Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Cave of Shadows

Imagine a group of people sitting in a cave.  They are unable to turn around and can only see the blank cave wall in front of them.  Way behind them is a fire.  Life goes on between the fire and the people in the cave.  They experience that life only as shadows on the cave wall - the shadows cast by the light of the fire being obstructed by the people and objects between that fire and the cave people.

Really imagine this.  What would those cave people see?  How closely would it reflect reality?

Some of what they see could be close to mimicking reality.  Most will not.  But some will be close.  Perhaps close enough for them to work out what might happen next.  But certainly not close enough for them to be able to say they understand reality.  Of course, they will say this, as they do not realize that what they are seeing is only shadows, a very poor reflection of reality.  They will only begin to see the truth if someone releases them and turns them around so they can see what is passing between themselves and the fire rather than just the shadows of what is passing.

You may be familiar with this little story.  It is called the "Allegory of the Cave", and was written over 2,400 years ago by the Classical Greek philosopher, Plato, in his book "The Republic".  Plato believed that we are just like those prisoners in the cave.  What we see around us in "real" life is just shadows.  We never see the true forms that give rise to those shadows.

St Paul stated something very similar in his first letter to the Corinthians, no doubt recognizing that as Greeks they would be very familiar with the concept.  Paul's interpretation of Plato's story, depending on which translation you use was "For now we see as through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then I shall know even as also I am known."  When Paul spoke of a "glass", he was referring to a primitive mirror.  It was not possible to see anything truly in such a primitive mirror, but only to see it "darkly" or very much obscured.  His analogy was therefore very similar to Plato's story of the people in the cave who could only see shadows.

Shakespeare, too, referred obliquely to this concept when he said, in Hamlet, that "there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

Has anyone ever said to you "I only believe in what I can see"?  Or have you even said this yourself?  What you can see is the shadow on the blank wall of your cave.  What you can see is the dark reflection in a primitive mirror.  It is not reality at all, just a very imperfect reflection of reality.  So do not be so quick to say "I only believe in what I can see".  There is a big, unknown, but actually a very welcoming universe out there.  One which we cannot yet see.  One which wants to help us achieve great things in life if only we will allow it to do so.

I have my own thoughts about the reality out there, and where it comes from, but I don't allow my thoughts to become rigid absolutes, as I understand I can still only see shadows, only see through a glass darkly, but one day will really see the truth - which may be very different from what I had believed to be the case.  What is important is that I do know what others may view as impossible need not be impossible at all.  I know that the Universe, or God, or the inner Spirit, or whatever you want to call it or him or her wants me to live a good and happy life and to do all I can to help those around me live a good and happy life.  I will do all I can to achieve this and will always be thankful for this wonderful life I and others can live.  Will you do the same?

Wednesday, 7 March 2018


Is there a place for negativity in your world?

On the surface, the answer should be a resounding "no".  I will get to that in just a minute, but first I want to be a bit controversial and say why I prefaced this with "on the surface" rather than outlawing negativity outright.

Life consists of a continuous cycle of creation and destruction.  Without the destruction there could be no new creation.

In the Hindu religion Kali is the destroyer of evil.  The spiritual equivalent of organisms such as funghi, which break down dead organic matter so it can be used to feed new life.

In Islam there is the concept of Jihad.  To me this is pretty much the equivalent of the Hindu Kali.  Jihad is a holy struggle.  This includes finding and destroying those things within yourself that prevent you living a holy life.

I strongly believe in the place for this concept.  We all have things within us that don't belong, and we should search them out and destroy them.  So we should all be involved in Jihad (in its true meaning) whether or not we are Muslims.

But having identified the place in our life for the destructive force, let me come back again to negativity in all its other senses.  I do not see a place for this in anyone's life.  Yes, find and destroy negative traits (which in itself is a negative action), but do not ever allow negativity itself to creep in and take over your life, which is what it will do if you let it.

Negativity is what causes unhappiness.  The situation you find yourself in does not, and cannot, cause unhappiness.  Only your negative reaction to that situation.

When negativity takes over, almost every situation seems hopeless and unwanted, no matter how good it may actually be.

Have you ever found yourself on holiday moaning about the poor quality of the hotel, the bad weather, the inedible food?  It may be true that the hotel is not up to scratch.  Perhaps the weather is not as good as you had wished.  Maybe the food is well below Michelin Star standard.  But you are on holiday in what is probably still a lovely place.  Relax!  Accept that things will be different here from home - in fact, rejoice in that difference! 

Don't allow negativity to take over.  See the good in every situation.  If you focus on what is bad, you will attract more of the same and the negativity will become a vicious circle.  Focus on the good and you will attract more of that instead, and your positivity will become a virtuous circle.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018


Is there a place in your life for daydreaming?  Should there be?

I believe the answer is a very firm "yes"!

"Daydream" time is your opportunity to explore what it is you really want in life.  Most of us are so busy trying to get somewhere that we have never stopped and thought whether or not that is where we really want to be!  We also often "borrow" other people's ideas about what we should want.  Perhaps we have goals that were originally set by our parents.  Or that we have read about or heard friends discuss and think they should be our goals too.  Perhaps they should!  But also, perhaps not!  Or maybe we should retain those goals but there are other goals out there that really should have our name on, but that we have simply never considered.  So one reason to daydream is to allow new possible goals to arise and then to try them out and test them, see whether they fit.

