Selected Correspondence Peter
PETER: (...) You commented on something I wrote to Gary –
I can understand the first two changes you described, but I have difficulty in understanding how did you bring about the third one. When I look at my self now, I can sense a ‘self’-centredness of ‘my’ normal cerebral experience’. What I mean is that because of conscious effort of being aware of ‘my ticking’, I find myself more concerned about myself than everybody else around me and it looks a bit selfish. I think it is also a fall out of the first two changes viz, sense of autonomy and stop blaming others for my state.
PETER: I can remember having the same sense of being selfish in the early stages of becoming obsessively ‘self’ aware. After a bit of sensible contemplation on the fact that my sole motive for becoming ‘self’-obsessed was to become happy and harmless I came to see that my motive, or intent, was altruistic and in no way selfish – after all, anybody who deliberately sets out on a process of ‘self’-elimination can hardly be selfish.
I’ve dug out a few bits from my journal that are pertinent to what you are saying which, given they were written some years ago, are much closer to when I was involved in this issue and therefore much fresher and vital than I could write from memory –
And another piece on the non-selfish nature of actualism –
Vineeto wrote something in my Journal which is also very relevant to your question, so I will post this as well –
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: You’ve said it very tactfully, but I hear the implied warning. Let me clarify something that makes the warning unnecessary. When I said ‘I experience myself as the physical universe experiencing itself ...’, I didn’t mean ‘I-as-identity’, I meant ‘human being as self-conscious physical organism’ experiencing the universe it lives in. (That’s quite wondrous enough for me, without affixing any mystical significance to it.)
PETER: If you are a ‘‘self-conscious physical organism’ experiencing the universe it lives in’, then your consciousness is a self-conscious consciousness, as it is with every human being on the planet. Attentiveness will reveal that this self in self-consciousness is a psychological and psychic self – ‘the affective self’, as you previously said you experienced him, ‘he’ of ‘two souls, not just one ego and one soul’.
In contrast to a PCE when the ‘self’ is temporarily in abeyance, this ‘self’ is readily discernable by any human being. ‘I’ experience myself as being inside my body looking out through the eyes of my body, of hearing sounds through the ears of my body, of smelling smells with the nose of my body, of feeling touch with the skin of my body, of tasting tastes with the tongue and the mouth of my body. ‘I’ can even experience myself as being a little man located in the head frantically trying to control things or a little man in the heart desperately trying to feel or intuit what is going on.
Nothing mystical at all about this, but if one imagines that this non-actual ‘self’ is ‘the physical universe experiencing itself’ then one is but a step away from delusion.
RESPONDENT: There is, however, a danger for me (in ASCs) which I recognise. It’s an echo of LSD experience which I alluded to before involving the fractal-like nature of mind and universe. I’ll go into it later if necessary, but at this stage it’s not an issue.
PETER: Given your recent posts to the list, this seems to be a matter of work in progress.
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.
RESPONDENT: Crazy isn’t it.
PETER: Well crazy as it may seem, this has been and still is, held up as being great wisdom not only in spiritual circles but also in some so-called scientific circles. ‘Self’-centredness is the bane of humankind.
PETER: You referred to Thomas Metzinger’s philosophy as a possible explanation of your ‘interesting experience’ and how and why it was different from a PCE and I was simply fleshing out the differences. If you re-read the quote you posted, you will see that you have misunderstood what he is saying.
RESPONDENT: I’ve done so, and I do not think I have misinterpreted it.
PETER: I’m not saying you misinterpreted it, merely misunderstood it.
RESPONDENT: I think it is you who has misunderstood it. Let’s see if we can iron this out.
PETER: Metzinger makes it quite clear that the subjective experience of ‘being someone’ is one’s normal state and he contrast this normal state with an altered state of being, as in ‘being no-one’
RESPONDENT: In the section I quoted, he does nothing of the sort. He is saying that selves are subjective illusions that do not exist in actuality.
PETER: Okay. I cut the quote you posted for brevity but here is what followed on from the above –
As you can see, in the quote you posted, Metzinger clearly goes on to say that the subjective experience of ‘being someone’ is experienced ‘simply as ourselves living in the world right now’, in other words as I said ‘being someone’ is one’s normal state. Is this not your everyday experience? Do you not normally experience yourself as ‘being someone’?
RESPONDENT: Yes, the subjective experience of being someone is the normal state. So far so good.
PETER: And the reason this is good to understand is because many people latch on to the philosophical view that the self is an illusion and then set off in search of their authentic ‘non-illusional self’.
PETER: ... and he contrast this normal subjective state of ‘being someone’ with a paranormal objective state of ‘being no-one’ –
In reflecting on this conversation, it occurred to me that another way of describing altered states of consciousness would be to describe them as altered state of being.
RESPONDENT: No he does nothing of the sort. He’s not talking about ‘being no-one’ as an alternative to ‘being someone’. He’s just pointing out that the ‘self’ is an illusion. He’s not prescribing a way to become free of it. I’ve read other reviews of his book (though not the book itself), and they all support my interpretation, not yours. (One example is the article I referenced in ‘Neo-Virtualism Revisited’). He’s offering a conceptual model of the virtual self, explaining how the illusion comes to be formed, and how it comes to be experienced as real. He’s saying that it does not exist in actuality, but he’s saying nothing whatsoever about how to become free of it.
PETER: Okay. Would you agree that Metzinger’s philosophical take is that we are ‘being no-one’ because ‘what we think of as ‘the ‘self’ is a representation generated by the brain’? Thus he maintains, from a philosophical viewpoint, that we are ‘being no-one’ because the self is a psychological illusion, whereas as you have confirmed that the subjective experience of ‘being someone’ is one’s normal state. Would you agree that these are two different experiences of consciousness, one philosophical and the other is one’s everyday experienced reality?
If Metzinger is not saying how to become free of the illusionary self, his philosophy is certainly in accord with the notion that the illusion of the ego is root of the ‘normal’ human consciousness, a notion that is derived from ancient Eastern spirituality.
PETER: As you can see, in the quote you posted, Metzinger clearly goes on to say that the subjective experience of ‘being someone’ is experienced ‘simply as ourselves living in the world right now’, in other words as I said ‘being someone’ is one’s normal state. Is this not your everyday experience? Do you not normally experience yourself as ‘being someone’?
RESPONDENT: Yes. Now you tell me: where is he suggesting or prescribing an experiential alternative to the experience of ‘being someone’? Where is this ‘altered state of being’ he’s allegedly proposing? I argue that his book, based on the reviews I’ve read, does nothing of the sort. It is theoretical, intellectual critique of the ‘self’. This again strikes me as a tendency of yours: to see spiritualism lurking everywhere, not just hiding behind the scenes, but right there for all to see, provided we don’t ... uhhh ... misunderstand it.
PETER: I take it that you don’t normally go around experiencing yourself as ‘being no-one’ – you normally go around experiencing yourself as ‘being someone’. Should you go about your daily business thinking of yourself as ‘being no-one’, you would not be experiencing yourself as you would normally experience yourself. I would call that two different states of being, one real and one dissociated … and I say that because that is my own experience when I followed the ‘ego-is-an-illusion’ path.
RESPONDENT: He is saying nothing whatever about an experience of self-lessness, or an altered state of self. Where?
PETER: Where – in the quote directly above. Why do you think he uses the term ‘being no-one’ in contrast to the term ‘being someone’ if he is not talking about an altered state of being – as in experiencing oneself as an other-than-normal being?
RESPONDENT: Why? Because the experience of ‘being someone’ is an illusion that has real consequences.
PETER: And from the review I have posted it is apparent that Mr. Metzinger takes this observation a step further in that he says ‘Not even being no-one protects us from misfortune, harm, and sorrow’ – which is the reason I commented on Mr. Metzinger in the first place.
RESPONDENT: ‘being no-one’ means, no such things as selves exist in the world.
PETER: Indeed, and if you believe this philosophy – based on the Eastern philosophy that the egoic-self is an illusion –
RESPONDENT: Fuck, here we go again. It is not based on Eastern philosophy, it is based on neurology. He is saying the same thing as Richard: there is no ‘little man’ in there running the show. It’s an illusion created by the body-brain. Unlike Richard, he’s not proposing that it be eradicated, and unlike spiritualists he’s not proposing that it be transcended or altered; he’s simply describing how it originates in the brain. It is an intellectual work, not a spiritual one.
PETER: Whilst I do appreciate you imagine I have ‘a tendency …to see spiritualism lurking everywhere’, presumably where it doesn’t exist, I can only suggest you do a little reading up on philosophy as I did when I first became interested in actualism because what I found was that not only philosophy is deeply ensnared in its mystical traditions but that it has been profoundly influenced by what is sometimes described as ‘the Wisdom of the East’, and particularly so in the last 100 years.
PETER: [Indeed, and if you believe this philosophy – based on the Eastern philosophy that the egoic-self is an illusion –] you might even come to think and feel that rather than being ‘some-one’ you are ‘being no-one’ – as in ego-less. And yet as Metzinger points out, ‘being no-one’ does not mean you will be free from sorrow – which was the point of my posting the quote.
RESPONDENT: I don’t have any disagreement with this, Peter; never did. I know the self cannot be just ‘thought away’. (I’ve tried it; useless).
PETER: Yes. You have written about this before –
Respondent to No 55, Common sense, 1.12.2003
which only leaves me bemused as to why you are proposing that a philosopher who is reported to have stated that –
– is not proposing these very same Eastern spiritual beliefs that you have found to have been useless in the past.
RESPONDENT: I interpret this differently from you. For my money, the last sentence means: although selves don’t exist in actuality, they suffer.
