Author: Deepak Chopra
Recommended by: Michael Jabs
Date read: 08-05-2021
Tags: #spirituality #philosophy
My rating: 2 out of 5
Favorite book of a good friend of mine, but it didn’t really do it for me. It’s all over the place, and there’s a whole lot of pseudo-science. There are couple of interesting passages, but I can’t recommend the book as a whole.
Highlights and notes
Introduction OPENING THE BOOK OF SECRETS
In human terms, [transformation] means turning fear, aggression, doubt, insecurity, hatred, and emptiness into their opposites
You are a creature who acts, thinks, and feels. Spirituality fuses these three into a single reality. Thinking doesn’t lord it over feeling; feeling doesn’t stubbornly resist the higher brain; doing occurs when both thought and feeling say, “This is right.” The one reality can be recognized because once you are there, you experience the flow of life without obstacles or resistance. In this flow, you encounter inspiration, love, truth, beauty, and wisdom as natural aspects of existence. The one reality is spirit, and the surface of life is only a disguise with a thousand masks that keeps us from discovering what is real
Secret 1 THE MYSTERY OF LIFE IS REAL
Secret 2 THE WORLD IS IN YOU
TO SOLVE THE MYSTERY OF LIFE requires only one commandment: Live like a cell
We were taught to follow a set of habits and beliefs that totally disregard the mystery of life. These beliefs are contained one inside the other like nested boxes:
- There is a material world.
- The material world is full of things, events, and people.
- I am one of those people, and my status is no higher than that of anyone else.
- To find out who I am, I must explore the material world.
This embarrassing problem—that there is no way to prove the existence of an outside world—undermines the entire basis of materialism. Thus we arrive at the second spiritual secret: You are not in the world; the world is in you.
The one reality has already revealed a deep secret: Being a creator is more important than the whole world. It’s worth pausing for a moment to take that in. In fact, it is the world. Of all the liberating ideas that could change a person’s life, this one is perhaps the most freeing. Yet to truly live it, to be a true creator, a great deal of conditioning needs to be broken down. No one remembers being told to believe in the material world. Yet somehow we’ve learned to accept ourselves as limited beings. The outside world must be far more powerful. It dictates the storyline, not you. The world comes first; you come a distant second.
Everything I am experiencing reflects myself: Therefore I don’t have to try and escape. There is nowhere to escape to, and as long as I see myself as the creator of my reality, I wouldn’t want to escape even if I could.
My life is part of every other life: My connection to all living things makes it impossible that I have enemies. I feel no need to oppose, resist, conquer, or destroy.
I have no need to control anyone or anything: I can affect change by transforming the only thing that I ever had control of in the first place, which is myself.
Secret #3 FOUR PATHS LEAD TO UNITY
Bhakti Yoga leads to unity by loving God. Karma Yoga leads to unity through selfless action. Gyana Yoga leads to unity through knowledge. Raj Yoga leads to unity through meditation and renunciation
To love someone is subtler than to resent or push the person away. To accept someone is subtler than to criticize the individual. To promote peace is subtler than to promote anger and violence. To see someone without judgment is subtler than to criticize the person.
Yoga is seen in the West as a renunciant’s path, a way of life that demands giving up family and possessions. Wandering yogis with their begging bowls, of the kind that used to be seen in every village in India, symbolize such a life. But outer trappings don’t signify renunciation, which happens on the inside no matter how much or how little you possess materially. Internally, a crucial decision is made: I am starting over. In other words, you renounce your old perceptions, not your possessions.
The universe, like any mirror, is neutral. It reflects back whatever is in front of it, without judgment or distortion. If you can trust that, then you have taken the crucial step of renunciation. You’ve renounced the belief that the outer world has power over you. As with everything else on the path to unity, living this truth is what will make it true.
There are gross and subtle levels of every experience, and the subtler levels are more sensitive, awake, and meaningful than the gross
Once you have identified it, begin to favor the subtle side of your life. Value this level of awareness—only if you value it will it grow. If you favor the grosser levels instead, the world will reflect your perception back to you: It will always remain divisive, disturbing, stressful, and threatening. The choice is yours to make at the level of consciousness because, in the infinite diversity of creation, every perception gives rise to a world that mirrors it
The overall purpose of meditation is the same for everyone, however: You are learning to relate to awareness itself, the purest level of experience
Secret #4 WHAT YOU SEEK, YOU ALREADY ARE
MEETING THE SILENT WITNESS How to Seek Within 1. Follow the flow of awareness. 2. Don’t resist what’s happening inside. 3. Open yourself to the unknown. 4. Don’t censor or deny what you feel. 5. Reach beyond yourself. 6. Be genuine, speak your truth. 7. Let the center be your home.
