Selected Correspondence Peter
PETER to No 58: If I can just return to the topic of naiveté and the question you asked earlier –
At some seminal point in my early days of being interested in actualism I came to realize that the only way I could rekindle my naiveté was for me to be prepared to question all of what I had taken on board to be right, good and true. Eventually I came to see that this meant abandoning all of my previous conceptions about the nature of what it is to be free that I had imbibed from others. No doubt, whatever it is that is standing in the way of you rekindling your naiveté will gradually becoming equally clear to you.
PETER: The human condition is littered with dimwitticisms that exhort you to be grateful for your suffering, not to grumble about your lot in life, to accept things as they are, and so on. When I came to realize that most, if not all, of these platitudes originate from those who believe that they will finally rest in peace in a spurious after-life, I came to understand the extent to which sorrow permeates the human condition. It’s not for nothing that ‘self’-centred reality is know as grim reality.
RESPONDENT: Sorrow does permeate the human condition, no doubt about it. I must have hung around a different circle of people though, because I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who genuinely believes in an afterlife. I think there are a lot of folks who are now suffering from being stranded mid-way between untenable religion and godless science. There now seems to be a weary resignation to the values of old religion, but without belief, or even faith. In my observation, most people think they need the old values of religion in order to retain their human dignity, even if God is dead, or never lived.
PETER: It is only because human beings insist on remaining passionate beings that they need to cling to their morals and ethics lest anarchy breaks out. Only when I became virtually free of my own malice and sorrow could I take a clear-eyed look at the falsehoods and disinformation that those who take the moral and/or ethical high-ground disseminate in order to promote their own self-interest and their own self-aggrandizement. (...)
PETER: If you have followed my recent conversation with No 33 you will have understood that only by becoming happy and harmless can morals and ethics become redundant.
RESPONDENT: I did indeed follow this discussion; in fact I was just composing a reply to No 33 when yours came through. It seemed to me that he (?) was describing ‘conscience’, and I thought it particularly interesting that he described it as (from memory): the ‘guardian at the gate with chemical weapons’. Nice pun on ‘chemical’ too ;-) I used to think that conscience was somehow independent of any particular moral system. Moral systems vary throughout the world, and might change within an individual many times over the course of a lifetime, but I thought that conscience, the ‘knowledge’ of what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in one’s ‘heart of hearts’ came from a deeper source. But it’s really not so. It’s all a function of what kind of person I think I am, what kind of person others think I am, what kind of person I want to be, and what kind of person I want others to think I am. The bodily effects that No 33 described are all too familiar to me.
PETER: Every human being, no matter what their gender, race or culture is imprinted with a social conscience by their parents and peers in order to make them a fit member of their family, tribe or nation. The reason this is necessary is because each and every human being feels culpable at heart because the human animal has the unique ability of being aware of his or her own fear and aggression. The imprinted social conscience acts to salve this culpability – as children we learn that we are rewarded for denying and dissociating from this culpability and are punished if we acknowledge our culpability.
PETER: Of course ‘the beast’, to use your words, will resist this, as being happy and being harmless goes against ‘the beast’s’ very nature – but what to do? If you want to be free of the human condition this is the work to be done, no matter how daunting or how scary it may seem at first.
RESPONDENT: It seems daunting and scary from a normal state of mind, but I’ve noticed that in a PCE (and similar state), it all seems like much ado about nothing. In the complete absence of sorrow and aggression there is absolutely no need for conscientious remedies, yet no loss of ‘caring’ either. It’s great.
PETER: In a PCE there is neither malice nor sorrow present and this experiential observation is the key to the actualist method of self-immolation. Given that ‘I’ am my feelings and my feelings are ‘me’, then it is obvious that ‘I’ am both malicious and sorrowful at heart. Hence the way to work on ‘my’ demise is to work on eliminating all of ‘my’ feelings of malice and sorrow by dis-empowering them, and the way to do that is to bring them to the bright light of awareness – in short ‘I’ make a definitive decision to devote my life to becoming happy and harmless.
This is the up-front, in-your-face challenge of actualism.
To add an additional note, I notice that you have recently made reference to the philosophy of Thomas Metzinger to support your claim that an altered state of consciousness can have the same purity as a PCE. As you can see from the quote, he makes the point that such a state of being (‘being no one’) does not mean the ending of sorrow –
There have been a good many attempts to develop purely philosophical/ psychological theories about altered states of consciousness in an attempt to develop a secular mysticism as opposed to the more traditional spiritual mysticism. Whilst spiritual mysticism is rooted in the morality of love and compassion, secular mysticism sits more comfortably with Humanism and its humanitarian ethics. It is interesting to note that some Buddhist scholars seem keen to develop and promote a secular Buddhism in an effort to distance Buddhism from its spiritual roots, presumably to the point of claiming that Buddhism is non-spiritual.
None of this is what actualism is about of course. As I understand it, the first stage of Richard’s patient dismantling of his altered state of consciousness ‘being’ was to dismantle the more obvious spiritual aspects, namely those of love and compassion. The next stage involved dismantling the more secular aspects, namely the Humanistic ethics of pacifism, justice, fairness and the need to belong to humanity at large. To dare to abandon all that humanity holds dear is radical indeed.
RESPONDENT: Just because some religion says something about vegetarianism does not make it per-se a un-liveable highly selective ‘ethics’. Why do you bring religion into the picture? I was talking about being vegetarian.
