Peter’s Correspondence on Mailing List B
Correspondent No 7
MODERATOR: The rejection of rigid religiosity for the purity of the ‘pure consciousness experience’ you are calling for has been the message of most of the world’s mystics – including those whose recognition of the complexity involved in actually doing so eventually led them to create doctrine, path and form to help others progress toward the goal.
PETER: Ah, I can see why I am still on the list. You think I am peddling some new variation of old time religion disguised as New Dark Age spirituality.
When I first came across the possibility of an actual freedom from malice and sorrow I thought it must have been a spiritual thing because only the spiritual people talked of freedom. It took me months until I began to understand that the traditional spiritual path offered a feeling of liberation for one’s spirit or soul before death prior to a final real liberation from earthly suffering after physical death. I see that some people on the list use the expression illusion of ‘self’ and others refer to the illusionary physical world which means what must be REAL is one’s spirit, soul, Self, Atman, Essence, Heart, etc. – a disembodied, non-physical entity. By concentrating on repressing sensible thought, denying the actual world as evidenced by the physical senses, and letting one’s impassioned feelings and imagination run riot a new detached, superior and holy entity is realized.
To get to this state of complete dissociation is for most a very complex and torturous process and only a rare few manage to pull it off completely. The level of denial of the physical world alone requires an extraordinary effort. To regard all that we see, hear, touch, feel, smell, eat and breathe to be illusionary requires a mind-bending act of astounding tortuousness. It is because of the complexity and difficulty involved that most mystics had to renounce the obvious pleasures and delights of the physical world and go off to caves, monasteries, ashrams, lone wanderings and indulge in often bizarre practices such as meditation, yoga, chanting, whirling, special diets, celibacy, etc. in order to strengthen their fantasies.
The ‘self’ (including all its cunning spiritual variations) is an illusion, not the physical, tangible, palpable physical world.
The simple test as to what is actual is to place a peg on the nose, place some Gaffer tape firmly across the mouth and wait 10 minutes. As you rip the tape from your mouth and gasp for breath you will have an experiential understanding of what is actual and what is illusionary.
When I had my altered states of consciousness experiences I couldn’t quite pull off the denial of the physical bit. Something always made me suss about the need for renunciation, the isolationism, the elitism, the head-in-the-cloud feelings. The grand and glorious feelings were sure seductive but thankfully I held on to my doubts and my common sense and didn’t trust my feelings.
If you can recall having a pure consciousness experience you would remember that there is not a skerrick of rigid religiosity nor slippery spirituality in it at all. It is an experience where there is no psychological or psychic entity whatsoever present in the flesh and blood body. There is no ‘I’ to feel glorious, to feel Oneness, to feel Divine, to feel Whole. There is no Love, God, Essence, Source, etc. that is the grand reason, plan, creation, essence, energy, life-force, etc. that gives the psychic entity in the body a grand and glorious place or part to play. In the pure consciousness experience there is no affective faculty, nor any capacity for imagination in operation. So vast, so perfect and so pure is this physical universe directly experienced by the body’s physical senses that the immediate becomes vibrant, alive, sensuous, tactile and actual. There is no feeling of separation, nor any feeling of unity for it is obvious and apparent that I am this body, made of the same stuff of the universe, live cells made from the union of sperm and egg, sustained by eating the stuff of the earth, swimming in and breathing the air of the earth, surrounded by stuff made from the earth – and when this body dies the stuff left goes back to the earth. Finish, kaput, finito, gone, extinct, stuffed, no more. Perfect.
Because a pure consciousness experience is a temporary ‘self’-less experience with no emotions or feelings operating whatsoever there is no emotional memory of the experience afterwards. As such it can be lost in the memory or can easily be dismissed as an aberration and not taken for what it is.
MODERATOR: Perhaps the greatest challenge for anyone who discovers the utter simplicity of the ‘PCE’ is to remain humble, to realize that, for all the ‘malice and sorrow’ that has been waged in the name of religion, at the heart of each tradition is a vast body of REAL wisdom about not only the ultimate fact of our essential non-dual nature, but about how a human being can come to realize and ultimately express that nature as themselves – an area about which all but those few perfected beings among us still have much to learn.