You may already believe strongly in the power of visualization and practise this whenever you can.  Certainly this is a very good thing, and in a few days' time you may be reading an e-mail from me about visualization and distinguishing it from daydreaming.  I certainly encourage you to visualize and to do so powerfully.  But visualization is a very clear and directed process.  It is not the same as daydreaming.  When you visualize you already know very clearly what it is you want to achieve and that is what you focus on.  But when you daydream you are in a much freer state than when you visualize, and the purpose is quite different.  It is a time when you should completely let go and stop trying to control everything.  Allow the daydream to take over.  Just relax and let it flow.

After the daydream is over you can then analyze it.  How did it make you feel?  Did it introduce anything that you haven't previously considered?  Should you now consider that element or those elements?  I suggest you keep a daydream diary.  Record the results in that diary.  Then, from time to time get a bigger overall picture by reflecting on a number of different daydream sessions.

Try to create a habit of daydreaming.  This is easiest done if you try to do it at a similar time on a regular basis.

How often should you daydream?

This is a big question.  I suggest the answer will vary depending on where you are in your life right now.  If you have a lot you need to do and are under a lot of pressure then perhaps a daily practice would be too much.  But even if you are under pressure try to have a daydream session at least once a week.

How open should you be about spending time daydreaming?

Unless you are very lucky you will probably find even your closest loved ones may not understand why you need to daydream and may try to convince you not to "waste time" doing it.  It is probably easier simply to daydream when you can be by yourself and when nobody else will know that is what you are doing.  Maybe just say you are going to take a brief nap.  That is not really a lie, as it is more or less a kind of nap.  Your loved ones will probably believe you are tired and are having a nap to recover, but you haven't told them this, they have simply assumed it, so there are no untruths here.

Go on!  Try it!  Spend some time daydreaming.  You will find you should emerge from these sessions feeling more refreshed and energized, as well as quite possibly discovering something new and important about yourself and some of your hidden desires.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Law of Attraction

I have often referred to the Law of Attraction in my blog posts.  But what exactly is it, what does it do, how does it do it, and how important is it to you and your own personal development?

First let me clarify.  The Law of Attraction is not something you can choose to use or to ignore.  Whether or not you like it you are "using" it all the time.  Whether or not you believe in it, the Law of Attraction is working right now and even as you read this it is bringing certain things into your sphere of influence.

The concept is actually very simple.  Like attracts like.  If you focus on certain things, those things are more likely to be attracted into your life.

Most of us, unfortunately, use the Law of Attraction in completely the wrong way, and that is why we get the wrong results.

Notice I said if you focus on certain things, those are the kinds of things the Law of Attraction will bring to you.  Not necessarily exactly the same things, but at least vaguely similar.  Also, maybe only indirectly.  Perhaps what will come into your sphere will be an opportunity to begin obtaining what it is you have focussed on.  But you have to recognize that opportunity.  Most people do not recognize it and therefore do not take advantage of it - and then they complain that the Law of Attraction did not work because it did not bring them the things they wanted.  That is a very lazy attitude, and if you are lazy you are unlikely to get very far in obtaining whatever it is you want.

Even worse, far too many people focus on what is wrong in their life rather than what is good and could be great in their life.  If you focus on what is wrong you will simply attract more of it.  The Law of Attraction will work.  It will respond properly to the instructions you are effectively giving it.  But those instructions are for completely the wrong things.

Take wealth, for example.  When you consider your own wealth do you focus on the fact that you are not wealthy enough?  That you don't have the money you need in order to achieve whatever you want to achieve?  If so, you are probably condemning yourself to losing even the wealth you currently have.  Certainly you are making it much more likely that you will lose it.

Jesus told his disciples "Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them." (Matthew 13:12).  There are a number of different interpretations of this, but one is that if you are someone who "does not have" it means you are focussed on that lack rather than the abundance you could have.  Focus on what you do have, albeit so small, and be thankful for it, and you will find it will increase - maybe directly, or maybe indirectly, with the Universe putting you in the right place at the right time to create more of that good in your life.

So take away these three things:

  1. Stop focussing on things you do not want to have in your life.
  2. Be grateful for all the good things in your life, and express that gratitude
  3. Recognize that the Universe brings opportunities to you all the time to increase those good things in your life - look for those opportunities and be ready to seize them.

Do this and you will find that little by little you are using the Law of Attraction properly, and more and more good things will begin to appear in your life.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Saint Valentine

If you are reading this blog article on the day it was published, in many parts of the world today is Valentine's Day.  A day that celebrates romantic love.

The story behind St Valentine is shrouded in the mists of time.  There is even uncertainty about who this man was, with at least three different possible candidates.  But many believe he was a Roman Priest, cruelly executed in 269 AD by the emperor Claudius.  Those who believe this tell the following story about his "crime" and its link to romantic love.

Emperor Claudius issued an edict forbidding young people from marrying.  Why did he issue this edict?  Because he wanted all young people to be available to serve in his army, and he believed soldiers who were married and experienced true romantic love were much less likely to kill.  St Valentine believed that romantic love was a God-given emotion and that it was wrong to forbid young people to marry.  So he conducted weddings secretly, despite the edict expressly prohibiting this.  He was arrested for this "crime", and beaten, then stoned, and finally beheaded.  Before he died, he sent a note to the young lady he loved, the daughter of his jailor Asterius, and signed it "from your Valentine".

