Wayne was my hero and friend, and his passing has saddened me. I remember we met at one of his lectures in Atlanta, and I gave him the Celestine Prophecy in manuscript form. He told me not to listen to anyone who said I couldn’t get the book out… to just go do it. That was Wayne.
Widely known in recent years as a popular TV personality and lecturer, he penned dozens of self-help books that sold millions of copies around the world. He became a fixture on PBS for decades.
But his legacy is so much larger.
As most know, he was part of the early Human Potential Movement. Few realize that, in part, he put that movement on the map.
The “Human Potential Movement” holds one basic tenant: that within each of us is a budding giant of self-knowledge and wisdom, waiting to emerge. In other words, all of us grow up a mere shadow of what we can become.
Much of the understanding of how to actualize this potential was worked out in the 1970’s and ’80s — based on the work of such pioneers as Carl Jung, Aldous Huxley, George Leonard, and Abraham Maslow. The gestation of the movement occurred mostly in small enclaves in university psychology departments, or little think-tanks and centers around the world. Most notable of these centers was Esalen Institute, which was cofounded by Micheal Murphy — also an important figure — to host workshops by many of these early thinkers. Still, at the time, few in the general public knew about the HPM.
Then something big happened… Wayne Dyer appeared on the Johnny Carson show.
Months earlier he had released his book, Your Erroneous Zones, and at first, it languished. Then he proved his own theories by traveling the US diligently, visiting every bookstore and every TV station that would let him talk. Why did he labor so furiously? Because he knew he had something to say: “Everyone could breakthrough to their authentic self.”
Not only was Wayne on the Johnny Carson show. He was on this iconic TV show a reported 36 times and was interviewed by every other major pundit around the world for years. His charm and quick wit won over every naysayer, “Yes, we can reach our potential. No, I’m not reducing tough psychological work to superficial ideas. Yes, growth really is more simple than anyone knows.” His favorite theme was “use your power of focused intention and visualization.”
Later he moved with the rest of us toward a more spiritual explanation, just as simple: Listen to the dreams of your soul, then hold that image of who you want to become until the Synchronicity begins to guide you there. In the course of a lifetime, Wayne lived that truth, and more than anyone caused it to seep deeply into Human Culture.
For instance, just think back to the recent PGA major golf championship, viewed worldwide. Golfer Jason Day was on his way to winning, and commentators began noting approvingly that before every shot, he paused consciously to half close his eyes and visualize the ball going toward the hole. The idea of Self-Actualization and visualization has reached all the way to golf and beyond.
That was the legacy of Wayne Dyer.