• A drastic and far-reaching change in ways of thinking and behaving
  • The overthrow of a government by those who are governed
  • A single complete turn (axial or orbital)

Throughout history there have been many revolutions. In the main part they have been bloody affairs where many people have lost their lives and some have been caused by sheer people power with millions taking to the streets and demonstrating. They all want change. They want an improvement. Above all, they want someone different in power.

But all these revolutions have managed to effect, is the removal of one power. and the installation of another, and as many citizens have found out, the replacement government is sometimes no better than the first, and in many cases turn out to be worse. But hey, you win some, you lose some.

“We want freedom!” shout the people, as they tear down the symbols of power, the statues, and set fire to the institutions but once it’s all over, once the mess has been cleared up, there is always someone still in power. That’s just the way these things work after all.

You don’t like what the government is doing, and so you set yourself up as the leader, organise yourself into a group, arm yourselves, and try to attract the support of the people. When the day comes you go in all guns blazing, proclaim that a “revolution” has taken place, stand waving to the crowds, and sit yourself quietly down in the old leader’s chair. But nothing has really changed, only the names and faces of the powerful.

Pretty soon, you’re up to the same tricks as the old lot, and the people are once again imprisoned by the powerful, waiting for the day when a new revolutionary leader comes along and offers you a better life. They don’t need guns (although it helps), just the support of the people; and so a new revolution is started, and the new leaders are installed in power, and they sit themselves quietly down in the old leaders chair… Are you starting to see a pattern here?

And the wheel keeps turning

The other definition of revolution is (a single complete turn (axial or orbital)), and that’s all these physical revolutions can do, they just turn the wheel. Can you see? But what I want to discuss with you here is not breaking the wheel, nor creating your own wheel, but jumping off it once and for all.

When I first started to get some insight into the world, I thought the only way to change things was to become an activist (a militant reformer), but then I started to realise that the word “reform” (change for the better as a result of correcting abuses, A campaign aimed to correct abuses or malpractices, Self-improvement in behaviour or morals by abandoning some vice and even Produce by cracking or Break up the molecules of), could not do anything to the wheel, except make it change shape – the wheel would still exist. We could make a wheel a square or a triangle but it would still, in essence, be the wheel!

So I got to thinking “How was it possible to have a revolution without a revolution? How could we not only change the shape of the wheel but leave it for good? How could we as a species leave the wheel turning without trying to change it, but have no part of it? I realised that the only real revolution could come from inside. Not by coming up with a new idea for how society and the world should be, that after all is just thought, and we can see where ideas, which is thought, have got us! Instead of trying to change everyone else (a mammoth task), why not change yourself, not at a superficial level, but right at the core?”

As I started this process I felt like my whole insides were being ripped apart, that everything I was and believed was being shredded into tiny pieces and it was a time of great confusion and conflict for me. How could everything that my parents told me, everything that society told me be an illusion. Why would my parents lie to me?

I started to think that maybe it was just me, maybe I was even having a nervous breakdown because it definitely felt like I was starting to lose my mind. Which funnily enough was happening, but not as the result of mental illness, but the result of having the curtains pulled up and reality starting to shine in brightly.
It was a time of terrible upset for my relationships, first with my wife, and then everyone else I knew. They thought I had gone mad! They just couldn’t understand why I was changing. They liked the old me better they said; the one who would go out partying and liked laughing and joking. And here was me, angry, confused, drinking more and more to stop the conflict, arguing with everyone about why I was right and they were wrong. Let’s put it this way, I was losing a lot more than I was gaining.

I started to wonder if all this was worth it? I suddenly wanted to be back to the old me, the one who just lived to have a good time, at whatever cost, but try as I might I couldn’t go back. A process had started inside me I couldn’t stop. I went to several psychologists who just said that perhaps I was going through some mid-life crisis, and that perhaps it was all to do with my father leaving when I was young, but I couldn’t believe all that. They didn’t have the answers I was seeking, so I had to go inside. And when I looked, I didn’t like what I saw. Not one bit!

But as I tried to make sense of this new awareness, I started writing things down that I saw and felt. This book is the end of that process.
But the more I started to write, the more I started to realise that there was no one answer, that everything was intrinsically connected, and therefore could have no conclusions. That frustrated me more than you could ever imagine!

Maybe I just wasn’t clever enough to see the answers, maybe the politicians and the scientists were the only ones that could provide the answers, but deep inside I knew they didn’t have answers either; they were just playing their part on the “wheel of life.” But I didn’t want to just be “a cog on the wheel” as my dad put it, I wanted to be free of the whole wheel!

In the beginning I thought I could change the wheel, that I could affect it with my views and my opinions; but then as time went on, I realised it would merely accept my views or reject them and keep turning.
I was in turmoil. What would I do? What could I do? I could never go back to the way of life I had before. I had become socially isolated with my opinions and was becoming a complete bore at parties.

“Did you know that when we cut down a tree it…”
“Yeah whatever alan, have another drink!”

This went on for sometime until late last year (2007) I decided once and for all to jump. And so I did. I jumped off the wheel and was greeted with nothing. Not even darkness, or emptiness, just nothing. This disturbed me even more. How could there be nothing when I thought there was so much, and as I closed my eyes, I could see the wheel disappearing into the distance. Still silently turning as I floated. It was as if I was the spaceman ejected from the craft forced to watch it leave me forever alone (sorry for the imagery but I don’t know how else to describe it).

“This isn’t how it’s supposed to be,” I thought. “This isn’t what I expected,” and suddenly, I felt fear, a great fear I was now alone.

Although I was still in society, and still had some of the same friends as I had before the process started, I felt very lonely. Who could I talk to about this now?

Maybe I needed to go to another retreat, or join a monastery, or get some psychological help, I just didn’t know what to do. Maybe I should read some religious scriptures, or something to give me hope in the darkness, or talk to a monk or something?

But as quick as I had these thoughts, insight grabbed me by the balls and reminded me I had made the choice to jump off the wheel, and that although it was scary at first, once I accepted it and welcomed it, I would see that it was not dark nor empty, in fact it was the same place I had jumped off, I was just viewing it differently, but now I could really see.

I realised how foolish I had been when I was thinking about becoming an activist, standing around waving banners and campaigning for change, that is purely external. And although some groups manage to convince those in power to change laws or manage to save a few lives through external pressure, I could see this was still the wheel turning. The people in power didn’t mind a bit of change too much. As long as the wheel was turning they would be safe.

But they would never think in a million years that anybody would jump off it. Why would anyone in their right mind jump? Surely they had too much to lose? But there was one thing they didn’t know. I was in my right mind.

And the greatest thing about it? I didn’t have to go anywhere I was still here.

Once you understand the wheel you’ll be ready to jump off it forever.
It’s time to jump, are you ready?

by alan macmillan orr

“the natural mind waking up”



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