"My Search for Truth Vol.2"
by Henry Thomas Hamblin
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Perhaps my readers may wonder what I used to teach in the early days, and why it was helpful to some.
Here then is one aspect of my work which it may not be out of place to mention.
I discovered that, to a large extent, man creates the conditions of his life through his imagination.
In one of my early books, I wrote: you are the architect of your own life. It is yours to make or to mar.
By the power of thought you are building. Are you building aright?
This statement was true as far as it went, for we as well as our environment are the products of our thoughts; but thoughts are powerful because of what they do - not because of what they are in themselves. It is because they awaken and direct the imagination that they are so powerful in their effect upon our life and circumstances.
That great mystic Jacob Boehme whose teaching is so difficult that few can understand anything of it, confirms this. Although his writings are so deep and even obscure, he makes one thing very clear, which is that it is our wayward imagination which is the cause of our present hellish conditions, and that things can be put right only to the extent that our imagination is brought into correspondence with the All-Wise Imagination.
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
What all this means is that our imagination has fallen away from the All-Wise Imagination and has created disorderly and even hellish conditions, for Mind is creative; Thought rules all.
Thought rules all because it affects our creative imagination; consequently as we think so we are and so do we become, and so does our environment become.
The invitation is that we should return to the One Creative Source of all perfection, thus forsaking our wrong thoughts and imagination, and so think God's thoughts instead, consequently bringing our wayward imagination into unison with the All-Wise Imagination, which can create only perfection.
Prayer is an attempt to bring our mind and imagination into correspondence with Infinite Mind and the All-Wise Imagination. We do not pray in order to alter God or change His purpose. The sole object of prayer is to bring ourselves back to the likeness and image of Elohim in which we were created. 'What is man, that thou art mindful of him? ...For thou hast made him a little lower than Elohim'. Elohim, according to Genesis I, was the creator or creators of the world. Scholars tell us that Elohim is a plural word, consequently we read: 'And Elohim said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness'.
Such being the case, it is difficult to understand why the old hymn-writers described themselves as worms. It would have been better I think if they had described themselves as caterpillars, for they, after passing through the chrysalid stage, turn into butterflies -whereas worms always remain worms. But what a lovely hymn the old writers could have written about the caterpillar! First, a poor creeping thing; next, a chrysalid (corresponding to the hymnist's long sleep in the grave); then after that the resurrection - that, I feel would have been a much better theme. But the Bible does not teach that we are worms in spite of what Bildad the Shuhite, and also David, may have said. It tells us that we are created in the image and likeness of our Creator.
In the teaching of Jesus we see that we have departed from the All-Wise Imagination and have created hell for ourselves through the misuse of our imagination, and that the only remedy is to get back to that which is for ever true, viz. God's idea concerning each one of us.
This outer man is not the real Man; also this outer world is not the true World: both are falsities. What we need to do then is to get back to God's idea concerning both the true Man and the true World. Prayer is an attempt to bring our wayward thought and imagination into correspondence with God's thought and imagination. We pray in order that we may see things as they really are; not as they falsely appear; in other words, what we seek is to know the Truth, after which the Truth will make us free, even as was promised by Jesus. Paradoxically, however, we have to seek Truth for its own sake, and not in order to win the reward of freedom.
If we persevere with our attempts by means of prayer to think God's thoughts after Him, a time comes when we experience a sense of great peace; we feel completely at home in God and in a state of great harmony. This is due to the fact that our mind has begun to function in correspondence with the mind of God. When we see the thing which may be troubling us, as it is in the mind of God, then our mind is thinking in the same way that God's mind thinks.
If ye abide in my word. ..ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free. -Jesus
Jesus taught the gospel of the Kingdom-He told those about Him that the Kingdom of Heaven was nigh; He spoke of the Kingdom and of heavenly things. He said that if His hearers would abide in His teachings (that is, to think of God and His perfect order), they would be made free. The moment we really know, when we actually realize the Truth, we become free. I wish I could describe this experience, but it is not possible to do so. Truth is always present with us, although we may not be able to realize it. That we cannot realize it does not alter the fact that it is always with us, awaiting the time when our mind and imagination cease their errancy and become attuned to the mind and imagination of God.
