Michael Bernard Beckwith Podcast

Tami Simon: You're listening to Insights at the Edge. Today my guest is Reverend Michael Bernard Beckwith, whom I call MBB for short. Michael is the founder and spiritual director of the Agape International Spiritual Center, a transdenominational in Los Angeles that currently has over 10,000 members. He's the founder of the University of Transformational Studies and leadership and an international speaker and teacher of meditation. He has also appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and Larry King Live. With Sounds True, Michael Bernard Beckwith has created several audio learning programs, including a three-session audio course on Your Soul's Evolution, and a six-session audio course on Living from the Overflow. He's also the author of a brand new book from Sounds True on Life Visioning: A Transformative Process for Activating Your Unique Gifts and Highest Potential.

In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Michael and I focused on his new book Life Visioning. We talked about the four evolutionary stages of the development of consciousness and how the Life Visioning Process works in each stage. We also talked about some of the biggest obstacles people experience with Life Visioning and the importance of unconditional love as the atmosphere for the Life Visioning Process. Here's my conversation with pioneering teacher, and beautiful human, Michael Bernard Beckwith.

You've developed a model, a four-stage progressive evolutionary model, that's really the basis of much of your Life Visioning teaching. To begin with, I'd love to know how this model occurred to you, how you developed it.

Michael Bernard Beckwith: The model occurred to me as I was teaching. I was a faculty member at the School of Ministry a number of years ago. Students would ask questions about what they thought were contradictions in the teachings. They would read in the various textbooks that, "If your mind could conceive it, you could achieve it." Other parts of the textbooks, they would read, "Surrender your life to this presence." And for them, it appeared like there was a contradiction. On one hand, if you can see it, you can attain it, you can have it. Name it what you want and claim it. On the other hand, you should surrender your life to this presence that is everywhere.

So spontaneously one day, I went to the blackboard, and I said, "We are not dealing with contradiction. We are dealing with an evolution of consciousness from being a victim to learning how to take control of our life. [We do so] through monitoring our thinking all the way to and understanding that there are universal laws that govern our reality, that govern creation, that govern manifestation, until we get to a point where we can then surrender to the order that is already there and then ultimately having a realization that the only life that there is, is the life of God, or the life of Intelligence, whatever name we choose to call it."

So the four stages basically emerged as an [explanation] to students to show that we are not dealing with contradictions—we are dealing with more of an evolution of thought. Thus, the conversation became more and more perfected with every round of teaching, every round of questioning, until finally it became more formalized as the four stages of spiritual growth and development and unfoldment. Of course, we know that there's more than four stages, but for the sake of conversation and teaching, I just narrowed them down to four.

TS: Now, first of all, I just want to underscore that I think this is a pretty big breakthrough, actually, that you are describing what appears to so many people as things they don't get—[they think,] "Oh, that's just a paradox"—but that you're describing it as a stage-model of development. I think that's big breakthrough.

MBB: I think so, too, and once the students begin to grasp that, they also begin to understand that when they ask a question, they can kind of see where they are asking their question from. Are they asking their question from being a victim to life—"Why me? Why is this happening to me?" Or are they asking the questions from the stage two aspect, where they're learning how to manifest, monitoring their thinking, and see correctly and visualize, this type of thing. Or are they asking their question from a stage three, where they are learning how to yield and release. I challenge them to notice where they are asking their question from before they ask the question.

And they can also begin to notice [at which] parts of their life do they see themselves as living in the stage of being victimized by external circumstances. [Which] part of their life do they see themselves living in the zone, where there's something that's operating through them—[where] they're witnessing a level of perfection that's operating through them. And what aspect of their life are they visualizing and seeing what they want? It becomes a way by which they can observe themselves and begin to notice themselves at a much higher level.

TS: Just to be very clear for our listeners, the way that you've described these four stages is that we begin in a victim stage of consciousness, move to a manifestor stage to what you call the channel stage, and then the being stage. If you will, let's just go through it slowly. I'd love to know how I progress in my life from one stage to the next. So if I'm going to move from victim to manifestor, let's start there.

MBB: Right. Generally speaking, the victim has the tendency to say that something outside of them determines their destiny, determines their happiness, their joy, and their prosperity, whatever the case may be. So they have a tendency to believe that it's an external god, it's a devil, it's their astrological chart, it's their previous boss, their parents, whatever the case may be, but they generally have a blame story as well. If something's going wrong with their life, they can generally point to something outside of themselves, and say, "If it wasn't for the way that I was brought up, if it wasn't for the society, if it wasn't for this or that, I would be happy." So they are living life at the effect of an external authority figure or an external circumstance.

