by Nicole Pugh: For years, best selling author and philosopher Gary Zukav (The Dancing Wu Li Masters, Seat of the Soul) has challenged us to see the depth of our potential in the world—and to act on that awareness. With his new book, Soul to Soul: Communications from the Heart (Simon and Schuster, 2007), he communicates intimately with all who long to know how to truly love, how to develop trust and an open heart, and how to learn to be a compassionate, spiritual person.
Vision Magazine: What is your philosophy based on?
Gary Zukav: I pay attention to my experiences. I listen to my inner sense of what is worth listening to. When I feel it, I make a point of remembering what I have heard and applying it to see if it works for me. Rejecting—for any reason—what you recognize to be significant for you invalidates your own experience, your own power, and the impulses of your own heart. I suggest that you decide for yourself whether what stirs you is worthy of your interest.
VM: What are the first steps of spiritual growth?
GZ: Start by becoming aware of your emotions. You cannot become spiritually advanced while you are unaware of what you are feeling. Emotional awareness requires you to become conscious of everything you are feeling all the time. It is difficult to become emotionally aware because many of your emotions are painful—but your painful emotions offer you the opportunities you need to grow spiritually. They originate in the frightened parts of your personality that you need to locate, challenge, and heal in order to grow into your full potential.
VM: How can we let go of the expectations we place on others? Why is letting go of expectations so difficult?
GZ: Shift your attention from others to what you feel when you interact with others. When you have expectations and they are met, notice what you feel. Notice also what you feel when your expectations are not met. The most effective way to do this is to notice what you are feeling without speaking or acting. The more proficient you become at feeling these sensations, observing them, and learning about them, the less interested you will be in diverting your attention from them by shouting, withdrawing, judging and all of the other ways that [people] have used in the past. Once you develop emotional awareness, your emotions will become more interesting to you than what appears to cause them. When that happens, your expectations will disappear naturally and you will not even notice that they are gone.
VM: For many people, life is difficult. Why is this so?
GZ: The Earth school is a learning environment. You are on the Earth to learn authentic power—the alignment of your personality with your soul. This requires learning how to create what your soul wants to create. It also requires developing the ability to see wisdom and compassion in every challenge that you encounter. You “get nowhere” in your life by continuing to respond to the difficulties in your life in the same ways that you have responded to them in the past.
VM: Do you have a meditation practice?
GZ: My life is my meditation, and everything I do in it is part of my meditation. Here are some of the things that I do: I observe my emotions in terms of the physical sensations in my body, especially my solar plexus, chest, and throat areas, as often as I can remember. I challenge frightened parts of my personality. I also pay close attention to my intentions when I speak or act. When my intention is an intention of my soul—harmony, cooperation, sharing, or reverence for Life—I know I am creating authentic power. I also try to enjoy myself and the perfection of the present moment.