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Book 34 / 40. Open Your Mind to Receive by Catherine Ponder.

First released in 1983, this book is chock full of real-life case histories, all revealing the laws of abundance in terms of the 5 gifts the reader doesn’t know they already have. The new edition includes numerous stories of Catherine Ponder’s innate ability to not only pinpoint the source lack, but to provide the perfect solution that open the floodgates of prosperity.
Catherine Ponder grew up in a part of the American South where children often went without lunch and had no shoes to wear. She would give away her lunch money, food and the clothing off her back to poorer classmates.

When she was older, she wanted to wage a ‘war on poverty’, but came to the view that it was better to understand the sources of prosperity and teach people about them. This was the beginning of her career as a leading teacher of the prosperity mindset.

While her first book, The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity (included in 50 Success Classics) introduced all the general principles of prosperity consciousness, its sequel provides a more direct, simple and powerful formula for prosperity that is easily followed.

Don’t feel guilty

Ponder began giving talks and classes on prosperity in the late 1950s, as a newly ordained Unity church minister. At this time she was far from rich herself. Living in a one room dwelling, she was in embarrassed about teaching the subject, yet at the same time she also felt that opening her mind to the universe’s abundance would be her ticket to something better. Three years later she moved into a nice new home, but says she would have done earlier if she knew then what she later formularised in this book.

Many of Ponder’s early pupils felt guilty about even studying the subject, believing that seeking prosperity was sinful, even when they were struggling through a deep recession. But as soon as they were told that prosperity was ‘spiritually right’, backed by Ponder’s many examples from the Bible, suddenly the floodgates of good fortune were opened. But first they had to get over this mental block.

She describes the Bible as “the greatest prosperity textbook ever written”. Among the Hebrew leaders, she notes, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph were each well off men, even millionaires. Genesis tells us that Abraham, for instance, “was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.” The word ‘gold’ appears more than 400 times in the Bible, and among its three to four thousand promises made, many are literal promises of prosperity. Jesus, of course, produced many prosperity miracles, including the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, and the turning of water into wine at a feast in Canaan.

The real source of prosperity

Many will say that Jesus only used the symbolism of money in his parables to demonstrate spiritual riches, but Ponder insists that Jesus saw prosperity and spirituality as one and the same. All good things come when we are aligned with God, she told her students, and it is only attachment to possessions that is sinful. The ultimate prosperity secret is that God is the Source of your supply. As Moses told the Hebrews (Deuteronomy 8:18) “You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth.” When you focus on other people and circumstances as the source of your prosperity, you tend to lose it.

Ponder asks, is affirming a non-physical entity (God) as the source of your prosperity really practical? She includes examples of people who over the years have contacted her, amazed at just how perfectly this belief works. For instance, a struggling doctor who affirmed that his supply did not depend on his patients or ‘economic conditions’ was able to build a smart new clinic within a few months. She amusingly relates how both the typists of her first book resigned because the lessons they were typing out had such positive effects. The first typist left because, after she followed the book’s lessons, her husband’s sales career took off to an extent that she no longer had to work. The second typist’s husband had been unemployed, but suddenly was appointed to his dream job in engineering, requiring them to move to another state. Ponder’s housekeeper, whom she had explained the prosperity laws to, also resigned to follow her dream of becoming a dressmaker. She was very successful. Ponder remarks: “It was startling to lose two secretaries and a housekeeper while writing this book – just because they dared to open their minds”.

Yet this openness does not just mean openness to receiving money. Prosperity, in Ponder’s mind, is peace of mind, harmony with others, and physical health. Many people who have attended her classes are surprised to find dramatic improvements in these areas in their lives, in addition to demonstrations of financial plenty.

First purify yourself

The practice of purification before receiving your good is an ancient prosperity secret. The principle involves cleansing your mind of clutter and negative emotions. In forming a vacuum, you allow good things to rush in.

You can begin by clearing out the clutter in your home, car and place of work.

Many people are reluctant to throw out expensive things, even if they are no longer being used, just because they are expensive. But if you want nice, valuable things to come into your life, you should get rid of what you don’t want no matter the perceived value.

Ponder points out that the universe is perfectly ordered, therefore the person who makes their own affairs more orderly is attuned to universal richness. God tends to hold back on his largesse until you have taken steps to make your present affairs orderly. Once you do, three things happen: 1) people and situations lose their chaotic nature; 2) others not right for your development fall drift out of your life; 3) the people and events necessary for your fulfilment are attracted into your life.

One important way to cleanse your mind is to forgive. When you hold in resentment, “…you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel,” Ponder notes. “The practice of forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and be free.” It can feel like you ‘lose’ if you forgive someone something. But Ponder observes that if something is truly yours by ‘divine right’ you can never lose it, and by releasing a person or an emotion you make room the manifestation of good in ways you could not have imagined.

Three steps to prosperity

Prosperity is created mentally, Ponder says, in three steps: first through writing down your desires; second by creating pictures of your good; and third through the spoken word. 

Write it down

Your desires are given to you by God, but to manifest them they first need to take form as the written word. Once you get definite about what you want and write it down, the universe or God can be definite in delivering you what you want.

Create pictures

“Instead of fighting problems”, Ponder instructs the reader, “picture your way out of them.”

The best way to do this is to create a ‘wheel of fortune’, pasting images of everything you want to appear in your life onto a board. If looked at and enjoyed every day, these images will be absorbed into your subconscious mind and begin to help shape your reality.

