Selected Correspondence Peter
ALAN: I have already speculated a bit in my mail to Vineeto – here is a bit more. We have been engaged, over the last months, in examining and eliminating the beliefs and conditioning labelled as the ‘human constitution’, by asking ‘how am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ As a result of the elimination of this human constitution I no longer (or only very, very occasionally) experience any feelings whatsoever. The necessary disconnections and reconnections in neural patterns have been made in the neo-cortex and the software program has been un-installed. Now we are tackling the more difficult job of erasing the hard disc (and the recycle bin) – of severing the link with the amygdala – the basic instincts, the primal self. I suspect that all one can do is allow that ‘link’ to wither away through disuse and, when sufficient brain cells have died (or neural pathways been disconnected), then this primal self will finally expire.
PETER: My favourite description of the process that happens to the old pathways that have been forged since birth, and reinforced constantly since then, is that when new paths are forged with common sense – sometimes painstakingly – the old ones simply atrophy. This is easily attested by the observation – ‘Did I really believe in that once upon a time?’ One can initially feel a fool but it gets really delicious when one cannot remember ‘who’ it was who believed such a nonsense and why. One starts to realize that one is becoming free to such an extent that one is fresh again every moment and that the very act of believing is disappearing. With belief goes imagination, and only that which is actual becomes apparent and obvious.
PETER to Alan: 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: Hi all,
I was doing a bit of editing in the Glossary the other day and came across some definitions that I thought was particularly pertinent to the discussions on the list. Most of the people I have talked to about Actual Freedom seem to have no idea what constitutes a belief and what constitutes a fact. Often I would enter into a conversation and find that the person had absolutely no idea of the difference between a belief and a fact. They would insist that something was true, the Truth, ‘my’ truth, they ‘felt’ it to be so, it was their understanding, they heard it was so, etc. and that was good enough for them. When I pointed out that other people of different cultures, spiritual or religious leanings, political or social views held differing views and these differences were the source of confusion, confrontation, conflict, persecution and warfare, I was met with bewilderment. Nobody was willing to admit that their own particular cherished views and understandings were beliefs. It is always the same – I’m right and the others are wrong, my God or Guru is the only God or Guru and everyone else has beliefs – not me!
According to the Red Cross over 1 billion people have been directly affected by war or armed conflicts in the last 20 years. ‘Affected by’ includes death, being maimed, tortured, raped, imprisoned, displaced, losing family members, possessions, homes, etc. The vast majority of these wars and armed conflicts are fought over religious, spiritual, tribal, ethical, moral and political beliefs – dearly held and dearly fought over beliefs!
Those people who have been, or continue to be, on the spiritual path are those least likely to actively challenge their beliefs for they have been indoctrinated and taught to value belief over fact and they further hobble themselves with faith, trust, hope and loyalty as well. A potent, and very often, lethal mix.
RESPONDENT: A quick note on an experience I had the other night... I was experiencing some anxiousness about the ‘meaning of life’ and noticed that much of my thoughts revolve around searching for an enduring value or figuring out whether my life has had enough enjoyment – wondering how I would evaluate my life if I were lying on my death bed... when I realized how silly the whole thing was ... why would I spend my final moments reminiscing about the past – which is not even present anyway?
PETER: I am always somewhat surprised that so few people seem to stop to spend the time to do a bit of stocktaking and re-evaluating as to what they have done and where they are headed. Many of my generation had both the opportunity and time to think about the ‘meaning of life’ and many indeed did begin searching for something better than grim reality and something less shonky and self-indulgent than Olde Time Religion.
Unfortunately, most followed fashion and found Eastern religion and that sucked the very life out of them. By becoming believers in Truth, they have become as morally-superior and as intellectually-disingenuous as the countless generations before them who surrendered their will to a mythical God in exchange for a front row seat in an imaginary afterlife. And I can only say this because I too went down that path for a good many years.
And the only reason I stopped being a follower and a believer was that I took the time to do some stocktaking and re-evaluating of my life – and I didn’t like what I saw, so I determined to change. Better to make such evaluations now – even if it involves contemplating lying on your deathbed – and make the necessary changes now rather than end up dying in sad regret of never having fully lived.
RESPONDENT: It was strange to recognize that I often spend my time looking for some narrative that ties ‘my’ life together into some meaningful narrative, and I realized that this sort of enterprise is one of the hopeless things that ‘I’ do, since the ‘meaning’ of my life depends upon some interpretation of the events of my life.
PETER: Who else but you is going to interpret the events of your life and who else but you is going to determine what meaning it should have? There is no one better qualified, or more vitally interested, than you to decide what to do with your life.
RESPONDENT: Maybe a little clarification can help here. I’m certainly not saying that one could do the actualism method ‘effortlessly’ or that it doesn’t take effort. More specifically, my observation is about seeing how the emotional effort of belief, hope, trust, etc creates a division where ‘I’ identify with the ‘good’ and try to ignore the ‘bad.’ This kind of mental effort is normally an indication that ‘I’ am hanging on to a wish, dream, hope, or self-image.
PETER: Whereas it is my experience, and the experience of all of the practicing actualists on this list, that it takes stubborn effort – and a certain amount of intestinal fortitude – firstly to become aware of, and secondly to abandon all of the beliefs, hopes, dreams, wishes, morals and ethics that make up ‘me’. This programming does not take effort to sustain, it is ‘self ‘-sustaining by its very nature. This programming is ‘who’ I think and feel I am and as such it obviously it takes effort to remove.
RESPONDENT: You are correct that it doesn’t take effort to sustain – it operates all by itself just fine. Nevertheless, if I try to form a new belief or hope though – I notice it takes effort – first to push away my doubt and to accept the new belief – so that there is a mental straining involved – which creates painful sensations in the body – whether it be tension in the neck, shoulders, and head – or tightness in the stomach or whatever. I don’t know how to resolve the apparent contradiction here – I’m just saying this is how I experience it.
PETER: Yeah. Once I started to divest myself of my old beliefs I was astounded at how gullible I had been. Once I understood this, it made no sense whatsoever to accept any new beliefs at all. This is when I started to become fascinated with the business of abandoning belief and relying only on fact.
And each time I dared to question one of my cherished beliefs, I experienced all sorts of fears and anxieties – including the bodily sensations that accompany them.
RESPONDENT: The best I can say is there is an active and a passive side to it – both – and it appears that you are talking about the passive side and I’m now referring to the active side.
PETER: No. In the context of the actualism method, I am talking about the active side.
It’s easy to stay a believer – to remain as you are is to be passive. To assimilate a new set of beliefs is to be passive.
To change requires you to be active, i.e. it effort and action. To abandon belief and rely only on fact requires you to be active.
RESPONDENT: This can be seen by thinking about the difference between dreaming at night (normally passive) and visual imagination or fantasizing (which is often active). Another way to put it is that there is both the involuntary process of believing, hoping, trusting, etc – and the voluntary – and ‘mental effort’ I am referring to is only the voluntary aspect. This is not to deny what you are saying though, since the program runs automatically (involuntarily).
PETER: Maybe we could agree that it takes a voluntary effort to overcome an involuntary inertia.
RESPONDENT: The tendency of believing, hoping, trusting etc does operate automatically so it takes effort to undo that automatic tendency. Now this automatic tendency doesn’t take effort to maintain, but when a particular belief comes up for review – it’s corresponding doubt is also present so that one must again push away the negative (doubt) and identify with the positive (belief). So it’s much like one is pushing in two different directions at the same time – which I normally experience as suffering of some sort.
PETER: Personally I find nothing positive at all about any belief, be they old beliefs or new beliefs.
Beliefs have been the bane of humanity since time immemorial. If you see actualism as being a new belief then you seem to be missing the whole point of what is on offer in actualism. The very thing that attracted me to actualism is that the process made sense – actualism is rooted in fact. The very process involves abandoning the uncertainties of belief, trust, faith and hope in favour of relying on the certainty and surety of matters of fact, common sense and down-to-earth sensate awareness.
PETER: This programming doesn’t create a division – such that when it is removed I feel union – this programming is the very substance of ‘me’. Only when this programming is incrementally removed does one realize the penalty one paid for being a believer – provided one is sincere in one’s efforts what results is an incremental and tangible down-to-earth freedom, not a feeling of union.
