Updated March 26th 2020.
The concept that ‘divine will’ is distinct from ‘our will’ is not merely a religious or spiritual idea. At some point, most of us come to understand that in one way or another, we are not the highest authority in our lives.”
Welcome to this updated personal introduction to Inner Connections – Wisdom for Life Decisions. The steps offered in this process will teach you how to gain access to brain states that will help connect you with your inner wisdom. Ways of using your ‘inner resources’ to improve your choices, planning and problem-solving and bring meaning and direction to your life.
(This part of the introduction is somewhat self-indulgent; explaining my personal spiritual and philosophical thoughts on this subject. If you prefer to hear more about the program directly, please click the link through to Calm and Clear).
Despite sometimes being criticised for it, I don’t usually write about God or spiritual matters. I am also admonished sometimes for apologising when I do. I object to this criticism and today will share why.
As I feel it essential that everyone who needs our help feels welcome here, we do all that we can to present our message in a way that won’t ever alienate our audience. It is because of this that we usually don’t talk about our own beliefs and will usually apologise and give an explanation if we do.
It has never been considered good manners to talk about religion or politics with people who see things differently than we might and have not asked questions or openly requested a debate. These are rules of basic etiquette that I believe should be remembered more by all of us. Insisting we have a right to express our ideas does not always make doing so emotionally or socially intelligent.
Many religious folk might feel a lot less persecuted if they remembered these rules. Salesmen are often disliked for similar indiscretion without any religious prejudice involved.
I am explaining this now because conscience will be the central inner state we explore in this program and instead of challenging anyone’s beliefs I would like to challenge my religious and non-religious fans alike to stick with me on this. I hope you can trust I will keep mostly to my usual topics of neuroscience, emotional intelligence, psychology, etc.
In this introduction article, however, I would like to give a clear picture of my own beliefs—for anyone interested—so that you can decide for yourself upfront if there is any reason that you may not feel personally aligned with this work.
Too Many Questions!
I was raised as a Christian but left the church as a teenager. I felt that I had received ‘the calling’ to become a minister, but the church I belonged to did not allow women to become ministers or even teach religious subjects. My teachers were also uncomfortable about many of the questions that I asked.
Confused and at odds with what was happening to me, I set out on my own, leaving my family and church community to live in the city. Led by my conscience (and other dubious inner guidance at that time), I began following a self-directed and independent line of research and study.
These years were a very lonely and challenging time for me.
I was studying (and a good student), but following my conscience (and logic) I found similar limitations in the school system that I had seen at church.
To succeed in these institutions seemed more about remembering ‘facts’ as they were handed down by teachers or leaders in authority rather than us being encouraged to ask questions or look for genuine answers.
This type of education/indoctrination didn’t sit well with my natural curiosity and hunger for real knowledge and wisdom that could stand up to questions and scrutiny.
The answer to my dilemma, back then, was to leave the academic world (as I had left the church community) and study to become a sound engineer and graphic artist.
These subjects were more empirical, and I felt that finally I could learn without my curiosity and conscience—and need for answers that made sense to me logically—getting in the way of my education.
My academic interests and religious ‘calling’ were still with me, however, and later in my life, I began to see that rather than religious, my calling was really as a kind of ‘lay professor’ in the field of self-help.
While I still enjoy a rich spiritual life—more on that in a moment—the truth is that Steve and my ‘ministry’ is not faith but science-based.
For those who are interested, I will offer my spiritual take on the process that I am offering here.
Most people have heard the Lord’s Prayer, which towards the beginning, says, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The concept that ‘divine will’ is distinct from ‘our will’ is not merely a religious or spiritual idea. At some point, most of us come to understand that in one way or another, we are not the highest authority in our lives.
In a world full of corruption and cynicism, faith that the power ‘at the top’ is truly benevolent may seem naive. Yet this faith has been demonstrated to do positive things for a person’s life and state of mind.
But can we really know what divine will is?
Humans are so prone to warped thinking which allows us to fool ourselves! Psychology has many terms for this; Motivated reasoning, wishful thinking, cognitive dissonance, confirmation bias, projection, rationalisation, repression, denial, distortion, reaction formation, splitting, groupthink, idealisation, intellectualisation, displacement, sublimation, minimisation, not to mention good old egomania!
With our propensity to fool ourselves that what we want is always a good idea, when it comes to tuning into any form of ‘higher guidance’ it appears to me the chances we might be kidding ourselves must be very high indeed!
Worse, despite all of the empirical data that we now have access to considered alongside our considerable logical abilities. The fact remains that while we might be able to control some of the events in our lives, humans have proved to be hopeless at knowing how the plans we make are likely to make us feel.
This has been described by brain science theorists as our brains being ‘faulty simulators’. If you are interested there is a science-based TED talk on the evidence for this here;
This fact is important because most of Inner Connections – Wisdom for Life Decisions will be about how to resolve all this internal conflict and connect with your true inner wisdom.
