Selected Correspondence Peter
RESPONDENT: Thanks for your dialogues.
PETER: You may not be thanking me if you understood that what I am saying is 180 degrees opposite to your spiritual knowing.
RESPONDENT: As long as ‘I’ live, Richard is a liar. ‘I’ cannot imagine how an identity can die! How can I take Richard’s words that ‘Richard’ died? I need an extraordinary proof. As long as ‘I’ live, I think there will be doubt. To totally admit that ‘Richard’ vanished will be the end of ‘me’ I think! ‘I’ think ‘Richard’ is very much around. ‘Richard’ is lying. Extraordinary Proof 1.7.2005
RESPONDENT: Or maybe Richard is not a liar but he is fooling himself. And fooling others as a side effect (but not No 58 – no, he can’t be fooled!). To summarize, these are the possibilities:
Which is actually true?/
This is a life or death question to ‘me’. I can’t go by trust or a general sense that I get by reading other writings of his that he maybe genuine. All these indirect inferences don’t have much value in deciding this final question./ Let me sleep over this stuff. The question of death 1.7.2005
PETER: I thought to write to you to let you know that I am currently working on a project that will put paid to your inference that Richard does not exist as a flesh and blood body. Whilst I am under no illusion that there are those who will dismiss a video image as being proof of existence (given that there are those who dismiss the beamed-to-earth images of men walking on the surface of the moon as being a hoax) I know that many will find it assuring that a fellow human being has written, and is still currently writing, of his experiential knowledge of the human condition and of his experience of how to become free from it.
As for your other list of doubts, I am reminded of a time when similar doubts would swirl around in my mind. The particular question that I remember that arose for me was ‘what would happen if Richard disappeared’ – packed up and left, disappeared over the horizon, as it were, never to be seen or heard of again. Upon reflection I realized that what he had written and said made sense to me – and far more sense than anything I had read, heard or experienced in the spiritual world – and that I actually begun to become more happy and more harmless by simply being attentive to whenever I was feeling unhappy or feeling resentful or feeling antagonistic towards any of my fellow human beings. It then struck me that both of these factors meant that I already had the confidence to not have to rely on Richard but that I was, in fact, already beginning to stand on my own two feet as it were.
Of course, I was no fool – I made sure I had a hard copy of Richard’s writings in the form of his journal as a guide for my own investigations into the human condition – but this particular time sticks in my mind as being significant in that it marked the end of my futile attempts of settling for being a faithful follower and the beginning of my journey to an actual autonomy, and all that that entails.
Whilst I am writing to you I’ll just mention another thing that might be helpful to you as it also relates to the issue of doubt. In my early days of actualism I was often taken aback by the attitude of others whenever I happened to mention that I had given up my spiritual search and had decided instead to devote my life to becoming happy and harmless. Not only were some of my spiritual friends affronted by my decision, even to the point of calling me ungrateful, but even those who had never trod the spiritual path would often cast doubts and make disparaging comments on my aspirations to become happy and to be harmless. As I investigated each of these objections to being happy and harmless – for that is indeed what these comments were in fact – what I found was that the objections invariably fell into predictable categories – moral and/or ethical objections based on various religious and/or sectarian dogmas, objections based on inculcated beliefs that suffering and fighting are necessary in order to ‘survive’, objections based on the fact that ‘the world’ (read ‘my’ world) is indeed a miserable place, objections rooted in the fear of change and of moving too far from the herd or, when all else failed, visceral reactions of either head-in-the-sand denial, head-in-the-clouds piousness and even on occasions outright hostility.
I remember many a time being astounded at the reactions of others to what seemed to me at the time – and still does, of course – an eminently sensible and completely do-able goal in life – to become actually free of malice and sorrow, in other words to become actually free from the human condition. However I never allowed either the objections or the objectors to get me down for long as it was just plain silly to take on board the words, or allow myself to be cowered by the vibes, of those who are in essence doing nothing but disparaging those who dare to pursue radical change whilst they at the same time offer nothing other than a defence of the human condition and/or a championing of the status quo.
Anyone who dares to set their sights on becoming happy and harmless, particularly in this early pioneering phase, is bound to experience the same reactions from their fellow human beings who have decided for whatever reason to stay ensnared within the human condition. It is after all no little thing to abandon humanity, to cease battling it out with one’s fellow human beings who remain instinctually driven to do battle with each other, often in the name of some spurious cause or other on the basis of a compulsive yet phoney ‘need to survive’.
I would like to finish by making a comment on something you wrote several weeks ago as it seems relevant to your current questions.
What occurred to me when I read of your experience is that such experiences are best left as one-off experiences, i.e. one such experience can be said to have been a learning experience, a repeat of such an experience can be said to be silly if one is at all cognizant that one is indeed slipping down the same slippery slope again. I remember having an experience of absolute dread in my early years of intimately exploring the human psyche in action and the experience left me literally bruised and battered for days. Whilst the experience was revealing in and of itself, to experience first-hand the horrors of the hellish realm that is the root of dread is not something that I recommend to anyone and it was certainly an experience that I never wanted to repeat for myself – if ever there is a dead end, then the feeling of dread is it.
