Selected Correspondence Peter
RESPONDENT: (...) To be honest, actualism still scares me a lot of the time (even after a year). From a normal perspective, some aspects of it really are scary, no two ways about it. But sometimes a momentary glimpse of what lies beyond the human (animal) condition makes those fears and reservations seem quite laughable.
PETER: I was recently having a chat with someone who is just starting to become really fascinated with the human condition and how it operates. Our discussion soon turned to one particular aspect of the human condition that was pertinent to him at the moment. It turned out that there was something he was expected to do because it was as a duty that society demanded of him. He said that the first issues that came up were related to what others would think and feel about him if he didn’t do what he was expected to do. We chatted about the fact that what he was discovering was his conscience in action – the collection of morals, ethics and values that have been instilled in him to ensure that he remain a good and fit member of society. He also revealed that he was starting to become aware that there was a layer deeper than this level and it soon became clear as we talked that he was beginning to experience the instinctual passions in action.
He went on to talk about the instinctual compulsion in question, in this case nurture, as the issue related to his being a father. After we had talked about this for a while the subject moved on to fear because this particular issue had been worrying him for while – the worry he was experiencing was in fact the feeling of fear. After we had chatted for a while longer I asked him what had initially made him consider not doing what was both socially expected and instinctually demanded of him. He replied that he had recently come to understand the insidious nature of the human condition (he is an avid reader of Richard’s Journal and as a consequence has learnt a good deal about the human condition in a surprisingly short time), and because of this he finds that to continue doing what he is ‘expected’ to do, just because others expect him to do it, does not sit well with him at all.
As we discussed the issue further we agreed that it was simply a matter of integrity – once one clearly sees that one’s current course of action is not only harmful to oneself but also harmful to others, one’s own integrity impels one to act. It soon turned out that he had in fact already made the decision he was talking about which is why the feelings that he was having had come to the surface. As such, he wasn’t experiencing the pre-decision fears that usually manifest in the form of debilitating doubt, nor the stultifying type of fear that results in the freeze reaction of doing nothing – the ‘rabbit in the headlight’ reaction. Instead he discovered in the course of the conversation that he was experiencing the fear of the consequences of a course of action he had already committed himself to. In the end, he shrugged his shoulders and acknowledged that despite his fears, he was still going to do what his integrity demanded he do.
What particularly interested me in the conversation was that his feeling of fear manifested as what he called ‘worries’ – men being generally less demonstrative of their feelings than women, which means they typically tend to label them as unwanted or undesirable thoughts rather than what they are, unwanted and undesirable feelings – and that it was integrity that caused him to act despite these feelings arising. And the reason I was interested was that what he was saying accorded with my own experience.
His companion had a slightly different story to tell because her newly-found interest in the human condition had brought up feelings of fear in her as well, not as worry so much but as a keeping-her-awake-at-night, heart-felt, fear. She asked me what I did about fear when I first started to be an actualist. I had to think a bit because fear was not a big thing for me at the start of actualism – it was more a question of how long was I prepared to delay breaking with my past and heading off on a new adventure. I told her I soon became aware that fear was simply a feeling that came and went every now again, albeit very strongly at times, and that I had further become aware that it very often arose as a consequence of my having already decided to do something (or not do something) rather than as a precursor to making a decision.
She nodded as though she could relate to what I was saying and then said that the feelings of fear had become less lately and that she was lately more excited by the business of beginning to experientially understand the whys and hows of the human condition in action. Her face lit up as she began to talk about some of the things she had already discovered and freely asked questions about aspects that she had yet to explore. It became apparent to me that she had discovered that fear can readily be transformed into thrill once one begins to do what one only moments before had been experienced as being scary to do.
I won’t go on as the point of this story is not the discussion I was having, nor the particular people involved, but to make the point that you are not alone in the feelings you are having – in fact given the radical nature of actualism, it is only natural and normal to experience such feelings from time to time.
RESPONDENT: Not knowing what will be next. So what is this having to know what comes next?
Hmm I don’t know at the moment because I don’t care what comes next. What about the concern about what I have written? The mind is busy in the background worrying about the next response which might be someway hurtful. So there is a constant fear of being hurt in relationship. What is being hurt? Nothing really, it is more the belief that any revealing of weakness will result in an attack of some sort. So what are the weaknesses that fear attack? It is this impression of a precious self, probably the spiritual one, plus all the associated feelings. No, there is more to it, it’s the worrying about being dumb, having said something and then the fear of being publicly humiliated. This brings to mind an instance at school when I was severely put down in front of the class. It seem that these instances can form the basis of self beliefs.
PETER: If your concern is about being hurt it may well be due to a sense of pride. I remember well the fool I felt when I realised I was firmly entrenched as a disciple of an Indian Guru and shouting ‘Ya-Hoo’ at the top of my voice to an empty chair on a podium while dressed in a long white robe with a few thousand others. ‘My god’, I thought ‘Is this what my life has come to? Here I am in a spiritual version of a Klu Klux Clan rally!’ And yet it still took me 5 more years to fully get out of the spiritual belief-system – polite words for Eastern Religion. Such were my feelings of pride, loyalty, wanting to belong to the group, etc. Of course there was no other alternative to the spiritual path in those days. All this is new, no one has discovered this before, no-one has dared to consider that it is possible to eliminate both one’s social identity and one’s instinctual self. And to discover that one can then live life to the optimum without the lost, lonely, frightened and very, very cunning entity that spoils and inhibits one’s sensate, sensual enjoyment of being a flesh and blood body in this actual paradisiacal world. But you can whittle away at the bugger, reduce the spoiling factor, actively reduce its influence, diminish its effect, stretch out the times of being happy and harmless, raise the bar a bit ...
Yes, if you continue on with these investigations you will be a fool, an idiot, a nutter, a raving maniac, a lunatic, etc. , but what to do? For me it was eventually obvious that I was being even more of a fool, more dumb, and would suffer more hurt and humiliation by staying with doing something that I knew was false, that I knew didn’t work, and that I knew would never work. I always liked the saying which I came across a few months ago – ‘the definition of a lunatic is someone who keeps doing something he/she knows doesn’t work.’ I just figured, whatever I did someone, somewhere, sometime, was going to think I was a fool anyway, or, as you said, try to put me down ... so I might as well be a happy and harmless fool.
As for writing on this list, it is always a delight to hear of someone’s investigations, fears, doubts, feelings, experiences, etc. We are all in this business of being a human being for the first – and only – time, and this list is for those intrepid few who have at least some doubts about the life within the Human Condition. This is an experiment, so it is good that we report to each other what is going on in order that we can each make intelligent and informed decisions about becoming free of the Human Condition. This is not only a personal thing and this is not a small thing we do, we are all in this business together, and your writing and contribution is valuable. To have one person actually free of malice and sorrow can be put down to a freak of nature, but to have a handful, all following a mapped-out, well defined and documented method and path, is irrefutable proof that peace on earth is possible. And then what about a dozen, two dozen, a hundred...
But to keep one’s feet on the ground – even an easily obtainable Virtual Freedom is to live beyond normal human expectations anyway, and Virtual Freedom far exceeds the old well-worn, flogged to death, delusionary state of Enlightenment. A ‘win-win’ situation as Richard puts it. As for your comment on relationship, I’ll flog my new version of Living Together again. I have written it specifically about what we have been talking about – putting actualism in practice in one’s daily life and, as such it may be of interest. Vineeto has been busy collecting together writing and correspondence about the Pure Consciousness Experience which she is about to upload, so I am also announcing that for those interested.
