Lesson 9: In God's Presence
God Within and Without
Sensing the presence of God within and without, we become quiet, throw off anxiety, and are conscious of a renewing power. (A Search For God, p. 92)
With the realization of being in His presence comes that peace which casts out all fear and loneliness. There comes a feeling of being a part of the scheme of things. This is recognizing the God within as well as without. (A Search For God, p. 95)
The Search For God is both an inner and outer experience. We have seen this in every lesson beginning with Cooperation. So it is with this lesson In God’s Presence, where we encounter the God within and without.
Attunement through prayer and meditation is a means for experiencing God’s presence within. The Cayce readings define prayer as talking to God and meditation listening to God. This dialogue with the Divine can lead to the experience of God’s presence within. With practice and focus, meditation can lead to deeper levels of consciousness wherein the “still small voice within,” the voice of God, can be heard or sensed.
The presence of God is not a thing apart from our daily lives. For it is in our daily relationships with others that the presence of God without can be most directly experienced. When we look into the eyes of another human, we are looking into the eyes of God. How we treat that person is how we treat God. The practice of the presence of God in our daily lives, as it affects the lives of others in a positive way, is a profound expression of being in God’s presence.
The presence of the God within and without can be experienced in many other ways such as in nature or through creativity. In whatever manner God's presence is sought, it is the ideal that forms the bridge from normal waking consciousness to that higher level of consciousness.
Application: Through attunement within and application without find your own best means for experiencing the presence of God.
For thy prayer is as a supplication or a plea to thy superior; yet thy meditation is that thou art meeting on COMMON ground! (281-28)
A higher state of spiritual consciousness is the aim and purpose of deep meditation. It is important, therefore, that attention be fixed upon the ideal which is to be raised. (A Search For God, Meditation, p. 10)
In meditation, we meet God as an equal. That is an awesome thought indeed.
Although the presence of God may be a dramatic experience for some, many find God's presence to be more subtle – the still small voice from within; a feeling of unbounded love and acceptance; a profound knowing of the purpose and meaning of life.
Application: If you have been hesitant or negligent in pursuing a deeper level of meditative experience, consider whether you are at a point in your search for God where you will commit to regular deep meditation. With a prayer of protection and guided by a spiritual ideal, enter into the presence of God as an equal in the temple within.
Resource: The Temple Within (article)
Keep close to the earth oft; with the feet well on the ground, but look to the mountain. For the mount is the hill of God. (2830-2)
Keep the faith, and the feet on the ground. (3180-2)
While these are as those conditions partaking of the highest forces as manifest in the Universe, yet we will find these will ever become those unspeakable conditions of the individual apart. Yes, these should be sought but rarely spoken of. As was given, "I was in the Spirit, whether out of the body or in the body I cannot tell, but was caught up to the seventh Heaven and viewed those unspeakable things". (900-69)
… for as we find ourselves IN His presence, that we have builded in the soul makes for that condemnation or that pleasing of the presence of that in His presence. So, my son, let thine lights be in Him, for these are the MANNERS through which all may come to an understanding of the activities; for, as was given, "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day." "I was caught up to the seventh heaven. Whether I was in the body or out of the body I cannot tell." What was taking place? The subjugation of the physical attributes in accord and attune with its infinite force as set as its ideal brought to that soul, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joys of thy Lord." "He that would be the greatest among you – " Not as the Gentiles, not as the heathen, not as the scribes or Pharisees, but "He that would be the greatest will be the SERVANT of all." (5754-2)
Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water. (Zen proverb)
For those who have mystical experiences of union with the divine or of being in God’s presence, the return to normal daily consciousness can be a little disappointing. Certainly, there is often an initial period of euphoria and heightened spirituality. There is almost a feeling of floating through life. But eventually there is a return to earth and the relatively mundane activities of daily living.
Certainly, some individuals who have a powerful experience of God shout it from the rooftops at every opportunity. And then wonder why others so often turn a deaf ear. However, if the spiritual path is pursued patiently and persistently, such mystical experiences may even become somewhat commonplace – the experience of God becomes more of an abiding presence.
Such is the path of everyday mystics who go about the business of life with one foot in the world and the other on the spiritual path. Fellowship with God progresses to a deeper level of awareness of God’s presence. Life goes on as usual in many respects. Chop wood, carry water. From outward appearances it may not appear that much has changed to the casual observer who may notice something unusual or special without being able to put a label on it.
Application: As you patiently and persistently search for God, you may have mystical or peak experiences of the presence of God. Allow these to be integrated into your life as an everyday mystic. You don’t need to necessarily hide your candle. Let your life be its own beacon, bringing light into the world as you serve others in the little things of life. Stay in touch with God as you go about your simple daily activities of living.
Keeping A Balance
In the physical body, good health is a reflection of our observance of physical laws. Even the small details involving the care of the body are important, for they are either in accord with laws that bring a finer type of expression or lead to inharmony… As the activities of the body reflect the strength of the physical person, so the activities of the mind reflect the strength of the mental body. The question of controlling our actions physically is in part answered by laws and customs made by mortals; but the problems of controlling our thoughts, which truly may be just as harmful and out of tune with the Infinite, are personal matters which must be met by each individual… How spiritual are our lives? How often do we seek through meditation and prayer contacts with our Creator? Do our attitudes and philosophies of life center about a spiritual ideal? (A Search For God, Book I)
Although peak experiences and mystical states of awareness of the presence of the divine are part of the spiritual path, there is also the potential for losing one's balance. In recognition of the biological dimension of consciousness, even higher consciousness, it is essential to keep a balance at the physical level. Some experts recommend basic health maintenance practices such as getting the spine examined and adjusted (if needed) and cleansing the body through diet and hydrotherapy.
It is also helpful to keep a balance in activity by including physical work or play in your daily routine. This can provide "grounding" so that deep mystical experiences do not cause you to lose your balance in life. Keeping a balance between work, love, and play is a practical formula for maintaining stability. Look for opportunities to reach out and help others along the way.
Working daily with ideals (physical, mental, and spiritual) provides a simple but powerful framework for keeping a balance. The practice of daily attunement to the Divine within (prayer and meditation) is a wonderful stabilizing factor.
The essential point is not to become obsessed with seeking the presence of the divine through extreme practices. It will come as you apply what you know in your daily life and attune within. By keeping a balance, when the big, dramatic experiences occur, you will take them in stride and stay on the path, walking in balance.
Application: In certain respects, this is a reminder exercise. You have probably been doing these things from the beginning of the search, and yet it is easy to forget the simple, basic things. Determine within yourself what is a reasonable regimen (Ideal lifestyle) for keeping a balance and put it into practice as you progress along the higher levels of the spiritual path.
Resource: Keeping A Balance (article and video link)