Image for The Gathering Pod A Martha Beck Podcast Episode #103 Cooperating With Your Destiny
About this episode

Have you ever felt drawn toward doing something that doesn’t quite make sense? Does it feel warm and exciting for no apparent reason? Pay attention. And listen to this week’s Gathering Room! (Originally aired: November 06, 2022)


Martha Beck: Okay, it’s a little technical this week, so I got to go through it a little bit for you, but it’s worth it. Stay with me. Okay. I believe that everything is made of consciousness. Nobody knows what consciousness is, but we know it exists because we have it, right? And Descartes who said, “I think therefore I am,” did not actually just say that. He said, “I doubt, therefore, I think therefore I am.” I don’t know what’s going on, so I must be here because there’s something here to not know what’s going on. Now, here’s the part where I usually say I’m not going down the new age path. I really, really mean this. I’m going to explain the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, and the two-slit experiment, which Richard Feynman called the most elegant experiment in all of physics, but I’m not going to do that. I’m going to cut straight to the point because I keep saying that. Trust me, go look it up. It’s true.

All the things we see as objects are in actuality clouds of energy in an indeterminate state, which can intermingle with each other, unless they’re observed by consciousness and measured, at which point the probabilities of that cloud of particles collapse into a point and the thing becomes a solid piece of matter. Go watch What the Bleep Do We know!?, or whatever. But no, read about the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. It will convince you more than a movie. It’s good.

Anyway, now we’re going to another thing. It’s an old Zen story, where there are two monks and they’re watching a flag blowing in the wind. One monk says to the other monk, “What is moving?” And he says, “It’s the flag. The flag is moving.” And the other one says, “No, it’s not. It’s the wind moving.” And then, the Zen master goes by and he says, “You’re both wrong. Consciousness is moving.” What he’s saying there, I’m going to unpack it what I think he means. I’m pretty sure. When you relax part of your brain, the part that is focusing on the world as matter, when you relax that enough in meditation, for example, you can go into a brain state, and we now know how it’s measured when you start to see the world as intermingling clouds of energy.

My friend, Jill Bolte Taylor, saw this way when she had her left hemisphere stroke. She was not hallucinating. She was seeing through a different perceptual lens. And in that perceptual lens, she was a ball of energy, continuous and as large as the whole universe. Everything was connected and nothing was solid, and it was silent, and awe-inspiring, and beautiful, and wordless. From there, here’s the thing that was happening. The Zen monk was trying to say, I think, when you get into the state where you actually see both sides of reality, both the matter and the energy, what you realize is that the whole universe is sharing a consciousness. And your consciousness is, it’s singular in the sense that it belongs in your little body, but it’s also an energetic thing that is continuous with the whole universe.

When you drop into the consciousness of the whole universe, what happens is your sense of being in control of things drops away completely. But, your sense of the universe being able to consciously move things around for its own delight and joy, it’s self evident from that particular brain state, as the reality of an object is. I know this is, I told you, it was going to get a little technical right at the beginning. All of this just to say that I recently had an experience that made me feel that sense of “Oh, it’s not that the flag wants to move and it’s not that the wind wants to move the flag, it’s that consciousness wants all of this to happen, and so the wind and the flag move together, and consciousness has found a way to do it.” This comes up in our lives in a really concrete way.

I was talking last week about Suzanne Eder’s book, which everybody asked, “Where is it? Where is it?” It’s not out yet, but put it on your… I don’t know when it’s coming out either, but it’s called What You Want Wants You, and it’s by Suzanne Eder. She was talking about situations that are meant to come into your life are conscious entities, they’re part of consciousness, and they’re continuous with the consciousness you have now. So when you feel into the consciousness of all things, the things that are really meant to be yours are pulling you toward them, and you are also pushing toward them in a way. And it’s like one is the wind and one is the flag, but both are just representations of consciousness that wants to create this interesting phenomenon. And the outcome of it, because I believe the universe is benevolent beyond comprehension, the outcome of this is always wonderful. And if you can see through to the truth of things, it always ends up being a happy story, not a sad one.

I’ve been alert to that for the last week, and I was thinking about this in my, I was talking to someone who once went on looking for a partner. And she saw this guy and he looked interesting so she swiped right or whatever it is you’re supposed to do. Anyway, they went out on a date. And she was like, “I don’t want to be with that person, but I think I will introduce him to a friend of mine because I think they should be together.” Well, now those two people got married and have three children and are wonderful. And my friend was saying that was consciousness moving. It’s like consciousness wants the flag to move. So, consciousness says, “What could we do to move the flag? Okay, let’s use wind, or no, let’s get someone. It’s still day so let’s go get someone to wave the flag, or let’s get a bird to land on the flag and move it around,” or whatever.

