|spiritual writings | retreat center directory|
"If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a defeatist or negative thought."
Living the Spiritual Life
In the beginning I undertook my walking not only to contact people, I undertook it as a prayer discipline to keep me concentrated on my prayer for peace. I hadn't learned yet to pray without ceasing. I also undertook a forty-five day period of prayer and fasting as a prayer discipline.
After the first few years the prayer discipline was completely unnecessary, because I had learned to pray without ceasing. I made the contact so thoroughly that into my prayer consciousness I put any condition or person in the world I am concerned about and the rest takes place automatically.
Occasionally some condition is brought back into my conscious mind because I need to really concentrate on it. If some person is in dire difficulty, and that person returns to my mind for thought, I sometimes use the prayer of visualization, which has always been very natural for me, but I understand not so for everybody.
I reach out -- my divine nature reaches out -- to contact their divine nature. Then I have the feeling of lifting them, lifting them, lifting them, and I have the feeling of bringing God's light to them. I try to envision them bathed in God's light, and finally I do see them standing and reaching out their arms bathed in golden light. At that point I leave them in God's hands.
In all people I meet -- though some may be governed by the self-centered nature and may not know their potential at all -- I see that divine spark, and that's what I concentrate on. All people look beautiful to me; they look like shining lights to me. I always have the feeling of being thankful for these beautiful people who walk the earth with me.
So I would say part of my prayer is a feeling of thankfulness, and of course a feeling of genuine love for all of God's children and all of God's creation. Prayer is a concentration of positive thoughts. That's a little bit about prayer.
Several times people have written to me and said, "Peace, will you pray with me at four o'clock in the afternoon or nine o'clock in the evening, which is such and such a time, daylight saving time?" I write and tell them, "You don't have to figure all that out for me -- plug in at anytime and you will be praying with me, and I will be praying with you, because I pray without ceasing."
Praying without ceasing is not ritualized, nor are there even words. It is a constant state of awareness of oneness with God; it is a sincere seeking for a good thing; and it is a concentration on the thing sought, with faith that it is obtainable. All right prayer has good effect, but if you give your whole life to the prayer you multiply its power...No one really knows the full power of prayer. Of course, there is a relationship between prayer and action. Receptive prayer results in an inner receiving, which motivates to right action.
Let me tell you a story about an answer to prayer. I was picked up late one night by a young policeman as I was walking along a lonely highway. I believe he was thinking in terms of protective custody. He said to me, "Why, nobody in this town would walk out along this highway at this time of night."
I said to him, "Well, you see, I walk completely without fear. Therefore I'm not attracting things which are not good. It says, That which I feared came upon me. But fear nothing and expect only good."
He took me in anyhow, and I found myself in a cell. The floor was littered with old newspapers and cigarette butts and every old thing. The accommodations consisted of a single mattress on the floor and four ragged blankets. There were two women attempting to sleep together on that single mattress. They told me there had been eight women in that cell the night before with those accommodations. There was a rather nice feeling among the prisoners in general. They said to me, "You'll need to have two blankets because you'll be sleeping on the floor." So I took a newspaper and cleared a place on the floor, then put one blanket down and the other blanket over me and slept comfortably enough.
It wasn't the first time I had slept on a cement floor, nor the last. If you're relaxed you can sleep anywhere. When I woke up in the morning I saw this man staring through the bars. I said to him,
"What time does court convene?" He said, "I don't know." I said, "Well, aren't you a policeman?" "No," he said, "I just like to look at the girls." It was one of the town sports. Anyone could come in right off the street and see what they had there today: "Let's go look at the girls!"
One of the women was middle aged and was being held for being drunk and disorderly. It was her seventh offense, she told me, so it wasn't so hard on her. But the other was an eighteen year old girl. She felt her entire life was ruined because of this experience. I said, "It's my second time and I certainly don't think my life is ruined!" I got her all cheered up and we talked about what she'd do when she got out. She was to get out that day or the next day.
Then they changed the guards. I never saw a matron. The new guard saw me and said, "What are you doing in there? I saw your picture in the newspaper. I heard you over the air." Then they just let me go.
But before I left I got a broom from the man who cleaned up around there and gave it to the girls so they could clean up their cell. I also got them a comb; their hair was all matted. They had been there about a week without a comb.