The point I am making is that even if the opportunity presented itself for me to go down that path again, I would have declined and declined emphatically. As you have probably guessed by now I am suggesting to you that it may well make sense for you to do the same, given the nature of the experience you had last time and given that it appears to me that you could be at the start of the same slippery slope to the same experience. I do realize that I could well be wrong in my assumptions (which is why I very rarely offer personal advice to anyone) but I thought I would pass on my personal experience as it may well be of use to you – after all, the human condition is a condition that is common to all human beings.
PS: Vineeto has suggested that the following links might be of interest as they relate to the issue of doubt, as well as the issue of confidence –
GARY: However, as I am very new in this enterprise, I have many doubts and objections. Perhaps one of the strongest reservations I have is this: I have been deluded so many times before in searching for ‘the answer’ in spiritual groups, therapy, and ‘self- improvement’ activities, I feel that I am ‘waiting for the left shoe to drop’, to use an expression to point to the experience of being disillusioned.
PETER: Yep. When I started on this path I was very wary, very cautious, for the discoveries I had made on the spiritual path had led to more doubts and objections than answers and truths. I had seen ‘behind the curtain’ of three living spiritual teachers and witnessed the disparity between how they were as human beings and what they taught. It was a gradual dawning to the understanding that to follow the teachings of someone who does not live what he teaches is nonsense, no matter how seductive the teachings are. Further investigations led me to discover that all of the flesh and blood Gurus and teachers have skeletons in their closets, that none are what they say they are, or would have us believe they are.
Therefore, much of my early period with Richard was spent in quietly checking out how he was with other people and whether he was he living what he wrote about. The other thing I did very early on, as soon as I had established a prima facie case in favour of actualism, was set about trying it out – finding out if the method worked, and the particular challenge I took on was ... ‘if I couldn’t live with at least one other person in equity, peace and harmony then life on earth was indeed a sick joke’.
This ‘finding out if it works’ is the only way to deal with doubts and objections.
GARY: There is a healthy dose of skepticism at this point, a not wanting to take the whole thing hook-line-and-sinker. I guess I am saying that, whereas I thought I was willing to take the plunge unreservedly, there is a hesitation, a wait and see approach. And perhaps that is as it should be.
PETER: I would say it is impossible for those who have been on the spiritual path to immediately take actualism on, hook-line-and-sinker, for it is completely opposite to Spiritualism. To do so, without understanding the radical difference between the two, is to completely miss the point and to only indulge in further delusion, or attempt to take on actualism as a yet another belief-system. This is why so much of one’s early investigations involve freeing oneself from spiritual morals, ethics, values and beliefs such that one begins the process of turning around and facing the other direction.
It does seem that you may well be reporting doubts after the fact, something I often found myself doing. Sort of a ‘what have I got myself into this time’. I can only report: it’s simply the best because it’s actual!
GARY: But I want to forge on with this. One example of this is writing this post. My usual approach is to reticently test the waters before jumping in on a list such as this. I am excited to have this opportunity to ‘compare notes’ with others that are going through this, and so I am jumping right in there.
PETER: A lot of what I write is in hindsight about the process and when I look back what I did was jump in straight away, but I kept my wits about me. I had this burning desire to be free, and a burning discontent with my life as it was. I was determined to get to the bottom of this mystery and, as I was already suss of the spiritual path, I figured ‘I had nothing left to lose’ by jumping straight in. I jumped in to finding out about what was on offer, and finding out if it worked as opposed to my falling for spiritual belief where I had left my mind at the door, surrendered my will and trusted my feelings. If anyone attempts to take actualism on as a belief it will do nothing for them, there will be no radical change.
PETER: (...) Very early on, after having established a prima-facie case that actualism made sense and was worth a whole-hearted go, I wanted to find out for myself if what Richard was saying was true, as in factual, and whether using the method would work, as in bring about actual change. Spurred on by my early successes I then wanted to write of my experiences, investigations and findings so as to put it on record for others to read and assess for themselves. At the time of writing my Journal I stopped seeing Richard on a regular basis and did a lot of investigating, sorting out, and making sense of the human condition as it manifested as ‘me’.
GARY: I sometimes have the greatest doubts about what I am undertaking. And why shouldn’t I? Nobody I see, from the evidence around me, has taken it upon themselves to end their instinctual malice and sorrow forever. So occasionally it occurs to me ‘Maybe I am all wrong – maybe I’m way off base’. It occurs to me that I am just going through another of many phases that will end in my complete disillusionment, scrapping the whole thing, and finding something else to chase for awhile – in other words, it will end like all my spiritual searching – in abysmal failure.
