Free-Range Living

What is Free-Range Living?

'Freerange' living might perhaps be described as the individual(s) aiming to lead an 'independent' style of life, thinking and deciding for themselves, determining their own values, along with aiming to live life in a naturally self and socially responsible manner.

Travelling the Self-Realising Road ----

November 25, 2021 · No Comments

(The piece below was written as a longer piece for the ‘books’ page of the ‘Free-Range Living’ website, but due to some technical difficulties has now had to appear here in the blog piece section)

 

Freerangin’ on --------

‘TRAVELLING THE SELF-REALISING ROAD – TOWARDS WELL-BEING AND FULFILLMENT ---- --- 

                                                                                                                             Mike Robin

 

Pre-amble ----

According to the sayings of Buddha, long ago now of course, it’s the individual’s right to work towards their own path to fulfillment, a ‘freerange’ type of view not necessarily followed by some cultures. For example, he urges people ‘to work out their own salvation’. 

There’s probably though two main ‘routes’ to progressing in life : one, currently much in vogue, is the ‘having’ mode, where the key to life success is amassing wealth and power, to then live the ‘flash’, luxurious life – a strongly materialistically-orientated approach. The other would be to follow more the Buddha’s mode of ‘being and becoming’, of which in spite of it being a minority route, has a good deal of information and description about it on the net. This piece follows this latter route, on the basis that it’s possible it can offer a more long-lasting, authentic route to human well-being.

Imagine life in Buddha’s era- no TV, no papers, no radio, no computers, no smart phones, no social media, and so forth - so much quieter, so much less complex  - maybe no wonder there’s quite a strong modern ‘simpler living’ movement.  Apparently there’s also a modern hermit lifestyle trend - maybe too not too surprising --- All the modern ‘razz ma tazz’, the degree to which mainstream culture can intrude on life, together with endless and seemingly limitless communications, can no doubt have a ‘conditioning’ effect on the individual, directly or indirectly, added to which is then more than likely a bunch of ‘self-conditioning’ ---- 

Just look, for instance, on the level of potential influence via the TV - in a half hour’s programme it’s getting to the point where a considerable portion of the viewing time is taken up by adverts, all aiming to influence a person’s behaviour, (and that’s before bringing in any social conforming pressures of, say, social media), and presumably ever advancing the degree of commercialisation of life creating the ‘moneytisation’ effect ----- Does a body stand a chance of, say, finding ‘life purpose’ bringing then ‘life fulfillment’,---- or are most caught up in a modern web (ha, ha), money geared, and ‘tangled’ to the point of ‘freerange self-responsible life’ being a distant prospect ----- ?  

‘We used to build civilisations; now we build shopping malls --- ‘  (Bill Bryson, writer)

Ah, hold on though – all the conditioning has a key main receiver area – that is, the mind of the individual. Maybe there’s then a possibility of the individual being able to counter the cultural mainstream ‘on-rush’, by, say, the joint moves of de-conditioning their ‘filled’ modern, often, say, ‘money-tised’ minds, and then finding a way to become their mind’s ‘master’ rather than being autocratically controlled by the mind, to then reach their ‘true natures’ (‘self-realisation’) - ?  

With the help of an ‘old-timer’ (Buddha) untouched by modern culture aspects, this piece seeks to aid and support the individual undergoing ‘de-conditioning’ and taking a ‘beyond the mind’ Buddha-type ‘being’ journey to personal fulfillment and well-being.

‘The source of human suffering is ‘mind wanting’  ( Buddha)

The modern mantra of  ‘the goal is more, and then more --- ‘ may not then exactly help - ? People may go for the ‘more, more’ message for several reasons, besides responding to a mainstream culture ‘conditioning’ message. Partly it may be because of an in-built ‘grasp/greed’ factor which experience and maturity may sort. It may be also to do with an ‘over-insecurity’ sense which those (see later) pointing to individuals losing their own sense of ‘place and power’ in the ‘larg-ist’ modern world, might suggest. Again no doubt, the strong competitive element in modern non-Buddhist society no doubt drives more than a few onto the ‘more, more’ route, creating ‘rat race’ type of conditions ------

‘The trouble with winning the rat race ------ is that you’re still a rat’    (Anon)

 Some suggest that mankind has ‘lost their way’ (see later). Lao-Tsu, a sage from long ago, was one who pointed out that personal contentment may lie more in enjoying the position a person was in, rather than ever ‘chasing the dollar’ ever pursuing a far-off goals ----

Ralph Waldo Emerson, eminent American commentator/philosopher in the 1800’s, adds some pithy non- financial words on the subject :

‘To appreciate beauty, and to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, a redeemed social condition, to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded.’

Jack Kornfield   (After the Ecstasy, the Laundry (book)), contributes :

‘Caring for the natural world is one way we also tend to the human one’

Social security too may well have been eroded in a period of social norming with actual ‘cancellation’ of individuals (not a too ‘freerange’ event --- or might it be better as a ‘freeranger’ to be out of such a narrow-focused outlook trend- ?). Can’t be a too pleasant feeling, but then again, hasn’t ‘largist’ culture anyway at least already semi-cancelled the individual - ( as well as having the ‘dumbing down’ effect)-? More than a few prominent writers (eg.s Orwell, Huxley, Levine, Foley -see bibliography) for instance have alluded to a modern ‘largist world’ trend of individual dis-empowerment, reducing personal inner strength. In business terms, the strong focus in recent times that’s been on profit making and business growth may well have exerted quite an addictive effect on the ‘more’ move-ers, quite possibly then increased by the trend of high rewards for the ‘movers and shakers’ - ?

Not too hard then to see that there’s probably been no shortage on the ‘mind wanting’ front - ? Einstein, the well-known scientist, seems to have been a fan of a less forceful, ‘non-thinking’ approach :

‘I think ninety-nine times and I find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence --- and the truth comes to me.’

