Wayne Dyer is one of the original 'supergurus', a much-loved multi-million selling author and prolific speaker who, with his friend Deepak Chopra and the likes of Anthony Robbins, John Gray and James Redfield, has made life transformation into such a massive contemporary phenomenon. The success of Your Erroneous Zones (1976) saw Dyer leave respectable academia for the realm of talk shows and book signings.
If that first book was Dyer's most fun to read (the play on the word erogenous is an indication), his most complete and arguably finest book is Real Magic. Packed full of insights, it is a self-actualization guide for real life that borrows freely from the best thinkers of East and West.
What is 'real magic'?
Dyer took the phrase 'real magic' from Harry Houdini, the famous escape artist. For Dyer, real magic is the paradoxical truth that anyone can become a magician, a miracle-maker in their everyday lives. This might seem far-fetched, but as Dyer says, it is simply a matter of changing the way you define your existence. He quotes Teilhard de Chardin: 'We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.'
The book takes the 'impossibilities' in your life and, instead of suggesting mere goal-setting or strong beliefs, shows you how to develop powerful 'knowings' about who you are and what you can do. In this state of higher awareness, your purpose in life becomes very clear, relationships become more spiritual, work endeavours begin to 'flow' and decisions are made with ease.
As Dyer sees it, there are no accidents in life. Each experience we have, no matter how painful, eventually leads us to something of higher value. When looking back, we can see that everything made sense and is part of an unfolding plan.
Enlightenment through purpose
The thread running though Real Magic is the need to become aware of our unique purpose in life. People learn or become 'enlightened' about life and themselves through three main ways:
. Enlightenment through suffering
This might also be called the 'why me?' path. Events occur, suffering takes place, and something is learned. But when suffering is our only teacher, we shut off the possibility of the miraculous.
. Enlightenment through outcome
In this path we have goals and ambitions that make sense of life. While superior to enlightenment through suffering, we must still be reactive and struggle, missing out on the higher awareness that creates magic.
. Enlightenment through purpose
Everything in the universe has a purpose, and by living according to our true purpose we begin to walk in step with it, magically creating what we want instead of battling against life. A good indication that you are 'on purpose' is if you lose track of time while doing your task, if it gives so much pleasure that you would want to do it even if you won ten million dollars tomorrow. Dyer remembers Montaigne's statement that 'The great and glorious masterpiece of man is to live with purpose.' Are you just alive, or are you creating a masterpiece?
Creating a miracle mindset
Apart from purpose, we create a miracle mindset through withholding judgement ('you do not define people with your judgements, your judgements define you'), developing intuition, knowing that intentions create your reality, and surrendering to the universe to provide for your needs.
Particularly important is the need to separate what we do from any rewards it may bring. This is hard when we live in a culture of want, yet Dyer observes the strange-but-true dictum that ambition can bite the nails of success. We cannot will miracles to happen, but must let them flow through us when we are fully concentrating on what we do, not what it might bring. By all means have a relaxed intention about the future, but do not let it interfere with your task in the present.
Purpose and relationships
Purpose extends to our love lives, too. Dyer says all our relationships are part of a divine necessity; they were meant to be, so make the most of them. Spiritual partners go beyond what they may superficially have in common to see that their relationship has to do with the evolution of their souls. With this basic insight, we treat people as a gift, not a chattel. We try to be kind, rather than right. We allow people as much space and time as they need, which renews the relationship. Lastly, since we know each person is a wonderful mystery, we no longer have to understand them. We 'honour the incomprehensible'!
Purpose and the prospering self
Dyer is particularly valuable on prosperity. Mostly, we worry about whether we have money or do not have it, but his conception is that we must not try to 'get' anything: 'There is no way to prosperity, prosperity is the way.' Prosperity is chiefly a state of mind, just as scarcity is. It is not about getting, but being. Prosperity consciousness is about the knowledge of how much we already have in abundance; as the Biblical phrase says, 'To him that hath, more will be given.'
In contrast, poverty consciousness is based on feelings of lack, which are manifested in your circumstances. Dyer echoes James Allen in saying that circumstances do not make us, they reveal us. This is obviously a sensitive area, as it could be interpreted that the poor deserve their situation. But he makes a crucial distinction: while most of us have had the experience of being broke, 'poor' is a set of beliefs which are strengthened each time we blame 'circumstances' for our plight. Living out our purpose is a sure way to enter the stream of prosperity, as it involves constant giving.
Who am I meant to be?
Real Magic also covers personal identity. The chief point: until we see that the personality we have now is not set in stone, that we can reinvent ourselves, we will not have a magic-filled life. That faint intuition or nagging inside about your possibilities knows more about you than you are willing to admit - treasure it and let it grow. Instead of focusing on what we lack, this growth should come from a knowledge that 'we are it all already'. Reinvention of our personality simply means exposing more of our true and greater self to air.
Real Magic also has excellent chapters on physical health, 'becoming a spiritual being' and helping to usher in a 'spiritual revolution'. Dyer has the gift of talking about the non-material without sounding too serious or mystical. He draws on his psychotherapy experience, the great figures of Eastern and Western religion and philosophy and quantum physics to prove his points, all the while avoiding intellectuality.
The very personal way Dyer speaks to the reader has made him a favourite to millions. People identify with him as a person who has managed to combine the spiritual path with the patience-snapping demands of family life. Indeed, in his public talks he can be very amusing on this subject, telling once of his teenage daughter slouching against a door and saying, 'Someone at school said you wrote a book on parenting. Tell me it's not true!' Dyer's secret is meditation, and he is fond of quoting Pascal that, 'All man's miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone.'
If sitting quietly in a room alone seems an impossible task for you, a good alternative would be to read this book.
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Six years of university teaching followed, which included the writing of three textbooks and an associate professorship at St John's University in New York. He spent a year on the road promoting Your Erroneous Zones before it became bestseller.
Dyer is reputed to have sold over 50 million books worldwide, including Pulling Your Own Strings, Gifts from Eykis (a novel), You'll See It When You Believe It, Manifesting Your Destiny and Wisdom of the Ages (60 essays on the great spiritual figures of the last 2500 years). Audio programs include How to Be a No-Limit Person, Voice of the Feminine Spirit and Meditations for Manifesting. Recent works include There is a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem, The Power of Intention and Living The Wisdom of the Tao.
The author maintains a busy speaking schedule and is a keen runner. He has eight children from two marriages and lives in Maui, Hawaii.