Cause-Effect vs. Intention-Manifestation

Cause-Effect vs. Intention-Manifestation

by Steve Pavlina

One of the key models for goal achievement is that of cause and effect. This model says that your goal is an effect to be achieved, and your task is to identify and then create the cause that will produce the desired effect, thereby achieving your goal.

Sounds simple enough, right?

However, the main problem with this model is that nearly everyone seriously misunderstands it. And that misunderstanding comes from not knowing what a “cause” really is.

You might assume that the cause of an effect would be a series of physical and mental actions leading up to that effect. Action-reaction. If your goal is to make dinner, then you might think the cause would be the series of preparation steps.

To an outside observer, that certainly appears to be the case. The scientific method would suggest that this is how things work, based on a purely objective observation.

However, within your own consciousness, you know that the series of action steps is not the real cause. The actions are themselves an effect, aren’t they?

What’s the real cause? The real cause is the decision you made to create that effect in the first place. That’s the moment you said to yourself, “Let it be” or “make it so.” At some point you decided to make dinner. That decision may have been subconscious, but it was still a decision. Without that decision the dinner would never manifest. That decision ultimately caused the whole series of actions and finally the manifestation of your dinner.

Where does that decision arise from? It might arise from your subconscious, or in the case of conscious decisions, it arises from your consciousness. Ultimately your consciousness is the greater power, as it can override subconscious choices once it becomes aware of them.

Missing this very simple distinction has contributed to quite a number of failed goals.

If you want to achieve a goal you’ve set, the most crucial part is to DECIDE to manifest it. It doesn’t matter if you feel it’s outside your control to do so. It doesn’t matter if you can’t yet see how you’ll get from A to B. Most of those resources will come online AFTER you’ve made the decision, not before.

If you don’t understand this simple step, then you will waste a lot of time. Step 1 is to decide. Not to ruminate or to ponder or to ask around and see whether or not you can do it. If you want to start your own business, then decide to make it so. If you want to be married and have a family, then decide to attract a mate. If you want to change careers, then decide to do so.

It blows my mind that people think that something else has to come before the decision. People waste months trying to figure out, “Is this goal possible?” And this makes a lot of sense to do so if you’re at a certain level of consciousness. But all you’re really doing is creating delay, and you’ll simply manifest evidence to suggest that the goal is both possible and not possible. You think doubt in your head, you find doubt in the world.

Time and again I’ve seen evidence that not only people, but the universe itself, can sense a lack of commitment to a goal. Have you ever heard someone tell you about a goal of theirs, and you can just sense how wishy-washy and uncertain they are about it? They say things like, “Well, I’m going to try this and see how it goes. Hopefully it will work out OK.” Is that evidence that a clear decision has been made? Not remotely. Are you going to help this person? Probably not — who wants to waste their time on someone who isn’t committed?

But what happens when you sense total certainty in the other person? Will you help them if they ask for it? You’re far more likely to help a committed person because you can tell they’re eventually going to succeed anyway, and you want to be part of that success. You even feel more energized and motivated yourself to contribute to the success of people who are very clearly committed to a goal that resonates with you and which is genuinely for the greatest good of all.

Don’t you think this process works the same way within your own mind? If your consciousness is divided against itself, do you think it will commit all its internal resources to your goal? Will your subconscious give you all the energy and creativity it possibly could, or will it hold back? Think of your subconscious mind as a multi-tasking computer processor. What percentage of resources will it devote to a task that you’ve told it to execute with the words, “Run this for a little bit and see if it works, but quickly dump it if it seems too difficult”? Now what if you gave that CPU a process labeled, “Run this now”?

The universe itself works on the same principle. Think of it as the superconscious mind. When you’ve made a clear, committed decision, it will open the universal floodgates, bringing you all the resources you need, sometimes in seemingly mysterious or impossible ways.

Whenever you want to set a new goal for yourself, start by setting it. Take the time to become clear about what you want, but then just declare it.

Say to the universe, “Here is the goal. Make it so.”

Do not ask the universe for what you want. Declare it. Don’t ask. This is very similar to prayer, but you are not praying FOR what you want. You are praying WHAT you want. You are simply saying, “Here it is. Make it so.” It is like planting a seed in the ground. You do not say to the ground, “Here is the seed. Please, can you make it grow?” You simply plant the seed, and it will grow as a natural consequence of your planting and tending to it. It is the same with your intentions. Simply plant them. There’s no need to beg.

Intend that your goal manifest in such a manner that is for the greatest good of all. This is very important, as intentions that are created out of fear or a sense of lack will backfire. You may get what you want, but it will yield a bitter aftertaste. Or you may get the exact opposite of what you want. But intentions that are genuinely made for your own good and the greatest good of all will tend to manifest in a positive way.

After I declare my intention, I wait for the resources and synchronicities to arrive. Usually they begin to manifest in 24-48 hours, sometimes sooner. Sometimes these synchronicities appear to be the result of subconscious action. I just happen to notice things that may have been there all along, but now I see them in a new light, and they become resources for me that I never noticed until after I declared my intention. But many times it’s nearly impossible to explain such synchronicities as the result of my own subconscious action, even if I step back and try to look at them purely objectively. Sometimes they come in such unusual avalanches that I can only explain them as the result of superconscious action. On some level the universe itself is aware of my intention and is doing its part to help manifest it. I also find that the more inviting I am of these synchronicities, the more easily they flow. Right now I typically experience about 10 per week on average, and I think that’s because I have many different intentions in the process of manifesting, so there’s a constant flow of resources coming to me.

