Table of Contents
Title Page
Copyright Page
Losing My Religion
A Path with Heart
Let’s Lay This Puppy Out
CHAPTER 1 - Light the Match
CHAPTER 2 - The Beaming You Who
The Big G, with Breasts
Energy Is More Important Than Form
Who’s Your Daddy (or Mommy)?
CHAPTER 3 - Are You Really Gonna Eat That?
Gorging at the Spiritual Buffet
Chocolate Chip Cookies and Broccoli
Follow Your Heart, Not Your Ego
There’s Something About Mary
The Outsiders
Miz Appropriation
Let Divinity Disco
CHAPTER 4 - Sacred Lipstick and Cosmic Lattes
Booking Red
From Toothpaste to Nightclubs
Spin Your Prayers
Being the Wonder That You Are
CHAPTER 5 - Catapult Your Inner Waitress
Ritualize Your Self
Catapult Your Inner Waitress
Altar Your Self
Here’s Looking at You, Kid
CHAPTER 6 - Divine Winks
Answer My Damn Prayer Already
Connecting the Dots
This Will Totally Freak You Out
I Am So Not Worthy
Sign Language
Is That a Divine Sign or Just a Parking Ticket?
Your Lucky Number
Not Another Butterfly Tattoo
Natural Elements
The Loud Annoying Crow in the Park
My Perfect Shade of Red
It’s a Sign of Dependency
CHAPTER 7 - Dream On
Dreams Past
Carl Rocks While Sigmund Rolls
Do You Individuate?
Where Did You Go Last Night?
Dream Catcher
Leave Your Village
CHAPTER 8 - Peeling Your Onion
Your Skin May Stink
Strip Teasing Your Self
Mind Fck
Accept Your Self
You Cannot Force a Rose to Bloom
CHAPTER 9 - When Sparks Fly
Believe Me, You Need to Know You
Get Over Your Self
CHAPTER 10 - Breaking the Rules
Breaking Your Own Traditions
CHAPTER 11 - Open Up and Say Ahhh
Frisky Deities
Sex Is Sin, Woman Is Sex
Dutiful Orgasms
The Other Side of the Cosmic Bed
Tantra Unites
Turn Your Self On
A Whole Bunch of Sex Questions
Temple Yourself to Find Your Self
Jade Stalks and Lotus Flowers
Body Wise
CHAPTER 12 - Sitting Down and Shutting Up
Become More Buddha-full
My First (But Not My Last) Zen Spanking
Monkey Mind
Opening Your Present
What Shuts You Up?
Practice Makes Perfect
Just Be It
But Mr. Whiskers Needs Me
Spiritual Hang-Ups
Flow Away
CHAPTER 13 - Know That You Know
Do You Know What I Know?
Imagine All the People
That’s Not a Bestseller with Me
Dare to Know
Help, I Think My Intuition Is Broken
Read Me
This Is Not a Whim
Mission Possible
Role Playing
CHAPTER 14 - Keep Your Self Buzzing
You Must Play with Puppies
Force of Life
CHAPTER 15 - The Joke’s on Us
No Laughter? No Heaven
Let There Be Gas
CHAPTER 16 - Roar

What People Are Saying about The Red Book
“GORGEOUS! The Red Book is a deep, smart, and authentic guide to being more indelibly and powerfully yourself.”
—SARK, author/artist, Succulent Wild Woman
“Beak’s vision is a modern, femme fatale spirituality. The book lives up to its ‘unorthodox’ subtitle, advocating that young women search for the spiritual in all things.”
—Publishers Weekly
“Every so often there comes our way a glorious chunk of life so utterly unique that even the jaded blink twice. The Red Book is just such a chunk, gloriously dropped out of the mind of Sera Beak as a special message for today’s contemporary woman in the language of just such a woman, placing before us the wisdom of the ages. From gentle meditation to bouncing sexuality and much in between, the path to personal rejuvenation through the enlivening of the heart, mind, and spirit is laid out in such refreshing, sparkling, effervescent words that what results is a psychic shower for the soul. Get naked, get in, get wet. You’ll never feel as clean.”
—Neale Donald Walsch, author, Conversations with God
The Red Book wrests spirituality from the death grip of the humorless believers and restores it to its wild natural state. If you’re hungry for real magic but allergic to self-righteous jive, sit yourself down at this feast.”
—Rob Brezsny, syndicated columnist, Free Will Astrology
“Smart, stylish, divine! I love this hip guide to exploring your creative spirituality. If you’ve ever hoped and prayed that there’s more to life than shopping, dating, and dieting, you’re going to dig this book.”
