Search Our Site

Find an Author, Find a Book:

Chapter 1 : Flipping Your Life-From Flipped Out to Flipped In

The Strange Life of P.D.Ouspensky
Colin Wilson

Barry U., a troubled resident of the upside-down world, groans and hits the snooze button, hoping for ten more minutes of peace before beginning another dreaded day. After a quick shower while CNN blurts news of the latest bombings, celebrity scandals, government cuts, and corporate malfeasance, Barry slams back a cup of coffee. He prays the caffeine will kick in and change his mood. As he navigates rush-hour traffic, Barry's pulse quickens. He frets over his mounting debts--first and second mortgages, three credit cards near their limit, car payments, and a plethora of other "necessary" expenses. He turns on the radio to calm his anxiety, only to find his mobile inner sanctum invaded by news, sports, weather, stocks, and shock-jocks.

At work, sixty-three emails and seventeen voice mails await. He desperately wants to escape to the Caribbean, if just for a long weekend. Barry deserves a vacation but is so afraid of being downsized or outsourced--despite being "Employee of the Year" last year--that he doesn't dare take a much-needed respite. He'll soldier on, valiantly trying to make sense of his chaotic circumstances.

Sound familiar? Perhaps you know someone like that. We do--lots of them. People in our day and age are flipped out! Flipped out about job security, social security, and homeland security. They watch the news about flipped-out people doing flipped-out things sponsored by companies selling products and pills to calm and protect them from further flipping out. It's a crowded place, this upside-down world.

A Millennium of Contradiction

Life at the dawn of the new millennium is filled with contradictions and distractions. Our lives are measured by possessions and productivity, by quantity rather than quality. We tell ourselves we have to work harder, faster, longer. We are tethered to our jobs, willfully enslaved by technology--cell phones, pagers, PDAs, email, the Internet, text messaging--so that even when we are out of the office, we never escape the pressure of business. Our predicament is like the popular parable of the circus elephant. At a young, age the elephant's leg is tied to a stake, forcing it walk round in a circle, entraining it. As a large, formidable adult it could easily pull the stake and run free, but it does not, having been programmed to walk in a circle. And so it is for people and their belief that they cannot be far from the responsibilities of their job. For many, work defines our identity and sets us on a dangerous path of frenetic pace, exaggerated self-importance, and perpetual crisis invention.

Have we fallen victim to the insatiable call of consumerism, which brings on debt, which brings on the need to earn more money, which forces us into servitude in jobs that greedily demand more and more of our time? Are we caught in a vicious cycle of our making?

It's a competitive world, to be sure. But does it have to be?

Try this. Close your eyes and ask yourself what the three most important things are in your life. Just three. C'mon, close your eyes. Don't think about it too long; just quickly name three things. Now look at the list and place a checkmark by the items you named.

o Money o Family

o Car o Friends

o Job o Love

o Status o Home

o Fashion o Nature

o Fame o Music

o Clothes o God/Higher Power

o Food o Health

o Sex o Intimacy

On which side do your checkmarks predominate? If the three things you named are not on the example above, on which side of the grid do you honestly feel they belong? The left side represents material or ego-related needs, the right side a set of ideas and experiences related to spirituality. You can probably guess which one is upside-down and which is Right-Side Up. How did you do?

Now ask yourself how balanced your lifestyle is, especially in relation to the things you say are the most important to you. A simple calculation of where you spend your free time will tell you where your life is compared to where you want it to be--in which world are you standing. Here goes:

24 hours in a day

- 9 hours working, including the optional luxury of a one-hour lunch

- 1 hour of drive time to and from work

- 8 hours sleeping

= 6 hours remaining in your waking hours

How do you spend those precious six hours? In front of the TV? Drinking in a bar? Shopping? Catching up on paperwork from the office? Having a nutritious, pleasant dinner with loved ones? Taking a walk? Reading a book? Volunteering for a worthwhile social cause? The answers are important because they represent the decisions you?ve made that have led to your happiness or hollowness.

