BEYOND THE SILENCE
One of the most important things to remember in connection with the silence is the fact that it is only a means to an end. In order that the fullest benefits may be derived from the practice of the silence, one must constantly go beyond the point of mere mental stillness and allow the elements of the spiritual realm to come forth into consciousness. For beyond the silence is the answer to every question, the fulfillment of every desire, and the solution to every problem that can arise in the experiences of life.
All the progress of the race in any direction has come from a knowing or an unknowing practice of the principles involved in the silence. True, not everyone who has brought forth new ideas has recognized his oneness with God-Mind, but every progressive idea has come directly or indirectly from the one creative Mind. Because the individual received that idea, he must at some moment have been in tune with this Mind. Aside from the experience of mystics and philosophers of the past, this realm of the infinite Mind, even though it is "over all, and through all, and in all," is an unexplored country. Though man has enjoyed many of its benefits, he has seldom known or recognized their source, nor the process by which they have been brought forth for him.
In exploring a strange country it is always wise for the traveler to have guides who lead the way. Aimless wandering among strange surroundings seldom yields satisfying results. The guides into the realm beyond the silence are faith, interest, and a steadfast vision toward the highest. These factors of the mind lend stability to its action and keep the individual from wandering into bypaths. They insure the possibility of realizing the objective beyond the silence, by leading the traveler into the one Presence and one Power of the universe, where all things are revealed.
It is said that God has His second best for those who will not have His best. Dare to seek the highest; dare to approach the very heart of the Most High; dare to make direct contact with the all-knowing, all-loving Father of the universe and to let His Spirit fill your consciousness with new light, your body with new life, and your whole being with new substance.
We follow where attention and interest lead, and there comes to us a revelation of the nature of the object on which our attention and interest are centered. If they are centered on the bypaths, or the mere results we think that we desire, we may receive the by-products of life; but not the satisfaction that comes with genuine spiritual attainment, wherein is life itself. If they lead into the very heart of Being, there comes to us the Truth that makes free, the knowledge that makes alive.
"Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace." Acquaintance comes through association, and association involves a mutual exchange of thought and feeling. We become acquainted with others as they express themselves to us in terms of thought and feeling. We shall come to know God by giving Him opportunity to reveal Himself to us in terms of His own thought and feeling toward us. We may know God in a general sense, but our knowing never reaches the point of acquaintanceship until we have stilled our mind long enough to register those things by which and through which God reveals Himself. "Be still, and know." Be still, and know.
No doubt everyone has had some experience with the type of mind that belongs to the person who might be termed the "talkative questioner." This person is very eager to ask you some question—or usually questions. No sooner is the first question out of his mouth than he begins talking, sometimes about the question in his mind, and sometimes on unrelated subjects. Should you be given opportunity to attempt an answer, instead of listening to your answer this person is formulating still another question, and so on indefinitely. Finally, after a session of considerable duration he exhausts either himself, his time, or his breath and bids you good-by, entirely forgetting about the question that he originally asked. Every metaphysician has met minds of this type. You can become very well acquainted with a person of this sort, but he himself receives little from the acquaintance except the reaction of his own thoughts.
In our search for divine revelation, do we not often proceed somewhat after this fashion? Do we not too often keep up an incessant clamor of some sort, either prayers, affirmations, or rituals, until it is quite impossible for the Spirit of truth to make itself known to us? Just as we learn, from friends and other sources, ideas that come from beyond our present concepts, just so shall we learn the things that are in God, and infinitely beyond our present ideas, by allowing Him at least some opportunity to answer our questions and to reveal Himself to us as the source and the supply of our every need.
When a person learns to be still long enough actually to feel or to be conscious of the presence of God, a new understanding begins to develop in his consciousness. Ideals so developed convey more meaning and power than ideas originating from other sources. One may gain a knowledge of the difference in the force of various ideas by studying the difference between the casual thought and the thought that comes from one's deepest conviction. It is therefore easy to comprehend how thoughts coming from the very foundation of one's being, from the very source of life itself, convey a transcendent power. It should be kept in mind that ideas convey power in accordance with the source from which they arise and the realm in which they function. It is especially important that this be remembered in connection with the use of affirmation.
The mere repetition of an affirmation carries only the power that is characteristic of the mental plane. A parrot might be taught to repeat the most intricate mathematical rule, but would it be possible for the parrot to speak with the authority and power of a mathematician who fully comprehended the meaning of the rule? This is the exact difference between "vain repetitions" and speaking from an inner conviction of Truth. Ideas expressed in the realization or understanding that they are statements of absolute Truth, and that within the idea itself is a moving force which is spiritual, increase to a very great extent the power and authority of the affirmation. The most potent thought, however, is the one that comes forth as a conscious revelation from the Spirit within man, and its potency is retained just as long as the thought is allowed to function consciously as an expression of Divine Mind, unadulterated by the efforts, emphasis, or other characteristics of the purely personal mind.
