06/19/2014 01:27 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Rick Springfield: The Journey Is Never Over

For It's About The Words & Conversations, Rick talks passionately about his lifetime spiritual exploration and how two books have served as lifelong reference guides.


Rick: A book that that has been instrumental in my life is Psycho-Cybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz (1960).

(Note: Maltz is a cosmetic surgeon and the first researcher to explain how the self-image has control over an individual's ability to achieve and be happy. He noticed that changing the physical image in some created an entirely new person while others felt the surgery made absolutely no difference).

"Maltz viewed it as it's in the person's mind how they look and basically what you think is who you are. "

Howard: When did you come across it?

Rick: When I was 23 or 24, around 1974.

I had just left the managers who brought me to America from Australia and I had nothing going on -- no record company, no friends. I was alone for the first time in an apartment in the middle of Hollywood. This book helped me focus on where I wanted to go. It showed me that I could get there if I wanted to -- that it's just a matter of persistence and believing.

Howard: How did you "look at life" before you were influenced by this type of writing?

Rick: Once I decided what I wanted to do, I put my whole energy into it. In Australia, everything just started working. I had an understanding of "if you want something you just have to see it and believe in it and not take no for an answer."

When you believe and know that you'll get there, you can take the downtimes.

When I left my managers it all kind of fell apart -- I lost my mojo, you know? Coming to America and being alone was the first opportunity to look around to see if I'd messed up or not. That is why that book made such an impact. It was about me believing in what I wanted to do.

Howard: Have you referenced back to it on any kind of regular basis?

Rick: I do every day and I also go back to Think and Grow Rich (1937) by Napoleon Hill who was an Andrew Carnegie protégé. He actually spoke with Edison, Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell, John Wanamaker and all these amazing men and women. Carnegie said 'find out why they are successful.'

Although it's called Think and Grow Rich it's actually a spiritual, philosophical book because it's not talking about 'you have to make money' it's talking about 'you have to fulfill your life.'

It's about having a solid goal and focus and believing in it. He actually talks very deeply about the spiritual aspect of it.

Howard: Are there still times when you very consciously say "I'm still trying to achieve that," whatever it might be?

Rick: Absolutely. I think the journey is never over and I feel sometimes it hasn't even begun. I suffer from depression so that's always a battle for me. The whole spiritual side has helped me because I understand there is a struggle and the struggle helps you focus.

Howard: Do you find that the struggle on the spiritual side contributes to your depression or is that something totally different?

Rick: Yes, it's a part of it and it is part of its own thing. I found out about four years into being successful that the material success wasn't going to fix anything like I thought it would. I realized it was a spiritual thing at the heart of it all -- it wasn't to do with achieving. Achieving is a sign post, that's all.

I'd still do what I do if I didn't get paid and that's really the key. It's the constant, spiritual search I'm focused on and I would say everything I write now has to do with that pretty much. I have songs and a novel that came out in May (Magnificent Vibrations) that are humorous but it harkens back to all this stuff.

Howard: What you said earlier -- that the journey just goes on all the time -- that's what resonates the most with me. At 48 years of age I've learned the whole idea of trying to "figure stuff out" doesn't stop. Every time I've reached a place of "better understanding myself and my life," I realize there are still a ton of unanswered questions.

I ask "Do I really feel more peaceful around whatever that was I think I've come to recognize?" And when I realize I am still not satisfied with where I am at in my understanding, it's both completely exhilarating and totally frustrating!

Rick: Exactly.

Howard: Do you have people in your life that you can express yourself to and move with spiritually or is it more of an individual journey?

Rick: I can talk things out with a very few people but in the end, it's me working out my spiritual connection. There's no one else that can help with that. I can be kind of talked off the ledge by a well-meaning soul but no one knows what's going on in my head. No one can really deal with that except me.

I've been through years of therapy and it didn't fix anything. About all it did was help me identify some of the demons so you're not unaware of what's chasing you. It's a very personal issue for me and this is where meditation helps me out. It is very important for me.

I was raised a Christian but have looked at other religions, some of the Eastern things. I was into Taoism for a while and Confucianism. Just different approaches and some have really stayed with me.

Howard: And here is where I find life so remarkable. You are a little older than me, we were raised on different continents and have led completely different lives. Yet our journeys share similar "searching" steps in our processes. I took a transcendental meditation course when I turned 21 or 22 when I felt lost and I started to access new ways of thinking and ideas through books.

I wanted to learn other ways of coping and new philosophies contained in practises I was unfamiliar with such as Buddhism. I read a few things including a great book called The Art Of Happiness. It all gave me the chance to think through things in a different way.

Rick: It opens up possibilities and you don't get stuck in the religious dogma because you're not raised with these ideas. You can look at them with fresh eyes. Whereas it's really hard for me to look at Christianity with fresh eyes because I was indoctrinated with all the phrases and beliefs and I think it's really hard for me to get around that.

