AS I LOOKED ABOUT THE WORLD, so much of it impoverished, I became increasingly uncomfortable about having so much while my brothers and sisters were starving. Finally I had to find another way. The turning point came when, in desperation and out of a very deep seeking for a meaningful way of life, I walked all one night through the woods. I came to a moonlit glade and prayed.
I felt a complete willingness, without any reservations, to give my life--to dedicate my life--to service. "Please use me!" I prayed to God. And a great peace came over me.
I tell you it's a point of no return. After that, you can never go back to completely self-centered living.
And so I went into the second phase of my life. I began to live to give what I could, instead of to get what I could, and I entered a new and wonderful world. My life began to be meaningful. I attained the great blessing of good health; I haven't had an ache or pain, a cold or headache since. (Most illness, you know, is psychologically induced.) From that time on, I have known that my life work would be for peace--that it would cover the whole peace picture: peace among nations, peace among groups, peace among individuals, and the very, very important inner peace. However, there's a great deal of difference between being willing to give your life and actually giving your life, and for me fifteen years of preparation and inner seeking lay between.
I was not far down the spiritual road when I became acquainted with what the psychologists refer to as ego and conscience, which I call the lower self and the higher self, or the self-centered nature and the God-centered nature. It's as though we have two selves or natures or two wills with two contrary viewpoints.
Your lower self sees things from the viewpoint of your physical well-being only--your higher self considers your psychological or spiritual well-being. Your lower self sees you as the center of the universe--your higher self sees you as a cell in the body of humanity. When you are governed by your lower self you are selfish and materialistic, but insofar as you follow the promptings of your higher self you will see things realistically and find harmony within yourself and others.
The body, mind and emotions are instruments which can be used by either the self-centered nature or the God-centered nature. The self-centered nature uses these instruments, yet it is never fully able to control them, so there is a constant struggle. They can only be fully controlled by the God-centered nature.
When the God-centered nature takes over, you have found inner peace. Until that time comes, a partial control can be gained through discipline. It can be discipline imposed from without through early training which has become a part of the subconscious side of the self-centered nature. It can be discipline under taken voluntarily: self-discipline. Now, if you are doing things you know you shouldn't do and don't really want to do, you certainly lack discipline. I recommend spiritual growing--and in the meantime self-discipline.
During the spiritual growing up period the inner conflict can be more or less stormy. Mine was about average. The self-centered nature is a very formidable enemy and it struggles fiercely to retain its identity. It defends itself in a cunning manner and should not be regarded lightly. It knows the weakest spots of your armor and attempts a confrontation when one is least aware. During these periods of attack, maintain a humble stature and be intimate with none but the guiding whisper of your higher self.
The higher self has been given many wonderful names by religious leaders, some calling the higher governing power the inner light, or the indwelling Christ. When Jesus said, "The Kingdom of God is within you," He was obviously referring to the higher self. In another place it says, Christ in you, your hope of glory, the indwelling Christ. Jesus was called the Christ because His life was governed by this higher governing power.
When I talk about my steps toward inner peace, I talk about them in a framework, but there's nothing arbitrary about the number of steps. They can be expanded; they can be contracted. This is just a way of talking about the subject, but this is important: the steps toward inner peace are not taken in any certain order. The first step for one may be the last step for another. So just take whatever steps seem easiest for you, and as you take a few steps, it will become easier for you to take a few more. In this area we can really share. None of you may feel guided to walk a pilgrimage, and I'm not trying to inspire you to do so. But in the field of finding harmony in our own lives, we can share. And I suspect that when you hear me give some of the steps toward inner peace, you will recognize them as steps that you also have taken.
I would like to mention some preparations that were required of me. The first preparation is to take a right attitude toward life. This means, stop being an escapist! Stop being a surface liver who stays right in the froth of the surface. There are millions of these people, and they never find anything really worthwhile. Be willing to face life squarely and get down beneath the surface of life where the verities and realities are to be found. That's what we are doing here now.
