Selected Correspondence Peter
RESPONDENT: For example, I have had this feeling that there is something wrong with feeling good all the time and so never attempted to feel good all the time. Then I looked at this in more detail and found that there was an additional objection to feeling good (at times) and what was behind that was a belief that as a human I was unworthy to feel good all the time. In other words it was an opinion of personal worth.
PETER: I remember well my father’s only advice to me was ‘be happy’. It was at the time when I had to make a decision as to what direction my studies would take – would it be technical, scientific – would I go on to university? His advice was ‘It doesn’t matter what you do in life – you can be a brain surgeon or a sewerage worker – just be happy’. Of course he didn’t tell me how to be happy and, as I was eventually to find out, nobody knows how to be happy all the time and nobody even expects to be happy all the time. I often mused, when I sat down to work out what course to do at university, would I have taken the 2 year course on ‘How to be Happy and Harmless’, and then followed it up with some vocational course. Yep, you bet I would have.
It’s just that it wasn’t available at the time so I bumbled off into marriage, family, business, career, spiritual searching for the next 30 years but never did find happiness. Then I ran into Richard and his method to become happy and harmless and took it on with Gusto. And I can report, as one of the first to take the ‘course’, that it works, that it works incrementally, and it is such fun on the way. You do lose your friends who stubbornly refuse to even consider doing something new and different with their lives, but what to do – stay miserable and grumpy, resentful and spiteful?
The issue of worthy or unworthy seems to me to be a bit of a side issue. The main question is what do you want to do with your life? If you want to be happy and harmless then nobody does it but you. Nobody judges you worthy or unworthy as in success, money, power and prestige or spiritual advancement, hours meditated, Guru followed, Satoris attained, etc. From early childhood we have been taught by the carrot and stick, right and wrong, good and bad – but always within society’s limits. Once anyone dares to step outside the limits – it’s ‘You can’t do that – Who do you think you are?’
Once the decision is made to devote oneself to being happy and harmless one simply ‘weathers the storm’, both in the ‘inner’ maelstrom that is often evident as one dismantles the beliefs that form one’s social identity and frees oneself from the instinctual passions, and in the reactions of one’s fellow human beings to the radical course you are taking. It’s all just a storm in a tea cup, or a bit of mental and emotional drama that is but par for the course. That’s where pure intent comes in – you can lift your head up out of what may seem a very convincing and real drama and remember the goal, what all the hard work is really about. I wrote a piece on Perfection for the Glossary of our web-site which I think may be useful to put the business of being a human being in 1999 in perspective –
Just a side reflection. Don’t you find it cute that it is not okay for a human being to be happy and harmless, free of malice and sorrow – i.e. perfect – but it is okay for a human being to call himself or herself a God, or God-realised? Such is the insidious perversity of the Human Condition. I could even say the atavistically insidious perversity but t’would border on baroque verbosity.
PETER: An actualist does not fall for the trap of merely pretending he or she is a flesh and blood body – adopting yet another identity or belief and thus ignoring or denying his or her unwanted or covered-up behaviour, actions, feelings and emotions. One doesn’t wave a magic wand by changing the name of things or learning a new language – the extinguishing of the instinctual passions that are ‘me’ at my core is the commitment of a life time.
RESPONDENT: Yes I do understand what you are saying, but in a way the first step into Actual Freedom is via a form of pretence, an imaginary virtual freedom. And we gather here on this list fully acknowledging our human tendency to fall into yet another senseless belief trap.
PETER: One cannot imagine what Actual Freedom is like. The closest we can come to experiencing Actual Freedom, while being normal, is in a PCE where, for a brief period of time, the ‘self’ is temporarily in abeyance and the actual world is directly and sensately experienced in all its fairy-tale like magnificence, purity and perfection.
However, what ‘I’ can do is to do the very best ‘I’ can to clean myself up of malice and sorrow such that I am happy and harmless 99% of the time, such that I go to bed at night time able to say I have had a perfect day, and knowing the next day will be perfect. This state of near-perfection, the best one can be while remaining a ‘self’ is called Virtual Freedom – virtual as in almost, more or less, near, effective, in effect, tantamount to, for all practical purposes. Virtual Freedom is not an imaginary state, but is the result of a lot of intense, focused and bloody-minded effort. It is a state where one lives beyond one’s wildest dreams anyway – it is beyond normal human imagination but is easily achievable by anyone willing to make the effort. It is the necessary launching pad for Actual Freedom – the ultimate state where the perfection and purity of this physical universe is actualized as this flesh and blood body.
RESPONDENT: It is vitally important for me to be sure that the extirpation of the psyche (instinctual passions and the imagination) is not (no offence meant) a cop out. Yep I have been gullible many a time, and it taught me not to underestimate the power of denial. Humans are renowned for their tendency to take the line of least resistance and simply exterminate or suppress what they cannot master.
PETER: It is impossible to be totally sure of anything as a human being on this planet, in the world as-it-is, with people as-they are. The set-up on earth is a veritable kaleidoscope of people, things and events, all happening at this very moment on this immense lump of rock that is spinning like a top and hurtling through limitless space.
Human life is not without risk – there is the risk of being attacked by human beings and wild animals, there are fast moving cars, plane crashes, lightning strikes, volcanoes erupting, floods, cyclones, etc. And yet, we find ourselves firmly stuck by gravity, in a constant sure cycle of night and day, generally able to not only survive, but to thrive. For many, comfort, safety, leisure and pleasure are the staples of life. Such is the ease and lack of danger for many on the planet that there is an innate tendency, apart from those driven to seek physical danger as a means to artificially evoke the feeling of ‘being alive’, for most to settle for being comfortably numb.