Now in order to move from the stage of being a victim, generally, it happens in two ways: either pain—in the book I talked about the fact that pain pushes until the vision pulls. That sometimes an individual has a tremendous amount of pain in their life, which makes them begin to search, become introspective, ask different kind of questions, or they have an insight that allows them to see that there's a higher order of being. To move from being a victim to learning how to manifest in their life, the victim has to give up the blame story, and one of the most empowering things that they can begin to do is the practice of forgiveness—forgiving what they think has happened to them, forgiving the people that they think has done something to them. And forgiveness, of course, strengthens you and gives you your power back.

That's one of the beginning stages, and then they learn valuable tools in stage two. They learn the basic metaphysical tools of learning how to see rightly, how to use your creative imagination to imagine a better life for yourself, to see a better world for yourself, to use the power of visualization and affirmation and right conversation and monitor your thinking and embracing the emotions that you have right now and seeing that you're not those emotions but those emotions are passing through you.

These are all things that you learn at the stage two awareness. After awhile, an individual can become adept at learning how to manifest by monitoring their thinking, seeing things correctly, embracing a higher order of conversation, better life enhancing habits, etc., until they are pretty much using the laws of manifestation to strengthen the structures of their life—the structures being a higher level of prosperity, higher level of health at the body temple, the mental body, the emotional body, our relationships, the body of our affairs.

We begin to no longer be victimized by external circumstances. We can begin to see that our mind is very powerful and our thinking is very powerful and has a lot to do with our perception and it has a lot to do with our experience. And that's coming into a level of mastery at this stage two level.

TS: Moving then from two to three? Let's keep going.

MBB: Moving from two to three—what happens is when an individual begins to manifest and they begin to see really that there are laws in the universe, that your thoughts are real, they're units of mental energy as I describe them. A unit of mental energy can actually transmute itself into perception and then experience. People begin to either unconsciously or consciously know that we really are governed by law and that there's an order that we all can depend on. The universe is not willy-nilly. It's not chaotic. There really is an underlying order behind everything even though it appears to be chaotic at times.

When that begins to happen, there begins to emerge a willingness to surrender, to let go, to allow, to yield—these words kind of creep in. They're more feminine. Stage two is more masculine—I can do it! I can make it happen. If my mind can conceive it, I can achieve it. I can accomplish it. Stage two is, "I'll make it happen," stage three is, "I'll make it welcome." So it's more of a yielding and allowing, but it's based upon the awareness that there's an order in the universe, that you've proven to yourself through stage two mastery. So it's not blind faith. Some individuals have a kind of religious blind faith. They just kind of say, "I surrender my life to God," or something to that effect, without really having any understanding of what that may even be.

Through stage two mastery, you begin to understand that there is a presence. There is a unitive awareness that doesn't compromise nor contradict itself. So surrender is based upon real work that you've done on stage two. So you can let go. So when you here phrases like, "I let go and let life." Or, "I let go and let God." It's not from blind faith, it's from an awareness that there really is an order there. And we reclaim the word "surrender." People have been afraid of the word because they have a misbegotten notion about some presence called God—you know, if I surrender my life to God, that's going to mean that maybe God's will for me is to be poor and unhappy for the rest of my life. But when we understand through this kind of inner work that this presence can't compromise itself, that the will of God—if we can use that language—really means a greater expression of life, that if we could say, "What is the will of God," I would say that the will of God is always for a greater expression of life, a greater expression of love, a greater expression of beauty and creativity and the infinite nature of life.

Now, when we are surrendering, what are we surrendering to? We're surrendering to the next stage of our own evolution. We're surrendering to what's trying to emerge in our own life. So everyone has had the experience of being in the zone—either an athlete, or a poet, or an orator, or a surgeon, or a writer. [They're] suddenly beyond their preparation that they've done mentally. Something seems to take them over and they're witnessing a greater life that is their life. [They're] operating and doing things of excellence that is beyond their preparation. That's more of a stage three level. You've surrendered to something that's trying to happen through you.

And then our inner work becomes more [about] allowing ourselves to be open to those kinds of moments, where it is our life, but there's an added factor—something else is coming through us. Stage two, we're clearly seeing what we want, describing it, invoking the law. You don't describe what you see, you see what you describe—that's visualization. At stage three, something's operating through you, beyond your imagination. So I often say: stage two, if you can see it, you can have it. Stage three [is] beyond what you can see, beyond your imagination; good begins to flow into your life. And that's where the juice is. That's where the really juicy, delicious stuff is, beyond which you can imagine. Because whatever you can imagine is still a form of limitation, regardless of how good it is. Beyond what you can imagine is really touching the next stage of your own evolution.

TS: Now, you call stage three "channel consciousness."

MBB: Yes.

