These are my favorite passages from Wayne W. Dyer’s I Can See Clearly Now.
He is one of my favorite author who is into the law of attraction and talks about his amazing life. What an inspirational figure. He is the father of modern positive psychology.
“What difference does it make what she thinks of you?” “It makes me feel bad if someone is mad at me.” “Isn’t her being mad her problem?” I want to know. “Not if it’s my fault she feels bad.” “What if she told you that you were a tree—would you be a tree and would you feel bad because she thought that?” “Of course not,” Sue responds. I spend the recess period getting Sue to realize that Mrs. Cooper is attempting to control and manipulate her by playing on her weakness. I want to help my fellow student realize that no one can make her feel bad without her giving them permission to do so. As we walk back into the classroom Sue has a bit of a smile on her face, but in my heart I know that she has a long way to go to learn how to be independent of the need for approval. I also know that I have something within myself that gives me a freedom that the other children don’t have. I know that how I feel is something I can choose in any circumstance, and that no one can take that away from me, unless I allow them to do so.
It was only one of many similar occurrences in which I was almost able to step back from what was taking place and watch myself behaving in ways that I had never seen demonstrated by any adults, let alone by 11-year-old contemporaries. At the time, it just seemed like the thing to do. It made perfect sense to me to not let external things bother me or impede me from my own sense of well-being.
One of the new kids is a boy named Guy, a transfer student from a local Catholic school, Our Lady Queen of Peace. Apparently the fact that he’s from a Catholic school, and has been in some kind of trouble at that school and was kicked out, is sufficient reason to boycott Guy from any possibility of joining in our seventh-grade camaraderie. I hear most of my friends speak ill of this boy. They have no knowledge of him whatsoever other than a few rumors being bandied about—origin unknown.
“up to me and whispering, as if they were giving me forbidden and tainted information about this new girl at our school, “Don’t talk to Rhoda; she’s a Jew.” This is a word I haven’t heard before, so I ask, “What’s a Jew? What does it mean? What does she have that makes her so undesirable?” Not one of my classmates has an answer. “
“They only know they’ve been told something about Jews somewhere by somebody, and that means they can’t be friends with them. They’re all willing to shun this new girl because of a label that’s somehow made her an outcast.”
Rhoda’s family couldn’t have been any nicer, and right then and there, I decide that Rhoda is going to be my friend and welcomed into our seventh-grade class. With my acceptance of both Rhoda and Guy, their transition into a new school setting is made smooth and both of these kids are accepted as a part of our classroom. The use of the word Jew as a pejorative label is halted almost immediately. I am befuddled by the willingness of so many of my friends to judge someone on the basis of what their parents had told them about a word that they didn’t even understand. Rather than thinking for themselves, they use their minds to reflect what others tell them to think.
“I Can See Clearly Now These two experiences with Guy and Rhoda stand out conspicuously as I look back at my early life and now realize that I was being prepared for an adult life of teaching compassion and tolerance, even though I was unaware of any such destiny at the time. I didn’t feel special or more enlightened than anyone else—in fact, I was just one of the 30 or so students in the class—it just seemed like the thing to do at the time.”
I cannot shake this image—ever. I speak about it to very few people, but somehow I am able to merge the present with the future, and these inner pictures become my own private world. Probably this seems crazy to most others, but it’s very real to me. I see myself using this little television screen as a means for reaching and teaching people, not just in my city or my country, but also in the entire world.
For the first time in the history of The Tonight Show it had been preempted because at the Republican National Convention in Kansas City, the vice-presidential nominee, Bob Dole, went beyond his allotted time and NBC didn’t cut away—so my one and only national television appearance had been wiped away. I went from blissed to pissed in an instant!
I’m bicycling round and round the block, trying to avoid walking into the chaos in my house. Life at home in my 15th year is filled with confusion, and growing worse by the day.
But there is something inside me that reacts strongly, almost violently, to the idea of doing frivolous busywork tasks, and doing them because everyone else simply goes along and never questions the authority figures.
I love this man’s writing! I become totally engrossed in Thoreau’s stream-of-consciousness style as he describes how it felt to live in the wilderness and learn about life by listening and being content in nature. My refusal to participate in what seems to me to be foolish conformity for sake of conformity is strengthened by reading Walden while awaiting disciplinary action. Admittedly, I’m slightly skeptical about the stance I’m taking, because following through with it means attending summer school and retaking biology.
I decide that this man, writing one hundred or so years ago, is my hero. I learn that he went to jail rather than pay taxes to a government that allowed slavery and participated in the horrors of the Mexican-American War.
