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.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

A Big "What If?"

Copyright: alexmit / 123RF Stock Photo

What if there were a framework of understanding which could unite the perceptions of the mystic, the fundamentalist and the atheist into a single whole?

This is very much a “what if” experiment. Ride with it and see where it leads. For simplicity’s sake I’ll state speculations as if they were fact.

The universe is made up of energy. Matter is a structured form of that energy. Energy is eternal. It changes form, but it never ceases to exist. 

Energy is conscious, but it is a formless consciousness, lacking the kinds of limitation needed for the structured consciousness we call thought or sensation.

The universe is a place where structure arises from formless energy. The ways in which this happens may be mysterious to us, but our existence is evidence of just how complex and meaningful the products of that process can be. Apparently there are more connections in our brain than there are atoms in the universe. We’re pretty complex.

We are highly structured systems of energy which persist for an average of about seventy years. We have bodies which shape raw consciousness in a way we experience as physical sensations, ranging from pleasure to pain. And we have a brain which shapes raw consciousness into images and words.

The universe is a meaningful place. Complexity arises through relationship and meaning lies in relationship. The meaning of any part is defined by its relationship to the whole.

As individuals we sometimes identify with our separateness and sometimes with our connectedness to the whole. When we are in a loving relationship we identify more with the bond we share with the other person than we do with our seperate existence. Or an artist may think more of the meaning which is coming into the world through his art than he does of where his next meal is coming from.

We are not just our body. We are also meaning. We are not just the instrument, but also the music which plays on that instrument.

But we have a problem. To a significant degree we have become cut off from our source of meaning.

The creative principle of the universe is manifested by the emergence of more complex wholes from a meaningful relationship between less complex parts. This looks like the part selflessly surrendering to the needs of the whole.

We know that we are selfish, not selfless, so are we in a state of rebellion against the theme of the universe, against that which created us?

It is within the context of this question that religion arose.

Aware of our sinful, i.e. selfish, nature we could not look upon the face of God, i.e. acknowledge the theme of the universe which gave birth to us. We feared God and sought redemption through sacrifice and prayer.

To the degree that we were insecure, we needed the comfort provided by picturing a God with a human face.

ROME, ITALY - MARCH 12, 2016: The fresco God the Creator by unknown artist from end of 19. cent. in the church Chiesa di Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore. Copyright: sedmak / 123RF Stock Photo

In the Old Testament there is an emphasis on laws. If selfishness were not to lead to the collapse of the society there needed to be laws. Such laws are a compromise. They don’t solve the underlying problem, and they are based on the prejudices prevalent in the society, hence the absence of such current day laws as : “Thou shalt not own slaves.”

The New Testament seeks to address the underlying problem of the need for redemption from the selfish state into a state in which we love our neighbour as our self. That is to end the separation of humans and God.

The Bible relates stories. Our state of insecurity determines our relationship to those stories. Just as our insecurity may require God to have a human face, so it may require the stories related in the Bible to be literally true.

What matters in a story is its meaning. We read fictional stories and respond to them as if they were real. Do we weep for Little Nell? Or do we weep for ourselves, because we know what loss is like? We fear Dracula, not because vampires are real, but because we fear death, or something worse than death.

The stories we read in the Bible are profoundly meaningful, because they are stories about what we fear and about what we crave most deeply. We fear that we may lose that which makes the suffering of life bearable, and we hope to find that which redeems us from our state of fear and trembling in the face of the absolute.

We could argue forever about whether or not a story is literally true. A fundamentalist will insist that Jesus was born of a virgin, walked on water and rose from the dead. An atheist will insist that all of these things are impossible.

Meaning is to a story what the soul is to the body. If we get too caught up in the worldly - and whether or not something happened literally is a worldly question - then we can lose that which has a higher value. In meaning we find the transcendent. Through meaning we participate in the eternal.

Having separated ourselves from the worldly to find the meaning, we then come back to the world to make it real. What matters is not whether Jesus fed the hungry with seven loaves and a fish, but whether we ourselves feed the hungry.

KRAKOW, POLAND - DECEMBER 19, 2010; Christmas Eve for poor and homeless on the Central Market in Cracow. Every year the group Kosciuszko prepares the greatest eve in the open air in Poland. Copyright: praszkiewicz / 123RF Stock Photo

Selfishness is the knot that needs to be untied for us to feel at home in the universe that gave birth to us, for us to be re-united with God. Selfishness is the natural self-directedness of the insecure or otherwise suffering individual. Hit your thumb with a hammer and you’ll have trouble thinking about anything else but your thumb. In the same way, our insecurity turns us inwards. It can be a negative feedback loop. We behave selfishly. We feel guilty about behaving selfishly. The pain of the guilt directs our attention even more strongly toward our self. This makes us even more selfish. Thus the knot tightens.

Assurances that God forgives our sins may ease the problem, but they are founded on faith rather than rational understanding.

If we try cultivating unconditional self-acceptance and find that it produces a better result than trying to force ourselves to be less selfish, or punishing ourselves, then we learn through our own direct experience what it means to find redemption.

The relationship between Hell and Heaven can be understood in the relationship between the body and meaning. 

The body makes suffering possible. Meaning makes that suffering bearable. Pleasure is experienced in the satisfaction of bodily needs or the easing of bodily suffering.  The psychological insecurity which comes from being cut off from meaning may interfere with our ability to feel satiated by the satisfaction of these needs.

What is bliss? It isn’t a thought, though it may accompany a thought. It isn’t a physical sensation, though it may accompany a physical sensation. Bliss is loss of self-consciousness. Bliss is when we are so enraptured by something that we forget ourselves.

If the universe is conscious energy, perhaps bliss is it’s default state. The limitation provided by a body and mind increases its ability to manifest meaning, but carries with it the price tag of suffering, something which can be increased or decreased depending on the thoughts that form in that mind. So, from bliss we come and to bliss we will go. And while we are alive, the secret to bliss is love, the meaningful connection that allows us to forget ourselves in a union like that from which we came. This may be love with another person or love of an activity.

So the concept of eternal life is one of identification. Do we identify with the body or ego, which are temporary, or with the process in which we participate? If our consciousness is that of the universe limited by a temporary form, then we are at least as much the eternal as we are the temporal.

Concepts of life after death often revolve around the idea of the persistence of the personalty into a post-death realm, either of punishment or reward. Like the focus on stories being literally true, this is an indication of how insecurity makes us cling to what we know. We fixate on that which we can’t fully accept, and so, not truly accepting our personality we can’t imagine leaving it behind.

So let’s cultivate unconditional self-acceptance and find out whether doing so blissfully realigns us with the creative principle of the universe.

Copyright: noltelourens / 123RF Stock Photo

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