TS: And you say that there's a thin line between channel consciousness and stage four, which is being consciousness. So help us understand that thin line.

MBB: Right. Stage three there often times is still a little bit of separation, a perception of separation between us and life itself. And we can call life God, we can call it an intelligence, beauty, whatever name we want to call this presence that is everywhere in its fullness—omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, omniactive.

There's a thin line, and often times—you know, I was speaking to a surgeon at one time, a heart surgeon, and he was explaining that he was doing a really intricate surgery that he really had never done before, and it fell upon him to do it. And something happened where something took him over and he was witnessing himself do this surgery. Of course it was his hands, his surgical procedure, all of the anatomy and everything he had studied, it came to bear. But he was witnessing the surgery. And so there was a little thin separation between him and the action that was taking place, even though he was doing the action, if you understand what I'm saying.

TS: Yes.

MBB: And so there's a little bit of separation in that channel, something is operating through us. I can remember that sometimes when I'm speaking, particularly a number of years ago, I would go into a zone and I could really see something operating through me. And then there are moments where this line disappears and it's me. This presence is me. And the line is gone. So we can actually say, "I am this presence."

I ask individuals to notice [that] when they are meditating or when they are praying. Sometimes they'll notice that they're praying, but there's a little bit of a feeling that they are praying to something. That little bit of feeling of praying to something, is that line of separation. And then there are moments where the line disappears and we realize, "Oh my God, I'm praying from something. I'm aware that this life, it's my life." You see? It's not that, "I am God," but it is that, "All that I am is God. All that I am is life."

So it's not narcissism, it's not ego-centric. It's just an awareness that there's no other life but this one life, and the line gets thinner and thinner. There are probably individuals, if they think about it or they remember where they had moments where the line disappeared, even if it was for a nanosecond, where suddenly there is nothing else but there's life. You see? And so stage three and four, I believe, are the stages where we speak about individuals like the Buddha, we speak about individuals like Jesus the Christ, or individuals like that who lived primarily in stage three and four. [They] mastered stage two, but lived primarily in stage three, four.

TS: Well, it seems like part of your thesis is everyday people can also start living in stages three and four as the primary focus of their life.

MBB: Absolutely. Particularly, I think it really happens more like grace. You can't force it, but through inner work and the vision process itself, which is a meditative technology, you're giving yourself permission and you're setting an intention—an intention not [to be] willful but directional, to live at that level. And because it's not blind faith, but it's based upon the inner work that you've done on stage two, you can relax into it. You can let it. And then you find yourself having more and more insights, having revelations, having a level of wisdom and guidance and direction—not coming from your planning mind, not coming from figuring something out, but more intuition is being activated. There's an allowing state—you become more of a vehicle for something to occur, and then [you set] yourself up for more of that demarcation to dissolve.

TS: Thank you for taking the time to lay out the four stage model, because I have several questions about it, and now that it's clear, I think it will be easy for these questions to be comprehendible for people. So the first one is, when you have a teaching—let's use two different examples from two different levels—something like The Secret, that's focused on manifestor consciousness. That's how it is, that's how the world works. It seems to me that that can create some confusion for people, because we're only looking at one stage and acting like it's the total picture. So I'm curious what your thoughts are.

And we'll use as a [second] example teachings where we're only looking at being consciousness. That's it. We don't have a separate self anymore, we don't need the laws of the universe, we're beyond it all. So I'm curious here in this stage model what you think of potentially the dangers of teachings that only focus on one stage.

MBB: I think that's a great question, because what I try to let people know is that you're a spiritual being having a human incarnation, and [in] having a human incarnation, we are to basically seek to master all of these domains. So stage two for me, like for instance in The Secret, that's [the] entry level into teaching people that they can begin to participate in their own destiny. They can begin to notice that they don't have to be victimized by their past, by familial influences, societal influences, etc.

Once you get that, you can't stop there, even though the danger is that—and you're asking what the danger is—people become addicted to stage two manifestation. Unless they are involved with the evolution of their soul faculty, they become addicted to manifesting and they end up hoarding. They can become greedy. They can become individuals that become spiritually materialistic using these mental laws to get more and more stuff, this type of thing, rather than understanding that these laws are for the purpose of what I call stabilizing the structures of your life—so that you can be freer to tap into the powers of your soul, so that you begin to release your gifts, and your talents, and your capacities, to be what I call the beneficial presence on the planet.

Now, teachings that deal with just the absolute, just being itself, the danger of that is that people can into lofty states of consciousness and not manifest, not be earthly good. I can remember a number of years ago in my own life, I had a tremendous awaking and was very aware of my oneness of life, and there was a period of time where I wasn't integrated. I really didn't care about the human incarnation. I didn't care about money. I didn't care about too much of anything other than staying in these blissful, expanded states. And at some point, the fact that I had a child, and had bills, and a body temple, [I knew] I had to integrate, and discover why I had taken the human incarnation in the first place.

