Chat Interview with Neale Donald Walsch by IVillage.com
iVillager cl-bosbaby: Neale, could you tell us a little about yourself and your book?
Neale Donald Walsch: I'm an ordinary person that had an extraordinary experience. Conversations with God has sold many copies. It's been translated, too. Four other books have followed, and each has been on the New York Times bestseller list. My latest book is Communion with God.
iVillager cherry_50: How long have you been writing, and how long did it take you to publish your first book?
Neale Donald Walsch: I have been writing since I was seven years old. I was a newspaper reporter when I was in my twenties and thirties, and I've written for magazines also. As for my first book: it was accepted by a publisher almost immediately.
iVillager tonir2000: What lesson do you think the family of a person with a mental illness can learn from living with the disease of a loved one?
Neale Donald Walsch: I wouldn't try to answer that question. I believe each soul creates its own experience, that it has its own agenda. It is unique; it is interwoven with our collective experiences. There could be many lessons to be learned from this mental illness -- but it would be dishonoring them to articulate what that lesson might mean to an indivivual person. However; all life experiences are intended to give us tools for the next, grander version of our lives.
iVillager cl-bosbaby: Is this a book for all denominations?
Neale Donald Walsch: Certainly.
iVillager pjt52000: Could you share your experience with us?
Neale Donald Walsch: That's a broad question. My experiences span all five of my books. To summarize it briefly is difficult: but in short, I reached a spiritual crisis. I asked God for answers to life's difficult questions, and I received the answers in the form of direct inspiration. Then I wrote them down. They became a five-book series about the nuances of this experience. My experience has been valuable to millions of people; they can really relate to it. I'm very grateful for this. All of us long to make a worthwhile contribution to the lives of others.
iVillager cl-caresbear: While you were writing these books, did you have any idea that they would be such a success? Also, do you feel that these books came from you or from God?
Neale Donald Walsch: No, I never thought they would be widely read. The answers -- and therefore my experience -- did come from God. All inspiration comes from God. Mozart's music, Michelangelo's genius: it all comes from God. Insights come from God. I want to make this clear: all of us are being inspired by God, each and every day. Some of us are listening; others are not. Some take it seriously; others laugh it off. Some open themselves up; others close down. That's the difference.
iVillager sunny524:Do you believe that coincidences do not exist, and that God in His infinite wisdom has planned out our lives?
Neale Donald Walsch: Well, I don't believe in coincidences. But I don't think God has our lives planned out. Life is a series of choices, made of our own free will. There is no pre-planning involved on God's part. If He has a "plan" for us, why wouldn't He just tell us what that plan is? Why would he leave us in the dark, groveling around down here trying to figure things out? he reason we cannot figure out his "plan" is because God does not have a plan. Life encounters life, and produces more life. This causes us to notice who we are. Then we can recreate ourselves anew, in a grander version of ourselves, if we choose to do so. Some anthropologists call this evolution. God's "plan" is that we will evolve; the degree to which we do so depends on us.
iVillager cl-bosbaby: Before your crisis, were you very "into" God?
Neale Donald Walsch: No.
iVillager feathersfriend: Do you believe, then, that it is our communion with God that permits learning and personal achievement?
Neale Donald Walsch: It permits everything. It is our state of being. Without communion with God we would not be, nor would God be. So, communion with God is the First Cause. In that sense, one could say that he "permits" something.
iVillager japicazo: What difference has this inspiration from God -- in the form of your books - made in your life?
Neale Donald Walsch: My relationships with others have been improved; my relationship with God bas been improved; and my relationship with myself has been improved. In fact, my life has been improved on every level. Plus, I'm in better health, and my financial circumstances are wonderful. The satisfaction and fulfillment in my life is complete. Truly, if my life ended tomorrow, I could say that I was perfectly happy.
iVillager cl-caresbear: What about the philosophy that this life is only a testing-ground, so to speak, for our "real" life in the afterlife?
Neale Donald Walsch: I don't believe that life is a test at any level. It is my awareness that life is an opportunity, not a challenge; an adventure, not a test. Life is a process in which we are invited to remember and recreate the person we really are. It is a process of evolution. The so-called afterlife is a continuation of this life in a different form, as are all of the other earthly lives we'll lead after this one, and as all of our previous lives are. There's no need for a test of any kind. We have nothing to achieve or accomplishment. You can say a flower is being tested, or that a seedling, becoming a tree, is tested. The tree is simply becoming more tree. There is no "test" in this; it's just a process of growing and becoming. That's what trees do -- and that's what we do.
iVillager cl-da-storm: Could you tell us about your organization, Recreation, and why you created it?
