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Can We Talk to God? offers readers a framework for prayer that ...
Can We Talk to God? offers readers a framework for prayer that is compatible with traditional religion, yet moves beyond it in the recognition of a divine presence within each person. This book sets forth the teaching of Ernest Holmes, called Science of Mind, which is a synthesis of the greatest ideas of religion, science and philosophy. Originally published in 1934 as The Ebell Lectures on Spiritual Science, it is as fresh and profound today as it was then, offering readers answers to such important questions as:
Many readers wonder, Can I talk to God? This beautiful book answers with a resounding YES!, and shows readers the way. The method of prayer it teaches will open the door to healthier, happier living.
Can We Talk to God?
Can we talk to God? We all know we can talk at God, but it is a different proposition to consider whether we can talk to God. I am considering the topic from the standpoint of communication. Unless we are conscious that we are talking to God and God is conscious that He is being talked to, we certainly cannot communicate with God. There can be no real communication without a reciprocity of ideas. Either we can talk to God or we cannot. If we cannot, we may as well realize it and no longer try, and if we can, we feel certain that a little conversation with the Deity would do us more good than much conversation with each other.
In the old order of thought, we talked at God. We felt as though our prayers ascended and hit the Divine ear, and if this were true, they must too often have hit this Divine ear with a discordant note.
In the new idea of life, we are thinking of God as a Universal Principle, Intelligence, and Power; as the essence and energy of being. We are thinking of God—or attempting to, at least—in universal terms, but it is impossible for the finite to grasp the meaning of the Infinite. The Infinite signifies that which is beyond human knowledge. We are thinking of God as a universal and infinite Being, as perfect law, the immutable law of cause and effect, and in doing this, discarding the ancient idea of a huge person in the nature of the Deity, we are undoubtedly losing something; we are losing the sense of personal contact with this invisible power, and we are liable to think of God only as law, or as an Infinite It. Now an Infinite It is a very adequate thing in certain respects, but in other respects it is very inadequate. We could not derive much comfort, pleasure or joy from talking to the principle of chemical affinity (yet we do derive a great benefit from learning that such a law exists). Neither can we hope to get much satisfaction from thinking of God only as an Infinite It.
We are intelligent; we think, know and understand, at least, something. Can we suppose that we are accidents? Can we believe that the works of William Shakespeare are the result of an explosion in a type factory?
There must be, and there is, a Universal consciousness which directly responds to our thought and is in contact with it. Not only does the human heart long for such a possibility, but the human mind comprehends, understands, senses, feels and knows it. There are moments when the individual consciousness feels itself merged with the Universal, then it knows and no longer asks for explanations. The heart longs for, the mind comprehends and the intellect needs such a contact—the influx of divine ideas stimulating the will to divine purposefulness. It is fundamental to our belief that there is a Presence in the universe with which we may consciously communicate and which will consciously respond to such communication. We hold this as fundamental to any consistent philosophy or religion, not only because we long for and actually need it, but because such a Presence is an inevitable necessity.
How can we assume that, with our finite minds, or even the united intelligence of finite minds, we comprehend all there is? How can we assume that a finite mind constitutes the only intelligence in the universe, or that there is nothing beyond our present comprehension? How can we assume that we could be, unless Being itself is a fact? Could we recognize anything unless Being itself is a fact? Could we recognize anything unless that which recognizes existed before the thing which is recognized? With what is it, then, that we recognize unless it is with some intelligence within us that is in unity with the great and final Intelligence, the Eternal Being? We have not, cannot and never shall exhaust Its totality. But we must assume that this final Being is conscious of us as part of Itself, and if this be true, it must be true that we can communicate with It. But we realize that we cannot communicate with a God external to our own nature of being, for the simple reason that we cannot know anything beyond our own knowledge. In other words, there is an Intelligence and a responsive Presence in the universe. There is a God who knows, cares, understands and responds, but only through our own nature.