All, then, might not be as it seems at first to be - ?

 

A rural idyll ---------

An older guy was fishing from the bank of a lake in pleasant countryside.

A couple, looking maybe newly-partnered, strolled by but then pulled up, having noticed that the fisherman had pulled his line in, only to reveal no hook on the end of it.

‘I say’ said the male onlooker, ‘don’t you want a hook on the end of your line?’

‘Oh’ said the fisherman ‘and why would that be?’

‘Well’ came the ready response ‘you could then probably catch a pile of fish from a spot like this’

‘And then what?’ was the somewhat lack lustre reply

‘Why, you could sell the fish, buy yourself a boat and catch even more fish’ was the smart response from the city man who worked as a business consultant.

‘Ok, but what would happen then?’

‘You’d of course sell them and then you could afford for someone else to do the work for you’ 

came the now slightly exasperated answer.

‘ I see – but then what would I do?’

‘Well, you could do whatever you want!’ said the consultant, with just a note of triumph 

‘Well, what the (bleep) d’ye think I’m doing now - ??’


‘Not necessarily so’, said the old Zen master, there’s many ways -------  Thinking along ‘money lines’ could be a particularly strong modern fixed mindset, given the level of focus and accent on ‘making money’ in recent times – it could be a useful example of a mainstream fixed mindset. An alternative for instance, could be to see money as a ‘means’ rather than an ‘end’, so then the business objective may change from ‘maximising profits’ to ‘making effective contribution to society’, whilst also achieving ‘sustainable profit’ levels – profit making then a ‘means’ rather then an ‘end’. In personal terms, the individual could focus on, say, making the most of a fixed income rather than going the ‘more, more’ route, money then becoming more of a ‘means’ than an ‘end’ --- 

In a UK rural area, there used to be five or six small building firms. Two or three got the ‘money bug’ and expanded their firms, chasing higher profits. The surviving three small firms, though, all have solid reputations for quality work at reasonable prices and good service, all of them providing a good asset to their local community, and whilst not maybe hitting the heights of ‘max profit’, still earning themselves good incomes over longer periods of time – a ‘sustainable living’ scenario - ?

A small South-sea island community of around 200 souls organised itself on natural, community-serving lines. The strong, fit younger men would set sail to sea in the mornings to catch food for the community, fish, which when they returned, they then shared out to the whole community, young and old -----

 

Intro

 It seems to be a relatively common motivation for people in the current culture to seek happiness and to want ‘positive outcomes’. Whether life plays ball maybe just another matter, and some might well suggest that a certain amount of hardship can be a useful event - to help for instance build resilience in a person. These days the ‘mass’ mainstream culture trend appears to centre on amassing wealth (and power) as the answer to the life conundrum, with a seemingly pretty strong focus thereon, possibly/probably helped by the ‘free-market’, ‘no responsibility’, ‘look after yourself’ movement. Some though might well suggest that as in many areas, balance is the key, and any over strong impulse (say, on self-serving interest) can carry the danger of ‘ending up in a blind alley’ ----

It can be important to have a certain amount of material gain to sustain life, and some no doubt would say that the job is to have a lot then to be able to pursue ‘high end’ living and ‘grand’ experiences’, then, though, risking de-valuing ‘ordinary life’ - ? Zen people, for instance, suggest that all of life is ‘special’, ‘divine’, and that ‘reverance’ is a natural condition for humans, often lost though in the rush towards ‘heavy materialism---- ‘

Some suggest for instance that ‘expanded awareness/consciousness’ living is open to man, and is an effective route to longer-term well-being and fulfillment : 

‘Enlightenment does exist. It is possible to awaken. Unbounded freedom and joy, oneness with the divine, awakening into a state of timeless grace - these experiences are more common than maybe is thought’

(After the Ecstasy the Laundry,  Jack Kornfield)

Jack Kornfield goes on to say that it might though be difficult to sustain such a state in modern life, with its limitations and problems (some suggest for instance that modern human life tends to happen at a relatively lower energy/awareness level). Another angle though,is that having had a view of a more conscious and productive state of being, a person can then make positive contributions in ‘life as it currently is’ -----

Buddha though, warned of a possible ‘pitfall’ in the form of desire for ‘awakening’, spirituality then becoming a ‘mind want’, then taking a person away from, rather than nearer, reality, where ‘real self’ might be found. The mind wants to be ‘there’, at another place, so ‘here’, however perfect/imperfect, is being avoided. This would seem to be a form of ‘escapism’, trying to get away from today’s reality to a more desired ‘shiny’ place - but maybe Buddha’s right - ‘mind wanting’ can lead to suffering rather than fulfillment ---?

Similarly, following, say, ‘how to be spiritual’ instructions, commonly found for instance, on the net,  such as ‘be compassionate’, may well prove to be non-productive in the longer-term, in that following an ‘external’ (i.e. to the individual) instruction does not have the authentic base of internalisation - the route to being compassionate could for instance lie in firstly experiencing overcoming what’s been called ‘the tyranny of the mind’, then being able to be compassionate to self, having also gained the understanding inherent in that process (on the basis that the mind can often work on a self-critical and judgemental basis, the origins of which some might say are often cultural ‘instant perfection over-expectations’.)

Pursuing material wealth and power can be such a strong and seductive trend that it can maybe at times a little difficult to perceive any alternative life modes. As before, Buddha would no doubt suggest though that desires through ‘mind wanting’ can be the source of the opposite of well-being, and can lead to a ‘cycle of suffering’, an important reason why it may well be productive for the individual to do the type of mindfulness work described in a later section.