PETER: Okay. Given your own reports to this mailing list, when you are ‘being some-one’ – experiencing yourself ‘as you are living in the world right now’ – then you are apt to experience sorrow from time to time.
RESPONDENT: Yes. A lot of the time.
PETER: What Metzinger is saying is that even if you think and feel you are ‘being no-one’, as in realizing that the ‘subjective experience of ‘being someone’ (which) emerges from this physical neural process’, then you will still not be free from sorrow.
RESPONDENT: If this is another way of saying that the self can’t just be willed or thought away, then I have no argument with that at all.
PETER: Yes, you made that plain in your post to No 55.
RESPONDENT: This is no different from Richard saying that whilst selves are not ‘actual’ they are very ‘real’.
PETER: There is a world of difference between Metzinger’s philosophical/ spiritual ego-centric notion of what ‘being some-one’ means and Richard’s experiential understanding of both the psychological and the psychic nature of ‘being’.
PETER: Metzinger, like all adherents to Eastern philosophy, <snipped>
RESPONDENT: There is no point in saying any more unless and until you are willing and able to revise your own interpretation, and consider that you, not I, have misunderstood what is being said here.
PETER: Before you lapse into silence, I’ll just repost the remainder of the sentence as others who read this might be interested in what you snipped –
PETER: At least three thousand years of history have attested to the fact that ego-death does nothing but produce delusionary states of grandeur – often cunningly disguised as Humbleness – and all because an impersonal identity, as in Metzinger’s ‘being no-one’, is still an instinctual being at heart and, as such, still capable of not only feeling sorrow but also of being malevolent.
RESPONDENT: There is no reference to a paranormal state here, AFAICT.
PETER: As I read the reviews of his book, Metzinger has written a philosophical book entitled ‘Being no-one’ in which he makes it clear that one’s normal state is ‘being someone’ and in which he expounds upon the illusionary nature of the ego, or the psychological self. Given the title of his book his thesis apparently is that ‘being no-one’ is a state one reaches when one realizes that the state of ‘being someone’ is an illusion – a thesis that is not surprisingly in complete accord with the Eastern mystical philosophy of ego-death.
RESPONDENT: Again, I don’t think he’s talking about altered states of being at all. I was, but I don’t see that he was.
PETER: I do realize that all of what is termed ‘the philosophy of human consciousness’ is confusing and the reason why this is so is because –
When I first dipped into the philosophy of human consciousness after meeting Richard – when I began to check out the bona fides of actualism for myself – I came away shaking my head. Because I had considerable experience of the practical failings of Eastern mysticism, I was easily able to see that their whole philosophy was based on a flawed premise – that the transcendence of a personal ego is the summum bonum of human existence.
RESPONDENT: Yeah. I see this as the big difference between Actualism and all that has gone before it.
PETER: And yet you insist that Metzinger’s philosophy of human consciousness is not based on ‘all that has gone before’ – the ancient philosophy that the transcendence of a personal ego is the summum bonum of human existence. And you do this despite the fact that he is quoted as defining the ‘self’ as a mental construction only, whilst ignoring the readily-observable fact that the ‘self’ is predominantly an instinctual passionate being at heart, i.e. an affective being.
As I said before, there is a world of difference between Metzinger’s philosophical/ spiritual ego-centric notion of what ‘being some-one’ means and Richard’s experiential understanding of both the psychological and the psychic nature of ‘being’.
PETER: This inherent restriction in consciousness studies to date is the equivalent of trying to study anatomy based on Galenic 2nd century anatomical theories whilst blithely ignoring the host of empirical discoveries that has been racked up since Vesalius first dared to question Galen’s pre-eminence by conducting hands-on investigations of the human anatomy.
PETER: An agreement with the proviso that I should exclude Mr. Metzinger’s philosophy because I need to understand that his philosophy is not based on 3,500 year old Eastern philosophy?
PETER: And the reason I gave ‘a rat’s’ and made mention of Metzinger’s philosophy is that he makes it quite clear that such altered states of being do not bring about an end to sorrow (exactly as such altered states of being do not bring about an end to malice). Every now and again I like to try and bring the conversations on this list back to the raison d’être of this mailing list – actualizing peace on earth by way of ending human malice and sorrow.
If you look through the archived correspondence on the web-site you will notice that by far the majority is concerned with peripheral issues – either correspondents desperately defending their own other-worldly spiritual beliefs or correspondents petulantly propounding the current crop of meta-physical pseudo-scientific theories – and very little is about the business of bringing an end to human malice and sorrow.
RESPONDENT: In the time that I’ve been reading the list, I haven’t seen it this way.
PETER: I guess it’s just that I take being happy and harmless for granted nowadays so much so that I am puzzled that others would not want it for themselves – regardless of the price to be paid.
RESPONDENT: Fair enough. It is good to know that happiness and harmlessness is the actual result of this practice anyway.
PETER: Yep, although I do get sidetracked into having to discuss many other topics, this is the reason I have written some 2-3 million words over the last 6 years – to pass on to anyone who may be interested that becoming happy and harmless is possible.
RESPONDENT: I see people keenly interested in the psychological, physiological and practical implications of actualism, but I also see quite justifiable reservations regarding actualists’ assertions outside their area of expertise.
PETER: I presume you are commenting on the current thread of discussions concerning one particular aspect of the mystical tradition that permeates all of the sciences. The emergence of empirical evidence-based science from the ignorance, superstition and mysticism of the past is an on-going struggle – an emergence of fits and starts, often resisted tooth and nail by those who have a vested interest in maintaining the mystical tradition at any cost. The mystical tradition is still very much alive and kicking in all scientific education as it is in any discipline.
RESPONDENT: I don’t actually disagree with you here, but I do think you tend to see it where it never is and never was. I dunno Peter. I don’t want to turn this into a slanging match, and I certainly don’t think I know it all – but I’ll be buggered if I start concurring with what I perceive as your reds-under-the-bed paranoia re spirituality. Who knows, maybe I’ll start seeing them too in time. Maybe they’re actually there.
PETER: As I have said before, the only reason I started to investigated these matters for myself was that I had trod the spiritual path and had found it wanting but I was buggered if I was going to give up searching. Just as an aside, I once thought that actualism would have appeal to those who had not trod the spiritual path but experience to date indicates that actualism will probably only appeal to those who have personally experienced the inherent flaws in spirituality and are still actively looking for something better and something more down-to-earth.
As for spiritualists-under-the-bed – mysticism, spirituality and other sundry beliefs in the supernatural permeate every facet of the human condition; found not just under-the-bed, but found everywhere.
PETER: My architectural education had two distinct streams – one was pragmatic, down-to-earth and practical and the other was mystical, fanciful and ‘creative’ and it was instilled into me that the latter was more meaningful than the former. To be pragmatic, down-to-earth and practical was seen as boring, mundane and ‘uncreative’ whilst to be mystical, fanciful and creative was where the true meaning of life really lay.
Apparently the same applies in the fields of scientific endeavours as not only are whole fields of science devoted to the pursuit of the mystical, the sacred and the profound but many mystical scientists have won fame and fortune and the accolades of his or her peers for championing the mystical tradition.
RESPONDENT: I know there is a huge potential audience of people who are virtually begging for science and religion to be reconciled somehow. I know some authors prey on them. I also know that scientists are human beings who are subject to ‘human condition’.
RESPONDENT: My ‘self’ is metaphysical but not supernatural. It is a projection of the flesh, an emanation of the flesh, not something separate that survives the death of the body. I think of the self in relation to the body as roughly analogous to the relationship between a movie and the tape it is stored on. Nothing supernatural about it.
PETER: To think about the ‘self’ ‘analogous to the relationship between a movie and the tape it is stored on’ is but another version of the traditional dissociated way of thinking about the ‘self’ that is the hallmark of Eastern spirituality, a way that takes no account at all for the primary role that the instinctual passions play in both the formation, continuation and everyday operation of one’s ‘self’ or psyche.
I remember it being very important to me in the early stages of actualism to clearly understand what Richard was saying so I could clearly understand why ‘I’ exist, how ‘I’ came to be and what ‘I’ am made of. What finally twigged me to intellectually understand why the ‘self’ or psyche exists was when I finally grasped the fact that the human psyche is the inevitable outcome of the combination of the human ability to think and the genetically-encoded instinctual passions of fear, aggression, nurture and desire. The next breakthrough in my intellectual understanding was coming to realize that the traditional seekers of freedom have always laid the blame for the ills of humankind on thinking and not on the genetically-encoded instinctual passions. I also saw that this is understandable as human beings are, after-all, feeling beings and that the instinctual passions were necessary to ensure the survival of the species in the dim and dark ancient times when all of the feared superstitions and revered teachings were passed on by word of mouth, chiselled in stone or penned on rice paper.
I came to comprehend why and how the belief that thinking is the root cause of human suffering has led many a person to seek ‘freedom’ by abandoning common sense thinking and allowing their imagination and passions to run riot. This intellectual understanding accorded with my own experience on the spiritual path and, because of my own altered state of consciousness experiences and my up-close observation of many others who permanently lived in these altered states, I knew that the path of denial and transcendence can only lead to delusionary states.
These insights in turn led me to unreservedly take on board the fact that all of the ills of humankind can be sheeted home to the instinctual passions and that it is the instinctual passions give rise ‘me’ as an instinctually feeling being – in other words, I came to understand that ‘I’ am not merely an illusionary or metaphysical being, I’ am a passionate being at core.
The next step to take was obvious. If I wanted to become aware of ‘me’ and experientially understand how ‘I’ operate then I needed to start to pay attention to my feelings, emotions and passions when, and as, they happen – because ‘I’ am my feelings and my feelings are ‘me’. When I actually started to do this I discovered that I had, in fact, become an actualist.
