A rational explanation of karma

In my previous article, I alluded to some of the teachings of Buddhism that I have objections to. While I was researching for a potential article on this topic, the subject of karma naturally came up. I hold some very strong objections to certain principles of Buddhist karmic teaching, but this article should not be read as an attack on any particular spiritual tradition, and if it were to be read as such then Buddhism would not even be the major target. Rather, this is an attempt to cast a critical eye over some of the popular, superstitious beliefs associated with karma to see whether they stand up to the scrutiny of logic.

Some may consider it arrogant of me to take my axe to the root of this millennia-old teaching; but frankly, it’s long overdue. I’ve done the same thing before with the new age gospel of prosperity and the idea of heaven as a place – and the people who have taken the trouble to comment have generally thanked me for finally making sense of an otherwise foggy topic.

 

There is an unfortunate belief amongst new age people that karma is a vindictive like-for-like law, by which our every thought, word and deed, even the most trivial ones, rebound upon us in exactly equivalent measure. I suppose one of the reasons it has taken such deep root in new age thought is because we humans find it so difficult to forgive others. If we have any sort of spiritual aspirations then direct hatred is out of the question, so karma allows us to spiritualise our revenge by reassuring ourselves that we’ve fully forgiven the person – but that’s OK, because karma will get him in the end.

It’s not just vapid new agers who believe in this idea, though – it has even taken root in the minds of some scholarly individuals of the New Thought persuasion. I was shocked to find that even the great biblical scholar Emmet Fox subscribed to this like-for-like idea, which he believed to be supported by Christ’s sermon on the mount. In his book on the sermon, Fox writes:

For every unkind word that you speak to or about another person, an unkind word will be spoken to or about you. For every time that you cheat, you will be cheated. For every time that you deceive you will be deceived. For every lie that you utter, you will be lied to. Every time that you neglect a duty, or evade a responsibility, or misuse authority over other people, you are doing something for which you will inevitably have to pay by suffering a like injury yourself. With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”

The first major logical flaws in this interpretation of karma are that it interferes with free will, and appears to create a sort of infinite spiral of negativity. If I murder someone, then someone else will be compelled to murder me, either in this life or the next. The person that murders me is then required to suffer murder, compelling someone else to murder them. And logically, the cycle appears to be incapable of being broken. The only possible way the scales of karma could ever be balanced in such a situation would be if the perpetrator and the victim were the same in both cases. In other words, Cain murders Abel in one lifetime – then in a future lifetime, Abel murders Cain, and the scales are balanced. In this situation, there is no need for an ongoing cycle of violence. But what sort of justice is this, that compels Abel to murder Cain, just because he himself was murdered by Cain in a previous lifetime? That is neither just nor a free act of the will.

And Fox would have us believe that all acts create karma, even the little ones. This puts us at the mercy of an iron-clad destiny where everything that comes to us, big and small, is the result of our past actions. And all the actions we take, big and small, are seemingly preordained by the necessity of fulfilling some karmic return in the people we come into contact with.  Some will dispute this by arguing that there is no need to compel anyone to perform any particular actions, because human nature is such that there will always be people willing to commit all manner of acts, good and bad, and that the Universe is simply rearranging circumstances to satisfy justice, using the materials it is given to work with. But this argument has the same flaw discussed above – it requires an endless cycle of evil acts, and appears to prevent humanity from ever evolving beyond it. Furthermore, any universal law that has fickle human nature as one of the links in its chain of causation, is no universal law at all. The laws of the universe are self-balancing by their very nature. Gravity, for example, does not require the co-operation of humanity to carry out its effects. However predictable human nature may be, it is impossible to guarantee the operation of any universal law that is dependent upon the actions of a free human will.

The old Buddhist teaching that evil karma results in us being reborn as one of the lower animals has similar problems. Firstly, it is completely opposed to the universal law of growth, which is a forward-moving, evolutionary momentum, not a shrinking, devolutionary one. We may frustrate the law of growth through negative actions, for sure. We may create so much resistance that we even slow it to a crawl – but it is there nevertheless, nudging our soul onward towards its final destiny to become God in individualised form. The law of growth cannot set an opposing, devolutionary momentum in motion. Such a momentum would be tremendously difficult to escape from, and would surely result in the eternal doom of many souls. In fact, it would probably doom all of us, since we have all surely committed some major evil act throughout our soul’s journey across lifetimes.

