Practicing the Presence, Joel S. Goldsmith

At first, you may not understand why praying without ceasing or thinking about God has anything to do with your being happy, successful, or healthy. You may not even be able to see what connection God has with mundane affairs of life. This, of course, you are only going to discover through your own experience, because regardless of any testimony I may offer you of what it has done in my life, or the lives of thousands to whom I have taught this way of life, you will not be convinced until you yourself have had the actual experience.

Every person who has known dissatisfaction, incompleteness, and frustration will someday learn that there is only one missing link in his entire chain of harmonious living. That is the practice of the presence of God – consciously, daily, and hourly.

Chapter One – Spiritual Consciousness

The secret of harmonious living is the development of spiritual consciousness. In that consciousness, fear and anxiety disappear, and life becomes meaningful with fulfillment as its keynote. The degree of spiritual consciousness which we attain can be measured by the extent to which we relinquish our dependence on the external world of from and place of our faith and confidence in something greater than ourselves, in the infinite Invisible, which can surmount any and every obstacle. It is an awareness of the grace of God.

We all know the kind of peace that the world can give, but that is not the kind of peace that we need. Many of us think we would have peace, if we had enough supply, or if we had our health, or if we had the right kind of companionship. That might be true, but having those things does not guarantee that we shall not be disturbed about something else. As long as we look for people and situations for peace we shall fail to find either enduring satisfaction or peace. God’s peace is a gentle spirit that wells up with us and has no relationship to the state of our affairs, although ultimately it settles all our affairs.

Material living puts its faith in forms of good. Spiritual living makes use of that which is in the world; it enjoys the form but its reliance is on that which is the substance of that form, or that which has created the form, the Invisible.

Chapter Two – Demonstrate God

What are we seeking? Is it God we are seeking, or we are seeking some thing from God? The very moment that we are looking for home or companionship, the moment we are looking for supply or employment, the moment we are looking for healing, we are seeking amiss. Until we have God we have nothing; but the moment we have God, we have all there is in the world. God is working out His plan in us and through us. In this knowledge we relax and become beholders. It is no longer our lives: it’s God’s life unfolding individually. God appears on earth as individual you and me, and as we step aside, we begin to see God shining through.

When we desire only a God experience, heaven itself will open and pour itself out at our feet in the form of every kind of good. In a spiritual teaching, our desire is purely that we may know God whom to know aright is life eternal. When we have eternal life, we have it all, because eternal life includes health, harmony, wholeness, vitality, youth, and abundance. But to seek people or places, or conditions would be to seek outside the realm of God. In that way lies trouble.

Chapter Three – God the Only Power

God is battling the devil for control of man’s soul; and always the question is: who is going to win. Today it is the same story. Accidents, disaster, and sickness are explained either on the basis of two powers, or by making God responsible for these evils. None of these things can possibly be the will of God. In the presence of God there is no evil. It is the setting up of the devil as evil and God as good which separates us from mental, moral, and financial harmony.

There’s no mystery to evil. “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7). If we are not showing forth the health, harmony and wealth, which are our spiritual birthright, it is because we are not fulfilling the terms of the agreement. The agreement is that if we dwell in the secret place of the most High, none of these evils will come nigh our dwelling place To abide in the word and dwell in the secret place, we must read and study, meditate and ponder, hour upon hour of everyday until we are living continuously in the presence of the Lord beside whom there is none other.

Chapter Four – The Infinite Nature of Individual Being

There is not God and you or I. There is only God expressed, manifested as individual being. There is only one life – the father’s. We are outside of heaven with no hope of ever gaining entrance to it as long as we believe that we have a selfhood apart from God, a being separate and independent of God. All through the ages, duality has separated us from our good, but it is a sense of duality, not duality, because there is no duality. The secret of life us oneness, and oneness is not something that we bring about. Oneness is a state of being.

God is the creative principle, the source, the activity, and the law of our being; and our being is God in expression or manifestation. We, as individuals, receive our life, law, cause, substance, reality and continuity from the Infinite Invisible and that invisible activity appears visibly as the harmony of our being.

God is no respecter of persons. God has no favorites – no favorite religion, race, or nationality. So far as God is concerned, God is one. The degree of our demonstration is the degree of our awareness of this relationship. If a person believes that he has a quality, nature, or characteristic of his own, he has set up a sense of limitation which separates him from the infinity of his demonstration.

That is why we must die to every suggestion that we are or have something of ourselves separate and apart from God. We must die to the belief of health just as we must die to the belief of disease. Spiritually there is no health and there is no disease, because we are or have nothing of our own.

Chapter Five – Love Your Neighbor

What is love in the spiritual sense? Love is not something that is far off, nor is it anything that could come to us. It is already a part of our being, already established within us. As the universal and impersonal love flaws out from us, we begin to love our neighbor, because it is impossible to feel this love for God within us and not love our fellow man.

Let’s understand that anything of which we can become aware is a neighbor, whether it appears as a person, place, or thing. Every idea in consciousness is a neighbor. Those neighbors who are a part of our experience find their way to us, and those who are not are removed. As we rise above our human hood to a higher dimension of life in which we understand our neighbor to be pure spiritual being, God-governed, neither good nor bad, we are truly loving.

Love is the law of God. When we are in tune of divine love, then love is a gentle thing bringing peace. Now let us be clear on one point: We cannot harm anybody and nobody can harm us. Nobody can injure us, but we injure ourselves by a violation of the law of love. The penalty is always upon the one who is doing the evil, never upon the one to whom it is done. The injustice we do to another reacts upon ourselves. The law of love makes it inevitable that the person who seems to have been harmed is really blessed. He has a greater opportunity to rise than ever before. And usually some greater benefit comes to him than he had ever dreamed possible; whereas the perpetrator of the evil deed is haunted by memories until that day comes when he can forgive himself.

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