Friday, September 4, 2015

A great friend I never met

            A friend whom I never met in person, but who guided my thoughts, walked with me in times of confusion and lifted my spirits; a spiritual giant who illumined the lives of many; a sage who took the wisdom of the ages from all corners of the world and distilled it in very simple language; a towering personality, a sharp intellect, a man who knew his roots, a great author and speaker – Wayne Dyer.

            Last week saw him cast his body, which he knew pretty well as an impermanent abode during his transit to higher realms. Though born in a dysfunctional white family with poverty as his company, he clawed his way back as an amazing exponent and author of psychology. The Shift that happens to the ones who choose to let it and he let the influence of great souls like Nisargadatta Maharaj, many eastern thoughts from Advaita to Taoism to Zen. I take this opportunity to ponder on some of his memorable quotes. These simple Dyerisms need no commentary, but reflecting my thoughts over his, I feel the satisfaction of a subtle interaction with him.

“Love is co-operation rather than competition.”
            The best I can express my feelings is with another quote, from Swami ChinmayanandaTo give love is freedom. To demand love is slavery. Wayne emphasized the giving nature of Love in almost every talk I have heard. Competition within relationship results in friction and loss of synergism. Wayne emphasized the eastern wisdom that we are part of the world. Only when we see We vs the world, there is competition.

“Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life.”
            Loving what we do is a winning attitude which comes naturally when we do what we love. When we have this outlook, there is no labor of love as commonly expressed, as love is expressed as labor (work). Wayne shared anecdotes of attracting abundance as a child by collecting soda bottles or by innovatively seeking snow shovel chores from neighbors. Every time, he said it with such enthusiasm that I felt like watching it live as my most favorite movie.

“Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.”
            Wayne was perhaps the biggest promoter of Purusharthas. He emphasized on taking personal responsibility. Though I have never heard him use that word, he has freely quoted and used Hindu words and concepts like Dharma, Karma. He was a firm believer of Karma; hence he focused on living in the NOW. If the PAST is the reason for our PRESENT conditions, then it goes without saying that the FUTURE is a function of our PRESENT. If we do take charge of our PRESENT, our FUTURE choices are more in our favor; if we don’t, then our PAST controls our FUTURE. This is the essence of Karma theory, which is aptly crystallized in Wayne’s wisdom.

“When the choice is to be right or to be kind, always make the choice that brings peace.”
        This is straight out of ancient Indian wisdom repackaged for the west.

satyaM brUyAt priyaM brUyAt na brUyAt satyam apriyam | priyaM ca nAnRRitaM brUyAt eSha dharmaH sanAtanaH ||  - Manu Smriti

Speak truth in such a way that it should be pleasing to others. Never speak truth, which is unpleasant to others. Never speak untruth, which might be pleasant. This is the path of eternal morality, sanatana dharma.
            Peace and harmony are at the center of Indian thinking. It is very evident that many vedic mantras have a shantipath ending with OM Shanti, shanti, shantihi.

“Upon awakening, let the words Thank You flow from your lips, for this will remind you to begin your day with gratitude and compassion.”
            Much of Wayne Dyer’s wisdom was actionable, practical tips to daily life. He routinely emphasized the importance of seizing the day, right from early morning. He shared his personal experiences of early rising, something which all great sages and saints have shared. Rising before Brahmamurta and taking time to meditate or think through the day is something he loved to inspire others to try. The most important attitude he kept reiterating was being thankful and grateful. He extensively quoted research on how compassion raises the serotonin (feel good neurotransmitter in the brain) of not only the receiver and giver, but also the observer. Let us begin our day with the wisdom of Dyer.

“Here is an affirmation for today: I feel passionately about my life, and this passion fills me with excitement and energy!”
            Wayne was a big promoter of positive affirmations. His psychology background came to the fore with this practical tip. Passion is the energy of the mind. When the mind moves passionately in a direction, the body merely follows it. We need to have some life when it comes to our own success, which begin in our thoughts, words and actions. Unless one is excited about something, there won’t be any actions. Due to our vasanas, we may not be inclined to think positively or break out of our Tamasic nature. Self-affirmation is a way to bridge this gap between our thoughts and actions.

“Self-worth comes from one thing – thinking that you are worthy.”
            This is in line with the earlier quote. Wayne believed that our thinking determines who we are. How can one think one is worthy, when one doesn’t feel like it, when life has beaten them repeatedly? Positive self-affirmations were one of the important tools Wayne provided. His books and talks were filled with anecdotes, suggestions and emphasis on changing the way we think. This is echoed in the next quote.

“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”
            This is one of the most powerful and favorite quotes. This is actually an echo of “You must be the change you wish to see in the world – Mahatma Gandhi”. Swami Tejomayananda said it even more beautifully, “Change your outlook, then look out”.  Einstein challenged us by asking us if we are living in a friendly world. A common adage asks us, if we are seeing the glass as half full or half empty. Be it scientist or a sage, they have emphasized on the mental weather pattern as a critical barometer of how we perceive and react to things and hence the results.

