Selected Correspondence Peter
How to Become Free from the Human Condition
RESPONDENT: I would like to ask Peter and Vineeto to write about some difficulties they found in this part when they practised this method initially.
PETER: Although I will answer your questions I suggest that it would be best to read what I have written previously when I was in the throws of making these investigations as what I wrote then was more pertinent in that it was written closer to the events.
RESPONDENT: What does one do when one feels bad?
PETER: Get back to feeling good as soon as possible as nothing good that can be said about feeling bad – and I say this despite the fact that many people laud the bitter-sweet feeling of sorrow.
RESPONDENT: How much of study is required?
PETER: None at all if one realizes that nothing good can be said about feeling bad.
Having said that, it is generally not that easy because not only is feeling good disparaged within the human condition – the ultimate Catch-22 put-down being that feeling good about being here means that one is uncaring or even callous because one is not feeling bad for those who are feeling bad – it is also the default instinctual condition given that the prime instinctual passions are those of fear, aggression, nurture and desire, all of which contribute to ‘feeling bad’.
RESPONDENT: Just the right amount to get back into feeling happy and harmless once again?
PETER: Yes – with the proviso that if one finds oneself repeatedly feeling bad when a similar event happen or in similar circumstances then it obviously makes good sense to get to the bottom of why it keeps happening so as to not have feeling bad happen again when a similar event happens or in similar circumstances.
RESPONDENT: If one has 100% intent can one just look at the feeling and get back to being happy and harmless instantaneously?
PETER: Yes – with the proviso that this is often difficult to do initially as one discovers that one has had a life-long habit of being angry – of holding a grudge against someone, of feeling righteous about something or another, of blaming others for doing something or of not doing something that I believe they should be doing or not be doing and so on – or of feeling sad about my lot in life, of being envious of others, of feeling resentful of others, of feeling as though I don’t belong and so on.
RESPONDENT: Is the amount of work that is needed inversely proportional to the amount of pure intent to be happy and harmless?
PETER: Does it not make sense that unless one has a 100% intent to do something then one will never be successful in doing what it is that one wants to do?
RESPONDENT: And is it inversely proportional to one’s grip on the method?
PETER: As for ‘one’s grip one the method’, the main difficulty with the method is its simplicity and straightforwardness – denial and obscuration being the main tricks a social/ instinctual identity employs in order to evade exposure. The good thing is that attentiveness combined with sincere intent allows you to understand and experience this aspect of the human condition in action and thus prevent it from getting in the way of your being happy and harmless.
RESPONDENT: When I look into the feeling – there is the cause of the feeling and there is the effect of the feeling and there is no clear boundary in between ... at least in the beginning.
PETER: It’s good to keep in mind that many a person is in prison solely because of the effects of a feeling, be it anger, jealousy, envy, resentment, greed and so on. They are locked up away from mainstream society for many and varying reasons of course and the courts by and large take note of the varying causes in order to determine what are called mitigating circumstances but by-and-large they are there because of the effect of a feeling.
RESPONDENT: The effect (the expression and evolution) of the feeling dominates the cause. One may feel irritated because his boss said something about him and might discharge that irritation on his child’s undone homework thinking that it is the cause. I guess more attentiveness reveals the actual cause. But is there always a cause? How about when one deals with instincts? Is there a cause or trigger?
PETER: Given that I have written millions of words on this subject I am reluctant to track over it again … other than to say that if you are being attentive of the consequences your feeling irritated has on your own wellbeing and on the wellbeing of those upon whom you inflict your irritation and this is not enough of an incentive to stop feeling irritated, then no amount of musing about cause and effect will help.
I am reminded of those who argue about the possible link between violent videos and violence and whether or not one is the cause of the other, all the while blithely ignoring the fact that both are expressions of violence and that violence is and always has been endemic to human nature. The current popular argument is about the ‘causes’ of terrorism, a by and large diversionary argument that completely avoids the fact that such acts of senseless anarchical violence are part and parcel of the human condition and always have been part and parcel of the human condition.
I am in no way discouraging you from doing all you can about eliminating malice and sorrow from your life – it is the very best practical contribution that one can make towards ending all the wars, rapes, murders, child abuse, conflicts, despair and suicides that plague humanity – but when all is said, and all is done, an actual freedom is only to be had by stepping out of the real world and into the actual world.
RESPONDENT: It looks like there are different modes of me ... sometimes I find that the ‘me’ is not willing to investigate or it is doing a fake job. My question is that can the ‘me’ ever have a goal to be happy and harmless...? It seems to have its own agenda. The present person that is typing this mail doesn’t have any agenda but clearly acknowledge that happy and harmless is a sensible goal to have. But then when there is this inner ‘me’ (a different mode) starts working, it is either spoiling the moment in its worst and in its best, it is trying to conflict with itself in the name of actualism ... distorting everything and just mechanically fighting with its own projection. Was this ever your experience? Vineeto said once (in a mail to No 60?) that she integrated different parts of her ‘self’ in the very beginning.
IOW. can the ‘me’ have a clear purpose of becoming happy and harmless? Or it will be always a lip service and there is some other part of oneself which becomes manifest when the ‘me’ (feeling part) becomes minimized that has to go about it?
PETER: My immediate response would be … what better purpose in life but to find the meaning of life?
You might have noticed that I recently had a conversation with No 86 about the fact that by about my mid-twenties I discovered that for me the meaning to life was not to be had in materialism. Finding no meaning there, I was ripe for searching for the meaning of life in spiritualism and after a long and in-depth investigation I eventually found not meaning but non-sense. Then, as you know, I serendipitously came across actualism, which offers a third alternate to both materialism and spiritualism.
I have no idea what your aspirations in life are, let alone your life experiences but what you want to do with your life is ultimately your own decision. I have often looked at others and been amazed at what they choose to do with their lives – for instance I have always been impressed with the single-mindedness and dedication of medical researchers who literally devote their lives to finding a way of eradicating one particular disease from the many that cause illness or even death to the human body. Whilst I admire such endeavours, I never had the interest to do such things.
My interest has always laid in the reasons for the persistent inability of human beings to live together in peace and harmony and it would seem in hindsight that this abiding interest meant that I could not ignore the intrinsic challenge that is at the core of actualism – can I prove by living example that it is possible, in the world as-it-is with people as-they-are, to live with my fellow human beings in utter peace and harmony?
Needless to say the first step I had to take was to get my head out of the clouds and start to become aware of the world as-it-is and people as-they-are … in order to gather sufficient motivation to begin to become aware of ‘me’ as-I-am. The reason I am saying this is that I recently had a conversation with a woman who is just beginning to pay attention to many of the feelings and emotions that she had in the past either glossed over, denied, suppressed, detached from, dis-identified from or attempted to transcend. She was starting to come across some very unpleasant things to say the least but – for whatever reason – she does seem to have both the motivation and the determination needed to push on.
