Search Weekly Wisdom
Insights at the Edge
Tami Simon's in-depth audio podcast interviews with leading spiritual teachers and luminaries.
Listen in as they explore their latest challenges and breakthroughs—the leading edge of their work.
Offering Everything to the Divine
Tosha Silver is a veteran spiritual teacher and the author of Change Me Prayers: The Hidden Power of Spiritual Surrender. She runs the online Living “Outrageous Openness” school, which guides participants in discovering their own “inner love.” In this inspiring episode of Insights at the Edge, Tosha and Tami Simon speak on offering ourselves and our situation to the divine—especially during tough or troubling times. They also talk about the importance of knowing how to receive, and why so many find it difficult to do so. Finally, Tami and Tosha discuss the importance of clearing clutter from our lives and how to write our own prayers for personal change. (65 minutes)
Tami Simon: You’re listening to Insights at the Edge. Today, my guest is Tosha Silver. Tosha graduated from Yale with a degree in English literature, but along the way fell madly in love with yogic philosophy. For the past 30 years, she’s taught people around the world ways to align with what she calls “inner love.” She runs an online school called Living “Outrageous Openness” Think Like a Goddess. This school offers and ongoing way to support those who truly want to live these beautiful, ancient practices.
She’s the author of the book Outrageous Openness and the new book Change Me Prayers: The Hidden Power of Spiritual Surrender, where she shows how to truly surrender to a divine plan in a joyous and uplifting way.
In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tosha and I spoke about offering tough situations in one’s life to the divine and the signals that occur in life that tell you that it’s time to do so. We also talked about the importance of being able to receive—whether that’s love or financial abundance or happiness—and why so many of us have blocks to receiving, [as well as] what types of change-me prayers we might be able to invoke to help us. We also talked about guidelines for writing your own change-me prayers, how to work with what Tosha calls “a god-box,” the value of clearing clutter in your life, and how to align with the divine even during times of difficulty and loss. Here’s my very inspiring conversation with Tosha Silver:
Tosha, welcome. It’s great to have this chance to talk with you.
Tosha Silver: Thanks, Tami. Happy to be here.
Simon: In your book, Outrageous Openness, you reference the writings and teachings of someone I had never heard of—a writer from the 1940s, Florence Scovel Shinn. Who is Florence Shinn, and how did her work influence you?
Silver: Well, you know, she’s a piece of the story for me. There’s a few others as well. But, the piece that came from Florence is that she was a metaphysician in the 1940s, like you said. Actually, one of her main books was called The Game of Life and How to Play It, which I thought was kind of a corny title when I first heard about it. But, it was actually profound in its own way because it began to reference these ideas like divine Source that I use in both books that I wrote later.
[These were] ideas like: Nothing actually belongs to you, the small self. Your money, your home, your body—really, anything. But, it’s all given to you through the large “S” of divine Source, then you receive it as you are meant to receive it, and you let it go as you’re meant to let it go. You’re always anchored in a place of prosperity and abundance because God’s your Source, not each individual person, place, or thing. So, for me that was one of the central ideas in her work that just captivated me, because we live in a culture—even sometimes people that have been on spiritual routes for a very long time still go into the illusion from the culture that this stuff is ours.
So, that’s the kind of thing she wrote about. She also wrote about divine order—that there is for any question, for any problem, you can actually invoke the divine and say that the perfect solution is already selected, and you’re open to being guided to that. You’re open to being shown the right actions.
So, there was a kind of—I’d say—spiritual pragmatism to her. It was just like, “How do you deal with the nitty-gritty of day-to-day problems and offer them to the divine?” I sort of took off from there and did my own contemporary way of approaching all this more deeply. But, she was really a starting point for me.
Simon: Now, when I asked you about Florence Shinn, you said she was a part of the origin of your work with outrageous openness and divine order, but obviously there were other parts that you were pointing to in answering that way. What were the other main origin contributions?
Silver: It’s kind of funny, because it’s such a different orientation than Florence Shinn—but, in the end, it’s related. If you know Nisargadatta Maharaj, the great Indian Saint—he wrote the book I Am That. He had this line that has haunted me for years, which is basically, “When all desires are allowed to become preferences, then the universe begins to act through you instead of you acting.”
So, it’s like everything is done through you rather than by you. I had heard that line from him for years and basically was like, “But how do you do that? That’s a really great idea, but how do you actually get out of the way?”
I wasn’t finding a lot of places that were saying, “How do you do it?” His approach was, “You will do this. This will happen.” But I wasn’t finding that it was happening for me. [Laughs.]
So, I began to play around inside my own self—that for me, having a bhakti orientation, or seeing the divine as the Beloved, it began to come to me that you could give yourself to the divine. You could offer yourself to the divine. That was the huge part of why the title of Outrageous Openness is Letting the Divine Take the Lead, and the same thing with Change Me Prayers. What came later was this idea that you yourself could call in the divine and say, “Take this action over. Take me over. Take this problem over. Take this burden over.” So, he actually was a huge part of the process for me.