The ego has a repertoire of rationalizations for not being emotionally free: I’m not the kind of person who feels like that. I should be over it. No one wants to hear about these feelings. I don’t have a right to feel hurt; it isn’t fair to everyone else. I’ll only open old wounds. The past is the past. If you find yourself saying such things as a deflection from facing painful feelings, you may succeed in keeping them repressed. But every hidden, blocked feeling is like a chunk of frozen consciousness. Until it thaws, you are saying “I am this hurt” even as you refuse to look at it; it has you in its grip. This is another obstacle between you and the silent witness that must be dissolved. Time and attention have to be paid, sitting with your feelings and letting them say what they have to say.
When I think of what a flash of truth is like, some examples come to mind: Knowing that you can’t be what someone else wants you to be, no matter how much you love the other person. Knowing that you love, even when it’s scary to say so. Knowing that someone else’s fight isn’t yours. Knowing that you are better than what you appear to be. Knowing that you will survive. Knowing that you have to go your own way, no matter what the cost. Each sentence begins with the word knowing because the silent witness is that level where you know yourself, without regard for what others think they know
When I find myself being overshadowed by anything, I can fall back on a few simple steps: • I say to myself, “This situation may be shaking me, but I am more than any situation.” • I take a deep breath and focus my attention on whatever my body is feeling. • I step back and see myself as another person would see me (preferably the person whom I am resisting or reacting to). • I realize that my emotions are not reliable guides to what is permanent and real. They are momentary reactions, and most likely they are born of habit. • If I am about to burst out with uncontrollable reactions, I walk away.
Some people feel tremendously self-improved as their awareness expands; but it takes a strong sense of self to confront the many obstacles and challenges that lie on the path. If you feel weak or fragile, you may feel weaker and more fragile when you confront the shadow energies within. Expanded awareness comes at a price—you have to give up your limitations—and for anyone who feels victimized, that limitation is often so stubborn that spiritual progress becomes very slow. To the extent that you feel any deep conflict inside yourself, a large hurdle stands before you on the path. The wise thing is to seek help at the level where the problem exists.
stability must be found. Since childhood, all of us have found a stable point through the ego. We imagine a fixed “I” who is in control, at least as much as possible. But there is another, far more stable point of stability: the witness.
To seek who you are, you have to let go of old images about yourself. Whether you like yourself or not is irrelevant. Someone with high self-esteem and proud accomplishments is still caught up in the battle of opposites—in fact, such people usually think they are winning the battle for the “good” side.
Only you know how you feel, and when you stop censoring your emotions, the effect goes far beyond feeling better. Your aim is not to experience only positive emotions. The road to freedom is not through feeling good; it is through feeling true to yourself
We all owe emotional debts to the past, in the form of feelings we couldn’t allow ourselves to express. The past isn’t over as long as these debts go unpaid
To reach beyond yourself means realizing, with real determination, that your fixed identity is false
To speak your truth isn’t the same as bursting out with all the unpleasant things you’ve been too afraid or too polite to say. Such outbursts always have a feeling of pressure and tension behind them; they are grounded in frustration; they carry anger and hurt. The kind of truth that comes from the knower is calm; it doesn’t refer to how anyone else is behaving; it brings clarity to who you are
We are all framed by personalities and driven by egos. Ego personalities are trained by habit and by the past; they run along like self-propelled engines. If you can observe the mechanism at work without getting wrapped up in it, you will find that you possess a second perspective, one that is always calm, alert, detached, tuned in but not overshadowed. That second place is your center.
If you follow any emotion far enough, it will end in silence
Secret #5 THE CAUSE OF SUFFERING IS UNREALITY
the steps that lead to suffering: Overlooking actual facts Adopting a negative perception Reinforcing that perception by obsessive thinking Getting lost in the pain without looking for a way out Comparing yourself to others Cementing the suffering through relationships
I have sympathy for you. I know what you’re going through. You don’t have to feel a certain way just to make me happy. I will help you get through this. You don’t have to be afraid that you are driving me away. I don’t expect you to be perfect. You aren’t letting me down. This pain you are going through isn’t the real you. You can have the space you need, but I won’t let you be alone. I will be as real with you as I can be. I won’t be afraid of you, even though you may be afraid of your pain. I will do all I can to show you that life is still good and joy still possible. I can’t take your pain on as my responsibility. I won’t let you hold on to your pain—we are here to get through this. I will take your healing as seriously as my own well-being.
Having made a realistic count, take the following attitude: • I will no longer bring my problems to anyone who wants to leave me alone. It’s not good for them or me. They don’t want to help, so I will not ask them to. • I will share my problems with those who want to help me. I will not reject genuine offers of assistance out of pride, insecurity, or doubt. I will ask these people to join me in my healing and make them a bigger part of my life. • I will put a distance between myself and those who want to hurt me. I do not have to confront them, guilt-trip them, or make them the cause of my self-pity. But I cannot afford to absorb their toxic effect on me, and if that means keeping my distance, I will
All energies are discharged in the same way: • Take a deep breath, sit quietly, and feel the sensation in your body.
