• Eric "Aspen" Marley

Prayer, Spirituality, and Money: My Journey

Updated: Nov 23, 2020

NOTE: The word “prayer” is used throughout this essay. This is what we call a “charged” word because most of us were taught at an early age what the word is supposed to mean. A nine-year-old kneeling beside his bed and asking God to do something for him is one understanding of the word. The child is said to be praying. We would all say this. But for the purposes of the thoughts presented here, please also consider “prayer” as “a desire to manifest anything using the Laws of Universal Will or karma, or the act of holding consistent desires in our hearts and minds .” These things all amount to prayer as well because these things will all engage Universal Will, which is what we’re attempting when we pray like the child in the example. These all move the needle in one direction or another. Some more effectively than others.

This essay explains why. _____________________________________________________________________________________

Here’s a question for you. Is the Universe ever “wrong?” Does It/She/He ever pull a Brittney and say, “Oops, I did it again?“ I think this is a pretty rhetorical question for most of us. If it isn’t, please see me after class.

If we are to have any kind of trust in a benevolent greater power, the kind that might answer prayers, we have to come to an understanding that whatever It/She/He (hereafter, “ISH”) delivers to us is precisely in alignment with the Universal Will that’s embodied in any given moment. We have to not only believe but act as if we believed that ISH is always right, always just, always precisely as ISH “should” be. ISH is “bound” by karma, we understand, by agreements made before we arrived here, and that will continue to exist far beyond that. We never see the whole picture.

But I’m a curious little mountain lion, so when something significant happens I want to want to know how it came to manifest in my life. In other words, I often want to try to track down why something might have occurred. A common question is to ask myself is if an occurrence was an answer to prayer? If so, which prayer?

In other words, if I find that lost suitcase of $100 bills that I’ve been imagining for decades laying half-buried in the sand, is it an answer to my prayer that my needs be taken care of? Or is it an answer to the prayer to be able to help people with whatever they need? Or both? Or neither? Are these even the best questions to ask? Or, is getting the suitcase a signal to really feel into what ISH had in “mind,” something that requires even more strident prayer, meditation, and pondering?

Probably this last one, for sure. Why? Because what we experience as a “Human, being” is a natural spiritual death. For our purposes, we will define spiritual death as, “the Illusion of Separation from ISH.” Furthermore, our primary Project while planted here on Earth is to bloom into life from the muck of mortality in spite of the Illusion (with a capital “I”). This would be true for everyone. If you’re here, that’s your ultimate game.

So far, we understand that when we find the sandy suitcase, we need to pray and ask what we’re supposed to do with it. Or, if you like, we “feel into it.” OK, let’s put that on this shelf for a second and ask another question.

The next question is, “are our prayers always answered?”

Again, taking a more progressive understanding of the word, “prayer,” we know that all our prayers are indeed answered every time. This is where a leap in understanding has occurred for me. Unless I’m the slowest kid in the class – and I darn well might be – I might be alone with my ah-ha moment. But in case I’m not the only remedial learner around here, I’ll share the idea.

A progressive understanding of the word “prayer” includes the understanding that we’re almost never NOT praying. Let me reiterate this:

We are never NOT praying.

How is that the case?

Consider the fact that most of us will think thoughts that are literally the same as the days’ before, 95% of the time. This has become a well-known statistic due to the work of Bruce Lipton and Joe Dispenza, among others in the field of epigenetics. In other words, the mind is perfectly able to run almost entirely on subconscious programming. 95% is a real number, by the way, not a convenient hyperbole. What is prayer, besides thought coupled with energy, particularly the energy of desire a specific outcome? We would probably all agree that this is what prayer is.

But what if the prayer is nothing more than the ramblings of an insane, undisciplined, self-centric, unconscious mind that’s constantly under siege by one or more of our egos?

In that case, the words of the prayer, the specific desires, are basically unknown to the human. Because again, 95% of the time ee are not conscious of our own thoughts because we aren’t present.

But what about the energy component of prayer? A rambling mind alone does not constitute a prayer, right?

The point is that we’re always aligned with energy, of some sort. It might be Love, the gold standard of energetic alignment with ISH. Ideally, this is our dominant energetic signature. But it also might be Resentment, Anger, Greed, Jealousy, Fear… you name it.

In other words, we’re always aligning with a certain frequency vis a vis’ our perceptions (influenced by the subconscious), and desires (represented by our many thirsty egos, which are also often a tool for the subconscious). Thus, the two components of prayer are present 100% of the time. It’s just that 95% of the time, the prayer – “prayer” - is unconscious. Even more, the perception and desire I mention above often bring emotion into the mix, a potentially powerful component of any prayer since what is emotion other than a manifestation of energy?

