The renowned author Leo Buscaglia described the importance of each of us using our unique gifts when he said, Your talent is God’s gift to you; what you do with it is your gift back to God. James Twyman has been using his talent to gift back to God and to people all over the world for many years.
James is an internationally renowned bestselling author, filmmaker and musician who has a reputation for traveling to some of the world’s greatest areas of conflict to share his message of peace. He has been called ‘The Peace Troubadour’ and has performed his Peace Concert in countries like Iraq, Northern Ireland, South Africa, Bosnia and Serbia, drawing millions of people together in prayer to influence events of world crisis.
James has written 10 books, including Emissary of Light, Emissary of Love, and most recently, The Moses Code. He has also produced or directed four films including the award-winning Indigo, and will soon release the film version of The Moses Code. His CDs have inspired hundreds of thousands of people. His performances at the United Nations, the US Capitol, and the Pentagon, as well as grassroots projects like The Cloth of Many Colors, have made him one of the most influential spiritual peacemakers in the world.
James is also the president of the Beloved Community, an interreligious organization that has ordained over 400 ministers of peace around the world, and he is the founder of the Seminary of Spiritual Peacemaking.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: James, thank you so much for being with us. It’s such an absolute pleasure and great honor.
JAMES TWYMAN: It’s an honor to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me. It’s funny listening to your introduction. I’m usually so in the moment of whatever we’re creating right then that I don’t often look back to get a perspective. It’s kind of fun to hear all of those things and feel the passion of each one of them as if they were happening right now.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Isn’t that wonderful? Being able to hear them, I think, lays the foundation for us being able to be here in this moment and really explore James Twyman in depth. We’re so glad we can do that. Can we begin by asking you what role your passions, those things that you care most about, have played in your life and in your success?
JAMES TWYMAN: Chris, that’s a great question, and it’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I’ve actually been thinking a lot about something that happened to me when I was about 14 years old. There was a conversation I had with my father that really set a foundation, or was a beginning, for so many of the things that I’ve done in my life.
I remember at that time there were quite a few things that I was passionate about. I loved to write. I was an actor. I was a magician. I was, of course, a musician. My father one day told me that I had to focus on just one of these things; I couldn’t do them all. You can’t do that. You need to do just one thing. I remember, even then, thinking, I don’t like that attitude because I don’t want to choose. I want to be able to do all of these things.
Even with all of those things that I really enjoy doing, there was one passion that overrode them all, and that was the passion for spirits. At that time, I was raised in a very Catholic family, and that was my foundation; that was my framework. For me, that meant studying the esoteric teachings of Christianity, even praying my Rosary every day. I was so passionate about all of those things.
When I was 18 I became a Franciscan. What’s really fun now is to look and to realize that I’ve been able to take all of those things that I was passionate about when I was 14-it wasn’t that I wanted to prove my father wrong-and accomplish something with each of those items. To have accomplished them in this particular way is even more satisfying because it hasn’t been for the ego purposes.
It hasn’t been so that I could be a rock star or the biggest-selling author in the world or anything like that. It’s really been because of my passion to experience and express these spiritual truths and to be able to do that through the music, through the writing, through speaking all over the world, to making movies and such. I cannot think of a better life, and I’m so grateful to be living it right now.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: One of the things that we say in The Passion Test is that the secret that guarantees a passionate life is whenever you’re faced with a choice, a decision or an opportunity, choose in favor of your passions. It sounds like you’ve done that in your life.
JAMES TWYMAN: I have, and to be honest with you I don’t know if I could have done anything else. When I was young, right out of college, and trying to live the life that society told me I should be living, I was in many ways denying those passions. It was causing me great pain. I had always known that I was here on the planet to accomplish something significant, or at least to accomplish something that would bring each one of us and humanity closer to realizing that divine purpose.
To be able to do that now, many years later-really it was painful not to do it-to feel that passion and to express that passion in so many different ways is an enormous gift to me. I’m so grateful and honored that I can touch other people. For me, I guess, ultimately we teach what we need to learn; we practice what we want to experience. For me to have the opportunity to do that has been a great gift.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Will you tell us the story of how you got started on this path, from being a Franciscan monk to being ‘The Peace Troubadour’ to writing so many books, including this wonderful one, The Moses Code, which we’ll talk about in a few minutes. How did it all start, and how did you come to go to areas of conflict to do concerts of all things?
