Selected Correspondence Peter
Body and Health
RESPONDENT to No 66: You really know how to have yourself on don’t you mate? and the clergy recognised it too. You have all the credentials. Top quality gullible, hypnotizable, narcissistic, brown nosed, copy cat stock. I would not be surprised if you are growing a big ol’ granddaddy beard as we speak. Just like Peter did. Ugh.
PETER: I see that it might well be time to set the copycat beard myth straight. I had a full beard some 15 years before I even met Richard and the reason I grew it was that I found it a waste of time to keep mowing my face in order to stop the hair that grew naturally from showing.
I happened to read recently that there was a crusade against beard growing at the beginning of the 20th century on the basis that beards were unhealthy in that they were a source of the epidemics of disease that regularly cut swathes through the population, in other words, it wasn’t that men chose to shave every day, they kowtowed to social pressures from righteous ‘health’-promoters. It’s fascinating to see much the same thing happening nowadays with regard to cigarette smoking – a fear-fuelled crusade waged against cigarette smoking in ignorance of the actual causes of the many diseases it allegedly causes and to see this crusade continue to be even more strident despite the fact that not only are the actual causes of these diseases are beginning to be discovered but that targeted cures and preventive immunizations have being developed and are already being put in practice.
Just on a more general note as to the thrust of your comment, I always find it somewhat perverse that people discover the Actual Freedom Trust website, apparently find some attraction in what they read such that they bother to subscribe to this mailing list and then proceed to castigate or lampoon anyone and everyone who follows Richard’s lead, in other words anyone who is putting the method he used to become free of the human condition into practice.
But then again, it’s obvious that humanity at large would have a vested interest in Richard being a never-to-be-repeated freak of nature.
RESPONDENT: You guys are pathetic. The amount of time and verbage you waste protecting your ‘precious’ self on a list like this is beyond stupid.
PETER: I didn’t regard my response as a waste of time at all. By and large I tend to let a good deal of the falsehoods and beat ups that pass for criticism on this list pass me by, but the reason I chose to respond to this comment was that I could succinctly point out that it was false in a single sentence. The rest of the ‘verbage’ was to do with the nature of the cycles of fashions as to what is currently believed to be right and wrong or good and bad.
By the way, if you think I am protecting something, it stands to reason you must feel I am being attacked – the question then would be why correspondents choose to do so on a list specifically set up to discuss the means of actualizing peace on earth.
PETER: When it first struck me that meditation – sitting in a quiet place with eyes closed and retreating from the world of the senses in order to allow one’s mind to imagine all sorts of things – is in fact going ‘there’, the antithesis of being here in the world of the senses, I was astounded. I clearly saw that spiritualism was about retreating from, or dissociating from, being here, whereas actualism is about being here – being here doing whatever I am doing now, so much so that there is no separation, or distinction, between the doing of it and what’s being done.
RESPONDENT: Whatever your opinions are about meditation being a tool for realisation you cannot deny the health benefits of stress reduction to pick one example.
PETER: Of course not. Dissociation is a well-known way of coping with stress and its relative effectiveness is well-documented. I practiced dissociation for 17 years and it was a darn sight better than being a participant in the senseless, grim and desperate battle for survival that goes on in the real world. Then I serendipitously came across someone who had managed to free himself of the human condition in toto – both from the grim real world and the dissociative spiritual world. I found the offer too tempting and my inclination to dissociate fell by the wayside the more I was happy being here and the more I was able to live and work harmoniously with all of my fellow human beings.
RESPONDENT: Hello to everyone and everybody,
PETER: Matter, the stuff of which a thing is made, is commonly classified into three types – animal, vegetable or mineral.
If you asked a biologist, a doctor, a zoologist, a microbiologist, a mother or a teacher whether animal matter is passive, as in inert or inactive, he or she no doubt would look at you askance. That animal matter is ‘not merely passive’ is surely obvious but the extent to which it is not passive is literally breathtaking.
As an example, the smallest unit retaining the fundamental properties of life are cells, the ‘atoms’ of the living world. A single cell is often a complete organism in itself, such as a bacterium or yeast. Other cells, by differentiating in order to acquire specialized functions and cooperating with other specialized cells, become the building blocks of large multicellular organisms as complex as the human being. It would require a sheet of about 10,000 human cells to cover the head of a pin, and each human being is composed of more than 75,000,000,000,000 cells.
As an individual unit the cell is capable of digesting its own nutrients, providing its own energy, and replicating itself, in order to produce succeeding generations. It can be viewed as an enclosed vessel composed of even smaller units that serve as its skin, skeleton, brain, and digestive tract. Within this cell vessel innumerable chemical reactions take place simultaneously, all of them controlled so that they contribute to the sustenance and procreation of the cell. In a multicellular organism cells specialize to perform different functions. In order to do this each cell keeps in constant communication with its neighbours. As it receives nutrients from and expels wastes into its surroundings, it adheres to and cooperates with other cells. Cooperative assemblies of similar cells form tissues, and a cooperation between tissues in turn forms organs, the functional units of an organism.