Feel the sensation without judgment. Just be with it. • Let any feelings, thoughts, or energies that want to come up do so—this often means listening to the voice of anxiety, anger, fear, or woundedness. Let the voices say what they want to say. Listen and understand what is going on. • Watch the energy disperse as much as it can. Don’t demand complete discharge. Take the attitude that your body will let go of as much stored energy as it is able to. • After a few hours or the next day, repeat this whole process.
pain is not the same as suffering. Left to itself, the body discharges pain spontaneously, letting go of it the moment that the underlying cause is healed. Suffering is pain that we hold on to. It comes from the mind’s mysterious instinct to believe that pain is good, or that it cannot be escaped, or that the person deserves it. If none of these were present, suffering would not exist. It takes force of mind to create suffering, a blend of belief and perception that the person thinks he or she has no control over. But as inescapable as suffering may appear to be, what brings escape is not attacking the suffering itself but getting at the unreality that makes us cling to pain.
The beginning of suffering is often a refusal to look at how the situation really is
Replacing pleasure with pain may work in the short run. Both are sensations, and if one is strong enough it can cancel out the other. But Buddha didn’t teach that life hurts because of pain; it hurts because the cause of suffering hasn’t been examined
Reality is whatever you identify with
To the extent that you feel stoic or weak, in control or victimized, desperate or hopeful, you are adhering to reactions set down by someone else. Deviating from their pattern feels strange, even threatening
The reason that people find it so difficult to enter a healing relationship is that life in our family of origin often required a good deal of unawareness. We overlook what we don’t want to see; we keep silent about things that are too difficult to discuss; we respect boundaries even when they put someone into a box. In short, the family is where we learn to deny pain. And denied pain is just another term for suffering.
How to Relate When Someone Else Is in Pain
I am” gets lost when you start identifying instead with “I do this, I own that, I like A but not B.
sit by yourself for at least 5 minutes a day for the next month with the intention of clearing away the following complications:
Disorder: Chaos is complicated, order is simple. Is your house a mess? Is your desk piled high with work? Are you letting others create messes and disorder because they know you won’t make them take responsibility? Have you hoarded so much junk that your environment is like an archaeological record of your past?
Stress: Everyone feels stressed, but if you cannot completely clear your daily stress at night, returning to a calm, centered, enjoyable inner state, you are overstressed
List the major stresses in your life and work to reduce them until you know for certain that you are not overstressed.
Empathic suffering: Getting infected with the suffering of others causes you to suffer. You have crossed the line from empathy to suffering if you feel worse after offering sympathy to someone else
Negativity: Well-being is a simple state to which body and mind return naturally. Negativity prevents this return by causing you to dwell on not being well.
Inertia: Inertia means giving in to old habits and conditioning. Whatever the cause of depression, anxiety, trauma, insecurity, or grief, these states linger if you take a passive attitude. “That’s just how things are” is the motto of inertia
Become aware of how doing nothing is actually the way you’ve trained yourself to keep things the same
Toxic relationships: There are only three kinds of people in your life: those who leave you alone, those who help you, and those who hurt you
Honestly count how many people in each category you have in your life
Beliefs: Examine your possible motives for wanting to suffer
Energy and sensations: We rely on our bodies to tell us when we are in pain, and the body, like the mind, follows familiar patterns
Secret #6 FREEDOM TAMES THE MIND
Have we become trapped simply by the act of choosing? This is a surprising idea because it runs counter to a lifelong behavior. For all of us, life has been lived one choice at a time. The external world is like a huge bazaar offering a dazzling array of possibilities, and everyone shops the bazaar, cannily seizing what is best for me and mine. Most people know themselves by what came home in their shopping bag—a house, job, spouse, car, children, money. But every time you choose A over B, you are forced to leave some part of the one reality behind. You are defining yourself by selective (and completely arbitrary) preferences. The alternative is to stop concentrating on the results and look to the cause. Who is this choice-maker inside you? This voice is a relic of the past, the accumulation of old decisions carrying over beyond their time. Right now you are living under the burden of your past self, who is no longer alive. You must protect the thousands of choices that make up this dead self. Yet the choice-maker could live a much freer life. If choices occurred in the present and[…]
LETTING GO How to Choose Without Getting Trapped Make the most of every experience. Don’t obsess over right and wrong decisions. Stop defending your self-image. Go beyond risks. Make no decision when in doubt. See the possibilities in whatever happens. Find the stream of joy.
You stop being ruled by self-image when: • You feel what you feel • You are no longer offended by things • You stop appraising how a situation makes you look • You don’t exclude people you feel superior or inferior to • You quit worrying about what others think about you • You no longer obsess over money, status, and possessions • You no longer feel the urge to defend your opinions
The point of looking at risks would be to see if your course of action is reasonable; you wouldn’t rely on risk analysis to override far more important factors, the very factors that are being weighed at the level of deeper awareness: Does this choice feel right for me? Am I interested in where this choice is leading? Do I like the people involved? Is this choice good for my whole family? Does this choice make sense given my stage in life? Do I feel morally justified in making this choice? Will this choice help me to grow? Do I have a chance to be more creative and inspired by what I am about to do? It’s when these things go wrong that choices don’t work out. The risks may be relevant, but they aren’t decisive. People who can assess their choices at the deeper level of awareness are aligning themselves with infinite intelligence, and thus they have a greater chance for success than does someone who crunches the numbers.
