Physical immortality – the folly of New Thought

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It will all be alright in the end; if it’s not alright, it’s not the end

One of the most important aspects of learning to spiritually manifest things into reality is learning to detach ourselves from any concern about the mechanism by which our desires will be brought into reality. We must live in the end, and know with confidence that our success is assured – and we do not concern ourselves whatsoever with the means by which the end will be fulfilled. The infinite intelligence of the universe will work things out, perhaps by the most unlooked-for series of events, and it is not our place to second guess infinite intelligence by prescribing what circumstances are necessary for the end to be fulfilled – instead we leave all of that to the Power that knows all.

Although we possess creative power in our thoughts, we too are creations – creations of the Universal Spirit, which used precisely the same process of manifestation to bring us into reality. In The Creative Process in the Individual, Thomas Troward explains that the Universal Spirit, being entirely nonphysical, has only one mode of operation – which is thought. Before the created universe came into being, there was absolutely nothing for the Spirit to contemplate other than itself. It could not manifest anything besides itself, simply because it could not think of anything that is not itself – for spirit, being infinite, is already everything. Therefore, we are the manifestation of the Universal Spirit’s contemplation of itself. Hence it is written that man is made “in the image and likeness of God”. We are microcosms of the Universal Spirit and possess precisely the same creative power.

Although we already exist as true physical beings, the Universal Spirit’s manifestation of us is by no means complete. It is impossible that the Spirit could contemplate itself as anything less than absolutely perfect; therefore the operation will only be complete once each and every human evolves into its perfected state. We are predestined to become God in individualised form, and all the Spirit’s dealings with us are ultimately geared towards that end.

So the process of our evolution is precisely the same process of manifestation known to us, except inverted. In this grand thought of God’s, the end is absolutely assured – humanity will become perfected; each one of us will become individualised representations of the perfection of God. And as God is the thinker of this grand thought, then the means by which it is accomplished is left entirely in our hands. To use an anthropomorphic term, God waits patiently for the full manifestation of his grand thought, and does not concern himself in the least with the means by which the thought is accomplished. The process of manifestation is identical, but the roles are reversed.

As I have discussed previously, Spirit in its universal form is infinite, and therefore completely indifferent to the means by which the thought is accomplished. Spirit is only capable of expressing a preference when it is in finite, individualised form. The infinitude of the Universal Spirit precludes any possibility of it expressing a preference for anything, because if it were to prefer one thing, it must necessarily not prefer another thing. As soon as we speak of the Universal Spirit as being not anything, we are placing a limitation upon the infinite.  The Universal Spirit’s only will is the inherent will of its nature. It wills – nay it must by its very nature – continue to ever increase its livingness, through eternal evolution. It created man – or itself in finite, individualised form – simply because it was the best way to further this evolution of the physical universe.

As individualised spirit, we have no choice as to whether we continue to evolve into perfection or not, for that is assured by the thought of God. But we can choose whether we do things the easy way or the hard way. God does not care about the means – that is entirely in our hands. We are “man the measurer” – created to be the decision making faculty of God, in order to futher the evolution of the whole and bring the glory of its completeness into concrete, manifested form.  Yes, the power of the Spirit is ours to use throughout our journey. If we ask its assistance, and believe with faith that we will receive it, then it will respond to our faith and assist us in any way that we ask. But it will not determine the means by which its grand thought is accomplished – we must do that ourselves, by making the first move.

By understanding this, we arrive at the conception of a God that is infinitely powerful, infinitely loving – for it does not stop loving itself simply because it has taken on individualed form – and cares deeply about our ultimate destiny, but does not care one whit about our temporal sufferings, unless we ask it to remedy them. For it knows that we are completely safe, and that all misfortunes and sufferings along the way to our eventual glorious end are of no more concern than a stubbed toe. It responds to our directing of its will, because we are its decision making faculty, but of itself it is indifferent to such trifles.  It knows more deeply than we can appreciate that the end is absolutely assured. What may seem like a disaster is nothing of the sort, and cannot of itself move the eternal indifference of its infinitude.  Only if we request and expect to receive divine assistance does it stir.

If we accept the principles of the creative process at all then we cannot entertain even the slightest fragment of a doubt that we will eventually reach the stage of perfected humanity, since the Universal Spirit cannot be conceived of as ever stopping short of its object.  Let us remember this and live our lives with full joy and confidence, knowing that absolutely everything works out in the end. And if we’ve been doing things the hard way instead of the easy way, be assured that this is not the Spirit’s will for us.  Again, it has no will at all about the means; that is merely the inevitable effect of the causes that we set in motion by our thoughts and actions. If you have lived a life of suffering, know that you are not cursed and it’s not karma – and you can begin today to set trains of causation in motion which will bring happier effects to you in their turn.

Nor should we take the state of the world to heart, or concern ourselves too deeply with its future. By setting a positive example in our circle of influence, we are doing our part in the great plan. Do not let it trouble you when others around you or people in power fall short, or even act in overtly evil ways. The Universal Spirit will even use the corruption, greed and wickedness of men to shape the world for the better. Do not be so swept up in the individualism and human-worship of the modern world that we forget who is really in charge. To worry or to concern ourselves is absurd – the Universal Mind can never fail to bring its grand thought into reality, for us and for the world.

Why don’t we clear trapped emotions between lifetimes?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Law of Attraction does not work… but here’s what does

Many frustrated would-be millionaires will sympathise with the title of this article. And I mean it.  The Law of Attraction – when viewed in the way that modern popular spiritual teaching portrays it – simply does not work for the vast majority of people. The flaw of the premise is inherent in the very phrase ‘Law of attraction’. It implies that you’re trying to bring something in which you do not already possess. Taking this attitude creates an energetic gulf between your current ‘not-havingness’ and the thing you’re attempting to bring into your life, and creates resistant energy as your frustrated desires intensify.

The spiritual world is a complex, intricate piece of machinery, and its correct operation requires a profound change in our entire method of living. We must become something new spiritually, before we can expect the material side of life to catch up with our new identity. Expecting to remain precisely who we are while exploiting one of the laws of the spiritual realm for material gain is like attempting to grab hold of one of the cogs of the machine and use force of strength to manually grind it into motion. It inverts the natural operation of the machine and causes exertion and exhaustion. Exhaustion creates resistant energy which limits our results, and also means that our attempts are limited by our willpower.

Instead of trying to sneakily manipulate the universe into doing our bidding, what we need to do is gradually wake up to our true nature, and the true purpose of that nature. We are an instrument of the Universal Spirit – in a reciprocal relationship with it – created to give particular, individual expression to the beauty and glory of the Uncreated Formless. Our reciprocal relationship means that, on one hand, we are “man the measurer” – a phrase coined by Thomas Troward – the purpose of which is to direct the will of the Universal Spirit through the agency of our own individual will. And on the other hand, we are the vulnerable half of the shepherd-and-sheep relationship so frequently alluded to in the bible.  As the measurer, we lead the Universal Spirit by differentiating and distributing its infinite, formless energy.  As the sheep, we receive inspiration and guidance from the shepherd as to how best use that energy to bring the glory of the Infinite Formless into solid form.

As man the measurer, we choose what we wish to do and create in life, and this becomes a unique expression of the absolute in particular form. The Universal Spirit guides us towards the correct application of this will, and arranges guidance and circumstances to enable to fulfilment of such expression in the highest and best possible way for its own expression of itself. By allowing the fullest and highest expression of the Universal to unfold in us, our own personal evolution is furthered in the highest and best way.

This is the true purpose of life – to reproduce the glory of the Unmanifested in manifested form. Any spiritual teaching that loses sight of this is not an accurate representation of spiritual truth. Any spiritual teaching that reduces the entire spiritual plan to a mechanical formula for material gain has utterly perverted spiritual truth.  It’s sad to say, but how often is this even mentioned in popular spiritual teaching?  Sure, go to a traditional yoga or meditation class and you‘ll have a chance of hearing it, as long as it’s not one of those despiritualised and sanitised gym classes.  But how often do you hear it on YouTube, or Oprah, or any popular outlet for new age spirituality?  Such outlets are dominated by people who think you‘re a spiritual failure if you don‘t have a Lamborghini parked in the driveway.  On YouTube especially, the phrase ‘Law of Attraction’ generates 10 times the clicks of anything else.  Material gain is far and away the most saleable aspect of spiritual growth, even though the neverending plea of true spirituality throughout the ages has been that the material world is worthless next to the spiritual.

