Back in February I started planting hot peppers from seed.  I believe I started with 17 varieties of vegetables, most of them peppers.  We have been harvesting the peppers since July and have found that everyone in the house can handle a different level of Capsaicin with each variety having a different scoville rating.  Our peppers range from none to over a million with the Jalapeno at 5 to 10 K being the most generally known hot pepper and the Carolina Reaper at 1.5 Million being the hottest.  Some in the house can't be in the same room with the peppers.  Others can eat the hottest but it's disabling.  Everyone needs to religiously wash their hands with soap and water after touching even the Jalapenos, never mind the Haberneros, Ghost and Carolina Reapers before proceeding with life's tasks or face a discomfort that while not akin to the wrath of God in duration can come close to it for several earthly minutes.  Thus " pepper spray" as a defense weapon.  If you are concerned about safety I think this might be a great idea if legal in your area.

Now to the point.  Just as peppers have different ratings from zero to over a millions units on the scoville scale, so too the presence of the divine can be felt to different degrees.  And just as some folks can gradually increase their ability to taste and even enjoy hotter peppers over time, so too can we gradually increase our ability to experience the PRESENCE not only in greater intensity but in more normal everyday circumstances outside of Meeting for Worship.  If you don't understand what I am talking about I suggest you pick up and read the classic "Practicing the Presence of God".  If you do understand please offer your suggestions on how to invite more and more of the "PRESENCE" into your life and your struggles, if any, with being so heavenly minded as to be earthly useless.  After reading about Brother Lawrence go on to any of the books about the quietists including "A Guide to True Peace".

This is not to mention those times when we unknowingly eat a dish spiced with a hot pepper beyond our expectations or experience and our attention is riveted to what is taking place within us.  So too occasions arrive in our life when we are unexpectedly overpowered by the PRESENCE and our attention is riveted to what is taking place within us on an altogether different level.  I am talking about Paul being knocked to the ground and naturally blinded;  the transfiguration; Peter's vision of and invitation to eat the unclean animals; visitations from angels who open prison doors; or arrival of a chariot to carry us away to wherever our destiny lies.  These are life changing and monumental occasions but for many are too infrequent or never experienced at all, to which I repeat what the resurrected Jesus said to Thomas - Blessed are they who have not seen yet believe.

Fortunately such spectacular visitations of the PRESENCE are not necessarily the moments of peace that the Angels sang of at the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.   Those moments are around us always just as the Kingdom of God is amongst us in the PRESENCE.

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"please offer your suggestions on how to invite more and more of the "PRESENCE" into your life and your struggles, if any, with being so heavenly minded as to be earthly useless."

Your question implies living in Presence in all circumstances and the activity of daily life are almost mutually exclusive. Do I understand you correctly? As if walking in the Presence is impossible unless you stop walking?

I"ll start by saying the things of daily life are the stuff of Presence. Daily life nurtures Presence within and Presence is the miracle of daily life transformed; witnessing to Life eternal. Retiring from daily life to experience Presence is artificial and lacks sustainability. If you would know the Life give all things in your daily existence over to it and let it rule. Living the Life in all things is a life full of use and meaning.

You don't understand me correctly.  Brother Lawrence is the normal example given of someone living in the presence and performing normal everyday activities.

Okay. He's not my "normal example." So?



Keith Saylor said:

Okay. He's not my "normal example." So?
So check him out.  He is said to have lived in the PRESENCE 24/7 while being the kitchen help in his monastery.  Bishops came to him for confession because of his reputation for holiness.

I have. 

My point was to suggest that Presence itself is the example. In Presence an individual does not need to reflect upon Presence through the outward words of another. To draw from your pepper anaolgue; to experience pepper heat ... eat the pepper. Once you've experienced it, you no longer need  another's reflections upon pepper heat to know pepper heat. I know Presence in my life daily. Presence itself is my example. Inward Presence is my guide; not the outward words of another.

Though I know Presence in my life daily, I do not know it continuously. I have found that Psalm 119 expresses my heart's condition of longing for continuity of Life. The psalm helps in re-affirming understanding that I intuitively have enacted out of a love of Truth, such as remaining faithful in spite of adversity (verses 61, 69,78, 87,95, 110, 157, 161). To do so strikes me as a basic tenet of spiritual growth. The temptation to "go over to the dark side" when faced with its power seems to me to be the biggest stumbling-block for us humans. One other insight that I've gained from this psalm comes from its length: this endeavor requires endurance. I think that our personal inclination to need and love Truth takes each of us only just so far  - some farther than others according to character. But then we have to work out the remainder: "he who endures to end, the same shall be saved" (Mk. 13:13b). The psalmist strikes me as voicing that condition of knowing the Presence but feeling the absence.

My personal experience of the practice of Presence is absence is the result of my decision to abstain from the Light. Otherwise, the Life is ever Presence. For example, when my daughter died. I consciously pushed Presence aside. The thing was and always is, even in the act of pushing away ... deep down into the very act of rejecting the Light ... It is ever Present ... as a foreshadowing the essential embrace.



Keith Saylor said:

I have. 

My point was to suggest that Presence itself is the example. In Presence an individual does not need to reflect upon Presence through the outward words of another. To draw from your pepper anaolgue; to experience pepper heat ... eat the pepper. Once you've experienced it, you no longer need  another's reflections upon pepper heat to know pepper heat. I know Presence in my life daily. Presence itself is my example. Inward Presence is my guide; not the outward words of another.

And so it should be

 "...absence is the result of my decision to abstain from the Light."

I think that this is true for everyone. Even though it feels as though we're seeking and longing for God, at some deep level we choose something else and refuse to see our faithless choice. That is the condemnation referred to in John 3: preferring darkness to light.  While feeling the Presence, I've sometimes seen myself through negligence let it slip from my awareness, and then collecting myself again, recall it. I can foresee a more constant state of awareness that would not take such determined concentration. 

I, too, had a daughter who died. During that time when all hope was disappearing, I felt the Presence come with no preparation on my part, and stay. Life may all the time be beyond bearing alone and without God, but usually we can avoid acknowledging that - to our detriment.         

Amen, Patricia. Bless You

I guess what I am trying to say is that if you have never sensed the presence of the Divine it can't serve as an example.  It's something you have to pursue by faith.  It's like someone telling me about the heat from a pepper so I buy a bell pepper and put it in my salad but feel no heat so I go buy another sweet pepper with a similar result.  Finally I ask someone to give me one of his peppers so I can share his experience.  Or I could know nothing about the heat from a hot pepper and eat one by chance and feel the heat but don't understand anything about it.  I drink water thinking that will cut back on the presence but that doesn't work.  It helps to know what we are dealing with in the natural as well as the spiritual world.  You and Patricia sharing about being able to turn off the presence either by choice or carelessness is exactly on point.  When I was being raised a Catholic I was told of "occasions of sin" which would lead to sin itself and separate me from God - in this case "His Presence".  Once you have tasted the Presence you know when it has increased or decreased.  But first you have to recognize it and how it operates in your life.
 
Keith Saylor said:

I have. 

My point was to suggest that Presence itself is the example. In Presence an individual does not need to reflect upon Presence through the outward words of another. To draw from your pepper anaolgue; to experience pepper heat ... eat the pepper. Once you've experienced it, you no longer need  another's reflections upon pepper heat to know pepper heat. I know Presence in my life daily. Presence itself is my example. Inward Presence is my guide; not the outward words of another.

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