There's the whole matter of having a meaningful attitude toward the problems that life may set before you. If only you could see the whole picture, if you knew the whole story, you would realize that no problem ever comes to you that does not have a purpose in your life, that cannot contribute to your inner growth. When you perceive this, you will recognize that problems are opportunities in disguise. If you did not face problems, you would just drift through life. It is through solving problems in accordance with the highest light we have that inner growth is attained. Now, collective problems must be solved by us collectively, and no one finds inner peace who avoids doing his or her share in the solving of collective problems, like world disarmament and world peace. So let us always think about these problems together and talk about them together, and collectively work toward their solutions.
The second preparation has to do with bringing our lives into harmony with the laws that govern this universe. Created are not only the worlds and the beings, but also the laws that govern them. Applying both in the physical realm and in the psychological realm, these laws govern human conduct. Insofar as we are able to understand and bring our lives into harmony with these laws, our lives will be in harmony. Insofar as we disobey these laws, we create difficulties for ourselves by our disobedience. We are our own worst enemies. If we are out of harmony through ignorance, we suffer somewhat; but if we know better and are still out of harmony, then we suffer a great deal. Suffering pushes us toward obedience.
I recognized that there are some well-known, little understood, and seldom practiced laws that we must live by if we wish to find peace within or without. Included are the laws that evil can only be overcome by good; that only good means can attain a good end; that those who do unloving things hurt themselves spiritually.
These laws are the same for all human beings and must be obeyed before harmony can prevail.
So I got busy on a very interesting project. This was to live all the good things I believed in. I did not confuse myself by trying to take them all at once, but rather if I was doing something that I knew I shouldn't be doing I stopped doing it and I always make a quick relinquishment. That's the easy way. Tapering off is long and hard. And if I was not doing something that I knew I should be doing, I got busy on that. It took the living quite a while to catch up with the believing, but of course it can, and now if I believe something, I live it. Otherwise it would be perfectly meaningless. As I lived according to the highest light I had, I discovered that other light was given; that I opened myself to receiving more light as I lived the light I had.
There is a third preparation that has to do with something which is unique for every human life, because every one of us has a special place in the Life Pattern , and no two people have exactly the same part to play in God's plan. There is a guidance which comes from within to all who will listen. Through this guidance each one will feel drawn to some part in the scheme of things.
God's laws can be known from within, but they can also be learned from without, as they have been spoken of by all great religious teachers. God's guidance can only be known from within.
We must remain open to God`s guidance. God never guides us to break divine law, and if such a negative guidance comes to us we can be sure it is not from God. It is up to us to keep our lives steadfastly in harmony with divine law, which is the same for all of us. Only insofar as we remain in harmony with divine law do good things come to us.
When you come into this world your jobs in the divine plan are there. They just need to be realized and lived. If you do not yet know where you fit, I suggest that you try seeking it in receptive silence. I used to walk amid the beauties of nature, just receptive and silent, and wonderful insights would come to me.
You begin to do your part in the Life Pattern by doing all of the good things you feel motivated toward, even though they are just little good things at first. You give these priority in your life over all the superficial things that customarily clutter human lives.
Every morning I thought of God and thought of things I might do that day to be of service to God`s children. I looked at every situation I came into to see if there was anything I could do there to be of service. I did as many good things as I could each day, not forgetting the importance of a pleasant word and a cheery smile. I prayed about things that seemed too big for me to handle--and right prayer motivates to right actions.
I was filled with a runaway enthusiasm to help others, and one could argue that when I solved so many problems for others I was depriving them of the spiritual growth problem-solving brings. I soon realized I had to leave some good works for others to do and be blessed by.
In the beginning I helped people in simple ways with errands, gardening projects, and by reading to them. I spent some time in the private homes of the elderly and the recuperating ill, assisting them to overcome their various ailments. I worked with troubled teenagers, the psychologically disturbed, and the physically and mentally handicapped. My motives were pure and much of my work did have a positive and good effect. I used what I call spiritual therapy: I found all the good things that those I worked with wanted to do, and I helped them to do those things. There were some who became too attached to me and I had to work on breaking the attachment.
