Selected Correspondence Peter
PETER: Just a note on something I have been musing over and that also seems to be an issue with others on the list.
RESPONDENT: Convincing ‘me’ to self-sacrifice for the benefit to oneself and others of a permanent PCE, would certainly carry more weight if I could get into full blown PCEs. At the moment I seem to be lingering at the edge with regular glimpses but nothing which could add depth to an altruistic passion. I feel at the present I will have to settle for desire and common sense.
RESPONDENT to No. 7: Some time ago I remember thinking about that quite a bit and remember coming to the realization that the wonderful thing about the way of actualism is that firstly it is not too difficult to work out where your at. i.e.: good 99% of the time, great 99% of the time, or PCE 99% of the time. Of course, in the last example any brain pain could just be the beginning of the end. Secondly, it is possible to explore any of the above to see if there is any emotion behind it.
That is a pretty sure indication that it is made up by ‘me’.
PETER: I think it may be useful that we coin another term for that lingering on the edge of a PCE or that almost, but not quite, 99% PCE. There is a woman who describes this as an ‘excellence experience’ – the best one can be while the ‘self’ is still present. It is most definitely not a PCE for one can look inside, as it were and there is still a ‘me’ as a feeler and an ‘I’ as a thinker but it is so far above normal it is worthwhile naming and labelling.
The benefit of this acknowledgement for an actualist is that these experiences are the proof of the pudding that one’s effort is bringing reward. The idea is to expand these ‘excellence experiences’ until one can go to bed at night-time saying that one has had a 99% perfect day in the world as-it-is, with people as-they-are.
This is no small thing in a world where doom and gloom is the norm and were escaping to the self-deception and fantasy of yet another world, is held to be the ‘only’ solution.
So, what I am proposing is a new term – an excellence experience – in order that we don’t get into the spiritual trap of watering down experiences and confusing terms such as in the fashionable interposing of Awakened and Enlightened. Thus Virtual Freedom – living in an almost constant experience of excellence – is a prerequisite stage for an actualist prior to Actual Freedom. Once one can reach this stage, it is then possible to begin the next stage of dismantling the tender emotions, exactly as Richard did in his years between Enlightenment and Actual Freedom. This is more subtle, and in many ways more demanding, work for this is entirely new territory – way out beyond both normal and completely opposite to spiritual. Because of this, a considerable period of gaily living via common sense, freed of emotional turmoil, is vital and a necessary preparation for the final and irrevocable step into an actual freedom from the human condition.
RESPONDENT: Just a general response – as to avoid longwindedness.
PETER: In my experience, it’s a tough thing to avoid. I remember trying to write shorter posts at some stage but eventually I gave up. I have found that the programming that makes up the human condition is so complex and so convoluted by the long history of belief and runs so deep that there are no shortcuts to understanding the programming and how it operates. To me it was often like trying to become free of a glue pot and it takes effort and time to do so, hence lengthy posts on occasions.
RESPONDENT: I have been keeping your advice in mind over the last few days with some interesting results. First, an emphasis on sensuous attention to the senses – rather than trying to analyze what’s going on in my head. What I find is the more I am able to experience sensuously what is presented by the senses – that intellectual concerns begin to lose significance – since what is actually happening is much more interesting anyway.
PETER: Just so you don’t misinterpret what I was saying, I’ll just post a bit from the Library –
The relevant wording is that it is important to discriminate between the ways you experience the world and that this discrimination is done by becoming attentive as to how you are experiencing this moment of being alive. If this discriminating is done by repressing, ignoring or denying affective and cerebral experiencing whilst concentrating on sensate experiencing then it is nothing more than a ‘Stop and smell the roses’ philosophy – a philosophy that does nothing to facilitate a freedom from the human condition.
I’m not dismissing your investigations and experiences, far from it. The whole point of the process of actualism is to more and more develop a delight at being here and delight is sensuous appreciation. But don’t forget when you’re not feeling good or not feeling excellent or not experiencing delight then you have something to look at and something to investigate – i.e. there is work to do.
I noticed in your post to Richard that you are starting to realize that sincerity and integrity are vital to the actualism process. It is exactly these qualities that will prevent you from deluding or fooling yourself when you ask yourself ‘how am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ A little catch phrase that struck me in my early investigations and still sticks in my memory is that ‘fooling others is one thing but fooling myself is really, really silly’.
RESPONDENT: It’s amazing what ‘wisdom’ the senses seem to have all on their own – their ability to discern and navigate without ‘me’ doing anything.
