Please note that Peter’s correspondence below was written by the feeling-being ‘Peter’ while ‘he’ lived in a pragmatic (methodological), still-in-control/same-way-of-being Virtual Freedom before becoming actually free.

Peter’s Correspondence on the Actual Freedom List

with Gary

Topics covered

Neophyte to Actual Freedom, Richard’s story of joining the army, doubts and objections, jumping in, keeping one’s wits, acknowledging one’s malice and sorrow, questioning spiritual values, spiritual identity, relief, gas in the tank for long journey * Seth on violent thoughts, disembodied entity, karmic nonsense * sensible protection not moral principle * Sethism , moral responsibility of spiritualists, wars of God against other God, MAD, West turning to Eastern religion, solipsism, Ramesh Balsekar, the peace of Western and Eastern religion, actual peace * exploding anger at stepchildren, instinct of nurture, jealousy, innate altruism * Debra Niehoff on aggression, neo-cortex hijacked by amygdala, research on aggression, LeDoux, N. Chagrin, wargraph, young men and war, high school shootings


Continued from Richard, List B, No 37


PETER: Welcome to the mailing list.

GARY: I would like to introduce myself to you and the other members of the list. As I am quite a neophyte to Actual Freedom and the Freedom List, perhaps some comments about how I arrived here are in order. I have for some time been participating in the Listening-l list, a list set up to explore the teachings of J. Krishnamurti. As a participant there, I first made the acquaintance of Richard and had the briefest of correspondence with him.

Some of things that he talked about hit home with me, and a couple of his remarks to me had an impact that lingered on for several months, kind of dormant in my mind, and particularly lately a conviction has been growing that there is a way to find happiness in life through an ending of violence and suffering. The difference now for me is that, whereas previously I would have regarded such a goal as quixotic at the best, now I regard the goal as attainable.

PETER: I wrote of my early beginnings on the path to Actual Freedom –

[Peter]: ‘I remember one story that Richard told where he compared coming into the world to joining the army. You stand in a line, naked, and you are given, one by one, the various items you need for army life – underwear, shirts, trousers, helmet, shoes, bag, shaving gear, toothbrush and so on, and you emerge the other end ‘equipped’ for duty. Similarly, my parents, teachers and others had equipped me – as a new recruit to the human race – with the beliefs, values, morals and ethics necessary to join and play my part in the human race. This made sense to me, and I was soon immensely fascinated in uncovering, discussing and investigating each one of these beliefs. I was challenged to investigate the validity of each of them and to determine for myself the facts – what was sensible and what was silly? Had any of these beliefs and values worked, and if not, why not?


As human animals we also come into the world already equipped with the basic instinctual passions of fear, aggression, nurture and desire, pre-wired into the brain. These instinctual passions have been instilled by ‘Blind’ Nature to ensure the survival of the species and it is common wisdom that ‘you can’t change Human Nature’. ‘Of course you can – why not?’ said Richard, and I liked that. Why not indeed?’’ Peter’s Journal, ‘Introduction’

GARY: Another difference is that I am seeing that happiness now is impossible as long as there is a ‘me’ interfering. ‘I’ will always sabotage whatever meagre supply of happiness I find.

PETER: Yes. The Human Condition is epitomized by feelings of malice and sorrow. What struck me most forcefully at one point was that, despite the fact that I lived in a subtropical paradise, in a very ‘safe’ and civilized country, with my physical survival relegated to ensuring the automatic teller machine dispensed enough pieces of paper for me to wander up the road to do my hunting and gathering in the air-conditioned supermarket where delicious foods from all over the world literally tumbled off the shelves – I was still not happy and nor was I harmless. Despite my good intentions, despite my ideals, occasional dramatic ‘bleed-throughs’ or constant subtle undercurrents of both malice and sorrow were obvious if only I cared to be aware of them and dared to acknowledge them.

GARY: However, as I am very new in this enterprise, I have many doubts and objections. Perhaps one of the strongest reservations I have is this: I have been deluded so many times before in searching for ‘the answer’ in spiritual groups, therapy, and ‘self- improvement’ activities, I feel that I am ‘waiting for the left shoe to drop’, to use an expression to point to the experience of being disillusioned.

PETER: Yep. When I started on this path I was very wary, very cautious, for the discoveries I had made on the spiritual path had led to more doubts and objections than answers and truths. I had seen ‘behind the curtain’ of three living spiritual teachers and witnessed the disparity between how they were as human beings and what they taught. It was a gradual dawning to the understanding that to follow the teachings of someone who does not live what he teaches is nonsense, no matter how seductive the teachings are. Further investigations led me to discover that all of the flesh and blood Gurus and teachers have skeletons in their closets, that none are what they say they are, or would have us believe they are.

Therefore, much of my early period with Richard was spent in quietly checking out how he was with other people and whether he was he living what he wrote about. The other thing I did very early on, as soon as I had established a prima facie case in favour of actualism, was set about trying it out – finding out if the method worked, and the particular challenge I took on was ... ‘if I couldn’t live with at least one other person in equity, peace and harmony then life on earth was indeed a sick joke’.

This ‘finding out if it works’ is the only way to deal with doubts and objections.

GARY: There is a healthy dose of skepticism at this point, a not wanting to take the whole thing hook-line-and-sinker. I guess I am saying that, whereas I thought I was willing to take the plunge unreservedly, there is a hesitation, a wait and see approach. And perhaps that is as it should be.

PETER: I would say it is impossible for those who have been on the spiritual path to immediately take actualism on, hook-line-and-sinker, for it is completely opposite to Spiritualism. To do so, without understanding the radical difference between the two, is to completely miss the point and to only indulge in further delusion, or attempt to take on actualism as a yet another belief-system. This is why so much of one’s early investigations involve freeing oneself from spiritual morals, ethics, values and beliefs such that one begins the process of turning around and facing the other direction.

It does seem that you may well be reporting doubts after the fact, something I often found myself doing. Sort of a ‘what have I got myself into this time’. I can only report: it’s simply the best because it’s actual!

GARY: But I want to forge on with this. One example of this is writing this post. My usual approach is to reticently test the waters before jumping in on a list such as this. I am excited to have this opportunity to ‘compare notes’ with others that are going through this, and so I am jumping right in there.

PETER: A lot of what I write is in hindsight about the process and when I look back what I did was jump in straight away, but I kept my wits about me. I had this burning desire to be free, and a burning discontent with my life as it was. I was determined to get to the bottom of this mystery and, as I was already suss of the spiritual path, I figured ‘I had nothing left to lose’ by jumping straight in. I jumped in to finding out about what was on offer, and finding out if it worked as opposed to my falling for spiritual belief where I had left my mind at the door, surrendered my will and trusted my feelings. If anyone attempts to take actualism on as a belief it will do nothing for them, there will be no radical change.

GARY: Another thing that has happened to me is that I have a seemingly new clarity about certain issues in my life. I am able to see, in a new way, how ‘I’ have been standing in the way of experiencing happiness and joy both for myself and others around me.