PETER: Anyone who has experienced a pure consciousness experience will know that there is no ‘I’ or ‘me’ to be either proud or humble. There is nothing but an overwhelming sensuousness, an astounding clarity of thought, a glaring obviousness and a sheer delight at being the physical universe experiencing itself as a flesh and blood human being. Pride and humility, good and evil, right and wrong, illusion or delusion, spirits and other worlds and spiritual searches are all seen as human inventions of ‘me’, the alien entity.. What is clearly seen is that human beings are still involved in a grim and desperate battle for survival fought out either covertly or overtly. The spiritual search, spiritual wisdom and all meta-physical ideas are clearly seen as escapist nonsense. With the knowledge gleaned from this ‘self’-less clarity, when one returns to normal one merrily sets about the task of ‘self’-immolation in order to live the pure consciousness experience 24 hrs’ a day, every day.
The actual becomes the seduction, not the synthetic.
As for your comment that ‘the greatest challenge is ... to remain humble’, we need to be clear about spiritual humbleness. Humbleness is just pride stood on its head. There are none so proud of their humbleness as the spiritual seekers. Humbleness is highly valued and prized as a virtue in all spiritual traditions for the follower is proud of being a humble follower and the God-man is humbled before his or her God. The Dalai Lama continuously claims to be a humble monk and is revered and admired for saying it. If he is sincere, why doesn’t he get down off his throne, throw of his Kingly and Godly mantles and be a humble monk. When I became aware of how proud I was to be a chosen one, how special it made me feel, how being humble was but a front for rampant pride, it was extraordinary revealing. What I was able to clearly see was that it was my pride that ensnared me in the spiritual world and this awareness made getting out so much easier.
As for our ‘essential non-dual nature’, I take it you are talking of the idea that we were born innocent, the ancient Tabula Rasa theory. The spiritual aim is then to return to our natural state of innocence – our true selves as we came into the world and before we were corrupted by evil. This is old-fashioned and out-of-date thinking that requires a blatant denial of modern empirical scientific research on the subject of human genetically encoded instinctual behaviour by Josef LeDoux and others. A sensible clear-eyed observation of the startlingly obvious similarities between human beings behaviour and that of other animals is further evidence of human instinctual behaviour. Most animal studies focus on the similarities of the passions of nurture and desire, but murder, rape, infanticide, warfare, cannibalism, sorrow, despair and suicide have all been documented in our closest genetic cousins, the chimps. Jane Goodall was shocked when discovering and documenting this behaviour and she has since backed away from further research. Other research on human behaviour that I personally found profoundly revealing were the studies by Stanley Morgan that clearly indicate ordinary human beings’ willingness to inflict pain on their fellow human beings. The results were so disturbing in their revelation of our human nature that any similar studies have been banned as being ‘unethical’.
As for our ‘non-dual’, ancient spiritual belief has it that we are a spirit trapped in a physical corporeal body in a physical material world and the only way to transcend this duality was to becomes spirit only, or pure being. This duality is most often expressed as material / spiritual or evil / divine for in ancient times the material world was imagined as evil and the spirit-ual world was felt to be divine. Anyone who has plumbed the depths of their ‘essential non-dual nature’ sees the terror, dread and the diabolical and goes for the divine feelings which does nothing but confirm, sustain and make very REAL the human invention of good and evil.
There is no good and evil in the actual world.
There are simply human beings who are still driven by their instinctual passions and rather than ditch the lot, they deny the ‘bad’ ones and pump up the ‘good’ ones like all get out. Better to ditch the lot and then one is aware that any ideas of duality, non-duality or even beyond non-duality are but figments of human imagination and not actual.
How long will we continue this denial of the central role that genetically-encoded instinctual passions have in causing human malice and sorrow?
And how long will people keep turning away from the facts and proudly indulging in utterly ‘self’-ish theories and beliefs?
What I did was keep asking questions until all of my beliefs were replaced by substantiated verifiable facts. I would not settle on anything if I only felt something to be right and true or because someone else said it was so. I kept asking myself questions until I removed all doubt from my life. It became obvious that if I had to trust, have faith, believe or hope that something was so then it was not a fact but merely a belief or a feeling. When I came across the radical proposition that there was a third alternative to remaining normal or becoming spiritual I ran with the question: ‘What if there isn’t a God, by whatever name?’
