A prayer for safety

In previous posts I have shared affirmative prayers for protection and for times of turmoil. Today I am sharing a prayer for SAFETY as we hear the news and watch the public health data that reports increasing cases of COVID-19 across the nation, and in fact, the world.

While some of us have the luxury of working remotely and being able to self-isolate and order what we need from Amazon and other retailers; many others are going straight into the mouth of the beast, every day.

Whether working in education, healthcare, retail or some other area that requires us to show up and be around other people, there is some sense of worry – no matter HOW strong we are, or how positive we think.

Utilizing the same format as the recent Prayer for Health, I share the following prayer for safety.

Each day, in each place where I stand, I lift my head and square my shoulders, knowing that Spirit and I are one, and that I am never alone. I recognize the Power and the Presence everywhere – across time and space. From within this omnipresence, I accept my oneness with the Infinite, and I affirm that the Universal Spirit of Good expresses in, as and through all of Life as It expresses in, as and through me [and in, as and through the person for whom I am speaking this].

This means that, regardless of how it seems, my/[their] steps are divinely guided, safely along my/[their] journey. I/[They] walk in the protective Light of the Divine and I/[they] find the information, people and supports that are needed at every turn in the road. I am/[S/he is] always in the right place, at the right time, and am so confident in this Truth that even when things APPEAR to be going wrong, I/[s/he] relax into the sacred assurance that the Infinite Spirit is opening some doors and closing others. I/[They] walk forward in faith, blessed with Divine protection and safe passage through this storm.

Like a sailor in a storm-tossed sea who finds relief in the powerful beam of the lighthouse, I am GRATEFUL for the guiding beacon that is Spirit’s gentle nudge; I give THANKS for Divine intuition and for the appearance in my life/[their life] of angels who come, always in perfect time and at the perfect place to point the way to safety.

Rooted in this gratitude, I release my word into the Infinite Law, knowing that its return is assured. I speak it, I know it, and I let it go. And so it is.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

A prayer for health

In this time of global pandemic, when the health and wellness of ALL is a daily, if not hourly, topic of conversation; it is helpful to reconnect with the ancient practice of prayer.

In spiritual metaphysics, prayer is affirmative – speaking the desired outcome, and not giving voice to what is wrong. Instead of asking (begging) the Infinite for help, affirmative prayer is an acknowledgement that God is already in the middle of our issue. We are simply turning our attention away from the PANIC and onto the Truth.

A favorite Florence Scovel Shinn quote of mine, that I have incorporated into the affirmative prayer below, summarizes this perspective so clearly:

I walk in the Light, and my fears dwindle into nothingness.”

Florence Scovel Shinn

Joseph Murphy called it “Prayer Therapy“, Ernest Holmes called it “Spiritual Mind Treatment“, Mary Baker Eddy, Emma Curtis Hopkins, Malinda Cramer and Nona Brooks called it simply “Treatment“. The process – regardless of what we call it – is powerful. As I mention in my BIO, I have seen time and space altered in remarkable (miraculous) ways by the application of affirmative, scientific prayer.

If you or someone you care for is in need of healing, I offer this affirmative prayer. It is written to be spoken for yourself – or for someone else (hopefully this makes sense as you read it through).

Keep in mind that if you are speaking this for someone else, there are statements that you know (e.g. “I know that,…“) as well as statements about the other person. I have added [brackets] around the places where you will add different language if this is being spoken for someone other than yourself.

Lastly, in keeping with the tradition of Spiritual Mind Treatment, the 1st paragraph contains all “I” statements until the last sentence.

I recognize that the Infinite Spirit is the essence of Good, I lean into this Truth and allow it to fully surround and enfold me, as I affirm my oneness with Spirit. Aware that Divine expression moves in, as and through all of Life, I acknowledge Its expression in me [and in other person)], and I embrace this Truth.

Right here and now, I affirm the perfection of Spirit and know that It is ever-present, and expressing as health, wholeness, wellness and strength in me/[other person]. My/[their] body and mind are open and receptive to the Infinite Power that is expressed in me/[them] and in the many healers and helpers that surround me/[them].

I welcome the advice, medications, and other interventions that doctors and other experts share with me/[them] because I know that they are not random words, but divinely-guided messengers – healing angels sent specifically to me/[them] for my/their highest Good.

I/[They] walk each moment surrounded by the brilliant, warm and restorative light of Spirit, and any fear I/[they] feel dwindles into nothingness. I know that all is well and I am reminded of this as my/[their] experiences on this journey are anchored in ease and grace – even in the most unexpected places and at the most unlikely times.

I am grateful for the ability to connect with this ancient wisdom, and to remember that Spirit is omnipresent; everywhere, with me/[them] always and in all ways. I ground myself in this deep well of gratitude, and release my word into the Infinite Law – knowing that it returns complete.