RESPONDENT: The division I’m talking about is not between ‘me’ and the external world of things and people such that ‘when it is removed I feel union’. That would indeed be a remnant of spiritual belief. The division I’m referring to is between belief and doubt, compassion and hate, morally good and bad – where ‘I’ try to create a good image of myself. The penalty one paid for being a believer is the constant effort and stress and strain for having to maintain that belief against oneself and others. Again, I’m not talking about feeling a union – I’m talking about recognizing how the self struggles to maintain the good – in the face of denying the bad. The ‘effort’ I’m referring to is the stress and struggle required to maintain a particular belief, trust, hope, etc.
I don’t see how you can deny that stress and struggle – whose recognition is fundamental to actualism – rather I think you must be interpreting what I’ve said about ‘effort’ as implying that the ‘self’ doesn’t run its program automatically – though I am also enjoying these days a good refutation. If I’m wrong in this somehow beyond my ability to comprehend – then I would like to know.
PETER: As for interpreting and implying, I only go by what you have written and, given that we are talking about the actualism method in practice, I always relate what you are saying to my own experience as a practicing actualist. What I read you are saying is –
Taking your words at face value I can relate to what you are saying. When I first became interested in actualism, I began to become aware of, and actively questioned, ‘who’ I thought and felt I was. As I did so ‘I’ started to feel the stresses and strains involved in being ‘me’ and, more importantly, the stresses and strains that being ‘me’ invariably imposed on others – most noticeable those closest to me.
In the course of becoming aware of ‘me’ in action, feelings of fear and anxiety also came up at the thought of changing – of abandoning ‘a particular belief, trust, hope, etc.’ that was dear to me. Whilst I found I didn’t like what I was discovering about ‘me’, the thought of doing something about it was daunting and the feelings that arose were alarming.
It felt as though I was between a rock and a hard place and the dilemma wouldn’t go away, nor could I run away from it – I was damned if ‘I’ didn’t take up the challenge and yet ‘I’ was doomed if I did. I remember immediately after the first decisive act of change – when I let go of my first cherished belief – that the relief was palpable and the feeling of freedom tangible, so much so that it made the abandoning of my next belief somewhat less daunting – and so on down the long line of beliefs.
PETER: I have also heard someone make a similar comment about the lack of historical evidence with regard to the actual existence of a flesh and blood Mr. Buddha and it somewhat jolted me at the time as I found it amazing that two of the major religious faiths in the world could well be founded upon the legendary exploits of completely fictitious characters. That the exploits of these characters are legend and not fact is accepted in some quarters nowadays … but to dare to question that the central characters in theses legends are fictitious creations is heresy writ large.
RESPONDENT: I have had similar experiences to what ‘jolted’ you, but I might add that most scholars today take the existence of Mr. Jesus as historical fact, not merely legend. The Gospels are generally considered to be historical documents as well, though they are also embellished with legend, folklore, and mythology. You may be familiar with the ‘Jesus Seminar?’ Basically, the scholars in that seminar attempted to separate fact from fiction – of course, even their project is open to dispute, but one gets a general idea of the state of the ‘search for the historical Jesus’ by reading what they produced.
Having said that, I do remember the shock – having been raised a Christian – when I discovered that even the very existence of Jesus was subject to dispute. I’ve heard the same about Mr. Buddha repeated in academic corners, but never cared enough to take the time to sort out the evidence – since it didn’t matter one bit to me at the time as to his historical existence.
PETER: Yes. Being able to see the folly of other people’s beliefs is one thing, but daring to question one’s own beliefs is quite another. The world is awash with pundits and sages who seek to lay claim to the moral high ground largely by denigrating the beliefs of others, whilst steadfastly refusing to question their own dearly held beliefs. This futile exercise in grand standing is most definitely not what being an actualist is about – this is hypocrisy, not sincerity.
If one is sincere in wanting to become free of the human condition of malice and sorrow, then this sincerity itself demands that one actively questions one’s own beliefs and then takes whatever action one needs to take in order to become free of one’s own beliefs. To put it bluntly, daring to question one’s own beliefs is but the first stage of becoming free of them.
I’ll just give you a brief run through of what I have just said as it related to my personal experience because what I said is not a philosophy that I hold to … it is a down-to-earth description of how to become free of all of the beliefs that sustain the human condition of malice and sorrow.
My first attraction to Eastern spirituality came about by reading the words of an Indian philosophy teacher turned Guru who had much to say about the folly of monotheistic religions and the emptiness of purely materialistic pursuits. I took what he said to be great Wisdom, a sign that he was an all-knowing sage, and I was so besotted by his aura of all-knowingness that I turned a blind eye to the fact that he tolerated no questioning of his teachings by his followers – the demands of faith and loyalty inherent in spiritual belief put paid to that.
Nevertheless one day, not long after his death, I had a clear-eyed glimpse of the fact that I had allowed myself to be suckered into a religious cult – having dismissed religious belief as being silly in my youth, I had fallen for it – hook, line and sinker – in my mid-thirties. Eventually I found that to continue believing what I had been believing, and doing what I had been doing, was no longer an option that I was comfortable with.
Sincerity demanded that I abandon my beliefs, which in turn meant leaving the spiritual group I had belonged to for some 15 years. I then found that by ridding myself of my own religious and spiritual beliefs I could no longer feign being tolerant of the religious and spiritual beliefs of others. Religious and spiritual belief has wrought so much misery and mayhem that to be tolerant of it is an affront to intelligence and to integrity – be it tolerant of other’s beliefs, and more importantly, tolerant of holding to any such beliefs myself.
What this meant in practice was that after I had given up Eastern spirituality, I then had to abandon the ethics and morals that were part and parcel of my Christian conditioning, the ethics and morality that were part and parcel of the geo-theistic beliefs of Environmentalism, the morals and ethics of Puritan health beliefs, the morals and ethics of Pacifism, and so on. The list of beliefs that sustain human malice and sorrow is a formidable one but if one sincerely wants to become free of malice and sorrow then the time and place to start is now, with whatever belief you find you are holding on to right now.
Being no longer tolerant of religious and spiritual belief does mean that I am sensible in my interactions with others. If the discussion turns to the topic of religious and spiritual belief then I simply point out that I am a thorough going actualist – I do not believe in a creator God or Goddess and nor do I believe that there are Good and Evil spirits anywhere permeating the physical actuality of the universe. I am very well aware that human beings are passionate about their beliefs – for I was once passionate about my beliefs – and because of this I am sensibly cautious in what I talk to others about the nature of beliefs in general. People are wont to take offence if they feel their beliefs are being challenged and history has shown that taking offence can very easily turn to seeking retribution and taking vengeance. Which is why I do like talking about these matters from the anonymity of my suburban lounge room on a mailing list which is specifically set up for this very purpose.
So just to recap, being able to see the folly of other people’s beliefs is one thing, but daring to question one’s own beliefs is quite another. If one is sincere in wanting to become free of the human condition of malice and sorrow, then this sincerity itself demands that one actively questions one’s own beliefs and then to take whatever action one needs to take in order to become free of one’s own beliefs. It is my experience thus far that sincerity and altruism are the motivational forces of the genunie intent to rid oneself of malice and sorrow.
PETER: In hindsight, these investigations I conducted not only confirmed the facticity of what Richard was saying but also confirmed the fallacy of my own beliefs and none more so than my understanding of the universe. Contemplating the physical nature of the universe – as distinct from investigating and contemplating the nature of ‘my’ psyche – can not only triggered memories of past PCEs, but this type of ‘me’-out-of-the-way contemplation when combined with a softly-focussed wonderment of the sensual nature of the universe provide a potentiality that can evoke the onset of a PCE.
RESPONDENT: Speaking of which ... I’ve recently gone through a painful time in my primary relationship, and in the process peeled back a lot more layers of the onion. It has been very educational, and also offered more proof of the efficacy of the AF method. I have little remaining scepticism. It has dawned on me that HAIETMOBA is running most of the time, almost sub-consciously, and I detect and probe ever more subtle emotions and responses of all types. I also realized that the percentage of my day where I feel excellent is continually increasing. Most amazing. Now, however, I think it’s time to put some energy into inducing some real PCEs to reinforce the results to date. I’m using all the techniques I’ve gleaned from the site to that end.
