Practicing the Presence

Book by Joel S. Goldsmith
 


How do we know when the Spirit of God dwells in us? If we are letting go of hate, envy, jealousy, malice, self-seeking, self-glorification, prejudice, and bigotry, we are making room for the Spirit of God, for God cannot dwell in the midst of such qualities. As long as these qualities are present in our consciousness, we have more work to do abiding in the truth and letting the truth abide in us, until such time as the Christ has come so alive that such mortal thoughts no longer touch us. Then the Spirit of God dwells in us, “which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. . . . Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”  (Chapter: “Spiritual Consciousness” 22)

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After many years spent in study and practice, mathematicians can give the answer to many a problem the moment it is stated; they do not require even paper and pencil for their calculations. An architect can draw a sketch of a beautiful home in such a short time that one marvels at his ability. An experienced lawyer becomes so familiar with statutes and court decisions that he either knows the law as it applies to a case or knows where to find it almost immediately; but if he were questioned as to his knowledge, he would probably say, “It has taken me twenty years to arrive at the place where I can do this.”

So it is with us. Every time we are called upon for help, God puts the necessary words in our mouth. Sometimes there are no words at all, just a smile. To a person experiencing financial difficulty, it may mean, “Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine”; to one alone feeling the need for companionship, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee”; to one struggling with a physical problem, “Thou are whole”; to one laboring under the weight of guilt, “Neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more.”

If we solve enough problems and seek to understand the truth behind issues and situations, day in and day out for one, two, three, or more years, we shall have all the answers available for instant use. Years and years of contemplating God and the things of God, meditating and communing with God, will have eliminated the necessity for taking thought for the things of this world. When a question arises, the right answer is immediately revealed. The listening attitude, the expectant attitude, developed through meditation, creates a kind of vacuum into which God rushes with those things of which we have need, whether it be wisdom, power, grace, or whatever may be necessary.  (Chapter: “Spiritual Consciousness” 24-25)

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. . . There is no denying the fact that this world today consists almost entirely of sin, disease, death, lack, limitation, wars and rumors of wars. Does that mean that God permits them? Not any more than the principle of mathematics is responsible for our mistakes in arithmetic or the principles of music for our mistakes in singing or in the playing of musical instruments.

According to Genesis, “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” Therefore, if there is a devil, God made it, and even the devil must be good. It is the setting up of the devil as evil and God as good which separates us from physical, mental, moral, and financial harmony. There is no mystery to evil. The Master’s teaching is very clear on this point:

      If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather
      them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

      If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall
      be done unto you.
      (John 15:6,7)

If we do not let this Word abide in us, we should not be surprised at anything that happens to us, but we have no right to blame God. If we are not showing forth the health, harmony, and wealth, which are our spiritual birthright,it is because we are not fulfilling the terms of the agreement.

The agreement is that if we dwell in the secret place of the most High, none of these evils will come nigh our dwelling place. That is the principle. Are we dwelling in the secret place of the most High? Are we? We meditate for five minutes in the morning and read a book for fifteen minutes later on in the day, and then we think that we are abiding in the Word and dwelling in the secret place of the most High. This is not sufficient. We must read and study, meditate and ponder, hour upon hour of every day until we are living continuously in the presence of the Lord beside whom there is no other. Let us accept in our mind a state of consciousness in which we agree that God is all power, God is infinite, and beside God there is no other power. (Chapter: “God the Only Power” 38-39)

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We must think seriously on this subject of protection because each day we are faced with suggestions of impending or threatened danger. Always some person, some place, or some thing is being presented as a destructive force which we fear or from which we seek a God to save us. God’s allness makes it utterly impossible for any destructive or evil influence to exist anywhere — in heaven, on earth, or in hell — so let us not make the mistake of thinking of God as some great power who is able to save us from a destructive person or influence if only we can reach Him. Let us not make the common mistake of thinking that practicing the presence of God is just another means of using God, or another method of praying to bring God’s influence into our experience in order to overcome discord, evil, sin, and disease. Its purpose is to bring to individual consciousness the awareness of God as one, of God as infinite, individual being, of God as all-presence and all-power.  The universal believe in two powers, good and evil, will continue to operate in our experience until we, individually — remember this, you and I, individually — reject the belief in two powers.

In this age, protective thought is the realization that God’s allness precludes the possibility of any source of evil ever existing in the world or operating in individual experience. Our protective work, or our prayers for protection, must consist of the realization that nothing has existed, exists, or will exist anywhere, at any time, in our experience of the past, present, or future, that is of a destructive nature. Through study and meditation, eventually we shall come to that God-contact within us, wherein we receive the divine assurance, “Lo, I am with you always,” the continuous assurance of the one Presence, on Power, one Being, one Life, one Law in which there are no evil powers or destructive forces.  It is in this awareness of oneness that we find our peace.