He is a rebel, urging against foolish laws and immoral behavior toward others.
I understood as a very young boy that to blindly follow rules just because they’re rules is to lose control over your whole life.
I work as a writer now and thus feel confident that I have writing ability —I’ve tested that out in the real world of profit and loss!
I write on any subject and often think of my writing as automatic writing. My hand moves across the page, but it isn’t actually me doing the writing. It’s a kind of connection with an invisible part of me that occurs when I sit down with purple pen in hand and allow the words to form on the paper beneath my moving fingers. I feel most at home when I have a writing assignment. I love essay tests, knowing that my writing abilities will help me to overcome lapses I may have on the material I am writing about. My writing is like having a friend with me at all times. I love my space where I escape each day to bring my characters to life, though the story is becoming less important—it’s just the opportunity to sit in a sacred space with a blank piece of paper staring back at me that I so enjoy. When I take the time to write on my novel, I think to myself, Writing is not something that I do. It is what I am.
remembering, I am writing. What brings me the greatest sense of accomplishment is feeling aligned with what I am on the planet for in the first place. That’s what writing is to me.
My mother has so much obvious hatred toward him that my questions are usually met with, “He was no good, and you are better off not knowing him.” I stop pursuing my curiosity about him with her, but my soul longs to know more: to talk to him, to hear his viewpoints and explanations, to maybe even find out that he really did love me even though he chose to stay away. I often think that maybe he made a noble choice to stay away, knowing in his heart that his presence in my life would not be in my own best interest, and that his departure was a selfless rather than a selfish choice.
I wonder what I’m doing here at this memorial service, and I urge my brothers to leave. Yet before we can get away, a cousin named Dorothy says that my father had several wives after he left my mother, including a young girl he picked up hitchhiking in a place called Bloomingrose, West Virginia; and before that a woman named Juanita, a nurse who now lives in Sandusky, Ohio. I take note, say good-bye to these unknown relatives, and realize for the umpteenth time that this man has no interest in getting to know me or my brothers. Even his own mother’s funeral is not enough of a lure to have him make an appearance in my life.
Juanita Dyer spends the entire day with me, and the most disappointing part of it is her direct response to my question, “Did he ever say anything to you about his three boys that he had deserted, and did he ever mention his youngest son, Wayne?” She looks at me with the caring eyes of a woman who works as a nurse in a hospital, seeing tragedies day in and day out. “No,” she responds. “I didn’t even know that he had any children, even though we were married for several years.” Such heartbreak … I have a father who doesn’t even mention his own children to his wife? What kind of a man is this? Doesn’t he love anybody? How could I be so dramatically different in every way from the man who is my biological father? My heart is full of love for so many people in my life: my mother, brothers, friends, and especially the downtrodden—and even my father. I leave Sandusky determined to squelch my interest in finding or understanding Melvin Lyle Dyer.
I Can See Clearly Now As much as I wanted my father to show up and love me when I was a young boy, I now value his absence as one of the greatest gifts I’ve been granted. His waywardness and abandonment of me was truly part of my coming here to teach self-reliance, which is the one great theme of my life. I have been doing precisely this since I was a child, and it has dominated my entire life’s work.
There is a precision to this universe, whether looking through a telescope or a microscope, that defies intellectual comprehension.
From this vantage point I see that my books, lectures, films, and recordings came about because my father was absent from my life. My ego wanted him, but my spirit knew that I had a far greater purpose to fulfill. Those years that I spent in agony over why and how a man could be so insensitive, so cruel, so distant, always ended up leaving me no other option other than to go within and resolve the issues for myself, or to turn to a new kind of Divine love practiced only by great spiritual masters and God himself—a love awash in forgiveness. Everything I needed to remain on course in my life was being provided—though the child I was couldn’t know it at the time.
Today, from the perspective of looking back over my life, I can see that everything was absolutely perfect. Without my knowing it I was in some kind of training right from the get-go. Perhaps my father agreed to come into this world from the world of Spirit and live his own life in such a way that it would require his youngest son to learn how to live a life of self-reliance as a toddler, a teenager, and then a young adult.
Yes, he was my greatest teacher. I know with certainty God works in mysterious ways—but not in accidental ways. Indeed, it is, and always has been, perfect in every way. I am so grateful.
Doing what you’re told without thinking or asking questions is necessary when destroying an enemy is the overall objective. I decide that I’ll comply with the rules on the outside, but I will never accede on the inside. I will do these four years honorably, but within myself I will have no enemies. I will remain constant, convinced that I am a man of peace, treasuring and respecting everyone’s individuality.
