Reading Room

The Game of Life and How to Play It – Florence Scovell Shinn

“Most people consider life a battle, but it is not a battle, it is a game. “

“The superconscious mind is the God mind within each man, and is the realm of perfect ideas. In it is the ‘perfect pattern’ spokeReadingRoomShinnn of by Plato, The Divine Design for each person.”

“A person knowing the power of the word becomes very careful in his conversation. He has only to watch the reaction of his words to know that they do not ‘return void’. Through his spoken word, man is continually making laws for himself.”

“God’s plan for each man transcends the limitation of the reasoning mind, and is always the square of life, containing health, wealth, love and perfect self-expression. Many a man is building for himself in imagination a bungalow when he should be building a palace.”

In a nutshell

If life is thought of as a game, we are motivated to learn and apply the rules for our own happiness.

Until now, you may have conceived of life as a battle – your might and will against the rest, or alternatively the pain of constant struggle. However, if you were to see life as a game, you would worry less about the outcomes and focus on the rules and laws that can lead you to success. This is the path of less resistance and more time for world-wonder. By taking it, you choose to be a person of faith instead of fear.

For Florence Scovell Shinn, the rules were to be found in the Old and New Testaments. Much of what is presented in her 100-page classic, however, such as the Laws of Non-resistance, Karma, and Forgiveness, are to be found in eastern holy books. Indeed the stated goal of her work is universal: an individual can achieve the “square of life,” the four points of Health, Wealth, Love, and Perfect Self-Expression, if only they can attune themselves with the unchanging principles that govern life. This total wellbeing was, she believed, our “divine right.” Some of the principles from the book are described below.

The divine design

Do you ever get an inspirational flash across your mind, a picture of what you could achieve or the person you could be? You have received a snapshot of your “divine design” from the universe, showing you that this image is actually within yourself. Plato called it the “perfect pattern,” the place you are to fill that no one else can.

Don’t be like most people and pursue things that really have nothing to do with the real you, and would only make you dissatisfied if you were to achieve them. Ask for a sign or a message to tell you what your divine design is and it will be revealed. Don’t be scared that it won’t be what you want – it will most probably fulfil your deepest longing.

Divine right and selection

We should only ever ask for something if it is to be “by divine right.” A woman was infatuated with a man who from an outsider’s perspective did not treat her very well. Scovell Shinn made her repeat to herself something to the effect of: “If he is divinely selected for me, he will be mine. If he is not, I will not want him anyway.” Sure enough, she fell for someone else who matched all her ideals and promptly forgot the first man.

Another woman had a strong wish to live in a house owned by an acquaintance. This man died and she moved into the house, only to have her own husband die and the house become a white elephant for her. This was the karmic effect of a want that had not first been put before God, or infinite intelligence. It is good that we desire, but it is better that we seek what is ours “by divine right,” for when it is received we will know beyond any doubt that it is ours.


Playing the game of life successfully involves following what works, instead of battling what you don’t like. The book contains this insight, which intuitively we can all recognise: “So long as a man resists a situation, he will have it with him. If he runs away from it, it will run after him.”

The simple change from a view of life in terms of struggle and fight for victory to a simple faith in good outcomes will transform your life. You will get everything you want, and probably very quickly, if you don’t doubt it and you can “wish without worrying.” That is, you know that your wishes are being fulfilled. Fear is “sin,” it goes against nature, whereas faith is real, solid, and is what infinite intelligence or God requires from us in return for delivering our wishes. Faith is what links you to the universe: It expands your cosmic footprint, while fear can only shrink you.

Continually send out messages of goodwill and blessing to those close to you, to your work colleagues, even to your nation. This not only gives you a feeling of great peace, but you will find yourself “protected” from harm and wrath.

Faith over fear

“Cast thy burden upon the Lord.” Many times the Bible says that the battle is not humankind’s but God’s. What we must learn to do is “stand still” and let God, or the superconscious mind within, go to work. This bears a startling resemblance to the sayings of the Tao Te Ching, which suggests to us that if we are in tune with the Tao – or God, or universal intelligence – we need not worry or fear. In stillness we can see what must be done, if anything.

In Scovell Shinn’s world, “man violates law if he carries a burden.” It is actually wrong to fret and be cast down, as this is living by a false reality and can attract disaster and disease. Once we have cast the burden off, however, we are suddenly able to see clearly again. We feel reminded that we must live by faith, not fear.

Real love

A woman came to Scovell Shinn in desperation that the man she loved had left her for other women, and said he had no intention of marrying her. She did not like it when Scovell Shinn said to her, “You are not loving this man, you are hating him. Perfect yourself on this man, give him unselfish love, and bless him wherever he is.” The woman went away and nothing changed, but one day she started thinking of him with more love.

