Reprinted with permission from "The Spiritual Chicks Question Everything" by arrangement with Red Wheel/Weiser.

Tami Coyne and Karen Weissman met in 1994 through Concept-Therapy -- a course of study that emphasizes the underlying unity between science and spirituality. Tami (the "passionate" one) has an A.B. in French Literature from Smith College and is the author of "Your Life's Work: A Guide to Creating a Spiritual and Successful Work Life." Karen (the "analytical" one) holds a Ph.D. in engineering from Princeton University. They began collaborating as the Spiritual Chicks when they realized that despite operating from different sides of the brain, their spiritual sensibilities were basically telling each of them the same thing -- that we're all expressions of God, Spirit, or the One Life.

Despite the enduring myth that enlightenment can somehow be instantly bestowed upon us at the feet of a master, it usually takes real life to wake us up to who we are, how things actually work, and what it is we're here to do.

So, let's cut to the chase. What's your real life wake-up call? Work? Relationships? An unyielding desire for the truth, inner peace, or a new car? Believe it or not, the ups and downs of everyday life are tailor made to kick us into cosmic consciousness so there's no need to sell the family farm and move to the Himalayas. In our own lives -- and within each of us -- is everything we need to become enlightened which sure can be a shock when we've been taught to rely on the experience of others rather than think for ourselves.

"The Spiritual Chicks Question Everything" is about using our everyday lives to gain spiritual understanding and to uncover our own power to create the lives we want to live. It doesn't matter what roles we've played over the years, how much we've struggled, or how much wisdom we've acquired up to this point. Sound intriguing? Maybe even fun? You bet it is! And it's a lot more productive than complaining about our troubles or blaming our parents, bosses, bank accounts, or international terrorists for our lack of fulfillment. It may be hard to accept at first, but it's our own beliefs that determine what we get out of life. If we don't like what we have or where we are, then it's up to us to question what we believe and throw out all the limiting ideas that keep us from being happy. It takes courage to break the chains of conventional opinion and get rid of cherished beliefs. It doesn't happen overnight. But it's well worth the effort... and it's a hell of a ride.

Before we get going, let's clarify a few terms. First, what exactly do we, the Spiritual Chicks, mean by "spirituality"? To us, spirituality

is the process of exploring our connection to the universe -- or, more precisely, to the elusive power that holds the entire universe together and makes our hair grow, all at the same time. OK, but what is this power

we're talking about? Science calls it energy

or consciousness

; theology calls it God

or Spirit

. The interpretation of of this power varies (scientists meansure and quantify its effects, while creationists ascribe human-like body parts and personality traits to it), but there are three general characteristics that are more or less consistent: this power is everywhere, knows everything, and can do anything. Now, that's a kick ass power. We use the terms like God, energy, Spirit, and consciousness, along with Nature

and the One Life

, interchangeably. But it's all the same ever-present stuff.

So if energy or God is everywhere, then where

are we? And who

are we? This brings us to the definition of the term -- the One Life Principle -- that just happens to be the foundation for this book. This ancient idea says that there is a single underlying power in the univese, but its expression takes many different forms -- baseball players, puppies, exotic dancers, Supreme Court Justices, rocks, trees, even criminals. And, while you might not be ready to jump on the One Life bandwagon just yet, you must admit that this principle explains a lot about life -- not the least of which is how Jerry Falwell, Larry Flint, and Mother Teresa can all be "children of God." We're all spiritual beings, because we're all Spirit. There you have it. God, or energy, is all there is. Isn't it enlightening to realize that we've always been what we're trying to become... spiritual, that is?

Do I need to go to church (synagogue, mosque, or a mountain top)?

A rubber sqeeze toy in the shape of a Buddha working on a laptop computer sits in our office. The Buddha smiles complacently, from his familiar erect, yet relaxed, position that allows for the proper flow of chi through the body. He just happens to be surfing the web or checking his stock portfolio. Some might call this an example of the modern world "corrupting" our spiritual existence, but we think it's just the opposite. Spirituality is not something to strive for only in church, synagogue, or meditation, even though these can be useful tools. Working at the computer, mowing the lawn, or making love are also valid spiritual activities. Spirituality is not beyond real life; it is real life. The working Buddha reminds us of this, and that's why we keep him.

Am I smart enough to be enlightened?

