This is compilation of
talks to several churches in Dallas area around 1980.
A pilgrim is a wanderer with a purpose. A pilgrimage can be either to a place or for a thing. My pilgrimage is for a thing. My pilgrimage is for peace. Now there are many facets of peace, and it covers all facets - peace among nations, peace among groups, peace with our environment, peace among individuals and the very very important inner peace, because that's where peace begins. The situation in the world around us is just a reflection of the collective inner situation. And in the final analysis only as we become more peaceful people will we find ourselves living in a more peaceful world.
Now a pilgrim is not only on foot but on faith. I have no money, I do not accept any money. I belong to no organization. I own only what I wear and carry. I walk until given shelter. I fast until given food. I don't even ask. It's given without asking. Aren't people good! There's a spark of good in everybody. No matter how deeply it may be buried, it's there, it's waiting to govern your life gloriously. I call it the God centered nature, or the divine nature but I remember it's been given many wonderful names. Jesus called it the kingdom of God within. In another place it says Christ in you, your hope of glory, calls it the indwelling Christ.
Now a pilgrim walks both prayerfully and as an opportunity to contact people, and for the purpose of contacting people I wear my short tunic with PEACE PILGRIM on the front and 25,000 MILES ON FOOT FOR PEACE on the back. It makes my contact for me in the kindest way. I like to be kind. In the most effective way. You're in a much better position to talk to people when they approach you than when you approach them. Those who come are special. They're either genuinely interested in peace or they have a good lively curiosity.
Now my message - one sentence: This is the way of peace - overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth and hatred with love. There's nothing new about that, except the practice of it. You know the words, "be not overcome of evil but overcome evil with good." It's the lesson for today and so it becomes the message of my peace pilgrimage.
About 42 years ago, which was 15 years before the pilgrimage began, was the real change in my life. At that time I came out of my empty life of money and things and started to live to give instead of to get. And my life just blossomed out. Three things happened. I obtained the great blessing of good health. I haven't had an ache or a pain or cold or headache since. I knew my life work was going to be work for peace and the entire peace picture. And the third thing - long after I had finished the physical growing up and the mental growing up, I had enough knowledge to get along. I could make my own decisions. And the emotional growing up - I could get along with people and with myself. I began my spiritual growing up which takes you from the self centered life into the God centered life that sees you as part of the whole and works for the good of the whole.
It was during that growing and finding inner peace that prepared me for the pilgrimage that I walk today. When I started out my hair had turned to silver. This is what I am doing with my retirement years. And when I told my friends I was about to walk across the country, which I did the first year, they thought I had taken leave of my senses. But what I walk on is not the energy of youth. It was gone when I started. It's a much better energy. It's the endless energy which comes with inner peace. It never runs out. You keep on learning and growing after you have found inner peace. Energy keeps on increasing, so that I have more energy today than I had when I began my pilgrimage 27 years ago.
And naturally I look around me and I say, "How sad that most people only practice the surface of their real potential. They have no idea of what they are capable of. And so I start talking to people about living according to our highest capability, our highest potential. And I look for the blocks, the things that keep us from realizing our highest potential, and I want to talk about removing some of those blocks. For instance, it was a great day in my life when I finally realized the purpose of problems in our life. Yes, they have a wonderful purpose. They're learning and growing experiences. And so I realized also that in this orderly universe if you have the problem with the proper attitude you can not only solve the problem but learn and grow through solving it and if it's a great problem this is just an indication that you have the great inner strength to solve a great problem.
And so you see problems become challenges. Here's a problem - what can I learn from this? Why, when I ran out of personal problems I began immediately to work on collective problems. I didn't want to loose my opportunity to learn and grow. And through helping to solve the collective problems you can also learn and grow.
I'll tell you the story of a lady - she had a problem. She lived constantly with pain. It was something in her back. And I can still see her arranging the pillows behind her so it wouldn't hurt quite so much. And she was very bitter about this. And I talked to her about the wonderful purpose of problems in our lives. I tried to inspire her to think about God instead of about her problem. And I must have successful to some extent because one night after she went to bed, and of course she reported this to me later, she got to thinking about God. She got to thinking - Just imagine, God regards me, this little grain of dust to such an extent that he sends just the right problem for me to grow on. And she turned to God and she said, "Oh dear God, thank you for this pain through which I may grow closer to thee." And then the pain was gone and it has never returned. Maybe that's what it means when it says, "In all things be thankful." So perhaps more often we should pray the prayer of thankfulness, which is a very important prayer.
