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December 23, 2013

Getting Things Done: The New Age Movement

Home > My Research > Improvement > Getting Things Done > GTD & The New Age

Does GTD Contain New Age Teaching?

GTD works if its mechanics are applied consistently. At the lowest level, it is just a system of tricks and reminders. The Philosophy behind GTD is problematic, however, for those who wish to avoid New Age teachings, including Christians. For anyone who didn’t know, David Allen is heavily involved with the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness (MSIA) and he subtly promotes Zen Buddhism and New Age teaching in his GTD materials. The most obvious teaching is the constant focus on the “mind like water” philosophy he adopted while studying karate, but taking all of the talk about “psychic RAM” and “open loops” into consideration, it clearly goes much deeper. His motivation is to keep his mind empty (and yours as well) by closing loops (like electrical circuits) so that good ideas (positive energy) can flow through him (and you). This is the creative work of the universe, a concept too deep to cover in this post — just know that it means more than being creative according to the conventional meaning of the word.

The Christian Response

This begs the question, is it appropriate for Christians to practice GTD? After all, didn’t Saint Paul warn his disciples about being led astray by empty philosophies that sound really good? (Col 2:8, c.f. Gal 4:3) The phrase τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου, translated as “principle elements of the world”, can be interpreted to mean astrology or even the New Age movement in general. I suspect any good Christian GTDer that has read this far is already kindling a small bonfire with the intention of pitching in all extant context lists, tickler files, and printed materials published by David Co. Not so fast. Didn’t Paul also advise to test all things and hold fast to that which is good and reject that which is evil? (1 Thess 5:20-22; and though he was referring to prophecies that may be wholly or partly false, the same approach may apply here.) If the mechanics of GTD work, can we not keep the system and reject the Buddhist underpinnings?

I for one would say that this is a reasonable idea, though some precautions might be prudent. It is unlikely that any informed and faithful Christian will wander into the cosmic abyss of Zen either accidentally or willfully (the former being a spiritual danger and the latter being a mortal sin). Therefore, it is important for Christians to remain informed so that they may remain faithful (hence, this post — you’re quite welcome).

It would also be good to put some thought into how GTD can be used to help keep us focused on the right things to do. For example, if you find it difficult to schedule a consistent time for prayer, place a reminder in a context that you enter frequently with a few free moments to spare. Incubate a follow up with someone in need a week or two after your last telephone conversation. Slip mailers, flyers, church bulletin inserts, and even hand-written reminders of radio commercials requesting charitable donations in with the bills or into the tickler file folder for your next pay day. Jot down the chapter and verse of a passage you want to research later and when you process your inbox, add it to your @BibleStudy list. Of course, you can always allocate time on the hard landscape of your calendar for prayer, study of Holy Scripture, meditation on the Word of God, and the performance of charitable works. Applying GTD for the express purpose of spiritual renewal is a good way to baptize GTD for Christian use.

GTD New Age Quotes

New Age teachings are very subtle in the first GTD text. You have to know what you are looking for. Allen’s second book, Ready for Anything, is a different matter altogether. Here is a compilation of quotes from that book.

The Law of Attraction.

Truly being “at one with the universe” frankly has very little to do with keeping lists or not, or even having a clear mind, balanced emotions, or a vibrant body. If you are good at it, you can be “at one” with confusion, stress, the flu, and even negative cash flow. You can surrender up the burdens and attachments of your life at any moment to what you relate to as the higher power at work and be free in consciousness. But if you avoid or ineffectively manage your incompletions, you’ll probably be forced to confront more negative experiences than you would like. [D.Allen-2, p. 70]

This first quote is basically a restatement of the Law of Attraction, which holds that energy attracts like energy. Visualize positive outcomes and they will come about. Think negative thoughts and they will lead to negative outcomes. This is an extension of the traditional concept of Karma with a very scientific-sounding name. Making it sound like an application of physics, New Agers sell this as a deterministic formula for obtaining what you want in life.

But it makes sense, doesn’t it? If you choose to not let things get to you, embrace your work, and stay focused then certainly you are more likely to succeed in meeting your goals, right? Of course you are, but that’s called diligence and it has nothing to do with leveraging cosmic energy through positive thinking. And the quote above said nothing about creating anything, right? True, but consider the following:

I am continually amazed at how often I forget about our astonishing ability to create what we want by what we envision. Outcome thinking and the willingness to visualize something’s being true before it’s physically present is a master skill that we all could probably develop to a much greater degree. [D.Allen-2, p. 46]

So you are doomed to suboptimality if don’t focus on having only positive thoughts, and what’s worse is that you’re not very good at it from the start. Your problem is that you’re not willing to believe that something already exists even though — well, to be frank — it doesn’t. Don’t trust me? Here, I’ll say it again in a different way.

Be God.

One of the greatest challenges we must face at some point in our lives is that our sense of self-worth cannot hang solely on our inventory of what we’ve created. If all we’d done were to disappear — at this moment — we have to know that we will continue to have value and that we can create from scratch what we need or want. [D.Allen-2, p. 30-31]

My apologies for the sarcasm, but humans have never had the power to create anything out of nothing, nor to simply will something into existence. This concept should sound familiar to the Christian, however, for God did create the universe ex nihilo (out of nothing) by an act of sheer will. The New Age promises to make believers like unto God, or to put it more correctly, to help them harness the powers they already possess as parts of God. Rejecting the need for our God the creator was precisely the nature of the Original Sin [Genesis 3:4].

An Appeal to Science.

