Selected Correspondence Peter
Objectivism and Being Objective
PETER: I do find your change of tack a bit abrupt, for you were speaking somewhat in actualist terms in your last post when you said –
Something in our recent conversation does seem to have changed your mind a bit from your previous stance.
RESPONDENT: Since I am very interested in looking into what is actually happening I tried to do just that. I know that I was being a little sluggish in my approach but my goal is always the same thing; to see clearly. For me that means questioning everything, not only the facts but also where one is coming from in stating different opinions and views. It means that I’m equally interested in reading in between the lines as I am in the cold hard facts.
PETER: Reading between the lines means you are then free to disregards the facts, reinterpret them, dismiss them as belief or opinion, etc. This philosophical approach to life means that one can never be fully committed to living life for one always maintains a safe, cautionary distance. Likewise the psychic checking out of another’s position means that one is always on-guard and wary. I do understand, for this approach to living is what we have been taught, which is why I eventually abandoned the approach and began to listen to the facts speaking for themselves as it were.
RESPONDENT: After all we don’t want to create new ideals but instead come to terms with the malice and sorrow in our lives, and life is happening right here and right now in this communication we have with each other, we don’t want to continue fooling ourselves.
PETER: I’m not fooling myself – I am simply responding to your questions.
RESPONDENT: That’s part of the reason I was a little provocative in my mail even though I didn’t plan it that way. I just tried to respond to the parts of your mail that I was questioning in some way. I could have pointed out other passages that was inspiring and helpful in my investigation but since your writings are very extensive I chose to concentrate on the parts that I didn’t agree with totally or wanted to question a little bit.
PETER: I always take what is written at face value, without tying to second-guess or interpret the motives that may lie behind the question, statement or objection. Thus when you say one thing and then the opposite or agree and then disagree, I take it that you have changed your position. It is now clear that you quite literally and deliberately take no position about life, the universe and what it is to be a human being. I cannot see any value at all in this style of intellectual ‘questioning’ for you but I do enjoy writing about my favourite subject and will continue to take your comments at face value.
RESPONDENT: When I’d written the mail I thought that it might be too rough around the edges but I was convinced that you wouldn’t take it the wrong way. But I actually detect a lot of defensiveness in your reply. I also see limitations in the way we communicate, breaking everything down to small parts. Sometimes the details obscure the bigger picture.
PETER: Being a pragmatic, down-to-earth builder by profession I know that a house is built stick by stick, bit by bit, day by day and eventually one has a finished house. The human psyche is constructed exactly the same way. From a base operation program of an instinctual animal ‘self’, a psychological and psychic self is layered over bit by bit, day by day, until by the time one is an adult the big picture of who we think and feel we are is complete. If one is interested in radical change this instinctual, psychological and psychic package has to be taken to pieces bit by bit, detail by detail, in order to discover what you are. Anyone interested in bigger picture solutions is usually talking of meta-physical viewpoints or philosophical approaches to living life.
RESPONDENT: So how am I to respond to this mail? I don’t want to continue quoting your quote of my previous quote etc in absurdity ... ... I’ll try to make some short comments and then we might be able to move on.
I would also like to clarify one thing; when I respond to your writings, it isn’t always ‘my’ view that I present, directly anyway. I see it as my prerogative (and everybody else’s) to step out of myself and question from a hopefully objective viewpoint. For instance I might question something that I quite agree with but still want to investigate further, that’s the approach I’ve been using anyway. So when I respond to you from a seemingly ‘spiritual’ viewpoint it can be that I try to see things with their eyes.
PETER: Personally, I find maintaining an objective viewpoint to living life an abysmal approach compared to undertaking an active subjective exploration of one’s own psyche in order to be able to fully indulge in this business of being alive as a flesh and blood, thoughtful, reflective human being. An exchange with another correspondence may illustrate my position about remaining objective
RESPONDENT: As I’ve mentioned a few times I’m not sure it’s very constructive to be too ‘one-sided’ and that’s of course the reason I continue to plague you with ‘defending’ the spiritual camp in some ways. I guess I’m not quite as radical as you are ... ... not yet anyway. But I am very interested in an alternative way of looking at (and living) life and this ‘third way’ is certainly of great interest. I can also understand that you are totally fed up with the ‘spiritual bunch’ after battling with them through the years and that it can be extremely frustrating to deal with all the fixed ideas ‘they’ have ... ... there’s that ‘us and them’ again, how can we move away from that ... I wonder.
