Peter’s Correspondence on the Actual Freedom List
with Correspondent No 48
Welcome to the mailing list. I assume from the fact you have taken up my suggestion to correspond via the mailing list means that it is appropriate for me to post my reply to your post on the list.
RESPONDENT: Could you please tell me, when you converse with Richard, is it true that he comes across as somewhat like a Vulcan from Star Trek? Is there no smiling, laughing?
PETER: Why have you come to believe that, if I may ask? Is that the impression you get from reading Richard’s writings or correspondence?
RESPONDENT: Is it really necessary to disprove one’s beliefs are true or can I just keep bringing myself back to the present sensations?
PETER: This totally depends upon whether you want to become happy and harmless … or not. If you sincerely want to become happy and harmless, you will come to find out for yourself the answer to this question. By finding out for yourself, you cease the debilitating business of continuously having to believe what others tell you.
RESPONDENT: I don’t understand how to do the social identity deconstructing thing, could you phrase it briefly in a different way? I don’t think that finding out why I’m not feeling good will work for me.
PETER: A while ago I wrote ‘An Introduction to Actual Freedom’ with the express purpose of describing the process of actualism to newcomers. You may find it a useful aid in determining whether you are really interested in finding out why you are not ‘feeling good’. Unless you are interested in the subject, no amount of rephrasing on my part will be of any use at all.
RESPONDENT: But bringing back my attention repeatedly to my present sensations has already done something for me. If there is an emotion, shall I just put attention on them like any other sensation?
PETER: If you are interested in finding out why you are not feeling good all the time and why you continuously fall back into feeling annoyed, angry, resentful, melancholy, lonely, sad, detached, aloof, self-righteous and so on, you will find you need to do more than just become a dis-identified watcher of your emotions. You may find a critique I wrote about spiritual awareness useful in that it exposes the utter self-centredness of the practice.
You will also find Richard’s article on ‘Attentiveness and Sensuousness and Apperceptiveness’ helpful as it explains a down-to-earth attentiveness far in excess of the normal humdrum of the spiritual practices.
RESPONDENT: Because without putting meaning onto them, that’s what they seem to be.
PETER: If your aim in life is to become happy and harmless, you will come to understand and experience that your emotions not only have meaning, but effect as well. You will find yourself becoming attentive to the fact that the only thing preventing you from being happy is your own feelings of malice and sorrow.
And if your aim in life is to become happy and harmless you will become attentive to the fact that it is your feelings of malice and sorrow that are preventing you from living in peace and harmony with your fellow human beings.
To ignore or deny the meaning and ignore the effect of your feelings and emotions on yourself and others is but to fall into the traditional trap of trying to escape the bad or unwanted feelings by imagining ‘who’ you really are is a higher spiritual being having a human experience, as Gary once put it.
RESPONDENT: I’m new to this & I’ve got to say that it’s quite a relief to find people who don’t just respond with something like ‘who is experiencing this?’
PETER: Yes. All of the other people who are talking about freedom are talking about imagining they are free by becoming a superior ‘above-it-all’ being of some sort. You will find that what is being talked about here is completely non-spiritual and refreshingly down-to-earth – an actual, tangible, freedom from the human condition, not a spurious ‘self’-aggrandizing freedom from an instinctive grim reality.
RESPONDENT: Would anyone like to post a transcript of an investigation they have made? I would like to know what questions to ask & what not to ask so I can streamline the process of investigation so it is as efficient as possible. Thanks very much.
It’s a journal I wrote specifically to pass on information to others who might be interested in actualism and how the actualism method works in practice. In it, I documented the major areas of investigation I made in order to become virtually free of malice and sorrow. It seems to have stood the test of time because thus far the major objections and stumbling blocks people have to being happy and harmless all fall within the range of topics I covered.
If you do read it, it is good to bear in mind that while it is a personal journal, i.e. one person’s description of becoming virtually free from malice and sorrow, the journal is unexceptional in that I am no one special. Exactly like every other human being on the planet, I am the product of a sperm meeting an egg, I was genetically-encoded with brutish animal survival passions, was born into the world as-it-is, with people as-they-are. And further I was taught to believe that the malice and sorrow inherent within the human condition is someone else’s fault and can only come to an end when everyone else changes.
When I came to understand that all of human malice and sorrow – mine included – is the result of the ‘self’-centred passions that arise from the instinctual animal survival program common to all sentient animals, the whole issue of blaming anyone else for my lot in life collapsed. When blame disappeared, so did the feelings of guilt, shame, resentment and anger at having to be here in the world as-it-is, with people as-they-are.
Then I was free to get on with the business-end of actualism – doing everything I could to rid myself of malice and sorrow so as to become virtually happy and harmless, which is the essential effort ‘I’ need to make if I aspire to be actually free from the human condition.
