comments, ideas, and suggestions.
Prosperity is the manipulation of spiritual substance and bringing it into form as matter so that we can use it in the physical world.
Diane: Edwene, you are considered to be one of the forerunners in the prosperity movement, having been in this field for some thirty years. Would you please give me your definition of prosperity?
Edwene: Sure. My definition may be a little bit different from what most of the world conceives prosperity to be. My definition of prosperity is:
- having a ''vitally alive healthy body for the God-being that we are to express through;
- relationships that are joyous, satisfying, intimate, honest, and nurturing, and that work all the time;
- work that we love so much it's not work but play; and
- all the money that we can spend.
In order to live at that level, which I believe is the level that Jesus was speaking about when he talked about ''the Kingdom of Heaven,'' we've got to come into alignment with four spiritual laws.
These laws are:
- Tithing. Returning 10% of everything we've received back to that person, place or institution where we've received our spiritual food.
- Engaging in forgiveness work every day.
- Setting clear-cut, tangible goals.
- Finding out what our divine purpose is here in the world.
To speak a little bit about the first principle, tithing, the place where many people get confused is that they give to charity and they think that's a tithe, and it is not. It is a wonderful thing to do, but a tithe has to go where you've been fed spiritually.
In my opinion it is a sacred commission that we've been given which does several things for us. It increases our faith one hundredfold, because when we tithe it puts us in a position where we feel in integrity with spiritual law. When we feel in spiritual integrity, then we allow ourselves to receive what is here for us.
Diane: I have practiced tithing at various points in my life and I could never get away from thinking ''I'm going to tithe because I'm 'supposed to' ,'' or, ''I'm going to tithe to get something back.'' There seems to be a challenge to get into the ''I'm freely giving'' kind of mindset. How do you do that?
Edwene: There are several different ways. I'd like to go from the foundational scripture that the Bible gives us on tithing. Malachi 3:10, says ''Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith,'' said Jehovah Lord of Hosts, ''...if I will not open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it.''
So it's already connected, not by us but by the writers of this scripture. It says you bring your tithe in, you prove God in your life, and the windows of heaven are open for you.
So I say to people, ''Look, do you go to the water faucet and say, ''I'm going to turn you on but you don't have to bring water out unless you want to''? You turn on the facet and water comes. You don't even have to think about it.
Diane: Are you saying that it doesn't matter what your personal attitude is about it?
Edwene: That's right, at first it doesn't matter. Ideally, it all would be most wonderful if we could begin it with the most pure of motivations, but I did not, so I can't say it has to be that way.
I started tithing because I had tried everything else. I couldn't make my life work. It was an absolute mess. I thought, What if this was the way and I missed it? I'm going to give it a try.
Because this scripture said ''prove me now.'' I felt that gave me permission to put it to the test. So I decided to do it as a research project to see if it worked. I did it, and absolutely amazing things began to happen. The scriptures say that if you have faith as big as a mustard seed, that is enough and that's all I had.
I came to the discipline not knowing, but hoping that it was true. I began to tithe not because I was such a lover of God but because I wanted to pay my rent! That's not the reason I tithe now, of course. I believe in an Infinite Being that loves us enough to allow us to start where we are.
Diane: Let's talk about getting ''on purpose.'' This has to do with your passion, right?
Edwene: Absolutely! The question I urge people to ask themselves is, ''What would be the most fun thing I could do with my life? What makes my heart sing? What do I get excited about?'' and then go and do that. Even if at first it seems like it is playing video games or growing garlic. It's going to lead you to the most magnificent of lives. But you have to go the way of your joy ''the way of your bliss,'' as the mystics say.
Diane: Many people who are involved in a 9-to-5 job, have a family, a mortgage, and credit card debt feel that the risk to move from that to their passion is too drastic and too great.
Edwene: Yes, it is very scary sometimes. Here's how I did it in my own life. Within a three-month period, I moved from being an employee of a school district secure, with tenure, a retirement plan, all that stuff to opening my own business.
It was very frightening so I didn't quit my day job until I had my night job fairly well established. It required a great deal of juggling of time, energy, skills and talents but all my passion was with what I was doing in the evening, which was teaching these kinds of classes. I kept up the work that I was doing in the day until I got to see that the thing I was doing in the evening would support me.
