Now on Bring4th.org
In the Now Episode #22
L/L Research Podcast In the Now
Copyright © 2016 L/L Research
Gary: Hi, everyone, this is Gary Bean welcoming you to the L/L Research Podcast, In the Now, Episode #22. L/L Research is a nonprofit organization dedicated to freely sharing spiritually-oriented information and fostering community and towards this end has two websites: the archive website, LLResearch.org and the community website, Bring4th.org.
During each episode, those of us at L/L Research form a panel to consider questions from spiritual seekers. Our panel consists of Jim McCarty, husband to the late Carla Rueckert, scribe for the Ra contact and president of L/L Research, along with Austin Bridges and myself, who are working hard to keep the mission of L/L Research alive and well; each of us a devoted seeker and student of the Law of One.
We intend this podcast to be a platform of discussion as we consider questions from spiritual seekers that often challenge us to articulate our own perspective. Our replies to these questions are not final and authoritative; instead they are generally subjective interpretations stemming from our own studies and life experiences. We always ask each who listens to exercise their own discernment and listen for their own resonance in determining what is true for them.
If you would like to submit a question for this show, please do so; our humble podcast relies on your questions. You may either send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.LLResearch.org/podcast for further instructions.
Again, I am Gary, and we are embarking on a new episode of L/L Research's weekly podcast, In the Now. Jim and Austin, are you on board and ready to go?
Jim: Both of those things.
Austin: Let's do it.
Gary: All right then. If you've listened to this program before, actually when it was In the Now — Q&A with Carla and Crew, we had a faithful listener and questioner named JP, who would contact; he would call in occasionally from out in Utah. We haven't heard from JP in a while, but we have gotten some new questions for him, and he says, "Blessings to all my fellow seekers of the light from JP, still from Utah and doing so very well." It's great to hear you're still with us, JP, and doing good.
So, JP has four different questions, all of them tied into grace, the concept of, in some manner or fashion, and we will take those questions one at a time, beginning with the first. He writes, "Have many not tried to define ‘grace’? Could it be as simple as anything that opens our hearts, minds, bodies, and emotions to the capacity of change, to our perceptions about life and being?" So, how about if we do a line-up of Jim, Austin and then me tackling this question?
Jim: Well, I looked up “grace” and one of the general definitions was [that] it's love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not because of anything we've done to earn it. And I think that has a lot of meat to it. I think that grace is something that comes to us, probably not so much because we seek it, but because there is a benevolent force in the universe that some call God or the Creator or Infinite Intelligence or whatever that has a very kindly look upon us, and every now and then, for reasons which we may not understand at all, tends to bless us with grace, this feeling that all is well, that we've got a way of making our way through our lives, and that all has been well and all will be well.
So, I think that that has a real ring of truth to me. I felt sometimes in my life where there've been, I guess you could almost say, it feels like the stars lining up, that a difficult situation that I thought was going to be a difficult situation turns out to be something that went very smoothly, and that I figured somebody somewhere had to give me a hand, because by myself I couldn't have made it turn out that way.
So, Austin, what do you think?
Austin: Well, I'm not the best person to talk about grace, I don't think, because it's never been a big part of my personal spiritual journey. I've never worked with the concept or the definition of it. I'm sure I have in other ways and talked about it in other ways, but using the word "grace" isn't really something that I've done in my spiritual journey, but I will do my best.
I'll start with quote from Q'uo, who on December 17, 1995, actually talked about the idea of defining “grace,” and they said, "We find often when presented with a topic that much of the energy connected with this topic is baffled or biased because of the words of your language are imprecise. One person means one thing by such a word as ‘grace.’ Another person has another related but somewhat different idea. And consequently there is some difficulty in speaking to the heart of this concept."
So, with that in mind, I'll go on to take one of the biggest uses of the word “grace” in our culture and that is from the song "Amazing Grace." Two lines from that song from the second verse that really struck me were the beginning of the verse that says, " ’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved."
I don't know what the author of this song really intended to mean with these lyrics, but despite any kind of interpretations or meanings, I think that the spiritual themes can be consistent, and so I'll use it to jump off on my own interpretation and thoughts on grace.
