Peter’s Correspondence on the Actual Freedom List
with Correspondent No 50
PETER: Welcome to The Actual Freedom Trust Mailing List. You wrote –
RESPONDENT: How does the chemical flood of the constant ‘feeling reality’ instantly disappear, and allow a PCE to occur?
PETER: It would seem to me that there are four possibilities to the onset of a PCE –
Whilst these categories are based on my own observations and the reports of others, I am hesitant in claiming these categorizations as being definitive, nevertheless they may serve as a good starting point for the discussion.
Before I begin I would make the point that what I am talking about is the different ways a PCE can be triggered, not different types of PCEs. Because a PCE is a temporary ‘self’-less sensate-only experience of the actual world that each and every flesh and blood human body lives in, a PCE is an experience that is common-to-all and, unlike an ASC, a PCE has no variations at all due to cultural, gender or personality influences.
1. Unprovoked spontaneous onsets of PCEs –
The most commonly-reported memories of unprovoked spontaneous onsets of PCEs come from early childhood years and this is so because the psychological and psychic ‘self’ not yet fully formed or fully functioning in early childhood. As such, the ‘constant ‘feeling reality’’, still in its fledgling state in childhood, is prone to imperceptibly vanish in appropriate circumstances and the child’s resultant naïve curiosity about the extraordinary nature of the ordinary physical world can then involuntarily tip over into wonder and amazement at it all and a pure consciousness experience of the actual world we flesh and blood human animals live in can result.
Such unprovoked spontaneous onsets to a PCE can also occur in adulthood but in theses cases the event or circumstances have to be such that the cynicism inherent in being an adult human being temporarily abates allowing the emergence of a subjugated naiveté such that it can involuntarily tip over into wonder and amazement of the actual physical world we flesh and blood human animals live in. Again this is an unprovoked spontaneous onset to a PCE in that the PCE seemingly happens without a definable cause but such onsets are more rare in adult years given the near-total stranglehold that cynicism has over every adult human psyche.
A man once related such an unprovoked onset to a PCE he had as a young adult whilst scuba diving. The experience stuck in his memory such that it provoked in him a life-long discontent with his life as-it-is, that is until he came across the Advaita Vedanta teachings and opted for being content with ‘who’ he is. Why I mention this is that it points to the fact that a PCE provides the experiential evidence that there is a peerless and pure actual world that is far, far superior to the ‘self’-produced ‘constant ‘feeling reality’’ or any of the mythologically-driven altered states of consciousness. The reason this man, along with many others of his generation, went on to tread the well-worn Eastern spiritual path is that up until very recently there have only been two options available to human beings – ‘normal’ grim reality or the fantasy world of a Greater Reality – hence other-than-‘normal’ any experience has traditionally always been seen as proof of the existence of a Greater Reality.
2. Provoked spontaneous onsets of PCEs –
A provoked spontaneous onset of a PCE is an onset that is solely due to an external event or circumstances – in other words, the circumstances alone provoke a PCE regardless of ‘my’ feelings, attitudes or inclinations at the time. The most common of these provocations is obvious – the taking of chemical substances that affect the normal functioning of the brain’s circuitry. For me the most significant PCE I had that I could remember was the result of deliberately taking such a drug and I have written about it in my journal. The only reason I can offer as to why I had a PCE and not an ASC – the most usual result of taking such drugs – is that I still had a flickering of naiveté operating at the time. The deliberate taking of mind-altering drugs in an attempt to provoke the onset of a PCE is not something that I recommend, firstly because it is an illegal activity in most countries and secondly because it is a hit-and-miss affair often leading to a random variety of experiences ranging from those that are ‘self’-aggrandizing through various other stages of weirdness to those that are diabolical.
There are other events and circumstances that can provoke the spontaneous onset of PCE and a few examples from my own life experience will serve to illustrate this. One such instance relates to the time when I was a sannyasin or follower of Mohan Rajneesh – a now-dead Indian Guru. As part of his God-man show he gave daily discourses to his disciples whilst sitting in a chair on a podium and this tradition was continued after his death – a taped discourse was played whilst his empty chair sat on the podium. One evening at discourse the absolute absurdity of the circumstances ‘I’ had got myself into struck me – here I was, a grown man, supposedly intelligent, dressed in a long white robe, shouting ‘Yahoo’ to an empty chair. What I experienced was a very brief PCE because I suddenly became aware of what ‘I’ had driven this flesh and blood body to do and this awareness could only happen when ‘I’ was temporarily in abeyance, no longer strutting centre stage as it were. The other incident happened when my son died and the resultant shock of the circumstances caused me to have several spontaneous PCEs in the ensuing days.
Other circumstances that can provoke the spontaneous onset of a PCE are particular stunning nature experiences. Most often such experiences very rapidly relapse into feelings of awe, reverence or pathos which in turn can lead to an epiphany or some similar altered state of consciousness. But sometimes, if one stays steadfastly with the wonder and amazement of the sensate-rich experience, such experiences of the magnificence of the physical world can provoke the spontaneous onset of a PCE.
I have written in my journal of one such experience whilst sailing a yacht at night time in the middle of the Indian Ocean and another I remember was provoked by watching a simultaneous sunset and full moon rise in the middle of a desert. As one huge orange ball sank in the blue-black dusk of the western sky, another equally huge ball arose in the east – and the magnificence of the actual world became stunningly apparent. Of course the circumstances that can provoke the spontaneous onset of a PCE are more likely to provoke the onset of an ASC – after all, an altered state of consciousness is not only the traditional ‘way out’ of grim reality but it also has the added attraction of the influx of overwhelming ‘self’-aggrandizing feelings.
