Selected Correspondence Peter
Pure Consciousness Experience
RESPONDENT: How does the chemical flood of the constant ‘feeling reality’ instantly disappear, and allow a PCE to occur?
PETER: It would seem to me that there are four possibilities to the onset of a PCE –
Whilst these categories are based on my own observations and the reports of others, I am hesitant in claiming these categorizations as being definitive, nevertheless they may serve as a good starting point for the discussion.
Before I begin I would make the point that what I am talking about is the different ways a PCE can be triggered, not different types of PCEs. Because a PCE is a temporary ‘self’-less sensate-only experience of the actual world that each and every flesh and blood human body lives in, a PCE is an experience that is common-to-all and, unlike an ASC, a PCE has no variations at all due to cultural, gender or personality influences.
1. Unprovoked spontaneous onsets of PCEs –
The most commonly-reported memories of unprovoked spontaneous onsets of PCEs come from early childhood years and this is so because the psychological and psychic ‘self’ not yet fully formed or fully functioning in early childhood. As such, the ‘constant ‘feeling reality’’, still in its fledgling state in childhood, is prone to imperceptibly vanish in appropriate circumstances and the child’s resultant naïve curiosity about the extraordinary nature of the ordinary physical world can then involuntarily tip over into wonder and amazement at it all and a pure consciousness experience of the actual world we flesh and blood human animals live in can result.
Such unprovoked spontaneous onsets to a PCE can also occur in adulthood but in theses cases the event or circumstances have to be such that the cynicism inherent in being an adult human being temporarily abates allowing the emergence of a subjugated naiveté such that it can involuntarily tip over into wonder and amazement of the actual physical world we flesh and blood human animals live in. Again this is an unprovoked spontaneous onset to a PCE in that the PCE seemingly happens without a definable cause but such onsets are more rare in adult years given the near-total stranglehold that cynicism has over every adult human psyche.
A man once related such an unprovoked onset to a PCE he had as a young adult whilst scuba diving. The experience stuck in his memory such that it provoked in him a life-long discontent with his life as-it-is, that is until he came across the Advaita Vedanta teachings and opted for being content with ‘who’ he is. Why I mention this is that it points to the fact that a PCE provides the experiential evidence that there is a peerless and pure actual world that is far, far superior to the ‘self’-produced ‘constant ‘feeling reality’’ or any of the mythologically-driven altered states of consciousness. The reason this man, along with many others of his generation, went on to tread the well-worn Eastern spiritual path is that up until very recently there have only been two options available to human beings – ‘normal’ grim reality or the fantasy world of a Greater Reality – hence other-than-‘normal’ any experience has traditionally always been seen as proof of the existence of a Greater Reality.
2. Provoked spontaneous onsets of PCEs –
A provoked spontaneous onset of a PCE is an onset that is solely due to an external event or circumstances – in other words, the circumstances alone provoke a PCE regardless of ‘my’ feelings, attitudes or inclinations at the time. The most common of these provocations is obvious – the taking of chemical substances that affect the normal functioning of the brain’s circuitry. For me the most significant PCE I had that I could remember was the result of deliberately taking such a drug and I have written about it in my journal. The only reason I can offer as to why I had a PCE and not an ASC – the most usual result of taking such drugs – is that I still had a flickering of naiveté operating at the time. The deliberate taking of mind-altering drugs in an attempt to provoke the onset of a PCE is not something that I recommend, firstly because it is an illegal activity in most countries and secondly because it is a hit-and-miss affair often leading to a random variety of experiences ranging from those that are ‘self’-aggrandizing through various other stages of weirdness to those that are diabolical.
There are other events and circumstances that can provoke the spontaneous onset of PCE and a few examples from my own life experience will serve to illustrate this. One such instance relates to the time when I was a sannyasin or follower of Mohan Rajneesh – a now-dead Indian Guru. As part of his God-man show he gave daily discourses to his disciples whilst sitting in a chair on a podium and this tradition was continued after his death – a taped discourse was played whilst his empty chair sat on the podium. One evening at discourse the absolute absurdity of the circumstances ‘I’ had got myself into struck me – here I was, a grown man, supposedly intelligent, dressed in a long white robe, shouting ‘Yahoo’ to an empty chair. What I experienced was a very brief PCE because I suddenly became aware of what ‘I’ had driven this flesh and blood body to do and this awareness could only happen when ‘I’ was temporarily in abeyance, no longer strutting centre stage as it were. The other incident happened when my son died and the resultant shock of the circumstances caused me to have several spontaneous PCEs in the ensuing days.
Other circumstances that can provoke the spontaneous onset of a PCE are particular stunning nature experiences. Most often such experiences very rapidly relapse into feelings of awe, reverence or pathos which in turn can lead to an epiphany or some similar altered state of consciousness. But sometimes, if one stays steadfastly with the wonder and amazement of the sensate-rich experience, such experiences of the magnificence of the physical world can provoke the spontaneous onset of a PCE.
I have written in my journal of one such experience whilst sailing a yacht at night time in the middle of the Indian Ocean and another I remember was provoked by watching a simultaneous sunset and full moon rise in the middle of a desert. As one huge orange ball sank in the blue-black dusk of the western sky, another equally huge ball arose in the east – and the magnificence of the actual world became stunningly apparent. Of course the circumstances that can provoke the spontaneous onset of a PCE are more likely to provoke the onset of an ASC – after all, an altered state of consciousness is not only the traditional ‘way out’ of grim reality but it also has the added attraction of the influx of overwhelming ‘self’-aggrandizing feelings.
3. Intentionally provoked onsets of PCEs –
We now move on from the normal random, hit-and-miss, chance onsets of PCEs into something that is brand-new in human history – PCEs provoked by an actualist’s unswerving intent to become actually free from the human condition of malice and sorrow. Just to make this clear – it is the intent to devote one’s life to the business of becoming happy and harmless that inevitably provokes the onset of a PCE. Any attempt to provoke a PCE without this pure intention will only result in the frustration of failure or a head-in-the-cloud altered state of consciousness.
When an actualist fully commits to the business of becoming free of the human condition – i.e. when he or she decides to make becoming happy and harmless the most important thing in their life – this commitment marks the beginning of a process specifically designed to focus one’s attentiveness to the workings and nature of a human psyche in action, one’s own psyche. This on-going attentiveness to how am I experiencing this moment of being alive in itself generates revelations, realizations and fundamental changes that are the very provocations that guarantee the onset of PCEs.
To use your terminology, if you deliberately, with due forethought, make a total commitment to set about to poke holes in your own ‘constant ‘feeling reality’’, then something’s eventually got to give. And when a hole or crack does appear, then almost seamlessly the pure and perfect actual world of the senses appears if by magic – and as it does you immediately recognize that it is always here, was always here and has always been here. And as you ponder on the nature of a PCE you become aware that a pure consciousness experience only happens when ‘I’ am temporarily in abeyance.
It is important to also take on board the fact that it is impossible to provoke the onset of a PCE if one is feeling grumpy, resentful, annoyed, frustrated or sad – or, to put it another way, if ‘I’ and ‘my’ moods are busy strutting the stage then ‘I’ am actively preventing the possibility of the onset of a PCE. The reason I mention this is that it makes clear once again that the intent and commitment to become happy and harmless are essential ingredients if one is to aspire to intentionally provoking the onset of a PCE.
The PCEs an actualist intentionally provokes are the experiential evidence that there in fact exists a third alternative world to the human created-worlds – the instinctually grim reality and the impassioned fantasy of a Greater Reality – and that this alternative is the purity and perfection of the actual world, the world of the senses. PCEs are potent opportunities for a practicing actualist to observe the persistent and perverse nature of the human condition because one is briefly free of its grip as well as being delicious occasions for delighting in the sensual cornucopia of this lush and verdant planet all we fellow human beings live on. Such PCEs serve as touchstones for an actualist, for when the PCE fades and ‘my’ ‘self’-centred reality returns, ‘I’ then know the precise nature and the scope of the business to be done in order to become actually free from the human condition of malice and sorrow.
As a footnote to this section, I would like to make comment on the seemingly fashionable ‘wisdom’ of some Eastern spiritual teachings – the wisdom of disregarding the need for commitment, rejecting any methodology and scorning the idea that any work needs to do be done or indeed can be done in order to achieve the goal of a permanent altered state of consciousness aka Enlightenment or Self-realization. From my reading and from my own experience, such teachings are disingenuous at best since all who have achieved the Exalted State have obviously done so by being singularly committed to diligently using a method specifically designed not only to intentionally provoke ASCs but also to lead to the possibility of a permanent ASC.