It may be asked how I could have taught this, seeing that, generally speaking, practically no one can realize the Truth, whilst those who could do so would not be taking any instruction from me? How could I exhort my students to realize Truth, seeing that they had no idea what Truth is? I used to tell them that until they could realize Truth themselves, they should accept the testimony of those who have realized it. I told them that man, in very truth, is a Celestial being, belonging to Celestial Realms. My great desire was, and still is, that they might realize their true identity and might know that in their true inwardness they are sons of God, true children of Eternity, and one with That which changeth not.
The beloved John expressed the same truth when he said: 'Beloved now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear (it is not yet apparent) what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him' - that is, identical with Him. I told them that in their true inwardness no real harm could ever come to them, for the real Self in them was a spark from the Sacred Flame, deathless, diseaseless and eternal. Worlds might be born, and worlds might flourish and pass away, and even the whole universe be rolled up like a scroll, but they in their true inwardness would always remain beyond time and unaffected by change, because they were one with, identical to, the Eternal.
I used to suggest that they should say:
Man is a spiritual being living in a spiritual universe, governed by spiritual laws, and upheld by spiritual powers.
And by spiritual I really meant celestial, which is the highest realm of all to which man in his true inwardness, as a son of God, eternally belongs. By 'Man', I meant of course not the outward man, who is 'of the earth, earthy' and full of frailties - but the real inward Man, the image and likeness of Elohim, who in most people is so effectively covered up that it is difficult to believe that He is present at all.
By realizing the Truth about Man, we learn to realize the Truth about ourselves. We discover that we are not this body, nor this mind, nor this soul, nor even this spirit, for we can speak to them all and command them. No, we are something far greater than any or all of these. What we truly are can no more be defined than God can be defined.
When we reach this point we are not far from what Jesus called the Kingdom. Of course the beginner wants to ask how he can know God, without knowing something about Him. If God is undefinable, he asks, how can he ever know Him, how can man ever know the Undefinable?
This is a deep question, and I do not think that I ever dealt with it adequately in those early days. It is true that it is impossible to define God who is the Undefinable, for the God whom we define, or try to express in words, is not the Transcendent One. We limit God directly we try to define Him, for by so doing we bring Him within the limitations of the human mind. Our God whom we define is really only man's idea of God.
Another deep thought is that our highest ideas about God are really only a sort of preview of what we shall ultimately attain to. But of course we can know the Unknowable, but not by the human and finite mind. God, who transcends man's intellect, can only be known by that Divine Something in man which also transcends his intellect, and also cannot be defined. In other words, only God can know God.
However, this was too deep a matter to broach to beginners, so I did not mention it; in fact I did just the reverse, for I taught them to meditate upon what are called the attributes of God: wholeness, perfection, justice, and so on.
They did not know that they were meditating upon the attributes of their real interior Self, and that as they meditated their false ego or self (the enemy of their souls) was being liquidated. He, the true or Christ-in-you Self, must increase; but I, the false self, must decrease. It was also suggested that students should make use of their imagination by trying to see good everywhere, and also beauty.
Instead of seeing other people as they appear to be, they were to try to see the Real Man who is hidden within.
To do so is not a new idea by any means, for it was Calvin who said that we should not look at the imperfect outward man, but rather that we should try to see the Divine image hidden within the man. (I did not know anything about Calvin then, except the unfortunate doctrine named after him, and it was many years before I came across this statement from him.)
It was good to have what I was teaching confirmed by so great a theologian; the fact that I possessed no learning and consequently had to rely upon intuition made it the more interesting to find that what I bad been teaching was the same as one of the great and learned men of the past had taught.
Trying to see into people and into things in order to find their hidden perfection trains the imagination along Heavenly lines, for by so doing we are trying to see things as they really are in the Real World of perfect everything and perfect order and absolute rightness.
I suggested to our students that they should spend a certain amount of time every day in using and training their creative imagination in a special way. I suggested that they should close their eyes and think of a perfect heavenly state, in which were order, wholeness and completeness.
Instead of disease, sickness, pain, suffering, they should imagine a state of health, wholeness, and fullness of life; instead of poverty and anxiety , they should form a mental concept (but not visualize), a condition of instant and ever-present abundance, every need being supplied fully and completely just as it arises. And so with all the many negative concepts of the mind: discord, failure, sickness - their opposites should be imagined.
