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The ‘spirit’ is an integral part of the mind. It may be the soul or the connection to God of the believer, or the deeper meaning and purpose of life for the non-believer. Either way it exists and needs to be vindicated.
The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard described the human person as “a synthesis of the infinite and the finite, of the temporal and the eternal, of freedom and necessity.” You find expression of this in your need to seek experience and awareness beyond the normal or physical level. This is the need for transcendence, to explore the realms of self that lead you to excel or extend yourself to wider, deeper or higher limits.
The roots of the word ‘spirit’ come from the Latin word for breathing—the very essence of life. Many aspects of breathing are intangible, impalpable, non-physical, apparently lacking substance or reality. So it is with spirituality: you cannot see it, cannot touch it, cannot understand it; and despite this you may still acknowledge that it exists.
Spirituality is intimately connected to every aspect of your life though you may not know it or accept it. It is a deeper more profound nature behind the veil of materialism. Your values, thoughts, emotions and behavior stem from and contribute to your sense of ultimate meaning and purpose and to your connection to what believers call God or Yahweh or Allah or any number of other names.
Non-believers may identify with this deeper source as a Higher Self, Inner Self, Reality, the Ground of Being or similar terms. Whatever the belief or whatever name you use living from this perspective is at the heart of a free and authentic life. In Adaptive Freedom we use the term spirit (with a small “s”) as a simple, descriptive, all-encompassing but also relatively neutral term to which most can subscribe.
It is important to understand that you can have a spiritual life without having a religious life. The spirit is to be found in nature, art, ritual, creativity, truth and the generosity you find in fellow human beings. Your spirituality arises out of a sense of incompleteness and is manifested by an urge toward wholeness.
The spiritual journey is often described as the inner journey. The source of spirit is often found in the insight that arises from deep personal reflection, meditation or contemplation, and in the flowering of intuition.
All these are realms of the mind. Some believe that their most profound flashes of insight and intuition emerge from the mind because it is the seat of the soul and as such is divinely inspired. Others acknowledge a purely secular mind that is nonetheless capable of great feats of inspiration and wisdom. In either case the experience is the same—an exclusively mental perception.

Emotions are a complex interplay of thoughts, feelings, and bodily movements. Most emotions are conscious feelings which arise from the perception of environmental triggers. The mind is stimulated by a trigger. It then checks in memory to establish our usual interpretation of that trigger. This generates a perception which creates the emotion and may result in a behavior or action.
Emotions carry huge power to affect the chemistry and electricity of every cell in your body. Candace Pert author of Molecules Of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine

tells us that the body's electrical state is modulated by emotions, changing the world within the body.
There are three key points to remember about emotions:

1. Emotions are only thoughts that result from perceptions. They are mental evaluations or interpretations of a trigger. If you can recognize the emotion for what it is and try to see the trigger coming then you can respond appropriately to it. (In a few cases emotions may arise directly from physiological changes).

2. Essentially emotions are formed and controlled by the nonconscious mind. They only emerge into your conscious awareness after the automatic reactions to perceptions and memories have already been processed in the nonconscious. You experience the emotion (physically and mentally) up to half a second after the nonconscious has generated it. Indeed you may have nonconscious emotions all the time that never even enter your conscious awareness.
Examples of this are when you have an automatic response to a person or event such as liking or disliking something and not knowing why. These are simple and very quick reactions made by the nonconscious in milliseconds and can disappear equally rapidly. More than 95% of all your mental activity is nonconscious. Despite its enormous processing power the nonconscious is highly susceptible to social and environmental conditioning.

3. Emotions are heavily influenced by environmental conditioning. The mind stores a vast array of data about your previous experiences in your long-term memory. As soon as you think a thought or encounter a situation it instantly goes to that database to discover how you reacted to similar situations in the past, and this will significantly determine the choices it presents for how you should react now.
The data stored in memory could have come from anywhere: other people, what you read, what you see on TV, and even stuff that you may have never focused on but heard or saw in passing. This comparative information allows you to respond to situations quickly and effectively.
The problem is that the nonconscious part of the mind is literal, it has no capacity for analysis or reasoning (that’s what the conscious mind does). What it hears and sees it records regardless of how accurate, true or representative it is of your values and beliefs. That’s why you may find it a challenge to control your emotions—they seem to arise from “nowhere” and don’t always seem to represent the person you wish to personify.

