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.

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

Casinos or communities?

I’m not much of a gambler in the literal sense. Once a year my local professional organization hosts their annual meeting in our city’s casino, and I generally give my luck a whirl, and go home before the set amount of money I agree with myself to spend is gone.

In truth, I am often much more entertained by the people – and I don’t mean the featured shows or acts. Before I continue, let me be clear that I have no interest in dictating how people spend their time or money, and feel that in a free society, everyone has a free choice in both (time and money).

This belief in the inherent FREEDOM we all have does not prevent me from wondering what kind of GOOD would show up in the world if even a portion of the time and money spent in casinos was redirected to help others. For some context, data from 2017 estimates that Americans spent $89 billion in casinos that year.

Given the data on the odds of winning (1 in 49,836,032 for slots); I do not understand the allure of spending hours in a casino – except that people hold on to the belief that they will hit it big one day.

I also do not understand the ability to sit for hours and hours, and days and days, doing the same thing: pushing buttons on a noisy computer and watching money drift away.

Imagine the impact on local communities if the time spent staring at the same machines with the same flashing lights and the same clanging bells was channeled into community service!

  • 1% of $89 billion = $890,000,000 ($17,800,000/state)
  • 5% of $89 billion = $4,450,000,000 ($89,000,000/state)
  • 10% of $89 billion = $8,900,000,000 ($178,000,000/state)

Consider the hungry children who could be fed; the meals on wheels for seniors that could be supported; the pain and hopelessness that could be eased with the time and money expended just in casinos!

To be fair, casinos are not built or funded for the public good – regardless of the marketing campaigns launched when a new one comes to town. They are in business to separate people from their money – and they’re pretty darn good at it.

I have no issue with a casino being in business. I think that for occasional entertainment they are fun places for a night out! I am most interested in the habitual and regular attendance by some casino regulars and the “opportunity cost” that is the funneling of time, money and wisdom of some of each community’s best resources into the pockets of a few – instead of into the community.

But casinos aren’t the only places in town that peddle the same old song and dance and take money for themselves, while selling the hope that maybe – just maybe! – someone will be the next BIG WINNER and their lives will change.

Imagine all the Good that might come if, instead of turning on the same old “slot machine lights and bells” each week, organizations turned away from begging people for money and brainstorming about how to get even MORE from people and asked, “How can we serve?”

Here’s how an organization like that might look:

  • A membership-based organization that exists primarily to serve others – not a select few at the top.
  • A group of like-minded people who spend time together, working collectively toward goals that support a world that “works for all“.
  • A socially-enriching experience for seniors, families and single people where the opportunity to learn life principles that support a better way of being are put in practice – not just talked about (theory into practice).
  • A supportive, loving community where bonds are forged by showing up fully engaged in work that demonstrates an understanding of the cherished principles that have changed our lives (paying it forward).

This week it is clear that the world needs people of good will and strong spirit to come together in selfless service and commitment to others.

No one needs another prosperity class (the concept is simple – learn it and move on, already!) and the world will not be changed by another Catherine Ponder, Ernest Holmes, Emmet Fox or Emma Curtis Hopkins class or book group.

The world, this country and our communities don’t need more of us to hole up in small clusters to listen to the same thing over and over, week after week.

The world, this country, our brothers and sisters – especially our brothers and sisters of color – now more than ever – need committed, spiritually-aware people who are willing to roll up their sleeves, give up their titles and platforms, and just do the work.

No one who sits in front of the same row of slot machines day after day ever substantively changes their life for the better; and a world that begins to turn around and work for ALL of us will not come from us sitting together once a week to hear the same principles illustrated through slightly different stories, week after week.

It comes down to this: do we want to be slot machine jockeys (sitting in the same place, week after week listening the the same thing and hoping for a big win) or spiritual warriors?

If we actually believe what we have spent years studying and learning; there is really only one viable, integrity-oriented option.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

No house of merchandise

When someone (or some organization) tells me who they are, I take them at their word until proven otherwise. The recognized founder of Religious Science (who took what he had learned in Divine Science and Christian Science and reorganized it into Religious Science) said the following:

“Science of Mind…is Christian-oriented, fundamentally following the teachings of Jesus.”

