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Dr. Wayne Dyer on His New DVD, The Shift & His Latest Book, Excuses Begone!
June 2009 | Laurie Nadel interviews Wayne Dyer.
Nadel: Dr. Dyer, you write about what happens when we step into the afternoon of life. How do people know when they’re in the afternoon of life? I mean what kind of shifts happen in our lives?
Dyer: Carl Jung writes that the afternoon of our lives represents the time when we begin to shift away from the ego being the dominant force in our life. We begin moving towards a life journey that has meaning. The morning of our lives is really occupied by ambition—getting as much as you can, collecting as much stuff as you can get, impressing as many people as you can, preparing yourself for a job, saving your money, setting goals, pleasing everybody, and doing the right thing. Even getting good grades in school revolved around the ego part of us, which really believes that who we are is what we do, what we get, and what other people think of us. That’s basically the essence of the ego. In the afternoon of your life, you don’t do life. You do what resonates with the callings of your soul.
Nadel: How does the current global economic, sociopolitical, and spiritual crisis give people a surprising opportunity to find their true purpose?
Dyer: Yeah. First of all, I’m not in a crisis, and I’m not in an economic crisis at all.
Nadel: No, I understand that but other people are.
Dyer: I think a big part of this “crisis” that everybody is talking about is all about fear. We’ve been force-fed a steady diet of fear. The statistics come out–500,000 jobs lost. Five-hundred thousand jobs lost doesn’t mean that a half a million people are going to go jump off a cliff or even get unemployment. They’re going to get different jobs or they’re going to do something different.
Everybody that was making cassette tapes ten years ago lost his job, but it doesn’t mean that that’s a horrible crisis. It means that those people are now making DVDs or that they’re moving. The world is always shifting. The Tao teaches us to get to a place of contentment and become the observer. Just notice it. The material world is never flat. It always has its ups and downs. In a deep well within us all misfortune and good fortune is hidden. In all good fortune, misfortune is hidden. When you’re at a peak, you know you’re going to go down into a valley. When you hit the bottom, you’re going to go up. We just kill ourselves with all of this information, and all of this fear. You can’t go anywhere without hearing people talk about it.
Nadel: Right. People are panicked. Some of it is just the emotional and negative propaganda.
Dyer: There are 300 million people in this shift in our country alone. Every one of them has to eat. That’s a billion meals a day right there. Infinite patience produces immediate results. You are right in the way you form your questions. There are enormous opportunities in moments like this. You can become so fear-based that you become immobilized. That’s what happening in the economy.
Collectively, everybody is fearing that but nobody is willing to take any risks. Nobody is willing to spend any money. Credit has dried up. You can analyze it all from the sub prime mortgages, the opening market and the banking industry but by and large, the country has come to a halt because of something called fear.
Nadel: The Tao, doesn’t it talk about the fear of loss —
Dyer: Oh, yeah! Absolutely! Yeah.
Nadel: And emptiness? And the fear of emptiness? And yet, in emptiness, there’s the whole promise of being refilled.
Dyer: It’s so true! The idea that the way you were going to come out of this crisis is by just getting more credit or just spending, spending, spending. There’s really no such thing as an economy. You can’t find an economy any more than you can find strep. It’s so intertwined with every single thing that we do. So, this entire economy idea that we’re all in the sheer state of collapse because of some terrible thing that’s happening in an economy is the stuff that everybody is buying into and being afraid of. I think it’s a cleansing process. I think we’re cleaning out some of the sediment. Forest fires do that. Tsunamis do that. Nature does that. All those bad loans and bad stuff, there is something positive about it.
In my life, any time I’ve ever lost something, I’ve gotten something even better going around the next corner. It’s like one door closes and another door opens.
Nadel: I remember you said to me as I lost my column—I wrote a religion column for the New York Times. That was how we first met. When I lost my column because of editorial management changes, you said that sometimes God sweeps the table clean so that you can get ready to do something else. Otherwise, you just get too comfortable where you are.
Dyer: Every spiritual advance that we make as people is preceded by a fall of some kind or another. When you are at a low point in your life, whether it’s an accident, an illness, a depression, a relationship breaking up, or loss of a job that constitutes a fall. I like to use this metaphor: When I was in high school, I was on the track team. I was the high jumper. In order to get my body over this bar that was set up there, I had to run up to the bar, then I had to get down as low as I could, and then the lower I would get down to the ground, the more energy that I would generate to propel myself over this bar. I think of that as a metaphor for all of this. You’re in a low point in your life. Whenever you have these low points, you can begin to recognize that you are generating energy and you are going to propel yourself to a higher place. Whenever you’re going through a tough time, generally, you become more compassionate. You become softer, more thoughtful, kinder. These are all spiritual qualities that will help you to align yourself with God and God consciousness rather than with a split fear-based consciousness.
Nadel: I’d like to go back to the beginning of our conversation. For a lot of people, who we are is based on what we have.
We have what I call “The Four Assumptions of Western Civilization:” More is better, bigger is better, newer is better, and faster is better. People chase, they consume, and they go into debt chasing after these four assumptions. And now, it’s like God pulls the table cloths away and says: Guess what, people? These four assumptions are false. They’re flawed. Now, you’re going to have to find out what’s real and what’s true.
Dyer: I think that’s so true, Laurie. It’s letting go. In the recovery movement, we all know that. We call that letting go and letting God. Just getting your ego out of the picture. That’s what this movie, The Shift is really about. One of the reasons why I wanted to do this film is that because only one out of ten people read a book in their life time. I mean, 100% of the books are read by 10% of the population but 90% of the people do go to movies.
Nadel: That’s true.
