Selected Correspondence Peter
RESPONDENT: (...) But then again ‘imaginary poetry’ was really not your cup of tea. Yet I’d feel honoured (if I were you) and proud (not self aggrandized) to have been an architect of Osho. Now ... as I have the Ace of diamonds and the ace of spades I suspect that you have the Ace of hearts and the ace of clubs. So I say lets call it even here. As for Richard, he’s first, me second – indeed a whole different Ball game, yep, but as already admitted. I am only a beginner at snooker. Regards No. 23 (silence)
PETER: I happened to meet someone the other day who mentioned that they remembered having met me some 6 years ago. It turned out that he had been in the Andrew Cohen commune in Sydney when I was planning to sell up, leave the real-world behind yet again and join the commune. As it turned out the taste of the commune I had was enough to convince me that I didn’t need to go down that path again as I had been there before – I had done spiritual communes and found them sadly lacking in peace and harmony, I had found sitting with eyes closed in meditation to be the antithesis of being here and the idea of a self-imposed celibacy smacked of a moral perversity akin to Catholic priesthood.
The meeting reminded me of the value I got from finding out for myself what this particular Guru’s teachings produced as practice. By doing so I was able to tick yet another spiritual teacher off my list of ‘tried and failed in practice’. Soon after I met Richard and I applied the same ‘find out for myself’ approach and now I find myself writing to others saying ‘I tried actualism and it works in practice’.
It seems such an obvious thing to say, but unless you are willing to make the effort to find out for yourself, you will never know if actualism works or not – you will never know if it is possible to become actually free of the human condition of malice and sorrow.
RESPONDENT: If you were obsessive compulsive about something, say about being clean all the time, and you don’t remember a PCE, and you WANT to be free of this obsessiveness and other affective feelings, what are the steps you would take to get well and truly underway to becoming free? I’d appreciate it if you explained the steps in simple language that any dumbo would understand, because I’m just not getting the process. Right now, if you flat out told be the belief that is the core of one of my problems along with the source of it, and I thought and thought about it, I still don’t think I’d get anywhere!
PETER: We have had a number of correspondents over the years who have been interested in becoming free of a particular obsession, or free from a personally galling morality, or free of a specific psychological condition. Whilst there is anecdotal evidence that some people have indeed practically benefited from applying a little bit of the uncommon common sense that actualism is in their life – even a little bit of actualism is better than none at all – the main event in actualism is about singularly devoting your life to being harmless as well as being happy.
Perhaps this throws some light on why you say you are just not getting the process – attempting to undertake a process without an immediate objective as well as an end goal to is akin to aimlessly drifting along with neither purpose nor direction to one’s life. I wrote something in my journal that seems relevant –
RESPONDENT: When a feeling is given the label, ‘Sadness’, instead of me thinking, ‘I am sad’. Is this apperception or something else?
PETER: Well, as you write it, this is most definitely not apperception but is more likely dissociation.
If you notice that you are feeling sad, why not simply note that ‘I am feeling sad’? Saying ‘there is sadness happening’ rather than saying ‘I am feeling sad’ is equivalent to saying ‘my body is sick’ rather than saying ‘I am sick’. Whether one claims is ‘I am not my feelings’ or ‘I am not my body’, both are statements of dissociation.
I always like to take a clear-eyed look at the fundamental bottom line of any aspect of the human condition and Ramesh Balsekar’s teachings are a prime example of dissociation writ large –
RESPONDENT: My understanding of the way to nondual awareness is to ‘be here now’, in my body. I don’t care for nondual awareness anymore. I just want freedom. Would you say that ‘be here now’ in my body, equates to the effect of ‘how am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’
PETER: No. Even in my very early days of actualism I understood that what actualism was on about was being happy and harmless, as this corporeal flesh and blood body only, right now in this perpetual moment, right here in this physical place. Actualism is totally upfront about this, which is apparently why so few have thus far been willing to be pioneers in this business.
RESPONDENT: If I one day have virtually no feelings or issues to get in the way, and the question ‘how am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ is repeated without interruption, how do I prevent myself from becoming dissociated?
PETER: Well, Ramesh Balsekar has no feelings or issues that get in the way of his feeling pretty damn good because he is utterly dissociated from whatever God decides his ‘body/mind organism’ should or shouldn’t act. The way to avoid dissociation and dissociative states is simple – be upfront, at the start, about singularly devoting your life to being harmless as well as being happy.
RESPONDENT: Very well, I don’t known exactly why I’m telling you this or if you have something to say about these experiences, I guess I have a need to communicate my experience; with the Cohen bunch I’ve always felt restricted and limited because everything is supposed to be impersonal and fit into the context of Andrew’s teachings. This impersonal perspective is actually quite dangerous in my opinion. It makes people hide from themselves and prevents them from seeing what they really need to work with, insecurity and lack of self-esteem for instance.
