Evelyn Underhill

Evelyn
Underhill
1875
1941

English Anglo-Catholic Spiritualist Writer and Pacifist

Author Quotes

If you have made a decision, and you still feel, taking it all in all, it was the right one, then don't look over your shoulder on what might have been. If it was wrong, ask for forgiveness and accept the present consequences, happily and without remorse. Nothing is more corrosive of the powers you should be using to meet the present.

The spiritual life is a stern choice. It is not a consoling retreat from the difficulties of existence, but an invitation to enter fully into that difficult existence, and there apply the Charity of God, and bare the cost.

We spend most of our lives conjugating three verbs: to want, to have, and to do.

Every minute you are thinking of evil, you might have been thinking of good instead. Refuse to pander to a morbid interest in your own misdeeds. Pick yourself up, be sorry, shake yourself, and go on again.

In my relations with my father, which are difficult and where I'm often met by coolness and indifference, I am constantly tempted to be cold and indifferent. Yet I know that this is a test if I could take it rightly.

The will is what matters - as long as you have that, you are safe.

When we look out towards this love that moves the stars and stirs in the child's heart and claims our total allegiance, and remember that this alone is Reality and we are only real so far as we conform to its demands, we see our human situation from a fresh angle; and we perceive that it is both more humble and dependent, and more splendid, than we had dreamed. We are surrounded and penetrated by great spiritual forces of which we hardly know anything. Yet the outward events of our life cannot be understood, except in their relation to that unseen and intensely living world, the Infinite Charity which penetrates and supports us, the God whom we resist and yet for whom we thirst; who is ever at work, transforming the self-centered desire of the natural creature into the wide spreading, outpouring love of the citizen of Heaven.

Faith is not a refuge from reality. It is a demand that we face reality, with all its difficulties, opportunities, and implications. The true subject matter of religion is not our own little souls, but the Eternal God and His whole mysterious purpose, and our solemn responsibility to Him.

In mysticism that love of truth which we saw as the beginning of all philosophy leaves the merely intellectual sphere, and takes on the assured aspect of a personal passion. Where the philosopher guesses and argues, the mystic lives and looks; and speaks, consequently, the disconcerting language of first-hand experience, not the neat dialectic of the schools. Hence whilst the Absolute of the metaphysicians remains a diagram —impersonal and unattainable—the Absolute of the mystics is lovable, attainable, alive.

There is no need for peculiar conditions in order to grow in the spiritual life, for the pressure of God's Spirit is present everywhere and at all times. Our environment itself -- our home and our job -- is the medium through which we experience His molding action and His besetting loveÂ… And this quality of quietness, ordinariness, simplicity, with which the saving action of God enters history, endures from the beginning to the end.

When you let intuition have its way with you, you open up new levels of the world. Such opening-up is the most practical of all activities.

"I come to seek God because I need Him," may be an adequate formula for prayer. "I come to adore His splendour, and fling myself and all that I have at His feet," is the only possible formula for worship.

For a lack of attention a thousand forms of loveliness elude us everyday

Living in the present means squarely accepting and responding to it as God's moment for you now while it is called "today" rather than wishing it were yesterday or tomorrow.

There is no place in my soul, no corner of my character, where God is not.

Words are merely carriers of the secret, supernatural communications, the light and call of God. That is why spiritual books bear such different meanings for different types and qualities of soul, why each time we read them they give us something fresh, as we can bear it.

A simple rule, to be followed whether one is in the light or not, gives backbone to one's spiritual life, as nothing else can.

Formal prayer is a practical device, not a spiritual necessity. It makes direct suggestions to our souls: it reminds us of realities which we always tend to forget.

Love... makes the whole difference between an execution and a martyrdom.

Therefore it is to a practical mysticism that the practical man is here invited: to a training of his latent faculties, a bracing and brightening of his languid consciousness, an emancipation from the fetters of appearance, a turning of his attention to new levels of the world. Thus he may become aware of the universe which the spiritual artist is always trying to disclose to the race. This amount of mystical perception—this ordinary contemplation, as the specialists call it—is possible to all men: without it, they are not wholly conscious, nor wholly alive. It is a natural human activity, no more involving the great powers and sublime experiences of the mystical saints and philosophers than the ordinary enjoyment of music involves the special creative powers of the great musician.

You can also offer your prayers, obedience, and endurance of dryness to Our Lord, for the good of other souls, and then you have practiced intercession. Never mind if it all seems for the time very second-hand. The less you get out of it, the nearer it approaches to being something worth offering; and the humiliation of not being able to feel as devout as we want to be, is excellent for most of us. Use vocal prayer... very slowly, trying to realize the meaning with which it is charged and remember that... you are only a unit in the Chorus of the Church, so that the others will make good the shortcomings you cannot help.

A spiritual life is simply a life in which all that we do comes from the centre, where we are anchored in God: a life soaked through and through by a sense of His reality and claim, and self-given to the great movement of his will.

God is acting on your soul all the time, whether you have spiritual sensations or not.

Many a congregation when it assembles in church must look to the angels like a muddy, puddly shore at low tide; littered with every kind of rubbish and odds and ends --a distressing sort of spectacle. And then the tide of worship comes in, and it's all gone: the dead sea-urchins and jelly-fish, the paper and the empty cans and the nameless bits of rubbish. The cleansing sea flows over the whole lot. So we are released from a narrow, selfish outlook on the universe by a common act of worship. Our little human affairs are reduced to their proper proportion when seen over against the spaceless Majesty and Beauty of God.

This is the secret of joy. We shall no longer strive for our own way; but commit ourselves, easily and simply, to God's way, acquiesce in His will, and in so doing find our peace.

Author Picture
First Name
Evelyn
Last Name
Underhill
Birth Date
1875
Death Date
1941
Bio

English Anglo-Catholic Spiritualist Writer and Pacifist