Tools and techniques for effective emotional management are an important part of the

6th Pillar of the Freedom Code: Adaptability.
A key concept of Adaptive Freedom and one which contributes directly to your capacity to live a free and authentic life is that the universe, at its deepest levels, is made of matter, energy and information. All interactions between particles in the universe convey not only energy but also information. Information may in fact be the most fundamental element of the universe. Pure energy can perform no useful work without information. Energy and information are inter-convertible. Life cannot function without information and neither can matter nor energy.
The unfolding nature of our reality occurs because of this ceaseless exchange of information. The universe emerges from the rippling effects of immense numbers of criss-crossing invisible waves of energy and information. Our brains construct reality by downloading, processing and interpreting that information from the universal information field and making it available to us through the process of perception.
When you link this neuroscientific fact to the central role which physics gives to the “observer” in the natural world you come to an obvious and very significant conclusion: that reality is essentially a product of human imagination.
In Quantum mechanics an observer (a scientist conducting an experiment) influences the outcome of the quantum interactions they are observing. And Albert Einstein’s theory of Special Relativity tells us that motion is relative to a “frame of reference”—the world you perceive depends on your location—what you see depends on where you view it from.
The observer is therefore essential to transfer potential into reality—only when the observer looks does reality appear. You, as the observer of your own world, determine what that world is for you. You create your own reality. Your world is relative to your interaction with it and your perception of it—and that happens exclusively in your mind.
Scientists have found that your brain operates in such a way that you cannot comprehend "reality" directly. All the brain can do is to make informed guesses about what is going on. These guesses are based on how the brain itself is designed and how it processes information, and on your past experience. The crucial point is that since no two people have exactly the same neuro-anatomy or experience, no two people ever interpret anything in exactly the same way.
In your role as observer/interpreter of the world there are no limits to the extent to which you can alter the fabric of your reality. Your only limitation is the breath of your imagination and your willingness to allow it free rein. What you perceive as reality is only a canvas waiting for you to paint a picture on it. Anything is possible. To attain the free and authentic life you desire requires only that you have a clear image of what it is you want to be.
This is not to deny the existence of a ‘real world.’ The world exists as a measureable objective reality. But your reality of the world depends on your experience of the world, and that experience occurs exclusively in your mind. Therefore there are two dimensions to reality—the objective external world, and the subjective internal perceptual world of your conscious experience. This does not mean that there are two different realities—just two aspects to the same reality. 

There are at least five related ways to help you clarify your personal values:

1. You can accept or be predominantly influenced by the values shared and applied by your family, social, religious, cultural or political group.

2. You can accept universal values to which most of humankind subscribe regardless of their race or creed, such as the WEF-Facebook study, or the doctrines of the major religions, or the secular Universal Declaration of Duties (not to be confused with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights).

3. As a general non time-limited exercise in values clarification the following novel exercise from the psychotherapist Richard O’Connor in his book Undoing Perpetual Stress: The Missing Connection Between Depression, Anxiety and 21stCentury Illness  is worth doing:

List up to ten things that make living worthwhile. Do this quickly and without any thought. Allow these ideas to emerge directly from the nonconscious mind. Put the list away, wait for a week and do the exercise again and then wait another week and do it a third time. The second and third times do not look at your previous lists. When you are finished compare the three lists and identify common trends. Then put the combined list in order of importance based on what you feel is most important. The first four or five will most likely form your core values.

4. Start with a long list of general values, and pick those that are important to you. This may allow the nonconscious to select values you think you should have, rather than those really important to you so when you have a list of 5-10 values start to assess them consciously. There are many values lists on the Internet.