Energy held long enough using these components will move the needle on Universal Will. So, in this sense, we’re always “praying.” If our overriding energy happens to be the frequency of Shame, and a corresponding Ego is “I’m Shameful,” then our experiences in life come to us from that frequency. They’re at least colored by it. It doesn’t mean that we’re bad people when this happens, we’ve just unconsciously aligned with a certain energy.

In this example, until we rise above Shame, what we attract will be flavored by that energetic state. The word, “attract” is in this instance the “answer” to the prayer of our energy. Until we can thin the veil of Shame, we will primarily attract what that prayerful state brings. Possibly more accurately, what we experience will be limited in precisely this way: Love minus Shame equals Soulful Potential minus current State of Being. The difference between Love/Soulful Potential and Shame/Current State is what we might have experienced had we aligned more fully with our Souls. Instead, it’s what we chose to experience. In other words, our energy is our responsibility, all the time.

All. The. Time.

Now… here’s a challenge for most of us: what we merely speak will not override our energy when it comes to manifesting what we think we want in life. If what I’ve said above is true, our energy instead merely integrates what we speak. It takes it into account but that’s it. If what we speak does not align with what we deeply and fundamentally feel, particularly about ourselves, then what we feel is what we get – not what we speak. And guess what?

The subconscious is the determiner about what we really feel about ourselves, not what we say we want to feel. Mantras alone, without working with or on the underlying subconscious, are worthless. The Universe always responds to the energy (feeling) over the words, unless the words match the energy, in which case it responds to both - and more powerfully than it would respond to one or the other.

Example: let’s say that you live in a feudal society and that you and your poor family are wronged by a local Lord. You love your family and hate to see them suffer unnecessarily. The Lord is a convenient receptacle for your hatred. And not only because of his actions, but because of your hard, cold lives. (Let’s say you live in Northern Ireland in the year 1675. Everything is hard. Everything is cold. It’s like living in my tent, for cripes’ sake!) So, you pray for retribution and revenge upon the unjust Lord.

In this case, even if you want to think the prayer is spoken for the purposes of “love of family,” and even if you claim to love God and your fellow man, etc., the prayer will be answered through the filter of the feeling that wants revenge and hates “what is” – the circumstances of your life and the local Lord. The Universe answers this prayer or desire differently than it would one that contains a more perfect understanding of Love and an acceptance, rather than a rejection, of what is. The law I’m speaking about is that which we find as a thread through the Gospels, for instance. You know, “turn the other cheek,” “do unto others,” “the meek get the goodies,” etc., as well as the life of love that Jesus actually embodied. Feel what you want about the Bible and Christianity in general, there are truths to be considered that have little to do with being Christian; that are universal.

Of course, I don’t live in a feudal society, do you? (Well…maybe we BOTH do, but that’s another discussion.) Either way, this needs a more modern example. So here it is from my own life. I only share it because I have a feeling that many people experience the same things I’ll describe here.

Let me start with this. I was taught early on that God rewards righteousness. If you want your prayer answered, better “be good and obey.”

Let’s pause early here and ask this: is this incorrect?

It depends on what you mean by, “righteous.” If by “righteous” you mean merely, “obeying the commandments,” then yes, it’s incorrect. When the face of the National Football League and Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was infamously arrested, tried and found guilty of dogfighting, his friends came out and said, “Hey, he’s a good man. He loves his family and his friends…” We were to believe that because a man loves his family and friends, he’s “a good man.” Similarly, we might say, “I give at the local charity and pray for the local Lord, so I deserve to have my prayers answered in the way I think they should be.”

That’s not the way it works, is it?

By the way, this level of understanding is why religion is in a free-fall these days. Too many people say, “I go to church and believe in Jesus so I’m a “good person” even though I might (name a vice) on occasion…” So no, it’s not the way it works. Being “good,” in a progressive way of understanding it, means “being aligned with ISH,” period. “Aligned” can mean about a 7 Billion different things – something tailored to every human being, with their myriad subconscious traits. That’s about the extent of the meaning of “good” in this context.

Keeping this in mind, let’s return to my example.

I was all-in when it came to the gospel I was taught as a child, which I freely took into my adult years. Only 12 years ago did I leave the LDS Church, at age 43. You think there’s some programming there that I need to undo?

Copious amounts of it, I promise. Even harder is the fact that I find some of it helpful, but not all. Talk about a jigsaw puzzle.

