Selected Correspondence Peter
Animism and Environmentalism
RESPONDENT: Just meandering through the archives and happened upon your Feb 05, 2000 book review of ‘In Each Moment – A new way to live’ by Paul Lowe. Looking Glass Press. 1998 (No15)
I’m not one for books of Revelation either, nor doom and gloom, but any child these days knows that the physical, material world in which we are living is collapsing because of mankind’s lack of consideration for the environment. Are you sure that you yourself are not imagining that Paul so definitely divides the human condition from the devastating state nature is now in? Sure, he gives our beliefs way too much credit, but could radical actualism go the same route and go into denial about the very real effects man’s imagining brain is capable of.
PETER: Children don’t ‘know’ this from some innate sense of wisdom or foresight born of innocence – they have it drilled and drummed into them by teachers, media, parents etc. In the last few decades environmental studies have formed an essential part of all school curricula for all ages. Not only is it often taught as a separate subject in many cases, environmental issues dominate economics, science, politics, engineering, social sciences, entertainment, media, etc. Every child who receives a modern Western education is taught from a very early age that the material, physical world in which they live is either collapsing or is in imminent danger of collapsing and that human beings are at fault. My school days were in the late 50’s and early 60’s and environmental theory hadn’t been invented then. The major fear at that time was the Cold War and the threat of nuclear devastation, but doom and gloom predictions weren’t taught as part of the school curriculum as is case with the teachings of environmental doom and gloom.
What children know is what children are taught. Thus what we think we know or take for granted is, almost without exception, what we have been taught by our parents, teachers and peers. We take this information to be true, as in factual, whereas an extraordinary amount of it is theory, fashion, belief, concept, current idea, old wives tales, psittacisms, prejudiced view, etc. One only needs to consider what the school curriculum would have been like a century ago and consider how much of it would be relevant today, how much our world view has changed and yet how much of the past we desperately cling to. However, what we have been taught as truisms forms the very substance of our social identity – ‘who’ we think we are. One’s social identity is the conglomerate of all the beliefs, morals, ethics, values, principles and psittacisms that each of us has been programmed with since birth.
Unless this programming in the brain is questioned and sorted into silly and sensible and old redundant neural connections severed and new ones formed, one remains a victim of one’s social identity – whereas an actualist’s avowed aim is freedom from being this identity that has been imposed upon this flesh and blood body. Therefore it is vital that all one’s beliefs, morals, ethics, principles and psittacisms be questioned and reviewed.
This is the practical business of an actualist, this is the very down-to-earth pragmatic work to be done. It is an uncomfortable, tedious, seemingly-pedantic, fear-provoking process that people are very reluctant to undertake for you are quite literally dismantling a very large part of your ‘self’. Most of this information is programmed into us at the early years but quite a lot of what we hold dearest is what we have adopted later in life as we ‘moved with the times’. Environmental belief and Eastern religious belief were two that I adopted later in my life, and as such, I found them relatively easier to question for they were a bit like the layers of clothing I had swapped during my adult life as fashions and times changed.
So, the first thing to be aware of is that you are doing the very business of dismantling your social identity by questioning and challenging your dearly held beliefs. The second thing is that they don’t magically disappear by themselves. It requires stubborn effort to dig in and question and you will find much resistance, wariness, hesitancy and objection in yourself to devoting the necessary time and effort required. The third thing is that it is something you have to do yourself to the point that the ‘penny drops’ for you, otherwise you are back with simply swapping beliefs or adopting another belief – a useless enterprise that will do nothing to free you from the human condition.
Actualism is not a philosophy – it is a down-to-earth practical method that can enable you to become free from the human condition.
PETER: Excerpt from book review cont. –
But it’s gone beyond theory now and into actuality? The proof of our misuse of thought is collapsing this very environment and the physical actuality of that, confronts us everyday. Mankind’s erroneous theories have bolted and cannot be contained by merely shutting the gate afterwards, and haughtily looking down our actual nose at mankind’s silly imaginings. The imagination is a force to be reckoned with, it can manoeuvre arms and legs into all sorts of mischief. It has wrought life threatening havoc on this planet!
PETER: Okay, before I get into detail, it may be useful to look at how it is possible to ascertain what is fact and what is theory, postulation, concept, commonly agreed, belief, assumption, psittacism, speculation, feeling, intuition, imagination, myth, wisdom, real or true.
The first step would be to at least entertain the idea that the notion you have about something may not be factually correct. It would be good to put one’s real-world and spiritual-world cynicism aside and crank up a bit of naïve curiosity at this stage, even if you have to pretend an innocence, a not knowing when you ‘really do know’... To do so would be a blow to one’s pride and the way I dealt with that was to turn it on its head and say that I would be really silly to continue believing something that was not factual. The next obstacle is the moral and ethical stance I have – if I think it is ‘right’ or ‘good’ to believe this particular issue then I will not even bother to investigate it. Again, I refused to let arbitrary moral or ethical judgements stand in the way of wanting to know the facts for that would be silly and beneath my dignity as a supposedly intelligent, supposedly autonomous, supposedly free human being.
So, you crank up a bit of naïve curiosity, clear the decks of pride, morals and ethics and you are ready to take a clear-eyed look at the particular issue. I can offer a few clues as to ascertaining facts based on my experience which may be useful. This is bound to end up a long post but you seem to be a reader which is a very good thing for someone interested in an actualism. I am putting in words a process I have done so many times it has become automatic, so it is best to regard this as a schematic outline rather than a fixed approach. But I do see a few elements common to any investigation –
So, taking a deep breath, we plunge into Environmentalism, using the above outline as a touchstone. I’ll try and keep on track but, in fact, all these elements tend to overlap, as one makes an investigation into a particular issue that may run from hours to weeks to months, or even years in some cases.
So, a little history to start with and I am already off on a ramble, but what heck. I first became aware of, and actively involved in, the environmental movement in the 70’s when the forest south of where I lived was being clear-felled for woodchips and exported to make paper. Another part of the forest was being mined for bauxite and I saw both activities as a foolish abuse of a scarce resource. After some two years of being actively involved in a ‘save the forest’ organization I gave up for two reasons. Firstly, the people involved were more anti and angry than really concerned and the whole issue became a ‘them and us’, good and evil battle, and secondly I realized I was taking an extremist position based on quite small areas and severe cases relative to the whole picture. However, public opinion was swayed and both companies went to even greater lengths to pioneer innovative and successful rehabilitation projects that were to become the precedents for future work and other resource projects.
From these early days the environmental movement has spread to embrace all issues of resource and land usage, protection of plants and animals, health and lifestyle, pollution and economics, etc. Interestingly, the concern for ‘the environment’ is not a new phenomena – a sudden realization of light against darkness or a dawning of a higher consciousness riling against the ignorance of others. In the country where I live, the forestry departments have, for over a century, developed sustainable harvest methods for cutting timber from the forests that included rotation, culling, minimal disturbances, etc. London addressed its smog problem, many countries addressed issues of clean water and sewerage disposal, the Norwegians proposed quotas on whaling, etc – all done sensibly, quietly and pragmatically well before the current passion for Environmentalism.
What I gleaned from my experience in the environmental movement was a healthy suspicion of the motives of the protagonists and an appreciation of the extremist nature of the stance taken by many of those involved. In later years, as the movement grew into a fashionable ethic, I decided that the advice that we should each do our bit was worthy of implementing, particularly in the building and design work I was involved in – the putting into action of an idea or ideal to see if it works in practice. The first issue was energy-saving design. Given that orientation, ventilation, insulation, etc. were all regarded as a matter of common sense even before the rise of Environmentalism, the ideas addressed pushed into other more marginal areas of savings and return for effort and money expended. These ideals meant that the way to save precious resources was to spend more money and generally use more material resources in order to achieve long-term savings of un-renewable energy resources. Solar hot water was expensive, still required conventional energy input for a large part of the year and solar electricity was for the wealthy or the primitives who burnt one light at night time and had to drive to the Laundromat for most of the year. Thus resource saving became a matter for the wealthy and the financial savings were in the order of hundreds per year for tens of thousands of dollars expended. When push came to shove, very, very few people were willing to put their money where their ideals were.
The next issue was materials used and again scarce resources meant a confusing decision between raw and manufactured, renewable and finite-scarce, recycled and new, natural and unnatural. At the time I was enjoying doing the carpentry work on my jobs so I preferred to use a lot of timber in my houses – a low-tech, natural, renewable resource – but its use did involve cutting down trees. The other common alternative, brick houses, didn’t involve cutting down trees but involved mining and used a lot of energy in their manufacture. Some paints were ‘natural’, being plant-based, but others weren’t because they were mineral-based. The natural paints grew mould, were impossible to keep clean, were more expensive and required frequent maintenance and recoating thus using more resources. Nowadays the issues are so complex and so wrought with confusion that academics are producing mathematical models and computer programs so as to ascertain which is ‘best’ and what is the ‘right’ thing to do to save the environment. In the end, I used to tell people that ‘wood grows on trees’, but timber is now becoming so scarce and so expensive that I am simply moving with the fashion and the economic tide. Most of the timber is now harvested from timber farms that were once cleared grazing and farming land which has now become redundant due to increasing efficiency in the agriculture industry. And thus I came to see that things go on sorting themselves out without the need for, and in spite of, the teachings of unliveable Environmental ethical and moral standards that everybody so passionately champions ... and nobody follows anyway.
The ‘natural-only’ high principles of Environmentalism would have us all in loin cloths, huddled around wood fires in caves and eating nothing but fruit. Generally unwilling and unable to live up to their own higher principles, or convince others to go to this extreme in developed countries, the Environmentalists primarily concentrate their efforts and vitriol on ensuring that those in developing countries live by these standards. Thus they push so-called ‘alternative’ lifestyles such as subsistence organic farming, well-water, solar electric panels, straw or mud buildings, primitive alternative medicine, etc. – all in the name of being natural and not harming the environment or using ‘precious’ resources. In fact, what this does is maintain poverty, disease, and a lack of modern amenities and services in these countries.
