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The Spontaneous Self: Viable Alternatives to Free Will Hardcover – October 22, 2012
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About the Author
Since retiring from a life as college teacher and researcher, the author has spent most of his time writing books, essays and music. Some of his books explore questions of value (sociology) and free will (philosophy); others focus on music and the fine arts. His essays offer analyses of humanistic psychology and Eastern philosophy. Some of his musical compositions feature full orchestra; others are written for smaller ensembles including classical guitar. The Lady and the Lord represents Breer's most recent venture into literature, the previous four being Illusions of the Heart, a book-length work consisting of two novellas exploring the world of internet romance, Tashi, the tale of a young girl's love for an older man, The Reluctant Savior, the story of a man who discovers the art of healing and spends the rest of his days exploring that gift, and The Unwanted, the account of two men whose lives intersect . . . a boy from Southern Mexico who journeys north to find a better life in United States, and a Phoenix Sheriff whose life is changed forever by their meeting. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Freedom from the notion of free-will can certainly work to drastically reduce anxiety and achieve a greater sense of freedom in life, besides leading to a profound sense of detachment to events, outcomes and things.
No self or soul or an agent, the 'anatta' of Buddhist philosophies, or the Advaita, the non-duality concept in Vedanta, where mind and body are not separate, the non-self as a doctrine, is indeed a right understanding. An understanding that one is merely the interaction of one's genetic codes with environment and society.
Highly recommended reading.
I had read Alan Watt's books, listened to his audio taped courses and individual lectures, even saw him on PBS ( in Rhode Island) in 1969 when I was 18.
In 1973 I saw Alan live doing an interview in Boston, his "In My Own Way" ( a reference to the fictive ego-thought of being apart from the Tao (nature)) That November Alan did not wake up from sleep. ( Did he awaken from the notion of being Alan Watts? Yes, of this I am sure!)
Dr. Breer had been experimenting with a course titled " Letting go of the Ego" [the I-thought, as in, "I" am a separate entity from the Dao [ nature].
In addition to being quite sure that this presumed ego was quite the most egregious notion to ever plague the human race ( not animals or plants!) I was deeply pondering the writings and films of Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj and HWL Poonja.
On and off over the years I pondered Paul's writings and those of Advaita.
These years were years of hell for me! "I" suffered from bi-polar disorder, accent on the depression.
I wounded my body out of sell-hatred ( hatred of the fake "I"!)
I attempted to put an end to my life twice.
The first time I plunged a live TV ( sic!) into a sink full of water. Nothing happened!
A couple of years later I tried for 45 minutes to plunge an electric drill ( on!) into a bucket of water. I could not! Something stopped me.
I plunged that drill again and again and again. It was if I were hitting the power of ki ! ( see Aikido)
Paul does not mention the Tao in his book. But he does mention Zen,
Paul writes, " My own interest in non-agency has evolved out of a 5 year immersion in the chilly waters of Rinzai Zen. While I have long given up what Alan Watts called 'aching-legs-Zen' for the comfort of reading and thinking, I have retained the Easterner's concern with integrating philosophy into everyday life. It strikes me as little more than a game, fascinating perhaps, but still a game, to embrace the idea of non-agency without taking steps to incorporate that idea into the way one deals with work, love, pain, death and all the other dimensions
of human existence. Because the idea is so central, taking it in deeply has the potential for transforming the way we feel about most everything we do. That taking in process started in my own life about eight years ago. A re-reading of Alan Watt's "The way of Zen" opened my eyes to the paradoxical truth that even the most deliberate or violent effort arises on its own without the help of an interior agent. Many months passed before I could appreciate the implications of that insight. When applied to my own behavior, it set in motion a lengthy process during which I came to experience more and more of my feelings, thoughts and behavior as arising spontaneously."
For the last ten years (2007-2017) I had not been able to leave the house, so terrified by the thought of doing so.
I lie in bed so long during many years that my calf muscles atrophied.
I could not walk. I felt nothing but mental, emotional and physical pain.
From childhood (age 5 in 1956) on I desired only one thing: freedom.
I knew something was wrong. Very, very wrong! All around me, not matter what their social status, intelligence, education, wealth or fame brought them the Peace they did not know they were Seeking.
That was the only thing I ever wanted: to be free! Not God, certainly not the respect or love from others nor health nor wealth nor knowledge nor power nor fame nor pleasure.
Freedom and true happiness alone would be, in the end ( and as an end in itself) make sense of human suffering (mental-emotional).
In June I SPONTANEOUSLY picked up "The Spontaneous Self" (out of hundreds of books in my study).
I had been re-reading it ( if only for the sheer pleasure of doing* so!.) and had picked up where I had left off.
I remember noting the date: July 31, 2017. I remembered this date because it was two days after my wife's 71st birthday.
I forget what gifts Nancy was given on July 29, 2017.
But the gift I received on August 1, 2017 ( not my birthday.....my RE-birth day!) is utterly priceless beyond measure beyond measure!
I suffered from severe anxiety at times. All anxiety vanished, not to return.
The depression (actually caused by a narcissistic wound!) was no where to be found!
The agoraphobia? Let me out!
I was (am) utterly free! Totally spontaneous! There is no such self that can be in any manner, shape or form separate from the Dao [ nature].
There exists no do-er! Just doing! No experience-er! Simply experiencing! Everything simply happens as it does, and not otherwise! What is, is; what isn't,isn't! Life is not a problem! To whom would it be a problem? Only to a nonexistent "I"!
I read Ramana. Everything I read I completely understood. Same with Nisargadatta. Poonjaji, ditto.
Tao te Ching, perfectly clear! "Of course! How very, very simple! Why did it take me (i.e "I" a presumed separate self) 50 years of seeking in
philosophy, religion, psychology, etc,etc. to see what is plainly so: There does not exist an "I" [ my, me, mine, my own] at all! The Tao (nature) is all and everything!
The ego [ "I" delusion] wanted to die and could not succeed because it was illusory, a chimera!
The Dao, being the All, recognized itself as Deathless, Birthless, Immortal Being-beyond Being and non-being!
Chan Master Huang-Po: Your true nature is non-objective...it is glorious and mysterious peaceful joy. And that is All. Awaken to it by letting go of all concepts, especially the one that causes all your suffering: "I"...."I" see, "I" hear, "I" touch, "I" taste, "I" smell, "I" think, "I" do, "I" make, "I" am!
Gotoma [called "the awakened one] taught one thing only: Suffering and its ending. And what is the cause of suffering? Simply this: " Highest is the Happiness of freedom from the thought "I" am.
I am currently writing a booklet titled " Glorious and Mysterious Peaceful Joy"
If " The Spontaneous Self" ever goes out of print I will put it quickly back in print!
Good-Bye-To-"I" Publications will protect it.
The Dao will protect me. Or will it? Does the Dao know anything apart from Itself needing protection?
Who will protect you and yours?
Eirene A. Chara
1874 Broad Street
Edgewood, Rhode "I"sland 02906