What is spiritual bypassing? Does it really exist?

Spiritual bypassing is a term used by people who advocate shadow work, to describe the act of attempting to paper over our gaping emotional wounds by means of a pretty, vague sense of outward spirituality. It certainly does exist, but sometimes the term gets used inappropriately, as I’ll explain in a moment.

If you’ve been around enough spiritual people, you’ve probably met some good examples of true spiritual bypassing. These are the people who post inspiring quotes on their Pinterest and Facebook pages, make frequent reference to the wisdom of the universe, carry crystals with them and perhaps read the occasional spiritual book recommended by Oprah, but never make any serious attempts to grow. They never set aside dedicated time for spiritual practices, never pursue any one spiritual practice with any tenacity, and never undertake any serious self-examination.

In short, they’ve adopted spirituality as a facade – an identity, and nothing more – and they expect their lives to improve simply by giving emotional assent to some vague higher power. This is true spiritual bypassing, or as I prefer to call it – fake spirituality.

Unfortunately, as it is a term primarily used by shadow work advocates, sometimes the definition gets broadened to include everyone who does not believe it is necessary or helpful to probe around in the past in order to find answers in the present. People who believe that negative thoughts, feelings and patterns can be changed and released without excessive analysis or acknowledgement of them.

Shadow work advocates claim that all emotions have a meaning and purpose, and if we don’t understand the purpose then we’ve missed the lesson. Even if we clear the emotion or change the thought, if the original cause of the thought or feeling remains then it will simply reassert itself in a different form. And the longer it’s repressed, the more malignant it becomes, they claim.

Study the teachings of Christ, Buddha and Lao-Tzu and you will find that all of these sages belong to the former school of thought. Nowhere in any of the Christian, Buddhist or Taoist philosophies is probing into the past recommended as a legitimate form of self-analysis. Nowhere in the Hindu-Yogic tradition is this recommended, either. In fact I’m not aware of any traditional school of spirituality that recommends this. Thoughts and feelings are just energy – but because they create our reality, sometimes we mistake them for reality itself. The true nature of our existence is absolute perfection, but because we were given the creative faculty of free will, it is possible for us to misuse that free will and create problems and suffering for ourselves.

If we truly dedicate ourselves to a particular spiritual path with devotion, persistence and realistic expectations, in time our consciousness will ascend to a state where negative energetic residue like traumas and trapped emotions begin to clear from the body automatically. The only thing that caused this negative emotional baggage in the first place was the misuse of our thought, not some complicated emotional damage that requires analysis and drawn-out healing. Even traumas are ultimately caused by our conscious misapprehension of a particular experience as being a threat to our safety. As our consciousness ascends, these thought systems begin to rewire themselves and become more healthy, also. Hence, a higher level of consciousness is a remedy for both the effects and the causes of our emotional baggage.

In addition to following a dedicated spiritual practice, it is also possible to use energetic techniques like EFT, The Emotion Code, The Body Code, The Sedona Method and so on in order to compel the body to clear trapped energetic residue. As we let go of these lower energies, we assist ourselves into a higher state of consciousness, and as our consciousness ascends, more of the lower energies automatically clear – so the process is reciprocal. Shadows simply cannot exist when exposed to the light.

The great enlightened lecturer, Sydney Banks, founder of the Three Principles philosophy – the “sage of the common people” as I like to think of him – described it thus:

“When illusionary sadness comes from memories, you don’t try and figure them out – please don’t try and do that. You’ll get yourself in trouble. All you have to do is simplicity again – is realise that it’s thought. The second you realise it’s thought, it’s gone. You’re back to the now, you’re back to happiness. So don’t get caught up in a lot of details.”

Of course, Banks is here referring to a deep spiritual understanding of the roles of mind, consciousness and thought – not the superficial intellectual understanding that most of us have of these matters. Only a deep spiritual knowing, of the kind that Banks himself possessed, has the power to instantly liberate us from all problems. The attainment of this deep knowing has been the object of all significant spiritual teaching throughout the centuries. Cultivate a true, enlightened understanding of the way things really are, and all your problems will vanish as shadows exposed to the light. The idea that we ought to examine the shadows instead of simply turning on the light is a by-product of 20th century psychotherapy, which has no spiritual precedent.

Proponents of shadow work sometimes like to claim that following the orthodox spiritual path of seeking enlightenment is attempting to find a shortcut to freedom. We’re ever searching for that elusive magic thought that will open up our spiritual understanding and collapse all our problems in an instant. That’s too simple, they claim, and the only path to freedom is to put in the effort and do the dirty work down at the coalface of our subconscious; understanding what made us the way we are and healing each individual hurt. On the question of impatience, I’ve often found the opposite to be true, though – that is, if someone is deeply hurting now, it can be very tempting to attack the problem directly by trying to understand and heal the causes – whereas searching for a comprehensive liberation from all suffering is often too vague, distant and elusive for the impatient. But note, of course, that the process of earnestly seeking enlightenment almost always leads to a measurable increase in a person’s consciousness and a corresponding decrease in suffering – so even if we never reach the enlightenment threshold, our search is certainly not wasted effort.

Many people who have experienced Reconnective Healing will tell you that their lives changed for the better overnight, due to the massive jump in consciousness caused by the healing. Things that previously bothered them no longer did, and they viewed life with an entirely different perspective. For many of them, the changes are permanent or at least long-lasting. For a few, however, things return to their usual negative state within a few days or weeks after the healing. This is not because the healing energy is in any way deficient – it’s because, unfortunately, they allowed their pesky thoughts to get in the way again. We’ve been told for such a long time that we’re broken, and the only way to return to wholeness is through an arduous process of self-examination and repair. The more deeply this lie has permeated our consciousness, the harder it is to accept that healing could be so simple. Consciously or unconsciously, such people will tell themselves “this is too good to be true…It can’t last!”

