Why our opinions don’t matter…but the truth does

One of the tenets of New Age or “spiritual but not religious” philosophy that I found hard to swallow in the beginning was the idea of staying neutral to all things; not judging outcomes, not judging situations, and not clinging to dogmatic opinions. Opinions, so we are told, are simply inventions of our ego – and the universe cares not a whit for any of it.

My mind protested – surely truth exists! After all, even the idea that there are no absolute truths claims to be an absolute truth. Anyone who advocates this opinion really ought to be consistent and argue that there are no absolute truths besides the fact that there are no absolute truths. But then, claiming the existence of just one absolute truth tends to undermine the credibility of the entire opinion.

Indeed, there really is truth. And there really is a right way and a wrong way to live your life. Not all decisions that we make in our lives are subject to this absoluteness, but many of them are. Yes, there is an order to life – what is traditionally known as the natural order.

Diet is a great example of the distinction between the natural order and subjective opinion. Broadly summarised, the natural order of food is that we should eat enough to satiate hunger and sustain our bodily functions – and no more, and that the food we eat should be unprocessed, unadulterated by chemicals and full of nutrients. As long as the food we eat covers these basic requirements, then our diet is in tune with the natural order and will be healthy for us. Any other dietary prescriptions beyond the natural order of food are the realm of subjective opinion only. Certainly, individuals vary in their specific requirements, but any requirements outside of the natural order are ultimately traceable back to mental patterns and beliefs.

A common belief among spiritual people is that a wholly plant based diet is higher vibrational than an omnivorous diet, because meat carries the vibration of death, or something. Certainly it is true that when people switch to a vegetarian diet, they often report greater mental clarity, happiness and spiritual abilities. The trouble is, so do people on the keto diet – which consists of more meat than anything else. Provided both diets cover the requirements of the natural order, they are both capable of producing the reported results, provided people believe in them.

I’m not the first person to note this, by the way – Louse Hay observes the equal effectiveness of contradictory diet advice in You Can Hear Your Life. What do we learn from it? The natural order matters – food must be unprocessed, unadulterated and nutritious to be healthy. However, beyond the natural order, our dietary opinions do not matter at all. If we believe in it, it works. Eventually we may raise ourselves to such a level of consciousness that we transcend even the natural order – as in the well-documented stories of mystics who have completely moved beyond the need for food and drink. But most of us are bound by the rules of the natural order; because the natural order is the absolute truth that governs life on Earth – and if we live our life in opposition to it, it will crush us.

Although there is still significant debate about certain aspects of the natural order, some parts of it are accepted by virtually all. Don’t steal, as stealing leads to anxiety, remorse, escalating dishonesty, avarice, possible legal consequences and so on. Don’t lie, as it will lead to many of the same consequences and result in a tendency to be lied to. And although it is now far from universally accepted, I think most people would agree that sexual promiscuity is a violation of the natural order, which leads to guilt, loss of self-respect, addiction to gross pleasures, unwanted pregnancies, STDs, loss of spiritual aspiration, a tendency to sexualise others, escalating sexual practices and so on.  Thus, the absolute truth about sexuality that proceeds from the natural order is that sexual activity must be confined within certain strict limits, or it will spill over and cause undesirable consequences for the individual and society.

However, any further inferences that we make from this absolute truth tend to be subjective opinions. For example, the idea that there should be civil laws regulating people’s sexual conduct is not an absolute truth. The reason for this is simple: while we can know the principles on which life is based, we cannot know the grand plan that governs all things.

Allow me to explain.  Formerly, there were civil laws and expectations governing polite society that dictated our rules of sexual conduct. That all changed in the 20th century, especially with the spectacular explosion of sexual liberty that occurred in the 60s.  Comparing western world statistics for divorce, STDs, unwanted pregnancies, pornography use, extramarital affairs and, sadly, depression and suicide between the 1950s and now, it appears that this sexual liberation was disastrous for the overall order and happiness of society. Indeed, if the ultimate purpose of life is to build an ordered, comfortable, prosperous society with a certain degree of equality and a high standard of living, then civil laws and expectations governing sexual conduct appear to be a sensible and logical measure.