What the hell am I doing here? I ask myself over and over. This isn’t what I’m here in the world to do. I see the reason for the existence of a military, but this is not my role. I am a fish out of water. I want to be a person who works toward creating a world where guns and battleships and hatreds and enemies are extinct.
I’m perplexed because I made this choice so willingly. It seemed like precisely the right thing to do when I graduated from high school. I had no idea that this military lifestyle was designed to stifle all forms of independent thinking. I think back to all of the times I was in conflict with authority figures who were persistently pushing me into a groupthink mentality. I think of a quote by E. E. Cummings that I memorized in high school English class: “To be nobody-but-yourself—in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else—means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” And here I am, trapped in an organization I freely joined that’s organized around the principle of making everyone just like everyone else.
While making the decision to join the armed forces at the age of 18, I can remember feeling that I was in some mysterious way being guided by an invisible hand. I knew beforehand that this type of regimented lifestyle was going to be anathema to me, largely because I had always championed the right to freely make my own choices without anyone telling me how to live and what to do. Yet there I was, talking to a Navy recruiter in downtown Detroit and signing an agreement to enlist in a few short weeks. It was as if I absolutely had to go through with this crazy impulse even though I also knew that it was going to be a monumental conflict for me.
Yet the only way you can know the sensation of eating an avocado is to experience it. As you eat it you become one with it, and you know, beyond any possibility of conveying the experience of it to anyone else.
I’m startled when I hear, “Sorry, boys, we can’t serve you in this restaurant.” I ask the waitress why that is—the restaurant is open until midnight, and there are lots of returning servicemen eating. She looks sheepishly at me and simply shrugs her shoulders and points at my best friend, a U.S. Navy serviceman serving his country as a member of the armed forces … and then it hits me squarely in the face, as if someone just punched me with a vicious blow. Ray is an African American, and in this little town in Maryland they don’t serve people who do not have white skin.
I ask to speak to a manager, but no one of higher authority appears. The waitress doesn’t want to have an unpleasant scene, but I am outraged and embarrassed for my friend. Ray has lived with this kind of prejudice all of his life and motions to me to leave quietly to avoid any possibility of a serious conflict.
I have never experienced the horror of racial prejudice like this. I am perplexed, deeply saddened, and so hurt for my friend. But more than this, I am outraged at the insanity of refusing to serve another human being who is wearing the uniform of the armed forces of his country, and willing to go to war and die so that the opportunity to live and breathe freely is preserved for everyone—even the owners of restaurants, and the waitresses who work there.
I apologize to Ray as we head back to our barracks at the Bainbridge Naval Base. I vow to myself to never, ever prejudge anyone on the basis of their appearance. I am shaken to my core. I am changed forever. I will dedicate my life to ridding the world of such moronic thinking. Every day for the remainder of my time at Bainbridge, I am obsessed with what I, as one man, can do to eradicate this kind of simpleminded behavior. It is my life’s mission. I am committed to being a man who judges no one.
That Sunday night in Havre de Grace still stands out as one of the most influential evenings of my life, even though it was more than 50 years ago. That moment of looking into my friend Ray’s eyes and seeing the pain that prejudice can cause inspired me to make a commitment to abolish prejudgment from my own way of being, and to incorporate this love for all of humanity as a cornerstone of my life’s work. From that night on, I became fully aware of my own propensity for labeling people on the basis of any external factors, and I began to traverse a path wherein I was able to see the unfolding of Spirit in every person I encountered. In many respects, that experience as a 19-year-old sailor was Divinely orchestrated. I had to be there as a witness and an unwilling participant in order to have the horror of this kind of behavior brought home to me.
That hapless waitress was only reacting due to inbred conditioning that had been imposed upon her by cultural circumstances when she was a child. She saw mistreatment of people with dark skin and accepted it as the thing to do. She was also an employee who was just “doing what I’m told to do—it’s my job.” This mentality has been the driving force behind endless heinous acts over the centuries. In order to replace these habits with behavior that is compassionate rather than prejudiced, people must examine how their subconscious minds have been programmed and then begin to change these habitual ways of being.
The second theme involves the subconscious mind wherein adult habits are ingrained. I wrote of my time in radio school learning Morse code. I practiced and practiced until it went from a conscious-mind activity to a permanent place in my subconscious habitual mind. I haven’t used Morse code in over half a century—and every bit of the programming continues to be present in my being. I can still spell out any word or sentence instantaneously in my mind using the dots and dashes that were placed there several decades ago.
play. This intelligence is so stupendously mysterious that it is able to create worlds and galaxies so vast as to stupefy even the most open-minded imaginations. An intelligence that can keep the entire universe in perfect balance and create a rose from scratch, an intelligence that is in all things—“The spirit that gives life,” as Jesus said. This invisible intelligence can and does create miracles every second of every day.