My lack of expertise was more than offset by the love I extended to others. When love fills your life all limitations are gone. The medicine this sick world needs so badly is love.
I also did some volunteer work for the American Friends Service Committee, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and the Fellowship of Reconciliation--over a period of at least ten years, off and on.
There are those who know and do not do. This is very sad. In this materialistic age we have such a false criterion by which to measure success. We measure it in terms of dollars, in terms of material things. But happiness and inner peace do not lie in that direction. If you know but do not do, you are a very unhappy person indeed.
There is a fourth preparation. It is the simplification of life , to bring inner and outer well-being, psychological and material well-being, into harmony in your life. This was made very easy for me. Just after I dedicated my life to service, I felt that I could no longer accept more than I need while others in the world have less than they need. This moved me to bring my life down to need level. I thought it would be difficult. I thought it would entail a great many hardships, but I was quite wrong. Instead of hardships, I found a wonderful sense of peace and joy, and a conviction that unnecessary possessions are only unnecessary burdens.
During this period I was able to meet my expenses on ten dollars a week, dividing my budget into two categories. I allocated $6.50 for food and incidentals and $3.50 for lodging.
How I do not mean that needs are all the same. Your needs may be much greater than mine. For instance, if you have a family, you would need the stability of a family center for your children. But I do mean that anything beyond need--and need sometimes includes things beyond physical needs, too--anything beyond need tends to become burdensome. If you have it, you have to take care of it!
There is great freedom in simplicity of living, and after I began to feel this, I found harmony in my life between inner and outer well-being. There is a great deal to be said about such harmony, not only for an individual life but also for the life of a society. It's because as a world we have gotten ourselves so far out of harmony, so way off on the material side, that when we discover something like nuclear energy we are still capable of putting it into a bomb and using it to kill people! This is because our inner well-being lags so far behind our outer well-being. The valid research for the future is on the inner side, on the spiritual side, so that we will be able to bring these two into balance--and so that we will know how to use well the outer well-being we already have.
Then I discovered that there were some purifications required of me. The first one is such a simple thing: it is purification of the body. This had to do with my physical living habits. I used to eat all the standard foods. I shudder now to think of what I used to dump into this temple of the spirit.
I did not take care of my bodily temple when I was very young; this only happened later in life. It was five years after I felt a complete willingness to give my life that I began to take care of my bodily temple-- five years! Now I eat mostly fruits, nuts, vegetables, whole grains (preferably organically grown) and perhaps a bit of milk and cheese. This is what I live on and walk on.
There was a time when I had the caffeine habit. I would get up in the morning and have my cup of coffee first thing. One morning, when I had just taken my cup of coffee, I sat and looked at that coffee cup and said, "You're depending on that to get you perking in the morning! I'm not going to be a slave to caffeine. This is going to stop right here!" And it did. I never touched it again. I missed it for a few days, but I'm stronger than that cup of coffee!
I began to realize that I was disobeying my rule of life which says: I will not ask anyone to do for me things that I would refuse to do for myself. Now, I wouldn't kill any creature--I wouldn't even kill a chicken or a fish--and therefore I stopped immediately eating all flesh.
I have not eaten flesh for many years, not meat or fish or fowl. I have learned since that it is bad for your health, but at that time I just extended my love to include not only all my fellow human beings but also my fellow creatures, and so I stopped hurting them and I stopped eating them.
I did not know at that time that flesh eating was bad for the spirit. I just knew it was something I could no longer do because it was contrary to one of my rules of life. Then I learned a little later from a doctor that flesh eating leaves poisonous residues in the body, which would also have made me a vegetarian. I believe in practicing prevention since the body is the temple of the spirit.
Then I learned from a college professor, who wrote a book on the subject, that it takes many times the land to raise the creatures we eat as it would to raise fruits or vegetables or grains. Since I want the maximum number of God's children to be fed, that also would make me a vegetarian.
