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 However, if genuine adherence to doctrine is maintained, it swiftly becomes out of date.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 – Authenticity

It is a simple truth that you cannot have equanimity unless you are authentic. In other words, until such time as your words and deeds match there is a veil, a mask of deception. Being harsh you are in effect living a lie, you say one thing and do another. This mismatch may not be conscious or intentionally manipulative but at one level, beyond the kidding of self, one knows it. And this can produce an unease and fear of being found out. To be dramatic we might call this impostor syndrome.  To get to where the outer presentation coincides with the inner reality can take some time. This is because people like to try to impress, to attract attention, to please, not to hurt, to hurt etc… There are white lies and avoidances at every corner. Few have the confidence to stand metaphorically naked, as they are, in social situations. So, we have façade after façade after façade. Humans are not unlike a Babushka doll, there are layers of illusion hiding the core. We might call this core the true nature or the authentic self. We could draw from Sanskrit. I prefer to simply call it authenticity. Authenticity enables equanimity and freedom.

Finding this individuated authenticity is a long process, there are many blinds and layers. Just when you think you are approaching your essence another skin is encountered, to be shed as and when. To look deep, may in the fullness of time, lead to metaphysics and philosophy, towards the very nature of existence and being. Not everyone can nor is fated to go so deep. One can get more equanimity, less suffering, by peeling off layers becoming more authentic on the journey towards authenticity. It is a part of realisation, namely becoming real. Political correctness and wanting to appear ”nicer” or more “acceptable” can hinder and inhibit. In this journey one must, at a certain depth, encounter the dark side which we all possess, and which possesses some. To pierce this dark side and thereby transcend it, is to let in more light. If one denies its existence, then one is not being real and as a consequence authenticity will be lacking. Many are afraid to look. To stare direct is dangerous, to glance and observe is safer. This dark side is best approached with caution and with patience. If you own it, you can dissolve it and go beyond. If you deny it, then you are lying, and this perturbs equanimity and balance. To imagine and profess an angelic nature, where butter does not melt in the mouth, is to lie to self and others. 

From what I have said already it suggests that most do not know themselves all that well and in fact, because it takes work, the journey of discovery remains largely un-started. The majority put up with dis-ease and suffering because they are familiar. There is some fear always, associated with the unfamiliar. Whilst the level or dissatisfaction remains “tolerable” and can be borne with sufficient pass times, there is insufficient motive or motivation to look into it. People can be very dissatisfied yet able to pursue a career and appear to have social interactions, they can be a social success.  All too often this entails a “partner in crime” mentality where things go unmentioned, not discussed and to an extent, taboo. People do not challenge each other, they collude. Collusion is an emotive word, and of course there are degrees of collusion. At a low level when someone is playing the victim game it is very easy to collude with them and sympathise; “oh you poor thing, how terrible for you”. Of course, even in this simple example there may be dishonesty.

With layers of façade and a social requirement to play the façade game it is rather difficult to get to or at authentic behaviour. We have therefore the idea of relative authenticity and temporary authenticity. The latter is when you are being as authentic as you can be for the time being. Doing the best you can so to speak. This is a relative authenticity when compared to your true authentic essence. It is a stepping stone on the journey. And if you are as authentic as you can be all the time, your degree of authenticity with naturally increase. If you like, your authenticity is very much a work in progress and not the finished product. To expect perfection is to fail, to strive for perfecting is to head in the right direction. The closer you are to your true nature, the more at ease you feel in your-self and with your-self. And when you are relaxed and not tense about being found out, you are more at ease and can respond to life rather than react. Life becomes easy. In time this increases your belief in own ability which is something of a virtuous circle, provided that your head does not swell as a result.

In order to get to this authenticity, you have to get rid of the emotional detritus which hangs heavy. It does not shift all by itself, it needs conscious effort. You can’t put the bin out and expect someone to take it away. You have to press it out, little by little, you have to learn to express. The amount of stuff suppressed and bottled up in the average person is high. It is no wonder then that many are fit to bust all the time, all it takes is a simple pin and the socially acceptable balloon explodes. Take a look around you, how many people are full of pressure and therefore taut in their being? Are you a taut being?

I have introduced various concepts and given a partial description, but I have not said much about how to go about doing. In this I am being general and not adhering to any school of thought. What should be clear is that until dissatisfaction has reached a sufficient level there is no motivation for change. The longer one leaves dissatisfaction to fester the more likely a “cataclysmic” explosion is. In this respect early and prophylactic action is wise. Otherwise the debris of explosion can set you back. There is a tension between dissatisfaction and fear of the unknown, fear of action. It is for each individual to decide how and if, they start the journey towards authenticity, the walk to freedom. It is best to start and if you do, it is best to go all the way, should you be fated so to do.

Dharma of the Day #6

there is word called fun

try to have some of this each day

this brings enlightenment, closer

 

a pole up the arse

causes much suffering

learn to relax a little

 

when you wake up in the morning

go outside and listen,

can you hear the birds laughing?

follow their example

 

every human is blessed with folly

meet your own folly

with a twinkle in the eye

and a wry smile

 

from time to time

do something really stupid

the world will not end

just because you blush

 

love yourself for how you are now

don’t use unrealistic rulers to measure

life is a journey

 

if you were already enlightened

you would not be reading this

put down those whips

and give yourself a pat on the back

 

put your arms around yourself

give yourself a big hug

and smile at the capacity for warmth

which is within us, all.

 

most of all take your time

and yet hurry up

make haste slowly

 

one day write upon many pieces of paper

the words, should and ought

light a bonfire and burn them

 

look always for authenticity

this is the emanation of the real you

the one you lock up in chains

let it out of your prison

 

seek to be the author

of your own script

a marvellous play,

make it as magnificent as possible

 

better a comedy or a farce,

than a tragedy or melodrama

humour is liberating

 

practice your smile

do it not only with teeth

but your eyes also

that is where smiles truly live

 

try to twinkle a little

each and every day

in time you will become, a star.