It took several attempts to schedule a time with Michael Beckwith, because the director of the Agape International Spiritual Center is first and foremost a spiritual teacher, serving those in need. When we finally connected, he was delighted to share his global vision of one human family united on a foundation of peace based on the interconnectedness of all life.

Michael’s life is a living testament to building community. In the 1970s he began a journey that embraced the major religions, philosophies and cultures of East and West. In 1986 he founded a Los Angeles-based trans-denominational community that twenty years later counts a membership of thousands, both locally and worldwide, devoted to the study and practice of the truth teachings of the ages.

Agape’s outreach programs feed the homeless, serve imprisoned individuals and their families, partner with community service organizations active in children’s schools, camps and shelters, and support organizations that advocate preservation of the planet’s environmental resources. Through the University of Transformational Studies and Leadership at Agape, Michael teaches meditation, the Life Visioning Process and how to align one’s purpose in life with the universal principles governing the universe. He is a featured teacher in
The Secret and the author of Inspirations of the Heart, Forty-Day Mind Fast-Soul Feast, A Manifesto of Peace, and Living from the Overflow. — JG

How can we bring an awareness of oneness into our businesses?

To carry a vibration of oneness into business, you have to exchange the word “business” for the word “service.” When we become aware of the interconnectedness of all life it becomes clear that we are in business to serve—to offer a product or a service that’s going to enhance the lives of those who are its consumers, its recipients. The byproduct of that relationship is the exchange or circulation of energy known as money.

The average person goes into business primarily to make money. But when we awaken to the realization that we live, move and have our being in a unified field of energy where there exists only one life—whether you call it the life of God or the quantum field of energy—we birth the understanding that all humanity is an individualized expression of that one life. In that sense the impact of my product or service upon you comes back to me. It’s the law of cause and effect in action.

Years ago, people would look at individuals and see their client base with dollar signs over their names. Now we’re evolving into a more enlightened species and we relate to our clientele as individuals with names and faces whom we have the privilege of serving and, along the way, with whom we can develop relationships. There’s service and there’s relationship. The delivery of a product or a service is the way through which we get to serve and to know one another, while circulating the energy called money is our exchange. You could say that those who go into business today simply for the byproduct of money are behind the times; they have not yet reached the next stage of understanding.

How do you help people reach that point?

I teach individuals to look at their business not as a place of hard, cold cash, but instead, to approach it as an expression of their creativity, as a distribution center of their gifts, talents and passions. When one’s product or service is delivered from a platform of love, excellence, integrity and beauty, then the whole web of life has been uplifted. Then watch how people will beat a path to your door in order to be in relationship with you through your product or service. There may be many other people in the marketplace selling the same product, but people are willing to pay you even a little more for it when they feel that sincere energy of service.

People will pay more because they’re getting more. The day of someone simply wanting to make money could be described as being from a bygone time, when profit was the bottom line and money was the motivation. As we evolve, money becomes simply another dimension of what is added to us as we walk in the direction of our passion, our purpose, sharing our talents and gifts with others while we’re gracing the planet. It’s enlightened business and mindful service.

What is seeking to emerge in this more enlightened way of doing business?

This speaks to the evolution of human society. Years ago, our life was mainly about survival; survival bred a sense of competition between individuals, between tribes, between nations and between businesses.

This has changed. Now it’s about cooperation, collaboration and relationships. The human race will survive. But it’s time we move out of the false understanding of Darwinian theory and move into the understanding that those who cooperate and collaborate—not those who overpower—are the ones who not only survive but thrive.

The species that experience the highest level of cooperation and collaboration also possess the strongest tendencies to thrive and thus evolve. Those who stay in the energy of scarcity and competition cause harm to themselves, to their communities, and do not evolve. While a successful business model must be based on sound business principles, the business principle of oneness—the interconnectedness of all life—and service is a very enlightened point of view and approach in the long run.

I’ve heard you say, “The pursuit of personal success is a terminal phase.” What do you mean by that?

I believe that whenever we have a chronic problem, it’s feedback from the universe that we’re trying to be happy and find satisfaction from a vision for our life that’s too small. Sure, for a while we can find happiness in the small-view world of accumulating money, the world of our relationships or the world of our bodies. But these are structures we are meant to stabilize and evolve so that we may move forward in delivering our real inner gifts to our lives and our world.