PETER: One of the techniques you may have come across is the questioning of dearly held beliefs.
Everybody has some core beliefs that serve to prop up their identity and these will vary slightly according to gender, culture, age, vocational training, and so on. Anyone who becomes interested in being happy and harmless will, sooner or later, come smack up against one of these beliefs. Sooner or later one of these beliefs will appear, rather like a boulder, on the path to being happy and harmless. And from observation of others who have been interested in actualism, it is clear that unless this belief is abandoned, willingly and deliberately, then that person will remain essentially unchanged by the process of actualism.
Whilst I do acknowledge that abandoning one’s pet beliefs can be daunting – one’s very identity as a (… fill in the blank space) is at stake – the resulting palpable sense of freedom can oft evoke a pure consciousness experience of the perfection and purity of the infinite and eternal universe. This is what happened to me and I know this is what happened to Vineeto. And the curious thing is that during the process of actualism, I knew what I had to do next, I knew what belief stood in the way of my becoming more happy and more harmless – simply because the issue would not go away.
RESPONDENT: Thanks. I’ve gleaned that, and other approaches from the site. Belief and superstition are not primary obstacles to me, ... I don’t believe either that the universe is finite or infinite, or that it is filled with gods or fairies.
PETER: To choose to not believe that the universe is finite or infinite is but to remain an agnostic – a person who is uncertain and non-committal about a particular issue. An agnostic is not someone who is free of belief; an agnostic is someone who remains open to belief, who keeps his or her options open, who has a bet each way.
On the other hand, an actualist is someone who recognizes the necessity of becoming free from being a believer in the much-vaunted wisdom of humanity if one is to become free of the human condition and the way to become free from beliefs is to replace one’s beliefs with obvious and irrefutable facts thereby depriving ‘the believer’ from sustenance.
I do realize that ‘not-knowing’ is highly valued in the spiritual world, but an actualist is vitally interested in life, the universe and what it is to be a human being and as such makes exploring, investigating and ‘finding-out’ his or her prime mission in life.
RESPONDENT: My stuff is more of the socio-cultural conditioning form ... self-judgement et al. Maybe you lump those in the belief category too?
PETER: Yes. Self-judgement, self-condemnation, self-deprivation, self-flagellation and the like are the consequences of the moral teachings arising from religious/spiritual programming that is inflicted upon every child from every culture. Through no fault of our own we are taught to believe that self-imposed moral judgements are essential to keep the lid on our instinctual passions. The belief in morals is essential to cling to within the human condition but an actualist needs to set his or her sights higher – the very process of eliminating of malice and sorrow makes the self-righteous morals and unliveable ethics of the real-world obsolete and redundant.
RESPONDENT: The Holoscience people discount the notion of higher dimensions, but I still maintain we may be constrained by our sensory apparatus to only those detectable inputs. Of course, I could be entirely wrong about that ... maybe we are seeing all that there is. Maybe it is adequate, and complete. I’ll have to mull this over some more and rein in my skeptical bent a tad.
PETER: Human beings have an obsession with ‘the notion of higher dimensions’ – the belief that the world is subject to the influence of good forces and evil forces is prevalent in every tribe and every culture on the planet. This belief is somewhat understandable considering that it emerged in the days when it was universally believed that the world was three layered – a flat earthy plane full of dangerous animals and dangerous humans, a mystifying heavenly realm above and a mysterious underworld below. Eventually it was empirically observed that the earth was not flat but was spherical and subsequent explorations over centuries proved that this was in fact so. Nowadays photos of earth taken from spacecrafts have subsequently convinced all but the wacky that the earth is not flat.
The next belief to be demolished by empirical observation was the notion that the earth was the centre of the solar system – an empirical observation only made possible by the invention of a mechanical enhancement of our ‘sensory apparatus’ – the telescope. As telescopes got bigger and better, the belief that our galaxy was all there was to the universe – a conviction held in Einstein’s time – was replaced by the discovery that there are in fact countless other galaxies in the universe. The subsequent invention of radio telescopes and the like has meant that we are now able to observe and measure spectrums of the electromagnetic energy of the universe that lay outside the range human eyes can detect.
And yet, despite this long history of scientific discoveries about the extraordinary magic that is the physical universe, the eons-old search for some sort of ‘higher dimension’ or metaphysical energy – the famed spirit-energy of mythology – still persists.
The same long trek from belief and superstition to actuality and wonder can be seen in the discoveries about the creation of animate life. The process of animal reproduction was unknown to early humans and all sorts of beliefs and superstitions flourished in ignorance. Now, thousands of years later, the science of observation and investigation – mightily boosted by the invention of the inverted telescope, the microscope – has revealed the facts to be far more wondrous than the puerile myths dependant upon the belief in supernatural spirit forces.
I could go on tripping through other fields of scientific discovery and endeavour, but you probably have got the gist of what I am saying – human beings will never be free from the fear and hope inherent in superstition if they insist on believing in higher dimensions, supernatural forces, metaphysical realms, divine beings, good and evil spirits and so on – or persist in hoping that one day science will provide the empirical evidence that spiritual belief so tellingly lacks.
RESPONDENT: I also need to read some more on the premise about close planetary encounters in recent history ... that does sound a bit wild at first.
PETER: Unless someone discovers some substantive empirical evidence to back up a theory, I am also sceptical of many of the suppositions that are presented along with the theory of a plasma universe or an electric universe. But I see these as add-ons to the central thrust of what is presented – an alternative evidence-based explanation for the thus-far empirically observed matter of the universe as opposed to the fashionable creationist explanations of Einsteinian Cosmology.
PETER: This belief is somewhat understandable considering that it emerged in the days when it was universally believed that the world was three layered – a flat earthy plane full of dangerous animals and dangerous humans, a mystifying heavenly realm above and a mysterious underworld below. Eventually it was empirically observed that the earth was not flat but was spherical and subsequent explorations over centuries proved that this was in fact so. Nowadays photos of earth taken from spacecrafts have subsequently convinced all but the wacky that the earth is not flat.
RESPONDENT: This is my point exactly. We base our understanding of the universe on the facts we have gathered using the scientific method, and the tools we have available presently. A spacecraft is a sophisticated tool that allows us to gather useful information about the physical characteristics of the universe. Historically, the availability of ever more sophisticated tools (telescopes, microscopes, particle accelerators, ...) has resulted in the refutation of previously held beliefs (masquerading as truths of course). So, the tool that someone invents in the 25th century could prove conclusively that the universe is not actually filled with plasma as previously thought, but actually filled with rubber duckies.
PETER: By the same logic, an agnostic would say it is best to keep one’s options open because ‘higher dimensions’ or evidence of creation or other worlds or black holes or singularities or meta-physical forces, or whatever else one chooses to believe in, might well be found to be true after all. This line of reasoning is often used as a last resort by those who can find no evidence to substantiate their belief and fall back on claiming the evidence does exist but it ‘hasn’t been discovered yet’.
RESPONDENT: BTW, I don’t think any of this is incompatible with the perception in a PCE, ‘that the universe is infinite and eternal and hence peerless both in its perfection and purity’.
PETER: I used to think that a lot of beliefs I held didn’t matter or weren’t relevant to actualism, but eventually I discovered the act of holding onto any beliefs only served to keep ‘me’ in existence and therefore kept me hobbled to the human condition of malice and sorrow. In short, if I couldn’t drop a belief I always knew it was something ‘I’ identified with – i.e. that it was part and parcel of ‘me’ as a social or instinctual identity.
PETER: I could go on tripping through other fields of scientific discovery and endeavour, but you probably have got the gist of what I am saying – human beings will never be free from the fear and hope inherent in superstition if they insist on believing in higher dimensions, supernatural forces, metaphysical realms, divine beings, good and evil spirits and so on – or persist in hoping that one day science will provide the empirical evidence that spiritual belief so tellingly lacks.
