Peter’s Correspondence on Mailing List B
Correspondent No 1
PETER: I too am new to the list and was impressed with the clarity of your post and the fact that you wrote of a personal experience, as opposed to the usual parroting of the words of others.
RESPONDENT: I have been studying Andrew’s teaching for three years. I tend to approach life in a very intellectual way, so I was literally studying like at a university: reading, listening, and thinking. I thought about enlightenment and its implications. I never understood what the word ‘enlightenment’ meant. So I thought, ‘mmmm, yes! Enlightenment is a secret indeed. Studying the implications of enlightenment always made me very excited. After scrutinizing Andrew’s teaching for three years, I concluded: ‘these implications all make perfect sense, they are all very coherent and consistent, and they all come from something I don’t understand, that secret’. My intellectual approach resulted in many things. To mention two, I scrutinized the implications of enlightenment and concluded that they make perfect sense.
PETER: As a radical proposition, I would offer that the secret lure of enlightenment is in its seductive and instinctual appeal – the opportunity to feel Oneness, Timeless and Spaceless, a chance to leave the ‘real’ world behind and the promise of immortality, the continuation of one’s self or soul, after physical death. This seductive appeal gives rise to the feeling that enlightenment – literally becoming a God-on-earth – makes perfect sense, yet it is, in fact, an utterly non-sensical, purely-imaginary delusion. This utterly selfish feeling causes otherwise reasonably intelligent human beings to abandon any common sense and fervently accept the ancient myths and puerile beliefs in Gods and Goddesses, good and evil spirits, ‘other’ worlds, and ‘other’ lives.
RESPONDENT: Secondly, I started to think about thinking. That thinking lead to the understanding why enlightenment is a secret, why it cannot be understood by my mind.
PETER: Indeed, the Ancient Ones were right about this. Enlightenment is beyond the mind, for enlightenment is a feeling-only state, a product of impassioned imagination given a seeming credence by thousands of years of mythical tales, shamanistic rituals and practices and fearful isolation. Enlightenment is an altered state of consciousness whereby one’s normal consciousness – ‘who’ one thinks and feels one is – is permanently replaced by a new and deliberately cultivated identity – one that feels Divine, Timeless, Spaceless and Immortal. The small self becomes the grand Self – a blatantly obvious, proudly cherished and humbly prized alteration in one’s state of consciousness or an obvious shift of identity.
RESPONDENT: In those three years, for me, thinking was everything I could do. It was as if I was standing in the middle of a landscape, the Land of Thinking. I could only see land as far as my eye could reach. By thinking about thinking, I started to see that the Land of Thinking has clear borders. That land suddenly became a small island in the middle of an endless sea. This happened one week ago. The experience is extremely frightening and at the same time, it fills me with bliss that I have never experienced before. I went beyond the island that I knew, and discovered that I could still see everything very clear, better than clear, much much better than clear. I spend hours and hours looking from this endless unimaginable sea of clarity.
PETER: The experience you describe could well have been what is known as a pure consciousness experience (PCE). Everybody has had a PCE sometime in their life where, for a brief period, one magically finds oneself in a ‘self’-less state of sensate-only experiencing and the perfection and purity of the actual world – the fairy-tale like physical universe – becomes stunningly apparent.
The PCE offers a glimpse or window out from the ‘real’ world everyone is born into (and therefore assumes to be all there is), and one suddenly finds oneself in the unimaginable, magical, fairytale-like actual world.
The PCE is a sensuous, sensate-only ‘self’-less experience of the perfection and purity of the actual universe. There is no ‘self’ as an interpreter, censor or spoiler. All is directly evidenced by the physical senses to be pure, perfect, delightful. One’s intelligence is freed of any emotions and affective feelings – thinking becomes benign, clear and concise – free of malice and sorrow. The already-existing innate purity and perfection that becomes stunningly apparent in this ‘self’-less state instantly renders redundant the need for any morals, ethics or any kind of ‘self’-control. With awareness and intelligence operating totally freed from the Human Condition of malice and sorrow, ‘I’ can then be clearly seen for what ‘I’ am – an alien psychological and psychic entity dwelling within this flesh and blood body.