 Buddha’s way was an alternative to a strategy focused on ‘having’, rather the way of developing ‘being’, and particularly consciousness /awareness, and rather than any ‘over control’, to take on board life’s ‘lessons’, to then reach the point of ‘release’, gaining freedom from ‘the tyranny of the mind’ (where the mind ‘runs the show’), and hence addiction to ‘mind desires’ ----- To then become ‘secure’ and live a good life with good well-being, inner security, fulfillment  and the like, as no doubt some individuals do via their own experience. 

‘Paradoxically, real freedom lies in willing obedience to universal law ---- ‘   (Lao-Tsu)

There’s then from the individual’s stance a possibility of choice : to follow the materialistic path, which may or may not lead to personal ‘nirvana’, and could possibly lead to the reverse,  or, whilst recognising that a certain amount of material gain is necessary for a ‘survive and thrive’ life,  to take on Buddha’s personal journey, to develop awareness and consciousness, hence ‘holistic understanding’, which can then lead to ‘personal freedom’, which some might call ‘enlightened living’ (or ‘living in the light’). Some argue that such development is anyway life’s purpose :

‘To become the most that we can become is life’s purpose’   ( R.L.Stevenson,  writer)

Buddha himself made some erudite comments on the subject :

‘Your purpose in life is to find your purpose, and give your whole heart and soul to it’  

(Buddha)

That’s quite a statement suggesting the ‘following the heart’ is a key - ? Interesting to note that Buddha’s focus is at the individual level ---- Easy, though to get ‘side-tracked’ in the modern world, with its ‘big and bigger’ trends and strong focus on ‘material gain’ - ?

The individual though still has the power of choice, but maybe also needs to listen to an inner voice, in danger maybe of being ‘drowned out’ in the clamour, rampant activity, ‘noise’ and norming pressures of modern life, with seemingly evermore ‘conditioning’ sources ? In the UK back along there was always the conditioning ‘instruction’ ‘you should always think of others before yourself’. Such a missive would likely cause some problems because of its ‘fixed’ nature, and there might well be good reasons as to why it is necessary to anyway at times to think ‘self first’, as Leon Brown states :

‘Listen to your own voice, your own soul. Too many people listen to the noise of the world, instead of themselves.’

  Several writers have pointed to the situation that because of the ‘giantism’ of the nature of modern mainstream cultures, they can inhibit and dis-empower individual strength ---- .  This work then aims to try to offer help and support, plus some direction, to those individuals, brave and/or struggling, who embark on the ‘being’ development journey ----  Many, though, may well not want to make ‘being’ changes, feeling no particular need. Others may alternatively feel that the modern materialistically geared ‘power’ world doesn’t necessarily fit completely with them.  Some may feel, for instance the pressure of built-up stress, and that they’re in need of a new ‘operating system’, still others may feel a disconnect with ‘who they’ve become’, realising that many extraneous factors have been at play and they are at some distance from their ‘real, authentic selves’. 

Some people may of course be anyway natural explorers who wish/need to investigate the territory. Others may feel they’ve become ‘other’ to how they really are, having been strongly influenced, say, by mainstream culture ----- or may feel ‘not in tune’ with who they’ve become, then seeking to renew/ restore their ‘real selves’ ------

Whilst not everyone can become a hermit to give themselves peace and quiet or may not wish to, the ‘being’ development route can still be an active event with the individual undertaking positive self-work in the cause of advancing development. A three-strand approach can be taken: some ideas for effective mental ‘de-conditioning’ are explored, plus then mental ‘slowing down’ steps, followed by an outline of the possible ‘being’ journey stages, with then each stage expanded on, all on the basis that it’s the individual’s call ---- 

 

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Taking ‘the personal journey ---- ‘

 

For those interested then in making ‘the personal being’ journey, the following sections may be able to aid and support the process, which could/can then lead in time to calm, fulfilling waters of well-being and authentic security ---- 

Stages :         -  looking/identifying/de-conditioning

                     -  accepting

                    -  locating self-work area

                     -  practising mindfulness technique

                     -  identifying benefits - developing  - awareness, real self strength, self

                        nourishing 

                     -  extending mindfulness range and awareness range

                     - experiencing the fuller real self

                     -  personal spirituality experience / spiritual awakening

                     - progressing to full ‘healed and whole’  positive real self  ‘fully validated’    

                       and ‘expanded awareness’ experience

                     - living ‘perfect’ in a ‘flawed’ world

 

How far the journey is taken is of course down to the individual themselves, and ‘it all takes time’  - ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day ------ ‘

 

                           >>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<

 

1) ‘Looking/identifying’

‘It’s ok to be ‘not ok’    Prince William (UK)

Negative happenings/events/situations can happen in life – wanting always ‘positivity’ can mean that the negative side doesn’t get adequately dealt with ---- ( ‘clear the negatives, then the way is clear to the positives -?’)

This could be an initial look at current situations, ‘problems’ and/or discontents, which may anyway have already happened/partly happened.  The individual might be in a position in which, say, their current operating system isn’t working too well (and may need support/mentoring - this was the author’s route). Others may not be satisfied with what modern life and modern cultures appear to offer (eg. some have suggested that modern western-style materialistic lifestyles ‘dumb down’ individuals) and seek to, say, have more meaning in their lives. Others still maybe ‘life explorers’ intent on, say, an ‘inner mountain climb’. Still others could feel they’re doing ok, so no need to go ‘journeying’ ---

 As modern life often seems to be on the ‘large’ basis with associated ‘big is best’ superiority overtones, then having a potential effect of weakening individual strength and power, and ‘dis-empowering’ individuals, as some notable authors have pointed out, some recognition of this may be useful, with the individual then seeking still to undertake ‘their own journey’ with notables such as Buddha as their supporter : 

‘ Doubt everything; find your own light’     (Buddha)

Buddha can be suggesting that it can be important for the individual to be able to make their own mind up and decide what their values are, what’s important to them and what in their lives is meaningful, and that they can make their own self-search ----. This may be an important element for those in search of their ‘real, true selves’ ---

Some people will undoubtedly find the help of mentors invaluable, via books, videos, personal contact or whatever (the author had invaluable mentor help via a ‘self-help’ book). ‘Mentoring’ can also occur more indirectly, such as access for instance to instructive/supportive material from the net.

