Job for the New Thought audience

(re-sharing)

One of the more prominent controversies in New Thought today is the blow back against those in the movement who teach that it is consciousness and consciousness alone that creates – and that when we are ill, or have bad fortune; we have created or even invited it into our experience.

This has caused a tidal wave of backlash, and terminology like “sick shaming” and “spiritual malpractice” has emerged to push back against this largely unhelpful interpretation.

Some New Thought “purists” may scorn the push back as being evidence of a weakening commitment to the principles of spiritual living, but a deeper dive into the ancient spiritual foundations may provide more support for the push back than the purists.

In the Hebrew scriptures, the book of Job tells a story of a wealthy and prosperous man who seemingly has everything one could desire: health, wealth, family, power and stature in his community. AND,…he had a strong relationship with the Creator.

According to the scriptural canon, God allows Satan to test this man by inflicting all measure of horrors on him. Satan believes that Job’s love and devotion to God are situational, and so to prove Satan’s error, God allows him to test Job.

Those with any biblical history in their background will recall that Job suffered the loss of his livelihood, his servants, his family and then suffered horrible physical ailments.

During the trials and tribulations that Job suffered, 3 of his friends came to him and provided comfort and commentary. They also suggested that Job has created all of his own problems through his relationship with God and encouraged him to repent – or in New Thought parlance: to get his consciousness straightened out.

This is rejected in the telling of the story: we read that the reason was Satan’s desire to prove Job as a “fake” and we see in the end that Job remained steadfast in his devotion to God throughout the ordeal, and was restored and increased – no repentance or consciousness change needed.

This same Truth is reiterated in the teachings of Jesus in John 9, where Jesus and his disciples come across a blind man who was begging.

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” 

John 9:1-3

The lesson here is clear: the blindness was NOT due to a lack of consciousness on the part of the man, or his parents – but presented instead as an opportunity to show the power of Spirit to heal.

The spiritual tools taught in New Thought are indeed powerful and life-changing. However, adherents and practitioners without an in-depth knowledge of the historical spiritual canons (Hebrew scriptures, New Testament, Bhagavad Gita, Dao de Ching, etc.) must take care to study beyond the counsel of a limited circle of teachers before pronouncing the truth as they know it and teaching it to others.

The challenges in our lives, and the lives of others, present a grand opportunity to tap into the rich spiritual history of humanity and to use the refined and modern tools of 21st century spirituality to do good works in the world.

New Thought practitioners – and their clients – benefit greatly when the perspective of first do no harm is practiced throughout the spiritual guidance process. The counsel to “first do no harm” is taken from the writings of Hippocrates and used today in the oath taken by medical professionals (physicians) upon entrance into professional practice.

Seeing lack, illness, misfortune and other trials as an opportunity to shine the Light of Spirit is a noble undertaking. Pointing out that the person experiencing these challenges has invited them into their lives is not only cruel and unusual and often harmful; it’s unsound spiritual practice and well-documented in the historical spiritual canons as wrong.

The healing benefits of spiritual living are accessible to all, but there is a responsibility for those who put themselves forward as professionals in the art that extends beyond passing the tests, paying licensing fees and hanging out a shingle. There is a responsibility to own the wisdom we are sharing and ensure that it is based on sound principles that stand the test of time and align with the teachings across the ancient wisdom canons.

(C) 2019 Practitioner's Path

(read the 2nd Job blog in this series here)

Fine Art of Disruption

The early 21st century has evolved into the age of disrupters, with long-standing business models being upended on a regular basis and replaced with business models that were once considered impossible.

Warby Parker

When I was a young kid, my parents discovered that I needed glasses. The trip to the Optometrist and Ophthalmologist was always a serious affair. The only way to get glasses, from the time I was 7 years old until just a couple years ago, was to have an eye exam by a Doctor of Optometry and then be fitted for your glasses and lenses by an Optician – usually in the same location. It was a very up-close-and-personal transaction.

For many years, the optometry business of selling glasses was quite lucrative (the few eye wear companies had 60% – 80% of the US market locked up) and as an adult, it was easy to drop more than $1,000 each time I needed a new pair.

Enter Warby Parker onto the scene.

Initially, the founders’ pitch to investors was met with doubt and resistance. Let’s face it: prior to 2010, who would have thought that you could buy eye glasses online?

The founders believed that the model at the time was outdated, and bloated. The MARKUP on glasses was extreme and the market essentially monopolized by one company that had a stranglehold on the optometry business.

Fast forward to today and Warby Parker – whose TV commercials are as compelling as their business model – is worth more than $1 billion (that’s with a ‘B‘) and no one is laughing any more – except the WP founders – all the way to the bank.

Starbucks

Starbucks is another disrupter worth knowing, but began their takeover before the dawn of the 21st century. Growing up, no one I knew would have paid more than 50-cents (and 35-cents was better) for a cup of coffee in a restaurant and no one under 30 would have been caught dead drinking it.

