Pakistan’s leading English-language newspaper published the following two-page interview on their Easter Sunday issue:
One day, a man who signed as ‘/p’ left a comment on my blog at Gaia.com — a transformation community. I had shared my feeling of exhaustion; how I just wanted to not just give away, but also replenish my own energy. He pointed me to a book he’d written, called Fragments of Reality [FOR], which had a chapter on what we feel we ‘have to do’ as opposed to what we ‘can do.’ The difference is one between a burdensome compulsion, and an unconditional happiness. Acting on the chapter’s advice, I divided my life’s projects into ‘can do’ and ‘have to’ and cut off the latter. What a relief!
I made friends with that man, Peter Cajander. Then I read his book chapter to chapter. I marked it, pencilled my reflections in, and undertook its practices.
It’s an unassuming book. It didn’t try to direct me; yet it reinforced my life decisions from within. The book’s wisdom is based on Peter’s insights into the universal, which makes it accessible to anyone.
This is a conversation about the book, the writer’s process, and his insights. The questions are deliberate: they are asked from the level of ‘the initiate’. It is an early stage when one is seeking a pre-supposed gratification from wisdom, such as ‘How can it make me more money? Be more attractive? Seduce more partners?’ Some of the most profound advice is lost on ears because the seeker is only looking for pre-defined answers, thus focusing on what they want and missing what they are getting. Are we failing to get answers because our questions are flawed? This conversation speaks to those who may realise that it is indeed the question that needs re-framing.
Ramla Akhtar: Who is Peter Cajander?
Peter Cajander: Peter Cajander is your conceptual image based on your perception, information, and knowledge you have. It is your ‘mental’ impression that mostly reflects your own past experience and history. Each and everyone has a different ‘understanding’ of Peter Cajander. And none of them is truer than any other—they are just subjective interpretations. So, Peter Cajander is not what you think.
RA: What is reality?
PC: It is whatever you perceive it is. That is your reality, but don’t expect anybody else to underwrite you definition. There is no absolute or objective yardstick for reality. Or to say it differently in a word: energy.
RA: Reading through FOR, one feels as if the mind is more an impediment than the wonderful tool we thought it to be. What good is the mind after all?
PC: Not much. It’s a good servant but a poor master. Would you rather prefer to have peace of mind and silence? Or constant rambling almost 24/7 without a way to quiet it down? Won’t you rather use the mind only when you specifically need it? Mind is useful when you need to think something, i.e. find a logical solution or plan something. Otherwise it should be mute and not act like a radio gone bizarre by jumping from station to station non-stop. If you observe your own private radio it only plays something from the history channel (your past) or from the sci-fi channel (the future that has not happened). Mind is never here, right now, present.
RA: The world pays a great importance to upholding belief systems. The philosophy of consciousness summarily dismisses belief system to address the subject of … consciousness! Where would people be without a belief system?
PC: A belief system helps us structure and ‘make sense’ of our surroundings. It is our conceptual framework that enables us to interact and cope with our circumstances and environment. It is based on our past experiences and knowledge. But since it is our ‘short-cut,’ we use it to extrapolate the past to the current situation and tend to ignore the present moment and not perceive it as it unfolds to us but how we ‘believe’ it is. So belief system can make us passive and ignorant of our surroundings. And without it? Everything would be fresh and new, ever-changing each moment.
RA: Why should we seek reality when the culture places a great importance on the qualities of imagination and creativity? Is there a conflict here?
PC: Who says that reality is boring and has nothing to do with imagination and creativity? Creativity is based on doing something unique and new — not repeating old and known patterns. Only our thinking is rigid and boring — it does not create anything new. We only know what we know. Why do you worry? Because you cannot think your way out of the issue you’re worrying about. In other words, you’re not creative! Thinking is not creativity. Nature is creative — it does not copy itself. Everything it creates is unique and original. We are part of nature and we create our reality by living it. Each morning you have a new empty canvas to draw and fill with your desires.
RA: There is so much going on in the world today — new conflicts and a distributed violence. Which fragments of reality — mind? ego? belief systems? — are playing their part in the negativity of the situation?
— — —
Creativity is based on doing something unique and new — not repeating old and known patterns. Only our thinking is rigid and boring — it does not create anything new. We only know what we know.
— — —
PC: Are there more conflicts and violence in the world today? Or is it just that our media tends to focus only on those ‘negative’ events and ignore the rest?
Equally we could say that in general things are so well and positive that we only regard the ‘negative’ as news — they are the exception from the rest that is ‘positive’.
The external chaos is only an extension of the chaos in our mind. It all starts within first. If you are not clear and in balance, you act accordingly. Therefore we create the conflict and havoc by projecting our inner state to our surroundings. How do you behave when you’re angry, jealous, feel hurt, or being treated unfairly? We always have the choice how to react to our circumstances and we always are also responsible of our actions (and non-actions). Destruction is easy — constructive and creative behaviour requires more. Civilised world is build only by the latter. Very simply, are you expecting to get and take something from the world or are you contributing and giving something back? If we all just take, there is soon nothing left. Just think about it. By being here you create the world together with all of us. We are responsible of the state of the world, even or should I say especially by our ignorance.
RA: What are your hopes for the more positive developments in the world? What force is at work here?
PC: It is easy to just absorb the mass media news and feel powerless, and become passive as a result. Instead you can focus on things that are close to you and make a difference in your surroundings and sphere of influence. Talk is no substitute for action. Only results count. If you are not satisfied with the way the world is at the moment, do something about it! Big projects often start from modest initiatives. Together we can make a better future but it can only happen if we start to put our act together, now. Don’t expect your government or someone else to do you part — even if it feels very insignificant or small at first. You can start by smiling more often.
