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

Friday, 5 February 2016

The Oasis : A Parable

Copyright: Satori / 123RF Stock Photo

There was once a people who lived happily at an oasis in the desert. There was plenty of food and water and the people were full of love for each other.

But one day a curse fell upon this tribe. It came with the wind which whispered in an ear here and an ear there a simple message : “You’re not good enough.”

No-one told anyone else about the voice that they heard. And each privately argued back against it. The more they fought this inner battle the less attention they had for each other, and so gradually the warmth of their love grew cold.

There seemed no local answer to their growing problem. And so, one by one, they were driven out into the desert in search of an answer. They were driven as a slave is driven with the crack of a whip across their back. And the name of that whip was You Are Not Good Enough.

Some lingered at the oasis, some set up camp at various distances from it, but those most cursed walked far out into the desert. Thirst, hunger and the blazing heat of the sun took their toll. Some grew weak, some went mad and some thrived by killing and stealing water and food.

Horror stories of life in the desert filtered back to the people at the oasis from those who had set up their tents along the way. Some of the tent dwellers would return to the oasis to replenish their supplies of food and water, but the further the tents were from the oasis, the shorter they would be of such supplies. So news would come often from the tents close by, but only occasionally would they hear from the outlying communities, and the stories were blood-curdling.

“We must help them,” the people of the oasis cried. So they gathered together supplies of food and water and maps of how to get back to the oasis. And they set out on an expedition to help those who needed these things the most.

But when they arrived at their destination, the desert dwellers - crazed by hunger and thirst and the blazing heat of the sun and embattled by constant fighting with each other - turned on their would be rescuers and killed and ate them.

“That didn’t go so well,” said those left at the oasis, when the news was relayed back to them by tent dwellers coming in for supplies. Then an idea occurred to one of them. “Why don’t some of you guys move back here. We can help you take out more supplies to those of you who decide to stay where you are. And then we can work together to get more supplies to the next lot of tents and maybe some of them would like to come back and help to get a steadier supply of food and water to those further out.

One day a man, not much more than a living skeleton, caked with blood, crawled up to an outlying tent. His plan was to steal some food and water, but he didn’t have the energy to do more than collapse. Hands reached out and picked him up and carried him into the shade. Cool water met his lips. The next day, when he opened his eyes, he knew that he must still be out in the heat of the sun, hallucinating as usual. Around him was a crowd of people, laughing and joking as they put up new tents and unpacked supplies. All of them were wearing garments emblazoned with the message “Everyone Is Good Enough”.

When his strength was restored, the desert dweller headed back out from whence he had come. He was carrying a message.

“It must have been a mirage,” they told him. But they couldn’t explain his state of health.

“They have enough food and water for us all,” he insisted. “And they can lead us back to the oasis.”

Some were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and came to the tent city. Others died in the desert. But soon the people of the oasis were as one once more and preparing a united effort to find more sources of food and water.

*     *     *

It’s easy to lose hope. I was reading recently about people who make anonymous threats over the internet to rape or kill people who happen to express a view contrary to their own. And then there are real murders and rapes and terrorism. And increasing incidence of suicide and chronic depression. All of these problems are expressions of deep psychological insecurity. If we are secure in ourselves - we have unconditional self-acceptance - then we want only good things for others as well as ourselves.

And so I came up with this story of people wandering away from an oasis. When we look at those who have been most damaged by life - those who are defeated or so embittered they live only to inflict suffering on others - the problem seems too big to be solvable. How can all of those people be helped when it can take many years for any one individual and even then they need to want to be helped.

I think that our hope lies in those things which can foster mental health in ourselves - unconditional self-acceptance - and a sense of fellowship in society - through encouraging a spirit of mutual acceptance. 

A major part of this is renouncing the idea of using mockery or shame or appeals to the conscience in order to try to persuade someone to do what we want. If we feel the need to make someone else feel bad in order to promote our interests or beliefs or to hold someone else up to distain then we haven’t yet realised what the roots of loving behaviour are. You can’t cure a dog of rabies by beating it. The violent and crazy behaviour of the desert dwellers comes from want. The need to respond with mockery, shame or guilt-tripping is an indication that we too are desperately in need of the sustenance that is love.

But love can be found. The voice that whispers “You are not good enough” can be silenced. Forgiveness is possible. We may not be able to offer love directly to those who need it too much, lest they suck us dry. But where open, honest, spontaneous and generous communication is possible, love can grow and travel to were it is needed  most.

The distance we travel away from the oasis isn’t a physical distance, but a distance which opens up between us as individuals. Community will form where it can.

Where do we want to be led? If we allow ourselves to get too caught up in the conflict which arises in and between the most insecure, then we will, unwittingly perhaps, take them as our leaders and follow them out into the desert. If we give them only the attention we must to protect ourselves, but remember that our own wholeness and the creative bonds we have with others are most important, then we can ourselves be leaders out of the desert and back to the oasis.

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