Selected Correspondence Peter
PETER: What has prompted me to write is a brief glance through a new book whose author is trumpeted as ‘maybe the most highly trained spiritual teacher in the western world’ to quote his sleeve reviewers. His name is Paul Lowe who Rajneeshees would have known a Swami Anand Teertha – at one stage Rajneesh’s chief disciple / therapist. As Paul Lowe in pre-Sannyas days he was a leading therapist in England and since the disastrous failure of the Ranch in Oregon has trotted the planet searching for his own niche in the modern spiritual movement. Despite his long servitude, Lowe makes no mention of Rajneesh in the footnotes of his book, which may well be a sign of Rajneesh’s low standing in the spiritual world, particularly in America.
What I found revealing about Lowe’s book is his lamentable attempts to put ‘that what cannot be spoken’ into words that can be understood. Being a Westerner puts him at an enormous disadvantage for he cannot hide behind the mystique of being an Eastern Master who just needs to radiate the appropriate air of holy mystique and loving energy and trot out some poetry, ancient mythical tales or nonsensical koans as great Wisdoms or the Noble Truth. His book of ‘ordinary spirituality’ thus becomes a literal goldmine of information as to what the spiritual path is really on about –
Denial plus Acceptance equals No Change. (D + A = nc)
The book – entitled ‘In Each Moment’ – is such a spiritual goldmine that I am moved to critique it chapter by chapter. I’ll select pertinent pieces from each and respond to them from an Actualist’s viewpoint.
PAUL LOWE: PREFACE:
I have found a way of living where you can feel happy and joyful and free of fear. <Snip> I used to have a sense that I was missing something, that there was more to life than I was experiencing, and that I was the only one not ‘getting it’. Yet as I looked around, I began to see that no one appeared to have it. <Snip> I looked for this missing aspect in all the ‘normal’ spheres of life – in work, marriage, friendships – and never discovered it there. I found that nothing on the outside, in itself, would create a deep sense of fulfillment. <Snip> I began an exploration to see if there was, indeed, anything I was overlooking. My life became devoted to the possibility of expanding human consciousness. For many years I travelled around the world, experiencing everything I could. We might say it was a search, yet in another way, I was simply responding to life. I was living and enjoying each moment for the sake of itself, rather than working towards a goal of ‘awakening’. <Snip> But I never felt that intangible, deep sense of fulfillment. I had spent years, and years and tried everything, and still that state eluded me. After years of being total in everything I tried, I gave up; I really gave up. Then suddenly it happened. There was nothing dramatic, it just happened. And I cannot say what ‘it’ was. I cannot even say exactly when this awakening started because when it did, I realized that ‘it’ had been here all the time. This place is with everyone, always. <Snip> What changed was my perspective, and with the change came a wonderful feeling of well-being and an indescribable freedom – freedom from stress, freedom from fear, and the freedom from the illusion that there is somewhere to get or to that there are goals to attain. <Snip> All the ordinary aspects of life have not stopped just because I have had a shift in perspective. In fact they seem to get better and better’. This and all following quotes from: ‘In Each Moment. A new way to live’ by Paul Lowe Looking Glass Press 1998
PETER: I did muse as to whether the preface was worth commenting on, so weak was his ‘unique vision’. But even in his preface he paves the way for his profound vision of ‘D + A = nc’. An astute judgement will reveal that his opening states that he has found a way to feel happy and joyful and free of fear and not that he is happy, joyful and free of fear. He then goes on to define his missing fulfillment and his years of searching for it (at least 25 years as I understand) and then goes on to deny that he was searching –
Why is it that the so-called Enlightened Ones search like buggery for years and years with great intensity and upon attaining ‘it’ immediately deny it was the searching that got them there and subsequently advise their followers that they are already ‘it’? Could it be that they would lose their grateful and gullible paying audience if they stopped preaching the ‘you are already it’ platitude and encouraged them to go off on a relentless personal search and not hang around those.
Disciplehood sucks. It sucks one into a denial of how rotten one is at one’s core, it sucks one into a mindless servitude and it ensures that one will accept the platitudes offered by others without sensible scrutiny or unemotional evaluation. And those who seek disciples and followers only have the power and wisdom that their followers desperately chose to grant to them.
Lowe’s getting ‘it’ is particularly weak for what changed for him was his ‘perspective’, accompanied by a ‘wonderful feeling’, which is a fair description of Post Satori Syndrome (PSS) whereby one remains the same but feels differently. ‘All the ordinary aspects of life have not stopped’ for the change in ‘perspective’ for Mr. Lowe is only a change in ‘feeling’. ‘All the ordinary aspects of life’ no doubt include feeling angry, upset, peeved and mortal, as well as more righteous, holier and superior than thou. One well-known Guru described these ‘ordinary aspects of life’ to me as ‘personality’ quirks after giving me a serve of his anger one day.
i.e. ... D + A= nc! ... QED ... and we are only at the Mr. Lowe’s Preface!
There is lots more to be said, chapter by chapter, and I think it will be worthwhile pursuing for these modern day Wanna-Be Buddhas are actively conspiring to hobble any chance of genuine searchers becoming actually free of the Human Condition with their mindless re-cycling of Ancient Drivel.
PAUL LOWE: The seeker’s mind then tends to think that enlightenment occurs when we do not have anything we may consider inappropriate – when there is not anger, greed or lust. That is a natural conclusion to draw, but it is not what is meant. In fact, it is not like that at all. <Snip> To me, the experience of maximum potential means not excluding or rejecting anything and not identifying with anything. <Snip> To make it more practical, consider this example. When you are talking to someone to whom you are attracted, you include all the things associated with that circumstance. You include the fact of your attraction, the possibility that the person may not be available, your thoughts that they may not be attracted to you, the fact that you have a partner and how your partner might feel if you were attracted to someone else. You include all these things and as you expand to encompass everything, you would not decide to say something and you would not decide not to say something. You would not use your will to select a course of action, yet a response would come through you. When you allow whatever wants to be said, you do not say something, something says you. Life will live through you when you include everything without rejecting or focusing on any single thing. <Snip> When you are ready to experiment with this approach, your whole life can change because anything really is possible. We are restricted by what we believe our restrictions to be, to a level that is unfathomable. We can move mountains. We are the creators. Paul Lowe, In Each Moment – A New Way to Live
PETER: Well Paul, I for one am appreciating your attempts to put into words ‘an indescribable state’ for I find it most illuminating. Most enlightenment-sufferers claim that they have transcended anger, greed and lust whereas a little dig behind the public front reveals otherwise. Some take the approach of flaunting their ‘inappropriate’ behaviour by giving it an air of Divinity, as do the Tantric Masters with their sexual predations, or the full-on God-men with their thundering Divine Anger. Their greed and lust for power is coaxed in terms of helping others, spreading the message or lovingly sharing what they have received by ‘Grace’. The more forthright and honest message of Enlightenment as an earthly preview of Divinity and Bliss prior to a ‘final release’ into Nirvana after physical death is not fashionable at present and thus we see the emergence of a cunningly watered-down ‘ordinary spirituality’.
Your practical example is a classic description of practicing denial and attempting transcendence. The blatant denial is that ‘the state of the body, the action of the mind and the movement of the emotions’ is not really ‘you’ but that your ‘essential self’ should be imagined as a Divine force or ‘Life’ that acts through you. A New Age reinterpretation of ‘Not my will but Thy will be done’. This is nothing other than the traditional delusionary shift of identity from mortal and animal to immortal and Divine. One denies one’s obvious mortality and animal passions and transcends it all to adopt another persona – one who is above it all, detached, disconnected and disassociated from, and dis-identified with, earthly mundane existence.
It is this very cunning and shrewd act of denial, fuelled by the instinctual will to survive at all costs, that actively prevents the necessary investigation that will bring an end to anger, greed and lust. The spiritual cop-out par excellence.
You then go on to state – ‘When you are ready to experiment with this approach, your whole life can change because anything really is possible.’ If anything is really possible then how come everyone who takes this approach ends up with the same experiences? I would say that if you take this approach to life then only one thing is possible. One then believes in, and dwells in, an ‘other-world’ of imagination and impassioned feelings, the spiritual world. In this ‘other-world’ one is either a loyal and faithful servant/slave to a Master or, if one aspires to leadership one must go all the way into the delusion in order to be able to radiate the necessary aura of Power and Authority to become a Master in one’s own right. Then one feels and claims that one ‘can move mountains’ and feels and claims that one is ‘the creator’.
Your use of the word ‘we’ shows you are still a touch short of being fully deluded.
Next on the list of ‘fresh and unique’ reinterpretations is ‘source’ but I’ll leave that for the next post.
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. (...)
PETER: This is why the spiritually-trained have so much difficulty with the simple question ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ It takes effort and perseverance to identify, name, trace, investigate and understand what one is feeling – what is preventing perfection in this, one’s only moment of being alive. They constantly lapse back into denial, acceptance and ‘disconnecting’, as they have been trained to do. They righteously seek to maintain their spiritual identity as ‘the watcher’ of this ‘continual chatter of the mind’ rather than roll up their sleeves and get stuck into becoming free from the instinctual passions of fear, aggression, nurture and desire.
I know this is the case with me. I have had to constantly not settle for second best, no matter how good things seem to be. My bench mark is always the perfection evident in the PCE but to continue to ‘raise the bar’ has always meant changing. Being finished with something, stopping doing something, breaking some habit, losing friends, changing some behaviour, taking some risk and experiencing another bit of ‘me’ falling away.
PAUL LOWE: That is really what the mind is: a program full of someone else’s ideas based on the past. In our natural state the mind does not judge, because the mind is lean and clear and carries only neutral information, such as what name you are calling yourself, your address, the practical things needing your attention. That is the function of the mind in its natural state, but its natural function has been distorted and it has developed in such a way that it continually judges. Paul Lowe, In Each Moment – A New Way to Live
PETER: The old Tabula Rasa theory trotted out again. ‘Born innocent and only corrupted by evil since birth. Naturally good and pure, tainted by evil or wrong thoughts’. Superstition, fear and ignorance persists in the face of current empirical scientific research of the animal instinctual passions of fear, aggression, nurture and desire genetically programmed in the brain and universally operational in all humans by the age of about 2 years – no matter what one’s upbringing is. One does have social conditioning layered on top of this core programming but to perpetuate the denial of the instinctual animal program in us is insanity in the extreme. We can no longer hide behind ignorance. The earth is round, the earth orbits around the sun and we are born with animal instinctual passions. The question then is what one does about this fact.
This Eastern religion solution is ‘disconnecting’ as in
An Actualist is committed to deleting this instinctual programming – to becoming actually free of malice and sorrow.
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: 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.
PETER: I did sit back and wonder whether it was useful to continue, particularly as the book is largely repetitive, but every now and again a pearl emerges which gives me a fresh opportunity to say something, and present some facts about, Spiritual Wisdom.
The spiritual message is – don’t worry about changing anything, simple retreat from the physical outer world into your inner world of feelings. And this message is nothing other than a reinforcement of that all pervasive message, the mother of all beliefs – ‘You can’t change Human Nature’.
PAUL LOWE: Chapter Eight Relating – An Invitation to Expand
One of the most significant changes that is happening on the planet is difficult to talk about because the mind does not want to hear it. We have been conditioned to believe that events on the outside control how we feel on the inside, which is not true. The changes that have the potential to transform our lives have to do with our inner world, with consciousness, not our attempts to change and control the people and things around us. Paul Lowe, In Each Moment – A New Way to Live
PETER: Difficult to talk about? I personally have been hearing these same words for over 20 years, and the message of transformation has been preached about, talked about, written about, and practiced for thousands of years. What do you think the millions of monks, saddhus and disciples have been doing all this time if not desperately trying for inner transformation? Does ‘potential’ have a use-by date? When can we demand results – as in ‘significant changes’? As for – ‘the mind does not want to hear it’ – the message of denial and personal transcendence is indeed anathema to common sense, but ... it is sweet music to the ‘soul’.
PAUL LOWE: However, your conditioning on this has been so pervasive that most of your life revolves around the belief that you are controlled by external events. Paul Lowe, In Each Moment – A New Way to Live
PETER: Spiritualism has it that we are ‘conditioned’ by evil and wrong thinking since birth, an adaptation of the root belief that humans are born innocent and then ‘possessed’ by evil spirits. The ‘conditioned-since-birth’ theory has been strengthened and given a false credence by Mr. Freud and others who combined their avid interest in Eastern philosophy with their studies of human behaviour and collared together some very unscientific theories. The denial of animal instinctual passions in humans is deep-set, ongoing and entwined not only as religion, but in all human thought, literature, philosophy and theoretical ‘sciences’.
PAUL LOWE: When something pleasant happens and you feel good, it is not the circumstances that make you feel that way. When the event takes place you say ‘yes’ – you expand and make yourself available to what is. The acceptance and the expansion produce the good feelings. When something unpleasant or unexpected happens, you say no to what is happening, and that contraction, not the incident itself, produces the bad feeling. It is never the event, but how you are with the event that creates your experience. Paul Lowe, In Each Moment – A New Way to Live
PETER: This is not a theoretical, philosophical critique. It is vitally important for an Actualist to understand precisely what is being said and to determine whether one is falling into the trap of denial and transcendence.
The trap goes like this –
When a good event happens then you accept it and practice an expansion of the good feelings. When an unpleasant event happens you feel bad but it is then you who are creating the bad feeling by not expanding yourself. To do this you need to deny that the event is causing the feeling and practice expanding, or ‘rising above’ the bad feeling. Thus you practice disassociation from any unpleasant events and the resulting bad feelings until you identify as someone who has transcended bad feelings and become a person who only has good feelings. This is ‘self’-aggrandizement – 180 degrees opposite to ‘self’-immolation.
PAUL LOWE: All this has to do with consciousness, not with particular incidents, and consciousness is the direction to which many of you are beginning to turn and explore. Paul Lowe, In Each Moment – A New Way to Live
PETER: What should be written is ‘All this has to do with my consciousness, not with particular incidents and my consciousness is the direction to which ‘I’ need to turn and explore.’ An utterly ‘self’-ish and ‘self’-centred approach to this actual world of people, things and events. So unaware and ignorant are the spiritualists that they don’t even recognize that whenever they use the word consciousness, what they are really saying is ‘me’ as soul or ‘who’ I feel I am.
The spiritual world is a world of ‘me’, ‘me’, ‘me’, ‘me’, and only ‘me’.
PAUL LOWE: There will always be something that upsets you, forever. This dimension is designed that way. Paul Lowe, In Each Moment – A New Way to Live
PETER: Ah, well. Not much use worrying about the actual physical world on this planet for it is ‘designed’ for humans to get angry at other human beings and to forever feel sad for being here. What a lamentable, pathetic and sadomasochistic design. And then, to top it all off, we are supposed to then feel grateful to the designer for our lot on earth, lest we further incur his or her wrath and anger.
PAUL LOWE: As a support in realizing whatever anger or resentment you may have with someone that you are ready to let fall away, consider this gentle active meditation: Are you carrying any anger or resentment; are you blaming someone for your pain? If you are, take a look at letting go. It is almost certain that the pain is hurting you more than them. Paul Lowe, In Each Moment – A New Way to Live
PETER: Wow! This is self-centredness in the extreme. What he is saying is – If you are angry or resentful towards someone then ... ‘it is almost certain that the pain is hurting you more than them.’ What about the person you are angry with or resentful towards? Whether this anger is physically or verbally expressed, or is just an unexpressed feeling, is this not still malice in operation? Is this not causing harm to another human being?
To inflict suffering on another human being and then declare that ‘it is hurting me more than it is hurting you’ is an abysmal and pathetic act of self-centred myopia. It may be an effective way of assuaging and letting go of one’s own feelings of guilt but, in fact, it is an act of breathtaking selfish denial.
PAUL LOWE: You have been conditioned from the moment of your conception by things about which you have no idea – there are billions of influences. You will never be free of these and even if you could free yourself in this lifetime, what if there was a previous life and another one before that? The ‘work’ would never end. There is another way – disconnect from it all. You can allow the reactions, the feelings and the past to be there, yet you do not need to identify with any of it. Paul Lowe, In Each Moment – A New Way to Live
PETER: I am astounded when I meet spiritual people these days as to how little they understand of the Human Condition and how unwilling they are to do any ‘work’ in order to understand it. And when I read any spiritual writing, such as this book, I realize why. Believing in, and practicing, denial and acceptance combine to ensure that they will do nothing to evince any change in themselves. They only want to work on and indulge in their good feelings.
D + A = nc. (...)
So Paul has explained very clearly that practicing denial and acceptance and developing a spiritual watcher is but a cunning trick that does nothing but creates a new spiritual identity.
PAUL LOWE: These things we are beginning to integrate into our everyday life. The structure as we know it is starting to collapse and the predictors say this, too, is part of the design. The book of Revelations states there will be plague, pestilence and famine, and that the weather will alter radically. The weather is changing all over the world – global warming, El Niño, La Niña are having radical effects on the climate. We have more indescribable and incurable illnesses than we ever had. Strange, virulent viruses are appearing regularly; epidemics are spreading. It is all happening. Everything is starting to shake. Deep down, we are beginning to recognize that what we have taken for granted is no longer secure. Paul Lowe, In Each Moment – A New Way to Live
PETER: Yep. What a fearful, doom-laden beat-up of human existence. He is not talking of the Human Condition here but is making out that the physical, material world in which we live is collapsing and becoming more horrific by the minute. The proof he offers is nothing more than fear-ridden theory and belief and the subsequent popularist doom and gloom embellishments. If you want to find theories and postulations about doom and gloom, it is not at all difficult – doom and gloom is rampant in the media, in all forms of entertainment, in the theoretical sciences, in environmentalism, conspiracy theories, anti-globalization movements, divinationists, etc. etc.
Don’t get me wrong here. For Humanity the past, present and foreseeable future is epitomized by malice and sorrow, war and suicide, doom and gloom, but to project this scenario on to the physical material actual world, as spiritual belief would have us do, is a leap of imagination that defies factual evidence to the contrary.
PAUL LOWE: The most significant shift, however, will not be with these material things. The greatest change will be in our experience of reality, in our consciousness and it is beginning to happen for many people all over the world. Paul Lowe, In Each Moment – A New Way to Live
PETER: Yep. There are a lot of people into denial and transcendence in the town where I live. The New Dark Ages are blossoming into a popular cultural fashion.
People everywhere are turning away, tuning out and going in.
PAUL LOWE: There really is no easy way to explain a shift in consciousness. It means that the person who is looking at reality, the one you are familiar with, the one you call ‘I’ is going to be different. The difference is not only occurring in what the ‘I’ sees and experiences, the fundamental ‘I’ itself is starting to change. Paul Lowe, In Each Moment – A New Way to Live
PETER: Oh, come on Paul. It is easy to explain and many, many people have explained it. The shift in consciousness is from being an ‘I’ who thinks and feels it is trapped inside a mortal flesh and blood body to becoming a ‘me’ who thinks and feels it is completely disassociated from reality and completely disembodied ... and therefore immortal.
A shift in consciousness is an imaginary, and impassioned, shift in identity. (...)
PAUL LOWE: You are the one who knows you have a body, a mind and emotions. You are in a highly unstable vehicle. It gets set off by illogical things. It can get upset about the same thing again and again for its entire life. It never seems to learn. It is as though it has an allergy and when somebody says something it gets upset. No one was hurt, no one has damaged it; it just did not want to hear what was said, so it gets upset. It is not you who is upset. Your mind heard something and created a reaction in the body and the emotions. The essential you is the one who can watch the reaction. However, you forgot to watch, you get caught up in it and you think you are angry. You are not angry. The body, mind and emotions have become disturbed, chemicals have been released and there is nothing you can do about it. Paul Lowe, In Each Moment – A New Way to Live
PETER: Denial and disassociation abound.
What about saying – I am a highly unstable person. I get set off by illogical things. I can get upset about the same thing again and again for my entire life. I never seem to learn. Etc. An honest, simple, straightforward assessment of the situation one finds oneself in, no avoidance, no denial, no being a watcher, no cunning sideways shift.
It is only by not denying one’s feelings and actions and by not disassociating from them that one can begin to do something about them.
PAUL LOWE: Chapter Thirteen Beyond Choosing
The persistent experience of misery in life is not created by significant events or tragedies, but by our unconscious reactions to the ordinary, everyday incidents of our lives. One of the most common ways we lock ourselves up in life is through our attachment to wanting what we want. Practically everything in our lives is a desire. We may call it choice, yet that is often just another word for a demand. We go about our lives demanding the world be the way we want it. Paul Lowe, In Each Moment – A New Way to Live
PETER: Spiritual teachers – and psychiatrists and psychologists – make out the genetically-encoded instinctual passions to be ‘unconscious reactions’. For the spiritual believers the aim is to gain a higher consciousness – transcending the lower and the unconscious. For the psychiatrist and psychologist the aim is to reduce the worst excesses of unconscious reactions and to bring these reactions back within ‘normal’ socially-tolerable limits. Nobody is willing to call a spade a spade – ‘unconscious reactions’ are the animal instinctual passions of fear, aggression, nurture and desire. To even consider eliminating these passions is to contemplate eliminating both the supposed good passions as well as the more obvious bad passions – enough of a thought to send everyone scurrying for cover.
From his chapter opening we are heading into the spiritual furphy of choiceless awareness – denial and acceptance dressed up in a very appealing package. (...)
PAUL LOWE: When I think about my own spiritual journey, it has really never been about being ‘spiritual’. Finding peace has nothing to do with discovering other dimensions or becoming enlightened. It has been about being here in each moment and when I have gone unconscious, saying, ‘Oh – slipped up there,’ and beginning anew, right now, present in this moment, accepting what is. Paul Lowe, In Each Moment – A New Way to Live
PETER: I take it then that we can ignore Chapter One which is about ‘the source’, the Kingdom of God, the state of timelessness, enlightenment, the unformed. Chapter Two talks about a state beyond the state of the mind, an indescribable place of love, subconscious levels, varying levels of awareness. Chapter Three is about deeper levels of feeling, the cusp of a new dimension, dropping into being, a new level of freedom, another level of aliveness, etc. I won’t go on, but every chapter is littered with references to an other dimension, other than everyday reality. This is the whole point of spiritual belief and practice – to attain to an ‘other dimension’, other than the physical, and then to be ‘present’ in this ‘other dimension’ in each moment.
