Thought Bricks 22: Under the Surface of it All
n this lesson Bernard answers questions from Students to illustrate important points. He helps us understand that abundance comes more easily when we Delight in the Lord, encourages us to Help but do not Indulge others. He comments on a students’ Psychic Experiences. Bernard also speaks about times when it is better to just Give Things Over To God and says more about how the term ‘Heart’ in Scripture can be interpreted to mean the Subconscious.
THE “PRACTICAL LIFE” SECTION
LESSON TWENTY-TWO: UNDER THE SURFACE OF IT ALL
My dear Student,
Another way in which we must grow into the balanced, practical life is in that matter of the beliefs of ourselves and others. Oh, how hard it is, in the early days of truth-discovery, not to talk of it to others. And how we want to change their ideas to ours! I remember so well, one day when I was at this stage. I had been reading what was, to me, a most thrilling book. I had been so absorbed that for hours I had read, just breaking off now and then to get a snack or make a pot of tea. Then, into my “haven” of peace came a charwoman. She was the only person available at the moment, so I told her a little about this marvellous book (I have even forgotten its title now). She listened stolidly, then looked around the littered room, at the bits of screwed up paper, dirty dishes, &c., and said calmly: “What a state” She then got on with the cleaning. That was her sole reaction. I often smile at the memory of it, for I understand so well how “goofy” I must have seemed to her at the time. What we want to do is to be balanced and practical; not to talk about our interests to people who are not interested and not to try to change the beliefs and opinions of others.
Delight in the Lord
A Student wrote: “I think my greatest stumbling block in thought building is knowing that I have not yet kept my side of the bargain. I try very hard to cast out all that is not of God, and I know I am improving but until I feel I have succeeded I can’t seem to believe implicitly that my prayers will be answered. Is it wrong to feel this way? I think all your work is so wonderful, because although on the surface it appears to give one all the things that make life good, deep down under the surface it really gives one something much more valuable, and that in turn gives me happiness, which is the thing people want most.”
My reply was: “I am delighted at your understanding of my Work. You are quite right. From the very beginning, when enquirers receive the Introductory Booklet, I make it clear that the abundant life comes through development from within and not luck from without. But a few brush this aside and just hope for luck! However, they usually change their motives in time. They begin to delight in the Lord ‘and so receive their ‘heart’s desire’.”
“Now, to refer to your problem about finding it difficult to believe implicitly that your prayers will be answered when you have ‘not kept your side of the bargain’. Again, you see clearly where the obstacles lie. But just because you do see clearly, go a step further and see this too. God’s blessing-power ever flows. We each have to contact it by desire. Never mind the past, with all its wrong motives and mistakes. It is the now that counts. If you love the great perfection of life that is God and desire to make contact and receive His blessings for yourself and others, then all is well. Let no other thought than this intrude. Now is the important moment. God wants us – we want Him. This is sufficient reason for union with Him. Gradually, all the weaknesses of character will be made strong – how can they fail to be when we love Him and merge with His power? But here is a most important point. It must not be merely a flight of heady emotion – it must be a reasoned, steady, determined desire to make contact with the divine.”
Help but do not Indulge
A Student wrote: “I have been doing good turns to so many people in many ways, but in the long run these people look upon me as an enemy, and abuse my services to them. Why?”
My reply was: “Now let us look together at your problem. You say that you do good turns to people but, instead of being grateful, they become enemies and abuse you. How well I understand this. I, too, have had the same experience. But once we come to realise that life is to teach us, we look for the lesson in the experience, and then soon come to the truth. The lesson I learned from my sad experiences is this – that first and foremost in our lives must be love. Love to God and to our fellow-men. Now this love to our fellow-men does not mean the weak and watery, soft and sentimental emotion that so many in the world call love. It means a determination to bring good to the person, come what will. And we cannot bring good to people by indulging them and encouraging their weaknesses. This only hinders their character-development and brings sorrow, first to us and later to themselves, since they will have to reap the seeds of ingratitude they sow.”
“So you see, you have not chosen your recipients well, nor been thorough enough or firm enough to find out if they would profit by the gift of money, services or goods. This lesson of true love is one we all have to learn in life, and it is a very important one indeed. I am still learning it, and slowly coming to full understanding – but I still slip up now and then! So let us get the facts very clearly indeed. We ‘truth-awakened’ people must not be soft and yielding, indulging others in weaknesses. We must ‘quit ourselves like men’ (as the Scripture says) showing by our very strength of character that a life of attainment is possible for all. We must help others when we have thoroughly investigated a need and know it to be genuine; also when we see clearly that the help will strengthen the character of the one in need. But above all, we must demonstrate the truth of God-Power in our own lives. This will not only strengthen us, but others too.”
A Student wrote: “After composing myself for sleep and with eyes closed, the room seems to be full of shadowy motion. Lights also appear and also faces of all descriptions. Sometimes this is varied and I seem to be looking through an open window at a lovely landscape. This, I know, is some kind of psychic vision. Do you think I should give this free play, or would it be advisable to clamp down on it? I mean, do you think it a harmful procedure to allow this to develop?”