Then, also, just my own background. I had a crazy life of doing 30,000 sessions with my own clients and seeing the issues that came up over and over for people, and wanting to find practical tools for how they could give themselves to something larger.
Simon: Thirty thousand sessions as an astrologer, doing readings and seeing certain patterns or themes that people brought up?
Silver: Yes. Yes. In particular, just this very human thing of—one way or another, we’re all taught to be a good doer. So, it would be like, “Well, tell me when the transits are going to change so I can finally buy the house I want,” or, “Tell me when a partner is [inaudible.]” All the various things that people would ask about. Or, “Tell me when my body’s going to feel better.” Or even spiritually lofty ones like, “Tell me when my sadhana is finally going to take fire and I’ll be able to calm my mind.”
So, all these things just kept leading me back to this idea that the more everything is offered to the divine, the more you’re actually inviting that Source to do the acting through you. It’s such a fundamental core shift that—you know, I’m certainly not the only person to talk about it. Rumi and Hafiz and all the Sufi poets talked about it day and night. Christian mystics talked about it.
But, just that idea that you can pray and invite that force to do the doing.
Simon: Now, you said something that I imagine might be difficult for some people to really digest. [This] is you said, in studying the work of Florence Shinn, that one of the ideas that influenced you was this idea that nothing belongs to you—not your body, not your house, not your money.
I find that that’s a challenging thought. Nothing belongs to me? Really? I mean, it’s my car. If I walked out to the parking lot and it wasn’t there, I think I would be like, “Hey, wait a second. I paid for that car. Excuse me?”
Silver: Yes. Well, I would say it’s on loan. Of course, I think it’s part of why this act of taking care of everything with great love is so valuable. I don’t think of it like, “Oh, well. It doesn’t belong to me, so I’ll go drive the car over a cliff.” I think of it like, “Everything is on loan from the divine.”
You certainly know that because you watch in a heartbeat how it can be taken away. In a heartbeat—fire or robbery. I had a big robbery at my house a few years ago, and it was kind of like the goddess Kali just walked in and took everything that she wanted, and walked out. I saw it that way in order to keep my sanity, because then you don’t really waste a lot of time being bitter and furious about it.
If you use the divine Source idea that Florence talked about, then you could say it was easy for the divine to replace any loss. There’s a line—I think it’s in the Bible—that says, “In the world of God, there is no gain or loss.” That’s kind of this. It’s only in the world of illusion that there’s gain or loss.
Simon: And then when you talk about this idea of “doer-ship”—and you and I had a conversation on the phone a few weeks ago, and you talked about really how this core theme of releasing personal doer-ship runs through all of your work. I’m wondering if you can help people understand that, especially when it feels like, “Hey, you know—I’m the one who’s going to have to do XYZ,” or even draw this very strong boundary in a certain situation. That requires a lot of doer-ship—to say, “Hell no,” in a situation. It feels like doer-ship.
Silver: Yes, thanks for adding the “feels like,” because what I would say is that this act of offering everything to the divine has nothing to do with passivity. It has to do with the right actions emerging at the right time. Sometimes, that means completely kicking ass and absolutely saying, “Hell no,” to something, and not being a doormat.
So, it has nothing to do with that. It’s just that there’s a shift of identity of who or what is doing that action through you. I guess the example I could give you is: once, I had to make a really hard phone call to somebody who was violating my boundaries.
So, I don’t have any illusions of, “Oh, the divine’s taking the lead. You have no boundaries.” It’s quite the opposite. You actually get a self-respect that lets you set boundaries.
So, before I had to call this person, I did a meditation and prayer. I basically said to this force of love, “Do the talking. You need to do the talking.” It’s almost like, if it was left up to me—the small self, the ego identity—I would have actually been a lot more restrained about it.
By calling in the divine and saying, “You do the talking,” I was able to really set very serious boundaries, because something larger than me truly was doing it. I mean, I hung up the phone and I was like, “Whoa. Whoa.”
So, do you see what I mean?
Simon: I do.
Silver: It’s really quite the opposite. It’s that you actually become open to something that’s so far beyond the small, self-limited manipulations and agendas.
Simon: Now, this may be kind of a strange question, but do you have signals in your life when you know, “Oh, the small self has taken the driver’s seat and is driving right now. I can tell because XYZ . . . ?” What is it when you know?
Silver: Yes. That’s a great question. I would say, for me—but I think it’s true for a lot of people—you’re attached to outcome. I think that’s the premiere thing. It kind of goes back to that Nisargadatta quote, where he says, “When desires become preferences, then everything happens through you.” It’s not getting rid of desires because I feel that they come with the terrain and they’re great. But, they evolve into a preference—even if it’s a deep preference—that creates space for detachment. In that detachment is where you feel the divine.