But it is impossible to be sure at the start of the journey to become free of the Human Condition what the journey will be like for you. The adventure into one’s own psyche can never be predictable, sure or without risk ... but then again, statistics provide evidence that most people die quietly in their beds, praying that there are going to go to a ‘better world’ and a ‘better next life’.
The actual world is simply the best for it is actual, therefore it requires no imagination ... and it is already happening now, and therefore it needs no postponement.
We humans all have brief glimpses of the stunning actuality of this paradisiacal planet and yet afterwards we drift back into the grim reality of normal life or into the traditional patterns of fantasy escapism. Some who have these glimpses of unbounded purity and perfection desperately want to claim the experience as ‘my’ experience thereby leading to ‘me’ having grandiose feelings of Love, Unity, Oneness, etc.
Provided these experiences remain pure experiences, as in a PCE, it can clearly be seen that human existence on earth is a grim instinctual battle for survival whether fought between family members at the dining table, in relationships in the bedroom, in the boardroom, in the ashram, between humans of different nationalities, between believers of different religions, amongst friends or between enemies.
What is on offer in actualism is the chance to step out of both grim reality and the fantasy of a spiritual greater-Reality and into the actual world of sensual delight. What ‘you’ can do is to deliberately, and with forethought, set about a process that phases out ‘you’, the usurper, the fraud, the walk-in ... until ‘you’ disappear!
PETER: If you can’t remember having had a PCE in the past, then contemplating on what you are reading may well induce one. What I did was read deliberately looking for the differences between actualism and spiritualism and the resulting realization that everyone has got it 180 degrees will induce a PCE, because one can only fully realize that everyone has got it 180 degrees wrong by being temporarily outside of the human condition.
The most direct way to induce a PCE, of course, is by practicing actualism – asking yourself, each moment again, ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ There will often be serendipitous opportunities occurring when you are not feeling worried, stressed, anxious, annoyed, melancholy or such, when a brief lull can occur in one’s normal ‘self’-centred perception and a sensuous appreciation of the purity and perfection of the actual world seeps in. When this happens you get to directly experience that there are in fact three worlds – an illusionary real world, a delusionary spiritual world and an actual world that is incorruptible in its perfection.
The aim of asking oneself ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ is to develop a fascination with the immediate-only business of being here. A self’-less sensuous appreciation of being here is often likely to happen when one is not busy with one’s feelings but when one brings one’s fascinated attention to the very surface of the eyeballs as it were, to the very surface of the skin, to the eardrums when hearing, to the nose when smelling, to the taste buds in the mouth when eating or drinking. Whenever a PCE happens you get to directly experience the freedom from the human condition that is being freely offered on the Actual Freedom Trust website.
RESPONDENT: Well, I’ve had plenty of experiences that seem similar to what you describe, and I wasn’t always stoned when they happened. Here’s a trick of mine... I find quite often that when walking around, even out in the woods or such, my head is turned down towards the ground, and my thoughts are off on some carousel. When I can catch myself doing this, I stop and turn my head up, and open my eyes wide, and forcibly look at the world with all my vision, the full hemisphere. It’s always astonishing when I actually see everything that is really around me. It certainly makes me realize how much the sum of our sensory input is taken for granted. There must be some psychological/ physiological basis for that: we must somehow desensitise to the stimuli, and need an ever increasing fix... bigger TV, more and richer food, louder music, etc. It wasn’t that way so much when we were children.
PETER: The psychological/ physiological basis for desensitising to sensory stimuli – if I can paraphrase your description – is ‘you’, the psychological and psychic entity that has parasitically taken up residence inside you, the flesh and blood body that your parents named No 38. ‘You’, the thinking and feeling entity, relentlessly monitors the sensory input and continuously maintains a thinking and feeling response to it. I use the words relentless and continuously deliberately for this monitoring process is instinctual in nature – it is genetically programmed in all animal species. Subsequently whenever you touch something, there is always a ‘me’ thinking and feeling as though ‘I’ am touching something as opposed to the direct sensation of nerve ends responding to stimuli. This is what I mean by – a self’-less sensuous appreciation of being here is often likely to happen when you are not busy with ‘your’ thoughts and feelings but when you brings your ‘self’ to the very surface of the eyeballs as it were, to the very surface of the skin, to the eardrums when hearing, to the nose when smelling, to the taste buds in the mouth when eating or drinking.
By its very nature, ‘I’ cannot experience a PCE but by making the aim of ‘my’ life to become happy and harmless in the world as-it-is with people as-they-are ‘you’ are actively creating the very circumstances for a temporary experience of the purity and perfection of the actual world to occur.
PETER: As part of my investigation I also delved into theoretical physics and cosmology in order to ascertain whether any evidence had emerged that contradicted Richard’s experience that the physical universe is eternal and infinite. That it had no beginning, can only be actually experienced in this moment of time and has no end, that it has no centre, no ‘holes’ or edges to it other than imaginary ones – and therefore there is no ‘outside’ to it. Reading a few books and scouting around a bit was enough for me to ascertain that, while all sorts of fanciful theories and spurious evidence abounds in theoretical physics and speculative cosmology, no empirical evidence has been found to contradict what Richard says and what everyone has directly experienced in a PCE sometime in their life – that the universe is infinite and eternal and hence peerless both in its perfection and purity.
RESPONDENT: To relevance to actualism: If in fact the universe is electric, or if in fact it is filled with rubber duckies ... how is it relevant to actualism?
PETER: If you want to contemplate on life, the universe and what it is to be a human being, and your contemplations are based on the currently-fashionable pseudo-scientific theories of an expanding universe – replete with a Big Bang beginning, full of or even empty of, all sorts of unseen, unseeable and unmeasurable phenomena and which will suffer some Diabolical End – then you will remain in the grip of spiritual belief.
When I first began to dig into these scientific theories I was amazed how unscientific they were, and I say this as a layman with only a basic knowledge of mechanics and engineering. The reason I posted the links about an alternative explanation to the empirical observations of the universe was that the explanations make far more sense to me than those currently held to be the truth.
An obituary of Hannes Alfvén, the founder of plasma physics, reinforces my own layman understanding –
According to Alfvén, the evolution of the universe in the past must be explicable in terms of the processes occurring in the universe today; events occurring in the depths of space can be explained in terms of phenomena we study in the laboratory on earth.
Such an approach rules out such concepts as an origin of the universe out of nothingness, a beginning to time, or a Big Bang. Since nowhere do we see something emerge from nothing, we have no reason to think this occurred in the distant past. Instead, plasma cosmology assumes that, because we now see an evolving, changing universe, the universe has always existed and always evolved, and will exist and evolve for an infinite time to come.’ Copyright © 1991, 1995 Eric J. Lerner. http://www.marxist.com/science/inmemory.html
The other aspect I found of interest in my early explorations into mainstream cosmological theories of the 20th century was that many of the proponents of the theories were heavily influenced by the Eastern religious beliefs and philosophies that were particularly fashionable in European intellectual circles at the time. What really set the alarm bells ringing – my scepticism if you like – was when I discovered that the man who formulated the Big Bang creation theory was Abbé Georges LeMaître, a central figure in the Vatican’s Pontificia Academia de Scienza di Roma.
RESPONDENT: From an experiential point of view, it ‘can only be actually experienced in this moment of time’ is certainly true, but that does nothing to describe the universe’s physical evolution over time.
PETER: Whilst there is ample empirical evidence in the fossil record of this planet to support the theory that vegetate matter emerged from the mineral matter of this planet due to a unique combination of physical conditions – and that it then further evolved into animate matter, conscious animate matter and apperceptive animate matter over time – it is a leap of pure imagination to propose that the universe itself has evolved over time.
The physical universe is ever changing but it is not evolving, because implicit in the word evolution as it is commonly used is that the process of evolution has a beginning point. The universe, being eternal and infinite, had no beginning point, no creation event. Further, the physical universe is not evolving towards perfection – it is already perfect, as can clearly be experienced in a pure consciousness experience.
RESPONDENT: While that experience implicitly involves my flesh-and-blood, hence can only be happening in this moment, I know also that the flesh-and-blood is subject to physical laws and will eventually become dust. Why would similar laws not apply to the universe too?
PETER: The universe, being eternal, can have no ending, no doomsday event. To propose that because flesh and blood human beings are mortal – ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust’ – it therefore follows that the universe is mortal – ‘will eventually become dust’ – is an anthropocentric viewpoint. Thus far in human history, all of humanity’s wisdoms and truths have been founded upon an anthropocentric viewpoint, be it that of the spiritualists’ much-vaunted search for immortality for the human spirit – the ‘Unborn’ state – or the scientists’ futile search for metaphysical spirit-like creationist forces.
RESPONDENT: I ask this in all sincerity, and I’m not arguing the physical nature of the universe, nor its perfection and purity, just how it is pertinent to the matter at hand.
PETER: Anyone who holds to an anthropocentric view of the universe and holds on to spiritual and/or creationist theories about the nature of the universe will, by the very nature of these ‘self’-centred and ‘self’-perpetuating views and beliefs, remain locked out from the pure consciousness experience of the perfection and purity of the infinite and eternal universe.
PETER: This belief is somewhat understandable considering that it emerged in the days when it was universally believed that the world was three layered – a flat earthy plane full of dangerous animals and dangerous humans, a mystifying heavenly realm above and a mysterious underworld below. Eventually it was empirically observed that the earth was not flat but was spherical and subsequent explorations over centuries proved that this was in fact so. Nowadays photos of earth taken from spacecrafts have subsequently convinced all but the wacky that the earth is not flat.
RESPONDENT: This is my point exactly. We base our understanding of the universe on the facts we have gathered using the scientific method, and the tools we have available presently. A spacecraft is a sophisticated tool that allows us to gather useful information about the physical characteristics of the universe. Historically, the availability of ever more sophisticated tools (telescopes, microscopes, particle accelerators, ...) has resulted in the refutation of previously held beliefs (masquerading as truths of course). So, the tool that someone invents in the 25th century could prove conclusively that the universe is not actually filled with plasma as previously thought, but actually filled with rubber duckies.
PETER: By the same logic, an agnostic would say it is best to keep one’s options open because ‘higher dimensions’ or evidence of creation or other worlds or black holes or singularities or meta-physical forces, or whatever else one chooses to believe in, might well be found to be true after all. This line of reasoning is often used as a last resort by those who can find no evidence to substantiate their belief and fall back on claiming the evidence does exist but it ‘hasn’t been discovered yet’.
RESPONDENT: BTW, I don’t think any of this is incompatible with the perception in a PCE, ‘that the universe is infinite and eternal and hence peerless both in its perfection and purity’.
PETER: I used to think that a lot of beliefs I held didn’t matter or weren’t relevant to actualism, but eventually I discovered the act of holding onto any beliefs only served to keep ‘me’ in existence and therefore kept me hobbled to the human condition of malice and sorrow. In short, if I couldn’t drop a belief I always knew it was something ‘I’ identified with – i.e. that it was part and parcel of ‘me’ as a social or instinctual identity.
PETER: I, as this flesh and blood body sans any psychological or psychic entity whatsoever, suddenly found myself in the paradisiacal actual world of sensual delight. There was an utter stillness, a stillness that has a vibrant aliveness to it that is scintillating and sensately rich. There is an utter purity because there is no evil in the actual world and there is an utter perfection for actual world is peerless. It is as though one is fully alive for the first time in one’s life, one’s senses are literally on stalks delighting in seeing, touching, hearing, smelling, tasting, thinking and reflecting and in being aware of the experience of being alive.
