Peter’s Correspondence on Mailing List B
Correspondent No 10
PETER: 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: Since I am very interested in looking into what is actually happening I tried to do just that. I know that I was being a little sluggish in my approach but my goal is always the same thing; to see clearly. For me that means questioning everything, not only the facts but also where one is coming from in stating different opinions and views. It means that I’m equally interested in reading in between the lines as I am in the cold hard facts.
PETER: Reading between the lines means you are then free to disregards the facts, reinterpret them, dismiss them as belief or opinion, etc. This philosophical approach to life means that one can never be fully committed to living life for one always maintains a safe, cautionary distance. Likewise the psychic checking out of another’s position means that one is always on-guard and wary. I do understand, for this approach to living is what we have been taught, which is why I eventually abandoned the approach and began to listen to the facts speaking for themselves as it were.
RESPONDENT: After all we don’t want to create new ideals but instead come to terms with the malice and sorrow in our lives, and life is happening right here and right now in this communication we have with each other, we don’t want to continue fooling ourselves.
PETER: I’m not fooling myself – I am simply responding to your questions.
RESPONDENT: That’s part of the reason I was a little provocative in my mail even though I didn’t plan it that way. I just tried to respond to the parts of your mail that I was questioning in some way. I could have pointed out other passages that was inspiring and helpful in my investigation but since your writings are very extensive I chose to concentrate on the parts that I didn’t agree with totally or wanted to question a little bit.
PETER: I always take what is written at face value, without tying to second-guess or interpret the motives that may lie behind the question, statement or objection. Thus when you say one thing and then the opposite or agree and then disagree, I take it that you have changed your position. It is now clear that you quite literally and deliberately take no position about life, the universe and what it is to be a human being. I cannot see any value at all in this style of intellectual ‘questioning’ for you but I do enjoy writing about my favourite subject and will continue to take your comments at face value.
RESPONDENT: When I’d written the mail I thought that it might be too rough around the edges but I was convinced that you wouldn’t take it the wrong way. But I actually detect a lot of defensiveness in your reply. I also see limitations in the way we communicate, breaking everything down to small parts. Sometimes the details obscure the bigger picture.
PETER: Being a pragmatic, down-to-earth builder by profession I know that a house is built stick by stick, bit by bit, day by day and eventually one has a finished house. The human psyche is constructed exactly the same way. From a base operation program of an instinctual animal ‘self’, a psychological and psychic self is layered over bit by bit, day by day, until by the time one is an adult the big picture of who we think and feel we are is complete. If one is interested in radical change this instinctual, psychological and psychic package has to be taken to pieces bit by bit, detail by detail, in order to discover what you are. Anyone interested in bigger picture solutions is usually talking of meta-physical viewpoints or philosophical approaches to living life.
RESPONDENT: So how am I to respond to this mail? I don’t want to continue quoting your quote of my previous quote etc in absurdity ... ... I’ll try to make some short comments and then we might be able to move on.
I would also like to clarify one thing; when I respond to your writings, it isn’t always ‘my’ view that I present, directly anyway. I see it as my prerogative (and everybody else’s) to step out of myself and question from a hopefully objective viewpoint. For instance I might question something that I quite agree with but still want to investigate further, that’s the approach I’ve been using anyway. So when I respond to you from a seemingly ‘spiritual’ viewpoint it can be that I try to see things with their eyes.
PETER: Personally, I find maintaining an objective viewpoint to living life an abysmal approach compared to undertaking an active subjective exploration of one’s own psyche in order to be able to fully indulge in this business of being alive as a flesh and blood, thoughtful, reflective human being. An exchange with another correspondence may illustrate my position about remaining objective
RESPONDENT: As I’ve mentioned a few times I’m not sure it’s very constructive to be too ‘one-sided’ and that’s of course the reason I continue to plague you with ‘defending’ the spiritual camp in some ways. I guess I’m not quite as radical as you are ... ... not yet anyway. But I am very interested in an alternative way of looking at (and living) life and this ‘third way’ is certainly of great interest. I can also understand that you are totally fed up with the ‘spiritual bunch’ after battling with them through the years and that it can be extremely frustrating to deal with all the fixed ideas ‘they’ have ... ... there’s that ‘us and them’ again, how can we move away from that ... I wonder.
PETER: The ‘spiritual bunch’ doesn’t have fixed ideas at all. They vacillate, fluctuate, oscillate, equivocate, pontificate, tergiversate, fudge the issue, pussyfoot around and waffle profoundly, all in order to defend their beliefs. A bit like squeezing a balloon – the hot air simply oozes in another direction. As I have said before, we have over a million words on our web-site from correspondent’s objections to being happy and harmless and all of them fall in to the category of people being unable or unwilling to take a position about life based on facts and their pure consciousness experiences, and all insisting on living life according to their beliefs and their altered state of consciousness experiences.
I do like it that you are interested in this third alternative to staying normal or becoming spiritual, so I will continue to respond in detail to your points and will continue to take what you write at face value. We may well break records for the length and ‘weight’ for e-mail correspondence but it is a delicious day to sit at the keyboard and I do like to write to a fellow human being who is interested in this new discovery.
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: Facts are great but I also think that we need to be our own ‘philosopher’ to be able to evaluate and make use of the facts. As I understand, practical philosophy is also about learning to communicate one’s views in an understandable way and we all need that to make any sense to others.
PETER: I find ‘practical philosophy’ a contradiction in terms. Philosophy means thinking about life.
Actualism is not a philosophy – it is a practical down-to-earth method of becoming free from the human condition.