—Cameron Tuttle, author, The Bad Girl’s Guide to Getting What You Want
“Don’t be fooled. This book may taste like a juicy pomegranate, but what’s really going on here is nothing short of a revolution. Sera Beak’s radical call is for young women to start believing in themselves, to trust and use their innate spiritual authority, and to understand that authentic power can never come from anything or anyone else. Beak writes out of her years of academic study, her participation in diverse spiritual practices from the East and West, and importantly, her personal and intuitive experience. Beak’s knowledge is far-reaching. Her lightness of being is worth taking seriously.”
—China Galland, professor, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California; author, The Bond between Women and Longing for Darkness
“Particularly timely . . . Sera Beak has a beautiful gift of writing that turns sometimes difficult material into simple—but not simplistic—anecdotes for living a more profound life. This is a wise and wonderful book that reminds young women that life is not a rehearsal but rather a magnificent spiritual journey to be lived and experienced to the fullest. Read this book but, more importantly, apply it!”
—Baron Baptiste, renowned yoga teacher, educator; author, Journey into Power
“Sera Beak’s Red Book is a woman-wise, grrl power, rosy red and unabashed, hands-on road guide to grabbing our relationship with enlightenment by the scruff and riding it hard, all the way to ecstasy.”
—LaSara W. FireFox, sexual r/evolutionary; author, Sexy Witch


For Grandmother and Grandfather Beak: A Catholic and a Jew who taught me that love knows no boundaries, that exploring this wondrous world is a necessity, and never to underestimate the power of a good pun

Do you ever get that funny feeling, slightly surreal and disorienting, maybe late at night or early in the morning, maybe right before lunchtime or perhaps when your friends are chatting, a lover is changing, a job is droning, or a TV is flickering, a feeling that there’s something more than all of this? That you are more than all of this? That perhaps life is more purposeful and magical than you give it credit for, and never mind all your unpaid parking tickets and bad work days that seem to prove otherwise?
You do? Me, too. As does your best friend, your boss, and your weird neighbor. As do Russian rocket scientists, Belgian sheep farmers, and the Dalai Lama. The feeling is, in fact, universal.
So, what is this funny feeling? Sure, you could explain it away as some Freudian childhood glitch or planetary retrograde or even some of last night’s margaritas coming up for an encore. But more likely, it’s something a bit more profound. Chances are it’s a coy catcall from the universe, disguised as existential angst. It’s the divine ringing your inner doorbell. It’s your higher self, stealing the spotlight. It’s your potential, aching to be realized, and your spirit, itching to be scratched. So then the question becomes, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to explore this feeling? Are you willing to open the door? Are you willing to refocus your lens?
If the answer is yes, here’s a book that can help. True, it’s a book about spirituality, but it’s probably not like anything you’ve read before. It’s been created with you and me in mind. Just being real. Just being our true selves. Just being. So let’s get started.

When sleeping women wake, mountains move.
Are you aware of the rather radical fact that, in truth, not only are you naturally spiritual but you are actually divine? Yes, you, young lady. And you need to start acting like it. Most of us have probably heard some variant of the old “you are divine” cliché. It’s a nice, catchy spiritual phrase that gets some people off a bit, a cute little bumper sticker on your soul’s VW. Let’s keep the mystical meaning but lose the sappy cuteness. Let’s undress this most flirtatious of phrases.
Like it or not, if you are alive, then you are spiritual. Let me repeat: If you exist, you can’t not be spiritual. But you can be unaware of this fact, deny it, forget it, take it for granted, hide from it, limit it. It’s all too easy, given the general chaos of the world, from religious dogma to political turmoil to relentless fashion trends to ruthless media messages, to feel detached from such an empowering suggestion, to ignore your true makeup, to inhibit your remarkable potential, and to keep your sight dim, your life experience at a low heat, devoid of any yummy sacred sizzle.
Well, enough of that. This book will not let you live that way anymore. The Red Book is a candid companion on your spiritual path, an inspirational tool, a winking friend whispering warnings. But more than anything else, it’s a fire starter. It will heat up your existence by demonstrating, through ancient wisdom and modern discovery, creative self-expression and hilarious examples, that you are innately spiritual. It also offers clear, powerful exercises so you can begin to experience the fact that you are divine, not just take this book’s word for it. After all, you’re not merely a human who’s struggling to have a spiritual experience. You are, in truth, a spirit, having a human experience. You are not trying to experience divinity so much as divinity is trying to experience you. Think about it. Let it soak in for a minute. It is, quite possibly, the most important distinction you can ever make.