Life is self-correcting in just this way. As the choice-maker you can act on a whim; you can follow arbitrary or irrational paths. But the underlying machinery of consciousness doesn’t alter. It keeps following the same principles, which are: • To adapt to your desires • To keep everything in balance • To harmonize your individual life with the life of the cosmos • To make you aware of what you are doing • To show you the consequences of your action
When they tried to understand how the mind traps itself, the ancient Indian sages devised the key concept of samskara (from two Sanskrit word roots that mean “to flow together”). A samskara is a groove in the mind that makes thoughts flow in the same direction. Buddhist psychology makes sophisticated use of the concept by speaking of samskaras as imprints in the mind that have a life of their own. Your personal samskaras, built up from memories of the past, force you to react in the same limited way over and over, robbing you of free choice (i.e., choosing as if for the first time).
At some time in their pasts, raging people decided to adopt anger as a coping mechanism
A samskara is a choice you remember from the past. Each choice changed you by a tiny fraction. The process began at birth and continues to this day. Instead of fighting it, we all believe we should keep on making choices; as a result, we keep adding new samskaras and reinforcing the old ones. (In Buddhism, this is called the wheel of samskara because the same old reactions keep coming around again and again.
Tuning in to others is a circular flow: You send yourself out toward people; you receive them as they respond to you. Notice how often you don’t do that. You stand back and insulate yourself, sending out only the most superficial signals and receive little or nothing back.
The same circle must be present even when someone else isn’t involved
If you want to fully experience life, you must close the circle.
Right and wrong decisions: If you obsess over whether you are making the right decision, you are basically assuming that the universe will reward you for one thing and punish you for another.
It may turn out afterward that you feel dissatisfied with the direction you’ve taken, but to obsess over right and wrong decisions is the same as taking no direction at all. Keep in mind that you are the choice-maker, which means that who you are is far more than any single choice you have ever made or ever will make
Much time is spent in self-help trying to turn a bad self-image into a good one. As reasonable as that sounds, all self-images have the same pitfall: They keep reminding you of who you were, not who you are. The whole idea of I, me, and mine was erected on memories, and these memories are not really you. If you release yourself from your self-image, you will be free to choose as if for the first time.
Risk is mechanical. It implies that there is no intelligence behind the scenes, only a certain number of factors that result in a given outcome. You can go beyond risks by knowing that there is infinite intelligence at work in the hidden dimension of your life. At the level of this intelligence your choices are always supported
doubt is destructive to the one quality that awareness is trying to bring to you: knowingness. At a deep level, you are the knower of reality. Doubt is a symptom indicating that you aren’t in contact with the knower inside. It usually means that you are looking outside yourself when you have to make a choice. Your decision is going to be based on externals
For most people, the strongest externals come down to what other people think because fitting in is the path of least resistance. But fitting in is like embracing inertia. Social acceptance is the lowest common denominator of the self—it’s you as a social unit rather than you as a unique person.
Seeing the possibilities: It would be much easier to let go of outcomes if every choice turned out well. And why shouldn’t it? In the one reality there are no wrong turns, only new turns. But the ego personality likes things to be connected. Coming in second today is better than coming in third yesterday, and tomorrow I want to come in first. This kind of linear thinking reflects a crude conception of progress. Real growth happens in many dimensions. What happens to you can affect how you think, feel, relate to others, behave in a given situation, fit into your surroundings, perceive the future, or perceive yourself. All these dimensions must evolve in order for you to evolve.
On some dimension or other, every event in life can be causing only one of two things: Either it is good for you, or it is bringing up what you need to look at in order to create good for you
To make your life as real as possible
break out of the mindset that your life consists of good and bad choices that set your destiny on an unswerving course. Your
Secret #7 EVERY LIFE IS SPIRITUAL
EMERGENT SPIRITUAL PROPERTIES Clarity of awareness Knowingness Reverence for life Absence of violence Fearlessness Nonattachment Wholeness These qualify as spiritual transformations because none can be achieved simply by recombining old ingredients of the self
UNIVERSAL 1. The universe is a mirror of consciousness. PERSONAL 1. The events in your life reflect who you are.
UNIVERSAL 2. Awareness is collective. We all draw it from a common source. PERSONAL 2. The people in your life reflect aspects of yourself.
UNIVERSAL 3. Awareness expands within itself. PERSONAL 3. Whatever you pay attention to will grow.
UNIVERSAL 4. Consciousness creates by design. PERSONAL 4. Nothing is random—your life is full of signs and symbols.