Our true nature is one of complete perfection and harmony, and Reconnective Healing – being the unfiltered source energy of the universe – simply allows us to get back to that state. But if we tell ourselves it’s too good to be true – that we need to struggle through the murky depths of our childhood and our programming in order to liberate ourselves permanently – then our thoughts will come true, since they are our creative faculty.

Understanding the programming may actually provide some relief from it for certain individuals – so by all means, if shadow work helps you then it may be a legitimate part of your spiritual journey. It is not something I can ever proactively recommend, but it is not up to me to direct your spiritual path for you. But please realise that identifying with your programming is not the road to enlightenment, and people who choose to walk the higher path of dissociating with their programming and embracing the higher truths of our eternal, perfect existence are not “spiritually bypassing” by doing so.

The Law of Attraction and the absolute necessity of consciousness

This is a continuation of last week’s blog post, One crucial question to ask before using the Law of Attraction, where I argued that many people fail when attempting to use the Law of Attraction because they ask for things that are opposed to their own spiritual evolution. This, I argue, is contrary to the universal Law of Growth, and thus their efforts will be frustrated by the universe. If you have not yet read it, I recommend you begin with that article rather than jumping straight into this part.

Some will object to me subjecting the Law of Attraction to the Law of Growth by saying that this is a return to the old paradigm where our prayers are only answered if approved by the erratic will of some capricious god. However, this concept is vastly different for a number of reasons – the first being that we do not need to grope in the dark to understand the motivations of the Universal Mind; it will only frustrate our desires if they are opposed to our spiritual evolution. Furthermore, the old paradigm turned us into helpless pawns with no recourse against the final judgement of the Great One – whereas we now know that our power is absolutely limitless once we have attained a sufficient level of consciousness.

So the basic New Thought assumption that thoughts and beliefs are the only true limitations is correct, when understood correctly. Christ was not lying when he told us “All things whatsoever you shall ask in prayer believing, you shall receive.” (Matt. 21:22). But note that he said this just after he had performed an incredible miracle by cursing the fig tree and having it immediately wither away. In verse 21, just before the famous verse above quoted, he says: “If you have faith and stagger not, not only this of the fig tree shall you do, but also if you shall say to this mountain, Take up and cast thyself into the sea, it shall be done.”  This gives us some idea of the level of consciousness required to manifest a lottery win or a free Lamborghini. If you can’t imagine yourself throwing mountains into the sea with your mind, then perhaps it is best to give up all other ideas that are presently beyond your reach and focus on the smaller things.

So how come your favourite Law of Attraction teacher drives a Bugatti Veyron? If, as I implied in part one, he hasn’t yet evolved beyond money, then how did he have the consciousness to manifest that?  Firstly, we can’t make assumptions about other people’s level of evolution. I stated earlier that I could not think of any spiritual lessons that could be learnt by lottery wins or luxury cars other than knowing the hollowness of riches and their inability to give us true happiness. I also stated that there may be other lessons that do not immediately come to mind – so we cannot assume that any particular person is still in need of the first lesson. But it is certain that such people do exist – so how do they have the consciousness to manifest expensive luxury items? It’s simple: because it is broken up into smaller chunks, no tremendous level of consciousness is required, because nothing truly improbable has happened at any step of the way.  Motivation for worldly gain lends itself to belief, action follows belief, and results follow action.  In other words, their achievements are primarily the natural consequences of their own actions, rather than the result of some inexplicable coincidences miraculously orchestrated by the universe.

For example, firstly the person believes they can succeed at business school, so they do. Once they’ve graduated with honours, the next obvious assumption is that they will soon be making a six-figure income. This is easy for an already successful person to believe, so it soon comes true. Once the money is coming in, that luxury car really doesn’t look so improbable after all.

Nothing miraculous has taken place, but rather a simple series of causes and effects. There were mental forces and spiritual laws at work all throughout the journey, for sure – but nothing truly improbable happened at any step of the way. In fact, while they claim they manifested a Lamborghini, the majority of the world would see it as simply buying a Lamborghini. Try and get the same people to manifest a lottery win, and see what happens. They simply will not have the consciousness to produce anything so improbable.

Most Law of Attraction teachers are aware of the need for high consciousness, and correctly point to it as being the missing link that causes many attempted manifestations to fail. The trouble is, they then claim to be able to remedy it in the course of a five minute YouTube video. One teacher claims all you need to do is a morning ritual of yoga and meditation, then immediately following you’ll be in such a state of high-vibration that everything you visualise will come true. This may be true for a small monetary windfall or some other trifle, but it will not give the life-changing results such teachers tend to promise.  Another YouTube guru claims that all she has to do to raise her vibration is indulge in a weekly champagne and bubble bath ritual with some of her favourite magazines.

However, the reality doesn’t lend itself to YouTube click bait. Raising your consciousness to the point where you can successfully manifest big, improbable things is the result of much hard work and dedication. Instinctively I want to say that it’s the work of a lifetime, however it does not have to be the long, gruelling process that phrase implies. But there are no shortcuts.

And yes, the person in such an advanced state of consciousness could simply turn on the Lamborghini tap and attract as many of them as he wished – because he would be above the temptations of vanity that souls in lower levels of consciousness are prey to. In other words, he would not be transgressing the Law of Growth by doing so. But a person in such an enlightened state would instinctively see a Lamborghini as a useless distraction, and would almost never want such a thing – unless there were a very specific, unique purpose for it. So now we see that there truly are no limitations other than our level of consciousness – but as we ascend up the scale, our thoughts and desires become so intimately connected with the Universal Mind that whatever vain fancies we now suppose would give us happiness, would cease to entice us at all.

In part 3 I will discuss the higher spiritual uses for the Law of Attraction, and how misuse of the law creates suffering.

One crucial question to ask before using the Law of Attraction

One of the misconceptions caused by the movie The Secret, and many of the other big-time Law of Attraction gurus is the idea that anyone can learn to make it rain money on cue, or make Lamborghinis mysteriously appear in their driveway overnight.

