Deepak Chopra has long been a favourite of mine. For me he provides a perfect blend between modern day self-help advice and ancient spiritual enlightenment. In The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Chopra explains how success of spirituality goes hand in hand and that you cannot achieve one without the other.
Chopra starts by saying - success; we all want it, even though definitions of success differ from person to person. Regardless of what kind of success you want to achieve, there are certain things you should focus on. It not about getting perfect grades or nailing every job interview, Chopra. Success depends on factors much deeper and more spiritual than that, and they can all be summed up in this book.
The seven spiritual laws of success have to do with how you connect with your true self and how you interact with others. They are about the flow of energy in the world, about being in the 'here and now' without struggling against change. So lets explore how the seven spiritual laws of success will help you reach your goals.
The three most powerful points I took from the book were;
As long as you identify with your ego, you will continue to think of yourself as separate from the rest of the universe
Don’t fight the problem. Instead, face it and accept it for what it is
Attachment to material things implies distrust of the universe
Connection with the Universe.
Have you ever been alone in nature and experienced a moment of profound silence? If so, you may have felt a sense of peacefulness and connectedness with the universe. It is in these peaceful moments that you can find your true Self and unlock the potential to fulfil your life’s desires. When you feel connected to your environment and the people within it, you realise you are not a separate entity that is cut off from the rest of the world. You can sense that the world is a connected field of energy that unites everyone and everything on the planet.
But not just the planet. Indeed, this field of energy is a boundless source of power for the whole universe. Once you feel this connectedness and realise that you are not merely a solitary human being, but an integral part of the complex weave of nature, you may discover that your true self knows no limitations. By tapping into the energy within your true self, you can achieve anything you wish, be it wealth and success or spiritual development. But, in order to connect to your true self, you must first dissolve the ego. As long as you identify with your ego, you will continue to think of yourself as separate from the rest of the universe – a mere brain inside a physical body, confined and limited.
Let go of your ego.
And due to this restricted point of view, you will continue to be fearful, obsessed with survival and focused on external things such as social status and how other people see you. When your ego is in charge, you lose your connection with your true self and, with it, that endless field of potential energy. To do this, calmly focus your attention on your breathing and observe your thoughts without judgement. Gradually, you will become peaceful, and when your mind and body become still, your ego dissolves, allowing you to reconnect with your true self. Fortunately, you can always reconnect with your true self by practising silent meditation.
People spend a lot of time and energy worrying about the circumstances they find themselves in. For instance, a man might fret about being partner-less. But then, when he enters a relationship, new worries arise. Is this relationship limiting his freedom? Is he truly in love? Thankfully, there is a solution to the problem of chronic fretting. You can simply accept your current situation. For example, imagine living with a difficult roommate; she never cleans up after herself yet gets angry with you when the place is a mess. This is a tricky situation, one that might make you consider moving out. But moving takes time and money, so what’s the best way to resolve the issue? The answer: Don’t fight the problem. Instead, face it and accept it for what it is. There is always a lesson to be learned from difficult situations, and the people who make life difficult are usually there to teach you something.
In this case, the lesson might be about standing up for yourself or learning how to be less affected by the actions of others. Only by accepting the situation can you begin to learn from it and grow. You can take this acceptance a step further and save energy practising defencelessness. Practising defencelessness essentially means getting rid of the need and desire to convince others that your opinion is right or that theirs is wrong. For example, you’ve probably witnessed diet-related confrontations between vegetarians and omnivores. Before long the conversation can escalate into a full-blown argument about the ethicality of poultry farming. Not only is this a waste of energy; it will inevitably end with both parties more entrenched in their own positions than before.
Defencelessness, in contrast, erases the need to convince others of your viewpoint. It allows for a true exchange of ideas about a topic, without anger or dogmatism getting in the way. In the above example, defencelessness would mean both parties could openly share their thoughts on their dietary choices without feeling that the other is judging them, and hence without becoming defensive and hostile.