In these two lines grace seems to be part of a process or maybe like a backdrop of process. The author says grace first introduced fear and then relieved those fears. It seems strange to say that grace teaches your heart to fear or introduces fear, but perhaps this fear could represent any kind of initial part of transformation or evolution or realization. I think that there is a bit of fear in the initial stages of change. Especially when we aren't familiar with the process of catalyst and evolution, having our eyes opened in a way that causes us to evolve can be a pretty scary thing. When we constantly enter new territory or learn new truths and figure out that there are parts of us or attachments or ideas that we may need to let go of, it can be a pretty scary thing. But then he says, "Grace my fears relieved." And how is it the same thing that causes the fear then relieves the fear? To me, that is a sort of recognition of the whole process itself, that some of the same factors are at play when we approach transformation and catalyst, and then we accept and we grow from that transformation. It's a recognition of a consistent power or backdrop at play throughout the whole process.
Perhaps to the writer of this song, this was a very specific sort of Christian God that was introducing this grace and this fear, but I think that it can be seen as a more general spirit or Creator or just general transformational process of spirit, and I would say that I experience similar themes in my own life during periods of transformation. It's scary at first, but then relaxing into the faith that this is a process of evolution which brings me closer to my true self, I'm able to recognize that the same thing which causes the catalyst is the thing that I need to reach a deeper state of peace.
And just to give a little bit more from that Q'uo session about grace to wrap up the first part of my answer here, Q'uo goes on to define “grace” in their own words. They say, "We see grace as a state of mind, a state of mind that is natural to the self-conscious entity who is in balance, whose energies are moving freely and in a balanced manner. This state is a kind of level which is natural to each entity. For each entity, then, grace is a vibratory level which reflects a lack of movement in attitude away from that state of nature with which the entity is blessed. On a computer then, grace would become the default setting for being in good form. Now, the mind of the self-conscious entity tends to cause this state of mind to become unavailable because the mind has the tendency to leave its natural balance because it is not aware of the natural state and instead is seeking something which is outside of and not controlled by the self. To sound the archetypal roots of grace we could say that the state of grace can equal that Garden of Eden or that idyll state of nature into which humankind is naturally born."
And I don't know, it might be a stretch to say that Q'uo would agree with the idea of grace teaching the heart to fear, but what I see is a more consistent theme in that grace is somewhat of a backdrop or a natural state. And we're never truly separated from that natural state, but the illusion of separation is what might cause that fear, and it is still arising from that natural state of grace, but it's still — lost my train of thought — it's arising from that natural state of grace, as we somehow realize that we lost this identification from this grace, we can turn back to it, back to our natural state, and then that is also the state of grace bringing peace.
That's getting into the next part of the question, so we'll go on to Gary. How do you feel about that?
Gary: My own reply was beginning with this notion of natural state as well, so per the usual, my own response overlaps a lot with yours and Jim's. And to begin that response, I do see grace as a natural state where there is no lack. There is an ease, and especially for someone newly entering grace, there is a sense of a burden being lifted and not through your own efforts per se, but by something beyond or something within or something greater than. There is a redemption and a recognition that you were always with the Creator or that the Creator is always with you, and you are given what you need. You are where you need to be. You are aligned; you're not estranged.
As humans, though, we seem to be necessarily and inescapably flawed, imbalanced, imperfect and distorted, but in our actual natures we are completely whole, wholly complete and perfect. What is the bridge between those two seemingly mutually contradictory state[s] of affairs? How do we move from our apparently distorted natures to our completely perfect natures? Or as religious thinkers have commonly put it, how do such wretched creatures as we experience something so pure and sinless? And grace is one way to describe that bridge or that means.
This is also contained in the basic dictionary definition of “grace” which is the ground Jim was covering in his reply. Two short definitions, this one is prefaced in Christian belief, parenthetically: “the free and unmerited favor of God as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.” Another definition: “unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification.”
These are two central aspects of at least the historic meaning of grace: free and unmerited. The experience of grace doesn't feel that it was earned, per se, or purchased or deserved, but nevertheless the gift was given. The recipient of grace is in a regenerated state thanks to the grace.
But in the Law of One philosophy, effort and discipline and personal use of will are necessary and important, so how do will and grace relate? They're concepts that are actually closely related in so far as I understand, much in the same way that will and surrender are related.
To dive into that, Aldous Huxley called grace "the other half of effort." It's a definition that has always stuck with me: “the other half of effort.” There is the space for aiming and focusing the will and disciplining the personality, but all that self-effort ends in release and surrender: surrender of the grasping, surrender of the avoiding, surrender of the resistance to what is. And in that surrender, grace is an outgrowth of your contact with the present moment. The deeper your contact with the present moment, the more available and present the grace. The greater your release of the mental modes of past and future, fear and attachment, as Q'uo would say, the greater your contact with the eternal present moment, the greater the room for grace to flow through.
