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.

Physical immortality – the folly of New Thought

Although New Thought is the spiritual and intellectual movement with which I most closely identify, one aspect of it has always bugged me – the widespread belief in the possibility of physical immortality. Even certain great thinkers within the movement for whom I have a great respect fell victim to this folly. Yet to my knowledge, all of them died.

The belief seems to stem from a misunderstanding of Christ’s repeated promises of eternal life, and the specious assumption that death can have no legitimate place in a universe that is entirely life-affirmative by its nature. Physical death is purely a construct of our belief systems, they tell us. And yet plants and animals die, and they have no conscious belief systems. They die because it is a fact of nature that physical forms in our current plane of existence are temporary. If they were permanent, a dog would be stuck as a dog forever and have no opportunity to evolve beyond it.

Tragically, getting too deep into the physical immortality thing can be a great way of going off the deep end. Late in his career Charles Fillmore, founder of the New Thought movement Unity Church, was clearly undeterred by the palpable signs of ageing that were overtaking his body, and became convinced that he was immortal. He also betrayed certain other signs of his own mental instability, including believing that he was the reincarnation of St. Paul.

Fillmore and others fell victim to one of the errors I’ve previously written about. In order to successfully manifest anything, we need to possess a level of consciousness equal to the thing being manifested. Modern Law of Attraction teachers suggest that all we have to do is believe hard enough, and the thing will come to us. This is true for small favours within the reach of our consciousness – if you believe it will come to you, then it probably will. Driving all contrary thoughts out of your mind to the point where you become deeply intellectually and emotionally convinced that a certain thing is true is typically enough to manifest ordinary physical events – like a monetary gain, a house, a job, a relationship and so on. It is not sufficient to enable you to walk on water or stick your hand through the wall. It is certainly not enough to halt the ageing process and make you physically immortal. To manifest such things requires a level of consciousness far beyond the intellectual and emotional levels. It requires the type of deep spiritual KNOWING that Sydney Banks always wrote in capital letters.

Fillmore clearly did not understand this, and he remained convinced that discarding death from his belief system was enough to remove it from his reality. It was not, and he died in 1948. The level of consciousness required to escape physical death is, I believe, beyond attainment on our current plane of being. Or at least, it is so extraordinarily difficult to attain that it does not even bear thinking about.

That does not mean a soul that descends to the earth plane from some higher realm is strictly bound by the physical laws of this plane. Christ, I assume, could have easily returned from whence he came without subjecting himself to physical death – yet he subjected himself to it anyway. And we, being souls naturally born into this plane, and presently belonging to it – have no business supposing it should be any different for us. Like Christ we must die a physical death – and once we are ready, having gained all that we can from this plane and having attained the required consciousness – we shall discard our decaying physical bodies and slip seamlessly from this physical plane into the purely spiritual, maintaining our consciousness all the way. Eternal life indeed, since the only real death is the slipping into semi-consciousness that occurs when our objective (conscious) mind is severed from the subjective (subconscious) mind at death.

When we die, it is not the physical termination of the body that constitutes the real death. But our conscious personality really does die, unless we have sufficient understanding to take it with us when we cross over. If we do not, then all that remains is the subjective (subconscious) mind, containing our core beliefs and patterns. Whatever beliefs and patterns are contained within will shape our afterlife for a period of time. We shall live in a dream of our own subconscious creation, being incapable of initiating new trains of thought and thus caught in a loop of our own creation, until such time as the Universal Spirit deems that this state has served its purpose; then rebirth occurs. The loop may be positive or negative depending on the dominant nature of our beliefs – hence the many accounts of near-death experiences and encounters with ghosts caught in heaven or hell states. Good or bad, it is nevertheless a dreamlike limbo where we lack conscious volition, and therefore cannot initiate new trains of causation. For Troward, the intervention of some enlightened being who crossed over with its consciousness intact is required to bring such a soul out of this state. Or theoretically, anyone on earth could also assist in the matter by praying scientifically for the departed – from whence comes the concept of praying for the dead, or praying through some celestial intercessor for the dead.

Personally, I do not accept that the intervention of any third party is required to bring a soul out of this state, even though it may be of assistance. The forward evolutionary momentum inherent in the life-giving tendency of the Universal Spirit is enough to force us into a new incarnation, once the time is right. To suppose that we could ever get stuck seems to be a denial of this eternal momentum.  The Spirit does everything to ensure that we don’t get stuck, including erasing our memory from our previous life, lest our past modes of thinking should reassert themselves too readily.

Refer to The Creative Process in the Individual Chapter 8 and Bible Mystery and Bible Meaning Chapter 12 for Troward’s full teaching on this. In the former, Troward writes:

…Substance is a necessity for the expression of Spirit, but it does not follow that Spirit is tied down to any particular mode of expression. If you fold a piece of paper into the form of a dart it will fly through the air by the law of the form which you have given it. Again, if you take the same bit of paper and fold it into the shape of a boat it will float on water by the law of the new form that you have given it. The thing formed will act in accordance with the form given it, and the same paper can be folded into different forms; but if there were no paper you could put it into any shape at all.

The dart and the boat are both real so long as you retain the paper in either of those shapes; but this does not alter the fact that you can change the shapes, though your power to do so depends on the existence of the paper. This is a rough analogy of the relation between ultimate substance and particular forms, and shows us that neither substance nor shape is an illusion; both are essential to the manifestation of Spirit, only by the nature of the Creative Process the Spirit has power to determine what shape substance shall take at any particular time.

Accordingly we find the great Law that, as Spirit is the Alpha of the Creative Process, so solid material Form is its Omega; in other words the Creative Series is incomplete until solid material form is reached. Anything short of this is a condition of incompleteness, and therefore the enlightened souls who have passed over in possession of both sides of their mentality will realize that their condition, however beatific, is still one of incompleteness; and that what is wanted for completion is expression through a material body. This, then, is the direction in which such souls would use their powers of initiative and selection as being the true line of evolution–in a word they would realize that the principle of Creative Progression, when it reaches the level of fully developed mental man, necessarily implies the Resurrection of the Body, and that anything short of this would be retrogression and not progress.

At the same time persons who had passed over with this knowledge would never suppose that Resurrection meant merely the resuscitation of the old body under the old conditions; for they would see that the same inherent law which makes expression in concrete substance the ultimate of the creative series also makes this ultimate form depend on the originating movement of the spirit which produces it, and therefore that, although some concrete form is essential for complete manifestation, and is a substantial reality so long as it is maintained, yet the maintaining of the particular form is entirely dependent on the action of the spirit of which the form is the external clothing. This resurrection body would therefore be no mere illusory spirit-shape, yet it would not be subject to the limitations of matter as we now know it: it would be physical matter still, but entirely subject to the will of the indwelling spirit, which would not regard the denser atomic relations of the body but only its absolute and essential nature as Primary Substance.”