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: For me the most important thing is human behaviour and how to make some sense of the way we live on this planet. Yes, I used to think that mysticism could be one of the keys to accomplish peace on earth but now I find I’m changing my mind. Now I see it as a very questionable endeavour which probably creates more confusion than a way out of the human predicament. But in my case it has at least been a stepping stone for further investigation into a more down to earth approach to life. I never really went for it 100%, fortunately, there was always something holding me back ... a reasonable doubt. I was never able to follow the path ‘blindly’ as Andrew suggested one should do, on his recent visit to Sweden. The idea was that once you’ve found your path you should stick to it at all costs, despite what the mind might tell us ... ha ha ... crazy isn’t it? By the way, Andrew always likes to tell people that they’re crazy. The Swedes are crazy because they get a bit depressed in the winter, Dutch people are crazy because they have too much personal freedom, the eccentric is crazy because he doesn’t fit the mould and is caught in his own mind. (I don’t know exactly what he means about the eccentric) ... etc. ... One can wonder where this need comes from, it could be that he has the need to justify himself ... isn’t the mystic eccentric by the way!? And often he states; ‘I feel like I’m crazy all the time ...’ maybe he should look into that ... hmmmm ...
PETER: I always find it cute that the straight people think the religious fanatics are crazy and the religious fanatics think the straights are crazy for not believing what they do. Personally I find all of humanity ‘insane’ so to speak – through no fault of anyone’s, by the way. The only thing that got me out of the mess was the fact that I ran into a man who found by experience that the spiritual world was institutionalized insanity and who has been classified by the straights as being clinically insane. When I discovered this I immediately thought his qualifications were impeccable and knew that his viewpoint would be 180 degrees different from everyone one else.
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.
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: For the lack of a better alternative I guess, and we mustn’t forget that most people prefer to abide in some obscure beliefs rather than taking full responsibility for themselves.
Maybe the PCE and the third way could function better for people that haven’t taken the detour around spirituality and whose minds aren’t tainted in the same way. But I guess it’s challenging for everybody to open up for something new and radical.
PETER: I don’t see how anybody would be interested in such a radical change unless they have a burning dissatisfaction with their life as-it-is and sufficient acumen about, and experience of, the failure of the traditional and spiritual solutions, particularly in these early pioneering days. The other point is that everybody is born into some form of spirituality, be it Eastern or Western, so anyone interested would have the same task of demolishing their spiritual beliefs.
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: As I see it, it is humans that have failed and not mainly the systems. I think it comes down to the individual regardless of what system or age we’re talking about.
PETER: The ‘systems’ are a human invention, exactly as the spiritual teachings are a human invention. Unless one is willing to question the systems and wisdoms of the past and become free of them one remains trapped as an ‘individual’ within the current human condition. What I am talking about is a freedom from the human condition.
RESPONDENT: That is why I was attracted to eastern spirituality, the world can’t change unless change occurs within one single individual to begin with. Yes spirituality has failed but so has everything else. OK we live a life of comfort in some places on this globe but are we being harmless and caring? No. So in the west we have a comfortable mess and in India there is a much more miserable mess. But we also know that we often encounter hospitality and friendliness in lesser developed countries to a sometimes higher extent than in the western societies. Materialism also has downsides (even though it is evidently better than poverty and starvation), straining our resources, negative effects of raw capitalism etc. We can’t go back and change history, I’m just saying that we can never know what the world might have looked like today without spirituality. Better , worse or something similar to what we see at present. If there hadn’t been spirituality we would probably have invented another way of escaping life. And the unthinkable alternative (for you anyway) is that spirituality has helped us to contain ourselves a little bit and prevented some outbursts towards our fellow beings. In saying that I’m very well aware of all the wars and such in the name of God and religion but that comes from isolation and separateness and if it hadn’t been for spirituality there would have been something else.
Don’t you think spirituality has helped a few people today to get away from abuse, violence and aggression and despair? They might be living an illusion but they are going to church instead of being in a street gang killing their fellow beings, for example. Don’t make too much of this now, I’m just trying to broaden the horizon a little bit.
PETER: Okay, I won’t make too much of this. You seem to be trying to make a case that the solution to human malice and sorrow could well lie within the human condition, if only . You also talk about ‘we’, whereas you state ‘I think it comes down to the individual’. If it comes down to the individual, you are it – in which case you should be talking about ‘I’. Otherwise you are merely talking philosophy or mouthing belief.
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: Peter, I have a problem. The thing is that I’m not sure that I’ve understood the basics just yet. We go over such a wide range of topics in every exchange that I might be missing the fundamentals. First you insist that we’re totally driven by our ‘animal passions and instincts’ and the next moment there is self-immolation made possible through the PCE. Is this shift sudden or can it be gradual and develop as a very deep understanding of life? It seems a little theoretical (sorry) that we go from being totally lost as a race to suddenly be catapulted into actuality in an instant.
PETER: There is a proven method that has been developed that allows an individual – not the ‘ race ’ collectively – to become free of the human condition. It is not a collective process, it is an individual process. It is not a sudden process for it takes time, effort, guts and dedication to be a pioneer.
RESPONDENT: Self-immolation – I checked the dictionary in vain to reach out for a deeper understanding of it. I don’t think it has really sunk in yet. I would be grateful if you could go into great detail and explain these concepts once again. Maybe even concentrate solely on them in one mail maybe, if you’re interested in doing that. Coming from the spiritual world, so to speak, I don’t want to get caught again, as you understand. Now the insistence for sanity, clarity and simplicity is even more important.
PETER: I appreciate that you don’t want to get caught again. I was very wary when I came across actualism that I wasn’t simply swapping one set of beliefs for another. May I suggest that you check out the writings on the web-site so that you can make your own assessment in your own time and then I would be more than happy to answer questions. Being a touch lazy, it means that I don’t have to copy and paste a whole lot of it to you which is what you are requesting by going into ‘great detail’. As I said before, you may find the Introduction useful as a preliminary.
RESPONDENT: Yes, I have experienced grief, lust and pain etc but I didn’t always act on it.
PETER: I too was a good man and kept control, but I eventually came to admit that I had virulent savage passions and was senselessly driven by seemingly tender passions such as love, compassion, loyalty, devotion, duty or protectiveness. When I acknowledged this and came across a method of freeing myself and those I came in contact with from their influence, I leapt at the chance. Besides, I got weary from having to maintain control – it’s such an effort.