I speak it. I know it. I let it go.

And so it is.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

(p.s. don’t miss listening to this song by Michael Gott – it’s the perfect closing for any prayer)

Hard realities

Prior to the arrival of a virus named COVID-19, it was easy to wrap ourselves in the cloak of spirituality as a means to more. While I’ve been equal (?) parts critic and advocate for the application of spiritual principles to boost our financial circumstances, there’s nothing like a global crisis to reorient our thinking.

Today in hospitals across the nation (and the world), nurses sat down with family members and had to give them the heart-wrenching news that Infection Prevention protocols limit the number of family members that can be in the room with their loved one as they take their last breath. Only 1 person is allowed to say goodbye while the rest of the family grieves down the hall.

Imagine the pain of being unable to say goodbye as your parent, or your brother or sister or adult child takes their last breath because of the 1-person limit in the rooms of COVID-patients.

Imagine being on the team of professionals that has to look nurses and doctors in the eye and tell them that they must enforce these protocols – for the good of the facility, the community and themselves.

Today as we face unfathomable challenges, it’s a good time to reconnect with the DEEPER truths of spirituality – beyond the unexpected income and financial help; past the pleas for a perfect partner.

In an early experience with the power of the Presence, Nona Brooks discovered that this spiritual power is not a magical wand. She shared a story of a woman who was deathly ill and in the hospital and whose family called her to the woman’s bedside where she earnestly applied the lessons she had learned from Kate Bingham – who had healed herself after spending time with Emma Curtis Hopkins.

Throughout the night, Nona knew wholeness, Life and health for the woman, but sensed a struggle – though no words passed between them – between her strong knowing and a Truth that was aligned on a different trajectory. The woman died despite Nona’s most ardent prayers.

She felt that she had failed, and carried that heaviness with her for some time. But as she pondered what had happened, she settled into a deep wisdom about life and the connection to Spirit. By the time her mother passed away, she no longer felt a sense of failure but an enhanced awareness of God’s Presence and an understanding of “...unbroken life, life on the other side as well as here.” (from “Powerful is the Light“).

Nona Brooks learned what all spiritual people learn at some point: that we do not have ultimate power. We are of Spirit and can live in Spirit, but we are not Spirit. We are still mere humans. Humans that express Spirit here on this physical plane, but humans all the same. While we are surrounded by and enfolded in Infinite protection and love, this is not a tonic against anything and everything.

We will face illness, injuries, pain and sorrow. We will lose loved ones and suffer the loss of relationships.

Some will question the purpose of religion or spirituality if, in the end, we have no real power; but that question misses the point. I know definitively that there is more power in embracing the Presence than in living outside of It. I have experienced the Truth that there is healing, restoration, renewal and reprise available to those who walk the spiritual path. But as we welcome these gifts, we enter into a sacred, spiritual pact – accepting that the ultimate Good we seek may end up looking very different than what we wanted or imagined it to be.

We must recognize that healing sometimes comes in someone’s passing from this world into the next. We need to accept that blessings are sometimes (often!) closed doors, ended relationships and hard paths in front of us.

The wisdom that comes with deepened spiritual awareness opens to the Truth that there are times in life that our most fervent prayers seem to be left unanswered; that our heartfelt desires elude us and that the path we are led onto looks very different than what we, with our limited human vision, had dreamed.

As we teach and share the path to spiritual living, it is critically important to acknowledge the teachings in their entirety – and not only from the superficial perspective. It is this superficial perspective – often deployed to attract new members to churches and centers – that falls flat when “life gets real“.

Without a deep grounding in the entirety of the principles, as the tips & tricks to manifest “things” start to miss more than they hit – there is no foundation to stand on, and people often walk away saying, “this doesn’t work“.

Many years ago I learned a song in Sunday School about the wise man and the foolish man. The FOOLISH man built his house upon the sand while the WISE man built his house upon the rock. The full-spectrum of spiritual Truth is a ROCK that can withstand all of life’s storms.

If we haven’t previously built our “houses” on a rock, do we have the knowledge, skills and abilities to do so now? Do we have the political will? In places where it’s not the norm, this will represent a significant shift.

But the future of (organized) spiritual metaphysics is tied directly to our ability (as a movement) to transcend the quick and easy tools and stand up for the heavier spiritual “lifting“, the deeper work, the more challenging path.

The choices we make today will determine not only our direction, but whether or not there will be a future.

Are we up to the task?

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

Embrace change

Autumn leaves

Living in the Northeast, I have the great good fortune of experiencing the 4 seasons each trip around the Sun.

As with much of nature, there are plentiful spiritual lessons available to us if we will take the time and pay attention.