Despite the rhetoric there is, in fact, nothing ‘un-natural’ on the planet, as all of the materials we use, all of the things we make and use and everything we eat come from the earth. No spacecraft brings in alien materials, nothing on the planet is alien – human hands and human intelligence has crafted amazing materials from the elements, minerals, gases and vegetable matter of this planet but somehow this processing is deemed to produce ‘unnatural’ products that are seen as intrinsically bad or evil in the minds of Environmentalists.
Environmentalism has a few basic tenets that form the backbone of the whole structure of the movement. One of the earliest founding principles was that the planet’s resources were in imminent danger of being depleted and the oil crisis of the 80’s was offered as proof of this fact. Scenarios were presented that predicted that many essential resources would be dangerously depleted by the millennium. Well, the oil crisis came and went and the concept of resource scarcity is more of an esoteric principle rather a pragmatic teaching. Historically, energy resources have gone from wood to coal to oil and modern conservation theory seems to be reverting backwards or ‘back to nature’, and where I live with Environmentalists in the hills around here coveting their wood stoves – bio-energy is the latest jargon.
The theory that the planet is running out of material and energy resources is used to justify the Environmentalists actively campaigning to prevent over half the world’s human beings from enjoying the comforts and benefits enjoyed by the other half. Energy, electricity and irrigation projects, dams and mining, land clearing and infrastructure projects are all seen as bad and evil in underdeveloped countries and actively thwarting them causes untold suffering, hardship, illness and hunger – all inflicted in the name of Environmentalism.
The next principle was that we humans are poisoning the planet – that all life will ultimately be extinguished by man’s polluting existence on the planet. Sensible adjustments are being continuously made, and still need to be undertaken in some undeveloped areas where over-population or lack of wealth prevent the necessary expenditure, but the standards and goals have been increasingly raised to limits that often exceed levels that exist naturally – i.e. in areas where no human habitation has ever existed or back to some mythical standard in ‘the good old days’. In fact, in the ‘good old days’, people suffered and died from wood and coal smoke at home or at work, suffered and died in mines and factories from toxic fumes, suffered and died when disease wiped out their crops or swept through the human population. Human life expectancy has doubled in the last century of amazing technological progress and yet Environmentalists would have it that we are now suffering more and our health is getting worse. The paranoia of even microscopic levels of elements that seemingly could be one of the factors that may cause illness or damage .... is the justification for denying the use of any insecticides in developing countries to combat malarial mosquitoes, rodent control, insect control for crops, etc., thereby causing untold suffering, hardship, illness and hunger – all inflicted in the name of Environmentalism.
What I came to see was a fervent extremism in ideals advocated, standards applied and a completely non-sensical rewriting of history. A few anecdotes stick in my mind and one was a TV interview with an environmental scientist who was testing for any insecticides leaching into waterways from adjacent cotton fields. While standing up to his knees in water with a test kit, he was asked what he was finding. He looked a little sheepish and said ‘you have to realize we are checking for extremely minute variations in water composition which may indicate the possibility that any change could have come from chemical use next door’. His emphasis on the words ‘extremely minute’ was due to the fact that the measurements are in the order of parts per million, i.e. not percentages but thousands of a percent. The interview was a glitch in the normal media reporting for this was not a spokesman interviewed, no party line was pushed but this was the view of someone really involved in doing the job. Other anecdotes relate to so-called planet-threatening environmental disasters that fade to nothing with the passage of time. A single volcano caused more atmospheric pollution than did the burning of the Kuwait oilfields, recent reports indicate astounding recoveries after the Exon Valdez disaster and the Mt. St. Helena volcanic eruption.
The definition of what constitutes pollution has now been popularly widened so as to include any ‘unnatural’ materials, energy sources or esoteric energies to such an extent that anything at all ‘modern’ is seen as harmful to humans and life on the planet. This planet is so immense, the degree of any possible human pollution so miniscule in proportion and degree, the recovery ability so rapid, robust and virulent, that any talk of total-system failure is paranoid in the extreme.
Another core belief of Environmentalism is the endangered species theory based on the idea that ‘life’ on the planet is a very fragile interconnected web that will totally break down should a hypothetical and unknown number of species become extinct. The number, type and location of these species that are believed to be critical to preventing the total life system collapsing have never been even guessed at as the number and variety of plants and animals in the food chain is so vast and so diverse as to make the concept implausible. Literally thousands of species are being discovered every year and according to Encyclopaedia Britannica –
To further put the endangered species theory into perspective, a bit more information from Encyclopaedia Britannica is useful to consider –
Firstly, the definition of endangered is so wide ranging and loose as to lack credibility and secondly the numbers of endangered species as a percentage of total species and as a percentage of estimated natural attrition is so miniscule as to be mind-boggling. As such, the theory is based upon a seemingly un-provable hypothesis and defies any statistical basis and yet it forms a central plank in the Environmentalist movement. There are a significant number of scientists who either dispute the basis of the theory or voice skepticism but their voice is either ignored or suppressed. Yet, solely on the basis of this rickety theory, Environmentalists are avidly advocating that human-eating animals such as tigers, bears and crocodiles be protected from humans who hunt them for food, for trade or to protect their kin or property – to the extent that primitive hunting and gathering human beings are now themselves being actively hunted and killed by other human beings in the name of ‘conservation’. In India, tigers attack villages, carrying off children as food, yet the villagers are forbidden to retaliate in order to eradicate the threat. In Africa, indigenous human beings who hunt animals for food and trade are hunted and shot on sight should they kill certain animals. Increasing areas of land are being set aside exclusively for animal use while indigenous human beings are being forcibly exiled.
In Environmental belief, animals are seen as innocent and in need of protection, whereas human beings are seen as evil and in need of control and penance. In many developing countries vital energy, electricity, and irrigation projects, mining, dams, land clearing and infrastructure projects are actively inhibited in order that wild animals have preference over humans and this policy causes untold human suffering, hardship, illness and hunger, all inflicted in the name of Environmentalism. Environmentalists care far more for animals and plants than they do for the welfare of their fellow human beings.
As if this tally of senseless vitriol were not enough, the Environmentalists have recently seized upon yet another pseudo-scientific theory to add to their arsenal of gloom and doom predictions. The global warming theory has steadily gained airplay to the point of hysteria. When one digs into the theory a wee bit, it is obvious that making any sensible evaluation of the miniscule amount of data, the lack of accurate historical record, and the impossible scale and range of prediction can only result in predisposed guesswork. A little bit that is relevant to the scale of the topic –
Thus the estimates arrived at by these models are entirely dependant on the guesstimates of data fed into the models and the guesstimated mathematical equations involved. Neither the data is reliable, nor are the equations that form the model reliable, and the models are purely mathematical and not physical. The direst of these predictions are then seized upon by the Environmentalists to justify their actions in preventing many energy-, electricity-, and irrigation projects, mining, dams, land clearing and infrastructure projects in developing countries and this policy causes untold human suffering, hardship, illness and hunger, all inflicted in the name of Environmentalism. A little reading beyond the biased output of the popular press, the Environmental press and the government funded researchers, reveals a not-insignificant questioning by many scientists of the very foundations of global warming theory, but the theory has gained such popular acclaim that only the foolhardy – and the un-funded – scientists dare speak up.
Environmentalists also champion other theories in support of their cause including the supposedly dire consequences of genetically modifying plants and animals even though similar genetic modifications have happened randomly, rampantly and totally uncontrolled on this planet for billions of years – and also with human forethought and deliberate interference, for thousands of years. Another Environmentalist cause is the loosely labelled, all-embracing concept of sustainable development which is by definition indefinable and, as such, is a useful pseudo-scientific term that Environmentalists use to justify their angry protests at whatever development it is that they don’t happen to like.
The freeing up of restrictions on the world-wide trade of materials, food and goods is being actively resisted by Environmentalists, justified by many spurious arguments, and this action is essentially aimed at preventing human beings in developing countries from getting their share of the material benefits enjoyed by those in the developed counties. Another of the umbrella causes championed is the concept of animal rights which, put simply, states that ‘the tiger that hunts humans has more rights than the human who hunts tigers’. As such, it is human beings who hunt wild animals for safety, food or trade who are shot on sight whereas the animals now have environmentally-funded armed guards as protectors and the only suffering the animal is likely to have is in the fitting of the ubiquitous radio collar. Environmentalists care far more for animals and plants than they do for the welfare of their fellow human beings.
Need I go on. I am not attempting an all-encompassing academic dissertation but rather I am taking a common sense look at the ideas and concepts championed by Environmentalists and the effects of these ideas when put into practice. My knowledge of science and engineering is practical and broad rather than scholarly and deep which I find to be an advantage rather than a hindrance in ascertaining what is fact, what works and what is common sense as opposed to what is theory or concept, ideal or ethic and what is merely impassioned nonsense.
Each of the concepts that make up Environmentalism when separated can be seen to be based on scientific theory which is unproven and in many cases un-provable, often simply by the sheer scope and very nature of the theory proposed. Many concepts rely on computer modelling to produce a range of scenarios which the scientists involved often candidly admit is their only way of providing seemingly empirical scenarios to give some credence to their theories. Given that these combined theories are actively maintaining and proliferating human suffering, I wondered why it is that Environmentalism has gained such mainstream popular support, regulatory implementation and profound influence at all levels of educational curricula.
What I found was that such a fervour of belief and such a degree of passions induced, all lacking any factual empirical basis, points clearly to the underlying spiritual basis of Environmentalism.
