Peter’s Correspondence on the Actual Freedom List
with Correspondent No 60
RESPONDENT: Lately I’ve done a lot of shooting from the lip, so to speak. It’s become clear that I need to stop ranting and firing questions left right and centre, and give all this a chance to sink in ... or fade away as the case may be. Thanks for giving me plenty to work on. I appreciate your time, patience and persistence.
I’m gonna give actualism a practical test drive for six months at least before I rejoin the discussions.
PETER: I was just working my way through a response to your last two posts when you wrote the following –
This is good news, I am very glad to hear that you are sticking around as I appreciate the sincerity of your contributions to this mailing list.
I am wondering if you would find it useful for me to respond to your latest posts given that much of it seems to have degenerated into a t’is, t’isn’t discussion? I am only happy to continue our discussion if you see it as being of use, but I will leave the call to you.
RESPONDENT: Thanks. I agree with your assessment and I reckon a fresh start would be more more productive. If I can just keep my nose out of these infinity debates (fat chance!) I’d like to go back to practicalities: daily life, feelings, relationships, psychological and emotional roadblocks – and having some fun with it all. I really enjoyed the first month of Actualism but I got carried away with a few grandiose ideas and distractions along the way.
PETER: Given that you are now not doing what you said you would do, I have completed my responses to one of your posts to me and will post it to the list.
RESPONDENT: I don’t know where to begin here because you are seriously misinterpreting my concerns, intentions and prejudices, etc. I’d like to spell this out clearly to prevent further misunderstanding. I do not believe in a creator. I do not experience anything that leads me to believe in a creator. I do not subscribe to any (eastern or western) religious or mythological world view. I regard the universe as real, actual, physical. Matter, arranged in very complex ways, as in physical organisms, can give rise to consciousness. Consciousness is an epiphenomenon of matter. I do not argue that the time, space and matter had a beginning, or will have an end. I have no emotional attachment (whatsoever) to any particular cosmogony and/or cosmological theory. Human beings are mortal. There is no metaphysical component of a human being that is separate from the body. When the body dies, all of its psychic epiphenomena are gone. Human beings make conceptual models to describe, explain and predict actual phenomena. These models are correct and useful to the extent that they comply with observation. Science, to me, is no more or less than this practice, formalised and open to peer review. There is nothing ‘mystical’ in this so far, right?
PETER: And all I am reporting is that when I came across Richard, it was obvious to me that there was a glaring disparity between not only the way I understood life, the universe and what it is to be a human being but how I experienced life, the universe and what it is to be a human being.
From what you are telling me your understanding was not as clouded as mine was back then but I can only report that I was flabbergasted at the extent of the misinformation aka beliefs I had blithely taken on board during my life time and how almost all of these beliefs had their roots in ancient superstitions, be they spiritual or secular.
If you have managed to become free of these beliefs, as you indicate, then I am bemused that you would want to remain ‘open’ to metaphysical theories that fantasize that ‘something’ somehow created the universe out of nothing on the one hand, whilst you simultaneously declare ‘I do not argue that the time, space and matter had a beginning, or will have an end’. If I take your statement at face value I can only assume that you are indulging in some type of intellectual gamesmanship as in arguing for the sake of arguing … but then again this is also at odds with a comment you have since made declaring that you wanted –
RESPONDENT: In what way is, say, Einstein’s physics inconsistent with actual observation of the actual universe’s behaviour?
PETER: Einstein’s physics has no relevance at all to the actual objective observation of either the matter that is this actual universe or to the qualities of that matter and this glaring anomaly is explained away by Einsteinian physicists with the glib dismissal that Einstein’s physics do not apply to locally-observable phenomena’ …
RESPONDENT: So what’s the problem? The theory states that it does not apply to locally-observable phenomena, and you take this statement of the limits of its relevance to be a refutation?
PETER: Perhaps if I put it this way, the disclaimer to cosmological theories that they do not apply to locally-observable phenomena struck me as an indicator of how far-out-there their thinking is.
I don’t have a ‘problem’ at all, as you put it, I simply offered the observation because for me this was yet another reason to dismiss Einsteinian physics as being irrelevant to me as I live in a world were the empirical science of Newtonian physics explains and makes sense of the objective observation of the matter and explains and makes sense of the qualities of that matter that is this physical universe. To create a whole set of theories based on subjective mind-game scenarios, abstract thinking and conceptual mathematical theorems, all of which are based on an a priori principle that the universe was created out of nothing seemed to me at the time to be the antithesis of what I understood science to be. Nowadays it is simply an absurdity, and a widely accepted absurdity to boot.
PETER: ... or to any conditions that we can experience on earth let alone those that we can sensibly relate to our everyday lives.
PETER: Then perhaps you will begin to understand why it is impossible to have a sensible discussion about a theory that is so abstracted that it has nothing at all to do with any conditions, events or circumstances that we can experience on earth let alone that we can sensibly relate to in our everyday lives. As Paul Davies revealed, Einsteinian physics relates to ‘toy universes’, not the physical universe of galaxies, stars, planets, moons, rocks, mountains, rivers, oceans, trees, animals and human animals.
RESPONDENT: But how does that imply a flaw in the theory, as the theory itself says that this is the case?
PETER: Which only begs the question as to why such metaphysical theories are popularly taken as being valid theories about the actual universe?
PETER: Local phenomena and objective observation are not the realm of Einstein’s physics – a sure sign that His physics have nothing to do with actuality.
RESPONDENT: So ‘actuality’ is limited to ‘local phenomena’ now?
PETER: Perhaps I can put it this way – actuality is not what one imagines it to be, nor is it what one passionately feels it to be. This type of thinking and feeling about matter and its associated phenomena is the realm of metaphysics.
PETER: Einstein apparently has such a Guru status within the scientific community that few dare to question his theories for to do so would be to dare to challenge the accepted current status quo of science itself.