In other words, the flesh and blood body known as No 32 is a cooperative assembly of cells that has developed from the multiplication of cells produced by the union of a male sex cell and a female sex cell. One day sufficient of these cells will cease to function as living organisms causing the flesh and blood organism known as No 32 to cease to function as a living organism. The dead cells that constitute the organism known as No 32 will then decompose, becoming the minerals of the earth again, and those minerals in turn will to help nourish or form other cells, be they vegetate or animate. The matter that is this planet is in fact in a constant state of being cycled between animal, vegetable and mineral – i.e. matter is ‘not merely passive’. Information on cellular life forms gleaned from Encyclopaedia Britannica
If you asked a botanist, a horticulturist or a gardener whether vegetate matter is passive, as in inert or inactive, again the response would be predictable. Having done a little bit of gardening and a good deal of tree planting in my life I am constantly amazed at the variety and virulence, prodigiousness and persistence of vegetate matter on this planet. Indeed scientific research has revealed vegetate matter that uses chemo-synthesis rather than photo-synthesis as its energy source together with many species that blur the distinction between vegetate and mineral matter and between vegetate and animal matter.
Similarly, if you asked a geologist, a meteorologist, a mineralogist, a chemist, an engineer or an architect whether mineral matter is passive, the answer again can only be no. It is obvious that inanimate matter is ‘not merely passive’ when in a gaseous state – the ever-changing atmosphere that surrounds this planet consists of a mixture of gases, water vapour and minute solid and liquid particles in suspension – this ever-changingness is what we humans call the ‘weather’. Equally it is obvious that inanimate matter is ‘not merely passive’ when in a liquid state – the very water of this watery planet is a constant hydrologic cycle of evaporation, movement within the atmosphere, precipitation, the downhill flow of river water, lakes, groundwater, ocean currents, glaciers, ice flows and icecaps.
What is not so obvious to many is that mineral matter in its solid state is also anything but passive and this is so because of the vast time spans involved in the movements and changes of mineral matter. Geological materials – the solid stuff the earth is made of – consist of mineral crystals continuously being cycled through various forms of host rock types – igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary. This ongoing process – commonly referred to as the rock cycle – is dependant on temperature, pressure, changes in environmental conditions within the earth’s core, within the earth’s crust and at its surface, and time. So slow is the general rate of change that geological changes are measured in millions of years, although events such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions bear instantaneous evidence as to the intensity of change.
I recently saw a computer graphic representation of the palaeogeographical changes of the European continent that have been mapped as occurring over several billion years. Whilst the time span is so enormous as to be almost inconceivable, what could be readily seen from the speed-up graphic was the constant rising and falling – literally a wrinkling and buckling – of the earths crust, an example of matter being ‘not merely passive’ on a scale that is astonishing. As if this were not proof enough, one needs only to consider the extent of changes and timescales involved in the study of astro-geology – the scientific discipline concerned with the geological aspects of all of the mineral matter in this infinite and eternal universe.
Whilst the fact that matter is ‘not merely passive’ should be patently obvious to modern-day humans, this was not so for those who lived in ancient times when ignorance of the actual nature of the matter of the universe led to the fear-ridden fables, superstitions and beliefs that all matter, be it animate or inanimate, was infused by good and evil spirits. It is obvious that if one ever aspires to live in the actual world, the first necessary step is to stop giving credibility to any of the ancient fables, superstitions and spirit beliefs that constitute so-called ‘ancient wisdom’.
PETER to Gary: Another program traced the history of medical care and it was fascinating to see the extraordinary changes that have happened in only the last two centuries. The beginning of fighting disease and illness came with increased nutrition and cleanliness. The next advance was in anaesthetics which enabled surgeons to get inside the living body to make repairs. The next advance was in vaccination as prevention and targeting disease with drugs to effect cures. The present century was heralded as being the biological century where scientists will not only prevent and cure but find ways to actually eliminate disease, genetic weaknesses and cellular mutations.
What was most revealing was that this advance has happened so quickly – only a relatively short time ago, the shamans, witchdoctors, blood-letters and snake-oil sellers held sway in the world of healing, with negligible results. Life spans were half those of nowadays, infant mortality common, pestilence and plague endemic and disease was generally attributed to evil spirits and alien energies. The recentness of this scientific medical revolution goes a long way to explaining why the shamans and snake-oil sellers, who are rife so-called alternative medicine, still have such power and influence.
GARY: This morning, as I was preparing my usual cup of coffee, I became aware that in the past month or so, my intake of caffeine has been sharply increased, so much so in fact that I am wondering if that may be part of the reason I am experiencing anxiety. Caffeine has been a trigger for me in the past and it is an insidious kind of thing – it kind of sneaks up on me without my realizing it. So I am planning on cutting down on the coffee and see what happens.
PETER: During my spiritual years I dutifully followed most of the dietary beliefs and social mores associated with New Dark Age spiritualism. I dutifully became a vegetarian during these years, as this was the expected norm in the group I was involved with. However, as I became free of spiritual belief, I also became free of the need to blindly follow the herd. I quickly resumed meat eating as I personally find it the most flavoursome way of getting protein and I also developed a connoisseur’s delight in fresh brewed coffee. There is a general poo-poohing of coffee-drinking in the local NDA community and much hype about its health consequences. Given that coffee drinking is so wide-spread in so many countries in the world with no discernable health consequences as opposed to non-coffee drinking populations, I have put the general anti-coffee drinking hype into the not-proven, scare-mongering myth category. Coffee drinking then becomes a personal preference because I enjoy the taste of good coffee and I have no adverse reactions to caffeine. I have sometimes noticed a rush after a particularly excellent cup, but then again, I sometimes get a similar rush from a particularly good piece of fish, duck, ham, fruit, etc., not to mention the sensual pleasure of sex. Perhaps this rush could be classified as a brief sensory overload as it is physically based and not emotionally based.