RESPONDENT: If there is a working model and an understanding of the main function of each component then I think it would be possible to extrapolate to create a rough picture of what happens.
PETER: (...) It is only those who acknowledge that they feel malicious, murderous, revengeful, resentful, sad, depressed, lonely, despairing, etc., – and want to do something about it – who will be interested in Actual Freedom.
Now that the neuro-biological scientific evidence is becoming available, it will be up to each of us what we do with it – whether we continue to ignore or escape from it, or get up off our bums and do something.
The main interest for me in LeDoux’s findings was that instinctual fear was sourced in the primitive brain and that the primitive brain was the quickest to react. The ‘quick and dirty’ instinctual response then overwhelms the modern brain – a ‘hose pipe’ connection from the amygdala to the neo-cortex compared to a ‘drinking straw’ the other way. This explained my feelings of being overwhelmed by rage, anger, sadness, despair or loneliness in my lifetime and it explains the more subtle feelings that constantly served to ruin my happiness. It makes it glaringly obvious that, no matter how ‘good’ or well intentioned ‘I’ am, it is factually impossible to be free of malice and sorrow unless I am free of the instinctual animal programming in its entirety.
RESPONDENT: Just something I wanted to clarify.
PETER: A pleasure to hear from you again.
I like it that you have questioned what I wrote about fear because as I wrote it I realized that this was somewhat new territory to explore, in that it has not been much written about before. I remember when I wrote the Fear chapter in my Journal that Richard was particularly interested as he said fear was not a particular issue for him. When I wrote the chapter I found myself writing equally about doubt, as fear was also not a major issue for me, but I certainly experienced doubt. In hindsight much of the doubt was related to being a pioneer in this process of actualism – the usual ‘why me?’, ‘is it a con?’, ‘does it work?’, ‘is it possible?’, ‘why hasn’t it been discovered before?’, etc.
What always drove me on, rather than let fear and doubt get in my way, was the pure consciousness experience of purity and perfection of this physical universe that lies beyond the self-centred real world experience we take for normal or the Self-centred spiritual world experience that has traditionally been peddled as the Truth. This pure experience, combined with the down-to-earth sense of what Richard was saying, proved too irresistible a lure to let either fear or doubt hobble me.
With regard to what I wrote to Gary about fear, I would preface my comments by saying that I often pick up on something he writes and use it as a way of digging in to a particular topic. I often explore the traditional real-world and spiritual-world views and then relate my own experiences with what I have found to work in my experiences with actualism. I appreciate this way of writing because it allows us to mutually explore a particular issue without the usual emotional personal reactions dominating common sense explorations.
This way of mutual investigation is something I have been able to pursue directly with both Richard and Vineeto and I would encourage anyone who is interested to join in the conversations on this list. It’s what is called questioning. It’s such fun to be able to let your hair down and talk to others in this way because the only thing that can happen in my experience is that you challenge yourself – you stick your neck out beyond what you consider ‘safe’ territory.
The very business of actualism is to prick the balloons of belief, to replace the morals of good and bad and the ethics of right and wrong with verifiable facts, and to abandon what is silly and doesn’t work and discover what is common sense and what works. How else to come to an understanding of what is actual but to eliminate that which is not actual?
And surely it goes without saying that this process of understanding what is actual is essential if you ever want to experience actuality.
Just as an aside, you may find it useful to ponder upon the very word ‘actual’ in Actual Freedom – it is abundantly rich with meaning.
But to get back to the topic of fear – the point I was attempting to make was that I have never challenged fear, as in tackling it or confronting it. I have rarely sought out physically dangerous situations in order to ride the hormonal highs they produce, because the risk of injuring or hurting myself seemed too high a price to pay and I eventually opted for safety. Similarly, I eventually saw that seeking out emotionally confronting situations with others in order to ride the hormonal highs they produce was but a very cheap self-gratifying shot – most usually malice justified as standing up for my supposed rights.
I also spent years on the spiritual path where I sublimated my real-world instinctual fears of survival by immersing myself in the cozy cocoon of spiritual belief with its notions of life-after-death, reincarnation, inner peace, Godliness and a real self. The essential approach of all spiritual and religious belief is to transcend fear by imagining that you truly are an immortal spirit and not a mortal flesh and blood body. The feelings of fearlessness induced by denial, delusion and devotion can even lead to the ritual suicides and sacrifices so common in many religions as one dies to serve God or to gloriously pass into some mythical heavenly realm.
What shook me out of Eastern spirituality was when my Guru died, declaring he was just passing through, and then left yet another religion on the planet in his wake. I realized that even when he was alive he really was just a ‘visitor’ for he was literally ‘out of it’ most of the time. He lived in a dissociated state in an imaginary world entirely of his own making – not in the real world and most definitely not in the actual world of people, things and events. His supposed fearlessness, in common with all God-men and Gurus, was but a con because it was based solely on his own delusion of immortality, omnipresence and omnipotency.
Given the failure of the gung-ho traditional approaches of avoiding, challenging, denying or sublimating fear, the question remains – what to do about fear? How to eliminate it?
The process of actualism offers a third alternative and it takes its clue from the practical successes of cognitive therapy in reducing or eliminating specific fears. Put very simply, cognitive therapy involves cautiously repeating a situation that usually evokes a fearful feeling and repeatedly observing that, despite the feeling and hormonal rushes, no actual danger ensues. Eventually the event, circumstance or situation can be experienced without the normally associated feeling of fear. Three aspects are relevant to the success of this method – to stop avoiding, to observe and be aware of the feeling as it arises, and to both understand and experience the distinction between the feeling and the actuality of the situation.
Now although cognitive therapy has proved the most effective method of reducing or eliminating specific fears, it is vital to remember that the primary aim of actualism is not to eliminate fear but is to become actually free of malice and sorrow. The elimination of fear is therefore a by-product of this process and not the central focus.
If one’s sole aim in life is to reduce or eliminate fear then cognitive therapy seems to offer the best solution and then you can spend a lifetime slowly ticking off one particular fear after the other. The other way is to take the traditional spiritual path of feeling God-like, God-aligned or God-protected which does not eliminate fear but only produces the delusion of fearlessness in order to suppress or sublimate the underlying feelings of fear.
The only effective way of eliminating instinctual fear is to eliminate the source of psychological and psychic fear – the ‘he’ or ‘she’ who is feeling fear – and that process is actualism. This process can be seen to be similar to cognitive therapy in that it first involves stopping denying or avoiding and then encourages observing and becoming aware of feelings as they arise, and understanding and experiencing the distinction between the feeling and the actuality of the situation. The essential difference between the two processes is scope and depth. In actualism all feelings, both savage and tender, good and bad, desirable and undesirable, are up for scrutiny and one is aiming to dig deep into one’s own psyche so as to eliminate the very source of malice and sorrow – ‘me’ at my core.