Make no mistake, these are your choices--no one else's.

Another way to determine on which side you're living is to consider the things that preoccupy your mind. Are you thinking about the mortgage? Are you fretting over the bills? Worried about whether your boss will approve of your work on the project of the moment? Or are you thinking about bringing flowers to your partner? Perhaps calling a friend to express how much he or she means to you? Planning to join a yoga class with your mother?

The level of general agitation or stress you feel is an excellent compass for what direction your life is heading, or in which world you currently reside. Is it Right-Side Up or upside-down?

Making the Flip

Mary R. is a contented citizen of the Right-Side Up world. She awakens invigorated and opens her window for a deep breath of fresh air. She admires the flowers in her garden as she listens to the birds chirp in nearby maples. She puts on a kettle for a relaxing cup of organic green tea and reads a passage from a favorite book. After a leisurely shower she meditates for half an hour. Dressing for work, Mary looks forward to meeting new people and discovering unexpected opportunities. She knows there will be problems to challenge her, but she also knows that whatever situation arises she will ably deal with it. She is confident, happy, and fulfilled.

Sound far-fetched?

Hardly. Mary is one of millions of actual people who have made the flip to the Right-Side Up world. They have come to terms with the daily requirements of living in these times and have developed individual methods of nurturing themselves. They have mastered being mindful in a hustle-bustle age. Mary and other Flipsters have each created a personalized plan that enables them to feel whole in the fragmented upside-down world. To the millions who have already flipped, that other polarized, divided world is simply a crazy memory of an antiquated age.

Flipsters have recognized their responsibility for happiness. The TVs and radios have been turned off. The consumption of mindless mass media has been reduced or eliminated. They read books. They take walks. They are open to yoga, pottery, meditation, energy healing or a dozen other interests. They are active in that which serves their well-being and that of society. They contribute to good causes. They pitch in when needed. They practice the faith of their preference, or none at all. The Flipsters are the embodiment of mastering duality in recognition of our Oneness.

Does this mean Flipsters don't have problems? Of course not. Hello . . . we are living on planet Earth after all. No one is immune to life's dramas. But those who have made the flip are ready for what life deals them. They know that the duality of existence will present continual challenges and opportunities.

Operating under the Influence

Since this chapter is about flipping your life, we need to delve deeper into the influences--both conscious and subconscious--that affect us. It is important to recognize that we don't all respond exactly the same to similar stimuli. One may love vanilla ice cream while another may have an allergic reaction to it. Each of us has individual needs, wants, and desires. But there are overarching societal forces that exert powerful influences over most of us, many causing serious detriment to ourselves and the planet. These influences affect the way we think and the way we feel--both topics we will address in chapters 2 and 3, respectively.

What we take into our mind and body virtually controls all aspects of our lives and our happiness. We ingest massive doses of negative daily news and watch show upon show (the average American watches eight hours of TV per day) of "programming" that promotes the darker sides of our nature. We further corrupt our lifestyles with processed foods full of chemical preservatives and additives meant to ensure a longer shelf life, but definitely not a longer human life. Then, feeling bad, we trudge to the doctor for this pill or that injection, not to cure, but to mask the symptoms we are feeling. You can see where this is going, can't you?

The homes, cars, places of work, and industries of America selfishly consume 40 percent of the world's energy, using sources that pollute our air, land, and water--further adversely affecting our health. To secure our energy needs we wage war. Most wars are fought for economic reasons, and the dominant driver of contemporary economies is energy in the form of oil.

Yes, we need a strong defense to protect us from hostile countries, but we have recently crossed the Rubicon and begun launching preemptive wars on the flimsiest of excuses. Lest you think we are unpatriotic, we are not. We love our country. But we also love the Earth and care about all its people. And there is strong evidence dating back at least a hundred years to support the notion that our leaders take us into war for profit and power. This information will be discussed in chapter 10, "Flipping the Trigger: From Tribal Warfare to Global Tribe."

