"The biggest problem in the world today is that most people don't know what the biggest problem in the world today is."
Neale Donald Walsch
I’m beyond excited to share this week’s podcast with you, as I have literally been waiting for over 20 years to talk with today’s guest!
In 1999, I read the book Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch for the first time, but it wouldn’t be the last. In fact, you’ll hear today about how that one book has positively impacted my life more than any other.
In Neale’s newest book, The Essential Path: Making the Daring Decision to Be Who You Truly Are, he explores how feelings of alienation have created a world in which it’s always “us against them” – and why it’s time to question our basic assumptions about ourselves and each other, about life and how it works, about God, and what humanity is, in order to transform our world for the better.
It is an honor to speak to Neale about the processes and the thinking that have inspired his work, the impact that he’s had on the world, and how we can each begin solving the biggest problem currently facing humanity.
- Why Neale wasn’t concerned with how readers might respond to his work when he started writing Conversations With God – and the incredible story of how the first book in the series found its publisher.
- How anyone can have a conversation with God – and what God is in this context.
- What Neale does to stay active, engaged, and spiritual despite the fact that he doesn’t have a strict daily routine or meditation practice.
- How clubs, political parties, religious organizations, and other groups are leading to tribalism, separation, and needless conflict in a moment when we as a species need to come together.
- The four fundamental questions of life – and why so many people never ask them.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
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Hal Elrod: Hey, everybody. This is Hal Elrod and before we dive into today’s episode of the podcast, I wanted to take just a minute, maybe a minute-and-a-half to let you know about my latest book and the newest book in the Miracle Morning book series. It’s The Miracle Morning for Teachers: Elevate Your Impact for Yourself and Your Students. And if you’re a teacher or administrator, or you know a teacher administrator, The Miracle Morning for Teachers is the perfect book to both elevate the life of every teacher, while simultaneously elevating the impact that they make for their students. And it really goes back, gosh, seven-plus years ago, when I first wrote the Miracle Morning, the original book. I had this vision where what if was practiced every day in classrooms around the world? What if students started their day with meditation, affirmations, visualization, exercise, reading, and journaling?
And that vision became a reality in February 2019 when my co-author and co-creator of the Miracle Morning book series, Honoree Corder, led a group of dozens of teachers around the world to implement the six daily practices of the Miracle Morning known as the SAVERS into their classrooms for 30 days and beyond and the results, both for the teachers and the students, were absolutely remarkable. We heard things like, “Some of my most troubled students are now focused and calm and they thank me every day that we’re doing the Miracle Morning together.” And those stories, those results, that feedback helped to shape the book that we are now on a mission to get in the hands of every teacher in the world. That’s the ultimate goal. So, you can grab a copy of The Miracle Morning for Teachers on Amazon for yourself or your favorite teacher. You can get the audiobook on Audible. And either way, this book really is the next step in the Miracle Morning mission, which is to elevate the consciousness of humanity one morning, one teacher, and one student at a time and I am so grateful for your support. Thank you so much.
Hal Elrod: Hello, my friends. It’s Hal Elrod. Welcome to the Achieve Your Goals Podcast. And today is extremely special for me. The conversation that I just finished up that I’ll tell you about here in a second, I’ve been looking forward to this for 20 years. Twenty years ago, in 1999, I read a book called Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch. And that book fundamentally changed my life more than arguably any other. I’d say that it’s a shortlist of Conversations with God, The Untethered Soul, Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It. There’s a few. Those are the three probably top spiritual books that I’ve read. And I’ve gifted the book Conversation with God to more people than any other or I used to hesitate when people ask me, “What’s your favorite book?” “It’s Conversations with God,” but I would often not share that I would choose another. It was an insecurity over our audience. Our community is of all different spiritual backgrounds and religious backgrounds, and atheist backgrounds and various belief systems. And I was acting out of fear, where I went, “Well, gosh, I don’t want to say Conversations with God and then anyone that maybe doesn’t believe in God or views God in a lens of religious dogma, whatever it may be. I didn’t want to alienate anyone.” And you’re going to actually hear that the largest problem facing humanity right now is alienation. You’ll hear that today in the conversation that I have with Neale, but I don’t want to alienate anyone.
And then, I don’t know, a year or so ago, I’m not sure when it was but I finally realized that I’m not being authentic by not saying that if I had one book to choose, I would choose Conversations with God. And so, here today I won’t share the story twice because I tell it to Neale but how I discovered that book by a friend who wasn’t necessarily the most spiritual friend and there’s a lot of skepticism from him and even for me around this conversation with God, so to speak, that Neale initially had over 20 years ago. Or, gosh, for him now it’s 30 some years I think, but that was one of the most profound books, the wisdom in that book. I’ve read the book at least three or four times, always revisiting it. But in the last 37 books, I’ve read, probably seven or eight of them. And yeah, let me actually give you an official intro for Neale so you know who you’re about to hear from.
Neale Donald Walsch is a modern-day spiritual messenger, whose words continue to touch the world in profound ways. With an early interest in religion and a deeply felt connection to spirituality, Neale spent the majority of his life thriving professionally, yet searching for spiritual meaning before experiencing his now famous conversation with God. The Conversations with God series of books that emerged from those encounters has been translated into 37 languages, touching millions of lives and inspiring important changes in their day-to-day lives. And again, I can attest that I am one of those millions of people whose lives have been transformed by Neale’s work and his books. And I hope you enjoy this conversation that I have been waiting 20 years to have as much as I did.
Hal Elrod: Neale, now that we are officially capturing this via technology, thank you so much for taking the time today.
