Dr. Wayne W. Dyer has been teaching people to live better lives for nearly 40 years. First coming from the perspective of a psychologist and then as a spiritual teacher, his books, recordings, and talks have influenced millions. After four decades, his core message has become incredibly simple and equally profound: You are the same as your Source. You are God. Because you come from God, you cannot be anything but God. All of Dr. Dyer’s current work boils down to helping people realize this fundamental truth and overcome obstacles to living lives that fully recognize it.
Dr. Dyer is the most popular teacher in the mind/body/spirit genre. He has written more than 30 books, and his National Public Television specials have raised more than $120 million for public television. The most recent vehicles of his teaching include the 2007 book Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao, in which Dr. Dyer reflects upon the verses of the Tao Te Ching and their wisdom in living a life of balance and alignment with nature; his new bookExcuses Begone!, in which he examines how to overcome memes—the viral, self-defeating thinking habits that prevent you from living your life’s purpose; and the new feature film The Shift, which stars Dr. Dyer, Portia de Rossi, and Michael DeLuise in a spiritual movie about discovering that life purpose.
We sat down with Dr. Dyer in Tampa, Florida, and talked about current topics both metaphysical and mainstream, from the law of attraction to laws about gay marriage; from the impact of Lao-tzu to the impact of Barack Obama; and from how we are failing future generations to how we can best serve them.
Hemachandra: Starting with The Secret, which has reached such a wide audience, the emphasis in today’s popular understanding of the law of attraction is predominantly about material wealth. What are the consequences of that kind of skew to this teaching?
Dyer: First of all, I think the law of attraction has been misstated. You do not attract what you want. You attract what you are. That’s how the law of attraction works.
Twenty-five centuries ago in ancient China, Lao-tzu said there were four virtues. If you live them—if you live in a place of God-consciousness—the universe will give you God-consciousness. If you live in a place of ego-consciousness, though, the universe will give you more of that.
One virtue is reverence for all of life. You revere all life. You never kill, you never harm, you never wish harm, and you never have thoughts of harm directed toward yourself or others. Another virtue is natural sincerity, which is manifested as honesty. Just be honest with who you are. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Don’t be a phony. Walk your talk. That’s how God works, so doing it is emulating how Source works. The third virtue is gentleness, which manifests as kindness toward all others.
The fourth virtue, which is relevant here, is supportiveness. If you say to the universe, “Gimme, gimme, gimme,” which is what a lot of the work around the law of attraction says because of a misinterpretation, then the universe gives you back what you offered out. You get more “gimme, gimme, gimme.” “Gimme” means you don’t have enough. You have a shortage. The universe just keeps giving you more shortage because of what you’re thinking and saying.
If, on the other hand, you say to the universe again and again, “How may I serve? How may I serve? How may I serve?” and you live a life of constancy reflecting that principle, the universe will respond back, “How may I serve you?”
Hemachandra: With an approach centered on lack and need, even if you are getting things, the feeling of shortage keeps coming back to you. So no matter what you get, you still always feel the need, don’t you?
Dyer: Exactly, and that’s why I say you don’t get what you want, you get what you are. When you live the virtues—when you live in that place of God-consciousness—all these rules we have about cause and effect, beginnings and ends, don’t have any impact or relevance. As Joel Goldsmith said, in the presence of the God realized, the laws of the material world do not apply.
That’s why people who live steadfastly at a place of God-consciousness can perform miracles. They can create. They can make virtually anything happen. From the space in-between, that last inch is the critical inch you have to take to reach that place. Every once in a while, I get to that place of God-consciousness, and miracles do happen.
Hemachandra: I’ve heard you say that it’s not you, Wayne Dyer, creating when you write in the early hours of the morning. It’s Source. What does it feel like to have Source expressing itself through you?
Dyer: How can I put words on it? It’s magical. It’s blissful. It’s awe. Rumi said sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment.