I do realize that I haven’t answered the specific question you raised simply because it is a question that only you can answer. I remember realizing at some stage that nobody can make me happy and harmless – only I can do that. Curiously with this realization came the requisite impetus to really stand on my own two feet for the first time in my life. As I thought about the fact that my happiness and my being harmless is totally in my hands alone I came to understand that this also meant that nobody could make me unhappy or antagonistic – only I can do that.
These series of realizations led on to one of the essential things that I needed to fully understand – that the only person I need to change is me. And when I say fully understand I don’t mean an intellectual understanding, nor do I mean change as in turning away from the world and adopting a cynical attitude to life or cultivating a spiritual goody-two-shoes persona – I mean radically changing as in setting about eradicating ‘I’ as ego as well as ‘me’ as soul.
PETER: As I said in my journal, I found Richard’s Journal to be a priceless guide to freedom. Evidently I said after first reading it that it was the last book I needed to read! I ended up reading it dozens of times as the first reading was so overwhelming that it is impossible to take it all in – so shocking would be consequences if one could.
I found I would take it a bit at a time and use it as a touchstone to begin musing and contemplating a particular issue I was grappling with. To merely skim the surface is to miss the point – I found the deeper I delved the more insights and realisations I had and the changes which at first were merely intellectual eventually became experiential. In other words, the complete elimination of a dearly held belief of mine meant the actual elimination of that ‘bit’ of me, a step by step path to freedom. If done with intent and honesty the process is at first quite scary, fearful and can be accompanied by a few wobbles. But it soon becomes thrilling and eventually a total obsession and then your cruising. So good luck ... Hope this is useful.
RESPONDENT: I’ve had the ‘PCEs’ Richard describes. Quite a few of them actually, this past year especially. Have seen in them that, in spite of what I usually believe, there is nothing to fear in the universe, that it is utterly and completely friendly, including death. And I have also recently realized that the only place in the world where there is cruelty – fear – and sadness is within myself. But I have a lot of both, especially the sadness. They are what got me looking.
Is there something else to be done besides pay attention to them? How is this identity dismantled?
PETER: In my experience, becoming curious, will lead to fascination, will lead to obsession, will be aided by serendipitous discoveries, will lead to the systematic dismantling to such an extent that one day the whole lot will collapse like a pack of cards. At the moment with me the whole lot is trembling and shaking. ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ is a far bigger and far more challenging question than ‘Why am ‘I’ here?’ or ‘What happens after death?’
RESPONDENT: And cheers to you. Thanks for the note. I was laughing out loud as I read down through it. Look, I can occasionally be open minded, not often, it usually takes pain, but I’m fortunate to have some, so maybe I’m willing. I need something along the lines of a direct demonstration of what you guys are talking about. Not theory. Something a scientist can relate to. Can we do an experiment? I’ll be a fully willing lab rat, try the medicine myself and share the results. I’ve done experiments with myself before. This can be another. But I’m an ignorant lab rat and I need instructions, preferably from the doctor who knows about the medicine, to help design the experiment, because I don’t know about this medicine. Is it possible for you to show me an example of this medicine you are talking about, so I can see how it works for myself and make it into something I don’t have to believe in?
I think we should take this slowly enough to make it quite clear, if this is possible.
PETER: Well you are interested in an experiment on yourself. I find it a bit strange as so far you all you seem to be doing is objecting to the diagnosis as to what is wrong, sing the praises of the existing remedies despite their failures or deny that there is even a problem in the first place. Richard has about 300,000 words on his web-site and rising daily, Vineeto and I deliberately wrote our ‘case studies’ of the down-to-earth applications, Alan is writing of his process and you are asking what to do. I find it harder to make it more clear but then again that is a little something to do each time I write. I can’t do more than that – it’s your disease and you get to be the doctor. That’s the way it is when you stop believing in Gods or following Gurus. You get all of the fun and end up beholden to no-one, i.e. FREE. Nobody can clean you up but you. All I can say is, in my experience it works.
I’m reminded of the lid of the Cabot’s paint tins which has a note that says ‘if all else fails read the instructions’. Maybe read some of the writings again and rather than try and pick fault, see if any things make sense to you and try starting there. You may already have an idea of what you would like to be free of in your life.
RESPONDENT: Just meandering through the archives and happened upon your Feb 05, 2000 book review of ‘In Each Moment – A new way to live’ by Paul Lowe. Looking Glass Press. 1998 (No15)
I’m not one for books of Revelation either, nor doom and gloom, but any child these days knows that the physical, material world in which we are living is collapsing because of mankind’s lack of consideration for the environment. Are you sure that you yourself are not imagining that Paul so definitely divides the human condition from the devastating state nature is now in? Sure, he gives our beliefs way too much credit, but could radical actualism go the same route and go into denial about the very real effects man’s imagining brain is capable of.
PETER: Children don’t ‘know’ this from some innate sense of wisdom or foresight born of innocence – they have it drilled and drummed into them by teachers, media, parents etc. In the last few decades environmental studies have formed an essential part of all school curricula for all ages. Not only is it often taught as a separate subject in many cases, environmental issues dominate economics, science, politics, engineering, social sciences, entertainment, media, etc. Every child who receives a modern Western education is taught from a very early age that the material, physical world in which they live is either collapsing or is in imminent danger of collapsing and that human beings are at fault. My school days were in the late 50’s and early 60’s and environmental theory hadn’t been invented then. The major fear at that time was the Cold War and the threat of nuclear devastation, but doom and gloom predictions weren’t taught as part of the school curriculum as is case with the teachings of environmental doom and gloom.
What children know is what children are taught. Thus what we think we know or take for granted is, almost without exception, what we have been taught by our parents, teachers and peers. We take this information to be true, as in factual, whereas an extraordinary amount of it is theory, fashion, belief, concept, current idea, old wives tales, psittacisms, prejudiced view, etc. One only needs to consider what the school curriculum would have been like a century ago and consider how much of it would be relevant today, how much our world view has changed and yet how much of the past we desperately cling to. However, what we have been taught as truisms forms the very substance of our social identity – ‘who’ we think we are. One’s social identity is the conglomerate of all the beliefs, morals, ethics, values, principles and psittacisms that each of us has been programmed with since birth.
Unless this programming in the brain is questioned and sorted into silly and sensible and old redundant neural connections severed and new ones formed, one remains a victim of one’s social identity – whereas an actualist’s avowed aim is freedom from being this identity that has been imposed upon this flesh and blood body. Therefore it is vital that all one’s beliefs, morals, ethics, principles and psittacisms be questioned and reviewed.
This is the practical business of an actualist, this is the very down-to-earth pragmatic work to be done. It is an uncomfortable, tedious, seemingly-pedantic, fear-provoking process that people are very reluctant to undertake for you are quite literally dismantling a very large part of your ‘self’. Most of this information is programmed into us at the early years but quite a lot of what we hold dearest is what we have adopted later in life as we ‘moved with the times’. Environmental belief and Eastern religious belief were two that I adopted later in my life, and as such, I found them relatively easier to question for they were a bit like the layers of clothing I had swapped during my adult life as fashions and times changed.