The Intellect can do little in this field. But the imagination combined with feeling is capable of bringing about changes in our body and affairs such as are beyond the wit and wisdom of man to explain.
I must confess that in the very early days of my work I suggested that people should visualize what they wanted.
This of course was all wrong, and as soon as possible I gave it up. It is wrong to do so, because it is using the human mind to attempt to force Life to produce conditions according to our pattern; whereas of course our greatest good can come to us only through our life being lived according to the Divine pattern.
Therefore when we use our creative imagination we should not try to enforce our pattern on life, but should be willing to accept whatever form God's answer may take. Thus if we are poor, we should not envisage ourselves as being rich in worldly goods, but should try to realize that we have entered into the glorious liberty of the children of God, and set free from every limitation. It is not sufficient for us to use affirmations, but in addition we must enter into a realization of the truth that we have affirmed.
Many of us I am afraid are inclined to become slack when times are prosperous and easy with us; then when difficulties arise and troubles sweep down on us, we are not able to realize the Truth which makes us free. This is a great error but alas, we are prone to fall into it. What we should do is to make the most of our opportunity when the sky of our life is clear. When beset by troubles it is not easy to realize Truth: we have to work through the darkness before we can do so. But when our sky is clear, and the barometer of our life is at 'set fair', then is the time to realize Truth for to do so is easy, and each time that we do so we make it easier for us to meet our next difficulty or test.
There are times when we feel unusually peaceful and at one with the whole universe: a lovely view, or even smoke belching out from a factory chimney-stack, may appear unusually beautiful. At such times Heaven is very near to us, and we should make the most of it. Then it is easy to realize our oneness with the Whole; we feel perfectly at home in God, in our right place, in right relationship with everything and everyone else, all included in one complete and perfect whole.
ON TRYING TO ENTER THE SILENCE
For many years I tried to enter the Silence - but in vain. I often read about it, but could not find it - for one thing, no two writers seemed to agree as to what the Silence was. Some seemed to think that it was a kind of trance; others taught that it was simply inhibiting all thought, thus making the mind a blank; yet others again said that it was a state of negative passivity, or a sinking down into a state of dreamy self-hypnotism. None of these methods would bear examination.
First of all, falling into trances is at any rate, undesirable for us Westerners. I cannot see how it can fit us for the battle of life. Trances, visions and the like are psychic and although they are mentioned in the Bible, and were indulged in by some of the saints, I am quite sure that - speaking personally - I am better without them. The wisest of the Christian mystics confirm this view by stating that in most cases these phenomena are hindrances rather than helps.
Most of us will remember that Christian and his companion in Pilgrim's Progress when travelling the Heavenly road were attracted by what appeared to be a much pleasanter path - that of Bypath Meadow. Instead of pursuing their hard and toilsome journey along the King's Highway, how much pleasanter and easier it would appear to be to get over the stile and walk in the cool and delightful Bypath Meadow! So off the two of them went along this new and interesting way; but alas, because it led them away from the true path, they soon met with trouble and finally into doubt and despair.
In the same way the wise saints and mystics warn us against being attracted by visions and trance experiences.
They are not necessarily a sign of divine favour, but may be a hindrance in that they may distract our attention away from God. This is the object of the Adversary - to get our attention away from our Divine Centre and to direct it to something which flatters but keeps us away from God, instead of bringing us nearer.
If therefore we find that we have a gift for visions, trances and so on, we should not fall into the error of thinking that we are especially favoured by God; but rather we should look upon them as something to be transcended as soon as possible, even if we cannot avoid them altogether.
There are exceptions of course and we must not criticize, still less condemn, those who have derived comfort from a psychic experience, but rather give thanks to God that they have been blessed in the way they have.
My father for all his orthodoxy declared that when he was converted he saw the Lord Jesus as plainly as ever he had seen anybody in his life. He said that it was not a spirit that he saw, but that Jesus was as real and solid as any man could be and that He turned and looked at him - a look which captured my father's heart for all time. Then again after our mother died, Father saw her in a similar way.
Experiences of this kind are helpful to those who need such consolation, and who are so constituted that they can be helped and comforted by them.