RESPONDENT: I guess I don’t really like the term ‘higher dimensions’ – maybe a better term is ‘characteristics of the universe that are not perceptible at present with the available human senses and tools’.
PETER: Maybe you would like to refect on what characteristics of the universe have changed since the beginning of human awareness of the universe? Such reflection might lead you to the conclusion that the characteristics of the universe exist independently of human sensory perception, and are unaffected in any way by human sensory perception.
Anthropocentricity runs deep within the human psyche, manifested in each and every human being as ‘self’-centredness. Contrary to popular belief, the universe was not ‘created’ especially for human beings – the human species is manifestly a species of animate life that has evolved from the matter of the universe. So predominant is anthropocentric belief that early humans, out of ignorance, believed the earth to be the centre of our solar system – a geocentric belief – but it has been discovered over time that the earth is but one of a number of planets that orbit the sun, which is but one sun in a galaxy full of suns, which is but one galaxy in an endless cosmos of countless galaxies.
And yet these physical characteristics of the universe have always been so despite the early beliefs and superstitions that the earth was the centre of the world and that this world must have been created by a Someone or Something.
I don’t know wether you came across the modern ‘Fingers of God’ tabulation – if this didn’t send the alarm bells ringing amongst creationist cosmology as to how geocentric, hence anthropocentric, their observations are then nothing will. http://www.electric-cosmos.org/arp.htm
RESPONDENT: Again, I emphasize that none of what I am talking about has anything to do with metaphysics or spiritual belief.
PETER: And yet, despite your disclaimer, you have said previously in this post –
The Big Bang theory is a creationist theory. The Big Bang theory is metaphysical in that it presumes there was a force or energy existing prior to the existence of physical matter and that this non-material force or energy then created the physical matter of the universe. The Big Bang theory is spiritual at root in that ancient spiritual belief was the prior source of all metaphysical science.
And just a note to finish with –
Personally I didn’t try to understand the science of all this too much. Simply contemplating on what would have existed before the universe was supposedly created, what would exist after in supposedly ended and what I would see if I got to the supposed edge of the universe was enough to convince me that the creationist cosmologists were off with the fairies.
PETER: You wrote to No 21 and No 45 making a comment on our recent conversations about the nature of the physical universe.
RESPONDENT: No 21/No 45:
Peter and I had an ongoing dialog on this very subject not too long ago. You will save yourselves a lot of time by searching the site for terms like universe / infinite / theory etc. You will find an unequivocal stand on the nature of the universe which rejects all questioning.
PETER: I took the opportunity of reviewing our dialogue on the subject of the universe and I found no instances that I have an unequivocal stand on the nature of the universe nor that I rejected all questioning.
In fact if you recall, our most recent dialogue on the subject began when I wrote to you pointing to a scientific theory that questioned the current fusion/gravitational model of the physical universe. The very reason I did so was because I like it when theories I took to be fact are brought into question and I particularly liked this new theory because much of what I read made sense to me – albeit that I have what could be called a layman’s knowledge about such matters. I fail to see this as ‘an unequivocal stand on the nature of the universe …’
As for rejecting all questioning, when I re-read our discussions I could not find anywhere where I had rejected your questions – rather I found that I had addressed all of the points you raised and answered all of your questions, very often supplementing my answers with quotes from scientists who do not hold to the creationist model of the physical universe.
For example –
Rather than rejecting all questioning, I actively question the plethora of theories of those scientists who propose that the physical universe was created out of nothing, or evolved out of nothing, is either expanding or contacting and will eventually disappear or somehow cease to exist. I have heard it often said that the empirical evidence that the universe is not infinite and is not eternal will be found someday, but until this happens the creationist theories about the universe remain but theories that should be subject to questioning – and the beliefs in other-than-physical worlds remain but spirit-ual beliefs that should be subject to questioning.
Whilst this may appear to you to be ‘an unequivocal stand’, for me as an actualist, it simply made sense to question all of the cosmologist’s creationist models of the universe as well as all of the spiritualist’s beliefs in a Creator, by whatever name … and to keep doing so until I discovered the facts of the matter. To settle for a state of ‘not knowing’ was simply not good enough.
I have previously made clear the reason that an actualist needs to question these theories and beliefs –
Or to put it another way, it is impossible devote one’s life to becoming happy and harmless in the world as-it-is with people as-they-are – to put all of one’s eggs in one basket – if you cling to any beliefs that the physical world is other-than-it-is – infinite and eternal – or if you cling to any beliefs that human beings are other-than-what-they-are – corporeal and mortal.
RESPONDENT: Is that old Socrates saying ‘know thyself’ still actual for you? Have you attached a ‘next’ to it?
PETER: Within months of becoming interested in actualism it occurred to me that none of humanity’s revered philosophy and venerated spiritual beliefs have any relevance whatsoever to the process of actualism. All philosophy and spiritual belief has its roots in the dim dark fear-ridden past of humanity, from times when human beings had no knowledge at all of the physical processes that create and sustain life in the universe. I remember likening this reverence for the ‘wisdom of the ancient ones’ as digging through the rubbish bin of history in a vain attempt to find some old tried and failed ideal or scheme in order to dust it off, repackage it and give it yet another re-run.
Richard’s discovery makes a total break with the brutal dim dark past of humanity together with its endless re-runs of hackneyed ideals and regurgitated beliefs. It follows that those who aspire to tread the path he has pioneered and aspire to become free of the human condition must also make a complete break from the crippling legacy of the past – to draw a line through it as it were.
As for Socrates, he believed himself to be charged with a mission from his God to make his countrymen aware of their ignorance and of the supreme importance of knowledge of what is good for the soul. When he says ‘know thyself’ the intent of the quest is to find goodness and Godliness – the antithesis of an actualist’s intent to search within the dark corners of his or her psyche in order to expose the full extent of the instinctual being that is ‘me’.
I have never attached a ‘next’ to any of the dimwitticisms of philosophy nor to any of the revered teachings of spiritualism – I simply ruled a line through the lot of it. Then, whenever a belief did pop up, I was able to readily recognize it as yet another of Humanity’s tried and failed beliefs. The work then to be done was to investigate the nature of the belief, find out why the belief failed and didn’t work in practice, to root around until I found the fundamental fallacy in the belief.
As the belief crumbled I continued on with my investigation so as to set about finding out the facts of the matter. By making this effort I didn’t fall into the age-old trap of swapping one belief for another, I replaced belief with fact. In this way I was able to gain the confidence and surety that an understanding of the facts of the matter brings with it, which in turn emboldened me to tackle the next belief that popped up and so on down the line.
The investigation of beliefs is an essential part of the actualism method as it serves to actively demolish one’s social identity – ‘I’ am inevitably scrutinized along with the beliefs ‘I’ hold so dear – and as each belief crumbles so does a piece of my prized social identity.
RESPONDENT: Is knowing oneself a by-product of one’s intent of becoming happy and harmless or a necessary condition?
PETER: For a start I prefer to use the expression exploring one’s psyche rather than Socrates’ ‘knowing oneself’ for the reasons I have outlined above. Secondly, the intent to become happy and harmless is something you either have or don’t have. In other words, if you don’t have it you need to uncover and rediscover it by removing what prevents you having intent in the first place. From my observations and discussions with a good many people over my lifetime, I would say that every human being has an innate desire to live with his or her fellow human beings in peace and harmony – it is simply that this intent is buried beneath a world-weary cynicism or, in the case of those who follow Eastern spiritualism, has been deliberately relinquished for the sake of their own personal pursuit of spiritual glory.
The search for peace on earth – the possibility of human beings actually living together in peace and harmony – has always simmered beneath the surface throughout my life. This urge was a prime motivator in my abandoning the real world and immersing myself in spiritual communes for a good many years. The reality of the dream of living in peace in a commune was failure – as it always is and always has been. The reason for this I discovered only later – to live in utter peace and harmony is impossible for two instinctually driven beings let alone a community of instinctually driven beings. After my long experiment in communal living ended I settled for being a lone goody-two-shoes spiritualist only to discover that one day I lost my spiritual cool and got overtly angry with someone. It was a bit of a shock at the time as it made me realize how much ‘I’ needed to be in control in order for ‘me’ to feel superior to those beneath me in the spiritual hierarchy.
