If this is the first time you have read this series on how to create Positive Change in your life, please read the previous chapters in the series before continuing –
After reading the preceding chapters you will have a strong foundation, and a set of tools you can apply to your life to essentially get whatever you want.
In the previous chapter, part five, I introduced the idea that there are two forces that have a significant impact on our lives. They are –
- All other humans on this planet, in particular those you come into contact with somehow during your life time.
- The greater universe, or intelligence, or spirit, or god, or whatever you want to call it, behind how everything works.
I began a discussion on what I have come to know of the force behind everything, as I choose to perceive it. This chapter I will reveal to you how I gained my awareness of aspects of this force, why I decided to interpret it as so, and how you can come to know it and leverage it for your own positive change.
Bear in mind, as I’ve stated previously, all of this comes down to your choice to see these spiritual aspects of your existence and give them meaning. You can ignore these ideas if you want to, take parts, adapt them to fit within your existing religious or spiritual context or label it all a bunch of hogwash – basically do whatever you like.
The only recommendation I have for you is to stay open minded enough to read these words and conceive them as you choose, don’t ignore them just out of ignorance. If something rings true to you, take it on board, if it doesn’t, then ignore it. If you’re not sure, experiment, then decide. You make the rules, but you have to at least be open to new ideas for them to potentially benefit you.
Authors, Omens, The Secret And The Power Of Now
Let me take you back on a quick trip through my studies of the subject of the nature of why things are the way they are. This is a particularly contemporary journey if you believe the world is going through some kind of awakening right now, because in many ways it chronicles a form of awakening within me to the idea of a force behind everything.
Given the background stories I revealed in the previous chapter, explaining situations that have left me asking questions about the nature of my existence, what I’m about to reveal is my attempt to find some answers from other sources, in particular authors of popular spiritual literature.
The Alchemist By Paulo Coelho
In my early twenties, I was as lost as most people are when it comes to purpose. I was in university, working part time jobs and cruising along in an at times mildly depressive stupor. It was a roller coaster time for me, and I often felt lost and helpless, though there were many good times too.
One of the very first books I read during this period that had a profound impact on me, was The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
The Alchemist is a parable about a young shepherd’s journey across the desert in search of a treasure. The book offers many spiritual insights as you travel along with the shepherd, but essentially, the core message is that life is a journey, not a destination. I’ve never read a book that does a better job of delivering this message and making it real for me.
Paulo as an author has an incredible ability to use language to express feelings, like no other writer I have ever come across. The Alchemist opened my eyes to many ideas and made the world feel much more spiritual.
One concept in particular stuck with me, the idea that there are “omens” or sign-posts that the universe presents to help guide you towards your purpose (Paulo calls this purpose your “Personal Legend”). Before this I had certainly marveled at life’s little coincidences, the cool things that happen and you go – “wow, that’s just uncanny” – but I didn’t really see them as sign-posts, or omens, or divine messages given to you by some kind of force.
I went on to read all of Paulo Coelho’s books that have been translated into English, many of which had a profound impact on me (try The Pilgrimage, Veronika Decides To Die, The Devil and Miss Prim and The Valkyries). His writing made me see the world as something that is DESIGNED to help me, if I’m willing to acknowledge and work with the “omens” that are not just random coincidences, they have real meaning, if I am willing to see them that way.
Rather than feel like a floating random object in a completely random universe, I now decided that I would work with the idea that there are forces at play that I can choose to work with, rather than ignore. Even if I wasn’t sure whether they existed (and boy do have I plenty of examples since then that I can choose to see as proof – life is one big example!), I may as well work with them if they can help me experience what I want.
The Secret, What The Bleep Do We Know And The Law of Attraction
Years later after first discovering The Alchemist, and having started to well and truly develop a sense of spirituality, I began to focus more on my own personal development, in a concentrated manner.
Prior to this I “floated” a lot in life and didn’t really push myself. As I discovered what I wanted to do for a living, realized what I was good at, and became more settled in my direction, it became clear what parts of my personal development needed work. It was around then that I discovered Steve Pavlina’s personal development blog and first heard about an underground hit movie called The Secret.