Still, these laws do work purely for self-advancement and in complete independence of any deeper spiritual understanding, if you’re one of the very few people who can maintain the exact mental sweet spot required to gain results.  But it’s highly unwise to do so.  In the parable of the wedding feast from the twenty-second chapter of Matthew, Troward sees a specific warning against those who would try to use spiritual truths as though they were nothing but physical laws to be manipulated.  From chapter 10 of Troward’s Bible Mystery and Bible Meaning:

“The same idea is repeated in the parable of the man who contrived to get into the wedding feast without the wedding garment. The Divine Marriage is the attainment by the individual mind of conscious union with the Universal Mind or ‘the Spirit’; and the feast, as in the parable of the Prodigal Son, signifies the joy which results from the attainment of Perfect Liberty, which means power over all the resources of the universe, whether within us or around us.

Now, as I have already pointed out, the only way in which this power can be used safely and profitably is through that recognition of its Source, which makes it in all points subservient to the Law of Love, and this was precisely what the intruder did not realise. He is the type of the man who fails in exactly the opposite way to the servant who buries his Lord’s talent in the earth. This man has cultivated his powers to the uttermost, and so is able to enter along with the other guests. He has attained that Knowledge of the Laws of the spiritual side of Nature which gives him a place at that Table of the Lord, which is the storehouse of the Infinite; but he has missed the essential point of all his Knowledge, the recognition that the Law of Power is one with the Law of Love, and so, desiring to separate the Divine Power from the Divine Love, and to grasp the one while rejecting the other, he finds that the very Laws of which he has made himself master, by his knowledge, overwhelm him with their own tremendousness, and by their reflex action become the servants who bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness. The Divine Power can never be separated with impunity from the Divine Love and Guidance.”

Are you manifesting from circumstances, or from First Cause?

More wisdom from Thomas Troward. From his magnum opus, the Edinburgh Lectures on Mental Science, Troward here discusses a crucial aspect to using the Law of Attraction effectively. We must train our mind to make use of First Cause – that is, the originating spiritual energy from which all things are created – and not concern ourselves with the web of circumstances – or secondary causes – that we find ourselves presently entangled in. After all, all of these secondary causes are simply the result of our use or misuse of first cause:

“But now when investigation has shown us that conditions are never causes in themselves, but only the subsequent links of a chain started on the plane of the pure ideal, what we have to do is to reverse our method of thinking and regard the ideal as the real, and the outward manifestation as a mere reflection which must change with every change of the object which casts it. For these reasons it is essential to know whether we are consciously making use of first cause with a definite purpose or not, and the criterion is this. If we regard the fulfilment of our purpose as contingent upon any circumstances, past present, or future, we are not making use of first cause; we have descended to the level of secondary causation, which is the region of doubts, fears and limitations, all of which we are impressing upon the universal subjective mind with the inevitable result that it will build up corresponding external conditions. But if we realise that the region of secondary causes is the region of mere reflections we shall not think of our purpose as contingent on any conditions whatever, but shall know that by forming the idea of it in the absolute, and maintaining that idea, we have shaped the first cause into the desired form and can await the result with cheerful expectancy.

It is here that we find the importance of realising spirit’s independence of time and space. An ideal, as such, cannot be formed in the future. It must either be formed here and now or not be formed at all; and it is for this reason that every teacher, who has ever spoken with due knowledge of the subject, has impressed upon his followers the necessity of picturing to themselves the fulfilment of their desires as already accomplished on the spiritual plane, as the indispensable condition of fulfilment in the visible and concrete.

When this is properly understood, any anxious thought as to the means to be employed in the accomplishment of our purposes is seen to be quite unnecessary. If the end is already secured, then it follows that all the steps leading to it are secured also.”

When we find ourselves doubting the possibility of our desires coming true, whether because of existing circumstances or past experiences, let us remember Troward’s wisdom. All our existing adverse circumstances, negative past experiences, personality traits or whatever excuse we may make for why things will not go our way – all these are nothing but the experience that flows from our past use of first cause. Let us erase those experiences and circumstances and create new ones, by remembering that the infinite intelligence that creates worlds cares not one whit for any of it. What may seem impossible for us is nothing to it.

Limitations are imposed upon our lives only because we believe in the circumstances, and thereby give them tangible reality. “I’m too shy for that”, we say. “I’ve always had bad luck in that area”, “people just don’t like me”, or “I don’t have the gumption to put that into practise.” Whatever excuses we make for why our desires cannot come true becomes absolutely real to us. But these limitations are not inherent in our constitution – they are self perpetuated because we take them as our starting point, instead of rising above them with First Cause.

