Selected Correspondence Peter
GARY: There is a matter I am a bit confused on. It is this: if one rejects all belief in spirituality and religion, rejects all belief in a metaphysical realm or an immortal soul, then that makes one an atheist, does it not? Richard has said that he is a dyed-in-the-wool (words mine) atheist. I feel that I am an atheist now too. Yet atheism is a belief, is it not?
PETER: In a God-steeped, superstition-ridden Humanity, atheism is universally regarded as denial or disbelief –
Thus by this definition, the existence of God or gods is held to be true, as in factual, and an atheist is someone who denies or disbelieves this truth. The waters get even murkier if we check out the definition of belief –
So according to Humanity’s definition, an atheist is someone who is in denial of a truth or someone who has no trust, confidence, faith or mental acceptance of a universally-accepted truth.
Yet the fact is there is no God, nor are there gods – the whole notion of a spiritual world is but a elaborate and fear-ridden escapist fairy tale, passed on from generation to generation to explain the evil they will encounter in the world and pre-prepare them with the tradition escapist fantasy.
To understand this fully takes an enormous amount of de-programming, and I remember only last year clearly realizing with a jolt that the belief in God and gods was not only nonsense but puerile nonsense, as in nothing other than a childish fairy tale of the ilk of Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, Goblins and the like.
GARY: If belief, any belief, is the problem, then what good does it do to discard one system of belief and pick up another?
PETER: None at all, for holding any belief is nonsensical. I remember even as a teenager in a Christian society the idea of a white-bearded God sitting on a cloud and overseeing all this was pretty silly to me. And as for sending his Son down so he could do a few miracles, start a Religion, be nailed to a cross, and after a few days go back up to sit alongside Dad and see how it works out ...! I remember thinking, if there was a God, how come he made the mess in the first place, and if he was responsible for this mess, why the hell didn’t he just come down and sort it out. Despite this early discarding of one belief some 25 years later I was shocked one night to discover I had merely taken another –
GARY: It seems that by saying one is an atheist, one is adopting a sort of identity all over again, discarding one identity and taking up another.
PETER: Only if you are ‘someone who denies or disbelieves the existence of God or gods’ and then you are clearly taking an anti stance, involved in belief disputes, claiming you are right and others are wrong, etc. To stop being a believer, only to become a disbeliever, is still to be an identity, as you rightly point out. The only way to step out of this cycle is to discover what is factual and to discard what is merely belief. The eventual aim of this investigation is to cease the habitual and ingrained act of believing – of being a believer. This process does take time, effort, incessant enquiry and an unparalleled degree of integrity, patience and perseverance. To imbibe and learn something while young is an automatic process – the process of unlearning is another ball game entirely.
A bit I wrote at the time I was pondering similar issues may be relevant to this discussion –
The last realization came when I fully understood and directly experienced that there is no God, or gods, in a PCE and that Richard experienced this as an ongoing permanent experience. Then atheism is neither a belief nor a disbelief, but an acknowledgement of fact.
GARY: This is sort of the same conundrum that I have with actualism. If one takes it up as a sort of banner or identity to hide behind, then one is not eliminating the identity and discovering the actual, one is adopting it as a ‘clip-on’ to one’s belief system, as you have said.
PETER: I noticed that I started to bring the terms actualism and actualist to the forefront of my writings recently and this coincided with realizing that actualism is now firmly launched in the world as a third alternative and is spread by word of mouth, it has already developed a life of its own as interest, controversy and debate is growing exponentially.
There have already been many objections of the petty put-down of ‘isms’ type usually based on the chronic human obsession with either blindly following authority or angrily rebelling against authority.
So from this definition, actualism is a form of practice having a distinctive character – as in being neither materialism nor spiritualism but something new in human experience. It is neither doctrine nor theory but a practice, as in utilizing a method or undertaking a process.
I find it most useful to use the label actualist as a reminder that what I am practicing has a distinctive character – it is unusual, not common, different, extraordinary, rare. This is not a chest-puffing, identity-bloating exercise but a simple statement of fact. I am not a materialist, I am not a spiritualist, I am neither a believer nor am I a disbeliever – I am an actualist, should I ever be asked for a label, which is not very often.
GARY: So, I’m not sure where that leaves one. Is one an atheist or not? Does it matter? Maybe this issue is not important. While I do not belief in God or Truth, I see plenty of evidence of the foothold these beliefs have in my psyche. Just for instance, the word ‘God’ slips out in my speech once in awhile, as in saying ‘For God’s sake’, ‘God Almighty’, etc, etc. I am wondering what it is about the psyche of human beings that inclines them toward belief in a spiritual or supernatural realm. It just occurred to me as I was writing this that, of course, there is a direct correlation between the psyche and God. If one regards oneself as a psyche, that one’s psyche has a substantiality and enduring nature, then one is identifying oneself as a being. It is a short and rather natural jump to worship and reverence of a supernatural Being, a Creator God or Gods.
PETER: It is only by asking questions like these with the intent to find answers, firstly as an understanding and then experientially, that you can make your own discoveries. actualism is a process that is specifically designed to facilitate an ongoing investigation into your own psyche. This is why actualism is not a belief, doctrine or theory and anyone treating it as such is missing out on the opportunity of their lifetime to discover what is actual in a world awash with beliefs, doctrines, theories, ideologies, truths, faiths, opinions, viewpoints and dimwitticisms.
What are significant questions, beliefs, passions and potential stumbling blocks for you will vary from what were mine or others’ only because of differing social programming and life experiences. The Library section of the web-site is specifically aimed at cataloguing a range of questions and discussions by topic and issue as an aid for anyone daring enough to question their cherished beliefs.
As for ‘what it is about the psyche of human beings that inclines them toward belief in a spiritual or supernatural realm’, most people seem to miss the fact that ‘I’ am a psychological and psychic entity or spirit, and as such desperately believe in the fairy tales of a spiritual world, or a world in which spirits dwell. It is interesting to note that this belief in a spirit-ual world most usually gets stronger and more impassioned the closer the person is to the end of their life.
PETER: The first thing is the business of finding out the facts of the human condition we find ourselves born in to, as opposed to what we have been told is the truth about the human condition. What we have come to believe and commonly accept as the truth is what has been passed on to each and every human being from their parents and peers ... who got it from their parents and peers ... who got it from their parents and peers ... stretching back into the dark mists of time. Our bondage to the human condition can be summed up as –
In order to become free of the human condition it is essential to laboriously crack through these shackles – the beliefs, morals, ethics, values, viewpoints and psittacisms that bond humans to a life of essential suffering and heart-wrenching misery. The easiest and most direct method to do this is to read the Actual Freedom Trust website and confirm what is written by your own life experiences and your own investigations. The method I used to confirm that what Richard was saying about the human condition was factual and sensible was to read, watch TV and browse the internet for further information. This process of finding the facts does involve a fair bit of work and investigation. One needs to check many sources, look for contradictions, be very wary of the source of the material and the bias of the authors or presenters, seek out the data behind the conclusions others are making, etc. Initially I ran a little game whereby I simply assumed that I, and everyone else, had got it wrong and looked for why and where – this way the investigation became exciting and thrilling – not daunting and fearful. Pretty soon I was able to confirm that I and everyone else had got it wrong – I had been searching for freedom and meaning 180 degrees in the wrong direction.
