My first exposure to Wayne Dyer’s self help approach came with seeing my mother reading a copy of Your Erroneous Zones. Being a teenager then—the book was first published in 1976—I likely dismissed it as one of those “naughty” books that I wouldn’t have a use for for years. When I did finally read the book, it was with the bulk of Ayn Rand’s literary corpus already consumed; and from that context, Dyer’s observations and ideas were very helpful. I didn’t expect that standard to be upheld in Your Sacred Self: Making the Decision to be Free, but I was hopeful—and the subtitle was irresistably alluring to me.
I agree with Dyer on this much: being free is, to a very large degree, a matter of choice. Many of us choose our cages and handcuffs from among various institutions’ offerings, and then complain loudly about them to whoever will listen. Some of us are so stridently shouting “I can’t!” that we cannot even see a possibility for success. We argue for our limitations, we cling to our ideas—even as we hope and dream, we lock ourselves in to a narrow perspective where those dreams will never be able to take flight. Yet what Dyer seeks to liberate us from is not the brainwashing of schools and states and churches; it is the tyranny of the ego.
From the second page of the book, one knows that the Wayne Dyer who wrote Your Sacred Self is not the same Wayne Dyer who wrote Your Erroneous Zones, if only because he describes spirituality as “an attitude toward God”. Later in the book, he does state that he has become a Christian, and clarifies that one needn’t similarly follow the carpenter to be spiritual; but he seems to subtly look down at those who have not chosen the same path as he. More disappointingly, Dyer seems to have swallowed simplistic, absolutist thinking regarding sex and sensuality, addiction, and related topics. Such activities and desires are uniformly cast as “toxic” and therefore undesirable; there is no hint of the reason-oriented perspective found in Your Erroneous Zones and Pulling Your Own Strings. The cognitive emphasis of those volumes has vanished, to be replaced by homage to Christian strictures, apparently as viewed by a more fundamentalist orientation.
The bogeyman of Dyer’s tale, the bane of our existence, is one’s ego, as is made plain from the story the foreword relates. Yet what is the ego? The question remains unanswered for nearly half the book, when Dyer begins to explain his perspective: