Selected Correspondence Peter
Sense and Sensible
RESPONDENT to No 7: (...) In spiritual practice the rule of thumb is that you are not anything that you can observe. So, the trick is if you can see something, a feeling, a thought, etc. as it ‘arises’ the fact that you are capable of witnessing it means that you are larger than it, not defined by or ultimately identified as the thing (feeling is the best example) that is being witnessed. The problem, as you seem to surmise, is that there continues to be an implied ‘you’ doing this witnessing. The feeling or thought has become an object of consciousness, but the sense persists that there is someone one, some Who doing the witnessing. Of course, this fuels the search for the ‘real’ you. (...)
PETER: Just to join in with my two bob’s worth on watching. I coined a couple of terms that I found useful to me and that tended to cut through my spiritual teachings and give me a more down-to-earth approach to the running of the question ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ One was that I became ‘self’-obsessed for the first time in my life and the second was that this obsession had a purpose and a meaning and that was as a psychic ‘search and destroy’ mission. (...)
Another piece I discovered that may help drive a wedge between the spiritual approach and that of the actualist –
Ah! Just found another bit that describes the difference between the passive act of being a watcher and the active act and intent of being an actualist – 180 degrees opposite. How more radically different can one get from self-aggrandizement on one hand and self-immolation on the other?
Well that’s it for me for now. I just wanted to post my experiences about awareness, to point out the differences of the spiritual approach and the actualist approach and report my successes. I found the only way to start something new was to drop all ideas that I had taken on board before and this is why I personally coined a couple of practical terms that had nothing to do with previous terms I had been accustomed to.
PETER: Just a couple of points from your last post to Vineeto I would like to comment on and pass on my experience on the path to freedom.
ALAN: On my way to cash & carry this morning I was continuing to contemplate the realisation which I had about a fortnight ago – ‘I’ was all that was standing in the way of peace on earth. I suddenly realised (‘got’) that ‘I’ had to go in ‘my’ entirety to achieve actual freedom. Not almost all of ‘me’, not 99%, not just the beliefs, but every single smidgen of the personality which considered itself to be Alan.
PETER: (...) The other facet to the path to Actual Freedom – to the 99% stage – is that realisations are clearly seen for what they are, sudden and dramatic flashes or glimpses of a belief exposed as merely fictitious and not factual. These realisation have a feeling ‘high’ associated with it, as a sense of liberation and startling clarity is affectively interpreted and experienced. While extremely useful and ‘par for the course’, as beliefs are exposed and eliminated, it is what one does with the realization, what action or change is evinced, that is important and significant, not the realization itself, per se. One needs to be aware of realisation addiction, to put it bluntly, as one can spend an inordinate amount of time and effort looking or waiting for them and as such ‘not being here’. They are but curiosities and will eventually subside – to have had their day, exactly as will the rest of impassioned feelings and irrational imagination, if peace is one’s aim. A personal peace in the world-as-it-is, with people as-they-are, that is.
I wrote a bit in my journal about realisations that may be useful –
So Alan, hope this has some relevance to your current experiences and may be of some use.
It is a most fascinating business, this pioneering trail-blazing. The cute thing is we get to do it with absolutely no physical hardship – on the contrary, hedonism and physical delight abounds and abounds...
PETER to Alan: I have been watching a bit of afternoon TV lately and have been particularly fascinated by the nature programs. In my childhood the word ‘environment’ was not even known. 40 years ago human beings on the planet simply used and often abused the land, water and air. Resources needed for human survival were seen as endless, and it was only with world-wide communications that more people are aware of the fact that we are very much a planet bound species – we are earthlings. This global view allowed the majority of humans to think about pollution and overpopulation. We are moving from a position of being hunters and gatherers on the planet into one of sensible custodianship. I use the word custodianship in the sense that humans are the predominant and intelligent species. This whole set-up is, after all, for our enjoyment, our delight as free humans. The tough business of early human beings – the very real struggle to survival involved fighting for territory, struggling for food, struggling against disease and sickness, etc. Despite the romantic ideal that ‘things were better in the old days’ or ‘in Ancient Times’ the facts point to millennia of warfare, plagues and famines – a constant battle to survive.
Now the ‘tough battle’ for human beings is to accept the challenge of being happy and harmless – to put an end to the battle to survive and rid ourselves of malice and sorrow. It is now possible for us to send people to Mars on a space ship but the major difficulty is that the voyage would be 18 months long and it’s impossible for the crew to live together without fighting for so long a time. The main problem is the human inability to relate to each other, let alone live together, in peace and harmony. The elimination of the very source of malice and sorrow is the next and vital stage in human evolution. This is the very cutting edge – an actual freedom from the Human Condition – the ending of a species.