Yes—for me, I’ll always know because there’s some part that starts flaring up [and] is like, “Ugh. This the outcome I would like.” And then I pretty quickly [am] usually able to go, “That’s a recipe for disaster.” At least, it has been in my life.
I offer it back. So, the act of offering—where you can say to the divine, “Yes, I might prefer this, but this is now handed 100 percent to you for the highest outcome to occur.” Then you suddenly feel this space open up around you again because that controlling creates constriction. So, you know right away that it’s the small self.
A lot of this happened for me, like I was saying, because I would be in different spiritual teachings, and the teachers would say, “Well, just surrender.” I would [say,] “How? How?” To me—maybe for my nature [or] for people that have that orientation towards divine or to love—this was the key to begin to say to the divine, “Let me surrender. Allow me to surrender. Let me let go. Let me offer this to you.” The ego on its own won’t want to do it.
Simon: In this act of offering, is there something special you do? Do you open your hands and have them face up? Do you light a candle? Is there something particular, like a ritual or something? Or is it just an inner shift and you say certain words inside?
Silver: I think everybody’s different. I think—for people reading both my books—they sort of get the sense that I honestly bow to that way that the divine comes uniquely in each person as opposed to rules about how it has to happen.
So, for me, when people talk about intentions, I always think, “Yes, here’s my fundamental intention: that the divine take over any illusion of the small self running things.” So, I think that’s what matters—when you’re in the thick of a problem or you’re suffering over a loss or you’re dealing with any kind of travail—that simply that intention of saying to the divine, “Allow me to offer this to you.” Then I think, “It really doesn’t matter.”
Sometimes I do actually hold my hands open. It just happens spontaneously in a mudra of receiving. But, I just don’t think it matters. What matters is the heartfelt cry. It’s really like the cry of the bird or something—your soul’s crying to the Source of love, saying, “I don’t want to do this only from the ego anymore.”
Simon: Has there been something that’s happened in the last few years in your life that you were like, “Oh, OK. This is a tough one. This is a tough one for me to offer to let go?” Or, have you been working with this practice of offering everything to the divine so consistently that it’s now a reflex—it just happens, no big challenge?
Silver: No, no. I mean, it’s kind of funny because I would say both. It is a reflex. The impulse is in my veins now to do it, and I think that can happen to anybody. I’m not special. I think it’s just a muscle that gets built up so it becomes an innate reflex. You’re like, “Oh, I’m grasping. I’m trying to control.”
There’s a Sanskrit term, duragraha, which is about opening and releasing. So, I think the impulse is always toward, “Give it back to the divine.” Call in the divine to take it back.
However, having said that, I would say every week there’s a new way that the divine gets to take me deeper with it. The example in the Change Me Prayers book about when my mom was dying to me was like the fundamental depth of that because I was so insanely close to my mom and had talked to her every day for 50 years, really.
Then, when she died quite suddenly, that was so clear to me—that [it] wasn’t anything that the ego would be able to manipulate through affirmations. “Oh, all is well. I’m happy. She’s in a better place.” That wasn’t going to work! I was just devastated.
But, the prayers—I could say to the divine, “Shift me into somebody who can handle this. Allow me to open to love. Allow me to feel her no matter where she is right now. Let me open to her.” So many of these are prayers of opening and releasing and receiving—all things that the ego, of its own volition, just does not want to do. It’s getting an identity out of not doing those things.
Simon: In Change Me Prayers, you have offered to people—to use that word—a series of written prayers that they can use for different circumstances in their lives and different challenges that might come up. We’re here [and] we’re talking about this idea of loss. Of course, there are all different kinds of loss. But, the loss of a loved one is such a deep one and it’s such a difficult one to accept. I thought it might be really beneficial for people if they could hear some of the actual prayers from Change Me Prayers—from your book. I’m wondering if you could read us the one about loss.
Silver: Yes, sure. I just wanted to say one thing with these, which is that in the beginning, when my publisher wanted me to write this book, one of my resistances was at first was I thought, “Well, I don’t want this to be, ‘Here’s a cookbook of prayers and now everybody should quote me.” I wanted to be like, “This is what I use. Let it be a jumping-off point so that you deepen the conversation with the divine in your own heart.” Then people will get their own words.
So, I have to just say that as I read it. It’ll hopefully just spur something in someone’s own heart about how to open to the divine.
So, this one is on loss. “Change me into one who trusts You as the ultimate Source for all. Let me know abundance of every kind comes from You alone. May I neither fear loss nor cling to gain, knowing You take care of me in every possible way. Let me trust that any seeming loss can be replenished according to Your will in the most synchronous and beautiful ways. May I relax and enjoy your gifts to me.”
That one is more about material loss, but there’s one after it that’s also [for] just when you’re in times of emptiness. So, let me read that too.