RESPONDENT: I personally don’t care a fig whether he is right or wrong, but I do expect criticisms to be based on something better than his apparent ‘guru’ status.
PETER: For someone who claims ‘I personally don’t care a fig whether he is right or wrong’ as in ‘I do not argue that the time, space and matter had a beginning, or will have an end’ and ‘I have no emotional attachment (whatsoever) to any particular cosmogony and/or cosmological theory’ you not only go about the subject, but you can’t help yourself from doing so –
Given that you have told me what you don’t expect my criticism to be based on, perhaps you could tell me precisely what you expect criticism of Einsteinian physics to be based on. In other words, what principles do you expect me to abide by?
Should I have to accept the majority view? Should I have to remain ‘open-minded’ to the theory? Should I ‘accept’ Einstein’s thought experiments as being the ultimate authority on the nature of the universe? Or should I not even try to make sense of something that is ‘outside of my area of expertise’ … because I have had no formal schooling (as in indoctrination) into Einsteinian physics?
I don’t know whether you have noticed but by the far the majority of what passes for discussion about what should be matters of mutual interests are in fact discussions about the rules of discussion and the mode of discussion, and the discussions themselves are mostly about opinions, viewpoints, principles, doctrine, philosophy, ideology, values, morals or ethics. As such, sensible down-to-earth discussions so as to discern the facts of the matter are very rarely found within the human condition.
RESPONDENT: Better still, so as not to get too far off track, how is it (Einstein’s physics) inconsistent with what one experiences in a PCE?
PETER: In a PCE, there is no psychological or psychic faculty present to be interested in, let alone capable of, indulging in imaginative scenarios or fanciful thinking about the nature and properties of matter and energy.
RESPONDENT: Which says nothing at all about whether the imaginative model is useful in describing, explaining and predicting the behaviour of all observable phenomena (not just locally-observable, either).
PETER: I was replying to the question you asked me –
not the new question you had yet to ask me.
I can’t provide an answer to a question you didn’t ask me. Have you noticed that I replied to both of your questions about Einsteinian physics and that you are now moving off-track again by rephrasing the question, replacing the words ‘Einsteinian physics’ with the words ‘imaginative models’?
To make it clearer to you, I will rephrase my response –
As for your new question, in a PCE, whilst one is able to speculate about down-to-earth matters as in – conjecture about, theorize about, hypothesize about, guess about, take a guess about, surmise about, muse on, reflect on, deliberate about, cogitate about, consider, think about – it is impossible to indulge in imaginative scenarios or fanciful thinking because there is no psychic or affective faculty operating that is able to do so.
Not only does the PCE reveal that imagination is a passionate ‘self’-centred activity, mostly based on communally-accepted beliefs and fears but an on-going astute observation of one’s own imagination in action also reveals this to be the case.
PETER: What does become startlingly apparent about the nature and properties of matter is that the matter that is the universe is not merely passive – the very matter that is this universe is in a constant state of change and transformation, often imperceptibly slowly, sometimes dramatically evident.
RESPONDENT: Sure, but none of this is inconsistent with relativity, or the ‘Big Bang’.
PETER: I was referring to the ‘self’-less experiencing that one has in a PCE – an experience which is objective – and as such has nothing at all to do with the subjective thought-experiments that spawned and feeds so-called relativity theory. The pure consciousness experience of the matter that is this universe is also completely at odds with the ‘Big Bang’ theory – a theory that would have us believe that the matter that is this universe is not constant, as in being in a constant state of change and transformation, but that it ephemeral – i.e. was born (apparently out of nothingness) due to a miraculous thus-far-inexplicable event and will therefore eventually die (apparently into the very same nothingness again), again due to a miraculous thus-far-inexplicable event.
PETER: In a PCE, the direct sensual experience of this non-passivity is experienced as a vibrancy that is magical in its immediacy and one is free to gaze around in wonder at the fact that all this is happening in this very moment.
RESPONDENT: Indeed. That’s one of the things I find most interesting about Actualism. I thought the cosmological stuff was secondary, but I was apparently wrong.
PETER: You are not the first to have become grounded on the rock of creationist theories, by whatever name and in whatever form, and you will certainly not be the last. This is what I wrote to another correspondent ten months ago –
PETER: This direct experience of the inherent properties of the matter that is this universe is only possible because ‘I’ have vanished from the scene along with ‘my’ atavistic mystical / spiritual / religious beliefs, fears and fantasies.
RESPONDENT: Ok. In my case it is not ‘atavistic mystical / spiritual / religious beliefs’ that obscure the perfection and purity of the actual world. I don’t have any such beliefs or fantasies to get in the way. What does get in the way is the ‘me’ who participates in the ‘human drama’, the identity driven by instinctual passions and conscience, and all of their associated mental constructs.
PETER: I see that you have since had a second thought about this –
If you aspire to become free of the human condition in toto it is vital to take on board that just as ‘I’ am my feelings and ‘my’ feelings are ‘me’, ‘I’ am also my beliefs and my beliefs are also ‘me’.
By doing so you will be able to – provided you have the intent to do so – progressively work your way free from the beliefs, values, morals, ethics and witticisms that constitute one’s human conditioning to the point where you can become virtually free of malice and sorrow, the necessary stepping stone to becoming free of the human condition itself.
RESPONDENT: You have evidently spoken to a lot of people with spiritual beliefs, and people who practice spiritual disciplines over the years. I think this makes you tend to see it, or suspect it, where it is not actually present. The only ‘mystical’ aspect of my world view or direct experience of life occurs during ASCs, but I do not take those ASCs authoritative insights into how things actually are. (I try to keep an open mind, keep what is valuable, useful, consistent with known facts, if anything, and reject the rest).
