Janet Attwood: Welcome, everyone, to this month’s installment of the Passions of Real Life Legends.
Standing in as co-host for Chris Attwood, who is in Holland, is my great friend, Paul Scheele. Paul is the co-founder of a wonderful company called Learning Strategies – a premier provider of self-improvement, education and health programs.
Paul Scheele: Thanks, Janet. You know our guest this month, Neale Donald Walsch, is really a modern-day spiritual messenger whose words touch the world in profound ways. With an early interest in religion and a deeply felt connection to spirituality, Neale spent the majority of his life thriving professionally, yet searching for spiritual meaning before beginning.
That all came about before beginning his now famous conversation with God. His Conversations with God books have been translated into 27 languages, touching millions of people and inspiring important changes in their day-to-day lives. Each of the dialogue books has been on the New York Times best-seller list, and the Conversations with God Book number 1 occupied that list for over two and half years.
In addition to authoring the book series, Neale has published 12 other works, as well as a number of video and audio programs. And in order to deal with the enormous response to his writings, Neale and his wife, Nancy Fleming-Walsch, created the Conversations with God Foundation, a non-profit educational organization dedicated to inspiring the world to help itself to move from violence to peace, from confusion to clarity, from anger to love.
Neale’s work has taken him throughout the world and he’s found a hunger among people to find a new way to live, in peace and harmony, and he has sought to bring people a new understanding of life and of God. He joins us today on Passions of Real Life Legends. Neale, welcome!
Neale Walsch: Well thank you, it’s nice to be here with you.
Paul Scheele: Neale what we’re really interested in knowing is the role that passions played in your life in the emergence of Conversations with God.
Could you tell us the story from your perspective of how your conversation and your book came into being?
Neale Walsch: I’d be happy to, but I want to preface it by saying that it really isn’t my story that’s important. That doesn’t mean that I won’t tell it, because I will. But really, the message of the Conversations with God books is so astonishing and so revolutionary, so life-changing for people all over the globe, as to really dwarf any importance that my particular story would have.
The fact is that God is talking to all of us, all the time, and if we begin to tell the stories of all the people who’ve heard from God in their lifetime, and how did you come to hear from God and how did you come to hear from God and how did it happen to you? Why, we’d be on this call for the next 75 years and not get through one percent of the stories.
So I’m happy to summarize here, in about five or six sentences, my story. I was simply at a point in my life where nothing was working.
My relationship was going down hill. My career had reached a dead end. My health was in terrible shape, and like many of us have come to, I came to a point where I didn’t understand. I thought that I had done everything right. I thought I had obeyed all the rules, more or less.
I thought that I had done what I needed to do, by and large, to produce a life that would bring me greater satisfaction and greater joy and fewer complications than I was experiencing. As a matter of fact, in my life, all of this was happening at one time, in one six or eight-month period.
I found that my relationship with my significant other was crumbling. My job had literally disappeared. They downsized me; I was out of work, and my health had deteriorated tremendously, and this was all happening in the same period of time.
I woke up and I called out to the God of my understanding, What does it take to make life work? I don’t understand. What is it that I’m missing here, that I don’t understand? I was 49, going on 50, so I had been on the planet one half of a century and I had very little to show for it.
Not that success is necessarily measured by the material things we have, but on the other hand when you’re practically down to nothing after 50 years, you have to ask yourself, What’s been the point of all this and what have I not learned yet, that I’m supposed to know, in order to make some sense of all of this?
So that’s briefly my story, without getting into the month-by-month details of it. It doesn’t differ, frankly, from the story of many people, if not most people. My experience, as I’ve talked about this around the world the past 12 years is that almost everyone at some point in their life or another, gets to that place that we would call the nadir of our existence, the lowest point that we’ve had in our lives, when whatever the particular circumstances, we wake up in the middle of the night and say, What’s going on? What have I missed? What don’t I understand?
That’s the issue. That’s the point here, and every human being faces that dark night of the soul, and that’s where the messages of Conversations with God have been salvific. They’ve changed the lives of people all over the world, and rightly they should because these are the messages of all the world’s great religions rolled into one, of all the world’s great wisdom traditions, rolled into one.
These are the messages that we have been sent from the beginning of time and they are all here in one place, in these few books, and so they represent an astonishing resource for humanity in my opinion.
Paul Scheele: Neale, are you saying that it’s a prerequisite for humans to go into that dark night of the soul to, if you will, be the Cinderella story?
Neale Walsch: Thank you for asking that question. It’s a wonderful question, and is a good place to start because, NO, it is not a prerequisite.
