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 my 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 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 indeed.) From the time on, I have known that my life work would be for peace – that it would cover the whole piece 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 the psychologists refer to as ego and conscience, which I call the lower self and 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 undertaken 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 towards 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 towards 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 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 made 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.