PETER: I have yet to meet or speak to any people who are not affected by spiritual beliefs, either they are believers or they are agnostics, i.e. they remain ‘open’ to the possibility that all beliefs being truths – in other words, either way they are affected by belief because they have not supplanted beliefs with facts. Spiritual belief is part and parcel of ‘the human drama’ as you put it. I have had many people tell me they are not spiritual only to have them tell me a while later about an acupuncture session they have had, or asking me what my star sign is, or telling me that they have just bought a Buddha statue for their garden, or that Evil Mankind is wounding Mother Earth or that living a Puritan lifestyle or eating Puritan foods not only can cure disease but can ensure you won’t get sick in the first place … and so on
PETER: In other words, in a PCE the facts of matter are easily distinguished from the human beliefs about matter because there is no ‘me’ as an identity present to produce, maintain and cherish any mystical beliefs whatsoever.
RESPONDENT: Yes, I agree with that. If, for instance, I believed in Jesus Christ as the saviour of humankind, and if a PCE revealed that this is a passionate mental construct (as it well might), I could see that what you are saying would have some relevance to me. The problem is that I do not see any particular cosmogony or cosmological theory as something to cherish or cling to. In these discussions I am only seeking clarification of how you (pl) can know what you claim to know, and part of that involves demonstrating how Einstein et al are mistaken. You have not done this.
PETER: I am wondering why you insist that I (and I take it that ‘pl’ means Richard and Vineeto as well) should prove to you whether or not something is a fact or is merely a belief masquerading as fact? If somehow we did manage to convince you that ‘we were right and you were wrong’ all you would be doing would be to stop believing what others tell you is right and start believing what we say is right – and that would plainly be silly.
This is why I said at the start of my last post to you –
PETER: [In a PCE] Due to ‘my’ absence this flesh and blood material body is no longer separated from the material universe.
RESPONDENT: Yes, understood and agreed. But again, this would seem to have relevance only if I believed in some kind of supernatural creator or soul or spirit, would it not? I do not.
PETER: I wonder why you exclude a ‘supernatural event’ when you say ‘only if I believed in some kind of supernatural creator or soul or spirit’ – if the supposed near-instantaneous event that allegedly caused all of the matter of the universe to be created out of nothing is not a supernatural event then I don’t know what is.
RESPONDENT: I see a material universe, populated by mortal organisms, whose minds are epiphenomena of matter.
PETER: At the risk of being labelled pedantic, thus far only one planet in the universe is known to have animate (mortal) matter and of all that copious animate matter thus far only one species is ‘self’-conscious to the extent that they can create an impassioned imaginative ‘world’ of their own, so much so that these very passions and associated beliefs forever lock them out from the innocent enjoyment of being what they are.
This was the paradox that concerned me when I serendipitously came across Richard and I found his report fascinating because not only did he explain the nature of this paradox in down-to-earth terms – how it came to be this way, why it persists to this day, why it is so hard to become free of, and why it has never been broken free of until now – but he also was able to clearly articulate how he himself became free of it … and that was the bit that really interested me.
RESPONDENT: I can’t help but wonder what I have done to deserve the charge of ‘mystic’, other than describe a few ASCs.
PETER: And yet I am not charging you with anything, I am simply passing on my experience of some 6 years of hands-on investigation into the human condition. If what I say is not relevant to you and the subject matter is not of interest to you, why bother wondering?
PETER: And yet it was the PCE, an experience that is common-to-all and not personal, which revealed that peace on earth already exists in the actual world. And it was the PCE that which revealed that despite this already existing peace on earth all human beings are either passionately involved in a ‘self’-centred grim instinctual struggle for survival and/or desperately believe in the existence of a fairy-tale or science-fiction mystical other-worldly realm.
RESPONDENT: So you saw that there was an immense and immaculate actual universe beyond the human drama, and that most people most of the time are so caught up in the illusions and delusions of the human drama that they are effectively (affectively) blind to it. Everything they try to do leads them further away from actuality. So far so good. I’ve been there myself, and I’m as satisfied as I need to be that we are correct.
PETER: If I can just interject here – before you start agreeing that ‘we are correct’, I find it somewhat curious that you are having concurrent conversations with others on this mailing list where you are now dismissing the PCE as being inferior to an altered state of consciousness. Vis:
PETER: As such, in your statement of agreement it appears that you are describing an altered state of consciousness experience whereby ‘you’ as an observer remain a ‘watcher’ to this human drama whilst simultaneously interpreting the ‘immense and immaculate actual universe beyond the human drama’ as being of a ‘psychedelic’ nature.
RESPONDENT: Well, you’ve misunderstood on a minor point here. The ‘immense and immaculate actual universe beyond the human drama’ was not of a ‘psychedelic nature’ – it was identical to how I experience it in a PCE. What was of a ‘psychedelic nature’ was the psychic medium of mind, in which images and thoughts arose.
PETER: Okay. Taking into account my misunderstanding on a minor point I’ll rephrase the above –
and the reason I say this is because you said of one such experience –
PETER: Contrary to your claim, this is not how one experiences the actual world in a pure consciousness experience.
RESPONDENT: However, I guess you are right about the observer remaining a ‘watcher’. There was no ‘I’, but (as discussed with Vineeto in some depth), there is still a ‘me’ of some sort. Whilst I don’t think my experience precisely matches ‘spiritual enlightenment’ (based on what I’ve read about it), I accept that it more closely resembles eastern mysticism than Actual Freedom.
PETER: As a suggestion, perhaps you might write this statement out on a note and stick it on your computer as a reminder to stop you repeatedly heading down the path of confusing an ASC with a PCE.
I used to have a little notebook whereby I would write down my contemplations, understandings and realizations about the human condition and found it particularly useful to do look back on every now and again. I found it was a good way to check up on whether I was going forward or merely going round in circles, whether I was living my realizations, in that I had acted on them or whether I was merely vacillating and procrastinating, whether I could stand by what I said to others or whether I was merely sprouting off about things.