“Change me into one that trusts Your plan fully and with total faith, even when transitory appearances make it look like You don’t know what You’re doing. May I always trust your guidance. Grant me patience, faith, and clarity. Please, just show me the next step. All is well.”
Simon: Now, it’s interesting, Tosha, that you said that you didn’t want your book, Change Me Prayers, to be like a reference book of prayers that didn’t inspire people to come up with their own prayers, write their own prayers, and follow their own inspiration. I’m curious: if somebody wanted to compose a change-me prayer for something that’s happening in their life, what would be some guidelines on how to do that?
Silver: Well, I think the main thing with it is that you just think about the constriction that you’re in. Let’s say—I think a lot of people have actually been feeling this over the last few months. It’s partly because of the astrological transits we’ve been in. One major cycle—almost an epoch—has ended for many people, and a new chapter’s starting. A lot of people have felt in that middle zone of the mystery, not knowing what’s coming next.
But, to use that as an example, [it might be] a prayer that would say, “Allow me to open to the mystery, let me trust blah blah blah.” Rather than—I say this a lot in the preface of the book. It’s not like these are prayers for dictating a specific outcome. [Laughs.] Then they just become these misguided affirmations.
An example that’s in the book is there is a woman who gets attracted to some guy that is next door to her house who’s married to somebody else. So, she wrote me that she was doing change-me prayers. You know: “Change me into someone that he’ll leave his wife for.” I was writing back to her going, “Um, that’s not what these are for!”
These are to open to the divine will for the highest outcome and for the constriction that’s in you. For her, the example that I gave her was like, “You could do a change-me prayer that says, ‘Allow me to know I deserve love myself. Allow me to know the highest that’s meant for me can be received,’” as opposed to fixating on a specific outcome and trying to manipulate it with a prayer. Does that make sense?
Simon: Yes. It does. I think one of the things that’s interesting about the title, Change Me Prayers, is I’m focusing on changing me, not changing the situation [and] not changing others. Yes, it’s interesting that you think that’s the focus of letting the divine take the lead—[that] it’s changing yourself.
Silver: And I would say actually allowing the divine to change you, because I would say there’s an entire self-help industry—that you would know quite well—that is all about, “How do I change myself?” That’s primarily the ego trying to create a better ego, in my mind.
To me, what this is is actually inviting this Source of love to change us in ways that the ego might have no idea how to do. It’s been interesting since that book came out, because there’s people that have written me—and I’m a great believer in therapy and all kinds of work. But, there have been people that have written, [and] they’ve been like, “Wow, I’ve been in therapy for 20 years trying to learn that I deserve to be loved,” to use that as an example. “All of a sudden, in all that time, it never occurred to me that I could go directly to the divine and I could say, ‘Shift me into someone who knows I deserve to be loved. Shift me into someone who knows my own value.’”
So, to me, [there’s] this directness to it. It doesn’t preclude whatever process somebody wants to do with a therapist or whatever. But, this is like that there is this well of love that Sufi poets and everyone else has spoken about that can directly intervene and create changes when invited.
Simon: Now, I can imagine someone who’s listening to this idea of “shift me” or “change me” might be saying, “But, I thought in all of the spiritual teachings I’ve been exposed to recently, the idea is that I don’t have to change. There’s actually nothing wrong with me to begin with—that I can just accept myself. Is Tosha saying something different than that? Or, how is what she’s saying compatible with that idea?”
Silver: I think it’s very compatible with it, actually, because this isn’t changing the fundamental core—[which] is you are love. You are the Self.
So, yes. Every true spiritual teaching in one way or another will take you back to that route. But, in the meantime, what I’ve found is that the ego will over and over grab the wheel and create false identities that get in the way of that.
For example, even something like—you and I were talking about this before we went on the air—the idea of money. Somebody will say, “You know, I’ve had a spiritual practice for 20 years. However, when it gets down to money, this is mine.” I would just say a prayer.
Of course you’re good as you are. Of course you’re as whole as you are. You’re not changing into somebody else. But, saying to the divine, “Let me know that everything that comes and everything that goes is part of this divine abundance,”—the ways that that changes how somebody approaches money are mind-blowing because they’re suddenly able to give in ways that they didn’t know they could give. They’re suddenly able to receive in ways they never knew they could receive. It just opens the floodgates of opportunity that can happen when somebody’s grasping.
Simon: Do you have a good change-me prayer related to someone who might be struggling with issues of money or financial abundance?
Silver: Yes. OK. Let me read you part of this one about receiving, because I think it’s really helpful for money. There’s a general one, let me just say [first], that I’ve used a lot, which is, “Allow me to always know myself as divine abundance—or know myself as a vehicle for divine abundance, or allow me to know that everything comes through me from You, the divine.”
But, here’s one on receiving—because I actually think a lot of people have issues with—they’ll say, “Oh, I’m struggling all the time. It’s always so hard to get anything that I need. It’s hard to get the right money for this or that.” This relates to that.