What I really wanted to tell you is that the eighteen year old girl was a deeply religious person. She had been desperately praying for help. I believe that I was picked up off the highway that night and set behind prison bars in answer to her prayers.
The most important part of prayer is what we feel, not what we say. We spend a great deal of time telling God what we think should be done, and not enough time waiting in the stillness for God to tell us what to do.
Now, beside God's laws, which are the same for all of us, there is also God's guidance and that is unique for every human soul. If you don't know what God's guidance for your life is, you might try seeking in receptive silence. I used to walk receptive and silent amidst the beauties of nature. Wonderful insights would come to me which I then put into practice in my life.
You might prefer listening to beautiful, uplifting music, reading a few beautiful words and pondering on them. To me, the beauties of nature were always the most inspiring, and so actually that was my time alone with God. It didn't last more than an hour, if that, and I got so much from it.
Now the young folks talk to me today about things like breathing exercises and meditation techniques, which in some cultures are definitely religious practices. But I say, look what I got from my time alone with God: from the beauty around me, my inspiration; from the silent receptiveness, my meditation; and from my walking, not only my exercise but my breathing. Four things at once! I believe in making very good use of my time. And you can't be too pushy when you're doing four things at once.
Foolish people have sometimes used very strenuous breathing exercises or meditation techniques that tore them apart and pushed them into an undesirable state instead of into the spiritual state. (Yes, that was long before psychedelic drugs!) I always think of the bud of a flower. If you give it proper conditions it will open into a beautiful flower, but if you're impatient and try to tear the petals open you permanently injure the flower for the earth life. The flower can be equated with the earthly human life. Give the spiritual growing-up the proper growing conditions and it will open into a thing of beauty.
I have been asked about my forty-five day period of prayer and fasting. I undertook it as a prayer discipline, to keep me concentrated on my prayer for peace. It was in the second year of my pilgrimage when I was coming slowly back across the country and I wasn't walking extensively.
Fasting can have a great deal of spiritual significance, and though I had already found inner peace, it may have been that the fast helped me to learn to pray without ceasing.
While I fasted I was at the home of a chiropractor who used fasting for healing. He wanted to see how a well person would react to a fast because he had never fasted a well person. I talked to him as a friend; he just observed me, he didn't examine me. (There are many doctors, including medical doctors, who are my friends -- but none of them have ever treated me or even examined me. Although occasionally a dentist friend will repair an old cavity which came from my poor eating habits in younger days.) The last meal before my fast was a grapefruit and two oranges, so I wasn't thirsty. The first three days were undertaken without food or water. After that I took distilled water at room temperature. Nothing else. And when I broke my fast it was not unusual -- it was the regular way to break a fast. The juice of one freshly squeezed orange every hour the first day. The juice of two freshly squeezed oranges, alternating with the juice of one grapefruit, every two hours the second day. A grapefruit and two oranges three times the third day, and after that adding a little bit until in a week I was able to eat full rations.
It was no different from the usual pattern of fasting. I did obey the laws of fasting: no extreme exertion. I did not walk long distances, though I did walk some. I did some typing for the doctor. I typed until he took the typewriter away about a month along in the fast. He didn't think I ought to handle it anymore, so then I wrote by hand, which was really harder than typing. But I do the best I can with these things.
I didn't go in and talk to his patients as much as I would have liked to because he didn't want me to move around that much. I did go to see them occasionally to help keep up their spirits.
Once during my fast -- I remember I was in a state between wakefulness and sleep -- I looked up and saw a dismal cross above me. It was just hanging there, and I knew someone must take up the burden. I reached up to accept it and I was immediately lifted above the cross where all was light and beauty. All that was needed was the willingness to accept the burden -- and then I was raised above it. Instead of hardships, I found a wonderful sense of peace and joy.
The Power of Thought.
Are you a slave to your self-centered nature, or does your divine nature guide your life? Do you know that every moment of your life you're creating through thought? You create your own inner condition; you're helping create the conditions around you.
Christian teachings tell us that: 'As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.' Which is saying very clearly that we are creating the conditions around us. If we could look a bit more deeply into life, we might see that physical difficulties are reflections of spiritual difficulties, and that negative thoughts and feelings are much more harmful than disease germs.