The mental and physical planning and action steps come later. That’s how I organize the resources that have arrived. Once enough resources have come to me, I can begin to see how they all fit together to achieve the goal. But if the path seems too complicated or difficult and I don’t like what I see, I put out some new intentions to make it the way I want it to be. I declare, “Let it be simpler.” I again wait for the synchronicities to arrive, and a simpler approach becomes clear. Usually for an approach to be simpler, it means I have to get past some personal block within me. I have to grow on some level in order to be able to take advantage of a simpler solution. Or perhaps I have to learn a new skill first. So while it might be simpler, it might also be harder on a personal level. For example, by putting out the intention to do more to help people, I had to develop my communication skills. That makes the goal easier to achieve, but it’s more work up front.

It took me a number of years to be able to trust this approach before I could begin to use it as my default manner of goal achievement. I have to be open to achieving goals in unusual ways sometimes. I get what I intend, but not always what I expect. So when the synchronicities begin dropping me clues, I do not always understand how they’ll be part of the path to the goal. But invariably there’s an intelligence at work, and if I trust it, it will work just fine. Usually it will bring me new information first, so I can raise my own awareness and knowledge to the level required to achieve the goal.

For example, if you declare your goal to become wealthier, within a few days you might see all sorts of synchronicities related to spirituality. They may seem to have nothing to do with wealth whatsoever. So you figure it’s just a coincidence, and the approach isn’t working. But the approach is sound, and it is working. Most likely it’s a signal that the path to wealth first requires you to improve your consciousness. This is especially true if your intention was for the highest good of all. If you become wealthy before your energy and consciousness have reached a certain level, then greater material wealth may only feed your problems — your goal cannot yet manifest for the greatest good of all. But if you first learn to use your energy and consciousness positively, then the greater resources that wealth provides you will be a positive manifestation instead of a negative one.

In truth this is a simple and direct process. But our minds are so cluttered with the flotsam and jetsam of social conditioning that we have a hard time thinking on this level. We get so attached to seeing our goals manifest a certain way because that’s how they manifest in TV shows or in movies. Or maybe that’s how our parents or friends did it. But this attachment to a particular “how” blocks us from allowing our goals to manifest far more easily. If we could loosen up a bit on the “how” and just learn to allow the manifestation to occur in its own perfect way, goal achievement would be far easier.

So often I see people sabotage their own goals because they do not understand the power of intention. Realize that EVERY thought is truly an intention. Every thought. So most people manifest a cluttered mish-mash of conflict in their lives because their thoughts are in conflict. They simultaneously set a goal and then unset it. “I want to start my own business.” “I wonder if it will work.” “I wonder if I’ll succeed.” “Maybe this won’t work.” “Maybe John is right, and this is a mistake.” “No, I’m pretty sure it will work just fine.”

If you are trying to achieve goals on the level of action-reaction, meaning that you’re purely focused on the action steps, while at the higher level of intention-manifestation, you’re putting out conflicting thoughts, then you’re sabotaging yourself. If you go on a diet and exercise like crazy, while all the while thinking, “I’m fat. This is hopeless. This is taking too long,” then your higher level intentions will override your actions, and negative or incongruent results will follow.

If you want to achieve a goal, you must clear out all the “hopefully” and “maybe” and “can’t” nonsense from your consciousness. You cannot allow yourself the luxury of a negative thought, and that is an intention to manifest what you don’t want. This takes practice of course, but it is the essential art of learning to use your consciousness to create what you want. When you are congruent in your thoughts, your goal will manifest with ease. But when you are incongruent in your thoughts, you will manifest conflict and obstacles. As within, so without.

Why is it you’re able to do this? Because you have that power. Not believing in yourself simply means you’re using your own power against yourself. You’re like a god saying, “Let me be powerless,” and you don’t even realize it. If you think/intend weakness, you manifest weakness. If you project your power outside yourself and onto the external world, you lose your power.

You don’t need anyone’s permission to do this. It is a natural human ability. But it takes practice to develop your consciousness to the level where you can apply it and especially to learn to trust it.

What happens if you decide to manifest a really, really big goal, one that seems physically impossible? The process will still work. It’s just that there will be a lot more steps, and you may be led through various synchronicities for years before you’ve reached the point where your ultimate goal can manifest. It might take longer than your human lifetime if the goal is so big. But you will certainly make progress if you use this approach.

So what is your goal? Say it out loud right now, and let it be for the greatest good of all. Then say to the universe, “Make it so.” Wait for the synchronicities and unusual coincidences to arrive. Follow them where they want to lead you, even if it seems strange at first. Allow your goal to manifest.

How to Build a Stronger Ego

Another brilliant contribution of intelligent thought to our global consciousness by my unofficila guru, Steve Pavlina.

How to Build a Stronger Ego

There’s a notion that’s been spread around the spiritual side of the self-help field that suggests one of our primary aims in life should be ego-less enlightenment, a state where we achieve near-perfect inner peace, where we’re one with everything but attached to nothing, and where nothing in the physical world can knock us off balance.