It’s just being bewildered—being in that state of pure awe. When I’m on purpose—when I’m allowing Source to come through—it’s always there. At those times, I’m not focused on any ego sense about how much I’m going to make, how well a book is going to do, whether people are going to buy it, or any of that. I just go to a state of awe and gratitude—I’m deeply, profoundly grateful—and it just works. The first words out of my mouth every morning are “I thank you.” Rumi said if there’s only one prayer you say every day, make it “thank you.”
Thank you, thank you, thank you—I start out every day that way. It puts you into this place where you know you’re connected to something big. Lao-tzu speaks about not living the Tao but letting yourself be lived by it. You surrender to it. You just say, “Whatever you want to do with me, I’m cool with it.” You know that you’re being used for wonderful, divine, great, and beautiful pleasure and purpose.
Hemachandra: Your first book came out in 1971, nearly forty years ago. How has the way you teach, even more than the content of what you teach, changed?
Dyer: I used to teach psychology, and I don’t do that anymore. I teach spirituality. And the way that I teach now is just by listening. I listen a lot.
For years I taught in universities and high schools for classes of 30 or 35 students. Now I teach in very large venues with thousands of people in the audience. I used to have notes. Now I just let go and let God. I just allow it to come, and I didn’t do that before. I never even used the word “God” for twenty or twenty-five years. Now it just rolls out of my mouth all the time.
Hemachandra: Your new feature film is called The Shift. Do you hope to reach a new audience with the film, and do you think the film will then serve as an entryway to other parts of your work?
Dyer: The answer to both questions is yes. It’s an enormous opportunity to get a message out to people who may be less likely to read and listen to CDs—to people who would otherwise not be exposed to the most important teachings on the planet. These teachings are about how can we get along and survive as a people—how we can love each other, be kind and decent, serve each other, and be compassionate. Unfortunately, there aren’t many messages like that in the popular culture.
A Course in Miracles says there are two emotions: love and fear. Everything that’s love can’t be fear, and everything that’s fear can’t be love. You’re either in one or the other. Almost every time you turn on the television set, you’re in fear. You get aligned with fear. When you’re aligned with fear, instead of with God-consciousness, you just keep attracting more fear-more stuff to be afraid of, more shortages, revenge, anger, wars, killing, and disease.
I think that the film is a great opportunity to reach a large audience of people who learn visually and who want to be entertained. In the film, three couples whose lives are in ambition, who are focused on accomplishment and achievements, transform their lives into meaning—into living lives of purpose and service. When I agreed to make the film, I insisted that it be produced in a high-quality way. I’ve seen films made around this subject matter in which the message was good, but the quality wasn’t.
I think it will be an entryway to my work, but I’m not really attached to that outcome. I don’t really care. I’m sixty-eight years old. What I do now will be read by unborn generations for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years. For me, it’s not about my work—that is, it’s not about Wayne Dyer’s work, how much money I make, how well I do, or how well my products do. It’s more like what the Native Americans say: When we walk upon the earth, we always place our feet very carefully upon the ground, because we know the faces of our future generations are looking up at us from below, and we never forget them.
I think as a culture today we’ve forgotten them. This work is a way to help us remember them. It’s a way for us not only to find meaning in our individual lives, but to extend that approach all across the planet. Because if we don’t, we won’t have a planet.
Hemachandra: What did the process of doing a film look like for you? What was it like taking direction as an actor? And if the film is successful, is acting something you would consider doing again to help spread the message?
Dyer: I would certainly be open to it, but I wouldn’t have said that during the first week or two of the shoot. It’s very grueling work.
When I was asked to make the film, I decided that it was like taking on a new career at the age of sixty-eight. I’ve never acted before. And taking direction is not something I’m very good at. I’ve always known who I am and what I was going to do, and I’ve always just done it.
But here I totally surrendered. I said to myself, “I know nothing about this.” I went with a completely open mind and also with a knowing that anything in my life that I’ve ever put my mind to, I’ve been able to accomplish. Attitude is everything, so I’ve always picked a good one. I went in believing that I could do this, and I was not going to be part of a film in which it looked like I was reading my lines.