In my own case I had a substantive ASC towards the end of my spiritual years that was intentionally provoked by the diligent practice of dissociation. On the face of it, it would seem that those who teach that commitment, methodology and hard work are not required for success have a vested self-interest in maintaining their own hard-won position at the top of the spiritual hierarchy. Needless to say, the reason I have mentioned this is that anyone who holds to the Eastern wisdom of disregarding the need for commitment, rejecting any methodology and scorning the idea that any work needs to do be done will find actualism is not for them.
4. Intentionally allowed onsets of a PCE –
As an actualist moves to the stage where he or she becomes virtually free of malice and sorrow the circumstances that allow a PCE to be intentionally provoked are more and more diminished. This is so because it is the early revelations, realizations and fundamental changes bought about by the actualism method – those that are the most tumultuous and dramatic – that are the most likely to provoke the onset of PCEs. When one becomes virtually free of malice and sorrow then the invidious feelings are reduced to such an extent that one is effortlessly and unconditionally happy and harmless for 99% of the time – a change which results in a perceptible change of direction over time.
One now no longer aspires to become free of the invidious aspects of a ‘constant ‘feeling reality’’ because the intensive work of becoming aware of, exploring and investigating the malevolent and sorrowful feelings is by and large done. Rather than being interested in, and being busy with, the business of breaking free from the grip of grim reality, a virtually free actualist is able to more and more delight in being here in this place in space in this moment of time, no matter what he or she is doing or not doing – in short he or she then becomes more interested in, and more capable of, intentionally allowing the onset of a PCE.
It is appropriate to again wave a warning flag at this point. Although spontaneous unintentional PCEs can happen in the early period of actualism, given the appropriate set of circumstances, most often the onset of PCEs in this stage are intentionally provoked by the actualism method itself. It therefore follows that to expect to intentionally allow the onset of a PCE whilst still in the grip of malice and sorrow, or whilst remaining the unwitting victim of one’s own mood swings, is to guarantee disappointment and failure.
Well that’s about it from me. The answer to your question was a long one, but the question needed a detailed response in order to cover the various ways that a PCE can occur. If you have followed the gist of my response, then number three will be where your interest will lie and number four will be something to look forward to when the initial work of becoming virtually happy and harmless is done.
RESPONDENT: My first questions relate to what is (apparently) lost in AF. If there is no imaginative faculty, no mind-space at all in which to visualise objects and processes, how is it possible to understand systems and processes that do not occur right before one’s eyes?
For example: could Peter continue being an architect if he were to experience the final physiological transformation that Richard has undergone? By what means could he design and mentally manipulate new architectural plans if he had no imaginative faculty? How could he understand and discuss plans with a colleague, without seeing an actual representation of them? How could he rearrange mental images if he has no ‘mind space’, no inner eye? Would he become useless (as an architect) without his CAD software?
PETER: The reason I thought to respond was that I have made a living as an architect whilst being a ‘normal’ person and continue to do so whilst being virtually free of malice and sorrow. I have also had numerous PCEs so I know by experience what it would be to be work as an architect free of the burden of passions and imagination.
As I remember it, when I was normal the design process was a somewhat tortuous process – it was an essential part of the process to try and form a mental image of what I was designing before I tried to convert the mental image into a drawing. This forming of a mental image sometimes began even before the job started, before I met the clients or saw the land. The mental image was then based solely on what ‘I’ wanted to do, which was often at odds with what the client wanted to do or had the money to pay for or what best suited the site, the climate, the local regulations, the ease of construction, and so on. In other words the image of what I wanted to do was utterly selfist, passionate and imaginary and not at all not rooted in actuality.
This process of forming a mental image and then trying to actualize it in some form is often termed ‘the creative process’ and I very often suffered angst and anguish going through this process – feelings that are well-documented as being part and parcel of being a ‘creative’ person. Of course many self-aggrandizing feelings also arise – there is no more smug feeling than ‘me’ feeling that ‘I’ am being creative – particularly when ‘I’ receive the plaudits of others for being ‘the creator’.
However this feeling of smugness always had a hollow ring to it for me because ‘I’ was often aware that ‘I’ was claiming credit for something ‘I’ was not responsible for. Sometimes I would put this feeling into words such as ‘it wasn’t me who did it’ and I have heard others do likewise. I have also heard people say things like ‘there is a creative force that works through me’, often implying that ‘there is a Creative, aka Divine, Force that works through me’ and the more megalomaniacal even get to think and feel that ‘I am the Creative Force’. There is so much self-indulgent twaddle that has been written about creativity as to make the word creative hackneyed and I was aware of this even in my pre-actualist days.
When I became an actualist I started to become more attentive to my feelings and this included the feelings that were happening when I was trying to mentally conceptualize a design, as well as those feelings that were happening during the putting-it-down-on-paper stage. I started to become attentive to not only the emotional ups and downs that I went through but also to the effect these feelings had on others in my interactions with clients and builders, as well as those most close to me.
Late one night in my first year as an actualist, as I was working on the drawing board, I had a pure conscious experience whereby my mind became aware of itself working. There was apperception happening in that there was no ‘me’ being aware – there was simply the brain being aware of the brain in operation, in this case doing the task of designing a house. The process that was happening was fascinating to observe – there was a continual consideration of the parameters that governed the design: the client’s requirements, past experience, site considerations, planning and building regulations, structural considerations, climate considerations, budget, ease of building, appearance, durability, workability and so on.
There was a repeated shuffling of ideas and information operating – a trial and error process of working out the best solution – and it was magical to observe, even more so because there was awareness of only part of the process that was going on, there was a good deal happening ‘on the back burner’ as it were. Sometimes a particular issue was set aside for a while whilst another issue was addressed and when I returned to it later the best solution came instantaneously which made it apparent that there was an awareness only of the surface activity of the brain in action.
The operation of the human brain is such an exquisite intricacy as to be truly wondrous. With no ‘I’ in the road to agonize over the process, nor a ‘me’ present to either exalt or despair at the outcome, there was simply the brain doing what the brain does – think, plan, reflect, evaluate, compare, compute, assess and mull over, as well as simultaneously being aware that this is what it is doing. And not only that, whilst the brain is being apperceptively aware, it is also serving as the central processing unit for the sensory perceptive system of the body – continually processing the myriad of sensate information that is this flesh and blood body’s sensual sensitivity to whatever is happening in this moment.
In a PCE, it is wondrously apparent that the brain itself is not doing the sensing, it is only interpreting or making sense of the sensory input – and only doing so when and if it is needed to do so. There is an awareness that it is the eyes that are doing the seeing – there is no image of what the eyes are seeing that is transferred to the cerebral brain, there is an awareness that it is the ears that are doing the hearing – there is no sound that is transferred to the cerebral brain, there is an awareness that it is the skin that is doing the feeling and touching – there is no tactile response felt in the cerebral brain … and so on.
In a PCE, the brain, bereft of any illusionary identity together with its associated affective faculty, is incapable of forming mental images or indulging in imaginary scenarios – it is either apperceptively aware that it is involved in doing what it does, thinking and interpreting sensory inputs or it is not, in which case there is no thinking or interpreting going on, simply a sensual awareness of being conscious of being alive.
Now whilst such ‘self’-less experiences of apperception only occur in a PCE, an actualist who has got to the stage of being virtually free of malice and sorrow can operate and function with very little of the debilitating effects of ‘I’ stuffing things up or ‘me’ strutting the stage like some disembodied drama queen in a dream, or a nightmare, of ‘my’ imagination. In virtual freedom it is readily apparent that there is no need to indulge in imaginative fantasies nor to attempt to create mental images – in fact should they occur they are quickly seen for what they are – a pathetic substitute for the sumptuousness of actuality.
To bring this back to the business of being an architect, it means that any attempt on ‘my’ part to form a mental image, either prior to or during the design process, only inhibits the doing of the designing – a practical doing that happens anyway and happens at its very best whenever ‘I’ am absent from the scene.
I don’t know if that answers your question but I had fun writing of my experiences as an actualist. As I said, there is so much twaddle written about so-called creativity that it is good to have some sense written about the actuality of creating something.
PETER: The operation of the human brain is such an exquisite intricacy as to be truly wondrous. With no ‘I’ in the road to agonize over the process, nor a ‘me’ present to either exalt or despair at the outcome, there was simply the brain doing what the brain does – think, plan, reflect, evaluate, compare, compute, assess and mull over, as well as simultaneously being aware that this is what it is doing.