If you are interested, I suggest reading ‘The Introduction to Actual Freedom’ as it is perhaps the best and simplest explanation of this sequence of understanding that I have written as it puts the issue of ‘self’ within the overall context of the timely need to finally bring an end to human malevolence and despondency.
RESPONDENT to No 23: Well, there’s the physical universe, which is a concrete entity, ever-changing. Whether it had a beginning (meaning it didn’t exist before it did) and/or an end will make for lively conjecture for some time, perhaps never to be resolved. Then, there’s our perception/sensation of the universe, which only exists for the immediate moment, a time span of zero. Then there’s data stored in our brain that recalls a previous perception/sensation of the universe, and our predictions of how the universe may be sensed tomorrow. These aspects (and likely others) all coexist quite happily. Respondent to No 23, 13.10.02
PETER: Whilst in theory these aspects should co-exist quite happily, the spanner in the works, so to speak, is the fact that human beings are first and foremost emotional beings, and quite proud of being so. Therefore the ‘data stored in our brain that recalls a previous perception/sensation of the universe, and our predictions of how the universe may be sensed tomorrow’ always has a pre-eminent, and pre-dominant, ‘self’-centred emotional aspect.
As a distinct and separate psychological and psychic ‘self’ inevitably develops in early childhood in all human beings, so do emotional memories of past events and our emotional expectations and wariness of future events. These emotional memories and expectations build up over time, giving the rudimentary animal ‘self’ a passionate feeling-backed conviction of existing over time – of having, and living, a distinct and separate ‘life’ of its (as in his or hers) own.
Because of this quirk of nature, this entity thinks and feels itself to be separate from the flesh and blood body and thinks and feels itself to be alien to the actual world. Thus ‘I’ can never be happy because I always feel separate and alien, which in turn means ‘I’ can never be harmless. People who have had an experience of deeply feeling this separation and alienation have to date grasped for the traditional lifebuoy – the feelings of Oneness and Unity provoked by believing the spiritual teachings.
Actualism, as you know, is about tackling the root cause of the problem rather than tweaking the symptoms. Once one intellectually grasps the fact that all human malice and sorrow stems from the feelings of separation and alienation that are intrinsic to being a thinking and feeling instinctual ‘being’, the next stage is to acknowledge one has a problem – that one is neither happy nor harmless. You put it this way in a post about 3 weeks ago –
My experience at this stage was that I was faced with a decision the likes of which I had not faced before, for I knew if I devoted my life to becoming happy and harmless then that would be the end of ‘me’, the root cause of the problem.
By devoting one’s life to becoming happy and harmless, one then automatically becomes committed to becoming aware of all of the invidious feelings as well as the self-aggrandizing feelings as and when they occur. This purity of intent and whole-hearted commitment means that no stone will be left unturned in investigating one’s own psyche in action, be it the outer layer of one’s social identity or the primordial depths of one’s instinctual being.
However, as I remember it, in the early days I would often get sucked back into my normal ways of doing things, absorbed with the lives of others, instinctually reverting to the blame-others game. It takes considerable effort and ongoing attentiveness to break old in-grained habits, to stop repressing feelings, to stop shoving things under the carpet. But in the end the successes I had encouraged me to dare to investigate all of the beliefs and passions that stood in the way of my feeling felicitous – no matter how disconcerting the process … and no matter what changes would result from the process.
PETER: You wrote to No 21 and No 45 making a comment on our recent conversations about the nature of the physical universe.
RESPONDENT: No 21/No 45: Peter and I had an ongoing dialog on this very subject not too long ago. You will save yourselves a lot of time by searching the site for terms like universe | infinite | theory etc. You will find an unequivocal stand on the nature of the universe which rejects all questioning.
PETER: I took the opportunity of reviewing our dialogue on the subject of the universe and I found no instances that I have an unequivocal stand on the nature of the universe nor that I rejected all questioning.
RESPONDENT: I’m rearranging your response a bit ...
Correct me if I’m wrong here, but this sounds like it’s impossible to be happy unless one believes that the universe is infinite and eternal. That is an unequivocal statement.
PETER: My statement about the method of how to become free from the human condition is ‘an unequivocal statement’ because it is a fact. I shan’t comment on your re-interpretation of my statement, as it is not what I said.
The other relevant point is that what I originally said was –
and I went on to provide evidence that this is so in the part of my response that you deleted in your rearranging.
I have never denied that I have an unequivocal stance on the process of actualism – I have always made it clear that I do. I not only know that the actualism method works, I know why it works and how it works. I also know that the method is universally applicable to anyone who has the genuine intent to become free of the human condition in toto.
RESPONDENT: You will, of course, correct my use of the word ‘believe’ in that statement as you have direct experience of the infinite / eternal nature of the universe, and your common sense tells you so.
PETER: Indeed, and the reason I have had many direct experiences of the infinitude of the physical universe is that I stopped believing the cosmological theories and spiritual fantasies that propose that the physical universe is other than infinite and eternal. And it was not ‘my’ common sense that told me so – it was common sense itself that led me to experientially discover that it is so.
RESPONDENT: While one can have direct experience of the universe, I think that applying characteristics to it (e.g. eternal, created) is a subjective action of the neo-cortex, rooted in ‘common sense’.
PETER: If you have a direct experience of the physical universe, you will inevitably have a direct experience of the infinitude of the physical universe because there is no ‘I’ or ‘me’ extant in a PCE to hold or maintain any belief whatsoever that it should be otherwise.
As for ‘I think that applying characteristics to it (e.g. eternal, created) is a subjective action of the neo-cortex’ it is useful to look at the meaning of the word ‘subjective’ when used philosophically –
When one uses the word subjective in this sense, then ‘a subjective action of the neo-cortex’ invariably produces ‘self’-centred impassioned imagination – exactly that which has produced the plethora of fantasies that have infiltrated much of the cosmological theories about the characteristics of the physical universe.
RESPONDENT: Common sense is context-specific and hardly infallible, merely a handy tool to sort out dis-incongruous inputs.
PETER: We have had a discussion before about the disparity between the term common sense as you use it and how the term common sense is used in the actualism writings and what it means to an actualist.
RESPONDENT: Then I shall be careful to use the term only in the way as defined in actualism, or by you.
PETER: Maybe you missed the recent conversations on this list on the topic of the sensibility of using words as they are used to mean in the actualism writings in order to facilitate clarity in communications on this list. I realize that some people object to this as though it is a sign of toeing some imaginary party line, but to me it simply makes sense.
RESPONDENT: I’d like to introduce myself (or flesh and blood body) first. I was raised in a Christian home – lost my religious faith in college – began studying philosophy thereafter – became awestruck by Meher Baba, but also very confused and uncomfortable with many of his inconsistencies.
I have fearfully studied and read voraciously in order to find the freedom that I have only recently begun to explore with this notion of actual freedom. What I read here has a ‘gravitational pull’ that I find I cannot resist. Meeting Bernadette Roberts (author of ‘The ‘experience’ of No-Self’) last February, then learning and absorbing what I could of UG Krishnamurti and Suzanne Segal left me ripe to assimilate what I am reading here.
PETER: I spent many years on the spiritual path and also started off being awestruck, moved on through confusion and uncomfortableness and eventually graduated with a diploma in disillusionment. It was a priceless journey because I discovered what didn’t work ... and after I became an actualist, I discovered why.
By the way, the experience of ‘No-Self’ is a spiritual other-worldly experience whereas what is on offer here is a non-spiritual down-to-earth freedom – the antithesis of spirituality.
If I can pass on a bit of personal experience that you may find useful – it is important at the start to slowly read what is on offer on the Actual Freedom Trust website and think carefully about what is being said, rather than skim read assuming you already know what is being said. When I first came across Richard, I would listen to what he said and make many assumptions based upon my previous understandings. He had only written his Journal at that stage and I took home a printout for some supplementary reading, but I was soon to discover the advantage of the written word over the spoken word.
I found that I needed to slowly and carefully read what was written, often going back and back over sentences, in order to try and really understand what he was saying. Sometimes I would read a few sentences and then deliberately sit back and contemplate upon the matter. These contemplations often led to realizations of the fact that actualism and actuality is indeed totally 180 degrees opposite to spiritual belief in all respects.
These realizations sometimes even lead to a slow slide into pure consciousness experiences – brief sensual experiences of the peerless perfection and pristine purity of actuality. As long as you then don’t claim this sensate-only experience as ‘your’ own and turn it into an affective experience, you will then know – by direct experience – that there is a world of difference between ‘self’-lessness and ‘No-self’.
RESPONDENT: *deep bow* Yes, observing the loosening of the clinging to wrong, though cherished, theories and worldviews is a most satisfying activity. Pointing out wrong thinking and watching the awakening that accompanies realization is great sport also.
PETER: Ah, No 22. You are copping out again. You have already dismissed the actualism method of ‘loosening of the clinging to wrong, though cherished, theories and worldviews’ by saying you prefer not to ‘bother with what must be the immensely stressful, frustrating, and quite dirty business of digging out of a hole’. And yet here you say that observing it in others is a most satisfying activity.
RESPONDENT: No-thing of ‘others’ was offered.
PETER: Of course. Silly me again. I fell for it again – hook, line and sinker. For someone who says
there are no others, as in fellow flesh and blood human beings – there is only ‘I’.
