The Black Box
or whose will is it anyway?
by Stephen J.M. Bray
Karbo promised me a fortune if I would follow his Dyna/Psych© formula and become an
entrepreneur. In an outrageously honest advertisement he described his own
‘rags to riches’ story. Advised to declare bankruptcy at 40 he was by 50 a
millionaire who claimed to have achieved his wealth ‘The Lazy Way’.
advertisement was just so good that I together with 2,786,500
other punters sent off my cheque for a self-published book that Karbo admitted
in the advertisement had cost him 50 cents to produce. I wanted money, and I
didn’t want to work for it. And this was his promise.
book comprised two parts, the second part described the workings of a mail order
business and provided a simple guide as to how to write advertisements and test
them. But the first part was sheer magic which Joe called Dyna/Psych©
~ “the programmed study and practice of achieving success by the planned
application of important but little understood natural laws”.[i]
book states in its opening sentence: “You are now on your way to having
everything in the world you really want!”.[ii]
the postscript Karbo referred to the three Eves of creation. ‘Conceive’
~ decide how you want to live; ‘Believe’ ~ accept that you are
already what you desire; ‘Achieve’ ~ impeccably act out your beliefs.
He concluded by stating: “You can have anything in the world you want if
you’re willing to pay the price”, he wrote.[iii]
Lazy Mans Way To Riches’ is a best seller that continues to inspire marketers
throughout the world. Many are successful. ‘Dyna/Psych©’ a
simple system of progressive relaxation and affirmation apparently works.
is not the first person to have written about those ‘important but little
understood natural laws’. Indeed he was inspired by an earlier work called
‘The Science of Getting Rich’, by Wallace T. Wattles. Published in 1910
‘The Science of Getting Rich’ reads like the quantum opportunism of Dr.
Wattles writes: “There are certain laws that govern the process of
acquiring riches; once these laws are learned and obeyed by any man, he will get
rich with mathematical certainty.
stuff from which all things are made is a substance that thinks, and a thought
of form in this substance produces the form. [v]
If Wattles is right when our thinking is confused we must create more
chaos in our lives. Orison Swett Marden the founder of America’s ‘Success
Magazine’ and a contemporary of Wattles wrote in 1910:
“Think and say only that which you wish to become true”. [vi]
Wattles believed that each of us has the natural and inherent power to
think what he wants to think but he warns:
“To think according to appearance is easy; to think
truth regardless of appearances is laborious, and requires the expenditure of
more power than any other work man is called upon to perform”.[vii]
Clearly we must conclude that we need a disciplined system with which to
run our thoughts such as Dyna/Psych© or Neuro-linguistic
There are many such systems but most consist of the same basic formula:
(1) Form a precise image in your mind of what you want to achieve.
(2) Trust that you must reap the rewards you are asking for.
(3) Practice gratitude daily for all the great new ideas and successes
that are coming your way.
(4) Act upon these ideas in faith creating practical opportunities to
achieve what you are thinking about. [ix]
Perhaps the most influential of such schemes is Napoleon Hill’s
‘Think and Grow Rich’. In the mighty seven-volume treatise ‘The Law of
Success’, upon which ‘Think and Grow Rich’ is based Hill introduces us to
the idea of affirmation.
“. . . any idea you firmly fix in your subconscious mind, by repeated
affirmation automatically becomes a plan of blueprint which an unseen power uses
in directing your efforts toward the attainment of the object in mind”.
Karbo, Wattles, and Hill did not enjoy easy lives. Each came from a poor
background. All worked hard. All died relatively young.
When the opportunity to study some of the most successful American
businessmen of his day presented itself to Hill he jumped at it.
And perhaps therein lies the weakness of thinking to grow rich, for the
concept is very much bound to the American dream: The idea that all may be
materially wealthy in a land of opportunity with free expression, democratic
principles and expansive lands. For oppressed impoverished migrants from a
post-feudal, industrialized Europe, America had for over 200 years held out such
a promise. But not all immigrants to America became wealthy, healthy or happy.
The ideas within Think and Grow Rich explained how and why such failure was
possible. Quite simply the rules were not being followed.
Some people think that James Allen from Ilfracombe, in the United Kingdom
writes in a similar vein to Wattles and Hill, but the focus of ‘As A Man
Thinketh’, published in 1903 is on the development of character, rather than
“Law not confusion is the dominating principle in the universe; justice
not injustice, is the soul and substance of life. Righteousness not corruption
is the moulding and moving force in the spiritual government of the world. This
being so man has but to right himself to find that the universe is right”.