That concludes my response to the first of JP's four questions. You guys have any other thoughts on the first one?
Jim: Nope, got that one.
Gary: All right. Number two from JP is, "If you look very deep into the pores and cracks, is grace hiding beneath or rather behind the mask of catalyst?"
I've got a short one; I'll go first. Yes, indeed, very insightful way to put it, JP. I couldn’t agree more. [In] the very final Q&A of the Ra contact, 106.23, Ra says, "We suggest the nature of all manifestation to be illusory and functional only insofar as the entity turns from shape and shadow to the One.” So, my takeaway from that is that all experience, every moment of every day has a function. That function is to eventually turn the entity's identification with the world of form to identification with the formless, the One that is no form and simultaneously all form. Thus, it could be said that grace is hidden in every moment, hidden only by our perception of the world as solid and separate, opaque and other than self.
Austin, what do you think?
Austin: Well, I would go on to read some more from Q'uo's words from that same session, which basically agree with what you're saying there. Q'uo goes on to say, "Most entities see grace as that which occurs episodically: now here, now there, then again elsewhere. In actuality, these times when grace seems to come near and touch the entity are those times when the individual has been able involuntarily or consciously to allow the self to be completely natural, to rest in the center of being and to allow the natural flow of energy. It is as though the self were a receiver that only intermittently worked. In simplistic terms, then, the way towards maximizing the experience of grace in the incarnative experience is to attempt to come to a feeling within of balance. We would encourage seekers to think upon and ponder the concept of self with regard to the nature of the basic attitude that is given as a natural gift by the Creator to each entity, for the maximizing of the experience of grace can be accomplished by increasing the allowing of the self to rest in the natural balance."
And I think that agrees a lot with what you were saying in that it is the true center of being and any turning away from that is an illusion. And I think that that is essentially what catalyst is to begin with: an experience of not recognizing that true center of balance. And that is what can then relieve that [which] might be perceived as suffering or unease in that turning back towards that center of balance, that natural state, and allowing that catalyst to then be more of an illusory process that is happening above the surface of that deeper true self.
That's most of what I have to say about that one. Jim, what do you think about that?
Jim: Well, I would agree that grace is somewhere back there behind catalyst because I think that everything we are perceiving through all of our five senses is catalyst, as Ra mentioned at one point. There's catalyst of the body, mind, and in the spirit. So, I think that as we talked about how grace can come upon us unawares, and surprisingly, that at any time we could be the recipients of this grace and feel blessed by it and hope to continue in it for as long as possible.
But in the more, I guess you'd say practical or mundane sense, looking at what Gary had to say about grace being the product of effort, I think that when we are able to process our catalyst, continuously and hopefully effectively over a long period of time in a lifetime, that it's more likely that grace would occur. It seems to actually be a kind of a product that comes from an effort, although that goes right against what the first definition of grace was, with no effort on the part of the human being to get it; it's just a gift of God.
But I think if we look at the nature of how we perceive our reality, looking at Joel Goldsmith and what he's got to say about how we see two powers in our world, we see good and evil basically. We see God and everything else that's not God. We see us, and we see God somewhere else. But if we can begin to look more at the nature of reality, I think it's what both of you were talking about: that we can see that there is only one power. There's only the Creator and everything that happens is a process by which the Creator is coming to know Itself through us in our individual exercise of free will and our processing of catalyst, and then we come to know the Creator as well through the same process of using our catalyst and seeking the Creator.
So, when we get to a certain point, I think that it becomes more apparent to us that this really is a universe of unity, and that grace is, as you have mentioned, a natural part of that unity. It is our inheritance; it's part of our character; it's part of our being, very much a part of being and not so much a part of doing because the doing is what would get rewarded, which — do I contradict myself therefore? Yes, so, I do. I think that's part of it though.
The contradictions and the paradoxes are really a sign of a spiritual journey. Carla always used to say that. And so I think that in a creation of unity in which we do exist, that grace is part of our being. And it's something that we, if we don't feel it right now, something we can and should look forward to feeling, especially if we have a great desire to discover the Creator, to see the Creator all around us. Use those exercises that Ra gave us. Look at the entities you meet in your daily life, see the Creator. Look at the creation around you, see the Creator. Look in the mirror, see the Creator. You know, the Creator is everywhere, and the Creator has grace as part of Its natural being, and we are the Creator. So, hmm, there we go. Grace there, too.