Life can seem so complicated -- sometimes we wonder if we'll ever understand it. But when it comes to seeking enlightenment, intelligence is overrated. It's our minds that typically make things so complicated in the first place. We are all spiritual beings, plain and simple, and we operate with spiritual power whether we realize it or not. We can theorize about the workings of the universe, delve into the psychology of the human brain, or dissect and study the human body. But we shouldn't confuse these intellectual pursuits with the spiritual quest.

There is an ancient Buddhist proverb that says, "When the student is ready, the master will appear." In other words, since there is only One Life, we implicitly have access to all the knowledge there is, so all we have to do is be ready to receive it. What makes a willing student is not whether we have barely finished high school, or whether we have a doctorate from Oxford, but rather, whether we have an earnest desire to know who we are in relation to the world around us. Whatever abilities we possess are the abilities we need to explore our higher natures. And, be assured that an earnest attempt to do so will attract helpers along the way in the form of friends, mentors, healers, or even nasty waitresses and obnoxious political pundits, who will complement our abilities, fill in the gaps, and teach us what we need to know.

Are you ready to create the universe?

Hell no. Who wants that kind of responsibility? But the truth is, every thought, every emotion, every deeply rooted concept dictates the quality of our lives. So, in fact, each of us is creating our own universe already. The question is: are we interested in doing it consciously? If we want less anger in our lives, we need to start being more patient. If we want more love, we need to start loving more. If we want more money, we need to start appreciating the richness of what we have.

Each time we make a decision to act in a certain way and are conscious of the results, we become cognizant of our own creative power. We don't even have to make a "good" decision for this to be true. When we're in an ornery mood, something disagreeable will come along to satisfy our need to complain. It's not a reward/punishment scenario; it's just the way it is. So, are you ready to create your own universe? If you're like most of us, the answer varies from day to day. But that's OK, for the times when we're not up to the task, the universe will make sure it happens anyway.

Is there a messiah in the house?

It seems like we're constantly waiting to be rescued. Look at our culture. First, there's the notion of the prince in folk tales ranging from "Cinderella" to "Pretty Woman." Next we have our love-hate relationship with the medical profession, which basically boils down to putting 100% of the responsibility for our health in the hands of a doctor who we will promptly turn around and sue if things don't turn out OK. And then we have our favorite, the lottery, that one-in-a-billion chance occurrence that will save us from our debts or our boring jobs, and make our lives magical.

This deeply rooted need to be saved is fundamental to many of the world's great religions. We're either waiting on someone to come take us out of this hell, or if he or she has already been here, we're waiting for them to return so we can get on with our lives as eternal beings. Meanwhile, we fall deeper and deeper into spiritual desolation until we have the equivalent of a spiritual heart attack and cry out "Help! Help! Is there a messiah in the house?"

Now, no disrespect intended, but what if we assumed, for the time being, that there were no such saviors in our world or any other? If there were no doctors, we would probably take better care of ourselves and start trusting our own instincts about our bodies. If there were no lottery, we would probably have to find a better job on our own, or at least come to terms with the one we have. And, if there were no messiah, we would have to look for enlightenment on our own. If all we're doing right now is sitting around waiting for deliverance, then it can't hurt to try and "save" ourselves. At the very least, we'll have something to talk about with the messiah when he or she finally gets here.

Can a little narcissism be good for the soul?

Authentic self-love is the highest expression of the One Life Principle. But we live in a world where duality is king. As a result of the powerful illusion that we are separate and different from each other and our Creator, it can be difficult to feel love at all, much less the unconditional, pure love that comes from union with all that is.

The spiritual quest, the journey to the One, is a roller coaster ride through the seemingly impenetrable walls we've built to preserve and enhance our shaky sense of self and our insecure attachment to our uniqueness and individuality.

We humans are complicated characters. Our animal nature wants nothing more than survival; quality of life issues do not enter into the picture. Our psyche wants protection (and sometimes revenge) from the nasty bastards who would deprive us of a "healthy ego." But our spiritual nature wants nothing from external reality because it knows there's no such thing. It simply propels us forward, despite (or maybe because of) the obstacles our animal and psychic natures put in our way. It urges us to love, to accept, to heal, to let go once and for all, so that eventually we'll be able to see what we've been the whole time -- perfect little indestructible sparks of God.

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