Peter’s Correspondence on Mailing List B
Correspondent No 4
RESPONDENT: You have echoed my sentiments very well, all too well. In fact, I believe you are getting at the heart of what many humans, perhaps most of us feel about our world. However, this is a limited, personal perspective, certainly not the only one possible.
PETER: You seemingly agree with what I am saying and then say... ‘however’, which means you don’t agree with what I am saying. This discussion is not about agreeing with me or believing me, I am simply presenting the facts as to why peace on earth has not happened after 3,500 years of fervent prayer and well-meaning effort by billions of humans and offering another alternative for consideration and scrutiny. As such, I will reply to you in detail.
RESPONDENT: The great beings of the earth have one and all been able to step outside their personal agonies and see from a historical perspective.
PETER: The ‘great beings of the earth’, whose wisdom we still salaciously follow and take to be sacred and inviolate, lived thousands of years ago in a world that bears no resemblance to the one you and I live in. Ancient, ignorant and fearful understandings of earth and the cosmos led to the universal human belief in ‘other worlds’, both above and below, that were populated by mythical ‘spirits’ or Gods. Further, ‘spirits’ or nature ‘forces’ were deemed to live on, or be a part of, earth itself leading to a spirit-ual view of nature – a metaphysical-only understanding of physical life upon this material earth. A fervent and desperate belief that there was a future life-after-death for the human ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’ in these imaginary ‘spirit worlds’ was common to all ancient tribal groups.
The great beings were flat-earth god-men, their wisdom naught but fairy stories elaborated and altered over the millennia and, as such, their wisdom is firmly rooted in an ignorance of the facts and workings of the world that other humans have since been discovered. The long dead, supposedly wise and great ones, had no historical perspective as we have and were ignorant of modern scientific empirical discoveries of the functioning of the human body, this planet and the universe. In fear and ignorance they stepped out of, or turned away from, their real world ‘personal agonies’ and into an imaginary world of spirits – thus believing that they, as spirit only, would survive physical death in the spirit world.
What I am saying is step out of the real world, and the spiritual world, into the actual world and leave your ‘self’ behind, where ‘you’ belong.
RESPONDENT: They council against this limited view as it is very destructive, if we have nothing else to hold on to.
PETER: Given that the ‘great beings of the earth’ – the forerunners and original authors of all present day religious belief – lived thousands of years ago, theirs was a limited view. We modern humans, you and I, living now, are obviously capable of seeing and understanding far more than the ancients. I am clearly able to see that their wisdom and teaching is a belief and not a fact because since their time billions of human beings have diligently and sincerely attempted to put into practice and live their teachings, and peaceful co-existence amongst humans is nowhere in sight. The ancient human’s life would have really been a tough and relentless battle for survival and to retreat from the physical world into an inner world was the only alternative.
When I realized that the pure consciousness experience or peak experience offered a third alternative, I simply gave up believing in ancient Wisdom, waiting for Godot, praying, hoping, trusting, or trying to become God-on-earth as in the Eastern religious belief-system. Once you stop believing in God, he/she/it simply doesn’t exist anymore and then you free yourself to begin tackling the job of becoming actually free of malice and sorrow.
RESPONDENT: So, what is this perspective? If we look at life in its entirety, it appears that our universe is comprised of some basic substance of intelligence which has been building up more and more complex elements until ‘life’ is born, and then that life is built up into more and more intelligent beings, culminating in humans, at least to the point we are at, now.
PETER: Hmmm... The human species, the most sophisticated of carbon-based life forms, capable of thinking, planning and reflecting, represents the pinnacle of the emergence and development of carbon-based life forms known in the universe. The current human species has emerged after a battle for survival that anthropologists estimate has been on-going for millions of years. Early human life was a tough and relentless battle for survival based on ‘kill or be killed’, the animal survival instinct in operation at its most basic and primitive level – ‘what can I eat ... what can eat me?’ The physical evidence of early tool use, language and settlement represents the first sign of the emergence of intelligence, a faculty totally unique to the human animal species.
There is no other intelligence in the universe – nor ‘beyond’ or ‘outside’ the universe. To propose that the universe is intelligent or that there is such a thing as ‘life’ independent of that which we experience with our senses is to indulge in anthropomorphism. The physical universe is much, much more than intelligent – it is eternal (having no beginning or end) and infinite (having no edge to go ‘beyond’), vibrant, sparkling, magnificent, magical, and happening this very moment. It is these qualities of the physical universe that the theomaniacs imagine to be their own qualities – eternal as in feelings of Timelessness and Immortality and infinite as in feelings of Spacelessness and Oneness.
As for, ‘culminating in humans, at least to the point we are at, now’ ... We human beings are remarkable among the animal species only in that we have a large ‘modern’ brain or neo-cortex, capable of thinking, planning and reflecting, that envelops the primitive ‘lizard’ brain, the source of our animal instincts. Intelligence, the ability to think, plan, reflect and communicate, has resulted in the astounding development of the human species, from a grim and deadly fight for the survival of the species, to one of increasing safety, comfort, leisure and pleasure. This last century, in particular, has seen astounding advances made in agriculture, manufacturing, health, life expectancy, wealth, transport, information processing, instant and world-wide communications, social services and education. Yet, despite the amazing technological advancements and organizational development of the human species on this planet, the Human Condition is still epitomized by two major factors ... malice and sorrow.
