Oprah and Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith
In his book, Spiritual Liberation Michael Bernard Beckwith recounts a dream that changed the course of his life. The dream itself was quite violent in parts, but fairly immediately led to a major positive transformation in his life. He describes the dream, and what followed, in vivid detail.
“For about a year, I’d been having a recurring dream of being chased by three men. I’d always wake up before they actually grabbed me, but each time I had the dream, they got closer and closer. I struggled against my dream captors. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a small tent with hundreds of people I knew standing in line to get in. I shouted to them for help. They looked in my direction, but one by one they turned their backs to me. Suddenly, two of the men pinned me down, while the third plunged a knife into my heart. The pain was excruciating. I screamed out, and then I died….
Social activism and making a constructive difference in the world were focal points in the Los Angeles household of my childhood. My parents’ generosity of heart and community values were strong influences on me and my two brothers. Their example contributed to my involvement in anti-Vietnam protests during high school. I enthusiastically participated in these and other socially acceptable activities in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
In the early 1970s I was a student at the University of Southern California majoring in psychobiology, a time when smoking marijuana was, well, the norm. What I was learning in classes about mental illness caused me to wonder if echoes of some childhood experiences wherein I experienced some visions were pathological. I cut back on the marijuana, hoping the visions and voices would stop. Instead, they only intensified.
To cover the expense of my recreational use, I began selling marijuana. What started as a modest cottage industry ended up with distribution in D.C., Atlanta, Nashville, New York, and Los Angeles.
[Then I had, “the dream.”]
[I have since learned that] The dark night of the soul occurs within individuals who mean business with their spiritual practice – individuals who have made a profound commitment to evolve and awaken.
I speak from experience when I say that a dark night experience puts an end to your life, as you know it, including those parts you would like to cling to. But when you mean business with the Spirit, it means business with you, and a re-qualification of consciousness ensues.
It is impossible to manipulate our way out of the dark night, even though the ego seeks to do so in its attempt to maintain an appearance of control.
When I awoke from this dream-death, I felt myself interpenetrated and surrounded by a magnificent presence. Because I had agnostic leanings, [I didn’t want to refer to it as “God”] I identified it as “Love-Beauty.” It pierced my spirit with unconditional love, the same love that enlivened everything in my immediate surroundings.
The person who had spent so many years denying his connection to the Universal One had died; I could never fit into that box again. I was known to be agnostic, so my unorthodox spiritual awakening that followed came as much of a surprise to my family and friends as it did to me.
will.i.am performing in Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith’s Special for PBS: “The Answer is You.”
I began studying both Eastern and Western Spirituality and mysticism. I found that when you stripped away the culture, history, and dogma of every religion, the teachers of those religions were teaching very similar principles and practices that led to a sense of oneness that ended a sense of separation from the Whole.
In the New Thought-Ancient Wisdom tradition of spirituality, individuals are taught the universal principles, cosmic laws, meditation, prayer and visioning techniques that have been practiced by spiritual seekers for thousands of years, teachings which to this very day are practical in meeting humanity’s challenges of 21st century living.
Encouraged by this discovery, my desire to sell and use marijuana died. I decided to quit and get out of the business – but not before arranging to sell the delivery I had just received.
There are no spiritual endorphins we may swallow that offer relief once we say “yes” and surrender to the mystical process taking place within us. But the ego doesn’t give up without a fight. One of the ego’s mechanisms is to become involved in compulsive behaviors.
Never before had I stored marijuana in my home. But, for this final sale, I made an exception. Before I could distribute it, I got busted, compliments of an informant, by the police.
The size of my operation made the charges serious. I faced significant jail time. Well-meaning friends gave me advice ranging from “plea bargain” to “take your money and get out of the country.” But to my mind, none of it was relevant because the person who’d been the drug dealer was dead – my spiritual transformation had made me a new individual – and I intuitively knew, beyond all doubt, that the new me wasn’t headed for jail.
Day after day, I sat in the courtroom reading spiritual books until a moment when, out of the blue, my lawyer leapt up and convincingly made a point about a technicality. When I returned to court the next day, my case was dismissed.
When I returned home, I noticed the afternoon breeze had a velocity just strong enough to blow the point of a weathervane away from me. Riveted, I mentally commanded, “If my inner experience is about all that I believe it to be, then let the weathervane turn in my direction….” Before I could even finish my sentence, the weathervane turned and stopped with the arrow pointing right at me. I realized that my outer life was now aligning with the inner transformation that had begun with the recurring dream a year earlier. Love-Beauty pierced me at my core. I surrendered my life completely to its luminous, transforming touch. No more signs were required.
I dove into spiritual inquiry through meditation, contemplation, prayer, retreats, pilgrimages, and the study of Eastern and Western mysticism, metaphysics, and science.
The Agape International Choir at the 2008 Democratic National Convention
In psychology, spirituality, and life – there is so much combustion surrounding the perception of the role that Ego plays in our lives – individually and collectively. Ego is a term that’s thrown about quite a bit, with a variety of definitions ascribed to it. In key sections of Spiritual Liberation, Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith defines Ego – and how the Ego works for, and against us. He identifies steps and practices we can engage in to live vibrantly, outside of the undue duress of Ego(s).
In your own life journey, you may also find it challenging to accept that a dark night of the soul has in fact been called forth from deep within you [by your Spirit]. Trust that it recognizes exactly what is needed to command forth in you authentic empowerment, unconditional love, compassion, clarity, humility, and strength.
Resisting or trying to short-circuit this transformational process prevents us from reaping the fullness of its fruitage. Entering it fully allows us to outwit the ego’s illusory game.