This is not the only story behind Valentine's Day, but to me it is the most powerful.  Is it true?  I really don't know, and nor does anyone else.  As I say, the story is lost in the mists of time and we can never be wholly certain which bits of it are true.  But it doesn't really matter.  Historical truth is important if you are trying to piece together exactly what happened and when, but the power of myths and legends does not rely on historical truth.  Their power is vested in the way they influence our beliefs and actions.

I truly believe that love reduces the capacity for violence.  Sometimes propaganda can distort our love for friends and family and make us believe that it is necessary to fight in a war in order to protect them.  But I believe, as did Claudius, that the overall effect of true love is to make it far more difficult for anyone to twist the way you think and feel and make you do anything designed to cause suffering.

Do you love anyone?  I really hope you do!  In fact, I hope you love everyone.  If you do, and you allow this love to influence you and determine the way you think and behave, this will have a very positive effect on you and on all around you.  This applies not only to romantic love, which is emphasized in the story of St Valentine, but also to a broader and more general love.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Epigenetics and Personal Development

When I studied biology at university in the 1970's there was a small but significant resurgence of belief by some geneticists in the theories of the French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck.  This biologist developed an evolutionary theory well before Charles Darwin wrote "On the Origin of Species".  Lamarck believed that every organism develops during their lifetime characteristics that are useful to them, and that they pass on those characteristics to their offspring.  Darwin agreed with the first premise, that all organisms develop useful characteristics, but fundamentally disagreed that those characteristics could be passed on.

Lamarckian evolution as originally stated by Lamarck is no longer regarded as scientifically correct.  However, the concept that we can pass on to our children characteristics developed during our lifetime IS an accepted scientific fact.  Rather than Lamarckian Genetics this is referred to as Transgenerational Epigenetics.

This is not a blog on biological science, so why am I referring to the ability to pass on developed characteristics to our children?  For one very important reason.  If you join with me in believing you can pass on your non-inherited characteristics to your children you will want to ensure you give them the best possible start by ensuring you have worked hard on your own personal development.

Some people seem to think that working on their own personal development is a selfish activity, especially if they are spending money on it - money which could be used in other ways to help their family.  I want to reassure you that this is never the case.  It is always a very good thing to develop all the positive characteristics you can in yourself - and now you know that if you try to remove anything that is negative and improve anything that is positive you will be giving any children you may have a better start in life.

This is not, of course, restricted to epigenetic transmission.  It is also environmental.  Your children will recognize the positive aspects of your character and this will help them to develop positively themselves.  So it applies to children you already have, not just those who will be born in the future.

But what if you are no longer of child-bearing age, and your children are fully grown and developed?  Even then, this is still an important thing to do.  Adult children respect their parents, even if they don't always show that respect, and they can still learn from you.  And you can extend this even further - by developing positive traits yourself you can influence those around you, family, friends, and colleagues, to consider working on their own personal development.  Never underestimate the power of personal development to change the world around you.

Finally, you should note that just as you can pass on traits to your children, environmentally and epigenetically, so too you will have received such traits from your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents.  Traits that may be hidden deep within.  Hopefully many of those traits will be positive, but not all will.  Some may have been appropriate many generations ago when they were first developed but are no longer so.  Use meditation, and other personal development techniques, to identify any traits within you that may no longer be helpful and to eliminate or modify them appropriately.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Unlocking Your Potential

Has anyone ever told you that you should unlock your potential?

It is very true - but what exactly does this mean?

If you are being encouraged to unlock your potential, then this must mean it is locked away somewhere.  Locked away - not simply sitting there unknown and unrecognized.

Think about that for a moment.  If you are like most people you probably believe that the potential within you is hidden away and just needs to be recognized in order to flower in all its beauty.  It is true that this is the case with some of your potential.  All of us have powers and abilities within us that we have never noticed.  Certainly we should do what we can to identify and develop those powers and abilities.

But unlocking potential is something rather different.  If it is locked away then clearly it is not something that has never been noticed.  It was once seen, and then locked so that we would no longer have free access to it.  But why?

There are two possible reasons for locking something away.  The first is because we believe it would be dangerous to leave it free and uncontrolled.  We have imprisoned it.  Probably with an "indeterminate sentence" - which means it cannot be released until we are convinced it will no longer be a danger to ourselves or others.  The second is almost the opposite.  We have locked it in a safe because it is so precious that we don't want anybody to steal it away from us.

In some cases both reasons apply, even though that seems illogical.  We are frightened of that potential.  We fear if we set it loose it will change us in ways that make us feel uncomfortable.  But at the same time we recognize it is very powerful and are afraid others will recognize this and take it away from us.

Most of us, if not all of us, have enormous potential that we have locked away for one or even both reasons.  And this is the potential which can change our lives beyond all recognition if only we are prepared to release it and let it do its work.  Don't be afraid of that change.  Allow those hidden powers and abilities within you to develop and you will indeed experience massive change, but it will be change for good.  For your good and for the good of those around you.  Don't be afraid that others will take it from you.  They cannot.  It is yours, and yours alone.  It can, and indeed should, be used to help others, but this is something that you yourself do with it, not that they take from you.

What potential have you locked away?  Don't say "none", as that is most definitely a lie.  I can guarantee there is something deep within you that you have locked away and that needs to be released so that your life and the lives of those around you can be improved dramatically.  When you say "none" what you are actually doing is guarding the key that will unlock your potential.  Stop guarding the key, and instead use it to unlock your hidden potential.  Decide right now that the "indeterminate sentence" has come to an end.  Decide right now that you will release your potential and let it do its powerful work in the world around you.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018


Do you have integrity?  Is it important to have integrity?  What does it mean anyway?