The whole area of distinguishing and separating emotional reactions and the associated chemical reactions from peak sensate experiences and bountiful sensual enjoyment is a fascinating field of exploration. To experience this change of focus of your awareness from ‘self’-centred affective-chemical to pure sensate-sensual will become more and more interesting as you eliminate more of the normal emotional reactions that act to distort, pervert and obscure the sensual delight of the world we actually live in. As more and more of ‘me’, the spoiler, is progressively eliminated, I began to increasingly directly experience the paradisaical nature of this planet we humans live on. The local supermarket becomes a cornucopia of taste with delicious things to eat, almost jumping off the shelves at me. I swim through the air when walking downtown – sometimes moist and heavy with tropical scents, sometimes brisk, sparkling and effervescent. My flat is a comfortable cave, so chock a block full of comfort and pleasure that it alone satisfies all of my needs.
The very things, objects, implements, appliances and electronic toys become fascinating things – the matter of the universe. Everything on this planet is fashioned from the animal, vegetable or mineral of this planet. Nothing is experienced as alien or unnatural, separate from or different than me, this flesh and blood body. This flesh and blood body is, in fact, animate matter of this planet. I am an earthling, created from the joining of a sperm and an egg of other earthlings, grown and sustained by consuming animal, vegetable and mineral matter of this very same planet. What I am, however, is not only animate matter, as in animal, but what I am is conscious animate matter, bristling with sensory receptors, which also allows me to not only experience the rich lingering mouth-filling flavour of a fresh brewed cup of coffee ... but to thoroughly enjoy the sensuousness of it.
And to think I was socially and instinctually conditioned to constantly complain about, and even resent, being here and that I once believed in the traditional sop to this conditioning by constantly being grateful to some God-man or non-existent mythical God, force or energy ... It does seem more than a little strange that I once believed all this crap.
PETER to Gary: I would like to take the opportunity to post a bit about another set of beliefs that fuels much anger and anxiety within the human condition – those related to health and healing. Whilst these beliefs have never been a major concern for me, I am well aware that beliefs around health issues are central to countless people’s lives.
Many people who believe in so-called ‘alternative medicine’ unquestioningly accept that following restrictive diet regimes, imbibing herbal concoctions, invoking healing spirits or undertaking mystical rituals can not only alleviate and cure illness and disease but can even prevent their onset in the first place. Those who hold to these beliefs invariably expend considerable time, effort and money, not to mention worry and anxiety, in a furtive and futile effort to ward off the evils of potential disease and inevitable death. Most of the current anthology of these beliefs are rooted in, or at least heavily influenced by, Eastern spiritualism and its long mystical traditions of cleansing, purifying and healing both body and soul through fasting, regimented dietary restrictions, imbibing herbs, plants and animal parts deemed to have magical qualities, indulging in mystical rituals and so on. The ancient spiritual roots of these beliefs also mean that the believers necessarily have an associated distrust and hatred of materialism in general and modern medical science in particular.
Most who believe in these ancient mystical healing methods passionately believe that people were healthier in ‘the good old days’ because the revered ancient ones lived a more ‘natural’, in-tune-with-God lifestyle. They doggedly hold to this belief despite the fact that the doubling in life expectancy in the last century was entirely due to the combination of material progress in living standards and the application of modern empirical medical science … and not to the preservation of primitive living standards and the application of ancient healing methods. These beliefs blind the followers to the fact that the application of modern medicines and technology in the last century has saved, improved and lengthened the lives of billions of people due to the almost complete elimination of hygiene related illnesses and infectious diseases across much of the globe.
This stunning progress has meant that an ever-increasing majority of the global population now live longer and healthier lives, which has meant more people becoming susceptible to diseases that naturally occur later in life – diseases such as cancer, organ failure and the like. With this recent focus on treating the diseases of middle and old age in the second half of last century, those who are now living longer and healthier lives are reaping the rewards of human effort and ingenuity. The cure rates of an ever-increasing number of diseases are rising, their death rates are falling and the prevention and elimination of many diseases is now feasible. If one needs more evidence of the shortcomings of ‘natural’ primitive lifestyles and the failure of ancient spiritual healing methods, one only needs to look at the fact that in undeveloped ‘Third World’ countries infant mortality rates are higher, life expectancy is markedly less, illnesses due to dietary deficiencies are commonplace and infectious diseases are still prevalent.
And yet, despite the astounding progress and successes of the last century, faithful believers in ancient spiritual-mystical healing continue to rile against the evils of materialism and modern technology and traditional healers and sellers of snake oil continue to make extravagant and unproven claims for their healing practices and magical potions and the fearful and gullible continue to unquestioningly believe and have faith in their claims.
Many who hold to these ancient healing beliefs do so, not only with fervour and passion, but also with a good deal of hypocrisy. When push comes to shove, most very quickly turn to modern empirical medical science for help whenever accident, illness or disease produces a serious or life-threatening situation. Afterwards they are apt to blithely resume their riling against the very people and technology they had unabashedly turned to in time of need when their ‘alternative medicines’ failed them.
With hardly a blush, they continue their search for the latest fashionable belief, superstition or resurrected old-wives-tale about what diet, what new ‘natural’ product or what new healing process is claimed to prevent or cure what illnesses – a search which only serves to perpetuate their anxiety and stress as well as their anger and resentment. Not only do the believers suffer from having these feelings but the associated hormones produced are known to have detrimental effects on the immune system which only increases the susceptibility for un-healthiness and illness.