So then, not giving up the higher state of being, [I] had to integrate and learn how to manifest, to be in this world to make a difference in this world, and to find my way in this world, to release my gifts, my talent, and the reason why I chose the incarnation. So it's not an either/or, it's a both/and. It's being able to manifest, yes, but for the purpose of being a presence on the planet and to releasing our gifts and our talents and inner capacities.

TS: Now, you mentioned an awakening that happened that brought you into stage four consciousness for a period of time. Can you tell me what happened?

MBB: It's happened on more than one occasion, but the first time as an adult, when it happened, I had a lucid dream and I was killed in the dream. I've talked about that from time to time. My reality is I knew it shattered, and the windows of perception opened up and I could see that we were surrounded by this presence of such luminosity and beauty and intelligence, and there was no place where it began and I left off, we were one in the same. It was everywhere. It was in all of life. And that totally just shifted everything in my life and I went on a search to discover what had happened to me. Over time, I would go into periods of just deep luminosity and light and rhythms of intelligence, and information would flow. And it was just so blissful and so beautiful. That's all that mattered to me for long periods of time. People thought I'd freaked out. My parents were a bit concerned about me. It was a very interesting time in my life. I was fine with it. I was happy.

And [I began] to foray into the discovery of the teachers of the great masters and the mystics and the mystical traditions. But at some point I had to realize that I have a human carnation, and it's not accidental that I have a human incarnation. There's a reason for me to be here—not just to sit in a full lotus position and to meditate all day, even though that does have a benefit to myself and a benefit to the planet. There must have been some other reason. And so there had to be an integration process, and I began to integrate so that I could bring this state of consciousness into something that would be beneficial to the planet and the people around me.

TS: Do you think it's possible for somebody to be at one stage at one part of their life and another stage at another part of their life—you know, "When it comes to relationships, I certainly feel like a victim, it seems like I always get dumped, but when it comes to my work like, I don't know, it's just I'm a vessel for life to move through me"?

MBB: Absolutely. You can have a level of competence in one level, where things just flow through you, it's almost as if you're not thinking and you have a level of excellence. And on another level, you can be victimized. That's why the four stages are not really a linear model. It's more of an emergent model, and you may find that in one level of your life you are a victim, or you feel victimized, or one level of your life you feel that you really have to see and visualize what you want and take control of your mind. And [in] another level of your life, it just comes very naturally, and you just find yourself having a level of such excellence, such competence that you very rarely think about. You just have a level of mastery in that area. Absolutely.

TS: You may think this is a curious question, but sometimes in organizational life, a business life, a publishing life—I'm thinking of Sounds True—and other organizations that appeal to an audience. They say, "Know your level that you're speaking to. Are you addressing people who are at the manifestor level or are you addressing people who are at the channel or being level? Who are you talking to, because you have to language things to that audience?" And one of the things that I think is so unique about you, Reverend Beckwith, is that in your Agape ministry, you seem to have found a way to talk to people at all different levels. And I'm curious if you can speak to that?

MBB: You know, I can't tell you how I do it, but I can tell you that I'm aware that when I stand up to speak, I am conscious that there is somebody that walked in [who] is very new to the human and spiritual potential movement. And I'm also very aware that there's somebody sitting there [who] has been meditating for 30 years, and [there's] then all the consciousness in between that. I'm aware of that.

So when I'm speaking, there [are] certain things that I say that are very basic and fundamental. They are fundamental enough that even the most advanced practitioner of meditation, of visioning, will need to hear it every week. And there are certain things that I'm saying that are nuanced that the beginner may not understand. The advanced practitioner will understand the nuance of what I'm saying, but the beginner will understand the growth aspect of what I'm saying. And a number of years later, the individuals who've actually meditated for awhile will understand the nuance of what I'm saying.

It's the same way in the book, in the Life Visioning book I'm writing. There are certain things that [are] right there that if you're a beginner, you'll absolutely get what I'm saying. But if you've been meditating for a number of years, then there's something else you will see that you couldn't see unless you've actually and done the vision process for awhile or actually meditated. So for me it's more of just an awareness that I'm speaking to a wide variety of individuals. And so sometimes, I'll even stop and I'll say, "I know somebody here today doesn't have a job." And I'll actually stop and break down whatever I'm speaking about in the language of somebody who doesn't have a job and this is how you apply this particular principle. Or I'll think about somebody who's been practicing for a number of years, and I'll say, "For those of you who have been practicing for a number of years, you may be thinking X,Y, and Z, but I want you to catch underneath what I'm saying is this." So it just kind of flows like that and then everyone kind of gets what they need.