This is the corollary to the principle “A change in focus equals a change in results.” […] An infinite number of things in the universe are held back from you only by your altitude and attitude. [D.Allen-2, p. 63]

Again, this sounds like a lesson in physics. Principle, in scientific terms, is a synonym for law. In this case, we are still talking about the Law of Attraction. New Age teachers also capitalize on other branches of science and medicine, especially psychiatry and psychology. For example, the following is Allen’s commentary on the “therapeutic” practice of evaluating negative events of the past:

As I became familiar with the principles of forward visioning, however, I questioned the need to do that. “Why delve into anything that’s not what you want?” I asked myself. Then I discovered why. If I’m subliminally afraid of an experience or harbor judgments about it, it will hold me captive at some level. [D.Allen-2, p. 133]

This is the flip side (yang?) of the Law of Attraction, that is that fear is negative energy that attracts more and more negative energy. Why dwell on the negative events of the past if doing so will lead to negative events in the future? It is obvious that he put enough thought into it to reconcile psychology with New Age teaching when he states that the act of dwelling (of acceptance) is not negative at all, but a positive act, because it is undertaken for the purpose of improving one’s well-being in the future. Honestly, I’m impressed. It seems, based on our varied conversations, that my New Age friends gravitate to this power of positive thinking so that they can sustain a state of denial over some tragedy or another, to avoid acceptance (or at least secure a superficial form of it) because the journey to real closure is too painful or their hearts are too hard. Even if I don’t agree with Allen’s assessment, at least it has finesse. [Hmmm, on second thought, that makes it more attractive, and thus, more dangerous.]

The Chameleon.

Allen must have realized at some point that some potential disciples may object to his methods because they are unsure of his motives, so he tries to set them at ease by claiming not to be a spiritual guru. However, in the very next chapter, he boldly states that it is all about the spiritual, that there is no benefit otherwise.

I don’t teach how to be “spiritual”. I teach how to clear and manage focus so the energy you have is most efficiently used, to get what that energy can produce. [D.Allen-2, p. 71]

If I’m managing the incompletions of my world because in truth I simply want to disengage from my life, the stress never really goes away. […] If, however, I’m able to move my inner awareness to a spiritually connected place, more from my heart than my head, it’s a totally different game. [D.Allen-2, p. 72-73]


[GTD] puts you back in the driver’s seat, at the center of your universe. You become cause instead of effect. […] [Angst] arises when you let loose the reins and stop directing your own energy. Indeed, we are all at the mercy of things bigger than ourselves, and at some point we all learn that surrendering to — and cooperating with — some greater and larger aspect of the universe is the real game. [D.Allen-2, p. 149-150]

This excerpt seems self-contradictory at first. “Follow me and put yourself in control yet admit that you aren’t really in control at all?” This makes no sense unless it is evaluated in the context of pantheistic belief in the universe. Similar to collective consciousness, this belief extends far beyond sociology into the realm of metaphysics. In the New Age, there is no conflict between you, the universe, and God, because you and the universe are God. Allen’s remarks can basically be interpreted to mean that everyone must control what they can as best they can, because everyone is steering toward a unified oneness anyway, and variances between the will of the person and the will of the collective consciousness only hinders (but will not ultimately prevent) progress toward that end.


To illustrate the connection with Zen Buddhism, consider the following quotes:

The art would be to stay in [the] zone all the time — to keep the appropriate amount of attention focused on the most appropriate thing, from the most appropriate perspective, for the appropriate length of time. No more, no less. Then refocus on the next thing, in the same way, with 100 percent positive creative energy. This would be a Zen-like state of productivity, in which you deal with what’s present from a perspective that is both detached and fully engaged. [D.Allen-2, p. 76]

Expansion and contraction. Creation and completion. Right brain, left brain. Yin and yang. The more we bring these polarities into balance, the more productive we are. [D.Allen-2, p. 112]

You exist on many levels. […] To the degree you accept the responsibility for managing them equally, you’ll find it easier to enjoy and transcend the whole game. [D.Allen-2, p. 129]


One way in which New Age practitioners attempt to gain converts is by convincing people that all religions are founded on a single set of basic universal truths. They borrow a little from here and a little from there, and then challenge you to re-evaluate your own worldview in light of all of this “empirical” evidence.

We have to know that no matter how finished we think we are, God isn’t done with us until she is. [D.Allen-2, p. 31]

Yes, you read it right: until she is. This is a fairly common New Age jab at traditional belief systems, and especially Judaism and Christianity which, for important theological reasons, always refer to God in the masculine. Statements like these attempt to reduce this Tradition and its sacred language down to a mere absurdity, thereby appealing to the liberal-minded culture of our postmodern age. It tugs especially to the heartstrings of those who hate the Church for her (perceived) bigotry as well as those who are so enlightened that they can only muster a claim to be “spiritual” but never “religious”. In this case, the “evidence” cited to illustrate the narrow-mindedness of Western Christian thought is the criticism of Biblical Creationism as scientifically false (which is a red herring) coupled with the empirically-verifiable existence of ancient cosmogony stories that involve “Mother Earth”, such as Native American folklore and the Greek myth about Gaia the earth goddess.

In discussing the importance of the GTD Weekly Review, Allen asserts that its efficacy is rooted in cosmic truth:

There seems to be something in our psyche that maps nicely to a seven-day cycle for our operational work life. We need to back off every seven days or so from our tree hugging and do a little forest management…” [D.Allen-2, p. 89]

Thomas Aquinas held that the Ten Commandments are an expression of Natural Law, and that the requirement that the Israelites keep the Sabbath Day holy as a memorial of their deliverance from bondage in Egypt extends a moral obligation for Christians to keep the Lord’s Day holy as a thanksgiving memorial for our deliverance from eternal condemnation. The seven-day cycle that we call “the week”, including the two memorials that constitute “the weekend”, is a direct product of the Jewish and Christian religions. Unlike the current division of the year into twelve lunar months (which could have just as easily been divided into a sterile set of ten segments lasting thirty-six days each), the awkward demarcation of fifty-two periods of seven-days each is distinctly cultural. I can’t help but smile, thinking that this is God’s retort to Allen’s own universalist hijacking attempt. “Yes, David, even you cannot deny the truths I’ve written on the hearts of men.”