My dictionary gives two definitions of integrity:

  1.  Honesty and holding oneself to consistent moral and ethical standards
  2.  Being whole and undivided

Most people view these as two different and unconnected definitions, but to me they are inextricably linked.  The link words are "consistent" and "undivided".

Deep within you there is a moral compass.  For some people this may be the voice of God, or the Holy Spirit.  Others may not choose the "God" word, and may refer simply to the Spirit within.  Yet others may not see it as anything other than their own code of conduct.  But whatever you may choose to call it, wherever you may feel it comes from, this compass guides you through your life, telling you what is right and what is wrong.  Most of the time you are fully aware, consciously, of what is the right thing to do.  But sometimes it is not so clear and the signs your moral compass gives you are more important to follow.  One aspect of having integrity is being aware of the leadings of that moral compass and consistently following them.

Notice I said "deep within".  It is important to dig deep and make sure you are truly listening to the leadings of your moral compass.  Many of us think we have consistent, undivided standards, only to find if we look very carefully there is a conflict between them.  Search deep within and you will find a clear, consistent signal.  Learn to trust that signal.  It is never wrong.  Sometimes, though, the signal is clouded by all the noise between your deep centre and your conscious mind.  So the signal we receive gives us a different message from that which is intended.  This can lead to great tragedy.  It can make you do things that are very wrong, but that you do with conviction as you believe they are the right things to do.  This particularly happens when people decide to focus on what they truly want to get out of life.  The right signal initially arises, but as it travels through your unconscious and subconscious it can change and no longer read true.  Continuing the compass analogy, it is as though there are many different magnetic elements within you which can distort the reading.

How can you know whether or not you are receiving a pure, unclouded signal from your moral compass?  As with most things in life, with practice.  Take time regularly to sit quietly.  Think of nothing.  When thoughts appear, do not allow them to distract you; do not react by trying to get rid of them, but just ignore them.  There is a big part of you that will object to this and will try to stop you doing it.  The only way it can stop you is to create those distracting thoughts and hope you follow them.  Don't.  By sitting quietly and ignoring all distracting thoughts you are allowing the "magnetic noise" within you to disappear.  This will then allow the true moral compass deep within you to reveal itself.

It doesn't come, of course, as a "big reveal".  You probably won't hear trumpets and suddenly know exactly what you must do.  It doesn't normally work that way.  Most of the time you will feel nothing has happened.  You have simply sat there in silence.  But what HAS happened is that you have opened and cleared a channel.  The more often you do this, the clearer that channel will be.  And when you actually need the leading of that inner compass it will be much easier to receive the right signal.

But how important is it to have integrity?

It is vital.  If you don't have integrity you will never be as comfortable as you should be.  If you truly have integrity life will feel so much better.  You will feel fulfilled.  The reason you will feel this way is that you ARE fulfilled.  You are living life the way it is meant to be lived.

If you truly have integrity you will find others respect you more.  They may mock you at times, but deep within they will know they can trust you.  This means over time you will find opportunities arise that would never have arisen if you hadn't spent time searching for that inner compass and following its leadings.

If you have integrity you will find that you are in tune with the Universe.  What you truly, deep within, want to happen will begin to happen.  It simply has to, as what you want is also what the Universe wants, and nothing can be more powerful than that.

So think about this deeply and carefully.  Do you truly have integrity which guides you absolutely on your path through life?  Spend time in silence allowing proper communication with that moral compass within and you will become unstoppable and totally fulfilled.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Creating a New World

What kind of world do you want to live in?

Think about this seriously and carefully for a while.  Don't put any limitations or boundaries on your thinking.  Imagine you have an absolutely clean slate and can make the world around you exactly as you want it to be.

There may be something you regard as of vital importance.  If so, then certainly change this, but don't stop there.  Imagine the world with that one thing changed but then, keeping this new world in focus, move to the next thing you would like to change.  Work on this for a while and build up an inner picture of this lovely new world you are creating.

Quite probably you will have changed the physical environment around you, perhaps in ways that only seem possible if you are very wealthy.  But don't get stuck in thoughts about this environmental change to the detriment of everything else.  What about the people around you?  Would they be any different?  In what ways.  Be specific.

Imagine what life is like for you in this new world.  How does it make you feel?

Spend as much time as you like creating this lovely new world.  It feels good, doesn't it!  So spend time creating it and immersing yourself in it.  Get the most out of this experience.

There are a number of very powerful things you are doing when you use this exercise and create your new world.

  1. You are making yourself feel good.  There are plenty of things around that can make us feel bad if we allow them to do so.  By following this exercise you are countering those influences and allowing yourself to be happy.
  2. You are creating an inner picture of what you would like to achieve and what you would like the Universe to help you achieve.  Most of us do not spend enough time working out what we want to achieve.  If you don't have a clear vision of where you want to go, how can you expect to get there?
  3. You are sending out very powerful creative signals.  I happen to believe in an all-powerful creator, and perhaps you do too.  But I also believe the life force itself is creative.  Look around you and you will see signs everywhere of what you have created.  Some, perhaps most, will be good.  Some will be not so good.  But it has all been created by you.  Focus your creative energies on the right targets and you may be surprised by just how much change you can make in the world around you.
  4. You are telling the Universe what you want to achieve and what you want it to help you achieve.  This is similar to the third reason, but also goes beyond it.  With the power of the Universe behind you there is so much more you can create and change in your world.

