Albert Einstein once said that every one of us is forced to ask and answer a single question: Is the universe a friendly place?  The answer you give determines to a great extent the quality of your life and, indeed, the shape of your destiny.  Why?  Because if you believe that the universe is an unfriendly place, than life – or what you may conceive of as God — is opposed to you, which means that you must struggle for everything you get in life, and in the end you will fail because God cannot be overcome or defeated. 

But if you believe that the universe is a friendly place, than you believe that life is supporting you – indeed, that you are loved — and that your efforts will eventually be rewarded.  If God loves you and is with you than who or what can oppose you?  Eventually you will be victorious. 

I have seen Einstein’s premise turn out to be true again and again in my own life.  If I believe that I will fail at some endeavor, I usually avoid the challenge entirely.  If I do engage the challenge, my effort is usually weak and half-hearted, which almost always guarantees failure.  But if I believe I will succeed, I commit all my efforts to the task at hand, knowing in some deep place in my being that I will be rewarded with success.  I need only keep showing up and doing my best.   Right now, our world is covered over in the darkness of our collective belief that our challenges, both personal and social, will not be solved.  Whether it is your personal search for love and happiness, or our society’s efforts at healing our political and planetary travails, all too many of us believe we will fail.  Moreover, most of us believe that that failure will end in personal and planetary tragedy. 

Many of us today talk about spiritual evolution and pride ourselves on being spiritually evolved human beings.  Others wonder what the words “spiritual evolution” even mean.  I have wondered a lot about those words myself.  And here is what I have decided: Spiritual evolution means transforming your mind so that you no longer feel, think, and act from the story of No, and instead feel, think, and act from the story of Yes. 

Which Story Are You Living?

The story of No is essentially the story of fear.  Usually, the story of No runs like a computer program just below consciousness.  You’re not aware of its presence (and its power over you) until you really need something to go right.  The more you need something, the greater your fear and doubt, because the story of No is telling you that things won’t go as you hope they will. 

The story of No is the reason so few people live their dreams.  The story of No tells you to protect your heart, and your tender ambitions, because if you put your heart on the line, and you give all that you have to your dreams, you will fail, and that failure will be devastating.  Therefore, play it safe.  Go for the security.  To most of us, that means chase the money, which really means spend your life on smaller goals.   

The story of No does not confine itself to your ambitions, of course.  It affects the degree to which we are willing to love, which is the greatest risk of all.  The stronger the story of No is in your life, the more you withhold your heart, and the more your relationships are defined by self-protection and fear. 

Understandably, the story of No tends to leave us isolated, afraid, and angry, because it almost guarantees that we will not fulfill our ambitions, nor will we experience the kind of love that we long for.

The Antidote To Self-Created Fears

The story of Yes is essentially the story of love. 

It is based on the belief (indeed, the growing knowledge) that you are loved by your Source and that you are constantly being assisted in your efforts to achieve happiness, fulfillment, and love.  Yes, you will have to adapt to changing circumstances, and yes, you will have to learn new ways of doing things in the process of creating your dreams, but you will succeed, because you are being assisted by a “friendly universe.” 

The story of Yes is telling you that no matter what challenge you face, there is a solution, that somewhere a door will open, and behind it lies an answer.  Your job is to keep opening doors. 

The price of the story of Yes is simple: You must give your heart, and your sincere effort, to whatever it is you seek to achieve, always believing that you will triumph in the end. 

The story of Yes is based on the knowledge that your goals, ambitions, and dreams are inherently good, and that ultimately they can be harmonized with a higher good, as long as you pursue them with an open heart.  The story of Yes wants you to understand that you may start out wanting to achieve something for yourself – to own your own business, for example, or be a successful architect — but as you evolve, you will naturally grow toward an even greater ambition, which is to place your success in the service of others.  In the end, personal success is meaningless unless it serves the greater good.   The story of Yes is like a huge “V”, in which you may start out being preoccupied with yourself, but as you grow, the “V” opens wider and wider, so that your dream for personal peace leads ultimately to world peace. 

Those who achieve success, but do not place their success in the service of a greater good are actually living the story of No.  Fundamentally, they believe that the Universe is unfriendly and therefore they must protect themselves with the false security of money, fame, and power.  Unfortunately, the story of No inevitably leads to greed and selfishness, because no amount of riches can ever make us feel secure enough or fulfilled in our hearts.  And in the end, whatever riches we accumulate will ultimately mean nothing when we wake up from the dream of this lifetime. 

Contrast this with the story of Yes, which is based on the growing realization that the Universe wants to be discovered and known for what it is – the Source of unconditional love and the ultimate Source of all your needs, both temporal and spiritual. 

