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Monday, October 31, 2011

Implementing Chopra's Seven Spiritual Laws of Success

Okay, so last post I reached the unspoken word count limit and I promised I'd give you the rundown on how to implement Deepak Chopra's seven laws next time.

  • Meditate, spend time in silence daily, commune with nature.
  • Focus on the moment, let go of worry.  How? Meditate, spend time in silence daily, commune with nature.
  • Give people stuff, particularly stuff you want. (!)
  • Make a list of your desires and intentions and keep it in mind, but remember not to micro-manage their implementation. Affirmations, anyone? 
  • Find your dharma: ask yourself, Self, what would I do if I didn't have to worry about getting paid? And, Self, how can I do that thing such that it helps people?

I assume one can construe that last answer broadly. For example, a blog, perhaps, might be of help to some people. It's not necessarily that you have to help little old ladies cross the street, or cure diabetes.

Okay, got it? Easy-peasy?

The thing is, all this talk about success or abundance notwithstanding, what Deepak Chopra, and a lot of these other people I've been reading, are really talking about is How to Live.

I mean, if you do everything Chopra suggests-- meditate for 30 minutes TWICE A DAY; spend ONE HOUR in silence, which you multitaskers can combine with COMMUNING WITH THE NATURAL WORLD; figure out WHAT YOU CAN GIVE to people you encounter, even something as small as a flower (and, this writer wonders if perhaps her presence might count on occasion as a gift?); DISCOVERING YOUR DHARMA & it's BENEFIT TO HUMANKIND-- you don't really have time for much else. Like worrying.  Like noticing that you've not received a paycheck recently. Like making sure your children have brushed their teeth. Your day, my tens of readers, is full. 

The thing is, I've been meditating off and on for over a decade now, and I have to say that when I'm in a meditating phase, I feel much happier than when I'm not. I don't know why exactly. There's something about being in a state of panic because you think your fridge is broken and you just spent your last penny on a house, for example, and then you sit down and make yourself focus on breathing in and out and you're able to notice, for maybe a second, that while you're sitting there, with your fancy Australian Labradoodle perplexed beside you, nothing has exploded, flooded, or collapsed on or near you, and for at least this inhalation and that exhalation, you and your loved ones are okay.

So, inner eye on the future, planting your wish list, outer eye on the moment and breathing. Heck, my tens of readers, success is really easy to obtain. Even I have it, on occasion, for a moment.

 Get busy!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Deepak Chopra Tells Us How to Succeed

Deepak Chopra's written a lot of books, given a lot of talks, and he tweets a lot, too. He's an active purveyor of the secrets of Abundance (aka, success, wealth, and happiness). Before he became this guru, however, he was a long time student of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, better known as the dude who started Transcendental Meditation. And he was once a doctor, too, although since he's  acquired so much Abundance, I doubt he practices medicine anymore. 

According to his website, Dr. Deepak Chopra has written over 60 books. I've read one,  The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success,  which turned out to be a condensed version of a different book of his, so I feel totally confident that I have a full understanding of his teachings. Which I will pass along to you, my tens of readers.

Why? Well, I actually found his book quite compelling.

I'd have to characterize it as Buddhism Lite--or Hinduism Lite, since he was born in Delhi, or was it New Delhi? Or maybe it's just New Age. Anyway, at the very least it's well-written, even if he does crib from Florence Scovel Shinn.

