Peter’s Correspondence on Mailing List B
Correspondent No 10
RESPONDENT: Sweden calling! (born Finn though). Just to let you know that my native language isn’t English and that might explain some misspellings and such ... it takes an awful lot of time checking the spelling of every other word. I followed the exchange with you and others even though I didn’t participate actively, I had my hands full just absorbing the extensive mails ... you must have been working long hours to respond to all of the mails ... or maybe you are very connected to the lord above and the divine wisdom just FLOWS through you ... hehe ...
PETER: When I reply to someone on the mailing list I always assume I am writing not only to one person but to all on the list – after all, sharing of experiences, discoveries and information is the point of enquiring mailing lists. Mere Guru-bashing is a waste of time and is most usually undertaken by cynical spiritualites or real-world cynics.
My motivation in writing is peace on earth and my main point on this list was to point out that it was not even on the spiritual agenda. So, I do take care in writing and attempt not only to point out what doesn’t work and why, but also to clearly offer a method of discovering an actual down-to-earth freedom rather than the synthetic ‘other’-worldly spiritual freedom that has been the only thing on offer to date.
RESPONDENT: I really appreciate your approach of questioning EVERYTHING, even the sacred spiritual traditions, gurus and all. I think it’s absolutely ESSENTIAL for everybody to be very adventurous and bold in their investigation of life to avoid getting trapped in conformity and dependence etc.
PETER: Yes, indeed. Anyone sufficiently adventurous and bold enough in their investigations as to how to become free from the human condition of malice and sorrow would naturally want to investigate and become free of every aspect of the human condition and not remain trapped in any illusion, belief, imagination or impassioned feeling, no matter how seductive.
The Human Condition is that set of beliefs, conditionings and instincts that forms the habitual and neuro-biological program by which human beings currently operate and have done so, with few significant changes, ever since the first recorded civilizations. It can be likened to the ‘rules of the game’, defining the parameters and limits of what it is to be a human being that have been established and embellished, over tens of thousands of years. These rules ‘set in concrete’ both our instinct-based behaviour and the overlaying beliefs that form our gender, tribal, spirit-ual and world concepts.
Thus it is established that ‘we are the way we are, because this is the way we are’ and further – ‘this is the way we will always be, because this is the way we have always been’ – simply translated as ‘You can’t change Human Nature’. Bitter experience of continuous failure to curb instinctual animal fear and aggression, combined with the continual failure of morals, ethics and ideals has beget either cynical acceptance or fanciful spiritual belief as the prime mechanisms of coping with the Human Condition.
The very base of the ‘rules of the game’ that encodes and enshrines the Human Condition is what is known as Ancient Wisdom – that set of beliefs, myths, morals, ethics and psittacisms that has been passed on from generation to generation and venerated as the inviolate essence of what it is to be human. In the days of the ancients, the manifestations of instinctual fear and aggression were seen as being caused by evil spirits possessing the body and were appeased or exorcised by reverence, worship or sacrifice to the good spirits or Gods. There was no knowledge or understanding of the role that instincts play in human behaviour, as there is today.
The childhood imposition, by enticement or discipline, of a tribal role or social identity was a survival necessity both for the group and individual. Nowadays this same social conditioning can clearly be seen as creating and perpetuating the separate, distinct war-mongering groups of the past, be they ethnic, territorial or religious based. Thus, the Human Condition is built upon an archaic and inane set of ethics, morals, beliefs and false assumptions that have no relevance at all in this modern world. No wonder there is no solution to the human dilemma of malice and sorrow, given that we fervently insist on looking for a solution within the Human Condition – and then base our search for solutions on the wisdom and knowledge of our primordial ancestors.
The only way to become free from the Human Condition is to facilitate and actualize an end to both one’s social identity and one’s instinctual based primordial ‘self’. The elimination of the ‘identity’ in its entirety is simultaneously the demise of both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ within oneself. Then ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’ vanish forever along with the dissolution of the psyche itself ... that is the only place where they can live in. Because there is neither good nor evil in the actual world of sensual delight – where I live as this flesh and blood body – one lives freely in the world as-it-is with people as-they-are, actually free of the Human Condition of malice and sorrow.
RESPONDENT: I’m quite new to the spiritual scene, I have been studying Andrew’s teachings for about four years now and that’s actually the only experience I have, apart for being a human being, of course. What I mean is that before I came upon Andrew’s teachings I hadn’t been searching or looking very deeply either, so I’m glad that the teachings have served me as a way into a hopefully sincere investigation of life and the human predicament.
PETER: In my experience, one needs three essential prerequisites to become actually free of the human condition.
RESPONDENT: You really got me thinking, through Andrew’s teaching I’m (or I was ... don’t know anymore) convinced that there is a god, higher consciousness or whatever we want to call it, something bigger than ourselves. But now I’m leaning more towards letting it be a total mystery, there might be or there might not be a god. So let us concentrate ONLY on that we can work with, namely human existence on this earth. But I guess the trick is that we have to be able to see every aspect of humanity as it is before real change is possible ... and I suppose that’s what you’re doing in your theory (or fact) of the human basic instincts.
PETER: In my experience, it is essential to have at least a glimpse of humanity from the outside, as it were. In a pure consciousness experiences it was as though I had stepped out from the real world, complete with all its grim reality and spiritual fantasies, and emerged into the actual world.
One particular experience I remember well was bought on by an intense period of contemplation about the human condition – and my role in it. During this time, I remember 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.
RESPONDENT: Maybe this is where I’m still questioning your doctrine; can we be ABSOLUTELY convinced that we can rely on the so called facts ... I mean psychology, biology and other sciences investigating the human body and mind haven’t been known to be that exact this far. I agree that these findings are MORE likely to qualify as a ‘truth’ or ‘facts’.
PETER: Given that a simple definition of a fact is that it is something that can be verified by seeing, touching, hearing, smelling or tasting and that it demonstratively so to anyone. For instance, the computer monitor you are watching and these words on the monitor are facts. This may seem simplistic but many meta-physically inclined people have trouble with even this level of sensibility. The other definition of a fact is that it should work, and this should be able to be demonstrated, replicated and substantiated by repeatable experiments. This eliminates belief, trust, faith, hope, conviction, intuition and doubt from any investigation for one always has fact as a reliable touchstone.
In a PCE it is startlingly evident that the human condition we are born into doesn’t work – it begets either cynical acceptance or fanciful denial as the prime mechanisms of coping with malice and sorrow. It then becomes an imperative to question all the morals, ethics, ideals, theories, ideas, concepts, truths, doctrines and dogmas that have been passed on to us by those who were here before us. Once begun in earnest, this process does not result in endless questioning loops for as one replaces fact with belief one’s confidence grows to the point where one no longer needs to believe others – the very action of believing stops. This is not a meta-physical ‘knowing’ or feeling, but a sensible down-to-earth discovery and acknowledgement of the facts of human existence on earth. From this feet-on-the-ground state of increasing confidence and heightened sensuousness one is then able to step out of the human condition with gay abandon and impunity.
RESPONDENT: I suppose genuine spirituality is supposed to be a kind of pioneering work where one can investigate from another viewpoint ... I don’t really know ... but I DO believe that we should be humble and open towards the vastness of that we DO NOT KNOW, you must agree with that!? So the danger in holding on too tightly to one’s views is that one is very likely to miss something very important.
PETER: By using the term ‘genuine spirituality’ you are automatically implying there is a false spirituality and this highlights the root failure of the human belief in spirit-gods. Thus, ‘my’ way is the only way or the only truth, ‘my’ God is always the only genuine God, and this conviction, when it blossoms into a passionate conviction, is the root cause of all spiritual/ religious conflict. With any belief firmly entrenched in terms of true and false, right and wrong or good and bad, any sensible broad-ranging, free-wheeling investigation into the human condition is immediately thwarted and stifled, as was more than amply illustrated by the responses to my questions on mailing list B.
As for being humble, I wrote to No 9 from the list about pride and humility so I’ll post it here for your perusal.
As for being ‘open towards the vastness of that we DO NOT KNOW’, I find this a particularly insidious piece of advice from Eastern teachings aimed at preventing people from making a sensible assessment in order to seduce people into accepting what is, surrendering their will and melting into the Great Unknown.
RESPONDENT: But on the other hand ... there IS a lot of crap in the spiritual scene, people are far too naive and gullible ... that’s why the likes of you are needed, Peter, someone to rock the boat so to speak ... or in this case sink it to the bottom ... haha ...
PETER: Yes, a substantial part of actualism – the process by which it is possible to become actually free from the human condition – involves a clear-eyed look at both real-world and spiritual-world beliefs, morals, ethics, values, ideals, concepts, theories, philosophies, practices, etc. But one only looks at what others are doing, and feeling, as a way of questioning these behaviours and feelings within one’s own psyche.
After all, it is essential to fully take on board the fact that the only person you can change is you.