 If you’ve heard of the concept then you’ve probably already tried it, in which case you’ll be fully aware that it doesn’t work as described. The usual course of action from this point forward is that the frustrated would-be Lamborghini owner buys a hundred books or overpriced online courses in order to find the crucial missing piece, and when they still can’t find it they end up in the front row of an Abraham-Hicks seminar, eager to put their hand up and ask the great guru why they keep failing.

If there were ever a single crucial missing piece, it could be this question – but you’ll never hear about it from the big-time Law of Attraction teachers, because it doesn’t sit well with their business model. So here it is – if you want to get results, you should always ask yourself this before embarking on any attempted manifestation:

“How does this benefit me spiritually?”

If you’ve been trying to manifest a Lamborghini, you’re going to struggle to answer this one. There is only one circumstance I can think of where owning a Lamborghini would benefit someone spiritually – and that is the case of a soul in the earlier stages of its earthly journey, which has not yet evolved beyond money. In such cases, owning such an extravagance may actually provide a necessary, if bitter lesson that money and worldly goods simply cannot provide us with true happiness and fulfilment. There may well be other reasons too, but let’s get real – such extravagances are spiritually useless for the majority of us.

For souls in the latter stages of their earthly journey – that is, those souls genuinely yearning for truth, wisdom and peace, rather than simply mucking around with spiritual powers in order to advance one’s worldly status – owning a Lamborghini would prove to be nothing but egoistic vanity. For such souls, any such attempts at manifestation are ill fated because they conflict with one of the most important laws of the Universal Spirit. In fact, more than anything else it is the law of the Universal Spirit: the Law of Growth.

The Universal Spirit, the universe, or God, is truly life in itself. Because it is infinite, it has no specific will of its own, since willing one thing would necessarily mean that it does not will the opposite thing, thus imposing limitations on the infinite. But the golden rule of its eternal existence is that it is life in itself; therefore by its very nature it tends towards giving this life, through creation and then through evolution of all created things. When we manifest, we must manifest in accordance with the laws of the universe – including this law of growth, or we are going against the flow of nature.  This is not my own original teaching; in fact it was taught by Thomas Troward, who is regarded by many people as the father of the New Thought movement.  See this previous post to read more of his views on this.

Even though Troward seems to imply it, I will not say definitively that it is impossible to manifest anything spiritually damaging to ourselves, because the moment I did so, someone would point out numerous examples that appeared to contradict this. So let’s simply say that the purpose of manifestation, indeed the purpose of everything, is that we evolve and fulfil our destiny of becoming more and more like our creator. If we’re working against the one true purpose, we are working against the flow of nature – which is rather like attempting to row upstream.

To put it another way – the Law of Growth is continually, ceaselessly nudging us on towards our destiny of higher evolution. Despite this, our free will deems us capable of making mistakes that will temporarily set us back on our evolutionary journey. We can frustrate the Law of Growth and obtain undesirable results just the same as we can frustrate the Law of Attraction. Both laws are forever working just the same, but the outcome of them varies wildly depending on our thoughts and actions. So when we specifically call upon the spiritual laws to obtain a positive outcome, me must work with those laws, not against them if we hope to obtain the desired results. Thus, anything you hope to manifest through visualisation and the specific, positive action of spiritual forces must not be opposed to your highest spiritual good, or you will struggle to obtain it.  If you really want that car and you can muster up the motivation, you can whip yourself up into a frenzy of action, working 80 hour weeks and saving every cent – but you will be rubbing against the grain at every step. Do not expect circumstances to mysteriously align in your favour, as the opposite will be true.

But note that this situation rarely occurs, as people with a higher spiritual path are not generally inspired or motivated to put in such extraordinary efforts towards worldly gains. They may attempt to visualise riches, and when they fail they will either get the message and stumble onward towards their higher destiny, or they will get stuck at the promises of easy money and continue with their ill-fated attempts at spiritual manifestation.

All of this may appear to contradict one of the basic tenets of New Thought, which is that our ability to manifest is truly unlimited, and all such limitations are self-imposed.  This tenet is true in the absolute sense, but not necessarily true in the individual case.  I will address this issue in part 2 of the article, where I will discuss the need for consciousness in the manifestation process.

The simple way to keep your ego in check through observation

Like many tremendously powerful exercises, this one is deceptively simple. However, if I could only recommend one beginner’s exercise for self improvement and setting one on the spiritual path… Well, that would be impossible. But if I had a top ten then this exercise would be on it – perhaps even in the top five. It’s so simple that anyone can apply it into their lives straight away – the only conceivable difficulties are in remembering to apply it – in which case you may need to set some form of reminder for the first few days, if you’re prone to forgetfulness – and being tempted to doubt its effectiveness. If you fall into the latter camp, all I can suggest is to please try it diligently for a couple of days – that’s all the convincing you’ll need.

The exercise

As you go about your day, all you need to do is become aware every time you spot your ego reacting to a situation, and observe what is happening without judging it. When your ego worries in response to some seemingly bad news, observe it. When your ego judges someone else’s appearance, observe it. When the ego gets angry at someone else’s silly opinion and wants to tell them all the reasons they’re wrong, observe it. When your ego wants to take control of all your future goals and figure out exactly how to accomplish them, instead of trusting in the wisdom of infinite intelligence – observe it and surrender the problem to the universe.

Note that sometimes there may not appear to have been any trigger to cause the ego to flare up. You simply may have followed a random train of thought that led you into having a fully-blown argument in your head, or you may have unwillingly indulged in fear, or self-aggrandisement or whatever.

Here is a brief list of some of the observations you may make:

“My ego is worrying because it feels that it is unsafe.”

“My ego is trying to make itself special because it feels inadequate.”

“My ego is trying to convince someone else that they’re wrong and it’s right, in order to feel in control, because it feels like it does not have sufficient control over its own life.”

“My ego is judging someone else as ugly, in order to feel superior, because it feels unloved.”