As we willingly surrender ourselves to the evolutionary process of the dark night, placing no time demands upon it, we make ourselves available to profound transformation.
Every mystic, sage, or awakened master whose autobiography or biography I have read has experienced the dark night of the soul. In fact, having experienced the gifts of the dark night, they actually prayed for it!
When you’re experiencing a dark night, read about the life of an illuminated being and you will realize that you are in good company.
In Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith’s talks, he often refers to the challenge of living in a period of time where so many of the media and our elected leadership are trumpeting and cultivating the frame of mind of: “fear, lack, and scarcity.” He emphasizes that if we live from this perspective, we will be destined for a life of anxiety, paralysis, violent counter reactions – all of which are currently manifesting locally, and globally. In his book, he offers a positive alternative viewpoint, and the tools to live a fulfilling life, despite what outward societal appearances may try to dictate.
He refers to the other side of the coin, which represents people who are choosing to live from a different frame of reference and response. They are “Walking in the Answer.”
As a result, they are launching creative new businesses, strengthening bonds within communities, and in many instances we are seeing – creating new governments.
In the following comments, he suggests steps and practices for people to choose, and therefore live life on the positive side of the coin.
The book Spiritual Liberation, is not just another-self help book telling you how to get more of what you think you need to be happy and anti-bored until you die. Its purpose is to stir you up, to ignite within you a desire to establish a transformative spiritual practice, and to show you how to cultivate and sustain that spiritual practice. The spiritual strategies described in the book will shift your dependence on the outer things of life to make you happy to rely on your own inner authority as a fully empowered human being.
Our Inner Spirit is the most vibrantly real and ecstatic aspect of our being. It’s puzzling that we have to be educated in how to spiritually awaken, how to activate our soul-potential, especially when considering that enlightenment is inherent within us.
Today’s consciousness research and quantum physics reveal that consciousness interpenetrates all that is, affirming that existence is not random, that it is intentional and governed by universal law.
There is no absolute definition of God or Love. They are synonymously indefinable. However, we intrinsically know when we experience a burst of realization or sense of presence that can only be called God or Love. Neither is visible, nor can they be analyzed by the thinking mind or intellect.
Spiritual awakening is a journey of the heart. Every person’s heart is aflame to know its true nature, to commune with its source. Lao-Tzu put it beautifully when he urged his students to “Use the light that dwells within you to regain your natural clarity of sight.” And yet, few of us even know that this inner light exists, let alone that we may access and apply it to our spiritual, mental, emotional, creative, or physical life structures.
The good news is that for those of us who yearn for it like a drowning man craves breath, spiritual practices are available so that we may realize our “natural clarity of sight” to which Lao-Tzu refers.
The book Spiritual Liberation addresses some of the most fundamental questions about the process of ‘waking up.’
Heaven is not a location [that we wait to die in order to get to.] We are in heaven when we live in an inner realization of the ever-expanding good that exists throughout the cosmos. We live in a friendly universe that has been intentionally designed to foster our awakening.
It is not against us; it is for us. It does not test us; it cheers us on. Our Authentic Self is our inherently enlightened state, what the Buddhists call our original face and Christians define as soul.
Transformation is a much-overused word in today’s spiritual vernacular. So often it’s used as a promotional mantra intended to hook the prospective seminar attendee, reader, or magazine subscriber. In Spiritual Liberation, transformation is that which occurs when identification with the egoic self is superseded by a conscious realization of the Authentic Self. The good news is that it’s never too late to dispel the ego’s illusion of separation, and once again walk freely in the exquisite garden of our being.
There are two kinds of warriors in the world: the traditional warrior who protects borders and a way of life, and a spiritual warrior. A spiritual warrior breaks though inner borders and discovers new dimensions of an expanded way of being. An individual who is fully committed to their spiritual awakening and is courageous enough to make choices based on this commitment – to surrender to our inner willingness to let go into the next stage of our evolution.
Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith in The Secret
Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith is an internationally recognized spiritual leader who has reached millions of readers and viewers of The Secret – and through the Agape International Spiritual Center, which he founded in 1986. Rev. Beckwith continues to inspire others to make an affirmative choice when faced with the question: “Will you choose to Expand or Contract (?) !”
He is ever-expanding the conversation through music with will.i.am, John Legend and the Agape International Choir – at the 2008 Democratic National Convention – and the Inaugural Concert at the Lincoln Memorial – as well as several of the Inaugural Balls. He has explored the topic and practice of spiritual growth with Oprah Winfrey on Oprah and Oprah’s Lifeclass. Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith’s PBS Special, “The Answer Is You”, became a major pledge drive fundraiser for PBS stations throughout the U.S., and featured will.i.am and the Agape International Choir performing “It’s a New Day.”
In surveys taken in the United States, a significant proportion of the population describes itself as “spiritual, but not religious.” Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith founded the Agape International Spiritual Center in 1986 to address that divide. In doing so, he drew from the experience gained through his related journey from agnostic to a spiritual practice incorporating New -Thought Ancient Wisdom spiritual teachings and traditions. Based in Los Angeles, close to 10,000 people attend services, and there are over 1,000,000 people worldwide who participate in a variety of ways. Agape offers live streams of events and services at www.agapelive.com
Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith is a prolific writer and educator, whose books, CDs and DVDs are available internationally and focus on the Universal Principles of Spiritual Practice, developmental plateaus, and the steps people can take to initiate and sustain their personal growth. Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith inspires us to, individually and collectively, “Walk in the Answer.”
Michael Bernard Beckwith’s book, Spiritual Liberation, is available for purchase in our Inner Compass Lifestyle Store.