One of the substantial rewards for sticking my neck out, and rocking my boat, is that I am able to check what feelings, emotions and passions I encounter, name them and begin an investigation aimed at getting answers. This way I see the human condition in action in me and thus I am forced to do something about them
RESPONDENT: Do you really mean that you disregard every aspect of spirituality, aren’t there some insights that can be won within the spiritual traditions?
PETER: I have eliminated every skerrick of spiritual belief for it is but a belief, albeit an almost universal one.
Any passionate insights won within the spiritual traditions are always invariably taken as spiritual signs and affirmations of one’s selfish beliefs, unless they are sensible insights of doubt and dis-belief in which case they are summarily squashed. Even PCEs can be seized upon by the ‘self’ and turned into epiphanies, satoris or awakenings in order to further fuel one’s spiritual narcissism and give credence to one’s impassioned imagination of being a Saviour of humanity.
RESPONDENT: My conviction is that it is only about extraordinary individuals, regardless of what tradition (spiritual or non-spiritual) that one comes from.
PETER: What comes from the spiritual extraordinary beings such as Mr. Jesus of Nazareth and Mr. Siddhartha Gautama, to name but two of the many, are shaky mythical stories of their lives and character, a set of unliveable morals and ethics and an idea of human existence on this planet that is firmly rooted in ancient superstition and ignorance. We have dismissed the old views of the earth being flat, that women are full of little people that pop out every now again for some strange reason, that the planets are gods in the sky, that good spirits do battle with evil spirits in the cosmos, etc. And yet we still desperately cling to the concepts of a spirit-ual world in whatever image, a God by whatever name, and an ongoing life after death, in whatever form. We now know that we humans come from the meeting of a sperm and an egg, and after at least 3,500 years of spiritual belief, trust, faith and hope there is still no empirical evidence of an ‘other’ world apart from this physical, actual universe.
Any of the traditional stories, teachings or wisdoms coming from the extraordinary ancient spiritual ones still require faith, trust and hope for us to believe the stories to be true.
Non-spiritual is another matter. While the spiritualists have been busy sitting with their heads in the clouds in their churches, monasteries and ashrams other human beings have been getting on with the practical down-to-earth business of making life on earth more safe, comfortable, leisureable and pleasurable for human beings. Actualism is firmly in the latter category, for it is all about eliminating malice and sorrow in oneself. The next step in human progress is both obvious and urgent ... actualizing peace on earth.
RESPONDENT: The ideal being not to hold on to any tradition ultimately, taking no position. That is what the spiritual teachers tell us but I don’t think that they are living up to it. The first thing Andrew should do is to dissolve all his spiritual communities, then he would at least be one step closer to manifesting sanity on this earth. Not only does it not serve the thinking individual but it also creates distance to ‘the rest of the world’ ... us and them as I think you expressed it.
PETER: I see a life lived without taking a position as a life of confusion, bewilderment – a sort of Bob Dylan – being ‘blown by the wind’. Unless you search in order to discover answers for yourself – what is condemned as ‘taking a position’ – you are forever reduced to believing what others tell you is the truth or the Truth. It is interesting to note that those who say ‘take no position’ are usually those who most definitely have taken a position and then play every trick possible to avoid scrutiny and questioning by others of their venerable position.
Any investigation of the peace offered in spiritual teachings will reveal that what is on offer is an inner peace or a peace after death. The only way any spiritual followers can realize a pseudo peace on earth is by huddling together in their own separate communities, isolated from other communities and the evils of the world. A little look around will confirm this fact and also point to the tragic failure of many individuals to realize a feeling of ‘inner’ peace as well as bringing to light the inevitable conflict, suspicion and hostility that results between the many fear-full and so called peace-loving separate groups on the planet.
The feeling of isolation in my spiritual life in various communities was both a comfort for it gave the illusion of no-separation and peaceful co-existence but the problem always arose whenever I ventured ‘out’ into an increasingly alien world where other increasingly alien human beings lived.
RESPONDENT: By the way ... speaking about thinking, I have also been mainly interested in contemplation and not really tried meditation that much ... it doesn’t seem that interesting to me.
PETER: Personally, I found my immersion in the spiritual world a fascinating experience. I got to experiment with and experience all sorts of therapies, meditations, practices, teachings, Gurus, etc and eventually came to reject them all on the basis of they did not work. I would encourage anyone to do the same because then one can make a sensible judgement, based on personal experience as to whether something works or not. Of course, not every thing needs to be approached this way – if something is obvious from the experiences of others, from sufficient reliable evidence, from reading, from a check of historical records, etc. then one can also make a sensible informed decision. For example if you are buying a new computer monitor you search around for comparative information from reliable sources and make a judgment based on that. And yet when it comes to the most important decisions in life we willingly surrender common sense and make judgements based on belief and feelings.
RESPONDENT: I also have doubts about the enlightened condition ... you’re probably right in saying that it isn’t worth striving for and has no place on this earth. In fact it might not even exist other than in the twisted minds of a few deluded individuals ... look what you’ve done to me Peter ... shame on you ... hahaha ... ... ... If there indeed is very much relevance to the spiritual quest for enlightenment I can’t imagine there being anybody on this earth right now that is TOTALLY ‘transparent’ as I believe they say within the spiritual community.
PETER: On the mailing list I presented in my first posting, what should be regarded as a radical proposition –
It is up to you if you are interested in pursuing your own investigations further in order to make a sensible judgement of the statements I made. ‘Are they factual or not?’ is the basic investigation to be made and the exact same questions should be asked of the spiritual teachings and the teachers. If someone is willing to do this, then they are free to come to their own decisions about the current human dilemma, their part in it, and whether they want to stay ‘normal’, become ‘spiritual’ or investigate the third alternative.
RESPONDENT: Now to your discovery, here’s a few questions for you:
PETER: My own major experience of a pure consciousness experience occurred some ten years ago and lasted some 4 hrs. It was something that I soon dismissed from my memory at the time as normal life resumed again, and it was only by meeting someone who had been Enlightened for eleven years and managed to free himself from the delusion that I was twigged to remember it again. He had been searching for a way to live the pure consciousness experience 24 hrs. a day, every day, when instead of that he found himself ensnared in an altered state of consciousness. It was both hearing this man’s story and being able to recall a PCE myself that pointed me firmly in the direction of what the human potential actually is – sensuous purity and perfection as a flesh and blood body only and not imaginary Divinity and Immortality as a disembodied entity as the ancient ones have seduced us into believing.
PETER: The major reason was that I had experienced both a PCE and a Satori, and both of equal length. The only similarity between them is that they are both experienced as ‘other’ worldly – i.e. outside of one’s ‘normal’ experiencing of normally grim reality.
The Satori experience is of another world where ‘I’ feel love, oneness, wholeness, spaceless and timeless. The experience is ‘of the heart’, a feeling-only experience where normal ‘I’ am replaced with a new grander version who is at-one-with the universe. This experience is termed an altered state of consciousness whereby ‘my’ consciousness or perception is altered from fearful mortal to fearless immortal. All of this merely goes on in the head but is felt in the heart due to the increased chemical flows triggered by the primitive brain. Many altered states of consciousness experiences happen during a dark night of the soul when thoughts of hopelessness, depression, futility and even suicide are running. The very desperate near death thoughts can induce a near death experience that triggers a chemical flow to the body and brain that produces euphoric feelings. These feelings are usually accompanied by imaginary visions of a religious nature, dependant solely upon the person’s culture or current inclination. Thus it is that Christians can ‘hear’, ‘see’ or ‘feel’ the Lord or the white light leading to Heaven while Eastern religious followers feel Oneness, Wholeness, Godliness, God intoxicated or whatever. The tell-tale clue of an altered state of consciousness experience is that the ‘new perception’ is always cultural or religious specific and it is always accompanied by powerful emotions triggered by chemical flows from the instinctual primitive brain.
A pure consciousness experience, on the other hand, has neither an imaginary (cerebral) nor an affective (emotional) component.
PETER: Given that a PCE, or peak experience as it sometimes referred to, can often be induced by drugs or traumatic experiences that alter the brain’s chemical balance it would indicate that the onset of a PCE is neuro-biological phenomena. This is confirmed by the fact that modern neuro-biological research by Joseph LeDoux and others are beginning to trace emotions such as fear to the automatic reaction of the primitive brain. The amygdala in particular is being identified as the source that activates a flow of chemicals in the body as an automatic fight or flight response in the face of danger. This instinctual chemical flow reaches the neo-cortex or modern cognitive brain a split second later and is interpreted by the alien entity as psychological and/or psychic fear. In the PCE, it would seem that this pathway from the ancient instinctual brain to the modern cognitive brain no longer functions, i.e. it is temporarily blocked. The modern brain, thus freed from its instinctual ‘self’-centred passion-producing companion, the primitive brain (amygdala), is able to operate freely with a pure consciousness.
The physical senses – the stalks of the brain – are similarly freed of the ever-fearful guard duty that is imposed on the modern brain by the instinctual primitive brain. This freedom from chemical assault results in a startling sensate-only experience of the actual world that is best described as sensuous delight. It is as though colours are far more vibrant, sounds far louder, tastes more flavoursome, touch more sensual, smells more fragrant and everything is experienced as vibrant and not merely passive.
