What trip to the seashore would be complete without picking up some seashells? Each wave leaves an endless supply on the sand ready for the serious or casual collector.
As a young child I remember hunting furiously for exotic shells – intricate, spiraled and colorful. I rarely found anything resembling these on the shores of the Eastern US where my family vacationed but my search continued each trip anyway, hunting for the seemingly elusive treasures of the sea.
I was reminded of this youthful search this week as I walked along the shores of the Outer Banks in Corolla, NC each morning of my recent vacation, enjoying the beach experience overall but still finding my eyes searching the sand for that one, exquisite, exotic shell.
Walking along the beautiful shoreline it occurred to me that this shell search was a life lesson. If I spent my walks each morning squinting into the wet sand, searching for a rare and perfect shell, I would be missing the beauty of the rest of the experience: seeing the majesty of the waves, smelling the ocean air, watching the quirky and often humorous bird behaviors; feeling the sun and the breeze from the sea on my skin and the sand under my feet.
This seashell-search is a perfect metaphor for life. How often are we laser-focused on achieving a certain salary, job title, amount of money in the bank, or house in a specific neighborhood while missing all the wonderful moments along the way?
We are surrounded by books, teachers and social media memes reminding us to “live in the moment” but how many times do we stop and actually do it?
Sooner than I’m ready to be, I’ll be unpacking my shorts, washing the sand from my towels and spending the early morning hours in traffic, far from the shore. In addition to my suntan, and the shells I picked up on my morning walks, I’ll take home this lesson about enjoying each moment without focusing on the hunt for the perfect treasure; remembering that life’s treasures are found in abundance in each moment of my life.
When The Secret came out, I was immediately mesmerized – as were millions. And yet, somehow I knew that the spiritual tools hinted at in that movie were much deeper and more nuanced than wishing for a gold necklace and having it appear on your neck with no effort.
While I have been critical of some aspects of The Secret, it was a gateway to deeper learning for me and for that I am most grateful.
After The Secret came an explosion of metaphysical teachers on the national and international stage teaching the “Law of Attraction” (LOA) and similar content. And the workshops and seminars multiplied – as did the dollars in the bank accounts of many teachers.
I have no issue with anyone offering a product or guidance and charging a fair price, so I am definitely not disparaging all LOA teachers*. I do wonder about the participants who have spent thousands, and sometimes tens of thousands of dollars, to sit in seminar and workshop after seminar and workshop: this stuff isn’t that hard! Learn the basics, and then get up off the workshop seat and get to work!
One of the things that is missed (or left out) in these seminar offerings is that once you learn how to manifest things into your life; it rarely (if ever) shows up as a lottery jackpot or inheritance from a long, lost wealthy relative. It most often takes on the form of what I call “daily bread“. And from what I have observed (I’ve attended a few of these over the years), many of the frequent flyers in the LOA workshops are primarily interested in manifesting a ton of money.
I get it. I would ALSO like to be able to meditate for a few days, chant, speak some affirmations, journal in a fancy book, and have $10 million, $1 million, $100,000 or even $10,000 show up with no additional effort.
Heck – there are days when $100 showing up would be awesome! But in my experience, that’s not how it works at all.
I’ve had some significant success in attracting things into my life that previously seemed impossible, but instead of life-changing lottery winnings; more often than not, I manifest “daily bread“. I use the term “daily bread” to refer to things that I need (or want) that are integral to day to day life.
I’ve written about some of these demonstrations: money for a roofing job; new shoes; a new chair and an under-shelf basket; a retirement pension; and someone to pay my student loans – and many more. All of these experiences began with at least the passing thought that if I “won the lottery“, the situation at hand could be solved. But the lottery never showed up – and that’s likely a blessing – especially since research tells us that the odds of winning are very low and many people who win large lottery winnings end up much worse off just a few years later.
Like many things in life, successful manifesting is a long game. There are no quick fixes, or get-rich-quick techniques. Success requires studying the principles, changing our perspective, practicing the pivot away from old mindsets and toward a new way of being, and finding gratitude in the smallest of wins.