UNIVERSAL 5. Physical laws operate efficiently, with least effort. PERSONAL 5. At any given moment, the universe is giving you the best results possible
UNIVERSAL 6. Simple forms grow into more complex forms. PERSONAL 6. Your inner awareness is always evolving.
UNIVERSAL 7. Knowledge takes in more and more of the world. PERSONAL 7. The direction of life is from duality to unity.
UNIVERSAL 8. Evolution develops survival traits that perfectly match the environment. PERSONAL 8. If you open yourself to the force of evolution, it will carry you where you want to go.
UNIVERSAL 9. Chaos serves evolution. PERSONAL 9. The fragmented mind cannot get you to unity, but you have to use it along the way.
UNIVERSAL 10. Many invisible levels are enveloped in the physical world. PERSONAL 10. You are living in many dimensions at once; the appearance of being trapped in time and space is an illusion.
Cause and effect aren’t just linked; they are linked in the most efficient way possible. This argument also applies to personal growth—the idea is that everyone is doing the best he or she can from his or her own level of consciousness.
despite a widespread feeling of psychological alienation (the result of technology’s outstripping our ability to keep meaning alive), the duality of man and Nature is shrinking with each successive generation
A skeptic will protest that this new operating system is only a matter of perception, and that just seeing yourself as the creator of your reality doesn’t mean you are. But it does. Reality shifts as you do, and when you change your perception of being separate, the one reality responds by shifting with you. The reason everyone doesn’t notice this is that the ego-based world with
Here are examples of how you might apply these universal principles on a daily basis:
The events in my life reflect who I am: I will apply one experience today to myself. Whatever catches my attention is trying to tell me something. If I feel angry at anyone, I will see if what I dislike in the person actually exists in me. If an overheard conversation catches my attention, I will take those words as a personal message. I want to find the world that is inside me.
The people in my life reflect aspects of myself: I am a composite of every person who is important to me. I am going to look upon friends and family as a group picture of me. Each stands for a quality I want to see in myself or want to reject, yet in reality I’m the whole picture. I will gain the most knowledge from those people I intensely love and intensely dislike: The one reflects my highest aspirations; the other reflects my deepest fears of what lies inside me.
Whatever I pay attention to will grow: I will take inventory of how I’m using my attention. I will keep a log of how much time I spend with television, video games, the computer, hobbies, gossip, work I don’t care about, work I am passionate about, activities that fascinate me, and fantasies of escape or fulfillment. In this way I will find out what aspects of my life are going to grow. Then I will ask, “What do I want to grow in my life?” This will tell me where my attention needs to shift.
Nothing is random—my life is full of signs and symbols: I will look for patterns in my life. These patterns could be anywhere: in what others say to me, the way they treat me, the way I react to situations. I am weaving the tapestry of my world every day, and I need to know what design I am making. I will look for signs that show me my hidden beliefs. Do I meet opportunities for success or failure? These are symbols for whether I believe I have personal power or not. I will look for signs about my belief in whether I am loved and deserve love—or not.
At any given moment, the universe is giving me the best results possible: I will concentrate today on the gifts in my life. I will focus on what is working instead of what isn’t. I will appreciate this world of light and shadow. I will receive with grace the remarkable gift of awareness. I will notice how my own level of awareness makes me perceive the world I am co-creating.
My inner awareness is always evolving: Where do I stand right now? How far have I come on my chosen path? Even if I don’t see immediate results outside myself, do I feel that I am growing inside? Today I will face these questions and honestly ask where I stand. I will experience my awareness not as a stream of thoughts but as the potential for becoming who I want to be. I will look at my limitations and boundaries with the intention of expanding beyond them.
The direction of life is from duality to unity: Today I want to belong. I want to feel safe and at home. I want to be aware of what it’s like simply to be, without defenses or desires. I will appreciate the flow of life for what it is—my own true self. I will notice those moments of intimacy with myself, when I feel that “I am” is enough to sustain me forever. I will lie on the grass looking at the sky, feeling myself at one with nature, expanding until my being fades into the infinite.
If I open myself to the force of evolution, it will carry me where I want to go: Today is for long-term thinking about myself. What is my vision of life? How does that vision apply to me? I want my vision to unfold without struggle. Is that happening? If not, where am I putting up resistance? I will look at the beliefs that seem to hold me back the most. Am I depending on others instead of being responsible for my own evolution? Have I allowed myself to focus on external rewards as a substitute for inner growth? Today I will rededicate myself to inner awareness, knowing that it is the home of the evolutionary impulse that drives the universe.
The fragmented mind cannot get me to unity, but I have to use it along the way: What does unity really mean to me? What experiences of oneness can I look back upon? Today I will remember the difference between being at one with myself and being scattered. I will find my center, my peace, my ability to go with the flow. The thoughts and desires that drive me are not the ultimate reality. They are just a way to get myself back to oneness. I will remember that thoughts come and go like leaves in the wind, but the core of consciousness is forever. My goal is to live from that core.
