Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fiat Voluntas Tua- J.G. Bennett

From Witness

At this time, the constant repetition of the Lord's Prayer, which I had been practising for seven years, had an unforeseen effect, inasmuch as it completely removed the fear of death. We were often close to death and yet, so long as I repeated the Lord's Prayer, I had the conviction of immunity from danger. It was not so much that I felt that death did not matter as that I was not destined to die in that way and at that time.

At this time, I began to be deeply concerned with the problem of self-will. I saw that I was self-willed. I did not wish to be self-willed, and yet there was nothing I could do about it. The unceasing repetition of the Lord's Prayer, which I had practised for nine years, was a constant reminder. Fiat Voluntas Tua I said hundreds of times a day; but when I stopped to ask myself whether I could mean and intend that God's Will should be done in all things, I saw that there were always reservations. 

"Yes, I said to myself: "I wish God's Will to be done, only I wish, in this, that or the other situation, His Will to agree with mine." I could go a long way towards saying "Thy Will be done," but never unconditionally. This seemed to be quite useless. "With God, one cannot bargain," I said to myself; but the bargaining was unabated. 

So strongly did this impress itself upon me that I could not keep it to myself. At one of my public meetings, a man stood up and asked me the question: "What part does prayer play in your teaching?" I answered: "Prayer is a very great thing, but you must understand where it begins. The first prayer, on which all other prayer is built, is expressed in the words 'Thy Will be done'. If I cannot say these words with the whole of my being, what right have I to pray in any other way? So long as I am at war with myself, and one part of me says 'Thy Will be done' and another part says 'Let my own will be done', what can be the sense of my prayer? It is better to put prayer aside until you know yourself and your own contradictions. At present, the only prayer appropriate to our condition is that we may be made able to see ourselves as we really are."............

As I walked down the woodland path, I said to myself: "Now is the moment to sacrifice all this self-love and self-pity." I said aloud the words Fiat Voluntas Tua, and for the first time in my life I was conscious of speaking them with no reservation of any kind. With the incredible speed of conscious vision that leaves thought limping lamely far behind, I saw the future: not one future, but all possible futures. I saw myself losing my job. I saw myself triumphantly successful. I saw Ouspensky repudiating me, and all his pupils shunning me in the streets. I saw myself followed by people who loved and trusted me. All this and much more was present to me in the merest moment of time. And I accepted it all. Whichever the future God might send, I was ready to follow it without question.

In the same moment that I made the decision, I was flooded through and through with love. I said aloud: "Jesus!" Jesus was everywhere. Each new-born spring leaf on the willow trees was full of Jesus, and so were the great oak trees, still bare of green. The spiders' webs glistened under the morning dew. The eastern sky glowed with the coming sun. Jesus was everywhere, filling all with love. I knew that Jesus is God's love. I saw also that each separate part could contain so little of God's love just because it was so small. 

I said to myself: "Unless concentration can occur He is as if not there." As I spoke the words they were full of meaning, but now I have forgotten what they meant, except for one thing, that in order to live in the Love of God — that is, in union with Jesus — we must pray without ceasing. This practice which for many years I had followed so conscientiously had been as nothing, because without love, prayer is empty. I returned to the house and made tea. I took it to my wife and woke her, and told her what I had seen. She rejoiced with me. She said that she had known that Jesus was the same as God's Love when she had been as dead, and had never quite lost her vision.

I remained for three days in the state of ecstasy produced by this experience. It was unlike anything I had known before, because it came not by deploying my own strength in a supreme effort, but from the simple act of surrendering my own self-will. While the state was on me, I could not act against the manifest Will of God. 

For example, the day following I received in my morning post a letter that was both unjust and dangerous. I could have dealt with it sharply, demonstrating that my correspondent had wilfully distorted the facts. I was about to write a personal letter to someone who would have put the matter right. As I took up my pen to write, a voice within me said: "That pen contains Jesus. How can you misuse it?" Peace came over me and I saw that I should not try to defend myself. If I had not written down my experiences during those days, I should not now trust my memory. For a short time, I was able to see and even to enter that realm in which Divine Love is a reality. But when I could no longer see, I returned to myself, and many years were to pass before I again became directly aware of that reality.

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