RESPONDENT: This is a process of discovery for me. The whole thing was based on an interesting experience that raised the possibility that the ‘self’ may be an epiphenomena of the imaginative faculty, rather than vice-versa. When I read Thomas Metzinger’s conceptual model of what the self is and how it is formed, it seemed to fit the experience – ie. certain implicit, invisible neural mechanisms which lead to the illusion of the ‘self’ become explicit and visible. On further reflection / experience, it may not be a goer.
PETER: In the light of what you have said above, perhaps now you might also consider that Thomas Metzinger’s conceptual model of the self more closely resembles Eastern mysticism than Actual Freedom – something which as you might recall you were having some difficulty in understanding at some point.
Personally I always like it when I gain my own understanding about things that previously were unknown or unclear to me.
RESPONDENT: Now, how did the PCE reveal anything about the origin, composition, extent, or duration of the actual universe?
PETER: As I said above, in a PCE it is clearly experienced that there is nothing at all mystical, nor spiritual about this actual world we live in and this direct sensual experience of actuality is all the more magical because it is devoid of the fears and fantasies of mysticism.
RESPONDENT: Sure, but that doesn’t answer the question as I intended it. I’ve been thinking a lot about Richard’s answers to my questions re cosmogony & cosmology, trying to make sense of it all. I wanted to know how the extent and duration of the actual universe can be directly experienced. The closest I can come to figuring out is simply that the mental constructs that sustain concepts of finiteness and temporality just drop away, revealing themselves to be figments of the imagination. Is that in line with what you’re saying?
PETER: I don’t know whether or not you have read my journal, but if you have you will notice that nowhere do I mention that what I wrote about was all spontaneously revealed to me in a PCE and nor do I say ‘this is what Richard has revealed to me’.
What I wrote about, and quite passionately wrote about, was the nitty-gritty process of how I became virtually free of the human condition (including the belief, be it religious, spiritual, mystical, cosmological or whatever else, that the universe had a beginning). In other words, what I wrote about was how a normal bloke with a full set of beliefs, feelings and passions came to understand, both intellectually and experientially, how the human condition operates such that I could get to the stage of being virtually free of the human condition. And as near as I can remember it, this is how ‘I’, as a normal person, applied my thinking to the matter at hand.
Regardless of what I remembered having experienced in a PCE, as normal bloke (being ‘me’) I found myself confronted by two diametrically opposite propositions – whether the universe is infinite and eternal or whether it is an ephemeral and transient construction.
Faced with this either/or choice, what I found I had to do was apply some practical common sense thinking in order to think it through so as to come to a conclusion one way or another. This meant making an evaluation of each of the alternatives based on my own common sense and my own life experiences as well as taking note of the experience of others. The next thing I needed to take into account were the consequences that would result in deciding one way or the other.
As you know, my experience of the failures of the spiritual beliefs that proposed that the physical universe is ephemeral in nature was that both the Western version and the Eastern version are but fairy tales. When I looked into cosmology I came to understand it is, as it says it is, the branch of science devoted to studying the ‘evolution’ of the universe. As birth and death is essential to the evolutionary process it became clear to me that cosmology is the branch of science devoted to the study of the birth and death of the universe. When I took this on board and did a bit of reading about the fields of research of cosmology it became aware that cosmology was a metaphysical science and not an empirical science.
As I dug into the history of cosmology a bit, I came to understand that cosmology has its roots in ancient spiritual beliefs and that it was a branch of science dedicated to finding proofs that would in turn substantiate one crucial aspect of spiritual belief – the belief that matter is ephemeral. Cosmological theories, as distinct from the rigorously-empirical and applied sciences, that propose that matter is ephemeral serve to ‘leave the door open’ to the core of spiritual belief – that matter is ephemeral and only consciousness is substantial and enduring – or in religious belief, that the universe is in fact an ephemeral creation.
When I came to understand this, the consequences of continuing to believe that the universe is ephemeral meant that I would continue to believe ‘I’ was, in truth, a substantial and enduring ‘being’ – that the spiritualists are right and this meant, for me, meant either staying on the spiritual path or, if I remained open to them being right, to stop searching and settle for being agnostic.
On the other hand, for me to consider that the universe was indeed infinite and eternal, i.e. it had no beginning to it, meant that the matter that is this universe is substantive and lasting and that consciousness arose out of this matter. Thinking this through meant that the consciousness of this material body only exists as long as this body is alive – physical death is the end of ‘me’ as consciousness – there is no after-life for ‘me’, as consciousness, after this material body dies. Death is the end – kaput, finito, no more, oblivion, finish. An infinite and eternal universe clearly has drastic consequences for ‘me’..
Firstly it meant that if I considered that the universe was indeed infinite and eternal I would be at odds with everyone else who believed in creationist theories, spiritual realms, supernatural forces or cosmological theories – including those agnostics who remained open to any such beliefs. But even more drastic than that, in an infinite and eternal material universe ‘I’, as the consciousness of this corporeal mortal body, have only one life to live and this made me realize this is the only moment, the only place and the only circumstances that I can actually experience being alive. This sudden in-my-face realization meant that I could no longer procrastinate, no longer equivocate, no longer postpone, no longer avoid the fact that I was not yet fully alive.
So I summarized my choice as either ‘more of the same’ – the spiritual path which I had already discovered to be shonky and more of not feeling fully alive – or embark on course of action that meant radical change. ‘More of the same’ was not an option for me so I took the option of radical and irrevocable change, which as you know, meant focussing my total attentiveness on being here in the world of the senses with the sole aim of becoming both happy and harmless. And what followed as a consequence of this decision was a progressive waning of all spiritual, mystical, metaphysical and supernatural beliefs, which in turn opened the door to many PCEs whereby I had direct experiences of the infinitude of the universe.