The filmmakers created this brilliant concept of a film within a film, so I’m really just being myself. In the first two or three scenes, I was trying to remember my lines from the script. I kept going over them, and I didn’t like the way it was coming across. Then I surrendered. I said to myself, “You know all of this stuff. You’ve been teaching it forever.” So, in the process of just relaxing and letting go, I forgot about the script. Instead, I tried to get a picture of what we were doing in a scene, and I said whatever words came to me. They were similar to the script, but I never followed the script. I just allowed myself to go.
I did two new things in August that I’d never done before. One was this film—being an actor and taking direction. The other was becoming a minister and marrying Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, who is in The Shift. It was just wonderful to open myself up and learn new things.
I’m sixty-eight, but I wasn’t going to make excuses. I just finished writing a book called Excuses Begone! this past week. Excuses—the idea that you’re too old to do something, that you’re too scared or too busy, or that it’s going to be difficult—are not aligned with Source, with what I often call God-realization. When I put my attention on something, when I’m aligned with Source and doing something for the right reasons, then I’m given the guidance. So, throughout that entire film, it doesn’t really look as if I’m acting at all. Part of it was my surrendering, and as big a part of it was the very talented director, Michael Goorjian, who allowed me to do that and filmed all of the scenes with that perspective.
Hemachandra: Given that you’ll likely reach people who have never encountered your work before in books, online, or even in your public-television specials, did you conceive of a specific message you wanted to impart to this unique audience, beyond a broader introduction to metaphysical principles and teachings?
Dyer: Yes, I did. The message is don’t die with your music still in you.
You came here with something to do. You are part of a universal consciousness, and there are no accidents in it. In your true essence—not the false self, not the ego part of you, but in the true essence of who you are—you are infinite and you have something very profound to accomplish while you’re here. Otherwise you wouldn’t be here.
Find it. Pay attention to it. Listen to the callings. See the clues, the cues. See the alignments, whatever they might be, no matter how absurd or bizarre they might seem to everyone around you. Ignore their concerns. In the movie, the music inside for one character, for example, is art—a woman had always wanted to draw but was so obsessed with just fulfilling her duties, as a mother and so on, that she never had time for it.
Fulfilling your duties as a mother is one thing, but if you have a calling inside that says there’s also something else, don’t ignore that. Don’t die with your music still in you. Don’t die with your purpose unfulfilled. Don’t die feeling as if your life has been wrong. Don’t let that happen to you. That’s the bigger message.
Hemachandra: And I think that’s a nice transition to talking about Excuses Begone! and the idea of people overcoming the excuses they tell themselves that prevent them from fulfilling their dharma, their true purpose. It seems as if the two projects really dovetail, as does so much of your work these days.
Dyer: Oh my goodness, it sure does. I just finished the manuscript this past week, and it’s the most remarkable thing I’ve ever done. I wrote Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao about what to think about and how to align with the Tao. Excuses Begone! is really a channeled work on how to go about changing long-established thinking and behavior habits and beliefs—what are called memes—that stop you from realizing your divine magnificence.
No longer what your belief about yourself is—if you’ve always been poor, if you’ve always been overweight, if you’ve always had rotten relationships, if your luck hasn’t been good, if you don’t attract into your life the things you want, if you’ve always been shy or always been aggressive—whatever it is and however long you’ve held it, the belief that you can’t change it is not aligned with Source.
Source says you can be anything. You can do anything. You’re infinite. Ego, with all its different excuses, says, “I can’t do that.” So this work means really realigning yourself with Source.
Excuses Begone! is a very spiritual book. I didn’t think it was going to be when I started writing, but I couldn’t escape it. The book wrote itself. I wrote it without any outline, and it turned out to be 510 handwritten pages. From February 1 until the end of September 2008, I wrote every single day.
Hemachandra: If you’re raised with pessimistic, negative beliefs—those very excuses you’re talking about—that’s your world. That’s your understanding of reality. So, in a fundamental way, abandoning those unhealthy beliefs means abandoning your life. That requires a real leap of faith, doesn’t it?
Dyer: You’ve already abandoned everything you’ve ever known. All you have is now. That’s all there is. The whole idea that you’re tied to what you’ve been is nonsense.
