The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success
Deepak Chopra

(By way of intro: As this post goes up today, I am just returning from a week at Breitenbush Hot Springs in Oregon. Two things I’m not especially keen on – visiting the U.S. and hippy retreat centres – but I’ve gone, relaxed, laid in the hot springs, and generally blissed out on a week doing nothing but loving my girl and spending some time in quiet contemplation. And, yes, I admit it – I absolutely fell in love with Breitenbush. In honor of the new-age-ness, then, today’s offering – Deepak Chopra’s little manual to the good life, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.)

I normally try to write pretty objective little posts on the books here, and even when I make clear my own view I do at least try to be fair. Confession – I am not even trying in this case. For a balanced view, you’ll need to look somewhere else.

Chopra is the guru of gurus as far as the new-age, pseudo-eastern version of prosperity religions goes. He’s a master at taking bits and pieces of important spiritual traditions and re-framing them as life lessons for success and happiness in the hyper-individualism of western capitalism. And The Seven Spiritual Laws…is his handy guidebook to the question: How can I [and yes, it’s an “I” not a “we”] make self-interest and self-awareness mean the same thing?

1. Judge nothing, just ‘be’. Take in the world, but don’t let it get to you.

2. Give and you shall receive. OK, pretty standard, and never a bad thing to encourage a little generosity of spirit.

3. A little insight from physics – every action has an equal and opposite reaction. You put out fear, you’ll be afraid. You put out anger, you’ll get it back. You put out kindness, you’ll get kindness.

4. If it is, it is as it should be. Don’t fight the man, don’t get all upset cause things seem pretty screwed up out there. What is is, and you can’t change it, so just let it all be, and be content.

5. The power of the universe is yours for the asking. If you want something, believe in it, focus your good energy on it, and it’ll all come to you. (And, by extension, if something is wrong it’s probably your own damn fault.)

6. Detach from the world. Let it all flow by. Don’t try to change nothing, fix nothing, do nothing, cause the universe is what it is and all you’ll get for your efforts is a whole lot of stress and a whole lot of disappointment.

7. You’re special, you’re lovely, you’re amazing. Believe this about yourself.

There you go. No need to read this book, cause it’s all here. Be nice. Accept the world as it is. Be happy with what you’ve got and know that it is all meant to be. You’re a millionaire? God wants it so. You’re broke? God wants it so – or you’re not sending enough good-intention vibes out into the world. Bombs getting dropped on people across the world? It is what it is, you can’t fight it, let it go. This is spirituality from a box, spirituality that is consistent with any morality because it has no core morality, spirituality that asks nothing of you but to say you believe it.

If it’s not abundantly clear yet, I am no fan of this kind of thing. Read the Bhagavad Gita, the Koran, whatever other sources of spiritual wisdom you can find. Don’t bother with this guy. However, lots of people do read it. Lots of people like it, lots of people buy it. Sad as that may be to me, this is influential stuff that gave the west the chance to say, “look at us, we’re all spiritual and exotic, too!” without having to actually learn anything, actually challenge anything, actually build any kind of meaningful spiritual community or spiritual practice. I never said everything on this list was a good book.