I wanted to lay out my thinking about this issue as thus far most discussions on this list regarding this matter seem to concentrate on the details of the either/or case rather than consider the broader issues and over-arching consequences. If I can summarize, it is a way of thinking that allowed me to get to the intellectual and existential core of the issue as quickly as possible, rather than get bogged down in details and sidetracks.
As I said in a previous post, it’s not for nothing that the first topic I wrote about in my journal was death.
PETER: I have snipped some of this post for brevity. Let me know if, by doing so, I have bypassed something that you would like me respond to.
RESPONDENT: An infinitesimal fraction of existing facts, existing actualities, are directly knowable by us.
PETER: This is what the mystics would have us believe. Human beings have thus far done an amazing job in exploring the inanimate and animate matter that is this planet and by developing instruments they have been able to do so in microscopic and macroscopic detail. The development of the telescope in its various forms has extended this exploration to an area of some 12 billion light years’ diameter around this planet and the development of rocketry has seen human beings journey to the moon some 40 years ago. All of this that was unknown and hence inexplicable and mysterious to earlier human beings is now known to be fact.
Whilst there can be no doubt that there is more to be discovered and that more will be discovered, sufficient has already been discovered to put paid to the superstitions and myths that gave credence to mystical and spiritual beliefs … but apparently not for those human beings who desperately cling on to these beliefs, come what may.
RESPONDENT: Do you see how you keep doing this? Whenever there is a statement that can be interpreted in a secular, down to earth, common sense light, or a mystical, eastern spiritual supernatural metaphysical light, you invariably attribute the latter meaning to me? Why do you keep doing this?
PETER: Okay. I stand corrected. The reason I assumed the meaning I did is because you have demonstrated that you are keeping an open mind about subjective metaphysical theories and in my experience those who champion these theories also come out with statements similar to the one you made. They do so in order to indicate that humans are not all-knowing thereby implying that there may well be mysterious metaphysical forces or energies that permeate physical matter or that have served to generate or create the physical matter of the universe.
RESPONDENT: I meant this in the most down-to-earth way possible. In an infinite (or at bare minimum) stupendously vast universe, we are only ever going to encounter a small slice of it directly. Even with the most advanced scientific instruments the piece of the universe we’re going to investigate is a drop in the ocean. I’m not referring to a metaphysical ‘other world’ that lies beyond the reach of our senses or scientific instruments, I’m talking about this actual physical universe. Reckon you might now stop clinging desperately to the belief that I am one of them? ;-)
PETER: Given that you said in this post –
and in a recent post to the mailing list you said –
it appears that it would be foolish of me to make any other assumptions about what your mind is currently open to. I am simply, as best I can, responding to what you are saying, the questions you ask and to the responses you make to my answers.
RESPONDENT: The portion that is knowable to us is seen ‘through a glass darkly’ as it were, distorted by sensory limitations, conceptual models, and sheer [lack of] cognitive power.
PETER: Again this is what the mystics would have us believe. Their presumption is that there is ‘something’ mysterious in the universe that is by its very supernatural nature beyond detection by human perception or instrumentation and beyond our limited understanding. As Paul Davies says in the quoted passage below
What the PCE reveals is that there is another world other than the affective human world of grim reality but this world is not a mystical creation, it is a magical fairytale like actuality, this actual world is not a metaphysical world, it is nothing other than a physical world, this actual world is not ephemeral, it is perpetually ever-changing … and that this actual world can only be sensately experienced when one’s affective and imaginary faculties cease ruling the roost.
RESPONDENT: Here we go again. The limitedness of human senses and intellect does not imply that ... there is ‘something’ mysterious in the universe that is by its very supernatural nature beyond detection by human perception or instrumentation and beyond our limited understanding. What’s with this ‘mysterious, supernatural’ stuff all the time? Why can’t you interpret anything I say in a down-to-earth manner? Do me a favour in future please: assume that I might just be able to understand that the actual universe is not supernatural.
PETER: Okay, then why did you make a statement that says in essence that ‘I’ as an entity see the universe as ‘distorted by sensory limitations’ and ‘conceptual models’ whilst also including a ‘lack of cognitive power’? By including the later you imply, if not state clearly, that it impossible for human beings to cognitively make sense of the ‘the portion that is knowable to us’.
Do you perhaps see that this is what the mystics would have us believe – that there is ‘something’, or ‘somewhere’ in this case, that empirical science (those branches of study that apply objective scientific method to the phenomena of the physical universe) cannot understand and can never understand and therefore will forever remain ‘unknowable’?
On the other hand, I am only too happy to stand corrected if you have got your wording wrong and this is not what you meant to say.
PETER: As Paul Davies says in the quoted passage below –
RESPONDENT: That’s right Peter. And for that reason they discovered some mathematical relationships in the interactions between the kickable objects in this physical universe. These mathematical relationships are ‘supernatural’ I suppose?
PETER: Again I’ll leave Mr. Davies speak for himself (from the quotes I have previously posted) –
To me this sounds a far cry from [quote] ‘they discovered some mathematical relationships in the interactions between the kickable objects in this physical universe’. [endquote].
RESPONDENT: The temporary abeyance of the instinctual passions that produce ‘self’-hood (and all of its illusions and delusions) enables a stunningly clear perception of our little slice of actuality, including the mind that perceives it, but it does not remove our limitations entirely. It does not magically make the entire universe knowable. That in itself smells of mysticism.
PETER: I think you are bending over backwards in trying to make a PCE something that it is not – one does not become omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient when one has a pure consciousness experience nor when one is actually free of the human condition.
RESPONDENT: I know that. That is why I am trying to gain more insight into why you say that the PCE reveals Einstein’s physics to be inconsistent with observation, or how the PCE reveals what did or didn’t happen billions of years ago.