GARY: I would say it takes considerable work and investigation to uncover the facts of a situation, but the rewards are immediate, tangible, and lasting. In this investigative work, everything is up for scrutiny and one cannot rely on the ‘time-honoured’ truisms and psittacisms that one usually falls back on to explain what is happening in life.
PETER: As I re-read what I wrote to you I was reminded of something you wrote recently –
I don’t want to leave the impression that dispelling belief and unearthing facts is an intellectual exercise based upon reading and discerning what others have discovered. The quickest, most direct and most effective way of determining what is fact, i.e. what works and what doesn’t work, is by your own life experiences. By the time mid-life comes around, most people have had sufficient life experiences to already know what doesn’t work and only if there is still some doubt about a particularly sticky issue do you need to investigate further. As an example, I needed only to draw on my own life experiences and my observations of others around me to know that love does not work, and never can work, to negate malice or sorrow. This is why I wrote my journal in the style I did, including many examples of my life experiences and my inevitable failures to find peace and happiness, both in the real world and the spiritual world.
The other kind of investigation is by deliberately setting out to make sense of a vexing issue, as we did in our recent conversation about intelligence vs. instinctual passion. In this type of investigation you root around and dig up all the information, data and observations you can and balance those against the currently accepted viewpoints and beliefs that others have about the subject, and then you eventually come to find an answer – to come to an understanding of the facts of the situation. Vineeto and I have spent many, many hours mulling over issues relevant to the human condition with no disagreement or disharmony simply because we were searching for the facts – something that is clearly evident, obvious and indisputable.
GARY: I can well relate to your period of discipleship and the bizarreness of your complete immersion in the spiritual community. While perhaps I did not go to some of the extremes that you did, I can easily relate to the emotion of devotion, and unquestioning obedience of the Master, and the complete suspension of intelligent and critical thinking that goes along with being a religious and spiritual follower. And one can well see, given the reverence with which spiritual figures are treated, how Jonestown and Waco are possible, no ... not only possible, but almost inevitable. The descent into madness begins, I think, when one ties their fate with another – the spiritual leader – one develops a love for, an admiration of the one leading the spiritual community, and the die is cast when Cupid strikes his arrow into the heart because this type of love and veneration is lethal ... witness the many object lessons that the long and bloody history of religion have to show us. To tie one’s fate to any other human being is to be deluded ... and peace on earth can scarcely come to one so deluded. It may seem like I am bashing spirituality, but it is like a breath of fresh air to be free from all the ridiculous beliefs and practices which characterize the spiritual world. I still, at times, cannot believe my own complete foolishness in being sucked into it all, and I sometimes cannot believe that it was actually me that believed in all those nonsensical propositions. It is a wonderful experience – being free from the spiritual world, realizing that one need not suspend their own native intelligence for the sake of the apparent security of religious/ spiritual practice. I still am rather overjoyed that I am free from all of that.
PETER: Yes indeed. This alone is enough to send anyone tap dancing across the floor, particularly if it is a passing milestone on the way to becoming free of both the spiritual world and the real world.
I remember the feeling of freedom from spiritual belief as being very tangible – I walked taller in the world, as it were, my integrity restored. I remember thinking afterwards – what was all the fuss about? Why did I find it so difficult?
In hindsight, there were in fact two intertwined difficulties. One was ‘my’ passions involved in maintaining my beliefs – mainly pride and loyalty – and these passions then conspired to prevent me from clearly understanding what was on offer in actualism, a condition known as cognitive dissonance. My brain had been programmed so completely to accept that there were only two alternatives to human existence – grim reality and a Greater Reality – so much so that it was almost impossible to conceive that peace and freedom lay where no one had dared to look before. Right here, right now, on earth.
But the nagging explanation – ‘that everyone, up to now, has got it 180 degrees wrong’ – made such sense to me and explained so much of what was obviously senseless within the human condition, that I was inexorably drawn to investigate further.
RESPONDENT: (...) What else can a reader do? when facing the facts as demonstrated in this little beach conversation, than agree/admit that The ‘divine Solution’ is a failure and thus the alternative ‘Actual freedom’ must be the only ‘hope’ for Peace On Earth. As later on the enlightened being is ‘labelling’ Richard as a ‘vortex sucking all into his category’, Richard even admits that this statement is found to be accurate and he does not even take that as an insult, though from the readers view point, that could have been very well the case given the fact that already contemptuous, not to say degrading behaviour had been demonstrated.
As the reader does not get any clues as to the way that statement had been presented, this is in my vision a clear demonstration of R’s great capacity to not only read face value but also to perfectly hear and interpret the digital meaning of a sentence and thus filtering out any emotional bias.
PETER: I remember when I first read Richard’s Journal that I found a lot of his writing quite difficult and dense, if I can use that word to describe writing. There seemed to be so much packed into it that was difficult to read let alone understand. It wasn’t only his use of words that stretched my vocabulary and often sent me scurrying for a dictionary. It was that every sentence needed scrutiny and thinking about so I could ascertain exactly what he meant. And then what he meant needed a good deal of contemplating on – sometimes for days and even weeks before the penny dropped.
I don’t know if you know the expression but it is a good description of having a realization about something. I would at first develop an intellectual understanding about something he wrote and after a period of contemplation a realization would happen – an Ahhh ... – almost as if a penny dropped into the slot machine. A realization is as though a fog has lifted or a light suddenly goes on in a dim room. A realization is when a belief implodes and clarity, based on a rock-solid understanding and acknowledgement of a fact, suddenly occurs.
Spiritual people also have realizations but a spiritual realization happens when an old belief is seen as false and calenture, the desperate clutching on to a new belief, occurs. It is important for an actualist to discern this difference lest he or she seizes upon the realization of a fact and start taking it to be a sign of ‘my’ wisdom rather than understanding the realization for what it is – the collapse of ‘my’ belief and thinking freed of the burden of belief. I don’t want to put a damper on enthusiasm here because such realizations are thrilling and uplifting, but if you can keep your feet on the ground while being thrilled and uplifted you are more likely to want to do the work needed to have more realizations rather than rest on your laurels thinking you ‘know’ it all.
The other thing I wanted to say about reading Richard’s Journal was that at some point – and I can’t remember when but I suspect it was after a few of these realizations – I became aware that I had been skipping over the first sections of each chapter and concentrating on intellectually understanding the last sections of each chapter. As I started to really read the first sections of each chapter with the same attentiveness I had read the last sections, I suddenly realized that these were descriptions of how somebody who was free of the human condition experienced this actual world we all live in. I was startled to realize that these were descriptions of pure consciousness experiences except this was somebody’s on-going permanent experience.
I know I have said this many times before but there is a gold-mine to be had in Richard’s descriptions of ‘self’-less, ordinary, down-to-earth living because this is the carrot for an actualist, this living can be every human being’s destiny. I only write this because maybe this is what you got of reading Richard’s description of his conversation with a spiritual teacher. And I say maybe, because I don’t know – I can only relate what you are reporting to my own experiences when I first started to dig into actualism and began to try to understand what was on offer and started to have realizations.