In that transition period, my belief is that you have to spend a lot of time in prayer asking for guidance. ''Show me the way to do this.'' Ask for those ideas. It does take courage.
But courage is the commitment to begin without any guarantee of success. And it takes courage for us to step out of the comfort zone even though we are not happy there. To move into the possibility of living a magnificent and joy-filled life it takes courage to do that.
Diane: Because you come right up against the edge of fear of failure, and the possibility that reality is never going to match the picture in our pipe-dream.
Edwene: Exactly. You know, a lot of people do experience what the world calls failure before they accomplish their dreams. But at least they are moving in the right direction. As scary as it might be, it's scarier to stay stuck in a dead-end, joyless life, then retire and get a gold watch, and die, and never know what pure joy of living is about. That, to me, is a terrible hell!
Diane: Yes, for myself I can't begin to think of dying without accomplishing the dreams that I have or going to the places that I choose to, yet I see people doing that all the time. They give up their dreams. . .
Edwene: . . .and just settle with the idea that ''this is impossible so I can't even think about it.'' These are the lives I want to touch by opening the door to new possibilities.
Diane: Have you ever reached the point in your own life where you lost touch with your passion for a time?
Edwene: Not really. There have been times when I have been tired and when I've overscheduled myself. There have been times when I've had family situations and what seemed to be emergencies and I just felt I was in overwhelm. But I really never lost the passion for this teaching that I love so well.
There have been times when I've had to take time off for self renewal. But, no, the passion has always been there since I first discovered it, which was about thirty years ago.
Diane: Do you feel that if someone does lose their passion for whatever it is they are doing it might not be what they came here to do?
Edwene: It could be that, or it could be that they just overdid it. There must be balance. You can only go as high as you are willing to go low. So I take out regular times of privacy and solitude to feed my soul. I go apart a while from the work and do something else that feeds me at another level.
So if you lose your passion, well, just go and do something else for a while. And come back if you come back. Maybe you won't.
Diane: Are there exercises we can do to discover our passion?
Edwene: I suggest people ask themselves questions like, ''What is the most fun thing I can do with my life?'' What would you do with your life if money was no object, if you didn't have to work, if you didn't have responsibilities, if you could do anything, be anything, have anything? I suggest to people that they begin to go there in their fantasies and write about it. Visualize it. And start taking baby action-steps towards those things. In that way we begin to discover that life is a lot bigger than we thought it was.
Diane: How can we get into the flow of money and stay there? I have a friend, for instance, who is working her passion, but her work ebbs and flows. How can we live above the line while working with the tides of life?
Edwene: Catherine Ponder says that if you're stuck and life isn't going the way you want, something has to give and it is usually you.
My suggestion is that whatever you can give, give that. Whether it means clean out your closet and give away all those unused or old clothes, or make cookies for a school class, or give away all your books somehow, make space to receive. You can do that by giving away things, and also by doing forgiveness work. Because it is not the universe that is stopping the flow. The only one that can stop the flow is ourselves.
In order to prime the pump and get the flow going again, we've got to give something, and it usually has to be something of self, like forgiveness or giving ''stuff'' because we want ''stuff'' like money to flow in.
Diane: Could we do service work, as well?
Edwene: It could be service, certainly. It could be time and talent, phone calls, writing letters. Or giving gratitude that is a wonderful thing to do.
Diane: Let's talk about Forgiveness. Each one of us has areas that we have to continue to work on. Most of all to forgive ourselves.
Edwene: Absolutely. This is a theory I have that I really believe is true. All financial debt is a result of unforgiveness. Financial debt is a socially acceptable way of punishing ourselves. And when we no longer have to punish ourselves for anything, we'll find a way to have that debt disappear.
Also, I think the important thing to realize and I say this in a humorous way is that ''the only people that we have to forgive are the people who don't do things our way.''
It's a control issue. We put up these artificial standards for everyone else's behavior, and if they don't obey them, well, it's ''off with their heads!''
Before I go to sleep every night, my personal practice is to ask, ''Father Mother God, have I put anyone outside my heart today? Remind me, if I have, and show me how to invite them back in.''
This keeps me fresh and clean. No grudges. No hangover from yesterday. I find that there are really a lot of people who don't do things my way, so I pretty much have to forgive every day.
Diane: I know. There are a lot of headless people around me, sometimes.