Individualised spirit is incomplete without a physical form. And thus, our bodies shall be resurrected after death – whether by reincarnation on the earth plane, or if we cross over with our consciousness intact, we will choose to reconstitute our bodies through an act of will. Christ told us as much when he resurrected his body after three days – the supreme demonstration of Christ as the model of perfected humanity. And thus, like Christ, even perfected humanity will still pass through physical death – but the dissolution of the body shall not be permanent. It shall be reconstituted, though not in the same dense, mortal form that we now find it.

I close with the alleged dying words of the Buddha. I’ve previously shared my reservations about certain teachings of Buddhism, and some of them are even evident in this quote. Nevertheless it’s hard to deny that he had a high level of spiritual understanding. The following quote is reproduced in the book The Emerald Tablet – Alchemy of Personal Transformation by Dennis William Hauck, and it attributes the information on Buddha to the Encyclopedia Britannica, The Teaching of Buddha by Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and The Elements of Buddhism by John Snelling. It does not reference the original Buddhist text from which the quote originates. So like a lot of Buddhist quotes, the attribution is somewhat nebuluous – take it or leave it.

Do not weep, dear friend. Have I not told you that Separation is inevitable from all near and dear to us? Whatever is born, produced, conditioned, contains within itself the nature of its own Dissolution. It cannot be otherwise.” To the others gathered around him, he said: “Do not forget that death is only the end of the physical body. The body was born from parents and was nourished by food; just as inevitable are sickness and death. But the true Buddha is not a human body—it is enlightenment. A human body must die, but the wisdom of enlightenment will exist forever in the truth of the Dharma and in the practice of the Dharma. He who sees merely my body does not truly see me. Only he who accepts my teaching truly sees me. After my death, the Dharma shall be your teacher. Follow the Dharma and you will be true to me. I have withheld nothing from my teachings. There is no secret teaching, no hidden meaning; everything has been taught openly and clearly. My dear disciples, this is the end. In a moment, I shall be passing into Nirvana.”

How do psychics predict the future, unless the future is fixed?

Let me begin answering this thorny question with a categorical declaration: the future is absolutely not fixed! As we will discover throughout the course of the article, many events are highly predictable – even highly likely without drastic intervention – but none is fixed or inevitable.

How then do psychics manage to predict the future, often in minute detail, unless at least some aspects of our lives are preordained? There are several different explanations for this, ranging from the mundane to the highly metaphysical. Let’s start with the most mundane.

Let’s suppose I visit a two-bit gypsy psychic at a carnival, and she tells me that sometime in the next month, I’m going to meet a beautiful woman with long strawberry blonde hair. Although I may have doubts about her authenticity, still, being a single man this is a thought that I might very much like to come true. Even in spite of some doubts, it is possible that the gypsy’s prediction may set up enough curiosity and anticipation to make the event come to pass. Naturally a more credulous customer may accept the suggestion with even less resistance, and make its fulfillment even more likely. Hence the gypsy psychic is simply using the Law of Attraction on behalf of the client. The meeting with the beautiful blonde was not preordained, but rather was set up by the thought planted in the client’s head.

The second type of psychic prediction is one that many people have experienced first hand. It is a precognition of something that comes to pass shortly afterwards. We may think of a friend we haven’t heard from for some time, then soon after we receive a phone call from them. We may get a song stuck in our head, and then it gets played on the radio soon afterwards. Once the ability is honed, we may be able to consciously predict a person’s course of action, or even the outcome of sporting events, elections and so on.

All of this is easily explainable, and does not require any belief in the fixedness of the future. In all these examples, the future event had already been determined in advance of the outcome being known to the public. For example, radio playlists are typically created in advance – meaning that the decision to play a certain song had already been made before the song was actually played. The long-lost friend had probably thought of us already and made a decision to contact us before they actually dialed the number. The person receiving the premonition has merely detected the energy of this decision psychically before the event has actually taken place.

Even predicting the outcome of sporting events and elections can be explained in this way. Most people have already made up their mind how they will vote well before they actually cast their ballot. Similarly, any number of factors can make a sporting team energetically weaker or stronger than their opposition, even in spite of their perceived form or recent record. If the margin is sufficiently strong, then the energetically stronger team is almost a dead certainty to win. Again, the outcome is still not fixed – but it would require a massive shift in the energy levels of the two teams for the outcome to change.

The third method of predicting the future is the method used by all genuinely skilled psychic practitioners. In order to understand it fully, you must have some basic grasp of the nature of the universal spirit. It is an infinite, impersonal, impartial energy that seeks nothing but the communication of itself in every-expanding and evolving forms of expression. Because it is infinite in every conceivable way, one can view it as already containing the potential outcome of every possible course of action within itself – or if you prefer, you can simply view it as infinitely intelligent and therefore able to calculate every possible outcome of every possible decision that anyone could ever make.

Since the second option is easier to get our heads around, let’s go with that.

Many of the greatest psychics in the world – if not all of them – attribute their sometimes startlingly accurate predictions to this characteristic of the Universal Spirit. A now forgotten and reputedly brilliant psychic Richard Ireland, who was once world famous, writes about it in his book Your Psychic Potential – A Guide to Psychic Development. Many others have written about it in Law of Attraction texts. The infinite intelligence of the universe knows exactly what is required to bring a set of circumstances into physical reality, even if it is required to draw the means from the ends of the earth. Ireland referred to the mental state where the infinite intelligence of the universe meets the psychic realm as ‘A-one-ness psi’. He writes:

“I have often referred to A-one-ness psi as the most reliable activity of the psychic because of its ability to deal effectively with totalities. It is concerned with the entire matrix of people, places and things that combine to create a complex event and not concerned with just an individual element of that event. The point I am leading to is that A-one-ness psi, with its comprehensive grasp of probabilities, is predominately precognitive. A-one-ness psi provides a projection of the future on the basis of existing probabilities. In arranging and assessing these probabilities it resembles a computer. In fact, a deeper understanding of A-one-ness psi can be gained by comparing its operation to that of an automatic data processor.”

In other words, the universe knows exactly what the results of every decision we make are likely to be, as well as all the flow-on effects and all the results of all the consequent decisions resulting from each choice we make. Like an infinite calculator, inconceivably more powerful than the combined processing power of every computer on earth, it can also predict our most probable response to various circumstances and stimuli – and thereby predict with tremendous accuracy an entire chain of events, sometimes stretching forward for years. However, like the methods used for forecasting weather, the further into the future the predictions are, the more variables come into play. This means that the accuracy of the predictions necessarily decreases as time goes on. But predictions made in this way tend to be unnervingly accurate when confined to the upcoming year or two, provided the psychic is sufficiently skilled. Once an event has been foreseen, it generally requires a dramatic change of tack for it to be altogether avoided.

