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 to pinch 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 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 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.

Radical trust: an easy alternative to radical gratitude

I highly recommend the practice of radical gratitude, or being supremely thankful for absolutely everything in our lives, big and small, pleasant and unpleasant. The only problem with it is, it tends to have a steep learning curve. No matter how many times you hear that “the more thankful you are, the more you will have to be thankful for”, it’s difficult to go beyond words and produce a feeling of gratitude when you are deeply dissatisfied with the current state of your life.

And so I’m suggesting something easier: a radical trust list. Instead of a list of all the things in your life you’re thankful for, it’s a list of all the things that could have gone wrong, but didn’t. Why should this be any easier than a radical gratitude list? Allow me to back up for a moment and explain.

One of the persistent misconceptions about conscious creation, or the “law of attraction”, is that every thought that flits through our mind will bring about a corresponding external manifestation in our lives.  Some teachers realise from experience that this is an error, and so they teach that every thought experienced with feeling will bring about a corresponding manifestation in our lives. This too is an error.  These are often the same teachers who contradict themselves by telling you that you can’t manifest a particular outcome without getting into a high vibrational state first, or without following a particular precise visualisation ritual. Why do we need to follow these precise instructions if every thought manifests a physical outcome anyway?

No, we only manifest things that we deeply, subconsciously believe in. That’s why most people can’t manifest a billion dollars on their kitchen table regardless of how vividly they imagine it, and why, mercifully, that one fleeting image of horrible tragedy that floats into your mind in a moment of undisciplined thinking is equally unlikely to produce a corresponding physical result.

Deliberately produced feeling can be a spectacularly powerful way of inducing the required belief to bring about a physical manifestation, for sure, but it is the belief that does the work, not the feeling. Visualisation also helps to deeply ingrain the belief as well as fine tuning the precise details of exactly what we are expecting to produce.

Some people may object to this principle by pointing out that we do not always get what we expect. Indeed, the very word “unexpected” would be completely redundant if exactly what we expected came true all the time. The reason why our expectations and our experience suffer from discrepancies is because our subconscious beliefs do not always gel perfectly with what we consciously expect from moment to moment. For example, I may bump into a long lost childhood friend at the grocer’s tomorrow. That would be an entirely unexpected and surprising encounter. However, my deeply rooted belief is that such encounters are possible and in fact are likely to happen from time to time. Hence, my true expectation would be fulfilled, even though the specific encounter was unexpected.  No doubt I will write more on this topic in the future, but for the moment I highly recommend The Magic of Believing by Claude Bristol, which is basically the bible of this particular topic. It is easy to come across online, and not challenging to read.

Although I struggled greatly with negative thinking and expectations throughout much of my life, producing many unpleasant results along the way; one of my very deeply held subconscious beliefs was always that no genuine disasters would ever come my way. Things might not always be the way that I wanted them, but basically everything would work out OK in the end. This pattern has held true from the most trivial matters to the most grave. At the most trivial end, in my mid-teens I saved up all my allowance for months to buy a second-hand computer with a 66 megahertz processor and 16 megabytes of RAM. When I went to pick it up, I was given a free upgrade to 24 megabytes of RAM. The machine served me well and was capable of undertaking all my silly high school projects, but I recall thinking some months after buying it that a 16 megabyte machine would have been next to useless for my purposes. Spending all my savings on a useless computer and having no way to undertake all my silly projects would have been a subjective disaster indeed, to my fifteen year old self. And thus it didn’t happen.

At the gravest end, I’ve missed being run over by a car by a matter of split-seconds. I’ve missed colliding with a deer on the highway by the same margin. I’ve reversed into a BMW and left it miraculously undamaged.

When I review the potential disasters of my life and note the eventual outcomes, I see that this belief has come true 100% of the time, with no exceptions. Only once did it ever seem to fail me – and that was in my mid-30s when my fiancee split with me. A year or two later I realised that the real disaster would have been if we had gone through with the marriage. The law came faithfully true, just as always.

In my experience, most people hold this belief. It’s the remnants of a deep faith; the fragments of the knowledge of our true nature, which reasserts itself as a little voice of confidence in times of crisis. A subconscious whisper of “don’t worry, it probably won’t happen.”

Even perennial worriers can hold this belief, and that explains why usually even the most anxious people never manifest the things they are afraid of. They may cause themselves unnecessary stress, but they will not bring these things to pass unless they truly, deeply expect them to happen. Worries alone do not produce the negative energy required to bring these fears about, any more than imagining counting out vast wads of cash will make you rich. What causes them to come about is the deep subconscious expectation of their fulfillment. Most people lack the expectation of miraculous gifts coming to them, but fortunately most people also lack the belief in major disasters.