Edwene: (laughing) They did not make me Queen of the Universe, and some days that annoys me.
Diane: Let's talk about Universal Laws. I hear that term quite often, but I don't know who discovered them or where they came from.
Edwene: I've been asking that question all my life. I don't have a clue. I can name some laws that people call universal, such as Like Attracts Like, or What You Send Out You Get Back. But there is no standard for a discussion of what Universal Law is.
There are many books written on it. But who made up these laws? That's a wonderful question. I don't have that answer.
I began about thirty years ago with a real committed devotion to studying, living, and practicing the laws that I found to be true in my own life. My guides for this pathway were the Red Letter edition of the Bible I just read the words that Jesus said and a marvelous book on prosperity by Charles Fillmore, who founded the Unity Movement with his wife, Mrytle. In that book he talks a lot about Spiritual Law. It resonated with what I wanted to be true.
From Fillmore I went on to Catherine Ponder. She talks about the Dynamic Laws of Prosperity.
I put into practice the Spiritual Laws that I thought I needed. The ones I worked with were the ones I mentioned before: tithing, forgiveness, setting goals, and getting ''on purpose.'' Those are the laws of manifestation, of demonstrating abundance drawing things out of invisible spiritual substance into the physical plane. That's what I wanted to do. And to me, that's what prosperity is all about. It is the manipulation of spiritual substance and bringing it into form as matter so that we can use it in the physical world.
Edwene: Yes. Exactly!
Diane: Are you seeing a difference in the challenges people seem to be having in today's world?
Edwene: Yes. In fact my work is already changing because of this. I have purchased a beautiful farm in North Alabama, and I am in the process of converting it into a retreat center called Rock Ridge Retreat. We've already had four events there.
Because what I'm finding as I travel doing my workshops is that people are hungry to have a time apart for reconnection, for reassessment, for reevaluation, and to allow themselves permission to look at options for their lives. People are beginning to realize that old dreams of success are not really what they want at all. What they want are relationships which enable them to grow and unfold, and challenging work that they can see makes a difference in the world.
It's no longer about the old ''rah-rah,'' success-at-any cost that I think some of us used to view as the way to go. Many people are beginning to see that important issues have to do with living an authentic life. To be a being of integrity. To prosper. Not so much in terms of large sums of money but to live above survival and to have genuine, loving relationships. That to me is encouraging.
Diane: That is encouraging, because certainly there is a lot of evidence that says the earth seems to be suffering in so many ways as a result of the actions of its people.
Edwene: I know. But in spite of the seeming empirical evidence, I do believe that there are souls in training who are coming forth with great ideas and wonderful solutions that everybody is going to get behind and say yes to.
It may take the appearance of negativity before we'll say yes. But sometimes ''you just have to break an egg before you can make an omelet.'' We've got some egg-breaking ahead of us. And that's good. Birthing a baby, unless you're extremely fortunate, has not been a painless process. We're birthing a baby a whole new consciousness for humanity and that's going to take the tearing down of some of the old structures of belief.
What I see in the spiritual community, whether we adopt that label or not, is that we are spiritual midwives sometimes it's large groups, sometimes small. Sometimes it's just one reader at a time getting the concept that ''Hey! This is a world that can work for everyone!''
Diane: Well, that is what I'm hearing from many types of people, from indigenous shamans in Mexico to Chinese Qi Gong masters. Everyone is optimistic. And yet, if you do research and report about the other side of the coin, it can be very dismal.
Edwene: Well, but you know, sometimes we have to have that wakeup call. And the more of us who are speaking the words or waking up people gently, the less shocking that call is going to be.
We must go about the work knowing that whatever happens there is no concern about how catastrophic it may be. We as a human family can handle it. We've handled all sorts of things, and whatever is coming we can handle that too.
The other side of it is so good.
Diane: Back to your new Alabama retreats. You're seeing that this retreat time is important?
Edwene: Yes. People need the time apart. People need to get outside their normal, everyday environment in order to give themselves permission to think in new categories. So I want to provide a space for those who are willing to take the time who know that, even though their life is good, there might be a better way.
And speaking of getting outside the everyday environment, I do want to say one thing that I'm excited about.
I have twin grandsons that are fourteen years old, and last year I took them on a King Arthur tour of England. We explored all the sacred sites where Arthur was born and where he died. We explored the legends of the Knights of the Round Table and we had the most marvelous time.