I'm also aware that there's another level of communication that's happening that's on a meta level, that's beyond my words, that through their listening and through our connection on the invisible level, they're being taught by their higher self. And they get to catch and hear what they need to hear. Sometimes individuals will hear something that I'm not even verbally saying. And they're hearing it from themselves. I'm just creating the space and the energy for them to listen to their own higher self teach them. And they will say things like, "Dr. Beckwith, I really appreciated what you said when you said, 'Thus and so,' it really changed my life.'" I know that I really didn't say that, but they heard it because that's what they needed to hear. They were getting that from themselves, you see? So the energy in the room, the field that was created in the room, and their listening, provide the context for them to hear what they need to hear as well.

TS: Now, you mentioned how in your own life, through a series of awakenings, you've become familiar with this level of being consciousness. I'm curious, have you felt that there have been strands of you that might still be stuck in something like victim consciousness, and you meet it 10 years later or 20 years later and you go, "Oh my God, there's still this part of me that feels like a victim in this situation. I would have never have thought so"? Or at certain point is that just gone, that level just doesn't show up anymore?

MBB: I probably don't identify it as victim, but I think there [are] places in me where I will go through terrific cleansings and upheavals. I guess at the moment, it may feel like victim, but I think because I'm familiar with the process I don't call it that. I'm just aware that there's a tremendous amount of angst. There's a tremendous amount of upheaval emotionally and I'm aware that I'm in process.

Years ago, I may have identified it as being victimized by some perception. Now I'm aware that I'm in the process, and I seek to be still and embrace it and see what lie I'm telling myself, what's being cleansed out. Hoping and praying that it doesn't last a long time. [Laughs]

TS: Interesting. So I'm curious, can you tell me about a cleansing or upheaval that happened not so terribly long ago?

MBB: Let me see. It comes periodically. Let's see if I can put my finger on it. If I had my spiritual journal in front of me, I could probably just go right to it.

TS: Well, I'll tell you why I think it's so important to talk about it too, MBB, and the reason is that I think sometimes people think, "Oh, that person's reached being consciousness and that's sort of the end of the road for them, and there are no more upheavals or cleansings."

MBB: No, no.

TS: I think this is an important thing to bring forward.

MBB: This is an ongoing process, and because we are here, I like to say that we are radically unique expressions of infinitude. It's always an ongoing process. So since spiritual growth and development is not about gaining anything, it's always about releasing something, there's always release. Sometimes the release is mild, and sweet, and wonderful. Sometimes the release is chaotic and nasty, and doesn't feel good. I probably, within the last month, can remember feeling somewhat separate from the divine presence, and wanting to say, "You know what, I really don't want to go into that. I really don't want to go speak. I'm not really up to it."

[When I said that, I noticed] the solar plexus being in a state of upheaval, a level of agitation, tiredness at the body temple, mental fatigue, and then at that moment, going up and releasing, and then at that moment, being more in stage three, where something is operating through me. People [were] telling me, "Golly, that was one of the best moments I've ever seen you in." And [I know] that I wasn't in gear with it, it was actually coming through me. But I'm wondering how it came off, because my mind's not engaged, it's not operating on all cylinders, I'm feeling that I'm inarticulate, not fluent, or fluid, but I surrendered to this presence. And people are saying, "Wow, that was great!" But inside, I'm feeling, "No, it's not great, I'm disconnected," and then immediately, just wanting to go home and be in my room and just kind of work with myself, until I come back to a level of coherence.

So there are those moments. And in the beginning of the moments, years ago, when that first happens, we make a federal case out of it. Our stuff is up, what does this mean? We analyze the thought—you know, what perception is being cleansed out? Where is this from? Is this from childhood stuff? Is this false belief? We analyze it, and then as years go on, we don't make a federal case out of it as much. We just know that we're going through it. And I'm not ashamed to look at some of the people around me that are strong supporters and ask for help and say, "Hey, I'm going through something right now, just hold me in a wonderful space," you know. And then go about my business.

TS: That's very helpful, thank you. Now, I think we've done a pretty good job of laying out these four progressive stages. Can you tell us how the process of Life Visioning works within this map, the actual process of coming up with—is it coming up with a vision for my life? I want to find the right job, I want to find the right partner? How does that work?

MBB: Right. Well, I'll delineate it from visualizing—first of all, visualizing is stage two, where you actually say what you want, and you mentally see it, embrace it emotionally as if you already have it, and seek to manifest it. That stage is a sweet stage of growth. The only difficult thing with that stage is sometimes what you manifest is obsolete by the time it manifests, and sometimes the individual really doesn't know what they want. They think they want an ideal of success that they've inherited from society or from their parents, and so they end up manifesting things that two or three years later, they actually pray to get rid of.

