Isn’t it intriguing how we can become so attached to people we’ve never met? I know all about “parasocial interactions” from my media research training — wherein we feel a kinship with a character we see on TV or in a movie — but I’m finding that I’m deeply affected by the passing of Dr. Wayne Dyer. A man I never met, a man with which I probably never would have physically crossed paths. A man who has significantly affected the last year of my life with nothing but his words.
Dr. Wayne Dyer is considered a “self-help author and motivational speaker,” but that simplistic description doesn’t do him justice. He changed a lot of lives, a lot of hearts and minds. He made spirituality accessible and real, and made no secret of his own life-long struggles with living in the present, living with intention, and living from the heart. But he was a major part of the spiritual community that I was just coming to know. And I’m feeling more sadness than I anticipated about his departure from this mortal coil. Instead of dwelling in the sad, however, I would prefer to celebrate the wonderful soul that was known as Dr. Dyer on this earth. So in tribute, I thought I would share some of his words that helped me to appreciate the light inside of me, shift my perception to love, and expect miracles (Power of Positivity has aggregated to good list, too!). Maybe it can do the same for you.
On his definition of God: God is the highest place within each and every one of us. It’s our divine self.
On his definition of the soul: The soul is the birthless, deathless, changeless part of us, the part of us that looks out from behind our eyes and has no form. The soul is infinite so there is no “in” or “out” of it. It is everywhere. There is no place where it is not.
On what happens when we die: I don’t think we die. I think our bodies leave, but we can never die. That which is never born can never die. That which never changes can never die.
I’m taking comfort in hearing how others answer the “what do you think happens when we die” question, because it seems that no matter who you ask there is a running theme: we are eternal. We’re here on earth for a short while but that “meat suit” we wear isn’t US. The essence of you, what makes you YOU, is more vast and powerful than we could ever understand while we’re still here. We are ever and always. Here are some of my recent favorites from guests on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday:
Marianne Williamson: I think it’s extraordinary. A light show. Fabulous. I don’t want to rush there, but… all the blinders are off. The Course in Miracles says that one day you will realize that death is not the punishment, but the reward. It says that birth is not the beginning of life, but a continuation, and physical death is not the end of life, but a continuation. And one day we will realize that the body is just a suit of clothes and that who you really are is the immortal self, just taking off a suit of clothes. And then we won’t be sad to hear that somebody’s died because we know that it was just a shadow that’s gone.
Dr. Eben Alexander: It’s a transition and it’s an adventure. It has nothing to do with being the end of anything dramatic. I think the greatest gift we got from Steve Jobs were his last words: “oh wow, oh wow, oh wow.” His sister reported that in the New York Times. And that’s what he was seeing. He was seeing the beauty of that other realm.
Thich Nhat Hanh: It’s like a cloud in the sky. When the cloud is no longer in the sky, it doesn’t mean the cloud has died. The cloud is continued in other forms, like rain or snow or ice. So you can recognize your cloud in her new forms. If you are very fond of a beautiful cloud, and if your cloud is no longer there, you should not be sad. Your beloved cloud might have become the rain, calling on you, “Darling, darling, don’t you see me in my new form?” And then you will not be struck with grief and despair. Your beloved one continues always. Mediation helps you recognize her continued presence in new forms.
Llewellyn Vaughn-Lee: There comes a time in meditation on the mystical path when you know you can’t die. You go into meditation, you leave behind your ego, you leave behind your body, and you experience your eternal nature in full consciousness. That’s why Sufis talk about “to die before you die.” Then you know you can’t die. And you know that leaving this physical world, beautiful as it is, will be a transition to another world which is infinitely more beautiful. So, you know where you’re going. It is not a mystery anymore.
And it seems as though Dr. Dyer may have known his time here was coming to an end. His Facebook post just three days ago:
I’m praying for his family, friends, colleagues, and students that they/we can celebrate his life and the lessons he imparted while he was physically here. And just maybe, while we talk about his peaceful transition, someone out there who is struggling with the loss of a loved one can take some solace in the words of Dr. Dyer’s spiritual contemporaries on the matter.
Nobody ever really dies. So I won’t say rest in peace, because I can pretty much guarantee that the energy that was known to us as Dr. Wayne Dyer isn’t resting. He’s busy enjoying the universe. I’ll give him a handless high-five one day when I get there, too.