NCFP Book Review | You Cannot Change the Way You Are

NCFP Book Review | You Cannot Change the Way You Are

NCFP contributor Mike Greening’s book ‘You Cannot Change the Way You Are’ attempts to explain why the author concludes that there is no such thing as free will. In my opinion, whilst the book is well written and thought provoking, it is missing an essential element – a reference to the reality of experience; not necessarily the author’s experience however.

During a telephone conversation one of the proofs offered to me by the author was, in essence, that we are evolved from worms; worms have no free will so neither do we. I could almost hear Harry Potter waving his wand and saying ‘reducto absurdum’ in an attempt to put me under a trance in which I would then agree with him. Although to be fair he did say that this was not his intention, well to be even fairer he wanted to discuss how we cannot intend anything. I was left with the feeling that what he was saying in his book is that he’d tried to change himself, perhaps using words, logic and ideas and, having failed, decided that the reason he’d failed was because it was impossible for him personally to change. Perhaps the title should have been ‘I Am Convinced  I Cannot Change the Way I Am’?

Where I disagree with the author is that my own experiences, and of others, point to an alternative way of changing oneself other than using logic or science. The author apparently resides in a world of logic, ideas and words and believes this to be the appropriate environment in which to consider the matter of self-change. His conclusion that we cannot change seems inevitable as it precludes personal experience by the very nature of the tools used.

By saying to the author that I have a different experience to him seemed to lead to him prejudging that I’m living an illusion, without listening to what I had to say. The author’s definition of an illusion being something he hasn’t experienced himself and perhaps also because he associates personal experience with religion which he has an antipathy towards. Words like ‘fulfilment’, ‘contentment’ and ‘sense of peace’ didn’t seem to ring any bells with him. Perhaps if I referred to serotonin levels I would have got a response?

So what is that experience which brings about change in a person? As a trained scientist, I’m a little embarrassed to say that unless you’ve had it is pointless me trying to explain it to you as that will be of no use to you. I can say that it brings me contentment, fulfilment and a sense of peace but unless you’re familiar with the reality of those feelings then there would be a problem. There would even be a further problem of being constantly asked, ‘do you mean…?’  However, I’m sure that there are plenty of people who are currently having these experiences who would be happy to share the way of doing the same. That is if they able or willing to do so.

‘Admire the most admirable that dwells within your heart. In that knowing,
you will experience freedom like you have never experienced before.
The good news — today is the first day of the rest of your life. Make it real. ‘
Prem Rawat

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