Students should take this subject of protection into daily meditation for a month or two, not mentioning it to anyone. They should not discuss this, but keep it secret within themselves until they arrive at a place in consciousness where they feel that God is one. The secret of protection lies not in seeking God to save us from some danger, but rather in understanding that safety, security, and peace are dependent on on our remembrance and realization of the truth of God as one.  (Chapter: “God the Only Power” 45-46)

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There is an old, old story about a great spiritual teacher who knocked at the gates of heaven for admission into paradise. After some time, God came to the door and inquired, “Who is there? Who knocks?”

To this query, came the confident response, “It is I.”

“Sorry, very sorry. There is no room in heaven. Go away. You will have to come back some other time.” The good man, surprised at the rebuff, went away puzzled. After several years, spent in meditating and pondering over this strange reception, he returned and knocked again at the gate. He was met with the same question and gave a similar response. Once again he was told that there was no room in heaven; it was completely filled at that time.

In the years that passed, the teacher went deeper and deeper within himself, meditating and pondering. After a long period of time had elapsed, he knocked at the gates of heaven for the third time. Again God asked, “Who is there?”

This time his answer was, “Thou art.”

And the gates opened wide as God said, “Come in. There never was room for Me and thee.”

There is not God and you or I, there is only God expressed, manifested as individual being. There is only one life — the Father’s. We are outside of heaven with no hope of ever gaining entrance to it as long as we believe that we have a selfhood apart from God, a being separate and independent of God.

All through the ages, duality has separated us from our good, but it is a sense of duality, not duality, because there is no duality. The secret of life is oneness, and oneness is not something that we bring about. Oneness is a state of being. (Chapter: “The Infinite Nature of Individual Being” 55-56)

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“To him that hath shall be given . . . love the Lord thy God with all thy heart . . . love thy neighbor as thyself . . . I and my Father are one”: These are important principles for any aspirant on the spiritual path. . . .

In the Infinite Way, the age-old theme of meditation and inner communion is emphasized, the practice of which enables a person to come out and be separate – whether he is sitting reverently in a church, whether he has retired to some quiet corner of his own home, or whether he is basking in the sunshine of a garden – and, forgetting the things of this world, to turn within and make contact with his inner forces, with that which we call God. . .

. . . How often do we say: “I am God’s perfect child; I am spiritual; I am divine”; and then find that we are just as poor as we were before, or in just as much trouble. These are just statements. It is similar to sitting in a dark room and saying over and over again, “Electricity gives light.” That is a correct statement, but we shall still be sitting in the dark until, by turning on the switch, a connection is made with the source of electricity. So nothing is going to happen to us, regardless of how many affirmations of truth we know or repeat, unless we attain the consciousness of that truth and realize our oneness with our Source. Meditation is that way.  (Chapter: “Meditation” 93-94)

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Many times we let the pressure of the world rob us, not only of our peace, but of the time in which to have these quiet periods of renewal which work the transformation in our lives. If we are sincere in our desire to experience God, we shall make it a matter of decision to let nothing interfere with our firm resolve and steadfast purpose. Most of us know people who have already discovered the way to do this.

There is a simple practice by which a considerable measure of this peace can be achieved, if persisted in day in and day out. It is by developing a consciousness of nowness, a state of todayness. This state of nowness is achieved by consciously training ourselves to live only in this minute, by recognizing, first of all, that we do not live on yesterday’s manna.

Our responsibility is only for this day and for this moment. Whatever demand is made upon us, let us fulfill it with this moment. If a call comes to us for help, let’s not wait until tonight to give the help, but answer the call at the moment it comes. If there is correspondence to be handled, it must be answered this day so that the next morning we come to our work and our day with a clear desk. It is surprising how much spare time we have during the day when we take care of everything as it is presented to us. Most of us never have free days because we are always attempting to finish work which has accumulated from yesterday and the day before, work which should have been done the day it was given us to do.

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Our demonstration is to maintain our integrity to the highest degree of which we are capable at any given moment. If we make a mistake, let us pick ourselves up and be sure that it does not happen again. It is only what we carry over in the present that hurts us – not what happened in the past, but what we carry over in the present of what happened in the past. If each of us could begin very day afresh with the realization, “I and my Father are one,” it would make no difference what our mistakes were yesterday as long as they are not repeated today. It is only when we revive yesterday and bring it into today that it injures us. We do not live on yesterday’s manna, but neither can we suffer from yesterday’s lack of manna. It is only what we are and what we have this instant, what we are living in in this instant that counts. It is only we who, in memory, bring yesterday into today. We can bring yesterday into our deeds, also, by making the same mistakes today that we made yesterday.