PETER: The reason I brought religion into the picture is quite straightforward. I was born in a meat-eating society and the notion that eating meat was somehow wrong was only introduced to this country in the 1970’s on the back of a wave of a burgeoning interest in Eastern religions. Now that Eastern religion has gained such widespread acceptance in this country its followers now make such a virtue out of their belief in Ahimsa that those who do not bow to their belief are deemed to be evil (as in your ‘I won’t be in the same room with you’ comment?)
RESPONDENT: Can we evaluate vegetarianism on its own merits (or de-merits)?
PETER: The problem with evaluating the merits of vegetarianism is that any such evaluation is inevitably based upon social, as in cultural/ religious/ generational evaluations of right and wrong, good and bad – all of which are human-animal emotional reactions to the fact that the only way life on earth has germinated, and can survive, is by feeding off other life. If however, one moves past the moral and ethical objections to this fact of life then one can come across a deeper more visceral reaction such as revulsion … what one discovers is that one is being revolted by a fact of life – the very cycle of birth, sustenance and death that I, as a flesh and blood mortal body, am inextricably a product of.
A little clear-eyed investigation will throw some light on the nature of this revulsion – am I revolted by the birds outside my window gaily chirping away while they busily swoop down into the garden in order to kill and eat insects, am I revolted by the dolphins off the cape killing and eating other fish, am I revolted by other animals hunting for prey and eating their catch? If I am able to clearly see all this happening as a fact of life then I am also able to clearly see that whether or not some human beings see merit or find fault in being selective in what other life forms animals eat in order that they can dissociate themselves from the fact that all this life-feeding-off-life is going on all the time under their very noses, or in their very noses, matters not a fig in the vast scope of things.
PETER: Given that it is a fact of life that life feeds off life and given that as an intelligent human animal I am able to make a choice, I choose to devote my time, energy and passion on becoming free from the animal instinctual passions in order that I could be harmless, i.e. to be without malice, towards my fellow human beings.
RESPONDENT: Does it take any energy to refrain from eating meat?
PETER: I went through a period of being a vegetarian in my spiritual years, although for some reason an occasional meal of fish was deemed to be an acceptable transgression, and the one cut of meat I did miss was bacon. Speaking personally I do like the smell of fried bacon. Needless to say when I gave up my spiritual beliefs I also gave up my vegetarian beliefs and now enjoy bacon whenever the whim takes me.
I do like the down-to-earth befits of no longer being hobbled by belief. In contrast to the constant energy required in order to maintain and defend, each of one’s beliefs, once one frees oneself from a particular belief, the subsequent freedom is effortless.
PETER: What others choose to focus their time, energy and passion on is their business entirely.
RESPONDENT: This is a dismissal of this particular thread of conversation by saying it is not an important enough issue for you. Am I reading you right?
PETER: You might have missed the fact that rather than dismiss this particular tangent to the topic we were discussing I have spent a good deal of time here at the keyboard answering your questions about this particular thread.
However, you are right in saying that it is not an important issue for me nowadays simply because I have personally investigated the matter of vegetarianism/ non-vegetarianism and found that at root I had a socially enhanced instinctual revulsion to the fact that life feeds off life. When I clearly experienced that the root of this particular emotion was fear itself, this particular manifestation of a thoughtless instinctual passion never raised its head again. It is an exercise in futility and masochism to feel guilty and be revolted about what one is – a corporeal mortal flesh and blood body.
I do realize that acknowledging facts is not fashionable in this day and age – particularly now that the Eastern Wisdom of ‘not-knowing’ has become so highly prized and Mr. Einstein’s subjective theory that space and time are relative and not absolute is now taken to be true and Mr. Heisenberg’s mathematical musings that matter itself is uncertain is taken to mean that we live in a virtual world – but I personally found not-knowing to be an excuse for not bothering to find out, subjectivity to be an excuse for not making the effort to see the bigger picture and uncertainty to be an excuse for continuing to dither about finding out what I am. I also realize that this whole business of investigating the human condition in action, as ‘me’, is not everyone’s cup of tea but I’ve found the whole business to be utterly fascinating once I got past the initial hang-ups and inhibitions of my own societal morals and ethics.
PETER: In a PCE – provided you resists the atavistic temptation to start swooning in rapture at the beauty of it all or indulging in ‘self’-aggrandizing fantasies (or else it deteriorates into an ASC) – you can readily discern that the only reason you are experiencing the sensual delight and utter peacefulness of the actual world is because ‘you’ have temporarily left the stage.
From this experiential realization a pure intent can arise to devote one’s life to the task of becoming happy and harmless – to actively dismantle my ‘self’, to dare to question the veracity of ‘my’ precious beliefs, to want to really come to understand both the nature and the source of the peripheral feelings of ‘self’ and sense of ‘being’ and to not stop until the process is finished and the very source of ‘me’, ‘me’ as a feeling ‘being’, is permanently eliminated, expunged.
Then, when the PCE wanes and you return to being ‘normal’ again, back in normal everyday reality, ‘you’ find yourself with something to do. ‘You’ then have a reason for being, a life goal, a task, a job, and a fascinating one at that. And I can vouch that there is no more fascinating and rewarding thing you can do with your life than to devote your life to the task of becoming happy and harmless for this is the path to actual freedom.
RESPONDENT: I find that I spend a good deal of time wanting to sort of ‘jump’ into actual freedom. In other words, it does seem ‘daunting’ at times what’s between here and now and the goal of this process – which seems to bring a kind of ‘self’-loathing – but this must be some sort of cop-out – a refusal to put forth the required effort.