Natural, spiritual and romantic viewpoints all have a history of fearing and battling the rising influence and success of materialism, science and technological progress. In the last half century the increasing fascination with Eastern Mysticism has been combined with the earth-as-spirit belief that underpins Environmentalism, and it has gradually grown in strength and status to having now taken on the power and influence of a fully-fledged and popularly-supported religion. Environmentalists were able to co-opt the fashionable Eastern religious belief that life on earth is essentially a suffering existence in order to give weight to their blindly riling against any progress likely to increase human safety, comfort, leisure and pleasure. As I said to two other correspondents recently –
Environmentalism, like all religions, can be seen superficially by the gullible believers as ‘doing good’, but when one digs deeper than the seemingly noble ideals we see fervent belief and when it becomes dogma, policy and practice, it causes untold human suffering, hardship, illness and hunger for hundreds of millions of humans. Environmentalists care more for the spirits of animals and plants and Mother Earth than they do for the welfare of their fellow human beings. So entrenched is the religion of Environmentalism that it is now taught to children in schools to an extent that few other religions have managed, and as such, its ubiquitous and debilitating effects are both widespread and deep-set. It could well be seen as the Next Age religion to emerge, now that Western influence is beginning to investigate, water-down or reject the more fundamental Eastern religious beliefs.
For an actualist, any spiritual belief, no matter how it is disguised or formulated, must be investigated and seen for what it is – metaphysical belief and not empirical fact.
This has been a fairly long investigation yet it is by no means comprehensive. Environmental belief is so strong, so prevalent and so insidious it takes considerable effort and time to weed out the beliefs, morals and ethics peculiar to the religion, and it is a process that every actualist does for himself or herself. Your question deserved a detailed answer and the detail offered is mainly intended to point to some of the methods of discerning belief from fact rather than being a comprehensive debunking of Environmental belief per se.
PETER: Excerpt from book review cont. –
But it goes way past spiritual belief when the imagination snaps the synapses, commands the body, which then physically stomps on the environment? To me, it is just as much a leap of the imagination to believe that mankind’s malice and sorrow, war and suicide, doom and gloom, is the culprit. I know myself that this flesh and blood body has also damaged this eco system by wanting, going out and getting, too much of a good thing.
PETER: What I came to see was that any resources I used or possessions I owned I had to pay for which meant I had to work for – i.e. sell my time to someone else in return for money. This realization was a slow dawning but I did have the sense to have a vasectomy after having two children, and soon adopted the quality-not-quantity approach to possessions. After meeting Richard I pushed the envelope a bit more, eventually trading my car for a new-age typewriter and reducing my work hours to a minimum in order to devote myself to the business of actualism as much as possible. Nowadays I find myself living a life of indulgent consumption that borders on hedonism yet at a level that would be easily be possible, sustainable and feasible for all human beings on the planet. To be an actualist is to become an ideal and model citizen of the world.
And so too, must we be vigilant that actualism doesn’t go into actual denial also.
PETER: Actualism heralds the ending of the need for personal vigilance. But an actualist always welcomes vigilant scrutiny from others – it gives us a chance to debunk belief and write of the facts of human existence on the planet.
I agree, identities are shifty things, but we need to tread sensibly now, these fanciful identities are actually capable of destroying the very environment that sustains bodily existence. The detrimental imagination needs to be exposed calmly and objectively, not just spat on and poopooed as total nonsense. It’s a snake in the grass and a deadly one at that. It will take actual skills to expose it.
PETER: Okay, well, I gave Environmentalism a good shot. Short of writing a scientific thesis I have attempted to calmly and objectively expose the shifty Environmentalist identity. But given that the belief causes untold human suffering, hardship, illness and hunger for hundreds of millions of humans I personally refused to be subjective about it. Once I began to see the malice and sorrow inherent in maintaining this belief I dropped it like a hot brick.
Actualism is not an objective philosophy nor a dispassionate business – the ending of instinctual passion requires verve, courage, audacity, panache, stubbornness and altruistic vigour.
Peter, if one believes something strongly enough it can catapult one into physical activity. Not all our imaginings are impotent thoughts. I hope you don’t mind my clumsy comments Peter, I really don’t know what I’m on about anymore. I am experimenting intensely at the moment with actualism and am quite awed by its simplicity. Thank you for so many interesting springboards.
PETER: The approach I adopted when I first came across Richard and was intrigued by Actual Freedom was that in no way was I going to fall for yet another belief. Once I had established a prima face case for investigating further, I decided to test it in a practical way. I have described my process to becoming virtually free of malice and sorrow in my journal and also the turmoil I went through as all that I believed to be true slowly collapsed like a leaky balloon.
I remember lying in bed one night and it seemed as though I was at the bottom of a huge mountain of belief. It was overwhelming but I simply got up the next morning and resumed the business of investigating and demolishing them, one by one. As for being ‘awed by its simplicity’ – I came to be awed by the ruthless efficiency and devastating simplicity of running the question ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’
RESPONDENT: As for reading Peter’s writings, well, lets just say ‘Green Peace’ lost what could have been one of its most passionate members. The ‘boots and all’ approach I had planned for Environmentalism is now well directed towards Actualism.
PETER: Yeah. I live in a country, which is so wealthy that water quality, air quality, food quality and the like are of such a high standard that they present no health risk at all. When I realized a few years ago that Environmentalists in this country were getting angry about the ever-increasing minutiae of an ever-decreasing problem or were ever-eager to jump on the bandwagon of ever-new doomsday scenarios in order to satiate their morbid fascination with destruction and extinction, I knew it was time to leave the Environmentalists to their own feelings of anger and sorrow.
In short, I stopped holding pantheistic beliefs, which meant that I finally stopped taking sides in the mythological battle twixt the forces of Good and forces of Evil – which then left me free of the anger and sorrow inherent in ‘fighting the good cause’.
One of the realizations that really got me off my bum was that I live in a country that has a level of safety, comfort, leisure and pleasure that was unthinkable a century ago and yet, despite this fact, I was not happy and I was far from harmless. It then struck me that it’s exactly people like me who live in similar situations to me – those who no longer need to fight it out with other human beings in a grim battle for survival – who need to stop being instinctually driven beings. With this realization haunting me, I soon understood that this realization meant that ‘people like me’ in fact meant me and the ‘boots and all’ approach soon followed.
PETER to Alan: I remember a period where I would look for a solution to the human dilemma within Humanity – the ‘If only everyone would stop fighting’ or ‘Look, if only everyone would ...’ or ‘Why can’t we just get along with each other?’ T’was just another way of blaming someone else or expecting someone to sort it out. Well, if you count out God, you will see that there is no one in charge of human beings on the planet – we are still fighting it out – then it’s up to me to abandon ship – to free myself of Humanity’s insidious grip.
To devote one’s life to being happy and harmless is no little thing we do.
Just to get back to the environmental issues – bit of a jump – but I told you this was a rave.
I was struck by the effort and care to prevent pollution happening from the accident – something almost unheard of 40 years ago.
The yacht moved on, midst more talk of ‘threats’, so I watched on. They visited an island in an inlet that was a significant breeding ground, not only for penguins but for many bird species as well. It was this island that was threatened and they then revealed the nature of the ‘threat’. It appears that the scientists of a nearby research station were interested in putting a hut on this island in order to study the island and its inhabitants more closely. The yacht people felt that this represented a threat to the penguins and birds – the ‘threat’ was in being studied by humans, not hunted, not polluted nor driven off their territory.
Now that wasn’t the case 40 years ago – we hunted, polluted and conquered of necessity for our own survival.
I watched another program where a turtle had been rescued from a fishing net in the Mediterranean and taken to a Turtle study facility. It was placed on an operating table – X-rayed, given a video lapo-something-or-other – video tube down the gullet – and operated on by 2 veterinarians and 2 nurses to remove a fish hook. He was then put into a hypo-aerobic chamber to get a super-oxygenated environment to aid his healing and then they heated his tank with special heaters to aid his recovery. 40 years ago it would have made a delicious meal for someone – now it got better medical attention than half the humans on the planet could expect.
A good deal of environmental extremism is tainted with theories lacking any factual evidence, a rampant belief that the physical planet is somehow Divine, Godly or Maternal, and a debilitating fascination with Doomsday-ism – but then again this global awareness is indicative of the enormous changes that are occurring in our lifetimes.
PETER to Alan: A conversation I had with a woman the other day seemed to typify the New Dark Age spiritual view of the world, so I’ll start with that. She was a woman probably in her mid forties, had been educated and bought up in a wealthy, stable western country and was studying part time for an arts degree at university. She has a teenage daughter and lives in a nearby country town. The conversation got on to the wonders of computers, but she was critical of the difficulties in using them. Rebuffing my enthusiasm for the current information-technology revolution that is currently in full swing, she proclaimed that she didn’t like it that her daughter watched television and that everything was becoming ‘Americanized’. When I stated that I liked the fact that the global wide access to information made the world less insular and isolated she said she didn’t want it all to be the same, for people to be all the same – she thought it was good that we held on to our traditions and differences. When I pointed out that we fought over these differences, be they religious, moral, ethical or traditional territorial, she seemed a little stunned. When I said I had found John Lennon’s song ‘Imagine’ inspirational in my youth – a world with no heaven or hell, nothing to kill or die for and no religion too, all the people living life in peace.
She said it was a nice idea, but ...
She is but typical of a generation that held high ideals, hopes and aspirations to change the world, but as life takes its toll and the disappointments of life set in, she now imbibes ‘traditional’ values in her daughter, exactly as her mother would have done to her. She sees Globalization as a threat to individuality, she sees the spread of one language throughout the world as a threat, she sees the spread of instant world-wide communication and the astounding access to information as a threat. The conversation petered out, but if we had gone on, she would have held all the common beliefs that the world-as-it-is is an awful place and getting worse by the year. She would have offered up the Global Warming Theory – the theory that human habitation, ‘progress’ and pollution will give rise to a dramatic climate change. She would have ignored the fact that it is but a theory that there could be a problem, based on what appears to be a new event – the hole in the ozone layer – based on what is assumed to have happened in the past – based on past suspected climate changes and in spite of any previous knowledge of the condition of ozone layer. The G.W. theorists then fervently propound worst-case scenarios as to what may happen in the future, and very quickly the whole theory has become a fact. There is a stifled debate in the scientific community as to the validity of this theory, seemingly only championed by those whose reputations or jobs are not intimately at stake, but it receives little media publicity.