It should be noted that the more we advance in consciousness, the more we move away from base, animalistic instincts and reactive decisions – and consequently, the less predictable our behaviours become. Otherwise imagine the sort of existence led by a Christ or a Buddha – such accurate, detailed powers of psychic perception as they must possess would render them mere automatons, doomed to act out the scripts they had foreseen for themselves.

But people who lack the higher intellectual and spiritual faculties can be predicted in some detail by the skilled psychic, even when placed in entirely hypothetical situations. For example, a skilled psychic could rapidly scan through the first year or so of a person’s career in a particular job, before they had even applied for that job. Such a psychic can even put two people together in a hypothetical marriage and visualise what this relationship would look like.

Spirituality never demands that we abandon rationality, nor submit ourselves blindly to a mystery. Even some of the most perplexing questions have a rational explanation, and I am forever being astonished by all the spiritual phenomena that once seemed an unfathomable mystery to me, which I now understand at least to the point where I am no longer gnawed at by impossible questions. Of course I am not so naive as to think that everything in the universe can be grasped by the rational mind, but there is still so much unnecessary mystery and confusion surrounding what are really quite basic, routine functions of the human soul – even though most people have not yet discovered them.

Our futures can be foreseen only to the extent that we allow our predictable animalistic natures to tie us down. The future is not fixed, and there is no such thing as fate or destiny, other than our shared destinies to become fully conscious, individualised forms of the Universal Spirit.

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.

How the Universe evolves the world using the path of least resistance

Last week I wrote about the common spiritual understanding that the Law of Attraction will always follow the path of least resistance to manifest ideas into reality. I then expanded on this concept and showed that the Universal Spirit uses the path of least resistance to slowly evolve our souls into the perfection that he envisaged for us from the beginning of time. In this second part of the article, I will examine how the Spirit uses the same path of least resistance to evolve the physical world as a whole.

As I explained last week, God’s grand plan of perfected humanity and a glorious perfected physical world are, of course, nothing but his own perfect visualisation gradually unfolding into physical manifestation. There is no reason at all to assume that this divine power of creative visualisation operates any differently when it is used on the individual scale or on the universal scale. It is precisely the same faculty operating on a vastly different scale – as, after all, we are made in the image and likeness of God. Therefore, the creation of perfected human souls expressing the individualised glory of God, and the creation of a perfected world expressing the same both gradually unfold via the path of least resistance.

Once we understand this – and along with it, the impersonal indifference of God on the universal scale – it is impossible to view worldly circumstances as anything other than the slow but perfect unfolding of this grand plan. We are exactly where we ought to be at the present moment, and the world is exactly where it ought to be, also. A deep understanding of these truths will bring us peace and any worry or excitement about the state of the world will cease.

Worry or excitement about the state of the world are really just expressions of our own human preferences about how the world should be. Virtually since Jesus was crucified, Christians have been predicting that the end was nigh. And although New Thought, as a public and organised movement, goes back a far shorter period than dogmatic Christianity, New Thought writers have ever predicted that the Great Awakening was imminent.  Yet from the peak of the New Thought movement a century ago until now, society seems to have declined sharply in consciousness by most quantifiable measures – even the standard of spiritual thought seems to have taken a dive. Admittedly, even the early New Thought movement had its “get rich quick” set, who painted the Universe as nothing more than an infinite ATM – but intellectually solid, scholarly men like Thomas Troward also enjoyed a significant following, and true spiritual men like Joseph Benner were making an impact in their own way.

I can’t even begin to imagine how disheartened Troward would have been if he could’ve gazed into a crystal ball and seen the world that produced TikTok and Justin Bieber. He could only have wondered what on earth had gone wrong, and whatever happened to the glorious dawning of the New Age. And yet even in this disordered mess of a society, which at first glance appears to be crumbling into intellectual, spiritual and artistic ruin – many, many more people are getting a first taste of true spiritual principles than possibly ever before. So is it the great awakening, or is it the end times? Or are we simply witnessing a series of opposing trend forces, some of which are trending towards disintegration and others of which are slowly trending towards truth and consciousness?

We are witnessing the latter, and all of these trends are following the path of least resistance. It’s just like our example last week – the Universal Spirit guides an individual soul in its evolution by exploiting its weaknesses, waiting for the soul’s reaction after things become unbearable – relying on its hatred of suffering to ensure the soul claws its way out of the pit – then waiting for things to become unbearable again. Society is just a collection of individual souls, and so it works exactly the same way.

But of course, some people in society have more power than others, and therefore more influence over its direction. By the very nature of the case, the people who rise to positions of power tend to be in a relatively low state of evolution, where the lust for material and worldly gain are the first priority, and high-minded principles are a distant second, if they come into the equation at all. Being born into the right families and knowing the right people also helps a great deal to get along in this world, and it is a simple matter for the Spirit to ensure that only people at a worldly stage of evolution are born into these families.

The reason why the world must presently be governed by this class is because we have not yet evolved to a stage where it can be governed by a wise and benevolent power – the people simply would not co-operate with it. Witness the treatment of Jesus. Until we are at a point where we can consciously and fruitfully direct the evolution of the planet, we must be forcefully subject to the tides of the Universal Will, ever directing us on towards our perfection, and ever indifferent to the method employed.

The easiest way for the Universal Spirit to force society onward is to appeal to the base instincts of the worldly status seekers in positions of power. Hence, since the beginning of time virtually all political leaders with any significant influence in the world have been amoral kleptomaniacs, brazenly acting in self interest at all times and regarding the good of the people as a matter of secondary importance, at best. This has never been more obvious than at the present day, when governments all around the world are selling out their own countries to serve global financial interests, without a moment’s pause. In virtually all countries in the world, the betrayal of the citizens is now so thorough and egregious that politicians barely even maintain a facade of representing their own constituents.

Again, God is using their base instincts to lead the world in a certain direction – in this case, creating a global system which will in time be used to bring truth and freedom to the whole world. Whether we see this framework used for good within our own lifetime, or whether it takes centuries or millennia is none of our concern. It is all part of a Grand Plan that cannot fail – and whatever events take place within that Grand Plan – whether they be joys or sorrows – will be used to further our own soul’s evolution.

However, it cannot have failed to escape anyone with their eyes open that the pace of change seems to be rapidly accelerating, especially over the past two years. For the people in power, this appears to be a great tactical blunder, caused by their exponentially increasing greed and impatience. For it is true that they now have tighter controls over the population than ever before, but more people are awake to their true designs than ever, also. Hence, we see the first rays of light shining at the end of what perhaps may have looked like an endless tunnel of darkness. Again, it may be some time before any significant awakening occurs, but the mechanisms are clear. Presently, most people find that self-delusion and complacency are the paths of least resistance, but in the past two years, many complacent people have realised that it is more painful to continue to delude themselves than it is to admit the truth and begin to do something about it. For these people, self-honesty and action is now the path of least resistance. When the remainder of society decides the same thing, then change will come.