I remember it as both exciting and turbulent and I soon came to understand a realization – when a belief implodes and clarity, based on a rock-solid understanding and acknowledgement of a fact – was only the start. For an actualist, it is never enough to know something – it must be implemented and put into practice such that a palpable and irrevocable change occurs in my life.
Whenever this happens it is as though a bit of ‘me’ has fallen off and I feel lighter, less burdened and more free. More able to feel felicitous feelings and I have less reason or inclination to feel malicious or sorrowful. Because the realizations are based on the discovery of fact and not on ‘my’ adoption of a self-serving belief, ‘I’ cannot claim any credit – although ‘I’ am wont to try. You will recognize this propensity when it comes, it’s the Saviour of Mankind syndrome. But to be forewarned is to be forearmed, and provided you heed the warnings and use your realizations to fuel your fascination with how you are experiencing this moment of being alive, ’tis a grand adventure.
Well that was a bit of rave again, but I do enjoy writing about the process of actualism. It is so simple, which I know puts a lot of people off because the human tendency is to like obscuration, mystification, confusion, distraction, complication and vagueness. This is why it takes such an effort to become attentive to how you are experiencing this moment of being alive but the rewards for making the effort is freedom – the down-to-earth freedom that Richard describes in his journal.
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.
I do acknowledge that it takes a bit of gall to question the revered and famed experts of humanity, but if you want to become actually free of human condition this is what needs to be done.
RESPONDENT: To jump to another subject;
To bypass any kind of objections. I know for a fact that you where there and Vineeto was also there to even be more specific: [Richard: ‘my colleague has misconstrued his statement about ‘having to do some work’ and asks, sincerely, just what he meant by this. That he referred to my colleague, I’m positive that this ‘colleague’ was Vineeto] Tell you how’ I flipped a coin three times and the third time it landed on ‘Peter does not speak the truth’, that’s what we call in Holland ‘Dutch justice’. It comes from an old Dutch popular ‘belief’ [Drie keer is Scheepsrecht]. It basically means three shots give it try if it doesn’t work the first time do it again if the third time doesn’t work ... just forget it.
PETER: I recognize the approach. It’s the very same one you used in your Lomborg vs. Schneider debate. First flip, go with the status quo, believe Schneider. Second throw, consider status quo view might be wrong. Third throw ... ‘just forget it’ and wait for the ‘actualism experts’ to decide what you should think and feel about the world as-it-is.
RESPONDENT: But then again: [not that it is very important] I think it may be good to get that ‘Lomborg-Schneider thing’ a bit going but so to say ‘slow motion’. Could you provide a passage for so to speak a ‘preliminary’ investment as to whether I find it worthy to purchase and hence would participate in ‘supporting’ Lomborg financially and possibly come to share conclusions with him as to the ‘Weight’ of the information available about Global Warming and/or Species extinction.
PETER: I can do better than that. If you go to http://uk.cambridge.org/economics/lomborg/sample.htm you will find a sample chapter available for free online and if you use your browser search engine you will no doubt find a good many more reactions and attitudes to the book, both positive and negative.
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.
PETER: I do acknowledge that it takes a bit of gall to question the revered and famed experts of humanity, but if you want to become actually free of human condition this is what needs to be done.
RESPONDENT: It appears to me that you may mistake expertise for specialism. (Atomica def) ‘Specialism: Concentration of one’s efforts in a given occupation or field of study. A field of specialization’. When I use the term expert I mean someone who has the expertise ‘Expert A person with a high degree of skill in or knowledge of a certain subject. The highest grade that can be achieved in marksmanship. Having, involving, or demonstrating great skill, dexterity, or knowledge as the result of experience or training.’ Iow, one can study a lifelong in a certain field without ever becoming an expert yet one hardly can be denied to be a specialist.
As to [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 rephrase: [Only genuine ‘experts’ will be able to act on the facts in such a way that the workout can be called beneficial] leaving it up to anyone for him/herself as to decide what is to be called ‘genuine’ experts with regard to environmental issues.
PETER: Which only means that you not only need to decide who to believe but you also have to determine whether the person you believe is merely a specialist in the field or is a ‘genuine’ expert in the field. The way most people do this is to believe he or she who is most famous or he or she who has the most letters after their name, i.e. the most book learning. Which means you are back to following the herd, flipping a coin or following your gut feelings – back taking sides in one of the many conflicts that rage within the human condition.
I recognize that it is hard work to investigate your beliefs and that it is much easier to stay who you think and feel you are. It may not be satisfactory but at least it is familiar. It certainly is not freedom but then you can always take up a cause and blame someone else for keeping you from being free. The other traditional alternative is to dissociate from the battles in the world by feeling self-righteous as in ‘above it all’ but this hypocrisy didn’t sit at all well with me.
I remember the first time I really ‘got it’ about the role that beliefs play in making ‘me’ as a social identity. The following is an excerpt from my journal describing the event –
As a child we are taught to believe what our parents, teachers and peers tell us – there is no other way to learn. In order to become free of these beliefs it is essential to learn how to think for yourself because this is something we have not been taught to do – we have been taught to believe, we haven’t been taught to think.
RESPONDENT: (...) Need I say how much this believe is intimately interconnected and interwoven with ‘issues’ like ‘loyalty conflicts’, ‘separation anxiety’, a fair amount of ‘paranoia thinking/feeling’ ‘cult behaviour’ and ‘brainwashing’ just to mention some of those issues that make Rajneeshism as a part of ones conditioning process extremely hard and sometimes even painful to investigate. It took me many months to enable myself to even acknowledge the fact that I was a believer and hence to admit to myself that I was caught in an extremely powerful illusion.
PETER: It’s a very tough business to admit that not only are you wrong by others’ standards but that you have been made to feel a fool as well. What pushed me over the brink was a momentary glimpse that the reason that there is not peace on earth between human beings is that everyone has got it 180 degrees wrong. I had a glimpse that everyone, including me, was looking to the past for solutions, desperately running round in circles picking over the debris and flotsam of ancient beliefs and wisdom. This set me up for a two-prong approach of questioning my own beliefs based on past ‘wisdoms’ whilst simultaneously investigating the sensibility of actualism – the direction no-one had dared to look before Richard’s investigations.
Personally, I found disloyalty to be one of the toughest feelings to face but, in the end, I had to admit it does make sense to desert a sinking ship. I do also remember the process of questioning and investigating my spiritual beliefs to be ‘extremely hard and sometimes even painful’ but I have no emotional memories or scars remaining from the time. One of the amazing things about beliefs is that they require effort to maintain and defend and once you stop believing you immediately feel a palpable sense of freedom from having to keep up the effort of maintaining and defending your belief.
JOURNALIST: Dear Peter,
Thanks very much for your letter and book. I haven’t read it all but I do think you have written your story quite well. The answers are never entirely what we think they will be, I agree with you there. But then that is the nature of a mature faith too. So maybe there is more overlap than you think.
Anyway, I won’t go on because you’ll think I’ve missed the point! Good luck with your freedom.
PETER: Thanks for your note back. At this stage I welcome any feedback. I note that you say you have a mature faith and I don’t doubt it. Most sincere seekers are driven to seek freedom from their own suffering and to find a solution to the appalling universal suffering of Humanity. I found that the tried and true beliefs needed questioning at least, because they haven’t produced the goods – an end to sorrow and malice in human beings. A paltry few rise Above It All to become saints or gurus or Gods, but fat lot of good it does the mere mortals left behind.