He was a captain and she always called him “the Cap.” She began to say, “God bless the Cap wherever he is.” Sometime later a letter arrived on Scovell Shinn’s desk: At the moment when the woman’s suffering had ceased, the man returned. The two were then very happily married. What the woman had learned was selfless love, a trait that all of us must acquire if we are to succeed in the game of life.

The power of words

Anyone who does not know the power of words, the author said, “is behind the times.” Each of us has an ongoing conversation with ourselves, never realising how it affects, for better or worse, the way we live out our life. Whatever words we say to ourselves fall into the blank slate of our subconscious mind as “fact,” therefore we must take supreme care about the internal and external words we utter.

The people who came to see Scovell Shinn asked her to “speak the word.” She gave them an affirmation for their particular situation that they were to repeat until their “good” manifested itself. She quoted Proverbs 18.21: “Death and Life are in the power of the tongue.”

“God is my supply”

Many of Scovell Shinn’s clients came to her in desperation – one needed $3,000 by the first of the month to repay a debt, another had to find an apartment soon or would be on the streets. She would remind them that “God is my supply,” to stop worrying and fretting.

She made them affirm: “Spirit is never too late. I give thanks that I have received the money on the invisible plain and that it manifests on time.” One woman had only a day to go until a payment was due, and a cousin happened to visit her who asked, as he was leaving, “By the way, how are your finances?” Her payment was made the next day.

Nevertheless, it is not enough merely to say the right words and have faith: We need to demonstrate to our subconscious mind that we seriously expect to receive. “Man must prepare for the thing he has asked for, when there isn’t the slightest sign of it in sight.” Open the bank account, buy the furniture, prepare for rain when there is no cloud in sight – “acting as if” opens the way for the moment of gain. The knowledge that “a feeling of opulence must precede its manifestation” will reinforce to you that God is your supply.

Final comments

Although written in the New York of the 1920s and full of religious references, this shortish book now has cult status. The anecdotes may be of people now long gone but the wisdom is timeless, and the book can have a soothing effect that brings us back to the right principles. To borrow one of the author’s phrases, the book “salutes the divinity” in us and has the knack of restoring a sense of direction and confidence. If you are willing to keep an open mind as you read it, its insights and affirmations can have great effects.

This copy was taken from 50 Self-help Classics, written and compiled by Tom Butler-Bowdon.

Posted in Reinvention | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Reading Room

The Power of Your Subconscious Mind – Joseph Murphy

“The result of the affirmative process of prayer depends on your conforming to the principles of life, regardless of appearances. Consider for a momReadingRoomMurphyent that there is a principle of mathematics and none of error; there is a principle of truth but none of dishonesty. There is a principle of intelligence but none of ignorance; there is a principle of harmony and none of discord. There is a principle of health but none of disease, and there is a principle of abundance but none of poverty.”

“Whatever is impressed in your subconscious mind is expressed on the screen of space. This same truth was proclaimed by Moses, Isaiah, Jesus, Buddha, Zoroester, Laotze and all the illumined seers of the ages. Whatever you feel as true subjectively is expressed as conditions, experiences, and events. As in heaven – your own mind – so on earth – in your body and environment. This is the great law of life.”

“The law of your mind is the law of belief. This means to believe in the way your mind works is to believe in belief itself.”

In a nutshell

By understanding how the subconscious mind works, you can learn how dreams become reality. Dr. ]oseph Murphy spent a good part of his life studying eastern religions and was a scholar of the I-Ching, the Chinese book of divination whose origins are lost in history. He was also, for 28 years, Minister at the Los Angeles branch of the Church of Divine Science, a New Thought church that promotes a practical spirituality, free of the usual religious creed and dogma.

It is a long way from the ancient East to LA, but Murphy felt that there were secrets he had found concerning the subconscious that were beyond time and culture, and that they should find a wider audience.

How the subconscious works and what it can do

Murphy saw the subconscious mind as a darkroom within which we develop the images that are to be lived out in real life. While the conscious mind sees an event, takes a picture of it, and remembers it, the subconscious mind works backwards, “seeing” something before it happens. This is why intuition is infallible.

The subconscious responds to habit and habitual thinking. Being totally neutral in a moral sense, it is happy to adopt any habit as “normal” – good or bad. We blithely let negative thoughts drop into the subconscious every minute of our lives, then are surprised when they find expression in day-to-day experiences and relationships. While there are some things that will happen to us that we had no role in creating, in fact these are rare. Mostly the bad that happens is in us already, waiting for the light of day.

This is the harsh reality, but knowledge of the subconscious also delivers us a breakthrough: It means that we can remake ourselves anew simply by controlling the thoughts and images with which we feed it. This makes Murphy’s book, with its instructions and affirmations that will have the greatest effect on the subconscious, a tool of liberation. Understanding your subconscious mind as a photographic mechanism removes the emotion and struggle from changing your life, because if it is simply a matter of replacing existing mental images with new ones, you begin to see the ease with which you may change.