The difficulty is we have not learned to stop killing each other yet. That's our present lesson--not to kill each other. To learn the lesson of sharing and the lesson of non-killing of man by man. The lesson of non-killing of creatures is a little bit into the future, though those of us who know better need to live up to our highest light.
When I realized white flour and white sugar were bad for your health I stopped eating them. When I realized highly seasoned things were bad I quit them. And when I realized all processed foods contain substances that are bad for the body I quit eating them. Even most water out of the tap is a chemical cocktail. I would suggest bottled or distilled water.
I know enough about food to nourish my body properly and I have excellent health. I enjoy my food, but I eat to live. I do not live to eat, as some people do, and I know when to stop eating. I am not enslaved by food.
People can still be hungry after eating large quantities of wrong foods. In fact, you can suffer from malnutrition even though you consistently overeat wrong foods. You can begin a healthy diet by having only good, wholesome foods available. Eat slowly and chew your food well, as I do. Then make food a very incidental part of your life by filling your life so full of meaningful things that you'll hardly have time to think about food.
In my eating and sleeping habits I have the closest contact with nature that is possible for me. Each day I get as much fresh air and sunshine and contact with nature as I can. I want to do much of my living out-of-doors and be a part of the landscape. Rest and exercise are important. I am not one who consistently goes without sleep. When possible, I go to bed at dusk and get eight hours of sleep. I take my exercise by walking and swinging my arms which makes it a complete form of exercise.
You'd think purification of the body might be the first area in which people would be willing to work, but from practical experience I've discovered it`s often the last--because it might mean getting rid of some of our bad habits, and there is nothing we cling to more tenaciously.
There is a second purification: purification of thought. If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought. They can be a powerful influence for good when they're on the positive side, and they can and do make you physically ill when they're on the negative side. I don't eat junk foods and I don't think junk thoughts! Let me tell you, junk thoughts can destroy you even more quickly than junk food. Junk thoughts are something to be wary of.
Let me tell you a story of a man adversely affected by negative thoughts. He was sixty-five years old when I knew him and he was manifesting symptoms of what was called a chronic physical illness. When I talked to him I realized there was some bitterness in his life. However, I couldn't put my finger on it right away because I saw he was getting along well with his wife, his grown children and the folks in his community. But the bitterness was there just the same. I found that he was harboring bitterness against his father who had been dead for many long years because his father had educated his brother and not him. He was a very intellectual person so I talked to him at length. When he, the oldest son, was to be educated, his father had absolutely not enough money to do it. In fact, the family was very poor at that time. There were several sisters after him and I think three of them hadn't been educated either. His brother was the youngest, and by that time his father had more money and was able to educate the brother. He didn't begrudge his brother the education, he just thought he should have gotten it too. When he saw intellectually that his father had done the best he could with both of his sons, then he was able to release the bitterness he had been harboring. That so-called chronic illness began to fade away, and soon the condition was much improved and then it was gone.
If you`re harboring the slightest bitterness toward anyone, or any unkind thoughts of any sort whatever, you must get rid of them quickly. They are not hurting anyone but you. It isn't enough just to do right things and say right things--you must also think right things before your life can come into harmony.
During the preparation period I wasn't fully identifying with the real me, I was just learning. I was very forgiving toward others, that was no problem, but I was very unforgiving toward myself. If I did something that wasn't the highest, I would say to myself, "You ought to know better." And then one day as I was combing my hair at the mirror, I looked at myself and said, "You vain thing! Why do you think you know better when you forgive everyone else for not knowing better? You're not any better than they are."
You must learn to forgive yourself as easily as you forgive others. And then take a further step and use all that energy that you used in condemning yourself for improving yourself. After that I really started to get somewhere--because there's only one person you can change and that's yourself. After you have changed yourself, you might be able to inspire others to look for change.
It took the living quite awhile to catch up with the believing, but it finally did. And when it did, a progress began which never ended. As I lived up to the highest light I had, higher and higher light came to me.
