How to achieve your desires by giving up completely

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surrender to the universe and it will surrender to you

A couple of stories on the power of trust in the universe – but also the necessity of resignation to its will. The first of these stories was told directly to me by one of the people concerned. I am recalling it from memory some years after it was related to me, but I am certain that the essential facts are correct.

Many years ago, the eldest son of some friends of mine woke up in the morning paralysed from the waist down. After a short time – a matter of hours, I believe – he recovered mobility and was taken to hospital where tests were carried out, and a diagnosis made. The boy had a serious degenerative disease that threatened to make him permanently paralysed by a young age. My friends are devout Catholics and so were firm believers in resignation to the will of God. However, the father of the boy – let’s call him Trevor – was far better at practising this than the mother, “Fiona”. Trevor kept his cool all the way through the ordeal and attempted to convince Fiona to do the same. After all, the worst thing that could possibly happen was that they would have to bring up one of their children in a wheelchair. This would be a trial, no doubt – but a meritorious one, and hardly an onerous one in the scale of things.  But Fiona was adamant that the boy would walk. While both parents prayed fervently for him, Trevor prayed with resignation while Fiona prayed with determination. She was convinced that her prayers would be heard and stubbornly declared that nothing short of a full recovery would suffice.

Weeks went by and there was no change in the situation. Fiona continued her prayers, but became anxious. Trevor saw her distress and attempted to swing her around to his calmer, more resigned view. In desperation, Fiona prayed a prayer of resignation, accepting whatever her God had in store for their son.

I seem to recall it being a day later, but certainly it was no longer than a week that the boy was taken back to the hospital for further tests. The doctors admitted – with a certain degree of embarrassment – that they could find absolutely nothing wrong with him. With all thought of miracles off the table, they were at a loss to explain the conflicting test results.

If we expect ordinary results, sometimes mere trust isn’t enough. Sometimes complete, utter abandonment to the providence of the universe is what’s required. The truth of this is seen in the many stories of people who received enlightenment or some great miracle only after a complete breaking down of their existing self and surrender to a higher power. Sometimes it’s darkest before the dawn.

This truth was demonstrated to me in my days of full time office work. I had been on a self-imposed hiatus for 6 months to work on some other projects, but was starting to run out of money. I had no access to government benefits and could barely score an interview, let alone an actual job. One of the few interviews I did manage was a group intake of 10 people, which received 800 total applications.  I didn’t get the job. I seemed to only ever score an interview if it was a group intake, and these seemed a waste of time as they were always those over-enthusiastic fake group interviews where they feed you jellybeans, make you wait around on beanbags and ask you ridiculous questions like “if you were a cartoon character, who would you be?” I always failed at those as they could see me gritting my teeth whenever I smiled. I eventually succeeded at one, only to be told I had to come all the way into the recruitment office to complete a timed 2 hour psychological assessment. For a job that paid $50,000 a year by the way – I wasn’t applying to be chief of the air force or anything. In the end they never rang me back anyway, which was partially a relief.

Still, my anxiety increased daily as I eroded my savings and then began to chip away at my credit limit. I confidently told other people about the abundance and providence of the universe, but it’s not always an easy thing to heed your own words when you’re $2,000 in debt on your credit card without a single possible means of generating the income to pay it off. Eventually though, I came to a profound realisation – everything else in my life had worked out to that point. I’d stared down the barrel of disaster many times before, but never been shot. It could easily have happened otherwise, but somehow, by means or someone or something, I had been protected. And I knew right then that I would continue to be so protected.

I was in the supermarket pushing a trolley full of groceries around, wondering how on earth I was going to pay back the credit card I was buying them on. And I surrendered to whatever had provided me with such profound protection to date. My exact thoughts were “oh well, even if I have to use up my entire $10,000.00 credit limit, pay full interest on it all and sell my beloved camera, something will work out. And even if I wasted a bit of money in the process, a year or two from now I’ll have bought another camera and will look back and wonder what on Earth I was so anxious about. The chance that I will starve or my whole life will collapse is literally nil.”