Nice try Paul, but maybe you should read what the words you have written. You may well be sincere in feeling that you are present, as in here, but in fact you are present, as in ‘there’, – another dimension called the spiritual world. And are you really saying you never aspired to the glamour and glory and power of enlightenment? Methinks you are stretching credibility and taking denial to a new level – a new dimension even – with your statement.
Your spiritual journey may not have started off being about spiritual other dimensions and enlightenment but you sure have ended up in the thick of it. I do understand, because my search for freedom, peace and happiness was not about other dimensions or enlightenment but if you tread the spiritual path you will end up in an other dimension trying to become enlightened. Par for the course, as they say. For me the wake-up call came when I found myself shouting Ya-Hoo to an empty chair and from then on it became increasingly difficult to maintain the lie that being on the spiritual path and all that it entails is anything other than being in an old-time religion. T’was a crippling blow to my pride to admit it and a long journey out of the religious world but once one sees and acknowledges it is all madness and delusion it is impossible to stay a believer.
The denial that abounds in the spiritual world is a most curious phenomena. It is as though the followers and devotees block out any idea or notion that they are in fact deep in religion and following religious belief – the very thing that many were trying to become free of when they left the ‘normal’ world. I have had occasion to say to many of the spiritual people that I had known from the past that it is so good to have left the spiritual path, and they all have said ‘Yes, for me too!’ ... and then proceeded to tell me they are sitting with a Guru, have just done a group or are heading off to the East to meditate or go to an Ashram. Is this denial in action or merely a severe case of cognitive dysfunction due to excessive exposure to Eastern religious belief? I am a curious.
PAUL LOWE: A time is coming when it will be appropriate to be much softer and more gentle with ourselves. If something goes out of balance, we can gently call it to the surface of our consciousness and be more accepting of ourselves rather than beating ourselves up. Paul Lowe, In Each Moment – A New Way to Live
PETER: This New Age spiritual approach is popularized as be ‘loving with yourself’, or even more blatantly as ‘love your self’. Others claim that what one needs to do is realize one’s true self , while yet others proclaim the need to become ‘self’-realized and then have the temerity to declare that it is a ‘self’-less state. Some talk of no-self, while others talk of a transcendence from self to Self. A plethora of conflicting advice is offered on the Guru circuit, but all have one thing in common – all methods and practices are self-perpetuating and self-nourishing. The only variation is the range from the mundane, popular ‘be gentle and accept your self’ to the more forthright and traditional exhortations of self-aggrandizement such as ‘realize you are God’, or That, or ‘the source’, etc.
When traditional Eastern religion is watered down to the mundane and ordinary, one is left with following Eastern morals and ethics that are disquietingly similar to Western religious morals and ethics. Some things are good, some bad, some right, some wrong and one blindly follows the herd while feeling smugly free of one’s old set of morals and ethics. Unfortunately, Eastern religions have made the principles of denial and acceptance into moral and ethical values both of which have only served to directly sabotage and subvert the human search for a genuine freedom, peace and happiness.
Which is why I am moved to write about denial and acceptance. (...)
PAUL LOWE: Having a preference for things to be the way you would like them to be is natural. But as soon as you make them a choice, you are in misery. The stream of life bumps up against your resistance. The resistance is not logical. Seeing it, being with it, allowing it will make it dissolve and then the stream of life can move on, unobstructed. You can feel the flow of life, you can feel the stream is carrying you if you do not hold on to the shore. You can let go of holding; nothing is safe, nothing is secure, nothing is predictable, but when you let yourself into the flow of life, you are very alive. Paul Lowe, In Each Moment – A New Way to Live
PETER: If ‘having a preference for things to be the way you would like them to be is natural’ then why not pursue one’s natural preference to be the best one can be rather than ‘choicelessly’ choose the ancient pursuit of the super-natural? The traditional methods of dealing with, or avoiding, ‘behaviours that we would prefer to be different’ are twofold –
But there is now available a third alternative to either remaining ‘normal’ or becoming ‘spiritual’ – an actual freedom from the Human Condition of malice and sorrow has been pioneered.
As for ‘you can feel the flow of life, you can feel the stream is carrying you’, thus far there has been only two streams – the ordinary or the spiritual – with the difference being that those in the spiritual stream believe their stream carries on after physical death. Having put the fear of death aside by denying the fact of death and having accepted one’s ‘self’ as real and the actual world as illusionary, they swan along feeling free, unattached and disassociated from the body, mind and emotions, and feeling safe and secure in their belief in an afterlife.
As for ‘when you let yourself into the flow of life, you are very alive’, what should be said by those in the spiritual stream is they feel very alive, for in fact they have turned away from, and deliberately opted out of, the main event – that of being the physical universe experiencing itself as a flesh and blood human being in this moment of eternal time and this place in infinite space.
We are the only life forms we know of that can go ‘ooh, ahhh, yummy’; that can experience unmitigated delight; that can think, contemplate and reflect on life, the universe and what it is to be a human being. The only life form on this planet that has intelligence such that we can deliberately adapt to the changed circumstances and rid ourselves of behaviour that we would prefer not to have – the virulent animal instinctual passions of fear aggression, nurture and desire.
Provided of course, we humans don’t choose the traditional path of opting out of this physical actual world to live in a metaphysical mystical world – the imaginary ‘flow of life’ that exists no-where else but as thoughts in our heads and impassioned feelings in our hearts.
Which is why I am moved to write to de-bunk the fear-ridden religious beliefs and, in particular, the currently fashionable Eastern religious ethic of denial and the equally puerile moral of acceptance.
It’s just so silly to opt out of the actual world of sensate delight, purity and perfection and even more so at a time when an increasing number of human beings on the planet are experiencing unprecedented safety, comfort, leisure and pleasure.
PAUL LOWE: Chapter Fifteen Waking Up – It’s Not What You Think
For forty years I have travelled all over the world, actively seeking freedom. I have gone down many paths, been with many acclaimed teachers and gurus and experimented with most known techniques for awakening. I have not seen anything work effectively. My conclusion is that nothing on the outside works. No method, no technique, no teaching in itself leads to freedom or awakening. <Snip>
Then suddenly one day, something did work for me. Something clicked and it was not because of anything I had been doing or not doing. What happened did not come from the outside. It was inside me. At the same time that I found it was from the inside, I also discovered that it was not the inside or outside – all distinctions had blurred. <Snip>
All our attempts to understand are something of a trip. I am using the word ‘trip’ to mean the efforts of someone to influence others to see reality in their way. But awakening is a pathless path; it is not about the way. Most people, groups and organizations are on some type of trip. There is the New Age, the spiritual, the guru trip and many others. Anything we follow, anything we think is going to move us to wake up or be free is a trip, a fixed idea in which we are invested. Any ideas we might be thinking about enlightenment are not true, because awakening is not about thinking. If we can think it, it is not that. <Snip>
It cannot be spoken. It is a state of being that is beyond description. But we have assigned it many names; peace, godliness, harmony, the source. It is there to be experienced when we give understanding. When we stop trying we discover it has been here all the time. <Snip>
When we truly give up it seems there is suddenly something – we could call it a universal consciousness. We disappear into the One.