“I cannot always control what goes on outside. But I can always control what goes on inside.”
            Wayne stressed on personal responsibility. He taught repeatedly on not to be a victim of the circumstances, but to raise above. We may be surrounded by situations that make us angry, we can choose not to be angry. The same is true for any emotion we have, like fear, jealousy, hatred or situation in life – poverty, drug addiction. We may be going 200 miles per hour in the wrong direction, but the first step is to realize that. Second one is to stop and then reverse directions. This is an inside job.

“It’s never crowded along the extra mile.” 
            Wayne spoke in a series of long talks on this topic and was grateful to listen to them on CDs. He did not approach it from a motivational speaker style, egging the listeners to do more to get more.  The best I can do is to outline the major bullets of his talk and encourage the reader to fetch and listen to these awesome messages.
  • Have a Mind That Is Open to Everything and Attached to Nothing
  • Don't Die with Your Music Still in You
  • You Can't Give Away What You Don't Have
  • Embrace Silence
  • Give Up Your Personal History
  • You Can't Solve a Problem with the Same Mind That Created It
  • There Are No Justified Resentments
  • Treat Yourself As If You Already Are What You'd Like to Be
  • Treasure Your Divinity
  • Wisdom Is Avoiding All Thoughts That Weaken You

“You’ll see it when you believe it.”
            A materialist or atheist or skeptic always wants proof before believing. But the same person has qualms about going about accepting so many basic things in life. We simply fly on a plane or drive our car without checking the credentials of the pliot or plane or car conditions. Wayne would argue calmly that instead of saying, Seeing is believing, Believing is seeing. A newborn believes in its mother. When one has firm conviction that God or Universe or a higher power is there to guide us and support us and protect us, our success is guaranteed. The reason why intellect or mind wants a proof and not belief is due to the EGO. Wayne’s favorite acronym -  Edge God Out. Ego makes us believe we are separate independent entity from God.  Ego makes the wave believe that it is independent of the ocean. Once we resolve this battle with our EGO, we can see what we believe, manifest situations of choice. Wayne kept singing this song through his real life battle with leukemia, heart challenge, knee challenge.

“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.”
            Another fine example of Wayne’s focus on taking personal responsibility. This is classical Indian Karma theory, but with a spin to make it digestible for the western audience. He acted like a bridge between the Eastern wisdom and the western audience, making more palatable, but remaining true to the message conveyed. This treasured quote of Wayne hits home to every person who is having trouble finding their footing due to the pressures of life.  His teachings and thought process was always coherent. In a small sentence, he packs the wisdom of Karma theory, how to overcome other’s bad actions, how one’s personal actions alone (purushartha) is the panacea for such behavior, how our attitude determines the outcome of our actions and our future. His constant message was we are the master’s of our own destiny. His genius insight explained the tussle between fatalism and free-will. Free-will, according to him, is the choice one can exert to connect or not with the Source(his term for God).

“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.”
            This was another of his core suggestions. He explained how the ego, bounces off the Universe and sets up a reaction, it’s called Karma. When we judge others, firstly we give remote control of our actions to others and also the permission to others to judge us. The world outside is a reflection of our inside. The following quote connects with this theme.

“When you squeeze an orange, orange juice comes out – because that’s what’s inside. When you are squeezed, what comes out is what is inside.”
            This analogy and quote is a master-stroke as it works at all planes of understanding. When one is angry or afraid, it manifests in one’s actions. Basicially one’s beliefs get expressed like the orange juice from orange, through their actions, thoughts and words. But Wayne went few steps further, we believe ourselves as the body, or the mind, or the brain or the intellect, all manifestations of the ego. Hence our actions are always tinged by the color of ego. As one realizes the true nature (Atman) of the Self, Bliss gets reflected as the essence of such a great Soul’s life. Thus, his central focus was always in connecting back to the Source.

“Stop acting as if life is a rehearsal. Live this day as if it were your last. The past is over and gone. The future is not guaranteed.”
            Wayne kept repeating this theme. Again taking personal responsibility for one’e present and future is the key message. He enjoyed waking up the mentally asleep tamasic audience to live a purposeful life. Many of his fans endearingly called him as “Father of Motivation”. We are a slave to our vasanas and we let our old mental programs to dictate our present and naturally our future. Wayne wanted us to take control of our present, so that we can be masters of our own destiny. In either case, we are the masters of our destiny only that in one case, we are conscious of it and guide ourselves to a higher purpose. He never shied from sharing his personal experiences, failures, struggles. He began learning Yoga when he was almost seventy. He practiced radical humility and was always eager to live the life the fullest.

            .”The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.”
            One of Wayne’s emphasis was ignorance as a prop for ego. Krishna talks this kind of understanding of rejecting anything and everything without proper understanding as Tamasic, in the last chapter of Bhagavad Gita. Again the reason why we have this shroud of ignorance is, because of our Ego, we being separate from the source.

