Practising the Presence
Chapter 7

Love Thy Neighbour

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is the first and greatest commandment.

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Matthew 22:37-39)

The two great commandments of the Master form the basis of all our work. In the first and great commandment, we are taught that there is no power apart from God. Our realisation must always be that the Father within us, the Infinite Invisible, is our life, our Soul, our supply, our fortress, and our high tower. Next is the commandment to love thy neighbour as thyself, and its corollary that we should do unto others as we would have others do unto us.

What is love in the spiritual sense. What is the love which is God? As we remember how God was with Abraham, with Moses in the wilderness, with Jesus, John and Paul, ministering to them, the word "love" takes on a new meaning. We see that this love is not something far off, nor is it anything that can come to us. It is already a part of our being, already established within us; and more than that, it is universal and impersonal.

As this universal and impersonal love flows out from us, we begin to love our neighbour, because it is impossible to feel this love for God within us and not love our fellow man.

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that hateth his brother, whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen (1 John 4:20)

God and man are one, and there is no way to love God without some of that love flowing out to our neighbour.

Let us understand that anything of which we can become aware is a neighbour, whether it appears as a person, thing or place.

Every idea in consciousness is a neighbour. We can love that neighbour as we see him or it possessing no power except that which comes from God. When we see God as the cause, and our neighbour as that which is in and of God, then we are loving our neighbour, whether that neighbour appears as a friend, relative, enemy, animal, flower or stone.

In such loving, which understands all neighbours to be of God, derived of God substance, we find that every idea in consciousness takes its rightful place. Those neighbours who are a part of our experience find their way to us, and those who are not are removed or healed.

Let us resolve loving our neighbour into a spiritual activity, beholding love as the substance of all that is, no matter what the form may be. As we rise above out humanhood to a higher dimension of life in which we understand our neighbour to be pure spiritual being, God-governed, neither good nor bad, we are truly loving.

Love is the law of God. When we are in tune with divine love, loving whether it be friend or enemy, then love is a gentle thing bringing peace. But it is gentle only while we are in tune with it. It is like electricity. Electricity is very gentle and kind, giving light, warmth and energy, as long as the laws of electricity are obeyed. The minute they are violated or played with, electricity becomes a double-edged sword. The law of love is as inexorable as the law of electricity.

Now let us be very clear on one point. We cannot harm anybody, and nobody can harm us. No-one can injure us but we injure ourselves by a violation of the law of love. The penalty is always upon the one who is doing the evil, never upon the one to whom it is done. The injustice we do to another reacts upon ourselves. The theft from another robs ourselves.

The law of love makes it inevitable that the person who seems to have been harmed is in reality blessed. He has a greater opportunity to rise than ever before, and usually some greater benefit comes to him than he had ever dreamed possible, whereas the perpetrator of the evil deed is haunted by memories until that day comes when he can forgive himself.

The whole proof that this is true is in the one word, Self. God is our Selfhood. God is my Selfhood and God is your Selfhood. God constitutes my being, for God is my Life, my Soul, my Spirit, my Mind and my Activity. God is my Self. That Self is the only self there is – my Self and your Self. If I rob your Self, whom am I robbing? My Self. If I lie about your Self, about whom am I lying? My Self. If I cheat your Self, whom do I cheat? My Self. There is only one Self, and that which I do to another I do to myself.

The Master taught this lesson in the 25th chapter of Matthew, when he said,

Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

What I do of good for you, I am not doing for you at all, it is for my benefit. What I do of evil to you will not hurt you, for you will find a way to recover from it; the reaction will be on me. We must come to the place where we actually believe and can say with our whole heart:

There is only one Self. The injustice that I am doing to another I am doing to myself. The lack of thoughtfulness that I show to another, I am showing to myself.

In such recognition, the true meaning of doing unto others as we would have them do unto us is revealed.

