the realm or benefit of the Law. Giving in secret is the recognition of God as the real Giver, and thereby the glory rightly belongs and goes to the Father.
When fasting from the indulgences of the senses, we are not to make evident to the world that we are refraining from the world’s standards: instead, let us appear outwardly as men, while living inwardly as Saints. Hereby Spiritual Law is fulfilled. It is possible to observe this principle or its violation in our own experience. For a few days take heed, and mark how much of self is praised, thanked and recognized in the acts of giving and praying. Then for a while, give and pray in secret where no one can know the source of the benefits received, and notice now how self, self-benefit and selfglory have been absent and, naturally, how all recognition and praise is given to the Divine Source of all Good. It is in this deflation of self that the Christ is fulfilled.
The Master teaches much of praying for our enemies; for those who despitefully use us and persecute us; for those who do evil. This manner of prayer is but the recognition of God as the Father, the Life and the Law unto all men; the awareness that God’s Love to His Children is evidenced in much forgiveness; the realization that Christ holds no man in bondage to his sins, but graciously utters, “Neither do I condemn thee . . . Thy sins are forgiven.”
How but in secret and in silence can we receive such wisdom from the Father, and feel such love for mankind—even those who hate us? If we voice such sentiments aloud, is it not merely that we may be praised for our great spirit of love and forgiveness, whereas actually we are but the instruments through which God’s love and God’s forgiveness reaches the world? Since “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof . . .” actually we have nothing to give to anyone, that is, nothing that belongs to us, except by His Grace.
Is it not fitting then that our giving be in secret that only the Father may receive thanks, praise and glory? Thus the elimination of the self is the fulfilling of Love’s Law. We are admonished: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” Spiritually, we understand this to mean that we are not to judge man by appearances, but consciously to know and understand the spiritual nature of his being; to recognize Spirit as the law and source and activity of individual being. To look upon man as he appears to be—mortal, material, finite, sick, well, rich, poor—is to bear false witness against him. To recognize and realize Christ as the true identity of everyone, and to understand Love as man’s true nature, is to pray for him.
Each day it is our privilege and duty to retire into our secret chamber of consciousness, and pray this prayer of realization for those of our household, our business, our community, our nation, and this giving of our understanding, of our time and our devotion will be rewarded in His Grace literally appearing as our sufficiency in all things.
In order that we may fill ourselves with the Spirit of God, which is the wine of inspiration, the living water that is to spring into newness of life, we must empty ourselves of whatever thoughts, beliefs and opinions that act to separate us from the Presence and the Power of God. Before this inspiration can flow, and before we can receive the assurance of God’s Presence and Power, we must empty ourselves of our conceits, our egotisms, and our beliefs that we, of ourselves, are sufficient to live this life.
To bring this about—this emptying of ourselves—we turn to scripture: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Never has prayer gone unanswered. Never has anyone prayed and not received an answer and a blessing. We may doubt this because we earnestly believed that we have prayed. Many times we believed that we have lived constantly in prayer, but now we learn that we have prayed amiss unless we have gone to God with an understanding of the nature of God and the nature of prayer.
When we declare that we are to lean not unto our own understanding, but that we are to acknowledge God in all our ways, we must know how this is to be done. And so we turn to the Master, and seek from Him guidance in the understanding of the nature of God and prayer. In the 12th Chapter of Luke, we read: “And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.
The life is more than meat, and the body more than raiment. . . . For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock: for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Here we see that we are not to ask God for the things of the world, because He knoweth we have need of these things. Perhaps it is in this way that we have failed in our understanding of prayer, because if we have asked God for safety, security, peace, supply or employment we have prayed amiss. God is the all-understanding Mind, the all-wise Father, the Divine Intelligence of the universe, and it is absurd to tell Him of our needs.
We also see that God is Divine Love, because it is His good pleasure to give us the kingdom. It is not God’s will that we want or lack for any good, nor is it God’s will that we petition and beseech for our good. Just as it is our great pleasure to give to our children, much more so is it the pleasure of the Father to give us all that is necessary for our good. Now that we know something of the nature of God and something of the nature of prayer, we can relax. Be still, be silent, and from the depths of this inner Silence comes the Spirit which appears as our cloud by day and our pillar of fire by night. From the depths of this inner Silence comes forth the healing water that brings everlasting life. From the depths of this Silence comes the Peace of God, and once this peace has descended there is nothing to fear: the prayer is complete—“Fear not, little flock.”
All prayer or communion with God is for only one purpose—to achieve this sense of peace within; to achieve the realization that “. . . lo, I am with you alway.” Let us have that sense of Divine Presence now and we will have answered prayer. Let us fail to achieve this sense of peace and the prayer is not a prayer. The feeling of the Presence is in itself a prayer. Let us understand this: our problem is at an end, not when we think we have found a solution, but when we have felt this inner peace.
In “My Presence” the fires do not burn, the waters do not drown, the storms do not rage. The power of Christ is the answer to every form of discord. Above all, let us remember that God is the all-knowing Mind, the ever-loving Father who knows our every need, even before we do, and that it is His good pleasure to give us the kingdom. And as we ponder the revelation of the Master, we will hear it said within our own being: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” “My Presence” goes before you. Lean not unto your own understanding—acknowledge this Presence!