RESPONDENT: And I suspect that we’re never going to be able to leave these emotions behind us, they will always be there but in a less intense way.
PETER: A friend from my spiritual days once asked me about actualism and I said it was about becoming free from malice and sorrow. She looked a little quizzical, so I said ‘not being angry any more’. She said she wanted to keep her anger for she had to fight for herself to get what she wanted. I said ‘what about not being sad any more?’ She said she liked feeling sad – that bitter-sweet feeling of sorrow, a sad song, a sad love story ...
Freedom from malice and sorrow will not appeal to many.
RESPONDENT: The important thing is the relationship we have to our emotions and instinctual passions, if we can see clearly what’s going on inside of us we can eventually (or even suddenly) take full responsibility for our actions and live in a harmless way. Once again it is important that we stop fooling ourselves and dare to see what we’re actually doing. So when you talk about eliminating the instinctual animal passions do you mean that they disappear or that they still exist in our body but that we’re looking at a totally different landscape so to speak.
PETER: Not only am I talking about the elimination of instinctual passions but the ‘me’ who feels sad, angry, lost, lonely, frightened, etc. If ‘you’ maintain a separate relationship to your emotions this is dissociation for ‘I’ am my passions and my passions are ‘me’ – they are not separate. Likewise if ‘I’ maintain control over ‘my’ emotions it is ‘me’ maintaining control over ‘me’ – a task that requires almost constant vigil and on-guardness. Self-immolation, or the ending of me is the only way to be actually free of ‘my’ instinctual passions for they are one and the same thing.
RESPONDENT: Because I don’t think that you imply that we’re going to change our biology that fast, evolution has showed us that even small changes in our construction can take millions of years. As I said, I think that we need to go into this even more, I’m sure you can clarify this for me.
PETER: If I can paste a relevant piece –
The clue is the words ‘individual members of the species’ – which means No 10, in this lifetime, creating the conditions for this to happen.
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: OK, I liked this passage, it brought further understanding of your view. You mean that what prevents us from actually LIVING life is the gap between our (constructed) ideas of ourselves and our conditioning /social identity and life itself. When we’re able to see this clearly we can experience what it’s like to be free of all concepts and instead experience life untainted and uncontaminated by our programming (worldly or spiritual or anything else for that matter). Then we experience what we actually are, flesh and blood creatures on this earth, animals driven by instincts ... ... and ... ... when being freed from all these misconceptions we are able to enjoy life as a sensatory experience, the only way we can truly exist (the way we actually do exist) if we want to end the malice and sorrow on this earth. This radical insight/experience makes possible a peaceful co-existence on this planet, when we all abide in actuality and not in some other fairytale existence we can come to terms with the human predicament. If one has the courage to face the facts of life instead of hiding from life there’s a chance for peace on earth ... ... how am I doing?
PETER: Well ... pretty good as a concept. Now if you substitute the personal pronoun ‘I’ instead of the collective ‘we’ and act on your understanding, eventually you might find that it matters not what others do, for you would find that peace on earth already exists, it was just ‘you’ that stood in the way. Further you would realize that it was only you who had to radically and irrevocably change, for in becoming actually free of malice and sorrow one can be both happy and harmless in the world-as-it-is with people as-they-are. In other words, your happiness is not dependant on anyone else and, even better, you are not driven to change everybody else.
Then if you want to, you can have fun writing to mailing lists trying to seduce others into becoming happy and harmless.
RESPONDENT: But I guess the problem is that we are going to have a hard time agreeing on what the facts of life are, don’t you think.?
PETER: I have no problem with facts at all. It’s beliefs that people fight and disagree about. Have you not noticed on the WIE list the level of disagreement about belief – all cloaked in nice and loving way but wildly differing, very personal, flexible and ever-changing stances?
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: This is important, how to eliminate these ‘instinctual survival passions’? This is where I’m getting stuck, I think. You mean that repressing the ‘negative’ instincts and indulging in ‘good morals etc’ is the spiritual predicament and what we need is to free us from ALL survival passions, good and bad, and in doing so we’re released from our ‘instinctual cage’. So I suppose the outcome of this would be that we aren’t creating suffering for ourselves and others through our ignorance anymore. Is that it? When we see actuality there’s no need to for pretence anymore ...?
PETER: It is not a matter of ignorance. This is the spiritual concept whereby we are born innocent and then corrupted by ignorance (or evil, in the more fundamental traditions) and it is only when we discover the truth or Truth do we become free of ignorance ... or evil.
The understanding that we are born the way we are and are fated to be ‘who’ we think and feel we are is enormously liberating in itself. No longer do we need to feel guilty for the way we are, no longer to we need to pray to God or grovel before God-men, no longer are we helpless victims, no longer do we need to feel resentful at having to be here in the first place.
The fact is we are here and the challenge then becomes how to fully embrace being here.
RESPONDENT: Questions: Does this mean that there are no good or bad actions!?
PETER: Until one is actually free of one’s animal instinctual passions, all actions, no matter how well intentioned, are liable to cause harm to others, no matter how minor.
RESPONDENT: Aren’t we supposed to judge each other?
PETER: I leave that to the police and judges if other people’s actions step beyond the limits of what the particular society I happen to live in deems appropriate – which is not to say I don’t see a lot of people doing a lot of silly things. It would all be amusing but for the fact that human beings actually torture and kill each other. It was only by seeing this fact with clear eyes, and acknowledging that I too was capable of such actions when push comes to shove, that forced me to want to radically and irrevocably change – to step out of Humanity.
RESPONDENT: Is this the end of morals as we know it? I sincerely hope that you’re not suggesting that anything goes ...
PETER: Again, we are not talking about others but an individual change. It is possible to dispense with the needs for morals and ethics only if one finds something better to replace them with and that something better is to have no wayward ‘self’ who needs to be kept under control. The key to knowing this is possible is the pure consciousness experience whereby the already-existing innate purity and perfection that becomes stunningly apparent instantly renders redundant the need for any morals, ethics or any kind of ‘self’-control. When returning to ‘normal’ again you take this information and begin the task of ‘self’-immolation with confidence that you will not run amok as you progressively loosens the stranglehold of morals and ethics.