Well, I can remember one of my first projects. I began deliberately to live all the good things I believed, because I came to the recognition that if I was out of harmony through ignorance I would not suffer as much as if I knew better and still didn't do better. For instance I'll give you an example of this. This was a long time ago. I asked two men the same question. They were both coughing their heads off and smoking one cigarette after another and I said to both of them, "You think maybe it would ease your throat a little if you would stop smoking for awhile." The first one was big, strong man who did heavy work and he said, "I always smoke when I got a cold; it kills disease germs." He will suffer only physically. But the second one was a college professor. And he said, "I know this thing is bad for me in every way" and kept right on smoking. He will suffer not only physically, but spiritually because he knows and does not do.
So I deliberately attempted to bring my life into harmony with the highest light I had. It was a very interesting project. I took the things one by one and worked on them. If I could think of something I was doing that I knew I shouldn't be doing, I quit! And I had the good sense to make a quick relinquishment which is the easy way. The tapering off is long and hard and usually never accomplishes. You just quit. And if I could think of something I wasn't doing that I knew I should be doing I got busy on that.
I'll give you an example. I was very forgiving toward others. This wasn't one of my problems. I was unforgiving toward myself. And when I did something that wasn't the highest I would say to myself, "You ought to know better." And one day as I was combing my hair at the mirror I looked at myself and I said, "You vain thing. Why should you think you ought to know better when you forgive everyone else for not knowing better. You're no better than they are." You must forgive yourself as easily as you forgive the others. Then take a further step. Use all that energy you've been using on condemning yourself on improving yourself. And after that I really started to get somewhere because there's only one person you can change. That's yourself. After you've changed yourself, who knows, somebody might be inspired to want to change.
Well it took the living quite a while to catch up with the belief. But it finally did and when it did a process began which has never ended. As I lived up to the highest light I had, higher and higher light came to me.
An then each one of us has a special job in the divine plan, or maybe special jobs. It's usually more than one thing. I remember I used to have a time alone with God. I would walk receptive in silence amid the beauties of God's nature and wonderful insights would come to me which I would then put into practice. It usually didn't take more than an hour, but that was a very important hour in my life. And I recommend for people who do not really know their way in some regard. The thing to do is to be quiet inside, silent before God and your way will be revealed to you. It comes through an awakening, of course, of that divine nature. Your self-centered nature doesn't really know where you fit into the divine plan. Your God-centered nature does.
Now, I might mention also that one of my early projects was a simplification of life. It was very necessary for me because, you see, my life was terribly cluttered with unnecessary possessions and meaningless activities and it required simplification. It was made very easy for me as a matter of fact. I took my vow of simplicity, "I shall not accept more than I need while others in the world have less than they need." And that motivated me to bring my life down to need level for me. I'm not saying your need level is the same as mine. If you have a family you would need the stability of a family center for your children. You couldn't live as simply as I live. I'm just saying that don't take care of things you don't need. It's an extra burden. Don't engage in activities that are meaningless to you. It's just a waste of your time. That's what I'm really saying. You have to determine what your need level is, but when I had brought my life down to need level for me I didn't in any way feel deprived of anything. In my life, what I want and what I need are just exactly the same. And you couldn't give me anything that I don't need. People try.
I don't feel insecure because I don't always know where I'll sleep at night or where or when my next meal will be coming. If you have spiritual security you have no more feeling of need for material security. I feel very secure. I didn't know for sure where I was going to sleep last night but that didn't make me feel insecure.
And I don't feel - I don't in any way feel poor because I am penniless. I feel rich, I have health, happiness, inner peace, things you couldn't buy if you were a billionaire. I'm not poor, I'm rich, and thankful to God every moment of my life for the great riches that has been showered upon me. I discovered long ago that unnecessary possessions are just unnecessary burdens. If you have them you have to take care of them.
