Our modern era is plagued by increasing alienation—we are seeing an “us against them” world. Everywhere we turn, we find ourselves divided from each other as never before across political, economic, social, and spiritual lines. As humanity is being torn apart right before our eyes—separating many of us from our friends and even our loved ones, from our hopes and dreams, from the natural world, and from so much that gives meaning and value to our lives—people are blaming everyone and everything around them for the collective problems that we have created ourselves. We are turning against each other, rather than to each other, just when we need each other the most.
Bestselling author of Conversations with God Neale Donald Walsch offers a radical solution to the growing problem of humanity’s alienation. He invites us to question our basic assumptions about ourselves, about each other, about life and how it works, and about God, and to rethink the very definition of humanity. The Essential Path challenges every human to make a Daring Decision—to look at who we are and how we can choose to be, in a planet-altering new way.
With insight and spiritual perceptivity, Walsch peers into the heart of a broken, divided society, prompting us to ask the critical questions that have the power to transform our world.
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We're one decision away from a solution to humanity's biggest problem.
This is a decision so powerful in its impact that it would solve not only our species' biggest collective problem, but the largest problem faced by every individual reading this right now.
But be warned. This decision may not be what it seems — and it definitely will not fall in line with what is most widely expected or most generally accepted.
That makes it a daring decision. Perhaps the most significant decision of your life. And don't think you didn't know that when you started reading here. You knew exactly what you were doing.
Nobody has to tell us that life on our planet is not what we had hoped it would be. All we have to do is take a look at what's happening every day around the world — and in some cases, in our own lives.
There are very few among us who have not found ourselves shaking our heads in discouraged dismay at the latest tweet or online news bulletin or newspaper headline. And sometimes — too many times, perhaps — at the challenges confronted in our home.
This leads to a compelling question: Is it possible — just possible — that there's something we don't fully understand about ourselves, about life, and about God, the understanding of which would change everything?
To me the answer is obvious. Is it to you?
If your answer is yes, you're invited to now undertake a very quick but deeply revealing explanation of everything — why things are the way they are on Earth today, when our biggest problem arose, what has blocked us from the obvious solution, and how we can dissolve the problem virtually overnight.
We begin with some additional compelling questions.CHAPTER 2
What if the most wonderful ideas you ever had about life were true?
What if the most wonderful ideas you ever had about yourself were true?
What if the most wonderful ideas you ever had about God were true?
What if the most wonderful ideas you ever had about what happens after you die were true?
What would then be true for you?
Do you think there would be any difference between how you might then experience life and how you now experience life?
Your answers to these questions are now setting the course and direction of your experience on Earth, did you know that?
Not to be overly dramatic about it, but it's true. They are determining the path you will take.
And humanity's collective answers to these questions are now creating the future of our species by determining the path we will all take.
Will it be the path that our species has taken for thousands of years — the one that got us here, where our lives and the world are today? Is this where we want to be? Is this our most wonderful idea about life? About ourselves? About God?
Ideas are important. It is ideas that create beliefs, beliefs that create behaviors, behaviors that create experience, and experience that creates reality. And if our most wonderful ideas become our beliefs, life on our planet will look much different than it does today.
Cognitive scientists tell us that all it takes is one in ten people to emphatically embrace an idea, and the mass will follow. What, then, could cause just one in ten people to believe that the most wonderful ideas we ever had are true?
A single decision.
We're one decision away.
But we must make that decision now. Not doing so is starting to have, on all of us, a very real effect.CHAPTER 3
Let's not dance around this. We have a big problem here. On Earth, I mean. And it's touching our lives every day. Individually and collectively.
There's no reason to move into a dark or depressed state over this, though, because the solution really is just one decision away. And it's not even a difficult decision to make. We just have to choose to make it.
Many people agree with the decision intuitively already. They simply haven't implemented it in their lives as a practical matter, probably because they're waiting to see if anyone else agrees. But the time for waiting is over.
The problem now confronting us is becoming pervasive. It's evidenced not only in the world's governments and the world's corporations and the world's social or religious institutions. It's affecting all of us. In individual homes all across the planet, we're feeling the effect.
So what's up? What's the problem? Let's lay it out in direct terms.
Humanity's biggest problem is that humanity doesn't know what humanity's biggest problem is.
We can see the effect of this problem all around us, but we don't seem to see the cause.
Now, you have a real problem when you know you have a problem, but don't understand what the problem is. You don't know what's causing the effect that you're observing every day. And humanity's confusion about this has gone on for so long that it's now created a condition. A condition that's threatening to become permanent.
Here's one way that it shows up: Perhaps more than ever in recent times, we're hearing folks say that if we do have a problem right now, it's only because of "those others" who are creating problems. We didn't have these problems before, these folks say, and we want to go back to the Good Old Days.