Consciousness can use any of its ways of being to bring about an objective. And we always look for the miraculous, the crazy, astonishing things. But, everything that happens is like that, everything that happens is like that. The only thing that keeps us from seeing everything as miraculous and being able to feel these things coming toward us is the part of our mind that is stuck in particle consciousness and refuses to believe that there’s anything except little bodies knocking around, moving around until they die and we don’t even know why, but that always happens so everything’s a sad story. In that state of mind, you can’t really feel what the universe is doing, and that means you can’t feel your destiny. So, I realized that what you need to do to find your destiny is just relax into being part of the consciousness of the universe and see what pulls you toward it.

I’ll use another metaphor other than the flag. It’s like the universe is playing chess, and it wants to move a single piece, it wants to move a knight to a different square. It’s got to find something or someone who can move the knight to the right square. And sometimes there are many moves before what’s going on, but the sense of being moved is really, really interesting. And that’s where Suzanne Eder was going, and I’ve sort of been living there all week. And I thought of so many things where I cooperated with my destiny and that’s all I was doing. I had no plan to be a huge success or whatever. I just was feeling moved.

One of the biggest examples for me, I may have told you this before. I had just moved to Phoenix and just also decided I wanted to write. I was still trying to finish my PhD, but this thing came upon me. I heard an Indigo Girls’ song and there was a line in it that goes, “A life of pages waiting to be filled.” And I burst into tears because suddenly my life was a life of pages waiting to be filled, and I’d never thought that before. So, I started writing, I was still trying to finish my doctorate, still thought I’d be a professor. We moved to Phoenix, and I for one day became obsessed with wanting to write a screenplay. So, I was writing a novel, which turned into a memoir, which turned into a bestseller. Yay. I was writing my dissertation as well, but I had never thought of writing a screenplay. And then suddenly, it was just like, “Oh, I have to.” It was another thing like that when I heard “the life of pages waiting to be filled.”

I just burst into tears. I needed to do this. Okay, all right, I didn’t know anyone, went to a poetry reading that night, thinking I will meet some people who like writing and I’ll find some writers. And I went and I was much too shy to talk to anybody. But while I was there, someone said, “We’re starting a screenwriters group in Phoenix and we’re passing around a signup sheet.” And my whole body started to buzz. It was like, “Oh my God, this is what I’ve been waiting for. This is why I’ve been feeling this way.” I put my name on there and a few people put their names on it. I ended up going to the first meeting of this screenwriters group. Four people showed up. I had to drive like 45 minutes to get to it. And I mean, it was way across the valley of Phoenix, which is immense.

And it disbanded almost immediately. Everybody just, it was flat beer, nothing good was going to happen there. But, one of the other three people was a woman who was writing her first novel and screenplays who lived less than a mile from me, from the house where we had just moved, and became my first writer friend ever. And then, the urge to write a screenplay completely disappeared. So, here’s the thing. If you don’t follow those things because they feel too crazy, you’re not cooperating with your destiny. The universe will use anything it can to get the things to happen the way love wants them to happen. And we fight that often because we’re nervous, we’re scared, or we have a plan, we know how our lives are supposed to look and we just follow the plan.

I stopped doing that when I was 29 and decided not to lie for an entire calendar year. And since then I’ve been sort of lunging at the things that other people might think are a little odd. Getting into a lesbian relationship, then getting into another lesbian… Yeah, go listen to our Bewildered podcast. Rowan Mangan and I made that. And it’s about how we now have a relationship that’s like a three-legged stool, Karen, me, and Roe. Six years in, seven years in, I don’t know, and it still is bizarrely the most amazing situation I’ve ever experienced. Completely weird. I feel weird talking to you about it. Oh my gosh, I’ve actually lost a few friends over that one. It’s just too weird. It was too weird for me when it happened, but I am telling you, it was like getting hit by a train.

And that’s what happens when you start cooperating with your destiny. You start doing odd things because you feel poled, and then the pole becomes stronger because the universe is going, “Aha, this person is responding. I can use this to wave a lot of flags.” So, whatever flag needs to be waved, if this couple needs to meet but they’re both a little resistant to the energy, the universe will find a person who’s enough of a woo woo. The number one, go on, and number two, line these folks up because the energy feels right. And I can’t emphasize enough that this does not make you a prophet of God who can tell other people what to do because you feel it in your tummy. No. It’s only for you and you have to test it. And you have to be super awesomely honest about saying, “I feel that I’m meant to do this, but I could be wrong.”