ALAN: ‘Political correctness’ is also rampant here – a leading judge made a joke at a dinner party last week, along the lines of ‘someone made great advances in the legal profession after having three transplant operations – he was given the breasts of a lesbian, the penis of a black man and the buttocks of a gay man’. I thought it quite amusing, but such is the power of the three lobbies he ‘insulted’ that he is likely to lose his job. The military are also engaged in peace keeping operations, which do not amount to ‘war’. If bombing the shit out of someone and firing dozens of cruise missiles (costing in excess of a million dollars each) is not ‘war’, I’d like to know what is.
PETER: I used to think that there was a solution for Humanity’s ills, that if only ... I would watch TV or participate in the typical male conversations about what was right or wrong with the world, what needed to be done. Now it is apparent that Humanity is terminally ill – finished, kaput, stuffed, going around in circles, revolution after revolution, cycle after cycle, old wound after old wound festering to the surface again. It’s time to abandon ship – to have the courage to stand on one’s own two feet as it were while being sensible enough to keep one’s hands in one’s pockets and one’s ‘opinions’ to oneself. Except if you find someone who is interested in freedom, and then it is hard to stop raving ...
ALAN: Yes, I did nothing to either ‘get into’ my feelings, nor to ‘get rid’ of them. An awareness of what I was feeling, an examination of what was occurring, an investigation into what caused the feeling (usually a belief) led to the particular emotion disappearing without, as you say, ‘me’ being aware of it happening. Do you think it is ridding oneself of beliefs that causes the emotions to vanish? Unlike emotions, I was usually aware of the disappearance of a belief – a ‘getting it’, which I have written of previously.
PETER: I just wrote to No 3 on this matter as to how I see belief, feeling and emotion. It might be useful and may address your question – let me know if it doesn’t. I would only add that one doesn’t eliminate feelings totally until the ‘lot’ goes – until the fat lady has sung, so to speak. But the ‘vanishing’ of emotions from one’s daily life such that one has a 99% perfect day, day after day, is the base camp for the final event to happen.
So, it’s back to the couch for me, after all, life was meant to be easy.
I always thought what a marvellous time it was to be right in the middle of the formation of a religion when in my spiritual days and now I get to see the beginnings (or continuation) of a war on TV. Such fascinating times to be alive – to see the cultural identities we have been imbibed with, to see the religious myths, to see the Human Condition as a totality.
Actual Freedom has never been possible before as it was physically impossible to obtain an overview of various social identities and tribal groupings, as well as an overview of the effects of instinctual-driven passions. There has been an explosion of knowledge and information that makes believing in Ancient Wisdom an insult to intelligence. In the past there was always a maybe, always a possibility that someone had a solution somewhere and it was just a matter of finding it. Nowadays you can just log-on or tune-in, and all of Humanity’s wisdom is available for perusal and scrutiny. For the first time in history one has sufficient information to sort out for oneself what is silly and sensible without having to believe what others say.
All that is needed is a willingness to find out for oneself what it is to be a human being.
PETER: So, to continue our discussion about ‘the wide and wondrous path to Actual freedom’. I keep thinking of the appropriateness of Richard’s phrase as we enter this stage of looking at, and experiencing, the rudimentary animal self ‘at work’ so to speak. What an amazing thing to be able to dig so deep into one’s own psyche that one can get to the core of the programming in the brain – beyond the programming in the ‘Modern Brain’ and into the primitive brain and the genetically implanted instinctual self. No doubt, you read of the work of LeDoux in investigating the pivotal role of the Primitive Brain – the Amygdala – in inducing fear, and we have put together a schematic diagram showing the central role of the Amygdala in producing instinctually-sourced emotional responses. It is the first of the posts – it’s a bit big at the moment to send in this post but it’s worthwhile clicking it open as it forms the scientific neuro-biological basis of what it is we are doing ‘live’ at the moment.
It is indeed serendipitous that LeDoux is mapping the effects of the Amygdala at this very time and that it coincides both with Richard’s experiences and writings and our discoveries as well. I do like the factual and actual – the path to freedom from the Human Condition gets wider and wider, more blatantly obvious, easier and better mapped with every passing day.
If you will indulge me a bit, Alan, I want to write about the schematic diagram for a bit. LeDoux empirically investigated the pivotal role of the amygdala in producing the feeling of fear, in particular the relationship between the thalamus (relay centre), the amygdala (feelings) and the neo-cortex (modern brain/thoughts).
These investigations also substantiate the fact that no matter what degree of control is exercised by the neo-cortex in terms of morals, ethics, good intentions, etc., when ‘push comes to shove’ we revert to type – and reverting to type means animal-instinctual. This is clearly verified by the being ‘overcome’ by rage, fear or sadness and being unable to stop it.
On reading this, I am reminded of the Steve Martin movie – ‘The Man with two Brains’ – if I have got the title right. Again the example of being overcome by rage, fear or sadness is a good one, for often the source of these emotional reactions is seemingly unconscious to the thinking brain – the neo-cortex. No doubt the childhood trauma therapists will use this as a justification for their work but, as we know, the problem lies not with the emotional memory but with the dominant position and influence that the instinctually-sourced emotions have in our lives. The quick, dirty and hard to control Amygdala, or primitive brain, forever condemns humans to animal behaviour. That the most significant human activity over the millennia has been – and still is – the waging of war is testament to the dominance of the primitive instinctual brain.