PETER: Although wisdom is not a word I would use, I like your line of thinking. The observation of how I as this body can and does function remarkably well without that ‘little man in the head’ having to continuously pull at the levers can then lead to observing how many times that little man in the head (and his soul mate in the heart) manage to well and truly stuff things up. And not only for this flesh and blood body, but for others as well.
RESPONDENT: Second, yesterday I had several experiences of being ‘near’ PCEs. I know that ‘I’ was still around, but the senses were greatly heightened, yet effortlessly so. I remember reading about someone in virtual freedom talking about the body feeling almost like constant orgasm. Anyway, when those moments happen – I definitely notice a tingling sensation throughout the body that might be described that way.
Also, I used to wonder how anyone could find the experience of say, just lying in bed, interesting – but it’s starting to seem to me that it’s not so much ‘what’ is happening or being experienced that is fascinating, but ‘that’ it is happening here and now – that is where the real fascination comes in.
PETER: Yep. Feeling excellent and experiencing the delight of being here on this paradisaical planet can be heady stuff – utterly thrilling at times.
I can’t remember whether you were around at the time but we did have a discussion on the list some time ago about near PCEs, mini PCEs and so on. What came out of that discussion was the term ‘excellence experience’, so as to maintain a distinction between such experiences and a pure consciousness experience when both ‘I’ and ‘Me’ are temporarily in abeyance.
A few links from this correspondence –
… and on the topic of discernment –
I don’t want to be a probity policeman insisting on the use of particular terms however I do see the sense in making a clear distinction between completely different experiences both for the sake of accurate communication and as an aid to fruitful ‘self’-investigation. This is also the very reason I put together the Glossary. As in all fields of scientific study, it is sensible to use commonly understood and agreed upon terminology when studying, personally investigating and discussing the full range of human experiencing – which is after all what this mailing list is about.
PETER: Yep. Feeling excellent and experiencing the delight of being here on this paradisaical planet can be heady stuff – utterly thrilling at times.
I can’t remember whether you were around at the time but we did have a discussion on the list some time ago about near PCEs, mini PCEs and so on. What came out of that discussion was the term ‘excellence experience’, so as to maintain a distinction between such experiences and a pure consciousness experience when both ‘I’ and ‘Me’ are temporarily in abeyance. <snip >
I don’t want to be a probity policeman insisting on the use of particular terms – however I do see the sense in making a clear distinction between completely different experiences both for the sake of accurate communication and as an aid to fruitful ‘self’-investigation. This is also the very reason I put together the Glossary. As in all fields of scientific study, it is sensible to use commonly understood and agreed upon terminology when studying, personally investigating and discussing the full range of human experiencing – which is after all what this mailing list is about.
RESPONDENT: I agree that common terminology is useful. I like the term ‘excellence experience’ very much as it seems we need a term for this – and it seems right in line with what a ‘virtual freedom’ would be like, since in those excellence experiences – I do experience being ‘virtually free.’ It seems that some of us – (I’m thinking now of myself, No 38, and No 21 – and I’m sure there would be others) that are groping for a term for this – which is why the terms ‘near-PCE’ or ‘mini-PCE’ are being used. I certainly don’t want to police terms either – but I do like ‘excellence experience’ since it gives the sense of being a sort of imitation or ‘near-PCE’ yet also different in kind. A metaphor I’ve been using lately runs like this. The normal human experience is where the ‘self’ is (or seems to be) in the driver’s seat.
An ‘excellence experience,’ ‘near-PCE,’ ‘mini-PCE,’ or virtual freedom even is where the ‘driver-self’ is in the back seat. And an actual freedom or PCE is where the driver has (temporarily in the PCE) exited the car all together.
PETER: It’s good fun not only to be making sense of all this but also to be able to communicate with each other in such a straight-forward manner. It is such a refreshing change to have mutual consensus based upon verifiable facts and tangible experience rather than the individual grandstanding and communal disharmony that the disparate beliefs of the spiritual world inevitably produce.
PETER: I’ve been doing some thinking about your post and what you said about your change in focus lately. I’ll just repost the relevant piece as a reminder of what you said –
RESPONDENT: I do realize that the process of actualism is more than a ‘stop and smell the roses philosophy.’ Another way of putting my change in focus might be (as I’ve been thinking about it lately) living from ‘outside in’ – instead of living from ‘inside out’. Now these are just words – but what I mean by it is that I find myself often trying to analyze my every thought, feeling and figure out where the motivation is coming from – which tends to be an analytic/ emotional process in itself which doesn’t work.