All of my Wayfinder coaches out there know that that’s the first thing they learn to say. “Tell me where I’m wrong.” Because when you do that, when you approach with humility, you can test it and make sure that it’s not just your ego, because I’ve had plenty of things, people used to come up to me a lot actually and say, “I have seen that you will have your own TV show.” And I would be like, “Not feeling it.” I wanted it with my human head, not feeling it. Maybe what they were seeing is this. Because when I thought about doing a Facebook Live every week, I was like, “Oh yeah, oh yeah, I just want to show up with my pals, man.” And that’s the reason we’re sitting here today. It was like, “Yes, that is my destiny and it’s part of… I just cooperate. That’s all I have to do.” And you start to flow like water into new opportunities.

And also, remember that your destiny is spelled out in tiny, beautiful, beautiful things. Row, could you just email or text me the poem you just read from Mary? We just got a poem from a wonderful person. What’s her last name? Mary’s last name? Mary Walker in New Zealand. Hi darlings in New Zealand. She’s an incredible poet and she just sent this poem to Row, and I want to read it to you because it really speaks to how we’re meant to follow our destinies and cooperate with our destinies throughout life. Here it is. I’m going to read it to you. It goes like this. She says, “Long before the autumn rains, the settled dew greens the land’s grazed face, mother lifts our fevered head, offering one small spoon at a time. It is the air itself that saves us. Night’s cool cover a cloth on our burning face. We long for a downpour, forgetting we need only a little, often one teaspoon of mercy, one well-timed act of grace.” Thank you Mary Walker from New Zealand, one of the most beautiful poets I know.

That’s what it takes to cooperate with your destiny. You relax into what wants to be, and then you offer one small act of grace. And then, you savor the spoonful of water or medicine, or whatever it is. You say, “Oh my gosh.” This morning I got up and I looked, I thought, “I wish it would rain,” and I didn’t think it would be. I opened my curtains and it was drizzling, and I just stood in front of the window going, “Oh my God, it’s a miracle.” It’s actually raining. It rains all the time here in Pennsylvania. I don’t care. It blows my mind every single time. It’s consciousness creating everything on this huge blank screen of consciousness called now, now, now, now. And it’s a miracle that just keeps happening.

And when you feel it that way and then it starts to move you like the wind, like the flag, it’s a joy ride, you guys, you folks. It’s what we’re here for. It’s the game of consciousness. It’s the game of apparent form in this world that is really just energy, and it’ll fill you right up. Let’s go to some questions. Rose Brito says, “Do you see synchronicities as evidence that consciousness wants something to happen?” And she thanks us. Yay. Yeah, I absolutely do. As soon as you start saying, “I want to cooperate with my destiny,” you will start seeing boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. Row’s birthday is August 29. I’m not saying that to get presents, but she was sitting with somebody who was giving her advice on her social media stuff, and she opened her, was it Facebook or, what was it?

Anyway, one of the platforms. She had 8029 followers, 8029 downloads or something, and 829 followers. 8/29 is her birthdate. When your birthdate starts showing up all the time, that’s one of the ways that it happens for her, happens for me that way too. You’ll see whatever your birthdate is in numbers coming up a lot if you expect it, if you ask for it. That’s the other thing. I had another friend in Phoenix who was a writer who used to say to the universe, “Give me a sign that I’m on the right track or the wrong track, and don’t be subtle.” So yeah, it’s not always subtle. Sometimes, it’s crazy not subtle.

Laurie says, “How do I expand my capacity to cooperate with my destiny?” And I say to you, there’s a reason that story was about Zen monks. Relaxing the brain, and in particular, the left hemisphere of the brain, the left neocortex, to get even more specific, is a way to sort of open your perceptions to a wordless universe that is always connected. The right neocortex connects things, while the left neocortex tends to split them apart so we can understand them. If you can sit long enough to get completely wordless and you can relax the anxiety that also comes, as Jill always says, from the left side amygdala, if you can get really calm and allow your thinking to slow down and potentially stop, then you’re going to have longer and longer periods of seeing this self-evident quality of the universe as energy that is being determined and moved around by consciousness.

