The Answer Is Within You
by Dr Michael Beckwith
What happens when you cross a spiritual visionary with a social revolutionary? You get a mind of enlightenment and a heart of compassion named Dr Michael Bernard Beckwith, founder and spiritual director of the Agape International Spiritual Center in Los Angeles.
In this interview he offers a personal glimpse into his spiritual path and practices.
Q: You teach that our true nature is divine. Did this realization come about through your life lessons, your inner awakening process, or teachers on your personal path?
A: I have a saying that has emerged from my spiritual walk: Pain pushes us until a vision pulls us. Even though I was curious about the mystery of existence since childhood, my intentional search began as a young man when I had the opportunity to attend a lecture by the great mystic Dr. Howard Thurman. His wisdom was profound, and even though his demeanor was humble and gentle, there was no mistaking his sense of inner empowerment. I wanted to emulate his example of true self-awareness and connection to what he considered Source.
In the early ’70s, social unrest, the continued movement for civil rights and student rebellion were powerfully active in our society. I “tuned in, turned on, and dropped out” to serve these causes. My eventual arrest for selling marijuana placed me in a court of law, but I was released on technicality. Even though I didn’t have to serve a jail sentence, the suffering caused by such a possibility was enough to push me into catching a higher vision of my life’s purpose.
So upon leaving the courtroom and arriving home, I challenged the Universe with a commitment that if it met my challenge, I’d totally devote my life to seeking truth. I began going to Ojai and learning from Krishnamurti; I read Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, Osho’s books, Thich Nhat Hanh, Hazrat Inayat Khan, and studied Western teachers including Dr. Ernest Holmes, Emanuel Swedenborg, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Walter Russell, Joel Goldsmith, to name a few. Eventually I became licensed minister in the New Thought tradition of spirituality. In 1986, I founded the Agape International Spiritual Center, a trans-denominational spiritual community. So all these combined steps in my journey revealed that we are spiritual beings having a human experience, that our true nature is the stuff of divinity.
Q: For those of us who don’t have a spontaneous spiritual awakening that changes our perspective, what do you recommend we practice?
A: Good question. There are individuals who have one spontaneous realization of their oneness with the Whole and think they’ve arrived at the spiritual summit, that there’s no more work to do. But consciousness is limitless. Remaining in a constant state of say, moksha (spiritual liberation), or complete freedom from the wheel of birth and death, is the result of tremendous inner work. Consciousness is limitless, so as long as we’re in the physical form gracing this three-dimensional planet, there’s still work to be done as far as our evolutionary spiritual progress is concerned.
The greatest thing that I could recommend is cultivating a sincere desire to spiritually develop, grow and unfold. Suffering is a great awakener, but why not instead apply and learn through our inherent wisdom? It’s possible when we give up lethargy and laziness about why we’re on the planet, which is to wake up.
Q: Some people believe the whole answer is in the law of attraction, as in “ask, believe, and you will receive whatever you want and when you want it. If you don’t receive it, it’s because you don’t believe it sufficiently.” Can you please elaborate on this?
A: Well, not everyone will like my answer. When people are referring to the law of attraction, prosperity, abundance, they’re usually using polite terms in reference to money and material possessions. In the pop teachings about prosperity, there is a shadow side, an immature notion that persons lacking the signs of outer abundance are undeveloped in prosperity consciousness, whereas those who have symbols of abundance possess higher metaphysical knowledge that they apply to acquire the things they desire.
This is an oversimplification. Life is not so black and white. There are subtleties; there are other laws that work in concert with the law of attraction. It behooves us to bend our knee in humility before life’s mysteries, including the unforeseen, unexpected turns we find ourselves taking on life’s road. A tidy saying or concept is not a one-dose pill to mentally swallow and magically change our life into what our ego wants it to be. There are deeper things afoot on our behalf, greater riches to be had than fulfilling all of our material desires.
Q: Any final thoughts or inspiration you want to leave our readers with?
A: Self-acceptance is the greatest discipline we will ever know. Our societal conditioning has convinced us we must excel, improve, upgrade, makeover ourselves and never simply rest in our essential ground of being. Accepting our perfectly imperfect self is an inside job that is best accomplished by direct contact with the Self through meditation and affirmative prayer, which relaxes the ego’s grip on our packaging and gives us a sense of humor with which to navigate our life.
Dr. Beckwith is a sought after meditation teacher, conference speaker, and facilitator of the Life Visioning ProcessTM, which he originated. In 2014 Beckwith addressed the prestigious TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) conference. Three of his most recent books—Life Visioning, Spiritual Liberation, and TranscenDance Expanded—are recipients of the prestigious Nautilus Award. He has appeared on SuperSoul Sunday, Dr. Oz, The Oprah Winfrey Show, OWN Help Desk, OWN’s SuperSoul Sessions, Tavis Smiley, Larry King Live, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and in his own PBS Special, The Answer Is You and is a member of Oprah’s prestigious inaugural SuperSoul 100. Every Friday at 1 pm PST, thousands tune into his weekly KPFK radio show, Wake Up! The Sound of Transformation.