Review posted on Amazon.com, 30 September 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
My favourite book of the year.
I experienced a shift in awareness right in the middle of reading this book. I found this book from a random search under “awareness, spirituality” and I know nothing of the author, stumbling upon this book was sheer grace. If you are interested in moving towards truth, buy this book. Many thanks to Pathik for writing such a clear exposition on the truth of who we are.
What you’re looking for is what is looking
By Geoff Ward, 11 March 2022
The lotus flower: symbol of healing, self-regeneration and rebirth.
As the tragedy of international events continues to show, the world’s madness will continue as long as we define ourselves as separate entities, as egos, belonging to a particular race, religion, nation, family, political or social group, or we think of ourselves in terms of career, accomplishments, personal talents or similar.
What we are, at the most fundamental level, has nothing to do with any of these things, writes Pathik Strand in his visionary work Flowering into Awareness: A spiritual manifesto for the 21st century (O-Books, UK £11.99 / US $18.95, January 2022): ‘Our true nature is that of pure, luminous, limitless, impersonal universal consciousness.’
Understanding this has the potential to change one’s life in profound and unexpected ways, and to transform life on Earth for the better, says Strand, a Norwegian but resident in the UK; the full flowering of our potential, in fact our ultimate destiny, depends precisely on the dawning of this realisation.
Enlightenment cannot be achieved by the person, the individual, the separate entity. It can flower only when the seeker, the meditator, the ego (the ‘makeshift identity’), realises that a strictly personal identity is a fictitious one, and that his or her true nature is that of universal, boundless consciousness.
My reaction to this book is one of unequivocal admiration. It lays bare the snares of our self-deception to uncover what to me appears to be — while viewing the human condition today with a sad perplexity — the ultimate truth about life and existence. Indeed, it could be the book of the decade, if not one of the seminal works of the century.
It comprisesa collection of wise and impassioned essays proposing that the universal consciousness, embracing ‘all that is’, is the true essence and entire reality of what the human being is, and what the world is. Strand seems to me a man of understanding, great good sense and economy of mind who has something vitally important to say on every page of his book.
The universal consciousness is indivisible, irreducible and all-inclusive, human consciousness being simply ‘another flavour or manifestation of that which is the source and essence of all’ where all phenomena seem to arise, exist and disappear.
‘Lack of true meaning and purpose is a defining characteristic and inevitable consequence of the materialistic view of life currently embedded in our culture and civilisation.’
He says his book is ‘an attempt to help you answer the question of who you are in a direct and authentic way, and also to make you understand how the realisation of your true nature is the key to the transformation of human consciousness and the emergence of a new world of peace and harmony’.
Strand writes in a temperate, conversational tone, with a certain humility and an open-hearted sincerity, but suggesting strongly that the reader questions all answers, including his own, none of which, he says, are meant as absolute and unassailable truths, but rather as sustenance for a journey ‘much more profound and meaningful than any cleverly expressed theory of verbal statement’.
He’s fully aware of the adage ‘what we believe seems to be true’, but says that everyone sooner or later will discover there are no solutions or answers outside ourselves, and that all explanations, whether from religion, politics or science, ultimately are worthless: ‘the reality that we are confronted with on a daily basis is that the world is stark raving mad’. The madness has its root in the human psyche, centred in our lack of self-knowledge.
In the case of Flowering into Awareness, perhaps the words of that adage could be turned to read ‘what seems to be true is believed’. There’s a literary theory, borrowed from Jungian dream analysis, that we read the kind of books we do because they’re either complementary or compensatory to our psychological state, in that we prefer certain kinds of literature because they’re apposite to what’s happening our inner lives. I observe this in myself.
So surely now is the time to really face up to the eternal questions that humanity has long asked: who are we and, fundamentally, are there really divisions between human beings? Power structures to which we submit ourselves — social, political, psychological, cultural — are of our own invention and, when recognised for what they are, could well be dismantled. As Strand points out, we have to stop expecting others to put things right for us; everyone has personal responsibility to make peace and harmony a living reality.