PETER: Rather than waste my time and yours by going round and round in endless circles – with Einstein this time instead of the Big Bang – I suggest it would be more beneficial to try to gain an insight as to why you are persistently demanding that a pure consciousness experience should ‘reveal’ that the latest metaphysical theories are nothing other than yet another in a long, long, long line of such theories, whilst insisting on remaining open to, or proclaiming that you are not bothered about, these very same metaphysical theories.
This is the equivalent to saying that because a PCE didn’t reveal to me there aren’t in fact fairies frolicking around at the bottom of my garden when I am asleep … I have to remain open to believing the fairy-iologists who claim that they have mathematically proved that fairies exist and have even found some impressions in the ground at the bottom of the garden that could well be fairy-footprints which prove that they do in fact exist.
RESPONDENT: My position is that it is only common sense to ascertain whether something needs to be sacrificed in order to bring about the desired result – happiness, harmlessness, peace on earth. You can remove a gangrenous toe by amputating a leg, but it’s not the only way. My own experiences (so far) suggest a possible refinement, and I’d be a complete fool to reject that possibility for no reason.
PETER: In hindsight it was only because I had experientially explored the ‘other ways’ and found that they all lead to some form or other of ‘self’-gratification or ‘self’-glorification that I was naive enough to try something new. Although you have said in the past –
– I do somewhat understand that you now might want to explore the other choices for yourself in order to find out if they do make you both happy and harmless and if they do indeed lead to the actualisation of the already existing peace on earth.
If such experiences are what you want, then that is what you want, but to proclaim these long-practiced ways of evoking an altered state of consciousness as being a ‘refinement’ of actualism is akin to saying that 2nd century Galenic anatomy is a refinement of the discoveries Vesalius made in the 16th century.
RESPONDENT: I do welcome such experiences, but only because I am inquisitive, as Richard was, as you were, as Vineeto was. I don’t want to reinvent spiritual enlightenment though.
PETER: I had one such full-on ASC experience before I came across Richard and this one was enough to convince me that no matter how lovely a world ‘I’ create for myself, it is still a lonely business living in a world of ‘my’ own creation.
I initially based my prima facie case for actualism on the sensibility of what was on offer and the successes of road-testing the method and my memory of a PCE served only as confirmation. This was also the case for Vineeto and it was only Richard’s sensibility that eventually freed him from his Enlightened state.
If precedent is a guide, then you may well be going about things the wrong way. This is not to say that you can’t become actually free of the human condition by chasing experiences and ‘seeing what happens’ but the track record of trying it that way is not good – feeling oneself to be the saviour of mankind is the natural result.
RESPONDENT: Richard may be spot on (and I think it’s more likely that he is right than I am). I just don’t know that yet, so I have to base my stuff on experience, not faith.
PETER: When I say that I can somewhat understand what you are doing, what I mean is that I understand that you have opted for the status quo, but I don’t understand why you would want to.
RESPONDENT: Sorry. Don’t understand. What aspect of the status quo have I opted for?
PETER: This is what I said previously –
‘The other choices’ I mentioned are the traditional pursuit of an altered state of consciousness of some type or other – the ‘status quo’ approach to avoid having to be here is to go ‘somewhere’ else but here, and anywhere else will do.
Actualism is about coming down-to-earth, utterly and irrevocably.
PETER: I remember a particular axiom that stuck in my head in the early days of actualism and one, which served to bump me out of my comfort zone at the time – ‘a lunatic is someone who continues to do something again and again despite the fact that it doesn’t work’.
RESPONDENT: Lots of lunatics around, eh?
PETER: Only one that I worried about and that was ‘me’.
Listen Peter: I am not sticking with anything. I am investigating this matter for myself, listening carefully to what others have to say, experimenting, exploring. I ask questions, propose ideas, report my personal observations and discoveries rather naively as I make them. I’m often wrong. So be it.
PETER: Maybe it’s a matter of style but I did my investigations and my thinking largely by myself – after all it was ‘my’ psyche I was investigating, not others. Occasionally I would ask a question of Richard so as to tap into his expertise and often I would nut some issue out with Vineeto as feedback is sometimes useful from someone else who is a practicing actualist.
PETER: You wrote commenting on my post to No 37 –
RESPONDENT No 37: What I see now is that you have not only applied the word ‘spiritual’ to religious belief, but also to ‘being’ itself. In other words, to ‘be’ is to be ‘spiritual.’ Personally, I think that usage is ripe for misunderstanding.
PETER to No 37: With regard to my use of the word spiritual, the preceding entry in the glossary may throw some light on the subject, particularly as I did write the glossary sequentially.
RESPONDENT: No, this doesn’t clarify anything, it just muddies the waters again. It’s another example of the lack of discrimination between: (1) Having spiritual beliefs (eg. belief in a God; belief in an immortal soul; belief in a spirit that is separate from matter, etc); and (2) Having the feeling of ‘being’ or ‘Being’.
PETER: Personally I discovered that there was a very close association between spiritualism (as in having spiritual beliefs) and having a feeling of ‘being’ or (as in ‘me’, a non-material entity or spirit, so much so that I very often wrote the word spiritual as spirit-ual in my journal and other early writings so as to emphasize the association of the words spiritual and spirit.
RESPONDENT: In the discussion between Richard and No 37 it emerged that U.G. Krishnamurti is alleged to be ‘spiritual’ because of (2), not (1).
PETER: Yep. In one quote U.G. Krishnamurti clearly makes reference to his ‘state of being’ and in another he defines this state of being as ‘the state of samadhi, sahaja (natural) samadhi’. In other words, he doesn’t hold spiritual beliefs, his has permanently realized a spiritual state of being.
RESPONDENT: Now once again the distinction is blurred to the point of non-existence.