I use the metaphor of a boat going down the river. When you’re standing at the back of the boat, looking at the water as you’re going along at forty knots, what you see there is the wake. The wake is the trail that’s left behind. You can ask the question, “What’s making the boat go forward?” It can’t be the wake. The wake can’t drive the boat. It’s just the trail left behind. It can’t make the boat go forward, any more than the trail that you’ve left behind in your life is responsible for where you’re going now in your life. The belief that whatever you’ve been is what you have to be is a meme—a mind virus.
There is no past. That’s another illusion. Everything that’s ever happened to you, to me, to anyone in this world, happened in the present moment. That’s all there ever is. So your relationship to life isn’t your relationship to your past, it’s your relationship to the present moment.
How good are you at being in the now? Most people tell themselves these excuses—I’ve always been this way, how can I possibly change, this is my nature, I can’t help it—that are just memes. They’re belief systems that keep you from being able to become all that you are intended to become. They’re impediments to your reaching God—realization, or Tao-centeredness. People lose track of their purpose, because they are so back there—living in their past.
Byron Katie speaks about this: Who would you be without your story? Carlos Castaneda used to say if you don’t have a story, you don’t have to live up to it. So get rid of your story.
Hemachandra: What’s the first step toward abandoning habituated ways of thinking?
Dyer: I don’t think in terms of steps very often. When you write articles it’s nice to have them like that, but life doesn’t happen linearly. But I think it’s just recognizing that who you are is not any of the stuff that you have. It’s not any of the things of the ego.
Coming to that awareness is a very hard thing for most people to do—but that’s an excuse. If you tell yourself it’s too hard, then you won’t take it on. But right now, for most people, it’s almost an impossibility to do so, because they’re so attached to “I am what I have”; “I am what I do”; “I am what my reputation is”; or “I am all of this material stuff.”
Getting past that just means having the recognition, as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said, that you’re not here as a human being having a spiritual experience. It’s the other way around: You’re here as a spiritual being having a temporary human experience. You come to know your essence—that you came from an energy, a vibrational frequency. Everything in the universe is frequencies. Even things that look solid are all frequencies, all movement. Einstein said nothing happens until something moves. This chair I’m sitting in is moving. It may be hard to imagine, but if you took a microscope and really got in there, you’d see the spaces and a lot of particles all in movement.
Most of us are totally, completely misaligned. God-consciousness is up there, while most of us live down here at ego-consciousness. But what’s up there can’t recognize what’s down here. If you were a frog, and you were trying to see what this room is like, what would you see? Just try and picture it. A frog’s eyes are out on the sides, and they see from different frequencies altogether. What we see would just come across as a blur to a frog. A frog can’t recognize what it isn’t. Neither can you. And neither can God.
So, if you’re not aligned with God, it’s hard to recognize yourself as being of God. The way that you get aligned with God is by being like God, being like Source, being like energy. That means understanding how the Tao works—how God works.
It’s about giving. It’s about serving. It’s about allowing. It’s about kindness. It’s about gentleness. It’s about sincerity. It’s about reverence for all of life. It’s about those virtues that Lao-tzu wrote about. When you’re living in those virtues, then you get into the law of attraction. It starts working for you because you’re not working for it. You’re doing it for its own sake. But most of us are almost always in ego-consciousness down here, not God-consciousness up there.
Hemachandra: What’s the most common meme? And are they any different for men than for women?
Dyer: I think the most common meme is that it’s too difficult to change. It’s too risky to change. My nature doesn’t allow me to change.
When you’re thinking that, you’re not understanding what your nature is. All of us come from this place of well-being, love, and kindness. But we’ve taken on these other things, and we think that they’re our nature. Our nature really is to be like God. That’s what we were like when we were babies.
A minister in Maui told me about a boy who was five years old, and his mom came home with a brand new baby. He was a rambunctious five year old, and his parents were afraid that he might do some damage to the baby. They kept a close eye on him so he didn’t get too rough—kick the baby or think it was a doll to play with or something.
They were watching the boy talk to his little baby brother, who was just a few days old. And he said, “Would you please tell me what God is like? I think I’m forgetting.” This little five year old knew that the baby was a piece of God who hadn’t yet had a chance to forget.
