99 QUESTION: Could you comment on the Lord’s Prayer, particularly the words, “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven”? Could you tell us what “on Earth” and “in heaven” mean?
ANSWER: Earth and heaven are not geographical descriptions of life here and now, nor of the life to come in the hereafter. They mean levels of your personality, which automatically include any state of life – the physical as well as the nonphysical. The symbol for Earth might be interpreted in many ways: Earth may be your outer life, the material life, physical life, physical actions and outer facts; in short, everything visible.
For Earth is visible for you, while heaven is invisible. The symbol of heaven, therefore, is all that which cannot be seen or perceived with the outer senses. It means your inner actions and reactions, your thoughts and feelings, your motivations, your soul and spirit. It means the psychological, emotional and spiritual levels of your being – those which cannot be seen. You may act outwardly in the right way, but inwardly the motivations may be selfish, vain, unloving and cowardly.
One may conform to all the rules and regulations of church, society and public opinion, and be faultless in conduct, but whatever goes on in the soul may be very opposite to divine law. That place is heaven, the kingdom within, of which Christ spoke.
If you are inwardly pure, inwardly open, and inwardly fulfill the will of God, perhaps sometimes at the expense of outer approval from society, you are being true to yourself. Then you have the integrity, courage and humility to stand up for what you really believe – you are doing the will of God. If you ask for this in your prayer, fully aware that this may be what he wants from you, then you do the will of God in heaven, and automatically also on Earth.
QUESTION: In this connection, is it not rather significant that the first seven words of Genesis, in Hebrew, contain the words “heaven” and “Earth” just as in the Lord’s Prayer? An interpretation of the word heaven, hashomayim, shows it is composed of the words that mean fire and water. Can you tie this together?
ANSWER: Yes. Primitive humanity always took everything literally, and still does. Only through development will humanity see the deeper meaning, which will make so much more sense. The meanings of fire are: the fire of life, living, loving, enthusiasm, healthy activity, spiritual endeavor, courage, conviction one stands up for, strength that makes life a meaningful adventure. Water represents the emotions: the flow, the state of being, a healthy passivity. Both healthy activity – fire – and healthy passivity – water – are processes of purification.
Both fire and water can be cleansing processes, and both are needed for an integrated, healthy life. Both are forces in the universe, which you tap or tune into by establishing truth in your soul. The combination of these two forces brings you into harmony with the state of being, which would mean heaven.
QA129 QUESTION: Can you elaborate on your teachings of the Lord’s Prayer [Lecture #9] – that God is in us and we are part of God.
ANSWER: Where is there a conflict?
QUESTION: It says “Father in heaven.”
ANSWER: The kingdom of heaven is within yourself, as Jesus stated.
QUESTION: Yes, and also “give us our daily bread.”
ANSWER: Where do you see a conflict?
QUESTION: Thy will be done.
ANSWER: I just explained that the will of God is that man be happy – that God lives within man and the kingdom of heaven is within man. Jesus stated this, and many other great spiritual teachers stated the same. There’s no conflict.
If you think of heaven outside yourself, then you get into a conflict. But when you know that heaven is within, the reality of being is within, you will find no conflict with the Lord’s Prayer.
QUESTION: What about people who commit evil deeds – are they working with the heaven within them, for profit, the evil end?
ANSWER: You see, my dearest, there is no evil separate force. There is one tremendous power in the universe. It is the same power that is used in ignorance. Whenever you’re in ignorance and whenever you have a wrong conclusion, you may also say it is the evil power; it is the same power.
When you express a wrong conclusion, negativity comes out. It is evil in that sense, or ignorant – whatever word you choose to give it – and it is the same power. It works as mathematically correct as when constructive, truthful thoughts and ideas and attitudes are cultivated. Therefore productive, warm, accepting feelings come out. It’s the same power.
When man gives up his misconceptions, the power is used in a different channel. It straightens itself out. It can flow in a constructive channel. When you see the universe in this way, you will understand it. When you think of two separate powers or entities, you will get confused.
QA136 QUESTION: Quite a while ago, you said that one day you would explain the Lord’s Prayer to us. I would very much like to have an explanation of how it fits in with our present meditations as well as an actual explanation.