Believing that there could possibly be a devolutionary momentum in the universe is equivalent to the old, noxious error that has retarded humanity for millennia – that is, believing in evil as having a substantive existence in itself. This is the chief error warned against in the parable of Adam and Eve in the garden. All Adam and Eve’s problems are caused after they eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. There are not two opposing forces in the universe, but only one – and what may appear to be a negative power is only the one good power being used destructively rather than constructively. Refer to chapter 2 of Thomas Troward’s Bible Mystery and Bible Meaning for the definitive explanation of this topic.

By the way, some mistakenly believe that being reborn as one of the lower animals is a tradition held in certain third world countries, which is not actually supported by any Buddhist teaching. This is incorrect – every school of Buddhism that I know of teaches it, although I have heard some teachers explain it away as a parable, or a non-literal teaching of the Buddha that was used to make an impact on his hearers. Still, by my reckoning most serious Buddhists believe in it as a literal truth. They generally teach that the lower animals cannot accumulate any further karma, which eliminates the possibility of an endless downward spiral but still leaves the lower animals trapped in their state for a potentially very long time, with no guarantee of escape. Presumably, if rebirth into human form ever happened, such a person would hardly be well placed to avoid falling back into the animal state again. The whole thing is difficult to reconcile with the law of growth and the concept of an all-good, all-loving universe.

It also compels the Buddhist to make a moral judgement over another living soul, because by the very fact of him being in human form, the Buddhist must assume his moral superiority over the animal. Of course, no Buddhist who is serious about his religion would suppose that he is permitted to indulge any feelings of superiority over any other living creature. Much less would he consider himself entitled to abuse animals in retribution for the animal’s past sins. Such actions belong only to ignorant people who cling to Buddhism as a superstition and a hollow identity but who do not care to follow any of its teachings in any detail. Still, a judgement of moral superiority over animals is required in order to fully accept Buddhist teaching – thus putting the Buddhist at odds with Christ’s warning to “Judge not, lest ye be judged. For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”

We are forced to make an even greater judgement if we accept the old Hindu superstition that the Indian caste system is the natural outcome of karma. The lower castes have long been fed the offensive lie that being born poor or ugly is the result of bad karma in a previous life. Being born beautiful and rich is, naturally, the result of good karma. This belief serves the higher castes well, but it is instantly disproved by the complete lack of any correlation between the possession of wealth and the practice of virtue, or the possession of beauty and the practice of virtue.

So what is karma, really? The first component of genuine karma is what I call explicit karmic energy. These are a specific species of negative energy that can be identified and cleared by the subconscious mind, and which appear to be created by the subconscious as a sort of internal response of the higher conscience. Such energies are usually only created in response to relatively large infractions. For example, thinking a single unkind thought about a person is unlikely to generate any of these energies, but being severely unkind to them over a period of time will very likely do so. The judge of the matter is our higher conscience, and its assessment does not always marry up to our ego’s typically flattering assessment of our own actions.

These energies can be easily cleared from a subject, as long as the subconscious is able and willing to divulge their existence – which it will usually do after some investigations by a skilled healer. If the energies are not cleared, then they form a sort of debt that must be paid by attracting circumstances that tend towards making amends. The beauty and perfection of the Law of Growth is evident in the fact that karma is more rehabilitative than punitive. Of course with that said, the rehabilitative circumstances attracted by such karmic energies may not be to our liking, and we are well advised to avoid accumulating any such debts.

The other component of what we call karma is simply the natural, unavoidable consequences of our own life choices. For example, if we are in the habit of stealing, then we are sending out an energetic signal of scarcity and dishonesty, which means that we are more likely to attract scarcity and dishonesty to ourselves.  The more negative thoughts, feelings and actions we indulge, the more of them become ingrained in our energy system – either as rigid beliefs and habits, or as stuck energies that can’t be cleared from the energy field without a rise in consciousness or the intervention of a healer. Any explicit karmic debts we accumulate are also added into this mix, and the resulting negative energetic signal put out by us will have a tremendous impact on the kind of circumstances we encounter in our daily life.

