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.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Thoughts About "God"

Reading the Bible has led me to think about some of the ways people think about God.

Some say that God is perfect. What does it mean for something of which there is only one to be perfect? Where there are two of something we can look for flaws and decide that one is closer to perfection than the other.

Why is this relevant? If our view of God is of the absolute grounding of reality as something perfect, then this becomes a mirror for our own very personal conceptions about what is or is not perfect in ourselves or others. We may become less accepting of our own apparent flaws or those of others if we believe there is a grounding of perfection from which we and they have deviated. The Bible contains many laws expressing what is or is not considered acceptable to God, yet why should the absolute grounding of reality give a shit?

Religion is a human institution with a human basis and a human purpose. The purpose of religious laws, as with any laws, is to try to resolve or prevent conflict in society. It doesn’t begin with something abstract, but contemplation of the abstract may give the lawmaker some of the required distance to make laws for the common good rather than his own. What we find in the early parts of the Bible are flawed attempts which we may look on critically from our own position, but we would probably find similar flaws in most indigenous systems of law - a mix of wisdom, superstition, intolerance and brutality.

My own definition of “God” is the creative principle of the universe which we see in operation in the increasing complexity of life’s development and which operates in human affairs as love. Something holds energy in the meaningful pattern that we call “matter”. And some principle allows some of that matter to organise itself in what we call “life”. The comparable meaningful arrangements of humans are what we call “families” and “tribes” and “corporations” and “societies”. What holds these together is love, i.e. open, honest, spontaneous and generous communication. Sure tribal selfishness may be a motivating force, and all groups are diluted by intra-group selfishness, but if there were no love the group would fall apart.

We put a human face on impersonal forces with which we are in a relationship. We think of nature as a “she” for example. This can be helpful, but also misleading. We may be Mother Nature’s children, but she won’t necessarily protect us the way our real mother would, in fact she may slaughter us without hesitation.

If “God” is the creative principle of the universe, then we have everything to be grateful to “him” for, but a principle doesn’t need us as individuals. This is not a “Father” who cares one way or the other what happens to us. It is we who care what happens to ourselves and, hopefully others, and only we who need to care.

One thing we see in the Bible is that God is used as a conceptual tool for widening one’s concept of self-interest. God is presented as a personification of what Hindus and Buddhists call Karma. If you behave selfishly, recklessly, dishonestly or against the legitimate interests of others, God will bring you down, but if you act generously, honestly and practice frugality, he will protect your long term interests even if you may be persecuted by others in the short term.

Of course, in reality, there are no guarantees. You could live a spotless life and get some terrible disease.

But the principle of enlightened self-interest is still the best basis for guiding one’s life. Don’t trade current pleasure for future pain, and recognise that, as long as we are social beings, our wellbeing is nested in the wellbeing of those around us. If we sow enmity in those around us, then we will also reap it. And those who profit by an unjust society will have to live within walls which prevent them from enjoying the warmth of its community. We don’t need to believe in a personal God to come to these conclusions, but historically many have found it useful.

They say that we are made in God’s image. Clearly we are not omnipresent, omniscient or invisible. So in what way might this be true? We are not just products of the creative principle of the universe, we are expressions of it. It operates through us as surely as it does through anything else which exists. Our capacity for reason gives it a whole new level on which it can operate, through culture and technology.

Our sense of alienation from God, that God is to be feared and that we are to be ashamed of ourselves, comes from our awareness that our creative potential - our expression of love - is held in check by our selfishness. But our shame is not appropriate. 

The creative principle doesn’t operate by forcing chaos into a preconceived orderly mould. The natural intrinsic potential unfolds through spontaneously occurring connections based on the mutuality of self-interest. (We can see this most clearly in ecosystems which are balanced, orderly networks built from the individual self-interest of the constituent organisms.) 

To decide what is good and try to force it into being is the root of evil. The ends don’t justify the means. It is by embracing healthy means and not thinking too much about what the ends will be that we become faithful expressions of the creative  principle. 

And this applies also to our relationship to ourselves. If we fight with ourselves because we don’t conform to an ideal we will only make ourselves more self-obsessed. But look for ways in which our own longterm self-interest aligns with that of others and we see the seeds of a more creative way of living. If we concentrate on fostering what works, we may find that what wasn’t working has disappeared while our attention was elsewhere.

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