At this point, you may be wondering who the hell I am to be saying such grand and slightly fluffy things. What right do I have to make such claims? Perhaps I should start at the beginning.

Losing My Religion

I was a weird kid. Besides believing I could talk with inanimate objects (rocks, cars, light switches, apples—you name it, I talked to it) and besides making all my friends and family members refer to me as a different fairy-tale heroine each day of the week (my kindergarten diploma states, “Sarah [Snow White] Beak”), I was slightly obsessed with, well, God. In fact, I desperately wanted to be a nun, drive a pink Trans Am, and own a parrot—all at the same time. I looked at priests and nuns like other kids looked at sports heroes or movie stars, and even though I was bored out of my mind at mass and Sunday school, I loved the dramatic stories and colorful characters in my children’s Bible. Religion was magical and utterly mysterious to me. It hosted miracles and bizarre rituals, angels and demons, saints who levitated and mystics who healed the sick, and fantastical otherworldly places like heaven and hell. For me, at that time, religion offered limitless possibility. It was better than any fairy tale, because it was real (well, sort of).
But then a shift occurred. When I was in sixth grade, I read a book about a psychiatrist who regressed his patients back to their childhood using hypnosis, to help them heal their childhood wounds (yep, I skipped right over Judy Blume in favor of stuff like this). One day, much to his (and his patient’s) surprise, the psychiatrist ended up regressing his patient back a bit further than childhood, into what he finally recognized was a past life. And in the process, the patient was healed of the ailment she had come to see him about. How odd. He soon began to regress most of his willing patients into their past lives and to places in between their lives where they could converse with spirit guides and dead relatives and receive what was often quite profound and healing spiritual information. Whether this doctor was for real concerned me not at all. What intrigued me was the possibility that organic spiritual information and wisdom could be available to anyone, not just priests or holy people or sketchy corner-store psychics. I liked this. It made me wonder, what if God was still speaking? What if an ordinary (OK, slightly eccentric) Jane like me could receive her own spiritual insights, her own wisdom, her own adventure? Reading about the psychiatrist and his regression technique reminded me that the universe is huge, bigger than I thought, and that I have the freedom to explore it. Not only the freedom, but the responsibility.
Wildly excited about all this new spiritual possibility, I marched straight into confession the following Saturday and immediately started babbling to the priest about reincarnation and spirit guides and other dimensions, thinking he’d be equally excited. He wasn’t. He tried very quickly to shut me down. The poor, overwhelmed priest explained that when we die, we simply go to heaven or hell (and he really emphasized the hell part), not into other lives. But then I asked him why reincarnation was a big part of Christian belief until the third century (I had found that out after doing a little research), at which the priest got flustered and sent me out of the confessional. I know many priests today who would be more open to this subject, but for some reason, this guy was in the booth that day, and frankly, I’m glad he was. I left the confessional for the last time. I realized, quite suddenly, that Catholicism was not big enough for me anymore.
Walking out of the church that day, I heard an inner applause (in fact, I think I actually bowed), not due to some cocky bravado or because I knew I was leaving Catholicism per se, but because I sensed I was opening myself up to even more wonder, even more divine possibility. I believe you can experience this sort of openness while remaining within a traditional religion, but a huge part of my particular path was about leaving “my father’s house” so I could start building my own.
When I went home that day, I informed my wonderfully open-minded Catholic parents that I would not be attending mass anymore. Much to their credit, they (reluctantly) said that was fine but that I must still explore and find out what I did believe in. Fair enough. I sometimes wonder whether they ever wish they could retract that directive, because explore I did, and still do, and will, I imagine, for a long time to come. You could say I’ve taken my explorations pretty seriously. I’ve studied world religions in intellectually rigorous universities, performed extensive anthropological field research all over this spinning globe, and conducted interviews with several mystics and ordinary religious people.
I’ve trekked in Tibet and whirled with dervishes in Turkey. I’ve volunteered at Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying in Calcutta and run from rabid dogs outside Buddhist temples in Kathmandu. I’ve attended intensive spiritual healing workshops in Sedona and psychic fairs in Chicago, fire rituals in the Black Rock Desert and yoga retreats in Mexico. I’ve had my past lives read, my aura tuned, my chakras aligned, my spirit guides channeled, my palms interpreted, and my kundalini awakened. I’ve prayed in churches, temples, mosques, studio apartments, Wiccan festivals, and always, always on rickety buses in India.