So, for an actualist, cultivating an ongoing awareness is the key and the idea of challenging fear, as in tackling it or confronting it by seeking out physically dangerous or emotionally confrontational situations is unnecessary and can well be a diversion from the main issue. For an actualist, being an actualist in a world of materialists and/or spiritualists is already enough of a challenge and the everyday living in the world of people, things and events already always provides sufficient circumstances to investigate all of the range of feelings, emotions and passions that arise. As Gary pointed out, it is the issues that we are avoiding that are critical and therefore actively seeking out new challenges does seem a little pointless.
Just to give you a personal example that may help to illustrate the distinction I am trying to make. When I first came across actualism I had been living by myself for some two years after the ending of a relationship with a woman. When I was confronted by the proposition that ‘if I couldn’t live with one other person in utter peace and harmony, then life on earth was indeed a sick joke’ I was moved to action – I was moved to challenge myself or to put myself in a challenging situation.
To do this I had to act despite the feeling of fear that arose and it took me some weeks to act to rise to the challenge despite the fear and doubt. The initial serendipitous event was coming across actualism, the specific challenge then required that I put myself in a challenging situation and the next serendipitous event was Vineeto saying ‘Yes’ to my proposition. However, for many of my other investigations I was already in challenging situations such as in my work where serendipitous events, meetings and circumstances abounded and thus it required no action on my part to be challenged and tested.
Whether challenging yourself to radically and irrevocably change – to become actually free – requires a change in circumstances at any stage only you will know, for only you know what you are avoiding.
For those wondering where or how to start, the basic approach in actualism is to tackle whatever issue bugs you most, whatever is your particular thing that is making you most angry or most sad. Go for whatever of the obvious passions that you want to be free of and then investigate every feeling, belief, moral, ethic or psittacisms that stands in your way on the path to freedom from malice and sorrow.
If you want to be free of malice, then make it the most important thing you are doing when you are doing it. Go about your daily life as you normally do but notice all the times when you are annoyed about something – it might be that it is a rainy cold day, it might be the driver who cuts in on you, it might be something a friend said or something you read or saw on TV. Notice whenever you blame someone for doing something or not doing something. Notice how you talk to other people, what feelings you are having while you talk.
Are you being confrontational to this person, a touch aggressive perhaps? Are you feeling resentful, bitchy, sarcastic, cynical, critical, dismissive, arrogant, above-it-all, scornful, irritated or bitter? Do you often berate yourself or give yourself a hard time?
Do you take out your anger on others? If so – who, when and why? Can you catch yourself doing it and become aware of it while you are doing it?
If you can become this aware then you have found the secret of actualism, for neither the savage nor the tender passions can stand the scrutiny of awareness. In this case, you will have begun the process of becoming free of malice. You will have begun to get ‘the bugger by the throat’. Your malice will noticeably wilt and eventually wither as you become more and more aware of it and all its subtle, and not so subtle, nuances.
Then you can do the same thing with sorrow.
By running the question ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ you start to notice all those times you are feeling melancholic, sad, lacklustre, bored, resentful, cut off, remote, detached, lonely, depressed, burdened, weighed down, resigned, sympathetic, empathic, gloomy, or hoping for a better day. You start to notice how much time you waste being unhappy and not being here.
You then start to notice what things or events trigger these sorrowful feelings. You notice the seduction of wallowing in sad memories and you start to notice the feelings you get when you listen to certain music or watch certain films. The trick is to become aware of the sorrow-full feelings when they are happening, put a label on the feeling and discover when it started and what caused it.
The process of becoming aware of your feelings and becoming aware of how they are preventing you from being happy and from being harmless is the process of actualism.
While the process is simple and straightforward, the very real challenge is to take it on fully – to make becoming happy and harmless the most important thing in your life – numero uno. There is no doubt that fear will arise on occasions but if you set your sights on becoming both happy and harmless you will find that fear, like all of the survival passions, cannot be sustained in the light of awareness.
The second statement which exists on the How to Become Free from the Human Condition page seemed to be somewhat of a contradiction until I re-read your first of the above paragraph. ‘Watching the hang gliders over the cape twigged me to comment on the distinction between challenging fear by undertaking dangerous activities and the process of becoming aware of, identifying, observing and progressively eliminating psychological and psychic fear in action in one’s own psyche.’
I would assume that the meaning of the second paragraph is to challenge, by paying attention to and extending the scope of awareness rather than by challenging to desensitise.
PETER: Your query particularly related to my use of word ‘challenging’ in the quoted passage –
I gave some thought to amending the passage, but decided to leave it as it is for now.
The beliefs and instinctual passions that fuel malice and sorrow in the human species certainly need challenging and eliminating, for how else are human beings ever going to live in peace and harmony? Or more to the point, how else are you going to live with your fellow human beings in peace and harmony? How else are you going to be free of malice and sorrow? How else are you going to be happy and harmless? How else are you going to be free of the Human Condition?
In the process of eliminating your beliefs and instinctual passions you soon discover that the only thing that stands in your way on the path to Actual Freedom is a feeling – the feeling of fear. So ... what to do? If you really want to be totally free of malice and sorrow then you accept the challenge ... and do it anyway.
RESPONDENT: I had meant to respond earlier to this post, but our area was hit with a nasty ice storm, which knocked out power (and internet access) over a large area for most of a week. It did afford the opportunity to experience instinctual fear, as tree limbs came crashing down on the roof repeatedly... that elicited a response that could only be from the lizard section of the brain. It was followed then by the fabricated worry response, which anticipated with dread the next limb. Anyways, it was an interesting (as in the Chinese curse?) observation of the whole range of fear responses.
PETER: Careful observation will reveal that the worry response emanating from instinctual fear is not fabricated – as in made-up or manufactured – but rather it is directly associated with the automatic instinctual response. The genetically programmed thoughtless instinctual response together with its immediate feeling aftermath, whether it lasts a few minutes or a few hours, are inseparable and any attempts to intellectually separate them can only result in dissociation.
I’ll just offer a comment on the matter of observation as it is relevant to all who have been attracted to Eastern spirituality or Eastern philosophy at some point in their lives. Vineeto and I have often discussed the fundamental differences between the Eastern practice of self-observation and the actualism practice of ‘self’-awareness as well as reflecting upon how difficult it was in the early days to stop being a dissociative observer and start becoming aware of exactly how I am experiencing this moment of being alive.
The fundamental difference between the two practices is due to the diametrically opposite intent of each of the practices – the aim of the spiritual practice is to cultivate a dissociated identity in order to avoid feeling the full range of instinctual passions, whereas the aim of actualism is to instigate radical change in order to become happy and harmless in the world-as-it-is, with people as-they-are.
RESPONDENT: These instinctual passions sound fairly similar to other theories I have read about conditioning being transmitted though the genes or DNA. On this list, No 59 has pointed out several instances where this is the case, none to your satisfaction but close enough for me.
PETER: Yep, it is clear that you both are intent on fudging the differences between actualism and spiritualism – ‘close enough is good enough’.
RESPONDENT: UG says the body experiences fear for its own protection. When you are looking over the edge of a cliff, some people may walk to the edge and look over fearlessly and others will keep a ‘safe’ distance. Does that mean you or Richard will walk right up to the edge on a windy or windless day? What will you do? What keeps you from the very edge? Fear? Intelligence? Self preservation? How are you splitting up these three and dividing them?
PETER: No. Such matters are matters of common sense. Nowadays I am always careful to avoid situations in which I can be either injured or killed, which was not necessarily the case in the years when I was occasionally stirred to do dangerous things in order to break the monotony I used to experience in doing the mundane activities of everyday life.
RESPONDENT: How will you behave when you come across a dangerous snake on a walk in the wilderness? Will you instinctually jump back? Is that fear?
PETER: I haven’t had occasion to come across a dangerous snake in the last few years but I have noticed a few occasions when I have had a reaction to an unexpected noise or an unexpected movement close by. What I noticed was that an instantaneous preparedness to act, or even an instantaneous evasive action, had kicked in before I had a chance to make a reasoned assessment of the situation, but I also noticed that there was no increase in heart rate and no tensing of the muscles as I used to experience when in the past the feeling of fear accompanied the instantaneous thoughtless response to danger. I liked the fact that the feeling of fear did not occur for it was a matter-of-fact confirmation that I was indeed becoming actually free of the instinctual feeling of fear.
RESPONDENT: Is that the body’s fear that UG is talking about?
PETER: No. In the practical example I gave above, it was clear to me that the body itself does not feel fear – ‘I’ feel fear. This does not mean that this body is reckless and fearless when ‘I’ no longer rule the roost – it means that common sense is then free to operate, unimpeded by the brutish and debilitating instinctual passions.
I did have a snake-related incident that is worthwhile recounting because it is also an experiential confirmation that not only do ‘I’ feel fear but also ‘I’ can cause the bodily symptoms that we associate with the feeling of fear even when the body itself is in no danger at all As I was asleep one night I had a dream in which ‘I’ was bitten on the thumb by a very poisonous snake. Immediately there was excruciating pain and the thumb started to discolour and the skin was withering and dying before ‘my’ eyes. I then woke up out of the dream and I could still feel the pain in my finger and I still felt in shock despite the fact that I could see my finger was okay and that I had no bodily signs normally associated with fear. In other words, I experienced psychosomatic symptoms of fear bought on solely by ‘my’ dream.
RESPONDENT: Maybe he calls it fear and you call it intelligence. A difference in semantics but no difference in actuality, in the movement of the body away from danger.
PETER: No. Fear and intelligence are not the same thing at all. Fear is an instinctual passion, whereas intelligence is a function of the human brain. I don’t know whether you have noticed it but instinctual passions inhibit the free operation of intelligence.
RESPONDENT to No 38: Be clear about what you want and what you’re afraid of losing. Fear is always related to not getting what you want or losing what you have or think you have.
PETER: Not so. There is the fear of actually getting what you want – the fear of being free of the human condition is the biggest fear of all because deep down one knows it will be the end of ‘me’.
RESPONDENT: You so sure about that Petey? That it will be the end of ‘you’? Why do I even ask, of course you are sure.
PETER: Yep. Whenever I write about the time when I was considering devoting my life to becoming happy and harmless and that it felt as though I was entering a tunnel that had ‘Warning, do not enter here’ written above it and I get no reply other than bluff and bluster, I assume that others may well be being confronted with the biggest fear of their lives – the beginning of the end of ‘me’.
RESPONDENT: You have been told it will be the end of you and that ending you will solve all your problems.
PETER: No. I have experienced the fear of having nothing left to loose other than to devote my life to becoming happy and harmless is.
RESPONDENT: This whole self-immolation thing seems completely bogus to me and why use that silly misleading term except to carve out some bogus originality for yet another philosopher, philosophy, teacher and teaching. That term mystifies the whole thing and scares people. It’s completely unnecessary imo.
PETER: Remaining who you think and feel you are is only an instinctual necessity for those who want to keep their sorrowful feelings and those who want to continue to blame others for the chronic inability of human beings to live together with other human beings in peace and harmony. For those who are sincere in wanting to be happy and harmless, the feeling of fear that they encounter is not at all mystifying, it is felt to be very real – and especially so for those who have been conditioned by religion and spiritual belief to take their selves seriously.
RESPONDENT: You think what you have written above is the biggest fear? I don’t agree at all. There is no biggest fear. They are all the same and arise from the same source, self-obsessed thought and thinking taken to a neurotic/ psychotic level.
PETER: I don’t get it.
Why do you persist with trotting out this old thinking about the source of fear when it is has been utterly debunked as being mythology by experiential neurological evidence which proves that fear is an instinctual reaction that produces an affective reaction that kicks in prior to any cognitive assessment being possible. In other words, although imaginative thinking can produce a feeling of fear via secondary feedback circuitry, the primary source of fear has been proved as being a near instantaneous instinctual/ thoughtless reaction that produces an affective/thoughtless response some 13 milliseconds before the signal reaches the neocortex which only then enables the possibility of cognitive awareness and any consequential thinking to operate.
And you don’t have to be a scientist to work this out for yourself. The next time a potentially threatening situation arises, be it driving a car or hearing an unfamiliar noise outside your house at night or whatever – provided you are attentive to how you are experiencing the moment – you will notice that the feeling of fear has already kicked in before you even become cognitively aware of the potential danger. Your foot has already gone to the footbrake and your heart is already pumping faster before you have had a chance to think about what is happening or you are already feeling fearful before you have a chance to even begin to think about what the noise outside could be.
The reason I say ‘I don’t get it’ is that when I talked about feelings of malice and sorrow with Richard and he explained that their source was instinctual, there was an ‘of course’ – it was as if I had known this all along but had spent my life denying or avoiding the fact that I was an instinctually-driven animal. After that I refused to be so silly as to go back to believing Eastern philosophy and religion, all of which is based on denial and avoidance of this simple and self-evident fact.
RESPONDENT: This fear you are talking about can be grouped in your societal conditioning fears.
PETER: All fear can ultimately be sheeted home to the instinctual fear of death. Why do you persist in being so silly as to hold to ancient spiritual beliefs when they have been long disproved and debunked? To me, holding to such beliefs is akin to those fundamental Christians who deny the geological evidence and the fossil record that disproves and debunks the Bible’s fairy stories of a creator God.
RESPONDENT: You have been taught that ‘you’ need to go. The ‘you’ or ‘me’ has and can have no idea what the hell that means except death and it gets scared about the implications of death. Those implications have all been taught to us.
PETER: No. You would know very well from your own life experiences that the fear of death is instinctual and you would also be well aware that the fear of death comes to the forefront of one’s awareness the older one becomes and the closer one comes to death.
The implications of actualism are that one can either assuage this fear of death by latching on to some form or other of imaginary religious/ spiritual/ metaphysical beliefs, live and die as a melancholic and antagonistic materialist or live and die being a happy and harmless actualist. This is not something I have been taught – the facts are now clearly laid out for anyone to see and for anyone to choose whatever alternative they want.
RESPONDENT: If you never heard of all this philosophy and teaching of the self and that the self is the causes of your troubles and that your self must go or die to fix your problems, then this particular fear would never have come into existence.
PETER: Again, not so. It is common to many people when reaching what is termed middle age – when the years remaining to death become less than those that have passed since birth – to begin to seek the meaning of life. The churches used to be full of the middle-aged and older seeking meaning, whereas nowadays they are more likely to be found frequenting therapy groups, yoga and meditation classes and Internet mailing lists.