We could have talked of the Scarcity of Natural Resources Theory, and I would have wondered about the fact that 30 years ago the world was definitely going to run out of oil and many other resources but none of the dire predictions had eventuated. One hears precious little of this theory now. It is a fear that seems to have diminished in popularity only to be replaced by the Bio-Diversity Theory, an altogether more cunning version. This theory runs that we should save every living thing, everywhere, as we don’t know what will happen in the face of any change in ‘natural’ circumstances or if any one particular species dies out. It’s the brick in the wall theory that regards the ‘whole’ as a delicate fragile wall that might be toppled if only one brick is removed. The more extreme version of this is the Fragilistic Interconnectedness Theory whereby the butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world influences events in another part of the world. These theories have spawned the current Endangered Species Theory whereby all animals are deemed to be ‘threatened’ by humans and any human intervention. Thus it is that wolves are being introduced back into grazing country in America, and the farmers are now being compensated for loss of stock due to wolf attacks. Some 100 years ago there was a bounty on wolves, now the bounty is for sheep taken by wolves, and a jail sentence for any farmer killing a wolf to protect his herd. In India the tiger is coming back and killing children in villages; in Australia man-eating crocodiles were hunted as a danger to humans but are now ‘protected’ such that they have re-infested all of rivers and coastline in the north, and now humans are hunted and punished if they kill crocodiles. It appears that our hard won and only recently gained position as the species at the top of the food chain is already ‘endangered’ by NDA beliefs.
I recently watched a TV show where a scientist was studying and trapping pythons in Africa and putting radio collars on them. Before leaving, after a few months of field work, he then set fire to the hut of some native hunters who trapped snakes for food and to sell their skins. He looked a bit unsure of himself and his ethical motives but justified his action on the basis that the ‘survival of the planet’ depends on the ‘survival of the python’ and thus was more important than the survival and livelihood of this particular group of humans. Another program followed a U.N. funded group studying monkeys in East Africa and the colony was declared ‘endangered’ by the encroachment of a local village that was growing in population. A local U.N. health official who was interviewed said that U.N. funding for birth control and community health programs had recently been drastically cut, but maybe they could divert some money from those studying and preserving wildlife ‘as their funding was substantial and growing’. Animals before people is now not only a New Age obsession, but official well-funded policy. I have no dispute at all with sensible environmental programs or polices, but there is a plethora of popularist dooms-day beliefs and many dubious scientific theories are used to justify these paranoid fears. These grim world theories are all fuelled by the sensation-seeking media and lapped up by the gullible.
Earlier this year I was talking to someone who was interested in Actual Freedom Trust, and the subject got on to ‘real world’ beliefs. I offered up the Endangered Species Theory as one belief worthy of discussion and investigation. He looked at me bewildered as though – ‘what on earth has this to do with Actual Freedom’. I pointed out that, if indeed one blindly believed all current fashionable fear-ridden theories, then one would have a grim view of the world as it is and one would therefore seek an ‘escape’ from the world as-it-is and not a freedom from the Human Condition – two diametrically opposite seekings. I find it telling that those who strongly support and believe these grim doomsday beliefs are most usually those of strong spiritual beliefs. The usual environmental view is of a ‘Mother Earth’ or a spiritual ‘God = Life’ belief, and humans are seen as evil consumers or defilers of Nature, seemingly just by our very being here. All of the spiritual and religious belief-systems have as their core underlying belief the concept that the world as-it-is is a grim place where humans are meant to suffer, and this suffering is only finally relieved upon death. Any belief that the actual physical universe is a grim place has, at its very roots, the animal survival instincts of fear and aggression, but this is overlaid, reinforced and ‘set in stone’ by both Eastern and Western religious beliefs.
I always liked Richard’s description that people desperately put on rose-coloured glasses when looking at the real world, seeking relief in the feelings of gratitude, ‘higher consciousness’, beauty, goodness, love and compassion. In order to do this, they start with a view of the world as-it-is based on wearing grey-coloured glasses – the real world being a fearful place of resentment, ‘unconsciousness’, ugliness, evil, alienation and suffering. The solution is to dare to undertake a process that involves removing both the rose-coloured glasses and the grey-coloured glasses, and to see the actual world for what it is – perfect, pure, sensually abundant, benevolent and delightful. One then sees clearly that one’s social and spiritual / religious conditionings and beliefs actively conspire to paint and perpetuate a grim worldview. One then sets to, with gay abandon, on the path of exploring, investigating, scrutinizing, understanding, and eventually eliminating all that is not factual and actual. The act of doing so eliminates one’s social identity – one wipes one’s slate perfectly clean of all beliefs, morals, ethics and psittacisms. What one then discovers – hidden underneath – is one’s biological heritage – the primitive animal instincts of fear, aggression, nurture and desire.
PETER to Alan: Just a follow up to my last post. Soon after posting it I came across the following article which is relevant to the ever shifting chameleonic nature of religious belief.
I wrote in the post –
It’s so easy to write about the sacred ceiling because all one needs to do is present facts and then beliefs simply wilt away, a bit like when you stick a pin in a balloon.
The other snippet I found interesting was the following item
A perfect example of the religion of Environmentalism being more far concerned about Mother Earth and the Earth Spirits than about human beings. Perhaps we will have a demand for recyclable bullets and low emissions guns.
PETER to No 7: As a human on the planet, at this time, we clearly see that much of the essential explorations have been undertaken in order to provide comfort, shelter, food and safety from wild animals and that the next major exploration and effort will be to end ‘man’s inhumanity to man’. Many people are still seeking excitement, fame, meaning and a sense of purpose by physical exploring and adventure pursuits but it has got a bit ridiculous such that it comes as no surprise to hear of someone being the first to hop all the way to the north pole or being the first woman to circumnavigate the globe the wrong way in a bath tub. Many people are now devoting there lives to helping wild animals survive, having abandoned the post-WW2 hope of peace on earth for humans. The focus has shifted to the fashionable ‘saving the earth’ rather than saving the human species.
An actualist is one who devotes his or her life to actualizing peace on earth in the only way possible and gets to have the adventure of a lifetime on the way. It is the most significant thing one can do with one’s life – one’s ‘three score and ten’ of existence as a human being.
RESPONDENT: I remember someone explaining that to save an endangered species one needed to exploit the species commercially, to ensure its survival. An unconvincing argument for anyone interested in the species’ quality of life, but it had a pragmatic kind of logic.
PETER: I think there is no doubt that the human species is an endangered species but not from external threat, nor from any ‘environmental’ disaster or earth resources’ depletion, but from the simple fact that human beings cannot live together in anything remotely resembling peace and harmony. As a practicalist, when I came across Richard, I chose to disprove the logic of Ancient Wisdom that you can’t change Human Nature. Otherwise a human existence of perpetual malice and sorrow is indeed a sick joke. I saw in a PCE that the universe is too magnificent, too grand, too perfect and too pure for me to continue to be sorrowful and malicious. So I set out to change the only thing that was wrong – as in silly and senseless – and that was a ‘me’ inside this flesh and blood body.
As for ‘endangered species’, I realized I was not alone in this exercise of seeking peace on earth. It is an almost universal hope and wish, but everyone looks to others to bring it about, to actualize it. Peace on earth is already here, of course, and only you can find it for yourself.
RESPONDENT: This is a very useful insight Peter. I thought about it after reading your mail and found that I indeed believe that I am unique. As I contemplate further I can see that ‘my uniqueness’ is just a belief and I need to work on it. I would welcome if you have your experience to share on how you tackled it.
PETER: (...) I didn’t sit on the fence or paddle around the edges of the spiritual world – I turned my back on the real world, I renounced materialism and literally wore the orange robes of a sannyasin in the Eastern religious tradition. I have lived in spiritual communes and experienced their failures and I have met several of the God-men personally and have seen for myself their lust for power, reverence and adulation in action. I have been a paid-up passionate believer in several spiritual groups and know the feelings of exclusivity and superiority that inevitably breeds competitiveness and antagonism towards other believers in other religious groups. I know by experience that embracing any spiritual or religious belief does not bring peace and harmony – au contraire, it can only breed yet more conflict and resentment because all spiritual and religious seeking is in fact fuelled by the narcissistic drive that is inbuilt in the ‘self’-centred survival passions.
While this aspect of discussions about spiritual belief and imagination vs. fact and lived experience has been interesting, what fascinates me is that, to date, there has been little discussion about materialism per se. I recently watched one of those typical film documentaries made specifically to promote the Goodness and virtues of primitivism, animism, and spiritualism whilst blatantly blaming all the evils of the world on the vices of modernism, technological progress and materialism. The thrust of the program was breathtaking in both for its patent disregard for facts which resulted in a deliberate distortion of actuality and for the hypocrisy of the film-makers who obviously didn’t live what they preached else they would have been struggling to survive, wearing loin cloths, living in mud huts and telling their story by drawing lines in the dust.
In the TV program herbalism, shamanism, witchcraft and spirit-healing were praised and lauded whilst modern medicine was roundly condemned and vilified – despite the fact that the doubling of the average human lifespan in the last century has coincided with spectacular advances in pharmacology, immunology, obstetrics, surgery and systemized co-ordinated health care. Tribalism, isolationism, ethnicity and traditionalism were proposed as the New Way forward whilst globalisation, co-operation, harmonization and innovation were seen as crippling and restrictive – despite the fact of the spectacular advances in safety, comfort, leisure and pleasure that are available to an increasing proportion of the world’s population most particularly in the last century.
I won’t go on but you will have got my gist by now. If one has only two choices – grim reality and mortality or the fantasy of a Greater Reality and immortality for one’s soul, then believers in a Greater Reality are loath to let a few facts get in the way of their dearly-held spiritual beliefs or their cherished heart-felt spiritual experiences. There is so much thoughtless blame, prejudice and disinformation propagandised by spiritualists that it is no wonder that spiritual believers don’t want to actually be here on this physical planet at all. Given the recent comments on isms on this list I am tempted to label the belief that ‘life’s is a bitch and then you die’ as Miserabilism and its proponents as miserabilists.
