Sunday, 4 February 2018

“Why am I here?”

Why am I here? is a question we sometimes ask ourselves.

What if we take a step back from there to the question of “Why is there 'something'? Why not simply 'absolute nothingness'?”

I can only imagine that this is because there exists an inherent (and self-evidential) possibility or potential of “something” existing, and able to manifest under the right conditions. This reminds me of Schrödinger's cat.

In other words, we have not emerged from the ground of some futile void, but from a fertile void, and the presence of an observer, and consciousness itself, may well be two of the requirements for manifestation.

As the famous, mystical hadith qudsi tells us: “I was a hidden treasure and wanted to be known.”

  • Image title: Huile sur toile au couteau . création symbolique 2008
  • Image source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Image author: Atchama.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

“Why are you giving away your mystical adventure and sci-fi ebooks?”

I started writing way back, long before terms like “self publishing” and “indie authors” were coined; a time when people still turned up their noses at what they perceived to be “vanity publishing”. Along came the e-book and the Amazon Kindle, and I decided to make the most of this opportunity, and take charge of the publishing and marketing process, using the newly-emergent social media of Facebook, Twitter, blogging platforms, and – to a lesser extent – Google+.

This worked fine for some time, but as more and more joined the indie gravy train; as indie became more and more mainstream; and as marketing gradually became a matter of who could shout the loudest in this new, hustling, bustling marketplace, I became more and more disenchanted with the direction that things were heading, at least for me.

I've always shied away from competition, in favour of healthy cooperation, and much prefer the road less travelled, or dancing to the beat of a different drum, to mainstream activity, fashion and craze. In one of the books, a wise, old character advises: “The mind observes and cogitates, the heart engages, and I would encourage you to engage with the process,” and I've tried to take her sage advice. When your heart is engaged in something fun and hopefully worthwhile, there is no distinction between work and play, and I'd very much like to keep it that way.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Walkaway, a Novel by Cory Doctorow

I found Walkaway – "an epic tale of revolution, love, post-scarcity, and the end of death" – a really good read.

Well worth ★★★★★.

I'm not sure that I can go with the *detail* of the story, perhaps because I'm not sure if the technology will be available "whenever" to, say, fabricate better fabricators -- though I'm sure scavenging would be a viable option -- or whether we'd have to reinvent the loo roll, the toothbrush, and dry stone walling. There is a helluva lot of necessary infrastructure behind even moderately-complex electronics these days, and if that was compromised, we may find the whole house of cards come tumbling down.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Perhaps “no one will live who still remembers it” ~ Wouter Hanegraaff

If there is one blog post that I would recommend to fellow freethinkers, it is “Perspective 2016” by Wouter Hanegraaff. It really is one of my all-time favourites.

Hanegraaff is full professor of History of Hermetic Philosophy and related currents at the University of Amsterdam, and was President of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE) from 2005 to 2013.

In this excellent and timely, and yet also timeless, essay – which will resonate with many who are acquainted with that other mystical tradition, the Sufi Way and the writings of Idries Shah – Hanegraaff writes:

“The world is changing. At this end of the year, with Christmas coming up and a New Year just around the corner, I feel a need to gain some perspective on what is happening all around us, and how it is affecting our very ways of thinking, our very ways of living, our very conceptions of what is possible, our very expectations of where we are going, and most importantly, our very ways of imagining where we should be going ...”

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Escape From the Shadowlands, and Game of Aeons – Free Ebooks

Two ebooks, Escape From the Shadowlands, and Game of Aeons: A short novel, are free for a limited time.

You can download the books using the direct links below, from our web site:

MAY 2017 UPDATE: You can download copies of ALL the books from here on our web site. Although marked as "review copies", there are no strings attached.

Enjoy, and have a great summer!

Thursday, 10 December 2015

The Sufi Mystics: Ancient Wisdom for Dire Modern Times

The Sufis paperback book cover 2015
Just over fifty years ago, in 1964, the writer, thinker and Sufi teacher Idries Shah’s major work, The Sufis, was published. Writer and later winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature 2007, Doris Lessing, writing in The Washington Post, described the work as “a seminal book of the century, even a watershed,” and the poet Ted Hughes wrote that “the Sufis must be the biggest society of sensible men on Earth.” Men and women, that would be. At the time of his death, in November 1996, Shah’s thirty-or-so books on travel, philosophy, psychology and spirituality had sold over 15 million copies in a dozen languages worldwide.

Although others had come before Shah, such as the Sufi teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan, at the time Shah wrote his first work popularising the subject, the Sufi Way was largely unknown outside of specialist academic and Sufi circles. The closest many had come to Sufism would possibly be to have read the tales in One Thousand and One Nights, which were actually of Sufic origin and designed to surreptitiously convey certain teachings and survive through their popularity.

Many of Shah’s books have teaching tales scattered throughout them, or are collections of such tales, which have multiple layers of meaning that can be revealed like the layers of an onion, rather than the simple morals that we have become accustomed to in the West, via the likes of Aesop. Some, such as the tales of the folksy philosopher and wise fool, Nasrudin, use humour as a vehicle.

