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on 25 November 2009
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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on 25 August 2009
'How Long is Now' is Tim Freke's best book.

It is his best book because it is absolutely grounded in the joys and stresses of modern life.

Following a profound experience of expanded consciousness as a child, the book is a riveting account of how he has devoted his life to exploring its meaning. Yet this is not a life on a mountain top, hermit's cave or monastic community, but a journey through youthful uncertainties, the challenges of earning a living, marriage, fatherhood and all the other experiences that enrich life.

It is the story of how he travels to the East to understand what happened to him. Of how in the living room of an Indian Guru he once more tastes illumined consciousness - which this time takes root. He sees that it arises from a deep awareness of the eternal 'now' which we never leave and its awesome mystery.

Returning home, he then faces the challenge of nurturing transcendent awareness in the midst of modern western culture. As the experience waxes and wanes under the stress of daily living, he is slowly brought to ever-deeper understanding of what he comes to call lucid consciousness or being deep awake.

What really brings the book to life is its semi-autobiographical nature. It is the many stories, the kind of things that happen to you and me, and how they brought him to deeper insight, that lift this book to another level. The stories earth the book in daily living, where we must all learn to nuture the deep awake state if it is to mean anything.

Above all, this is a book that celebrates life. It is a profound enlightenment teaching, yet does not present expanded consciousness as an escape from a difficult world, but as a joyful way to dive in more deeply.

This is what marks the book out as different. It is why it could be life-changing.
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on 16 October 2013
Timothy Freke sounds like a great guy and I enjoyed his laid back, often humorous style of writing in this book.. My only problem with books like this and of a similar nature is that the wonderful people who write them for the benefit of others are usually people who have experienced an amazing insight into parts of life which the majority of us have not been able to access for whatever reason. Whether this insight has come from events they have witnessed, psychoactive drugs, religion, meditation or just people they have met, they are privy to something many of us aspire to but maybe will never attain.
Timothy is clearly a sincere and loving person who would want to share his insights as are other writers alive or dead. Aldous Huxley, Terence McKenna and David Icke spring to mind. It is so hard to attain 'enlightenment' for want of a better word, and however hard you try without that insight . It's a bit like being blind from birth I imagine to those who have reached this and want desperately to enlighten others that 'there is more..' Nevertheless, I did gain some useful ideas from Tim's book in trying to balance the never ending quest for truth and living in the 'real world!' I hope one day to have similar experiences. I might even write a book afterwards !
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on 21 February 2010
Timothy Freke first experienced a state of heightened consciousness, which he describes as being "deep awake" , when he was twelve. He then spent many years chasing after the same experience and, apparently, he has now reached the point where he can enter that state relatively easily. When he is deep awake he experiences the oneness of the universe and he is filled with a great love.

I practice meditation and I would love to experience oneness, but I have sometimes wondered why the complete elimination of my separate self in order to merge with the oneness of the universe should be considered as a desirable goal. TF explains that the belief that the separate self is something completely different to oneness creates confusion and inner conflict as the mind struggles to maintain its identity. In fact, the separate self is actually part of oneness and if I accept this then I will no longer be at war with myself. The practicalities of everyday life mean that we cannot dwell in the deep awake state of consciousness, so oneness is a temporary experience that we can come back to again and again rather than being a permanent, fixed state. However, if we live with a background awareness of the deep awake state (which he calls "lucid living") then we will keep our problems and hardships in perspective and so live happier lives. Our emotions and our problems are waves on a deep and timeless ocean of stillness.

Overall, his ideas are plausible and I would like to believe they are true but, of course, that doesn't mean that they are true. Despite the 5 start rating I have given the book, I do have some reservations. Although I have practised meditation for a number of years, I have never experienced the sense of oneness which seems to come easily to TF, so believing in it involves a degree of faith. Like the rest of us, TF has had his ups and downs in life, but I get the impression that he is basically a happy person. I have previously read a book which explained that happy people are particularly sensitive to the release of feel good biochemicals in the reward centre of the brain. So, for all I know the feelings he describes could simply be the effects of his brain biochemistry. I was wondering about this especially after I read a section of the book concerned with an acquaintance of his who experiences oneness when she engages in sexual bondage. Is her feeling of euphoria really a moment of spiritual enlightenment or is it simply the result of the release of sexual tension causing a spike of feel-good biochemicals in her brain?