Again, don’t judge the ego’s reaction, just observe what is happening – judging is one of the major functions of the ego, so if you allow yourself to judge your ego, you’ve actually allowed the ego to slip back into your mind through the back door. Devilish cunning sometimes, these egos!

If the above observations sound too judgemental to you, or if you’re not yet familiar enough with the ego’s motivations to know exactly what is happening, then just become aware that the ego is reacting, without going into any further detail. In any case, don’t even tell it to stop – you’ll find that most of the time, just by becoming aware that you’re engaged in an unproductive mental pattern, the thoughts will stop by themselves.

What effects can you expect?

The first effect you may notice is an acute awareness of just how much your ego tends to judge, criticise, argue, complain and worry. As you begin to detach from its shenanigans, you may feel some resentment – as though you were babysitting a troublesome child around the clock. Again, try not to react to it or judge it – simply observe. As you continue your nonjudgmental observation, you will become more and more aware of the pure existence – the “I AM”ness that exists beyond the ego. You will no longer identify so strongly with the ego, but will see it for what it is – an artificial construction of the mind that exists independently of our true infinite nature.

As you begin to progress in this habit of detaching from the ego and living in a state of awareness and being, you may also find that you’ll become more aware of your thoughts in general, and not waste mental energy giving attention to things you don’t wish to attract into your life. Naturally, this has tremendous benefits of its own – benefits that will become very quickly obvious if you’re able to keep your mental slate clean for a reasonable period of time – say, a week or two. Learning to let go of all fear and developing the habit of trusting in the providence of the universe will help to create a powerful, positive state of expectancy, which is much more in line with your ultimate happiness and success than the ego’s state of fear and limitation.

In addition, becoming more aware of your thoughts also enables you to live more deeply in the present moment, as becoming aware of our thoughts naturally tends to make us aware that much of what passes through our minds is simply needless mental chatter. The process for quietening the mind is very similar and closely linked to the ego observation process – when you become aware of thoughts that don’t serve you in any way, simply observe them without judging. The more aware you become of them, the more they will tend to stop.

Why does it work so effectively?

For the very simple reason that what we give our attention to grows. Although it may seem like this exercise is actually giving attention to the ego by taking note of its judgements, what we’re really doing is moving into the space of “being” – that place where there are no judgements; where criticisms and complaints are not required and the all-encompassing sufficiency of existence reigns supreme. By differentiating ourselves from that part of us that judges and complains – the ego – we’re stepping into our true selves, witnessing the ego and differentiating ourselves from it. And by doing this, we’re giving energy to our true state of being.

And again, we don’t want to judge our ego’s reaction, but the more we observe it ceaselessly complaining, judging, arguing and attempting to assert its superiority, the more we realise just how incompatible it is with that tranquil state of being. We realise the state of being is perfectly sufficient, and all that an unrestrained ego can do is add clamour and discord on top of it.

Surrender to the universe and it will surrender to you

A couple of stories on the power of trust in the universe – but also the necessity of resignation to its will. The first of these stories was told directly to me by one of the people concerned. I am recalling it from memory some years after it was related to me, but I am certain that the essential facts are correct.

Many years ago, the eldest son of some friends of mine woke up in the morning paralysed from the waist down. After a short time – a matter of hours, I believe – he recovered mobility and was taken to hospital where tests were carried out, and a diagnosis made. The boy had a serious degenerative disease that threatened to make him permanently paralysed by a young age. My friends are devout Catholics and so were firm believers in resignation to the will of God. However, the father of the boy – let’s call him Trevor – was far better at practising this than the mother, “Fiona”. Trevor kept his cool all the way through the ordeal and attempted to convince Fiona to do the same. After all, the worst thing that could possibly happen was that they would have to bring up one of their children in a wheelchair. This would be a trial, no doubt – but a meritorious one, and hardly an onerous one in the scale of things.  But Fiona was adamant that the boy would walk. While both parents prayed fervently for him, Trevor prayed with resignation while Fiona prayed with determination. She was convinced that her prayers would be heard and stubbornly declared that nothing short of a full recovery would suffice.

Weeks went by and there was no change in the situation. Fiona continued her prayers, but became anxious. Trevor saw her distress and attempted to swing her around to his calmer, more resigned view. In desperation, Fiona prayed a prayer of resignation, accepting whatever her God had in store for their son.

I seem to recall it being a day later, but certainly it was no longer than a week that the boy was taken back to the hospital for further tests. The doctors admitted – with a certain degree of embarrassment – that they could find absolutely nothing wrong with him. With all thought of miracles off the table, they were at a loss to explain the conflicting test results.

If we expect ordinary results, sometimes mere trust isn’t enough. Sometimes complete, utter abandonment to the providence of the universe is what’s required. The truth of this is seen in the many stories of people who received enlightenment or some great miracle only after a complete breaking down of their existing self and surrender to a higher power. Sometimes it’s darkest before the dawn.

This truth was demonstrated to me in my days of full time office work. I had been on a self-imposed hiatus for 6 months to work on some other projects, but was starting to run out of money. I had no access to government benefits and could barely score an interview, let alone an actual job. One of the few interviews I did manage was a group intake of 10 people, which received 800 total applications.  I didn’t get the job. I seemed to only ever score an interview if it was a group intake, and these seemed a waste of time as they were always those over-enthusiastic fake group interviews where they feed you jellybeans, make you wait around on beanbags and ask you ridiculous questions like “if you were a cartoon character, who would you be?” I always failed at those as they could see me gritting my teeth whenever I smiled. I eventually succeeded at one, only to be told I had to come all the way into the recruitment office to complete a timed 2 hour psychological assessment. For a job that paid $50,000 a year by the way – I wasn’t applying to be chief of the air force or anything. In the end they never rang me back anyway, which was partially a relief.

