Feeling Like an Alien

I’ll speculate that many other people have at one time or another, felt like an alien, an outsider and perhaps from another planet. For whatever reason there is a feeling of not belonging.

I didn’t realise that I was an introvert until I did Myers Briggs and suddenly a whole bunch of stuff made sense. Prior to this when I was told that I was a dreamer and not a stalker it made sense.

Human mind and in my opinion, specifically scientifically trained mind, is pretty damn closed. It is resistant to anything which outlies current doctrine. It can speculate on there being alien life, but it tends to cast it in a form of human image, perhaps reptilian but certainly corporeal. It imagines carbon based cellular life forms. Science would be very unwilling to accept that a causal vehicle from another solar system could travel from there and incarnate into a human embryo.

If there is no body, no matter, why would such a thing be impossible?

Humans are pretty stuck in energy, space, time and matter. These are the cultural bedrocks of the perhaps illusory reality shared across the common view of the world. The world is interpreted by humanity from a perspective that is IN matter. The means, the apparatus of interpretation is biological, meaty and material.

To suggest that consciousness exists outside of matter is an anathema to a material obsessed and meaty being. The meat does not like such a concept even if it has a Ph.D. and is a Fellow of the Royal society. “It is simply not possible old chap!”

I first felt like an alien when aged 5 in an experimental hippie primary school in Bristol I learned chess. Once I had learned the rules sufficiently and was able to beat my father, I lost interest. I had understood the concept, subsequent victory was boring.

A couple of years later in the Mount Isa Mines School I was a pom with a Bristle accent. They deducted multiple marks from my schoolwork for my scruffy handwriting. I thought that this was petty and ill-founded. The content was OK, the presentation not. I lost respect for my so-called teachers. I thought they were small minded. As a result, I was close to bottom in my class. When a babysitter asked who was the smartest in my class, I said me. This got out and I was bullied as a result. I doubt anyone else from that class got a Ph.D. at The Royal Institution of Great Britain / University College London.

There are multiple instances of my alien nature which I could bore you with.

I incarnated to extrovert parents and an extroverted sibling. They thought I was shy. My most abiding memory was, “Please for foxtrots sake can you just shut the foxtrot up for once in your lives? Pretty please with sugar on.”

I learned sometimes painfully to become a chameleon.

Now here is the real funny bit, when you tell people that you are a chameleon, they don’t believe you!! They think that you are actually like the behaviours you are mirroring / reflecting for them so as to blend in.

When we came here 18 million years ago from Sirius…

Do you ever feel like you are an Alien stranded here amongst this odd species which denotes itself homo sapiens?

The Biggest Bet of Your Life

Mesdames et messieurs faites vos jeux….

Philosophically speaking the biggest bet you will ever make in your life is perhaps your choice of belief system. This bet will come to fruition at the moment of your death. If you believe in one lifetime only, a brain-based consciousness, when you die you simply cease to be. If you believe in heaven and hell, you will either go to the pearly gates or the barbecue downstairs. If you believe in reincarnation you will return to the abstract bank of souls awaiting another piece of meat. You may or may not have some kind of consciousness when out of meat.

If you are putting your eggs in the pearly / barbecue basket then you are betting that your ill deeds will be small enough to avoid the griddle.

But people don’t think much about this.

If they want to covet, shag themselves stupid or be corrupt, it does not occur to them that they will be assigned to the charcoal. They do not imagine that they will benefit from the karmic “rewards” in a future life. People do whatever it is they want to do and don’t think all that much about the consequences.

I am placing my bet on there being some consciousness after meat death. Why? Because unless I have been totally kidding myself, I have opened the crown chakra and was able to project my consciousness outside of my body. I also know that I can reduce my brainwave activity below the detection limit of a simple frontal lobe electroencephalograph.

People don’t like to think about their own death, it gets in the way of acquisitional materialism.

On what are you placing your bet?

Towards Freedom – Caveat

If the seed, the germ of freedom starts to germinate in you, there may be a long way to go and that quest is beset with pitfalls. It is a noble quest and one that tests your mettle. Humanity is, perhaps, heading towards a new age where the forms and structures both current and of the past, are starting to quiver and fail. Against such a backdrop, for the right kind of individual, the times are more fertile in terms of this quest. With the individuating being less needful of organisations and churches, the genuinely new has yet to materialise. As such the role of devotion, mindless or otherwise, shall cease to dominate. The cult of the personality fades as the masses are educated and learn to think for themselves. The need to hand power over to some hero, guru or leader, is less strong. Nevertheless, belonging to a club, an organisation, a group, a party, a cult or a church, still has a strong draw. That idea of belonging, tribal as it may be, remains powerful.  If you are to hand your salvation over to a saviour, of whatever denomination, in all likelihood, you will be disappointed. Given so much power over, few can resist its temptation.

This is not to say that within organisations there is nothing of merit. Many have great value in their core teachings and a sense of community in their society. To swap one world version for a better one, is not bad. It is ultimately limiting. In this the provenance of lineage is often touted. The idea is that the teachings are pure. However, if genuine adherence to doctrine is maintained, it swiftly becomes out of date. A truth remains a truth, but it is best flavoured with an essence of the times and not laden with the vinegar of preservation. A teaching intended for an Indian body and psyche, may not transfer directly to a Dane or a Belgian. Flexibility, according to make-up and culture can enhance learning. Dogmatic worship of the past, can hinder. Be very wary of anyone, or any organisation, that asks you to hand your power over to them. Even if you seek the kudos and bragging rights of beings associated with some guru or other, use discernment. As I have suggested before a free being will not seek power over any other being. Handing your power over to a saviour does not make you free; paying for blessings and potions, cannot liberate you. There is only one reliable way, do it yourself.

One can cherry pick from a tradition, but this can, at least in the early stages, lead to confusion. Some immersion is needed to gain benefit. This is best done with the caveat of discernment. There are no short cuts, you will have to hanker down for the long run. As you traverse you will see that what appear to be major differences in ideology may simply be down to manner of communication and contextual setting. When you get to this stage cherry picking is much safer.