This persistence of the beliefs in ancient healing methods only attests to the vice-like grip that ancient tried and failed beliefs have within the human condition – despite their abysmal failure to produce tangible results and notwithstanding their propensity to be harmful, precious few people are willing to completely abandon their favourite pet-beliefs.
The reason I mention this is that ancient spirit-ual beliefs permeate all facets of the human condition and currently none more so than in the fields of health and environment. The feedback thus far from those who have come across actualism indicates that some people think that by simply abandoning their belief in some God or other, or in some Godman or other, they are then free of spiritual belief. Whilst this first step is certainly a useful and beneficent beginning to becoming free of one aspect of the human condition, an actualist needs to dig much, much deeper than this if he or she wants to become genuinely happy and harmless and aspires to become actually free of the human condition.
The constant on-going investigation of one’s own psyche reveals the full extent of the human condition in action and understanding the human condition is the only way to become free of it.
PETER to Alan: Another fascinating fact to consider is that it was only in 1670 that Reiner de Graaf, a Dutch physician, discovered the follicles of the ovary in which the individual human egg cells are formed. This was the first factual evidence that human reproduction was the result of a fertilized egg in the female. One wonders what the theories and myths abounded before this discovery – that a ‘spirit’ entered the body of the female seems the most likely from the tales of Ancient Wisdom. And nil understanding that sex had anything to do with reproduction! No idea at all of the functioning of the human body, let alone instinctual programming and its pivotal role in human behaviour. Even after Graaf’s time, many people argued that inside the sperm was a miniature human being, ready and waiting to grow to eventually emerge into the world. Why humans insist on turning back 3,000 years or more to times of ignorance and superstition, and then stubbornly declare that some profound Wisdom is to be found, continually leaves me dumbfounded.
PETER to Alan: I have just finished watching a TV documentary about Timothy Leary of ‘turn on, tune in ... and drop out fame’. In the late 1960’s he was at the forefront of experimenting with and publicizing the use of LSD and other chemicals that act to interrupt and temporarily alter the fixed, robotic electro-chemical circuitry in the brain.
A few aspects of the documentary were interesting and none more so than to see a historical documentary where so many of the characters were playing themselves. Many of the main figures of the 60’s psychedelic scene were interviewed for the film and these clips were spliced with old interviews and archival footage. Someone who was now 60 or 70 years old was interviewed, juxtaposed with film of them as 20 or 30 year olds. What was revealing to see was that the naiveté of youth and the well-meaning 60’s aims of peace, love and brown rice for all, had wilted and been replaced by a turning away, a foreboding cynicism, an introverted self-love and a lust for immortality. Two of the central characters who demonstrated this best were Timothy Leary himself and Richard Alpert who is now known as Ram Das.
Both said they had taken LSD hundreds of times and both had developed different interpretations of their experiences. Richard Alpert had a taste of the Divine, an altered state of consciousness, and became a mystic, a spiritual teacher, and a full-on devotee of an Eastern God-man. His experience when in an altered state of consciousness was that he was not the body and not the mind. He described stepping out of illusion of the real world into God-Consciousness. He then talked of Timothy Leary saying ‘he wasn’t into mysticism’.
Leary’s interest remained with the brain and thinking and he believed his ‘soul’ was located in his brain, to use his words. In his last years this thought became such an obsession that he arranged for his head to be cut off after his pre-arranged death and for it to be frozen in order that his ‘soul-brain’ could be revived at some future date. It’s such a bizarre tale and I still wonder if the film of his frozen head was genuine or a hoax. Certainly in his interviews he was convinced that his soul-brain was capable of mental immortality. Unlike his spiritual contemporaries, in his altered state of consciousness he didn’t identify with who he felt he was, his affective feelings, but he identified with who he thought he was, his nonsensical thoughts. What both Alpert and Leary shared in common with all other human beings was that they desperately maintained their true self to be a disembodied alien identity. One felt he was a soul-heart, while the other thought he was a soul-brain – anything other than a mortal flesh and blood body, a cellular arrangement of finite life span.
I was curious as to how Leary had managed to put such an eccentric twist to his altered state of consciousness experiences until he recalled a story from his childhood and his memory of his grandfather’s advice – ‘Don’t be like everybody else’. While he was alive, he was exactly like everyone else who has experienced the infinitude of the physical universe in that he instinctually seized the experience for himself and sought to contrive to become that experience – to be immortal, timeless, eternal and ... disembodied. And despite his frozen head being in a glass jar in a freezer somewhere he has ended up just like everyone else – dead. Same old story, just with yet another bizarre tale to add to the long, long history of human beings inane search for immortality.
The animal survival instincts, embellished into a psychological and psychic fear of death at the core of human beings, has produced a glut of fantastic fairy stories, fervent beliefs, grotesque rituals, weird altered states of consciousness – all of them passionately fuelled by a desperate and futile urge for immortality.
So, the essential question that arises from this post is ... ‘Is there life after death for Timothy Leary’s head or is he nothing but a dead head?’
Vineeto suggested that maybe he was simply a head of his times.
PETER to Alan: Another point that comes to mind is that becoming free of the Human Condition is not a dispassionate affair – it is not about stripping one’s ‘self’ of emotions or making sense of the Human Condition such that one becomes a stripped-down clever cool ‘self’. The motivation to get beyond this stage has to be a ‘self’-less concern and consideration for one’s fellow human beings, such as is experienced in a pure consciousness experience. The utter futility and sheer pointlessness of human beings being instinctually driven to battle it out with each other in a fear-driven struggle for survival on this verdant and bountiful planet becomes startlingly evident ... and one is inexorably drawn to do something about the situation. You realize in a pure consciousness experience that the only thing possible to do is to ‘self’-immolate – to rid this flesh and blood body of the entity that is, by its very nature, malicious and sorrowful, that ‘I’ can only be a contributor to violence and suffering on the planet. You realize that this act is the only sensible and practical contribution you can make to peace on earth.
