We offer useful tools to become a better person, connect with God and develop spiritual skills that bring more love and goodness to yourself and the world. Each logo below goes to a site that will offer excercises, teachings or activities that you, your friends and your relatives can use for free. To help make these sites a reality, donate here. To be notified when new sites launch and other news, click here. We only send a few emails per year and you can easily unsubscribe anytime. Scroll down to learn more.
Practical tools for spiritual living
Connecting with God
Opportunities and resources for groups
Grow in God and raise money for good
* You believe in God and want to connect with God and reap the benefits
* You’ve had spiritual experiences and want to experience God more consistently and fully
* You are agnostic and want to explore whether God exists
* You are atheistic and want to experiment and see if your current belief is correct or not
If you are like most people, you probably had only a few or zero experiences of God when you were young. There are five important reasons for this, most of which affect most people:
1) The part of the brain that allows people to experience God is only 50% formed at the age of 18 and is not fully formed until your late 20s. Scientists have put monks in deep states of prayer and meditation under MRIs, and can see the part of the brain that lights up. This is a section of the pre-frontal cortex, the most advanced part of the brain. This is like the wifi router for connecting to God. Even by 18, people only have a half-baked router that makes it hard to get a connection.
2) From birth until the late teens, humans go through stages of psychological and social development in which their minds are mostly focused on major aspects of development. For example, during the “terrible twos,” infants learn they can affect their environment, and develop a sense of power and agency to affect things. To the chagrin of parents, it takes most infants a year or two to learn how to not mis-use this personal power and refrain from destroying things and hurting others. In a much later stage, healthy children learn to perform tasks and be useful parts of groups, a stage parents usually like. Another example of a stage is adolescence when teenagers tend to become more independent, feel that they’re not understood and push back against parents. Just making it through these stages takes a big amount of our attention and energy. It tends to crowd out spirituality.
3) The physical development process produces body chemicals that tend to push the mind away from spirituality. For example, children have strong cravings for sugar, and get a high from it. Teenagers have a plethora of hormones pumping through them that create lots of interference to the fledgling divine wifi router starting to develop in them. Scientists have found teenagers have high levels of chemicals that make them want to take risks. In our culture, this often results in alcohol, drug use and/or casual sex, which create static that blocks their ability to have any sense or experience of God.
4) During most stages, negative things occur that we push down and bury in our unconscious because they’re too much for us to handle. A close friend betrays us. Someone bullies us. A significant other dumps us. We do something really embarrassing. A coach or a teacher verbally rips us. We witness violence. A sibling or parent does or says something we can’t handle. And so forth. It’s hard enough to process such things as adults. We want to ignore them and push them away. But it’s far harder when children are still trying to work their way through the stages plus have not yet developed the mental and emotional resources to process and cope with things. At any rate, the memories and feelings that get buried into our unconscious mean much less bandwidth is available for experience of and connection with God.
Many people in their 20s and 30s process and come to terms with some of the memories and feelings, which increases their bandwidth. This can occur through a range of things such as having a lot of quiet time in nature, being in therapy or raising your own children and being forced to remember and process some of their past experiences. This is akin to clearing the cache and deleting the history and cookies on your computer. Your internal software for divinity is helped. In the meantime, your “hardware” for God connection has come fully into place by age 30. Likewise, you’ve already come through the developmental stages, and your levels of sex and risk-taking hormones have usually moderated. So you’re actually far more able to have God experiences and connection than you’ve ever been.
However, when you were young and tried praying, or you tried going to a church, synagogue or similar, you probably didn’t have experiences of God. If you did, it was probably before the heavy hormones and risk-taking chemicals of puberty kicked in. After several years of those, you probably either forgot about the spiritual experiences or figured they were illusions. As a result, you may have incorrectly concluded that either: A) God probably doesn’t exist and it’s mumbo jumbo. B) God likely exists, but people can’t experience God. After all, if you did something a few times and didn’t experience anything, it must not work. That’s a normal, initial assumption. But we encourage you to be open-minded, and to deeply consider the many factors above. Now that you’ve got a large wifi router and hopefully have cleared up your software somewhat, we encourage you to give God a real try.
What is a real try?