Neale Donald Walsch: The thanks is mine to offer to you. I appreciate anyone who wants to spend a moment sharing the wonderful messages that have come through for all of us in the Conversations with God dialogues. So, thank you for the opportunity. How may I serve you in this moment?
Hal Elrod: Well, as I was mentioning to you before we started recording that your latest book, The Essential Path, I read probably about four or five, six months ago and I’ve read Conversations with God Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, Book 4, Home with God and quite a few others. I discovered the first Conversation with God book back in 2000 actually, when I was 20 years old, so half a lifetime ago. I’m 40 now. It was recommended by a friend who is very, he’s a very left-brained logical, analytical mind, and he recommended this book and I thought, “Well, that doesn’t seem like a book you’d recommend.” And he said, “Hal, look,” he said, “When it was recommended to me, I was skeptical. This conversation with God, what’s that business about?” And he said, “I started reading it and what I found is that,” he said, “The wisdom contained in the book, I got to the point where I go, ‘I don’t know if this is God talking or Neale talking,’” but he said, “I don’t really care because this is changing my life.” That was the sales pitch, if you will, that I received on Book 1 and I bought it and kind of the same thing. I started reading it, “You know, is this God talking? Is this Neale?” This is interesting but within a matter of pages I went, this is some of the most profound wisdom I’ve ever come across. And that’s how you should describe it to, you know, I’ve gifted your book to more than any other book I’ve ever gifted. And so yeah, I thank you for putting it out there. And here’s the first question I have for you. When you wrote the first Conversations with God book, the idea that you’re going to publish a book that, “Hey, this is me talking to God and God talking back,” a full-on two-way dialogue, I’m curious, what did you think that people would think about you claiming that you had a conversation with God?
Neale Donald Walsch: Well, you know, I didn’t have those kinds of thoughts when the experience was mine, because I didn’t have any notion that anyone else would ever see what was being written. You understand that I did not sit down to write a book called Conversations with God. This was an event in my life that was quite spontaneous and I thought that at the outset meant only for me. So, it never occurred to me that in a million bazillion years that anyone would ever see my personal, private scribblings on the yellow legal pad. And so, I didn’t have the thought that you’re wondering about because it was not part of in the moment reality. Now, later on in the process, I did receive the following information. I was told, “You will make of this one day a book.” But even then, I’m sorry, what is your first name?
Hal Elrod: Hal.
Neale Donald Walsch: Hal. Even then, Hal, I did not believe it. I mean, at some level I thought, “Yeah, of course, that you and 100 other people are going to send your middle of the night mental meanderings to a publisher who’s going to say, ‘Hold the presses. We got to get this book out at once. This guy’s talking to God.’” It did seem it would never occur to me that anyone would ever publish my, as I said, middle of the night mental meanderings. But I did send those meanderings to a publisher. I had them typed out. They were all handwritten, of course, and this was handwriting experience on the yellow legal pad. I asked a stenographer who I happen to know a friend of a friend who was a legal secretary and a very good stenographer. I said, “Would you mind transferring these notes into keyboarding these notes?” And she said, actually, she went ahead and did it. And that’s when I first realized that something unusual was happening here because she called me and she said, “I’m halfway through this. Where is this stuff coming from? What is this?”
And I said, “Well, you know, I believe that I’m having a conversation with God or conversation with a source of higher wisdom, and greater clarity than I’ve ever experienced in my life that I’m calling him God. And why do you ask?” She’s said, “I’ve never read anything like this in my life. I can’t wait to continue transcribing this and typing it out.” Well, once she’d finished with her manuscript work, we sent it off to a number of publishers and one of those small publishers, Hampton Roads Publishing Company agreed to publish the book, and much to my astonishment, I might say, much to my huge surprise, I recall when the man called me, I said, “You’re kidding. You’re kidding. You’re going to publish this?” He said, “Absolutely. Some of the most astonishing stuff we’ve ever read.” So, they did publish it and the rest as they say, Hal, is history. The book went on to sell over a million copies, translated into 37 languages, and sold in every country of the world. And so, who would have thought? It was too late. Once the book was published and began selling millions of copies, it was way too late for me to worry about how people were going to react to it. I was past that.
So, I just learned to live with people’s reactions. But now, Hal, to answer your question in the fullest way, I have to say that most people’s reactions have been very positive. Even those who don’t believe that I actually had a conversation with God have allowed me or I should say have indulged me what they have considered to be simply a literary device, a literary contrivance. You know, if a person did have a conversation with God, might these be some of the exchanges that could occur? So, even those who don’t either believe in God at all or believe that I had a conversation with God or believe that such a conversation is possible, have been very indulgent. I’ve had very little of totally confrontive objection to the writing. There have been a few, but relatively speaking, not a lot of objection from people in the world. So, the material has been widely received in a positive way and as I said, translated into 37 languages, again, much to my astonishment. You can find this book in bookstores in Tahiti and from here to Japan. And, yes, even in China. We were at China and really every country of the world, including Russia, and everywhere else, where you might not expect there to be such a willing reception of the material.
In fact, in China, it was published actually by the government. That is, I mean, all publishing in China is done by the government. There are no independent publishers. But the Chinese publisher, which is owned by the government, actually bought the rights to the book, the foreign language rights and published it in and put it out in Beijing and everywhere else in China. And then I was invited to go to China and actually on a speaking tour, which I did to three major cities. In China, I only bring that up to let you know that, obviously, the information in the book is transnational, transsexual, trans-faith. I mean, it crosses every border you could possibly imagine, political borders, spiritual borders, social borders, and it’s received widely by everyone who reads it. So, I’m very grateful for that. And then I see that this experience was never intended just for me. Clearly, it was intended to be read by millions and millions of people which it has been.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. Beautiful. Your conversation with God, when did the conversation on the yellow legal pad? What year did that begin?