I’ve washed Hindu gurus’ feet, eaten dinner with living saints, argued with Zen masters, and had life-altering visions with shamans. I’ve taught a Tantric Tibetan Buddhist monk how to use his new digital camera, taken the host from a Croatian Catholic mystic who had the stigmata, and had an engaging private audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama on my twenty-first birthday.
I’ve studied the Bible, the Koran, the Upanishads, and Buddhist sutras, as well as all the popular spiritual self-help teachers, from Deepak Chopra to Caroline Myss, Marianne Williamson to Andrew Weil, Wayne Dyer to Oriah Mountain Dreamer, and many of the more esoteric alternative authors like Alice Bailey and Edgar Cayce, David Icke and Jane Roberts. I’ve watched the fads and trends of America’s spiritual culture with rapt attention and have talked with countless people my age about their own spiritual experiences, issues, and ideas. Through my years of exploring, I’ve come to realize that like most people in my generation, I am anti-authoritarian and a little individualistic. I want to find God in my own way, in my own time, and, essentially, by my own self. And I have. She beats deep inside my chest. I see her reflected everywhere. She grows with me.
Yep, I’m a true modern devotee. I love the mystics and The Matrix, yoga and the White Stripes, meditation and designer jeans. In terms of cultural dialects, I am multilingual. I speak New Age and Aveda skin care, Eastern philosophy and Elle magazine, metaphysics and Hitachi vibrators. I love modern art and dinner parties, lavender chocolate and dirty martinis, dancing and random road trips and hanging out with my girlfriends. My spirituality is real, alive and active, funky and fresh. It’s not separate from my daily life; rather, it’s so integrated and infused I can no longer separate the two.
So what, you may be wondering after all this, actually is my spirituality? What, exactly, do I believe in? Excellent question; no easy answer.

A Path with Heart

My spirituality is not traditional, although I have learned and continue to learn from the mystical hearts of the world’s religious traditions. It is not New Age, although I have learned and continue to learn from many aspects of this dizzying movement. I do not have a guru or one teacher I follow, although I am deeply grateful for the wise teachings of many. I follow my own red heart. I listen to those who speak from their own. And I am wide open, but extremely discerning. I question, doubt, and dare to know there’s always more. I sift and dig and only digest the spiritual ideas, tools, and practices that intuitively resonate with me, that challenge me to grow, that allow me to unfold organically. I do not worship these spiritual tools or believe them to be infallible or only touch them with kid gloves. I am deeply respectful, but I also like to rough ’em up a little, tattoo them with my initials, open them up for some fresh air, and fold them into my personal experiences. I get creative with my spirituality. I get physical. I laugh my ass off. I am, as many are, a sort of spiritual cowgirl. And I believe this honest, heart-driven approach has allowed me to have a juicier and more tangible, messy, and free relationship to the divine and to my self (which, as we now know, are ultimately one in the same). As the writer D. H. Lawrence put it, “It is a fine thing to establish one’s own religion in one’s heart, not to be dependent on tradition and second-hand ideals. Life will seem to you, later, not a lesser, but a greater thing” (p. 256).
My approach is not new. It echoes the experiences and insights of seekers on many different spiritual paths. But my particular expression of this approach is a bit more modern, a bit more female, and, I’m guessing, a bit more like you.
I wrote this book because I didn’t find all of myself reflected within the spirituality books I studied over the years. Although packed with wisdom, they were, more often than not, too bland, too serious, too academic, or too woo-woo, and mostly aimed at an older audience. I wrote this book because I know that our culture’s lack of youthful, modern feminine perspective is part of the reason why many young women are not strongly drawn to spirituality in the first place. I wrote this book because whenever I ask my friends and colleagues about spirituality, it invariably reminds them of their traditionally religious grandmother or their hemp-covered ex-roommate or a sweaty go-get-’em Jesus-is-your-only-savior TV evangelist, and that’s just not gonna cut it. We need some new touchstones, new reference points; The Red Book aims to be one.