So, as you said in your letter, ‘the answers are never entirely what we think they will be’, and what I’m proposing is that they lie 180 degrees in the other direction. Unfortunately for those who believe in a heaven and hell, this direction can appear to be towards hell or evil or madness. But as the Good and Evil, Right and Wrong, Good and Bad, the Truth are all nothing but beliefs, ideals, morals and ethics, then perhaps this imaginary hell is only a fantasy as well. Maybe then Human beings can stop needing to worship fictitious gods, following ancient Wisdom that is riddled with good and evil spirits and energies, and fight appalling wars with each other as to which God is the ‘only’ god or whose particular version of the Truth is the ‘only’ truth. Then this appalling scenario of suffering and sacrifice will end and we will come to our senses both figuratively and literally. To realise we are one species on the planet, that there are about 6 billion of us, that we already live in paradise, and begin the task of removing exactly what is in the road of us experiencing this paradise on earth, not in some hoped for after-life.
I found that I had been imbued with a very shonky set of beliefs, that made up ‘who’ I thought I was, and further that I was born with a set of animal instincts – fear, aggression, nurture and desire – that could drive me to revert to animal behaviour at any time. When cornered, or when push came to shove, I would be ready to kill and die for my beliefs and enjoy being malicious even to the point of wanting to kill someone. This realisation was shattering for me, for I realized that the source of malice and sorrow was in me and I was the only one who could rid myself of this alien being inside.
It’s no small thing to realize, as one has identified both the source of the problem and the direction in which the solution to the mystery of life lays. And then off I strolled on a most extra-ordinary journey to freedom as one journeys beyond belief and imagination and discovers the actual, factual, physically delightful universe, here, now as experienced by the senses. Sight, sound, touch, smell, thoughts – all clear and pure and perfect – the breeze on my legs, the bird calling outside, the hands tapping on the keyboard as I write to you. Life was meant to be easy, simple, direct, sensual, delightful and carefree.
Experiencing paradise on earth, here, now, before physical death is possible in my experience. But I’ve got off on one of my raves. I guess what I am saying is: I think it is high time for us all to sincerely begin to question the commonly-held belief in the existence of gods, spirits, energies, entities or aliens. The gods, after all, have promised so much and delivered so little! I just gave up waiting for Godot to sort out the mess I was.
PETER: It is an impossibility to engage in a discussion about facts – what works and what doesn’t work and why – with those who fervently believe something to be true and desperately uphold it to be the Truth. But if someone is sufficiently motivated and willing to take stock of their lives and examine what has worked and what hasn’t, then a sensible and dispassionate investigation of facts of spiritual belief is possible.
PUBLISHER No 1: You certainly know how to project your ‘beliefs’ on to others eh! Maybe things are not possible for you. I’m not motivated by anything and as for raking over the coals of the past, for me this is as futile as planning for my 100th birthday when in all ‘probability’ I’ll be lucky to be here in ten years when the effects of the indulgences of the past (drugs, sex, alcohol, rock and roll, nicotine, junk food, etc.) kick in and destroy this body.
PETER: That’s a fairly clear statement. If you’re not motivated by anything why do you go to all the effort of producing your magazine in order to write sarcastically about your spiritual beliefs and the spiritual beliefs of others? What is your motivation? In my spiritual years I was often suspicious of spiritual beliefs but I was always careful not to indulge in cynicism. I always thought if I got cynical about what I was doing in life I was definitely on the wrong track. But I did play a few tricks and indulged in some harmless rebellion from time to time when the opportunity arose.
PETER: Well, it seems that this conversation has come to an end. I can see that you are a firm believer in, and practitioner of, Eastern religion and philosophy and, as such, are not interested in exploring an alternative. Fair enough. It is good to be full-on into something that makes you ‘happier, less serious, more fun and deeper’, as you said.
PUBLISHER No 1: For someone who has discovered freedom you don’t seem to be able to separate your own presuppositions, prejudices and inane judgments from the actual. Do you work it out with a slide rule or what? You seem to be very good at speaking for me and telling me about myself based on my disagreements with your elementary philosophical system. In your mechanical world if one disagrees are they automatically chucked in the ‘firm believer in, and practitioner of, Eastern religion and philosophy and, as such, are not interested in exploring an alternative’ basket.
PETER: Okay. The statement that you are a firm believer in, and practitioner of, Eastern Religion and philosophy is based on the fact that you are a Sannyasin of Chandra Mohan aka Bhagwan aka Rajneesh aka Osho, and even have taken a Sannyasin name.
Sannyas is a traditional Hindi word and
You also said –
Someone who is a Sannyasin, has a declared relationship with a dead Guru is plainly of a spiritual ilk, despite how loudly he might deny the fact.
A firm believer is one who is loyal despite whatever disagreements and misgivings he might have about the goings on that he perceives to be separate from his faith in the Master. You reaffirmed this single-pointed loyalty well when you said –
As for Eastern religious philosophy, your comment on what motivated you to write your magazine –
– is but Eastern fatalism, a version of ‘it is all God’s will’.
Your comment in a post entitled ‘Reality’ –
– is nothing other than Eastern philosophy whereby what is physical, tangible, palpable and actual is seen as illusionary. Another example of this philosophy is –
Your statements –
– represents pure Buddhist philosophy.
These are all puerile psittacisms that have been bandied around the East for millennia, in one form or another. It is stretching the language a bit to call it philosophy for the highest accolade in the East is to ‘really know that you do not know’, or to ‘truly know the Truth which cannot be spoken’.
RESPONDENT: I think this is an Impersonal Fact rather than a personal belief.
PETER: Are you implying there is such a thing as a personal fact or a belief that is an impersonal belief? To avoid confusion and aid communication I like to keep to simple dictionary definitions of words.
A fact is a fact, it stands on its own – it is neither personal nor impersonal and it requires neither faith, trust or hope for it to be so.
Beliefs are always personal and are usually said to be real if other people share the same belief. The more people who believe the more real the belief appears to be and is often claimed to be a truth or Truth in spiritual terms. However, even if everyone believes something to be true it doesn’t make it a fact.
Long ago everyone believed the earth was the centre of the cosmos and the sun went around the earth, but now we know it was just a belief based on the limited viewpoint of at the time. It took nearly 400 years for the Pope to finally acknowledge only in the last decade that the Bible was wrong.
Long ago everyone believed that humans were born innocent and corrupted by evil in this world but we now know this was just a belief based on an idea that the world was populated by good and evil spirits. It may well take 400 years for Eastern religion to acknowledge that Mr. Buddha and the other Ancients were wrong.
RESPONDENT: Surely when one experiences the falling away of all false belief structures and human conditioning and programming it becomes obvious that there are no separate selves in the first place.
PETER: Now you are introducing the notion of a false belief. Are you implying there are false beliefs and true beliefs and that your belief is true? To believe means to ‘fervently wish to be true’. The action of believing is to emotionally imagine, or fervently wish, something to be real that is not actual – actual as in tangible, corporeal, material, definitive, present, obvious, evident, current, substantial, physical and palpable. A belief is an assumption, a notion, a proposition, an idea that requires faith, trust or hope to be sustained in the face of doubt, uncertainty and lack of factual evidence. Whereas a fact is a fact, demonstratively evident to all that it is actual and/or that it works.