With our propensity to fool ourselves that what we want is always a good idea, when it comes to tuning into any form of ‘higher guidance’ it appears to me that the chances we might be kidding ourselves must be very high indeed!”
Faulty simulation is how most of us use our brain and advertisers just love it. They tell us “Stop and think how it will feel riding down the street in this brand new convertible [I want to sell you] with the wind in your hair. Just imagine how all of your friends in the street will envy you!”
But didn’t we just learn that our brains are hopeless at doing things like this with any accuracy?
The result is that many of us end up buying things we don’t need and can’t afford and instead of these things making us more confident and popular, we end up miserable and worried slaves to our credit card repayments.
‘Our Will’, in this sense, is when we push ahead with our plans, failing to see that most of what we plan just makes us unhappy.
‘Our Will’, is also when our desires and plans push ahead without thought or concern for the wellbeing of those around us; putting unrealistic expectations on others; only seeking feedback from our peers and marginalising and dehumanising people our plans might hurt.
And this should be expected from humans who have been encouraged our whole life to use our brains in ways that do not serve our best interests. How many things will you see advertised today that are genuinely good for you?
Understanding the limitation of ‘Our Will’, however, should never mean that we must surrender and allow someone else’s version of ‘Thy Will’, blind authority over our lives.
These are some of the reasons why—for a long time—I have been working on reverse engineering all the essential data available to us in the social sciences to come up with “a system” to help access better inner wisdom for decision making.
“Thy will be done,” in this process, constitutes putting down the rose coloured glasses that represent our faulty simulator and accessing the wisdom that loving and benevolent parents might share with us about our current plans if we had them to turn to for guidance.
I believe that the viewpoint of these divine and benevolent parents is always available to us if we learn how to access this ‘inner state’.
Understanding the limitation of ‘Our Will’, should never mean that we must surrender and allow someone else’s version of ‘Thy Will’, blind authority over our lives.”
Just as we hope our children will sometimes ask for our perspective on their lives and consider our point of view, this same wise choice of action is available to us all through the process I offer here.
But how do we know, when considered in the solitude of our internal environment, that this perspective is genuine? How do we know we are not tricking ourselves and inventing these voices in our mind to rationalise behaviour which is really ‘Our Will’ and not a higher perspective at all?
This question is of course nearly impossible to answer, but once you have mastered accessing the 5 inner states I offer, I trust you will feel more confident about the quality of guidance you receive from this.
You can always continue tricking yourself if you want—the question is really if you want a genuine answer from your conscience or not?
Just as we hope our children will sometimes ask for our perspective on their lives and consider our point of view, this same wise choice of action is available to us all through what I offer here.”
Whether you consider God in a traditional sense or perhaps as your unconscious mind, collective consciousness, mother nature, or some other higher authority; one way or another I would like you to find a way that feels okay with you to consider the process offered.
You can click through and read more of the details HERE.
As for my own beliefs? Following the work in Self-Knowledge (Unit One) and Inner Connections – Wisdom for Life Decisions (Unit four) for many years now has helped me, at last, determine my religious orientation.
Without looking into it at great length, I will say with some confidence that I am a Diest. The same as Thomas Paine, who among other things wrote a pamphlet called Common Sense, primarily attributed to paving the way for the declaration of Independence in the US. Unlike Thomas Paine, I am not a revolutionary, but agree with him 100% in what follows here.
THE AGE OF REASON
by Thomas Paine
TO MY FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:
I PUT the following work under your protection. It contains my
opinions upon religion. You will do me the justice to remember that I
have always strenuously supported the Right of every Man to his own
opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who
denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his
present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.
The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is Reason.I have never used any other, and I trust I never shall.
Your affectionate friend and fellow-citizen,
Luxembourg, 8th Pluvoise,
Second Year of the French Republic, one and indivisible.
January 27, O. S. 1794.
And from the Age of Reason (Part 2 section 21)
Deism, then, teaches us, without the possibility of being deceived, all that is necessary or proper to be known. The creation is the Bible of the Deist. He there reads, in the handwriting of the Creator himself, the certainty of his existence and the immutability of his power, and all other Bibles and Testaments are to him forgeries.”
In short, Deism rejects the idea that God could be revealed to us through anything but mankind’s logical faculties in analysing the natural world.
My translation of this includes not only reason but also our limbic—or emotional signalling system, which I have devoted myself to learning from in myself.
Our emotions are both personal and universal. If we learn how to read them in ourselves and others honestly, along with our faculties of reason and conscience, I believe that we can open a clear and direct path to meaning and purpose in our lives.
To learn more about this process, which also constitutes Unit 4 in my Emotional Intelligence Master Class, please continue here – Calm and Clear