Truth is, most of us have become pretty jaded when it comes to spirituality and religion, due to some combination of personal history, family, schooling, friends and, of course, all the chaos we see erupting all over this confused spinning planet. On one hand, we see cultures engaging in bloody wars and violence over religious beliefs. We see repression and orthodoxy and conservative Bible-thumping, power-craving agendas. We see the negation of females and their sexuality; we see burqas and genital mutilation; we see fear of the new, fear of the other, fear of God and hell and dildos. On the other hand, we see spiritual traditions like Kabbalah (thanks, Madonna), yoga (again, thanks, Madonna), Buddhism (thanks, Richard Gere and Beastie Boys), meditation, and astrology become ever more mainstream (Gucci incense holders, anyone?) along with the slightly narcissistic New Age and hugely popular self-help movements that want to help us “find ourselves” or “our soulmate” in one weekend for only $599. (Oh yeah, don’t get me started on the severe lack of a cool spiritual parlance. Words like spirit, divine, prayer, soul, universe, God and phrases like higher self, inner power, love yourself, find yourself make some of us cringe, but you’ll have to bear with me because it’s all we’ve got for the moment, and as overused and cheesed out as these words may be, they still can, with the right intention and tone, inspire us to reach further and grow stronger.) All of these associations can make the term spirituality seem more than a little confusing, a little trendy, a little bloody, a little too touchy-feely.
So what’s a smart, gutsy, spiritually curious young woman to do nowadays? Well, how ’bout taking spirituality back into your own hands? How about finding out what it means for you, through your own explorations and experiences and expressions? You know, all this spiritual stuff doesn’t have to be so esoteric or traditional or weird or dorky or intimidating or holier-than-thou. Spirituality is not separate and distinct from you and your everyday life. Igniting your divine spark is a simple perspective shift. An internal nod. An expanded relaxation into All That Is. It’s about tuning up your senses, cranking up your antennae, generating conscious living. It’s about becoming your own spiritual authority.
I have no interest in trying to convince you to start creating a more conscious and intimate one-on-one relationship with the universe swirling around you and (more important) the universe flaming bright inside you. But I can speak from my own experience and admit that when I dare to wink back at the divine, when I open my life to what deliciously includes but also is somewhat beyond my five senses, life becomes much more flavorful. Profound meaning illuminates even the most mundane of events. My relationships deepen. My voice becomes clearer. My work excels. My personal issues become less draining and dramatic. I am less affected. I require less outside approval. My self-confidence beams. I laugh more. I judge less. My sexuality roars. Random acts of kindness become a necessity, not just a whim. (When you start to recognize your own divine spark, you start to recognize it in everyone and everything.) My perspectives are amplified. I see the world around me at much more than face value, and as a result, I make clearer choices across the board, from my career to my relationships to my material desires, from politics to the environment to pop culture. I realize I’m not just some well-dressed biped trudging through life but actually an incredibly powerful and integral piece of the divine pie. I am In Love. Until, that is, someone cuts me off in traffic. Then I swear like a sailor and my body tenses and I rain down Tibetan curses upon their heads. I’m no saint or guru, no absolute authority. I’m far from perfect at touching tongues with the divine. But I have tasted enough to know that it’s the only way I want to move through this world. Yep, it’s that good.
Know this: Igniting my divine spark has also kicked my ass five ways from Sunday. My ordinary perceptions are constantly challenged. My limits are made clear, and then broken open. I cannot play safe or dumb or keep myself cocooned or judgmental. My unhealthy patterns, issues, and parts of me that are not in alignment with my divine spark come up for confrontations all the time. In order to learn who I really am, I have to learn who I really am not. It’s not always pretty. It’s definitely not always fun. Truth sets me free, but it can sometimes hurt like a thousand bee stings and a bad colonic. I have ended what felt like good relationships, moved across the country, made risky career moves, gotten pretty ill, changed my lifestyle, and experienced extended periods in which I’ve been lonely as hell and sexually disinterested, all in response to my spiritual path. My sense of self has expanded and contracted like a schizophrenic accordion. I have questioned everything, and I have felt nothing. I have told the universe to fuck off, and I have fallen down weeping at its compassionate response.
But despite the occasional existential tantrums and internal scrubbings, I can still wholeheartedly say that igniting my divine spark is worth it. Learning how to live my truth, out loud and on purpose and with inner authority, is worth it. Merging my humanity with my divinity is worth it. Becoming responsible for my self, for the vibe I give off, feels, well, downright heroic. Just being here, open and ready, is worth all the dirty laundry you can throw at me. And I would rather be alive, be real, be increasingly conscious of all that I am, than move around this planet all mechanical and unconscious.