You are recognizing, perhaps for the first time, what is important for you.  Once you recognize this then you simply have to go out and get it.

Probably one of the things you wanted to change was the way people around you treat you.  Is that the case?  Even if you didn't originally include this in your vision, now that I have raised this is there anything you would like to change about the way you are treated?  I am sure if you think deeply about this you will find many changes you would like to see.  Well I am now going to let you into a secret.  Creating this change is not difficult.  This change begins in you.  How do you want to be treated?  Well start treating others around you in exactly this way.  Some will not respond well at first, but don't give up.  Keep behaving in this way, doing unto others what you would have them do to you.

My Christian friends may have recognized a quote from the Bible here.  Matthew 7:12 - "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." 

In fact, the exercise we have just been practising is really summed up in the verses leading up to this.  Listen to what Jesus says in Matthew 7:7-12:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!  So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

I realize not all my readers are Christian, but this "Golden Rule" is not just a Christian belief.  Here is what, according to the Hadith, the Prophet Muhammed said on the subject:

The Prophet said: "As you would have people do to you, do to them; and what you dislike to be done to you, don't do to them."  Kitab al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 146

In the Talmud, Hillel the elder said "What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn." Shabbath folio:31a, Babylonian Talmud

For my Hindu friends - "One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own self. This, in brief, is the rule of dharma. Other behavior is due to selfish desires." Brihaspati, Mahabharata (Anusasana Parva, Section CXIII, Verse 8)

For my Buddhist friends - "One who, while himself seeking happiness, oppresses with violence other beings who also desire happiness, will not attain happiness hereafter." Dhammapada 10. Violence

In Sikh teaching - "Precious like jewels are the minds of all. To hurt them is not at all good. If thou desirest thy Beloved, then hurt thou not anyone's heart." Guru Arjan Dev Ji 259, Guru Granth Sahib

No matter what religion you follow, there is a version of this "Golden Rule" within it.  In most religions, as indicated in the above texts, it is one of the most important instructions to follow.  But also if you have no religion, if you even hate the idea of religion, the "Golden Rule" is still for you.  It is the underlying basis of Humanism, in which it is known as the ethic of reciprocity.

I recommend you make creating your new world a daily exercise.  Every day do the above visualization, and every day put the Golden Rule into practice.  Bit by bit you will see a whole new and better world unfolding around you.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

GIGO and Laughter

Have you ever heard the term "garbage in - garbage out"?  This is often expressed as the acronym "GIGO".  It is commonly used to remind people that no matter how clever a computer program may be, if you feed the wrong or inappropriate information in, then it will probably come up with the wrong or an inappropriate answer.  That is not because there is anything wrong with the computer, but because the person trying to use it is not using it properly.  Computers can be wonderful things, but you cannot expect them to read your mind and do what you hoped they would do if you don't give them the right instructions!  To a certain extent, what is called "fuzzy logic" can sometimes seem to work miracles in this way, but there are still limits and you still need to understand what it is you want the computer to do before you start giving it instructions.

You have probably read somewhere that your unconscious or subconscious mind is like a powerful computer.  I truly believe this.  Just like any other computer, it relies on having the right programming, and receiving the right instructions.  Program it correctly, give it the right instructions, and it can indeed perform miracles for you.  But always remember that, just like a computer, it is subject to GIGO.  You must program it correctly and you must give it the right instructions.

Sometimes it can be difficult to know how to program your subconscious, and what instructions to give it.  But just because it can be difficult you must not give up.  Don't think that you can just ignore it and not "bother" to give it instructions.  You are giving it instructions all the time, whether or not you intend to do so.  So it is vital you look carefully at the instructions you are giving it and ensure you are not setting yourself up for massive failures.

One deliberate way of instructing your subconscious is by using what are called "affirmations".  Statements that show it what you want to achieve and that are expressed in a very positive way in order to use your subconscious to help you reach your goals.  You will find plenty of material online teaching you how to create affirmations properly, including articles in my own blog (check the label "affirmation"), so I am not going to repeat this here.  Any time you spend researching this will be time well spent.

But what I want to remind you is that whether or not you consciously create affirmations you are still giving your subconscious instructions all the time.  If you DO create an affirmation, but then continually give the opposite instruction to your subconscious you really should not expect that affirmation to have much, if any, effect.  In fact, I would suggest that the main reason so many people complain that affirmations don't work is not necessarily because they are not using them properly (although that can also be the case), but because they are constantly countermanding those affirmations.

A lot comes down to how you feel all the time.  Feel happy, and you will be sending a message to your subconscious that you WANT to be happy.  OK, I know it is a bit of a vicious circle.  Sometimes it can be quite difficult to maintain positive emotions.  But the vicious circle works in both directions.  Prime it in the right direction and it reinforces itself, making it easier and easier to maintain the positive emotion.

I have said this in previous articles, but I make no apology for repeating it here: adopt the right posture to go with the positive emotion and you will find it a lot easier to feel that emotion.  Do the things you would normally do when you had that emotion.  The more you act as though you are feeling that way, the more you WILL feel that way.