Remarkably in 1978, Shakti Gawain a young American living in Mill Valley,
California was writing a ‘spiritually based’ best seller that emphasized
acquisition. In ‘Creative Visualization’, which remains her landmark work,
she begins the familiar formula with these words:
“Decide on something you would like to have, work toward, or create. It
can be on any level ~ a job, a house, a relationship, a change in yourself,
increased prosperity, a happier state of mind, improved health, beauty, or
better physical condition, or whatever”. [xii]
But the crucial word in this incantation is ‘decide’, for who or what
decides for whom? Are we claiming that we consciously are able to decide what
would be best for us, given how little we can possibly know of the nature of
We might simply try using ‘visualization’ to obtain what we need, but
this also raises dilemmas as the following illustration shows.
Paul Solomon, the founder of the Fellowship of the Inner Light embarked
upon a preaching tour when his car broke down, and he had insufficient funds to
buy a new one.
Together with his travelling companion Solomon listed all the drawbacks
of his vehicle. The opposites of these formed the basis of the criteria that
would be advantageous in a replacement.
Solomon’s friend asked, “Why don’t we precipitate a brand new
car?” Solomon replied: “Well, I can’t justify that. I have to know that
I’m asking for something because there is a need”. So Solomon asked for a
car that would enable him to complete the journey. He believed that ‘God’
had the power to give it to him. He did not concern himself about how this would
be accomplished. He did not use repeated visualization, or affirmation, since
this would indicate faith in a ritual rather than faith in God.
The prayer was answered in the following way. Solomon was lent a car to
do some sightseeing, and whilst he was away the owner of that car borrowed
Solomon’s ‘sick’ vehicle and wrote it off. Since she was driving, her
insurance replaced Solomon’s car, (which he had not insured comprehensively).
The replacement, which he bought with the insurance money, worked perfectly all
the way to his home in Atlanta where it shot its transmission.
Solomon says that this taught him a lesson. He asked for a brand new car,
and indeed soon someone bought him one.[xiii]
Paul Solomon’s story was at told Findhorn during a conference on
manifestation in 1977. The Findhorn Community is a living example of
manifestation in action. Dorothy Maclean, Eileen and Peter Caddy came to live on
a desolate caravan park near a rubbish tip at Forres during the winter of 1962.
All three were committed to doing ‘God’s Will’.
Dorothy was so in-tune with nature that she was able to communicate with
botanic species via the medium of flower fairies, which she perceived whilst in
an altered state of consciousness. Eileen would spend hours channelling
practical guidance from ‘God’, carefully writing down what she learned.
Peter in complete blind faith followed the guidance of his two companions and
created first a magnificent garden, and later the community of spiritually
the philosopher Ken Wilbur has suggested that the manifest world is built of
perspectives rather than perceptions. He writes:
person” perspective means the perspective of the person speaking—I,
singular, or we, plural. “Second person” means the person spoken to—you or
thou. “Third person” means the person or thing spoken of—he, she, they,
them, it, its.[xv]
similar idea obtains in New Code NLP.[xvi]
make an ecologically valid understanding from which to take action in the world,
it is necessary to access three perceptual positions. These are ~ First
position: being associated in my
own body and feelings; Second position ~ associating with the perceptions of a
second person, group, family, community or any other living system; Third
position ~ watching the actions of the first and second positions from a
comfortable observing location.[xvii]
In a remarkable way the trinity at Findhorn mirrored this philosophy,
Peter the first person, doer, speaker or creator; Dorothy the second person,
garden, the spoken to ~ the holy creation; Eileen the third person, the one
spoken of, unseen, unmanifest the – he, she, they, them, it, its.
No wonder they were so successful.
Like Wallace Wattles, and others the founders of Findhorn do not claim to
have created the community from miracles, but from following natural laws.[xviii]
According to Findhorn’s natural laws you must:
Develop your will, so that you can do anything that you wish.
Then you must surrender that will to God, and only manifest God’s will.
2. Develop the discipline to always act on messages received in
meditation, or intuitively such as inner voices or urges, even when these make
no logical sense.
3. Develop the faith to know that all your needs are met perfectly.
If you have bills, then have the confidence to total them up absolutely and ask
God for the funds.
4. To persist in faith, even when initially it seems that a prayer
has not been answered.
5. When asking for something to be precise. If you require a
greenhouse, state the exact dimensions, the type of frame etc.
6. If a member of a group, then ensure that every member is
attempting to manifest exactly the same item.
7. Always express gratitude both when releasing your prayer as an
act of faith, and also when the prayer is answered.