So, the first thing to be aware of is that you are doing the very business of dismantling your social identity by questioning and challenging your dearly held beliefs. The second thing is that they don’t magically disappear by themselves. It requires stubborn effort to dig in and question and you will find much resistance, wariness, hesitancy and objection in yourself to devoting the necessary time and effort required. The third thing is that it is something you have to do yourself to the point that the ‘penny drops’ for you, otherwise you are back with simply swapping beliefs or adopting another belief – a useless enterprise that will do nothing to free you from the human condition.
Actualism is not a philosophy – it is a down-to-earth practical method that can enable you to become free from the human condition.
PETER: Excerpt from book review cont. –
But it’s gone beyond theory now and into actuality? The proof of our misuse of thought is collapsing this very environment and the physical actuality of that, confronts us everyday. Mankind’s erroneous theories have bolted and cannot be contained by merely shutting the gate afterwards, and haughtily looking down our actual nose at mankind’s silly imaginings. The imagination is a force to be reckoned with, it can manoeuvre arms and legs into all sorts of mischief. It has wrought life threatening havoc on this planet!
PETER: Okay, before I get into detail, it may be useful to look at how it is possible to ascertain what is fact and what is theory, postulation, concept, commonly agreed, belief, assumption, psittacism, speculation, feeling, intuition, imagination, myth, wisdom, real or true.
The first step would be to at least entertain the idea that the notion you have about something may not be factually correct. It would be good to put one’s real-world and spiritual-world cynicism aside and crank up a bit of naïve curiosity at this stage, even if you have to pretend an innocence, a not knowing when you ‘really do know’... To do so would be a blow to one’s pride and the way I dealt with that was to turn it on its head and say that I would be really silly to continue believing something that was not factual. The next obstacle is the moral and ethical stance I have – if I think it is ‘right’ or ‘good’ to believe this particular issue then I will not even bother to investigate it. Again, I refused to let arbitrary moral or ethical judgements stand in the way of wanting to know the facts for that would be silly and beneath my dignity as a supposedly intelligent, supposedly autonomous, supposedly free human being.
So, you crank up a bit of naïve curiosity, clear the decks of pride, morals and ethics and you are ready to take a clear-eyed look at the particular issue. I can offer a few clues as to ascertaining facts based on my experience which may be useful. This is bound to end up a long post but you seem to be a reader which is a very good thing for someone interested in an actualism. I am putting in words a process I have done so many times it has become automatic, so it is best to regard this as a schematic outline rather than a fixed approach. But I do see a few elements common to any investigation –
So, taking a deep breath, we plunge into Environmentalism, using the above outline as a touchstone. I’ll try and keep on track but, in fact, all these elements tend to overlap, as one makes an investigation into a particular issue that may run from hours to weeks to months, or even years in some cases.
PETER: By reading in this fashion you run the risk of losing sight of the fact that Richard’s writings always describe actuality and always point to the bigger picture – the greatest challenge facing all human beings, actualizing peace on earth.
RESPONDENT: I agree with this statement as well – I am willing to disregard semantics, except when it interferes with understanding, and I see my concerns regarding semantics have been unconvincing – no problem.
PETER: As I said, my use of the word semantics was inappropriate, but I take your point.
RESPONDENT: I’m quite willing to get back to the main event ... actualizing peace on earth :o)
PETER: If I can just reiterate that I am not stymieing objections, doubts or questions – far from it. What I am saying is to be wary of not losing sight of the bigger picture on offer whilst making your investigations. The way to stay focussed is to have an aim or purpose to one’s investigations and for an actualist this aim is to become unconditionally happy and unconditionally harmless.
I used to spend days, weeks or months nutting out some particular issue or other until the ‘Ah! Yes’ clicked in and the issue was resolved such that it didn’t come back any more. Once I had an issue running I would not let up until it was resolved completely, not only intellectually but also experientially. I did this by becoming attentive to my emotional reactions to the issue – be they annoyance, frustration, angst, sorrow, indifference, apathy, acceptance, or whatever. This attentiveness inexorably led to an in-depth investigation and exposure of my precious morals, ethics, opinions and beliefs contiguous to the issue – which then allowed me to become aware of the animal instinctual passions that lay in stealth beneath my ‘self’-serving veneer of ‘goodness’.
When I finally came to clearly understand the facts of a particular issue – both intellectually and experientially – my normal ‘self’-centred reactions, objections, worries, feelings and passions about the issue disappeared such that I was more able to be happy and harmless more of the time – which in turn meant that I had more time to be more able to appreciate and savour the delights of being here in the world as-it-is with people as they are.
RESPONDENT: A quick note on an experience I had the other night... I was experiencing some anxiousness about the ‘meaning of life’ and noticed that much of my thoughts revolve around searching for an enduring value or figuring out whether my life has had enough enjoyment – wondering how I would evaluate my life if I were lying on my death bed... when I realized how silly the whole thing was ... why would I spend my final moments reminiscing about the past – which is not even present anyway?
PETER: I am always somewhat surprised that so few people seem to stop to spend the time to do a bit of stocktaking and re-evaluating as to what they have done and where they are headed. Many of my generation had both the opportunity and time to think about the ‘meaning of life’ and many indeed did begin searching for something better than grim reality and something less shonky and self-indulgent than Olde Time Religion. <snip>
And I can only say this because I too went down that path for a good many years. And the only reason I stopped being a follower and a believer was that I took the time to do some stocktaking and re-evaluating of my life – and I didn’t like what I saw so I determined to change. Better to make such evaluations now – even if it involves contemplating lying on your deathbed – and make the necessary changes now rather than end up dying in sad regret of never having fully lived.
RESPONDENT: Yes, it seems that ‘stocktaking’ is essential for change to take place.
PETER: And in order for any stocktaking to take place, one needs firstly to be sufficiently discontent with one’s own stock in life.
RESPONDENT: It was strange to recognize that I often spend my time looking for some narrative that ties ‘my’ life together into some meaningful narrative, and I realized that this sort of enterprise is one of the hopeless things that ‘I’ do, since the ‘meaning’ of my life depends upon some interpretation of the events of my life.
PETER: Who else but you is going to interpret the events of your life and who else but you is going to determine what meaning it should have? There is no one better qualified, or more vitally interested, than you to decide what to do with your life. I know, for me, it was glaringly obvious that if I wanted to become free of the human condition in toto, then the doing of it was up to ‘me’.
RESPONDENT: There is no one better qualified for the job than ‘me.’ On the other hand, insofar as the narrative ‘I’ construct depends upon beliefs and hopes for the future – it is always in question – not certain – thus, not entirely reliable.
