Before I interviewed Wayne Dyer for my book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, I had the privilege of interviewing him for The Edge, a Minneapolis-based spiritual magazine. He was very insightful and inspiring. Big surprise!
Click on the audio player below to listen to my thirty-five minute interview with Wayne Dyer from February 2, 2002.
THE EDGE INTERVIEW WITH
DR. WAYNE DYER
Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, affectionately called the “Father of Motivation” by his fans, is one of the most widely known and respected authorities in the field of self-empowerment. He became a well-known author with his best-selling book, Your Erroneous Zones, and has gone on to write many other self-help classics, including Meditations for Manifesting, Staying on the Path, Your Sacred Self, Everyday Wisdom, and You’ll See It When You Believe It.
Despite his childhood spent in orphanages and foster homes, Dr. Dyer, who has a doctorate in counseling psychotherapy, has overcome many obstacles to make his dreams come true. Today he spends much of his time showing others how to do the same. For more information, go to drwaynedyer.com.
The headline on the ad promoting your seminar is, “There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem,” which is also the title of your new book. I’m reminded of H. L. Mencken’s quote, ‘For every difficult and complex problem, there is a solution that is easy, simple and wrong.’ How does one begin the process of finding the right solution, the spiritual solution to a problem?
Well, I think one does it by recognizing that problems are only things that exist because of the way we process our lives and everything that happens in our world. We need to learn to process things in a different way. I always think of everything in terms of energy and to me, problems represent living in a world of low energy. When you bring higher energy to the presence of lower energy, it dissolves it, it dissipates it, it can’t survive. That’s why I based the second half of the book upon the prayer of St. Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light; and
Where there is sadness, joy.
Oh divine Master, grant that I may not so much
Seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Each one of those first seven lines is the title of a chapter in the book. What he’s saying is that darkness is a lower energy than light and when you bring light to the presence of darkness you don’t have to warn it, you don’t have to announce to it, you don’t have to tell it that it has to get away. It can’t survive. Light dissolves darkness. And so does love dissolve hate and so does joy dissolve sadness and so does faith dissolve doubt and so on. And once we begin to put our problems into that context we see that the slowest and lowest energies are the energies of the world of the solid where everything that we call problems exist. And if we can bring spiritual energy, which is love, kindness, forgiveness and so on, to the problem, we can dissolve it. It’s really just a matter of changing our mind about how we’re going to process the events of our lives.
A Course in Miracles states, “You don’t have any problems, though you think you do.” The course teaches us that these things we call problems are just our ways of processing things in our lives. The opening line of Genesis in the Old Testament says, “In the beginning, God created heaven and earth,” and then thirty-one lines later it says, “And all that God created was good.” So if God created everything and everything God created was good, disease and disharmony and disorder and all the things we call problems are really something that can’t exist except in our mind when we separate ourselves from God.
So is it a matter of reframing problems and seeing them as opportunities for growth?
Right, but I wouldn’t even call them problems. I think of it in terms of what kind of energy am I bringing to it? Am I putting my attention on what I don’t want, on what always has been, on suffering, on disease? Because what we think about expands. And if what we think about is what we create our world out of, and our thoughts are on what we don’t like or what’s wrong or what’s missing, then we will attract more of what we don’t like or what’s wrong or what’s missing even if we despise it. It’s not so much a reframing thing, it’s putting our attention on what we intend to manifest at this moment in our life. When we do that, when we put our attention on that and act upon what our thoughts are, we attract more of it, rather than attracting more of what we don’t want. One of the reasons most people are not good at solving problems and manifesting or attracting into their life what they want is because their thoughts are always on what’s wrong and on what’s missing and on the problem. You know, Abraham Maslow taught me, years and years ago that when you’re working with a patient, never let them spend more than a few moments on the problem because what you think about is what expands and if they’re talking about the problem all the time, when they leave your session, the problem will expand. Get ‘em to put their attention on what they intend to create, or on solutions.