Hence if a radical gratitude list is not yet within your grasp, or even if it is, consider making a radical trust list full of all the potential disasters that never came to pass. Keep adding to it as more and more disasters get miraculously averted. Reflect upon it frequently, and day by day your trust in divine protection will increase. If, like me, you find that disasters simply don’t happen to you, then very soon you’ll be able to laugh in the face of all threatened danger. As your trust in divine providence grows, you’ll find your confidence expanding beyond the bounds of disaster-avoidance and into more proactively positive areas.

And you may just realise how much you have to be thankful for, too.

How to achieve your desires by giving up completely

This is the final part in a four-part series about the misunderstanding and misapplication of the Law of Attraction, which is prevalent in modern popular spiritual teaching. If you haven’t read the other parts, I recommend doing so before diving into this one. In part one I discussed the Law of Growth, and why we should always consider the spiritual impact of any attempts to manifest. In the second part, I discussed the need for consciousness in the manifesting process. In part three, I debunked the idea that the Law of Attraction is intended as some magic formula for material prosperity.

In the previous article, we finished with a quote from the great New Thought writer Thomas Troward, where he advised us to aim all our efforts towards a higher degree of spiritual development, rather than towards material gain. The material side of life should not be despised, he said, because the external is a symbol of the internal – but it is a by-product and not the overall aim. Bypassing all the internal growth – the wisdom, the knowledge, the true experience of peace and security and seeking only the external symbols – is attempting to short circuit the process. At best, such efforts are likely to give you flaky results. At worst, you may become proficient at dealing with spiritual forces, but lack the framework of true spiritual knowledge and virtue which is required to apply such forces safely and profitably.

In times of greater religious fervour, this latter scenario was known as sorcery – and was widely regarded as one of the most perilous paths to tread. Indeed, Troward in his book Bible Mystery and Bible Meaning, sees the flood of Noah as being a partly symbolic and partly historic event which was caused by the psychic plane becoming saturated with an abundance of competing mental forces, each seeking personal gain and being completely divorced from the harmonising spirit of growth and virtue. Even if you scoff at this interpretation as though it were a miniature Harlem witch trial, nevertheless the selfish abuse of spiritual powers has been consistently condemned by a variety of traditions throughout history. Attempting to harness spiritual powers for personal gain without the virtue that entitles us to it has been unanimously regarded as one of the most wicked paths a soul can tread. But seeking the virtue first and then enjoying whatever benefits arise, spiritual and material – well, such is the highest path of all!

Again, the material side of life should not be despised and many of the legitimate requests we make during our journey will be material ones – and that is where the Law of Attraction comes in.

Indeed, Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:7-8: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”

But the more we concern ourselves with asking for spiritual advances and insights instead of material things, the more rapid and profound our progress will be. As our consciousness ascends and we receive true spiritual insights, then the full possibilities of Christ’s words will open up to us – when we are wise enough to understand and apply them correctly. If we are weighed down with our own plans and desires instead of united to the will of the Universe, we will create resistance and suffering.

Unfortunately, the promises of easy money and the apparent successes of the prominent Law of Attraction gurus have distorted our view of this. They tell us that when we encounter resistance, it’s a sign that we need to work on ourselves, or visualise more – or cease visualising altogether and let go – or a hundred other bits of contradictory advice designed to put us in the precise mental sweet spot that will enable limitless prosperity to flow into our lives on cue.

These techniques may indeed have worked for the people teaching them, and they may work for some people who apply them – particularly if that person’s life purpose is to learn the lessons associated with material prosperity. Of course, the underpinning law never changes, but people’s aptitudes and level of evolution varies wildly. Some people are capable of generating sufficient enthusiasm and effort in order to prosper materially, while others who are more spiritually advanced simply cannot muster the motivation, the frame of mind, or the correct mindset in order to make these techniques work with the aim of material gain.

There is a huge element of self-selection at work here. In other words, the most prominent Law of Attraction teachers tend to be people whose life purpose is highly biased towards the material – whereas the people with a higher spiritual purpose and more profound spiritual insight tend to be locked away in monasteries, or at least far less concerned with self-promotion.  Hence on the major sites like YouTube, the deeper spiritual advice tends to be drowned out by the New Gospel of Prosperity.  Again, manifesting material things is absolutely possible and permitted – but such things must take their proper place in the Universe’s grand scheme for our soul.