If there’s a distinction between men and women, I don’t pay attention to it. Honestly, I don’t see it. I think all of us are part feminine and part masculine. The Tao is considered feminine, like the mother and the mother’s breast. It’s the feeding without asking anything in return. It’s the offering, the giving. I’m sure sociologists can come up with distinctions about what’s different between men and women, but for every example you can give about what a woman does, you can come up with an opposite example of other women who don’t do that. Those are more artificial distinctions, I think.
Hemachandra: So, just to be really clear, what’s the biggest thing people need to learn in order to help them get beyond the excuses?
Dyer: They need to know that they are God. We mostly do not recognize that. We’ve lost the sense of our own divinity.
We think that we’re separate from God, but we can’t be. We must be like what we came from, and we came from an infinite, loving, kind, beautiful Source. We’ve forgotten that.
So, you have to recognize that God isn’t something outside of you—a cosmic bellboy to whom you pray in order to get this or that if you do the right things. Those kinds of understandings are all ego talk. Everybody—you, me, Osama bin Laden, Adolf Hitler—we all came from the same Source. Then we took on these egos and began to practice all kinds of things based in not having reverence for life, whereas that which is God has reverence for all life.
All excuses are nothing more than misalignments with God. Just imagine the great creative Source needing an excuse. It doesn’t have any concept of, “I’m too busy. I’m too old. I’m too afraid. Things are going to take too long.” Source doesn’t work like that. The Tao does nothing, Lao-tzu writes, but it leaves nothing undone.
Hemachandra: People make excuses, and it gets in the way of the achievement of their dharma. What’s your dharma?
Dyer: The purpose of life is to be happy. I don’t think it’s any more complicated than that. It’s also important not to interfere with anybody else’s right to do the same.
We just need to practice that. It’s the Golden Rule. But most people have a different golden rule—that they, as the gold, make the rule. That’s what they think the Golden Rule is, and so they revere money and power and all of that.
But just the ability to be content—to be in a state of bliss, to enjoy life—is all any of us want, really. You can’t accumulate anything, because anything you get you have to give away. We all know this. We watch our bodies go through the aging process. We know we came in here with nothing, and we know we’re going to leave with nothing. There’s nothing to own. There’s nothing to get.
The only thing you can do with your life is give it away. The best, happiest moments in your life are always when you’re giving something away.
Hemachandra: If the dharma for all human beings is doing good and being good, it still manifests itself differently for different people. Are the differences in our dharmas based on choices we make—on free will—or is our specific dharma something with which we’re born?
Dyer: We’re all individualized expressions of God, of oneness. We do have personality differences. Everyone who has had more than one child knows that they come in with personalities. The moment they come in—some come in screaming, some sleep through that first night and stay peaceful the rest of their lives—you see the differences. It gives me pause to think about past lives and those kinds of things.
Free will is something that people struggle with so much, but it’s very simple to me. Carl Jung said at the same moment you’re a protagonist in your own life making choices, you also are the spear carrier, or the extra, in a much larger drama. You’ve got to live with these two opposite ideas at the same time.
Basically we’re living with opposite ideas all the time. We’re sitting here in this room, and we see each other’s bodies. We know that we are physical manifestations—physical beings. We also know that each of us in this room is a nonphysical being. We have minds. We have thoughts that are happening right now. You can’t see them. You can’t touch them. There’s no substance to them. They have no boundaries. You can’t get a hold of them.
So there’s a part of you that you can get a hold of, and there’s a part of you that you can never get a hold of, and those are opposite things. Who are you? Which one are you? You are combinations of opposites.
The Bhagavad Gita speaks about combining the opposites—about fusing, or melting if you will, into the oneness. I think we have a free will, and at the same moment we don’t. We have to live with that. It doesn’t make sense intellectually, but that’s because our intellect is always trying to come up with a logical, rational explanation for things. To do that, it puts labels on things. But once you label something, you’ve got twoness. You’ve got the label, and you’ve got what you’re labeling. And there is only oneness in the universe, even though we artificially believe in twoness.
