Is Michael B in today? I ask the receptionist at the hair salon. Yes, she says and points in his direction. Good, I’m in luck. Now I can chill out in my chair while Michael’s scissors get to work. His hands may shake; he may look shopworn, but his cut is the best in town (almost). “Where have you been?” He asks. Without waiting for a reply, he continues, “You may not believe this but I was thinking of you only the other day.” Oh, yeah, I say, this line is as old as the hills of New Jersey! But the sadness in his deep blue eyes stops me from continuing with my cryptic remarks. “There was another lady who, like you, had disappeared, but when I thought of her, a few days later she reappeared.”
Reader, you may think the dialogue skewed, but this is one part of the telltale on how imagination drives our lives. The cut, style and the length of my hair being settled, I continue with my chat, the kind one engages with a soul mate; not a hippy hairdresser pushing seventy with long thinning grey strands tied in a pony, dressed in a shocking red jacket, black boots and one dangly earring. You have ESP or what we call Extra-Sensory Perception, I tell Michael. He smiles, “I keep going back to the good times. I think of my mother and grandmother who loved me. I miss them.” Here is a man, teary-eyed telling me he is a sad soul; his clientele is falling; he’s depressed and poor. “I live on the shore and during my long commute here, I put my car on ‘cruise control’ and just imagine the good old times. It calms me down.”
It would be a joke if I told Michael to read Dr Wayne Dyer’s latest book Wishes Fulfilled, mastering the art of manifestations. How would it help him earn more money; get young and strong? He’s already towards the bottom of a hill. “I watched Dyer two weeks ago on Public Television,” Michael breaks my reverie. “He said a lot of uplifting stuff.”
Dyer entered my universe three decades ago and am still lookin…as the Americans would say, for answers to a happier fulfilled self. Momentarily, one is inspired reading the doc, but a few days later, it’s the same old story — living the real life and not the storybook life. Dyer in his seventh decade of life refuses to give up, even while facing a death sentence of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia and suffering pangs of loneliness after his wife of many years leaves him.
His argument? “You have been programmed to believe that you do not possess the wisdom or ability to manifest the fulfilment of your wishes and desires,” he writes. “There’s a plane of awareness that you can opt to live at, if you’re willing to change your concept of yourself as an ordinary being, find yourself fulfilling any and all wishes that you have for yourself.”
What he means is that extraordinary consciousness is invisible, boundaryless energy that looks out from behind our eyeballs. “Once you place a thought into your imagination about who you want to become, I encourage you to live from that end, as if it had already materialised into the physical realm.”
Dyer makes it look so simple when he compares self-concept to the “ghost in the machine.” The machine, says he, is our body, five senses, …the tissues, bones, fluids, organs, teeth, brain and within this machine is an invisible ‘I’ that you call mind or spirit comprised of thoughts that direct the machine.
Well, no matter how hard Michael tries directing his “machine” he fails miserably. “All I have is a pain in the pit of my stomach as I sit asking myself ‘What am I doing here at the salon when I have no work,’ meanwhile my bills are piling up.”
Contrast Michael’s poverty to the wealth of a successful banker N. Chandra (not his real name). He knows our erstwhile prime minister Shaukat Aziz who was his colleague at the bank in New York. Chandra lives in a mansion with a pool. “I meditate every day…in the car while commuting to work; in my office or at my home,” he tells me. The couple makes annual visits to India to meet Chandra’s family. His American wife wears ethnic dresses. They give away huge sums in charity.
Where do Wayne Dyer’s scheme of things (Wishes Fulfilled) fit in the Chandra household or for that matter multi-millionaire runaway PM Shaukat Aziz’s? Did these two bankers take control of their “machine” directing them towards the mint where dollars are made? Or did luck favour them? Or as Dyer advises, did they develop the habit of choosing only those thoughts and ideas that added “good into the Self”? Did they deliberatively “compel themselves to accept all love, kindness, hope, joy, expansion, abundance, health, vigour and reject all suffering, sorrow, depression, morbidenss, inferiority, aches and pains?”
‘Pop’ psychology insists that our subconscious mind responds to suggestions. We can re-programme our thoughts, put them on autopilot, go to a quiet place, and feel in our bodies our thoughts and imagination to be real. If such gimmicks were to change our thoughts into reality, we all would be millionaires! Even prime ministers of Pakistan! Don’t you think?
In Wishes Fulfilled, Wayne Dyer, who spent his childhood in foster homes after being abandoned by his parents, has some solid advice for the reader. He urges us not to care what others do or fail to do. Give attention to what you do or fail to do, he says. This indeed is a priceless self-help gem. We often spend our lives thinking (and perhaps rejoicing) others’ failures. Instead, how about thinking of your own failures and trying turning them into successes? It’s doable. Shakespeare said: Our doubts are traitors.
Another jewel Dyer shares with us is: There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way. It should be your “intention” to live a life of happiness because it’s an attitude that comes from within you. And what should you do when unhappiness turns up like an unwanted guest? “Gently and with loving confidence let the fearful or naysaying thoughts drift by like passing clouds as you focus on your nourishing imagination which cannot be altered without your agreement,” suggests Dyer.
Repeat, says Dyer: “I am happy. I am content.” Oh really? Wish it were that simple!