But since the ultimate purpose of life is actually to evolve our souls and bring the uncreated, infinite eternal into created, finite form – perhaps this temporary setback in society actually serves a greater good. Having had the scaffolding of civil laws and expectations removed, perhaps we are now being left to fend for ourselves in order that we may stumble and fall – and ultimately rise again, rediscovering the truth of the natural order in a much deeper way than laws and expectations could ever impress upon us.  Just as a child can be told not to touch a hot stove, but may only learn the lesson thoroughly after he disobeys the order and burns himself, it seems that we are learning to deeply ingrain the truths of the natural order in our souls by seeing for ourselves the nasty consequences of disobeying them.  Or perhaps this is completely wrong, and there is another equally providential reason for the scaffolding of polite society having been torn down – we simply cannot know the grand plan until its unfoldment.

Whatever becomes of society, we should remember two things: the natural order on this planet is unchanging and merciless. If we live our life in opposition to it, we will create severe consequences for ourselves – and this is an inescapable fact, not an opinion. But whatever thoughts we hold on the way things should be, or the way society should be run are nothing but our own opinions. And even though the road may get a little rocky along the way, the destination is far greater than anything we can conceive of.

Whatever stage we are at in that grand plan, let’s keep our peace and remain neutral at all times to the grand design of the all-knowing one.

How to achieve your desires by giving up completely

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just be Glad by Christian D. Larson – Free complete audiobook

“All things respond to the call of rejoicing; all things gather where life is a song.”

So begins this charming 1912 classic from Christian D. Larson.  It is a short read, clocking in at just over half an hour.  But its every page resounds with poetic charm and inspiration.  Never has a book more potently and gracefully pleaded that our reality does not create our thoughts, but rather our thoughts create our reality.  So just be glad, and see what wonderful results arise.

Download Just be Glad by Christian D. Larson

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Evil is just the shadow we cast in the infinite light of the universe: James Allen

“Evil has always been symbolized by darkness, and Good by light, and hidden within the symbol is contained the perfect interpretation, the reality; for, just as light always floods the universe, and darkness is only a mere speck or shadow cast by a small body intercepting a few rays of the illimitable light, so the Light of the Supreme Good is the positive and life-giving power which floods the universe, and evil the insignificant shadow cast by the self that intercepts and shuts off the illuminating rays which strive for entrance. When night folds the world in its black impenetrable mantle, no matter how dense the darkness, it covers but the small space of half our little planet, while the whole universe is ablaze with living light, and every soul knows that it will awake in the light in the morning. Know, then, that when the dark night of sorrow, pain, or misfortune settles down upon your soul, and you stumble along with weary and uncertain steps, that you are merely intercepting your own personal desires between yourself and the boundless light of joy and bliss, and the dark shadow that covers you is cast by none and nothing but yourself. And just as the darkness without is but a negative shadow, an unreality which comes from nowhere, goes to nowhere, and has no abiding dwelling-place, so the darkness within is equally a negative shadow passing over the evolving and Light-born soul.

‘But,’ I fancy I hear someone say, ‘why pass through the darkness of evil at all?’ Because, by ignorance, you have chosen to do so, and because, by doing so, you may understand both good and evil, and may the more appreciate the light by having passed through the darkness. As evil is the direct outcome of ignorance, so, when the lessons of evil are fully learned, ignorance passes away, and wisdom takes its place. But as a disobedient child refuses to learn its lessons at school, so it is possible to refuse to learn the lessons of experience, and thus to remain in continual darkness, and to suffer continually recurring punishments in the form of disease, disappointment, and sorrow. He, therefore, who would shake himself free of the evil which encompasses him, must be willing and ready to learn, and must be prepared to undergo that disciplinary process without which no grain of wisdom or abiding happiness and peace can be secured.

