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'Practicing The Presence': Conversations With Yanni

May 27, 2024
Heather Smith
Core Spirit member since Feb 3, 2021
Reading time 6 min.

‘Practicing The Presence’: Conversations With Yanni

Yanni: Hello everyone. It’s lovely to have you here with us. We’re currently studying the mystical book, ‘Practicing The Presence’ by Joel Goldsmith in our online Book Study Group. In this series, Heather and I will be discussing the spiritual principles Joel shares, together with some thoughts and questions that have been asked. We’ll work our way through each of the chapters, and in this video, we’ll be discussing Chapters 3 and 4.

So, Heather, shall we begin with the first question? ‘To know God is to love God’. Can you please elaborate?

Heather: Certainly. I believe this is a quote from Chapter 3 in ‘ Practicing The Presence’. Joel covers the subject of God being Omnipotence in this chapter. And in understanding God’s omnipotence, it's important to contemplate the nature of God, which is… the presence of Love. But not human love - not human emotion. God is Divine Love that’s not experienced by the senses. It’s cognised by the Soul. An inner Light that’s completely impersonal and yet clearly experienced as Love.

God is Life - Life lives - and since there is only One Life there cannot be anything destructive in Life to harm or annihilate Itself. Life is Love.

We cover the subject of the omnipresence of God in Chapter 4, but in answer to this question, knowing there’s only One Life, One Self, One Being expressed in infinite ways means that all we ever really experience is God, our own Consciousness. When we realise that all we ever truly see or experience is our Self then we’re closer to loving God. And God doesn’t express as personalities - there’s no God in the human world. Personalities are thought-constructs that are substance-less and have no real existence. What’s really here when you’re presented with the appearance of ‘another’ (and that can be another person, another animal, another ‘thing’ - anything that seems to be separate and apart from yourself) - what’s really here is your own Consciousness. As we said before, there’s no ‘me’ and ‘my body’; there’s no ‘me’ and ‘my world’. There’s just Me. There’s no duality, no separation. Joel covers this in the chapter we’ll come on to later about loving thy neighbour, because thy neighbour is really your own Self.

So, knowing God, understanding the true nature and spiritual qualities of God is obeying the first commandment: ‘To love the Lord thy God with all thy Heart…’ Joel sometimes talked about how we’re not required to love or forgive personalities on the spiritual path. There’s a misconception that in order to be spiritual, one must unconditionally love everyone. In a sense, that’s not true. Only God can Love; man can’t love because man/ego is not the Doer. (One of the Wisdoms in ‘The Infinite Way’ is: “Consciousness lives Itself. You do not live it”. And this is an important subject that we’ll discuss in more depth in another video). Joel cited the example of when he tried to love and forgive Hitler, who was prominent in his day, and Joel came to the understanding that it’s not man who loves; it’s God who Loves. I remain as the Witness… and Love flows. It’s a natural happening when we’re resting in Awareness.

As part of his ministry, Joel often gave talks in prisons, and again, he cites an example of being forewarned by one prison warden before he went into a meeting that the men he was about to talk to wouldn’t stay in the room and they wouldn’t listen. In fact, Joel went in there and spoke not to the personalities and the appearances of the men his senses were presenting to him, he saw through the appearance (and we talked about how to do that in our last video). He bore witness to the presence of the true Self where those men appeared to be. And all of them stayed. And not only did they stay, they stayed for over the hour and had questions afterwards. They sensed, maybe not consciously, that Joel wasn’t judging them but instead was communing with the truth of their being.

This is knowing and loving God: living in awareness of our own Self is devotion to God.

Yanni: Thank you, Heather. Let’s move on to our next question: ‘There is only one power and God is that power’. What does that mean?

Heather: Thank you, Yanni. So, this is another important principle in the Infinite Way - God as the only power. God, Consciousness, being all there is, is Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omniscient. And by that I mean, our Consciousness is the only power, the only presence and the only intelligence in our experience. It's all there is.

So let’s consider omnipotence.

We’ve said there’s only One Life, and since Life lives, it can’t annihilate Itself. Therefore, there cannot be two powers; there can’t be a power of good and evil in Truth. Good and evil are appearances in carnal thought; they’re not the absolute truth of what’s really here. Take, for example, the belief that a germ can cause illness or kill. Since God, Consciousness, is the substance of all form, of everything that exists, can it really harm, or is it just a belief out-picturing that appears to cause sickness? And, yes, certainly, what we experience through the senses based on beliefs and thoughts can seem very real, especially when there’s fear or pain involved, or we’re reacting to something. But the spiritual practice that Joel teaches throughout his books, is to remain fully present, as the Observer and then those discordant images either dissolve or transform into something more peaceful and harmonious. When we’re resting in Perfect Peace, that is our experience. I love the quote from Lao Tze which encapsulates this practice: ‘Stay in the centre watching and forget you are there’. In Truth, there is no ‘you’, there’s only Consciousness.

Yanni: That’s really helpful. Thank you, Heather. So, moving on to our final question: ‘Is there a difference between God-consciousness and individual consciousness?’

Heather: Yes! Absolutely. But let’s be clear what we mean by ‘God consciousness’ and ‘individual consciousness’. Sometimes, we can get too caught up in words, which is why in his book, ‘The Art of Meditation’, Joel suggests that those new to the path may find it easier to contemplate spiritual truth as a means to stilling the mind before entering into meditation. But the real ‘knowing’ comes from ‘experiencing’ Truth rather than understanding it intellectually.

God-Consciousness is all there really is. Pure, unadulterated Consciousness. Our Self, our Mind, our Soul lives and is eternal. God expresses as individual-consciousness but there’s not two, there’s only one. There’s no God and individual consciousness - there’s just God appearing as individual Self. Just like the entirety of the ocean expresses as a wave, the entirety of Consciousness expresses as individual consciousness. I remember reading Lorraine Sinkler (who was the original editor of Joel’s books) saying that in her early years as a student of Joel’s teachings, they used to correspond with each other. On one occasion when she wrote to him, she said in passing that she understood she was a spark of the Divine. Joel wrote back and said firmly: ‘You are not a ‘spark’ of the Divine - you are the whole of the Divine!’. So, be very clear, that our Consciousness, our Mind, is the Omnipresence, Omnipotence, Omniscience - there’s not some far off God, separate and apart from our Self. The I that I am is the embodiment of the One Presence.

To take this a step further and really clarify: God-consciousness is individual consciousness but it's not ego-consciousness. The egoic sense of self is illusory and substance-less - it's not a real existence. The fabric of the egoic self and the whole human world is thought - a mental image where spiritual reality is.

Yanni: Thank you, Heather. I know some of our viewers may want to go back and listen to this again because it's quite deep. If anyone has any questions or comments, or would simply like to reach out and join us in meditation, you're welcome to contact us.

Ok, shall we end with a final silent meditation? You may like to gently close your eyes and be still for a few moments in any way that has meaning for you….

Thank you.

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