So, “Allow me, divine Beloved, to be wildly open to receiving. Let me know my own value, beauty, and worthiness without question. Let me allow others the supreme pleasure of giving to me, and let me feel worthy to receive in every possible way.”
I’ll tell you something with that one: A bunch of these—before the book came out, I was putting them through social media and my Facebook page and stuff. This one woman wrote me—I’ve actually gotten a lot of letters like this—where she’d say, “I kept applying for these jobs. And yet, it wasn’t until I started doing this prayer that I myself began to feel worthy of receiving these jobs.”
So, to me, it’s like it’s a culture of efforting. It’s like, “Well, I’ll do it and work harder and send out more and advertise more.” But, if you’re not in that space of knowing your fundamental value and your fundamental worth, then you extremely limit what can come. I just believe that on an energetic level.
So, there’s all kinds of versions of these prayers about opening to receive [and] opening to know your own value. That’s so often at the bottom of it. It’s not about working harder or knowing that you’re valuable to me. It’s actually allowing the divine to begin to take over the issue and allow you to see yourself in a way that love sees you.
Simon: I’m imagining someone who’s listening—perhaps a response from this imaginary person looking on—“I don’t have a problem receiving. I know I’m really worthwhile. I know I’m really loveable. I just have a problem with money. I have a money problem. I’m not paid enough in my job and [blah blah blah].” How would that person then work with your work to directly address that challenge that they’re facing?
Silver: Well, you could say—I go back and forth between saying, “Change me, shift me, allow me, let me.” I think the words themselves don’t really matter. It’s the invocation to the divine.
You could say, “Let me become open to divine prosperity. Let me become open to trusting that all the money that is meant for me will always arrive. Let me live in a place of divine abundance.” [This], to me, is not about necessarily being a millionaire. It’s about knowing that what you need will always come.
You could even do a prayer that says, “Change me into one who can live from divine Source,” because that—going back to Scovel Shinn again—that was the core of it. It’s that as that energy begins to take over your life—and it truly does—you begin to trust that every need is going to be met.
So, you even can say, “Shift me into one who knows that every need will be met.” Sometimes you can even say, “Despite current appearances—despite what it looks like right now—I don’t see where this is going to come from. I don’t see how this is going to shift. Allow me to begin to trust that I can live from divine source. Let me receive. Let me open to a miracle.” That’s another one that I’ve used in situations that [I] absolutely don’t see how it’s going to change. It’s like, “Shift me into one that can open to a miracle, of Your grace.”
I would say you have to actually practice them. It’s easy to sort of be on the sideline being cynical, going, “Whatever.” But, it’s another thing—and I’ll say this to people a lot—to just take three weeks and use prayers like that. You have nothing to lose. You’re already in a state of abject misery about the topic, whatever it is. Take three weeks and just do prayers like that. Then just be open and notice the signs and the indications that come over the period that you do them.
Simon: In your book, Outrageous Openness, you suggest that people can use a technique you call “working with a god-box.” I was wondering if you could introduce how people might work with a god-box.
Silver: Yes. I think the god-box, in some ways, was my response to—I would call it “vision board fever.” You know—when people out there were all like, “Ah, you have to make a vision board and you put down all your desires and you fixate on it over and over until you manifest it.”
To me, coming from this place that—actually, I find it much more interesting to watch what the universe—I really like what Adyashanti says. “What the universe can manifest when you get out of the way is far beyond anything that the ego can manifest through a shopping list.”
So, the god-box is really like that. When you have a problem—going back, say, to the issue you brought up with money—you can write the issue down, you could write a prayer down. There’s no rule to it. But, you find some kind of container—some people make these very elaborate, artistic boxes and some just use something simple—and you begin to write those issues and problems down. Then you offer them. It’s not just a mechanical action. You write them down and then you have the experience that—as you’re writing them down—you put it into the box.
As it goes into the god-box, it now no longer belongs to the ego as a problem to solve. It no longer belongs to the ego to manipulate. The divine will now show the right actions at the right time.
So, again, it’s not passivity. It’s a container for offerings. That sounds so basic, but for so many people—it’s really strange how many letters I’ve gotten about the god-box. For many people, just that simple act of writing it down; putting it in the box; not going, “Oh, I have to now fixate on this to try to manifest it.” There’s nothing to manifest. It now belongs to the divine for the right actions to be shown at the right time.
Sometimes, the right action is patience. I’ve found that people put it in the box, they don’t see anything right away, and the divine’s saying, “Just wait. Just wait. Let me unfold this.”
Simon: Do you have a god-box, Tosha? If so, what does it look like?
Silver: That’s really a great question, because I have had various ones over the years. Some of them—I’m pretty artistic myself. So, some of them have been things that I totally got into making with paint and jewels and stuff.