PETER: Given that the ‘narrative ‘I’ construct’ is in fact the life you are leading now, the question remains – what do you want to do with the rest of your life. I know when I came across actualism I had little trouble in reliably assessing that I was far from being free of malice and sorrow and as such the challenge implicit in actualism to devote my life to becoming actually happy and harmless proved irresistible.
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.
RESPONDENT: There is a point, spot, place – whatever you want to call it where ‘effortless’ is the modus operandi – it seems that mental effort automatically implies a division we experience as ‘self’ – it seems the trick is finding that place where everything happens effortlessly. Effortlessness must be a sign of ‘apperception?’
PETER: Taking into consideration that you said previously – ‘occasionally, I will have some very successful days where things are getting clearer’, I suggest that it might be useful to reflect as to whether this increased clarity came about from effortlessness or from thinking – utilizing the brains capacity for attentiveness, sensual perception, sensible evaluation and contemplative reflection. I only say this because it is fashionable in many circles to denigrate the astounding ability of the human animal to be able to think and reflect and to venerate all sorts of affective experiences and imagination. Perhaps I can put it this way – when I ask myself ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ I am asking a question and to come up with an answer requires thinking, aka mental effort.
When you say ‘it seems the trick is finding that place where everything happens effortlessly’, I assume from the thread of this conversation that you are talking about getting to the stage where the actualism method is happening effortlessly – an effortless constant sensual attentiveness as to how you are experiencing this moment of being alive. If this assumption is right then I would point out that you have previously said –
If I take your words at face value, they confirm my own experience that it takes determination, i.e.
to eventually get to the stage where a sensual attentiveness becomes effortless. In short, getting from the stage of being interested in actualism to the stage where the process is operating automatically and effortlessly requires effort – there is no other trick to it.
If I can refer to a recent comment No 62 made on the list – if you want to become actually free of malice and sorrow, nobody ‘pushes’ but you, nobody does it for you, nobody can do it for you, and it needs not only to be on your agenda but it needs to be number one on your agenda.
And isn’t it great to find out these things for yourself – to discover that your own freedom is exclusively in your own hands.
Given that have said you welcome feedback, I’ll just round off with a comment on – ‘it seems that mental effort automatically implies a division we experience as ‘self’’. If I read you right, this supposition seems to be a hangover from Eastern religious belief wherein the ‘self’ is believed to be a thinking-self or ego-self only and a spurious feeling of freedom is gained by abandoning common sense thinking in an attempt to become a feeling-self only.
As you know by now this is old archaic thinking – superstition based on ignorance of fact and empirical observation. To suppose that one can become free of being a psychological and psychic ‘self’ without ‘mental effort’ does not make sense. After all, ‘who’ you think you are is the result of thousands of years of cultural and social programming and ‘who’ you feel you are is the end result of billions of years of the genetically-sequenced struggle for survival of life on this planet. To become free of all of this programming in order for intelligence to be freed from these brutish instinctual passions is no easy task – to abandon thinking in favour of feeling is to forsake this task in favour of ‘self’-preservation.
Having said that I can relate to what you are saying as I remember my early days of actualism when I thought that when I was feeling good or feeling excellent then I was ‘being here’ but when I was feeling angry, annoyed, frustrated, worried, sad or so on then I was ‘not being here’. As I began my investigations and ponderings about the nature of the human condition, I also thought I was not ‘being here’ if I was busy nutting out some issue or other, i.e. if I was busy thinking rather than sensately experiencing this moment of being alive.
This idea of mine eventually lost credence as I started to become fascinated with, and subsequently began to enjoy, the process of thinking about the human condition and investigating how my psyche was programmed to function. The realization that really blew it out of the water, however, was the experiential realization in a PCE that it is always now and I am always here – I can never be anywhere else but here and I can never actually experience anytime other than now. It follows that if I am busy thinking now then that is what I am doing now, exactly as I am thinking now while typing these words and exactly as you are thinking now reading these words. This leads to the fact that I am often thinking – not always obviously – but to think that I am not here because I am thinking makes no sense at all.
What I am saying can be confirmed by observation of what is happening whilst in a pure consciousness experience. In this temporary experience of ‘self’-defection the ability to think and reflect is neither absent nor is it inflamed by passion and imagination. In a PCE the ability to think and reflect is unfettered by beliefs, morals and ethics and is freed from both the savage and tender survival passions. A PCE confirms that who ‘I’ think and feel I am is a chimera, an illusion, someone and something that has no substance, someone and something that is not material, not flesh and blood. Who ‘I’ think and feel I am is not actual like the ‘stuff’ of the universe – be it the vacuum of the spaces between the swirls and lumps of matter in the infinitude of the universe or the play of the clouds across this earthly sky, the air that touches your skin, the warmth of the sun, the scent of a flower, the plastic of a computer keyboard or these fingers typing these words.
In a PCE, I experience the actuality of all of this matter. In a PCE, I experience an actual world, existing in fact, sensately experienced as being so alive, so vibrant and so immediate that my identity as a ‘being’ temporarily disappears. With ‘me’ no longer here to rule the roost, as it where, a palpable freedom exists for I experience what I actually am for a period of time – a mortal flesh and blood human being, bristling with sense organs, able to think, reflect, contemplate and communicate as well as being able to be aware that I am aware. In fact, what I am is the very ‘stuff’ of this universe temporarily formed as this flesh and blood body and capable of being aware of this awareness. Or to put it as Richard puts it – ‘what I am is this universe experiencing itself as a flesh and blood human being’.
In a PCE – provided you resists the atavistic temptation to start swooning in rapture at the beauty of it all or indulging in ‘self’-aggrandizing fantasies (or else it deteriorates into an ASC) – you can readily discern that the only reason you are experiencing the sensual delight and utter peacefulness of the actual world is because ‘you’ have temporarily left the stage. From this experiential realization a pure intent can arise to devote one’s life to the task of becoming happy and harmless – to actively dismantle my ‘self’, to dare to question the veracity of ‘my’ precious beliefs, to want to really come to understand both the nature and the source of the peripheral feelings of ‘self’ and sense of ‘being’ and to not stop until the process is finished and the very source of ‘me’, ‘me’ as a feeling ‘being’, is permanently eliminated, expunged.
Then, when the PCE wanes and you return to being ‘normal’ again, back in normal everyday reality, ‘you’ find yourself with something to do. ‘You’ then have a reason for being, a life goal, a task, a job, and a fascinating one at that. And I can vouch that there is no more fascinating and rewarding thing you can do with your life than to devote your life to the task of becoming happy and harmless for this is the path to actual freedom.
RESPONDENT: Maybe a little clarification can help here. I’m certainly not saying that one could do the actualism method ‘effortlessly’ or that it doesn’t take effort. More specifically, my observation is about seeing how the emotional effort of belief, hope, trust, etc creates a division where ‘I’ identify with the ‘good’ and try to ignore the ‘bad.’ This kind of mental effort is normally an indication that ‘I’ am hanging on to a wish, dream, hope, or self-image.
