Posted 8 June 2018 by Sal
Review of Liberation IS and The Way of Freedom by Joan Tollifson
SALVADORE POE: Liberation Is: The End of the Spiritual Path and The Way of Freedom: Conversations with Salvadore Poe – These are both wonderful books. Sal offers a simple, direct, radical, clear pointing to being free Here-Now. The first book begins by guiding you through a series of excellent inquiries and experiments that allow you to see for yourself that you are aware, free, all-inclusive, Here-Now. Sal recommends starting with these inquiries and with the direct discovery or recognition of your essential being that is always already fully present—the natural, default condition that is Here-Now. Once you see it and know it directly, if you truly want to be free, it’s simply a matter of being devoted to what has been recognized and jumping off the habitual carousel of thinking, seeking, philosophizing, psychologizing, postponing, and so on. Sal doesn’t say this radical approach is for everyone, and he encourages people who feel the need for psychotherapy or other kinds of work to do it. But what he offers is a radical endgame. This isn’t about self-improvement, maintaining a mindfulness practice, getting an intellectual understanding, acquiring knowledge, having mystical experiences, or getting into special, elevated states of consciousness. It’s simply about recognizing what is obvious, immediate and always already here and then being true to that recognition. “If I say I am awareness, I am making awareness into a thing," he writes. "In fact, I am no-thing—simply aware, free and all-inclusive…I am, but I am no-thing in particular.” Beautiful! For some twenty years as a young adult from New Jersey, Salvadore Poe pursued a career in music, along with a life of alcohol, drugs and partying, until one night in NYC in 1997, something changed. “From that moment on, drugs, alcohol and cigarettes were finished, with no effort or struggle,” he writes, and a serious spiritual search began. Sal did years of intensive meditation, read Thich Nhat Hanh, Osho and J. Krishnamurti, went on silent retreats, lived in ashrams in India, spent time with U.G. Krishnamurti, Douglas Harding, Toni Packer, a silent sage in India, and a number of other teachers, had a host of mystical experiences that all came and went, and in 2004 met his final teacher, a woman named Dolano. With her, Sal very quickly had the “very ordinary and obvious recognition” that “I am free,” and his search ended. He lived a simple life in India for the next eight years, making music again, until he was asked to teach. “I am not a guru or a spiritual teacher,” he writes. “There are not and never will be ashrams, sanghas, disciples, students, followers, etc. In my opinion, the days of all that are over.” But he does share this realization with those who are interested in being free, and he does it in a very straight-forward, no-nonsense way, pointing out that “you are now and always have been free.” Sal takes on many other topics as well in these books (including free will, death, emotion, causation, time, etc.), all in ways that I deeply appreciate. He has a website and a Youtube channel, and his videos are great. I find Sal very clear, unpretentious, open, honest and right on the mark. Very highly recommended.