IRENE: As I have originated the bleeding phrase (The Wide and Wondrous Path) myself some years ago, I feel rightfully justified in reminding you that I never had in mind that the ‘trodders’ on this path (incl. me) would regularly need to retreat into the magical long grass along the side of this path and beat themselves up first with all kind of ridiculous self-admonishments and then sink into the bare-pit of fear, dread, malice, evil and plain yukkiness, in order to ‘exterminate this self forever’. And then having to vomit out the nausea of hell itself, literally. The logical next step is then fighting this demon out of pure survival- instinct and with the utmost use of sheer will-power prove to yourself that you can conquer this ‘worst of human beingness’...
I did not incorporate this into my vision, precisely because I had seen a more attractive way than the catholic self-flagellation and the eternal Battles Against Evil that have been the flavour of the day since the myriad of mythologies with their boring fights against human nature... <snip> All the dread and malice was an induced belief in the first place and not even true, but look what it did?!
That’s what you get from believing and trying to convince yourself that you are malicious and ‘rotten to the core’ as your deepest self and Self ... and the ensuing belief that therefore you must eradicate all of your self, your feelings, your soul, your being human ... But even when you are convinced that you are perverse, rotten to the core, malicious and fearful, you cannot even do something constructive to rectify this, apart from ‘sitting this dread out’, enhancing its power over you! Whilst your objective was to at least diminish it if not exterminate it altogether.
PETER: When I talked to you last time I was telling you my discoveries about fear and telling you of an experience when I experienced what I can only describe as universal dread. I talked to you to about the wide and wondrous path to actual freedom and described this as the only hiccup that I had discovered recently. Very occasionally something goes on inside my head that produces what I would describe as a mist of a feeling but it is so good to now be both happy and harmless – it is definitely beyond my wildest dreams. Is your embellishing and blatant misrepresentation of what I said to you about this particular experience an attempt to fabricate some ‘visions of evil’? What image it is that you are trying to concoct? I find it bewildering to say the least.
Do you remember your teenage years when you both wanted to leave home but it was scary too? Well, when I finally left university, I became alone in the world and found that I no longer belonged to a group. I experienced what it was like to be on my own in a crazy world where people fought it out for ‘survival’ despite the fact that the only thing they needed to fear was each other, while it seemed to me there was enough to go round, for all of us to live in comfort and peace. I could never understand why people could never get along.
Well, I had thought that childhood was the tough part and being an adult would be cool as I would get to be free of what I sensed as ‘shackles’ – social conditioning and blind instinctual drives. It just took 50 years to finally be here but in the end it was as easy as falling off a log (or laying on a couch) I am now fully living that freedom. Good hey...
RESPONDENT: The other day I wasn’t feeling well and after a meeting here at the hospital as I stood up to leave, splitting headache, tremulous, I almost fainted, and when it was happening, I felt nothing like concern for myself, for someone who was sick, or anything like that.
What I felt was fear, not about my condition or possible damage to my physical self, but fear about having my weakness exposed to others, and what normally would call this fear is ‘embarrassment.’ This is simply the truth. That is the kind of a creature ‘I’ am – I don’t actually care for myself but only my appearance – am I safe? will they like me? – in the eyes of others. I recognize it as delusion.
PETER: I think this is particularly true for the male as we have been conditioned to hide or repress our feelings and the discovery of these feelings that emerge can be quite astounding. I discovered that the traditional spiritual way of regarding them as illusionary was no longer acceptable to me as I would no longer tolerate their presence as I found that not only did they cause my unhappiness but were the direct and real cause of all the violence and suffering in the world. The opportunity to actually do something about bringing peace to the planet is no small thing.
RESPONDENT: I had a look in the pages suggested, but I could not find anything related with anxiousness and fear for unknown reason, which creates panic. In such a condition do you know if there is any other approach apart of medicines like SSRI (Prozac etc)?
PETER: Fear is widely regarded as the most potent feature of the instinctual survival program – the genetic program that is the primary operating system of all animals, including the human animal. The rudimentary survival instinct of animals is sometimes referred to as the ‘fight and flight’ response, often summed up in the phrase ‘what can I eat, what can eat me?’
Traditional methods of attempting to assuage the fear of survival inherent within the human condition include seeking safety in numbers by clinging to family and tribal members, seeking security by hoarding money, possessions and assets or seeking power and control over others, either covertly or overtly. The other traditional methods of counteracting instinctual fear involves dissociating from the feeling of fear by seeking succour and comfort in any of the multitudinous spiritual and religious beliefs, be it the fantasy of having a Big-Daddy God as a personal friend and protector, sustaining a belief in life after death and the immortality of one’s soul or spirit, or imagining oneself to be at-one-with God or even God Himself/ Herself/ Itself.
And, as you say, there may well be medications that can help those who suffer chronically from fear, but I have no experience or knowledge of this, so I can’t make comment on this approach.
It is important to note that actualism, unlike spiritualism, is not about coping with, assuaging or transcending fear – actualism is about becoming both happy and harmless. This may well explain why your question has not been answered to your satisfaction – the emphasis in actualism is solely on becoming both happy and harmless – not in feeling fearless, all-powerful and immortal as in spiritualism. Actualism is a new and unique approach to becoming free from the human condition in that involves progressively eradicating the root cause of human malice and sorrow – the total package of the ‘self’-centred instinctual survival passions.
When I first came across actualism and was confronted with the proposition of abandoning the spiritual path and devoting my life to becoming happy and harmless, I remember seeing it as looking into a dark tunnel. I knew the journey to becoming happy and harmless would be the end of ‘me’ – hence the dark tunnel. But at the same time I also understood that the only thing that was preventing me from starting on the path to an actual freedom was a feeling – the feeling of fear. This is the same for anyone who sets off on a journey into the unknown – what initially stands in the way of beginning the journey is fear, but once they actually start the journey the thrill of the adventure takes over.
My experience is that if you really want to become free of the human condition in toto, it is important not to let fear stop you – fear is, after all, only a feeling.
RESPONDENT: I had read to Krishnamurti suggesting to stay with fear or anxiousness, because I am the fear. He was expriming it saying that the observer is the observed. What do you say about that?
PETER: As I said, actualism has nothing to do with practicing dissociation. Dissociating from feelings when they get too raw or too potent is a common psychological reaction and it is well-documented that in some cases this reaction can be so severe that altered states of consciousness can result, either partial or permanent. Of course, in the spiritual tradition dissociation is lauded as the panacea to grim reality and is actively practiced by many people – one simply imagines there is an alternative non-physical spirit-only world, a Greater Reality, and then feels oneself to be living in this world, thereby dissociating from grim reality. With practice, one can even start to feel ‘At-One-With’ this Greater Reality or even be convinced solipsistically that one ‘Is’ that Greater Reality – leading to such twaddle as ‘I am God’ and ‘God is me’, or ‘I am the Universe’ and ‘the Universe is me’ and so on.
Then ‘the observer is the observed’ – which is what J. Krishnamurti was talking about. Spiritualists do take their ‘selfs’ very, very seriously.
I’ve often contemplated on the fact that, in my father’s time, anyone who went around declaring they were God, by whatever name, would have been confined in a mental institution. Nowadays, with the current fashion for Eastern religion, the world is littered with people who say they are God, or God-realized, and yet rather than be incarcerated they are venerated.