The third purification is the purification of desire. What are the things you desire? Do you desire superficial things like pleasures--new items of wearing apparel or new household furnishings or cars? Since you are here to get yourself in harmony with the laws that govern human conduct and with your part in the scheme of things, your desires should be focused in this direction. It's very important to get your desires centered so you will desire only to do God's will for you. You can come to the point of oneness of desire, just to know and do your part in the Life Pattern. When you think about it, is there anything else as really important to desire?
There is one more purification, and that is purification of motive. What is your motive for whatever you may be doing? If it is pure greed or self-seeking or the wish for self-glorification, I would say, don't do that thing. Don't do anything you would do with such a motive. But that isn't easy because we tend to do things with very mixed motives. I've never found a person who had purely bad motives. There may be such a person, I have never encountered one. I do encounter people who constantly have mixed motives. Good and bad motives all mixed together. For instance, I met a man in the business world and he admitted that his motives were not the highest, and yet mixed in with them were good motives--providing for his family, doing some good in his community. Mixed motives!
I talk to groups studying the most advanced spiritual teachings and sometimes these people wonder why nothing is happening in their lives. Their motive is the attainment of inner peace for themselves--which of course is a selfish motive. You will not find it with this motive. The motive, if you are to find inner peace, must be an outgoing motive. Service, of course, service. Giving, not getting. Your motive must be good if your work is to have good effect. The secret of life is being of service.
I knew a man who was a good architect. It was obviously his right work, but he was doing it with the wrong motive. His motive was to make a lot of money and to keep ahead of the Joneses. He worked himself into an illness, and it was shortly after that I met him. I got him to do little things for service. I talked to him about the joy of service and I knew that after he had experienced this he could never go back into really self-centered living. We corresponded a bit after that. A few years later I hardly recognized him when I stopped in to see him. He was such a changed man! But he was still an architect. He was drawing a plan and he talked to me about it: "You see, I`m designing it this way to fit into their budget, and then I'll set it on their plot of ground to make it look nice." His motive was to be of service to the people he drew plans for. He was a radiant and transformed person. His wife told me that his business had increased because people were now coming to him from miles around for home designs.
I've met a few people who had to change their jobs in order to change their lives, but I've met many more people who merely had to change their motive to service in order to change their lives.
Now, the last part deals with relinquishments. Once you've made the first relinquishment you have found inner peace, because it's the relinquishment of self-will.
You can work on subordinating the lower self by refraining from doing the not-good things you may be motivated toward--not suppressing them, but transforming them so that the higher self can take over your life. If you are motivated to do or say a mean thing, you can always think of a good thing. You deliberately turn around and use that same energy to do or say a good thing instead. It works!
The second relinquishment is the relinquishment of the feeling of separateness. We begin feeling very separate and judging everything as it relates to us, as though we were the center of the universe. Even after we know better intellectually, we still judge things that way. In reality, of course, we are all cells in the body of humanity. We are not separate from our fellow humans. The whole thing is a totality. It's only from that higher viewpoint that you can know what it is to love your neighbor as yourself. From that higher viewpoint there becomes just one realistic way to work, and that is for the good of the whole. As long as you work for your selfish little self, you're just one cell against all those other cells, and you're way out of harmony. But as soon as you begin working for the good of the whole, you find yourself in harmony with all of your fellow human beings. You see, it's the easy, harmonious way to live.
Then there is the third relinquishment, and that is the relinquishment of all attachments. No one is truly free who is still attached to material things, or to places, or to people. Material things must be put into their proper place. They are there for use. It's all right to use them, that's what they're there for. But when they've outlived their usefulness, be ready to relinquish them and perhaps pass them on to someone who does need them. Anything that you cannot relinquish when it has outlived its usefulness possesses you, and in this materialistic age a great many of us are possessed by our possessions. We are not free.
I considered myself liberated long before it became the fashion. First I liberated myself from debilitating habits, and went on to free myself of combative, aggressive thoughts. I have also cast aside any unnecessary possessions. This, I feel, is true liberation.