Hemachandra: Let’s talk about the memes a little bit more. How do political and cultural shifts happen when there are collective memes, or seem to be—
Dyer: —oh, yes, there are millions of them—
Hemachandra: —and is there a tipping point at which you have enough people changing their thinking that a societal meme actually shifts?
Dyer: Oh, yes, and there are lots of examples. It wasn’t very long ago that when you called to make an airline reservation, you had to decide whether you wanted to sit in a smoking or nonsmoking section. It seems like ancient times, doesn’t it? But it was only two decades ago. That’s a cultural meme that shifted in a positive direction. No one on an airplane ought to have to breathe in noxious fumes because other people decide that they have an addictive habit. But that wasn’t the case for many decades. There was a tipping point: Enough people began to think that smoking on planes was unacceptable that it finally became unacceptable.
In fact, when I was growing up, everybody smoked, including me. When I was 14, I started. We all did it. That was just the way it was. And now there’s a stigma attached to it. It’s a big shift.
When I was in high school in the 1950s, the percentage of women in medical school was 1 percent. Now it’s 50 percent—one out of every two. The same is true with law school. Those are major meme shifts that have taken place. When I was in high school—I’m really aware of this because I’m going to my fiftieth high—school reunion next Saturday—if you were black and lived in Detroit, and you wanted to drive down to Florida to go on vacation, you had to plan to drive all the way through, because you couldn’t stop in a hotel all the way through South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. We can’t even fathom such a thing now, can we?
Irving Wallace wrote a bestselling novel, The Man, in the 1960s about a black man becoming president of the United States. We thought that such a possibility was thousands of years in the future. Next month Barack Obama, a black man, may well be elected president of the United States. Some people may still have some difficulty with the idea, but that’s a major cultural meme shift.
In physics we call these things phase transitions. When enough electrons within an atom get aligned and a critical mass is reached—as soon as you hit that hundredth monkey, as soon as you hit the one—you have phase transition, and all the rest of the electrons automatically make the change.
So, my mission—what I teach and what I believe in-is that you just get yourself aligned with God—consciousness. If we teach enough people to do it—if enough of us ultimately get there-then we’ll start electing leaders with this kind of consciousness. We’ll start seeing these kinds of shifts taking place. I think it works both collectively and individually.
It works in reverse, too. When I was a kid at 16, sneaking into a burlesque theater in downtown Detroit was a big thrill. Today, in every hotel room in America, you can turn on the television and see hardcore pornography. So the shifts can go both ways, and it’s incumbent on us as leaders of the spiritual community to get as many people as possible to really begin to think in God-realized ways.
Hemachandra: Speaking of meme shifts, you mentioned that you recently married Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi. What did performing the ceremony mean to you, and what kind of minister did you become to marry them?
Dyer: I don’t even know what kind of minister I am. I went on the Internet. I think it cost twenty dollars, and I had to fill something out. And then my publisher helped set it up.
It’s just another hoop you have to jump through. What difference does it make who marries you, and why does it have to be a person with a religious affiliation? I’m now licensed in 47 states!
Hemachandra: Another career path for you?
Dyer: It could be! Seriously, I’ve had a lot of people already write and ask me if I’ll do it for them. I’m not interested in doing that, but the marriage was very momentous—talk about a meme shift! We’re talking about a legal marriage between women in the state of California.
I wrote a beautiful letter as my gift to them when I performed the ceremony. I said this is not just a ceremony to celebrate two people falling in love, loving each other, and being married, but it’s a galvanizing moment. It’s something for everybody who ever lived with those kinds of thoughts and feelings inside of them. Even as young girls, they probably couldn’t even have imagined that they would one day have the same rights as everybody else, which had been limited not on the basis of what choices they made but just on how they were created. That was a ceremony for all of the people who lived in shame, who lived lives of quiet desperation, who lived in the closet, and who now have role models of people who have done this.
They’re voting on the legality of this kind of marriage in many states, and I don’t know what in the world they think they’re voting on. Victor Hugo said you can stop an invasion of armies, but you can never stop an invasion of ideas. There’s nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. It wasn’t until 1920, four years after my mother was born—and she’s still alive and healthy—that women were given the right to vote. Now it’s hard even to imagine that for the greater part of the history of our country fifty percent of the population was not allowed to vote.