Albert Einstein was right: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Or as Buddha said, “If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.”
It’s a constant struggle for me to maintain my own singularity and still function within an organization that does everything it can to suppress any thoughts of individuality. The name of the game is groupthink.
The rules are: do as you are told and ask no questions; forget your pride, your ego, your desire to have a mind of your own; obey all orders, and suppress any thoughts of disputing offensive orders. I know I have less than two years to serve and then I will be free of this mentality.
I meditate quietly and read a novel that’s currently on the bestseller list. I am immersed in the story of Atticus Finch fighting the system and battling prejudice. This is my third reading of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, though it was released only a few months ago. This is not a book you read once and then put away. Atticus Finch is an individual of towering integrity, a heroic Southern lawyer in Alabama who stands up for what is right. I am enthralled as he tells his daughter, Scout, that he could never hold his head up in front of his children again if he didn’t take this case. He explains that he must take it even though everyone thinks he is wrong. As I reread To Kill a Mockingbird below decks, I’m pleased with myself for not going along with the herd of sailors above. I feel encouraged about my choice to listen to that still voice within me that says, You don’t have to be just like everybody else … there is another way.
There’s the 20-year-old me, awed by a fictional character defying the pressure to act just like everyone else, and listening instead to that implacable voice within him beckoning to him to follow his heart to be the person he was destined to be.
I can see that those strong impulses to be quietly effective and avoid activities that seemed preposterous to me were early training exercises for teaching me self-sufficiency. At this point, I’m deeply grateful that Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird showed up when it did, and for the decision by the powers that be to conduct that “Hi Ike” ceremony! My consciousness needed those incidents to inspire me to start writing essays that eventually became books that encourage millions of people around the world to have the courage to listen to their own inner callings.
I ended by giving him this sage wisdom: “If you follow the herd, you’ll end up stepping in shit.” The shit I refer to is living with yourself when you ignore what you know to be right and true and instead follow the “offal” instructions of others who are afraid to leave the herd and want you to be just like everybody else.
I feel it is so important to trust in your own individuality and live from a perspective of being extraordinary rather than ordinary. I’ve written several hundred essays, without any idea what to do with them, or even why I write them. It is simply my passion, and that inner calling is working overtime in me as I finish out my enlistment here on this island in the South Pacific.
I receive $75.00, and my picture appears on the front page of the Guam Daily News in my Navy uniform holding my prize. And then all hell breaks loose. I receive dozens of angry phone calls, including one death threat. It seems that the civilians who are mostly relatives and dependents of armed forces active-duty personnel are very upset at the idea that Guamanian civilians would be given the same entitlements that they enjoy. Racial prejudice is evidenced by the epithets directed at me
Highlight (Yellow) | Page 68
for supporting these “savages” and “non-Americans.” I am in shock. My letter simply stood up for the equal rights the Constitution guarantees, as well as for simple fair-mindedness. Why should anyone have special benefits that are denied to others simply because of their place of birth? If any civilians are to be granted these advantages, then all civilians should be. It seems so clear and simple to me.
I am polite, but firmly resolute. I totally believe that the Navy is way out of line and practicing discrimination, something that the Commander in Chief has vowed to eliminate in our country, and I assume this means the armed forces as well. I tell this officer that I am not afraid of their threats—and although I do not want to jeopardize my upcoming discharge date, and I definitely do not wish to be court-martialed for winning a letter- writing contest on why this kind of bias is improper and even illegal, I will not back down.
Although I was just in my early 20s, I was being directed to be a person who could make a difference, who could stand up to authority for what I believe in, and do it fearlessly. I recall my outrage at the way a minority group of people was being treated unfairly, and I was to learn as a result of my own intervention in the matter that yes indeed, one person with a conscience who was unwilling to be intimidated could bring about change; and yes, when I was back in Detroit as a college freshman, I received a letter from a friend telling me that the discriminatory policy toward the Guamanian civilians had been revoked and they’d been granted the same privileges as all of the other civilian employees. This was a monumental experience for my own development. It stands out even today, 50 years later, as one of the paramount lessons I was to learn. After all, it did shape my entire writing and speaking career.