PETER: This is no insignificant understanding, for the key to eliminating the instinctual animal passions, as opposed to merely transcending them, lies in becoming aware of how one is in relationship with other people. The spiritual practice of transcending sorrow leads to feelings of compassion – either as Universal Sorrow of the essential (?) human suffering at being a mortal flesh and blood human being or as Compassion, or pity for others who are ignorant of the Truth or who are ‘less conscious’ than Thou. The spiritual practice of transcending malice leads to a complete denial of one’s feelings of fear and malice in order to transcend them and a complete disregard for peace on earth in exchange for an utterly selfish feeling of transcendental Peace.

GARY: One of the things I am looking at now is just how miserable I have been for a very long, long time. This stark realization came recently after I went through a period of being a very, very ‘unhappy camper’, being filled with fears, anger, etc. It struck me after reading your recent posting that this is an important realization. You wrote:

[Peter]: Many of the realizations that come on the way to dismantling one’s social identity are in the form of understandings or realizations of the blindingly obvious – flashes of stunning clarity, unimpeded by the usual self-centred emotional perspective. Peter to No 3, 11.7.2000

The blindingly obvious, in this case, has been the realization of the extent of my unhappiness and misery.

PETER: Again, this is no insignificant realization. This realization, when coupled with the understanding that one invariably contributes to the unhappiness and misery of others, despite one’s good intentions, can lead to doing something about the situation. Actualism offers that very possibility for those who have sufficient passion to make freedom from malice and sorrow their sole aim in life.

GARY: Along with this, I am questioning so-called spiritual values that I have had for a long time. For quite a while, I have embraced a variant of Gnosticism, believing that the world we see is an illusion, and that I actually exist in a timeless realm, in other words, somewhere else other than where I am right now. The logical extension of this has been the experience that I don’t want to be here, that this world is not my home and I really exist somewhere else.

PETER: The spiritual world is a safe haven for ‘me’, as the spirit dwelling within the flesh and blood body. When I first discovered the spiritual world I was disillusioned with the real-world and, as such, the teachings were music to ‘my’ ears. There was an instinctual recognition of the truth of what was being said, a feeling of coming home, a deep passionate longing to escape from the real-world. The real-world soon became a bad dream and the spiritual world soon seemed real, whereas I now understand and experience that both of these ‘worlds’ are illusionary. Both are but the product of ‘my’ beliefs and ‘my’ feelings yet are made very real by the fact that these worlds are all ‘I’ can know and can perceive for ‘I’ am but a psychological and psychic entity that has taken up residence inside this flesh and blood body. It is only by purging this physical corporeal body of every skerrick of identity that the always ever-present physical tangible palpable actual world – that we occasionally have glimpses of in a PCE as being delightful, perfect and pure – can become evident, 24 hrs. a day everyday.

Actual Freedom is far, far superior to the feeling of enlightenment for it is actual.

The real-world is an instinct-fuelled, blind and senseless survival battle of humans vs. humans, exemplified by all the wars, rapes, murders, domestic violence, child abuse, corruption, suicides, despair and loneliness. The spiritual world is a massive denial of, and dissociation from, this madness, based on the belief that there is a Greater Reality. The only substantive evidence for this meta-physical world, apart from my feelings, beliefs and imagination, is the primitive fairy tales of Gods, spirits, afterlives and other-worlds passed down from the Bronze Age and dispensed as Wisdom to the desperate and gullible by the priests, shamans and Gurus.

Thank goodness there is now a down-to-earth, God-less, actual freedom available.

GARY: The tenacity with which I have held on to these ideas is truly amazing, but as you have pointed out we are dealing with centuries of social and religious conditioning, so they are not easily discarded. This questioning of the spiritual beliefs that I have maintained is something entirely new for me, because I have rigorously maintained these beliefs in the face of evidence that they were making me quite unhappy and ineffective. It is exciting to be questioning these things but a bit disconcerting too. However, I can see that others have been on this path for quite a while ahead of me, so I am taking some courage from that fact.

PETER: My experience was that the major obstacle in the early days was my spiritual pride for there is none so proud as the ‘humble’ spiritual seeker. You may well find reading my journal useful for it is a first-hand, down-to-earth, account of the process of questioning and demolishing spiritual beliefs.

GARY: It is also a stunner to realize that this deep questioning and examination of out-moded spiritual beliefs is dismantling my social identity, that it is part and parcel of this demolition work. This work leads to examining the other end of the duality: the tender instincts of nurture and desire. I have historically been focused on fear and aggression, but both sides of the equation need to be thoroughly explored. As you say, and quite sensibly so:

[Peter]: There is no love or hate in a tree, a keyboard, a cloud, a coffee cup. There is instinctual fear, aggression, nurture and desire in animals for it is literally a dog-eat-dog world. There is instinctual fear, aggression, nurture and desire in the human animal but we have been socialized to mask our fear, be cunning with our aggression, be proud of our nurture and devious with our desire. Peter, The Actual Freedom Trust Mailing List, No 8, 13.7.2000

PETER: Most people who have been searching for freedom, peace and happiness have adopted a new identity – that of a spiritual seeker, and this new identity is the first thing that has to go before you get down to your original social identity. What made this process easier for me was that I figured whatever I could take on later in life as a belief, a conviction and an identity, I could very easily discard – a bit like a layer of clothing or the outer skin of an onion. Once this spiritual identity is out of the way, the work of dismantling the rest of one’s social identity can begin.

Just as an aside, it is curious to observe that the Gurus and God-men still have much of their original identities operating – thus the Indian Gurus never quite transcend their roots and original religious beliefs exactly as the Western Gurus remain western and retain much of their original religious beliefs.

An actualist needs to thoroughly clean the cupboard of all belief.

GARY: So, I wish to explain that I feel I have set myself on the broad highway towards freedom. I’ve got a lot of gas in my tank and many miles to go, I am sure. I am reading and digesting as much as I can about Actual Freedom, on the website, etc. I am hoping to have more discussions with all of you here. This is very exciting work and I have been having a lot more fun lately than usual! I’ve had some pretty good laughs of late and I have been sleeping a lot better. I am a lot happier and I have a lot more energy.

Perhaps these are some of the immediate benefits to living in the present moment with people-as-they-are and the world-as-it-is.

PETER: Personally, the relief at leaving the spiritual world was palpably delicious – I felt such a relief from not having to continually maintain trust, faith, hope and belief in the face of doubt, confusion, factual evidence and common sense. Many people who have come across Richard over the years stopped at this very point, relieved to have got out of the spiritual world and then promptly settled down to normal life once again, a goodly bit happier for the leaving. For an actualist, this abandoning the spiritual path is the beginning of the adventure of ‘self’-discovery, not an end unto itself.

This is why I say that the path to Actual Freedom is a passionate adventure. The same fuel that drove initially my spiritual search, drove my search for freedom from malice and sorrow – same passionate desire, opposite direction.

