1959 Maui Advanced Work
Joel S. Goldsmith
247B – The Spiritual or Mystical Life
Noontime is another opportunity for gratitude. Whether or not we recite our thanks openly at the table in the form of grace, as it is often said; or whether we do it silently, sacredly, secretly, within us, is a matter really of our own choice, and that dependent, of course, on our background. Actually, if we were to take the words of Christ Jesus literally, we would say grace silently, secretly, sacredly; where no man could hear us; and no man could observe that we are praying; that we are giving thanks and praise. For we are told in Matthew, that when we pray, do not pray where you can be seen of men, go into your sanctuary and pray, and the Father that seeth in secret will reward thee openly. That doesn’t exclude the opportunity of uniting in church, in temple, in synagogue or meetinghouse to unite in prayer and thanksgiving. Oh no! That is merely carrying out, where two or more are gathered together, in My name. That is merely another occasion. But let it not be believed that we must limit our prayers to those occasions. We must pray as Paul taught, without ceasing, and that means that we really should take more opportunity for praying silently, secretly, sacredly than even those opportunities for public worship.
It has been said many, many times, that “to live the life of Christ is an impossibility in this modern age.” Any such statement is sacrilegious and untruthful. It is possible to live the Christ life in this age. It is true that at first it may make one seem strange to others. But we need not make a public display of our life in Christ; we can let it be seen by its effects. Just as every student of ours has been taught not to proselyte; not to boast, not to brag, but rather to keep the fingers on the lips, and let one’s life bear witness to the principle that we live by.
Oh, I have heard students tell me how difficult it was when their friends smoked, but they didn’t. Their friends took a cocktail or highball, but they didn’t. I realize that. I realize how strange it is when our students first begin to withdraw from those conversations or parties where jokes of an off-color nature are told, or do not participate in that. I realize that it’s a little strange, but it’s not impossible and it’s not even difficult; it is only a little strange at first.
Very, very soon we find a miracle. The very people who at first thought us strange, now begin to honor us—that we are not slaves of tobacco, or of alcohol, or of drugs; that we are not indulging in the immoralities or the obscenities of part of this human world; and we find that we are more highly respected for those qualities than even in the beginning we were ridiculed for them.
In the same way, it has been said that businessmen cannot follow the golden rule. One need only examine into such businesses as that of J.C. Penny, or the Golden Rule Tailors of Cincinnati, which is a national organization, to see how ridiculous that is. To see how possible it is to live by these principles. There are millions of people who have pointed out that they cannot tithe, because 10% of their income is too much to give to a spiritual activity … they can’t afford it. They would only have to look at men who are now giving 60, 70 and 80% of their income to spiritual activities, and still have wealth left over, every year to know that it’s a fallacy, to believe that there is anyone on earth who cannot tithe … if, if he can meet the requirements of tithing. Probably I shouldn’t have said requirements, because there is only one requirement to tithing, only one; one has to feel gratitude for one’s spiritual activity, if one has gratitude for that, 10% becomes a very small amount out of a hundred percent.
If one’s spiritual activity brings peace of heart, peace of mind, peace of soul, and sometimes even bodily comfort, physical health, moral stamina, 10% is very little. But let no one believe that they will be rewarded by giving that 10%, for one cannot bargain with God. That 10% is a freewill offering of gratitude, with no strings attached, and if one cannot give it in that sense, let them not give it, let them cut it down to five percent, four percent, three percent, two percent, until such time as it begins to flow as gratitude. Then we find that gratitude is a quality of love and love is God. And the moment that gratitude is flowing, God is flowing; love is flowing; and all of the wheels of life are lubricated.
You must see this: That except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it. And, this statement must not be used as a cliché; it must not be used as a quotation; it must not be used as an affirmation. It must be understood, that it means this: before undertaking any activity, and certainly this means the day’s experience in the morning, do not expect too much of that day, if you haven’t had the actual experience of God contact and have had that inner assurance: “I am on the field.”
The God experience is not a mental one, and it is not an intellectual one. All that we know mentally or intellectually is merely a footstep leading to the experience of God contact or God realization—whatever term you wish to use, for the actual experience of being in the presence of God and knowing it.
You see, prayer in its true sense is a communion with God. It is not begging God; it is not beseeching God; it is not asking God; it is a communion with God. A communion with God can only be held in silence, even though at the start of that communion we may find it necessary to mentally rehearse—remember consciously some of these passages of scripture. That helps to bring concentration to the mind; it helps to quiet it; and then, then when this quiet does descend upon us, then begins the experience of prayer or communion, in which we may feel, rather then say, “Speak Lord Thy servant heareth. I am listening for that still small voice;” and then, with receptive heart, with quiet mind, be still—one minute, two minutes, maybe three—and eventually there comes that inner feeling of peace or release.
Often, the voice Itself is heard, with specific messages. Most often it is not the voice, but it is an awareness, a feeling of a presence within—a gentle presence, a restful or peaceful influence. Sometimes it comes as a release, as if all of a sudden the weight were gone off the shoulder, and oh, and then we know that we’re in the presence of God and that presence goes before us to make the crooked places straight. That presence is with us, that is the presence that performeth, that which is given us to do. Now we can say; “The house will be built; the watching will take place for God is on the field.”
To pray without ceasing—and this is the sum and substance of the spiritual or mystical life—means that on every occasion of day and night we permit ourselves to have a conscious thought of God, in one way or another. That regardless of what we’re doing, that there is an area of consciousness, always alive and alert, in which we are receptive to whatever may come, at any hour of the day or night. It really means that on retiring at night, that one dare not fall asleep without the conscious realization that “my Father worketh,” even when I’m asleep. I am receptive and responsive to the divine impulse, even when I’m asleep. I am never so deeply asleep that I cannot be quickly wakened by the Spirit, if it has a message for me—a direction, a protection.