Blessed Evening, Loves 😊

I Pray All Is Well With Everyone…And Your Hearts And Minds Are Full Of Love, Joy, And Compassion…For All Your Brothers And Sisters In Spirit! May Those Higher Qualities And The Light Of The Living God Within Us All – Illumine The Earth Most Brilliantly This Week…And Saturate The Atmosphere With Mo’ Love Mo’ Love Mo’ Love…To Reach Every Person In This World…In Every Corner On This Earth…Be It North, South, East, Or West…Or Anywhere In Between! And As We Acknowledge The Birth Of Jesus The Christ…Let Us Remember Also, That That Same Christ Consciousness And Spirit Is Within Us All – And Readily Accessible Upon The Acknowledgment – And Connection – With Our Own “Mighty I AM Presence”! Amen…Smiling Face with Open HandsPurple HeartPurple HeartPurple Heart

Give Thanks And Praises For Love And Life…Folded Hands: Medium-Dark Skin ToneRevolving Hearts

And Y’all Be Love…And Have A Merry, Merry Christmas!  Slightly Smiling FaceChristmas Tree on Samsung One UI 5.0 Orange HeartGreen HeartRed HeartBlue HeartPurple Heart

A Lengthy Read Tonight…Smiling Face with SunglassesFolded Hands: Medium-Dark Skin Tone

“The spiritual life is not a life of strain, either in the sense of putting pressure upon the mind to hold certain beliefs, or in the sense of keeping up a certain continuous stress of attention. It is a real struggle, a continuing conflict, a life of steady facing of duty; but still, it should not be, in any hysterical sense, a life of strain. This means, in the first place, that the man who wishes to have the spiritual life a reality to him, will not bring any pressure upon his mind to hold certain beliefs. He will rather see clearly that his sole responsibility is simply to put himself face to face with the great realities, and to make an honest response to them. He is honestly to give them their opportunity with him, through earnest attention to the truth; but that is all; he can make no great convictions to order.

…To put pressure on the mind, for whatever end, is, to begin with, dishonest; and we cannot rationally hope that dishonesty will help to the sense of the reality of a spiritual life, that must be from the bottom ethical. Dishonesty, in any form, is itself hollow and false; it is impossible that it should give finally any genuine reality. Moreover, for this very reason, even when through mere effort of the will a temporary sense of reality is given, a reaction is certain to follow, that leaves the spiritual life less assured than at first. In a word, in every such putting of pressure upon the mind to believe certain things, there is always some latent sense pretense and unreality, that can never give a solid foundation for spiritual living. The spiritual life calls for no such straining to believe, and only suffers by it.

…Most of those whose theory of the religious life involves a life of strain; the psychological impossibility of their theory will not deter. They cannot allow themselves to be so daunted. But it may weigh with them to consider that such a conception of religion reduces it to a thoroughly man-made affair. No doubt, in most cases, this would seem to them the very antithesis of their intention. But it remains true that, however religious the phraseology in which the view is set forth, any theory of the religious life that calls for this sort of psychological tension really leaves God quite out of account. For if God is real at all, and our relation to him is a reality, the conviction of that reality is not to be simply our product, a thing up to which we must strain.

There are, no doubt, conditions upon our part to be fulfilled normally and rationally. But the sense of reality of the spiritual world which we are seeking cannot come simply as forced by us, but only as the result of interaction with the great realities themselves. It is wholly true, as has been already insisted upon, that there can be no mere passivity on our part; we do actively cooperate. But it is also true that the activity is never merely, nor even chiefly ours, if we are dealing with reality here at all. Let us never forget that, in Herrmann’s words, “the certainty of God is not the product of human strivings.”

That must be primarily God’s work, done upon certain plain conditions, plainly allowed by our normal life. One cannot wisely attempt, either for himself or for others, to do God’s work. One may appeal here confidently to the life of Jesus. Is there the slightest suggestion in his spirit, that his clear sense of the reality of the spiritual world is in any way hysterical?

On the contrary, is not the whole temper of his life that of a confident trust, as of one walking in the very presence of God, to whom it was absurd to suggest that the sense of the reality of God depended upon some strained attitude of attention or painfully maintained mood of feeling, and so might vanish at any moment when the tension became too great? The whole meaning of his life seems rather to say, “God can be counted upon. The life in relation to him is no mere imaginary one, which you are forced to make; it is a real life in which he is constantly at work. I am come to give you the most positive assurance upon that point.”

It is equally important for us to remember, if the spiritual life is to be real to us, that it is not a life of the imitation or repetition of the experience of others. That we need others here, as elsewhere, is clear. That we come into most that is of value to us, through introduction by some other, is also plain. Nevertheless, if the spiritual world is to have the fullest reality for us, the reality it ought to have for a mind awakened to mature self-consciousness, we must have some experience in the spiritual that is genuinely our own, not a hollow echo of something we have heard from others.

In a Christian community, where the language of religious experience is familiar, perhaps there is no greater danger besetting the spiritual life than this danger of merely imitating the experience of others. To face the reality of a genuine religious experience, heartily to fulfil the conditions upon which alone it may become genuinely ours, means much that is uncomfortable, real willingness to see the facts of our own life and need as they are, the breaking down of our pride, the giving up of our selfishness and self-indulgence, the putting of ourselves really and persistently in the presence of God’s supreme revelation in Christ. This is not easy. Men naturally shrink from it. It is far easier to satisfy oneself with a very shallow dealing with the problem of our life, and then to catch up the traditional language of religious experience from others.