I suspect that a seminar where you could learn how to find the perfect price on a pair of shoes, or an almost-free chair or a part-time job that lasts just long enough to pay off the roof would be hard to pitch. It’s much sexier to have a wealthy (or seemingly wealthy) person stand up and promise that you, too, can have what they have.
But you can have what I have – the tools to attract into your life the things you want, and the things you need when you need them. It’s simple – although not always easy; and you don’t have to spend any money (you can learn a lot on this blog, and it’s free!).
The principles are universal; the lessons are for us all. During this week of celebrating freedom, give yourself the gift of freedom from worry, and freedom from chasing unreasonable goals. Learn the principles of spiritual prosperity, and live a life free from financial anxiety – a life filled with a peace from knowing that what you need will show up; that you are provided – always, and in all ways.
As one of my first teachers liked to say, “This stuff works!”
For a primer on how these principles work, start with these blog posts – and if you have any questions, send me an email (I’m happy to share what I have learned).
7 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
I stumbled on this redux from the 1970’s hit musical – Godspell – and it made me start to think about some things.
In New Thought, many lean toward the belief that we alone create our life experiences through our thoughts, beliefs and general mindset. To be clear, there is a wide continuum of belief around this in the movement – those who believe that it is mostly us, and those on the other end that are much more inclined to see the Universal Spirit as an entity that, while connected to us and expressing in, as and through us, still has some autonomy.
As I have finished my formal Practitioner training and had the great good fortune to interact and learn from many teachers and others in this movement, I have had the opportunity to think about this – a lot.
One prominent example that has been rumbling around in my head lately involves my job. About six years ago, I was in a well-paying job at a somewhat unstable company in a role where I was easily replaceable. I was doing a lot of soul searching and asking for guidance – seeking “divine intervention” or at least a hint about what I should do. I knew that I was at a point in my life and career where the right move would be a good thing and the “wrong” move could have life-long and negative ramifications.
As happens when we ask, I got an answer. It wasn’t exactly what I had envisioned: I took a significant pay cut, and went from working at home and having a Gold Corporate MasterCard to a Monday through Friday job with a commute and a hierarchy. So much for the good, right?
Funny thing though – that move – though not something I went looking for, or even welcomed early in my tenure there (especially on the bleak paydays) turned out to be the very best thing for me, long term. I now have a pension based on my time in the military and at this job; and some unique and solid experience that makes me a little harder to replace.
I can’t take credit for the incredibly good fortune that I landed in – not in the least. I didn’t visualize it; chant it in, or do affirmations for it to arrive. It came out of nowhere – literally. I got a call, and even then I was not aware of the tremendous long-term benefit that was involved.
It is this kind of demonstration that gives me pause on the “we make it happen” theories in New Thought. I’m not saying that they’re wrong, and others are right – I’m simply suggesting that it seems to me that I had someone/something looking out for my best interests when I wasn’t able to, and didn’t know which way to turn. I literally fell into a pile of mud and came up smelling like a rose with this job situation.
Is it possible that I was subconsciously “asking” for the help, and that this energy attracted the job and circumstance to me? Yes. And maybe it doesn’t need to be either/or. Maybe it’s both.
If we are connected to the Divine, as individualized expressions of the One – it would make sense that deep concern would extend into the Infinite Mind. Still, as challenging as this job was initially (in many ways), it felt like one of those things in life that our Mother tells us we need to do because it will be good for us in the end.
I don’t know which it is.
What I do know that this “good gift” of a job circumstance came from Spirit. Whether I attracted it, or the prayers of my mother and grandmothers sent it – I may never know. I do know that I am grateful, humbled, and blessed to have this retirement circumstance as a part of my portfolio – sent seemingly, from “heaven above“.
Modern technological tools allow writers to track the number of posts read, which makes it interesting to look back and see what has been the most popular and ponder what that means.
My statistics have shown steady growth. June marks the halfway point in the calendar year, and indications are that my blog is well on its way to meet and exceed last year’s statistics in terms of readers and views.