RESPONDENT: So, when I was speaking about the observer and the observed, I was meaning it this way: When I look at my fear, then there is duality. Me (the observer) looking at fear (the observed).
PETER: This means ‘you’ (the observer) are separating yourself from your feeling of fear (the observed). You have created this duality by creating a new superior-feeling identity (the observer).
RESPONDENT: Then me being different from fear, I try to do something about this fear. To end it, to exprime it, etc.
PETER: If you investigate Eastern spiritual teachings a bit, you will find that what they are talking about is transcending fear – as in rising above – and not in ending fear. Nowhere do the ancient teachings talk about eliminating fear because this can only be done if the self-centred instinctual passions are eliminated in toto.
This is what actualism brings to the table and it is brand new in human history – a scientific investigative process that results in freedom from the instinctual passions as distinct from a mystical dissociative freedom from the fears of being here in the world as-it-is with people as-they-are.
RESPONDENT: When I stated that the observer is the observed, then I was meaning that I and the fear are the same thing. There are not two different things.
PETER: And yet only two sentences before you said ‘Then me being different from fear, I try to do something about this fear’. Either you believe you are different from fear or you believe you and fear are the same thing – to have a bet each way only leaves you confused. In actualism you find the facts of the matter for yourself by your own investigations which saves the confusion and uncertainty of having to rely on believing what others tell you is the Truth.
RESPONDENT: Actually I was meaning the opposite of dissociation. When I say I am afraid then dissociation takes place.
PETER: You have just totally redefined dissociation to mean exactly the opposite it does in psychiatric terms.
When you say ‘I am afraid’ then there is no distance between ‘you’ and fear – ‘you’ and the feeling are one and the same thing. You acknowledge the fact that there is no difference between ‘you’ and the feeling of fear.
On the other hand, when you say ‘When I look at my fear, then there is duality. Me (the observer) looking at fear (the observed)’ then you have separated yourself from your feeling of fear. You have dissociated from your feeling of fear by inventing a new identity – the one who observes fear but is separate from the feeling.
The process of self-investigation in actualism involves neither denying, repressing or dissociating from any feelings that may arise in this very moment, nor does it involve indulging in, expressing or associating with any of those feelings. This enables the process to be an unbiased scientific in-depth investigation of one’s own psyche, a process aimed at promoting the felicitous feelings and eliminating the so-called good and bad feelings, i.e. those that are the invidious and self-aggrandizing.
RESPONDENT: If it is possible not to disassociate the I from the fear in the moment this thing we call fear arise, then I think that there is only fear and no one I, ONE SELF TO BE AFRAID.
PETER: In spiritual teachings it is commonly said that ‘I’ am not my feelings’ – they come and go – but ‘I’ (the watcher) remain as a constant. What is usually ignored in this scenario is that ‘I’ (the watcher) gleefully associate with the good and loving feelings whilst disingenuously dissociate from the bad and evil feelings.
RESPONDENT: If I understand that I and fear are one composite phenomenon, then there is nothing that I can do about it.
PETER: You can’t do anything about it if you believe what the spiritual teachers tell you. If you are willing to abandon your spiritual beliefs then you can make your own investigations of your own psyche in operation so as to determine for yourself the facts of the matter. Of course you have to want to change, in order to change.
RESPONDENT: So there is no action from the self to do something. And then might be that the self is eliminated all together.
PETER: I don’t know whether you have noticed or not, but if you don’t do some action or other, then nothing happens. God doesn’t make your breakfast, press the buttons on your remote control or earn the money for your food and shelter. Why then should you imagine that a God, by whatever name, is going to magically change your life circumstances and free you from your feelings of fear, antagonism, sorrow, angst, etc.
RESPONDENT: Because seems to me that the self is coming into being through psychological action. Like identification for example.
PETER: Yes. Spiritual teachings do teach dis-identification as being the panacea to unwanted or undesirable feelings. ‘‘I’ am not my feelings’ and ‘‘I’ am not my body’ are commonly heard spiritual psittacisms.
RESPONDENT: Then there is only fear and what can I do? Nothing.
PETER: There is something you can do about it but your own belief has already ruled that out – ‘there is no action from the self to do something’.
RESPONDENT: Then I think there is no problem.
PETER: If you dissociate from your unwanted or undesirable feelings, and dis-identify from the ‘[Respondent]’ who occasionally gets fearful, annoyed, sad, lonely, etc. – then there is no problem.
Speaking personally, I tried the spiritual approach for some 17 years before I finally admitted the effort of trying to dissociate from my feelings of animosity and sadness had made me neither happy nor harmless. Admitting failure finally opened the way to try out something new – to head off in the opposite direction from the well-worn spiritual path.
RESPONDENT: The problem arises when the dissociation takes place and I say I AM AFRAID.
PETER: Again you are redefining the word dissociation to mean the exact opposite it is taken to mean as a psychiatric term.
RESPONDENT: That means of course that I must not name it as fear.
PETER: This seems to be common Krishnamurti moral – ‘Thou shall not name thou feelings’. You may not be aware of the fact that Richard wrote extensively on a Krishnamurti mailing list for some four years. Eventually a few Krishnamurtiites started to talk about their feelings although most were such faithful followers and had so repressed their feelings that they could not bring themselves to say words such as fear, anger and depression – let alone bring themselves to acknowledge that they had these feelings from time to time.
RESPONDENT: The word creates the dissociation, because is the I who says this is fear. Then the I is different from fear.
PETER: I am reminded of the icon that nicely sums up Eastern Religion – three monkeys sitting in a row, ‘See no evil’, ‘Hear no evil’, ‘Speak no evil’. In modern times this translates as ‘Don’t watch television’, ‘Don’t listen to common sense’ and ‘Deny your own anger and blame everyone else for the violence in the world’.
RESPONDENT: I never believed in higher selves and gods and all these nonsense. I mean I was not meaning identification with god universe etc.
PETER: And yet, by what you write, you believe every thing that that old Indian God-man, J. Krishnamurti, spoke the Truth.
Again, the ‘Book Review’ will throw more light on the subject of Guru worshipping.
RESPONDENT: I was not speaking about enlightenment. I never was able even to understand what that means. Can be any hallucination and illusion.
PETER: And yet, by what you write, you are a firm believer in the teachings of Eastern religion – the teachings which say that it is possible for a man to become God-realized, aka Enlightened, on earth before entering into Heaven, aka Nirvana. To believe in the teachings is to actively participate in the delusion.
RESPONDENT: Can you also please when you find time to tell me what is the mind? And the difference between the mind and brain?
PETER: So as not to divert from the subject at hand, might I suggest reading the ‘Introduction to Actual Freedom’ as it paints a broad picture of the human condition and explains the process of how to become free of it. You will find that it makes clear distinctions between passion and intelligence, imagination and common sense, belief and fact and meekly accepting your lot in life as opposed to doing something about it.
RESPONDENT: I should like also to tell you something that downed on me about three years ago. When I look in the out world, lets say at a tree, we usually have the impression that we see what is out there. But we will never know what is out there and if there is any out at all. What comes to my eyes is light in the retina and this is transformed into electrical signals to the brain then what I see is these electrical signals. I am not seeing what is out there (out there is only energy) but what the brain is creating. The same happens with touch smelling etc. If something happens to the brain, I will see different things than what you are seeing. So if I close my eyes I have the impression that the tree is out there green. Instead the colour is created by my brain. There is no colour out there when I don’t look at it. We create the world. Literally. So after all these we can say that there is not a seer. A smeller etc. And the question now is why after all these the concept of self still exist?