Doesn’t this involve drilling down to the essence of reinventing your world view? Because the way you look at the world and at God influences your thoughts and actions, and by shifting how you approach the world, that automatically shifts your thoughts and actions in a more positive way?
Yes, absolutely. I call it rewriting your agreement with reality. You’re making a new commitment to what your world is going to be and how connected you’re going to be to your Source, to God and to a higher energy or whatever you want to call it. And knowing that you can call upon that at any given moment in your life.
And if you make that shift, then your thoughts and actions in turn, will change.
Exactly. The Law of Attraction then ensures that you start attracting more of what you want into your life instead of what you don’t want or instead of what always has been. The highest functioning people never even put their energy on what is if they don’t like what is. That’s an important difference because most people who have a lot of “problems” in their life are constantly talking about them and focusing on them and so they just keep attracting more of those circumstances into their lives because that’s where their thoughts are.
And isn’t it also important to recognize that it doesn’t matter how long they’ve had their problems? It doesn’t matter how long the room has been dark, when you switch on the light, the darkness is gone.
Exactly. It doesn’t matter how long what ‘always has been’ has existed; once you put your attention, your thoughts, your energy, your consciousness on a new intention, that’s what you begin manifesting into your life. The word ‘intention,’ I believe, is really important because it doesn’t leave any room for doubt or maneuvering: ‘I intend to create this in my life out of the circumstances that I’m now experiencing. ‘
Isn’t it also important then, instead of worrying about having what you want, putting your attention on wanting what you have?
That’s a very good point because if your thoughts are always on what you want, then you’re always be in a state of wanting. That’s why I say you need to put your attention not on what you want so much as on what you intend: what you Intend to create, what you intend to manifest. And it’s also important to be in a state of gratitude. Rumi once said, ‘Sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment.’ And being in a state of bewilderment is really being in a state of gratitude.
What does bewilderment bring to you?
Well, it puts you in a sense of awe, it gives you a sense of appreciation. The lowest energy you can have is the energy of depreciation and the highest energy you can have is the energy of appreciation. If you do a kinesthetic test on a person who’s in a state of depreciation: ‘I don’t like the weather, I don’t like this house, I don’t like my children, I don’t like the economy, I don’t like this president,’ you’ll find that they will be physically weakened. Whereas, if you change that thought to one of appreciation in which, wherever you are, right in this moment, you can look around and find hundreds of things to appreciate, the opposite occurs. There are so many people in this world looking for occasions to be offended and they’re almost never disappointed. There’s always somebody that you’re not going to like, or something you disapprove of, or something you don’t agree with, and if you’re constantly in that state of depreciating, you will constantly be weakened.
Is that what is meant by the phrase, “creating your own reality?”
It’s actually rewriting your agreement with reality, just having a new agreement: ‘I am going to appreciate today rather than depreciate.’
So this also involves being fully present and calling your energy back from depreciating thoughts about past hurts?
Yes, if you bond yourself to the wounds of your past then those will become your calling cards. Those will be the things that you’ll put out there into the world and you’ll just continue to attract more of what caused those hurts in the first place.
How important is forgiveness?
Forgiveness is the essence of virtually every civilized religion in the world. It’s the message of every great spiritual master who’s ever walked on this planet including Jesus: ‘Forgive them for they know not what they do.’ I always liked Mark Twain’s observation about forgiveness: ‘Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.’ Again, it goes back to that prayer of St. Francis, it goes back to there being a spiritual solution to every problem: ‘Where there is hatred, let me sow love.’ When you bring love to the presence of hatred, no matter what, at any moment, hatred cannot survive. And hatred is one of the causes of most of the emotional problems that people face.
Forgiveness is a tall order for a lot of people. Isn’t ‘release’ perhaps a better way to put it?
Well, whatever term you want to use to describe ‘letting go’ and no longer hanging on, to detaching from all of the things you believe should have happened or shouldn’t have happened. For example, my father walked out on me when I was an infant. He never made a phone call, never looked back. He spent years in prison and died of cirrhosis of the liver. He was basically a very abusive man in almost every way and certainly irresponsible. I look upon his role in my life as one of the most important; it wasn’t until I was able to get rid of my anger and hatred toward him and forgive him that I was able to get off of a path of self-destruction.