A man may shut himself up in a dark room, and deny that the light exists, but it is everywhere without, and darkness exists only in his own little room. So you may shut out the light of Truth, or you may begin to pull down the walls of prejudice, self-seeking and error which you have built around yourself, and so let in the glorious and omnipresent Light. By earnest self-examination strive to realize, and not merely hold as a theory, that evil is a passing phase, a self-created shadow; that all your pains, sorrows and misfortunes have come to you by a process of undeviating and absolutely perfect law; have come to you because you deserve and require them, and that by first enduring, and then understanding them, you may be made stronger, wiser, nobler. When you have fully entered into this realization, you will be in a position to mold your own circumstances, to transmute all evil into good and to weave, with a master hand, the fabric of your destiny.”

James Allen is one of those New Thought authors that sometimes gets dismissed for being a little too cute or a little too simple. But paragraphs like this, from chapter one of From Poverty to Power ring with truth, and a deep spiritual understanding. There is no darkness in the universe, no evil – nothing to make us suffer except ourselves, and the shadow we cast through misuse of the faculty of thought.

How misusing the Law of Attraction creates suffering

This is part 3 of a series discussing some of the misconceptions about the Law of Attraction which have been caused by the explosion of publicity it has received in the wake of the movie The Secret.

In part one I discussed the Law of Growth, and why we should always consider the spiritual impact of any attempts to manifest. In the second part, I discussed the need for consciousness in the manifesting process.  In this third part of the present series I will discuss what I believe to be the true meaning and purpose of the Law of Attraction, as distinguished from the magic formula for material gain that it has become through modern popular teaching.

Let me begin by stating that although I find certain core tenets of Buddhism hard to swallow, I cannot find one word to argue against the Buddha’s core teaching that desire results in suffering. Contentment equals having everything we want; while its opposite – desire – always implies that something is missing. The same principle is stated in verse 20 of the Tao Te Ching, where Lao Tzu teaches non-striving as the way to contentment. Similar teachings are repeated elsewhere in the Tao.

Therefore, the whole Law of Attraction premise would seem to be flawed from the very outset. It’s based on an egoistic concept of happiness that says “you are unhappy because you do not have what you want. Let me show you the way to get what you want.” If the process happens to succeed, the ego will simply ask for more – because attaining some material success will not change our mindset and the energetic pattern created by our mindset. The moment you create a specific worldly goal, you are energetically saying “I am here, but I wish I were there.” The implication of the energetic message is: “I need to be there to be happy. Here is not good enough. Being here is the cause of my unhappiness.”  I am loathe to even say it, because it’s one of those oft-repeated yet rarely appreciated truths that sounds like little more than a slogan on a motivational poster, but here it is, in all its apparent triteness: happiness comes from within.

Unfortunately, we all empathise with Ashleigh Brilliant’s famous quote about money (sometimes falsely attributed to Spike Milligan): “All I want is a chance to prove that money can’t make me happy.” We think we can be the single exception to the rule. Others aren’t happy because they’re using their money foolishly, we say. I would use it wisely, or for purposeful pursuits. Or we pin medals on our chest by saying we’d use it to do good in the world. Despite all our fantasies, no-one has ever found lasting happiness through money per se. When Sylvester Stallone was asked by an Australian TV show whether money and fame had brought him happiness, he answered:

“Well, you can afford a better grade of psychiatrist – that’s about it. No, I mean money certainly gives you a chance to be independent, but it doesn’t buy happiness at all. No it doesn’t.”

His reference to independence may set off another train of thought within us – “that’s all I really want – independence. I want to be free from my mind-numbing 9-5 job, or free to move away from my irritating housemate. If I had a source of easy income, I’d be free to dedicate more time to work on myself and develop my spirituality.”  Again, it is one of those ideas that seems so true in our imagination, but is immediately disproven when it is tried. Removing ourselves from noxious influences can help, but if we do not remove the real source of the influences then we will simply attract more.  Furthermore, if we are unhappy working a 9-5 job, we will be unhappy without one. There are some advantages, for sure – but there are disadvantages in equal measure. I can assure you from personal experience that if you quit your 9-5 job before you’ve developed your true spiritual understanding and calling, your life will not improve one bit. You may be free from certain irritations like early starts and team meetings, but other difficulties like loneliness, isolation, lack of direction and frustration with your spiritual state will arise to take their place.