And I can remember I noticed something. When I had freed myself of all unnecessary possessions and meaningless activities, I noticed a wonderful harmony in my life between inner and outer well-being, between spiritual and the material well-being. And there's a great deal to be said about such harmony, not only for an individual life but also for the life of a society. Now take a look at our poor war-weary world. What's the matter with us. We're so way off on the material side. Even though we do not have it, we desire it. And so way lacking on the spiritual side that when we discover all these technological advances, often the very first thing we do with them is to put them into bombs aand use them to kill people. And this is because our spiritual well-being lags so far behind. Now the valid research for the future is on the spiritual side. We need to bring those two into balance so we'll know how to use well the material well-being we already have.
Now I could also mention a few relinquishments, and a few purifications - for instance a simple purification - purification of the body, regarding the body as the temple of the spirit and treating it than way. Personally I practice prevention. All things known to be bad for your health I quit long ago before I got sick. And here is a very important purification - purification of thought. Your thoughts are so powerful. Every moment of your life you are creating through thought. You create your inner conditions, you help to create the conditions around you. So I think about the best that could happen - all the good things I like to see happen - solutions to problems. And if someone were to do a very mean thing to me, I would feel the deepest compassion for that out of harmony person who is hurt by having done a mean thing, and I would pray for that person. I certainly wouldn't hurt myself by a wrong reaction of bitterness or anger.
The rest are relinquishments. I might mention the worry habit, because the nicest people still worry. Now worry isn't concern. Concern is good, concern leads you to do everything possible in the situation. Worry is a useless mulling over things we can't change. It's a total waste of time and energy. It's also a lack of faith. If you are a person with faith, what do you do? You do everything you can do in the situation, of course. God requires that of us. But the rest, the things you can do nothing about. You leave them in God's hands, the best possible hands. This is a habit with me. Some people in the beginning must remember to take them back several times before finally they form that habit.
Now there is another technique too that can be used. How often are you worrying about this present moment? It's usually all right. If you're worrying you're either agonizing over the past which you should have forgotten long ago, or being apprehensive over the future which hasn't even come yet. We tend to skim right over the present moment, and since the present moment is the only moment God gives anyone to live, if you don't live the present moment you never really get around to living at all. And if you do live the present moment you tend not to worry. For me every moment is a new and wonderful opportunity to be of service.
You see I've been talking to you about putting God's laws into practice. You know God's laws will bring us good as soon as we obey them. And the good in every human life always makes it possible for us to obey God's laws, but we have free will about this, don't we and therefore how soon we obey and thereby find harmony both within our lives and within our world is up to us. God bless you all and peace to all of you.
UNITY OF DALLAS - SIDE A
Thank you beautiful people and of course you are beautiful people. Within you is a spark of God, the indwelling Christ. Of course you are beautiful. That can govern your life gloriously. Now it may take a little growing; it did for me. You see, about 43 years ago I felt completely willing to surrender my life to God's will. But it took 15 years before I had succeeded in surrendering my life to God's will, and finding inner peace. So those of you who are on the path, never be impatient. All good things take time. Eventually of course all of us will find inner peace. All of our lives will be governed by the indwelling Christ which Jesus called the kingdom of God within. It was only when I had done this growing and found inner peace that I began my pilgrimage for peace in the world. Before that I would not have been ready for it. But I discovered something. The struggle between the self-centered nature and the God-centered nature, that was over. And I had surrendered my life to God's will, but learning and growing was not over.
It continued harmoniously all through my pilgrimage life and the very first lesson I learned was the lesson of receiving. I had been on the giving side for 15 years and now I needed to learn to receive as gracefully as I was able to give in order to give the other person the joy and the blessing of giving.
And so of course I have no money. I do not even accept any money. And I don't ask for any food or shelter or new items of clothing or anything that I might need. I never ask for it. It is given without asking. As you give you will receive. And so it has been, just think, for 28 years without asking I have been given everything I needed. All the most wonderful gifts, not only the food and shelter, not only things like that, but when you have found inner peace you are given the wonderful gift of endless energy. You just feel plugged in to the source of universal energy. It never runs out. I have more energy today, 28 years into my retirement than I had when I started out. You are given the wonderful gift of endless supply, the wonderful gift of endless working out of divine law in your life, so that those you are to meet, you meet, the words you are to speak, you speak. Everything needful has been given.
