“Well, every man has a religion; has something in heaven or earth which he will give up everything else for—something which absorbs him—which may be regarded by others as being useless—yet it is his dream, it is his lodestar, it is his master. That, whatever it is, seized upon me, made me its servant, slave—induced me to set aside the other ambitions—a trail of glory in the heavens, which I followed, followed with a full heart. . . . When once I am convinced, I never let go . . .”            Walt Whitman

This chapter presents six principles that are important to observe as we seek an inspired life—they’re a blueprint to refer to as we reconstruct a life in-Spirit. I’m listing them in no particular order of importance because I believe that they’re equally essential.

Principle #1: Be Independent of the Good Opinion of Others
In order to live in-Spirit, we must adopt Arthur Miller’s trust that the Source is always working within us, or Walt Whitman’s belief that our ultimate calling “may be regarded by others as being useless—yet it is [our] dream, it is [our] lodestar.” In other words, inspiration must be our master, even though following it might disappoint others.
When inspiration makes its presence known, we must pay attention if our priority is to be who or what we were meant to be. William Shakespeare’s famous query, “To be or not to be: that is the question,” symbolizes the urgent choices that we have to make—that is, do we become what we came here to be, or do we ignore that calling? In this oft-quoted soliloquy, Hamlet delves deeper by wondering, “Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer / The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, / Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, / And by opposing end them? . . .” Suffering the consequences of living according to someone else’s wishes doesn’t make any sense; rather, we need to oppose the external opinions that try to force us to be what we’re not intended to be.

There are many well-meaning people in our lives who have ideas about what we should or shouldn’t be doing . . . relatives tend to be specialists in this area! If we let them guide us with advice that isn’t congruent with our inner calling, we’ll suffer the anguish—the “slings and arrows”—of an uninspired life. Each of us can feel what we’re being called to be; when we pay attention, we can hear our own impatient voices coaxing us to pay attention and complete the assignments we brought with us from the world of Spirit. But when we allow the opinions and dictates of others to determine what we’re going to be, we lose sight of our objective to live an inspired life.
We need to determine for ourselves how much we’ve allowed others to decide issues such as what we do, where we live, with whom we live, and even how we’re treated. We must know that absolutely no one else truly knows and feels what we’re here to accomplish, so we must give ourselves permission to hear our inner guidance and ignore the pressure from others. Regardless of how absurd our inner calling might seem, it’s authentically ours and doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else. The willingness to listen and act on our inspiration, independent of the opinions of others, is imperative.

Principle #2: Be Willing to Accept the Disapproval of Others
Logically following the last principle, this one notes that we’re going to incur the disfavor of many people when we follow our inclinations to be in-Spirit and live the life we came here to live. This isn’t a selfish or cynical attitude: When we begin to follow our ultimate calling, there will be a lot of resistance. In fact, the purpose of the “slings and arrows” sent our way is to get us to change our mind and be “reasonable,” which translates to “Do it my way!”
However, as we gain the strength to ignore the pressure to conform, resistance will diminish and ultimately change to respect. When we steadfastly refuse to think, act, and conform to the mandates of others, the pressure to do so loses its momentum. All we have to do is endure some initial disapproval such as dogmatic persuasion, anger, pouting, silence, and long-winded lectures . . . and then we’re on our way to inspiration rather than frustration.
Here’s a recent example of this from my own life. I elected to have most of the royalties and all of the advance payments for this book go to a scholarship fund, and there were people who tried to get me to “come to my senses” and not “throw my money away,” which was how they viewed my decision. I have an inner voice that is overwhelmingly powerful, and I trust in what truly inspires me. I’d known for many years that one day I’d endow a scholarship fund at my alma mater, for instance—the thought of young, financially challenged students having the opportunity that I’d received as a young military veteran inspires me more than I can relate to you here in these pages. So I was comfortable with, and able to ignore, the disapproval I encountered, giving responses such as, “I know what I’m doing and why I’m doing it,” and “Don’t waste your time and mine attempting to convince me otherwise.” And sure enough, the resistance I met was converted to acceptance.
The people who receive the most approval in life are the ones who care the least about it—so technically, if we want the approval of others, we need to stop caring about it and turn our attention to becoming an inspired being of sharing. One little note of caution here: When we raise our children according to these principles, and they observe us living them on a daily basis, we’ll have to deal with their determination to respect their inner calling. For example, when my daughter Sommer was about 11 years old and I asked to see her report card, I was a bit taken aback by her response. “Why do you want to see it?” she asked.
When I said, “Well, I’m your father, and I think I should know how you’re doing in school,” she matter-of-factly replied, “But these are my grades, not yours, and if I thought you needed to see them, I would’ve shown them to you already.”
I assure you that she wasn’t being disrespectful; she simply had no need to share her grades with me. Since I knew that she was doing very well in school, I let it go—and let her be who she wanted to be.