The same thing is true for same-sex marriages. It was always a stigma to be homosexual. In every school you knew who the gay guys or girls were. People ridiculed them, and they lived in the shadows. They don’t have to live in the shadows anymore.
Hemachandra: Some of the major meme shifts you talked about were top down. Political leaders seized the day and provided brave, bold leadership. But in this area, it seems to me, that hasn’t happened. We haven’t had a single major-party presidential nominee, for example, be willing to come out in favor of gay marriage.
Dyer: I know. But they do support it. They’re just not honest. And honesty—sincerity—is one of the four virtues that Lao-tzu writes about. Again, the four virtues are reverence for all of life, gentleness, supportiveness, and natural sincerity. That’s God—consciousness. They’re afraid they’re going to offend people they want to have vote for them-and I don’t respect any of them for that.
Why wouldn’t somebody have the same legal rights as everybody else in our society? What is that about? I don’t even understand them putting that on the ballot. So if fifty-one percent of the people say it shouldn’t happen, it’s not going to happen? You can get fifty-one percent of the people to say just about anything—to say let’s bring back slavery, or all Mexicans should be slaves, or something absolutely crazy like that. Does that mean we do it?
None of that makes any sense to me, but negative beliefs about homosexuality are a meme. And that cultural meme is shifting.
Woodrow Wilson was the president of the United States in 1920, and he was made a fool of—his wife almost divorced him—because he wouldn’t support women’s suffrage. He was president during World War I, but I look back upon him as a coward. Because he knew the right thing to do—the right of women to vote was an idea whose time had come a long time before then, when a lot of women were put into prison or persecuted because they fought for it.
Thoreau is one of our great heroes. He said civil disobedience is something for which every enlightened citizen is responsible. Forget the laws. If the laws don’t make sense, if they run contrary to your conscience, you have to disobey them.
Hemachandra: Metaphysical teachings are reaching more people than ever before. How do you think your work, along with the work of other modern spiritual teachers, is reshaping society, given its impact on so many people today?
Dyer: It’s pretty strong ego stuff, isn’t it, to think that it’s me doing it. Honestly, I don’t think that at all.
I don’t really pay attention to society. I don’t even think such a thing exists. We have sociologists, and they study all of these kinds of things—the collective habits of our people and so on. But I don’t believe very much in it. I just go where I’m sent and I do what I’m told. I listen to the highest voices within me. I don’t feel the least bit courageous. I don’t feel like I deserve any medals. I don’t feel that I’m any more special than anybody else who’s out there.
Like a lot of us, sometimes I’m preaching to the choir, and sometimes my voice doesn’t even get heard at all. Sometimes I think that what I’m writing now might not even have an impact for the next three or four generations. Sometimes I sit there and write, and I think, “It’ll be two hundred years before they get what I’m writing about.”
If I sat down in any room, I’d have as much to learn from anybody in that room as they’d have to learn from me. If I sit down and just really listen and hear who you are and what you have to say, what you fears are, what your ambitions are, and what your vision is, I have just as much to learn from you as you have to learn from me.
I feel very blessed that I have an intellect, that my mind is strong and my body is strong, and that I’m being used in this way. I’m grateful for it. But I also know that it’s really not me.
Hemachandra: You spoke earlier about the native proverb concerning what we owe our children and their children. What do you think we owe future generations, and how are we doing?
Dyer: Oh, we’re doing terribly. We’re leaving these unborn children trillions of dollars of debt, which is just horrific. We’re leaving nuclear weapons—enough to end life as we know it—all over the planet. We’re leaving a legacy of violence and killing and guns.
Why do we even make guns? I’m not against gun control. I’m against guns, period. I’m against anything at all that is used as an instrument of death. Why would we manufacture such a thing? Why would we have a business that does it? Why don’t we figure out a way to disarm ourselves totally? Thousands of children are killed by handguns in the United States each year. What is that about? What are we doing? We accept that? And we accept the presence of these weapons that are in silos and on submarines and airplanes? If any madman gets hold of them—and certainly there are madmen out there who will figure out how to get hold of them, they always have—what are we even making such things for?