5. Assess which value is the best choice by how complete it appears, how well it fits together from all perspectives and after considering all inputs and angles. A good rule of thumb is the way the particular choice seems to come together as a whole. The choice is not just the sum of its parts but it fits together and holds together more or less successfully as an orderly and reasonably logical whole.

You may form your values in your mind but you can only realize them when they are tested in the world. You may accept your values from the world but you will not truly believe them until you internalize them in your mind. It’s a totally interconnected self-sustaining process.

Values may be conveniently divided into personal and universal:

Personal values arise from a process of values identification and clarification. They do not emerge from a vacuum. They will be informed by your education, formation and social interaction. But to become yours, for you to own them and live them, you must clarify which values resonate with you at the deepest level of your being, and then honor them.

Universal values exist for the common good and to advance the welfare of all humankind. A Worldwide poll in 2010 for the World Economic Forum (WEF) and Facebook found that most people consider honesty, integrity and transparency the most important values in their private and professional lives. Over a quarter reported that respect for the dignity, rights and opinions of others was the next most important value, followed by just under a fifth who viewed the impact of their actions on the well-being of others as a key value. Environmental issues also surfaced as a new element in what is considered of universal importance with seven percent identifying the preservation of the environment as a universal value.

To act rightly and promptly means that you have a clear inner perspective on what you value and what universal values you esteem. You have worked it out in your own mind to your own satisfaction after a thorough analysis and tested it out in practical experience.
A free, authentic and successful life is not a values-free zone. Realizing your highest potential is not achieved at any cost or without respecting the rights and needs of others. It requires the maximum of self-assertion and the minimum of selfishness. It needs to be grounded in your own freely determined values, implemented with honor and integrity and based on your natural disposition towards what is right—and what is right is what is good.
Values are principles that guide your interaction with others and with the world. Since the primal driving force in human nature is towards goodness it follows that your nature is basically values-based in the broadest sense.
Values describe the fundamental essence of the human desire to seek its own ultimate being. They don’t limit freedom, they define it. They are about accepting responsibility for your actions and accepting the consequences of those actions.
Freedom and authenticity arise from acting in a way that is consistent with your values—acting from the best part of you in a way that leads to harmony rather than conflict with your inner nature and with others.
The idea that freedom is the origin of value is a key element of Adaptive Freedom. In fact there may well be only one truly universal value—freedom itself—all the rest we need to discover or clarify ourselves.
This implies that you do not accept your values solely from the cultural or ethical standards of society, or your religious, political or moral beliefs. What you hold as truth in your life comes both from universally accepted standards and what you discover through experience, observation and experiment to be true. You glean these from the choices you make, the actions you take, the responsibility you carry and the consequences you accept.

The prevailing disposition of human nature is essentially positive, directed towards harmony and a sense of internal unity, constantly seeking union or wholeness in and with other beings and the world.
Despite the evidence of some human behavior, at the central core of our being is the desire to seek what is laudable, hopeful or “to the good” for ourselves and others. Our essential nature urges us to do what is pleasing, valuable or useful both for ourselves and others.

As the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza wrote “You neither want nor strive for anything because you judge it to be good. On the contrary, you consider something to be good because you strive for it, want it and desire it.” What is good is right and what is right is good, and these constitute the essence of authenticity.
In many ways what is good is also what is whole or complete. Some use the term ‘wholesome’ to describe something that is physically or morally good, that it exhibits soundness in body, mind or composition. The sense of separation within us, and between us and others, and the emphasis in the world on separation and difference denies the unity and interdependence that is the true nature of the universe.
Good therefore, is right because it affirms and accepts our wholeness within the diversity and multiplicity of a world which we co-create daily with our fellow human beings. At a personal level this is more than just being good or doing good, but in its truest form is compassionate love for yourself and others.
The opposite of good is evil. Paradoxically evil is nothing other than a rejection of the good. Everything that exists comes originally from good. Everything is in some way good, and evil only exists in a secondary juxtaposition to good. Goodness is innate—evil isn’t.
The Christian saint and philosopher, Augustine of Hippo said that “those things we call evil are defects in good things and quite incapable of existing in their own right outside good things.” Those defects testify to the natural goodness of things.
According to Carl Jung evil is not a natural thing, it is the name given to the state of being deprived of goodness. Therefore there can be no good without evil, and there can be no evil without good. Good is what seems suitable, acceptable or valuable to you and evil is the opposite. Good is the inherent nature of things and evil is a defect in that nature.

