NOTE: I’m re-posting this because it’s so important to me and the philosophy that drives this blog, my work, and my life. It was one of my first posts when I started this Virtual Sanctuary, and so here it is again for those of you who missed it the first time around. Peace!

“You are fully awake when you see and feel the presence of spirit in everything.”

“You can live with effortless ease by allowing universal intelligence to flow through you without interference in the form of fear, resistance, or attachment.”

“The key to lasting happiness is to identify with the unchanging essence of your inner self, your source. Then you no longer look for happiness because you know that you already have it.”

“When you identify with the eternal spirit, the unchanging essence of consciousness itself, you transcend all suffering, including the fear of death.”

These are some of my favorite statements; some of the wisest sentences I’ve ever read. And they all came from the same book: POWER, FREEDOM, AND GRACE by Dr. Deepak Chopra. No, it’s not a religious text. Nor is it some “New Age” bible mean to brainwash the masses. What Chopra has created here is a Great Work of Philosophy.

This book, more than anything I’ve read, has changed my life in subtle and lasting ways. I first read it about three or four years ago, and since then I keep coming back to it again and again. It is a seemingly boundless source of wisdom and principles that can lead you to your own personal enlightenment. I recommend it to EVERYONE. If you’ve ever asked yourself “What does it all mean? Why am I here? What’s the point of life?” then you need to read this book.

Chopra does not lay down a set of dogma, he doesn’t tell you what to believe. Rather, he brings together modern science, classic and contemporary spirituality, and the ancient Indian philosphy called Vedanta, and combines them all into a seemless whole that literally EXPLAINS THE UNIVERSE. The thoughts and concepts in this book are so deep and so crucial, I found myself wanting to read it front-to-back over and over again. It’s almost like the longer I stay away from this book, the more “modern society” tries to erase this wisdom from my consciousness. The simple act of surviving often distracts us from our spiritual side, our eternal essence, and drowns out the quiet wisdom at the center of our being. So coming back to POWER, FREEDOM, AND GRACE again and again has been like returning to a Well of Spirit to drink deeply of its cool waters whenever I get thirsty.

Chopra puts an emphasis on daily meditation. This is something I’m still working on. With my busy schedule as a teacher, and trying to fit in my creative writing on my days off, I find myself reluctant to sit down and MEDITATE. When I do this, the benefits to me, mentally, emotionally, and physically, are phenomenal. Yet something in me (conditioning?) doesn’t want me to sit down and meditate. I have to make it a regular part of my daily habit. When I do this, the quality of life improves tremendously. I mean it’s the gateway to happiness. Daily meditation.

One of my favorite film directors and artists, David Lynch, has been singing the praises of meditation for many years. He also has a great book called CATCHNG THE BIG FISH: MEDITATION, CONSCIOUSNESS, AND CREATIVITY, which explores the link between daily meditation and creativity. He points out, as does Chopra, that meditation brings you in contact with the Universal Consciousness where ALL ideas are born and exist beyond time and space. When you sit and observe your own breathing for 20 minutes twice a day, you are connecting yourself with this Universal Consciousness. The more you do it, the more in touch you get. Lynch compares meditation to fishing, going deeper and deeper into the Universal Consciousness, the Eternal Intelligence of the Universe, and finding those answers, solutions, and inspirations that drive the artistic process of any kind.

Chopra goes far beyond meditational practice in his book, explaining how Vedanta and modern science have come together via the discovery of the Unified Field of Existence. That is the name for the vast energy field that comprises the ENTIRE UNIVERSE. We are all of us merely “events” born of this Unified Field; but truthfully we ARE THE FIELD, which erupts into the phsyical world through our body/minds. Chopra (and Vedanta sages) call this field the Cosmic Consciousness or Universal Intelligence. Our bodies and our minds, he explains, are localized manifestations of this nonlocal consciousness…as are planets, galaxies, trees, rocks, water, air, rubber ducks, horseshoes, and everything else inhabiting the universe. We are attached to EVERYTHING at the level of spirit (i.e. consciousness). It is a comforting thought indeed.

In fact, our bodies and minds (which he calls the body/mind, since they cannot be separated) are localized phenomenon along the Unified Field. We are all simply drops in the ocean…but we are also the ocean in the drop. All consciousness comes from the same place: the vast resevoir of limitless spirit that is the Eternal Awareness. When we meditate, we remember this by consciously linking ourselves to this inexhaustible source of power. When we realize that we are all part of the same field of Universal Intelligence, we realize that there is no difference between us and our fellow man, no difference between us and the nature that we inhabit.

In fact, the brain creates the world outside your body. This is a bit hard to swallow at first, but the more you think on it, the more sense it makes. The world, the universe is really just a vast “cosmic soup” of energy (which we classify into molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles). That’s all it is. When our 5 senses recieve input from this “cosmic soup” it’s our BRAIN that process this input (photonic light; sonic waves, etc.) into THE WORLD. We don’t realize that we are all beings of energy (light) floating and existing within a vast field of intelligence (spirit energy) because our BRAIN takes the raw feed from our SENSES and transmogrifies it into the “real world.” The real world is, in fact, an illusion.

Reading this book reminded me of something I have long known, ever since my spiritually wandering college days when I sought answers to the Big Questions: It reminded me that We Are All One. The Unified Field connects us all. The world we inhabit is the world we make!

The legendary physicist Werner Heisenberg stated this another way. He said that when you observe a phenomenon, your observation CHANGES that phenomenon. In other words, if you watch something, the very fact that you’re watching it changes what you’re looking at. This has been proven in scientific labs all over the world. It’s called the Heisenberg Principle. This applies not only to subatomic and atomic levels of reality, but to ALL levels of reality. And from this we get physicist Max Planck’s statement: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

POWER, FREEDOM, AND GRACE is the most empowering single book I’ve ever encountered. For those who want to move their consciousness far beyond the “prison” of the physical world, this is the book for you. For those who have been searching for “happiness” all their lives and finding little, this is the book. In fact, for any thinking human being, this book will open your doors of perception far wider than any drug. At the same time, it supports and reaffirms existing spiritual beliefs. If mainstream religion had more of THIS, a lot more people would be finding their answers there.

To all the Thinkers and Dreamers reading this, let me recommend Chopra’s POWER, FREEDOM AND GRACE in the spirit of love, creative consciousness, and brotherhood. And for those of you who are creative types, you’ll want to check out David Lynch’s CATCHING THE BIG FISH as well.

By opening ourselves to the boundless Creative Consciousness of the universe, the field of intelligence that is the source of EVERYTHING, we energize our art, our writing, our creative endeavors, and most importantly, our very lives…