Accessing Higher Forces, Part 1 of 3
by Barry Michels
Higher Forces are an important and often misunderstood part of The Tools. In this series of posts, I’ll use my life as a case study to illustrate what Higher Forces are, explain how they work, and help you learn to access them yourself. You don’t need to know about them to use and benefit from The Tools, but once you understand them, you can truly catapult your life to new places.
When I first met Phil, I didn’t believe that higher forces were real, let alone that I could rely on them for support. As I learned The Tools, I could tell that they worked—my patients were living proof. But as to how they worked, I didn’t believe Phil when he said they evoked higher forces; I didn’t even believe my patients when they attributed it to “something greater” than themselves. I figured that was their way of expressing how much better they felt.
MY INNER SKEPTIC WAS IN CHARGE
My skepticism came naturally—I was raised with it. “Faith” was my family’s f-word. And as the years passed, my views only hardened.
As a consequence, although I appreciated the tools and used them effectively, I knew I was missing something. The tools gave me a better way to function, and I was certainly grateful for that. But there were patients who experienced them in a way I was incapable of. When they used the tools in front of me, it was obvious they were connecting to something much bigger than themselves. Their faces radiated joy, contentment, and confidence at a level I’d never experienced.
To me, the universe still seemed indifferent; to them, it had become a source of ever-present help. It felt like they had broken through the sound barrier while I was limping, with great effort, on the ground below them.
This created a strange set of feelings in me. If The Tools were the course of study, my patients were getting higher marks than I was. This was one of the only times in my life I didn’t come out at the top of the class. Frankly, it felt unfair. They weren’t working any harder than I was; they just didn’t have to contend with an inner skeptic who attacked the idea of higher forces at every turn. While I urged them on, secretly I hoped to be able to feel the way they did.
My inner skeptic had other ideas. He attacked the tool (Active Love) that could help me with my weakest area: resentment. It didn’t matter what was happening in my life, I was always up in arms about something. I resented my kids when they woke me up at night, my wife for pushing me to accompany her to social events, my patients when they called me after hours, etc. As soon as one resentment faded, another took its place. I came to call it “resentment in search of a cause.”
When I used Active Love it helped, but mostly by giving me something to do every time I felt resentful. I never really felt a powerful love flowing through me. I knew it was there somewhere—I had felt it when my wife gave birth to each of my two children. But as deep as those feelings were, they weren’t the same thing as being able to summon up a more universal love that I could direct at anyone. To do that, the tool required me to believe that I was surrounded by pure, cosmic love. But the inner skeptic had long ago convinced me that that was a romantic fantasy: I was living in a mechanical universe and love was just a product of brain chemistry. Skepticism had effectively drained the life out of the tool.
I fought back in the only way I knew how—with pure, dogged persistence. I practiced the tool over and over again. I even set my watch to beep every hour as a cue to use the tool. I did this for months.
A POWERFUL DREAM SHAKES MY WORLD
Just as I was about to lose hope, my efforts paid off in a way I never could’ve imagined.
January 17, 1993 was my son’s first birthday. But before dawn, long before it was time to give him his gifts, I received a gift of my own—it was a dream I will never forget.
In the dream, it was the early morning and I was alone in my office. Suddenly, the whole building began to shake violently. It was a massive earthquake and I knew that in seconds I was going to die. Uncharacteristically calm, I thought to myself, “I should use Active Love one last time, so I can die with love in my heart.” But this time when I used the tool, I was flooded with a love greater than any I’d ever felt. I felt the tremendous force of that love expanding me from the inside, as if the sun were radiating from my heart.
Then the dream was over.
The dream stayed with me for weeks, resounding through my life. I felt more alive—the abundant love I’d felt in the dream flowed through me toward everyone, from the gas-station attendant to my wife and children. My patients felt it, commenting that I seemed even more enthusiastic than usual about their growth and that it was inspiring them to work harder on themselves.
I also began to look at the world differently. Everything around me seemed overflowing with life. I began to see more deeply into my patients’ dynamics, and I was able to make connections for them that I’d never been able to make. I even began to wonder if certain events in my life had been planned out ahead of time by a higher intelligence. Was I propelled to quit law not just because I hated it, but because I needed to open myself up to a whole new worldview? It no longer felt coincidental that I had met Phil right at the time I was disillusioned with the traditional approach to psychotherapy.
LOOKING FOR ANSWERS WHEN EVERYTHING COLLAPSES
I’d studied Jung carefully, and I knew he didn’t believe in coincidences. I appreciated the mystery and beauty of this view, but it had no more impact on my real life than a masterful painting hanging in a museum. The dream had changed this. Now, I could somehow feel a hidden connection between all the events in my life. This impression was so strong it even led me beyond Jung. It was as if the universe was guiding me in the direction of my own evolution.
My parents would have scoffed at such wild speculations, and it was deeply disturbing to find myself entertaining them. All of this love flowing through me certainly made it easier to use The Tools (it was like Active Love on steroids), but I also felt like I didn’t quite know myself. Why was I suddenly feeling these things? I hoped Phil had an answer.
“Am I in some kind of an altered state?” I asked him. “It feels a little like temporary insanity.”
“Absolutely not,” he answered firmly. “You’re saner than you’ve ever been.”
“How can you call it sanity when I’m having all these crazy ideas?”
“Maybe the ideas aren’t crazy,” he suggested with a flash of irritation. “Maybe what’s crazy would be returning to the way you were living before the dream.”
He had a point. I felt really alive now. My former life seemed pale in comparison. “I wouldn’t want to return to that,” I answered slowly, “but you’re asking me to change everything I believe just because of a dream.”
Phil seemed disappointed for a moment. But then all tension drained from his body and he seemed to shut out everything except me. His eyes radiated understanding. It wasn’t until later that I realized he was using Active Love. “I don’t want to talk you into anything,” he said. “Life will do that in its own way.”
I left the conversation feeling I was on the edge of a mystery I didn’t understand. But before I could make sense of it, all the new feelings faded. I found myself back in my familiar, mechanistic grind. If I thought about that period at all, it was with embarrassment; my rational mind, back in control, discounted the whole experience as a miniature midlife crisis—without the sports car. But secretly, I missed the sense of aliveness that the mystery had brought me; eventually, that went away, too. I even forgot the dream that had kickstarted the whole thing.
That’s when the unimaginable occurred.
On January 17, 1994, exactly one year to the day after the dream, the costliest earthquake in U.S. history struck Los Angeles in the early hours before dawn. The building that housed my office collapsed. Everything in it was pulverized.
The earthquake destroyed my office, but that was the least of the damage. It also destroyed my belief system.