This book is a Get Out of Jail Free card and a passport back into the playground.

The aim of this book is to set you free. But free from what? Free from neurosis. Free from the feeling that you have to obey authority. Free from emotional intimidation. Free from addiction. Free from inhibition.

The key to happiness, mental health and being the most that we can be is absolute and unconditional self-acceptance. The paradox is that many of our problems are caused by trying to improve ourselves, censor our thinking, make up for past misdeeds and struggling with our negative feelings whether of depression or aggression.

But if we consider ourselves in our entirety in this very moment, we know these things :

1. Anything we have done is in the past and cannot be changed, thus it is pointless to do anything else but accept it. No regrets or guilt.

2. While our actions can harm others, our thoughts and emotions, in and of themselves, never can. So we should accept them and allow them to be and go where they will. While emotions sometimes drive actions, those who completely accept their emotions and allow themselves to feel them fully, have more choice over how they act in the light of them.

Self-criticism never made anyone a better person. Anyone who does a “good deed” under pressure from their conscience or to gain the approval of others takes out the frustration involved in some other way. The basis for loving behaviour towards others is the ability to love ourselves. And loving ourselves unconditionally, means loving ourselves exactly as we are at this moment.

This might seem to be complacency, but in fact the natural activity of the individual is healthy growth, and what holds us back from it is fighting with those things we can’t change and the free thought and emotional experience which is the very substance of that growth.

How to Be Free is available as a free ebook from Smashwords, iBooks in some countries, Kobo and Barnes & Noble

It is also available in paperback from Lulu or Amazon for $10 US, plus postage.

The ebook version currently has received 576 ***** out of ***** ratings on U.S. iBooks.

Friday, 20 April 2012

DVD Review - DMT : The Spirit Molecule (2010)

DMT : The Spirit Molecule (2010) is a feature-length documentary about a chemical called dimethyltryptamine which is found in nearly all living organisms and which is one of the most powerful psychedelic drugs known to science. This drug has long been used by the indigenous peoples of regions of South America in their shamanic rituals. They produce a drink known as ayahuasca from a combination of plants which allow the DMT to remaining longer in the body without breaking down. Pure DMT provides a very powerful psychedelic experience, but because the substance breaks down so quickly it can't be ingested orally in its pure form but has to be smoked or injected.

But one thing which makes this such an interesting substance for the understanding of consciousness is that the body itself produces DMT naturally in particular circumstances. Though the film doesn't go into great detail about the physiology of this process and what the specific triggers are, it does suggest that this might explain our tendency to have hallucinatory experiences during fasting or sensory deprivation, and may provide a naturalistic explanation for our rich history of reports of religious visions and alien encounters.

There was a good deal of research into the effects of psychedelic drugs in the United States in the early sixties, but once their use started to spread amongst the youth culture the use of these substances was banned and research halted. Then, in the mid 90s, Dr. Rick Strassman was able to obtain government permission to do research into the effects of DMT. This film documents the results. We get to hear from people across a variety of disciplines, from mathematics to ethnobotany to religion, talk about what they feel this substance can teach us about ourselves and, perhaps, the nature of the universe. And some of the subjects of Strassman's experiment tell us what happened when they they were given DMT.

In How to Be Free I speculate about what the basis of consciousness might be and what might lie beneath our conventionally armoured ego. DMT research seems to be one way in which these questions can be explored scientifically.

While I could have done without the gimmicky linking scenes in which Joe Rogan, dressed like a character from a Raymond Chandler novel, talks to us from a retro science lab complete with 1960s-style computer in black and white footage with artificial scratches, I'd highly recommend the film as an introduction to this subject. The film was based on a book (which I haven't read) by Rick Strassman - DMT : The Spirit Molecule : A Doctor's Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences (Park Street Press, 2000). There is also a website :

Another documentary which is about to be released to cinemas which may play a significant role in challenging conventional thinking is Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield's film Chimpanzee (2012), which is this year's release from DisneyNature. Walt Disney don't have the best history when it comes to nature documentaries. Their 1958 Academy Award-winning film White Wilderness contained a now notorious sequence in which lemmings were depicted jumping off of a cliff supposedly into the Arctic Ocean. Later it was discovered that the scene was artificially staged at Bow River near downtown Calgary, and the lemmings didn't chose to jump, they were forced off of the cliff by a revolving platform. But, thankfully, times have changed and Disney no longer make their wildlife films, they buy some of the best documentaries being produced in the world and then release them under their label. Sometimes they add some cheesy narration or a sappy song by a Disney artist, but mostly the quality of the films is impeccable.

What is interesting about Chimpanzee is that it deals with the story of a young chimp who is separated from his troop and adopted by an unrelated adult male. This challenges socio-biological theories that emotional bonding and nurturing behaviour amongst animals can be explained by the genetic imperative to foster the survival of one's own genes.

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