Life Visioning: An Interview with Michael Bernard Beckwith

Perhaps you've felt it before: the unmistakable sense of a power larger than yourself working through you. According to Michael Bernard Beckwith, this is no less than the evolutionary impulse of the universe, awaiting your realization of its expression as your life. To help us on the journey, Beckwith created the transformational inner technology he calls “The Life Visioning Process.” We talked to this featured teacher from The Secret about the new audio-learning course in which he shares this breakthrough practice.

Sounds True: Many people are fascinated with the idea of using the power of our consciousness to get what we want. But on Life Visioning, you say that life is more about “letting than getting.” Can you explain?

Michael Bernard Beckwith: What I teach is that 100% of all spiritual growth, development, and unfoldment is about letting go of the limiting thought forms, ideas, and perceptions that inhibit the flow of life from expressing through us. We've been enculturated, particularly in our high-tech, low-touch society, into getting, acquiring, hording, rather than letting go. But when an individual begins to really let go of the false thoughts and beliefs that don't serve them, then, paradoxically, their powers to manifest increase.

For instance, we live in a field of plentitude. There's more than enough energy, more than enough of everything that we could want, hope for, desire already within us and within this vast universe. But some people have a belief of scarcity. Scarcity is just a belief. It's not a reality. But people experience their belief about reality. And so as you begin to eliminate that belief of scarcity, of lack and limitation, as you let go of that, then you're available to experience and reveal more in your life. So by letting go of something, you actually have a greater experience of life itself.

As you indicated, the buzzword is about manifestation now, and there's nothing wrong with manifestation; we just have to understand it in its proper context. I teach how to stabilize the structures in your life—for example, mean the structure around finances and having all your needs met. That is a structure to be stabilized so that you can then deliver your gift on the planet. You can then become more yourself.

If a person makes their entire life about manifesting and getting it can become addictive because there's never enough of “more.” A person can become lost in the cycle of acquisition and never discover the gifts of the soul that are to be delivered before we leave this incarnation. So learning the law of manifestation has its place to develop a platform by which we get to go into greater self-discovery and the sharing and distributing of our gifts.

Sounds True: It's a matter of being careful with how you understand and use that law.

Michael Bernard Beckwith: Absolutely. It's a razor's edge. If you go too far to one side you end up being no earthly good because you won't know how to manifest, and if you go too far to the other side you'll end up accumulating and living your whole life trying to get more and more and more and you'll discover that more doesn't satisfy you. Satisfaction comes from the activation of your potential.

Sounds True: Here's another buzzword: the law of attraction. You say on Life Visioning that this is a misnomer, and that it might be more accurate to call it the law of “radiation.” What do you mean by that?

Michael Bernard Beckwith: Again, when you think about the law of attraction, the way people think about it is there's something that you want, and you're going to now attract it to you. Now if the premise by which you're working is that you don't have it, then the message you're sending to the universe is that you don't have it; therefore the universe can only respond with an experience of you not having it. So you're really radiating something from within your own being.

Everything an individual could want, hope for, or desire, you're born with. All of the knowledge, all of the wisdom, the love, the power, it's all within us all as spiritual beings having a human incarnation. And we're in the process of awakening to it, activating it, cultivating it, and expressing it. So we're actually radiating those qualities. And what happens is, those qualities end up condensing and becoming form.

It looks to the eye, to the senses, as if an individual is attracting something to them. But in actuality they're radiating it from within their own being. They become conscious. It's like I sometimes will tell women who say they want to be attractive. I say, “No, you don't want to be attractive, you can attract anything. You want to be beautiful. You want to radiate beauty, rather than trying to ‘be attractive.'” If you understand the nature of beauty—that beauty is within everyone—and you begin to wake up to that, you begin to radiate that, it looks to the average person as if you are attracting wonderful relationships or greater opportunities for expression. But you're really radiating that from within your own being.

That's just a snippet. We could go on with that for a long time.

Sounds True: Okay, so let's say you follow the steps of the Life Visioning Process—and you think you receive a vision. How do you know if it's actually coming from what you call the Love-Beauty-Intelligence governing the universe—and not from our social conditioning or the ego?

