Peter’s Correspondence on the Actual Freedom List
PETER: Hi Gary,
To continue on with our other conversation that arose out of my last rave post ...
PETER: Most often when I write directly to someone about instinctual animal behaviour they get mightily offended or defensive and lapse into patterns we learn from our peers – feeling guilt and shame, unremitting denial or blaming of others or, as a last resort, blindly lashing out seeking revenge. For me, writing on mailing lists has always been an invaluable way of sticking my neck out, beyond ‘my’ normal safe comfort zone, in order to see what reactions and feelings are stirred in me.
GARY: I can’t say I’m very much interested in writing on other mailing lists. I have, however, monitored the various conversations that are going on between you, Vineeto, and Richard to others on various other lists. In day-to-day life, I find I have plenty of opportunity to ‘stick my neck out’ if I so desire and observe the reaction, mine and the other’s. For instance, there was some conversation among co-workers yesterday about belief in psychic events, immortality, and being reached ‘beyond the grave’. I clearly remember believing in all this rubbish. At one point, I even believed a man was contacting me beyond the grave. I believed I had special abilities and powers to discern these ‘messages’ from lost souls. What balderdash! It is fascinating to observe the grip such beliefs have on some people. It was refreshing to contribute my two cents on the matter.
PETER: I was writing to someone the other day who is involved in research into schizophrenia, so I had to do a touch of investigation. Schizophrenics display a wide range of symptoms but the common ones are hallucinations, delusions, blunted emotions, disordered thinking and a withdrawal from reality. Schizophrenia is a psychotic illness, an aberration from what is taken to be normal, but many of the symptoms are common to all humans to varying degrees. The paranoid type of schizophrenia, which usually arises later in life than the other types, is characterized primarily by delusions of persecution and grandeur combined with unrealistic, illogical thinking, often accompanied by hallucinations. It does seem that this later definition fits well with the symptoms exhibited by many fervent spiritual/ religious followers. When I was a spiritual believer I was completely blinded to the fact that in my father’s generation in the West, anyone claiming to be God-on-earth or God-realized would most probably be interred in a mental institution – and yet nowadays, with Eastern religion in fashion, such people are regarded as the wise ones and worshipped as such.
The actualism writings are generally framed in terms of being a search for freedom, peace and happiness and the reason for this are two-fold. Richard’s discovery of the ‘self’-less pure consciousness state was a two stage process, an elimination of his social/ psychological self, or ego, and the final elimination of his instinctual/ psychic self, or soul. Having been Enlightened and then gone beyond it to actuality, his expertise and experience of the delusions of the spiritual world are second to none and his writings reflect that expertise, knowledge and approach. Similarly, Vineeto and I have had extensive insider experience of the world of the spiritual/ religious believer and our writings tend to be slanted towards our expertise. The other even more important aspect of this slant is that it is reasonable to assume that anyone interested in freedom, peace and happiness would be on, or interested in, the spiritual path – the only alternative thus far to remaining ‘normal’.
The actualism writings have broadened in scope somewhat to now include the recent scientific discoveries about the instinctual passions and we have even presented these schematically to make the neurobiological processes even clearer. However there is no reason why the whole approach could not be slanted in terms of freeing oneself from the normal neurotic and psychotic conditions that result from being an instinctually-driven socially- subjugated ‘self’. This is, of course, what is meant by ‘self’-immolation and the resulting elimination of instinctual malice and sorrow.
I liked what I have heard about the success of cognitive therapy, but I have little knowledge in psychology/ psychiatry/ sociology fields. At some stage, no doubt, more will be investigated and written about this particular area of study of the Human Condition. Gradually the emphasis in investigation and dealing with neurosis and psychosis will have to turn from coping and ‘normalizing’ – as in reducing the more extreme symptoms – to finding fixes and cures and thus eventually to seeking elimination – and actualism provides the method to completely eradicate one’s own malice and sorrow.
The next 30 years are going to be fascinating indeed ...
PETER: The underlying instinctual behaviour is identical in all humans of all races and cultures. The only difference in the so-called civilized communities – those with efficient police and legal systems – is that innate human aggression is usually more covert and expressed as constant psychological and psychic warfare, rather than the physical warfare of more primitive hunter-gatherers.
GARY: What you have said here seems right to me. That aggression is natural is rather simple to observe behaviorally and has been proven by Mr. LeDoux and others by producing rage and aggression through the electrical stimulation of the deep brain centers located in the amygdala.
PETER: I had understood Le Doux’ research involved proactive stimulation in mice but only an observation of the circuitry involved in response to stimulus in humans. I may be wrong about this as I have not followed the experiments in medical detail. It is, however, apparent that any experimentation that begins to uncover our genetically-encoded passions will be met with considerable ethical and moral objections – but you are beginning to discover this experientially in your investigations into how ‘you’, as a social identity and instinctual being, are programmed.
GARY: The instinctual basis of much human behaviour, including aggression, is much overlooked. I remember reading about ‘instinct blindness’: that a instinctual behaviour is not recognized as being instinctual because it is so ‘natural’, occurs so readily that it is taken for granted.
PETER: I do like what the scientists are discovering for it accords with my own experience as to how ‘my’ psyche operates and how ‘my’ instinctual passions operate. The only way to discover how your own psyche operates is by observation, awareness and contemplation which is where running the question ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive’ until it becomes a constant undercurrent, is essential. You get to understand the indoctrination program and associated feelings that give substance to ‘you’ as a social identity and then you get to feel the instinctual passions that are ‘you’ as an instinctual being. By undertaking this process of investigation into your own psyche your understanding then becomes experiential – understanding is verified empirical observation.
What I look for in neurobiological research is empirical, verifiable evidence – facts – and what I look for in studies of the human psyche is common-to-all experiences and methods that work – that produce verifiable permanent results. These facts, as opposed to what are theories, postulations or ideals, can then be used to verify my experience and research. The diagrams of the brain’s operation in the instinct section of the web-site came from the input of Richard, Vineeto and myself, based mainly on Le Doux’s work. These diagrams still stand the test of time almost two years after.
GARY: Your observation about the control and suppression of intra-group aggression and its refocusing or projection on to others outside the group or tribe is important and I would say this is accurate.