Many years ago I studied Aikido in the "Hombu Dojo", or world Aikido headquarters in Tokyo.  One of my teachers was a shinto priest.  He started every session by making us laugh.  I don't mean he did or said something funny.  Nor did he tell us to think of something funny.  He completely bypassed all of that and told us simply to make the noise of laughter.  We had to feel that laughter arising in the solar plexus and then radiating up the centerline of our bodies, erupting from our mouths as the sound we call laughter.  Let me tell you, it worked!  Soon we were all really laughing, not just making the sound.  At that point he stopped us and the lesson began.  It made a huge difference to the way we internalized the lessons he taught us and how positive we felt about those lessons.  It also set us up for a happier and more productive day.

You don't need a shinto priest or an Aikido instructor to tell you to do this.  Just know that you CAN do it.  Try it for yourself - preferably when you are alone, unless you want to get a rather odd reputation!  I can assure you it really does work.  And once you realize what a difference a simple action like this can make to your state of mind, your emotions, and your spirit, you will realize just how easy it can be to create positive emotions within you if you are only willing to try.  Create those positive emotions, and allow them to influence the workings of your inner computer, your subconscious mind, and you will find your life will soon begin to feel better!

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

History Does Not Exist

"If only I could start over!"

Have you ever wished you could have a new start?  Have you ever said to yourself "if I could start over I know I would do far better"?

Most people I ask agree that they have said this to themselves.  Some confirm that they regularly say it.

Take a good look at your life right now, and find something in your life where you wish you could say this.  Perhaps your relationship with your partner?  Your own business?  Your career?

If you could start again, what would you do differently?  How much difference would that make to where you are now?  Would your business be so much more profitable?  Would you have been promoted and now have a much better position with a much bigger salary?  Would you have a much stronger and more meaningful relationship?  Would you be so much happier?

Now I am going to let you in on a secret.  You CAN start again!  What is stopping you?

50 years ago I read a book by the American anthropologist Carlos Castaneda, in which Castaneda outlined the shamanistic training he received from a Yaqui sorceror, Don Juan.  At the time I found this book quite challenging, but also fascinating and eye-opening.  But one statement the sorceror made puzzled me.  He told Castaneda that if he wanted to become a true sorceror he had to erase his history.  In fact, he had to recognize that his history did not exist.

I found this concept troubling.  I imagined forgetting all my friends and family, and felt this was not something I would wish to do.  I imagined wiping out everything I had achieved so far in my life, and realized I was not ready to do this even if it did mean I could never become a sorceror like Don Juan.

But what I didn't realize at the time was that "erasing history" was a very powerful tool I could use in order to achieve better and greater things.  A tool that would allow me to start again in any endeavour or relationship and turn it into something much closer to my dream.

Look again at what you said earlier you would do differently if you could start again.  It may not be possible to do all of it, as your starting point is now different.  But if you look carefully there WILL be some things that you CAN now do differently and that will improve your situation.

Yes, you probably have what we call "baggage".  Some of this you wouldn't want to change.  It may seem to be in the way of one of your life goals, but at the same time it is something you want in your life.  If so, then you certainly don't want to erase it and start again.  Although you should be aware that it IS possible to erase it, no matter how challenging that may seem.

Have you ever read "Pilgrim's Progress" by John Bunyan?  It may have been written 340 years ago, but it has some eternal truths which can help you along your journey through life.  One of those truths is the main underlying concept of the novel - that each of us is carrying a burden which is stopping us achieve what we should be able to achieve.  The hero of the story, Christian, carries this burden for many miles and finds it is weighing him down and making his journey more and more difficult.  But when he reaches the "place of deliverance" the straps, which are holding the burden to his back, break and Christian finds himself completely free of his burden.

Bunyan wrote this as an allegory of the sins that weigh each of us down and which we can cast away when we accept salvation.  I don't want to trivialize something that means so much to committed Christians, but I believe this allegory can apply to far more than what Christians refer to as salvation.  We all carry burdens which stop us achieving what we want to achieve, but never stop to wonder why we continue to carry them.  These burdens are our history.  And what I learned from Carlos Castaneda is that we don't have to keep carrying those burdens unless we want to do so.

Recognize that your history cannot stop you achieving what you wish to achieve unless you allow it to do so.  Know that you CAN start over.  That every day is a new day with enormous potential if only you are prepared to take advantage of that potential.  Whatever it is that you want to do differently, just do it!  At first it may seem strange.  You may find resistance from unexpected quarters.  But keep on going in this new direction and don't allow your history to stand in your way!

If you would like to obtain a copy of "Pilgrim's Progress", just click here.

For an edition in the UK, click here.

To obtain a copy of Carlos Castaneda's first book, click here.

For an edition in the UK, click here.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017


Recently I saw a dance performance by a 3-year-old boy on "China's Got Talent".  When asked why he danced he said he did it because it made people laugh, and that people who laugh are happy.  So he wanted to keep dancing so he could keep making people happy.

There are a number of lessons in this for all of us.  Yes, no matter our age we can learn lessons from a 3-year-old.

The first lesson is the link between laughter and happiness.  This is very important.  Of course, whatever makes us laugh can of itself give us happiness.  I was certainly happy watching that little boy, and not simply because I was laughing.  But the act of laughing or smiling itself makes us happy, even if there is nothing there that should be making us laugh.  Even forced laughter makes us happy.  It may seem false to laugh when there is nothing to laugh about, and we may initially just be forcing laughter we don't actually feel, but keep forcing that laugh and you will find  it creates a significant mood change anyway.