When I came across actualism two things made so much sense to me that I was really forced to sit up and take notice.
The first was the simple statement that the animosity and despair that plague the human species is the result of the instinctual passions that each and every human being has been genetically encoded with – not, as is universally believed, due to insufficient goodliness or Godliness in the world. That common sense explanation accorded with my personal experience of a suppressed anger that lay lurking beneath the surface of my prized spiritual identity.
The other simple statement that grabbed my attention was something I read in Richard’s Journal –
I took this as a personal challenge because living with a companion in utter peace and harmony was always something I yearned for, and always something I had failed to do. And I knew that if I could live in peace and harmony with one other person it would be the proof that the actualism method worked – the proof that I could actually change.
Along with a lifetime yearning for peace on earth, these two statements served to fire up my intent to become happy and harmless. The understanding that my feelings of animosity and anguish had a physical cause and not a metaphysical cause gave me the intent to abandon my spiritual identity, and the challenge of living with fellow human beings in utter peace and harmony gave me the intent to devote my life to becoming happy and harmless.
The process of becoming happy and harmless involves an exploration of what is happening in my psyche at this very moment – a momentary exploration that was first set in motion by making the effort to form the habit of asking myself ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ Once I had got rid of my spiritual goody-two-shoes feeling of superiority it was then relatively easy to become aware of any feelings of animosity and resentment as they arose and then to dig in deep down to the core instinct of aggression – the thrill of killing was how I experienced it.
Feelings of melancholy were about the limit of my personal feelings of sadness I became aware of in everyday life, but feeling sad for others was stickier territory that required more exploration. When I came to really dig deep into sorrow itself I came across feelings of despair, and deeper than this I experienced levels of instinctual fear, dread and terror. It felt as though I was literally entering what I can only describe as being a truly hellish realm. The feeling of terror was an unbridled experience of raw instinctual animal fear, the self-same fear that the earliest humans experienced whilst trying to survive in a world full of meat-eating animals looking for something to kill and eat, as well as marauding groups of other humans looking for something to kill, eat or carry off. What I experienced was the very root of ‘my’ fear of death – the animal instinctual fear of survival. It’s amazing what you can discover in your psyche if you are willing to go looking.
I do acknowledge that such an exploration is a daunting prospect for many – I remember the choice to become an actualist was as if I was staring into a dark tunnel form which there was no return, or as if I was about to set off on a path that everyone else had marked ‘Do not go this way’. I guess, in hindsight, the latter was part of the attraction, part of the dare.
For those enabled with the sincere intent to become happy and harmless the process of becoming free of the human condition is a thrilling adventure – thrilling rather than fearful provided you resist the temptation to take yourself too seriously. Should you want to get a taste of the nature of these explorations I recommend reading Peter’s Journal as it is thus far the best comprehensive personal account written of the process of becoming virtually free of malice and sorrow.
As you can see, the actualism method of exploring one’s psyche – in vivo, in situ, ad momentum – is totally different in intent, in scope and in intensity to Aristotles ‘self’-serving spiritual admonishment to ‘know thyself’. Becoming an actualist means deliberately making a complete break from the past – in other words stopping believing that there is anything useful to be found in the words of Aristotle, Bacon, Descartes, Heraclitus, Hume, Kapila, Kant, Nietzsche, Patanjali, Plato, Plotinus, Sartre and co. just as nothing useful is to be found in the so-called sacred words of Buddha, the Dalai Lama, Jesus, Krishnamurti, Lao-tzu, Mahavira, Meher Baba, the Pope, Rajneesh, Rama, Ramana Maharshi and co.
It’s such a grand thing to do, to dare to wipe the slate clean of the past, to dare to stand on your own two feet, to dare to explore, to reveal, to uncover, to demystify, to discover – to dare to discover the facts of the matter of what it is to be a human being.
RESPONDENT to Vineeto: Have your read books written by fellow English man, I thought you were English, Roger Penrose. He is a mathematician interested in consciousness. He came to give a talk here and said he was not giving a ‘religious’ account of consciousness. I know two of his books: Emperor’s New Mind, and Shadows of the Mind.
These books may be 10 and ~4 years old by now so do not have all the recent research results. I picked them up about 3 year ago, but then ran into Osho and never finished reading these books. I just started reading Emperor’s New Mind again. I think you may like them if you have not read them already. I always wanted to know if Osho had read the older one but never knew who to ask.
PETER: Just thought I’d put my ‘two bob in’ about theoretical scientists, given you have raised the issue, and offered one up for discussion. When I met Richard and the radical discovery that everyone has got it 180 degrees wrong, I decided to find out for myself if what he was saying was factually correct. With a new possible view-point in mind, I set off on a skim-through of sociology, psychiatry, physiology, behavioural studies, biology, cosmology, quantum physics, history, anthropology, philosophy, religion and spirituality. It was an eye-opener to find scant regard to instinctual influences in human studies, to find nothing but a fairy tale of God in the revered spirituality, to discover mind-numbing imagination in the theoretical sciences, and nought but mind-fucking in philosophy. To see that everybody pre-ordains that ‘you can’t change Human Nature’ – the mutually agreed scenario being ‘Life’s a bitch and then you die, so make the best of it and/or believe in a God and you will get your reward in Heaven’.
What was amazing to discover was the all-pervasive spiritual concepts in theoretical studies of physics, mathematics, cosmology. They are veritable hot-beds of spiritual fantasy – searches for other worlds, other realms, dimensions and energies. The search for the Beginning, the search for the End and the search for the Meaning behind it all – the Grand Unified Theory or GUT.
For GUT ... read GOD, and you know for what they search. For the mathematician the search is for the Elegant solution, for the philosopher the search is for Truth. Vineeto and I coined the term GUF for what the spiritualist seek – Grand Universal Feeling.
I dug out a bit from Sir Woger from the Net – the quotes are from Psyche magazine and are Mr. Penrose’s defence of critiques of his book Shadows of the Mind. –
The very words belief and trust always make me prick up my ears ... but a belief system which can believe in itself?
A ‘self-believing belief system’ is how I would describe a religion.
Yep, when I ‘found’ Rajneesh – you could not have asked for a more rationalistic atheistic anti-mystic than myself at that time! It seems some people get Religion and mathematicians get G’del.
In the East it is passionate feelings that run riot; in Western academia, theoretical science and mathematics, theories and principles run riot, not ‘constrained’ by ‘some preassigned formal system’.
By beyond computation he means unable to be computed, calculated, reckoned, worked out, demonstrated, or made sense of.
Abstract ideas and notions expressed in terms of symbols are the concern of mathematicians – in other words, imagination. Contemplate upon an abstract notion and away you go ...
Is not he saying that one needs to believe in the existence of these abstract ideas in order to understand them?
He curiously makes no mention of mystics’ robes but obviously his philosopher’s hat is steeped in mysticism
A ‘communication’ of the ‘truth’ from ‘one to the other’ via ‘insight’ ... sounds awfully familiar language to me.
Well, not a lot about his book, but it is obvious where he is coming from – ‘pure’ mathematics, philosophy and mysticism. From a reading of the critiques of his fellow mathematicians they hadn’t much of a clue what he was on about, and from Sir Woger’s comments, they weren’t expected to. They were meant to believe, ‘understand’ and receive a ‘communication’ of a mathematical ‘truth’. I don’t think Mr. Penrose has anything at all sensible to say about consciousness , given his state of awareness of anything that is actual. Methinks he has spent too long in his ivory tower.
Mysticism and spiritualism are an attempt to ‘feel’ your way to God, philosophy and theoretical science are an attempt to ‘think’ your way to God. For an actualist – awareness and pure intent lead to apperception – a bare awareness whereby one figuratively and literally ‘comes to one’s senses’. With apperception operating almost exclusively an Actual Freedom from the Human Condition is the inevitable result.
PETER: Just as an aside – is your main objection what I say or how I say it? They are two different issues and it does seem to me that the most important thing to you is not what I am saying as you continually say it is ‘not of interest’ to you. But you do keep writing.