PETER: In the (1) and (2) example you provided, it is an either or situation – one is either spiritual because of the beliefs one holds or one is spiritual because of one’s state of being. Either way, the person is spiritual.
PETER to No 37:
RESPONDENT: Perhaps they ‘manage to deny’ it because they actually DON’T believe in such things?
PETER: In my case I don’t have any spiritual beliefs left due to my own intent to expose my spiritual beliefs but I do acknowledge that ‘I’ am a spirit-like being and will remain so until ‘self’-immolation occurs. Unless I am having a PCE, ‘I’ experience myself as being inside this body, looking out at the outside world through the body’s eyes, hearing through the ears, smelling smells through the nose and so on. There is no question of my not believing ‘I’ am a spirit being – sincere observation reveals that ‘I’ am a non-material entity.
RESPONDENT: It seems to me that No 37 went to a fair bit of trouble to tease out the two very different ways in which a human being can earn the ‘spiritualist’ label. He suggested that using the same word to describe such different things is begging for misunderstanding, and I agreed with this based on my own experience in discussing these matters with actualists. Unfortunately, you seem to be oblivious to the problems this creates for your readers, and it seems that no amount of discussion will penetrate your head on this issue.
PETER: I freely admit that I don’t see this as a problem at all. The best way to get to the bottom of any misunderstanding is to discuss the matter, which is what we are doing. It was only by discussing our misunderstandings that Vineeto and I came to get to the bottom of the issues that stood in the way of us living together in peace and harmony –
PETER to No 37:
RESPONDENT: Sure, and many of us grew out of these fairytales in adolescence, which is why we do not regard ourselves as ‘spiritual’.
PETER: And, of course, a good many people were then suckered into the Eastern spiritual fairy tales since it became a fashionable thing to do in the 60’s – myself included.
RESPONDENT: In the short time that I’ve been posting here, there have been at least half a dozen people who have no apparent ‘spiritual’ beliefs: me, No 58, No 59, No 38, to name a few.
PETER: As you know I was a full on-spiritualist for many years but when I started to disentangle myself from these beliefs I was surprised at the extent and the subtlety of the spiritual beliefs I had taken on in my life. And yet none of these beliefs were apparent to me as being beliefs before I started to investigate them – if that is what you mean by ‘no apparent spiritual beliefs’.
No 33 described it well when he said –
RESPONDENT: To call any of us ‘spiritual’ (derived from the definition of ‘spirit’ above) is plain ridiculous, and it’s just asking for unnecessary trouble.
PETER: I have already explained that I had no trouble at all associating ‘me’ as a spirit being with my spiritual beliefs – indeed it is because ‘I’ am a spirit being that the imaginary freedom to be had in the imaginary spiritual world was so seductive. Curiously enough, understanding this direct association between the words spirit and spiritual proved to be a seminal event in Vineeto understanding the underlying motivating force of spiritual belief which in turn led her to question her own spiritual beliefs.
I am not saying that this would necessarily be the case for everyone for that would be silly – I am simply reporting that the particular association between the words spirit as in spirit being and spiritualism as in having spiritual beliefs, was of significance for me. If you don’t make the same association, then any trouble that arises from it is obviously unnecessary.
RESPONDENT: On the other hand, if the mere fact of being a ‘feeling being’ is sufficient to warrant the ‘spiritualist’ tag, then spiritualists we all are – regardless of what we do or don’t believe. Is there any possibility of getting some clarity on this issue? What, for instance, is the ‘spiritual’ status of a person who does not believe in any ‘disembodied and separate entity esp. regarded as surviving after death’, or any ‘supernatural, immaterial, rational or intelligent being, as an angel, demon, fairy, etc.’?
PETER: I have already laid my cards on the table as to what I mean by the word spiritual – in short, although I have spent years ridding myself of all of my spiritual beliefs, ‘I’ am still a spirit-being until self-immolation happens. (As distinct from UG Krishnamurti who spent years ridding himself of spiritual beliefs until he attained a state of being known as sahaja (natural) samadhi’).
PETER to No 37: With the benefit of hindsight, much of my early writing could have been better but as the very act of writing was one of the means I found most effective in beginning to think clearly, it is inevitable that it has occasional flaws and that nowadays I could do better.
RESPONDENT: Yeah, well ... some days clarity and precision are regarded as the hallmarks of actualist writings. Other days clarity and precision are portrayed as unnecessary pandering to a bunch of quibblers, quite beneath you, eh?
The problem with re-editing my writing is that I know I would end up re-writing most of it because I would inevitably write it differently now which means that that the writing would no longer be experiential account. Besides, I would much rather spend my time discussing any objections people may raise as the very act of laying one’s cards on the table and openly discussing and thinking about these matters is the means to clarity. To seek clarity by believing the words of others is to court gullibility. .
I also went on to say this in the piece you snipped –
And yet whilst I am still writing on this mailing list correspondents get to question me on the meaning of words and phrases I have used and are thus able to become clearer about the issues. And if they are so inclined they can even utilize the interactions on this mailing list as an opportunity to understand the their own psyche in operation and thereby gain valuable insights into the human condition.
PETER to No 37:
RESPONDENT: Perhaps they ‘manage to deny’ it because they actually DON’T believe in such things?
PETER: In my case I don’t have any spiritual beliefs left due to my own intent to expose my spiritual beliefs but I do acknowledge that ‘I’ am a spirit-like being and will remain so until ‘self’-immolation occurs. Unless I am having a PCE, ‘I’ experience myself as being inside this body, looking out at the outside world through the body’s eyes, hearing through the ears, smelling smells through the nose and so on. There is no question of my not believing ‘I’ am a spirit being –sincere observation reveals that ‘I’ am a non-material entity.