It’s possible that the ‘self’-loathing is related to the feeling of ‘not being here’ when I’m not feeling good – so that is probably a good area for investigation.
PETER: Yeah. Morals and ethics – the social programming that produces feelings of guilt and shame if you fail to repress or deny your feelings of malice – are part of what I came to experience as ‘the guardians at the gate’. Guardians in that they prevent you from opening the gate to investigating the brutish animal instinctual passions that each and every human being is genetically-encoded with.
I only made substantive progress towards becoming harmless when I dared to allow myself to acknowledge the full extent of my instinctual passions and then to dig deep enough to experience them – to feel them in action.
A few examples from this time might be useful in order to explain the down-to-earthness of this process –
And another –
I remember another investigation had a shattering effect on me, but as this post is already long, I’ll just post the link. The Milgram experiment is what I am talking about but the whole chapter is relevant to the necessity of digging deep into the human condition in order to bring an end to malice and sorrow.
To feel self-loathing, shame or guilt in the face of the fact that you – along with each and every other human being – is programmed with instinctual fear, aggression, nurture and desire – through no fault of your own or anyone else – is to remain bound within the straightjacket of societal morals, ethics, values and beliefs. Anyone interested in actualism will inevitably come across this social conditioning – the ‘guardians at the gate’ – and will become aware of, and experience, the feelings this conditioning is intended to provoke.
If I read you right, you seem to be discovering that these feelings are what initially prevents one from ‘jumping in’ to actualism and doing what is necessary in order to become happy and harmless. This business of actualism is the challenge of a lifetime and to be a pioneer in the business is utterly thrilling.
PETER to No 23: There is another event that happened this week that I would also like to relate to you as it relates to the topic at hand and it helped me to throw some light on some of the feelings that have surfaced around the bombing of the WTC towers. I happened to have a chance conversation with a teenager who had been given a school assignment to comment on the rights and wrongs of the US attacking Iraq. As he read out some of the questions he was supposed to address, it became clear to me that whoever had posed the questions had an anti-US bias. What also became clear was that the teenager had very little knowledge of the facts of the situation. He didn’t know anything about the recent history of the Gulf war, of the Iranian-Iraq war, of the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein and the gassing of the Kurds, let alone the long history of conflicts in the region.
It struck me that he, like each and every other child born on the planet, had been inculcated with a particular point of view and opinion about other people, in ignorance of the current and historical facts of the situation. In common with every other child he was being taught – whether by his parents, peers or teachers – not only that there are good and evil people and tribes in the world but specifically who these people and tribes are. In this way, these beliefs then becomes set in concrete for a lifetime, only ever changed in order to remain compliant to the mood swings of society in general or one’s peer group in particular.
All of this I know from my own observations of my own social identity in action – of becoming aware as to how I was gullibly sucked into believing that what I was told and taught to be true by others was fact. Whilst it is obvious that I knew no better as a child, this is not the case nowadays. Nowadays if I catch myself feeling anti-anything feelings, I want to know why. I want to investigate the facts of the situation. I remember at the time of the bombing of the World Trade Centre towers being particularly curious about the amount of anti-US feeling that the event aroused. Many people of all nationalities were expressing the opinion that the US was at fault and that it had ‘got what it deserved’. Often I would hear that ‘it was terrible, but …’
I was reminded of school ground taunts and fights when there was general gloating when someone paid-back someone else for some wrong, and it often made no difference at all whether the wrong was actual or perceived. What I see in the human condition, and have discovered operating in ‘me’ and as ‘me’, is a basic feeling of resentment intrinsic to being a human being. This base-line feeling is what fuels much of the resentment against other individuals, groups, tribes or countries who are seen to be, or who are, more powerful, more wealthy, more fortunate, and so on. Many seek to counteract their feelings of resentment with the antidotal feeling of self-righteousness whereby they aspire to feeling ‘above’ the ‘ignorant’ behaviour of others, whilst many others seek solace in feeling grateful to their own personal protector-God.
I came to understand by scrupulous ‘self’-observation that many of the so-called ‘good’ feelings and opinions I held were based on a socially-inculcated and instinctually-natural feeling of self-righteousness and that this feeling is always predicated on the ‘wrongness’ of others. In my case for example, I believed being a spiritualist was ‘good’ because religion was inherently evil, I believed being a socialist was good because capitalism was inherently evil and I believed being an Environmentalist was good because consumerism was inherently evil. It was only when I became an actualist that I was emboldened to question and set aside these beliefs so that I was able to find out by myself, for myself, the facts of the situation.
I’ve come to understand – by carefully observing my own beliefs, feelings and passions and, most importantly, thinking about them – that the root cause of this intrinsic feeling of resentment is that ‘I’, by my very non-physical nature, am forever cut off from the perfection and purity of the actual physical world. However this very act of observation also means that increasingly I am able to rid myself of the social and instinctual programming that gives substance to ‘me’ as a social and instinctual identity. This deliberate act of elimination in turn means that I am more able to be unconditionally happy and effortlessly harmless, which is also why I am able to report from my own experience that actualism can never be a belief because it only works in practice.
It’s so good to be able to do something about one’s lot in life, to incrementally eradicate one’s own self-centred programming and start to marvel at this astonishing, utterly peerless, universe in action.
PETER: Just a comment on something you said to Vineeto recently –
GARY to Vineeto: Although I find that I can do many things well if I apply myself to them, I can relate to your comment about doing nothing really well. I think what has happened in my case is that the ambition to succeed has diminished a great deal, over a considerable period of time, both before and during my practice of actualism. I am very satisfied to do an adequate and competent job at what I do for work, for instance. Yet I do not feel I do it ‘really well’.