It’s like a gramophone record that’s stuck in a particular groove. While the needle is stuck, it’s impossible to ever hear anything else from the record. All the most diligent efforts in the world will not make it play something new. Most of us are playing a stuck record in our heads that contains all the limiting programming that keeps our life stuck in a groove. Instead of trying to work within the confines of that stuck groove, we need to grab the tonearm and change the track to a more favourable one – or smash the record altogether!

Every age has its great spiritual error. Here is ours.

The commonly held view in modern spiritual circles is that organised Christianity’s promotion of poverty and asceticism was a misinterpretation of Christ’s warnings against riches, and that this led to that great error of the past – thinking that money is evil and unspiritual. This is indeed a grave error, but unfortunately modern spiritual thinking involves an equally monumental mistake – which is that chasing and accumulating vast sums of money is a legitimate object of the spiritual life.

This new “abundance mindset” offered by mainstream spiritual thinking is even less in line with Christ’s words than the poverty consciousness it replaced. There is no getting around it – Christ says “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of heaven. For 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.” (Luke 18:24 -25).

The Kingdom of Heaven represents the internal state of spiritual enlightenment. Christ plainly states here that if we view spiritual operation as a means of mere material growth, we will almost certainly never reach a state of enlightenment. Christianity’s error was to take these words as a declaration that all wealth is evil. Modern spiritual thinking falls into the exact opposite trap by declaring all wealth to be good and conveniently bypassing all Christ’s teachings to the contrary.

It’s true that Christ never teaches poverty as a requirement for following the spiritual path. But he does teach it as a requirement for perfection, as when he told the young man: “If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven.” (Matthew 19:21.)

Furthermore, when sending his apostles out to preach, he instructs them not to take anything more than the bare essentials:

“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils: freely have you received, freely give. Do not possess gold, nor silver, nor money in your purses. Nor scrip for your journey, nor two coats, nor shoes, nor a staff.” (Matthew 10:8-10).

So Christ, the most enlightened being ever to walk the earth, preached as he lived – and his life and teachings were one grand sermon on poverty. So why is modern spiritual teaching so enamoured with the idea of amassing vast sums of money?

However, here we must make a crucial distinction, and one that is missed in all erroneous teachings on the spirituality of money. The distinction is between poverty and lack. Poverty means personally owning nothing, or nothing but the bare essentials. Lack means actually suffering the deprivation of something essential – so lacking sufficient food, clothing or shelter. Christ practised poverty, but he never suffered lack. In fact Christ’s entire life could be seen as a perfect sermon on this precise topic. He lived his life in poverty, because had complete trust in the providence of the universal spirit. He did not need to stockpile money or supplies, because he knew the infinite treasury of heaven was always open to him. All he had to do was “ask and it shall be given you…knock and it shall be opened.” (Matthew 7:7).

Thus did he strictly charge the apostles to go on their journey in the same manner – taking no preparations for the journey, but simply trusting that all would be provided by heaven. It is not the poverty itself that Christ was teaching us, but the trust that must necessarily accompany it, and the detachment from worldly concerns that must precede any ascent to great spiritual heights.

Modern Law of Attraction practitioners often teach that the best way of getting into alignment with our desires is to act as though they are already fulfilled. With this in mind, the best way to act as though heaven will provide for your every need is to make no preparations of your own, and live entirely by trusting the storehouse of heaven. This is the true abundance mindset, and people who spend their lives stockpiling riches in unthinking rebellion to Christianity’s poverty fetish have missed the point entirely. The rejection of one error has simply led to the opposite error. As with all things in life, the truth lies at the mean between the extremes.

I must also repeat that living in poverty is one of Christ’s counsels of perfection. Christ came to make men perfect, but not everyone is sufficiently evolved to follow his path to the utmost, and of course he was well aware of this. For those of us who are not yet ready to abandon all things and live entirely off the providence of the universe, we can apply Christ’s teachings simply by becoming more neutral to money, and seeking spiritual enlightenment ahead of material gain. Paradoxically, this makes money easier to obtain anyway because too great a desire for it causes resistant energy. Thus Christ tells us: “Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33).

By this method, we may or may not end up with limitless riches – but it doesn’t matter. We will live a far more fulfilling life and will evolve our souls to a much higher degree than we ever could by making money the end goal in itself. Again, the modern error is that wealth is the only worthwhile yardstick for one’s success in life. Health, happiness, wisdom and love are fine as well, but they are not quantifiable. People judge themselves to be a success once they’ve made their first million dollars – but there’s no similar benchmark for the others.