In the PCE, the experience of ‘self’-lessness, the lack of any instinctual passion, the clarity of thought and reflection and the heightened physical senses all accord with the neo-cortex being freed from the insidious influence of the animal instinctual reptilian brain. How this happens physically in a PCE is, to my knowledge, yet to be mapped by empirical science but there is clear evidence that a permanent disconnection has been deliberately induced by at least one person and is being deliberately induced by a handful of others.
This is, of course, a clinical scientific description only and the process cannot be separated from its psychological and psychic ramifications and, as such, the term ‘self’-immolation is a more evocatively accurate term to describe this process.
The inducing of a permanent state of pure consciousness experiencing is pioneering stuff at this stage, brand new and never been tried before in human history ... but the time is right and the experiment is well under way.
PETER: If you are happy with you as-you-are, and with being in the ‘real’ world, then it can be easily ignored – as it usually is.
PETER: Well, I happen to think I have made sufficient distinction between a PCE and an ASC for it to be more than matter of mere definition. I also think the response on the mailing list to my attempts to talk about peace on earth is a clear indication as to the fact that it matters. In the last hundred years over 160,000,000 human beings killed their fellow human beings in wars and over 40,000,000 human beings killed themselves in suicides.
All of the murder, rape, fighting, retribution, hostility, animosity, suspicion, fear, sadness, melancholy, loneliness, depression, and despair on this paradisiacal planet can be sheeted home to the animal instinctual passions in operation in human beings and no amount of praying to God or following God-men is going to do one iota to stop the carnage – in fact, it only adds to it.
PETER: Rather than being ‘absolutely convinced’, I have a solid confidence based on empirical scientific facts, my own practical experiences both in the real and spiritual worlds and an experiential investigation of my own psyche in operation. I also have the verification of checking my findings with others involved in the experiment. I mostly go by my day-to-day, ever-increasing, experience of the perfection and purity of the actual world. I enjoy all of my interactions with my fellow human beings, no matter what their particular beliefs or passions are. Nor am I trying to convince you of anything, for then you would only be swapping one belief for another, which you would no doubt agree, is a futile exercise. I am unabashedly offering a third alternative, and being as concise as possible about it, for the reward for self-immolation is peace on earth.
RESPONDENT: I hope that you are interested in responding to my thoughts ... since we can’t use the list for this kind of inquiry, as I understood.
PETER: I do enjoy writing and it is a particular pleasure when someone shows a curious interest rather than the usual mind-washed knee-jerk objections. This post has got lengthy but your questions deserved detailed and considered answers.
RESPONDENT: Thanks for your very extensive writings. Interesting stuff as always.
PETER: It is a pleasure to write to someone who is interested in enquiring and finding out rather than the usual objections and dismissals. Most spiritual people disparage thinking for themselves, preferring instead to hang on to feeling exactly how everyone else is feeling in their particular group. The other common theme is a denial of having to find out the facts for oneself, preferring instead to believe what everyone else says to be the Truth.
RESPONDENT: Let me start by explaining my understanding of a few concepts that I mentioned in my mail a little further.
Humility: My view is that there actually is something that could be called true humility, not meaning that we should bow to higher powers or to some authority. Not some kind of pretence that we’re trying to portrait in a suitable manner. True humility can be expressed as openness, spontaneity, non-rigidity and lack of self-consciousness, at least to some degree.
PETER: Well, openness means ‘absence of secrecy, or reserve; frankness, candour, sincerity’, according to the Oxford Dictionary. I think you might agree that these qualities fall into the ‘ideal’ basket as far as human beings are concerned. The lost, lonely, frightened and very cunning entity that dwells within the flesh and blood body of every human has a dark side of instinctual passions that needs to be hidden from others. It is only when this entity is absent, as in the ‘self’-less state of a pure consciousness experience, that the ideal of openness is seen as but one of the many unachievable human ideals that attempts to mimic actual innocence and perfection.
The spiritual version of openness is being vulnerable, which means
Many spiritual seekers distort the word vulnerability to be a sign of being ‘sensitive’ to others or being psychically ‘tuned in’ to others. However, human beings are sometimes open, sometimes closed, sometimes defensive, sometimes attacking but always wary and on-guard, for this is our instinctual programming in operation. Whilst one remains a ‘self’ one cannot help but have one’s guard up, both psychologically and psychically, for the body is programmed for self-defence, which the entity inside automatically interprets as ‘self’-defence.
The other qualities you mention are also ideals that humans struggle to maintain in a constant battle to control their instinctual emotions. Most do reasonably well, except when push comes to shove, and all ideals, morals and ethics are off in times of threat, conflict and war.
Actual innocence lies beyond ‘self’-immolation. Given that the very nature of the actual universe is both pure and perfect, these same qualities are then automatically and spontaneously the qualities of one who lives in Actual Freedom.
RESPONDENT: Taking no position = The ending of all fixed ideas and defensiveness.
PETER: This sounds as though it is the advice of someone who doesn’t want you to make your mind up about anything. This theory is not applied in the world of practical things and events. We humans take many positions. Where we work, where we live, who we live with, what we wear, what we eat, what we want to believe and what we chose not to, what car we drive, what computer program we use, etc. And yet, when it comes to the most vital questions as to human existence, the universe and what it is to be a human being, we are extolled by the Wise Ones to abandon taking a position? Should Galileo not have taken a position, should Columbus have never left Spain, should Pasteur not have taken a position, should Darwin not have taken a position, should LeDoux not take a position? Why should you not take a position about your life?
In the spiritual world taking a position in support of a belief is deemed highly desirable and is rewarded and welcomed by other like-minded believers, but taking a position based on facts and empirical scientific evidence has always been roundly condemned by the church, for facts are anathema to believers. All of the great leaps forward that have increased human safety, comfort, leisure and pleasure have been resisted by spiritual believers and it is only when empiricism broke from the church in the Middle Ages that intelligence began to hold sway over fear-ridden superstition and arcane belief.
Should you take a position based on fact and discard belief you too will run the gauntlet of scorn, derision and ostracization for that is the price to pay for walking upright and free in the world; but the rewards are far in excess of the spiritual ideals for they are actual, tangible, palpable and ever-present. Once you get a taste of what is actual, any synthetic feeling is seen as a paltry second-best.
RESPONDENT: Not knowing: To acknowledge the fact that there still is very much that our human minds can’t grasp and that we might never comprehend fully. To be open for the unthinkable possibility.
PETER: This physical universe is infinite – as big as it gets – and eternal – without a beginning or end – so it is inconceivable that humans will ever know all there is to know. Already the published discoveries are so much more than is possible for any one person to know. Even in one field of science or practical endeavour the amount of study, research and papers published would exceed the capacity of any one person to comprehend, let alone absorb.
But 3,500 years on from the ancient Wise Ones we do know that praying to God, or believing in and surrendering to God-men, has not brought peace to earth, quite the contrary.
Up until now spiritual teachings have been impossible to question openly and sensibly for they were jealously guarded by the priests and their fervent followers, and even then to abandon belief would have meant going back to a God-less existence in the ‘real’ world, bereft of any hope. Thus it is that people usually swap beliefs – Western for Eastern, Heavenly God for Mother Earth, etc. – rather than stop believing in God by whatever name.
Thanks to the Internet we can now conduct our own independent research as to the facticity of Ancient Wisdom and trace it back to its original teachings, we can compare the many Truths on offer and stop the game of pretending that not knowing is a sign of wisdom rather than of stubborn ignorance. There is simply no excuse for not knowing what the Truth is, and when this is discovered each of us is then capable of taking a position as to whether to keep believing in it or abandoning it.
We humans now have enough information at our fingertips to stop ‘not knowing’ and begin to know about life, the universe and what it is to be a human being. This knowledge, when combined with the experiential knowledge of the human potentiality as experienced in a pure consciousness experience, is the key to freedom from the human condition.
‘To be open for the unthinkable possibility’ usually means to be open to God, by whatever name, or ‘to be open’ to all sorts of spurious meta-physical theories, such as space-time continuums, dark matter, black holes, cyclic time, time reversing universes, parallel universe, etc.
RESPONDENT: These qualities/values can be very useful when investigating in a serious manner. I don’t think they contradict with empirical studies either, they could be used when formulating theses and in theoretical science for example. They might not be that useful in every execution of a study in the laboratory, then it’s of course our rational ‘side’ of our minds that are good at structuring and comparison that rule.
PETER: It is our fellow human beings, the practical scientists, chemists, engineers, explorers and the like that have given we humans very useful things. The Gurus, philosophers, theoretical scientists and the like have given us nothing but theories, beliefs, concepts, ideas, scenarios, dreams, nightmares, hope and hopelessness.
As I began to abandon the spiritual world, I serendipitously discovered someone who had abandoned Enlightenment and had worked out a ruthlessly effective empirical method for eliminating one’s social identity and all of one’s instinctual passions. Give me something that works over an ideal or a theory any day.