Somehow the universe conspired to place me on Guam for the final 18 months of my naval career. It was on that island that I felt an overwhelming knowing that I could not only be a writer, but I could earn a living doing so. When I mailed in my entry to the Guam Daily News, I had not a shred of doubt the prize money was mine. I felt an invisible Source of energy with me as I composed my response to the Navy’s misinformed policy of maltreatment toward a minority group. When I was notified of my prize, I said to myself, “I can do anything with the power of the pen. I can not only change policies, I can impact people’s lives with my writing.”
I was given the opportunity to experience the power of fearlessness and unwillingness to compromise values, and be instrumental in overturning an immoral policy. I often give thanks to all of the individuals who aligned to bring this all about and launch me into the work that I have been doing for so many years.
Don’t ever give up, trust in yourself, know that you can change the world, be fearless, reach out and serve those who are in need. And don’t ever let anyone restrict you from what you feel deep within you, especially when they attempt to intimidate you.
He insists I stay one more night to see if my sudden miraculous healing holds up the next day after an examination. I stay the night, and all that night I visualize myself as healed.
This was my introduction to the power that the mind can play in healing all manner of medical diagnoses. Dr. Max Maltz’s book became a bible for me during that crisis. I think back to how I literally healed myself by intense visualization, and I can see that all of the people involved in my life during that experience on Guam were indeed some of my most significant teachers. After that crisis I resolved to use my mind to visualize myself as healthy and disease-free, and to stay away from the medical mindset except in the most dire of circumstances.
I’ve enjoyed accompanying him and observing his teaching style. He is the most popular teacher in his school because he makes the subject matter come alive. I love watching him teach and seeing the affection his students demonstrate toward him. I am in awe. He is fun, smart, and deeply committed to his work, as well as all of his young students.
The small library on the base provides me with a source of books to borrow and read during my free time. I read avidly, jotting down words that I cannot define. At night before going to sleep I look up the definitions of the words and write it all out in my vocabulary-improvement file. I am tenacious in this activity, and the file is getting thick. I frequently spend evenings perusing this growing list of word definitions, and notice that the new words begin appearing in my essays and the letters I write home. I am sounding more and more like a person who is educated beyond high school.
I say nothing to any of my friends about my intentions. They see me as a bookworm and a private sort of intellectual. I’m merely acting on my inner vision to prepare myself for university study. I see myself as a teacher, a college professor, and I am acting on that inner picture every day.
I read books on every subject imaginable, preparing for the entrance exam to the university that coincidentally bears my name—Wayne State University—at home in Detroit. I particularly enjoy reading about people who have gone way beyond just being ordinary. Great writers, poets, philosophers, scientists, inventors, musicians, athletes—nothing is off-limits. The idea of living at extraordinary levels and transcending “normal” is most appealing to me.
To my surprise, my friends want more. The following week 12 people show up, including an officer who isn’t supposed to fraternize with the enlisted ranks. I’m the resident philosopher at the naval base—simply, it seems, because of my willingness to live fearlessly and lose myself in works that are available to everyone at the library on the base. I love these evening sessions where we can talk about ideas that inspire me to my own greatness.
was this intention of myself as a teacher, inspired by Bill, that allowed me to go forward and declare myself as a teacher when I arrived on Guam. For me, it was a reality, nudging me to apply for university enrollment and demanding I actually teach classes on base. Intention provided the impetus to organize my entire life around an idea I implanted in my consciousness when I was a 20-year-old sailor with only a high school diploma.
Attending and excelling in those university classes taught me more than the subjects I studied. Walking about the campus, I became aware that my past did not have to dictate my future. The enthusiasm I was feeling and the success I was having in the university setting were certainly unanticipated based on my past. Using the boat as a symbol of my life, the wake of that boat was not the driving force of my life. I no longer needed a personal history; my past was just that—past longer a factor for me. I was doing well regardless of what my high school record indicated—regardless of the facts of my background and upbringing. I needed to know this firsthand from experience, and somehow I was led to this realization.
manual. APA style is basically the uniform code of military justice for college students that says: Write according to a code devised by the American Psychological Association. Don’t be creative; don’t think outside of the box; write a paper that looks just like every other paper ever submitted to a college professor.