By the way, have you read much of Andrews’s teachings? It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on his message, but as you say, it is the ancient teachings that he is teaching with maybe some small variations. It isn’t anything new; you’re right about that. What is refreshing is that he puts focus on THIS life and doesn’t want to discuss reincarnation and life after death at all ... ... maybe it’s something for you Peter? (just kidding of course).
PETER: I do find it curious that Andrew Cohen, along with many other New Dark Age gurus, is reluctant to discuss reincarnation and life after death. If they purport to great wisdom why not talk about these issues? Why not face them full-on, take a position and declare a position? Surely if someone believes in a life after death for one’s spirit or soul or whatever other name, then that profoundly affects their view on what it is to be a human being on earth, their view of the universe and their outlook to life. What attracted me to Andrew Cohen in my spiritual days was his so-called radicalism but when I dug in a bit what I discovered was radical fundamentalism – a very dangerous cocktail in the spiritual world.
As to his teachings – my major focus these days is peace on earth and the moderator of this list challenged me the other day by saying Andrew Cohen spoke about peace on earth in his writings. Here is my response and what I found in his writings –
RESPONDENT: Andrew Cohen has always stressed that the search for liberation is not for our own sake but for the sake of mankind.
PETER: Yes, he stresses the ending of a personal self – as in ego-death – in order to realize an impersonal self – as in Enlightenment. This act of surrender to a higher power or Greater Good then leaves the newly liberated being indebted to this higher power and driven to be yet another Saviour of mankind and to spread the message of the Greater Good, Love, Truth, God, or whatever other name is used. It’s the same old message that has seduced humanity for millennia despite the valiant efforts of many to break free from these passionate fairy tales of good spirits vs. evil spirits and Gods vs. Devils.
RESPONDENT: I mean, if we can change in a fundamental way inwardly and manifest that on earth then there’s a chance for peace on earth. As I wrote before; Andrew stresses VERY much the importance of focusing on THIS life and not waste time on speculations of the afterlife.
He usually says: I’ll write you a postcard’. He doesn’t pretend to know what’s happening after physical death even if he probably finds the idea of reincarnation very plausible.
PETER: This is obviously a man who is keeping his options open, which means he won’t dare acknowledge that physical death is the end, finito, kaput, finished, no more. Surely this is one of the most fundamental questions that demands an answer, or at the very least a position taken, otherwise one’s search for freedom, peace and happiness will be seduced into the traditional search for an inner peace or a peace after death. By continuing this very belief in a life after death or cunningly refusing to address the issue – as in taking a position – the status quo of spiritual/ religious belief remains unquestioned and one could never ever contemplate the death of both ego and soul.
I hardly see anything radical at all in taking this position and I fail to see how this current ‘manifestation’ of God’s messenger can be anything other than the all the rest – a seeker of freedom, peace and happiness who had feet of clay when the crunch came and turned to traditional old-time religion.
RESPONDENT: In my view it’s absolutely clear that Andrew includes peace on earth as a very important goal, the most important goal actually! He usually calls it ‘heaven on earth’ though but I assume there being no wars on this planet in that heavenly existence. The thing is that Andrew and others go much further than ending all wars (if that is what you mean by peace on earth), if we had paradise on earth I would expect that not only did we end all wars but we made possible a new and radically different way of relating to each other so that we could eventually end even most of our minor conflicts etc. The power of LOVE is strong as you know, Peter ... ...
PETER: Given your present line of thinking I would assume that you see Andrew Cohen’s spiritual communities as manifestations of this promised ‘heaven on earth’ and a living expression of the power of LOVE. If this is the case he is succeeding where no other Guru has managed to succeed and he then would truly demonstrate that his is the Only Way and he is the True and Pure messenger. Sort of reeks of ‘My God is the only True and Right God’ to me.
By assuming ‘there being no wars on this planet in that heavenly existence’ I would take it that all the other religions and religious beliefs would have to magically disappear from the face of earth for this to happen. That’s 1600 religions that would have to disappear not to mention all the current crop of NDA awakened ones would all have to agree that Cohenism is the only true and right teaching. Methinks that if you truly believe this is the answer to peace on earth you had better join up and begin converting others from their beliefs.
Also you do seem to be back-pedalling frantically from your stated views about Andrew Cohen, his Sangha and his teachings that you wrote only a week ago –
It’s a tough act to have all the beliefs you hold dear stripped away – to face death as it were – and the natural reaction is to mount a defense or turn and flee. Actualism is not for the faint of heart, nor for the weak of knee.
RESPONDENT: OK, maybe I went a little too far in my ‘defence’ of Andrew Cohen and his teachings. The reason I did this was that I wanted to balance the discussion which I thought (and still think) was becoming mainly ‘anti-spiritual’ and not as constructive as it could be. I’m not back-pedalling, I assure you, all of the above still stands. As I wrote in the beginning of the mail I try see things from different angles because I know that even the strongest conviction can soon be found to be limited and in some cases dead wrong.
