by Liz Thompson: Emerson stated, that every institution is but the lengthened shadow of one person, then the Agape International Spiritual Center,the Association for Global New Thought, and the Season for Nonviolence are indeed extensions of Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith and his vision of our human family united on a foundation of peace.
Reverend Michael’s life is a living testament to building community.
In the 1970’s he began a journey that embraces the major religions, philosophies and cultures of East and West. “I greatly admire what you are doing to bring about the Beloved Community,” wrote Coretta Scott King, “which is certainly what my dear husband worked for and ultimately gave his life for.”
In l986, Reverend Michael founded a transdenominational community, which today has 9,000 members and 35,000 “friends” worldwide, devoted to the study and practice of the New Thought-Ancient Wisdom tradition of spirituality. Agape’s outreach programs feed the homeless, serve individuals who are imprisoned and their families, partnership with community service organizations active in children’s schools, camps and shelters, and programs which advocate the preservation of the planet’s environmental resources.
Reverend Michael’s inner vision reveals a world joined together by humankind’s highest development spiritually, philosophically, educationally, scientifically, governmentally and socially. His renown as a harbinger of the world’s quest for peace has attracted great leaders acting as catalysts for organizational and societal change.
Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mohandas K. Gandhi, shares the national co-directorship of A Season for Nonviolence with Dr. Beckwith. SNV promotes and teaches the principles of nonviolence embodied by Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and is endorsed by UNESCO for its Culture of Peace and Nonviolence Appeal by Nobel Peace Laureates. Other notable supporters include Dr. C.T. Vivian, Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne of Sri Lanka, His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet, Coretta Scott King and Dr. Robert Muller.
As co-founder and president of the Association for Global New Thought, Dr. Beckwith stands with other visionary leaders in education, sociology, economics, science, and international forecasters—those who dare to call an end to human suffering. AGNT is the convening organization of A Season for Nonviolence and of it the Dalai Lama has said: “Both Gandhiji and Martin Luther King are inspiring examples of the power and truth of nonviolence and the actions that arise from them. They not only embraced nonviolence in principle, but implemented it in action. This Season for Nonviolence is a very good tool to remind us of their witness, but also of the large unfinished work we have together in transforming awareness on our planet.”
The Association for Global New Thought exists for the purpose of galvanizing organizations and individuals to contribute to the unfinished work that the Dalai Lama refers to. As its voice, Reverend Michael guides activities such as AGNT’s annual Awakened World conference bringing together mentors at their creative edge in guiding humanity to its highest potential. Each year the Synthesis Dialogues are held with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama of Tibet, drawing together impresarios of peace who create together networks of people engaged in transformative leadership.
We have the distinct pleasure this month of speaking to Reverend Michael about his visionary techniques, and his vision for the future.
Liz Thompson: I understand you are the originator of the visioning technique used in the founding and the development of the Agape International Spiritual Center.
Can you give us a basic description of that process?
Michael Beckwith: The Visioning Process is about people cultivating the ability to hear or see a vision for their life. Another way that I say it is to catch God’s idea of yourself and your life… or God’s idea of whatever project it is that you are working.
Often individuals have an idea of what they want in life, so they use the metaphysical tools such as visualization to clearly see the outline that is described and to assist in the manifestation.
The vision process is basically about listening and cultivating the ability to hear the soul’s desire or to hear the message that wants to come out of us – rather than going on what we think we want.
Far too often, individuals are affected by the world around them by education, by their parental fantasies, and they think they know what they want. But very often they are not listening and cultivating their ability to hear what really wants to happen…the passion of their soul and their real soul desire.
The visioning process is really a technique for that.
Liz Thompson: So it’s really more about being quiet than actively searching for a solution?
Michael Beckwith: Yes and it has certain stages…if you want me to go through that?
Liz Thompson: Yes, that would be wonderful.
Michael Beckwith: In doing the vision process, we begin with cultivating the ability to sense we are surrounded by the unconditional love of God.
I generally have people become still and become perceptive to the awareness that we are living and moving and having our dreams in pure spirit. And the spirit, or God, is love. At every point in the universe God is love. God is totally giving of Himself.
So I generally have people get in touch with a moment in their lives where they were experiencing unconditional love…a love without agenda. Whether it is the touch of a grandparent, a friend, or a moment where they were caught up in the ecstasy of oneness with the spirit.