God is individual being, which means that God is the only Self, and there is no way for any hurt or evil to enter to defile the infinite purity of the Soul of God, nor anything at which evil can strike, or to which it can attach itself. When the Master repeated the age-old wisdom:

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets,

he was giving us a principle. Unless we do unto others as we would have others do unto us, we injure, not the others, but ourselves. In this present state of human consciousness, it is true that the evil thoughts, dishonest acts, and thoughtless words we inflict upon others do harm them temporarily, but always in the end it will be found that the injury was not nearly so great to them as it was to ourselves.

In the days to come, when men recognise the great truth that God is the Selfhood of every individual, the evil aimed at us from another will never touch us, but will immediately rebound upon the one who sends it. In the degree that we recognise God as our individual being, we realise that no weapon that is formed against us can prosper because the only I is God.

There will be no fear of what men can do to us, since our Selfhood is God and cannot be harmed. As soon as the first realisation of this truth comes to us, we no longer concern ourselves with what our neighbour does to us.

Morning, noon, and night we must watch our thoughts, our words and our deeds, to make certain that we ourselves are not responsible for anything of a negative nature which would have undesirable repercussions.

This will not result in our being good because we fear evil consequences. The revelation of the one Self goes far deeper than that. It enables us to see that God is our Selfhood, and that anything of an erroneous or negative nature which emanates from any individual has power only in the degree that we ourselves give it power.

So it is that whatever of good or evil we do unto others we do unto the Christ of our own being.

Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren ye have done it unto me.

In that realisation we shall see that this is the truth about all men, and that the only road to a successful and satisfying life is to understand our neighbour to be our Self.

The Master has instructed us specifically in the ways in which we can serve our fellow-man. He emphasised the idea of service. His whole mission was the healing of the sick, the raising of the dead, and the feeding of the poor. The moment that we make ourselves avenues for the outflow of divine love, from that very moment we begin serving each other, expressing love, devotion and sharing, all in the name of the Father.

Let us follow the example of the Master and seek no glory for ourselves. With Him, always, it was the Father who doeth the works. There is never any room for self-justification or self-righteousness, or self-glorification in the performance of any kind of service.

Sharing with each other should not be reduced to mere philanthropy. Some people wonder why they have been left with nothing when they have always been so charitable. They come upon lean days because they believe they have given of their own possessions. Whereas the truth is that The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof.

If we express our love for our fellow man, realising that we are giving nothing of ourselves, but all is of the Father from whom every good and perfect gift comes, we shall then be able to give freely and discover that with all our giving, there yet remain twelve baskets left over. To believe that we are giving of our property, our time, or our strength, reduces such giving to philanthropy and brings with it no reward. The true giving comes when giving is a recognition that the earth is the Lord's, and that whether we give of our time or our effort, we are not giving of our own, but of the Lord's. Then we are expressing the love which is of God.

As we forgive, divine love is flowing out from us. As we pray for our enemies, we are loving divinely. Praying for our friends profiteth nothing. The greatest rewards of prayer come when we learn to set aside specific periods every day to pray for those who despitefully use us, to pray for those who persecute us, to pray for those who are our enemies – not only personal enemies, because there are some people who have no personal enemies, but religious, racial or national enemies.

We learn to pray, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. When we pray for our enemies, that their eyes may be opened to the truth, many times these enemies become our friends. We begin this practice with our personal relationships. If there are individuals with whom we are not on harmonious terms, we find, as we turn within and pray that brotherly love and harmony be established between us, that instead of enemies we come into a relationship of spiritual brotherhood with them. Our relationship with everybody then takes on a harmony and a heretofore unknown joy.

This is not possible as long as we feel antagonism for anyone. If we are harbouring within us personal animosity, or if we are indulging in national or religious hatred, prejudice or bigotry, our prayers are worthless.

We must go to God with clean hands in order to pray, and to approach God with clean hands we must relinquish our animosities. Within ourselves we must first of all pray the prayer of forgiveness for those who have offended us, since they know not what they do; and secondly, acknowledge within ourselves:

I stand in relationship to God as a son, and therefore I stand in relationship to every man as a brother.

When we have established that state of purity within ourselves, then we can ask the Father:

Give me grace. Give me understanding. Give me peace. Give me this day my daily bread – give me this day spiritual bread, spiritual understanding. Give me forgiveness, even for those harmless trespasses which I have unwittingly committed.

