We are living today in a complex and changing world. If there is one thing one needs more than anything else, it is light: light in terms of insight into self, guidance along life’s way, knowledge of the secrets of the universe, and the wisdom to use light and not abuse it. The clearest thinkers the race has produced have always seen the course of their lives as the quest for light. It is said that Goethe, who spent his life on this quest, gasped the last words on his deathbed: “More light!”1
And yet invariably the search has been “out there.” We have thought of light in terms of ideas and innovations, or the minds that gave birth to them. His followers saw Jesus as the light, instead of one who gave evidence of “the true light that enlightens every man ... coming into the world” (Jn. 1:9). It is true that He said, “I am the light of the world.” But He also said, “You are the light of the world.... Let your light so shine” (Mt. 5:14,16).
Light is the reality of God within all creation. It is the reality of our own potential. All overcoming, all healing, all self-expansion is the inevitable effect of the dawning of light within and its effusion without. It is of this that Isaiah speaks: “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily” (Is. 58:8 KJV).
Humankind forever stands at the crossroads of human experience, and the darkness of fear and indecision is overwhelming. Which way to go? What to choose? Who or what to vote for? One of the chief causes of strain is living in the awareness that even little decisions can influence our whole lives. Who of us cannot identify with Robert Frost as he muses:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.2
From the earliest times humankind has yearned for some way to see beyond the horizon and thus to know the ultimate course of those “two roads.” The precursors of religion are the medicine men and fortune-tellers and seers and prophets who were able, or claimed they were, to look into the future. The very word Providence, long used as a synonym for God, comes from root words that mean “to see forward.” And the dictionary definition of the word religion is “divine revelation for human guidance.”
Humankind has instinctively sensed a dimension of life in which there flows, like an underground stream, a directive force that is forever correspondent with every conscious need. Emerson talks of this:
There is guidance for each of us, and by lowly listening we shall hear the right word. Why need you choose so painfully? … Certainly there is a possible right for you that precludes the need of … willful election. For you there is a reality, a fit place .... Place yourself in the middle of the stream of power and wisdom which animates all whom it floats, and you are without effort impelled to truth, to right and a perfect contentment.3
… Some persons puzzle over the question, “How can one distinguish between divine guidance and human will?” The very question implies a duality—a sense of God “out there” who would or could desire for you something contrary to your personal desires. Divine guidance is not an exterior force acting upon you. It is the seed of your divinity (the Christ of you) seeking to fulfill its pattern in the outforming process of your life. God could never want for you that which you do not inherently want for yourself.
Of course, willfulness can be a problem. But then the first step in prayer is to let go the ego, to give consent to the flow of the “unimpeachable wholeness of the universe.” You may not succeed on every occasion in letting the flow of your own pattern have its way. This is why the term practice the Presence is so meaningful. Paul advises us to “study to show thyself approved unto God” (2 Tim. 2:15 KJV). This does not mean trying to win divine approval. You are always as approved of God as you are of sunlight. Your work is to determine how you are blocking the flow. Then open the windows, step out of the shadows into the light. And this may take effort and perseverance.
… Your mind is your kingdom. It has no boundaries. The free flow of ideas and creativity is your inheritance. It is important to begin acting on the belief that you can dip into this process at any time, manifesting guidance and light in creative and imaginative ways that are beyond human knowing. For it is a wellspring that is inexhaustible.
1 John Bartlett, Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, Brown & Co., Boston, 15th ed., 1980, p. 397.
2 Robert Frost, “The Road Not taken,” Complete Poems of Robert Frost, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, 1961, p. 131.
3 Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Worship,” The Complete Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, William H. Wise & Co., New York, 1929, p. 167.