Yes, everything happening in the world, no matter how distasteful to human preferences it may seem, will eventually set in motion an opposite reaction that will change things for the better. Allow me to give a couple of random examples.

The sexual appetites of society used to be governed by religious dogma, and then later by societal conventions loosely based on these same dogmas. Thus, for most people the path of least resistance was to get married and live a respectable life – thereby enabling them to indulge their sexual appetites and remain in good standing with wider society. However, the sexual revolution in the mid 20th century changed all that, and made ungoverned sexual behaviour an acceptable fact of society. Without religious and societal expectations to govern people’s actions, the path of least resistance naturally became the path of indulgence. The result of this was that marriage and true love declined while divorce skyrocketed, as did STDs, unwanted pregnancies and shameless promiscuity. After high speed internet was invented, many people – mostly men – found themselves hopelessly addicted to porn and lacking motivation to form real relationships or do anything else with their lives, so all-consuming had the addiction become.

At this point, many men found that the path of indulgence had become too painful, and that the new path of least resistance was abstinence from pornography, since it seemed to carry with it many overall benefits to their lives. The number of abstainers may still be minuscule compared to the number of users, but it is significant, and growing. When such people learn to govern their sexual behaviour, they are doing so with a profound understanding of the reasons behind this self-restraint. Once this understanding becomes widespread, society as a whole will have a far greater reverence for sexual purity than blind obedience to a religious dogma could ever have taught it. Thus, the original descent into sexual anarchy was a stepping stone to society’s greater evolution.

Corporate greed gives us another great example of the shifting tide. Many large companies are now refusing to hire full time staff, preferring instead to use the services of contractors, as it absolves them of any legal obligation to provide benefits to their workforce, and makes cutbacks and layoffs much simpler. Many companies are even cutting back on office space to save on rent, and expecting staff to work from home on a regular basis. In the short term, this appears to be a gross infringement of worker’s rights, and work from home arrangements appear to be unhealthy, unnatural and potentially isolating.

For a great many people, being a wage slave to a corporation was the safest path to take in life – the path of least resistance.  But many contractors are now finding that is no longer the case, and as such they are beginning to awaken to the truth, which is that the corporations need them a lot more than they need the corporations. Many are beginning to see themselves as free agents, able to set their own conditions, and refusing to work with companies who cannot meet these conditions. Working from home has given them the first taste of flexible working arrangements, which can be beneficial to their mental health when proper precautions are taken and their social needs are met. Many are beginning to feel, for the first time, that they are not slaves to a corporation but businessmen, selling themselves as the product. This growing consciousness of their own power and worth will no doubt lead to even further circumventing of large corporations in the future. Thus, by following the path of least resistance – greed – these corporations have set trains of consequences in motion that will eventually bring their downfall.

I could go on and on with such examples, and probably will do so in a future article. But for the sake of brevity, I shall leave it at that and conclude with some comments about where we presently find society on the scale of consciousness, specifically the Hawkins scale of consciousness expounded in the book Power vs. Force.

Just as the evolution of a soul will always follow the path described by Hawkins’ scale, so will society follow the same course. The various levels below 200 on the scale are designated as “force”, or the stage where individuals are at the mercy of circumstances, and have not yet discovered their true inner power. On a societal level, this phase corresponds to all of human history up until this point. The majority of human history has been dominated by organised religion, and in a religious society, the path of least resistance is the path of obedience to dogma.

Christianity primarily used fear to control people’s behaviour. Of course there are many different levels of adherence to Christianity, and it would be unfair to deny that it inspired many into advanced spiritual states. But the predominant force that influenced most of its adherents was fear. Buddhism and Hinduism did the same in the east – inspiring many in total to great spiritual heights, and controlling the masses with superstitious threats about karmic consequences. After the wholesale abandonment of organised religion in the 20th century, we entered this brief, inevitable period of base indulgence, where sex, food and mindless entertainment seem to form the basis of most people’s happiness. But the resurgence of interest in New Thought principles in the last 20 years has shown that, as a society, we have evolved beyond that state. Most of us will not be content to derive meaning from base desires for very long. Most people are actually very unhappy living in this state, and many are seeking higher answers. For the first time in history, those answers are available.

Most will not seek the highest answers, as we are now only moving into the earliest stages of personal empowerment, where worldly achievements are the main goal.  But as people grow in power, their ascent up the scale of consciousness tends to accelerate, as powers add to powers and they begin to evolve more rapidly. Hence we have every reason to expect that the next phases of the world’s evolution will be more rapid than the first. But as we are perhaps only now breaking through the level of 200 – a process which will take some time in itself – be aware that we still have a long way to go before we even get to the intellectual level, or Reason, which begins at 400, let alone the advanced spiritual levels.

Many excited New Agers have already declared that the intellectual phase is over – it was tried during the Enlightenment phase, and was found wanting because it was not united to spirituality. But all true intellectualism is in harmony with spirituality, and any philosophical reasoning that denies spirituality or affirms the meaninglessness of life is a product of the levels below 200. The Enlightenment was an arrogant and vain intellectual movement that attempted to replace the laws of nature with laws of man’s own devising, instead of understanding and working with the natural order. No-one in the levels above 400 could have any possible use for it.

But wherever society happens to be on the scale of consciousness, let us always be at peace with what is happening in the world, even though many things may look dire to human preferences. No negative train of causation can remain long in the world before it generates a positive backlash, all leading us towards our destiny of a perfected society.

In next week’s article I will expand on this point, and show how living in a state of resignation can bring us peace.

How the Universe uses the path of least resistance to move us forward

The Universal Spirit – which is God in universal, non-limited form – is completely indifferent to the preferences of man. I’ve discussed it many times in previous articles, and shan’t repeat myself here. Its only “will”, or rather its very nature, is to communicate its life ever more abundantly and in more and greater forms. It is no respecter of persons nor of feelings – it will communicate its life in the easiest way possible, always through the path of least resistance.

In fact, the path of least resistance is the way everything comes into the physical universe.  One of the reasons why Law of Attraction teachers insist on visualising the specific details of the thing we want to manifest is because the Law, being indifferent to human preferences, also tends to take things rather literally. The classic example is that of the person that wants to lose 10 kilos but does not specifically visualise themselves with a slim body – focusing only on the loss of the weight – who then gets into an accident and loses 10 kilos worth of leg.

Whether this has ever actually happened or not, there is a truth behind it – the universe always carries out its designs by the path of least resistance. If you ask for money, it’s not going to manifest as a lottery win, because the odds against that are astronomical. It’s far more likely to come as a promotion, or a $50 note found on the ground, or some other small windfall. These are a mere trifle to the universe, whereas a lottery win would require the overcoming of tremendous levels of resistance – both within ourselves and also within the laws of mathematics – and such can only be manifested by someone with an extremely high level of consciousness. And a person in such a state of consciousness would be far beyond the temptations of money and the need to stockpile vast sums of it.