RESPONDENT: The great human adventure is to travel up the stem of the lotus plant until we reach the state of the flower (enlightenment) and are free of the mud (material world) at the bottom of the pond.
PETER: My radical proposition is that all the facts point to the unmitigated failure of this ‘great human adventure’ that has been on-going for thousands of years. T’is but a tragic human struggle betwixt good and evil based upon a fervent belief in a higher ‘spirit-world’ that is above and beyond the earthly ‘mud’. There is no good or evil in the actual world – it exists only in the heads and hearts of human beings
Should we humans give the ‘great human adventure’ of following the spiritual teachings another millennium to deliver the goods? Perhaps two ...? Should we wait for Christ to come back, Maitreya to finally appear or for everyone on the planet to become magically enlightened? How long are we willing to continue with this ‘great human adventure’? The New Dark Age has now been superseded by the Next Age in some countries, so do we mark that bit of the adventure as a failure or do we look forward, with hope, that the Next Age will bring peace on earth?
RESPONDENT: In terms of the 60’s movement, it is most certainly not dead, but lives on in a million small ways in many organizations and government departments, schools, etc. But we, as humans, are so impatient for it to revolutionize our world, that we feel disillusioned by its slow progress, especially as we see the devastation of war and pollution.
PETER: Again my question would be how long do we wait – isn’t 3,500 years being patient enough? And who or what are we waiting for?
What got me off my bum, and my head out of the clouds, was – accepting the down-to-earth challenge that if I couldn’t live with one other person in utter peace and harmony, equity and parity, 24 hrs. a day, every day, then life on earth was indeed a sick joke. I took peace on earth as a personal challenge.
RESPONDENT: Intelligence and gentleness will win out and the pain of the current age will be largely forgotten.
PETER: Again do you have a time frame for this to happen? Human malice and sorrow has been on-going, and despite all the good intentions, prayers, consciousness-raising, trust, faith, hope and belief the last century was the bloodiest to date. Given that at least 160 million human beings died in wars in the last century and at least 40 million human beings killed themselves in suicides, that means at least 200 million children born this century will meet a similar fate.
I recently saw an interview with a monk who said that the first question he was going to ask God was ‘how come there is so much pain and suffering?’ Given that God is a fantasy the question to ask is ‘Why am I malicious and sorrowful ... and what can I do about it?’
RESPONDENT: We can see in our modern world many signs that humans are becoming more and more conscious of the need to reform human characters and solve our problems with dialogue, not violence.
PETER: Usually we divide our instinctual passions into groupings of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and try either to repress or deny the ‘bad’ ones – fear and aggression – while giving full vent and validity to the ‘good’ ones – nurture and desire. Unfortunately the well-meaning attempt to curb fear and aggression by moulding ‘good’ and ‘loving’ citizens has had precious little success as is evidenced by all the wars, murders, rapes, tortures, domestic violence, corruption, loneliness, despair and suicides that are still endemic on the planet. The passions of love and hate, forgiveness and retribution, compassion and selfishness, etc. come inseparably in pairs, as is testified by the continual failure of humans to live together in anything remotely resembling peace and harmony. We still rely on lawyers and laws, courts and jails, police, armies and guns to enforce law and order – a poor substitute for actual peace and harmony. The failure of morals, ethics, values and ideals to bring anything remotely resembling peace to this fair planet is legendary. The currently fashionable ideal of Human Rights serves only to reinforce the rights of various ethnic, religious and territorial groups to firstly, hold conflicting beliefs and then, to fight for those beliefs. Retribution is also highly valued as the right to ‘justice’ and, as such, resentments and grievances between rival groups of humans or individuals are passed down from generation to generation.
When appeals to moral and ethical values fail to end human conflicts, temporary ceasefires are maintained at the point of a gun. Whenever conflict erupts again a truce is then renegotiated and a ceasefire reinforced and the whole cycle of suppression, justice and retribution is set in motion yet again. Given the human genetic-heritage of animal instinctual passions, it is a tribute to human perseverance and stubborn will that the species has survived and flourished as well as it has. It is obvious that a new solution needs to be found, for the traditional solution of instilling unliveable ethics, preaching pious morals and maintaining law and order at the point of a gun has clearly failed in the past, is still failing, and always will fail to bring actual peace on earth. The next great challenge for human beings in this time of increasing safety, comfort, leisure and pleasure is to eradicate and eliminate human malice and sorrow. To do this means to actively challenge and confront the ‘mother of all beliefs’ – that ‘you can’t change human nature’.
The questions I asked myself were ... ‘why not?’ ... and ‘who said you can’t?’