It is impossible to foretell just what your response from beyond the silence will be, or in what form it will come. It may come from within your own nature, or it may come through the word of a friend or through the printed pages of some book. However, it will be whatever is most needed in your spiritual development and it will come by any channel through which your consciousness can be reached.
Your work is to prepare your entire consciousness so that you may be most receptive to the inspiration of Spirit. No response will come except that which is born of God, if you are faithful in your realization that there is "but one Presence and one Power in the universe." As your search for Truth continues, there will be built into your being more of the elements of God, and this will increase your ability to comprehend still more of God, just as every bit of developed musical consciousness increases an individual's musical comprehension. "For who among men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man, which is in him? even so the things of God none knoweth save the Spirit of God."
You can more easily understand some of the things that will come to you in response to the practice of the silence if you will recall your experience with the echo to which we have previously referred. If you were sufficiently interested to listen after the echo had entirely died away, you would first have become aware of a great calm or sense of stillness that would have seemed literally to settle down and to permeate the entire atmosphere of your surroundings. Two planes of discovery may be opened to you out of or from beyond this stillness. First, you may record through your senses the sights and sounds that come through the keenness of mind that is possible only in moments of intense stillness. Again, you may record impulses of nature that are not discernible to the seeing eye or the hearing ear. But beyond this is a still greater and more significant fact, for the silence itself is your direct revelation of the very first characteristic of the divine nature. God moves through His creation in absolute silence, and this is why it is difficult for some persons to believe in the presence and reality of God. As Dr. Frank Crane has said, "He never blusters, hence humbugs cannot understand how He exists." God does not reveal Himself to man through any sensational display of force, but through the quietness of His own nature.
The moment it dawns on you that the first sense of stillness which you feel as you practice the silence is the actual presence of God, that moment you have passed into the realm "beyond the silence," for then there comes to you a conscious revelation of one of the outstanding characteristics of God Himself. But back of the silent nature of God lie all the numberless phases and degrees of Him who is all. The silence then becomes the locus for receiving the inspiration of the Almighty that gives understanding; the locus where the Spirit of truth becomes the only teacher, where man gains knowledge of the Infinite at first hand. Silence ceases to be mere stillness and becomes the unfolding presence of Divinity itself. At this moment you have literally touched the hem of His garment, and the complete reconstruction of your nature begins.
As it begins to dawn on you that you have actual contact with God in this sense of stillness, you will no doubt feel some degree of exaltation or inspiration. You may be conscious of this as a quickening energy, filling your entire being. This exaltation in turn should be acknowledged as of God—as the very quickening power of His Spirit. It is the divine presence manifest as the vitalizing life of Spirit, and the whole being should be relaxed and open to receive it as such. Again, great and inspiring ideas may come, and these in turn should be recognized as coming from the Father-Mind to enrich and enlighten the consciousness.
Revelation is likely to come to you through whatever avenue of your mind is most open or receptive to Divine Mind. Some persons receive their revelations in symbols, or in mental pictures, or in symbolical dreams. To these is given the additional task of interpreting the symbol and discovering the hidden meaning. But many who receive these symbols are content merely to contemplate the mental picture or to recite the mere "story" part of a dream without regard to the meaning. If any practical value is to be gained from these visions or dreams, their meaning must be understood. "What is the meaning of these things?" is the question for such a person to ask of himself and of the infinite Mind from which all true knowledge comes. The interpretation follows easily if one recognizes that the symbols come from Spirit and if one then seeks in Spirit to find their meaning. Through seeking thus to understand the direct meaning of all such experiences, one becomes more and more conscious of the inspiration of Spirit, and sooner or later one's revelations will assume more direct form and the symbols become fewer and fewer.
But very often someone will say that even though he has practiced the silence faithfully, seeking an answer to some question, the answer is not forthcoming. The truth is that the answer has been present all the time. The very fact that the one all-knowing Mind interpenetrates your mind and being, just as light interpenetrates glass, involves the further fact that the answer to your question is in that mind and that the answer is therefore in you, through you, and around you. Often we hinder the progress of the answer in its coming forth into our consciousness by denying it. We say, "The answer did not come," thereby closing the door of our consciousness so that the answer, awaiting us, cannot come in. The right attitude to assume is this: "Because God knows. I also know, for I am in God and God is in me." Acknowledging God in all our ways is the surest way of preparing the mind to receive blessings beyond our present ability to contain them.
People sometimes ask, "How may we know that the response which comes to us in this way is spiritual?" To make sure that your response is spiritual, you must begin with the premise set down in the first lesson of this course: "There is but one Presence and one Power in the universe." If this truth becomes firmly established in consciousness, the mind is not open to receive impressions from any other source. It is only our belief in other forces and powers that makes them seem real to us. It is our faith in things that puts us in contact with them, and if we believe only in God, only the Spirit of God can manifest itself in us. But the mind must become "stayed" on Him.