Sadly we humans are a stubborn lot, and prone to take the path of least resistance – so when we’re promised an easy way out of suffering, we will not give up the idea willingly, even after experiencing a string of failures.  So how do we make the shift from self-seeking materialism to spiritual aspirations? Well, the only thing that has worked for me is total surrender. And I must emphasise the ‘total’ part, because there is no such thing as a partial surrender. One simply can’t say “Okay God, I give up on striving for what I want – I surrender to you, now please give it to me.” That is no surrender at all; such a person is clinging to their desires just as much as ever. It reminds me of the old joke about Murphy’s Law – it is recursive: you can’t wash the car to make it rain. And you can’t give up on your desires to make them happen – you truly have to accept that they may not happen in this lifetime. Such a genuine surrender may take a form like the following:

“Oh Universal Spirit, I have struggled and striven to attain my desires, and they are as far away as they have ever been. They have caused me nothing but misery, and will continue to do so if I hold fast to them. But what is this life in the light of eternity? When we see it for what it truly is, it will be but one night in a bad motel. If my desires cannot be attained in this life, then perhaps in the next. Or perhaps they are not good for me and will never come true. Therefore, I let them go and make way for something better. May whatever is best in the light of eternal truth be done. Now I seek only you.”

This kind of prayer, when made with complete sincerity, has the effect of pressing the “reset” button on our desires. We accept that whatever silly things we thought we needed to make us happy may actually be harmful to us. We let all of that go, and resolve to instead seek nothing but whatever is best for us – knowing with full trust and certainly that the Universal Spirit can and will provide us with our ultimate good in due course.

As I discussed in a previous article on surrender, when we truly surrender to the divine will, it has a tendency to surrender to us. But I cannot say this enough – the key is to make a genuine surrender with no ulterior motive. You must fully accept that your desire may not come true, as indeed it may not.

If you say every word in the prayer above and mean it, you truly are letting go of your own desires and putting yourself at the mercy of a higher power. The inevitable outcome of such a surrender is that you will either get the thing you originally desired, or you will get something you never desired, but which is even better. If you have truly, deeply given it up and detached from it, then maybe you will get that ten bedroom mansion – but you won’t even care if you don’t. And it’s more likely that such extravagant desires won’t be fulfilled, but the inner peace and joy you will feel will make up for it many times over.

Many Law of Attraction teachers teach this same principle by stating that we need to remain neutral about our desires in order to attract them. But this de-spiritualises the process and turns it into a mechanical formula, whereas the neutrality you are seeking is a deep, complete trust and hope in whatever the Universe decides to send you – without the ulterior motive of attracting anything specific. We are seeking to become something, rather than to attract something.

Distilled down, this is the essential basis of all Christian, Taoist, Buddhist and Hindu teaching – we find true peace and happiness by raising our minds and hearts to higher states of virtue and purity. Seeking material prosperity as a means of happiness is a stark departure from centuries of consistent spiritual teaching. Of course, once we are in a higher state of vibration then material prosperity is easier to come by – but it won’t have the same chokehold over us as it once did.

So fill your day with thoughts of security, peace, love, fun, confidence, happiness, and any other spiritual influences you feel the need of. Note that I said spiritual influences – you want to feel the essence of the energy back of all your desires. So if you desire more money, for example, please don’t listen to those people who tell you to breathe in the scent of money or imagine counting out hundred dollar notes in your hands. No doubt this works for people who approach it with exactly the right mindset, but for the majority of people it will simply inflame more desire and cause more fruitless searching and book-buying when it doesn’t work as advertised. Instead, ask what you are really searching for through money. Is it security? If so, feel a deep sense of solid, grounded safety. Is it knowing that your needs will be taken care of? If so, feel a deep sense of providence and provision. Feel the truth of Christ’s words in Matthew 6:30-31:

“And if the grass of the field, which is today, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, God doth so clothe: how much more you, O ye of little faith? Be not concerned therefore, saying: What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed?”

Begin to truly feel all these energies. But here is the crucial part: feel them for no other reason than because they feel good, and place you in a positive frame of mind.

Please take a moment to understand this correctly. We are not doing this to attract anything into our lives. We are doing this to feel like a secure, peaceful person who is taken care of by providence. By incorporating these feelings into our daily life, we are creating a new framework – a spiritual reality – that is based upon thoughts and feelings of a high vibration, instead of the limiting, low vibrational thoughts and feelings that created our previous reality. By stepping into this new framework, we open the door to new and positive influences to be attracted into our life. But anything we may attract is merely the icing on the cake – we are seeking a positive spiritual framework for its own sake, and nothing else.

