By Dr. Mercola
Passion: how do you find yours so that you can improve not only your life but those that you love and your community? To help address this topic, I interviewed James Redfield, whose life is a tremendous illustration of discerning what your passion is and experiencing magnificent growth as a result of it.
You may recognize him as the author of the wildly popular book, "The Celestine Prophecy," and the series of books that followed. Initially self-published in 1995, that book went on to become a worldwide bestseller for two years straight, which is quite an achievement.
A traditional publisher eventually picked it up, and it stayed on The New York Times Best Sellers list for another 53 weeks. During those years, "The Celestine Prophecy" fueled a groundswell of "spiritual awakening" across the globe.
The Birth of 'The Celestine Prophecy'
Initially trained as a therapist, Redfield eventually discovered that his true passion was teaching others how to find theirs. In this interview, he shares many of the details of his personal journey that catalyzed the information shared in his books.
"The breakthrough to writing began when I was in graduate school," he says. "I thought I'd be making a contribution to psychotherapy and administration, so my interest was psychology at that point ...
While I was there, I began to realize ... there is a spiritual dimension to all healing when it comes to the mind. This was the message of the Human Potential Movement at that time. We're talking about the late '70s and '80s.
After working about 10 years in the field, I realized that the structure of psychotherapeutic breakthrough as it had to do with spirituality was not very clear.
I really wanted to make a contribution to that, so I started to write a quasi-academic book about psychology and spirituality. I got about halfway through it and realized that, yeah, this was boring me.
So to really capture the experience of authentic spirituality, it was important to create a story, a parable of sorts, in which the reader could watch characters grow and have breakthroughs and talk about their spiritual experiences within a point in real time and real community.
That's when I started working on the first book, 'The Celestine Prophecy.'"
In the book, the protagonist sets off on a search for an ancient Peruvian manuscript, long suppressed by the government, said to contain nine insights that mankind is prophesied to grasp upon entering a new era of spiritual awareness and understanding.
The series of insights start with the experience of synchronicity, and the realization that there's more to these events than mere coincidence, for these synchronistic events actually lead us toward our true, and greater, destiny.
Synchronicities are meaningful in ways coincidences are not, and lead you toward greater fulfillment and, ultimately, allow you to live your true passion.
The book became a worldwide sensation. And, based on the feedback Redfield received, he came to realize that "these insights were not just theoretical in any sense; people actualized these insights and it became a huge wave across all religions and cultures."
Indeed, a planetary spiritual awakening was the very topic of the book, and after the success of "The Celestine Prophecy," Redfield concluded that the insights were not yet over—they were continuing, and that led to the next book, "The Tenth Insight: Holding the Vision."
Two more eventually followed in that same series, making for a total of 12 insights. Redfield has also penned many other non-fiction and "guide" books over the last 20 years.
The Celestine series vividly describes the process of spiritual awakening. However, as Redfield notes, "Waking up and actually living your life in a different way are two different things."
Acting on what you know can be a great challenge. It's relatively easy to acquire the knowledge. The challenge is to implement it. However, spiritual breakthroughs do provide us with something special: inspiration. Including the inspiration to change your life completely.
"It gives us a full kind of knowingness about who we are, what we want to do, and how we can do things differently," Redfield says.
"But if you can't get out of bed every morning and if you fall asleep every afternoon because of a long line of bad food you put in your body that day, it's very, very hard, as one piece to this, to sustain your spiritual high.
After talking with literally thousands of people about their spiritual lives, anecdotally there are patterns. One of those patterns is if you don't feel well physically, it's very difficult to break through to spiritual inspiration. So, [health and spirituality] is directly related."
The Most Direct Path
In Redfield's experience, the most direct path in spirituality comes from living a meditative life.
This means setting aside enough time to connect inwardly, and becoming more of an observer—not just of the world around you but an internal observer of thoughts, feelings, and stress levels as well—and seeking to be objective, neutral, and detached in those observations.
Once you're comfortable being a non-judgmental observer of your inner state—your thoughts and feelings—then you can transfer that into your normal waking hours. In this way, your life becomes more or less a constant meditation; you're constantly mindful.
"What that does is get you in the place where you can then begin to perceive more and more intuitive knowing," Redfield explains.
"It's always about your life: what you want to do, how you might solve problems, the people who you haven't thought about in a long time and maybe could connect with. I always argue that when you think of someone, pick up the phone or go see them immediately.
Always what happens then is a synchronicity. The insight says the progress is, No.1, find a way to calm the mind enough to be in that place where you can open up to the spiritual connection ... You've got to go mindful. You've got to be in that place independent of your ego thoughts.
Then what happens is you start having intuitive knowing. That's one of the authentic spiritual experiences that cross all religions and all cultures.
Those intuitions always are about you, your life, and how you can break through to a greater life. Your ego thoughts deal with all kinds of issues like what you should have said to the person who insulted you and all those kinds of things. That's what you let go. [Instead] you concentrate on the intuitive knowing and that leads directly to ... synchronicity and the experience of meaningful coincidences ...
[S]uspend skepticism long enough to realize that you're having an intuitive knowing about your life ... then you'll be open to a mysterious coincidence that can open a door of opportunity and solve a problem. That's the payoff of the intuition. Again, the synchronicity is beginning to identify meaningful coincidences that you realize are helpful ...
[Y]ou realize that you're not alone in the world; that there is a force that has always been called spiritual that's involved, but you have to pay attention. If you just discount all the meaningful coincidences, then you're not going to get the message. The idea is to get the message."
