There is a power in the universe that has a very peculiar characteristic. It enables things to happen.
Some people call it "grace," some call it "infinite intelligence," some call it "the Holy Spirit." In Arabic it's called baraka, in Chinese it's called li, and in Hawaiian it's either wai ola (water of life) or kumu uli po (invisible steering foundation - from David Malo). There are many other terms in different languages, of course.
Some people think it comes from "God" by many various names, and some people think it's just there. Some people think you have to be a special person to experience it, or to do or say something special like a ritual, or to be initiated by someone else who has it, or attain a special state of purity or whatever, or to fulfill some other qualification.
To begin with, let's acknowledge that its very existence is theoretical. In other words, it's an interpretation of phenomena. In this world of ours we all experience phenomena - sunshine, rain, gravity, electromagnetism, pain, pleasure, happiness, unhappiness, etc. and etc. Experiences and circumstances are phenomena, too. After we experience phenomena, depending on our level of curiosity, we usually try to interpret the phenomena. That is, we create theories about why something is the way it is, how it works, and so on. Sometimes these theories can be tested and sometimes they can't.
A good example of the latter would be the main conflicting theories about how the universe came to be. In the United States these are generally divided into the Judeao-Christian theory that God created the universe and its ensuing order by an act of will, and the so-called Scientific theory that it all started with a Big Bang and the ensuing order was either by happenstance or a "natural" effect of the bang itself. The thing is, neither of these theories can be tested. As long as they are thought of as theories, they are merely interpretations of phenomena, but when they are assumed to be true they become articles of faith. This kind of faith can be very useful to individuals for whom it gives a sense of emotional security, but neither one of these theories can be tested, and when the believers of either one begin to fight each other it looks absurd.
The theories of electromagnetism, on the other hand, can be tested, and for the most part they have proven extremely useful for most people around the world. This doesn't mean that the theories are necessarily true, it only means that they are useful. In fact (no pun intended), one thing that makes them so useful is that they are usually treated as theories by the people who use them and remain open to modification of the theories or the appearance of new ones. Theories of healing can be tested, too, and like the theories of electromagnetism, they are most useful when they are allowed to be modified or replaced by others as the occasion requires.
So, what about the theory of an "Enabling Power?" Well, this theory can also be tested.
The way to test a theory is to begin with an observation of phenomena, then to come up with assumptions about how the the phenomena are produced, and finally to devise a way to test the assumptions in such a way that anyone who understands the theory will be able to reproduce the experiment and get the same results.
The theory of the enabling power has been around for a very long time, and very clear instructions have been provided in numerous times and places of how to access it or to put it into action in specific ways. Nevertheless, in spite of more availability than ever in these modern times, the theory is very rarely tested in the way that it was meant to be. In the past this was sometimes due in part to the obscure way in which the theory was explained.
Here is a related quote by Kumarajiva, an Indian Buddhist: "When one is free from both evil and good, one's inner potentiality identifies with the higher reality."
And here is a related quote from the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tse: "Oftentimes without intention I see the wonder of Tao; oftentimes with intention I see its manifestations. The wonder and the manifestations are one and the same."
In Book One of the Yogic Aphorisms of Patanjali it assumes that the reader already knows about the Enabling Power and says, "It is perfectly all right to form mental patterns, so as to direct the flow of this ever-moving Life Force into form for the purpose of taking dominion, or for the purpose of setting up a situation."
All of these are rather abstract, and not easily understood without a lot of explanation.
In 1910 a man named Wallace Wattles published The Science of Getting Rich, in which he lays out his version of the theory and its practical application. In his book he says that the theory is of Hindu origin, and that it is the foundation of the philosophies of Descartes, Spinoza, Leibnitz, Schopenauer, Hegel, and Emerson. Here is a quote from his summary:
There is a thinking stuff from which all things are made... A thought in this substances produces the thing that is imaged by this thought... Man must form a clear and definite mental image of the things he wishes to have, to do, or to become... Too much stress cannot be laid on the importance of frequent contemplation of the mental image, coupled with unwavering faith and devout gratitude."
A British writer, James Allen, published a work in 1902 called As A Man Thinketh. That he had grasped the basic concept is evident in the poem he wrote as a preface to his book:
"Mind is the Master power that moulds and makes,However, while his book speaks of thought, desire, and action, it does not mention faith, belief, or expectation. Not surprisingly, Allen started out poor and ended up poor, while Wattles started out poor and ended up very well off in every way.
