The world of nature exists within a larger pattern of cycles, such as day and night and the passing of the seasons. The seasons do not push one another: neither do clouds race the wind across the sky; all things happen in good time; everything has a time to rise, and a time to fall. Whatever rises, falls, and whatever falls shall rise again: that is the principle of cycles.
Patience is power: with time and patience, the mulberry leaf becomes silk. CHINESE PROVERB
Different forms of energy vibrate at different rates; like a river, energy flows from a higher to lower levels, moving through repeating cycles, expanding and then contracting, like our breathing.
Since everything in the universe is a form of energy, everything falls within the domain of the Law of Cycles: Sunrise and sunset, the waxing and waning moon, the ebb and flow of the tides, and the seasons of the year all reflect this law. It reminds us there is a time for everything under the sun. All things have a most favorable and a least favorable time; all things rise and fall. A thought or action initiated while this pulsing energy is rising and gaining momentum travels along easily toward its success, but a thought or action initiated in a descending cycle has a reduced impact. When a cycle is not favorable, we wait until it is rising again. There are times for action and times for stillness, times to talk and times to be silent. Few things are more frustrating than doing the right thing at the wrong time.
Appreciating the energy cycles of our lives helps us apply good timing and create better “luck” for ourselves. There are times to work and times to rest, times to take advantage of a building cycle and times to go inside, learn patience, and wait, preparing for the next rising wave.
One example of how this law works involves my first book, Way of the Peaceful Warrior. Originally published by J. P. Tardier in hardback, it received one positive review and one very negative review and found its way into only a few bookstores. Sales figures looked so dismal that the publisher decided not to risk a paperback edition; the book quietly “died” with a bulk of stock remaining in storage. This was certainly no fault of the publisher, who had assigned a gifted editor to the book, commissioned a beautiful cover, and did what promotion they could for it. But the timing wasn’t right and the book just didn’t take off—until three years later, when Hal Kramer, a retired publisher, happened upon a copy of the book, read it, and felt so inspired, he declared, “I’m going back into publishing, starting with this book.” He sent letters to booksellers announcing his reentry “into the ring” with this new book, and the rest, as they say, is history: Way of the Peaceful Warrior, as of this writing, is published in twelve languages and has become an international best-seller, riding a rising cycle.
The life of Malcolm X provides another for example of the Law of Cycles. At the lowest point in his life, when he was sentenced to ten years in prison, he made very good use of the time. He turned prison into his cocoon, from which he went through a metamorphosis that was to transform his life and the lives of many others. Rather than resisting or bemoaning his fate, he studied and read and studied more. He made use of the Law of Cycles and of the related Law of Flexibility (p. 324). He emerged to become a major leader of his people.
Each of us has our own rhythms. As we find our own rhythm, we take advantage of whatever point of the cycle we find ourselves; we learn to flow in harmony and rhythm with the Law of Cycles.
The impulse that sets some cycles in motion may be explosive; some cycles may rise, peak, then fall rapidly, like a heavily advertised best-seller. Like a shooting star, it may have a short but dramatic life. Other books pick up slowly, by word of mouth, rising in popularity for years, then have a very slow decline. Such cycles apply to the fortunes of individuals, countries, religions, corporations, celebrities, and cultures—rising and falling and rising again as the window of opportunity finally open, and the timing is right.
The following exercises can help you achieve alignment with the Law of Cycles through direct experience and application.
1. Observe how winter brings the cold season of hibernation; spring calls forth warm rebirth; summer calls forth ripening; and autumn brings forth the harvest. In this way, the cycle of the seasons continues in a great circle.
2. Have you observed complete circles, large or small, in your life? Did your popularity in school have its ups and downs? Do you see cycles of ease and difficulty in your work activities over the years? Have there been times when everything seemed to go smoothly and other times when you felt as if you were pushing through molasses?
3. We can gain a certain security and sense of timing as we realize that life is a circle, and if we have the patience to wait long enough, and prepare for opportunity in the meantime, most opportunities come around again.
Applying the Law of Cycles
Within the great cycle of our lives—the spring of youth, the summer of our middle years, the autumn of our later years, and the winter of our final years as our life nears its end, many other cycles flow. Each year brings a
spring of new beginnings, a summer of ripening, a fall of harvest, and a cold winter of waiting.
1. Observe the periods of winter, spring, summer, and autumn in your life. In times of “winter” that called for patient endurance and slowing down, did you use the time for learning and quiet reflection or did you want to rush the coming of spring? When spring arrived, did you take advantage of this new beginning by sowing seeds? Did you allow yourself to enjoy the leisure of summer seasons? Did you harvest the fruits of your labors in the autumn cycles, storing, saving, and preparing for winter’s return?
2. Consider how your understanding of the Law of Cycles could help you create greater harmony, ease, and natural flow in your life.
3. For more specific applications of the Law of Cycles see the section in Part Five on nine-year cycles (p. 415).