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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The best explanation of how the Law of Attraction actually works

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

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

From The Edinburgh Lectures on Mental Science, lecture 4:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Radical trust: an easy alternative to radical gratitude

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Turn off the news and turn on your life

One of the most commonly held dangerous beliefs in modern society is the idea that it’s important to have a source of news in your life, whether it be the TV, radio, newspapers or the internet. However, recent events have made it clearer than ever that filling your head with some corporate entity’s idea of what the news is, is not only unnecessary – it is actually damaging to our spiritual life.

The news is presently filled with nothing but negativity and fearmongering. Needless to say, filling one’s head with a constant stream of this is incredibly draining. But as soon as the TV goes off, silence still reigns. Outside, the birds still sing and the sun still shines. People are not dropping dead in the streets. Life goes on. Never was there a clearer indication that what we fill our heads with – whether be our thoughts, or the material we consume that fuels our thoughts – is what determines our reality.

Even during less chaotic periods, there is very little offered by mainstream news sources that contributes in any way to the betterment of our lives. No-one should feel the slightest pang of guilt for not wishing to keep abreast of all the latest car crashes, murders, political squabbles and celebrity gossip. It’s tremendously sad for the victims of such misfortunes, but it is no concern of anyone’s except those directly involved. We have no obligation to concern themselves about these matters, and there is no benefit in doing so. It is not our responsibility to take on the grief of complete strangers. Even if some compassionate instinct compels us to do so, it will have no positive effect on the victims whatsoever.

Our responsibility as humans is to look after ourselves, our friends and family and our local community – in that order. Of course, the responsibility we hold towards our family is very similar in importance to that which we hold towards ourselves, so we should never put ourselves first in a selfish way. But putting ourselves first in a responsible way to ensure our own stability helps to ensure that we can adequately fulfill our duties to our family members.

The idea that we have a duty to be informed about the misfortunes of all others everywhere on the planet is an invention of the modern globalised world, and the mass media that helped to create such a society. The world carried on just fine for millennia using word of mouth as its only news service. Anything that’s absolutely crucial for you to know will still reach you by this method even now. If nobody comes to tell you, you probably don’t need to know.

It’s even more absurd when the news reports on atrocities or misfortunes occurring in far distant countries. A small number of folks may consider it part of their life’s work to better the conditions of those living in other countries. They are to be praised for their compassionate decision, but the vast majority of people do not share this life purpose. Furthermore, such a calling requires action – simply watching foreign atrocities and misfortunes on the TV news and taking on others’ grief serves no purpose to anyone. Again, no-one should feel guilty for refusing to burden themselves with the sufferings of those to whom they have no direct responsibility. Of course we can pray for them, or direct positive energy towards them – or whatever we feel inclined to do. But then we should simply trust in a higher power and detach ourselves from the situation. We should also remember – whilst not allowing it to stifle our compassion – that people in these situations chose to incarnate here and to experience certain things, even sufferings, in order to learn particular lessons and evolve their souls.

Disconnecting from the news can be a difficult process in the beginning, if you are accustomed to keeping abreast of things. Curiosity may get the better of you and you may find yourself taking a quick peek at the headlines online, or looking at the front page of the newspaper if you see it in a shop or a cafe. But if you persist with it, the curiosity will pass. Having less noise in your mind will make it clearer and calmer, and you’ll quickly find that you’re no worse off by not filling your head with a constant stream of negativity.

Once you’ve emotionally disconnected, you may also find that you need to make some other changes to avoid being unintentionally exposed. Certain websites you’re accustomed to visit – for example, the login page on your webmail account, or the default start page on your internet browser – may display news headlines. You may be exposed to the radio on buses or in shops. You can take some steps to avoid these too, such as changing your start page or – if you really want to get serious about it – taking noise cancelling headphones with you if you’re likely to go somewhere where the news will be on. You may not wish to walk around with headphones on all the time, as this can make it difficult to be fully present in the moment, but having nature sounds or even music available to block out the news break is quite OK.

Of course, it’s difficult to avoid all exposure all the time, and we shouldn’t be too obsessive about it, nor should we be anxious if we do find ourselves exposed to the news on occasions. But if you try at a bare minimum to avoid all intentional exposure for a few weeks, you’ll wonder why on earth you ever filled your head with such drivel in the first place. The troubles of the wider world will fade away and you’ll be much more able to focus on the real world – that is, the world you live in. Yourself, your friends, your family and your community.

Yes, your external world will become smaller; but your spiritual world will become larger. Try it and see.

Truly, all our problems are just thoughts and beliefs – they can be changed

Many people respond angrily when they’re told that all their problems are caused by their thoughts and beliefs. I felt the same when I first became aware of this concept. I had a deeply held belief – a story, nothing more – that I had been damaged by childhood influences, and that my confidence and inner peace had been irreparably damaged as a result.