To change the unfortunate "profit over people" priority, corporations must be accountable and responsible for their impact not only economically, but socially and environmentally as well. The movement is already substantially underway in many business sectors, with only a handful of industries dominated by the world?s largest corporations resisting the flip.

Sadly, in our upside-down world, children can name more corporate logos than indigenous trees. Thirty years ago this was not the case. But there is hope. And progress. And momentum. Even as the Earth heats up and the threat of human extinction hangs over us like the sword of Damocles, there is another kind of global warming?that of the human heart. We are living at a time in history when the evolutionary shift is rapidly taking all of us from the materialistic, mechanistic age to one of mindful awareness and enlightenment.

To hasten this we must change our relationship with money. Not that money in and of itself is bad, but it should not and cannot be the primary motivator of our decisions. Chapters 8 and 9 discuss how we can flip our approach to both money and business?in a positive, healthy manner.

And finally, in chapter 11 we return full circle to the inner beliefs we hold in the form of religion and spirituality?to the core essence of our faith and how a true understanding of the realities and illusions of belief can lead us to contentment and fulfillment.

Sounds like a lot to cover, doesn?t it? Well, we?re up for it. We?ve been preparing for this our entire lives?as have you. Plus, we have millions of Flipsters already living in the Right-Side Up world, leading the way by example.

Equal Opportunity Flipsters

Becoming a Flipster, participating in one of the greatest shifts in consciousness in humankind, does not require credentials. No shoes, no shirt--no problem. It doesn't matter whether you are a suburban housewife in Denver, a bachelor in New York City, an heiress in Beverly Hills, or a father of five in Topeka?the flip is waiting for you to embrace it.

Political affiliations are meaningless. Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans, atheists, human secularists, and every kind of believer (or nonbeliever) in between can participate. The flip doesn?t care if you graduated Summa Cum Laude, got your GED, or dropped out of high school. Race and gender are immaterial. Nationality is moot.

It matters little if you are an unemployed steel worker, a corporate executive, a sales rep, or a social worker. The flip doesn't take Visa, MasterCard, or American Express. All are welcome to the flip.

There is only one prerequisite--the desire to better yourself and society. That's it! Ah, you say, there must be a catch. Well, yes, there is. Beyond the desire to change--to become a full-fledged Flipster--you must do the work yourself. No one else can live your life. No one else can make your decisions for you. Living in the Right-Side Up world requires being responsible for your actions?all of them. It demands inner work and requires letting go of the need to blame others for your circumstances. The flip may lead to bold actions and even to temporary chaos.

Seems challenging, we know. It is even harder work than it sounds. There is an infinite array of temptations, influences, and distractions to keep you living in the upside-down world. But if you can break free and make the flip, the reward is worth it.

Meet the Flipsters-Conversations on the Bridge

We realize that we may have painted an impossible ideal in the eyes of many. Some of you are highly skeptical, jaded even--and ready to heave this book into the trash. Before you rush to judgment, we ask that you listen to some prominent thought leaders, experts on the human mind and the impending flip that is coming at us whether we want it or not.

Between the upside-down world and the Right-Side Up one is the bridge of choice, where people can choose between two ways of living. To help you further understand and integrate the flip, we will meet a variety of leaders who have dedicated their life's work to helping people shift their consciousness and awaken to an enriching and undeniably flipped life. These people on the bridge are true agents of change already engaging in the dynamic, vibrant world of possibility.

First up is Dr. Paul Ray, one of the world's leading authorities on social and cultural trends, who discusses the differences between the fundamentalist and modern movements and how they affect the flip to the next stage of our conscious evolution. Byron Katie, author ofLoving What Is, gives her view of the flip and how anyone can flip any situation just by changing the way one looks at it. Yolanda King, founder and CEO of Higher Ground and daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr., shows how each of us has our own unique light to shine. We close this important chapter with the inspiring insight and words of wisdom from New York Times best-selling author Barbara De Angelis, who discusses how we can find our authentic selves and create lives of happiness and fulfillment.