Returning home to Texas after a speaking trip to California, Ponder told her son about the beauty and ‘metaphysical atmosphere’ of the state. He began creating a wheel of fortune that included pictures of himself on the beach, playing golf in the desert, wearing tropical clothes and so on. A couple of years later he enlisted in the Air Force. His group was scheduled to go to a base in the North or Midwest of the United States, but by the time his name on the list came up all the spots in those bases had been filled. Instead, he was assigned to a base in California – the only recruit to be placed there out of his basic training class of hundreds. He was soon enjoying all the scenes he had pictured on his wheel of fortune. Note, Ponder says, that his pictures did not manifest instantly. It takes time for one’s subconscious mind to incorporate the new images and bring them to fruition, but they are not forgotten.

You do not have to create an elaborate wheel of fortune to manifest your desires. Even doing it in a casual way can work. When Ponder was a little girl she longed for a gemstone ring in the shape of heart, as she was born on Valentine’s Day. She never asked for it, as her family was not well off.

Decades later, a woman who had studied her books telephoned her from across the country. She had just inherited a large estate, and wanted to give Ponder something from it. Despite the many more valuable things she had to offer, the woman felt moved, for some reason, to give an amethyst ring. As amethyst was her birthstone, Ponder was delighted. But the woman said, “Yes, but you might not want this one. It’s different. It’s in the shape of a heart”. The incident confirmed to her that, no matter the time or distances involved, picturing your good is amazingly powerful.

Magic of the spoken word

Ponder reveals that the words ‘utter’ and ‘outer’ have similar origins. Therefore, “What you utter becomes outer in your world!”

It is not enough to simply read about prosperity. It is through the words you speak that it actually comes to you. Speaking daily affirmations such as “I am surrounded by divine substance and this divine substance now manifests for me in rich appropriate form” can have quick results. (A man Ponder new, after speaking these exact words, doubled his salary within six weeks).

Why exactly are prosperity affirmations so powerful, she asks? The ancients knew that particular arrangements of words produce vibrations that resonate with the Infinite Intelligence that pervades the universe. Statements broadcast into the universe attract a certain reality, and in time are expressed as worldly fact.

In the Depression, a man was without a job. His wife continually affirmed, with their little daughters, “YOU HAVE A WONDERFUL JOB, WITH WONDERFUL PAY. YOU RENDER WONDERFUL SERVICE IN A WONDERFUL WAY”. He was soon offered work in the bonding business, and against all odds, a few years later the family were worth $250,000.

Ponder’s message: do not struggle needlessly when the prospering power of words is available to you. Use it. If you are Christian-minded, frequently say the Lord’s Prayer, for this is essentially a set of powerful affirmations that can change your life.
You may be thinking, how can I spiritually justify doing these techniques? Ponder responds that, although we are spiritual beings, it is our role as “a body on this earth plane” to balance the inner with the outer. Our ability to manifest good things is a test of this awareness – something to celebrate, not be ashamed of.

Furthermore, if use of the techniques sounds a bit selfish to you, Ponder notes that they can be used equally well to prosper others. Picturing a loved one’s good, or affirming it through the spoken word, can have tremendous effects.

Trusting the divine plan

If you are not sure exactly what you want, there is another way to bring about your good: affirming that there is a divine plan for your life which is falling perfectly into place. Doing this is a kind of shortcut which “…takes away all sense of confusion, uncertainty, and mistakes” from your life.

But be prepared for changes, Ponder warns, as the speed at which your divine plan comes into being can be ‘breathtaking’. On the other hand, if nothing much seems to change, it does not mean the plan is not falling into place. It is, but according to divine timing. Flowers bloom when they are ready, and not before.

You can also affirm the divine plan for your business, that it is manifesting God’s will in its work and mission in a perfect way and for the benefit of all concerned.

The magic number of increase

The book’s chapter on tithing is quite inspirational. One man confided to Ponder that although he loved her books, whatever she wrote on this subject he quietly avoided. People want to receive, but don’t want to give, yet tithing is a healing act which affirms circulation and abundance and dissolves congestion.

Why give ten per cent of what you earn? Ancient people knew that the number 10 had a magical power of increase – the word ‘tithe’ means ten – and that giving a small amount of what comes to us ensures more will follow.

Tithing is about “putting God first financially”. While many give in an almost mechanical way out of a sense of duty, in fact the prospering power of tithing only comes when you give lovingly, willingly and gratefully. You should tithe to whatever body or organization gives you and others spiritual inspiration, that helps to ‘lift up humanity’. Ponder promises that, “Money invested in spiritual things is never lost; rather, it is multiplied many times over”.

Final word

The notes above relate to half the book at most. Ponder’s revelation of other prosperity laws, including the ‘love concept’ and the ‘wisdom concept’ can be tremendously powerful if you are willing to use them, and the amazing final chapter on ‘Prosperity Through Divine Restoration’ should lift up any reader.

We love Ponder’s writings not just for what she says, but how she says it. Her examples seem to come from another era. For instance, “Decked out in a fashionable pants suit, an attractive Southern Californian businesswoman once said to the author…” goes the first line of the book. The warm and enjoyable style of her writing, often written in the third person, is perhaps typical of a gracious Southern lady.

Yet this image can be misleading, since Ponder was a true entrepreneur of ideas who drew from a range of sources – the Bible, New Thought philosophers, esoteric teachings and so on – to create easily digestible books that significantly expanded the average person’s knowledge and awareness of the prosperity laws. Though influenced by Charles Fillmore’s Prosperity, Ponder’s book seems like a complete, stand alone manual on the subject, and you may turn a pencil blunt with all your underlining.

All her books provide a sense of peace. Troubles are put into perspective, and the heart lifts on reading the stories of people who experienced a prosperity miracle when they had known only hard times. Yet her writings are not escapist, providing the tools to take your life to a new level if you are willing to open your mind to the spiritual side of prosperity.

Ponder herself was a widowed single mother working as a secretary when she embarked on her prosperity journey. Where are you now, and where might you be, if you practiced the laws she highlights?

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