Take Your Life to the Next Level

“Enlightenment is nothing more than progressive disillusionment” 

~ Gautama Buddha

I’m completely grateful for my extensive background in personal and spiritual development. It has served me extremely well and it’s brought me to a certain level of growth and fulfillment.

Do you want to know how to increase your income and fulfillment? Read more about it in this article.

That being said, I also now see how I’ve outgrown the approaches that these modalities provide in their traditional format. Please understand, I’m not saying they’re not valuable, they are; and I respect them greatly. All I’m suggesting is that I have personally, as The Buddha stated, become disillusioned with them as the end-all-be-all I once thought them to be. At least in their current format.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways

~ I Corinthians 13:11

Here’s my current opinion and position on these industries—take it or leave it.

Traditional personal development is a shotgun approach that is most often steeped in romanticism and fantasy; and I believe traditional spiritual development to be the same. In my experience both have become much too tied to fantasy, magical thinking, and broad brush techniques founded in generalities and external saviors… regardless of whether the saviors are individuals, theories, belief systems or techniques. As a result… we’ve given up our power to some external source and subsequently we’ve lost our way.

Obviously there are exceptions to any rule.

I submit that this traditional mindset is so indoctrinated into our psyche (particularly in the West) that it pervades even economic and political arenas. I recall November 4, 2008 when many believed the “second coming” had been elected to the office of US presidency. Obama was “the savior” in many eyes and yet here we are almost 6 years later… and we still remain unsaved.

I recall watching an interview in which one romantic follower opined “Now that Obama is president… I won’t lose my home!” Was this true? I have no idea. But I seriously have my doubts.

This is not a political statement of my position pro or con regarding Barack Obama. I’m wise enough to keep those opinions to myself in this forum. Rather it’s a statement about the human psyche and our endless search for an external savior, technique, magic bullet or secret sauce that I’ve written so much about over the last several months. (reference both Life versus Fantasy and Alchemy series)

Often when things appear to be falling apart… 

they’re actually falling into place on a much grander scale

Maybe it’s time to consider that we don’t need to “be saved” in any way shape or fashion. What would happen if we realize that everything is perfectly on course and in alignment with Universal Will? Regardless of appearances. Regardless of the pain (that we often create from our own resistance and lack of understanding). Regardless of the often childish desires of our small personal will.

With this awakening… how would life and living change?

I remember sitting in a meeting of tree hugging individuals some years back who were pining over all the animals that were becoming extinct; and how passionate (remember passion translates as suffering in Latin: reference the Alchemy series) they were about saving them.

After about an hour and a half of listening to them all playing to their collective choir, and scratching each-others collective itch, I finally stood up and asked, “What if it’s time for those animals to go so that something new can emerge?”

You could have heard a pin drop.

I could feel the eye daggers from every angle.

If looks could unleash demons they did so in that room in an instant. By the way, we all have our own demons you know. Some just do their best to hide and suppress them.

In this case no one did very well.

Needless to say I wasn’t called upon again.

Had they been around would they have made the same argument for the T-Rex? Seriously doubt it.

They’d supposedly give anything to save the animals “that they loved”… but simultaneously murder me with their eyes and thoughts. Interesting.

You must let go of what is… to allow for that which is waiting to emerge

Now please, before you unleash your own personal demons upon me, realize that I absolutely love animals; and I’m passionate about the planet and future generations. In fact, as an aside, I think it absolute lunacy that we consider ourselves the greatest species “because of our intelligence” yet we allow pure economic motives and greed to override the ability to sustain and care for our species and our future.

But that’s an entirely different topic; and that was not my point. My point is that there’s something bigger than us in charge. More on that in a minute.

If you want to attempt to save the planet and other species… go for it if that makes your heart sing. That’s a worthy purpose. Frankly, I’m not worried at all about Mother Earth—I guarantee she’ll survive. The human species? Now that’s another story.

Oh, by the way, I’ve just shared a fundamental principle of the next stage of development in my opinion—always follow your own music versus someone else’s. Even if that someone else is a so-called “expert.” Even if they think you’re music is out of tune.