PETER: The ‘spiritual bunch’ doesn’t have fixed ideas at all. They vacillate, fluctuate, oscillate, equivocate, pontificate, tergiversate, fudge the issue, pussyfoot around and waffle profoundly, all in order to defend their beliefs. A bit like squeezing a balloon – the hot air simply oozes in another direction. As I have said before, we have over a million words on our web-site from correspondent’s objections to being happy and harmless and all of them fall in to the category of people being unable or unwilling to take a position about life based on facts and their pure consciousness experiences, and all insisting on living life according to their beliefs and their altered state of consciousness experiences.
I do like it that you are interested in this third alternative to staying normal or becoming spiritual, so I will continue to respond in detail to your points and will continue to take what you write at face value. We may well break records for the length and ‘weight’ for e-mail correspondence but it is a delicious day to sit at the keyboard and I do like to write to a fellow human being who is interested in this new discovery.
RESPONDENT: You of course would argue that your point of view is evidently more sane since you have the empirical proof to back it up. But I can’t see the use of dismissing the theoretical side of science and everything else that isn’t possible to verify directly by empirical methods.
PETER: The problem I found with believing others’ theories and ideals was that they are changeable over time as more factual evidence became available, or as fashions changed. Further theories and ideals are culturally and spiritually influenced and the many variations only open up rich avenues of conflict, confusion, fantasy and fear, hope and hopelessness. Believing theories merely added more fuel to the fire of my instinctual passions, imaginations, dreams and nightmares – which is why I eventually abandoned the very act of believing. Give me a fact any day.
RESPONDENT: Facts are great but I also think that we need to be our own ‘philosopher’ to be able to evaluate and make use of the facts. As I understand, practical philosophy is also about learning to communicate one’s views in an understandable way and we all need that to make any sense to others.
PETER: I find ‘practical philosophy’ a contradiction in terms. Philosophy means thinking about life.
RESPONDENT: (...) This is an interesting exchange. It has been very useful for me to communicate with someone from outside of the spiritual camp, or should I say outside of every known camp. We don’t agree on everything, you’re a convinced actualist and you hold on very tightly to your discovery. I agree that it is much more useful to focus on actuality than on theories but I think it is sensible to not be too rigid. If you present actuality and self-immolation as undisputable facts it is a hindrance in the communication with others.
PETER: What is actual is, per definition, an undisputable fact – it is what can be sensately experienced, seen with the eyes, touched with the hands, heard with the ears, smelt with the nose, tasted with the tongue. The perfection and purity of this actual world can only be experienced in a self-less state. Would you have me make up a fairy story, a fanciful poetic psychic realm, whereby ‘you’, as a psychological and psychic spirit, can feel or emotionally experience an inner perfection? We both know where this folly leads to – God realization. Would you have had Galileo recant because his empirical discovery of the fact that the earth orbits around the sun disagreed with Ancient Wisdom? Would you say that the empirical discovery of genetically encoded fear and aggression should not be rigidly held to be factual for it leaves no room for Tabula Rasa theories or the ideas of evil being the result of evil spirits or the evils of materialism?
RESPONDENT: In order to find out about life there’s need for inquiry, by oneself but also together with others. In inquiry with others there is need for an open atmosphere and the ability to listen without preconceptions to what others have to say, but if you always abide in ‘actuality’ and aren’t really interested in a different outlook on life then it isn’t really working, is it?
PETER: You seem to have a fixation on remaining open. This notion is ingrained in the spiritual search for freedom because for spiritualism to exist it is essential to remain open to something other than what can be actually experienced by the physical senses – i.e. a metaphysical world and a subsequent meta-physical freedom. This belief is passionately fuelled by the human instinctual fear of death and spiritual freedom offers a transcendence of this fear such that one feels immortal. By remaining open to other possibilities other than actuality one forever turns one’s back on actual freedom and leaves oneself forever open to the seductive lure of spiritual freedom. Of course, ‘you’ get off scot-free which is the very point of remaining open and flexible.
RESPONDENT: In order to make progress in the investigation a real dialogue is necessary, at its best the inquiry can become an example of how two people (or more) can come together and demonstrate harmlessness and selflessness in a practical way.
PETER: A real dialogue in normal-world terms is one where compromise, bargains and deals are done whereby no one wins and everybody loses – an accommodation is reached, a mutual agreement to not rock the boat too much. The bottom line is that no one wants to fundamentally change himself or herself. A real dialogue in spiritual terms is a discussion such as is held on the mailing list – a nonsensical bewildering repetition of Ancient Wisdom designed to encourage the development of a new spiritual identity that is transcendental of the old worldly identity.
RESPONDENT: I don’t think it works to say that ‘self-immolation’ is the only way and that’s it, you’re just creating more distance between you and others with a differing approach.
PETER: Are you planning to invent your own personal differing approach to life simply to suit you? You may have noticed that this is common in the spiritual world where every teacher claims to have a differing, unique interpretation or approach.