Neale Donald Walsch: Gosh, I’m going to say 1993. I lost track but it was published 5/5/95 so I’m going to say it was probably 1994 or 1993. I could look back on my notes and get the exact date but in the third or fourth year of the 90s.
Hal Elrod: Wow. Yeah. So, I discovered it a good 13 years or so after the book even published. You know, in the first book, Conversations with God Book 1, you write, “I invite you to a new form of communication with God, a two-way communication.” And now, personally, you’ve opened me up to that communication with God. So, I talked to God every day.
Neale Donald Walsch: That’s the most wonderful thing you could have said to me and it makes me feel very, very happy.
Hal Elrod: Thank you. I’m glad that makes you happy. It makes me happy. You really and I’m sure so many people you gave permission to that kind of for people to realize, “Oh, I don’t just have to read the Word of God or listen to the Word of God but…”
Neale Donald Walsch: Or I don’t even have to just pray to God one way because that’s what’s happened for millions of people. They’ve come to realize, “Oh my goodness.” You have to understand, Hal, we’re talking here about a major taboo. Most of the world’s religions and most of the world’s major faith’s traditions would allow as to how an actual two-way conversation with God is not possible. They would call it a blasphemy, heresy. Who do you think you are that God would talk directly to you? Lily Tomlin, the wonderful comedian actually put it in perfect form when she said, “When I tell people I pray to God every day that I talked to God every day, they say, ‘Well, how devout.’ When I tell them that God talks to me every day, they say, ‘That’s insane. You’re crazy. You’re deluding yourself.’” So, the interesting thing that I noticed here is that it’s not commonly held that people can actually have a two-way conversation with God, which is strange because it’s what God desires the most is to interact with us.
Hal Elrod: For me, I find that it’s when I quiet my mind. And it really is kind of a practice. It’s kind of like meditation. The first time you meditate, most of us are terrible at it and your mind’s racing and the first time you want attempts to have a two-way dialogue with God, I find that, you know, it becomes difficult to decipher, “Wait, is that my voice of my past, my insecurity, my subconscious? Or is that of the voice of a higher power, a higher intelligence?” I know you believe that anyone can talk to God. So, I guess the big…
Neale Donald Walsch: Not that anyone can talk to God. Everyone is talking to God.
Hal Elrod: So, how do we do it or how do we decipher it? How do we know that we’re doing it for someone like me?
Neale Donald Walsch: Well, the question is answered in the first 10 pages of Book 1. We’re talking about 4,000 pages of dialogue, in all of the Conversations with God books, but your question is answered in the first 10 of those 4,000 pages of dialogue, because I asked, of course, the exact same question. How do I know? And you may remember from those first 10 pages, that God said, “Mine is always the highest truth, the grandest joy, the greatest freedom,” truth, joy, and freedom. If the information you’re receiving does not feel like truth, joy, and freedom, that is if it comes from fear or apprehension or being scared of something or being cautious to the level of paralysis and so forth, then you can rest assured that it’s not the voice of the highest wisdom that resides within you. But if the feeling you’re receiving, when the words that you’re hearing are feelings of joy and freedom, and I want to add fearlessness, feelings of expansion and not contraction, those words are probably emanating in the place of highest wisdom that resides within all of us.
Hal Elrod: Beautiful. Actually, the other day, I was waking my 10-year-old daughter up. And I don’t remember, I don’t know if I started with a prayer and I got on the topic, but I kind of coached her if you will on that. I said, “Sweetheart,” I said, “You know that you can talk to God and hear God anytime,” and she said, “What do you mean? And how do you know?” And I said, “To me, it’s that inner voice.” I mean, you just said it so beautifully, Neale, but the way that I told her is I said, “It’s that inner voice that, you know, it’s always telling you what you know in your heart is right, the highest truth, the highest wisdom, joy, freedom.” I said, “For example, if you want to tell a lie, but you know in your heart there’s a voice saying, ‘Tell the truth, be honest, speak the truth,’ that’s the voice of God of higher consciousness.” And I think she said, “Dad, it’s seven o’clock in the morning. I don’t, I can’t, you know, this is too intense for me.”
Neale Donald Walsch: There’s wisdom for you.
Hal Elrod: This is not – I’m not ready for this. I’m still half asleep.
Neale Donald Walsch: That statement could be made by half the human race by the way.
Hal Elrod: Oh, sure.
Neale Donald Walsch: I mean, 50-year-old people in the middle of the day could say the same thing, “Wait a minute. I’m not ready for this. I’m half asleep.”
Hal Elrod: And I find that when the brain has got some alpha, beta, delta, whichever the waves that you have first thing in the morning last thing before bed. That is typically when I find that it is the prime time to tap into that wisdom and because you’re slowed down enough to actually listen versus in the middle of the day when while it’s always available. You know, you’re too busy. You’re rushed, you’re noisy. The radio is on.
Neale Donald Walsch: Stuff’s going on.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, you got stuff going on. Do you have a practice to talk with God in the highest intelligence? Do you have a daily practice that you actually partake in?
Neale Donald Walsch: No. And I’m really sorry. I hate to have to answer that question. I’m asked that question a lot, and I don’t want to disappoint people, but I don’t. I don’t have a daily meditation practice. I don’t have any kind of routine if you please or practice around this process. I will say that I write every day, almost every day of my life. I’m writing something to someone or to myself. And it was a practice, that would be it but that happens sporadically that is throughout the day, not at a particular time like every day at 1:00 or every day at 5 or whatever, or even first thing in the morning, but I’m writing every day of my life usually on my website where people send questions to me at Ask Neale and then they ask me all kinds of questions. In fact, just before getting on this interview, I was answering questions in the Ask Neale column. So, I am constantly being invited. I was going to use the word called upon, constantly being called upon to reach into that place of divine wisdom that resides, I want to say again, within all of us. I’m constantly being invited to make that connection and call forth from that space what I have understood to be what so.