Even if the person ceases from overtly dishonest acts, he may still have to suffer additional consequences for a period of time, until his energetic system is purified by his persistence in virtue. Thus, all residual negative energy caused by persistent negative acts forms a kind of debt that must be paid. The only way around payment of the debt is to repent of the negative acts so completely and thoroughly that our consciousness is raised to a higher level. In a higher state of consciousness, negative energies cannot affect us, and they begin to be automatically cleared by the body.

Thus Christ’s instructions to the recipients of his physical healings: “go, and sin no more.”

For those who cling to pretty spiritual beliefs as a sort of security blanket, the old beliefs on karma die hard. But for those of you who are seeking rational spiritual beliefs to give your assent to, I hope this article was of some use.

In the spiritual life should you follow your heart, or follow your head?

Since the spiritual realm lies beyond the mind – and many people even argue that the mind is the enemy of spirituality – should we assume that all our emotional impulses come from an inspired source, and should be followed? Or do all these impulses need to be passed through the mind before they are to be followed? Or is there an even higher principle we can apply that transcends both?

This is actually a very simple matter, but it tends to cause much unnecessary confusion. After all, following our heart at all times appears to open us up to dangerous emotional caprices – and subjecting every motion of the heart to the cold rationality of the mind would surely cut us off from all the inspirations of the higher spiritual faculties. So how do we decide when to follow our heart, and when to follow our head? The Hawkins scale of consciousness gives us the answers.

Negative emotions like shame, guilt, grief, fear, desire, anger and pride are all very low in consciousness, and fall below the crucial threshold of 200 that distinguishes ‘power’ from ‘force’. On the other hand, rational intellectual enquiry calibrates at 400, making it vastly superior in consciousness to these negative feelings. In effect, this means that all negative emotions should be rationally examined, to the extent that this is possible. On the intellectual level, we cannot always talk ourselves out of a negative emotion with reason, but it pays to examine the feeling and determine whether it actually has a rational basis.

For example, shame is essentially an emotion that tells us ‘you are bad’. A person who accepts this feeling uncritically as evidence that they are bad is likely to suffer from poor self-worth, and all the problems that come along with it. Giving in to the feeling without any rational analysis of it is essentially agreeing that you are bad. A rational response to the feeling of shame would go something like “I did some bad things in the past, and I will ensure I do not repeat those mistakes. But I am a perfect child of God with inherent self-worth. These feelings do not in any way represent my true self.”

Anger, fear and suspicion are all emotions that can play major havoc with our lives, especially in relationships. For example, one person in the relationship may fear being abandoned by the other; perhaps due to having been abandoned in the past. This feeling, if unchecked by reason, is likely to lead to possessive behaviour, suspicion, and ultimately to the very abandonment they feared in the first place.

Not all emotions are irrational, however. If the person in this example rationally considers their feelings and finds solid evidence that the other person is uncommitted to them, then ending the relationship may be a reasonable option. Our emotions, good and bad, are all there to tell us something, after all. The only problem is that they don’t always tell us what we need to know at the time, because we often feel old emotions in new situations due to stuck emotions and resonances. We may be in an objectively great relationship, but the fact of being in a relationship may have a certain resonance that brings up old negative emotions from past experiences, which we then blame on our current partner.

Anger can be justified sometimes, too. For example, feeling anger at a grave injustice is known in Christian theology as righteous anger. The classic example of righteous anger is Christ’s overturning of the merchants’ tables in the temple. Ultimately Christ taught love and forgiveness as the highest principles, but there were certain circumstances where swift action against an injustice was called for. But we must use our rational faculty and be certain that what we are feeling is truly righteous anger, and not mere self righteousness.  Spoiler alert: it is almost always the latter.

As helpful as the intellectual faculty can be, we should not stop at rationally analysing our emotions. There is an even higher principle than the mind, which begins at level 500 on the Hawkins scale – the level of Love. The vast majority of people spend their lives in the bottom half of the scale, and comparatively very few ever make it past the level of Reason. But even though it is rare for people to move their entire consciousness past 500, most people still use the principle of love in their lives, either by expressing love for other people, or through an appreciation of the concept of universal love.