In this most tumultuous and unusual year, it’s hard to miss the metaphor of change sung by the vibrant leaves that have begun to fall from their lofty perches.

Autumn reminds us that aging and the changes that accompany the process are normal life stages. It encourages us to see appreciate life in all its stages: the budding blossom, the lush green leaf, the still-supple, but starting the change, mature leaf and the leaves that have fallen to the ground.

The only constant, it is said, is change. We know this, even as we fight it at times. We have the opportunity to resist the changes or ground ourselves in our spiritual practice and move into a posture of acceptance and peace.

The flurry of leaves surrounding us this season whisper “release, let go!”. They know that Winter is coming, and that Spring will follow – as it has in this area of the world for centuries.

Will we listen? Can we learn?

(C) 2020 Practitioner’s Path

Retail religion

I have been examining the concept of retail religion in blogs and in conversations with friends and colleagues. In some research into cults, I came across a documented tactic used in cults that was a bit too familiar for my liking: the belief that if you don’t charge ($) someone for something, they will not value it.

This is not only false on its surface, but flies in the face of much of what is taught in spiritual metaphysics – such as appreciating and feeling gratitude for things like a good night’s sleep, the sunshine, a beautiful flower we encounter on a walk,…etc.

Some have suggested that the influence of the capitalistic culture is at the center of this belief. As an academic, this is a clear edict for me to dig a little deeper and see if it applies. Turns out it does, but perhaps not in the way that some would hope. Let’s start with one of the most basic laws of capitalism: the Law of Supply and Demand.

This theorem outlines the interaction between sellers and buyers and describes the relationship between the availability of a product or service and the impact that the desire (known as demand) for that product has on its price. Generally, low supply and high demand increase prices while low demand and high supply puts a downward pressure on the price. If we think about the last handful of toy fads we can see this in perfect action: fidget spinners, kendamas, pet rocks, and more. We can find all of these and other once-HOT items in discount and dollar stores for very little cost.

KEY TAKEAWAYS (from investopedia)

  • The law of demand says that at higher prices, buyers will demand less of an economic good.
  • The law of supply says that at higher prices, sellers will supply more of an economic good.
  • These two laws interact to determine the actual market prices and volume of goods that are traded on a market.
  • Several independent factors can affect the shape of market supply and demand, influencing both the prices and quantities that we observe in markets.

In terms of spiritual metaphysics and the payment for classes and prayer work, we must take into account a number of things. First of all, Ernest Holmes modeled the practitioner in Religious Science after the Christian Science practitioner and due to some precise records, we can track the supply and demand for similar work by looking at that profession.

In 1971 in the United States alone, there were more than 1,800 Christian Science churches and almost 5,000 Christian Science Practitioners who saw clients and charged for their work. By 2016 these numbers had declined precipitously, and for a variety of reasons, including the cultural shift away from organized religion as a whole. This represents a drop in the number of practitioners by more than 80%.

According to the Law of Supply and Demand, if there was continued demand for the services of these practitioners, the numbers would not only have remained steady, but we’d likely be able to track an increase in them and the services they provide. That this has NOT happened but moved significantly in the other direction suggests a few things.

We can see the same trends in classes and workshops focused on teaching spiritual metaphysics, but with some additional (independent) factors. The explosion of personal access to information by way of the internet has afforded many people access to teachings once housed exclusively in metaphysical churches and centers. The keepers of the canon, so to speak, had captive audiences for decades.

Prior to the access afforded by the Internet, people who wanted to learn about affirmative prayer, spiritual metaphysics and how to change their lives for the better had few venues in which to find the information. As Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Louise Hay and others rose to fame, technology and connectivity via the internet allowed their works to be disseminated widely. No longer was the local metaphysical church the only game in town.

Technology and more precisely, the internet, was a variable that impacted the supply and demand dynamics – in effect INCREASING the supply of the information, and putting significant downward pressure on the “price“. People no longer were required to affiliate with a metaphysical spiritual community, pledge to tithe and contribute time and talents in order to have access to the principles, practices and more.

The difficult truth for ministers and more is that anyone with a willing heart, and a modicum of self-discipline can read about how to “change their thinking and change their lives” and achieve results without ever having to pay a minister or a practitioner or part with more than $100 for a class (I recently saw one advertised for $145).

To be clear: I believe in the power of affirmative prayer, and I encourage and support the application of it to all manner of situations and circumstances. This blog post is not a suggestion that spiritual community or affirmative prayer are no longer relevant or useful. Instead it is a call to reexamine our expectations for the organizations that are spiritual communities.

