I read Dr. Wayne Dyer’s family’s statement concerning his recent passing. Their pet title for him was the scurvy elephant. It was a term he used to show that going against what everyone thinks you should do can often be the path to your personal success. Like the kite rising against the wind.
What a perfect fit. Not only was he one of my most revered spiritual teachers (and continues to be), but he was so playful. He stood strong for his inner voice. He was a gentle giant, both physically and spiritually. Always the teacher, he has stirred many, many souls.
I first discovered Dr. Dyer in an unusual way. My youngest son (now 17) was a young child, picture book age. We read to him nightly and were always on the lookout for material that opened him to higher consciousness than the average picture books were pulling off. I stumbled upon two of Dyer’s works for children. They broke many rules I’d been told at writing conferences one shouldn’t break (like they rhymed, for example), but they soon became my favorites because Dyer’s spirit came through loud and clear.
I started reading his other work, not the early bestsellers, but the ones after he’d shifted into the path lead by his own intuitive voice. Those are the ones I love because his authenticity comes through. He talks about this transition in his movie “The Shift.” Hay House (his publisher) has recirculated this film following his passing, and is offering it for free for a short time to honor Dr. Dyer.
In that film, set at Asilomar in Monterey, California, we see a variety of people in different stages of trying to find out what indeed stirs their soul. In the the A-plot, Dr. Dyer is being interviewed about a current book he is writing, by a frustrated, high-strung filmmaker. The two men are in very different life phases. The filmmaker chases all the wrong rainbows. He’s rude and restless. Dyer, on the other hand, is very invested in learning about Asilomar and being very present. He wakes at 3:15, says Thank you to Spirit, and he moves through the day soaking up each moment and interaction.
He talks about how, when he made this shift to wanting to write about this spiritual connection, his agent resisted. The agent wanted him to write about sex and money–stuff that sells. Dyer refused to go against his inner voice. He insisted he needed to write this “spiritual” book, despite all the publishing push backs and small advance. These writings were, of course, his greatest hits. Dyer’s commitment to his intuition reminded me of the importance of really trusting your inner voice, even when the pressure gets strong to ignore it.
An avid collector of Dyer’s work, I owned this film when it first came out. I loaned it to someone, forgot who (if you are reading this, I wouldn’t mind if you returned the DVD), and forgot about the film. When I got the link to watch for free this past week, I did. Just having been to Asilomar for a conference a few months back, I experienced walking the grounds in a whole new way during this viewing.
It is not the first conference I’ve been to at Asilomar. I can’t say that when I’ve been there, I’ve been in love with the facility. It’s rustic. The rooms range from very rustic to nice rustic, but they’re all rustic. I prefer places with robes and slippers (as does Portia di Rossi in the film.) The meals are expensive for what they are. It’s hard to find the various rooms and I get lost every time, especially at night. Parking is hard to come by and you usually have to park far away and walk until your feet hurt, often in the rain.
But as I sat there and watched, I felt ashamed of myself for not appreciating the beauty more when I’ve been there. I felt like the filmmaker in the film who was too preoccupied looking at what’s wrong to see what’s right. I decided this: I am going to look at Asilomar differently next time I go. I will be there next spring because I serve on a Board that has their annual conference there and part of my service means I go to Asilomar annually. It will be a good time to practice.
Last night, in my dream, the words the scurvy elephant popped into my head. I woke up and guess what time it was? Yep. 3:15. I walked to my office, thinking about how Dyer said he loved the house at that hour when everybody was still and asleep, and sat at my desk in the dark. I reached to turn on my desk lamp, but I had placed Dyer’s little book of Everyday Wisdom where the switch was. I smiled, opened the book in the dark, and turned on my lamp. I had turned to page 137 and this is what it read:
No one can create anger in you. Only you can do that by the way you process the world.
How poignant. And what’s more, you can substitute the word anger for any emotion: indifference, irritation, happiness, bliss–you name it. It’s so simple, and yet so profound.
The scurvy elephant continues to shine the light on me, and I know for sure, I’m not the only one.