How do you choose love over fear? Is it as simple as just making a choice?
You just fake it until you make it. There’s a book by Susan Jeffers called, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. Don’t think that people who have courage don’t have any fears, it’s just that people who have courage face their fears. That’s the difference. That’s what courage really is. You look fear right in the face and you walk right into it; you don’t run away from it and you don’t blame it on somebody else. True nobility isn’t about being better than anybody else, it’s just about being better than you used to be. It’s about challenging something you used to give in to and not telling yourself that, until I get rid of all my fears will I be a self-actualized person. You’ll never get rid of the fears, but you can come to a place where you’re willing to face them.
What else will you be addressing in your April seminar here?
Well, there are two things. I have a PBS special that’ll be airing in March; it was recorded out in Concord, Massachusetts at the parish where Ralph Waldo Emerson’s grandfather was the minister. We recorded it on the Old North Bridge, which is where the American Revolution began with the ‘shot heard ‘round the world.’ We recorded a show there called, There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem and another one called, “Ten Secrets for Success and Inner Peace,” both of which are also books that are now out. The April seminar will be basically an expanded version of those two shows.
The theme of this issue of The Edge is intuitive healing. How can a spiritual approach to healing help overcome health problems, which for many people is the biggest challenge in their lives?
Well, when you walk into the presence of people who calibrate at the very highest energy levels, just being in their energy field, everything that is diseased or in disharmony is healed. When you bring a higher and a more loving energy to the presence of disorder or disharmony or disease, you are really bringing a healing energy. And that’s what healing is involved with: it’s no longer allowing yourself to wallow around in a process in which you tell yourself that you don’t have the capacity to be able to transcend whatever it is that’s bothering you or hurting you or killing you. And that you take total responsibility for what you have without any guilt, whether it’s cancer or arthritis or whatever it might be. You can say, ‘I take responsibility for it and I’m going to bring as much higher energy to it as I possibly can; I’m going to dissociate myself from identifying myself as this body that might have some things going on that are incompatible with perfect health.’ And as you detach from it and get outside of it, you have much more of an opportunity to bring love to it and divine energy and even miracles. And miracles can occur when you are in that state of detachment.
Can you explain the difference between being responsible to your illness and responsible for your illness?
Yes, it simply means that I don’t choose guilt. Being responsible for it means I somehow believe I’m being punished for having done bad things or having been an irresponsible person. Whereas, when you’re responsible to it you simply say, I own this, it’s mine. I don’t understand, perhaps, why I got it but I’m taking total and complete responsibility for it. And the reason for doing that is, if you believe that any disease or illness you have is the result of something outside of yourself that you have no control over, then in order for it to go away, you have to wait for something outside of yourself to change. And then you have absolutely almost no chance of healing. Whereas, if you take total responsibility for it and you say, look, I’ve got this, I own it, it’s mine, I’m not being punished, it’s just something that is a condition of my life but I am the one who’s taking responsibility for it, then there’s something within you that has to change in order to help make it better and now you’re in charge rather than something outside of you being in charge.
And that’s getting back to the original concept of hey, this isn’t a problem in the first place.
That’s right. It’s just a condition I’m dealing with and I’m dealing with it from a non-guilty perspective.
Can you talk about shifting from a belief system to a knowing and how that relates to healing?
Yes, a belief is generally something that comes to us from outside of ourselves. It’s the culture we’re immersed in, it’s the people who raised us, it’s the books that we’ve read, it’s all of the forces that have been impinging upon us in order to get us to change or to be what they think we should be. Whereas, a knowing is something that comes from within. For example, knowing how to swim doesn’t come from someone else showing you or someone else telling you or watching movies of other people swimming, it comes from having been in the water, knowing how to move yourself through the water and not sink. And it’s true of virtually everything in our lives: knowing comes from direct experience. There’s a difference between knowing God and knowing about God. Knowing about God is all of the stuff we’ve been told and all of the books we’ve read and all of our religious experiences and what others have told us and tried to convince us of; but knowing God is when we make conscious contact. And that’s why making conscious contact is such an important part of the healing process. In the world of healing, when a knowing confronts a belief in a disease process, the knowing will always triumph. It takes an abandonment of tribal consciousness to get to a place where you can say, ‘I know I can heal myself.’ It’s a banishment of all doubt.