One must learn that, first of all, the silence is a definite opening of the mind to the revelations of the Spirit of God. The silence is not the opening of the mind to anything that may choose to come along; neither is it a search into the subconscious mind to discover things of the past, or the purported powers contained therein. It is a search into the superconscious mind to discover the ideas and ideals that function in the perfect Mind of God. This rule should be remembered continually and practiced very diligently.
As a natural result of practicing the silence, there is a marked increase in the mental and physical forces of the individual. It is therefore of greatest importance that every seeker after Truth begin consciously to direct all his forces into channels that seem at the time to be most desirable and tend toward the furtherance of his highest ideals. In other words self-control becomes a necessary part of the practice of the student. Here, however, a distinct difference must be recognized between suppression and direction of one's forces. One may, by mere force of will, dominate any mental or physical force, and seem to control it; but the ultimate result of this method is detrimental. A very good mental attitude to assume is: "All the forces of my mind and body are under the direction of divine intelligence; they are lifted up daily, supporting the Christ ideal now forming itself in me." The next step will be daily to incorporate these awakened forces into the very fabric of one's being—to make them a part of oneself, rather than to direct them to the attainment of mere possessions. Say, "I am the wisdom of God made manifest; I am the love of God brought forth; I am the strength of God expressed; I am the life of God quickening all creation with living energy," or words to that effect, as wisdom, love, strength, or life is awakened in you in new degree. Always remember that each of these is divine, that each remains in the Father and at the same time becomes a part of you as a manifestation of the Father. In other words, a truly spiritual being is one conscious that all things taking place in his being are divine in origin, divine in action, and divine in results.
The Awakened Mind
The revelations that come through the practice of the silence are not attained by a slowing up of the mental processes. The revelations that come to us from outside sources —friends, books, and the like—do not require that we slow up our mental action. Quite the reverse is true, for mental activity is increased through an increased interest and through the receiving of new ideas and ideals. Every bit of additional information that registers in consciousness quickens the mental processes. The kind of action or quickening is determined by the nature of the information. Sad news makes one sad, joyous news makes one joyous, and spiritual revelation fills one with the quickening energy of Spirit. Divine Mind is a realm of supreme activity, and when it finds expression in the individual, his mental action is accordingly increased.
At this point it is natural for one to wonder through what particular avenue spiritual revelation may come. This is difficult to determine, because it may come through any avenue. If one is accustomed to look at the beauties of nature through his physical eyes and to contemplate nature as the handiwork of God, such contemplation is sure to bring some degree of spiritual illumination. The same is true of a like application of any of the other senses, for God is all, in all, through all, and above all, and beside Him there is no other. Wherever man earnestly looks for God he will eventually find Him to some degree. However, one seems naturally to expect spiritual revelation to come through the intuitive faculty, the avenue through which are registered impressions of a character too fine for the other senses to convey. "God is Spirit, and the things of God are spiritually discerned."
When a person discovers that the things of God are spiritually discerned, he often begins to belittle the senses and to deny the plane revealed by them. This should not be done, because the senses play their own vital part in developing complete consciousness. Through the testimony of every available source of information, the whole Truth is established. The intuitive faculty is an additional source of information. When, in addition to seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling, one can also discern the underlying and creative principle that brought forth the thing that is seen, smelled, heard, tasted, and felt, then one knows the whole Truth and can "speak with the tongues of men and of angels." In approaching life from this basis, the eyes will see with a keener vision, the ears hear with a greater accuracy, and all the other senses will become strengthened, each tending to register more nearly the truth about everything and everybody.
Beyond the Answer
We can but illustrate in a general way the infinite blessings that come from beyond the silence, from beyond the present range of our sense perception, and hence from beyond the comprehension of our present understanding. Man can really know of these blessings only by being still, by receiving the inspiration of the Almighty and by partaking of the divine nature for himself.
Beyond the silence is the answer to every question, but beyond the answer is the action or appropriation necessary to the fulfillment of our desire. Having found Spirit, "by the Spirit let us also walk," for only by action do we grow and only by daily conduct in accordance with our spiritual revelations do we become truly spiritual. It is not enough to live in the calm quiet of the silence, wonderful as that may be; neither is it enough to live in the great realm of spiritual inspiration which lies beyond the silence. Unless the things of Spirit are lived by us, unless they become vital parts of our conscious, active being, they fall short of fulfilling in us their divine purpose.
These lessons have been a mere introduction, as it were, to the great realm of infinite blessings that God has created for all men. They are not to be followed too literally. Out of the points that have been presented take those that seem to be of help in your specific case; apply them in earnestness, looking to the infinite Mind within you for your own revelations as to just what the silence is and what the great secrets of life are.
What your own soul sanctions is Truth to you for the moment, and in its revelations to you the Spirit of truth in you has spoken. That this voice of Truth may continue to speak to you long after the lessons are forgotten is the real object of the lessons themselves. Look to the country that we have tried to point out to you, and leave by the wayside the sign which has merely served the purpose of pointing out the way. The Spirit of truth you have always with you, and it is your eternal and sure guide into the way of all Truth; it will speak to you if you listen for its words.