Once you’ve achieved personal career success—meaning you’re prosperous with plenty to spare and share—then it’s time to start using all of the principles that helped you become personally successful to create global success, so that every man, woman, boy and girl has all of their basic needs met; so that the world can begin to harvest their gifts, talents and powers that they have come to manifest on the planet.

Once a person has achieved personal success, to keep on making money just for the sake of money would be to stay in an inner world that is too small, a life vision that is too narrow and selfish. It is now time to play a bigger game, to make a bigger contribution to the planet. Now I’m not saying a person shouldn’t go for personal success. Yes, go for personal success—but realize that it’s just a stage in your overall development. Don’t spend the rest of your life trying to make more money simply for money’s sake. The point is to create a system that works in such a way that you don’t need to work simply for money or personal gain, but so that you may support the planet and its inhabitants to reach the next stage of evolution—the evolution of love, collaboration, cooperation, peace and prosperity for all.

During one of your talks you outlined seven steps to help individuals become vehicles for this emerging field of awareness. Can you share these with our readers?

The seven keys that support us in achieving optimum physical health allow for the body’s cells to replicate themselves as they are meant to do. When we are healthy, we have a greater chance to be conduits for what’s seeking to emerge at this particular stage of our planet’s evolution.

The first key is adequate hydration. One must stay hydrated with clean, pure water and release any addiction around carbonation. Carbonated drinks leach calcium from the body and promote the condition for osteoporosis and brittle bones later on in life. We need to protect our children from this because there’s no such thing as a soft drink. These drinks are harmful and addictive.

There is also a spiritual aspect to right hydration. The Bible describes a scene where Jesus is talking to a Samaritan woman who had come to a well. He says to her, “Whoever drinks the water I have to give will thirst no more.” He was talking about a way of life based on spiritual principles and values. If you live a life based on spiritual principles, you will not thirst for get-rich-quick schemes. You won’t thirst for things of the world to make you happy—fads and trends that come and go out of style. Instead, your life will be an ongoing evolution of the limitless expression of the gifts and talents within you, which bring authentic inner happiness and joy.

The second key is right nutrition. On the physical level, this has to do with eating live foods that carry life force and the light of the natural world. Nourish your body with something that’s been touched by sunlight, something that’s fresh, so that your body temple may take that light and assimilate it into energy that supports your immune system and maintains health.

In the spiritual sense, nutrition means the quality of the conversations you have, the books you read, the movies you watch, the people you hang out with. All of this becomes part of nourishing your consciousness and monitoring the kinds of thoughts you allow to flow through your awareness, so that you can maintain a healthy and wholesome vibrational frequency flowing throughout your life.

The third key is exercise. In order for your body to assimilate the vitamins, minerals, healthy food and water you take in, you must move your body. If you don’t exercise, there’s no assimilation or integration. The calcium you take cannot be converted into bone unless you walk or exercise.

In the spiritual domain, this is analogous to spiritual practice. Once you’ve read something, studied it and had a conversation about it, you must look to see how you can immediately incorporate it into your life. In other words, you ask yourself, “How can I move from theory into action and begin practicing this principle today? If you merely accumulate spiritual knowledge without practice you will experience spiritual indigestion, which has no transformational value.

The fourth key is fasting. In the physical sense this means detoxifying as well as making sure you have more toxins going out than coming in. You release stored toxins through your skin and all the other organs of elimination. It is often wise to drink only liquids, or eat less than you normally eat for at least one day of the week so that your body has an opportunity to cleanse itself. Do some research to see what kind of fasting or cleansing program works best for you. And of course consult with your health care provider or nutritionist.

In the spiritual realm, detoxifying is accomplished through the practice of forgiveness. On a regular basis, make sure you are not carrying around animosity, resentment, blame or shame which manifests itself as limiting and hurtful experiences. First go within and forgive yourself, then forgive anybody you’re in relationship with or in business with, anybody that you’ve been involved with who may have committed acts of ignorance or unconsciousness. Keep yourself clean and free through continual forgiveness.

