What is of primary interest is the belief-system itself. Belief systems are personal, built of patterns both biological and cultural. While some psychologists say everything is genetic, and some mysticists say everything is spiritual, the apparent truth lies somewhere in between.
There is a recurring system which finds its way through self-help, psychology, and also the ancient socio-religious Huna belief-system, which predates (and may have influenced or even founded) Eastern religions. These share the idea (though not synchronous definitions) of a super-conscious mind (God, or Universal Mind, or Amakua in Huna), a conscious mind (Lana in Huna), and a subconscious mind (Ku in Huna). Haanel covers this, as well as Wayne Dyer, King, Tolle, Talbot, and many others who didn't make this Bibliography. Such commonalities are made possible through the use of this engine so far. Below is a summation of what has been derived from many different sources I've examined to date.
People build their belief-system patterns on a genetic level, a subconscious level, and a conscious level, with spiritual or superconscious influence(s). The DNA gives some patterns on a genetic level (while some evidence exists that this is being re-written constantly and isn't just what your parent's gave you). The subconscious is a continually operating, rational part of the mind which is constantly recording and learning from all inputs. As the subconscious is responsible for all autonomic responses as well as recording all memories, this particular part of the mind is both shock-proof and eidetic in all senses and emotions. The subconscious is constantly learning and protecting the conscious from overloading and overwhelming content the physical universe is constantly generating. The conscious is the higher-reasoning part of the mind. The conscious gets its data via the subconscious, which controls the senses and filters data from them. While the subconscious can only do “straight-ahead” reasoning, the conscious is capable of true rational thought, being able to compare and contrast and imagine. Where the conscious depends on the emotive content of the subconscious, the results can be erratic and even insane. Where the conscious shuts down the input from the subconscious, that individual can appear stupid or insensible, dull. The superconscious, or Higher Intelligence/Amakua, gives inspiration, intuition and the occasional visionary glimpse. These powers are pretty far above the average (and most better-than-average) abilities. There is a very good discussion of the four pattern sources in above paragraph in King's Mastering Your Hidden Self.
Culturally, one is constantly involved in various actions and reactions in the world surrounding us. Society demands certain modes of response to the demands our “civilized” society brings. Influences such as the Internet and our broader access to data bring new patterns to confront, both from history and from other cultures a world away from ours.
Making sense out of all this is our constant challenge. We develop our belief-system to make all these patterns interlock with each other. To the degree one succeeds in correlating all these disrelated patterns is the degree of sanity a person attains. The points of unresolved patterns that we operate from show where one has “irrational” responses to various input. Psychotherapy, NLP practitioners and many self-help therapies work entirely to remove the “insane” emotional content or to help the individual confront these various incidents in their entirety so that they can be analytically studied and the pattern adjusted or resolved.
People are constantly reviewing and evolving their personal thought patterns. Just as the cells in the body are being constantly replaced with slightly different versions, so are both the subconscious and conscious working to update their patterns and so evolve with their ever-changing world. The subconscious is constantly recording the environment around it. The conscious is always evaluating data and working to make sense of it. The conscious is knowingly or unknowingly assisted by the subconscious as the latter brings up suitable patterns for the conscious to use as a solution. (Ever wonder why certain actions consistently “tick you off”?) These patterns have emotional content and are deemed survival by the subconscious as they are always acted on and used to ensure survival. The conscious can review these patterns and adjust them to make them more accurate or eliminate them entirely. Prayer and/or Meditation can bring further insights into these patterns from the Universal Mind/Allah/God. Such insights enable the person to change these patterns or reinforce them.
Belief systems are built on habit. Habits are behavior patterns which are ingrained in the daily or regular actions of the individual. Some habits are useful, such as driving a car or eating a meal using the proper utensils. Other habits can be socially unacceptable, or possibly destructive, such as smoking or any other addiction. However, the subconscious can be trained to not use these patterns by simply consciously doing another pattern in that situation for between three to four weeks. Smoking for instance, can be changed into drinking water whenever that certain urge shows up. It does take discipline, and the unconscious works to reinforce these original habitual patterns, but nevertheless, it is simply a trained-in pattern and can be changed through conscious action and discipline. Hill has a great deal to say about changing habits in Think and Grow Rich as well as later books.
The four-way for this is Faith, Vision, Gratitude, and Action. These are principally derived from New Thought works.
Vision is simply the ability and practice of developing a representational idea of what one wants and needs manifested. As one practices this and develops one's skills in this area. Almost everyone does this, even if they think they can't “see” things well “in their head”. Visualization isn't the only way to make a vision. Many people “feel” things are right or wrong. If you can get an idea about the way you want something to turn out, a concept with or without visual accompaniment, you are on your way to achieving that result.
Vision is always what you want it to turn out. Think small and that's what you get. Dream big and take the actions to achieve it, then this is what is going to turn out. Napoleon Hill in Think and Grow Rich covers this in some detail. The whole of his approach is to have you work out your plan and get a burning desire to have this manifest – and then it does.
Most all the books I've covered on self-help mention this in some way. This is the point New Thought authors make when they say Thought creates Form. The more complete the thought, the more complete the manifestation. As well, complete faith in the Universal Mind (as covered below under the Nature four-way) can trust that the universe will create for you what you need most. This isn't blind faith, but a thorough trust in a concept and then working daily to make that happen.