And once you can drop into that, it happens a lot more. So, meditate, meditate, meditate. Go to a good meditation class. I said this last week, there are more and more one-minute meditation apps and things, it takes more than a minute, sorry, but it’s really fun. Fun is the wrong word. It’s intense and so magical. It is. You want to be magic? Meditate. But seriously, meditate.

Okay. City Lotus says, “How can we tell if the thing pulling us forward is our destiny versus something our head wants? I have a hard time telling the difference.” Well, that’s why you always want to go with what you’re feeling because you’ll test it out, and a lot of times it’s like my screenwriting. It’s like, “I’m going to write screenplays.” “No, I’m not.” “I’m going to have my own TV show.” “No, but I will do a Facebook Live once a week.” What pulls you? Where’s the heat? Where is the heat?

I’ve got another loved-one who was raised to be really intellectual, an English professor, but loves rebuilding things, major things like cars and vans, and plumbing, and massive building things. And she wrote me and said, “I really want to flip a house. There’s this house I want to get and flip it, but is that stupid?” And I was like, “Dude, the very fact that it’s so anomalous for you, English professor wanting to redo the plumbing of an old house, is evidence to me that that’s where the heat is. You weren’t socialized to that. It’s pulling on you, not your socialization, not what you were trained to think.” That’s one good way. But, keep trying because you start to get very fine distinctions. “Okay, this, yes.” “Nope, not that way but this way.” You can get to teeny weeny little differences.

And in writing, it gets down to you try to go into a wordless state to create words, which is quite a magic trick in itself. And then, you write a set of words and it’s not going forward so you stop, and then you feel which words aren’t working. And it’s so interesting because, you guys know I love Byron Katie, the spiritual teacher. And when she’s looking for words to describe her experience, because she lives in that right side of the brain all the time, and she does this when she’s trying to think of a word. She moves the air with her hands a lot. And I see this when writers are trying to find the right word. And that’s a sign that the right hemisphere of the brain is trying to help because the body movement, the kinesthetic sense is coming from the right side. The right side is looking through the lexicon of the left hemisphere for the right word. And you can feel it. Click. Ooh.

I once met Mary Oliver, the poet, and I said to her, I got out my courage and I said, “How do you know… Each word in your poem is always so,” and I wanted to say so perfect, so accurate but I couldn’t, and I started doing that and she said, “You mean inevitable?” And I said, “Yes, that’s exactly what I was going to say. You knew that.” That feeling of it dropping into place is just perfect. It’s a thrill, it’s joyful. I’m sure that Mary Walker felt that when she wrote the poem I just read to you. City lotus… Okay, yeah. So if it’s your head, it’ll pole and then you’ll lose the heat. If it’s destiny, you’ll pole and the heat may redirect you, but it will keep getting hotter.

So if it goes cold, it’s like the game, you’re getting warmer, you’re getting colder. And the warmer feels like, whew, lots of synchronicities, lots of energy in your body, and excitement you can’t really explain. A lot of physical sensations of bliss and healing. It’s pretty good. Row and I were driving the other day home from New York, and we were talking about different ideas for projects and things we wanted to do. And we got on this one idea. And then, both of us had horrible headaches. Horrible, horrible headaches. And then, we thought through it again and switched the way we were thinking, and the headaches went away. And we were like, “Darn, that is really serious. There’s some steering going on in here.” You go toward the heat.

Tracy says, “Is that why we have the same lesson over and over again until we learn and grow?” Yeah, some people think that your personality or your soul, or whatever, comes into this particular life to learn certain lessons and it will repeat the same lessons until it gets them. An example from one of Brian Weiss’s books, he’s a brilliant psychiatrist, very successful, who had a patient who started remembering multiple lives and they were verifiable. And he had to basically throw away all his professional credit by believing her. And since then, he’s written a lot of books that are, I mean, he’s a serious scientist and this stuff just happened to him. He talks about people who, like one patient said that she was in a former life, she remembered being very antisemitic. In the next life, she was born Jewish so she could learn to be antisemitic, but then she became very anti-Arab because she was still focusing antagonism at different people. It was bigotry she was trying to overcome.

She kept living different lives in order to get the message that people are all vehicles of divine consciousness, divine energy, and all good in our hearts and all worthy of infinite love. And it took her several lifetimes apparently to get that. It will happen over and over and over again in the same lifetime. And it’s so interesting when you ask people, and I’ve asked this as a coach. I’ve said, “Well, what do you think the lesson here is?” I knew someone who kept borrowing money over and over, and over, and over, and he kept losing the money and then he’d be stuck not able to pay people back. And it was really nightmares. And I said, “So, what do you think the lesson for this is?” And he said, “Yeah, I’ve got to borrow more so that I can put in seed money and get the money to pay the person back.”