Only you can really decide. But consider that if a good friend of yours was unsure whether a career field was right for them, you’d probably suggest the person work in the field for a few months to find out. Or if a friend thought going to college might be a good thing, you’d probably suggest they try it for a few months. When some people arrive at college, they don’t like it at first because they miss their friends or family, they don’t want to start making new friends from scratch, they don’t like how large college is compared to their high school, or other reasons. But they usually end up liking it or loving it. This is a metaphor. We’re not suggesting spending 4 months full-time exploring spirituality. But we are suggesting that the equivalent of 4 months spread out over a few years or more is roughly giving it a real try. Given the benefits you may get, it would not be wise to spend only a few weeks and give up.
Consider also that experiencing, connecting with and benefitting from the highly creative, loving super-intelligence that generated our incredibly gigantic universe is a far bigger thing than college. It could change you and benefit you for eternity. Compared to eternity, your short eighty years on earth is akin to listening to only twenty seconds out of all the music on Spotify. Eternity is like Spotify with 100 million songs that would take 350 million minutes to listen to. In the grand scheme of things, our time as humans is super short. Most of your music will take place after you die. So we encourage you to put more focus there, where a strong connection to God is super important.
If you’re between 20 and 45, it’s likely that 1/4 to 1/2 of your “twenty seconds” on earth is already over. You might want to spend a fair amount of the other 1/2 or 3/4 exploring and doing things that will make the rest of your music catalog more enjoyable. When your last breath takes place, you won’t be able to take any possessions, money or anything else with you. But you will be able to take spiritual qualities and a connection with God with you.
Human brains tend to not consider the long-term, and focus only on the very short-term.
The good thing is that spiritual skills and practices have short-term benefits that can help you this year and every year for the rest of your life. After people experience some of them, their minds are usually more open to the long-term benefits. After some experiences of the timeless, expansive love, peace and joy of God, your mind is usually more open to and intuitively aware of the eternal.
If you believe in God and you go to a religious service weekly, but spirituality is not a significant part of your daily life, you’re likely also missing out on what you could be receiving. You might use our websites to help take your spiritual life to the next level and reap the benefits.
Below are some thoughts on God. These are far, far less important than you exploring and putting time into developing and deepening a connection with God. These thoughts might offer some useful perspectives. But if not, and even if you intellectually disagree with any of them, that’s alright. What matters is that you develop spiritual skills, habits and practices that bring you closer and closer to God, and result in more love and goodness in the world for yourself and all people.
What God is not … and what is knowable and not knowable
To be clear, we aren’t suggesting that God is an old man in the clouds. Relatively few people who believe in God think this is who God is. Most Jews and Christians, and most non-religious people who believe in God, realize that God is independent of the physical universe and does not have a form related to the forms in our physical world. We can’t really know God in that way. One of the greatest Christian philosophers and theologians ever was Thomas Aquinas. After writing his monumental 3,000 page work “Summa Theologica,” one of the most important documents in the history of Christianity, he concluded that he had not yet begun to understand God.
Metaphorically, God’s consciousness and intelligence are to us as we are to an ant. An ant can’t possibly conceive of the kind of consciousness, abstract thinking, emotions and creativity that we humans have. Ants can’t even see a whole human, but rather only part of a foot or a finger. An ant in our yard or our kitchen can’t imagine that there are millions of other yards and rooms of every type possible, and whole cities and countries, and beyond that planets and galaxies. It would be impossible and futile for a human to even try to describe those things to an ant. And it’s likewise impossible for God to explain some things and dimensions that our minds can’t possibly grasp or imagine.
We can however know God’s qualities that are present in our universe such as love, beauty and creativity, and we can also connect with God. This is similar to how a dog can connect with the love of a human, even though a dog can’t possibly ever grasp the level of intelligence, abstract thought and creativity that humans are capable of. Though we tend to ascribe human characteristics to pets and we love our pets due to their wonderful qualities, their levels of intelligence, abstract thinking and creativity are tiny compared to ours. We are kind of like God to them. But they can still connect with our love and goodness, while not being able to fully grasp us or our worlds.