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 mailing list moderator about the famed and revered Mr. Siddhartha Gautama’s deeply cynical view of suffering on earth – <Snip>
RESPONDENT: What I meant to say was that the suffering on earth made perfect sense to me while in the spiritual camp and I would not have asked God the same question as the monk intended to in his upcoming encounter with the lord. I have the same outlook today actually, the suffering in the world is not an enigma it makes absolutely perfect sense, knowing the human animal, things could have been even worse actually. Both you and I know that we’re capable of outrageous cruelty and we have proven that on numerous occasions. Of course, I don’t WANT to have it the way it is, I want change, that’s why I’m looking into these matters, to find an alternative to the mess we’re in. And I don’t like your attitude telling me how ‘far’ I’ve come, I find this to be a disrespectful statement.
PETER: Well, in your next sentence you said –
This does to me indicate that this was your position – i.e. a belief in God as the creator of earthly suffering – given that you wrote it. But you have since made your position clearer when you said –
Given that I take all comments at face value – i.e. I assume people mean what they say and say what they mean until they indicate by words or actions otherwise – I see my response as appropriate to your written comment.
I have no ability to read between the lines, or second-guess, or intuit your comments.
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: I dare to question God (or the concept of God) and I’m not blaming anybody, God, myself or my fellow beings. I’m just stating the obvious; life on this planet is pretty miserable, that’s a fact. Let’s do something about it! But you’re obviously blaming spirituality for the mess we’re in.
PETER: You have lost me here because the statement I responded to indicated that you believed in a creator God, and any belief in a spiritual force, energy, sustainer or creator will only serve to maintain ‘me’, as a spirit dwelling in the flesh and blood body, in existence. Any belief in a spirit world will inevitably cause the seeker of freedom, peace and happiness to end up in an altered state of consciousness. One’s personal self may well come to an end but one’s Impersonal Self emerges triumphant and glorious. This is not the fault of spirituality per se, but the lack of honesty and integrity of the individual seeker who willingly surrenders to the seduction of self-aggrandizement.
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: How did you come to that conclusion? I don’t know whether life is supposed to be easy or hard, a little bit of both could be ideal maybe. If everything was easy we might have a hard time appreciating the good times. To me it appears that we need challenges at least in some ways. Life is pretty beautiful today despite all the malice and sorrow, don’t you think? We can see the potential for a positive existence on earth, at least I can.. I must say that I have a fundamentally positive relationship to life even if we’re trying our best to destroy ourselves and the planet. I’m certainly not insisting that life HAS to be hard, a struggle for survival I mean. But I personally can’t see an existence on earth being PERFECTLY easy and effortless, that is utopia I think.
PETER: Utopia and more is evident in the PCE, in fact, it is from these experiences that the concepts of utopia and heaven on earth have arisen. These experiences have been interpreted as spiritual experiences and those who have genuinely had a permanent altered state of consciousness do indeed feel the world to be a beautiful dream. Thus they see those who suffer and fight as living in a dream from which they need to awaken.
In a PCE it is startlingly obvious that this verdant paradisiacal planet is perfect, pure and delightful and that my existence is easy and effortless because ‘I’ as neurotic thinker and ‘me’ as passionate feeler are absent. The avowed aim of an actualist is to live this state 24 hrs. a day, every day.
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: Peter, sometimes I wonder why you have any need for the third alternative since you often praise our fantastic western society. But I guess it’s mainly to show the failures of the spiritual approach.
PETER: No, you misunderstand me. What I came to see was that ‘I’ was what was preventing me, this flesh and blood body, from delighting in the perfection and purity of this actual world. As such I stopped blaming external circumstances for making me unhappy or causing my sorrow. As such, I am able to be happy and harmless in the world as-it-is, with people as-they-are. With common sense operating freely I have chosen a place to live that is both reasonable safe and sensually satisfying. If for some reason I found myself in different circumstances, less preferable, if you like, then I would still be happy and harmless. However, I sensibly prefer safety, comfort, leisure and pleasure any day.
RESPONDENT: I agree that these early warning systems etc. benefit us and are steps towards a more civilized way of living; life is precious and we should try to eliminate everything that can threaten us physically and hopefully even psychologically destructive influences in our society.
PETER: I don’t regard life as precious in any way. Most species have a capacity for multiplication that is astounding. The average human male ejaculation has the capacity to fertilize millions of eggs and the average female has an egg-producing capacity to birth each year and nowadays we expect each baby to survive. This is not preciousness but blind nature’s way of ensuring sufficient quantity purely for the species’ survival. There are an estimated 6 billion human beings on the planet and it is estimated that there are currently between 2 and 4.5 million individual animal and plant species on the planet. Perhaps voracious excess to the point of gratuitous gluttony would be a better way to describe the quantity, abundance and variety of life-forms on the planet.
RESPONDENT: I totally agree that we shall do everything to make life better for us in a materialistic way (for everybody, that is, not just in our part of the world). But is life going to be easy? More comfortable, yes, and less challenging from the point of view of survival. But isn’t the challenge of life always going to be there? Everybody still have to find out for themselves so there’s always going to be a winding road to some extent. If one is absolutely serious about life than I can’t really see that it’s going to be easy all the time. Even when one has found the meaning of life it isn’t necessarily going to be easier, certainly much, much more inspiring and ... ... let’s say happy. But that is your point, isn’t it, happiness equals ease? OK, I don’t want to take this too far since I agree with you that there’s no need to struggle in vain but that true happiness might just not look exactly the way we think it does. There’s not many to tell about it either, true happiness is certainly a rare jewel on earth.