JAMES TWYMAN: As with many things in our life, and perhaps everything in our life, there are many different threads that we can look back at to see how each choice led to all these different experiences; but it is funny how everything does weave together in my case. As I said, when I was 18 I became a Franciscan because that was where I could express the passion that I understood at that time.
It wasn’t until later in life that I began to stretch beyond the normal framework of the Catholic Church and realize that there was so much more; there was incredible beauty in all the different spiritual paths. There was something that happened that I remember hearing about back in 1986, and it happened in my favorite town in the world, which is Assisi, which is the home of Saint Francis.
It was the first time in history that the leaders of the 12 major religions of the world came together to pray for peace in Assisi, a village that’s dedicated to peace. The Pope was there representing Christianity; the Dalai Lama was there representing Buddhism, and on and on. They didn’t come together to argue or discuss. They came together simply to pray the peace prayers from each religion.
I remember hearing about that and feeling that this was a pivotal moment. So often we come together to focus on the ways that we’re different, not the ways that we’re the same. To know that each religion does have that longing for peace, does have a peace prayer, and to come together in that way to express it, I thought, was really a revolutionary idea.
It wasn’t until years later actually, back in 1994, that a friend of mine gave me a sheet of paper that had those peace prayers that were prayed there in Assisi in 1986. I had them in my drawer, and they were sitting there for a week or so, and I hadn’t read them. One day I opened up the drawer and saw them. I took them out and began to read first the Hindu prayer of peace, which went, Oh, God, lead us from the unreal to real. Oh, God, lead us from darkness into light. Oh, God, lead us from death to immortality. Shanti, Shanti, Shanti unto all.
I remember as I was reading that prayer that I heard music. I literally was not sure if the music was coming from the next room or if was coming from within me. I remember that it was almost an altered state. I picked up my guitar and began just to play along with the music that I was hearing. The music was going with this prayer, and I began to sing the Hindu prayer of peace.
It arranged itself to music, and it took no more than five minutes to put that prayer to music. Then I began to read the Buddhist prayer and the same thing happened, and then the Muslim and the Christian prayers, one after another, until I looked at the clock. Only an hour had passed and I had just put all 12 of those prayers to music. I have to say that that was the moment when everything changed, Chris.
My passion really had always been my music. Of all the gifts that I love to express, I’d have to say that my music is the one that touches me most deeply. To have these prayers and to receive this gift in that way was an incredible gift. I remember, even very early on, thinking that a peace troubadour, which is what they were calling me then, should be willing to go to where peace was needed.
This was at the time when the Balkan war was raging. I decided that I should go to Bosnia and Croatia and I should just share these prayers. If we could just stop and get out of our heads a little bit, then maybe we could prayer together and something miraculous would occur. I was setting off to go to Assisi for a conference that I was invited to sing at, and I figured while I was over there I should try to find someone to invite me to Croatia or Bosnia.
I sent out letters to all of the different peace and humanitarian organizations there. Finally, it was while I was in Assisi that one of them responded and said, Please come. That was the adventure that ultimately led to my first book, Emissary of Light. When I was there I met this community of spiritual masters who called themselves The Emissaries. Talk about passion! These were men and women who would come together every night, and they would meditate around a 12-spoked wheel from midnight until noon.
They said that the reason they were doing that was to assist humanity energetically in the moment that we all believe that we’re in now, which is the moment when we are ready, finally, once and for all, to step into a new world, to create the world of our dreams based upon compassion and love rather than fear and competition. As I said, one thing led to another.
First, the Franciscans, then the peace prayers, then going to these war zones, then having the chance to travel to many other war zones, and ultimately finding what I found with those prayers, which is that we’re all the same. We’re really not that different.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Speak a little bit about that, because some people would look and say, There are so many differences. As you mentioned, oftentimes we have a tendency to look at the differences rather than what we have in common. Speak a little bit about what you found in going to all these different areas that people had in common.
JAMES TWYMAN: First of all, in every situation I was going to a country where it was perceived that I was in great danger, like in going to Bosnia. I was in Sarajevo in the midst of the conflict there. Croatia was the first place. Yet, in each situation all I every really found were people just like you and me-beautiful, lovely people-who were working for peace.