And in response to people’s questions when they send them to me at Ask Neale. So, if I didn’t have a practice, that would be it but I don’t have a practice in the sense of, yeah, every day at 7 AM, he meditates, whatever it is, because I simply don’t. You know, I’ve always been against any kind of regular practice, even exercise, or dieting in a certain way or taking care of myself on a regular routine. I’ve never been – when I used to have a job at one point in my life, I actually worked for a living for an organization and after there about 10 years, they put a sign on my office door, “Don’t try to discipline this guy. Just tap his genius.” I remember when they put that sign, of course, I tore it down immediately. I didn’t want anyone to think that I thought of myself that way but people around me realize, “Hey, you know what, don’t try to discipline him. If you think he’s going to come in here every day at nine o’clock and leave at five, this is not a nine to five guy. He might come in until noon tomorrow, but you could just as easily find him here at 8:30 at night, way past closing time, because he does what he does when he wants to do it.” And that’s the story of my life.
Hal Elrod: It’s a beautiful way to live. It’s one that I’m leaning into. My wife’s much more that way, much more spontaneous, and I’m much more I think they would call it OCD would be a clinical diagnosis.
Neale Donald Walsch: Or regimented at least, yeah, having a sense of this has to be done here and this has to be done there. But I never was that way. So, the CWG experience, that is the Conversations with God encounter was right in keeping with my personality from the beginning.
Hal Elrod: I’m looking at the – I’m actually on Amazon right now and just scanning the Conversations with God books. And I see the first one published in ‘96. Not showing…
Neale Donald Walsch: 5-5-95, I thought. The actual publication, I couldn’t forget it because it’s so symmetrical. It was 5-5-95.
Hal Elrod: I did the same thing, the Miracle Morning published 12-12-12.
Neale Donald Walsch: Good year.
Hal Elrod: And I always say because I’ve got a terrible memory and I wanted a date that I wouldn’t forget. But so, here’s a question for you around the book. So, the first book published in ‘95 and then according to what’s on Amazon, Conversations with God Book 3 and obviously there was a Book 2 in between. Book 3 published in ‘98. So, there’s about a three-year span for the first three books. And then Book 4 published in 2017. So, we’ve got three years for the first three books and I know you’ve written 37 books total. Just make sure that said but three years for Book 1, Book 2, Book 3 and then 19 years before Book 4 published and I’m curious as to what was the serendipity between the gap in the first three to the fourth?
Neale Donald Walsch: Well, let’s first talk about the gap in the first three because what became Book 1 and 2 two was already gripping that is my experience had already occurred when Hampton Roads chose to publish the notes that, literally, the handwritten notes that I scribbled out on the yellow legal pad. And so, those notes became Book 1 and 2. They were way too extensive to put them into a single book, turning them into two different books. They called it Book 1 and Book 2. In the meantime, I had said I had then become aware that, “Oh my goodness, millions of people, I mean, millions of people are reading what’s coming off of this pen.” And that was the first time I encountered that phenomenon, that awareness in my life. And so, putting pen to paper from that point on felt very nerve-wracking. I mean, imagine how it would feel if a person began writing a letter or an email or whatever, and thought that 15 million people are going to read this. So, it might be a little bit inhibiting.
And so, what became Book 3 took a long time over a year-and-a-half to materialize, if you will, and to complete itself because I was keenly aware that every word I was writing was not going to be read around the world. And that had a tremendous impact on me. With regard to the gap between that and Book 4, so many books occurred between them, between Book 3 and Book 4. Book 4 is called Book 4 not because it was the fourth book I wrote but because it was the fourth book that contained the title Conversations with God. But between Conversations with God Book 3 and CWG Book 4, there were six or seven other books. Friendship with God, Tomorrow’s God, Home with God and other books in the With God series. But I have to say that when I finished writing Home with God, which was around 1995, the book Home with God was complete, I thought that the experience of Conversations with God in book-length form and all of us are having conversations with God all the time and you never stop having them, they simply call it something else, but I thought that book links, ongoing conversations of the likes of which are found in the first seven conversations with God dialogues I thought that process was over.
And then almost 20 years later, I woke up in August of that year with the same feeling that I had before, but I haven’t had that feeling in almost 20 years. That feeling that something wants to happen, something wants to come through. And it’s going to be a book-length, something. It’s not going to be a paragraph or a thought or an idea, or a fleeting notion. It’s a book-length message that wants to come through. So, I threw the covers back of my bed. This was at 4:15 in the morning, and I raced to my computer because I hadn’t had that feeling in a very long time. And I said, essentially, “Okay, what you got? What’s going on?” And then came through the information in Book 4 that where I was invited to and told to awaken the species and I was invited to invite others. The book is an open invitation to all of humanity, to awaken the species because the time has come for us to recognize we cannot continue moving forward on the path that we’ve taken. We need to change direction or the species is going to be in some considerable difficulty.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, Book 4, I had a lot of friends that I called that are, you know, that are on a mission in their own way to impact our species and our planet. And I said that, “You’ve got to read this book. This is kind of the playbook, if you will, for people that are really committed.” And hopefully, it’s all of humanity that’s really committed to change our ways moving forward. For me, I read Book 1 in it was actually 1999 I just realized and 20 years ago, a little over 20 years ago, and when I finished it, I had never felt so complete. So, the book felt so complete. It felt perfect to every question you asked. As you asked that I went, “Oh, my God, I would love to. I’m so curious. I would love to know the answer.” And then you read the answer. And you go, “Gosh, that makes more sense than anything that I’ve ever heard before or learned.” And I knew there was a Book 2 and I’m curious if you’ve ever gotten this before. I didn’t want to read it. In this weird way, Book 1 felt so complete and perfect that it’s a very odd line of thinking, but I thought, I can’t imagine. I couldn’t imagine how it could get any better than that.
