In this lesson Bernard speaks to us of faith and addresses some misunderstandings which can arise about it. He questions the idea that God sends us trials and suggests we create them ourselves. He reminds us that the power is in faith not in the technique we use, but that we need to use different techniques to keep the practise of our faith fresh. He also tells us that it is when we create our thought bricks from The Thrill of Understanding then they are the most effective. Bernard also encourages us to Keep it Simple, and to “LET GO, MY FRIENDS” of guilt shame and self-condemnation.
THE PRACTICAL LIFE SECTION
LESSON: TWENTY-ONE: FAITH
What a multitude of opinions there are about faith! Actually, there is only one faith, though. The confusion arises from the fact that people do not really know what it is. Here are some experiences of others, and my comments, which will make it all clear.
A Student wrote: “Last night, I arrived home with a terrific head cold which ordinarily would take about a week to eliminate. I remained in bed until just after mid-day, and now I am up with no sign whatever of the cold, and I took no medicine. I have an idea it was a sort of trial of my faith.”
My reply was: “You say you wonder if your cold was a sort of trial of your faith. Now – that depends what you mean by ‘trial’! If by any chance you mean that God the All-Perfect actually held in His divine mind the creative picture of ‘a terrific head cold’, intending to bestow this upon you in order to see how you responded to it, then I must disagree most firmly. God, by His very perfection, could not hold anything but perfection in His divine mind or He would not be All-perfect…”
“But if, as I think you mean, you had something to learn about faith and so this need of yours drew the experience to you (which is the way we learn from our life here on earth) then I agree. Just as an athlete must meet and overcome obstacles and hurdles, thus growing in strength and skill, so must we, who are spiritual ‘athletes’ meet and overcome obstacles. Because we have God’s Spirit within us, we use His creative power by our thoughts, and we draw into our lives just what we need for our development as children and heirs of God. I think that was what you had in mind, wasn’t it?”
Keep it Simple
A Student wrote: “Yes, I will be very careful what I read. Thank you very much indeed for explaining so beautifully. One can be led astray by some of the books; therefore I take my learning from you.”
I commented: “The reason why this Student is going to watch her reading, is because she started to read deep, complicated books, and got so confused. This is a great mistake for, instead of helping, it merely keeps people back, by thinking of the ‘body’, and forgetting the ‘Spirit’. That is how so many people misunderstood the words of the Master and have never really grasped the grandeur – and logic – of His teachings.”
“When He spoke of Himself, sometimes, He spoke of His body (as when He said: ‘I will go with you to the house‘, or something like that). But at other times He spoke of His Spirit. He spoke from His Christ-Consciousness, for instance, when He said: ‘I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me‘. A great many people think He was speaking of His body on the cruel and barbaric cross. But no; He was speaking from His Christ-Consciousness, and those words of His about being ‘lifted up’ have a most wonderful and far-reaching meaning. They apply to each one of us from that day, right down to this present moment and beyond. I cannot possibly tell you the meaning here, for it would take too long. (It is impossible to give one ‘layer’ of truth without giving all the rest that have led up to it, you see.) But one day I will explain it all in full to those of you who have ‘eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts to understand’. But you can sec clearly that if you have your ‘inner binoculars’ focussed on ‘body’ instead of ‘ Spirit’, or on ‘mind’ instead of ‘Spirit’, then it is not surprising if you see it in the wrong way.”
A Student wrote: “I cannot move an ugly wart off my husband’s shoulder. I just cannot visualise his shoulder without it. I have used the Window Chart for two weeks on it with no results. I always take it to the ‘Shaft’. Still no result. Now I usually know instinctively what is holding me back. But with this wart, I don’t know.”
My reply was: “Now let us look at your problem. The first thing to be considered, is this. As each one of us is here on earth to learn to be God’s conscious offspring and heir (to learn the truth about mankind, in fact) then each must come, individually, to this knowing. Suppose you see a man with a sprained ankle. You might think: ‘Poor fellow! I will ask healing for him.’ Now if you did bring immediate healing to him, that, on the surface, would seem an excellent thing to do. But let us suppose this man had a terrible temper, and that he sprained his ankle while rushing headlong down some steps at the railway station, intending to over-take a workmate of his and give him ‘a poke on the nose’? Having to hobble around in pain for a bit, would be good training for this man. It would cause him to think and, just because he was restrained from giving full vent to his temper, he would gradually come to realise that he was happier being good-natured after all The lesson learned, the ankle healed, the man passes on his way – a stronger, wiser, better man for the experience.”