We must be careful, in the transition from the old to the new, not to knock props from under us which perhaps we still need; not to rob people of their God unless we can give them a better one, for that is the most destructive thing in the world. I would rather see someone with a poor idea of Deity, than to see him or her have no concept of Deity at all, because we must all interpret God through our perception of the Divine Being. In the transition, then, let us be careful that in place of every false supposition which we once had, we shall find a divine reality which is an eternal verity. There was never any counterfeit made until after there had been a proven reality, and the idea which has been instinctive in the mind of humanity—the idea of our personal relationship to the Deity—is not there without a reason. It is a proclamation that the Deity indwells our own soul and that we are intuitively conscious of this Divine Fact.
That instinctive sense of the Divine Presence which is inherent in us all is there because it is true, and in the state of each person's intellectual capacity to perceive truth, it comes out, and to each of us becomes our God. It is forever proclaiming its own being. There is a Power and a Presence in the universe which responds to us so completely, so perfectly, that we shall be amazed when we realize how completely, and how perfectly, but it can only operate for us through us. Our communication with God must of necessity be, and always remain, an inner light; we communicate with the indwelling God.
I doubt not that there is a God beyond our finite comprehension, for the nature of God is to be universal, but it is the nature of humankind to be so constituted that we can know nothing outside the confines of our own knowledge; this is self-evident. Hence, the only God we can know is the God which we sense, and since this is an inner light, it is God in and through us. This is the only God we can know; this is the God who responds to us, and I sense that in every altruistic act, in every true charity which is love, in every expression of right emotion, that this is God-action through the individual, a direct response. And it is logical to suppose that since the nature of God is constructive, is goodness, peace, purity and love, light and wisdom, that we truly communicate with the divine only as we truly approach the nature of reality through harmony, through receptivity, peace and joy. And I can see that as our mental attitudes hinder the divine from flowing through us we do not approach God consciously; therefore we do not contact harmony subjectively, and hence we suffer objectively. This is the immutable Law of Cause and Effect.
There is something in us that longs for the sympathetic understanding, the kindly response, the sense of a presence which is warm, pulsating and colorful. We must have it, and I sense that as we meet each other in love and friendship, in the warmth of a handshake and in good fellowship, it is God. What else could it be? The hand that gives is the hand of God, and the eye that sees is the eye of God. In each other, through each other, we contact God, but God is more than this. If this were the only God there is, then the artist would have painted a picture and stepped into it, being completely lost in his own work. Now, do we say that art is greater than the artist or thought greater than the mind which conceived it? The poem is not the poet, who has breathed into, animated and created it, and it will stay, so long as his or her consciousness exists, but he or she has not stepped into it; some day he will write another and a better poem. Neither is God absorbed by law or creation.
I think that as we contact each other we are contacting a definite, direct manifestation of Deity; when we talk to each other, I think that God is talking to God; but I do not think that this is the only God there is. If it were, our finite knowledge would have exhausted the Infinite and there would be no God beyond our conversation.
We long for a conscious approach to the Infinite. It is as necessary to the nature and the intellect of humankind as food is to the well-being of our physical bodies, this Divine nourishment. What is true on one plane is true on all. Those of us who are seeking to understand the truth, and the breadth, width and depth of Science of Mind must realize that these things are possible. Of what ultimate value would a religion or philosophy be to the world which simply taught it a few laws of cause and effect, or how to heal a pain? This is good and wonderful, but unless it teaches how to live and how to be, unless it gives something which is a divine certainty of life and being, it is useless.
Prosperity is inevitable if a person's mind is right. Nothing can stop it. Healing is inevitable if a person is in harmony with life. There is nothing that can stop it. It is a law. We are to use consciously this law, but we can use it only to the degree in which our consciousness is unified with Truth. But we must not go searching after God. God is in you and in me. Therefore we each must penetrate more deeply into our own nature, and just so surely as we do, we will have a very marvelous experience. We will find a depth to ourself that we have never realized. It will be a sane, spiritual experience. We will sense a something within that we never dreamed of. We have read about it, but we never dreamed it was within us. This is where we meet God. And we are going to learn this: that we can talk to God just as consciously as we talk to people, and that if we expect it, believe it and feel it, we will receive just as direct a response. We will not receive an audible word because God's audible word is placed, in this creation, in the mouths of individuals. This is the only audible word God has on this plane.