The trouble is that most people, myself included, have not developed a true relationship with God, not a really workable two-way functioning relationship with God. I’m not saying no one, I’m saying most people.
Frankly, many do not seek to until that dark night of the soul; until things come crashing down and then we call out, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Paul Scheele: So often people turn to God and say, Give me the strength to do this. What’s your view on how I can find the reserves within me to take action?
Neale Walsch: Well, you are really asking very, very good questions here, my friend. These are not idle inquiries, and that is, of course, the central question, and I want to tell you something in a moment of candor and true transparency. I ask myself that question every day. I wish I could sit here in this conversation and tell you, Well, I’ve got that one solved. Oh my goodness, after my conversations, that’s the easy one!
But instead, it’s the hardest one of all, and even I, and I say even I, because people imagine that I’m something that I’m not – some kind of an accomplished master or sitting guru or someone who’s come to end of the line and have all these questions answered and everything’s solved, but in fact, my life demonstrates that everything except that is true. That is not true at all.
Probably why I have been allowed to be a messenger, because I’m a very flawed messenger. I’m really James Thurber’s every man. I’m not on the other side of this mountain. I’m climbing the same mountain even now, after 15 books. So let me tell you that you’ve asked the question of the hour for me and for, I’m sure, everyone on this telephone call.
Now, I have some ideas about it. I don’t think it’s a bad idea to ask God for the strength. I like to personify God in moments when it serves me to do so, and so I will create God as a personal God and I will say to God, just exactly those words, Give me the strength, give me the courage, give me the equipment, give me whatever I need here in order to apply what I’ve come to understand, what I’ve come to know, what I’ve come to learn as part of my functioning, day-to-day reality.
But I’ve also shifted just a little bit. I supplicate a lot less these days. What I mean by that is I ask God, or beg God for, a lot less than I used to in the old days, I find, and Conversations with God has taught me, that supplication or praying to God in an asking or requesting kind of manner, really isn’t the most effective kind of prayer, because it suggests, of course, that something other than the outcome we desire is possible, otherwise we wouldn’t be asking, and that places in the space of those other possible outcomes.
What Conversations with God has taught me to know is that even before I ask, I will have been answered, and the question is not whether or not I’m going to get the answer I want, but whether I can open my perception sufficiently to allow myself to experience that the answer has already been given to me.
One of the prayers, therefore, and it’s right in Conversations with God… I’m quoting directly from the book tonight, all over the place, as I’m sure that the listeners are observing. One of the prayers, my favorite prayer that I now say is (and this is a direct answer to your question, by the way, how do I put it in my life), Thank you, God. Thank you God, for helping me to understand that this problem has already been solved for me.
So I move into prayers of gratitude much more these days than prayers of supplication. I walk around thanking God all over the place, in advance, not after the fact, but in advance of experiencing, receiving and manifesting what I wish to experience in my life.
Secondly, the second level of how I seek to put these outcomes and manifestations into my life, how I seek to apply what I’ve learned in my every day life, is that I create a life for myself where my chief activity is assisting others in bringing these outcomes and these results into their lives.
In other words, I’ve use the Conversations with God teaching at a very high level, the teaching that says, Be the source. Everything that you wish to receive in your own life, be the source of that in the life of another. Or, to put it simply, give to another person what you wish the universe to give to yourself. Or, as one of our great masters said, in his own words, Do unto others as you would have it done unto you.
So what I do in my life is I have set up a series of activities in which I spend the largest portion of my life time in sharing with others and empowering others and causing others to know what I imagine myself to know.
Not as if I were a master, speaking from the mountaintop, but candidly and openly and freely admitting my own failures, my own weaknesses, describing my own place in humanity’s struggle to reach a higher state of evolution, but sharing with people, openly and freely, what it is I imagine myself to know, the messages that have been given to me, so that others may be empowered to experience the truth and the wonder of those messages in their lives.
Paul Scheele: Yes, and I think that’s what’s so powerful for me in that, is having come up in spiritual traditions that say you really have to suffer and remove your sins to be worthy to meet God. It almost is a cop out that gives me kind of a relief. I don’t have to step up, I don’t have to play big.
I don’t have to be here in service to the Divine if I’m busy putting myself down, yet when you talk about your own failures, neither do you hold those up as sins or something unworthy of the work that you’re doing, nor do you hold them as badges to say that you’re better than anyone else. There really is no superiority here, anywhere, not only on the planet, but in our relationship with God.