PETER: In fact, it doesn’t exist for everyone is either a self or a Self (a person who believes and teaches that physical life on earth is essentially a suffering existence). As you acknowledged ‘suffering on earth made perfect sense to me while in the spiritual camp ’. One cannot think or feel purity and perfection, it is beyond imagination and feeling – it has to be actually lived.
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?
RESPONDENT: Good point, the last sentence. About the monk. Am I that hard to understand? I simply stated that he didn’t seem to have great trust in our maker, (and that doesn’t mean he can’t work for good in a practical way at the same time) ‘the lord works in mysterious ways’ and all that. From our point of view (the non-spiritual view) we could say that he obviously wasn’t deluded enough to be a monk. In order to be a proper monk he should maybe have prayed more often to get rid of the doubt ... ... are you with me now?
PETER: I’ll pass.
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 WIE 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: I really think you’re taking this too far, it can become quite absurd. OK, you’re probably right in stating that peace on earth isn’t written in as the first goal for mankind in the holy scriptures. But the goal of the vast majority of religions is definitely peaceful coexistence on this earth, if you would ask spiritual practitioners of different religions they would certainly claim that they want peace on earth, as an ideal anyway. Spirituality hasn’t proven to be very effective in achieving peace on earth and that is certainly due to delusion and lack of a practical approach to life. Spirituality has failed, YES, YES, YES, YES!!!!!!! I just believe that going on criticizing spirituality in absurdium isn’t going to help your cause. Forget about spirituality and try to present your view instead, if the ‘spiritual’ people don’t want to listen, go somewhere else. You can’t force anything on someone else anyway ... OK, one can but one shouldn’t.
PETER: Many religions pay lip-service to ideal of religious tolerance as a way of achieving peace on earth but, when push comes to shove ... The other way peace on earth will eventuate is when everyone becomes Catholic, or Buddhist or Bahai or Cohenite or ...
Every human being born on the planet is born into some type of spiritual belief system and some people declare themselves agnostic – adopting a position of ‘I don’t know if there is a God or not’. Some become nihilistic, believing that a God-less life is a grim meaningless existence. Whichever way you look at it, the belief in spirituality dominates the human condition and in order to break free from the human condition one must break free of spiritual belief.
The major reason for debunking spirituality is that the shamans, priests and God-men have commandeered the innate human search for freedom, peace and happiness with the promise of peace and happiness in an illusionary spiritual world and ultimately in a mythical ‘life-after-death’. As such, we actualists tend to poke our noses into the spiritual world in order to let seekers know that a third alternative is available for any who may be dissatisfied with their life as-it-is.
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 –
PETER: 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 defence or turn and flee. Actualism is not for the faint of heart, nor for the weak of knee.
RESPONDENT: OK, maybe I went a little too far in my ‘defence’ of Andrew Cohen and his teachings. The reason I did this was that I wanted to balance the discussion which I thought (and still think) was becoming mainly ‘anti-spiritual’ and not as constructive as it could be. I’m not back-pedalling, I assure you, all of the above still stands. As I wrote in the beginning of the mail I try see things from different angles because I know that even the strongest conviction can soon be found to be limited and in some cases dead wrong.
PETER: You do take a very strong position about not taking a position. You not only play the Devil’s advocate, you play God’s advocate as well. I guess this is what you mean by balancing a discussion.
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. 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’? 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: OK, I read it wrong, it makes sense now. (there’s so much to take in at once in this exchange so I missed it, partly due to reading a foreign language). This is a topic I want to go into deeper. How does your ‘way’ look like being manifest on earth. These central issues is what I would like to discuss with you, without referring to spirituality all the time because I think that’s where we go wrong or stray away from the core of your new radical insight. I might very well be responsible for confusing things also, I admit that.
PETER: You are the one setting the agenda, asking the questions. I will avoid none and take all at face value, including your ‘defence’ advocacy of spiritual teachers and spiritual teachers.
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: This sounds sane to me ... but I still have problems with understanding the self-less state. Do you mean having no identity whatsoever, not even as a flesh and blood creature? So it’s the end of self-consciousness...? One just exists without reflection of who one actually is? And the perfection you mentioned does it mean that one will FEEL good all the time also?
PETER: One has no psychological and psychic identity whatsoever. No ‘I’ in the head – who ‘I’ think I am – nor ‘me’ in the heart – who ‘I’ feel I am. There is simply this thoughtful, reflective flesh and blood body brimming with sense organs being apperceptively aware. Apperception is the brain’s ability to be aware of itself – a bare awareness. There is no ‘I’ being aware, there is simply awareness operating by itself as a function of the brain of this flesh and blood body. The brain, freed of the neurotic burden of a social identity and the chemical surges emanating from the instinctual animal ‘self’ is able to operate with salubrious clarity. The physical senses – literally the stalks of the brain – are freed of their burden of guard-duty imposed by a fearful instinctual ‘self’, are heightened to an extent that one experiences purity and perfection as a sensual actuality that leaves any paltry feelings for dead.
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: So the big difference is that there is still the ‘spiritual-self’ that can be hurt, offended and react in emotional and destructive ways whilst in your view there is no ‘self’ that can be hurt and therefore cause harm to others. It sounds good but it must be a very delicate matter to pull it off in real life.
PETER: It is impossible to pull off in either real life or in spiritual life for many spiritual people claim a self-less state when saying they have realized their true Self or Being. I am talking about initiating a process that leads to an ending of any identity, self, Self, being, Being, whatsoever.
This results in stepping out of the spiritual world and the real world, into the actual world and leaving your self behind where ‘you’ belong.
RESPONDENT: My view of life is becoming more basic and simple (I hope) and therefore I’m becoming a bit allergic to all concepts of ego, self etc. We’re walking around on this earth as human beings and the only way we can see what we’re made of is what comes out of every man/ woman. Our actions and the way we relate to others is what count regardless of what goes on in our heads.
PETER: What goes on in human heads and human hearts is ‘who’ we think and ‘who’ we feel we are. If you are happy with the way ‘you’ are then you will not consider such a radical and irrevocable change as self-immolation. It is the entity inside of everybody that is lost, lonely, frightened and very cunning that causes all the malice and sorrow on the planet.