If we do anything in order to wake up, even if we meditate to awaken, rather than for the fullness of the meditation, we are not accepting the way we are. We are indicating that we want to be better, to be different and we are rejecting how we are now. This is diametrically opposed to what is needed to realize this harmony. When we recognize and accept that ‘This Is It’ – the way we and everything is right now is all there is – we are on the threshold of our freedom. Paul Lowe, In Each Moment – A New Way to Live
PETER: Nothing new in this chapter at all. Ordinary spirituality is to accept and realize that how you are, and ‘who’ you are, right now, is okay. Eastern religion, the traditional source of modern spirituality, at least stretches one to realize that ‘who’ you are is an illusion, but it then goes off the rails to extol the believer into creating a new transcendental identity. The success rate of producing truly enlightened beings is estimated to be less than .0001% of those devotees who have trod the traditional spiritual path. Perhaps this appalling success rate is the reason that ordinary spirituality is so popular. There is no practice, no effort, no thinking, no need to change, no wanting to be better or different –
Well if you are happy with the way you are now, then fair enough, but what you are including in your acceptance is ‘the way everything is right now’. This ‘everything’ includes the Human Condition in its totality – all the wars, murder, rape, corruption, domestic violence, retribution, despair and suicide as well as all religious wars, crusades, tortures, persecutions, perversions, repression, recriminations, prejudices, retributions, pogroms, etc. Not only would spiritual belief have us accept that this is okay but it also proudly proclaims it is part of some grand master plan of ‘the source’.
The belief that we are perfect as-we-are is a gross misinterpretation of the fact that the physical universe is perfect as-it-is. One of the panellists on the TV program I mentioned above was asked ‘would there be evil in the universe if humans did not exist?’ and he said ‘No’. The interviewer did not ask the next obvious question – ‘would God exist in the universe if humans did not exist?’ but I thought it revealing that he could at least allude to the fact that evil is a human invention based on the animal passions of fear and aggression. Yet when asked directly later on he was unwilling to see, or admit to, evil or violent behaviour in himself. He acknowledged a fact yet denied it applied to him. We are every-ready to deny evil and violence in ourselves but ever-willing to acknowledge God and see good in ourselves. This phenomenon explains why all human beings who have had a glimpse of the perfection and purity of the physical universe as-it-is, then insist that they are perfect as-they-are. This is denial and acceptance in operation at its most cunning. This is ‘self’-centred, ‘self’-ish, ‘self’-deception in the extreme.
The pure Consciousness Experience is a direct experience of the purity and perfection of the actual world. Everything is seen and experienced to be already perfect as one is in a ‘self’-less state. To have briefly experienced this state and then, when returning to one’s normal state, declare that ‘I’ am perfect is a gross factual misinterpretation of the experience. This is, as Alan once stated, ‘a PCE gone wrong’ or rather a selfish claiming of the experience for one’s self.
One needs to be vigilant and scrupulously honest in one’s interpretation of a PCE. It is startlingly obvious in the PCE that it is a ‘self’-less state and also that it is a sensate-only experience. If one wants to claim this experience of perfection for oneself, one will end up believing the advice of those who say ‘you’ are perfect as ‘you’ are and nothing needs to be done – ‘the way we and everything is right now is all there is.’
An Actualist is scrupulously honest in interpreting the PCE and, when returning to his or her ‘normal’ state, sets about or resumes the process of ‘self-immolation, fuelled by having had the experience and equipped with a bit more information to work with. What stands between ‘me’ and the purity and perfection of the actual world is ‘me’ and this is experienced in the PCE. One’s intent then is permanent and irrevocable change, the antithesis of acceptance. It is not that one rejects how one is now but one knows that unless one has the unambiguous aim and relentless courage to be the best one can be while remaining a ‘self’ then ‘self’-immolation will be a dream – one will settle for acceptance.
The spiritual path leads 180 degrees in the opposite direction to the path to Actual freedom.
Denial and acceptance on the spiritual path leads to ‘self’-aggrandizement.
PAUL LOWE: When you drop into the source the you as you have known yourself to be is gone. You have no separate identification. <Snip> It can feel like death. Yet as the Bible says, ‘unless you die and be reborn...,’ until you are willing to let go of who you think you are, you are separate from the source. Paul Lowe, In Each Moment – A New Way to Live
PETER: A sure sign that Paul has not suffered from a complete Altered State of Consciousness or Awakening as he would have had an experience of death, not a feeling of death. An Altered State of Consciousness is exactly as it says – who you think you are dies and you become who you feel you are. One’s state of consciousness, or identity, is permanently altered. I say permanently – but Richard, in fact, went further than this and dissolved who he felt he was – a total extinction of ‘self’, an expurgation of all identity. It is extremely doubtful if others will follow his route given that the Glamour, Glory and Glitz of Enlightenment is such a seductive and blissfully ignorant state.
For an Actualist, the direct route to Actual Freedom is not the tortured path of the spiritual seeker but one follows a more direct, sensible path thereby avoiding the instinctual trap of a delusionary Altered State of Consciousness. The extinction of ‘who’ one thinks one is, and ‘who’ one feels one is, is the unabashed aim and inevitable destiny of the sincere Actualist.
I have looked through the remaining two chapters of the book and there is nothing there that Paul has not said already or that I have not commented on – so I will draw the ‘D + A = nc’ series to an end. It’s been great fun, an exercise that was well worth doing as the practice of denial and acceptance continually operates to actively prevent an actual peace from breaking out in human beings.
I recently came across an example of this denial in operation when I tried in vain to initiate a discussion about peace on earth on the Sannyasin Mailing List –
As you can see it was impossible to keep the subject on track as the veil of denial was quickly lowered and the usual spiritual counter attack clichés were wheeled out to avert any further discussion of the facts. That is why this book review was so useful as what is written (both Actualist and Spiritualist) can be compared, evaluated and contemplated upon and a sensible judgement be made as to the facticity of each alternative process.
It is good to make sense of both alternatives offered – both Spiritual Freedom and Actual Freedom, both ‘the peace that passeth all understanding’ and actual peace-on-earth.
MODERATOR: The rejection of rigid religiosity for the purity of the ‘pure consciousness experience’ you are calling for has been the message of most of the world’s mystics – including those whose recognition of the complexity involved in actually doing so eventually led them to create doctrine, path and form to help others progress toward the goal.
PETER: Ah, I can see why I am still on the list. You think I am peddling some new variation of old time religion disguised as New Dark Age spirituality.
When I first came across the possibility of an actual freedom from malice and sorrow I thought it must have been a spiritual thing because only the spiritual people talked of freedom. It took me months until I began to understand that the traditional spiritual path offered a feeling of liberation for one’s spirit or soul before death prior to a final real liberation from earthly suffering after physical death. I see that some people on the list use the expression illusion of ‘self’ and others refer to the illusionary physical world which means what must be REAL is one’s spirit, soul, Self, Atman, Essence, Heart, etc. – a disembodied, non-physical entity. By concentrating on repressing sensible thought, denying the actual world as evidenced by the physical senses, and letting one’s impassioned feelings and imagination run riot a new detached, superior and holy entity is realized.
