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Richard Jones (Devon, England)

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The Mystery Experience: A Revolutionary Approach to Spiritual Awakening
The Mystery Experience: A Revolutionary Approach to Spiritual Awakening
by Tim Freke
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Experiencing the Mystery, 31 Aug. 2012
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Tim Freke is authentic. He speaks from his heart and he speaks from his experience, the experience of a lifetime exploring a moment of mystery he encountered at the age of 12. Most of us encounter these moments on one or two occasions in our lives. The renowned psychologist Abraham Maslow called them moments of peak experience. Antonia White described them well in her book The Glass House as moments when `suddenly everything has a significance beyond itself' and which precede periods of creative activity. Sebastian Faulks' hero in Birdsong, on leave from the horror of trenches in Flanders, leans over an English field gate and suddenly "felt himself overtaken by a climatic surge of feeling. It frightened him....Then he saw that what he felt was not an assault but a passionate affinity.......for the rough field going down to the trees and for the path going back into the village where he could see the tower of the church: these and the forgiving distance of the sky were not separate , but part of one creation, and he too, by the repeated tiny pulsing of his blood, was one with them........bound through the mind of creation to the shredded white clouds, the unbreathed air of May, to the soil that lay beneath the damp grass at his feet. He held tightly onto the some residual fear that the force of binding love he felt would sweep him from the earth..... His body shook with the passion that had found him, from which he had been exiled in the blood and the flesh of long killing."
For most of us these moments are less intense and we let them pass. Perhaps we wonder, perhaps we fear, but they remain pinpricks in the normal business of life and for the most part the normality is a comfort and a reassurance that we know what we are about. It was not so for Tim. For him it was a portal through which he could see that the adults around him, submerged in their business, had not a clue what was really going on beyond the necessities of their lives. But he had felt the power of that love in that moment and knew that he had to return to find out more.
In the intervening forty years the search has taken him down many byways and blind alleys, but by persistence he has won through to something he experiences as true and meaningful and which is capable of enhancing and transforming human life. He shares his discoveries with us in this book. He guides the reader into this experience. In the process he flags up many of the dead ends and false routes that have waylaid him along the way. He does not cast himself in the role of teacher, but of companion. He never says `this is how it is' but `this is my experience' and invites the reader to join him in a journey of exploration.

At times he shares the intimacy of the feelings that are arising in him as he writes the book and the journey he takes you on leads to what is arguably the cutting edge of human evolution. To a position where the spiritual life is not `other' and the material world at best a counterfeit or something to be escaped from, or vice versa, but where both are complementary and aspects of a greater whole bearing upon and interacting with each other.

He takes us past the rejection of the world and the `separate self' to an understanding that before we can fully enter into the experience of the unity of being "we need a robust sense of being a separate individual" in order to maintain our balance in the world. His genius is to lead us gently into that experience of unity so that we feel the love and can come to "embrace those parts of ourselves that normally seem unlovable". We learn that by rejoicing in our unique individual separateness we are enabled to enter more fully into the experience of oneness.

As the title says, this book is an experience, not an intellectual treatise. If it is accepted as such and entered into, it can change everything while changing nothing.

How Long is Now?: How to be Spiritually Awake in the Real World
How Long is Now?: How to be Spiritually Awake in the Real World
by Timothy Freke
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cutting Edge of Human Evolution, 25 Nov. 2009
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In `Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' Robert Pirsig refers to those who `blaze their own trail into the high country' of spiritual experience. Tim is such a one as this, and in this book he invites us to join with him on the trail. He has blazed this trail with consistency, integrity and effort for some forty years. It has not been without cost, yet he does not speak to us as a guru dispensing hard won wisdom. He invites us to come alongside and join in the journey, or, if not to join in, to get a taste of it so that we can make more informed choices about our own.

The book is essentially an autobiography, but not in any sense of following a linear time line. It sometimes reminded me of reading `The Time Traveller's Wife' where you are located at a different time, and therefore at a different point in the stories attached to linier time, at the start of each chapter. The meta-story we are following is outside time.

A great strength of this book is that Tim does not speak as having arrived, but only as one marvelling in the excitement and traumas of the journey. At one point he describes how his encounter with Ramesh Balsekar in Mumbai, and the insights he gained from it, made him feel his "journey of awakening was over", but immediately he comes in with "I soon discovered I was wrong about this..." and we go with him to another seminal moment in his experience where the view opens up onto yet another vista of life. This sense of travelling and never arriving is maintained throughout the book until we understand that it is never the destination, but only the journey that is significant. We get the distinct impression that the final insight he offers, in the section headed `the koan pops!', actually occurred while the book was being written, and we know the process will continue after it has been published.

There are two aspects to Tim's approach to spirituality which sets this book in a class of its own as far as I am concerned. The first is his use of rationality to assess his experiences and anchor the conclusions he draws from them. He has had some fairly amazing experiences which he records for us, but he leaves their meaning open. He records that in `modern spirituality' he has encountered a "disturbing amount of childlike gullibility...." which "leaves us confused and vulnerable" and "which discredits spirituality among those more rationally sophisticated." At the same time he makes good his endeavour to `try to keep an open mind on everything'. He shows us how he uses rationality to ground his spirituality without closing himself to new insights, and this is very valuable.
The second aspect is his integration of mundane human experience and spiritual experience into an `undivided garment' with which to clothe ourselves. He takes us through his experience of rejecting normal human life as at best irrelevant, and at worst destructive, to the spiritual journey, to a total acceptance of his humanity and its experiences as one with this journey. The key to this for him was the joy of human love and family life - elements conspicuously missing from much `modern spirituality'.

This unification of the material and spiritual experience of life is, it seems to me, at the cutting edge of human evolution. This book is written from that edge. For too long humanity has suffered from keeping them separate and what this book has to say about the practical business of uniting them in our conscious awareness is of paramount importance to this age.

We are left at the end with a soaring view of human evolution in progress, in which we can all take part no matter where, or in what state, we find ourselves. And we can take part in the knowledge that each one of us matters - each one eases the birth of the greater awareness which humanity will have to embrace if it is to survive in its present form, and each one reduces the suffering which is required to bring this birth about. This book enables us to choose, or not, "to be a member of the deep awake tribe that is arising on the new edge of evolution."

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