This creates some personal challenges for me because whenever I write about anything remotely spiritual in nature (and sometimes even when I don’t), some readers assume I’m one of the guys promoting this same sort of ideal. Then they question why my behavior doesn’t seem consistent with it.

My behavior isn’t consistent with the pursuit of ego-less enlightenment because I have no interest in that path. If other people find value in it, that’s their choice, but I find other paths of development to be much more practical and fulfilling, both for myself and for others I’ve observed over the years.

Do you really want to kill your ego?

Do you even want to weaken it?

In this case I’m using the word ego to refer to your physical world identity, mainly your personality and sense of self. I’m not referring to ego in the sense of being arrogant, such as when people say, “So-and-so has a big ego.”

Many spiritual seekers claim it’s wise to weaken the ego as much as possible. The ones who really go all out with this idea give away all their possessions, shave their heads, and spend their days meditating and doing chores, striving to burn away any last bits of attachment to their previous identities.

But most people who claim to pursue this path have mixed feelings about it, so they hold themselves in a state of limbo. They can’t get themselves to progress on the ego-empowering path, so they don’t take strong steps to advance in their careers or make much more money — that would be too ego-based for their spiritual beliefs. On the other hand, they can’t get themselves to relinquish all attachment to their identities and their stuff, so they strive to get by with a sense of minimalism. But they’re never really satisfied living in this halfway space, so quite often their “spiritual practice” devolves into attacking others they believe are more ego-based than they are. It temporarily makes them feel better about themselves.

Often the people stuck in this middle place maintain careers with pseudo-spiritual associations such as being a healer, massage therapist, yoga instructor, tarot card reader, astrologer, etc., but the one thing they usually have in common is that they’re borderline broke most of the time.

This is a very half-assed approach to enlightenment. From what I’ve observed in those who attempt it, it just doesn’t work. It leads to long-term stagnation. You can find whole communities of bloggers like this, and they seem to spend much of their time writing posts that express frustration and judgment at everything they dislike about the world. Meanwhile, they do nothing tangible to make the world any better.

You may want to question whether or not you really want to weaken your ego. Is that truly a wise idea? Sure it’s a popular piece of religious dogma, but is it really how you want to live? Does it even make sense?

Building a stronger ego

Instead of weakening your ego, let me suggest an alternative approach that works really well for me, one that will allow you to avoid stagnation… not to mention bitter blogger syndrome.

Build an even stronger ego.

Your ego is your character, an important part of your human avatar. If you try to weaken your ego, you’re simply weakening your character. Do you really want to devolve into a sidelined NPC (non-player character)? Or would you rather build out a really strong character with well-defined attributes?

How does it serve you — or anyone else — to play the game of life with a weak character? Are you really doing much good by checking out from life and cocooning yourself in a mini-monastery?

Instead of trying to weaken your ego, consider what good you might achieve with it instead. How would you like to develop your character during your time here on earth?

Let me offer you some ideas to get you thinking…

Character-building ideas

Honesty – See how honest and open you can make your character. Be honest in your dealings with others. Stop pretending and hiding who you are. Share yourself openly with the world.

Courage – Continually push yourself to face your fears instead of shrinking from them. This will give your character more options.

Exploration – Experiment. Learn by trial and error. Step into the unknown and learn by doing. Develop an ego that loves to dive in and explore new things.

Service – Tune your ego in the direction of serving others, such that the stronger your ego becomes, the more you push yourself to help people. Make service to others part of your identity.

Acceptance – When you accept yourself as having a strong ego, you’ll be more willing to accept other strong people into your life as well instead of feeling you need to attack the strong in order to justify your own weakness.

Discipline – Develop an ego that identifies itself with good habits like regular exercise and solid productivity.

Connection – Develop your social skills, so you can connect with others easily. Learn how to surround your ego with social support that helps to refine your positive character qualities while chipping away at your unwanted attributes.

Notice that since these are character qualities, they can’t be taken away from you. You may lose your possessions, job, relationships, etc., but your character qualities are yours to keep.

Intelligence, not enlightenment

My gold standard for conscious living isn’t enlightenment. It’s intelligence.

In this case I define intelligent living as having three main components:

1) Developing a progressively more accurate model of reality and living in accordance with it.

If you’re living intelligently, then as a general rule, you should find that life becomes progressively easier and your results get measurably better as your mental model of reality gradually becomes more accurate.

When you encounter a spiritual teacher who can’t pay his/her electric bill, I’d say something is off.

2) Deliberately engineering your social environment to actively support you in fulfilling your desires.

We humans are very social creatures. Your environment plays a huge role in your development. Unfortunately most of us find ourselves with rather unsupportive social circles when we try to stretch and grow. We have the power to change that, however. We can drop the connections that don’t support our continued development and invite new connections that do. This is a significant growth accelerator.

It isn’t intelligent to remain stuck with an unsupportive social circle. Place your loyalty not with your pity posse but with your highest vision of yourself, and surround yourself with people who can help you support that vision. The first step is to say no to connections with those people who reject your vision. Hang out with people who will help you develop a strong, positive, service-oriented ego, not a frustrated one.

Don’t become obsessed with trying to transcend your feelings towards people who consistently bring you down. Just drop the nay-sayers and move on. Saying “I’m done with you” once can be more effective than having to say “I forgive you” a dozen more times. This creates the space where new connections can come into your life, the kind that will have you saying, “Thank you so much!” dozens of times instead.

