We had hardly finished this chapter when Herman suddenly appeared again, this time with a loud thunderclap and an elegant flourish, as much of a flourish as an angel can make. He stood before us, more brilliant, more angelic, and more dazzling than ever before.

“I thought you’d like a confirmation that your method works,” Herman announced.

“A sign from heaven, eh?” said Bob.

“I like what you wrote on the evidence that meditation is working,” Herman complimented. “Maybe you ought to add that most signs are nudges.”

“Nudges?” inquired Carl.

“Sure—little jabs pushing you in the right direction. I’ve got a nudge for the two of you right now.”

“Uh-oh,” groaned Bob.

“Now that you’ve brought your readers through the front door, when are you going to tell them about the real work of meditation?”

“You’ve seen the outline, haven’t you?” said Carl. “The next eight chapters are all about integrating our Higher Self with our personality. That should be the real meat of meditation.”

Herman grimaced, as much of a grimace as an angel can make. “I’m not sure I approve of your metaphor.”

We chuckled politely, as politely as the two of us could. “Yes, I’ve seen the outline, and I know you plan to write a great deal about using meditation to add the light and the love of spirit to our personality.

Lord knows a lot of people need to learn those techniques. But have you considered the possibility that it may be a tiny bit materialistic to stress self-improvement so much?”

“I suppose in a way, it is,” replied Bob. “It does bring heaven down to earth. But we have no intention to encourage people just to float off into a mindless stupor so they can pretend to be spiritual. That’s just a way to escape responsibility and the dullness of life. And it’s probably more materialistic than a lot of the lifestyles these people are trying to escape. It’s motivated more by their disgust for the mundane than by a true reverence for life.”

Herman nodded sadly. “Sometimes people do reject the things of the earth for the wrong reasons, and in the wrong way. But there is a time and a season for adoring God quietly and facing the light.

Not all people who enter into the silence are becoming mindless, you know. Some of them know that their home is in God’s mind and heart, and they are returning for a visit. They are fondly remembering their divine heritage. And there’s a real value to that which cannot always be set down in black and white.”

“Well, we don’t want to make everything black and white,” Carl teased.

Herman was in the mood to tease as well, as much of a tease as an angel can muster. “You humans in the West are always rushing off to do this, that, or the other thing,” he said. “Occasionally, you might find it helpful to pause and recollect yourself and reconnect to the source of life. If that means becoming a tiny bit ‘passive,’ don’t knock it.

When you get exhausted, you have to stop and take some time to face the light and recharge for a while. This is how you dip your thought toes back into the pool of universal life. It may be passive for a moment, but it enables you to become active again.

Contacting our Higher Self is a little like breathing. You must breathe in the divine life and then exhale it through your self-expression. You inhale a fresh breath of wisdom and goodwill and courage, and then breathe it into your daily behavior. You can’t just breathe in, you can’t just breathe out; there has to be a proper balance and rhythm between both activities.”

“I thought that’s what we were advocating,” Carl said quietly. Herman looked thoughtfully, first at Carl and then at Bob.

“Are you sure? Maybe you’d better think about it. You can take that as a sign. But I have to fly. I’ll eavesdrop on you from time to time. Bye.”

And with that Herman withdrew into the next dimension. We were left in ours.

“Well, what do you make of that?” asked Bob. “I’m not sure I like that nudge. I’ve always been strongly impressed to demonstrate that meditation should be a means of releasing the life of our Higher Self for practical work in spiritualizing our personality. That’s not materialistic! It’s simply working to assist the great Divine Plan for evolution.”

‘I’m not sure Herman was saying that our idea of Active Meditation is materialistic,” mused Carl. “You know, the Western bias is to tear into some project in a fury of busyness, without adequate preparation or a true grounding in purpose and perspective. Maybe Herman was warning us about that risk, that some of our readers might interpret our comments a bit too enthusiastically. We don’t really want anyone to rush off to do God’s work full of wrath, zeal, ignorance, and platitudes – but it does happen. All the time.”

“You may be right,” said Bob. “I do like Herman’s notion about balancing the process of exhaling the divine life with adequate inhaling. It’s too bad so many people confuse this lovely concept with actual breathing exercises. It’s almost as if they believe that God has asthma and hyperventilates.”

“The danger seems to be that we can scoff too much at the passive aspects of meditation, and some good people might get confused. They might think that we are putting down the importance of the quiet adoration of the inner life. And that would be unfortunate.”

“Yes,” Bob agreed. “We can’t leave the impression that you just plug into God for a few seconds and then rush back into the physical world and serve, serve, serve. Meditation must be used to center ourselves in God, and then practice the presence of God in our daily activities and all our waking states of consciousness. I guess that’s balance, too.”

“You know, I have a sneaking suspicion,” Carl added. “It’s probably the time we’ve spent in adoration of God and the whole of heaven that set things up for Herman to visit us.”

The lights flickered a moment, but that was all.

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