RESPONDENT: Ah, I see my mistake now. The I-complex tends to regard itself as the very heart and soul of intelligence, which is amazingly stupid in hindsight.
PETER: What I was describing was the functioning of the human brain in a pure consciousness experience when ‘I’ am temporarily absent, and as you know, a pure consciousness experience is a rare event. In normal experiencing the ‘‘I’-complex’, to use your words – doesn’t regard itself as the very heart and soul of intelligence, ‘he’ or ‘she’ so totally dominates that there is precious little thinking happening that is not ‘I’ thinking and moreover whatever thinking is happening is most often dominated by ‘my’ feelings. In short, ‘I’ don’t tend to regard myself as being the centre of ‘my’ world, ‘I’ am the centre of my world.
The actualism method is specifically tailored to break down dominance and if the process is allowed to fully run its course self-immolation is the end result.
RESPONDENT: I should know better already. Whenever I’m playing music, programming or writing at my best, ‘I’ get the hell out of the way, and that’s when all the interesting stuff starts to happen. I suspect this is a common hurdle for newcomers to AF. If ‘I’ am equivalent to ‘my’ intelligence or creativity, then the absence of ‘I’ is absence of intelligence or creativity. Not so.
PETER: Yes, but as you know, there is a vast difference between single-mindedly focussing one’s attention on a task and having a ‘self’-less pure consciousness experience, which is what I was talking about.
I don’t want to put a damper on your reflections about the subject but history shows that seeking fulfilment and meaning via the single-minded fixation on artistic, academic, scientific or sporting pursuits is a fickle business. I remember about 10 years ago doing a job when everything went well – not only the design but the building process as well. When it was completed I remember thinking ‘now what’ – this is as good as it gets doing what I do for a living and even if every job was as good as this it was definitely not the meaning of life. I then understood experientially that what I did to make money – what people pretentiously call ‘being creative’ – was no more and no less than what I did to make money, which helped in that it put a final line through the idea that what ‘I’ did for a living was the meaning of life.
PETER: In a separate post you also wrote –
RESPONDENT: I’m wondering if parts of this experience offer a glimpse of what AF is like.
Last summer I was walking along a country road outside the town where I live. In a field I found two perfect fresh specimens of amanita psilocybe. Chewed thoughtfully, walked and waited. After about 30 minutes I felt a few nasty physical sensations: a buzzing in my head and a bit of anxiety in my guts. I hurried along the track feeling uneasy and restless, sweating and whatnot. Then, all of a sudden, literally in a moment, all traces of anxiety dropped away completely, and it was as if I had walked through an invisible membrane into a bubble of perfection. Absolutely nothing had changed. The fields, mountains, trees, sky, clouds, all stood before me in their sparkling, pristine glory. There was no ‘emotion’, but there was a pure sensation of joy that made me grin from ear to ear.
I must still have had some sense of identity because at one point I wondered: where am I? I knew that I was walking on a country road outside town, but when I tried to precisely locate myself in relation to the river and the town, found I could not. I could not hold an abstract map in my mind at all. But it didn’t matter in the slightest. Where am I? I’m here! The whole question of where ‘here’ is only makes sense in relation to where somewhere else is, and what’s the point of that?
For the next couple of hours I strolled along, drifting in and out of this bubble of perfection, feeling absolutely fine and carefree. There was no trace of ‘mysticism’ or ‘spirituality’ about it; just enjoyment of being present in a perfect bubble of real time and real space and real things.
Is this what is meant by a PCE?
PETER: From what you have written, the experience you had sounds very much like a PCE … but only you can be the ultimate judge of the nature of your own experiences. You will find a description of a PCE that served as my touchstone in actualism in my journal and Vineeto has catalogued a section on PCEs in the library section of the Actual Freedom Trust website. For descriptions of what it is like to live actually free of the human condition there is Richard’s Journal.
As you have probably twigged to by now, remembering a PCE is one thing, what you want to do with that memory is yet another.
RESPONDENT: At the moment when I drifted into the ‘bubble’ of perfection, and for some time afterwards, yeah, I’m pretty sure that was a PCE, and it was a lovely way to spend the day.
PETER: Yes indeed. Not only does one drift into a bubble of perfection, as you put it, but that character or person who only a moment or so before felt anxious, or annoyed or indifferent or lonely or bored … has disappeared, as though ‘he’ never existed.
RESPONDENT: It wasn’t what I had expected. Quite a few years ago I had some very intense (and fascinating) ASCs on LSD, and I expected this ‘trip’ to be a faint echo of same: ie. mind exploding with fantastical geometrical visions, the universe revealing its authentic deep structure in the form of fractal patterns everywhere. But this was something altogether different. I’ve had MDMA [‘E’] a few times as well, but this little ‘bubble’ of space and time seemed more ‘pure’ and ‘clean’ and ‘perfect’ than anything I’ve known before.
PETER: Yes. The stand-out qualities of a PCE is both the purity and the perfection of the actual world and the utter sensuousness of the experience affirms that this purity and perfection are innate qualities of the physical universe, i.e. one isn’t swooning around in some aggrandized or altered state in meta-physical imaginary world.
RESPONDENT: The thought that life can be actually lived this way 24/7 is interesting indeed. ;-)
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: None of this has the purity of a PCE, but it’s getting closer.
PETER: Yes if you are having a PCE, then second-best is second best, but if your not having a PCE then second-best is a darn sight better than wasting one’s time wallowing around feeling miserable about having to be here or about doing whatever it is that one is doing or needs to do, or feeling bitter about and being antagonistic towards one’s fellow human beings.
RESPONDENT: I think dissolving the ‘inner family’ has made it possible to travel more lightly, and there is less sense of ownership (including ownership of ‘my’ ‘own’ consciousness) than there was before. More and more often I’m experiencing myself as the actual physical universe experiencing *itself* through my eyes and ears and heart and mind. If this has any mystical connotations, it shouldn’t.
PETER: It took me a bit to come to appreciate that if ‘I’ had the feeling – as in the affective experience – that ‘I’ was ‘the actual physical universe experiencing *itself* through my eyes and ears and heart and mind’ then I was but a step away from delusion. The way to check this out for yourself is to compare whatever it is you are feeling against how you experienced yourself in a PCE. This way you can determine for yourself whether what you are feeling is on-track or whether or not you might be wandering off track. It’s not for nothing that it is essential to be attentive to both one’s so-called bad feelings and one’s so-called good feelings.
RESPONDENT: It’s more like amazement that this universe and life on earth have evolved from a chemical soup into increasingly complex forms of organic sludge and finally into self-aware and world-aware creatures. There’s a simple delight in being conscious of it all, and an amazement that it should exist at all.
PETER: Yes, it is indeed amazing and magical and delight-filled when you take a clear-eyed look at it. And to think that there are those who claim that this amazing physical actuality is but an illusion and that their own inner affectations and imaginations are the only true reality.
PETER: There is a world of difference between cultivating a seemingly new identity as a ‘watcher’ to ‘the human drama’ and being actually free of the human condition. At one stage when the list was quiet I posted a series of critiques of the spiritual tradition of creating a new ‘watcher’ identity based on my experience of being a watcher and how this translates in practical down-to-earth lived practice. They may be of interest to you.
RESPONDENT: Now, how did the PCE reveal anything about the origin, composition, extent, or duration of the actual universe?
PETER: As I said above, in a PCE it is clearly experienced that there is nothing at all mystical, nor spiritual about this actual world we live in and this direct sensual experience of actuality is all the more magical because it is devoid of the fears and fantasies of mysticism. What the PCE reveals is that if one at all aspires to live the PCE 24/7 then, when one inevitably returns to being ‘normal’, there is much work to be done – one needs to set out about becoming free of all mystical and spiritual beliefs, no matter what the consequences. Seemingly the most difficult of these beliefs for many is the belief that the physical universe is ephemeral rather than being substantive, as in eternal and infinite.
It’s not for nothing that the first topic I wrote about in my journal was death.
RESPONDENT: How can the few cubic centimetres of brain inside your skull ever be privy to the ultimate nature of something that is too vast (and too small) for the senses to perceive directly, or the mind to reason about?