May 22, 2013

Conversations With God, Book 1, Chapter 2

Home > My Research > Eastern Philosophy & New Age > Conversations With God > Book 1, Chapter 2


Building upon Chapter 1, a lengthy primer on New Age thought written to appeal to a Christian audience, Walsch employs logic in the second chapter to dismantle the reader’s faith (trust, or belief) in organized religion, traditional Christianity in particular. His logical constructs, however, are based on his own system, so the underlying assumption is that Walsch’s God is real, and that he is what he claims to be. It is popular in modern times to claim to be spiritual but not religious, and if this text hasn’t contributed directly to the popularity of this idea, it certainly benefits from it.


Walsch begins by expressing concern about the revelation he is receiving, that it doesn’t feel like it ought to feel, even stating explicitly that the words he is transcribing sound like blasphemy (i.e. grossly irreverent). God’s explanation is that these feelings are more or less the product of conditioning. People perpetuate a vision of God that is very narrow. This prevents them from seeing God in everything (i.e. pantheism), and thus, they miss much of his message. “What gave you the idea that God is only ‘reverent’?” God challenges. (p. 60)

Being all things, God is both one thing (e.g. hot, left) and its opposite (cold, right) simultaneously, giving preference to neither. “Everything is ‘acceptable’ in the sight of God,” he explains, “for how can God not accept that which is? To reject such a thing is to deny that it exists…and that is impossible.” (p. 61) As was explained in the first chapter, this negates a belief in sin altogether, for how can one disobey or act out against God if God has no absolute rules or expectations? Please recall that, according to Walsch’s God, the only purpose is to help God re-member through experience: “Evil is that which you call evil. Yet even that I love, for it is only through that which you call evil that you can know good…it is all relative. […] I do not love ‘good’ more than I love ‘bad’. Hitler went to Heaven. When you understand this, you will understand God.” (p. 61) Our values are not right or wrong, but only judgments prescribed by others in whom we trust. These values should only be retained as long as they are useful. (p. 66)

One primary purpose of this chapter is to shake that trust by instilling fear in the mind of the reader, paranoia that all of society has purposefully deceived you.

“Everything your heart experiences about God tells you that God is good. Everything your teachers teach you about God tells you that God is bad. Your heart tells you God is to be loved without fear. Your teachers tell you God is to be feared, for He is a vengeful God. You are to live in fear of God’s wrath [and] tremble in His presence. Your whole life through you are to fear the judgment of the Lord.” (p. 64)

In contrast, Walsch’s God does not want obedience at all, nor does he want worship or service, for these are the needs of men, not a deity.

The only sin is to choose not to experience, to accept the experience of others as our own and be satisfied with that, to deny our own experience in favor of what we’ve been told to think. He states that our happiness is the gauge of sin: “Only you can say of your life — ‘This is my creation (son), in which I am well pleased.'” (p. 62) This is a no-holds-barred approach to morality.

Walsch’s God promises that when one achieves total knowing (i.e. enlightenment, nirvana), one takes on the Five Attitudes of God (p. 65):

  • Joyful
  • Loving
  • Accepting
  • Blessing
  • Grateful

Being perfectly happy with the Self one has created, one has reached perfection.

At the end of the chapter, Walsch states that writing this dialogue makes him feel presumptuous, maybe a little crazy. His God attempts to extinguish these feelings by reminding him that the authors of the Bible were also mere men. In this discussion, Walsch’s God makes several misleading statements about Christianity:

  • He claims that, “Most of the New Testament writers never met or saw Jesus in their lives. They lived many years after Jesus left the Earth [and] wouldn’t have known [him] if they walked into him on the street.” (p. 67) Of the eight known authors, five were his Apostles (Matthew, John, Peter, James, Jude), and one met Jesus in a vision (Paul), leaving two who were associates of the Apostles and may or may not have actually known Jesus in the flesh (Mark and Luke).
  • He goes on to imply how the “churches” edited the writings of the original authors (both NT and OT) because the “Jesus Story” had power, and that a “High Council” approved the official version, which only contained revelations that weren’t “unhealthy” or “premature”. (p. 67) It is true that the OT books were originally passed on as oral tradition, and that some of the texts went through the redaction process. It is also true that the canon of Scripture was sealed (and confirmed as such) by the decision of several ecumenical councils of the Catholic Church. And it is also true that some texts were hidden away (apocrypha) because they were not considered inspired or were altogether heretical (e.g. the Gnostic Gospels — which is undoubtedly the specific texts Walsch would prefer in his Bible). However, there is no evidence that the (one) Church was trying to harness power. There is much more evidence based on extant copies that the Church was indeed fulfilling its mission to preserve Scripture. There is also little or no direct information regarding the selection process for establishing the canon (especially the NT), save that the selected Scriptures themselves do not conflict with each other when understood in the context of the Church’s teaching and the writings of the Early Church Fathers.
  • His God ensures that Walsch’s writings (the dialogue in which he is engaged) are indeed holy scripture, but that they are unlikely to be considered as such, because the language used is too casual and not (yet) outdated. It would not meet the expectations that people hold of what holy scripture is supposed to sound like.
  • To hear God reply to prayers, one must consider oneself worthy or deserving of dialogue with God. There is a fine line here between having faith and putting oneself on par with God.

April 28, 2011

Conversations With God, Book 1, Chapter 1

Home > My Research > Eastern Philosophy & New Age > Conversations With God > Book 1, Chapter 1

Table of Contents

First things first. This book has an index, but no table of contents, so, here it is:

Chapter 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Chapter 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
Chapter 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
Chapter 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
Chapter 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94
Chapter 6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105
Chapter 7 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110
Chapter 8 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121
Chapter 9 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148
Chapter 10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159
Chapter 11 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160
Chapter 12 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 169
Chapter 13 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187
Chapter 14 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 203


At fifty-eight pages, this is the longest chapter of the book. It is essentially a New Age primer and lays the groundwork for the rest of the book.