Michael Bernard Beckwith: This is exactly where the rubber meets the road. Most people really don't know what they want. They've been influenced by commercials, the society in which they live, and what they want is often determined by the parental fantasies, societal fantasies, educational fantasies, and their real gift that's trying to emerge within them goes unnoticed and undiscovered.

But with the practice, after a while you're able to discern the ego's desires and the way we've been enculturated. Through a dedicated vision process steeped in meditation, you're able to get little feeling tones and openings and often times you notice that these are the same feelings and openings and insights you had as a child, before society “took you over.” You notice certain images and visions that you had when you were young, before you were enculturated, that begin to come back to you, but they come back to you in the consciousness of a much more mature being. That's one way of determining; you notice that you're coming back to something that was already there but had been covered up.

As this vision emerges, it carries with it an activation of your potential, of the gifts, talents and skills you are on the planet to deliver. You're becoming more yourself and you're giving a gift. In the Life Visioning Process, whether for a business or an individual, a vision that comes from the intuitive dimension of the Higher Self (whatever you wish to call it) serves the highest interests of all concerned. A person is not going to have a vision from the Higher Self that's selfish and just for them. It's always going to benefit others, even though it's activating your own potential.

The key point, however, is that you only become sensitive to this realm through practice.

Sounds True: The sensitivity that you speak of brings to mind another pointer you offer: “Listen with the ear behind the ear.” Which means—?

Michael Bernard Beckwith: It means that the physical senses are extensions of spiritual senses. You do not see because you have eyes; you have eyes because you see. Form follows consciousness. There had to be something within us as spiritual beings that sees and hears which then produced the mechanisms in the body temple called the eyes and the ears. In the Vision Process, we're returning to the state of consciousness that preceded the birth of the physical senses. That's the ear behind the ear, the eye behind the eye.

Ultimately you're developing the faculties to see the invisible, to hear the inaudible, to know the inconceivable, to enter the realm of the indescribable—the spiritual realm. Most people are using up so much of their energy to deal with that which they can see and touch and smell and hear, which is the smallest part of reality. The largest part of reality is invisible. And so the implicate order is much more vast than that which you can see. And with Life Visioning, you're learning how to go into that realm, how to be a part of that which we call synchronicity, or that which coincides. You're going into that realm and seeing in that dimension—not with your eyesight, but with your insight—and participating at that level which makes you much more substantial, much more powerful.

All of the great geniuses and inventors and innovators, they've tapped into something from the invisible level and then brought it into the realm of manifestation. They're not dealing with just what you can see. The power is emerging from what you can't see. That's the source of the power.

Sounds True: If we can go back to something you said earlier in that response—the phrase “form follows consciousness.” How does this relate to a point you repeatedly make on Life Visioning—“you cannot have anything you're not willing to become in consciousness”?

Michael Bernard Beckwith: Yes, we're talking about transformation now. It's impossible for you to have something you're not willing to become in consciousness. In other words, true spiritual growth and unfoldment is not just about getting what you think you want; it's about becoming a different being. In other words, you're not just going to ‘get' a relationship; you're going to become loving. You're not just going to go get a job; you're going to become more creative and develop the skill that allows you to serve better. So it's really about becoming something, and as you do, then you can have within the realm of your becoming.

Now a person that is not trying to become something—a thief, for example—but instead steal the efforts of somebody else's work, what happens? They have to keep stealing in order to keep getting because they haven't become that in consciousness. Or if someone has manipulated and lied to get to a certain place, for the most part they have to continue to manipulate and lie to keep what they have. Whereas, in the example I like to use, a mature apple tree produces apples. A person can pick apples from that tree and it doesn't bother it because it will keep producing more and more apples from within itself. It has become in the right season what is necessary to produce apples.

As you become mature in any area of your life, and you give away your gift, you're always going to have more of that gift to give away because that's who you are. Someone can steal a songwriter's song, but they're going to produce more songs, because they've grown in that particular area.

