By Suma Varughese
It might not be in the league of the Ten Commandments or the Bhagvad Gita, but Neale Donald Walsch’s Conversations with God, where he claims direct communication with God has inspired millions worldwide with its message of love,hope and universal oneness
Some excerpts from Conversations with God
How does God talk and to whom?
I talk to everyone. My most common form of consciousness is through feeling. Feeling is the language of the soul. If you want to know what’s true for you look to how you’re feeling about it.
I also communicate with thought. I often use images and pictures. I also use the vehicle of experience. And finally, I use words. Words are really the least effective communication.
• Who is God?
If you believe that God is some omnipotent being who hears all prayers, says ‘yes’ to some, ‘no’ to others and ‘maybe but not now’ to the rest, you are mistaken. If you believe that God is the creator and decider of all things in your life, you are mistaken. God is the observer, not the creator. God created you in the image and likeness of God. You have created the rest; through the power God has given you.
• The spiritual laws of life
1. You are the creator of your reality.
2. You attract what you fear. Emotion is the power, which attracts. Emotion is energy in motion. When you move energy, you create effect. Matter is energy conglomerated.
3. Love is all there is. The feeling of love is your experience of God. Masters are those who have chosen only love.
• On relationships
It is only through your relationship with people, places and events that you can even exist. The purpose of a relationship is to decide what part of yourself you’d like to see "show up", not what part of another you can capture and hold. The purpose of relationships is not to have another who might complete you; but to have another with whom you might share your completeness.
The good news is it’s all right to love sex! Love the things you desire for your love of them draws them to you. So choose sex – all the sex you can get! Yet do not choose sex instead of love, but as a celebration of it. Sexual expression is the inevitable result of an eternal principle of attraction and rhythmic energy flow, which fuels all of life. This ebb and flow, "to and fro" movement is the basic rhythm of the universe and everything in it. This is sex—the Synergistic Energy Exchange.
You are constantly being attracted, compelled toward union with one another, then at the Moment of Unity, being repelled by conscious choice away from the Unity. Your choice is to remain free of It, so that you can experience it. For once you become part of that Unity and remain there, you cannot know it as Unity, since you no longer know Separation.
• On politics
Have few laws. Let people regulate themselves. You must decide to simply care for each other. By eliminating all separations between you. By constructing a new model of the world. By holding it within the framework of a new idea. You must begin to see someone else’s interest as your own. This will happen only when you reconstruct your global reality and govern yourself accordingly (a one-world government). With each nation state having an equal say in the world’s affairs and an equal proportionate share of the world’s resources. Everything is intrinsically connected, irrevocably interdependent, interactive, interwoven into the fabric of all life.
All government, all politics, must be based on this truth.
• On death
Each moment ends the instant it begins. Your time with each person would be glorified if you thought it was your last time with that person. Your refusal to contemplate your own death leads to your refusal to contemplate your own life. Life teaches you that what is unavoidable is not death but impermanence.
A man shoots off an angry letter to God, and what do you know, God writes back. This was the genesis of the Conversations with God (CWG) trilogy that has been topping bestseller lists both here and abroad. The first book in the series was published in 1995 and topped the New York Times bestseller list for 91 weeks. The second was published in 1997 and the third in 1998. Together, they have sold 3.5 million copies and have been translated into 30 languages. A good 10 million people, including those who borrowed the books from others, have read and perhaps been influenced by them. Meanwhile, the writer, Neale Donald Walsch, has metamorphosed into a New Age guru who holds retreats, seminars, and workshops based on CWG. The company he runs with wife Nancy, ReCreation, markets a host of spin-offs like audiocassettes, guidebooks and calendars.
As is obvious from his trilogy, which covers the gamut from individual truths to universal ones, Walsch is not content to simply change people’s lives. He also wants to change systems-political, economic, educational or environmental. His books endorse those in these fields whom he approves of, such as Barbara Marx Hubbard, whose book on environment, Conscious Evolution, comes in for warm applause; or Deepak Chopra, who is acknowledged as ‘one of the clearest enunciators right now on your planet’. Walsch is also engaged in initiatives like the Summit for Harmonious Living scheduled for Spring 2001 in Seoul, where he and a local leader will be seeding a worldwide collective called the New Millennium Peace Foundation. CWG centers are opening in the US and Europe modeled along the lines of the original one in Auckland, Oregon.
It is a classic case of New Age success where wisdom and spiritual insight combined with relentless marketing trigger off mega doses of wealth, fame and power. And to think that when he sat down to write that fateful letter in the Easter of 1992 at age 49, Walsch had just lost his job, his personal life with four broken marriages and nine children was a mess and his health was falling apart.