PETER: Whereas it is my experience, and the experience of all of the practicing actualists on this list, that it takes stubborn effort – and a certain amount of intestinal fortitude – firstly to become aware of, and secondly to abandon all of the beliefs, hopes, dreams, wishes, morals and ethics that make up ‘me’. This programming does not take effort to sustain, it is ‘self’-sustaining by its very nature. This programming is ‘who’ I think and feel I am and as such it obviously it takes effort to remove.
This programming doesn’t create a division – such that when it is removed I feel union – this programming is the very substance of ‘me’. Only when this programming is incrementally removed does one realize the penalty one paid for being a believer – provided one is sincere in one’s efforts what results is an incremental and tangible down-to-earth freedom, not a feeling of union.
PETER to No 95: I see that you are currently having a conversation with Richard about nature vs. nurture. I find it curious that you have yet to say where you stand on the subject as to whether the instinctual passions are at core genetically-encoded or whether they are the result of an imperfect nurturing process.
I remember when I first came across the radical proposition that each and every human being born was pre-primed with the instinctual passions – chiefly those of fear, aggression, nurture and desire – I questioned whether or not this was a fact in my own experience. I remember very carefully and quite deliberately running through a checklist as it were of items making evaluations based solely on my experience and my own observations, the purpose being to put either a tick in the box, or a cross in the box. Whenever I was undecided I either went looking for more information or, better still, dug deeper into myself in order discover the source and the nature of the instinctual passions.
Some of the items I recall from my checklist –
This list is by no means exhaustive, but I well remember that the whole question of whether or not the instinctual passions were indeed genetically-encoded by blind nature was crucial to my really beginning to question the ancient yet still prevalent religious/ spiritual notions of the causes of evil in human beings. It was also pivotal in my realizing that, given Richard’s experience that these passions are ‘software’ as opposed to being hardwired, I too had the opportunity to become free of the human condition in toto, should I so desire.
My suggestion is that, provided you are old enough to have experienced puberty, you too have sufficient life experience to be able to make up your own mind on this issue based on your own experience of how ‘you’ yourself tick and your own observations of other animals, be they non-sentient or sentient, rather than having a subjective opinion one way or the other based solely on what others believe to be true or false.
RESPONDENT: And I still don’t think you have made it clear what doing everything you can to become free means. I was making the point earlier that being attentive to what is going on in me brings me to my senses, rather than ‘me’ getting back to being happy and harmless the state occurred much the way you say in your building analogy below though you seem to be saying that that is the second stage.
PETER: And yet what I said in my analogy was that I spent –
I notice that you have taken up the topic of effort with Richard to the point of asking him what I mean by what I say. All I am saying is that in my experience and in the experience of others that I have had the opportunity to directly observe and converse with or read reports of their experience, it takes effort to firstly understand what an actual freedom from the human condition is and what the method to become free involves, secondly that it takes effort to get an unbiased attentiveness up and running such that it becomes effortless, and thirdly that it takes effort to root out and clearly understand the reasons for not being happy and harmless in this moment such that you don’t ever fall into the same trap again in a similar circumstances.
That effort is needed in the first two cases is obvious to me, as I think it may be becoming obvious to you – it was quite natural that at first I misunderstood actualism to be another version of spiritualism and an actual freedom to be equivalent to a spiritual freedom and attentiveness to be synonymous with spiritual awareness for the simple reason that up until now there was only the either/or paradigms of materialism and/or spiritualism on offer.
If I take your current line of questioning to this list at face value, is this not also your experience – that it takes a good deal of effort firstly to understand what is on offer here and secondly to garner the genuine intent needed to be a pioneer in this business?
RESPONDENT: I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the psychological and emotional structure of ‘me’. I’ve never been a community minded person, always regarded nationalism, racism, religious affiliations etc as glorified tribalism (at best a joke, at worst, the cause of unspeakable suffering in the world). I thought I was immune to all of that crap. But just lately I’ve realised (with some surprise) that another kind of tribe (the family) is deeply embedded in me. For the last few weeks I’ve been trying to dissolve these webs of entanglement in my mind and emotions. Not walking out on the family, not abandoning friends, but refusing to carry them around with me, refusing to define myself (or others) in terms of our special relationships based on kinship or shared experiences. I’ve never thought of myself as a possessive or clannish person by nature, but it’s all there. This psychic network of family relationships and friendships is a large part of ‘me’.
PETER: What you write of reminds me of the time I first really became aware of not being free. I had been on the spiritual path for years but when my teenage son died I experienced that I was ‘bound’, as though I had invisible bands around my chest that I needed to break free of. Having someone so young die seemed such a waste, which made me realize that I also was wasting my life unless I became free of these bands before I died. It was then that I became really serious, as in sincere, about my spiritual search but all I found was that I had been gullible in that I had been suckered into being a religious fanatic, albeit Eastern religion instead of Western religion.
After I ditched the spiritual path, I have since done a good deal of practical work in dismantling my social identity – my identity as a father, a lover, a provider, a rational-thinking male, a SNAG, a WASP, a socialist, a pacifist, a creative person, a patriotic Australian, and so on. It’s a big list to go through because I wanted to get rid of – or at least reduce to the most miniscule that ‘I’ possibly could – the affective parts of my social identity such that I could be happy and harmless whilst in the company of my fellow human beings. And if I wasn’t, then I had something to look at, for I then knew that some bit or other of my social identity needed to be discarded.
About 3 years ago I was sitting on a grassy bank near where I live, looking out over the sea early one morning when I had an experience that was somewhat similar to that which I had had all those years before when I stood beside my son’s coffin. This time I experienced that the reason that I was not free was because I was tethered by long tentacles attached to my back, which trailed off into the distance behind me. I remember thinking at the time that these tentacles or strings are what attaches me to Humanity – to no one in particular, but to Humanity itself.
In hindsight – and I am only now trying to make sense of it in order to pass on some information that may be of some use to you – it could be said that the last years of the work I have done in dismantling my social identity has meant that the feeling of not being free has somewhat changed. The feeling of being bound around the chest could be said to be the obvious feeling of being bound and restrained by the rules of society – a feeling that has given rise to the commonly-held feeling that ‘if only I can break free of my social conditioning then ‘I’ am free’.
By the stage of my second experience of not being free I had by-and-large demolished my social conditioning – including the spiritual conditioning that insists that to become free of social conditioning is the meaning of life – which meant I was then able to experience that there is in fact another layer beneath one’s social conditioning that one needs to become free of, and that is the human condition itself. My experience of being tethered to Humanity made it clear that I would not be actually free whilst these invisible emotional tentacles – as in psychic ties – remained.
It also occurred to me at the time that ‘I’ only exist whilst these tentacles exist and if these tentacles disappeared then ‘I’ would cease to exist … because ‘I’, as an affective non-physical being, only exist as a member of an affective ‘big club’ we call Humanity, a ‘club’ that has no existence in actuality. The feeling I had was that if ‘I’ disappeared no-one would mourn ‘my’ passing because no-one would even know ‘I’ had died as ‘I’ have no existence as an actuality.