Writing by these dictates results in books or papers that remain unread. Citing sources and footnoting everything creates dreary, researched, data-based writing that doesn’t come alive for the reader. Books written in this style are read mostly by other academics, and contribute primarily to enlarging the vast supply of unread manuscripts gathering dust on library shelves.
collection of academics. I felt the pain of having to stifle my own creativity in order to please and fit in to a preordained style of writing. Yes, I succumbed and went along, but in doing so, I was motivated to do this writing thing the way my heart described it to me. I went through the motions, but my imagination was stoked every day by my desire to write in the exact opposite way than I was being forced to write for a college requirement by a rigid graduate student. It seemed that this man had opted to drink all of the institutional Kool- Aid, and that busywork had captured his soul.
From a distance I can see clearly that my episode with the Wisconsin professor and poet was a product of my living almost exclusively from my ego at that time. I wanted so desperately to prove that I was right, even though all of my efforts were obviously self-sabotaging. Rather than coming from a place of understanding and love, I chose to put all of my efforts into making my college teacher wrong. This is the action of an ego- dominated fool! It is akin to talking rudely to a uniformed police officer when stopped for a traffic violation, regardless of whether you feel you are in the right or not. I was so outraged that this man would find my interpretation of a poem to be wrong that I reacted by striking out at him and even attempting to embarrass him by giving him proof of my superiority.
I can see clearly now that I needed to have a series of these kinds of misfortunes throughout my life. I finally got the message that has been a central theme in my life’s work: When you have a choice to be right or to be kind, always pick kind. Living from your highest spiritual sense is the essence of what it means to be a self-actualized person.
Yes, I earned that D—and even though it is now half a century later, the presence of that scarlet letter on my college transcript is an enduring reminder to always make the choice to come from kindness and love.
Live so as to be detached from outcome. Do it all because it resonates with your highest self and responds to your beseeching inner voice—not because of rewards that might come your way.
That D grade on a transcript is totally irrelevant to a highly functioning person. I’d advise that 22-year-old version of myself to be content with knowing that he’d written a great paper and take pleasure in the feeling that comes with the joy of writing and expressing yourself. This is a lesson that I have had to learn the hard way.
“We interrupt this program to announce that the President of the United States has been shot in Dallas a few moments ago. It is expected that it is fatal.” I pull over on the entrance ramp and sit in stunned silence. Tears are rolling down my cheeks. I feel as though a bullet has torn through me and left me too shattered to drive. I can’t catch my breath. I am taking the news blaring over the radio very, very personally. I loved this President dearly. He spoke so eloquently of the many injustices that he wanted to see corrected. He stood for eliminating the horror shows of segregation that so impacted me while I served my four years of active duty. He exuded hope for a better world, and he was willing to take on the forces that wanted to keep the same old prejudices and hatred in place. I marveled at the courage he showed in his campaign when he promised executive, moral, and legislative leadership to combat racial discrimination and school segregation.
Later I’m working at Kroger’s grocery store on the evening shift from four till nine. Everyone checking out at my cash register is in shock—very few are able to speak. I look into a woman’s eyes as I hand her her change and when our eyes meet, we both break down in tears. The silence permeates everything. No one can speak without tearing up. I am impacted by this tragedy in a way totally foreign to me. It feels as if my life is going to make a big shift as a result of the events of this day.
“Wayne Dyer moments” of awakening to a new direction and a new consciousness in my personal life. The assassination of President Kennedy didn’t just kill a man I admired tremendously; it killed something in me as well. I began then and there to think about a plan for a life that would have a historical and global effect.
It was no longer just about my impending career as a teacher. I began to think in terms of how I could impact the consciousness of the entire planet.
flabbergasted by what appears to me to be apathy on the part of the teaching faculty. It is rare to find professors genuinely excited about their subject matter or interested in inspiring the students.
I think back to my uncle Bill Vollick, who was my inspiration for wanting to become a teacher. His classroom was a joy because of the laughter and excitement he inspired. Bill loved his students, and he loved his subject matter. He was living out his own dharma and everyone was having a good time. The key word here is love. I think, That’s what seems to be missing in these classes. Everyone is going through the motions; there’s no love here.
I vow to myself that this will never be me. I love making people laugh, and the memorable teachers I’ve had all had this wondrous ability to infuse their teaching with humor. I promise myself that when I speak in front of a group—any group—the audience is going to love being there. I will not just go through the motions and do my job in order to receive a paycheck every two weeks. I will keep the love alive—the love for what I teach, the love for my students, but most significantly, the love I have for myself. I’m determined to honor who I am and never become a teacher doing my job in a listless charade of indifference. That’s a blasphemous image that I would abhor were I to subject myself to such ignominy.
I love this semester more than any up until this point. I love this class, I love the students, and I even grow to love economics! I’m thrilled when the class presents me with a leather briefcase and a beautiful card expressing their enthusiasm for the course and for me—the teacher! I am profoundly touched. I am enthused. I am a teacher, and I am on my way to being an orator as well.