Thus the essential fuel for ‘self’-immolation is altruism – the instinctual passion to sacrifice oneself for the others. This passion has to be activated and cultivated as a burning desire, for it is the only fuel that can get you through when the other passions begin to diminish in Virtual Freedom and comfortable ‘normal’ threatens to set in. Personally, this passion has always proved too strong to sit on for too long – soon I find myself back writing again, sticking my neck out, taking another risk, saying yes to being here and playing this game of being alive.
So many people seem to be put off by any passion for freedom after their failures on the spiritual path but I fail to see how one can become free of the Human Condition unless it is a burning ‘self’-consuming passion. For me, one of the ways to both activate and cultivate this passion has been to write, both as a way of going beyond my comfort zone and of my fuelling my altruism. Also, I know that what I write about actualism and Actual Freedom will be of benefit to other actualists.
RESPONDENT: A point that comes to mind. The apparent chaos is possibly what happens when ‘my’ feelings momentarily loose their meaning and one seems to be floundering. Resolve at this point certainly is necessary if one is not to immediately fall back into feelings.
PETER: A good point to remember is that there are three ways human beings can experience the world – affectively by feeling, cerebrally by philosophical-type thinking and sensately by direct, momentary sensate involvement. The psychic and psychological entity has no option but to experience the world affectively and cerebrally.
We humans are instinctually programmed to feel our way in the world by means of an animal instinctual survival program, the predominant one being fear. As such, when no fear arises, when no excitement is happening, when there is nothing to worry about, ‘I’ feel bored, lost, floundering, meaningless, useless, scared, etc. But you, as the flesh and blood body called No 3, need to have more and more time free of this alien bugger who insists on running the show, causing nuisance, raising objections, being emotional, worrying, etc. This ‘down-time’ is also condemned by society for one is taught to be useful, to contribute, to be creative, that your ‘life’ needs to have a meaning and a purpose.
For an actualist, it is often in these periods when nothing is happening – when ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ produces no drama, no issue, nothing to explore – that one can evince a delight and a joie de vive at being alive here and now as a flesh and blood body, located no where in particular on this paradisiacal planet as it floats in the vastness of space. The most pregnant time for a pure consciousness experience can be when one’s guard is down, when no issue is burning and no fear is arising.
This is the opposite of the spiritual where one is hunting for the passionate experience and an emotional high as one’s prize or one’s due right in life. John Lennon sang ‘Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans’. I would see it as ‘life is what is happening now while you are planning for, or waiting for, your next experience’.
Every moment, there is a door available marked ‘actual world’, and it is often most accessible at exactly those moments when there seems to be nothing going on in terms of emotions or worry. The ever-present, physical-only, actual world is ever-peaceful, ever-pure and ever-perfect. There is no fear, no aggression, no good, no bad, no right and no wrong in the actual world.
Then, when you come back from the actual world, to resume being an ‘I’ in the real-world, you recommence the fascinating business of dismantling what you have seen to be in the way of your being happy and harmless.
RESPONDENT: I was merely asking for facts in the form of your own personal observations / experiences in life from which you make many of the statements in your original post titled ‘Legacy of Gurus’.
PETER: You were not asking for facts at all. As you have said to me before – ‘I showed you once how your posts are meaningless for me’, and you were simply saying the same thing again in different words in your last post. Whenever I engage in a discussion with you, you attempt a summary dismissal. You have said to me in the past that ‘what I will not allow you to do is for you to shove your experiences and your interpretations down my throat’ – which doesn’t sound as if you are at all interested in my personal observations / experiences. The next ploy is to continually move the goal-posts of the discussion whenever it gets a little too close to actually discerning what is belief from what is fact – a ploy that is useless on a list devoted to actualizing peace on earth and exposing the ancient beliefs that have castrated human intelligence for millennia.
To quote the spiritual version of fact vs. truth from Rajneesh aka Osho –
Another quote –
Ooops – that’s a personal observation / experience – but you did ask for one! Any Guru who says that the factual actual experience of life, as evidenced in a PCE, is ‘utterly meaningless’ has most definitely got their head in the clouds. As for when ‘your eyes open to the real’ and you see ‘God green in a tree’, what does one see in war, murder, rape, torture, domestic violence, etc. – God anger?
But, then again, you must know this difference in perception – spiritual vs. actual – from your personal PCE, so I am curious as to why you have such a beef about defending the God-men and the belief in God, the truth, etc.
But it goes way past spiritual belief when the imagination snaps the synapses, commands the body, which then physically stomps on the environment? To me, it is just as much a leap of the imagination to believe that mankind’s malice and sorrow, war and suicide, doom and gloom, is the culprit. I know myself that this flesh and blood body has also damaged this eco system by wanting, going out and getting, too much of a good thing.
PETER: What I came to see was that any resources I used or possessions I owned I had to pay for which meant I had to work for – i.e. sell my time to someone else in return for money. This realization was a slow dawning but I did have the sense to have a vasectomy after having two children, and soon adopted the quality-not-quantity approach to possessions. After meeting Richard I pushed the envelope a bit more, eventually trading my car for a new-age typewriter and reducing my work hours to a minimum in order to devote myself to the business of actualism as much as possible. Nowadays I find myself living a life of indulgent consumption that borders on hedonism yet at a level that would be easily be possible, sustainable and feasible for all human beings on the planet. To be an actualist is to become an ideal and model citizen of the world.