You need a good deal of gas in the tank initially and eventually you’ll come to a stage when you find yourself careering along, looking for the brakes and finding there are none. Then, as soon as you dare to, you take your hands off the wheel and sit back and be aware of doing what is happening and amazement, wonder and delight come flooding in to fill the hole that is left when ‘you’ temporarily abdicate the throne. When you do this often enough, and find that the actual world is not only safe but pure and perfect, you become aware of your destiny.

Good, hey


PETER: I noticed you made a comment on the following post to the list, and I thought I’d put my two bob in –

GARY to No 8:

[Jane Roberts]: ‘Killing while protecting one’s own body from death at the hands of another is a violation. Whether or not any justification seems apparent, the violation exists. (Long pause.) Because you believe that physical self-defence is the only way to counter such a situation then you will say, ‘If I am attacked by another person, are you telling me that I cannot aggressively counter his obvious intent to destroy me?’ Not at all. You could counter such an attack in several ways that do not involve killing. You would not be in such a hypothetical situation to begin with unless violent thoughts of your own, faced or unfaced, had attracted it to you.’ ‘The Nature of Personal Reality’ Seth via J. Roberts

This excerpt was meaningful to me because I am wondering how to face violence in myself, fully and comprehensively. I have, since I was young, been concerned with personal protection. I used to be unable to sleep unless I had a loaded gun nearby. During my ‘nerve wracking’ periods of facing fear, I seem to be very concerned with keeping myself fully armed. When I am really fearful, I stockpile ammunition and it gives me a feeling of safety and protection, albeit a false sense of safety. I realize that in a shooting war there is no place of safety, that bombs and planes can wipe you out in a second.

In any event, the statement ‘You would not be in such a hypothetical situation to begin with unless violent thoughts of your own, faced or unfaced, had attracted it to you.’ This seems particularly true. I wonder if I have really faced the violence that is at the core of such an exaggerated concern with personal safety and protection. I don’t think getting rid of my guns is the solution, for the problem lies with the beliefs, values, and instinctual passions that provide the fuel for such fear and aggression. I have noticed of late that I am not interested in the guns or ammunition stockpiling.

I have more of a sense of safety. Your posted material, while extensive, attracted me because this portion of it leapt out at me. Last night I awoke from a nightmare. I was howling in my sleep because something or somebody was killing me, I am sure. It takes a while to realize its’ just a dream....

PETER: I find it curious that these words of wisdom about physical self-defence supposedly come from a disembodied entity. As such, I would say that an ethereal entity without a physical body would be the least qualified to offer gratuitous moral advice to we corporeal earthly humans.

Personally, I enjoy being here and have no problem, should the need arise, in aggressively countering another’s obvious intent to destroy me. Obviously I would do all that was reasonable to avoid being in the situation in the first place, or get out of it with all the cunning I could muster, but if all else fails, to lay down and die for a moral principle is clearly silly.

The last platitude offered is the usual spiritual karmic nonsense that is easily dismissed by considering the ‘violent thoughts’ of the toddlers killed in the Oklahoma bombing, those villagers killed in the Lockerby plane crash, the school children shot at Columbine, the children hacked to pieces in Rwanda, etc.

All religious/ spiritual wisdom, no matter what its source, is a minefield of unliveable morals and pious ethics, aimed solely at crippling, controlling and burdening wayward souls with guilt and shame.

Well, I’ve blown it now – I’m now commenting on the writings of an imaginary disembodied entity – a bit like commenting on the words and actions of the Son of God in the Christian Bible or the Buddha who was an elephant in a previous life.

It’s a funny world ...


PETER: I noticed you made a comment on the following post to the list, and I thought I’d put my two bob in –

GARY to No 8:

[Jane Roberts]: ‘Killing while protecting one’s own body from death at the hands of another is a violation. Whether or not any justification seems apparent, the violation exists. (Long pause.) Because you believe that physical self-defence is the only way to counter such a situation then you will say, ‘If I am attacked by another person, are you telling me that I cannot aggressively counter his obvious intent to destroy me?’ Not at all. You could counter such an attack in several ways that do not involve killing. You would not be in such a hypothetical situation to begin with unless violent thoughts of your own, faced or unfaced, had attracted it to you.’ ‘The Nature of Personal Reality’ Seth via J. Roberts

<snipped comment>

PETER: I find it curious that these words of wisdom about physical self-defence supposedly come from a disembodied entity. As such, I would say that an ethereal entity without a physical body would be the least qualified to offer gratuitous moral advice to we corporeal earthly humans.

GARY: Yes, unless such a one was ‘God in human form’. That is essentially the Christian myth. So there is one (ie., Jesus, Seth, etc.) who knows all about being a human but at the same time is ‘beyond’ all that, having transcended it, and can supposedly guide us mere mortals. Now please note, I am not arguing from this position. I merely found the excerpted quotation interesting as I have struggled to understand how to deal with violence.

PETER: I found the business of delving back into Eastern spiritual teachings, meta-physical sciences, philosophy, psychology, sociology, etc. and finding the loop holes, so top speak, a very freeing experience. Digging beneath what is seemingly being said and finding the core argument, theory, concept or belief that underpins and substantiates what has passed as the great, profound and Sacred truths of the Human Condition is very daunting but it is the only way to actually free oneself of the Human Condition. Facts must replace beliefs for facts are actual but beliefs shackle ‘me’ to the Human Condition and keep ‘me’, the believer, in existence. This process of investigation is exactly why we actualists do tend to be a wordy lot and interested in exploring all of the aspects of the Human Condition.


PETER: Personally, I enjoy being here and have no problem, should the need arise, in aggressively countering another’s obvious intent to destroy me. Obviously I would do all that was reasonable to avoid being in the situation in the first place, or get out of it with all the cunning I could muster, but if all else fails, to lay down and die for a moral principle is clearly silly.

GARY: I notice that you used the word ‘aggressively’ in talking about countering another’s obvious intent to destroy you. So it appears that this is the sticking point: one is still aggressive and falling prey to the instincts, is one not? I have variously tried to imagine what it must be like to be without fear, like Richard. It seems like a mostly futile enterprise, as the fact remains that I am fearful. But I should think that were one without fear, having extirpated the emotional faculty, one would not ‘aggresively’ respond to anything. There would be no need for aggression as intelligence and common sense would guide one as to what to do in any given situation.

PETER: Remember that we are talking of a hypothetical situation as I live in a reasonably ‘safe’ village in a ‘civilized’ country and do nothing that would provoke violence in a ‘reasonable’ person. And yet, if I were to be physically threatened I would firstly use whatever cunning I could to escape the situation but, if this failed, I would defend myself aggressively – as in forcefully, vigorously, robustly. If my life was being actually threatened and there was no avenue of escape, it would seem folly to defend myself in any other manner. And the extent and level of aggression would be appropriate to the situation. If it got to the stage of kill or be killed then there is no question as to who should live – the wanton attacker or the innocent victim – and this distinction is upheld in most legal systems.