Neale Walsch: That’s exactly how I experienced it. I don’t have a value judgment that I place on myself or on others in regard to my behaviors or theirs. I just notice that I’m doing what I’m doing and I’m not doing what I’m not doing, then I look to see whether that works, whether that benefits me, whether it’s functional or dysfunctional, and I move to the next level of my evolution as I begin to respond to what I’m observing within myself and within others.
And I don’t have any sense of shame or guilt around my mistakes, errors or faults. You’re perfectly right. I don’t judge myself about it, nor do I judge others for theirs. I’m remarkably, I must say, judgment free, although it took me half a century to get here. And then I got here in that one blessed moment when I realized that God was not going to judge me.
In that moment I was freed of 50 years, a half century of conditioning that I was going to be judged by God. That conditioning, of course, allowed me in turn to judge everyone else in my life, and I did so quite freely and quite openly.
But in the moment, in that blessed moment when I realized that God was never going to judge me, never going to condemn me, never going to punish me, and for that matter wasn’t going to necessarily reward me, that I was not living in a reward and punishment universe, but I was living in a universe of constant growth and continual evolution, which is entirely different.
In the moment that was revealed to me, I was revealed to myself. That is, my true self was made accessible to my make-believe self, and I began to experience and to express through me, in each of the moments of my life, those grander and larger truths as I interacted with other people.
Life is a process that informs life about life itself through the process of life itself.
Paul Scheele: The freedom that comes from really knowing deeply that you’ll never be judged by God is profoundly liberating. When you wrote that we are all led to the truth for which we are ready, to me that’s an important one, because for years, when given an opportunity to really expand into a greater truth about who I am, to get into a greater expression of who I am, the feeling that was there for me wasn’t one of freedom.
It was a feeling of not being ready. That’s what would come up. It was as if my mind was saying, like a state, highway patrol officer, Put your hands on your head and back away from your truth! The immediate, pullback response to my question is: how can we know that we’re ready to expand into this greater truth when it doesn’t feel like we’re ready?
Neale Walsch: Make someone else ready. Take the focus off yourself. Stop all this focus on the self. My whole life changed when I stopped asking questions like that. With respect, I know you’re asking the question for intellectual reasons and it’s a very good question, but in life, I don’t ask myself those questions anymore.
There was a time in my life when I was asking all sorts of introspective questions like that, How can I know when I’m ready? How can I help myself be a better person? What does it take to make life work? all the questions that I asked at the beginning of my dialogue.
But at some point, God said to me, Do you know what, Neale? I want to tell you something, and this is going to be kind of hard for you to grasp, but just be with the information and see how it feels to you. Your life is not about you. Your life has nothing to do with you.
The day you stop asking any questions about you at all and ask only questions about everyone else whose life you touch, on that day you’ll be free of this constant mental pressure to know, to understand, to burst through, to break forth, to emerge and to evolve, because it’s not about you.
It’s about everyone else whose life you touch, and having decided that that is what’s true, you’ll discover that everything you’ve been trying to produce in your own life will be produced there without effort, and that is because what you do for another will be done unto you because there’s only one of us in the room.
And your thought is that there’s more than one being on the planet. You have this imagining that everyone is separate from everyone else, and that you have nothing to do with everyone else, and so of course, your main concern is how you can survive, how you can evolve, how you can grow, how you can solve your problems.
It’s all about you, you, you, you, you, and in truth, it really is about you, but it’s about the larger you, the universal you, the you that you see all around you, and when you get the focus off the minute part of you that you call the self and onto the largest part of you, that you happen to call in your vocabulary, ‘everybody else,’ in that moment, everything shifts and everything changes, and you truly do become the savior of all humankind.
Paul Scheele: Could you share some examples from your own life of how you faced some of lifes obstacles and overcame them?
Neale Walsch: I’m not concerned with myself anymore. You’re asking me again to turn inward, and in the old days, I guess I overcame obstacles the hard way, and it took 50 years, which was the point that I was making at the outset of this conversation. It took a half a century to overcome really, frankly, rather minor obstacles that I had in my life.
Now if you asked me that question today, I would say to you, I don’t have obstacles in my life because I don’t experience them as obstacles, even though the conditions that you and others might call obstacle exists, I might catch a cold, I might have an illness, I might even be terminally ill for that matter.
I might lose my job or lose a loved one or face some other kind of condition that people would call an obstacle, but I no longer call it that. I just look at that and say, ‘Oh, so, that’s what’s true now? And who am I in relationship to this and who do I choose to be?’
And in the moment of embracing and accepting that which I would have opposed in years past, in the moment of embracing and accepting that, I transform my experience of it, not the outer condition, but transform my inner experience of it such that it no longer becomes obstaclear to me.