Ernest Holmes in ‘The Spiritual Universe and You’ (Los Angeles: Science of Mind Publications, 1971)

In any teaching that purports to be built on “…fundamentally following the teachings of Jesus“, it is critically important to know those teachings! Jesus, did not establish a religion built around large buildings, weekly gatherings where a basket was passed or capital campaigns. Instead, he lived as an itinerant teacher, traveling town to town and teaching people spiritual Truths.

“…Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

from Matthew 8

Catherine Ponder’s prosperity gospel best-sellers aside, I do not believe that the historical records have any support for the teacher Jesus being a millionaire (although it’s admittedly a catchy hook for selling books).

The biblical accounting of what Jesus believed the relationship between money and the church is documented in Matthew, Mark and John.

14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; 16 And said unto them that sold doves, “Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house a house of merchandise.”

from John 2

Fast-forward to the 21st century, and it should be no surprise to anyone that there is a serious disconnect between any religious or spiritual organization that claims to be based on the teachings of Jesus that ALSO builds its foundational infrastructure on generating money from the teachings that he (as well as as many others) taught to uplift humanity across the ages.

While churches, centers and other organized religious and spiritual organizations continue to struggle with membership and relevance, many are pulling out old playbooks to rev up the (remaining) troops. This often falls into continuing to do the same thing over and over while expecting different results. Some people have classified this as the definition of insanity.

I’m not sure it’s technically insane, but it’s certainly a zero sum game. If the circumstances of the global pandemic have taught us anything, it is that old paradigms are done, and a radically new way of being is in order. While this is true in many corners of society, the one I am interested in most is the paradigm shift needed in organized religious and spiritual practice.

The circumstances of the global pandemic are forcing businesses of ALL kinds to rethink their strategies. According to some of the smartest economic minds available today, the economic damage from the COVID-19 crisis is likely to extend for years, not months. This reality means that most churches, spiritual centers and related businesses do not have the luxury to wait out the recovery.

Some will say that the demise of organized religion is long overdue. I don’t entirely disagree, but will caution a full embrace of this belief. There is great value to be found in communities of like-minded people who hold a shared belief system. Research has shown that prayer has a positive impact and that the caring actions of a committed community can effect positive outcomes in difficult times.

It is for these and a few other reasons that I believe that the paradigm shift in organized religion – and now I am speaking specifically about metaphysical spiritual organizations – needs to shift away from the model where there is a minister who is paid a salary in addition to expenses around location, and services.

The post-pandemic model I am suggesting is one where there is an established community whose members agree on a shared vision of what is important and what they are willing to support. This may be a monthly rent or lease so that there is a space to gather. It may also include stipends for those who maintain the books, or organize the logistics (operations).

While some people cannot imagine how an organization could function without a paid grand poobah, there are many successful organizations that exist and succeed because of capable people who are well-able to manage working full time jobs and time in a volunteer leadership role.

The Grand Poobah of the Order of the Water Buffalo/Lodge

The first thing that needs to go is the belief that every organization needs a talking head. Our culture already has way too many talking heads with questionable skills in presenting content in a compelling way and they are littering the airwaves with mediocre talks.

Thankfully there are also plenty of good speakers with a compelling message available. Groups that want to refresh their learning on spiritual Truths can log in – separately or in a gathering – to hear some of the greats who are available on sites like YouTube and Facebook – for free.

Teachers of spiritual Truths can offer their wares in classes, seminars and workshops and more and “the market” will respond. Those offerings which are compelling and worthwhile will attract a following and those that are stale and non-relevant will see dwindling attendance. I’m not necessarily a capitalistic guru, but the forces of the market do have wisdom to share. When the market is saying over and over and over that it isn’t interested in what someone is selling,… it’s time to sit up and listen.

Community commitment

This new paradigm will require a different way of being financially but it is fundamentally a more honest way. Instead of promising the Grand Poobah a set salary, and then hoping that their whiz-bang oratory skills and wit will attract people from the 4 corners of the earth; set up the expenses for the community (location, basic services like utilities, internet, etc.) and secure a core group of founding members.