This question can easily lead people into despair and hopelessness but when combined with the question: ‘What if there is a way that I can actually rid myself of malice and sorrow’, a whole new exciting and challenging ball game opens up.
A marvellous opportunity is now available for any who are willing to face facts. No longer do we humans have to feel guilt or shame, pray to God for redemption or salvation, seek to escape from evil into an ‘inner’ world of isolation and feeling-only existence, no longer do we have to humble ourselves before God-men. Simply acknowledging the fact that our malice and sorrow results from an instinctual program instilled by blind nature in order to ensure the survival of the species is the first step towards becoming actually free of malice and sorrow. To continue to deny factual empirical evidence is to indulge in denial and this denial actively prevents your chance at experiencing peace on earth in this lifetime.
MODERATOR: Thanks for your engaging posts.
PETER: It’s been a pleasure to again have the opportunity to write about my favourite subject. I do realize my posts are long compared to the usual mailing list style, but I do have a lot to say and convey, given the subject matter is so new and radical.
MODERATOR: I’m writing today to let you know that we’ve decided to make a slight readjustment in the focus of this forum. Our initial aim in hosting this list was to create a forum for readers of our magazine to discuss the various articles and issues raised in the magazine. Although initially the discussion was centred around our issue on gender and enlightenment, gradually it has moved away from a focus on the magazine – a movement which, while perhaps no less interesting, has ultimately taken us away from our original objective of creating a complement to the magazine.
So, with the release of our latest issue, ‘What Is Ego? friend or foe . . .’, we have decided to aim the list back at its original target and see how it goes. Practically, what that means is that we’d like to encourage everyone to have a look at the new issue, and share your responses with other readers here on the list. Discussion of back issues is also welcome, the contents of which can be found at <snip>.
And from now on, postings that do not pertain directly to the content of the magazine won’t be posted.
Obviously, there will be some judgment calls. Let’s find out together.
PETER: I assume this post is directed to me. Fair enough. I realize I was pushing the envelope to dare to try and talk about how to actualize peace on earth on a spiritual mailing list. Your ruling does add substance to my point that peace on earth is not on the spiritual agenda, a bit less interesting than the main event. I have yet to see it mentioned in any spiritual teaching for all religious belief is concerned either with ‘the peace that passeth all understanding’, ‘inner’ peace or ‘Resting In Peace’, after death.
MODERATOR: On another note, I also wanted to (delicately) try to encourage a spirit of brevity in the postings. Let me know if I’m alone in the perception that long-winded waxing, however eloquently delivered, often serves the writer more than the reader. Thanks again for all of your heartfelt participation. Looking forward to a new era of dialogue...
PETER: Very delicately put. To call a spade a spade, as I like to do, I see that you are saying my posts are spoiling your game, that I am being non-spiritually egotistical, a real pain in the bum and you hope I will go away. Sort of a polite pre-sentence comment prior to cyber-execution?
To avoid vagueness do you have a number-of-words limit per post? It seems a fairer way of avoiding arbitrary judgements based on prejudice.
There are some more posts on the subject of peace on earth that have been sent to me and I will send my responses to you. If the decreed deadline for not talking about peace on earth is ABSOLUTE perhaps you could forward them privately to the individuals concerned to avoid offending any recalcitrant egos or contumacious souls.
MODERATOR: Although initially the discussion was centred around our issue on gender and enlightenment, gradually it has moved away from a focus on the magazine – a movement which, while perhaps no less interesting, has ultimately taken us away from our original objective of creating a complement to the magazine. And from now on, postings that do not pertain directly to the content of the magazine won’t be posted.
PETER: I assume this post is directed to me.
MODERATOR: Actually, it applied to the list as a whole – a general decision that has been brewing for months.
PETER: I take it your other comment in the same post –
MODERATOR: On another note, I also wanted to (delicately) try to encourage a spirit of brevity in the postings. Let me know if I’m alone in the perception that long-winded waxing, however eloquently delivered, often serves the writer more than the reader.