Following your own music presupposes that you must know clearly what that music is. Key point. Ponder it deeply. Ponder it well.

As I stated above, something bigger is at the helm… let’s call that Life itself. Life always moves forward, never backward. Nothing can work contrary to its essence. You’ll hear this from me again and again—you can bet on it.

If Life is about Life then it can only be about more Life. Further expansion, experience and expression. It cannot work contrary to its essence. Even if it looks like just the exact opposite. Do you follow?

Herein resides yet another principle of the next phase I’m alluding to: Everything in Life is about Life—regardless of appearances. Can you get your mind around that?

“In the entire Universe there is only one mind.”

~ Erwin Schrodinger

I happen to agree with Schrodinger; and I believe that something way more intelligent than our small personal intelligence and will is in charge; and by the way I’m grateful for it. This does not absolve us of responsibility (response-ability: the ability to respond), quite the contrary. It necessitates that we respond with the greatest of faith and trust even in the midst of a shit-storm. Even when animals and possessions, and businesses and things are passing away that we hold near and dear.

Wow! Ruminate on that one for a day or three.

But this is not the party line, is it? And it’s certainly not popular in a room full of those who espouse traditional and/or romantic personal and spiritual development values.

That’s fine. But if we all sing and espouse the same party line, who’s going to shake things up? Who’s going to make us think? Who’s going to take us forward?

No one who was normal ever made history.

Of course we know better about the animals, the planet, our things, our economy and our lives then Universal Will does, right? Severely wrong.

We want to “control and create our own reality,” don’t we? We want the Universe to conform to our personal will. We want everything the way we want it! We want to fantasize that things continually get better and better… expand infinitely without letting go of anything. Well how’s that one working for you? How childish is that?

We’re often like the child in the grocery store laying on the floor kicking and screaming because mommy won’t buy the candy bar. Seriously?

Mommy knows the candy bar is not good for the child. Mommy knows diabetes is rampant. Mommy knows there are better ways to spend money. Mommy knows about tooth decay. Mommy knows the child is going to experience tremendous pain when the school kids call him dough boy. Mommy knows the bigger picture. Is there a metaphor here? Yes. I think there is!

We might as well pray to the god of thunder, the god of fertility and the god of the crops like the ancients used to do. Do a few dances. Shake a few rattles and throw some bones. Put out some sacrifices to appease the possessive, temperamental, immature gods we once projected from our own lack of awareness. Hope, pray, chant, dance, supplicate and circumambulate so these gods might just throw us a few scraps from the table of the gods and show us favor. Please!

The alarm is going off and it’s time to wake up… are you hearing it? Are you getting up? Or are you hitting the snooze?

The apparent paradox is that from a truly awakened perspective we do create our own personal reality. Just not in the childish way we’ve been romantically conditioned to believe. Ponder that one.

Every staircase or ladder we climb must always start on the first rung.

Let me repeat once more that what I’ve now labeled “stage one” is valuable. It’s in stage one that we realize several critical things:

“Hey, I can do better. I can do something to change my life! I can build my own business as well as a life. I can do something I really want to do. There’s a power in the Universe that I can tap into.”

Yes. Yes indeed.

Even when the aspirant sets off in a deep childish fantasy. Chasing some external understanding, law, technique, belief system, savior, or god (which is most often the case)… even then, in my book it’s good. It’s all good. It’s all more Life! These individuals are actually taking the first step and the initial actions to claim their birthright and take their own power back.

Yes, they’re in for a big wake-up call at some point (if not in this lifetime then the next)… but that’s good too. It’s all good.

There will always be more people in grade school than grad school…

but grade school is always a prerequisite 

Stay awake and Love Life,

james arthur ray




23 Responses

  1. Another brilliant, well put together discussion James. I’m with you 100% of the way having done the stage one and asking the questions. I am ready to step into who I came here to be with my gifts, skills and knowledge. I really want to thank you for the space you provided me in the last few months with your blog to get good with it all and own it. Onwards dear friend!