PETER: In order to fight we need an enemy to fight and if there isn’t an enemy who physically endangers us we make one up in terms of a psychological or psychic enemy. There ain’t no good without bad, there ain’t no right without wrong, there ain’t no sacred without the profane, there ain’t no God without the Devil, there ain’t no heavenly after-life without a hellish earthly life, their ain’t no inner peace without an outer war, there ain’t no spiritual escapist world without a grim real world. It is extraordinary what goes on in one’s own head and the heart that actively prevents the already ever-present peace on earth from being actualized.
There is neither good nor evil in the actual world.
GARY: On a personal note, since I have been doing the demolition work on the social identity, I feel observing the underlying instinctual passions is much easier and clearer. One can clearly see the rise of not only aggression in oneself, but the ‘tender’ passions as well. One can see what these instincts are getting up to while sitting on one’s hands and not feeding into them. One is apt to be in for a shock when tipping upon the savage instincts.
PETER: Exactly as medical researchers have to abandon traditional beliefs and concepts and fly in the face of moral and ethical taboos in order to search for workable permanent cures, so does an actualist. If it were not for this approach, we would be still going to witchdoctors and praying to the Gods to fix our broken bones, stop our infections, and cure our diseases. Many, many people still do go to witchdoctors and healers in so-called modern societies, but when things get serious they usually end up calling for an ambulance.
GARY: You, Peter, have had a very unique and extremely revealing look at the whole process of a religion forming from the ground up. You have seen firsthand the violence connected with religious life and the stupid posturings of the Enlightened Ones. Your turning away from the spiritual rat race and where you are at in life now should be extremely valuable to those who are disillusioned too with the Glory and Glitz of Enlightenment. I too saw the shenanigans that religious people, including myself formerly, get up to, and had enough. I jumped ship from the Quakers and jumped right on the Krishnamurti bandwagon, and the whole process repeated itself. I was naturally aghast when the whole thing repeated itself. My spiritual pride would not allow me to admit that I had been so wrong about many things.
PETER: For me, once I began to read and understand what was on offer in actualism, my pride wouldn’t allow me to remain spiritual any more – it was beneath my dignity to pretend to believe in fairy stories any more. Or to put it plainly, I refused to remain a fool.
PETER: And yet many, many people have had similar experiences with Eastern and Western religions. Many have intimate knowledge of the practical failings of their own religious beliefs to bring peace and happiness and yet they refuse to abandon their hope, faith and trust.
GARY: Given the rudimentary animal instincts that are the basis for ‘being’ or ‘Being’, and the intractability of the belief that these instincts are impossible to eliminate, it is not surprising that hope, faith and trust have such a strong grip on human beings.
PETER: Courage and intelligence has a way of eventually winning out over brute fear and superstition – a brief view of the facts of history attests to this. We don’t live in caves and hunt like animals anymore, we just instinctually act as if we do because that is the way we have been programmed to act. It is if of no use at all to feel guilt or shame about this genetic programming, or feel resentful or be cynically embittered about one’s lot in life – the situation we find ourselves in calls for an unfettered investigation and the instigation of sensible action such that we can become free of this condition we are all inevitably born into.
GARY: One who has freed him or herself from these instincts is branded a madman (woman).
PETER: I always regarded this classification, based on what society takes to be normal human behaviour, as yet another verification that Richard was indeed free of instinctual malice and sorrow. I did, however, read his words very attentively until I really understood what he was saying and closely observe his behaviour in order to gain the confidence to ascertain for myself the practicalities of living without malice and sorrow.
PETER: My experiences were very similar to millions of the so-called baby boomers who got into Eastern religion – not particularly special nor unique. I remember when I met Richard I was very interested in what qualities he had that I didn’t. What became increasingly obvious was that it was the genuine absence of any malice and sorrow whatsoever that was the yawning gap between him and me. All my other comparisons and objections as to me being not good enough, not clever enough, etc. eventually faded in the face of the evidence as to how he actually was. He is the genuine article, which is something you may want to check out for yourself one day.
GARY: While I might like to check that out, the distances involved with the financial realities of long-distance travel being what they are hardly makes it practical. There is still doubt in my mind that there is such a thing as a ‘general article’, I must say. And given what I have said previously, that should not be surprising. Whether Richard is the genuine article or not seems to be besides the point, however. The real point for me is whether I myself am eliminating instinctual malice and sorrow in myself and becoming virtually or (someday) actually free from the Human Condition. That there is one who is actually free and others who are virtually free is a great encouragement to continue with the method.
Writing on this list is a great encouragement. However, the real point for me is whether this method is working for me, whether it is producing what is on offer – happiness and harmlessness. However actually or virtually free someone else may be, it does me no good unless I am reaping the rewards of the method.
PETER: I like what you wrote. I remember having exactly the same attitude. Very early on, after having established a prima-facie case that actualism made sense and was worth a whole-hearted go, I wanted to find out for myself if what Richard was saying was true, as in factual, and whether using the method would work, as in bring about actual change. Spurred on by my early successes I then wanted to write of my experiences, investigations and findings so as to put it on record for others to read and assess for themselves. At the time of writing my Journal I stopped seeing Richard on a regular basis and did a lot of investigating, sorting out, and making sense of the human condition as it manifested as ‘me’.
I also like that you find writing on the list to be a great encouragement. I have had countless hours of discussions with Richard and especially with my companion Vineeto, and these discussions gave me great encouragement, verification, and confidence to push on beyond what is considered safe and sane. I was emboldened to go even further with my own explorations and discoveries to the point where they became experiential understandings. While my touchstone was always my own pure consciousness experiences, having others to check things out with is invaluable.
Well Gary, I’ve got into one of my wanderings again – but these investigations and discoveries are such fun. So much for following a thread, but these investigations are such that all of our beliefs, morals and ethics have to be questioned and replaced with sensibility, and we have to become aware of all of our precious feelings and instinctual passions in action so that we can examine and investigate and find out how they function. As such, a freewheeling, unregulated discussion forum such as this is an imperative if we are to finally break free of the myths of good and evil and the fantasies of Gods and Devils.
