One of the current “hot topics” that is getting a lot of attention these days, including among those on the spiritual path, it the subject of manifestation. Generally speaking, manifestation is a technique for attracting into your life the things that you really want. This could be anything from making more money to switching to a more rewarding career to finding one’s soulmate. In short: with manifestation, the sky is literally the limit. So the question on everyone’s mind seems to be: “What is the “secret” to successfully manifesting what you want?” But the question that I don’t hear being asked is: “From a spiritual perspective, is manifestation a useful tool for spiritual growth and progress?”
The Cause of Suffering
Centuries ago, Buddha taught that attachment to (i.e. desire of) anything leads to suffering. Since all things of the material world are impermanent, any happiness we achieve from such things must also be temporary at best. Money is gained, then lost. People get married, then divorced. Careers go up, and then they go down. Even life itself is temporary: we are born, and then we die.
Keeping this in mind, it must be realized that there are inherent “dangers” in using manifestation to make changes to our current conditions. First of all, this infers that there is something missing in our lives that we need to acquire in order for us to be happy. Secondly, the implication is that once we manifest what we desire, our lives will then be happy.
The Road To Nowhere
The reason that manifestation falls under the umbrella of “spiritual practices” is because the steps for manifestation often include the reprogramming of our negative belief systems. These negative beliefs, which we are generally not consciously aware of, tell us that we are not good enough, not smart enough, and not worthy enough to be blessed with the abundance that life has to offer. And since these negative beliefs are “stored” at the soul level, the process of reprogramming them is spiritual in nature.
Generally speaking, we have much to gain from replacing negative belief systems with positive ones. Negative belief systems directly lead to psychological disorders such as low self-esteem, depression, and self-victimization. Until the negative beliefs are recognized and replaced, we cannot escape from the negative life patterns they produce, no matter how much willpower is exerted.
Replacing negative belief systems with positive ones is therefore a very important step on one’s spiritual journey. But the keyword here is “spiritual”. If we are using manifestation for material gain, then we are using a spiritual practice for one’s “material journey”. And since all material gain is temporary (whether “manifested” or otherwise), choosing to actively manifest our material desires ultimately leads us nowhere.
Seek First the Kingdom of God
The impermanence of the material world leads to an important question: how then are we to find happiness in this world? Or at the very least: how are we to find peace? This question was directly answer by Jesus Christ when he said “Seek first the kingdom of heaven, and all things will be added unto you.” What Christ was saying is that if we seek God as our top (and only) priority, everything else will be provided for us.
We Already Have Everything
Every soul incarnated on earth has a body, but is not the body. We are not our egos (i.e. our minds or our thoughts). And we are not our emotions. We are souls. As souls, we are individual extensions of God. We are already everything, which means that we already have everything.
When our egos experience a lack of money, poor health, violence, or conflict, it is because they are looking at individual parts of the whole and perceive these parts as separate. But God cannot be separated; He is a part of everything and He is everything. Lack of anything is not reality; it is an illusion based on identifying with a part of God and believing that it is somehow a separate entity. From the perspective of God, nothing is separate. From the perspective of the ego, everything is separate.
God is the creator, and everything He created is already perfect the way it is. When we attempt to manifest (i.e. ask God for) money or health or anything else of the material world, we are suggesting that God is not perfect (until something is changed). And this simply isn’t so. If we do not recognize perfection of God, it is because we are looking at the world through the wrong lens (i.e. the perspective of the ego). To correct this misperception, we need to look through the right lens, which can only be accomplished by seeking God.
Seeking God is far from being an easy task. For many, it may well be a lifelong journey. However, the alternative is endless suffering, and the reward for seeking God is that “all things will be added unto you”. Therefore, while it isn’t necessary to seek God, it is in fact the logical choice.
According to the spiritual healer Joel S. Goldsmith, the “shortcut” to finding God is to abandon all other desires except for the desire to find God. Practically speaking, eliminating all desire is not something that can be done easily and quickly. A lot of patience, discipline, and determination will be necessary. But perhaps the main trick for dropping desire is to keep in mind that “you” already have everything, so there is actually no reason for desire.
When I say “you”, I mean the real you. From the ego’s perspective, you don’t have everything you want. But the ego is tricky because it has made you believe that you are the ego. You aren’t. So it is not you that is lacking something, it is the ego. Which means it is not you that desires something, it is the ego. Therefore, whenever “you” have a desire for something, you can think to yourself: “Oh, that’s not me: it’s the ego who wants this. I (as a part of God) already have everything.”
While you are training yourself to dis-identify with the ego, you also want to start building a relationship with God. This can be done via prayer and meditation, but these two terms are extremely general and mean various things to various people and religious groups. I personally recommend using a specific type of prayer or meditation which I will call “contemplation”.
Contemplation in this sense means having conversations with God in order to establish a relationship with Him. Talk with God regularly. Review your day with Him every night before going to bed. Express your gratitude for all your blessings when you wake up in the morning. Ask him questions about the meaning of sacred texts and see what answer pops into your head. Ask Him to view a difficult situation from His point of view.
A second way that will help you seek God is to see God and his goodness in everything that is. For example, as you drive to work, think about how everything you see is God’s creation and enjoy the beauty of it. When you talk with someone, realize that this person is God talking to you. See God in everything that your gaze falls upon, and recognize the goodness of God in everything that you do.
After a period of time, you may start to realize that you aren’t just talking to God: He is also communicating with you. It may not be in words; it may just be a feeling. Or an idea. But you will start to realize that God is guiding your spiritual journey.
Note that even though you are now being guided, the path you are following may not necessarily be an easy one. There will be challenges, and a lot of effort might be necessary for positive results. And even still, success is not guaranteed. It is in these moments that manifestation becomes useful. What you are actually doing with “spiritual manifestation” is you are asking for everything to come into alignment so that the will of God happens in the way you are inspired to carry it out. I.e., you are using a spiritual tool to achieve a spiritual purpose.
Sure, none of this sounds easy, but life isn’t about being easy. Life is about facing challenges, and then enjoying the rewards that come from overcoming those challenges. Life is ultimately about experiencing joy, which is accomplished by seeking and then serving the will of God.
- Joel S. Goldsmith. The Art of Meditation. HarperCollins. 1956.
- Joshua David Stone: Soul Psychology: How to Clear Negative Emotions and Spiritualize Your Life. Wellspring/Ballentine. 1999.
- A Course In Miracles. Foundation for Inner Peace. 3rd Ed. 2007.