While Starbucks has weathered a few financial storms, their brand remains on top of the heap and their logo recognizable worldwide. Today, no one blinks at paying a couple dollars for a cup of coffee and the name is synonymous with high quality coffee.

eBooks

I can still remember a conversation with someone who was certain that electronic books would be a flash in the pan (e.g. never catch on). They cited line and verse about the benefits of “real” books and how people would never (be careful with that word) warm up to a digital version.

Today eBook sales represent from 11% – 15% of all book sales, and while they haven’t totally replaced the old school book; they are a viable and stable market and the Kindle helped to launch Amazon into its position of prominence.

Other disruption

Someone recently wrote that they remember when only birds tweeted. The disruption of the early 21st century included Twitter, Facebook (originally a college hookup app), DropBox, FitBit (e.g. wearable tech), Smart Phones (instead of dumb ones), renting peoples’ homes (AirBnB), Spotify (music) and much, much more.

All of these ideas were initially met with resistance (we’ve never done it that way before), disbelief (that will never work) and scorn. But the disrupters held on to their visions, and today most of us have, buy or use these 21st disruptions on a regular basis.

I will drink Starbucks, continue to upgrade my smart phone and Tweet – and I will also continue to think outside of the box that organized religion is fighting tooth and nail to remain locked inside.

Buggy Whips & Model T Cars

My father, who voraciously reads history, told me that when Henry Ford’s first Model T cars were produced, the factory that made buggy whips (to urge the horses on) protested and picketed the plant. They made so much noise and trouble that Ford agreed to put buggy whips on each new Ford that they produced.

Ridiculous? Indeed, but we hold on to our traditions today with no less indignation and fury.

Today our cars have no buggy whips, and long ago those who manufactured them had to evolve to the new way of being. The challenge today for those in leadership positions – especially in organizations that are seeing the demise unfold in front of them – is to decide whether they are buggy whip makers, or Warby Parkers.

One path to survival

There are two decidedly different paths implied. One is survival, evolution and growth; the other is decline and obsolescence. The great challenge in all of this is being able to LET GO of what we are comfortable with, what we want and have wanted for some time, and to be able to sit comfortably with the unknown – because what comes NEXT may not be obvious.

Still, for that next iteration to move in, we must be willing to let go of yesterday’s way; to release the need today to be (today) where and what we have always been.

Learning to sit in silence is a highly-respected spiritual practice, but it is not only prescribed for individual action. Groups and organizations facing great change and upheaval as “the old” falls away must also learn to sit quietly in silence with no immediate answers forthcoming.

Becoming comfortable with the not knowing is the first step in successful evolution and it is a CRITICAL step for survival. When we feel ourselves grabbing on more tightly to what we know, and are most comfortable with – it’s a GIANT SIGN that we really need to release, let go, and let Spirit move in and move things around.

We teach trust.

We teach letting go and letting God (we release into the Law as the final step in Treatment!)

We should be able to demonstrate it within the organizations that teach these principles. And if we can’t … we should probably reevaluate our role in holding ourselves up as a teacher for others.

Today, more than ever before, “do as I say, not as I do” as a leadership perspective does not work.

As spiritual teachers, leaders and modelers of a spiritual way to be in the world, we must first be the change that we are teaching/preaching to others. We can’t be this change clinging desperately to all-things 20th century!

Disruption is here. Let’s walk our (spiritual principles) talk, welcome the changes, work to learn/grow/understand them – let’s ride the waves of change!

It’s the ONLY option we have for survival (as spiritual organizations), and hey – the other side just may be even more awesome than we would have ever imagined!

But we won’t know unless we give it a try.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

No Samson Needed

I heard a cultural reference to the biblical character Samson the other day and it got me thinking about the story. I decided to revisit what I recalled of it from childhood Sunday School lessons.

As a small child, the story is of a strong man whom God favors, and who – even though blinded and bound – is able to defeat his enemies. A closer, more intentional read of the whole story tells a much different tale and shifts the takeaway significantly.

Samson was born to a couple who had been childless for many years, and feared they would never have children. The Israelites are in captivity in the land of the Philistines (40-year captivity) and an angel appears to the woman and promises her a son. There are “rules” of course as there are whenever an angel appears with a message.

The angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, “You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son. Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean. You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”

Judges 13

Due to the nature of his birth, and the desperate circumstances of the Hebrew people (who believed that he would deliver them from the Philistines and captivity), Samson appears to have been spoiled as a child and his temperament did not improve into adulthood.

His relatively short life was marked with petulant deeds (tying foxes together and lighting them on fire), and poor decisions driven by his desires. The evidence that he was perpetually indulged culminates in his final fate – being captured, blinded and imprisoned by the enemy of the Hebrew people.

He has a documented habit of being with women outside of a sanctioned relationship, and appears to be so needy for their attention that the last one he met (Delilah) talked him out of his greatest secret in short order, resulting in his demise. So much for the great hope of the Israelites.

Leadership lesson

The story of Samson is not the story of men being foolish (although it could be) as much as it is a tale of warning for those who anoint leaders. In organizations religious, spiritual and secular there is a tendency to put all our hopes, dreams and future stakes in the hands of someone whom we believe can rescue us.