As a practical matter, no one achieves any success unless he or she lives and acts, at least to some extent, from the story of Yes.  The stronger the story of Yes, the greater the success and, ultimately, the greater the reunion with love. 

It’s important to realize that the two stories – No versus Yes – have dramatically different effects on your physical body and overall health.   The story of No activates the sympathetic nervous system, which triggers the release of stress hormones and waves of oxidation that lead to rapid aging and disease.   The story of Yes activates the parasympathetic nervous system and the vagus nerve, which together bring about electromagnetic, hormonal, and biochemical cascades that create feelings of well-being, optimism, safety, and healing.   

Ultimately, the story of No leads to failure, bitterness, and disease, in part because those who insist on the story of No will act in ways that fulfill the expectation of No.  Which means that the story of No eventually finds its way to tragedy.   The story of Yes leads ultimately to the Source, and the reconciliation between individuality and Oneness. 

The Source Of Yes

It’s easy to see that the story of No originates from the mind, or that aspect of mind that I call the Hungry Thief which constantly spews forth reasons for fear.  The Hungry Thief would have us believe that the Universe is unfriendly and, indeed, opposed to us.   Therefore, live small and play safe, because you are unworthy of love and nothing works out in the end. 

But if the story of No originates with the Hungry Thief, than the story of Yes must come from another faculty of the human spirit.  And indeed, that is precisely where it comes from – meaning it arises from our own unique and individual souls. 

In lectures and workshops, I routinely ask how many of the people present believe they have a soul.  Invariably, everyone’s hand goes up.  Yet, few of us are ever taught to cultivate a relationship with our souls, or even know if our souls can be of any help to us in life.  In fact, we are trained to believe that the soul is essentially the victim of our behaviors (the Catholic Church wants us to use the word “sin” here).  Others say that it is the repository of our karma.  The soul comes back to earthly existence in many different bodies and faces many different lessons, based on the life plan of the soul. 

But in essence, our relationship with our souls is considered a one-way street.  You can damage it with your behavior, or you can enrich it with your good acts, but you cannot reach it for any sort of meaningful dialogue.   And why should we even bother to enter into such a dialogue? we might ask.   Here’s a possible answer to that question.

Being In Relationship With Your Soul

It’s possible that the soul is an individual manifestation of Spirit, which is universal.  We all come from the same Source and share the same Spirit.  There is no individual Spirit – there is only a oneness that is beyond individuality, ego, mind, and Hungry Thief.  Out of the one Source come many souls, each of which never leaves Spirit, but nonetheless experiences individuality for a time. 

It’s possible that the Soul, as an individual manifestation of Spirit.  If that’s the case, your soul lives in the boundless sea of unconditional love and limitless joy, power, and possibility that is the nature of the Source.  If any of this is even remotely true, than your soul is a kind of conduit between your individual life and the unconditional love and limitless power of the Source.

To create a useful metaphor, think of your individuality as a lake and the Source as an infinite ocean.  Connecting the lake and the ocean is a magical river, filled with the same qualities as the Oceanic Source – infinite love, joy, wisdom, energy, and life.  The river is your soul.  For most of us, a dam lies between the lake and the river, limiting the flow to a trickle.  Every so often, especially when we desperately need help, we manage to open the dam a little bit, which allows the soul to penetrate the lake of our individuality.  At these moments, we drink from the river of the soul and suddenly we find ourselves meeting important people who contribute something essential to our lives, or we encounter synchronistic events that change our lives forever. 

It’s possible that the Source is always there, flowing through the soul, and offering us all that we need to be happy and fulfilled. 

The problem is the dam – which, to identify it more clearly, is the Hungry Thief, which is the author of the story of No. 

The Hungry Thief would have us believe that there is no Source and no soul, and if such things are possible, they have no relevance to our lives.  The dam succeeds in convincing us because the story of No is relentless and, for many, intellectually convincing. 

Opening The Dam To The Story Of Yes

There are many practical ways to cultivate the story of Yes.  (My program, Living From the Soul is a four-day exploration of the soul and its nature, along with the practical guidance for developing a new and ever-growing relationship with the soul.  See and for more information on these programs.) 

Paths of wisdom and religion teach methods for prayer and meditation, which are essential, if done properly.   By “properly” I mean done with the recognition that the Source and the soul do not condemn or blame or respond with anger to anything.  Such thoughts of punishment and revenge are the voice of the Hungry Thief.  The soul is of the Source, which possesses infinite understanding, compassion, love, and endless possibilities.