The most efficient way to become virtually happy and harmless as soon as possible is to abandon all of those truths, wisdoms, beliefs, morals, ethics, philosophies, ideas, theories, convictions, attitudes, ideologies, doctrines and psittacisms that human beings clasp to their bosoms in order to justify their own ‘self’-righteous feelings of anger and their own ‘self’-indulgent feelings of sadness. That’s essentially what my journal is about.
So, when you say
the answer is simple. Given that an actualist’s primary single-pointed aim in life is to be happy and harmless, the only question that needs to be asked – and answered – is why am I not happy right now or why am I not harmless right now.
RESPONDENT: Will you please tell me, do all completed investigations end with a belief being proven false, or do they sometimes end with an affective feeling simply disappearing?
PETER: A completed investigations ends when I recognize that one of ‘my’ precious beliefs is nothing other than one of the plethora of beliefs ‘I’ have either unwittingly imbibed in early childhood, cunningly taken up later in life in order to ingratiate myself into a particular group or accepted it as being a Truth solely because some Big Daddy or Big Mummy figure said it or is supposed to have said it.
In my experience, and my observations of others, there is usually a particularly precious belief that ‘I’ hold so dear that ‘I’ will stubbornly fight to hang on to, rather than relinquish it. There is usually one belief that is so much a part of ‘my’ identity that to relinquish it is to bring up deep feelings such as being irresponsible, being a traitor, a defector, a turncoat, a fool, or whatever.
But if you dare to let go of your most cherished belief, you can then begin to see all your other beliefs for what they are –‘your’ beliefs, an integral part of your social identity. Each time one of these beliefs come to the surface – and you will notice them because you will feel offended if it is brought into question and you will feel smugly justified when it is affirmed by others – you can then investigate the validity and sensibility of holding on to that particular belief. Provided you have set your sights on being happy and harmless, then each time you discover a belief you have a choice – hold on to the belief and remain feeling ‘self’-satisfied or offended, or be happy and harmless.
Pretty soon you get the hang of it and finding beliefs and chucking them out becomes great fun. As the momentum builds you will eventually get to the stage where you stop the very act of believing and you will then start to stand on your own two feet for the first time in your life. Provided you don’t get swept away with aggrandizing feelings at this point, you will find yourself well on the way to becoming free of malice and sorrow.
As for the second part of your question – ‘do they sometimes end with an affective feeling simply disappearing?’ – once you have become aware of a feeling such as anger or pride as it is happening, you have in effect brought the feeling out into the open and exposed it for what it is. Then, when it reappears again, you can recognize the emergence of the feeling in its very early stage and this awareness will cause it not to grow and take over.
This is not suppressing the feeling – this is being aware of the feeling, naming the feeling and feeling the feeling, all the while being aware that this is what you are doing – it is a bit like detecting an ember before it grows to become a raging bushfire. When you get to the stage that you only detect the occasional very faint ember such that it never glows brightly, let alone grows into a bushfire, you are virtually free of malice and sorrow – and your own sincerity will be the judge of that.
As you can see I don’t have anything particularly new to say on the subject, but maybe saying it in a different way will have been of use to you. If I haven’t addressed your question satisfactorily, I am only too happy discuss it further – topics such as these are ‘right up my alley’, so to speak.
RESPONDENT: What belief did you have that kept you feeling attached to being Australian?
PETER: The belief that it is good to have a national identity, the belief that it is essential to feel as though I belong somewhere, the belief that I need to feel like some place is home, and so on. When I eventually came to realize that, by and large, these feelings are feelings that other people have told me I should feel – that’s what social conditioning is after all – it was relatively easy to give them up in favour of being an anonymous and autonomous citizen of the world.
To put it another way, I gave up feeling I belonged to one particular national group because of the invidious and aggrandizing feelings associated with holding on to such an identity entailed and I fostered the felicitous feelings associated in feeling myself to be a citizen of the world and seeing and treating all of my fellow human beings for what they are, fellow human beings, and not ‘who’ they are.
And just to say again what can never be said enough – the process of actualism is not about not feeling – in its first stage it is about becoming aware of the invidious and aggrandizing feelings as they occur and actively endorsing the felicitous feelings such that one can be as happy and harmless as possible whilst still being a ‘self’.
RESPONDENT: Belonging to a family?
PETER: I had to look at all the beliefs that have been passed down the generations about how one should feel and shouldn’t feel about being a father, a son, a mother, a daughter, a brother, a sister and so on. It’s probably more accurate to call these the morals and ethics of social conditioning but a particular event happened that caused my whole emotion-backed thinking about the nature of belonging to a family to come crashing down –
RESPONDENT: For panic attacks/phobias that don’t appear to have any obvious beliefs surrounding it, what would one do?
PETER: There are of course feelings that are not associated with taking offence when you feel one of ‘your’ beliefs – part of your social identity – is being brought into question, exposed for what it is, overtly or inadvertently challenged by someone or some event. There are feelings and emotions that are associated with you being an instinctual being. You will get to know these as feeling much ‘closer to the bone’ as it were – they are deep-down-inside feelings so much so that they can be described as gut-wrenching or heart-rendering.