True love is not the same as infatuation, nor attraction, nor like. Indeed, you can love a person without even liking them – though one should probably not get into a relationship with such a person. But rather than being a feeling, true love is the beginning of the direct experience of the goodness of the Universal Spirit, either by direct contemplation of the Spirit, or by appreciating the positive qualities of the Spirit reflected in another person. Very often this experience is accompanied by tangible positive feelings in the heart, but it does not have to be. As we open ourselves up to a deeper and deeper experience of the goodness of the Spirit, we move beyond the mere human understanding of love into the higher divine experiences of it, designated by Hawkins as Joy (calibrated at 540), Peace (600) and Enlightenment (700+).

When we experience true love or any of the states beyond it, the feeling does not need to be analysed. It is above reason, and analysing it with the mind can only weaken or destroy it. But even if we are not permanently in a high spiritual state, we can still evoke the power of these states to deal with negative emotions or any other problems in our life whatsoever. How? It’s simple – cease worrying and refer the problem to God.

This is the principle that makes Emmet Fox’s The Golden Key so powerful. Don’t think about the problem – think about God instead. By raising our consciousness above the base fears we feel about a problem, to the higher divine principles of God – we raise our consciousness on that particular matter to a higher state even than reason. Even if we only experience a faint grasp of a true spiritual knowing – or to say it another way, if we have faith; if we believe in the true spiritual principles without yet having experienced them directly and palpably – this is enough to get results.

Bring God to all your problems; bring love into all your relationships – these principles are higher than your fears and shame. These principles are higher even than the clearest reasoning in the world could ever be. You will discover that there is no knot in the world that can’t be untied if God is put on the case, and no relationship that cannot be redeemed at least in some way by bringing faith and love to the table.

It cannot be said often enough that a successful relationship must be based on true love, rather than infatuation or mere sexual attraction. But too many people give up on relationships where true love exists, simply because they go through a period of boredom or conflict. In his wonderful book on the Sermon on the Mount, Emmet Fox laments this defeatist approach, reiterates Christ’s statements against divorce, and then writes:

As none of us is perfect, and the complainant is certain to have his or her own faults no less than the delinquent, he or she should endeavor, if it can possibly be done, to make the present marriage a success by persistently knowing the Spiritual Truth about both parties. If the aggrieved partner will steadfastly see the Christ Truth about the other one, then, in nearly every case a happy solution will be the outcome. I have known a number of instances where marriages which were on the point of being dissolved were saved in this way with the most satisfactory results. One woman said, after a few months of handling her problem spiritually, ‘The man I was going to divorce has disappeared; and the man whom I married has come back. We are perfectly happy again.’”

As Fox implies, there are some cases where separation may be necessary – such as physical abuse or similar. But these marriages were unlikely to be based on true love in the first place. And it’s wise to remember that even these relationships could theoretically be redeemed, with enough faith.

So to return to the original question – should we follow the heart, or follow the head? If our heart is leading us to experience negative emotions, then we should follow our head and subject those emotions to reason. Then once the problem is clearer, we should invoke the higher principles of the heart by bringing faith and love to the situation.

So do we really need the mind at all? There is a place for both of them, but the more our consciousness expands, the more we will turn straight to the spirit. The intellectual phase, after all, is just that – a phase in the spiritual journey. We cannot become enlightened spiritual beings without it, but as we grow in the spiritual life, true spiritual knowing begins to take the place of intellectual knowledge.

But please do not underestimate the importance of the intellectual phase in the meantime. Whenever you turn to the Spirit, it is best to know exactly what your problem is, and the mind will help in understanding this. For example, if you are feeling shame, or the tangible expression of the belief that you are bad, it is better to contemplate God and say ‘please help me to understand that my true nature is the same as yours’ rather than to say ‘please let some of your goodness rub off onto my filth.’ Or if you unfairly suspect a partner of being uncommitted, it is better to contemplate God and say ‘please let me see all these wonderful divine qualities in my husband’ than to essentially say ‘please let me somehow see past all his lies and deception to the divine being he is obscuring with all his terrible behaviour.’