However, if you have had sufficient life experience and common sense to question the follies of the beliefs and passions that underpin this dualistic view of a grim reality or the fantasy of a Greater Reality that is imposed by one’s own social conditioning and instinctual programming on the actuality of the physical universe ... then it is never too late to start the business of becoming free of these beliefs and passions.
RESPONDENT: You live in the actual world too, you have access to the primary source. It’s all around you and within you.
PETER: Ah, right on cue, yet another teacher enters stage left, propagating yet another version of an imaginary/ mythical overarching power/ force/ energy – in this case ‘the primary source’.
RESPONDENT: FYI, ‘primary source’ is a well known term (especially in historical works) which refers to getting information from original artefacts, as opposed to interpretative works. It corresponds to the the colloquialism ‘getting it straight from the horse’s mouth’ which in this case meant simply: world, life. I am confident that No 32 understood this. No mystical/mythical meaning was intended. You probably assumed I was using the world ‘source’ as mystics and scientologists use it. Not so.
PETER: Okay. So the primary source has two meanings for you: one is ‘world’ and the other is ‘life’. Given that you have said that ‘that world includes my feeling responses to it’ (see below), are you not saying in effect that sometimes you feel angry towards the world, sometimes you feel sad about the world, sometimes you feel alienated from the world, sometimes you feel disenchanted with the world, sometimes you are bored with the world (that is ‘all around you and within you’) and so on?
The reason I am asking is that I can recall thinking that this was very odd, particularly as I was one of over 6 billion people on the planet doing exactly the same thing – living in a world whose very qualities warped according to my own fickle feelings. It then became obvious to me that everyone is in effect living in a world of their own making world – that there are currently over 6 billion affective beings busily superimposing their own affective worlds over the actual world of clouds, trees, rivers, oceans, beaches, mountains, cities, towns and villages. What you are referring to as being ‘the primary source’ may well be primary for you … but it is, in fact, only one of over 6 billion ‘secondary’ sources.
In the interest of discussing your other definition of the term primary source – life – perhaps you could explain what you mean by the word ‘life’ as you are using it in this case, as it has several distinct meanings. When you do so I will be more than happy to redefine what it is that you are teaching on this list.
RESPONDENT: I already live in the actual world (there is only one after all), and that world includes my feeling responses to it. They belong here.
PETER: This statement makes it perfectly clear that you do not live in the actual world but that you live in a world that is tainted and distorted by your own affective responses – that which is commonly experienced as being grim reality.
RESPONDENT: Is there a difference (concerning the quality of the object involved) when looking at a polyester cup in a PCE compared with our ordinary experience of it?
PETER: Again, the quality of an object does not change when an object is looked when one is having a pure consciousness experience, because the quality of an object is inherent to the object itself. What happens in a PCE is that ‘I’ temporarily disappear, along with the ‘self’-centred and anthropomorphic values and judgements ‘I’ automatically impose upon all matter, be it inanimate or animate – a constant evaluation of every thing as being good or bad, right or wrong, beautiful or ugly, something to envy, scorn, fear or desire, something felt to be ‘mine’ or ‘yours’, someone felt to be friend or foe, and so on.
A currently fashionable value that many people unwittingly impose on objects is that they regard any objects that are fashioned by human beings from the mineral matter of the earth as being ‘unnatural’, hence artificial, going against nature, alien, improper, false, ugly, deviant, corrupted, evil, harmful and so on, whilst they feel matter in its raw state to be natural, wholesome, beautiful, beneficial, good, pure, innocent, true, unadulterated and so on.
The root source of these emotion-backed judgements imposed on the objects fashioned by human beings from the mineral matter of the earth, is the belief that human beings were pure and innocent in their primitive stone-age state and that this purity and innocence has been corrupted by the technological progresses of the iron age, the bronze age, the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution, the invention of electricity, the silicon chip and so on. In its crudest form this belief manifests as a collective feeling of guilt that human beings are aliens who have and are still corrupting and polluting the natural environment of the planet.
As can be seen, for an actualist there is a good deal of work to be done in demolishing these beliefs by replacing them with facts before one can expect to be able to sensuously experience the inherent quality of the matter of the universe, unimpeded by ‘my’ beliefs, values and judgements that ‘I’ unwittingly and automatically superimpose on everything I see, touch, hear, smell and taste as well as every human being I meet in person or hear about.
RESPONDENT: And is that perception objective, in the sense ‘that’s the way that cup really is’?
PETER: There is a world of difference between the normal human perception of the way it ‘really is’ or the way ‘‘I’ feel it to be’ and the ‘self’-less perception of the actuality of the universe as experienced in a PCE.
PETER to Gary: Just thought I’d write a note about some aspects of the human condition that have particularly struck me in the last few weeks. Most relate to items I have seen on television – a marvellous way to observe and experience the full gamut of the human condition from the comfort and safety of one’s own house.
I recently watched a documentary called ‘Reason for Hope’ about Jane Goodall, anthropologist, environmentalist and renowned chimp researcher. After her early years of studying chimp behaviour, she went through a difficult period in her life when her husband died and she came to observe what she described as the ‘dark side’ of chimp behaviour – sadness, depression, anger, warfare, murder and cannibalism. After initially being shocked that chimps were not ‘innocent beings’, she came to regard the fact that chimps have a dark side to their nature as evidence that chimps were ‘even closer to being human’ than she first thought.
Jane Goodall then described a seminal event in her life, an experience of what is sometimes called a nature experience. From her description, her experience seemed to be a pure consciousness experience – a sensate-only experience of the purity and perfection of the actual world. Thinking about it afterwards, she felt the experience must have been a mystical experience or a spiritual revelation – simply because there was no other explanation available to her. This experience proved to be a turning point in her life – she changed from sceptic to spiritualist, from scientist to saviour, from feeling lonely to being loved, from feeling hopelessness to having a ‘reason for hope’. She saw human evolution as the eventual triumph of Good over Evil and began to cement her place as a champion of the good in the battle against evil – a Saviour, not only of Mother Earth and ‘her’ creatures, but also of Humankind.
It was a classic story, common to many. A period of loneliness and depression, an experience of personal loss or grief, a life-changing experience and a life born again as a Saviour – by whatever name, for whatever cause. What was of most interest to me in Goodall’s case was her description of what appeared to be a pure consciousness experience, her after-the-fact interpretation of the experience as a mystical experience and that she then went on to claim the experience as ‘her’ own – as being a personal revelation from God.
I find it always useful to remember why spiritual belief and superstition have thus far cornered the market in the human search for freedom, peace and happiness. Once someone has had ‘the Truth’ personally revealed to them in an altered state of consciousness – or as appears to have happened in Goodall’s case, misinterpreted a PCE as an altered state of consciousness – they are bound by a combination of gratitude and their own inflated sense of self-worth to spread the word that, while earthly life is a bitch, there is really truly a God who loves you.
Speaking of earthly life’s a bitch, this brings me to the Dalai Lama, who recently visited this country. He did the usual celebrity tour, at one stage addressed a gathering of some 6,000 school children. His message to the young was that suffering was a necessary aspect of human earthly life, that it was the working through of karma accumulated from past lives and that materialism is the root cause of evil in the world. A national newspaper ran an article about the meeting entitled ‘The platitudes of the Dalai Lama’ pointing out the banality of his message of love and compassion and his total inability to make any sensible or pertinent comment on down-to-earth questions raised by the audience.
In taking all this in, I was struck by the fact that only some 30 years ago Eastern spiritualism was relatively new to the West, so much so that most who were interested needed to leave the West and travel to the East. Nowadays Eastern spiritualism is mainstream in the West, Western religions are reviving their mystical roots and absorbing Eastern spiritual concepts and Buddhism is reportedly the fastest growing religion in the West. It only goes to show the staying power of olde-time religions. (...)
The other program I watched with interest was a speech given by the Environmental Guru, David Suzuki to a gathering of journalists. He was publicizing his recent book, which evidently points out that all is not doom and gloom but that there have been signs of some environmental successes in the past decades. As the questions and answers drew to an end he was asked if he had a message for the young to which he replied, ‘keep fighting’ and he then praised those who ‘put their lives on the line’. I wondered if he realized the consequences of what he was saying for he was, in fact, condoning youthful violent protests to the point of ‘putting lives on the line’. Ah well, I suppose by his reckoning there is nothing like a good stir or a good stoush – a cause, by whatever name, does gives the kids something to fight about.
PETER to Gary: I have just finished reading a book that I think you might find worth reading. It is called ‘The Sceptical Environmentalist’ by Bjørn Lomborg. Published by Oxford Press.
A sample chapter and index is available online and it can be purchased online at Amazon and other online booksellers. The reason I think you will be interested is that it documents the vast discrepancies between fact, belief and propaganda in regards to the environmental sciences. Whilst I have been aware for some time of some of what the book documents, it is good to see the facts so well presented and documented.
What is equally revealing is to scoot around the Net and sample the tone and quality of criticisms of Lomborg and his book, for it reveals much about the passions of environmental scientists, their social and spiritual leanings. What I found particularly interesting in all the critics is their total failure to address the central theme of his book – that life on earth for human beings has never been better than it is now and that it will only get better.
I don’t usually recommend books to read simply because everybody has got it wrong, but I do so for this book because it documents facts vs. belief in what is the latest of a long line of doomsday scenarios that arise from human instinctual fear. I mentioned the book the other day in conversation, saying how good it was to read a well-researched book that debunked the doomsday beliefs that are being taught to children. I said how debilitating it was to teach children that this world is dying and that things are getting worse, whereas exactly the opposite is true. My acquaintance shrugged his shoulders and said something like ‘it’s good that they have something to fight about’ which stunned me into silence.