Premise & Style

Walsch opens the first chapter by explaining how he would vent his frustrations by writing letters to people that he never intended to send, expressing his real feelings about things. When he wrote to God one day, God answered by guiding his pen. The resulting dialogue, which now spans nine or more books, constitutes (purportedly) God’s divine revelation to Walsch of the truth regarding his nature. The tone of the book is Socratic.

New Age Concepts & Methods

Cleaning the slate. And, by that, I mean brainwashing. I wish I had a more charitable label for it, but I don’t. “Free your mind! Everything you’ve been told is a delusion (read: a lie). Think for yourself, man.” I purposely placed my findings about this method first to expose what we are dealing with. The main focus seems to be the elimination of Judeo-Christian tradition. It’s not subtle either! Consider the following:

“I [God] do not communicate by words alone. In fact, rarely do I do so. My most common form of communication is through feeling. Feeling is the language of the soul. […] In addition to feelings and thoughts, I also use the vehicle of experience as a grand communicator. And finally, when feelings and thoughts and experience all fail, I use words.” (p. 3)

The voice within is the loudest voice with which I speak, because it is the closest to you.” (p. 20)

A charismatic Christian and perhaps even one who has deep experience with meditative prayer may agree with this sentiment; however, Walsch continues (writing on behalf of God):

“Now the supreme irony here is that you have all placed so much importance on the Word of God, and so little on the experience.” (p. 4)

Walsch supplants Christ and Scripture (both referred to as the Word of God) with personal revelation, the ‘message of the moment’. Truth, therefore, becomes relative. Regarding the discernment of truth:

“Mine is always your Highest Thought, your Clearest Word, your Grandest Feeling. Anything less is from another source.” (p. 4)

There is no moral absolute at play here. These qualifiers are all relative comparisons of thoughts to thoughts, words to words, and feelings to feelings. Also, notice the capitalization of the words in that quote, elevating thought, word, and feeling to proper names, personifying them and giving them authority. This is bordering on the concept of pantheism, which is covered below, so let’s stay on track for this section.

The following are selections that I’ve isolated, carving away the fluff in between. Read as Walsch strips away the layers of moral authority. I’ll save the commentary for the end, because I think the text speaks adequately for itself.

“Many people choose to believe that God communicates in special ways and only with special people. This removes the mass of the people for hearing My message…and allows them to take someone else’s word for everything. […] By listening to what other people think they heard Me say, you don’t have to think at all.” (p. 6)

“It is far safer and much easier to accept the interpretation of others (even others who have lived 2,000 years ago) than seek to interpret the message you may very well be receiving in this moment now.” (p. 7)

“[Leaders, ministers, rabbis, priests, books and the Bible] are not authoritative sources.” (p. 8)

“All of this [teaching] violates everything you say you know about God, but this doesn’t matter. You live your illusion, and thus feel your fear, all out of your decision to doubt God. But what if you made a new decision? What then would be the result? I tell you this: you would live as the Buddha did. As Jesus did. As did every saint you have ever idolized.” (p. 15)

“[The reason why human behavior oscillates between love and fear] is found in the first lie…that God cannot be trusted; that God’s love cannot be depended upon; that God’s acceptance of you is conditional… Yet if you knew Who You Are – that you are the most magnificent…being God has ever created – you would never fear. […] And where did you get the idea of how much less than magnificent you are? From the only people whose word you would take on everything. From your mother and your father.” (pp. 16-17)

Do you feel detached yet? The text is designed to make it so. The obvious intention here is to subvert any and all authority that may contradict what Walsch is writing, and to reduce Christianity to a mythical representation of the truth that has been corrupted by man over time. It’s ironic that Walsch preaches that man should act out of love and not fear, yet he uses fear to draw the reader to his philosophy.

The Meaning of Life. Throughout the chapter, God reveals to Walsch that it was once everything, but that knowing of its existence wasn’t enough – God desired to experience itself.

“The one thing that All It Is knew is that there was nothing else. And so It could, and would, never know Itself from a reference point outside of Itself. […] It reasoned, quite correctly, that any portion of Itself would necessarily have to be less than the whole, and that if It thus simply divided Itself into portions, each portion, being less than the whole, could look back on the rest of Itself and see the magnificence.” (p. 23)

This sounds logical on the surface, but would God not have to have some bigger picture from which this conclusion could be drawn? If we are part of God, why do we have a self-preserving nature, one that resists the idea of dividing ourselves into portions just for the experience? Should we, too, cut off the nose to spite the face?

Notice, again, the capitalized titles, such as ‘All It Is’ and ‘Itself’, used to describe God. The God of Israel called himself ‘I Am’ and Jesus uses this phrase several times in the New Testament to reveal his divinity. The titles used in this text appeal to the reader’s prior understanding of Scripture (if any) and are then morphed (linguistically) to lead the reader into New Age thought.

The next morph follows on the top of the following page. Even though he already stated that God is everything and that there is nothing else, he then states, “Those who believe that God is All That Is and All That Is Not are [correct].” (p. 24) This concept isn’t completely illogical, but it is a subtle distinction. What is not subtle is the wholesale discount of the creator/creature relationship between God and man, being distinct persons. It also opens wide the door to moral relativism, eliminating ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and replacing them with ‘just is’. Christianity teaches that God is the author of life and that it was man’s sinful disobedience upon being tempted to do evil that brought death into the world; in contrast, this book expresses that one can choose to be good or evil and that one cannot experience being one without experience being the other. In other words, to be truly good, one must also know what it is like to be truly evil, making sin something to use to one’s advantage instead of something to avoid.