I got to see the incredible sweetness of the little boy heart, the light of their dreams and visions it was just a precious time of sharing with them.
When I came back, I began to look at the men in the circle in which I travel and I saw that in them, this light was gone. So I prayed about it and Spirit has given me a workshop to do for the very first time this October called ''Crone Wisdom for the Modern Man Embracing the Black Knight Within.'' It is for men only, and I'm doing it with the assistance of several crones in the area who are going to help. There will be no sexual energy in the group. It will be wisdom coming from the grandmothers' point of view, to encourage the men to get their dreams back.
I've done a lot of research on the rituals and tasks involved in the knighting ceremony. We will use this as the metaphor and framework to go through the process of bringing back the dream that our men had as little boys. ''I can slay this dragon'' or ''I can rescue this princess'' whatever archetype is appropriate.
I'm so excited and the materials are coming to me from every direction! This is how I know God wants me to do this.
And two weeks after I do the for-men-only workshop, I'm doing one for women only called ''Honoring the Crone.'' It is open to all women, and we will sit in a circle and listen to the women of wisdom, and honor them, and then have a very special ritual. I was a participant in a croning ceremony and was ''croned,'' as they say, in Glastonbery, England, several years ago. And it was one of the most powerful experiences of my life! So we are going to gather women together and have a croning ceremony, celebration, and firewalk!
Diane: It gives me goosebumps! And it reminds me of the importance to bring the knowledge that we are learning for ourselves back home to our children. What can we say to our kids that may help to influence them to have abundant and prosperous lives?
Edwene: I'll tell you what I did with my grandsons on this trip. As I was taking them to the King Arthur sites, I found one that is really well hidden it is not in the guidebooks, and it is called Saint Nekton's Glen a beautiful waterfall about a forty-minute hike into the woods down off the coast of Cornwall.
In the legends, this place is where King Arthur took the Knights of the Round Table and baptized them before he took them into spiritual battle.
My boys and I hiked in to this place and with their permission I baptized them as Spiritual Warriors, and I talked to them about what this meant that all the battles are within, there are no battles without, and that the Spiritual Warriors' task is to make this a better world for other people. And they got it. They really got it.
So what's missing, I believe, in the lives of our children are, first of all, mentors people who absolutely believe in them and will stand with them for any dream that they have. And then what is missing are rituals and ceremonies that have meaning.
Children have amazing dreams that nobody listens to. We're too busy giving them information. I'm telling you that it is an amazing thing when a kid catches a vision of what he or she could be. It doesn't take that much time. It takes a little planning, a lot of love, listening, and really responding to the space they are coming from.
Diane: Thank you Edwene, for paving the way for us!
Edwene: You're welcome.
, owner-director of Rock Ridge Retreat Center in Valley Head, Alabama, has made a one hundred percent commitment to the transformation of the abundance consciousness of the world. She is committed to ''power, passion, prosperity, and performance.''
An ordained Unity Minister for 22 years, she also is president of The Masters' School, and is an Executive Boardmember of the International New Thought Alliance. She has trained nearly 400 Master Prosperity Teachers, and travels approximately 250 days a year presenting Prosperity, Commitment, Riches & Honor and Integrity Workshops. A Certified Firewalking Instructor, she facilitates the Firewalking ceremony several times each year.
She has created and markets tapes and affirmation cards through her company, Prosperity Products. To contact Edwene Gaines visit her website at prosperityproducts.com
- The Holy Bible, King James Version: Malachi 3:10
- Catherine Ponder is considered one of America's foremost inspirational authors. She has written more than a dozen books, which include such best sellers as The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity, and her ''Millionaires of the Bible'' series. She is a minister of the nondenominational Unity faith and heads a global ministry in Palm Desert, California
- Holy Bible King James Version: Red Letter Edition (all words spoken by Jesus are written in red for easy identification)
- Charles Fillmore an innovative thinker, a pioneer in metaphysical thought at a time when most religious thought in America was entirely orthodox. He was a lifelong advocate of the open, inquiring mind, and he took pride in keeping abreast of the latest scientific and educational discoveries and theories. That website is at unityworldhg.org.
- The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity by Catherine Ponder; Paperback 355 pages (June 1987) Devorss & Co; ISBN: 0875165834
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