by Jon Sheffres
First there was "What the Bleep Do We Know?" and now there's "The Secret." Both movies in the current wave of New Age favorites deal directly with the issue of human happiness. "The Secret" in particular focuses on "the law of attraction," the idea that like attracts like: A person who at their core lives in fear and expectation of the worst tends to draw in experiences that reinforce his fears. A person who lives with joy and awareness tends to draw in experiences that support more joy and awareness. An old Chassidic story illustrates the point. To condense it, two men meet on a road and engage in a short conversation. The first man ends up complaining about the circumstances of his life and ends with a woeful summation: "How could things get any worse?" At this point God enters the story and ironically takes the man's last words as a challenge. "You think I can't make things worse? I'm God, I can do anything! Let me show you just how much worse I can make it!" Then the second man tells his story; though he, too, has had troubles, he decides to emphasize the positive and concludes by asking rhetorically, "Really, how could things be any better?" In a comic twist, God hears the second man's question as a challenge as well: "You think things can't get any better? Let me show you just how much better I can make it for you!"
"The Secret" claims that "the law of attraction" is as old as humanity. In fact, yoga has taught for centuries that we do have the power to create our reality. Yogi Bhajan, a master of Kundalini Yoga who came to the United States in the late 1960s, referred to this capacity of humans to attract what they most desire as prosperity. Prosperity is not about wealth; it's about experiencing yourself as complete and happy as you are. Once you experience yourself this way, you automatically pull toward you the resources you need to be successful in life. This occurs because the universe "recognizes" your essential vibration-and responds by amplifying it. Just as the story describes above, God (or the Cosmos) "listens" to and essentially mirrors every thought and emotion you put out there. Believe yourself a victim, and you are given countless opportunities to affirm and reaffirm this reality. Not clear who you are and what you want? The Universe sends you mixed signals. Live with gratitude and a sense of purpose and "magically" doors tend to open up for you. You no longer feel like you are grasping for what you want, but that you are being guided towards experiences that foster more gratitude and wholeness. Does this mean that if you are happy everything tends to go your way? No. Life isn't that simple. But, according to Yogi Bhajan, "there is a way through every block." He exhorted his students to "become so strong that your psyche will attract what is already written, and you will be capable of dealing with anything." This statement implies that life can be tough – but that a human being living within his own happiness is tougher still.
In my yoga classes, I sometimes have students assess the "emotional signature" they leave in space and time. The idea is that the general tone or mood by which we live is like a calling card. It is how we are recognized by the cosmos. Because the universe tends to mirror back to us that which we project, creating a healthy, happy feeling tone is an essential aspect of prosperity. The first step is to be honest with yourself: How would you describe your emotional signature at this point in your life? Are you generally anxious, confused, and doubtful? Or are you for the most part content, grateful, and happy? Do you tend to expect the worst or the best?
If I were to make a sequel to the "The Secret," I might call it "What's Your Secret?" because each of us has a unique recipe for happiness, a specific way of creating that feeling tone in our lives. Do you know what makes you happiest in your "heart of hearts"? When do you experience pure joy? This, too, can be evaluated; many self-assessment tools out there can help you understand your "happiness code": astrology, yogic numerology, the Myers-Briggs personality inventory, the Enneagram, just to name a few. So, too, any mind-body discipline or meditation practice can bring an abundance of insights and help you to know yourself as you are.
Contemporary masters like Yogi Bhajan have been teaching that we are entering an age when each person is called upon to be her own master, her own authority. Being who you are means taking responsibility for what makes you truly happy, and following that path without undue compromise. It means stepping onto the playing field and taking on your life as a full participant. When you do this, there is little room for complaint or doubt, meaning you get to avoid the fate of the first man in our Chassidic tale. As a student of mine once said, "What else can I do but live? And if I choose to live, I might as well enjoy myself." The Universe couldn't agree more.
Jon Scheffres (Guruprasad Singh), MA, LPC is a psychotherapist, lecturer, and a KRI Certified Kundalini Yoga Teacher practicing in Salt Lake City. Email him with your thoughts on happiness at: firstname.lastname@example.org.