It made no sense. He was not getting it, but I hope he went off and finally realized that sort of retrenching and learning to stand on his own, develop his own connection with money so that he could make it himself. That I think was what the lesson that was trying to be learned through him. But, it’s not that he was bad, it’s just that we’re all here. That’s the game. We’re here to learn these wonderful things that will fill us with joy and ultimately abundance and everything.

Maryanne, hello, says, “Does creativity float around in consciousness? Are ideas waiting for us to grab them and take them, and expand on them?” I think so. I mean, I told you guys last week, folks, last week about Liz Gilbert’s belief that if a story, if she doesn’t tell, it will go to another author. And she had this experience with Ann Patchett, where she was writing a very complex book and she decided not to. And then, Ann Patchett wrote that very plot line, which is, yeah, listen to the last gathering room, you’ll hear all about it.

So, I do think ideas float around, and you’ll often see different scientists coming up with solutions to the same problem at different places in the earth. They’ll be situated geographically at different places, and they’ll suddenly come up with the same idea. And it’s like the consciousness of all humanity is ready to understand this. And it’s like one neuron cluster in the brain finally rocking it and going, “Oh, I get it.” We’re all connected, right? We’re all one brain. And when one person lights up with an idea or is ready to solve it, somebody else who’s focused on that, boom, will come up with it at the same time. I believe potentially that’s how awakening could work. That if enough of us woke up at the same time, boom, the whole human species might light up and we might have a very different future than if we don’t. So if things are trying to wake you up, pay attention.

Aggie says, oh yeah, “Hi Marty and Row, is it possible to miss one’s destiny, or does the universe or God try again and again? I guess I’m wondering if destiny is a static destination or if it’s continuously changing like water.” What a great question. You get every chance. Over and over and over you get chances. You get chances, tiny chances, big chances. Every day you get chances. The more times you jump on the chance and go where the heat is, the more chances you get, well, you’ll get as many as you will accept. So if you’re going for them, they’ll come quickly. If you resist them, you are going to slow down the flow. And yes, I do believe, I don’t think it’s deterministic. I think that when you respond, you flow into a different thing and infinite other avenues of resolution open.

Maybe I’m kind of a fan of the infinite universes theory in physics. I’m undecided on that one. But, I do believe every time you make a choice, boom, different options open and that new things can come in, and that you could be surprised, and that your soul could learn a lesson early in your life and then just take off and learn a whole bunch more you hadn’t even planned. Destiny just keeps getting more beautiful, that I do believe. It always keeps getting more beautiful.

And finally, Danielle says, “I love that game of consciousness. How do we cooperate when we keep getting caught up with social friends who seem to have negative energy and keep pervading your space? Is it okay to let them go, and how?” It’s not only okay to let them go, you’re kind of not cooperating with your destiny if you let folks bring you down and you don’t create any separation. There are different ways to let go of them. My favorite one is to be honest and to say things like, “Oh, I disagree. I disagree very heartily.”

I remember being at somebody’s house and somebody else in their neighborhood had won the lottery. And they won, I don’t know, 111 million or something. And the woman said, “Yeah, they just won themselves a whole lot of trouble.” And the man goes, “Yeah, so much trouble.” And I was like, “I think they just want a whole bunch of money. I would like it.” And they didn’t like me. We didn’t really see each other much after I started talking that way right out in public. So yeah, that whole, the year I told not a single lie and everything in my life changed, there were a lot of awkward moments because people would say, “Oh, I believe this,” and I’d say, “I do not,” because that’s not where the heat is for me. And yeah, lost a lot of friends that needed losing. As Ani DiFranco said, “Lost some friends that needed losing.” And they could come along at any point.

There are many of them that have come back around and gone, ‘”You know what, I no longer agree with what I thought before and now I’m in cooperation with my destiny. Good to see you again.” And we’re like, “This is fabulous. This is even more fabulous than we ever thought possible.” Because, just when you think things cannot be better than they are, they have to be. It just keeps growing. It is the game of consciousness, teaching us even through our suffering how to access more joy. And from that perspective, every single story ends happily, and it’s always a big adventure. So, thanks for being part of my adventure and for joining me here. See you again next week. I love you. Go where the heat is. Let consciousness move you. Let yourself feel the movement. It’s awesome. Bye.

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