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 However, if genuine adherence to doctrine is maintained, it swiftly becomes out of date.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

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.