You know those people you meet whose eyes are sort of vacant and dull, lifeless? Those who are just slumping along life’s crowded highways, not ever really reaching deeper into their soul’s pockets? What about the opposite type, those whose eyes dance and beam and cry and flash? The ones who seem to glow, despite their imperfections, who tend to attract good friends and good happenings like a magnet, who seem to beam out a calm and fearless sense of self? Well, which would you rather be? How clearly do you want to see? I thought so. Here’s looking at you, kid.

Let’s Lay This Puppy Out

While The Red Book can be read cover to cover, it’s far from linear. It’s written in such a way that it can fall open to what’s needed at the time, in a format that allows you to learn what you want, when you want, without having to read the entire book at once. In Chapter One, we set our intention for what will come. Chapters Two and Three are an intellectual warm-up, a sort of clearing of the spiritual throat. They directly address what to be aware of when you are exploring spirituality and religion and ask you to confront any spiritual misinformation you may be dragging around with you, as well as remind you to be respectful of all that you find.
We then move on to more delicious methods of igniting your divine spark, from lipstick prayers scribbled on a bathroom mirror to trusting your intuition when choosing a job, from learning how to read spiritual signposts in everyday life to practicing more mindful meditation. We’ll discuss what it means to become more present in the moment, more sexually conscious and more self-aware, along with tips on deciphering your nightly dreams and how to avoid becoming overly attached to those new jeans. We’ll go deep and talk about the need to question your fondest beliefs and strip away things in life that inhibit your potential. It’s all about paradox, mystery, meditation, sexuality, long walks, and momentous haircuts. It’s about becoming more self-expressive and spiritually transgressive and laughing our way to the end. It’s blasphemy made fun, made sacred, made useful.
Of course, these are big topics. Each chapter of this book has the potential to be a full book in itself—and in fact, your local bookstore is full of them. This obviously isn’t Ten Simple Steps to Total Everlasting Bliss. The ideas covered here are simply entry points. More than anything, The Red Book’s objective is to coax new questions out of you, so you can turn around and start actively looking for your own answers. And then you can start sharing them with the rest of us.
I encourage you to avoid letting The Red Book be just another cute, barely read addition to your bookshelf or coffee table. Like all the spiritual information available today, this book is absolutely worthless without your full participation, your personal touch, your intention and desire to go further. I’ve included a colorful resource section, full of some of my favorite books, teachers, Web sites, and other pertinent information to keep you going.
Remember, this book is not so much a general guidebook as my individualized approach: a highly selective, somewhat subjective way of perceiving and cultivating one’s connection to the divine. I offer this red approach for two simple reasons: First, after all my crazy experience and study, these are the ideas that have stuck, the ones that have worked best for me so far; and second, I believe this approach is reasonably clear, accessible, and an invaluable way for modern young women to initiate a profound yet sloppy bear hug with the universe.
Now, I fully realize (and, in fact, celebrate) that what works for me might not work for you. But I’m confident that many of the tools and suggestions in this book are universal enough for just about any spiritually energized modern woman to connect with and use to find some wisdom. While you might not find perfect personal resonance on every page (and it would be odd if you did), I can almost guarantee that somewhere in the book, you’ll find an opening, a doorway (and hopefully, far more than one) that invites you to pass through in your own unique way. Indeed, the process by which you go about igniting your divine spark will look different from mine and your best friend’s and your mom’s and that spiritual master’s, and that is something to honor. Deeply. We are not here to match and homogenize and agree on every point. One size of spirituality does not fit all. We are here to be our divine selves, boldly, passionately, respectfully, to the absolute best of our ability—and this, this is more than enough.
Dare yourself to disturb the universe.
Ask yourself:
How intensely do I want to exist?

Light the Match
Set Your Intentions Free
So how the hell do you start igniting your divine spark? Well, first and foremost, start by setting your intention. Your intention is the energy, the electric charge, the awareness you bring to every aspect of your life. It’s the force that lies behind everything you do, the fuel for your fire. Your intention helps create the pathway for your experience; therefore, setting it ain’t no trifling, careless thing, but a responsibility, one not to be taken lightly.
Intention is big. Countless are the spiritual books and teachers that discuss, in great detail, just how we should set our intentions (check the resource section for just a few that I find helpful). But here in The Red Book, I want to keep it simple, by asking you to use intention in a way that helps you give more conscious direction and divine spark to life’s ordinary and extraordinary moments.