Again with the hindsight of my own experience, the reason I needed to do the necessary work to become free of my social conditioning – including my spiritual conditioning which was part and parcel of this conditioning – is that I was then able to become virtually free of malice and sorrow. I was then able to clearly see, and experience, that it is the human condition itself that I need to be free of in order that I become actually free of malice and sorrow.
RESPONDENT: The results of trying to dissolve all of this have been mixed.
Occasionally it feels liberating. Occasionally there’s a sense of guilt associated with disloyalty (and all the rest of the psychological and emotional baggage that goes with it).
PETER: I remember trying to tip-toe my way through the minefield of morals and ethics until I found I had to take a good look at whether they were sensible or not, i.e. whether or not they worked in practice. For example, as children we are told by our parents and teachers not to get angry and not to hit other children. If we do then we are told it is wrong and that we are being bad, we are punished in some way and then told to say sorry to whomever we got angry with or whomever we hit. Not only are we made to feel guilty for not being ‘good’ children but the let-off of saying sorry means we then demand of others that they have to forgive us for being angry at them in the first place.
When I started to understand why morals and ethics have been developed, and how they operate in practice, it became clear to me that the only sensible way to become free of them was for me to become free of the instinctual passions that the morals and ethics are designed to stifle and repress in the first place. If I do not get angry when Betty says, or Tom doesn’t do, or when ‘they’ don’t, or when ‘they’ do, or when life is ‘unfair’ and so on, then the compulsion to feel guilty and the need to gratuitously say sorry doesn’t even need to come into play.
Whilst I couldn’t sort these things out as a child – long before I was even capable of making sense of what was happening I was unwittingly programmed to think and feel this way – as a grown-up I now able to do this.
And just another comment that is relevant to the issue of morals and ethics – there is a tendency for some people who have some appreciation of the inherent restrictions of their social conditioning to discard their original moral and ethical conditioning in favour of adopting moral behaviour and ethical stances that are seen by society at large as being immoral and antisocial – thereby fondly imagining that by swapping camps they have somehow freed themselves from their societal conditioning. Many then form affiliations with like-minded ‘outcasts’ in order to feel kinship with others who also feel they have ‘seen the light’ or who ‘know the truth’, or who justify their malice towards others as being ‘honest’, as being ‘real’, as being ‘authentic’, or as being ‘true’ to themselves.
To me it made sense that the only way to actually become free of the binds of morals and ethics is to pull the plug on what they are there to keep a lid on – the savage instinctual passions. If you are harmless towards your fellow human beings then feelings of guilt do not arise and when others try to make you feel guilty their barbs will find nothing to hook on.
And to round the conversation back to your case, in my experience the ‘sense of guilt associated with disloyalty’ was eventually experienced as a diminishing side-effect of increasingly whittling away at my social identity in order that I could become more happy and less harmful towards others. (...)
PETER: Altered states of consciousness are far more tempting because denial and dissociation are easier options than taking responsibility for actually doing something to bring an end to human malice and sorrow. But when I came across Richard, I had had enough of the duplicity of the spiritual world and I was hooked by Richard’s sincerity and a burning desire to do something meaningful with my life.
RESPONDENT: I share that burning desire. Life just can’t go on as it has.
PETER: For me, once I discovered that reality sucked I was always on the look out for something better. After I found out that the spiritual world was full of charlatans I sat down one day and decided I had nothing left to lose – which is why I used the phrase as a sub-title to my journal. It appears that most people experience that as terrifying to acknowledge – to dare to put all of one’s eggs in one basket, instead of sprinkling them around many baskets – but for me it was thrilling because I was then able to let go of the past and whole-heartedly embrace the changes that are necessary in order to become actually free of malice and sorrow. This is not to say that there weren’t a few wobbles and a few sidetracks but it has been, and still is, a thrilling business to be in.
If I can add a rider to this post, I do appreciate that you write of your personal experiences and your personal feelings as it means that we can talk about down-to-earth matters. I’ve never been fond of intellectualizing for intellectualizing sake and I eventually found the male habit of philosophizing to be a way of dissociating from the reality of one’s own everyday life (and I say this because I eventually came to understand that this was the reason why I joined in the philosophizing) and yet I now find myself having to respond to posts that are nothing but intellectualizing and philosophizing. I have the choice to ignore them of course but you might have noticed that I do take the opportunity to sprinkle them with some personal anecdotes and some down-to-earth talk that I figure will be of interest to others on this list who are interested in what is happening ‘where the rubber meets the road’.
PETER: I noticed you have had a change of heart and the reason I wrote to you was because in your post to Richard you had referred to some things that I had written. If after your explorations of the website you have any questions about putting actualism in practice I would be happy to answer them – it’s my area of expertise.
RESPONDENT: That’s very gracious of you and it will be much appreciated.
PETER: Whilst actualism is a do-it-yourself business, the prime reason for this mailing list is to allow actualists to share their experiences about the business of becoming happy and harmless.
RESPONDENT: I do have one question as to how to get started. I have been poking around the web site in a fairly haphazard way. Is there a recommended sequence?
PETER: Not really. All that needs to be said is said on the front page of Richard’s part of the site and any areas of specific interest you may have are catalogued by topic in the library with related correspondence from both sections of the web-site.
From my experience, poking around is a good way to determine if what is being said is of interest to you. This can be seen as the stage of establishing a prima facie case as to the credibility of what is offered such that you can decide, one way or the other, whether you want to take it on in practice.
If you do decide to set your sights on becoming happy and harmless, then your use of the web-site may then become less haphazard as you can hone in on the particular idiosyncratic issues that are impeding your own happiness or sparking off your own aggravation in your daily life.
RESPONDENT: Also, a few nights ago after I got off work at 4pm; I may have experienced what is termed a PCE around here. [A term btw, that I had never heard of before coming here, the same for ASC and many others] ... anyways ... just to borrow a few words from this site that seemed to fit the description of that experience were pure, purity, direct, in the sense that a film or veneer had been removed from the world. Its like before there was always a thin film and now it was gone. I was helping my father fix a household appliance in the evening and there was an intimacy with him never before experienced. There was a minimum of the internal dialogue that generally goes on and on. This lasted the whole afternoon and evening, till bed and I woke up like that but then it was finished. That was something different than I had ever felt before.
PETER: I would take it from your description that the experience was something that you would like to have more of.
As you read more on the website I can recommend stopping every now and again and deliberately making the effort to recall that experience. By remembering the flavour of that experience you will be more able to access the naiveté necessary to understand what is on offer on the site and you will thus be more able to read what is on offer with the clear eyes that I assume you had during that experience.