  2. Yes!! Yes!! Yes!!
    I’m having what he’s having!! xxx

  3. Very promising start to this new series…
    One enters Stage One often by seeking traditional personal development routes.
    Stage One entails the willingness of the individual to start questioning personal and current states of affairs, and following the desire to seek for help more often than not from anything or anyone who is willing to give it, be it individuals, doctrines, religiosity, etc.

    Is it considered Stage One when one first awakens and starts questioning most things including social structures, the meaning of life, finances, the roles of various regulatory bodies, of politicians, etc.?

    It seems to me, that in the first stage of this type of spiritual quest the student becomes aware often for the first time, of one’s own ability to independently think,
    however due to the current worship of our western “fast everything society“ the new seeker can easily get lured into quick fixes like instant enlightment sold in a can…?

    Does Stage two, or one step towards it, start by acknowledging that what is currently showing up in one’s own life is something to embrace for its perfection exactly-as-it-is, even if its offerings are in the form of unpleasantness and deep pain, because its tokens, are after all an accurate reflection of one’s own current understanding?

    Would you say that following one’s own music is one of the first fundamental principles of the next stage of development, or perhaps the student might need firstly to decondition oneself in order to gain the ability of correctly accessing one’s own music, secondly will have to learn to decipher it correctly, and then will have the ability to start following one’s own individualised promptings?

    Would the student be right in assuming that helping with the deconditioning of societal origins and learning or relearning to think for oneself in a growth oriented manner, and subsequently be able to reconnect to one’s own inner guidance, is something you James, would be willing to help with in your one to one coaching sessions?

    Have a stimulating week,

    1. Linda, all very interesting and deeply thought out questions which I appreciate. Please understand that based ONLY on my life experience I’ve broken down development and awakening into 5 stages. It remains to be seen if I’m guided (inspired) to actually define each of them although many have already asked me. Also be aware that ANY stage model in my experience is arbitrary and NOT gospel. Just one’s limited and futile attempt to understand that which NEVER can be fully understood. Who knows… in 5 more years I might have 10 stages making these that I currently hold totally archaic. OR I might see it all as one long stage–who can predict? I will tell you though (again only from my personal experience thus far) that stage one and two (as I’ve defined them) are VERY broad and tend to be circled back and forth between sometimes for a lifetime (maybe many). Stage 2 AND 3 are both very painful and go kicking and screaming until you finally break through to 4. Also each stage has both a virtuous aspect as well as a vice (including stage one fantasy). Maybe that gives you a few things to ponder. If you’re interested in my mentoring potentially I suggest you go to https://www.jamesray.com/mentoring/ watch the video and then submit an email to the address provided on the page if it seems like it might be a fit. Mentoring in my book is VERY different from coaching which you mentioned. Thanks again ~ JAR

  4. James! What a wonderful, long post with numerous skips across the pond and we have not made it across yet!! The freeway will not get us there either!

    The yin/yang of life is just one end point on a three sided triangle.

    People look for a universal savior or the path to a free ride to the top…

    This ‘is’, is a ‘what’s so’ that always and all ways includes ‘so what’….

    One can get stuck in that…

    When I was not yet a teen, I was a member of four book clubs. I read fiction and history mostly. Somewhere in my early teens, life occurred to me as an allegory. Before the “Big Bang” ‘What’ existed was everything knowable, understandable, predictable, creatable…[some kind of organic computer perhaps] Everything/NOTHING except two ‘things’. This IT/IS had no experience of any of IT/IS. The first infinite number of times IT/IS blew IT/IS up was not ‘satisfying’ as there was no experience. As Einstein said, the only reason for time is so it all doesn’t happen at once, and then IT/IS blew IT/IS up in a time vacuum you and I now reside in. There are others. The ‘I am’ I am accepted a mission with complete foretaste, foreknowledge and complete understanding and willingness to participate. Everything was erased to get here. One side of the coin “I am” is to keep a record of everything I am experiencing. That part has been clear to me for a long time. The other side has operated like a magnet torn between three poles, two always constant in polarity while varying waves of strength and power and the other seems to rotate back and forth in all IT/IS modalities. There ‘is’ also three ‘wills’ in play. Mine, ‘God’s’ and another’s [the world?] The alignment, the ?path?, what I have any say over appears around something I’ll label happiness approaching joy. What really works best is adjusting my ‘self’ to be ‘notoriously happy’ with ‘God’s’ will for me.