GARY: There is a matter I am a bit confused on. It is this: if one rejects all belief in spirituality and religion, rejects all belief in a metaphysical realm or an immortal soul, then that makes one an atheist, does it not? Richard has said that he is a dyed-in-the-wool (words mine) atheist. I feel that I am an atheist now too. Yet atheism is a belief, is it not?
PETER: In a God-steeped, superstition-ridden Humanity, atheism is universally regarded as denial or disbelief –
Thus by this definition, the existence of God or gods is held to be true, as in factual, and an atheist is someone who denies or disbelieves this truth. The waters get even murkier if we check out the definition of belief –
So according to Humanity’s definition, an atheist is someone who is in denial of a truth or someone who has no trust, confidence, faith or mental acceptance of a universally-accepted truth.
Yet the fact is there is no God, nor are there gods – the whole notion of a spiritual world is but a elaborate and fear-ridden escapist fairy tale, passed on from generation to generation to explain the evil they will encounter in the world and pre-prepare them with the tradition escapist fantasy.
To understand this fully takes an enormous amount of de-programming, and I remember only last year clearly realizing with a jolt that the belief in God and gods was not only nonsense but puerile nonsense, as in nothing other than a childish fairy tale of the ilk of Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, Goblins and the like.
GARY: If belief, any belief, is the problem, then what good does it do to discard one system of belief and pick up another?
PETER: None at all, for holding any belief is nonsensical. I remember even as a teenager in a Christian society the idea of a white-bearded God sitting on a cloud and overseeing all this was pretty silly to me. And as for sending his Son down so he could do a few miracles, start a Religion, be nailed to a cross, and after a few days go back up to sit alongside Dad and see how it works out ...! I remember thinking, if there was a God, how come he made the mess in the first place, and if he was responsible for this mess, why the hell didn’t he just come down and sort it out. Despite this early discarding of one belief some 25 years later I was shocked one night to discover I had merely taken another –
GARY: It seems that by saying one is an atheist, one is adopting a sort of identity all over again, discarding one identity and taking up another.
PETER: Only if you are ‘someone who denies or disbelieves the existence of God or gods’ and then you are clearly taking an anti stance, involved in belief disputes, claiming you are right and others are wrong, etc. To stop being a believer, only to become a disbeliever, is still to be an identity, as you rightly point out. The only way to step out of this cycle is to discover what is factual and to discard what is merely belief. The eventual aim of this investigation is to cease the habitual and ingrained act of believing – of being a believer. This process does take time, effort, incessant enquiry and an unparalleled degree of integrity, patience and perseverance. To imbibe and learn something while young is an automatic process – the process of unlearning is another ball game entirely.
A bit I wrote at the time I was pondering similar issues may be relevant to this discussion –
The last realization came when I fully understood and directly experienced that there is no God, or gods, in a PCE and that Richard experienced this as an ongoing permanent experience. Then atheism is neither a belief nor a disbelief, but an acknowledgement of fact.
GARY: This is sort of the same conundrum that I have with actualism. If one takes it up as a sort of banner or identity to hide behind, then one is not eliminating the identity and discovering the actual, one is adopting it as a ‘clip-on’ to one’s belief system, as you have said.
PETER: I noticed that I started to bring the terms actualism and actualist to the forefront of my writings recently and this coincided with realizing that actualism is now firmly launched in the world as a third alternative and is spread by word of mouth, it has already developed a life of its own as interest, controversy and debate is growing exponentially.
There have already been many objections of the petty put-down of ‘isms’ type usually based on the chronic human obsession with either blindly following authority or angrily rebelling against authority.
So from this definition, actualism is a form of practice having a distinctive character – as in being neither materialism nor spiritualism but something new in human experience. It is neither doctrine nor theory but a practice, as in utilizing a method or undertaking a process.
I find it most useful to use the label actualist as a reminder that what I am practicing has a distinctive character – it is unusual, not common, different, extraordinary, rare. This is not a chest-puffing, identity-bloating exercise but a simple statement of fact. I am not a materialist, I am not a spiritualist, I am neither a believer nor am I a disbeliever – I am an actualist, should I ever be asked for a label, which is not very often.
GARY: So, I’m not sure where that leaves one. Is one an atheist or not? Does it matter? Maybe this issue is not important. While I do not belief in God or Truth, I see plenty of evidence of the foothold these beliefs have in my psyche. Just for instance, the word ‘God’ slips out in my speech once in awhile, as in saying ‘For God’s sake’, ‘God Almighty’, etc, etc. I am wondering what it is about the psyche of human beings that inclines them toward belief in a spiritual or supernatural realm. It just occurred to me as I was writing this that, of course, there is a direct correlation between the psyche and God. If one regards oneself as a psyche, that one’s psyche has a substantiality and enduring nature, then one is identifying oneself as a being. It is a short and rather natural jump to worship and reverence of a supernatural Being, a Creator God or Gods.
PETER: It is only by asking questions like these with the intent to find answers, firstly as an understanding and then experientially, that you can make your own discoveries. actualism is a process that is specifically designed to facilitate an ongoing investigation into your own psyche. This is why actualism is not a belief, doctrine or theory and anyone treating it as such is missing out on the opportunity of their lifetime to discover what is actual in a world awash with beliefs, doctrines, theories, ideologies, truths, faiths, opinions, viewpoints and dimwitticisms .
What are significant questions, beliefs, passions and potential stumbling blocks for you will vary from what were mine or others’ only because of differing social programming and life experiences. The Library section of the web-site is specifically aimed at cataloguing a range of questions and discussions by topic and issue as an aid for anyone daring enough to question their cherished beliefs.
As for ‘what it is about the psyche of human beings that inclines them toward belief in a spiritual or supernatural realm’, most people seem to miss the fact that ‘I’ am a psychological and psychic entity or spirit, and as such desperately believe in the fairy tales of a spiritual world, or a world in which spirits dwell. It is interesting to note that this belief in a spirit-ual world most usually gets stronger and more impassioned the closer the person is to the end of their life.
PETER: Yep. Once anyone accepts that that ‘you can’t change human nature’ there are only two alternatives – stay normal and instinctually battle it out for survival in grim reality or turn away from reality and enter into an inner imaginary greater Reality of one’s own making.
