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 593 ***** out of ***** ratings on U.S. iBooks.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Are We Aware That We Are Life Itself?

In seeking to understand ourselves there is a very useful analogy – that of water and its container. What is the essence of who we are? It is raw consciousness – the self-awareness of the life energy. Everywhere in nature this life energy expresses itself, thrusting forward to take advantage of all possibilities. Where there is fertile soil and water, life will take root and flourish, and the earth swarms with animals driven on by the life energy to feed and to mate. The life energy is an unquenchable tide that flows through us at all times. Our rational mind and our body provide the circumference of this energy. These things give it shape and give us the ability to function as a partially independent entity. We are only partially independent because we need the web of life around us to sustain us, but we can take independent action and exercise independent thought.

If we think of raw conciousness or life energy as water and our body and conscious mind or ego as the vessel which contains the water we can more easily understand the nature of anxiety and courage, and also more rationally assess the concept of life after death.

First, in looking at anxiety, lets imagine that the conscious mind or ego is a dam holding back the pressure of the water that is our life energy. We all need to use our conscious mind to establish a practical level of order in our lives. Universal consciousness can't tell us what groceries we need to buy at the shop or how to wash our underpants. We need a sense of ourselves as a separate entity and we need to be able to accumulate and store the information necessary to perform the tasks in our life. And we have to exercise self-discipline in our interactions with others. We can't simply do whatever the life energy which is our essence pushes us to do. And this tends to become more true the more we exercise that self-discipline. It is natural for life to push against the boundaries which frustrate and limit it and it is natural for it to seek pleasure and opportunities to create beyond itself, but there are times when, through our possession of a rational mind, we come to believe, rightly or wrongly, that to act directly on such impulses would be counter-productive. There are times when we have to accept frustration. And if we have no appropriate outlet for those feelings of frustration then we need to build up a psychological structure of containment. This is our armour. It is there to protect us against threats from without, but it is also there to contain that which is within and meet the threat that it poses.

The more water a dam has to hold back the stronger and more inflexible it has to be and the greater the danger if it were to collapse. And so it is with our armour – our ego-structure (which may also express itself physically through a stiffening of the musculature which aids the holding in of powerful emotions). While, for most of us, the armour is about holding things in, this is not always the case. Some do not exercise much self-control. In the extreme case of a warlord who might spend his time raping and pillaging and slaughtering we can see that there isn't much holding back, but his behaviour is armoured behaviour. The aim of the armour in this case it to protect against open communication with others. It is only possible to mistreat people if we are closed off to loving communication with them. What would drive such a tyrant would still be the life force, which has no discriminatory powers. How the life force expresses itself in action is dependent on the thinking of the individual. Where we see behaviour which is self-destructive or destructive of others it generally it is the life force operating in the service of a lie. The mind acts as a channel for the life force and the positive or negative nature of the resulting behaviour depends on the mind's capacity for truthfulness.

Sometimes we identify ourselves more with the dam and sometimes more with the water that it contains. When we feel anxiety we are identifying with the dam. Anxiety is a feeling which alerts us to the possibility that we might not be able to maintain that dam. We think that maybe the dam will break and we will lose control of ourselves. Or we think that some threat from outside will lead to the damaging or destruction of the dam. In the extreme it may be death itself which we fear, which is the final end of the dam. While the ultimate answer to anxiety may be to learn to identify more with the water than with the dam, anything which allows us to let more water out at the top of the dam decreases our susceptibility to anxiety. Any cathartic release of pent-up emotions eases the pressure on the dam and makes us less prone to feelings of anxiety. We can be a dam that holds back the water or we can be a swimmer in a peaceful ocean.

Anxiety is like pain, it is a messenger that alerts us to threats. But it can, at times, exceed its useful function. On the other hand there are individuals who show remarkable courage in the face of over-whelming adversity. There are martyrs who have gone calmly to their deaths. And there are many examples of soldiers who completed their missions while facing almost certain death. These are only the most commonly considered kinds of courage. Courage takes many forms. But how can we explain such extraordinary courage? I believe that the source of courage is the realisation (on some intuitive level) that we are not merely alive. We are life itself. Life, unlike our individual ego, is eternal and unconquerable. When we are divided against ourselves, engaged in a war to hold back aspects of our own nature, then we are weakened and more prone to anxiety. But within us flows the unquenchable tide of existence. We talk of enthusiasm. The word literally means “the God within". When we are filled with enthusiasm for any activity we forget to be afraid because we are in the grip of something bigger and deeper than fear. Not that this may not be something destructive, as in the example of the warlord. I'm sure that it is not only those whose minds are characterised by wisdom who are, at least at times, capable of identifying more with the life force itself than with the armour. To learn to do so is not an alternative to learning to think truthfully, but the two skills can work well together.

So what of life after death? In contemplating this concept it is helpful to think not of a dam but of a glass full of water. Our body and our conscious mind are the glass and the life force of raw consciousness is the water which fills it. The water is the same water which fills all other humans and all other living things. What gives it its unique shape and identity is the glass. So what happens at death? The glass is broken. The water loses its unique identity, but it is, as it has always been, something eternal. So the concept of a personal after-life for the individual makes no sense, and yet we find our deepest meaning and capacity for courage in an acknowledgement that this life is a fleeting expression of something greater and eternal, a temporary twig that grows out of a tree that lives forever.

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