Principle #3: Stay Detached from Outcomes
Inspiration doesn’t come from completing tasks or meeting goals; in fact, that’s the sure way to have it elude us. Returning to Spirit, you see, is an experience of living fully in the present moment. Our purpose in life isn’t to arrive at a destination where we find inspiration, just as the purpose of dancing isn’t to end up at a particular spot on the floor. The purpose of dancing—and of life—is to enjoy every moment and every step, regardless of where we are when the music ends.
Many of us are seduced into believing that having goals is necessary for a successful life, especially since we’ve been brainwashed by slogans such as “If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you’re there?” and “Not having a goal is more to be feared than not reaching a goal.” This kind of logic keeps us from feeling inspired because we live a life of striving while foregoing arriving.
A more rewarding spiritual truth is that there’s only now—and when this moment passes, it will be replaced by another one, ad infinitum. To use up our “present now” being consumed with a “future now” that will only turn into a “then” is the prescription for the absence of inspiration. Since there’s only now, learning to live in it and enjoy every present moment is the same as being in-Spirit, while being focused on an outcome to determine our level of happiness and success keeps us out of Spirit.
Yoga master Sri Swami Sivananda offered the only worthwhile goal I know of when he said that the goal of life is God-realization. Now here’s a goal I can live with! After all, this allows me to live in-Spirit every moment of my life, while simultaneously thinking ahead to the next God-realized moment (and the next). As the great Indian sage Ramana Maharshi once remarked, “There is no goal to be reached. There is nothing to be attained. You are the Self. You exist always.” Now this is real inspiration.
As I sit here writing, I don’t have a goal in mind, yet I trust that the book will be completed. I’ve seen it, even though I’m months away from the final product. I live in the bliss of creating right here, right now, and I relish these moments. I trust that the outcome will be handled by the same Source that inspires these words to appear seemingly out of nowhere. I’m here now—in peace, in love, and in awe—and my only goal is to stay in this consciousness and enjoy every moment, putting into practice what I agreed to when I was in-Spirit before becoming the particle that began this glorious journey.

Principle #4: Know That We Need Nothing/No Things to Be Inspired
We came into this world of boundaries from a formless energy field of Spirit. We arrived here with nothing/no things, we’ll make our exit with nothing/no things, and our purpose (God-realization) requires nothing/no things. We are all that we need to be inspired and living on purpose, and the things that continue to flow into our life are just symbols of the unlimited abundance of our Source. In other words, these things have no value in and of themselves because everything in the physical world is changing and will dissolve back to nothingness anyway.
The objective Universe is not made up of things—it’s made up of waves of motion that simulate the things we’re taught to believe are real. Once we accept that, from an infinite perspective, everything we see in nature isn’t really what it seems to be, we’re able to convert what we view with our eyes into a knowing about all things. Then we can recognize that the objects we believed we needed to feel inspired are nothing from Spirit’s perspective. This is what distinguishes the physical person from the spiritual person, the inspired person from the uninspired person.
We’re beings of Spirit, living from mind (rather than the body with all of its inherent restrictions), so if we communicate with God in the language of light and energy, we’ll see His tolerant amusement at our preoccupation with the illusion of possessions. We don’t need more of anything to become inspired; rather, we need to take our attention away from what we see and move into the miraculous world of Spirit, where joy and bliss await us.

Remember: We’re already connected to everything that we think is missing from our life. Below and above the ranges that our eyes and ears perceive, the entire activity of creation remains invisible and inaccessible—but when we shift from sensory searching to trusting what we know, we discover the folly of chasing after anything in order to feel inspired. All we need is a conscious realignment so that our thoughts begin to match up vibrationally with Spirit, which we know is a part of us already. And our state of inspiration is what allows for this realignment.
When we tune in to what we know rather than what we see, we immediately find that every thought of God is repeated throughout the Universe. We can watch as some things enter our life and others leave, all the while remaining in-Spirit, knowing that all of those things have nothing to do with our state of inspiration. We need nothing more to be inspired, since we’re connected to Spirit already. The ancient Persian poet Omar Khayyam offered us these words, which summarize this principle that we don’t need another thing to be inspired—it’s all right here, right now:

Forget the day that has been cut off
from thy existence;
disturb not thyself about tomorrow,
which has not yet come,
rest not upon that which is no more;
live happily one instant,
and throw not thy life to the winds.