Study after study shows that once people have their basic needs met, there is absolutely no correlation between money, happiness and love anyway. And what are we here for but the evolution of our souls? There are so many experiences a soul can have to further their evolution – many of them involve no worldly success whatsoever. Modern spiritual thinking judges this to be a failure, because it views wordly success as a sign of inward spiritual alignment.

Indeed the great teacher Thomas Troward agrees with them, up to a point. The material side of life should not be despised, he says, because it represents the spiritual. In other words, if we are in genuine material lack, then something has gone wrong spiritually – we are yet to learn Christ’s lessons about the providence of the universe. But if we go to the other extreme and live purely for the material, we’ve missed something equally important – the detachment from wealth that Christ says will make us perfect. For, as he says, “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3). That is, it is not necessary that we be materially poor – only that we be detached from wealth. But this crucial distinction is almost completely absent from modern spiritual writing.

Freeing ourselves from limitation is indeed one portion of the spiritual path. There is no benefit to be gained from holding on to the outdated notion that having money is wicked, immoral, or unspiritual, and that lack is the only acceptable path. But the idea that there is nothing to be gained from any life that falls short of unbridled wealth and luxury is every bit as much a limitation as the former. It’s a fear based limitation proceeding on the false assumption that a life without material wealth must be a life of suffering.

Of course, having money gives us no guarantee of avoiding suffering whatsoever – but having sufficient spiritual wealth does indeed offer such a promise.

“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 consumes, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.” (Matthew 6:19 – 21).

Why does God allow suffering and evil? The answer at last!

One of the biggest philosophical questions of all time – which has been a great stumbling block to many on their spiritual journey – is the problem of why an all-powerful, all-loving god allows suffering and evil to exist in the world. The usual reply supplied by explicitly religious sources is that God gives us the capability of free will, and if he were to impose limits on our will it then it would cease to be free at all.

But this then gives rise to the equally unfathomable questions: is free will really so much more important than the creation of a wholesome society? Couldn’t God at least have created us with morally superior natures, to enable us to freely choose more wisely than we do?

One of the great minds of the 20th century, Thomas Troward, gives us the answer, in his book The Word and the Law. The following is a substantial quote and may seem overly philosophical or intellectual to modern readers. I urge you to read it nevertheless, as it is the only satisfactory answer to the question that I have ever come across. My own very brief summary will appear at the end.

“Then the question very naturally suggests itself: Why did not God create us so that we could not think negative or destructive thoughts? And the answer is: Because He could not. There are some things which even God cannot do. He cannot do anything that involves a contradiction in terms. Even God could not make twice two either more or less than four. Now I want the student to see clearly why making us incapable of wrong-thinking would involve a contradiction in terms, and would therefore be an impossibility. To see this we must realize what is our place in the Order of the Universe. The name “Man” itself indicates this. It comes from the Sanskrit root MN, which, in all its derivatives, conveys the idea of Measurement, as in the word Mind, through the Latin mens, the faculty which compares things and estimates them accordingly; Moon, the heavenly body whose phases afford the most obvious standard for the periodical measurement of time; Month, the period thus measured; “Man,” the largest of the Indian weights; and so on. Man therefore means “The Measurer,” and this very aptly describes our place in the order of evolution, for it indicates the relation between Personal Volition and Immutable Law.

If we grant the truth of the maxim “Nature unaided fails” the whole thing becomes clear, and the entire progress of applied science proves the truth of this maxim. To recur to an illustration I have employed in my previous books, the old ship-builders thought that ships were bound to be built of wood and not of iron, because wood floats in water and iron sinks; but now nearly all ships are made of iron. Yet the specific gravities of wood and iron have not altered, and a log of wood floats while a lump of iron sinks, just the same as they did in the days of Drake and Frobisher. The only difference is, that people thought out the underlying principle of the law of flotation, and reduced it to the generalized statement that anything will float, the weight of which is less than that of the mass displaced by it, whether it be an iron ship floating in water, or a balloon floating in air. So long as we restrict ourselves to the mere recollection of observed facts, we shall make no progress; but by carefully considering why any force acted in the way it did, under the particular conditions observed, we arrive at a generalization of principle, showing that the force in question is capable of hitherto unexpected applications if we provide the necessary conditions. This is the way in which all advances have been made on the material side, and on the principle of Continuity we may reasonably infer that the same applies to the spiritual side also.

