There’s an old tale about a man on top of his roof as flood waters swirl below him. In desperation he prays, begging God to save him from certain doom.
Soon after, a rescue boat comes by, throws him a life jacket, a rope and encourages him to jump.
The man throws the life jacket back, and tells them he doesn’t need their help – God is going to save him. Shaking their heads, they steer the boat downstream to other stranded folks.
A few hours later, a helicopter comes along and lowers a rope ladder to the man. A search & rescue officer comes down the ladder to help, but he refuses; once again telling his would-be rescuers that God is going to save him.
The Search & Rescue crew leaves, heading out to retrieve other, more willing stranded folks.
Throughout the night, the flood waters rose beyond the top of the roof and the man, having no where to go, drowns.
He arrived at the pearly gates and as St Peter checked him in, he asked why God hadn’t answered his prayers in the flood. St Peter shook his head.
“God sent you a boat, and a helicopter – what more did you want?“
In understanding spiritual principles, there is a tendency in some corners to believe in the existence of sparkly unicorns, or engage in what is often called “magical thinking“.
The adage shared above is a perfect example of “magical thinking” and it stands in stark contrast to applying spiritual principles to solve life problems.
Prayers get answers. In this tale, the prayer was answered first by a rescue boat, and then by a helicopter. The spiritual principles worked.
But the man had it in his head that he wanted something specific,… he had a particular idea of what it would look like for his prayer to be answered, and he turned away 2 very viable options.
Neville Goddard, Wayne Dyer and others taught that we should live in the end to manifest what we want or need. In this (fictional) man’s case, living in the end would have been getting safely off that roof. Instead of living in the end, or focusing on the end state that he desired; he was very stuck in the “how” – and it didn’t end well!
I have experienced this tension between magical thinking and living in the end, so I understand how easy it is to fall into the trap.
Not long into my present job, I was miserable and surrounded with some not-very-nice people. In addition, I had taken a significant pay cut and I was sick of that, too. I wanted my good salary back, I wanted nicer colleagues, and I wanted the esteem I had enjoyed in previous jobs. This was awful, and I wanted OUT!
I chanted, prayed, treated, meditated and intended all kind of ways for this to happen: I waited for a call from a head hunter, the winning Power Ball ticket and the discovery of a long lost relative with the deed to a silver mine, … and everything in between.
But none of that happened.
If I had given in to that magical thinking, it could have resulted in me leaving in a huff, or digging in, growing resentful and eventually pronouncing the principles as a bunch of hooey.
But I had some experience applying spiritual principles in my life, and I knew that I had to do the work. I continued to read and study, and to focus my attention and energy on what I really wanted in the end: a job where I was respected, could be successful, made decent money, and could enjoy the work as well as the people I worked with.
And all of that manifested – but not in a rainbow flurry of Prize Patrol visits. It manifested when I began where I was, working the principles and living “in the end“. It came when I settled down and accepted that everything in life is a trade-off and when I got clear on what I was willing to sacrifice (adjusting how I interacted with the mean girls) and what I was not (walking away from a pension).
When we’re struggling to get things to go our way, it’s usually due to being mired in the “hows“. It’s then that we need to take a step back and look at the end result that we desire; letting go of the details and how we think it needs to look.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say we’re building a business, and we want it to work in a certain way, and customers to interact with us in a specific way. We want them to buy exactly what we’re selling, and pay us a certain amount of money because we want/need that amount of money, and …
First of all, that’s a LOT of “hows“, and it’s all about us. It totally leaves the rest of the world out of the equation – and it doesn’t work that way.
I’ve written a lot about the Retail Apocalypse, and the changes in that industry. I am certain that many of the people working in retail have prayed for a resolution to the decline. And answers to those prayers have come in, but in different ways, shapes and forms – NONE of them being a return to busy malls and swarms of traditional shoppers “like it used to be“.
Applying spiritual principle absolutely works. But it’s not a vending machine that gives us the item we plugged into the menu board after inserting our money. It’s not “treatment in – miracle out“.
It’s also not strenuous.
If we find ourselves praying, and praying and straining to make something happen – the answer isn’t longer, louder prayers while we hold our hands over our wallets.
When we catch ourselves in this posture, it’s time to take a step back, get out of the “hows“, get clear on the end, and let go.
Things started lining up in divine right order when I let go of my focus on wanting a call from the head hunter with a perfect job; the winning lottery ticket, and the rich relative. That’s the way spiritual principle works.
Answers to our prayers don’t ride into our lives on glittery unicorns – they come to us in ordinary ways, involve work on our part, and very often, unfold in ways we never imagined.
We can experience magic, if we are willing to let go, and let the Infinite Spirit show up “…as the abundant all sufficiency in [our] life and affairs.”
And so it is.
(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path