METAPHYSICAL BIBLE INTERPRETATION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
This is a series of lectures given by Mr. Edward Rabel, member of the faculty of S.M.R.S.
Fall semester 1975 - 2nd. Yr. Class. Lecture given on November 14, 1975
Neh. 2:15-16, pp. 277-282 of transcript.
In the 2nd Chapter, 20th verse of Habakkuk, we hear this well-known quotation,
"The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him."
In another book of prophets, Nehemiah, Chapter 2, verses 15 and 16, we have a quote which is actually related to the idea in the Habakkuk quote but doesn't sound as though it's related to it until you get an interpretation to make the connection.
In Nehemiah we read,
"Then I went up in the night by the brook and viewed the wall; and I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and returned. And the rulers knew not whether I went nor what I did; neither had I as yet told it to the Jews nor to the priests nor to the nobles nor to the rulers nor to the rest that did the work."
Then we learn in that book that the building project he's referring to was completely successful under his directorship after he had refrained from talking about it all over the place. Now, "the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him." This is one of the many places in the Bible where for him who has eyes to see, we're being told something about the value of silence, the wisdom of it.
In contrast to what many persons think is the alternative, mechanical, undirected, talking - perhaps you've known persons who have a manner known as gesturing, aimless gesturing. Such persons are usually not fully aware that they're doing this, and therefore, they cannot be blamed for it, and yet they do have a somewhat irritating and wearing effect on people around them. Now, that's in the physical realm of nervous mannerisms and body language; but in the mental and emotional realm of speaking, of communication, of the power of the word, the same thing goes on such more frequently in a lot of persons who really do know better.
The Bible more than once reminds us, for those who have ears to hear, that the realm of Spirit and actually the language of Spirit, is to human sense silence. The language of communication of Spirit is knowing and feeling or feeling and knowing, and to human senses, feeling and knowing are the silence. Feeling doesn't make noise, knowing doesn't make noise, but still it's a language, it's a mode of communication on a level higher than the senses, so to the senses, that language, which is loud and clear is still silence. It's the language of feeling and knowing.
We know that in silence the mightiest works of God are done and one of the great obstacles to spiritual accomplishment is unnecessary noise-making, mostly in the form of talking. Often this talking consists of an inner clamor of negative dialogue, or argument, or promising - oh, how much of negative talking consists of promising, and justifying - I'm bored because you're not a good teacher. Naturally the truth is, I'm bored because I'm a boring person. See, that's the true reason why any of us are bored. Not because the other person is boring, but we're boring and we're feeling our own - we're talking to ourselves in our own boring language, so we're bored.
But we will justify it, we will give it an excuse, but we will know, or we should know, that too much mechanical talking can be very damaging. Keep the silence, says our prophet, especially inner silence, and the law of good, the Lord, will be able to accomplish many wonderful things. The Lord is in His holy temple, let all the word keep silence before Him. Not perpetual silence of course, but at least more than is usually observed.
Now, just as frequent aimless gestures dissipate physical energy, so does frequent aimless talking dissipate psychic energy. A conscious-directed silence can cause a very useful accumulation of different levels of energy, especially psychic. Psychic energy is a phrase we usually mean to refer to energy not being expended on the physical plane, but on the mental, the emotional and the various inner levels of - soul energy. But, remember, conscious silence, directed silence, motivated silence actually causes a conservation and an accumulation of energy on different levels, but most importantly on the conscious level, or soul level.
This same idea I brought out here is taken up in the book of Nehemiah, in that quote, and I'll read it again, there's a big job to be done, a wall is to be built, a whole city is to be rebuilt and the resources are very limited, the chances are risky and Nehemiah is chosen to lead this work, and then we read that he went up into the night by the brook, viewed the wall, turned back, entered by the valley gate. The rulers knew not whither I went, nor what I did, and yet neither had I as yet told it to the Jews nor to the priests, nor to the nobles.
He seemed very careful in listing those he didn't talk to. Why didn't he just say, "I didn't tell anyone." He's making a point here, it's quite obvious, nor to the rest that did the work. Now, the question is, why do you suppose such a point is made by the writer about Nehemiah not talking much in advance about what he was intending to do? Is it significant that Nehemiah was highly successful in all his works, and this makes some wonder why Jesus always did advise, "tell no man" and similar admonitions?
I would say, because mechanical, useless talking has a very strange way of dissipating forces. Mechanical talking has a tendency always to drift into the negative, because mechanical talking is downhill coasting, and almost inevitably it reaches the level called negative, and you know what negative talking can do. The same is true on uncontrolled or undirected thinking, ruminating or reactionary type of thinking - it almost always gravitates to the negative. In the silence as we were speaking of it, we said conscious silence, that is, you're silent, you know you're silent, and you may attain a moment of pure silence and there you transcend human thinking, and then you are one with pure knowing, and that ordinarily would not last long they don't mean long in the silence, there is no time in spirit.
Q. Does that mean that in the silence we are not conscious of it?
A. You're fully conscious then, totally conscious.
Conscious silence conserves and builds up inner force. Jesus warned about idle words. True silence is golden. One of the most beneficial practices I have experienced is to observe my periods of talking and observe my periods of silence. I don't say you're going to always do this, but I do say, do some of it. Observe yourself talking while you're talking, be your audience, your own listener and judge what you're hearing, instead of just identifying with all your own talking and entering into it that way, just sort of half-conscious way. Observe your own talking, your own words and see what you think. What I have found it does for me, it acted in a manner which cut down of my mechanical performances of both. See? Then if you do this, you'll find that you bring consciousness more and more into your talking periods and more and more into your silent periods and this, of course, would increase consciousness and an increase of consciousness is always an increase of good in all areas of your life.