Dyer: And when we can make a shift, I really think we can make a difference. We come into this world with nothing; we leave this world with nothing. Our spiritual essence has nothing to do with owning things.
Nadel: What do you say to people who say that I am what other people think of me? If I lose money, then it means that I’m a bad person, and I’m a loser, and God is punishing me? There’s a tremendous shame that people feel around their financial losses.
Dyer: Yeah, that’s stuff that they learned. They are called “memes.” Memes are little mind viruses that have been planted in you from the time that you were a little boy or a little girl. You learned the essence of those things even when you were very little about your toys and how important they were, and making sure that you had more toys than other people, and all of those kinds of things. Then, when we began to believe these messages that my worth as a human being is tied into what other people think of me, and how much I have, and what I do, and how much I accomplish, they are all memes. They are not true. My new book really addresses this.
The Excuses Be Gone paradigm looks at such thoughts as worrying about what other people are thinking. You then ask yourself the key question: First of all, is it true? Can you be 100% sure that what you’re saying is true? Don’t believe everything you think. Almost everything that you think doesn’t hold up to a simple-truth test. It just doesn’t hold up.
Nadel: In The Shift, you said, “What was true in the morning has become a lie in the afternoon.”
Dyer: If you’re moving towards purpose in your life, and that’s the afternoon of your life, but you’re doing it using the same tool that you used to feed your ego for the morning of your life, you’ll be living a lie. You can’t find peace. You can’t find meaning by trying to be better than somebody else, by being more spiritual than somebody else, by comparing yourself to others.
What was true in the morning is that you had to get good grades in school. You felt you did, anyway. You had to get that job and you had to get ahead of everybody else. You had to accumulate and weigh the substance of your accomplishments. Those are all the constructs that we have in the morning of our life. When you reach the afternoon of your life, you find that you do not feel fulfilled by being “better” than somebody else. It’s by going within and getting quiet and not paying attention at all to what other people think. You live your life from the perspective of what you think of me is none of my business. Whereas, in the morning, what you think of me is totally my business and if I don’t like it, I’ll change in order to make everybody like me. If you try to continue that kind of process when you’re in the afternoon of your life, you’re living a lie. It just isn’t going to work for you. One of the things that almost always makes people feel better is when they let go of stuff. Try a simple exercise of going through your closet and taking 10% of the things that are in there that you haven’t worn for the last year and give them away. It’s a pretty neat feeling.
The opposite is when you go out and buy more and try to stuff it in there, but you don’t have enough room.
Nadel: It’s true but then, people are consumed by more is better, newer is better.
Dyer: And those, again, are memes. When you start to apply the principles of that paradigm, ask yourself, “What if I just simply couldn’t think that I need to have more in order to feel better?”
Nadel: Isn’t that what we’re being asked to do in a way right now? A lot of the momentum that has been driving us as a culture has come to a screeching halt, and I think it’s giving people a tremendous opportunity to really examine who they are without the kind of shell around them of what they all are, what their job is, or that they make more money than the guy down the street.
Dyer: Yeah. I mean, I think about that myself. If everything just collapses, and the banks all close, whatever it is, I’m going to be fine because I’m perfectly capable of being picked up by a helicopter tomorrow and dropped off in Uzbekistan—in a country that I don’t have any clue about—and I know I can survive!
Nadel: Exactly! I lived as kind of a gypsy when I was 25. If I had $300.00 in my pocket and an airplane ticket to someplace in the middle of the jungle, I was the happiest camper in the world. It was wonderful because you had to connect with people. Someone always introduced me to a family that would take me in for a few nights. I would offer to help them with the dishes or hang out with their young kids in exchange for their kindness.
Dyer: That’s great. I bet you look back on those times with fondness, and pride, and joy. I remember a lot of those days in my life.
Nadel: There is something wonderful about having resilience. And knowing that I’m always going to be fine because I know how to help other people, and I know how to ask other people for help. It is possible to exchange service. “Can I walk you to the corner?” “Go to the store for you?” “Can I wash the dishes for you?”
Dyer: That’s a knowing that I have within. I joke that as long as I can walk through every grocery store in this country and eat the grapes that they’re going to throw away, I know I can be fine.
Nadel: We forget also, that the abundance that we have around us, that we could actually utilize. I remember I was talking to a friend the other day about Steal This Book by Abby Hoffman. It describes how you just have to know when the Sanitation Department is picking up the furniture on Park Avenue. You can stroll along Park Avenue the night before the pick up and you can get all these free antiques and $10,000.00 chairs that people are getting rid of because they changed the color scheme. You don’t even ever have to buy furniture.
So, tell me a little bit more about Excuses Be Gone. How it can help people right now in that kind of state of catastrophe and catharsis that we’re experiencing?
Dyer: People use excuses as an explanation for staying the same. Basically, that’s what I think an excuse is. It’s just an explanation that we use to ourselves and a justification for staying the same.
I don’t wish ill will on anybody, but I really would like people to know that they have so much resiliency within themselves.
Get past the fear. Your fear is this way of processing the world in such a way that the outcome is always some kind of a disaster; some kind of a war or something.
Nadel: A catastrophe. You’re in the disaster movie, and you’re looking out through your own eyes, and you feel like it’s already happened.
Dyer: Yeah, right. I think that perhaps this global economic crisis is, on another level, a call for us to change our values and to become more compassionate, more gentle, caring, and sincere.
Nadel: I love the sentence with which you end The Shift: “Even after all this time, the sun never says to the Earth, ‘You owe me.’”
Dyer: Yes. Just think what a love like that can do.
Laurie Nadel, Ph.D. hosts The Dr. Laurie Show on Genesis Communications Network. She mentors people who are recovering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, phobias, and fears. www.laurienadel.com
Reprinted with permission