Along the way you will encounter your own prejudices and predilection. If you are by nature a space cadet, unless something is weird and far out, it will not attract you. If you perceive yourself a rational being with a scientific approach, you will seek out evidential proof from within the context of your world version. There must be proof. Unfortunately, not all things in the universe are subject to reductionist working. This may jar with how you think things ought to be. The trick is to be open minded and reserve judgement, yet not to be gullible and over easily led.

The glamour of ritual holds strong with many. It accentuates a sense of belonging and can create a near hypnotic state as mind is handed over to group mind. These experiences can be pleasant or otherwise. They do not represent freedom in its purest. Glamour can be found on all sides and as one develops it is easier to assume a premature omniscience, which exists not. The human Ego is one tricky son of a bitch and it will play game after game with you. In this respect taking most things with a pinch of salt, is helpful. Do not be overly cynical and negative because, guess what? That can be your omniscient Ego talking to you….

It is likely that you may be attracted to people who think in a roughly similar manner to you, this provides the coterie of group satisfaction. It generates a group consensus, to which temporary loyalty may be felt. It can lead to defence and an inward-looking mentality. History shows that when groups of beings, blinded by devotion, encounter others, war results. This group-think is by definition, limited and cannot be free. The parameter space of truth and reality cannot be fully explored whilst there is subscription to consensual world version. There is an added problem in that within all groups there is a tendency towards social politics and hierarchical position. With a sad inevitability this leads to intrigue and gossip. These are the antithesis of freedom and not the predilection of a free being. Should you start in earnest on the walk to freedom, sooner or later, you will experience the pointing finger and the stabbing tongue.    

Having made these caveats, and should you be determined or fated, then what are you waiting for?

The quest for freedom starts with an urge, proceeds via control over your own mind and talking, towards a greater objectivity. In being honest and real, you will start to listen to your heart. The concrete world version you started with will slowly dissolve as you open your mind. In the search beyond the façade for your authentic essence, you will develop an authenticity hitherto unsuspected. Thence a sense of equanimity and choice develops. No more will you be a slave to drama and soap opera. And without knowing it you will be imbued with both a centre of beingness and an ever-increasing understanding of freedom. You will be on your way to becoming a free being, a magical creature of the universe.

Towards Freedom – The Corporeal

Unless you are some dis-incarnate being wandering through space-time it is likely that you are, as yet, corporeal. And this meatiness of being corporeal presents a major challenge for the times I live in. We have the new phenomenon of body dysmorphia and the ability to surgically alter outer appearance. Thanks to the availability of leisure time and high definition photography we are surrounded by images of people, bodies and food. Due to the decline of manual labour and the availability of food, for the first time in history, humanity has a problem with being overweight. The advances in modern medicine together with its magic bullet hint at an increased longevity and a panacea for old age. People can compare what they look like to those held to be exemplar and beautiful. The obsession with corporeal image is at the root of much unhappiness and dissatisfaction. The simple truth remains, as things stand, all humans face the prospect of growing old, losing their faculties and dying. It comes to us all. There is an identification with form, with body and a hypochondriacal worry about its workings and the imminence of death. People are shit scared of dying, by and large. This corporeal identification is a part of the fear, as well as fear of the unknown.

Are you your body or your thoughts?

This simple question points at the fact that the essence which makes you a being is more than either your body or your thoughts. It is possible to observe your body and let people stick needles in it. It is possible to observe your thoughts. This means that there is something more than these, something extra or maybe less, doing the observations, your essence. If a partial non-attachment is possible, then it follows that this degree of detachment might be enhanced, with practice. If you are going to vacate the form, the body and are unpractised, when the time comes it is going to be harder. Now here is the weird bit, many understand that they are not simply a body full of thoughts at an intellectual level, but that is as far as it goes. The thinking isn’t joined up, or clear.

If you are going to drive a car, then it is best that the car is looked after, serviced and checked out from time to time. There is nothing wrong with taking care of the form you inhabit, but when it becomes an obsession that is unhelpful. When you are continually worrying about the next MOT test, you can forget to live. It doesn’t matter if someone else has an Audi, you have the car you were born into. You can’t swap cars, but you might be able to add a spoiler and change the exhaust. So long as the car functions it can still get you from A to B, from birth to death. The car may have a few tantrums and with the help of a mechanic (doctor) you can get it back on the road again. Changing the badge on the car does not change what is inside the car or the car itself. When you get to B, you will have to leave the car at the breakers’ yard. There is no choice in this. It may be used for spare parts or simply torched or buried.

In order to have more freedom, it is necessary to lessen the corporeal attachment and reduce the levels of drama about both its appearance and how it works. Not everyone can run as fast as Bolt. The body has certain biological functions, and these are necessary, it has reproductive drive, it has hunger. Associated with these functions is a mass of mind stuff where the mind makes up a whole bunch of drama to indulge in. The primal reproductive desire is overlaid with pleasure seeking gratification and indulgence. People can fuck themselves stupid. To be free is to have these urges in balance and not to be slave to them. One must see them as they are and not as some glamorous thing, some competition. Remember freedom is increased by reducing the number of things which have power over you. If sexual lust controls you, there is no freedom, simply a commanding basal urge. 

In our antiseptic times there is a tremendous squeamishness about bodily function and phobias against bacteria. Whilst some prudence is good, it can get out of control. And to have a taboo about basic bodily function is to be hung up by them. Just like death we all have some commonality in the need of these. Anything which you have a hang up about, impinges on your freedom. To be precious is to be constrained. In the west we have the luxury of modern sanitation which renders life easy and lowers health hazards. Being a little more earthy about the body demystifies it and frees up. I am not going to delve into the psychology of bodily function here, but the mental drama so associated is widespread and unnatural. In this respect modern western living, largely detached as it is from nature, lends a hand to phobia.

If one over exercises in order to sculpt a body, there is a very real danger that body identification increases. This worry in comparison to others does not liberate. The wretched pass time of comparison is at the root of much dissatisfaction and suffering. You have the car you were born with, learn to appreciate it and treat it reasonably well. Find out what it can do instead of comparing it to the Joneses all the time.