Back to the diagram and we will see that our area of concern is the psychological self in the neo-cortex and the instinctual self in the Amygdala. ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ causes the neo-cortex to focus its attention on the activities of the psychological self that has been instilled since birth. This focussing allows us to see the over-arching role that emotions have in causing us to be malicious and sorrowful, and we find that we can reduce their influence in our lives with sincere intent.
The other area this awareness operates on is demolishing the social identity – the morals, ethics, values, beliefs and psittacisms instilled to keep the instincts ‘under control’. This is a crucial step on the path to Actual Freedom as it is both a radical and iconoclastic step. This step can only be undertaken with a memory of a Pure Consciousness Experience – an experience of self-lessness that gives one the confidence to venture beyond what is considered safe, sensible and sane. This memory of the PCE can give one access to pure intent to ‘venture into the unknown’, or to be more prosaic, become aware of the raw instinctual emotions of the Amygdala – to look at one’s animal heritage.
These two facets – reducing the influence of feelings and emotions – both the supposed ‘good’ and ‘bad – and demolishing the social identity, the ‘guardian at the gate’ ultimately brings one’s bare awareness to focus on the Amygdala and its instinctual programming. The focus is then on the instincts in operation both in the body and in the brain – with minimal psychological and emotional effects. This would explain your current experiences – ‘The sensations I am experiencing have no affective element – as I said in my last mail, it is ‘fear’, without being frightening.’
I can’t emphasise enough the fact that this deep sea diving into the depths of one’s instinctual being can only be undertaken with the removal of the social identity and this can only be done with the pure intent borne out of the PCE – i.e. one needs to know where one is going and have the confidence that it is safe to do so. The only thing that could go wrong is that one will instinctually grab for safety – the good emotions – and Enlightenment will result. It’s interesting to note how the survival mechanism kicks in, and one’s identity does a life-saving grab. I actually experienced this as an instinctual grab in one of my ‘death experiences’.
So, I think I’ve finished with the schematic diagram but we are working on expanding it to look at the brain(s)’ development and programming at and after birth, and what happens on the wide and wondrous path to Actual Freedom. It’s all experiential, and the diagrams should only be treated as schematic, but I do like them – maybe it’s the architectural training. I think I can get on to your post now that the rave is raved-out.
ALAN: And, to insert a quick ‘plug’ for the benefits of virtual freedom, even if one does not go all the way. At a time considered to be the most stressful there can be in a persons life – selling a house, selling (or closing) a business and a likely break up of a marriage – here I am, enjoying every moment and delighting in the experience of being alive – I thoroughly recommend it.
PETER: Yes, indeed – this is what it is all about. This is why we delve into beliefs, explore feelings and emotions, contemplate upon the Human Condition, and dare to be different. The practical, down-to-earth results in everyday living – for what else is there? The whole aim of the exercise is to become actually free of malice and sorrow – to become happy and harmless. And this is done incrementally, bit by bit, and the results come incrementally, bit by bit. The ‘events’, realizations, wobbles, etc. are then seen for what they are – interesting by-products of coming closer to a sensible and sensate experiencing of the ‘main event’ – that which is happening right now. There is no suffering on the path – anything that occurs in the head or heart is but the consequence of daring to devote oneself to becoming free. While the challenges may seem daunting on occasions, the rewards for stubborn persistence are abundantly apparent in the increased ease and delight in everyday life. It is this everyday happiness and harmlessness that gives one the confidence to pursue the unimaginable – the living of the Pure Consciousness Experience 24 hours a day, every day.
It reminds me that whenever I have written, or said to anyone, that one of the reasons I abandoned the spiritual world was ‘that I did not like how the ‘Enlightened Ones’ were with their women, I didn’t like their lifestyle, and I didn’t like how they were with each other! ’ – I have had no response. Sort of a blank look, as though – ‘What is he on about?’ The Divine Status of the Gurus apparently exempts them from regarding and treating their fellow human beings as exactly that – fellow human beings. This superior and ‘Holier than thou’ attitude also permeates into the minds and hearts of their disciples as they worship, idolize and attempt to emulate the Gurus. Why do humans persistently worship the elite few God-men as having achieved the pinnacle of human achievement yet persistently ignore their ‘personal’ lives and behaviour when ‘off stage’. There is no ‘on-stage’ and ‘off-stage’ in actualism, there is no divine life and secular life, there is no other place or other life – be a past life, a next life or a life beyond physical death.
Actualism is 180 degrees opposite to the spiritual escapism and, as such, I was delighted to read of your experiences, Alan. They accord with my own everyday experiences and are evidence of the success being reported by the handful involved at the moment.