PETER: I can well relate to what you are saying. I went through a similar stage and included the fear chapter in my Journal deliberately to explain this phase. Certainly part of the reason for my doubt was that I had been so gullible in the past in taking on beliefs, ideals and causes, all of which proved failures. The only thing that got me over the hump, so to speak, was the success I was having in becoming more happy and harmless, confirmed by my interaction with others, and the memory of my pure consciousness experiences.
I also saw that he fact that I was a failure in both the real world and the spiritual world gave a firm basis on which to dare to explore further afield. This dissatisfaction and disillusionment, based on life-experience and not theory, was to provide the backpressure that got me through doubt and on to certainty based on the confidence of success. I know you have read it before but my dead rabbit story from my journal may be relevant –
Just to make it clear, I am not saying don’t doubt, for that would involve either denying or suppressing it or looking for some other antidotal feeling such as faith, trust, hope or optimism. Doubt is a feeling and like all other feelings that arise it is a rich goldmine to experience, investigate, explore and understand in action. Doubt can also be a good tool in the pursuit of actuality for it serves to keep one’s feet on the ground as its only effective antidote is to continue to seek and take continual note of your practical successes in becoming more happy and more harmless. Without this proof of perceptible change, doubt can only be countered by belief, faith, trust and hope in an imaginary dream world of the ‘truth of actualism’. What I found I had to do regularly was to acknowledge my successes even to the point of figuratively patting myself on the back. And when things got really tough I took some time to sit down and ask myself again what it was that I wanted to do with my life, what was my goal – and soon the memory of a pure consciousness experience would swan in.
A distinct memory of a PCE combined with an understanding of its significance is a very haunting experience after which it is very difficult to ever again settle for second best.
RESPONDENT: After all, you are against Rajneesh. And in a sense I wanted to prove you have misunderstood him. Now I understand it’s not my business. Who am I that I try to change your understanding of him? Your understanding and mine are different. That’s all for me now. I don’t think you are on the wrong path. I just don’t know. So there is no bridge between us now.
PETER: When I first met Richard I had two things going for me. One was that I was beginning to question the gap between the ideals and promises of the spiritual world, and what was the down-to-earth results, both for me after 17 years of effort and for billions of others over a period of 5,000 years.
The second was that although the gulf between Richard and I was so enormous that I could not understand what he was saying about the actual world and actual freedom, I did remember a Pure Consciousness Experience – a glimpse of the actual world in which my ‘self’ in its entirety, both ego and soul, was temporarily absent. This proved to be the ‘bridge between us’ such that I could understand of what he was talking about. I described the PCE in my journal –
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. (...)
MODERATOR: Perhaps the greatest challenge for anyone who discovers the utter simplicity of the ‘PCE’ is to remain humble, to realize that, for all the ‘malice and sorrow’ that has been waged in the name of religion, at the heart of each tradition is a vast body of REAL wisdom about not only the ultimate fact of our essential non-dual nature, but about how a human being can come to realize and ultimately express that nature as themselves – an area about which all but those few perfected beings among us still have much to learn.
PETER: (...) There is no good and evil in the actual world.
There are simply human beings who are still driven by their instinctual passions and rather than ditch the lot, they deny the ‘bad’ ones and pump up the ‘good’ ones like all get out. Better to ditch the lot and then one is aware that any ideas of duality, non-duality or even beyond non-duality are but figments of human imagination and not actual.
How long will we continue this denial of the central role that genetically-encoded instinctual passions have in causing human malice and sorrow?
And how long will people keep turning away from the facts and proudly indulging in utterly ‘self’-ish theories and beliefs?
What I did was keep asking questions until all of my beliefs were replaced by substantiated verifiable facts. I would not settle on anything if I only felt something to be right and true or because someone else said it was so. I kept asking myself questions until I removed all doubt from my life. It became obvious that if I had to trust, have faith, believe or hope that something was so then it was not a fact but merely a belief or a feeling. When I came across the radical proposition that there was a third alternative to remaining normal or becoming spiritual I ran with the question: ‘What if there isn’t a God, by whatever name?’
This question can easily lead people into despair and hopelessness but when combined with the question: ‘What if there is a way that I can actually rid myself of malice and sorrow’, a whole new exciting and challenging ball game opens up.
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.
RESPONDENT: Maybe this is where I’m still questioning your doctrine; can we be ABSOLUTELY convinced that we can rely on the so called facts ... I mean psychology, biology and other sciences investigating the human body and mind haven’t been known to be that exact this far. I agree that these findings are MORE likely to qualify as a ‘truth’ or ‘facts’.
PETER: Given that a simple definition of a fact is that it is something that can be verified by seeing, touching, hearing, smelling or tasting and that it demonstratively so to anyone. For instance, the computer monitor you are watching and these words on the monitor are facts. This may seem simplistic but many meta-physically inclined people have trouble with even this level of sensibility. The other definition of a fact is that it should work, and this should be able to be demonstrated, replicated and substantiated by repeatable experiments. This eliminates belief, trust, faith, hope, conviction, intuition and doubt from any investigation for one always has fact as a reliable touchstone.