We’ve discussed in previous articles how the universe and humanity are really just manifestations of the thought of God. God, or the Universal Spirit, is the thinker, while we and the material universe are the thought. Just as the Spirit will use the path of least resistance to bring our own thoughts into concrete manifestation, it does the same with its own thoughts. Its grand thought for us and for the material universe is one of complete perfection, where everyone is a living representation of the perfection of God, but in individualised, limited form.

God does not care how we get there – he will use any circumstances available at that particular moment, whether good or bad to human preferences – to move us in the right direction. For example, souls in the lowest state of evolution are more inclined towards the basest fears and desires. Therefore, the Spirit will use threats against their safety and security as an incentive to move them towards developing these areas. The next temptation that comes into play in the course of a soul’s multi-lifetime evolution is the allure of base pleasures – primarily food and sex. Needles to say, dangling these two enticements in front of a soul to get it to move in a certain direction is likely to produce very little resistance.

Eventually though, the soul indulges in far more than its fair share of sensual gratification. It begins to feel the consequences of its decisions, which may come in the form of diseases caused by the overindlgence of the senses, or the boredom and ennui that always follows the excessive indulging of desires. The pain of this empty existence prompts the soul to seek something new, and typically it looks one step higher towards worldly achievements. Again, it may take several lifetimes to achieve – but eventually, after all the success has come and gone, the pain of remaining in an empty life of accolades and achievements becomes the path of greater resistance, and the soul seeks a way out. It does so through its mind – and hence it slips into the intellectual phase with very little resistance.

The intellectual phase is fraught with many potent dangers. Firstly, it’s not quite so obviously shallow and empty as the previous stages. Indeed, it may seem at first to be a worthwhile end in itself, since it is the highest level of man on the purely natural level, and developing the intellect is indeed one important aspect of our evolution. Secondly, it tends to produce pride and stubbornness, since the intellectual man – seeing apparent signs of stupidity all around him – is wont to consider himself at the highest end of human development.

In its more extreme stages, the intellectual phase may even deny spirituality altogether – leading to perhaps one of the darkest phases in a soul’s evolution. This is the phase where life seems utterly pointless and empty, but the soul now has the intellectual means to fully grasp the depth of its emptiness. At this point, many souls despair of finding meaning in the world. Many of them sink back into sensuality as a crutch, to deal with the pain of the emptiness. At this point of the soul’s career it may even sink into utter depravity, in a vain attempt to find some sort of liberation through the transcending of the human limitations of morality – hence the dissipation of intellectual libertines like the Marquis de Sade. Others seek to further intellectualise their misery to somehow make sense of it. Hence Schopenhauer and a million other gloomy peddlers of nonsense.

But eventually the dawn breaks. This miserable state of emptiness and arrogance becomes too painful to bear. Turning to God becomes the path of least resistance, and the soul cries out “God, rescue me from the prison of my own mind!” When the soul seeks earnestly, then the true spiritual nature awakens – the love nature.

The greater access to spiritual knowledge has led to an explosion of interest in the Law of Attraction and much other spiritual knowledge, most of it geared towards material gain and manifesting various exciting human experiences. That’s fine, as the worldly stage is one phase of the journey, and an inevitable one. The greater access to this knowledge will speed many souls on their journey through the material phase into the intellectual phase and then the spiritual phase. But do not mistake it for the ultimate aim of the spiritual life. The spiritual life is not about “abundance”. It is not about “manifesting your dream life” or “living whatever experiences you choose to create”. These are mere carrots on a stick, held out to us at a certain phase to move us along our inevitable journey.

If you instinctively feel that you are destined for something higher, and that riches and worldly gain cannot truly satisfy you, then please look beyond what the world is presently offering and seek the guidance of the true Teacher within.

In my next article, I will discuss how the Universal Spirit uses the path of least resistance to drive the state of the wider world.

Joseph Benner on the “Money is spiritual” lie

Joseph Benner is one of the few modern spiritual writers whose teachings clearly betray an advanced spiritual state.  That is not to disparage all other modern writers, of course, because many of them have vast riches of wisdom and knowledge to share. But Benner was next level – he was beyond the temptations of money and fame, even publishing all his books under the pen name “Anonymous”.

In the following article, “Mammon”, from his remarkable guide to enlightenment, The Way to the Kingdom**, Benner says essentially what I’ve said on this blog a number of times before – money is neutral. It is not inherently evil, but it is certainly not to be regarded as an aim of the spiritual life, and indeed the love of money is one of the major roadblocks on the spiritual path.

If you are determined to maintain the chief error of the modern age, the “Money is spiritual” lie, then read no further, as Benner’s article will only make you uncomfortable. None of it was news to me, and even so it made me consider deeply my own priorities.

We wonder how many realize what a mighty power Mammon has become in the world—in fact that he seemingly rules the world. If you do not realize it as yet, consider what follows, and then perhaps you will agree that there are very few indeed who are not under Mammon’s sway, who do not fear him, and who are wholly free from his power.

First look around among your friends and note how money, or the possession of it, means everything to them. Without it they are “looked down upon” by those who have it. With plenty of it, especially if they spend it freely, they are “good fellows.” Those with a superabundance of it are “looked up to” with more or less awe by those who have less or little, while others bow and cater to them, deem them a great success, and generally consider them as having reached an exalted place in the world. Are you sure, in your business dealings with others that the prospect of profit or loss in no way influences your statements or causes you not to listen to a desire to help them, when you want to sell them something?

Can you admit that the possession of money, today, in the eyes of the world, does not mean more to the vast majority of people than the possession of any other thing? Which means that practically everyone acknowledges Mammon as their lord and master, yields to his demands, and thereby gives money absolute power over them. Do you think this is stating it too strongly? Then answer to yourself these questions:

Are you who read truly free from its power? Think! Has it no hold whatever on you? Are you not in the least afraid of losing your job, your social or financial standing, or your investments? Or should you lose all, have you not the slightest fear for yourself and of your power to regain what is lost?  Are you sure in your social relations with others that their possession of wealth or lack of it has no effect or influence whatever on your attitude towards them—that the beggar and the banker are alike your brothers?  Can you truly say that money means nothing to you, that the possession or lack of it in the eyes of your friends has no place in your thoughts, and that you could be a tramp or a millionaire with equal disregard of Mammon’s power to cause you to deviate one iota from your loving service to the Lord Christ within? If you can answer “yes” to these questions, then have you truly reached the stage of discipleship, and are ready for or are now really doing the work of the Master, for you have passed a supreme test and are worthy of doing the work you came here to do.