Neale Donald Walsch: Sure. I created it with my wife Nancy, in the hopes that others around us would respond. Now, our website gets 600 emails a week, and we reply to all of them. The foundation also created programs and activities to assist people all over the world who wish to share the message of conversation with God. It is a non-profit organization, called a 501C. It receives contributions from many people, year-round. You can get more information at www.conversationswithgod.org.
iVillager fiona_00: What about destiny? I believe that God does have a plan for us, and that it's our choice whether to follow it or not.
Neale Donald Walsch: That is not my understanding. As I said earlier: if God had a plan for us, why would he keep it a secret? Why wouldn't He make it plain? Why make us search for our life plan for so many years? We spend so long searching for a purpose because God has not given our lives a purpose. The function of life is to evolve, to become grander version of ourselves. That is the function of life. Function and purpose is not the same thing. The purpose of life is life itself. It just is. We just are. We have been and will be. Individual life is what we create for ourselves not what is given by God. Life is not a process of discovery it is a process of creation. Do not wait for God to tell you what to do with your life, tell God what you intend to do with your life. Someone said, and it is true, that life is God's gift to us. What we do with it is our gift to God. That is profoundly true.
iVillager 2crft4fr: So you believe that with God's help we can change -- and that's the definition of evolution?
Neale Donald Walsch: Yes. We can express our thanks in thought and action -- or we can fail to do so. The way in which we live our lives is our response to God.
iVillager feathersfriend: How do you account for those high achievers or talented people who do not believe in, or commune with, any higher power? Are they simply undergoing their own journey?
Neale Donald Walsch: Belief in an higher power is not a requirement for the existence of that higher power. God does not refuse to help those who do not have faith in them. The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. Love is an unconditional experience; it flows outward from its source unto all. Nothing has to be done to receive it, use it, or give it. We don't have to know that we are using the power of God to use it: you use that power every time you take a breath, or feel an emotion. Belief in God is not required. People can live successful lives with out belief in God. They are with God, but are calling Him something else: like luck, coincidence, intuition, good fortune, or street smarts. Nevertheless, a rose by any other name is still a rose. The reality of God remains a reality, whether we believe it or not.
iVillager tonir2000: How do you tell the difference between your emotions, and the divine essence that guides you?
Neale Donald Walsch: There is no difference. Until you understand this your emotions can be expressions of divinity, they will seem to separate you from God's wisdom and insight. As we begin to experience our reality, our emotions become part of God's divinity.
iVillager cl-dastorm: In parochial school, I was taught that God created us in original sin. My question to you, which the nuns never answered in school, is this: if God is so loving and forgiving, why does He continue to punish us for something that happened centuries ago?
Neale Donald Walsch : My answer to that is in all of my books. It's just too detailed to summarize here. I will tell you this: the essential teachings of the Church and of other organized religions are well intentioned, but bear little resemblance to reality.
iVillager scrapple: Are you a Quaker?
Neale Donald Walsch: No, I belong to no organization or religious philosophy. I do love much of what the Quakers have to say, though.
iVillager cl-dastorm: Do you believe in reincarnation?
Neale Donald Walsch: Yes.
iVillager cl-bosbaby: May I ask you how old you are?
Neale Donald Walsch: I'm 57. I feel that I am 57 years young. I'm in perfect health. I plan to live to a ripe old age -- unless I don't. I have lived through the good and the bad, the happiness and the adventure
iVillager tonir2000: Do you think past-life regression is helpful to the soul's journey?
Neale Donald Walsch: Everything that is experienced in life helps the soul's journey. If something wasn't helpful, it wouldn't be happening.
iVillager cl-dastorm: What is the most important message of Communion with God?
Neale Donald Walsch: It's this: all of life is an illusion. When you learn to use this illusion, you approach mastery. That's what I have described as evolution. It is important to realize that nothing that we see is real -- that we are quite literally making it all up.
I'm happy to have been here! Good night.
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