My friend, John Veen, recently published a new book titled Losing my grip.
It is excellent. I think it is his best, which says a lot.
John asked me to write the foreword to the book, which I did. And, I asked him if it would be okay to publish the foreword here on my blog for your enjoyment.
He agreed, so here it is.
It is not easy to be honest when we live in a world in which delusion is worshiped.
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I am reminded of the Emperor’s New Clothes; in case you are not familiar with the plot, let me give you a brief synopsis. In the interest of vanity, greed, and avoiding the discomfort of being a contrarian, the emperor and all of his subjects willfully ignore the obvious: the emperor has been scammed, and his new clothes are non-existent.
The emperor is naked.
All ignore this truth except one boy, who, in his naivete, declares the obvious: the emperor has no clothes.
The emperor has no clothes. What I mean by that is that life is plainly obvious. It is exactly as it is. It is not dressed up. It does not conform to my wishes.
This is so radically different from what we are sold in the form of spirituality, religion, and philosophy as to be shocking.
Most keep declaring that the emperor’s new clothes are beautiful, elegant, and dashing despite the fact that this deceit is absolutely ridiculous.
There are a few who, by luck, I think, discover how unbearably painful and miserable it is to lie to ourselves so much of the time.
So we start being honest.
That honesty is not something that gets rid of delusion or cancels it out. It merely is the recognition of delusion as it is.
It is the recognition that delusion is all that is. And in that is the recognition of our inherent, unalienable freedom.
John is – and this is not hyperbole – the clearest writer I know of in pointing this out. By finding this book, you are very lucky in my view.
John writes that those describing the intricate patterns and fabulous weave of the emperor’s clothes are the “self-appointed leaders […] on the progressive path.” And he goes on to say that “some of us can no longer stomach these half-baked vendors.”
What to do?
The answer John offers to this question is equally clear: “light.” As in, light the way, your way, yourself.
Here, he is not speaking of literal light. Nor of an imaginary, spiritual light that one can cultivate through practice.
He is speaking of light in the common, metaphorical sense. It is the light that one “shines” on a situation simply by paying attention, being aware in the mundane sense.
There is nothing more to do. And this “doing” is instantaneous and changes nothing.
But John doesn’t pretend that this light is strictly by chance; there is intention involved.
The intention is what he refers to as a kind of religious attention to the nature of suffering.
Be “religious.” Pay attention. And read this book.
I’ve got no stake in the book. But I do openly endorse it because it’s good. It’s entertaining too because John is clever with words.
I have been intending to post this since last week, and I’ve got more stuff I want to write, but I’ve been held up because of some health problems. More on all that in what I hope will be a few more posts in coming days.