Even when I was meeting the soldiers, even when I was meeting the people who had been persecuted, even when I was meeting the persecutors, still there was something, a resonance, within each one of us that I was able to feel and to touch. I usually say that even though I’ve traveled to these war zones, I’ve never found the war. All I’ve ever really found were incredible people.
I think that was most epitomized in action when I was invited by Saddam Hussein to come to Iraq in 1998. This was at a time when the US had pulled the inspectors out and it was looking very dire; it looked like another bombing campaign was on the way. It was obvious that the Iraqi government inviting me was a bit of a publicity stunt, but that’s all right. You can do that every day with me if you want; I don’t mind!
I did a concert there at the National Theatre, and it was broadcast on Iraqi television. After the concert, I remember, they had a party for me and the two people I came with, and it was one of the best parties I’ve ever been to. All we did was sit around and sing Simon and Garfunkel songs all night long. It was extraordinary to be in Baghdad singing Simon and Garfunkel with the whole room just singing along.
These were supposed to be our enemies. I realized through that story and so many others that we are the same. There are differences, but they’re differences that can be loved and honored and blessed. When we realize that, ultimately, deep down what we’re searching for is peace for ourselves and our families and the world, then maybe we can come together in that one desire.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: It’s so true. Could you share with us a little bit about what your observations were beyond the experience of being there? What was the impact of doing concerts in those areas? Beyond you meeting those people, were you aware of any effect or influence that the concerts themselves had?
JAMES TWYMAN: Actually, yes. In 1998 when I first went to Iraq, it was a rather sudden invitation. I was in London doing a book tour. I was on the radio, and I made an off-handed remark saying that I wanted to go to Baghdad and sing the Muslim prayer to Saddam Hussein. I didn’t really think anybody would listen to that; but next thing I knew, I was invited the next day to come and visit with the Iraqi ambassador to Great Britain. He said, I could set that up for you if you’re really serious.
Literally three days later I was on my way. I remember I let my agent know. At that time, in 1998, I didn’t even have an email address. The Internet was pretty new. I told my agent. She had a few hundred people on her list, so she decided to send an email out to everyone on her list asking them to be praying with them at the same time this concert was going on.
That email was the first time, I believe, that we began to realize the viral impact of the Internet. Of course, those people forwarded it on to more people, who forwarded it on to more people still. By the time I did that concert, there were millions of people who were aware of it and were praying. I remember being there in the theatre feeling like it was raining prayer.
All we know is that before that concert there did not seem to be any possibility of a peaceful conclusion. Kofi Annan was arriving the next day, or maybe even that same day. Still, there was not much hope that Kofi Annan could do anything to solve this, but something shifted. I know it did. We could feel it, all of us who were there. To our great surprise, three days later a peace accord was signed. Was it because of that?
It was almost like, Let’s see if this is real. I was invited a week later to Northern Ireland where the different parties were fighting, and they were trying to come up with a peace agreement for Northern Ireland. People were getting kicked out of the meetings. They invited me to come there to sing the prayer of Saint Francis. The same thing happened: we sent out an email, people responded, everything shifted, and three days later the peace accord was signed.
This has happened over and over, Chris. Since then, we’ve begun to quantify this, to actually use this to see results. In Israel, for example, when we did this with massive numbers of people, we saw the crime and the hospital rates drop 30% during that day. This is a real technology; this is not just a powerful force. I believe that when we come together in this way and feel this ancient modality of prayer that many people talk about, that it is the most powerful force in the whole universe.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: That’s remarkable. Is there ongoing research or ongoing activity in terms of actually looking at these sorts of impacts beyond what you’ve shared with us?
JAMES TWYMAN: There is, actually. It’s really becoming the thing these days, which is very exciting. You may have heard of this referred to before as the Maharishi Effect, because it was originally experimented with the TM meditators. They would have a certain number of people-usually one-tenth of 1% of the population-meditating for about a month. They would actually watch and graph the decline in the crime rate. That is being done right now as we speak, actually, in Dallas, so there is a major experiment that’s been going on for several months in Dallas.