I used the word aggressively quite deliberately for two reasons –

Firstly to highlight the fact that to be an actualist is to challenge all beliefs, morals, ethics, values, ideals, dreams and psittacisms. Many ‘good’ people hold to the ideal of pacifism – the fantasy that all we need for peace on earth to happen is for everyone to simply stop fighting all at once. These same well-meaning people generally live in countries with a reasonably effective system of armed police and punitive legal systems to maintain law and order and professional, sophisticated armies to defend their borders. In short, they can afford to pay for other human beings to defend them to the point of killing their attackers if necessary – their idealism of non-violence is ultimately based upon paying others to do their killing for them.

The arch-advocate of pacifism, the Dalai Lama, is the theocratic leader of Tibet but, when push came to shove and the Chinese invaded, he chose to take the gold and flee behind the protection of the Indian Army, leaving his people undefended and overrun. The history of human existence has been one of continuous attack and defence, vanquish and surrender, plunder and retribution, vengeance and revenge. In this senseless grim battle of survival the meek and mild are most often the first to suffer, for it is the ruthless and callous who invariably attempt to inherit the earth.

Pacifism is an ideal, a dream, a fantasy that makes no sense in the world as-it-is with people as-they-are. I would recommend Richard’s writings on selected topics on the subject of peace as he has more thoroughly researched the subject than I have and has had the direct experience of being in a war. There is no substitute for first-hand direct experience. The Peace chapter in my Journal may also be of interest.

The second reason I used the word aggressive is to indicate that what we are talking of is the elimination of the automatic instinctual imperative that is constantly in operation, or lurking ever-ready to break through, in human beings. This relentless compulsion leads humans to feel fearful even if there is no apparent physical danger, to feel aggressive towards others even if it is not acted out, to be driven to cultivate nurture for those we consider ‘ours’ as a defence against ‘them’ and the evil of a hostile world, and to be blindly driven by avarice, greed and sexual desire even when we have more than sufficient.

In Virtual Freedom all of these instinctual drives are diminished to the point where they can be clearly seen and experienced as not only unnecessary but totally destructive to my peacefulness. Even more significantly, one also becomes aware of how destructive ‘my’ instinctual passions are to those around me and usually to the ones closest to me. This period of almost-elimination of the instinctual passions is quite disconcerting for one is literally letting one’s guard down, without the protective armour of the good or tender passions to shield oneself. One finds oneself actively doing what no one would advise doing – certainly not the spiritual people for they would see me as abandoning God and heading towards immorality and evil, and certainly not the psychiatrists would see me as heading towards irresponsibility and insanity. The guiding light through this period of almost-elimination of the instinctual passions, where ‘I’ increasingly let go of the controls, is always the PCE, where I know by direct experience that the actual world, this physical infinite eternal universe, is perfect and pure and it is only ‘I’ and ‘my’ tender and savage passions who invariably spoil the game of being alive as a flesh and blood body.

When one dares to temporarily let one’s guard down or, to be more accurate, ‘I’ contrive to allow the guard to slip by itself, one discovers that rather than feeling fear there is utter safety in being alive, firmly locked in this moment of time, rather than feeling aggression there is a direct intimacy with all of one’s fellow human beings, rather than being blindly driven to nurture there is a kindly disposition and well-wishing for all of one’s fellow human beings and rather than unremitting desire one discovers one already has whatever one needs. Of course, I am talking of both purity and perfection and for these qualities to be apparent ‘I’ can claim no credit, for these experiences only happen when ‘I’, as a psychological and psychic entity, have melted into the background sufficiently as to be almost non-existent – when ‘I’ have temporarily left the stage, so-to speak. It now only needs ‘my’ finale, ‘my’ swansong to happen for this to be permanent.

When the ‘game is over’, as you put it so well.

My experience with Virtual Freedom is that I will have had sufficient experiences of both purity and perfection such that when ‘my’ demise occurs ‘the fuses will not blow’, I will not have a period of angst such as Richard had when he popped out of his enlightenment delusion and discovered he was in the actual world, and ‘I’ will not re-emerge after the experience as a vainglorious saviour of mankind.

Not that the latter is an option for it would be an affront to both my dignity and intelligence and I could hardly front up to those who know me and say – ‘guess what, I was wrong. There is a God after all ... and I’m It.’

To get back to your point that

[Gary]: There would be no need for aggression as intelligence and common sense would guide one as to what to do in any given situation. [endquote].

In Virtual Freedom one gets to experientially understand the senselessness of instinctual aggression despite the fact there is still the shadow of ‘me’ lurking around who is ever-ready to re-claim the stage. However, what one increasingly experiences when ‘I’ am almost extinct, is that these blind instinctual reactions become chemical rushes only and more and more lack any emotional or feeling substance. In Virtual Freedom one is virtually harmless.

In a PCE or Actual Freedom there is no ‘me’ as the ever-ready usurper, and intelligence and commonsense operate totally without any restraint and uninhibited by the blind instinctual survival program – as such, innocence, purity and perfection become one’s very nature. Then if aggression is an appropriate response it will appropriately happen of itself, so to speak.

An example of this process of elimination of the instinctual imperative that also comes to mind is the most curious loss of sexual drive that progressively occurred during Virtual Freedom as I explored the true nature of my sexual passions. It was quite bewildering at first, and has taken a good deal of getting used to, but now my sexual play is even more lusty and sensual than when I was a normally inhibited male or a spiritually constrained male with imagination, jealousy and the need for control still operating. Similarly with exploring nurture and debunking love – I now find I am more considerate and caring of others than I ever was.

The commonly held belief is that the excitement and tension that results from instinctual fear is essential to feeling alive and many actively court danger in order to ride the rush of fear. Contrary to this belief, the experience of the near-elimination of instinctual fear allows the thrill of doing what is happening to become increasingly apparent – and this includes doing nothing really well. Again it is universally upheld as a truth that one needs the instinct of aggression, currently manifest in the phrase ‘standing up for my rights’, or else I will be trampled, done in, taken advantage of, etc. What is discovered is quite the opposite, for one increasingly discovers that the actual world is a safe place, brim full of serendipity, delight and wonder.

Whenever the blind animal passions are near-eliminated, or magically fall by the wayside, one always has tantalizing glimpses of what lays beneath – actuality is so much more superior to feelings and imagination for it is actual and effortless as it requires no ‘me’ to be continually maintaining the tender feelings and passions in the face of the savage feelings and passions.

In order to become virtually free, ‘I’ very deliberately get off the stage, and the relief of not having to put on an act is palpable. A leisurely game of delight is increasingly played out before my eyes. In Actual Freedom ‘I’ expire, immolate, die, to let the play be what it actually is – utterly unscripted, uncontrolled, unrehearsed, adlibbed, perfect and pure, moment to moment, right here where I have always been, and as events, people and things are ... right now.

Isn’t that the freedom we all want – to stop having to be a ‘me’, and all it entails?


