spiritual writings | retreat center directory

You're invited to visit our sister site DanJoseph.com, a resource site
featuring articles on spirituality, psychology, and A Course in Miracles.

Home | Community | Columns | Alan Cohen: What to Ask For   

"What to Ask For" featured on SpiritSite.com, is Copyright © 2002 by Alan Cohen. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"Emerson noted that a wise man in a storm prays not for the end of the storm, but for the end of fear."


  Alan Cohen, 
What to Ask For

A man walks into a restaurant with a large ostrich and sits down at a table to have breakfast. The man orders a stack of pancakes, and the ostrich orders the same. The bill comes to $15.95. The man reaches into his pocket and empties all his bills and change, which equals exactly $15.95 plus a 15% tip.

The following week the man returns to the restaurant with the ostrich and the same waitress comes to his table. This time he orders bacon and eggs, and so does the ostrich. The bill comes to $19.50. He reaches into his pocket and takes out exactly $19.50 plus a 15% tip.

A week later he comes in again with the ostrich. They both have the same meal. The same waitress presents a check for $18.75. The man empties his pockets and reveals exactly that amount plus the appropriate tip.

By this time the waitress is quite curious. "I am astounded, sir, that you take this ostrich to breakfast every week, and that you always have the exact amount of money," she explains. "How do you do that?"

"Itís an amazing story," he answers. "Several years ago I was cleaning my basement and I found an old bottle. When I opened it, a genie emerged. He told me I could have two wishes. My first wish was to always have enough money to buy anything I wanted. Now, wherever I go, I simply reach into my pocket and the exact amount of money is there. I buy all my meals this way; I have also bought a car, house, and vacations ĺ no matter how much anything costs, I have the exact amount in my wallet or checkbook."

"Thatís astonishing!" replies the waitress. "And what was your second wish?"

"To marry a chick with long legs."

This story teaches a profound truth: Be conscious of what you are asking for. You can pray for something specific and get it. Or you can pray for a quality of life, and get that. Praying for specifics is risky, for you are dictating a form. Praying for essence guarantees reward, for you are seeking an energy. Emerson noted that a wise man in a storm prays not for the end of the storm, but for the end of fear.

I know a man who prayed to receive checks in the mail. Then he did. Unfortunately, they were social security checks addressed to the previous tenants of his apartment. He would have done better to pray to recognize himself as a prosperous being living in an abundant universe that meets all his needs in wondrous ways.

I also know a woman who intensely wanted a relationship. She found a magazine photo of a handsome man and posted it on her refrigerator as a sort of treasure map. Within a short time she met a good-looking guy similar to the fellow in the photo and started a relationship with him. After a while she discovered he was an alcoholic, which ultimately ruined their relationship. Then she went back and looked at her treasure map photo and saw that her dream man had a drink in his hand. She would have done better to focus on the kind of man she sought and the energy of the relationship that matched her heartís desires.

Rather than dictating a specific object as your goal, designate a quality of experience. Sure, you can pray or strive for a particular mate, job, or house, and get it. But you may find something lacking about it. You will find far more joy if you set your intention for the essence of relationship, job, or home you desire, and how you want to feel about it. If you had a relationship that was deeply fulfilling, replete with joy and passion, would the specifics matter that much?
Get clear on where you want to go, and let God fill in the blanks about how to get there.

How long is your "to do" list? The more things you think of that you have to do, the more things you find to do. Then you end up feeling tired and unfulfilled. Try replacing your "to do" list with a "to be" list. Who do you want to be while you are doing? How do you want to feel? What inner experience would you like to enjoy behind your activities? You can get everything crossed off your "to do" list, but unless you have set your intention about who you want to be and how you want to feel, you will miss your true goal, which is happiness. Set your intention for soul fulfillment and watch your life take off, spiritually and materially.

Before you climb the ladder of success, be sure it is leaning against the right wall. You can get what you think you want, or you can get what you really want. All thoughts are prayers, and all prayers are answered. You pray more with your thoughts and intentions than with your words. In fact, you are praying at every moment. Every asking that proceeds from the heart is a prayer. Ask for your soulís dreams, not your mindís. When the mind and soul come into alignment, you will achieve the mystical marriage that gets your head out of the sand and into heaven.

Alan Cohen is the author of the best-selling Why Your Life Sucks and What You Can Do About It, a Book of the Month Club selection, and the award-winning A Deep Breath of Life. If you enjoyed this article, you will love Alanís newly published collection of his best articles, Looking in for Number One. To order it or request a free catalog of Alan's books, tapes, seminars, and Mastery Training in Maui, call 1-800-568-3079, visit www.alancohen.com, email admin@alancohen.com, or write P.O. Box 835, Haiku, HI 96708.

back to the SpiritSite.com home page ->