Conversations With God
Neale Donald Walsch
Neale Donald Walsch was in the habit of writing down his thoughts in the form of letters, and during a very difficult period of his life he drafted a particularly angry letter to God. He demanded to know: why was his life always a struggle? Why did his relationships always fail? Why did he never have enough money?
Then something remarkable happened: he felt his pen move almost with a will of its own, and answers started to flow. He began to have, he says, a 'conversation with God', one question following another until there was enough material to fill a book. The book in manuscript form had a powerful effect on people, and when published became a bestseller.
It is easy to be skeptical about the Conversations With God series (this commentary relates to Book One). Are these actually God's thoughts channeled through a man, or a brilliant synthesis of all the author has learned in his spiritual searching? Even if you believe the latter, it will be difficult to deny the profound and radical nature of some of the answers offered. For example, Walsch wonders why God hasn't before provided definite guidance for life as a human being. God rejoinders that he has, but most people are not willing to listen, and one reason is that we don't want to hear what to us seems wrong: "Go ahead and act on all that you know. But notice that you've all been doing that since time began. And look at the shape the world is in."
Particularly when it moves through the deeper issues about the human soul, its connection to God and the concept of free will, the book can inspire reflection and even awe in the reader. The question-and-answer sessions range over subjects diverse as war, sex, reincarnation, relationships and the body; here we focus on the themes of life as creation, personal power and abundance.
Waking up to our power
Most people think of life as a series of tests, or a process of discovery. In Conversations With God, the point is made over and over that life is, in fact, about creation. God is above all a Creator, and as expressions of God it is our job to spend life creating, not by living unconsciously according to other people's rules or, indeed, the expectations of conventional religion.
When Walsch asks in desperation, "When will my life 'take off'?" God replies that it will do so when he becomes crystal clear what it is that he wants to be, do and have. Whether consciously or not, we all live according to the creation formula of thought followed by word followed by action, never realizing exactly how much idle thoughts create our world. With fuzzy or incorrect thinking, we are not ever likely to rise above mediocrity. God, of course, is less concerned with our worldly achievements than with our state of being, but it is logical that optimal states of being lead effortlessly to excellent doing, to results. The more fully we are ourselves, i.e. clear about what we stand for and what we choose to create, the more authentic and lasting our success will be.
The certainty of greatness
"And the Lord said, 'Behold, the people are one, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.'" Genesis 11:6
Walsch's question, "When will my life 'take off'?" is one most of us have asked. God expands on the answer by plainly stating that it will do so when Walsch decides that it will. What seems to humans like shooting too high, from the Almighty's point of view is expected. You have to assume your power to create in the manner that God does, to have a much larger conception of yourself: ".you choose constantly the lesser thought, the smaller idea, the tiniest concept of yourself and your power, to say nothing of Me and Mine." God, it turns out, is not the fearful master demanding obedience, but has implanted in us the idea of 'thinking big'. God wants us to recognize that we are divinity in material form, already perfect, already wonderful. By accepting our greatness, we eliminate the struggle of life stemming from internal debate about whether we 'deserve' this or that.
God's promises to man seem too good to be true, but only too good for our limited conception; if we were to expand our appreciation of what we and God are capable of, all of the pronouncements in our religious texts begin to ring true.
Agreeing to co-create
In Conversations With God, we are told that the relationship between God and us is not one of master and servant, but of equals engaged in creating the world. There are well-established laws in the universe that, if followed, will give a person exactly what they choose. We follow these laws or resist them, but we can't ignore them, for by them the universe is run. One of God's laws is that whatever a person asks for, they will receive ("ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find"); our task, in return, is to understand how this process actually works.
In our traditional relationship with God, Walsch learns, we pray for things and hope that our requests will be granted. Yet praying, hoping, bending down, supplicating, are these consistent with a co-creating partnership? He has an 'aha' moment when he discovers why he usually doesn't get what he prays for: his requests and wishes are a statement to the universe of what he lacks, and since our reality reflects back to us perfectly our state of mind, the actual conditions he finds himself in are somewhat lacking.
Praying for something, therefore, often has its opposite effect: it pushes it away from us. A supplicating prayer suggests a weak relationship with God, so the results will be correspondingly weak and small. The way to manifest things is to give thanks that they already exist, whether yet in material form or not. God, or the universe, rewards those who are thankful for the ease with which anything can be produced; if we recognize divine power, it is suddenly more accessible to us. When choosing to have something, God tells Walsch, the Master (the advanced human being) " knows in advance that the deed has been done."
From a traditional Christian perspective which values sacrifice and long-suffering, the messages in the book may seem very selfish. Walsch's God commands us to think, above all, of our own personal development in our journey through life. Traditional religions put God up there and us down here, but this book says, we can be co-creating partners, equals.
This may seem like a blasphemous concept, but try to have an open mind. If nothing else, you can experience the author's thrill at the chance to bypass prayer and commune directly with a voice he believes to be the Creator. The series has become a new Bible for many people because the language is so direct and there are many references to contemporary life. While the parable and the myth were once the best way to communicate spiritual ideas, Conversations With God caters to our modern liking for the 'Q&A' and 'Frequently Asked Questions'. While this can take some of the mystery out of our relationship with God, it also breaks us free of the belief that spiritual intelligence only comes from saintly self-sacrifice or knowledge of the mystical.
Source: Tom Butler-Bowdon 50 Spiritual Classics: 50 Great Books of Inner Discovery, Enlightenment and Purpose (London & Boston: Nicholas Brealey)
"You are in a partnership with God. We share an eternal covenant. My promise to you is to always give you what you ask. Your promise is to ask; to understand the process of the asking and the answering."
Neale Donald Walsch
Walsch grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in a Roman Catholic background but his mother encouraged him to be a theological free thinker. After high school he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin, but dropped out after two years to pursue a career in radio. He became a radio station director, then a newspaper reporter and then a public information officer for public schools. Walsch moved to the West Coast where he formed his own PR and marketing firm, but could never settle down professionally. In his private life he married and divorced four times.
Things got worse before they got better. His neck was broken in a car accident, and the ensuing rehabilitation cost him his job. He found himself homeless and had to claw his way back into full-time work. In 1992, at the age of 49, Walsch began to write down Conversations With God: Book One.
Book One spent two and half years on the New York Times bestseller list, and the Conversations With God series has been translated into 27 languages. Other books include The New Revelations, When Everything Changes, Change Everything, and Home with God: In a Life That Never Ends.