If one has invested heavily in the body and the intellect thereof, the degree of attachment increases, as does the fear of loss. But if you are not your body or your thoughts, both of these are simply on loan and impermanent. Everyone knows that they will die, yet this emphatic evidence of corporeal impermanence is set to one side and ignored by most, at least for the first four decades or so. It is only when the body starts to malfunction and grumble that the reality of death starts to knock. The gift of a body is taken for granted and imagined eternal. 

 Along with materialism, corporeal obsession works to decrease freedom. If someone can take away your possessions, they can take away your life or injure your vehicle. Fear of this is rife. Thinking a little it follows that if fear has power over you, then you are not free. And so many human fears are associated with this, the corporeal. These meat fears and social faux pas fears both inhibit freedom.  I am not here advocating a reckless disregard, rather a decrease in identification with the form side of life. If your essence is not the form, then why be so overly concerned about the form? Treat it with some respect but do not let it dictate.

 The more control over your mind you gain, the clearer you see that the corporeal is not tantamount, it is not the be all and end all. Perhaps you can see the degree of interrelation of mind and body, beyond mind there is essence. It is with the essence that authenticity lies. Getting to this essential core does not happen overnight. Glimpses of it loosens corporeal obsession, which increases freedom. And when the time comes you are much more ready and willing to let go of the body. This transition is less fearful, and you don’t live with the cloud of fear overhanging.

In this sense the body is but a vehicle used to explore the earthly reality of our day-to-day world. It did not ought to be master. One can enjoy the use of the body but to over indulge in it is unhelpful. Equanimity arises out of an increasing objectivity, where corporeal function is seen for what it is and no more.  We are here to learn, and the means is corporeal.

Towards Freedom – Fate

In this pamphlet I have discussed in general terms freedom, equanimity and balance, now there is this controversial idea of fate. Fate implies karma a concept that underpins eastern thinking, but which is less popular in the west. Nevertheless, cause and effect are a major part of scientific method. Newtonian mechanics are taught widely. There is a disconnect because we accept this concept in the world of things but are less comfortable in the world of people. The consequence of cause and effect is karma and the summation of karma is fate. It does not take too much to see how some acts, some words even, cause things in the world of people. There are consequences to our actions, so although not expressed as karma, karma it is. As a rule, people fail to acknowledge just how much interconnectivity there is, this is because responsibility tends to be avoided. There is some immature childish behaviour which suggests that so long as one does not get caught there are no consequences for the person acting. There may be consequences for the person acted upon, but they do not matter provided deniability holds.

It is convenient to imagine that God and sin do not exist and that there is no reckoning for indulgence, for enacting every whim as and when. If you look around this mentality can be found easily. Provided that there is some perceived advantage many do not care less what they do nor how it affects others. They inflict themselves, their wants, desires and ambitions in a willy-nilly fashion. Yet there it is unspoken, unacknowledged and ignored, cause and effect. If you don’t like the word karma, these will suffice.

What has fate got to do with freedom?

If you are reading this tract, then at some level the idea of freedom is of interest. The circumstances of this life and perhaps the others that went before, have lead you here, today, to this.  All the actions you have done, each cause has effected your life, so that as a consequence you are here, right now, reading this. It is your fate to read it. What you do subsequently is up to you. Fate has lead you here. You could argue that this is mere coincidence. But what has caused things to co-incide? Is it pure chance or has your education, place of birth and career made it possible? Has your life always been heading directly at this moment, however fleeting it may be?

Advocates of free will may put it down to choices made. But the summation of those choices has had the effect. At any point different choices could have been made, but they weren’t.

Without being specific if you are considering freedom then perhaps you were fated so to do, by your life experience. Otherwise you would be like many, unquestioning. What matters most is the next football match, the next soap opera episode or the “news” and gossip on Facebook. Somehow, you the reader have found yourself in an eddy in the stream, away from the current of modern living, with sufficient curiosity to be reading this. The odds against this are quite high. There are seven billion people on the planet yet here you are. For how long, who can say?

There may be a counter-intuitive problem with the very notions of fate and freedom. If something is fated, then it implies a lack of freedom. This is a kind of logic. Yet if freedom is your fate and you are fated to be free, then you have to follow that fate. There is freedom in evolving that fate in the general direction of freedom, one can’t avoid the fate, but one can be free in following it. This is as opposed to trying to shoe horn your existence into one of the available life templates extant in the epoch of your birth. Cutting a swathe through life which differs from the societally pre-ordained is much more liberating. Being able to think for and by yourself is less constrained and blinkered. Stepping outside of the hive to inhale the fresh air, if so fated, is fresh.

In order to get to a position where the tried and tested holds less pull, there has to be work on self, this is a cause and the effect is an increasing sensation of freedom. This is karma in action and the evolution of a fate, it is not succumbing. In various philosophies all that you do in this life is an effect of all that has gone on before in others. In this sense each life has a fate and the summation of all fates is your destiny. If it is your destiny to acquire more freedom, then surely that is the only acquisition worth anything in the long term; especially given the impermanence of the material and the social. One could say that of all the fates available, freedom is not a bad hand to be dealt.

Thus, we each of us contribute to our evolving fate by every single action, each thought and how we respond to life. If it is your fate to not yet contemplate freedom in a meaningful way, then you are not yet ready for freedom. Any act may do it, may turn you towards freedom and the quest of it. Freedom cannot be hurried, it can only come when one is prepared for it. If you are fated to start out on such a quest, then there is nothing that you can do to stop it. You can however stymie and hinder it by being stubborn. Pause for a moment and consider; is there any freedom in being stubborn? The only freedom is to express pig-headed mind, not an altogether free state of being.