Just in case you don't believe me, I want you to try an experiment.  Start laughing right now.  It doesn't matter that nothing funny is happening.  Laugh anyway.  Don't say "I can't laugh unless there is something funny".  Just open your mouth and make the sound.  Don't worry that it doesn't sound quite right, just keep doing it.  Soon you will find it turns into natural laughter - even if that is only because you are laughing at your silly attempts to laugh!  Now that you have done that, how do you feel?  Miserable?  I think not!  You will find you feel happier than you felt before.  This works particularly well when you are miserable, as there is a very clear contrast.

This is a very important lesson.  If you want to change your mood, simply change it by doing whatever is associated with the mood you want.  That association will attract the mood.  Most people think they only laugh because they are amused, but what they don't realize is that it also works the other way around.  They can become amused simply by laughing.

Laughing is very infectious.  In her poem "Solitude", Ella Wheeler Wilcox said "Laugh, and the world laughs with you", and how true this is!  The little Chinese boy understood that if he could get some people to laugh they would be happy, and also that this happiness would spread as more and more people laughed.

This means it is really very easy to create happiness in the world, to make people around you happier than they were.  Laugh.  And do things to make others laugh.  That little boy knew this, and at only three years old he was putting this in practice.

I like to laugh and smile whenever I can, and to help those around me laugh and smile too.  I know this is the way to make this world a better place.  Every day I make at least one person happier by laughing or smiling is a day well worth living, a day when I have added something good to this world.  And it is so easy to do.  So much easier than all the wonderful ideas so many people have about making the world a better place; ideas that may be great ideas but that are very difficult to realize, consistently, day after day.  Just laugh and smile!

And to me that is perhaps the biggest lesson this lovely Chinese boy has imparted to us.  That it is our role in life to make people happy.  Be happy yourself and help to make those around you happier.  Do this, and you will know that each day you really are making the world a better place, that the world really is a better place simply because you are there doing what you do.  Wouldn't that be a lovely epitaph to have when you eventually passed away?  "He made the world a better place!"  "She made the world a better place!"  Well, this really can be your epitaph.  You don't have to do anything spectacular to earn this epitaph.  Simply make sure that each day you do what you can to make those around you happier.  Do this by trying to laugh and smile as much as you can.

I shall end this little lesson by quoting the entire poem "Solitude".  Read it and take it to heart:

   Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
   Weep, and you weep alone;
   For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
   But has trouble enough of its own.
   Sing, and the hills will answer;
   Sigh, it is lost on the air;
   The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
   But shrink from voicing care.

   Rejoice, and men will seek you;
   Grieve, and they turn and go;
   They want full measure of all your pleasure,
   But they do not need your woe.
   Be glad, and your friends are many;
   Be sad, and you lose them all,—
   There are none to decline your nectared wine,
   But alone you must drink life’s gall.

   Feast, and your halls are crowded;
   Fast, and the world goes by.
   Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
   But no man can help you die.
   There is room in the halls of pleasure
   For a large and lordly train,
   But one by one we must all file on
   Through the narrow aisles of pain.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017


How important are parables in determining the way you view life?

I would say very important.  It is no coincidence that Jesus chose to pass on his wisdom by telling stories that were not actually intended to be historical truth.  He did so because he knew that the deeper truth embedded in those stories would have a lot more impact and be recognized and understood better that way.

I am sure you have heard the saying "a picture is worth a thousand words".  Some things can be understood quite easily, but not easily put into words.  This is particularly true of many aspects of personal development, whether spiritual or otherwise.

Using parables is a great way of getting your message across.  If you really want to change the way others think and feel, use parables.  Even more important, if you want to change the way YOU think and feel, use parables.  Whether or not you are a Christian, read or re-read some of the parables in the New Testament - they are very powerful and the underlying messages are certainly very important.

A friend of mine regularly uses parables to change the thinking of those around him, and they usually don't even realize that is what he is doing.  He does it when he needs to get across something that his listeners would regard as a criticism and would probably react by trying to justify themselves rather than taking in the fact that they have done something wrong.  His usual method of doing this is to tell a story of either something he did or something someone he knew did, and the negative consequences that arose because they did it.  As his listener doesn't believe the comment is about themselves they don't feel the need to resist and justify, and instead actually take in those negative consequences.  The next time they are tempted to say or do the same thing, subconsciously they will recall the parable and may then think twice.  This is a very powerful technique.  You may feel it is dishonest, but I don't.  I think it is far better to bend the truth a little (sorry to my fellow Quakers - no real dishonesty intended here!) in order to ensure no offence is given but that the inner meaning is properly absorbed.  Jesus thought so too.

Try it!  Use it to spread a little more morality and create a better world around you.  Use it to take in some inner truths yourself.  There are plenty of online examples.  The next time you see a lovely story online, don't immediately go to "Snopes" or some other myth-buster site to find out whether or not it is historically true, as the historical truth doesn't matter.  By all means check out the historical truth before posting it yourself, and maybe include a comment that this is not intended to be a true story but that you found it very touching.  But don't focus on whether or not it is the truth in the historical sense - the deep inner meaning IS true if it inspires you and others to become better and do better things in what can often seem a very mediocre world.