Many beliefs are masqueraded as ‘truths’ or are merely accepted as facts in lieu of any serious scrutiny, or are protected by the blatant and stubborn refusal to question the facticity of that which is ‘dearly held’ to be true.
As for ‘there are no separate selves in the first place’ you are talking of the spiritual belief that we have a false self who feels separate or thinks itself to be separate (ego in spiritual jargon). The spiritual Truth is that if we dissolve this identity and become our true self who feels unity or oneness or God, or whatever, then that new self lives in a state of Nirvana, Oneness, Wholeness, Unity, Timelessness or whatever. This cunning shift of identity, called Enlightenment, Awakening, Freedom, Liberation, or whatever, is not an elimination of the psychological or psychic identity – nor does it claim to be, if you read any spiritual offerings with a clear eye.
RESPONDENT: We believe it is a comfort to ‘know’ or ‘believe’ that we ‘understand’, and feel a great deal of discomfort in facing the fear of ‘not knowing’.
For myself, no matter what words are woven together from the mind, no matter how deeply thought out ... it’s all noise. We want to commune-i-cate and think we need words to do so, but have you ever sat in silence in the forest?
PETER: Indeed, and I presume that what you are indicating is that one can then commune with Nature, to feel that one is not, after all, alone but that there is a Higher Power, be it Mother Earth, God, What Is, Love or whatever other name. It is indeed a deep feeling of connectedness and one’s psychological self or ego can diminish and temporarily disappear while one’s psychic self or soul is deeply nourished, vindicated and expanded. These experiences of ‘who we really are’ and of our connectedness to the Whole are so overwhelming as to appear very real, overarchingly convincing and revealing of the true meaning of our existence. These affective experiences are purely personal and ‘self’-centred and are culturally/spiritually influenced such that an Environmentalist feels Mother Earth, a Buddhist feels Buddha in his heart, a Jew feels Jehovah, a spiritual follower feels gratitude to his or her Master or teacher, etc. It is these bodiless, affective-only experiences that are upheld as the ultimate proof for the existence of a God or a Higher Power and have consequently kept Humanity enthralled and entrapped in the belief of a Higher Power in the universe ... and a Greater Meaning for ‘my’ existence.
The spiritual practice of meditation mimics these affective experiences in nature and the practice of closing one’s eyes is specifically designed to eventually eliminate all sensory input from the physical world in order to gain an inner bodiless experience of ‘who’ I really am. (...)
RESPONDENT: I have had the incredible good fortune to come across a few master weavers in my time and can see that they are living in that Silent, thought-free, belief-less Conscious Awareness of WHAT IS. What is being communicated is more than words, beyond concepts of time or theories of creation. To those who only hear words, these ONES are easily dismissed ... to those who experience the cessation of thought as a result of ‘hearing’ beyond the words, there is eternal gratitude and (dare I say it?) LOVE.
PETER: I find it significant that you said ‘those who only hear words ... are easily dismissed’ which means that it is impossible to question what is said and also that it doesn’t matter what is said. Belief in such platitudes is exactly why religion has had such a stranglehold over Humanity.
Well, I for one dare to question, for religious/spiritual belief and affectations have wreaked havoc on this planet for far to long to be mindlessly dismissed by such hackneyed clichés.
There is no need to take what I write personally, for these words are not for the faithful but for those who have doubts about religion being the answer to Humanity’s woes. (...)
PETER: Gods and God-men, shamans and priests have forever demanded that their followers treat what they are saying and the energy they are giving out as a mystery – never to be doubted, never to be questioned, never to be unravelled, never to be debunked. If one dares to do so, one is threatened with the withdrawal of the Guru’s love, incurring the wrath of God, and suffering the scorn and anger of the mob. So far, if anyone was dissatisfied, doubting or questioning, they have had no alternative but to shift allegiances in the spiritual world or simply give up and return to the real world of grim reality. There is now a third alternative.
PETER: Gods and God-men, shamans and priests have forever demanded that their followers believe that what they are offering and the energy they are giving out is miraculous. Thus, every follower is led to believe that their God or, by proxy their Guru, is responsible for all the astounding life-forms and happenings on this planet and all of the majesty that is evident in the physical universe. Christians believe it is all God’s work, Hindus believe it is all Brahma’s work, Environmentalists believe that this planet itself is a living-entity populated by living spirits, the ancient Greeks believed the heavens were a battle ground for the Gods, Buddhists believe the physical universe is all a dream-like illusion, many even believe that their God will one day wipe out the planet and the universe in an act of vengeance. I could go on, but I think you might have got my gist. I don’t find these fairy stories to be miraculous at all, I find them to be ancient fear-ridden puerile nonsense.
I experience the actual physical universe to be a place of wonder, amazement and marvel. The universe is infinite – there is no outside to it, no other-worlds – and the physical universe is eternal – there was no beginning, there is no end. There was no Creator, there will be no Destroyer. There is no Higher Power, there is no-One in charge.
The actual world is the miracle – to claim it is the work of a higher power is but spirit-ual twaddle. To believe otherwise is to forever shut oneself off from the opportunity of ‘self’-lessly experiencing the perfection and purity of the actual world.
RESPONDENT: Taking no position = The ending of all fixed ideas and defensiveness.
PETER: This sounds as though it is the advice of someone who doesn’t want you to make your mind up about anything. This theory is not applied in the world of practical things and events. We humans take many positions. Where we work, where we live, who we live with, what we wear, what we eat, what we want to believe and what we chose not to, what car we drive, what computer program we use, etc. And yet, when it comes to the most vital questions as to human existence, the universe and what it is to be a human being, we are extolled by the Wise Ones to abandon taking a position? Should Galileo not have taken a position, should Columbus have never left Spain, should Pasteur not have taken a position, should Darwin not have taken a position, should LeDoux not take a position? Why should you not take a position about your life?
In the spiritual world taking a position in support of a belief is deemed highly desirable and is rewarded and welcomed by other like-minded believers, but taking a position based on facts and empirical scientific evidence has always been roundly condemned by the church, for facts are anathema to believers. All of the great leaps forward that have increased human safety, comfort, leisure and pleasure have been resisted by spiritual believers and it is only when empiricism broke from the church in the Middle Ages that intelligence began to hold sway over fear-ridden superstition and arcane belief.
Should you take a position based on fact and discard belief you too will run the gauntlet of scorn, derision and ostracization for that is the price to pay for walking upright and free in the world; but the rewards are far in excess of the spiritual ideals for they are actual, tangible, palpable and ever-present. Once you get a taste of what is actual, any synthetic feeling is seen as a paltry second-best.
RESPONDENT: Not knowing: To acknowledge the fact that there still is very much that our human minds can’t grasp and that we might never comprehend fully. To be open for the unthinkable possibility.
PETER: This physical universe is infinite – as big as it gets – and eternal – without a beginning or end – so it is inconceivable that humans will ever know all there is to know. Already the published discoveries are so much more than is possible for any one person to know. Even in one field of science or practical endeavour the amount of study, research and papers published would exceed the capacity of any one person to comprehend, let alone absorb.