This article is written in the full understanding of the insidious power Mammon has acquired over practically every seeker of the Kingdom, a power that very few are aware of, and which it is our duty to show up clearly, so that each may know for him or herself and deal with it definitely from now on. This power has so instilled itself into the consciousness of nearly everyone that it is most difficult to free one’s mind from it sufficiently to see the hold it has obtained upon our thoughts and lives. If we will only admit it, it influences unconsciously most of our motives, desires, aims and actions, and it ever drives us onward with the whip of fear so that we cannot reason calmly and see that self is being wholly misled by a false god to the forgetfulness of the Loving One within, who promises if we seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness all things else will be added.

Therefore we say to you, search deeply into your mind and heart and make sure that you have not unconsciously been worshiping Mammon, obeying his mandates and living under his rule, rather than God’s. This applies as much to those to whom the need of money is perhaps at this moment paramount in their thoughts, as to those who have an abundance of it and who are living in an atmosphere of wealth. Money of itself, of course, is no more than a medium by which we exchange one commodity for another, and is therefore neither good nor evil. But a selfishness that seeks more than one’s share of it or more than one needs and can use, is undeniably evil, for that deprives others of their just share or needs.* Such a selfishness, however, has become so common that it is not considered to be selfishness any more. It is deemed to be a normal process of nature—a “survival of the fittest,” when from the foregoing it is plainly seen as perverted nature.

Therefore, many millions of souls are living in a perverted state, entirely under the dominion of a self-created power, existing, maintaining itself and fast gaining a stranglehold upon its creators, solely because they do not realize whom and what they are serving – their own selfish wills. Mammon is thus seen to be crystallized selfishness – nay, entitized selfishness, because money has no power unless it is gathered together in the hands of a few who purposely deprive many others of their rightful share in order to maintain their power and to further their own evil ends.

We will not go further into this phase of the subject at this time, but for fuller light upon it refer to you the article on “The Enemy” in the booklet Brotherhood. One thing each seeker of the Kingdom must clearly determine here and now – the influence that Mammon has had over him in the past, and that this influence must be eliminated from mind and heart henceforth and forever. This means that from this moment his allegiance is to God alone and that he will look to Him only as his support and his supply, and will have full and utter faith in His promise of what will result if he makes the seeking of Him and His Righteousness first in his life.

But realize that much will come to test this faith, and outer circumstances may grow very dark and friends and loved ones may condemn and consider you gone daft. But know that when everything is darkest, and it would seem that God and all else have deserted you, the time of deliverance draws very near. For there is no truer saying than that it is always darkest just before dawn. Those who have the booklet Wealth should read it again in the light of the foregoing. It will prove most illuminating, and you will find its pages filled with inspiration and helpfulness.”

*James’ footnote: although New Thought holds that there is absolutely no lack of supply in the universe, not everyone has the consciousness to draw directly from the universal source. Many who hold the belief in scarcity are reliant upon the economic system for their sustenance. Within this context there is a limited supply, and people who selfishly hoard riches for themselves with no regard for others really are depriving others of their share.

** Sadly this book takes a sharp turn towards the crazy after a few chapters.  I recommend the opening chapters but must advise extreme caution when reading Benner’s absurd origins story.

James Allen on the importance of the mind

I said it in my previous article – the mind is not the enemy of spirituality.  It seems that James Allen agrees with me!  Allen was a truly advanced spiritual writer. He knew the trappings of wealth and status, and warned his readers against them repeatedly. He knew that the way to God is the way of love and virtue, and the book from which this quote comes, Above Life’s Turmoil, prescribes virtue as the remedy for suffering and the only means to peace and enlightenment. No-one would ever accuse Allen of being stuck in an intellectual understanding of spirituality – yet even he acknowledges the necessity of developing the intellectual faculty as a prerequisite to spiritual progress. It’s not enough to follow the whims of the heart and assume that every positive emotion equals a spiritual inspiration. It’s a great way to waste time in mysterious spiritual dead-ends, or feed our ego by convincing ourselves that we’re receiving important spiritual insights – but it will not assist the evolution of our souls.  From chapter 6 of Above Life’s Turmoil:

“A man’s spiritual progress will be painfully slow and uncertain until there opens with him the eye of discrimination, for without this testing, proving, searching quality, he will but grope in the dark, will be unable to distinguish the real from the unreal, the shadow from the substance, and will so confuse the false with the true as to mistake the inward promptings of his animal nature for those of the spirit of Truth.

A blind man left in a strange place may go grope his way in darkness, but not without much confusion and many painful falls and bruisings. Without discrimination a man is mentally blind, and his life is a painful groping in darkness, a confusion in which vice and virtue are indistinguishable one from the other, where facts are confounded with truths; opinions with principles, and where ideas, events, men, and things appear to be out of all relation to each other.

A man’s mind and life should be free from confusion. He should be prepared to meet every mental, material and spiritual difficulty, and should not be inextricably caught (as many are) in the meshes of doubt, indecision and uncertainity when troubles and so-called misfortunes come along. He should be fortified against every emergency that can come against him; but such mental preparedness and strength cannot be attained in any degree without discrimination, and discrimination can only be developed by bringing into play and constantly exercising the analytical faculty.

Mind, like muscle, is developed by use, and the assiduous exercise of the mind in any given direction will develop, in that direction, mental capacity and power. The merely critical faculty is developed and strengthened by continuously comparing and analysing the ideas and opinions of others. But discrimination is something more and greater than criticism; it is a spiritual quality from which the cruelty and egotism which so frequently accompany criticism are eliminated, and by virtue of which a man sees things as they are, and not as he would like them to be.

Discrimination, being a spiritual quality, can only be developed by spiritual methods, namely, by questioning, examining, and analysing one’s own ideas, opinions, and conduct. The critical, fault finding faculty must be withdrawn from its merciless application to the opinions and conduct of others, and must be applied, with undiminished severity, to oneself. A man must be prepared to question his every opinion, his every thought, and his every line of conduct, and rigorously and logically test them; only in this way can the discrimination which destroys confusion will be developed.

Before a man can enter upon such mental exercise, he must make himself of a teachable spirit. This does not mean that he must allow himself to be led by others; it means that he must be prepared to yield up any cherished thoughts to which he clings, if it will not bear the penetrating light of reason, if it shrivels up before the pure flames of searching aspirations. The man who says, ‘I am right!’ and who refuses to question his position in order to discover whether he is right, will continue to follow the line of his passions and prejudices, and will not acquire discrimination. The man who humbly asks, ‘Am I right?’ and then proceeds to test and prove his position by earnest thought and the love of Truth, will always be able to discover the true and to distinguish it from the false, and he will acquire the priceless possession of discrimination.