In stage three—I have it in the book, too, it's a wonderful statement that's in there. I happened to open up to the page when I looked through the book yesterday and I was glad that I got it in there. It's the difference between what you should be and what you're meant to be. What you should be comes from an external authority figures, and when you accomplish it, your ego says, "I've done it." What you're meant to be is something that unfolds from within you, and when it occurs, there's a level of gratitude and humility. So [in] stage three visioning, you're actually opening yourself up to what you're meant to be. And that is, just as an acorn is meant to be an oak tree, according to that unique pattern, we're radically unique expressions of the infinite and there's what we're meant to be. There are gifts, and talents, and capacities and ways we are to express the qualities of this presence, that only we can do in a unique way.

And so the vision process [really] begins with questions that sensitize our spiritual faculties, so that allows us to—for instance, in the sensorium, our eyes, our ears, our taste, our smell, touching, these are prophetics of spiritual faculties of being actually to see the invisible and to hear the inaudible and to feel that which is intangible. So when we ask the right questions in the vision process, we are actually cultivating the ability to begin to see again from the spiritual domain. We begin to ask, "What is the vision for my life? What is God's idea of itself as my life?" And if we ask that sincerely enough times from a meditative context, we begin to activate a faculty, not just what we can see with our eyes, but we begin to catch what we're meant to be. We catch something that's within us.

Analogies are sometimes dangerous, but if a caterpillar would go into a vision process and say, "What am I meant to be?" it would begin to catch a little bit of a butterfly. "Oh, I think I'm seeing wings here, I'm seeing myself flying." You see? We begin to catch something symbolic, or on a feeling level or on a visual level or mental level, a hearing level, maybe hearing something, begin to catch smatterings of something. And as we do this on a regular basis, we are sensitizing our inner faculty to rightly see the invisible and to ultimately hear the inaudible.

As we begin to go through the rest of the vision process—which has something to do with the willingness to become something more in consciousness, to access the gifts that we already have, to release patterns and thoughts that are no longer necessary, to amplify our willingness and to amplify our sacred yes factor, and to enter into states of gratitude. As we go through the whole process, we become more available to living life from the inside out rather than from the outside in. And then what happens is we find ourselves, after a period of time, in that kind of state a lot, even though we're not formally in the vision process. We're living from that question a lot. What's trying to emerge in my life? What's trying to happen right now? What gift is trying to be birthed in my life? What faculty is trying to come forward? Now we're living life from a much more empowered state, rather than from the victim state, or rather than from just trying to make something happen with my mind. I'm more available to what I'm meant to be. It's more humble, it's more grateful. It's a different way of living.

TS: I know you've taught thousands of people this process of Life Visioning. What do you see when you teach people, what seem to be the biggest obstacles?

MBB: Patience. Oftentimes people want to hurry up and get it and go do something without being able to clearly articulate or feel their vision. They want to just hurry up and manifest something. We need to exercise a degree of patience, and then once we're able to articulate, to a degree, what's trying to emerge in our life, we begin to feel it, and begin to walk with it, there is what I call "compelling right action." We're almost compelled to do the right thing. We become a paramagnetic field that then radiates into our life. People [and] circumstances bend for us, things change because our inner dynamic is different.

There's an old statement: "Infinite patience brings about immediate results." When we're really aligned with the vision and we have a level of patience around it, it doesn't mean inaction. Ernest Holmes once said that, "To he who can most perfectly practice inaction, to him all things are possible." But that inaction is not laziness or lethargy or apathy. Mental agitation is gone. It's a different kind of inaction that brings about right action. And so the vision process allows us to go into a level of inaction, but it's a different kind of action from the inside out, where we're seeing something, we're able to clearly articulate it, feel it, and then it brings about its own action. It's like, we cannot not act once we touch that realm.

TS: It sounds like part of what you're saying is that people often jump to the operational side of, "How can I make this all happen?" before they're even clear that the thing they're making happen is really, to use your language, what they're "meant to do."

MBB: Absolutely. When I was forming Agape, and I was utilizing the vision process, we sat for months—you know, no business plan, no operation plan, no going looking for buildings, none of that. It was all inner work. What does the vision look like? How can we become the vision? And so the people that got bored with the question, "What must I become in order to manifest this vision known as Agape?" they left. They wanted to do something else. They wanted to get the business plan together. They wanted to go out on a search and find a building to start Agape. They wanted to go out and fundraise. They wanted to do all of these operational things. And so, when those people left, I was left with a core group of people, who wanted to become Agape in consciousness. They wanted to become individuals that could really hold the space of unconditional love. They wanted to become the space of individuals who could really love people that didn't look like them, that could be servants—you know, that kind of energy.

