Recently I’ve seen a lot of public pleas to the Universe to provide material goodies as well as individually desired outcomes for a variety of human problems. Among these pleaders there seems to be the idea that channeling requests through social media and thereby gathering a critical mass of support makes one’s voice to the spirit world louder, and positions them for faster or guaranteed positive response.
Certainly prayer circles have long used such a method to increase the worthiness of requests to the gods to intervene and grant divine favors. Some occult covens and secular law of attraction groups do the same kind of imploring of universal energies. It seems human nature when feeling helpless and disadvantaged to entreat the powers that be to provide what will transform a difficult situation into some highly beneficial result.
Something About This Disturbs Me
It feels to me like the Universe is perceived as a spiritual ATM. If you just have the right personal intercession number, you can make a withdrawal of whatever you want, whatever ego thinks is good to acquire, whatever will ease discomfort or inconvenience.
Calling on the gods to fix our troubles and provide for all our needs is an idea that is deeply embedded in many theologies. And in the last 40 years or so with the rise of feel-good / abundance-thinking ministries and therapies, the result has been the development of a culture of entitlement – that is, several generations of people who believe themselves entitled to get whatever they want just because they want it.
This, in my view, is a corrupt spirituality. And a dangerous mental health practice.
The problem with an approach to spirituality that is steeped in the idea of entitlement is that we then neglect the important second part of the equation – doing our part.
Regarding the gods, or universal powers like some sugar daddy with unlimited moneybags of treats to toss out if we just beg loud and long enough or in some arbitrarily determined “right way” relieves us of the responsibility to make more effort than that to solve our own problems and improve our own circumstances.
Maybe it’s my Capricorn, nose-to-the-grindstone sensibility that sees that investment in entitlement rituals as a misguided and ultimately disempowering exercise.
Maybe I still have the faint echo of a childhood Sunday school mantra that God helps those who help themselves rolling around in my memory banks.
Maybe my shamanic practice has taught me that the spirit world guides rather than provides, or my Buddhist influences that whisper that if enlightenment is the goal then we must strive to release ourselves from attachments to desires, including the desire for the magic wand that relieves all suffering.
Transforming Gimme to Gratitude
But what if, instead of a gimme this gimme that kind of ATM approach, what if our prayers were:
help me use Right Thoughts and Actions
guide my steps
shine light on where I should be that I can find the way
nourish my spirit that my energy may endure
may unhealthy distractions and attachments be dissolved
encourage my willingness to walk in alignment and integrity
I am grateful -- for the lessons, and the light, and the chance to grow
It's not that I don't understand the despair and feeling of being out of options. It's not that I lack compassion or fail to see genuine need.
It's that I really believe that there is so much more we can do to empower ourselves and improve our own circumstances. Guidance from above, or beyond, or however you conceptualize it, paired with confidence in yourself and your own good efforts, probably in several directions -- that's the way that feels spiritually empowered to me. What about you?
If you have caught yourself engaging in a bit of spiritual entitlement thinking and would like some help in transforming that to a spiritual connection that is about gratitude and empowerment, I'm here to help. See the page on spiritual coaching and let's chat.