But 3,500 years on from the ancient Wise Ones we do know that praying to God, or believing in and surrendering to God-men, has not brought peace to earth, quite the contrary.
Up until now spiritual teachings have been impossible to question openly and sensibly for they were jealously guarded by the priests and their fervent followers, and even then to abandon belief would have meant going back to a God-less existence in the ‘real’ world, bereft of any hope. Thus it is that people usually swap beliefs – Western for Eastern, Heavenly God for Mother Earth, etc. – rather than stop believing in God by whatever name.
Thanks to the Internet we can now conduct our own independent research as to the facticity of Ancient Wisdom and trace it back to its original teachings, we can compare the many Truths on offer and stop the game of pretending that not knowing is a sign of wisdom rather than of stubborn ignorance. There is simply no excuse for not knowing what the Truth is, and when this is discovered each of us is then capable of taking a position as to whether to keep believing in it or abandoning it.
We humans now have enough information at our fingertips to stop ‘not knowing’ and begin to know about life, the universe and what it is to be a human being. This knowledge, when combined with the experiential knowledge of the human potentiality as experienced in a pure consciousness experience, is the key to freedom from the human condition.
‘To be open for the unthinkable possibility’ usually means to be open to God, by whatever name, or ‘to be open’ to all sorts of spurious meta-physical theories, such as space-time continuums, dark matter, black holes, cyclic time, time reversing universes, parallel universe, etc.
RESPONDENT: These qualities/values can be very useful when investigating in a serious manner. I don’t think they contradict with empirical studies either, they could be used when formulating theses and in theoretical science for example. They might not be that useful in every execution of a study in the laboratory, then it’s of course our rational ‘side’ of our minds that are good at structuring and comparison that rule.
PETER: It is our fellow human beings, the practical scientists, chemists, engineers, explorers and the like that have given we humans very useful things. The Gurus, philosophers, theoretical scientists and the like have given us nothing but theories, beliefs, concepts, ideas, scenarios, dreams, nightmares, hope and hopelessness.
As I began to abandon the spiritual world, I serendipitously discovered someone who had abandoned Enlightenment and had worked out a ruthlessly effective empirical method for eliminating one’s social identity and all of one’s instinctual passions. Give me something that works over an ideal or a theory any day.
RESPONDENT: Don’t you think that these qualities actually could help in experiencing the PCE? If one is going to be able to perceive life directly as it really is instead of trying to force reality upon us (ASC) I think that we have tremendous use of humility and openness.
PETER: If one begins by feeling humble and then goes searching for an experience of something other than grim reality, I suspect one will end up finding a Greater Reality to feel humble to and feelings of gratitude will come sweeping in. By being ‘open for the unthinkable possibility’ any form of impassioned imagination is possible.
However, if your search is for purity and perfection and you keep whittling away at your beliefs, then one day while wistfully contemplating and softly relaxing, you might notice a sensuous delight, a vibrancy in things around you, a perfection and purity, a silence and infinitude beyond imagination. But be careful not to seize the experience as yours or you will feel the chest swell and the head swoon and in will flood passionate imagination to replace actual delight.
RESPONDENT: Even though life is factual, both you and I know that there are some obstacles that prevent us from living life as it is, our instinctual programming for one.
PETER: Because your existence as a flesh and blood body is factual the obstacles that prevent you from being happy and harmless have a factual grounding. The spiritual seekers who went before us were right about one thing – ‘who’ we think we are is illusionary. They dared not question ‘who’ they felt they were deep down inside, for to consider eliminating that was death itself – extinction, not transcendence. To challenge this instinctual self is to release a cocktail of chemicals producing fear and dread or, if salvation is imagined, ecstasy and euphoria. The Enlightened ones chose ecstasy and euphoria and their miraculous salvation drives them to be saviours of mankind. Thus is born yet another God-man and yet another religion if he musters enough followers by his charismatic Presence.
Both ‘who’ you think you are and ‘who’ you feel you are the obstacles that prevent you from being happy and harmless but we all know that from the peak experiences we have had. I found it was simply a matter of having the courage and dignity to stop denying that knowing.
RESPONDENT: I think there is great subtlety to these matters and therefore I think it is very essential to be open and not try to control life in anyway. I mean, doesn’t self-immolation imply that we’re able to give up ALL our limiting ideas about life and ourselves in a sense so that we can live the actuality of life. You said that a PCE can often be drug related and that also implies that we need to let go of ourselves and let life really show itself.
PETER: I see nothing subtle about the animal instinctual passions in humans when our normal methods of controlling them break down. Unless this fundamental genetic programming is addressed in our search for freedom, peace and happiness, any attempts to let go of control will end up as in the traditional delusions generated by the ‘good’ instinctual passions running amok.
One needs to dismantle one’s social identity – all the beliefs, morals and ethics that have been instilled in us since birth, and then take a clear-eyed look at the instinctual passions in operation in ourselves – both the tender passions and the fierce passions – in order to become actually free of the human condition.
PETER to No 11: You say, if by Agapé you mean DIVINE LOVE ... it is wasted on me. I am one of a only a handful of atheists on the planet.
RESPONDENT: Atheism is also a belief ... you also believe that there is no god just as theist believe that there is a god.
PETER: Now, my reply to your note.
I think you are looking for a ‘bet each way’ here. I have met many people who proclaim that they don’t believe in God, but a little digging reveals that they believe there is a ‘something’ – call it what you will – Energy, Source, Truth, Essence, Existence, Mother Earth, Aliens, That, or whatever. God, by whatever name you want to call it, is still a ‘something else’ and people rather have that belief than face the fact that one is alone as an independently functioning and operating human being – one of 5.8 billion who are currently on the planet. And that when I die, that is it ... dead, finished, obliterated, finished, ... compost.
The concept of God is a belief, not a fact.
RESPONDENT: It does not make any difference
PETER: As for it not making any difference, it is my experience that it makes a world of difference ... the difference is that one cannot be a mortal flesh and blood human being living in the actual physical universe if there is a something (ego and soul) that is inside you that is going to live on after physical death.
RESPONDENT: A real intelligent person would not have any beliefs. He would be a ‘seeker’ and at the same time rely on his own understanding and not believe.
PETER: Yes, but you said above that it does not matter whether you believe in God or not ...
You want a ‘bet each way’ ... which is the very thing that prevents us humans beings (as flesh and blood bodies only) from being fully here in the actual world and not seeking some Union or Oneness with the Divine as an escape route.
RESPONDENT: What doesn’t seem to be understood by Peter and Vineeto is that we all go, and we cannot go otherwise, in our own direction and pace.
PETER: On the contrary, I understand this as a common belief, both in the ‘normal’ world and the ‘spiritual’ world. In the normal world it comes in the form of ‘who do you think you are’ or you ‘go with the flow’ or ‘life wasn’t meant to be easy’. In the spiritual world it is enshrined in ‘Existence provides’ or ‘it is God’s will’ or ‘we are all Enlightened, we just don’t know it’ or ‘everything’s perfect anyway ...’