What would one do when these surface? – keep your hands in your pockets – label the feeling, feel the feeling, and then get back to feeling good as soon as possible. If you can’t get out of the feeling because it too all-consuming, find a quiet, safe place and literally wait it out, because you will find that like all feelings, eventually it will subside. Actualism is about awareness and investigation not indulgence and right suffering.
RESPONDENT: If I simply asked, ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive’, and did nothing else, would this just lead to a state of dissociation?
PETER: Good to see you managed to re-subscribe to the mailing list.
I thought I would take the opportunity to respond to some questions that you posted to me privately whilst you were temporarily unsubscribed. As I explained, I avoid where possible writing privately on the subject of actualism – the very reason we set up the mailing list was to have all of our discussions out in the open in order that everyone has the benefit of everyone’s contributions to the discussions.
RESPONDENT: If you were obsessive compulsive about something, say about being clean all the time, and you don’t remember a PCE, and you WANT to be free of this obsessiveness and other affective feelings, what are the steps you would take to get well and truly underway to becoming free? I’d appreciate it if you explained the steps in simple language that any dumbo would understand, because I’m just not getting the process. Right now, if you flat out told be the belief that is the core of one of my problems along with the source of it, and I thought and thought about it, I still don’t think I’d get anywhere!
PETER: We have had a number of correspondents over the years who have been interested in becoming free of a particular obsession, or free from a personally galling morality, or free of a specific psychological condition. Whilst there is anecdotal evidence that some people have indeed practically benefited from applying a little bit of the uncommon common sense that actualism is in their life – even a little bit of actualism is better than none at all – the main event in actualism is about singularly devoting your life to being harmless as well as being happy.
Perhaps this throws some light on why you say you are just not getting the process – attempting to undertake a process without an immediate objective as well as an end goal to is akin to aimlessly drifting along with neither purpose nor direction to one’s life. I wrote something in my journal that seems relevant –
RESPONDENT: When a feeling is given the label, ‘Sadness’, instead of me thinking, ‘I am sad’. Is this apperception or something else?
PETER: Well, as you write it, this is most definitely not apperception but is more likely dissociation.
If you notice that you are feeling sad, why not simply note that ‘I am feeling sad’? Saying ‘there is sadness happening’ rather than saying ‘I am feeling sad’ is equivalent to saying ‘my body is sick’ rather than saying ‘I am sick’. Whether one claims is ‘I am not my feelings’ or ‘I am not my body’, both are statements of dissociation.
I always like to take a clear-eyed look at the fundamental bottom line of any aspect of the human condition and Ramesh Balsekar’s teachings are a prime example of dissociation writ large –
RESPONDENT: My understanding of the way to nondual awareness is to ‘be here now’, in my body. I don’t care for nondual awareness anymore. I just want freedom. Would you say that ‘be here now’ in my body, equates to the effect of ‘how am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’
PETER: No. Even in my very early days of actualism I understood that what actualism was on about was being happy and harmless, as this corporeal flesh and blood body only, right now in this perpetual moment, right here in this physical place. Actualism is totally upfront about this, which is apparently why so few have thus far been willing to be pioneers in this business.
RESPONDENT: If I one day have virtually no feelings or issues to get in the way, and the question ‘how am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ is repeated without interruption, how do I prevent myself from becoming dissociated?
PETER: Well, Ramesh Balsekar has no feelings or issues that get in the way of his feeling pretty damn good because he is utterly dissociated from whatever God decides his ‘body/mind organism’ should or shouldn’t act. The way to avoid dissociation and dissociative states is simple – be upfront, at the start, about singularly devoting your life to being harmless as well as being happy.
RESPONDENT: This is my take on Richard’s instructions:
Is it correct?
PETER: Given the post I am responding to is somewhat dated now, I notice that No 21 has responded to a more recent question you asked about the actualism method and I particularly liked his response –
As someone who has written much of the much that has so far been written about the actualism method, I am reluctant to add yet more at this stage. In order to understand how the actualism method of becoming happy and harmless works in practice it is essential to firstly want to become happy and harmless so as to able to find out for oneself exactly what this entails in practice – then what has been written in the past, and is now currently being written by yet others, will act as an invaluable corroboration that one is indeed on the broad and bountiful path to an actual freedom from malice and sorrow.
RESPONDENT: What criteria is best to use when choosing a partner of the opposite gender to live with (or the same gender if one is so inclined)? The goal being to live peacefully together.
PETER: What I discovered was that if my goal was to live together with a partner in peace and harmony then the doing of it was entirely my own business and that it had nothing to do with my partner whatsoever. I found that to make my happiness and my harmlessness someone else’s business was a cop-out.
Peter’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.