Too often, the story is like Samson’s. These “saviors” are entirely too human, and being human (prone to mistakes) in combination with being anointed as some sort of messiah is a lethal move – and it’s lethal on two planes.

The first problem is that the very-human “Samsons” are susceptible to believing that all the hope and adoration heaped on their heads by the organization they are now leading is well-deserved. Too many of them get cocky and lose the ability (if they indeed ever had it) to look critically at themselves and see the areas where they need help, or where others may have more experience, expertise or wisdom.

This, coupled with the ga-ga eyes of those in the organization who anointed them, is a fatal combination. Too often, the blind trust in this “savior” extends for far too long. By the time it becomes impossible to overlook “Samson’s” faults, lack of skill and bad behavior; it is too late and the organization faces peril.

Some will survive and recoup their losses, while others will survive but never return to the place they once held; still others will not survive. History’s ledger is littered with the names of organizations taken down by poor leadership choices.

Avoiding Samsons

The first step to avoiding the disasters that inevitably come when we invite someone to lead an organization as a “savior” or answer to all our problems is to stop right there. If there are fundamental issues that prevented our organization from growing, expanding, becoming profitable or otherwise improving – the “answer” may or may not be a new leader. But we have the responsibility to be clear-eyed before proceeding.

A new leader at Blockbuster (with the same focus of in-store DVD rentals) would not have saved the business; a new leader at Border’s (insisting on selling DVDs and physical music media when the world had moved on to digital) would not have saved them, either.

New leadership must be coupled with good business sense and the ability to make hard decisions that benefit not only the person getting paid, but the entire organization.

Samson was so consumed with his own needs that he neglected his mandate from birth (to save the Hebrew people from the Philistines) and hastily gave his secrets to Delilah. His own personal needs superseded the needs of the many and this is one of the WORST traits to have in a leader. Sadly, it is also a common one.

Another option for avoiding a Samson is to look around and see if the depth, wisdom, experience and ability already exists within.

Is it hard work? Yes.

Does it sometimes mean that we have to sacrifice sacred cows? Indeed.

Will we have to let go of some things we don’t want to let go of? Again, yes.

But life is a “big picture” project and sometimes, we have to let go of the death grip we have on the old in order to allow room and space for the new things to come – things which may feel foreign, but that align with our overall goals.

The story of Samson is a story of false hope, entitlement, and foolish, misplaced trust. It’s also a reminder that the process of saving ourselves and our organizations should not wait for for some external, likely-flawed Samson.

The work is ours to do. And when we stop waiting in the desert for “Samson” – some anointed answer to problems that are ours to solve – we’ll find success; especially when we recognize at last that we had the power to save ourselves, all along.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

What we give out

…comes back and sits on our front doorstep, at our kitchen table or in the middle of our bed.

One of the most telling signs of spiritual maturity is our behavior when life doesn’t work out the way we had hoped. When we blame others, deflect responsibility away from ourselves and abjectly refuse to consider the role we played in creating the mess; we’re not only displaying our spiritual immaturity, but we’re asking (begging) the Universe to come at us again.

Perpetual refusal to learn our lessons will always result in successively larger and harder lessons until we begin to understand that we reap what we sow. To have less pain and suffering in our lives, we must learn to plant more intentionally so that we may reap what we desire instead of what we detest.

When things go south, it’s a good idea to do what is known as an “after action report“. This means we will examine what role our actions and words played in our latest life mess. This self-reflection is an important step in our spiritual growth and will help us to learn how NOT to make the same mistakes again.

As we reflect, we must take care to remember that the Universe keeps perfect records.

  • If we mistreat others, we should not be surprised when someone else mistreats us.
  • If we speak dishonestly about others, we should not be surprised when someone else speaks dishonestly about us.
  • If we take advantage of someone, we should not be surprised when someone else takes advantage of us.
  • If we are cruel to someone, we should not be surprised when someone else is cruel to us.
  • If we deceive someone, we should not be surprised when we are deceived.

When we understand our own behavior we can take steps to stop ourselves the next time we stand at the cusp of an opportunity to do what is “…easy, fast or fun“, or to do the right thing.

Give to the world what you want to receive from the world because you will receive that.

Gary Zukav, author

In other words, what we put out into the world: how we act, what we say and how we treat others – comes back to us, every time.

When we are ANGRY, UPSET, or feeling MISTREATED,… the first place we need to go is to the mirror and take a long, hard look.

The good news? There’s always a path to redemption.

The bad news? It winds through our realization that we not only own the messes we’re standing in; but we summoned them to us.

Simple, not easy – but all within our control.


(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

Decoding the messages

In the study of spiritual metaphysics, it is taught that there is One Mind – and that all is contained within that One Mind. This means that we are never far from the answer to a question, or the solution to a problem. A favorite affirmation that I learned early in my affiliation with New Thought aligns with that teaching and goes like this:

I always know what I need to know, the moment I need to know it!

In using this affirmation, we must remember that the moment we NEED to know something may not align with when we WANT to know it. Patience is a spiritual practice, too.