PETER: ‘The few cubic centimetres of brain’ inside this skull is the matter of the universe as much as is the plant beside my computer, as much as is the soil in which the plant is growing and as much as is the pot in which it is growing. Contrary to common belief and one’s own atavistic feeling, human flesh and blood bodies are not alien to, or separate from, the physical universe – they are in fact animate matter and our very mortality ensures that we – as what we are not ‘who’ we think and feel we are – are inseparable from the physical universe.
To propose that these few centimetres of matter with its millions upon millions of sensory receptors is incapable of making sense of this unfiltered sensory input during a PCE is to denigrate the magnificence and the wonder of the physical universe – not only can these few centimetres of matter make sense of what it is physically sensing but it can also be aware not only of the matter that it is sensing but also be aware that it is aware that it is sensing – or to be aware that it was not being aware if that was the case at the time.
RESPONDENT: I start from the position that there is an actual universe that is mind-bendingly immense in its scope.
PETER: I do appreciate that thinking about the infinite of the universe is a mind-bending exercise and a therefore appears to be a futile one. In a PCE, however, one can directly experience the infinitude of the universe because not only does ‘my’ egocentric view of the world disappear but ‘my’ atavistic anthropocentric beliefs about the nature of the universe disappear as well.
Because I remembered having had such an experience, I followed Richard’s lead and set about patiently dismantling both ‘my’ egocentric view of the world as well as ‘my’ atavistic anthropocentric beliefs about the nature of the universe so as to be more able to experience the actuality of the infinitude of the universe. Another hint I can pass on is that if one puts one’s ‘self’-centredness aside for a while and muses about the infinitude of the physical universe then such contemplation may occasion the onset of a PCE – but as you would know such musings can also bring about an ASC so I am usually somewhat hesitant in recommending such experiments to those who still retain a fascination for things mystical.
RESPONDENT: An infinitesimal fraction of existing facts, existing actualities, are directly knowable by us.
PETER: This is what the mystics would have us believe.
Human beings have thus far done an amazing job in exploring the inanimate and animate matter that is this planet and by developing instruments they have been able to do so in microscopic and macroscopic detail. The development of the telescope in its various forms has extended this exploration to an area of some 12 billion light years’ diameter around this planet and the development of rocketry has seen human beings journey to the moon some 40 years ago. All of this that was unknown and hence inexplicable and mysterious to earlier human beings is now known to be fact.
Whilst there can be no doubt that there is more to be discovered and that more will be discovered, sufficient has already been discovered to put paid to the superstitions and myths that gave credence to mystical and spiritual beliefs … but apparently not for those human beings who desperately cling on to these beliefs, come what may.
RESPONDENT: The portion that is knowable to us is seen ‘through a glass darkly’ as it were, distorted by sensory limitations, conceptual models, and sheer cognitive power.
PETER: Again this is what the mystics would have us believe. Their presumption is that there is ‘something’ mysterious in the universe that is by its very supernatural nature beyond detection by human perception or instrumentation and beyond our limited understanding. As Paul Davies says in the quoted passage below
What the PCE reveals is that there is another world other than the affective human world of grim reality but this world is not a mystical creation, it is a magical fairytale like actuality, this actual world is not a metaphysical world, it is nothing other than a physical world, this actual world is not ephemeral, it is perpetually ever-changing … and that this actual world can only be sensately experienced when one’s affective and imaginary faculties cease ruling the roost.
RESPONDENT: The temporary abeyance of the instinctual passions that produce ‘self’-hood (and all of its illusions and delusions) enables a stunningly clear perception of our little slice of actuality, including the mind that perceives it, but it does not remove our limitations entirely. It does not magically make the entire universe knowable. That in itself smells of mysticism.
PETER: You are bending over backwards in trying to make a PCE something that it is not – one does not become omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient when one has a pure consciousness experience nor when one is actually free of the human condition.
I have had PCEs in several parts of this planet that I can remember – several at sea, once in the mountains, once by a lake, several in the hills, several on beaches and so on. Whilst they definitely occurred in a specific location relative to say where the nearest town was, or were the sea was or which hemisphere I was in, I never had the experience that I was experiencing ‘my little slice of actuality’ for I was cognizant of the fact that in the infinitude of the universe I was no-where in particular – in other words both ‘my’ egocentric view of reality and ‘my’ atavistic anthropocentric view of the universe had temporarily ceased.
This is how I described one such set of experiences –
And this is how you described a similar experience –
RESPONDENT: For somebody who is being encouraged to investigate such matters, it is just not good enough to say: it was revealed to me, and I just knew.
PETER: Well you have reported having had a PCE so it is up to you to do what you will with the experience.
What pure consciousness experiences revealed to me was that there is a paradisiacal actual world that exists right under my nose as it were, whenever ‘I’ temporarily cease to exist. A PCE is not an experience of ‘me’ feeling myself to be omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient – on the contrary, all questions about the meaning of life simply dissolved because the meaning of life was readily apparent all around wherever I looked.
As a normal person, what ‘I’ did was follow Richard’s lead and began to question and investigate all of the facets of the human condition that stood in the way of me being happy and which caused me to intentionally or inadvertently cause harm to others. In the course of doing so I have unveiled a good deal about the workings of the human condition and how it operates as ‘me’, an experiential understanding based on conducting my own down-to-earth investigations.
And as I said, the first of the beliefs that I investigated and wrote about was the mystical belief that the physical universe is ephemeral, a belief which leaves the door open to the possibility that ‘I’ may well be constant, as in deathless.
RESPONDENT: Now, how did the PCE reveal anything about the origin, composition, extent, or duration of the actual universe?
PETER: As I said above, in a PCE it is clearly experienced that there is nothing at all mystical, nor spiritual about this actual world we live in and this direct sensual experience of actuality is all the more magical because it is devoid of the fears and fantasies of mysticism.
RESPONDENT: Sure, but that doesn’t answer the question as I intended it. I’ve been thinking a lot about Richard’s answers to my questions re cosmogony & cosmology, trying to make sense of it all. I wanted to know how the extent and duration of the actual universe can be directly experienced. The closest I can come to figuring out is simply that the mental constructs that sustain concepts of finiteness and temporality just drop away, revealing themselves to be figments of the imagination. Is that in line with what you’re saying?
PETER: I don’t know whether or not you have read my journal, but if you have you will notice that nowhere do I mention that what I wrote about was all spontaneously revealed to me in a PCE and nor do I say ‘this is what Richard has revealed to me’.
What I wrote about, and quite passionately wrote about, was the nitty-gritty process of how I became virtually free of the human condition (including the belief, be it religious, spiritual, mystical, cosmological or whatever else, that the universe had a beginning). In other words, what I wrote about was how a normal bloke with a full set of beliefs, feelings and passions came to understand, both intellectually and experientially, how the human condition operates such that I could get to the stage of being virtually free of the human condition. And as near as I can remember it, this is how ‘I’, as a normal person, applied my thinking to the matter at hand.
Regardless of what I remembered having experienced in a PCE, as normal bloke (being ‘me’) I found myself confronted by two diametrically opposite propositions – whether the universe is infinite and eternal or whether it is an ephemeral and transient construction.
Faced with this either/or choice, what I found I had to do was apply some practical common sense thinking in order to think it through so as to come to a conclusion one way or another. This meant making an evaluation of each of the alternatives based on my own common sense and my own life experiences as well as taking note of the experience of others. The next thing I needed to take into account were the consequences that would result in deciding one way or the other.
As you know, my experience of the failures of the spiritual beliefs that proposed that the physical universe is ephemeral in nature was that both the Western version and the Eastern version are but fairy tales. When I looked into cosmology I came to understand it is, as it says it is, the branch of science devoted to studying the ‘evolution’ of the universe. As birth and death is essential to the evolutionary process it became clear to me that cosmology is the branch of science devoted to the study of the birth and death of the universe. When I took this on board and did a bit of reading about the fields of research of cosmology it became aware that cosmology was a metaphysical science and not an empirical science.
As I dug into the history of cosmology a bit, I came to understand that cosmology has its roots in ancient spiritual beliefs and that it was a branch of science dedicated to finding proofs that would in turn substantiate one crucial aspect of spiritual belief – the belief that matter is ephemeral. Cosmological theories, as distinct from the rigorously-empirical and applied sciences, that propose that matter is ephemeral serve to ‘leave the door open’ to the core of spiritual belief – that matter is ephemeral and only consciousness is substantial and enduring – or in religious belief, that the universe is in fact an ephemeral creation.
When I came to understand this, the consequences of continuing to believe that the universe is ephemeral meant that I would continue to believe ‘I’ was, in truth, a substantial and enduring ‘being’ – that the spiritualists are right and this meant, for me, meant either staying on the spiritual path or, if I remained open to them being right, to stop searching and settle for being agnostic.