I am living in many dimensions at once; the appearance of being trapped in time and space is an illusion: Today I will experience myself beyond limitations. I will set time aside to be present with myself in silence. As I breathe I will see my being spreading outward in all directions. As I settle into my own inner silence, any image that comes to mind will be asked to join my being. I will include anyone and anything that comes to mind, saying, “You and I are one at the level of being. Come, join me beyond the drama of space and time.” In the same way I will experience love as a light that begins in my heart and spreads out as far as my awareness can reach; as images arise in my mind, I will send love and light in their direction
Secret #8 EVIL IS NOT YOUR ENEMY
Shadow energies make themselves known whenever You can’t talk about your feelings. You feel out of control. You feel a flash of panic or dread. You want to feel strongly, but your mind goes blank. You find yourself breaking down in tears for no reason. You have an irrational dislike for someone. A reasonable argument turns into warfare. You attack someone without provocation.
Shadow energy is purified through the following steps:
• The negative feeling comes up (anger, grief, anxiety, hostility, resentment, self-pity, hopelessness). • You ask to release it. • You experience the feeling and follow where it wants to go. • The feeling leaves through breath, sound, or bodily sensations. • You have a sense of release afterward, coupled with an understanding of what the feeling meant. It’s the last step that tells the tale: When a shadow energy truly leaves, there is no resistance anymore, and you see something you didn’t see before. Insight and release go together
Secret #9 YOU LIVE IN MULTIDIMENSIONS
Take each domain of awareness and write down how you keep yourself from entering it. In this way you become aware of what you are doing to limit your consciousness, and by catching yourself in time, each of these ingrained reflexes can begin to change. For example: Pure being: I don’t slow down enough to be truly quiet inside. I don’t set time aside to meditate. I haven’t experienced the tranquillity in nature recently. Now I will catch myself rejecting inner peace and find time for it. Conditioned bliss: I haven’t felt joy in simply being alive. I am not seeking opportunities for wonder. I don’t seem to be around young children enough. I haven’t gazed at the night sky. Now I will catch myself rejecting joyful appreciation and make time for it. Love: I’ve been taking my loved ones for granted, so I haven’t been expressing my love very much. I feel uncomfortable receiving love from others. I’ve put love on the back burner as something I value. Now I will catch myself rejecting these opportunities to make love important in my life and make time for it.
Knowingness: I give in to doubt too much. I automatically take a skeptical stance and only settle for hard facts. I don’t seem to know any wise people, and I spend little time exposing myself to philosophy and spiritual writings. Now I will catch myself rejecting traditional wisdom and make time for it. Myth and archetypes: I don’t really have any heroes anymore. I can’t remember finding a worthy example in anything or anyone for a long time. I go my own way, which is as good as anyone else’s. Now I will catch myself rejecting the notion that a higher inspiration is necessary and find time for it. Intuition: I use my head. I don’t go for anything as mushy as intuition. I look for proof before I believe in something. I think all extrasensory powers are wishful thinking. I analyze a given situation and make my decision accordingly. Now I will catch myself rejecting my first hunches and start trusting them. Imagination: Art’s not my thing. I don’t go to museums or concerts. My hobby is television and the sports page. To me, most creative types don’t have their feet on the ground. Now I will catch[…]
Reason: I know what I know and stick with it. I don’t listen to the other side of an argument very often—I just want to prove I’m right. I tend to have the same reactions to similar situations. I don’t always follow through with the plans I make, even when they’re good. Now I will catch myself being unreasonable and will stop to consider every point of view. Emotion: I don’t make a scene and I hate it when anyone else does. I’m not impressed by people who give in to their emotions. Holding it inside is my motto—nobody ever sees me cry. I can’t remember anyone growing up who taught me that emotions are positive. Now I will catch myself rejecting my real feelings and find a safe way to express them. Physical body: I should take care of myself. I’m in considerably worse shape physically than I was five or ten years ago. I’m not happy with my body, and I’m not much for physical activity. I’ve heard about body therapies, but I think they’re indulgent and a little flaky. Now I will catch myself giving up on the physical side of my life and[…]
Exercise #2: My Awareness Profile Now that you’ve taken notice of where your limitations lie, draw up a profile of your awareness as it is today. Keep the profile in a safe place and consult it sixty days from now to see how much you’ve changed. The profile is rated in each category from 1 to 10. When you return after the sixty days are up, rate yourself without first looking at your original scores. 0 pts. I don’t pay any attention to this part of my life. 1– 3 pts. I have had a little experience in this area but not recently and not very often. 4– 6 pts. I am familiar with this area of my life and experience it fairly often. 7– 9 pts. This is an important area of my life, one that I focus on a lot. 10 pts. This area is my home. I know it well and spend almost all my extra attention on it. (0–10 pts.) Pure Being Conditioned Bliss Love Knowingness Myth and Archetypes Intuition Imagination Reason Emotion Physical Body
CHANGING YOUR REALITY TO ACCOMMODATE THE NINTH SECRET
Secret #10 DEATH MAKES LIFE POSSIBLE
SURRENDER IS . . . Full attention Appreciation of life’s richness Opening yourself to what is in front of you Nonjudgment Absence of ego Humility Being receptive to all possibilities Allowing love
In essence, the ten-year-old you once were is dead. From a ten-year-old’s perspective, the two-year-old you once were is also dead. The reason that life seems continuous is that you have memories and desires that tie you to the past, but these too are ever shifting. Just as your body comes and goes, so does the mind with its fleeting thoughts and emotions. When you are aware of being yourself without being attached to any particular age, you’ve found the mysterious observer within who doesn’t come and go.