The following day, one of the agencies I’d been dealing with rang me. They were impressed with my performance in a previous interview, and although I didn’t get that particular job, they wanted me to start work at an insurance company the following week. No further interview required, no psychological tests. No jellybeans.

No, I didn’t compress the timeframe for the sake of the story, or make any other embellishments – it really did happen the following day. If my surrender had occurred during business hours, perhaps it would have happened the same day.

If you’re still caught up in worry or you’re fed up waiting for the universe to intervene in a longstanding case where no progress seems to be made, this may be the small move that makes all the difference. No-one knows with certainty how these things work, but the classic New Thought view is something like this: if we stubbornly hold to a particular outcome, the energy of our stubbornness blocks other options from entering our field. Somewhat paradoxically, once we lose the resistant energy, we often find our preferred option is the one that manifests, or an even better one that we hadn’t foreseen.

Or perhaps the universe consciously withholds things from us in order to teach us the simple, profound lesson that everything is OK – we are safe and are being taken care of.

Either way, it works.

A warrior only acts or responds; a fool reacts

It’s barely an exaggeration to say that I used to be one of the most reactive people in the world. I recall with partial amusement and partial horror an incident that occurred one Sunday morning while I was driving through a busy city road. A taxi had stopped in the middle of one of the lanes in order to wait for some passengers outside a hotel. I couldn’t change lanes because of the traffic, so I had no option but to wait – delaying my oh-so-important Sunday by – oh god knows, potentially a full thirty seconds. A minute even! Naturally this was unacceptable to my ego-mind, which decided it might be a constructive course of action to lean on the car horn and toot at the taxi in the hopes that it would forget about its passengers and move out of the way. Amazingly, it didn’t – so in order to save face, my ego continued leaning on the horn until it ran out of air, emitting a high-pitched squeal and then falling silent.

My entire life was one reaction after another – whether it was to late trains, irritating people, machinery not working, or even something as simple as brushing my hair against a low hanging tree branch and disrupting my hairstyle. Of course, my frustration and occasional tantrums served no purpose, and only created extra suffering for me. What I ought to have done was learn to practise complete surrender to everything that came my way.

When I began to incorporate this kind of surrender into my life, late trains became opportunities to focus on work for a few extra minutes, since being confined in a train station was a good opportunity to work without distraction or temptation to move around. Irritating people became potentially serendipitous encounters, which might lead to the forming of some important business or personal relationship, whether with the irritator himself or an acquaintance of his. Faulty machinery became an opportunity to reconsider my approach to a task, and determine if there was a better way to move forward – or perhaps whether I should abandon the task altogether. And even good ol’ brushes against tree branches? Well, lacking any obvious advantages, they simply became another good way to hone my surrender skills.

I’m not going to tell you that every single irritation that comes my way now has profound meaning. Sometimes an irritating person at the bus stop is simply that – they don’t always introduce me to multimillionaire uncles who want to go into partnership with me. Sometimes when my train is cancelled, I don’t meet my future wife on the next one. Sometimes when friends cancel plans at the last minute, I actually end up spending the night bored and alone instead of discovering the alchemical formula for turning ash into gold.

But there’s no doubt that synchronicities increase in proportion to the extent that we surrender and accept the things that come our way. And if there’s nothing to be gained from the inconvenience, sometimes the cancelled train will magically reinstate itself. The machinery will spontaneously unbreak itself. The irritating stranger will get called away by someone even more irritating than themselves.  Approach life with the assumption that all inconveniences are either “meant to be” or they will mysteriously dissolve, and watch how often your assumption comes true – it won’t always happen, but very often it will.

And on the purely natural level, it’s nice to not make a complete fool of yourself every time a taxi blocks your way.

 

N.B. The title of this post is a reference to Dan Millman’s classic spiritual novel, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior.

Turning a crisis into a spiritual opportunity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All is well, and we are safe.