On the other hand, for me to consider that the universe was indeed infinite and eternal, i.e. it had no beginning to it, meant that the matter that is this universe is substantive and lasting and that consciousness arose out of this matter. Thinking this through meant that the consciousness of this material body only exists as long as this body is alive – physical death is the end of ‘me’ as consciousness – there is no after-life for ‘me’, as consciousness, after this material body dies. Death is the end – kaput, finito, no more, oblivion, finish. An infinite and eternal universe clearly has drastic consequences for ‘me’..
Firstly it meant that if I considered that the universe was indeed infinite and eternal I would be at odds with everyone else who believed in creationist theories, spiritual realms, supernatural forces or cosmological theories – including those agnostics who remained open to any such beliefs. But even more drastic than that, in an infinite and eternal material universe ‘I’, as the consciousness of this corporeal mortal body, have only one life to live and this made me realize this is the only moment, the only place and the only circumstances that I can actually experience being alive. This sudden in-my-face realization meant that I could no longer procrastinate, no longer equivocate, no longer postpone, no longer avoid the fact that I was not yet fully alive.
So I summarized my choice as either ‘more of the same’ – the spiritual path which I had already discovered to be shonky and more of not feeling fully alive – or embark on course of action that meant radical change. ‘More of the same’ was not an option for me so I took the option of radical and irrevocable change, which as you know, meant focussing my total attentiveness on being here in the world of the senses with the sole aim of becoming both happy and harmless. And what followed as a consequence of this decision was a progressive waning of all spiritual, mystical, metaphysical and supernatural beliefs, which in turn opened the door to many PCEs whereby I had direct experiences of the infinitude of the universe.
I wanted to lay out my thinking about this issue as thus far most discussions on this list regarding this matter seem to concentrate on the details of the either/or case rather than consider the broader issues and over-arching consequences. If I can summarize, it is a way of thinking that allowed me to get to the intellectual and existential core of the issue as quickly as possible, rather than get bogged down in details and sidetracks.
RESPONDENT: I will be interested to know how did you manage to replace it ‘with a rock-solid sensibleness and sensuous ‘self’-less experiencing of the actual world ‘
PETER: If you set about questioning and demolishing your spiritual beliefs and begin backing out of the spiritual world there are several things that can happen to you. Some people I know who have had a taste of actualism have backed out of the excesses of following spiritual belief and gone back to being normal in the ‘real’ world again. They have benefited from this as they are more able to cope with the ‘real’ world as they are a bit more sensible and don’t go round with their head stuck in the clouds so much.
Others who have been initially attracted to actualism seem to imagine or feel that by abandoning their cherished spiritual beliefs they will only end up in cold stark reality or even in some sort of hellish realm – the traditional old dualistic thinking whereby the opposite of human morality of good being the human morality of bad, the opposite of the human created grim reality being a human created Greater Reality, the opposite of the human-imagined God being the human imagined Devil, and so on. In order to allay this fear it is vital to remember that what is on offer in actualism is the opportunity to step out of grim reality and its antidotal spiritual unreality and step into the actual world.
Those who are committed actualists are those who have a memory of a pure consciousness experience as a guide or have managed to induce a PCE by their own intensive inquires into the nature of their own psyche and/or the human condition in general. This ‘self’-less experience is what I am referring to when I said ‘a rock-solid sensibleness and sensuous ‘self’-less experiencing of the actual world’. If you haven’t had this experience yet, it will come as an inevitable result of committing yourself 100% to the process of actualism – one cannot demolish one’s social programming without at some stage bringing about a temporary crashing of the whole psychic and psychic faculty leaving only a bare awareness and sensuous delight as one’s experiencing.
The only proviso I would make, and it is an important one, is that it is vital to have substantially eliminated one’s dearly-held spiritual beliefs lest one ends up having an altered state of consciousness experience whereby ‘I’ claim the experience of perfection and purity as ‘mine’, resulting in totally narcissistic feelings of Godliness, divine love, omnipresence, omnipotency and the like.
Some suggestion come to mind as to how to encourage the ‘replacing the fickleness and ‘self’-centredness of ‘my’ normal cerebral and emotional experiencing with a rock-solid sensibleness and sensuous ‘self’-less experiencing of the actual world we humans live in.’
PETER: One needs to start to become sensately aware of the physical marvellousness of this planet we live on – the extraordinary abundance and variety of life, the astounding things that human intelligence has fashioned solely from the matter of this planet, the ever-increasing amazing safety, comfort, leisure and pleasure that human beings should now be enjoying instead wasting their time bitching and complaining about life, arguing, competing and fighting with each other, feeling needy and greedy and being sorrowful and miserable.
One needs to crank up wonder and amazement at this physical infinite and eternal universe, whilst being aware not to get into feelings of awe or gratitude. One needs to devote time for sensual contemplation, whilst being aware not to get into self-centred meditation. One needs to really take on board how utterly senseless it is to waste one’s time – meaning this very moment, the only moment you can experience being alive – by feeling miserable, bored, worried, sad, lonely, upset, annoyed, resentful, angry, God-realized, omnipotent, etc., when it has been startlingly obvious to everyone at some stage in their lives what a paradise this actual physical world really is.
Actualism is about being here in this physical sensual paradise where we flesh and blood humans actually live – 180 degrees opposite to the traditional escapism of going ‘there’ to an imaginary metaphysical paradise supposedly peopled by spirits, souls, Gods, Godmen, Goddesses and the like. It takes quite some verve to dismiss all of the traditional wisdom of humanity as tried and failed, decrepit and well passed its used-by-date but a clear-eyed overview of the senseless woes of humanity, both past and present, should leave a reasonably intelligent, caring and concerned person no other option but to take the path never travelled before.
RESPONDENT: Do I have reasons to doubt Richard as such an extension?
PETER: For what it is worth, I can assure you that Richard does in fact exist and he does in fact type all of his words – with two fingers. Richard is not extending himself through his words with some psychic energy if that is what you mean by ‘such an extension’. The words mean what the words mean, i.e. they convey information ... for anyone who is interested. There is no mystical message behind the words or coming through the words or hidden in the words.
There is only a message from some fellow human beings to say you can stop fighting now, the struggle is over. It’s time to step out of the real world, and the spiritual world, and leave your ‘self’ behind where it belongs. It’s time to bail out, desert the ship if you will. We are not saying go back to grim reality, we are saying come here to the actual world.
Every body has had a glimpse of the actual world at sometime in their life. It might just have been a sudden sensation of déja vu – a heightening of the senses when you suddenly become aware of the sensation of the wind on your skin or suddenly become are of the sounds all around you as though the volume was suddenly turned up. During such heightened awareness every thing is perceived as being crystal clear and crisp, as if a veil has been removed.
There is a freshness to everything and everyone, as if you are here for the first time. There is also a friendly familiarity and an immediacy that is a recognition that I, this flesh and blood body, belong in this actual world – whereas ‘he’ or ‘she’ – ‘who’ I thought and felt I was only moments before – can only ever be alien to this actual, physical world. This temporary ‘self’-less sensual experience of perfection and purity is what is known as a pure consciousness experience.
In a ‘self’-less experience there is a comfortable ease and an intimate sensuousness to being here. The experience is sensate-only, sensational in fact – the feel of the air on your skin, the flamboyant colours, the sounds all around you. There is a bare awareness of being here. There is an intimacy with one’s fellow human beings for they are precisely that – fellow human beings. Life in all its forms on this planet becomes fascinating, an inexplicable wonder.
There is a crystal clear clarity, a vibrant physicality to things. Objects are seen to be not passive, dead or dull, for they are all fashioned from the material of the universe and fashioned by the only intelligent life forms in the universe – human beings – and one marvels at the ingenuity of that intelligence. Not only do things become things to wonder at, but everyday events have an unrehearsed spontaneity that is fascinating to be a part of.
It is as though you are suddenly seeing and experiencing the world as it actually is, when there is no ‘me’ to prevent this sensual experiencing from happening. ‘He’ and his worries and moods are left behind as it were, it is as though a burden has been lifted from one’s shoulders, as if one has woken up from a bad dream or nightmare and as though you have entered another dimension – the actual sensate-luxurious world that this world really is.