PETER: I remember reading it at the time and thinking ‘I know that one’ but I was reminded of it again yesterday when meeting with a potential client. She was in the design business and said she would like to build an award-winning house and would I be interested in helping her. I said that none of my work had won any awards but since I had given up battling it out with clients in order to get ‘my’ way, I now had no trouble giving my clients any style they wanted. After all, ‘award-winning’ style is only a style after all, and I know by experience that actually winning an award is another business entirely.
This event led me to contemplate on the fact that success has a well-defined set of criteria both in the real world and the spiritual world. In the real world success is measured by how rich you are, how famous you are and how much power and influence you have over others. In the spiritual world success is measured by how self-righteous you are, how famous you are and how much power and influence you have over others. The measures of success are well-defined criteria according to cultural and social values, i.e. someone else has set the standards by which you are to judge yourself.
Even before I came across actualism I had begun to question theses values. I had already abandoned the idea of either becoming rich or famous from my work because I saw that ‘money don’t buy you happiness’ nor did fame bring satisfaction and fulfilment. What I had begun to do was set my own standards in my work – standards that were in fact higher than those esteemed by others. I made safety the major priority on my building sites and then did my best to make the site a happy site. I did this in practical ways by such things as making sure the site was clean, organized, with clear instructions, clean cups, deck chairs to sit on at lunch time and that everyone was fairly paid, on time.
I also abandoned the values that I had been taught as an architect – that ‘I’ always knew best and that whatever ‘I’ was designing was ‘mine’. I started to develop my own standards whereby I moved towards a mutual search for the best solution and came to the understanding that whilst my clients were employing me for my experience as a designer and builder, the building was in fact theirs and not mine. As I began to put my own standards into practice, I also experienced a marked reduction in my own angst, worry, annoyance, frustration and the like, i.e. not only did others benefit from the situation, I benefited as well.
When I came across actualism I was embolden to go all the way in this process of setting my own standards. In fact, I set a completely new standard – becoming actually happy and actually harmless. Despite humanity’s bleating, bemoaning, moralizing and ethicising about peace on earth, the standards by which individuals live – and by which society judges success – are totally counter-productive to human beings living together in peace and harmony. I knew very well there was a risk in putting all my eggs in one basket as it were, in committing myself 100% to only one thing in life. The risks were that I would lose everything, the esteem I got from working, my relationships, my social standing – my identity in total.
But as I analysed each possibility, I realized that if I lost my profession I would be happy doing anything – because what I did as a job has no relevance to being happy. If I ended up living alone, I would be happy living alone – because my being happy is not reliant on other people. And if I ended up having no social or instinctual identity, I would be free of the human condition, which is what I wanted anyway.
So by society’s standards I am a failure, but society’s standards of judging success, be they normal or spiritual, are driven by the narcissistic feelings inherent in the ‘self’-centred instinctual survival passions. It is far better to have your own standards of doing ‘really well’, rather than live entrapped by the paltry standards of humanity.
I thought I would mention this aspect again because heading off in a totally different direction to everyone else is a difficult thing to do. You get no encouragement or support for devoting your life to becoming happy and harmless from those who like to battle it out within the human condition, or those who prefer their sorrow. You may well come across some people who resent you turning your back on society’s standards and values and these times will test your mettle as to how much you are willing to risk to become free of malice and sorrow.
GARY: In a way, it almost seems that it is exceedingly difficult for a human being to recognize the immediate and actual as exactly what it is, rather than what it is not. I wonder if it would be possible to raise children with an immediate appreciation and delight in what is actually present, something they have innately anyway, with no imaginative fabrication of what is not there.
PETER: Also innately present in children are the instinctual passions and these passions will always take precedent over any potential for an ‘immediate appreciation and delight in what is actually present’ – in fact, the crude animal survival passions exist to do precisely this. Which is not to say that it makes good sense not to indulge a child’s natural tendency for fantasy and imagination – a tendency that will anyway be fostered by interaction with their peers, despite the wishes and actions of any parent.
And just a note on fairness. It may not seem fair that each and every human being born is pre-programmed with an inevitably-emergent set of instinctual passions – that each and every child is born programmed to be malicious and sorrowful and that this instinctive program is then calcified by the social inculcation of one’s parents and peers. To regard this as unfair is but to rile against the processes of life itself – the very processes that produces human flesh and blood bodies in the first place and continues to sustain them whilst they are alive.
These life processes that transform matter into animate matter are by no means static nor unchangeable – and nor are they the subject of mysterious other-worldly forces as was fearfully imagined in ancient times. The evolution of these physical life processes have in fact culminated in producing the human animal species with its innate ability to think, contemplate and reflect as well as be aware of the physical life processes itself. These capacities, unique to the human species, have emerged fairly recently relative to emergence of animal life on this planet and the current stage of the life process of the universe now includes a freely-available process of eliminating the crude and redundant ‘self’-ishness from the human animal.
When contemplating upon the vast scope of life, the life that is this universe, it can be seen that the concept of fairness is but a ‘self’-centred value within the human condition and this act of contemplation can eventually result in the demise of the feelings of unfairness and unjustness. It can be seen that these feelings arise out of a fundamental resentment at having been born in the first place, having to suffer being here and then having to die.