GARY: In a recent post, No 8 wrote –

[Jane Roberts]: But the information is fascinating. Seth is no advocate of irresponsibility; he declares you are absolutely responsible for every minuscule event that ever happens to you. The archives of every word he spoke have been stored at Yale University and physicists are studying his probability theory which you can read about in a book titled Bridging Science and Spirituality. ‘The Nature of Personal Reality’ Seth via J.Roberts

In reply, you wrote –

[Peter]: ‘I’ll pass No 8, although I did put my foot in my mouth in a post to Gary entitled ‘disembodied morals’.’ Peter to No 8, 24.7.2000

It’s a rather big foot, Peter, and I was wondering if you might like to reply. I called it the ‘sticking point’, because I feel there is a point that most of us get to when we are severely challenged and up against something that refuses to budge. Faced with an adversary who is intent on putting an end to your life at the point of a gun or some other equally potent weapon, it is interesting to speculate as to whether one would respond instinctually with a ‘kill or be killed’ mentality or whether something else would happen, something more akin to intelligence and common sense. Of course, I may be neglecting to recognize that common sense might dictate speedily dispatching the onerous adversary with a well placed shot. A kind of ‘putting him out of his misery’, as it were.

Pardon the gallows humour.

I am really quite surprised that you replied to me that you would not hesitate to respond ‘aggressively’. I can only conclude that since you told No 8 you put your foot in your mouth you feel you made a faux pas. Well, if it is a mistake, I don’t want to make too much of it. Perhaps the scenario I described of being faced with imminent loss of life by a violent opponent is where the rubber meets the road for an actualist. If one has thoroughly self-immolated, and as I am aware of no one who has achieved this feat save for Richard, I should think there would be no aggression involved at all. In other words, there would be no adrenalin rush, no fight-or-flight response, no desperate pleading for your life to be saved, no hair trigger ‘shoot first’ reaction, like in all the cowboy pictures we were raised on. With no fear on board the physiological organism, a fervent imagination leads me to two possible conclusions: 1.) one would be as ‘calm as a cucumber’ and able to defuse the most violent of confrontations, skilfully using the wastage of energy generated by the opponents’ wrath, or 2.) one would most likely perish and be quite unconcerned with it, as one is devoid of a sense of being a personal ‘I’ that needs defending. Rhetorical questions and speculations aside, few of us are actually faced with anything like this. Not to say that we might not be at some relatively near point in the future, if war breaks out, which, considering the history of world, is certainly possible. It is a wonderful distraction to consider these questions, but I don’t want to belabour the point. It is far more interesting and vital work to consider how to deal with the situations that are actually facing me than concoct a hypothetical situation to speculate about.

If you would care to respond, you might comment on whether or not you were caught unawares when you responded in that way by saying ‘aggressively’. It was a rather revealing remark, as I think we are all in that boat, unless of course we are in Actual Freedom.

PETER: It looks as though we have a crossed-post situation where I have answered most of the points you raised by answering your first post on the subject. At the moment I am quite busy working so I tend to be slow in my responses if the inbox gets full. I also like to respond in reasonable detail to questions raised which was another reason that I was attempting to pass on the longish piece of Sethism that No 8 posted, but it looks as though my attempt failed. You quoted No 8 –

[Jane Roberts]: ‘Seth is no advocate of irresponsibility; he declares you are absolutely responsible for every minuscule event that ever happens to you.’ ‘The Nature of Personal Reality’ Seth via J.Roberts

Common to most spiritual/ religious teachings is the moral principle that everyone is responsible for their actions, whereas one only has to take a clear-eyed look at the sacred teachings to discover that this is not so in fact.

In monotheist religions the issue is very clear. There is one God only, usually a creator God, and everyone is ultimately judged by this Big Daddy who offers the carrot of a heavenly after-life, or the stick of a hellish after-life.

This threat of Divine punishment and the promise of Divine reward ultimately means that everyone is responsible only to God for his or her actions and to no-one else. Thus a mythical God becomes one’s ultimate authority and the beleaguered believers dance to the tune of their God as well as His or Her earthly representatives – the Popes, Bishops, priests, Gurus and God-men, pundits, teachers, etc. When my God is ‘The one and only God’ it means that all other Gods are impostors, fakes and competitors, and those who follow other Gods are therefore non-believers, heathens or barbarians.

This battle of the ‘I-am-the-one-and-only’ type Gods has meant that millions upon millions upon millions of impassioned believers have attacked, slaughtered, maimed, killed and tortured other human beings in thousands upon thousands of pogroms, missions, retributions cleansings, wars and crusades, that have gone on for at least 3,500 years of recorded history. This senseless violence, spawned of religious belief, is still on-going with no sign of abating as all the prayers for peace on earth to these self-same mythical Gods have curiously gone unanswered.

In the monotheist system violence and killing is not only condoned as in ‘I’m fighting for God’ or ‘I lay down my life for God’ but it is Glorified in that the very action of killing, or being killed, ‘for God’s sake’ is a guarantee of a glorious redemption and salvation for one’s immortal soul.

This action of deliberately surrendering one’s responsibility is predicated on believing in the ancient ignorant beliefs and superstitions of good and evil spirits, Forces or Beings as the underlying cause of the animal-instinctual savage and tender passions in operation in human beings. As such, to hold any skerrick of belief in any of the ‘I-am-the-one-and-only’ type Gods – by whatever name – is to renounce responsibility for one’s actions and ignore the fact that every flesh and blood human is automatically driven by instinctual animal passions. These passions arise from a genetically-encoded very crude program instilled by ‘blind’ nature purely in order to ensure the survival of the strongest (i.e. most brutish) of the species. Animal ‘evolution’ in action is not a pretty business ...

Last century, when the last world war after the ‘War to end all Wars’ finished and yet another (Cold) War developed with each side playing a game called MAD – Mutually Assured Destruction – many people who were desperate for peace on earth turned their backs on Western Religion and adopted Eastern ‘spirituality’ with open-hearts and lofty expectations. Given that any belief demands faith, trust, hope and unquestioning agreement, none bothered to stop and investigate the basic tenets of this ‘spiritual movement’ – Eastern religion and philosophy. The core belief that underpins Eastern religion and philosophy is that ‘who-one-truly-is’ is spirit only and one is most definitely not the body. To sustain this belief one needs to deny the body and its functions, as in ‘I am not the body, I am not the mind’, etc. This belief, if fully indulged, can lead to a state of solipsism:

Solipsism – ‘the view or theory that only the self really exists or can be known’ Oxford dictionary

which is the most extreme form of denial, pathological dissociation. This denial represents an abdication of any and all actions that ‘the body’ and ‘the mind’ happen to do for they are not ‘me’, they are but vessels for ‘my’ earthly journey or even ethereal manifestations of the real, substantive ‘Me’. This core belief in the East is most graphically seen in the teachings of Ramesh Balsekar and the wisdom and culture of Zen Buddhism.

A bit from Ramesh Balsekar which you may think of as extreme, but it is nothing other than a ‘tell it like it is’, unambiguous description of the deep-seated belief that ultimately prevents a spiritual believer for taking full responsibility for their malicious and sorrowful words, thoughts, feelings and behaviour –

[WIE]: Do you mean to say that if an individual acts in a way that ends up hurting another, then the person who did it, or, as you say, the ‘body/mind organism’ who did it, is not responsible?