 

1) (cont.)  ‘De- conditioning ---- ‘

The ‘de-conditioning’ processing 

Without any ‘de-conditioning’, mental ‘spring cleaning’ processes, a person’s mind could well be full of  ‘fixed’ mindsets from childhood, from parents, from siblings, from peers, from schools, from colleges/universities, from TV/radio sources, from social media  - and the rest, and from of course ‘own self’ -  quite a lot of ‘mental influencing’ in fact, with often maybe a strong modern commercialisation content, and with a reasonably strong likelihood of picking up biases along the way ? (and now too there are people who specifically set themselves up as ‘influencers’----). Thought-patterns and mindsets can have the tendency to become ‘fixed’, whereas a more open, flexible mind is said to be conducive to ‘real-self’ development progress. It’s sort of ‘rewind’ move to get to ‘open mind’ position, where potential access to ‘expanded awareness’ can take place.

 (Zen people talk about developing ‘beginner’s mind’).

Some of the helpful moves might well be :

– looking at current thoughts/mindsets ‘separately’ watching them as they occur (similar to mindfulness work). Looking at too where they might have originated from, how ‘fixed’ they are and how repetitive they are, aiming at this stage to avoid any habit of judging them. Repeated mindset watching, whilst not over engaging with them, can then reduce the strength of the mental activity, as can then questioning their validity/non-accepting their automatic validity

- looking at the ‘where are we now’ and if that’s different to some of the mindsets, and if they reflect  ‘real you’, or maybe they should be redundant-----

- deeper reflection to determine and clarify ‘real-self’ inner values, what ‘moves’ us - the ‘heart’ responses probably being particularly important (some find that writing a ‘personal’ (and private) journal can help in this process).

- identification of any acquired mainstream culture which might clash with inner ‘real self’ values

- assessing current mainstream culture’s level of  ‘individual influencing’

Useful ploys ---- 

 One ‘ploy’ can be to use the ‘bye-pass’ method – existing thought-patterns and mindsets can be repetitive, so the idea is to accept them re-occurring but then ‘by-pass’ them (or let them ‘slide by’), not ‘hooking into’ them, which in itself can be useful in terms of building a stronger ‘real-self’, at the same time ‘dis-associating’ mindsets beyond their ‘sell-by’ date (some persistance is useful as they can tend to repeat.  This process is essentially the same as the mindfulness process : accepting the ‘less-than-perfect’ current position to then over time effect change).

Thinking and thoughts, due to much practice, can get to be too prevalent and too repetitive at times   - another useful ploy can be to ‘tell them to shove off’ (politely or otherwise ---- ), which can also be a ‘real self’ strengthening move, and one that can be particularly useful in dealing with troublesome thoughts. This process can also give the feel that thoughts ‘are just thoughts’, and that they don’t have to be ‘permanent fixtures’.

‘Not necessarily so ---- ‘

The author on travelling home in farm advisory days found himself, erm, ruminating over the day’s events. He’d been on two farms, both with current business problems, and had given opposing advice to the two rural businesses, which on reflection seemed to be the right course of action for each farm business. This brought about a sudden heightened awareness that every situation was in practice unique and that pre-formed, stock answers, fixed mindsets and/or formulaic strategies were inappropriate, each situation needing to be evaluated independently, with the adviser/consultant needing to consciously adopting the ‘open’ mind approach.

‘Damn the mainstream ---- ‘

The individual if they wish it can take steps to limit the level of mainstream culture effects on them such as : limiting TV and social media exposure, spending time ‘alone’/ in open, un-crowded spaces, stopping reading papers, writing journals related to their own enquiries, own feelings – and so forth. The mainstream cultural flow can of course have powerful effects, due to the fact that it’s big, it’s ‘mainstream’. Throughout history though, there have been many ‘mainstreams’ that haven’t withstood the test of time, and in practice it’s probably reasonably true that there’s no guarantee that any current mainstream is ‘all wonderful’. 

‘Ups --- and downs ---- ‘

Historically again there seems to have been a problem for cultures, and people, to face and cope with negative situations, but ‘times they are a-changin’ - Prince William in the UK has recently stated ‘it’s ok to be not ok’ and Simone Bile, the American gymnast, has exit-ed the Olympics recently stating mental difficulties due to ‘expectation pressure’. In a culture, expecting people to be ‘instantly perfect’ can unrealistically un-allow the resources (eg. time) to then become ‘perfect’, and hence can put severe and unrealistic pressure on people. Older people, having had the benefit of good levels of experience, as a result can have useful levels of resilience and ‘sang froid’ - they may well make useful counsellors ( - ?)

Fixated ---- ‘

Challenging fixed patterns such as, say, ‘beating the self up’ (adult females are said to beat themselves up on average eight times a day in the UK) can also be a useful ploy to ‘loosen’ fixed thought patterns. One of the secrets in dealing with such fixed mindsets is that by their very nature, they repeat, so a system that takes account of this is needed, then gradually reducing the strength of the mindset. This is exactly what mindfulness practice (see below) seeks to do, in that every time the mindset crops up, the individual is encouraged just to ‘watch’ it occurring, resisting the urge to follow the mind’s urging, in this case, to be automatically critical of oneself, which then also has the useful function of allowing ‘self-nurturing’ and self-compassion, besides encouraging and enhancing awareness beyond mental activities.