If the basic expenses are $1,500 a month and you only have 5 core members, they must be willing to give $300 a month every month. If that’s not a workable solution; decrease the basic expenses or recruit some additional core members.

As new people show up for talks, classes and more they can simply contribute a love offering. Those that continue to show up will be offered the benefits AND responsibility of becoming a core member.

In addition to a commitment to contribute a set amount each month, core members will receive member benefits. Here is a partial list of some Core Member benefits that a Spiritual Community could offer those that sustain the group with their financial support:

  • One monthly session with a practitioner/coach/spiritual mentor
  • One date they can use the location for a class, workshop or meeting each month (or each quarter, depending on the size of the organization and the number of core members) at no charge – love offerings always accepted.
  • Reduced cost sharing for any additional use of the location
    • instead of a 50% cost sharing, members get to keep 70% of the revenue from the event they host at the location
  • Opportunity to “advertise” their offerings in the community newsletter (with community board approval)

This option allows for practitioners of many metaphysical arts to share their gifts with the community (Board should establish guidelines for what is acceptable and what is not and it would vary by community) AND support their metaphysical spiritual community.

This is much more egalitarian than the old model of paying a minister, whether or not they are delivering value, and it shifts the control of the organization back where it belongs: in the hands of the members.

Some may ask what the difference is between paying a minister’s salary and paying for a class or workshop.

The BIG difference is choice.

Today as tithing and attendance dwindles in churches and centers across the country, those who desire to remain in the community are held hostage and pressured – either directly or indirectly – to give more and more money to pay the preacher. This causes undue stress and is unfair at best; unethical at its worst.

The membership model provides defined, accepted upfront costs that all agree on and pay to sustain the COMMUNITY – not to pay a figurehead. The obligation is to the sustenance of the group and the structure necessary – as agreed upon by the members – for the group to remain viable.

The OTHER offerings; talks, classes, training, workshops, seminars (etc.) are optional. This separates the things that are not getting traction (e.g. the market is not responding) and allows those to die on the vine without taking down the entire community.

It also allows people to vote with their wallets without taking down the entire community.

The MEMBERSHIP donations each month are strictly intended to support the community organization – regardless of and separate from the ministers and others that come and go.

It’s past time to separate the communities that people rely on and invest in from the need to pay a minister – who may or may not be invested in the community; and who may or may not be able to provide services that others find valuable enough to support.

Teaching spiritual Truths means that we teach about a Divine Source that always provides. How can we stand up and lecture others about that out of one side of our mouths while haranguing the few folks that come around for money out of the other side of our mouths?

It’s time to actually walk our spiritual talk; to reverse the practices that have twisted the teaching of spiritual Truths into a commodity. When we do the work, we are provided. And no organized extortion is needed. It’s time to dispose of the model that requires churches and spiritual centers to be houses of merchandise, and honor the intentions of founder Ernest Holmes.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

A challenge in practice

(Joel Goldsmith)

Joel Goldsmith, celebrated as one of America’s great Christian mystics, is oft-quoted in metaphysical studies and his works assigned as curriculum in coursework within defined programs of study in metaphysical organizations.

I was combing through the book, “Practicing the Presence” a few days ago and was interrupted. When I came back to my reading, the pages had flipped open to the page that featured this paragraph:

“We dare not ever look outside of our own being for our good, but we must ever look upon ourselves as that center from which God is flowing. It is the function of the Christ, or Son of God, to be the instrument as which the good of God pours out into the world:

I am that center through which God operates, and, therefore I understand the nature of supply. Never will I attempt to demonstrate supply; never will I attempt to get supply. Since the activity of the Christ, Itself, is supply, then all I need to do is to let it flow. Since “I and my Father are one”, and I am the Christ, or the Son of God, I am that place through which God flows. Therefore, I can meet every demand that is made upon me…”

Joel Goldsmith, “Practicing the Presence”, p. 83

Since stumbling upon spiritual metaphysics, I have struggled with an age-old question that has plagued humanity since the introduction of religious rules and regulations; principles and practice.

Why does this stuff work some of the time, but not all of the time?