PETER to Alan: For me, it was such an adventure to get to the bottom of the stifling mystery, the conspiracy of silence, the moralistic mumbo-jumbo and beliefs that actively prohibit free sexual enjoyment and a direct intimacy between any couple, be they normal or spiritually inclined.
Which brings me back to people-as-they-are – (a feeble attempt to round this rave back to some semblance of order). Whenever Vineeto and I talk or write of becoming free of the Human Condition, we are often seen (judged?) as being judgemental or attacking and not tolerant or respectful of the other’s position. In considering this, the only sense I make of it is that we are threatening in that we are putting into practice the concept that one can become free of the Human Condition – i.e. how human beings think, feel, believe and imagine themselves to be and how they are instinctually programmed by blind nature to function. Now any sensible investigation of the Human Condition involves observation, investigation, comparison, contemplation, consideration and judgement. One has to come to a conclusion as to what is silly and what is sensible, otherwise the whole exercise is merely intellectual wanking. Having made a judgement as to what is best, then action is required – one is compelled to action, unless one wants to settle for second-best – but that’s another story. So no bleatings of ‘you’re being judgemental’ will work with me – it’s a furphy that’s been bandied around since morals and ethics were first chiselled in stone and devised to silence the sensible. ‘Judge ye not’ is a platitude invented by God-men and other charlatans in order that no one would question the rest of their inane platitudes. It is one of many dimwitticisms, passed off as Guru-wisdom, that have no other meaning or purpose than to keep their followers and disciples under control, humble, grateful, loyal and above all non-thinking.
But if anyone wants to remain as they are, second-rate, rooted in the past, or off in la-la land, then fine. Somewhere there is a Peter or a Vineeto who might appreciate a bit of ‘judgemental’ straight talking, a first hand account about becoming free of the Human Condition, what it’s like to challenge all beliefs, what it’s like to leave one’s ‘self’ behind. I strongly recommend being judgemental – making a judgement, an evaluation, a discernment, a decision, a finding, an appraisal, an assessment, a conclusion. At the very least one practices thinking, at best it may provoke action, at worst you may be inaccurate and need to re-assess. This is the process of learning called trial and error. One simply proceeds to what is sensible and what works, and one finds one has discovered a fact. And one can rely on a fact. It takes a little practice but eventually ‘you’ become redundant in the game as the facts start to speak for themselves.
PETER: Hi Alan,
(...) I recently watched a TV show where a scientist was studying and trapping pythons in Africa and putting radio collars on them. Before leaving, after a few months of field work, he then set fire to the hut of some native hunters who trapped snakes for food and to sell their skins. He looked a bit unsure of himself and his ethical motives but justified his action on the basis that the ‘survival of the planet’ depends on the ‘survival of the python’ and thus was more important than the survival and livelihood of this particular group of humans. Another program followed a U.N. funded group studying monkeys in East Africa and the colony was declared ‘endangered’ by the encroachment of a local village that was growing in population. A local U.N. health official who was interviewed said that U.N. funding for birth control and community health programs had recently been drastically cut, but maybe they could divert some money from those studying and preserving wildlife ‘as their funding was substantial and growing’. Animals before people is now not only a New Age obsession, but official well-funded policy. I have no dispute at all with sensible environmental programs or polices, but there is a plethora of popularist dooms-day beliefs, and many dubious scientific theories are used to justify these paranoid fears. These grim world theories are all fuelled by the sensation-seeking media and lapped up by the gullible.
PETER to Alan: I can describe the process as the death throes of ‘me’, and a chemical death throe at that, but there is no doubt that, as this builds, the end of ‘me’ will be a weird and passionate affair. I have used the word dispassionate in my writing lately and thought I needed to clarify its use. The human mind, as I have discovered on this journey into my psyche, has the ability to investigate, explore and unravel its own workings. This ability is what the word apperception means – the mind becoming aware of itself.
Or as Richard-the-wordsmith says –
It is this apperceptive awareness that enables the brain to be aware of the process that is happening in the brain. In the early stages of developing apperception one is able to discern the difference between thoughts and feelings, and as one proceeds to see the influence of morals and ethics, to distinguish between belief and fact, to determine what is silly and what is sensible. As one dares to dig a little deeper one encounters the emotions that underlie the surface feelings and then one can dig deeper still to explore the instinctual passions. When one can finally investigate and explore the instinctual passions in operation dispassionately – i.e. being able to see them in operation without being affected by them – one is clearly able to see and experience them as an unnecessary and unwarranted intrusion.
To get to this stage involves a deliberate and persistent process of removing the impediments to this apperceptive awareness becoming possible. Then periods of pure consciousness are possible, as in the pure consciousness experience, and this is a potential for anyone willing to remove the impediments of a social identity and the passions of one’s instincts. As such, during this process of elimination, one has many dispassionate glimpses whereupon one’s sensate perception and awareness is free of the influence of instinctual passions – hence my use of the word ‘dispassionate’. After these glimpses, one returns to ‘normal’ and becomes again these passions, morals, ethics, beliefs, etc. and incapable of dispassionate thought – and this is where sincere intent comes in. One can then use those passions for one’s own sincere intent – towards actualizing the ending of ‘me’.