RESPONDENT: No, I do not object to what you write. Actually that is not completely correct. I sometimes do not like what you write but normally I find two things in this context:
PETER: Personally I find the wonderful thing about facts is that I am not forced to keep quiet about them – particularly in these days, in this medium and on this list. In the ‘good old days’ I would be forced to recant. Galileo was forced to recant his presenting of facts by fervent believers who felt threatened. A belief is a wobbly thing and needs continual emotional support or passionate defence and propping up. As a comedian said on television the other night if everyone stopped believing in God he wouldn’t exist. Same thing for any belief – once you stop believing it, it vanishes. Whereas a fact is a fact. The problem that everyone finds about stopping believing is that it is a painful business that causes upheaval, for one is actually changing oneself. As I’ve said before, the demolishing of my social identity meant that Peter the man, Peter the lover, Peter the Sannyasin, Peter the good, Peter the right, Peter the proud, they all had to die – bit by bit. But that is ‘who’ I am aiming to be free of, after all. You then eventually get rid of the parasitical entity that gets angry or sad and ruins this only moment that you can experience being alive. (...)
RESPONDENT: Now about: ‘Never born never died...’ I have read so many times explanations of this statement on this list, from Richard, from you. But I still can’t make head or tail of this statement. All my thoughts are borrowed thoughts from you and Richard, I have no original thinking of my own on this statement. And that is not good. I do not want to end up in believing in what you and Richard say about this.
PETER: Yes. Merely believing what others say is a bummer of a way to live one’s life – although that is exactly what everyone does.
But to stop believing and to acknowledge the facts is to demolish No 5 the man, No 5 the lover, No 5 the Sannyasin, No 5 the good, No 5 the right, No 5 the proud, etc. – and what would eventually remain is what you are, not ‘who’ you are. For me the challenge of discovering that was too thrilling to let a few wobbles or reactions stop me.
Of course, I know ‘what’ I am – the universe experiencing itself as a flesh and blood human mortal being, so startlingly obvious in a Pure Consciousness Experience.
What Mr. Rajneesh felt himself to be was an immortal God – hence his statement chiselled in marble, on his tomb, in his mausoleum – ‘Never born, never died’. Would not you agree that a human flesh and blood body is the product of a sperm fertilizing an egg and that when the heart stops beating and the brain ceases working that the body dies – to rot away, if it is not burnt? Is this fact so difficult to acknowledge as a fact? It is of course shocking for it does acknowledge that who you think and feel you are is a walk-in, a parasitical entity that has taken possession of you, the flesh and blood body known as No 5. But it does explain why the Guru’s message of immortality for the soul is so appealing to the ‘self’. No better offer can be made to an imaginary, ethereal soul than an imaginary ethereal immortality. No wonder people fall in love with Gurus – a Saviour at last!
I’ve done it again – I’ve strung together a few shocking statements aka facts. It’s just that spiritual belief perpetuates human misery and suffering on earth and it is time to expose this nonsense for what it is – puerile nonsense.
RESPONDENT: Now I feel it’s the time to finish talking with you. And some of my impressions.
You want to prove I am on the wrong path as far as I am a disciple of him. But whatever you argued is felt off the mark by me. I have tried to tell you why I feel so. But your intention of talking is just for proving your position is right.
PETER: No, I was simply presenting the facts of the failure of religious and spiritual pursuits to bring an end to human suffering and maliciousness on the planet. This is not about right and wrong but what works and what doesn’t work. For me, the spiritual path didn’t make me happy and harmless, it only gave me the illusion and feeling of being on the ‘right’ path with the ‘Master of Masters’. When I acknowledged that the spiritual wasn’t working for me I was ready to start looking at the facts of why it didn’t work and why Rajneesh’s ‘dream’ had failed and why it never could work.
My intention of talking to you were to report what my experiences were on the spiritual path, and what happened when I stopped believing and started to look at the facts. The discussion has been about fact and belief, not about right and wrong. Right and wrong is a moral judgement, a judgement made on what one believes to be true or feels to be right. It’s the very stuff that religious, ethnic and ethical conflicts and wars are fought over.
RESPONDENT: After all, you are against Rajneesh.
PETER: No, it is nothing personal. There have been about one thousand Enlightened Ones, according to one figure I have read, and all of them were deluded, and all of them promised the un-deliverable. They only have power and authority because people desperately want to believe the fairy stories of an ‘after-life’ and another ‘world’. This belief in the Divine-ness of the God-men is given credence by the feelings of love for Them and the self-gratifying feeling of being a chosen one. The chance for a genuine personal peace and an actual global peace is forfeited on the altars of the God-men – all for a bit of utterly selfish ‘feel-good’.
RESPONDENT: And in a sense I wanted to prove you have misunderstood him.
PETER: I understand him and the Guru-disciple business only too well for the likes of most people. When I talk of the facts of the business, particularly when I get to the point of discussing exactly what it is the God-men are saying and what was the actual result of the theory when put into practice, they invariably ‘head for the hills’. Still it’s early days... this is the first time in human history that a way has been found to actually break free of the Human Condition. To break with Ancient Wisdom and the belief in Gods and Devils, Spirits and Auras, Ghosts and ‘Other’ Worlds, Immortality and God-men and also to irrevocably break free of the instinctual passions of fear, aggression, nurture and desire.
To become modern humans, discontinuous from the past. To finally stop battling it out with each other for ‘survival’ and to stop believing in ‘spirits’ and in a spirit-ual world.
RESPONDENT: Now I understand it’s not my business. Who am I that I try to change your understanding of him? Your understanding and mine are different. That’s all for me now. I don’t think you are on the wrong path. I just don’t know. So there is no bridge between us now.
PETER: When I first met Richard I had two things going for me. One was that I was beginning to question the gap between the ideals and promises of the spiritual world, and what was the down-to-earth results, both for me after 17 years of effort and for billions of others over a period of 5,000 years.
The second was that although the gulf between Richard and I was so enormous that I could not understand what he was saying about the actual world and actual freedom, I did remember a Pure Consciousness Experience – a glimpse of the actual world in which my ‘self’ in its entirety, both ego and soul, was temporarily absent. This proved to be the ‘bridge between us’ such that I could understand of what he was talking about.
PETER: Given that you are a Sannyasin, and that you are for world peace, you obviously believe in Rajneesh’s ideal that world peace will come when everyone in the world becomes one of ‘his people’. Not Christians, not Buddhists, not Hindus, not Jains, but Sannyasins.
RESPONDENT: I don’t think so. I am not interested in to convert any one to Sannyasin. It’s just not my business. My wife is not a Sannyasin. My daughter is not a Sannyasin. My girl friend is not a Sannyasin. I am working at the Japanese largest publishing company wearing a Mala which, as you know, is a necklace with a photo of Rajneesh. But nobody cares including me.
PETER: It is certainly very clear why you would not kill or die for your faith. It does seem a bit of a weak faith if you don’t care, which makes me wonder what it is that you are so grateful about.
To be grateful to someone because they have shown you ‘a possibility’ seems pretty poor to me. Anyone can peddle a dream, an ideal, a possibility and people will flock and join in. Anyone, be it an Emperor, a Dictator, a Revolutionary, a Faith Healer, a scientist or a Guru. An excellent study known as the Milgram Experiments was conducted which documented this very willingness to believe, and willingness to follow, and I have written about it in the Peace chapter of my journal. But beware – it is a factual study and, as such, will probably give you ‘no space to answer’.
RESPONDENT: And I have said my disciplehood is different from your definition.
PETER: Another of the ploys that fails to impress me. Alan has already posted the dictionary definition of disciplehood. For clarity in communication, can you choose a word (from the dictionary preferably) that more closely defines exactly what you mean?
RESPONDENT: It doesn’t prevent me from questioning but rather encourages me to question.
PETER: This again gets pretty silly. Given that you don’t accept the dictionary definition for the word disciple, maybe before we go further down this blind alley, we could see what you mean by the word question. From the Oxford Dictionary –
‘Question – seek, inquire:
Now from the above definition, for you to question you have to have a problem, a difficulty, a doubt, a matter or concern to be inquired into, a doubtful point – and you clearly have none of these prerequisites. You are obviously very happy and proud to be a disciple of a spiritual Master – full stop. Beginning and end of questioning. You have no doubts, no problem, no concern, so there can be no questioning. The very act of being a disciple prevents questioning. Having trust, faith, hope and belief are the antidote to doubt, problems and concern. You already have your answer to your doubt and he is called Rajneesh.