If we want to use capitalistic values to drive our spiritual businesses, we must understand the basic constructs of capitalism. It’s good to feel strongly about the value of our classes, spiritual mind treatment/affirmative prayer and other offerings, but we may need to leave the pricing decisions to the Law of Supply & Demand.

We can offer our classes, prayer work and more to anyone who asks – and accept a love offering, only. This is more in alignment with SPIRITUAL principles, anyway.

If/when people who participate in these things start to see significant change in their lives, and tell others that the time/money/energy they invested with us was well worth it; the Law of Supply and Demand will kick in and we will need to price our offerings HIGHER so to “ration” them due to excessive demand and limited “supply” (teachers, time).

In the absence of this demand, I believe that our mandate is to serve, period. And this may mean stepping back from a model that many are deeply invested in: charging more for access to divine principles and practice than the supply and demand curve will support.

In economic terms, we should be seeking that equilibrium point in the supply/demand curve where the demand for what we are offering matches the supply.

We risk looking foolish if we insist on the infallibility of spiritual law, even comparing its constancy to scientific laws of gravity, while simultaneously ignoring a law of economics that is clearly and presently impacting all we do.

Dorothy and Toto aren’t in Kansas anymore, and we’re no longer living in the 20th century. It’s time to update our approach or risk obsolescence.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

Here and now

Several years back, I embarked upon a journey to achieve a credential and a standing as someone recognized with some unique spiritual skills. While some people undertake this training to be able to hang out a shingle, or see “clients” – others just wanted the training for the sake of knowledge.

I fall soundly in the 2nd group as I never found a level of comfort in “charging” people for spiritual support and prayer work. Some may say that I have issues with abundance but the facts of my life don’t bear that out. I simply think that these principles and practices belong to us all, and that those of us who are practiced in the spiritual arts have a sacred obligation to share them with the world.

Today I had one of those moments where I feel some cosmic support for my position on something as a colleague came to me to share some scary health news that she just received.

She’s younger than I am, and has small children at home so the scary news hit her on several levels. As I read her email (we’re all remote so this is how we communicate), I felt a nudge to use the spiritual knowledge and tools I have to provide support and encouragement to her.

I responded to her email and told her that I would hold the “high watch of consciousness” in knowing that she was healthy, strong and that her body in concert with science and great doctors were up for any challenge. I added that I looked forward to hearing GOOD news from more testing that was scheduled, and provided her some positive thinking statements (I called them mantras for scary times) to turn to when her thoughts went into the darkness.

My employees know that I’m a bit untraditional in terms of these things, but I don’t share a lot so I was not sure how she would respond. She replied almost immediately with thanks and specifically noted that she appreciated the mantras – mentioning that she needed them and would be using them a lot.

I have had a number of these experiences over the years, and always come away from them with a deep knowing that THIS is the work I have been preparing for in the world. This “right place, right time” kind of work where I am so steeped in the study of spiritual metaphysics that I can, in any situation or circumstance, pivot and provide support, encouragement and share real tools that can be put into practice immediately.

In another recent blog post, I wrote about following an inexplicable urge to take a different route on my walk and how I showed up at the perfect time and place to help keep a family pet from running into traffic on a busy street. Today I was simply a manager with the access and ability to respond to someone’s news in a way that was supportive, healing and helpful.

I know that each of us must follow the song of our hearts. Some may indeed find their place in hanging out a shingle and charging a fee for sessions. If they do – I bless them on their way. My way seems to be that of staying connected to Spirit – in tune with the Infinite – and sprinkling the Good that I can along the way as I walk my life path.

I think I may be partial to this way of being because I have been the grateful recipient of many others who have stopped along their way to share a kind word, some encouragement, wisdom or more when I was in need. It seems to me that the world needs this in big doses – now more than ever.

I also feel that my own learning and connection to the Divine are strengthened a bit more each time I have one of these opportunities to “practice the presence“, or shine some Light in a darkened corner of the world.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately (and writing) about the demise of organized religious practice, and its impact on the many churches and centers across the country who have made a business model out of the connection to the Divine. It’s no secret that I cast a jaundiced eye on the practice – especially in spiritual metaphysical organizations – mostly because of my strong feelings that these teachings belong to the world, and should be shared freely and without a price tag.

If “everything is energy” as we are taught from many spiritual traditions, this may be part of the reason for the demise. We’re not here to profit from these practices, but to teach them. In the Christian canon, we are reminded of this same thing.

Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

Matthew 10

We have ALL benefitted at some time or another – and likely many times – from the freely-given gifts of another. Perhaps it’s time to build organizations around this model.

I’ve suggested in other writings that the traditional church model with the paid minister and expected tithes and pledges has outlived its usefulness among all but the most traditional, conservative congregations.