I know there are other groups that are trying to focus this for the whole world. There are scientists in Princeton who use, I think, the Schumann Resonance frequency of the planet, like the heartbeat of the planet, to actually show that this is a real, tangible change that occurs. Yes, it’s very exciting to see how science and spirituality today are merging and supporting one another to show just how powerful our mass consciousness is.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: It is, absolutely. I want to move into the topic of your latest book. I know that what we’ve been talking about is directly related, but the book is called The Moses Code. Is there a relationship between The Moses Code and this effect that an individual or groups of individuals can have on events or experiences in the world?
JAMES TWYMAN: I think there is a relationship, though I didn’t draw a direct one in the book itself. The relationship is that what we’ve discussed and what we’ll talk about here as being The Moses Code is, I think, the formula or the foundation for the miracle process. It comes originally from a story, which many of us have heard, that took place 3,500 years ago when Moses was at the burning bush.
God told him to do what seemed impossible, to go to the pharaoh, the most powerful man in the world, and to demand that he release his entire workforce, meaning the Israelite slaves. It would be like God appearing in your backyard in a burning bush and telling you to go to George Bush, another burning bush, to tell him to end the war. It would seem impossible, but this is what Moses was asked to do.
Yet Moses, apparently being pretty astute, asked a question that had never been asked before. He asked God for the sacred name. He said, Who shall I say sent me? Up until then, at least from a Judeo perspective, there was no name of God. What God said in that moment was in Hebrew, which is often translated, ‘I am that I am’. It was believed that the name of God was so sacred that it could not be spoken.
In some cases, it was actually punished with death. The energy and the true intention of that name were lost for thousands of years. People did not understand that what God gave Moses in that moment was not just given to Moses or the Israelites, but it was given to each one of us. This is so that we can understand that it is through the ‘I am’ presence and whatever it is that each one of us chooses to claim or to draw into our lives, that the experience of ‘I am that’ promotes and stimulates an experience of oneness where I literally become one with that thing.
I cannot attract something that I’m one with. When I am one with it, it is automatically attracted into my life, and that’s why miracles are natural. When I enter into the ‘I am’ experience, which is what Moses did in helping to release the Israelites, then the response is automatic and it’s miraculous. To answer your question, I think there is a direct relationship between The Moses Code and these occurrences, because more and more of us are becoming what I call miracle-minded.
We’re beginning to realize that we do have the ability to create miracles, which is just the realigning of our perception with the world around us, our experience of the world around us. As more and more people do that, then I think the problems that we’re seeing in the world today will simply dissolve into the experience of the ‘I am’ presence. Some people call it heaven on earth, Shambhala, and many other things. Even in spite of the difficulties and the situations that we see now, I do believe that that is a very real phenomenon.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: What occurs to me as you’re speaking, James, is this. When I have the thought, You are my enemy, I’m basically saying, I am your enemy. I am adopting that experience as the truth of who I am. That’s what I’m hearing you say; therefore, as long as I do that, I’m an enemy, right?
JAMES TWYMAN: That’s right. You’re literally using the name of God to make that real. There is power in that name. There is power in all the names of God. If we want to go even deeper and look at the Kabbalahistic meanings and intricacies of these names, we can see that there are ancient alchemic formulas within these names that the great Kabbalahists were aware of. This is why they’re so powerful.
When you say, I am your enemy, you are literally drawing in the power of God to make that so, but if you say, I am that oneness, that communion, that friendship, then the exact same thing happens. This energy and this power can be directed through our consciousness in whatever way we choose to direct it. By using the ‘I am’ presence, what I call The Moses Code, I think we can begin to use it to change the world.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: It sounds to me as if most people in the world, almost all, have been using the ‘I am’ presence to create what they don’t want or choose to have because they’re been doing it unconsciously. Is that true?
JAMES TWYMAN: Absolutely. If we want to look at the Law of Attraction and everything we’ve heard about in the The Secret, for some people this is a new revelation. They think, Wow! I can begin to use this to create what I want in my life. The actual truth is you’ve always been using this. You can’t not use it. Everything in your life is there because you drew it there, because you actually used the ‘I am’ presence to create it, whether it be good, bad or indifferent.
We have the power to create whatever it is we choose, and we are wielding this power unconsciously. If we’re wielding it through our fears rather than through the consciousness of love, then we’re going to be creating more of that in our lives, and we literally use the name of God to manifest our greater separation in the world that we live in now. It’s funny, The Moses Code idea really came about largely because I saw The Secret.