The tenth secret says that life and death are naturally compatible
Secret #11 THE UNIVERSE THINKS THROUGH YOU
When you find yourself stuck and unable to make any progress at all, the following circumstances usually apply: 1. You aren’t ready to move. The experience of an old reality still fascinates you. You keep enjoying your habitual way of life, or else, if there is more pain than enjoyment, you are addicted to the pain for some reason not yet revealed. 2. You aren’t paying attention. Your mind is caught up in distractions. This is especially true if there is too much external stimulation. Unless you feel alert inside, you won’t be able to pick up the hints and clues being sent from the one reality. 3. The environment won’t support you. When you try moving forward, circumstances push you back. This kind of thwarting means that there is more to learn, or that the timing isn’t yet right. It also can be true that at a deep level you don’t see yourself moving forward; your conscious desire is in conflict with deeper doubt and uncertainty. 4. You feel threatened by the expansion you would have to make, preferring the safety of a limited self-image. Many people cling to a contracted state, believing that it protects them[…]
Secret #12 THERE IS NO TIME BUT NOW
THERE HAVE BEEN MOMENTS when my whole life made sense. I knew exactly who I was. The people in my life were all there for a reason. Clearly, and without a shred of doubt, I knew that the reason was love, so for that moment I could laugh at the preposterous notion that I had enemies or that I was a stranger in this world. Perfection has a mysterious way of slipping in and out of time. Few people, I imagine, haven’t felt the kind of moment I just described, but I’ve never met a single person who could hold on to it. But people desperately want to, and often this hunger motivates their spiritual life
Growth is accomplished by awareness, yet you can resolve today to change your relationship to time: I will let time unfold for me. I will keep in mind that there’s always enough time. I will follow my own rhythm. I will not misuse time by procrastination and delay. I will not fear what time brings in the future. I will not regret what time brought in the past. I will stop racing against the clock.
the quality that is missing in most people’s lives, the biggest thing that keeps them from being present, is sobriety. You have to be sober before you can be ecstatic.
1. I am pressed for time. There aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I want. Other people make a lot of demands on my time, and it’s all I can do to keep everything in balance. What I’ve gotten in life I’ve earned through hard work and determination. As far as I know, this is the road to success. 2. I consider myself pretty lucky. I’ve gotten to do a lot of the things I’ve always wanted to do. Although my life is busy, I find a way to make enough time for myself. Every once in a while things just fall into place on their own. Deep down, I expect my wishes to come true, but I am okay if they don’t. 3. I believe that the universe brings you whatever you need. Certainly that’s true in my life. I’m amazed to find that my every thought brings some response. If I don’t get what I want, I realize that something inside me is blocking it. I spend time working on my inner awareness far more than struggling with outside forces
Secret #13 YOU ARE TRULY FREE WHEN YOU ARE NOT A PERSON
Secret #14 THE MEANING OF LIFE IS EVERYTHING
. I don’t want to look bad. 2. I don’t want to fall down. 3. I don’t want anyone else to watch me fail. 4. I don’t want to live with the burden of failure. 5. I don’t want to expend all my energy. 6. I don’t want any pain. 7. I want to get things over with as fast as possible.
Winning doesn’t have to look good. The two have nothing to do with each other. • Being passionate about something looks good from the inside, which is where it really counts. • Looking good from the inside isn’t an image. It’s a feeling of satisfaction.
You won’t be satisfied as long as image is on your mind.
Give yourself a rating: • I feel devastated when I fail. I can’t shake the feeling for days, and when I look back at my biggest failings I relive how intense the humiliation was. • I feel bad enough when I fail that I usually walk away. It takes a lot for me to get back on the horse, but eventually I will. It’s a matter of pride and self-respect.
I take failure in stride because it’s more important to accomplish what I want to do. I learn from my failures. There’s something positive in every setback. If you can learn from your mistakes you haven’t failed. • I don’t think in terms of winning and losing. I stay centered and watch how I perform in any situation. Each response shows me a new aspect of myself. I want to understand everything, and from that perspective each experience is like turning a new page in the book of evolution
As with shame, you can break guilt down into its irrational components: • Guilt doesn’t accurately measure good and bad. It can make you suffer for trivial reasons. • Guilt is a blanket that tries to cover everything. It makes you feel guilty about people and things that have no bearing on your guilty actions except that they happen to be in the vicinity. • Guilt makes you feel overly responsible. You believe you caused bad things to happen that in truth had nothing to do with you. • Guilt is prejudiced. It finds you wrong all the time without any chance of reprieve.
