The values that drive the material world must be reversed entirely if you want to realize God. In the conventional view, self-worth comes down to having a strong ego. People who possess strong egos feel self-confident. They enjoy asserting themselves against obstacles. They meet challenges, and in return life gives them money, status, and possessions-óexternal rewards for external accomplishment.
In that light, itís almost embarrassing that Jesus teaches exactly the opposite–to be loved by God, one must be innocent, humble, a servant to all men. But Jesusí view accords with the great wisdom traditions, which hold that a personís worth doesnít change depending on external success and its rewards. A personís worth is the value of a soul, which is infinite. Since every event in your life isnít happening just to a person but to a soul, everything in life should be cherished.
We all know that life has its ups and downs, and that our sense of self-worth rises and falls accordingly. Napoleon was a titan when he won victories on the battlefield but a dwarf after Waterloo. In a world of change, we ego-driven people seem to be puppets to every whim of circumstance. Yet from the soulís point of view, change occurs against the backdrop of non-change; the basis of existence is eternal, unmoved, steady, and all encompassing.
How can you shift your attention away from change? I am largely unconvinced by people who say that they feel the real, immediate presence of God, Jesus, or their souls. Those are extremely advanced attainments on the spiritual path, certainly not among the first doors that open on the journey. But I do know that I can experience myself, so now my job is to find the part of myself that doesnít change. Clearly my mind changes all the time, as quickly as the next thought, and so does my body, as quickly as the next skin cell sloughing off or the next heartbeat. So the search for non-change must take me elsewhere.
This is where meditation proves most useful. When you meditate, you shift your focus. Instead of paying attention to the surface of the mind, which teems with constant change, you go deeper to experience silence. In and of itself, silence is pointless. Life is about action and response, not silent detachment. But inner silence is something far more profound: It is awareness being aware of itself, also known as wakefulness, or mindfulness.
In its silent depths, your mind knows everything thatís going on. Time collapses into a single focal point, where the one unshakable thing you know is ďI am.Ē This isnít passive knowledge. It is the center of everything, the source of all the activity that springs forth as thoughts, sensations, and external events. Silence, it turns out, is the womb of creation. Therefore, meditation is a creative event through which you are reclaiming authorship of your life.
Now we see what meditating 24 hours a day actually means: You retain your alertness and wakefulness all the time. Once you have authorship of your self, you come out of silence into activity to write your own story. Now there is no difference between sitting in meditation and living in the world. Both are expressions of awareness, the one silent, and the other active. Now you maintain two types of attention, one devoted to change, the other to non-change. This is the shift in consciousness that allows you to live from the level of the soul.
Adapted from Why is God Laughing? by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2008).