Whatever your religion, go back to your holy book(s) and recognize that probably most of what is written there is in the form of parables.  It doesn't matter whether or not it is historically true.  That is really not the point at all.  What matters is whether or not the underlying message is good or bad - and usually you will find it is good.  Read the holy books of other religions in the same way.  Do this even if you are not at all religious.  You will not be "getting religion" - just allowing some hidden wisdom to help you become a better person and create a better world around you.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Who Knows Best?

Have you ever found you wanted something so badly, maybe prayed for it, used "manifesting" techniques, used "affirmations", used all sorts of other techniques you have learned, and it simply didn't materialize?  Be honest!  If you are truly honest I can guarantee that either you never really want anything so strongly or you WILL have experienced this.

Is it because prayers don't work?  Certainly not - they DO.  Is it because "manifestation techniques" don't work?  Not at all.  They do too.

So why is it that this sometimes (perhaps often) happens to all of us?

Well, one reason can be, of course, that you are not doing it right.

I find, for example, that praying for something I want is never a good idea.  I do pray regularly, but not with a kind of "Santa wish list".  It would feel wrong to me and clash with my deep inner beliefs to do this.  That does not mean it is not right for you.  If you do it in the right way, and it doesn't feel wrong to you at all, then it most certainly can work wonders.  But my own inner beliefs would tell me that God is not there at my beck and call to give me the things and experiences I think I want.  It doesn't really matter whether or not those inner beliefs are correct.  All that matters is that I have them, and that is enough to ensure any attempt by me to pray for what I want is unlikely to produce the results I expect.

When it comes to using affirmations and other manifestation techniques it is, of course, important to get them right.  If you don't, they won't work.  And the very first step in getting any of them right is for you to have the right desires and the right attitude.  I have covered off "right desires" in other blog articles, but in essence I mean digging down to your inner core and making sure what you desire is not in conflict with your deep-seated inner beliefs, your spiritual values.  If it is, then the exercise is doomed to failure.  As for the right attitude, again I have covered this elsewhere, but in particular you should maintain an attitude that properly reflects the abundance of the universe.  Don't be fooled by the tendency of most people to believe in "limited good".  Recognize that there is not a limited supply of whatever you want but rather an abundant supply.  Know that you are not taking anything away from anyone else when you gain whatever it is you want.  This change in attitude is vital.  Without it, you will find it is very difficult if not impossible to use any manifestation techniques.  Also, never focus on the lack.  If you want something "badly", you are probably already moving in the wrong direction.  Even that word, "badly", is a negative.  Never focus on negatives, only positives.

But often I find that even though I am doing everything right I still don't get what it is that I think I want.  And I am sure that is the case for you too.


Because sometimes what I want is not really the right thing for me at that time.  It is not in conflict with my inner beliefs or values.  There is nothing wrong with it.  But it is simply not the right thing for me at this time.  God, or the Universe, or whatever label you want to use, knows best.  He/she/it knows there is something even better for me at this time, and that is what is delivered instead.  Over the years I have come to recognize that very often it is not me who knows best what I really want or need.  God knows best.  The Universe knows best.  I have learned to trust implicitly in this and so I am just as happy when I DON'T get what I have asked for as when I DO.  Learn to recognize and trust in this too, and you will have a much happier life.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Hurdles and Obstacles

What obstacles have you identified which are preventing you from achieving what you want to achieve in life?  Are there any such obstacles?

I assume there are, as otherwise you would have achieved your dreams wouldn't you?

Some people may answer this by saying "I don't really have any dreams".  If this is you, then you are kidding yourself.  Somewhere within you, maybe deep within, there is a dream waiting to be released, waiting for you to see it and fill it with emotion.  The obstacle in this case is your failure to recognize you even have a dream.

Many will say something like "dreams are only for dreamers, and I am no dreamer!"  They say this with pride.  As though the rest of us who do have dreams are to be pitied or are perhaps idlers and fantasists.  I say the same to these people - deep within you there is a dream waiting to be released, waiting for you to see it and fill it with emotion.  The obstacle in this case is your failure to recognize you even have a dream.  Probably because you are too frightened to admit that you might have one.  You are afraid if you admit this to yourself you will only fail to achieve your dream and then this will make you unhappy.  Does that sound familiar?

And most of the rest do have dreams they want to achieve, but have pulled up at the first obstacle.  That is a bit like a hurdler running along the straight and then pulling up at the first hurdle and saying "I cannot go any further because there is a hurdle in the way!"  Yes, there is!  And the idea is to jump over that hurdle, not simply stand there looking at it and wishing it wasn't there.  Wishing it wasn't there won't make it go away!  So if you just stand there miserably looking at the hurdle you will never make any progress towards the finish line for your dream!

How can you jump over the hurdles that are bound to be there on the road towards your dream?  How can you pass around the obstacles you are bound to confront?

The answers are actually in the questions.  Jump over the hurdles.  Pass around the obstacles.  Really, it is as simple as that!  When you start to do this you will find many of the hurdles are really not very high.  They just look it because they react to your initial fear or despair by appearing to grow to an impossible size.

Your obstacle, your hurdle, is Oscar Zoroaster.  Who is that? you probably ask.  Oscar Zoroaster, the conman from Omaha, Nebraska who took the name "Oz" and ruled the kingdom of Oz by pretending he was far more powerful than he really was.

Be like Dorothy and her friends and challenge your obstacle, your hurdle, your Wizard of Oz.  Challenge it and usually, just like the Wizard in that immortal story, it will shrink away and you can continue on the the yellow brick road to reach your dream!