PETER to Alan: I often wonder what people make of the simple statement that one has a social identity that consists of all the morals, ethics, values and psittacisms that have been instilled by one’s peers in order to keep one ‘under control’ and to make one a ‘good’ citizen. It seems such a straight forward statement yet there is no discussion or questioning whatsoever regarding morals and ethics and their failure to stop the barbarous human warfare that rages on the planet between various tribal, religious or ethical groups. Despite the fact that countless well-meaning people have been following these pious morals and unliveable ethics there is still no end in sight to the sadness sorrow, depression and suicides. Having to live one’s life bound – as in bondage – to a set of morals and ethics is to be shackled to Humanity. (...)
An identical scenario also operates with our spiritual/religious beliefs that have been passed on to us as a social conditioning. Later on in the evening, the husband made a comment about religions at one point and when I asked him his views he said he was not religious but found much to his liking in Buddhism. When I pointed out that Buddhism was an Eastern religion he looked at me as though the thought had not occurred to him. Goodness knows what all those statues are about, what all those temples, all those monks and nuns, all that prayer, worship, devotion, sacred texts and objects are about if not to denote a religion. And yet those on the ‘Eastern spiritual path’ somehow manage to think themselves unique and ‘different’, on the cutting edge of ‘consciousness raising’, whereas in fact they are (as I was for 17 years) merely dedicated followers of fashion. A New Dark Age fashion that unabashedly aims to turn the clock back to belief in ancient mythical, mystical mumbo-jumbo. Of course, whatever brand of religion one follows, believes in, trusts, and regards as the One and Only, one is then bound to vociferously support it and faithfully fight to defend it. This superstition, prejudice, bias and intolerance then necessitates that one espouses and practices ‘tolerance’ for other religions purely because of one’s imbibed hatred and suspicion of other creeds. My former spiritual group, the Rajneeshees, are notorious Christian haters – as was Rajneesh himself. The Christians are notorious Muslim haters – a feud that dates back thousands of years and that no amount of ‘tolerance’ has managed to quell. Protestant and Catholic feuds are notorious and the list goes on and on ...
Tolerance is pretty thin on the ground and when push comes to shove it simply disappears into thin air. As does ‘civilized behaviour’ when war breaks out, as does being good when rage wells up in one’s bosom, as does love disappear when jealousy rages, and the list goes on and on ...
Yet despite the abysmal failure of ethics and morals to curb our instinctual passions people desperately cling to rights and wrongs, good and bad, rather than look at the third alternative – a common sense judgement of what is silly and what is sensible, based firmly on facts.
For me, the first and most freeing of these common sense, silly/sensible judgments was to ditch any tolerance of religions whatsoever. Too much blood has been shed, too many have humbly prostrated themselves to the God-men’s Super-Inflated Egos to be tolerant of this errant puerile nonsense. And yet, whenever I care to point out the facts of the failure of religious belief to bring peace to earth and an end to human suffering, I am accused by some of having some sort of personal vendetta or grudge running. Most curious.
PETER to Alan: There was also another, no less important, motive. I came from some 17 years on the spiritual path where one was either free as in Enlightened, an awakened wannabe as in a teacher, or Enlightened as in an indisputable God-man. Once I recognized that the path to Actual Freedom had nothing to do with the traditional spiritual freedom, it became clear that a new form of communication was possible that had nothing to do with the demeaning humbleness that passes for communication in the Master-disciple system. We now have the opportunity to move beyond the traditional bowing down before some Guru or devotedly parroting some God-man’s wisdom whereby we can now ask sensible questions from an expert, an authority on the subject of both spiritual freedom and Actual Freedom. There is also a chance for those who are interested in freedom, peace and happiness to share their successes and failures, to ask questions and get answers, to make up their own mind free of emotional pressures, to move at their own pace ... or to bail out if it is not for them. For this type of discussion to eventuate I realized I had to be both an initiator and a contributor for it to be of benefit to me and others.
Again a win-win situation.
Further, there is the obviousness of having the courage to stick one’s head above the parapet, so to speak. What struck me was the fact that Richard has been daring enough to not only to be the first to become free of the Human Condition but to then go public with his finding. For this he has had to run the gauntlet of cyber abuse and ridicule, but if it were not for that fact that he did it, neither you nor I would be as happy or harmless as we are today and this forum would not exist. If it were not for the fact that Vineeto and I stuck our heads above the parapet by writing to the Sannyas mailing list, some who are reading these words would not be doing so. What others make of these words is purely their business but that we can talk of how to become free of malice and sorrow is an astounding development that is only possible via the World Wide Web. The benefit of the Net is that abuse from others is limited to swear words in capital letters or cyber-execution from mailing lists but one is tested nevertheless as to whether one takes offence – for if there is an emotional response it is a sure sign that there is a ‘me’ who takes offence and then ‘I’ have something to look at. This communicating with others also has the advantage of letting others know that there is now available a third alternative to either remaining normal or becoming spiritual.