From the standpoint of a PCE, it can be readily understood and experienced that these feelings are but the feelings of ‘me’, the alien non-physical entity that inhabits this flesh and blood body. In a PCE, there is no experience of separation from the physical matter of life, be it mineral, vegetable or animal. There is an aliveness to all matter that is palpable, vibrant, alive – as in non-passive, metamorphotic – and intimate – as in of the very same nature, identical in substance, no different or distance between.
There is an enormous amount of information that can be gleaned for a PCE because, for a brief period, one is directly experiencing the actuality of the physical universe – not as an affective ‘self’-centred experience but as a sensuous apperceptive awareness. Then when one returns to being a normal affective being, one can devote one’s life to whittling away at the all of the beliefs, morals, ethics, platitudes and psittacisms that constitute one’s social identity as well as become attentive to the feelings, passions and compulsions that constitute one’s very being, one’s instinctual self. By doing so, one sets in motion a process that, when combined with pure intent, can only lead to ‘my’ demise and freedom for this flesh and blood body, and for every other body.
PETER to No 4: Sensible thought, intelligent observation and un-emotive reflection have been so suppressed and derided by the Gurus, priests, teachers, parents and one’s peers that it is astounding what has been achieved to date by the human species on the planet. This was driven home to me when I watched a TV program that investigated the extent of genetic research into eradicating genetically inherited diseases and weaknesses causing tendency towards disease. One scientist spoke enthusiastically of the possibility of screening and eradicating many genetically inherited diseases but when questioned about the ethics of conducting such research, let alone its implementation, he said ‘Of course, we have to do what is the right thing to do, not what is the best thing to do’. In other words we should be careful in interfering with nature, albeit blind nature, for that is God’s territory. In other words, we should continue the suffering, pain and disabilities on the planet because human suffering, pain and disabilities are part of the ‘Master Plan’. In other words, even although we are capable of stopping it we shouldn’t.
In other words, even if I am capable of stopping suffering and pain, I won’t? Well – not for me.
‘Of course, we have to do what is the right thing to do, not what is the best thing to do’.
I think that one sentence sums up the fact that it is clearly the perfect time for human beings to begin to put an end to needless human suffering. It will not happen collectively or by mutual agreement or by prayer or legislation or social or political movements or the pursuit of ‘higher consciousness’ or by Alien intervention. It will happen incrementally as each of us frees ourselves of the shackles of dearly-held beliefs and our socially and religiously instilled virtuous morals and righteous ethics, and then digs in deeper to acknowledge and work towards eliminating the instinctual passions in ourselves. And why not? Only because the Gurus, priests, teachers, parents and one’s peers all say you shouldn’t or you can’t?
We all know ‘shouldn’t’ from our childhood. It comes along with ‘who do you think you are?’, ‘don’t get smart with me’, don’t get too uppity’, ‘this is right’, ‘that is wrong’, ‘this is bad’, etc. etc. etc. Morals, ethics, values and psittacisms.
As for ‘you can’t’ – if one human can do it – then the door is clearly open for whoever else wants to. Evidence of genetic mutations, behavioural modifications, environmental adaptations and evolutionary change abound in carbon-based life forms. One of the most stunning recent discoveries involved growing plants from seed in the weightlessness of the space. Standard, un-modified seed grew into a plant that immediately adapted a different growth form – the cells that formed the outer casing of the stems had arranged themselves to form in a thinner layer because less strength was needed to support the leaves in zero gravity. This was no divine plan or master intelligence in operation that oversaw the change, nor was the change the result of a slow progression over eons of time. The change was immediate, the adaptation an appropriate response to the change of physical circumstance. The Japanese scientists who were monitoring the experiments were astounded at the results and were literally bubbling with excitement at the discovery and its implications for our views as to the speed of adaptability and extent of changeability of carbon-based life-forms.
So the point for me became – can I radically and irrevocably change to adapt to a new situation, here and now, that has SFA to do with Mr. Buddha’s times and bugger-all to do with my father’s time. Of course – it’s scientifically possible, one man has done it, a handful are actively doing it, a handful are intellectually interested and a further handful are cautiously curious – so who am ‘I’ to stand in the road! ‘I’ end up small, so mean, so utterly selfish and rotten, that to stand in the way is an impossible tenure.
PETER to No 12: Once I came to realize that the straightjacket I felt as though I was wearing and yearned to be free of was of ‘my’ making and was not the fault of anyone, else I simply stopped blaming others for keeping me from becoming free. Then I stopped believing that in order to become free I needed to feel grateful to some mythical God or Existence and after that it was a straightforward and easy decision to get on with the business of being an actualist.
There was also the blow to my pride in having to admit I was wrong, but that was no big deal when I realized that everyone I had met, or read about, also had it wrong. They had it wrong for the simple reason that whatever teaching or ideal they were following or preaching didn’t work in practice. None of them were happy, none of them were living in peace and in harmony with others, all of them complained about how tough it was to be here in the world-as-it-is with people as-they-are, and all of them blamed others for the ills of the world. When I came to understand that this also applied to all the revered spiritual teachers and God-men, the writing was on the wall that everyone has got it wrong.
I know you have always had an issue with right and wrong but I am not talking about right and wrong in an ethical sense. It is a practical matter that if someone is doing something that doesn’t work, or following a teaching that doesn’t work in practice, then what he or she is doing must, by definition, be wrong. By fully taking on board this fact one is immediately freed to make a decision based on what is sensible and what is silly rather than remaining hamstrung and hobbled by pride and principle.