Let’s say you’ve always dreamed of owning a Ferrari. You imagine that, once you’ve saved up and bought your dream car, your life will be happy and fulfilled. Chances are, however, that such ardent attachment to the car will only lead to you feeling terribly distressed. Attachment to material things implies distrust of the universe – and this inevitably leads to anxiety.
Chopra gives and example; no matter how much money you save, all can be lost in an economic downturn. Just think of those who lost their homes and savings as a result of the 2008 financial crisis. After all, a life spent amassing wealth and material goods as a means to security will end in a disheartening realisation: material possessions can never truly provide safety or security. Real security can be achieved in only one way – by recognising your true self.
By realising your true nature, you’ll find that even fear of death disappears. The body and mind dissolve, and your true self will remain in the field of energy that gives birth to all new life in the universe. For example, says Chopra, single people are often obsessively attached to finding a mate, keeping an eye out for hours on end every day, whether online, at parties or in their circle of friends and colleagues. Ironically enough, it’s usually only when these people, exhausted and discouraged, let go of their ego and give up, that the universe gets a chance to step in. Then, as if by magic, the right people finally cross paths.
This is what happens when you detach yourself from your desires and connect to the field of energy that is the true nature of the universe, which alone has the power to make our desires become reality. While it might sound counter intuitive, you’ll also find that your desires can only become reality when you detach yourself from them.
Let your money circulate or flow.
If you have a large savings account then you may have received praiseworthy pats on the back from fellow materialists. But rather than saving up, a better path to success is to let your money flow into the world. Hoarding money interrupts the universe’s natural flow of give and take. For example, say you spend your life earning minimum wage, putting the majority of your monthly paycheck in the bank. Even though the balance on your account will increase, you won’t become rich. In fact, the Latin root of the word “currency” literally means “to circulate or flow.” This shows that even ancient Greek and Roman civilisations understood that money must flow for a society and its people to flourish. This is why investments are often more profitable than savings.
But if you invest your money in continuing education and take the right classes, you could eventually become the owner of your own business. By wisely investing in your education, far more will flow back to you, leaving you with more money than a lifetime of petty saving ever could. This spiritual law of giving and receiving doesn’t only apply to money, either. It applies to love, friendship, support and all the things we exchange socially. If you use this social currency to give others what you hope to receive, you’ll be amply rewarded.
The more love people give within a society, the more that love will be shared with others and will continue to grow. But, naturally, this only works if everyone is prepared to give as well as receive. Chopra gives another example; most people desire a partner who will love them and take care of them. But many forget that a relationship is also about giving love and caring for someone else. If everyone were focused solely on getting love, and not giving it, we would all end up lonely and unhappy.
Choices and consequences.
We all know the advertising slogan, “Just do it!” Live in the moment, it tells us – seize the opportunity!
But to truly get the most out of life (rather than just doing something), it is important to consider what the most beneficial choice is when making a decision. This is what it means to be conscious of your choice making. After all, we make choices all the time, sometimes without even knowing we’re doing it. In fact, most of our choices are unconscious. For example, when you’re shopping, you might buy bags full of junk food without considering the impact they have on your health or the environment. Unfortunately, such unconscious behaviour comes naturally to us, since our survival instinct tells us to stock up on large quantities of cheap food.
So, in order to make good choices, pause and consider the impact your actions have, both on you and on others. How might you avoid habitually purchasing junk food, asks Chopra. Well, first off, consider your budget, and then within its constraints choose products that are the most beneficial to your health goals and that, during the production process, have done the least harm to other people, animals and the environment. To continue making good choices in your everyday life, simply choose the actions that will bring the most joy and goodwill to others. In some cases, the choice might seem obvious.
In other cases, the choice might be more subtle. If someone insults you, you have two options: You can be hurt by the remark and retaliate, or you can refuse to let it affect you. By choosing the second option, you both avoid subjecting yourself to unpleasant emotions and treat the offender as you would want to be treated. For example, if you’re invited to a party but decide that it is too much of an inconvenience to attend, you should realise that you’re only considering your own needs. So, instead, recognise the pleasure that the host will enjoy by being surrounded by friends on the special day.