GARY: If one is living in the actual, if one has a continuous and direct experience of the actual, then one is accused of being deluded, being insane. Sometimes such a person is regarded as being extremely dangerous, extremely subversive. For some reason, one who is gay and blithesome is a great threat to people who live in Reality. Such a one either becomes the but of jokes, scorned by so-called normal people, or dismissed as a lunatic. One of the basic reasons for this is that one who is actually free cannot be controlled by the herd.
PETER: It is serendipitous that the discovery of actualism as a tried and tested process for becoming free of the human condition has coincided with the development of the World Wide Web. The words describing this process can be read by anyone, anywhere, anytime and they are freely available for anyone to make of them what they will. In a free-wheeling uncensored forum such as this mailing list any objections, doubts, questions, fears, concerns, discoveries, benefits and successes are freely available for anyone to make of them what they will. The other, not insignificant, advantage is that any derision, scorn or anger can only be expressed in words and not in actions.
GARY: It occurs to me in this context to comment on the similarity between standard medical questioning and psychiatric interviewing for diagnosis and the techniques developed by Inquisitors during the Spanish Inquisition. Both are a narrow search for deviancy from the norm. The discovery of this deviancy by the questioner or interviewer lends credence or reality to the diagnosis which then becomes a static way of describing a living, breathing human being. People carry these diagnoses throughout their life. The diagnoses are assumed to have an independent reality and verifiability that often they do not, as revealed by research that shows an amazing lack of concordance between the diagnoses arrived at by independent interviewers.
PETER: The best way to discover which particular issues, beliefs, events or circumstances trigger you to be angry at others or cause you to be resentful or despairing is to make your own investigations rather than rely on the varying diagnosis, fashionable theories or downright guesses of others who are similarly afflicted by instinctual passions. ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive’ is a method of ‘self’-investigation – ‘a psychic search and destroy mission’ as I once termed it.
PETER: The more pragmatic practitioners of psychology and psychiatry freely admit that the aim of any analysis and treatment is to return their patients to normally neurotic, such that they can reasonably function within the range of limits set by society’s laws and regulations. Thus the aim is to reduce paranoia to ‘normal’ fear, to return violent behaviour to ‘normal’ aggression and to return manic depression to ‘normal’ sadness. In extreme cases, the previous practice of incarceration in straight jackets has been replaced by incarceration in chemical straightjackets.
GARY: Much of psychiatry, psychology, and social work are really very conservative activities, concerned with dealing with extreme aberrations and returning the patient or client to ‘normality’ as soon as possible. As most social work students soon find out, much of their practice as social workers is going to be concerned with social control issues. As a social worker, you become a representative of so-called ‘normal’ society to your clients. You embody the time-honored ethics, values, and mores of the greater society, the society that subsidizes you by giving you employment. Were you not to represent these mores and values, you would not long find yourself employed in the field. Mental health work, I find, is extremely controlling and paternalistic. I have often been amazed at how condescending mental health workers, including myself, are towards their clients. While I can think of worse ways to make a living, there is a great deal about it that I am dissatisfied with. In the paragraph you wrote above, I think you have hit on why these activities do not work – they attempt to return the suffering client or patient to the pattern of normality valued by the society, the same pattern of normality that has produced the casualties in the first place. It is like treating war neuroses behind the lines in a tidy field hospital and then immediately returning your cured charges to the front lines. Changing the pattern of society, as the social engineers and politicians would have us do, would not work because we are that pattern. We are violent. We are aggressive. We are fearful and acquisitive, etc, etc.
PETER: Many professions or occupations have an idealistic impassioned undercurrent. I was trained as an architect and was imbued with the notion that good and pure architecture can ennoble the human spirit and thus change the world. I recently saw a comment in an architectural magazine that said ‘architecture challenges the belief that things were better in the old days’. The amazing thing is that now that I have stripped away all the emotion, passion and belief that surrounds my work it becomes the pragmatic, practical business that it is. I still do the best I can to design a building that suits the locality, the particular site, the owners needs, that is value for money and that looks good. I now do the same job, but it is totally different because there is no ‘me’ to stuff up the enjoyment of doing it or to battle others to do it ‘my’ way, as though ‘my creativity’ was of paramount importance.
But that is just how it is for me. There are no rules, or rights and wrongs in actualism – others may find they want to change jobs or do something different. It is the same with my decision to find a companion to prove that I could live with at least one other person in peace and harmony as a starting point to test out whether the process worked or not. Others may prefer to live by themselves, others will be happy to not change their existing circumstances; others may even change partners, or whatever.
PETER: Curiously, the therapy that seems to be the most effective is what is known as cognitive therapy – a very pragmatic approach to reducing fears and phobias in particular.
GARY: I have had a bit of experience with what is called cognitive or cognitive-behavioural therapy, and it does work. But I have the same reservations about it that I have about most ‘healing’ activities. It is not radical enough. It is my opinion that it is not radical at all. It only seeks to help the patient reduce or diminish emotions to ‘normal’, rather than eliminate them totally. As an approach, I feel it is an over-intellectualized approach to life.
It too, like most systems of therapy, is concerned with helping the sufferer fit into the warp and weave of society, to be able to adjust and cope. While these are certainly worthwhile activities and restore some people to a level of functioning that is much better than what they had before, it does not go far enough. I think the keyword in all this is reducing. Perhaps in actualism some will settle for the intermediate goal of reducing their fears and phobias, but they may be afraid to advance to extinction in toto.
PETER: As I have directly observed in quite a few people, even a little bit of actualism is far superior to none at all. It does work and it is entirely up to each person if they want to try it, at what pace they want to go and how deeply they want to go with the process.
PETER: The Freudian approach to therapy is summarized in the quote from your last post –
This approach to therapy was widely used in some spiritual groups, most notably the Rajneeshees, and has proved a spectacular failure, as it has in the real world. Many disciples and followers are still undergoing therapy after 20 years or more and the only ones who seemingly benefit are the therapists themselves. Most of the Rajneesh therapies now blatantly aim to do nothing other than whip up the emotions via discharge, venting or tension-release, giving the ventor a chemical rush that can induce temporary feelings of gratitude, euphoria or unconditional love. Many spiritual people believe that this emotional game-playing has meant they have studied the human psyche in operation and received some cure or healing, whereas they have but scratched the surface of their psyche – if at all.