RESPONDENT: ^Note1: I have the last couple of days indeed experienced the ‘Amygdala-effect’; in fact, yesterday night it came to some sort of climax I felt some sort of a cracking at the back of my head next I found myself a bit giggling and I heard myself say ‘this must be the Amygdala’. Now it feels somehow as if the Amygdala is ‘pricked’ up on my spine a bit ET-like, as if indeed I can feel that part in my head. There’s also a bit of muscular activity in my neck, which very much seems to be related to breathing^.
PETER: I remember when I first read that Richard reported that the precursory event to becoming free of the human condition was accompanied by a physical sensation at the top of the brain-stem. As I recall, he likened it to the turning over of record on one of those old 50’s record players. This happened when Richard became Enlightened and it subsequently took eleven more years until the process of ‘self’-immolation was complete.
I was curious at the time that the event of becoming free of the human condition appeared to have a physical component as well as the obvious psychological and psychic components – the extinction of the psychological and psychic entity in total. I say ‘appeared to have’ because we only have Richards’s report of the event and no other tangible evidence to support it. Even so, what I made of the report of the physical sensations was that it could have been related to the physical extinguishing of the instinctual animal survival programming – the genetically-encoded programming that gives rise to the instinctual passions of fear, aggression, nurture and desire in the human animal.
Now of course, all this is at best speculation, a working hypothesis until proved as a fact or abandoned as nonsense. But at the time I found the assumption very useful because it set me off on a course that made me open to the possibility that the root cause of my malice and sorrow was utterly non-spiritual and that it was physical in nature – my instinctual survival programming. It made good sense to me that there was a physical cause to human behaviour and this was a breath of fresh air after spending years believing in spiritual esoterica or blaming someone else or something else for my own feelings of malice and sorrow.
My particular interest in the physical origins of the instinctual passions led to Richard writing more on the subject of instinctual passions and to my own attempts to explain their origins in what someone recently described as pseudo-scientific terms. (see The Actual Freedom Trust Library)
The reason I am writing this is to give you some background to what you are now terming the ‘Amygdala affect’ – and I like the term, by the way. There is no doubt that on the path to actual freedom many weird and wonderful psychic and psychological events can and do happen and that sometimes there can even be physical sensations that occur. From my experience, these events may well be par for the course but they are neither the main event nor are they a sure sign of anything in particular. The only sign of success on the path to an actual freedom from malice and sorrow is the incremental reduction of feeling malice and sorrow and the subsequent emergence of more and more of the felicitous feelings in everyday life. For a sincere actualist there can be no other measure of success than this.
Consequently I came to see that marking my success in becoming free by the occurrence of physical sensations was akin to a spiritualist marking their success in becoming God by how much their Kundalini was rising or how much their third eye was opening. I also saw that if Richard had said his ankle twitched when he became free there could well be a generation of followers all limping around saying ‘all is going well, I’m nearly there’. As I write I am reminded of the ‘Placebo effect’ wherein a patient does not know whether any improvements are a physical result of the treatment or purely imaginary.
My point is not to take what is written about other people’s experiences as a gospel because believing can lead to all sorts of imaginations. And not to confuse sincerity with humourlessness – it’s essential to be able to laugh at all the weird and wonderful experiences, be they psychological, psychic or physical, which happen on the path to actual freedom.
PETER: Hi everyone,
I recently wrote an article for the local ‘Magazine of the Buddhas’ entitled ‘Austradamus’s New Millennium Predictions’. You may remember I posted it to the list a while ago. It was a lampoon of the spiritual world and spiritual beliefs and they not only published the story it but said they liked it a lot. In the same issue the editor wrote an article which caught my eye, so much so that I was moved to write to him. (...)
Excerpt from my letter to the author –
PETER: Well I think this will be the last in this series of book reviews, for I’m inclined just to skim through the rest of Mr. Lowe, only briefly demolishing his ‘fresh and unique’ re-interpretations of Eastern religion and philosophy. It’s interesting that his ‘ordinary spiritualism’ serves only to strip away the aura of mystique that has been deliberately created and maintained by the shamans about what it is that the ancient texts are actually saying. He does the usual thing of saying that one needs not to read the words and try and make sense of them, that one needs to put aside the mind, etc. but, to me at least, he manages to exposes more than is usually considered wise about what the Truth is, in fact.
So, let’s demystify the mystique of ‘some of the key facets of Paul’s perspective’
PAUL LOWE: Choicelessness and Being Present
Go with the feelings, the intuition, not with the mind. That is choicelessness. All that I have said about choicelessness applies to presence as well. Presence is being in this moment with acceptance, including all the facts and disconnecting from them. Paul Lowe, In Each Moment – A New Way to Live
PETER: Put so clearly, choicelessness is a choice made by one’s feelings, a decision solely based on the emotions of fear, aggression, nurture and desire. Deciding anything this way is guaranteed to produce an utterly selfish and self-centred result or decision, not the best decision, the most appropriate and most sensible. In deciding ‘not with the mind’, the spiritual claim of choicelessness can be best described as thoughtless and senseless, selfish decision making.