Part of this programming has to do with “God” “blessing” me according to my “prayers.” That alone, that dozen or so words, encapsulates my struggle. Probably yours, too, particularly if you were raised as a committed religionist. It’s the flavor of the problem with Michael Vick’s defense, as well. The words in quotation marks - “God,” “blessing,” and “prayers” - have all needed to be redefined to fit my growing understanding. They’re all charged, and all have a subconscious component. It has taken time and effort to unravel all this, to say the least. This is the case with the bulk of Americans who deal with the limiting nature of charged words set against a growing understanding of the nature of reality, and the fact of the exponentially expanding, non-linear spirituality we’re experiencing today.

Here’s a related question: How do you think this understanding has affected my relationship with money?

Let me answer this question for you. Even though I left the Church a decade-plus ago, the programming has remained far more difficult to remove. It’s as sticky as pine tar. Even worse, the way the programming in my subconscious tells it, I still have to live by the Standards of the Church or I am unworthy to receive blessings – including those of financial wealth.

Now, I don’t “believe” in the Church. That’s why I left it. Yet, I accept that some of what they teach about the way to live – virtuously, honestly, etc. – is generally in Alignment with ISH. The problem is that this is true for different reasons than what the Church teaches. (Read “different energy.”) The truth has more to do with the energy and natural consequences of being an honest man, for instance, than it does with pleasing the white-haired, white-skinned dude dressed in white robes sitting among the - you guessed it - white clouds. In the old way, I understood that not living the “commandments” would bring shame and deprive me of the “blessings of the righteous.” This included cash. (Never mind that all kinds of prophets and seers – righteous folks – have lived lives of deprivation, difficulty, and sorrow. Sometimes that’s the way of it, and there are reasons for it.)

For example, if I choose to pray with my sacred Lakota pipe, I’m obviously smoking. Smoking is against the commandments when you’re a Mormon. I’m no longer one of these, but try telling that to my subconscious. Therefore, according to my programming, praying in this way is not only not praying, it’s invoking the “displeasure of a just God.”

Again, I don’t believe this but my programming still does to an extent. It would appear that I’m screwed. But I only am until I “thin” this idea. Eventually, I can make it transparent enough so that it’s merely an old overlay that is less powerful than the new one. Thinning it, however, has been a real process.

At first, I realized that I sometimes self-sabotaged my monetary situation (thank you, subconscious). When that happened a few times, I took responsibility and began to ask myself what I was really up to. Sitting with it, I realized what I mentioned above – that I felt unworthy in spite of what I thought I believed. Again, the subconscious doesn’t care what we say we believe. The subconscious knows what I really believe. So, I’ve done a lot of work to unravel those beliefs. I’ve used ceremony, mantras, meditation, self-talk and even humor to re-teach myself. In shamanic terms, we call this, “Dying to the Past.” It’s a release of ideas, traumas, wounds, and the messages that come from them. It’s deep Forgiveness of self and others, pure and simple.

Still, I was struggling. Hadn’t I done enough work? I thought I had. But something was missing. Just like you don’t start a fire with a moving magnifying glass, so it is with manifesting or gaining an answer to prayer. It takes a focal point; something I could fall back on no matter what was trying to take my focus away, be it pain, discomfort, disappointment, etc. And, lucky me, I found one. Here’s how it happened.

Not long ago, I went to a friend named Jen Morey. Feeling inspired to do this, I asked her to perform a small ceremony for me called, “running my bars.” I’d heard her speak about it. It involves some cranial touching and a lot of silence. There wasn’t much to it on the outside. But part of our intention around it had to do with my relationship with money. I appreciated Jen’s work on me. It shifted something. But better than the energy work she performed on my behalf was the counsel she gave me afterward.

“When you don’t know where your next buck is coming from,” she said, “ask yourself, ‘how can it get better than this’?”

It’s taken me some time to understand why this works (curious mountain lions apparently don’t figure things out right away). This is why: this mantra is basically an incantation or a spell. Let me illustrate.

As an experiment, say to yourself, “how can it get better than this?” Go ahead, speak it out loud.

It can be said without emotion, true. But in real life, when you say this there’s going to be a reason that involves emotion. It can be said sarcastically, right? Go ahead, speak it sarcastically. Feel that energy. It can also be said with curiosity. Now, do that. See the difference? That time was more energetically balanced. Now, speak it with enthusiasm, as if you just closed out a perfect day doing something you love. Do you notice the difference in energy between this time and the first time? Can you feel that?