Some old-school metaphysicians will point out that it always works, according to the consciousness of the person. I have disputed this almost since first hearing it proposed as the reason for non-demonstrations, as have many others.

I also wonder: what is the reason that I have demonstrated a new roof, a way to pay my student loans, and more – while other matters remain elusive (an agent for my book, as 1 example)?

If I knew a definitive answer – something that could be simplified, packaged into a commodity and distributed – I could sell it and become ridiculously wealthy. The continued multitude of offerings on applying the Law of Attraction (or whatever the latest version might be – “scripting” may be the buzzword now) continue to suggest that interest remains high (though not as high as it was after the release of The Secret).

Continuing my reference to Goldsmith’s book, whose writings echo the tone found in John Randolph Price’s Abundance Book, I can only conclude that the “answer” to my own query is this:

“The moment we realize [our oneness with the Divine], good begins to flow to us from outside, from sources all over the globe.”

Joel Goldsmith, “Practicing the Presence”, p. 84

This realization is one that does not track one-to-one with modern metaphysics. In some (not all) corners of what I am referring to as modern metaphysics, more “us” (the individual) and less God is taught. The focus is often presented as being about individual actions, individual beliefs (change your thinking, change your life) and individual consciousness instead of a recognition of the omnipresence of the Infinite. This may not be the intended communication; but at its surface, that is the message that comes across.

I have come to wonder if, as the pendulum swings between extremes, the concept of personal consciousness has been over-emphasized in some corners of metaphysical spirituality, and the impact of Divine influence under-considered.

I look at my own experience, where on many occasions I have turned to spiritual tools to remove myself from an unpleasant situation or circumstance, only to find a path through – not out – of the circumstance. Once on the other side I have found a significant benefit to having remained in that situation/circumstance. This strongly suggests that there is a wisdom; a higher power that knows better than I do and does NOT simply respond to what I want, but sees the big picture and acts accordingly.

This of course isn’t as “sexy” or marketable as manifesting. The path to this kind of manifesting is longer-term (and Americans, especially, have become increasingly impatient); requires self-discipline, self-control and commitment. It is most definitely not a “quick-fix“.

I understand why churches and centers run Prosperity Classes. Who would respond to an advertisement with a tagline that promised a lengthy commitment of time, serious study and introspection, and abundant benefits that are unable to be quickly tallied or measured – AND – sometimes even show up as a decisive “no” to our request? It’s a hard sell except for the most committed seekers.

Sadly, history suggests that the interest in manifesting things out of thin air will not disappear any time soon.

In his book, “The History of New Thought“, author John S. Haller, Jr. wrote:

“The commodification of empowerment and self-discovery has been one of the characteristic elements of New Thought in American life and culture as it competes in the marketplace for audiences—a condition that has left its spokespeople indistinguishable on occasion from the crassest of hucksters. Utilizing oratory, salesmanship, pseudoscience, ritual, and entertainment to elevate the moral tone of their message, these dream weavers provide believers with much-needed assurances that they are the living legacies of the world’s spiritual awakening and that the world is, indeed, their oyster. By playing down dogma, simplifying creeds, and offering oral and visual distractions rich in anecdote, they have won the loyalties of millions to their commercialized spirituality.”

John S Haller, Jr. “The History of New Thought, p. 273

Today, modern New Thought struggles to hold onto its footing and relevance as a movement. Now is a good time to ask at least one hard question: has the “commodification of empowerment” and “commercialized spirituality” created more shallow distractions than deep enlightenment?

As we have preached prosperity, tallied tithes and given a lot of lip service to Oneness; it appears that at some level we have also minimized/sidelined the core Truths of a message that, when fully understood and embraced, can truly heal the sick, feed the hungry, uplift the fallen, and restore the years the locusts have eaten.

It remains to be seen if there is a way out that does not require a total upending of the current status; and only time will tell.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

A hedge of protection

In many traditional religious circles, the phrase “hedge of protection” is referenced to indicate the protected status religious people have in life.

The concept is derived from many verses, especially those in Psalms and Proverbs, and the specific language comes from the story of Job.