And it was probably a year later, I was talking to a good friend of mine and Conversations with God book series came up and we’re talking about Book 1. He said, “Have you read Book 2?” I said, “No.” I said, “It’s weird, but I feel so complete with Book 1. I’ve reread the book three times now. I just don’t feel like I need to read Book 2.” And he said, “You’ve got to read Book 2.” He said as great as Book 1 is, so is Book 2, so is Book 3. The conversation just continues and I’m just curious, I’m the only person you’ve ever heard that from or if people have ever shared that Book 1 felt so complete, they felt content and they didn’t need to keep reading? And that’s what I felt until I kept reading. I went, “Oh my gosh, how did I wait so long to read Book 2?”
Neale Donald Walsch: Well, other people may have felt that but no one has ever said that to me. So, it’s understandable that you would because you’re a weird person.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. Thank you. That is absolutely true.
Neale Donald Walsch: That’s the title of your next book, by the way. I’m a Weird Person.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. The Miracle of Weirdness or something.
Neale Donald Walsch: There you go.
Hal Elrod: Now, in your newest book, so let’s talk about the new book, The Essential Path. It’s hard to pick a favorite but this is arguably, I guess, it’s recency biased but I love this book. One of the things I love about it is it is shorter than the others. And I do love a book where you can get just profound wisdom. I mean, this book is dog eared and underlined almost every single page where you can gain so much wisdom in a shorter read in less time. In this book, you address a lot of really important questions, thought-provoking questions. And I chose just a few of my favorite and I think the first one is about as profound as a question gets. I’d love to hear if you can share a little insight on the answer. And that question is what is the biggest problem in the world today?
Neale Donald Walsch: The biggest problem in the world today is that most people don’t know what the biggest problem in the world today is. They can see the outcome of the problem, they can see the fallout from the problem, they can see the impact of the effect of the problem, but they don’t know what’s causing that fallout, what’s causing that effect. Now, you know you’ve got a real problem when you can see the impact of the problem, but you don’t know what’s causing it. The analogy that I like to use is like getting in your car in the morning and to go somewhere and it won’t start. Suddenly, the car won’t start and you don’t know why. You know, you can see the impact. You can’t get the car started. But you have no idea why. You throw the hood open. Is something disconnected? Am I out of gas? You follow all the lines of logic and you can’t find any solution. You can’t even identify the cause. You simply know that the car won’t start. Well, that’s a wonderful analogy. And most people have had that experience at least once in their life. What’s going on here? Why is this happening? And we don’t know why what’s happening is happening.
So, the biggest problem in the world today, it’s a huge problem is that we can see the fallout of the problem. We don’t know what’s causing that fallout. So, we don’t know what the problem is. That’s a huge problem when you don’t know what the problem is. The fallout I can put in one word, alienation. You’re seeing a level of alienation on this planet, the likes of which I’ve never seen in my 76 years on Earth. People are suddenly more alienated than ever before from culture-to-culture, religion-to-religion, society-to-society, race-to-race, even between the genders. It’s unbelievable how we’ve allowed ourselves to become alienated vociferously, in some cases, violently alienated from each other. And we don’t know, we don’t seem to know how to unalienate. If I could coin a word, we don’t seem to know how to reverse the tide. How to unalienate ourselves, even people. And this is not a political commentary on one human being. But even people at the highest levels of government, not just in this country, but around the world, are suddenly saying things that are absolutely dividing the people of their various nations and alienating humanity one segment from another.
And that’s going to be the end of us. If we don’t start getting our act together and begin behaving in a different way toward each other by holding different beliefs about each other, we’re going to see the end of us before we know it. Not in the next 10 weeks or the next 10 years. But before my grandchildren are my age, it’s going to be a very difficult place to live on this planet unless we stop alienating each other. But we can’t stop, Hal, unless we figure out why. What’s causing this sudden wave of massive alienation where everyone who’s different in any way is wrong and we get to demonize differences? I’m going to write a book one day called Demonizing Differences. Let’s stop it.
Hal Elrod: Should add the un- in there, Undemonize Differences. Let’s start.
Neale Donald Walsch: Yeah, yeah.
Hal Elrod: So, how do you see that?
Neale Donald Walsch: That’s not a bad idea, by the way, Hal. I’m going to have to give you 3% of the proceeds for that book. Undemonizing Differences. Exactly.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. So, what do you see as a solution for at least at the, well, whether it’s the individual or the collective level so for people listening today if one of the fallouts from this problem is the alienation, what can we individually do and let me ask you this. Here’s a really honest question is that…
Neale Donald Walsch: You mean the other ones have been lies?
Hal Elrod: The other ones are lies. Can we do enough? I guess I should say a hard question, right, which is, what can we do kind of like if you’re talking about global warming, like, “Hey, let’s recycle.” Is that enough? Or is it forces larger than us, governments and organizations, corporations that are acting in that has such a larger impact on the planet, on society, on our species, that you can recycle all you want but it’s going to take a billion people doing this or doing that? So, I guess there’s two questions there, which is one is what can we do? And two is, is it even enough?