I am certainly not trying to ignore the ‘inner’ processes, feeling, thoughts, etc. that are occurring – simply taking sensation as the starting point for attention. Feelings and thoughts are not ignored, but are second in priority. Now this is only a strategy – certainly not a recommendation for anyone else. It is something I’m attempting to see whether it brings long term results. Whether I will eventually negate the strategy that anything at all has ‘priority’ in attention – I don’t know – but I also won’t know until I try it. I think ‘where’ this strategy got started is noticing the more ‘cerebral’ one is about all this – the less one is experiencing what is actually present now.
PETER: The more I thought about what you said, the more I could relate to it. It’s like what I have heard Richard describe as if ‘bringing yourself to the very outer layer of your eyeballs’ and I liked the description so much I have also used it myself. I can also remember describing this shift of focus or of attentiveness as ‘like stopping hiding behind the curtains and bringing yourself to the very front of the stage’. And no doubt other people will have other ways of describing this process of becoming less ‘self’-obsessed and more interested in, and aware of, what is happening ‘outside’, as you describe it.
I have just found this piece from my journal that is relevant –
I found it interesting that I had to dig around in my memory to fully relate to what you were saying and on reflection I can see that this is not something I have to consciously make the effort to do now – I have become so accustomed to it that it has become second-nature now. But I do remember that it took constant stubborn effort at the time and I would find myself constantly falling back into not being here for long periods of time. This is not some easy thing we are talking of doing here – it is radically switching one’s focus 180 degrees from normal – ‘inside’, exclusive and ‘self’-centred – to not-normal –‘outside’, inclusive and unconditional.
I went through a brief period of berating myself for falling back ‘inside’ until I realized that this was completely natural – the result of how ‘I’ have been programmed to think, feel and operate. I also came to realize that these periods of going back to normal – feeling bored, lacklustre, ‘out of it’, annoyed, melancholic, sad, fearful, and so on, were rich fields, tangible examples of my psyche in operation, ready and ripe for immediate investigation and exploration.
Whenever I became aware that I had ‘not been here’ for a while, I immediately wanted to know why, what caused me to revert to normal? Then I would deliberately make an investigation of how my psyche had operated in that time – and the investigation was quite fresh because I could remember the event that triggered the feeling or emotion, I could often still feel the effects of the emotion, I could remember it taking over as it were. I have describe these investigations as periods of ‘self’-obsession – a deliberate and scientific obsession identical to that which a scientist, investigator or explorer has when he or she really wants to get to the bottom of something, once and for all.
Sometimes these investigations would go very intensely for days, other times they would stew on the ‘back burner’ for months, sometimes the answer came easily, other times deep-sea diving was necessary, plunging into very dark, forbidding and forbidden places in my psyche. Then when the source was uncovered, the matter resolved, the answer found and the programming eliminated, it was back to feeling good, feeling really good or even feeling excellent. Whilst these explorations seem daunting at first, soon they take on a thrilling fascination and then even the explorations, no matter how daunting, become the very stuff of life itself. Then you find you’re really cooking – as if your life really has meaning for the first time.
I think that about covers the ground of what I wanted to say. No doubt I have said all this before anyway, but I always enjoy talking afresh about this stuff, because we are pioneering this business of actualism and any tips or hints we can pass on to each other makes the job easier. I call it ‘trampling the long grass on the path’ – you have to trample your own grass for yourself but in doing so it inevitably makes the path easier for others to follow.
GARY: There is one more thing that I would like to ask you about though. In a previous post (I tried to find it in the archives but could not find the exact passage), you stated that you had had recently a glimpse or a preview of Actual Freedom, and that it occurred to you to mention that one would have to be considerably well prepared to ‘self-immolate’. I responded to you from that previous post, but skipped over this section entirely and then, after I sent the post off, found myself wondering just exactly what you had gone through. So it has occurred to me to question you about this experience you had:
PETER: In the period leading up to Virtual Freedom I had many realizations and many PCEs in what was a fairly tumultuous period. It was as though my familiar normal/ spiritual world was collapsing and any pure consciousness experiences literally felt as though I was entering another world, which the actual world is compared to ‘my’ reality. These PCE offer a glimpse of the human condition while standing outside of it, as it where, and the trick is to not only experience the delight of the actual world but also take a clear-eyed look at the appalling malice and debilitating sorrow of the human condition. Thus informed, I always had something to do when entering back into ‘my’ reality.