God speaks every time a scientist discovers a new thing, every time an inventor invents a new thing—God speaks, and wherever truth is proclaimed, God is speaking. But the person who goes deeply into his or her own nature will find that God speaks in a language more subtle than the human language, without a tongue, in that universal language of spiritual emotion which is instinctive in human and in brute, and held in common by all civilization, by all creation, by all people who have lived—the universal language of emotion, sense, feeling, intuition, instinct. Sometimes we call it conscience, sometimes we call it a hunch, sometimes we call it a vision, a dream. It makes no difference what we call it. It is a direct revelation of Omniscience through us.
And so we learn to go deeply into ourselves and to speak as though there were a Presence there which knows; and we should take the time to unearth this hidden cause, to penetrate this inner chamber of consciousness which but few people realize exists. It is most worthwhile to talk to the Universal Spirit, when we talk in the right way. Do not talk at It; talk to It. Sense and feel that It is within you, that the approach to It is direct, through your own consciousness. That It is just as conscious of you as you are of It—since your consciousness of It must be, in the last analysis, and is, Its consciousness of Itself. Hence as we recognize It, It recognizes us. As we go out to meet It, It comes out to meet us. This is the meaning of the story of the Prodigal Son. Always we are met halfway. Always the Spirit corresponds to our belief in and receptivity to It. Hence there is a power within, to which each may come; a Presence which is Light; a Spirit which is guidance. This is fundamental to the understanding of the Science of Mind. There is a Spirit which knows. This is God. This Spirit which knows, knows us. It corresponds, It responds. It flows through us. Whatever intelligence we have is It, in us.
We differentiate between the Law and the Spirit; the Spirit directs and guides, the Law executes, and creation is the result. This is the Trinity—the Thing, the way it works and what it does. The constructive use of the law—always seeking to use it in the right way, for good only—is what is meant by the Spirit of Christ. The destructive use of the law—using it only for selfish, personal or conflicting aims—is what is meant by the spirit of Antichrist. However, there is nothing in either the Spirit or the Law of the universe which denies us the most complete use of it, provided we use it constructively. In other words, God wants us to have more than we have. The Spirit desires a complete expression of Itself. Hence, the more we enjoy, the more It is expressed.
Consider the Spirit as a warm, pulsating, reciprocal thing. It presses against us; It flows through us. It is our intelligence. It is a great universal urge and surge. It is a warm colorful thing. It is a beautiful thing. It cannot be put into words. You can only feel it. But consider the Law as a cold fact, nothing else. It has no motive of its own. It is just a power, a blind force, but it is an intelligent, an executing and immutable force. The law is the servant of the Spirit. Consider creation—whether it be the vast body of the Cosmos, or the suit of clothes, or the dress we have on—as some effect of intelligence operating through law and you have the whole proposition as clear as can be that there is a power in the universe which knows, a law which does, a creation which corresponds. Creation does not respond, it only corresponds. Now that is what we mean when we speak of Divine Principle. Divine Principle is not God any more than electricity is God. It is a law of God, just as electricity is a law of God. It is a mental law of cause and effect. When you impress your thought upon it, it is its nature to take that thought and execute it, exactly as you think it. If there is destruction in the thought, it must destroy. If there is good in the thought, it will execute goodness or healing. This is the principle governing spiritual science, and, unless such a principle were, spiritual science could not be. Know that there is something more than law; an intelligence to which we may come for inspiration, for guidance, for direction; a power responding to us, a Presence pressing against us, an animation flowing through us, a light within us.
This is the constitution of Being, the Eternal God, the Everlasting Spirit, the Father.
(c)1992. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Can We Talk To God? by Ernest Holmes. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.