So to be clear, the major God-centered religions like Judaism and Christianity do not say that God is an old man in the sky. For example, the Catechism of the Catholic Church specifically states that “God is neither man nor woman: he is God”. In Christianity, God as father is a metaphor for a being that is loving, wise and strong with an approach that is simultaneously caring, helpful and no-nonsense. It’s true that many children and a small percentage of adults misunderstand the metaphor (and some old paintings of the metaphor) to mean God is an old man. But if you reject that, you are in agreement with Christianity and Judaism, and with most Christians and Jews.
You might consider viewing God as an opportunity with useful benefits to yourself, your family, your communities and the whole world, rather than only viewing God as an obligation. You might consider viewing God as a nourishing connection and a wise advisor rather than as only a set of rules. While God has expectations of how humans act, those expectations are in order to benefit us and everyone else.
God is like a great sports coach who shares the principles and approaches needed for an athlete to succeed in a sport and also bring the team success. God is also like a parent who nurtures a child with love and support, while also pushing the child to grow and improve.
God is also like a therapist listening to our anxieties, disappointments and anger, giving us room to explore and space to heal. God sometimes acts as an expert consultant helping us see what the best path forward is in our lives.
How to access the benefits
The benefits are really great things, but it is challenging to access them. One reason is many people never experience God, or have never been aware of God’s presence or influence. How can you fall in love with someone if you haven’t met or gone on a few dates with the person? You can’t. So some of what we do is help you to have first experiences of God and first “dates” with God.
Secondly, many people don’t have much information about the variety of habits and practices that can bring them closer to God and the benefits. So most of our websites include this type of information. We describe the reasons why the habits and practices help, and we describe how to do them.
Thirdly, many people don’t have much opportunity to practice these things and get good at them. A lot of learning comes by doing. A lot of mastery comes by doing something a number of times. So most of our websites and classes put an emphasis on trying the things and doing them.
Lastly, something that we don’t provide, but lots of other places do is that it really helps to be part of a spiritual/religious community such as a church or a synagogue. There are many ways this helps you get closer to God, some of which are described here. We encourage you to seek and try out a few communities, and do your best to discern which one you’re being called to. For tips on discernment, go here. Don’t worry about finding the perfect community. No communities are ever perfect. Also, many people end up in a community for the long-term that was not their first one or two communities. But they look back and realize they got some useful learnings and experiences from them.
The Sound of Silence
But wait – didn’t we forget the fifth reason why most people never experience God while they’re under 25? Here it is. God is usually experienced in silence, in verbal prayer or group worship. In modern times, our minds have been increasingly inundated with noise and our time increasingly occupied by distractions starting with omnipresent radios in the 1930s, TV in the 1950s, cable TV and video games in the 1980s, the Internet in the 90s, and wifi, smartphones and VR this century. These are great inventions and enrich our lives in many ways. But the quantity and frequency of them means a far lower chance of experiencing God. When your mind is occupied with those things, it generally can’t connect with God – unless you are already super advanced spiritually through lots of years of practice.
So while we’re definitely not recommending you give them up, we suggest you might cut back somewhat and give yourself more quiet time, and also more time that’s dedicated to connecting with God. We’ll leave you with an interesting story. One of the most ardent and famous atheists of all time was C.S. Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Narnia. In this 30s, he was an outspoken atheist, but lived in a time before radio when most people had large amounts of silence each week. In this silence, with his internal wifi hardware fully grown, and being well past the developmental stages of life, Lewis was for many weeks repeatedly sensing that God existed and that God’s presence was close by until he finally gave in and reluctantly believed. This is his eloquent description:
“You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words “compelle intrare,” compel them to come in, have been so abused be wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.”
Lewis went on to write some of the most popular children’s books of all-time. He also became one of the biggest advocates of God and faith in the 20th century. But Lewis had a huge advantage: huge amounts of silence. For most of us who are accustomed to often listening to or watching something, it might be impossible to move to anywhere near the level of silence that Lewis had. As a result, it’s even more important that we actively give God a try and put aside enough time for that. In other words, Lewis had the benefit of about 10 to 20 times more silence than most of us have now. So in order to reap the benefits of God connection, we need to be pro-active and put in some effort.
To help make these websites a reality, donate here. To be notified when new websites launch and other news, click here.