When you’re living intelligently, you won’t settle for social connections that drain you. You’ll consciously build ample social support and resources for pursuing your goals and fulfilling your desires. You will notice that over time, your life becomes increasingly abundant.

3) Getting stronger.

Intelligence seeks its own improvement.

If you’re on a path of intelligent living, you should find your character growing increasingly capable. You should see yourself progressively building courage and overcoming more and more fears such as fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, and fear of success. You’ll learn to stop giving your power away and take your foot off the brake pedal.

Engage with life

Checking out from life and trying to pursue ego-less enlightenment may be popular in certain spiritual circles, but it’s not a path I recommend, especially after witnessing the long-term results of many of the practitioners, not to mention the behind-the-scenes inconsistencies of certain proponents. It’s a path that can feel comforting at first because it gives you permission to avoid many of your fears instead of facing them. You can shrink away from life instead of boldly pushing yourself. You don’t have to stand out much. You can simply sit still and quiet your mind. There are many benefits to meditation of course, but don’t let the practice turn into escapism.

I think you’ll find it much more beneficial to relate to life on the basis of ego development as opposed to ego destruction.

Ego destruction is slow suicide. It’s yet another version of giving your power away. As long as “become ego-less” remains on your spiritual to-do list, you can use it to distract yourself from facing the real life challenges that scare you… like stretching yourself to go out and make a real difference in the world instead of escaping into the land of make-believe enlightenment.

Having a strong ego is not in conflict with inner peace. Inner peace doesn’t mean being passive. You can be quite active and engaged with life and still feel very peaceful and centered on your path.

Part of the reason ego-less living has so many people pushing it is that it’s a control strategy. People with strong egos are harder to control. If a religious leader wants to be surrounded by a bunch of loyal followers, it’s much easier to do that while encouraging all the followers to shed their egos. Then standing up to the leader can be called out as an act of ego and therefore something that the culture itself will repress, thereby keeping the leader in charge. However, this structure stunts the leader’s growth as well if the leader must pretend to be upholding the same ego-less standard that’s being preached to the followers.

Own your character

Again, having a strong ego doesn’t mean putting yourself above others. But it’s perfectly fine to take complete ownership of your character and express your pleasure with what you’ve developed so far. That’s much better than being secretly ashamed of your character, isn’t it?

There are limitless ways to grow your character, and where you take your character’s development is for you to decide. But when you catch yourself criticizing others for the choices they’ve made, consider that perhaps you’re giving your power away to them because you aren’t satisfied with the character development choices you’ve been making. Stop fussing over other people’s egos, and direct your attention back on your own to see where you need to improve.

When done consciously it can be fun to develop your character. You can shop from a vast menu of new skills to learn and character attributes to develop. Do you want to build a character who’s very brave? Very physical? Very social? Very musical? The choice is yours. You can even dress up your avatar with a little extra bling if you’d like.

When I blogged about fashion a few months ago, I saw comments from a few people on Twitter and Facebook to the effect of, Well, Steve… this is a rather ego-driven pursuit. And I thought, Well of course it is! Is that supposed to be a bad thing???

I’ve been writing this post from my hotel room in Puerto Rico. I’m here for a weeklong leadership retreat for the Transformational Leadership Council. When I got in late last night, I exchanged hugs with about a dozen TLC members in the lobby. Several of them gushed over how much they liked my new hair. By making a small change to my avatar, it created a fun shift in the way people relate to me, even people who already know me. But prior to making this change, I was one of those guys who could criticize others for fussing over their appearance. It took me a while to realize that I was giving my power away to others so as to avoid taking full ownership of my own avatar’s appearance.

It’s very easy to give our power away and use it to feed criticism of others. It’s much more challenging — but a lot more beneficial — to channel our power into creating what we desire, including the myriad ways we can develop our characters’ potential.

Are you taking full ownership of your character? Where do you catch yourself criticizing others for being too ego-driven? What does that say about the character attributes you’ve been refusing to develop in yourself? Are you bothered by people who are super confident, very focused, very attractive, financially abundant, successful in relationships, super healthy, etc? Stop giving your power away to other people’s egos, and reclaim 100% responsibility for developing those aspects of your own character. It will take time to be sure, but you won’t get there faster by succumbing to denial.

Even though your truest identity is the consciousness behind your ego and not the ego itself, that doesn’t invalidate the reasons for building a strong and capable ego as your primary means of interacting with the physical world. An underdeveloped ego won’t do your consciousness much good anyway; a weak ego will only limit the range of experiences that are possible for you, thereby stunting your conscious growth. So don’t be so quick to buy into the notion that ego-less enlightenment is an intelligent spiritual ideal. Consider that building a stronger ego may be the more intelligent, heart-centered choice for you.

10 Reasons to Never Have a Religion

This article by my favourite personal development blogger, Steve Pavlina, is in the top 5 best articles ever written.  Please share this wisdom with the world.

10 Reasons to Never Have a Religion

While consciously pursuing your spiritual development is commendable, joining an established religion such as Christianity, Islam, or Hinduism is one of the worst ways to go about it. In this article I’ll share 10 reasons why you must eventually abandon the baggage of organized religion if you wish to pursue conscious living in earnest.