When I talked to my classmates about these feelings, they looked at me with bewildered expressions. To them, this was the system; boring lectures are part of what college is. Little did I know that my internal outrage was a voice from the universe saying to me, “Observe this carefully, feel the pain, and make a commitment based on what you are feeling to learn from this and become a brilliant, entertaining, compelling speaker.”
Similarly, in undergraduate school I knew that my ability to reach any level of prominence was unrestricted. I would live my passion, loving what I did, and there was nothing to hold me back except my own beliefs in my limitations.
The professor of this course, a highly energized and very competent scholar, did a group hypnosis on us yesterday. I was in a state of bliss—my mind was in an enhanced state, and I felt peaceful. I was totally aware of everything taking place and did not sense that I had given up control, yet I found myself following his suggestions willingly, doing everything that was suggested to me without questioning anything. I felt as if I didn’t have to do what I was being told to do, but I did it anyway.
He places the blindfold over her eyes again and takes out the ice-cold metal pick. Very softly he says, “This is the cold one; tell me how it feels.” She says it is cold and is a bit startled. Then he takes the red-hot pin and places it near her face so that she can feel the heat, and says, “I am going to touch your inner arm only slightly, and I want you tell me your immediate reaction.” After the pin is placed close to her face, she is convinced that he’s about to touch her with the red-hot object. The professor sets it on a glass ashtray on his desk, and instead touches her inner arm with the eraser on the end of a pencil he’s taken from his shirt pocket. The woman is startled and a slight blister forms on her arm—even though she was only touched by a room-temperature pencil eraser.
My eyes are wide open, as is my mouth, as I observe firsthand the astonishing power of the mind over the body. By her belief and nothing more, this woman was able to produce a blister on her arm!
The professor explains that much of our perceptual activity is controlled by the beliefs we hold. He describes the placebo effect, wherein experiments are done with sugar pills that arthritis sufferers believe are arthritis medicine —and the sugar pills alleviate the arthritis!
and idealistic young doctoral student. Yes, I see clearly from this vantage point that the body is the servant of the mind. I had heard it, read it, and paid very little attention to this phenomenal idea until I experienced it right in front of me. Even events in our lives that appear to be mundane can, if we are willing to pay attention and be astonished, impact our lives and the lives of others. The blister-and-eraser event was to be a monumental experience, influencing all that I was to create in the years ahead. From that day forward I began to become much more aware of how I was using my thoughts.
But one especially catches my eye: “Self-Actualizing People,” by Abraham Maslow. I am inexplicably drawn to the article, which is 28 pages long, and will require a couple of hours to read thoroughly. I turn off the phone after deciding that I must read this before my 7 P.M. meeting with Dr. Peters. As I read, I have the strangest sensation that my life is about to make a radical shift. The essay describes people whom Dr. Maslow calls “self- actualized.” He defines these rare and unique people this way: What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization. … It refers to the desire for self-fulfillment, namely, to the tendency for him to become actualized in what he is potentially.
Maslow notes that the self-actualized person has a strong desire for privacy; vehemently resists enculturation, but always has a freshness of appreciation; and has a genuine desire to help the human race. Yet “when it comes
down to it, in certain basic ways he is like an alien in a strange land. Very few really understand him, however much they may like him.” I am enthralled—highlighting almost the entire article. I feel that I am reading about qualities I’ve always felt deep within myself, but have often been criticized for. I am so fascinated by what I’m reading I feel as though I am in the midst of an oceanic mystical experience. This is it. This is the direction I want my advanced studies to take.
When Nancy handed me that compendium of great spiritual masters’ teachings, I felt inexplicably drawn to it. When school let out around two o’clock, I sat at my desk debating whether to head down to the university library or go over my doctoral plan of work one more time in my office. That black book sitting on my desk seemed to have an energy all its own, urging me: Pick me up and read me; I have something very important to say to you. When I came across Dr. Maslow’s article on self-actualizing people,
I believe in it. I trust it, and now from this vantage point, I am much more able to tap into it while it is taking place. It no longer takes years for me to have this insight—everything and everyone are connected to each other and to the Tao or the universal one mind from which all things originate and return.
I was destined to spread this idea of each person having the ability to cultivate his or her own magnificence.
I am connected to you, dear reader—though we may have no physical linkage, there’s an energy flowing between the two of us. Neither of us knows how mind-altering it may be, or how far-reaching its extent. I know this for certain as I see more and more clearly.