So, the general idea is that God divided itself so that it could experience itself through a process of remembering, that is to say, the parts of God (people especially included) remember through experiences, that they are part of the whole. He is careful to note that “You are not discovering yourself, but creating yourself anew. Seek, therefore, not to find out Who You Are, seek to determine Who You Want To Be.” (p. 20) By playing off of the title of the great ‘I Am’, the reader is made to feel that he is part of God, to be considered equal to God. Indeed, Walsch later explains what it means to be created in the image and likeness of God: “We are composed of the same stuff. We ARE the ‘same stuff’!”. (p. 26) He takes a clear creator-creature dichotomy, embodied in the creation stories, and states that which flatly opposes it, pantheism. But, remember, everything you’ve been taught is a lie, the truth contorted to fit the will of manipulative men. These men do not want you to know that we share in God’s “properties and abilities – including the ability to create physical reality out of thin air.” (p. 26) He goes on:

“For your thought…is creative, and your word is productive, and…together are magnificently effective in giving birth to your reality.” (p. 10)

“You will not have that for which you ask, nor can you have anything you want. This is because your very request is a statement of lack, and your [asking produces] that precise experience – wanting – in your reality.” (p.11)

“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. […] In this sense, your will for you is God’s will for you.” (p. 13)

God admits being impartial to outcomes, because the “ultimate” outcome is “assured”. (p. 14) This is, in a way, predestination, and another baited hook for all Christians (not just Calvinists) who hold to some definition of predestination.

Another implication here is that the Jewish and Christian people have created a fear-based reality, a theology based on a vengeful God who is assigned a role of angry parent, when instead, we should have created a love-based reality. (pp. 17-18) Now, “God is love” is the gospel message, and the Lord is often perceived in the Old Testament as a strict disciplinarian because man insisted on being stiff-necked and hard of heart. Walsch uses these ‘similarities’ to convince the reader that the real revelation of God has been contorted by Christians.

So, what does God want? Of Walsh? Of you and I? Evangelization, of course!

“…not only was the physical universe thus created, but the metaphysical universe as well…the second half of the Am/Not Am equation also exploded into an infinite number of units smaller than the whole. These energy units you would call spirits. …the sudden appearance – the sudden existence – of countless spirits in the Kingdom of Heaven”. (p.25)

“Upon entering the physical universe, you relinquished your remembrance of yourself. […] You are, have always been, and will always be, a divine part of the divine whole, a member of the body. That is why the act of rejoining the whole, of returning to God, is called remembrance. You actually choose to re-member Who You Really Are… Your job on Earth, therefore, is not to learn…but to re-member Who You Are…to remind others (that is, to re-mind them) so that they can re-member also. […] It is your sole purpose…your soul purpose.” (p.28)

“You will make of this dialogue a book, and you will render My words accessible to many people. It is part of your work.” (p. 29)

Yin Yang. According to the Wikipedia, yin yang is the concept “used to describe how polar or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn. Opposites thus only exist in relation to each other.” This is the primary basis for Walsch’s writings.

“I am the Great Unseen. …I am what I am not. It is from the am-notness that I come, and to it I always return.” (p. 9)

Love and Fear are the polar forces in Walsch’s philosophy.

“These are the two points – the Alpha and the Omega – which allow the system you call “relativity” to be. […] Every human thought, and every human action, is based in either love or fear.” (p. 15)

The primal thought behind any and all other thoughts and actions is called the “Sponsoring Thought”. Again, there is no absolute, only relativism. Note also the appeal to Christian terminology – this will be covered in more detail below. It is important to note now the role of man’s free will in this relativistic philosophy. Regarding this bipolar system:

“You have no choice about this, because there is nothing else from which to choose. But you have free choice about which of these to select.” (p. 19)

Going back to the idea that God created the universe by splitting into parts, we read:

“God knew that for love to exist…its exact opposite had to exist as well. […] In the moment fear existed, love could exist as a thing that could be experienced.” (p.24)

“Fear is the other end of love. It is the primal polarity. In creating the realm of the relative, I first created the opposite of My Self.” (p. 57)

So, why don’t we live in a perfect world? With yin yang, one must eventually give in to the other, and one only makes sense in relation to the other.

“I do not show My goodness by creating only what you call perfection all around you. I do not demonstrate My love by not allowing you to demonstrate yours.” (p.29)

“The Masters who have walked the planet are those who have discovered the secret of the relative world […they] have chosen only love. […] In every circumstance. Even as they were being killed, they loved their murderers.” (p. 57)

Karma. This is the circle of life, the chain of causes and effects in the universe. Borrowing now from Hinduism, Walsch’s embrace of karma is evidenced in the following excerpt:

“As for the so-called ‘accident’ — the truck coming around the bend, the brick falling from the sky — learn to greet each such incident as a small part of a larger mosaic. […] Accidents happen because they do. Certain elements of the life process have come together in a particular way at a particular time, with particular results — results which you choose to call unfortunate…yet they may not be unfortunate at all, given the agenda of your soul.” (p. 51)

Law of Attraction. Actually, Walsch’s God has defined three laws:

  1. Thought is creative
  2. Fear attracts like energy
  3. Love is all there is    (p. 56)

He does explain what appears to be a blatant logical error in that love is ultimately all there is in the absolute, and that the relative world was created for the experience; so the existence of fear is apparently temporary (temporal?). All three of these are major teachings in A Course in Miracles. (Though the third law above is usually stated “only Love is real”.)

Transcendance/Enlightenment. One of the major tenets of Eastern thought is that a greater state of being may always be achieved. Consider what Walsch says:

“Your world would not be in its present condition were you to have simply listened to your experience. The result of your not listening to your experience is that you keep re-living it, over and over again.” (p. 5)

Walsch doesn’t embrace reincarnation explicitly, at least not in Chapter 1, but the quote above seems to imply that it exists, perhaps something along the lines of the Buddhist “bhava” (“becoming”). In any case, Walsch states God’s intentions:

“This is the goal of your soul…its purpose…to fully realize itself while in the body…[and] this is My plan for you…My ideal…that I should become realized through you…that I might know my Self experientially.” (p. 43)

He goes on to explain how God defined the laws of the universe and how one can come to understand them:

“Begin by being still. Quiet the outer world, so that the inner world might bring you sight. This in-sight is what you seek, yet you cannot have it while you are so deeply concerned with your outer reality.” (p. 44)

Sound like Transcendental Meditation? It is. Here’s his mantra:

“If I do not go within I go without.” (p. 44)

As expected, transcending means losing all attachment to self, not to mention any other system of belief:

“Failing to believe in any of this means failure to believe in God. For belief in God produces belief in God’s greatest gift — unconditional love — and God’s greatest promise — unlimited potential.” (p . 44)

Couple transcendence with yin yang and the advice to the individual person is:

“…you cannot experience yourself as what you are until you’ve encountered what you are not.” (p. 27)

Put another way, you are enlightened about yourself when you understand the metaphysics about your existence, what you are in relation to what you are not, the bigger picture.