It has been my experience that we are ALWAYS receiving information from the Universe – it’s just that most of the time, we’re not paying attention. One of the significant benefits of walking a spiritual path is that we are much more likely to recognize these nuanced communications when they come our way because we are more tuned in to the spiritual side of things.

Most of my messages – or answers to my questions – have tested my patience and perseverance as they are usually time-delayed; sometimes for several years. I have learned to be patient and trust the process, but will admit that there are times when I feel quite frustrated in waiting for the answer or message!

One time however, my fervent plea was NOT delayed at all.

I was in Southern California for a retreat, and I was spending some time alone on the beach the day before group activities began. I lived in San Diego when I was a young Sailor and both of my children were born there. I have a deep connection to the area and the beaches and no matter what business takes me to her shores, I make sure I have time alone to reconnect.

I had come to the end of a portion of my spiritual journey and was feeling some trepidation and angst. I had a LOT of questions. Instead of answering the ones I had at the start of my journey, it seems I had uncovered even more along the way as well as a good dose of doubt.

I had invested a lot of time, money and energy in this particular journey and the events of the previous year or so had done little to make me feel comfortable about those investments. Instead of allaying my initial concerns, I observed increasingly ridiculous behavior by multiple “leaders” in the community as well as a breathtaking level of pettiness, power-hunger and competition. I kept thinking, “if this is what enlightened looks like, I need to reconsider remaining in the dark,…

I was beating myself up pretty good for the time, money, attention, energy, etc. that I had spent and beginning to wonder what the opportunity cost had been for this venture. I was smarter than this, and have a portfolio of “proof” (academic credentials and jobs), I told myself. How did I get sidelined into this insanity? What else could I have done in my life/career if I had channeled all those resources in another direction?

As I was thinking, ranting, questioning, and feeling like every negative thought or comment anyone had ever directed my way was probably spot-on accurate; in exasperation I said (out-loud): “I just need to know that I’m not a fool, or complete failure – I need to know that I’m OK…

I stopped walking abruptly and looked down. At the tip of my toe at that moment laid the rock pictured above. It was a 3-D heart-shaped rock.

I dropped to my knees and sobbed.

This beach was rocky and filled with a lot of sea debris. And yet, in the midst of my existential “crisis” when I needed help, answers, support, validation and mostly to know that I was not alone: the message came to me immediately.

It would make great copy if I could tell you that after that, I hit the lottery, met the man of my dreams, and started a job writing for a travel company that only sent me to exotic places with 5-star hotels. That didn’t happen (things didn’t get worse, either).

I have now had what Wayne Dyer called “conscious contact” with the truth that I am inextricably connected to Spirit, and that the things I want and need are indeed of concern beyond my own sphere of influence. I have learned that the answers I seek come on different time schedules, but that they always come and in varying formats.

Sometimes they are a downed tree and a part time job. Other times they are a happenstance conversation or piece of information. Still other times they are answers that seem to be the anti-answer and on a few rare occasions they show up as a random sea rock on a beach.

Mary Baker Eddy taught that what we seek is seeking us. My experience, since I have put my foot more formally on a spiritual path, has proven this time and again. And as I seek to make a connection with that which is simultaneously seeking me; I need only be open, ready and able to decode the messages that come my way.

And so it is.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

Peace in the Release

It is said that there are no Atheists in foxholes. Although factually inaccurate, since slightly more than 7% of U.S. Armed Forces report their religious affiliation as “Atheist“, the statement highlights the concept that in times of great stress, many turn to a Higher Power.

When life gets messy, which it does on occasion throughout our lives, we instinctively look for answers and help. Even the amoeba – a single-celled organism with little complexity – takes action to avoid danger. It should be no surprise that we humans work diligently to solve problems or mitigate the dangers that present themselves to us. Sometimes we quickly find success; other times things are more complicated.

When the “messy” is small in scope, involves only ourselves or things we can control, we can often fix the problems and clean up the messes. This is not the case when the scope is larger, more complex and involves more people and circumstances. In the case of these more broad, interconnected life messes, one of the gifts Religious Science has given to the world comes in very handy: the release.

In Religious Science prayer, the importance of letting go at the end is emphasized. This is outlined clearly by Centers for Spiritual Living on their site.

In today’s commercialized spirituality culture, 2 of the steps get a lot of attention. Putting into words what we desire (affirmations) and being GRATEFUL are mainstream. While smart, effective practices for our spiritual toolbox, they fall short when we wake with a pounding heart in the dark of night, or are faced with devastating news. In these times we need more than affirmations and gratitude, and this is where the wisdom of Holmes and others can be most supportive.

The first step in affirmative prayer is known as “Recognition“. This is a critical step in those desperate times, as it helps us to center ourselves on the Truth – that there IS a Power for Good in the Universe – greater than we are – and that we can use it. This is a great relief and comfort when we are struck with terror and fear. Whatever we are facing, we can know that we are not alone or helpless.

The next 3 steps are Unification, Realization and Thanksgiving – all important steps – but in this post I want to focus primarily on the last step: release.