I was going to continue on with the conversation but then I remembered that he is a practicing Buddhist which means that he firmly believes that ‘life on earth is essential suffering’. Not much use talking to him about the fact that life on earth has never been safer, never been more comfortable, never been more healthier, never been more leisurely, never been healthier, never been more informed, never been more pleasurable. For him to acknowledge these facts would mean to go against his spiritual beliefs, and as I oft say, ‘t’is a pity to let facts stand in the way of a good belief’.
PETER to No 65: In reference to the link you posted to Grist Magazine – (http://www.gristmagazine.com/grist/books/lomborg121201.asp?source) ‘gloom and doom with a sense of humour’, as it says on its banner –
I read some of these criticisms of Lomborg’s book ‘The Sceptical Environmentalist’ before I purchased it and have read many more since – in fact I pointed out in my post that there were criticisms available on the Net in case anyone wanted to read them. Very few of the criticisms relate to the central thrust of the book – that life on earth is much, much better than it has ever been and that it will only continue to get even better. And further, most of the criticisms are either personal put-downs of the author, blatant denials, digressions and deviations from the book’s main focus or nitpicking objections about minutia.
The belief in doom and gloom runs deep within the human condition – in fact, it is more than a belief; it is a passionate all-consuming conviction. All religious and spiritual belief is fabricated on the conviction that life on earth is a miserable business. Consequently, when someone comes along and says the doom and gloom beliefs do not accord with the documented facts, it is no wonder that he is then treated with scorn, derision and contempt.
I gave up believing that ‘life is a bitch’ – which is why I could read Lomborg’s book with clear eyes and appreciate the diligence of his research in exposing the mythology and duplicity of the religion of Environmentalism. The only reason I recommended the book is that it presents facts and well-documented trends that challenge the status-quo common beliefs of the doomsayers. I am no expert in the finer technical points of environmental issues and because of this I leave it entirely up to anyone who wants to read the book to make up their own minds as to whether the thrust of the book makes sense to them or not.
Did you have any particular point in mind in posting the link to this mailing list? I don’t know whether you have read the book or not or whether you simply wanted to inform the list that many environmentalists object to it. If so, I would have thought it was obvious that those environmental scientists who passionately believe in doom and gloom would be queuing up to criticize it.
RESPONDENT No 65: A sceptical look at The Sceptical Environmentalist http://www.gristmagazine.com/grist/books/lomborg121201.asp
RESPONDENT: Thanks for the link, this is my digest of it. Intro Stephen H. Schneider quote:
There seems to be some disagreement as to the ‘urge’ of the global situation with regard to species extinction. To me it looks like pseudo science is likely to become now the alternative for new Age Babble. This kind of stuff seems to be all geared to keep people having faith in their future and comfortably allow themselves to distort/ ignore/ deny any facts that are counterproductive as to sustain in their fantasy that a better world is coming soon or at least it is not as bad as they thought it were, thus food for the social identity to vigorously grow.
PETER: By your logic, if one believes that a worse world is coming soon, or at least believes it is not as good as one thought it was, then this will wither the social identity.
RESPONDENT: Authors the like Mr. Lomborg are suspected of making profit of the gullible believing wishful thinking crowd.
PETER: And yet the impassioned Environmentalists not only make a living out of the crowd, they are also self-proclaimed Saviours of the Planet.
RESPONDENT: His followers are likely, rather then investigating the facts for themselves, to hold their faith in ‘would be experts’ the like i.e. the pseudo-spiritual crap of ‘ Mr. Redfields (the celestial promise)’
PETER: Which only begs the questions as to who the followers of Schneider and co. hold their faith in?
Whenever I found having faith in what others said, or found myself being cynical about what others said, I took the time and made the effort to investigate the facts for myself. I fail to see how you expect to become happy and harmless in the world as-it-is unless you are willing to make the effort to become free of the beliefs that would have you believe that the world as-it-is is a grim and awful place.
RESPONDENT: Mr. Lomborg claims that
I wonder what kind of reasoning is applied here, could it perhaps be just wishful thinking.
PETER: I take it from your comment that you haven’t read Lomborg’s book. If this is so, it is no wonder you are reduced to wondering.
Me thinks more or less is rather a dubious expression in this context.
PETER: And yet Lomborg provides substantive evidence in support of his statements.
RESPONDENT: Well I surely welcome a global improvement of the climate maybe we have palm trees growing on the North Pole say in 10 years.
PETER: And yet there is no mutual agreement amongst climate modellers thus far as to the extent or the nature or the location of the effects of the projected future global warming.
Although you made no comment here, Lomborg provides a good deal of evidence to support his statement.
So only 1% over 10 years what would I worry about it.
PETER: I take it you are directly quoting from Schneider’s criticism again.
I don’t know what things you worry about, but I wanted to investigate the things I worried about because worrying stopped me feeling good about being here. If I asked myself how am I experiencing this moment of being alive and found myself worrying about some doom and gloom report, I became curious enough to investigate the issue – to take the time and make the effort to find out for myself, rather than go on believing others. This was the only reason I mentioned Lomborg’s book on the list –as an aid for people to make up their own minds, if they wanted to, as to what is fact and what is myth about environmental issues.
PETER: Again I take it that this is a direct quote from Schneider. By posting it are you saying that what he is saying is fact or do you simply believe what he is saying is true?
The next time you ask yourself ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ and you come up with the answer ‘I’m worried about ...’ or ‘I’m feeling sad because ...’ or ‘I’m annoyed that ...’ you might just be curious as to whether you are worrying or getting upset about a belief and not something that is a fact. Or, to use your term, whether you are simply a paid up member of the ‘gullible believing ... crowd’.
When I came across actualism, I was challenged to investigate my beliefs because I understood that my beliefs formed an integral part of my social identity. I had good hands-on evidence of this direct link because I had experienced how much my spiritual beliefs had formed an integral part of my spiritual self-righteous identity. I also saw that beliefs are the bane of humanity – beliefs cause so much confusion, so much conflict, so much passion and have such a hold over human beings that they are even ready and willing to kill other human beings to defend them.
I deliberately set about on a course of investigating my beliefs by becoming very interested in the beliefs that humanity hold dear. I read, watched TV and observed the human condition and myself very attentively with the very specific purpose of investigating beliefs and ascertaining facts. I put everything on the table and I do mean everything. Because this was the first time in my life I had undertaken such an investigation of the beliefs that form and sustain the human condition, I was able to be very naïve about my investigation into my own beliefs and this naiveté stood me in very good stead. I went literally back to school, not as a gullible child but as a life-experienced, very curious, fascinated-with-life grown-up.
However, questioning and investigating beliefs is entirely your business because your beliefs are precious to you and you are the one who has an investment in either keeping them or eliminating them.
RESPONDENT: Well I can only change myself nevertheless it’s an interesting question: How will I be experiencing this moment of being alive 10 years from now?
PETER: Unless you are willing to question your beliefs – and your need to remain a believer – you will no doubt be worrying about the same things that everyone else will be worrying about 10 years from now. Which means you will not have changed at all.
PETER: As a postscript, I came across an interesting article the other day that is relevant to this topic. It’s from Newsweek magazine –
While all this has a very familiar ring to it, it is actually an excerpt from an article in a 1975 edition of Newsweek entitled ‘The Cooling World’.
As I said, it is imperative to be naive about your investigations into your own beliefs, sort of like going back to school – not as a gullible child but as a life-experienced, very curious, fascinated-with-life grown-up.
PETER: Have you ever contemplated upon the fact that this list is the only place on the planet where people are having a conversation about how to become actually harmless and happy? It is quite extraordinary when you pause to think about it. I appreciate your enthusiasm for the topic.
RESPONDENT: I have contemplated your words as to the uniqueness of this list and the environmental issues global warming and species extinction a bit.
As to my posting of the Lomborg-vs-Schneider topic:
I’m the first one to admit that this issue can be easily applied to ‘transcribe’ the good old ‘bad’ expectations ie. that humanity is ‘doomed’ in anyway, thus environmentalism can be easy become or perhaps has already started to become some sort of new religious believing, where the ‘experts’ can become the high-priest ‘cast’ and twig their followers to support their way of seeing as to what kind of actions should be taken with regard in participation on Saving this Planet, thus ‘Saving the Planet’ may be well lead to a redefinition of the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ guys: those who are actively participating in saving likely will call themselves the ‘correct’ interpreters of ‘facts’ that are presented. Of course then there also will be the ones who are ‘incorrect’
Only genuine ‘experts’ will be able to act on the facts in such a way that the workout can be called beneficial, iow. that’s where actualism comes in – an environmental team will at least need to be able to acknowledge the sensibility of the ‘HAIETMOBA’ sequence and willingness to test the vitality of it. I can’t say whether that will require subscription to the AF list. Currently I lack the expertise to arbiter in the ‘Lomborg-vs-Schneider case’. As I see it this discussion among scholars I’ll leave up to them.
PETER: And yet you didn’t hesitate to write to the list taking sides in the Lomborg vs. Schneider case. This is what you said about Lomborg and his book –
That’s a reasonable clear and unequivocal statement as to your position and yet in this post you now seem to see some merit in taking a contrary position, even to the point of paraphrasing what I wrote. And then you propose to wait for some imaginary genuine ‘actualist environmental team’ who then would presumably tell you what is appropriate for an ‘actualist’ to think and feel about the matter. So much for doing the work of finding out for yourself what is mere belief and what is substantive fact.
RESPONDENT: I am rather confident though yet not overly optimistic that there are people in, so to say, the environmentalist field who may be able to defeat the so called ‘bad’ prognosis for this planet but there is a big ‘if’ as far as I can see this if is not to be underestimated yet also not overestimated.
PETER: Having just said you will leave it to the genuine ‘experts’, you then come back with your affective opinions on the subject, i.e. feeling confident and optimistic rather than insecure and pessimistic.
It was exactly because I found myself swaying back and forth between these feelings whenever I listened to the environmental debate that I took the time and made the effort to find out for myself. Or to put it another way, I discovered it is impossible to be happy and harmless in the world as-it-is if I continuously waxed and waned between feeling good about the world as-it-is and feeling depressed about the world as-it-is.