Setting your intention is a bit like offering up an invocation to the universe. You place your desire out in the world, as an energized thought, a pregnant idea, an open prayer. You envision how you would like to be, to feel, to progress. So let’s prime your spiritual engine right now. Begin by stating—and I mean this literally—how you would like to interact with this book and how you would like to connect more deeply with the eagerly awaiting universe. Take a deep breath, and slowly let it out. Relax your body, quiet your mind, and let your intention rip, speaking either out loud or internally, or writing boldly in a journal. It might sound something like this:
“This is my intention. I intend to begin igniting my divine spark, consciously. I intend to really know who I AM. I intend to creatively express myself, as authentically as possible. I intend to explore what the divine means to me and what I mean to the divine, to stare straight at the contradiction that claims that the divine is both within me and outside of me, and laugh. I intend to make the red approach my own, to pay attention to my intuition, and to absorb only the spiritual material inside and outside this book that aligns with my divine self. I intend to intend more. I intend to be discerning yet have an open mind and heart and a fantastic sense of humor throughout this whole weird, sticky, delicious process.”
Brava! You’ve rolled the cosmic dice. This is beautiful and good. This is juicy and right. If there’s any more or less you’d like to intend now, please do it. And keep doing it. Anytime, anywhere, and about anything—from the sacred to the profane, the glorious to the mundane, and everything in between. Just make sure you use positive phrasing and avoid stating your intentions in the negative; for example, not “please don’t let me screw up this new relationship” but rather “I intend to be healthy and loving in this relationship.” No matter what the intention, be sure to state it from your heart.
You can state your intentions every morning before you get out of bed; it’s like applying an all-day moisturizer for your spirit: “I intend to be divinely aware and connected today, no matter what.” You can sing them in the shower: “I intend to follow my gut on this business deal and make it soar.” You can let your intention move through your body during a yoga class: “I intend from now on to be healthier with my eating and exercise habits, and to love my strong, sexy body.” Or set it when you take a stroll in the park: “I intend to genuinely smile at every thing and every body I come across.” You can set an intention for the coming day, week, year, or lifetime, or just for the moment you are in right now. It’s really that simple. If you don’t have a specific intention to set, just sit still, check in with your heart, and start sensing how you would ideally want to feel in your job, in your personal relationships, in your body, in your life, in your relationship with the divine. Hold these feelings strongly for a moment in your mind and heart, and then release them, breathe them out into the world.
This is the divine gist: Setting and holding a clear, strong intention for how you would like your life and your self to unfold, be the intention specific (“I intend to find a great parking space”) or universal (“I intend to tread lightly on the planet and make the world a better place”), helps you wring the most divine juice out of every situation, so you become less dependent on the doing and more able to enjoy just being.
Sound good? Excellent. Now let’s talk about the Big G.

The Beaming You Who
Gods, Goddesses, and the Blind Man’s Elephant
God. The word is just so damn loaded. It’s endured thousands of years of misuse, and all too often dredges up notions of my God versus your God, or some robed, bearded white male scowling at us from up in the clouds, or some big, approving deity every gushing sports icon or rock star thanks when they win the Super Bowl or a Grammy. Or it brings up that foreboding and vaguely uncomfortable feeling you used to get back in Sunday school or Hebrew school. Or maybe it’s a name that caused you to roll your eyes during a philosophy class or a progressive political gathering or a dinner party. For the young and hip, the culturally liberal, or the religiously tired, the concept of God, well, it’s rarely thought of as a pleasant thing. But who or what is God?
Rumi, the luminous thirteenth-century Persian mystic and poet, explained humankind’s confusion about God by way of a famous story, known as the parable of the blind men and the elephant. It goes like this:
A community of blind men heard that an extraordinary beast called an elephant had been brought into the country. Since they did not know what it looked like, they resolved to find the animal and obtain a “picture” by feeling the beast—the only possibility that was open to them . . .
One man felt the elephant’s trunk and declared the creature to be like a water pipe. Another man brushed the elephant’s ear and stated that the creature was like a fan. Still another man touched the tusks and found the creature to be sharp. Another man rubbed the leg of the elephant and declared the creature to be like a pillar, while the last man felt the elephant’s back and believed the creature to resemble a throne.
This, explained Rumi, is exactly like the various human beliefs about God. All are absolutely convinced they know exactly what it is, yet none can see the big picture and thereby realize that each of their beliefs illuminate part of the same essence, the same overarching energy, the same big honkin’ divine pachyderm.