And Man is Mind, and evermore he takes
The tool of Thought and, shaping what he wills,
Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills.
He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass:
Environment is but his looking-glass
Another writer from the same period was William Atkinson, also known as Yogi Ramacharaka, who published Mind-Power in 1912. Although nearly the entire book is devoted to the development of desire, will, and imagination as a way of accessing the Enabling Power, in the last chapter, as part of a list of twelve faculties which need to be developed "by the man who wishes to gain the dynamic qualities," he calls "Earnest Expectation" one of the three "features of success," and says further:
Be not a mere dreamer or visionary, but cultivate desire; then develop earnest expectation; then will to act. Each of these is necessary.
I could quote from hundreds of books that contain the same idea, but here is an exceptionally clear quote that's about two thousand years old: "I say to you whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says shall come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." (Mark 11:23-24 RSV)"
It's hard to be more clear than that, but for some reason even good Christians either just won't try it, or still don't really understand it. Please note that nothing is said here about having to do or be anything special before this can happen, nor is there any such thing in the preceding or following verses.
If we accept the above instructions as a way of accessing this Enabling Power (by whatever name we choose to give it), then it's clear that prayer (or whatever else you want to call deciding what you want) by itself is not enough. The critical factor is belief. Now, if everyone agreed on what "belief" means, there would be less of a problem, but some people think of it as a wishy-washy kind of "hopeful wishing," others as an abstract concept of "faith," and still others just can't accept that there isn't any more to it.
And yet, it really is that simple. Decide what you want, and expect to get it. What you need most of all is confident expectation, or no doubt in your heart. If words and images help you to clarify what you want, then use them, and if words and images plus strong desire help you achieve confident expectation or remove doubt, then use them for that. The tricky thing is that you can't cheat. You can't just say the right words, and you can't just hold the right images, and you can't just build up a strong desire. The full power doesn't manifest until you have no doubt in your heart. It won't work just by using confidence like a bandaid. The real key is confident expectation, which is the same as no doubt.
To understand this better, think about an electrical or electronic device that you might have around the house. There are a lot of superficial reasons why it might stop working, but the essential reason would have to be that electricity isn't reaching the motor or the motivating component. Right now I have a computer sitting on one of my desks that isn't working. Actually, the computer worked fine at the repair shop, and it worked fine when I got it home, but it stopped working when I plugged in a firewire cord. The superficial problem is a defective firewire input. According to electromagnetic theory, however, the real problem is that when that input is connected, electricity can't get to the computer.
My wife and I travel a lot and we always have great good luck when we do, even if we experience lost luggage, flight delays, or missing itineraries. It isn't because we are lucky. We are lucky because we expect good fortune. As my wife puts it, "It's like riding an escalator. You do all the planning and you buy the tickets and you get on the plane and the rest just happens."
On the other hand, we are presently [at the time of the original writing] in the process of selling our house, but it isn't happening. The superficial problems are that the timing isn't right, the market has changed, interest rates have gone up, and so on. But according to the Enabling Power theory, each of us still has too much doubt in our hearts. Superficial doubts, like "Will we find the right house?" or "Where should we live?" are not important. What's really in the way is the heartfelt doubt that says, "Do we really want to do this?" Until that's resolved, confident expectation can't reach the Enabling Power to turn it on.
In your own life, for big things or little things (the Enabling Power doesn't care if you want a million dollars or a good pair of shoes), practice developing the feeling of confident expectation or the feeling of no doubt. You do this by first remembering or noticing things in your life that happen easily, without effort, once you've put your emotional attention on them. Then you do your best to remember how you felt after that. Sometimes it's a feeling of just "knowing" that something will happen, and sometimes it a feeling of not caring whether it does or doesn't. "No doubt" is the key factor in both cases. Finally, you practice thinking about what you want and feeling the "no doubt" feeling at the same time. When those two things click into place, stuff happens.
ADDENDUM: Our house sold almost six months after this article was written. Three months after the article my wife and I assumed a state of confident expectation and bought another house and moved in even before the old house was sold. Then we took a walk through our old house, complimenting each room, thanking it for the good memories, and saying a formal goodbye. We left it with no doubt about finding a buyer and one showed up immediately with a cash offer at a time when no other homes had any offers. We had to adjust our asking price, which was our "action" component, and the sale went off without a hitch.