What’s the first step somebody can take to get to that place?
The first step is to turn your life and your problem over to making conscious contact with God. Turning it over to God, saying, I am connected to God and I am going to turn this thing over because I don’t know how to deal with it myself. And then to get quiet and peaceful and meditate. Meditation isn’t just something we do to make ourselves more peaceful and to take some of the stress out of our lives, we do it because it’s the only direct experience we can have of knowing God. Because God is that which is indivisible. Everything else in the universe, in the physical world, is divisible. Up and down, good and bad, right and wrong, male and female, and so on. But that which is indivisible in our physical experience is called silence. And when you get into silence you’re coming to know the indivisibleness of your life and that’s conscious contact. That’s the first step and the major step we need to take.
Is that what you refer to as Siddhi consciousness or unity consciousness?
Yes, when you finally make that conscious contact and you know that you and God are one. I am in you and you are in me. I am in the father and the father is in me. There’s no separation there. A Course in Miracles says that if you do have a problem, you only have one. And that one problem you have is the belief that you are separate from God.
Doesn’t being more loving and positive also help the world at large because, as Deepak says, your efforts strengthen the ‘unified field?’
Yes, absolutely. Everything is connected and those who live at the very highest and fastest energies are able to compensate for people who live at very low and slow energies. They say that on a scale of one to 1000, with a 1000 representing divine unity consciousness and a one representing the lowest energy, that one person at 1000, let’s say it was Jesus Christ walking among us, would counterbalance the negativity of everybody else on the planet. And one person at 900 can counterbalance the negative energy of 90 million people. Without the people that represent the highest and the fastest of spiritual energies among us all of humanity would literally self-destruct. There’s a wonderful book about this called Power Vs. Force by David Hawkins, a medical doctor. He talks a lot about the counterbalancing effect of higher energies on people who compute at very low energies. It’s wonderful reading.
Is this unity consciousness more easily adopted by very young people?
No, I don’t think it has anything to do with age. I think some people show up here with very high levels of consciousness, some of us struggle for it for our whole lifetime, and some never get past shame and guilt and so on. Although younger people who haven’t been conditioned have more of a sense of their own ability to perform miracles. For example, in the book I tell the story about my daughter, Sage, who had a series of flat warts on her face for almost four years. She was seven at the time. A dermatologist told her the best way he knew for getting rid of them was to talk to them because he didn’t want to burn them off or do anything that would disfigure her. So she talked to her ‘bumps,’ as she called them, for three nights in a row and they disappeared and never returned. Her skin has been perfect ever since.
You grew up in an orphanage and foster homes. How did that shape you in terms of bringing you to where you are now?
Well, I think we have to go through everything we go through in our life and I believe my purpose in life was to teach self-reliance. So I had the experience of relying on myself very early in life in order to have that knowing, because otherwise I would’ve just read about it. I think of it now as a great advantage that I had; it certainly taught me to rely upon myself at a very young age. And that’s what I’ve been teaching since I was a little boy.
Was that the greatest challenge you ever had in your life?
No, it really wasn’t that much of a challenge. When you’re an orphan, you don’t wake up every day and tell yourself, ‘I’m an orphan again today. Why did this happen to me?’ You just get on with your life. I’ve had other challenges that were much greater than that.
What has been your greatest challenge?
Well, I’ve had a number of addictions in my life I’ve had to overcome. I have sort of an addictive personality. I played around with alcohol and drugs and caffeine. I drank beer a lot and was overweight for awhile. I’ve also been through the challenge of divorce. That was a very powerful challenge in my life.