Again a win-win situation.
Another point that comes to mind is that becoming free of the Human Condition is not a dispassionate affair – it is not about stripping one’s ‘self’ of emotions or making sense of the Human Condition such that one becomes a stripped-down clever cool ‘self’. The motivation to get beyond this stage has to be a ‘self’-less concern and consideration for one’s fellow human beings, such as is experienced in a pure consciousness experience. The utter futility and sheer pointlessness of human beings being instinctually driven to battle it out with each other in a fear-driven struggle for survival on this verdant and bountiful planet becomes startlingly evident ... and one is inexorably drawn to do something about the situation. You realize in a pure consciousness experience that the only thing possible to do is to ‘self’-immolate – to rid this flesh and blood body of the entity that is, by its very nature, malicious and sorrowful, that ‘I’ can only be a contributor to violence and suffering on the planet. You realize that this act is the only sensible and practical contribution you can make to peace on earth.
Thus the essential fuel for ‘self’-immolation is altruism – the instinctual passion to sacrifice oneself for the others. This passion has to be activated and cultivated as a burning desire, for it is the only fuel that can get you through when the other passions begin to diminish in Virtual Freedom and comfortable ‘normal’ threatens to set in. Personally, this passion has always proved too strong to sit on for too long – soon I find myself back writing again, sticking my neck out, taking another risk, saying yes to being here and playing this game of being alive.
So many people seem to be put off by any passion for freedom after their failures on the spiritual path but I fail to see how one can become free of the Human Condition unless it is a burning ‘self’-consuming passion. For me, one of the ways to both activate and cultivate this passion has been to write, both as a way of going beyond my comfort zone and of my fuelling my altruism. Also, I know that what I write about actualism and Actual Freedom will be of benefit to other actualists.
Again a win-win situation.
I am not suggesting that everyone needs to write a journal or needs to write on a mailing list, but some form of ‘coming out of the closet’ is essential, for that is, in essence, what becoming free of the Human Condition involves. The sensible and easy way to do this is to follow someone who has already done it and also to share one’s experiences, knowledge, successes and failures with others who are actively doing it. Richard did it by himself, as everyone else has to, but we now have the benefit of being able to have the support of others and to give support to others ... altruism in action, if you like.
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’ i.e. non-actual and metaphysical. The self as soul ‘dwells’ in the spiritual world while the self as ego ‘dwells’ in the normal world.
To be an actual flesh and blood human being is to be without ego or soul – then one can find a personal peace in the actual world, free of the Human Condition.
PETER: If you want to be happy and harmless then nobody does it but you.
RESPONDENT: It seems to me that this inquiry is done by the self without regard for the self almost like jumping off a cliff. It is amazing how after having gathered enough information about the woes of self, the self then in its own pathetic way attempts to dismantle itself. I think though this is the point where attention plays an important role. I am finding this curiosity-lead attention to be most liberating.
PETER: We are attempting to develop a consistent ‘story’ and terminology in describing the path to Actual Freedom not as a philosophy or another ‘ism’, but to attempt to clearly communicate our experiences to each other – to swap stories and experiences on the basis of a commonly understood language. As such the ‘curiosity-lead attention’ may well be what I was describing above as the combination of sincere intent and apperceptive awareness. If your curiosity includes an investigation of the myths and beliefs of Ancient Wisdom – the foundation of the spiritual world – then a sensible, sensate experiencing will become more and more apparent. One finds oneself engaged in the thrilling business of actively dismantling one’s own psychological and psychic entity – doing what every one warns you not to do, or says is impossible to do.
RESPONDENT: I have only a general game plan so far and it goes like this.
The following is New for me:
PETER: Good to hear from you. You seem to be having great fun.
RESPONDENT: Indeed, at first when I heard that investigation into ‘me’ would be a wonderful adventure I couldn’t really see how, as emotions are sometimes hard to deal with. With bare awareness in full swing though, everything becomes fuel for a curious mind.
PETER: I found an advertisement in the local spiritual magazine that states very clearly the distinction between the spiritual approach to dealing with the emotions arising from morals, ethics, beliefs and animal instinctual passions and that of an actualist. I know there is an enormous amount written on the Actual Freedom Trust website about this subject but every now and again something catches my eye that blatantly exposes the spiritual approach of actively creating a new identity who transcends or rises above the unwanted bad or savage passions.
The advertisement is for a 4-day workshop entitled ‘Dis-identification’ – Letting Go of Self Hatred.