Becoming Sensitive to Synchronicities
Is there any way to practice becoming more sensitive to synchronicities so you don't miss them? Step 1 is to practice waking mindfulness. Busyness is the enemy when it comes to noticing synchronicities. According to Redfield, everyone needs, at some point, to go on what the Native Americans called the vision quest. This doesn't mean you have to isolate yourself in the wilderness however. But you do need to become more cognizant about who and what is around you in any given moment.
"Pay attention to who you pass in the traffic. Pay attention to who you're in the elevator with, on the way to work. Pay attention to who's sitting at the table with you at any restaurant," he says. "The idea is that there are really no unmeaningful coincidences in your life. But there are little coincidences and there are big coincidences. The way you get to the big coincidences is that you strike up that conversation with the person on the table next to you ...
That's the practice part of not missing these synchronicities. There are just so many potential and mysterious coincidences to explore. You just have to use this knowingness to know when to pursue a conversation."
In my own life, for the last year or so, I've developed a practice of walking about 2 hours a day. Most of the time I'm at home, so I walk on the beach, and I read on my Kindle. I'm able to read about two to three books a week this way. Although lately I'm reading about 50 scientific review studies a week for my new book.
One of the books I read recently seems to be a relatively useful illustration of what Redfield is discussing here. It's called The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life's Perfection by Michael Singer.
Michael Singer engages in the practice of yoga, and he's done that most of his adult life. He's lived a very simple life in northern Florida, and simply by following his passion, he wound up being a CEO of a software company with 2,500 employees, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue each year.
"I use the phrase, 'Allow yourself to be guided.' You have to allow yourself to be guided by a higher intelligence that's part of you but feels like a kind of download ... Once you do, then you have this intuitive knowingness that essentially guides you," Redfield says.
From Mindfulness to Insight
Most meditation teachers will tell you to be the observer of everything and to practice placing your mind where you're the silent one—you're simply observing the thoughts that appear in your mind. Most people identify very strongly with their thoughts and find it hard to separate themselves from them.
But with practice and patience, you will find that you can retreat from the thought—step out of and to the side of it, as it were—and as you simply observe, with a detached frame of mind, you will find that in time the thoughts become more intuitive in nature.
"You first have to not pay attention to your thoughts. But at some point, these thoughts become more and more poignant to your life. They become intuitions that give you angles of interest you want to pursue. It actually gives you resolutions or pathways toward resolution of difficulties, conflicts, or problems that you have," Redfield explains.
"Following intuition and following synchronicity moves you forward into a more conscious spiritual path, which means an understanding that you have to make time for this if you're going to expand it even more. It's the thing that I believe is most life-changing, and that I don't think came into the culture until the authenticity movement of the last few years. It was in my last book, The Twelfth Insight: The Hour of Decision.
There are so many little groups [now] seeking a return to authenticity in their culture. And really, what that means is stop lying to yourself and other people, and become a genuine person and a transparent person that has nothing to hide."
Developing a Giving Attitude
Another element of this is to have a giving attitude, which Redfield feels is key to the process. If you want greater spiritual consciousness and power in your life, the great activator, in his view, is to have a giving attitude, meaning you act in the best interest of the people you're affecting through your communication or action. While that may sound easy, it's actually not, because in order to have this giving attitude you have to lose any and all hidden agendas you may have.
"I believe that it has a karmic effect," Redfield says. "Remember, I'm not a scientist. I'm an observer and I believe this is what I observed happening in people. Once they discover this giving effect, then they are essentially intuitive. They're seeking information about how they can be a synchronicity to this person that's crossing paths with them.
Once you have that attitude, you're opening up your intuitive connection with this divine mind within you so that you'll get an answer.
You will get what you should say to this person that would likely be something that would make them feel, 'Oh, man I needed this information at this moment. You told me exactly what I need' ... What happens when you do that is you are in alignment with what I believe is the karmic structure of the universe.
And if you seem to be a synchronicity for other people, then you will draw into your life other people who are seeming to be a synchronicity for you. What this does is to create a higher flow of synchronistic health in your life ... I think it actually qualifies as kind of living in a miracle dimension right here on this world, on this planet. That's how big the karmic effect is when you go honest, when you go helpful, and when you go transparent and authentic."
Follow Your Passion and Look for Synchronicities
Redfield blazed a trail toward a spiritually awakened and more fulfilling life with his Celestine Prophecy series, which covers 4 books in total, starting with "The Celestine Prophecy," followed by "The Tenth Insight: Holding the Vision," "The Secret of Shambhala: In Search of the Eleventh Insight," and "The Twelfth Insight: The Hour of Decision." The content of the 12 insights are also distilled and summarized on his website, CelestineVision.com.
"The books are good, I think, because you experience what these characters are experiencing. It's kind of an adventure to go on, an attempt to make it all kind of adventure growth. But at this point, it's really about doing it and having an integrated practice. That's what we're seeking to help with on the website, CelestineVision.com," he says.
"The tough part is to be authentic and think of other people first and have a giving attitude, but that's also the greatest personal transformation, I believe, because you get more intuitive guidance. You allow yourself to be guided. That is the spiritual download ...
We have a greater mind than what our egos think. You just have to unplug it, and you unplug it, first of all, by having a giving attitude. You try to be a synchronicity and to be helpful to others, and others will try to be that way to you. You can almost live in a different world than everybody else once you start to practice that. That sounds weird from a logical mind point of view, but it's the mystery of the spiritual dimension that we're all part of."