If you discount the concept of fate, then within the logic of fate, you are fated so to do. We each have to learn. And such a discounting is an effect of your state of mind, your education and your peer group influences. These have caused your current mental make-up and operative world version through which you interpret the physical and social world. You alone have not made up your mind, others have influenced you, so free will isn’t as free as. Whilst we might like the ideal of free will, in practice no being lives and evolves in isolation. The only thing that one can hope to control in any sense of entirety is one’s own mind. It is not as easy as it sounds.

This urge to freedom comes as a response to life, largely when the dissatisfaction grows, and its illusory quality is sensed. Beyond this threshold there is a whole bunch of work and only if that work causes a deeper understanding can one effect, that is make real, a growing sense of genuine mental autonomy and freedom.

If it is your fate to seek freedom, then in time it must be also your destiny. To this end application to task must be unceasing, and unhurried. One needs to be mindful of distraction and avoidance, because some of the things needed to achieve freedom are both scary and at first difficult. Your fate will ask them of you and if you are to evolve your fate then best get on with it. You had better take responsibility for your words, acts and deeds so as to become an authentic being and as authenticity increases so does freedom. It is not a bad fate, nor an unworthy quest, this freedom thing.

Towards Freedom – End of Certainty

It all sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? Feel the urge to wake up, get some control over mind and talking, escape from the world version born out of societal conditioning whilst being cognisant of a growing self-knowledge. At the higher overview level, it is simple, but as the illusion fades there is an inevitable end of “certainty”. When the parameters of the world and the basis of a life start to fade what shall replace them? As the goals and stories shared by the commonality cease to be so concrete, the “ideals” suspect and even the reliability of perception in question, it is easy to feel lost, bewildered and without anchor. How does one navigate a nascent consciousness within the context of the common dream or at least living adjunct to it? There is no other way than to improvise. As all those things held to be “true” fall by the wayside one after another it can be tricky.

The societal template starts to dissolve, and the advertiser’s nightmare is seen for what it is, marketing. It isn’t real. No matter how many Instagram pictures one sees, how many “buy a house in the country programmes” one watches, the only commonality is you. Wherever you go, you goes to. No matter how you dress it, what extent of plastic surgery and how many pals you may have, you. There is no escaping it. The only real certainty there is, is death. And so very many are shit scared of death. At its simplest life offers death, of course there can be much in between birth and death. It is my observation that not much thought is given to how one spends that time. There is little discernment and quantity tends to dominate quality in the manner of living.

I personally don’t understand where this “must have” mentality comes from, I can observe it. And it is this ambition, the acquisition lust, which has prevalence. I doubt its satiation brings anything other than temporary even instantaneous relief or gratification. When the moment passes it is back, as hungry as ever. But what is it all for? What does it mean? Few question for the “must have” holds dominion in one way or another. That field over the fence is so tempting in comparison to the grass at feet. And mundane success is so often measured by the extent of acquisition, whether that be money, fame, kudos, clothes or notches on the bed post. It is my hypothesis that the “must have” does not bring peace, freedom or equanimity. I may be alone in this hypothesis though I suspect deep down most sense this if only as the autumn of life approaches. By then there is enough anecdotal evidence that folly does not fulfil. This “must have” holds dominion and it seems that the certainty of success pivots around it.

Might there be more than one kind of success?

A life lived to build a curriculum vitae for public consumption and personal advancement, may look good on paper. One might be able to talk to it, justify it and explain it; it may bring kudos and cash. It is on paper and not in being. No list of achievements can comment of the state of being, the degree of freedom or of equanimity. If one is striving, does one have balance? It does not take too much thought to see that striving and balance are not cut of the same cloth. If all you have at the end of days is a paper list of achievements, then perhaps your earthly sojourn looks good on paper but what has been the true value of living? Without sounding like some religious zealot, it is reasonable to suggest that the answers do lot lie entirely in material advancement, acquisition and consumption. Anyone who has lived a while knows this. It is convenient to abey this knowledge in the conversations of face value of mutual justification which comprise much of human interaction. Somehow it is way too scary to be open about dissatisfaction with the prevailing madness. It is de rigueur to compare lists, no matter how hollow this game is. If you take away the certainty of list-living it can be cognitively difficult to construct a justifiable sequence to peers and family. This end of apparent certainty is unsettling. If one seeks freedom, then that always goes hand in hand with a lack of certainty. There can be conviction that freedom is sought but how that might be achieved is fundamentally uncertain. There are no concrete boxes to tick to quantify success. One cannot draw graphs to talk to. All the life goals, often material in nature, are not the signposts or way stations on the walk to freedom. In fact, one may never arrive.

The broad consensus of living in the west has some materially quantifiable indicators of success, which provide a conversational framework for world version. Should these cease to apply then one has make a world version 2.0, and in between temporarily viable world version, there is no certainty. I have implied here that world version can be subject to a software update. In this the mind constructs a current world version operating system which is prone to update. But in the limit, there is no world version, just now. That now is of an eternal nature and updates second by second. To live in the now without apparent certainty is not to everyone’s taste. Freedom can be scary. It can have no comparators to give confidence, no metrics and few if any rules. Such an ill-defined world, a world not defined by social conditioning has less mental interpretive structure, it does not need justificatory sense making.

To walk toward freedom is to dissolve world version and do away with the illusory certainty. It is to stand metaphorically naked, a tiny being, against the backdrop of an awesome cosmos. This is reality. It is not the complex socio-political world version which humans appear to be enamoured of.  The world created in the minds of man, is inaccurate as regards its perceived importance within the cosmic context. Tiny beings deem themselves much more important and magnificent than they actually are. From time to time nature reminds mankind of its insignificance, those lessons are forgotten, and man carries on just as self-important and as self-absorbed as ever. The “certainty” of socio-political world version is tantamount though misplaced and inaccurate. 

If you want to be free, then you will have to end this apparent certainty of the socio-political world version and begin to see life for what is, accepting as you do the scale of your beingness. It is not to everyone’s taste to wake up from the demanding “must have” of the common illusion. Strangely if you don’t go to Santorini on vacation, can’t therefore post snaps on the internet or brag about it to friends, the universe does not implode. Why it does not do this is a complete mystery to me!