    It is quite a ride too!

  5. I’ve been saying exactly this for a long time. 🙂

  6. Planning ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ event here at Terrible Creek, June 21, 2014.

    Wish you could be here: food, fun, and fellowship!


  7. I could read this series over and over. I have actually copied and pasted the entire series in word so I can re-read (in a larger font) even if you take it off your blog site….and hope that is ok and I am not infringing on copyright. If you publish this material in a book or CD…let me know and I will purchase a copy or two. This is one of the most impassioned and honest discussions I’ve yet to contemplate….and I must say it’s in alignment with the way I have been evolving and thinking. Although my road has been challenging, I didn’t get hit with quite as big a freight train as has been your life experience, but then who’s comparing. The pendulum swings equally in both directions. I attended one of your lectures in LA many years ago, and I’ve got to say it’s really nice to see you back fully alive and fully human.

  8. More please!!!! James, I agree! I am a HUGE advocate on personal responsibility. I definitely dance to my own music and try to teach my daughter the same. I believe there is One place We all want to reach. We all take our own paths. Some paths will be more bumpy than others. But, in the end, it’s all the same. Question is…… are We going to enjoy the ride? Or, are We going to complain about how boring the trip is and/or asking “are we there yet?” My experience is what I make it, with a few potholes and bumps of course..;) I look forward to the next blog, thank YOU, James.

  9. Hi James,
    While I have some to this conclusion (sort of) on my own, I am struggling a bit with part of the concept–the part that has directly to do with money. You see, I’ve been on this path for a long time–since around 1965–when I was in my mid teens. There is nothing I really want and only one thing I need–the bare minimum amount of money I NEED to survive–which in my case, given my minimal expenses–rent and food and power to run my computer and turn on my lights, comes out to around $2000/month; I don’t care to be incredibly wealthy; I am well-educated, I am able to meet my and spiritual needs without money–often visiting the public library, exercising on my own, growing some of my own food on an extremely limited basis as I live in a gated condo. I don’t watch TV and use the Internet primarily for job-seeking and some social interaction, although I find Facebook etc. very stressful so limit my time there severely. I have been unemployed and unable to find work since last August–a wide variety of reasons: I’m too sell-educated, I won’t “fit-in,” I have “too much experience,” and never said–I’m too old. I keep trying “work” via the Internet, but try as I might, I can’t figure out the formula to make it work, and I don’t have the money to “feed” the process. And here is where I run into confusion with this theory: I am lucky to be able to collect a small Social Security stipend–but it pays only for my rent and utilities, not food or other things; I have Medicaid (through ObamaCare), but it gives me only access to health care; it doesn’t pay for the services rendered were I to need to use them; my relatives–afraid of the stigma (their embarrassment for my using) of government assistance have been giving me–grudgingly– a little money for food (I feed my pets and myself on less than $200/month), so I have not applied for SNAP benefits, trying to keep the peace; I mentioned once that I believed that my difficulty could be a “sign” to facilitate my own transition, my family came unglued; while I see this only as a transition to a different plane, they see it as a deadly sin. I’m falling further and further behind, and while I am trying really hard to simply accept that this is the plan the Universe has for me, I can’t–with all my education and intelligence–figure out the struggle; you see it’s not really me that’s struggling I’m happy to accept whatever comes but the world around me that is creating the struggle–and I can’t figure out how–with the resources provided by the Universe itself–I can resolve the conflict. I can’t–by myself–stretch $1100 into $2000, and acceptance is unacceptable to a world that demands more than I have to give–whether I accept it or not.