PETER: ... was also directed to the list as a whole. This does seem a strange comment for a moderator to apply to everyone on the list. It’s a wonder people didn’t write in feeling offended, but maybe they thought it wasn’t directed at them, but at someone else. Anyway, you have clarified your position and it is clear that you weren’t singling me out in particular which is excellent as I find feigning humbleness a silly pastime and I would not like to hobble my style to suit others brief attention span.
PETER: I realize I was pushing the envelope to dare to try and talk about how to actualize peace on earth on a spiritual mailing list. Your ruling does add substance to my point that peace on earth is not on the spiritual agenda, a bit ‘less interesting’ than the main event. I have yet to see it mentioned in any spiritual teaching for all religious belief is concerned either with ‘the peace that passeth all understanding’, ‘inner’ peace or ‘Resting In Peace’, after death.
MODERATOR: Keep reading. It’s definitely out there. See Mahayana Buddhism, Sufism, the writings of Swami Vivekananda, and more recently, the works of my own teacher, Andrew Cohen, which speak extensively about this subject. Visit www.andrewcohen.org for more info.
PETER: If you want to make a point of substance and worth, it is of no use to wave your arms and say it’s somewhere ‘out there’. Please provide some evidence to substantiate your claims for saying one thing while doing another – stifling a discussion about peace on earth – does somewhat weaken your stance. However, looking briefly in the directions you indicated I find –
Buddhism’s central tenet is that
Peace in the Buddhist world of fundamental disappointment and suffering is maintained either by keeping one’s inner cool, remaining focused within and being morally and ethically ‘right’ or, for the serious practitioners, finding an sheltered peace by retreating to isolated monasteries or spiritual communities of like-minded people. Nowhere do I find in Buddhist teachings any mention of peace on earth, in this lifetime, as this flesh and blood body only.
PETER: As for Sufism, again one needs to go back to the fundamental principles of the teachings otherwise fashionable fuzziness and spiritual slipperiness can easily fog the investigation –
Constant struggle against the lower soul, the ‘black dog’, indicates the ancient idea of evil and darkness as the cause of human malice and sorrow and in no way acknowledges the modern understanding of genetically-encoded instinctual animal passions in humans. The path of constant struggle, repentance, abstinence, renunciation, poverty, patience, gratitude and acceptance of one’s lot in life clearly leads to God and nowhere do I find any mention in Sufism of peace on earth, in this lifetime, as this flesh and blood body only.
PETER: As for the teachings of Swami Vivekananda –
In Eastern religion to become great means to become a God-man and the measure of greatness and power is measured by the number of other people he manages to convince of his Godliness. If successful, yet another religion or religious faction is born to add to the plethora of insular and competing religions already on the planet.
This is the superficial argument at the centre of Vedanta – the only reason we feel malicious and sorrowful is that we have yet to realize that we are God. Once we realize we are God, then the bad feelings disappear in a puff of smoke and everything will feel okay. This puerile belief does nothing to address or change the underlying root cause of human malice and sorrow.
In Vedanta it is not selfish to believe you are God-on-earth, ‘because you are all’. As long as you feel and show compassion for those who have not yet realized they are God then one’s exalted position is justified. The Vedanta system did very well in India where thousands would queue for hours to kiss feet the of Ramana Maharshi and worship him as God, but this adoration is usually toned down in the West to a humble form of boot-licking rather than the more traditional feet kissing.
This great ideal and faith has failed lamentably to bring anything even remotely resembling peace on earth. It is founded on the fundamental principle that earthly suffering is essential in order to undertake the great search for God-realization – if human beings didn’t fight and suffer then we would have no need for the belief in God or the need to feel we are God. Nowadays we can nip this nonsense in the bud for we now know the root cause of human suffering and go for the jugular rather than wallow in denial and God-inspired fantasies.
Life and peace after death is clearly indicated as is the continuation of his greatness after death – the longed-for immortality of each God-man’s message that inevitably forms warring and competing religions.
