My intention is to record my association and friendship with Eugene Halliday from the initial meeting to the present day. This will be a personal, subjective and truthful account but will be much more about me than him. Eugene Halliday has been the greatest inspiration and the most important influence in my life, the source of all the really useful ideas that I value, his example and teachings will be an integrating thread in this blog.
If you want to learn more directly about Eugene’s teachings read his books or listen to his talks, this is not an attempt to analyze his work but a subjective record of one who has and is making an inner journey. Elements of his teachings have guided me, but it has taken a very long time to embody even a little of them, so this is the journal of a somewhat slow learner. Over time I have become increasingly grateful to him and I now feel the need to pay back in some small way something for the amount of attention I was given by offering to others the fruits of my understanding, experience and mistakes.
This will be a difficult story for me to tell because I want to tell the whole of it not just the shiny bits. I feel anxious about intimate self-revealing but to leave that out would be to somehow take a vital element away. I have struggled and in many ways continue to do so. The formative years in the natal Freeman household were not conflict free and the emotionally charged records of those early years still reverberate.
I have several boxes of poems, diaries and notes that span about 40 years. Reading through them has been more difficult than I imagined and deciding what to include and discard difficult. Consulting the I Ching recently the advice was: “The silt at the bottom of the well needs to be removed”. This resonates and the process of writing is like dipping a bucket into the well and examining the contents, one memory evokes another. I find myself in tears. There is treasure in the silt at the bottom of the well, gold as well as shit. The gold being a reclaiming of my buried will and energy. Dipping into a well with buckets to remove the silt takes a long time and requires energetic application and commitment also known as devotion.
My parents had three children. First my sister Hazel, then three years later my brother Andrew, then after another three years, in 1953 myself. My father had just returned from the war when he and my mother got married. In the war my father Fred fought the Japanese behind enemy lines in Burma and because of his natural leadership ability, high officer casualty rates in this dangerous theatre of war, and fighting instincts, was promoted to the rank of Major in his early twenties. Fred’s army years marked him for life.
This is a quote from my father Fred Freeman’s war memoirs;
After the capture of the Pinmhi Bridge we occupied a forward position on the south side of the Mogaung road where the Japs with their artillery, snipers and night patrols made sure we were kept awake. The smell of corpses (including dead mules) was nauseating but, as we were in open country close to the Japs, no action could be taken to bury the corpses. There was, however, one unforeseen consolation. The road was lined with mango trees, the fruit was ripe and it dropped down on us. There were swarms of wasps about, but there was plenty of fruit for all of us (wasps included) and it made a very welcome change to our diet.
The next objective given to my platoon was to capture a strongly fortified Jap position with machine-guns whose field of fire commanded the road. I was told to attack before evening across about three hundred yards of open paddy field and to plan the attack in whatever way I saw fit. Without supporting fire this attack would have been suicidal, so I requested Colonel Christie of the Lancashire Fusiliers for air support. Colonel Christie said there might be trouble about air support, but would I wait at Battalion HQ for a few minutes as the Brigadier was coming. When he arrived Christie told him of my request. Mike Calvert’s most generous and modest reply was that the Americans were putting him under considerable pressure to ease up on the use of aircraft, he would therefore like Colonel Christie to decide what was the right decision for him to make. He would explain to the Colonel his position, I would explain mine, and the Colonel would ‘say which one of us was right’. The Colonel expressed the view that air support was needed (as indeed I believe it was). Mike Calvert did not quibble, but then proceeded to give me helpful detailed practical advice about how close to get to the Jap position before the bombing started, how to tell when it was ended and how necessary it was to advance quickly thereafter. The Mustang bombers were unbelievably accurate and secured a direct hit on the machine guns and the position was occupied without casualties on our part. The final episode in the Battle of Mogaung, in which I personally was involved, was to capture the village of Naungkiaktow. This night assault was carried out in conjunction with Captain Stewart Binnie of Bladet. A good many of the sixteen killed and thirty-eight wounded in this attack were from the Kings and Bladet. I was slightly wounded, but that was from a Jap grenade. At night one could see these grenades coming towards one, as they left a trail of sparks from the fuse. Captain Binnie was also wounded at the same time, but much more seriously than me, he lost an eye
On returning and entering family life the family house reflected my father’s expectation to be the leader and give orders that had to be obeyed. He was not tolerant of disobedience or work not performed to a high standard. He set very high standards for himself and he drove himself to serve society with exceptional single mindednes, he also swam year round in the sea every morning in the Marine Lake in West Kirby regardless of the weather or sea temperature. He took over the Family Business ‘Freemans’ of Wavertree Road in Liverpool and expanded it to encompass a number of sites throughout Merseyside, eventually employing about 500 staff. He built a new store including a bowling alley and car parking for 150 cars. His staff were very loyal to him as he was to them, he was an exceptionally visionary businessman and created one of the first out-of-town superstores in the UK. He had visited the USA in January 1955 and seen the way out-of-town stores were developing and started to purchase property to acquire the site, I seem to recall the overall size was about seven acres. There is much that I admire in my father and I respect his achievements but sadly do not feel the love for him that I could.