PETER: By what you write you seem to believe that the physical world does not exist – that all you see is purely your own creation, an imagination, not actual. As to why, after all this belief, ‘you’ – the small ‘s’ self or concept of self, still exist, I can only suggest that either you have doubts about your belief or that you have not gone far enough in really truly believing you are the creator of the world. In other words, you have not yet realized you are the Creator.
Personally, I would take this as a good sign in that it means that you still have some common sense operating.
RESPONDENT: Is it a habit?
PETER: No. The belief in a creator God is based on ancient fears, superstitions and fairy tales that come from a time when humans believed the world was populated by good and evil spirits, Gods and Demons.
Things have moved on somewhat since then to the stage where nowadays there are a handful of people who don’t believe this fear-ridden nonsense any more. And not only don’t they believe in the ancient fears and superstitions, they have found a down-to-earth method of eliminating malice and sorrow from their lives.
RESPONDENT: Is it because of the language that by using continuously the word I, I, I, you, you, you, that maintains this concept?
PETER: No. The instinctual survival passions give rise to a personal, separate identity that is both a thinking and a feeling identity. This identity, ‘who’ you think and feel you are, is real in that it causes all flesh and blood human bodies to not only suffer but to inflict suffering on others – the ‘fight or flight’ response in action.
RESPONDENT: I want to comment on the following subject that I think is of big value due to my personal experience. When I was 30 years about, I began so have attacks of tachycardia. Palpitations in a big rate. That was due to the fact that my diaphragm, was by nature a little bit higher in position and that, when the stomach was not empty was pressing the heart and it was beginning to have palpitations, not always but in certain positions, when I was bended for example. That fact gave me one insecurity and due to the fact that 33 years ago Corfu was not so well organised with ambulances etc made the situation even worse.
So I began to be afraid to be alone, and not only to go out alone. This was not a classic agoraphobia case, because agoraphobia is a Greek word, which means phobos of agora. Phobos=fear and agora=the market place which used to be an open place. So fear of open places. Because I was afraid in general if somebody was not with me, they call it agoraphobia because they did not found any better word. Last summer though, it came one insight to me. I said to my self, since my heart is fine and nothing physical is wrong with it, then must everything be due to the mind.
I realised that due to the fact that this palpitations condition did not happened in the last 20 years, was just a conditioned reflex, one habit formed. So I became aware that actually I was afraid of the fear. Fear of the fear. By being afraid that I might become afraid that was agoraphobia itself. I saw that being afraid that agoraphobia might take place, already this was agoraphobia, itself.
I said to my self, I must stay with the fear. Am I different from the fear that I try to control? So I took the car and I went for a round. As it was expected, due to the momentum, the fear began, but I did not try to phone for help or otherwise to interfere with it. It subside, completely, was like a miracle taking place. Not only that, but the sense of fear was begging to give its place to a joy. I stopped the pill, and after two, three more times the fear was just a memory. I tried to make him come but more I was trying to make him come more impossible that was.
Since then I am free.
My first reaction after that was that I become angry, because I did not think for that solution much earlier and not to loose so many years. This is the story, and I think can be applied to any kind of phobia. Now the thing that I cannot understand, is what had that to do with Vineeto’s answer. On the contrary what I am reporting now, must make her think better what I was trying in other emails to explain her about staying with the fact. And doing nothing about it, other wise somebody cannot see the fact is not in contact with the fact if avoids it. This way helped me also with other fearful thoughts that happen to everybody of us I guess. I don’t move, I stay with it and it fades.
PETER: I am pleased to hear that you have eliminated the fear of going out alone – to be free of a fear that had plagued you for so long must be palpably liberating. What twigged me to write was that I appreciated that you explained the course of action involved in getting yourself free of this particular feeling of fear. You were very clear that the feeling you were feeling was fear and had no trouble in labelling it as such, even to the extent of understanding that it was not a ‘classic agoraphobia’. You obviously experienced the physical symptoms of the fear when it kicked in and you had the insight that what you were afraid of was the feeling of fear itself and that this ‘fear of fear’ was making your life miserable and causing you to be unhappy and that it was high time you did something practical about trying to eliminate it.
This insight then led you to take action, get into the car alone and to experience exactly what this feeling of fear was made of. What you evidently discovered was that the feeling was only a feeling and that, in fact, nothing terrible happened to you. You then checked it out practically several more times and found yet again that nothing terrible happened to you – thereby confirming that what you had been afraid of for all those years was nothing more than a feeling. The very act of daring to do something practical to test out whether your fear was a fact, or whether it was a just a feeling, led to you becoming palpably and tangibly free of this particular fear.
I can relate to your experience because I have used this process of being aware of a feeling, being attentive of its debilitating effects in that it prevents me from enjoying this moment, or equally importantly, that ‘me’ having this feeling is impinging on someone else’s potential enjoyment of this moment, and then – most importantly – wanting to be free of it. Because of my intent to become as happy and as harmless as possible, the necessary and appropriate action I needed to take to become be free of the particular debilitating feeling gradually became obvious to me and sincerity then compelled me to take that action.
This is not passive awareness nor is it right thinking – this is taking intent-ful action for the benefit not only of this body but also for other bodies. By your own report, taking appropriate action does work – and, in my experience, making the effort to develop an on-going active attentiveness one can become incrementally free not only of fear, but of aggression as well and one can also become incrementally free of the more grievous aspects of nurture and desire in exactly the same manner – which then leaves one more free to be able crank up the felicitous feelings such as delight, friendliness, consideration, wonder, amazement, joie de vivre and so on.
It’s no wonder you felt joy at being free of this feeling of fear – any freedom gained by one’s own actions is a wonderful freedom, and more especially so because you come to experientially realize that your own freedom is in your hands and your hands alone.
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 –
RESPONDENT: Internal: Much of my entire life has been spent internally ... not apparently by choice ... but almost as if being held prisoner to desires ... aversions ... aspirations ... regrets: An inner dream-like movie was always running ... and stopped only when someone or something outside was trying to get my attention. When actualism came along ... and I first began to consider to explore and investigate this inner world of beliefs, fears, etc. ... I couldn’t seem to ... because basically I didn’t want to: it seemed to be both too much work and way too scary.
But through mustering up courage ... even quite savage like ... I began to look into quite a lot of scary topics like authority, responsibility ... both current and some experiences from childhood. I could begin to hold these thought-feelings for longer and longer ... and then go deeper with sometimes raw abandon! (boots and all!). That is when the reluctance and fear of certain topics began to fade ... and my life began to be more active ... less passive. Yes ... life as an active investigator ... explorer ... at any cost! ... No more quiet desperation ... a metaphor might be: to have been haunted and assaulted by daemons for decades in a dark cave ... and finally finding a lamp ... daring to turn it on ... and picking up a sword ... and for me the sword represents a cutting intent to not lay down again ... to engage ... to inquire ... (not to kill) ... to never be afraid again.
PETER: Yep. It seemingly does take a certain amount of courage to drop old habits and start doing something new, although for me the way I put it was that ‘I had nothing left to lose’. And, as you seem to be indicating, once you make that decision, the fear of starting – or the fear of not having yet started – is then very rapidly replaced by the thrill of the doing of it.