Here is a snapshot of what’s been popular based on these statistics. If you’re a data wonk or a even just a curious person, I think you’ll find this interesting as I do.
Uncircumcised Philistines is about the metaphysical meaning of the story of David and Goliath. Key takeaway, while seasoned soldiers refused to stand up to the bully (Goliath) – David, a young shepherd boy volunteered, taking his sling shot, and 5 smooth stones from the brook and brought down the giant menace. It’s a story about the importance of faith, and remembering when we have been supported in the past.
“The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”
David telling King Saul that he will be victorious over Goliath (I Samuel)
The 2nd most popular post in 2018 and continuing on in 2019 is Fill Your Horn with Oil and Move On. Also a story from the Hebrew scriptures, this wisdom lesson is about the importance of moving on when things don’t work out.
In the years 2014 through 2017, Jesus the Great Example was a consistently popular post, and it still ranks in the top 10 most popular each year. It was a blog I wrote in rebuttal to some corners of New Thought that believe giving to those in need is anathema to spiritual living. I disagreed then (and still do) and wrote what turned into a blog with a sustained interest from readers across the world.
Honorable mention for popular blog posts goes to Practice World Peace – a post I wrote about world peace being something we can start right here, right now – in morning (or afternoon) rush hour traffic.
I’m never sure what causes all the interest in one blog over another and am not sure if all the hits represent people who read the entire post or just landed on it after searching for something entirely different.
As a writer, I am very interested in knowing what makes one blog (or topic) consistently rank higher than all the rest. Writers also like to think we’re profound each time we write, and this is clearly wishful thinking 🙂 but we would like to know what resonates (and is worth the time) and what does not.
These statistics help somewhat, but may end up being just one more “fuzzy” data point to ponder. So I will continue to write, review the statistics, and wonder what it is that makes one blog post a 2-year “hit” and another not even register,…and write some more.
I never tire of hearing or sharing the stories of how things show up for those who understand Spiritual Law and are willing to be patient. In previous blogs I have written about a pair of shoes that showed up in divine perfect timing (and price!), a flute that appeared for a young musician, a chair for a new house, a tree and a part time job – and many more stories of receiving what I like to call “daily bread“.
When New Thought reemerged in popular culture in the late 1980s and blossomed into the phenomenon known as “The Secret” in the early 2000s, much of the focus was on getting stuff – often in the form of manifesting wealth. Many Law of Attraction (LOA) gurus were launched into fame and fortune by the movie. Some are still around while many others faded into history – some more infamously than others.
While I have experienced plenty of success in attracting jobs and money into my life, I have also learned that the principles of spiritual abundance work best in the area of daily bread, as opposed to winning lottery tickets. I have come to believe that the reason for this is that the Universe keeps a perfect balance sheet. There is indeed, no free lunch in life – whether you’ve learned the art of manifesting, or not. We receive in our lives what we have paid for in mental and spiritual coin.
If we are a miserable person, and see only what’s wrong in life, we are paying – in spiritual and mental coin – to receive more misery. If, however, we choose to see the good in life; the opportunities, the beauty, the peace and plenty – we are paying to receive more of these experiences in our life.
This week my daughter was searching for an under-shelf basket like the one pictured above. A quick search on Amazon for the one she wanted showed that it was $10. She didn’t want to spend $10 for a single basket, but she still wanted one, and so she let go of the desire, and settled into a knowing that she’d get one at the perfect price and in perfect timing.
The next day she was driving home from the pool with her kids when she had the urge to stop in the local thrift store bargain basement. On a table near the front of the store, piled high with castaway household goods, she spied an under-shelf basket – in perfect condition. The price? 40-cents.
This is not the first time she has manifested what she wanted with this “method” and here’s how that works:
She lives as much as she can in the knowing that she is provided; or as Charles Fillmore (Unity co-founder) said it:
The inexhaustible Resource of Spirit is equal to every demand. There is no reality in lack. Abundance is here and now manifest.
She allows her attention to fall on something that she either wants or needs, imagines how it will benefit her or her family, and then she lets it go.