The mind and the higher heart principles both play an important role in our spiritual development. But as for the lower heart principles, or negative emotions – all of these calibrate below Hawkins’ crucial level of 200. The lower principle must always be subject to the higher.

The best explanation of how the Law of Attraction actually works

Every spiritual school seems to have its own explanation of how the Law of Attraction actually works. Many of these are confusing and contradictory, and yet – as we shall see – many of them still work, because they correctly make use of certain principles, even though they seem to be mostly unaware of what those principles actually are.

I am here offering an explanation of the Law of Attraction that appears to tie all these schools of thought together, and cast a new light on things that will help us to understand the Law of Attraction in a different way. My primary source is, as usual, Thomas Troward – although I will also rely heavily on personal experience to extrapolate Troward’s teachings. I will begin by quoting from a remarkable chapter of Troward’s Edinburgh Lectures, where he delves into the two main aspects of the human mind – the subconscious and the conscious, or as he here calls them, the subjective and the objective.

From The Edinburgh Lectures on Mental Science, lecture 4:

A long series of careful experiments by highly trained observers, some of them men of worldwide reputation, has fully established certain remarkable differences between the action of the subjective and that of the objective mind which may be briefly stated as follows:

The subjective [subconscious] mind is only able to reason deductively, and not inductively, while the objective mind can do both. Deductive reasoning is the pure syllogism which shows why a third proposition must necessarily result if two others are assumed, but which does not help us to determine whether the two initial statements are true or not. To determine this is the province of inductive reasoning, which draws its conclusions from the observation of a series of facts…”

Innumerable experiments on persons in the hypnotic state have shown that the subjective mind is utterly incapable of making the selection and comparison which are necessary to the inductive process, but will accept any suggestion – however false – but having once accepted any suggestion, it is strictly logical in deducing the proper conclusions from it, and works out every suggestion to the minutest fraction of the results which flow from it. As a consequence of this it follows that the subjective mind is entirely under the control of the objective [conscious] mind. With the utmost fidelity it reproduces and works out to its final consequences whatever the objective mind impressed upon it; and the facts of hypnotism show that ideas can be impressed upon the subjective mind by the objective mind of another as well as by that of its own individuality…”

Under the control of the practised hypnotist the very personality of the subject becomes changed for the time being; he believes himself to be whatever the operator tells him he is: he is a swimmer breasting the waves, a bird flying in the air, a soldier in the tumult of battle, an Indian stealthily tracking his victim: in short, for the time being, he identifies himself with any personality that is impressed upon him by the will of the operator, and acts the part with inimitable accuracy.”

In summary, the conscious or objective mind possesses the faculty of inductive reasoning – or observing facts and determining truth from falsehood – while the subconscious or subjective mind only reasons deductively, which is the faculty of calculating what consequences follow when certain initial facts are assumed.

The subconscious mind is essentially our connection to the Universal, undifferentiated mind, or the mind of God. God does not deal in truths or falsehoods; God simply creates. If God decides that something is true, then it becomes true, and our subconscious minds operate in the same way. Hence, if the conscious mind is put to sleep via hypnotism and a sufficiently skilled hypnotist impresses a certain suggestion upon it, then the subconscious accepts that suggestion and works out the logical consequences of it. The subconscious mind does not evaluate the truth or falsehood of the suggestion; it simply responds by working out the conclusions that follow if the suggestion is true.

The subconscious mind has no ideas about itself and no concept of limitation. It conceives of itself as being precisely what is conveyed to it by external suggestion; typically the external suggestion of our conscious mind – this is how all visualisation and self-suggestion works. To take a common example, if you visualise yourself as a millionaire and feel the truth of it so palpably that it becomes real to you, then you are programming the subconscious mind just like the hypnotist who convinces his subject that he is a bird flying in the air. Once the subconscious has accepted the suggestion of the visualisation, it will manifest as a physical reality, provided that no stronger contrary suggestion is impressed upon the subconscious to undermine the initial suggestion.