In this story, Job is a prosperous and content man, living the good life with all the trappings of that status. As the story goes, in a conversation Satan tells God that Job is only faithful because things are good; because God “put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has,…

Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.

Job 1:10

This verse has generated a host of references to this “hedge of protection”, and is (understandably) comforting to people navigating the uncertainties of life.

In a recent conversation with a friend who is a devout Christian, they made a comment about this hedge of protection and that they feel sorry for non-Christians who don’t benefit from it. I try not to argue about religion so I smiled and swallowed the multiple rebuttals that were in the tip of my tongue, such as the most obvious one: Job wasn’t a Christian,…so (yeah).

The interaction made me think about the concept, but from a wider vantage point. I considered Job, the many faithful Jews, Muslims and others whose lives have surely had that same hedge of protection. I thought too about the multitudes of people whose religions acknowledge a Power and Presence but whose practices diverge from the people of the Book*.

I’d make an educated guess that devout, practicing adherents of all these religious and spiritual groups have experienced the protective benefits described in Job. And for this reason, I believe that this benefit comes, not from gaining favor from a specific deity or following certain dogma; but from living in alignment with Source. Wayne Dyer would put it this way: living “in Spirit”, or an inspired life.

Louise Hay said often that once she put her foot on the spiritual path, she began to get “green lights and parking spaces” and Joel Osteen routinely refers to God’s “favor“.

The GOOD news about this hedge of protection is that it is available to us all, regardless of our religious or spiritual affiliation. The path to this protection begins with an acknowledgment of what Joseph Murphy called The Light Principle and Ernest Holmes called “a Power, greater than we are,…” (e.g. God in traditional religion).

After a basic acknowledgement – or willingness to accept this as Truth; establish a regular spiritual practice. For some this is prayer; for others, meditation. It can be yoga, walks/jogs in nature, creating art – almost anything that allows for some quiet/contemplative and solitary time.

Once you establish your regular routine, practice seeing how Spirit shows up. This happens in ways large and small; grand and simple. If you’re not sure “how” to do this, simply decide/expect, or as the folks who do this stuff regularly say, “put out the intention” that you will RECOGNIZE instances where/when Spirit shows up.

And you’ll start to see things change in ways that feel miraculous.

If this is an entirely NEW concept to you, there are a plethora of places to learn. While there are some newer resources, I have found these to be timeless:

  • How to Get What You Really, Really, Really, Really Want (13 YouTube clips from PBS special)
    • I refer to this as “Spirituality 101” and recommend it first to those interested in learning non-religious, spiritual concepts.
  • You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay (available at most libraries)
    • Super teaching and intro to several other great teachers
  • Teachings of Neville Goddard (start with Live in the End)
    • Some of this teachings are a little off the beaten path, but his concepts on spirituality are quite profound.
  • Keep It Simple (recent blog post about beginning a spiritual journey)

A hedge of protection doesn’t require an exclusive invitation, or membership in a specific organization. It’s available to anyone who is willing to take that first step.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path 

*People of the Book refers to Jews, Muslims and Christians

Spiritual Maturity

I’ve been writing this blog for almost 7 years. In that time period I have documented numerous answered prayers, or “demonstrations” as they are called in the metaphysical / spiritual-not-religious corners of the world.

As I have often shared, I came into this teaching in a state of curiosity, not desperation. Not long before, I had been given a copy of the audio book, “The Secret” and begun my journey into the world of metaphysical experience. While I knew that The Secret was a doorway to a deeper path; I also knew that some of the examples in the movie were off base, and fantastical – even if they were meant as metaphorical representations of the way “this stuff works” (and I think they were meant that way and not as unrealistic goals).

Over the years that I have studied, learned and grown in my application and appreciation of these ancient, spiritual Truths; I have observed that there is a level of maturity in our use of them.

When we are immature, expectations are high and often untethered to reality. This can and often does lead to disappointment and an undermining of the beliefs. This is described best by Mike Dooley who was in the movie as “messing with the hows“. See my blog on magical thinking for an explanation of this.

When approaching the principles with maturity, however; real magic can come into our lives. This magic happens when we are willing and able to let go of the way we want things to happen and allow the principles to work as they work.