The ongoing richness of sensate experiencing, be it touching, hearing, seeing, tasting or smelling, confirms the actuality of this world. This universe is perfect, it is incomparable in its majesty, being infinite it is unsurpassable, being eternal it is peerless. Being benign it is faultless, without malice. Being fascinating it is enchanting, without sorrow. It is the ongoing 24 hrs a day, every day, experiencing of the actual world that is on offer on this list, complete with a method to make this possible.
If this is of interest to you, then it pays to read what is written carefully, to make the effort to understand in order that you can take the necessary action such that you can become virtually free of malice and sorrow ... because it is obvious that it is impossible to become actually free from the human condition whilst nursing malice and sorrow in one’s bosom. If one is unwilling to make this level of ‘self’-sacrifice, then forget the whole business.
The process of actualism is pragmatic and down-to-earth and in no way theoretical, imaginary or spirit-ual. Actualism is about becoming happy and harmless in the world as-it-is, with people as-they-are.
RESPONDENT: Peter ‘sees’. Others ‘theorize’ or ‘imagine’. Hhhmm. I see.
PETER: (...) The third alternative to being a normal suffering being or a supernormal Being, is to set upon a path of totally eliminating ‘who’ I think and feel I am in order to reveal ‘what I am’ – a free and autonomous, i.e. beholden to no-one, flesh and blood body brimming with sensory receptors that enable a direct sensual intimacy with the physical world, i.e. not in any way separate from actuality.
Everybody has had, at some stage in their lives, temporary experiences of this sensate-only experiencing of actuality whereby this direct sensual intimacy is so paramount that it briefly purges any feeling of separateness. These ‘self’-less pure consciousness experiences far surpass any feelings of Oneness and Godliness generated by the altered state of consciousness experiences so lauded in the spiritual world because they are a sensately-evident experience of the wonder of the perfection and purity of the actual world and not a dream-like ‘self’-centred delusion.
These pure consciousness experiences are often described as nature experiences and I certainly, with hindsight, had quite a few in my ‘normal’ lifetime. There are a number of experiences that stand out in my memory, some of them drug-induced but others that simply happened by themselves. There are memories of particularly intimate moments with other human beings or of particularly friendly, familiar or comfortable places, memories that fuelled my discontent with life as-it-was because they offered the tantalizing evidence that there was more to life than being normal ... or having to become God. These memories stand out as experiences of utter peacefulness and perfection as the utterly sensual delight of being here as a flesh and blood body in this cornucopian paradise temporarily obliterated ‘me’ and ‘my’ petty worries and ‘self’-centred feelings.
A pure consciousness experience is an exceptional experience for two noticeable aspects. Firstly, there is suddenly and clearly no ‘me’ and ‘my’ petty worries and ‘self’-centred feelings existing – the experience is one of a bare and clear consciousness. Secondly, there is suddenly and clearly a noticeably heightened sensate input – the experience is one of a direct and explicit sensuousness. It is as if one is seeing the actuality of things for the first time with a friendly inclusiveness, rather than a fearful guardedness. It is as if one is hearing sounds that were previously muted or non-existent. Touch comes to the fore as the feeling of air, water and objects on one’s skin is felt as a direct and sensual intimacy. Taste becomes distinctive as one savours the delights of food rather than devours it. One becomes effortlessly aware of aromas and smells that only a moment before did not seem to exist.
In a pure consciousness experiences all of this is effortless – it is not contrived, concocted or imagined. While the experience at first can seem otherworldly, it is this heightened sensate experience – the pure sensuous delight of being alive in an obviously physical world – that provides the evidence that a PCE is an explicit and ‘self’-less experience of the actuality of the physical universe we live in and not most definitely a dream-like non-physical other-world.
What I was attempting to convey to No 4 was that actualism is 180 degrees opposite to spiritualism in that one needs to cultivate and develop a sensate sensual awareness of the physical world we live in rather than turn away from, resent, reject and deny all physicality as is taught in spirituality. This is why I was writing about the importance of cultivating sensualness while demolishing one’s ‘self’, lest one ends up in a stark meaningless reality or a grandiose Greater Reality.
RESPONDENT: Thank you very much for your reply. I would like to let you know something about my current position. (I hope you will understand my English) Five years ago some questions found their way to my consciousness after smoking a couple of joints on my own.
PETER: I have no trouble understanding your English. Thus far the writings of actualists are only available in English apart from some of Vineeto’s correspondence in German. There are some who complain about Richard’s use of uncommon words but personally I found it useful to consult a dictionary – the very process of having to seek an accurate understanding of the meaning of words aided the process of thinking about exactly what he means by what he writes.
As for smoking a couple of joints, many a seeker has been launched on the path to seeking answers to questions by smoking a couple of joints or the like. In fact the whole of the current fashion for Eastern religion in the West can be put down to those who first went to the East some thirty years ago seeking the permanent drug experience. My being suckered into Eastern religion was due to a dark night of the soul experience but taking MDA did unwittingly give me my first substantial and memorable Pure Consciousness Experience.
As I have written in my journal, I also found marijuana a useful tool to provide a glimpse of the human condition from the outside as it where. My only comment is that it is imperative to use such glimpses with intelligence so as to investigate what it is that is preventing you from being free of the human condition in toto, 24 hours a day. Its use for any other motives such as mindlessly getting ‘out of it’ or inducing ‘self’-aggrandizing spiritual fantasies is a complete and utter waste of time.
Having said all that about drugs, their use is certainly not a requisite to explore the human condition or to induce pure consciousness experiences. The most direct and most effective way to become free of the human condition – in fact the only way that has been proven to work thus far – is to conduct your own investigation of the human condition in action as it is universally manifest in all human beings including and especially as ‘you’ – who you think and feel you are as opposed to what you are.
And just a reminder that there are three I’s altogether. What you are, the flesh and blood body called No 35, is the one who is seeking freedom from the parasitical psychological and psychic entity – ‘who’ you think you are as well as ‘who’ you feel you are. But you will know this from your own direct experience from your memories of past pure consciousness experiences ... or when you next have one.
PETER to Alan: It is delightful to read of your PCEs or peak experiences on your website. For me the difference between a PCE and a Satori or Religious Experience is quite clear and describable. The Spiritual Experience as usually induced by meditation, the Master’s presence or some other trigger is accompanied by Heartful feelings of love or bliss or oneness. These experiences are sublime, seductive, ‘self’ gratifying and if persisted with can ultimately create that grand Self. There are few more pious than those who have tasted success and power on the spiritual path. The PCE on the other hand is sensual, sensate and lacking in any emotional baggage. There is no ‘self’ as an interpreter, censor or spoiler. All is evidenced by the senses to be pure, perfect, delightful. And my intelligence is freed of any emotions and feelings – thoughts and thinking become benign clear and concise – free of malice and sorrow. This of course makes the need for morals, ethics, or any need for ‘self’ control redundant. With intelligence operating thus ‘I’ am seen for what ‘I’ am – the very cause of suffering and malice.
This physical universe of people, events and things are seen to be perfect and it is obvious that it is only what goes on in our heads – the disease called the Human Condition that is manifest in each of us as a separate, personal ‘self’ – that is the cause of the appalling malice and sorrow that humans exude. What has always been avoided up until now is the fact that what goes on in the heart is the real problem – the loves, loyalties, passions, ideals and beliefs that humans are willing to kill or die for. The problem lies in feelings and emotions and the PCE confirms this experientially.
That is why it is so good to write of these experiences – the ordinary everyday experiences when experienced by our senses free of emotions and feelings do indeed become extraordinary, clear, bright, gay, delightful, friendly, benign and, to use that wonderful word, ambrosial. Enlightenment lies in the opposite direction – in the world of spirits, gods, feelings and emotions. What a delight to come to my senses – what an achievement. It still seems unbelievable. I still keep pinching myself and checking out this new way of living but it is perfect, flawless, actual, and continually amazing.
PETER to Alan: Good to discuss with you these matters. I think the operative word here is pure, as I have discovered. The PCE offers a glimpse or window out from the ‘real’ world everyone is born into (and therefore assumes this to be all there is), and suddenly one finds oneself in the unimaginable actual fairytale-like physical universe. My experience was that each time this occurred I was increasingly able to feel comfortable, at ease, as this new ‘me’ – this flesh and blood body. And every time these glimpses had a different experience to them as I explored carefully the actual physical universe that ‘I’ had normally perceived (like every other human being) to be a place of sadness, fear and aggression. Initially the contrast between the actual, benign, safe, and delightful, and the imaginary world of churning emotions, raging hormones and consuming passions is so startling that the memory is either buried or the experience appears wondrous and awesome. With a sincere intent operating to want to live the experience of the PCE every moment, 24 hrs. every day I was able to use the time when I wasn’t actually here living the PCE to root around in the Human Condition – to investigate, discuss, read, think and contemplate on all those instinctual urges and social Truths, Wisdoms and accepted beliefs that made up the particular psychological and psychic entity that dwelled in me and which had taken ‘me’ over. No wonder humans feel alien on the planet.