The person who turns within for light, for grace, for forgiveness and for understanding, never fails in his prayers.

The law of God is the law of Love, the law of loving our enemies – not fearing them, not hating them, but loving them. No matter what an individual does to us we are not to strike back. To resist evil, to retaliate, or to seek revenge is to acknowledge evil as reality. If we resist evil, if we refute it, if we avenge ourselves or if we strike back, we are not praying for those who despitefully use us and persecute us.

How can we say that we acknowledge good alone, God, as the only power, if we hate our neighbour or do evil to anyone? Christ is the true identity and to recognise an identity other than Christ is to withdraw ourselves from Christ-consciousness.

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you;

That ye may be the children of your father which is in Heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Matthew 5:44, 45

There is no other way to be the Christ, the Son of God. The Christ-mind has in it no criticism, no judgement, no condemnation, but beholds the Christ of God as the activity of individual being, as your Soul and mine.

Human eyes do not comprehend this, because as human beings we are good and bad, but spiritually we are the sons of God, and through spiritual consciousness we can discern the spiritual good in each other. There is no room in spiritual living for persecution, hatred, judgement, or condemnation of any person or group of people.

It is not only inconsistent, it is hypocritical to talk about Christ and our great love for God in one breath, and in the next breath speak disparagingly of a neighbour who is of a different race, creed, nationality, political affiliation or economic status.. One cannot be a child of God as long as he persecutes or hates anyone or anything, but only as he lives in a consciousness of no judgement or condemnation.

The usual interpretation of Judge not is that we are not to judge evil of anyone. We must go further than that. We dare not judge good of anyone either. We must be as careful not to call anyone good as we are not to call anyone evil. We should not label anyone or anything as evil, but likewise, we should not label anyone or anything as good.

The Master said,

Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, and that is God.

It is the height of egotism to say, I am good; I have understanding; I am moral; I am generous; I am benevolent. If any qualities of good are manifesting through us, let us not call ourselves good, but recognise these qualities as the activity of God. Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. All the good of the Father is expressed through me.

One of the basic principles of The Infinite Way is that good humanhood is not sufficient to insure our entry into the spiritual kingdom, nor to bring us into oneness with Cosmic Law.

It is undoubtedly better to be a good human being than a bad one; just as it is better to be a healthy human being than a sick one; but achieving health or achieving goodness, in and of itself, is not spiritual living.

Spiritual living comes only when we have risen above human good and above human evil and realise, There are not good human beings or bad human beings. Christ is the only identity. Then we look out on the world and see neither good men and women nor bad men and women, but recognise Christ alone as the reality of being.

Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;

Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

Matthew 5:23,24

If we are holding anyone in condemnation as a human being, good or bad, just or unjust, we have not made peace with our brother, and we are not ready for the prayer of communion with the Infinite. We rise above the righteousness of the Scribes and the Pharisees only when we stop seeing good and evil, and stop boasting about goodness as if any of us could be good. Goodness is a quality and activity of God alone, and because it is, it is universal.

Let us never accept a human being into our consciousness who needs healing, employing and or enriching, because if we do we are his enemy instead of his friend. If there is any man woman or child we believe to be sick, sinning or dying, let us do no praying until we have made peace with that brother. the peace we must make with that brother is to ask forgiveness for making the mistake of sitting judgement on any individual because everyone is God in expression. All is God manifested. God alone constitutes this universe; God constitutes the life, the mind and the Soul of every individual.

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour has a much broader connotation than merely not spreading rumours or indulging in gossip about our neighbour. We are not to hold our neighbour in humanhood. If we say, I have a good neighbour we are bearing false witness against him just as much as if we said I have a bad neighbour, because we are acknowledging a state of humanhood, sometimes good, sometimes bad, but never spiritual.

To bear false witness against our neighbour is to declare that he is human, that he is finite, that he has failings, that he is something less than the very son of God.

Every time we acknowledge humanhood we violate cosmic law. Every time we acknowledge our neighbour as sinful, poor, sick or dead, every time we acknowledge him to be other than the Son of God, we are bearing false witness against our neighbour.