3. Intentionally provoked onsets of PCEs –
We now move on from the normal random, hit-and-miss, chance onsets of PCEs into something that is brand-new in human history – PCEs provoked by an actualist’s unswerving intent to become actually free from the human condition of malice and sorrow. Just to make this clear – it is the intent to devote one’s life to the business of becoming happy and harmless that inevitably provokes the onset of a PCE. Any attempt to provoke a PCE without this pure intention will only result in the frustration of failure or a head-in-the-cloud altered state of consciousness.
When an actualist fully commits to the business of becoming free of the human condition – i.e. when he or she decides to make becoming happy and harmless the most important thing in their life – this commitment marks the beginning of a process specifically designed to focus one’s attentiveness to the workings and nature of a human psyche in action, one’s own psyche. This on-going attentiveness to how am I experiencing this moment of being alive in itself generates revelations, realizations and fundamental changes that are the very provocations that guarantee the onset of PCEs.
To use your terminology, if you deliberately, with due forethought, make a total commitment to set about to poke holes in your own ‘constant ‘feeling reality’’, then something’s eventually got to give. And when a hole or crack does appear, then almost seamlessly the pure and perfect actual world of the senses appears if by magic – and as it does you immediately recognize that it is always here, was always here and has always been here. And as you ponder on the nature of a PCE you become aware that a pure consciousness experience only happens when ‘I’ am temporarily in abeyance.
It is important to also take on board the fact that it is impossible to provoke the onset of a PCE if one is feeling grumpy, resentful, annoyed, frustrated or sad – or, to put it another way, if ‘I’ and ‘my’ moods are busy strutting the stage then ‘I’ am actively preventing the possibility of the onset of a PCE. The reason I mention this is that it makes clear once again that the intent and commitment to become happy and harmless are essential ingredients if one is to aspire to intentionally provoking the onset of a PCE.
The PCEs an actualist intentionally provokes are the experiential evidence that there in fact exists a third alternative world to the human created-worlds – the instinctually grim reality and the impassioned fantasy of a Greater Reality – and that this alternative is the purity and perfection of the actual world, the world of the senses. PCEs are potent opportunities for a practicing actualist to observe the persistent and perverse nature of the human condition because one is briefly free of its grip as well as being delicious occasions for delighting in the sensual cornucopia of this lush and verdant planet all we fellow human beings live on. Such PCEs serve as touchstones for an actualist, for when the PCE fades and ‘my’ ‘self’-centred reality returns, ‘I’ then know the precise nature and the scope of the business to be done in order to become actually free from the human condition of malice and sorrow.
As a footnote to this section, I would like to make comment on the seemingly fashionable ‘wisdom’ of some Eastern spiritual teachings – the wisdom of disregarding the need for commitment, rejecting any methodology and scorning the idea that any work needs to do be done or indeed can be done in order to achieve the goal of a permanent altered state of consciousness aka Enlightenment or Self-realization. From my reading and from my own experience, such teachings are disingenuous at best since all who have achieved the Exalted State have obviously done so by being singularly committed to diligently using a method specifically designed not only to intentionally provoke ASCs but also to lead to the possibility of a permanent ASC.
In my own case I had a substantive ASC towards the end of my spiritual years that was intentionally provoked by the diligent practice of dissociation. On the face of it, it would seem that those who teach that commitment, methodology and hard work are not required for success have a vested self-interest in maintaining their own hard-won position at the top of the spiritual hierarchy. Needless to say, the reason I have mentioned this is that anyone who holds to the Eastern wisdom of disregarding the need for commitment, rejecting any methodology and scorning the idea that any work needs to do be done will find that actualism is not for them.
4. Intentionally allowed onsets of a PCE –
As an actualist moves to the stage where he or she becomes virtually free of malice and sorrow the circumstances that allow a PCE to be intentionally provoked are more and more diminished. This is so because it is the early revelations, realizations and fundamental changes bought about by the actualism method – those that are the most tumultuous and dramatic – that are the most likely to provoke the onset of PCEs. When one becomes virtually free of malice and sorrow then the invidious feelings are reduced to such an extent that one is effortlessly and unconditionally happy and harmless for 99% of the time – a change which results in a perceptible change of direction over time.
One now no longer aspires to become free of the invidious aspects of a ‘constant ‘feeling reality’’ because the intensive work of becoming aware of, exploring and investigating the malevolent and sorrowful feelings is by and large done. Rather than being interested in, and being busy with, the business of breaking free from the grip of grim reality, a virtually free actualist is able to more and more delight in being here in this place in space in this moment of time, no matter what he or she is doing or not doing – in short he or she then becomes more interested in, and more capable of, intentionally allowing the onset of a PCE.
It is appropriate to again wave a warning flag at this point. Although spontaneous unintentional PCEs can happen in the early period of applying the actualism method, given the appropriate set of circumstances, most often the onset of PCEs in this stage are intentionally provoked by the actualism method itself. It therefore follows that to expect to intentionally allow the onset of a PCE whilst still in the grip of malice and sorrow, or whilst remaining the unwitting victim of one’s own mood swings, is to guarantee disappointment and failure.
Well that’s about it from me. The answer to your question was a long one, but the question needed a detailed response in order to cover the various ways that a PCE can occur. If you have followed the gist of my response, then number three will be where your interest will lie and number four will be something to look forward to when the initial work of becoming virtually happy and harmless is done.
Peter’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.