Solving problems seems to be hard-coded in the DNA of all life forms. Not only do we see the reactionary problem-solving behavior in the amoeba, but we have all seen trees that have grown crooked around an obstacle. Problem-solving in nature appears to be a default response. When the problems that come are so large that they threaten to engulf us and our individual problem-solving skills fall short, where can we turn?

In the metaphysical canons, various prayer treatment and affirmative mantras are taught. Experienced Practitioners can retrieve these on a moment’s notice but for others, the ability to string the “correct” order of statements and words can be daunting at best; impossible in the midst of a panic. The good news is that it can be quite simple. Let’s start by looking at the prescribed “5-step Treatment“.

Recognition: The Divine Spirit/God/Infinite Wisdom is all there is; everything that exists is Spirit.

Unification: I am One with the Infinite – Spirit and I are one.

Realization: All is well in this circumstance that I bring into prayer.

Thanksgiving: I am GRATEFUL that all is well.

Release: I let go and let the Infinite take care of this matter/mess.

Many people first stumbling into spiritual metaphysics have issues with traditional religious language. Therefore, other words can be substituted for any that trigger negative feelings or thoughts.

Here is a universal/general version of the above (basic) prayer/treatment that can be used for any issue or circumstance and is short enough to write on an index card (and to memorize).


Spiritual mind treatment (general, universal)

The Infinite Wisdom of the Universe exists in all, and expresses Itself as all of life – including me.

I am one with the Universe.

I know that all is well in [the situation of concern] and I accept that regardless of how bad things may look; everything is OK now, and working out in the best interests of all who are involved.

I’m grateful to know the Truth of [this situation] and from this perspective of gratitude,…

I let go of this issue – turning it over to the Infinite Wisdom of the Universe. And so it is.


While I hesitate somewhat in declaring one part more important than another, I want to point out the critical aspect of letting go; releasing seeds the peace we so desperately seek at these times.

In some traditions, prayer takes on a negotiation posture. This lends itself to returning over and over, asking for the same help. Peace may never come because it never seems to end. Since we don’t get burning bush messages or booming voice mails from the mountaintops, we’re left in a position of perpetual worry and begging that can go on seemingly indefinitely.

The Religious Science contribution to New Thought spirituality is the release and letting go. Everyone trained in Treatment (specific to Religious Science) is taught the importance of letting go, and knowing (not hoping) that all is well.

This process generates a feeling of closure and peace: we’ve done all we can do, and handed it off to a much more capable, Higher Power. When a nagging feeling or worry pops up (and they do), all we need to do is remind ourselves that all is well and let it go again.

There are many shorter versions of this, including a number of statements written by Florence Scovel Shinn. One of my favorites is this one: It is dark before the dawn, but the dawn never fails, Trust in the dawn.

Her metaphor for Spiritual Wisdom portrayed as the dawn of sunlight each day is a brilliant, illustrative affirmation. Indeed, the Light Principle, as Joseph Murphy called it, never fails us. Our job: learn to trust in Spirit’s unwavering provision for us. And as we do, we will find our Peace in the release.

And so it is.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

Related blog posts:

The Perils of Group Think

According to Wikipedia, Group Think is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome.

It is the phenomenon that allows otherwise intelligent people to see hard data and facts that clearly show things moving in ONE direction, and still insist that things are going in the OTHER direction.

I’ve written about magical thinking in an earlier blog, and while we can all agree that miracles happen; sitting and waiting for a miracle while insisting that things unfold in a specific way is Exhibit A on how NOT to use spiritual principles to live a better life.

When we are walking a spiritual path, and living according to spiritual principles; it is critically important to remember that we live in Caesar’s world. While prayers are always answered – the application of spiritual tools (including prayer) should not be considered to be magic wands and we are never excused from using our God-given brains to interpret the data that is all around us.

Consider the story of Blockbuster – the video rental chain that once owned over 9,000 video-rental stores (USA), employed 84,000 people worldwide, had 65 million registered customers and was valued at $3 billion.

People flocked to Blockbuster to rent videos and then later, DVDs to be able to view their favorite movies, TV shows and more in the comfort of their own homes. The model seemed to be perfect,…and it was – until it wasn’t.

Along came Netflix which allowed people to subscribe to the service and receive DVDs in the mail on a regular (monthly basis). Almost overnight there was no need for last minute trips to the video rental store, and even better – no more late fees. Interesting factoid about Netflix: the founder/creator was inspired by his ire around a $40 late fee imposed by Blockbuster.

Blockbuster’s owners actually had an opportunity to PURCHASE Netflix (1999) and passed it up – believing that their (store) model was superior. According to Business Insider, it took Blockbuster another 5 years after saying NO to Netflix to get their own mail-order DVD service up and running and longer than that to say goodbye to late fees.

By then, their efforts can be described best as too little, too late. Netflix had taken off, and had no store/physical location overhead and was ahead of the game on streaming. It was soon game over for Blockbuster.