There is another kind of possessiveness. You do not possess any other human being, no matter how closely related that other may be. No husband owns his wife; no wife owns her husband; no parents own their children. When we think we possess people there is a tendency to run their lives for them, and out of this develops extremely inharmonious situations. Only when we realize that we do not possess them, that they must live in accordance with their own inner motivations, do we stop trying to run their lives for them, and then we discover that we are able to live in harmony with them. Anything that you strive to hold captive will hold you captive--and if you desire freedom you must give freedom.
Associations formed in this earth life are not necessarily for the duration of the life span. Separation takes place constantly, and as long as it takes place lovingly not only is there no spiritual injury, but spiritual progress may actually be helped.
We must be able to appreciate and enjoy the places where we tarry and yet pass on without anguish when we are called elsewhere. In our spiritual development we are often required to pull up roots many times and to close many chapters in our lives until we are no longer attached to any material thing and can love all people without any attachment to them.
Now the last: the relinquishment of all negative feelings. I want to mention just one negative feeling which the nicest people still experience, and that negative feeling is worry. Worry is not concern, which would motivate you to do everything possible in a situation. Worry is a useless mulling over of things we cannot change.
One final comment about negative feelings, which helped me very much at one time and has helped others. No outward thing--nothing, nobody from without--can hurt me inside, psychologically. I recognized that I could only be hurt psychologically by my own wrong actions, which I have control over; by my own wrong reactions (they are tricky, but I have control over them too); or by my own inaction in some situations, like the present world situation, that need action from me. When I recognized all this how free I felt! And I just stopped hurting myself. Now someone could do the meanest thing to me and I would feel deep compassion for this out-of-harmony person, this sick person, who is capable of doing mean things. I certainly would not hurt myself by a wrong reaction of bitterness or anger. You have complete control over whether you will be psychologically hurt or not, and anytime you want to, you can stop hurting yourself.
During this spiritual growing up period I desired to know and do God's will for me. Spiritual growth is not easily attained, but it is well worth the effort. It takes time, just as any growth takes time. One should rejoice at small gains and not be impatient, as impatience hampers growth.
The path of gradual relinquishment of things hindering spiritual progress is a difficult path, for only when relinquishment is complete do the rewards really come. The path of quick relinquishment is an easy path, for it brings immediate blessings. And when God fills your life, God's gifts overflow to bless all you touch.
To me, it was an escape from the artificiality of illusion into the richness of reality. To the world it may seem that I had given up much. I had given up burdensome possessions, spending time meaninglessly, doing things I knew I should not do and not doing things I knew I should do. But to me it seemed that I had gained much--even the priceless treasures of health and happiness.
There were hills and valleys, lot of hills and valleys, in that spiritual growing up period. Then in the midst of the struggle there came a wonderful mountaintop experience--the first glimpse of what the life of inner peace was like.
That came when I was out walking in the early morning. All of a sudden I felt very uplifted, more uplifted than I had ever been. I remember I knew timelessness and spacelessness and lightness. I did not seem to be walking on the earth. There were no people or even animals around, but every flower, every bush, every tree seemed to wear a halo. There was a light emanation around everything and flecks of gold fell like slanted rain through the air. This experience is sometimes called the illumination period.
The most important part of it was not the phenomena: the important part of it was the realization of the oneness of all creation. Not only all human beings--I knew before that all human beings are one. But now I knew also a oneness with the rest of creation. The creatures that walk the earth and the growing things of the earth. The air, the water, the earth itself. And, most wonderful of all, a oneness with that which permeates all and binds all together and gives life to all. A oneness with that which many would call God.
I have never felt separate since. I could return again and again to this wonderful mountaintop, and then I could stay there for longer and longer periods of time and just slip out occasionally.
The inspiration for the pilgrimage came at this time. I sat high upon a hill overlooking rural New England. The day before I had slipped out of harmony, and the evening before I had thought to God, "It seems to me that if I could always remain in harmony I could be of greater usefulness--for every time I slip out of harmony it impairs my usefulness."