This physical universe is seen to be already perfect and it is obvious that it is only what goes on in human heads and hearts – the dis-ease called the Human Condition, manifest in each of us as a separate, personal ‘self’ – that is the cause of the appalling human malice and sorrow. What has always been avoided up until now is the fact that the affective instinctual passions are the root cause of human malice and sorrow – the loves and loyalties, impulses and urges, ideals and beliefs that human beings are willing and eager to fight and kill for, or to suffer and die for. One’s own ‘self’-inflicted problems lie in the feelings and emotions that arise from the animal instinctual passions – and the PCE experientially confirms this fact.
The ‘self’-less state of the PCE is, however, commonly distorted or tainted by cultural or religious teachings into what is known as a Satori or Samadhi in Eastern religions, or an epiphany or revelation in Western religions. A pure consciousness experience is thus perverted into an altered state of consciousness as the ‘self’ claims the PCE as its very own. In pantheistic Eastern Religions one has a glimpse of being God personified, as an Awakened One or an Enlightened Being, whereas in monotheistic Western religions one has a glimpse of being in the presence of God, as a messenger, prophet or Son of God. All this misinterpretation and misappropriation of the pure consciousness experience is fuelled by ancient belief and wisdom and the passionate instinctual narcissism of the ‘self’. The chance to feel that one is a God-on-Earth is the seductive, seemingly irresistible lure that fuels Eastern religious belief.
A pure consciousness experience, if untainted by spiritual belief, is a different kettle of fish. It points to a different dimension and a different possibility for those who are less gullible and more aware than spiritual believers.
RESPONDENT: Earlier I heard Andrew speaking about the fact that ‘there is only one’. I always found this very inspiring and poetic. I thought he meant that you should not wait for others to become enlightened first. Somebody must be the example, somebody must make that leap, why not you? I don’t think that I misunderstood him, but now that I see this other perspective I see that he wasn’t speaking in a poetic or metaphorical way at all. He was speaking very literally. There are literally no others!!! That is the shocking conclusion that I draw since I see that other perspective: I did not know that the secret is so incredibly big!!!!! I did not know that I am literally completely alone. I see all the people, I see that secret and realize that I am completely alone.
PETER: The feeling that ‘there is only one’ or ‘there are literally no others’ is but a feeling – an affective interpretation of the actual experience of no separation that is startlingly apparent in a PCE when the ‘self’ is temporarily absent. The aching feeling of separation arises from the fact that there are 6 billion human beings on the planet, each with a separate ‘self’, engaged in a grim and desperate instinctual battle for survival. There are also those few who have induced in themselves an altered state of consciousness whereby they have adopted a new identity – a higher ‘Self’ passionately deluded into ‘being’ Oneness. For these few unfortunates, and their followers, the feeling of aloneness is simply replaced by a feeling of Oneness. A sensible, modern aspiration is to be free of the Human Condition in total, both aloneness and Oneness, both illusion and delusion – and an unadulterated pure consciousness experience is the proof that this is possible.
RESPONDENT: I find reality as I thought it was very flimsy, a small island in an endless sea, but in no way an illusion. So I agree with No 00 that there is something to say about how we conceive of life, it is very flimsy.
PETER: Both a real world reality and a spiritual world Reality are indeed very flimsy. Both these conceptions about what it is to be a human being and the physical, actual world we find ourselves in are illusions conceived by the psychological and psychic entity that inhabits the flesh and blood body. ‘Who’ we think and feel we are is the flimsy thing – lost lonely, frightened and very, very cunning. Eastern religious philosophy has it that ‘who’ we think we are – the ego – is the problem and teaches devotees to give full reign to ‘who’ we feel we are – the soul. Spiritual believers are continuously admonished to ‘leave your mind at the door, surrender your will and trust your feelings’. This shift of identity from ego to soul gives rise to a narcissistic soul uninhibited by intelligent thought, and there is no greater narcissism or stupefied intelligence than to believe oneself to be divine. The path from ‘self’ to ‘Self’ is a path of self-aggrandizement, not self-immolation. No wonder there is such doubt and confusion on the spiritual path for one is constantly having to deny common sense, the physical world as experienced by the senses and the fact of physical death as a finality.