As his son I lived in his shadow. He was not an affectionate man although he was often sentimental. I craved affection and touch as a child and he was not someone or of a generation, that this came naturally to. I learned not to come to him with problems as he would tend to take over tell me the solution and then push me to implement it. Eventually I realized that I was better off away from his sphere of influence and moved to Australia at the age of 19.
As a small child I lived in fear of my father, he was unpredictable and very often angry. My brother, sister and I were regularly and harshly punished by spanking on our bare bottoms with a shoe or hairbrush. It was very painful and we emerged bruised and humiliated. At about age eight I remember being spanked for not having passed on a telephone message; I remember how unfair I felt this was and how much I hated him. The purpose in sharing this is to set the scene for the state of mind that was engendered in us children and the growing need for change.
The family situation was made worse with the nervous breakdowns that affected my mother from about the time of my birth for the next 15 years or so.
Quote from Yvonne’s letters home.
3rd October 1954 Cheadle Royal Hospital.
This morning I had some more electrical treatment which leaves one with a bit of a hangover and it is rather confusing coming ‘round’. I can never remember where on earth I am. This is the third lot that has been given me so my case is not being neglected
In a letter dated 8th October 1954: Cheadle Royal Hospital.
It is my treatment morning to-day so I was lucky I got the post before having it ,otherwise I would have been too blotto to deal efficiently with the matter. I hope there won’t be many more treatments for me because I like them less and less each time, the old brain box has had enough electric shocks.
Monday possibly the 11th October 1954, Cheadle Royal Hospital.
“I am writing your letter to-day at the crack of dawn because it is black Monday which means a dose of treatment. Perhaps this will be the nearly the last, here’s hoping anyway ….. We don’t get any breakfast on these occasions until about 10.30 am when a few sandwiches arrive, thank goodness this will almost certainly be nearly the last, it leaves one with a moldy headache for the rest of the day.
Still to look on the bright side , I definitely feel more cheerful and resilient than when you deposited me on the doorstep, even my sense of humour is beginning to revive.
1961 and 1962 were years when much time seems to have been spent at Cheadle Royal Hospital and there are many letters:
19th Feb 1961
My dear little Richard
Just a few lines to let you know that I am thinking of you although I can’t be home just yet, your butterflies look very nice on my table and are greatly admired. They remind me of you when I look at them . . . Lots of love Yvonne
21st Feb 1962
My Dearest Richard,
This is just a little line to remind you that I shall be home again this evening, just in case you had forgotten. Thank you very much for your nice letter…..afterwards I shall go off to the paper hats and earn myself a shilling by making 144. Would you make 12 hats for a penny?…..Will have to close because this is my last sheet of note-paper and all my worldly wealth is eight and a half pence. Lots of love Mummy.
One of the trigger points that unbalanced Yvonne was the purchase of a new house in 1953 to accommodate the growing family. She did not like the new house Broughshane because it was dark and more importantly away from her many friends who also had small children and lived several miles away in West Drive, Upton. She suffered the first breakdown in about the first 12 months of my life and was given E.C.T. and drug therapy. She never really seemed right and we all had to be very quiet around her when she was at home. I do not really have much of a sense of her presence, although I can remember cuddling up to her on the couch while she was watching television. My mother was not very present in the house and all the punishments took place behind closed doors and away from her. We were really brought up by a daily help known to us children as Wook who was employed to look after us three children. She was a wonderful woman and I feel deep affection for her because of her kindness, she loved us in a very devoted way. Wook or more properly Miss Wilkinson was the one constant stable element in our lives. She did not have children of her own and she treated us like her own. I know this also caused my mother anguish as she felt that the love of her children had been stolen from her.
I remember my mother telling me that when she felt that she could no longer cope, in the early years or months of my life, when the forces of her mental balance and emotional wellbeing where being overwhelmed. She prayed to God saying that she offered my life to God’s service if God would help me to come through this. I reflect on this as an adult and recognised this as one of the determinants in my life, I also question the right of anyone to offer the life of another being on any terms. Yvonne did this with the best of intentions and exercised her choice as a mother. My choice came later.
Kingsmead School about half an hour cycle away was my next destination, I was in Arnold house because my brother was in that house. Something that comes to mind is the inappropriate attentions of one of the masters, a Mr Woodhead who called the boys up to his desk while marking and correcting their work. He also spent his time putting his fingers up our shorts and into our underwear. Mr Woodhead was my form master and when it came to corporal punishment for misbehaviors he always made a point of rubbing the offenders buttocks after the beating, at least that was my experience.