The essence of RET is a basic understanding that unrealistic and irrational beliefs cause most emotional problems. The job of the therapist is to help the client strive to change irrational beliefs, challenge self-defeating thinking, and actively promote rational self-talk. The core unrealistic beliefs that most people carry from childhood into adulthood that cause emotional disturbances include: (1) I must perform well to be approved of by any significant others in my life; (2) I must be treated fairly, and if not, then it is a catastrophe and I simply could not bear it; and (3) Conditions must go my way, and if they don’t, then it is horrible and I will be distressed and unable to bear it.
I feel happier and am able to actually talk myself out of some lifelong thinking patterns that aren’t serving me.
carried Albert Ellis’s favorite quote from Marcus Aurelius in my wallet for many years and have used this idea in my speaking and writing for over 40 years: “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any time.”
This is quite a departure from what behavioral and psychoanalytical schools taught, which was that our disturbances can be traced to cultural and familial factors, that we are often powerless over these external influences and thus must learn to adapt and work through these early traumas.
I was so drawn to this kind of thinking—that we are responsible for how we process any external event—it’s what I intuitively knew way back in grade school when I urged my friends to not be fooled by adult efforts to manipulate them emotionally.
As I look back on the people and events that were instrumental in shaping my thinking, two people stand out. One is Abraham Maslow and his radical idea that there are people among us who do reach exalted states of awareness and live exciting lives impacting the world they live in and the people around them.
Self-actualizing people see the unfolding of God in everyone that they meet. They go beyond appearances. They are friendly with anyone and everyone regardless of class, education, political belief, race, or religious affiliation. As Maslow pointed out, “As a matter of fact, it often seems as if they are not even aware of these differences, which are for the average person so obvious and important.”
At the high school where I was employed, I took pride in being the one faculty member who had no judgments toward any of the students. The nerds, the troublemakers, and the undisciplined were as welcome in my office as the shining stars who always looked, smelled, and performed in an aura of rosy excellence—I stopped noticing any differences between them. The same thing held true in all of my interactions. I had always prided myself on being nonjudgmental and free of prejudice, but now I realized that I’d noticed appearances in a big way.
I was enamored of this man’s true charisma. I loved his lectures so much that I actually attended them when I wasn’t registered for the classes. I was learning from him just by being in his presence. His high energy was infectious. He made me want to be a better therapist, a better teacher, and most significantly, a better human being. This was a man who cared, especially for the underdog. He spent much of his time reaching out to the disadvantaged and those who had been labeled delinquents.
If I remain here I could eventually head up the counseling department, have a business on the side that pays more than my full-time job, and have the added pleasure of being an adjunct professor at Wayne State University on a part-time basis. I’ve been teaching graduate courses at Wayne State once a week, and I love the feeling of being Professor Dyer. Only a short time ago I was a freshman, wandering around the campus trying to figure out the confounding registration procedures at a university with over 45,000 students, and now I’m accorded the title of professor, with all of the prestige that accompanies such a lofty position (at least it feels lofty to me).
and here I have two offers sitting in my lap after just one interview with both of these major schools. I feel blessed, but I live with inner pandemonium every day. I’m a mess because of my indecision and doubt.
This is your calling—why are you at war with your highest self?” I realize that the only reason I am in a quandary is because I’ve allowed fear to occupy my inner world. In my heart I have always known and affirmed that I am a teacher. I love being a professor. I’ve known from the time I went for my first interview with Bob Doyle at the American Personnel and Guidance Association (APGA) National Convention in the spring that this was my destiny. I knew I would be offered the professorship even before my interview, and if any doubt existed, it was gone after our first meeting together.
This was a done deal—but in my mind I’d begun to disasterize about the potential consequences of leaving behind what was so familiar to me. I’d written an essay on something I called “The Fear of the Unknown,” and now here I am living out that fear instead of trusting in the loving feeling I experience when I picture myself as a college professor in the Big Apple.
Two months later we’re living in New York. I am in the biggest city in the country teaching master’s-degree students in the department of educational guidance and counseling during the summer session. I’m thrilled to have my own office, a full schedule of classes, and my own parking space! Leaving the only life I’ve ever known behind me has been one of the challenges of my life. I have wandered into the unknown, and I’m thrilled to have finally mustered up the courage to leave the familiar behind.
Davidson Hang is currently in Sales at Cheetah Digital which is a Marketing technology company located in NYC.
Davidson is an avid networker, personal growth- life and business coach.
He loves spreading the love and regularly helps people create and design the life they want for themselves.