This phrase can be the conduit or a manifestation of several kinds of energy. If it’s said (or thought, consciously or subconsciously) with malice and regret, we’ll say it sarcastically. If it’s expressed with wonder, it will come out as a sincere question. If it’s said with gratitude in spite of the current circumstance – especially if I remember that I’ve been here before and always made it out - it will come out with some enthusiasm, probably coupled with wonder. And if I’m really doing it right, some humor will be in there, too.

When I recently came to the circumstance of not knowing where my next dollar was coming from (and it was approaching halfway through November), I decided to continue the habit of thinking these words. Furthermore, I worked to retain the energy of enthusiasm where I once might have used only the energy of sarcasm if I spoke these words at all. Worse, when I found myself in a situation like this, I was at one time more apt to take matters into my own hands. I would say, “Guess I’d better get a job that pays more, then.”

Now, let’s address this course of action.

What’s wrong with getting a job that pays more? Nothing, unless my wonder, enthusiasm, and humor go along with it – and it almost always did. Finding my own answers, I realized, has been the way I “solved” my problems. The trouble with this is that when I “find my own answers,” ISH seems to say to Itself, “OK, looks like you got this handled. Me go now.” (My ISH speaks some Pidgin, so you’ll have to forgive him. Or her. Or it. Or me.) Biblically speaking, this is the same as “trusting in the arm of flesh.” To say the least, trusting in this way is like dropping a rock in a cup chock full of potential miracles; some of the miraculous possibilities are going to spill out.

The upshot is this: when I made the choice to take matters into my own hands, I closed the door to wonder. This means I closed the door to miracles. Miracles, after all, rely on wonder. As the old woman in Avatar says, “It’s hard to fill a cup that’s already full.” My “knowing” my new course (getting a great paying job) is the act of filling my cup with the Known. But it was my own Known, not the Known of ISH.

See the difference?

That does NOT mean I don’t look for work. In fact, the other day I applied for a sales job for a local lumber company. The difference is that I am not relying on it coming through like I once would have. Instead, I applied and then said, “How you like this, ISH? If you do, here’s one option. If there’s something better, I’m open. By the way, ‘How can it get better than this?’”

If you haven’t figured it out, a state of wonder is critical. But faith… no, that’s another word that’s too charged… let me try this again. Instead of losing hope which will eventually lead to losing my sense of wonder, I choose to remember that I’ve always been ok in the end, somehow. That’s a form of gratitude, isn’t it? It might wander into the realm of faith, too. At least it leads to it. And Gratitude is a very powerful emotion when it comes to prayer. It leads to an experiential understanding of the benevolent nature of ISH, which is required to move it from strictly wonder to excitement about what the awesome Universe has up Her sleeve THIS time! Without wonder and gratitude, we fall into “knowing.” And ISH help us if we do.

The sticking point is that, at one time, I thought God was all about withholding blessings if I wasn’t obedient to the commandments. Programming, right? But now I know that withholding is actually against the nature of God. ISH wants us to have and be whatever it is we wish to have and be; so badly that this Reality will literally give us whatever we align with, all the time. Only we can limit ourselves. We do that, not the Universe. It’s all about what energy we choose to align with. Certainly not merely the words we speak.

Before I close, a word about “competing prayers.”

At one time, my energy was about wanting to make copious amounts of money so I could have abundance to share. This is really typical of religious folks but kind of makes sense, right? So, I figured I would get the best job I could. I’m essentially a salesman, professionally speaking. Salesmen can make massive money, it’s true. But I’ve found that in general, the company that hires you wants all of my attention. Worse yet, they use fear to keep my attention focused on them – fear of not hitting my goals, of not being a top performer, etc.

“But hey,” I reasoned, “I need to make a lot of money because I want to share with a lot of people.”

My heart, I figured, was in the right place. Wasn’t this a “righteous” desire? So, my idea was to do the sales thing for a while. Then, when I was comfortable, I would quit and do something that more directly aligns with my dreams. Nice plan my mind came up with, huh?

Let’s pause here.

That’s a lot of “ME” in that paragraph, right? A lot of my own personal scheming. My figuring. My will. And I’m here to tell you that I could regale you for at least an hour about the weird and oh-so-special ways these careers have come crashing down, imploded, scattered, and bolted. It’s been literally miraculous. The “problem” was that my higher prayers had been heard, my higher intentions, but I was not energetically embodying them. I was acting, thinking and feeling from a place of lack and from a place of “I got this, ISH.” These higher prayers themselves were very, very powerful, spoken and felt when I was pierced up to the Tree during many Sun Dances. They were intentions spoken and felt during 4-day fasts on sacred Vision Quests. And, they were spoken and felt during the innumerable miles I’ve driven to take classes on Peruvian shamanism. They were found in the extreme sacrifice I currently experience in order to live a life where I can easier control the energy of the moment – such as living in a tipi, a tent, or off-grid for most of the past decade.