In a PCE it is startlingly evident that the human condition we are born into doesn’t work – it begets either cynical acceptance or fanciful denial as the prime mechanisms of coping with malice and sorrow. It then becomes an imperative to question all the morals, ethics, ideals, theories, ideas, concepts, truths, doctrines and dogmas that have been passed on to us by those who were here before us. Once begun in earnest, this process does not result in endless questioning loops for as one replaces fact with belief one’s confidence grows to the point where one no longer needs to believe others – the very action of believing stops. This is not a meta-physical ‘knowing’ or feeling, but a sensible down-to-earth discovery and acknowledgement of the facts of human existence on earth. From this feet-on-the-ground state of increasing confidence and heightened sensuousness one is then able to step out of the human condition with gay abandon and impunity.
RESPONDENT: The Christian monk should maybe consider another line of duty if he can’t come to terms with the fundamentals of Christianity ... where’s the trust for Gods sake!?
PETER: I take it that you are now saying the monk should come to terms with the fact that human pain and suffering on earth is fundamental to Christianity yet above you indicated that God ‘gave us the freedom of choice’.
Which is it or are you having a bet each way? By the way, having a bet each way is not a sign of trust – it is a sign of doubt.
Let’s face it, whatever messages God has sent or whatever human form God is manifest in, He/She/It demands that we suffer rightly because this God also suffers for us and He/She/It demands that we defend our belief in this God even to the point of sacrificing our lives.
God is indeed a sorrowful and wrathful God, but as you said – ‘God created man in his own image’.
RESPONDENT: It was about 8 years later after looking ever deeper into it that I awoke one morning and from the time the eyes opened until they closed in sleep that night there took place a complete transformation of what was left of this being. The ego was dead, there was no god to take its place. It was clear that the very words we use to communicate were a symptom of an underlying illness of misidentification. That we had evolved in such a way as to turn everything into abstractions and rarely, if ever, saw what was real before our eyes.
PETER: To regard that which is physical, tangible, palpable, visible, touchable, smellable, eatable, audible as an illusion is a trick of the impassioned mind that requires enormous effort. In the East this effort requires the torturous abandonment of sensible thinking and common sense – giving rise to the term ego death and the emergence of what could well be termed soulism – a feeling-only state of delusion. The lost, lonely, frightened and very cunning psychological and psychic entity that is the self becomes the Self – cunningly feeling Oneness, Wholeness, Timeless and Spaceless. The Eastern pursuit of ‘Ego-death’ has proven to be a very tragic delusion, for one becomes completely dissociated from what is actual as evidenced by the senses. This means that one renounces the world, both real and actual and begins a process of turning away, turning in, letting go, withdrawing, disidentifying and finally complete dissociation aka Enlightenment. The reason I use the word tragic is that spiritual seekers – many of whom began the spiritual search to find a way to bring about peace on earth – have now been seduced into turning away from the endemic malice and sorrow in the physical world we human beings live in and now regard it as illusionary, not real. They regard the spiritual world as REAL, the normal world as a nightmare to be avoided and the actual physical world as a dream created in their own minds. .
The question I ran for a long time is ‘Has everyone got it 180 degrees wrong?’ The fact that all these theories of human existence on earth were cooked up thousands of years ago was the beginning of my doubts. The other thing I found as I contemplated on the question was that it started to explain an awful lot of things about why the spiritual path that didn’t work.
RESPONDENT: (...) Keep looking, but don’t limit your understanding to the past. It can always go deeper. I mean that for us all.
PETER: I am surprised you keep responding at all. The only reason I came on to the mailing list was to offer a third alternative to those who were having doubts about Eastern religion and philosophy and the fact that it will bring peace on earth. You obviously have no doubts at all but I do think you should qualify your statement –
– lest others also question your teachings in the future.
RESPONDENT: I have a very limited contact with people, and even less contact with people who are trying to understand. The little time I spend on the net is the minimum I can do to help. I don’t know how long I will be on there, but as long as there is some feedback. I am still waiting for my copy of the ego issue so I can respond to what is said in it. I don’t know if anything that has been said here will make any difference to you. It doesn’t really matter.
PETER: I find that you are making your position clearer with every post, which I do appreciate. What I like is that an actualist can have a conversation with a spiritualist about such a vital and urgent matter as peace on earth and I think that matters a lot. So far the only hope for peace on earth has been to pray for God’s intervention or follow the teachings of God-men. It is good to get a voice for, and scrutiny of, the third alternative and even if it is censored from being posted on a public mailing list, it will go into the actualism records for others to read.
RESPONDENT: Just be open to the possibility that there is more that you are missing, which I try to do in my own case all the time.