“That quick healing might have done him actual harm, you see, in allowing him to give further vent to his bad temper …. Have you ever wondered why the Master healed individually, thus wearying Himself so much that His friends had to take Him up a mountain-side or into a boat to escape from the clamouring crowd? If He could have healed them all at once, how much easier and how much less wearisome it would have been. But the Master considered each case alone. He had a different way with each. On some, He turned a keenly searching glance, probing into the depths of the person’s inner mind and heart. With others He was seemingly abstracted, almost as though He was not fully aware they were there. From some, He drew forth a declaration of faith by asking: ‘Believest thou that I am able to do this?’ In a few cases, He delayed the healing in order that the outlook of people should change and grow…”
“It is like this when we ask for healing. We must be ready to open ourselves confidently to the assured, certain, healing power of God which ever flows from God’s Heart to is but we cannot say that we or others are absolutely ready for instantaneous healing, can we? If there is an obstacle somewhere in the consciousness, then that has to be cast out before the perfect healing power of God can flow freely through… So you see, your husband may have some ‘doubt in the heart’. He may doubt God’s power or God’s love and willingness to heal; or he may doubt himself, thinking he is not worthy. Or he may doubt the fact that he is God’s offspring and heir. The obstacle is there, somewhere, either in you or him – be very sure of that, for God’s power is ever-flowing and unchanging always. We have to learn to cast out obstacles and make complete contact with this power and that is what Thought Bricks teaching is all about I give you many methods of making contact with the Divine. Why? Not because there is any significance or power in the methods themselves. It is so that each one of you may find the one that ‘strikes a chord’ and sets the ‘music’ of your faith playing in a crescendo of joy and praise. I cannot teach each one of you individually, but I can give you so many methods of applying truth and so many aspects of truth that at, least one will stir you to personal, heart-deep response.”
The Power is in Faith not in Technique
A Student wrote: ” A week ago circumstances dictated that I sell my house. The wife and I did the Window Chart and within twenty four hours we had a buyer, and at a price higher than we ever expected! Isn’t it marvellous?”
My reply was: “Delighted to hear of your good results with the Window Chart. A little while ago, a Student wrote to ask me what she could do, as the power in the Wheel Chart, after working well for her in the past, seemed to have gone. Of course, I explained that the power was not in any of the Charts, but in the faith they aroused in the heart of the user. I expect that the novelty of the Chart had ‘worn off’ for this Student. She had become accustomed to it and so it did not arouse that inner thrill of faith which is so essential to prayer answers. That is why I give a variety of ‘exercises’ and Charts in the Course – it keeps that ‘fresh, ever new’ quality.”
The Thrill of Understanding
A Student wrote: I have not yet attained all I hope to achieve, for I am only a ‘neophyte’, and faith needs to be built up from small and humble beginnings.”
My reply was: “Regarding your remark that ‘faith needs to be built up’, I am reminded of some of the members of the Student Family who have written to me about my recent remark in B.W.N. – that I read a book on faith for an hour to get ‘fighting fit’ for thought building. Some of you were astonished, saying that they would not have thought it necessary, once faith has been gained. Others asked: ‘Why an hour? Is such a long time necessary?’ Others asked for the title of the book, and so on. So I’ll reply to you all, here. Actually, an hour is not in the least necessary – two minutes in which to realise the truth of a single sentence on faith, would be ample. It was just that I started to read, got absorbed, and read blissfully on. The title of the book is of no consequence, either. So long as it gives us just that little thrill of understanding, that is all that is required. But to get that ‘little thrill of understanding’ is most important.”
