Grace Opens the Door
… This is the paradox, that although a man must try to conquer himself if he would attain the Overself, he cannot succeed in this undertaking except by the Overself’s own power–that is, by Grace…
This is a work which calls for the interaction of two powers—man’s will and Overself’s grace. The will’s work is to engage in some measure of self-discipline, and yet to surrender itself entirely at the proper moment.
… Man’s initiative pushes on toward the goal, whilst divine Grace draws him to it. Both forces must combine if the process is to be completed and crowned with success. Yet that which originally made the goal attractive to him and inspired him with faith in it and thus gave rise to his efforts, was itself the Grace…
If outer events bring him to a position where he can bear them no longer and force him to cry out to the higher power in helplessness for relief, or if inner feelings bring humiliation and recognition of his dependence on that power, this crushing of the ego may open the door to grace.
This whittling away of the ego may occupy the entire lifetime and not seem very successful even then, yet it is of the highest value as a preparatory process for the full renunciation of the ego when–by Grace–it suddenly rises up in the heart.
… If it is true that Divine Grace alone can bring the quest to a successful terminus, it is likewise true that human effort must precede and thus invoke the descent of Grace. What is needed to call down Grace is, first, a humility that is utter and complete, deeply earnest and absolutely sincere, secondly, an offering of self to the Overself, a dedication of earthly being to spiritual essence, and, thirdly, a daily practice of devotional exercise…
If he wants the full Grace he must make the full surrender. He should ask for nothing else than to be taken up wholly into, and by, the Overself. To ask for occult powers of any kind, even the kind which are called spiritual healing powers, is to ask for something less than this.
His own power will bring him to a certain point but it will not be able to bring him farther along. When this is reached, he has no alternative than to surrender patiently, acquiescently, and wait. By such submission he shows his humility and takes one step in becoming worthy of grace.
In that last battle when he comes face to face with the ego, when it has to put off all its protective disguises and expose its vulnerability, he must call upon the help of Grace. He cannot possibly win it by his own powers.
When he has passed successfully through the last trial, overcome the last temptation, and made the last sacrifice of his ego, the reward will be near at hand. The Overself’s Grace will become plain, tangible, and wholly embracing.
When a man’s strivings mature, the insight dawns of itself. Yet he cannot tell which day this is to be, cannot precipitate the wondrous event by his own will. For this depends on grace.
… The Grace comes in time if it is wanted strongly enough, and then he steps out of the shadows into the sunshine and a benign assurance is born in the heart. Of course this can never be the result of metaphysical striving alone but only of a coordinated, integral effort of thought, feeling, and action…
A great humility comes into him when at long last he steps aside from his ego sufficiently to allow the perception that it is not in his own power to enter the ultimate Enlightenment. Grace is the arbiter.
… When he abandons further trust in his own nature and clings to no more personal hopes, he really lets go of the ego. This gives him the possibility of being open to grace.
When the Grace has led him sufficiently far, he will be distinctly aware of an inner presence. It will think for him, feel for him, and even act for him. This is the beginning of, and what it means to have, an egoless life.
If we search into the innermost part of our self, we come in the end to an utter void where nothing from the outside world can reflect itself, to a divine stillness where no image and no form can be active. This is the essence of our being. This is the true Spirit.
The first contact of the student with the Void will probably frighten him. The sense of being alone–a disembodied spirit–in an immense abyss of limitless space gives a kind of shock to him unless he comes well prepared by metaphysical understanding and well fortified by a resolve to reach the supreme reality. His terror is, however, unjustified…
When Grace takes the form of spiritual enlightenment, it may catch him unawares, enter his consciousness unexpectedly, and release him abruptly from the protracted tensions of the quest.
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.
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