In the interest of brevity we edited down the "conversations" with the Flipsters. For the complete interviews, and to read interviews of additional Flipsters not in this book, please visit our website at www.theflip.net.

Okay, here we go . . .

A Conversation on the Bridge with Dr. Paul Ray

Paul Ray, Ph.D. (www.culturalcreatives.org), is coauthor with his wife, Sherry Ruth Anderson, Ph.D., of the best-selling book Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World. Paul has surveyed and classified more than 100,000 Americans in the past thirteen years, showing how the subcultures of values permeate all aspects of American life. During the time of the research reported in the book, he was executive vice president of American LIVES, Inc., a market-research and opinion-polling firm specializing in surveys and focus groups based on American lifestyles, interests, values, expectations, and symbols. The research projects that led to the discovery of the "Cultural Creatives" include studies of the effects of values on consumer choices and the preferences of Americans for housing, cars, food, recreation, vacation travel, finances, health, political causes (e.g., environment), media use, and altruism. He also leads studies of innovation by consumers and business.

We first asked Paul how a modern person, accustomed to luxuries and conveniences unparalleled in human history, might become aware of how his or her affluent lifestyle deleteriously affects the welfare of the planet as a whole. "Part of what I'm impressed with as a macrosociologist is the persistence of the past to affect people through unconsciousness and habit," Paul comments. "People believe that things should be just as they were when they grew up as a kid. To a lot of people, tradition is nothing more complicated than 'whatever is comfortable for me.' The persistence of habit goes with unconsciousness. So the beginning of change is coming to a conscious awareness that our backs are against a wall as a species, that we really have to make fundamental change to assure the survival of ourselves and our children."

But what can flip people out of their habitual denial and resistance to change? "Just pushing or rebelling against what?s happening is only the first step out of unconsciousness," Paul observes. "The moment you start turning your attention toward a more embracing, higher kind of consciousness, and asking how we could create what I call a wisdom culture, then you're taking the next step toward a new level of development."

"Modernism is an evolutionary plateau in the same way that agricultural society was a plateau above hunting and gathering. Modernism is a level above agrarian societies in terms of complexity, sophistication, cultural knowledge, and so on. But modernism has never faced up to the idea that we can consciously invent a better world together."

That idea, Paul asserts, is the underlying motivation of the growing segment of society that he has identified as Cultural Creatives. "These are people--50 million American adults and 80 million European adults--who take the idea of ecology very seriously, and they support slowing business growth in order to save the planet. They also take very seriously women's issues and issues of personal growth and relationships. We found that the typical Cultural Creative cares intensely about the issues raised by post-World War II social movements. These movements include those focused on civil rights, the environment, women's rights, peace, jobs, social justice, gay and lesbian rights, alternative health care, spirituality, personal growth, and now, of course, stopping corporate globalization. All of those concerns are now converging into a strong concern for the whole planet."

What distinguishes the thinking of a Cultural Creative? "Holistic thinking; that is, thinking in longer time horizons than the next quarter's profits, the next election cycle, or even one's own life span. This means that Cultural Creatives are motivated by concern for all the people of the planet and all the living systems of the planet. The idea of living systems is new to modernism because that perspective looks at how nonliving things are put together or taken apart, which is fundamentally a nineteenth-century idea. This idea is obsolete in every part of contemporary science and technology . . ."

"One of the things that dogs our culture now is that we're living in a time when a lot of institutions are starting to fall apart. The falling-apart process has both dangers and opportunities. Modernism falling apart is what will leave enough open space to go to the next level of cultural integration."