Now I want this gift for everyone. I want everyone to find inner peace. And I discover some are interested in finding it. Some are willing. Some are not, and those who are not will not find it. It is not anything that is imposed upon you. It is something that you can reach out and take, but you must make the effort. But you must make the effort to reach out and take it.
I was speaking to a group of people and somebody said to me, "Can you define for us grace and faith?" And I said, "Well, grace is the wonderful fact that God is always available. God is always reaching out to you and faith is through your own free will reaching out to God." And so inner peace is there for everybody. But you do need to reach out and take it. And how do you reach out and take it? Well, Jesus said when he walked the earth, "Why call you me Lord, Lord and do not what I say?" He was teaching them God's laws. They were worshipping, which is easy, instead of living, which is a little more difficult. Yes, it is through the living of divine law, and so I undertook the wonderful project of living all the good things I believed at the beginning of my 15-year period of serving and seeking. This is a wonderful project for everyone. You begin by living all the good things you believe. Get busy immediately on putting these things into practice in your life. Take them one by one and work on them.
Now the other things I have in my life. Sensible living habits. And that includes not only sensible eating, dress, exercise. It includes sensible thinking. Because you can absolutely destroy yourself through negative thinking. I practice prevention. I don't eat junk food and I don't think junk thoughts. May I recommend the practice of prevention.
Now it's very important that you have in your life something that will inspire you, lift you up. If beautiful music inspires you, listen to beautiful music. If beautiful words inspire you, read beautiful words. And if it inspires you to walk amid the beauties of nature, walk amid the beauties of nature. That's what I used to do.
That was my time alone with God. Walking amid the beauties of nature. And wonderful insights would come to me. And then you need in your life another very important ingredient, a path of service, something you do to help somebody, because in this world you are given as you give.
Let's talk about some of the purifications that are required of us as we proceed toward the life of inner peace. And we've mentioned a couple of them. Purification of the body, regarding the body as the temple of the spirit. Treating it that way. Purification of thought until your thoughts are all on the positive side. This is very important
Don't forget that there's something to that old saying that hate injures the hater, not the hated. It isn't enough just to do right things and say right things. You must also think right things, before your life can come into harmony.
And then there is purification of desire. What are the things you are desiring. Are they perfectly superficial things like pleasures or new items of wearing apparel, or new items of household furnishings, or new cars. You can come to the point of oneness of desire just to know and do God's will for you. Can you think of anything else really important to desire?
And then there is also purification of motive. Now this is a very tricky thing. What's your motive for whatever you may be doing? I've never met a person who had purely bad motives. But most people have very mixed motives. Good and bad motives all mixed together. I talked to a man for instance in the business world. And I knew that his motives in the business world were not the highest. But mixed in with them I found good motives. Caring for his family. Doing some good in his community. Mixed motives are very prevalent. And then I talked to groups that are studying the most advanced spiritual teaching, who wonder why nothing is happening in their lives. Their motive is the attainment of inner peace for themselves, which is a selfish motive. And they won't find it that way. Your motive, if you are to find inner peace, must be an outgoing motive - service of course, giving not getting.
I've met a few people who did need to change their jobs in order to change their lives, because you must be contributing constructively to the society in which you live in order to be happy. But I have met many more people who merely needed to change their motive to service in order to change their lives.
How about the fear habit, which is very prevalent these days. Fear is a habit, fear can be taught, fear is taught. I'll tell you an example of a place where fear was taught.
And I do just want to just touch one other habit and it is the anger habit. There's tremendous energy that comes with anger and you don't suppress it, that would hurt you inside, and you don't express it - that would not only hurt you inside, it would cause difficulties in your surroundings. What you do is transform it. You somehow use that tremendous energy on a task that needs to be done or a beneficial form of exercise. First, tasks that needs to be done.
Well, even though the time is getting late and my time is really up, I think I am going to tell you just one story. If you would like to ask me some questions, of course I'll be here afterward, and then at 8 o'clock tonight I speak at the other Unity Church too and I'll be answering questions there, but anyhow, let me tell you one pilgrimage experience and I think I'll tell you my most beautiful pilgrimage experience.