Perhaps it’s time to finally move away from a 19th century tradition and build one that works for the skills we have and continue to teach in our 21st century metaphysical spiritual organizations. It’s time to do more than talk about being provided: it’s time to show the world what can be done right here, right now – as we walk in faith and knowing, practicing the presence, every day, in all we do.

And so it is.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

Tap the Golden App

The Golden Key
Emmet Fox

In 1931 Divine Science minister and teacher, Emmet Fox, wrote The Golden Key and gave it to his friend, Unity founder Charles Fillmore. Fox described it as “a practical guide for getting out of trouble” – and many who have applied it to some issue in their lives would agree.

Written as it was during the Great Depression, and at a time when religious practice was common in the United States, the language is formal and can make the modern spiritual seeker feel a bit queasy with all the traditional language and references.

But we are foolish if we cast it aside for this reason, as the functionality of this practice is as appropriate today as it was at the time it was penned.

Like the language used in the early 20th century, keys are quickly falling out of use in the digital age, and we find ourselves using remote access, cell phone codes and other apps to get into places once unlocked with a key. For this reason, I wonder if it’s time to revise the original Golden Key and think of it as a Life App.

Apps are designed for many reasons, including entertainment and business purposes – but most of them are designed simply to make our lives easier. It is this that makes the Golden Key a perfect candidate for evolving into The Golden App.

However, we don’t need to wait for some tech whiz to create this. We need only think about the concept in the context of a cell phone app. When we need to send a message, check our bank balance, or find out if it’s going to rain later today; we take out our phones, open the home screen and tap on an app.

Turning the Golden Key” as Emmet Fox would advise, is even simpler than that.

How do we turn the Golden Key? Here’s a summary of what Emmet Fox initially wrote:

All that you have to do is this: stop thinking about the difficulty, whatever it is, and think about God instead. This is the complete rule. If you do this, the trouble, whatever it is, will disappear. It makes no difference what kind of trouble it is. It may be a big thing or a little thing; it may concern health, finance, a lawsuit, a quarrel, an accident, or anything else conceivable; but whatever it is, just stop thinking about it, and think of God instead — that is all you have to do.

Emmet Fox

For some people this may seem a bit vague. What does it mean to “think about God“?

If we accept that God/Spirit/the Universe (how ever you describe the Infinite) is a Power for Good, and transcendent beyond what we can do and control; we can shift our thinking to what spiritual metaphysics calls the “qualities” of Spirit. These include:

  • abundance
  • beauty
  • harmony
  • health
  • joy
  • love
  • peace
  • power
  • wisdom
  • (and more!)

In other words – all the GOOD we can imagine in our lives. So to “turn the Golden Key” we simply need to pivot our thinking – away from the negative and toward the Truth of Spirit. Here are some examples.

Instead of thinking about how much money we DON’T have, how many bills we have to pay, what things we want or need that we cannot afford, we can STOP and shift to:

The Universe is abundance and provides for me always and in all ways. I know that I always have whatever I need in the perfect space and time.

Instead of thinking about the difficulty and misunderstanding in our relationships, we can STOP and shift to:

Spirit is LOVE, HARMONY and PEACE. Spirit constantly and continually expresses as LOVE, HARMONY and PEACE in every circumstance and situation. And I know that all is well in this relationship.

Instead of thinking about how much difficulty and misunderstanding there may be around our jobs or careers, we can STOP and shift to:

Spirit is Divine Wisdom and constantly expresses as this Wisdom in every circumstance and situation, including mine. I know that all is well in my job/career.

And as we look past our own personal experiences and into the world at large and notice some scary things, we can apply the same principles and tap the Golden App!

Instead of thinking about how much difficulty and misunderstanding there is in the world, we can STOP and shift to:

Spirit is Infinite Intelligence; constantly and persistently expressing in, as and through every circumstance and situation, including this national one. I know, regardless how things appear, that all is well.

No, there’s not really a Golden App that we can download for our phones. But there *is* a Golden App we can commit to our memories. We can get into the habit of knowing that regardless of the trouble that appears in our lives, the only Truth is Infinite perfection. And as we shift our ATTENTION to this Truth, the magic of the Golden Key kicks in.

Yes, the language of the original Golden Key is old school, but the process is sound enough that other teachers have stated the same thing in a different way.

Energy flows where our attention goes.

Michael Beckwith, The Secret

The truth (or the “secret”) to life is that this simple shift works, and it’s free to you and to me. It can’t be used up or worn out, and we can apply it over and over and over with no negative side-effects.