PETER: I deliberately and with forethought turned my back on the spiritual world but I can see that you are probably too enmeshed and enshrined in it to even consider that there might be a third alternative. I only wrote to the list to let anyone who had doubts about the spiritual path know that there is now a third alternative. Interestingly, this alternative was pioneered by an ex-Enlightened being who managed to extradite himself from spiritual delusion and dared to live in the actual world free of any identity (being, Self, feeling of Oneness, Allness, etc.) whatsoever.
RESPONDENT: Thanks for the Web site address. I wish you had shared that with me at the beginning, and also to the group, which you may have before I joined.
PETER: Given that the mailing list is a discussion forum that purports to question ‘What is Enlightenment?’ I joined the discussion in order to see if some people had some doubts about the veracity and usefulness of the Enlightened state itself. If someone does have doubts about the spiritual path then I take the opportunity to offer more information, eventually including the Actual Freedom Trust website address. I am not proselytizing, only offering an alternative to those who might be interested. Given that no one expressed any doubts and I was quickly silenced on the list, this opportunity never arose. One person corresponded with me privately and I gave him the address although his interest may well prove to be intellectual only and not applied.
RESPONDENT: I’ve been reading your posts to the list and I do find your arguments very well written and engaging. But with respect to a spiritual inquiry that has the potential for lasting transformation, I find them lacking substance.
PETER: Yep. They contain no substance that supports spiritual beliefs – quite the contrary. My central tenant is that all religious pursuits aka spiritual enquiry, has failed after 3500 years of intense effort to bring peace on earth – quite the contrary – and surely its time to try something new. In this post you fail to address this issue but raise all sorts of sorts of objections such as style, properness, but not my religion, ... etc.
RESPONDENT: I also find them increasingly troubling.
PETER: Does this mean that you were troubled by what was written? As in ‘disturbed, upset, worried, disquieted ...’ Oxford Thesaurus
RESPONDENT: The reason that I find them lacking substance is that your basic premises are consistently laden with straw men. A straw man argument is one in which the way that you define the argument, what information you include or exclude, enables you to conveniently arrive at a predetermined conclusion. What I consistently find is that your interpretation of various dimensions of the spiritual life allows you quite unfairly to reach troubling conclusions.
PETER: By crying ‘unfair’ I take it that you believe in the idea of playing fair when it comes to questioning the delicate fragile nature of religious belief. This ideal of ‘I will be tolerant of and not question your beliefs on the proviso that you don’t question mine’ is now firmly set in place as the universal principle of religious tolerance. Religious tolerance is absolutely essential in the real world so as to limit the amount of suspicion and keep a lid on the animosity that results from the many conflicting and competing religions in the world. Most people deem it fair to criticize other religions within the confines of their individual religious group either overtly or covertly by implication, whereas anyone who criticizes their own religious beliefs is deemed to be being unfair. The hypocrisy of the ideal of religious tolerance is legendary.
As I am a thorough-going atheist, I have no tolerance whatsoever of any religions or any religious/spiritual beliefs, so crying ‘unfair’ falls on deaf ears.
RESPONDENT: The reason that they are troubling is that they seem very cynical.
PETER: If you mean ‘disparaging, contemptuous, scornful, sceptical, scoffing, doubting, unbelieving, disbelieving, distrustful, suspicious, misanthropic, critical and sardonic’ Oxford Thesaurus then you are spot on.
The reason I write unfairly and, as you see it, cynically, is simple –
All spiritual belief is based on the concept that human existence on earth is a ‘necessary suffering’ and that ultimate peace and fulfillment lies ‘elsewhere’, after death. This ‘necessary suffering’ is the Human Condition of malice and sorrow and includes wars, murders, rapes, tortures, domestic violence, despair and suicide. Therefore, this cynical belief that this appalling human suffering is ‘necessary’ is actively perpetuated by Eastern spiritual belief, by the God-men and shamans and their followers. With this belief firmly habituated on the planet, and particularly so in the Eastern religions, it is no wonder that human suffering and violence continue to flourish.
RESPONDENT: For example, you write:
Not only is this disrespectful towards individuals who actually did and do have a tremendous amount of true wisdom to offer in the name of the evolutionary potential of our species – i.e. how do I make the right decision as the right time for the right reasons – but it assumes that:
These assumptions do serve your conclusions, but are they true?
PETER: Firstly ‘you’ can never trust yourself to make the right decision at the right time for the right reasons for one man’s right is another man’s wrong, or woman’s wrong. It becomes a matter of whose opinion you respect, who you feel is right, who you doubt and who you trust, what your ideals are, who speaks to your heart, etc. The whole effort of trying to live unliveable ethics and morals is the cause of so much angst and confusion that it is much better to ditch the lot and decide matters on the basis of what is silly and what is sensible, what works and what doesn’t. This is what I mean by eliminating one’s social identity.
Then what remains is the problem and effort of keeping the feelings and emotions that instinctually programmed to automatically arise under control and hidden from view. Better to ditch the lot for these ‘self’-imposed shackles are the very feelings and emotions we yearn to seek freedom from. This is what I mean by ‘self’-immolation.