Principle #5: “Don’t Die Wondering”
This principle is extremely important in working toward an inspired life because it motivates us to act—after all, we don’t want to be full of regrets because we failed to heed our ultimate calling. Attempting to do something, even if it doesn’t succeed, is inspiring because we don’t tend to regret what we do, we regret what we didn’t do. Even following a futile attempt, we’re inspired because we know that we gave it a shot. It’s wondering whether we should or shouldn’t try something that leaves us feeling stressed and incomplete.
When I’m playing a tennis match and being tentative in anticipation of losing a point, for example, I’ve created a situation in which I’ll wonder what kind of a game it would have been had I really gone for it. It’s in these moments that I remind myself, “Don’t die wondering.”
Inspiration has nothing to do with whether we win or lose; in fact, if we just play the game of life, we’ll have plenty of wins and losses, regardless of our talent level. If we fail to even try because of fear of rejection or doubt about our talent, we’re going to go through life wondering, and that’s what keeps us from finding and feeling inspiration.
Most of us, myself included, can remember the intensity of our first romantic attraction—just as we can recall what happened when we didn’t follow our inspiration. I’ve always wondered what would have happened if I’d been able to act on that strong inner call in high school, when I had an enormous crush on a beautiful girl named Janice Nelson. I wanted to ask her out, but I let my fear of being rejected keep me from taking the steps to act upon my inner desires. On several occasions I even dialed her phone number and hung up when she answered. I never overcame my foreboding thoughts and, in effect, was left to die wondering.
Many years later, I danced with Janice at our 30-year high school reunion and told her how I felt back then. I even confessed the way I’d hang up the phone because of my trepidation. Janice, to my everlasting delight—and chagrin—said, “I always had a crush on you. I would’ve loved to have gone out with you, and in fact I tried to leave you clues to call me. But you never did.” Ouch! That’s a perfect example of regretting what I didn’t do.

Goethe, writing in Faust, provides a poetic description of the two souls living within us: ne, a spirit that allows us to make the phone call and ask for the date regardless of the outcome, and the other that clings to the world of fear, and lives to die wondering:

Alas, two souls are living in my breast,
And one wants to separate itself from the other.
One holds fast to the world with earthy passion
And clings with twining tendrils:
The other lifts itself with forceful craving
To the very roof of heaven.

If we lift ourselves “with forceful craving to the very roof of heaven,” we’ll never die wondering.

Principle #6: Remember That Our Desires Won’t Arrive by Our Schedule
There’s an ancient aphorism that goes: “If you really want to make God laugh, tell God your plans.” In essence this means that all we desire will arrive in our life when and only when we’re aligned vibrationally with the energy of our Source. Our ego won’t be consulted or get to determine the schedule—creation reveals Its secrets when It’s good and ready. Our job is to take the focus off of the when and put it on being connected to our originating Spirit. Our job is to stop challenging and demanding responses from God, and instead be more like Him. Our job is to understand and accept that all of the things that show up in our life, which we often find contradictory or troublesome, are there because we’ve attracted them . . . and we need to have these obstacles in order to clear an opening for our true Spirit purpose to emerge. This may require a change in thinking patterns, which is something Tom Barber knows all too well.
Tom is the head golf pro at Griffith Park in Los Angeles and owns and operates the Tom Barber Golf Center in Southern California; his father, Jerry, was the PGA champion in 1961. Tom is a close friend whom I can talk to straight about virtually anything. For example, he once admitted to me that business had fallen off, and he was concerned about a deterioration in income due to fewer customers golfing in an economy on the downturn.
He’d gone on for about as long as I was willing to absorb this kind of energy when I finally said, “Tom, you’re approaching the whole issue from a perspective that almost guarantees that this financial headache will continue to grow. Try affirming: What I desire is on its way. It will arrive precisely on God’s timetable, not on mine. Everything that I’m experiencing now is disguised as a problem, but I know that it’s a blessing. What I desire is on its way, and it’s coming to me in amounts even greater that I can imagine. This is my vision, and I’ll hold on to it in a state of gratitude, no matter what.”
I received a letter from my friend about two months after our conversation, in which he wrote: “Thanks for the pep talk. Once I started to say that the business I’m seeking and the finances I need are on their way, everything started to turn around.” What happened is that Tom decided to align with the unrestricted abundance of Spirit energy.
As you can see from Tom’s example, rather than making demands of God to follow our schedule in order to feel inspired, we can let go, surrender, and remind ourselves that all is in Divine order. We’re much more successful when we allow inspiration to flow in on God’s terms than when we’re impatient and demanding. As always, our job in God-realization is to become more like God—that means surrendering to the timetable that’s always perfect, even when it seems to be full of errors.

Keep these six principles handy and access them anytime you find yourself lacking inspiration. Remember, too, that we’re called to this world of inspiration, which beckons us to “let go and let God,” as they say in the recovery movement. I also love this advice, which was tendered by one of my favorite teachers, Napoleon Hill: “If you can’t do great things, do small things in a great way. Don’t wait for great opportunities. Seize common, everyday ones and make them great.”