There are plenty of mixed feelings out there about The Secret, which is inevitable when something becomes mainstream. Some view it as misleading and preying on fools who think they can just “imagine up” whatever they want. Others consider it a truly powerful tool for manifesting what you want in your life and follow it with near evangelical fanaticism.
I viewed the movie while it was still technically an underground hit, with certain groups online spreading the word. It hadn’t made it to Oprah yet, so most people didn’t know about it, and hence I had very few preconceptions. My reaction to it was extremely positive, and I felt truly inspired, taking away a strong message of hope and a sense of power that I could influence many aspects of my life.
I’m not going to dissect The Secret here, however I recommend if you haven’t seen it yet, go out and do so, it’s enjoyable, just keep a level head when you do. I recommend the original movie, not the book. .
The core message that The Secret reinforced was similar to what Paulo Coelho’s books had first instilled in me, talking about universal forces that you work with for benefit. The Secret took it further, mixing in some science and attempted to present a practical process to make it real in your life, along with some hype and intrigue to make it exciting and help it spread further.
Before watching The Secret I had viewed What The Bleep Do We Know (and there’s the extended version – Down The Rabbit Hole), which also attempts to meld science with spirituality, though the focus on science, in particular quantum mechanics, is stronger in What The Bleep.
I find the merging of these two worlds fascinating, as in general the practitioners of science and the believers of spirit don’t get along too well when it comes to agreeing on the nature of the universe. Science looks for hard proof using a set of laws considered truth by the practitioners, and runs experiments within this framework of truth to verify or disprove hypothesis. Spiritual seekers come to know things based on faith, feelings, experiences and a choice to see things in a certain way.
I’m not a scientist, so I found what was revealed in these movies regarding science backing up the spirituality, and vice-versa (though science of course would never ask for help from spirituality for validation) interesting and even inspiring, however I’m wary of the extreme viewpoint in both groups.
Some scientists see an absolute truth that is just too absolute for me, and some spiritual people are perhaps too devoted to something that they lose their sense of physical reality. Of course all of this is fine, and we should cherish that we have freewill to enjoy these different viewpoints that people are willing to explore and share with us, so we can make up our own minds.
The Secret draws heavily upon a concept known as The Law of Attraction (LOA), which you could say is the secret. The movie features Esther and Jerry Hicks, the former of whom is said to channel an entity known as “Abraham”. These three are the most well known teachers of the LOA, and I found Esther’s (or Abraham’s) contribution to The Secret compelling. It was my first exposure to the LOA.
The Law Of Attraction is a universal law that says like attracts like, and with the power of your intention you “pull” towards you what you are focusing on and feeling. In fact we are doing this all the time, with our thoughts, feelings, decisions and actions dictating what kind of life we lead.
The idea that the universe is governed by this force, is quite compatible with the concept of “omens” introduced in The Alchemist. If you want something, you think about it and feel what it would feel like to experience what you want (this is important), doors then open for you (look for omens) thanks to the LOA, and if you decide to walk through the doors they lead to what you want.
Steve Pavlina talks about the need to change your vibration to resonate with the energy you want to attract, which is why it is so important to feel the state you want to be in, even if you are not. However it has to be genuine, you can’t fake this or fool yourself, so Steve recommends visualization as a helpful tool to manifest the feeling in you, to change your vibration and thus attract what you want.
We are dynamic creatures and the LOA is very specific, so what you think you want isn’t always what you project to the universe, hence more often than not we don’t attract quite what we are expecting. The process takes refinement, because let’s face it, most of us don’t know exactly what we want, instead we live through a process of elimination learning about what we DON’T want, to discover what we really want (and ultimately realize we had it inside us all along!).
The process takes time, and given we feel such strong emotions in a single moment, we often want things to be different immediately, when in reality change on the outside is not instant. Most people lack prolonged focus and congruency between thoughts, feelings and actions to truly leverage what the LOA proposes to offer, at least if we are to use it in a proactive way to get what we want.