The man who is afraid to think searchingly upon his opinions, and to reason critically upon his position, will have to develop moral courage before he can acquire discrimination. A man must be true to himself, fearless with himself, before he can perceive the Pure Principles of Truth, before he can receive the all-revealing Light of Truth.

The more Truth is inquired of, the brighter it shines; it cannot suffer under examination and analysis. The more error is questioned, the darker it grows; it cannot survive the entrance of pure and searching thought. To ‘prove all things’ is to find the good and throw the evil.  He who reasons and meditates learns to discriminate; he who discriminates discovers the eternally True.

Confusion, suffering and spiritual darkness follow the thoughtless. Harmony, blessedness and the Light of Truth attend upon the thoughtful. Passion and prejudice are blind, and cannot discriminate: they are still crucifying the Christ and releasing Barabbas.”

Allen’s advice to be merciless with ourselves may be a bitter pill to a society that is still recovering from the sometimes traumatic results of shame and fear based religious obedience. But please note that it is possible to be merciless and yet still compassionate with ourselves. We should make no excuse that would allow us to continue in our failings of morals and conduct, but we should love ourselves despite these failings. In other words, we want to develop self-awareness, but not shame. We are aware of our failings and seek to remedy them, but we do not allow the knowledge of our failings to tempt us into feeling that we are in any way bad or less than enough.

In its proper place, the mind is not the enemy of spirituality

One of the great spiritual errors of this age, which has caused much confusion and spiritual blundering, is the idea that the mind is the enemy of spirituality. Like one of our other great errors, the spiritualisation of money, the demonisation of the mind is the result of a well-meaning but misguided rebellion against other errors of the past. In this case, the chief errors being rebelled against are the over-intellectualisation and dogmatisation of spirituality promoted by organised Christianity, as well as the modern ultra-rationalist denial of the spiritual realities back of the physical world.

It is absolutely true that the mind run rampant is an enemy to spiritual advancement. It is equally true that even the most advanced and spiritually inclined intellect will never progress beyond a certain point of evolution until it is prepared to quieten itself and listen for the inspirations that come from beyond the rational plane.

But like the rebellion against Christianity’s poverty fetish, the rebellion against the mind has led to an equal and opposite error, which is the idea that because all true spiritual inspirations come in the form of a feeling, therefore all feelings of a spiritual nature must be true inspirations, and any rational analysis of them is simply an attempt by the ego to stifle them. We are susceptible to be gravely misled spiritually unless we have the intellectual discernment to understand the difference between experiences and promptings that come from a higher source, and those that come from our fragile human emotions, or the anarchic world of the psychic plane.

Certainly, spontaneus spiritual awakenings do happen to people who have no intellectual bent whatsoever. However, we have no way of knowing what these people experienced in previous lifetimes. Perhaps they’ve done all their intellectual growth already and the Universal Spirit, knowing the intellectual phase is a barrier – and sometimes one that is difficult to transcend – reincarnated them as far away as possible from any intellectual temptations. This way, the evolutionary growth of their soul would remain, even if the counscious knowledge gained from the intellectual phase was lost at the moment of rebirth. This explains men like Sidney Banks, the uneducated Scottish welder who experienced a spontaneous spiritual awakening and spent the rest of his life attempting to convey his experience to others. Banks was forever urging his audience to go beyond his words and grasp the spiritual truth behind them, which he described as a feeling.

Nevertheless, Banks’ words helped many. Words, of course, are a product of the intellect. They are not the truth itself, but they can be an effective signpost towards the truth. Spiritual truth may be a feeling, but you cannot just take any old feeling and assume it to be truth. The mind is the signpost, or the compass, that points your feeling faculty in the right direction.

Most of modern popular spirituality is pure feeling, with little in the way of reason to guide it. The classic picture of such a state is the soul who is primarily concerned with the physical world, but who seeks worldly advantage or a lessening of suffering by carrying crystals as lucky charms, calling upon angels and guides, using tarot cards or visualising money. This is not to criticise any of these practices, as they may be entirely appropriate and useful at a particular stage of a soul’s journey. But they should not be regarded as superior to the intellect purely because they may superficially appear to be more spiritual. Some of these things work, either because the user’s belief coincidentally overlaps with the truth, or simply because the belief makes it true.

In David Hawkins’ book Power vs. Force, which is surely the closest thing we have to a scientific study of spiritual evolution, such rudimentary spiritual practices as these fall into the level of consciousness between 200 and 400. Souls at this level of evolution have clawed their way out of victimhood and submission to circumstances, and have begun their first tentative steps towards self-empowerment. But they do not yet possess a rational understanding of the workings of the universe, and settle for whatever beliefs or practices feel good to them. It is only at the level of 400 – designated by Hawkins as the level of Reason – that the soul moves beyond the superficial and pretty spiritual beliefs of the day and into the understanding of the laws that govern all these beliefs.

Some souls get carried away by this newfound intellectual power, and attempt to reverse-engineer spiritual abilities for personal gain through the use of formulas and specific energetic practices. Historically, this type of practice was called sorcery, magic or witchcraft. Other souls stuck in the intellectual phase have more benevolent intentions, but the mind refuses to let go and allow the profounder spiritual experiences that occur beyond the plane of the rational to take place.

The parable of the wedding feast, from the twenty-second chapter of Matthew, instructs us on the necessity of unifying the different aspects of the human constitution – body, mind and soul.  In Chapter 10 of Bible Mystery and Bible Meaning by Thomas Troward, the author reads the parable as a warning against the purely intellectual use of spiritual forces for personal gain, without love as the guiding principle. My own understanding of this parable encompasses Troward’s but takes it further. The wedding feast is a symbol of spiritual enlightenment, also referred to by Christ as the Kingdom of Heaven. A wedding feast takes place after a union, and nobody is invited to partake of the feast until the union is complete. If man has not wholly united the trinity of the human experience – body, mind and soul – then he does not possess a wedding garment and is not invited to the feast. The servants will bind him hand and foot and cast him into the exterior darkness. In Troward’s example, this binding of hand and foot represents the tremendous and dreadful karmic consequences resulting from the misuse of spiritual forces for personal gain. In this example, the mind is dominant and love, or the spiritual factor, is missing. As I have written previously, we simply cannot move into the higher spiritual realms until we proactively cultivate love.

In the opposite scenario, a person attempts to hijack the spiritual realm without first passing through the intellectual phase. If they make no tremendous effort then their beliefs will remain airy and they will not progress much in the spiritual life. However, some people take a more aggressive approach – and the most obvious example of this is the use of psychoactive drugs to induce spiritual experiences.