But isn't a time of falling apart also a time of chaos and anarchy? Paul Ray is optimistic. "Rather than seeing this as a time of great fear and potential tragedy, we can see it as our chance to rise above our old ways to become our best selves. If you were to take a 10,000-year perspective on humanity, we've come to the high point of our drama. Artistically, it's a cliffhanger! It's exciting and appealing--the chance to start building and living in the world you want."

A Conversation on the Bridge with Byron Katie

Byron Katie (www.thework.com) became severely depressed while in her thirties. Over a ten-year period her depression deepened, and Katie spent almost two years seldom able to leave her bed, obsessing over suicide. Then one morning, from the depths of despair, she experienced a life-changing realization that her illness was based upon her perception. This epiphany flipped her life.

TIME magazine has profiled Katie, calling her "a visionary for the new millennium." In March 2002, Harmony Books published Katie's first book, Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life, cowritten with renowned author/translator Stephen Mitchell. Loving What Is has been translated into twenty languages. Her second book, I Need Your Love-Is That True, was also a best-seller.

"I was depressed for more than a decade," Katie confesses, "and if I look back on it, probably forty years. My self-esteem was so low that I didn't believe I even deserved a bed to sleep in. So I slept on the floor. One particular morning as I lay on the floor asleep, a cockroach crawled over my foot. I opened my eyes and in place of all that darkness, rage, and confusion I'd known was a joy that I can't describe. What I suddenly understood was this: When I believe my thoughts I suffer, but when I question my thoughts I don't suffer. I've come to see that this is true for every human being."

"In that moment, I simply noticed the nature of my thoughts when I no longer believed them. That is a moment of truth--or a moment of clarity, as I call it. And I think we all have them. We all have these moments when we're lucid. We begin to see that the whole world is created through our thoughts, and when we believe our thoughts we literally project them on our material world. Once we begin to question our stressful thoughts, we?re on the way to heaven--happiness, that is. Isn?t that what everything is for? We want health, balance, and happiness."

Then why is there so much unhappiness in many people's everyday experience? Katie suggests it has less to do with unhappy circumstances than habitual thought patterns. "Suffering is simply believing whatever we think. The mind is prone to think 'life isn't fair' and then not to question that assumption. It immediately begins to only see in tunnel vision, to only see and bring to mind all the proofs, pictures, thoughts, stories--all the other evidence that supports the first assumption: Life is unfair. But by that point, you may not be seeing what?s real at all. I use the example of walking through the desert and seeing a snake. You jump back, your heart is racing and you break out into a sweat before you look again and notice there is no snake, just an old rope. How could you have been so silly? Immediately, the fear subsides and the laughter starts. That"s an example of what questioning the mind does."

"For me, problems are no longer possible because I see through them. I invite people to understand that every snake is a rope, not just some of them. There's no exception to that in my life, so I'm open to whatever happens next. For all I know, all hell could break loose. I look forward to it."

We asked Ms. Katie what the average person can do when confronted with their own "snakes." Her process, which she calls The Work, is simple enough. "We need to question what we believe. There are four questions you can ask yourself to investigate a stressful belief. When we think a thought, what should immediately arise along with that thought is the question Is it true? The second question is a more thorough version of that: Can I absolutely know that it's true? The third question shows cause and effect: How do I react when I believe that thought? And the fourth question brings us back to our origin: Who would I be without that thought? And then I ask people to turn the thought around. The turnaround is a way of experiencing the opposite of what you believe and seeing that it is at least as true. You'll find these four questions and the turnaround thought quite powerful in changing your perceptions."

A Conversation on the Bridge with Yolanda King

Yolanda King (www.yolanda-king.com), founder and CEO of Higher Ground Productions, is an amazing and dynamic voice among twenty-first-century speakers. The first-born daughter of Coretta Scott King and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Yolanda has a mission to encourage personal growth and positive social change through her artistic endeavors, including acting, producing, speaking, and teaching. It is Ms. King's passion for peace and positive change that prompted her vision for founding Higher Ground Productions, an organization dedicated to teaching people to celebrate diversity and embrace unity through the arts.