What is actual is actual, we are all born of the meeting of the sperm and the egg, we are all born into the Human Condition, and some of us seek freedom from this condition. Thus far there has only been one freedom, one ‘differing approach’ available – the mythical, other-worldly spiritual freedom. If you are not interested in something so radically different as actualism, fair enough. They say there is safety in numbers, but I never found it so.
RESPONDENT: So what you need is a TEACHING of actuality so that you can let sanity slowly creep in to your ‘students’ minds ... just kidding a little bit ... I believe you mentioned that you aren’t interested in changing anybody else. But I guess you’re interested in communicating your discovery so that others at least can have the possibility to judge for themselves.
PETER: Yes, and you wrote to me with some questions and you have clearly made a judgement that you don’t believe it is possible to become free from the Human Condition. But I do appreciate your interest – you are the only person from the mailing list who expressed any interest at all in something so radically new.
RESPONDENT: But as we both know it isn’t going to make any difference unless the individual is very interested in finding out what life is about and how to live here on earth, right now, and not in some other life.
It’s a very rare individual who dares to see the totality of the pitiful state of human existence on this earth without indulging in it himself and who instead continues the search for a way out of our predicament.
PETER: Andrew Cohen uses the term ‘rare individual’ when describing those who take up his teachings of liberation of the human spirit. What I found when I investigated his teachings and his community is that what he offers is a very traditional, very conservative fundamentalist view of Eastern spirituality, blended with a touch of Western mysticism. To follow this course one needs only to be a common follower, by no means rare, and by no means individual. The spiritual path has been trod by billions of human beings for thousands of years – t’is a well-worn path, and very well travelled.
Whereas to be a pioneer of actualism, in the early decades at least, is to truly be both – rare, as in few, and individual, as in autonomous.
RESPONDENT: But I do not believe that there is only ONE way towards change. Yes Peter, I used the word believe because I don’t know for sure what is going to work, that we can only determine by looking back in our tracks and see what worked and what didn’t.
RESPONDENT: If you only look at the weird stuff, the shallow, and the corrupt, all sorts of critical conclusions may be drawn. But this has nothing to do with inquiry, or objectivity, and your albeit well-written prose leaves me sensing that you have chosen first your conclusions, then decided to interpret only those spiritual expressions that serve that conclusion. That’s a straw man, Peter.
PETER: The old ‘straw man’ argument is an oft-used debating method employed in desperation to divert attention from what is being said by objecting to how it is being said. Objective enquiry is a method of avoiding coming to any conclusions and when taken to extremes, as in spiritual enquiry, it leads to the ridiculous business of those who claim to REALLY not know being deemed to have great wisdom. I went in the other direction of subjective investigation – I wanted to explore, investigate, uncover and eliminate everything that prevented me from being happy and harmless. I wanted answers such that would cause an irrevocable change – the ending of malice and sorrow in this flesh and blood body.
PETER: Hi Here-Now,
RESPONDENT: ‘There are two worlds. One is on the outside, the other is on the inside.
They are two only for the ignorant, they are two only because you have not yet seen the unity,
because the ego is standing between the two like a dividing line.
Once the ego evaporates, disappears, there is only one world.
Then it is neither subjective nor objective, neither outer nor inner,
but to begin with we have to accept the state in which we are; hence I say there are two worlds.
I mean for you there are two worlds – the outside world and the inside world.
To enter into ultimate truth first one has to explore the inner.
And we all explore the outer we begin with the wrong step. Then everything else goes wrong.
If the first step is wrong then everything else is going to be wrong.
You have to find your inner source of light first.
Explore it – and it is one of the most ecstatic adventures, in fact, the most ecstatic adventure.
No other adventure can be compared with it, everything falls short. Even going to the moon or to Mars falls short.
It is nothing compared to the journey that Jesus made or Buddha made. They are real adventurers.’
PETER: I disagree so thought I would butt in on your poetry and give you another definition of here-now for your consideration. It’s a bit radical admittedly but it could be worth considering for someone who is vitally interested in here-now and how to get to being here permanently. The first bit is the dictionary definition:
– In this place or position. In this world; in this life; on earth.
RESPONDENT: Ayn Rand addressed freedom from a moral perspective, so it is not new.
PETER: Ayn Rand’s morality, or ‘new ethics’ is merely an attempt to impose yet another set of ethics and moralities on humans with her ‘Objectivism’. I think you need to read further, as actualism is a freedom from the restrictions of morals and ethics such that one becomes actually happy and harmless. This forsakes the need to comply to and be restricted by any system of imposed values and beliefs. Of course, it is sensible to obey the laws of the land, but the freedom experienced in actualism is both limitless and actual and beyond my wildest dreams. Actual means: that which is palpable, tangible, tactile, corporeal, material. In comparison, real is that which, while appearing actual and is merely the affective interpretation of the actual.