Your ego may argue with this and remind you how great your last overseas holiday was. What if you could live that way all the time? It may remind you how great it was for the first week after you quit your job – and how peaceful it made you feel when the pressure was released. It may remind you of the first few months of being in love. If we could only grab hold of those fleeting pleasures and make them last, it says! Of course, we can’t – a change in circumstance only ever makes a temporary change in our happiness.

You simply cannot find that magical place called ‘ease’ and attempt to use it as a base camp from which to live the rest of your life and develop yourself spiritually. Not only is it energetically impossible, but it is not what we’re here to do. Reaching a state of ease through material security and nothing else would put us a state of stagnation. We came here to evolve, and to ultimately manifest the Uncreated Formless in created form. That doesn’t mean our lives are fated to be hard, but if our dominant thought pattern and its resulting energetic signal is one of discontent, the result can never be different – although we artificially change the circumstances around us.

I stated just before that no-one has ever found happiness through money per se. However, some rare individuals have found meaning after having money, and this meaning has led to their happiness. A still smaller number have found spiritual peace after having money. But these people are the rare exception – the vast majority of people who pursue money first, either fail to attain it or get ensnared by it.  I mention this only because if I don’t, someone will pull out the rare example of a person who made millions on the stock market, then gave it all up to become a yogi hermit.  Please don’t assume that the very rare exceptions disprove the whole premise.  The only course of action that will infallibly lead to true peace and happiness is the one Jesus gives to us in Matthew 6:33: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all other things shall be yours without the asking.”

I said that artificially changing the circumstances will not make a discontented person happy, and the opposite is true too – a change of circumstances will not make a truly contented person unhappy. There have been truly enlightened souls who have retained their happiness in prison, because happiness comes from within. We need not look for examples of this – we know it to be true, because many people on the highest spiritual paths voluntarily choose to “imprison” themselves in monasteries or even hermitages.  The outward circumstances simply do not matter, and have no correlation to our happiness or unhappiness. So let us begin any analysis of the Law of Attraction with the assumption that its true purpose is not for us to attract wealth and status into our lives in order to create our dream lives and attain happiness.

In fact, I don’t even agree with the term “Law of Attraction” – it implies that we are striving to pull something we do not have into our reality. But the law simply does not work when we strive to attain something. It only works when we are something. It is much easier to understand if it is referred to as the Law of Resonance. What we are will grow and increase, because our energy is resonating with it. What we are not will never come to us. Standing at point A and attempting to attract things from point B will never work – you are resonating with point A, and what you resonate with is what creates your reality.

All of us will pass through a phase of evolution where our goals and our achievements are based primarily on worldly gain – whether it be attainment of power, wealth, fame or all three. Such people do not need to strive to attain anything – by virtue of their present state of evolution, they are already are the kind of people that will succeed in worldly affairs. They are already being successful people. They are already at point B from the moment they’re born, if you like. They do not need to fight deeply against themselves to muster up the motivation to achieve worldly things. By the very fact that they are at point B, they are resonating with worldly achievement, and thus worldly achievement flows naturally to them.

The great mistake that modern Law of Attraction teaching makes is to try and teach people at different stages of evolution how to get to point B. Thus, the young soul which has not evolved beyond money discovers something about the spiritual workings of the universe, buys his first Ferrari, then jumps on YouTube and attempts to teach everyone else how easy it is for them to do the same. But the audience may be at point C or point D already. Attempting to take them back to point B is just going to contravene the Law of Growth and create resistant energy. We’ve all felt the disappointment, the struggle for control of our thoughts and feelings – the painful struggle that ensues when we try to change ourselves into something we’re not. The Law of Attraction teacher will tell you that you’re getting there, and you just need to persist, or try harder, or buy their book to create the right mindset where abundance and success can flourish. But your soul will tell you you’ve been there already. Now is the time for something greater. A bitter truth for our ego, which seems to steadfastly refuse to acknowledge the truth that external circumstances cannot make us permanently happy.

