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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to achieve your desires by giving up completely

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why lottery winners so often lose all their money – the reasons no-one ever talks about

You’ve probably head the strict Law of Attraction-based explanation for bankrupt lottery winners, which is that they were in subconscious resonance with winning the lottery, but not with having money. They are stuck in a poverty mindset, so even when a gigantic wad of money lands in their lap they feel the need to subconsciously rid themselves of it to make their programming come true.

While there may be some truth in that, it doesn’t adequately explain how they got the money in the first place if they’re not in resonance with it. In fact their good fortune seems to rather contradict this theory. Nevertheless, while not denying the possibility of it contributing, a more detailed explanation is needed. Here is mine.

G.K. Chesterton once wrote that a balanced life must involve a certain amount of dissatisfaction as well as satisfaction, because without the dissatisfaction it’s impossible to appreciate the moments of satisfaction. If you quit your job, you’d better make sure you’re pursuing some deeply edifying, fulfilling purpose in your free time. If you spend every day at the beach instead, you’ll soon get bored of it. This explains why many older people voluntarily return to the workplace a year or two into their long-awaited retirement.

In short, there’s no Friday without Monday. It is possible to live a deeply enjoyable life, but it needs to be a life of purpose, not a life of endless leisure. Chesterton’s observation does not apply to people in states of advanced enlightenment, but to the average person living a purely natural human existence and relying on natural experiences for fulfillment, one cannot live forever in a state of untempered ease. Counter-intuitively, it leads to a state of ennui and a desire for greater thrills – because basing your satisfaction on purely natural, physical stimuli instead of the deeper, more fundamental desire to evolve spiritually can never satisfy us deeply or permanently.

Furthermore, most of us feel a certain sense of excitement when contemplating the future because we expect that our future will hold many exciting experiences. These experiences may be spread thinly over a long period of time, but the anticipation of exciting things to come tends to give most people a sense of optimism and hope for the future. Most of us have things we want to experience and achieve, and knowing that the happy day will eventually come reassures us that our time here isn’t wasted. Lottery winners may find that they have reached the end of their entire list within the space of six months or a year. What’s left to look forward to? Why are they no longer living in daily ecstasy like they were immediately after their win? Why have their unhappy souls – yearning for true spiritual fulfillment – reasserted their true miserable state?

This is when the spending often starts to escalate. Bigger houses and cars, more luxurious holidays and more lavish food and drink are all common ways of attempting to plug the god-shaped hole in their souls. I needn’t bother to tell you the success rate of such attempts. Suffice it to say, the desire to be reunited with our true infinite nature can only be satisfied by cultivating a deep connection with the infinite. Attempting to satisfy infinite desires with money would make a person spend an infinite amount of money, if it were available. Alas, the money eventually runs out and the desire remains unfulfilled.

While many lottery winners hold the belief that spending an infinite amount of money is the answer to all of life’s problems, many billionaire businessmen seem to think that making an infinite amount of money is the answer. Why else would they spend their entire lives in the pursuit of more money, despite having more than enough for 10 lifetimes already? With that amount of wealth, any conceivable life path is open to them – they have the means to spend their lives doing literally anything they’re physically capable of. But out of all the available options, they choose to spend their lives sitting around in boardrooms making more money. This demonstrates that we love the thought of money and the dreams that it brings much more than the reality of it. The dreams represent that ineffable something that our soul yearns for, and the more money we have, the more we get to share in that dream. But most of the time the chase is better than the catch, because money can only make us happy if it is used to cultivate our purpose. If it is used purely for self-indulgence then it has the ability to distract us from our purpose, destroy our bodies and even destroy our lives.

I like to think that winning the lottery has absolutely nothing to do with luck, and everything to do with learning these precise lessons. Perhaps at some stage in our evolution we all win the lottery, or inherit a fortune, or amass millions by starting a business. If you’re already on a spiritual path, you’ve probably already learnt that lesson. So save your money by not buying lottery tickets. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can attract a lottery win with your thoughts, and don’t fall into that trap of thinking “But I have so many wonderful ideas I could carry out with the money! I could help others and pursue my worthwhile passions. Why should others get millions just to waste it, when a more worthy recipient like I misses out?”