Now, we know that in Unity we are very, very strong on the power of the word and the ministry of the word and certainly we should be; that's really what we're all about, but there's a big difference, friends, between the ministry of the word and aimless talking, right? Just as there's such a big difference between useful work and aimless gestures. So, it is the silence which makes the ministry of the word possible, since silence is the source of the word, the word is not the source of the silence, but the other way around.
You will become a much more effective minister of the spoken word as you observe more and more conscious periods of silence. Because in the silence remember that you are in the home town of spirit, and in that home town of spirit there is one valid language and it is the language of knowing and feeling, which can be only in the silence.
Then, we take that purity of language, that purity of power which is spirit, that purity of strength which is stillness and then we take it into the impure realm called relative existence. And what do we do with it, in that realm? (A. We adulterate it.) Would you really say you were adulterating the power of God's word in you when you're bringing it into a very unpleasant counseling situation to help a counselee? You wouldn't call it adulterate, would you? Wouldn't you call it doing the work of spirit in an adulterated situation to help reduce the adulteration of it, and make it more like God's plan, God's original plan? I'm speaking now of when you take the power of silence, the purity of stillness and the true word of spirit - let me go back again.
Pure power is silence, pure strength is stillness, pure communication is feeling and knowing. Now, it is only we as human beings, existing in this relative realm that we're in, make contact with this purity only when we become still and silent and are willing to listen to the voice of spirit. We call this meditation, prayer, conscious silence. When we do this we are connected to these pure qualities in the source, in the spirit. We are imbued with a greater degree of these qualities in our consciousness, in our soul, in our being, but then what if we hold, stopped there and stayed cosmic - we don't belong there. We can go there, but we don't have our business there, we don't perform our service there. Someday we will, perhaps, but not yet. We have to fulfill where we're at before we can get to where we can be. O.K. So, what we gain in realization, in consciousness from these silent, prayerful meditations, open-minded periods, we then take this and we are to serve with it, share with it, in our realm. In order to do this - - we use it, yes, we distribute it, we radiate it, we express it into our world, and by doing that we're giving of the spirit as we have received it.
Now, under the law, what we give increases in greater receptivity, and this a round of increase and growth and unfoldment and evolution. Therefore, we do carry out our ministry of the word and our ministry of service, but we do not want it to be just one-sided, always talking, always doing, because you have your infilling. So, you take your moments and you stop that and do the other. The silence is the power, the stillness, which is strength and the language of spirit, which is the feeling and knowing and we have the most wonderful method of doing this, which is meditation and prayer. This is in contrast to what the Bible so often warns us about, which is the constant squandering of the power of the word in undirected, mechanical talking, chatter.
Now, I did want to bring up one point here, however, lest I make a wrong impression. There have been students who have learned this and who have agreed with it, and then something strange and unpleasant happened in their personalities, in their social life, I'll bet you're way ahead of me - they went too far overboard on it, and they started to refuse or to withdraw from social intercourse and chit-chat. Would you call social intercourse and chit-chat necessarily mechanical, useless talking? No. Haven't you found yourself in a group in which you were all silly, you were all talking very silly - you were gabbing, you were making all kinds of foolish remarks, and yet you knew something good was happening, good feelings were happening, this is that sociability type of talking and you might even be sounding as though you were talking negative, but you're not really. See? Like Adrienne and I will get together and I will say, "Well," I'll say, "That Martha's nothing but a big crank anyhow - blah, blah, blah". You're cheering each other up, you see, but it sounds like we're talking negatively, but it's not the letter, it's the spirit that counts. I don't think that Martha's anything like that, but I'll say it just to have something to say, to kind of play the game. Now, believe it or not, that's useful talking. A lot of this silly chatter that we engage in is useful, because we're reminding each other that we're human beings, that we're interested and that we see the silly side of life and that we're still not as perfect as we sometimes pretend we are, and this has a kind of a balancing effect on each other. It helps each other to tell we belong to each other, whatever plane we're on, we belong to each other. That's just as much a work of the Christ, to me, as saying, "You can't be sick - you're a perfect being, and you can't have any." To me, saying, "Boy, you're kind of cranky today, what's on your mind, Aleta been acting up again?" it's the language of human rapport, folks, the language of human rapport is just as constructive as the language of metaphysical technological correctness, probably more so. Now, there's a difference between this and what I just call mechanical, aimless talking and negativity. We learn this difference and this keeps us really on an even keel. Head in heaven, feet on earth, hands held toward each fellow human being.
Q. Many times in the phone room things will become very heavy after many calls and someone will say something very funny, maybe inane, but the silliness will break up the atmosphere and be very good.
A. Yes, this is especially true if you remain conscious during this. This is the secret, if you remain conscious. Don't turn off consciousness because then it becomes mechanical. Anything mechanical in human nature starts to gravitate toward you-know-what. Even day-dreaming, wishful thinking - if you remain conscious of it, it won't get negative.
Q. Are you saying then that we should live our lives sort of objectively looking at ourselves?
A. I would say up to the point where it becomes laborious. Then I would say to change tactics, when it becomes laborious. Frequent, motivated periods of it are very helpful. It keeps you in right perspective, and if nothing more, a Unity minister needs, than to maintain proper perspective with fellow human beings. Otherwise you could go into oddballness and we've got too much of that.
Transcribed by Margaret Garvin on February 15, 2015.