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: I can contemplate being harmless but not happy 99% of the time, my view is more that we’re basically the same person (after the breakthrough) but with different priorities and greater confidence in our ability to live a sane and harmless life. Just as enlightened teachers can’t be perfect as they claim neither can one who reaches the ‘self-less state’ be perfect. There’s always going to remain some conditioning and sense of identity. The third way seems to be a powerful alternative to spirituality (now I’m bringing in spirituality again, sorry) and much more down to earth, but I don’t think it’s leading to perfection. It can help (along with other forces) to make this world a better one but I’ve stopped believing in ONE way that can save us.
PETER: It sounds to me that you are saying you have stopped believing that peace on earth is possible for No. 10, in this lifetime. I find it useful to keep this conversation personal and pointed, lest we get off the rails. Our topic is peace on earth and you do seem to agree that the only person you can change is you, you are not interested in spiritual freedom, so we are talking about peace on earth, for you, in this lifetime.
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: So there is only life then ... sounds like utopia I must say, at least on a permanent basis. (What’s this, am I becoming cynical or realistic ... ... I wonder?) I don’t really mean to sound casual but I just have a hard time picturing that kind of individual, when we come this far I see someone resembling an enlightened master. Almost nonhuman, but you don’t see it that way naturally.
PETER: What attracted to me to the spiritual path was the idea that one could reach a state of freedom, peace and happiness on earth, in this lifetime. What I discovered was fraudulent self-aggrandized God-men posing as purity and perfection personified. Human beings know from their PCEs that purity and perfection is possible to experience – it’s just that ‘we’ instinctually grab the experience as ‘ours’ – narcissistically turning the actual experience into a feeling experience for our-‘selves’.
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.
RESPONDENT: So spirituality is everywhere...?? Everyone has a spiritual outlook? Well, if you see it like that I can understand why you work so hard to wake them up from their ‘dream’. But I’ve often heard people say that they don’t believe in a God or anything else and that all we are is flesh and blood and that when we die we’re just eaten by the worms. So you mean that these people are fooling themselves and that deep down there is a belief in a God and the afterlife. I thought there was a lot of totally cynical people that don’t believe in anything really. Haven’t you met a few atheists at least?
PETER: If you are talking about cynical nihilistic agnostics, there are indeed many. Search the Net for atheist lists and you will generally find anti-Christian spiritualists posing as atheists, yet all talk in spiritual terms. Human nature is intrinsically spirit-ual, i.e. dominated by belief in spirits, for ‘who’ we think and feel we are is spirit.
RESPONDENT: I’m still not convinced that it is spirituality that destroys every chance for peace on earth. Isn’t it just human nature that’s in the way? Spirituality would then only be the symptom of our lack of courage to face life along with other addictions such as alcohol, sex, gambling etc.
Could it be that your criticism of spirituality is very much a backlash from your spiritual days and that it prevents you from seeing everything absolutely clear? Why don’t you try to explain to me once and for all why you go after spirituality in such an uncompromising manner. Is it because your view otherwise would be put in the spiritual category?
PETER: Methinks you are discovering that spiritual belief is indeed stubborn, dominant, persistent and central to any discussion about freedom, peace and happiness. I said it well above –
RESPONDENT: Well that’s it, hope you can make any sense of it. Now when I’m done I can see that I’ve continued the quoting tradition that I wanted to get away from. I’ll try to do better the next time. This mail is way too long and I hope we can get away from that also ... ... this is exhausting ... ... puh ... ... but who said life’s supposed to be easy? (just kidding).
PETER: Yep, this mail runs at over 13,000 words which is about ¼ of an average novel, so maybe we can try a few short stories for a while.
PETER: Sorry for the delay in answering your post. You did mention you would be ‘off-air’ a while, but I thought I would reply in case I forgot it completely.
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: I leave that to the police and judges if other people’s actions step beyond the limits of what the particular society I happen to live in deems appropriate – which is not to say I don’t see a lot of people doing a lot of silly things. It would all be amusing, but for the fact that human beings actually torture and kill each other. It was only by seeing this fact with clear eyes, and acknowledging that I too was capable of such actions, when push comes to shove, that forced me to want to radically and irrevocably change – to step out of Humanity.
RESPONDENT: Step out of humanity? Isn’t one still a human being after the ‘shift’? Or would you say that the transformation is so radical that the person that emerges isn’t even a human being anymore?
PETER: Every human born on this planet is programmed to be a ‘who’ – a psychological and psychic alien entity, a being who lives inside the mortal flesh and blood human body – and when one is free of this entity, one is no longer a human being as the term is currently understood. One is neither a self nor a Self, the two alternatives currently on offer. A new species is thus created via a mutation of the primitive brain such that the animal instincts and the associated animal self no longer function. One becomes what one is – a flesh and blood mortal human, able to think and reflect, and able to be aware of that thinking and reflecting, and bristling with sense organs such that one is able to directly and sensually experience the infinitude of this magical physical universe.
RESPONDENT: It is certainly necessary to see the many failures of mankind but why do you need to detach yourself totally from humanity? This kind of approach can create separation and distance between humans and ‘evolved beings’. I actually believe that the solution to our mess is to be found within the human condition because that’s where we are now and will always remain.
PETER: If that is what you believe then you have two choices – to make the best of living in the grim reality of materialism or search for the realization of a Greater Reality of spiritualism. There are only two solutions – ya takes ya pick – either way it’s a battle. Either it’s a dog-eat-dog world or it’s a God-eat-God world.
RESPONDENT: Even if we can eliminate the animal passions we’re still human beings, different yes, but still human.
PETER: Now you are merely speculating and philosophizing about something you have already said you believe is not possible. One can only know by directly experiencing the facticity of being no longer normally human or divinely realized human such as is experienced in a pure consciousness experience. When this experience occurs, and one is sufficiently forewarned, then you can look inside and find no one at home, no personality, no identity, no self, no being whatsoever.