Worthy as you may be, people with these ideas never seem to be the people who win the lottery. Perhaps they are and we just don’t hear about them, but I suggest that people with bigger ideas are ready for the bigger lessons. Chief among these lessons is to plan the big ideas first, then trust in the infinite intelligence of the universe to bring them to fruition. Dream big and wait for the money to arrive when it’s needed – rather than chasing money with some vague pretenses of good to justify it. When we do the latter, what we’re really seeking is a life without lessons. A life where everything comes easily and without effort is a life of stagnation, not evolution. If that were the best thing for us, we would never have come here in the first place.

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

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

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

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

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

Sydney Banks: The dream state is more real than our waking experience

Sydney Banks was a minimally educated Scottish labourer who, in the 1970s, had a spontaneous and inexplicable spiritual awakening. He truly was an enlightened man – a master wilfully reincarnated into a lowly station, no doubt – and shortly after his experience he quit his long term labouring job and, with no plan, embarked on his life’s work of spreading the truth about the nature of reality. He founded the Three Principles philosophy and spent the remainder of his life lecturing. He repeatedly taught that enlightenment could not be communicated through words – because words are form, and enlightenment entails understanding the true spiritual reality, which exists before form came into being. It is formless. That is why in the below quote, he says that the problems of the universe can be solved “only from here” – that is, only from within.

I found his words about the dream state being more real than the waking state to be particularly striking. With only a superficial understanding of their meaning, the words may sound like a vacuous Instagram quote – but with a deeper understanding, they become powerful fuel for meditation. With a true spiritual understanding, they contain the essence of all there is to be known about the true nature of life. This is one of my favourite sections from all of Banks’ lectures. Its true meaning will reveal itself with multiple readings, and some meditation.

Read on for the enlightened words of a truly humble, generous man – a true master, Sydney Banks:

“What everybody searches for lies within their own self. It’s an identity that you’ve lost. That’s what it is – it’s an identity that you’ve lost. It’s you – you’re lost. Not you the body; not you the little mind; but the energy – the true you – the true self. That thing that lies inside is a spiritual reality that lies within. And if you can see past what you see now and look within, and find a spiritual reality then the reality that you now see changes. Because the reality that you now see is the illusion – it is a dream. It’s called life. And it’s perfect. It’s a perfect dream. And nothing in this dream can be wrong. Nothing. It only appears wrong to the mind because only from the mind are there wrongs. And it’s the same mind that has created the life that we now see. It’s the creator of its own fear; but if you look within, there’s a greater creation. There’s the very essence of life. There inside you lies the place of the space where the dream is dreamt. And all you have to do is wake up. It’s like when you’re having a nightmare – and it’s real. You feel the pain. You feel the fear. You feel the hate. You feel everything in the nightmare – and it’s true. What you see is true; it really is – it’s as true in that reality as it is now. As a matter of fact, in the dream state, you are closer to the true reality of life than you are when you’re awake focusing only from your mind. But if you’re having a nightmare and you wake up, you know the feeling – you say ‘thank God it was just a nightmare.’ And this is the same as waking up spiritually. You start to wake up. The second you see your first spiritual fact – your Christ consciousness is touched. And at that second, that is when you start to wake up. And if you ever truly wake up, you’ll wake up from the nightmare to the beautiful, absolute truth of the inner self – the oneness; the realisation that all things are one single divine thought, broken up into pieces via Christ conscious states and the illusion of mankind. We have forgotten how to wake up to see what is instead of what isn’t. Because what we see really – really – isn’t real. The true reality lies within. And if you can go within, from here – and only from here – only from here can the troubles and the problems of the universe be solved.”

Surrender to the universe and it will surrender to you

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Either way, it works.

Thomas Troward on how the law of attraction works

I’m half way through an extraordinary book by the seminal New Thought philosopher Thomas Troward, called The Edinburgh Lectures on Mental Science.  I’m recording the entire thing as an audiobook for free download, but for the moment I’ll be content to share some snippets.  Here’s one from chapter 8, titled The Reciprocal Action of the Universal and Individual Minds.  The Universal Mind is, of course, Troward’s term for God, the Universe, the source energy, whatever you care to call it.  Troward here explains the mechanics of the creative process of the individual mind when it impresses its will upon the blank slate of the Universal Mind – i.e. the Law of Attraction:

“It is for this reason that I lay so much stress on the combination of two apparent opposites in the Universal Mind, the union of intelligence with impersonality. The intelligence not only enables it to receive the impress of our thought, but also causes it to devise exactly the right means for bringing it into accomplishment. This is only the logical result of the hypothesis that we are dealing with infinite Intelligence which is also infinite Life. Life means Power, and infinite life therefore means limitless power; and limitless power moved by limitless intelligence cannot be conceived of as ever stopping short of the accomplishment of its object; therefore, given the intention on the part of the Universal Mind, there can be no doubt as to its ultimate accomplishment. Then comes the question of intention. How do we know what the intention of the Universal Mind may be? Here comes in the element of impersonality.  It has no intention, because it is impersonal. As I have already said, the Universal mind works by a law of averages for the advancement of the race, and is in no way concerned with the particular wishes of the individual. If his wishes are in line with the forward movement of the everlasting principle, there is nowhere in Nature any power to restrict him in their fulfillment. If they are opposed to the general forward movement, then they will bring him into collision with it, and it will crush him. From the relation between them it results that the same principle which shows itself in the individual mind as Will, becomes in the universal mind a Law of Tendency; and the direction of this tendency must always be to life-givingness, because the universal mind is the undifferentiated Life-spirit of the universe. Therefore in every case the test is whether our particular intention is in this same lifeward direction: and if it is, then we may be absolutely certain that there is no intention on the part of the Universal Mind to thwart the intention of our own individual mind; we are dealing with a purely impersonal force, and it will no more oppose us by specific plans of its own than will steam or electricity. Combining then, these two aspects of the Universal Mind, its utter impersonality and its perfect intelligence, we find precisely the sort of natural force we are in want of, something which will undertake whatever we put into its hands without asking questions or bargaining for terms, and which, having undertaken our business, will bring to bear on it an intelligence to which the united knowledge of the whole human race is as nothing, and a power equal to this intelligence.

I may be using a rough and ready mode of expression, but my object is to bring home to the student the nature of the power he can employ and the method of employing it, and I may therefore state the whole position thus:—Your object is not to run the whole cosmos, but to draw particular benefits, physical, mental, moral, or financial into your own or someone else’s life. From this individual point of view the universal creative power has no mind of its own, and therefore you can make up its mind for it. When its mind is thus made up for it, it never abrogates its place as the creative power, but at once sets to work to carry out the purpose for which it has thus been concentrated; and unless this concentration is dissipated by the same agency (yourself) which first produced it, it will work on by the law of growth to complete manifestation on the outward plane.

In dealing with this great impersonal intelligence, we are dealing with the infinite, and we must fully realize infinitude as that which touches all points, and if it does, there should be no difficulty in understanding that this intelligence can draw together the means requisite for its purpose even from the ends of the world; and therefore, realizing the Law according to which the result can be produced, we must resolutely put aside all questioning as to the specific means which will be employed in any case. To question this is to sow that very seed of doubt which it is our first object to eradicate, and our intellectual endeavour should therefore be directed, not to the attempt to foretell the various secondary causes which will eventually combine to produce the desired result, laying down beforehand what particular causes should be necessary, and from what quarter they should come; but we should direct our intellectual endeavour to seeing more clearly the rationale of the general law by which trains of secondary causes are set in motion.”

Honesty is always the best policy – in life and in business

Multimillionaire Australian businessman Jim Penman, founder of the Jim’s group, attributes his success in business to his policy of applying scrupulous honesty in all his dealings with his franchisees, and always doing his utmost to look after their interests. In his book Selling without Selling, Jim tells the following story of his early days selling lawn mowing franchises, his first (and still most recognisable) foray into the business world:

“I had no people skills, I couldn’t take rejection, and I absolutely hated selling. I was a thoroughly awful salesman. But now, for my business to succeed, I had to sell mowing rounds consistently, month after month. I struggled with this problem for a couple of years and tried many ways to overcome it. I approached business agencies, experimented with different forms of advertising, even hired others to sell rounds for me. It came to the point where a professional salesman, on commission, sold rounds for me in my office while I either looked on or sat with my back to the scene, pretending to be involved in something else. If this sounds absurd, it was. It was also ineffective. I asked a family friend what I should do. ‘Be your own salesman,’ he said. ‘No one can sell your own business as well as you can.’ Easy for him to say. He had the charm and confidence that went with many years as a business manager. Not much help to a social incompetent like me.