When I awoke at dawn I was back on the spiritual mountaintop with a wonderful feeling. I knew that I would never need to descend again into the valley. I knew that for me the struggle was over, that finally I had succeeded in giving my life or finding inner peace. Again this is a point of no return. You can never go back into the struggle. The struggle is over now because you will to do the right thing and you don't need to be pushed into it.
I went out for a time along with God. While I was out a thought struck my mind: I felt a strong inner motivation toward the pilgrimage--toward this special way of witnessing for peace.
I saw, in my mind's eye, myself walking along and wearing the garb of my mission...I saw a map of the United States with the large cities marked--and it was as though someone had taken a colored crayon and marked a zigzag line across, coast to coast and border to border, from Los Angeles to New York City. I knew what I was to do. And that was a vision of my first year's pilgrimage route in 1953!
I entered a new and wonderful world. My life was blessed with a meaningful purpose.
However, progress was not over. Great progress has taken place in this third phase of my life. It's as though the central figure of the jigsaw puzzle of my life is complete and clear and unchanging, and around the edges other pieces keep fitting in. There is always a growing edge, but the progress is harmonious. There is a feeling of always being surrounded by all of the good things, like love and peace and joy. It seems like a protective surrounding, and there is an unshakeableness within which takes you through any situation you may need to face.
The world may look at you and believe that you are facing great problems, but always there are the inner resources to easily overcome the problems. Nothing seems difficult. There is a calmness and a serenity and unhurriedness--no more striving or straining about anything. That's a very important thing I've learned. If your life is in harmony with your part in the Life Pattern, and if you are obedient to the laws which govern this universe, then life is full and life is good but life is nevermore overcrowded. If it is overcrowded, then you are doing more than is right for you to do--more than is your job to do in the total scheme of things.
Now there is a living to give instead of to get. As you concentrate on the giving, you discover that just as you cannot receive without giving, so neither can you give without receiving--even the most wonderful things like health and happiness and inner peace. There is a feeling of endless energy, it just never runs out; it seems to be as endless as air. You seem to be plugged in to the source of universal energy.
You are now in control of your life. Your higher nature, which is controlled by God, controls the body, mind, and emotions. (The ego is never really in control, The ego is controlled by wishes for comfort and convenience on the part of the body, by demands of the mind, and by outbursts of the emotions.)
I can say to my body, "Lie down there on that cement floor and go to sleep," and it obeys. I can say to my mind, "Shut out everything else and concentrate on the job before you," and it is obedient. I can say to my emotions, "Be still, even in the face of this terrible situation," and they are still. A great philosopher has said, he who seems to be out of step may be following a different drummer. And now you are following a different drummer: the higher nature instead of the lower nature.
When you have done the spiritual growing up you realize that every human being is of equal importance, has work to do in this world, and has equal potential. We are in many varied stages of growth; this is true because we have free will. You have free will as to whether you will finish the mental and emotional growing up.
Many choose not to. You have free will as to whether you will begin the spiritual growing up. The beginning of it is the time when you feel completely willing, without any reservations, to leave the self-centered life. And most choose not to. But it was doing that growth and finding inner peace that prepared me for the pilgrimage that I walk today.
Looking through the eyes of the divine nature you see the essence within the manifestation, the creator within the creation, and it is a wonderful, wonderful world!
I realized in 1952 that it was the proper time for a pilgrim to step forth. The war in Korea was raging and the McCarthy era was at its height. It was a time when congressional committees considered people guilty until they could prove their innocence. There was great fear at that time and it was safest to be apathetic. Yes, it was most certainly a time for a pilgrim to step forward, because a pilgrim's job is to rouse people from apathy and make them think.
With the last bit of money I had left, I bought not only paper and stencil for my first messages but material for my first tunic. Although I designed it, the sewing was done by a lady in California, and the lettering was painted by a man who was a sign painter. My initial reaction when I first put it on was a wonderful "rightness" about it, and I immediately accepted it.