[Balsekar]: What I’m saying here is that you know that ‘I’ didn’t do it. I’m not saying I’m not sorry that it hurt someone. The fact that someone was hurt will bring about a feeling of compassion and the feeling of compassion will result in my trying to do whatever I can to assuage the hurt. But there will be no feeling of guilt: I didn’t do it!

The other side of this is that an action happens which the society lauds and gives me a reward for. I’m not saying that happiness will not arise because of the reward. Just as compassion arose because of the hurt, a feeling of satisfaction or happiness may arise because of a reward. But there’ll be no pride.

[WIE]: But do you literally mean that if I go and hit someone, it’s not me doing it? I just want to get clear about this.

[Balsekar]: The original fact, the original concept still remains: you hit somebody. The additional concept arises that whatever happens is God’s will, and God’s will with respect to each body/mind organism is the destiny of that body/mind organism.

[WIE]: So I could just say, ‘Well, it was God’s will that I did that; it’s not my fault.’

[Balsekar]: Sure. An act happens because it is the destiny of this body/mind organism, and because it is God’s will. And the consequences of that action are also the destiny of that body/ mind organism.’ Interview with Ramesh Balsekar from ‘What is Enlightenment’ magazine, Moksha press. WIE is published by Andrew Cohen

The most telling expose of Zen Buddhism I have come across can be found at and, in the interests of brevity and non-repetition, I’ll let you follow it up if you are interested.

As a rough rule of thumb it is useful to bear in mind that when Western religions talk of peace they talk of ‘Rest in Peace’ as in peace after death. Peace on earth is usually only referred to when a day of reckoning happens and whichever of the ‘I-am-the-one-and-only’ type Gods returns to earth and saves His people and wipes out rest, usually in some horrific cataclysmic slaughter. When Eastern religions talk of peace they talk of ‘inner’ peace only – retreating ‘in’ to find one’s true self as a way to escape from the suffering of the material physical world. In this scenario earthly existence is seen as suffering, i.e. as earthly suffering is essential and end to it is neither desirable nor possible in this belief -system therefore peace on earth is not on the spiritual agenda. As such, to hold any skerrick of Eastern spiritual belief is to renounce the possibility of peace on earth for the utterly self’-ish feeling of ‘inner’ peace (Nirvana) and the promise of an eternal peace after death (Parinirvana).

Some interesting recent correspondence I had on a spiritual mailing list about spiritual teachings and peace can be found here.

I know that some people regard actualism as an endless repetitive denunciation of religion and spirituality but they miss the point entirely for one cannot begin to come to grips with instinctual aggression, let alone sorrow, while at the same time holding on to any religious/spiritual belief, whether it be Western or Eastern, Earth-bound or inter-Galactic.

Becoming aware of anger in oneself is a great start – acknowledgement is an essential first step in any cure. For those who have trod the Eastern spiritual path this step seems almost an impossibility for they have been so immersed in the practice of denial that the program has become both automatic and overwhelming. Not only did I have to take this step of abandoning the spiritual path, but then I came across the suppressed underlying Western-spiritual feelings of guilt and shame that shrouded, inhibited and crippled my common sense investigations of aggression and anger.

These investigations are not for the faint of heart, but the reward of an actual peace on earth, in this lifetime, as this flesh and blood body, is now, for the very first time, alluringly available ... and the tantalizing prospect that this could spread like a chain letter around the world over time is breathtaking in its implications.


PETER: Personally, I enjoy being here and have no problem, should the need arise, in aggressively countering another’s obvious intent to destroy me. Obviously I would do all that was reasonable to avoid being in the situation in the first place, or get out of it with all the cunning I could muster, but if all else fails, to lay down and die for a moral principle is clearly silly.

GARY: In response to this comment about ‘aggressively’ countering a lethal attack, I seized on your use of the word ‘aggressively’, believing that I had discovered a contradiction: that an actualist could espouse being happy and harmless whilst advocating aggressive means to deal with violence. In another subsequent post to me, you clarified your use of the word ‘aggressive’:

[Peter]: And yet, if I were to be physically threatened I would firstly use whatever cunning I could to escape the situation but, if this failed, I would defend myself aggressively – as in forcefully, vigorously, robustly. If my life was being actually threatened and there was no avenue of escape, it would seem folly to defend myself in any other manner. And the extent and level of aggression would be appropriate to the situation. If it got to the stage of kill or be killed then there is no question as to who should live – the wanton attacker or the innocent victim – and this distinction is upheld in most legal systems. [endquote].

I was satisfied with your detailed post in which the preceding excerpt was included.

Your use of the word ‘aggressive’ was used in the sense of denoting a robust, vigorous, and forceful response to violence aimed at one, not necessarily meaning use of lethal force. I agree with your comments to the effect that every other means possible should be taken to de-escalate a violent confrontation short of using lethal force. I have found that one can do much to avoid being in situations that are potentially violent by increased vigilance to one’s own malice and sorrowful feelings, to the point that one is questioning oneself constantly, attentive to the automatic ‘me’ responses of defensiveness, fear, and anger. Rather than responding with submissive behaviour, ie. the automatic conditioned response to ‘be nicey-nice’, one goes on with one’s interactions with another who may be angry without missing a beat, because one has not fallen prey to feeling personally insulted, offended, or otherwise maligned because there is no ‘me’ or ‘I’ at the wheel needing defense. One is also not on some kind of ‘mission’ to provide nurturance or succour to those who are disturbed by anger or violence, a response that is often inculcated into one by spiritual values such as ‘turning the other cheek’. It is stupid to turn the other cheek when someone is angry, unless one is a ‘holy man’ and has to prove that they are ‘compassionate’. I find it increasingly difficult to understand why people around me are so willing to wallow around in angry feelings, feeling resentful, sorrowful, and upset over what often appear to be trifling matters. I say this out of no sense of superiority, as I have my ‘blind spots’ I am sure, and can be just as easily triggered off by situations over which I seem to have no control. In fact, such happened recently, and I was greatly disturbed to see myself reacting in unhelpful and nonsensical ways. As you wrote most recently:

[Peter]: ... then I came across the suppressed underlying Western-spiritual feelings of guilt and shame that shrouded, inhibited and crippled my common sense investigations of aggression and anger. [endquote].

Yes, that is so.

This is precisely what happened on the most recent occasion when I exploded in anger at my partner’s grandson. I immediately felt guilty and ashamed of myself and secluded myself upstairs in my den. After a period of cooling down, I was able to explore and examine what was going on with me that provoked my response. The whole thing still rather mystifies me. While I have discovered some things about ‘me’ through this experience, I still have the sense that I am skating around on the surface of the thing.

So, thank you Peter for being willing to explore this in detail with me. I found your replies helpful in that they have given me more grist for the mill.

PETER: When you write of exploding in anger at your partner’s grandson, I remember a similar instance where I did the same to the son of my partner at the time. We had one son each from previous partners and I became aware of how much more ‘tolerant’ I was of ‘my’ son’s behaviour than ‘her’ son. Now I am clearly able to see that it was because I was instinctually programmed to favour, be biased, turn a blind eye to, defend and be sympathetic towards my ‘own’, i.e. the instinct to nurture my ‘own’ counteracts the usual instinctual reaction of aggression that I felt towards other human beings.