At the right moment, when that group of people really felt like that, then we almost knew it was time to go to the next step. You know, what must we do? Then we went into the operation of it, but the people who couldn't sit long enough were gone. And interestingly enough, when we actually started to actually do [move into the operation, to say,] "Okay, we need to look for a building, we've got to do this, we've got to do that," then those people came in handy. But they weren't the vision holders or the leaders of the beginning structures of departments and ministries—those were being held by the people who were actually holding the template and the vibration of the vision, who had gone through the inner process, who had become the vibration themselves.

The main thing around visioning is you cannot have what you're not willing to become in consciousness, because even if you get something—this is true for stage two—if you're not really vibrating at that level, you're going to lose it. You can temporarily manipulate and steal, manipulate, dominate, and get something, but then you're going to have to use that same kind of energy to keep it. But once you become it in consciousness, somebody can steal it from you, but it's going to come back because that's who you are.

TS: So, for an example to make that concrete, becoming receptive to a certain amount of love in your life, it's something that you meditate on until you feel comfortable with it, or what do you mean exactly by becoming it in consciousness?

MBB: Absolutely. It's a meditative process. So for instance, using Agape as an example again, I would say, "What is the vision of Agape?" And then people would begin to share, "Agape is a place of unconditional love, etc. What must I become in order to manifest this vision?" Then people would introspect, without censorship or denial, and they would look within themselves, and they would see where they could not hold that particular frequency. They were impatient with people.

I can remember one individual, I still remember this to this day, was very nervous about Agape. She liked the small intimate group in my living room, but she had to become loving of new people in order for Agape to grow. She didn't want new people to come in. She liked the small group of people and the people that she knew and felt safe with. But in order for Agape to be a community, it meant that new people would have to come in. So she had to look at herself, and actually challenge the part of herself that kept people at bay, [the part that said] everyone else was a stranger, and actually embrace other people in her life.

So people would have to look at themselves to see what they personally would have to become in order to manifest whatever the vision is. If it's love, if it's prosperity, if it's health—everyone has their own blocks, their own entrances, their own blind spots, and when you ask the question, within us, we know those blind spots. We may hide them from ourselves, but when we ask the questions with sincerity, they pop in our awareness and then we embrace them, and we become willing to challenge them and go beyond them.

TS: There's a quote from the Life Visioning book that I'd love [for] you to comment on: "The primary atmosphere of Life Visioning is a feeling tone of incomparable love."

MBB: Absolutely. We begin every vision process with awareness of unconditional love, just total givingness of the presence. And so—just as I did 26 years ago, and we continue to do—I invite people to go to a place where they feel that, and find a time in their life where they were in the field of unconditional love. It could have been a moment when they were with a grandparent, a friend—someone that regardless of whether you had made a mistake, or whether you had done something very great, they just loved you anyway. The love wasn't based on a merit or demerit system, it was just love.

[So I invite people] to build upon that feeling tone, and then that becomes the foundation of the vision process. This presence—by whatever you choose to call it, "love"—is a total givingness without any sense of withhold. And so we base the vision process on that kind of love to get into that healing tone, so that which is seeking to emerge is emerging in field of love, a field of self-love and appreciation, that we're not hindering it in any way with any sense of self-loathing, lack of self worth, lack of self-esteem. It may not come full bloom in the first session, but we eventually build into it until we can actually hold the field of love. And love is not sweet sentimentality. It's a powerful total givingness, without any withholding whatsoever.

TS: It seems to me that what you said about receiving what we're "meant to be" versus what we think we're supposed to be, that somehow that's related to receiving whatever kinds of instructions we might in an atmosphere of this kind of love.

MBB: Absolutely. The grace, which is also the total givingness, and that kind of love—we can hear it. We can hear it better. I often say, it's the angel of evolutionary progression whispering within [your] ear that you're more than you think you are. And if you listen in that atmosphere of love, you can begin to hear the sweet pulling of what you're meant to be. It's beyond what society can give you, beyond what your parents have told you, because from the time we're born, we're being pulled to acclimate to the society in which we are living. And we of course to certain degree for our survival, we have to.

But our reason for being here is more than just fitting into society. Our reason for being here is releasing our gifts so that society evolves. Because we're here, and if that society stays the same while you're here, then you haven't released your gift. You've just acclimated, but you haven't felt the love and the tenderness of the spirit within you, gently pulling you to be more yourself—which is sometimes a frightening proposition when you don't quite know yourself yet.

TS: Now MBB, I just have one final question for you. We've been talking about this four-stage model, in terms of an individual, their process, and I'm curious how you see it, potentially, as a collective process. Do you think that as a world community, we're moving through anything like these stages? Where are we now, and how do you see this as a collective phenomenon?