So, for me the PCE sparkled like a diamond, and when it wasn’t there it meant that I wasn’t here – I was being angry, sad, impatient, proud, humble, fearful or whatever. So then I had something to do – something to firstly acknowledge existed in me and then work to eliminate it by whatever means appropriate. Neither repression or expression will satisfy anyone with sufficient sincere intent. Elimination by contemplation – rooting around to eliminate the very cause, the source. And then to have confirmation by the actual experience of emotions and feelings (both the Good and the Bad) disappearing like a strange fantasy that once played out inside my head and was taken by me to be actual by the hormonal reactions in this body. To experience it working is fascinating beyond normal belief. But then the actual always is.
I found in the end the best and surest way to invoke a PCE was to deliberately, steadfastly, and bloody-mindedly clean myself up. Free myself of the disease called the Human Condition – that mutually agreed acceptance that we are above all ‘feeling’ beings, the only trouble is the hallowed feelings are, at the core, malice and sorrow. Competition, aggression, revenge, retribution, violence, murder, rape, war and torture not to mention sadness, resentment, sorrow, depression, despair and suicide are the inevitable result of being a normal human. It was so good that I always had something to do – to clear the dirt from the diamond – to clean myself up so that I can take my rightful place, play my delightful role, doing what is happening now, as a happy and harmless human free of malice and sorrow. Confident that malice and sorrow have had their day.
But it is excellent to have something that works, a way out of the insanity of misery and violence, fear and aggression.
So that is my experience, I have written about it before but it’s nice to have the chance to write of it again. It is such an adventure and can be both weird and fearful business particularly being among the first to pioneer a method of becoming actually free.
ALAN: One thing I cannot explain is why I have not had a PCE for some time. My life now is, continuously, very close to a PCE, in that there is no (or very little) ‘self’ in existence. I experience my life as being 99% perfect. Every activity is a pleasure. What is missing is that extra sparkle and vivacity – the 360 degree awareness. Can one little connection in the brain make all that difference? Do you still experience PCEs?
PETER: Following on from what I was saying above, I found a curious thing happening in the last 12 months. At first the path to freedom was packed with wild and wonderful adventures, realizations, yippees and wows as a lifetime of beliefs were challenged and dismantled. With the realizations came moments of clarity – Pure Consciousness Experiences of both clarity of the brain and of the physical senses. Given the contrast to my ‘normal’ dull, or ‘spiritual’ head in the clouds states of being, the PCEs had an intensity and excitement of new discovery attached to them. As I more and more lived a virtual freedom wherein my days were 99% perfect the stunningness of PCEs dwindled, as did their numbers. At times I missed them and their excitement but I could not deny that everyday life was getting better all the time, and I came to see that these experiences too would have to go. I would often feel a frustration and missing in the beginning and was wary of returning to a stark normalness. At one point all did seem stark in a ‘normal’ world stripped of feelings, meaning and excitement but that soon passed. I just figured that what I wanted was to be actually free of malice and sorrow in the world-as-it-is, with people as they are, as this flesh and blood body only – if that meant what often felt like crossing a desert, being bored, or losing excitement, then so be it. It became obvious that when the dust settled only that which is actual would be left and, as such, my attention and focus became increasingly on that which is actual – that which is sensately experienced as opposed to that which is merely cerebral or affective.
What has replaced the PCE lately is a growing sense of normalness. Not ‘normal’ as I was 2 years ago, but an utter contentment and delight at the normal things of life – food, a walk, a bit of drawing, a TV-show with my feet up on the couch, a chat with Vineeto, wheeling the trolley around the supermarket trying to invent new things to eat. The things people usually see as boring, futile, spacing out, uncreative, unexciting, chores, duty, work, unproductive, etc. An ease has pervaded all, a perfection that is palpable, down-to-earth and increasingly rock-solid.
When the mundane becomes magic you know that freedom is your destiny.
So, Alan, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that your life ‘now is, continuously, very close to a PCE, in that there is no (or very little) self in existence.’
ALAN: On further consideration I find that I have, indeed, been ‘burying my head in the sand’ over the last few weeks. Much as I have enjoyed what I have been doing, I was aware there was something ‘missing’, an incompleteness – and that ‘incompleteness’, I now find, was the ceasing to investigate and actualize what it is to be alive as this body, at this moment in time. It is so, so, easy and attractive to try to live a ‘normal’ life that one is easily seduced into ignoring what is possible.
And yet, all the time, running in the background, was this nagging doubt, the niggling thought – ‘this is not what it was meant to be’. What I have been doing, the last few weeks, is wanting to ‘belong’. It is hard work, very hard work, to go against the tide of ‘humanity’, to turn one’s back on all that one knows and loves, to ‘boldly go where no man (except Richard) has gone before’.
PETER: Again from my experience, at the start of the path to Actual Freedom, the difference between the PCE and ‘normal’ experience are black and white, startlingly different. The further one progresses on the path this difference diminishes as one’s very ‘self’ is incrementally diminished by the very process. For an actualist, the trick is always, when one is experiencing a PCE, not to sit back and go ‘wow’ but root around a bit to see what it is that one needs to do when the ‘normal’ state re-establishes and ‘I’ resume control. This then gives ‘me’ something to do and then ‘I’ experiment with, and implement, ways to remove what is causing me to be unhappy and causing harm or ripples to other people. In my experience the causing harm or ripples is the most easily avoided and most life-changing to implement. It’s what the spiritual avoid by transcendence and what the actualist will tackle with sincere intent.
The PCE thus becomes one’s standard to achieve by stubborn bloody minded effort, rather than a state to achieve by grace of something or other. This means that one cleans oneself up as much as possible – this is the work to be done. And this involves change, not just superficially but fundamentally. A way to look at it is – ‘I’ got myself into this mess and ‘I’ need to clean up the mess and ‘get off stage’ in order that I as this flesh and blood body can be here. This is ‘my’ job and there are no short cuts and no quick fixes.
ALAN: As I write this, I am again entering that magical world of the PCE, this world where all is actual and I am the doing of what is happening. What joy, what delight! There is an overwhelming sense of ‘I’m back’ and an ongoing theme of ‘just do it’. I became aware of ‘me’ chattering – the constant ‘struggle’ to find a way, to do what is right, to try to live the perfection – and ‘I’ cannot do it. Everything is SO LOUD and so vibrant.
PETER: Yes indeed. In the PCE one’s senses are heightened to the extreme. For me the most outstanding change that happens is an all-round all-inclusive soft perception – a sensate-only awareness such that it is as though everything has been turned up or a filter has been removed. Sound becomes louder and distinctly separate, colours more vibrant and distinct, one almost swims through the air, food is a delicious fusion of varied tastes, sex is a sensual, intimate play, thinking is a fascinating freewheeling process – a softness and palpable friendliness pervades all around.
And the more one has of these PCEs, and the more work one has done to diminish one’s ‘self’, the more normal and liveable they become.
ALAN: After the above experience, I went out for a long walk. It was such a wonderful, bright, crisp, winter’s morning, that I just had to be part of it, Several miles later, my deliberations had led to no further conclusion, except this overwhelming sense of ‘just do it’. Evidence shows that, for the last ten days, I have again been ‘sticking my head in the sand’. The tearful episodes have abated, but the ‘sparkle’, the joie de vivre, has again been missing. No one said it was going to be easy – do I have the necessary intestinal fortitude to proceed. Time will tell – or, I could ‘just do it’ as ‘seen’ in that PCE – it is that simple.
The phrase I particularly find relevant is – ‘glancing lightly with caressing eyes’. Normally people associate the idea of awareness as being ‘on-guard’ – looking out intensely through the eyes, listening intently with the ears, etc. Spiritual people associate awareness as cutting off from the physical senses, disassociating from the world and focusing one’s attention ‘inside’ on what they are feeling and thinking. What is being described here is the third alternative.