I'm done. (Laughing)
Austin: I think that the paradox and the seeming contradictions that we're finding in these definitions come from the heart of the fact that we're in an illusion. And grace being constant and always present, anytime that grace is apparently not present, is simply an illusion; that it's always there, it's never not there, but when it seems like it's not there, it's an illusion, and it's asking us to then attempt to find it again.
Jim: Sort of like love.
Austin: Yes, essentially.
Gary: It's like Ramana Maharshi says about enlightenment or truth or who you really are: it can't be earned. That'd be like saying earning your feet or gaining your feet, because you already have your feet. It's already there. So, likewise, with grace, if grace is already there, already our natural state of being, then how can we make what is already there be there? We can't enhance or diminish it per se because it's existing right now; it's with us right now, but we can trick ourselves that we're not in that state.
And the paradox, one aspect of the paradox comes in terms of the question, is it a product of our effort or not? Jim used that word "product," and I thought that was a great word. In one sense, everything that occurs to us is a product of our efforts, our intentions, our attitudes, our orientation. and so forth. But in another sense, “product” implies that something is the result of or the, yes, the result of a particular action taken, but how could grace be a result when it's already there? So, it is good food for the paradox mill. (Laughing)
JP's third question, also on the concept of grace, he asks, "Is it true or not that grace can be soft and beautiful or must it be quite harsh and fierce or maybe both depending on our karma?" Jim, what do you think?
Jim: Well, I've never associated grace with harsh or fierce, so I'd have to vote for grace being soft and beautiful. More than that, even though, I think it might be reassuring and inspiring and all-encompassing and satisfying, but I can't see anything harsh and fierce about it. How about you, Austin?
Austin: Yes, I would generally agree, in that when we're experiencing something harsh or fierce and we define it as harsh and fierce, then it seems like grace isn't there. You would never define that experience of harshness or fierceness as grace. But I do think that grace can be present in those situations.
This question made me think of one of my favorite passages from the Law of One, and that's in Session 95, question 24. Ra says, "The seeker which has purely chosen the service-to-others path shall certainly not have a variant apparent incarnational experience. There is no outward shelter in your illusion from the gusts, flurries and blizzards of quick and cruel catalyst. However, to the pure, all that is encountered speaks of the love and light of the One Infinite Creator. The cruelest blow is seen with an ambiance of challenges offered and opportunities to come. Thusly, the great pitch of light is held above such an one so that all interpretations may be seen to be protected by light."
And so, what JP is saying, like the quick and cruel catalyst — I think that if we are centered in grace. and if we have not left our true natural state of grace, then what might appear to be quick and cruel catalyst is not really defined as quick and cruel. It is defined more as opportunity and a challenge is offered to help us find a truer center. And so, I think that grace can be present in those situations if you are having — if you center your seeking to that natural state and view those catalysts as illusions that are still within that state, you just have to find it. It's still there, it's just not apparent. Gary?
Gary: I have a slight variance to my reply from you guys, but in essence I definitely agree with you. I would say in response to your question, JP, that perhaps — I'm not sure how it, how each person or, rather, how each person would subjectively experience grace in each case, but I know that the process of spiritual evolution and transformation is a process of breaking up of old patterns, releasing the small containers of identity, burning away the dross of separation, continual death and rebirth. This is often quite painful for the entity, especially he or she embarked upon the mystical path.
Thusly, grace may be perceived as harsh or fierce, though if that harshness and fierceness is being linked to grace, then the entity has already done a good deal of work. The entity has gained a perspective that understands that that which seems to be occurring to it, even if uncomfortable or agonizing, happens within a context where everything ultimately is working not against but for the self. This ties directly into the quote that Austin just read as well about how quick and cruel catalyst is seen in the light, in an ambiance of love and light, how the universe is seen to always be working for the self, even during the painful times.
That is my response to your third of four questions. Austin of Jim, you have anything more?
Jim: Nope, not I.
Austin: Let's keep rolling.
Gary: All right. Then, moving along to number four. JP says, "Did Ra ever talk about the idea of 'just let it be; stop trying to fix or change what is'?" Jim went first last time; how about you, Austin?
Austin: Well, I don't think that Ra necessarily talked about stopping the attempt to change or fix what is, but they definitely talked about the idea of accepting what is. This is the primary concept of the positive path, the path of acceptance. I don't think this means a lack of change, but I do think that it's important to approach change or an attempt to change from a standpoint of acceptance. Our attitude as we attempt to serve, when we attempt to act, informs and affects our actions and has metaphysical effects as well as physical effects. If we approach a situation which we feel needs to be changed from a standpoint of judgment or fear or anger or just anything that may be an attitude of non-acceptance, I think we risk creating further distortions, not just outside of ourselves, but within ourselves, too.