According to the Sufis, a wholly scholastic or logical approach to study, or closed thinking, is restrictive and ill-advised, and this is preserved in one of Nasrudin’s jokes:

Nasrudin, ferrying a pedant across a piece of rough water, said something ungrammatical to him. “Have you never studied grammar?” asked the scholar.
“Then half of your life has been wasted.”
A few minutes later Nasrudin turned to the passenger. “Have you ever learned how to swim?”
“No. Why?”
“Then all your life is wasted—we are sinking!”

What the Sufis advocate instead, as correctives, are the development and use of perception and intuition, and learning a practical skill which they technically term “swimming”. One of the aims is to awaken what Shah terms our vestigial organs of higher perception, which will help us in our quest toward Truth.

The Sufis talk of finding a hidden treasure of inestimable worth, but since it is buried under a mountain of misbelief and conditioning, a lot of digging has to be undertaken first, a preliminary phase which Shah refers to as learning how to learn. To use an organic metaphor: first of all, the ground has to be cleared of dead wood, undergrowth and weeds before the seeds can be planted; then the seeds are watered and grow out of the ground, and into the air, to be warmed by the sun; and finally they come to fruition and may be harvested. The Sufi materials help clear the ground and scatter those seeds, in the mind and heart of the seeker, and the teacher provides the “water”.

Or, to put it another way (as the Sufis so often do), imagine a princess locked in a dungeon and placed under guard. That is our common plight. It is possible to use the Sufi stories to smuggle hidden messages to the princess, who represents our heart or a higher part of us, via those unsuspecting and greedy guards – guards who are equally a part of our own makeup. By establishing a common language and a secret dialogue, messages can in turn be smuggled out about the princess’ plight. To cut a long and involved story short, by such means, the princess can be freed from the dungeon and regain her rightful place.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Which are the best books to read first?

Which of Etienne de L'Amour and H.M Forester's novels are best read first?

MAY 2017 UPDATE: You can download copies of ALL the books from here on our web site. Although marked as "review copies", there are no strings attached, so just enjoy!

Q: “Why are you giving away your mystical adventure and sci-fi ebooks?”
A: Here's why.

• Etienne de L'Amour

The best book to begin reading is Escape From the Shadowlands or the next book, In Search of Destiny. Although they are preceded by two prequels, they stand on their own and are pretty much self-contained.

Escape From the Shadowlands book cover
(a) Escape From the Shadowlands by Etienne de L'Amour is a soft scifi / mystical adventure ebook available for the Kindle at just $2.99 (or the nearest permitted equivalent outside the US).

☆☆☆☆☆ "Astounding, dizzying journey! Entertaining, enlightening."

If you like Doris Lessing's Shikasta; James Hilton's Lost Horizon; the writer, thinker and Sufi teacher Idries Shah, or the legendary Sarmoun Brotherhood, then give this book a try.

GoodreadsBlog post

In Search of Destiny book cover
(b) In Search of Destiny is set in the disparate realms of the Outlands; Sher Point, the metropolis of the so-called Freelands, and the mystical kingdom of Narayana in the East.

It tells the story of Conrad Harper, who sets out one day to search for his destiny and heart's true desire; of the help offered him by a mysterious organization known simply as the Network; his journeys with the Master of the Tradition, Tenzing Jangbu Rinchen, and of his finding romance and ancient knowledge.

And it shows how ordinary and everyday experiences, which we tend to take for granted and often do not value, can be brought into service and woven together into a rich tapestry with an altogether higher purpose.

☆☆☆☆☆ "The story rocks along as any good adventure story should, but with an added bonus of the sprinkling throughout of bits of wisdom, guidance offered to readers ... I highly recommend you read this most interesting and enjoyable book!" (Amazon US)

☆☆☆☆☆ "If you have ever wanted more in life than programmed work, entertainment, economy-worship, and political sideshows, you'll love this book ... I got my copy free as a review copy, but I would have paid for it easily knowing what I know now!" (Amazon US)

Although In Search of Destiny is book 4 in the Shadowlands series, feel free to read this first.

GoodreadsBlog post

• H.M. Forester

Game of Aeons: A short novel by H.M. Forester stands on their own and is self-contained, so that's as good a book as any to read first.

Game of Aeons book cover
Game of Aeons is a soft scifi / virtual reality, available as an ebook for the Kindle at just $2.99 (or the nearest permitted equivalent outside the US).

When do games become reality? Or is "reality" a game?

☆☆☆☆☆ "Very readable. Humour, wisdom about the human condition and the meaning of reality." (Amazon US)
☆☆☆☆☆ "Thought provoking; enjoyable; fascinating idea that a game could be a means of self development" (Amazon UK)
☆☆☆☆ "A good read, indeed. Topical themes, perennial questions." (Goodreads)

GoodreadsBlog post


• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+