Still, my anxiety increased daily as I eroded my savings and then began to chip away at my credit limit. I confidently told other people about the abundance and providence of the universe, but it’s not always an easy thing to heed your own words when you’re $2,000 in debt on your credit card without a single possible means of generating the income to pay it off. Eventually though, I came to a profound realisation – everything else in my life had worked out to that point. I’d stared down the barrel of disaster many times before, but never been shot. It could easily have happened otherwise, but somehow, by means or someone or something, I had been protected. And I knew right then that I would continue to be so protected.

I was in the supermarket pushing a trolley full of groceries around, wondering how on earth I was going to pay back the credit card I was buying them on. And I surrendered to whatever had provided me with such profound protection to date. My exact thoughts were “oh well, even if I have to use up my entire $10,000.00 credit limit, pay full interest on it all and sell my beloved camera, something will work out. And even if I wasted a bit of money in the process, a year or two from now I’ll have bought another camera and will look back and wonder what on Earth I was so anxious about. The chance that I will starve or my whole life will collapse is literally nil.”

The following day, one of the agencies I’d been dealing with rang me. They were impressed with my performance in a previous interview, and although I didn’t get that particular job, they wanted me to start work at an insurance company the following week. No further interview required, no psychological tests. No jellybeans.

No, I didn’t compress the timeframe for the sake of the story, or make any other embellishments – it really did happen the following day. If my surrender had occurred during business hours, perhaps it would have happened the same day.

If you’re still caught up in worry or you’re fed up waiting for the universe to intervene in a longstanding case where no progress seems to be made, this may be the small move that makes all the difference. No-one knows with certainty how these things work, but the classic New Thought view is something like this: if we stubbornly hold to a particular outcome, the energy of our stubbornness blocks other options from entering our field. Somewhat paradoxically, once we lose the resistant energy, we often find our preferred option is the one that manifests, or an even better one that we hadn’t foreseen.

Or perhaps the universe consciously withholds things from us in order to teach us the simple, profound lesson that everything is OK – we are safe and are being taken care of.

Either way, it works.

Abundance vs. avarice, or why money sometimes really is the root of all evil

How many times have you heard some sparkly-toothed new age guru step off his private helicopter into a packed-out stadium and declare that “money is spiritual”? Or how many times have you heard that age-old nugget of wisdom “money is the root of all evil” trampled and spat on by some new age “gospel of prosperity” hawker?

One of the sacred dogmas of the New Thought movement is that money is a fundamentally positive commodity, which – exactly like health – we should all strive to obtain as much of as we possibly can. It was inevitable that eventually there would be a reaction against the sometimes excessive aestheticism of Christianity and other belief systems – however, by categorically rejecting the idea that there should be any sort of limits on our pursuit of wealth short of outright dishonesty, it appears that our views on money have gone from one extreme to the other.

Firstly, money is not spiritual. Prayer is spiritual. Works of charity are spiritual. Meditation is spiritual. Mindfulness is spiritual. All of these things raise a person’s consciousness and lay the foundations for further spiritual ascension, when they are undertaken with the correct dispositions. Money does neither of these things. Taken purely of itself, it is completely neutral – it can be used for either good or bad. However, money has a strong tendency to inflame desires and distract from the spiritual path.

The spiritual man seeks his happiness by seeking to raise his consciousness, by loving others, meditating on the good, contemplating beauty and finding inner stillness. When deeply cultivated, all of these things lead the soul to a place of unassailable peace and enlightenment where temporal and physical matters are of virtually no concern next to the greater truths of eternity.

Conversely, the man with access to great wealth will almost always follow his weak human nature by seeking the more easily accessible and tangible route of physical pleasure. However, because we are spiritual beings, nothing on Earth short of spiritual ascension can possibly satisfy our deep-seated desires to be reabsorbed into our true spiritual natures. A soul who uses physical pleasure to satisfy what is really a spiritual desire will find the desire insatiable – and as the enjoyment of existing pleasures fade with repetition, a gradual desire for more and greater physical pleasure will result.

Hence, we see the plain truth of the ancient phrase (which is taken from 1 Timothy 6:10), when it is rendered correctly: “The love of money is the root of all evil.” The correct phrase clearly implies that money itself is neutral, but the love of it has the tendency to cause great harm to ourselves and others. Love of money leads to love of luxury, which leads to the supplanting of spiritual desires with physical indulgences.

Just like money, food is also a neutral commodity and is even necessary for life. In fact, food is actually good for us if it’s healthy – but stuff yourself silly with it and even a wholly organic, macrobiotic diet becomes poisonous to the body. Hence, food is necessary and even good; but it must be consumed in accordance with the principles of the natural order. Money is no different in this regard.  Hence loving money is toxic to the spiritual path. On the other hand, loving the spiritual path and having money – well, that’s an entirely different bucket of fish! But it’s a crucial distinction that seems to be missing in the New Thought attitude towards wealth.

Virtually all major religious teaching and most enduring philosophical teaching holds these truths. We are of the stars, but we are temporarily confined to Earth; exiles seeking our way home. Living lives of excessive indulgence or comfort binds us to the Earth plane and inhibits our soul’s ascent into higher levels of spiritual understanding.  Buddha taught that desire equals suffering.  The Tao Te Ching teaches moderation, non-striving and living beyond worldly pleasures.  Christ’s words about riches are well known and perfectly plain, despite being subject to so many deliberate misinterpretations.

Amen, I say to you, that a rich man shall hardly enter in the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you: it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 19:23-24). See also Mark 10:24-25, Luke 18:24-25.

Lay not up to yourselves treasures on Earth, where the rust, and moth consume, and where thieves break through, and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven: where neither the rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through, nor steal. For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.” (Matt 6:19-21).

Reading some of the early New Thought tomes like Wallace D. Wattles’ Science of Getting Rich, you get a sense of where this all came from.

Increase is what all men and all women are seeking; it is the urge of the Formless Intelligence within them, seeking fuller expression. The desire for increase is inherent in all nature; it is the fundamental impulse of the universe. All human activities are based on the desire for increase; people are seeking more food, more clothes, better shelter, more luxury, more beauty, more knowledge, more pleasure – increase in something, more life.

