I hardly say that this progression was not of necessity in a strictly consecutive order, nor did it come by a process of reasoning out from point to point. I was simply the man in the street dealing with great ideas of which he had heard ever since he had been able to hear anything, but trying at last to see what they meant to him. My position might have been described in the words used by William James in one of his Letters to indicate his own.

“The Divine, for my active life, is limited to abstract concepts, which, as ideals, interest and determine me, but do so but faintly, in comparison with what a feeling of God might effect, if I had one. It is largely a question of intensity, but differences of intensity may make the whole centre of one’s energy shift.”

I did have a “feeling of God” however vague; but I had more of the feeling of a Church. I could dimly discern the way, without going on to the truth and the Life which give the way its value. It will be evident then that, if my “discoveries” along these lines were discoveries in the obvious, it was in that obvious to which we mortals so often remain blind.

For many years.. the expression, the love of God, was to me like a winter sunshine, bright without yielding warmth. I liked the words; I knew they expressed a truth; but between me and the truth, there was the same kind of distance which I felt to lie between myself and God. “It is largely a question of intensity,” to repeat what has just been quoted from William James, “but differences of intensity may make the whole centre of one’s energy shift.” My conception of the love of God lacked just that quality—intensity.

It came, to some degree, with the realization that the Universal Thought must be with me. A non-loving Universal Thought was too monstrous a concept to entertain. The God who “broke through” my many misunderstandings with so much good and beauty could have only one predominating motive. The coming of my spiritual being to this planet might be a mystery wrapped in darkness, and yet I could not but believe that the Universal Father was behind that coming and that I was His son. I could rest my case there. The love of God, after having long been like a doctrinal tenet for which one had to strive, became reasonable, natural, something to be understood. Finding that love in so many places in which I had seen mere physical phenomena, and in so many lovely things I had never placed to its credit, I began to feel that life could be infused and transformed by it, in proportion as my own perception grew. So, little by little, the centre of energy shifted, as one came to understand what the Sons of Korah meant when they sang,

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will we not fear though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into, the midst of the sea.”

With Universal Thought concentrated in love upon oneself, fear must be forced backward.

And especially when you add to that the concept of Almighty Power. This fourth and last of the great attributes is the one with which I, as an individual, have found it most difficult to clothe the Infinite. I mean that it is the one for which it is hardest for me to develop what William James calls “a feeling,” an inner realization. I lay no stress upon this. It is a question of growth. The Presence, the Thought, the Love have become to me, what I may be permitted to call tremulously vivid. In proportion as they are vivid, I get the “feeling” of Almightiness exercised on my behalf; in proportion as they are tremulous, the Almightiness may remain in my consciousness, but it seems exercised on my behalf but slightly.

In other words, the Infinitude of Thought and Love are, to some extent, apprehended by my inner self, while the Infinitude of Power is as yet to me rather an intellectual abstraction. What my inner self may be not prepared to say, but I know that it is there, as everyone else knows that it is in him.

“Strengthened with might by the Spirit in the inner man,”

is what St. Paul says, and I suppose most of us recognize the fact that our inner self is stronger or weaker in proportion as it is more nourished or less nourished by our sense of the Being of God. It is largely a question of intensity. If I interpret William James right, he means by “a feeling” an intellectual concept after it has passed beyond the preliminary keeping of the brain, and become the possession of that inner man which is the vital self. To this vital self, the sense of Almighty Power really used for me is still, to a great degree, outside my range.

TO BE CONTINUED..


PHOTO CREDIT : DARIUS BASHAR

 

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