[Blockbuster was] too busy making money in their video stores to imagine a time when people would no longer want or need them. And in a bid to rescue their business, their answer at the time was to fight fire with fire. At one point they even opened up rental kiosks, a little bit like a vending machine, but all of these attempts were based on either outdated technology or outdated business models, whereas Netflix at the time, they did the opposite; they streamlined, they were able to see the future of video rentals and then innovate for that future. Blockbuster… didn’t seem to understand how … millennials, who grew up in a world without hard-copy media like DVDs and CDs, would react to video-on-demand as technology improved. And that’s why Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, and Hulu, they’re still all in business, whilst Blockbuster got left behind.

Business Insider online

The takeaways from the Blockbuster & Border’s busts are instructive. They include:

  1. Remaining in “the way we’ve always done it” mode is a zero sum game – even if you’re making money. Recall that at the time Blockbuster needed to make changes to survive, they were flush with business and cash.
  2. Doubling down on old methods and technologies as the competition moves in the opposite direction is a bad idea.
  3. Refusing to understand the power of the millennial generation and their impact on any business model.

There were surely meetings where the reality of the emerging technologies that would eventually swallow Blockbuster were discussed. Whether there was widespread Group Think or a CEO who disallowed dissent is not clear in this article. What *IS* clear is that the entrenched stance didn’t work for Blockbuster. It didn’t work for Border’s Books, either.

Border’s bet on old school methods (the neighborhood store) and they thumbed their noses at Amazon (then just an upstart), and flat out refused to invest in eReader technology. Barbes & Noble, whom we can still find in malls across the nation, invested in development of an eReader (the Nook).

Border’s also invested heavily in CD music sales and DVD, just as the industry was going digital (iTunes, Spotify, Pandora anyone?).

Border’s and Blockbuster are not alone but they are 2 well-known examples of the perils of believing one’s own press releases and succumbing to Group Think. I am certain that there were people among the decision-making elite who insisted the business would turn around – and pushed the narrative that drastic change was not needed. I wonder where they are today.

The moral of the story is this: when the writing is on the wall, organizational leaders must be able to read, interpret and act accordingly. Pretending that no one really wants to read eBooks didn’t save Border’s Book Stores. Assuming that movie streaming and no late fees was a failed model didn’t save Blockbuster.

In groups facing business challenges, the continued desire for harmony or conformity in the group, if left unchecked, will result in dysfunctional decision-making and a disastrous outcome, and not because I say so, but because history shows us time and again that this is how it goes.

We should ask ourselves questions when we have that nagging feeling that things aren’t quite as they should be (or when we flat out know it, but don’t want to say it out loud):

  • I love this model, but are there others who love it enough to maintain it as a business?
  • I think this business/activity is critically important, but are there others who hold it in the same esteem?
  • This is the way we’ve always done it. Is there another way to do the same thing that makes this more sustainable?
  • What am I willing to let go to keep some aspect of this business?
  • What am I willing to CHANGE to maintain some aspect of this business?
  • Am I willing to be UNCOMFORTABLE with changes that may help maintain some aspect of this business?
  • Am I willing to step aside if the business could be better managed by someone else?
  • Am I willing to be wrong?

If we are unwilling to ask ourselves these and other hard questions, they’ll be answered as life continues to evolve – with or without us. We can pray and pray and pray for a miracle. The Divine hears us, and has likely sent us a rescue boat and a helicopter on several occasions. Have we listened? Or are we looking only for the answer as we have envisioned it?

The data needed for survival was available to Blockbuster. The data for sustainability was available to Border’s. And there is data available today for businesses that are willing to take note. The only question is whether anyone will pay attention in enough time to make a difference.

Only time will tell.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

Metaphysical Business Rules

One of the biggest challenges to grasping metaphysical spirituality for those new to the practice is balancing what we hear from teachers (our thoughts create our world) with the reality that we’re not all-powerful, magic wand-wielding wizards.

In actuality, we live in a Universe that has what information systems professionals describe as “business rules“: guidelines for processes that operate on the “if THIS situation exists, then THAT option is available” basis.

(business rules to assign customer status based on annual spending)

In the example shown above it shows how a computer algorithm assigns customers to a rewards status based on their spending.

If someone spends $5,000/year, Gold customer; else if someone spends $3,000/year, Silver customer; else if someone spends $2,000/year, Bronze customer; else Regular Customer.

In a business rule, an action triggers a response. This is very much how Spiritual Law works, but it requires a bit more patience and faith to work in our lives.

Thought as a causative agent

Our world view and perpetual, habitual thinking will absolutely impact our experience. If we are miserable people, our experiences will mirror our perspective and bring us more reasons to be miserable. Conversely, if we see the Good in life, our experiences will mirror our positive perspective and bring us more reasons to be upbeat.

This does NOT mean that we can, a la The Secret, put our attention on a gold necklace and have it appear without any effort. It also does NOT mean that we can magically change our circumstances (poof!) and transport ourselves out of the misery we feel today and into bliss tomorrow.

I explain this as the Metaphysical Business Rules of the Universe and they serve to prevent us from getting something for nothing. In the terms of the example/graphic above, we cannot enjoy the benefits of a GOLD Member status without spending $5,000 a year.