Every living thing is under this necessity for continuous advancement; where increase of life ceases, dissolution and death set in at once. Man instinctively knows this, and hence he is forever seeking more. This law of perpetual increase is set forth by Jesus in the parable of the talents; only those who gain more retain any; from him who hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

The normal desire for increased wealth is not an evil or a reprehensible thing; it is simply the desire for more abundant life; it is aspiration. And because it is the deepest instinct of their natures, all men and women are attracted to him who can give them more of the means of life.”

This is a simplistic, nay an animalistic doctrine that denies the basic knowledge that not all human desires are healthy, and misses the deeper spiritual understanding of the parable of the talents – rendering it as a purely material tale.

The desire for abundance is a natural human inclination, for sure – but so is revenge and lust for power. The canon of great thought holds that no human desire is to be indulged without some degree of tempering – and in fact, some human desires ought to be utterly repudiated. Thus, the desire for food should only be indulged to the point of satiety, not further. The desire for power should only be indulged with the intention of helping others to better their lot. The desire for reproduction should either be confined to marriage or at least not indulged to the point of promiscuity. And the desire for comfort and wealth ought to be indulged only to the point that we don’t become attached to them.

And therein lies the rather sticky key to this all – it’s perfectly spiritual to live in a twelve bedroom mansion, as long as you’d be just as happy living in a rented attic. If you don’t detach yourself first, you’ll find material diversions taking the place of spiritual aspirations. Or worse, if your material possessions are somehow taken away from you, you won’t have the spiritual foundation to accept it with resignation.

Please be assured that this is not a dig at any particular person, nor a mass dig at all wealthy new agers. All the obvious suspects currently being evoked in my readers’ minds may be completely detached from all their vast wealth, for all I know – I have no right to judge otherwise. I am merely pointing out the pitfalls of having wealth without first detaching ourselves from it.

Of course, I’ve been dealing so far with the extremes of this matter. Readers with simpler needs might currently be thinking: “What about me? Is it too much to ask that I earn a bit extra to cover my car loan and not be struggling to put food on the table?”

Of course it isn’t. Such readers may simply wish to consider whether they’re going about it in the most spiritual way. Christ tackles this question directly in the sermon on the mount, where he says:

Therefore I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on.  Is not the life more than the meat: and the body more than the garments?  Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns: and your heavenly father feeds them.  Are you not of much more value than they?”  “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.”  (Matt 6:25-26  and 33).

In other words, by making our spiritual development our number one priority, we learn to trust in the providence of the universe. The money may come as an unexpected windfall or promotion, or it may come as the result of some inspiration to undertake a particular business transaction or start our own company. By seeking spiritual things first, we allow the universe to take the reins with full faith and trust that all our needs will be supplied in one way or another.

The soul that is always seeking new ways to make money at the expense of spiritual development – and who is always hoarding it when he does make it – is actually demonstrating the true meaning of the scarcity mindset. This soul is essentially saying “the universe has limited supply, so I need to grab as much as I can and stockpile it before it runs out – make hay while the sun shines!”

Paradoxically, people in this mindset may eventually find themselves in complete financial ruin – thus explaining the odd but common situation of millionaires who go bankrupt. On the other hand, those who truly resign themselves to the providence of the universe often find themselves at the thoroughly comfortable end of moderate living. In this situation, all basic needs are met and many additional “wants” are supplied but spiritual progress is not weighed down by the attachment to luxury and indulgence.

The truly spiritual soul is at peace, and knows that the universe will always supply for his needs. He does not need to chase money because he knows there is no lack of supply – whenever the money is needed, it will come. He freely gives, because he knows the universe will repay him many times over for his charity.

This, my friends, is the true abundance mindset.

Thomas Troward on how the law of attraction works

I’m half way through an extraordinary book by the seminal New Thought philosopher Thomas Troward, called The Edinburgh Lectures on Mental Science.  I’m recording the entire thing as an audiobook for free download, but for the moment I’ll be content to share some snippets.  Here’s one from chapter 8, titled The Reciprocal Action of the Universal and Individual Minds.  The Universal Mind is, of course, Troward’s term for God, the Universe, the source energy, whatever you care to call it.  Troward here explains the mechanics of the creative process of the individual mind when it impresses its will upon the blank slate of the Universal Mind – i.e. the Law of Attraction:

“It is for this reason that I lay so much stress on the combination of two apparent opposites in the Universal Mind, the union of intelligence with impersonality. The intelligence not only enables it to receive the impress of our thought, but also causes it to devise exactly the right means for bringing it into accomplishment. This is only the logical result of the hypothesis that we are dealing with infinite Intelligence which is also infinite Life. Life means Power, and infinite life therefore means limitless power; and limitless power moved by limitless intelligence cannot be conceived of as ever stopping short of the accomplishment of its object; therefore, given the intention on the part of the Universal Mind, there can be no doubt as to its ultimate accomplishment. Then comes the question of intention. How do we know what the intention of the Universal Mind may be? Here comes in the element of impersonality.  It has no intention, because it is impersonal. As I have already said, the Universal mind works by a law of averages for the advancement of the race, and is in no way concerned with the particular wishes of the individual. If his wishes are in line with the forward movement of the everlasting principle, there is nowhere in Nature any power to restrict him in their fulfillment. If they are opposed to the general forward movement, then they will bring him into collision with it, and it will crush him. From the relation between them it results that the same principle which shows itself in the individual mind as Will, becomes in the universal mind a Law of Tendency; and the direction of this tendency must always be to life-givingness, because the universal mind is the undifferentiated Life-spirit of the universe. Therefore in every case the test is whether our particular intention is in this same lifeward direction: and if it is, then we may be absolutely certain that there is no intention on the part of the Universal Mind to thwart the intention of our own individual mind; we are dealing with a purely impersonal force, and it will no more oppose us by specific plans of its own than will steam or electricity. Combining then, these two aspects of the Universal Mind, its utter impersonality and its perfect intelligence, we find precisely the sort of natural force we are in want of, something which will undertake whatever we put into its hands without asking questions or bargaining for terms, and which, having undertaken our business, will bring to bear on it an intelligence to which the united knowledge of the whole human race is as nothing, and a power equal to this intelligence.

