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.

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 – 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 – 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.


Impermanence and Value

For a long while I was resistant to many of the ideas of Buddhism such as non-attachment and suffering. It struck me that this was one miserable philosophy of life always focussing on suffering. Then one day I had a Tango moment. I saw dukkha translated as dissatisfaction. Now, it all made sense. Many people are perennially dissatisfied with their lot and love a good old whinge, complain, and moan. It could become an Olympic sport.

It was a truth, the truth of dissatisfaction.

How then to live in a world without being attached to anything and yet not having anhedonia or being nihilistic?

It requires only a subtle shift. Instead of resenting being born, which many appear to do, why not accept with joy the gift of life. In which one is merely borrowing the things which the universe supplies. Why not value these gifts without grasping, without clinging, because they just like you are impermanent. On the scale of the universe a human being is mightily impermanent, you exist for around 10-8 of the age of the current universe!! That is pretty fleeting.

But hey we can tend to see ourselves as mightily important.

The trick is to value without coveting, to enjoy without indulging, to take only so much as you need from life and to be thankful for the loan. Know that the universe does not owe us anything whatsoever, so we have no right to feel in anyway entitled.

If we are such fleeting beings time is precious and is a gift that is not to be wasted. You cannot hang on to a second, a minute or an hour.

Value is the middle way. Not clinging and attached, not nihilistic and uncaring, valuing with humility.

Attaining the meaning of impermanence, a being turns from dissatisfaction with a growing sense of equanimity and balance, and places value on the gift of life. Its chance to learn and evolve, here on this beautiful blue planet for but one fleeting moment of now.

Dissatisfaction and Life Templates

Before I get more deeply into the subject of Karma, I am going to talk a little about dissatisfaction. This is what Buddhists might call dukkha and it is all pervasive. If you look around you do you see anyone who is content, even at peace with where they find themselves in life? Are not most people “after something”?

This grasping for something, perhaps that cure all elixir, underpins life. For most this has material elements, a better job, a new car, more sex, better food or a good night out with the pals. It does not address what is perhaps an underlying malaise, noted but never fully acknowledged, a sort of thirst even an itch. People are forever putting temporary salves on this and yet it never really goes away. If there is grasping, there can never be full satisfaction, for even if the object of desire is attained, then more grasping inevitably follows.

A major cause of this dissatisfaction is the purchase and installation of a Life Template. This is when one buys a ready-made template for life and then tries to fit it to what is actually happening. One might buy the “Successful career, Good husband and Father” template down at the shop of socially accepted templates in the supermarket of life. One then works with that theme for decades only customizing it ever so slightly. All of effort is directed at maintaining that template which one has sold to one’s friends and family. If you don’t stick to that template, they will remind you!

Associated with this template are house, car, kids, annual holidays and delightful family get togethers. Many versions of this template are on sale according to budget.

By trying to fit life to this template dissatisfaction results. People may gripe and moan about this, few do anything to change.

Nowadays we have a whole host of templates. One could be the thrusting career woman juggling corporate success, children and relationships; wanting to have cake and eat it.

People even assign templates to each other and if you do not fulfil the expectations of a template, this causes dissatisfaction for the person who assigned you that template. They then select another more negative template by which they view and judge you. These templates are all by way of an ersatz for reality.

It is by force of WILL that people strive to fit into and propagate, a template. This inevitably causes friction and dissatisfaction. This is by no means the only source of dissatisfaction yet “wanting to have life on your own terms” is a consistent and thematically encompassing overlay which pervades. If you do not get what you “think” you want, you get the hump at life.

Are you living a Template?