Several years ago I read an amazing little book entitled Letters by a Modern Mystic, by Frank Laubach (New Readers Press, 1979). It is a diary of his daily experiment to practice the presence of God “moment by moment” throughout the day. He began his experiment in 1930 while a missionary to an isolated and dangerous area of the Philippine Islands, and it became a lifelong habit which so enriched his life and work that he became a very effective crusader for world literacy over the succeeding decades. It is a fascinating account, and one that I highly recommend to any sincere student of the Path.
As part of his experiment, Laubach frequently began his day by asking, “What thoughts will you think through me today, Lord?” After reading this I, too, began to ask this question as I left the house for work each morning. For days I received no definite reply. Then one day that distinctive, silent, but familiar voice whispered, “Only what you allow me to.” Needless to say, I was a bit stunned. The full import didn’t hit home until I had meditated on it for several days after repeatedly receiving the same answer.
“Only what you allow me to.” Clearly, the onus is on me; only by my free will am I able to “tune-in” to that guidance we so hungrily seek. Of course, I am willing to tune-in, but I have to be fully committed to listening with an open mind, not saying “but, but” at every turn when the Self wants to have its own way. As Laubach put it, “It is exactly that moment by moment, every waking moment, surrender, responsiveness, obedience, sensitiveness, pliability, ‘lost in His love,’ that I now have the mind-bent to explore with all my might.”
The essence of discipleship (and of Laubach’s experiment) is discipline. This does not mean blind obedience, but rather thoughtful and purposeful obedience. After all, I may be sincere in my obedience, but sincerely wrong in my understanding of what I think I have been given or asked to do. Too often seekers on the Path fall prey to “spiritual pride” (a tool of the Self) which then enhances the ego, even when they sincerely desire guidance from Spirit. Just think of the historical examples in relatively recent years alone and the tragedy of the sincere misunderstandings they represent – for example, Jonestown in Guyana (1978), Waco, Texas (1993), and the rise of the Islamic State terrorists in the 21st century.
Ultimately, I am responsible for controlling my thoughts – for remaining open to receiving guidance – but all the while making certain that my understanding is in accordance with the ancient wisdoms and not just my personal desires. That is a big responsibility, and I often feel like “the blind leading the blind.” But we are not blind. We have the ancient mysteries, the esoteric teachings of the ages spread across continents, cultures, religions, and millennia to guide us. Even more importantly, we have the teachings of Abraham and Maitreya, souls whose higher level of consciousness than our own can help us to more correctly understand our thoughts. In the end, God (or whatever you choose to call that energy) can only think those thoughts through us that we allow Him to.
We are often told that “our thoughts create our reality.” Having arrived (for the present) at a better understanding of that part of Frank Laubach’s experiment, it occurred to me that “thinking thoughts” is only the beginning of the act of creation. Those thoughts must be given form and put into action before they can manifest in desirable outcomes. Laubach’s question of “What thoughts will you think through me today, Lord?” should be extended to other questions such as “How should I handle this situation, Lord?”, “What should I do if he/she does X, Lord?”, etc. Guidance in controlling one’s thoughts is only the first step. The practical application of this principle in our daily lives is even more important in our relationship with Source Energy. But we must remember that God (Source, Ultimate Being) is the doer. In short, the question of “What shall I do, Lord?” would better be expressed as, “What will You do through me today, Lord?” So one day I asked it.
The answer (predictably) was “Only what you allow me to.” Once again, we cannot be passive, waiting for Spirit to “tell” us what to think or do. We have to be active in listening and acting to the best of our ability. There is no limit to what God is willing to give us. We are an extension of Source Energy – His children, if you will. The only limit is what we are willing to receive, what we are willing to allow Spirit to give us without condition. What we do with the gift of that information is up to us.
Still hoping for a little more explicit direction in trying to attune my daily activities to God’s will rather than my own, one morning I asked, “How may I serve you today, Lord?” This time the answer was immediate and direct: “Be your Highest Self.” I had to meditate on this one for a few more days before the beauty, simplicity, and practicality of this answer became apparent.
The more I pondered this answer the more I realized that, in fact, the most beautiful, simple, and practical answer to all questions regarding “What should I do?” are answered by this simple admonition to “Be your Highest Self.” There is a close parallel in a quotation from Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Putting these two quotes together, the message to me is that we have to enact the highest principles of which we can imagine in every thought, word, and deed. That is the best possible answer to the question, “How may I serve you today, Lord?”
Of course, this still leaves the practical question of how to be one’s “Highest Self”. At the time, I hadn’t yet heard of Abraham’s “Alignment with Source” or Maitreya’s teachings about “Self and Higher Self.” But when I posed this question in meditation, that firm but gentle voice immediately replied, “Creative Living.”
“Wow!” I thought. “He doesn’t make it easy, but He sure makes it interesting!” And just as I struggled in meditation for many more days until I reached (for the present) a satisfactory understanding, I challenge you, dear reader, to do the same. I am learning that, in order to progress on the Path, I have to be an active participant in the journey. It cannot be otherwise. So I challenge you to think about it yourself, and to develop your own understanding of “Creative Living.”
As for my understanding, I will give you a hint: Hollywood! Another hint: Oscars! Not helpful enough? OK, how about another hint? Life and chocolate. Still not enough? The final hint is that the answer is simplicity itself.
That’s all you get. Until we meet again on these pages, think about Frank Laubach’s experiment. It is not at all easy, but it is a very interesting experiment. And think about Creative Living. It is not at all easy, but it is a very interesting experiment. And think about Hollywood, Oscars, life and chocolate, and simplicity itself. I think you’ll be glad you did!