I had it very strongly and I was shocked out of it, firstly the death of my son aged 13, shortly followed by the death of the spiritual master that I followed. I then had a sense of urgency, such that I made becoming free my priority in life – and I wanted to be free, on this earth, in this lifetime. I found it increasingly difficult to believe in an afterlife or a God after the both deaths. I then simply put the ‘foot on the accelerator’ – I gave up waiting for Godot.
But I firmly acknowledge that while the perfection and purity of the actual world is ever-present, under our very noses, it will not be everyone who is interested to discover and experience it.
And fair enough too – we are, after all, becoming freer in a modern society. We now have access to a lot more information about life and, as such, are more free and able to decide for ourselves how we wish to live our lives.
PETER: What you are describing is the feeling of ‘coming home’, ‘realizing I am That’, finding my inner peace’, ‘finding God’ etc. The terminology varies between particular religions and spiritual philosophies but all point to an ‘inner’ peace and a ‘communion’ with some form of supreme being or energy. My experiences led me to challenge the belief in a supreme being and an after-life as well as my ‘inner’ experiences and spiritual identity – and this questioning led me inexorably to the actual world of purity and perfection, delight and innocence. And the amazing thing is, it is under my very nose as it were, all ‘I’ – both ego and soul – had to do was get out of the way.
RESPONDENT: You relate to my experience as a belief. It isn’t a belief for me.
PETER: I fully understand. When I was on the spiritual path I had many experiences that re-inforced the feelings I was having of ‘coming home’, of having found ‘peace at last’. And to consider what I was experiencing as a belief was, at the time, inconceivable. It was only when the master died and I really saw that I was in an Eastern Religion, that I began to see that I believed in the Master and His teachings. Exactly as a Buddhist believes in Buddha and his Teachings and exactly as a Christian believes in Jesus and His Teachings. It was not even then a great problem – I could just move on if I wanted to ... but then I realized that the passionate believers are the very ones who fight the religious wars still raging on this planet. Then I started to question what it is that we believed and why we humans need to believe ... I use the word ‘we’ deliberately as I was enquiring into the Human Condition i.e. common to all, not special in ‘me’.
RESPONDENT: First problem – you are a believer, don’t believe all you hear.
PETER: Which is why I checked out the facts of the situation. A fact is a fact, merely to believe anyone or anything blindly is to be gullible. (...)
RESPONDENT: and secretly but obviously you still want to be a part of it, at least virtually.
PETER: Hardly! Look I am regarded as traitor, heretic, ungrateful, attention-seeking, guru-like, evil, a blood-sucking pariah, etc. etc. Or I am shunned and ostracized, but all this is to be expected, as I am challenging cherished and dearly held beliefs of Sannyasins. Becoming free is to get free from beliefs; so what anyone else believes about me is of no consequence nor does it affect me. It is good to be free of the need to believe. Give me facts any time. They are a much more sound basis for living as a human being. They allow common sense to operate freely, such that I am now both happy and harmless.
PETER to No’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and Here-now: Then came Pune 2, and delicious years of worship in the Ashram, architect/builder for the Samadhi, meditation and groups, and then He died. I continued on devotionally for some 2 years, but found myself following a dead Master – something that was at odds with my understanding that when a Master dies the formation of a Religion is the inevitable result. Sure enough, one night in White Robe it hit me like a ton of bricks as I was shouting ‘YA–HOO’ to an empty chair. Is this what it had all come to? This was undoubtedly religious practice, church if you like, the organization with its own rules, ethics and morals was a Religion, the Ashram was Mecca, the Samadhi a holy shrine, and Sannyas a world wide religious-social club.
Such was my pride and loyalty that it took another year or two before I finally began to look for something fresh and new in the spiritual world and tried out a few other scenes. None was satisfactory, but I did begin to gain a broader vision of the spiritual world. Finally, I realized that the Spiritual is nothing more than Eastern Religion, that in fact I had only traded believing in Western Religion for believing in an Eastern Religion. And all of it merely ‘that Old-time Religion’, to quote from the song. Peter to No’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and Here-now
RESPONDENT: ???? pride? what has pride to do with that? and loyalty to whom? your girlfriend? Somebody ever asked you to be loyal, who was it?
PETER: At the very core of religion is the belief in the meta-physical i.e. another world other than the physical. This world is the world of spirits and Gods, energies and auras, good and bad. Given that these are all things that can only be experienced affectively (by feeling), it takes a good deal of faith, trust and hope to maintain the belief in something which is not physical. Many people who did not believe in Rajneesh saw him as just another Indian Guru and others (like the American Christians) saw him as evil. Belief in someone or something demands loyalty and gratitude, usually demanded unquestioningly.
Along with loyalty and gratitude comes pride, it’s all part of the same package. The man who is loyal to his country is proud of his country, and will die for his country (... or Religion, as at the Ranch).
RESPONDENT: And did you think about what would be if, for example, some person starts to present him self as Jesus Christ (for the second time amongst us). What is the miracle, which he must perform in order to people start believing in him. In this moment we have a great number of miracle men all around the world. In comparison with them Christ would be nothing but a cheap magician.
PETER: From where I see things, as long as he/she has God on their side they can promise anything and people will still believe. Christians still await the second coming. Buddhists await the return of Maitreya, and Rajneeshees for the new man.
RESPONDENT: Maybe your intentions are sincere, but then how can you expect from the people to just believe you and take you for granted only on the basis of dead words presented somewhere on the Internet?
PETER: I said in the Afterword to my journal, and here in this mailing list, not to merely believe what I am saying. It is such a poor way to live one’s life on the basis of believing what other people say.
For me, facts and common sense beat belief and feelings any day. If I was running a business and wanted to be successful I would rely on facts and common sense. I simply applied the same sense to being here as a flesh and blood human being and then the magic really began to happen.
RESPONDENT: For the rest of your discourse, sales pitch, what ever it is... you certainly make being a Sannyasin...no you never said Sannyasin, did you? You make being a Rajneeshee sound repulsive and I guess being one could be! (depending on the dreamer)
PETER: Being a follower or believer in Osho is no more or less ‘repulsive’ than believing in any other God or God-man. The major trouble with believing in Gods is that people gather in groups to do it and then fight each other as to whose God is speaking the Truth, who is Right, who is the Best, who is the Only God, and this results in all the religious wars, persecutions, repressions, moralities, superiorities, etc. So my comments are not personally directed at Osho or Sannyasins, but are about the whole spiritual world. It is just that I spent 15 years with Rajneesh, so I know that particular version very well.
RESPONDENT: Now had you tried sannyas perhaps you’d be having a different story.
PETER: Well I only tried it for about 15 years, some must be clocking up 25 or more by now. Have you tried longer, or are you intending to get Enlightened soon? Do you have a time frame? (...)
RESPONDENT: So you did whatever you did for 15 years... What is the significance of comparing it with some who may have been 25 years or whatever I have been doing?? As I see it, this comparison does not follow logic. What about the millions of people who have never been Rajneeshees or Sannyasins. Do they then become the wise one by your equation and reasoning?