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This life is not ours. This life is God’s. We belong to God, and God is responsible for our life and for our fulfillment. Whatever of good takes place in our life is God in action; whatever of evil takes place is only in proportion as the word “I” is injected – I, John; I, Mary; I, Henry. Let there to be no praise for us, no condemnation, and no weight of responsibility. When responsibility comes, let us be sure that we do not permit this human sense of “I” to come forth and say: “How can I accomplish this? How am I going to perform that? My strength is not sufficient; my bank account is not adequate.” Jesus did not permit the word, “I” to intrude when he was called upon to feed the five thousand. He acknowledged that he could do nothing of himself.

As we study, read, and meditate, we are developing a state of consciousness, which recognizes the Father within as the only actor and the only activity, and we are paving the way for an actual God-experience. The moment we have a God-experience, we no longer live our own life: God lives Its life as us. We have nothing to do but to be very peaceful and quiet. It is like looking over our shoulders, watching God unfold. We become beholders of God and God’s activity, and then all sense of personal responsibility drops away. Early in the morning, we begin our day with a sense of expectancy of what the Father will present for us to do. Once the work is given us, a quiet smile comes in the remembrance that He that has given it to us, performs it. The entire day is filled with joy in watching the glory of the Father unfold as our individual experience.  (Chapter: “A Moment of Christhood” 115-120)

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. . . No one is ever going to be called upon to do something greater than his understanding because the only call is to sit peacefully and quietly until the Spirit of the Lord God is upon him, and then he can voice anything that comes to his lips, or voice nothing at all.

Love is the answer: the love of God, the love of truth, and the love of our neighbor. From this time forth, it should be the function and the mission of those who are practicing the Presence to reveal that God is experienced only in proportion as God is expressed. God is experienced in proportion as God is permitted to flow out from us in the form of love, truth, service and dedication. The power of love must be released from within ourselves.  (Chapter: “The Vision to Behold” 130-131)

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At night, looking up at the starry sky, no one is ever anxious about tomorrow’s sun. Not one of us will sit up tonight to pray that the sun will rise tomorrow. God requires no supplication, information, or advice from us in regard to the government of Its universe, and even should we pray all night in an attempt to change the hour of sunrise, there is no doubt that that the sun will rise tomorrow at its appointed time. Tomorrow night the moon and the stars will continue to move in their orbits; the tide will rise and ebb twice in every twenty-four hours. Praying to God, petitioning God, or begging God will not change God’s law. God’s work is done; God’s law is in operation.

Practicing the Presence

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In the days to come, when men recognize the great truth that God is the Selfhood of every individual, the evil aimed at us from another will never touch us, but will immediately rebound upon the one who sends it. In the degree that we recognize God as our individual being, we realize that no weapon that is formed against us can prosper because the only I is God. There will be no fear of what man can do to us, since our Selfhood is God and cannot be harmed. As soon as the first realization of this truth comes to us, we no longer concern ourselves with what our neighbor does to us. Morning, noon, and night we must watch our thoughts, our words and our deeds to make certain that we, ourselves, are not responsible for anything of a negative nature which would have undesirable repercussions.

The Master has instructed us specifically as to the ways in which we can serve our fellow man. He emphasized the idea of service. His whole mission was the healing of the sick, the raising of the dead, and the feeding of the poor. The moment that we make ourselves avenues for the outflow of divine love, from that very moment, we being serving each other, expressing love, devotion, and sharing, all in the name of the Father.

Practicing the Presence

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The degree of spiritual consciousness which we attain can be measured by the extent to which we relinquish our dependence on the external world of form and place our faith and confidence in something greater than ourselves, in the Infinite Invisible, which can surmount any and every obstacle. It is an awareness of the grace of God.

There is a specific practice which will aid in the attainment of this spiritual consciousness. It is a practice which can be carried on throughout the day as the world crowds in upon us, reminding us that we need this or desire that. To every such insistent demand, let our answer be: “No, no. This is not what I need or want. THY grace is my sufficiency, nothing else – not money, not marbles, only THY grace”. Let us learn to hold to that resolutely.

Practicing the Presence

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Note: Emphasis, such as text bold-facing, italics, or text color highlighting, may have been supplied, with respect to the excerpts posted in this page.

 

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