Behind the curtain of your intellect and emotions is your self-image or
ego. The ego is not your real self; it is the image of yourself that you
have slowly built over time. It is the mask behind which you hide, but it is
not the real you. And because it is not the real you, but a fraud, it lives
in fear. It wants approval. It needs to control. And it follows you
wherever you go.
The ego is the prison you have built around yourself, and now it holds
you captive within its walls. Any time you feel discomfort in your body,
your ego, which is e-g-o or edging-god-out, is overshadowing your inner
Fear, doubt, worry, and concern are some of the energies associated
with your ego. And how do you break free from captivity? You break free by
choosing to identify with your inner self, the real you.
You break free when you feel neither beneath anyone nor superior to
anyone, when you shed the need to control other people, when you no longer use
stereotypes or harbor extreme likes or dislikes toward people you
hardly know. You break free when you refuse to follow the impulses of anger
and fear, when your speech is nurturing rather than scathing, when you
choose to express only your love.
You break free when you surrender to the moment, to what is, and trust
that the universe is on your side, when you let go of grievances and choose
Grievances are the melodrama of the ego that overshadows the spirit.
When you relinquish all grievances, you truly break free and find your soul.
The soul is the source of creativity, understanding, peace, harmony,
laughter, and all possibilities. It is a place of stillness, which is beyond
But as soon as we use labels - good or bad - we create an image that
overshadows the inner self. Without those labels, we are the free
spirit and the free flow of the universe.
The world of the ego is time-bound, temporary, fearful, self-centered,
and attached to the known. It clings to pleasure and recoils from pain. The
world of spirit is timeless and eternal, joyful, undivided, unshakable,
dynamic, creative, powerful, and free of every limitation. The world of
spirit is the source of all power. There never was and never will be
any other source of power. What the world calls power is really fear that
leads to manipulation and control of others, which in turn leads to violence
and suffering. Real power is the power to create, the power to transform,
the power to love, the power to heal, and the power to be free. Real power
comes from our connection to our deepest self, to what is real. That is why
powerful people are self-referred, not object-referred. These two terms
need a further explanation.
Object-referral means that we identify with our self-image or the
objects of our experience to understand ourselves. These objects can be
situations, circumstances, people, or things, but whenever we refer to objects to
define our identity, we are operating out of object-referral mode. By their
very nature objects change, and as long as we identify with objects, we will
never know our real essence. When we understand ourselves through
objects, or through the eyes of others, our life is like a roller-coaster ride.
If our identity is tied to these, then life is always going to be unstable
because everything is constantly changing.
The opposite of object-referral is self-referral. When we are
self-referred, we identify with our inner self, the unchanging essence of our soul. We
feel wonderful regardless of the situation we are in because we don't
identify ith the situation. We are the detached, silent witness of the
Self-referral is an internal state of joy, and this is different from
happiness for a reason. Of course there's always a reason to be happy.
Somebody says, "I love you," and that makes you feel happy. You win the
lottery and that makes you feel happy. This kind of happiness is an
expression of object-referral: You're happy because of this; you're
happy because of that. But inner joy is independent of the situation,
circumstances, people, or things. When you experience inner joy, you
are happy for no reason. Just to be alive to gaze at the stars, to
experience the beauty of this world, to be experientially alive in the miracle of
life itself is your happiness.
Everything in life is changing; that is the nature of our world. But
when you are self-referred, you enjoy the change instead of resisting it.
People have asked me, "If something bad is happening in my life, how can I be
happy instead of negative and depressed?" Well, by going back to your source,
by recognizing that whatever is happening, it comes and goes. You don't
need to look positively or negatively at a difficult situation.
What is a positive mind? It's an interpretation. What is a negative
It's also an interpretation. And the difference between a positive mind
and a negative mind is sometimes quite superficial. Both a positive mind
and a negative mind can be a turbulent mind, and sometimes one can switch to
the other very quickly. Courage can become fear in the twinkling of an eye.
Love can transform into jealousy in the twinkling of an eye. These are
turbulent minds. More important than a positive mind is a silent mind.
Why not go beyond both a positive mind and a negative mind to become a
silent, nonjudgmental, nonanalytical, noninterpretive mind? In other
words, the silent witness. In the process of silent witnessing, we experience
inner silence. In the purity of silence, we feel connected to our source and
to everything. In silence, we flow with the tide, and the tendencies that
emerge from here are evolutionary. In silence, inner energies
spontaneously wake up and bring about the appropriate transformation for every
There's a saying that goes, "The river of life runs between the banks
of pleasure and pain, and one bumps into both." That's not the problem.
The problem occurs when we cling to the banks, either the positive one or
the negative one. When we quietly reconcile ourselves to all of life's
contradictions, when we can comfortably flow between the banks of
pleasure and pain, experiencing them both while getting stuck in neither, then
we are free.
Joy and sorrow, happiness and suffering, are the play of opposites;
they are transient because they are time-bound. Spirit, the essential you, is
independent of the play of opposites; it dwells in the silent bliss of
the eternal. When you truly know who you are, then you are living from your
source, which is bliss. The key to happiness is to stop looking for it,
and to know that you already have it. The key to lasting happiness is to
live and play in the field of intelligence that is beyond positive and
That field is your source, and it is magical, holy, joyful, and free.
(c) 2006 by Deepak Chopra. Excerpted from Power, Freedom, & Grace:
the Source of Lasting Happiness. Published by permission of Amber-Allen
Publishing, Inc., San Rafael, California. For more information about
Chopra, visit Chopra.com