Here are a few steps that can cause the channels of energy to expand: • Learn to give
I don’t want to look bad: This decision involves self-image
I don’t want to fall down: This decision revolves around failure, which in turn revolves around judgment
First, people at this level are oversensitive to setbacks and take them so personally that they keep reopening old wounds. If this is you, go back to the basics. Find something very minor to accomplish
Gradually increase the challenges you are able to face
Second, people at this level feel bad enough about falling down that they often walk away from new challenges, yet they don’t feel so bad that they are devastated. If this is you, you need more motivation because you are on the cusp of wanting to win but are reluctant to risk failure. You could tip one way or the other. To increase your motivation, you can join a team or find a coach
Third, people at this level are more encouraged by success than discouraged by failure. They have positive motivation in good supply. If this is you, you may succeed for a long time but eventually find that external rewards are no longer satisfying. You need to set a completely internal goal for yourself in order to grow. Among the most valuable internal goals are learning to be more intimate, learning to serve others without reward, and learning about the depths of spirituality. Aim to gain more understanding of yourself without any outside accomplishment
Fourth, people at this level have conquered failure. They enjoy every twist and turn in life, being satisfied with experience of every kind. If this is you, aim to deepen your mastery. Your remaining obstacles are subtle and belong at the level of ego. You still believe that an isolated self is having these experiences. Aim for detachment and expansion beyond this limited self. For you, the deepest spiritual texts and a personal commitment to one of the four paths will bring great satisfaction.
I don’t want anyone else to watch me fail: This decision revolves around shame. Shame is the internalized fear of the opinion of others. Their disapproval becomes your shame
First, realize that what others think about you is often dependent on whether your actions are good or bad in their eyes. Social judgment is inescapable, and we are all affected by it
Second, withdraw from shaming others. This behavior is a disguise for you
Third, find ways to earn praise that makes you feel like a good person. This is different from praise for what you accomplish. You no doubt can do many things that would get somebody else to say you did a good job. But what you lack is praise that heals your sense of shame
I don’t want to live with the burden of failure: This decision revolves around guilt. Guilt is the internal knowledge of wrongdoing. As such, it has its place as a healthy reminder from your conscience. But when guilt gets attached to the wrong thing, it can be destructive and unhealthy
I don’t want to expend all my energy: This decision revolves around a belief that energy, like the money in your bank account, is limited. Some people who don’t want to spend much energy avoid new challenges out of laziness, but that is mostly a disguise for deeper issues
Follow your passion
I want to get things over with as fast as possible: This decision revolves around impatience. When your mind is restless and disorganized, you can’t help but be impatient. You lack the attention span needed for taking time and being patient. People who hold back because they can’t pay enough attention are also deprived of new challenges
Impatience is rooted in frustration. We refuse to pay attention because the results aren’t coming fast enough or with enough rewards. The mind prefers to hop away from this potential source of discomfort. If you find that you’re easily made impatient, you probably blame outside circumstances
Secret #15 EVERYTHING IS PURE ESSENCE
The fifteenth lesson is about unity
Spirituality can bring delight at every moment—or at least every day—if it is pursued with the four things in mind that Vashistha taught. Let’s review them again, this time as they might be applied to our own lives.
Contentment: Look for a moment of contentment every day. You have a right to it because, in the cosmic design, you are safe and cared for. Be content not with your lot in life but with being here in the flow of life. The glories of creation are in your very cells; you are made of the same mindstuff as the angels, the stars, and God himself.
Inquiry: Don’t let a day go by without asking who you are. Understanding is a skill, and like all skills it must be coaxed into existence. To understand who you are means returning again and again to the question, Who am I? Each time you return you are allowing a new ingredient to enter your awareness. Every day is filled with the potential for expanding your awareness, and although each new addition may seem tiny, overall the accumulation will be great. It may take thousands of days to know who you are; it takes only one day to quit asking. Don’t let today be that day.
Self-awareness: Never forget that you are not in the world; the world is in you. Whatever you need to know about existence will arise nowhere outside yourself. When anything happens to you, take the experience inward. Creation is set up to bring you constant hints and clues about your role as a co-creator. Be aware of them; absorb them. Your soul is metabolizing experience as surely as your body is metabolizing food.
Strength: No one will ever be able to say that walking the spiritual path is the easiest thing in the world—or the hardest. The birth of the new is too intimately tied to the death of the old. Joy comes on the heels of sorrow, as it must if birth and death are merged. Don’t expect one or the other today. Use your strength to meet whatever is coming your way. Be as committed and passionate about spirituality as you can be. Strength is the foundation for passion, and you were designed to survive and thrive no matter how life unfolds. Be strong today in that knowledge.