The other reaction I became aware of was a feeling of jealousy that I had of the special relationship she had with her son. It was an instinctual bond and therefore was stronger and overrode the relationship that I had with her. There is a good deal of statistical evidence that points to outbreaks of violence towards stepchildren caused either by jealousy or innate intolerance.

Looking back it was indeed shocking at the time to have this instinctual anger well up from deep inside me – it was both bewildering as I could not rationally explain it and neither was I quick enough or able to keep a lid on it. It was a prime example of LeDoux’s findings about the quick and dirty response in action, in me. This intensity of instinctual reaction did not happen very often in my life but when it did it was too strong to ignore. It did not matter whether the reaction was an evil thought, a verbal outburst or a physical action (rare in my case as I was a well-bought-up, goody-two-shoes, Spiritual Snag at the time), I could not deny that I was angry.

The last time such an uncontrollable outburst of anger happened was about a year before meeting Richard so I had no trouble in remembering and acknowledging that beneath ‘my’ loving persona there lurked a suppressed and controlled crude animal instinctual ‘me’. When offered the possibility of ridding myself of this instinctual aggression once and for all, I leapt at the chance.

Your story has reminded me of the fact that it is this acknowledging of aggression in oneself that is the key to wanting to change irrevocably. If one only wants happiness for oneself then that is insufficient motive or intent to get stuck into the business of irrevocably changing oneself. It needs an altruistic motive rather than the mere self-gratification of being happy and that motive is to be actually peaceful – to do no harm to one’s fellow human beings, as in not instinctually feeling aggression towards others, not instinctually feeling sorrow for others, not being blindly driven to nurture others and not being blindly driven to desire power over others.

This facet is one that I had forgotten when I recently penned the ‘map’ of the path but it is one that is vital to success on the path. To emphasize the harmless part of becoming happy and harmless is to tap into a well of innate altruism in the human species that will guarantee one success on the path to Actual Freedom. Again this is diametrically opposite to the spiritual path where self-gratification is the aim, transcendence of evil is the process and a feeling of superiority to (as in more holier than thou) and compassion (as in pity) for others more ignorant and less-realized is the inevitable result

So Alan, if you are reading, maybe this needs to be added to the path as well, says he not-so-subtly trying to pass the buck. This acknowledging and wanting to put an end to aggression in me was the key to firstly being able to live in utter peace and harmony with Vineeto and then to being able to interact with others in peace and harmony – on my part.


GARY: I encountered the following interview with Debra Niehoff, author of ‘The Biology of Violence’ on the web this morning, as I was interested in looking into articles dealing with the amygdala and its’ relation to the instinct of aggression. To keep it rather short, I excerpted a brief snippet from the interview in which she responds to a question about violence, given what the scientific community is learning about brain regulation of emotions and the correspondence between the amygdala and the cerebral cortex:

[Question]: And how does that relate to violence?

[Debra Niehoff]: Well, that circuitry is overlaid and connected to the circuitry of emotions. So the two work hand in hand. Aggression, the ability to use force, is a natural part of the behaviour repertoire of living things. Aggression is important. If we couldn’t be aggressive, we couldn’t defend ourselves, or our children. We wouldn’t be able to compete for jobs or compete in sports. But when that normal behaviour becomes inappropriate, when it is directed toward the wrong person, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and with the wrong intensity, then it becomes violent and it becomes unacceptable.

When that happens, there is a change in the person’s ability to accurately determine whether something is a real threat. Either they are overreacting to benign stimuli, or they are not reacting to very real threats, like the threat of punishment. Something has gotten out of whack in their ability to understand and react correctly to their environment. The frontal cortex plays a big role in providing additional information to our emotional reactions, to clarifying those reactions by saying, ‘Wait a minute, that’s not really the way things are working. Step back and take a minute to think.’ If a person has come to believe that the world is against them, and they are overreacting to every little provocation, these violent reactions get beyond their ability to control because they are in survival mode. Debra Niehoff, The Biology of Violence’

I found the views expressed here to be the prevailing wisdom on aggression – a kind of ‘you better learn to live with it – you can’t do without it’ approach. The prevailing wisdom seems to be that there is appropriate violence, such as in the workplace or on the sports field, and that there is inappropriate violence, as when the brain runs amok and the amygdala is ‘hijacked’, resulting in the primitive instinctual passions.

PETER: Just a minor correction. It is always the neo-cortex – the so-called modern brain – that is ‘hijacked’ by the amygdala – seemingly the source of the instinctual reactions in the so-called reptilian brain. Most of our information came from the experimental work of LeDoux who empirically observed the source of instinctual fear as the amygdala and subsequently traced the neural pathways to the neo-cortex and timed the reactions.

GARY: The view that aggression is natural and normal, and that human beings could not survive without it is clear in this brief excerpt. Since, in this view, one wants to retain aggression, the approach to dealing with the more destructive aspects of the emotion is to learn self-control techniques, or (increasingly) to use medications to deal with fear and aggression. At no point in what I read does it occur to the author that there might be a way of eliminating, once and for all, aggression at its’ very source, the primitive lizard-reptilian brain stem. I am sure she would probably regard that finding as completely mad!

PETER: It does seem that no-one apart from Richard has managed to rid themselves of the instinctual passions in toto. Further no-one even considers it is at all possible ... let alone desirable.

GARY: So anyway, I thought this might be of some interest. I would like to pursue some readings in this area and find out more about recent research on emotions and the brain. I am looking for some leads and corroboration for what we are all doing. Probably a good place to look would be a nearby hospital’s library, as they have many medical journals and associated medical information. Can anybody think of something else I might look into? I am not scientist but I have had a smattering of physiology and neuro-physiology from my college days. Interesting stuff!

PETER: I haven’t discovered anyone who has done research that is so clearly and concisely presented as LeDoux. The problem with much of science is that the jargon and sheer technicality makes it inaccessible and incomprehensible to the average human being. What tends to happen is that their findings are interpreted in an emotional/ moral/ ethic perspective, further scrutinized in a competitive/ emotional/ moral/ ethical perspective and reported in a sensational/ emotional/ moral/ ethical perspective by the media to Mr. and Ms. average human being.

The only encouraging aspect of this process is that, in spite of all this running of the gauntlet, whatever findings are discovered to be empirically repeatable are eventually accepted as facts and what works is eventually put into practice. Which is why it is obvious that the process of eliminating one’s instinctual passions will eventually gain a foothold despite the current tide of objection. When I went scooting around, the major corroboration for what we are doing in actualism was that no-one had even considered it was possible, let alone tried it – and yet what Richard is proposing makes perfect sense. Far from finding it daunting, to me it confirmed the fact that everyone has got it 180 degrees wrong.


PETER: As for more information –

Napoleon Chagrin’s story is very interesting to read at –


PETER: The following I find of interest and I occasionally use the graph in my posts –

[quote]: CHAT: Is man hard-wired for war?