Sounds True: Moving in a different direction now, people with intense difficulties might find it hard to accept it when you say on Life Visioning that life is all one, inherently good, and under the direction of God, or what you call Love-Beauty-Intelligence. What do you say to people who might be in a rut or having a tough time in life and are not willing to accept that life has an inherent benevolence?

Michael Bernard Beckwith: Well, basically an individual is experiencing their belief about reality. So if that belief about reality hasn't yielded any good fruit, why not change? If a person believes that life is hard until you die, there's not enough good stuff to go around, everything's against you—if that's your belief pattern and you've been experiencing that, you've become a self-fulfilling prophecy of your belief.

But if a person is in enough pain, then they will look for ways to change. If a person is in a rut long enough, they will ultimately say, “You know what? This isn't working. Let me try something else.” And the moment of that receptivity, you know the old statement: when the student is ready the teacher will appear. In the moment of that receptivity, the way out will appear for them. This particular program may be one of the ways out for them, one that allows them to begin to alter their perception of reality, thus change their life experience.

Sounds True: This points to another teaching you offer on Life Visioning, when you say “pain pushes you until vision pulls you.”

Michael Bernard Beckwith: There was a wonderful teacher that I had for just one little semester in the school of ministry, and he said, “pain pushes until the vision pulls.” That's the way I say it now. It's absolutely true. Pain pushes us; it compels us to keep looking for an answer, to find a way out of pain. And pain pushes until we have a vision. Once you have a vision, and you begin to consciously walk in the direction of that vision, you no longer need pain to push you. What's pulling you is inspiration, a larger vision.

When I wake up every single day of my life now, and I do my work and go around the world to speak and be a part of humanitarian projects, I'm not pushed by pain in my life. I'm pulled by inspiration and a vision of a world that works for everyone. I'm pulled by a vision of whole people becoming conscious of the power within them. It's a very joyful life, even though I can discern the issues of our lives now in terms of environment, war, nuclear armament, genocide, and many of the things going on on the planet. But I'm pulled and inspired by a vision that I have caught. I'm not pushed by pain and anguish; I'm pulled by a vision that inspires me and keeps me going.

Sounds True: I think that's what audio series Life Visioning is hoping to achieve with our listeners, to show them that pain doesn't need to be your prime motivation in life. There's a more joyful way, and that's what Life Visioning offers.

Michael Bernard Beckwith: Pain is the effort that it takes to hold on to a misperception. It's the effort to hold on to an old thought form. Pain is often equivalent to resistance. The pain is pushing you to change. Take an example I use from time to time: imagine a baby chicken in an egg. It's growing and maturing in there, and after a while it pollutes its environment; it has no more resources. It becomes too big for its environment. And so it starts to peck. So the uncomfortability makes it peck. The pain pushes it. But as it starts to stick its head out, there's a whole new world out there. It takes a breath of oxygen, and begins to be pulled by a larger vision.

Analogies are sometimes dangerous but they point the way. So here we are as a human being. We're all in our little eggs of painful experiences. And the idea isn't to pray to God for a bigger egg. We are using the Life Visioning Process to break into a whole new world, and in that new world there are new resources, new visions, and new possibilities.

Sounds True: Does surrender have a role of in that process?

Michael Bernard Beckwith: I've always loved the word “surrender.” Some people have said over the years that I have brought the word back into the New Thought, Ancient Wisdom movement, because it had been jettisoned out a number of years ago with the advent of mind power, and how you can have what you want—“if you can see it you can achieve it”—and this type of thing.

How I think of surrender is this: we don't believe, of course, that God is outside of ourselves as a reluctant deity to whom we're begging and beseeching for blessings and gifts. The presence of God is within you. It is your very life and being. So what you are surrendering to, what you're yielding to, is a higher dimension of yourself—the next stage of your own evolution. Since the presence of God is infinite, and since you really are the spiritual nature and the image and the likeness of the presence of God, there will always be more of you seeking to express itself. So you're actually surrendering, yielding, allowing, or permitting a higher dimension of yourself to come into expression. Thus, surrender.

In the old theological point of view, a person may have surrendered to an outside God, but from a more contemporary point of view, you're actually surrendering to the next stage of your own evolution: God becoming conscious of itself as you. Love becoming conscious of itself as you. Plentitude becoming conscious of itself as you.