By the way, just to correct your assumptions in the interest of clarity –
The question of whether something is true or false is one that fascinates spiritual seekers for they are obsessed with doing the right thing. I remember watching an interview with a medical researcher and he was questioned about the ethical and moral considerations of implementing the results of the research. He replied that we don’t necessarily do what is the best thing; we have to do what is right thing. Give me a fact any time – you can rely on a fact, there is no doubt, no right and wrong, no good and bad with a fact. A fact is a fact, whether we like it or not, whether we think it is good or bad does not change a fact nor make it magically go away.
RESPONDENT: I might add that, as a celibate yoga fanatic who meditates a lot, it seems that you might be missing what the point of these ‘bizarre practices’ are really all about.
PETER: What do you mean ‘seems that you might be missing the point.’ Do you doubt your celibacy, yoga, fanaticism or meditation? I know what they are really all about – being anywhere but here and anywhere but now, in the world as-it-is, with people as they are. They are about turning away and tuning in to what is REAL. Given that you believe in the REAL, I fail to see your objection – or are you merely objecting to my ‘unfair’ way of calling a spade a spade.
RESPONDENT: Surely when one experiences the falling away of all false belief structures and human conditioning and programming it becomes obvious that there are no separate selves in the first place.
PETER: Now you are introducing the notion of a false belief. Are you implying there are false beliefs and true beliefs and that your belief is true? To believe means to ‘fervently wish to be true’. The action of believing is to emotionally imagine, or fervently wish, something to be real that is not actual – actual as in tangible, corporeal, material, definitive, present, obvious, evident, current, substantial, physical and palpable. A belief is an assumption, a notion, a proposition, an idea that requires faith, trust or hope to be sustained in the face of doubt, uncertainty and lack of factual evidence. Whereas a fact is a fact, demonstratively evident to all that it is actual and/or that it works.
Many beliefs are masqueraded as ‘truths’ or are merely accepted as facts in lieu of any serious scrutiny, or are protected by the blatant and stubborn refusal to question the facticity of that which is ‘dearly held’ to be true.
RESPONDENT: It may be that we mean different things by ‘ego’. Ego is often used as a synonym for self, but to me ‘ego’ simply denotes a constructed thing in psychological space, in the same way that ‘house’ denotes a constructed thing in physical space. ‘Self’ is the supposed real and independently existing entity or being I take myself to be. That self rests on a sense of identity with some thing, or set of things – my house, my ego, my soul, my idea that I Am. In the course of practice, both material and mental things are seen to be neutral in themselves, fundamentally insubstantial and not capable of providing a convincing basis for a real self. There is no need to take quarrel with houses or egos or altered states per se as obstructions to freedom; the obstruction lies in taking these things to be real and substantive, us and ours. Since the sense ‘I Am’ is itself an idea, then the self can be dropped without the need to demolish anything other than the delusion that supported it: the thinker and feeler can be absent without annihilating thinking and feeling.
Rather than ego death, I think that for the practical purpose of living in the world, just as it is useful to have a house with walls and a roof to offer shelter against the elements, so it is useful to have a sound and mature ego structure to enable us to act with optimum wisdom and compassion, to express the goodness and Love of Truth with least distortion. What is not needed is the self arisen from identifying with the ego because that leads straight into conflict, greedy consuming, fighting and defending. Being free of attachment to substance and self in physical or mental things means we do not believe that the building defined by the walls of the house is independently real or absolute, we are not fooled into believing that the person defined by the egoic boundaries is a separately existing being. Knowing the true nature of things we can live peacefully and joyfully within the world, using everything skilfully for the welfare of all.
PETER: Well I don’t doubt the sincerity of your beliefs but the fact of the matter is people are not living peacefully and joyfully in the world.
It is well-documented that the last century was the bloodiest to date – over 160 million human beings were killed by their fellow human beings and over 40 million people killed themselves in suicides – and there is no end in sight to this human slaughter and bloodlust. These are real human beings, on this planet and not illusionary human beings, in an illusionary world. That means at least 200 million of today’s children will suffer a similar fate.
I know that while I was in the spiritual world I had the feeling that if only everyone could feel what I feel then the world would be awash with peaceful and loving people. But I eventually became aware that this feeling was still self-centred, ego-centric, me-oriented, ‘inner’, private, etc. It was after all, only a feeling that ‘I’ had, not a fact that I or anyone else I had met, or read about, was living. The other fact that shook me up was that a sincere Christian has the same feeling, a sincere Buddhist has the same feeling, a sincere Muslim has the same feeling and yet when push comes to shove people are willing and eager to kill and die for their beliefs – so passionately and fervently do they believe in their feelings and their Truth or God. This is not only a well-documented historical fact, it is clearly in operation today amongst the New Dark Age religions. In the town where I live the Rajneeshees are involved in public conflict with the Poonjarians, the Course of Miracle followers are squabbling with the Christians, and the splits and chasms that are inevitably forming amongst the followers within the various spiritual groups, particularly after their Guru dies, are anything but peaceful or joyful. When I was on the spiritual path I always felt that ‘my’ Guru, ‘his’ teaching, which became my Truth, was superior to everyone else’s belief – this is the very nature of spiritual belief for one is extolled to trust one’s feelings, have faith, and above all, don’t doubt (which means don’t dare question the teacher or the teachings).