She does NOT get hung up on how much it costs, whether she has enough money to buy it, what will happen if she can’t buy it – none of that. She identifies it, sees it as hers in her mind’s eye and let’s it go, knowing that it’s going to show up and not caring where or when.
She remains open to the HOW, and listens to her inner guidance. Invariably, the things she and her family need show up.
Spirit’s resources are inexhaustible; it’s we who grow impatient and weary. Spiritual Law is indeed equal to every demand and lack is an illusion – a persistent one at times, but an illusion all the same.
Abundance is always here if we know how to see it. And so it is.
We’re living in the midst of tremendous change and no one knows this more finitely than traditional churches and centers who are seeing old paradigms erode once-sure strategies for growing membership and revenue.
One of the first challenges of the 21st century came in the form of social media giants like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. At one time, there were few options to hear good spiritual talks and connect with like-minded people. Therefore, churches and centers had somewhat captive audiences – that is until the internet and the tech giants mentioned above became household names.
Yes, there were other societal pressures, but don’t discount the impact that technology has had on the traditional Sunday morning activities. It also helped to more quickly expose bad actors and charlatans, which is a topic for another blog on a different day.
Some churches and centers have managed to survive and leverage these technologies to their advantage. Others are trying and somewhat hanging on, while still others are in a free fall decline. And there are as many opinions about the best approach to turn around a church or center in free fall as there are out-of-work ministers.
While technology and the challenge of over-scheduled families factor into the realities of Sunday morning, we cannot discount the overarching influence of the greater society. While this once meant the understanding and acceptance of technology in the sanctuary; it now means that the impact of the gig economy on society is in turn influencing attendance, participation and affiliation with churches and centers.
What is the gig economy?
According to a 2018 article in Forbes magazine, “the gig economy is a term that refers to the increased tendency for businesses to hire independent contractors and short-term workers, and the increased availability of workers for these short-term arrangements.”
If you think this has nothing to do with you, or your neighborhood, take a look at the local mall. Try to find a K-Mart or Sears store. You may find one but it’s harder than it used to be and much of that is due to the online shopping trend – supported in large part by the gig economy. Amazon doesn’t hire full time drivers to deliver your Prime shipments in 2 days or less. Many of these deliveries are made by people making extra money, driving their own cars. Similarly, Uber and Lyft are often sought out by the recently unemployed or those in need of a side hustle. Uber EATS, Grub Hub and Deal Dash bring takeaway from almost any restaurant right to your door for the small price of anywhere from FREE to $7.00 (I’ve not seen it higher, but it would not surprise me if it was higher at peak times and in larger cities).
The gig economy really represents a deepening gulf in our engagement with each other as human beings. Employers who utilize gig employees don’t pay payroll taxes, offer benefits like paid sick time or contribute to retirement accounts. Often the “independent contractors” never meet the owners or managers but have limited contacts with other contracted employees who simply process their on-boarding and upload the data.
All of this means that the essence of the business being conducted is becoming increasingly transactional and with this, a deepening anonymity between ourselves and those who deliver things to our doors.
“What does this have to do with church?” you may wonder. In my opinion, a whole lot.
As we all live fully in society, we participate in things like free-shipping and 2-day delivery; hot Asian food delivered to our door after a few taps on our smart phone; a ride to the airport, and back home again with no exchange of cash. And each time we participate in one of these activities, we become more comfortable with life that works like this.
The traditional church and the New Thought centers that were modeled after their Protestant brethren were built on the concept that deep and abiding relationships form the foundation for a strong, solid community. That sounds great – but we live in a society that is less and less interested in the trappings of these early 20th century institutions and greatly influenced by the society in which they are immersed, 24/7.
A New World Order
Newly-robed ministers who are seeking their place in the world with an eye on a traditional ministry may find that the opportunities are shrinking as fast as their student loans are growing. Technology’s dominance and the shift that has led to the emergence of the gig economy means that there are fewer and fewer communities where people are willing to show up, throw significant money in a plate or basket to support someone who only works Sunday mornings, maybe one or two evenings a week and wants a contract that supports them taking multiple “working” vacations each year.