Christians believe that God is omniscient, all-knowing. According to this book, all people are part of God and share in his qualities; therefore, all people are also omniscient.

“The soul…knows all there is to know all the time. There’s nothing hidden to it, nothing unknown.” (p.22)

“In the absolute [i.e. traditional Christian thought] there is no experience, only knowing. Knowing is a divine state, yet the grandest joy is in being. Being is achieved only after experience. The evolution is this: knowing, experiencing, being. This is the Holy Trinity – the Triune that is God.” (pp 29-30)

He then explicitly relates the Father to knowing, the son to experiencing and the Holy Ghost to being and assures the reader that gender has nothing to do with it, claiming that the Father-Son relationship of Christianity is the same ‘metaphor’ as the mother-daughter relationship found in other religions. He reduces it down to “parent-offspring” and then “that-which-gives-rise-to and that-which-is-arisen”. (p.30)

Pantheism. God is in all things and all things are part of God. Walsch is blatant on this aspect as well. Remember, the idea is that God divided himself so that he could experience himself.

“…I have no form or shape you understand. I could adopt [one], but then everyone would assume that what they have seen is the one and only […] rather than a form or shape of God – one of many.” (p. 9)

Appeal to Scripture

Holy Scripture is often used by New Age authors to gain credibility. The New Age is a Western movement and nothing prohibits the incorporation of Christian or Jewish writings if their meanings can be easily manipulated.

For example, God (via Walsch’s pen) explains how prayers of gratitude – even for things that exist in your reality but that you haven’t yet received physically – is efficacious, unlike prayers of supplication that only manifest a state of wanting. When challenged by Walsch about the ability of being grateful for something that isn’t there yet, God replies:

“Faith. If you have but the faith of a mustard seed, you shall move mountains. You come to know it is there because I said it is there; because I said that, even before you ask, I shall have answered; because I said, and have said to you in every conceivable way, through every teacher you can name, and that whatsoever you shall choose, choosing it in My Name, so shall it be.” (p. 12)

The first part is taken directly from Matthew 17:20, and the part about God knowing your needs before you ask is from Matthew 6:8. Anyone familiar with the Bible, however, will know that the Lord does not discourage prayers of supplication at all, and even encourages them, making this appeal to Scripture highly suspect.

Let’s revisit the quote above from page fifteen in which Walsch refers to love and fear as the Alpha and the Omega. This phrase is used in the Book of Revelation to describe the person of Jesus as the beginning and the end, as these are the letters that mark the beginning and end of the Greek alphabet. (Rev 1:8, 21:6, 22:13) There is some sense of chronology here, at least from a human perspective, as expressed in the Nicene Creed, when we say that he was “eternally begotten of the Father before all worlds” and that his “kingdom shall have no end”. In a word, this describes eternity. Also, it states in the Bible that God is love, an absolute. In contrast, Walsch uses this phrase to describe the two relative emotions (yin yang), love and fear, felt by God in all persons (pantheism), from which one always flows to the other and back again. Walsch states that there was a beginning to this duality, as well as a sense of time, in what we call the Big Bang. (p. 24) Since God decided to divide into to parts for a purpose, so that it could experience itself (p. 26), it is logical to assume that there is an ultimate conclusion to this process wherein all of God is reunited, if not physically, then at least in consciousness. Walsch, too, states that God is love, which means that reunification, the movement of all thought and action to the love pole and away from the fear pole, would result in an end state of love. Nothing in this latter philosophy denotes an eternity, the symbolic meaning of the Alpha and the Omega, making this appeal to Scripture very weak (IMHO).

Speaking of the person of Jesus – that is to say, the second person of the Triune God – we’ve already exposed that Walsch’s God is pantheistic, so what about Jesus? Since ‘we are all part of God’, and since Jesus was indisputably a man, then he too, being of the same “stuff”, shared in God’s creative abilities. What set him apart was that Jesus “understood how to manipulate energy and matter, how to rearrange it, how to redistribute it, how to utterly control it. […] This is the knowledge of good and evil of which Adam and Eve partook.” (p. 55) Apparently, Jesus isn’t a part of God any more than you and I – he was just enlightened. Note how “the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen 3) is presented here as a literary device to explain how Jesus’ complete (read: perfect?) understanding of that duality gave him power over it.

Drawing again on Christian ideas, “It is the creation of this duality between love and its opposite [i.e. fear] which humans refer to in their various theologies as the birth of evil, the fall of Adam, the rebellion of Satan, and so forth.” (p. 24)

Christianity addresses the question, “Why did God allow sin (i.e. death, disease, destruction) to enter the world?” The answer is that man must have free will to express true love for God, and it was man’s free will that allowed him to sin. Walsch uses this answer as well, but changes its meaning a bit. “Your question infers that I choose these events, that it is my will and desire they should occur. Yet I do not will these things into being, I merely observe you doing so. And I do nothing to stop them, because to do so would be to thwart your will. That, in turn, would deprive you of the God experience, which is the experience you and I have chosen together.” (p. 32) The implication here is that man can also choose to end death and disaster because he is (part of) God. A Christian may also understand that it is man’s responses to such events that often reveal his love for God and his fellow man. Walsh tapdances on this notion when he writes, “There is perfection in the process – and all life arises out of choice.” (p. 47) This is particularly appealing to the Catholic mind that should already recognize the sanctifying effect of good works on a justified spirit (1 Cor 3:10-15).

