To know that the spirit of Infinite wisdom and power which is the creating, the moving, and the sustaining force in all life, thinks and acts in and through us as our own very life, in the degree that we consciously and deliberately desire it to become the guiding and the animating force in our lives, and open ourselves fully to its leadings, and follow its leadings, is to attain to that state of conscious oneness with the Divine that Jesus realised, lived and revealed, and that he taught as the method of the natural and the normal life for all men.
We are so occupied with the matters of the sense-life that all unconsciously we become dominated, ruled by the things of the senses. Now in the real life there is the recognition of the fact that the springs of life are all from within, and that the inner always leads and rules the outer. Under the elemental law of Cause and Effect this is always done - whether we are conscious of it or not. But the difference lies here: The master of life consciously and definitely allies himself in mind and spirit with the great central Force and rules his world from within. The creature of circumstances, through lack of desire or through weakness of will, fails to do this, and, lacking guiding and directing force, drifts and becomes thereby the creature of circumstance.
One of deep insight has said: " That we do not spontaneously see and know God, as we see and know one another, and so manifest the God-nature as we do the sense-nature, is because that nature is yet latent, and in a sense slumbering within us. Yet the God-nature within us connects us as directly and vitally with the Being and Kingdom of God within, behind, and above the world, as does the sense-nature with the world external to us. Hence as the sense-consciousness was awakened and established by the recognition of and communication with the outward world through the senses, so the God-consciousness must be awakened by the corresponding recognition of, and communication with the Being and Kingdom of God through intuition - the spiritual sense of the inner man. ... The true prayer - the prayer of silence - is the only door that opens the soul to the direct revelation of God, and brings thereby the realisation of the God-nature in ourselves."
As the keynote to the world of sense is activity, so the keynote to spiritual light and power is quiet. The individual consciousness must be brought into harmony with the Cosmic consciousness. Paul speaks of the " sons of God." And in a single sentence he describes what he means by the term - " For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." An older prophet has said: " The Lord in the midst of thee is mighty." Jesus with his deep insight perceived the identity of his real life with the Divine life, the indwelling Wisdom and Power, - the " Father in me." The whole course of his ministry was his attempt " to show those who listened to him how he was related to the Father, and to teach them that they were related to the same Father in exactly the same way."
There is that within man that is illumined and energised through the touch of His spirit. We can bring our minds into rapport, into such harmony and connection with the infinite Divine mind that it speaks in us, directs us, and therefore acts through us as our own selves. Through this connection we become illumined by Divine wisdom and we become energised by Divine power. It is ours, then, to act under the guidance of this higher wisdom and in all forms of expression to act and to work augmented by this higher power. The finite spirit, with all its limitations, becomes at its very centre in rapport with Infinite spirit, its Source. The finite thereby becomes the channel through which the Infinite can and does work.
To use an apt figure, it is the moving of the switch whereby we connect our wires as it were with the central dynamo which is the force that animates, that gives and sustains life in the universe. It is making actual the proposition that was enunciated by Emerson when he said: " Every soul is not only the inlet, but may become the outlet of all there is in God." Significant also in this connection is his statement: " The only sin is limitation." It is the actualising of the fact that in Him we live and move and have our being, with its inevitable resultant that we become " strong in the Lord and in the power of His might." There is perhaps no more valuable way of realising this end, than to adopt the practice of taking a period each day for being alone in the quiet, a half hour, even a quarter hour; stilling the bodily senses and making oneself receptive to the higher leadings of the spirit - receptive to the impulses of the soul. This is following the master's practice and example of communion with the Father. Things in this universe and in human life do not happen. All is law and sequence. The elemental law of cause and effect is universal and unvarying. In the realm of spirit law is as definite as in the realm of mechanics - in the realm of all material forces.
If we would have the leading of the spirit, if we would perceive the higher intuitions and be led intuitively, bringing the affairs of the daily life thereby into the Divine sequence, we must observe the conditions whereby these leadings can come to us, and in time become habitual.
The law of the spirit is quiet - to be followed by action - but quiet, the more readily to come into a state of harmony with the Infinite Intelligence that works through us, and that leads us as our own intelligence when through desire and through will, we are able to bring our subconscious minds into such attunement that it can act through us, and we are able to catch its messages and follow its direction. But to listen and to observe the conditions whereby we can listen is essential.