Part of the reason I was so defensive of this story was because I had done so much reading about psychology, and was intellectually convinced that certain events in my childhood had caused certain neuroses. It all made perfect logical sense. I didn’t feel any emotional need to cling onto this story like some people do – because it gives them excuses, or someone to blame, or some other secondary benefit. No, I felt the need to cling onto my story simply because I was intellectually convinced that it was 100% true.

I kept clinging on to that story until I made an important discovery that changed everything. That discovery was this: perhaps it was all true, exactly as I had believed it. Perhaps my psyche really had been damaged exactly as I believed. Perhaps these kind of bad experiences and poor parenting have similar effects in everyone who experiences them, just as the textbooks say. It’s not that the story is necessarily untrue; it’s that I don’t need to have a story at all. The truth is, I did experience some traumatic events in my childhood, and they did have an effect on me. But it’s not true that I’m stuck with those effects. The idea that the damage is permanent, or that it requires years of energy work or – God forbid – talk therapy to clear it is just that – an idea. A story. A fairy tale. It is true as long as it continues to be believed.

Many enlightened individuals prove that these stories and all their ill effects can disappear in an instant as soon as the soul fully grasps the truth that it is whole and complete, and it does not need to cling to its baggage. However, like enlightenment itself, it’s a truth that tends to be obscured by its very simplicity.

Sydney Banks is one such gentleman who had many of the personal, emotional and financial problems we all face. Chief among them was troubles with his marriage. In 1973, he and his wife went to a marriage counseling retreat to try and sort out the problems, but it didn’t appear to be helping. Sydney was confiding all his problems to one of the other attendees – coincidentally a therapist by trade – and the man responded by telling Syd: “I’ve never heard such nonsense in all my life!”

Though the therapist was fully unconscious of the consequences of his words, somehow they sunk in on a deep spiritual level. Instantly, Banks knew that all the problems he’d just been describing were figments of his imagination – like the plot of a virtual reality video game, if you will. For that’s what life really is, in essence – a virtual reality simulation where we can’t possibly lose the game. We are really here, for sure – and so are the people around us. But it is an artificial state of disconnectedness from the Source, which we take on in order to rapidly further our evolution.

Banks spent the rest of his life bringing his message to the world. Distilled down, his message was essentially that there is nothing wrong with any of us. Life consists of three principles: mind, consciousness and thought. The first two are entirely whole, perfect and complete as they are, and our task on earth is simply to make our thoughts whole, perfect and complete also. Once this happens, the artificial stories we have sustained with our thoughts disappear, and along with them goes all of our imagined problems. It’s like typing an invincibility code into the video game – suddenly there are no dangers, no problems, no inconveniences. We realise that the video game is forever giving us exactly what we need to learn the lessons we came here to learn. All is well. All of this can happen in a single instant once we truly, deeply realise the truth of it.

Judith Sedgeman, a teacher of Banks’ three principles, describes her experience in a profound post on her website:

“SEEING is fluttering briefly into the emptiness before thought where you KNOW the power of thoughts forming, your own power to form thought, as a spiritual gift before form. I realized that I had previously memorized, pondered about, and repeated the definitions of the Principles as they were always described, thus innocently focusing on the formed word to understand them, rather than awakening to the formless, the true Principles, the spiritual energy of all life in creation, before the words. I had been reading the notes, but missing the music.  That was one of the most exciting insights of my life, and it was a point of transformation…”

“The point is beyond words, in Universal energy we all share and through which we become our formed selves. Seeing the pure energy at the source, though, we have certainty that anything we see or know now could change, simply with the formation of new thought. Access to that reality is through stillness, through quietude, not thinking harder…”

“For me, in the instant I caught a glimpse of that, I SAW and KNEW the absolute absurdity of taking any thought seriously. No matter what. It’s no more possible to hang onto really beautiful thoughts than to drive away really ugly thoughts. They all pass naturally as the flow of formless energy continues to power us through life. We have to re-think them to “keep” them. When we SEE that for ourselves, we cannot possibly harm ourselves with our own thinking, any thinking. Because we KNOW we are living a dream brought to us by our unique imagination and the creative power of life. We know the dream is fleeting, evanescent, just images we create, passing across the screen of our minds, signifying nothing but the beautiful power to keep creating them.”

For most people, it won’t come as instantly and easily as it did for Syd. But until it comes, we can meditate on the truth of it, and live our lives knowing that all the three principles are sacred. Mind and consciousness are sacred because they are the essence of the divinity within us; the eternal, perfect creative force that existed before we came into mortal, physical form. Many of us have no trouble accepting this, but we have trouble realising that thought is equally sacred. Our task on earth is to make our thoughts whole, perfect and complete like the other two principles – and when we’ve achieved this, we’ve won life.  All our problems are over and we’ve found heaven on earth.

So our minds should be like a sacred altar – purged of everything unclean, with no place for anything less than pure, holy, positive thoughts.  Of course, this should not be read in any sort of dour, puritanical way, and we should certainly not berate ourselves or panic if we fall short.  We can simply adopt the sacredness of the mind as an attitude to help us realise the true importance of taking control of our thoughts.  The mind is truly sacred – take care of it.