RESPONDENT: Don’t you think that these qualities actually could help in experiencing the PCE? If one is going to be able to perceive life directly as it really is instead of trying to force reality upon us (ASC) I think that we have tremendous use of humility and openness.
PETER: If one begins by feeling humble and then goes searching for an experience of something other than grim reality, I suspect one will end up finding a Greater Reality to feel humble to and feelings of gratitude will come sweeping in. By being ‘open for the unthinkable possibility’ any form of impassioned imagination is possible.
However, if your search is for purity and perfection and you keep whittling away at your beliefs, then one day while wistfully contemplating and softly relaxing, you might notice a sensuous delight, a vibrancy in things around you, a perfection and purity, a silence and infinitude beyond imagination. But be careful not to seize the experience as yours or you will feel the chest swell and the head swoon and in will flood passionate imagination to replace actual delight.
RESPONDENT: Even though life is factual, both you and I know that there are some obstacles that prevent us from living life as it is, our instinctual programming for one.
PETER: Because your existence as a flesh and blood body is factual the obstacles that prevent you from being happy and harmless have a factual grounding. The spiritual seekers who went before us were right about one thing – ‘who’ we think we are is illusionary. They dared not question ‘who’ they felt they were deep down inside, for to consider eliminating that was death itself – extinction, not transcendence. To challenge this instinctual self is to release a cocktail of chemicals producing fear and dread or, if salvation is imagined, ecstasy and euphoria. The Enlightened ones chose ecstasy and euphoria and their miraculous salvation drives them to be saviours of mankind. Thus is born yet another God-man and yet another religion if he musters enough followers by his charismatic Presence.
Both ‘who’ you think you are and ‘who’ you feel you are the obstacles that prevent you from being happy and harmless but we all know that from the peak experiences we have had. I found it was simply a matter of having the courage and dignity to stop denying that knowing.
RESPONDENT: I think there is great subtlety to these matters and therefore I think it is very essential to be open and not try to control life in anyway. I mean, doesn’t self-immolation imply that we’re able to give up ALL our limiting ideas about life and ourselves in a sense so that we can live the actuality of life. You said that a PCE can often be drug related and that also implies that we need to let go of ourselves and let life really show itself.
PETER: I see nothing subtle about the animal instinctual passions in humans when our normal methods of controlling them break down. Unless this fundamental genetic programming is addressed in our search for freedom, peace and happiness, any attempts to let go of control will end up as in the traditional delusions generated by the ‘good’ instinctual passions running amok.
One needs to dismantle one’s social identity – all the beliefs, morals and ethics that have been instilled in us since birth, and then take a clear-eyed look at the instinctual passions in operation in ourselves – both the tender passions and the fierce passions – in order to become actually free of the human condition.
RESPONDENT: Another matter, you suggest that a sincere seeker could try out different spiritual practices and methods as you yourself have done to check the validity of them. I’m a bit surprised in hearing you say that, OK nothing beats our own experience for evaluating things, but I didn’t expect that you of all people would suggest such a thing. Is it really wise to screw with our minds in every thinkable way with the risk of getting caught in delusion? Wouldn’t you agree that the years you spent in the spiritual arena was a waste of time from one point of view? So I’m questioning your stand in this matter a little bit. In knowing what you know today the natural thing would be to advise others to stay away from the gurus and all, to have nothing to do with the sickened spiritual scene. This seems like a contradiction to me.
PETER: What I said was –
If you are discontent with your life as-it-is in the real world and can see by experience and sensible investigation that the spiritual world offers no solution then you may well be in a position to try something different. It is your life and your freedom and I only made the comment in case you are just looking for another belief to replace your spiritual beliefs.
On the path to an actual freedom from the human condition, to be a mere advocate of, or believer in, actualism is a second-rate choice. An actualist is someone who is actively, intently, stubbornly, full bloodedly, whole-heartedly and totally consumed in the pursuit of an individual actual freedom from the human condition. An actualist is concerned with action not advocacy, and with practical implementation and radical change, not theoretical observation and superficial adaptation.
To undertake this process one needs to firmly know that both the real world and the spiritual world offer no solutions and how you come to that knowledge and understanding, if you do, is your business entirely. I was simply making a suggestion based on my experience but I also realize that those who follow this increasingly trodden path need not have to experience all that those who went before did.
However any pioneering effort in the early days needs a boots-and-all approach or you will either not start or turn back at the sign of the first storm.
RESPONDENT: The reason I bring this up is that I’m interested in seeing everything clearly and as untainted as humanly possible, if there is going to be any hope for mankind we have to be able to rid ourselves of every false notion and face the stark reality of life as it is and to be able to see what we’re actually doing. Delusion has endlessly many faces and it’s a constant challenge to avoid getting caught in a limited view, most people aren’t really interested in the facts of life but prefer to stick to obvious misconceptions, obvious even to themselves. Not many dare to live a life of integrity. So that’s why it’s important that you and I and everybody else really look into our motives for the way we act in the world and how we relate to every aspect of human existence.
PETER: I would hazard a guess that your emphasis on integrity is why you have dared question the spiritual life where any integrity is forsaken for surrender, loyalty, faith, discipline, trust, humbleness, conformity. Integrity demands that we humans find a way to walk upright in the world as-it-is, free, beholden to no-one, happy and harmless – actually free of malice and sorrow.
RESPONDENT: Question: Once again, how do you relate to the possibility of there being a god or something else beyond our comprehension, are you even interested in that enigma?
PETER: Personally I have no belief in God by whatever name, therefore the notion of God has ceased to exist. When one stops believing, hoping, trusting and having faith that something exists it simply withers away by itself.
I recently saw an interview with a Christian monk who said the first thing he was going to ask God was ‘How come there is so much pain and suffering?’ – an excellent question I thought. If there is a god or something that is pulling the strings or creating all this human suffering then it is about time we told He/She/It to butt out.
The excellent thing about stopping believing in God as the ultimate authority was that I was able to grasp the tiller, so to speak, and steer the boat away from the rocks – including the rock of Enlightenment.
RESPONDENT: Next I would like to describe a few experiences I’ve had and maybe get some feedback from you.
These experiences have lasted only for a few minutes but in my memory they stand out as small fragments of true happiness.
The essence of the experience is purity and simplicity and fullness.
PETER: It is useful when having any experiences to use your awareness to check inside, as it were. Is there a ‘me’ or an ‘I’ inside this flesh and blood body? If so, what am ‘I’ feeling and then try to put a name to the feelings. The only value in having any experience is what you learn from it so that you can use to dismantle what is preventing you from being happy and harmless in the world as-it-is, with people as-they-are. What I found useful was have a notebook handy so I could jot down what was happening in order that I didn’t forget or misinterpret later when I was back to normal again.
Anyway, I decided to pray to God (for a little comfort I suppose), I asked God to show himself so that I could believe in him. I wasn’t into religion at all at that age nor did I think about spiritual matters. The prayer came out of the blue and I certainly didn’t expect an answer to it.
BUT, something really happened that night. I woke up (it was much too powerful to have been just a dream) and felt an unbelievably strong energy in my body; I haven’t experienced anything like it before or after that night. I was feeling scared but also excited, (mostly scared actually) and suddenly I found myself hovering near the ceiling of the cabin. I was ‘flying’ towards the door and I remember that I could see my mates in their beds. When I came closer to the door I got quite scared, fearing that I would disappear into the Swedish summer night and I soon found myself ‘floating’ back to my bed.
PETER: I have had two similar experiences. As a kid I used to have dreams of flying which were both exhilarating and scary, and I have talked to others who have had similar dreams. When I first wandered off down the spiritual path I had an ‘out of body’ experience while meditating – there was ‘me’ hovering above my body sitting on the floor, attached by a golden cord. To me it proved what a powerful and consuming thing my imagination could be. Any thinking that is unrestrained by common sense and unrelated to sensorial input, as in the dream or meditation state simply becomes disconnected, disassociated, jumbled and downright weird in most cases. When thinking is overwhelmed by chemical surges from the amygdala as in a ‘dark night of the soul’, a near-death experience and the like, all sorts of cultural/ spiritual imaginations can be experienced, many of them either frightfully real or blissfully real, depending on the chemical flow at the time.
What happens is as follows; I’m with other people in a group, let’s say that I’m at the Andrew Cohen centre of impersonal enlightenment in Stockholm discussing some issue over a cup of tea. Sometimes I can feel very uncomfortable in a group and not actually being part of the discussion. Then what happens is that in a split second I find myself very much a part of the group and I’m suddenly seeing everybody else much clearer, I’m not at all occupied with myself and my personal problems anymore. The instant before I was utterly self-conscious and suffering because of that, only interested how I came across to the rest of the group. On the most powerful occasion I was actually looking at myself from my companion’s point of view, it was almost as if I was in their body and could see exactly what they were perceiving, their experience was more important than my experience in that moment.