Support ----- 

There can too be considerable support for the individual engaged in ‘de-conditioning’ from the culture itself. An interesting TV series (PBS America channel) is for instance currently running, entitled ‘Hacking Your Mind’, with the by-words :

‘A lot of the time we think we’re making careful, individual decisions. But how many of these choices are made on autopilot, and how often is this exploited through marketing?’

Bill Bryson, always a thought-provoking author, states in his book ‘Notes from a Big Country’, that the average American views on average 1,000 commercials per week, and by the time someone is 18, they will on average have viewed 350,000 television adverts, all of which of course trying to influence minds. 

There’s now plenty of support material available via books or net in the area of helping and supporting the individual, such as, say, mindfulness practice books, also adding often significant encouragement to people. (see bibliography). 

‘Pithy quotes --- ‘

Another useful area of support can come in the form of quotations. One or two examples are quoted below :

‘Another block to genuine happiness is being caught in the thinking mind (egs. lamenting over the past, worrying about the future). Living in our heads, we nurture the small mind of self-centeredness, and it literally guarantees our unhappiness. As though our identification with small-self recedes, and we become increasingly present, we gradually discover who we truly are - our natural being of connectedness and love ----- ‘

( The Authentic Life,   Ezra Bayda )

Some writers have long questioned moddern-style materialistic cultures in terms of their usefulness to human potential :

‘In the end such a (‘consumer culture’) civilisation can only produce a ‘mass man’, incapable of choice, incapable of spontaneous self-directed activities, docile, disciplined to monotonous work ------ increasingly less self-responsible --- governed then mainly by conditioned reflexes’.

( The Sane Society,  Erich Fromm )

Looking like the opposite to ‘freeranger man’ - ? The idea that 'man has lost his way' has been something of a repeated theme :

‘On the individual level the toll for the loss of spirituality is an impoverished, alienated and unfulfilling way of life and an increase in emotional and pyschosomatic disorders ----- ‘

( Stanalav Grof, founder : ‘Transpersonal Psychology’)

and not to leave ‘the enlightened one' out :

‘Work out your own salvation, don’t rely on others. If you find no-one to support you on your journey, walk on alone.’

(Buddha)

Support for ‘individual independence’ from a top man, in spite of what ‘man-made’ cultures might say - ?

 

2) Accepting

 ‘Accepting self is a key step to progress’

  (after : Jack Kornfield  ‘After the Ectasy, the Laundry’  (book) )

As far as is possible, the next stage can be one of furthering the process of ‘accepting self’, complete with unproductive traits, imperfections, and the like, even though there may well be powerful cultural forces/influences seeking to alternatively sway the individual. The current ‘woke’ movement for instance where people who don’t ‘woke group think’ then get ‘cancelled’ ( the ‘quality of mercy’ not being over strained - ? ) might be a current example.  Social sensitivities can of course be important but at this stage they’re put ‘on back burner’ as the focus is on individual progress. Practising ‘mindfulness practice’ (see later) can itself cultivate self-nourishing self-acceptance for the individual, which in tun can then have a further ‘socially positive’ effect.

 Again there can be difficulties for people in accepting they are ‘not ok’, which maybe can be linked to a type of ‘mass’ insecurity such as resistances to facing negative situations – until recently mental illness has culturally had for instance the ‘no no’ tag. Fortunately more effective and accommodating approaches are appearing – Prince William of the UK recently stating for instance ‘it’s ok to be not ok’ - in other terms it’s ok to have imperfections if that’s the reality, and to not have to pretend to be perfect or fake ‘ok-ness’.  To get to ‘OK’ position ‘Z’, the journey starts at un ’OK (‘imperfect’) position ‘A’ - it takes time to develop ‘ok’ ness and the self-work mindfulness technique involved (see later) in journeying for instance allows for that and is also encouraging and supporting of the individual, building ‘real self’ strength in the process ---- self-work that can directly increase and improve self-acceptance.

Cultures that have been historically considered to be ‘native and backward’ may have in fact had more practical wisdom than perceived. Young Native American males were for instance actively helped by their culture to attain personal strength and courage by undertaking a series of ‘supported’ trials.

This author experienced a breakdown due to conditions of prolonged stress, made in retrospect though considerably more taxing to be able to accept due to the limited social outlook at the time (i.e. breakdown was a social ‘no no’ state). The ‘negativity countering’ help, direction and support over time of an understanding mentor (via book – see bibliography) then proved to be a vital part of recovery and re-build.

The ‘overarching’ power of the prevailing social environment maybe shouldn’t be underestimated, as the quote below can help to illustrate :

Carrie Fisher, a former American actor, gave a telling comment :

You wouldn’t know real care doesn’t exist in Hollywood, as everyone is so good at faking it’

The ‘working on self’ route though is one that helps to deliver authenticity ---- and the mindfulness process of locating and accepting a personal trait that’s less than perfect can be a useful, and not too drastic, way in to effective greater self-acceptance, and in the process encouraging the process of ‘life realism’. As the individual then proceeds with effective self-work to change from a less to a more productive outcome, positive returns such as increased confidence, self-respect and inner strength are gained, whilst any inhibiting power of the mainstream culture is then limited.

‘Slow and simple’ ---

Further help for the individual from the incessant ‘raz mataz’ and pace of modern life, often causing considerable mental activity and at times getting in the way of ‘self-acceptance’, can be had in undertaking simple meditation practice, for say, 15 to 30 minutes a day. Simple it maybe but often not quite so in practice as the individual may well be starting from a point of busy mental activity. The idea is at its simplest to sit in as relaxed a mode as is possible and let the self sort of ‘sink down’ into the relaxation, as far as is possible.