To get to this state of complete dissociation is for most a very complex and torturous process and only a rare few manage to pull it off completely. The level of denial of the physical world alone requires an extraordinary effort. To regard all that we see, hear, touch, feel, smell, eat and breathe to be illusionary requires a mind-bending act of astounding tortuousness. It is because of the complexity and difficulty involved that most mystics had to renounce the obvious pleasures and delights of the physical world and go off to caves, monasteries, ashrams, lone wanderings and indulge in often bizarre practices such as meditation, yoga, chanting, whirling, special diets, celibacy, etc. in order to strengthen their fantasies.
The ‘self’ (including all its cunning spiritual variations) is an illusion, not the physical, tangible, palpable physical world.
The simple test as to what is actual is to place a peg on the nose, place some Gaffer tape firmly across the mouth and wait 10 minutes. As you rip the tape from your mouth and gasp for breath you will have an experiential understanding of what is actual and what is illusionary.
When I had my altered states of consciousness experiences I couldn’t quite pull off the denial of the physical bit. Something always made me suss about the need for renunciation, the isolationism, the elitism, the head-in-the-cloud feelings. The grand and glorious feelings were sure seductive but thankfully I held on to my doubts and my common sense and didn’t trust my feelings.
If you can recall having a pure consciousness experience you would remember that there is not a skerrick of rigid religiosity nor slippery spirituality in it at all. It is an experience where there is no psychological or psychic entity whatsoever present in the flesh and blood body. There is no ‘I’ to feel glorious, to feel Oneness, to feel Divine, to feel Whole. There is no Love, God, Essence, Source, etc. that is the grand reason, plan, creation, essence, energy, life-force, etc. that gives the psychic entity in the body a grand and glorious place or part to play. In the pure consciousness experience there is no affective faculty, nor any capacity for imagination in operation. So vast, so perfect and so pure is this physical universe directly experienced by the body’s physical senses that the immediate becomes vibrant, alive, sensuous, tactile and actual. There is no feeling of separation, nor any feeling of unity for it is obvious and apparent that I am this body, made of the same stuff of the universe, live cells made from the union of sperm and egg, sustained by eating the stuff of the earth, swimming in and breathing the air of the earth, surrounded by stuff made from the earth – and when this body dies the stuff left goes back to the earth. Finish, kaput, finito, gone, extinct, stuffed, no more. Perfect.
Because a pure consciousness experience is a temporary ‘self’-less experience with no emotions or feelings operating whatsoever there is no emotional memory of the experience afterwards. As such it can be lost in the memory or can easily be dismissed as an aberration and not taken for what it is.
PETER: I realize I was pushing the envelope to dare to try and talk about how to actualize peace on earth on a spiritual mailing list. Your ruling does add substance to my point that peace on earth is not on the spiritual agenda, a bit ‘less interesting’ than the main event. I have yet to see it mentioned in any spiritual teaching for all religious belief is concerned either with ‘the peace that passeth all understanding’, ‘inner’ peace or ‘Resting In Peace’, after death.
MODERATOR: Keep reading. It’s definitely out there. See Mahayana Buddhism, Sufism, the writings of Swami Vivekananda, and more recently, the works of my own teacher, Andrew Cohen, which speak extensively about this subject. Visit www.andrewcohen.org for more info.
PETER: If you want to make a point of substance and worth, it is of no use to wave your arms and say it’s somewhere ‘out there’. Please provide some evidence to substantiate your claims for saying one thing while doing another – stifling a discussion about peace on earth – does somewhat weaken your stance. However, looking briefly in the directions you indicated I find –
Buddhism’s central tenet is that
Peace in the Buddhist world of fundamental disappointment and suffering is maintained either by keeping one’s inner cool, remaining focused within and being morally and ethically ‘right’ or, for the serious practitioners, finding an sheltered peace by retreating to isolated monasteries or spiritual communities of like-minded people. Nowhere do I find in Buddhist teachings any mention of peace on earth, in this lifetime, as this flesh and blood body only. (...)
PETER: As for the teachings of Swami Vivekananda –
In Eastern religion to become great means to become a God-man and the measure of greatness and power is measured by the number of other people he manages to convince of his Godliness. If successful, yet another religion or religious faction is born to add to the plethora of insular and competing religions already on the planet.
This is the superficial argument at the centre of Vedanta – the only reason we feel malicious and sorrowful is that we have yet to realize that we are God. Once we realize we are God, then the bad feelings disappear in a puff of smoke and everything will feel okay. This puerile belief does nothing to address or change the underlying root cause of human malice and sorrow.
In Vedanta it is not selfish to believe you are God-on-earth, ‘because you are all’. As long as you feel and show compassion for those who have not yet realized they are God then one’s exalted position is justified. The Vedanta system did very well in India where thousands would queue for hours to kiss feet the of Ramana Maharshi and worship him as God, but this adoration is usually toned down in the West to a humble form of boot-licking rather than the more traditional feet kissing.
This great ideal and faith has failed lamentably to bring anything even remotely resembling peace on earth. It is founded on the fundamental principle that earthly suffering is essential in order to undertake the great search for God-realization – if human beings didn’t fight and suffer then we would have no need for the belief in God or the need to feel we are God. Nowadays we can nip this nonsense in the bud for we now know the root cause of human suffering and go for the jugular rather than wallow in denial and God-inspired fantasies.
Life and peace after death is clearly indicated as is the continuation of his greatness after death – the longed-for immortality of each God-man’s message that inevitably forms warring and competing religions.
PETER to No 8: You are on record as saying –
– which does seem to me that you are following an ancient tradition of spiritualism. Could I stretch my assumption to say you are a follower of Eastern religion and philosophy or would this be too presumptuous?
I would like to be clear about what it is you are agreeing with and what you are not agreeing with. Simply avoiding, feinting agreement or dismissing my questions is no answer. I would also be interested in your comments about the revelations of Zen Buddhism in the book reviews at the link I posted.
In order to keep this discussion simple and on-track, I’ll summarize your position as you have recently posted it on the list,
Thus it is our personal identification (ego) which has caused the untold suffering on the planet but the suffering is necessary so that a few people can undergo an ego-death.
Thus the suffering is endemic, cannot be stopped – and is indeed necessary – and all we can do is go deeply into a process of dis-identifying with the suffering on earth.
So you propose that human suffering on earth is not a problem, but identifying with it is. From where I live that sounds awfully like a process of denial and dissociation – the essential process espoused by all Eastern religion and philosophy.
RESPONDENT: That is the definition of conditioning.
PETER: Well, let’s look have a look at what your previously stated definition of conditioning and see if we see any similarities –
Just to remind you that you also said elsewhere that ‘The ego has always been just conditioned thought’ and from this it is clear that your definition of conditioning is not something that is a ‘genetically-encoded program that automatic responds to input producing almost instantaneous robotic bodily reactions’. The animal instinctual passions programmed in human beings are something very real. They are the very cause of human malice and suffering. To call them ‘a phantom in the mind’ is to call all ‘all wars, all hatred, all suffering’ that these instinctual animal passions cause a phantom of the mind.
To regard the genetically-encoded animal instinctual passions as a phantom in the mind is the old-fashioned out-dated Eastern philosophical view of human existence on earth that comes from the ancient superstitious belief in spirits – hence the very world spiritual.
What I am saying is that there is now solid empirical scientific evidence that confirms what we see with our very eyes and can confirm in our own experience, if we are sufficiently aware – that human malice and sorrow is the direct result of our instinctual animal passions in operation. This is a shocking thing to realize, let alone acknowledge, and one only does so with the firm knowledge that it is possible to eradicate them otherwise one stares into a black hole of terror and dread. This is where the pure consciousness experience is invaluable as it provides the proof that it is not only possible, but utterly essential, to eradicate all of these instinctual passions in order to actualize peace on earth.