PETER: I would hazard a guess that you are picking up on the psychic energy of others in these situations. I have had many similar situations whilst in groups and there is an overwhelming surge of chemicals that emanates when one feels safe and assured in the company of others. There is an instinctual gratitude that one feels protected, sheltered, included, wanted, loved. This can even manifest as a deep feeling of ‘coming home’, of having found one’s true self and having found one’s true friends. Collectively, this is manifest as a fierce group loyalty and a feeling of ‘we are the chosen ones’. The opposite feeling, when picking up on the psychic energy of others, is to feel isolated, an outsider, under suspicion, unwanted and unloved. These feelings are usually quickly dismissed for they lead down the path of loneliness, sorrow, depression and despair. Many people simply hang around in spiritual groups for the feel-good psychic energy rather than risk abandoning the group entirely for that would mean having to face and deal with the unwanted or undesirable emotions.
When exploring emotions and feelings it is quite extraordinary to discover how much of what we think and feel is influenced by others. The bottom line that always drove me into this investigation was the evidence of the harm this collective psychic energy can manifest in the world. Mass hysteria, be it for good or evil, has produced some of the most horrendous acts of violence and brutality – all committed by normally peace-loving people who are overcome with the extreme passion generated in what is known as a group high.
The psychological and psychic entity within us is driven by the body’s survival program to be psychically on-guard, continually searching for who is friend to love and who is foe to hate, but even with friends our suspicion, intuition or gut feelings will never let us drop our guard completely.
Thus, actual intimacy with other human beings can only occur in a ‘self’-less state, either temporarily in a PCE, or permanently in actual freedom.
PETER: By being totally immersed in the doing of what is happening, many people experience brief pure consciousness experiences. Often people have these experiences in what they term creative moments where it appears as though ideas simply appear in the brain as the result of one’s attention being totally focused on the doing of what is happening. This can bring a sensate satisfaction equivalent to the delight of the physical senses. The brain delights in clear thinking, exactly as do the taste buds delight in a delicious meal or the eyes delight in the colours of a gay street scene. What the ‘self’ does is make judgements as to these inputs, valuing them as we have been taught to as good or bad, right or wrong, ugly or beautiful, etc. while our instinctual programming causes us to be ever on-guard psychically and psychologically.
All this ‘self’-centred programming in the brain actively conspires to prohibit our sensual enjoyment of this moment of being alive.
RESPONDENT: Very well, I don’t known exactly why I’m telling you this or if you have something to say about these experiences, I guess I have a need to communicate my experience; with the Cohen bunch I’ve always felt restricted and limited because everything is supposed to be impersonal and fit into the context of Andrew’s teachings. This impersonal perspective is actually quite dangerous in my opinion. It makes people hide from themselves and prevents them from seeing what they really need to work with, insecurity and lack of self-esteem for instance.
By the way, have you read much of Andrews’s teachings? It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on his message, but as you say, it is the ancient teachings that he is teaching with maybe some small variations. It isn’t anything new; you’re right about that. What is refreshing is that he puts focus on THIS life and doesn’t want to discuss reincarnation and life after death at all ... ... maybe it’s something for you Peter? (just kidding of course).
PETER: I do find it curious that Andrew Cohen, along with many other New Dark Age gurus, is reluctant to discuss reincarnation and life after death. If they purport to great wisdom why not talk about these issues? Why not face them full-on, take a position and declare a position? Surely if someone believes in a life after death for one’s spirit or soul or whatever other name, then that profoundly affects their view on what it is to be a human being on earth, their view of the universe and their outlook to life. What attracted me to Andrew Cohen in my spiritual days was his so-called radicalism but when I dug in a bit what I discovered was radical fundamentalism – a very dangerous cocktail in the spiritual world.
As to his teachings – my major focus these days is peace on earth and the moderator of this list challenged me the other day by saying Andrew Cohen spoke about peace on earth in his writings. Here is my response and what I found in his writings –
RESPONDENT: To finish off I would like to ask you what qualities you see in a realized person, how should one live on this earth ideally in your view?
PETER: The main quality I see evident in a self-realized person is megalomania –
When full-blown, this delusion becomes the condition of theomania.
The other qualities are the full range of human passions and feelings, some of which have been subjugated to an extent that they only rarely emerge to public notice. I have personally seen and experienced many of the ‘self-realized’ being angry, pissed off, annoyed, frustrated, melancholy, feeling sorrow for themselves and others, feeling lost, feeling lonely, etc. It does make one wonder what is the substance of the psychic power they hold over people and why people surrender so willingly to their power?
As for, ‘how should one live on this earth ideally in your view?’ My experience that is no matter how much one cleans oneself up from the beliefs, morals, ethics and psittacisms that are the substance of one’s social identity, no matter how much one frees oneself from the grip of instinctual passions, one can never be 100% perfect and pure while remaining a ‘self’. Ultimate peace and happiness lies beyond the death of ‘me’, for ‘I’ am rotten at the core.
RESPONDENT: In other words, how does one manifest self-immolation, what are the implications of this radical insight? I mean, this is what it comes down to, what we give out to the world and not what ideals we have acquired.
PETER: One manifests self-immolation by devoting one’s life to it. Only by making it the most important ambition in one’s life will one be successful.
The implication is peace on earth for you as a flesh and blood body only, in this lifetime, and the freeing of others around you of the burden of you being ‘you’.
RESPONDENT: Also you wrote that there is a person who lives this new insight on a permanent basis, is it you Peter? (you don’t need to respond).
PETER: I have been pursuing this path to actual freedom for 3 years now and live in a state best defined as virtual freedom. Here is a bit I wrote to describe this state –
Good, hey ...
RESPONDENT: Are these findings spreading rapidly, you mentioned that there are others that are trying to live this perspective?
PETER: It is only 3 years since Richard, the discoverer of this state beyond enlightenment, has begun to publish his findings and already an extensive web-site is available with a wealth of information on Actual Freedom, the human condition and the process to become free of the human condition. Some 20 people have joined the mailing list, with over 1,000 posts in the archives which is no insignificant figure considering the ingrained cynicism amongst seekers of freedom and the radical newness of actual freedom.
RESPONDENT: Is there any literature or other sources of information on the matter? (not that I need it right now when I have the benefit of communicating with you).
I am enjoying our correspondence and your questions, so please feel free to continue if you wish.
RESPONDENT: Here’s something for you to sink your teeth in ...
PETER: Objections to becoming happy and harmless are par for the course, and beliefs and psittacisms are grist for the mill, for an actualist. If you had visited the Actual Freedom web-site you might have noticed that hundreds of correspondents have written to us, all loudly proclaiming the old way of doing things is best and that the spiritual teachers and the sacred teachings should not and cannot be questioned. It reminds me of that spiritual story of the woman looking outside her hut where there is more light for a needle she has dropped inside in the dark. The current situation is that everyone is looking for peace on earth were billions of people have looked for millennia and a handful of actualists say it’s not over there with the old beliefs or else it would have been found by now. We are saying it is right here but everyone is afraid to leave the crowd of humanity stumbling around in the dark, and mainly for fear of leaving the spiritual crowd.
PETER: It is our fellow human beings, the practical scientists, chemists, engineers, explorers and the like that have given we humans very useful things. The Gurus, philosophers, theoretical scientists and the like have given us nothing but theories, beliefs, concepts, ideas, scenarios, dreams, nightmares, hope and hopelessness. As I began to abandon the spiritual world, I serendipitously discovered someone who had abandoned Enlightenment and had worked out a ruthlessly effective empirical method for eliminating one’s social identity and all of one’s instinctual passions. Give me something that works over an ideal or a theory any day.
RESPONDENT: You’re quite a fundamentalist yourself, Peter. Now you ditch theoretical science and philosophy! I must say that you’re doing very well in taking YOUR position at least. Nobody can accuse you of not standing up for your views.
PETER: An actualist is a more accurate term, for it is not ‘me’ taking a position but the facts speaking for themselves. You could add pragmatist to the description but I’ll leave the word fundamentalist for the religious crowd.
RESPONDENT: But as I pointed out before I think that you might be going a bit too far in being that categorical and narrowing everything down to the extreme. I mean, if you don’t watch yourself you’re going to find yourself in the same predicament as the spiritual teachers, they also have a habit of oversimplification and trying to narrow down their worldview to fit their purpose. I’m just sceptical of that kind of approach, it only leads to division amongst human beings.
PETER: The teachings of the spiritual teachers, particularly those espousing Eastern religion and philosophy, are anything but simple and anything but narrow. The Western theological discussions about how many angels can fit on the head of a pin are nothing compared with the Eastern obscurations about what is Enlightenment, is Enlightenment a perfect state, what is ego, what is illusion and what is real, who or what survives after death, etc. What a confusing and bewildering mess it all is, and it is only clear to me now that I am outside the spiritual world, why this is so. They are indeed attempting to describe the indescribable for the spiritual world does not exist beyond their impassioned imaginations.
I do find your change of tack a bit abrupt, for you were speaking somewhat in actualist terms in your last post when you said –
Something in our recent conversation does seem to have changed your mind a bit from your previous stance.