The next period of Virtual Freedom was largely concerned with removing any of these residual feelings that create the gulf and that stand in the way of a permanent pure experience of the actual world. In Virtual Freedom pure consciousness experiences are more like glimpses of normality, as in ‘I have always been here, it’s just that this ‘person’ keeps getting in the way’.
In both these stages I always knew that the PCEs that crept up on me were temporary experiences and that eventually they would imperceptibly fade away and some neurosis or feeling would creep in, no matter how subtle or how fleeting.
However, twice during this period of Virtual Freedom, I have had experiences that were more explicit in nature. In these PCEs I clearly and startlingly realized that in order for me, this body, to permanently experience actuality, ‘me’, this identity, would have to die or disappear entirely.
The experience I recently wrote about was of the same ilk, I simply walked through the sliding door one morning out on to our balcony and had a glimpse of how it would be if there was no way back to being normal. I remember thinking – ‘this is how it must have been for Richard when his whole psychological and psychic identity collapsed and he had no way back’. I understood then the nature of his angst at being the first human on the planet to have no psychological and psychic identity whatsoever – to have no ‘self’ dwelling inside his body.
The latest experience on our balcony was very brief and the automatic fear and subsequent thrill took my breath away for a second or two before the realization of the nature of the experience kicked in. The fear quickly passed as I began to muse on the consequences of what I had experienced. From this experience I realized that what I needed to do was to slip out from control, now that I had sufficient practical experience of the utter safety, purity and perfection of being here, sans identity, in this actual physical tangible world.
Since then more often than not, whenever I ask myself ‘how am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ I do not get an ‘I’ - answer for there is no ‘I’ operating in this moment. A similar thing would occur whenever someone asked me, as a greeting, ‘How are you?’ – I could muster no ‘I’-answer for the answer was always that I was excellent as a near ‘self’-less experience is always ambrosial. Another thing that has happened since this experience is that I have no interest in, or desire for, realizations any more. It is clear to me that the time for realizations is over and I am now ready for the real thing – the final ending of any ‘self’ centred thoughts or inner conversations and the final ending of the entire affective faculty, i.e. the end of the chemical flows that are automatically experienced as instinctual passions.
RESPONDENT No 61(R): Try to focus your attention only as these eyes and these brain thinking (for a considerable time, it was in my case like gazing in one point to calm down fidgeting ‘I’)
RESPONDENT: Yes, this is basically Richard’s/Peter’s ‘mimicking the actual world’ tech. I found this to be the key to a more and more self-less experience of life. One has to ‘play’ with it on one’s own to see the best way to use it. After I check into ‘how I’m feeling’ I go right to this ‘special’ way of seeing. Given time (usually no more than 30sec to a minute) it automatically produces a EE, so I never have to ‘try to make myself happy’. A EE is much better than any normal ‘happiness’.
PETER: I thought to comment on your reply to No 61(R) as it contains an agreement and a misconception that could lead others to imagining the actualism method to be something other than what it is.
The phrase ‘mimicking the actual world’ means that ‘I’ do whatever ‘I’ can in order to mimic the actual world in both its purity and in its perfection … and the way that ‘I’ do this is by being as happy and as harmless as is humanly possible, each moment again. This intent is single pointed in that being happy and being harmless is one and the same thing – it is impossible to be happy unless one is harmless and it is impossible to be harmless unless one is happy. In the early stages of actualism I focused all of my attention solely on this aspect – the first task being to get my attentiveness as to how I was feeling and what I was feeling in each moment of my waking hours up and running such that it became a constant awareness.
After I got a grasp of the method and of its single-pointed aim and found that I started to enjoy being here doing this business of being alive more and more then I was able – only whenever I was feeling particularly excellent – to bring my attention to sensate experiencing more and more. By bringing one’s seeing to the very surface of the eyeballs, bringing one’s touch to the fingers or the hairs on the skin, experiencing one’s taste as the activation of the taste buds on the tongue and the inside of the mouth, experiencing one’s hearing as it happens in the eardrums and experiencing one’s sense of smell as it activates the receptors in the nose what one is doing is mimicking the sensate-only experiencing that happens temporarily in a PCE or as a permanent experience in a PCE.
The reason I make this point is that if someone focuses on this latter aspect of coming to one’s senses and ignores the first and foremost aspect of the actualism method – removing the obstacles to being as happy and as harmless as is humanly possible in this moment – then they are ignoring the crux of what actualism is all about and may well be doing nothing other than treading the well-worn traditional path of denial and dissociation.