Then I have them bring that into their memory to have it active and in front of them. And then, as we sit within that space…because we know that basically unconditional love is part of salvation that we want to involve in whatever it is that we seek to manifest.
Then Part 2 would be…we ask the questions, “What is God’s idea of himself and my life? What is the Universe’s idea of itself and whatever project it is that we are working on?”
As scripture says… “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened.”
These are laws that speak to receptivity. Asking doesn’t change the universe – doesn’t change the divine mind – but it makes us receptive to what the cosmic mind is always doing which is broadcasting divine ideas.
So asking makes you receptive. We train people to really ask and really cultivate the awareness, the skill of listening to be available to an idea…to an impulse…to an insight or a revelation.
The average individual doesn’t really know how to listen.
A person will ask somebody or be in a conversation with somebody…and before the person can even finish what they are saying, the average person is already formulating how they are going to respond to it.
That space of really active listening needs to be cultivated.
From the vision process we spend time in learning how to listen because the Word, or spiritual ideas are being broadcast, but can we hear them, can we catch them, are we available to them?
After we ask the question, “What is God’s idea for my life? Or whatever it is, the project we are working on.”
We listen and begin to hear, and perhaps we begin to write down, announce what it is that we are feeling or seeing or hearing. Because people catch vision through different modalities, some people are very visual some people are more audible other people are more kinesthetic. When we learn to be able to hear and discern the difference between the ego chatter and mind chatter and a real of impulse of the spirit…and that takes a degree of practice and a degree of real interest.
So we learn to articulate what we feel, and sense, and hear and then we ask the question as we learn to articulate the vision.
The next question is, “What is it that must I become in order to manifest what I am now seeing, sensing, or hearing?”
Because it is impossible to have something that we are not willing to become in consciousness – that we are not really ready to embody. It’s not magical or wishful thinking. It’s really about inner transformation to become a vessel or a vehicle for that which the soul is seeking to manifest.
So we ask, “What is it that I wish to become in order for this to manifest?” And inside we know the answers.
We ask that question, and without judgment or censorship we begin again to listen for what it is that we need to become.
For instance when I was developing and founding the spiritual community now known as Agape International, the spiritual community began to grow and evolve.
I would have those that were working with me in my vision group, visioning with me on a regular basis and I would ask the question, “What is it that we want to become to manifest the vision of what a real spiritual community is all about that we were now articulating and beginning to describe?
One individual got in tune with the fact that she was feeling kind of jealous and a little upset about all the people who were starting to come to the spiritual community. She realized inside that she was a little selfish and she wanted to be special and hold this space just for herself. So she had to become more loving and less attached in order for the vision she was seeing of this thriving community that was carrying a strong light of transformation to the world to manifest …she had to. And that is what she began to pray for, for herself.
Because we couldn’t have the community we wanted unless we really were carrying the vibration of being unconditionally loving and being an invitation for people to join us.
So, we ask that question, “What is it that I must become? Where must I grow, how must I change?”
These questions are transformational questions.
It’s not about trying to make something happen in the world, it is becoming something so that which is already happening, can happen through us.
We are keenly aware that this presence, whatever name we call it, whether we call it God, or the Omnipotent Presence, or the Universal Mind, or Divine Creator, or Love, or Intelligence, whatever we call it…it is the same yesterday, today and forever. It cannot compromise or contradict its own nature. So it’s not going to change for us.
Therefore the work is really us changing, so that its nature can begin to be expressed through us.
Then we ask the question, “What gift or gifts do we have already that we are willing to share?” Perhaps those gifts are latent, perhaps those gifts are gifts we’re sitting on and not using.
What gifts do we have already to give for this particular project or this particular soul desire? So we begin to be aware of those gifts, some have to be expressed more, some just have to be acknowledged. We have to acknowledge and take inventory that we have some gifts that need to be expressed.
Get in tune with the vibration of the frequency of willingness. Are we really willing to become what is necessary, are we really willing to do what is necessary?
I call it activating the Sacred Yes within.
People know what is in themselves or whether they have really said yes to something…whether they are still operating on “maybe”, or “I don’t know”.