St. John of the Cross described in a poem a period of loneliness and abandonment as the soul detaches itself from the things of the world on the journey to God. This is known as the Dark Night of the Soul. It has been suggested that even Jesus experienced this loneliness on the cross as he cited the opening lines of Psalm 22 (“Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”). Walsh’s God tells a story about a little soul that wished to know itself, to whom God advised, “You must separate yourself from the rest of us…and then you must call upon yourself the darkness.” (p. 34) In the story, the little soul cries out, again from Psalm 22, “Father, Father, why hast thou forsaken me?” I do not know whether Walsch put this much research into his book, but this seems too coincidental to dismiss. The obvious difference is that the soul in St. John’s poem seeks God guided by the burning light (of Christ) within, whereas the little soul in Walsch’s story moves away from God and the light in order to find himself.

Not exactly the greatest commandment (Mt 22:40):

“I will do nothing for you that you will not do for your Self. That is the law and the prophets.” (p. 50)

What’s the power of prayer and communion with the divine?

“Individual consciousness is powerful enough. You can imagine what kind of creative energy is unleashed whenever two or more are gathered in My name.” (p. 35)

“You should now better understand how people of like mind can work together to create a favored reality. The phrase ‘Wherever two or more are gathered in My name’ becomes much more meaningful. …large communities or congregations often find miracle-producing power in combined thinking (or what some people call common prayer).” (p. 55)

What of sin? This is an obvious deviation from Christianity:

“Original sin is when your first thought about a thing is in error. That error is compounded when you have a second or third thought about a thing. It is the job of the Holy Spirit to inspire you to new understandings, which can free you from your mistakes.” (p. 38)

“What has been described as the fall of Adam was actually his upliftment…without it, the world of relativity would not exist. The act of Adam and Eve was not original sin, but, in truth, first blessing…in being the first to make a ‘wrong’ choice, [they] produced the possibility of making any choice at all.” (pp. 55-56)

This is incongruent with the Christian concept of free will, which God graced upon man from the start so that man could choose to love him. Walsch turns this on its ear and claims that the execution of a disobedient act by Adam is what makes free will a reality, for otherwise, man would simply be a mindless puppet living under the direction of an authoritarian god.

Another, very tricky quote comes from Genesis 11:6 (p. 45; the text used appearing to be a blend of the ESV and KJV). According to Holy Scripture, Man had become proud and inspired to reach Heaven on his own accord by building a tower. God was concerned about this so much that he confused their language to prevent the successful completion of the project. Walsch’s spin is that he uses this verse as a prooftext (out of context, of course) that man can, in fact, realize unlimited potential. This is tricky because at first blush, it does sound as though God recognizes man’s efforts as a true threat to his omnipotence. But man cannot reach Heaven by simply building a tower any more than he can create matter or life from nothing, without God and without the matter that God created from the start. The pride is the real concern, not the power. Modern science appears indeed to be unrestrained when God is removed from consideration, and it is practised without abandon at a great moral cost to mankind.

As a proof of karma, Walsch explains how Jesus “was not perturbed by the crucifixion, but expected it” and that he chose not to walk away from it, but “allowed himself to be crucified in order that he might stand as man’s eternal salvation.” (p. 52) Then comes a (quite butchered) paraphrase from John 10:34-39, which cites Psalm 82. The message is that God has revealed that all men are gods, which Walsch interprets pantheistically.

Emphasizing that he has explained the laws of the universe over and over again experientially throughout the ages, Walsch’s God laments that man does not listen to the teachers he sends, but kills them instead. This mimics Jesus’ response to the Pharisees’ warning (Lk 13:34), his chastisement of the Pharisees for their hypocrisy (Mt 23:37), and the Parable of the Tenants (Luke 20).

Word Play

I thought it might be useful to re-cap the word-play used in this chapter. I hesitate to use the word “pun”, since I personally don’t find them funny (and I love puns – even the groaners).

Re-member. He uses this word for its conventional meaning at first, but then adds the hyphen to support his notion that God is reunified by the intellectual understanding and acceptance by his parts as to whence they came. This play on the word may only work in English. The etymology of the word ‘remember‘ is from Latin, re- means “again” and memorari to “be mindful of”. This is a different word than the Latin for ‘member‘, membrum, which refers to a part of the body.

Re-mind. This play on words may be more legitimate, because remind does mean to ‘make mindful again’. It is from the word ‘mind‘ which can be a verb or a noun (e.g. “being of one mind” to express agreement).

Sole/Soul Purpose. This one also works in English, but the relationship breaks down etymologically. “Sole” in this sense refers to “one” or “single”, from the Latin solus; but the Latin word for “soul” is anima, that which animates the body. The modern use of ‘soul‘ is a product of Old English. Besides, the word ‘spirit‘ (from the Latin “spiritus”, the life-giving breath that animates all creatures, at least physically) is used interchangeably and is also the root in other languages (e.g. espirit in Old French and l’esprit in modern French). Even ‘ghost‘, from the Old English gast and seen in the German equivalent geist, implies the concept of breath. It is a serious stretch to make any real linguistic connection between ‘sole’ and ‘soul’ in this manner.

In-Sight. This one was introduced in the section on understanding the laws of the universe through meditation. In this case, meditation is introspective, so not only does this meditation provide understanding, the traditional usage of the word insight, but it causes the true self to be in sight, as in visible in front of you.

Emotion. Walsch uses this word as a contraction for “energy in motion”, directly connected with the New Age concept of the law of attraction. That is to say, love and fear (Walsch’s polar emotions) naturally attract things and events. Positive thinking automatically produces positive outcomes.