And here is where most people fail in programming their subconscious. They allow external circumstances to program the subconscious with contrary suggestions to their visualisation. We see the destructive effects of contrary suggestions in the hypnosis example – when the hypnotised subject returns to his normal state, his conscious mind resumes its observation of facts, finds that the subject’s body is not covered in feathers, and the hypnotic spell quickly wears off due to the stronger contrary suggestion received from the observation of the senses and reasoning of the conscious mind. Similarly, if the would-be millionaire awakes from his visualisation and then proceeds pinching every penny as he previously did, his actions are impressing the idea of lack upon the subconscious. If he instead begins to spend as though money were no object then he is acting consistently with his visualisation. But if he spends in this way for a few weeks, fails to see results, and then panics, then he has undone all his good work and may in fact end up further back than where he started from, as his panic will form a powerful suggestion of lack that the subconscious will respond to.

Hence, most people simply do not have the consciousness required to successfully carry out such a spectacular manifestation, and so the Law of Attraction becomes like all other too-good-to-be-true schemes like foreign currency trading. In theory, it holds an easy solution to all of our problems. In reality, its tremendous simplicity can be supremely complicated to grasp.

But then, the Law of Attraction was never meant to be the saleable commodity it has become. Its enticing promises have invited exploitation from opportunists, who have often stripped out every other teaching of the spiritual life and focused solely on the promise of riches. But it was never meant to be taken out of the context of our wider spiritual development. It’s not a magical formula for getting stuff; rather the ability to use it is the natural consequence of an increase in spiritual understanding.

Yes, Christ said “ask and ye shall receive” – but he also said “seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all other things shall be added unto you”. Not only will our spiritual powers naturally unfold as a result of our increased knowledge of the Universal Spirit, but our desires will begin falling into order, and we will discover that the legitimate use for all spiritual laws is doing good for others and evolving our souls. This does not mean we cannot ask for particular favours, monetary or otherwise – but they should fit into the grand scheme of our spiritual development, and not simply be directed towards creating a comfortable, luxurious life. And as our spiritual development unfolds, our consciousness increases – and in this higher state of consciousness, things tend to come to us without us even needing to ask.

With that said, we are certainly entitled to use our spiritual powers, provided that the end goal of our efforts is in conformity with the will of universal love. In Chapter 5 of the Edinburgh Lectures, Troward offers a suggestion as to how to overcome the negating effects of existing circumstances that we encountered earlier. He encourages us to reflect that there is a spiritual prototype of our completed goal that already exists on the metaphysical plane. As spirit has no concept of time, it follows that the spiritual prototype of our visualisation must exist as an already accomplished fact, here and now. By focusing on the existence of this spiritual prototype as an already accomplished fact, we are taking our attention away from external appearances and secondary causes, and focusing instead on first cause. By reversing our mode of thinking in this way and focusing on the originating principle rather than the secondary results that flow from it, our world will begin to change – just as a change in a shadow inevitably follows upon a change to the object that casts it. We need to view the spiritual world, where we are truly rich in every way, as the real world, and the physical world the mere reflection of it.

And despite the insistence of many Law of Attraction teachers, it is not strictly necessary to visualise anything. The advantages of visualising are that – if palpably felt – it conveys the truth of the visualised outcome very powerfully to the subconscious mind, and also helps us to get very clear with exactly what we are trying to manifest. But for those who struggle with visualising, it is possible to obtain results purely through the power of belief, as long as we hold fast to the belief and do not plant a contrary suggestion in our subconscious by entertaining doubts or acting as though the belief were not true. Explicitly religious people typically do not visualise; but many successfully manifest favours simply by their belief in the power of prayer. Christ said “Believing ye shall receive”, not “After visualising, ye shall receive”. In the end, belief is the funnel through which everything flows. Believe that an outcome will occur, and you are powerfully programming your subconscious to expect it. Believe that your methods are faulty, or you’re not skilled enough at them, or you took a crucial misstep, and you’re programming your subconscious for failure. Hence certain Law of Attraction teachers who prescribe specific methods as being absolutely necessary to the creative process sometimes set up unhelpful negative expectations in the minds of those who find their methods difficult to replicate.