At the moment, I don’t actually have one. I have a mental one. It’s used constantly from that way we were talking about at the beginning of the interview. As soon as something begins to feel like suffering, that’s how you know that you’re suffering over something. The attachment has happened and it goes back in the box. Sometimes, if it’s a deep attachment, it goes back in the box a hundred times, and then it lets go.
Simon: Now, you mentioned that it’s important that you don’t just put it into the box “mechanically.” It’s not just some mechanical thing, but your heart is somehow involved. I wonder if you could talk more about that—what the sort of deeper feeling or somatic dimension is when you offer something and let it go. What [does] that [feel] like?
Silver: Yes. Yes. On one level, I could rephrase that and I could say, “Well, offering it mechanically is better than nothing.” Right? You could offer it mechanically, and I still think the act of writing it down and giving it over might in its own way cause a shift.
But, for me, all these processes that are really in both books are about deepening the conversation with the inner divine. Everybody has their own conversation. You know what I mean? It’s like I have a lot of fire in my chart, so I have this sort of passionate, intense relationship to my inner divine.
Somebody else could be much more restrained by nature, and that’s equally fine. That’s a much quieter inner connection. But, it’s equally beautiful.
So, to me, that’s really the purpose of the work I’m doing. Rather than having people see these outer authorities as being their lifeline to the divine, you [see that] this voice inside is waiting to commune with you. There are techniques that allow that to occur.
So, I’d say that act of offering—whatever your own nature [and] however your own nature expresses it—it will deepen as you give it attention.
Simon: Well, maybe a different way of asking my question would be: What does it feel like inside you when you make that act of offering [and] you make that shift-me move? What does that feel like inside?
Silver: I’d say it’s different all the time. You know how this is: you’re dealing with something that’s really causing pain. It’s really causing suffering. You get to that place where you are—I call it a 100 percent offering—where you really know you just can’t have the ego carrying this burden anymore.
So, to me, when it’s a full offering of the issue—I just had to do it recently. I taught a big class and the live-feed of the class got screwed up. So, even though the content was all great, we had several days of fixing the mess that happened with the feed.
This is a good example. I’m a Capricorn. I like things done well. I literally had to get on my knees and just say to God, “This is not mine. This will make me crazy. I have a great team, I have wonderful people, and for whatever reason this got screwed up. Get me out of the way so I’m not suffering over this.”
That offering really let me just get out of it and get on with my life—and just decide it belongs to the divine. Sure enough, within two or three days, it was all unscrambled. Nobody died and it’s all fine. But, it’s that feeling you literally—for me, I felt my own hands unclench.
So, if there’s things that tend to hook me, they’re often those kind of things—wanting something done well and it isn’t. That’s my small self. It doesn’t mean I doesn’t mean I don’t have standards. But, sometimes the divine likes to throw a wrench in to let you let go. I find these just so helpful.
Simon: I was reading Outrageous Openness this morning. One of the things I read was that when you teach classes on divine order, you sometimes recommend to people that they spend the first part of the series of classes cleaning out their homes, cars, purses, wallets—things like that—and that it can be extremely helpful as part of this openness process to let go of clutter. As I read it, I immediately found my purse and took about 15 minutes, and cleared everything out of it. I had so much junk and it was bothering me.
But, tell me a little bit more, because sometimes people [say] “I have to clear out clutter,” and I think it’s kind of a superstitious connection with making space for things in your life. But, I’m curious what you think about it.
Silver: Yes. I actually think, on an energetic level, it’s extremely practical. It’s not just a superstition about making space. I think, really on an energetic level, you can often feel it in your own body. I’m curious how you felt after you cleaned it out.
Simon: Fabulous! Fabulous. I had a renewed connection to my purse.
Silver: [Laughs.] And I would say, maybe to existence itself. It’s one of the things I do when I’m depressed and I’m upset. It’s not like doing these things doesn’t mean that the small self isn’t going to have a bad day sometimes.
So, one of the first things I actually go do is clean out some part of my space. There’s actually a part of Outrageous Openness where it sort of says you can pick a drawer that’s a mess and, as you untangle it, you get untangled. It becomes a template for your own soul. I really find that to be true.
Also, in those classes, it’s just extraordinary that people [are] going in and sometimes they’ll release 10 years of love letters from a partner. They just release this stuff that—I’m not telling people what to release. Their own souls are showing them. It’s keeping them so locked in the past and the clutter or the energy literally cannot move to let the new enter.
So, I think it’s the reason that—there’s actually this great [Japanese] book, [The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up], which has a silly title. But, it’s kind of a great book that really goes on through everything that I’m talking about in Outrageous Openness about it. [It’s] that your own fullness can’t really emerge if you’re surrounded by what restricts you. That can even mean people. It can really go beyond objects.
Simon: Tell me more what you mean by that.