He writes in his introductory section –
This description very well describes the spiritual practice of disidentifying from unwanted and undesirable emotions and identifying with the wanted and desirable emotions. The undesirable real-world identity is transcended and a new desirable spiritual identity is created. The newly formed spiritual identity dis-identifies with the old identity and becomes aware of and suppresses, pushes away or ignores the unwanted emotions. This is not a bare awareness operating but an identity splitting itself into two – one good half being aware of the other bad half. To call this action awareness is to misuse the term as the awareness is so selective it would be best termed as occultation or denial. It is this very labelling and judging of feelings and emotions as good or bad, right or wrong, desirable or undesirable that prevents an active and equal investigation of all emotions and their instinctual roots.
This is why it is essential to dismantle the morals and ethics we have been instilled with since birth that deem anger a bad thing and that it is wrong to be angry. In the spiritual world, these morals and ethics become even stronger, such that the writer of the passage above cannot even say he is being angry. He uses the term – ‘ feel anger arising’. Unless one is prepared to investigate the validity and sensibility of moral and ethical standards, any in-depth investigation into one’s own psyche is impossible. It does seem madness to abandon the very glue that appears to keep society safe and keeps a lid on rampant violence and that stops one from running amok.
But three facts clearly indicate a new approach is necessary –
The first point means that the honest seeker of freedom, peace and happiness will not settle for a suppression or transcendence of unwanted or undesirable emotions.
The second point means that the honest seeker of freedom, peace and happiness will not merely swap one set of morals and ethics for another for he or she will be acutely aware that the ‘becoming spiritual’ option is merely adopting another identity and another even more insidious form of entrapment. All people are instilled with spiritual-based morals and ethics and everyone who has sought freedom has developed a spiritual identity to varying degrees which is why the elimination of one’s social identity is the primary focus of an actualist. The clue to morals and ethics in action are feelings such as guilt, shame, embarrassment and resentment on the one hand and pride, piousness, arrogance and condescension on the other. So much conflict, dissension, confusion and obscuration is caused by a stubborn unwillingness to rigorously examine the facticity and effectiveness of the morals, ethics and beliefs we are instilled with since birth. Most of the objections to being happy and harmless on the Actual Freedom Trust website go no deeper than obstinate and superficial objections on the basis of right and wrong, good and bad rather than a mutual discussion based on what is silly and what is sensible, what is belief and what is fact. Only by eliminating one’s social identity can one eliminate the constant flood of minor feelings, emotions and worries thus leaving one free to tackle one’s instinctual being, ‘me’ at my core.
The third point means the pure consciousness experience gives one the knowledge and confidence that not only is it possible to live without the burden of ‘self’-centred instinctual passions, it is essential to do so in order to directly experience the already and always existing peace on earth.
It is interesting to look back on the process and the stages I went through in investigating feelings, emotions and instinctual passions. With each emotion I investigated it was always an essential first step to investigate the goods and bads, the rights and wrongs, and all the things I had been told and thus assumed to be true – my beliefs. I know we keep flogging this aspect but unless one undertakes this process any investigation will be superficial and offer only a temporary relief of the symptoms without ever tackling the underlying cause of the instinctual passions.
What I am suggesting is to be alert to the feelings that arise from one’s instilled morals, ethics, beliefs and values, for these are the first line of ‘self’ defence that needs to be tackled. This is where labelling and making sense of the feelings and emotions is vital for then you can make sense of the apparently arbitrary and chaotic jumble that arises. One begins to see patterns and traits that are common to all human beings and that give rise to the human condition in operation in yourself as well as others. My experience was that these feelings associated with my social identity were the easiest to tackle and the confidence gained from the success in tackling them was fuel for digging deeper – and the freedom gained was deliciously palpable.
PETER: Every tribal grouping has its own set of moral and ethical standards imposed by carrot and stick so as to keep the group together and ensure a reasonable standard of behaviour of members of the group towards each other. These ‘sort-of’ do a reasonable job within the group but other groups with different standards and values are often seen as wrong or bad, which gives rise to so much conflict. Even within any group the resulting restrictions do nothing but keep the lid on the worst of the covert malice and sorrow. The ‘good’ No 3 and the ‘right’ No 3 have to step out of the way sufficiently in order that you can see what is really going on in your psyche.
RESPONDENT: Also any failure (or difficulty) investigating can become a progressively more difficult stumbling block, as it can become a matter for supporting the idea that ‘I am not worthy of achieving this’.
PETER: The ‘I’m not worthy’ idea bugged me on and off for about 6 months or so, and it eventually collapsed by itself like a limp balloon. It seems to have some of its substance in the spiritual idea that only the good and noble are ‘chosen’ – that there is a ‘Someone’ or ‘Something’ that decides who is worthy or not worthy, who is blessed or who is damned. The other issue is the constant drumming we have from our peers such as ‘who do you think you are’, ‘how come you think you know better than everyone else’, etc. It is called the ‘tall poppy syndrome’ in this country. The cute thing is that it is okay nowadays in some circles for someone to call themselves God-on-earth or God-realized and yet when an actualist dares to stick his or her head above the parapet, those same people heap scorn or can’t get beyond their spiritual conditioning to see the down-to-earth-ness of what is now on offer.