What steps allowed you to overcome the addictions and divorce?
Getting closer to God. Feeling that my challenges were not between me and my addictions or between me and my ex-wife, they were really between me and God. The question was, can I bring love and peace to the presence of those challenges and not get down on myself or someone else? And I was able to do that. I also had a heart attack a year and a half ago, which I wrote about in my new book. That was another great challenge.
Spirituality, of course, is a gradual, lifetime process. Do you remember how old you were when you finally started to ‘get it’ and started to awaken?
Well, I think it’s an evolutionary thing. Perhaps it was when I started writing a book called You’ll See It When You Believe It, which represented a major shift away from psychology and towards spirituality in my writing. But as I look back on my earlier writings, with books like Your Erroneous Zones and Pulling Your Own Strings, there’s a lot of spirituality in them. I just didn’t call it that. I’ve always had a knowing that being kind is a lot more effective than being angry. And being generous has always been a characteristic I’ve had; whatever I’ve had, I’ve always been willing to give away. Those are spiritual qualities.
So there was never one moment in your life when the bell went off?
No, it was an evolutionary process, although a very key moment in my life was when I went to my father’s grave and was able to forgive him. Another key moment happened in a meditation when I had an inner experience of knowing God. Another time when I was giving up drinking, I had a real clear sense in my mind that this wasn’t something I was going to continue to do any longer – I had a feeling of a presence, I was in a dream almost, and I was looking through a window that someone had put special Windex on so I could see right through it for thousands of miles; all I could see was pure infinity and pure love and that it would be easy, not hard. And it was.
One last question: how can we look at the terrorist attacks on New York City and the situation in Afghanistan and find a spiritual solution to help us resolve this problem?
Well, we have to recognize what the problem is. If you go back to 1775, everybody in America was told to hate the English. Thirty years later we were allies with the British and we hated the French. Fifty years later, everybody in the South hated everybody in the North and everybody in the North hated everybody in the South. Forty years after that we were at war with Spain and now everyone in America bitterly hated the Spanish. And twenty years later, we hated the Germans, and twenty-five years later we hated the Japanese and then we hated the Russians for a very long time. And then the Iranians, the Iraqis and now it’s the Taliban. The faces of who we’re supposed to hate just keep changing. See, the problem isn’t who we hate, the problem is hatred itself. All of this stuff passes, but hatred is the lowest, slowest energy that human beings can live under. And when we have too much of it in the world, we begin to see that it becomes very, very, very destructive and then we react.
The problem with using force in our lives is that we always create a counterforce. For example, if you’re with a child and the child says, ‘I hate you,’ which is a very low energy, and you respond with, ‘I hate you too,’ you have lowered the collective energy you are both in and both of you will be weakened. Whereas, if you respond to. ‘I hate you,’ with love, which is what, instinctively, we know what to do, then we can dissolve and dissipate that hatred. And until we collectively learn how to respond to each other’s hatreds with love – which is what Jesus taught us, which is what Buddha came here to teach us, which is what Muhammed taught us, which is what all of the great spiritual masters who have ever walked among us who live at those highest energies taught us – responding to force with more force will just create more problems. And, ultimately, I think that is what we will learn. In the meantime, we have to look at the people who want to tear our buildings down as a cancer in a body called humanity and we have to isolate and remove those cancer cells. One of the new ways they’re learning to deal with cancer is that they surround the adjacent cells with high doses of very high energy through lasers and so on and just the presence of that higher energy around those cancer cells has a tendency to dissolve it; it might be the cure for cancer we’ve been hoping for for so long. And that’s what we have to do: we have to isolate and remove those that would behave in these ways. But we also have to ask ourselves why we attract so much hatred in our world. Why does America attract so much hatred and how much of that are we putting out into the world? How much are we exporting violence? How many guns do we produce? How many nuclear weapons do we produce? What do we do with all of our wealth and so on? Why aren’t we better at exporting what good people we are rather than how different we are and how intolerant we are of the way other people are. That’s what we have to look at. We have to look at it collectively.
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