61 QUESTION: What exactly is grace?
ANSWER: I can see that it would be quite difficult for you to understand the concept of grace after hearing from me constantly that the law of cause and effect has to take its course. Although this is true, grace nevertheless exists. It is not easy to explain and very commonly misunderstood.
It may make it easier if I briefly mention first what grace is not, but what is often taken to mean grace. It is often thought that when grace is extended, a person does not have to encounter difficulties he or she ordinarily would have to go through. In other words, the law of cause and effect is thereby broken. People think if God extends grace, he eliminates trouble for you. Of course, this is an entirely wrong concept.
In reality, grace is the Plan of Salvation, with everything therein to enable the fallen spirits to return. If divine law would not operate in such a way as to make evil defeat itself, the fallen spirits could never return. This is the basic grace. The help of the spirits who did not fall, or of those who have evolved, is further grace. Without this constant help, the return would be so much harder and longer, but this does not mean that the law of cause and effect is broken.
Grace is the coming of Jesus Christ. One being has taken upon himself such a tremendous task and such hardship he did not have to endure in order to open the doors, to show the way, to help accelerate development for all, by an act of supreme love as has never been witnessed on this Earth before or since. If you reread the lecture I gave on this subject [Lecture #19 Jesus Christ], this will become clearer to you.
Divine grace constantly happens where the spreading of light penetrates confusion and darkness in order to hasten the realization of the Divine World. Let us say, for instance, that a nation is dominated by the Forces of Darkness because of the people’s ignorance and the outcropping of their negative currents. To come out of this darkness unassisted, without grace, would mean to go through so much hardship, destruction and tragedy. It would be unbearable.
And it would take so much longer, so very, very much longer, than it does with grace. Grace may take many forms. It can happen through the incarnation of a few strong and highly developed people who do not have to take on certain tasks, but who do so in love and brotherhood, to help.
By the same token, each one of you can also be an instrument of grace. If, by your development, you come to understand more profoundly, and your power and capacity to love truly unfolds – not by force and compulsion, but in reality – you have an effect on others, and therefore on the world, such as you cannot imagine. You are a spreader of light and truth by the very act of your search into your own soul.
Your innermost self unfolds, freeing itself of all the layers and masks, and thus you are capable of affecting the innermost self of other people. You penetrate right through their superimposed layers and masks. That is the case, as I explained before. Hence, every good and right act, most of all, the act of self-unfoldment, makes you an instrument of grace. The power of good and love is infinitely stronger than the power of evil and ignorance.
Others do not only learn from your example, but they are strongly affected in their subconscious by your emanation. You may think that it means nothing; it cannot be grace or guidance or anything divine because you did it. But any human being can be an instrument of grace, or of any other divine manifestation.
There are constant chain reactions, not only as far as the negative currents in the human soul are concerned – as you all have had plenty of opportunity to verify on your path – but also as far as divine manifestations are concerned. They come from a source and that source is divine grace.
That it finally takes effect through various chains of instruments of grace – also human instruments – does not alter the fact that it originally comes from the divine source. I realize that this is a hard subject to explain and to understand.
QUESTION: Have those who receive it merited it in some way?
ANSWER: Again this indicates the wrong concept. Grace is not extended to a few chosen ones and withheld from others. Grace is all around you. If you want it, you can partake of it. If you do not want it, if you desire in some corner of your being to remain in blindness, grace will not be accessible to you. But those who want it will constantly be affected by it. It is there for everyone alike. Grace is there as the product of the Divine World and you can all get it if you know how to turn toward it.
QA129 QUESTION: I have a question about receiving what would be grace from God, help from this God, to clear new paths in a kind of passage sufficient from yourself. This force comes to you and helps to clear your path for your own development. I don’t know if this is the right type of thing for myself or if this is the correct way. I have many doubts.
ANSWER: Yes, well I can understand why you do doubt – because, you see, when man expects a deity to give him what he does not know how to give to himself, his doubt would be more than justified. What is grace? Let us be clear about the meaning of grace. So many people wish to believe that grace means that God gives them something for nothing. But grace is something completely different.
Grace is the way the world, the universe, Creation, is constituted. Grace is the fact that man has the power to make himself into a completely happy, meaningful, useful creature, who experiences the bliss of being, and this is in his power. He cannot get to this state when he passively waits. This is an unrealistic waiting.
But he certainly can get – and relatively quite fast – to this state, when he is willing to be active – not overactive, not in a hurry or in anxiety or in harassment – in a sense that he takes the reigns of his life into his own hands by realizing that his life is exactly that which he is. That if he wishes his life to be changed, he has to change, and that he’s willing to undertake this change.
In order to make this change possible, he can enlist and should enlist the infinite powers at his disposal, within himself. But these powers never can work when he does nothing but wait.
He has to be willing to look at himself in truthfulness, to understand where he is in error, and to be willing to change where he wants a different kind of life. That is grace – when man discovers he has that power, when man discovers he is not a helpless tool – that realization, that fact of Creation, is the grace that constantly exists, that does not have to be given to anyone.
That can come to you in any second because it is already there if you make it possible. You can only make it possible by knowing and understanding yourself on the deepest layer and by changing yourself where it is necessary, because you barricade the taking part of that grace that exists within you constantly. That is the realistic approach that can never, never let you down.
You will be let down only the very moment when you expect salvation from outside yourself. When you know salvation lies in your power, you can never be let down, because then you will have the proper balance between your efforts, your willingness, your endeavors, and enlisting the divine powers and wisdom that helps you to do so.
It will not be either the one or the other. It will be both in conjunction, as I explained in the last lecture a fortnight ago [Lecture #129 Winner Versus Loser: Interplay Between the Self and Creative Forces]. Man either expects the salvation only from God, waiting for this divine grace, or man thinks such divine grace does not exist, that divine help and wisdom and power do not exist. He has to do it all by his outer brain, his outer little self.