I know how lonely it was being an ordinary ‘I’, but for God-men who believe that there is only the ‘One-and-only-I’ this feeling must be something else again. When I had a good taste of a ‘there is only I’ experience it was both exhilarating and glorious but it was also totally isolating because I totally existed in a world of my own making and ‘others’ were totally inconsequential. It was this glimpse of a ‘there is only I’ experience that made me suss of the whole spiritual path because it belittled and even negated the very existence of every one of my fellow human beings on the planet.
The revered spiritual experience of ‘there is only I’ simply takes normal ‘self’-ishness to its extreme – self-ishness turns into Self-ishness, self-centredness turns into Self-centredness. The only way to become completely unselfish is to become completely ‘self’-less, i.e. no ego and no soul – which is what actualism is really about.
PETER to Alan: I have been musing yet again on the question of denial and what I wrote to you the other day –
So prolific is denial in the Human Condition that it deserves a bit more rooting around to find the real source of it. As you well know, the most prevalent self-defence mechanism evident in any correspondence we have had about the Human Condition, is one of breathtaking denial. This is the dominant response to any attempted slightly in-depth discussion or exchange, be it with Richard, Vineeto or myself. This denial is what moved me off my bum to dig in to Paul Lowe’s book, and further investigate the denial that is enshrined in the teachings of Eastern religion and philosophy. A useful exercise in itself, and great fun to do, but the response to such uncovering of the lies, trickery and deceptions of the spiritual path is inevitably one of even more denial. ‘So what’, ‘it’s got nothing to do with me’, ‘I’m not on the spiritual path’, ‘My Guru tells the Truth’, ‘it’s about the feeling around the Gurus not the facts’ are typical responses. There have been countless times when I have said to someone what a relief it is to have abandoned the spiritual world and the spiritual person I have been talking to say they agree and nod their head. Two recent examples was a woman who had just arrived in town after being in the Himalayas meditating for 3 years, the other who had just produced a magazine attacking the members of his sect for not being loyal to his spiritual master. And yet both denied they were spiritual in any way! Whenever religions are exposed for the puerile nonsense they are it’s always someone else’s religion, or the person is not part of a religion, or they simply slink away.
This denial is so common a response that I now regard it as par for the course. Ah, here comes the denial phase and anyone initially interested disappears over the hill with their tails between their legs. Richard has found a few hard-nosed spiritual teachers and spiritual intellectuals – those with the most investment – who have stuck around to defend their beliefs but their defence gets sillier and sillier as time goes on and more beliefs are debunked as more facts are presented.
But, of course, there is something deeper beneath this façade of denial. One of the major barriers is pride. To admit one is merely following a fashionable belief, mouthing a psittacism, senselessly following the herd, being the marionette who one was taught to be, and robotically behaving exactly how one’s peers demand, is a crushing blow, particularly to the proudly humble spiritual devotee. The other factor that operates to reinforce denial, as you have noted, is the desperate need to belong to the group and the spiritual believers form a very large, safe and increasingly popular group in humanity.
So I see pride and fear operating and these were certainly issues that I had to tackle in acknowledging the failure of the spiritual path to deliver anything remotely resembling freedom, peace and happiness. Digging a little deeper is to get to the core of one’s being and to come across one’s essential nature – the instinctual self. Richard uses the phrase ‘lost, lonely, frightened and very, very cunning’ to describe the psychological and psychic entity that ‘I’ am. Lost, lonely and frightened are qualities that many will admit to, and it is indeed the tacit acknowledgement of this that brings many people to the spiritual path in the first place. These qualities also provide the fuel for many to give the spiritual path 100% effort.
The very, very cunning quality of the self ensures that many people will gleefully and gullibly accept the spiritual teachings, deny the existence of the physical world, deny that they are a mortal flesh and blood, believe in their own immortality and fully indulge in the fantasy delusion that they are indeed God-on-earth. This is an act of utter selfishness, cunningly disguised as a noble sacrifice to a ‘higher cause’, yet exposed for the fraud it is when the few who succeed become Gods-on-earth, Saints, Masters, revered teachers and the like – to be feted, worshipped, adored, flattered and fawned by one’s fellow human beings.
The very, very cunning nature of the self is evident in the real world as hypocrisy, corruption, deceit, lies and denial. In spite of the constant pleas and extolling to obey society’s moral and ethical standards, human beings, when push comes to shove, inevitably revert to natural behaviour. Natural behaviour is instinctual behaviour – genetically programmed to ensure the survival of the species. The human species has been endowed with a self-survival program that almost inevitably over-rides the consideration of the survival of the group. Each human is instilled with a distinct individual self which is embellished by the ability to think and reflect into a substantive entity, an identity of psychological and psychic substance – ‘who’ we think and feel we are. It is obvious over time bargains and deals were done between groups of humans, be they biological family groups and/or tribal groups, and these eventually became formalized into particular sets of moral and ethical rules. These rules, instilled to ensure the group’s survival, became paramount over the genetically encoded, essentially individually selfish, survival program. This explanation of the human instinctual program accounts for the ongoing failure of human beings to live together in anything remotely resembling peace and harmony. An understanding of the instinctual passions in action also reveals the spiritual search for self-discovery and self-realization as nothing other than an instinctually-driven attempt at self-aggrandizement and a lust for personal psychic power over others.
There is, however, an innate quality in human beings that provides the key to the door, so to speak, the way out, the means to freedom from the instinctual passions. This quality is well described as altruism – ‘regard for others as a principle of action; unselfishness’ ... Oxford Dictionary. This quality needs to put under the microscope, examined carefully and fully understood lest one confuses it with blind instinctual passions and senseless societal values.
RESPONDENT: Spiritualism now does look like a snake oil to me, too. All ‘energy’ events, prophesying, channelling, gods, etc are probably just events generated by our psyche. So far, I have not come across any ‘other worldly event’ so I must admit it all seems to be just imagination supported by our culture.
PETER: Yes indeed. One of the many, many fatal flaws with the fairy-tale belief in a God or Gods is the cultural variations that are evidenced throughout the world.
A Christian always ‘sees’ and ‘feels’ love for Christ, a Hindu ... Krishna, a Buddhist ... Buddha, a Rajneeshee ... Rajneesh. The only common theme is a primitively-sourced belief in a Something, or Someone, Else and a Somewhere Else we go to after death. The human ability to think and reflect, combined with an instinctual fear-based self has led to the questions of ‘Where did we come from?’, ‘Why are we here?’ and ‘What happens after death?’ ballooning into great philosophical questions. In the ancient days of ignorance about the physical universe, the human body, reproduction, ageing and death, and most importantly, our implanted survival instincts, ensured these questions produced imaginary and fantasy answers that involved good and evil spirits, other-worlds in the sky, planets and stars as Gods, etc.
In 1999 the challenge now is to break free of the instinctual passions of fear, aggression, nurture and desire that are the very source of malice and sorrow. For many on the planet, life is no longer a grim business of survival and the very survival instinct, once vital to ensure the very survival of the species, now prevents us from being happy and harmless.
For me, this fact was easy to see in operation. No matter that I had comfort, security, shelter, food – I knew that I was actually neither happy nor harmless for, when ‘push came to shove’, the instinctual passions of fear and aggression would still surface at any time. Thus denial no longer became an option, and I deliberately abandoned the spiritual to avoid the traditional turning away to a fantasy world. Only then was I able to be in a position to focus my awareness on the essential and primary cause of my sorrow and malice – my social identity and my instinctual sense of ‘self’.
RESPONDENT: But this is not immortality of a person, an ego or a spirit. I have been born and will die. As you called it, we are the material universe experiencing itself as human beings.
PETER: A minor correction here, if I can. So far as we know, Richard is the only human being living on the planet who does not have an instinctually programmed and psychologically reinforced self. Everybody else, you, me, and about 6 billion others, all think and feel themselves to be something other than a flesh and blood human being, and a few human beings believe themselves to be a God and therefore immortal, i.e. something other than a flesh and blood human being. Many people have had glimpses of being a flesh and blood human being only, sans self, in a PCE and a handful have taken Richard’s lead and are attempting to emulate his condition of living continuously and permanently in this state. In the meantime, 6 billion humans fight it out in a grim battle for survival in a grim world – this state of fear and aggression, manifest as malice and sorrow, is commonly known as the Human Condition.
What we are as human beings is the most highly developed of the animals on the planet in that we are able to think and reflect. However this very capability is enmeshed with the primitive instinctual self to an extent that we think and feel ourselves to be separate and alien from the physical universe. Who we think and feel we are is a ‘someone’ who inside this body looking out through the eyes, hearing through the ears, smelling through the nose, etc. Thus we are isolated human beings who are indirectly experiencing the universe and that experience is of being lost, lonely, frightened and very, very cunning. This is 180 degrees different from being the universe experiencing itself as a human being. This state is evident only in a Pure Consciousness Experience. The only reason I can talk with any authority about being the universe experiencing itself as a human being is from the direct experience of the PCE and from living a life of Virtual Freedom whereby one is as close as possible to this state permanently, yet one remains ‘human’ – an emotional and cerebral entity. It is from this ‘base camp’ that the final step can be taken with confidence and surety.
RESPONDENT: But after we are gone there will be some other beings. The universe will experience itself in them, thus this ‘experiencing’ will go on and on. Right?
PETER: Well, as I said, so far only one human being has rid himself of the psychic and psychological entity that is the very cause of human beings to regard themselves as something other than what they are in fact. Everybody else is busy being themselves, an emotional and cerebral entity, fearful and aggressive, trying desperately to connect via the feelings of love and compassion with other similarly isolated entities or seeking a fantasy escape into a spiritual dream world.