From the perspective of this experience of utter freedom from the human condition, brought on by the temporary disappearance of ‘me’, returning to being ‘normal’ is experienced as being once more cut off from the magnificence of the actual world. In other words, I experienced normal/spiritual life as a being a death-like state compared with the experience of being fully alive, as a flesh and blood body only, in the actual world.
I don’t know if this explanation helps to throw some light on the passage you objected to, but I thought putting it in context might help. <snip>
So, while I appreciate your feedback and comments, given what I’ve said above, I’ll let the passage stand as-it-is as an apt expression of my experience at that time in my early stages of actualism and the contrast between being reasonably happy with my life as it was and the experience of being fully alive as experienced in a PCE.
RESPONDENT: Thanks for putting the passage I objected to into context for me. I do find it helpful. It seems to me that you were using the phrase ‘death-like’ in the context of sort of a ‘crossroads’ experience – only two choices available – living fully or settling for being separated from the actual world – which can feel ‘death-like.’
PETER: Let’s not forget that what is on offer on this list is the third alternative. There are three choices – remaining normal where the best on offer is to be reasonably happy, or becoming spiritual where the best on offer is a dream-like utterly-selfish state of God-realization or a ‘God-and-I-are-best-mates’ scenario … or becoming actually free of the whole lot.
RESPONDENT: The relevance of that sort of distinction is to see that from a ‘bird’s eye’ view – my life and all it comprises can be ‘puny’ or ‘pathetic’ – even from the point of view of a PCE, my life in the ‘real’ world can be seen as ‘death-like’ – but it is due to the sheer contrast of perspective – when one resumes life in the ‘real’ world – it just won’t work to see one’s life as ‘pathetic’ or ‘death-like’. From the subjective point of view, people describing your life from the ‘bird’s eye’ view or even the ‘PCE view’ are to be disregarded as irrelevant – or worse, can become a ‘threat’.
PETER: The other point that is relevant to your objections is how I experienced other human beings in my PCE – they were fellow human beings.
No matter what others read into the actualism writings, the intention of the Actual Freedom website has always been to simply convey information to fellow human beings that it is now possible to become actually free of the human condition. Speaking personally, an integral part of this process of becoming free of the human condition is the essential understanding that we are all fellow human beings and this understanding has always been an undercurrent in my intent in writing to others. Whilst others may instinctively react to what I am saying and feel it to be polarising in some way, what is in fact being offered is information that is invaluable to any of my fellow human beings who wish to become from free of the human condition of malice and sorrow.
RESPONDENT: It was strange to recognize that I often spend my time looking for some narrative that ties ‘my’ life together into some meaningful narrative, and I realized that this sort of enterprise is one of the hopeless things that ‘I’ do, since the ‘meaning’ of my life depends upon some interpretation of the events of my life. Then and there I realized experientially, not just intellectually, that this is my only moment of being alive – what a waste to cling to the past or future! Or to try and compose meaningful narratives out of the past and future – any such emotional story is always ‘up for grabs’ and must be defended by the identity. Anyway, it dawned on me that the only reliable meaning one can find is ‘now’ – since that’s all that’s actually here, now. :o)
PETER: Given that you have asked for input on your reflections, I will offer some suggestions based upon my experience as an actualist. They are only suggestions but you might well find them useful.
Whenever I had an experiential realization that this is the only moment I can experience being alive I deliberately made the effort to focus my attention on sensate experiencing, be it hearing the full range of sounds about, smelling the smells of various things, seeing with either soft-focused or investigative eyes, feeling with the whole of one’s skin or the touch of the finger and taking the time to savour the variety and intensity of taste. By doing so I started to become more aware of and more familiar with the sensual pleasures of the physical world. Cultivating this awareness and familiarity leads to a sensual delight in being here which in turn can sometimes lead to a delicious slipping into a PCE of the actual world.
As well as focussing my attention on sensate experiencing of the physical world, I would often deliberately contemplate on the nature of the physical world. This meant that in looking at the sky, I started to understand that we human animals ‘swim’ at the bottom of the earth’s atmosphere rather as fish swim in the sea. The air we breathe in and out and move around in ebbs and flows in the form of breezes and winds, its temperature varies seasonally, daily and often momentarily, it varies in moisture content between dry and decidedly wet and visually it offers a constantly changing scene varying from starless or star-filled nights, endless varieties of sunrises and sunsets, and a constantly changing scene of cloudless or cloud-filled days. Added to all this is the precipitation cycle that draws water from the land and oceans and deposits it around the planet in the form of rain, constantly nourishing the vegetate life and thereby sustaining the animate life on the planet.
This very same combination of sensate experience and reflective contemplation can be applied to all of the physical world we live in, without discrimination. Thus the materials, objects, tools and machines that human beings fashion out of the earth equally become things of fascination – the very matter of the earth made even more wondrous by the application of ingenuity. Over time these experiences of sensual delight in being here can develop into a marvelling at being here doing this business of being alive and then things really get cooking because you then start to become obsessive about wanting to live this experience as an on-going actuality, 24/7.
What can also be gleaned from such moments – provided one is observant and doesn’t latch onto the experience and claim it for one’s own self-aggrandizement – is that such moments of sensual experiencing and pure contemplation only occur when ‘I’ am absent. You can observe that such moments weren’t occurring when I was feeling bored or lacklustre a while ago, in fact it couldn’t have occurred then because the predominant experience I was having then was feeling bored or lacklustre.