I may be using a rough and ready mode of expression, but my object is to bring home to the student the nature of the power he can employ and the method of employing it, and I may therefore state the whole position thus:—Your object is not to run the whole cosmos, but to draw particular benefits, physical, mental, moral, or financial into your own or someone else’s life. From this individual point of view the universal creative power has no mind of its own, and therefore you can make up its mind for it. When its mind is thus made up for it, it never abrogates its place as the creative power, but at once sets to work to carry out the purpose for which it has thus been concentrated; and unless this concentration is dissipated by the same agency (yourself) which first produced it, it will work on by the law of growth to complete manifestation on the outward plane.

In dealing with this great impersonal intelligence, we are dealing with the infinite, and we must fully realize infinitude as that which touches all points, and if it does, there should be no difficulty in understanding that this intelligence can draw together the means requisite for its purpose even from the ends of the world; and therefore, realizing the Law according to which the result can be produced, we must resolutely put aside all questioning as to the specific means which will be employed in any case. To question this is to sow that very seed of doubt which it is our first object to eradicate, and our intellectual endeavour should therefore be directed, not to the attempt to foretell the various secondary causes which will eventually combine to produce the desired result, laying down beforehand what particular causes should be necessary, and from what quarter they should come; but we should direct our intellectual endeavour to seeing more clearly the rationale of the general law by which trains of secondary causes are set in motion.”

As a Man Thinketh by James Allen – Free Complete Audiobook

James Allen’s classic 1903 book As a Man Thinketh is regarded by many as one of the greatest self-help books of all time. At under 50 pages, it is a short read – but do not underestimate the power and wisdom contained herein. Unlike modern authors whose books are often filled with fluff and padding, every page in Allen’s work rings with simple, eloquent wisdom. It is a book that can be read multiple times, and new depths of understanding drawn from every subsequent reading.

Many people profess to believe in the power of thought to shape our realities, but lack a thorough understanding of the consequences of this truth. Absorbing the full meaning of Allen’s words, meditating upon them, and conforming our thoughts and actions to his advice will have profound and rapid effects on our reality. This is not a volume to be read blithely but rather a rich trove of wisdom to be deeply considered and integrated into our lives.  This is a brand new recording read by myself – you’re welcome!

Download As a Man Thinketh – James Allen (23.3 MB)

1. Introduction/Thought and Character
2. Effect of Thought on Circumstances
3. Effect of Thought on Health and the Body
4. Thought and Purpose
5. The Thought Factor in Achievement
6. Visions and Ideals
7. Serenity

If this is your first visit to the site, take a look at my distance healing sessions!


Love or Above by Christie Marie Sheldon: An honest, non-affiliate review 2020

This is not an affiliate review, and nor am I offering my own alternative to Christie Marie Sheldon’s Love or Above audio course. Whether you buy it or not, I gain nothing either way, except the satisfaction of helping you make an informed choice. You’re welcome!

Love or Above, an audio course to help you raise your vibration, is a nice pleasant product but sharply overpriced like all Mindvalley products – even accounting for the fact that only a fool would pay the full $200 price tag instead of easily wrangling a discount. I paid approximately $130 for it, and when you think about the number of books you could buy for that, it becomes difficult to justify spending that amount to download some audio files. Of course, Mindvalley don’t want you thinking about that – they want you employing the same reasoning that all digital downloads use to justify their exorbitant price tag – “if you made full use of just half the information in this course, it’ll change the course of your life, making this a bargain at twice the price!” But how true is that really, and how true has it been for you with previous digital download purchases? Have any of them really contained life-changing proprietary information that you’d never heard before, which worked exactly as described and was easy to apply?  Think about it – you get so much less than you do with a physical product like a book, yet somehow they manage to charge upwards of 5 times the price for it, simply because the internet gives them a chance to directly appeal to their buyers and spread the marketing on much thicker than can possibly be achieved in a bookstore.

In the case of Love or Above, you could get all the information for free – and much more besides – from blogs and YouTube videos and save yourself the dosh. The only thing that could justify spending this kind of money would be if there were some secret proprietary magic in this course that you couldn’t find anywhere else – or perhaps at a stretch, if there were some kind of formal curriculum which would infallibly lead you to a higher vibrational state if scrupulously followed. A bunch of audio downloads on disparate topics and a PDF file just don’t cut it. If you know it’s possible to raise your vibration, you already have the secret proprietary information – all you need to do is apply it into your life with determination and persistence.

Many of the tracks are not even directly related to raising your vibration, such as the exercise for contacting your spirit guides. Unfortunately it’s not as simple as just following along to an audio track, but there are plenty of audio tracks you can download for free from YouTube if you really think apparitions on cue are within your grasp. Other tracks are pure filler, such as the bits about the “indigo generation” and the “rainbow kids”.

According to Dr. Hawkins’ detailed research in the bible of consciousness Power vs. Force, most people never move beyond the bracket of consciousness they settled into once their personalities were established. This is not to say it has to be difficult, but it requires persistence, repetition, constant reinforcement and a plan to bring this all together. For this kind of money, that’s what you expect – a plan. A course of study, if you like – not just a bit of a pep talk, a few nice ideas, a couple of exercises and a smattering of vaguely related topics.

If you’d never heard of this concept before and were entirely incapable of doing a basic web search on it, this could be life-changing and worth the hundreds of dollars. On the other hand, you could buy Power vs. Force in paperback for about $20 and get the same effect, but with twice the information. Bear in mind too that this course has been around for a while and many of the reviews were written before there was so much of this material available on YouTube.