In my programs, I provide a program for developing a relationship with the soul.  But for now, let’s consider two simple methods for cultivating that relationship.  The first is to grow your ability for deep listening and, the second, to learn to listen to the voice of Yes

Deep Listening

Most of us, I suspect, speak mostly off the top of our heads, meaning we speak spontaneously, without much of a connection to what we really feel.   We think of this as an innocent act, one that is essentially unavoidable.  But I have seen deeper motivations in this seemingly innocuous habit. 

Most of what we say, I have witnessed, is an effort to create safety with the person to whom we are speaking.   We are so gifted with intuition that, in an instant, we can ascertain what another person wants to hear and then feed it to him or her in one form or another.  In other words, most of what we say is intended to help us get through an interaction safely – meaning, without having to offend another, or to suffer any significant humiliation, or to create conflict. 

This, in fact, is being in relationship with the Hungry Thief, which informs us that every interaction poses a threat to our well-being, our identity, our ego.   Therefore, safety and security in relationship are the top priorities. 

But let’s imagine that there is a way of being in touch with your inner life, indeed with your soul, that allows you to pause before speaking and listen to the urges and impulses emanating from the River inside of you.  In effect, you can speak from the River, and in the process dissolve your personality, ego, and Hungry Thief. 

To do this, we must understand that soul wants to interact continually with your world.  Personality, ego, mind, Hungry Thief – none of these can exist in the presence of Spirit or soul.  It’s as if the Light were suddenly turned on and instantaneously cast these shadows into the void.

But in the instant that you prepare to speak, you have a choice – either speak off the top of your head, which in effect means to speak from your personality, ego, Hungry Thief, and fear.  Or pause, empty, and open yourself.  In other words, don’t think.  Don’t react.  Just wait in the openness of the moment and allow your soul to inform you of what to say. 

This is not as difficult as you might think, largely because your soul wants to guide you in every word and action.  By pausing and waiting for the rising impulse of your soul – which is experienced as a sudden fullness in your mind and an inner knowing that the words are now available – you are allowing something deeper within you to speak through you.  With practice, it quickly becomes a habit. 

All too often, when we speak off the top of our heads, we betray ourselves, because we are compelled to speak and act from the urgency of fear and a desperate need for safety.  These feelings may be unconscious.  But think about how many times you have said yes to something you wish you hadn’t, or said no to something that you wish you had embraced.  The Hungry Thief robs you of the time to wait for an answer that would emerge from a deeper place inside of you.  That deeper resource is your soul, which would never betray you, or lead you into situations in which your needs would go unfulfilled. 

Listening To Yes

All of us are blessed with an inner voice, which provides love and support, when we allow it.   That flow of love inside of you is the voice of Yes.  And unbeknownst to most of us, it is the voice of your soul.  It’s true that it starts out as our own voice, encouraging us to keep going and keep believing.   It is the positive voice, as opposed to the voice of the Hungry Thief, which would discourage us, even when things are going well.   “Yes,” the Hungry Thief says, “that may have worked out for you, but the next thing won’t.” 

The voice of Yes says, “Take notice:  That challenge was solved, as all challenges are solved – by allowing us to co-create your life with you.  It is our intention that your most precious dreams be fulfilled, that you experience happiness and joy, and that you become the person you long to be.”

The voice of Yes offers constant assurances of its tender and unconditional love and support.   “Don’t be afraid, we are with you,” says the voice of Yes.  “You’re doing well.  We are proud of all that you have become.   Every problem you face, we are solving.  Just follow the path we have laid before you and you will be led to your answers.  You are safe and we are with you in love.” 

No one is to blame for having the voice of No in his or her head.  We have all been trained by parents, teachers, co-workers, and friends to interpret every event in our lives through the story of No.  That training has been so thorough that we hardly can see its effects in our lives.  We only become aware of it when we are sick of our fears and our anger, and all the negative outcomes that they create.  At that point, people begin to open to another story and another voice –the story and the voice of Yes, which is the story and the voice of love. 

The more we practice cultivating and listening to the voice of yes, the more powerful it becomes in our lives.          

A good time to practice the voice of Yes is when you are lying in bed at night just before falling to sleep.  At that moment, the dam is weaker, largely because we feel safe.  Whenever there is safety, the Hungry Thief’s hold on us is weaker and its voice falls silent. 

At that moment, just become quiet and still.  See if you can feel a rising energy inside your solar plexus and streaming to your heart.  Gently give voice to that sensation and allow yourself to feel the words of love and support flowing into your mind. 

The River runs through us and into life.  It flows with love, power, and creativity.  Its waters sing and play in a state of joy.  And its favorite word is yes.