The way of authenticity is grounded in the natural tendencies of human nature which we all share. These are the essence of the human person. They make us what we are, and in the appropriate quantity contribute to our wellbeing and happiness. There are 15 of them in 5 general categories. Each of us is formed by a unique union of these elements. No two humans have exactly the same combination of ingredients in exactly the same quantities.
The mixing of the compound takes place in your mind. All of these ingredients are psychological not physical features. They exist for the most part outside your conscious awareness and if you become aware of them at all it is in the form of a powerful longing or the feeling that something is missing.
They give purpose and direction to your behavior, motivate you to take action, and to pursue certain types of goals and avoid others. They are:

Category A - Basic Ingredients
1. Nurturance: To be cared for and to care for others. To be nourished in a caring way by our parents and/or primary carers is vital in childhood and a key indicator of our later development. As adults our children and the needs of others awaken our concern and interest and a desire to provide care and nurture for them.

2. Safety and Security: Personal safety is a deeply rooted instinct going back to when our ancient ancestors were in constant fear of attack from predators. Without safety life is threatened. Security is partly to do with this but nowadays it is also to do with emotional and financial stability--having sufficient to meet our needs.

3. Health: Good physical and mental health is a necessary prerequisite for all of the ingredients. Some people do of course survive and prosper in poor health with little prospect of attaining good health. But it is not the optimum state. To thrive and grow good health is important. This is an ingredient which is not entirely subjective. Others can discern the state of our health and there are accepted and useful universal guidelines for the maintenance of good health.

4. Play: This is the ingredient most evident in children—activity guided by imagination rather than by rules. Play is the part of us that seeks pleasure and enjoyment. It can be organised in the form of games or sporting activities or hobbies. But it also includes laughter, having a good time, relaxing, and light-hearted recreational activity for diversion or amusement.

Category B - Relational Ingredients
5. Affection: To love and be loved (sexually and non-sexually) by others is utterly fundamental to human existence. It includes the desire to be liked, to please other people, and meet the expectations of others. And it goes all the way to the deepest feelings of desire, attraction, passion, regard and affection for that special person whom we love and who loves us in equal measure.

6. Acceptance: We like to be liked. The respect and recognition of others is important to our wellbeing. It is good to be to be accepted and valued by others. Equally self-acceptance is essential to our maturity.

7. Affiliation: Active engagement with others is essential to acceptance but it is also intrinsic to our nature. To feel a sense of belonging, whether from our family, social group, colleagues, culture, religious group, professional organization, sports team, online community, or whatever other context is utterly central to human nature.

Category C - Developmental Ingredients
8. The thirst for Knowledge is a fundamental need of the human person that has persisted throughout time. It is intrinsic to our nature as essentially thinking animals. It is not enough for us to be and do but we also need to know—to understand why we are and why we act as we do.

9. Achievement orients us towards success, accomplishment, and overcoming obstacles. It entails consistently setting and meeting challenging but realistic goals. It is influenced by both an internal drive for action and the expectations of others.

10. Individuation is the need to which most of this book is directed—an underlying and irresistible urge toward the fulfillment of our inherent and highest potential. Individuation is the vast power and potential inside every person waiting to be revealed and realized.

11. Transcendence: the need to seek experience and awareness beyond the normal or physical level. This is realized by some in excelling or surpassing or going beyond usual limits, and by others as the possibility of spiritual transcendence in the modern world.

Category D - Power and Autonomy
12. The exercise of Personal Power is a basic necessity of a fully-functioning life. At its best power is both the natural companion and clearest mark of leadership. It is indicated by high levels of self-confidence, positive self-assertion, self-awareness, self-direction, competence, articulateness, communication and persuasive skills.

