CHAPTER ELEVEN: NOVEMBER 1957
FEW people understand the nature of gratitude. Just what is gratitude? Are human beings capable of gratitude? Actually, we should not expect gratitude from a person, and if we do expect it, we shall be disappointed because gratitude is beyond the capacity of a human being.
Many people believe that money and gratitude are synonymous, but in reality, they have no relationship to each other. There are times when money can be a symbol of gratitude, but it is a mistake to tie them together because gratitude goes far beyond money. For example, if we should ask a practitioner for help for a headache and attempted to express our gratitude in a monetary form, we might well believe that a nominal payment would be a sufficient expression of gratitude; but on the other hand, if we were healed of a cancer, we might feel that even if we took our last dollar and ran into debt besides, it would be a very small token of gratitude for such a healing. In both cases, we would be wrong, because gratitude for spiritual healing has no relationship at all to what has been healed.
Spiritual healing can only come through a realization of God. It can only take place when an individual has so dedicated himself to spiritual living that he becomes a transparency through which God can act; and when the Spirit of God flows through an individual, that Spirit of God can heal the headache or the cancer. There should be no difference in the degree of gratitude in either case because our gratitude should not be merely for the healing of a headache or for the healing of a cancer. No, we should be grateful because we have been privileged to be a living witness to the fact that God is as available on earth today as He was two thousand years ago. How, then, can we be more grateful for the presence of God in one case than in another?
The world at large does not have access to God because it has cut itself off from contact with God. Many people believe that if they go to church on Sunday or contribute to the poor-box, they are doing their duty to God. It is true that these activities, if engaged in with devotion and dedication, may be an expression of our love for God. But our relationship to God is something deeper than that; it must be a relationship of constant communion, with our lives lived in God.
As students on the way, let us learn to be grateful, not for a healing, not for supply, not for harmony in one form or another; but let us learn to be grateful for the realization of God’s presence. Let us be grateful that the omnipresence of God is our safety and security, our peace on earth. Let us learn to abide in the realization that God’s presence is our fortress, our high tower, and our eternal dwelling place.
Gratitude for the Realization of the Spirit
When we learn to express gratitude for any teaching, teacher, or practitioner, or any individual experience that brings God’s presence to our mind or body, then we are properly expressing gratitude. When we awaken in the morning and behold nature in any of its varied forms of beauty, we should remember that it is the activity of God that is responsible for that manifestation. The activity of God is responsible for every form of good we behold. If we observe the blossoming fruit trees or if we note the fruitage itself, remember that it is not the fruit; it is the Spirit, or a law of nature, which brought forth that fruitage, and it is that Spirit for which we should be grateful. Then we can use our fruit; then we can use our food or our money, letting them come and letting them go, because behind these is the Spirit which produced them. When our gratitude is for the Spirit that produces our healings or our supply, when our gratitude is for the Spirit that holds us in Its arms—the everlasting arms underneath us, in us, beneath us, above us, permeating us—when our gratitude is for that Spirit of God, then we are being truly grateful.
Such gratitude may have nothing to do with money, and yet at other times, it may direct us to give money, share money, or spend money. Words, in and of themselves, are often empty and meaningless. A perfunctory “thank you” can never be an adequate expression of gratitude. True gratitude often carries with it some tangible evidence of its sincerity, either in the form of money or service because gratitude, like love, is not an abstraction.
The important point to remember is to be grateful not for any form of good but for the Spirit which underlies that form, the Spirit which produces that form. We learn to be just as grateful when we witness the healing of a headache, indigestion, or a corn as we would be for the healing of cancer, consumption, or polio. Our response will always be, “What is the difference? What difference is there between the two?” We understand why the Master could walk up to the leper and touch the leprosy, or why he could say to the woman taken in adultery, “Neither do I condemn thee.”1 Whether a large or a small offense, a serious disease or a minor ailment, it was all the same to Jesus: These were but a sense of separation from God; Therefore his healings were quick and easy, whether it was leprosy, consumption, the impotent man sitting at the pool, the crippled man, or whether it was the young boy who was a corpse, or Peter’s mother-in-law. The forms of disease and the forms of sin meant nothing to him. He knew that the healing power was the Spirit of God, and that if the Spirit of God could be brought to the case, it made no difference what degree of error was presented.
Even the magnitude of the demand to feed the multitudes with only a few loaves and fishes did not disturb or frighten him. He knew that men are not fed by bread alone but by the Spirit of God, and when the Spirit of God is present, there is no limit to supply. If you have realized that Spirit of God, you will not have to be concerned about whether you have the responsibility of caring for one person or are required to take on the obligation of a whole family or community. If you try to provide for them through “bread alone,” then you will have your worries; but if you understand that you are feeding, supporting, supplying, and healing through the Spirit of God, the numbers or the amount of money involved will be of no concern to you. It may be fifty dollars or fifty thousand dollars, five people or five thousand. The number or amount will mean nothing in your experience because within you will be the recognition, “Numbers are of no interest to me. If I have the Spirit of God, it is complete; if I do not have the Spirit of God, I am defeated before I begin.”
Yes, even when it takes only one dollar to feed a person, he can starve without that dollar, and that dollar can be as hard for him to get as ten dollars might be for the next person. But when you are in agreement with this teaching of the Master that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, that it is the Spirit of God that feeds man and clothes him, that the Spirit of God heals, and that Peter and John revealed that the same Spirit that raised up Jesus Christ from the dead will quicken also your mortal body, this Spirit of God will meet your every need. When that Spirit is realized, you will not be concerned with whether the need is for ten dollars or ten hundred dollars because to the Spirit of God there is no limitation in any way or in any form.
With the true idea of gratitude, we have a principle that can result in a change in anyone’s life in far less than thirty days if he puts that principle into practice. At every lecture and in every class, or as the result of every lecture and every class, there are some people who come to me or write, telling me that from that moment their lives have been changed. I thank them, but inwardly I smile because I know that it was not the lecture or the class that did it: It was the use they made of it. It was what they did with what they heard that produced the change. Should you, for instance, embark upon a program of daily gratitude, not for things, but gratitude for the Spirit of God that underlies this universe, you will find a change in your life that will appear to you as a miracle in thirty days—in less than thirty days.
Be grateful that God is. When you come to that miracle-day in your life—that day when you have the clear realization that God is—you will never again be disturbed by any form of error; you will be able to laugh at it, and that will be the end of it. When that miracle-day arrives and you look out upon the world and witness the horrors it is experiencing, you will begin to understand that when men learn to know that God is, these discords will cease. All error will disappear from the face of the earth as we, individually, come to the realization: “God is. What have I to fear? Is there something apart from God? If there were, how could God be infinite? How could God be omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient—how could God be all in all—if there were reality or power to the discords in life?” So you will find, eventually, that most of the discords in your life touch you because of your acceptance of the universal belief that they have power.
End part 1/3