Silver: Well, I think that—here in this process of letting the divine take the lead—it’s not just like laying there with your palms open going, “OK, God, take over.” I think you get shown on a very intuitive level who’s good for you [and] who’s not good for you.
I think the culture teaches all kinds of obligation like, “Oh, you know, you should have this person around, they’ve been around for 10 years now.” It could be for 10 years, but it may have been absolutely toxic and exhausting. Or you’ve been working very hard to keep up the connection, but actually every time you’re around them, you’re tired.
I think this process of letting the divine take the lead begins to just show that [and] begins just to show you where you [are] energized, where you [are] uplifted, and where you [are] exhausted. It shows it in a very intuitive way, and you just find yourself almost innately pulling away from situations that are draining and exhausting, [and] moving towards situations that are enlivening because the inner divine is literally taking you and showing you.
Simon: Now, you made this really—I thought—important point earlier about receiving and how you’ve noticed that people often have challenges—you didn’t quite say this—but that we often reach some sort of ceiling that we can’t receive more than that ceiling, whether that’s happiness or money or pleasure or something. We bump up against some, “That’s enough. That’s all I deserve,” or, “That’s all I can handle.” Something like that.
In your experience, having done all of these readings with people and now working with Outrageous Openness and Change Me Prayers—what do you think creates those kinds of ceilings in us about happiness and abundance?
Silver: An insane culture. [Laughs.] It’s funny. I was thinking about that—I guess it became kind of famous. I don’t even know if it’s apocryphal, but it was supposedly like: [When] the Dalai Lama first came to the West, he said something like—somebody had to sit with him for two or three hours and explain to him how somebody could be taught to hate themselves.
To me, I love that story, because I’m like, “Yes. People have to systematically be taught to hate themselves.” I honestly feel that.
Again, it sort of takes me back to the power of these prayers. I can use myself as an example. Receiving used to be really, really hard for me. When I was little—well, not that little; I was like 13—I had this sign over my bed. It basically said, “If you don’t do it, it won’t get done.” I just I have pictures of this 13-year-old teen already with the Capricornian weight of the world on her. I was going to have to do it all, and I’d already figured that out.
So, this process of opening to the divine over these years and going: the more you learn to receive—which the prayers absolutely invoke that sense of worthiness and deserving—so much of the efforting begins to fall away. It doesn’t mean you don’t take the right actions at the right time or you don’t go kick ass—something we were talking about before. It has nothing to do with empowered action at the right time.
It’s more the openness to receive can be absolutely invoked and cultivated. You can even say, “Just shift me into one who knows my own value and knows my deserving to receive.”
I had to even learn it with things like a compliment. Somebody would say, “Ah, I really like what you’re wearing.” And someone would say to me later, “You don’t have to say back, ‘I like what you’re wearing,’ too.” You can just receive that. I just had to learn the whole thing.
So, a lot of that I think is cultural, that it’s not selfish, and that it certainly has nothing to do with egotism. You’re receiving on behalf of the divine.
Simon: That’s a helpful idea.
Silver: I think it’s really true. You’re receiving on behalf of love.
So, in a way, if somebody wants to give you something—if it feels like somebody wants to give to you or somebody—even a compliment. Whatever it is, if you’re receiving it on behalf of the divine, then no problem.
Simon: Now, Tosha, before our conversation ends, I want to make sure I talk to you about something, because I think in the world of spiritual journeying, one of the things that there’s so much confusion about is manifestation, the law of attraction, [and] how we bring things into our life that we want. We’ve been talking about this in many ways throughout our whole conversation. But, I wonder: if you were to give Tosha Silver’s Manifestation Manifesto—if you were to just lay it out for people very simply, what would it be?
Silver: I would say it’s like a goddess clothed. When raging desires are allowed to melt into preferences, everything begins to happen through you instead of by you.
So, to me, it’s not like there’s anything evil about manifesting. It’s just an extremely conventional manifesting. It’s just an extremely limited approach to life to me, because what the ego—with its endless shopping lists—can come up with—it’s not only that the ego is limited in terms of what it can come up with. It’s also that the identity is coming out of the illusion that getting this thing or that thing is actually going to bring any kind of ongoing happiness.
So, to me, the process of beginning to invite the divine to take over—then even the deepest desires—in fact, especially—not even, but especially the deepest desires—they get handed over, not to kill them or to quell them, but to go, “Here. I really long for this. I’m handing it to the divine. Show me your will.”
Even [with] a change-me prayer that says, “Allow me to trust that if I hand this to love, what needs to happen will happen.” Either it will birth in the way that it needs to or you’re being spared something for your own good. There’s so many pieces of this that you get out of the illusion that fixating on the ego’s list is what’s going to bring the joy.
Really, to me, it’s that Nisargadatta quote: “You start to let life happen through you instead of by you.” It’s a whole other story.