As it is phrased elsewhere one has to stop the world in order to get off. And it is only when you have gotten off that you can discern with clarity the extent of madness. Then one sees just how much assumption and supposition goes into building the apparent certainty of the common illusion. Once this certainty ends, questions begin, and learning starts. It isn’t comfortable. It is starting to be real.

Towards Freedom – Power

It may seem a little out of place to start discussing power in the context of freedom and equanimity, but it is necessary. Until you have more than a notion of your relationship to power and with power, it is difficult to have balance. Power of course has many meanings, there are many types of power and it comes in all shades. There is power in the sense of dominance, power in the sense of ability, power in knowledge and power as in material plane enforcement. Power is a vast topic itself. Some people have power, that can be positional or organisational power, it can be personal power, it can be muscular power or sexual power. There is the saying that power corrupts, though it need not, it often does. Humanity has a bit of a thing for and about societal power; it has a status hang up.

If you wield power in the sense of political or corporate power, it is unlikely that you will have equanimity and peace. This is because people are so often fighting for power. Even if your powerful position is secure, by the very nature of that position you will be required to make decisions. Those decisions are a responsibility of positional power and rarely do they come with serenity and peace. It is not the fate of most people to learn what high positional power means and those so called are in for a bit of a tough time. All societies have leaders, and these are of varying ability and quality. Some seek power with a thirst. And it is many that are so drawn who end up abusing power. Power has many traps associated for those drawn to it.

In the context of freedom, it is useful to figure out what has power over you and then adjust that situation. Things that have power over you can be as simple as arachnophobia. If a simple spider makes you come out in a sweat, then you are not free of spiders. A tiny creature can evoke a massive drama. It is not the spider’s fault, it is your reaction. For whatever reason you have a fear and a drama associated in your mind with spiders. Chances are this is disproportionate. Few spiders attack humans just because there is nothing better on the TV to watch. People have hang ups about a host of things and this restricts their liberty. Anything which can evoke drama upsets balance.  If small creatures have power over you, then what does that say about your level of mental control and balance?

Similarly, because of co-dependency, there are many people who have power over you. Some will go out of their way to manipulate you into a dependency and if you are so oriented you might even seek such people out, whether consciously or not. There are a multitude of buttons available to others for the pressing of. If at the pressing of a button off you trot into drama, then that button and the finger thereupon, have power over you. It can evoke drama and lack of control, you are off balance and flailing around. It is in this dependency and co-dependency that people give their power away to others. If you want to be free, then you do not need other beings having emotional power over you.

Many of the things that have power over you are to be found in the truck load of baggage which most adults carry with them. There may be shame, wounds, ambitions, unresolved conflict, grudges, guilt, vengeance, fear, unrequited love etc… The list is often long and until you have clarity on where the button comes from, it will stand proud and beckoning. It is in unpacking the baggage and by examination that one can begin to understand and slowly loosen the power over which is held. To be relatively free of buttons is to have more freedom generally. One is not beholden to the past and the narratives of it, which if we bear in mind the likelihood of selective perception are in any case often inaccurate. Memories and history are prevalent members of the set of buttons which are the indicators of something that has power over.  A skilled manipulator can spot these a mile off and press them at will.

If you seek freedom, then you must defend it. This may sound ever so slightly bellicose, but one has to fight to extract oneself from situations in which things, people and ideas have power over you. The past has power over most and reorienting the past in such a manner as to be free of it, is no easy task. The common dream advertises that building memories for your dotage is a good thing, but who can really live in a sepia or rose-tinted world? It is not real. It is imagined and unreliable of recall. To build “memories” is to never be free of them. This is perhaps slightly radical but do consider this. If you live in a mish mash recollection of the past, what do you make of the present, if you even notice it all? To be bound thus, is to not experience the now.

I have used bound, shackles and manacles already in this text, emotive words of slavery and imprisonment. It is up to you to figure out if I am by metaphor over egging the pudding. Until the duvet of illusion is pulled off, there is a cosy familiarity which can seemingly be justified.

Of course, in any material society there will be people and organisations that have temporal power over the circumstances of your life. Short of going off into the wild, this will always be the case. The freedom of complete anarchy is not currently possible in large society, this need not impinge overly on your state of mind, your mental freedom. One can see it for what it is, do the minimum necessary to be a “good” citizen and not feel overly oppressed by the apparatus of state. Within this framework it is possible not to succumb to ideological power over. People will do whatever they do, they will think whatever and opine ad infinitum. None of this need impact on your own equanimity. One does not have to agree, or argue or succumb. If your own mind is clear it is not overly perturbed by the folly and behaviours of others. Unless they are directly intent on harming or manipulating you, they are not direct threats. In keeping your centre, you can rise above it. If you cannot resist the pull of hive or herd mind, then it has power over you, which means you are not yet free of it.

As you begin to see though your own façade, understand your self and get close to your true nature, you will be acquiring power in the sense of knowledge. That knowledge pertains not only to you as a being but to other beings. This knowledge then opens up choices, possibilities for you which were hitherto not available, you have more personal power and more freedom. Freedom is in your choice as to how you respond to whatever life throws at you. There will be a reduced rigidity and an enhanced flexibility of living. With more personal power comes the temptation to exploit that power and perhaps use situations and others to your “advantage”. With all growth in personal power comes temptation. In the absence there are few choices. When there is a plethora of choices available some will not be life enhancing. If you are so inclined, you may use your personal power to exert power over others. As alluded to above that way is not freedom. How can one be free if one enslaves? It is not possible.

I have briefly touched on power here. Learning to handle new found personal power is a part of the walk to freedom. Keeping oneself grounded and developing humility offsets the temptation of power, which can enslave. In this sense knowledge is power which without wisdom and discernment can be a dangerous thing.

