April 18, 2013

A Journey Into the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success

I recently picked up Deepak Chopra’s book, ‘The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfilment of Your Dreams.’ Each morning over a week, I read one spiritual law as part of my morning meditation. It was tempting to read this small book in one sitting, but I chose to allow each law to sit with me for the day.

I found such profound wisdom in Chopra’s writing. His ideas have been helpful in allowing me to feel more grounded, hopeful, happier and more motivated in my life. So I have decided for my blog posts I will explore each of his laws in more detail. I will look at the importance of meditation, spending time in nature, not judging your experiences, making conscious choices, gratitude, acceptance, generosity and so much more.

I would love to hear from you about what these ideas may mean to you, how you are interacting with them, and how they are adding value to your life. I believe that it is through sharing our life stories, experiences and knowledge that we create a deep pool of wisdom that can be used by others for guidance and inspiration.

1. The Law of Pure Potentiality

Don’t be turned off by the wording of Chopra’s first law. While I don’t fully understand Chopra’s views on pure potentiality yet, the ideas he explores around this notion are very powerful, the first being how we regard our self and our innate value as a person.

How Do You View Yourself and Your Worth?

Where does your sense of self and worth come from? Is it from your job, your family or your hobbies? Chopra begins his book by speaking about the important difference between seeing yourself through self-referral versus object-referral.

When Chopra speaks of self-referral he explains that ‘…our internal reference point is our own spirit, and not the objects of our experience.’ Object-referral, however, is referring to how we see and define our self through the things we do, the people we know, the circumstances we are in and the possessions we own.

The problem with forming our sense of self on object-referral is that our lives are forever changing. As Chopra says, ‘Power based on object-referral, however, is false power. Being ego-based power, it lasts only as long as the object of reference is there…as soon as the title, the job, the money go away, so does the power.’

We are therefore left with a very shaky platform if we choose to base our sense of self on things that are outside of our control. I know this as much as anyone.

When I became sick with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in 2008 I was unable to do just about everything, from working, walking up stairs to cooking and washing my clothes. I had to explore who I was as a person separate from the things I could do, as I could no longer manage the things I used to do.

Before I got sick I would say that my sense of self came from object-referral. This is probably true for most people. I defined myself by the marks I got at university, the social justice issues I advocated for in my spare time, the friends I had and generally how busy and active I was. I had always felt that I was ‘Jess’ because of the things I had done and achieved in my life.

Admittedly, I had never thought about where my sense of self was coming from when I was healthy and my life was plodding along in the direction I wanted it to go. However, when my life was pared back to the bare minimum it was confronting and I had difficult questions that needed answers.

I felt a massive gap in my life because the standards I had used to measure my value were no longer applicable. I realised that I had to look at where my sense of self-worth was coming from and by what standards I would now measure myself. I have come to see that I am not what I do. I have realised that my identity and value as a person lay in the indisputable fact that I could give and receive love. It was not my first class honours or how many hours I volunteered that made me who I was or what gave me value, it was my ability to love and be loved.

When we understand that our identity and value as a person is not dependent on the things we have and the things that happen around us, it makes weathering the ups and downs of life much easier. Unless you can come to love yourself for your qualities and your spiritual essence, then you become exceptionally vulnerable to your external circumstances. And these external circumstances are out of your control.

As Chopra advocates, we need to build our sense of self from within, so that if we lose our job, lose our physical ability, lose people we love, or lose our financial position we can remain strong and continue to be confident in who we are. We can remain confident in our value and our place in the world.

In my next post, I will look at how Chopra recommends we apply the Law of Pure Potentiality to our lives by embracing silence, meditation and a position of non-judgement regarding the things that happen in our life.

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