We may generalize the whole position thus. When we first observe the working of the Law under the conditions spontaneously provided by Nature, it appears to limit us; but by seeking the reason of the action exhibited under these limited conditions, we discover the principle, and true nature, of the Law in question, and we then learn from the Law itself, what conditions to supply in order to give it more extended scope, and direct its energy to the accomplishment of definite purposes. The maxim we have to learn is that “Every Law contains in itself the principle of its own Expansion,” which will set us free from the limitation which that Law at first appeared to impose upon us. The limitation was never in the Law, but in the conditions under which it was working, and our power of selection and volition enables us to provide new conditions, not spontaneously provided by Nature, and thus to specialize the Law, and disclose immense powers which had always been latent in it, but which would for ever remain hidden unless brought to light by the co-operation of the Personal Factor. The Law itself never changes, but we can specialize it by realizing the principle involved and providing the conditions thus indicated. This is our place in the Order of the Universe. We give definite direction to the action of the Law, and in this way our Personal Factor is always acting upon the law, whether we know it or not; and the Law, under the influence thus impressed upon it, is all the time re-acting upon us.

Now we cannot conceive any limit to Evolution. To suppose a point where it comes to an end is a contradiction in terms. It is to suppose that the Eternal Life Principle is used up, which is to deny its Eternity; and, as we have seen, unless we assume its Eternity, it is impossible to account either for our own existence or that of anything else. Therefore, to say that a point will ever be reached where it will be used up, is as absurd as saying that a point will be reached where the sequence of numbers will be used up. Evolution, the progress from lower to higher modes of manifestation of the underlying Principle of Life, is therefore eternal, but, in regard to the human race, this progress depends entirely on the extent to which we grasp the principles of the Law of our own Being, and so learn to specialize it in the right direction. Then if this be our place in the Universal Order, it becomes clear that we could not occupy this place unless we had a perfectly free hand to choose the conditions under which the Law is to operate; and therefore, in order to pass beyond the limits of the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms, and reach the status of being Persons, and not things, we must have a freedom of selection and volition, which makes it equally possible for us to select either rightly or wrongly; and the purpose of sound teaching is to make us see the eternal principles involved, and thus lead us to impress our Personality upon the Law, in the way that will bring out the infinite possibilities of good which the Law, rightly employed, contains. If it were possible to do this by an automatic Law, doubtless the Creative Wisdom would have made us so. This is why St. Paul says: “If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law” (Gal. iii, 21). Note the words “a law given,” that is to say, imposed by external command; but it could not be. The laws of the Universe are Cosmic. In themselves they are impersonal, and the infinite possibilities contained in them, can only be brought out by the co-operation of the Personal Factor. It is only as we grasp the true relation between Jachin and Boaz, that we can enter into the Temple either of our own Individuality, or of the boundless Universe in which we live. The reason, therefore, why God did not make us mechanically incapable of wrong thinking, is simply because the very idea involves a contradiction in terms, which negatives all possibility of Creation. The conception lands us in a reductio ad absurdum.”

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

The only way in which the eternal limitless can make such decisions is by becoming limited – that is, by taking on physical incarnation. After various incarnations through the animal kingdom, eventually a soul becomes sufficiently evolved to take on human incarnation. It is at this point that the soul is invested with the capability of free will, rather than the pure instinct that drives the lower beasts. By being granted this new ability, we become the decision making faculty of God. As the Universal Spirit cannot limit itself by making decisions while in infinite, unmanifested form, it delegates the role to its creation, man – the measurer. If man’s faculty of free will were taken away, he would be no man at all – but would be effectively still in the realm of the animals. His entire mission – that of being the decision-making faculty of God – would be nullified by removing the faculty of free will.

A soul’s transition from animal to human must come in the relatively early stages of its evolution, because a necessary part of attaining human perfection is to be incarnated multiple times in a human body. To impose human perfection as an entry requirement for incarnation would be a contradiction in terms – it would be like trying to improve academic grades by refusing anyone entry to school until they had already graduated.

If you did not fully appreciate the Troward quote, with this summary in mind I urge you to go back and read it again for a deeper understanding of the matter.  Search all the philosophy of all the world and you’ll never find a better explanation than his.

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.