PETER: And when a discussion was entered into you ended up saying –
And further –
PETER: Your statement wasn’t outrageous at all. It simply proved to be not factual – unable to withstand scrutiny. A more accurate statement would have been ‘I believe Osho created situations ...’ Please note – it is not that you are wrong and we are right – that would bog the whole investigation down into the usual arguments of right and wrong, good and bad that stifle all genuine investigation and possibility of intimacy. One party then gets offended and resentful at having ‘lost the battle’ and either gets angry at the other or petulantly sulks away.
To take a moral or ethical ‘position’ is to maintain a cycle of righteous anger and bitter resentment that we see played out on the international stage as righteous wars and wars of retribution. An actualist has to get beyond this societal conditioning to have any chance of becoming happy and harmless.
PETER to Alan: I thought I would pen a letter to you about one of those ethical values that is so instilled in human beings that it not only clouds any common sense operating but also acts to forever lock malice and sorrow into the human psyche.
I often wonder what people make of the simple statement that one has a social identity that consists of all the morals, ethics, values and psittacisms that have been instilled by one’s peers in order to keep one ‘under control’ and to make one a ‘good’ citizen. It seems such a straight forward statement yet there is no discussion or questioning whatsoever regarding morals and ethics and their failure to stop the barbarous human warfare that rages on the planet between various tribal, religious or ethical groups. Despite the fact that countless well-meaning people have been following these pious morals and unliveable ethics there is still no end in sight to the sadness sorrow, depression and suicides. Having to live one’s life bound – as in bondage – to a set of morals and ethics is to be shackled to Humanity.
What twigged me to write was a conversation I had with a man recently about tolerance. It was one of those convivial evenings as we settled back after dinner at his beach-side house. We had bought a whole coral trout and some baste for the sunset barbeque meal, his wife had concocted a wonderful salad and he had provided some delicious soft Merlot wine. Vineeto and I, he and his wife contentedly lazed back after the particularly tasty meal, and their newly born baby slept in the corner after her meal at the breast. We started swapping life stories as one tends to do in good company and his wife began chatting to Vineeto about her upbringing as a Japanese and how she had come to leave Japan and ended up in Australia. She evidently was of mixed Japanese-Korean parents and, as such, was very much regarded as a second-class citizen in Japan – something which she didn’t take too kindly to. I then proceeded to explain to her some of the religious and ethnic divides that are rife below the surface in the country I grew up in at all levels of society.
I soon trotted out one of my favourite stories about the insanity of Humanity – the fact that my father, like many other young Australians during the Second World War, was sent to Europe to help England fight Germany. He ended up in the Middle East fighting the Italians in the desert and then came back to fight the Japanese in the jungles of New Guinea. When I went to university to study architecture two of my best friends were an Italian and a Japanese – of the same tribes that my father had been busy trying to kill only 20 years earlier. What struck me as even stranger was here I was some 30 years on telling this story of muddled madness to a woman of Japanese stock, and a woman of German stock, both now residents in this country.
It was at this point that the man came out with the statement that ‘we are all different’ and that all children need to be taught ‘tolerance’ from the beginning. He said the trouble was that ‘some people’ weren’t tolerant. When I asked him who were these people he looked a bit befuddled as he sensed he would have to trot out his prejudices by coming up with an example. To let him off the hook a bit, I stated that it was only in recent years I had come to see the extent of my own ‘limits of tolerance’ having being born into a largely Christian society. As such I was imbibed with the view that say Muslims, in particular, were ‘evil and intolerant’ people, and I could tell that it was this particular religious group that he had in mind when he talked of those whose children needed to be ‘taught tolerance’.
I backtracked the conversation a bit for his plea for tolerance was based on his preceding psittacism that ‘we are all different’. I looked around at the four of us sitting there and could obviously see that two were males and two were females, so I stated that beyond that physical fact, we were no different in that we were all flesh and blood human beings. We had no differences apart from some physical differences – plus a good deal of social conditioning but I was trying to isolate that fact out for a bit. At core we were all the same passionate beings – German anger is the same as Japanese anger, Australian sorrow the same as English sorrow – yet this man insisted that we are all somehow different and therefore we should be tolerant of each other’s differences.
I was going to pursue the point that we are all the same animal species and that it is a fact that we are only taught to think we are different and unique via our social conditioning – to not only be loyal and good tribal members but to cherish and be proud of our being ‘different from’ and ‘better than’ other tribes and to be ready to fight for and defend our ‘being different’. Oh yes, and then we are further taught that it is good to be ‘tolerant’ of others who happen to be ‘different’ than us.
One needs to be taught that we are different and be prejudiced and intolerant of others first in order to then feel the need to be tolerant. These ethical values are but societal conditioning that sits like a sugared, feel-good layer to cover over our instinctual love of aggression – we love a good fight and the tribe next door, that ‘different’ mob, was always the best target as there was always some old score to settle – some pay-back for a past deed. It has the added advantage of giving us someone to hate and fight that isn’t our own kin or our own tribe.
But I didn’t pursue the point as he was already confused enough, and it was senseless to spoil the evening.
Perhaps the failure of the principle of tolerance is most clearly seen in Europe where, after two horrendous wars fought in the first half of the century that decimated whole generations and lay ruin to the continent, some enterprising politicians decided enough was enough. The idea of a European Union was born, whereby national barriers would be gradually demolished to form a more unified, less tribal and more peaceful European community. Just on the brink of implementing this policy it seems as though the threat of ‘loss of national identity’ is becoming too much for many to contemplate. In fact, it appears, from reports, that there is a ground swell for increased regionalism with even smaller, more nationalistic groupings clamouring for power, independence and autonomy. Identical fears are heard in the raging and anger against ‘globalization’ – people desperately wanting to cling to the past and to their tribal and ethnic groupings – to remain the same and part of a traditional warring group.