You are also on record as saying ‘but if any science can find it, (the truth) it will come by way of the ‘theoretical mystical science’’ – a further indication of your denial that the instinctual passions are real and genetically-encoded i.e. physical. You go even further into denial and insist that the source of ‘all wars, all hatred, all suffering’ is meta-physical – ‘a phantom in the mind’. Vis:
PETER to No. 7: A marvellous opportunity is now available for any who are willing to face facts. No longer do we humans have to feel guilt or shame, pray to God for redemption or salvation, seek to escape from evil into an ‘inner’ world of isolation and feeling-only existence, no longer do we have to humble ourselves before God-men. Simply acknowledging the fact that our malice and sorrow results from an instinctual program instilled by blind nature in order to ensure the survival of the species is the first step towards becoming actually free of malice and sorrow. To continue to deny factual empirical evidence is to indulge in denial and this denial actively prevents your chance at experiencing peace on earth in this lifetime. Peter to No 7, 25.4.2000
RESPONDENT: Beautiful. I couldn’t agree more. But ultimately only through seeing the empirical evidence objectively will this statement serve the manifestation of peace and sanity.
PETER: Methinks seeing things ‘objectively’ is at the root of Buddhist philosophy. Objectively means –
On the face of it, being objective can sound reasonable until you note the words –
To see things objectively means one has to become an outside observer and not involved which fairly describes the Buddhist philosophy. By cool objective observation, practicing ‘right concentration and right action’, one lives one’s life in objective detachment and thus transcends desire and suffering. Where I come from, this is dissociation.
Give me subjective investigation any day. It does mean facing the facts of the human condition, both of the real world and the spiritual world, but the rewards are palpable, tangible and actual.
RESPONDENT to No 6: Your friendly, enthusiastic posts have really cheered me up! I was so happy when you and No 5 so decisively resolved the tension here which was coming from Peter’s ‘bull-in-the-china-shop’ episode.
PETER: If you feel tense about what I write then that is easy – delete my posts and don’t read them.
All of the spiritual people I know have the same approach to the Human Condition as it is manifest in the world – turn off the TV, turn away and tune ‘inside’. It doesn’t make it go away, but you can pretend it isn’t happening or that it has got nothing to do with you. I used to do the same thing in my spiritual years but I was challenged by the simple statement that ‘if I couldn’t live with at least one other person in utter peace and harmony then human life on earth was indeed a sick joke’. So I turned on the TV, questioned the facticity of all of my social/spiritual beliefs and began an intensive investigation of my own psyche to find the source of my instinctual passions. Things like why do I lust after power, why do I get angry, why do I get sad, why do I feel lonely, why am I jealous, why do I feel like an alien, why am I constantly fearful, etc.
As for ‘bull-in-the-china-shop’, I am well aware that what I am saying is rattling the door of the church while all inside are busy retreating even further ‘inside’. I know there is a sign on the door that says, ‘Shush, we are busy sitting in thoughtless silence, raising the consciousness of the world on to a higher plane’. I write on the assumption that there may be someone inside the church who has some doubts and is ready and willing to consider a third alternative.
RESPONDENT: This seems to be a very basic formula, but knowing that the mind can only deal in division and loves to split and then reassemble the pieces of the fractured wholeness back into what appears to be something ‘new’, there is some sense that we could be playing the same old, never-ending game again here.
PETER: Indeed, there is a plethora of claims made for a new spirituality, a new way, an ordinary spirituality, the real Truth, a third way, a middle path etc. In my spiritual years I remained loyal and faithful to one teacher for most of my time but when he died I saw the inevitable fragmenting and formaldehyding of the religion so I moved on to others who all claimed to have unique new insights and revelations. I never quite managed to replicate the love affair I had with my first teacher which, in hindsight, was very useful. I was more able to clearly look at what the others were saying and offering and I eventually came to see that they all parroted versions of that old seductive message – there is life after death and we are just ‘passing through’ before we go to a better place ‘somewhere else’. Sweet music and sweet poetry for the soul. The more one soaks up this message, the less one becomes interested in, and involved in, life on earth, where we flesh and blood humans actually live.
What I saw was that I was playing the same old denial, renunciation and transcendence game that has been played – with undoubted sincerity, conviction and intensity – by billions of my fellow human beings for millennium. That’s why I went for something new and radical – to cut to the quick of the problem –’me’ (as ‘self’ or ‘Self’).
‘I’ am an illusion, not the physical material palpable world. (...)
RESPONDENT: Do you have to ‘ignore’ anything to maintain this state?
PETER: No. It was only by ceasing to ignore and deny the fact that I was as mad and as bad as everyone else in the world, that I was able to get stuck into doing something about myself. To see that, at the core of my ‘being’, I am an instinctual animal – robotically programmed for fear, aggression, nurture and desire. To explore and plumb these depths and see the dread and despair, the lust for violence and the diabolical was to experience the raw animal passions at ‘my’ core. Most people who have glimpses of this dark side in themselves, as in dark nights of the soul, frantically seek to identify with the supposed good passions and become good, more loving, grateful, humbly superior and God-identified. It was only by ceasing to ignore and deny the animal instinctual passions in me, and abandoning my seductive indulgence in ancient spiritual belief, that I was able to free myself of the instinctual passions and live happy and harmlessly in the world as-it-is with people as-they-are. Practicing denial and renunciation leads to rejection of, and disassociation from, the sensuous delight of this actual physical palpable world we live in.
It was only when I stopped ignoring facts and stopped indulging in my beliefs and feelings that I could begin to experience the ever-present actual world of sensate delight, purity and perfection.
Paradise is here on earth – not in our hearts, nor in heaven.
RESPONDENT: I would like to hear more about the dynamics of your alternative. How does it ‘work’?
PETER: As I have indicated, the first step is to fully take on board the modern discoveries that ‘who’ we think we are and ‘who’ we feel we are is nothing other than a social identity overlaying an instinctual identity – and that both are nothing more than operating programs in our brain.
This alien identity, or ‘self’, stands in the way of the already existing purity and perfection of the actual world becoming apparent and this is made startlingly clear in the ‘self’-less pure consciousness experience or peak experience.
From this experience one is clearly able to identify this alien entity as the source of one’s malice and sorrow, and one merrily sets in motion the process that will lead to living the pure consciousness experience, 24 hrs. a day, every day.
The first step is to actively demolish the first layer, one’s social identity – all the beliefs, morals, ethics and psittacisms that each of us have been programmed with since birth. In my case it was Peter the son, Peter the man, Peter the father, Peter the spiritual believer, Peter the good, Peter the bad, Peter the builder, etc, etc. It is only when I had substantially eliminated or deleted this program that I could clearly look at, and sensibly investigate, the core instinctual being that is ‘me’.
This second stage is where all seekers, up to now, have been seduced into denial of the ‘bad’ instinctual passions of fear and aggression and attempted to transcend them in order to develop a new spiritual identity based on the ‘good’ passions. It takes sincere intent to avoid this atavistic seduction and instinctual grasp for survival (nurture) and self-aggrandizement (desire) and to dig deep to actively eliminate the insidious robotic influence that the instinctual passions have on one’s actions and thinking.