RESPONDENT: You of course would argue that your point of view is evidently more sane since you have the empirical proof to back it up. But I can’t see the use of dismissing the theoretical side of science and everything else that isn’t possible to verify directly by empirical methods.
PETER: The problem I found with believing others’ theories and ideals was that they are changeable over time as more factual evidence became available, or as fashions changed. Further theories and ideals are culturally and spiritually influenced and the many variations only open up rich avenues of conflict, confusion, fantasy and fear, hope and hopelessness. Believing theories merely added more fuel to the fire of my instinctual passions, imaginations, dreams and nightmares – which is why I eventually abandoned the very act of believing.
Give me a fact any day.
RESPONDENT: What I’m trying to say is that you must be aware that many people might see you as an empirical fascist, stubbornly claiming your view and disregarding everything else.
PETER: What I’ve come to see is that people will do anything but face the facts and calling me ‘an empirical fascist’ is but mild compared with some of the comments I have had. It is no coincidence that this message – that an actual freedom from malice and sorrow is now possible – is being spread via the Internet for it is proving to be both a safe and anonymous way of conducting a free-wheeling, non-popularist, non-spiritual examination of the human condition.
RESPONDENT: Don’t you think that the modern approach of science is more inclusive than exclusive, isn’t that something we’ve also learned along the line of evolution?
PETER: Theoretical science has always been grounded in mysticism, be it Western or the now fashionable version of Eastern mysticism. All theoretical cosmology can best be described as mystical cosmology for their search is based on proving a theory that they cannot prove by empirical observation – that there was a beginning and that there may be an end to the physical universe and that there is ‘something else’ or ‘somewhere else’ apart from this observable physical universe. Ever since the time of Albert Einstein’s mystical theory of a space-time continuum, a lot of common sense has gone out the window in both the search for the big picture and the search for the micro picture. When scientists lose their grip on sensate actuality and go searching for a greater reality they are following a long tradition of mysticism.
What we have learned from any form of mysticism is that all it produces is yet even more fanciful versions of mysticism.
RESPONDENT: That it’s helpful with crossovers in the search for new insights, to take in information from all valid areas, including theoretical science etc. The great explorers and practical scientists have contributed to mankind, yes, but they were also quite limited in many aspects and TERRIBLE human beings in some cases, they were also very influenced by their cultures that were anything but civilized.
PETER: Ah, well now you are talking about something different, which is human behaviour. Are you saying we should look to mysticism for the solution to peace on earth – an actual ‘civilization’ of human beings rather than the current fragile veneer of civilization, liable to break down at any moment, in any place? Surely the mystics have had long enough to prove their case. Mysticism, spirituality and religion have proven to be rotten to their sacred core – both the teachers and the teachings.
RESPONDENT: So you can’t put them on a pedestal either even though they have achieved results, maybe it wasn’t even worth the prize in some cases. The great explorers also managed to kill and exploit quite a few individuals in their quest for new discoveries.
PETER: You are putting words in my mouth again. What I said is that these practically oriented people have contributed far more to human comfort, safety, leisure and pleasure than have all the mystics, shamans, God-men, priests, theoretical/ mystical scientists and the like. As a human being I enjoy a myriad comforts and pleasures that were developed by my fellow human beings and I unreservedly appreciate the efforts of those who were here before me and who struggled to make human life no longer a matter of grim physical survival. The point you are conveniently ignoring is – why do we abandon this practical down-to-earth approach when it comes to finding a way to bring freedom, peace and happiness in our life? Why do we continuously look where billions of well-meaning seekers have looked before? Why do we still pray to God or look to God-men for the solution to peace on earth when peace on earth is not even on their agenda?
RESPONDENT: Even though spirituality has failed in many aspects we can’t know what the world would have looked like today without spirituality. It might, it just might be that we would be looking at an even greater mess today if it hadn’t been for spirituality etc.
PETER: That’s probably the limpest argument for spirituality I’ve come across in a long while. Given that over 160,000,000 human beings were killed by other human beings in wars in the last century, all of whom undoubtedly prayed to their God before dying, I fail to see your point. Are you saying that without God or the God-men even more would have been killed? How much worse do you want this present century to become before you question whether spirituality may well be a part of the problem and not the only solution?
This century it may well be Eastern countries and followers of Eastern spirituality that conduct a nuclear stand-off. Do you have abiding confidence that those who regard their existence on the planet as transitory or the physical world as illusionary, will be more concerned about not pressing the button than those monotheistic materialists of the West?
Have you not noticed that it is the pragmatic imposition of laws and regulations upheld by courts, judges, jails, armed police and armies that prevents ‘an even greater mess today’ rather than the prayers said in churches or the consciousness-raising meditations in the ashrams and sanghas?
I would remind you of your stated position –
RESPONDENT: Your view is very materialistic in many ways and we both know that we have far too much of that in our society. Isn’t it the materialistic/ mechanic outlook on life, humans, possessions etc that in many ways creates our misery?
PETER: Who said that being comfortable, safe, warm, well fed, well clothed, well informed, well entertained, healthy, etc. creates our misery? How many people in the world haven’t got even a basic material level of shelter, food, water, education, medicine, etc – and is this not real misery?
This nonsense about the evils of materialism is put out by those miserable souls who have a vested interest in human beings believing that existence on earth is essentially a suffering existence – because it always has been, it always should be. All of spirituality, both Eastern and Western, teaches that human existence is essentially a suffering existence and also that ultimate peace is only possible after physical death – i.e. anywhere but here and anytime but now. Added to this, the modern day religion of Environmentalism preaches that there is far too much material comfort and its believers actively work to deny others in less developed countries the material comforts they themselves enjoy.
I started my search for freedom, peace and happiness on the understanding that despite the fact that I had been successful in ‘real’ world terms – 2 cars, wife, 2 kids, house, good career – I was neither free, nor peaceful nor happy. For me the question was ‘How come I have everything I could desire and yet I was neither happy nor harmless?’ I discovered that to blame materialism for human malice and sorrow is to believe the spiritual viewpoint that life on earth is ultimately ‘unsatisfactory’, and to see physical comfort and sensual enjoyment as a sign of indulgence and evil.
What I eventually discovered was that the answer lay in an area considered by all to be impossible to question – the very feelings, emotions and instinctual passions that humans beings hold so dear.
RESPONDENT: I’m sure that many people would be extremely thrilled to hear about your view, than they would get even more confirmation of the fact that we’re just human animals of flesh and blood and not really responsible for our actions. It’s all chemicals rushing around in the body, we just can’t help but acting upon our instincts.
PETER: Are you kidding? No one takes responsibility for their actions anyway and how can they? Have you never experienced being overcome by anger or a jealous rage? Have you never experienced being overcome by sexual lust or swamped by feelings of deep sorrow? Have you never been overcome by fear or felt yourself sinking into a black pit of depression? Have you never felt grief such that it racks your body with pain? These are not experiences human beings can avoid while remaining bound to instinctual animal passions and it is these passions that make the human condition primarily one of malice and sorrow. The only way to become free of this ‘self’-imposed burden is ‘self’-immolation. The noble but ultimately failed idea that we can somehow cling to the tender, good instinctual passions while suppressing or transcending the savage, evil ones has clearly had its day.
It’s time for those who are vitally concerned about peace on earth to take responsibility and stop being contributors to malice and sorrow or becoming an escapist by burying their head in the clouds. But the fact that there is a third alternative is something that no one wants to really hear for to do so, even for a brief flash, would mean that they knew they were settling for second-best by pursuing the spiritual path to a synthetic freedom.
RESPONDENT: Further more I’m not sure that portraying us humans as merely ‘flesh and blood creatures’ and nothing else serves mankind in a constructive manner, it can function as an escape as I mentioned and also give rise to or strengthen cynicism.
PETER: There is no viewpoint more cynical about life on earth than that of spiritualists for they have already given up on earthly existence and have turned away to the spiritual world for solace and succour – anywhere but here and anytime but now. How more deeply cynical a view can one have about human existence than this? Depending on one’s spiritual beliefs, we believe we are all born sinners and can only be redeemed upon death, we are endlessly reborn into suffering until we discover the Truth, that this physical life is not real but there is a Greater Reality or that if we sacrifice our lives to God or some God-man we will get our reward in some imaginary afterlife. And overlaying all this cynicism and doom and gloom, humans are all taught to believe that ‘you can’t change human nature’ – i.e. this is the way it is because this is the way it has always been, so this is the way it always will be!
The fact is that we are flesh and blood creatures, created only by the meeting of a sperm and an egg, and the fact is we are mortal and we will die and any remaining matter will then rejoin the other matter on this planet.
The illusion is ‘who’ we think and feel we are – a social identity instilled since birth overlaid over an instinctual animal ‘self’.
The acknowledgement of both these simple facts means that one can escape one’s fate of being a lost, lonely, frightened and very cunning entity who feels trapped inside the flesh and blood body and thus one can realize one’s destiny – to be the physical universe experiencing itself as a flesh and blood human being.
RESPONDENT: Certainly we are driven by our instincts to a degree but that doesn’t mean that we need to surrender to our instincts. I think that that is what you are implying in a way.