But the one human, who has managed to achieve a pure selfless state and rid himself of his animal heritage, has lived to tell his tale, to write of his experience, so that you and I have the chance to do something about the situation we have found ourselves in. Personally, I couldn’t give a fig about what happens after I am dead.
When I came across Richard I could see that I had a chance to do something about the situation I found myself in. Aged 49, maybe 20 years left, still not happy and certainly not harmless. When offered a method to become happy and harmless, developed by someone who was obviously happy and harmless, I took up the challenge. In doing so I became ‘self’ obsessed – I wanted to find out as much as I could about the Human Condition and how it operated in me as ‘me’– who I think and felt I was. 2 years later I am now living a happiness and harmlessness that is beyond normal human expectations and far exceeds the imaginary spiritual dreams. I am only concerned with my life as a human on the planet, what I can do to permanently and constantly live as I did in the PCE. In my first PCE, lasting some 4 hours or so, I was in a self-less state. The experience was purely sensate – no thoughts or feelings of separation and no thoughts or feelings of a ‘me’ who felt connected or ‘at one with’ everything. Simply an overload of sensate input such that the fairy tale splendour of the physical universe was abundantly apparent and overwhelming obvious, and an awareness of the brain thinking and reflecting with pristine clarity. It is in these moments that one knows that what is missing – the self – is precisely what prevents this from being an on-going experience.
As for ‘The universe will experience itself in them, thus this ‘experiencing’ will go on and on.’ – it seems that you are attributing to the physical universe anthropomorphic and/or anthropocentric values. There is a common belief that attributes to the physical universe the divine values that were once attributed to individual human-like Gods or the forces of nature type Gods. Thus the earth becomes Mother Earth and the universe becomes Intelligent. I recently saw some film footage of the Apollo moon program where the astronaut described the surface of the moon as like a barren desert made of grey beach sand. They looked back at earth awed by the magnificence of a planet obviously abundant with life. As stunning as the images produced of far distant nebulae, galaxies and the like, there is no evidence of carbon-based life anywhere else in the universe, let alone anything as intelligent as the human brain.
The only intelligence in the universe that is evident is that in the human brain, if one regards intelligence as in Oxford’s – ‘The faculty of understanding; intellect; quickness or superiority of understanding, sagacity; the action or fact of understanding.’ This intelligence is currently thwarted and inhibited by the presence and influence of the amygdala or primitive brain that consigns humans to think, feel and act in animal survival mode. It is only when this intelligence is freed of the Human Condition of malice and sorrow in an actual human being can intelligence be clear of fear and aggression – pure, perfect and innocent. The brain is then freed to receive the sensory input without the constant filtering and instinctual programmed reactions of the primitive brain and, as such, a plethora of sensate delight comes swooning in on all the sense stalks of the brain. Then it can be said, for it is one’s direct experience, that I am the universe experiencing itself as a human being.
This is vastly different to ‘I’ feel myself to be the universe, wherein the ‘self’ rides on this delicious sensate experience and claims it as one’s own. This is the marked difference between a PCE and an ASC.
RESPONDENT: It is late at night so I am going to respond to a point which is important for me, it may not be important for you. I *think* you do not just cause ripples, you are capable of causing shock waves. I am sure you are not aware of that.
PETER: There is nothing more shocking to one’s ‘self’ than a discussion about facts vs. beliefs given that ‘who’ one is, as a social identity, is nothing other than the beliefs, morals ethics and psittacisms one has been instilled with since birth. There is nothing more shocking than seeing the fact that that ‘who’ one feels oneself to be deep inside is nothing but an instinctual animal ‘self’ – exactly the same ‘self’ as Mr. Ape and Mr. Chimpanzee have. The challenge is to discover what one is and the process is initially a shocking one. But soon shock turns to fascination and the thrill of discovery soon takes over.
PETER: Hmm... Tricky one this. So I am only to make one shocking statement and then make a case for it – provide proof, as you say – without saying anything else that may be shocking to you.
Okay how about – ‘If everyone stopped believing in God he wouldn’t exist’ which is something I have already related above. Now if I say – ‘If everyone stopped believing Rajneesh was a God-man he would simply be a (dead) flesh and blood man’ and then I said ‘I’m just kidding’, that wouldn’t shock you too much. Are we back to tying my hands behind my back so I have to type with my nose?
I am well aware that many read what Richard says from a position of comfort – he Guru, me disciple – but get upset when I write of the ‘doing’ of becoming free of the Human Condition.
When you say there is ‘something hidden in me’ that ‘dislikes’ what I write it is ‘you’, the parasitical entity that has taken up residence in the flesh and blood body known as No 5, that dislikes hearing facts, for facts are anathema to the ‘self’. This is the reason that most people who have come across Actual Freedom, and the facts presented, feel personally insulted and soon ‘head for the hills’. But there is also the opportunity too see this list as a discussion about the Human Condition, i.e. common to all humans, and thus avoid the trap of taking the discussions too personally. (...)
RESPONDENT: Now about: ‘Never born never died...’ I have read so many times explanations of this statement on this list, from Richard, from you. But I still can’t make head or tail of this statement. All my thoughts are borrowed thoughts from you and Richard, I have no original thinking of my own on this statement. And that is not good. I do not want to end up in believing in what you and Richard say about this.
PETER: Yes. Merely believing what others say is a bummer of a way to live one’s life – although that is exactly what everyone does.
But to stop believing and to acknowledge the facts is to demolish No 5 the man, No 5 the lover, No 5 the Sannyasin, No 5 the good, No 5 the right, No 5 the proud, etc. – and what would eventually remain is what you are, not ‘who’ you are. For me the challenge of discovering that was too thrilling to let a few wobbles or reactions stop me.
Of course, I know ‘what’ I am – the universe experiencing itself as a flesh and blood human mortal being, so startlingly obvious in a Pure Consciousness Experience.
What Mr. Rajneesh felt himself to be was an immortal God – hence his statement chiselled in marble, on his tomb, in his mausoleum – ‘Never born, never died’. Would not you agree that a human flesh and blood body is the product of a sperm fertilizing an egg and that when the heart stops beating and the brain ceases working that the body dies – to rot away, if it is not burnt? Is this fact so difficult to acknowledge as a fact? It is of course shocking for it does acknowledge that who you think and feel you are is a walk-in, a parasitical entity that has taken possession of you, the flesh and blood body known as No 5. But it does explain why the Guru’s message of immortality for the soul is so appealing to the ‘self’. No better offer can be made to an imaginary, ethereal soul than an imaginary ethereal immortality. No wonder people fall in love with Gurus – a Saviour at last!
I’ve done it again – I’ve strung together a few shocking statements aka facts. It’s just that spiritual belief perpetuates human misery and suffering on earth and it is time to expose this nonsense for what it is – puerile nonsense.
PETER: 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?
RESPONDENT: I think what I want to do with my life is only apparent from one moment to the next and that seems to be constantly changing but it seems to do with being curious, seriously curious about the workings of self. I had actually decided to end this ego self 10 years or so ago but because it was self trying to end self without a ‘relentless inquiring attention’ there was bound to be failure. Now with the aid of ‘How am I question...’ more of the moments are caught rather than the usual see one moment then skip a few moments and get lost in self intellectualization again. Curiosity I think, needs to be given complete leeway.
PETER: I was trained as an architect but on graduating found working in an office to be too removed from the building site where the business of building buildings actually happened. Consequently I became an architect-builder-carpenter as my interest was more in the practical implementing of a idea.
When I came across Richard I had spent 17 years on the spiritual path attempting to end the ‘ego-self’ but was ready to abandon the effort. I had begun to have some Altered State of Consciousness experiences but the suspicions and doubts I had of the Master-disciple business, the God-men’s lifestyle, how they were with their women, etc., meant that Enlightenment was losing its attraction. I was also becoming more and more aware of the fact that Eastern Spirituality is nothing more than Eastern Religion. I soon came to see that there were two identities preventing me being happy and harmless – the ‘normal Peter’ who was father, man, architect, etc. and the ‘spiritual Peter’ – the believer, searcher, superior one, etc. So I set about dismantling both these ‘I’s by actively challenging the beliefs, feelings, emotions and instincts that gave substance to both the psychological and psychic entity that was ‘me’.
What I increasingly discovered was that the brain of this flesh and blood body has an inherent ability to be aware of itself, an ability of apperception. When I ask ‘What am I thinking?’ or ‘What am I feeling?’ or ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ it is this apperceptive awareness that can provide the answer. It was enormously difficult and bewildering sometimes at the start but as fact replaced belief, clarity replaced confusion and sincere intent replaced ‘open-ness’ and listlessness, ‘what’ I am – not ‘who’ I am – gradually emerged and became apparent. At first, the whole exercise can feel like a weird ‘self trying to dismantle self’’ exercise, but soon one realises that it is fact dismantling belief, apperceptive awareness dismantling self that is happening.
So for me, in hindsight, it was apperceptive awareness – the ability of the brain to be aware of itself – that does the job, dismantles and demolishes both the normal and spiritual, both the psychological and psychic entity. When one has a realization about a belief and ‘sees’ the facts there is an actualisation that can occur which is not of ‘my’ doing. In the face of the blinding and glaringly obvious fact, sensible down-to-earth action can ensue. In the spiritual realm, one merely ‘realises’ and takes on board a new belief such as ‘I am really God after-all!’ or ‘I am Immortal – thank God!’ – and non-sensical action inevitably occurs.