It never really bothered me much at the time because it happened to everyone and I thought it was normal, but as I look back now I am much less accepting. That was the way it was and teachers and adults in general, it seemed, had unlimited authority. One was supposed to do as one was told, which I always found difficult to comply with and rule breaking became raised to a type of art form, unfortunately also did lying. The difficulty with this was the constant fear my rebellious behavior engendered in me. I lived with a state of visceral anxiety which darkened my days. Already there was in me one face turning out to the world in the hope for approval and love and a separate face that was too hideous to acknowledge to myself or share with others. A split had occurred.
The troubled years. I hate writing about this time because it was dark and I was sad and fearful. Cycling to school from home was better than the incarceration in a boy’s boarding school. My father told me with pride that he had paid the fees for the term; from my point of view this was for his benefit not mine as I hated school. I was enrolled after the common entrance exam at King William’s College on the Isle of Man. Young boys living together can be vile to each other and I was no different. Any difference was picked on, be it accent, hair colour, size of nose, way of walking. This was a world of competition and survival without any rules. I was lucky because I was physically stronger and faster than most in my year group, making me an effective rugby player and on the school teams. In the competitive schoolboy status stakes this was important and a significant advantage. The problem with this school and others was that the teachers were often not worthy of respect, many teachers were more like grown up children rather than mature male role models. This was not true for all but a significant number lacked qualities that growing boys would wish to emulate.
I spent as much time as I could at my friends’ houses as I felt unsafe in my own when my father was around. In fact I used to avoid him by staying in bed when I could and only getting up when I heard the sound of his car departing for work. My friends parents I know viewed me with some suspicion because I used to steal money from my father and buy sweets to try and make myself popular and be liked. I trace that inner feeling of loneliness and anxiety back to those days. I did however have friendships and they were really most important.
I am sure that I would not have survived to this present age if an unexpected event had not happened within our family system. The medical profession realized that there was little more they could do for my mother and one of them said that he knew someone who, although not a doctor, could be very helpful in cases like my mother’s. My mother was introduced to a man called Eugene Halliday, who the first time they met asked her if she wanted relief from her symptoms or to learn something. Eugene was a teacher who had a profound influence on my mother, father, brother and me. My parents changed under his influence. Eugene in my view was a self-realized spiritual master, a reflexively self-conscious being who lived, embodied, radiated and taught spiritual truth and principles. Eugene Halliday practiced what he taught and taught what he practiced. He was inspirational and magnetic. It took me quite a while to appreciate this.
Eugene became in time the most important influence on my life. When I was 11 I was yet again caught stealing money and instead of being beaten I was taken to see this strange man with a beard in a house I had never been to in Manchester. I thought he was very peculiar, a real weirdo, and not at all like anyone I had met before. I immediately identified him as an enemy in league with my parents. He asked me all sorts of questions about what was in my mind when I took the money and he tried to de-energise this compulsive behavior by making me speak about it in the present tense. Anyway realising that this was better than being spanked I told him what I thought he wanted to hear. I had to say something so came up with the first things that came into my mind, which seemed miles away from the truth but I thought I had got away with it. I had no idea what the truth was anyway because lying had become my modus operandi and had created in me this state of terrible fear-driven anxiety. I was split. However I felt confidence in my ability as a liar to get myself out of this tight spot. It was a very strange experience. This was the man who my mother had been talking about. I was just relieved to get out of there as fast as possible and preferably never have to go back.
These are a couple of letters from a period about three years later by which time I would be 15 years old. Eugene spent time explaining the basic energies operating within me, namely, thought, feeling and action, and the importance of coordinating them and how best to relate to other people. These were lessons that I really needed to learn although I was not aware of it at the time. The truth is by that time I was really a stranger to myself and at an emotional level completely numb. I was very unhappy but not really aware of it and my energy was focused outwards onto rugby, rule breaking and girls.
This is why I credit him with saving my life. I was an unhappy and disturbed young man and on a trajectory that would predictably have ended in isolation and an inability to form intimate relationships. Eugene saw what was going on within the family and worked to educate us all with the effect of improving all our lives.
This is one of Eugene’s first letters.
5 March 1968
A few useful ideas for you to think about. The business of living and getting on with people is one we can manage better if we have a good rule to go by. One very good rule is Julius Cesars favourite: Divide and conquer. It is also the favourite of a lot of other world-beaters.
Divide means analyse, that is, loosen one thing from another so that each thing can be seen for what it is. Analysis of any thing, idea, event or situation makes clear what is involved in it.