In such moments you can realize that only ‘I’ stand in the way of the perfection and purity of the actual world becoming apparent. Then it is clearly seen that ‘me’ is the problem, not ‘me’ choosing to ‘cling to the past or future!’ or attempting to ‘try and compose meaningful narratives out of the past and future’ . In such moments you can realize that the traditional approach of practicing detachment (as in not-clinging) and practicing denial (as in no past and no future) can only lead to disassociative states of being – the antithesis of the experience of being fully alive in this very moment of time, in this very place in physical space.
What actualism offers is a way of progressively dismantling ‘me’, the spoiler who stands in the way of the pure consciousness experiencing of being fully alive in the actual world. Actualism is not about dissociating from, or associating with, the grim reality of normal human experiencing. What is on offer is a third alternative – eliminating ‘who’ you think and feel you are and discovering what you are – but for this to happen work needs to be done to get from A to B.
As you have probably gathered, the main point of my input regarding your reflections is to encourage you to more and more make your contemplations as down-to-earth as possible. This way you not only avoid the trap of spirituality but you will find yourself more and more coming to your senses, both literally and figuratively.
PETER to Alan: Have you ever observed a conversation between ‘meditative’ people? There is usually constant complaint about the trials and tribulations of the real world and an unintelligible jargon exchange of clichés and ‘sharing’ of feelings that passes for conversation and communication. The classic situation is the really deep meditator who simply closes his or her eyes and zones into their inner world in the midst of everything. When the going gets tough ... the meditator simply turns ‘inward’!
Thus it is that there are two worlds – the ‘real’, as readily evidenced on T.V. or in the fights and squabbles that break out in this very block of flats where I live, and the ‘spiritual’, as evidenced by the ‘protective aura’ of half the population of the town I live in. They do indeed live in another world – an inner world of their own making. To turn away from the real world to the spiritual world is but to be twice removed from the actual world.
What an amazing thing it was to discover that there is an actual world of purity and perfection that is here, now and happening, now. It has not to be invented, imagined, propped up, contrived, trusted in, believed in, conceptualized or connected with. The physical universe is infinite and eternal and, as such, incomparable in its splendour. To live a life imagining that there is a something else or somewhere else is to miss the main event – that which is happening now, this only moment I can experience of being alive.
The need to step out of the real world and into the actual world is a vital necessity for becoming happy and harmless. As with most things in life, deciding to make the first move can be the most difficult thing, but if it is taken sincerely one soon begins finding the fears are imaginary and entirely ‘self’-imposed. A full-blooded, hearty commitment is needed to ensure success, for to fly in the face of Ancient Wisdom is no small thing to do. But as success eventuates, so does confidence grow and quite soon one passes ‘the point of no return’ when it becomes impossible to consider returning to a life of malice and sorrow. By then one is on a slippery slope whereby one often attempts to put the foot on the brake and slow things down a bit – but by then to be free is already one’s destiny and one actively acquiesces in one’s own demise.
RESPONDENT: In case anyone is interested, it seems taking a 2 week vacation from work was the catalyst. We went up the Sunshine Coast to Noosa, Mooloolaba and Maleny, spending a few days in each place. It was a very relaxing time. My partner and I took about 10 rolls of photos, nurturing a budding interest in photography. We spent our days lazing around, eating and drinking and being merry, taking relaxing walks, swimming, basically living in the moment. After returning home and to work, our home life began to suffer, where previously we hardly ever fought now we were bickering daily, and it was obvious something had changed. I think our expectations were raised after such a pleasant holiday. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking as to what the exact difference is, and how to incorporate it into my life.
To cut a long story short I have decided that it’s Actual Freedom or bust :)
PETER: Taking a holiday or a break from normal life is the traditional way of getting away from it all. After a few days you can get to leave your normal life behind – to get some distance from the usual anxieties, worries, routines, habits and patterns that constitute your ‘life’. At best one can even get to feel blithely carefree and virtually anonymous – almost as if you have left your old identity behind.
I often describe how I live now as ‘being on holiday’ – and more specifically as like the middle fortnight of a 6-week holiday when you get to have left all your real-world worries behind and ‘going back to reality’ is not even on the horizon. The amazing thing is that I have this feeling of being on holiday virtually all of the time, whilst working in the market place, in the world as-it-is with people as-they are. And even more amazing is the fact that this almost constant state of feeling blithely carefree and virtually anonymous is the outcome of my own decision to devote my life to becoming happy and harmless.
I remember when I first met Richard and he re-awakened my longing for peace on earth and harmony with my fellow human beings. At first I thought he was talking about spiritual freedom until it sank in that he was not talking about the spiritual world at all.
One day, as he was describing the utter purity and perfection of the actual world we flesh and blood bodies live in, my memory was jogged and I remembered a time when I had experienced exactly this earthy purity and perfection. I remembered when I had an experience of pure consciousness for a few hours, an experience when ‘I’ did not exist and seemingly never had existed. A few hours when I – this flesh and blood mortal body I – directly experienced the extraordinariness of this physical universe I always lived in but was forever cut off from.
Everything was vibrant and alive, fairytale-like in its magic, ambrosial in its sensuousness. Everything was utterly peaceful and benevolent – I am firmly locked in time, experiencing this world as if for the first time – as it actually is, not as ‘I’ had always feared it was or imagined it was. This world had been under my very nose as it were all the time, but that fellow ‘me’ had to step aside for me, this flesh and blood mortal body me, to be able to experience it.
It was evident that this was paradise for there is nothing missing here in the actual world, nothing wanted for, nothing needed beyond the sensuous pleasures of food and shelter. The very notion of a spirit-world, of searching for a paradise someplace else, or imagining that there is a paradise we go to after physical death was seen for what it is – a massive delusion built upon old beliefs and superstitions of good and evil spirits, meta-physical forces and other-worlds, both above and below.