An early-20th century success coach once said that to get a million dollars, we need to give a million dollars worth of service. This means that to land a job that pays a very handsome salary, we must be willing, marketable, and able to perform the work associated with that generous-salary job.

While I have had many wonderful experiences in manifesting, I have also had MANY circumstances where I wanted BADLY to experience a magical and immediate change that did not happen. One interesting example of this was my career experience.

This and many other circumstances (my own and others) in combination with studies in other spiritual traditions have shown me that there is much more to applying spiritual metaphysics in our lives than simply putting our attention on something and having it show up.

We can absolutely use spiritual principles to help us identify opportunities to improve ourselves and our circumstances; but we must not mistake spiritual support of our forward progress with a free pass to easy street. They are not the same thing.

Spiritual support for forward progress means that as we work toward our goals (yes, I said “work), we find support along the way. We stumble upon information that we did not have access to previously; we are asked to join someone and this introduces us to someone else that is helpful in our journey; we encounter a fortuitous break (like a storm and a downed tree); we receive an email or a phone call with information or other news (an offer for a part-time job or business opportunity), etc.

Please note: I did NOT mention a winning lottery ticket, the Prize Patrol, a long-lost relative with a lot of money or buried treasure.

The “supports” we receive are spiritual help and encouragement. We recognize them as signs that we are supported – that we are never alone. We also need to remember that if we choose to sit on the couch and WAIT for help to knock on the door or fly in through the window, it is likely that we will be waiting for a very long time.

The first talk I gave on metaphysics taught that when we go into our closet to pray for food because we are hungry, the answer is not going to be a hot dog stuffed in through the keyhole.

We begin to grow spiritually when we learn that sitting and waiting isn’t going to bring us what we seek. As much as we have grown to depend on Amazon with 2-day, “free” shipping; that’s NOT how spiritual support works!

In another (earlier) blog post, I wrote about Newton’s Laws of Motion. We all recall at some level that for every action, there is an equal and opposite REACTION. On every level, the Universe reminds us that there is no scenario where we can get something for nothing. To reap the rewards in life, we must always put forth some effort.

Simply put, the metaphysical business rules for life are:

>>> if we’re willing to put forth an effort, keep moving forward, AND we’re mindful of spiritual Law; THEN we will be provided with help and support along the way.

With continued work and effort in combination with an understanding of spiritual law and faith in the outcome/trust in the process; these initial small “wins” expand into bigger and better demonstrations of our Good.

That’s how it works.

One last point. If we are doing our work, trusting the process, keeping the faith – and STILL find that things aren’t working out; it’s time to ask ourselves if we’re capable of seeing the spiritual help that is all around us but that seems to be missing.

It’s important that we are not so fixated on what we want and how we want it to happen that we are unable to see the perfect unfoldment right in front of us.

When this happens, we may dig in and stubbornly fight against the answers that show up because they have not arrived our way.

This stubbornness, intransigence and bull-headedness can cause us to waste a lot of time, energy and money; and to lose out on the things we have wanted for many years.

The Universe always answers and always supports our forward quests. When we finally achieve spiritual maturity we are able to recognize that the ultimate answer to our dreams and desires may look different than we imagined.

At this level we are able to trust that – regardless of the appearance – the answer to our hopes, dreams and prayers is in motion and everything is working out for our Highest Good – and the Highest Good for all.

We also know that the Highest Good for ALL often takes on a different form than what we have envisioned.

Letting go, and letting Good flow in – regardless of whether it’s exactly what we wanted and how we wanted it – is the real “Secret“. It is the cipher code/key to the Metaphysical Business Rules that govern the Universe and the treasure map to all we desire.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

NOTE: readers should be aware that none of these teachings imply or should be interpreted to mean that following these principles/teachings guarantees a life without difficulty. Life still happens – good, bad and otherwise. Spiritual metaphysics is about learning to respond.

For more on that topic, check out this blog post.

New beginnings

This is easier to remember at some times than others; but is important for our long-term peace of mind.

No matter what we are struggling through, dealing with or feeling; the mantra “this too shall pass” can help us hold on and stand in the truth that there is light (and a better experience to be had) at the other end of the darkness.


(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

Sustainable Spirituality

I have gained a great many benefits from learning and digging deeper into the teachings of New Thought; benefits that have helped in ways too numerous to count. The great transformations I have seen in my own experience and in that of others inspire me to support the continued sharing of these principles and teachings. They also give me strong reasons to hold the movement accountable to first do no harm. We should take care not to set up guidelines and guardrails that serve ourselves but that lead others to cast the whole lot of teachings aside.

This casting aside is what I hear most often from people who affiliated with the teachings for a while, but never saw the great abundance they were promised (or believed that they were promised) – and left, disillusioned. Some went back to their Christian roots. Others are simply disillusioned with organized religion and spirituality as a whole, and that makes me sad because I know of the great Good that can come out of walking a spiritual path.

In a recent blog, I wrote that the teachings in New Thought are based on Christianity as well as other spiritual traditions. As such, I feel that is is helpful to teach the larger context instead of putting so much emphasis on things like “Prosperity” because the core essence of the teachings lies in the larger message.