But he was right, and one day I did learn how to sell. Which opened the door to a business far beyond anything I could have imagined. It happened because I was looking for advice on advertising, and went to see someone I knew who was partner in an advertising firm…

Eventually he invited me in and spent half an hour answering my questions. Advising me on media, how to word ads, anything he thought might help me out. And at the end of the interview, advised me that I really could organise and control my own advertising, and that at this stage I didn’t need an agency. I remember leaving the office feeling very impressed by this man and his agency – but then wondering why. He had not told me about his clients nor shown me any promotions. In fact, he had advised me not to use him. Yet I knew that if I ever did need an agency, I would use his without hesitation, without asking about price, and without considering any competitors. (Which I did a few later when we decided to run TV commercials). He had done nothing to sell me on his business, yet he had given me the most effective sales pitch of my life.”

Jim then decided to apply this approach when seeking his own clients. He continues:

“What if their best interests lay in not buying from me? I faced this challenge about a month later when a young man who had been to see me rang back for advice. He had been offered another round in the same area. Which did I think was better? I asked him all the relevant questions: the cut, the number of clients and how widely scattered they were… Then I did my sums. The other round worked out about ten per cent better value than mine. What to do? I was taking this approach to try and grow my business, but if I advised him fairly he would buy the other one. At this point what came to the fore was something that had been a standing joke in my family for years: my complete inability to tell a lie. There are a number of stories of me blurting out some inconvenient truth in response to a question, a symptom of my extreme social awkwardness. So in this case I just told the truth. I said the other business was better and advised him to buy it. He thanked me and hung up.”

The same thing happened with two other clients. Jim was feeling quite virtuous but a little discouraged, until something amazing happened. All three of them rang him back and bought from him!

“Amazing as it may seem, from that time on I had no more problems selling lawn mowing runs. And weirdest of all was that my own social ineptness, my biggest obstacle to successful sales, had become my greatest asset! I forgot about all other principles and focused on making my buyers into fans, a job which only just began when they bought the business. I would give them advice over the phone, provide free training seminars, be scrupulously fair in replacing lost clients, and buy back their businesses at the best possible price if they wanted to sell.”

Any reputable sales or marketing guru would say that Jim was crazy for telling the prospects not to buy from him. Yet his phenomenal success in business proves a very profound spiritual truth – when you go with the flow of the natural order, everything works out better. Honesty is in alignment with the natural order – dishonesty, sleaze and coercion are not.

Although readers may point out that the many of the richest people on the planet have not earned a reputation for resplendent scruples, if we exclude the top-tier wealthy (i.e. people with the ability to manipulate the system in their favour), I believe you’ll find that honesty is actually a powerful asset in business, as well as being an absolute must for anyone on a serious spiritual journey.

One of the problems with modern life is that everything has been over-studied and over-analysed to the point where it has been reduced to a formula. Everyone’s so busy trying to get the upper hand by manipulating people’s emotions that some very basic principles have been lost – principles which used to be fundamental to the majority of people’s lives.

Sales is one of those over-studied and over-formularised areas – hence why you can’t buy anything online these days without being subjected to a torrent of aggressive sales bullying. You know the drill, because you see it every time you buy anything online – upgrade to the luxury package within 24 hours to claim your exclusive discount, and if you choose to spend ten times more than what you originally intended to, you’ll get a never-to-be-repeated 90% saving on the extra products! Stocks are strictly limited so order now!

There’s no doubt that someone employing these kind of techniques would have much more impressive weekly sales statistics than Jim. But how many of these people go on to build lasting multi-million dollar international empires? How far can sleazy marketing really take you before people cotton on and refuse to do business with you? How many businesses have had meteoric rises on the back of these kind of tricks – then have spectacularly crashed and burnt? You’ve all heard the stories.

Politicians are another example of things being studied and formularised to the point of ruination. The idea may have made some sense in the beginning – after all, why not put your best foot forward and deliver your message in a way that resonates with voters? And because the initial strategies worked, politicians assumed that more must be better. Now everything that comes out of their mouths has been focus group tested and spun to within an inch of its life. Somewhere along the line, all authenticity and honesty was lost from the equation and virtually all politicians became loathsome walking focus groups, despised by all and sundry. If a politician appeared who actually spoke honestly and directly to the public, he’d be a shoo-in at any election.

So be honest with others, and above all else – be honest with yourself. Not only are you developing and cultivating your own integrity by doing so, but you’re setting a good example. You’ll never be caught in lies and your reputation as an honest person will precede you. Live an ordered life in unison with life and the universe, and the universe will look after you beyond your wildest expectations.

Turning a crisis into a spiritual opportunity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All is well, and we are safe.