ANSWER: Yes. Well, for most of my friends, using – at this point of their development – any prepared and ready meditation or prayer is not advisable. It is much better if they use it spontaneously, according to the present need, because each day their needs and their approach to their inner self may change.
But as a point of interest, regarding the original meaning, I may say this: namely, that father is not meant as a person residing up in heaven, but that universal consciousness, the spirit of truth and of the divine powers that dwell in each individual entity, and that are accessible to each individual entity.
In that, there is a unity among all, because that higher self or that spiritual being – which it is the aim of all development to be in contact with, to be unified with, to be integrated with – that is one, yours and everyone else’s. It is the same.
That does not mean it is unindividualistic. It is many faceted, as entities and individualities exist, but it is one in all – it is a oneness in purpose, in everything. And that might be called the father.
As the master has said, the kingdom of heaven is within the soul, always within. Now, once this basic approach is understood, the rest of these words will automatically fall into place and become meaningful, for they will also be understood in a different way – that what you do to yourself, you do to others, and what you do to others, you do to yourself.
This is something that anyone who is actively engaged in this work of self-realization must find, constantly. The more you realize yourself, the more reality you perceive, the more you understand the truth that whatever you do to yourself you do to others, and whatever you do to others, you do to yourself. These two things, I think, explain everything in that prayer. Or does that leave anything else open?
QUESTION: [Another person] A week ago, for some reason or other, when I had resolved a problem with my father, I felt somehow that I had resolved, symbolically, half of my problems; and the other half concerned my mother.
ANSWER: Yes. Exactly. Because you see, my friend, the whole universe, your universe, your life, your outer life, is exactly what your inner life is. You can only understand your outer life as you understand your inner life. And that is exactly what you are accomplishing in this Pathwork.
If you only understand your inner life, your outer life will be obvious. There is no difference. You can see the exact correlation. The more you experience in this growth process, the more your outer life does not become something which you have to battle against.
But it is an immediate reflection of yourself. As you like yourself, so you will like your life. Those areas within yourself that you’re at one with, those areas will be fulfilled and whole and pleasurable. Those areas where you are confused and battle against misconceptions and illusions, those area will be problematic. You will be at odds in your life with them. And this beautiful prayer explains all that.
If there’s any line that you do not understand, please ask.
QUESTION: Well, I think you’ve told us before about “deliver us from temptation” – that it is to help us once we are in temptation. Can you comment on that?
ANSWER: Yes. As everything good comes from within yourself, so does the temptation, in a sense – the temptation meaning, for instance, to give in to your resistance, to give in to the line of least resistance, to give in to the negativity, to give in to the precarious satisfaction of being destructive. That is the temptation. That is the living reality of temptation.
It is your mind, your thinking, your willing, that can call upon these forces within that can nourish you with the necessary strength to overcome this temptation. It is not the God in heaven who will deliver you from it.
QUESTION: There’s one problem with this that I have. It confuses me. Because then I have difficulty with spontaneous reaction. If you have to start thinking about resisting or doing something – you know, all those questions arise in your mind, should you or should you not give in to temptation?
ANSWER: No, this is a false concept you have. What is meant is what we often say in different words, and that is, overcome the resistance to overcome the negativity, the destructiveness, to give into stagnation. That does not mean you should superimpose the feelings you have now.
You see, let us say you do not want to overcome hostility and laziness and self-pity. Let us say that! It’s a very frequent state of mind. Now, one can go on and on with that, half recognizing it, but not really pinpointing it.
By saying, “If I get a hold of myself, I superimpose,” that is not correct. You need not deny what is. On the contrary! You must face what is. So the proper approach would be to say, “Here I am. I am hostile; I am lazy; I wallow in self-pity, and I let myself go in this. I recognize these traits, but I choose not to give into them. I desire not to be hostile. I desire not to give in to self-pity, and I desire not to be lazy. The strength for it cannot come from our outer mind, but with my outer mind, I can activate and contact these higher forces within me to inspire and guide me to come out of it.” That is not lack of spontaneity.