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.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

The Vultures and The Lightning

“For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Where there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather”. Matthew 24:27-8

Copyright: ottoduplessis / 123RF Stock Photo

Are we vultures? And, if so, what are the carcasses around which we gather?

So much of our behaviour is an expression of our insecurity about our own worth - a desperate quest for reassurance or to prove ourselves.

Let’s take religion. When we were at school we were taught that 2 + 2 = 4. We were shown evidence that it was true. We retain that knowledge and use it, but we don’t have to be reminded on a regular basis that it is true. The knowledge is secure with us and we are free to only call it to mind when we need it. But if we believe in God and we go to church on a Sunday and are told God loves us, do we believe it? Can we be shown evidence? Is it knowledge that is secure with us? If it were we would not have to keep going to church every Sunday to be told the same thing. Where we don’t trust that something is true, we may feel the need for it to be repeated to us on a regular basis.

Now we may not believe in God, but still we doubt our own worth. We become depressed or we try to prove that we are worthy by the the clothes we wear, the car we drive, our score at golf or the fact that we give money to the needy or fight against injustice. But this world of the ego trying to prove itself is a dead world. It’s a carcass. Not because there is anything wrong with pretty clothes or playing golf or helping people, but because it doesn’t fill the underlying need.

Love is life. Our insecurity is our inability to love ourselves. If we could love ourselves we wouldn’t need to be told every week that God loves us. We wouldn’t have anything to prove.

There is a famous Chinese proverb : “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.”

If we are unable to love ourselves then we are like that hungry man who doesn’t know how to fish. We are dependent on other people (or other things) to feed our hunger. And, unable to take care of ourselves, we may be easily led by those who throw us the occasional fish.

While there is a famous story of Jesus feeding the multitude with two fish, I think his main aim was not to feed us but to teach us to fish - to liberate us from our insecurity about our worth, and thus to unleash in us the life-giving love that motivated him. The church that grew up in his name - providing reassurances of our worth which need to be endlessly repeated - is just a fish market.

Copyright: madrugadaverde / 123RF Stock Photo

This is why he gives the above prophecy about a time when we will achieve that liberation. He presents it as a decentralised process. Something which is visible across the whole world - from the east to the west. It won’t be a case of people gathering around some leader. It is only around the carcasses - the dead ideas and those who purvey them - that the vultures flock.

For me, none of this is supernatural, even if Jesus had a tendency to use poetic language which conjures up fairy story images.

At some point in our history we arrived at the concept of idealism. We divided forms of behaviour into good and evil and sought by self-discipline and social pressure to foster the former and restrain the latter. In so doing we unwittingly undermined our unconditional self-acceptance, and thus our capacity for love of others. To the extent that ideal standards became oppressive to us as our capacity to love ourselves and thus be generous to others was eroded, we felt compelled to retaliate against them, sometimes being driven to acts of extreme cruelty. The more we suffered from feelings of guilt the more selfish we became (selfishness being the natural self-directedness of the suffering or embattled individual) and the more selfish we became the more guilty we felt and the more guilty we felt  the more selfish we became. It was a negative feedback loop.

Central to Jesus’ philosophy was “judge not that thou be not judged”. This is a call to self-acceptance. When he says we are not to judge, he doesn’t say that we are to exclude ourselves from this attitude of non-judgement. It is we, not God, who are holding ourselves unworthy. If God is love and love is held back in us by our lack of self-acceptance, our tendency to feel ourselves to be unworthy, then the greatest good is achieved by giving up striving to be good and holding ourselves accountable when we fail.

So how could this dramatic liberation of humanity (“the coming of the Son of Man”) take place? We arrived at this point via the accumulated damage inflicted by a negative feedback loop that began before the dawn of civilisation. The fact that we have lived with it so long without it destroying us shows just what a powerful and resilient force love is in us. Replace the negative feedback loop with a positive feedback loop, which works with what is strongest in us - our underlying capacity for love - rather than against it, and the kind of wall-to-wall awakening of humanity from the nightmare of history symbolised in Jesus’ prophecy doesn’t seem so inconceivable. At the moment the world seems very polarised, but we are driven to our angry condemnation of others by our desperate need to distract ourselves from our own self-critical voice. We will find that the more we come to accept ourselves, the more accepting we will become of others, and in time even the bitterest and bloodiest of conflicts will cease as it becomes clear that there is nothing to gain by shutting oneself out of paradise.

Copyright: Irochka / 123RF Stock Photo

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