In my early twenties, I attended Morehouse College, primarily because Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had graduated from there. Later I went on to the University of Southern California, becoming very involved in several groups that were protesting the war in Vietnam. One day while attending a meeting of such a group, I heard a voice within say “If you took over the world tomorrow, would the world be any different, any better?”
I looked around the room at each individual and knew that because there was so much ego involvement, we could not succeed in changing the world. How could we help the world if we didn’t first change ourselves? I left the meeting never to return. The very next week someone from that meeting shot another man over a power struggle.
I was still pretty wild at this time in my life—sharing marijuana with people and selling it to others, but I was about to experience a spiritual awakening. In a dream state, I saw my own death. When I awoke, I was aware that I was surrounded by the universal presence, which at that time I called “Love-Beauty.” After this dream, I was determined to quit selling marijuana. However, there was a drug delivery in my home—the only time I had ever had drugs stored there. I planned to get rid of it, but before I could make an arrangement, I was arrested and taken to jail.
My inner voice told me not to worry because the life of drugs was over for me and I was going to be free. So all during the time when I was waiting for the court proceedings, I read books on meditation and spirituality, totally unconcerned about this world.
During my court appearance, the judge asked the arresting officer why he had raided my house. The officer testified that an informant had said that a dope deal was going down there. My attorney objected: “That’s hearsay evidence.” The judge called a recess. Back in court three days later, the judge said, “Mr. Beckwith, I have learned there was no informant. I agree that the evidence was hearsay, so I have no other choice but to set you free. I hope I never see you in my courtroom again.” “You never will,” I said and walked away.
As I returned home, the wind was blowing with great velocity. Standing outside my home, I looked up at the weather vane on top of the house next door. I watched the arrow hold steady, pointing in the opposite direction from me. As I looked at the weather vane, I said, “God, if you are here, if what is happening to me is real, let the weather vane turn and point in my direction.” I had barely gotten the words out of my mouth when the arrow spun around and pointed directly at me. I knew that the direction of my life had changed also. With tears streaming down my face, I surrendered my life to God.
Finding My Way
That new direction led me to studying Eastern and Western mysticism. I developed a strong prayer and meditation practice that eventually led me to becoming a minister and founding my own spiritual community.
Through affirmative prayer, contemplation, meditation, study, fellowship, and service, I became open to the thoughts of God thinking themselves through me. This was not simply a matter of positive thinking, because people can be positive that they are broke or positive that they are sick. I believe in affirmative thinking, affirmative realization. The very nature of the universe is affirmative, for life continues to affirm itself throughout eternity.
What most people call thinking is what I call the recycled conditioning of society. Authentic thinking comes from inspiration. The Japanese have a word for thinking, kamkuru, which means “to return to the realm of God.” To me, God is the source of inspiration, and therefore the cause of genuine thinking.
Revealing the Presence of God
When we live an affirmative way of life, such as Unity teaches, we get in touch with our real nature, which is the life of God. The thoughts that begin to emerge from that contact are life-giving, beautifying, and constructive. Our lives progress because we are progressive beings.
We’re here on earth to continue to unfold, to reveal the infinite nature of the presence of God. We stay in a state of inspiration as we let thoughts from the Mind of God birth themselves through us. We become the instruments through which new ideas take shape, new ways of living emerge, and progress for ourselves and for the entire race takes place.
The joy in that progress, however, is not from our accomplishments themselves or the things we attain. Real joy comes from what we become as we are moving forward in our spiritual evolution. After a while, we realize our joy is really in becoming ourselves, in activating our potential. That’s where our real joy, real happiness, comes from.
When one is saturated with a spiritual idea, something happens. I call it spontaneous goodness. We have insight and that insight moves us into right action. There’s an action that’s commensurate with our faith.
As human beings, we have a faculty of the presence of God in that we can think independently of circumstances, which allows us to be creative. Circumstances do not have the final word about our lives. As we think independently of circumstances, we begin to catch a vision that inspires us to describe our lives differently. The laws of the universe are there to support us in unfolding our vision.
We are not victims who have to live a life of fear, doubt, and worry. There’s a sacredness within all of us that reveals itself as we invite it to. With affirmative prayer and meditation, by studying and making a conscious contact with the presence of God, we experience a shift in attitude. And our attitude determines our character, our character determines our destiny—regardless of the past, regardless of present conditions.
As we consciously embrace the presence of God within our own souls and begin to affirm the absolute truth of our being, new thinking occurs that allows our new lives to unfold. This takes a little bit of work, a bit of attention. The result, however, is awesome, because we are then living in awareness of God and our own sacredness at all times and in all circumstances.