Daniel Odier takes us on a journey of self-discovery in his unique and sublime style as he observes the connection between the Tang dynasty, regarded as the most glistening period of Chinese history, and the human necessity to escape our limitations. He discusses our propensity to build systems around our ideas in an attempt to give more value to our knowledge and experience and how this, in turn, limits our perceptions. Drawing from and then discarding the teachings from the past, Odier’s authoritative yet accessible text illustrates how we can reach an authentic kind of freedom.
We know from countless spirituality and self-help books that authentic joy has no object – it is truly free and boundless. And yet, try as we might, how many of us can say that joy is more than a fleeting feeling? Daniel Odier’s approach is refreshingly straightforward. All it requires is a willingness to disengage from our habitual ways of thinking, and practise being present throughout the day.
He calls his method “The Practice of Consciousness.” Its purpose is to unlock our spontaneity and recover our innocence and creativity. He writes, “Consciousness manifests itself as presence. To work with presence is similar to learning a musical instrument. To enter this state, take a sensation such as the feel of your bare feet on the ground. Enter deeply into the contact; breathe by relaxing your abdomen; and after fifteen or twenty seconds, leave the sensation and return to your habitual mode. Doing this thirty, forty or fifty times a day allows us to enter into a deep acquaintance with sensation.” With a nod to Aldous Huxley, whose book The Doors of Perception laid the groundwork for the psychedelic and sexual revolutions, Odier’s aim is nothing short of total human liberation. Still, he is realistic about the power that habit and our ingrained ways of operating in the world has over us.
The 19 meditations in The Doors of Joy are designed to loosen their grip and give joy an opening into our lives.