Since Christianity is currently the world’s most popular religion, I’ll slant this article towards Christianity’s ubiquitous failings. However, you’ll find that most of these points apply equally well to other major religions (yes, even Buddhism).

1. Spirituality for dummies.

If you have the awareness level of a snail, and your thinking is mired in shame and guilt (with perhaps a twist of drug abuse or suicidal thinking), then subscribing to a religion can help you climb to a higher level of awareness. Your mindset, however, still remains incredibly dysfunctional; you’ve merely swapped one form of erroneous thinking for another.

For reasonably intelligent people who aren’t suffering from major issues with low self-esteem, religion is ridiculously consciousness-lowering. While some religious beliefs can be empowering, on the whole the decision to formally participate in a religion will merely burden your mind with a hefty load of false notions.

When you subscribe to a religion, you substitute nebulous group-think for focused, independent thought. Instead of learning to discern truth on your own, you’re told what to believe. This doesn’t accelerate your spiritual growth; on the contrary it puts the brakes on your continued conscious development. Religion is the off-switch of the human mind.

Leave the mythology behind, and learn to think for yourself. Your intellect is a better instrument of spiritual growth than any religious teachings.

2. Loss of spiritual depth perception.

One of the worst mistakes you can make in life is to attach your identity to any particular religion or philosophy, such as by saying “I am a Christian” or “I am a Buddhist.” This forces your mind into a fixed perspective, robbing you of spiritual depth perception and savagely curtailing your ability to perceive reality accurately. If that sounds like a good idea to you, you’ll probably want to gouge out one of your eyeballs too. Surely you’ll be better off with a single, fixed perspective instead of having to consider two separate image streams… unless of course you’ve become attached to stereo vision.

Religious “truths” are inherently rooted in a fixed perspective, but real truth is perspective-independent. When you substitute religious teachings for truth, you mistake shadows for light sources. Consequently, you doom yourself to stumble around in the dark, utterly confused. Clarity remains forever elusive, and the best answer you get is that life is one giant mystery. Religious mysteries, however, arise not from what is truly unknowable; they arise from the limitations of trying to understand reality from a fixed frame of reference.

A more intelligent approach is to consider reality through a variety of different perspectives without trying to force your perceptions into an artificial religious framework. If you wish to learn more about this approach, read Spiritual Depth Perception.

3. Engineered obedience training.

Religions are authoritarian hierarchies designed to dominate your free will. They’re power structures that aim to convince you to give away your power for the benefit of those who enjoy dominating people. When you subscribe to a religion, you enroll in a mindless minion training program. Religions don’t market themselves as such, but this is essentially how they operate.

Religions are very effective at turning human beings into sheep. They’re among the most powerful instruments of social conditioning. They operate by eroding your trust in your own intellect, gradually convincing you to put your trust into some external entity, such as a deity, prominent figure, or great book. Of course these instruments are usually controlled by those who administrate the minion training program, but they don’t have to be. Simply by convincing you to give your power away to something outside yourself, religion will condition you to be weaker, more docile, and easier to control. Religions actively promote this weakening process as if it were beneficial, commonly branding it with the word faith. What they’re actually promoting is submission.

Religions strive to fill your head with so much nonsense that your only recourse is to bow your head in submission, often quite literally. Get used to spending a lot of time on your knees because acts of submission such as bowing and kneeling are frequently incorporated into religious practice. Canine obedience training uses similar tactics. Now say, “Yes, Master.”

Have you ever wondered why religious teachings are invariably mysterious, confusing, and internally incongruent? This is no accident by the way — it’s quite intentional.

By putting forth confusing and internally conflicting information, your logical mind (i.e. your neocortex) is overwhelmed. You try in vain to integrate such contradictory beliefs, but it can’t be done. The net effect is that your logical mind disengages because it can’t find a pattern of core truth beneath all the nonsense, so without the help of your neocortex, you devolve to a more primitive (i.e. limbic) mode of thinking. You’re taught that this faith-based approach is a more spiritual and conscious way to live, but in reality it’s precisely the opposite. Getting you to distrust your own cerebral cortex actually makes you dumber and easier to manipulate and control. Karl Marx was right when he said, “Religion is the opiate of the people.”

For example, the Old Testament and the New Testament in the Bible frequently contradict each other with various rules of conduct, yet both are quoted during mass. Church leaders also behave in direct violation of the Church’s teachings, such as by covering up criminal and immoral activities by their own priests. Those who try to mentally process such glaring contradictions as coherent truth invariably suffer for it. A highly conscious person would reject membership in such an organization as patently ridiculous. So-called divine mysteries are engineered to be incomprehensible. You aren’t meant to ever make sense of them since that would defeat the whole purpose. When you finally wake up and realize it’s all B.S., you’ve taken the first step towards freedom from this oppressive system.

The truth is that so-called religious authorities don’t know any more about spirituality than you do. However, they know how to manipulate your fear and uncertainty for their own benefit. How nice of you to let them.

Although the most popular religions are very old, L. Ron Hubbard proved the process can be replicated from scratch in modern times. As long as there are large numbers of people who fear the responsibility of their own power, religions will continue to dominate the landscape of human development.