RESPONDENT: Now that everything is inside out and upside down, I have no idea what to do. I can see that a very large part if not everything in my behaviour is an expression of this very flimsy notion of reality. I can see how the big movements in my behaviour and even more, the very small things in my behaviour are an expression of this flimsiness: my endless worrying, scheming, complaining, postponing, and manipulating. I decided to start there, in the little ego-trip from moment to moment, because there is no other place then that to start: now.
PETER: It is indeed extremely upsetting to have had a pure consciousness experience, or an altered state of consciousness for that matter, for as one returns to reality one’s perception is mightily changed. I had a particularly overwhelming altered state of consciousness experience when, after six months of withdrawing from the world and indulging in intensive spiritual reading and meditating, I was walking along a beach and had an experience of being ‘pure love’. I was Love, and love for everything poured out of me. ‘Existence’ and I were one, and all was love. ‘I’, as I normally was, was definitely not there – ‘I’ had become pure love. Or, put another way, I had an experience of the ‘self’ becoming the ‘Self’. For me, I realized if I continued on the path I was doomed to become enlightened, yet another Saviour of mankind, another God-on-earth and that was enough to ring the alarm bells. Somehow I knew that this was not what I was after, as I wanted to be an ordinary human being, not an extraordinary divine one like the so-called Enlightened Ones. Besides, I had not met one of these gurus whose life I would like to emulate. I didn’t like how they were with their women, I didn’t like their lifestyle and I had seen too many ‘off stage’, as it were, as emotionally driven and devilishly cunning. I had also seen enough of their power and authority, with its subsequent demand of worship and adoration, to be dismayed at the thought that the Master-disciple system represented the pinnacle of human endeavour. There had to be something better.
I remember contemplating the failure of religions, be they Eastern or Western, to deliver anything remotely resembling peace on earth while driving up the escarpment that encircles the lush semi-tropical coastal plain where I live. I stopped and looked out at the edge of the greenery, where a seemingly endless ribbon of white sand neatly bordered it from the azure ocean. Overhead great mounds of fluffy white clouds sailed by in the blue of the sky. Right in the foreground stood a group of majestic pines towering some thirty meters tall. I was struck by the vastness, the stillness and the perfection of this planet, the extraordinariness of it all, but ... and the ‘but’ are human beings! Human beings who persist in fighting and killing each other and can’t live together in peace and harmony. It was one of those moments that forced me to do something about myself, for I was one of those 6 billion people. It was exactly one of those moments that forced me to deeply question the traditional spiritual path – the tried and failed.
RESPONDENT: I never understood that ‘letting everything be as it is, and paying attention’ is a way to describe the perspective from the endless sea. It means that you no longer try to go beyond something, or try to change or understand anything. I always passionately hated meditation. I always got very restless when I tried to meditate. During teachings and other moments that I was amongst people that where meditating I always kept quiet and thought about what to eat tomorrow, my shopping list, and other practical things.
PETER: Yeah, I always passionately hated meditation as well. The idea that the meaning of life was to be found by sitting in a quiet place with one’s eyes closed, looking ‘inside’ for the meaning of life always seemed more than a little strange to me. Now I realize that meditation is but an ancient shaman practice to cut oneself off from the actual world as evidenced by the physical senses in order to more fully indulge one’s passionate imagination so as to induce an altered state of consciousness.
RESPONDENT: Now suddenly the idea of ‘letting everything be as it is’ and ‘paying attention’ makes perfect sense, because I see that ‘the truth’ is ‘in between’ all the things that you can normally pay attention to. This may sound very ‘hocus pocus’, but I really see this.
When I let everything on the little island ‘be as it is’, and ‘pay attention’, I suddenly see that in between all the things that I normally pay attention to, this groundbreaking perspective has been there all the time, all the time that I tried to go beyond that which was fascinating me, like my restless shopping list.