Realising who you are, Strand insists, is ‘the most important and life-changing realisation you can ever have’, with far-reaching consequences that have the potential to change the world for the better and beyond all recognition, invoking a heightened capacity for love, empathy, care and compassion for others and the planet. Once knowing that you are all, conflict with others or the world becomes impossible because there are no others with whom to be in conflict: ‘To put it simply, unconditional love is the fragrance of the flowering of spiritual realisation.’
Materialist self-centredness, seeing the world as existing independently of consciousness, and seeing oneself as separate, inevitably brings about illusion, ignorance and conflict, and is the root cause of all the world’s problems and whatever challenges humanity might be facing, Strand maintains.
‘What is so sorely missing in our selfish, shallow and technology-obsessed world is the realisation that at heart we are all one.’
The philosophy of materialism is often thought of as being scientifically proven, but materialism has nothing to do with genuine science, for it is merely ‘contemporary humanity’s most cherished belief system’. So ingrained and entrenched is the ‘church of materialism’ that nothing short of a miracle will be able to dislodge it.
Nevertheless, it is an archaic and outdated paradigm that has outlived any usefulness it might have once had. Understanding that consciousness is primary, and that everything springs from it, would be the first step towards creating a new post-materialist paradigm.
Thus it seems to me that Strand is writing about the ultimate cultural and psychological implications of post-materialist science which, as the incoming scientific outlook, heralds significant change for everyday life as well as for the future evolution of the human species.
As neuroscientist Mario Beauregard — co-author of the Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science and a founder of the Academy for the Advancement of Post-Materialist Sciences — points out, the new theoretical framework changes entirely the vision we have of ourselves, and ‘gives us back dignity and power as human beings by inviting us to develop the various aspects of our potential’.
For one thing, the standard model of cosmology is no longer a reliable basis for problem-solving and will be replaced by a new model irreconcilable and incompatible with its predecessor. Just as materialist science has had its enormous impact on culture and society, so, in time, post-materialism could come to hold sway under a sea-change in the scientific outlook.
Moreover, Strand’s work also becomes significant in terms of the current recognition of metaphysics as a serious intellectual pursuit in Western academia, where those basic questions of who and what we are, and of the actual essence of nature, are being re-addressed and could again become formative in shaping our lives.
Strand admits readily that his alternative take on reality does not fit well with what is generally accepted as true, real and factual, that it’s starkly at odds with the mainstream materialist worldview that most people take for granted, and cannot be reconciled with such a limited and primitive philosophy of life.
But how does it relate to the world with all its problems and conflicts, its wars, misery and suffering caused by fear and greed? Social and political changes will not, of themselves, make the world a better place in the long run; for the world to change, the individual must change by realising humanity’s true nature, that we are all expressions of the one being — summed up in Strand’s singular aphorism: ‘What you are looking for is what is looking.’
‘Consciousness is quite clearly the big fat festering carbuncle on the end of the long nose of materialism. It is the one thing that none of the long-nosed materialists can ever explain away.’
Is such a change, on a global scale, likely to happen any time soon? Strand admits: ‘As far as I can see, it doesn’t seem to be imminent, but the truth of the matter is that nobody knows, and nobody can know … Despite a lot of talk in various spiritual circles about how more and more people are waking up these days, I have to admit that in spite of my best efforts, I struggle to see that this is the case for the vast majority of humanity.’
Yet he believes that in the wider context of all that is, nothing is out of balance: ‘life is far too mysterious, inscrutable and multidimensional to truly know its ways’. On the level of form, death is the only certainty, yet from the point of view of consciousness, there is no death, only life, no time, only eternity, no space, only infinity, no separation, only oneness.
‘Everything that seems to exist does so only by virtue of consciousness which holds the world, the universe and whatever else there might be within its formless embrace … It is all, yet completely untouched by any of the innumerable forms that constantly appear within it. What you are is all-embracing universal consciousness … indeed everything that ever appears on the level of form is just another modulation of consciousness.’
A disproportionate amount of our time and energy is spent on escapism in one form or another. We gorge ourselves on media, sports, gambling, drugs, sex ‘and whatever else we can grab hold of as soon as we get even the slightest sense of the bottomless void inside us’ — including meditation, yoga, prayer, occultism, spiritualism and religious rituals.