GARY: Just a personal note on this here: I have noticed some very rare times when I am so incredibly comfortable dealing, say, with my boss, that there is no fear or aggression involved whatsoever. These moments, which must either be during PCEs or near-PCE experiences, are in such striking contrast to the other fitful, fearful, ‘walking on eggshells’ feelings that I usually get when dealing with authority figures, that I have wondered what is happening when they occur. Like I said, it does not occur very often, but when it does it is in such striking contrast to what usually happens in day-to-day interaction that I am utterly fascinated about how to make it happen again and again. Yet notice the paradox in this statement:
I want it to happen, but it only happens when ‘I’, the resentful, fearful, respectful, obliging, well-behaved entity, am not. Nevertheless, it is an exciting and fascinating business. There is an autonomy, which is marked by a complete absence of fear and aggression. There is a freedom from the entire human emotional-instinctual package, and the really exciting thing is that one can experience this for themselves, as in these excellence and PCE experiences, before the ‘main event’ of self-immolation, if or whether it is to occur.
PETER: I have written in my Journal of a stand-out PCE that pointed me firmly on the path to eliminating my own sorrow and aggression –
The amazing thing is that, some four years later, not only is fear of, and aggression towards, other human beings almost non-existent but increasingly it is replaced by a spontaneous genuine bonhomie towards my fellow human beings.
A Virtual Freedom not only means a virtual end to malice and sorrow but a growing unmasking and unshackling of the underlying purity and perfection of a ‘self’-less flesh and blood body. This change is a noticeable, tangible change and nowhere more so than in interacting with other people.
PETER: Yes. The stand-out qualities of a PCE is both the purity and the perfection of the actual world and the utter sensuousness of the experience affirms that this purity and perfection are innate qualities of the physical universe, i.e. one isn’t swooning around in some aggrandized or altered state in a meta-physical imaginary world.
RESPONDENT: Exactly. I’m happy to say this has been happening quite a lot lately, not quite with the purity of the psilocybin experience last summer, but enough to give me a glimpse of what is possible if I persist in dissolving the crap that’s been cluttering up my mind and heart for years.
PETER: We have had discussions on this list in the past that may be useful for you to look up as they refer to experiences one can have that, whilst being marvellous, are not PCEs. Someone used the term ‘excellence experience’ to describe such delicious but nevertheless affective experiences in order to distinguish them from the ‘self’-less pure conscious experience of actuality and you might also find it a useful term use – or not. Vineeto has collected these discussions and catalogued them in the The Actual Freedom Trust Library.
PETER: Nice to hear from you. It’s always good to hear of other people’s successes in using the actualism method.
RESPONDENT: Hi all,
I’ve been having a lot of success in dealing with any emotions that come along, but when no emotions are present and I’m very much enjoying this moment of being alive, I’m still very conscious of my sense of self (identity) and my instinctual sex drive.
PETER: In the first phase of the actualism process – when I was still continuously aware of being a socially-ensnared and instinctually- driven being – I was constantly motivated to be very best ‘I’ could be, to be virtually happy and harmless, i.e. virtually free of malice and sorrow. With this in mind, I continually prodded myself to never settle for second best – to always make the effort to up the ante from feeling good about being here right now, to feeling really good about being here right now, to feeling excellent about being here right now. What this upping the ante did was serve to expose whatever it was that was preventing me from being virtually happy and harmless – those that remained lurking beneath the surface whenever ‘I’ settled for remaining within ‘my’ comfort zone.
RESPONDENT: Although I had one PCE proper, most of the time I seem to be triggering near PCEs where my identity seems not to want to budge and the instinctual passions are waiting in the wings. What I’m wondering is if there are any underpinnings of these two particular things which can be exposed in some way ... are there beliefs I’m not aware of yet, or some other thing to work on that I have missed?
PETER: As I have said before on this list, I personally do not favour using the term near PCE as one is either having a PCE or not – a miss is as good as a mile. I much prefer the term ‘excellence experience’ for those times when I am feeling really excellent about being here. As an actualist, if you have got the hang of feeling good for most of the time, then raise the stakes to wanting to feel excellent all of the time. This simple act is enough in itself to allow whatever impediments remain to your being virtually happy and harmless to emerge in the day-to-day, everyday business of being alive.
RESPONDENT: OK. I’m still getting the hang of the various states I’m experiencing and how to describe them.