I know that you have these affective experiences, knowings and feelings of goodness and Love of Truth (God by another name), for I have had them myself – I know them well. But the fact is that religion, be it Eastern or Western, actively contributes to malice and sorrow as is evidenced by the countless religious wars, persecutions, sacrifices, penances, recriminations, repressions, ostracizations, denials, retributions, perversions and conflicts that are ever ongoing ...
RESPONDENT: I find reality as I thought it was very flimsy, a small island in an endless sea, but in no way an illusion. So I agree with No 00 that there is something to say about how we conceive of life, it is very flimsy.
PETER: Both a real world reality and a spiritual world Reality are indeed very flimsy. Both these conceptions about what it is to be a human being and the physical, actual world we find ourselves in are illusions conceived by the psychological and psychic entity that inhabits the flesh and blood body. ‘Who’ we think and feel we are is the flimsy thing – lost lonely, frightened and very, very cunning. Eastern religious philosophy has it that ‘who’ we think we are – the ego – is the problem and teaches devotees to give full reign to ‘who’ we feel we are – the soul. Spiritual believers are continuously admonished to ‘leave your mind at the door, surrender your will and trust your feelings’. This shift of identity from ego to soul gives rise to a narcissistic soul uninhibited by intelligent thought, and there is no greater narcissism or stupefied intelligence than to believe oneself to be divine. The path from ‘self’ to ‘Self’ is a path of self-aggrandizement, not self-immolation. No wonder there is such doubt and confusion on the spiritual path for one is constantly having to deny common sense, the physical world as experienced by the senses and the fact of physical death as a finality.
PETER: I use the word sincere deliberately as I think it is this sincerity that you confuse with a lack of sense of humour.
RESPONDENT: Sincerity is questioning and at the same time not being attached to anything and taking everything lightly. When you KNOW there is no attachment and nobody can destroy what you KNOW. I can make fun of Osho because even though I am grateful to him I do not take him seriously).
PETER: Sincerity in questioning is to genuinely question to the point that one finds a factual answer, even if this answer shatters all that you believed and held dear.
To question and not seek an experiential answer such that will change your life is a total waste of time, and mere wanking.
And to set limits, or stop the process at the first sign of fear, or offence, or doubt, is insincere.
And to remain unattached is to be disinterested and ensures that the questioning remains a cerebral concept rather than active, vital and on-going to the point where an answer in terms of a clear, obvious and direct conclusion. Should the aim and intent of this questioning be to become happy and harmless, one then is sincerely forced to do something to actualise the result of the questioning.
One is then forced – out of sincerity – to do something that one would not normally do – change one’s behaviour – actually demolish or eliminate a bit of ones own ‘self’ that one holds so dear.
The other benefit of continuously asking yourself ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ is that if your intent is to become happy and harmless then one is irrevocably forced to consider the ‘ripples’ one’s feelings, moods, words and actions have on others as this too effects one’s own happiness.
Someone wrote the other day saying: ‘is this all you offer? – I do this all the time, and it is what the spiritual people teach anyway’. All you are is anti-Osho and I’m pissed that this is all you offer.’
RESPONDENT: In my view Peter and Vineeto say worthwhile things, but they present too many would-be facts. I wonder why they don’t just talk about their joyful experiencing of the body and nature, and leave it at that. (...) I doubt it that their ‘way’ will prove to be the final answer to the ‘human condition’, that it will accomplish what until now no other teaching has been able to achieve.
PETER: There is a general acceptance that goes ‘you can’t change human nature’. It is at the root of Ancient Wisdom – hence the search for the Divine – another ‘realm’ to dwell in on earth or in heaven or the Cosmos somewhere.
I turned my doubt around and asked ‘what if what Richard is saying is a fact’. And then I journeyed on and found it is so – you can change human nature – I did it in me.
RESPONDENT: If it were truly the only answer, then surely Richard would actually, factually be the only real saviour, the only messiah, whether he likes it or not. He would be, if not the only son of god, very close to God’s image.
PETER: People who believe in God have to see Richard as God. But what if he is a fellow human being who had rid himself of malice and sorrow?
But of course, he couldn’t do that because then he would be God...
Bit of a circular argument you have running there ... a conundrum, as is all philosophy and wisdom to date.
RESPONDENT: By the by it’s very good that Vineeto and Peter challenge lazy, sleepy Sannyasins, their views, belief systems .