That is, it’s not an obstacle. I just made up a word, obstaclear. It’s a wonderful new word that we all should learn how to use! And so it no longer becomes obstaclear to me, it’s no longer an obstacle because I transform it right in front of my face by transforming my inner experience of it.
I refuse to see it as an obstacle, but merely rather as a condition of the moment that allows me to express and experience, to announce and declare, to become and fulfill who I really am.
Paul Scheele: The texture of that response is so different than what I grew up with as positive thinking. Here’s an obstacle. I’m going to think positively about it and the obstacle will go away, but what you’re doing is going to the substrata of what you have, in the past, perceived as an obstacle and say, There is no reality to this other than what I give it, and so by really owning, this is your perfect creation in this moment, it’s here to bring you to your truth, there’s an openness that I don’t get if I’m trying to work on myself in a self-improvement kind of way. Do you understand what I’m saying?
Neale Walsch: That is correct. What you resist persists, and what you look at, disappears. That is, it ceases to have its illusory form. It is a profoundly different nuance in terms of how we approach the so-called obstacles of our lives.
Paul Scheele: It’s central to an idea that you present that God is the observer, not the creator of life’s circumstances or conditions. To say that God is not the creator is a huge blasphemy if it’s presented in certain contexts.
Neale Walsch: I’ve got a bigger blasphemy than that in my new book, that’s out this month called What God Wants. There’s an even larger blasphemy, and I hope people will take that book to heart, because that book can change the world. I consider it to be the most important book that has ever come through me.
It suggests that God wants nothing at all, zero, zip, nothing, that God has no desires and wants nothing from us.
Therefore, demands nothing from us, therefore requires absolutely nothing from us. The idea of a God who wants nothing, who has no preference in the matter of how human beings live there lives, is an idea that is an anathema to virtually every major religious tradition on the planet, which is based, of course, upon an entirely different set of thoughts, that there are things that God wants, you’d better believe it, and if you don’t give God what God wants, woe be unto you, as the nuns used to say in my Roman Catholic elementary school, Woe be unto you.
So we now are constructing a new idea about God of this planet, and about what it is that God wants, and we are beginning to embrace the possibility that we may have been all wrong about everything with regard to this experience that we call divinity. What if divinity, in fact, wanted nothing at all in particular, except to supply us with the power and the energy and the source and the force to create whatever it is that we want?
That’s exactly what’s happening on the planet right now, and we are not making very smart choices about what we are saying that we want, and often we make those bad choices out of a misunderstanding of what we think that God wants. This is what allows us to fly airplanes into buildings, all the while shouting, Allah is great!
This is what allows us to drop bombs on the homes of hundreds of thousands of civilians. Bombs paid for with coins on which it is written, In God we trust. We imagine ourselves to be doing God’s bidding, to be fighting God’s holy war, and to be doing God’s will, and if we say that God has no will in the matter whatsoever, the whole house of cards comes crumbling and tumbling down, and we have to admit to ourselves that we’re making it all up.
If we’re making it all up, why in the world are we doing it this way? And those are the fundamental questions that humanity is being forced to address at this time, and I would say we have about 25 or 30 years to address those questions forthrightly, because if we continue with our present behaviors for that short period of time, we’re not going to be here any further to ask these kinds of questions. Life as we know it cannot sustain itself if we continue moving in our present direction.
Janet Attwood: Hi, Neale. This is so incredible and I’m just bursting here from this.
Many people feel very lost that they don’t really know, How do I live the will of God?
You’ve said, Destiny is self-created, and how it has changed for me is how I have changed. Can you speak some more about that?
Neale Walsch: There is no such thing as the will of God, and the profound book, What God Wants, drives right to that point. It asks the question, What would life be like, what would your life be like, what would life on the planet be like, if we thought for one moment that the phrase ‘the will of God’ was something we made up and that there is no such thing as the will of God?
And I know, again, I know that’s blasphemy. We’re talking apostasy here. This is high level, theological revolution. On the other hand, if we impassioned that it was true, everything would change, because then of course, responsibility for our own lives, for the decisions and choices we’re making, and for what we are becoming, lies and remains where it always was, where it is now and where it always will be, with us.
That was the shift that occurred inside of my soul. That was the change that I refer to when I said, The change in me. When I got that I was responsible, that there was no one else sending me a message, giving me a mission, requiring me to do anything or to be anything or to have anything, that it wasn’t life or God or anything outside of me, but – and here’s where the circle becomes complete – that it was.
It wasn’t life or God or anything outside of me, and it was. It was life and God, but not outside of me; inside of me, acting in, as, and through me, when I got very clear that there’s no such thing as separation, of me from God or of me from any aspect of life whatsoever.