Simon: You used the word “trust,” Tosha. That’s a very powerful word. I think some people hear the word “trust” and they relax. They go, “Yes.” Other people hear the word “trust” and some part of them immediately becomes suspicious. Like, “Really? Come on. I’m a smart person. I wasn’t born yesterday. I’m not just going to trust that the—” You know.
So, what would you say to that person who, when they heard that word “trust,” they have come kind of slight suspicious clenching?
Silver: Yes. See, I have to say I really love the cynics. I don’t know if it’s because I grew up on the East Coast or I’m Jewish or what. The thing to me about the cynicism is [that] it’s totally fine. There are change-me prayers, [but] if you’re happy in the cynicism, that’s great. I have a very ironic sense of humor myself.
But, if this cynicism is making you suffer in ways that you would like to perhaps play with, then there’s a change-me prayer because there’s really a change-me prayer for everything. Just like an experiment, you could say, “Allow me to begin to trust this force of love.” I’d say that’s a great one. It’s very simple. “Let me begin to trust this force of love. Let me begin to trust where I’m being guided. Let me begin to trust my own worthiness.”
You can pray for trust. You can pray for faith. You can kind of pray for any of those qualities that I spent years banging my head on a wall, going, “How do you get these qualities? People are telling me, ‘Just go do it.’ It doesn’t happen.” You can pray for them.
Simon: You mentioned, Tosha, the “bhakti” path. You said something like, “I’m a bhakti person.” I’m curious to know more: what do you think it means in a contemporary world—our contemporary world—to follow a bhakti path? What does that mean to you?
Silver: Well, I actually think it’s oddly apropos in a culture that is fixated on romantic love—almost like a drug—this idea in the culture that everybody’s just going to find this person and then run off with them happily ever after.
So, to me, the bhakti—which, if anyone doesn’t know, is really just that thing of allowing the inner divine to be your Beloved—it doesn’t take away. If there’s going to be a human beloved, great. Fine. That’s wonderful.
But, at the core, the engagement is with inner love and, really, what that does. That’s why I think it’s uniquely contemporary in a way too, given the fixations of this culture. All these things that people are taught—like you’re addicted to this person and you can’t live without them, and oh my God, if they ever leave you, you’re going to die. Really, just turn on any radio station and all those lyrics. Those lyrics can go to the inner divine.
Again, it doesn’t preclude there being a person as well, but it doesn’t just get laid on that outside person. Especially also, think about this even with holidays coming up—this way the holidays [do] this thing with people that aren’t in partnership or don’t have family. All this loneliness that’s almost part of the fabric of a culture—certainly like the States.
That inner divine—to me, on the bhakti path—is the companion. It’s what Rumi called “the Friend.” You go into this ever-deepening union with that Friend. Then, everything else is icing on the cake.
Simon: OK, Tosha. I just have two final questions for you.
Simon: OK, here’s the first one: Our program’s called Insights at the Edge. I’m always curious to know what someone’s “edge” is—their growing edge or leading edge in life in terms of their inner journey of unfolding and development. I’d be curious to know what that is for you.
Silver: I actually would say it’s very tied to the time I’m in at the moment, which is this great mystery that my life is sitting in—where it does feel as if a certain big chapter of my life has finished, and a new chapter is starting—to finally ordain time. But, it hasn’t quite opened yet. So, I’m really having this experience of being in this very, very pregnant pause.
I would say that is my edge. In a way, it’s kind of a good time because it’s like being on that boundary of events coming in. But, I’ve been in that pause for a few months and finding the change-me prayers are letting me relax into it in a way that many years ago it would have been like, “Whoa! What on Earth is happening?”
But, it lets you rest into it until the right actions get found.
Simon: Beautiful, thank you. Finally: I’m wondering if it would be OK if we could end our conversation by offering our listeners some kind of prayer in their life—maybe a kind of wholesale, giving-it-over-to-the-divine act of prayer.
Silver: Sure. So, what if you just focus inside of yourself—whoever you are, hearing this. We’ll just all together [call] in that inner force of love, that inner divine.
Just saying, “Allow me—whatever way feels right—to offer my current state to You. Wherever I am, whatever I’m feeling; whatever confusion and whatever joy; whatever is happening, let me offer that right now to the Source of love, knowing that all actions will get shown at the right time.”
[If] there’s a specific problem really plaguing you, [allow] that problem to get offered over. “Shift me into one who can offer even this issue—even this burden. Allow me to offer it to love to be shown the right actions at the right time.”
Simon: I’ve been speaking with Tosha Silver. She is the author of the book Outrageous Openness: Letting the Divine Take the Lead and a new book called Change Me Prayers: The Hidden Power of Spiritual Surrender.
Tosha, it’s so great to talk to you and have you as a guest on Insights at the Edge. Thank you so much.
Silver: Thank you, Tami.
Simon: SoundsTrue.com. Many voices, one journey. Thank you for listening.