As for ‘being present’, it is clear that the Eastern religious philosophy is to ‘choicelessly’ accept and then disconnect from the facts – facts such as the physical body, one’s emotions and thoughts, one’s physical surroundings and other people, the fact of one’s mortality, etc. If being ‘present in this moment’ is so good then why would one want to disconnect from the facts that are evident in this moment. Why would there not be delight in thinking, delight in being conscious and alive as a flesh and blood human being, delight in this paradisiacal planet floating in this wondrous universe?
If this is not the case, in this moment, then why would one not want to do everything possible to evince delight, happiness and harmlessness? Why would one want to continue to practice denial, acceptance and ‘disconnecting’ as the East have done for millennia? The results of these religious practices are readily evident in the present cultures of the East, where poverty, corruption, duplicity, hypocrisy, repression, violence, arrogance and greed abound.
PAUL LOWE: The encouragement is for us to be more present, more aware of what is going on, all the time. The difficulty is this: the mind functions on the premise that it has to think about things and so the mind is identifying and naming everything continuously, registering whether it is safe or threatened. The mind does not see reality, it sees its concept of reality. It sees everything in terms of good and bad, right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate that it has learned from someone else. It labels everything according to other people’s ideas. Paul Lowe, In Each Moment – A New Way to Live
PETER: This primitive view of the mind directly results from the ancient ignorant view that the mind is the source of evil thoughts and the heart or soul is the source of good feelings. The mind – the functioning brain – is a physical organ in the body that is the central processing unit for an astonishing sensorial input of sight, sound, smell, touch and taste, and it has the ability, unique among the animal species, of being able to think, plan, reflect, communicate and be aware of itself in operation. And this is what Eastern religion would have us ignore! This collecting of living cells that is so complex, so wondrous, so astounding is to be ignored in favour of identifying with the good instinctual passions and imagining oneself so good, so above it all and so disconnected that one believes oneself to be the ‘source’ – God by another name.
PAUL LOWE: Buddha urged us to carry no food, only one robe, and never to stay in one house for more than three consecutive nights. In other words, life will take care of you; if you allow it, you will always get what you need. Paul Lowe, In Each Moment – A New Way to Live
PETER: Another classic fable of denial. The Buddhist monks in particular trade off this one very well. In the East it is obligatory custom to provide food and accommodation to travelling monks, in India it is ‘good karma’ to give to the Saddhus and in the West there is usually a queue to suck up to visiting God-men and Gurus, and many people pay a lot of money to them simply to ‘sit in their presence’. It is other people who are taking care of them, providing what they need, not ‘life’ or ‘existence’ or God.
PAUL LOWE: Our conditioning has told us there is a state to reach and this is not true. There is no state to attain. <Snip> There is no state of enlightenment. <Snip> When we are totally here, in complete acceptance, the state we call awakening is realized. <Snip> Thou art That <Snip> You have to want whatever you call this state totally and do absolutely nothing about it. <Snip> There is nothing to attain. Paul Lowe, In Each Moment – A New Way to Live
PETER: This is not a trick on my part. This nonsense came from one single page in the book. It was a ploy that Mr. Rajneesh used to great effect – confuse the mind by using contradiction, inane drivel and babble and squeak. It becomes impossible to follow, so one gives up trying and settles into a feeling-only state, the mind wanders off into impassioned imagination and another victim is entrapped.
PAUL LOWE: There is only now. When you truly realize this and you accept it, you soar. If you realize it and resist it, it is awful, because there is nothing else, there is no point to anything, there is no reason for living, there is nowhere to go and nothing to do. Nothing out there ‘works’. Look one second into the future and there is just desolation. Be unconditional in this moment and you are in the unexplainable state of bliss. Resist in the slightest and you are in hell. <Snip> The Hindus say it can take 80,000 lives to experience it fully, unless you are ready to say, ‘Yes, this is it’. Paul Lowe, In Each Moment – A New Way to Live
PETER: This piece is particularly revealing for it illustrates that underpinning the feeling of bliss is the feeling of dread. It is not only that one has left the real world – the world ‘out there’ – but one does so out of fear and desperation. The feelings of fear and dread are still there, they are only sublimated by passionately imagining oneself to be in an inner safe sanctuary – ‘here’ in the inner world in fear of the outer, and ‘now’ in denial of the ticking of the clock and the inevitable aging of the body. I like his description very much for it belies the myth that duality ceases in the spiritual world. Good and bad, right and wrong, bliss and dread and God and Evil are, in fact, only emphasized and made more real in the spiritual world, not eliminated.
Thus, a further illusion is built upon an illusion and delusion is the result. To travel the spiritual path in the spiritual world is to move even further away from the actual world – one is then twice removed from the actual world, that which is physical-only, tangible, palpable, benign, free of malice and sorrow, sensately obvious and delightfully rich, pure and perfect, peaceful and harmonious, abundantly apparent, right here, right now.
PAUL LOWE: Ask yourself ‘What am I doing and what am I doing it for?’ This is not the esoteric, ‘Who am I?’ It is a more practical, ‘Who am I in this moment. What is life about for me right now?’ Paul Lowe, In Each Moment – A New Way to Live
PETER: The difference between the esoteric ‘Who am I?’ and the more practical ‘Who am I in this moment?’ totally escapes me. An Actualist asks the question ‘What am I?’ in order to find a practical, down-to-earth answer. Asking the spiritual question ‘Who am I?’ has always, and can only, lead to one answer – ‘I am God’.
Asking the question ‘Who am I in this moment’ leads to such inanities as ‘I am watching my ‘self’ be angry but it is not me being angry – it is only anger happening’. One begins to create a second entity – a ‘me’ who watches an ‘I’ being angry and who then begins to disassociate and disconnect from the bad or negative feelings, emotions and passions.