PETER: I say invariably because a belief is an emotion-backed thought and beliefs are always associated with feelings and emotions.
RESPONDENT: Which beliefs would be at stake here?
PETER: If you read my journal you will find that it is somewhat sequential in that I did not aimlessly set out to expose my spiritual beliefs – the very first thing I did was set myself the task of being able to live with at least one other person in utter peace and harmony which meant that I firstly had to become harmless which in turn meant my happiness increased which in turn meant that I increasingly became good company to my companion.
In the course of paying attention to the times when I was being annoyed or not feeling happy I very often discover that I was defending one of ‘my’ precious beliefs or else I was feeling antagonistic towards someone else because their belief did not accord with ‘my’ belief. In other words the only way I exposed my beliefs was by paying attention to whatever feeling I was having at the moment and tracing it back to a belief I held to be a truth. A simple do-it-yourself process, but, like anything new, it does take some doing at first.
PETER: I say invariably because a belief is an emotion-backed thought and beliefs are always associated with feelings and emotions. Because of this association the most effective and direct way to differentiate between belief and fact is to become attentive to one’s own feelings. Why am I feeling defensive, why am I feeling annoyed and so on – ... invariably in the early stages of actualism one will find a dearly-held belief.
RESPONDENT: It is possible to annoy the crap out of somebody – NOT by challenging their beliefs but by constantly misunderstanding and misinterpreting them. If someone tells you they do not believe in UFOs, and you proceed as if they DO believe in UFOs, and if this continues month after month, they’re going to get annoyed with you.
PETER: Beliefs are generic to the human condition – they are part and parcel of being a human being. This is what makes talking about beliefs such a sensitive issue for many people – so close to the bone that strong passions are very often aroused. This is why I am wary of talking about beliefs with people in any forum other than the safety of this mailing list. I assume that correspondents who subscribe to this mailing list, and are sincerely interested in becoming free of the human condition, will welcome the opportunity of taking a clear-eyed look at the many and varied beliefs that give credence to the human condition without resort to the rancour and resentment that usually accompany such discussions.
What Vineeto and I discovered is that the way to avoid the usual emotional reactions that invariably accompany any investigation of beliefs is that each of us remembered not to take the issue in question personally but to ‘put the issue on the table in front of us’ … and then sit back and discuss it. By doing this it became clear to us that what we were discussing was not our own personal precious-to-us beliefs but that what we were investigating was what lay on the table – one specific aspect of the human condition.
This simple approach meant that we disempowered the usual instinctual reactions that arise when people discuss their beliefs and by doing so we were able to have a mutual, non-confrontational, discussion about the fallacies, flaws and passions that are inevitably at the core of any belief such that we were able to find the facts of the matter. Once we had found the fact of the matter, the belief deflated along with its associated passions and peace and harmony prevailed yet again. And as we ticked our way through each of our lists the peace and harmony between us became more and more palpable – deflating beliefs is such a delicious thing to do. You are rewarded with a palpable sense of freedom, you get to feel happier and, even more importantly, you get to become a little less harmful.
RESPONDENT: And it’s not because you’re challenging one of their deeply held beliefs, it’s because you are engaging them in senseless argument by being impervious to what they are telling you, and being so damned arrogant as to think you are in full possession of the facts, so arrogant that you think the other person’s emotional reaction is caused by you being RIGHT about their beliefs! Snap out of it dude. It is tedious, and it goes nowhere.
PETER: Beliefs are invariably associated with emotional reactions and I would have thought that this was obvious to any astute observer of the human condition – one only needs to visit an ashram or a church, sit at the feet of, or read the words of a spiritual master, hear a committed environmentalist speak, observe any debate between people who have opposing political views, witness the anger evoked in street demonstrations, become aware oneself of whatever it is that one feels passionately about, and so on. And every night on the television news you will see human beings championing their beliefs and defending their beliefs to the point where they will even kill other human beings whom they think to be wrong or feel deeply hurt because they think their particular beliefs or rights are being neglected, abused or challenged.
PETER: But then again we have had this conversation before –
RESPONDENT: Too fucking right we have!
PETER: The point I was making in the previous conversation was that the only way to investigate one’s own ‘hidden beliefs and assumptions’ is to first begin to become attentive to one’s own feelings. I presume your reference to cognitive dissonance meant that you were having trouble understanding this fundamental point which is very understandable – being attentive to how one is feeling, when one is feeling the feeling, is not something that comes naturally or easily, particularly at the beginning – it takes stubborn intent to break the habits of a life-time.
From what you say now, it appears that you have passed the stage of cognitive dissonance but have yet to fully take on board the fact that a belief is an emotion-backed thought and this is where observation of the human condition in action in general is useful, because it serves to remind one that it is, after all, the human condition in action that is the subject of an actualist’s attentiveness and investigation.
RESPONDENT: Thank you for your reply, I have reached the correct site. Good to hear from you too.
There is a great mix of personalities in our society. The SBS program ‘Front UP’ reminds me of this. They all hold on so tightly to what they perceive to be the truth of their lives, I can not disagree, but in relation to my parents’ generation and my generation???
PETER: Before I took on actualism I too held on tightly to what I perceived to be the truth of my life until I began to discover I had been sold a dummy. ‘My’ beliefs were beliefs, totally unfounded in fact, i.e. ‘I’ lived in la la land, my ethics were unliveable, i.e. ‘I’ was a wanker, my morals were subjective and very flexible, i.e. ‘I’ was a hypocrite and my values were imbibed from others, i.e. ‘I’ was a fraud. Having largely got rid of this person who made my life and others around him a constant emotional turmoil, I now find that I can disagree with others who dearly cling to their beliefs, ethics, morals and values, without being emotionally affected myself. The only way that this is possible is for me to be free of malice and sorrow – to have no axe to grind, no truth to maintain, no belief to defend – in short to have no ‘me’ to take offence or be offensive.
Richard asked himself – ‘can I emotionally accept that which is intellectually unacceptable?’ If you pursue such a question ruthlessly you will eventually discover that the only solution is to eliminate the passionate being inside ‘who’ endlessly has to practice tolerance in order to reconcile the vehemently conflicting views of others, ‘who’ endlessly needs to crank up love to rise above deep-seated resentment and hatred, ‘who’ has to continuously be good in order to rise above the perceived evil of others.
Being a social and instinctual being is ultimately a wearying and stressful business and even the blessed-out God-men look forward to physical death as an ultimate relief from the effort of being a Being.
PETER: You recently wrote to the list –
RESPONDENT: Guess those of us who love and enjoy ourselves just as we are in this multi-faceted human condition that has no exit (and thus is our liberation) might post something every now and then I for one reached the end of my tolerance limit to the game of ‘We know and you don’t’ but in case anybody is interested the resentments I held about that superior position taken by Peter and Vineeto and to some extent by Richard since our very first interactions are dissolving (i am not seeking interaction or aid in that process thankyou very much) and would almost consider soon adding my bit again to the ongoing examination anyway Vineeto, Peter. I would love to bury old hatchets and start again. Richard’s insights are amazing and since I have absorbed and understood and activated their essence (as perceived by me) I find more and more ability in me to be free – as I am.
PETER: You then wrote to me specifically asking a question –
RESPONDENT: How did you arrive at your belief that No 22 believes ‘he is the creator of all that is, i.e. God-on-earth’?