If you want to talk to God, then communicate directly instead of using third-party intermediaries. Surely God has no need of an interpreter. Don’t fall into the trap of becoming a mindless minion. It’s a mistake to think that turning off your neocortex and practicing mindless “faith” will bring you closer to God. In truth it will only bring you closer to dog.

4. Toilet-bowl time management.

If you devote serious time to the practice of religion, it’s safe to say you practice toilet-bowl time management, flushing much of your precious life down the drain with little or nothing to show for it.

First, you’ll waste a lot of time filling your head with useless nonsense. This includes reading some of the worst fiction ever written. Then there are various rules, laws, and practices to learn.

Seriously, if you have insomnia, try reading religious texts before bedtime. You’ll be asleep faster than you can say Methuselah. Why do you think hotels put Bibles next to the bed? It’s the greatest sedative known to man. I have to give props to the Scientologists for at least incorporating space aliens into their stories. It’s a shame Gene Roddenberry didn’t formally invent his own religion; Stovokor sounds like a lot of fun.

Once you finally realize your head has been filled with utter nonsense, you must then purge such garbage from your mind if you want your brain to be functional again. That can take considerably longer, assuming you succeed at all. It’s like trying to uninstall AOL from your hard drive.

Next, you can expect to waste even more time on repetitive ritual and ceremony, such as attending mass, learning prayers, and practicing unproductive meditations.

If I add up the time I attended mass and Sunday school, studied religion in school as if it were a serious subject, and memorized various prayers, I count thousands of hours of my life I’d love to have back. I did, however, learn some important lessons, many of which are being shared in this article.

I especially remember listening to a lot of bad sermons; most priests are hideously poor speakers. Maybe it’s because they drink alcohol while on duty.

Now if you really go overboard and throw in learning a dead language for good measure, you can kiss years of your life goodbye.

The more time you devote to religious practice, the more you waste your life on pointless, dead-end pursuits… and the more you’ll want to delude yourself with a phony “Hehe, I meant to do that” attitude.

5. Support your local pedophile.

In addition to being a serious waste of time, religious practice can also be a huge waste of money.

For starters when you donate to a major religion, you support its expansion, which means you’re facilitating the enslavement of your fellow humans. That isn’t very nice, now is it? If you feel the urge to donate money, give it to a real and honorable cause, not a fabricated one. Better yet, go outside and do something that really helps people. If you can’t think of anything better, grab a can of paint and clean up some local graffiti.

Your religious donations fund freeloaders who mooch off society but who generally provide little or no value in return. Sure there are some religious people who perform valuable public services, but for the most part, that isn’t their bailiwick. These freeloaders typically operate tax-free, meaning they’re effectively subsidized by taxpayers. That’s a great racket if you’re on the receiving side… not so great if you’re funding it though.

Religions offer a suite of special services to generate additional income. They’ll spout some gibberish while feeding you a crusty wafer, pronounce you bonded to a fellow human being, snip some of your excess skin, pour water on your head, proclaim your manhood, cast out your demons, pronounce your transgressions forgiven, and so on. When they can’t think of anything else, they make up some drivel like confirming you’re still loyal to them. The bill may read “suggested donation,” but it’s still a bill.

When you donate money to a religious organization, you’re doing much worse than throwing your money away. You’re actively funding evil. If you think that spending a billion dollars to defend pedophiles and rapists is a good use of your hard-earned cash, perhaps you should run for Pope. You could hardly do worse. At least Wall Street is honest about its greed and lust.

One of my Catholic high school teachers was later revealed to be a repeat child molester… written up in the newspaper and everything. I didn’t see any suspicious behavior at the time, and to be totally honest, I actually liked that teacher and was shocked to learn of his extracurricular activities. He was shuffled from one location to another by those who knew about his appetite for young flesh. I’m glad I wasn’t on the menu, but I feel sad for those who were. Methinks God should raise his standards… just a tad.

Why aren’t Catholic priests allowed to marry? This has nothing to do with what’s written in the Bible or with any benefits of celibacy. This rule was invented by the Church to prevent their priests from producing heirs. When the priests died, their property would go back to the Church, thereby enriching the rich even more. Apparently God needed more cash. It was a very effective policy, as the Church is now among the richest and most powerful organizations on earth. It’s hard to fail when you have a loyal force of lifetime indentured servants who work cheaply and then yield their life savings to you when they die.

Lay religious people (i.e. non-clergy), on the other hand, are encouraged to have lots of babies because that means more people are born into the religion, which means more money and a bigger power base. Condoms are a big no-no; they’re bad for business. Marriage is a big yes; it means more brainwashed babies will be made.

Would you seriously consider this sort of structure a “good cause” worthy of your hard-earned cash?

I have got to get me one of these…

6. Incest is best.

Religions frequently promote inbred social networks. You’re encouraged to spend more time with people who share the same belief system while disengaging from those with incompatible beliefs. Sometimes this is done subtly; other times it’s more obvious.

If you’re one of the saved, blessed, or otherwise enlightened individuals who stumbled upon the one true belief system, then supposedly everyone else remains in the dark. Certain religions are overtly intolerant of outsiders, but to one degree or another, all major religions cast non-subscribers in a negative light. This helps to discourage members from abandoning the religion while still enabling them to proselytize. The main idea is to maintain social structures that reward loyalty and punish freedom of thought.