And so it is for you. Explore spirituality for about ten minutes, and you can’t help but come face to face with a whole crazy plethora of ideas about the Big G (God). It’s a mad mix of possibility that can be at once exciting and daunting, intriguing and incredibly confusing. From uptight, judgmental, fear-based definitions of the divine to sappy, glossy vanilla-pudding incarnations and everything in between, there is no end to what people (and teachers and books and classes and yogis and priests and your massage therapist et al.) can mean when they utter the G word.
The Red Book takes the it’s-all-the-elephant view. The divine manifests through all forms (as well as the formless) and therefore has an untold number of faces. In the Hindu faith alone, there are around 300 million active deities, not to mention special rocks, mountains, rivers, and other geographical features, all of which are believed to be individualized faces of Brahman, the absolute, limitless, infinite Being or Ultimate Reality. In Hinduism, your ishta deva (“divine face,” or deity of choice) can be the one you grew up with or the one you are naturally drawn to later on; it doesn’t really matter, because in theory (in practice, it may not always be so easy), there is no right or wrong deity or spiritual practice because essentially all Hindu deities and practices lead back to the same goal: the divine, or Brahman. They are all merely different streams feeding into the same river.
Going Godless
Several eastern religions and philosophies do not specify any sort of god at all. Buddhism emphasizes the abstract idea of nonbeing, which is more a state or condition than a thing. Taoism embraces the Way, in which all of life is believed to be permeated by the ultimate formless Tao, or Source. The Way of Tao is a flowing, dynamic relationship to this life, created through intense inner concentration and various methods of wu-wei, or nonaction.Both of these amazing traditions (which each encompass several sects and schools of thought) highlight the importance of quieting the mind through meditation, staying present, practicing nonattachment, being instead of doing, going with the flow, and accepting where we are right now—all very important ways to help ignite your divine spark and all of which will get much more attention later in this book.
Mystics from every tradition have experienced this kind of Oneness, beyond the pesky details of a strict interpretation. It is a complete taste of the divine that unites rather than separates—and this deliciously profound experience comes from cultivating and trusting their inner experience, not from debating theology and pinpointing external differences. It’s an experience of being connected to everyone and everything in the universe to such a degree that peace and nonviolence are the most natural things in the world. (This is exactly the kind of spiritually unifying idea that inspired Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and the current Dalai Lama.)
All of which adds up to this point: When you’re exploring spirituality, be aware that authentic divine truth never separates people from each other, countries from each other, religions from each other. There is no right text or correct religion that you must believe, at the expense of all the others. There is no absolutely right God or path or practice. As modern mystic Ron Roth believes, anyone who tries to convince you that there is one right path clearly isn’t all that convinced themselves. If a tradition or belief system or teacher expands your definition of the divine, gives it some fresh air, an empowering makeover, a more accessible and body-tingling reality, drink it up. If another’s definition of the divine makes you feel like burying your head in a bag of Cheetos or urges you to burn this book in your oven, then spit it out.
In the Upanishads, the sacred Hindu texts from the seventh-century B.C.E., the divine is often referred to as neti neti (roughly translated, “not this, not this”). This term suggests that divine truth can only be found through the negation of all thoughts about it. In effect, the only way to get close to describing the divine is to describe what it’s not. But the absolute opposite is also true: The only way to describe the divine is to describe everything it is (which is, uh, everything). So even though it’s nearly impossible to capture God in words, sometimes it helps, especially at the beginning of a conscious relationship, to find a word or feeling that helps you to focus your experience of the divine. (Brilliant astrologer Rob Brezsny, author of Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia, encourages people to create their own name for their experience of the divine. My favorite of his is “The Booming Ha Ha.” A couple that I’ve created are “The Wiggling Wow” and “The Beaming You Who.” But let’s focus.) For you, the divine could be a specific deity, Buddha nature, the God of Western religion, your higher self. Or the divine could be a bit more abstract and faceless concept, like cosmic energy; something closer to home, like nature or life; more of a feeling, like a deep intuitive tingle or a profound sense of calm; an emotion like love; and so on. Choose any, choose all. Whatever it is, deepen your relationship to it. Get up in its face. Allow it to be an open concept; allow it to be free; allow it, even, to be you.

The Big G, with Breasts

There is one luscious aspect of divinity that deserves a bit (well, OK, a lot) more attention, given how She wears red better than any other and is a huge inspiration for this book. The Goddess. The Divine Feminine. The Big G with Breasts. The one who has, religiously speaking, really gotten the shaft. And this planet’s only now beginning to realize that nobody puts Mama in the corner.