In both alternatives, he must be disappointed. But when he uses both, one enforcing the other, one increasing the other, then he can never be disappointed. That is the way of truth that will never, never let down.
I do not say that while a person is on such a path, he will not experience occasionally doubt and letdown, but in exact proportion where he has reverted back to expecting salvation from others rather than from himself. And when you go deep enough – again, I address my words to all of my friends, present and absent – and this is a very important key, my dearest ones: you become most impatient and most demanding that others help you, and most resentful that others do not help you sufficiently when you resist a change or an insight into yourself.
To the degree you do not want to change or fear change, to that degree you resent life or God or your Helper or your surroundings, because your life is not happy or the Path lets you down. You will feel let down by the Path to that degree as you resist change, fear change, and do not want to acknowledge this.
On the other hand, to the degree you’re willing to look and change, to that degree you will never feel let down. This is a key that all of you – also those friends who are not here tonight – should not only remember but try to ascertain within themselves and work on to see that it is so – that what I say is truth, absolute truth.
QUESTION: I still can’t understand how all this fits the idea of “thy will be done.” Or do I have to relinquish something to God? That I don’t understand.
ANSWER: Well, you only relinquish something that is negative. You do not relinquish it to God in the sense when you think of a personality residing in the clouds. You relinquish it for the sake of truth, love, constructive living. You relinquish it for the sake of yourself and therefore for the sake of God. You see, you are still geared, when you ask such a question, to think that you and God are not one.
This would be a contradiction or a confusion if God’s will were different from man’s will, or if God would demand something that is a disadvantage for man. You do not relinquish anything that is of advantage to you. And that which is most constructive and brings most happiness to you must be God’s will. The moment you understand that, there is no conflict or confusion in this.
When man thinks that God is harsh and wants you to suffer and wants you to forego your advantages, then relinquishing becomes a problem. But man holds on to destructive attitudes in the false idea, unconsciously, that these destructive attitudes are a protection for him. But in reality, they are damaging for him. They prohibit a happiness.
He feels when he has to relinquish such a defense that he has to do something that endangers him for the sake of God. This is a wrong idea. As long as such a wrong idea, such a wrong concept, exists, a conflict of relinquishing and the will of God versus the will of man will exist. But this is not a real problem.
Here is an example. Let us say, within this work you’re doing on the Path, you discover an image; you discover a wrong conclusion. And in this wrong conclusion, this image has the effect of certain destructive attitudes in you. Let us suppose one of those destructive attitudes is that you are afraid of loving, that you hold back your feelings. You do not allow yourself to be natural, to let your feelings go spontaneously. You constantly manipulate them and hold them back.
Now, somewhere deep inside you may feel, perfectly justifiably, “If I withhold from loving, I do not do the will of God. Surely the will of God must be that I love.” On the other hand, you may be very frightened. You may really feel it is a sacrifice. You may really feel you do relinquish a very cherished, very necessary protection if you give up the prohibition to love, to feel, to enjoy a deep relationship.
In reality you do not sacrifice or relinquish anything. There is no difference between your real will – the will of your real self – and the will of God. It is only the little self, steeped in error, that wants to remain safe and not love. Of course, before you come across such an area of relinquishing, you will have to become aware of the fact, first, that you are afraid of loving, which often requires quite a bit of extended insight and self-honesty, for on the surface you may never know that.
Or you may think your substitutions for loving are the same as loving. But once you come face to face with the fact that you do prohibit yourself from loving, this prohibition would have to be relinquished if you wish fulfillment and happiness. And that may appear like a sacrifice. There you may feel, “My will is one thing; God’s will is another.”
QA175 QUESTION: I’d like to understand grace in terms of this Pathwork. Is it this thing that we have available to us that can turn the negative current into a positive current? My Helper has said that because we have a choice, we can choose not to cast ourselves into hell but to cast ourselves into heaven. Is it possible, through grace, to dissolve karma rather than fight through it all?
ANSWER: The concept of grace is, in this world, very often misunderstood – so much misunderstood, in fact, that I do not even like to use this word, because the usual connotation is that a personal God-figure elects to dispense grace on some and not on others, and that this grace, whatever this is supposed to mean, is like a special favor being given, that a punishment is not meted out.
In other words, it has all the connotation of a self-alienation between the self and God, and being a child that is being given something special. This is totally and even dangerously misleading. Therefore, I do not like to use this word.
But I would say that the process by which you can elicit the energies to go from a negative-involved track on to a positive track comes in lawful and orderly processes of cause and effect. Now, what appears as grace is that very often the effect comes much later and in indirect ways so that it is no longer connected in the conscious mind with the cause the personality has set in motion.
In other words, let us suppose you now meditate and commit yourself to God, to everything God means, to everything the universal spirit and Creator means, of love and truth, of honesty and self-responsibility, of integrity and courage, of functioning in a way where you do not wish to receive more than you give, which secretly the neurotic personality does.
Now, once this commitment is being made, the effect is rarely seen and experienced immediately, for the blocks are too strong – not because a God sits alienated and away from you in some other geographical place and then hands out at a later time the dispensations.
Your own inner blocks have to work their way through, and maybe this positive spirit has to be strengthened and the tunnels have to be built finally – if the personality does not succumb to negativity in the period of waiting, if one does not immediately give up and pout and say, “It does not work anyway; it is hopeless.”
In other words, if a patiently waiting, trusting attitude is being maintained, the effect will come. But it will then seem so remote from the cause that has been set in motion by your own decision to “cast yourself in heaven,” as you said, that it seems like something is being given unto you that appears as grace.