And just who, exactly, are those "others" to whom these folks are referring?
It's those unwanted immigrants, those unsatisfied minorities, those unhappy women, those right-wing radicals, those left-wing nut jobs, those unacceptable gays, those uninformed students, those dumb conservatives, those empty-headed liberals, those unmotivated government assistance recipients. It's those "others" who just keep making things difficult.
A well-known political strategist in the United States, Brad Todd, crystalized all of this in a tweet he posted in mid-2018: "Is the American Left willing to live with and among the American Right? Or are we at culture rupture?"
And the phenomenon is not limited to the United States, but is emerging all over the world. Newspaper columnist Paul Krugman put it this way in an opinion piece in the New York Times written at about the same time: "The real crisis is an upsurge in hatred — unreasoning hatred that bears no relationship to anything the victims have done."
I resonate with the urgency of Mr. Todd's questions and I concur with Mr. Krugman's observations. Suddenly it feels as if we live in a world of us vs. them. People around the globe are lining up on one side or the other, and the middle ground seems to be disappearing.
Not everyone may feel this way, but everyone can feel everyone who feels this way. So it's affecting all of us. Each day it's producing distressing headlines, angry blogs, name-calling speeches, childish rants in tweets, bullying diatribes, finger-pointing tirades, and violence-laden outbursts.
And while we may not know the underlying cause of the problem human society is now facing, the cumulative impact of that problem can be put into a single word.
We are seeing it more and more. It is an outgrowth of a very contentious and unhappy situation.CHAPTER 4
Alienation inevitably arises in the aftermath of ongoing citizen frustration. Citizen frustration inevitably arises in the aftermath of ongoing societal dysfunction. Societal dysfunction inevitably arises in the aftermath of ongoing systemic failure. And that's exactly what we've had here. Long- term, ongoing, systemic failure.
We've put into place on our planet a wide assortment of systems created to make life better for all of us. Those systems are not working. There are some rare exceptions, but in the main, most are failing to produce the outcomes they were intended to produce.
Wait. It's worse. They're actually producing the opposite.
Our political systems — created to produce safety and security for the world's nations and their people — have in the main produced far too much of exactly the opposite: ongoing disagreements, endless insulting and demonizing of opponents, dangerous trade wars, nerve-racking military threats, and escalating violence between people at every level.
Our economic systems — created to produce opportunity and sufficiency for all — have in the main produced far too much of exactly the opposite: massive economic inequality and increasing poverty, with a handful of people (actually fewer than ten) holding more wealth and resources than 3.5 billion (that's half the planet's population) combined.
Our social systems — created to advance and facilitate the joy of living in community and build a foundation for harmony among a divergent population — have in the main produced far too much of exactly the opposite: discordance, disparity, prejudice, and despair ... with limited opportunity for upward mobility and in far too many cases rampant injustice producing exasperation and outrage.
(Even our vaunted online Internet systems — created as the newest innovation of our social systems and originally designed to bring us closer together through the "marvel" of social media — have in the main produced far too much of exactly the opposite: a playing of one against another through the manipulation of emotions, a heightening of our differences, an exacerbation of our fears, and a poisoning of our minds with negativity, all of which has not brought us closer together, but driven us further apart.)
And saddest of all, our spiritual systems — created to inspire a greater love of God, and so, of each other — have in the main produced far too much of exactly the opposite: bitter righteousness, shocking intolerance, widespread anger, deep-seated hatred, and self-justified violence.
Now you may think that I have exaggerated the impact of all this. Things are better here on Earth now than ever before, right? Well, I suppose that's true for some, but do you know that on this day over 1.7 billion people will have no access to clean water? Do you know that 1.6 billion will live without electricity? Do you know that, difficult as it may be to believe, 2.5 billion people — over a quarter of this planet's population — will not have toilets to use in this, the first quarter of the 21 century?
These are more than simple inconveniences. The heath hazards caused by such conditions lead to thousands of unnecessary deaths each year. And speaking of unnecessary deaths, consider this statistic: More than 650 children die of starvation every hour on this planet.
Starvation? Really? While we throw away more food in restaurants from Toyko to Paris to Los Angeles each evening than would be needed to feed the children of an entire outlying Third World village for a week?
Even a quick overview of such numbers — even the most dispassionate glance — surely provides dismaying evidence of our absolute, complete, and utter failure to grasp (much less activate) the simplest and most basic answers to the simplest and most basic questions that members of any sentient species would (one would think) sooner or later have to ask: Who are we? Who do we choose to be as a species?
What gives here? What's going on with the human race that it cannot see itself even as it looks at itself? Where is humanity's blind spot? What is the reason for all this?CHAPTER 5
Sooner or later every thinking person comes around again to this question: Is it possible — just possible — that there is something we don't fully understand about ourselves, about life, and yes, about God ... the understanding of which would change everything?