PETER: There is a general acceptance that goes ‘you can’t change human nature’. It is at the root of Ancient Wisdom – hence the search for the Divine – another ‘realm’ to dwell in on earth or in heaven or the Cosmos somewhere. I turned my doubt around and asked what if what Richard is saying is a fact. And then I journeyed on and found it is so – you can change human nature – I did it in me.
RESPONDENT: Good for you, but it will never be something for humanity as a whole in my view. Nothing ever is. In this sense Richard will prove to be a failure as well.
PETER: So, nothing ever is... But what about you, will the teachings fail you or are you going to succeed in whatever it is you are looking for? Are you having success, are the teachings working for you? This is a sincere enquiry.
I think I will have to watch this suggesting thing ... I just couldn’t resist it. But I do enjoy a good muse over things. I’ll put a little muse from my journal at the end.
And now a reading from The Journal – ...page 92. In the beginning there was ... (just kidding)
RESPONDENT: Peter, your statement that you made that you became absolutely sure that you were right and everybody else in the world (excluding Richard) has been wrong is very strange.
PETER: I am sure it is very strange to most people and it only makes sense when experienced from ‘outside’ the real world and the spiritual world. When seen from the actual world, as experienced in the peak experience, the full extent of the Human Condition becomes obvious. You might have had an experience where you have seen everything as perfect as it is ... if only we humans stopped fighting it out with each other. And then, for me, afterwards I would find myself doing the same old things, back into the same old neurosis and emotions.
A bit from the time this really hit me might be useful to describe the realization that hit me during one of these experiences –
RESPONDENT: Do you know everybody from the inside out to make such strong statement? Why not just say that YOUR perception about everyone and the world was wrong or different – this much you can say – if this is what you were saying. You sound as if you can tell what other people are like just by looking at them and this I really doubt. I am not attacking you, just wondering why you have made these strange, strong statements about people and the world? Why did you assume that everyone lives in some unreal world of expectations / hope / imaginations?
So a guy at work meditated for 10 minutes – so what? You might have had a coffee or a cigarette instead – same thing – so what? What does it tell you about the other guy? Is he trying to escape reality because he happens to meditate, etc? Maybe he is just doing his thing as you are doing yours enjoying your sex. Why sex is more ‘natural’ than meditation or a cup of tea? Maybe to someone else these are ‘peak experiences’. Sex may seem like sneezing to someone else – so what does it mean to you? My point: what works for you may be or may not seem applicable / true to others.
PETER: There is a common misconception that all human beings are ‘unique’ and different, whereas we, as a species, are all the product of the a fertilized egg, wired with a set of survival instincts, nurtured through the first few years when our physical and mental functioning develops, and then socially conditioned to fit in to the tribe. We do develop a few individual quirks, we come in an amazing variety of shapes and sizes, etc. but we are all human. If you look at a forest, no two trees are the same but they are all trees. So all humans have the same instincts wired and all humans have the same social conditioning that varies only according to the social group you are born into. This basic programming is what is known as the Human Condition.
A study and knowledge of the Human Condition results in a knowledge and understanding of this basic program such that one is able, given sufficient intent, to become free of it. The clue to eliminating it is not to regard it as ‘preciously’ yours only and defend it like ‘all get out’, but to acknowledge it as a common ‘disease’ we are all inflicted with. I call it a disease because this programming is the cause of malice and sorrow within each of us. Further if one is prepared to abandon the belief in a God or a someone or something else to fix you up, then you accept that the only one who can fix you up is you.
And then you can decide what you want to do with your life. At last there is a chance to avoid your fate. I liked the way Richard put it – ‘Blind nature cares not a fig about your happiness’ – in fact it has conspired to prevent it.
RESPONDENT: For the rest of your discourse, sales pitch, what ever it is ... you certainly make being a Sannyasin ... no you never said Sannyasin did you? You make being a Rajneeshee sound repulsive and I guess being one could be! (depending on the dreamer) Now had you tried sannyas perhaps you’d be having a different story.
PETER: Well I only tried it for about 15 years, some must be clocking up 25 or more by now. Have you tried longer, or are you intending to get Enlightened soon? Do you have a time frame?
RESPONDENT: Well Peter, there’s not much more for me to say, you are in control of your dream. You too have the ability to allow contentment, peace of mind when you are doing whatever it is you do. You can even allow the world to be worldly... all the options still exist, but an option is not the same as a promise. Options come with personal responsibility.
PETER: Option implies choice, and yes, I certainly exercise choice based firmly on what is silly and what is sensible, what is a fact and what is merely a belief, what works and what doesn’t work. It takes the angst, doubt and fear out of choice and is magically freeing. I don’t even have to ‘feel’ responsible any more given that I am no longer malicious (hence no guilt, shame or repentance arise) nor am I sorrowful (hence no sadness, compassion or resentment arise)
RESPONDENT: I hope you find what you look for. All I could ever offer would just be more Promises and Options.
Peter’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.