If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a defeatist or negative thought. Since we create through thought, we need to concentrate very strongly on positive thoughts. If you think you can't do something, you can't. But if you think you can, you may be surprised to discover that you can. It is important that our thoughts be constantly for the best that could happen in a situation -- for the good things we would like to see happen.
I have met some New Age people who had heard some prediction of disaster and were actually concentrating on that. What a terrible thing to do! Why, we're creating every moment of our lives through thought. And we're helping to create the conditions around us.
When you hear of any predictions of disaster there's a reason for it. The reason is that you are to throw the entire weight of your positive thought in the opposite direction.
For instance, when there were dozens of predictions that half of California was to slide into the sea from a terrible earthquake, I deliberately planned to be in that section of California. There wasn't a tremor. But I missed some of my friends who were on the east coast, playing it safe.
Religion is not an end in itself. One's union with God is the ultimate goal. There are so many religions because immature people tend to emphasize trivial differences instead of important likenesses. Differences between faiths lie in creeds and rituals rather than religious principles.
How diverse the many paths seem to be at times, but do they not all come together eventually upon the same mountaintop? Are they not all striving for the same thing?
If you are guided toward a faith, use it as a stepping stone to God, not as a barrier between yourself and God's other children or as a tower to hold you aloft from others. If you are not guided toward a faith (or even if you are) seek God in the silence -- seek within.
When we attempt to isolate another we only isolate ourselves. We are all God's children and there are no favorites. God is revealed to all who seek; God speaks to all who will listen. Be still and know God.
I read the King James version of the New Testament in its entirety and some excerpts from the Old Testament just after the beginning of my pilgrimage. They are important books to a great number of people, and I felt the need to inquire of their contents in order to make my outreach to others more complete. Yes, the Bible contains a great many truths, but most often these truths are not really understood. People replace the spirit of the law with the letter of the law and truth becomes distorted into falsehood. If you desire confirmation of a truth, it is best to seek it from within and not upon a printed page.
You will note that Jesus says, "Why do you call me `Lord, Lord' and do not what I say?" He expresses this thought more than once. Therefore, it seems to me that a real Christian would be living by the laws of God that Jesus taught. Jesus also says, "Say not, `Lo here' or `Lo there', for behold, the Kingdom of God is within you." In so many illustrations he tells people what they are capable of. Real Christians would allow their lives to be governed by the Kingdom of God within -- by the God-centered nature -- which is sometimes called the indwelling Christ.
Many people profess Christianity. Very few live it -- almost none. And when you live it people may think you're crazy. It has been truthfully said that the world is equally shocked by one who repudiates Christianity and by one who practices it.
I believe Jesus would accept me because I do what he told people to do. This doesn't mean, though, that all who call themselves Christian would accept me. Of course I love and appreciate Jesus and I wish Christians would learn to obey his commandments. It would be a most wonderful world.
The Way of Love:
Evil cannot be overcome by more evil. Evil can only be overcome by good. It is the lesson of the way of love. The contest in the world today is between the old way of attempting to overcome evil with evil, which with modern weapons would lead to complete chaos, and the way of overcoming evil with good, which would lead to a glorious and mature life.
We need not reach out to tear down that which is evil because nothing which is contrary to God's laws can endure. All not-good things in the world are transient, containing within themselves the seeds of their own destruction. We can help them to fade away more quickly only insofar as we remain in obedience to God's law that evil must be overcome with good. Those who create something which is evil in order to overcome something else which is evil only double the evil.
God's laws are implemented constantly, for everything out of harmony is on its way out. How can anyone doubt that eventually God will prevail? It is only how soon that is up to us. And with how much violence they will pass away is also up to us. Insofar as we are willing to let them go, there will be less violence -- insofar as we have been able to build the new within the old, there will be less violence; so let us work on that. Let us help the phoenix to rise from the ashes, let us help lay the foundation for a new renaissance, let us help to accelerate the spiritual awakening until it lifts us into the golden age which would come!
In order to help usher in the golden age we must see the good in people. We must know it is there, no matter how deeply it may be buried. Yes, apathy is there and selfishness is there -- but good is there also. It is not through judgment that the good can be reached, but through love and faith.
Pure love is a willingness to give, without a thought of receiving anything in return. Love can save the world from nuclear destruction. Love God: turn to God with receptiveness and responsiveness. Love your fellow human beings: turn to them with friendliness and givingness. Make yourself fit to be called a child of God by living the way of love.