This question comes up again and again. We ask our holy men, our gurus, our religious leaders; we search the holy scriptures of all faiths, and search our own souls in prayer for the answer. Any answer we may find is always the wrong answer though, because we are asking the wrong question.

The question itself has no validity because it comes directly from several false but powerful beliefs. One: That God alone determines the outcome of our lives. Two: That God judges us as “good” or “bad” people, and Three: That God should punish the bad people and reward the good people with extra special gifts and blessings. The truth is, God has given every one of us dominion over our lives, free choice and action, unlimited possibility, and the power to choose and create our lives and our world.

When we blame God, or place the responsibility for our “good fortune” or “misfortune” on God, we are really re-creating God in our own image. Instead of perceiving a God who thinks and acts as a loving God would, we have cast our own thoughts, fears, and habits onto God. And so we picture God as being like us, acting like us, with all our human faults, limitations, emotions, and prejudices.

But this picture of God is not the truth. What God is, though beyond our limited human capacity to fully understand, certainly is not like that. The God of our universe is loving, protecting, and generous. Neither God nor Life "punishes" us. What happens in our lives is simply the direct consequence of our own choices and actions, whether they were conscious ones, or unaware. What happens on earth comes about through our own free choices, beliefs, "mistakes" and the actions we ourselves choose for our soul's learning and growing.

If we learn from our mistake, it is not a mistake; it is a successful learning experience. If we do not learn, the lesson comes up again. And again. And again. Because that is why our soul came here - to learn through human experiences. The process is much more complex than this simple statement, but that is the essential truth of it.

God does not “let bad things happen.” God simply lets ALL things happen. S/He has given us free will and individual consciousness. Even if we don’t want it and we deny having it, it’s still there and fully functioning. God has given every one of us, as our birthright, the power to create and manifest our own lives, and collectively to create and manifest the life of our planet, and beyond. This is how the universe works. The life of the universe is not operated by cogs and levers and wheels, like some immense machine. The universe is operated by Mind and Spirit, by a great consciousness we have come to call “God” and other names, and we are a part of that consciousness. It is fully present and active in each one of us.

We may not know this, or we have forgotten, or we are living in denial of this truth: That we ourselves are an active, powerful working-part of that Great Consciousness, and through it we are always creating and shaping the world we experience.

Jesus told us that God created us in His own image. This is true. God created humanity with great power of mind and spirit, which most of us are only recently (in the last hundred years) beginning to understand. This aspect of “divinity in everyone” though thousands of years old, is still not widely understood. But as we begin to understand, we begin to clearly recognize examples of it in the sacred writings of virtually all of the world’s great religions.

There is a God/ Source/ Force/ Spirit/ Great Mind/ Cosmic Consciousness that loves, protects, nurtures, informs and communicates with each of us at all times. Each one of us is equally “good” and equally important - precious in fact, to God. We are given what we ask for; we find what we seek; the door where we knock is opened to us. The key to having and living what we truly want, is becoming aware of what we are seeking and asking for - becoming a conscious, responsible, participant in our lives.

Our thoughts are prayers, and the universe hears every thought. What you hold in mind will always manifest in your life and in your world. That includes everything - fear, hatred, joy, abundance, poverty, sickness, love, beauty.

What we give attention to, grows. What we refuse attention to, weakens and fades and withdraws from our experience. Whatever we think about, either positively or negatively, we are attracting into our lives. That is simply a law of the universe. It works whether we believe it or not, and whether we are consciously aware of it or not. We are constantly using this law in the creation of our experiences, from day to day, minute to minute.

WHAT IS in our thoughts? as people of this planet? A great deal of fear, a great deal of mistrust and hatred. A great deal of greed and selfishness (there is more than enough, an abundance of everything, to feed and clothe and shelter all the people of the planet, if we would just spread it around) and a great lack of compassion.

What is held in the mass consciousness must manifest in the world in ways that affect us all, such as hurricanes and floods, earthquakes and volcanoes, famines and wars, diseases and car crashes. The more we entertain violent thoughts and imaginings, even if we do not commit violent crimes ourselves, the more we invite violence and tragedy into our lives and our world.

And what are we programming on our hundreds of TV channels? Mostly crimes, violence, brutality, out of control emotion everywhere, insanely destructive car-crashes (even in the car commercials, which assure us this is natural and okay as long as we buy the right new car). The trend in TV, movies, and other entertainment media is to depict the most horrific, bloody, deranged and psychopathological kinds of murders, that a normal mind cannot even imagine (until the TV shows teach them how). We “the public” control this market, by what we watch. That tells the producers what we want, and the result is exactly what we get.

This is what we have chosen for entertainment. This is what we are giving (or allowing) our children to play with, in their toys and video games, and this is how they learn what life is supposed to be like. And yet we are shocked and surprised when children kill other children, or their parents, or strangers, for trivial or unknown reasons. What else could we expect? If we choose to keep on letting our thoughts be constantly confronted with horror, it gets into our minds, either consciously or unconsciously. And these thoughts are what the universe responds to. What else can we expect life and the universe to deliver? We get what we ask for. That is simply the way it works. Are you asking for what you really want? Or are you simply, unconsciously letting whatever happens, happen?

It won’t help to blame God for it, or other people, or the government, or Mother Nature. We did it, and we are doing it, and whatever happens next will be our choice and our doing too. We are not helpless. We have great power, each one of us. Would you be willing to go on a "violence-diet?" Just change your intake, change your thinking, and see how quickly your life starts changing to reflect it.

What we have not realized, and must begin to realize, is that our thoughts and beliefs are actually more powerful than our actions, because it is thought, belief, and emotion that drive all our actions, and influence the actions of nature on earth. Our thoughts are more powerful than we can yet understand.

We are not Victims of Life or fate or luck. Not one of us. God does not “let bad things happen.” God lets all things happen, just as we choose. As we ask, we receive, even if we did not realize we were asking. Realize now. We can change our world profoundly by changing the thoughts we choose and give harbor to in our minds and in our everyday lives.

We have been called the Children of God. Just as every child must grow and learn and eventually become a responsible adult, this is true of Spirit too, and Spirit is the real core and the greatest power of our Being. The biggest challenge of our world today is one that contains within it all the rest: It is time for us, each one of us, to take responsibility for what we are holding in our hearts and minds, and so creating in our lives and our world, and now venturing out to create in our universe.

this Month's New Thought Essay, Poetry, and Blog. Darkhorse Press New Poets