Then again inhibiting an thought, which means making the mind a blank, is a dangerous practice for it invites possession. Instead of emptying the mind, we should fill it with thoughts of God. Then no evil can come into it; whereas, if we try to keep it empty, the most evil thoughts may enter and become a fixed obsession. The other idea of making oneself passively negative is equally dangerous and to do so would be to invite mediumship. We should at all times keep our mind positive, and directed towards God.
Being positive makes for integration: being negative produces disintegration.
When we sink down into a state of negative passivity, we vibrate in correspondence with hades; but when we rise up into a positive state of realization, we vibrate in correspondence with celestial realms. We need to go up and up until the vibrations are so rapid that we reach a state of stillness. When we turn a wheel slowly we can see all the spokes moving, but when we turn it rapidly the spokes disappear from our sight. So is it with the Silence: we get beyond all conflict and all thought, until we reach That which is beyond thought, in the great Stillness. It is a state of rest, in the same way that the heavenly bodies pursue a course of great activity and are themselves masses of activity, yet they are in a state of poise, balance, and ease, resting easily, each in its appointed place, without effort or strain.
I tried many and various ideas and suggested methods, mostly without success. My search was a difficult, even dangerous, one for I was quite alone and had no one to advise me. Also, the right kind of books never seemed to come my way - I know now that there was a reason for this: it was necessary for me to travel the hard and solitary way, in order that I should know what I know through experience and thus be able to speak with conviction.
Yet no matter how much I tried, I could not find the Silence - until all at once I realized that it was my trying so hard that was hindering me, and that if I would cease my efforts, then I should find that already I was in the Silence. It was then realized that the Silence is always with us, and only needs recognition; it is not something that has to be created.
What we have to do is to stop our fruitless strivings, and instead rest in the Love of God, which supports us in much the same way that the earth appears to be supported in its atmosphere.
Whilst I am strongly against regulating respiration and retaining the breath, yet I believe that possessing the ability to breathe deeply and fully has been a help to me.
When I was young, I breathed through my mouth shallowly and I can recall my mother telling me on every possible occasion to close my mouth and to breathe through my nose.
Through this bad habit my nostrils had become narrow and almost closed, so that I could not breathe through the nose properly. This went on for years, until I became interested in physical culture. Then I started in earnest to try to breathe deeply through my nose. The first thing that I had to do was to enlarge my nostrils, so I practiced distending them. I had to do this mentally, of course, in much the same way that it is possible to send blood to any part of the body by the power and use of thought.
This I did to such good effect that I developed muscles like those of a professional singer, and also my breath control was almost as perfect as theirs. I could never see quite what use this was going to be to me, but now I believe that this development has been a help to me as regards entering the Silence. Of course nowadays I do not do any deep breathing consciously, but when I think of God and divine things then deep breathing in tune with the Inner Life of the Spirit comes to me of its own volition. I also think that this development, this capacity for very deep physical breathing, may have had something to do with the interior respiration which has come to me of recent years. But of this, more anon.
Nervous tautness had always been one of my difficulties.
I did not know how to relax and when I was interested in anything I held my breath, hardly breathing at all - consequently I found it difficult to do deep waistline breathing and yet remain relaxed at the same time. But practice makes perfect and in course of time I found that my breathing, when I allowed it to be free, took on a rhythm and a quality all its own, and that I did not control it, but that it was working in harmony with the rhythm of the Hidden Life.
However, that did not happen all at once, indeed it came only after many years ...
As I have said, the first sign I had of any success in trying to enter the Silence was when I woke up to the fact that I was already in the Silence, and that I only hindered my progress by my constant trying. I was like a person learning to swim who, after many struggles to keep afloat, suddenly discovers that the water will support him if he will but lean on it and cease his frantic and jerky efforts. As soon as he trusts the water and rests on it, his hitherto taut body relaxes and becomes supple. I found that it was much the same with my attempts to enter the Silence. I had hitherto strained and struggled in a state of tautness - which was the very thing which kept me from entering; yet, paradoxically enough, I should never have found the Silence if I had not made such efforts.
Another hindrance was that at first I left out devotion, and also did not realize the value and necessity of humbleness. I found that I got on better when I followed the path the saints have trod. They knelt in adoration, and no doubt turned their eyes upwards. I did not always kneel in a literal sense, but mentally and metaphorically I cast myself at the feet of the LORD, but turned my physical eyes upwards (with lids closed) as though looking up to His face.