 Mental activity will likely be present, and the individual is invited to accept this but rather than being fully involved with it, rather to start the process of ‘watching’ the mental activity happening, and particularly where the mindset is ‘automatically’ critical and/or demanding. This can seem to be quite difficult initially, but over time as some physical and mental relaxation occurs, the process can become progressively more productive - ‘persistance paying ---’. It can be useful to employ a helpful process such as being aware of breathing, so that when attention slips due to ‘mind wanderings’, it can be re-directed back on to the breathing activity. Another likely possible occurrence is that the mind can often desire ‘fast results’ - but this is not a ‘fast result’ process, and so it helps then to see the mind’s wanting (unrealistically) fast results but then to ‘discount’ it (or ‘by-pass’ it), (which also can then help to strengthen/build ‘the real self’s’ power).

3) Mindfulness practice - locating self-work area

As a start, the practical way to put this step into action is to identify a less-than-productive trait, and whilst a person probably has a selection of productive traits, in this case it’s useful to select a trait which considered to be ‘unproductive’, such as, say, the following possible examples : (and has a ‘perfect’, ‘unflawed’ person ever existed? ----- the ‘other’ view is that all humans are ‘learners’ ---- )

-  indecision

-  un-confidence

-  over-confidence

-  avoidance of problems

-  impatience

-  ‘rushing’ syndrome

-  greed

-  mean-ness

 - envy/jealousy

-  superiority stance/practice

 

and so forth ----

The individual chooses an area relevant to themselves as the ‘area of self-work’, which may be ‘an undesirable trait’ or, for instance, a fixed mind set from, say, early years, but which is proving to be less than productive in adult life. 

 

4)   Practising mindfulness self-work technique

Taking say, the trait of ‘rushing to get things over with’, which may well in the longer term add to stress rather than relieve it, the individual identifies it (if relevant) as a ‘common trait’ and determines to address it. One way could be for the individual to ‘order’ themselves not to do it. This though can tend to have the effect of ‘putting a lid on it’, the potential problem then being that when pressure builds, the lid can then blow off, so no longer-term ‘fix’, plus of course it being  ‘mind-generated’ itself.

 The alternative approach is to use a ‘mindfulness technique’ application, in which a ‘watching’ approach is used. When the ‘rushing’ trait appears, instead of automatically reacting into ‘rush’ mode, or reacting self-critically, the individual aims to instead ‘watch’ the trait occurring, not automatically reacting and getting then into ‘rush’ mode, plus aiming to take a ‘non-judgmental’ approach (and it tends to be the mind that does the judging), but rather taking the ‘it is as it is’ approach, which also has the advantage of encouraging/aiding wider awareness.

This can take some practice, but the effort can be well worth it. By heading into ‘watching’ mode, the individual gives themselves (i.e. already being ‘kinder’ to themselves) that bit of space and time to then be able to make their own decision (‘real self’ operation), and may decide, say, not to react at all, just ‘watching’, or to adopt a differing response. Such a process will inevitably take time as it’s likely that the trait being addressed will be ‘well grooved’, and repeat automatically, but gradually over time via repeated mindfulness practice will then lose it’s power, and the individual thus empowers themselves, now not being ‘at the mercy’ of such automatic behavioural responses. 

Another example could be that of facing the trait of ‘impatience’, which could for instance stem from people being in the position due to cultural conditioning of feeling they have to be ‘instantly perfect’. Again when impatience is experienced, the individual doesn’t now seek to judge or censor it, but rather ‘watches’ it occurring, without automatically heading down the impatience behavioural path.

 Nothing else has to happen unless it’s decided that an alternative option is taken – the act of watching rather than responding automatically then gradually reduces the power of such an automatic trait to control the individual, a powerful trend which further down the line can lead to an important change. The mind no longer then will be able to operate autonomously; rather it will then have become the ‘servant’, not the ‘master’, and the individual can then take a big step forward in terms of feeling their own inner authentic strength, gaining greater awareness, and advancing along the ‘real self’ journey ---

 (the autonomous power operation of the mind has been labelled ‘the tyranny of the mind’).

‘However many holy words you read, however many you may speak, what good will they do you if you do not act upon them?’

(Buddha)

 

5)   Identifying benefits - taking stock

The ‘taking action’ mode can already give a boost, partly as ‘forward movement’ in itself, and partly as it holds the longer-term promise of ‘improved life’ ----, and also of course because the individual can feel positive about themselves taking such action.

‘Knowing others is wisdom : knowing self is enlightenment’   (Zen Master)

Then such self-work can be productive on several fronts : strengthening authentic individual internal power; for instance, the individual now starting to ‘call more of their own shots’, and in the processing freeing themselves from mental conditioning, external and internal. Better self-nourishment, along with higher levels of self-acceptance can also be key elements in the journey to ‘real self’ empowerment. 

Working with traits seen as ‘imperfect’, not only fosters such better self-acceptance, but also means that the individual is aligning closer with reality, without which it could be unlikely to reach the ‘real self’ stage, and which could also well have a ‘de-stressing’ effect due to more self-acceptance, along with the relegation of unrealistic ‘impossible’ instant self-perfection goals. The process of ‘seeing’ such thought processes/mind sets working in ‘automatic action’ then fosters self-awareness as an understanding develops of how and how much automatic thoughts have been an influence.

The journey to ‘real self’ empowerment at the same time can then challenge set and fixed mindsets of the individual, in effect re-directing them to more grounded levels based ‘in reality’. Over-high mindset expectations can put undue pressure on people, then tending to produce the ‘tyranny of the mind’ condition, where the mind, in autonomous mode, clearly calls the shots, and often with unrealistic, pressurised expectations, such as ‘instant perfection’ desires.