PETER: Quite the opposite, in fact. The grand experiment of suppressing the savage instinctual passions by the carrot of instilling ‘good’ morals and ‘right’ ethics and the stick of imposing and enforcing regulations and laws has clearly failed, and will continue to fail, to actualize peace on earth. The current fashionable notion of transcending the savage instinctual passions while giving full reign to, and indulging in, the tender passions, has clearly failed as it has done for millennia in the East.
What is now available, for anyone sufficiently interested and motivated, is a method whereby they can eliminate these redundant instinctual survival passions, thereby actualizing peace on earth for themselves and freeing one’s fellow human beings of the burden these passions impose on others.
RESPONDENT: We’re lost for the time being but there might be a chance when we become more developed somewhere in the future. I would instead claim that peace on earth is possible NOW despite our apparent physical and psychological limitations.
PETER: Two very contradictory statements here. I take it that your first statement refers to some generational change, over hundreds if not thousands of years – so that counts you out in this lifetime. By your second statement you seem to be indicating you are going to accept your apparent limitations and put your faith in God.
For me, once I realized that I had got myself into the ridiculous situation where I had put my faith in God, or a God-man as it happened, I decided to take the helm and do a bit of determined steering myself. It was my life after all and it was clear that nobody was going to do anything about me, if I didn’t.
PETER: Personally I have no belief in God by whatever name, therefore the notion of God has ceased to exist. When one stops believing, hoping, trusting and having faith that something exists it simply withers away by itself.
I recently saw an interview with a Christian monk who said the first thing he was going to ask God was ‘How come there is so much pain and suffering?’ – an excellent question I thought. If there is a god or something that is pulling the strings or creating all this human suffering then it is about time we told He/She/It to butt out.
The excellent thing about stopping believing in God as the ultimate authority was that I was able to grasp the tiller, so to speak, and steer the boat away from the rocks – including the rock of Enlightenment.
RESPONDENT: That monk didn’t have very strong beliefs ... or maybe poor teachers. Even I was (should I use the past tense or not ... hmm) able to get past this stage in my relatively brief spiritual career.
PETER: You haven’t gone past this stage at all – you either haven’t gone far enough or you have just dabbled at the edges. All spiritual belief, both Western and Eastern, is founded on the fundamental principle that human existence on earth is essentially a suffering existence. I’ll post the piece I snipped from my reply to the list moderator about the famed and revered Mr. Siddhartha Gautama’s deeply cynical view of suffering on earth –
RESPONDENT: I thought this topic was over and done with among Christians. God created man in his own image and gave us the freedom of choice out of love for the humans, one can’t blame God for us making the wrong choices.
PETER: Methinks I was right in suggesting that one can only be interested in an actual freedom from the human condition if one has had sufficient experience with, and knowledge of, the spiritual path in order to understand its central message and why it has not, and never can, deliver peace on earth in this lifetime for anyone – let alone everyone. Your statement is another classic example of human beings forever blaming themselves – and not daring to even question the Gods or the God-men. This belief is so drummed into humans as guilt for our sins or penance for our very existence on earth that it is a miracle that someone has broken free and others are rapidly following.
RESPONDENT: Who said that life was supposed to be easy!?
PETER: Who said life was not meant to be easy and why do you believe them?
Just because God said so or Siddhartha Gautama said so or some Johnny come lately God-man repeated it doesn’t mean it is true or True. Of course life was meant to be easy and we all know it except we live in fear of the wrath of God or the scorn of our peers. The cute thing is once you stop believing in God you are free to stop believing that life was meant to be about suffering rightly. This then frees your senses to a literal smorgasbord of sensual delight that is on offer in this day and age on this cornucopian planet.
Life was meant to be easy – only a masochist would believe otherwise.
RESPONDENT: Living life is extremely challenging and what else could it be?
PETER: As humans, we are all subject to physical dangers, ill-health, accidents, earthquakes, floods, fires, etc. which can cause loss and pain. But to have, and actively indulge in, emotional suffering additional to the hardship is to compound the situation to such an extent that the resulting feelings are usually far worse than dealing with the facts of the situation. What impresses me is the extraordinary steps taken in wealthy, materialistic countries to not only reduce the hardship caused by physical dangers but to prevent them from happening in the first place. Early warning systems for fire, flood and storm, earthquake and storm proof buildings, emergency services, evacuation and relief plans, etc. all help to minimize and in many cases negate hardship, loss, injury and physical suffering.
RESPONDENT: Think about it ... would we really appreciate in the long run to have things just as we want them to be, to know exactly what life was about. No, I would not think so. Life is an enigma and that’s perhaps the only way it could be.
PETER: It’s good you said ‘perhaps’ because this is another of the furphies given to the world by the God-believers in order that nobody dares find out for themselves. The actual world is literally bursting with meaning, each moment again, whereas the real world is steeped in lament and the spiritual world is wallowing in compassion.
RESPONDENT: The Christian monk should maybe consider another line of duty if he can’t come to terms with the fundamentals of Christianity ... where’s the trust for Gods sake!?
PETER: I take it that you are now saying the monk should come to terms with the fact that human pain and suffering on earth is fundamental to Christianity yet above you indicated that God ‘gave us the freedom of choice’.
Which is it or are you having a bet each way? By the way, having a bet each way is not a sign of trust – it is a sign of doubt.
Let’s face it, whatever messages God has sent or whatever human form God is manifest in, He/She/It demands that we suffer rightly because this God also suffers for us and He/She/It demands that we defend our belief in this God even to the point of sacrificing our lives.
God is indeed a sorrowful and wrathful God, but as you said – ‘God created man in his own image’.
What about changing the scenario and asking how man has created God in his own image, only magnified?
PETER: 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.
RESPONDENT: I honestly can’t see what you are aiming at in pursuing the question of peace on earth. I personally think that it is on the agenda of many spiritual traditions. Even if it’s not being expressed like; ‘Yes, peace on earth is our goal’.
PETER: Are you saying, it’s a ‘secret message’ that’s hidden between the words of all the spiritual texts which say that peace is an inner peace or that peace is only possible only after physical death? Is it another of those things that cannot be spoken or cannot be put into words? Why would the spiritual teachings not explicitly state that their message is peace on earth in this life time and that they have the solution to ending human malice and sorrow on earth?
Real people are killing each other, real people are suffering to the point of killing themselves and you are telling me you ‘think’ it is on the agenda of many spiritual traditions. I went looking into four spiritual teachings in vain when the moderator of the mailing list glibly tried that one on and I haven’t heard from him since; and now you also think it is on the spiritual agenda but it might not be written in plain understandable words. This gooblygook makes any conversation about peace on earth meaningless. Do you blindly trust that it is on the agenda even though it is not put in words or spoken of – in fact when quite the opposite is written?
RESPONDENT: Andrew Cohen has always stressed that the search for liberation is not for our own sake but for the sake of mankind.
PETER: Yes, he stresses the ending of a personal self – as in ego-death – in order to realize an impersonal self – as in Enlightenment. This act of surrender to a higher power or Greater Good then leaves the newly liberated being indebted to this higher power and driven to be yet another Saviour of mankind and to spread the message of the Greater Good, Love, Truth, God, or whatever other name is used. It’s the same old message that has seduced humanity for millennia despite the valiant efforts of many to break free from these passionate fairy tales of good spirits vs. evil spirits and Gods vs. Devils.
RESPONDENT: I mean, if we can change in a fundamental way inwardly and manifest that on earth then there’s a chance for peace on earth. As I wrote before; Andrew stresses VERY much the importance of focusing on THIS life and not waste time on speculations of the afterlife.
He usually says: I’ll write you a postcard’. He doesn’t pretend to know what’s happening after physical death even if he probably finds the idea of reincarnation very plausible.
PETER: This is obviously a man who is keeping his options open, which means he won’t dare acknowledge that physical death is the end, finito, kaput, finished, no more. Surely this is one of the most fundamental questions that demands an answer, or at the very least a position taken, otherwise one’s search for freedom, peace and happiness will be seduced into the traditional search for an inner peace or a peace after death. By continuing this very belief in a life after death or cunningly refusing to address the issue – as in taking a position – the status quo of spiritual/ religious belief remains unquestioned and one could never ever contemplate the death of both ego and soul.
I hardly see anything radical at all in taking this position and I fail to see how this current ‘manifestation’ of God’s messenger can be anything other than the all the rest – a seeker of freedom, peace and happiness who had feet of clay when the crunch came and turned to traditional old-time religion.
RESPONDENT: In my view it’s absolutely clear that Andrew includes peace on earth as a very important goal, the most important goal actually! He usually calls it ‘heaven on earth’ though but I assume there being no wars on this planet in that heavenly existence. The thing is that Andrew and others go much further than ending all wars (if that is what you mean by peace on earth), if we had paradise on earth I would expect that not only did we end all wars but we made possible a new and radically different way of relating to each other so that we could eventually end even most of our minor conflicts etc. The power of LOVE is strong as you know, Peter ... ...
