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A manifesto is a written declaration of our values and intentions in life. But first a little backstory. Some years ago I happened upon D. E. Harding’s (1988) The Little Book of Life and Death. I’m almost defeated by this book’s subject matter despite my reading and rereading it, and only last month experienced an awakening.


Then, some time back, I came across a post on the internet about creating a personal manifesto and the concept totally resonated with me.

More recently, I discovered Dennis Ford’s (2007) The Search for Meaning: A short History. I record the following resonating quotations from the book:

I’m on a journey from searching after pleasures and success to a quest to know my duty and infinite being.

Quest myth provides a narrative pattern and orientation to make my life meaningful.

Look higher in both myself and the world.

”’ if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. ~Henry David Thoreau

All too often we lose sight of what matters to us. We may find ourselves driven by different things on different days and we don’t have a predetermined course through life. We may get lazy, complacent, and waste our lives away with things that truly don’t matter to us. We become subject to the control of our ever-changing thoughts and feelings.  Having a defined set of values gives us the ability to reflect on them and assess if we’re on track or otherwise in our lives. Set aside a couple of hours over a few days and pull together your own personal manifesto.

This manifesto method is that of vaccination and homoeopathy: cure like by like: give yourself a mild attack of the disease now, and thereby build antibodies that ward of the real disease when it strikes. It is in principle my own method. When should this treatment begin? Some would say the sooner the better, but there are no rules. Everything depends on the needs of the individual. Recognise that for the person of the third age it is a duty and necessity to give serious attention to oneself unlike in the second or first ages of life. 

Selected references to guide you with your manifesto

D. E. Harding (1988) The Little Book of Life and Death

Douglas Harding takes a fresh look at death, and points to that which is before and beyond death – our true self.

D. E. Harding (1980) WHAT I OWE TO RAMANA MAHARSHI in Sri Ramana Maharshi
Birth Centenary Offering pp. 55-58

.. all the troubles that afflict humans reduce to one trouble — mistaken identity. The answer to the problem is to see Who has it. At its own level it is insoluble. And it must be so. There is no greater absurdity, no more fundamental or damaging a madness, than to imagine one is centrally what one looks like at a distance. To think one is a human being here is a sickness so deep-seated that it underlies and generates all one’s ills. Only cure that one basic disease — mistaken identity — and all is exactly as it should be. … WHO AM I? is the only serious question. And, most fortunately, it is the only question that can be answered without hesitation or the shadow of a doubt, absolutely.

The Headless Way: A method of self-enquiry pioneered by Douglas Harding

Down the ages, across the world, and from many different perspectives humans have wondered about and debated the true nature of the self. The Headless Way offers a contemporary and practical method of investigating this perennial question for yourself.

Dennis Ford (2007) The Search for Meaning: A short History

In The Search for Meaning: A Short History, Dennis Ford explores eight approaches humans have pursued over time to invest life with meaning and infuse order into a seemingly chaotic universe: myth, philosophy, science, postmodernism, pragmatism, archetypal psychology, metaphysics, and naturalism. Ford strips these systems to their bare essentials, showing the difference between viewing the world from a religious point of view and that of a naturalist, and comparing a scientific worldview to a philosophical one. Ford investigates the contributions of the Greeks, Kant, and William James, and brings the discussion up to date with contemporary thinkers. He proffers the refreshing idea that in today’s world, the answers provided by traditional religions to increasingly difficult questions have lost their currency for many and that the reductive or rationalist answers provided by science and postmodernism are themselves rife with unexamined assumptions.

Henry David Thoreau (2008) Walden: (Or Life in the Woods)

Walden details Thoreau’s sojourn in a cabin near Walden Pond, amidst woodland owned by his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson. Walden was written with expressed seasonal divisions. Thoreau hoped to isolate himself from society in order to gain a more objective understanding of it. Simplicity and self-reliance were Thoreau’s other goals, and the project was inspired by Transcendentalist philosophy.

Henry David Thoreau (2014) Civil Disobedience
Resistance to Civil Government (Civil Disobedience) was first published in 1849. In it, Thoreau argues that individuals should not permit governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences, and that they have a duty to avoid allowing such acquiescence to enable the government to make them the agents of injustice. Thoreau was motivated in part by his disgust with slavery and the Mexican–American War.

The how and why to create your own personal manifesto


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