So you want to dive in at the deep end and get into this alternative philosophy business? And by “business”, I do mean business. Perhaps you have had a few personal experiences which have led you to deeply question the way dominant science and education represent the human condition. You might have had a spiritual experience or an intuitive foretaste of something extraordinary – a glimpse of what have been labelled the “supernatural” or “paranormal”. After such revelations the wise words of the American transcendentalists and Eastern mystics have no doubt been jumping out at you from behind metaphysical corners that you didn’t even know were there.
It could be that things have begun to gather momentum for you – not so much like a giant snow ball rolling downhill, but a great wave of mystical light cascading from the heavens. Reading a few books about things like “spiritual business” and “the law of attraction” may have begun to stir creative juices within your mind. You could be forgiven for starting to think of the possibilities. What if I put all that spiritual knowledge into this idea??
So now you are all set to go, full of excitement at the journey ahead – as a writer, public speaker, social media expert, researcher, healer, entrepreneur… Those famous words of perhaps the greatest of the American transcendentalists, Henry David Thoreau, never felt truer.
“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.”
So it all looks pretty good from your current perspective, doesn’t it? Success seems almost divinely guaranteed. But before you step off onto the road less traveled, before you take that first step on the journey of ten thousand steps, you might like to consider the price.
“The price?”, you say. “What price? Everything’s cool!”
Please allow me to backtrack a little. Let me give you some advice from a traveller of both mystical and worldly waters. Permit me to return to where it all began for me…
Twenty years ago I made the big decision to resign from my job as a secondary school teacher in Warren, a tiny, remote town in western New South Wales, Australia. I had had enough of the mundane world of chalk and talk. My decision had been initiated a few months earlier when I had stumbled across Wayne Dyer’s new age tome You’ll See It When You Believe It in the local newsagent. Reading that book gave me the courage to quit. So I packed my stuff into my car and headed for greener shores – quite literally. I landed in Coffs Harbour, a nice little town on the north coast of the same state. As I outline in my book Discover Your Soul Template, my newly acquired mystical proclivities then led me to join a meditation group fronted by Lesley Halverson, a middle-aged woman with some obvious intuitive gifts. One evening after her meditation class had wound down, Lesley announced that she had dreamed of UFOs the previous night; and based upon that dream she predicted that UFOs would be observable at around 2.00 am that night. Although it seemed preposterous to me that anyone could predict such a thing based upon a dream, I challenged myself to get up at that ungodly hour and take a look around.
My naive mystical worldview was well rewarded, for that cool and starry winter’s morning I witnessed two very different UFO phenomena – one a great ball of shimmering light that glided silently across the sky, and the other a flotilla of disc-like objects which flew over my head at a distance of a few hundred metres.
You can imagine how this event forever changed the way I viewed life, science and education. No longer could I buy the dominant western worldview which depicts human beings as biological meat machines trapped without meaning and purpose in a mechanistic universe. Nor could I continue to commit to a nine-to-five mundane existence in my home country. Instead I embarked on a long journey of self-discovery that saw me live and work in five different countries. It also included exploring exhaustive spiritual disciplines and emotional healing that necessitated enormous courage and commitment.
Throughout this period I explored the mystical and spiritual realms via meditative and mindful practice, shifting my new worldview from a “belief” into lived experience. My innate intuitive abilities expanded and I developed cognitive capacities that had believed to be science fiction only a few years prior to that. I found that I could sense the future, channel creative energy, interact with spiritual dimensions and tap into consciousness fields of both individuals and groups.
During this time I did not ignore the more “rational” side of human experience. Eventually I earned a PhD, developing the concept of “integrated intelligence” – the idea that the human mind is not limited in space and time, and can draw upon non-local information. In my thesis I argued that consciousness is not confined to the brain, nor even to physical systems. Thus the notion of integrated intelligence was developed from both personal experience and formal research.
I kept working in mainstream education to pay the bills, even as I developed my esoteric and intuitive proclivities. Eventually I established a niche for myself as a researcher, writer and speaker. I became the futurist with a passion for Deep Futures, speaking and writing about how an unnecessarily delimited model of cosmos and consciousness was retarding human social and spiritual development. I published widely in magazines, newspapers and journals and successfully published my doctoral thesis. I was elated when I also got my first mainstream book contract.
Some fifteen years passed between the time I left my first teaching job until I published Discover Your Soul Template. In many ways it was a time of incredible excitement. I was following Thoreau’s advice and pursuing my dream. Success seemed to come easily. As I travelled from country to country I managed to earn a very good income, taking jobs that were high-paying but undemanding. This is what allowed me to pursue my doctorate and to write and present at academic conferences and in public domain.
It is not that there were no challenges during this period. Perhaps the greatest was acknowledging that I carried a huge amount of pain and self-limiting belief structures within my psyche. Working with that energy was often excruciatingly difficult. But overall I can say that everything fell together in what seemed to be divine perfection. As my wife noted, things just kept getting better and better.
Perhaps it was that this success had created a little naivety within me. I had conveniently forgotten something that Lesley Halverson had told me all those years ago when I had attended her mediation group. For one day she had passed on a message to me “from spirit”. It was the most simple communication imaginable.
“Remember that there is a price to pay for everything,” she had said.
That was it. The words had been spoken seemingly out of the blue in the middle of a meditation class. They were directed specifically at me. I suspect Lesley has probably forgotten about those words, but somehow they lingered in the back of my mind.
It took me many years to appreciate what they mean. I’m a slow learner.
So let me get back to my story. I haven’t quite finished yet.
It was only after I completed my PhD that I began to experience setbacks in my professional and personal life. The first and obvious problem was that my impassioned focus upon researching and writing about the spiritual and mystical had become a roadblock to my academic and public career. No university or academic institution would touch me. I got hundreds of rejections. I looked on with an increasingly despairing gaze as I saw some of my futurist colleagues (who did their doctorates in more mainstream fields) snap up university jobs with little or no effort. My papers were rejected at many academic conferences; and when I attended such conferences at my own expense, I often saw rather robotic and soulless presentations by professors who were just going through the motions of the academic system. I sat there thinking, “I know I could do a much better presentation than this!”
It was frustrating. It was disheartening. I felt angry and abandoned by the system.
When I returned to Australia from Asia things got even worse. Not only was I getting rejected by the universities; suddenly even public high schools would not hire me. My CV was a confusing mishmash of mundane public school teaching combined with extensive, self-funded academic qualifications and publications. I recall one interviewer looking at me with a rather puzzled expression. “It seems like you have even living two very different lives,” he said. I laughed. But the smile soon faded when he turned me away.
I experimented with different approaches. I submitted CVs leaving off all forty or so of my academic publications and erasing the PhD. But that just made me look like a middle-aged school teacher who had been too lazy to invest in career development for the previous twenty years.
The low point came when I had used up all my savings, and could no longer even afford to rent a house. While I was receiving an income stream from books and publications, it was nowhere near enough to live on. My wife and I were forced to move into a single room, sharing a house with three others.
I had to make a choice. Would I give up all that I had invested in my soul journey? Would I recommit to a mundane life of nine to five?
I’ll let you know what happened in the second part of this article, and I’ll also share with you some of the key distinctions I have taken from my setbacks.