When I recalled my first PCE, it became clear to me that the way to get from ‘A’ – being normal – to ‘B’ – having an ongoing direct experience of actuality 24/7 – was that ‘I’ had to devote my life to becoming happy and harmless … and that this commitment had to be so total as to be an all-consuming obsession. I don’t want to gallop ahead too much, but the reason I mention this is to point to the essential link between becoming happy and harmless and becoming free of the human condition – they are one and the same path.
RESPONDENT: Just to set the record straight ;-). At this point I find it neither necessary nor desirable to respond in a personal way (meaning addressing any members <finding them either supporting or not supporting the worldview currently presented as ACTUALISM>). The basic goal and purpose to establish (becoming happy and harmless while living a life in which there is no denial whatsoever of any bodily functions or qualities attributed to what is generally referred to as the human body) has been agreed upon as to be possible beneficial.
PETER: If I may point out something both from my own experience of spiritual years, and from observing others, that may be relevant. If you run the question ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ and come up with the answer ‘I am being angry right now’ or ‘I am feeling sad right now’ then you have something to investigate. If, however, you adopt the spiritual approach of ‘there is anger arising (in my body)’ or dissociate from the anger by asking ‘who is being angry right now?’ – as though it was someone else but you being angry – then you are indulging in the spiritual practice of denial and cultivating a new, holier than thou, dissociated identity.
The simplicity of running the question ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ with sincerity is not an easy exercise, but for someone who dissociates from their feelings it is impossible.
RESPONDENT: Yet for the sensible part I have come to think that sometimes one perhaps must risk to go outside the comfort zone thus I’m all to happy that Vineeto has had the courage to have done so, as for me the ‘Byron incident’ has been a great eye opener.
PETER: If the ‘Byron incident’ has been an eye opener for you I would suggest it is because you ‘have taken ample time to think about it’ and not because anything Vineeto did or didn’t do. Daily life is rich with incidents that stir feelings of annoyance or anger, remorse or sadness, many people can ‘push one’s buttons’ and many events can trigger emotional memories of past hurts – the question is how to get out of being ensnared in this cycle of ups and downs, thoughtless reactions and unconscious impulses. For you the ‘Byron incident’ has obviously been one of those events that has stirred you emotionally and you have apparently been able to discover much about your beliefs and how ‘you’ tick simply by taking ample time to think about it.
Once you have got the knack for milking these events for information about your beliefs, your morals, ethics, and so on, you can start to use this skill to not let the debilitating feelings such as annoyance or anger, remorse or sadness fester for so long. Once you become aware of the feelings happening you can nip them in the bud and then spend some time thinking about what triggered the feeling in the first place and then find out why you had the feeling you had. The more practiced you become at being attentive to how you are experiencing this moment of being alive, the quicker this investigative process can become and the more able you are to foster the felicitous feelings.
Just the other day I had something that triggered annoyance in me and it was quite startling because it has been so long since I have felt annoyed about anything. Usually I always feel excellent lately and feeling annoyed was such a contrast that I was able to be aware of the feeling precisely as it was happening. This instantaneous awareness prevented me from reacting to, or blaming, the person who triggered my feeling of annoyance and I was soon back to feeling excellent again. The incident related to what I considered to be an unnecessary demand made by an approvals officer who was vetting some of my architectural work. It was one of those issues that fit into the category of ‘can I emotionally accept that which is intellectually unacceptable?’ That’s another way of saying ‘can I not be annoyed when I come across something that, or someone who, is blatantly silly?’
Which brings me back to your investigations about the ‘Byron incident’ and your story about rebelling against the Humaniversity. My reaction to the approvals officer was similarly one of rebellion – a sense of injustice, a feeling of being hard done by, inwardly riling against what I felt to be pettiness. As soon as the feeling came on, I remembered what a futile waste such acts of rebellion are, how they result in conflict and discord and how such reactions only serve to keep me trapped within the human condition – a compulsive ‘battler’ in the grim psychological and psychic game of survival that is the human condition.
This perpetual battling against the world as-it-is and people as-they-are is born out of the animal instinct to survive in a hostile ‘what can I eat, what can eat me?’ world. From this genetically-endowed ‘self’-centred program comes the instinctual passions of fear of, and aggression towards, the world as-it-is and people as-they-are. Because of these instinctual passions all human beings have an innate inability to recognize and treat their fellow human beings for what actually are – fellow human beings. The only way to eradicate this ‘self’-centred program is the extinction of ‘self’, the end of ‘being’, and then the instinctual- affective programming collapses for want of a ‘driver’ – to use a computer analogy.
I remember recently that you called me a dreamer to which I demurred. Upon reflection, I can see where you were coming from because I refused to let go of the dream of peace on earth, so much so that I leapt at the opportunity that actualism offers to turn my dream into an actuality. In a similar vein, I always had a rebel streak in me, which I also refused to let go of by accepting second best. What I did was use this trait, not to rebel against Humanity as is common, but to do something really revolutionary – to become free of humanity, in toto. I remember thinking when I wrote my Journal that it would appeal to those rebels who were discontent with their life – not those whose identity was that of an angry rebel riling against some authority or other.
Well that was a bit of a rave, but I liked what you wrote about your discoveries. It is good to see someone making the effort and devoting the time to investigating their own beliefs and exploring their own passions. It’s good to hear of you beginning to ‘push the envelope’ a bit further and starting to reap the rewards for daring to do so.
PETER: I notice you ended your last post with ‘any comments are heartily welcomed’ so I’ll take up the invitation to respond as many of your comments correspond with my experiences of actualism.
RESPONDENT: A shortcut to actual freedom may well be the consideration that my body likewise everybody (all fellow beings so to speak) is made out of the same stuff the universe is made of.
I must say to have spent some considerable time in entertaining myself with wondering where that ‘stuff’ comes from however, I’ve come to find that this is not a very sensible question, as it took me to theories like the big BANG or the source, or some creator having created everything; it’s much easier to see (as it is obvious that is here right now) that it has always been there and will always be so.
However the question ‘WHAT’ is this stuff the universe is made of takes me to a naive feeling of wondering, coming to think of this, it is a rather magical process how this stuff becomes shaped into the human/animal form, on the other hand not much more mysteriously then how it becomes a grain of sand or a drop of water. See ... ... it’s simple: this body is the universe sensately experiencing itself no identity is needed, be it a thinking or a feeling one.
Having come to be a little more careful with pressing the sent button.
The above I wrote a few days ago and indeed as I’d finished writing it and reread it I was quite satisfied and more or less eager to share it, nevertheless I withheld it thinking; ‘if I re-read next time and it I still will find it worthy then I may post it.’ It appeared to be sensible to have taken some time, because how fragile is the experience of living in a Virtual Freedom. It’s all so obvious when writing this in the comfort of my own room yet, indeed these last couple of days I found myself dragged into a swamp of feelings when I had to do some necessary socializing with people in the ‘real’ world.