With her father being one of the major lights of modern civilization, one naturally wonders if Yolanda feels an obligation to extend his legacy. "I have felt a calling for as long as I can remember," she affirms. "When you grow up in an environment where there is a commitment to service, to making a difference and helping others--a commitment that is not only just talked about, but is actually lived in front of you--it naturally takes root in your life. I see it in all my siblings, not just me. We had the opportunity to see that commitment lived so purely and so passionately, both in my father and mother."

"They say the best sermons are the ones that are lived. My father not only talked the talk, and did a really great job of that, he also walked the talk and so did my grandparents, on both sides. So there was this ancestral energy that resulted in my feeling a very strong responsibility. So I've spent a great deal of my life trying to carve out a place for myself in this awesome legacy and make a difference on my own."

Since no one can simply imitate the legacy of their famous forebears, how did Yolanda find her own special means of contributing? "I took the long road to get to where I am," Yolanda reveals. "Interestingly enough, I'm working on a book now that's called Embracing Your Power in Thirty Days. But it took me almost thirty years to get there! I'm showing people a process that will minimize their wandering around in the wilderness like I did."

"I've wanted to be an actress since I was eight. That was the first burning desire in my spirit, to perform. And I started doing theater at a very young age. But I got sidetracked because I thought that it was not significant enough. I thought it was a very self-centered profession and I could not see how I could make a difference that way. So I tried to do other things, even though I was acting at the same time. I had a theater company and we ran around the country doing work that was touching the lives of young people. But because I was trying to figure out a way to combine this huge calling to make a difference with this passion to perform, I did a lot of other things trying to find myself. At one time I had three full-time jobs--which is impossible!"

"The point is that it took me a while to realize that I could do both--that I could utilize my art and my gift, and that I could use that gift to uplift and to edutain, as I call it--blend education and entertainment. I realized that I could be true to this calling. And my gracious, what peace I have had since I've been able to reconcile that within my spirit!"

Yolanda's experience made us wonder which comes first: a personal or social inspiration? "It's really a blending," she says. "I feel strongly that you can't stand up for anything else unless you have learned to stand up for yourself in an honest, authentic way. If you're not true to yourself, if you're not clear about who you are and what your purpose is and what your unique gift is to the planet, then there's only so much that you're going to be able to give to the world. So I try to help people understand that they have a light, that they are significant, that they are a part of this incredible whole. Each and every last one of us has something very special and unique that we bring to the rest of us. It is from that impetus that people begin to look at what's happening in their home, in their workplace, their community, and what's happening on this planet. I believe if you are clear about who you are, you can be a wonderful light for the world. Everywhere you go, that sense of clarity, that sense of conviction, reverberates.

"On the other hand, I think it's pretty difficult to be a true light on this planet and not be engaged in service in some way. Once you have awakened to what your own potential is, I can't imagine that you would not want to share that. It doesn't have to be in the way of conventional activism, like marching and petitioning, even though those methods are incredibly important. Activism can look very different for everyone, but there is no way that you can be in that place of change in your own life and not want to effect change in other places.

"Now, there are those, of course, who are on the high spiritual path, that go to caves and into monasteries, and that's what they do and that's fine. But I can't imagine it. That's not the tradition that I come from. I come from a tradition that's spiritual and visionary, but deeply activist."

What is Yolanda's dream for the evolution of humanity? "My dream would be the worldwide realization that each and every one of us is one. We are so vitally connected that we are like pieces of an incredible puzzle. We are all together, breathing this one breath. My dream is that once we realize that, we would understand that if I hurt or harm you, I'm destroying a piece of myself. I can't do that because it would be like cutting myself off at the knees or tearing out my heart! When we realize that, and I believe that we will, there will be peace. That would be my dream for the evolution of humanity--universal recognition of our oneness."