The Secret, What the Bleep and discovering the Law of Attraction, like all spiritual resources I’ve come across, taught me many things, but “learning” is not the right way to put it. It feels more like a sense of “this is right” and “I know this already, but it just wasn’t as clear as it is now“. It’s a clarification process rather than learning process – it’s as if we are remembering how something works, but the knowledge was always there, it just needed the light of our awareness shined upon it.
That being said, it’s challenging to practice the LOA, and I’ve had to continuously refine my understanding of how it works, and my own practice of it. At times I haven’t believed it at all, or ignored it, while in other points in my life, like with my perception of Omens, I’ve seen uncanny proof in my life that the LOA is well and truly active.
The Law Of Attraction As A Process
The beautiful thing about the LOA and at least part of what is presented in The Secret and What The Bleep Do We Know, is the practicality of the ideas, even if you are exceptionally pragmatic and decide to throw away any need to “have faith” and instead just look at results.
You can switch off the spiritual aspect, ignore the concept of some kind of universal force helping you and look at it as a process that, if executed well, works.
If you convince yourself that certain actions will take you to where you want to go, the simple act of taking action and making decisions will lead you closer to the result, because of the fact that you took action.
If you decide you want to make a change to your life, the typical process goes something like this –
- Isolate the problem you have, opening a door in your awareness that helps you “see” possible opportunities for change
- When opportunities surface you decide which to pursue
- This eventually leads to taking a set of actions, and ultimately…
- You have a result
You repeat this process until you reach a point where you are satisfied with the change.
None of this requires you believe you have some kind of universal force helping you and you don’t even need to consider any science about quantum particles affected by your intentions, thus drawing things to you. It’s just do this and this happens. Simple as that.
You can make this process as spiritual or scientific as you want to, or you can ignore it all and just see what happens when you make decisions and take action.
I personally feel more inspired and life is more enjoyable when I acknowledge, respect and flow with what I perceive as a force that is there to help me. This is especially true when I’m struggling and my emotions are doing everything they can to derail my progress. The battle between emotion, logic, mind and body is an absolute roller coaster ride, so being able to see the divine behind the every day and know your purpose, helps you to maintain focus.
(You can read about the practical implementation of this attitude in my blog article – How To Remain Productive When You Feel Like Giving Up.)
It helps me to believe in universal laws because it makes me feel a lot less alone, which may in fact be one of the core reasons we even want there to be some kind of force helping us – so we don’t feel lonely. Whether or not that force exists is completely subjective, no matter how strong science might argue for or against it. It’s up to you to decide whether it exists and then use that belief, or lack thereof, to help you.
When things are subjective (which ultimately is everything in life – there is no such thing as truth, only perceived truth, even in science), that means we have the power of interpretation. I’ve learned to make “smart choices” and leverage what appears to work and what feels best. Feelings are fantastic barometers for how well you are doing and what is true for you. It’s a smart idea to leverage your feelings to help you, rather than hinder you.
The Power of Now
In 2009 a new phenomenon surfaced in the form of author Eckhart Tolle, who aided by the raw distribution power of Oprah, was able to influence a lot of people with the ideas in his book, A New Earth.
Before A New Earth, Eckhart rose to fame with his first book, The Power of Now, which I studied in audio format in 2009 along with the ten part Eckhart and Oprah series on The New Earth.
Eckhart’s core idea is that there is only one moment, the now, and all human suffering and problems stem from two sources –
- The ego’s insatiable need for recognition, and
- Our deranged fascination with the future and the past, which only exist in the mind
Eckhart is an incredible force for clarity. Although his writing, and definitely his speaking style (I’ve attended a couple of his in-person workshops), are at times dry and lack flavor, his ability to make statements that cut through the noise of life is incredible.
Studying Eckhart’s teachings took my self awareness to a new level. Previously in my life when I had panic attacks, as a means to stop them I became aware of my own thoughts, that little voice inside my head that talks to me throughout the entire day, which we all have.