This temptation, in the individual himself, is increased by the virtual demand that has been very generally made by the Church, that there must be a full expression of the meaning of the Christian life at the very beginning, or even as a condition of entering upon it at all. But how is it possible that this should honestly be? It seems, (much), like requiring a student to pass upon a course as a condition of entering it.

A confession of Christ that means anything must be one’s own, the honest expression of what one has already found Christ to be. A confession of faith requires that the faith, the living experience, should be there, before we confess it. But how can a man confess the divinity of Christ, for example, as a condition of becoming a disciple of Christ?

The only confession of Christ’s divinity, that can be even approximately adequate, can come only in his discipleship, in one’s deepening experience of what Christ has come to be to him. Plainly, Christ’s own little circle of the twelve came only gradually, under association with him, to any adequate confession of him. We have no right to require more. The point of insistence is, not that we should accept the creed of the apostles in order to come into their experience, but rather that we should seek an experience like the apostles, that may fruit in a like confession, which can then be genuinely our own.

The very familiarity with the language of religious experience, then, the instinctive temptation to catch up the expression of life rather than to insist upon the life itself, and the demand of the Church for an expression of Christian life quite beyond the possibility of experience, all combine to produce the far too general habit of expressing more than has been personally known and experienced, and hence to give the sense of unreality.

This is, to my mind, the most serious danger, for example, of the Christian Endeavor pledge, particularly with those quite young, where the matter is not carefully guarded. They are pledged to speak, whether they have really something of their own to say or not. They naturally catch up the language of Christian experience, which they have heard from others. Gradually, if they are thoughtful and conscientious and have not been making unusual growth, they come to feel that their language is no true reflection of their own experience. They feel its hollowness; a reaction sets in; and a most depressing sense of the unreality of the spiritual life naturally succeeds. We must not shut our eyes to such dangers. In any case, wherever the religious life becomes, to any large degree, a life of mere imitation or repetition of others’ experiences, and the person is at all thoughtful, there the spiritual life is certain to come to seem thoroughly unreal.

A third misconception of the nature of the spiritual life, which is certain finally to give the sense of its unreality, is that it is a life of magical inheritance of results. Our own time is particularly liable to have this feeling. So far as the scientific spirit really affects men, they are certain to give increasing emphasis to the necessity, in all spheres, of the recognition of laws, of conditions, and of time. If results in the spiritual life, therefore, are conceived as coming without clear conditions, in a kind of merely magical way, that life unavoidably takes on for such minds a decided aspect of unreality. It has no intelligible connection with the rest of their life, and there seems to be nothing they can do with it.

This makes it imperative that those, who would make the spiritual world a reality for the most wide-awake minds of our time, must themselves see the spiritual life as a genuine sphere of laws, with its own clear conditions that can be known, stated, and fulfilled, with a certainty of results following. It is not the frills of scientific illustration that the interpreter of the spiritual life needs today, but the genuine scientific spirit in the study of his own greatest sphere.

…And none of us may forget without distinct and large loss that the spiritual life, like all life, is a growth, always involving laws, conditions, and time. To forget or ignore this, is to make it certain that the spiritual life will become unreal to us. That is simply to say that we are bound to take account of the common psychological conditions of our life, already considered, and particularly to note the special laws of the spiritual life itself, to be considered later. These laws, in a word, are the laws of a deepening personal relation, which every day’s true living makes better known.

But if we are not to make the mistake of thinking of the spiritual life as a life of magical inheritance, but rather as clearly involving laws and conditions, neither are we to make the opposite mistake of conceiving the spiritual life as a life of rules laid on from without.

Counsels to be heeded, there certainly are in the religious life, and valuable habits to be formed. Nevertheless, the heart of the life with God can never be contained in any prescribed routine of rules and regulations. We are called to a real life, with its own spontaneous growth and varied expressions, and we are called to liberty. Christ seems to have been concerned, not to give rules for holy living or for holy dying, but to trust all to the dynamic of the single motive of love to his person. His disciples are simply asked to be in truth disciples, doing only what loving loyalty to him would suggest. In the liberty of a loyal love, freely won and freely given, they are to live out their lives. No rules have any binding authority which this love does not inspire; and they have even secondary authority only so long as they are valuable means for that love.

The very essence of the spiritual life is a personal relation with God. No more than any other personal relation can this be wisely made a mere matter of rules. And just as any other personal relation, this relation to God in the religious life will lose its spontaneity, its joy, its growth, and its reality, when external rules are made to determine all. Even in the development of a personal relation, there are clear laws, as we must later notice; but they are the laws of a spontaneously developing life, not external rules laid on from without.

The spiritual life always suffers, and loses in reality, from an extreme emphasis upon the mechanical rules of living, however good the rules in themselves may be. In what is perhaps his most important single address, “The Changed Life”, Drummond states incisively the failure of the method of external rules: “All these methods that have been named the self-sufficient method, the self-crucifixion method, the mimetic method, and the diary method, are perfectly human, perfectly natural, perfectly ignorant, and, as they stand, perfectly inadequate. Their harm is that they distract attention from the true working method and secure a fair result at the expense of the perfect one.” “The solution of the problem of sanctification is compressed into a sentence. Reflect the character of Christ and you will become like Christ.”

The Seeming Unreality of the Spiritual Life, The Nathaniel William Taylor Lectures, 1907

Nathaniel William Taylor quote 1

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s