Jesus' own words as well as his practice apply here. After his admonition against public prayer, or prayer for show, or prayer of much speaking, he said: " 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." Now there are millions of men, women, and children in the world who have no closets. There are great numbers of others who have no access to them sometimes for days, or weeks, or months at a time. It is evident, therefore, that in the word that has been rendered closet he meant - enter into the quiet recesses of your own soul that you may thus hold communion with the Father.
Now the value of prayer is not that God will change or order any laws or forces to suit the numerous and necessarily the diverse petitions of any. All things are through law, and law is fixed and inexorable. The value of prayer, of true prayer, is that through it one can so harmonise his life with the Divine order that intuitive perceptions of truth and a greater perception and knowledge of law becomes his possession. As has been said by an able contemporary thinker and writer: " We cannot form a passably thorough notion of man without saturating it through and through with the idea of a cosmic inflow from outside his world life - the inflow of God. Without a large consciousness of the universe beyond our knowledge, few men, if any, have done great things.
I shall always remember with great pleasure and profit a call a few days ago from Dr. Edward Emerson of Concord, Emerson's eldest son. Happily I asked him in regard to his father's methods of work - if he had any regular methods. He replied in substance: " It was my father's custom to go daily to the woods - to listen. He would remain there an hour or more in order to get whatever there might be for him that day. He would then come home and write into a little book - his ' day-book' - what he had gotten. Later on when it came time to write a book, he would transcribe from this, in their proper sequence and with their proper connections, these entrances of the preceding weeks or months. The completed book became virtually a ledger formed or posted from his day-books."
* Henry Holt in " Cosmic Relations."
The prophet is he who so orders his life that he can adequately listen to the voice, the revelations of the over soul, and who truthfully transcribes what he hears or senses. He is not a follower of custom or of tradition. He can never become and can never be made the subservient tool of an organisation. His aim and his mission is rather to free men from ignorance, superstition, credulity, from half truths, by leading them into a continually larger understanding of truth, of law - and therefore of righteousness.
It was more than a mere poetic idea that Lowell gave utterance to when he said:
The thing we long for, that we are For one transcendent moment.
To establish this connection, to actualise this God-consciousness, that it may not be for one transcendent moment, but that it may become constant and habitual, so that every thought arises, and so that every act goes forth from this centre, is the greatest good that can come into the possession of man. There is nothing greater. It is none other than the realisation of Jesus' injunction - "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." It is then that he said - Do not worry about your life. Your mind and your will are under the guidance of the Divine mind; your every act goes out under this direction and all things pertaining to your life will fall into their proper places. Therefore do not worry about your life.
When a man finds his centre, when he becomes centred in the Infinite, then redemption takes place. He is redeemed from the bondage of the senses. He lives thereafter under the guidance of the spirit, and this is salvation. It is a new life that he has entered into. He lives in a new world, because his outlook is entirely new. He is living now in the Kingdom of Heaven. Heaven means harmony. He has brought his own personal mind and life into harmony with the Divine mind and life. He becomes a coworker with God.
It is through such men and women that God's plans and purposes are carried out. They not only hear but they interpret for others God's voice. They are the prophets of our time and the prophets of all time. They are doing God's work in the world, and in so doing they are finding their own supreme satisfaction and happiness. They are not looking forward to the Eternal life. They realise that they are now in the Eternal life, and that there is no such thing as eternal life if this life that we are now in is not it. When the time comes for them to stop their labours here, they look forward without fear and with anticipation to the change, the transition to the other form of life - but not to any other life. The words of Whitman embody a spirit of anticipation and of adventure for them:
Joy, Shipmate, joy! (Pleas'd to my soul at death I cry) One life is closed, one life begun, The long, long anchorage we leave, The ship is clear at last, she leaps.
Joy, Shipmate, joy!
They have an abiding faith that they will take up the other form of life exactly where they left it off here. Being in heaven now they will be in heaven when they awake to the continuing beauties of the life subsequent to their transition. Such we might also say is the teaching of Jesus regarding the highest there is in life here and the best there is in the life hereafter.