The presenter Christie Marie Sheldon is very charming and really does exude the warmth and positivity of someone living in “love or above” – that is, the level 500 or above on the Hawkins scale of consciousness. Unfortunately, she is the only X factor here. There are no great nuggets of gold buried in the course that you can’t easily find elsewhere.

To be clear, this is a nice pleasant product with some useful information in it, and even just hearing the positivity of the presenter tends to put one in a higher vibrational frame of mind. My concern is purely with the cost, which is completely unjustifiable. Is Love or Above worth buying in 2020? No, not at any price I’ve ever seen it advertised for. Save the money, do your own research and climb that ladder of consciousness for free.

If psychics are genuine, why do their readings differ so wildly?

The psychic industry is rife with frauds and rank amateurs. Everyone knows it, and any honest psychic will admit it. However, having dealt with quite a few I can say with some conviction that many psychics are sincere, and truly believe that they are receiving messages from the other side. Indeed, most of them probably are to some extent. Nearly all psychics that I have dealt with were able to give me specific details about my life that they should not have been able to know. Specific, precise details – like that I used to play brain training games, that I was working on a novel and that I used to drink too much. And they managed to tell me these things out of the blue without fishing around for clues. While this falls far short of scientific evidence, my experience tells me that these abilities are absolutely genuine but rarely properly developed – and often hampered by ego or other energetic disturbances.

I say the ability is rarely properly developed, because none of the psychics I’ve consulted agreed on everything. In fact, many of them flagrantly contradicted each other. And some of them spoiled their own credibility by telling me things that clearly did not make sense, even after proving some genuine ability.

The trouble is, psychic ability is really just the ability to tune in to and read energy – whether it be another person’s energy, the energy of a situation, the energy of the future, or the energy of thoughts and beliefs. So if you don’t properly clear your own thoughts, beliefs and assumptions before a reading, your own energy is inevitably going to interfere with the reading. If you believe in guides and angels, you’ll see guides and angels – and they’ll tell you the sorts of things you’d expect guides and angels to tell you.

One of the psychics I consulted told me to look for a wife by placing a personals ad online, on “the Australian equivalent of Craig’s List”. That would be Gumtree. No go – they had recently closed down their personals section due to rampant abuse, and there was nothing else remotely equivalent. When I returned and told her so, my guides changed their mind and told me to join Tinder – which, for the more innocent among you, is an online hookups site. No thanks.

The most successful psychics – the ones that tend to get called in to solve impossible police cases (yes, it does happen – and they often succeed) are the psychics that not only clear their energy before a reading, but they’ve actually spent months or years deeply cleaning up their entire energy field so that their own beliefs, emotions and other rogue energies can’t interfere with their perception. These top-shelf professional psychics usually charge a fortune for a reading and tell you very little. You won’t get the fairy stories about guides and angels, and you may be disappointed by just how little information you get from them compared to the “fun” psychics that let you talk to your dead canary or tell you the love of your life is waiting for you on Tinder. But the information you get has a much higher chance of being accurate. And let’s be honest, that’s not what most people who approach a psychic actually want, is it? Amateur psychics thrive because they’re selling hope, or the thrill of communicating with the other side.

And that leads me to channeling – one of the most dangerous aspects of the psychic profession. Not only is it well known that frauds use many deceptive techniques to read a subject and tell them things about themselves that they theoretically should not be able to know (known as “cold reading”), but many sincere psychics actually use aspects of the same techniques without realising it. By giving squishy information that changes in response to the client’s promptings, most credulous subjects can be easily convinced that the psychic is contacting dead relatives. Even in the rare instances that the psychic hits on some specific, correct details about someone in the person’s life, there’s no guarantee that they’re actually channeling something from the other side. They could simply be picking up on the client’s memories of the person, for example.

My family on both parents’ sides is extremely small, and my circle of acquaintances has always been extremely limited. This produces some amusing results when psychics attempt to channel for me. A Canadian psychic I once consulted produced a gentleman in 1940s clothing who referred to me as “mate” and said he was hunting wallabies. Of course, there was never any such man in my life – he was a mere patchwork of Australian stereotypes. The same channeler produced a dead friend – perhaps a drinking partner from my university days, he said – who had a message to deliver. When I told the channeler that I never went to university and have never had a friend die, it turned out that he was a friend of my brother’s. Of course. The messages these people so desperately had to reach out across time and space to deliver were mere pats on the back, by the way. “Go ahead with your chosen path, you’re on the right track. We support you.” Thanks for that.

Such obvious nonsense only works because most people who consult psychics are highly credulous, they’re excited to hear from dead relatives, and they have enough people in their social circles to shoehorn the psychic’s usually vague descriptions into the memory of one dead relative or another.

You can see where amateur psychics get their poor methods from if you attend a cheap psychic development course. One such course that I attended for a few sessions before giving up in disgust entailed having our third eye chakras opened, and then giving readings to other members of the group. No other instructions were given. We were simply to have our chakras opened, and then wait for the information to come. Naturally, anything that popped into the reader’s head was considered a psychic insight rather than a random thought. As you can imagine, this participation-award approach was great for everyone’s self esteem, but not so great for accuracy.

But that’s half of what being a psychic is all about – ego and identity. It makes people feel special to have psychic abilities – and understandably so. Secretly harbouring a superpower that 90% of the world has no concept even exists would be incredibly tempting to anyone’s ego. No surprise that the majority of people with such abilities tend to base their identities on it. When you base your identity on an ability, you need to constantly reassure yourself of how good you are at that ability. Hence the tone-deaf warblers who audition for talent shows firmly believing that they’re headed for superstardom – they’ve based their identity on assumptions of talent and future success. And hence the meltdowns when the judges tell them they sound like a drowning rat. An attack on their abilities is an attack on their identity. So it is with the amateur psychics who believe they have a direct hotline to god. Being psychic is what makes them special, and examining their own work for accuracy would tend to put a dampener on their specialness.