Despite my doubts, I think TF does a good job of describing spiritual practice in a modern context. This is a book I will be returning to in the future and I recommend it to anyone interested in the nature of oneness.
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on 9 November 2009
First I must confess that I know Tim and regularly attend groups that he runs down in Glastonbury. At these meetings there are always people who attend who have been raised as Christians with varying degrees of fundamentalism and have found Tim's `Jesus Mysteries' series helpful. That doesn't really apply to me; during my early twenties I managed to make myself kind of a fundamentalist for Eastern philosophy and pursued the attainment of enlightenment with dogged determination. I practiced keeping my attention `in the now' at every waking moment, believing that this blissful state of consciousness was always just around the corner. As the years passed I had many interesting experiences but that final `click' moment always eluded me. Eventually I started to question my belief systems and realised that I'd taken allot of concepts on board on faith alone, this left me feeling a little bitter, probably annoyed with myself that I'd done this. I know this is not an uncommon story, there are lots of people who have thrown themselves into Eastern mysticism only to end up feeling disillusioned (not in the good way) and go on to reject the whole thing. I think Tim's new book will appeal to such people as it did to me. People who want to separate the baby from the bathwater regarding the kind of philosophy that has come out of India since the 1960's and embrace it whilst retaining their critical faculties. The sub title `How to be Spiritually Awake in the Real World' doesn't refer to some sort of meditation you can practice at work, but rather what advita philosophy looks like striped of its unrealistic idealism. The American edition is sub titled: `A Journey to Enlightenment and Beyond' which in some ways I prefer, as this is a book for anyone who wants to go beyond living with the concept of enlightenment.
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on 7 May 2010
I really enjoyed this book - it's written in a very readable present tense style, very immediate and fast-paced. It has some useful insights and it's clear that Tim has had some powerful spiritual experiences. But my misgivings stem from Tim's apparent desire to show the reader how interesting he is and tell us about all the fantastic things he's done - ironically for a spirituality book, it seems a little egotistical sometimes! I admit it's difficult to write a autobiographical type book without seeming egotistical, but for me the book would have been even better with this aspect.
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on 5 November 2010
What differentiates this book from many in the self-help and mind, body, spirit genre is it's lack of baggage. Timothy Freke is not attempting to sell you a belief system or to buy into his but merely encouraging us to explore the essence of us. Such agnosticism is healthy and refreshing nowadays.

It is packed full of reasoned argument, a sprinkling of postulants and a few imponderables. He is not claiming to have all the answers but possibly some of the keys. It encourages us to go and find out more. What resonated with me was the notion and aspiration of being famous amongst angels.

Reading this book has sent me down a new path and line of thought. One I'd love to share with Mr Freke one day over a cold beer. Thank you for sharing.
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on 3 January 2011
I feel this book may be aimed at readers new to the topic of non-duality, and as such perhaps it is an accessible introduction. Certainly I found it an easy and enjoyoable read, autobiographical in style with a sprinkling of suggested self enquiries, though none were new to me and some of which were borrowed directly from other sources (nothing wrong in that).

...However, for anyone engaged in a deeper questionning of self and reality, the author's emphasis on experiences which can give short lived tastes of Oneness, coupled with his constantly reiterated 'progress' to becoming 'more conscious' make it unlikely to sit on the shelf next to 'I Am That'.

Tim Freke came across to me as a very loveable, genuine person, still trying to figure things out and sharing all his changeing views and beliefs along the way, whilst incredibly wrapped up in the story of Tim...Even to the extent of formulating theories (sorry, 'gaining insights') about how memories of this life are retained after death.
The book read like an interesting personal journal, but for anyone looking to deepen their understanding (or indeed go beyond understanding) I cannot see how it could be of much value as it is so overlayed with theories and concepts of the individual and need to change the world. Oddly enough (or perhaps not!), Freke directly critisises other spiritual teachers for a similar approach ("spiritual jumk food").

I was surprised that in his early 20's Tim was leading spiritual retreats, yet in his late 40s (towards the end of the book) that the follwing 'nugget of wisdom' is discovered:

' "I'm pissed off. It's raining, I've got toothache, and I need a holiday"
"Well, matey, we'd all like sunshine without rain, pleasure without pain, play without work, life without death....but you know this isn't going to happen."
"You're right. Life is predicated on polarity, so you can't have yum without yuk........Yet somewhere along the line I seem to have been sucked in by the ridiculous fantasy that it's possible to arrive at some perfect place, where I'd have good without bad, joy without suffering, clever without stupid, hope without fear" '

This is an example of an exert of the sometimes lengthy dialogues explaining rather obvious ideas, yet he did not go on to say that such divisions exist in the mind only, and that they (as all experiences) appear to witnessing awareness. However, if the quote above is a revelation, you will find lots more, including some basics on intent & manifestation and breathing meditation.

As a manic depressive might assume that everyone swings as wildly on the pendulum of optimism and despair, readers are invited to swing between non-dualism and theories which justify Freke's experience of 'reality' in the dream...And I just didn't buy a lot of it, as well as being thankful that I didn't read it at a time when I would have felt utterly confused by the lack of distinguishment between ultimate & relative reality.

Still, all that is just my ego's opinion, and I did like the humour, compassion and some of the interesting theories did resonate as did the underlying current of non-duality. :)
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on 12 November 2012
An interesting concept about what consciousness is and how to develop it more,while Tim gives examples of his own "waking up" over the years.
In the end I have to admit that I didn't know whether Tim f#@%ed my mind up,or gave me the ultimate wake up call.
I guess only time(and the now)will tell.-)
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on 12 October 2016
This is a very interesting book and has a different way of looking at spirituality. Most of it was helpful but I thought the last two or three chapters were not quite as good as I found some of his ideas too simplistic e.g. levels of awareness and dying. But overall I would recommend this book.
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