GARY: Yes. I was watching a program on TV recently about rage in America. There was a section of the program about a married couple where the woman was an inveterate ‘rage-aholic’ and had terribly abused her husband over and over again. Their marriage was on the rocks and, in desperation, she admitted herself to a rage treatment center based on the alcoholism treatment model. She underwent intensive therapy of all sorts, group and individual, to learn how to deal with her anger. On ‘family day’, hubby came to the center and they sat face to face in front of the other patients and had a prepared list of their long-suppressed gripes, resentments, and grievances to confront one another with. This done, they weepily embraced one another and vowed not to repeat the same patterns that had led to such destruction in their relationship. This section of the program was a rather characteristic portrayal of standard anger treatment: the intense emotional ‘catharsis’ coupled with cognitive-behavioral techniques for ‘anger management’. Suffice it to say, I was rather skeptical of the whole approach. It often satisfies the insurance companies and the treatment industry to have such expensive treatments for anger, a common human problem. Whether or not they are effective, is another matter. It would be interesting to follow up the participants in this treatment and see if there are really any long-term gains.
PETER: In my later years as a Rajneeshee I plunged head-on into expressive type therapies and found them lacking in substance. I was also shocked soon after to find myself overcome by anger one day and started to be aware that all of my spiritual colleagues suffered from similar slippages. Not only did these type of therapies lack substance but they simply did not work long term to alleviate anger or sorrow. There was a particular group who followed the ‘I am all right as I am’ path of ‘self’-love and these people had no qualms at all about expressing their anger at others, nor about being sad and spreading their sorrow to others.
Suppression doesn’t work, emoting doesn’t work, nor does transcendence; otherwise there would be peace on earth by now.
PETER: An extraordinary freedom comes when any memory recall begins to be free of ‘my’ psychological and psychic interpretations, when past memories become free of any emotional pains or colourings, whatsoever. This lack of emotional memories is a clear sign of ‘my’ demise, a practical example of the fact that ‘I’ have no past existence other than as psychological and psychic memories. It is experiential down to earth evidence that ‘I’ am an illusion – whose days are numbered.
GARY: I wonder if you could tell me a little more, personally, about what has happened as (you say) ‘past memories become free of any emotional pains or colourings, whatsoever’. There are certain things that have happened to ‘me’ that used to have a great deal of emotion attached to them. I feel in some respects that there has been a great withdrawal or elimination of emotion from some of these areas. I am a bit puzzled over whether this is a clear sign of ‘my’ demise or just a ‘natural process of healing’, as for instance with age or maturity. In other words, if ‘I’ have no past existence at all, then ‘I’ have no emotional memories whatsoever. ‘I’ am still very much in evidence, as evidenced by ‘my’ emotional reactions. No emotions = no reactions. What has happened to your past memories?
PETER: I have few occasions to recall any events in the past unless I am twigged to recall an experience, as in writing to you for example. Then my memory of an event is of the matter of fact type without any emotional content such as embarrassment, guilt, shame, pride, anger or angst. You may have noticed that I often revert to posting something out of my journal when replying to you because it was written fresh after the initial tumultuous stages of demolishing my social and instinctual identity. I could not write my journal now, firstly because my recall would not be as accurate now as it was when I wrote it and secondly because I could not describe the experiences as the passionate tumultuous events they were.
This lack of emotional past memories is a most curious phenomenon and I don’t have a complete hindsight explanation for it at the moment. It is one of the few times I have been stuck for words that give a complete description, for it is something that is still in process. If I had to describe it in neuro-biological terms, it is as though some circuitry that used to operate doesn’t operate anymore. To use a simile, it is a bit like looking at a movie without the emotional dramatic soundtrack. It is not that past memories belong to someone else as though I have become a new identity or have become reborn. Nor is it that I am denying that there were times when I was malicious, angry, sad, manipulative or selfish, it is just as though this was some weird emotional turmoil that was overlaid over the actual events. It would be all a joke except for the fact that this overlay caused me not only to suffer but also to harm others. Even with this understanding of the harm I have done, there is no guilt associated with this because this is what it is to be born an instinctual human being and this awareness of harming others provided the fuel for me to bring an end to these passions.
Just to make it clear that this process has yet to come to a completion, but I am attempting to describe as accurately as possible what has happened to my past memories. I suspect I am becoming acclimatized to living without the past emotional memories and future emotional worries that give substance to ‘me’ as a psychological social identity and as a psychic instinctual being. I had a glimpse some months ago of the enormity of living in the permanent ‘self’-less state that Richard does – a glimpse of Actual Freedom. This was not a PCE which is a temporary state but a glimpse of the permanent state which is quite a different experience for there is no back door, no turning back and no phoenix new identity to arise from the ashes. There is no doubt that anyone would need sufficient preparation and the practical assurance of acclimatization to living without a social identity and being bereft of any emotional defence and attack system whatsoever.
PETER: I remember this being a wonderful moment when I finally realized I was becoming free of having a social conscience where I was continually beholden to others’ moral and ethical judgements. It is obvious, in hindsight, that this only happened with the knowledge and experience that I was becoming harmless to others around me and thus realized, with confidence and surety, that their assessments were biased and false.
GARY: It is exciting to see that one is becoming harmless to the others around one. My partner reiterated to me recently that she feels I have become much more good natured and easy going lately, much easier to be around. I ascribe this change to my investigations into ‘me’ using the actualism method of becoming happy and harmless.
PETER: Yes, the only way to be happy is to be harmless. I went through many years where I adopted a spiritual ‘holier than thou’ identity in which case it is always someone else who was evil or ignorant or responsible for my sorrow or anger. I was in total denial of my own manipulative feelings and actions, my own anger and resentment and my own part in conflicts and disagreements. It was only when I started to take notice of the occasional bleed-throughs of malice that I was forced to do something about it. For me being able to live peacefully and harmoniously with my fellow human beings is the most powerful motivation in taking on actualism and in seeing the process through to the end.
Being totally ‘self’-less is the only authentic way to be unselfish.
PETER: Once I got over my trying to change other people stage, I eventually woke up to the fact that no-one knew I was a traitor to the cause of human suffering. I hadn’t grown a big sign on my forehead saying ‘Beware! actualist in Process’ – I could still function in the world despite the turmoil my discoveries often produced. And no matter what went on inside me during the day, the sun still rose the next morning and I still had coffee and toast for breakfast. It’s often useful to remember that whatever is going on in this process, no matter how weird, is only going on in your head and your heart.