PETER: You do take a very strong position about not taking a position. You not only play the Devil’s advocate, you play God’s advocate as well. I guess this is what you mean by balancing a discussion.
RESPONDENT: But as we both know it isn’t going to make any difference unless the individual is very interested in finding out what life is about and how to live here on earth, right now, and not in some other life.
It’s a very rare individual who dares to see the totality of the pitiful state of human existence on this earth without indulging in it himself and who instead continues the search for a way out of our predicament.
PETER: Andrew Cohen uses the term ‘rare individual’ when describing those who take up his teachings of liberation of the human spirit. What I found when I investigated his teachings and his community is that what he offers is a very traditional, very conservative fundamentalist view of Eastern spirituality, blended with a touch of Western mysticism. To follow this course one needs only to be a common follower, by no means rare, and by no means individual. The spiritual path has been trod by billions of human beings for thousands of years – t’is a well-worn path, and very well travelled.
RESPONDENT: Anything about the mind gets my attention ... That’s supposed to be some type of a joke, I think; OK, I’ll keep working on it.
One thing strongly stressed by Papaji [H.W.L Poonja], was that the mind is not our friend; like a little bad-tempered dog, you might be able to get in a pet or two, but if you turn your back on it, it will bite you in that place. And I like his illustration, as I’ve been bitten a number of times by this ‘processing mechanism’ that I spent so many years training as ‘my best friend.’
PETER: In Eastern religions, it is thinking that gets all the blame for life’s woes, while feelings and emotions that arise from human instinctual passions have got off scot free. Simple attentive observation will confirm this fact in one’s moment to moment living in the market place ... if one is interested and willing to make the investigation.
RESPONDENT: And something else comes to me to contribute to this whole issue of the ego: What if the whole subject can be EXPERIENTIALLY and FOR PRACTICE, grasped by becoming interested in something Andrew Cohen states, quoted in the book, ‘Freedom Has No History’, p.48 – ‘Simply through the discovery of the impersonality of every aspect of your personal experience, you find your own Liberation...’
PETER: This teaching points directly to avoiding personal responsibility for one’s own feelings and emotions. The classic spiritual dissociation from personal feelings is that it is not ‘my’ anger but ‘anger arising’, it is not ‘my’ sorrow but it is universal impersonal sorrow. By cutting off from what one is actually experiencing in this moment and aiming to become an Impersonal Self, one rises above it all, seeking to become some sort of superior spiritual/religious Identity.
By doing so one retreats to a world of one’s own inner Reality and is forever cut off from the sensual delights of the actual world. All religious teachings point to going ‘there’ and not coming here where we humans really live – in the sensate-rich physical world of purity and perfection. The only qualification needed to experience the perfection and purity of the actual world is that one needs to be totally ‘self’-less.
RESPONDENT: We do not seem to pay attention to the way things make us feel in a general overall type of assessment.
PETER: All human beings, be they conditioned by Eastern, or Western, philosophies and religions, are taught to deny their bad feelings and savage emotions and glorify their good feelings and tender emotions. This teaching, imbibed in the form of beliefs, morals and ethics prevents us from paying attention to the full range of our feelings and make an intelligent assessment as to how they prevent us from being happy and harmless.
A poster recently posted something that caught my eye because it typifies the fashionable Eastern approach to practicing a selective dissociating from one’s feelings –
This is called disassociating – having no relationship with one’s feelings, as in they are not mine – not my anger, not my boredom, not my frustration, not my fear, not my loneliness. Of course it is my bliss, my feeling of Light, my experience of Love, my gratitude, my empowerment, etc.
RESPONDENT: The way we tend to utilize emotion is in a very specific indulgent matter.
PETER: Indeed. It is how we are trained to deal with our feelings and emotions that arise from our instinctual animal passions. Ignore and sublimate the savage and pump up and identify with the tender. It generally does pretty well to by and large keep a lid on the worst indulgences of malice and sorrow although the Eastern idea of becoming God-on-earth does rather take indulging in desirable emotions to the extreme indulgence of Self-delusion.
RESPONDENT: Emotion is generally not considered to be sound ‘reasoning’ so it is devalued as an inspirational source except where it is deemed permissible by this intellectual society like when women relate or when artists engage their art.
PETER: Most of what human beings regard as entertainment is either violence or sorrowfulness. Most of our music tugs on the bitter-sweet heartstrings of sorrow, as do the so-called love songs. Most of the non-realistic art is driven by anger, frustration, rebellion and protest. Much of what passes for human relationship is a mutual sharing of sorrow, problems, despair and loneliness. Much of human ‘highs’ are temporary rapture and euphoria induced by shared mutual passions of religious, national or tribal nature and are underpinned by a basic ‘them and us’ dichotomy born of our instinctual passions.
That we are passionate feeling beings is upheld as our highest attribute whereas intelligence is mercilessly scorned and by none more fiercely than the vested Self-interest of the followers of Eastern churches.
Peter’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.