But it's still there in me. If I was on a crashing plane, I'm sure I would get on my knees and pray!

But meditation has really helped me and the great thing about meditation is that I don't ask for anything. Whereas when I pray I always ask for things! (Laughs).

"Please help, please do this."

Howard: Do you still pray?

Rick: Yeah I do actually.

Howard: Because there's this higher being that you are connecting to?

Rick: No, it's a comfort thing because it harkens back to a better time in my life. But I think we are all connected throughout the universe and that it's just one entity.

However you can reach that spiritual spot -- some do it after years of drug and alcohol abuse and go to AA and connect spiritually, some are born there and some have to go through a traumatic point in their life where they have to start looking a little deeper than Mom and Dad's religion.

Howard: You have mentioned that you are on a journey. If you could define it -- are you searching for an inner peace that one day you are hoping to be able to clearly define and have that feeling of contentment? Or is the search bigger than that?

I ask because there are people who don't understand what that means, "A search for inner peace." They tend to go 'Yeah, yeah, it sounds like way out there stuff.'

Rick: No, it's not at all. It's really part of what drives us every day. It's just all part of life. It's not a separate thing in a box that you go "Okay, once I get that, I'll be good spiritually" and just get on with the rest of my life.

I believe I'll never achieve it and I don't think you do either. It is connected with the fact that we realize we're going to die and there has to be some kind of reckoning of sorts before that and I think that's why we go more and more insane as we get older.

I used to think it was true 'older and wiser' but it's not, it's 'older and more insane.'

Howard: Ha-ha...

Rick: Because death is getting closer, you know. (laughter)

Howard: Is that why? Because you are trying to chase that thing down as you realize time is slipping away?

Rick: No. I mean the fact that we're finite beings is an element of "I have to find something more meaningful" than just getting up and going to a nine to five and drinking beer and watching football on the weekends.

It's such a huge question.

I get little glimpses of answers and I think "That's really what it is." It's a continual journey and you glean little bits of understanding maybe as a way to feel or believe and hopefully that coalesces at some point toward a firmer path.

But not always.

Howard: What you just said is a perfect summation of how many of us feel. For me it took until my very late thirties before I felt comfortable that I actually understood the next steps needed to move toward a better understanding of who I am and want to be.

Was there a certain time in your life where you kind of settled in a bit and said 'Okay, I'm starting to understand who I am and now I can move more confidently."

Rick: I think it is your thirties because in your twenties, you're still living outwardly, you're still thinking it's all about the world and I think the thirties is when you start to turn inward. For me it was again waking up and going 'Holy shit! I'm going to die at some point.' So you start to turn in and look at stuff and understand there is "way more going on."

I don't know what it is for women but I'm pretty sure it is the thirties for men where they are past the angst of the twenties of having to prove themselves with other guys and it becomes more about, "Okay, this is about life -- it's not about personal relationships or whether I can beat that guy up or drink more than him or steal that guy's girlfriend" or whatever. It becomes personal and internally driven and that's when life takes on real meaning.

Howard: What is it that you are focused on right now in terms of trying to move forward? Is there any one thing or is it more just a bigger idea of contributing and kindness and friendships and things like that.

Rick: You know being a better person has really become a big issue for me lately. I realized that I haven't always been that. And connecting spiritually -- stronger and firmer. When the hard stuff happens, you keep that in mind. Being open to change.

I think a lot about writing. That's really the thing I love to do the most. And if I don't do something in a day, I've been haunted by the fact that we have what, ten thousand thoughts through the day and 95 per cent of them are the same as yesterday? So I always try and find new things to think about and address. That really opens you up as a writer. I can write a lot of what I feel and it helps put it into clearer perspective.

Howard: The idea of very consciously wanting to be a better person, has that started to resonate internally with you yet? Have you felt that change within you?

Rick: Yes very much so. I am a very different person then I was in my twenties. I'm more aware of the repercussions of not doing the right thing. And it's not just a matter of getting caught or not getting caught or suffering immediately for it or not, it's -- you're haunted by the fact that you didn't do the right thing, so I'm looking to not have that many of those happen.

Howard: I am sitting here thinking how strange it is that there have been such "like steps" in our processes, our need to search.

Rick: You know, there's a reason you chose to write about this kind of stuff because you are interested in it and I think you hook up with the people who are also interested in it.

Howard: I purposely don't do a ton of homework on those I am interviewing because I would rather it be just a natural conversation like two friends sitting around talking about life.

I had no idea of your focus on spirituality and your search and here we are...

Rick: I truly believe stuff moves in other areas and fields. I absolutely believe in that as a very firm philosophy that has come out of all the stuff I have read. In my life, I've seen things move, and it wasn't under the hand of a human being.

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