The fifth key is giving your consent to the understanding that life is fundamentally good. In the physical and mental sense, in order for the body to stay vibrant and strong, it’s vital to wake up every single day sensing and knowing that you are living, moving and having your being in a friendly, supportive universe. Life is on your side, cheering you on! If you have toxic thoughts that the universe is unfriendly, it’s chaotic, and out to get you, you are giving yourself the message that you are unsafe. Then fear, doubt and worry take rule in your awareness and produce toxic chemicals instead of tonic chemicals. This undermines your nervous system and immune system and creates the conditions for disease.

In the spiritual sense, the understanding that life is good comes through a lifestyle of meditation, prayer, contemplation, study, visioning and selfless service—practices that are centered around the idea that the universe makes itself available to us as a source of strong support. These practices cause us to feel and know our oneness with life, our interconnectedness to the All.

The sixth key is light. In the physical sense, you need a proper dosage of sunlight every day. The sun of itself is not harmful, because the universe has not been put together chaotically. By exposing yourself to the sun you absorb the full spectrum of its healing qualities which activates the production of vitamin D and other wonderful tonic vitamins and chemicals that naturally flow through your body. So find a balance for your own body type taking into consideration moderation and common sense.

In the spiritual sense, through your inner spiritual practices, you become aware that you are comprised of light, that you are a light being. Between our cells there’s luminosity. You shed the light, you shine the light, you radiate the light. When you realize this, you enter into a high vibration of praise, thankfulness and humility. This inner light forges a magnetic field that impacts every environment you enter, because you carry it with you. By radiating these invisible light rays from your being, you also become a magnet, drawing to yourself that which is for your good and repelling that which is not.

The seventh key is rest. You must find time to deeply rest, so that your body and cells can regenerate.

In the spiritual sense, this means making time for no-thought, coming to a complete stop, being still and knowing that “I am made of the essence of God-stuff. I am perfect, whole and complete.”

These seven keys are a template for your life, a template for experiencing the Wholeness that is your very self.

Is there anything else you would like to say about money and prosperity?

I’ve been advising my students and those in my spiritual community to never spend money, because once you spend it, it’s gone. The proper notion is that you’re circulating energy. When you circulate energy in the form of money, it always returns to the source from which it came.

For example, when you buy a loaf of bread, you’re not spending money to buy bread. You’re circulating energy, and you mentally grasp that the storekeeper and his family will be blessed by the energy you’re circulating into his business. He now gets to go out and purchase what he needs for his family, to send his kids to school, and so on. You get the bread, and the energy just keeps on circulating.

So it’s helpful not to think of yourself as spending money. You circulate it, you invest it, you save it, you contribute it, you use it for supporting humanitarian causes, research and development of that which improves life on the planet. There are some people who, even though they have a lot of money, are stingy. They incorrectly believe that when they spend money, they will then have one less dollar—or one less thousand or one less million, whatever level of game they’re playing—when in fact, if they circulate it with the right consciousness, the universe provides a way for it to return to its source, multiplied abundantly.

Rich people can be some of the “poorest” people in the world, because they’re afraid of circulating, of sharing their resources. Conversely, we hear of others with modest means who share what they have and through the law of circulation accumulate money beyond their wildest dreams. Circulating in that way becomes a blessing to the planet.

How do you feel about The Secret and its tremendous success worldwide?

I’m very happy that the movie has done well, that it’s been added to the popular conversation and as a result, that there are so many people who have been positively impacted. I’ve received so many e-mails from people who are now discovering the power of their thoughts and intentions. I’m so happy that The Secret has opened up so much for so many, and in such a short period of time.

I am also very happy to have been a part of the production, and for all the others who shared their wisdom and experience in working with the Laws of the universe. I want to maintain the conviction that the movie is not just popular but that people are taking it to heart, that they are incorporating the principles it offers and that they are having tangible results in their lives. If people make The Secret a way of life, if they take the principles and actually practice them, their lives will be amplified with such joy, abundance and creative opportunities for good that they’ll walk through everyday with immense gratitude for the preciousness of life itself, and certainly for the gift of life that has been given to them. The testimonials that we’re receiving every day indicate that The Secret has been of immense service to our brothers and sisters throughout the world. Isn’t that the whole point?

We are hearing wonderful stories as well, and it’s only the beginning.

I agree, we’re just getting started. We are waking up and it’s a beautiful morning.