PETER: As for ‘cynical disillusioned’, I have had this charge levelled at me countless times. Below is a typical exchange from the Sannyas mailing list before I was cyber-executed from the list for being too heretical and iconoclastic ... <Snip>
PUBLISHER No 1: Look Peter I’m not sure about the stuff you wrote. It all seems pretty right to me except that I see it’s not His responsibility to create this, for me a ‘new man’ of some sort has emerged in me but he didn’t do it, I did. I never saw any of these things as promises, maybe they are, maybe they’re not, but for me they were statements of possibilities. This is possible, but I never thought for one second that he or Sannyas would create this – I realized I had to do anything that needed doing or stop doing things that don’t need doing.
Look, people who want to debate I’m right your wrong or any number of variations on this don’t interest me. I don’t think Sannyas can save the world, or even make a good cup of tea for that matter, but I can and you can if you want to.
PETER: That’s a pretty clear statement. You never thought for one second that the New Man was going to happen and you never thought for one second that peace on earth would ever happen. And you don’t want to talk about or debate about peace on earth. It keeps up the 100% record of Sannyasins who are either in denial or don’t care.
What I find fascinating is a movement that was supposedly altruistic and caring has degenerated into a self-centred social club totally lacking in any direction or motive apart from self-fulfillment – both as a group and as individuals. No wonder peace on earth forever remains an unfulfilled dream. Peace on earth is literally sacrificed at the altar of dead God-men.
PUBLISHER No 1: It was good to hear from you. You are a man of many words.
I won’t reply now in the particular to your email, there is just too much for me to answer at the moment. But a few thoughts. You don’t really know me and yet you constantly relate everything I say to ‘Eastern religion’ This is the Big Lie technique. Repeat a lie enough times and it becomes true. As it happens I have no time for Eastern Religion, the New Age and so called Alternative Therapies, I think your difficulty is that you do not see how this is possible.
PETER: I do find it difficult. For me, once I saw that Sannyas was nothing other than Eastern religion, I found it increasingly difficult to maintain my state of denial of what I had got myself into. This practice of denial of the world as-it-is, and the acceptance of ‘me’ as-I-am, is common in Eastern philosophy and religion and I have written of it extensively, particularly in my review of Paul Lowe’s book ‘In Each Moment’.
You do seem to have some wobbles however, for you have said in a previous post – ‘I ‘think’ if you examine it again you’ll see that those of ‘my’ religion (do I own this religion?)...’ This is a sign of someone who is at least willing to toy with the idea of not denying and maybe beginning to question. But here again you lapse back into defensive mode and retreat even further from questioning and back into even more trenchant denial.
PUBLISHER No 1: I believe that I’ve never (since I was a child) been a believer in anything much. There are many things I don’t know – I’ve no idea what happens when we die and not much interest. I’ve no idea about god or god men and no beliefs around these ideas – again you don’t see how this is possible. I’ll find out one day about death etc, but for the moment it’s irrelevant. The only things I believe in general are those things which I’ve experienced and tried out for myself. If I haven’t tried it out for myself then I don’t know and it’s as simple as that.
PETER: ‘Not knowing’ is highly venerated in the East – where ignorance is bliss, thinking for oneself and questioning of one’s faith is actively discouraged – for the very reason that facts and common sense are anathema to beliefs and impassioned imagination.
Thus it is that people are encouraged to ignore what the ‘mind-fuckers’ are saying – ‘you are in your head and not your heart’ is a common spiritual put-down. One is encouraged to go by one’s own ‘experience’ by which they mean go by one’s own feelings for the spiritual world is but a world of feeling and imagination.
PUBLISHER No 1: I have tried intellectualizing and I enjoy that, which is why I return your emails – I think you must like intellectualizing as well. I have no problems with using the mind or whatever you wish to label it.
PETER: Do you have a purpose to your intellectualizing, as in using your thinking ability to find out, explore and investigate something which you do not know about? I always find it interesting that people will read, ask questions and investigate by whatever means to find out about computers, work, gardening, etc., but not about the Human Condition we find ourselves ensnared in. For this they accept, and follow devoutly, the Wisdom of the Ancient Ones as though their myopic world view and their fear-ridden perspective on human existence and meaning is somehow sacred and profound. Most curious.
PUBLISHER No 1: Also your response was to cut and paste from all over the place only to support your argument and I see that you do not understand some quite simple things that I say. You use the General to legitimate the Particular and as far as I’m concerned this is not on, e.g. ‘Some Jews are very good with money’ becomes ‘all Jews are good with money’ This is why I perceive you as stereotyping so often. Your stereotyping of me is wrong most of the time.
PETER: Another furphy.
What about ‘all Jews believe in the Jewish god and are therefore religious people’ – exactly as ‘all Sannyasins believe that Rajneesh was a God-man and are therefore religious people’. At least this example has some relevance to the discussion.
As an aside, I have heard Sannyasins described as New Age Jews which I take it is not that ‘all Sannyasins are good with money’, which is clearly wrong, but it may relate to their small numbers, their fierce isolationism, their feeling of ultimate superiority and their identification as the persecuted one’s.
Whose commandment is it that thou shalt ‘not use the General to legitimate the Particular’? Why are you back in denial when you have already agreed on the value and necessity of sensible judgement –
And yet here we have another version of ‘thou shalt not judge’. A spiritual person is encouraged not to use the mind, not to sensibly judge – or label, or stereo-type, or ... – instead one is encouraged to practice denial and acceptance, both of which are as judgemental as all get out. These imbibed habits can be tough to break but the rewards are freedom from following yet another psittacism. (...)
PETER to Publisher No 1: There is a dare in Actual Freedom that sends most people scurrying for cover, for very few are interested in radical and permanent change.
I am very interested in your comment that ‘ there were many others that demonstrated this as well’, for I haven’t come across any other experiments. If you can remember any specific studies, can you let me know? Although this particular experiment was repeated many times, in the end it was declared unethical and any similar research was frowned upon. This restriction on human behavioural research represents denial of facts in action, but given the Galileo precedent, this denial usually only lasts for a few hundred years before common sense eventually prevails as the empirical evidence becomes widely accepted. It was left to this current Pope to begrudgingly give the earth the right to orbit around the sun. And one doesn’t hear much of the Flat Earth Society after the stunning photos of earth were taken by the Apollo astronauts.
A similar begrudging process of on-going denial will happen with the empirical evidence that human beings are genetically-encoded with the animal instincts of fear, aggression, nurture and desire.
It is this hundreds-of-years time span from initial publication to begrudging acceptance that I find most interesting. In fact, I understand that the theory that the earth may revolve around the sun had been around about 2000 years ago, was mathematically calculated by Copernicus in 1543, and then empirically confirmed by Galileo’s observations in 1613. If one takes this process from initial thought to empirical proof to final Papal approval of the earth’s behaviour, then the time span is in millennia, not centuries. In the case of acknowledging animal instinctual passions in human beings, we are looking at a time span of maybe one hundred years from theory to the current emergence of empirical neuro-biological evidence – given, of course, that everybody conveniently ignores the blatantly obvious behavioural evidence of all the wars, murders, rapes, tortures, domestic violence, corruption, loneliness, despair and suicides that are endemic on the planet.
What is apparent to me is that peace on earth will be a long time coming and many, many human beings will miss the bus. And that the spiritually-inclined will do everything in their power to deny the existence of instinctual animal passions in human beings for without the mythical belief in ‘bad’ and Evil, there is no need for the mythical belief in ‘good’ and God.
Peter’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.