These higher prayers, these intentions made of Love and spoken aloud, overrode the ones created from Fear, a feeling of Lack, or Unworthiness. So, it would have been unjust and unnatural for the Universe to keep me at the top of the national sales force at SolarCity where I made good money. That would be against my own higher prayer. How do I know? Because my focus had left the "higher prayer" and went to the “energy doesn’t matter, force does” scheme I had concocted when I decided to be comfy before I serve others! So instead, SolarCity inexplicably fired the whole national sales force in my division three weeks before I was supposed to move to Oahu to kick off a brand-new division for them. Similarly, it was impossible for ISH to grant me the “$10,000 a month in commissions, guaranteed” that my last boss promised would be mine at Roth Heating, just last year. I didn’t grasp it at the time, but my heart was aligning with a bigger mission, one driven by Love without precondition. I made it that way with my higher prayers and with my intent both spoken, thought, and felt. My soul, aligned with ISH, required the failure of these other opportunities. My MIND, on the other hand, only wanted to figure out how to get a motorcycle and make my credit sane again before I have to go be a monk.

See the difference?

Here’s the point: until I learned how to get out of the way and allow ISH to answer my questions without my interference, I suffered financially. I’m still on the razors edge of this, it’s pretty new, but I see how it works now. My job is to uncover possibilities, do what I can, and then sit back and ask, “Hey, Universe! How can it get better than this?” with all the raw wonder and enthusiasm that I can muster. Because I know from experience that I’m always handled, one way or another. Many times, it’s been a generous friend. Once a friend handed me $2,000, no questions asked. (Another time, someone handed me a personal check for $175,000 on a handshake for a business deal. That’s a cool story for later.)

So, yes, things can and might come out of nowhere. Or, I might get to continue to be broke. Plenty of people with my aspirations do. I have to be ok with that, too. It’s not my preference, but if that’s what comes, on some level it is my preference. For now, I release expectation and my own will, and keep my energy loving and, frankly, laughing. (I laugh all the time – especially when I realize I’m 55 and living in a tent.) It’s all an adventure after all, isn’t it? This energy will help foment the kind of interaction with the Universe that will not only bless me, but bind me to a healthier understanding of the delicate relationship between prayer, intention, energy, and desires.

I could speak more about healing our wounds, about soul retrieval, balance, and disidentification with ego. These are all a part of the process as well. In short, what refracts our attention and our ability to stay the course in Love when things look dire will give us an idea of where we need to work to get out of our own way. These “refractions” are like wormholes into our souls; they’ll lead us to our fundamental wounds and flaws in our reasoning. For me, in the past it’s been desire, lust (not necessarily sexual), a skewed understanding of God and obedience, and about ten other things that I’ve been working on for a decade.

With all this work, is that programming becoming “thin” enough to stop refracting my ability to align with Universal will? Have I done the work? Or at least enough to have found a key that works on this particularly sticky lock?

It seems like it.

In the past week, I found out about a job that would take me away from The Mountain for a few weeks, but that would give me time to work on my calling regardless, and be able to pay my bills.

“How can it get better than this?” I asked in sincere wonder and excitement when I found it.

And then as of last night, someone with whom I’ve worked several times asked me if I would get on Zoom with her and her business partner. There’s a job, she says, that she wants me to do (I don’t know when, yet). They’re projecting that if I’m successful at all, I’ll make far more than I need. I can do it remotely, something critical to my life’s work since I live remotely. So, this is a new career opportunity. And that’s great. But my real job at this point is to, more specifically:

· Keep my focus on my Calling from Spirit, which is working with men – particularly young men;

· Release fantasy about all the cool stuff I could buy if I made “that much money;”

· Laugh at the idea of yet another career that promises untold riches, while exhibiting Gratitude without pushing the idea of this opportunity away (Be careful, Marleyface; tricky math!);

· Wonder at what the Universe is bringing me, this time. A door? A key? Neither? Both?

· Be available to step into it if it feels right;

· Remember to my focus: the calling from Spirit that I mentioned above;

· Ask, “Now, how can it get better than this?”

· And finally, as a curious mountain lion, wait patiently for the feast that, like an unsuspecting deer, is making her way down the trail.

I can take her, or not. It’s up to me.

And it doesn’t get any better than that.

(Art from Lloyd Blunk)

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