RESPONDENT: Living in a country like Holland it is very obvious to me that what is interpreted, as a Democratic Voice globally is considerable different. Holland is a rather relatively peaceful country and it would be dishonest to say that so far ‘my’ country has not served me well and still does. Though I know that even among the Dutch Government there is some disagreement as to what level Holland is to support the US policies. [Btw, Government was the solution for the quiz (guess the snip) There where no correct answers offered] As Holland is part of Europe, its influence is limited. Very interestingly I noticed a change in awareness as European currency is almost entirely upon agreed with the Introduction of the ‘Euro’ that’s the standard European currency. end intro]
PETER: As you seem to be sliding off the topic somewhat here, I will take the opportunity to say something on the matter of ‘experts’ – something that is relevant to the whole issue of investigating beliefs and making the effort to determine the facts for yourself.
I had a formal education in the field of architecture, a job that supposedly straddles art and science. As such, I was taught various principles, beliefs and information in both science and art, all based on various expertise garnered over generations of writings and teachings. It was only after many years of practice that I came to understand that the hallowed principles I was taught were no more than a hotch-potch of fashionable beliefs and personal convictions, that the impassioned beliefs were idealistic, impractical and unworkable and that sensible action was very often either ignored in practice because matters of principle or personal belief were always given far more credence.
I also began to gather some first hand knowledge of the so-called experts in the field by reading, observation and direct evaluation of some of their work. I came to understand that those who garnered the most fame and trumpeted the most wisdom were not those who were expert in their fields, i.e. who were best at what they were doing. Many of the famous architects repeatedly built buildings with serious design and construction faults. Many were scornful of clients and peers who dared to point to the contradictions between their self-proclaimed genius and the flaws in the results of their genius when put into practice. Because of this life experience I developed a scepticism about automatically believing in experts – scepticism as in ‘doubt as to the truth of some assertion or apparent fact’ as opposed to cynicism as in ‘ostentatious contempt’ (Oxford Dictionary).
Another observation about experts is that they usually have gained name and fame in one particular field of endeavour only and this limited focus very often results in what can best be described as a fervent myopia. The acclaim and inflated sense of self-worth that their expertise brings is often accompanied by games of bluff and bluster amongst experts themselves as well as a supercilious attitude should their expertise be questioned, especially by mere lay people. The myths surrounding expertise are not only apparent in the real-world but are also glaringly evident in the spiritual world. When I started to become aware of the shortcomings and foibles of experts, I began to see that a layperson could very often make better sense of something than a so-called expert who had a passionate personal investment in the issue.
In a similar vein, by my own experience in my own work, I came to understand that the hands-on pragmatist almost always knew far more about the workings of something than an ivory tower teacher. As an example of this, I once watched a reporter interviewing a scientist who was doing field tests of pollution levels around cotton fields. He was asked by the interviewer what he had found and he said that it was important to realize that the levels he was measuring were in the order of 1 part suspected-pollutant per 1,000,000 parts of soil and that at these microscopic levels it was nigh on impossible to distinguish between naturally occurring conditions or cotton farming influenced conditions. Now while this incident can be dismissed as anecdotal, it served to make me sceptical about the strident claims of environmentalists, wary about the gap between theoretical science and empirical science and more alert to the media’s role in spreading doom and gloom.
RESPONDENT: As to [To me it looks like pseudo science] After having done some investigation as to the quality of the issued book, I find myself not capable of evaluating the validity of it as a genuine work of sound scientific exploration as I lack the ‘expertise’ that is required to compare it to other articles/books that provide data that are presented as factual evidence as to prove what state the planet is in from an environmentalist viewpoint. Furthermore I find it not correct to call the ‘sceptical environmentalist’ a pseudo scientific work as it has been published by Cambridge university thus: I withdraw my opinion which was in many ways biased:
PETER: One of the main thrusts of Lomborg’s book is that there are no two sets of data, one good and one bad, but rather that there is only one set of global data available – that which has been gathered by the relevant national and international organizations. It’s not a question of which of the conflicting data to believe, it’s a question of making a sensible interpretation of the data available and Lomborg makes a compelling case that the Environmentalists are either misinterpreting or ignoring this data for their own agenda.
You don’t need to be an expert in any of the environmental sciences to be able to follow Lomborg’s presentation of data, you only need to be interested in what the state of the planet is and be willing to put aside your own beliefs in order to be able to assess what makes sense and what doesn’t.
And again, just to make the point that I am not taking sides in this matter. My sole interest in investigating the doom and gloom environmentalist stance was to find out how much was belief and misinformation and how much was fact. I know it is fashionable nowadays to make a virtue out of ‘not knowing’ but when I became an actualist I made it my business to find out for myself rather than go on believing or disbelieving what others said.
RESPONDENT: As in the context of the evaluation of the value of the mentioned book, this opinion is neither contributing to a sensible discussion, nor does it do justice to the undoubtedly hard work Mr Lomborg has done. It is indeed refreshing to hear a voice that is although not sounding overly optimistic yet indeed less pessimistic then what often the media are trying to present as the ‘truth’ about the condition the planet is in.
PETER: Your further investigations into the matter don’t seem to have got you any further than where you were before. I’ll just remind you what you said in your last post –
Thus my reply to this latest comment is exactly the same as it was before–
Having just said you will leave it to the genuine ‘experts’, you then come back with your affective opinions on the subject, i.e. feeling confident and optimistic rather than insecure and pessimistic.
It was exactly because I found myself swaying back and forth between these feelings whenever I listened to the environmental debate that I took the time and made the effort to find out for myself. Or to put it another way, I discovered it is impossible to be happy and harmless in the world as-it-is if I continuously waxed and waned between feeling good about the world as-it-is and feeling depressed about the world as-it-is.
Swings of mood from optimism to pessimism are typical within the human condition. All human beings spend their lives in a self-centred passionate struggle for survival, a senseless struggle that is rooted in fear, feelings of despair and pessimism, relieved only by shows of bravado and feelings of hope and optimism. This seesawing of moods and emotions is what people fondly call living a rich life or, when things are going badly, learning a lot from suffering.
RESPONDENT: As Mr. Lomborg puts it: [There is some overall improvement, nevertheless it is not yet ‘good enough’]. Also he mentions that the ‘outcome’ of his predictions have a fair dependency on political decisions as to priorities that need to be agreed upon globally.
PETER: Having the advantage of having read the whole of Lomborg’s book, I cannot recall that he ever makes any predictions of his own in the book. Making such predictions is not his business because he is not an expert in any of the environmental sciences, nor does he claim to be. As a statistician, he has researched the source material of the empirical information that is available as to the current state of the planet and compiled it so as to expose the gulf between fashionable myths and the facts of the matter.
RESPONDENT: In many examples, issued in the chapter I have read there is a presentation of percentages as facts. This is for a layman like myself hardly a source for optimism as I know from my own experience that on a political level a deviation of a few percents can bring about massive disagreement among groups with vested interest in a certain matter and hence stalling or even completely impeding a process whereas there is an urge to make a decision to act on a matter.
PETER: It is clear that Lomborg aims at presenting the trends that are evident in the empirical global-wide data available as to the state of the world – and specifically he is interested in whether the trends of the data shows that the world is getting worse, as the Environmentalists claim. While he may sometimes use percentages to show trends in the data relating to global pollution, population, resources, climate, wealth, health, safety, wellbeing and such like, to confuse this with percentages of public political opinion is to slide off the topic. This discussion is about facts, not about political opinions or leanings – otherwise it would only lead to ‘massive disagreement among groups with vested interest in a certain matter and hence stalling or even completely impeding a process whereas there is an urge to make a decision to act on a matter’.
To get back on track, if you believe the world is a rotten place and only getting worse, despite the empirical evidence to the contrary, this belief will only make you feel sad and from these feelings of sadness inevitably comes feelings of anger. If you choose to hold on to the belief in spite of the facts, you are also choosing to hold on to the sadness and anger that comes with the belief.
RESPONDENT: As already mentioned that I lack the expertise to verify the presented facts I give him the benefit of the doubt in this matter and I choose to be optimistic yet not overly.
PETER: Choosing to feel optimistic does nothing to eliminate the underlying feeling of pessimism. This is like choosing to feel hopeful because you really feel despairing. This is how normal people function and how humanity functions – forever lurching between optimism and pessimism, hope and despair, fantasy and reality, feeling good and feeling bad, feeling sad and feeling angry.
If you are content to live your life this way, then that is your choice but living trapped in this nightmare was not good enough for me – I desperately wanted out because, despite the occasional good times, I knew I was trapped in a nightmare. I went for living in the fantasy of a spiritual world for a while but this was like jumping out of the frying pan into the fire, from one form of hypocrisy to another, from one form of power battle to another.
And then I discovered actualism. (...)
PETER: The only reason I found issues such as this important was when I found myself stirred to anger or overcome by gloom by what the so-called experts were saying. Then it became obvious that I needed to dig into the matter a bit, not to become an expert per se but to make sense of the issue – to sort out belief from fact, myth from reality, learning from experience and passion from sensibility. The reason I posted the recommendation is that the book is an excellent primer for anyone who finds themselves wasting this moment of being alive by being angry or sad about what the environmentalists are saying ... and wants to become free of these feelings.
RESPONDENT: Yep indeed. Global warming and species extinction are simply facts we all have to live with, yet it is not sensible to put oneself at the mercy of specialists or media opinions as to how one is to feel while living with these facts ... worrying is just wasting this moment of being alive.
PETER: I am left wondering whether you bother to read and think about anything I write. Not that it matters of course
Settling for believing what everyone else believes and settling for accepting that the world is a grim place and only getting grimmer can only leave you disassociated and disconnected from the world-as-it-is and people as-they-are – or to use your words, back in La-La land. If you worry about global warming and species extinction, then trying not to worry about them is only trying – trying to cope with a grim reality that is founded on nothing more than beliefs.