My reply was: “You are taking a very sensible view about the ‘psychic vision’ you describe. So many people are inclined to think that these things are a sign of great spiritual progress, and this is such a mistake. After all, our minds reach ‘both down and up’, as it were, beyond this conscious realm, and so it is natural that at times we should contact other planes of consciousness for brief spells. So long as we take it all for granted, do not force it in any way, and are calm and matter-of-fact, all is well. I often get similar experiences when waiting for sleep. I ‘look’ lazily at them, drift into sleep and forget them. But as soon as we start noticing them or attaching any undue importance to them, then we are apt to get a bit cranky! (And we thought builders are very levelheaded and common-sense people, aren’t we?)”
“An early Student of mine had psychic experiences. He told me that he was thrilled at first; felt sure they were a sign that he was very progressed and almost unique, and developed them as hard as he could. But he came to regret it bitterly, for it interfered with his natural sleep. He became overtired and fearful, and discovered that he was not nearly as advanced as he had imagined. Unfortunately, it was difficult to get rid of, having tried so hard to develop it all. The main thing is to take all these things “in one’s stride”, as it were, refusing to be impressed. If we have really valuable gifts, they will develop and reveal themselves to us without our encouragement, and we can then use them sensibly to help others. Much the best plan, don’t you think?”
Give Things Over to God
A Student wrote: “Although I recognise the wisdom behind your teachings, I find it difficult to discipline my thoughts. I know that victory is possible, because I achieved it myself once before, for a period of about three months. I thought I was cured and stopped applying the teachings, only to find myself gradually slipping back again. At that time, I experienced great composure, peace and happiness, which I have never regained.”
I commented: ” What a clear proof this letter gives, of the value of persistence. We must keep on with our efforts. Without peace of mind, a million pounds could not buy us permanent serenity and satisfaction. Some time ago, I had a problem which tended to keep pushing its way into my thoughts, as problems do. Now I had already thought over this problem and decided what to do about it, so I really did not see that anything could be gained by letting it intrude on everything else. So this is what I did. First of all, I reached out in my mind, as the Master showed us how to do, to God, saying within myself: ‘Holy Father, I give this problem to Thee. I have done all I can do. Please work Thy mighty works; bless and further my actions in the matter. ‘Then I thought; ‘I am a being in whom God’s Spirit dwells. Therefore I have the power to control my thoughts if I wish. I will think of the problem no more. ‘A few minutes later, it intruded into my mind again. At once I said to myself: ‘I have given it to God. I will not take it back and think of it. It is now in God’s Hands.’ During the remainder of the day, that problem must have intruded about a dozen times and instantly I said exactly the same words: ‘I have given it to God’. Suddenly, it disappeared and troubled me no more-and very shortly there was a harmonious and happy outcome. So you see how one has to control one’s thoughts – and keep on until one succeeds.”
The ‘Heart’ in Scripture
Have you ever thought that the “heart”, as referred to in the Scriptures, and the “subconscious mind” are one and the same thing? If you read a few lines over and over you say you have them “by heart “. You mean that the subconscious mind has made them its own. Then if we affirm our trust in God and our expectation of His supply for all our needs over and over, we get this “by heart “, too – the subconscious mind makes this trust its own and goes on working on it and bringing our supply into manifestation whether we are awake or asleep.
So when the Master said: “Whosoever shall not doubt in his heart but shall believe that whatsoever he saith, shall come to pass, he shall have whatsoever he saith “, He meant that whosoever shall not doubt in his subconscious mind. It is no use for us to have faith vaguely, in our surface minds. We must have that faith ingrained in us, deep down in our hearts or subconscious minds, so that in an emergency we fly to that faith as a habit. Thus we must be patient, affirming the Truth over and over again in order to get the facts in to the subconscious mind. If we have faith in a moment of exultation and then go on thinking depressing thoughts for the rest of the day, how can we expect results? The subconscious mind will accept the most vivid picture we give it.
This week a Student writes: “Respecting our asking for abundance, should we be constantly asking when so many of our fellow men are in such poor circumstances?”
My answer is this. “If you were passing a fever hospital would you say to yourself: ‘Is it right for me to enjoy and seek for health when so many of my fellow-men are suffering? I must go into that hospital and get the fever too?’ Of course not But you might say to yourself:
“‘I am so sorry that these brothers and sisters of mine are suffering. From now on I shall strive to learn all I can about health and to become so healthy that I shall be able to show others how to keep healthy too.’ That’s constructive, isn’t it? And that’s just how I feel.”
“I want abundance in order to prove to people that they can get abundance too. I want to inspire confidence and faith in God – and that is just what I am determined to go on doing for the rest of my days. But imagine how weak it would sound if I said: ‘God will provide – and can you spare me a copper or two for a cup of coffee?’ Also, this would clash with my present mental picture of great abundance. So I’ve long ago decided to thought build abundance for the Work and all my needs. I’m quite sure I shall get plenty for both and then I need not be hampered in any way, but can just go on thought building ‘to my heart’s content’. (A very apt phrase!)”
If we make of ourselves “pipe lines” and let divine supply pour through us instead of holding fearfully on to it, we can expect abundance of every kind. “Prove Me now, herewith“, saith the Lord of Hosts, “If I will not open to you the windows of Heaven and pour you a blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”