 In brief, the 7 Laws are:

  • Underneath it all, we are pure consciousness or "pure potentiality," 
    • so if we get in touch with that universal energy, we can channel it for our purposes. 
  • Giving. 
    • This is pretty clear. Have to give to get. Give and take keeps abundance circulating. And, the kicker--you have to give what you want to receive. So, you want money? Got to give to get, baby. 
  •  Karma, or cause and effect. 
    • Your choices affect you and those around you, so make them for their benefit as well as your own and you create good karma. 
    • What to do if you've inherited a lot of bad luck (karma)? Well, learn from the bad stuff and try to make good choices as mentioned in previous sentence, so that you nullify the bad effects of previous bad, um, effects.
  • Least Effort. 
    • Meaning to stop struggling against yourself or the world. When you live "in harmony," your efforts flow and so does good old abundance. 
  • Intention and Desire. 
    • I've talked about this in a previous post. The idea is you plant your seed of intention in your mind (in your pure consciousness, that is), and let it sprout and bloom. 
    • This is right out of Buddhist dharma talks I've read in Thich Nat Han and others: that our minds possess the seeds of all possible emotions, and that the ones we water with our attention are the ones that grow. 
    • So if you're all negative and grumpy and water those seeds, you develop your negativity and grumpiness; but if you cultivate happiness and gratitude, then, well then you become an annoying Pollyanna. But I've seen that movie, and really, she was so hard to take, because life really laid the s**t on her. 
Sorry, I digressed.
  •  Detachment. 
    • This is actually also very fundamental to Buddhism. It means here that you plant your seed of your intent: for success at whatever your endeavor is--and then you let go of trying to control the way it comes about. 
    • No micro-managing allowed. You must plant your wish, then allow it to come to fruition at the right time in the right way. Breathe. 
And finally,
  • Dharma. Which here means purpose in life. 
    • Which here means that once you listen to your true self (how to do that follows) and discover what your unique talent is, you pursue that.
    •  And according to Deepak Chopra, we each have a special and unique something. So we find that something, and align it with our deepest wish. And all will be well and abundance will flow.

Wait, I forgot to mention one thing: this dharma has to be used in service to others in order to create real  abundance in your life.

Wow. that's a lot of info there, my tens of readers. And I didn't even get to it all. Like how to implement these laws. Phew. Tune in next time, when I add my three cents to my two cents. And get: Abundcents.


Monday, October 17, 2011

How We Do It with Success

One of my high school classmates told me, "You have to talk about the unspoken working mother--at home mother divide." This classmate starred in a couple of movies, then focused on raising kids, while staying behind the scenes and helping her husband's company in the entertainment industry. She said it's prevalent or conspicuous in her childrens' schools. Who's available to volunteer for the PTA, and who's not? Who donates money to the school and who logs hours?

It's something I've noticed myself. There's this feeling--animosity might be too harsh a word--between the groups. The at-home moms assume the working moms feel tormented about leaving their children; yet we get the sense the working moms view us stay-at-home moms as a step above domestic servants, certainly as traitors to feminism, and above all, as idiots for ensnaring ourselves in financial dependency on our wage-earning spouses.

Doth I project too much?

The point is, as Motherlode recently mentioned, in an article about a movie I have no hope of seeing until it is streamed by Netflix, working parents are overstressed. The article says,  "The picture of mother as superwoman, however, is not simply a personal hand-knitted hair shirt. We’re struggling against not just our own guilt but an entire mind-set about mothers, backed by “research.” We no longer question the idea that mothers are “naturally” better parents, and that a good mother is one who satisfies the child’s every need." (Motherlode)

On the other hand, if we ignore how much a child really needs to become a functioning concerned citizen, we diminish motherhood itself. Or parenthood.

What no one is saying is that taking care of children is a full time job. Maybe it is true that mothers are "naturally" better; but isn't it possible that with so many families forced to have two wage earners, there is no one left to carry on the feminist fight? I mean, do you have time to march on Washington when every third day from the moment your children enters school until they're 7 or 8, one of them is home sick? and then you get sick? And then you have to go to work sick? I mean, if you have two or three children, you are physically depleted for a decade or more. Who's got the energy?

Sure, I'd like to think the best thing for my kids is that I, Mommy, am here for them. I mean, whatever sense of accomplishment I can eke out from the mostly thankless work of raising children depends somewhat on that belief. If there's no way to even know if what I'm doing is going to turn out well, then, yes, I like to think that what I do is important. Which kind of puts me at odds with the moms who are working outside the home AND doing the mom stuff. I mean, by saying kids need their mom at home, what am I implicitly saying about moms who aren't there?