This us-vs-them prejudice is totally incongruent with conscious living. It’s also downright moronic from a global perspective. But it remains a favored practice of those who pull the strings. When you’re taught to distrust other human beings, fear gets a foothold in your consciousness, and you become much easier to control.

When you join a religion, your fellow mind-slaves will help to keep you in line, socially rewarding your continued obedience while punishing your disloyalty. Why do they do this? It’s what they’ve been conditioned to do. Tell your religious friends that you’re abandoning their religion because you want to think for yourself for a while, and watch the sparks fly. Suddenly you’ve gone from best friend to evil demon. There’s no greater threat to religious people than to profess your desire to think for yourself.

There are better ways to enjoy a sense of community than joining a slavery club. Try making friends with conscious, free-thinking people for a change — people who are willing to connect with you regardless of how silly your beliefs are. You may find it intimidating at first, but it’s quite refreshing once you get used to it.

Since I get asked this question all the time, I might as well answer it publicly. Do I accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior? No more than I’d accept a credit card from Crapital One. Either way I’d be worried about the fine print. Does this mean we can’t be friends anymore? Please don’t hate me because I’m doomed.

7. Idiocy or hypocrisy – pick one.

When you subscribe to an established religion, you have only two options. You can become an idiot, or you can become a hypocrite. If you’ve already chosen the former, I’ll explain why, and I’ll use small words so that you’re sure to understand.

First, there’s the idiocy route. You can willingly swallow all of the contrived, man-made drivel that’s fed to you. Accept that the earth is only 10,000 years old. Believe stories about dead bodies coming back to life. Learn about various deities and such. Put your trust in someone who thinks they know what they’re talking about. Eat your dogma. Good boy!

Congratulations! You’re a moron believer. You’ll be saved, enlightened, and greeted with tremendous fanfare when you die… unless of course all the stuff you were taught turns out not to be true. Nah… if the guy in the robe says it’s true, it must be true. Ya gotta have faith, right?

Next, we have the hypocrisy option. In this case your neocortex is strong enough to identify various bits of utter nonsense in the religious teachings that others are trying to ram down your throat. You have a working B.S. detector, but it’s slightly damaged. You’re smart enough to realize that earth is probably a lot older than 10,000 years and that pre-marital (or non-marital) sex is a lot of fun, but some B.S. still gets through. You don’t swallow all the bull, but you still identify yourself as a follower of a particular religion, most likely because you were raised in it and never actually chose it to begin with.

To you it’s just a casual pursuit. You’re certainly not a die-hard fundamentalist, but you figure that if you drink the wine and chew the wafer now and then, it’s good enough to get you a free ride into a half-decent afterlife. You belong to the pro-God club. Surely there’s safety in numbers. Two people can’t be wrong… although 4-1/2 billion supposedly can.

In this case you become an apologist for your own religion. You don’t want to be identified with the extreme fanatics, nor do you want to be associated with the non-believers. You figure you can straddle both sides. On earth you’ll basically live as a non-practitioner (or a very sloppy and inconsistent practitioner), but when you eventually die, you’ve still got the membership card to show God.

Do you realize how deluded you are?

Perhaps if you have to throw out so much of the nonsense to make your chosen belief system palatable, you shouldn’t be drinking the Kool Aid in the first place. Free yourself from the mental baggage, stop looking to others for permission to live, and start thinking on your own. If your God exists, he’s smart enough to see through your fake ID.

From time to time, some of my readers take a stab at converting me to their religion. Most of them come across as total loons, but I can at least respect their consistency. I’ve no idea why they bother to read my site (which is about raising, not lowering, consciousness). Perhaps some of them are getting ready to convert from fundamentalism to common sense.

You’d think I’d be quite a prize for any serious religion. With 2.4 million monthly readers, that’s a lot of people I could potentially enslave convert, not to mention how much I could fill the Church coffers by soliciting indulgences donations on their behalf. Henceforth I expect a much better conversion effort. If you won’t do it for the money, then do it for the souls. You can’t let so many of us go to hell without trying in earnest to save us, can you? ;)

Just keep those conversion emails below 10,000 words if possible, with no more than 9,000 of them quoted from your favorite great book.

8. Inherited falsehood.

Please tell me you aren’t still practicing the religion you happened to be born into? Surely you’ve outgrown your baby clothes by now. Isn’t it time you also outgrew your baby religion?

What if you were born into a different culture? Would you have been conscious enough to find your way back to your current belief system? Or are your current beliefs merely a product of your environment and not the result of conscious choice?

Many religions are just a mish-mash of what came before. For example, Christianity is largely based on pagan rituals. If those pagan beliefs and rituals had been protected by copyright, Christianity wouldn’t even exist. If you take the time to dig into the roots of Christianity, you’ll encounter various theories that Christianity’s teachings were largely assembled from pre-Christian myths and that Jesus himself was merely a fictional character pieced together from earlier mythical figures. You go, Horus!

Many religious teachers (i.e. priests, rabbis, ministers, etc.) are just brainwashed slaves themselves. They don’t have any real authority and aren’t even aware of the agenda being set by their superiors. This makes them better minions because they actually believe the B.S. they’re spouting and don’t know the truth behind it. A priest, a rabbi, and a minister walk into a bar, but that’s as far as they get. They may interact with the bartender, but they never get to know the guy who owns the bar. They suffer from inherited falsehood just like everyone else.

