Getting Free - Staying Free is a concise and practical guide to present-centred living. We all want to inhabit life as fully as possible; and the present is the only time to do that. But merely wanting to be present-centred is not enough. And too much wanting keeps it away. Getting Free - Staying Free dissolves that paradox by showing how such a life can be had merely through quite simple practices.
With short, easy and natural steps you will be shown how to spend less time with habits like remorse, sorrow and anxiety, and more time fully engaged with life, by having your main presence in the here-and-now - rather than off somewhere in your head or heart, fluttering between past and future, desire and dread.
The subtitle The Practice of Presence refers to the books's complete and tried-out practice method that does not depend on having a teacher, or a therapist. Those valuable roles are taken by a series of practice-guides intended to be read and re-read, so as to keep clear the path set out. There is a question-and-answer section which gives the impression of having a dialogue with the author.
Forget about controlling your mind, stilling your thoughts, or striving for inner calm. Now you are invited to a more direct route: the mind and its ego are by-passed, not confronted and grappled with. This is the non-forceful way of acceptance and awareness, not that of concentration or determination. It is "doing", not "trying".
After 40 years of study of philosophy and psychology, Simon Crosby has written a thoroughly practical and original book. Getting Free - Staying Free is ideal for putting in the hand of an intelligent friend who has been wondering how to inhabit life fully, how to loosen the grip of ego, and maybe more. It will be useful to newcomers to these issues. And also useful to any old-timers needing a nudge, or a dose of demystification.
Another extract: The ancient Indian philosophy of advaita, also known as non-dualism, is one of the three pillars that this book rests upon; the other two are zen and psychotherapy. For westerners, advaita is harder to grasp than zen is. In the bibliography there are three books on advaita which would provide the fullest possible understanding of it. However, I imagine that most readers who are curious about advaita may not want to go quite as far as those books would take them. Therefore I am going to give a brief outline which may seem a bit sketchy.
The line of advaita thinking that I have followed seems best represented by Francis Lucille. He studied advaita with Jean Klein who, in turn, had it from Krishnamenon [Sri Atmananda] and others in the 1950s. Francis Lucille may be the foremost exponent of the advaita tradition currently teaching.
Teachers conveying advaita in its purest form, might disagree with the approach of this book, and with what follows, because I imply different levels of understanding are possible. The more simple, the more practically helpful to a newcomer, I believe. Advaita maintains that reality consists of energy in the form of consciousness. That means that consciousness is the fundamental all-pervading reality underlying what we usually experience and take to be real. That consciousness is the same as what I refer to in this book as presence.
Advaitins, devotees of advaita, regard consciousness [sometimes referred to as 'That'] as beyond all forms of causation, and to be the only reality - some say that everything else is illusion. But, in my view, it is simply not practical to dismiss everything else - our social and material contexts - as illusory. You and I have to operate in those contexts, and so everything-as-illusory is not a useful starting point - unless you are enlightened [in which case you won't need a starting point].
This book has been designed to be a practical platform for establishing, through practice, a relationship with the presence that advaita confirms is our common background. Once established, that sense of presence which is beyond the mundane, can, as it were, look back to the mundane and modify how we construe it.
Some full-blown advaitins would probably deny that practice has any place in the approach to presence, indeed some would deny even the possibility of 'approach' as having any relevance. Such people tend to say that direct or sudden enlightenment as to our true nature and situation is the only valid awakening. Well, that is fine for them, but not for some of us lesser beings. We may have little sense of our own enlightenment, but we may already sense that our common consciousness is more significant than is usually thought. And we want to approach it somehow.
It seems to me that advaita says that if you take consciousness to be the sole reality then that view itself steers you away from the trap and illusion of taking yourself to be a person [the source of duality] because persons, plus all the rest of what we take to be parts of 'what is' , are merely illusions, like mirages. For some of us that is hard to take on as any kind of personal operating system, and any system would be an illusion anyway. So where do we start?
Well, we begin by dodging the obvious advaita objection that 'starting' is also an illusion. The next step, and it is an easy one, is to acknowledge that we can witness what we feel, think and do. This witness [called in advaita: sakshin chaitanya] stands in between our background as consciousness [or presence] and our mundane, finite ego-bound being. Here, I suggest, is the bridge to advaita. As this book suggests, by enhancing, through practice, the presence of the witness you weaken any false identification of yourself as your mind and ego, and you also weaken unhelpful notions. Such practising thins the veils that separate you from consciousness as presence.
You can practice with the intriguing advaita notion that. 'you are not a person'. When you have recovered from that, I suggest you experiment and see what happens when you relax the idea that you are a person - you are presence.
Knowing about not taking yourself to be a person helps you understand it when a modern advaita teacher, such as Francis Lucille, suggests you abide in not-knowing - if you have worked on not being a person then not-knowing is no great jump. Similarly when Francis Lucille talks of setting aside the doer, that is another invitation to consider not taking yourself as a person. Not-knowing, not being the doer, nor even a person - all these ideas crop up throughout advaita teaching and you will find echoes of them throughout the practice section, part two of this book.
Getting Free - Staying Free is finished, is being polished, but it is not yet published. If you would like to be informed when the book is available please e~mail Simon Crosby, or write to him at Hindleap Corner, Forest Row, East Sussex, RH18 5JF, England.The author's psychotherapy practice
If you would like to contact Simon Crosby about this forthcoming title please fill in the form below.
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