Neale Donald Walsch: There is no force in the universe that is more powerful than love. So, the answer to your question, is it enough, is yes, it will be more than enough because there’s no force in the universe more powerful than love. Love is the common denominator. It’s what every living entity seeks to experience and to express. There’s not a single person in the world, at some level, even murderers and terrorists and people who we think of, as you know, not very nice, not very nice beings, there’s not a single person in the world who does not want to love and be loved. And it is the universal common denominator. So, the question then would be what could cause people, if I could use a metaphor, to press the love button? What could cause people to love each other in a way that would be enough, that would eliminate alienation, that would allow us to move past our differences, and that would cause us to move once again toward the unity that we seek with all human beings and with everything that lives? And the answer is we have to change our fundamental belief.
We human beings as I have observed, as I’ve been told, in my conversations was kind of have embraced a notion that I could put into one word, separation. We have decided that we live in a cosmology of separation where everything is separate from everything else. Codependent, perhaps, coexistent for sure but separate, nonetheless. And so, we see ourselves as being separate from everyone and everything. And it starts with our understanding of our relationship with what we call God. I don’t know whether many of our listeners are aware of this, but probably 85% of, not probably actually statistically proven, but around 85% of the world’s people believe in a higher power of some sort. They may not use the same word or describe it in the same way, but the largest number of human beings by far, not 51% but something like 80% or 85% of human beings on the planet hold an inner idea that there is some kind of higher power. But they also hold the idea, the vast majority of those people hold the notion that that higher power is other than separate from us.
And so, they engage in what I have called a separation theology. Now, the problem with a separation theology, I mean, if that’s what people believe, fair enough. I mean, fair enough, if you believe what you believe, I believe that I believe. If it started and ended there, it could probably live with it. But the problem with the separation theology is that it doesn’t stop there. Because the separation theology evidently produces a separation cosmology. That is a cosmological holding among all the world’s people that we live in a new you, if you please, of separation, where not only are we separate from the thing we call God, but we’re separate from everything else. The trees over there, the birds up there in the sky, the planets beyond the sky in the stratosphere, and the other people around us. We’re all separate from each other. So, we live in a cosmology of separation.
And you know what, even that could be livable if it ended there but it doesn’t end there because the separation cosmology inevitably produces a separation of psychology that is an individual psyche that holds that, “Oh my God, I’m all alone out here. It’s me against the world. I’m over here and you’re over there. I’m on this end of the phone and you’re on that end of the phone. There’s no connection between us.” And so, we begin with the awful illness of loneliness and the feeling of separation is what sponsors 80% of humanity’s ills, and I don’t mean just mentally, emotionally ills. I mean, even their physical ills sponsored by the feeling of separation. But you know what, Hal, even that could be tolerated. We could even live with that if it ended there because we could find a way to heal a feeling of separation. But it doesn’t stop there because the separation psychology inevitably produces a separation sociology, that is entire societies that group together and create smaller groups within the whole in order to end and heal their feeling of separation.
So, we join political parties, we join religions, we join clubs and organizations and groups of every kind. And we claim our membership in other groups that are formed spontaneously. We call them races and genders. We give them all sorts of names, and we belong to that group. And so, we have a sociology that has created itself into smaller groupings, nations, and political parties, etcetera, etcetera. And you know what the problem with that? It’s tribalism. We’ve sunken back into tribalism. And the difficulty with that tribalism is it inevitably produces a separation pathology. That is pathological behaviors of self-destruction, observable throughout human history and to this very minute that we live in a world. We live on a planet where chiefs of state, heads of nations are verbally taunting each other, “My missile is bigger than yours. And if you’re not careful, we will annihilate you and wipe you off the face of the earth or we’ll do it economically with sanctions and other economic manipulations.”
Wow. So, we live on a pathological planet. It’s a pathological planet. Like guppies, we’re eating our own young. We’re eating ourselves to death, and we can’t figure out why. And the answer is so simple. To embrace the theological, psychological, and sociological truth of our oneness. In fact, we are all one. We’re afraid to do that, Hal, because we think that oneness means loss of identity. But look at the fingers of your hand. This is what God invited me to do in Conversations with God. Once you had this conversation with me, she said, “Neale, just put your hand in front of your face. Open the fingers of your hand. Are they identical? No, they’re not. You have not lost their individual identity. Your thumb looks remarkably different from your little finger. Your forefinger looks remarkably different from your ring finger. The fingers of your hand are all different shapes and sizes and they all perform different functions, yet they are not separate from each other. They are part of the hand and they are unified. They are individual, but not separate. And even as all of you are part of the hand of God.” I could, of course, be wrong about all of this.
Hal Elrod: I was going to suggest that. No.
Neale Donald Walsch: But I don’t think so.
Hal Elrod: I don’t think so either. There’s a question in the book that you asked and also in the new book in The Essential Path, and I don’t think that we’ve covered this in what you’ve shared and I’m listening closely but correct me if I’m wrong. The question I just asked you about or pointed out what is the biggest problem in the world today? Another question that I’d written down that you ask and address in The Essential Path is what is the most important question facing humanity today? Could we touch on that?
Neale Donald Walsch: Who are you? The most important question facing humanity today is who are you? My father asked me this question. My father was one of the great metaphysicians of all time. He just didn’t know it. Because from the time I was nine years old, he was asking me the world’s greatest metaphysical question, “Who the hell do you think you are anyway?” I can recall my father asking me that when I was 16. “Who do you think you are?” Of course, he didn’t mean it as a metaphysical inquiry.
Hal Elrod: It wasn’t a spiritual, yeah, sure.
Neale Donald Walsch: But he was touching on the most powerful question we could ever ask ourselves from the most meaningful inquiry we could ever make. Indeed, there are four fundamental questions of life. Who am I? Where am I? Why am I where I am? And what do I intend to do about that? My dear, Hal, most of the world’s people live their entire lives and never ask themselves any of those questions. And yet they are the four fundamental questions of life and when they are asked and answered on a daily basis, they can change your life in 30 minutes.