In the violation of that cosmic law, we bring about our own punishment. God does not punish us. We punish ourselves because if I say that you are poor, I virtually am saying that I am poor. There is only one I and one Selfhood. Whatever truth I know about you is the truth about me.

If I accept the belief about poverty in the world, that reacts upon me. If I say that you are sick, or that you are not kind, I am accepting a quality apart from God, and in that way I am condemning myself because there is but one Self. Ultimately I convict myself by bearing false witness against my neighbour, and I am the one who suffers the consequences.

The only way to avoid bearing false witness against our neighbour is to realise that the Christ is our neighbour, that our neighbour is a spiritual being, the Son of God, just as we are. He may not know it; we may not know it. The truth is, I am Spirit; I am Soul; I am consciousness; I am God expressed – and so is he, whether he is good or bad, friend or enemy, next door or across the sea.

In the Sermon on the Mount, the Master gave us a guide and a code of human conduct to follow while developing spiritual consciousness. The Infinite Way emphasises spiritual values, a spiritual code, which automatically results in good humanhood. Good humanhood is a natural consequence of spiritual identification. It would be difficult to understand that Christ is the Soul and the life of an individual being, and then quarrel with our neighbour or slander him.

We place our faith, trust and confidence in the Infinite Invisible, and we do not take into consideration human circumstances and conditions. Then when we do come to human circumstances or conditions, we see them in their true relationship. When we say, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, we are not speaking of human love, affection, or friendliness; we are holding our neighbour in spiritual identity, and then we see the effect of this right identification in the human picture.

Many times we find it difficult to love our neighbour because we believe that our neighbour is standing between us and our good. Let me assure you that this is far from true. No outer influence for good or evil can act upon us. We ourselves release our good.

To understand the full meaning of this requires a transition in consciousness. As human beings we think that there are those individuals in the world, who can, if they would, be good to us; or we think that there are some who are an influence for evil, harm, or destruction. How can this possibly be true, if God is the only influence in our life – God, who is closer than breathing and nearer than hands or feet? The only influence is that of the Father within, which is always good.

Thou couldest have no power at all against me except it were given thee from above.

When we realise that our life is unfolding from within our own being, we come to the realisation that no-one on earth has ever hurt us, and no-one on earth has ever helped us.

Every hurt that has come into our experience has been the direct result of our inability to behold this universe as spiritual.

We have looked at it with either praise or condemnation, and no matter which it was, we have brought a penalty upon ourselves. If we look back over the years, we could almost blueprint the reasons for every bit of discord that has come into our experience. In every case it is the same thing – always because we saw somebody or something that was not spiritual.

Nobody can benefit us. Nobody can harm us. It is what goes out from us that returns to bless us or to condemn us. We create good and we create evil. We create our own good and we create our own evil. God does not do either. God is. God is a principle of love.

If we are at one with that principle, we bring good into our experience. If we are not at one with that principle, we bring evil into our experience. Whatever is flowing out from our consciousness, that which is going forth in secret, is being shown to the world in outward manifestation.

Whatever emanates from God in the consciousness of man, individually or collectively, is power. What is it that emanates from God and operates in the consciousness of man but love, truth, completeness, perfection, wholeness – all of the Christ qualities. Because there is only one God, one infinite Power, love must be the controlling emotion in the heart and soul of every person on the face of the globe.

Now in contrast to that are those other thoughts of fear, doubt, hate, jealousy, envy and animality, which are probably uppermost in the consciousness of many of the people in the world. We as truth seekers, belong to a very small minority of those who have received the impartation that the evil thoughts of men are not power; they have no control over us. Not all the evil or false thinking on earth has any power over you or over men when we understand that love is the only power.

There is no power in hate. There is no power in animosity. There is no power in resentment, lust, greed or jealousy.

There are few people in the world who are able to accept the teaching that love is the only power and who are willing to become as a little child. Those who do accept this basic teaching of the Master, however, are those of whom he said:

.....I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things fro m the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.

