I have been on an extended road trip to Barcelona and to Lisbon, where, in each city, I offered spiritual renewal retreats based on the messages in Conversations with God. So my apologies for not having been here in this space for a bit. I do want to continue — and conclude — the series of articles that I started here some weeks ago, on Seven Steps to Having Your Own Conversation with God.
Please allow me to pick up here where we left off with the last entry.
The fourth stepin having your own Conversation with God is a commitment to wakefulness; an agreement with yourself topay attention to God.
God is all around us, and we are not paying attention.
We may be willing. We may have gone past Step Three. But we are not awake. We are not paying attention.
Often that is because we are looking too hard for what is right in front of our face. We are listening so earnestly that we miss the sound.
God is talking to us in a thousand different ways, across a million moments. But we must pay cultivate what I call Attentive Inattention…or the Unexpected Expectation, or “active passivity.”
This is when you listen by not listening. It is when you look by not looking.
It is when you open your mind’s ear and your mind’s eye to nothing at all, expecting nothing at all, searching for nothing at all, wishing for nothing at all, striving for nothing at all, just “being with” No Thing/Everything.
This is exactly what I do when I am writing. It is exactly how I have produced 27 books.
This Attentive Inattention turns every moment into a meditation. Just let life go by, but watch it out of the “corner of your eye.”
God’s conversations will “sneak up on you.” The lyrics of the next song you hear on the overhead speakers in the food store. The article that jumps off the cover of a two-year-old magazine at the hair salon. The chance utterance of a friend you just happen to meet on the street. The words on the billboard around the next corner.
…or…a fleeting thought that crosses your mind, seemingly out of nowhere.
“Nowhere”…that’s an interesting word. Slice it in half and it comes out to NOW HERE.
God is always NOW HERE.
So I call Step Four: Wakefulness. Don’t sleep walk through life. Stay awake. Watch what’s going on—without looking for something in particular.
Like right now. What do you think is happening right now?
The fifth step is acceptance…or, if you please, non-denial.
We need to call our conversations with God exactly what they are when they occur.
Once we start by setting aside that kind of special time, and begin walking through Life in wakefulness, we will be aware that we are receiving communications from the Divine all the time.
What will happen is that we will suddenly notice them. We will become aware that Life informs Life about life through the process of Life Itself. And we will become a conscious part of that process.
Still, if we’re not careful, we’ll call this something else. We’ll give it a different label or different name for fear of being ridiculed.
We’ll call it “coincidence.” Or “serendipity.” Or “women’s intuition.” Or a “stroke of genius.” Or a “sudden inspiration.” Or, simply…a “good idea.”
We’ll call it everything we can think of except a Conversation with God.
And in denying it for what it is, we will minimize it. And that’s the danger. We won’t give it the importance it deserves because we’ve called it less than it is.
Now there’s another side to this. And it’s kind of ironic, but I have to tell you about it so you don’t fall into the trap.
Step six is discernment. We have to be careful not to become so precious with the experience that we start categorizing everything that happens to us as “a sign.” Or, “God, talking to me!”
In other words, don’t let your imagination run away with you.
Don’t let your mind play tricks on you.
God talks to you through you Soul, not through your mind. And you can learn to tell the difference. This is called discernment.
So if you’re reaching for your car keys and a dollar falls out of your pocket, this may not be a “sign” that you should take all of the money out of your pocket and throw it on the sidewalk.
Be judicious. Give everything the “tummy test.”
Your stomach will know when something is true. Ever notice that? Your tummy knows what the Mind can only wonder about.
The body is more intelligent than we think. Listen to your body. Watch how you feel. If you feel uplifted by something you have noticed out of the “corner of your eye,” pay attention to that.
If you feel downtrodden, or “burdened,” by an incoming communication, it cannot be from God. It must be from your Mind.
…Or…it has been filtered so much BY your Mind that you have lost the purity of the original communication.
Now don’t get me wrong. Your Mind is not your enemy. It is a very important and effective tool, actually. It’s just that it has a job to do.
Your Mind’s job is to ensure your survival. Therefore, it will always look for anything that may seem threatening to you. It will be super-cautious. It will see every possible bad outcome, and warn you about it. No wonder that you will often feel burdened, and not uplifted, by its communications.
And then, irony of ironies, when your Mind sees that you are feeling burdened, it will do whatever it can to guarantee that you get through that “downer” so that you can survive…so it will even give you a temporary “high”—such as a thought or idea that every single thing that is going on is a “sign from God.” If THAT doesn’t make you feel special, nothing will.
So be careful with your Mind. It is always powerful, but not always reliable.
Use discernment. Go to the place that’s thinking about what you’re thinking about. This is Who You Really Are. You are the Observer of That Which Is Being Observed.
You are neither your Body nor your Mind nor your Soul. You are That Which Is All Three.
This is the Totality of Your Being—and this is what you are seeking to experience during your time here on Earth.
And that brings us to Step Seven: Fulfillment.
After you have used your discernment to decide which thoughts, concepts, and ideas really are coming directly from God—as opposed to indirectly thought the many filters of your Mind, your life, and your world—give yourself permission to act on them. Do something about them. Don’t ignore them, or put ‘em on a pile for “later.”
When I was a child there used to be a saying: “Strike while the iron is hot.”
In the process by which something is forged from steel, you have to shape the metal into the desired formation while it is white hot—and therefore pliable enough to turn into anything you want.
When you have a conversation with God, something wants to be forged from steel. So strike while the iron is hot.
Do it. Act on it. Step into it, not away from it.
And do it now, not tomorrow. Not when you “have more time,” or when you “have more money,” or when you have “more” of whatever it is you don’t think you have enough of right now.