GARY: The anxiety that I described which led to your observation here has subsided somewhat. Each day is fresh opportunity to discover and observe oneself in action, in the world of people and events, both shaping and being shaped by those people and events. I think the extreme anxiety I experienced recently was due to another layer of ‘me’ being exposed and eliminated and had much to do with my severing the connection with A.A. and my alcoholic identity. Indeed, just the questioning of all I had taken in to be true of myself occasioned tremendous fear and anxiety. But in the wake of these bouts of anxiety a new confidence has been born.
PETER: You may have noticed that the real changes go on beneath the surface as it were, and it is only after the event that it is possible to make sense of what happened when that particular investigation, discovery or realization has run its course. This is why I could only make a report in progress about the question you asked about past memories whereas I can report accurately out of my own experience on previous aspects of the process.
PETER: Humanity is genetically/ instinctually and historically/ socially bound to consist of separate feuding tribes and families and religions. You only have to observe the fierce ongoing resistance to any attempts to break the stranglehold this tribal conditioning has on human beings. The blind, senseless resistance to the ‘globalization’ of trade, commerce, communications, language and culture is fascinating to watch. A united Europe is now a faded post-war dream, as every tin pot region seeks autonomy and independence, every religious/ spiritual group declares their right to be different, and groups desperately seek to preserve their cultural roots, traditions, language, beliefs, superstitions, sacred places, buildings and holy relics. The only way to regard, and treat, others as fellow human beings is to rid yourself of all this rubbish – a process of ‘self’-diminishing that can, if undertaken with pure intent, lead to ‘self’-immolation.
GARY: That the way to an Actual Freedom consists in a process of brain engineering/ re-engineering is given credence not only by Richard’s findings but also neurological findings of the amazing plasticity of the nervous system and human brain.
The brain adapts not only to changes in the environment in response to certain types of stimulation but also changes in behavior. In other words, when I become more happy and harmless, the changes in my behavior towards others is actually producing further changes in my brain, which then leads to further changes in my behavior, etc, etc, through a continuous feedback-loop. While I am sure this may be hotly debated by some, I think we are seeing that the human brain is capable of some amazing adaptations and rearrangements, all of which signal the plasticity of the nervous system.
PETER: The most amazing thing about the human species is that it is equipped with a brain that is uniquely capable of studying and understanding its own operation. This study is in its infancy in understanding the electro-chemical circuitry but this same capacity makes it possible for you and I to make our own studies of how we have been genetically and socially programmed, compare notes and share our insights and discoveries. Understanding this amazing ability, and experiencing it in action, is to experience that this actual physical universe is far more magical and fantastic than any ‘self’-centred paltry imagination can conceive or any ‘self’-centred inflamed passion can perceive.
What is actual is beyond belief and beyond imagination.
PETER: The realizations I had about this issue was triggered in meeting my son one day and clearly seeing that many of ‘his’ beliefs, attitudes, opinions and mannerisms were ‘mine’ and further how those that I regarded and cherished as ‘mine’ were really those that were passed on to me from my father. As Pink Floyd sang – ‘just another brick in the wall’ – a wall that stretches unbroken back into the mists of time. And as an instinctual animal I am but one of billions of blind nature’s cannon fodder in the battle for survival of the species, the product of my father’s sperm and I had but one purpose – my primordial sperm-spreading purpose in seeding an egg so as to reproduce yet another combatant in this senseless passionate struggle.
The sheer power of realizations such as these can lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair which can lead to ‘dark night of the soul’ experiences with their flip side ‘I’ve seen the Light’ experiences. Sometimes the path to freedom can feel like a tightrope walking act as the very ground of one’s social identity and instinctual being starts to shimmer, shake and, sometimes, even disappear temporarily. The cute thing is when it does disappear temporarily, suddenly there is a pure consciousness experience; suddenly all is perfect and pure, pristine and peaceful as the storm of emotions and neuroses that was ‘me’, just a moment ago, disappears.
GARY: Yes, part of the thrilling aspect of going into all this is the sense that someone is ‘getting somewhere’, and the ‘somewhere’ is actually nowhere at all. It is always here right now where you and I are. When one’s fevered sense of being ceases temporarily, there is surcease from the relentless battle for survival, an end to fear and passionate imagination. Everything is perfectly in its place. Fortunately or unfortunately, as the case may be, these experiences are fleeting, and the very fleetingness spurs one on to find a way to experience this again and again...
PETER: An actualist needs to experience several PCEs so as to confirm, by direct sensuous experience of the actual world, that it is possible to step out of one’s ‘self’ and live outside of Humanity. As such, these PCEs are the essential guide, fuelling the confidence and genuine intent of one’s autonomous pursuit of Actual Freedom.
But given that this is a brand new process it is essential to be wary of the traps of lapsing back into the old spiritual well-worn patterns. Richard pasted a bit out of my journal recently about a period I passed through where the lust for power and Guru-ship instinctually kicked in. As I remember it, it was soon after this that I realized that I was in danger of lapsing into being an experience-junkie as is common with spiritual people. I remember going through months and months wanting an experience that would get me out of here, be a sign, or give me relief from boredom, frustration, fear or whatever other feeling was dominant at the time. Pure consciousness experiences are not ‘mine’ to claim, they serve only to be a guide for what is possible 24 hrs. a day, everyday – upon ‘my’ demise. It is the relentless, incessant work done that brings an end to malice and sorrow, not the chasing of experiences or the experience itself. . PCEs will sneak up on you anyway, and then the important thing is to mine them for information and to remember the experience afterwards. What I would do is take notes during a PCE to aid my memory afterwards when I returned to ‘normal’ afterwards.
Most, if not all, people have had PCEs in their life but they become quickly forgotten for, being ‘self’-less experiences, they leave no emotional memory. Others quickly possess the experience as there own as their emotions flood in and the experience becomes one of passionate awe and imaginary Oneness, rather than one of fascinating wonder and sensuous intimacy.
