There was a need to bring the gems of wisdom from the past into the present. So many of us are searching for guidance and understanding but without the foundation in ancient thought that many 19 th century writers had, and without the patience needed to wade through their often complex prose. When my students and viewers of The Secret were having difficulty understanding what Emerson and Wattles and Haanel and others were really saying, it made sense to do for those authors what I’d already done for some of the metaphysics teachers of the same period.
Years ago. My life was falling apart, and, like many women who’ve gone through difficult times, I grabbed whatever seemed to offer any sort of guidance. I was intrigued by the title The Game of Life—the idea that life might be a game that we could actually win was very refreshing. When I read the stories of men and women who had dealt successfully with many of the same issue that I was dealing with by using Shinn’s methods, I was amazed. I’d never heard of such a thing! I began to apply them as well as I could, which brought me into contact with other people who, it turned out, were in the New Thought movement—which ultimately led to my ordination as a New Thought minister and becoming a teacher of these same principles and methods.
What Florence Shinn offers us is a set of tried and true method for undoing the effects of past thought and “karma”, and moving forward into the world and life we were born to experience—what I’ve come to call “Heaven on Earth”. The principles she works from are timeless and the examples she provides demonstrate that anyone, anywhere, can live a heavenly life here, now, anywhere.
James Allen overcame a lack of education and income, working for a living from his early teens, and, through focused effort and thought, became a world famous writer and teacher. That alone is worth paying attention to in this day and age. The fact that he integrated Buddhist and Christian philosophy at a time when most people had never heard of Buddhism is even more remarkable—and helpful in this age when the Dalai Lama is one of the world’s most recognized figures. And then he gives us clear and useable methods to apply in our own lives so we no longer have to be subject to thoughts and feelings that no longer serve us. His work is, really, a remarkable contribution to this time in our world!
It’s fun, actually! I’d already read the work before we decide to do it. Once I’ve got the go-ahead, I immediately download a version of it and convert it into a word-processing file. Then, usually with a hard-copy version of the text alongside, I do the “first cut.” I use Search-and-Replace to address gender issues and replace any terms that will be consistently used through the text. By the time I’ve done that, I’ve been through it a few times and have begun to see what the outline is. I let it sit for a little while to “percolate” then I start to create headings and subheadings, shortening paragraphs, and simplifying sentences as I go. I use something called “the Fog index” as a guide through this stage of the process, so the text is more readable for more people. My goal at this stage is to make each of the author’s main ideas shine as the gem it really is. Somewhere around halfway through, I begin to see the “golden thread” of the author’s message and start cutting away the fluff around it, moving paragraphs and sections around to make it stand out more clearly. By this time I’m really excited about it and can “feel” a modern audience grasping it. Then it’s time to find appropriate quotations from other texts, update the examples being used, develop the Essential Points and exercises, and, finally, make sure all the references are accurate and complete (that’s the least fun part—but even then I find interesting and useful ideas and pieces to work in). I use Google a lot, and have access to an extensive library (called The Portal Center) of philosophical, metaphysical, religious, and scientific texts, so it’s not too hard to find appropriate material to support, expand, and explain the author’s concepts. When I’ve done all that, the publisher’s editor goes over it and asks all kinds of questions about things I’ve missed or taken for granted, so I get to clarify and rephrase and rethink some of the material, which sometimes gets tedious but which I know will make the final product that much more accessible. Every book we’ve done is an opportunity for me to discover new ways to integrate familiar ideas, learn new ideas, and deepen my own understanding. For each one, I get to draw on my background in the sciences, in history and philosophy, and in world religions and spiritual traditions—who could ask for more fun than that!
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