Walsch was brought up a Roman Catholic in Milwaukee. He was an altar boy and considered entering priesthood. He eventually did various jobs in the media as well as running his own advertising and marketing firm and hosting radio shows. Perhaps it is his Catholic background that accounts for his frequent potshots at Christianity. Certainly, the journey from seeing God as a wrathful figure whose commands we disobey at our own risk to the God of love, acceptance and forgiveness portrayed in CWG is a long one. CWG, particularly Part 1, is directed at the Western Christian. Christianity’s major tenets, including the view of Christ as mankind’s savior, the Original Sin, the idea of only one life, as well as the idea of organized religion itself, are systematically demolished. For instance: ‘Human theologies are mankind’s insane attempts to explain an insane God who does not exist.’ Indeed, this is probably why Walsch has soft-pedaled the contribution of Eastern mysticism and philosophy to the CWG worldview, especially the Vedic concept of oneness and interconnection. Despite the occasional reference to Babaji and Sai Baba, the wisdom is presented with no reference to source.
Nevertheless in India, the response to the CWG trilogy is hardly less ardent than in the West. It is acknowledged as a New Age classic in the same league as James Redfield‘s Celestine series or Deepak Chopra‘s books. I was advised to get hold of a copy innumerable times. The presence of the book in my hands attracted much attention among fellow commuters. One lady revealed that she was in the process of reading them. Another, a young collegian, said that her friend had earmarked them as a birthday gift for her.
Professional healers, therapists and seekers cannot say enough about it. Meera Kotak and Anand Tendulkar, two Mumbai-based therapists and healers, hold a weekly study forum to discuss its revelations and insights. Says Meera: ‘We refer to the author’s guidebook for suggestions and exercises. For instance, we engage in dyads in which one questions and the other is guided to believe that God is speaking through her. Now I actually feel deserving of having God speak to me.’
Dr Priya Diwan, a seeker and healer in Mumbai, has translated the first volume into Marathi. Says she: ‘From the beginning to end, one felt that the respondent was all-knowing and all-perceptive. It couldn’t have come from a human being.’ Says metaphysical teacher Vikas Malkani: ‘This series challenges the conventional western premise that God is somewhere up there, not accessible to ordinary folks. The trilogy says, ‘Every man can speak to God’.’This, the series’ central premise, has obviously had a deep impact. Says Katy Shapoorji who attended Dr Diwan’s readings: ‘My neighbor borrowed the book when her husband expired. Today she believes she can speak to her husband in the way Walsch spoke to God.’
‘This, the series’ central premise, has obviously had a deep impact. Says Katy Shapoorji who attended Dr Diwan’s readings: ‘My neighbor borrowed the book when her husband expired. Today she believes she can speak to her husband in the way Walsch spoke to God.’
To come to the heart of the matter, did Walsch really speak to God? Are we to believe that those corny one-liners and puerile word play (‘Heaven is nowhere-that is to say now here'; or worse: ‘FATE stands for From All Thoughts Everywhere’) came from One High? Well, of course we are. After all, there is no arguing with the observation, that yes, it is God speaking, but it could just as well be Walsch. In other words, it is the God in Walsch he is connected to.
And while the God in Walsch appears to be a folksy sort of chap occasionally given to flip comments, for the larger part it is a God of our dreams-loving, forgiving and all accepting. Walsch says that the greatest message of the trilogy is: ‘God stays hidden from no man, but speaks to everyone, even the least worthy among us. None of us is so horrible that God would forsake us, nor so unforgivable that God would turn away.’ The messages are deeply positive and present a God who, to experience his own magnificence, created the Universe and set into motion a process whereby aspects of Him would rediscover their own divinity. This is the task we are engaged in, the process of remembering and recreating Who We Are. Walsch‘s God frowns upon the common analogy of life being a school teaching us lessons. There’s nothing to learn, he says, all we have to do is remember and continue creating Who We Are.
It is from this context that we engage upon the business of living and find answers to all the questions that Walsch so busily peppers God with. When was his life going to work? How could he learn to handle relationships? How could he handle his health, and on a less personal level, what kind of systems would best serve this idea of living? The trilogy freewheels between the basic questions of life to the subtle realms of metaphysical inquiry: love, death, sex, marriage, afterlife, the act of creation, evolved societies elsewhere on the cosmos, among others. Part I is easily the most popular because it dwells on personal issues. Part II looks at systems while Part III takes in death, afterlife and extraterrestrial life.
There’s something for everyone at this smorgasbord; nevertheless it’s easy to feel, as businesswoman Rohini Gupta says: There’s nothing new in it.’ Sure enough, the merit of CWG rests not upon its originality of content but upon presentation. Says Malkani: ‘The presentation is wonderfully apt for today’s time.’ After all, how many writers have the audacity to claim a direct line to God? And that too, a God who is someone you could kid back and forth with even while imbibing His wisdom. However, this approachability is at the cost of grace and majesty. For instance, some of us may be tempted to draw a parallel between this book and the Gita, the original Conversation with God. But how lofty is the Gita in comparison. One also baulks at the hard-core marketing to promote the books. Says Malkani: ‘It’s been milked to death. There are guidebooks and condensed versions as well as other gimmicks.’ Still, there’s no denying that the spirit of the times determines its literature. This one works—at least until the Next Big Thing comes along.
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