They can say “yes” with their lips but inside they are still holding back. So in the visioning process we have people get in touch with the Sacred Yes through activating the vibration of willingness, “Yes, I am really willing to become this…”
Then once we have activated willingness, we have surrounded ourselves with unconditional love, we are catching the vision, we are learning to articulate that vision, how to describe it…we ask the questions, What must we become? Where must we grow? Now, are we really willing do this and are we really to become this?
And we activate that and we magnify that vibration of willingness within us. And then two things happen after that.
1. I will lead the group or individual in an affirmative prayer that anchors what they have seen and felt and their willingness.
2. We’ll look at the areas of what we must become, and those particular areas become what the individual works on until the next time we come together.
So instead of just going on and trying to do something we do the inner work.
Sometimes I’ll form prayer partnerships so individuals are actually praying with each other about the area in consciousness they have to grow in…because remember we can’t have what we are not willing to become. And if you do get it, it will only be temporary.
Oftentimes in the metaphysical movement, people will visualize something to bring into manifestation, but they haven’t really done the inner work necessary to embody having that happen in their life. So it will come and be only fleeting or they will have an inordinate amount of fear regarding its loss. They’ll get it and they’ll be afraid of losing it.
But if you really become something in consciousness, it’s a part of you… you can never lose it.
It’s like playing the piano. Somebody can come and steal your piano, but you still have your gift. You find another piano and you play it.
Or if you have demonstrated a level of prosperity, somebody can come and steal some money from you, but you will always generate more money because you have within you the skill, the consciousness and the wherewithal to manifest more prosperity.
So the idea in the vision process is a transformational technology that allows us to really change and begin to activate the real desire of our soul rather than just a fleeting surface desires of the mind – or the society in which we live, which is oftentimes very consumer driven and materialistic.
People are out there thinking they want something and, when they hit bottom, they “get it”. They realize it is like eating calories that they really don’t want. Was it from the soul or from the surface? And that’s a brief description of the vision process.
Liz Thompson: Does the vision process or these principles work for everybody?
Michael Beckwith: Oh absolutely. Mental and spiritual laws or spiritual principles govern us. And when one is in alignment with these principles, then it works for them.
Like the law of buoyancy works for everyone…
A person may say well, “I come from a family of non-floaters. I can’t float.”
But if you yield to the law of buoyancy it doesn’t matter whether your mother couldn’t float, or your father, or you’ve never floated before. If you yield and understand the law of buoyancy, you can float. A ship floats using that.
Or the law of aerodynamics or gravity… These are laws where it doesn’t matter who is using them.
If Moses knew about the law of aerodynamics, he may have flown over the Red Sea.
So in the same sense, there are principles that have something to do with laws of manifestation, something to do with the creativity of thought, and something to do with thought being transmuted into mental energy.
Energy can’t be created or destroyed but it has the tendency to transmute itself into behavior, experience, symptoms, etc.
So when one is in alignment with these sacred laws, these universal principles, their life begins to reveal whatever they are in alignment with, to a positive or to a negative degree.
As a matter of fact it is working for everybody right now! For some people it’s working for them in reverse. It’s still working for them. It’s working on their disbelief. You see.
Liz Thompson: Yes, right!
We believe strongly in intention to manifest outcomes. And we like to hold intentions for each of the people we interview at Healthy Wealthy nWise.
So in that vein what is currently your most important project, and how you would like yourself as well as us to use intention to manifest it?
Michael Beckwith: Well, we have been in existence for over 17 years, we have a congregation of over 9000 members and a number of ministries and program departments and special events. I don’t have an “edifice complex”, but we are intending now to discover land and to build an edifice that will house our many ministries and programs and some of the businesses that are now beginning to spin off from our ministries.
So it’s time for us to build now in the next few years. That is probably one of our most current projects.
We have other projects like our record label that will be developing Agape out there.
We have Agape Productions that will have something to do with doing movies that are inspirational and uplifting.
We have a project that is a restaurant that will bring in a degree of health education and good food.
Now we are looking for land to build our space.
Liz Thompson: So that is the intention you would like us to hold, that you find your land?
Michael Beckwith: The land and the building. We are going to do a functional work of art that inspires and uplifts and is very functional for our community.
Liz Thompson: Great. I can hear the passion for it in your voice.
Michael Beckwith: Yes, it is happening even as we speak because we are intending it.
Liz Thompson: Exactly!
So what would you say has been your greatest accomplishment so far?
Michael Beckwith: Oh my. Well first of all, I don’t know if I would label it an accomplishment. But just beginning with myself, I believe the greatest miracle in life is when an individual can really change.