Violence – Part of Being Human Deadly wars may be the result of modern technology blended with our Stone Age instincts.

Humankind has lived through a hideously violent century.

World War I, WWII, wars in Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Bangladesh, Korea, Nigeria and elsewhere have extinguished millions upon millions of lives. The killings continue today in Sierra Leone, East Timor and Sudan, to name a few.

Waging war is nothing new for us humans. Bloody conflicts from the Crusades to Kosovo have been a hallmark of our history. Which raises the questions: Is such behaviour simply part of human nature? Are we hard-wired for war?

There’s certainly no definitive answer. But enough scientists have looked into our past – and present – to shed a bit of light on why we do what we do.

New Environment, Old Brain When interpreting human behaviour, it’s best to remember that the strongest human instincts are to survive and reproduce. What we need to satisfy those instincts hasn’t changed much since our primitive ancestors roamed the globe; it’s about getting enough food, water and mates.

Like it or not, write Leda Cosmides and John Tooby, co-directors of the Center for Evolutionary Psychology at University of California, Santa Barbara, ‘our modern skulls house a Stone Age mind.’ Though modern-day aggressors may not be aware of it, those primitive instincts drive their behaviours too. A strong group benefits from attacking a weaker group if in the process the aggressors gain fertile lands, reliable water, greater market share – any resources that improve their collective livelihood.

There’s no denying that aggression has been a good survival strategy. Which is why we humans are genetically hard-wired to fight.

But what triggers that aggression and what can magnify it to the point of a Rwanda or a Kosovo?

Richard Wrangham of Harvard University sees two conditions necessary for what he calls ‘coalitional aggression,’ or violence perpetrated by groups rather than individuals.

One condition is hostility between neighbors.

Human aggression got more organized with the introduction of agriculture about 10,000 years ago, says J. William Gibson, author of Warrior Dreams: Violence and Manhood in Post-Vietnam America. With farming came the concept of land ownership – and defence – and the development of more complex and organized societies. Suddenly, there was more to covet, more to protect and more people around to help do both.

The other condition for group violence is an imbalance of power great enough that aggressors believe they can attack with virtually no risk to themselves. Majorities have persecuted minority groups, whether religious, ethnic or tribal, again and again, believing they’re immune from punishment. The tangled turmoil in the former Yugoslavia is only the most immediate example.

Animals Do it, Too. Humans aren’t the only ones who gang up. Chimpanzees, with whom we share 98.4 percent of our DNA, are another. Wrangham, who wrote Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence, describes five chimps attacking one. Four will hold the victim while the fifth breaks bones and rips out the victim’s throat or testicles.

Examples of taking such advantage of imbalances of power are rare in the animal kingdom because that kind of behaviour requires a sophisticated level of coordination and cooperation. However, both chimps and humans are certainly capable of it.

‘There’s always conflict in societies,’ says Neil Wiener, an associate professor of psychology at York University. ‘The issue is, when do these conflicts erupt into violence?’

War deaths have risen dramatically in the 20th century.

*There is no information available for number of deaths per 1,000 people in the 1st-15th centuries.

**20th century data is up to 1995.

(Source: William Eckhardt, ‘War-Related Deaths Since 3000 BC,’ Bulletin of Peace Proposals, December 1991 and Ruth Leger Sivard, World Military and Social Expenditures 1996)*There is no information available for number of deaths per 1,000 people in the 1st-15th centuries.


[quote]: Young Men More Likely to Wage War According to Weiner, a critical factor in the escalation from conflict to violence, is the percentage of young, unmarried males in a population. He and co-author Christian Mesquida studied the demographics of 153 nations since the 1960s, comparing those that have remained peaceful and those that have been at war. Turns out, there is a difference ‘Whenever young people represent a relatively small portion of the population ... times are relatively tranquil,’ they wrote in their study. ‘But when a large portion of a country’s population is young there is likely to be turmoil and political violence.’ Examples include the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, even the former Yugoslavia.

War and Young Men A demographic study shows a strong correlation between the percentage of a nation’s male population that is between the ages of 15 and 29 and incidences of collective aggression – war, ethnic violence, etc.

Source: Christian Mesquida & Neil Wiener. Data: 1990, showing percentage of young men in the adult male population.


[quote]: Aggressive wars seem to happen when the percentage of young men – ages 15 to 29 – reaches 35 to 55 percent of the adult male population. ‘I think that young males are hard-wired to form groups ... and under the right circumstances, to act aggressively in groups,’ Wiener says.

If Wiener is right, some areas ripe for conflict are China and India – the world’s two most populous nations – as well as Pakistan, parts of the Middle East and Africa.

So with evolution and demographics against us, what can be done to lessen the chances of war?

Natural selection over millions of years has brought us to this violent point and it won’t be swinging the other way any time soon.

Besides, says Weiner, ‘what drives this stuff ultimately is demographics.’ That may be, but there are certain actions that can be taken to derail our baser human tendencies.

Peace has a better chance in a more interconnected world, where all nations keep tabs on one another. International watchdogs big and small – the United Nations, NATO, Amnesty International and others – are already helping to keep imbalances of power in check.

Population control can reduce conflicts by making sure that every nation has adequate resources.

Such efforts may not bear fruit for generations, but they do provide seeds of hope for a more peaceful 21st century.

Source: Christian Mesquida & Neil Wiener. Data: 1990, showing percentage of young men in the adult male population.


The following piece was tacked on to this chat piece and I found his end sentence telling –

[Nicholas Regush]: ABC News Com. – 1999 Article relating to high-school shootings in U.S.

It comes down to this: it’s impossible to predict whose brain will snap and when it will happen. But one thing is certain: brains will continue to snap, and violence will result.

Though we mostly live cooperatively with others, we also live in a world rife with inequalities, corruption and discord, and one that provokes rivalry, resentment, greed, frustration and hatred in many.

To significantly reduce violence, both in its high-profile excesses and its day-to-day forms, would require extraordinary shifts in our learning and belief systems; major changes in our everyday environments, many of which facilitate violence; and considerable alteration of the flow of information to the brain.

It would require a world with little conflict, and a brain with little potential for directing violence.

This is obviously not going to happen.

Nicholas Regush produces medical features for ABCNEWS. In his weekly column, published Wednesdays, he looks at medical trouble spots, heralds innovative achievements and analyzes health trends that may greatly influence our lives. His latest book is The Breaking Point: Understanding your Potential for Violence.


There is also some work that has been done by Konrad Lorenz that you may find interesting –

‘On Aggression’ by Konrad Lorenz Deutscher Taschenbuch 1963 First English transl. 1966 Reprinted by MJF Books, 306 pp at Barnes & Noble ISBN: 1-56731-107-5

The other ‘new disciplines on the block’ that may be cute to check out are ‘Theoretical Biology’ and ‘Evolutionary Psychology’. It seems that philosophy and ethics are now making formal inroads into what were more scientific areas. It used to be known as ‘academic empire building’ in my days!

Don’t buy it, there are reviews and excerpt of it on the net.



This Correspondence Continued

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