PETER: ‘Letting everything be as it is’ is practicing acceptance of ‘me’ as I am, thus ensuring that nothing of substance will change. The spiritual ‘paying attention’, as a meditation, is to practice denial of things as they are and encourage a transcendence whereby one rises above the mundane and physical. One denies one is a mortal flesh and blood human being and aspires to become a Divine – and therefore immortal – spirit only. Thus ‘I am not the body’ and ‘I am not the mind’ become mantras of denial for the true spiritual believer. As you say, one tries to go beyond, or rise above, the world as-it-is.
RESPONDENT: Do more people have this experience? From the perspective of the little island, the truth seems a mental illness, it really frightens me to death. The past days the idea of a mental illness pops up when I REMEMBER my experience. But from the perspective of the endless sea, the life on the little island seems a dream. Often I read and heard what people like Andrew and J. Krishnamurti said about this dream. I thought they spoke in a metaphorical or poetic way, now that I see that it is literally a dream, everything is completely inside out and upside down.
PETER: Indeed, an altered state of consciousness is a mental affliction, albeit very fashionable and much sought after. The very idea that this wondrous, eternal and infinite universe was created or is maintained by a God or is some sort of illusion of God’s or human’s consciousness is nothing other than ancient mythical fables – an imaginary fear-ridden fantasy arising from primitive ignorance. To actively maintain these myths is to deny both fact and intelligence, and to actively aspire to be God or to realize God-consciousness is to court mental illness. An altered state of consciousness such as enlightenment is a mental aberration and an affront to intelligence. The spiritual world is a world of institutionalized insanity.
There is a way out of this madness and that is to actively pursue a pure consciousness experience (PCE) and have the courage to turn one’s back on the delusion of an altered state of consciousness (ASC).
The pure consciousness experience that I remembered that drove the wedge between the actual world and the spiritual world happened to me some 15 years ago, curiously while I was on the spiritual path, some fourteen years ago. I had arranged with my partner at the time to spend a weekend in a holiday house by the foreshore of a large salt-water lake. We arranged a comfortable picnic spot by the lake and, as I strolled off by myself, a pure consciousness experience crept up on me.
The past five years that I have known her, with all the memories of good and bad times, simply do not exist. It is just delightful that she is here with me, and I do not even have any thoughts of ‘our’ future. In short, everything is perfect, always has been, and always will be. It is an experience of actual freedom where I, as this body only, am able to experience with my physical senses the perfection and purity of the physical universe, free of the psychological and psychic entity within. And also free of the delusion that it is all the work of some mythical maker to whom I owe gratitude for my being here. I am actually here, in the physical universe and enjoying every moment of it.
It was the memory of this pure consciousness experience that was later to be the driving force to wanting to experience this actual perfection and purity 24 hrs. a day, every day. For this to happen there must be the death or extinction of both ego and soul – the illusionary entity in its entirety, both one’s real world identity and one’s much prized and much praised spiritual identity. It’s a tough call to be a pioneer and break from tradition, but the spiritual world is such a wank and I highly recommend becoming free of being a spiritual identity.
So No. 1, I am not denying the validity of your experience. I am simply pointing to a sensible and vital interpretation that is not influenced by ancient ignorance and dour religion and philosophy, particularly that of the Eastern ‘spiritual’ variety that is currently fashionable amongst even the most genuine seekers of freedom.
Well, I doubt very much that this post will reach you. This is, after all, a ‘moderated list’; the experience I wrote about was both actual and iconoclastic and I am questioning not only the teachers but their sacred and holy teachings. T’is silly that some fervent believers still insist that the Truth cannot be questioned for it is high time that Ancient Wisdom was challenged. Religious and spiritual belief has had its day, it’s run its course. It has had thousands of years to deliver an end to suffering and malice and has failed lamentably. Indeed much of human suffering and malice is directly attributable to the mindless subservience to religious belief and spiritual superstition.
Surely it’s time to consider a new non-spiritual, down-to earth, approach to becoming free of the Human Condition of malice and sorrow.
Peter’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.