Becoming aware of your self-talk is an incredibly powerful skill, especially when you work on manipulating it to become a force for reinforcing positive aspects of your life, rather than negative. The little voice often defaults to negativity, if you have learned negative thought patterns as your standard viewpoint in life, which many of us have. Monitoring this “conversation” with yourself and then changing it to positive can drastically improve your life – it certainly did for me.
Eckhart made me question what, or who, exactly this voice is. Once you become aware of the voice you start to realize there must be the voice and the observer of the voice – so who or what is the observer?
Trying to “think” your way to an answer to this question is impossible, the only way to know is to stop the voice and see what is left. This, in essence, is the power of now – the single moment where you exist with no label, no voice, no projection into the future or reference into the past (both constructs of the mind and communicated to you through the little voice). Once you enter the now and become present, your true identity arises, or so Eckhart teaches.
I’ve written extensively about the idea of entering the present, or what is sometimes called – Flow State – something we all enter when we experience what we are most passionate about, or when situations force us to focus. In my life, writing blog posts where I tap into creative forces to create content results in entering flow in the present, as does playing tennis, and listening to music. Other people experience this when they race cars, or rock climb, or speak on stage, or read a book, or in all manner of activities.
For a more detailed look at flow state, how your memories of the past slow you down and how your expectations of the future cause stress, read – If You Want Success Today, Let Yesterday Go And Stop Seeking Tomorrow.
After you stop the voice, become still and enter the now, it can be said that you have gone as close to the spirit as you can in physical form. Much spiritual practice, especially in some religions and yogic philosophies, have an objective to reach a state where you transcend the physical. The “practice”, whether it is prayer, meditation, a set of movements or a form of devotion, have the same purpose, to help you drop your attachment to the physical, in order to enter the spiritual realm. This state of letting go is considered blissful and leads to becoming enlightened, or at least that is what is taught, and apparently experienced by a select few people on this planet.
Clearly we are entering a realm of discussion you’re not used to reading on a blog like this about internet marketing, and if you’re still reading this, I expect you are at least interested in this topic and have a sense of spirituality about you. I said this series of articles was heading in a new direction, although I believe a discussion like this, especially as it impacts creating positive change, is relevant, even to internet marketing, since we are all humans trying to figure things out for ourselves.
Ultimately, as you constantly change and move toward what you want in your life, questions of the nature of your existence will arise, as they did for me and do for countless others. However I like to keep things practical whenever possible, and I believe this is one of my strengths. I enjoy examining the spiritual and have experienced transcendent moments to know how true they are, but I also see the need to translate this into the physical world, so the ideas can reach as large an audience as possible.
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Eckhart Tolle has a great lesson for us, which can be observed without any spiritual context at all, and can be of immense practical benefit. He’s wrapped this concept into what he calls the Ego.
The word “ego” for me came with some baggage that was developed because of how I heard the word used during my upbringing. To put it simply – to have a “big ego” was considered bad. It means you are full of yourself, that you consider yourself superior to everyone else and this makes you arrogant and unlikable. As I grew up, whenever I became confident of something I suddenly became wary of how I expressed it for fear of being labeled as having too big an ego.
My interpretation of the ego had nothing to do with Sigmund Freud’s use of the term in Psychoanalysis. Although surrounded by counselors, therapists and psychotherapists in my family, I walked a decidedly different path and focused on business instead. As a result I simply saw the ego as your sense of self – similar to your self esteem, which had to be kept down to earth in order to avoid becoming labeled as something I saw as negative – a person who spent way too much time basking in their own glory.
Eckhart introduces the concept of the Ego as a form of energy that exists in all of us, which although only a construct of thoughts, is powerful enough to be at the heart of all the worlds problems, and most of our individual issues as well.
The Ego is our identity with form. If the present moment is the doorway to our true self as a part of spirit, the Ego is the opposite and thus the tool we use to operate within the physical world. The Ego is nothing more than labels and emotional responses we have assigned to the labels. It allows us to operate within the world, but unfortunately for most people on the planet, the ego is conditioned to operate from a base level of fear and scarcity, and as a result, stimulates negative emotions and actions.
