Towards Freedom – Why?

About the Author

Alan holds a Ph.D. in Chemical Physics which he gained whilst studying at The Royal Institution of Great Britain. For over a decade he was a Lecturer / Senior Lecturer in Physical Chemistry at Imperial College London.  He has more than twenty years’ experience of lasers, optics and spectroscopy. He currently exists in a geek / yogi superposition state and jokes that he is a kind of quantum yogi.

He has been exposed to Budō, shamanism, Buddhist literature, Toltec teachings, I Ching and esoteric philosophy. He has meditated extensively doing Rāja yoga and dreaming practice. He has studied widely using his experience as a researcher to guide him.

He lives with his wife in a farm worker’s cottage in the Surrey / Hampshire borders.

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“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms…”

Henry David Thoreau

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Why

This is not for those who are happy, nor is it for those who are sad. It is for those who, despite all the shiny screens in the world, all that social interaction on line or otherwise, have a sense of something missing. Quite what that is, is difficult to say, yet that gap, that vacuum, that hole looms unspoken and somehow large. Because it is missing it is intangible but somehow near. It is not always present though its presence always lurks. 

One might imagine that an elixir of happiness could quench it or a bucket list of things to do and see. Maybe it is to be found in social and career success, a new house, a shiny car? Perhaps all one needs is a panacea for stress, a brief glimpse of serenity from time to time. The ideal of a deep font of eternal joy beckons unattainable, a bliss never to be consummated. But such as this must lie forever beyond reach, it in itself is an illusory goal, a yardstick by which to measure failure and breed discontent at non-attainment thereof. The advertised nirvana or heaven fall short of the copywriter’s brief. All that awaits is a hell of sorts and a lumpy dissatisfaction to be the eternal source of complaint and gripe. 

This is for those with questions and for those who are sufficiently dissatisfied with being dissatisfied all the time to actually feel an urge to do something about. It starts with a question; surely there must be more to life than this?

This is a dawn question, a question that comes from deep within, perhaps from that still small voice so often drowned in pass times. It is question of stirring, a ripple however feint that can be silenced temporarily with booze or drugs or sex. But after it is still there, nagging. One can try to run from the question and pretend.

This is for those who have had enough of pretending and of lying. It is a book for those who are sick of being fake and living by façade and stories about their façade told to other façades at endless encounters. It is for those keen to go past the face value, the social chit chat, to find a sense of at least some reality.  It is there with reality that a sense of equanimity can be found. It does not sound so tempting as bliss, but I’ll wager that as a target it is more realistic. This equanimity is a state less perturbed, more centred and far less oscillatory. It is not coloured by judging others nor emotive when the world isn’t how it is supposed to be. It demands nothing and asks very little, as such it does not want for much and whatever need arises is more readily met. It is not a state of desire or greed and as such is seldom thirsty and hungry. Equanimity is a sense of satisfaction, though in no way smug. This calm in the storm, this eye of the hurricane, is the non-material centre that eludes. It does not beckon, yet it, in its near nothingness is the filler of holes, the plugger of gaps and voids.

With such a sense of balance there is nothing missing any longer, because whatever you need is already with you. One sees clearly and real.

Equanimity is not an absolute, a perfection. It is a relative and with increasing equanimity dissatisfaction or suffering fades; it does not vanish at the waving of a wand or a signing of a therapy cheque. It is hard won and with each increasing measure it carries with it a bounty of peace and occasional serenity. There is no fanfare of trumpets simply a growing into. Like a new set of clothes, it fits and with each growth a skin is shed for further expansion. It cannot be rushed for rush and equanimity do not correlate, rush is dissatisfaction after all.

At first there are only glimpses, ephemeral and passing. In time these extend and blend. One cannot sustain equanimity indefinitely, but one can increase its longevity and relative permanence. Like a recovering addict one has to leave behind, anger, jealousy, lust, desire and ambition. There remains an addict’s itch for these non-temperate states.  What will life be like without my soap opera friends? How will I know that I am still alive? The personal climate will remain stormy and turbulent for a long time with only brief interludes, in time these coalesce.

In order to seek this state one must be genuinely ready for change and radical change at that. Even a tiny episode of equanimity enhances the quality of life. It is a state that makes sense. To be permeated with it is the destination and such permeation is a marathon endeavour; one that can only be done one step at a time. And of course, by the time one has a modicum of equanimity one ascertains with clarity that there is in fact no destination, only journey. And like all good journeys into the unknown, there is plenty to see and learn along the way.

So, if you have had enough of where you are at and are fed up of the pendant ghost of something missing, perhaps this is for you. Reading alone will only go so far, this is not theory it is practice.