PETER: One has no psychological and psychic identity whatsoever. No ‘I’ in the head – who ‘I’ think I am – nor ‘me’ in the heart – who ‘I’ feel I am.
There is simply this thoughtful, reflective flesh and blood body brimming with sense organs being apperceptively aware. Apperception is the brain’s ability to be aware of itself – a bare awareness. There is no ‘I’ being aware, there is simply awareness operating by itself as a function of the brain of this flesh and blood body. The brain, freed of the neurotic burden of a social identity and the chemical surges emanating from the instinctual animal ‘self’ is able to operate with salubrious clarity. The physical senses – literally the stalks of the brain – are freed of their burden of guard-duty imposed by a fearful instinctual ‘self’, are heightened to an extent that one experiences purity and perfection as a sensual actuality that leaves any paltry feelings for dead.
RESPONDENT: Great stuff Peter, I must say I bought the spiritual idea of the self watching the thoughts in our brain. That ‘insight’ (actually delusion) served me as very clear and logic evidence of the existence of the soul/self. I often pointed this out to other people; look, this makes perfect sense! We’re watching ourselves from the ‘centre’, the real self is watching the dream existence, what else could it be than definite proof of the existence of a mysterious other world (the spiritual world). I didn’t for a moment consider the possibility of this being the works of the mind alone. This shows how limiting one’s beliefs can be and how gullible I was.
PETER: This ‘self’-less awareness is something that is only possible to experience in a pure consciousness experience. An understanding that a ‘self’-less awareness is possible is certainly an excellent start but the proof is only by experience, lest it remains yet another belief.
RESPONDENT: I will not be able to write to you in a few weeks Peter, I am moving with my family to the northern part of Sweden. We’re sending our stuff beforehand on Monday (the 5th) so I have no access to my computer until the end of June.
This is an interesting exchange. It has been very useful for me to communicate with someone from outside of the spiritual camp, or should I say outside of every known camp. We don’t agree on everything, you’re a convinced actualist and you hold on very tightly to your discovery. I agree that it is much more useful to focus on actuality than on theories but I think it is sensible to not be too rigid. If you present actuality and self-immolation as undisputable facts it is a hindrance in the communication with others.
PETER: What is actual is, per definition, an undisputable fact – it is what can be sensately experienced, seen with the eyes, touched with the hands, heard with the ears, smelt with the nose, tasted with the tongue. The perfection and purity of this actual world can only be experienced in a self-less state. Would you have me make up a fairy story, a fanciful poetic psychic realm, whereby ‘you’, as a psychological and psychic spirit, can feel or emotionally experience an inner perfection? We both know where this folly leads to – God realization. Would you have had Galileo recant because his empirical discovery of the fact that the earth orbits around the sun disagreed with Ancient Wisdom? Would you say that the empirical discovery of genetically encoded fear and aggression should not be rigidly held to be factual for it leaves no room for Tabula Rasa theories or the ideas of evil being the result of evil spirits or the evils of materialism?
RESPONDENT: In order to find out about life there’s need for inquiry, by oneself but also together with others. In inquiry with others there is need for an open atmosphere and the ability to listen without preconceptions to what others have to say, but if you always abide in ‘actuality’ and aren’t really interested in a different outlook on life then it isn’t really working, is it?
PETER: You seem to have a fixation on remaining open. This notion is ingrained in the spiritual search for freedom because for spiritualism to exist it is essential to remain open to something other than what can be actually experienced by the physical senses – i.e. a metaphysical world and a subsequent meta-physical freedom. This belief is passionately fuelled by the human instinctual fear of death and spiritual freedom offers a transcendence of this fear such that one feels immortal. By remaining open to other possibilities other than actuality one forever turns one’s back on actual freedom and leaves oneself forever open to the seductive lure of spiritual freedom. Of course, ‘you’ get off scot-free which is the very point of remaining open and flexible.
RESPONDENT: In order to make progress in the investigation a real dialogue is necessary, at its best the inquiry can become an example of how two people (or more) can come together and demonstrate harmlessness and selflessness in a practical way.
PETER: A real dialogue in normal-world terms is one where compromise, bargains and deals are done whereby no one wins and everybody loses – an accommodation is reached, a mutual agreement to not rock the boat too much. The bottom line is that no one wants to fundamentally change himself or herself. A real dialogue in spiritual terms is a discussion such as is held on the mailing list – a nonsensical bewildering repetition of Ancient Wisdom designed to encourage the development of a new spiritual identity that is transcendental of the old worldly identity.
RESPONDENT: I don’t think it works to say that ‘self-immolation’ is the only way and that’s it, you’re just creating more distance between you and others with a differing approach.
PETER: Are you planning to invent your own personal differing approach to life simply to suit you? You may have noticed that this is common in the spiritual world where every teacher claims to have a differing, unique interpretation or approach.
What is actual is actual, we are all born of the meeting of the sperm and the egg, we are all born into the Human Condition, and some of us seek freedom from this condition. Thus far there has only been one freedom, one ‘differing approach’ available – the mythical, other-worldly spiritual freedom. If you are not interested in something so radically different as actualism, fair enough. They say there is safety in numbers, but I never found it so.
RESPONDENT: So what you need is a TEACHING of actuality so that you can let sanity slowly creep in to your ‘students’ minds ... just kidding a little bit ... I believe you mentioned that you aren’t interested in changing anybody else. But I guess you’re interested in communicating your discovery so that others at least can have the possibility to judge for themselves.
PETER: Yes, and you wrote to me with some questions and you have clearly made a judgement that you don’t believe it is possible to become free from the Human Condition. But I do appreciate your interest – you are the only person from the mailing list who expressed any interest at all in something so radically new.
RESPONDENT: But as we both know it isn’t going to make any difference unless the individual is very interested in finding out what life is about and how to live here on earth, right now, and not in some other life.