RESPONDENT: Can one not realize the same wave upon wave of pleasure from eating a single strawberry as in coitus? Is not pleasure a function of mind?
PETER: All sensate experience be it sight, taste, hearing, smell or touch is picked up by the sense organs which are but the ‘stalks’ of the brain. These signals are usually filtered by the ‘self’, the psychological and psychic entity within each of us, resulting in ‘normal’, edited sensate experience. When this filter is temporarily absent as in the peak experience or some drug induced states, the sensate experience can be direct and unfiltered. Then the sensate-only experience is extra-ordinary. One has a heightened sensory perception free of any sense of ‘I’ or ‘me’. To live this as a permanent state is Actual Freedom – freedom from the Human Condition.
PETER: ‘Millions, if not billions’ is a reference to all the devotees of Eastern spirituality (Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Shintoism, Taoism, Zen, etc.) in all the thousands of years, many, many of whom spent their lives secluded in monasteries or ashrams (in Tibet, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Korea, India etc.) or devoting hours of their days in meditation, ‘watching’, praying, or the like. The recent influx and western interest in spirituality is but a ‘blimp’ on the vast sweep of history. The point of my statement was that once this became evident to me I was able to put my position in perspective. The failure rate of producing profound individual awakenings (Enlightenment) of the Eastern religions became startlingly evident, as did my arrogance in assuming that I could do any better. The other issue was that despite (or because of) the numbers, sincerity and effort of all these people the countries had appalling levels of poverty, disease, corruption, repression of women, and often downright theocracies. I fail to see this as speculation and projection. A study of history and an open-eyed visit to the East will still confirm this to be the case in many countries.
RESPONDENT: This response is a example of the twist I said you put on the topics... This is what I said; ‘Millions?Billions? give their lives? for nil?? just speculation and projection. As far as I am concerned... these people devoted what they wished, learned what they learned, and went on to live long productive peaceful loving ordinary lives... maybe some didn’t. So what!
PETER: On re-reading my response I see that I clearly made the point of what it meant for me – that in the light of these facts I was able to clearly put my position in perspective rather than merely following what everyone else was and had been doing for millennia. If this is of no concern to you, so be it. It does nothing to alter the facts.
RESPONDENT: The issue I have with your speculations and projections does not have to do with history but with the judgement that you recolor and edit the history in order to create support for your opinions – that you like to call facts. How you choose to view, edit and interpret history has no bearing on the reality of the history itself.
PETER: No, you yourself said ... ‘as far as I am concerned’ which, as it turned out, meant that you are ‘not concerned’ – as evidenced by ‘So what!’
I, on the other hand was vitally concerned as to what I was doing with my life and what other human beings had done with their lives. Had it bought them the promised peace of mind and had this whole spiritual pursuit contributed to bringing forth a state of peace on the planet?
My own open-eyed direct observation of Eastern Counties, a common sensical reading of the Ancient texts, and 17 years of intensive search on the spiritual path forced me to the pride-shattering conclusion that I had been sold a dummy and that I had fallen for it hook, line and sinker.
RESPONDENT: You are unable to know the experiences of others.
PETER: There is nothing unique in the Human Condition. One is either normal or spiritual. I have had the experience of 32 years of ‘normal life and 17 years of spiritual life so I see myself as well qualified. I am also well qualified in the ‘new business’ of actualism, although by no means as well qualified as Richard.
He was Enlightened for 11 years until he saw through the sham.
Mind you, writing on this list is certainly an eye-opener as to the reactions one gets when one dares to question anyone’s dearly-held beliefs.
RESPONDENT: Your unfulfilled expectations of specific rewards and results has nothing to do with the History and lives of the people who lived it. You are not in possession of authority (except in you mind) to determine lives were lived and given for nil...or anything else.
You’re welcome to have your opinion. But, it was the judgement of lives given for nil that I said was speculation and the facts you created out of the speculation is what I called projections.
PETER: So, in the world according to No 10, I am allowed to have an opinion but the sin of all sins is to make a judgement.
If by judgement you mean the ability to judge wisely in matters affecting action, good sense, discretion then I make judgements based on all the facts I can gather. I then make a judgement on what is the sensible action to take.
The operation of common sense is essential if one is to be free of such moralistic and self-serving nonsense as ‘thou shalt not judge’.
RESPONDENT: A fact is: a piece of information presented as having objective reality; (objective reality would be undistorted-actual reality).
PETER: If a fact to you is undistorted-actual reality then does that mean you call a tree a tree, or do you call it a ‘piece of information’? Is the keyboard in front of you a fact as in visible, touchable, audible when you type – i.e. is it actual?
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