PETER: As for the teachings of Andrew Cohen, I ran the search engine through all the writings on his web site and found only four references to peace in all of the writings –
He is clearly talking of a feeling of ‘inner’ peace ... a peace ‘inside our own self ’
Again, he talks of an ‘inner’ peace such as is ‘found in the experience of deep meditation.’ and not in the world as-it-is with people as-they-are.
The place that spiritual practice leads fundamentally ‘is a place where nothing ever happened, a place before the universe was born’ as is evident from the first quotation. By residing in this ‘place ’ the spiritual person is then able to cope with all the trials and tribulations, misery and suffering and fundamental contradictions of life in the ‘real’ world by staying isolated in the place of ‘perfect peace that lies deep within us.’
The following quotation does not mention peace but it well illustrates the traditional religious approach to at least feeling peaceful – the best on offer, up to now.
The ages-old failure of this withdrawing is that one then becomes even further isolated from one’s fellow human being, even further removed from the sensual delights of the actual sensational physical world and one deliberately turns one’s back on the chance of tackling the task of eliminating the instinctual passions that are the cause of human malice and sorrow. The chance of an actual peace on earth, in this lifetime, as a flesh and blood body only is forfeited for an utterly selfish personal feeling of peace and the fantasy of an ultimate state of peace – after physical death.
Most spiritual people are very happy to question and scrutinize other spiritual teachings and teachers but soon feel mightily offended and attacked when their own beliefs and teacher are questioned and scrutinized. Because of this I have attempted to steer clear of quoting particular teachings and teachers but you did make unsubstantiated claims in your rebuttal of my comment that ‘peace on earth is not on the spiritual agenda’.
I am more than happy to pursue this matter further with you in order to verify the facticity of my statement.
PETER: ... you hope I will go away.
MODERATOR: We welcome all participants. Why do you think I’ve been posting your comments?
PETER: It is obvious that the only reason you began posting my comments was because you thought I was posing questions in the usual spiritual mode – question anything but the teachings and the teachers and question in such a way as to find only one answer. The only answer possible, if one chooses to question others beliefs and not your own, is that my beliefs must be TRUE because everyone else’s beliefs are false. I find both your statement and question ingenious, given that you have now stopped posting my comments because peace on earth is not a current or past topic of your spiritual magazine.
PETER: Sort of a polite pre-sentence comment, prior to cyber-execution?
MODERATOR: You’re welcome to keep posting in accordance with the new focus.
PETER: Which means I can only talk about, or raise questions about, the things you want to talk about and not at length.
PETER: To avoid vagueness do you have a number-of-words limit per post? It seems a fairer way of avoiding arbitrary judgements based on prejudice.
MODERATOR: No limit. Let’s hope for judgments based on good discrimination.
PETER: What do you need to hope for? You’re making the judgements and all you need to do is decide what is good and what is bad according to your terms of reference. But I do appreciate your dilemma. Throughout the spiritual world, moderators all have the same problem in how far do they allow their faith to be questioned before imposing discrimination. It’s usually a delicate balancing act unless the perceived threat becomes significant, in which case, more draconian measures are needed which can then lead down the path of repression, conflict, hostility, retribution, vengeance etc. ...
Judgements based on sensible discrimination as in reviewing the facts and considering what works is very straightforward but in the spiritual world making ‘judgments based on good discrimination’ is indeed a tricky business.
It is unfortunate that your magazine is not willing to question all that is illusionary for that is the key to an actual freedom. The ages-old spiritual idea of Good and Evil needs to be questioned in its totality for the impassioned mind-game of transcending Evil in order to find God is on its last legs. It may well whimper on for a few hundred years, sustained by a few renunciate fundamentalists, but fear-driven spiritual belief has less and less relevance in these times of increasing knowledge, safety, comfort, leisure and pleasure.
It’s time for a new, non-spiritual down-to-earth freedom from the human condition of malice and sorrow.
PETER: Hi No 7,
I am wondering if my posts are being posted to the list?
I don’t get them back myself so am unsure as to what is happening.
Could you perhaps enlighten me?
PETER: Hi No 7,
I am wondering if my posts are being posted to the list?
I don’t get them back myself so am unsure as to what is happening.
Could you perhaps enlighten me?
Just thought I’d send this message again as I got no reply.
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