    1. Karen, what you’re describing is indicative of many in today’s world. My heart goes out to you sweetie. Without knowing more specific details I can’t offer up an advice or solution other than to say at some point you have to decide to be who you are regardless of what your family or anyone else thinks. Easier said than done I know but liberating once decided upon. Live YOUR life Karen. Much love and LIFE ~ JAR

  10. You took the words right out of my mouth, James, and it appears that you’ve gotten the same response as i have when I’ve tried to express such notions. It is sometimes frustrating to hear people go on and on about the right and wrong of Mother Nature and its affects in everyday lives. I’ve been called “skeptical and cynical” more times than I can count over such similar ideas.

    Being a Pagan in complete acceptance of the ways of nature and her cycles has more often than not been riddled with unkind and diminishing commentaries but then it is not I who have been disappointed in “Life” when it serves up something that may not have been expected. It is truly refreshing to find “like minds” here. I appreciate your thoughts and the collective wisdom and realism of this blog. Thank you…

    1. JeanE, my experience is that Pagan is a term that’s been used as a catch all label meaning “anything that doesn’t resonate/conform with the party line.” Thanks for your kind words my friend ~ JAR

  11. James, thank you! You are tapped into a ‘frequency’ that is in alignment with what is currently transpiring in my life… “You must let go of what is… to allow for that which is waiting to emerge.” …seriously, are you reading my mind! 🙂 Keep up the good work… you have a supporter in La Jolla.

  12. Loved the blog James. Best yet for me. On a related note I released a book in 2012 titled “On Human Being – Loving and Living Without Purpose” with a chapter titled “Saviorism” in which I use the same reference to President Obama as you do. While not intended to be political either I was thunderstruck by the references many were making of him as “Our Savior.” The whole point of the chapter is to drive home the point you make that nothing “out there” in the world (gimmicks, techniques, etc.) will ever come close to what’s “in here.” We don’t need saving or maybe we save ourselves; who would have thought??? Yeah….”perfection!” Awesome Day! Carl

  13. Hello James,
    It’s always refreshing to tune into your blog now and then. I seem to also be traveling a parallel path with you and some of the others here. However, I seem to have lost most of my interest and dare I say “passion” for even the “refined” version of spiritual inquiry these days. I keep looking for the thrill of discovery again, but I just can’t get on top of it with the same climb as before. New road–new way? I’m assuming so, as I KNOW that Inquiry into the mystery of growth as a spirit is an essential part of my fuel this lifetime –if not all? However, this one is apparently driven to ride the edge of growth and consciousness…
    You seem to find the drive out of your anger for now. I’m almost jealous. I was driven with the fuel of anger for many years to see my way clear. Can’t find that as a fuel now… Mind you, I don’t have much judgement on what fuel we use to move forward with. They are all good when they are good–any motivation will work at any given time.
    I just can’t find one!! Is apathy a motivation? I guess so! Maybe I have found my new motivation–ha.!
    Thanks for your sword of truth blazing in front of you and for your ability to put it into well formed thoughts!

  14. Another great one, James. I’m loving your blog and am sharing with like-minded friends. Looking forward to what comes next as I move forward in my own life. The concept (reality) that we don’t need saving seems so simple yet I feel like we all fall into that mode from time to time. Thanks for the reminders 😉

    1. Thanks Wendy… you’re so right on the savior aspect. It’s subtle and insidious and so deeply embedded into our collective psyche that it takes constant vigilance to re-mind and recondition ourselves. Believe me… even when I write about it I still find it sneaking in from time to time. We ALL need re-minders. Thanks for being here. Stay awake and Love Life ~ JAR

      1. James, at first I want to say that I hope we don’t need saving; instead, I hope we need to be pointed in the right direction. Then I think of God and Jesus and re-examine the saving thought.
        You seem to point people in the correct direction or a direction, which they did not know existed. You also encourage people to take action. Keep doing, what you are doing. Thank you.

  15. I love it! Now your’e talking!

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