“We all have the power within us, but unless we realise the power it is useless to us. It is like having a car with a great, powerful engine under the bonnet, water in the radiator and petrol in the tank. The power would be there, but it would he utterly useless to us until we pressed the starter. You see? In a book the other day (and don’t ask me the title of that one, because it’s out of print!) I read of a woman ‘mustering all her dynamic force’ before praying for something. Well, that’s the same thing. She had the power within her, but she had to gather it together, as it were – ‘press the starter’, in fact. It is no use to decide you have faith and that you know already all about the indwelling God-Power; then put your faith in any one method and proceed to say various set words or do certain set things in a cold and determined manner. It won’t get you anywhere – you are sitting at the wheel of your ‘powerful car’ but not pressing the ‘starter. ‘Press the starter and warm up the engine’ by reading (and realising) something about faith first. Then, when that little thrill of understanding comes, ‘let out your clutch’ and you’re off on the great adventure of’ joyous achievement
LET GO, MY FRIENDS
After reading the post today I feel that there is an urgent need to speak to you on the underlying theme of of some of your letters. Oh, how my heart warmed to you all as I read your words! I wanted to draw you all into a cosy circle and whisper to you; “My friends. Be at peace. Of course you are not nearly so bad as you think you are and life is not nearly so grim. Don’t you know that just to want to be better than you are is so pleasing to the values of heaven that the very angels burst into songs of joy?
A few of your letters were burdened with problems, frustrations and puzzlement. I always absorb myself in each as though it were the only one received, as though the writer were the only other person on earth just then. But at the same time I must hold to my own peace, not let the burden overwhelm me lest I have nothing to offer but sympathy. Do you see how it is? Because of this I have formed the habit of being absorbed at will and, when the letters are all answered, becoming equally absorbed in play. It may be a picnic, a walk, or reading a detective story. In this way I gradually return, without strain, to the next morning’s letters – and so it goes on.
Today, however, a few of the letters were especially burdened with a sense of guilt. Not only guilt, but a feeling of being caught in some queer, inner conflict, of having made mistakes in the past and “paying” for them now. Of a feeling that it is wrong to have any desires at all. Or feeling thoroughly evil and ” already damned” and that nothing can be done about it! Reading these, I perceive that my power to help you lies in my absolute and certain knowing that God is Love. I have never, for one moment of my conscious life, doubted this – day or night, sleeping or waking. I believe and know this with utmost certainty.
Let us now turn to your problems. I must confess that I cannot help smiling over the prospect that any of you are wholly evil! As if you would be in the smallest degree attracted to this teaching if you were!
Of course, we all have a tendency to evil – that is obvious – but that any of you deliberately choose evil and want to be evil just makes me smile! The trouble is that you want to be so good, so pure that your falling-short appals you. As for being already damned and thinking it wrong to have any desires at all! All these ideas come from ignorance. The unfortunate translation of some of the Bible has given people a picture of a vengeful God – but remember that at the time of this translation the world was passing through a brutal phase. Look back in history, for instance, and see how punishments for disobeying the law have changed. If the punishment for law-breakers was so brutal then, is it surprising that the idea of divine punishment was introduced with so much fervour? The truth is, that God does not punish us at all – He loves us. It is we who punish ourselves. We make mistakes, we drift away from truth, we lose sight of the way and we suffer. “How cruel God is!” cries the unthinking man. But have not we brought our own suffering? What of these Students who have written to me? It is their wrong thinking about God and themselves that has brought all this sorrow to their hearts.
And, apart from faulty translations, God has been “translated” by human hearts, too, into a “wrong version “. That idea, for instance, that it is wrong to have any desires at all – this came from the teachings of Buddha, a good, wise man who lived before the Master came. But his teachings on desire were for the few, just as the Master taught the disciples secretly “in the house”, at times. Buddha knew that all suffering came from desire of some kind, and so, gathering a few about him he said to them, in effect: “Let us renounce all desire and so we shall the sooner grow in holiness “. That is the way chosen by some – and these find their own joy in it. For others it is the chosen way for a time of learning and self-discipline. But that it is the way for all, is a fallacy.
“What things soever ye desire, when ye pray“, said the Master, “believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”
Will you let go, then, my friends, of all your guilt, your self-reproaches, your jumbled motives, your intellectual burdens, your questionings, puzzlement and strain? Will you just believe me when I say: “God loves you“? We have all made mistakes; some of them have to be worked out in our lives. Let us go gently on, knowing God is Love, resting peacefully in this knowledge. And so may we come indeed to “that peace that passeth understanding”.