Always/All Ways. The first chapter ends with God’s invitation to Walsch to ask him anything he wishes to know, but God also warns him that the answer may come in any form: in music, a news article, the sounds of nature, etc. If Walsch is receptive, God states, “I will show you then that I have always been there. All ways.” (p. 58)

Other Observations

Indemnity Clause. The point of the book is to convince the reader that he has power over his destiny, that one may change one’s place in the universe instantly if one wills it to be so. Revisiting the premise above, Walsch laments his ill fortune and blames God, begging to know why things are as they are. God’s answer: it’s all you, man.

“No, not all the things which you call bad…are of your own choosing. [But,] they are all of your own creation.” (p.35)

“The first step in changing anything is to know and accept that you have chosen it to be what it is. […] Seek then to create change not because a thing is wrong, but because it no longer makes an accurate statement of Who you Are.” (p. 36)

Acceptance of a situation and wanting to change circumstances are not intrinsically problematic, but the anticipated outcome and ultimate purpose behind this approach is:

“If you wish to be accurately re-presented, you must work to change anything in your life which does not fit into the picture of you that you wish to project into eternity.” (p. 36)

But what if one employs the teachings of this book and things don’t get better (or get much worse)? Well, don’t forget that everyone else also has power over their destinies, so it’s really the collective that matters. Go with the flow, man. Or, better yet, team up and boil a big pot of consciousness that promotes the common good. If you aren’t a team player, then shake it off and move on with your own life.

“These events are created by the combined consciousness of man. All of the world, co-creating together, produces these experiences. What each of you do, individually, is move through them, deciding what, if anything, they mean to you, and Who and What You Are in relationship to them.” (p. 37)

Moral Relativism. In his homily for the Mass for the Election of the Roman Pontiff (April 18, 2005), Cardinal Ratzinger (who became Pope Benedict XVI) warned against the “dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.” Walsch holds the opposite perspective:

“‘Rightness’ or ‘wrongness’ is not an intrinsic condition, it is a subjective judgment in a personal value system.” (p. 48)

“I have never set down a ‘right’ or a ‘wrong’, a ‘do’ or a ‘don’t’. To do so would be to strip you completely of your greatest gift — the opportunity to do as you please and experience the results of that…” (p. 39)

Note, this is not consequentialism, because consequences cannot be interpreted as good or bad. They have no meaning in this system unless the are not experienced. Thus, hypothetically, a torturous serial killer is doing exactly what he is supposed to be doing so long as his experience helps him remember Who He Is and understand What He Wants To Be. His victims can also glean rich benefits from this experience.

Crime & Punishment. According to Judeo-Christian teaching, the punishment for disobedience of God is separation from God. Temporal punishment originally included the loss of certain protections (labor, birth pangs, etc.), the summation of which is stylized in the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). Eternal punishment is the permanent separation of a person’s soul from the presence of God after it has been separated from the body at death. Walsch’s opinion:

“There are those who say that I have given you free will, yet these same people claim that if you do not obey Me, I will send you to hell. What kind of free will is that?” (p. 39)

What Walsch spins here is the purpose of free will. To him, the purpose is that free will allows us to experience all that we need to experience; therefore, it has no limits. Judeo-Christian teaching, in contrast, is that God granted the gift of free will so that we may choose to love him; thus, it holds that we are capable of acting in a way that expresses the opposite (despite what we profess) and this we call sin.

Returning to the notion that eternal separation from God is the ultimate punishment — and we choose that outcome for ourselves as well, so we aren’t just “sent” there — Walsch replaces the Christian understanding as follows:

“[Hell] is the experience of the worst possible outcome of your choices, decisions, and creations…the natural consequence of any thought that denies Me, or says no to Who You Are in relationship to Me…the opposite of joy…unfulfillment…knowing Who and What You Are, and failing to experience that…being less” (p. 40)

So, the only unforgivable sin is the denial that you are God, or at least a part of the It, the same stuff as God. This stands in stark contrast against the notion that the only unforgivable sin is the refusal to repent, for this relies on recognition of God as creator and an ultimate authority over the soul.

“I tell you there is no such experience after death as you have constructed in your fear-based theologies.” (pp. 40-41)

“…it is not My plan that you shall be separated from Me forever and ever. Indeed, such a thing is an impossibility — for to achieve such an event, not only would you have to deny Who You Are — I would have to as well.” (p. 41)

“You are your own rule-maker. You set the guidelines. And you decide how well you have done…No one else will judge you ever.” (p. 41)

“What seems like punishment to you — or what you would call evil, or bad luck — is nothing more than a natural law asserting itself.” (p. 42)

The third quote above brings us back to moral relativism.

Prime Directive. Perhaps Walsch is a big fan of Star Trek, or perhaps the 1960’s sci-fi series embodied a sufficient level of New Age thought (or just maybe I’m reading a little too much into things), but Walsch’s God appears to adhere to some form of the Prime Directive:

“[Jesus] did not perform a random healing. To have done so would have been to violate a sacred Law of the Universe: Allow each soul to walk its path.” (p. 47)

“I will do nothing for you that you will not do for your Self.” (p. 50)

Rush Lyrics. The song and this book are from the same school of thought:

“Not to decide is to decide.” (p. 50)

“If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” –Freewill, by Rush

Relationships (Generic). Walsch’s God explains something very interesting about relationships. “The Triune Truth is recognized in life’s subtle relationships by everyone dealing with such relationships”. (p. 30) He cites Father/Son/Spirit, superconscious/conscious/subconscious, mind/body/spirit, thought/word/deed and past/present/future as examples (p. 31; to which I might add id/ego/superego…he may have mentioned this elsewhere in the book, now that I think about it). “In matters of gross relationships, you recognize no ‘in-between.’ That is because gross relationships are always dyads [yin yang again], whereas relationships of the higher realm are invariably triads.” (p. 31) If this notion is from Eastern tought, I have not yet discovered it. It may be another appeal to Christian/Western thought.

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