This short book of five chapters deals with some basic questions: What is truth? Why does mankind suffer? Do we really have control over our lives? Is there an absolute 'good'? A training in self-observation. Untangles basic moral issues. Insight into self-realisation. An excellent guide to where philosophy ends and the spirit takes over. In this book Barry Long speaks to people in search of self-knowledge and provides the reflection of truth - essential, but so hard to find in this world. Why am I alive? What is of real value? When the world no longer holds the answers we turn within ourselves and question conventional wisdom. The challenge then is to find the truth. There are five chapters, each based on a talk in which Barry Long addresses fundamental questions about the purpose and meaning of life. The talks were given when the author first declared himself a spiritual teacher in 1968 and spring from his experience of 'the mystic death' which he had undergone in India a couple of years earlier. So this book could be seen as the starting point in Barry Long's work. But it is far from elementary.
In fact it poses questions that philosophers, theologians and sages have wrestled with over the ages. But here some of the same fundamental issues are handled with all the clarity of someone who has just 'seen the light'. They are expressed concisely, simply and the implications are immediately thrown into sharp focus so that it is difficult to reduce them to ethical niceties. There is no room for ambiguity or debate. The challenge is to find the solution in self-observation alone, not in handed-down religious or philosophical concepts. This is the basis of Barry Long's way of teaching self-knowledge, which is founded in his own self-observation. In fact the book offers an exceptional view and example of the lack of compromise that self-realisation requires. The five chapters are: The Mystic Death / The Problem of Choice / Why Man Must Suffer / What Man Must Do / Observation and Meditation. The last chapter is a good outline of the basic practice which is one of the foundation-stones of Barry Long's teaching. 'When we talk of wisdom, the wisdom of Solomon, the wisdom of men, we speak of a wisdom invariably related to objects outside ourselves.
That unfortunately is not real wisdom...because the real wisdom, the wisdom that sleeps with you, worries with you, pines with you, weeps and laughs with you, is the wisdom of self-knowledge. This is the only real wisdom.'
Barry Long (19262003) was a spiritual master recognized worldwide. His spiritual realization began in the late 1950s and was provoked by radical self-inquiry independent of any religious tradition. He began teaching in London a decade later in the 1960s. By the 1990s he was travelling the world speaking of love, life, truth, death, and God. A writer by trade, his many books cover every aspect of living and the spiritual life, although he is best known for his teachings on love between man and woman. His work has been published in eleven languages. In his later years, he returned to his native Australia where he continued to teach and write until his death in 2003.