PETER: Given your present line of thinking I would assume that you see Andrew Cohen’s spiritual communities as manifestations of this promised ‘heaven on earth’ and a living expression of the power of LOVE. If this is the case he is succeeding where no other Guru has managed to succeed and he then would truly demonstrate that his is the Only Way and he is the True and Pure messenger. Sort of reeks of ‘My God is the only True and Right God’ to me.
By assuming ‘there being no wars on this planet in that heavenly existence’ I would take it that all the other religions and religious beliefs would have to magically disappear from the face of earth for this to happen. That’s 1600 religions that would have to disappear not to mention all the current crop of NDA awakened ones would all have to agree that Cohenism is the only true and right teaching. Methinks that if you truly believe this is the answer to peace on earth you had better join up and begin converting others from their beliefs.
Also you do seem to be back-pedalling frantically from your stated views about Andrew Cohen, his Sangha and his teachings that you wrote only a week ago –
It’s a tough act to have all the beliefs you hold dear stripped away – to face death as it were – and the natural reaction is to mount a defense or turn and flee. Actualism is not for the faint of heart, nor for the weak of knee.
>PETER: This process, if undertaken with a sincere intent, will inevitably lead to a state of virtual freedom. One then goes to bed in the evening knowing that one has had a perfect day, and knowing that tomorrow, without doubt, will also be a perfect day. Unless one is willing to contemplate being happy and being harmless, virtually free of malice and sorrow, 99% of the time – then forget the whole business. The challenge of virtual freedom is to be the best one can be – to mimic the perfection and purity of the actual as much as one can while remaining ‘human’ – an alien entity and not a free flesh and blood body. Then, and only then, does one have the confidence and surety to step out of the real world and into the actual world – leaving one’s ‘self’ behind.
RESPONDENT: Now I’m getting worried Peter ... ‘to mimic the perfection of the actual...’ is that what it’s all about? There’s no real possibility to manifest freedom on the planet so we have to do the next best thing; namely pretend that everything is perfect and then eventually we might stumble on the real deal. Is this something equivalent to spiritual practice!?
PETER: A poor attempt at a bluff. This is clearly not what I am indicating, nor what is on offer. Did you conveniently ignore the ‘then and only then’ bit as a way of avoiding –
You’re obviously getting worried for your objections are getting sillier, pettier and more frantic the further this post goes. You even manage to shoot yourself in the foot with this argument by belittling the spiritual practices that you have previously been busily defending in this post. May I suggest a little more careful aim in the future?
It’s a tough business defending the indefensible, for any belief, by its very nature, is ultimately indefensible. No wonder the final fall back position is that the Truth cannot be put into words or it cannot be explained – for such is the nature of fervent belief and blind faith, both are indeed beyond comprehension, sensibility and sanity.
RESPONDENT: And how can we know that the next day and the day after will be perfect even when we’ve left ‘the self’ behind? It might in fact be a total disaster and we might become extremely depressed or whatever. Is the ultimate state really to be perfectly happy all the time?
PETER: You can’t know until you have experienced the perfection and purity of the actual world in a pure consciousness experience. If you have already and can remember it then you and I both know that your question is yet another furphy. But if you steadfastly believe that human existence is meant to be a suffering existence then you will forever cut yourself off from finding out.
The key to the ultimate ‘self’-less sate of purity and perfection is to maintain an equal focus on the ‘harmless’ bit of becoming happy and harmless, for one can never be happy unless one is harmless. This harmlessness is an unconditional harmlessness in the world as-it-is, with people as-they-are – not hiding away in some spiritual community of like-believers, run on strict moral and ethical codes in order to keep a lid on undesirable behaviour. Actual harmlessness is not an ideal, as in pacifism, but comes from having no identity or person ‘inside’ who can feel offended, feel attacked, who is constantly and fearfully on-guard and ever-ready to defend or attack.
There is no malice and sorrow in the actual world.
RESPONDENT: Even if one was very harmonious and grounded in an absolutely positive relationship to life one could certainly feel very miserable from time to time.
PETER: While remaining a ‘self’ one is forever subject to the full range of emotional passions and there is ample evidence that even those who claim to be peace-loving and have a positive outlook on life are often overcome by anger or suffer inexplicable bouts of depression. This is the case even with the Enlightened Ones who have the full range of emotional passions intact despite their efforts to transcend the savage and emulate and radiate the tender passions. Apart from the mythical almost anonymous past-Masters whom we know nothing about, all of the recent and current crop of Gurus clearly demonstrate, at some time in their careers, all the attributes of what we begrudgingly acknowledge as our human failings.
RESPONDENT: But maybe you’re talking about the foundation for happiness first and foremost and not the actual experience. It would be very unrealistic, I think, to imagine perfection as constant sensatory bliss, if that’s the case then I surely see the need for mimicking life instead of actually living it. This could potentially be the ultimate delusion, a way to create a fairytale and not living in any world other than one’s own fantasy and imagination.
PETER: As I said, unless one is willing to contemplate being happy and being harmless, virtually free of malice and sorrow, 99% of the time – then forget the whole business. From your objections to my statement it is obvious that you find it impossible to contemplate that you, as-you-are, would be willing to sacrifice enough of your ‘self’ to even get to this state.
Do you think that a change as radical as becoming actually happy and harmless happens by some blinding flash of light, that it is an effortless achievement that requires that you do nothing? Even on the spiritual path those who have success build a foundation of spiritual experiences and assiduously practice transcendence. The same applies for any achievement or goal in the real world.
For anyone interested in becoming actually free of malice and sorrow, it is obvious that unless one is willing to contemplate being happy and being harmless, virtually free of malice and sorrow, 99% of the time – then forget the whole business.
RESPONDENT: My view of perfection is to be able to face every aspect of life, good or bad, and to avoid nothing ... there will most definitely be some hardship to endure even after achieving (realizing...) perfection (or almost perfection more accurately) if one is challenging oneself in life.
PETER: Purity and perfection are impossible to imagine while remaining a ‘self’. Up until now the best on offer has been a subjugation of one’s personal sense of ‘self’ whereby one is able to ride on, or identify with, the tender emotions and feel pure and feel perfect. Unfortunately one also feels Godly, Timeless and Immortal – a deadly cocktail of delusion. There is no good and bad in the actual world. There are no good and bad rocks, there are no right and wrong trees, there is no fear on a computer monitor, there is no anger in a cup of coffee. Only animals exhibit instinctual fear, aggression, nurture and desire and only humans and our closest genetic cousins exhibit passions and emotions associated with these instinctual reactions.
As for challenging oneself – how about an actual peace on earth, in this lifetime, for No 10? There is no greater challenge and no greater good that one could do for others.
RESPONDENT: So I can relate to a very sound and almost perfect foundation that gives oneself confidence to live in a new and even radically new and positive way but I just can’t see the end result being permanent bliss, but maybe that isn’t what you’re suggesting anyway?
PETER: No. Bliss is a passionate emotion and like all emotions it has a duality, an opposite emotion. Underlying all feelings of bliss is the feeling of dread, exactly as underlying Enlightenment lies the Diabolical and underlying the good is the bad and underlying God is the Devil, etc.
In the actual world, all the duality of human emotional passions does not exist at all.
RESPONDENT: Maybe that is enough for now even though there are endlessly many topics that can be discussed and investigated. I don’t really know where I’m going right now since there’s so much happening at once, only a few months ago I thought of maybe becoming a priest but that idea seems far away now. You’ve helped me see a possibility I didn’t really consider before; I guess I’m looking for something more down to earth at least. I’ve been thinking of studying Krishnamurti to see what he has to offer the world. From what I’ve read this far I can see at least some good points, especially that one should be independent and find out for one selves. That can’t be repeated often enough by teachers and others, it’s very refreshing to hear K put so much focus on that ‘The truth is a pathless land...’ I’ve also been thinking of studying philosophy at the university but I don’t know if it’s worth the time, money and effort. Maybe it’s better to seek on my own on the Internet for instance!! Then you can choose freely what one is really interested in and not what one is asked to read in order to pass an exam. ‘The benefit of university would be the company I suppose, good opportunities to interact with others that are (hopefully) interested in the big questions of life, but there are probably a lot of youngsters taking those courses to follow the current trend.
But this isn’t something that you would be interested in doing, Peter ... haha ... I just wanted to share a few of my thoughts.
I look forward to hearing from you again.
PETER: When I was leaving the spiritual world and began to really investigate what others had to say about the human condition, I was amazed to discover that everyone – and I do mean everyone – has a spiritual outlook on life. The spiritual viewpoint permeates philosophy, science, medicine, education, psychology, law, etc.
No one dares to question the sacred ceiling for the atavistic fears and peer pressure are shockingly real. It is an act of extraordinary gall to even consider that everyone – and I do mean everyone – has got it 180 degrees wrong.
But it does explain why after millennia of so-called civilization and spiritual search, there is nothing even remotely resembling peace on earth.
Well there’s ‘something for you to sink your teeth in ...’, as you said.
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