The maturity involved in this requires a relinquishment of ego – letting go of what WE wanted, and how WE wanted things to work out, and how WE saw the best outcomes as needing to be. A mature approach is one that is open at the top (nod to Ernest Holmes) and does not insist on doing things a certain way, and is always willing to evolve, even if/when it’s scary.

The following examples illustrate the difference:

A family member wanted to buy a pair of athletic shoes, but money was short. The IMMATURE wish was for more money; the MATURE knowing led to a pair of athletic shoes that met their needs, and was affordable within their budget.

A child who wanted to play the flute in band and a family that wondered about adding another instrument payment to the budget found that the IMMATURE wish for more money coming in each month so they could afford it was replaced with the MATURE knowing that they are provided when a flute showed up.

I was set to travel in the midst of a Winter storm. The IMMATURE desire I had was for my employer to cancel all travel until Spring. The MATURE knowing I experienced was that I was provided – not only with safe travel between Kansas City and Pittsburgh, but on time with no delays.

A couple years back, my daughter and her family moved across town. A few weeks after the move, the family cat disappeared. My grandson was distraught and all of us combed the neighborhoods – old and new – for Figgy. The IMMATURE wish was that Figgy would simply wander back into the yard. The MATURE knowing let go of the HOW and held on to the knowing that the highest and best outcome would manifest.

This outcome came in a call from Animal Control, more than a MONTH after Figgy disappeared. I feel strongly that this happened to teach me about faith, trust and persistence and each time I see Figgy with my grandchildren, I am reminded of that lesson (I was able to scratch his ears and give him a couple kitty-treats just yesterday!).

I’ve written often about my need for a new roof that required $15,000 and about concerns around finances specific to my student loans. The IMMATURE desires I held around these issues were for large, windfalls of money so that I could simply write a check and be done with the worry.

The MATURE knowing allowed for the outcomes that looked a bit different, but still met all my needs: I am not paying my students loans out of my monthly budget – and instead of a winning lottery ticket, a tree blew onto my roof and a part time job came my way.

These examples, along with the many others chronicled in this blog, have worked to teach me the critical importance of a mature approach to the application of spiritual principles in my life. I have learned the crucial aspect of “keeping out of the hows” and regularly see the miracles that emerge when I do.

For these reasons, I struggle to support teachers or self-proclaimed gurus who are not demonstrating a maturity in their practice. They are, sadly, leading others astray when they keep holding their hands over their bank accounts and praying loudly for more money to roll in to maintain things as they want them to be.

This behavior demonstrates a lack of depth and expertise – especially when they insist that they’ll not move off their current path (“I’m not changing the way we spend our money!”) even in the face of an obvious need to make drastic changes.

This is, I believe, spiritual malpractice. Not because I said so, but because teaching spiritual Truths to help people with hard life challenges is a sacred duty and our desire for money, position or power should NEVER outrank that responsibility.

In the Christian canon, the teacher Jesus taught that leading people astray was a big problem:

but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Matthew 18:6

The word sin is interpreted metaphysically to mean “missing the mark“. From this perspective, this counsel could be rewritten as:

  • Whoever causes someone new to these teachings to miss the mark – or use the principles ineffectively, which can create the perception that they are useless and lead people to abandon them – is committing malpractice, and should immediately cease and desist.

Does this mean that anyone not demonstrating immediate results is incapable of leading?

Not at all.

It DOES mean that to be effective and sustainable; leadership requires maturity – as evidenced in a willingness to be wrong, self-awareness, being open to ideas that conflict with one’s own, and the ability to let go of long-held sacred cows.

In other words, it means being able to understand the spiritual principles enough to LIVE them, and not just talk about them. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

 (C) 2020 Practitioner's Path 

New Thought Unicorns

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

A basic tool

I’ve been in a management/leadership position for many years now, and have had (and continue to have) the opportunity to sit with people who need advice, some coaching or more (sometimes counseling for disciplinary reasons).

Often, people come to me because they’re miserable about their career prospects, their current job assignment, someone they work with, or their boss. My studies in metaphysics have helped me become a better listener, and that alone has added great benefit to my ability to assist people. Beyond that, however; I employ some simple tools that not only get results in the workforce, but would find a comfortable home in most metaphysical churches or centers.