 The mindfulness practice journey can then over time reduce the power of such set autonomous mindsets with the longer-term effect that the individual, with the advantage of greater awareness and understanding, then becomes ‘the controller’, with the mind then relegated to being ‘the servant’, and with the individual then experiencing increasing ‘real self’ freedom. It all takes time --- no rush, and working at, but one advantage is that the benefits, being cumulative, can be felt ‘along the way’.    The mind can be a ‘wanting’ instrument  - Buddha for instance identified ‘mind wanting’ as a primary source of potential suffering for people ---  One of the advantages of mindfulness practice, though, is that it can be also used to counteract/offset any undue ‘mind wanting’ with the same then being ‘watched’, rather than internalised --- 

Over time, awareness is likely to increase based on the individual’s increasing understanding of how they’ve been operating and also the more real and self-nourishing work freeing the self from the ‘tyranny of the mind’ condition, translating then to more compassion for self and so then others------ (such processes can of course happen ‘naturally’ - the argument for a planned self-work approach is that it can be helpful and supportive, and can be needed, on the basis that there is an increasing conditioning load on individuals from a busy and ‘noisy’ mainstream culture ----).

 

6)   Extending mindfulness and awareness range

The self-awareness and ‘real self’ control gained by the individual via mindfulness practice can then lead to a process of on-going accumulating greater levels of self-awareness and understanding, fostered by success from the initial stages. The individual can for instance gain self-knowledge and understanding which can come as something of a revelation during and after the release from fixed mindsets and ‘the tyranny of the mind’ condition : indeed this could be a major factor in terms of people then feeling more freedom, as well as greater understanding of life forces and situations. It is relatively easy to see, given the benefits to the individual, that such a self-awareness journey can then become something of an on-going quest, certainly for some.

There are those who suggest that humans are anyway spiritual beings having the human experience, rather than the reverse, and that the goal, conscious or hidden, of human beings, is to ‘find their way home’ in a spiritual sense. Some, for instance, experience specific ‘spiritual awakenings’. Along these lines then, ‘real self’ experience could encompass some spiritual-related experience, at the personal, individual level rather than at any ‘organisational’ level, ‘spiritual’ here being used in the wider, general sense rather than, say, related to a particular organised man-made religion. ‘Love of nature and connection to it’ would for instance be regarded by some, including this author, as having a spiritual component.

Down the line it’s possible that individuals can experience what’s called ‘the enlightenment state’, then experiencing the ‘whole and healed’ state, ‘oneness’ with creation, bliss, joy, universal energy and suchlike – quite a ‘full on’ experience as reported by those who have had such an experience. As ever, it’s of course up to the individual as to whether they take up any ‘further quest’ -----

7)  Experiencing the fuller ‘real self’  

The individual can ‘fully flower’ when living ‘in the light’   (Eastern mystic)

On-going development as outlined above in section 6 inevitably draws the individual to the fuller experience of real self, which is as stated the personal spiritual experience can be stronger felt. Even at the beginning of such a self-development journey the trend towards realism is set with the individual determining to work with a trait seen as ‘imperfect’, rather than following any unrealistic ‘trying to be instantly perfect’ mindset. In this sense the individual may well have gone against an existing ‘fixed’ mindset or sets, again the beginnings of tackling the power of the mind that can exist over the individual (the ‘tyranny of the mind’ condition) - reportedly, for instance, adult UK females ‘beat themselves up’ on average eight times a day.

As their journey has continued and real-self nurturing has taken place, the individual likely lessens any ‘beating themselves up’ habitual trend (for instance, for not being ‘instantly perfect’, for ‘getting things wrong’, for mishaps, for ‘things not going well, for recurring traits seen as ‘unproductive/unattractive’, and so forth ---), which tends to then represent a ‘non-real’ levels of expectation. 

Such a process towards realism can gather its own strength as the inner strength of the individual builds, as the productive self-work the individual undertakes proceeds, then motivating that person to continue with and extend their self-work efforts. Again, how far the individual journeys down the track will likely depend on themselves, as it’s their choice, although as already said there will likely be self-motivation available for those willing to proceed, with the available culmination of the journey likely being the full experience of being ‘at home’ and ‘at one with the universe’, with all the attendant well-being, validity and security attributes that position is able to deliver. 

The full ‘real self’ experience has been described as a ‘flowering’, with the individual feeling fully ‘whole and healed’, ‘fully formed’, ‘at one’ with creation, and experiencing positive ‘universal energy’, with side effects of joy, bliss and the like -not a too bad state of being ---- ?

8)  Personal spirituality/spiritual awakening

As above, there’s the possibility that people could be essentially spiritual beings, and that therefore any ‘at home’ experience can embrace the same. Much of the notion of spirituality seems to have been of the organisational variety as traditionally promoted by religions : spirituality though in the sense here is more to do with personal spirituality as experienced directly at the individual level, and which is then experienced as ‘real’ by the individual. It’s interesting to note that recent (2020) investigations have indicated that a majority of ‘ordinary individuals’ report having had ‘spiritual based experience’, which along with the ‘real self’ journey evidence, could beg the question as to whether authentic spiritual experience in actuality is really an individual-based phenomenon - ?

 A key point may well be that by undertaking the self-work which ‘liberates’ the individual from ‘the tyranny of the mind’, leading then to the ‘open mind’ position, and which then through the nature of the work also adds to the increasing experience of and contact with, reality, the individual then creates the opportunity for themselves to experience ‘bigger reality’ (i.e. than themselves) and connect then with universal energy and wavelengths, to then potentially experience the ‘at home’ level of being, which may well then include an authentic individual spiritual element ------

 

9) Progressing to the full-on ‘real-self ‘---

If and when the individual, having done the ‘mental clearing’, done the ‘de-conditioning’, done the self-work in essence challenging ‘the tyranny of the mind’, besides nurturing ‘real self’ and building self-acceptance and inner self-strength, plus  calmed their ‘systems’ via meditation and the like, (a pretty full programme ----- ), as above a position of ‘whole and healed’ can occur, along with full ‘self validation’, full ‘inner security’ and positive experiences of well-being, joy, compassion – bliss even.