After remembering this pure consciousness experience I was hooked because I knew, by my own experience, what was on offer if ‘I’ chose to set off on the path to becoming happy and harmless, never to waver from my goal, never to return to normal, never to seen or heard of again, as it were.
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.
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: A little bit long Quotation from ‘Nirvana The Last Nightmare’ by Osho Rajneesh.
PETER: Just a note on your post of one of Mr. Mohan Rajneesh’s talks. I will stick to his starting theme which was idealism and, in an effort to be brief, concentrate on a few salient points –
Curious stuff from a Guru who’s central message, the inspirational core of his teachings, is that his followers are the New Man – Zorba the Buddha. To quote the same man –
So ... peace will come to earth when the New Man arrives! Now if we translate this bit of idealism into down-to-earth language it means ‘when everybody follows Rajneesh’s teachings’ there will be peace on earth. Given he has a following of less than 100,000 out of 6,000,000,000 people on the planet and that the whole religion is in a watered-down decline, peace will again remain a promised ideal with no possible chance to eventuate. Rajneeshism is merely yet another of the sixteen hundred religions on the planet, all competing for market-share. It would be rather amusing except so much of the competition results in armed conflict such as was evidenced in the last days of the Rajneeshpuram when Rajneeshees went ‘head-to-head’ with the Christians. When the big boys of the Religions go head-to-head the most horrendous wars eventuate.
The interesting thing is that none of Rajneesh’s followers cares ‘two bob’ about the New Man or peace on earth as is evidenced by my discussions on their mailing list. See No 6 and No 9, No 12 and No 32. Such is their cynical disregard for his teachings. They know he spoke twaddle, they know he was full of contradictions and inaccuracies and know it was just idealistic humbug. Humans really just desperately want someone or something to believe in – and anybody and anything will do.
‘You ARE perfect’ is the delusion of the spiritual view-point. The spiritual world is in complete denial of the modern discoveries of the fact that we are not ‘perfect’ – that we have an in-built instinctual survival program of fear, aggression, nurture and desire that inevitably causes us to live in fear and to be aggressive. It is this fact that prevents peace on earth, not the failure to live the – unliveable – spiritual ideal that if only we ‘all follow one God and one God only’ and then all will be magically okay, one day, in the future. When I finally stopped deluding myself that this insanity was going to bring peace to earth, and when I stopped being dishonest with myself in believing that I was ‘already perfect’, was I able to do something about becoming actually perfect.
RESPONDENT: Even if one was very harmonious and grounded in an absolutely positive relationship to life one could certainly feel very miserable from time to time.
PETER: While remaining a ‘self’ one is forever subject to the full range of emotional passions and there is ample evidence that even those who claim to be peace-loving and have a positive outlook on life are often overcome by anger or suffer inexplicable bouts of depression. This is the case even with the Enlightened Ones who have the full range of emotional passions intact despite their efforts to transcend the savage and emulate and radiate the tender passions. Apart from the mythical almost anonymous past-Masters whom we know nothing about, all of the recent and current crop of Gurus clearly demonstrate, at some time in their careers, all the attributes of what we begrudgingly acknowledge as our human failings.
RESPONDENT: But maybe you’re talking about the foundation for happiness first and foremost and not the actual experience. It would be very unrealistic, I think, to imagine perfection as constant sensatory bliss, if that’s the case then I surely see the need for mimicking life instead of actually living it. This could potentially be the ultimate delusion, a way to create a fairytale and not living in any world other than one’s own fantasy and imagination.
PETER: As I said, unless one is willing to contemplate being happy and being harmless, virtually free of malice and sorrow, 99% of the time – then forget the whole business. From your objections to my statement it is obvious that you find it impossible to contemplate that you, as-you-are, would be willing to sacrifice enough of your ‘self’ to even get to this state.
Do you think that a change as radical as becoming actually happy and harmless happens by some blinding flash of light, that it is an effortless achievement that requires that you do nothing? Even on the spiritual path those who have success build a foundation of spiritual experiences and assiduously practice transcendence. The same applies for any achievement or goal in the real world.
For anyone interested in becoming actually free of malice and sorrow, it is obvious that unless one is willing to contemplate being happy and being harmless, virtually free of malice and sorrow, 99% of the time – then forget the whole business.
RESPONDENT: My view of perfection is to be able to face every aspect of life, good or bad, and to avoid nothing ... there will most definitely be some hardship to endure even after achieving (realizing...) perfection (or almost perfection more accurately) if one is challenging oneself in life.
PETER: Purity and perfection are impossible to imagine while remaining a ‘self’. Up until now the best on offer has been a subjugation of one’s personal sense of ‘self’ whereby one is able to ride on, or identify with, the tender emotions and feel pure and feel perfect. Unfortunately one also feels Godly, Timeless and Immortal – a deadly cocktail of delusion. There is no good and bad in the actual world. There are no good and bad rocks, there are no right and wrong trees, there is no fear on a computer monitor, there is no anger in a cup of coffee. Only animals exhibit instinctual fear, aggression, nurture and desire and only humans and our closest genetic cousins exhibit passions and emotions associated with these instinctual reactions.
As for challenging oneself – how about an actual peace on earth, in this lifetime, for No 10? There is no greater challenge and no greater good that one could do for others.
RESPONDENT: So I can relate to a very sound and almost perfect foundation that gives oneself confidence to live in a new and even radically new and positive way but I just can’t see the end result being permanent bliss, but maybe that isn’t what you’re suggesting anyway?
PETER: No. Bliss is a passionate emotion and like all emotions it has a duality, an opposite emotion. Underlying all feelings of bliss is the feeling of dread, exactly as underlying Enlightenment lies the Diabolical and underlying the good is the bad and underlying God is the Devil, etc.