No matter what life brings our way, we have the key to a better tomorrow – thanks to Emmet Fox and his gift of The Golden Key.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

More on The Golden Key

Divine nudges, perfect timing

Practitioner's Path, spirituality, giving, charity, tithing, Goodness
(C) 2020 Practitioner’s Path

New Thought emerged in the mid-to-late 19th century in the United States, and had much of its earliest beginnings focused in the realm of healing and health. This makes sense when we look back to the history of the evolution of scientific medical knowledge. People had fewer options for healing and healthcare then as compared to now.

In addition to the interest in healing, there was still a deep religious, and specifically Christian, influence on the American psyche. This would tame all but the most radical minds who would dare to teach what would become the prosperity gospel in the next century.

When the hints from Emerson, Troward (both steeped in White, Anglo-Saxon privilege) and others around humanity’s “right” to be prosperous met the triumph and power felt by the United States after World War II, it was a match made in marketing heaven.

One of the challenges inherent to the focus on manifesting things using the power of a connection to Spirit is that it tends to delude us into thinking that “it’s all about us“. Even as refrains of “we’re all one!” and “love is all there is” float around; the charitable hearts seen in some of the more Christian-leaning organizations are largely muted in many New Thought organizations. Tithing is specifically directed back to the minister or church/center and while support for charitable organizations is supported in some corners, it is specifically eschewed in others.

The teachings moved out of the star-studded streets of Hollywood and the Ebell theater and seemed to morph into the general New Thought mind as a way to get everything one wanted in life.

To be clear, the teachings based on many ancient spiritual traditions do, indeed, help us live more full lives, and experience more abundance. This abundance shows up as opportunities, peace, happiness, joy and sometimes even money. These teachings have helped MANY people turn their lives around from a perspective of negativity and lack to one of positive living, and expansion and I don’t want to skip over this deep truth.

Still, there is a tendency, perhaps uniquely American, perhaps just human nature, to think that using these principles is “all about us“. And therein lies a significant problem.

The biblical canon that is taught as one of the foundations of New Thought (Ernest Holmes was ordained as a Divine Science minister and Divine Science is openly a Christian metaphysics teaching) reminds readers over and over that it is most definitely NOT all about us. It is my belief that we would do well to teach this larger Truth more often than we do a self-focused doctrine.

What does that mean?

From my interpretation of this, and based on the results I’ve observed, this means that instead of running “Unexpected Income” programs (where people are obligated to hand over 10% of any additional income they bring in to the minister or church/center), program focus should be shifted to knowing that we are provided enough that we can devote our time and talents to giving to others. It seems particularly gauche to clap and celebrate someone finding a $10 coupon when there are so many in our communities who are not sure how they will pay their rent, buy diapers for their babies or feed their elderly parents.

True abundance comes not from the amount of money we attract into our bank accounts, but from the Good we seed in the world. Yes, we need money to pay for housing, food and clothing; but if we are clothed, housed and eating regularly – we might want to think about turning our super-Spiritual skills outward to help others who are in the most need.

I know that in some corners of New Thought and spiritual metaphysics, this is seen as anathema to doctrine. I call bull crap on that. If the tradition is built on the ancients, then what the ancients say needs to be considered, and caring for others is a consistent theme.

To be clear, I’ve written extensively on this blog about manifesting financial support, as well as my gratitude for the teaching and learning that gave me the ability to turn my thinking and my circumstances from LACK to ABUNDANCE. In fact, right now I am leading another journey along John Randolph Price’s 40-day Abundance Journey on YouTube (check out my Videos page for more information). But I continue to know that there is MORE to be learned and demonstrated from these ancient principles.

This morning I was reminded of this deep Truth in 2 ways. First of all, I received an email about a drive to collect diapers for a local Diaper Bank that supports families who cannot afford diapers for their babies. Secondly, I had an encounter – first with some lovely flowers (pictured above) and then with a dog.

As I headed out on my usual morning walk, I had an inkling to go RIGHT out of my driveway instead of the usual LEFT that I take. I generally go with these urges, considering them to be divine nudges for one reason or another.

When I got to the row of flowers shown in the photo above, I assumed that it was THIS that had nudged me right. I have wanted to take a photo of this row of free-spirited flowers for the past few weeks, and it is clear that their season of bloom is not long for the year.

I was so glad I had the urge to go this way today, and was finally able to get some photos of these flowers. That must have been the reason for my inclination to go RIGHT instead of LEFT, or was it?

As I continued my walk, I was nudged again to ignore my other usual habit of winding through the back streets, off the main drag. Even as I walked along the outer perimeter of my 2-mile path, I wondered why I was exposing myself to all the traffic noise and exhaust fumes – but the urge to follow this path did not wane.

I came to the 3rd right turn along my travels, and headed up the cross street – also busy with Saturday, late-morning traffic. I grumbled a little at the rougher sidewalk, overgrown shrubbery and noise and for a few moments wondered about my decision-making abilities. After all, if the FLOWERS were the reason for the initial right-hand turn, I could have turned into the quiet, neighborhood streets a block ago.