A Conversation on the Bridge with Dr. Barbara De Angelis

Barbara De Angelis, Ph.D. (www.barbaradeangelis.com), is one of the most influential teachers of our time in the field of relationships and personal growth. For the past twenty-five years, she has reached tens of millions of people throughout the world with her positive messages about love, happiness, and the search for meaning in our lives. As a best-selling author, popular television personality, and sought-after motivational speaker, Barbara has been a pioneer in the field of personal transformation, one of the first people to popularize the idea of self-help in the 1980s, and one of the first nationally recognized female motivational teachers on television.

Barbara is the author of fourteen best-selling books which have sold more than eight million copies and been published throughout the world in twenty languages. Her latest book is How Did I Get Here? Finding Your Way to Renewed Hope and Happiness When Life and Love Take Unexpected Turns. We asked Barbara about how taking stock of one's place in life can contribute to a flip of perspective. "Asking the question How did I get here? can be an amazing moment of awakening because most people don't have the courage to ask such questions. As I wrote in the new book, "As travelers on life's paths, we are defined by both the questions we ask ourselves and by the ones we avoid asking." A lot of people spend their life running from questions, and I have spent my life running toward questions. I invite people to ask the kinds of questions that help them awaken and live more conscious lives. Times of deep questioning are not times of weakness or falling apart, but periods of tremendous transformation. You do have to let go of the ego in a sense, and be willing to allow the unraveling of yourself, your beliefs, and your expectations in order to truly flip and make a breakthrough. You can't fly when you're still on the ground. You can't move while you stand still. It can be frightening when you're flailing around and there's nothing to hold onto. That's a very powerful moment of breakthrough. But it requires a sense of truly letting go and trusting that there will be something on the other side of your leap."

In figuring out "how we got here," do we run the risk of becoming absorbed with the past? "Understanding where we came from, what decisions we've made, and how we've limited ourselves is essential for moving forward," says Barbara. "Otherwise we may tell ourselves that we're in the present, but we'll have a trail of ghosts following us. Every time I do a session with someone, I see their ghosts hovering: the ghosts of their former relationships, of their family, their parents, and so on. Until we understand those influences and become free of them, saying 'I'm living in the moment' doesn't mean anything. In the moment doesn?t mean anything unless you?re in each moment without being in reaction to the moment before, and the moment before, and the moment before. I call that emotional freedom, which means being free of the influences of the past. The more of that freedom we have, the less fear of the future we will have."

"After all, the universe sometimes takes us by surprise. Most people refuse to grow until they are forced to grow. You can choose to grow or you can be forced to grow. Most people on the planet tend to be forced to grow and even then are often resistant because of their fear. And fear makes us inauthentic, not our real selves. There's nothing more exhausting than living without authenticity. People do not realize how much energy it takes to not be who we are. It's unbelievable how draining it is to talk, to act, to love, to be a way that is not authentically you."

"On the other hand, nothing is more exciting than to start to live authentically. You'll feel an enormous power surging through you; again, that's emotional freedom. It's as if we've just had this power turned back on after an outage. As hard as it is to do this, the reward is fantastic. Everything is flowing; you're not blocking the flow of shakti or whatever you want to call it. Most people are walking around cut off from that because they're afraid of the consequences, yet in a sense it's no one's fault because we live in a society where authenticity is not rewarded. What's rewarded is conformity and fitting into an image. As a culture we mistrust things that are too different. So it takes a lot of courage to be authentic in a world where people really value fitting in."