We make weapons now that, if we ever used them, would kill ourselves. How do you explode a weapon with so much radiation in it that it will wipe out an entire city and think that it’s not going to blow over your own cities? We all breathe the same air. It’s madness.
What we are doing is deeply unfair and a profound tragedy—what we’re doing in the way of global warming, what we’re doing to the oceans—and none of it makes any sense to me.
Hemachandra: What will help our memes around these things shift?
Dyer: Consciousness will. New understandings will. Beliefs that these are things that we can no longer tolerate will, and then having elected leaders come out of that consciousness.
It’s slow. It’s inch by inch. But nature always bats last. The planet isn’t going anywhere. I recommend everyone read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, which is so troubling. It’s a novel about what this planet would be like after such total destruction. But the planet will come back. It may take millions of years, billions of years, but a seed will come up in the middle. If we put concrete over every inch of this planet, some little seed will come through, and it will start over. As Alan Watts used to say, the planet will be peopled all over again. Everything will start all over again.
Einstein had that wonderful line that Marianne Williamson often cites: I don’t know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones. So, the planet isn’t so much in danger. We are.
But we can shift in consciousness. David Hawkins speaks about the amazing power of even one person living in Christ consciousness. All it takes is one being living at a radical level of consciousness to transform all of the negativity on the planet, and just one person living at a high level can overcome the low consciousness of thousands. So, it’s not going to take a lot of us—just a handful.
Hemachandra: What are you most excited about today? What gives you hope?
Dyer: What I’m most excited about is that there’s an openness to this shift, and I do think that there’s a shift happening. We can sit here and talk about all the negativity, which we’ve done a little bit, but for every act of evil in the world, there are a million acts of kindness. Basically, our nature is to love each other and care about each other, and most of us do that. Most of us have no quarrel with anybody who’s living on another side of the planet and who might have a different religious persuasion. It’s just these small minorities to the far right and the far left who get all of the news time and print space.
But we’re starting to look at a new way of being, and I know ultimately that it will triumph. I think it’s coming soon, too.
Hemachandra: Specifically in the light of what we’ve been talking about, would you select a verse from the Tao Te Ching that you think is especially appropriate, or that carries special meaning for you?
Dyer: Yes, Ray. The fortieth verse of the Tao is the shortest verse. Lao-tzu says, “Returning is the motion of the Tao. Yielding is the way of the Tao. The 10,000 things are born of being. Being is born of nonbeing.” We’re all returning.
Number seventy-six is a verse I love a lot, too. It starts, “A man is born gentle and weak; at his death he is hard and stiff. All things, including the grass and the trees, are soft and pliable in life; dry and brittle in death. Stiffness is thus a companion of death; flexibility a companion of life.”
I think that’s a beautiful verse. Stay flexible. Stay soft. More than thirty verses in the Tao refer to water in one way or another. Water is such a powerful teacher. We’re all water. We’re all comprised of it, born in it, conceived in it. We live in it.
Study water. Try to grab a hold of water, and it will always elude you. You just have to let yourself be in it. It’s soft, and it overcomes anything that’s hard. Put the hardest substance—say, titanium—out there, and let water flow over it. Eventually, patiently, peacefully, the water will just wear it away. Also, water will enter anywhere—through any opening at all.
So, let yourself be like that. God is in nature, everywhere and always. And we have so much to learn.
In the past decade, Ray Hemachandra has interviewed many of the world’s great spiritual teachers, including Louise Hay, Marianne Williamson, Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie, and Sakyong Mipham. Loree Hemachandra is the author (as Loree Boyd) of Spirit Moves: The Story of Six Generations of Native American Women and a documentary filmmaker whose work includes the award-winning The Eagle and the Raven: A Purification by Banishment, which she wrote and coproduced. Read more about Ray and Loree Hemachandra’s work or contact them at http://www.hemachandra.com.
Reprinted with permission