Accessing Higher Forces, Part 3 of 3


by Barry Michels

In the previous two blog posts on higher forces, I detailed how some powerful events in my life began to crack the shell of my inner skeptic (Part 1) and how Phil shared with me his “spiritual system” that explains how to access higher forces (Part 2).

All of this sounded great, but none of it silenced the objections screaming in my head. I tried to voice them but Phil would listen only for so long. He wanted me to work inside the system, not debate its validity, so he ordered me to identify a problem, choose a tool and (his words), “shut up and use the tool” every time I experienced the problem.


At the time, the problem I identified had to do with my best friend, Steve. Secretly I’d always felt insecure around him. I was smart, but he was beyond smart. He excelled at everything—from gymnastics to the history of Afghanistan. When we were fourteen years old, he mesmerized a crowd of adult theatergoers at the intermission of King Richard III with an impromptu lecture on Tudor England and Shakespeare’s motivation for turning the king into a despicable hunchback.

While I was raised by parents who believed in science, he was raised by parents who were scientists. He himself became a world-class theoretical physicist. Steve dismissed anything that wasn’t explainable in terms of observable, physical phenomena. When I said I could feel Jimi Hendrix’s soul coming through his guitar, he corrected me, explaining that all sound—including music—was nothing more than “mechanical vibrations transmitted through the air.”

We loved each other like brothers, but the more I absorbed these new, spiritual ideas, the more afraid I was that, if I dared voice them, he’d incisively destroy them. So when he called and said he wanted to have lunch to find out more about my work, I had a completely inappropriate reaction. I found myself in an endless loop of imaginary arguments with him about science versus spirituality. Steve was a brilliant, daunting adversary who—in my mind—crushed me every time. I completely lost sight of the real brotherhood between us; the more I obsessed, the more I resented him.

I knew my reaction was ridiculous; I hated myself for turning my best friend into a threatening rival. But nothing helped. No matter how many patients I’d seen go through this, I was lost in the Maze and I couldn’t find a way out.

I explained my worst fear to Phil: “I’m going to feel like a complete idiot.”

“Steve may be brilliant, but he’s only human,” Phil replied reasonably.

But Phil had never met Steve. “You don’t understand. He invalidated Hendrix’s soul in one sentence; imagine what he’ll do to higher forces.”

“That’s not important,” Phil said blithely. “The important thing is to experience what’s happening as part of the spiritual system.” To make the whole thing idiot proof, he showed me the diagram again. The “problem” was my Maze-like obsession with the upcoming lunch. The tool would be Active Love, which I would use whenever I felt resentment toward Steve.

I practiced the tool as he told me to, but I still felt like an amateur lightweight preparing to challenge the heavyweight champion of the world. More obsessed than ever, I went back to Phil and complained, “I don’t think this is going to work.”

“What you think doesn’t matter,” Phil barked. “Focus on what you do, not on what you think. Your only job is to use the tool. The system will do the rest.” As he swept me out the door, I imagined him chanting, Problem—tool; problem—tool.

I was baffled and demoralized . . . but I had no options. So I used Active Love doggedly, every time my thoughts veered toward the lunch. Gradually, I began to notice myself feeling different. I was a little less afraid of Steve’s judgment and more excited about expressing myself.


Before I knew it, the day came. I used Active Love on my way to the restaurant and then a few more times when I saw Steve sitting at a table. After we greeted each other and ordered, I could see that the moment of truth had arrived. Steve looked straight at me and said professorially, “So how would you describe your orientation to psychotherapy?”

When I heard his tone, I felt my old anxiety coming up again. I used Active Love. “I . . . I guess I have a ‘spiritual’ orientation.”

“That’s interesting. What’s that?”

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. When I started to speak, what came out amazed me. “What if every bad thing that’s ever happened to you—including every problem you’ve ever had—was there, in your life, to get you in touch with abilities you never knew you had? And what if there were specific procedures that led you directly to those new abilities?”

I saw his eyes light up.

Carried by a wave of passion, I launched into an explanation of the spiritual system Phil had described. But I was no longer spouting Phil’s words; the system had become a part of me. In my natural excitement, I completely forgot that these ideas were improvable and that I was talking to a scientist. I no longer felt like a rival, like I had to defend the ideas or defeat Steve. All I felt was inspired.

When I was finished, I looked at Steve. He was beaming (maybe it was just me, but he’d lost his professorial demeanor). “This is great, Barry! You’ve found something you really believe in, and I bet you’ve helped a lot of people with it.”

I was stunned. “You mean you accept the premises . . . the spiritual system and everything?” 

“In a strict sense, no.” He shrugged his shoulders. “But you know what Pascal said: ‘It’s the heart that feels God, not the reasoning powers.’ ”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “What are you saying?”

He took a deep breath. “You get results. Sometimes that’s all that matters.”

I still didn’t understand. He thought for a while, then suddenly grinned. “This old joke explains it better. A guy goes to see his psychiatrist. He says, ‘Doc, my brother’s crazy, he thinks he’s a chicken. What should I do?’ The shrink answers, ‘You’ll need to hospitalize him.’ And the man says, ‘I can’t. . . . I need the eggs.’ ”

After I stopped laughing I realized Steve had just said it better than I ever could have. He was telling me that the spiritual system produced “eggs” for the patients and it didn’t matter how they were helped.


That lunch was a turning point for me. I now saw that Steve wasn’t the only person who put me in the Maze; most people did. I’d been laboring under the false assumption that, if I tried to express myself in a way that the other person disagreed with, he or she would shut me down. Little wonder I walked around with so much resentment; I felt silenced by everyone around me—when in fact I was stifling myself! It was like being in a prison cell and discovering I’d had the key in my pocket the whole time—and the key was Active Love.

I began to use the tool with everyone—friends, patients, family—and my resentments seemed to evaporate. I was amazed at how much better I felt. Now I noticed myself looking people in the eye, speaking directly to them, feeling more relaxed and confident. Whether they agreed or disagreed with me became irrelevant. I could also feel real love flowing through me, just as I could after the dream. Only this time, it didn’t go away; my heart remained open, and I felt more alive.

Just as Phil had predicted, my doubts were gone. I had experienced higher forces moving in my life, changing me for the better. I couldn’t prove the existence of higher forces logically, but I no longer felt the need to. I began to understand what faith really meant: faith is the confidence that higher forces are always there to help when you need them.

Don’t trust me on this—just start using The Tools and see for yourself.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of Barry’s journey to understanding higher forces.