Many people who have read a bit of the Actual Freedom writings think that the dismantling of spiritual beliefs is some sort of side issue, or a sort of ‘put down’ as is common in the spiritual world between various teachers and Gurus. This is to miss the essential iconoclastic nature of Actual Freedom. To live in the spiritual world ie. to have spiritual beliefs is to be twice removed from the actual world. The spiritual world is an imaginary world that the spirits dwell in. The psychic entity or soul within the flesh and blood body is a ‘spirit’ ie. non-actual and metaphysical. The self as soul ‘dwells’ in the spiritual world while the self as ego ‘dwells’ in the normal world.
RESPONDENT: How could innocent beingness be an illusion if the being isn’t ‘doing’ anything other than observing?
PETER: If ‘innocent beingness’ is Real then everything else, such as the computer monitor you are reading these words on, and everyone else, such as me typing these words, must be an illusion to you. This is known as solipsism. I know this would be a shattering blow to your spiritual ego but perhaps, just perhaps, you might consider that both the computer monitor and this human being called Peter are factual and ‘innocent beingness’ is a delusion? To remain an observer is to miss out on the chance of being an active participant in the business of being alive as a flesh and blood mortal body in this very moment of time in this very place in space.
RESPONDENT: You are presupposing this state is some sort of psychological construct ... you are denying that it is possible be without an ulterior motive.
PETER: Eastern religious teachings and philosophy is based on the idea that the ego, or personal self is merely a psychological construct and the flesh and blood human body is merely a vehicle and this is best summed up by the phrase ‘I am not the mind, I am not the body’. The teachings claim that there is a real self, soul or Spirit who is the genuine product and one only needs to ‘realize’ this and one gets to be Divine, Immortal, Timeless and Spaceless.
Unfortunately this feeling of Godliness comes with a fatal flaw – the drive to spread the message that there is a real ‘you’ inside and all else is an illusion. The drive to be a Saviour of mankind is part and parcel of the delusion of Divinity and is nothing other than self-aggrandizement for to be a Saviour comes hand in glove with a hypnotic psychic power over any gullible human beings who are willing and eager to believe.
RESPONDENT: Where did the idea of ‘selfhood’ come from in the first place?
PETER: All human beings are born with a set of genetically-encoded survival instincts broadly fear, aggression, nurture and desire. These instinctual passions are instilled by blind nature to ensure the survival of the species. However in human animal these instinctual reactions are ‘self’-centred, as it is in apes – our nearest genetic cousins. Our instinctual-rudimentary ‘self’ is based firmly on the surge of chemicals arising from the primitive reptilian brain that give rise to causing automatic thoughtless and instinctual-emotional reactions. Thus this elementary ‘self’ is felt to be our instinctual ‘being’, at our very core.
‘Selfhood’ is not an idea – it is based on a genetic-encoded ‘self’ located in the primitive brain.
Further, this primitive ‘self’ is made more complex in human beings by our ability to think and reflect and to be conscious of that process. As such, we have a more elaborated ‘self’ consisting of ‘who’ we think ourselves to be and ‘who’ we feel ourselves to be. ‘Who’ we think and feel ourselves to be is a psychological and psychic ‘self’ – both a mental and emotional identity – that develops in the neo-cortex as a discordant and alien identity that appears to be located in the head (as ego) and felt in the heart (as soul) and the gut (as instinctual being).
MODERATOR: The rejection of rigid religiosity for the purity of the ‘pure consciousness experience’ you are calling for has been the message of most of the world’s mystics – including those whose recognition of the complexity involved in actually doing so eventually led them to create doctrine, path and form to help others progress toward the goal.
PETER: Ah, I can see why I am still on the list. You think I am peddling some new variation of old time religion disguised as New Dark Age spirituality.
When I first came across the possibility of an actual freedom from malice and sorrow I thought it must have been a spiritual thing because only the spiritual people talked of freedom. It took me months until I began to understand that the traditional spiritual path offered a feeling of liberation for one’s spirit or soul before death prior to a final real liberation from earthly suffering after physical death. I see that some people on the list use the expression illusion of ‘self’ and others refer to the illusionary physical world which means what must be REAL is one’s spirit, soul, Self, Atman, Essence, Heart, etc. – a disembodied, non-physical entity. By concentrating on repressing sensible thought, denying the actual world as evidenced by the physical senses, and letting one’s impassioned feelings and imagination run riot a new detached, superior and holy entity is realized.
To get to this state of complete dissociation is for most a very complex and torturous process and only a rare few manage to pull it off completely. The level of denial of the physical world alone requires an extraordinary effort. To regard all that we see, hear, touch, feel, smell, eat and breathe to be illusionary requires a mind-bending act of astounding tortuousness. It is because of the complexity and difficulty involved that most mystics had to renounce the obvious pleasures and delights of the physical world and go off to caves, monasteries, ashrams, lone wanderings and indulge in often bizarre practices such as meditation, yoga, chanting, whirling, special diets, celibacy, etc. in order to strengthen their fantasies.
The ‘self’ (including all its cunning spiritual variations) is an illusion, not the physical, tangible, palpable physical world.
The simple test as to what is actual is to place a peg on the nose, place some Gaffer tape firmly across the mouth and wait 10 minutes. As you rip the tape from your mouth and gasp for breath you will have an experiential understanding of what is actual and what is illusionary.
When I had my altered states of consciousness experiences I couldn’t quite pull off the denial of the physical bit. Something always made me suss about the need for renunciation, the isolationism, the elitism, the head-in-the-cloud feelings. The grand and glorious feelings were sure seductive but thankfully I held on to my doubts and my common sense and didn’t trust my feelings.
If you can recall having a pure consciousness experience you would remember that there is not a skerrick of rigid religiosity nor slippery spirituality in it at all. It is an experience where there is no psychological or psychic entity whatsoever present in the flesh and blood body. There is no ‘I’ to feel glorious, to feel Oneness, to feel Divine, to feel Whole. There is no Love, God, Essence, Source, etc. that is the grand reason, plan, creation, essence, energy, life-force, etc. that gives the psychic entity in the body a grand and glorious place or part to play. In the pure consciousness experience there is no affective faculty, nor any capacity for imagination in operation. So vast, so perfect and so pure is this physical universe directly experienced by the body’s physical senses that the immediate becomes vibrant, alive, sensuous, tactile and actual. There is no feeling of separation, nor any feeling of unity for it is obvious and apparent that I am this body, made of the same stuff of the universe, live cells made from the union of sperm and egg, sustained by eating the stuff of the earth, swimming in and breathing the air of the earth, surrounded by stuff made from the earth – and when this body dies the stuff left goes back to the earth. Finish, kaput, finito, gone, extinct, stuffed, no more. Perfect.
Because a pure consciousness experience is a temporary ‘self’-less experience with no emotions or feelings operating whatsoever there is no emotional memory of the experience afterwards. As such it can be lost in the memory or can easily be dismissed as an aberration and not taken for what it is.
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: So the big difference is that there is still the ‘spiritual-self’ that can be hurt, offended and react in emotional and destructive ways whilst in your view there is no ‘self’ that can be hurt and therefore cause harm to others. It sounds good but it must be a very delicate matter to pull it off in real life.
PETER: It is impossible to pull off in either real life or in spiritual life for many spiritual people claim a self-less state when saying they have realized their true Self or Being. I am talking about initiating a process that leads to an ending of any identity, self, Self, being, Being, whatsoever.
This results in stepping out of the spiritual world and the real world, into the actual world and leaving your self behind where ‘you’ belong.
RESPONDENT: My view of life is becoming more basic and simple (I hope) and therefore I’m becoming a bit allergic to all concepts of ego, self etc. We’re walking around on this earth as human beings and the only way we can see what we’re made of is what comes out of every man/ woman. Our actions and the way we relate to others is what count regardless of what goes on in our heads.
PETER: What goes on in human heads and human hearts is ‘who’ we think and ‘who’ we feel we are. If you are happy with the way ‘you’ are then you will not consider such a radical and irrevocable change as self-immolation. It is the entity inside of everybody that is lost, lonely, frightened and very cunning that causes all the malice and sorrow on the planet.
RESPONDENT: I am left wondering why there is always this struggle between ‘self’ and ‘Self’, with the supposed answer being the creation of a ‘third alternative’.
Thus far humans have attempted to escape from being a thinking ‘self’ seemingly trapped within a mortal flesh and blood body and shifted their identity to becoming ‘who’ they instinctually feel they are – their soul, atman, spirit, Self, Isness, etc. – an immortal ethereal being, ‘just passing through’ this illusionary physical world.
To actively undertake the process of one’s own ‘self’-immolation is a third alternative that results in the progressive eradication of both the instilled social identity and the encoded instinctual identity, thus causing the cessation of the instinctual passions of fear, aggression, nurture and desire. This is not ‘the creation’ of anything new but the deliberate elimination of all that is illusionary, instinctual, ancient, rotten and redundant.
What remains at the end of this process is ‘what’ you are, not ‘who’ think and feel you are.
RESPONDENT: This seems to be a very basic formula, but knowing that the mind can only deal in division and loves to split and then reassemble the pieces of the fractured wholeness back into what appears to be something ‘new’, there is some sense that we could be playing the same old, never-ending game again here.
PETER: Indeed, there is a plethora of claims made for a new spirituality, a new way, an ordinary spirituality, the real Truth, a third way, a middle path etc. In my spiritual years I remained loyal and faithful to one teacher for most of my time but when he died I saw the inevitable fragmenting and formaldehyding of the religion so I moved on to others who all claimed to have unique new insights and revelations. I never quite managed to replicate the love affair I had with my first teacher which, in hindsight, was very useful. I was more able to clearly look at what the others were saying and offering and I eventually came to see that they all parroted versions of that old seductive message – there is life after death and we are just ‘passing through’ before we go to a better place ‘somewhere else’. Sweet music and sweet poetry for the soul. The more one soaks up this message, the less one becomes interested in, and involved in, life on earth, where we flesh and blood humans actually live.