Towards Freedom – Starting to Wake Up

So far, I have written about freedom, equanimity, talking and world version. But before you are even ready to accept that the day to day reality is incomplete and that there might be something attainable beyond the nine to five, the career and the mortgage, you have to at least stir in the slumber of routine. It is necessary to sense dissatisfaction, and a level of dissatisfaction that does not pass after a good old moan and a whinge. I am pretty sure that dissatisfaction is planetary and also relative. Many put up with their lot with more than a little moaning, life is unfair and that is that.  It takes something to go beyond a stirring and into some kind of action. Having had enough is a common sentiment, which after a rant and a rage, is partially forgotten until the next time.

Western society likes to think of itself as free and there are indeed material freedoms. These freedoms to congregate and express are fine in principle and allowed to a degree.  One can choose from a selection of allowed life templates and eke a life with these. If the selection errs from the consensual norm, woe betide. But we do have hard won material freedoms, they are relative and statutory. They only go so far, and this is perhaps understandable for someone has to govern. Of late state intervention has increased, these freedoms are eroded by legislature and in the name of practicality and safety. Too much licence can cause chaos. Not everyone is sufficiently responsible to have too much material freedom. But although these “political” freedoms are; freedom of thinking is much less common. People are not, in this context, free to think and be. What constrains them are their fellow men. They through conditions of what should be, select only those templates for life and manner of thinking which complies with the average, the mean. Only when there is recognised genius is significant errancy from norm “permitted”. Although we may profess that we are free, actually we are not. We are constrained and confined by societal consensus. This creates a world version which is of a concrete and fixed nature. To question this is heresy. And history tells much on the fate of the heretic and the apostate. Whilst legislature may allow, society does not.  In this respect we are kidding ourselves about freedom. It sounds nice, but in reality, it is more than partially absent. To see this with clarity is to go one step beyond moaning and whinging and towards some kind of action. If one is “happy” grudgingly or otherwise to accept the consensual societal world version, then there is no need to wake up. If with every fibre of your being you find this limiting, then wake up you must.

To move even partially beyond the slumber and the common dream is not easy. For it tempts one back with cosy pillows, nice pay cheques and foreign holidays. It draws one into the electronic media, the entertainment, the societal opium, the new world Sauvignon Blanc and the thumbs ups of social media. It takes some courage to pull away from the cloying and to go cold turkey from the common dream. In fact, it is not possible to go cold turkey. One has to slowly ease oneself out of constraint and towards freedom. 

That urge to wake up to the lack of freedom may not last long, the snooze button on the alarm clock beckons.  But once one has had such an urge it is never again completely forgotten, suppressed maybe, but gone altogether, no. Despite the outward projections shared in the coffee house, the plastic Instagram posts and over the dinner table; I see a quiet desperation and lack of direction. Life for many has no purpose and it is very much a going through the motions. Sure, people put on a brave face but there are cracks in the façade. If we are forever photoshopping the narrative of our lives, who are we kidding? Who buys it? If we have fake news, do we not also have fake lives?

A first step to waking up is very simple. It is called being honest. Totally radical I know but unless you are honest about where you are in life and how you feel about it, nothing is ever going to change. And despite the efforts of Hollywood and Walt Disney it is highly unlikely that you will ever meet a fairy godmother with a magic wand. If you want to wake up, then it is something that you must do by yourself and for yourself.

In this respect doing the same things over and over again, and expecting different results is insanity as defined by Einstein. Yet is this not, with minor variation, what most of us do?

If it is your fate to wake up, at least a little, then it is best to get on with it. Why else would you be reading this? Should you be entirely content in the quiet desperation you would not be here today, reading.  Many need to gird their loins so to speak, to try to understand freedom from a theoretical or abstract perspective. What would it look like? What are the guarantees? Can I get my money back if I don’t like it? Even thinking about it is a good thing but it is not the same as doing it.

In this respect there are plenty of ways of approach, some tried and tested. It starts with doing something different. This is the only way to start to break the loop.

If you are sensing an urge to throw back the cosy duvet of social consensus, then the time to act is now or around now.  There may be entire other worlds, different perceptions and an expansion of consciousness awaiting. If the routine however has you, then it will not let go all on its own.

Outside the mainstream, the societal consensus world version, there is a great wealth of written knowledge. It is of varying quality. This literature can help to kick start the walk towards freedom and equanimity. The key to this is honesty. Note that honesty differs markedly from coruscating self-criticism, a form of prevalent negativity in our time. Honesty is objective and balanced, this is not easy of achievement early on. For there is something about the outward photoshopping of life which creates a negative inner counterpoise. Living a lie is very hard work, yet in one way or another many do just this. In façade world one must ever appear more shiny. In our heady times of spin and public relations it is pretty difficult to recognise truth even should it slap you in the face with a wet fish. Getting toward honesty is a step towards being real. It peels back the comforting duvet of illusion and if you are persistent, you can inhale deeply of the fresh dawn air.

Towards Freedom – Talking

Previously I have held up two ideas; a growing sense of freedom and a growing equanimity or balance. If for whatever reason you must have goals, then these two are not so bad. Moreover, they are personal and do not directly impinge on any other being, of course they will impinge indirectly because people like dependency and may not like your growing independence. These “goals” have no power over others inherent, they do to take nor inflict in any way. In this sense they are almost neutral. I have held them up for you to consider and should you find them beckon, then it is up to you.

Be aware though that the single biggest barrier is talking. By this I mean both your own talking, your own internal dialogue and the talking of others. It is by this talking that a world version is upheld in the semi-consciousness of man. I have used the preface semi as full consciousness implies full freedom, something which is extremely rare. It is very difficult to be conscious fully when one is busy talking. With an inevitability the act of speaking is detrimental to hearing and overrides much other sensory input. Yet the world is full of talking and the minds of most are overrun by incessant internal dialogue. All this makes a world version as it is held, roughly by many. Almost without exception these world versions are limiting and unless one is a psychopath they are beset by a set of conditional societal norms, to which one is supposed to adhere, support, agree with and comply. To a very large extent an imagined ideal of life is presented and nobody, not anyone, lives the glossy ideal of the advertiser. Many have tried, and all have failed. In that failure there is suffering. Idealised forms and imaginary picket fence narratives simply do not exist for real. This supposition of what life entails is endemic and any failure to buy into such a supposition can render one outcast. Not sharing the illusion is a suspicious activity.