In the case of a human being analysis shows us that inside him he has three basic activities, Feeling, Willing and Thinking (Psychology call these Affection, Conation and Cognition, but we do not need to use the psychological terms.)
If we understand these three basic functions, we can simplify our lives very much.
Feeling is simply liking and disliking. When we like anything we tend to move towards it. When we dislike a thing we tend to move away from it. If we like chocolate, and we are not already full of it, we tend to eat it. If we dislike being shouted at or hit, we tend to move away from it. This tendency to move towards the thing we like and away from the thing we dislike is called a taxism. A taxism is a tendency to move towards or away from anything. If the movement is towards the thing it is called a positive taxism. If the movement is away from the thing it is called a negative taxism. There are only two kinds of feelings: positive towards feelings and negative away from feelings.
Willing is simply energizing the body into action, wholly or partially. We can will to go for a walk , or will to paint a picture, or will to sing a song, or will to consider an idea, or will to go to sleep.
Thinking is the making of ideas in the mind and arranging them on lines or patterns. When we arrange ideas on a line we call this linear thinking, if we think of a lot of beads on a string and consider one bead after another as connected on the string we are thinking in a linear way. If we visualise an object like a chess-board we are doing pattern thinking of a simple kind. When we think of a series of events in time or space as if we came to each event after a certain amount of space or time, we are doing serial thinking. To think in series is to think seriously and serially.
Now, all we have to do to solve our problems is to feel sensitively, will strongly, and think clearly. Observe that these three are intimately related. We have to will to feel sensitively and will to think clearly. We have to feel sensitively to know how strongly to will, and to feel sensitively to be able to find exactly which idea to choose for the purpose in mind. We have to think clearly to know what to will, and to separate ideas for our feeling to evaluate.
Really this is not as complicated as it sounds. All we have to do is think clearly, feel sensitively and will strongly. We think to define what we are willing to do. We feel to assess how strongly to will. We will to do what our thinking and feeling indicate to be worth doing.
To think clearly we just look at the form or shape of a thing and define what it is to do, what it is designed for, what it can be used for, where it fits in with other things.
To feel sensitively is simply to examine each thing, event, or relation , in terms of liking and disliking. It is most important for us to refer to liking and disliking whenever we have to decide any course of action. Only when and where we know our likes and dislikes in full can we really gain unity of being and happiness
To will strongly is to energise our mind and body and put them into action. To do this we must first think clearly and feel sensitively about the nature of will and feeling and thinking. The more familiar we are with these processes the more easily we may solve our problems.
In every situation there is something to think about, something to feel about, something to will into action. We must remember that we can will to think, will to feel, or will into action with the body. We can also feel the like and dislike of our ideas and actions.
Just as in ourselves we have these processes, so they occur also in others. Other persons also think, feel, and will. And they don’t always think, feel and will in the same way we do. We can’t make them do so (unless we learn how to persuade), so we just have to accept the differences between them and ourselves.
Once we have accepted the differences between people we can begin to deal better with them. Until we accept the differences we cannot deal better with them. We are surrounded with people, some like us some very different from us. We have to learn how to deal with them all.
Young people have to deal with other young people, with older people, with boys and men, women and girls. Each person has to be dealt with in a slightly different way. Old people have to deal with other old people, and with young people, males and females. All are different in certain ways. All are similar in certain ways.
The way people are similar is their general preference for pleasure over pain, for comfort over discomfort. This is very important. If we find out what a person likes and dislikes we can relate to them intelligently. If we want to make friends with him we say nice things about the things he likes and avoiding discussing the dislikes.
If we find out what a person likes and dislikes we can relate to him intelligently. If we want to make friends with him, we can say nice things about the things he likes and avoid discussing the dislikes. We must remember that most of the likes and dislikes people have are matters of opinion only. We do not insist on people letting go of their opinions and accepting ours. It is far more diplomatic to let them have their own views in every case where doing so will not actually impede what we consider essential to be done.We can afford to give up everything except the essential. This way by little sacrifices, we can make big gains in friendship and cooperation.
Most people are tender about one thing or another. To discover their tender points and not strike at them is very important. If you injure someone by actions or words, you make them to some degree into an enemy. If you please them you make a friend.
Most people don’t think as clearly as they might, don’t feel as sensitively as they might. They can’t help their basic temperament , because they didn’t create themselves from the beginning. They began as babies and had to depend on their educators for their general view of life, and their basic behaviour patterns. Because of this it is better for us to make allowances for them when they do silly things, or apparently cruel or spiteful things – and it is kinder.
The more we can make allowances for the actions of other people the better we will get on with them, and they with us. It’s all a question of getting the right view of things. When we get this we find ourselves beginning to relax, to feel better, to have more concentration and easier understanding of anything we have to tackle.
Write to me when you have a moment,