What I saw was that I was playing the same old denial, renunciation and transcendence game that has been played – with undoubted sincerity, conviction and intensity – by billions of my fellow human beings for millennium. That’s why I went for something new and radical – to cut to the quick of the problem –’me’ (as ‘self’ or ‘Self’).
RESPONDENT: The fear that we are nothing can rarely surface. As soon as some doubt starts to arise it is blocked so we never see what is really going on. We add all sorts of other identities to our own false sense of self to help us feel we are in fact who we think we are. We cling to ‘our’ family, ‘our’ country, ‘our’ race, and on and on always trying to build up walls of ‘us’ against ‘them’. There is in reality no such entity. All wars, all hatred, all suffering ultimately comes from that process.
PETER: I see you are claiming there is no such entity as ‘our own false sense of self’ thereby obviously implying that either there is a real sense of self or a real self. The great realization in the spiritual world is that there is a false self who is an illusion because ‘it’ lives in the illusionary physical world but there is a Real self who lives in the Real spiritual world.
The spiritual view is that ‘I’ as the thinker is the issue and then one is extolled to actively encourage ‘me’ as the feeler to run rampant. My experience when I started to run with the question ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive’ was that it was feelings which continually and relentlessly emerged as my experiencing. Thus ‘I’ needed to feel grateful for being here in order to transcend the underlying feeling of resentment at having to be here at all, and ‘I’ needed to feel love in order to bridge the gulf that ‘I’ as an alien entity feel between ‘me’ and other human beings. ‘I’ feel compassion for others as a way of being able to indulge my own feelings of sorrow and ‘I’ feel indignant when someone else suffers injustice as ‘I’ really like a good fight. ‘I’ am ever fearful of what others think of me or feel about me, ‘I’ am ever on guard, ‘I’ am ever ready to defend myself against having ‘my’ feelings hurt. ‘My’ ploys are many in the battle with others – confrontation, withdrawal, snide remarks, denial, a bit of undermining, a bit of cutting down to size, a bit of a whinge to someone else – ‘I’ can be as cunning as all get-out in these battles, if need be.
‘I’ readily believed in the spiritual beliefs and wallowed in the blissful feelings as a welcome escape from everyday reality and the promise of an after-life was poetry to ‘my’ ears and salve to ‘my’ heart. ‘I’ felt deep-down that there was no hope for Humanity and no hope for me, and from these feelings were born a desperate belief in an after-life as an escape from the despair of life on earth. The list goes on and on as ‘I’ fight it out for survival with others in a grim world, and ‘I’ will ultimately do anything to stay in existence. ‘I’ am rotten to the core – the combination of animal instinctual passions and an ability to think and reflect make the human animal not only malicious but cunningly malicious. This lethal combination allows the human species not only to wage wars, inflict genocide, rape, murder, torture and pillage to a scale unprecedented in any other animal species but allows for the psychic warfare and power battles, blatant denial, fantasy escapes, corruption, deception and deceit that is endemic in all human interactions.
It soon became obvious to me that freedom from being an identity – social and animal-instinctual – was the only way to get free of this constant emotional churning and the constant selfishness of indulging in denial and fantasy escapism.
You are firstly inventing a ‘false sense of self’ and then you go through a process that leads you to declare ‘there is in reality no such entity.’ Thus your real self is then free to blame the ego or false self as the reason for ‘all wars, all hatred, all suffering’ . Thus your real self survives as an increasingly dissociated and disembodied entity and meanwhile ... ‘all wars, all hatred, all suffering’ continue given that the real culprit has got off scot-free
The spiritual search will never bring peace on earth. ‘Self-immolation is the only solution.
RESPONDENT: I am not implying there is a self in any form. You have no idea of what the great realization in the spiritual world is. You just have words and beliefs.
PETER: Well, as far as your words go, you not only implying there is a self – by whatever name and in whatever form – you have stated it repeatedly and quite clearly –
Here you use the words ‘state of being’ instead of ‘self’, but a state of being obviously refers to some state of consciousness and not the flesh and blood body only. Being is defined as
No mention of a being as a flesh and blood corporeal body only.
What is clearly indicated here is that we have ‘the creation of a being’ that is capable of being consciously aware of God, by whatever name. The use of capital letters is common in spiritual writing to denote god, divineness, godliness, sacredness, etc. There being no physical change to the flesh and blood body with this act of creation, this new being is clearly synonymous with creating a new identity, a new Self, or whatever other name. This inner shift of perspective that you have so clearly indicated is commonly termed an altered state of consciousness. This is a far, far, far cry from self-immolation, which results in the extinction of alien entity inside the body with the resultant elimination of all instinctual animal passions – the root cause of human sorrow and malice.
And here you use the term identity in lieu of self or being. Methinks you should tighten up your terminology but the trouble is, as the spiritual world is now coming under increased scrutiny, you might find yourself being called even more to task if you settled down to being clear about what it is that you are teaching. After all, you have confirmed that
while clearly stating
To put it simply, you have confirmed that religion doesn’t work, you have awakened to a state where ‘I am able to point out where the real problem is’ and you are offering a new, and I take it, non-religious, solution to end ‘all wars, all hatred, all suffering’. These are big claims that should be able to withstand thorough scrutiny lest you are merely offering a disguised form of religiousness which you yourself agree is part of the problem and not the solution.
PETER: You are firstly inventing a ‘false sense of self’ and then you go through a process that leads you to declare ‘There is in reality no such entity.’ Thus your real self is then free to blame the ego or false self as the reason for ‘all wars, all hatred, all suffering’ . Thus your real self survives as an increasingly dissociated and disembodied entity and meanwhile ... ‘all wars, all hatred, all suffering’ continue given that the real culprit has got off scot-free. The spiritual search will never bring peace on earth. ‘Self-immolation is the only solution.
PETER: Which part is nonsense? You are on record as saying that it is the mind identifying with suffering and hatred that is the problem and awakening from this dream is the solution –
And as you awaken you discover that your mind is no longer ‘identifying with beliefs, images, fear, suffering, hatred, etc., etc.,’ all because you have had a shift in perspective, commonly known as an altered state of consciousness. This does not bring an end to ‘all wars, all hatred, all suffering’ but merely ensures that your mind no longer identifies with it.
This is why I said the spiritual search – the search for Awakening, Enlightenment, Self-realization, Wholeness of Being, or whatever other name – will never bring peace on earth.
PETER: Thus far humans have attempted to escape from being a thinking ‘self’ seemingly trapped within a mortal flesh and blood body and shifted their identity to becoming ‘who’ they instinctually feel they are – their soul, atman, spirit, Self, Isness, etc. – an immortal ethereal being, ‘just passing through’ this illusionary physical world.
To actively undertake the process of one’s own ‘self’-immolation is a third alternative that results in the progressive eradication of both the instilled social identity and the encoded instinctual identity, thus causing the cessation of the instinctual passions of fear, aggression, nurture and desire. This is not ‘the creation’ of anything new but the deliberate elimination of all that is illusionary, instinctual, ancient, rotten and redundant.
What remains at the end of this process is ‘what’ you are, not ‘who’ think and feel you are.
RESPONDENT: Thanks Peter for clarifying your dis-covery of the Truth of Being that can only be experienced NOW.
PETER: No, what I am talking about is the ending of being. The search for the Truth of Being is an utterly selfish pursuit for Meaning by the psychological and psychic entity that dwells within the body. Having discovered a self-gratifying Truth the entity then attempts to live this inner truth NOW, moment to moment, in the actual physical world, with varying degrees of success. The only way this can be pulled off successfully, as every spiritual seeker knows, is to dissociate completely from the physical world. Thus the search for Truth of Being is a process of turning away, turning in, letting go, withdrawing, disidentifying, and finally complete dissociation aka Enlightenment.
There are three ways a human being can experience being here –
PETER: A freedom from ancient belief and spiritual superstition. A freedom from being a social identity attempting to obey pious spiritual/ religious morals and follow unliveable social ethics in order to keep one’s instinctual passions under control. And, finally, the elimination of the instinctual ‘being’...
RESPONDENT: Ok, but how do we eliminate it?
PETER: Well the first step would be that you – not we – would have to be interested in questioning the veracity of your own spiritual/religious beliefs. Thus far on this list, no-one yet seems willing to do this, so any posts to me have been of the usual dismissive objection type defending spirituality, rather than anyone daring to investigate their own feelings that arise from their own instinctual passions. Ridding oneself of malice and sorrow is a purely personal responsibility – not a mass ‘let’s all retreat from the world so we can all feel good together’ movement.
RESPONDENT: The spirit, or Self, Oh there it is, the self with a capital S. I was meaning to ask you, how are you defining ‘Self’? What is it (attributes, properties)? And is it finite? Or is it not-finite – the All, the totality of all there is? A part, or the whole?
PETER: At the core of the Eastern religious view of the world is the concept that all humans are born ‘innocent’ and have only been corrupted by ‘evil thoughts’ since birth. It is further believed that it is possible for a chosen few to regain this mythical ‘natural’ innocence, in this lifetime on earth, hence the search to find one’s ‘original face’ or Divine Self.
The fashionable practice of meditation, sitting silently and retreating from the world as-it-is, is but an escape from the ‘real’ world into an imaginary ‘inner’ world where feeling and fantasy can run riot. One is actively extolled to abandon sensible thought, to surrender one’s will to a Divine Energy or Entity, and to trust one’s feelings. Giving full reign to one’s ‘good’ tender instinctual passions while ignoring and denying the ‘bad’ savage instinctual passions has led to impassioned delusion – human beings who believe themselves to be God-realized or God-men.