PETER: I can well relate to what you are saying as I had many such realizations in the early stages of actualism. I used to keep a little notebook and write them down and they would often come tumbling one after the other as I realized what Richard was saying made sense and sometimes I could even directly experience the sensibility by myself. The realizations were as though a clear light went on in my head as opposed to the spiritual insights I had in the past which felt like a tug on my heartstrings. These realizations felt more like a crack in the door was opening up to the wonders and delights of the physical world I was actually living in.
I remember being particularly fascinated by the physical process as to how every human being gets to be here in this physical world – a sperm fertilizing an egg triggering the growth of the foetus in a woman’s womb. I also remember being fascinated by the sight of my hand and seeing it for the first time as the claw of an animal. I remember being astounded at the non-sense of the fantasies of there being an ‘outside’ to this infinite universe or that there could be a beginning or an end to this eternal universe.
I won’t go on, as you seem to be discovering for yourself that a down-to-earth reflective contemplation on matters such as these can lead to wonder and amazement at the actuality of being here – of being fully involved in doing this business we call being alive, right here, right now, in the world as-it-is.
RESPONDENT: The sucking force of the human condition of malice and sorrow is exceedingly strong, as I find time after time. Apparently ‘me’ having been in recess seems to very cleverly having been hiding only to come back on stage as if never been away. It seems to only take one moment of being of ‘guard’ and back I find myself, ‘fighting’ the grim survival battle just like everybody. The main purpose of that game that everybody seems to have is to pretend oneself to feel reasonable happy as opposed to feel more or less miserable either deluding the others or oneself or both parties.
The main rule of that game seems to be to find something or someone to blame for ‘wrongness’ in the world or one’s private life. The price is high to pay when I fail to be attentive as to my own reactive behaviour of not managing to nip a feeling in the bud. However, having learnt to ask the sensible question as to the trigger of where I lost it so to speak I’m able to trace those feelings back to the event where it started.
After all these years I still find it hard to see ‘injustice’ happening yet it was surprising to feel how willing I was to do it (justice) as suddenly blind rage manifested itself. Indeed I could picture myself with a sten-gun and just wiping out the alleged to be guilty ones. I was even more surprised as to the feeling of ‘rightness’ of this action and even a sense of feeling good was involved with it. Nevertheless I soon began to question the sensibility as to the problem solving quality of such behaviour to then quickly come to the conclusion, that this simply showed, that I’m still not free of the human condition.
Then something interesting happened I ‘settled’ for less and only ‘choose’ to call the alleged (yet not even visible) guilty ones a bunch of mother F*ckers thus feeling that justice had been done. Funnily I kept up with that opinion for quite some time. It was only when I read and contemplated the fragment of Vineeto’s latest post –
Suddenly it started to dawn that I had taken this feeling as a fact and then I realized how reluctant I was to take responsibility for how miserable I felt this moment which was far from happy and harmless.
I later discovered this ‘holding on’ to this frozen anger had stressed my body and made me wake up with a headache and pain in the neck this stubbornness to take my ‘opinion’ for a fact had me fixed in a grumpy mood more or less with an overall deathlike feeling as I completely had forgotten about the main gaol of becoming happy and harmless permanently and undistorted. Now ‘my opinion’ began to reveal itself as a tendency not only to blame but also to want to punish. Obviously ultimately the way I ‘intent’ to punish is also the way I expect punishment to be for myself, which apparently is rather severe.
Also I began to see that pretending that this anger was just a feeling and therefore comfortable could be dismissed as an ‘I’ that was only inferred as ‘I’ was not the way to go, as ‘I’ manifested itself very real felt as an identity (the punisher). Also it dawned when I reflected that there even had been a second identity the ‘I’ as a moderator so to speak the one that somehow made an attempt to ‘keep’ the punisher within reasonable boundaries. Looking more deeply into it, it becomes clear that the ‘punisher’ indeed only went in recess and passed over the job to the ‘resenter’, which was keeping this anger more or less frozen.
I am well aware that the above story sounds kind of schizophrenic but more and more it seems that in dismantling the social identity one very well may come to find that it consists of many ‘I’s and each one may claim to be the real one though none of them of course is actual. My findings now are that it seems that in proceeding with the AF-process some new sort of identity is being created; the one who has some overview with the ability to backtrack, reflect and contemplate on all those sub-identities of which the inferred social/spiritual identity consists.
Thus the sub-identities seem to ‘frame’ the instinctual passions and I have not yet found how to eliminate those passions.
PETER: Just a comment on your feeling ‘kind of schizophrenic’ and your feeling that ‘in proceeding with the AF-process some new sort of identity is being created’. I can relate to what you are saying and I have even written of the experience –
Also, with the benefit of hindsight, Vineeto and I produced a diagram that may be useful to consider. In it you will see that there is no new identity created in the process of actualism but ‘what’ you are incrementally emerges as it is freed from the dominance of ‘who’ you think and feel you are.
The only thing you have to be wary of on the path to freedom is the powerful impulse to become yet another saviour of mankind and this is precisely why a sincere intent plays such a crucial role in actualism.
RESPONDENT: I am glad that I have been supplied with a working theory yet nobody but Richard has become actual free like him so, we are still in the stage of experimenting, even Vineeto and Peter (some 4/5 years on the job now) may have identities that might have gone in recess.
PETER: The stage I really liked was when the working theory of actualism brought practical results in reducing the amount of time I wasted in feeling malicious or sorrowful, which in turn meant I was able to crank up my joie de vie and delight in being here. Then I knew by experience that the working theory worked as a practical down-to-earth method in eliminating my malice and sorrow.
If a working theory can’t be put into practice and doesn’t produce tangible results then it is, by definition, an unworkable theory.
RESPONDENT: And not until it is actually proven that Actual Freedom is possible for more then one person, Richards case is still unique and so it could be that he is a ‘freak’ of nature (no insult intended) as ‘his being catapulted into an Actual Freedom’ happened spontaneously.
PETER: Again, I can speak from experience. When I first came across Richard there were several other people who were interested in actualism at the time but they dropped out for one reason or another. This left me on my own, as it were, and this made me realize that it didn’t matter what others did or didn’t do – my freedom was my business entirely, it wasn’t dependant on others becoming free and nor was anyone else stopping me from becoming free.
The other thing I realized early on in discussion with Richard was that while the event of becoming free from the human condition in toto ‘happened spontaneously’, the event itself was the result of years of attentiveness combined with a persistent and stubborn investigation of the nature of the human condition. The actualism method of an ongoing attentiveness to this moment of being alive can be summarized in one sentence – ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ but sorting out why you are wasting this moment thinking and feeling you are ‘who’ you are rather than being ‘what’ you are does take time and effort.
But then again, that is what you have written about in your post when you said –
I particularly liked your descriptions of your awareness of your feelings and your understanding of how they are programmed to operate. To put it into computer terminology, you have to understand the default setting of your social and instinctual programming in order to be able to change the default settings. And, as you also seem to be discovering, feelings of malice, anger, righteousness, blame, resentment and the like are the obvious firsts to look at for anyone who wants to be both happy and harmless.
Peter’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.