On Asking Questions

Brian Cleeve 2001

 

I’m sorry to burden your patience with yet another letter, after so many recently, but She tells me to write this and so I must. Perhaps it will be the last.

The centre and essence of the Path of Obedience is the asking of questions. A servant must ask her mistress what she must do that day, and how her mistress would like it done. We are in that position. What are we to do? How are we to do it? I am using the word “do” in its interior sense of course. There is not much She asks us to do in a physical, material way. All or almost all our concerns are interior, to alter and improve our being, and to use that improvement in Her service by being an influence for good. To become a light in the darkness of the evil that surrounds us.

This is a very wonderful ambition and if we have any sense of our worthlessness it must seem impossible to achieve it. But we must make the attempt and the only means we have is to ask questions of Her and receive Her answers. There are two primary questions and they can be thought of as the two sides of the same question. What must I do to be saved? And how can I serve God? In serving God we do save ourselves. And also come to realise that our own salvation should not be important to us. What is all-important is the service.

Then come the answers, and with them inevitably new questions. The first answer to the question “What must I do to be saved?” is “Strive to become selfless.” But how can we do this? For a beginning, by getting rid of our selfish desires. For whatever it is we desire that is not a desire to serve God.

But the very effort to do this makes us self-centered, self-concerned. What progress am I making? What are my successes? My failures? Have I found that “Judas Kiss” we are told each of us has and each of us must discover and lay before God in an agony of remorse?

In all this self-examination how can we be anything other than self-centered? Have I found my Judas Kiss? Have I felt the agony of remorse I need to feel? Has God forgiven me? How can I accept Her forgiveness, still hope to become Her servant?

It seems impossible – the more we strive to become selfless the more self-centered we need to become! We live in a state of wretchedness, of self-pity, self-condemnation.

The solution has to begin with a new question. Not “Have I succeeded?” but is God now satisfied that our self-examination and remorse have gone far enough?

Once She answers “Yes” to that question, all self-concern must come to an end. We are still ten million miles from being selfless, but we need no longer think of ourselves. Now and then, if there is any danger of feeling complacent, that we are doing well in Her service, we will need to remember our faults and that hideous “Judas Kiss”, but this must be a matter of a moment, a brief instant of pain and horror. Then, complacency overcome and destroyed, we can concentrate again on serving Her, on that second question, “How may I serve You?”

The answer, already given above, to be a light in the darkness, is all very well, but how can we become lights, lit candles? This requires an endless series of questions. How should we behave, think, speak in every situation we encounter? Which is the right choice? How can we possibly achieve that without seeming to put ourselves forward as an example?

Are we ever to offer correction when we see wrong being done? If She tells us to do so, how are we to do it? We are told that we need to develop “moral authority”. How are we to develop ? Exercise it? What exactly does it mean? Are we ever to believe we possess it? Ever think about it, wonder whether we do have it? The answers to those last questions is surely “No”?

Another subject for endless questions is that darkness of evil in which we hope to serve as a source of light. What is evil? How does it reveal itself in our surroundings? Who are its servants? What are their motives, intentions? Are people you know serving evil? If they are, why? Are they possessed, imprisoned by evil jailers? Or are they themselves jailers?

Are any of them thinking of repentance? If you are told they are, what should, could , you do to help them reach the right decisions? Are you ever to approach people unasked? To act as a missionary? Or must you always wait to be approached? Asked for advice?

How much of your beliefs may you reveal to anyone else? How necessary is it for you to know other people who do already share them? To seek companionship with one or another of them? If so, in what way? Should you seek to attach your life to someone else on the Path who seems a few steps further along it than you are? If so what should you ask for and hope and expect from them? Should you ever act as a teacher to someone less advanced on the Path than you are?

And when you ask Her any and all of these questions – as we should ask them, at every moment of the day as they occur to us – you need to ask also “have I understood your answers?” “Are there more questions to ask on this subject?” If not, is there some other subject on which She wishes you to ask questions at that moment.

As well as all the questions you need to ask about evil and how to counter it and deal with it, defend your mind against it and its temptations; how to rescue others from it if they ask you to help them; how to inspire them with new strength and courage; as well as all those questions, we must also ask about what is good.

What is good in this world? Whether so and so who seems good really is good? And in what way? Can their goodness be strengthened, turned towards obedience, without your acting as a missionary? If not for that person, then could and should you for this one? If you have family member, how much if anything should you tell them about your inner life and beliefs?

And after questioning Her about the goodness as well as the evil of this world, what do you need to know and understand about the good and evil of the next world? Of Hell and Heaven? And of God? You have read very slight and limited accounts of them written by someone else. But what questions have you asked about them? Have you been satisfied to say “Ah yes! How interesting!” Or have you been stimulated to delve deeper, ask your own more penetrating questions?

Turning back to this world, there are a myriad questions to ask about it. About present events, their significance. How do they affect God’s paln for the recovery of Creation? What do they reveal about the plans of evil? Who are the chief servants of evil in this world, and how do they exercise control or strive to gain control over the future?

What influences for good exist? Should you seek in any way to lend you’re your material support to people or organisations that appear devoted to a good purpose? Should you work in your free time for a charity? A political party that seems to have good intentions?

Should you form an opinion about all you observe? Analyse it? For example, a book you have read, a film you have seen, a TV programme or a radio documentary; the news and how it is presented. Music you hear. Advertisements you notice. Should you ask questions about all these things, to discover whether they serve good or evil? Is it possible for anything to serve neither, simply to be neutral? The immediate answer there is No. There cannot be neutrality between good and evil. The slightest event, the most trivial amusement, serves one or the other to some degree.

Should we seek and to what degree? If we are not asking such questions and all the other kinds described above, together with many more, we are being idle servants and can never make progress in Her service. Ask, and and ask and ask, all the hours of the day and night. And for the rest of your life.

There is an objection some people make, that they don’t “hear” and if they don’t hear answers what is the purpose of asking questions? They could of course ask someone else who does hear, but that can only be of limited help. But if one doesn’t hear in one’s mind, in silent words, one can be aware of Her answers.

You might say, how could one trust something so indefinite as “awareness”? But equally, how could one trust words in one’s mind, unless one had become convinced of their source?

Finally there is the possibility of a physical answer, a movement of one’s hand that signifies Yes or No according to the movement or lack of it, and opening of your fingers or closing, a lifting of the hand or a downward pressure. And there can be a sensation in one’s body, in one’s ear perhaps, a tingling that calls your attention to Her.

You may think Yes or No answers would be insufficient. Not if you learn to frame your questions correctly so that all that is needed is a Yes or a No.