The Way of Prayer 2/5
1960 Chicago Open Class
Joel S. Goldsmith
The difference is one that all of you as students should know. Whatever exists on the material plane of life or the mental plane of life is capable of being used in two ways, either good or evil. All material force and power can be used for good and can be used for evil. All mental powers can be used for good or be used for evil. Just as in all of the primitive races, the Polynesians, the Aborigines, the South Americans and Central Americans, Africans, you will always find a type of priest who can bless and who can heal, and then right along side of that you will find a type of priest or kahuna who can curse and can kill. And all of this is because they are using the powers of the mind
And you know sufficiently yourselves now from your readings and your studying how there are those in the world who are a great blessing through using the powers of their mind for mankind’s good. And you also know those who use the powers of the mind for evil purposes, erroneous purposes, or negative purposes, even when it is not outright evil. And, as you will someday learn, more than you do now, the great harm that is done by hypnotism, even when it is used for a good purpose, it is being used erroneously, negatively, and ultimately for the destruction not only of those it is used upon but also those who use it. That is another subject, and we will not go into it at this time, more than to sketch that briefly.
When you come to the spiritual powers, that is, the powers of God, you come to an entirely different situation. First of all, no one on the face of the earth can use spiritual power. No one ever has, no one ever will be able to use a spiritual power, because spiritual power is Infinity, and you cannot imagine a mere man using Infinity or Omnipotence. But those on the spiritual path make themselves subject to spiritual power and become instruments through which spiritual power touches human life, human consciousness and blesses it. Here, of course, the outstanding example is that of Christ Jesus, who repeated over and over again, “I can of my own self do nothing. The Father doeth the works,” or “My doctrine is not mine but His that sent me,” or “If I speak of myself, I do witness to a lie.” In other words, I am but the servant of the most High. I am but the instrument through which this divine power reaches you, reaches human consciousness.
And so, on your journey through life, you can afford to be watchful and recognize instantly whether you are being led spiritually or humanly, by whether or not someone is trying to use a power for you or against you, whether someone is trying to use a power for a personal or a selfish purpose. Or whether you are safely on the spiritual path when you find your literature, or your leadership, or your teacher, recognising the fact that this ministry is one of God of which we can at best be a servant, an instrument, a transparency. And that we never can use God for your purpose or for anyone else’s, to bless you or anyone else, but God can use us through you.
Now, there was a time when this was so well known that you could not make a mistake. As you probably know, out of these ancient schools of wisdom or brotherhoods, there evolved that which was called ancient masonry of which modern masonry is a child, an offspring. Just as you could not go to the monastery of one of these brotherhoods or schools of wisdom and just enter because you wanted to or could pay five dollars a year dues, or a hundred dollars for instruction, you had to pass through very rigorous tests and give evidence of the fact that you were not entering for a personal or selfish motive, or one of immediate gain, or material gain, but that you were coming in the sense of dedication—dedicating your life to the most High and proving it by service to mankind. For if you say that you love God, whom you have not seen, and do not love your brother, whom you have seen, you are a liar.
In the same way then, as this early Masonic movement began, the same requirement appeared. No one was permitted to invite anyone to join this order. No one was permitted to solicit membership or proselyte. And one of the very strict rules was that a candidate for admission had to give definite evidence, and his promise, and his sworn word that he was seeking admission of his own free will and accord, and that he had no hopes of material or personal gain.
Now then, when you see this is symbolic, because this comes down to the heart of the real Christian work. When you ask yourself why you are embarking on a spiritual path or seeking a spiritual teaching, and certainly one such as ours here in The Infinite Way, you need to ask yourself frankly, “What am I seeking? Is it something of a material gain or of a personal gain? Is it name, or fame, or fortune? Do I hope to achieve some human, some material good or personal good?” If so, stop immediately. Stop, because the spiritual path is one that is not meant for achieving the things of this world.
Our Master says, “My kingdom is not of this world.” And he further says, “My peace give I unto thee, but not as the world giveth, give I unto thee.” Not the peace that you can get with wealth, or fame, or fortune. Not the peace that can come because of a home or human forms of good. But there is another form of peace, which emanates from My kingdom, from the spiritual universe. This does not mean that you need necessarily be an ascetic. Nor does it mean that you will not achieve success in your business or profession. Nor should it bar anyone from being a success in a spiritual ministry. As a matter of fact, there is no greater success than that of Christ Jesus and few any greater than that of Gautama the Buddha or John. But to enter a spiritual message with the idea of gain rather than entering with the idea of spiritual light, and illumination, and letting it perform its work in you, ah here you have something of a different nature.
Now, symbolically then, you are to understand that the reason for the difficulty that was thrown in an individual’s path when they sought entrance to schools of wisdom, or white brotherhoods, or any of the great schools of philosophy of the past was to make sure that that which they had to give was what you wanted. In other words, go back again to our friends, Peter and John, with the man at the temple gate beautiful, who was sitting there with a begging bowl. Peter and John say, “Silver and gold have I none. Such as I have give I unto thee.” And the beggar was receptive. Evidently, put away his begging bowl and was willing to accept that which Peter and John had and that was release from whatever it was that was holding that man in bondage. And he was able to spring up, and walk, and dance.
So, in going into these old orders, they had neither silver nor gold to give, neither name nor fame, and what they had to give was spiritual illumination—the transcendental Consciousness—which would lead one into harmony, into joys, into peace, into glories, but not always in the way that an individual would outline. With this for an understanding, it became possible to teach the initiate the secret of prayer.
Now, this secret of prayer has been lost, and it is known to but few on earth today and only to a few in every generation. I don’t have to remind you that, as general as the practice of prayer is, so much of a failure is prayer. For instance, those of you with white hair and those that should have white hair will remember that in World War I, we opened our churches seven days a week to pray for victory and to pray for peace, and nothing happened until the enemy had no more ammunition, and no more food, and no more steel, and no more of anything. And the war ended. And so you know that the prayers for victory and peace of tens of millions of people repeated tens of millions of times every day were just worthless prayers—waste of time, waste of energy that led nowhere but to frustration. And then, of course, you have had the opportunity of witnessing that in World War II, and in the Korean War, and now in recent years in the Cold War. And surely, the world has been so full of prayers that if they were worth the time it takes to utter them, there would have been some result.
And I don’t have to tell you how many times you’ve read things like this in the newspaper. Here is a story on the date of April 25th of The Associated Press. We’ll omit the name. A girl of ten received the nation’s prayers to spare her right hand from cancer. In 1949, the young girl asked readers of our local newspaper to pray that I may not lose my hand and that I may soon completely recover. And, of course, with such newspaper coverage, you know how many millions of people prayed for this ten-year-old child to save her hand. Millions, this article says, prayed for her. But doctors later decided that the right hand must be amputated to save her life. What became of those prayers? What was the use of them? Was that ten-year-old child so vicious, so bad that prayers couldn’t save her? Or was it that the millions who prayed for her were in no wise reaching God and therefore could not receive an answer from God?
Because you must remember that prayer, when it is correctly understood, does bring answers from God. If this were not true, you would have no Christian ministry. You would have no Christian teaching evolving from the Master, because he revealed that his mission was to do the will of his Father, and the will of his Father was that the sick be healed, the dead be raised, the blind have their eyes opened, the deaf have their ears unstopped, the poor be fed—and all of this through prayer.