This book is the most incredible commentary of an educated man seeing through to his true nature. I absolutely commend this book to anyone whatever stage of enlightenment they feel they are at. It's so good I can't stop laughing when I think about it. I can start reading anywhere in the book and I feel the oneness. Michael, thank you.
Michael is a fresh voice on the scene of spirituality and non-duality. He is intelligent, highly educated, well-versed in many traditions, and has experienced what he writes about. It is first-hand knowledge that he shares with us in this small but dense volume of wisdom. The writing is so clear, and so direct, that you can't help but relate to what he is saying in a very immediate way. Trained as a psychotherapist, Michael brings a lot of insight about the human mind to the discussion, and weaves this knowledge into the ultimate truth of who we are as spiritual beings. Highly recommended!
We are on our second read through. It is a phenomenal book. One of the very best ever. What is so special is the clarity. Michael Damian's writing has Shakti in it. It easily invokes the experience of what he writes. This book is a great blessing to the world.
Just wanted to let you know that I'm reading your book and find it immensely satisfying. There is a depth of wisdom and knowledge of non-duality that is truly impressive.
This book is truly beautiful—poetic, profound, and interesting, expressing Michael Damian's original voice. It is a real contribution to today's wisdom teachings. Having taught the direct path to spiritual awakening for the last 15 years, I am familiar with the various pitfalls that any teacher encounters in trying to explain these subtle truths. Michael's book is a first-class resource for those who want an accurate, clear and helpful description of the direct path. He covers all of the major issues that can arise, and provides useful approaches to recognize and resolve any difficulties the serious aspirant may encounter.
MICHAEL HALL PHD
This book is a life-changer. I can read it once, grow from it, read it again, and gain even more understanding. There are so many teachings of truth and growth packed into every paragraph. Reading this book has helped me realize that I don't need to gain anything from outside of myself for inner freedom. I must simply remove the obstacles and false beliefs blocking me from clarity.
A fabulous book, like the Upanishads but in current language, no frills, no cultural pre-conditions, straight talk.
JACK LABANAUSKAS, PUBLISHER, ENNEAGRAM MONTHLY
The Art of Freedom is written from a place of truth which can only be conveyed so clearly by a person who has awakened to that truth, the ultimate reality. Michael teaches the direct path which cuts through religious dogma and guides the seeker towards the ineffable, our birthright. It is one of those books where one can open to any page and be instantly transported into resonant timeless understanding. I highly recommend this gem to anyone on the path of self realization. I have had to buy several copies myself because I keep giving them away!
FROM CHAPTER 1, THE ART OF FREEDOM
It is really that simple. If you have a sincere and abiding interest in truth then you will know the truth. If you are not very interested in truth then you have to suffer more, and life will make sure of that. Life will keep giving you rounds of experience and time to go through, until you sufficiently appreciate how you are exiling yourself from your own love and freedom by clinging to false beliefs.
Life on earth is a factory for making us conscious—that is all. It is very precise and elegant in this task. If life were not brutally efficient at delivering you the results of your false beliefs then it could not also deliver you the results of your receptivity, your yearning for real happiness, and your readiness to learn the truth about yourself. Life gives you what you want, not what you think you want. Life in the general sense wants what is best for you, but life is also none other than your own being. And since you are free in consciousness, life must honor your freedom to choose for less than the best, for less than the truth. You do not have the choice to change the effects of truth and illusion once these effects are in motion, but you do have the initial choice between the two.
This primal choice exists in every moment. It is the point of grace and mercy in your life. The mercy is that no matter how wrongly you have chosen and how bad the effects have been, you have the freedom to choose again for truth, which means to awaken. No matter how bad your dream has become, there is always an exit to the dream-state of mental chaos and false identity. When you choose rightly in a given moment you are effectively putting your attention back onto the real I Am, your sole place of empowerment and freedom. This ineffable, aware intelligence can never be objectified, located or defined in terms of something else. It is the root of the sense of self, beyond all self-images.
I Am is absolute, meaning it is not made of constituent parts. The world is full of things while you alone are not a thing. You are the pure knower of all things, states of mind and objective knowledge. That is why you can be in the world but not of it. You can wield objective, relative knowledge about the world without confusing yourself for one of the objects. As you come to know your real nature, the superstructure of mental identity and imagination loses its support and gives way to light—the light of intelligent, aware spirit. The world of things remains but is now illumined and uplifted in your presence. The world becomes an intimate to you, so that you feel no real divide between your bodily form and other forms. On the level of form they are distinct and you honor that fact, but distinctions do not imply a fundamental separation. In fact, the distinctions only highlight the unified background of consciousness. Naturally, this discovery often begins with extremes of wonder, exaltation, tears and laughter. It really is a cosmic joke you have been let in on, and that is why this laughter is like no other. It is the laughter of the universe that comes through you. When it comes you will be amazed to observe that it is truly no one who now laughs.
Of course, this cosmic somebody that you are is not literally nothing. It is pure consciousness experiencing its formlessness. In the world of things, seeing is believing. By contrast, the reality of consciousness cannot be seen or believed. It is only known and experienced directly.
You know now that you are conscious, but do you know that this consciousness is the sum and substance of reality? Until such non-dual understanding arises, all knowledge and spirituality is indirect and insufficient for the human heart, because you are not just this physical creation or social character. You cannot be satisfied by a pale reflection of your reality.
So make your choice. Moment to moment, choose again to seek the truth, to observe and contemplate this radical possibility. To actualize the happiness and love that arises from this recognition is the adventure of a lifetime. Your north star in this adventure is always your increasing experience of freedom, simplicity, and transparency of heart. This freedom and the happiness it reveals is the sole standard by which to weigh the fruits of awakening.