            “The fact that you are willing to say, ‘I do not understand, and it is fine,’ is the greatest understanding you could exhibit.”
            The above quote is a practical demonstration of Wayne’s non judgemental and practicing radical humility outlook. Accepting lack of one’s understanding is a far higher sign of maturity and receptivity, rather than an ignorant ego rejecting something it cannot fathom.

“It is impossible for you to be angry and laugh at the same time. Anger and laughter are mutually exclusive and you have the power to choose either.”
Again ties with typical Dyerism of taking personal responsibility. Between action and reaction is a gap. The gap provides us the freedom to make a choice. The choice determines the nature of outcome. The more observant one is of the gap, one finds there is increased power to choose wisely.

“Love is the ability and willingness to allow those that you care for to be what they choose for themselves without any insistence that they satisfy you.”
            Love is always giving. We find even in most loving conditions of daily life, love is conditional. Despite our tall claims, there is a strong undercurrent of atleast being recognized for the love we share to our spouse or kids. Wayne declares this as conditional love. In such a non judgemental unconditional love, one finds freedom. Real freedom to express oneself more freely. This also shapes the surroundings much better more synergistically.

”My belief is that the truth is a truth until you organize it, and then becomes a lie. I don’t think that Jesus was teaching Christianity, Jesus was teaching kindness, love, concern, and peace. What I tell people is don’t be Christian, be Christ-like. Don’t be Buddhist, be Buddha-like.”
            Wayne was open to learning from all traditions. He felt that the masses following the religion are merely aping some traditions, customs, dogmas in the name of religion, rather than following the real essence of great souls. Unless one follows the real footsteps of Christ, Buddha and the other great souls, merely practicing the –isms will be such a travesty.

“A mind at peace, a mind centered and not focused on harming others, is stronger than any physical force in the universe.”
            This is the real essence of Sanatana Dharma. Being Dharma centered and a mind that sees the presence of divinity in all, cannot have any animosity to any other life. Thus shattering the ego barrier, one is connected to the source. As the Universe Intelligence is all powerful, the mind that is tuned to this source acquires a strong power that yields to no basal things.

            “Practice being the kind of person you wish to attract.”
            Wayne applied this to every aspect of life, be it as advice to a helpless drug addict, or a person with relationship troubles or one who likes to attract abundance. Envisioning emotionally is a powerful tool that helps iron out the kinks in our personality. This also helps us to connect back to the source.

“The more you see yourself as what you’d like to become, and act as if what you want is already there, the more you’ll activate those dormant forces that will collaborate to transform your dream into your reality.”
            The first part of this quote is a very popular principle amongst motivational speakers. But Wayne always approached such ideas from the premise that we came from the Source and we are of the same kind. If the Source is approached minus the EGO, it responds in kind. It galvanizes behind the emotional request coming from the individual. The Source is equally available to all who seek it, with or without the EGO. But the EGO is the world’s best travel agent, sends all on a trip, EGO TRIP which can effectively negate the benedictions from the Source. One need to be very careful, not to become one’s own bottleneck.

“Miracles come in moments. Be ready and willing.”
            Wayne believed that miracles happened all the time. All one needs to be is willing and observant. He shared many personal experiences which one can only label as miracles, yet instead they were not met with surprise but as normal occurrences. In our own lives, we can find unexpected information or help coming from unasked quarters. If we can practice radical humility with a firm belief that the infinite organizing power of Universe that took care of us in the first nine months since our conception, it can also take care beyond that. We need to submit out egos and let Universe’s mysterious ways to organize a solution for us.  Just like the reed that yields to the wind, if we can let the Universe’s intelligence to guide and empower us without our ego clashing with its plans, we can lead infinitely better lives.

“Begin to see yourself as a soul with a body rather than a body with a soul.”
            This is the real essence of Advaita and the theme of all Indian mysticism and spirituality. We are not this body, nor are we the breath or the mind. We are not the intellect. We are not the impressions that are stored in the brain as Science tells us. People who want to sound intelligent call ourselves the soul and the ones who want to flaunt their vedantic insights call it as Atman. But unfortunately this is something that needs to be realized and can never be verbalized. Ramana Maharishi simplified this with a simple question “WHO AM I? – “Naan yaar”.
            Wayne definitely knew he was not the body and he had no fears of confronting death. He was more eager to know the other side. I sincerely wish, he will find a mechanism to communicate what his experiences on the other side is. What a blessed soul one can be if we can merely read and follow the long list of books, CDs, Videos he has left for us. He took spirituality to the masses without complicating or distorting the wisdom of the ages. May he continue to guide us. Your corporal presence will be missed, but you have already taught us that we are not this body. I am convinced that your blessings and wisdom will continue to guide us to higher realms.

Om Tat Sat

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for bringing Dyerism to us. The striking semblance in import and the congruence in essence of his sayings with ancient Hindu knowledge or for that matter of any religious teachings is unmistakable. Just goes to prove, much of what you become is from what you believe.