Not long after this mental exercise, I looked up to see a man with a lawn mower, and a dog with a clear, “cone of shame” on its head. I initially thought the dog belonged to the man mowing, and worried that the busy street and his attention on mowing his grass was a bad combination.

Then I realized that he was NOT the dog’s owner, as the dog dashed, haphazardly, down the sidewalk toward me. I’m a dog-lover (cats, too!) and can’t help but to talk lovingly to random pets I encounter, so I began to talk to this young dog who I now knew was not under anyone’s control.

A couple times the dog turned toward the busy street, and each time I was able to distract him/her by calling out in my “dog mom voice“. I was not sure what I could do, or where he/she belonged, and I was worried about the pace and intensity of the traffic on the street.

Just then a man came out of a house, a little bewildered, sharing that his dog had bolted out of the basement door. At that moment I knew why I had felt the “divine nudge” to take a different route. The flowers were nice, but the timing of encountering a loose dog, and being able to calm him/her until their human came looking for them was a much larger Good.

After “Fido” was successfully corralled, I thought about the times in my life others have shown up for me in my hour of need. In some instances this was with an opportunity or financial support; other times it was information or kind words; and still other times something as fleeting and simple as being in the right place at the right time – such as I was for this wayward pooch and its family.

In his song, I Will Be, Michael Gott sings,

Here I am – a vessel to be used;
whatever Spirit needs of me,
I will be, I will be, I will be.
Here I stand – my heart is here to serve.
Wherever Love is leading me,
I will go, I will go, I will go.

Michael Gott

I know for sure that I was led to take a slightly different route this morning so I could show up at the divine right time for a family and their dog.

This profound Truth – brought to me on a suburban sidewalk in an unassuming American neighborhood this morning – reminded me of the critical importance of remaining true to the core teachings of spiritual Truth: that each of us is absolutely supported, provided, and loved – but that we are here to do more than TAKE. We are here to be that support and love for others, too. We are here to serve.

As we work on our own abundance, prosperity and more – let us look at how we can give more, share widely and serve in alignment with the great Good that we continually receive.

And so it is.

(C) Practitioner's Path

Opportunities to serve/share our good fortune with others:

Opening our eyes

Many years ago – in between the period of my traditional, Protestant upbringing and my affiliation with spiritual metaphysics – I was very interested in the research on religious cults. I forget what national or international news may have stirred that interest, but I had no shortage of examples around me that raised my eyebrows and interest in learning about the techniques used and characteristics of cults.

One of the things I learned is that there are full-bore cults (think Jonestown or the Branch Davidians) and there are organizations that are mostly reasonable organizations, but who engage in some practices that lean toward cult-like behavior.

This blog post is intended to focus on some of those cult-like behaviors.

Forced Giving

Tithing as a coercion or requirement is considered by those who study cults to be “forced giving” and a definite cult behavior. There is often the suggestion if not an outright statement that if you don’t give to the church or center, you can never prosper. And that is not only wrong, but provably inaccurate. We all know plenty of people who have never tithed a day in their lives, and who are quite wealthy.

In addition, the “biblical basis” for tithing is a stretch, at best. Tithing in the Hebrew scriptures was based very specifically on things grown from the land: crops, spices, fruits, and more.

The verse in Malachi 3:10 is often quoted, but how many of us have “storehouses” for grain and other harvested things? Also, there were plenty of people working for wages back then – and it does not mention tithing on their pay.

In the Christian text, the mandate to tithe is actually called out by the teacher Jesus, as being secondary to the OTHER laws.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.

Matthew 23

Prosperity as a Sign of Spiritual “Favor”

Many groups, inside and outside of traditional Christianity, have latched on to the concept of prosperity as a spiritual practice. One group whose research is aimed at calling out (Christian) ministers who use ministry as a means to get rich has identified some characteristic behaviors of the ministry or minister who is primarily interested in wealth attainment as a priority over teaching spiritual (life) truths.

They include the following:

  • Building the MLM model church/center where the giving of money and “brown-nosing” (or catering to) the ministers gets you access to them and an inside track to the circles of power – including their contacts in the larger organization(s).
  • Demanding loyalty – not approving/allowing members to visit other churches/centers – and refusing to allow non-member speakers and guests).
  • Selling (pushing) books written by the minister
    • also teaching classes that require PURCHASE of book written by the minister
  • Selling tapes/DVDs/online talks prepared by the minister
  • Specialized conferences (featuring the minister and others in his/her “special” circle)
  • The speaking circuit (where those in the “special” ministerial circles invite each other to speak in various churches/centers) – I call this the “Rev-Dr club“.
    • Excerpt from How Pastors Get Rich:
    • Some speaker’s egos are so ripe that they demand business or first class flights, expensive chauffeured cars, five star hotel accommodation, gourmet dining, and the right to bring a small entourage along with them (at the church’s expense). Their fees can be enough to buy a family car, and then they have the audacity to expect a special “love offering” to be made for them. The sales of their books and DVD’s are carefully planned, and the hosting [location is] expected to hype their products.