PETER: As I was finishing writing a reply to your question, you then posted the following to No 22 –
RESPONDENT: At current; I am actually motivated by an interest in the workings of the mind of an actualist (in this case Peter). I have detected a huge propensity in the past on their (and in this case his) part to – in reporting the belief of other people (in this case you; and in many, many past cases myself) – to extrapolate and interpolate without explanation from the actual communication of the other; and seeming without awareness of their doing so. They misinterpret heavily; and in my judgment that tendency to misinterpret displays much malice on their part. <Snip>
... until I detect that Richard and Peter and Vineeto are capable of the same degree of discernment as I am capable of, I have no reason at all to imagine or acknowledge or respect any claim from either or all of them – should they make such a claim – that they are any more free of delusion than ‘the man in the street’, or me, or Osho, or you No 22, or ... Mr. Ed, the talking horse. <Snip>
I will wait for a reply – if any – from Peter. And it is of little concern to me if he chooses not to reply. Perhaps he will reply along the lines of ... on such and such a date No. 22 wrote to the list ‘I, No 22, am the creator of all that is, i.e. God-on-earth’. If Peter can supply such an unsullied reply I would reply to Peter ‘thankyou for the clarification’... however I suspect he cannot provide any such indication that his claim to be reporting your belief rests in fact.
Even if he were to provide a direct quote from you along the lines of ‘I, No 22, have direct access to the source of the creation of all that is, i.e. God on-earth’ (and I do not intend to imply you would make such a claim j; although you are free to, with my respect for such); I would reply to Peter along the lines of ‘thankyou; now could you explain how you arrived at your stated belief about what No 22 believes; given that his stated belief is in fact divergent from your reporting of his belief.
PETER: From the way you have announced your intention as to how you intend to pursue this conversation it is clear that posting the response I have written will only elicit your pre-prepared rebuttal, so I have ditched my response to your question.
These type of it’s-only-your-belief exchanges only leads to the usual ‘my belief is better than, or more true than, your belief’ battles, or the ‘I have a right to my beliefs’ offended response, or the pre-conditional ‘I will respect your beliefs as long as you respect mine’ or the duplicitous ‘I will be tolerant of your beliefs as long as you are tolerant of my beliefs ... but if you’re not tolerant, look out!’
If you want to play poker, t’is best not to reveal your hand before the other plays his.
PETER: Speaking personally, it’s so good to be free of belief. It is essential to understand that to become actually free, one needs to become free from the very act of believing ... otherwise one only ends up believing that one is free. This is the very crux of Richard’s trailblazing discovery – that there is actual freedom from the human condition available which lies beyond the Self-centred feeling of freedom that is typified by an altered state of consciousness. The problem for spiritual seekers who have had an altered state of consciousness experience, or Satori, is that they jealousy guard their secret – the secret being that they have been specially chosen by God to receive His or Her message or to be a ‘hollow bamboo’ through which the energy of He or She or It flows.
It is not easy to abandon spiritual belief because most people see the only alternative as going back to grim reality, back to the real-world. This is most definitely not what is being offered in actualism. What is on offer is a road-tested practical method of becoming free of the instinctual passions that are very the cause of all human malice and sorrow. This way one doesn’t need to change the world, nor hide from the world, nor continually have to stoke up the feeling of being free. This way one avoids the calenture of stepping out of the real world reality and becoming God-like, God-realized or God-aligned – the traditional trap that has sabotaged all the previous well-meaning efforts to find actual freedom, peace and happiness.
I noticed in the first of your posts that I quoted you also said –
I can only suggest that you read Richard’s descriptions of becoming free of the institutionalized insanity of Enlightenment and take his words literally – at face value – rather than as you perceive them to mean. By doing so, you may begin to understand and comprehend what is on offer on this mailing list – an actual down-to-earth freedom in the world-as-it-is, with people as-they-are, which lies 180 degrees in the opposite direction from the spiritual feeling of freedom in an imaginary other-than-physical world.
I fully acknowledge that breaking free of spiritual belief is not an easy thing to do. Actualism seems like madness, which it is from a real-world perspective. Actualism feels like going completely in the wrong direction, which it is from a spiritual-world perspective. My attitude at the start was that I had checked out both worlds thoroughly and neither cut the muster – nowhere was genuine peace and harmony to be found in either world.
I just figured I had nothing left to lose by checking out something brand-new.
I had better stop here because I can write all night singing the benefits of actualism – a naive enthusiasm and joie de vivre that has often been scornfully dismissed as the proselytising of a disciple or the parroting of a clone. Personally, I have no problem at all in being a happy and harmless clone – it sure beats the hell out of being normally human or becoming spiritually divine.
But I would like to leave you with a fresher-than-I-can-write description of both the very real difficulties and the very tangible rewards of dismantling one’s own much-cherished spiritual beliefs –
RESPONDENT: Will you please tell me, do all completed investigations end with a belief being proven false, or do they sometimes end with an affective feeling simply disappearing?
PETER: A completed investigations ends when I recognize that one of ‘my’ precious beliefs is nothing other than one of the plethora of beliefs ‘I’ have either unwittingly imbibed in early childhood, cunningly taken up later in life in order to ingratiate myself into a particular group or accepted it as being a Truth solely because some Big Daddy or Big Mummy figure said it or is supposed to have said it.
In my experience, and my observations of others, there is usually a particularly precious belief that ‘I’ hold so dear that ‘I’ will stubbornly fight to hang on to, rather than relinquish it. There is usually one belief that is so much a part of ‘my’ identity that to relinquish it is to bring up deep feelings such as being irresponsible, being a traitor, a defector, a turncoat, a fool, or whatever.
But if you dare to let go of your most cherished belief, you can then begin to see all your other beliefs for what they are –‘your’ beliefs, an integral part of your social identity. Each time one of these beliefs come to the surface – and you will notice them because you will feel offended if it is brought into question and you will feel smugly justified when it is affirmed by others – you can then investigate the validity and sensibility of holding on to that particular belief. Provided you have set your sights on being happy and harmless, then each time you discover a belief you have a choice – hold on to the belief and remain feeling ‘self’-satisfied or offended, or be happy and harmless.
Pretty soon you get the hang of it and finding beliefs and chucking them out becomes great fun. As the momentum builds you will eventually get to the stage where you stop the very act of believing and you will then start to stand on your own two feet for the first time in your life. Provided you don’t get swept away with aggrandizing feelings at this point, you will find yourself well on the way to becoming free of malice and sorrow.
As for the second part of your question – ‘do they sometimes end with an affective feeling simply disappearing?’ – once you have become aware of a feeling such as anger or pride as it is happening, you have in effect brought the feeling out into the open and exposed it for what it is. Then, when it reappears again, you can recognize the emergence of the feeling in its very early stage and this awareness will cause it not to grow and take over.
This is not suppressing the feeling – this is being aware of the feeling, naming the feeling and feeling the feeling, all the while being aware that this is what you are doing – it is a bit like detecting an ember before it grows to become a raging bushfire. When you get to the stage that you only detect the occasional very faint ember such that it never glows brightly, let alone grows into a bushfire, you are virtually free of malice and sorrow – and your own sincerity will be the judge of that.
As you can see I don’t have anything particularly new to say on the subject, but maybe saying it in a different way will have been of use to you. If I haven’t addressed your question satisfactorily, I am only too happy discuss it further – topics such as these are ‘right up my alley’, so to speak.
RESPONDENT: What belief did you have that kept you feeling attached to being Australian?
PETER: The belief that it is good to have a national identity, the belief that it is essential to feel as though I belong somewhere, the belief that I need to feel like some place is home, and so on. When I eventually came to realize that, by and large, these feelings are feelings that other people have told me I should feel – that’s what social conditioning is after all – it was relatively easy to give them up in favour of being an anonymous and autonomous citizen of the world.
To put it another way, I gave up feeling I belonged to one particular national group because of the invidious and aggrandizing feelings associated with holding on to such an identity entailed and I fostered the felicitous feelings associated in feeling myself to be a citizen of the world and seeing and treating all of my fellow human beings for what they are, fellow human beings, and not ‘who’ they are.
And just to say again what can never be said enough – the process of actualism is not about not feeling – in its first stage it is about becoming aware of the invidious and aggrandizing feelings as they occur and actively endorsing the felicitous feelings such that one can be as happy and harmless as possible whilst still being a ‘self’.
RESPONDENT: Belonging to a family?
PETER: I had to look at all the beliefs that have been passed down the generations about how one should feel and shouldn’t feel about being a father, a son, a mother, a daughter, a brother, a sister and so on. It’s probably more accurate to call these the morals and ethics of social conditioning but a particular event happened that caused my whole emotion-backed thinking about the nature of belonging to a family to come crashing down –
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