Each week, spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra responds to Oprah.com users' questions with enlightening advice to help them live their best lives.
Q: It seems that having desires and goals and wanting to manifest them is in contrast to living totally in the present moment and allowing life to unfold naturally. Can the two paths of intention and choiceless awareness be unified, or do they exist as different paths on the spectrum of consciousness?
— Rushabh P., Newcastle, Australia
Let me clarify your question for other readers, since the phrase "choiceless awareness" is probably unfamiliar. Everyone wants to have their dreams come true, and various ways have been suggested to make that happen. Often, we are told to follow our dreams by working hard, preparing the way for future opportunities and never giving up. But there is conflicting advice, which says the opposite: The universe holds the ultimate power to bring our desires to fulfillment and, therefore, letting nature takes its course is a better way than striving.
I think most people have become acquainted with these two alternatives, which is why some people "go with the flow" and others believe that preparation plus perspiration is the key to success. But there's another concept that embraces both extremes. It holds that the power of desire depends on your state of awareness. In higher states, less effort is needed than in lower states. Certain conditions have to be met within each person. Consciousness brings its own fulfillment only if consciousness is clear, alert, awake, holistic and connected to the source. The ultimate state of awareness is unity consciousness, where everything happens so automatically that the person isn't even aware of making a choice. A desire is immediately followed by its fulfillment.
If that seems fairly clear, your question can be more easily answered. When you haven't reached unity consciousness, there is a gap between what you want and what the universe brings to you. This can be a gap in time or in results. By that I mean you may have to wait, and the result that comes to you may seem less than ideal. We all experience this gap, and to be frank, millions of people embedded in the materialist worldview deny that desires come true through anything but effort. They claim that our thoughts, wishes and intentions exist completely inside our brains, having no connection with the world "out there."
The picture is confusing, which is why you find yourself caught between one theory of intention and the other. To get out of this confusion, the only way is to keep experiencing your present state of awareness and looking for clues for expanding it, since the world does, in fact, reflect who you are inside. We all have conflicting desires, and we drift from very clear moments of awareness to duller, more confused moments. Don't take that as a reason to be discouraged. The whole fascination of personal growth lies in the journey, with all its twists and turns.
If you are asking for a magical shortcut to making your dreams come true, I cannot offer one. The more clarity you achieve, the more you will find that the universe is on your side, supporting your thoughts and intentions. Therefore, focus on clarity, not on getting results. The results will come according to their own rhythm and timing. For a detailed discussion of this whole issue, may I recommend The Book of Secrets? I wrote it to outline the expansion of consciousness as it relates to desires and intentions.