13. Autonomy (or our need for independence) is synonymous with freedom and individuality. It involves the exercise of self-direction and self-reliance, free will and the capacity for independent thought and action. Autonomy also entails our thirst for information, the need to ask questions and gain knowledge through learning and experience, and engage in analytical thinking.

Category E - Wellbeing and Self-worth
14. The state of Wellbeing or happiness is characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. This is the most prevalent desire in Western culture. We are instinctively driven by the desire for happiness in the sense of moving towards pleasure and away from pain or sadness. We innately know that happiness is good for us.

15. Self-worth directly contributes to wellbeing and defines the level of confidence we have in our own worth or abilities. It reflects our overall evaluation or appraisal of our own ‘value’ as a person and is synonymous with self-esteem and self-respect.

All of these ingredients of human nature apply in varying degrees to each of us. How to respond to them is a feature in one way or another of the Seven Pillars of the Freedom Code.
The challenge for each of us is to embark on a personal journey of establishing what it means for us to live an authentic life. We must be responsible for our own life rather than responsive to what others say our life should be. Rather than lament the passing of stern leadership and the imposition of ethical standards from on high we can see this era as the next stage in the maturation of humanity. We are no longer children or adolescents but have come into adulthood and must now shape our world with the tools of reason and intuition, science and tradition.

This requires clarifying and testing our personal values in the fire of our lived experience; coming to terms with our personal power and defining what it means to achieve success and wellbeing in life. We are called to face the challenge of simultaneously living our life and exercising our freedom and power in accordance with those values.

We have become accustomed to taking our values and ideals much like our breakfast cereal—out of a box. The box is that of culture and tradition, family and tribe and nowadays the social conditioning peddled by a voracious media under the guise of ‘public opinion.’ The surrender of so many leaders to the alleged primacy of public opinion has been a central feature in the collapse of credible leadership at all levels in society. To be authentic is to have a belief, a position, a view and then to stand-up for that view until convinced by others that it is misguided or there is a better alternative.

The challenge for a free and authentic person is to create your own vision or ideal of what a modern, valuable and authentic society might be, and be willing to stand-up for it. And in the process, not to be unduly swayed by what the media present to you as ‘truth.


The movie Senna is a striking and somber essay on the high octane sport of Formula 1 motor racing. It is infused with the youth, beauty and vigour of the great Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna who died while racing in 1994 aged 32. What is surprising is the character of Senna that emerges in his own words and the thoughts of his family and friends. He was a truly authentic person who lived life in the fastest lane on earth but did so with deep awareness of what it took to stay at the pinnacle of his sport and stay grounded in the realities of ordinary life.

In many ways his life typified the 7 Qualities of Authenticity which are at the core of the philosophy of Adaptive Freedom. The Quality of Congruence is found is how he described the role of the unconscious mind in taking him around the Monte Carlo circuit at break-neck speed only to crash when he became incongruent as a message on his radio brought him out of the zone and into his conscious mind again.

The Quality of Control is shown in his remarkable ability to maintain control of his vehicle at such speeds, especially in the wet, which is an example of exceptional focused and attentive awareness. The Quality of Compassion is shown in the deep acceptance of what life threw at him or what Artyon saw as God's will in his life.  His strong, simple and unaffected spirituality permeates the movie.

The Qualities of Commitment and Competence shine forther in his courage, honesty and transparency. He never hesitated to stand up for his values even when it cost him to do so. The profound identity he shared with his fellow Brazilians and the close and happy relationship he had with almost everyone he came in contact with typify the Qualities of Connection and Congeniality.

Ayrton Senna may have felt freedom most profoundly at 200mph but his authentic free spirit shone true off the track as well in his battle with officialdom to be treated fairly and in the loyalty and support he showed for his fellow Brazilians. This movie has profound messages on spirituality, the power of the nonconscious and what it takes to live authentically.

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