The spiritual lecturer Alan Watts characterised the typical mumblings of 60s LSD junkies describing their experience as “It was a gas, man.” As Watts pointed out, they were attempting to describe an experience to wider society, when they did not even fully comprehend the experience themselves – thus making themselves look like bumbling eccentrics to most ordinary people. Many people who had such experiences in the 60s found themselves ostracised by their experiences and drifted away from society, finding that it no longer made any sense of them – but sadly they lacked anything higher to cling to that might help to decode the experience and lead them on their upward journey. As a result, many of them lost all will for anything besides finding fellowship with other societal outcasts and taking more drugs. Hardly the road to enlightenment – and yet this is the best case scenario.

We’ve all heard the stories about people who used psychoactive drugs and ended up irreversibly psychotic, believing themselves to be God or Jesus. The drugs artificially induced a sensible experience of the person’s innate divinity, but the unfortunate soul could not understand that this divinity is in all, and that the ego must die to make room for the God within. Instead, its ego remained and became intoxicated with the idea that it is the one and only God, presiding above all.

The bible describes the three stages of spiritual development allegorically in Genesis, where Esau represents gross sensuousness, Jacob represents the intellectual phase, and then after wrestling with the angel, Jacob becomes Israel – the enlightened spiritual consciousness. I will return to this topic in future articles, but for the moment I recommend Chapters 9-11 of Jack Ensign Addington’s Hidden Mystery of the Bible, which delve into this topic in greater detail.

In order to ascend to great spiritual heights, one must fill the mind with wisdom, then move past it. It cannot be the ruling faculty of our lives, but it must always guide our ascent into the higher spiritual realms. In its proper place, the mind is our greatest ally in our forward evolutionary journey.

Why don’t we clear trapped emotions between lifetimes?

One of the questions that seems to come up frequently when clearing emotional energies with Soul Lab is why we don’t simply clear all these energies between lifetimes, when we get to ‘heaven’, or ‘our true home’, or whatever we choose to call the home base from whence we came, where all suffering ends and all truth is laid bare before our eyes.

Many of the stuck emotions cleared during Soul Lab sessions are either from previous lifetimes, or seemingly from the spaces in between lifetimes. What’s up with that? If there really is a heaven to speak of, where the veil is lifted and we perceive all truth, why would we choose not to wipe our slate clean and rid ourselves of all stuck emotional energies during those intervals? And how, praytell, could we accumulate more stuck emotions during those intervals?

The answer is quite simple and logical, but it requires a shift in thinking away from the pretty picture of a ‘heavenly home where the veil is lifted.’ If you are determined to maintain that belief, you may wish to stop reading this article now, as you will agree with nothing of what is to follow.

As usual, my answer is not based on insights or revelations, but purely on philosophical reasoning guided by logic, and my primary philosophical source is the brilliant early 20th century spiritual writer and philosopher, Thomas Troward. In order to avoid needlessly repeating myself, please permit me the indulgence of quoting from myself – in this case, from my article on why God allows suffering and evil:

“We must firstly understand the true nature of God in order to understand man’s place in creation. Troward explains that God or the ‘Universal Spirit’ is not only infinite, but entirely impersonal and undifferentiated. It is infinitely intelligent, infinitely powerful, infinitely loving and so on – but it is without any personal volition of its own. Because it is life in itself, it seeks only one thing – the communicating and increasing of that life. This is in its very nature, but to attribute any other specific motives to it would be to place a limitation upon the limitless. We cannot therefore talk about ‘God’s will’ in any manner other than the communication of itself in new forms of life, and the eternal evolution of that life. The Universal Spirit cannot be said to make decisions in its infinite form, because to prefer one course of action would mean that it must repudiate the opposite course of action. Doing so would lead us to the conclusion that God prefers one thing to another – this would, of course, be placing a limitation on the infinite because if God prefers A, then God is not someone who prefers B. Anything which is limited in any way cannot be infinite, therefore the Universal, unmanifested Spirit cannot be partial in any of its dealings.”

As I explain in the article, man is “the measurer”, or the decision-making faculty of God. In its undifferentiated, absolute form, the Universal Spirit cannot make such decisions or prefer a specific course of action; therefore it re-creates itself in individualised form on the plane of the particular, instead of the plane of the absolute. It does this through a long series of incarnations, first through the animal kingdom, and then through the various stages of human evolution, until it gets to the point where its spiritual understanding allows it to recognise itself dwelling within its own creation. At no point throughout this evolutionary process does the created expression of God in individual physical form withdraw itself from the plane of the particular and retreat back into the plane of the absolute. In other words, the veil is not lifted between our physical incarnations on Earth. We don’t go back to our heavenly home, because there is nowhere to go to, unless we were to cease to exist in our individual, created forms and return to the absolute, uncreated state.

We don’t choose to incarnate here, either – at least, our individual, created form does not make that decision. That is a pretty delusion of the egocentric, individualistic society that we live in, which repudiates any concept of being under the authority of a higher spiritual power.  We simply continue the slow, automatic evolutionary process through various incarnations – directed by the relentlessly indifferent Universal Mind, which cares for nothing but our forward momentum. If we suffer or thrive in a particular incarnation, it doesn’t care one bit. Whether we are poor or rich, ugly or beautiful means not a thing to it. If we suffer the effects of stuck emotions, or of disease, or of negative thinking – none of this concerns it in the least. The only thing that matters is that we evolve. How we get there, or whether the journey is difficult or easy is completely beyond the considerations of an infinite, life-giving intelligence. It will repeatedly incarnate us wherever will best serve our soul’s evolution, until we arrive at the point where we recognise our own power within, and are no longer carried away by this indifferent evolutionary tide. At this point we dig our oars into the water and begin to determine our own direction through the infinitude of evolutionary possibilities.

What does this mean? Do we ever get to a heavenly place? Of course we do – in fact, Christ tells us that “the kingdom of heaven is within you”. What may at first appear to be an enigmatic statement is actually very plain indeed. The ecstasies accompanying advanced spiritual states are truly so profound that they far eclipse any conceivable joys of the purely physical world. It is therefore completely unnecessary and also erroneous to imagine some sort of spiritual city in the sky where we retreat at the completion of our life’s work. We reach heaven when we reach an advanced spiritual state. Furthermore, the spiritual knowledge accompanying this state enables us to escape the Universal Spirit’s automatic process of rebirth and proceed to other, greater things beyond the Earth plane. It is useless to speculate about what these things are, but I agree with Troward that one thing is absolutely certain: we do not go through this vast evolutionary journey just to end up back where we started.

We will continue the endless evolutionary journey into infinity, but we will never be permanently reabsorbed into the undifferentiated spirit. Otherwise what was the point of the journey? Did we go through all the sufferings, trials and struggles just to play some pointless game of cosmic hide-and-seek, or to go on a spiritual holiday, as I have heard some spiritual pundits seriously suggest?

No, we evolved into individual form to become the decision-making faculty of the Universal Spirit. We became limited in order to direct its expression into untold, unheard of new realms, and to stand apart from the glory of the uncreated infinite so that we can look back and gaze upon it in awe.