One favorite technique of mine is to take a small, dollar store notebook and use it as a journal. Let’s take the person who comes to me because they dislike their job, but are stuck because they need the money, and aren’t having any luck finding a new job.

I hand them one of these mini/pocket notebooks (I keep a stash in my office for just these times), and ask them to take a few minutes each morning and date the top of a page, and write down 3 things that they appreciate about their current job or employment situation.

Each day they need to come up with 3 new things. I tell them to start with the things closest to them: the paycheck, the people they DO like, the free parking. I recommend this exercise at the beginning of the day because as they work, they will recognize OTHER things for which they are thankful, and they can keep a running list to use over the next days.

This activity first thing each morning also helps to reset any feelings of misery or resentment, making a way for a better experience throughout the day.

This process is so simple it seems like an impossible “fix” for anything, but I can tell you that it works. Appreciation in any circumstance is a healing balm, and this exercise helps us to return our attention to the whole host of little things that make a good life.

This works for a relationship, a job situation, neighborhood issues, family challenges and more. I’ve written before about the way I turned a miserable job situation into one that I truly enjoy by focusing on a ~$2 cup of fruit and the ability to take a walk around a suburban campus in the afternoon. Some weeks I struggled to find anything else to appreciate, but I stuck with it, and before long I had a long list. Free parking (I paid more than $100/month to park in my job at the University), time to listen to audio-books on my commute, a list of good and decent people who were also fun to work with, reasonable expectations, great benefits, interesting work, support for continuing education, generous vacation package, relaxed dress code,… and much more.

There’s not really any “magic” in the mini notebooks. They’re simply a hands-on tool for practicing gratitude; for changing our thinking so we can change our lives. I’ve found in working with people over the years that giving someone a concrete tool to use works much better than quoting sometimes-obtuse spiritual principles.

This time of year finds many churches and centers offering prosperity classes. If you’re struggling with prosperity, this tool can be a help to you as well.

Go get a mini notebook (you can get 4 or 5 of them for $1 at most Dollar stores). Each day write down 3 things about your financial situation that you appreciate.

Think broadly: remember when you 1st got the job or the benefits that are coming in now. Feel the relief and appreciation you felt when this money first came into your life.

If you are not working, and wish that you were; look at the things you can do without a job that would be hard if you were going into work every day. Sprinkle appreciation all over your days and activities. Bless the help you get from benefits or others and be grateful for it all.

The key to any of this is to look for the Good – no matter how difficult it may seem. It’s here, now – even if it appears to be hiding. Stick to it and keep looking, keep SEEING it all around you.

Finding the Good in whatever situation we’re in is a life-changing exercise, and it’s as close as a 25-cent notebook.

Give it a try – you’ll be glad that you did 🙂

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

Simple Things, Big Gratitude

There’s nothing quite like an impromptu gathering of friends who share some common threads and whose differences not only help to smooth each others’ rough edges, but bind us together to create a strong and interesting tapestry.

Today I marveled at the great wealth I have in my group of friends – some long-time friends; others relatively new. I am grateful for the technology that keeps us connected when life gets in the way; for good food and the bonds of friendship that are stronger than external circumstances.

For centuries, close knit groups of women sustained communities and maintained the ebb and flow of businesses, tended to babies and the elderly, and kept things moving forward – all while supporting each other in the daily, sometimes hectic/sometimes mundane activities of life. In times past, this support may have included helping with housework or farm work after the birth of a baby, a death in the family or other times of need.

In today’s high tech world it may still look like that in some corners, but it may also be as simple as a text message invitation to gather for lunch (this week Thai ~ next week, Mexican?!) 😉

I surely don’t stop to ponder this enough, but today I was granted the gift of a divine reminder: I am provided – always, and in all ways. I was able to stop for a moment and pay attention, to recognize even, the great blessing that is this circle of friends.

I am deeply grateful for each of you – for how you show up in the world, for who you are, for simply being you. You know who you are (all of you!) – thank you!


(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path