An Actualist remains firmly rooted in the facts that there are only two things in operation in this moment of being alive. There is the actual, physical flesh and blood body me – what I am – inside of which dwells a parasitical entity – the ‘me’ who I think and feel I am. By asking the question ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ one has the opportunity to discover and investigate, and incrementally eliminate, the alien entity who is causing me, the flesh and blood body, to feel sad, feel lonely, act violently, be cunning, be malicious, say something spiteful, feel resentful, etc. etc. These feelings, emotions and passions are real in that they are ruining my happiness and causing me to be harmful to my fellow human beings. It’s a simple business, nothing complicated.
There is a ‘what’ I am and there is a ‘who’ I am. No need to get your pronouns in a twist and no sense in continuing on with the spiritual deviousness of creating a third ‘I’ as the watcher. There is a cute little ‘Vineeto diagram’ that says it all.
PETER: It is getting a touch repetitive, but then again, so is Paul. His ‘great wisdom’ is so banal that he repeats the same message, chapter by chapter.
Given the process for an Actualist is to re-wire one’s brain it is essential to change the way one interprets the ‘spiritual message’ – to understand exactly what is being said rather than gloss over the content of the message. To remain passionately seduced by ancient belief and fear-driven imagination is an affront to one’s intelligence. Only by substituting fact for belief, that which can be sensately experienced for imagination, and common sense for affective feelings, can one begin to come to one’s senses both literally and figuratively.
But change does not come about without effort, work, diligence and perseverance – to both make one’s own investigations and discoveries, as well as reading what others have written of applying the method and experiencing the process of Actual Freedom. One’s progress and successes – or lack of – on the path to Actual Freedom are directly related to the time and effort devoted to these activities.
No effort = no change.
PAUL LOWE: Chapter Ten Far More Than a Machine
Most of us spend our entire lives believing that our bodies, our minds and our emotions form who we are. We have forgotten that we are far more than the automatic machinery with which we have become identified. There is a part of us that is separate from the human machine. It is consciousness. Paul Lowe, In Each Moment – A New Way to Live
PETER: The common perception is that ‘I’ am consciousness – as in ‘I’ am who ‘I’ think and feel ‘I’ am.
The spiritual version is to take this illusionary entity, ‘I’ as consciousness, and turn it into a grand entity that is of ‘higher consciousness’ – disassociated from the physical, mortal body, disassociated from sensible thinking, enquiry and questioning, and disassociated from bad emotions, feelings and actions. This cultivating of another entity is formalized in many Eastern Religions by acts of renunciation, taking of vows, turning away from the temptations of the real world, adoption of robes and new names. The taking of Sannyas in Mr. Rajneesh’s religion is a prime example of adopting a new identity that many on this list will recognize. (...)
PAUL LOWE: When a situation arises and you are not 100% present, you will react mechanically, like a computer that has been programmed from the past. Whether you react with a yes or no, this reaction is not originating in the purity of you. It comes from the part that is the robot. When you are present and unconditional with whatever the maximum potential of this moment may be, all the internal and external influences will be there, but they will have no real effect on you. When we stop avoiding and accept our experience, the sensations will be in the body, the mind, and the emotions but they will not be in the place that we will come to know as ourselves. We are beyond those things, yet we cannot make ourselves ‘go’ beyond them. Include the mind, the emotions and the body with acceptance and you are here and beyond them. Paul Lowe, In Each Moment – A New Way to Live
PETER: This is all good stuff for an Actualist! I think the expression is ‘grist for the mill’. And to think the God-men have the gall to claim they are in a ‘self’-less state when it is perfectly obvious that the spiritual process is designed to create another identity – the Self, the real ‘you’, the pure ‘you’, ‘the source’, etc.
His reference to ‘you are here and beyond them’ is a reluctant acknowledgement of the fact that while the spirit remains trapped within the body it has to accept its lot – until a final release when the body dies and then one can really go beyond. This is acknowledged in all Eastern religion whereby Enlightenment is seen as an experience of Nirvana, a prior state before final release into Parinirvana after death.
RESPONDENT: Your view is very materialistic in many ways and we both know that we have far too much of that in our society. Isn’t it the materialistic/ mechanic outlook on life, humans, possessions etc that in many ways creates our misery?
PETER: Who said that being comfortable, safe, warm, well fed, well clothed, well informed, well entertained, healthy, etc. creates our misery? How many people in the world haven’t got even a basic material level of shelter, food, water, education, medicine, etc – and is this not real misery?
This nonsense about the evils of materialism is put out by those miserable souls who have a vested interest in human beings believing that existence on earth is essentially a suffering existence – because it always has been, it always should be. All of spirituality, both Eastern and Western, teaches that human existence is essentially a suffering existence and also that ultimate peace is only possible after physical death – i.e. anywhere but here and anytime but now. Added to this, the modern day religion of Environmentalism preaches that there is far too much material comfort and its believers actively work to deny others in less developed countries the material comforts they themselves enjoy.
I started my search for freedom, peace and happiness on the understanding that despite the fact that I had been successful in ‘real’ world terms – 2 cars, wife, 2 kids, house, good career – I was neither free, nor peaceful nor happy. For me the question was ‘How come I have everything I could desire and yet I was neither happy nor harmless?’ I discovered that to blame materialism for human malice and sorrow is to believe the spiritual viewpoint that life on earth is ultimately ‘unsatisfactory’, and to see physical comfort and sensual enjoyment as a sign of indulgence and evil.
Peter’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.