RA: Fragments of Reality (FOR) emerged as the result of your personal experiences. How does it become personal to the readers?
PC: Often you can read people describing the circumstances and things that happened in their lives. However, how personal is that when you only get to know something that any spectator can observe and see?
Fragments of Reality becomes very personal to the reader only when they start to apply it to the everyday life. You start to see and experience the same topics and items the book talks about. One reader commented that Fragments changes his thinking. How personal is that?
RA: Conspicuous by its absence in FOR is the subject of wealth and abundance — without which even the most mystic contemporary writing would not wrap up. People want to know how a new philosophy helps them achieve their dreams of greater wealth. Was it a deliberate omission?
PC: What are wealth and abundance but happiness and inner peace? Money is only a means to something, not an end. So why should one focus on something that is not permanent and can vanish any moment. It is an illusion to reach for richness and fame and think that they will provide you something that you don’t already have. If you cannot be happy right now, how can you be later? You can only live now, in the moment.
Conditional happiness is not true happiness. If your happiness is conditional to external circumstances or requires time (that is, not now) then you are after illusions. Your mind is playing tricks on you. Be sure that as soon as you receive your wealth and abundance you crave something else or more.
Fragments of Reality seems to irritate many readers because it does not just give them straight obvious answers but makes the readers do the heavy lifting. No one else can live your life and provide you with new realisations — they can only shed some light and offer guidance at best.
The book talks about wealth and abundance but defines them differently — not dependent on your material possessions or lack of them.
RA: I am curious about your writing style. You nearly never draw any conclusions. How does that help the reader?
PC: Tremendously. The whole point is to make the reader to think and gain insights themselves. Telling others what to do is very easy. Making them to think for themselves takes a bit more. What good is it that someone else tells you something and you either take it by the face value or disregard it? This changes nothing and benefits no one. Only if you realise something first hand and it changes something in you can you say that there has been a real impact.
— — —
Fragments of Reality seems to irritate many readers because it does not just give them straight obvious answers but makes the reader to do the heavy lifting oneself. No one else can live your life and provide you with new realisations — they can only shed some light on and guidance at best. This is why the book is really a workbook that you should apply in your everyday life. Live it true, so that the words become meaningful and have a significance based on your own experience.
— — —
And how come I don’t draw conclusions. You must read closely…and not expect to grasp everything by one read. It’s not about knowledge but wisdom.
RA: How receptive is the contemporary mind to the core idea of the book? In what ways is your audience’s understanding of consciousness changing?
PC: It has been a clear trend for a while that people are starting to turn inwards, and looking for answers within for the external circumstances and challenges they are facing, especially in the busy urban life. People realise that one needs to find more balance and harmony in order to cope with the high paced lifestyle with many cultural, social, work, and personal expectations and requirements. It seems that we are doing a lot but achieving very little. The bigger questions in life are starting to surface and change people’s lives. Some are quitting their high paid jobs and prefer to slow down their rhythm and spend more time with their families, others are moving to country side to pursue their true passions and desires and so on. Maybe after all, there is more to life than just making money and achieving more?
RA: How was the experience of writing the book? Did it change you in any way?
PC: The book hasn’t changed me, but life has. We always are on move and changing so the book captures some fragments from a period of my life that happened a few years back. Writing the book wasn’t particularly specific or difficult experience. I wasn’t writing a book per se but more like recording some of the thoughts and insights that I experienced during that time. Each of the articles in the book has been written in a short period of time, typically after a day pact with meetings and full of activities.
RA: What works of literature have influenced you?
PC: I have read widely; and all my readings have shaped my understanding. One is always ever-changing, and finds new ways to perceive and experience life. Recently I have paid special attention to economics. Ludwig von Mises’s Human Action is a masterpiece from the last century. Ancient classics like Bhagavad-Gita, Dhammapada, Tao De Ching, Upanishads, and the Bible, among other sacred texts, are always a source of inspiration and wisdom.
RA: You are working on a post-destruction world scenario. Is the destruction of the world an urgent prospect?
PC: Whenever there is destruction of one thing, there is also creation and opportunity for something new. We are living in a post-destruction world already. Our old ways of living are not working any more. We need new ideas in every imaginable sector of our society: energy, banking and finance, agriculture, transportation, manufacturing, education, law etc. Technology enables us to access information and people around the world in ways that have not been available even a few years before. This makes many of the current power structures and ways to organise our living obsolete or inefficient very rapidly. On the other hand we do not tend to learn much from our past mistakes and hence it is very easy to go backwards in societies even in the name of advancement. How can you be sure that everything new is better than the old, especially if you don’t know and have not learned anything from the past?
RA: What is your outlook for the world?
PC: We are facing many challenges that profoundly impact our way of living. The environment is clearly changing and we have to adapt to it. Humans are destroying this planet faster than ever with very severe consequences. Deforestation is one of the most serious and urgent issues that cannot be easily reversed if we do not stop the current pace of destruction. We are all acting like little parasites that altogether are creating a huge mess. Small incremental changes are no good after centuries’ worth of continuous abuse of nature. We need to challenge the way we see ourselves living on this planet and reconsider our relationship with nature. After all nature does not need us — we need nature.
RA: Can we make a difference?
PC: Everyone can personally consider what is necessary, and can make a difference. Life is not about sacrifices and suffering but living in a manner that is harmonious and respectful.
The Original Article