On one hand, I was really glad that there was a movie, and then ultimately a book, out there that millions of people were finding and had access to. I was really glad that these people were realizing that they did have the power to change their lives and attract what they wanted. At the same time, I felt that if a deeper understanding was not brought to it, that it could be very dangerous.
So much of The Secret was focused on how I can get all those things I believe I do not have, and if I could only get them everything would be different. I think we all know by now that it doesn’t work that way. Even when it works, even when you do get the things you want-the relationship, the house, the car, or whatever it might be that you’re focusing on and using The Secret to attract-nothing changes.
That’s because the longing that starts the process, the longing that we feel within us, is not coming from our ego. It’s not coming from the desire to get; it’s coming from the desire to give, which only comes from our soul. That’s what I think the power of The Moses Code is. The Moses Code is about soul manifestation, not ego manifestation. I did put on the cover of the book a subtitle, which was The Most Powerful Manifestation Tool in the History of the World.
I figured that would grab a few people and make them curious; but ultimately the reason it’s the most powerful manifestation tool in the history of the world is because it is the power of divinity. It’s the power of God in our lives. It’s by knowing that we are one with that power that we can create what we really want, which are all the manifestations of the soul: peace, love, compassion, and all the things that are going to truly satisfy us.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Are there any stories that you can share with us in your own life or in the lives of people who you’ve known who have used this principle, and what have been the results of it?
JAMES TWYMAN: There was one thing in the very beginning that I did to try to prove this to myself. I wanted to have an experiment to create something miraculous with The Moses Code that would prove to me that this was truly an inspired revelation. At that time, I had a book coming out called The Art of Spiritual Peacemaking. I was writing The Moses Code at that time, and I decided that I wanted to use The Moses Code to see if I could make The Art of Spiritual Peacemaking the number-one bestselling book in the world the day of its release.
At that point, I’d had about eight books come out. Several of them had done very well, but none of them had ever been a number-one bestseller. For this to happen on the day of its release would take a miracle, without question. That’s what I set my sights on. What I did was I actually had color copies made of the cover of the book, and I put those color copies all over my house: in the kitchen, in the living room, in the bathroom.
Whenever I passed them I would stop, I would look at the picture of the book, and I would feel the emotion of it being a number-one bestseller the day of its release. Then I would chant The Moses Code for a moment. Usually the way I do that is I say on the out-breath, I am that…, and then when I breathe in I say, …I am. It’s, I am that I am, with a whisper on the ‘I am’.
I’m doing that as I’m feeling that this is a number-one bestseller. I would do this for a couple of months, and while I did that I had ideas that came to me and promotional concepts. Finally the day of the release came. Oddly enough, it was on 06-06-06, June 6th, 2006. I figured I really had it going against me already. You can track this on Amazon. I remember the day before the book was released it was 10,000-something, so it had a long way to go to get to number one in one day.
The next day all the marketing was hitting. I went and checked in the morning, and it jumped to about 99. That was a big jump, but still nowhere near number one. By noon, it was, I think, number 10. I would go back every hour and it would go up one or two places. I think it was finally around 3:00 or 3:30 PM when I went and checked, and The Art of Spiritual Peacemaking had become the number-two bestselling book in the world. Then I thought, It’s going to turn number one any moment now.
Hour after hour, for many hours, it didn’t move. I remember actually thinking that the book that was number one at that time was a soft-cover book, so I remember even rationalizing by saying, Mine’s a hardcover, so it’s the number-one bestselling hardcover in the world, but that wasn’t good enough. I stayed with it, and it was finally, I think, around 9:00 that night that it jumped to the number-one spot and stayed there for about a day-and-a-half.
To me, that was confirmation. I don’t know how it works. I wish I could tell you how it works, but we don’t need to know. All I know is that there is something unlocked within us when we consider the possibility that we are one with the Divine and draw from that experience of oneness to create and manifest the dreams that will serve not only us, but humanity and the entire world.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Will you talk a little bit more about this? What exactly do you see as the significance of The Moses Code both for individuals, and then also for the world as a whole? You mentioned earlier that we’re moving into a new time. Will you talk just a little bit about that?