That reel to reel nature of the internal dialogue plays, minute after minute, hour after hour and decade after decade; it loops. These “thought” forms construct a pseudo-reality, based in selective perception seen only through the coloured lens of whatever world version is favoured. There is a large and innate tendency only to select those perceptions which coincide with world version. This is both “convenient” and lazy. In fact, anything which strays too far from the parameters of world version is, for the time being, beyond perceptual capacity and cognitive assimilation. Restricted to a world version lens there are many parts of the reality spectrum which cannot yet be accessed. It follows that because the internal dialogue says that they don’t or can’t exist, then they must not or cannot be. It is with the talking that the world version lens is constructed, polished and its material defines which part of the reality spectrum it can transmit. Many world version lenses have a very small aperture, and this limits the world version to a tiny subset of all available realities. We might call this narrow minded, for example. Or we could say bigoted, dogmatic and closed. A more polite way of saying this is confirmation bias, which can be found on all sides.

This world version is the basis of how an individual makes sense of where they are in the world and society. Without it people feel afraid and at sea. For most there has to be at least some framework; a kind of belief system whether developed and broad or otherwise. For some these frameworks are very basic and revolve around corporeal need and pass time supply. For others these are more nuanced and extensive.  To ask big questions is terrifying for some and beyond capacity for others. The extent of world version varies with capacity and courage.  Straying more than a little from what is acceptable to peers is fraught. Not everyone is fated to be Avant Garde.

Until one is willing, at least as a hypothesis, to accept that world version is not omniscient or all encompassing, then it is justified by talking as a means of self-defence. For should the world version start to crumble then all sense of certainty is at risk. If you listen to talking you can hear that so much of it is of a pseudo-rational justificatory nature. It is with bricks of justification and the planks of reasons and excuses that the fabric of world version is constructed. In addition, world version is plastered with supposition and sealed with assumption, many of which are dogmatically inviolate and never actually tested. The loop says it must be so.

This noise, caused by talking inner and outer, inhibits extent of experience and whilst that might seem cosy and safe, it isn’t really. The world does not comply with how it says it ought to be and when this happens, because the world version does not contain everything, we become unsettled and fearful. Our contextual framework of reality differs from the actual. In this respect many are almost completely unaware of where “their” thoughts and ideas have come from. Many are picked up and borrowed from others or deemed consensually accurate if acquired from peers. Let me say that consensus is not the same as truth or reality. Consensus is a socio-political creation arrived at only in the minds of man. The universe does not care one jot about what man thinks and says. The planet does, in a sense, care about what man does; for man does impact on planet, as yet the universe is relatively safe from our actions. 

One thing is for sure and that is you cannot run away from your own mind, you can dull it and anaesthetise it, but it keeps on coming back. I don’t know for certain what goes on in the minds of others, but I think it fair to guess that they are not by and large at ease and in bliss. Human mind does not rest well and what we say to ourselves is often unhelpful. The dark recesses of the human mind can indeed be dark, despite any outer appearance. There is a lot of fear and anger. There are many unpleasant thoughts and motives. Humanity is not calm and measured. It is often petty and vengeful.

Having said all of the above; are you as a reader bothered by internal dialogue? Does it cause you grief and suffering? Chances are that it does. Now the corollary of this is; do you like this state of affairs and if not, are you willing to do something about it? If you are, then at least in principle if not yet in practice, ready to start to work at the biggest barrier to freedom, talking.

Some people like conversation, it is a major party of life for them. The idea of falling dumb is unattractive and social interaction is valued. I am not advocating that you find a cave and become a yogi. What you can do with relatively little initial disruption is to work at the cessation of your own internal dialogue. Internal dialogue is quite the most tiring thing and takes up vast tracts of time. If you calm and eventually stop the internal dialogue you will have so much more energy and quite a bit more time. Sales pitch over it is really up to you, but if you want to do this you will need some meditative practice or other to help you begin. Be aware though that there are many purveyors of snake oil and it easy to simply swap one world version for another and end up out of pocket in the process.

Once you have instilled a measure of control over your internal dialogue you will find that the aperture of mind opens, how far it opens is in proportion to your control or cessation of internal dialogue. There is a potential drawback in that a fertile mind is relatively easily populated so care should be taken and discernment practised.

Unless you can control and eventually stop at will your internal dialogue you will not be free of it or from it. As a consequence, equanimity will be fleeting as the next storm front of internal dialogue gathers and passes over. If you can’t control your own mind, you are not free. Rather you are plagued by internal noise which both limits and colours your perceptions of the world. In this sense internal dialogue is by way of an enemy that is both persistent and full of guile. It does not surrender willingly or easily. It likes the control that it has over you.

Towards Freedom – Freedom…

Freedom

It is impossible to have long lasting equanimity without freedom. A bold statement perhaps, but freedom as I use it here is a state of mind and again is a relative term. With each increasing freedom comes a liberty to be. In this sense one can be free in mind yet physically incarcerated. For mind is where both freedom and equanimity are to be found. Once there is a liberty to be it is possible to move beyond mere existence into expression, and it is via expression that freedom comes. To begin the long journey of freedom one must ease off the shackles of dependency and societal conditioning, to remove the manacles of ought and should.

In normal life there are many dependencies, we each have our hooks and barbs into each other and to these are strings attached. A brief tug on the string and balance is lost, calm evaporates, and emotional turbulence sets in. Pulled in so many directions life is off centre and hectic. This plague of being busy and the terror of missing out is not free. It comes at a cost of dependency and co-dependency. If you are forever concerned about what others think of you and say about you, then you are not free. There is ever a worry. And this worry drains and inhibits. I am not advocating a kind of reckless sociopathy, rather a gradual freeing up and an increasing detachment from the emotional weather; to step back and see it for what it is. 

