Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Untethered Soul: October 2014

I was asked by my daughter to give my opinion of The Untethered Soul, by Michael Singer (2007). This book could be called a guide book to finding one's self, the Life Force, and true happiness. In this deceptively simple book, Singer presents the easy, yet difficult Way to finding the true freedom of the untethered soul.

The book's basic message is that to find one's self, it is necessary to live life with self-awareness. The first step is to look within: know yourself, as advised by the oracle at Delphi, and most mystics.

Listen to the constant chatter that goes on inside your head. Observe what it is saying. Is it coloured by the worldview you have grown up with? What attitudes does it reveal? Is it negative or positive? Is it good for you, or is it hampering you? Once you have learned to do this, what can be done about making it work for you? Is it really you?

Observe your behavior, and that of those around you. Observe your emotions, and why you feel as you do. Realize that you are the observer, and as such, separate from your body and what is happening around it. Understanding this, learn to live in the energy flow of life, without distorting it by holding it back. Go with the flow, work with it rather than impede it. We need to learn to enjoy life as it is, not fret about what we think it ought to be.

If we want to be happy we have to make that choice. We literally have to decide that we want to live the rest of our lives with happiness. Having made that choice, we train our minds to turn away feelings of unhappiness. Life happens, but we accept it as it is and separate ourselves from it, rather than fretting about what ought to be, as we see it. Life is: we train ourselves to accept it as it is; we work with what is happening.

As we move within ourselves, we find unity with the Life Force. If we choose to identify with this part of our being, this brings happiness and peace beyond understanding. We are part of the great ocean of consciousness: part of non-judgmental love; part of the ecstasy of life itself; part of the Divine. This then flows out into every aspect of life, and we find ourselves loving others in the same non-judgmental way. This is the Way of the untethered soul. This is the Way to true freedom.

Michael Singer says that untrammeled by any belief system, this is a spiritual way to the Ultimate Reality. So deceptively easy, it seems to be the most difficult Way for many humans to follow. It seems to be so difficult to give up control: control of others; control of the life going on around us; control of material things. Do you find it difficult to understand that this urge to control is controlling you?

Many of us can't seem to see that our belief systems have us in their thrall. We can't face life without an ideological worldview, whether political or religious. We don't want to know that the way to the nonjudgmental love of the Divine, is to ourselves embody that love. It would appear that many of us don't really want to be the untethered soul Michael Singer writes about.

In fact, what Singer is teaching is one of the central concepts in Classical Vedanta Hinduism. It is the aim of the practitioners of this branch of Hinduism to leave behind the need for any image of any god. With no attachments to this life, they are united with the Brahman. They have freed themselves from the wheel of karma, and will move on when they die, to drop into the Ultimate Reality as does a raindrop into the ocean.

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