This behavioural evidence is in direct contradiction to the spurious argument that ‘we are all different’ for everyone fervently wishes to remain part of the traditional group into which they were born, to hold the same values, morals, ethics, truths and psittacisms – to be the same as everybody else and not different.
An identical scenario also operates with our spiritual/religious beliefs that have been passed on to us as a social conditioning. Later on in the evening, the husband made a comment about religions at one point and when I asked him his views he said he was not religious but found much to his liking in Buddhism. When I pointed out that Buddhism was an Eastern religion he looked at me as though the thought had not occurred to him. Goodness knows what all those statues are about, what all those temples, all those monks and nuns, all that prayer, worship, devotion, sacred texts and objects are about if not to denote a religion. And yet those on the ‘Eastern spiritual path’ somehow manage to think themselves unique and ‘different’, on the cutting edge of ‘consciousness raising’, whereas in fact they are (as I was for 17 years) merely dedicated followers of fashion. A New Dark Age fashion that unabashedly aims to turn the clock back to belief in ancient mythical, mystical mumbo-jumbo. Of course, whatever brand of religion one follows, believes in, trusts, and regards as the One and Only, one is then bound to vociferously support it and faithfully fight to defend it. This superstition, prejudice, bias and intolerance then necessitates that one espouses and practices ‘tolerance’ for other religions purely because of one’s imbibed hatred and suspicion of other creeds. My former spiritual group, the Rajneeshees, are notorious Christian haters – as was Rajneesh himself. The Christians are notorious Muslim haters – a feud that dates back thousands of years and that no amount of ‘tolerance’ has managed to quell. Protestant and Catholic feuds are notorious and the list goes on and on ...
Tolerance is pretty thin on the ground and when push comes to shove it simply disappears into thin air. As does ‘civilized behaviour’ when war breaks out, as does being good when rage wells up in one’s bosom, as does love disappear when jealousy rages, and the list goes on and on ...
Yet despite the abysmal failure of ethics and morals to curb our instinctual passions people desperately cling to rights and wrongs, good and bad, rather than look at the third alternative – a common sense judgement of what is silly and what is sensible, based firmly on facts.
For me, the first and most freeing of these common sense, silly/sensible judgments was to ditch any tolerance of religions whatsoever. Too much blood has been shed, too many have humbly prostrated themselves to the God-men’s Super-Inflated Egos to be tolerant of this errant puerile nonsense. And yet, whenever I care to point out the facts of the failure of religious belief to bring peace to earth and an end to human suffering, I am accused by some of having some sort of personal vendetta or grudge running. Most curious.
Yet another current development I find interesting in these days of ‘human rights’ is the reported move of some Balkanites to sue the UN peacekeepers for failing to stop a massacre of one ethnic group by another ethnic group. Does this mean if there is a murder in one’s neighbourhood the victim’s relatives can now sue the police for failing to stop it? Does this mean that we now put the police in jail and let the criminals go free – it’s an interesting approach that should provide a novel ethical dilemma for some time to come.
It is fascinating to see the convoluted and twisted moral and ethical arguments that rage on the planet, combined with the convoluted and twisted forms of denial of the existence of instinctual animal passions in humans.
And to see, so clearly, that there are no moral or ethical solutions to the Human Condition but that they are, in fact, part of the problem.
So, the evening’s conversation backed away from a more in-depth exploration of any of these issues for the man was a good, well-meaning man, convinced that the values he held were right and good and if only everyone held the same values as he then everything would be okay. It is always kind of cute in those situations as no-one knows the full extent of my treason and iconoclasm – that I have gleefully abandoned fighting the good fight of Humanity. It was equally delightful to small-talk the early evening away with some fellow human beings for while it is possible for anyone to become free of the Human Condition it will only be for those desperate and daring enough to question the psittacisms that traditionally passed on as wisdom from those who have been here before us. Although the life he lives could be vastly easier, more safe, more comfortable and more leisurely than his father’s was he still does what his father did – battle against others for survival, and then blame others for being intolerant.
We all moved out to sit and watch the ocean for a while as there are few prettier sights than the light of a full moon glistening on the ocean. The innate peacefulness of the physical actual world is particularly palpable at moments like these and it was obvious why he had recently purchased this house. To him it offered the chance to grab some brief moments like this as a haven from the battle to exist that he fought in the real world. I didn’t spoil his moment by offering that I knew a way to get to the root cause of his battling and thus constantly access the already existing peacefulness that exists on this planet.
Ah, well ... The ‘Introduction to Actual Freedom’ is doing really well. It is in the sound studio at the moment – Richard’s living room actually – for a voice over and a bit of effects. The next thing to work out is a format for the planned CD that is compatible for many differing programs and browsers, not an easy or quick task by any means. We have a preliminary cover design and the planned CD contents will be the Introduction, the Web-site in total, both Journals and a bit about The Actual Freedom Trust. It looks as though the first version of the ‘Introduction’ available will be Vineeto’s on-line Web-site version which may make it out before THE END OF THE MILLENNIUM.
Good hey ...
Well that’s it for tonight – it got to be a bit of a rave again.
RESPONDENT: If you realize that ‘goodness’ is possible, it seems like the most natural thing in the world is to want to do whatever you can to make sure that the actions of your life are an expression of that possibility.
