Just Where Does God Fit In?
By Sri Harold Klemp
A wonderful gentleman, a member of Eckankar for over twenty-five years, wrote a letter of good spiritual insight to me around the Christmas holiday season.
First, he reflected upon Stranger by the River. This book, by Paul Twitchell, is a dialogue between a spiritual seeker and his Master in another time and another place. Twenty-five years ago, this gentleman had dismissed it as being simple and without depth. Yet the book deals with the issues of this world: love, wisdom, life and death, the nature of God and Soul, and others. Those issues are not simple.
Now he has come to a startling realization: he has changed dramatically in his own state of consciousness since then as a member of Eckankar. How did he come to know of the change?
About twenty-five years ago, he gave his first introductory talk on the teachings of ECK. The audience was sizable, about thirty-five people. Like any good convert, this gentleman spoke with conviction about a popular subject thenSoul Travel. He went on and on.
Near the end of his talk, a man at the back of the room raised his hand. "And just where does God fit into all of this?" he asked.
This question set the speaker back on his heels, because he realized he himself had missed the whole point of the ECK teachings. So how could he lecture others?
Soul Travel, dreams, past lives, the ancient science of prophecy, healing, and especially love are all part of the ECK teachings, of course. However, they do not stand alone. They must always be taken in the whole context of Soul's relationship to God. It is this relationship that gives meaning to life. It is the golden tie that binds.
So how did this gentleman learn about his own change of consciousness during the last twenty-five years?
During the most recent Christmas holiday season, he was walking through a shopping mall. The place was full of Christmas decorations. All around him, harried shoppers were flitting from store to store in an attempt to complete their last-minute shopping. Even the piped-in music was urgent. Shop till you drop.
Now he asked himself the same question the man in the back of the lecture room had asked him twenty-five years ago, And just where does God fit into all of this?
He reflected upon the chaos around him.
Christmas comes from two words: Christ (a state of consciousness) and mass (a worship service or celebration). Wasn't Christmas to be a time for Christians to give thanks to God and show gratitude for all the blessings they had received? Wasn't it a season to return a bit of God's love through offerings of charity and service, to reflect divine love in some way to those around them?
But the shopping mall was a commercial circus.
"What are you going to give me?" and "What am I to get for you?"
This gentleman observed the chaos around him. He had taken a table in the food court of the mall to have a cup of coffee. Half-joking, he asked a young man next to him, "I wonder what God would think of all this?"
"What has God to do with it?" replied the young man.
Our friend went home. In his own way, twenty-five years ago he himself had been like that young man. The teachings about Soul Travel, dreams, past lives, the ancient science of prophecy, healing, and especially love are all meaningless unless taken in the context of God's love for Soul. The same holds true for Christmas.
This gentleman reached for Stranger by the River and opened it at random. In "The Law of Life" (chapter 31), the ECK Master Rebazar Tarzs reminded him: "When you are full of opinions and speculations, God is withdrawn from thee."
In other words, live and let live.
A dear friend of ours could perhaps ask the question too: "And just where does God fit into all of this?"
He is a successful businessman. Yet lately, a severe drop in the value of his home forced him to sell it at a loss. At the same time a business venture failed. Like so many other successful people, the byways of his life show a lot of lossescertainly not the string of unbroken successes that other people finally view at the end of a long life of ups and downs.
So currently, our friend has had a few downs in a row. Such an experience is likely to get an individual looking only at past failures, instead of seeing all the areas where his life is blessed: health, a family, love for God and life (despite all recent reverses), and optimism in spite of it all.
His thoughts therefore took a trip down memory lane. Since current losses are so much a part of his life for now, he naturally found his mind searching out earlier losses.
One such experience was a heartbreaker. Especially for a youth.
As a young boy, he had a paper route. To boost subscriptions, the publisher held a contest for the paperboys. The boy who got the most new subscribers to the newspaper in a given period of time would win a trip to Hawaii with his parents.
Our young hero worked hard. So by closing time on the last day of the competition, he had won by turning in thirteen more "starts" than any of the other paperboys. He could just see himself in Hawaii. His proud parents would politely tell any and all who would listen, "Our son won this trip for us by selling newspapers!"
However, there was a small matter of backyard (barnyard?) politics that he hadn't counted on. His chief competitor's father likely had a friend in the publisher's office who passed along the end-of-day totals to him. After all, the expenditure of so much money for three tickets to Hawaii might as well be used to return a favor to a personal friend of someone at the newspaper. Why waste them on just any kid?
Whatever happened is not known.
Somehow, though, his competitor's father learned that our friend was ahead by thirteen starts. So, after hoursafter the close of the contestthe father bought twenty newspaper subscriptions for friends and relatives. Then he slipped them through the door of the publisher's office. At night. Someone there approved the illegal subscriptions, and our friend's competitor and his parents got the free trip to Hawaii.
To make matters worse, second prize was a one-speed bike. At a time when three-speed bikes were popular, no self-respecting boy wanted to be seen on a one-speed.
Ashes heaped upon dirt.
A good question for a young boy to ask, "I wonder what God would think of all this?"
Rebazar Tarzs, in Stranger by the River, might have answered Soul like this, as he once did the seeker: "Thy experience is nothing less than thy own choices and thoughts made visible" ("The Law of the Self," chapter 12).
Had the boy counted his chicks before they were hatched? Or had his competitor's dishonest father received some sort of tip and special considerations to pay off someone's debt to him?
In the end, does it matter?
Earth is a schoolroom. We're here to have every possible experience. That's how Soul finds spiritual purification and becomes godlike in the end. Why are you here? To make money and get rich? Maybe. There is certainly nothing wrong with money, but what's the use of having it while learning nothing about your spiritual purpose here on earth?
Once more, as Rebazar tells the seeker, "You, yourself, are your own problem. You must understand and act to solve the mystery of thy little self before you can solve the mystery of God."
Excerpted from the 1997 Eckankar Journal, copyright © 1996 ECKANKAR. All rights reserved.