If all this is confusing, please read it again and meditate upon it until it begins to make sense. At first, this may seem like an impossible tightrope walk – trying to counteract the opposing forces of non-desire and achievement while remaining upright and poised. But the truth is so much simpler – give up the tightrope act altogether. Give up the desire, accept that your life is what it is and ask the Boss to show you the way. He’s only waiting for your surrender to give you a peace and a happiness far beyond what all those silly childish desires could ever give you.

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.

Turning a crisis into a spiritual opportunity

Let me begin by coming right out and saying it: the real pandemic happening on our planet is the pandemic of fear. Unfortunately, it is highly contagious. The number of people infected and the reported symptoms of the Coronavirus do not even begin to justify the mass hysteria we are currently experiencing, and certainly not the drastic responses of global governments. I’ll leave you to figure out the true motivation behind these governmental measures for yourself. But whenever a totally and utterly illogical response like this occurs in society, you could do far worse than to ask yourself that ancient question: “Cui bono?” – Who benefits?

There are specific lessons we come here to learn which apply directly to our own lives and to no-one else’s. And then there are the universal lessons of compassion for others, trust in the universe, gratitude and the ability to adapt and flow. An hysterical crisis like this gives us the opportunity to learn all of these essential, universal lessons rapidly. It may be uncomfortable, but it may also be the best thing for us and for society.

For all its positive aspects, this strange period of history has a tendency to make many of us in the first world into creatures of habit, and just a little too comfortable with our uneventful existences.  Just the fact that most of us can walk into an air-conditioned building and buy practically all the groceries we ever need under a single roof, with reasonable confidence that they will all be available is an unusual luxury, and one that has made many of us soft and complacent. Having that luxury taken away – at least temporarily – gives us some exciting spiritual opportunities.

While there’s currently no lack of food, specific types of food can be hard to come by. Around here, eggs are as rare as the teeth of the hens that lay them. But yesterday I managed to get my hands on two dozen eggs, and boy was I thankful. If we suddenly feel compelled to celebrate all the things we used to take for granted, something profoundly good will have come out of this. Quite simply, we’ve had it too good for too long, and we’ve started to take things for granted. Spiritual growth stagnates with too much comfort.

If it gets to the point where my daily bacon and eggs ritual is no longer possible, then it will be a great lesson in flexibility. Sometimes, our habits become addictions without us realising. Other times they may not be an addiction, but may inhibit our growth by keeping us comfortable. This would be a minor inconvenience in the scale of things, but there may be greater inconveniences to come. Let’s all try to accept them in a spirit of resignation, knowing that our higher selves are fully alert and in control of our destinies. Even if panic buying turns into genuine shortages, we will be provided for materially by the infinite abundance of the universe. Learning trust and faith is another welcome opportunity this crisis presents to us.  I think it’s appropriate to quote here the eternal words of Christ from the sermon on the mount:

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).

And while further societal disharmony may be on the way, there is also the potential for greater levels of kindness and compassion too, and I daresay I’ve already witnessed that amongst the chaos. Even as the media promotes the idea that supermarket riots are a daily occurrence, I’ve noticed the opposite is true so far. People in my area seem to be taking extra care to be courteous towards others when forced to be in close contact. I’ve been in a couple of packed supermarkets where free movement was restricted, and there were many apologies and offers of right of way – exactly the opposite of what the media led me to expect. Today I saw a young man reach down and grab the last packet of toilet paper – more precious than gold around here – from the lowest shelf and hand it to a grateful old lady.

The media is priming us for a global lockdown – and while this is completely unjustifiable for something no more deadly (and perhaps less so) than the common flu, it may have unexpected benefits. If we are expected to physically isolate in our own homes, then people will be forced to spend more time with their families. They may begin to talk to their neighbours again. Communities may re-emerge.

I can only hope that once people realise the extent of the lies we have been told through the mass media, many will begin to take what they read with a grain of salt – or disconnect altogether. If this is what’s required to take humanity to the next step of evolution, bring it on. The big lessons in life are never comfortable, but this one has been long overdue.

Above all else, I like to remember that whatever happens down here can only happen by order of higher powers in the spiritual realm. The means by which it is accomplished may appear highly questionable in the temporal sense, but the ultimate destination can only be the right one, because it was ordained by above.

All is well, and we are safe.