It's time to ask that question everywhere. In the pews of our houses of worship, in the halls of our lawmaking bodies, in the boardrooms of our global corporations and the back rooms of our small businesses, in the town squares of our cities, in the dining rooms of our friends, and in the homes of our families.
I'm going to invite you to memorize that question and ask it wherever you go. Wherever good conversation and meaningful exchange and serious problem-solving is taking place, ask the question.
Then, as the question hangs in the air, explain why the answer is, obviously, yes.
We are a very young species. A lot of people like to think of humans as highly evolved. In fact, humanity has just emerged from its infancy on this planet. In their book New World New Mind, Robert Ornstein and Paul Ehrlich placed this in perspective in one mind-boggling paragraph:
"Suppose Earth's history were charted on a single year's calendar, with midnight January 1 representing the origin of the Earth and midnight December 31 the present. Then each day of Earth's 'year' would represent 12 million years of actual history. On that scale, the first form of life, a simple bacterium, would arise sometime in February. More complex life-forms, however, come much later; the first fishes appear around November 20. The dinosaurs arrive around December 10 and disappear on Christmas Day. The first of our ancestors recognizable as human would not show up until the afternoon of December 31. Homo sapiens — our species — would emerge at around 11:45 pm ... and all that has happened in recorded history would occur in the final minute of the year."
I consider that to be a brilliant piece of writing. In just 125 words these two gentlemen have turned a huge piece of information into bite-sized data that we can get our head around, then more easily understand why we are continuing to act the way we do, and have not yet, as a global species, made the Daring Decision.
Our youth as a species doesn't justify our actions, but it helps us to see the nature of the challenge. We simply have to grow up. We have to stop acting like children. And we have to do it now. Today. Not in ten or twenty years. Now. Right now.
We have to stop the saber rattling — the "my missile is bigger than yours" flexing of military muscles between nations that could easily lead, on a moment's notice, to the deaths of hundreds of thousands and the decimation of nations.
We have to stop the disaster-ignoring — the kind of "look the other way" apathy that results in those statistics of the billions suffering even today on our planet due to problems we could easily solve.
We have to stop the hypocrisy — the kind of "say one thing and do another" behavior that allows us to deliberately kill people under the authority of the State in order to teach people that deliberately killing people is not okay; that allows us to place our children in front of video games and television programs and movies that depict violence, violence, and more violence, even as we talk of raising a generation that we hope will not think of violence as a first resort in conflict resolution, and will, in fact, actually renounce it.
We have to stop the kind of "ignore what's good for us" habits that allow us to consume unhealthy food, habitually inhale carcinogens, and irresponsibly drink harmful amounts of brain-frying and liver-damaging liquids, all the while preaching wholesome living.
We have to stop archaic thinking — the kind of "stuck in yesteryear" approach to life that keeps us trapped in an ancient story of civilization that motivates each of us to seek first to meet our individual needs, each of us to serve our individual agenda, and each of us to cater to our individual desires, even if it means doing so at the expense of others who we see as not part of "us."
We have to stop, just stop, behaving the way we have been, and call forth from within us a New Way to be Human — a way that allows us to embrace singularity without creating separation, to express differences without producing divisions, and to experience contrasts without generating conflicts.
All of this is possible, but it will require us to do something very brave. We will have to go against the grain, to adopt a way of life that only a handful have embraced throughout human history. We have to ask, when we confront and witness our own behaviors, "What are we choosing?" and ... "Why are we choosing this?" Then we have to ask, "Why not choose God?" And we have to understand what we mean when we invite ourselves to choose God.
We have to be clear that the question we are asking is: Why not choose God to be experienced as a part of us, and as that of which all beings and all aspects of life are comprised?
The great irony is that the tiny handful who have taken this path, who have embraced this way of life, are the very humans we say we honor the most — even as we have declined to adopt their way of life ourselves. So what we honor in others we have dismissed as being irrelevant to ourselves.
Or perhaps it is relevant to ourselves, we say, but it is virtually impossible for us to experience. This, despite the fact that those humans who have done so have told us exactly how we may do so also.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Essential Path"
Copyright © 2019 Neale Donald Walsch.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of ContentsTable of Contents
1. The Proposition
2. The Questions
3. The Effect
4. The Situation
5. The Reason
6. The Attempts
7. The Beliefs
8. The Refusal
9. The Assumption
10. The Story
11. The Tradition
12. The Misunderstanding
13. The Instinct
14. The Challenge
15. The Choice
16. The Decision
17. The Majority
18. The Combination
19. The Curiosities
20. The Dare
21. The Guidance
22. The Ideas
23. The Changes
24. The Key
25. The Stepping Stone
26. The Different Way
27. The Experience
28. The Finale