Some people have had PCEs after lengthy periods of discussion with Richard or by intently reading his words but then they proceed to dismiss the experience and drop their interest in actualism quickly when they find out that they have to do something. To abandon their cherished beliefs and precious pride, turn around 180 degrees and do some bloody hard work in order to experience the 24 hrs. a day living of it.
This is clear evidence that having and remembering PCEs is vital as a taste of what is possible, but then it is what you do with the knowledge gleaned from the experiences, the amount of work and the intensity of effort that you do between the experiences that frees you from the human condition.
You earn your own freedom and autonomy by your own efforts and by tapping into pure intent – it would be a perversity if it were any other way.
GARY: There is something that I have been realizing recently and, while it may seem to be rather obvious to some, I thought I would comment on it here while it is still fresh in my mind.
PETER: I wouldn’t worry that you are commenting on the obvious, otherwise we would have little to talk about and discuss. It takes incessant ‘self’-observation, discussion, reading, enquiry and investigation to wade through what is commonly accepted as true or self-evident in order to discover what is obvious as in factual, tangible, palpable, sensible and brings results. For the pioneers in this process, the amount of de-programming is immense and we have to deal not only with eliminating our own fears and passions but the atavistic fears and passions of the whole of Humanity. Being a pioneer in any process is daring enough but being a pioneer in one that flies in the face of all that human beings hold dear is not for the feint of heart. So please comment on the obvious – you will get nothing but encouragement from me.
GARY: In your next post to me (which I have not yet got around to responding to), you made the following observation:
Recently it occurred to me that is exactly what happens to make life such a grim business. I was musing on why human beings are in such psychological and psychic warfare with each other, something you also commented on in the previous post. I was wondering why I feel so much strain each day, strain to do the ‘right thing’, to accomplish, to ‘succeed’. Life, which can be so enjoyable, so free and easy, under other circumstances, ordinarily becomes for ‘me’ a grim battle to survive. There is a striving and a strain introduced into the whole business of life which is really totally unnecessary. On the days that I go to work, I ordinarily feel this strain as a constant undercurrent to my activities. I am constantly weighting my actions, thinking about what I ‘should’ be doing, and how what I am actually doing is measuring up to this internal standard of what I ‘should’ be doing. I am sure this sounds quite neurotic, but perhaps some readers here may identity with this. And I really think what it amounts to is that there is this unceasing instinctual battle going on which causes one to never be quite satisfied, to always being struggling, striving, accomplishing, etc. Sometimes I stop and look around me at other human beings scurrying around, always in a hurry to get somewhere, always driven on by some force, whether it be economic, social, or whatever. So many people so obviously unhappy with their lives. And I am unhappy with my life if I persist in living out my life as this ceaseless struggle, this constant battle. I guess what I am trying to point to is the striving and the strain introduced into life when the instincts are operative. Then fear rules the roost, rather than intelligence and sensibility.
PETER: Yes and many spiritual people have come to this point of realization as well, which is why they are seduced into following the traditional path of leaving the real world and turning away to live in ashrams, monasteries or sanghas. Others spend increasing time in meditation, doing yoga, going in, etc. or some other form of cop-out. The pertinent difference between actualism and spiritualism is that an actualist’s intent is to step out of both worlds – both the illusionary grim reality and the delusionary sugar-coated Reality and leave all identity behind. This is why it is important to eliminate all of the instinctual passions – both the savage and the tender passions, lest one ends up living in an imagined state of freedom rather than being actually free of malice and sorrow. It is useful to keep in mind that Richard became Enlightened after less than two years of effort, whereas it took him eleven years to eliminate the tender passions that gave credence to his new grand identity. Even when all identity collapsed he went through a considerable period of acclimatization and adjustment – after all, being the only human living in the actual world was quite a shock to the system.
PETER: Becoming free of the human condition means what it means. To step out of Humanity is to no longer be a member of any exclusive club, to hold no truths as sacred or holy, to cherish no beliefs, to have no precious feelings, to nurse no malice or sorrow in one’s bosom.
GARY: I had a long talk with my partner, explaining that I am no longer attending AA and my reasons for not doing so. It was an opportunity to explain the things that I am doing and the changes that are occurring. I found that she understood exactly why I no longer wish to attend AA and why I feel that to continue to do so is holding me down. She said that she honestly could never see me drinking again. She never knew me when I was drinking and taking drugs, we having met while I was already off drugs and alcohol. AA is an exclusive club, but I never saw that before because I wanted to belong to a club; I felt I needed it. Yesterday I stepped into the AA club in the town where I work to speak for awhile with a client who works there. I have not been back there for quite awhile. I felt apprehensive about going in there. It felt a bit like walking into the Lion’s Den. AA is so spiritual, through and through, and it is impossible for me now to conform to any kind of spiritual viewpoint. It is interesting that in the United States, our state courts and appeals courts have consistently upheld the legal finding that AA is a religious organization and that to force people to attend AA, as is frequently done with people who are prison inmates or on probation in the legal system, violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of our Constitution (pertaining to the separation between church and state) and is hence unconstitutional. Yet attendance at AA is the sacred cow of our alcoholism and drug treatment system. There is little or nothing else on offer here but the spiritual Pabulum of the 12-step programs.
PETER: When I was a Rajneeshee, it was well accepted that therapists were in an ideal position to be recruiting agents for the religion – there are none more susceptible to indoctrination into whatever church or faith than the vulnerable and despairing. The compassion business is good business for God and His or Her little helpers.
PETER: It took me 17 years of exploration on the so-called spiritual path to finally understand, acknowledge, and act upon, the fact that spiritualism was nothing other than ‘Olde-Time Religion’. Every pundit, teacher or follower I met or group I was in felt they were unique or that they were specially ‘chosen’ in having the truth of their existence revealed to them personally. Spiritual revelations and experiences are music to ‘me’, as soul, and inevitably lead to ‘self’-ish introspection and an increased detachment from actuality.
GARY: My experience of religious and spiritual groups was just that it was more of the same-same in human affairs and interactions: in other words, the same people vying for position and power, the same coercion by the group on how to think and behave, the same dynamics of leader-follower, etc. I don’t know now what I thought would be different. Religion promises but does not deliver. I wanted at one point to immerse myself in a monastery where my life would be molded and controlled for me by others.