Is your religion based on the inspired word of God? No more than this article. Just because someone says their text is divinely inspired doesn’t mean it is. Anyone can claim divine inspiration. The top religions are decided by popularity, not by truth.

Even the central figures in major religions didn’t follow the religions that were spawned in their names. If they didn’t swallow the prevailing “wisdom” about gods and spiritual leaders and such, why should you? If you want to be more like the people you worship, then follow their lead by striking out on your own.

Move beyond your baby religion. Consider maturity as a reasonable alternative.

9. Compassion in chains.

Religious rules and laws invariably hamper the development of conscience. This causes all sorts of problems like pointless violence and warfare. Those who preach nonviolence as a rule or law tend to be the most violent of all. Such people cannot be trusted because they’ll violate their proclaimed values with the weakest of excuses.

When you externalize compassion into a set of rules and laws, what you’re left with isn’t compassion at all. True compassion is a matter of conscious choice, and that requires the absence of force-backed rules and laws.

The more religious a person becomes, the less compassionate s/he is. The illusion of compassion substitutes for the real thing. Religious people tend to be the most bigoted and non-accepting people on earth. They’re the least trustworthy and suffer from the grossest character defects. They pretend they’re doing good, but they’re really collaborators in a system designed to push people into unconscious slavery to a “higher” authority. They are slaves promoting slavery.

Historically speaking, religious people love to fight each other. Instead of unconditional love, they practice conditional loyalty. The only unconditional aspect is their thirst for blood. If you disagree with them, you’re a target… either for conversion or destruction (both of which are really the same thing).

If you value the ideal of unconditional love, you won’t find it in the practice of religion. Real compassion doesn’t arise from believing in God, from practicing various rituals, or from studying the concept of karma. Compassion can only result from conscious choice, and this requires the freedom to choose without the threat of punishment or the promise of reward. If you’re obedient to your faith, it’s a safe bet that compassion is absent from your life. You probably don’t even know what real compassion feels like.

The more we collectively abandon all religion, the better off this planet will be. This doesn’t mean we have to abandon all spiritual pursuits. It just means we must stop turning spirituality into something it isn’t.

10. Faith is fear.

Religion is the systematic marketing of fear.

Blessed are the poor (donate heavily). Blessed are the meek (obey). Blessed are the humble (don’t question authority). Blessed are the hungry (make us rich while you starve). Blessed are the merciful (if you catch us doing something wrong, let it go). Blessed are the pure of heart (switch off your brain). Blessed are the timid, the cowardly, the fearful. Blessed are those who give us their power and become our slaves. Muahahaha!

That’s the kind of nonsense religion pushes on people. They train you to turn your back on courage, strength, and conscious living. This is stupidity, not divinity.

Religion will teach you to fear being different, to fear standing up for yourself, and to fear being an independent thinker. It will erode your self-trust by explaining why you’re unable to successfully manage life on your own terms: You are unworthy. You’re a sinner. You’re unclean. You belong to a lesser caste. You are not enlightened. Of course the solution is always the same — submit to the will of an external authority. Believe that you’re inadequate. Give away your power. Follow their rules and procedures. Live in fear for the rest of your life, and hope it will all turn out okay in the end.

When you practice faith instead of conscious living, you live under a cloak of fear. Eventually that cloak becomes so habitual you forget it’s even there. It’s very sad when you reach the point where you can’t even remember what it feels like to wield creative freedom over your own life, independent of what you’ve been conditioned to believe.

Faith is the coward’s substitute for courage. It’s also really good marketing if you’re the one who controls the faith. If you’re afraid or unwilling to assume total responsibility for your life, you’re a perfect match for religion.

Fear in one part of your life invariably spreads to all other parts — you can’t compartmentalize it. If you find yourself frustrated because you’re too afraid to follow your dreams, to talk to members of the opposite sex, to speak up for yourself, etc., then a good place to start is to rid your life of all religious nonsense. Don’t let fear get a foothold in your consciousness.

Stop trying to comfort yourself by swallowing religious rubbish. If you really need something to believe in, then believe in your own potential. Put your trust in your own intellect. Stop giving away your power.

Dump the safety-in-numbers silliness. Just because a lot of people believe stupid stuff doesn’t mean it isn’t stupid. It just means that stupidity is popular on this planet. When people are in a state of fear, they’ll swallow just about anything to comfort themselves, including the bastion of stupidity known as religion.

***

Religion is spiritual immaturity.

It’s entirely possible to enjoy your life without spending so much of it bent over in submission. Pull your head out of your rear, and look around with your own two eyes. If you need something to worship, then feel grateful for your own conscious mind. Pull it out of the cobwebs, and boot it up.

Besides… if some popular religious version of God does exist, there’s a good chance he’s a complete and total idiot. He made us in his image, right? So perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to worship an entity so lacking in intelligence. We’re better off on our own.

God isn’t going to smite you for not formally worshipping him. If he didn’t smite me by now, it’s a safe bet you’ll slide beneath the radar as well. And if that doesn’t work, you can borrow my fake ID. I’ve been baptized and confirmed, and I’m the son of an altar boy and the nephew of a priest, so I’m sure I’ll be fine. ;)

Praise Hestia!