Some will argue that feeling resistance over our attempts to attract money is purely a sign that we need to clear our past traumas and money blocks. Perhaps that is so – but what does the clearing process entail, anyway? Does it entail years of releasing trapped emotions and energetic saboteur patterns? Years of tapping on meridian points to clear old traumas? Years of positive affirmations, and clearing of the negative patterns that sabotage those affirmations? It’s possible to go through all of this healing and more, and come out a great deal the worse for it, because you’re taking on the vibration of someone who is broken and needs fixing.  On the other hand, if everything goes right, the soul is then free to easily attract their millions and discover for themselves how much it will not bring them happiness. Success at last! But it wasn’t quite as easy or as fulfilling as YouTube made it out to be, was it?  Thus, a soul which may have been destined for higher things gets sucked back into the money trap. Instead of clearing its energetic baggage by raising its consciousness through spiritual practices, it gets to a certain stage of spiritual power through artificial means, and doesn’t know the true use for the power.

Even Neville Goddard – historically one of the great Law of Attraction teachers – eventually moved on to a deeper spiritual phase of his career. This chapter of his life has been all but forgotten, since his Law of Attraction lectures and books hold far more mass appeal – but Goddard eventually declared that the Law of Attraction was merely one phase in the process of spiritual development. A spiritual bait and switch, if you like – to turn our minds heavenward and then bring us to something greater, which he called “the promise.”

So what is the true use for the power of spiritual attraction? Let me answer it by quoting a far greater mind than my own. Genevieve Behrand, student of the great New Thought writer Thomas Troward, imagines a conversation between herself and Troward, in her book Attaining Your Desires. She asks him the following question:

“Then one’s efforts should be wholly directed to the attainment of a higher degree of intelligence, rather than to the acquiring of material things?”

Note that intelligence was the word Troward used to indicate a soul’s level of evolution. He answers:

“Such a purpose is the very highest, and aspirations along this line would surely externalise corresponding things. Under no circumstances should you allow yourself to form the habit of idle dreaming. The material side of life should not be despised, for it is the outside of a corresponding inside, and has its place. The thing to guard against is the acquiring of material possessions as your ultimate aim. However, when certain external facts appear in the circle of your life, you should work with them diligently and with common sense. Remember that things are symbols, and that the thing symbolised is more important than the symbol itself. ‘God will provide the food, but He will not cook the dinner.’

Pupil: My part then is to cook the dinner, so to speak; to use the intelligence with which I have been endowed, by making it a power to attract, from out the universe, ideas that will provide for me in any direction that I may choose to go, according to law?

Sage: Yes, if you choose to go with life’s continual, harmonious movement, you will find that the more you use the law of harmony through progressive thinking, the more intimately acquainted you will become with the law of reciprocity. This law corresponds to the same principles which govern physical science; that is, ‘nature obeys you precisely in the same degree as you obey nature.’ This knowledge always leads to liberty.

Pupil: How does nature obey me?

Sage: Nature’s first and greatest law is harmony. You see the results of harmonious law in the beautiful world around you. If you obey nature’s suggestion, and follow the law you will be the recipient of all the benefits contained in this law of harmony that nature has to offer, such as health, strength, contentment, etc., for all of her laws bring freedom and harmony. You will find nature responding along the same lines, to the extent that your thoughts and acts are in accordance with her perfect laws.”

To distil it all down – the true purpose of the Law of Attraction is to bring ourselves into perfect resonance with life itself. To make our every thought, word and deed resonate with life and love.  When we attain this, we experience a deep, lasting happiness and peace that a change in material circumstances can never take away from us. We experience health, love and happiness. We desire nothing, yet seem to have everything; and necessary favours are granted almost before we ask for them. In short, we attain heaven on earth.  Says Sydney Banks: “The Kingdom of Heaven is a state of consciousness.”  Says Christ: “For lo, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:21.

I will conclude this series in part four with some final thoughts on how to put this all together through non-striving and surrender.

The Law of Attraction and the absolute necessity of consciousness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One crucial question to ask before using the Law of Attraction

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

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

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

“How does this benefit me spiritually?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This, my friends, is the true abundance mindset.