The Tao of Surprises



Filmmaker William Arntz, the creator of What the BLEEP do We Know!?, and mystic visionary Deirdre Hade, the author of The (not so) Little Book of Surprises, will be speaking at East West Bookshop in Seattle on Saturday, September 9, 7-8:30pm. For more information, please visit

Ask 100 people if they like a surprise, and 99 will look at you askance and squeak out “maybe.” They’re not sure if you just asked that so you could surprise them with … … with … who knows what?

But you have their attention. For surprises run the gamut from the horrible to the divine. And it is the latter of these two that garners our attention.

Awakening always comes as a surprise. When Gautama the pre-buddha decided to say “%!&# it!” and have a wee nip of milk under the Bodhi tree, the last thing he expected (for he had tried everything) was enlightenment. Surprise! When Eckhart Tolle decided to end his miserable life because “he couldn’t stand himself” and then wondered “Who is it that can’t stand who?” he was not expecting an awakening so profound that it would take two years of living on park benches to integrate what happened. Surprise!

You see surprise is the unsung hero of enlightenment.

And it’s not just for the lofty ones. Everyone can be surprised because everyone is just who they are, and a surprise is always not that. It is a moment of not me. And since transformation is the name of the game and moving from who I am to whatever I’m gonna be is transformation, its easy to see that transformation is always a surprise.

So how did I come upon this Tao of Surprises? By accident of course. I was reading through transcripts of Deirdre Hade’s teachings and pulling quotes for our new book. Not with anything particular in mind, just the quotes that tickled my fancy. Looking them all over I began ruminating on what they had in common and, you guessed it, it was the surprise. Saying things that we’ve heard before, but now in a new unexpected way:

“That Mystical World – that’s where we find the light. But its also the chrysalis of coming undone. If you’re going to embark on a journey of coming undone, you damn well better have your ducks in a row, because it could be like “splat” on the windshield.” 
 -Page 24 – The (not so) Little Book of Surprises

Yeah, splat… Then I remembered the research I had done for What the BLEEP Do We Know!? and how the brain and in fact our whole chemical nature changes with a surprise. Neuroplasticity is way up, allowing our brain to rewire in an instant. That’s transformation, and as was said earlier, that’s the name of game.

So, assuming you don’t want to hire someone to shadow you all day and jump out and say “boo,” how do you surprise yourself ? In Castaneda’s Journey to Ixtlan he talks about “disrupting one’s routines.” Simply put, you are the collection of what you regularly do. So do what you don’t regularly do. Disrupt your habits:

• If you have coffee in the morning, have tea.
• If you kiss your mate on the cheek before leaving, fall on one knee and kiss their hand.
• At lunch put your fork down between bites.
• Drive home from work a different way. (And make that decision in a moment on the journey).

Try it. Who knows, the old self might just be splat on the windshield.

Go here to listen to an audio interview with Deirdre and Will!


About Author

William Arntz started his professional career as a research laser physicist, working on Star Wars high-energy lasers. He then moved on to software, writing AutoSys, which is currently in use by most Fortune 500 companies. Next he created, produced and directed the film "What the BLEEP Do We Know!?" Currently, he has created and released "The (not so) Little Book of Surprises" with his wife, Deirdre Hade, and photographer Endre Balogh.

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