Make it your intention to at least begin. All right, maybe you don’t have a particular item, or a particular aspect, perfectly in place. But make it your intention to begin. And then…make it your intention to complete.
Remember that life proceeds out of your intentions for it.
And “completion” is the definition of enlightenment.
Watch how much lighter you feel when you complete anything.
So intend to begin, and intend to complete, the next step in the process of your own evolution.
And don’t wonder about what it is you should do. Don’t worry about what your next step is, or how to solve your current dilemma, or how to resolve your present issue, or how to solve the prevailing problem.
Say this prayer:
Thank you, God, for helping me to understand that this problem has already been solved for me.
Then listen for God. Ask God whatever you want to ask. Then watch. Wait. Listen for the answer.
Now I want you to know that, with regard to your present question…
…you will be answered.
Indeed, it has been written: “Even before you ask, I will have answered.”
Yet you may not hear the answer in this very moment. You may not be aware of it “right now.”
Not everyone becomes aware of their conversation with God in the same way.
Give yourself time. Have patience with yourself. Have patience with the process. Ultimately, once you deliberately ask a question of God, you will become aware of the answer. It will happen very rapidly, if you stop looking for it, and just let it “come to you.”
Ask, and you will be answered. Knock, and it will be opened unto you.
So let yourself receive the answer in the Fullness of Time.
That could be today, in this way that we are going use right now, or not. Let it all be okay.
And that’s my Seven Step Process to having your own Conversation with God. I hope it has been helpful to you.
As I said in the first entry in this series of articles, I have been asked many times how people can have a conversation with God of their own, and so I have looked at my own experience carefully, and I have come up with a sort of informal Seven Step Process to help people do this.
I have already explained that the first step is to admit to the possibility that such a thing can take place, that people can actually have conversations with God; to simply accept at last that these things are not only possible, but that they are occurring right now, and have always occurred, in the experience of humanity.
In order to hold this as a possibility, one would have to hold as a possibility the existence of a God at all. So I call Step One: Possibility.
Moving now to the second step…we are invited to include ourselves in the circle of those beings we consider worthy of having such experiences.
For instance, we already know that people have had conversations with God. Moses said he did, and many believe him, Mohammed said did, and many believe him, the Buddha said he did, and many believe him, Joseph Smith said he did, and many believe him. These beings and others had some kind of personal revelation that made them feel touched by the hand of God.
Jesus said he talked to God and went so far as to say that he and his Father were One. Many believe him. Krishna, likewise, was said to be God made Man. This is the ultimate in “talking to God.” This is when the “talker” and the “talkee” become One. This is when the one conversing and the one being conversed with are One And The Same.
So we already acknowledge that some people have had these kinds of experiences. Then why couldn’t we?
Well, because often we think that those others who have been mentioned are somehow better then we are. They’re more holy or they’re more wise or they’re more pure or they’re something that we are not. Yet the fact is that they are nothing we are not. So the second step of the process leading to our own conversation with God is to acknowledge our own worthiness—that I am just as worthy to be spoken to by God as anyone else.
So I call Step Two: Worthiness.
The third step in the process is to move to a place of willingness to receive such communications—and that must manifest itself in behaviors that demonstrate willingness.
For instance, I set aside a few minutes each day for quiet contemplation. I don’t keep running my life as if I don’t have time to do that. I demonstrate a willingness to receive such communications from God by preserving and arranging for sufficient time for that to occur, and by creating environmental conditions that allow it to occur.
In my own case, I arise in the morning and I try very hard to spend some quiet time thinking and writing before I do anything else. Some mornings I get up early as 4:30 and some mornings it might be closer to 5:30 or 6:30, but it’s almost always before or as the sun comes up. And I set aside that time for myself, to be quiet. Maybe I do some writing, perhaps I do some reading, or I might do some in-place meditating.
(One doesn’t have to go to a special room or a particular location and sit down and light a candle or put on some special music to meditate. That’s a nice thing to do, but that’s not required. One can meditate anywhere. Right where you are when you decide to meditate, you can do that. Lying in bed just after you awaken. Standing in the kitchen while the coffee is brewing. Sitting in your favorite armchair.
And meditation does not have to take a certain amount of time or look a certain way. It can take just a quick few moments, and look like gentle observation, or thinking—but thinking from the level of Soul, not the level of Mind. This is really not thinking at all, but quiet contemplation…just being “still” in your mind.
It is written: “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Whatever it looks like to you, work ten minutes of this into your daily routine and you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to “find time to meditate.”
With me, it’s not the same every day. But I do give myself time every morning to be alone with my soul, and most people do not do that. If I miss that time in the morning…if life just will not allow that on a certain day, then I make sure that I find some time during that day to just STOP—just stop for a moment—and give myself even just ten seconds of peace.
This is what I call “Stopping Meditation.”
It’s when you just stop everything you are doing, just for 10-Blessed-Seconds, and do nothing. Say nothing, Think nothing. Just BE.
This “stopping” can occur, you can make this happen, at any time. While walking down the street. While doing the dishes. While standing in the shower.
What I described just now is unusual, I’m sad to say. Most people live their whole lives, and maybe they give their Mind a rest once or twice a month. They get inspired, read a book—“I’ll try it”—but after three days the rest period is over and they get back to “regular life.”
Yet if this becomes a regular part of “regular life,” if you set aside a time to commune with your soul every day, after a very few days you’ll find that you’re having the “conversations with God” that you’ve asked about. For God talks in the spaces between our thoughts, not during our thoughts.
Or better yet, I should say that God talks all the time, but we can hear God better in the spaces between our thoughts. And between our actions, Yes?
So I call Step Three: Willingness.
Just be willing to hear God—and demonstrate that by giving yourself some holy moments each day to just listen.