It’s a very rare individual who dares to see the totality of the pitiful state of human existence on this earth without indulging in it himself and who instead continues the search for a way out of our predicament.
PETER: Andrew Cohen uses the term ‘rare individual’ when describing those who take up his teachings of liberation of the human spirit. What I found when I investigated his teachings and his community is that what he offers is a very traditional, very conservative fundamentalist view of Eastern spirituality, blended with a touch of Western mysticism. To follow this course one needs only to be a common follower, by no means rare, and by no means individual. The spiritual path has been trod by billions of human beings for thousands of years – t’is a well-worn path, and very well travelled.
Whereas to be a pioneer of actualism, in the early decades at least, is to truly be both – rare, as in few, and individual, as in autonomous.
RESPONDENT: But I do not believe that there is only ONE way towards change. Yes Peter, I used the word believe because I don’t know for sure what is going to work, that we can only determine by looking back in our tracks and see what worked and what didn’t.
PETER: I see you are back to being open again and not taking a position about your life.
RESPONDENT: And Peter, I’m sure that even you have beliefs. Even if you base your approach on the ‘facts’ there’s belief involved without a doubt, you have to believe in your interpretation of the facts. This is pioneering work that you do so therefore it is also likely that you have to change your position somewhat in the future.
PETER: This is where the personal knowledge of a pure consciousness experience is vital – one knows for a fact what is possible and then one sets out to live the pure consciousness experience, 24 hrs. a day, every day. Then the only position that changes is that one becomes actually free – thus making the fact of the experience constant, permanent and irrevocable.
RESPONDENT: Isn’t the third way a theory amongst others until it’s really proven on a larger scale? Don’t we have to wait and see if it’s going to make a difference at all? This, of course, doesn’t prevent you, me or anybody else to live life the way we decide to right now, we shouldn’t wait around for anybody else, I mean.
PETER: One man has proven it is possible and a handful of others are proving that the method to become free works. If you want to wait ‘until it’s really proven on a larger scale’ – that is a different matter completely.
However, there is no imperative, no urgency – hundreds of people have rejected the possibility of becoming actually free of malice and sorrow in favour of remaining normal or continuing on the traditional spiritual path.
RESPONDENT: You will see this as ‘objections to peace on earth’, I’m sure, but I still insist that it’s useful to be more inclusive than exclusive. Otherwise the third way can become an elitist club with very few members even in the long run and the chance for peace on earth is diminished a little.
PETER: So what you are proposing is that the first ones who become free of the Human Condition are, by definition, ‘an elitist club’, so therefore we should all wait until some mass event causes some ‘more inclusive’ club to become free? Following this logic, no one should be first, or at least in the early group and therefore we should do nothing towards pioneering a third alternative. I, for one, don’t buy your logic.
We humans would all be still huddling in caves fighting off wild animals if this logical attitude had prevailed.
RESPONDENT: Personally I believe in peace on earth in this lifetime for myself but at the same time I must confess that I’m suffering a little bit as it is at present. Even though I have a positive outlook on life today I can’t say I’m enjoying every minute of my daily life.
I often find myself lacking sufficient energy partly due to pretty weak health from time to time, I had a bit of a crisis 6 years ago with depression, different bodily symptoms (mainly bladder and bowel symptoms) and even tendencies of agoraphobia etc. I was burnt out as we say in Sweden. It was after that hardship I became interested in spiritual matters (Andrew Cohen) through the massage school I was attending. They had video screenings with Andrew and even though he seemed a bit arrogant at first I became very interested in what he was teaching. Life could make perfect sense, what a relief!
Anyway I still suffer a little bit from the weaknesses I have in my system, I often feel a little restricted to take part in outgoing activities such as cinema, moving around in cities, public transportation etc., but on the whole I think I function well. But I don’t seek out these kind of circumstances since I can’t really enjoy them, they just cause stress. It’s more like therapy for me I and not pleasure if you know what I mean.
Another thing that makes me suffer is that I’m not living life to the fullest, I often find myself bound by outer circumstances such as occupation, family responsibilities and mere survival.
My partner (with whom I have two kids, 3 and 5) isn’t really interested in exploring life the way I try to do so we have difficulties in communicating with each other. She is very traditional and wants live a ‘normal’ family life. The kids are her greatest concern. This also makes me suffer; I’m weighing my responsibilities towards my family against my interest in living a sane life. The problem is that I don’t know exactly what I should do to, how to make the right choices. From one aspect the outer circumstances shouldn’t matter that much if there was perfect happiness within me, but then I don’t know where to start from, the inner or the outer. This ambivalence is also making me suffer. Maybe I have to be more independent and decide what is best for ME.
On our new location (my partners parents old house) I will encounter a great deal of conservatism and conformity and I will have to fight for my way of living. The important thing up there is to have a steady job and work hard like a real man (yeah!) and to not confuse things ... haha ... that is the idea I’ve gotten anyway. The people are quite nice though, it being a small community, probably due to the social and cultural pressure. You don’t fit in unless you’re friendly and ready to assist your relatives and neighbours every time they ask you. Being a man I’m going to be required to do a mans work of course, construction and repairs mainly. It’s a primitive life they live up there, the animal passions are virtually flowing!
So you see Peter, it’s going to be a hard and suffering experience to live up in the north. The winter lasts seven months with temperatures below 30 degrees (Celsius) many times ...brrrrrrr ... My partner is moving up there with or without me she has said, she is totally fed up with Stockholm and misses her family and the security and friendliness up there so if I want to see the children on a regular basis I’d better go with them.
How about that sad story ... haha ...
Well, it isn’t quite as bad as it sounds, maybe the move will force me to confront myself and make things clearer for me. Now it’s time for me to return to the packing of our precious belongings.
PETER: Well, as you said –
Given your obvious interest in searching for freedom, peace and happiness you may well, one day, have a pure consciousness experience and remember this conversation. If so, you have the address of the Actual Freedom web-site and mailing list, should you be interested in putting into practice the method to become actually free of the Human Condition.
Peter’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.