My suggestion is to investigate why you are worrying in the first place – are you wasting your time worrying about or trying not to worry about a belief. This is the way you dismantle your ‘self’ – by investigating and becoming aware of what makes you tick, by discovering why you get angry, pissed off, annoyed, anxious, worried, melancholic, sad, lonely, depressed, resentful and so on.
RESPONDENT: Prelude: snipped from: (Peter’s Journal, Time, http://www.actualfreedom.com.au/actualism/journal/time.htm)
I was very pleased to receive sort of an ‘after ponderer’ as to my proposal to have a closer look at the global situation (as I understand you made an attempt with the ‘Lomborg case’ and somehow used that in the dialogue on this list to see if it is possible to raise the bar of perfection and remove all spiritual elements ie. wishful thinking and replace that with down to earth common sense and clear rational thinking. end prelude}
PETER: My attempts to have a discussion about animism – the most universally accepted of all religions – did seem to meet with a lack of enthusiasm on the list. The reason I investigated the topic was because I found that what Environmentalists were saying sometimes evoked feelings of gloom, guilt, animosity and resentment and I wanted to know why. Having found out why, I was able to tick another item off the list of excuses I had for not feeling felicitous about being here and not being harmless to all of my fellow human beings.
RESPONDENT: The Dalai Lama comes to mind in this context as the top of the nowadays Spiritual Hierarchy. Although not having met him personally, I know that his spiritual authority is acknowledged by all lamas as such, which brings to mind a memory of a meeting in Amsterdam where I listened to a lama of which I don’t recall the name. He explained the meaning of the expression FULL is empty and empty is full, yet after a certain point one comes to realizes that full is full and empty is empty. Once that has been done one has understood/attained enlightenment. Indeed I experienced enlightenment for a few days. Also he mentioned that Buddha was long ago and if Buddha could do it then, it must be a piece of cake for us nowadays to reach that point in fact we should go much further and manage it to do it quicker. This I found rather encouraging and challenging so from that I conclude that even among genuine spiritual leaders there maybe a sense that the teachings are subject to doubt to produce the desired result. Nevertheless, if one seeks enlightenment one might try to come in touch with the Dalai Lama as this spiritual source has not been corrupted unlike the present Neo or new age movement where all kinds of so called spiritual mumbo jumbo is being displayed, advertised or sold.
PETER: If you are saying the older the belief the better you are treading on very thin ice.
Tibetan Buddhism is steeped in primitivism, animism, evil, ignorance and fear. The Dalai Lama was both God and King to the Tibetan people and he lorded it over a superstition-ridden populace who mostly lived in abject poverty whilst the lamas lived a life of consummate luxury. All of the wealth of the country was drained into the coffers of the monasteries, so much so that the bodies of the dead head lamas were coated in gold.
The Lama-rama not only sucked the country dry, they left it utterly defenceless. When push came to shove, the God-King and his entourage took the money and fled, leaving his people to suffer their own fate. Tibetan Buddhism is arguably the most despotic of all the religions and the Dalai Lama is arguably the most hypocritical of the God-Kings.
Now if you are feeling offended by what I write, you may well ask would you have been offended if I had said the same thing about the Church of Rome and the Holy Father, the Pope. If not, then you may consider that passionately holding such a selective and subjective viewpoint is what fuels all of the religious wars that have ever been and are still being fought on this fair planet. The only sensible way to cease being culpable is to cease being prejudiced and the only way to do this is to stop believing in a God, in whatever form and by whatever name.
PAUL LOWE: Chapter One In the Beginning Are the Words
‘One of the powerful aspects of language is its capacity to take familiar concepts and amplify them to encompass new dimensions. In his talks, Paul uses a number of words and expressions that may seem familiar, yet they convey fresh and unique ideas. In order to avoid misinterpretations it seemed wise to identify these phrases as early as possible and include the reader in a common understanding of their meaning.’ (Introduction from the editor) Paul Lowe, In Each Moment – A New Way to Live
PETER: The last thirty years, in particular, have seen countless attempts to re-interpret, re-invent and re-vitalize the ancient traditional superstitions and beliefs in Gods, Spirits and Life-after-death in a ‘fresh and unique’ way. These attempts have included the modern interpretation of the celestial spirits as aliens involved in great cosmic visions; the revision of earthly spirits, animism and spiritualism as the belief in Mother Earth, Gaia or the fervent religion of environmentalism; the resurgence of Divination; the popular practice of meditation as a ‘turning away’ from the world and going ‘in’, to name a few.
The old and ancient, the tried and failed, when re-interpreted in a ‘fresh and unique’ way ends up either banal and hackneyed (Oprah Win-fried) or bizarre and deadly (Heavens Gate, etc.) Whichever way the spiritual teachers, God-men and shamans twist and turn, duck and weave, however much they ‘take familiar concepts and amplify them to encompass new dimensions’ it’s still that ♫ ‘old time religion’ ♫ by yet another name.
Does all this spicing up, reinventing and reinterpreting not beg the question why it is necessary to continuously do so? If the old and ancient message is so good, so True and so Right why hasn’t the message of love and peace bought universal love and peace to Humanity? Could it not be that the message is wrong?
RESPONDENT: Just in my area, the West Island of Montreal, I can count hundreds of mini-organizations (tens of thousands of people) involved in fighting poverty, pollution, war, etc. It won’t be long that the material world will collapse and a new kind of thinking will replace it.
PETER: I would put it to you that if you believe and pray that the material world will collapse – an apocalyptic scenario – then you believe and wish that billions of human beings will undergo immense suffering, pain, injury, death and hardship in the resulting chaos. This is old religious fear-ridden doomsday thinking, designed to put the fear of God in ancient people. This is old superstitious belief, not ‘a new way of thinking’. A genuinely ‘new way of thinking’ will only eventuate as individual human beings ‘get down and get dirty’ and get on with the job of firstly freeing themselves from ancient belief and superstition and then freeing themselves from the crippling effect that the emotions that arise from the instinctual passions have on their own thinking and actions.
The other relevant point is that in my years of being involved in ‘fighting’ for an end to war, for the environment, for my spiritual beliefs, I came to see that I was, in fact, fighting someone else. Any protests were angry protests either covertly felt or overtly expressed. It was always ‘someone else’s fault’, someone else who was ‘bad’, someone else who was ‘wrong’, someone else who was angry, someone else who was not aware or conscious enough. Realizing this fact was essential in understanding that the only one I can change is me and, if I’m sincere in my interest in peace on earth, then I had better get on with proving it is possible.
RESPONDENT: But you are right that ‘spirituality’ is not the be-all-and-end-all, it is one facet of change.
PETER: No, I didn’t say that at all. My point is that ‘spirituality’ – the ancient belief in God, Gods, spirits and other worlds – has miserably failed to bring peace on earth. In fact, if you read the ancient texts peace is not even on the spiritual agenda. Spirituality, rooted as it is in ancient belief, is not a facet of change – it is, and has always been, a fear-driven force of resistance to change.
RESPONDENT: Others are laws, globalization, the Internet, Greenpeace, educational and scientific advances – in fact, we are all, even those who seem to be going in the opposite direction, part of this great drama which will end in World Peace. Please, let’s pray for it to come soon!!
PETER: Okay. ‘Laws’ are maintained by armed police, lawyers, courts, fines, goals, and they do manage to keep the lid on overt violence in many countries. But I fail to see how the threat and imposition of punishment can bring about a genuine freedom, peace and happiness. A little reading of what happens to the rule of law, morals and ethics in times of threat or war will point to what a fragile system we live under. ‘Civilization’ is indeed a thin veneer.
‘The Internet’, on the other hand, is proving to be a remarkable network whereby we humans can share our experiences and knowledge as to what works and what doesn’t work in order that we do not unnecessarily repeat the mistakes of the past. It can be a remarkable facilitator of change. This mailing list that dares to question ‘What is Enlightenment?’ is an example of a free, open and world-wide exploration that would have been impossible only a few short years ago.
‘Globalization’ – the increasing world-wide trade of goods, information, knowledge and resources, the standardization of laws, language and culture and the phenomenal speed of global communication, all act to break down the tribal differences that have plagued human existence. But all does not bode well for economic pragmatism, for there is an emotional backlash as people fearfully seek their roots in the past and return to old tribal cultures and superstitions. The bold post WW2 idea of a united Europe seems to be now fading as even smaller regions within countries seek ‘autonomy’. I also find it kind of cute that many of the people who claim to feel that ‘we are all one’ or ‘the earth is all one living organism’ are often the ones who rile against the practical manifestation of one species of humans on the planet – fellow humans beings who happen to live somewhere on the globe.
‘Greenpeace’ is an organization that proudly fights for the environment, confronting others who they see as wrong or doing evil. Environmentalism has now gained the trappings and status of a full-blown pantheist religion, whereby the planet is seen as a living entity, populated by earth spirits and energies and we humans are made guilty, once again, for being here. Environmentalists continually present doomsday prophecies as scare tactics, they eagerly accept and promote any theory that supports their passionate belief, continually rile against non-believers and actively resist any progress or change – all signs of religious fervour in action.
As for ‘educational’ changes, I see the Internet as the best thing to happen in the free exchange of information since the invention of the printing press.
As for ‘scientific advances’, I concur, with the proviso that one ignores the fanciful theories and imaginary postulations of theoretical mystical science that is currently fashionably influenced by Eastern philosophy and religion – theoretical cosmology and theoretical physics are particularly suss. Empirical science, largely practiced by engineers and chemists investigating, manipulating and constructing wonderful things from the elements of this planet, is indeed bringing to human beings unprecedented levels of safety, comfort, leisure and pleasure. In fact, it is empirical science that is now providing the evidence as to the source of human malice and sorrow – the genetically inherited animal instinctual passion.
And now that we have empirical scientific evidence of what causes we humans to be malicious and sorrowful, it’s simply a matter of acknowledging the facts, abandoning all the failed old spiritual theories and solutions and real-world theories and solutions, and – for those intrepid adventuresome pioneers – setting about the process of deleting this redundant instinctual programming.
Peter’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.