The difference between daydreaming and effective visualization is how detailed the plan and how it is put into effect. When you daydream, you make no real connection to how to achieve this in the physical universe. The architect starts every building he plans with a concept, much as the daydreamer. The difference is his precision planning of how thick the walls are and what material they are constructed with. He plans out the electrical, the plumbing and the foundation as well as the roof. He gets detail-intensive and is able to hand these plans over to a contractor to build.
Your vision has to have the same detail and planning in it. You have to take action on your vision and do what you can in the real world to make it happen. There has to be a positive attitude forwarding that vision backed up by action. King points out that if you spend 5 percent meditating on what you want and then 95 percent doing something else or opposite to it, then you haven't a chance of getting it – because you are working against yourself.
This is how affirmations fail. They aren't backed up by action. Increasing action, in alignment with vision, requires an increase in faith and gratitude.
Many different authors recognize giving thanks or having gratitude for the manifestations in one's life. King has this feeling used to end off passive meditation/prayer. Braden says that gratitude and appreciation are key feelings which translate through our body to create changes in the quantum hologram. Tolle covers that point that only by honoring, acknowledging, and fully accepting the reality around you, will you be grateful for the reality around you. Only in this way will you then be able to have increased the quality of reality around you.
As a side note, Braden feels that our bodies are the via to communicate with the quantum hologram, much as an antenna broadcasts our needs and reality to the larger universal intelligence. This seems to deal with the situation (covered in the section on prayer/meditation above) of attuning the body to an alpha brainwave state or one of relaxation in order to transmit to the quantum hologram. (Hill also stated in his book that the brain is simply an antenna, used to send and receive thoughts.)
Having gratitude in a relaxed mode brings you into better confront of the world you have created. It is an acknowledgment of what is. Tolle covers this in various parts of his book – it is requisite to achieving enlightenment and a state of personal peace/bliss that a person simply accepts what is, and then peace will come. Another salient point is that this acceptance implies no resistance to what is. Both Tolle and King mention that when encountering problematic thought-patterns during meditation, ones containing doubt or other negative emotions, acceptance is a simple method of handling these if they cannot be pushed away or “shrugged off”.
The concept of Now, as covered by Tolle, seems key to the point of meditation and prayer. When a person truly discovers his base in the Now, then the future and past are merely tools which can be used to enhance the quality of life in the Now. Both future and past become changeable. One can remove or de-energize negative emotional charge in the past, by various therapies. One can postulate or create or simply examine and choose new alternate realities before they happen and so manifest that universe you truly want.
David Steindl-Rast, in Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer, points out that gratefulness requires intellect, will and emotions to coordinate to achieve real thanksgiving. He points out that gratitude actually acknowledges the gift and completes the action. He agrees with Braden that there is a heartfelt action of feeling which is necessary to any prayer. This then brings it full circle to show that there is a positive emotive content to prayer, which aligns to the Universal Mind and assists in co-creating manifestations.
Note: there is a distinction between Gratitude and Gift. Again, we have synonymic differences possible, as gratitude is an action of completion and can be considered as gratefulness or acknowledgment. Gift is more conceived to be a state encompassing the totality of the action. Gift might also be a talent, not just a static present. There is more exploration to do in this area; this analytic engine isn't itself a set-in-stone method, but is designed to be flexible.
All of what you believe is what you see around you. It isn't as the aphorism goes, “Well, I'm from Missouri and you're just going to have to show me.” First you believe and then you see it.
Faith is a generated energy. There is no limit to it. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Have faith and it occurs. Don't and it won't. Get rid of any self-doubt and see things occur in your life in volume. Consider Matthew 9:29, “According to your faith, it will be done to you,” and Mark 9:23 “Everything is possible for him who believes.”
One of the nine points Wayne Dyer talks about in Manifest Your Destiny: The Nine Spiritual Principles for Getting Everything You Want is to honor your own worthiness to receive what you pray for. You must have faith in yourself and trust in the inherent rightness of your decisions in order to be effective in life.
Your vision will never achieve actuality in the physical universe if you continue to harbor self-doubt and uncertainty about yourself. This one point is the first taken up in by Peale. He points out that the greatest secret to eliminating self-doubt is to “fill your mind to overwhelming with faith”. He goes on to say that this is accomplished by prayer. At another point, he tells one to read the four Gospels and highlight all the positive statements in it. The key, as covered below in the next four-way, is to have a personal belief-system you can put faith into, one which supports you in your every action in living life. You have a vision for yourself; you must also back it up with personal faith.
Moreover, faith is personal trust in self. It, too, is a habit. One considers certain observed relations to be true. (As above, opinions held as fact are truth to the individual.) By constantly reinforcing these, faith in something being true or becoming true becomes a habit.
Hill tells his readers from his first chapter to set out what they want to accomplish, then read it morning, noon, and night until it is memorized – and then continue reading it aloud several times each day with complete assurance and full emotive realization that these goals have in fact been achieved.
You can see from just the description above, that one is building a very strong habit in one's life. As you do work to achieve these known goals (a vital daily action per all self-help authors, not just King and Wattles) they become your reality and so manifest. The more you work at these, the more you devote your full resources to them, the faster and more fully they manifest.
This isn't just my opinion, read the books in the bibliography and you'll find many personal examples where people have found this particular approach highly workable in their own life.