When I look back on my life and its unfolding over the past 30 years when I first had my earliest enlightenment as a young adult, the fact that I’ve developed and grown and changed.
The individual that used to be, isn’t here today. And there is more of the spirit and less of the surface and I think that’s tremendous for me.
We just celebrated our 17th anniversary in November and sometimes you look retrospectively at how far you have come and I can look at that guy Michael 30 years ago and look at Michael today and see that there is a greater integration with of the spirit in him. And I love that. Change really happens; transformation really happens. We are not just paying lip service to it.
So as far as my personal development, I would say that I love the fact that I have changed and continue to change. I am more receptive to love – more available to it – and have a tremendous amount of inexhaustible energy that flows through me.
As far as other accomplishments… I don’t know… I don’t like to toot my own horn…
Liz Thompson: Oh come on!
Michael Beckwith: I’m just glad I am of service. I’ve had the opportunity to be the founder of this spiritual community. I have had the opportunity to be the co-founder of the Association for Global New Thought which is a wonderful organization that serves as an umbrella for a large part of the new thought, ancient wisdom movement. We have begun the project of Ghandi-King Season for Non-Violence which is in its 7th year where we have a 64 day campaign to really bring into the public’s mind the principles of these great men and to live by them. That has been a really fantastic accomplishment of ours.
Out of the Association we have developed what we call the Synthesis Project, which is something we do in holding with the Dali Lami. He asked us to convene this project for him.
Every two years we meet with him and certain world and spiritual leaders to articulate and cast a vision for the world. And I am happy to be a part of that, happy to have facilitated some of those meetings that we had with the Dali Lami.
I also think that and my wife and I have written, I don’t know, over a hundred songs that people who know it, call The Sound of Agape. What our choir does, what Rickie does… I think is a tremendous accomplishment over the last thirteen or fourteen years, to get a body of music out to the world that is really uplifting and healing.
We get a lot of testimonies, people writing and calling us saying that their lives have been changed. So I think that is what really speaks to me.
Liz Thompson: If you could give our readers one piece of advice that would help them move towards more balanced abundance today, what would it be?
Michael Beckwith: Just one piece!?!
Liz Thompson: Just one-piece… well that’s a loaded question isn’t; it’s never just one piece…
Michael Beckwith: Well, first of all, I think an individual should really understand that they are unlimited in nature and they begin to think from that space opening themselves up to really think first of all.
A lot of times what some people call thinking is just a shuffling of information it’s not real thinking. Real thinking has something to do with being still and catching new ideas from the realm of the Spirit.
When individuals really begin to contemplate that they are unlimited there is no experience, no circumstance, there is nothing that ever happened to them, there is nothing happening now, that will prevent them from living the real passion of their soul.
When they really begin to really understand that, then the whole world opens up for them – not only in terms of healing their life, but also discovering their gifts that they may express them fully.
Everyone is here, not by accident but on purpose for a purpose to release a gifted area for the transformation of the world. And so if I think that people think from that realm, ideas come, inspirations happen. Roadblocks and obstacles that seem to be there begin to dissolve because those roadblocks are a manifestation of doubts, worries, and fears and a sense of separation from their good.
When they begin to think from their unlimited nature, those doubts, worries, and fears begin to dissolve, and they see that it is an open road for them.
So it’s not so much about overcoming obstacles, it’s about going to that realm within and seeing that you are an on purpose, with a purpose, with a gift and if you have a willingness to shine it and share it the universe will support you.
The universe supports life, it does not support destruction. So I say be still… Listen…
Liz Thompson: Well, are there any parting thoughts that you would like to leave us with that we haven’t discussed yet?
Michael Beckwith: That the universe is friendly, that as ominous as things appear to be at times, I would like the readers to know that the consciousness on this planet has never been higher than it is today.
And because of that; because of the millions of people who have become dedicated to affirmative prayer, meditation, affirmative intention setting, that even though it may not be on the front pages of our newspapers, the world is poised to reveal its magnificence, its order, its harmony, like never before.
To the degree we choose that for ourselves, the universe supports us like never before, it’s a good time to be alive.
Liz Thompson: Thank you Rev. Michael for your time and your visionary insight, this has been wonderful. Have a fantastic day!
Michael Beckwith: Thank you.