In a world where most people are working full-time (40-hours) PLUS a side hustle or two to pay the bills and get by – giving to an organization that supports the happy traveling minister is a non-starter; especially when much of what is offered is available on an as-needed basis with a few taps on a smart phone.
Let’s be honest: when we’re up early on Monday, have battled our way through rush hour traffic and had to sit through an abominable meeting – all before 9am – the last thing we want to see from the Minister who received a handful of our hard-earned cash the day before is a Facebook video showing them playing at the pool with their niece and nephew and a caption about being grateful for Mondays,…(when you’re asking for and taking other people’s money, …optics matter).
I believe that some churches will remain viable institutions. These will be the organizations that serve their communities – that give back more than they ask for or take.
The rest of the religious and/or spiritual world will find itself trying to navigate a brave, new world – one that their ministers were not prepared to travel in seminary or ministerial school. One outcome of the gig economy is that we live in a world where people may drop in here and there, but feel no compunction to “join” or commit to supporting a single organization. This will make it quite difficult to create sustainable budgets for things like salaries, benefits, and facilities.
Ministerial students and unemployed/underemployed ministers today would be wise to prepare for the “increased tendency for businesses to hire independent contractors and short-term workers,…”
With the gig economy making up 34% of the workforce today, and projected to rise to 43% by next year (2020), we can be sure that American society will experience more change and likely continue to see a decline in traditional religious participation. Still, the general interest in a meaningful connection with the Divine will remain. The only real question around all of this is who (which organizations) will step away from “the way it always has been” and into the future, because that future is here, now.
I am often asked by people who find out that I am studying spiritual metaphysics about the difference between that and religion.
As often happens for me, the Universe provides an excellent, real life example.
I’m sitting in the airport terminal waiting for a flight that has been delayed for more than an hour. Tensions are running high and people aren’t happy.
A “religious” person with a lot of energy is sitting at one of the device charging stations and making a scene that I’m sure she thinks is appropriate; but judging from the look on everyone else’s face, she might be alone in that assumption.
She’s been putting her hands in the air and proclaiming Jesus is in charge of this situation and the delay would soon be resolved… so far, Jesus appears to be on the same schedule as the airlines (delayed).
The difference between that awkward and unnecessary display of religiosity and the spiritual (but not religious) perspective is significant.
The spiritual/not religious person will quietly know that all is well – regardless of the circumstances. They will be kind to airline employees who are simply doing their jobs and have nothing to do with the delay. They bring peace to the surroundings by smiling at exasperated mothers, helping elderly travelers or even just sitting in the corner and knowing that regardless of the news from the boarding desk – All.Is.Well.
No one knows whether the spiritual/not religious person is spiritual OR religious; and lets face it – in these circumstances, no one cares.
It’s no wonder church membership and attendance is in decline.
I understand that some people have traditions and beliefs that don’t align with mine – and I get it that evangelizing is a tenet of Christianity; but inflicting oneself on others shouldn’t be a part of that marketing plan (& p.s. I don’t think it’s working,…).
Now I’m going to work on knowing that the preacher and her entourage are NOT in the seat row with me,…and so it is!
(adapted from Ernest Holmes’ Science of Mind, IV: How to Use It)
I reside in the center of the Divine, a point of God-conscious life, truth and activity. I am always divinely guided in the direction of right action and optimal results.
My words have power; perfect flow and continuous right action is present in my life and my affairs; any/all negative beliefs are immediately neutralized.
Infinite Spirit animates everything that I do, say or think. Divine ideas come to me regularly; they direct and support me without effort. I am continuously guided and compelled to do the right thing at the right time, to say the right word at the right time, to follow the right course with the best motives at all times.
Any suggestion of age, poverty, limitation or unhappiness is eliminated from my thinking. I am happy, well and overflowing with Life. I live in the Spirit of Truth and know that the Spirit of Truth lives in me. My word manifests according to the Law, and there is no unbelief, no doubt, no uncertainty. Every thought of doubt vanishes from my mind – I know the Truth and I am free.