Relaxed faith = results

The subconscious is an entirely different kettle of fish to the conscious mind. It cannot be coerced, responding best to relaxed faith that it will do its transforming work with ease. Trying hard, which may work for a task given to the conscious mind, is a cause of failure with its subterranean other half. It suggests to your subconscious that there is a lot of opposition to what you want done.

Along with relaxed faith, the ease with which the subconscious accomplishes things increases with emotion. An idea or a thought alone may excite the rational, conscious mind, but the subconscious likes things to be “emotionalised.” When a thought becomes a feeling, and imagination becomes desire, it will deliver what you want with speed and abundance.

Yet Murphy said that it is less important to know how your subconscious works than to develop the faith that it can. William James, the father of American psychology, believed that the greatest discovery of the nineteenth century was the power of the subconscious mind added to faith. The idea that you can change your life by changing the landscape of your mind may not have appeared in history books alongside the discovery of new continents or electricity or steam, but all the great minds have known it.

Believing it to be so

“The law of your mind is the law of belief itself,” Murphy noted. What we believe makes us who we are. William James observed that whatever people expect to be true will be so, irrespective of whether the object of their belief exists. In the West we have made “the truth” our highest value; this motivation, while important, is weak next to the actual power of belief in shaping our lives. Whatever you give your subconscious – false or true, good or evil – it will register as fact. Be careful not to joke about misfortune, as the subconscious has no sense of humour.

A mentally disturbed person and a healthy person share the same power of belief; the sane differ from the insane only in that they retain objectivity about their beliefs. When a man in a hospital says he is Elvis Presley, he is not “making it up,” he knows he is Elvis. We must use this same power for constructive ends, not wishing but knowing that we are a perfect spouse or a business genius. The trick is to choose to know something that seems almost mad but not quite – something that seemed impossible to us a year ago, yet at the same time would be an enactment of our heart’s desire.

Health and prosperity

In the rituals of ancient times, with their weird mixtures and incantations, it was the power of suggestion and acceptance in the subconscious mind that healed. Even today, doctors report the power of placebos to produce miraculous recoveries if they are accompanied by doubt-free instructions that “this will do the trick.” Miracles of healing, Murphy said, are simply the body obeying the subconscious mind’s knowledge of “perfect health” when the questioning nature of the normal conscious mind is silenced.

The other aspect of mental healing is the premise that our individual minds are part of a larger human mind (as Emerson believed), which itself is linked to “infinite intelligence.” This is why it is not crazy, Murphy claimed, to believe that you can heal people who are not even physically near to you, by visualising all the health, energy, and love in the universe applied to that person, the life force pulsing through every cell of their body, cleaning and invigorating as it goes.

As there is a principle of health and harmony in the universe, so there is a principle of abundance. “The trouble with most people is that they have no invisible means of support,” commented Murphy. Others, aware of the law of abundance, will not be thrown into a nervous breakdown if their bank account goes into the red or their business is lost. They will understand it as a message to get re-attuned and reacquainted with the fact of a prosperous universe.

The “feeling of wealth,” Murphy said, produces wealth in reality. The subconscious mind understands and follows the idea of compound interest. That is, little thought deposits made regularly over time compound to produce a large principal of mental abundance. He shows the reader exactly how to send the right signals to their subconscious to make sure that these abundant images manifest themselves in the real world.

Why prayers are usually in vain

Our universe is one of law and order, Murphy wrote, therefore there should be nothing “mystical” about getting answers to our prayers. It is a process no more mysterious than the erection of a building. One who knows the workings of the subconscious mind will learn how to pray “scientifically.”

What does this mean? Prayers traditionally consist of earnest utterances to God followed by “hoping for the best.” Logically, however, such prayers will carry little weight or power because they are framed in doubt. It is the great irony of conventional prayer (the pleading, wishing, hoping variety) that it involves no faith. Real faith is simple: the knowledge that something is happening, is being provided, present tense. When prayers become occasions to give thanks for the fact of assistance (even if it has yet to materialise), they cease to be a mystical ritual that we hope God will notice, and become a co-creating process with definite ends.

Final comments

The Power of Your Subconscious Mind is simply written and tries to be free of culture or religion. It is slightly repetitive, but this in itself mirrors the book’s idea of subconscious programming. The first half is the best, as it explains how the subconscious works. The second half deals with its role and power to transform in areas like marriage, human relations, scientific discovery, sleep, fear, forgiveness, and “eternal youth.” For full effect, the author’s advice that it be read at least twice should be taken.

To some the book will be somewhat “way out,” but many people say that their life was not the same after reading it. The subconscious is a powerful thing, and what you get from Murphy is the realisation that if you refuse to try to understand the non-rational mind, your rational desires and plans will be forever sabotaged.

This copy was taken from 50 Self-help Classics, written and compiled by Tom Butler-Bowdon.

Posted in Reinvention | Tagged , | Leave a comment