Louise Hay shared in her movie, “You Can Heal Your Life” that when she placed her foot on the spiritual path, things began to open in front of her.

I recognize in using her example I am potentially creating another expectation that when we step on to the spiritual path, the fame and fortune of a Louise Hay is ours. That is NOT what I am saying: I am using her – a prominent and beloved teacher – to highlight the message that walking in the Light helps bring the “green lights and parking spaces” to us with less effort.

In the biblical canon, the concept of “green lights and parking spaces” is illustrated throughout, but here is one example that nicely highlights the concept that Truth teachings are a way of life – and not about manifesting millions:

Now the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, “See, the place where we dwell under your charge is too small for us. Let us go to the Jordan and each of us get there a log, and let us make a place for us to dwell there.” And he answered, “Go.” Then one of them said, “Be pleased to go with your servants.” And he answered, “I will go.” So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. But as one was felling a log, his axe head fell into the water, and he cried out, “Alas, my master! It was borrowed.” Then the man of God said, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, he cut off a stick and threw it in there and made the iron float. And he said, “Take it up.” So he reached out his hand and took it.

2 Kings 6

It’s easy to pass by this mini-miracle as the next passages move quickly into a story of chariots, horses, fires and the ability of the prophet (Elisha) to hear what is spoken in the King’s bedroom from afar. But I believe that the sum total of the benefits to walking the spiritual path is codified in this passage.

Elijah passing the mantle to Elisha

This was not a life or death issue. It was not a crisis. It was someone who had borrowed an axe to do work, and who lost the most valuable part of it when the head (heavy, metal portion) came off and fell into the deep river.

Elisha, being a holy man; a prophet, stopped what he was doing and cut off a stick that he threw into the water where the axe head had sunk, and the iron axe head rose to the top where the man could retrieve it.

This seemingly small act of Good no doubt kept this worker from having to take money he did not have to replace the axe head that he borrowed. We don’t get much more detail around this event but we can imagine ourselves, having to purchase something to replace what we had borrowed. We can assume he was poor, or on hard times, or he would have purchased his own axe. We can also assume from his statements that losing this one and needing to replace it would be a hardship.

Elisha is that person whose feet are firmly planted on the spiritual path. He was Elijah‘s heir apparent, and the mantle of responsibility as prophet to the people of Israel had been formally passed to him at Elijah’s transition.

The lesson of the axe head is in many ways more relevant in today’s modern world than the story of how Elijah called down fire and brimstone to defeat the false gods.

It is likely that we will become disillusioned if we position ourselves to wait on the heavens to open and smite our enemies, or deliver us the bejeweled answers to our financial problems. The reason is that in this expectant posture, we can (will!) miss the many, MANY miraculous things that come our way – the green lights that help us make it to work on time on a critical day; the parking spaces that make our day a little easier, the axe heads that we borrow and do not know how we could afford to replace.

Abundant blessings come to us in strings of many mini-blessings. If we are aware of them, they form a tapestry of a most abundant, blessing-filled life. Our challenge is to take care not to calibrate our vision to be waiting on the BIG ONES, and unable to see the great flood of little ones that come into our experience, every day.

In life there are times when we feel overwhelmed. Nothing seems to be working, or going our way. This is often when people navigate to a spiritual teaching or organization – to seek an end to the pain, to the struggle. I understand that impulse, but I also know that it doesn’t work that way.

In pondering this blog post, my mind wandered off to a story told by a friend – a former US Army officer who had to learn survival skills as part of his training. That memory reminded me of scouting, and the field guides we used to use when we went camping or hiking in the woods.

Field guides don’t teach you how to ascend the ranks to be the grand poobah. They teach you how to identify poisonous plants from edible ones; how to treat minor cuts and scratches with plants; how to make a fire without matches; how to survive by building a shelter if you’re caught in a snowstorm; how to identify the direction (N/S/E/W) using natural landmarks and the stars.

Learning spiritual principles is a good first step to ending our pain or stopping our struggles, but this solution is only sustainable if we understand that the teachings are not a primer on how to manifest the next Power Ball winnings or Prize Patrol visit. They are a field guide on how to live a life using spiritual tools to navigate the challenges that come with being here, now (physical existence on this planet).

When I am engaged with someone who is in a “life pickle“, one of the first things I do is to encourage them to get a small notebook and begin to journal the many little blessings that I know are already coming into their lives. I have seen this simple exercise transform the individual experience on many levels time and again.

I will close this post with a reference to one of my favorite 20th century spiritual writers: Florence Scovel Shinn. She wrote in one of the 4 books she is best known for that we must take care not to “…neglect the day of small things, for little beginnings have big endings“.

And along the spiritual path, these “big endings” are very often a life of peace, harmony, wholeness and being provided with what we need in each moment.

This is what I call “sustainable spirituality” and while it might not be as “sexy” as the prospect of manifesting millions; sustainable spirituality is achievable by anyone, from any perspective, in any situation or circumstance – and it’s free to you, and to me.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path