The ‘why me’ eventually wore itself out with a more pragmatic ‘why not?’ Was I going to continue being malicious and sorrowful when I could be considerate, sensible and magnanimous, when I could see that the excuse I was running was about ‘me’ objecting to me, this flesh and blood body, being here.
RESPONDENT: I have been mulling over this word ‘desensitise’, as it does seem to suggest a preventing of awareness, which seems a contradiction. It probably has more to do with triggers though, as in challenging the validity of a belief that triggers an instinctual response. Most systems that deal with neurosis, phobia, etc, seem to be only concerned with the ‘belief’ side of the problem and not instinctual triggers themselves, as apposed to the actualism desensitise, also includes challenging instinctual triggers.
PETER: Let me start by saying that ‘desensitise’ is not a word I would normally use in describing the process of actualism because the word ‘sense’ has several common meanings and, as such, using the word desensitise can be somewhat confusing.
When I likened actualism to desensitisation, I was referring solely to reducing or eliminating the emotional see-saw of savage and tender sensitivities that prevents awareness, inhibits common sense and stifles sensuousness.
Spiritual conditioning greatly prizes and ennobles emotional sensitivity, per se, while blatantly ignoring the fact that spiritual so-called awareness and sensitivity is highly selective and selfish in that spiritualists ignore, deny and dis-identify from their own undesirable savage passions while exaggerating and identifying as being the tender and desirable passions.
I am constantly amazed as to how unaware spiritually conditioned people actually are. The contradiction between how they think and feel they really are and how they act with each other and towards those who are ‘less-aware’ or believe in a different God is stunning, to say the least.
But I think I see where you are coming from when you write –
Obviously the first step in becoming desensitised is to allow oneself to become aware of, or sensitive to, the full range of emotional experiences, as and when they happen.
It is vitally important to experience a feeling as a feeling – to be able to feel and experience a feeling and emotion as it overcomes you. When you label the feeling you are having then you can take note of how it works. In the case of anger, feel the blood rushing to the head, listen to your words as they come tumbling out, feel where and how your body instantaneously tenses as the chemicals flush in, notice how long it takes for these chemicals to subside, and then notice the feeling that immediately follows your anger. And don’t forget to be aware of, or sensitive to, the effect you have had on others by feeling angry.
This is awareness in action and when this process is undertaken often enough, diligently enough and deeply enough, it is then possible to become desensitised to emotions when they arise in you and others around you, as in, ‘reduce or eliminate the sensitivity ... to a neurosis or phobia, etc.’
RESPONDENT: It probably has more to do with triggers though, as in challenging the validity of a belief that triggers an instinctual response. Most systems that deal with neurosis, phobia, etc, seem to be only concerned with the ‘belief’ side of the problem and not instinctual triggers themselves, as apposed to the actualism desensitise, also includes challenging instinctual triggers.
PETER: As you indicate, a grown-up awareness and a willingness to investigate inevitably leads to a curiosity as to what moral, ethic, value, belief or psittacism it is that triggers an automatic instinctual response in you. This awareness is in fact an awareness of your own social identity in action – in my case it was becoming aware of Peter the male, Peter the Australian, Peter the father, Peter the Christian-come-Rajneeshee, etc.
I began to become aware of the feelings that arose when I was in female company and the feelings that arose when I was in male company. I began to notice the feelings that arose relative to the country I was born in, be it pride, patriotism, defensiveness or whatever. I began to notice the feelings that arose towards my family as distinct from others and how these feelings crippled intimacy. I began to notice how deep my moral and ethical conditioning ran – how many automatic good-bad, right-wrong judgements I made without even thinking about the subject or bothering to find out the facts, let alone take them into account.
This is an exciting stage in the process because, as you increasingly become aware of your social ‘self’ in action, there will soon come a time when the whole stack of beliefs, morals, ethics, values, psittacisms and instinctual passions that constitute your identity will temporarily collapse and a PCE will occur.
You will then be able to observe the insanity of a passion-fuelled Humanity from the outside, as it where, whilst free of any psychological-social or psychic-instinctual identity whatsoever. Then things really get cooking ...
RESPONDENT: Desensitise would include the challenging of anything reducing the quality of this moment by ‘direct perception of triggers plus reflection about any missed triggers and an ongoing memory based consolidation of such’, which allows for an informed response, at least in the rational part of the brain.
PETER: I am going to do a bit of cut and paste as I have discovered a piece in the glossary which relates to the issues of sense, sensitivity and desensitising. I wrote it at the time when I was actively digging into these issues in order to understand them and I seem to have covered much of the very ground we are now discussing. Actual Freedom Trust Library
I don’t know if that serves to throw some more light on the issue. What I wrote on self-awareness in the Glossary may also be useful in once again making the distinction between spiritual myopia – a term Vineeto coined for spiritual awareness – and the two eyed awareness of an actualist.
Peter’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.