Rigid Rules

In identifying general cult warning signs, there is a list of behaviors that may signify an organization is a straight-up cult, including the usual BIG RED FLAGS: trying to separate members from their families and friends (those not associated with the group); a single, charismatic leader; members who seem constantly happy and enthusiastic; instant friends; members are told who they can or cannot talk to or associate with; hiding what they teach.

Other warning signs that are more likely to extend beyond hard core cults and into organizations that are otherwise reasonable are as follows:

  • Insisting that people must pay for [specific services] because “they will not appreciate them if they are freely given
  • Rigid hierarchies (power sits at the top, within a narrowly-defined group)
  • Shutting down any questioning of the teachings or practices – often by accusing you of having a “bad attitude” or not being a “team player
    • this has been identified as “spiritual bypass” in some organizations

One interesting characteristic of cult members is that most of them don’t think they’re in a cult and will argue vehemently against the mere suggestion that something is amiss. Another important note is that intelligence is no guarantee of immunity to cult affiliation. Over the years some deeply intelligent people have been sucked into cults!

It’s always a good idea to keep a healthy sense of self; to remain willing to ask hard questions, and to hold those in leadership positions accountable for providing truthful answers to questions about their actions, and the organization.

In most organizations, we’ll find a willingness to answer hard questions, even if it means there’s some discomfort in the acknowledgement that “things could be better“. This is a GOOD sign that we’re simply dealing with humans in groups and not an organization tilting toward cult-like behavior.

Warning Signs

The warning signs in an organization that is beginning to lean toward becoming a cult include mandates to never question; to always be positive (or else!) and when hard questions posed are met with threats to our affiliation, status or membership (this last one is a BIG red flag!).

If we can’t ask hard, honest questions about the business model, the practices of those in leadership positions or the finances (including the motivations behind pushing a particular initiative that is a money-maker); we’re dealing with cult behavior (best case scenario) and maybe the emergence/expansion of a cult mentality within the organization.

Lastly, we must remember not to let the GOOD that is taught or done by the organization cloud our common sense. Jim Jones started the People’s Temple to address the racism and segregation he saw as a problem in society and churches.

The initial goals of his People’s Temple were admirable and focused on civil rights; but Jim Jones was unstable, and the “rules” for affiliating with his congregation began to evolve.

Soon, no one was able to question him, or leave the group without being branded a traitor. In the end, he is responsible for more than 900 murders, including more than 300 children.

Bodies of more than 400 members of the Jim Jones’ sect “Temple of people” lie down, on 19 November 1978, in Jonestown, where the Cult leader Jim Jones had established the Peoples Temple. More than 900 people died, on November 18, 1978, in the largest mass suicide in American history. (Photo by – / AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

Most organizations that have episodic bad behavior are not in any danger of devolving into a cult. Still, as individuals, we must remember that when we are giving our time, talents and tithes to an organization, we have an absolute right to ask questions and get honest, transparent answers in return.

If anyone suggests otherwise – we’d be wise to pay attention, and take action in our own best interests that may include leaving the organization or reporting questionable behaviors to the appropriate authorities (these will almost always be financial in the early stages of the slide into chaos).

There is a lot of GOOD that can be done in groups of like-minded people. There is also a significant opportunity for harm. The responsibility lies with each of us as individuals who are participants in these organizations to examine critically, ask honestly and hold those in positions of power accountable for their words, deeds and more.

Divine Right Action

There is an appropriate response or reaction to the realization that things are not as we imagined, especially for spiritually-inclined people who have a heart for service. This response is to give to where there is need (yes, I know – anathema in some circles, but I disagree with those circles).

Right now in the United States alone, food insecurity is a serious public health threat. It was a problem BEFORE the pandemic wreaked havoc on the world and on many businesses, jobs and careers.

If you find yourself torn about supporting an organization that is exhibiting questionable behaviors, or supporting goals that seem out of alignment with what the world needs now (i.e. more support for them and not much for anyone else), I encourage all of us to identify the food bank in our area, and start giving to them, regularly, consistently, whatever we feel compelled to give.

In most food bank organizations, every $1 donated results in the acquisition of $5 worth of food for hungry families. I can think of no better way to create a better world, to seed the example that “love is all there is” and to be the change we want to see in the world.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path