I know one stay at home dad. Like me, he was a teacher and his spouse is a doctor. They needed someone to take care of their kids. He made less. He stayed home. Someone needs to be there for kids. They're more than afterthoughts, after all. They take a lot of creative energy and endurance to raise.

Which is why I think we've run aground on progress towards equality. At least in part. So I'd like to bridge the divide. Wouldn't it be nice if every societal role involved with children were valued, because children were valued? I mean, if you choose to specialize in anything in medicine involving children, you will earn less than you would in that specialty treating adults. And teachers? Well, I value the hell out of them, but our message as a society certainly runs the other way. And don't even get me started on how we treat at-home moms. Or nannies. Or daycare teachers. Where do they rank on the ladder of respect?

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to earn Social Security for all the years you spent lolling about on the divan eating bon-bons and, oh, right, raising the children?

And I am totally open to the idea of dads being as good primary caregivers as moms. Just that not too many do it. And until someone can watch our kids, we can't get out to change that.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Admit When You're Wrong- Rule of Success
Okay, I might owe an apology to Norman Vincent Peale, because in a previous post, I wrote that Peale expects people to be Christians to reap the benefits of faith (i.e., success.) According to Matthew Syed, who wrote a totally fascinating book Bounce: the Science of Success, which is worth a whole post of its own, N.V. Peale advocated faith in any god--not only in Jesus Christ. Syed talks a lot about success in the sporting world, and he addresses the power of faith and its role in success. (More on that later).

I figured if this bestselling author pronounces N.V. Peale as non-prescriptive about which religion, just as long as it is some kind of religion, he must know. And I admit when I'm wrong.

Admitting when you're wrong is one of the crucial underpinnings of Dale Carnegie's philosophy, by the way. It just might be the only one that comes naturally to me. Smile, admit when you're wrong, make decisions and don't look back, focus on Now. No, yes, no, and nope, can't do it.

So, worried that my tens of readers might be led astray by foolish and weakly-researched statements by yours truly, I reread N. V. Peale's book, The Power of Positive Thinking.

Thing is, I can't find any place where he says You Can Be Any Religion You Want. I mean, he's got one anecdote about a Jewish woman who, by reciting every morning, "I believe, I believe, I believe," changes her whole tale of woe into a tale of, well, WHOA!  And he's got one paragraph about a religious magazine called Guideposts that he was involved with that is "interfaith"-- by which I think he means all kinds of Christianity, from Catholicism to Episcopalianism.

So I'm not sure how Matthew Syed arrived at this conclusion. Maybe it was reading between the lines. After all, there's no mention in Power of trying to convert the Jewish woman. Or maybe N. V. Peale relaxed his standards later on, and I haven't read that book. I just don't know.

Which is why I might owe him an apology. And I might not. But Yom Kippur starts at sundown tonight, and it is the Jewish Day of Atonement, so I'm hedging my bets.

This feels a little bit like getting back in touch with my compulsive-superstitious childhood self. In sixth grade -- okay, seventh-- I went through a phase. You know the saying, "See a pin, pick it up, all the day you'll have good luck; see a pin, let it lay, and bad luck is here to stay?" Well, I must have been looking down a lot, because almost every frickin' day I found a pin. Naturally wanting to avoid bad and ensure good luck, I had to pick it up. And then at night, when I emptied my pockets, I'd put the pins on my dresser. And then in the morning, when I woke up, there were the pins from the previous day on the dresser. So I had to pick them up. Until finally I was pinning a large collection of safety pins to -- oh, heck, why not admit it--to my underwear. Which I had to unpin every night...

I made it to adulthood. Really. With just a little help from paid professionals. I promise it's not contagious. And I don't do it anymore. In fact, I don't even know where the closest safety pin is.