8. Ask once only, for if you keep praying then you put into
operation reverse laws. To continuously pray for something establishes that you
lack the faith that it is on its way.
And then the laws of manifestation were upgraded by David Spangler.
On 9th June, 1971 the apparent differences between Joe
Karbo’s ‘Dyna/Psych©’ with its repetitive affirmations and
Findhorn’s ‘Laws of Manifestation’ with its simple injunction to ask once
in faith, were resolved.
The original ‘Laws of Manifestation’ as practiced by Dorothy, Eileen
and Peter were intended to establish the Community in the midst of a dense,
confusing, and limiting environment. Once the Community was established the
‘New Laws’ were appropriate.
“The same is true for the process of affirmation and the placing into the subconscious mind of occult suggestions through repetition. This is a method suited to dealing with consciousness, which must function in relationship with the old world while under constant turmoil and bombardment of other suggestions of a negative nature, and which need to affirm, and repeatedly affirm, their own identity and at-oneness with God”. [xix]
So the repeating of affirmations proposed by Gawain, Hill, Karbo and
Wattles constitute the means to develop free thought independent of social
conditioning, and to achieve what you wish.
This is the equivalent of achieving the prerequisite of Findhorn’s
original ‘Laws of Manifestation’. But dear reader, what you wish may not be
that which ultimately will prove fulfilling, or wise.
The point is well illustrated in a modern day film version of Faust, starring Liz Hurley as the Devil. ‘Bedazzled’ is about a socially inept young man played by Brendan Frazer who is madly in love with a co-worker (Frances O’Connor). Frazer’s character makes a deal with the Devil specifying the lifestyles he believes would win over his colleague. The familiar attributes, money, power, intellect, athletic prowess and poetic innocence all feature as part of the wishes of the hapless hero. But in each incarnation something goes awry. The wealthy powerful man proves to be a Columbian drug dealer with a price on his head; the intellectual is homosexual and incapable of consummating his relationship with the heroine, the athlete has insignificant private parts, and bullies push around the innocent poet, finally stealing the girl.[xx]
Released by God’s intervention from his Devil’s pact at the film’s
conclusion, the hero goes home and instantly forms a perfect relationship with
his new next-door neighbour.
How can I know what is best for others, or me? And when I choose to give
up the struggle to remain consciously in control something remarkable happens,
life is recognised as it is, and is it not wonderful even when visited by
tragedy or death?
When the struggle is over you are changed, but you find life unchanged.
It is to be found in the present moment, where you first lost it. And it is like
a black box. The complexity of its
workings can never be completely witnessed by any single individual, but it
invariably produces ‘miracles’ when individuals follow its instructions.
And only then is it possible to know for sure that all needs are being drawn forth more perfectly than Joe Karbo would ever have imagined. ;-))
Æ A notable exception to this formula are the so called ‘New Code Games’, developed by Dr. John Grinder the co-founder of NLP and that are described in the book: Whispering in the Wind, which is reviewed elsewhere in this issue.
J. (1986) How to manage your life. In Karbo J. in:
The Lazy Man’s Way To Riches. Chipenham: Success Classics
Chopra D. (1993) Creating Affluence: Wealth Consciousness in the Field of
All Possibilities. London: New World Library
Wattles W. (2002) The
Science of Getting Rich. Iceni Books. (originally published 1910)
Marden O. (1996) (1910) The Miracle of Right Thought. Sun Publishing
Company. (originally published 1910)
Wattles W. op. cit.
Sinclair J. and Bray S. (1998) An ABC of NLP. London ASPEN
Bray S. (1998) http://www.quietquality.com/How to Achieve Your Goals.pdf
Hill N. (1928) The Law of Success in 16 Lessons. Meriden: Ralston
Allen J. (1977) As A Man Thinketh. DeVorss
Gawain S. (1978) Creative Visualization. Mill Valley: Whatever
Solomon P. (1979) Paul Solomon on Precipitation: in One Earth. Vol. 1
No 7. Forres: Findhorn Foundation
Findhorn Community (1975) The Findhorn Garden. London: Wildwood House
Wilbur K. (Forthcoming) Cosmic Karma and Creativity.Boston: Shamhala
Delozier J. and Grinder J. (1987) Turtles All The Way Down. Bonny
Doon:Grinder, DeLozier and Associates.
Sinclair and Bray op. cit.
Spangler D. (1975) The Laws of Manifestation. Forres: Findhorn
terms: ‘The Lazy Man’s Way To Riches” and “Dyna/Psych”
are copyright 1973-2003 Lazy Man Publishing Company