"Anyone can do this. Spiritual awakening, in Jack Preston King's view, may be hard work, but it is not complicated work. The path to enlightenment is really rather shockingly simple. Fall out of love with the dream. Reclaim your psychic energy. Wake up to reality.”
– Adam Clark, book reviewer, humancafe.com
The Simplest Path to Personal and Planetary Awakening: FREE YOUR MIND is the first book I ever wrote. The “writer’s voice” here is considerably more didactic and impersonal than in my work of recent years, but I still love this book for what it is. I’ve written close to two dozen books since its release in 2006, some published as Jack Preston King, some using other pseudonyms, but none have been quite like this one.
The Simplest Path is a book written to accomplish a specific spiritual task, that of recapitulating the system.
When I began composing this book I was forty years old, which seemed quite the milestone in my life at the time. I’d been a spiritual seeker since childhood, and had decades of study and practice under my belt. The two spiritual traditions I’d been immersed in the longest were the Toltec sorcery of Carlos Castaneda, and the Fourth Way “Work” of Russian mystic George Ivanovich Gurdjieff. In both of those systems, one eventually reaches a point at which, to move forward and continue developing, the student must become the teacher. Not forever, not as a lifestyle, but simply to demonstrate that you have internalized the system, and that you are no longer dependent on your own teacher, or even the path.
To recapitulate the system means to create a new spiritual system that translates what you’ve learned to date into a language accessible to the people of your time and place. Before you can leave the path and set off alone into the limitless spiritual frontier ahead, you have to draw a map for the folks coming up the path behind you. Gurdjieff did this when he consolidated his studies across Asia and the Middle East, and brought “The Work” to Russia, then Europe, then America. Gurdjieff’s chief pupil P. D. Ouspenski accomplished the same feat with his book In Search of the Miraculous. Castaneda’s entire oeuvre is a recapitulation of the system he learned from don Juan Matus. The Taoist sage Lao-Tzu was famously on his way to voluntary exile when the guardian of the pass begged him to leave a record of his knowledge, resulting in the Tao Te Ching.
The Simplest Path was my best shot at creating a teachable spiritual system, so I could leave it behind and move beyond such systems. In Castaneda-speak, it was written at a peak moment of Clarity in my life. Here’s what don Juan had to say about Clarity in The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge:
Once a man has vanquished fear, he is free from it for the rest of his life because, instead of fear, he has acquired clarity – a clarity of mind which erases fear. By then a man knows his desires; he knows how to satisfy those desires. He can anticipate the new steps of learning and a sharp clarity surrounds everything. The man feels that nothing is concealed.
That was my mindset when I wrote this book. I could see the net of illusion ensnaring Humanity with incredible… well, Clarity. I could see how it worked, and how to overcome it. Nothing was concealed.
Right about that time, by chance or synchronicity, I discovered the science of memetics, which studies the way ideas are transferred from mind to mind by way of imitation. The word meme has become associated with silly pictures on the internet, but it was originally a serious scientific term coined in 1976 by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins.
According to Wikipedia:
Analogous to a gene, the meme was conceived as a "unit of culture" (an idea, belief, pattern of behaviour, etc.) which is "hosted" in the minds of one or more individuals, and which can reproduce itself in the sense of jumping from the mind of one person to the mind of another. Thus what would otherwise be regarded as one individual influencing another to adopt a belief is seen as an idea-replicator reproducing itself in a new host.
In Toltec sorcery, babies are seen to enter the world as untamed bundles of energy. Their perception roams freely, without context, accounting for the magical nature of early childhood. But within the first few years of life, parents, teachers, older children, even things like books and TV gradually teach the growing child to fix its attention on only a narrow set of “acceptable perceptions” that describe the world adults agree is real.
Here’s how I explained the process in my book Could All Religions Be True? The Short Answer is YES:
From the moment we’re born, first our parents, then eventually everyone around us, education, culture, religion, tradition, etc., train our attention away from the random magical drifting of newborn consciousness toward fixation on a particular spot within the general human band of awareness that people in our time and place define as “the real world.” We are taught to “assemble the world” the people around us already live in by having our attention directed to it.
“This is real. That is not. This is important. Disregard that. This is who we are. We’re not like that. We always do this. We never do that…”
We’re taught the names and uses of objects. We’re taught our roles within the family, society, and larger “human reality” as very narrowly defined.
Sometime in the first few years of life, we master our initial lessons, and our attention snaps into place, forming what Castaneda calls “the assemblage point.” By narrowing the focus of our attention to take in only a minute slice of the reality that actually exists around (and within) us, we assemble the world that the people of our time and place agree is real. Most of us will never experience any other reality for the rest of our lives.
The science of memetics gave me a brand new way to talk about that “reality fixation” process – one people might take seriously, I reasoned, because in the 21st Century the world that the people of our time and place agree is real is primarily the world as described by science.
The Simplest Path to Personal and Planetary Awakening: FREE YOUR MIND is a spiritual application of the science of memetics. It reveals the net of illusion we all get trapped in by early childhood. It shows you how that net operates and how to escape it. And it lays out a simple plan for releasing all Humanity from the net of illusion, hopefully in time to stave off major global crises like climate change or World War III.
I edited a bit here and there in the preparation of this 2019 edition, but I have not significantly rewritten any part of the book. Here it is, my first and best shot at creating a teachable spiritual system, so I could leave it behind and move beyond such systems.
Enjoy the map. I’ll see you in the Limitless Frontier!
Jack Preston King
September 10, 2019