March 2013, #1 Meditations on Grace Part 1Selected from
The Gift of Grace: Awakening to Its Presence
by Paul Brunton
Meditations on Grace, part 1
Grace may be defined as the Overself’s response to the personal self’s aspiration, sincerity, and faith, lifting up the person to a level beyond his ordinary one.
Grace is always being offered, in a general way, but we do not see the offer; we are blind and so pass it by. How can we reverse this condition and acquire sight? By preparing proper conditions. First, mark off a period of each day–a short period to begin with–for retreat from the ordinary out-going way of living. Give up this period to in-going, to meditation. Come out of the world for a few minutes. What Grace does is to draw one?s attention away from oneself, from the ego, to the Overself. It is grace which inspires our best moves, and which enables us to make them.
As the light of Grace begins to fall upon him, he becomes aware of the tendencies and propensities, the motives and desires which obstruct or oppose the awakening into awareness of the Overself.
When one has reviewed a problem from all its angles, and has done this not only with the keenest powers of the mind but also with the finest qualities of the heart, it should be turned over at the end to the Overself and dismissed. The technique of doing so is simple. It consists of being still. In the moment of letting the problem fall away, one triumphs over the ego. This is a form of meditation. In the earlier stage it is an acknowledgment of helplessness and weakness in handling the problem, of personal limitations, followed by a surrender of it (and of oneself) to the Overself in the last resort. One can do no more. Further thought would be futile. At this point Grace may enter and do what the ego cannot do. It may present guidance either then, or at some later date, in the form of a self-evident idea.
The awakening to spiritual need, although often productive of longing and sadness, is also often a sign of the preliminary working of Grace. The fact of Grace being an unpredictable descent from above does not mean that we are entirely helpless in the matter, that there is nothing we can do about it. We can at least prepare ourselves both to attract Grace and to respond aright when it does come. We can cleanse our hearts, train our minds, discipline our bodies, and foster altruistic service even now. And then every cry we send out to invoke grace will be supported and emphasized by these preparations. You may know that the work of Grace has begun when you feel an active drawing from within which wakes you from sleep and which recurs in the day, urging you to practice your devotions, your recollections, your prayers, or your meditations. It leads you from your surface consciousness to your inner being, a movement which slowly goes back in ever-deepening exploration and discovery of yourself.
If you could penetrate into the so-called unconscious levels of your mind, you might find, to your utter amazement, that your enemies, critics, or domestic thorns-in-the-flesh are the very answer to your prayer for Grace. They fully become so, however, only when you recognize them as such, when you perceive what duty or what self-discipline they give you the chance to practice.
When you feel the urge to weep for no apparent reason you should not resist, as it is a sign of the working of Grace upon you. The more you yield to this urge the more quickly will you progress. This is an important manifestation although its inner significance will not be understood by the materialistic world. When your aspiration rises to an overpowering intensity, it is a sign that Grace is not so far off.
When the grace descends, whether from some action or attitude of one’s self, or apparently without cause from outside one’s self, if it is authentic, it will seem for the brief while that it lasts as if one has touched eternity, as if life and consciousness are without beginning and without end. It is a state of absolute contentment, complete fulfillment.
When the ego’s total submission is rewarded by the Overself’s holy Grace, he is granted pardon for the blackest past and his sins are truly forgiven him. From The Gift of Grace: Awakening to Its Presence by Paul Brunton, collated and edited by Sam Cohen. Published for the Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation by Larson Publications, www.paulbrunton.org.
To read more on the topic of grace in The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, go to http://paulbrunton.org/notebooks/18/5.
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The Gift of Grace: Awakening to Its Presence
by Paul Brunton
Meditations on Grace, part 2
Out of the grand mystery of the Overself, the first communication we receive telling us of and making us feel its existence, is Grace.
Grace is here for all. It cannot be here for one special person and not for another. Only we do not know how to open our tensioned hands and receive it, how to open our ego-tight hearts and let it gently enter.
Judge a work of art by analysing its effect. Does it leave you feeling better or worse, inspired or disturbed, calmed or restless, perceptive or dulled? For every opportunity to behold great paintings or listen to inspired music or read deeply discerning literature is itself a kind of Grace granted to us.
When the inspired sentence is read, the sensitive mind comprehends that it is no longer merely reading words. It is also receiving the grace of the Presence.
Such is the wonder of grace that the worst sinner who falls to the lowest depths may thereafter rise to the loftiest heights. Jesus, Buddha, and Krishna have plainly said so.
The fact of Grace being an unpredictable descent from above does not mean that we are entirely helpless in the matter, that there is nothing we can do about it. We can at least prepare ourselves both to attract Grace and to respond aright when it does come. We can cleanse our hearts, train our minds, discipline our bodies, and foster altruistic service even now. And then every cry we send out to invoke grace will be supported and emphasized by these preparations.
The attitude of expectancy and hope in the matter of seeking illumination is a correct one. But the hour when this Grace will be bestowed is unpredictable; therefore, hope must be balanced with patience, and expectancy with perseverance. Meanwhile, there is all the work one can handle in attending to the improvement of character and understanding, the cultivation of intuition and practice of meditation, the prayers for Grace, and in self-humbling beneath the Will of the Overself.