The challenge that we all face when trying to explore our spirituality is just how do we cultivate a life of peace and serenity within which our Souls can thrive and express itself. The problem that many of us face today is that sense of freedom for which we crave so deeply is becoming increasingly elusive; either through poverty, racial harrassment or political control.
In his book, ‘Freedom Is Your Only Choice: 108 Questions To Discover Your True Self’, Ajay Kapoor sets out 108 questions and answers that he hopes will
….clear the clouds of wrong understanding so that the shine of the brilliant Sun of the Self can be experienced.
In the first of his sequence of questions Ajay asks how it is that we can attain that condition of mind that, through the regular practice of meditation, can create peaceful detachment.
The author answers this important opening question by explaining that there are actually two aspects to the mind.
The first includes its various functions such as intelligence, analysis, feelings, perception, memory, visualization, habit patterns, ego. etc.
The second aspect to the mind includes three specific Buddhist qualities called gunas; which are said to work in the background whilst the mund is ferforming its other important functions.
Gunas one is lethargy, or tamas, and refers to laziness, confusion, chaos, procrastination and insensitivity.
Gunas two is refered to as rajas, or sensualty. It relates to such conditions as dependence upon money, relationships, sex, approval, the controlling of others and the endless range of activities we indulge in when pursuing happiness.
Gunas three is sattwa, or purity. It includes dependence upon compassion, introspection, harmonious surroundings and the happiness of others.
It is said that these three qualities create
…clouds of restlessness.
In order to be at peace it is necessary to become detatched from all three gunas.
In answering the question ‘What is the personality?’ The author suggests that it is the inevitable result of the combination of all these three.
From this core position, Ajay reflects upon the meaning if detachment, or disentanglement from these mental constructs. It is through a developed sense of detachment that we are able to pursue that state of freedom for which we yearn and can only find as a condition within ourselves.
Freedom focuses upon the trail of personal experiences that emerges from these basic practices. With consideration regarding the nature of the mind and living in the present moment and then through to the correct approach to personal duties and relationships with family and friends.
As each question is carefully posed and then answered within the book a developed commentary emerges and then develops which, in turn, weaves through basic Buddhist teachings.
Some of these questions are alos, by their very nature, theological and spiritual in context. Others are purely practical and relate to the most mundane aspects of living such as the nature of marriage and coping with death.
Finally, in concluding the commentaries within his book, Ajay offers some practical advice to Western readers – and particularly to those leading busy lives – on the best regime to develop for finding the time necessary for meditation and contemplation.
The message contained within the book is simply that without devoting that necessary time and energy to the practice your are never really likely to experience that sense of freedom for which your spirit really yerans.
One hundred and eight questions after starting to read this book I felt that I had really started to engage with the message that it offers. That is not to say that I entirely found a place in my own personal philosophy for all that was being revealed. In many ways I depart somewhat philosophically from many core Buddhist values.
Nevertheless I appreciated the tempering impact that I feel the book offers to those of us caught up in the daily minutiae of trying to survive in this world.
There is little doubt that through our busyness we lose sight of the deeper qualities of life and the book is good reminder of the need to rediscover them – for the sake of our sanity if nothing else.
However, for me the book failed to address the essential dichotomy in our modern life which is that freedom, although desired, is ultimately unattainable in a society that requires us to give away those very same freedoms just in order to earn the money necessary to remain alive.
Nevertheless this is a book that offers a great deal of invaluable help and guidance to those who are prepared to look inside of themselves for what they truly seek.
Freedom is Your Only Choice gently offers to take its reader by the hand and to lead them through that maze of human contradictions that so often irradicates our ability to experience personal bliss and internal freedom.