When I got very clear, that separation theology, what I call ‘asseveration’ theology, turns out to be inaccurate. I’m not going to say, turns out to be a lie, because I don’t think it’s a deliberate attempt to falsify anything, but turns out to be simply a simplistic and inaccurate understanding of the universe and how it works.
When I discovered that and shifted the paradigm of my experience, everything changed and I began taking responsibility for myself and I began saying, Oh, I get it. I understand it. My destiny is my will, or as God said in Conversations With God, in one poignant and extraordinary sentence, My will for you is your will for you.
Janet Attwood: Would you say that what you love to do, what you’re passionate about inside – is also God inside of you?
Neale Walsch: Yes, absolutely, and I never, never deny that. And I never deny my passion. The problem in my earlier life was that I was denying my passion. Starting when I was seven years old, my father said, You are to be seen and not heard, and I tried to find a way to get small, because my father wanted me to. It began there.
My father wasn’t a bad man. He wasn’t a terrible person, just the way we were raised. We were all raised with that, be seen and not heard, don’t show off, and all the rest, until… And it was Jesus who said, Do not hide your light under a bushel, and so what happened to me was, I began to finally, slowly but surely, after 50 years…
Understand, we’re talking about more than half of a lifetime, in fact, the better part of a lifetime. Half a century on the planet, and then I woke up and said, Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. What would happen if I listened to my passions and allowed them to emerge through me, as me? What would happen if I stopped denying what drives the engine of my soul? And then I exploded, burst forth and emerged.
Paul Scheele: There’s something so profound in this. So often people come to me and they say, How can I figure out what my life’s purpose is? What’s my destiny? What are my dreams? and what I’m hearing is this is sort of the last gasp of trying to cling to those attachments, trying to make my life work in a world that it doesn’t seem like I can make my life work.
I’m almost lost trying to do it the old way with the wrong set of assumptions about why I’m here, so they look to outside of them, How can I find my passion? What I’m hearing is, you find it by taking a deep breath in, relaxing and listening. What are your passions?
Neale Walsch: Let me tell you what I say to my audiences because I’m asked the same question. This is not a situation, this life of ours, in which our life purpose, our life mission, is written somewhere, written down, presumably by some benevolent God, who has assigned it to us. So when people come to me and say, How can I find my passion? How can I find my purpose?
I say to them, What do you think, that it’s written down somewhere on a piece of paper, just hidden out of your sight? Do you think there’s a big blackboard in the sky, on which it is written, ‘James – a wonderful person who lived in the first part of the 21st century, who…’ and then God has written in what your particular purpose or passion is supposed to be?
I tell you, my friend, you can look behind all the trees you want, uncover all the rocks you want, you can listen to all the tapes you want, you can read all the books you want, you can go to all the seminars you want, and say all the prayers you want and you will not find your life purpose and your life passion in that way, because there is no blackboard in the sky on which that is written.
Oh, wait a minute, I’m sorry. I beg your pardon. There is a blackboard in the sky and it does say, ‘James – a wonderful person who lived in the first part of the 21st century, who…’ and then God gave you the chalk.
You will end up with the greatest treasure of all, which is an experience of who you are, the fulfillment of your heart’s desire. I would say this, and I’ve said this to people throughout the world: in order to have it all, you have to be willing to risk it all, and you have to be willing to lose it all, and then you will have it all, because you will redefine what the word all is.
And in that redefinition, the screw turns and everything changes, and life becomes something completely and entirely different, and we are truly born again.
Paul Scheele: This is what I love about this work, and what they’re doing with Healthy, Wealthy nWise is they’re really looking at passion from the standpoint of: passion is the expression of a person who really is willing to risk it all, because they know that something greater is up for them. They’re willing to step into it fearlessly.
Neale Walsch: Yes, in my world, passion is defined as the burning feeling inside of us that brings us to courage, to set aside every exterior idea of who we are in order that we might express the truth of our being.
Janet Attwood: Thank you, Neale, for joining us. I wish we had more time, and I’m sure all of our readers wish we had more time. I want you to know it’s been a wonderful evening to share with you, and thank you, Paul, for co-hosting with me.
To all our readers, I thank everyone for joining us.
I want to leave you all with one of the beautiful quotes from Neale’s book, Conversations With God, Let your love propel your beloveds into the world, and into the full experience of who they are. In this, you have truly loved.
This cover story is an abridged version of the full 1 hour plus interview with Neale Donald Walsch conducted in front of a live Tele-Audience.
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