I hope that when we think about the release of the hostages we will think about the fact that they were released nonviolently, the way of the future. We paid their ransom with Iranian money and we didn't even pay out all the Iranian money that we were holding, you see, so therefore this was done completely non-violently. This is the way of the future, the non-violent way. God is trying to teach us in every possible way that this is the way to go. Overcoming evil with good, and falsehood with truth, and hatred with love.
Now this beautiful experience I'm going to tell you actually was, you might say, my ultimate test. We are constantly being tested. Just think of the test the hostages just went through. And this was my test, as to what I would do if I faced death. And so I faced death in a snow storm. I looked death in the face , and death is beautiful. I could never fear it. I look forward to it as life's last great adventure.
Now, I was of course freezing to death in a snow storm. Only it didn't go quite that far, but it was already in an advanced stage. I'll tell you the circumstances.
I was walking in a very isolated section of the country. I knew there was no human habitation within many many miles. And that afternoon came this snowstorm. It was out of season and it was like a cloudburst of rain, the snow was just dumped down and all of a sudden I was walking in deep snow and then I realized there were no more cars running on the road. I suppose they were getting stuck in the snow and they had closed the road. I assumed that was so. And then darkness was dumped down and I could no longer see my hand before my eyes. The snow was blowing in my face and it was getting bitter cold. It was the kind of cold that penetrates into the marrow of your bones. But God had never seemed so close. God was right there all around me and within me. I made a complete identification with the God within, with the indwelling Christ which is indestructible and I knew everything was all right, that I would remain to serve perhaps in this earth life but if not I would go on to serve in a freer life beyond.
And I felt I should keep on walking. I didn't know where I was walking too. I didn't know if I was walking along the highway or out into some field because I couldn't see anything and my feet in my low canvass shoes were like lumps of ice. They felt so heavy as I plodded along. And then my entire body began to become numb with the cold.
And after there was more numbness than pain came what some would refer to as a hallucination and what some would refer to as a vision. It was as though I became aware, not only of the embodied side of life where everything was black darkness and bitter cold and swirling snow, but also, and it seemed so close, I could step right over into it, of the un-embodied side of life where everything was warmth and light and there was such great beauty, which began with familiar color but transcended familiar color. Perhaps that's what the artist sees. Which began with familiar music and then transcended familiar music. Maybe that's what the musician hears.
And then I saw all those beings. They were at a great distance however, but one of them moved very quickly toward me and when she came close enough I recognized her, although she looked much younger than she had looked when she stepped over. And since I was already aware that at the time of the beginning of the change called death those nearest and dearest come to welcome us because I have been with those who stepped over and I remembered that they had talked to their loved ones on both sides as though they were all right there in the room together so I thought, "all right, my time has come now to step over." And so I greeted her and I either said or thought to her, "you have come for me," but she shook her head. She motioned for me to go back.
Just at that point I ran into the railing of a bridge, and the vision was gone. And because I felt guided to do so I groped my way down the snowy embankment. I got in under the bridge and under the bridge I found a large cardboard packing box with wrapping paper in it and very slowly and clumsily in my number condition I managed to get myself inside of that packing box. Somehow with my number fingers I managed to pull the wrapping paper around me. And there under the bridge during the snowstorm I slept. Even there shelter had been provided.
But provided also had been this experience. Had you seen me in the midst of that experience what might have been your reaction? Mighten you have said, "what a terrible experience that poor woman is going through." And you would have been so wrong. Looking back I can only say, "what a wonderful experience." I wouldn't missed it for anything. In which I faced death, feeling not fear, but the constant awareness of the presence of God which you take right over with you. And of course I believe that I have had the great privilege of experiencing the beginning of the change called death, so that now I can rejoice with my loved ones as they make the glorious transition to a freer living.
One more thought. In our world today we also seem to be in the midst of a terrible situation. Trouble here, trouble there, violence in our own street, but let's look for the lesson in it. There is darkness in our world today, yes. It is due to the disintegration of things which are contrary to God's law of love. But let us never say hopelessly, "Oh this is darkness before a storm." Let us rather say with faith, "This is the darkness before the dawn of a golden age of peace which we cannot now even imagine. For this let us hope, and work, and pray. God bless you all and peace to all of your.
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