I grew up on 10-cent pinball games. My family camped in the Summer and I begged a lot of dimes from my parents to play old-fashioned, noisy pinball machines. I grew up as these were being edged out by Pac Man consoles, which never saw a dime – they wanted (multiple) quarters!
Today pinball machines and even Pac Man consoles have been replaced by in-home game systems and other interesting methods for wrenching money out of parents’ pockets by appealing to the kids. One of my “favorites” is the Claw Machine – often positioned at the front entrance/exit in discount stores.
Like games on the midway at the fair, kids can spend a lot of money for the chance to grab a toy that cost less than 10-cents in bulk lots from China. Still, the allure is ever-present for kids who are sure they can get the one, desirable stuffed toy buried deep under the others for next-to-nothing.
At some point, kids figure out (sometimes on their own – other times with the help of caring adults) that the best way to get the “Angry Bird” stuffed toy (or other desirable item) is to invest some time doing chores, save the money they earn and buy the one they want when they have enough money.
This works until they see some teenager hoist out the biggest, angriest bird in triumph just as they walk past. Sure, they spent their entire allowance from the past 2 weeks and walked away with nothing,… but there’s that kid with the big, stuffed angry bird.
Claw Machines (and midway games) are a terrific metaphor for life and an important spiritual Truth: there are no free lunches. Sure, sometimes someone figures out how to hook the big ticket toy at the carnival or in the claw machine but as a game plan, counting on those short cuts to happiness are a road to disappointment and empty wallets.
Spiritual seekers know that we get out of life what we put into it. And this is why I often get frustrated with spiritual organizations that want to fall back on Claw Machine gimmicks to attract people who are interested in the big prize.
Walking the spiritual path is a long game; and the longer we walk it, the more miracles open up along the way. But to see these miracles – to live in the flow of the wonders of the Divine – we must play the long game.
In the latter decades of the 20th century, prosperity teachers were wildly popular and many New Thought churches and centers got a boost from the attention a number of these wealthy teachers brought to the teachings. But in the same way we shouldn’t plan to get that new stuffed animal by sinking money into the Claw Machine, we can’t build a life of spiritual depth on the expectation of manifesting quick money. Spiritual Law is not a vending machine and when we teach new people that it can be, we are setting them up for disappointment and ourselves up for vanishing members.
The longer I study the principles of spiritual living, the more convinced I am that we need to adopt an approach such as: this stuff works, but it’s a long game – not a quick win.
We need to teach new seekers who show up on our doors that there is indeed gold to be mined in the teachings of Ernest Holmes and others, but that it is revealed most generously to those who invest time in learning the history, living the principles and practicing the perspective. In other words, the true rewards of spiritual living come from playing the long game; from investing wisely and storing up our knowledge, wisdom, skills and abilities to then attract into our lives the miracles, manifestation and yes, even money.
In fact, I believe that if we peel back the layers of successful CSL centers and struggling ones; we will see this core Truth at the heart of the success (or struggle).
There are many benefits to the study of New Thought spiritual principles, but the journey is not a carnival midway where a lucky visitor can hang out for a short time, learn some neat tricks and figure out how to win the lottery. It’s a serious life choice that, when walked with intention and dedication, can change lives.
As we come to the end of the 2nd decade in this new century, it’s time to leave the get-rich-quick schemes and manifesting classes to the Law of Attraction gurus who are still around (I got a new email from a Secret star just this week with a new pitch & a new promise to make all my dreams come true – I’ve heard this one before, so I hit ‘delete’).
Our success as a movement and organization lies in our knowledge of the Truth and longevity of spiritual Law, along with our willingness to not only be in the long game, but to acknowledge it as the only way to walk the spiritual path.
And so it is.
(C) 2018 Practitioner's Path