The Eastern religious fervour for worshipping mortal men as immortal Gods is an affront to intelligence that does nothing but perpetuate human misery and suffering and human enslavement to ancient fears, superstition and ignorance. Any chance of an actual peace on earth is readily and eagerly forfeited for an imaginary peace after physical death ... or, for the rare few, the chance to become God on earth.
RESPONDENT: What is our collective will? Do we even have one?
PETER: The collective will of the species is a will to survive as a species. Blind nature wires each species with an instinctual response mechanism in order to perpetuate the particular species. It is a very clumsy package and in many species it actually conspires, making survival difficult. The migratory patterns of many birds and animals are such as to cause the futile death of many. For humans these instinctual responses are fear, aggression, nurture and desire.
Fear and aggression are necessary to attack and defend against other animals that would kill or eat us. In the human species this includes to attack and defend against other humans in competition for territory, food, mating partners, etc.
Nurture is essentially the instinct to procreate, provide for, protect and pass on any knowledge, customs, morals, ethics and beliefs to the next generation.
Desire is the drive to survive – it translates into sexual conquest, power over others, and attaining the necessities of survival such as territory, food, offspring, and the protection of others. Played out by 5.8 billion humans these instinctual patterns combined with tribal conditioning results in the Human Condition as we see it in operation on the planet. This is what we humans agree we are, and we further believe that you can’t change human nature. So we all agree that we can’t change ourselves, so no one dares to try.
It is now possible to become free of the collective will. But it does take the courage to stand on one’s own two feet, to stop believing what others tell you as truths and start looking at facts. Then one discovers and sensately experiences the delight, ease, magic and perfection of the physical universe.
RESPONDENT: Well, at this point, we are facing the results of all of our past and present actions taken, actions to help each of us as individuals/small groups rather than the whole. The results we are creating are not punishments. Rather, we are about to face the results of our actions because these are the natural laws within which we live. We are getting what we’ve created.
PETER: This seems to be a concept that humans have consciously or unconsciously created something together. The idea that there is some thing that binds us to act together or that there is someone in control is not supported by the fact that each human has a self and is automatically driven by self-preserving instinctual passions. To perpetuate this belief in a solution to your dilemma which involves everyone miraculously changing together or acting together is to miss the point entirely. The cause of all the sorrow and malice is in you. It is the psychological and psychic ‘self’. Who you think and feel you are as distinct from the physical body you are. Unless this issue is tackled individually, unless people are willing and courageous enough to want to change themselves, nothing will change for them. The rewards of this change are indeed extraordinary.
RESPONDENT: Discussion is never bad since everybody is forced to at least make up his own ‘mind’ instead of consoling him/herself with borrowed knowledge.
PETER: Yes, this level of discussion usually involves talking about things on a ‘surface level’ and then maybe taking on board what someone else has said as a bit of one’s ‘self’. Sort of a ‘that sounds good’ – I’ll add it to my bag and maybe re-arrange things a bit to ‘clip it’ on to ‘me’. This sort of response is most evident in the New Dark Age where yet another ‘new’ ancient knowledge sweeps through town. Feng Shui is one that comes to mind – all of a sudden relationships haven’t been working because the Chi has been flowing out the back door or into the toilet seat (if you left the lid open).
It is all simply a re-arrangement of one’s ‘self’. For me, I was Peter the husband, father and architect and when that ‘me’ collapsed in a weeping heap ‘I’ became Prabhat, the Sannyasin. The taking of a new name was symbolic of taking on a new identity and boy ... was I proud to be with the ‘Master of Masters’.
I simply took on the Eastern spiritual philosophy with all its mythical tales, all passed down for millennia.
The sort of discussion we are attempting to have here is one that investigates and exposes all the ‘borrowed knowledge’, Wisdoms, psittacisms and beliefs. And it is not only confrontational to dig deeper, it is downright threatening. It is life-threatening to the ‘self’ – the who you ‘think’ you are and who you ‘feel’ you are that in fact consists of nothing more than this ‘borrowed knowledge’, overlaying a primitive instinctual self.
It is so scary that most people will not even begin the process of a serious discussion of these matters – blindly flapping that they already ‘know’ it all, this is ‘nothing new’, it’s just another ‘truth’, they have no beliefs or ‘borrowed knowledge’, they have found an ‘authentic self’ or a Divine self, an unconditional Love or even a ‘no-self’ self.
For me, when it was scary or confrontational I knew it was ‘me’ who was feeling scared, or fearful. It was fear in my body and I wanted to be free of fear.
The only way to be free of fear is to get rid of ‘me’ who was fearful. When I met Richard and understood that what he was offering meant the end of me, I plunged right in. I figured ‘I had nothing left to lose’ except more of what I knew was a second-rate life, and then I’d die.
To be free of fear – happy and harmless, benign.
Anything but even begin to question ‘what’ it is to be a human being. The lost, lonely, frightened and very, very cunning entity that is ‘me’ desperately avoids any discussions that are at all scary, preferring to ‘play in the shallows’.
Maybe one day we can begin to dig a bit into the Human Condition rather than snorkel around the surface wondering whether these are safe waters to swim in. They are not – they are anathema to the very ‘self’ – the seat of malice and sorrow within us.
But dare to eliminate the ‘self’ and ... hey presto! – the actual world of delight, perfection and purity is immediately apparent and obvious. That which we so desperately seek in the ‘inner’ spirit-ual world with a synthetic ‘feeling’ of love or Love is actually here – a direct palpable intimacy with things, events and people.
It was here all the time, only ‘my’ very existence was preventing me, this flesh and blood body, from being here.
The only way I can be here in the actual world is for ‘me’ to self-immolate.
RESPONDENT: (...) Peter, if you are finally found a state which is constantly joyful and wonderful and free of all beliefs or whatever, you should thank Osho Rajneesh cause you have similar destiny case like Gautama Buddha. He was searching 6 years (only) and in the moment when he was too tired of everything ... ops! sorry – you all already know the story. Everything out there (literally) you may use like helping tool in the path. Disturbance and everything bad is caused only from things in our heads ... I think ...
PETER: In my experience the disturbance and everything bad is caused not only by what is in our ‘heads’ but by the passions and loves within our ‘hearts’. These passions, feelings, beliefs, emotions, and instinctual drives are the very things that we kill and die for. They are why we form religions, fight wars, cause us to attack and defend. The self is both a psychological (cerebral) and psychic (affective) entity and until we eliminate both from ‘inside’ us peace and harmony will remain an impossible dream, both individually and for the human species as a whole.
PETER to No 27: I went back through some archives the other day and the only sense of humour readily apparent was people sending in jokes by others. Apart from that I found some who were serious in their spiritual beliefs, a lot of quotes from many Masters and pundits, some cat-fights and a bit of social stuff. And I come along, an ex-Sannyasin, willing and able to challenge the teachings, encouraging a lively discussion about life, the universe and what it is to be a human being and the standard response is – you’re too serious! Peter, List C, No 27, 9.1.1999
RESPONDENT: For me, you may be willing to challenge, but you fall short of being able. I’m just an ordinary guy... distorted in some my ways... anyway, all I am able to put out are just opinions when discussing the lives of you and others. I am content with knowing only my own experience. Since I can know only my self, I know you can only know your self. I do not question your experience. But I do disregard your discussions and conclusions of others lives as delusional gibberish. Only because you are unable to accept that you also have only opinions and you speculate on situations and you draw conclusions... These are fine for conversation... but that’s not what you are here for.
PETER: I too am an ordinary guy, flesh and blood, born of sperm meeting egg, with a full healthy set of instincts and social conditioning, good member of society, tiny bit of a rebel in early life, settled down to wife, 2 kids, two cars. Then ‘normal’ life was shattered with my wife leaving and I set out on the spiritual path. The death of my son at the age of 13 intensified my search for freedom – as contemplating death often does – to the extent that I couldn’t hang in around the religion I clearly saw forming around a dead master. And then I ran into a guy who offered another path and so I took it. That’s all.
But what it has done is give me a method to dissolve my ‘self’, the psychological and psychic entity I ‘think’ and ‘feel’ myself to be. This dissolution has now occurred to the point that the brain of this flesh and blood body is able to operate with such clarity that I am able to report facts of what it is to be a human being free of both ‘normal’ and ‘spiritual’ beliefs. What you do with these facts is, of course, entirely up to you. I am not certainly not saying believe me – but I thoroughly recommend the journey of discovery to question beliefs and determine the facts.
PETER: Consciousness is what is happening when one is alive and awake and is epitomised by three faculties ... the sensate, the cerebral and the affective. Unconsciousness is what is happening when alive and in deep sleep, concussed or anaesthetised and is epitomised by oblivion.
The ‘self’ is who one ‘thinks’ and ‘feels’ oneself to be as opposed to ‘what one is’ – this flesh and blood body. As such ones emotional memories of the past provide an affective record of the existence of ones ‘self’ and is the direct cause of so much suffering. We wallow in past emotional memories, constantly re-running and re-interpreting the past in order to maintain our feeling existence. These wallowings of ‘me’ – both happy and sad – actively inhibit the direct experience of this, my only moment of being alive.
PETER: Eastern philosophy and religion deny and negate the innate intelligence and common sense operation of thought while giving full and unbridled reign to the affective and imaginary faculties. ‘Get out of your head and into your heart’ can be translated into ‘give up common sense and you can imagine and ‘feel’ anything you want to’. Feelings of Love, Oneness, God, etc. abound – varying only by the particular belief system one is influenced by at the time.
Peter’s & Richard’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.