Jacob Boehme says 'Steadfastly fix thine inner eye upon one point and by Faith press into this inmost cell within thee'. I am sure this is good practice; indeed I follow this method very often to start with, then after a time I look upward and am all the better prepared to do so, because of the preliminary looking within to the region of the heart.
In the Hindu philosophy we are told that there are three paths of attainment: Karma marga, or the path of good works; Bhakti marga, or the path of devotion and Jnana marga, or the path of knowledge. The second path seems, predominantly, to be the one which I am following, although we have to follow all three paths simultaneously. Yet it is generally admitted, so I believe, that Bhakti marga is not only the easiest but the simplest and most direct path of all.
All that we have to do is to love and adore. Because God is Love, it is only natural that it should be so. Love is the key to every situation in life! Although He did not so classify them, Jesus taught the three paths of attainment: first, the path of good works (as given in the Sermon on the Mount, and elsewhere); second, the path of love and devotion ('If ye love me, keep my commandments.' 'This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you'); third, the path of understanding. ('If ye continue in my words ...ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free.')
In the teaching of Jesus we have all that we need; but it is interesting and helpful to make a slight study of comparative religions - not in order to try to prove that any one religion is superior to all others - but rather to see how wonderfully all religions in their deepest implications agree and how they all meet finally at the same one goal of Divine union.
Let me however return to my subject. It is useless trying to enter the Silence if we have any unconfessed sin on our conscience; neither can we even begin to approach the entrance to the Silence if we bear any resentment towards anyone whatsoever, or have done him a wrong. 'Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.'
It is useless to try to enter the Great Stillness which is the Presence of God realized, if we are possessed by the angry devils of resentment. We must first get rid of these disturbing influences if we would enter into the Central Harmony. Also, if we have wronged our brother we must put the matter right, because we must not try to enter the Holy Presence with the guilt of our action resting upon us. And if wrong has been done to us, we must forgive freely and become filled with thoughts and feelings of good-will.
What is termed 'entering the Silence' is really becoming attuned to the Divine Presence, which means that our vibrations have to be raised to a higher pitch until they vibrate in harmony with the Divine pitch or note. In the Hindu philosophy we are told that the Divine note sounding through the Universe is Aum, or Om. If this is intoned with the lips closed, the whole of the head vibrates accordingly.
I do not use it myself, but I can quite understand that our brothers in India find it helpful in meditation, or in preparing for meditation. One of the results achieved by religious exercises and practices is to change the vibrations of the whole body so that a process of transmutation takes place: every cell is affected, so that the body becomes less dead-looking and more translucent, to the extent that it becomes filled with the Divine Light.
When first I heard one from the East intoning Aum, I was at once struck by its similarity to our Western intoning -particularly the word' Amen'. I found upon trying it that it came quite natural to me to intone both Aum and our liturgical prayers; it was the same note and produced the same vibration. I have never pursued the matter, but I think now that I ought to have done so for I think that it would help and perhaps expedite the process of transmutation. St. Paul (quoting Ferrar Fenton's translation) says:
But our policy consists in possessing an object in heaven: from where also we expect a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform the body of our humility, making it like the body of his majesty, by the internal working of his power; and he will subject all to himself. -Philippians 3:20-1.
From this we see that St. Paul taught that through contemplation - the same Power of the Eternal Logos which raised up Jesus from the dead and transmuted his earthly body into an immortal body of eternal light substance, the vibrations of which could be changed at will - would also transmute our material body and make it the same as the body in which the Lord Jesus ascended.
Some teachers demand that on sitting down to enter the Silence we should adopt a right posture, hold our hands in a special manner and breathe in a certain way. But in my experience this has not been found to be the case; instead I discovered that, as usual, Love is the key. If we approach God with love in our heart towards Him, and with love in our heart to all mankind then, as Jesus said, we are not far from the Kingdom.
Love is indeed the key. We may possess all the technique that was ever conceived by the mind of man, but if we have not Love, all our efforts to enter the Silence will be in vain.
The Silence is the Presence of God realized; therefore if we would enter it we must be attuned to the Presence of God who is Love. Love is ever the key.
We might intone to further orders, but if our heart were not right, it would be all in vain.
"My Search for Truth Vol.2" by Henry Thomas Hamblin
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