While I'm not entirely sure I owe an apology to Norman Vincent Peale, I am pretty sure I do owe one to the Husband. Yesterday was our anniversary. It's kind of a big one. I got him a watch, which is the so-called official gift for the fifteenth. So maybe I was just a little less than overwhelmed by the flowers he brought me. He's been very busy lately, on call fifty percent of the time, so it's a lot easier for me to shop since I'm un(der)-employed.

So why complain? The flowers are gorgeous, and they came in a vase. Crystal is another traditional gift for the fifteenth anniversary, after all. On the other hand, the vase is glass, not crystal. Jesus.

Which is why it's important for even the most secular Jew to go to synagogue once in a while.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Abundance Redundance
Last week, after spending two long hours taking care of my car's regularly scheduled maintenance plus unexpected fitting with new tires, I treated myself to a visit to our local cafe. While sipping my decaf, I felt suddenly light-headed. I immediately assumed brain cancer, at which thought my heart began pounding at high anxiety and I began feeling over-warm; reason soon suggested perimenopause. Occam's razor and all that.

Needing air, I wandered outside and down the block to Peaceful Inspirations. I don't think I need to explain what kind of store it is. But it is interesting that my little town center has, besides the coffee shop and pizza places, and a nice book and gift shop, an integrative medicine center, yoga and Pilate's studios, and Peaceful Inspirations. It's like a microcosm of Berkeley, or Cambridge, MA, places I hold dear.

And you thought Upstate New York was conservative...

Anyhoo. I wandered into the new age store, and discovered a bookshelf devoted to success. Only in this store, it's Abundance. Abundance is the mystical-spiritual term for Success. I scanned the shelf and found many of the usual suspects; but I also found a book by a woman, Florence Scovel Shinn.  Written in 1925. Twelve years before Dale Carnegie began winning friends and influencing people.

So natch, I bought Florence's book, The Game of Life and How to Play It. Because she wrote it a long time ago, and because I'd never heard of her. And because she was a woman. Unlike Dale Carnegie, of whom I have heard, and who was a man.

The other reason I had to buy it was that when I opened it up to the table of contents, I saw this:

And I had just begun reading Deepak Chopra's book from 1993, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, whose table of contents is this:

Which one of those was written first? Which one have I heard of? And which was written by a man?

So either Deepak Chopra owes a debt to Florence Scovel Shinn, or I haven't read deeply enough in his books to learn that he has indeed credited her with inspiration.

A third possibility is that Chopra and his ilk and Shinn and hers, arrived at similar conclusions independently, coming from Eastern spiritual philosophy and Western respectively. The so-called Wisdom Traditions, which is the semi-academic name given to these books that all seem to suggest the same types of spiritual practices as the key to success--excuse me, my tens of readers, I mean abundance--is a general public-domain type deal. In other words, everyone who draws on it, is drawing from such an established and understood pool of ancient wisdom that, you know, copyright isn't necessary to be observed.

There's not a single book I've mentioned lately that doesn't mention meditation, relaxation exercises, and positive thoughts as keys to success. This hodge-podge cross-fertilization of Hindu- Buddhist and Judeo-Christian ideas has been around for a long time. It blended into a strange mix of new ideas in 19th Century America.

William James, psychologist, philosopher, brother of Henry, and a dabbler in spiritualism himself, if memory serves, described Shinn's precursors as Mind Cure people. They called themselves members of the New Thought movement. Whatever they were called, they believed that through proper prayer and thought one could cure any physical or mental ailment.

Through prayer and thought, did I say? Yes, I did. That would be through AFFIRMATIONS. Shinn's books are chock full of miraculous cures for everything, especially poverty (she wrote from the 1920s through the 1940s) using prayers and affirmations in the name of JESUS.

The corollary being not so kind to the sufferers of chronic or acute illness or emotional problems, or the unemployed. Blame the victim anyone?

But I digress. And I haven't even gotten to Deepak. Another time. I've reached the maximum acceptable word count for blog posts.

Besides, I've got to meditate. And review my affirmations.