RESPONDENT: Yes, I can understand that you did this, and I can understand why. Given your background when you first became interested in actualism it makes sense. The problem, as I see it, is that the feeling of ‘being’ does not always go hand-in-hand with spiritual beliefs (as in belief in a separate spirit, or an immortal spirit, or a belief in a divinity, etc).
PETER: Perhaps you could provide an example where ‘the feeling of being does not always go hand-in hand with spiritual belief’ as I cannot think of a single example. The reason I ask is that I remember being quite shocked, after having spending years on the spiritual path, at how little I understood about spiritualism and what really lies at the core of all spiritual belief. Nowadays I see that very few people understand spiritualism because belief inevitably blinds one to the facts.
RESPONDENT: You see, I too have the feeling of ‘being’, and yet I don’t believe that any part of me survives physical death. I am a mortal soul, if you like, a metaphysical projection of this body which ceases when the body ceases.
PETER: I can relate to what you are saying because when I was on the spiritual path I followed a Guru who apparently didn’t teach life-after-death but taught the freedom to be had in the ‘other world’. I was shocked when he died as he had pre-arranged to have ‘Never born, never died, just visited this planet’ engraved on his tomb – in short, he was a charlatan and I had been gullible in that I only heard what I wanted to hear and cut out what I didn’t want to hear. I now understand that this predisposition is one of the major reasons why beliefs have such a stranglehold over human beings.
RESPONDENT: Several of my peers would be in the same position. They (naturally) feel themselves to *be* someone, but they do not have overtly spiritual beliefs, and would not recognise themselves as ‘spiritual’ people because their *beliefs* are based on a combination of science and 20th century psychology.
PETER: Many of my peers, including those who were once full-on on the spiritual path, are now seemingly content with combining more-watered down spiritual beliefs with their normal materialistic pursuits, so much so that they would have no interest at all in abandoning their beliefs and becoming actually free of the human condition.
RESPONDENT: These people would be both confused and annoyed, as I was, to defend themselves against the charge of ‘spiritualist’ or ‘mystic’ – because these words already have a different meaning to them.
PETER: When I first became an actualist I went through a brief stage of uninvitedly raising the issue of actualism with a few of my friends but I very quickly became aware that by doing so I was intruding into the lives of others, i.e. I was being anything but harmless, so I stopped. When Alan suggested to Richard that the Actual Freedom Trust establish a mailing list as an adjunct to the website we established this mailing list as an unobtrusive way for us to freely discuss the iconoclastic, radical issues raised by actualism as well as acting as a forum for actualists to swap notes about their discoveries about the human condition and how it operates in practice with those who are interested in actualism.
As this mailing list is the chosen forum for discussing actualism the hypothetical case that your friends would be confused and annoyed is a furphy.
RESPONDENT: I do understand that you are determined to expose spirituality wherever you find it, and I do understand that it lurks in some of the most unexpected places (eg. in law, as you mentioned the other day).
PETER: I am not at all determined to expose spirituality wherever I find it as you put it – I’ve done that business by myself, for myself and am now immeasurably happier for being free of my spiritual beliefs. Whether other people want to do this themselves is their business.
However, when people who have been interested in spiritualism come to this mailing list believing that actualism is yet another spiritual teaching to either blithely follow or senselessly rile against and then, when they come to realize that actualism is utterly non-spiritual, suddenly declare themselves to have no spiritual beliefs whatsoever I simply point out the spiritual beliefs that are evident in their writings to this mailing list. In the face of this simple pointing out of the facts of the matter the most common reactions are cognitive dissonance (an inability to take on board a fact that directly contradicts one’s beliefs), denial (a childhood-learned defensive reaction) or anger (an instinctual knee-jerk reaction). Over the course of time many correspondents have managed to pass through these somewhat inevitable reactions and have got to the stage where their interest in peace on earth means that they are able to lay their cards on the table, as it were, without the need to blame or the need to feel shame.
There is no doubt that this is a tough business at the start – daring to abandon the status quo and having the gumption to devote your life to becoming happy and harmless is after all the most rebellious thing that one can.
RESPONDENT: I do understand that I and all of my peers actually *are* spiritual (in the way you and Richard use the word) because we have the feeling of being someone. I do not have a problem with you exposing this as ruthlessly and persistently as you like; it is helpful (if uncomfortable at times).
PETER: I am not ‘exposing’ anything in the sense that the word is normally used because this mailing list is not a therapy group. You have been on this mailing list long enough to know that you are completely free to write to either Richard, Vineeto or myself and that if you do so we are apt to point to the facts of the matter that are contrary to the beliefs and opinions you have garnered from a life-time of conditioning and that this pointing to the facts invariably causes feelings of confusion, annoyance and defensiveness.
I say invariably because a belief is an emotion-backed thought and beliefs are always associated with feelings and emotions. Because of this association the most effective and direct way to differentiate between belief and fact is to become attentive to one’s own feelings. Why am I feeling defensive, why am I feeling annoyed and so on – invariably in the early stages of actualism one will find a dearly-held belief. But then again we have had this conversation before –
RESPONDENT: The only point I’m really arguing about here is that the word ‘spiritual’ is overloaded. It carries connotations of both religion and supernaturalism, which a materialist has already rejected (though he remains ‘spiritual’ by virtue of his ‘feeling of being’).
PETER: Okay. You seem to be arguing – if somewhat by proxy – that you are a materialist because you had already rejected spiritualism before you came to this list. And yet going by what you wrote several months ago on this mailing list it is apparent that you had at least given spirituality ‘a fair go’ and from my experience, someone who has given spirituality a fair go is bound to have accumulated a good many spiritual beliefs –
And from your comment that you ‘waver between transcendence of the ‘human drama’ and elimination of the ‘human condition’’ it would appear that you had by no means rejected spiritualism a few months ago.
Or are you merely arguing the point for the sake of arguing?
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