RESPONDENT: And how can we know that the next day and the day after will be perfect even when we’ve left ‘the self’ behind? It might in fact be a total disaster and we might become extremely depressed or whatever. Is the ultimate state really to be perfectly happy all the time?
PETER: You can’t know until you have experienced the perfection and purity of the actual world in a pure consciousness experience. If you have already and can remember it then you and I both know that your question is yet another furphy. But if you steadfastly believe that human existence is meant to be a suffering existence then you will forever cut yourself off from finding out.
The key to the ultimate ‘self’-less sate of purity and perfection is to maintain an equal focus on the ‘harmless’ bit of becoming happy and harmless, for one can never be happy unless one is harmless. This harmlessness is an unconditional harmlessness in the world as-it-is, with people as-they-are – not hiding away in some spiritual community of like-believers, run on strict moral and ethical codes in order to keep a lid on undesirable behaviour. Actual harmlessness is not an ideal, as in pacifism, but comes from having no identity or person ‘inside’ who can feel offended, feel attacked, who is constantly and fearfully on-guard and ever-ready to defend or attack.
There is no malice and sorrow in the actual world.
RESPONDENT: This sounds sane to me ... but I still have problems with understanding the self-less state. Do you mean having no identity whatsoever, not even as a flesh and blood creature? So it’s the end of self-consciousness...? One just exists without reflection of who one actually is? And the perfection you mentioned does it mean that one will FEEL good all the time also?
PETER: One has no psychological and psychic identity whatsoever. No ‘I’ in the head – who ‘I’ think I am – nor ‘me’ in the heart – who ‘I’ feel I am. There is simply this thoughtful, reflective flesh and blood body brimming with sense organs being apperceptively aware. Apperception is the brain’s ability to be aware of itself – a bare awareness. There is no ‘I’ being aware, there is simply awareness operating by itself as a function of the brain of this flesh and blood body. The brain, freed of the neurotic burden of a social identity and the chemical surges emanating from the instinctual animal ‘self’ is able to operate with salubrious clarity. The physical senses – literally the stalks of the brain – are freed of their burden of guard-duty imposed by a fearful instinctual ‘self’, are heightened to an extent that one experiences purity and perfection as a sensual actuality that leaves any paltry feelings for dead.
PETER: Yes, I did note with interest your post on the subject of ego. Given that my interest is peace on earth and I like to reply in detail I can’t comment on your post on the list so I will take the opportunity to do so here.
You say you can’t hate but you obviously can still blame other human beings for as you said at the start of this post –
These feelings usually range from being upset, miffed, impatient, perhaps even angry or swing back the other way to feeling pity for them, sad, despairing, hopelessness and perhaps even depressed. If you ‘can’t hate’ which of these other feelings do you ‘still have’? When you say
do you include the human beings who are in the governments that run this world and do you include all the wars, murders, rapes, tortures, domestic violence, despair and suicide in this wonder-full creation that is not ‘separate from your own being’?
An interesting point of view. What Krishnamurti had to say was so ‘very important for people to hear’ that it was okay to deliberately conceal a long standing affair with his friend’s wife and then to engage in a subsequent long and bitter legal battles against his friend in order to suppress any knowledge of it becoming public. Sort of a ‘don’t look at the finger, look at the moon’ argument or ‘I’m only a poor humble messenger but my message is pure gold.’ Do you not take a stand, presume a position, make a judgement on Krishnamurti by refusing to pass a judgement yourself and leaving it to others?
RESPONDENT: I agree that the way the Krishnamurti group handled that whole thing was wrong, and K should have stepped in and stopped that. But the fact remains that what he was saying was very important and if it had all come out many people who have been helped by what he had to say may not have been.
PETER: Who are you agreeing with? Certainly not me. Now you are blaming the Krishnamurti group, presumably because they didn’t conceal their Master’s duplicity and deceit. You don’t seem able to bring yourself to question Krishnamurti’s actions for that would mean you would be questioning a revered teacher and that is a sacred no-no. This ethic that the message of Enlightenment is more important than the veracity and conduct of the Enlightened Ones has forever humbled seekers into silence and cognitive blindness. But in his day and age of increased information and communication this sacred code in the spiritual community is being broken down. Even on the mailing list there is some debate about various teachers and their behaviour. This questioning is tentative and selective for there is a definite pecking order as to who is fair game to question and who is considered too high up on the scale, or too close to home, to question.
I see you have joined in this delicate selection process and, as a teacher yourself, you obviously have a dilemma as to who to blame and who to praise. You have put Father Dionysus, Otto Kernberg and Ammachi down so far, but your comments deriding students who hang around teachers may not endear you to the Cohenite students so it may well be politic to tone down a touch in this area. There seems to be a very profound dilemma amongst spiritual teachers these days – how watered down does one make one’s message so that it doesn’t appear live old-time religion without it being nothing more than a set of morals, a bit of feel good and lot of dis-identifying? The other approach is to go for the full-on charismatic God-realization approach but this does have its drawbacks in terms of being forever on-guard and on-stage. Added to all this, the Guru business is such a crowded market nowadays that it is tough to get enough customers to qualify as a bona fide teacher.
RESPONDENT: I am awake, but I am not perfect in the eyes of some, perhaps most. So what? Most people have such a misunderstanding of what it means to be enlightened. Enlightened people are just people who have seen the fact of our being one with all life. I just live my life not harming any one or any thing. That is simple, we can all do that, awake or not.
PETER: Well, that’s a bit of a come down for the exalted and much prized state of Enlightenment. This seems to none other than the ‘we are all enlightened, we only have to realize it’ psittacism that is floating around the spiritual world. So now, I assume your teaching is simplified even further to – if everyone sees ‘the fact of our being one with all life’ and ‘just lives (their) life not harming any one or any thing’ then there will be peace on earth.