‘All of creation is in bliss --- -except man’     (Eastern mystic)

 Maybe this is how people in the fuller sense ‘are mean’t to be ----’ ?

This is the full-on ‘real-self’ experience and for some, it may well feel too like a ‘blossoming’, ‘living in the light’ - the epitome of how a person in their full ‘true’ persona can be --- Maybe not too many people have had such a ‘full works’ experience which, as it’s ‘living in the light’, is enlightening, and life, whilst in some respects is the same, can be also very different. ‘Small’ events such as, say, the help to someone in need, care for an animal, can for instance become more meaningful than full-on ‘flash living’ situations, as no doubt many individuals experience too in the course of ‘normal’ life.

!0)  Living ‘true self’ in an ‘it is as it is’  world ----- 

It may sound as though ‘true real self’ living is then going to be ‘the biz’, but in practice such may not quite be the case, partly at least because the rest of the world may not exactly be on the same wavelength, so may not, for instance be inclined to behave or react quite so positively ------ this could come as a bit of a shock and disappointment, and some ‘re-adjustments may be needed to avoid, for instance, coming over ‘too strong’ in others eyes. Again, though, awareness can be an effective answer – awareness that some people are to some extent ‘trapped’ in their conditioning, and can be settled in that state. The self-realised person is not necessarily ‘better’ than others, but maybe otherwise be described as being  ‘further down the track’ ----  

 

Some hopefully helpful ‘journeying’ tips : 

-  self-managing the journey - the start is a single step, aiming to be ‘where it’s at’ rather than in ‘escape mode’

- avoiding too much rush, seeing end result as ‘prize’, achievement’ - rather, it’s a natural outcome, and it takes time -seeing ‘rushing’ as just a ‘mind want

- being on the journey, aiming to enjoy the journey. (‘Tek yer time me boyo, tek yer time’ , said the ol’ boy Dorset (UK) farmer some years ago ---- )

 

End Piece -------

To embark on a journey to arrive at ‘real’, ‘true’ self may of course not be possible for everyone. Some may anyway not be interested, some operating under constrained conditions may not be in a position to participate and, for instance, some may not be in sufficiently ‘free’ circumstances to follow any ‘individual potential’ path.

For those interested and able, such a journey can be self-sustaining, in that the self-understanding, self-strength and self-nurturing gained along the way can itself motivate to move further along the path, to the point when the individual can experience a transcendent experience and even personal ‘spiritual awakening’. It’s been said, for instance, as above, that people are on this planet as essentially spiritual beings having a human experience, rather than the reverse. Such a notion would seem to fit with some spiritual writers such as Gary Zukav, who in his book ‘Seat of the Soul’, writes : 

To live with reverence means being willing to say ‘this is life, we must not harm it’. Without the perception of the ‘holiness of all things’ the world becomes cold and barren, mechanical and random:  at the same time this creates experiences of alienation and violence. It is not natural for people to live without reverence – approaching life with reverence means acting and thinking as a spiritual person in a world that doesn’t recognise spirituality’ 

( some recent UK reports indicated that over 80% of people had had a spiritual experience )

Such sentiments would seem to be in some conflict with modern cultural mainstreams which in the west have tended to follow the secular route,  espousing ‘super’ materialistic trends of wealth accumulation, ‘flash’ luxury living (often of competitive nature -’my new luxury yacht is bigger than yours’ etc) and luxury, leisure, ‘lotus eating’ lifestyles, which some might suggest lack deeper dimensions and ‘life meaning’. It seems that the most ‘known’ relatively contemporary man on earth, Muhammed Ali, apparently thought similarly. One of his daughters on his death wrote :

‘Dad always taught us that it isn’t wealth or power that makes a person great, it’s their heart’

Maybe, though, modern man has over-dosed on rationality and logical thought - ? :

The problem with the scientifically-minded –--- what they call ‘reason’ and ’right thinking’ is not rational at all, it’s simply the rationalisation of the ‘spiritually flat earth’ of their own inner world. Since they experience nothing transcendental or divine themselves, they deduce there is nothing, which is actually just negative credulity, not science.’

(John Anthony West)

Undertaking the ‘self-work’ journey, discovering ‘the tyranny of the mind’, then effectively converting the mind into ‘the servant’ rather than ‘the controller, can also automatically reduce restrictions on the heart, involving the individual then being compassionate to self and countering any ‘beating self up’ process and in so doing self-nurturing and self-strengthening themselves, gaining understanding and heart-opening self-compassion, likely then a sound basis for compassion and understanding for others -------

The ‘work-on-self’ route can then lead to ‘authentic self’ building then leading to greater awareness and consciousness levels, plus ‘holistic understanding’,  and even maybe to the elysian fields of ‘at home’ well-being and greater individual fulfilment ---------- ‘bliss can beckon ---- ‘

 

Good freerangin’ ------

 

 

 

Bibliography :

 

 Ezra Bayda          The Authentic Life

Michael Foley       The Age of Absurdity

John Heider          The Tao of Leadership

Gary Hennessey    The Little Mindfulness Workbook

Jack Kornfield      After the Ecstasy the Laundry

Yamate Kunihiro  The Way of No-Mind

John Lane              Timeless Simplicity/ Timeless Beauty

Stephen Levine      A Gradual Awakening 

Thomas Moore      A Religion of One’s Own : Guide to Creating a Personal Spirituality in a Secular World

Robert Pirsig          Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Mike Robin            Real-Self Realisation - an Authentic Route to Fulfilment?  (‘Freerange’ Books page)

Fritz Schumacher  Small is Beautiful

Eckhart Tolle          A New Earth :  Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

Claire Weekes          Self-help For Your Nerves

Tags: Eco-holding husbandries · Free Range Living

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