Hal Elrod: What are your answers to those questions, Neale? Are they fixed or are they changing day-by-day?
Neale Donald Walsch: Who am I? I am an individuation of divinity, an aspect of God, separate from God in no way whatsoever but God made man or if you please, God physicalized. I am the physical representation of divinity itself. And I’m not saying that I am God in the sense that I am all that God is. I am saying that I am as a wave is to the ocean. One wouldn’t say, “Hey, you know, the wave is not a part of the ocean. The wave is something other than the ocean.” No one would make that claim. The average person would say, “Well, of course.” The wave is a singular expression of the ocean. It’s not the entirety of the ocean. But it’s a singular and powerful and beautiful expression of the ocean, even as you are singular and powerful, beautiful expression of divinity. So, who I am is a wave of the ocean of God. Where am I? Where I am is in the realm of the physical as opposed to the realm of the spiritual and I am in the realm of the physical for a very specific reason, that I might know and understand what it means to be who I am and experience it that I can know experientially what it means to be who I really am, which is the answer to the third question, why am I where I am.
I have chosen deliberately to come to the realm of the physical, that I might know myself as who I am which is, by the way, the same reason that every human being and every sentient being in the cosmos, not just people on this planet, but throughout the universe, has allowed themselves to physicalize. What do I intend to do about that is the fourth question? And I answer that question every moment of every day. When I awaken, I move into the kitchen and have my morning encounter with my beloved spouse. The words that I say to the first person I see when I leave the house for whatever errand I’m running, the way I am, the way I am being, the way I’m presenting and representing myself, the way I experienced myself through my thoughts, my words, every deed, that’s my answer to the question. What do you intend to do about that? If I really believe that I’m an individuation of divinity, in what way am I choosing to demonstrate, express, and experience that?
Most of the questions that have been answered by the way they live their lives, by people like Buddha, Lao Tzu, Jesus, Mohammed, Mother Teresa, and all the great saints and sages, both men and women, through the centuries have asked and answered that question, and their lives stand as living monuments to their responses, even as your life can stand in the same way. You know, my dear, Hal, maybe one out of 1,000 people even consider such responses, much less commit internally to living them.
Hal Elrod: Well, I’d imagine that you asking those questions and answering those questions from your truth will inspire many thousands listening to this to ask those questions and answer them and discover their truth. So, Neale, thank you for leading by example.
Neale Donald Walsch: By the way, there are no right answers to this question. God forbid, this should turn into dogma or doctrine, or heaven help me, a new religion. This is not that. And I want to make it very clear to anyone who’s listening to this. There are no right or wrong answers to this question. So, those questions they’re only the answers that you give to them because every moment is an opportunity for you to recreate yourself anew in the next grandest version of the greatest vision ever you held about who you are. That’s the purpose of life, to recreate yourself anew in the next grandest version of the greatest vision ever you held about who you are. But here’s the catch. Most people don’t even have that vision. If you walk down the street with a clipboard or go to the local shopping mall and approach 100 people, “Hey, I’m taking a little survey. Would you mind participating?” Most people will say, “Yeah, what you got?” “Well, my first question is, what is the grandest version of the greatest vision ever you had about who you are?” They looked at you like you came from Mars.
I’ve done this. They look at you like you came from another planet. “What? What are you asking me?” “I’m asking you, what is the greatest vision you ever had about who you are?” It stops people cold. And then I say to them with gentle observation, “May I share with you but until you become clear about that, you won’t have any idea what in the world you’re doing here on this planet. You don’t even know what you’re doing. You don’t even know what you’re up to. You’re living literally event by event and trying to make the best of it.” What an interesting way to live a life and then you put your head on the pillow in the final moments of your experience and you go, “Wait a minute, was that it? Was that it? Is there nothing more than that?” My father used to say something to me that has struck me through the years. He once looked at me when he was 83. There were no tears in his eyes but there were sound of tears in his voice, the sound of regret. He looked at me and he said, “So old, so soon. So smart, so late.”
Hal Elrod: So old, so soon, so smart, so late. Neale, what you just said, I want to repeat this, at least as I wrote it down and correct me if I miss something, but to me this so much I’ve gotten from our conversation. And for anyone listening that this may have been, you know, if I had to choose a gem, what you just said about the purpose of life is to recreate yourself anew in the grandest version of the greatest vision you ever had about yourself. Is that close?
Neale Donald Walsch: Pretty close.
Hal Elrod: I love that because to me, I always feel that our life’s purpose should be something that we can backtest in every moment, right? Am I living my purpose in this moment?
Neale Donald Walsch: That purpose, Hal, can be reduced to one word. It’s a very poetic saying of a single word, evolution. The purpose of my soul’s experience, of my soul’s existence is evolution. That is to evolve, to in fact become the next grandest version of the greatest vision ever I held about who I am. That’s called evolution. And so, we get to look at all the events of our life and ask ourselves as those events arise, in what way is my evolution served by my response to what is now occurring? That’s a powerful question. In what way is my evolution is served by my response to what is now occurring? Do you know how many people walk the streets and ask themselves that kind of a question during the day?
Hal Elrod: Only those that read Conversations with God or one of your books. Not many. Neale, what’s now and what’s next for you? What are you in the present day and this period of your life? What are you really focused on, committed to, passionate about, and what do you see on the horizon?