RESPONDENT: In regards to ASC you wrote ‘what is missing is any evidence that what is being experienced does in fact exist.’ The proof of existence is when the ASC is actively communicated to another individual. In Buddhist terms, Transmission. Spirit consciousness in relationship. I have experienced this event from both sides of the coin. No illusion. And if the experience is Real then to deny it is an expression of fear.
PETER: What you are pointing to is the fact that the psychological and psychic entity that dwells within each human flesh and blood body has three ways to experience the world – cerebrally, affectively and sensately. In the spiritual world, primary emphasis is placed on affective experience – feelings, emotions and the tender instinctual passions – while common sense thinking and actual sensate experience are actively denigrated. By solely identifying with one’s feelings and passions, a potpourri of psychological imaginations and psychic experiences are available to the spiritual seeker, the nature of which will be dependent upon the culture and religious tradition one is immersed in. These traditional psychic experiences, visions, transmissions and the like, are atavistic in nature – so ancient and so deeply ingrained as to be overwhelmingly convincing
Someone else wrote to me from the mailing list talking of psychic experiences, and I will post my reply as it relevant to your experience –
The psychic world of communication between people is a fascinating, bizarre and bewildering phenomenon that acts to bind human beings into fearful groups, forever in competition with other groups on the basis of imaginary morality of good and evil and arbitrary values of right and wrong. This form of psychic radar, communication, intuition, transmission, or whatever other name, while appearing very real to those indulging in it, is not actual.
As for ‘and if the experience is Real then to deny it is an expression of fear’ – all these experiences are indeed very real, and sometimes very Real, but they are not actual. The only thing that traps people in this psychic spiritual world is fear of their deep-seated fears. Rather than dare to explore these psychic fears and our dark side, the traditional path has been one of transcendence into the psychic world of good, God and Light.
Given that the animal survival instinct is genetically-encoded in our brain, our underlying primal emotion in any situation is fear, both psychological and psychic. The only way to eliminate fear is to investigate it experientially in order to trace its roots and understand it’s functioning. As Joseph LeDoux, a leading scientist currently mapping the instinctual functions in the human brain, says –
As can be seen, it is only by being afraid of fear that we fail to deeply investigate fear at its instinctual roots, which is why we remained trapped in our inner psychological and psychic worlds, unable to be here in the actual physical world of sensual delight.
RESPONDENT: Universal life, Oneness includes all dimensions of being, to try denying anything is to live in fear of it ... including your emotions.
PETER: I see you have reduced your position about peace on earth to a simple one-line statement. I do appreciate you clarifying your position.
By the term ‘Universal life, Oneness’ you are no doubt referring to a universal force, energy or unifying feeling – i.e. God by another name.
By the term ‘all dimensions of being’ you are no doubt referring to ‘all that is’ on the planet – including all the wars, rapes, murders, tortures, conflicts, poverty, tyranny, corruption, religious persecution, sadness, depression and suicides.
By the term ‘to try denying anything is to live in fear of it’ you are espousing the Eastern religious and philosophical view of acceptance of all that is. I don’t know if you have been to the East but this attitude of acceptance is typified by a shrug of the shoulders, a wobble of the head or a vague waving of the arms to indicate a helplessness at being able to do anything about one’s lot in life or to change anything. Acceptance runs deep in the East and includes the hapless and helpless concept of re-incarnation in an endless cycle of earthly suffering.
Your stated position about peace on earth can be summarized as – God is everything and we therefore should accept everything as it is and not try and change anything. What everyone misses when they take on Eastern belief is that this act of acceptance of the way things are includes denying that we humans are able do anything to change the way things are.
Acceptance always comes hand in glove with denial of the possibility of changing the way things are.
And as you said – ‘to try denying anything is to live in fear of it’. The fear of change runs deep in humans particularly when it involves radical and fundamental change. To accept all the wars, rapes, murders, tortures, conflicts, poverty, tyranny, corruption, religious persecution, sadness, depression and suicides as simply the way things are and thus deny the possibility that peace on earth is possible is a deeply cynical outlook on life.
A constant theme in your posts is your use of the statement that to ‘deny anything is to live in fear of it’. What got me off my bum and my head out of the clouds was that I stopped denying the fact that I was as mad and as bad as everyone else on the planet.
By taking this fully on board it became glaringly obvious to me that only a complete, utter and radical change would bring me peace on earth in this lifetime and the only thing stopping me was fear. And, as you know, complete utter and radical change is ‘self’-immolation and not the usual finding solace and succour in religious belief and spiritual experiences.
It’s enough to put the wind up anyone, really, but the rewards are commensurate with the fear faced, for actual peace on earth lies beyond psychological and psychic death.
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.’
No, the ‘offering’ is 180 degrees different to the spiritual.
The point of the spiritual question is to create a watcher, a spiritual identity who watches and is ‘unattached’ to the instinctually based feelings, emotions and driven behaviour. This watcher identity then ‘transcends’ the mortal flesh and blood human animal to become the immortal, divine soul (spirit, essence, atman, bundle of memories ..) and eventually, given sufficient delusion, one realises one’s destiny – to become God, or at One...
Because actual freedom lies diametrically opposite to the divine – it is down-to-earth, palpable, tangible, sensate, sensual, sensible, apparent, direct and ever-present in this very moment, in this very space – it is available to anyone and everyone. But it is not something that one ‘clips on’ to the spiritual, and that’s the rub for most people who fervently cling to their spiritual beliefs despite its failures and abysmal record in bringing anything even remotely resembling peace to this paradisiacal planet after thousands of years and billions of loving devotees.
And yet we dare not question the teachings for they are Sacred ... the very love, devotion and surrender demanded is the direct cause of the anger, resentment and hostility at those who dare to question – hence all the wars, tortures, repression, hostility, violence and animosity that exists between all followers of different Masters for millennia.
Now, to even acknowledge that in one’s ‘self’ could well be the beginning – a crack in the door – to questioning what is the most enormous ‘con’ in history.
I know how scary, and frightening, an activity daring to question to Teachings and the Teachers can be. Not only ones personal fears but some real consequences have to be faced – for me it was alienation and ostracism by former ‘friends’, no longer having the feelings of security and comfort that comes from belonging to a group, and losing the financial security that having the group as architectural clients offered.
There are also the atavistic fears, such that one feels one will incur the ‘wrath’ of the God’s, that you will be sent to hell, that the club of the Divine Ones will organize a personal and horrendously painful exorcism on me.
While the fears are real they eventually proved to be as illusory as the belief in God was. It is all just a fantasy played out in the head and the heart, but these fears have doomed humanity to the institutionalised insanity of religious and spiritual pursuits.
It would all be a joke of course, except for all the actual wars, rapes, tortures, suicides, loneliness, depression and sorrow in the world perpetuated by this fantasy of the head and heart.
The not insignificant side benefit of Actual Freedom, is that one becomes happy and harmless and thus ceases to be a contributor to the endemic malice and sorrow on the planet.
Still it’s early days ... or early centuries, but a start is being made on calling the bluff and bluster of the Gurus, and to writing of a third alternative to being normal or spiritual, mortal animal or immortal Divine.
Peter’s & Richard’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.