We wondered if it takes a lot of "self-love" to have the courage to flip and become more authentic in everyday life. Barbara got right to the point: "The truth is, everything we do is out of self-love. And I'm always telling people that it's an illusion that we do not love ourselves. Everything we do is ultimately out of self-love and self-preservation; it's impossible for it to be otherwise. Let's say a person has a pattern of choosing unloving partners. We'll tend to think, "If she loved herself, she would choose better partners. But what she's actually trying to do is heal a pattern, probably rooted in childhood, of trying to get someone's love, feeling that she must work very hard to earn people's love. And there is love that is behind her choice. She is telling herself, "Let me do it right. Let me go back to when I was six and this time I'm going to get Daddy's love, I just know I am." So it's not lack of love that's making her do that, it's just a misunderstanding of the best way to share and realize love. It's the same thing with people who think they need to become more powerful. In fact, we're all equally powerful. It's just that some of us use our power to hold ourselves back, and others to propel ourselves forward. We all have the same manifestation of shakti, chi, and divine energy. We all are love. It's just that some of us are using our love in some very twisted, convoluted ways."

"It's a great revelation for people when they understand that they hold themselves back not from a lack of self-love, but because they are used to protecting themselves instead of taking chances. Either way, love is the motivation. You can use the same love that keeps you in place, protected from taking chances, to be courageous and become more authentic."

That is a powerful personal flip.

Life, Love, Laughter

As you can see from these conversations, the flip is happening on societal and individual levels. It happens when you are personally ready; it?s a matter of whether you wish to live in pain and frustration in the upside-down world, or prefer to take a chance by making the flip to the Right-Side Up world. But as Barbara De Angelis pointed out, it takes more work to suffer through an inauthentic existence than it does to become who you truly are.

So who are you? Only you can discover that. But it should be a labor of love. The rewards of living an authentic life cannot be measured: unconditional love, joyous laughter, lifelong friendships, golden moments of grace and wonder.

By contrast, living in the upside down-world is taxing. It's a toxic mash of misinformation and mayhem, a stew of contradiction and chaos. It is a daily challenge to know who and what to believe. But fortunately that world is falling apart. Millions of people have embraced the flip in their lives. You can too. You don't have to be famous, wealthy, or some kind of genius. You only have to be aware. There isn't one right way or a bunch of wrong roads. Every soul on this planet has the opportunity to flip, indeed is given the signs pointing to one's own need to flip along with clues to what needs flipping. The answers are as individualized as the person. For some, the change may arrive in a flash of life-changing insight; for others there is a cumulative process of unfolding discoveries. One person may realize the need to change upon receiving bad news from the doctor; for another, it may come in the form of a severed relationship; someone else may evolve from an inquisitive curiosity that invites perpetual growth. Though we are all enlightened beings, we are not on the same path. We may live through similar experiences, but we experience their meanings uniquely. It was once said that ?there are as many ways to love as there are moments in time,? and we think there are as many ways to flip as well. Finding your moment is a matter of your awareness and desire.

Not content to simply describe the flip in general life terms, we shall press on to new chapters which will discuss particular areas of our lives and specific causes, patterns, and decisions that have caused our world to be upside down--and we'll discuss what you can do about it. We close with Mahatma Gandhi's Seven Blunders of the World, which may be used as an indicator of which way our world is turned today.

1. Wealth without work

2. Pleasure without conscience

3. Knowledge without character

4. Commerce without morality

5. Science without humanity

6. Worship without sacrifice

7. Politics without principle

Take a few moments to ask yourself what needs to be flipped in your life. Don't intellectualize your feelings. Listen closely to your heart. When you're ready, we?ll meet you in chapter 2.

Flip Tips

Here are a few easy-to-implement suggestions
for beginning your flip:

  • Call a good friend and express gratitude or appreciation for their friendship.


  • Take a walk (without your iPod or Walkman).


  • Be cognizant and appreciative of the resources you use--water, food, fuel.


  • Be mindful about your intake of electronic media--TV, radio, Web.


  • Sing out loud-even if you can't hold a note.


  • Shake up your routine by doing something completely out of character.


  • Spend an entire day in silence.


  • Resist the temptation to judge, blame, or criticize.


  • Before speaking always ask yourself: Is what I'm about to say true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?


  • Do something kind for someone you don't know.

Back to The Strange Life of P.D.Ouspensky