Upon the road to freedom we each have baggage, by the truckload. And it is this baggage that must be opened up and the contents discarded but not before each garment has been examined and unpicked. For each scar, each hurt and anger, has to it something of value to be garnered on the road to objectivity. Holding it up to the sun, some measure of light comes through. This analogy for expression is part and parcel of gaining freedom. To be burdened by baggage is to be burdened and inhibited. Again, I am not suggesting wanton behaviour.

This raises the question; do you want to be free? Do you seek freedom? Or would you like to be just a little freer than you currently are? Even freedom is relative and though politicians bang on about freedom, that in its own context is also relative. The freedom of mind as ideal sounds good but the tendency of hive and herd pulls the opposite way. It takes courage to be free of mind and to step outside the herd altogether. With only relatively little freedom of mind comes only a little equanimity.

The idea is not a step function jump off a cliff, rather a gradual, as and when, freeing up.  For unless you own your own mind you cannot have equanimity or a centre. Mind will chase off after in the prevailing weather. So, what I am leading up to is understanding mind, understanding self and going perhaps beyond any notion of self whatsoever. For this self and its image is not real. It is a façade. If you know that your façade is inaccurate and a lie, how can there ever be any lasting equanimity? There cannot be. There will always be a worry that you are going to be found out.

In this it should be easy to see that freedom is sourced in knowledge first of façade then of self and then not self. The key to freedom is understanding. Such a carte blanche statement is true yet simplistic, it is a cover all which has much behind it.

This kind of freedom from dependency may imply loneliness, a fear and a dread to many. A little careful thought might suggest that the dread is a part of dependency and one that can be used to leverage reliance. It is perhaps a desire of many to have friends but there is little true friendship. Much is by way of fragile alliance based upon conditional negotiation, where stock is kept of favour and shared secrets. Very few so called friendships are without condition or some kind of trading. Whilst one may have company, even a sense of camaraderie, rarely is that unconditional. More often there is convenience and expediency. For many it is better to have company, for whatever motive, than to face the singularity of being alone with oneself.  This being alone and without filling the time with pass times is terrifying to most. Because of this terror people will endure all kinds of things.

If you are to seek a freedom of any depth, then it is necessary to be comfortable in being alone. One could rewrite this all one. For it is in the space of no activity, no company and with time that one can face one’s demons, whatever they may be. It is not necessary to face demons if all one seeks is to be a little freer, but small endeavour leads to small reward. And I can say that unvanquished demons prey on equanimity with an unremitting hunger. Just when a small equanimity arrives a demon starts to gnaw, and balance vanishes in a puff of smoke.

As I have been at pains to point out we are dealing with the relative and not the absolute. I have used the allegory of demons to sum up all the things we do not want to face. I am not speaking of occult or satanic creatures, rather our own personal demons which follow us through life with a dogged persistence unless we turn and face them down. It is difficult to be free when your demons are stalking you.

To put it clearly and simply, if you cannot face being alone then there is always a lever which can be leant upon. This knowing, that you are alone, all one, means that societal negotiation and manipulation is far less effective which means you have choice and with choice, comes a freedom of a kind. This freedom is an availability of options, of possibilities or different ways of being and responding. It means less knee jerk reaction more considered and intelligent responding to life. In the absence of reflexive and reactive behaviour there is some sense of control which breeds equanimity.

In relative terms, what is the outer limit of freedom, to be fully free? Whilst corporeal there will always be some limitation on what your mind, your consciousness, can do, due to the very apparatus of living. The consciousness is as yet anchored therein. And depending upon your take on reincarnation you could say that the outer limit of freedom is the cessation of urge to reincarnate. One is done with all that planetary incarnation has to offer and seeks a discarnate existence thereafter. The shackles of form are ready to be cut once and for ever at death. I suspect that despite some idealism most are nowhere near this state of mind and it must sound abstract and unattainable. If you are not an adherent of this, then the limit is simply to move through life with as few hang ups as possible, easy and relaxed in choices and decisive therein. Because anyone who looks deeply senses an interconnection, this living is consequential and with wider appreciation it is not possible to condone undue damage. This kind of freedom, is a responsible one born out of a profound sense of knowledge that every act matters. Although one could be selfish and destructive, because in knowing self, one knows, one chooses not to act harmfully or recklessly.  It depends upon how each seeks to frame things in their own world view. Suffice it to say with freedom comes responsibility, and ability to respond to life and not simply react. This may seem odd to be free and responsible, yet there is no contradiction when sufficient freedom has been garnered. Until that time the notion of freedom is not fully grasped, it is perhaps adolescent and under developed.

Depending on sense of adventure and perceived need to belong, the journey towards freedom is individual. There is no summit per se. There are stages and phases, where one experiences a new-found sense of freedom, however transitory or long lasting. One may get to a point and that suffices, or one may feel the need to go further. There is no right or wrong, there is only what your heart tells you and what the innermost urge of your being demands. 

I do not believe that one can unpick freedom of mind from equanimity, they are entwined and cooperative. If you do not have the courage to strive for freedom of mind and in mind, you will not secure equanimity. Unless you own and can control your own mind, there will always be emotional weather, which seldom is serene. And in this context bliss too is of an emotional bent it, like a mirage, cannot last for ever especially whilst corporeal. Do not confuse equanimity with anhedonia, they are not synonyms. True equanimity has to it a tremendous depth of experience simply because it is free of mental noise.  Handling this depth of experience is initially unsettling and being able to manage enhanced perception is one of the hills which need climbing on the way to freedom. It is easy to taste the cake of phenomena and gorge thereupon for a long while, but a love of phenomena can breed an addiction which by definition, is not free.

Above I have given a high-level introduction; there are no hows, no strategies. What I have sought to do is to lessen ideal, to make relative and thereby chip away at a sense of the unattainable. For many the perfection, the absolute, provides an insurmountable barrier. Whereas freedom by degree does not evoke fear of failure to such an extent. Roll the world freedom around in your consciousness and see if it resonates there. Is it something however intangible it may be, that appeals? Is there an urge within that may seek this noumenon? If there is and you go in earnest search, then as a by-product you will acquire a measure of equanimity.