PETER: The morals and ethics instilled by our peers do a reasonable sort of job in keeping the lid on the worst of the savage passions. Humans are often filled with guilt and shame for doing wrong and being bad, unless they happen to feel it is justified of course. Human beings have also managed to organize police forces, laws, courts, prisons and armies so as to keep a tolerable veneer of law and order in many countries. Fervent religious and spiritual minded people, however, literally take a ride on their tender passions whereby they think and feel themselves to be morally superior to other human beings and therefore have risen ‘above’ any evil and wrongdoing – as in holier than thou.
Up until now being good was the best one could be while remaining normal, unless one follows the traditional/spiritual religious path to becoming holy and Divine and thus feel and imagine oneself to be liberated from the perceived Evil of the physical world.
RESPONDENT: In the end does it really matter if we accept ego as an inherent part of being human or reject it as the enemy of perfection? We should do whatever leads us to live in such away that we couldn’t possibly be making a more positive contribution to the world.
PETER: The traditional religious/ spiritual viewpoint is but firmly based on ancient ignorance and superstition as to what in fact causes malice and sorrow in humans. These religious/ spiritual beliefs not only perpetuate but actively contribute to conflict and despair in the world, as is evidenced by the appalling litany of ongoing religious wars, crusades, tortures, persecutions, bigotry, perversions, repression, recriminations, prejudices, retributions, unliveable morals and pious ethics.
RESPONDENT: The achievement of excellence in service to others is usually best served by us fulfilling our dharmic duties whilst we address karmatic issues.
PETER: The principle of dharma, the religious and moral law governing individual conduct is inseparably entwined with the Hindu caste system that arose from the ancient ideological division of society into four classes – priests, warriors, agriculturists / traders and servants. Many, though not all, Hindus acknowledge the supremacy of the Brahman (priestly) class as the highest representative of religious purity and knowledge, and many support the notion that social and religious duties are differently determined according to birth and inherent ability. The idea of dharma, a duty or moral obligation of ritual, principle and strictures is a religious/ cultural imposition and restriction – the antithesis of an autonomous freedom.
I always found the principle of karma, the law whereby acts produce future good or bad results to be remarkably similar to the monotheist ‘You will rot in hell if you don’t ...’ admonition. The Eastern version is that you will remain trapped in the karmic wheel of endless rebirth into earthly suffering. This is just goodness maintained by the threat of damnation for one’s soul, or goodness rewarded by eternal life for one’s soul. Does this not mean that the ‘service to others’ that is espoused in religious teachings is ultimately ‘self’-serving – ‘I’ do it to escape from suffering and damnation and to feel sanctimonious and achieve salvation? This ‘service to others’ is hardly a free and extemporized consideration for one’s fellow human beings.
RESPONDENT: Since everything eventually causes us to discover what we need for our freedom there is no right or wrong way to proceed. The question becomes: Which methodology within the infinite realm of possibility will serve to discover enlightenment in my life in the most efficient way possible? The answer is to take the most intensive course we can handle that is conducive to Harmony within our lives. This naturally points us to experience our ordinary life in extraordinary ways.
PETER: I am always amazed that many spiritual teachers say there is no right and wrong way and then immediately proceed to point to a right and wrong way or a good and bad way. If everything eventually causes people to discover what they need for their freedom, why are you talking about the need to fulfill dharmic duties and address karmic issues? The very notion of dharma duties implies right and wrong, good and bad and this duty, or imposition, is maintained by the carrot and stick heavy-duty threat of karmic damnation or salvation. This duplicity of Eastern spiritual teachings is what prevents most seekers, who think they are into something new, from seeing that they but entrapped in nothing more than old-time religion.
PETER: Everybody has what they fondly declare to be their ‘own’ truth and passionately defend it – even declaring their ‘right’ to do so.
RESPONDENT: Every body? You know this or the dictionary?
PETER: So why do you stubbornly insist that you are uniquely different from everybody else? It seems to be a constant theme of yours.
I see that the evidence what I said is quite clear. There are about 6,000 religions on the planet and the country I am in, and many others, have laws that enshrine the principle of Religious Tolerance. Indeed, it is part of what are deemed the basic Human Rights. These laws and rights are aimed at preventing individuals or groups from attacking, defaming, discriminating against or persecuting another on the basis of differing religious beliefs.
In other words, we need laws and ethical codes to prevent humans from fighting, killing and persecuting others because they each believe their God or Truth is the best. Imposing and policing these laws do manage to ‘keep the lid on things’ a bit ... except for Northern Ireland, Israel, the Balkans, India, Afghanistan, Africa, Iraq, Indonesia, Malaysia ... Sannyasins had direct experience of this at the Ranch when both sides armed-up.
That’s where it really hit home for me – that I would have been willing to kill for, or die for ‘my’ Master.
It’s just par for the Human Condition – the more you love someone – the more you are willing to kill others to protect him/her and to sacrifice your life in order that they can live.
RESPONDENT: Ayn Rand addressed freedom from a moral perspective, so it is not new.
PETER: Ayn Rand’s morality, or ‘new ethics’ is merely an attempt to impose yet another set of ethics and moralities on humans with her ‘Objectivism’. I think you need to read further, as actualism is a freedom from the restrictions of morals and ethics such that one becomes actually happy and harmless. This forsakes the need to comply to and be restricted by any system of imposed values and beliefs. Of course, it is sensible to obey the laws of the land, but the freedom experienced in actualism is both limitless and actual and beyond my wildest dreams. Actual means: that which is palpable, tangible, tactile, corporeal, material. In comparison, real is that which, while appearing actual and is merely the affective interpretation of the actual.
Peter’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.