RESPONDENT: Just in my area, the West Island of Montreal, I can count hundreds of mini-organizations (tens of thousands of people) involved in fighting poverty, pollution, war, etc. It won’t be long that the material world will collapse and a new kind of thinking will replace it.
PETER: I would put it to you that if you believe and pray that the material world will collapse – an apocalyptic scenario – then you believe and wish that billions of human beings will undergo immense suffering, pain, injury, death and hardship in the resulting chaos. This is old religious fear-ridden doomsday thinking, designed to put the fear of God in ancient people. This is old superstitious belief, not ‘a new way of thinking’. A genuinely ‘new way of thinking’ will only eventuate as individual human beings ‘get down and get dirty’ and get on with the job of firstly freeing themselves from ancient belief and superstition and then freeing themselves from the crippling effect that the emotions that arise from the instinctual passions have on their own thinking and actions.
The other relevant point is that in my years of being involved in ‘fighting’ for an end to war, for the environment, for my spiritual beliefs, I came to see that I was, in fact, fighting someone else. Any protests were angry protests either covertly felt or overtly expressed. It was always ‘someone else’s fault’, someone else who was ‘bad’, someone else who was ‘wrong’, someone else who was angry, someone else who was not aware or conscious enough. Realizing this fact was essential in understanding that the only one I can change is me and, if I’m sincere in my interest in peace on earth, then I had better get on with proving it is possible.
RESPONDENT: But you are right that ‘spirituality’ is not the be-all-and-end-all, it is one facet of change.
PETER: No, I didn’t say that at all. My point is that ‘spirituality’ – the ancient belief in God, Gods, spirits and other worlds – has miserably failed to bring peace on earth. In fact, if you read the ancient texts peace is not even on the spiritual agenda. Spirituality, rooted as it is in ancient belief, is not a facet of change – it is, and has always been, a fear-driven force of resistance to change.
RESPONDENT: Others are laws, globalization, the Internet, Greenpeace, educational and scientific advances – in fact, we are all, even those who seem to be going in the opposite direction, part of this great drama which will end in World Peace. Please, let’s pray for it to come soon!!
PETER: Okay. ‘Laws’ are maintained by armed police, lawyers, courts, fines, goals, and they do manage to keep the lid on overt violence in many countries. But I fail to see how the threat and imposition of punishment can bring about a genuine freedom, peace and happiness. A little reading of what happens to the rule of law, morals and ethics in times of threat or war will point to what a fragile system we live under. ‘Civilization’ is indeed a thin veneer.
‘The Internet’, on the other hand, is proving to be a remarkable network whereby we humans can share our experiences and knowledge as to what works and what doesn’t work in order that we do not unnecessarily repeat the mistakes of the past. It can be a remarkable facilitator of change. This mailing list that dares to question ‘What is Enlightenment?’ is an example of a free, open and world-wide exploration that would have been impossible only a few short years ago.
‘Globalization’ – the increasing world-wide trade of goods, information, knowledge and resources, the standardization of laws, language and culture and the phenomenal speed of global communication, all act to break down the tribal differences that have plagued human existence. But all does not bode well for economic pragmatism, for there is an emotional backlash as people fearfully seek their roots in the past and return to old tribal cultures and superstitions. The bold post WW2 idea of a united Europe seems to be now fading as even smaller regions within countries seek ‘autonomy’. I also find it kind of cute that many of the people who claim to feel that ‘we are all one’ or ‘the earth is all one living organism’ are often the ones who rile against the practical manifestation of one species of humans on the planet – fellow humans beings who happen to live somewhere on the globe.
‘Greenpeace’ is an organization that proudly fights for the environment, confronting others who they see as wrong or doing evil. Environmentalism has now gained the trappings and status of a full-blown pantheist religion, whereby the planet is seen as a living entity, populated by earth spirits and energies and we humans are made guilty, once again, for being here. Environmentalists continually present doomsday prophecies as scare tactics, they eagerly accept and promote any theory that supports their passionate belief, continually rile against non-believers and actively resist any progress or change – all signs of religious fervour in action.
As for ‘educational’ changes, I see the Internet as the best thing to happen in the free exchange of information since the invention of the printing press.
As for ‘scientific advances’, I concur, with the proviso that one ignores the fanciful theories and imaginary postulations of theoretical mystical science that is currently fashionably influenced by Eastern philosophy and religion – theoretical cosmology and theoretical physics are particularly suss. Empirical science, largely practiced by engineers and chemists investigating, manipulating and constructing wonderful things from the elements of this planet, is indeed bringing to human beings unprecedented levels of safety, comfort, leisure and pleasure. In fact, it is empirical science that is now providing the evidence as to the source of human malice and sorrow – the genetically inherited animal instinctual passion.
And now that we have empirical scientific evidence of what causes we humans to be malicious and sorrowful, it’s simply a matter of acknowledging the facts, abandoning all the failed old spiritual theories and solutions and real-world theories and solutions, and – for those intrepid adventuresome pioneers – setting about the process of deleting this redundant instinctual programming.
Peter’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.