In the early months on the path to Actual Freedom I was intensely involved in what I was feeling and thinking – ‘a psychic search-and-destroy mission’ was how I termed it. This introspection was not selective as to the good and bad feelings as is the spiritual practice but was concerned with all emotion-backed thoughts and all passions. I was determined to eliminate all that was in the road and stopping me being happy and harmless, and sincere intent is vital in this stage of the process. This process fairly rapidly bought on a state of Virtual Freedom – being virtually happy and virtually harmless.
What was then necessary was to abandon control, and abandon any notions I had of a ‘me’ being aware and simply let awareness happen by itself. This awareness is not ‘me’ being aware for this only serves to keep ‘me’ in existence. This is not an outer intense ‘on-guard’ awareness for this wariness only serves to keep the instinctual ‘me’ in existence as a fearful guarding entity. Naiveté is vital in this stage of the process, but beware of being gullible for the world is still as-it-is and people are still as-they-are – it is only me who is changing. It still necessitates keeping my wits about me and making a few practical adjustments now and again, but the emotions have all but disappeared from what would have been tumultuous events not so long ago.
Thus it is that more and more I can look with soft eyes at a friendly world, let my guard down, relax my defences, give up being in control and I, as this flesh and blood body, can be here in this actual world where I have always been.
Alan, I don’t know how relevant that is to your experience but it took Vineeto and I both months and months to get past the ‘looking back over the past weeks’ syndrome and I think it is something that is going to be par for the course for anyone on the path. It is the last fling of a habitual program of ‘me’ who delights in wallowing in past memories, even more so when nothing much is emotionally happening ... but it is a tenacious bugger. And feeling normal can feel as if something has gone wrong until one realizes that what we call life is actually a seamless flow of experiencing this moment – and any activity one is doing in this moment is normal. Eating is normal, typing is normal, sleeping is normal, going for a stroll is normal, sex is normal. It is how one is experiencing this moment of being alive that is of vital significance to an actualist.
Of course, once you know and understand and can empirically observe something, the illusion disappears and another ‘wheel falls off the cart’.
As you can see I’m trying to keep up with Vineeto’s metaphor rate – it’s a little competition that I always lag behind.
RESPONDENT: Intellectually I believe it through PCEs over many years ... the intellectual jig-saw puzzle is 100% complete ... with the sense that it is 100% ‘true’ and 100% ‘correct’... but I need to go further in an experiential way.
PETER: Just a point of clarification. A PCE is direct experience of the perfection of the actual world when, for a brief period, the ‘self’ is in temporary abeyance. It is only because there is no emotional memory of the experience that one intellectualizes it afterwards. My experience is that by employing honesty and rigorous recall one can remember the sensate-only experience. What I did was write about the sensate experiences whenever they occurred and jot down any insights I had at the time to look at later, when I returned to ‘normal’. This is particularly important if you haven’t anyone to talk to about your experiences and the Actual Freedom mailing list may be useful in this respect. PCEs are definitely not ‘sacred’ but they can be sufficiently rare as to not want to waste them, forget them or dismiss them. After all, the unabashed, naïve and explicit aim of an actualist is to live the PCE, 24 hrs. a day, every day.
RESPONDENT: One PCE in 1976 which lasted for a few hours was actually ‘only’ tantalizing Enlightenment... Divine Love. An extraordinary and powerful phantom that only fades to nothing but memories.
PETER: For an actualist is it essential, vital and critical to make the distinction between an ASC and a PCE. If you had an experience that was ‘tantalizing Enlightenment’, it was an ASC – an Altered State of Consciousness – whereby one’s consciousness or identity shifts to becoming the feeling experience of the universe, thus one feels Love, Divinity, Wholeness, Unity – one feels oneself to be Godly. This is most definitely not a PCE – a Pure Consciousness Experience. The only similarity is that one gets a glimpse of something other than the real world – in an ASC one gets to see a golden, glowing, self-fulfilling and self-aggrandizing dream world with you at the centre of it all. All seems an illusion including one’s body, as the heart literally bulges from the chest and poetic and loving thoughts surge through one’s brain. Yea, I’ve been there and done that, and it sucks. What alarmed me most was that I would end up yet another God-man which is the inevitable result of becoming Enlightened.
RESPONDENT: I particularly liked the way Richard explained AF as being like a blind man who has his other senses heightened... as if our energy is concentrated when appropriately focused or perhaps when our inner conflicts are not allowed to detract from the purity of the moment...???
PETER: My experience of the sensate-only experience of the PCE is that there is no psychological or psychic entity whatsoever inside this flesh and blood body. There is no ‘I’ being ‘focused’ or thinking rightly or concentrating on the senses. There is no inner conflict for there is no ‘inner’ at all. With no ‘inner’ there is then no ‘outside’ to experience as feeling separate from or feeling at-one with. All affective, self-centred feeling disappears as if by magic as do all self-centred neurotic thoughts. One is able to think, and my thoughts are usually one of amazement at the physical, magical fairy-tale like universe. The contemplation upon the fact that we sit somewhere on of a huge lump of rock that hurtles through space orbiting around a sun that gives life to plants and animals, that there are cycles like days, seasons, tides, life-cycles, that there are land masses, oceans, mountains, rivers, snow, rain, that the universe is infinite and eternal and that it is all happening right here, in this very moment. The senses are literally on stalks, imbibing the sensory input from all that is happening around – and we can see it, smell it, hear it taste it and touch it and we are made of the same stuff as all around. There is no separateness, rather one is directly and sensually intimate with everyone and everything. In the PCE one is literally the universe experiencing itself as a human being for there is no self, and definitely no Self, as an entity inside the body affectively experiencing an outer world – let alone passionately imagining an inner world.
The other thing that is startlingly obvious in a PCE is that amidst this always present perfection and purity of the actual world, the human species battle it out with each other to the point of waging horrendous wars, resent having to be here at all and are generally miserable to the point of depression.
When I met Richard I decided to devote my life to the eradication of the Human Condition within me. I wanted to live the experience of the PCE – the self-less state of purity and perfection – 24hrs. a day every day. So, I rolled up my sleeves and got stuck into the doing of it. It was so liberating to be able to do something about myself and my behaviour and not allow myself to be blindly led, not to believe what others told me was true, not to merely do what everyone else was doing simply because everyone else was doing it, not to keep doing things that didn’t work and not to be automatically driven and run by my instinctual passions. To become incrementally free of the Human Condition. The amazing thing about the doing of becoming actually free from malice and sorrow is that one becomes more happy and more harmless on the way. And one literally comes to one’s senses such that the senses do become heightened, one thinks less neurotic thoughts and feels less passionately driven by one’s instinctual drives. It is a win, win and more win situation on the path to actual freedom.
RESPONDENT: Now I only want 24 hour Actual Freedom.
PETER: Well, roll up your sleeves – there’s plenty to do! You are talking about ‘changing Human Nature’, but the best thing is – you only have to change yourself and nobody else. Changing everyone else is what most people aim for – a physical impossibility.
RESPONDENT: To relate and commiserate through all the problems and complaints ... but it is just as easy to gain humour, entertainment through co-operative exploration. This can be done for the same purpose ... to remove the aloneness?
It was fun recently to turn a whole group around from the type you described to a more sensitive and analytical social group. I simply acted without a self and watched how others became encouraged to do the same.
PETER: Are you saying you managed to facilitate a group Pure Consciousness Experience, or was it one of those group feel-good sessions?
My experience is that most people, when asked directly and individually, do not want to become happy and harmless for it involves becoming free of their passions for malice and sorrow. Further, most people who have a PCE quickly delete it from their memory for varying reasons, or claim the experience for themselves – as in ‘I feel like I am the universe and the UNIVERSE is ME!!!’
Groups are for groupies.
RESPONDENT: It has little to do with wanting to self-immolate and peace on earth ... this is, however, a possible by-product?
PETER: Then what you describe was not a self-less state, for in a PCE the utter insanity of human beings fighting horrendous wars and not living together in peace and harmony is startlingly apparent and glaringly obvious. So much so that a sincere human being will do all he or she can to facilitate living the PCE, 24 hrs a day, every day, for their own peace and for peace on earth. In the PCE it is evident that there is no self in existence as an alien entity or spirit inside one’s body. It is also evident that it is because of this absence, albeit temporary, that one’s sensate experience is one of purity and perfection for this is the very nature of the physical universe, the actual world. Thus in order to live the PCE, 24 hrs. a day, every day, self-immolation is an essential, not a by-product. Up until now the shamans have cornered and collared this experience for their own power and authority but Richard has broken the mould. A handful of pioneering actualists are following, which is what this list is about.
Peter’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.