So it's not the old, “I'm going to surrender to God's will and hopefully God's will for me is good.” We know that the will of God is always for a greater expression of good, a greater expression of life. Why? Because God is life. Life doesn't compromise nor contradict itself. It's always here to express itself. Whenever you surrender, you're surrendering to a greater expression of life, of love.

Sounds True: It sounds like a matter of trusting in yourself.

Michael Bernard Beckwith: Your higher self, yes. The self that is unactualized. I know that my life is the life of God but I'm also aware that I'm always growing. There is more of me to be revealed, so I'm surrendering to that. I have a devotion to the presence that is seeking to be conscious of itself as me. At the same time I have appreciation for the activity of my own awareness that's already developed.

The New Thought movement of years ago got stuck in, “I can make this thing happen with my mind. I can just tell the universe what I want and it will make it happen.” The mind is actually to be used as an avenue of an awareness of what's already happened, and then allow that which is happening to express through us.

We live in a field of plentitude, abundance, beauty, creativity, joy, deep wisdom, inspiration, transforming knowledge, living intelligence. We don't have to make that happen. But as we become aware of it, it begins to be the activity of our awareness and it gets to happen through us. Interestingly enough, it can happen beyond our wildest imagination and beyond our power to visualize.

Sounds True: Exciting.

Michael Bernard Beckwith: Very much so. Let me say again that the Vision Process is really a transformational technology. It's about us being transformed, and in that transformation, in that ability to describe and articulate and feel the vision or the life gift that's trying to be delivered, we become more ourselves and we give more. To the world, it looks like we have more, but actually, we're pulling it from within and sharing it.

Life Visioning is a transformational technology that allows us to become more of ourselves so that we can share the gift of our soul, which includes having our needs met, it includes health, it includes all of those particular structures—and more.

Sounds True: The life that can be for you is literally beyond what you can imagine.

Michael Bernard Beckwith: If you can imagine it, it ain't it! Because that which is real is unimaginable; it's beyond the imaginable realm. It is intangible substance. But it's real. Anything that's real and eternal you can't really imagine; you can only have a spiritual realization of it.

Take, for instance, beauty. You can't really imagine beauty. You can see the evidence of beauty in flowers and art, but when you realize beauty in your soul, you become a different person. You see beauty everywhere. Or peace—you can't really describe it, but peace is the dynamic of harmonizing good. You realize peace and then you become a peaceful person. These are all very unimaginable things, but very real things. I shouldn't say “things” they're unimaginable qualities, but they're very real qualities. And when they're active in our soul, we live in a totally different world.

Sounds True: On the program you say that practice is the bridge from theoretical insights about truth to a life based on truth. What kind of practice?

Michael Bernard Beckwith: First of all, I don't want people to get caught up in “futurizing” their good. What I teach is that we're not anticipants, we are participants. We're not anticipating something good that's going to happen; we are participating in the good that is eternally happening. So I would suggest that people find something in their life that's working, something that they can be grateful for, and begin to wrap your attention around that. Feel that it's happening right now, in this moment. Take a breath, and release a sigh of relief that that's already happening. Let that be the basis of your spiritual practice.

You're not trying to get somewhere; you're already there. At whatever level that's already activated, you're beginning with what you are and what you already have. Now, the universe responds. The law says, “To he or she who has, more shall be given. To he or she who has not, even that which they have shall be taken away.” So as you begin your spiritual practice with “I am and I have”—and you feel it, because you're beginning with something that's already working in your life—the universe responds to you much more quickly and much more boldly, because you're not diluting it with “I hope this happens, and I wonder when this will happen” and placing it in the future.

So wrap your attention around something that's working; become grateful; take a deep breath and a sigh of relief that you've already arrived there; and now you begin using your meditative practice, your vision practice, or whatever spiritual practice you're involved in.

Michael Bernard Beckwith

Michael Bernard Beckwith Return to top of page

Michael Bernard Beckwith is the founder and spiritual director of the Agape International Spiritual Center, a transdenominational community in Los Angeles. He is the founder of the University of Trans...

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