Furthermore, many of the different schools seem to directly contradict each other on certain points. Most notably is the question of whether we should continue thinking about a goal after we have visualised it, or whether we should simply set the intention and then let it go. And here it is helpful to understand the principles behind the teaching, in order to decide which method is going to be most suitable for you.

Generally speaking, if you are good at visualising and able to form a vivid, believable, lifelike picture of your goal fulfilled, then you should visualise it once and then drop the matter. Your vivid mental picture will deeply impress upon your subconscious mind, and it will immediately go to work to bring the vision into physical manifestation. You should await the results with calm and confident expectancy; anything else that you add to it from that point onward is only likely to retard its progress. If you do use any other technique to keep your mind on track, such as Troward’s suggestion mentioned earlier, it should only be to chase away doubts, rather than to speed up the process or increase its effectiveness.

If you are unable to form vivid mental pictures, then your subconscious may require some additional programming. It will act upon whatever is impressed upon it the most vividly, and so if you are unable to do this with a mental picture, you can do it with frequent reminders of the goal, such as palm cards with your goals written them in present tense, or some other form of regular affirmations. The only drawback with this method is that you must be able to evoke the feeling of the wish fulfilled on cue – at least to some extent – and avoid any negativity concerning that subject. For example, it may be relatively easy to indulge in positive feelings concerning a romantic relationship; but for most people who don’t yet have such a relationship, this will also stir up feelings of loneliness and discouragement. It is also very important to avoid any sense of trying to hurry the speed of the manifestation by the use of these methods. The end game is to convince the subconscious that the goal has already been fulfilled by vividly conveying to it the feeling of the goal fulfilled. If we attempt to hurry it in any way then we are only impressing it with our own impatience. This is why, despite their potential, so many people find affirmations to be useless or even counterproductive.

My recommended method for those who cannot vividly visualise (and also for those who can – along with continuing their visualisation methods) is to use the principles of Emmett Fox’s The Golden Key. It’s a mere brief pamphlet – shorter than this article even – but its power has been proven by the thousands that have used it over the decades since it was first published.

The formula is simple: don’t think about the problem, but instead think about God. So if you are trying to manifest a relationship, rather than visualising your own perfect relationship, just know that it is all in God’s hands, and then meditate frequently on God’s love without any specific reference to your own loneliness, and without any specific expectations. Rather, maintain a confident expectancy in the ability and willingness of God to bring you all good things. If you are trying to manifest wealth, instead of visualising yourself swimming through a tank full of money, meditate frequently on the infinite abundance of God, and expect all good things to come to you. If you are trying to advance spiritually, meditate frequently on the infinite wisdom, goodness and intelligence of God, and know that all these things will come to you.

Fox prescribes this as a remedy for dissolving any difficulty, but it can be used as a means of attaining goals, too. If you feel the need to stick scrupulously to Fox’s original formula, then simply phrase the goal as a difficulty and ‘golden key’ it. If you are trying to manifest a relationship, ‘golden key’ your loneliness. If you are trying to manifest money, ‘golden key’ your lack. If you are trying to advance spiritually, ‘golden key’ your spiritual stagnation.  If you need further instructions on how to think about God, read Fox’s The Seven Main Aspects of God.

The beauty of Fox’s technique is that it works directly with belief in absolute spiritual principles, rather than concerning itself with evoking feelings or changing existing circumstances.  See, often by thinking about goals that are yet to be fulfilled, we activate old programming, old negative expectations, and past negative emotions. This is what Law of Attraction teacher Esther Hicks calls ‘blocked pipes’ – it’s negative energetic residue that can sabotage our attempts to feel positive about our goals. It’s much easier to program our subconscious to expect all manner of good things to come from the Universal Spirit, than to program ourselves for very specific things – especially when we have many blocked pipes. By powerfully affirming our belief in spiritual principles, we are raising our vibration and denying any additional energy to our existing unfavourable circumstances.

Don’t get me wrong – visualising and affirmations work well for many people. But Fox’s techniques work for everyone, when persisted in.  At the end of the day, we don’t even require a technique at all. Christ made the whole matter incredibly simple – according to him, it is all a matter of asking and believing:

Therefore I say unto you, all things whatsoever you ask when you pray, believe that you shall receive and they shall come unto you.” Mark 11:24.