Strand stresses that he’s not against creative activity, although life itself is the ultimate expression of creativity. The only thing that can make a difference to the ‘runaway insanity’ is a radical transformation of human consciousness which can happen only through the individual, an urgent necessity.
When Strand writes that there are ‘no ordinary moments, only this eternal mystery here and now’, it reminds me of the novelist Dorothy Richardson (1873–1957) who insisted that one’s moment-to-moment existence is the ‘ultimate astonisher’ but that we simply can’t grasp such an idea owing to our cultural conditioning.
Strand says he’s not a spiritual teacher and has no desire to be one but if he was to give any advice at all it would be to spend time with nature as much as possible — for meaning and significance then to be spontaneously revealed — and just to be kind and considerate to the world, ‘a much more advanced, practical and powerful tool than even the most sophisticated meditations, intricate religious rituals and highfaluting spiritual practices’.
‘Life itself is the only true religion, nature is its only temple, and loving kindness is its only spiritual practice.’
Despite the book’s sub-title there is an essay entitled ‘Beyond Spirituality’. Strand asks: what religion or spiritual path do you need apart from life itself? ‘What’s the point of going to religious services in churches, temples and mosques other than to be brainwashed into ever deeper states of sleep? Isn’t life in all its mystery and unfathomable glory enough?’
Various methods and systems of meditation, yoga, self-development and so on devised throughout history are good enough for their own purposes, he feels, but they’re irrelevant when it comes to knowing essentially what you are. The reason is that the essence of being is already the case; obvious, inarguable and irrefutable: the one consciousness that is everything and nothing at the same time.
Strand might not have a name for his philosophy, but it seems to me that Flowering into Awareness is a veritable handbook of what I’ve called ‘transcendental pragmatism’, which I regard as a necessary aid to the evolution of human consciousness, and which I’ve written about elsewhere.*
I agree that we need a more spiritual response to the dangers inherent in the technological society and the shallowness of modernity; a more organic way of living needs to be found if we are to attain that crucial point of eucatastrophe, the turning back from the brink of disaster. Unconscious forces released by existential dread, including those of the ‘New Age’ phenomenon, must be tempered by and applied with a certain practicality if they are to be of any lasting use.
I envisage entering into a region of experience in which the rational and the non-rational are unafraid to cohabit and can produce new sets of correspondences and connections leading to a deeper insight into the way of our universe. Transcendental in the sense of laying emphasis on intuition as a means of knowing the universal, spiritual reality, and which embraces the belief that a divinity pervades nature and humanity; and pragmatic in the idea that a theory or concept should be evaluated in terms of how it works, what its consequences are, and what are its standards for action and thought.
Like Strand, I have faith in the potency and potential of the human mind to flower and rise above the mediocre and the malevolent to new and higher levels of awareness, and to press against and challenge the boundaries of our limiting everyday consciousness.
On March 5, 2022, Strand, at his Adventures in Consciousness website, wrote on his blog: ‘Humanity is presently involved in an epic and unprecedented battle for survival, and the process that we are part of during these extraordinary and world-historic times is more than anything else nothing short of a spiritual transformation. It only remains to be seen what price we are going to have to pay for giving birth to the new human inhabiting the new Earth, and what we are going to have to sacrifice on this journey.’
Endorsement for: ‘Flowering into Awareness’ by Pathik Strand
By Billy Doyle
-Author of Yoga in the Kashmir Tradition: the art of listening. Following the teachings of Jean Klein and The Mirage of Separation.
This book truly is a manifesto for our modern age in which Pathik Strand explores our real nature, consciousness, that which is beyond time and space. He demonstrates in detail how the current materialistic paradigm – that we are all separate entities living in a world that exists independently of consciousness – is the basis of our individual and collective suffering and the insanity of our world. Pathik shows that it is only by coming to self-knowledge of our real nature is transformation possible and a new world can emerge. This is not a path of spiritual effort and discipline to achieve a goal, we are this awareness right now, nothing needs to be added, only to allow this spontaneous understanding to blossom. The understanding we are universal consciousness is explored in depth and breadth; this truth emanates from every page of an inspiring book.