Some Suggestions for Putting the Ideas in This Chapter to Work for You
— Make a written commitment to be free of the pressures of people who try to dictate the course of your life, such as: I intend to listen to my own thoughts concerning my life. I’ll be receptive to advice, but I’ll do what my conscience dictates, even if I incur disapproval. By writing your intentions and having them readily available to refer to, you nurture the inspirational energy to follow through on your interests. The intention behind the words guides and reminds you to be steadfast about seeking your own inspiration. Don’t employ anger or aggression as ways of being independent of others’ opinions—you’re Spirit energy from a field of love, and you must be love in order to be in-Spirit.

— Small steps will activate matching vibrations to what you desire. So if you want to live close to nature, plan a visit to the place of your dreams and take the small steps to experience what it feels like. If you can’t or won’t do that, or if you aren’t ready to go yet, you can read books or rent movies in order to have the experience vicariously. But be alert to the vibrational energy of thought and action that you offer Spirit.
When my daughter Skye wanted to produce a CD of her own compositions, it seemed like a daunting task to write, perform, record, and arrange for all of the studio time and musicians. She continued to shy away from what inspired her, so I encouraged her to take a small step and write just one song. I gave her a suggestion for a title and gave her a deadline—and then I watched with joy and pride as she sat at her piano, engrossed in her inspiration, creating. One small step put her on the path of inspiration, as Napoleon Hill suggested.

— Instead of goals, make the commitment to live joyfully in the moment. Stop dreaming about the future and get back to the only thing any of us have: now. Decide to live fully in the present, withdrawing attention from past and future. Your desire for inspiration activates the world of Spirit from which you came. Your imagined future, the stuff of goals, is an unnecessary way of squandering the present moment. Be Here Now is more than a great book title by Ram Dass, it’s the essence of inspiration. Being in the now is the way to remove anxiety, stress, and even some illnesses.
As I sit here writing, I can daydream all I want about completing this book, but in reality, all I can really do (which is precisely what I am doing) is listen to my inner voice, offer a matching vibration to those inner pleadings, and feel the joy of allowing the thoughts to come through me onto the pages. The “goal” has been suspended in favor of being here now, living out what I’m being directed by my “Senior Partner” to do. The end result takes care of itself, particularly since I see the end result in my mind, and I use my present moments in harmony with that vision.

— Respect the silent and burning desire that’s within you—don’t scoff at it, and refuse to be critical or judgmental. Create a sacred space within your home, some private corner where you can have an altar for the symbolic residence of your inner vision. When you walk by this altar, offer a silent blessing and express gratitude for the presence of inspiration in your life. The altar can have photographs, magazine articles, artifacts, totems, crystals, jewelry, plaques . . . anything that reminds you of your own passions. As “silly”or “far-fetched” as this might appear, it’s nevertheless true that when you talk and live with daily reminders of Spirit, you become a vibrational match to your ultimate calling.
When I was much younger, many people ridiculed and disregarded my vision of being a writer and a performer, but I treated my inner vision with the veneration that the sacred deserves. Holding my inner knowing in high esteem during my teen years allowed me to undertake writing a novel, irrespective of what anyone around me expressed. When you trust in your inner vision, you’re trusting the same wisdom that created you.

— Make an affirmation that whatever brings passion, enthusiasm, and inspiration to you is on its way. Say it often: It is on its way, it will arrive on time, and it will arrive in greater amounts than I imagined. Then look for even the tiniest clue that will help you be a vibrational match with your affirmation. You’ll get what you think about, whether you want it or not!

***

The words of a man who was both a philosopher and a Roman emperor will close this chapter. Marcus Aurelius disdained thoughts of violence and refused to go to war; in fact, he presided over his empire with a philosophy of peace and respect for all of his fellow men. Below, he speaks of the things we’ve forgotten when we’re uninspired or not focused in-Spirit.

When thou art troubled about anything, thou hast forgotten this, that all things happen according to the universal nature; and forgotten this, that a man’s wrongful act is nothing to thee; and further thou hast forgotten this, that everything which happens, always happened so and will happen so, and now happens so everywhere; forgotten this too, how close is the kinship between a man and the whole human race, for it is a community, not of a little blood or seed, but of intelligence. And thou hast forgotten this too, that every man’s intelligence is a god, and is an efflux of the deity; and forgotten this, that nothing is a man’s own, but that his child and his body and his very soul came from the deity; forgotten this, that everything is opinion; and lastly thou hast forgotten that every man lives the present time only, and loses only this.

Use his words as an inventory of things to remember as you seek to find your way back to inspiration.

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