PETER: I have told you of my aims in being a Sannyasin, have written of my experiences and now put it out so others can abuse me freely because I have dared to question the Sacred beliefs and Ancient wisdom. I am always curious as to what others are searching for, do they have any aims in life, and if they are searching do they have a time frame or seek specific results and changes in themselves. The other curious thing that happens is because I ‘dare’ to question the existence of God, then I am seen as being either a Guru or a Devil. And this is despite the fact that I firmly state that Gods, Gurus, Devils and Demons dwell only in the passionate domain of human imagination. That it is all a gigantic fairy-tale, only made ‘real’ by the re-telling for millennia.
PETER: Have you ever tried to write a personal story about yourself without the first person pronoun I?
PETER: What do you call yourself then?
RESPONDENT: No 11, this one, this writer...
PETER: Well I must admit you (sorry the writer) have thrown me (oops ... a personal pronoun) into a quandary. In the interests of keeping us on the same level in that the writer (meaning you) doesn’t think that I am being superior or egotistical, I will adopt your terminology. By the way, does the writer (meaning you ... suppose we call you writer 1 for clarity) adopt the terminology ‘the speaker’ when the writer 1 is speaking to others. Krishnamurti used this terminology while lecturing.
PETER: So, one who is truly free is one who is not merely pretending, I take it from the first bit. There are about 6,000 religions who all believe that they have the ‘true’ version of Truth, or Liberation, or Freedom.
RESPONDENT: The operative word is ‘believe’... one who knows has no belief.
PETER: So the writer 2 (meaning me) take it that the writer 1 ‘knows’. Maybe the writer 1 can tell the writer 2 what it is that the writer 1 knows. Or is it that it can’t be put into words. It seems that we (writer 1 and writer 2) cannot communicate at all then.
Knowing is such a woolly concept to writer 2.
RESPONDENT: The truth is such a woolly concept it seems to me.
PETER: That’s funny, the writer 2 said that, and yet the writer 1 posted it as though the writer 1 had written it.
PETER: I take it then that you believe there is Divine Love, or are you saying that The Divine (God) is a fact. I take it that you are saying you believe in God.
RESPONDENT: Why would your take it that one who knows would have a belief? It is illogical.
PETER: The writer 2 has got it at last .. a sudden realization. Whatever it is that the writer 1 ‘knows’ is a fact and not a belief. And whatever it is that writer 1 knows cannot be put into words ... and therefore the truth (sorry, what the writer 1 knows) cannot possibly be challenged, because it is a fact.
PETER: A Gnostic is one who claims to have ‘superior knowledge’ of spirit-ual things (Godly matters) and therefore believes in Gods and spirits.
RESPONDENT: Why do you continue to equate ‘knowledge’ with ‘belief’? Gnosis is not the same as belief at all. Do you know the experience of ‘sex’ or after having had it, do you believe in it?
PETER: The writer 2 has got it now as the writer 2 said above. Whatever writer 1 ‘knows’ is a fact and not a belief. It is getting really clear to the writer 2 by now. The writer 1 seems to have a different definition of Gnosis from both the Britannica and the Oxford, but the writer 1 ‘knows’. Maybe the writer 1 should set Britannica and Oxford straight on his knowing.
PETER: After your last posts I thought you had disappeared over the proverbial cyber-hill. I like it that you have come back and challenge what I am saying. What Richard, Vineeto and I are proposing is new, radical and preposterous to people – to those in the ‘spiritual’ world and those in the ‘normal world’. To point to a third world – an actual world of perfection and purity, that is ever present, right here, right now. It deserves every challenge and scrutiny.
RESPONDENT: Challenging one’s belief systems and not believing anything until it is your own personal experience is a worthwhile thing to do.
PETER: Agreed. I would only add, after ‘taking care of business’ such as shelter and food, it is the only worthwhile thing to do – if one is to become free of the Human Condition. Anything that stood in the way of my being happy and harmless became my business, my obsession.
RESPONDENT: But this has nothing to do with going beyond the mind’s frontiers, it just gives the mind something entertaining to do while life goes on!
PETER: For me, once I realised that I didn’t want to be a God-man and that I didn’t believe in an after-life (a better place ‘somewhere else’), the spiritual world of feeling love and God began to crumble. Then, one day, it dawned on me that I was actually alone in the world, and if anyone was going to get me free it was me. And the only tool ‘I’ had was my intelligence. And what I discovered was that there is a third I – I as this flesh and blood body.
It is this third I, this flesh and blood body only, that is able to think and reflect and sensately experience the purity and perfection of the actual world but – and this is the crunch – only when ‘I’ who I think I am (ego) and ‘I’ who I feel I am (soul) depart the scene.
RESPONDENT: Because this experience of challenging one’s belief systems is so entertaining, one does not need to watch soap operas on TV to escape life’s dull moments.
PETER: I don’t know if I would call it entertaining. For me it was often times scary, bewildering, challenging, dis-orienting, fearful, thrilling, and down-right insane and it required stubbornness, bloody-mindedness, nerves of steel, pig-headedness, but above all a sincere intent.
As for soap operas ... have you noticed that we humans most like love stories (sorrow) and thrillers or ‘action’ films (malice). Our entertainment is watching other humans ‘playing’ at being sorrowful or malicious – the Human Condition.
RESPONDENT: If you go beyond the mind first all the stupid belief systems are exposed for what they are!
PETER: Again, for me, I came to see that the Eastern religions and philosophies tackle the mind (ego) only to give full reign to the heart (soul). This has the effect of completely stifling and denying any clear intelligent functioning of the brain. This stifling causes the mind to retreat into the fantasy world of blissful and divine feelings and taken to it’s extreme can result in an altered state of consciousness (ASC) whereby one becomes Love or God. The second ‘I’ of Ramana Maharshi’s fame, the Self, is a mere delusion – a self-aggrandizement.
RESPONDENT: Giving people, things to do with their minds is a waste of time!
PETER: The most intelligent thing in the universe is the human brain. The technological achievements wrought by this intelligence never ceases to astound and amaze me. This physical universe, in its perfection, purity, infinitude and fairy-tale like magic is indeed a paradise beyond our fantasies. And yet we humans feel sorrow and malice, sad and lonely, separate and alien. And the remedy to this – the spirit-ual way – is to cultivate ‘feelings’ of bliss, Love, and Divinity.
What about questioning ‘feelings’ themselves – the passions and feelings that we kill and die for, the instinctual urges that take us over in fits of rage or depression, the instinctual needs to belong to a group, blindly follow and trust a leader, the need to belong?
RESPONDENT: Ask yourself the question ‘Who is thinking?’, what is beyond the mind?
PETER: If you ask this question you end up with the Buddha Nature, God, Love Agapé, That, Self, The Universe, Existence, or whatever other name. It’s funny isn’t it that one always discovers one is ‘God’ at heart.
By asking ‘what’ am I, one discovers a different answer – the third I, this flesh and blood body and definitely mortal – free of the illusion of ego and the delusion of soul.
RESPONDENT: Nothing else matters except discovering ‘THAT’!
PETER: It matters not at all what we humans discover, feel, experience, discover, proclaim as the ‘truth’ or the ‘way’. Nothing has fundamentally changed on the planet – there is still depression, loneliness, grief, despair, murders, rapes and suicides – even in the spiritual world.
So far, there have only been two choices, remain ‘normal’ or become ‘spiritual’, and I am pointing out that a third alternative now exists.
Peter’s & Richard’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.