RESPONDENT: Why not? I am awake, I harm nothing or no one. If everyone just lived that simply were would the wars and killing come from? It is true that the mind of the unenlightened is the same mind as the enlightened, except for the enlightened have awakened to a clear direct seeing the fact before our eyes.
PETER: Okay, let’s look at the facts before our eyes. The Dalai Lama is an avowed Buddhist who would claim that he would harm nothing and no one. He is a pacifist, which meant when someone invaded his country he fled. Now if everyone in the country you lived in was a pacifist it is like hanging out a sign – pleas invade – we won’t stop you. The Dalai Lama, now safe behind the protection of the Indian army is busily trying to get someone else to free his country. Pacifism is an unliveable ideal in the world as-it-is with people as-they-are. Do you not rely on the guns of the police and army for the privilege of feeling a pacifist? Would not it be more sensible to tackle the root cause of malice and sorrow – the instinctual animal passions in humans – rather than striding the moral high ground sprouting unliveable ethics that completely ignore the facts before our eyes.
The Enlightened not only cop-out from acknowledging any malice in themselves but they also cop-out from acknowledging sorrow in themselves. As you yourself stated Enlightenment means that one no longer identifies with one’s personal suffering but that one feels universal sorrow or compassion for others. This is easily seen in action whereby they continually rile against the unenlightened as the cause of wars and suffering. The excuse for this malevolence is that they feel compassion towards those who have yet to realize that the wars and killing is all a dream – created by their ego – from which they haven’t yet awakened.
RESPONDENT: There has been no one in my life who I let believe I was some high and mighty being because I was awake. I have had a problem with people who have tried to put me on a pedestal for just being awake. If I let them it would just be ego playing another game.
PETER: Why should people want to put you on a pedestal in the first place? Just what Guru-energy are you radiating? Is it you or your seductive message of dissociation from the symptoms of the animal instinctual passions in operation in humans? Do you find you have to be humble to put them off? Again your actions of putting yourself above Father Dionysus, Otto Kernberg and Ammachi on the list does seem to weaken your case for being an ordinary man. It must be a tricky business getting these balances just right.
RESPONDENT: I truthfully do not believe in perfection. We are, surely, infinitely perfectible. Something to keep in mind when shopping for a guru. I think belief in our or someone else’s perfection has led to a great deal of mischief and misery in history. I limit my ideal to the top of the next hill.
PETER: Yes, it is increasingly obvious that the teachers have all failed to live up to the teachings which does beg the question why we blame either the teacher or ourselves and never-ever dare to question the veracity of the ‘sacred’ Bronze Age teachings.
RESPONDENT: I am interested in how one discovers for oneself what are ‘animal instinctual passions’ and what leads to their extinction and what is left when they no longer hold sway. What worries me is renunciation, which often leads to mere suppression and which rises naturally from a clinging to ‘perfection’.
PETER: The animal instinctual passions are essentially fear, aggression, nurture and desire and are easily recognized as feelings and deep-seated emotions in oneself. The Eastern spiritual practice of transcendence is to disassociate from the savage passions of fear and aggression and identify with the tender passions of nurture and desire. As such, spiritual seekers are encouraged to suppress and deny fear and anger and feel only love and Godliness which gives rise to the illusion of oneself as being perfect. This ‘perfection’ is never actualized for the underlying instinctual passions have only been ‘transcended’ and not eliminated.
RESPONDENT: ‘There is nothing new under the sun.’
PETER: Are you denying the technological and physical changes that have occurred this century in medicine, transport, science, communications, agriculture, etc. The very computer you sit at now is a marvellous new thing, an amazing machine linked to a communication network the likes of which would have astounded anyone a mere century ago.
But, yes, I do agree with you that ‘there is nothing new under the sun’ in terms of humans becoming free of their instinctual behaviour patterns. We are still driven by fear and aggression, nurture and desire. The imposition of morals and ethics – backed up by strict laws, police and armies – generally keeps a lid on it all and the whole system runs remarkably well, apart from the various outbreaks of war, terrorism, murder, rapes, etc.
Many humans, however, are moved, for whatever reasons, to seek a freedom from this ‘normal’ world of fear and aggression, and many seek a solution to the Human Condition such that the human species, as a whole, could live in peace on this planet.
Unfortunately the search for freedom is based on the Ancient Wisdom of Gods, spirits, other-worlds, future lives, etc. It is based firmly on that mother of all beliefs that ‘you can’t change human nature’. Seeing that we can do nothing about the ‘real’ world the only thing available – up until now – has been to escape into an imaginary world, created and sustained by belief – a meta-physical world.
There is now available a third alternative. The actual physical universe, being infinite – having no outside to it – and eternal – having no beginning or end – is pure and perfect. Most humans have experienced this purity and perfection at some stage in their life in what is called a PCE or pure consciousness experience.
There seems also an innate sense of this purity and perfection, but it is normally inaccessible to us humans, as we are born with an instinctual separate sense of ‘self’ with its accompanying instincts and are further imbued with a social identity. This very ‘self’, the who I ‘think’ I am and the who I ‘feel’ I am keeps me forever separate and alien from this purity and perfection.
The spiritual search is a vain attempt to seek ‘union’ with this purity and perfection by ‘feeling’ connected, feeling Goodness, God, Love or whatever – the best on offer to date. The major and ultimately disastrous flaw is that ‘when really cranked up’ these feelings lead to Union, Oneness, God-Realization, etc. and yet another Saviour or Guru is realized to form yet another Religion to cause yet more wars ...
Peter’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.