The Ego demands recognition and is constantly comparing itself to other things. It lashes out when it doesn’t get what it wants, makes you feel good when people praise you and always demands more. It has an insatiable desire – and that, unfortunately is why it is impossible to satisfy the Ego.
Eckhart’s teachings about the Ego are helpful because it makes you reflect on how you react to your world. If you identify how you think and feel with the Ego, and not your true self, you begin to see how dependent you are on everything and everyone around you.
This is a terrible place to come from because everything about you is dictated by external forces. Your validation comes from other people and material existence, which means you are like a ship lost at sea, impacted by every gain and loss, forever riding a roller coaster of emotion. You cry out when someone takes something from you, and look to validate your existence by demonstrating to others that you matter. If what you are is dependent on what is false – on what material possessions you own, what you do for a job, how much money you make, how attractive your physical appearance is, where you live and ultimately – what other people think of you – then you suffer.
Of course there is purpose in Ego. You need the reference point offered by an understanding of the Ego and its separateness from who you are, so you can discover the “power of now” – the present moment where Ego can’t exist and where what you truly are does. Once you do this, you gain freedom, the kind of freedom that only comes from a new awareness of what your existence is, where nothing – and I truly mean nothing – can impact you in a way you don’t choose to let it impact you. This is how people reach a new level of awakening – which you might call enlightenment – when they realize they are not their physical form, and thus transcend the mundane motivations of the Ego.
I wholeheartedly recommend you read the Power of Now and A New Earth, in that order, regardless of your spiritual or religious beliefs. I find the ideas very applicable and practical, and although difficult to absorb and practice completely (I’m far from a master myself), opening this door is a very powerful first step towards a new way of being.
This is not a light subject, and I don’t expect all of this to sink in for you if you are new to these ideas or they challenge your current beliefs. These are concepts that I’ve learned from studying the words of other people and referencing them back to my own experiences and seeing what fits. This is not meant to be gospel or a new form of religion – they are simply words which I’ve attached meaning to. It’s up to you to decide what you do with them, but I hope they benefit you in some way.
Where Does This Leave Us?
I’ve introduced various concepts in this article, including –
- The existence of Omens delivered by a universe that has intention, if we choose to believe and follow them
- The Law of Attraction – like attracts like – which means how we think and feel dictates what we experience and actually manipulates the physical world
- The power of the present moment, which in essence is all we have and all we will ever have
- The insatiable Ego, driven by a fear of loss and a desire for recognition, necessary to navigate the physical world, but unfortunately completely out of control causing us to make decisions rooted in fear
All of these concepts refer to the existence of two realms – the physical world, which we all know very well, and the spiritual world, or what you might call what is “not” the physical world, or at least not perceivable by our physical awareness, which not everyone believes in.
For me, understanding and believing in these ideas, or at least using them as tools to help live my life, has helped to enrich my experience of creating what I want from my existence. Of course they are not hard-truths for me, but nevertheless, they have immense value, and simply put – make my life more peaceful to live.
There’s one more resource I want to talk about before I end this section of the series on Positive Change, something that I’ve come to call my “bible”, which surprised me, especially coming from such a secular background. This resource ties in all the concepts talked about above – and more importantly has offered to me a possible explanation for why we all exist and what’s the point of life in the first place.
Ultimately what I’m talking about is just a story I’ve decided to give meaning to – a construction of ideas that in this case, make a heck of a lot of sense. Sense, however, isn’t the appropriate word because it implies understanding from a physical, logical “thinking” viewpoint. In this case, simply “knowing” it’s true – the ultimate feeling when you break open an awareness that experience dictates as true – is what I am talking about.
Confused? That’s to be expected, and I’ll do my best to explain what I’m talking about and reveal what this resource is, in the next chapter in this series.
For the time being, take on board these ideas and see if they help you see a new form of truth. I encourage you to seek more information and study the resources I’ve referenced to come to your own conclusions. These ideas can help you realize a form of positive change in your life that transcends anything physical, which is truly the highest form of change you can ever experience.
Update: Part 7 is available – What Is The Nature Of Truth?