The process in the religious/ spiritual world of subjecting oneself to a Power or Powers and the earthly representatives of that power has its analogy in the work world with its hierarchy and office politics.
PETER: There are generally two archetypes on the spiritual path – those who devotedly follow and those who desperately seek. I was very content with being a devoted follower of a Guru until the death of my son got me off my bum and made me into a seeker. The timing was serendipitous for soon after my son’s death my Guru died and I witnessed first-hand the inevitable formation of yet another dead-God-man religion. And I clearly saw that spiritual people are nothing other than normal people – it’s just that they tend to be a bit sillier for they have gone off into la la land.
PETER: All religion is founded on fear and there is nothing like whipping up a bit of persecution to rally the faithful to protect the faith. <snip>
GARY: I am pretty clear about religion being founded on fear. What I have observed in myself is that any inclination to reach beyond what is palpable and physical into some imaginary realm or seek Divine help, in other words, any religious element arising in the mind is always related to an underlying fear. One can easily observe fear and what goes on with it in one’s life. What is not entirely clear to me is that identity in any form has been causing all the mischief in the human world down through the ages. Of course, it follows that identity is founded on the instincts, the rudimentary sense of being. But there is something about it that I cannot quite make the connection. I think I shall have to continue to investigate this ‘to death’, so to speak, in order to see it more clearly.
PETER: Or this could be an investigation to make the next time you have a PCE. In the midst of purity and perfection have a good look around and see what you find out about what it means to be an identity.
GARY: It would follow from this that whenever there is conflict with other human beings, and I don’t mean a mere difference of opinion or different way of looking at things, but an active sense of being at each other’s throats, identity and instinct must be behind it. These are fascinating opportunities to investigate into in order to understand what makes one tick as human being.
PETER: Differences of opinion and different way of looking at things are conflicts. I don’t have any differences of opinion with, or different way of looking at things than Vineeto – which is why we live together in peace and harmony.
GARY: Recently, we had an election in the USA, and the results of that election are being hotly debated and legally challenged by the political aspirants. The entire thing seems so volatile to me. Passions are running high here. There were clips on the tele of Republicans storming the polling places where the votes were being recounted. Again in all this we come back to the powder keg of passionate feeling, whether it be political loyalties or for a particular religion or sect. it is all productive of misery and mayhem.
PETER: Democracy seems the best system so far invented to give some order to the running of a country. It is politics that sucks for it is based upon adversarial ideological conflict.
GARY: One is wise to side-step passionate feeling in any form.
PETER: Just an observation that may be useful. Be wary for the words wise and wisdom are loaded with emotive meanings. It is common for wise men to end up living in caves or ivory towers, or else sprouting their wisdom from podiums and making a living selling it to others. When I first came across Richard I naturally saw him as a wise man until I realized he was speaking facts and actuality, not wisdom, truth and spirituality. actualism is not about being wise and there is no wisdom in actualism.
PETER: Having a good clear-eyed look at Humanity is an essential aspect of actualism for ‘I’ am Humanity and Humanity is ‘me’. When it becomes so blatantly obvious that it is human beings stubbornly maintaining and faithfully defending their sacred religious/ spiritual beliefs who cause such horrendous wars and conflicts in the world, it behoves you to rid yourself of every last skerrick of such beliefs – provided you are interested in peace on earth, that is.
GARY: I am not sure it all comes down to defending religious beliefs. I am not anti-religion. I do not want to be anti anything. Were I to take up a militant atheism that gets at the throats of religious people, it would be having another axe to grind, I would be committing the same mistake the religious folks do.
PETER: I found that I went through a stage of being appalled at the extent of evil disguised as goodness that existed in the spiritual/ religious world. I went through a stage of being angry at the Gurus and God-men for many were not so deluded that they did not know what they were doing. Other people I know of also went through this stage but it may well not happen to you.
GARY: It is belief, spurred by the sense of identity and being, and that in turn is related to instincts, that seems to be the culprit. Anything that human beings latch on to with ‘religious’ devotion is a potential source of warfare and violence, and that is true of political parties, nationalism (obviously), race, gender, etc., etc. It all seems to boil down again to identity, that sense of ‘me’, that this is ‘me’ and that is ‘you’. <Snip>
PETER: So to go back to your first sentence would you say it is the believer that is the culprit rather than belief per se being the culprit? No believer, no belief? Any belief is passive, whereas a believer is rarely passive.
PETER: It does seem that you have understood, and are experiencing, that actualism is about becoming autonomous. Understanding is the first step, experiencing it is the next. Autonomy is an inevitable essential part of the process, which is why I always chuckle when someone says I am a disciple of a Guru. Actual Freedom is squeaky clean.
GARY: I suppose given the propensity of humans to form groups based on hierarchical principles it is natural for people to think that the same thing occurs in Actual Freedom or with the Actual Freedom Trust. I remember imagining such things myself, for instance, that you, Richard, and Vineeto were plotting or planning to do such and such, or so and so, that you had some type of steering committee or planning meetings. In hindsight, that appears ridiculous of course. There was also the tendency on my part to view Actual Freedom as some sort of Heaven or cultic activity with Richard being the Sun, and Peter and Vineeto revolving around the Sun in some sort of Actual Freedom firmament. Given that hierarchy occurs in any group, it is not surprising that one would have such thoughts or even wonder where one fits into such imagined hierarchy oneself. Becoming autonomous is becoming free from all such outlandish hierarchical notions as well as any tendency to subvert oneself to the authority (as in power) of another.
PETER: I went through exactly the same thing with Richard. I remember at one stage saying – ‘Okay, I’m hooked. You can let me in on the secret now’. I figured that if he was a super intelligent being seeded from outer space and seeking recruits, I was ready for the spacecraft to land. It’s all a hoot when I look back but given the human condition and our predilection to blindly follow or senselessly rebel, it is all par for the course, grist for the mill or fuel for the imagination – or the spacecraft in this case.
It is an extraordinary thing to take the words of actualism at face value. I found I had to abandon all my cynicism, crank up my naiveté yet be wary of being gullible as I had been in the past. This is only something that you can do for no one can take you by the hand and lead you down the path. It’s your own journey to being free and autonomous, but then again, that’s obvious isn’t it.
Peter’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.