.....Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not see them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

Luke 10: 21,23, 24

Once we accept this all important teaching of the Master and our eyes see beyond the appearance, we shall consciously realise daily that every person in the world is empowered with love from on High, and that the love in his consciousness is the only power, a power of good unto you, unto me, and unto himself; but that the evil in human thought, whether it takes the form of greed, jealousy, lust or mad ambition, is not power, is not to be feared or hated.

Our method of loving our brother as ourselves is in this realisation: the good in our brother is of God and is power; the evil in our brother is not power, not power against us, and in the last analysis, not even power against him, once he awakens to the truth.

To love our brother means to know the truth about our brother: to know that in him, that which is of God is power, and that in him, that which is not of God is not power. Then we are truly loving our brother.

Centuries of orthodox teaching have instilled in all the peoples of the world a sense of separation so that they have developed interests separate and apart from each other, and also apart from the world at large. When we master the principle of oneness, however, and this principle becomes a conviction deep within us, in that oneness the lion and the lamb can lie down together.

This is proved to be true through an understanding of the correct meaning of the word "I". Once we catch the first perception of the truth that the I of me is the I of you, the Self of me is the Self of you, then we shall see why we have no interests apart from each other. There would be no wars, no conflicts of any kind if only it could be made clear that the real being of everyone in the universe is the one God, the one Christ, the one Soul and the one Spirit. What benefits one benefits another because of this oneness.

In that spiritual oneness, we find our peace with each other. If we experiment with this we shall quickly find how true it is. When we go to the market, we realise that everyone we meet is this same one that we are, that the same life animates him, the same Soul, the same love, the same joy, the same peace the same desire for good. In other words, the same God sits enthroned within all those with whom we come in contact. They may not at the moment be conscious of this divine Presence within their being, but they will respond as we recognise It in them.

In the business world, whether it is among our co-workers, our employers, or our employees, whether it is among competitors, or whether in management and labour relationships, we maintain this attitude of recognition:

I am you. My interest is your interest; your interest is mine; since the one life animates our being, the one Soul, the one Spirit of God. Anything we do for each other we do because of the principle that binds us together.

A difference is immediately noticeable in our business relationships, in our relationships with tradespeople, and in our community relationships – ultimately in national and international relationships. The moment that we give up our human sense of separateness, this principle becomes operative in our experience. It has never failed and it will never fail to bring forth rich fruitage.

Everyone is here on earth for but one purpose, and that purpose is to show forth the glory of God, the divinity and the fullness of God. In that realisation, we shall be brought into contact only with those who are a blessing to us as we are a blessing to them.

The moment we look to a person for our good, we may find good today and evil tomorrow. Spiritual good may come through you to me from the Father, but it does not come from you. You cannot be the source of any good to me, but the Father may use you as an instrument for His good to flow through you to me.

So as we look at our friends or our family in this light, they become instruments of God, of God's good, reaching us through them. We come under grace by taking the position that all good emanates from the Father within. It may appear to come through countless different people, but it is an emanation of good, of God from within us.

What is the principle?

Love thy neighbour as thyself.

In obeying this commandment we love friend and foe. We pray for our enemies. We forgive, though it be seventy times seven. We bear not false witness against our neighbour by holding in condemnation. We judge not as to good and evil, but see through every appearance to the Christ-identity – the One Self which is your Self and my Self. Then can it be said of us

....Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

Naked and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee, or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in, or naked and clothed thee?

Or when saw we thee sick or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Matthew 25: 34-40


The Core Teachings

The New Horizon

God is One


Break the Fetters that Bind You

Contemplation Develops the Beholder

Introduction (Practising the Presence)

Love Thy Neighbour

The Relationship of Oneness


The following passage is an epigraph for all of Joel's published books.

Illumination dissolves all material ties and binds men together with the golden chains of spiritual understanding;
it acknowledges only the leadership of the Christ; it has no ritual or rule but the divine, impersonal, universal Love; no other worship than the inner Flame that is ever lit at the shrine of the Spirit. This union is the free state of spiritual brotherhood. the only restraint is the discipline of the Soul, therefore we know liberty without licence; we are a united universe without physical limits; a divine service to God without ceremony or creed. The illumined walk without fear.