So, I don't think Ra talked about the stopping trying to fix or change what is, but instead asks us to look at our mentalities when we do try to change or fix what is, which may involve stopping the attempt for long enough to understand ourselves and see the situation in a clearer light of love, but I'm not sure about just stopping the attempt all together.
What do you think, Jim?
Jim: Well, the closest I could find that Ra said anything about not needing to make that attempt was in the very first session, that classic quote, "In truth there is no right or wrong. There is no polarity for all will be, as you would say, reconciled at some point in your dance through the mind/body/spirit complex which you amuse yourself by distorting in various ways at this time. This distortion is not in any case necessary. It is chosen by each of you as an alternative to understanding the complete unity of thought which binds all things."
So, that suggests that we don't really have to be doing this, but there is a reason for doing it, we discover as we go through more of the Law of One sessions, so we can give the Creator more ways of knowing Itself, and we can find ways of learning and growing and increasing our polarity and discovering the Creator. But it isn't really necessary; it's what we choose to do because we're adventurous souls.
How about you, Gary?
Gary: Ra's philosophy is permeated with will, whether the will of the one to know itself or the will of the incarnate self to chart and create its own evolutionary journey. In other words, there's a lot of talk and study of doing, but Ra's is a full philosophy and grounds all that doing in being. Ra talks about being-ness and one's being as a way of describing the existence that is as distinct from what one does or does not do, thinks or does not think, feels or does not feel, the existence of what is, being-ness. They do relate the concepts of being and doing in 76.4 when they say, "It is the being that informs the working, not the working that informs the being."
I think this is one reason why the Confederation so repeatedly suggests to meditate. A true meditation is the experience and study of being, the experience and study of silence. And through spending time in that silence, all outer activity is correspondingly informed, enlightened, oriented, and brought into true relationship with being.
So, does Ra ever, to go back to your question, "talk about the idea of ‘just let it be; stop trying to fix or change what is’?" I associate the word "surrender" with the question you are asking, and Ra doesn't specifically talk about surrender, but they do talk an awful lot about the direction that Austin was heading in: acceptance, which I see as being synonymous with surrender, perhaps not identical concepts — I'm not sure — but at least strong synonymity. Acceptance is another way to say that the entity releases resistance to what is, to, as you said, JP, “let it be.”
And finally, in my response, a similar question was asked of Q'uo on November 10, 2007. The first part of that question read, "Conspicuously absent in the philosophy of the Ra contact is any mention of the surrender of the conscious self to a guidance, intelligence, or will greater than its own," and the question goes on from there, and it was a great session that might shed some light on your great question as well.
That brings us to the conclusion of the four questions. Do you guys have any further thoughts to offer?
Jim: I think I'm all out of thoughts, totally blank. (Laughing)
Gary: Thanks, JP.
Jim: Meditative mind.
Austin: Yes, those are really great questions, and I don't know how much good we did for anybody, but I hope that our thoughts were of, at least somewhat, food for thought.
Gary: Ditto and thank you again, JP. Jim, any thoughts remaining in that empty mind for our listeners?
Jim: Let me shake my head around and see what I can find. Yes, we want to thank everybody for listening and JP especially, thank you for sending in those questions. We look forward to questions every day, every week; they are our meat. And we hope that everybody has a really happy Thanksgiving and know that we love you all very much. We look forward to talking to you again next week.
Austin: Are you there, Gary?
Gary: Yes, I always wait for you to hang up.
Austin: You didn't do your outro.
Gary: Oh, I didn't! (Laughing) Shit. I was ready to sign off. Umm, all right, one second.
Austin: I'm not cutting this out, by the way. (Laughing)
Gary: Don't throw me under the bus. All right. Our outro: You've been listening to L/L Research's weekly podcast, In the Now. If you've enjoyed the show please visit our websites, L/L Research.org and Bring4th.org. Thanks so much for listening and a special thank you to those who submitted questions. If you would like to send us a question before the next show, please read the instructions on our page at LLResearch.org/podcast. New episodes are published to the archive website every Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. We wish you a wonderful week and if you're in this country and celebrating Thanksgiving, we wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving as well. We'll talk with you next time.
Austin: Now we hang up.
Thanks to Mary A. for transcribing this episode, and Kristin Y. for editing!