Thoughts become things.
Does the idea about accepting your current situation make you anxious? Perhaps because you’re unhappy and don’t want to accept how things are? Well, don’t worry. The good news is that your thoughts have the power to change the world around you. You can improve your quality of life by simply introducing positive intentions into your thinking. The positivity that goes into these thoughts is all part of the infinite field of potential energy that governs the universe. So, by introducing an intention or wish into this field of energy, you affect the universe around you.
Let’s say you'd like to have a beautiful home, but you often think about this in negative terms: your emotions are tied up in disliking your current home and thinking that you’ll never have sufficient funds to afford a new one. When you do this, you give negative energy to the universe; naturally, this won’t result in the universe giving back positive energy. To turn these desires into reality, however, you must give the process your full attention.
Chopra explains; if you’re dissatisfied with your job, you may have negative thoughts about being incompetent or feeling unworthy. It requires constant attention throughout the day to notice these negative patterns and replace them with positive ones. If you catch yourself thinking that you’re not contributing enough at work, stop yourself and consciously think about your accomplishments to find at least one constructive thing you’ve done. Even if it is as simple as having written a carefully worded and effective email, you can stay with this thought and remain positive. So, instead, accept and be grateful for the home you do have, and visualise the changes that could make your living situation even better. The universe will pick up on these positive thoughts and turn them into reality.
Find your true self.
Every human wants to shine. But, as each star has its right place in the night sky, every human must find their right place on earth. Only by doing this, and by helping others find their place, will people flourish and lead a purposeful existence. So, ask not what the universe can do for you, but what you can do for the universe. Let’s say you’ve always dreamed of becoming an artist. After all, it is a wonderful profession, and you admire the special kind of talent it takes to create art that inspires people and makes them happier and wiser. But the truth is, not everyone is artistically talented, and if this is the case for you, you might end up sad or depressed, feeling that you can’t contribute anything of value to society.
But don’t despair, says Chopra. Instead of clinging to these dreams, be honest with yourself and discover the truth within you that can serve and benefit others. While a creative person will probably become a good artist or designer, a compassionate person might be better off as a doctor or nurse. It’s never too late to recognise your life’s purpose and plug into the endless source of energy that the universe provides.
You might now be wondering whether your current job is providing you with the best way to contribute to the welfare of humanity and the planet. As it turns out, there is an easy way to tell. When you’ve found the right job, you will discover that you have a nearly endless source of energy to complete your work.
This is the feeling you get when you align with the cosmic plan that was your destiny from the beginning. The universe begins to support you and provide you with the energy you need, which explains how some people can work effortlessly and happily for long hours, while others feel drained after just a few hours in the office. What do you think? Have you found your true Self?
What I took from it.
Human beings are not separate, powerless egos that are lost and alone in a harsh physical world. Every one of us is part of the infinite field of potential energy that gives birth to and governs everything in the universe. When you recognise this, you can use this energy to fulfill your personal and professional dreams.
I really like the idea of giving something to everyone you meet. It doesn't necessarily have to be something tangible and can be a compliment or a compassionate greeting; a flower or wine when you meet up with friends. You should be moved by love for everyone you come in contact with. Thinking; how can I make this person feel good, should be your main focus. If you focus on the interest of other people; your ego will not influence your own happiness as you will want for others what you want for yourself.
Some highlights of the book for me are;
If everyone were focused solely on getting love, and not giving it, we would all end up lonely and unhappy.
To continue making good choices in your everyday life, simply choose the actions that will bring the most joy and goodwill to others
You can improve your quality of life by simply introducing positive intentions into your thinking.
I have read this book a few times now over the years and always find it very lifting. For me it was a little difficult to follow at first but being a short book I was able to read it several times which led to a full understanding and enlightenment. Chopra talk about universal, cross cultural truths which all faiths infer.
If you are ready to take on board what is being taught in this great book, you will never need another personal development book again.