Neale Donald Walsch: I’m committed to spreading and sharing the messages of Conversations with God as rapidly as far widespread as I can. That’s my commitment. I’m in the midst of writing a book. I’ve written 37 books. I’m in the midst of writing number 38. It’s called The God Dilemma. Let’s solve it together. And it talks about that if we could resolve the god dilemma, we could change the course of human history, and the direction in which our culture, our civilization is currently moving. So, you know, that’s what I do. I do workshops, retreats, and programs all over the world. I do programs online. I find myself in this interesting position, and I’ll probably be doing this if it was my last breath, and just constantly outflowing and seeing if we can make any kind of a difference in the world as we know it. So, that’s my passion is to – and that’s my exterior passion. My interior passion is to actually live that is to walk the talk, to live what I share. And that’s my biggest challenge. Because you know, I’m really able to articulate this message but stepping into the living of it moment to moment every day is not as easy for me and so I have an opportunity to meet that challenge.
I’m hoping that those around me, those close to me, those near to me will say even if I get there in the last five minutes of my life, you know, it was a struggle for him. He didn’t walk his talk every minute. He wasn’t the person you would think. It’s who produce those books might always be. He had his own challenges, his own faults, his own foibles, his own difficulties. “Boy, the last 10 minutes he finally got it.” And I have to say that the – and I don’t mean that ironically. I’m hoping that somewhere in as I get older, I can get to a place where I can feel that I really stepped into what was given to me because this is important to me, just to be very clear. This stuff isn’t coming from me. If I was the source of these things that are being said, I would really feel ashamed that I’m not walking my talk, but I can at least live with myself because I’m simply repeating what’s being given to me is coming through me. And now I’m trying to step into it like everyone else who reads the books and everyone else who hears the messages.
I’m in the same group trying to step into the living of it. So, if I can get there even 10 minutes before the game is over, and I have to say it’s been a wonderful, wonderful journey. So, all my family knows the four words I want on my tombstone and they’ve all promised to do and make sure those were the four words on my headstone when people visit my gravesite. It’s going to say, “Now that was fun.”
Hal Elrod: I love that. I love that when you walk into my home, it says enjoy every moment with a beautiful sunrise behind it because, yeah, isn’t that what it’s about? We’re here. Might as well have fun.
Neale Donald Walsch: And how we define fun becomes the mark and the measure of our life.
Hal Elrod: How do you define fun, Neale?
Neale Donald Walsch: So, that which brings joy, self-awareness, peace, and love to everyone whose life I touch. That’s fun. Let me share something with you. A few days ago, it was Christmas Day and Christmas morning, as we exchange our gifts with our loved ones, what moment do you feel the most inner joy? What moment do you feel has been the most fun for you? Is it when you open the gifts that someone has given you or is it when that loved one across the room begins to open the gift you’ve picked out for them that you thought about for days, maybe weeks that you finally managed to order online or found in a store somewhere? You can’t wait for them to open it and they open your gift and as they’re opening the gift you gave to them, your heart swells. And when you see the look on their face, you are complete. Not in the getting of the gifts. There’s joy in that for sure but the greatest joy is watching another open their gift from you. It’s often been said, no one crosses your path without a gift for you in their hand. But God said to me, “Neale, that’s a sweet sentiment, but you’ve got to reverse.” “Oh, really?” She said, “Neale. It’s this way. No one crosses your path. without you having a gift for them in your hands. Your invitation is to decide what it is and to give it full out then and there.”
Hal Elrod: Beautiful. Well, Neale, this has been a gift for me and it’s been a lot of fun. Fun as you defined it. Any last closing thoughts, words, prayers, affirmations for anyone listening?
Neale Donald Walsch: We’ll close with my answer to the question that I’ve been asked most often in all the interviews I’ve done over the past 25 years. Neale, of the 4,000 pages of Conversations with God dialogues, what is the single, if you had to pick out one, the single most meaningful message did you receive? I was asked that by interviewers all over the place. And my answer is the same every time. Here is the single most important message of Conversations with God, in my experience, and I would close with this. I asked God, why is my life working? What does it take to make life work? What is it I don’t understand the understanding of which would change everything? And he said, “Neale, it’s really very simple. Take this down.” Like I recall a gentle chuckle, not a derisive chuckle, but just a sweet chuckle the way you would chuckle at a three-year-old or a four-year-old asking you a question. She said, “Sweetheart, It’s really very simple. Do you think your life is about you? But your life has nothing to do with you. It’s about everyone whose life you touch, and the way in which you touch it.”
Hal Elrod: Beautiful and true. Well, Neale, it’s been an honor and a pleasure and a miracle to talk with you today and I thank you so much for your time, your wisdom. And at 76 years young, still out there living your truth, your purpose, and sharing the messages from Conversations with God with millions of people around the world. It’s such a wonderful life that you’re living and you’re touching so many other lives with your work. And I thank you for that.
Neale Donald Walsch: You’re very kind to say those things, Hal. I hope that one day I can deserve them.
Hal Elrod: All right. Until next time.
Neale Donald Walsch: Blessed be.
Hal Elrod: Hey, goal achievers. This is Hal again, and we just wrapped up the conversation with Neale and this is actually the first time I’ve recorded an outro. I always do it during the podcast, which you probably have noticed that. And I don’t know why, just conversation felt so complete. I didn’t want to add that in so I’m doing it now. So, I just want to say thanks for listening. I love you. I appreciate you. I hope you enjoyed that time with Neale and the wisdom. I mean, that’s one that I’m going to go back and listen to again. And again, his new book is The Essential Path. You can connect with him at NealeDonaldWalsch.com and also CWGConnect.com. And thank you so much for listening. Again, I love you, appreciate you, and I will talk to you all next week.
"That's the purpose of life, to recreate yourself anew in the next grandest version of the greatest vision ever you held about who you are."
Neale Donald Walsch
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