MBB: Well, of course when you look at the globe and the planet, collectively, there are people all across the globe in different stages of consciousness. You have people operating from the level of survival, and not even considering their evolution yet because they have to figure out how they're going to eat tomorrow, all the way to people who have way more than they need and have enough time to experience art and the beauty and spiritual practice, and every stage in between. But on the whole, I would say that there is something that is emerging now on the planet.

I believe that we are, as someone once said, we're hospicing old structures that no longer serve us. We're midwifing a new energy on the planet at this time in human history, and we're coming into a place that life has it has been is unsustainable. Particularly in the Western world we have used the powers of manifestation to gain and to get control, to manipulate, to hoard. Even structures, banking structures, Wall Street, etc., who had so much preying on individuals who had little, just to get more, those structures are unsustainable. And so they are dissolving in front of [us]. Within a generation, in our lifetime, we cannot say the phrase, "You can take that to the bank." In the 50s and 60s, that was a powerful statement. People wouldn't dare say that now because banks are failing. Plus, banks aren't necessarily service models to the population. They prey upon the population based on a model of greed and scarcity.

So we're in the process of birthing something else. And that something else that is being birthed will be built upon the platform of plenitude and abundance, whereas the old model has been built upon scarcity and lack. I think we're in the middle of that kind of flux where the old is dying and the new is being born, and so it appears to be very chaotic right now. So I see an emergence, a re-emergence of the values of community, compassion, taking care of each other, art and beauty, resourcefulness, innovativeness, individuals coming out of the victim stage, or looking outside themselves to governments and things of that particular nature to take care of them. [I see us] coming into a much more innovativeness based on necessity and much more creativity based on necessity, and taking care of each other based on necessity and birthing a higher order of being. I think we're in that process.

TS: And then just to end, I can't help myself, I'm going to ask, could you give us a blessing for Life Visioning in our life, and even further, it's impact in our social structures?

MBB: I absolutely would love to. Throw me into the briar patch on that. [Laughs]

TS: This is what happens when you're a reverend! Do you know what I mean?

MBB: Oh, absolutely. That's my calling. And so in this moment, I invite us to just stop in this moment, and where ever we are, we'll just take a breath. We allow this breath to be a talisman that every time we notice we're breathing, it pulls us back to our authentic self. Not really the personality construct, but the Self with the capital "S". The self that is a continuum of life itself, that was never born and will never die.

We enter into this space of such gratitude and thanksgiving for being an expression of existence itself. And we give ourselves permission to be grateful in this moment, to be thankful in this moment for anything at all, or nothing at all. And from this consciousness of gratitude and thanksgiving, it is my joy and privilege to speak the word—which is now a law unto itself, it only knows its own fulfillment—for everyone listening to this conversation. Knowing that we are connected on the invisible side of life, and as I am being lifted up into this rarified atmosphere of absolute truth of my being, I speak the word to each and every individual that is listening and to levels of excellence and well-being, safety and harmonizing prosperity, beauty and love, beyond their wildest imagining. I know that the word that I am speaking is a law unto itself that only knows its own fulfillment, and is a law of elimination that dissolves anything that would hinder, delay, obstruct, or deny the fullness of life from expressing through us right now.

And this life includes beauty. This life includes love. This life includes joy and harmony and happiness. This life includes harmonizing prosperity, health and well-being, joy, wisdom and guidance flowing through us in a language and in a way that we can understand and act upon. The entire universe is conspiring on its own behalf for our freedom that it may release life energy through us, and come into its own as us.

And so we give thanks that this moment is another moment where we get to say, "Yes to life. Yes to beauty. Yes to joy. Yes to health. Yes to harmony. Yes to well-being. And beyond our wildest imagination we can allow good to take over our existence. This is my prayer. And I speak it with the authority of one knowing that all that there is is truly a manifestation of the only thing that there is, which is the power and presence of life itself. I give thanks for this. I feel grateful. And I let it be now and unto forever more. And so it is. Amen.

TS: Amen. Thank you so much. I've been speaking with Michael Bernard Beckwith. He's the author of a new book from Sounds True on Life Visioning. It's a very pioneering book, a book that really goes into quite some depth about these four different stages of consciousness and offers a full instruction in the Life Visioning Process, a transformative process for activating your unique gifts and highest potential. MBB, thank you so much for being with us today. You're heavy, deep, and real man, I love it.

MBB: Thank you so much Tami. It is my joy collaborating with you, on this wonderful excursion into bringing Life Visioning to the masses.

TS: SoundsTrue.com. Many voices, one journey. Thanks for listening.