Selected Correspondence Peter
GARY: So, Peter, I think I am finding the doing part very difficult. I seem to be spinning my wheels a lot fearing the consequences.
PETER: What I found essential was to always remember how far I had come, how much better my life was since I first started to focus my awareness on ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ Sometimes I would lose the plot but whenever I met other people, be they ‘spiritual’ or ‘normal’, I was reminded I no longer complained about the weather, I no longer got angry at others, I no longer put down other people, I no longer bitched about life or blamed other people for how or what I was feeling, etc.
The trick was to remember my down-to-earth successes whenever doubt started to set in, to crank up my YES to being here. It is almost as though one needs a blackboard with successes written on it, and you make a habit of wheeling it every now and then so as to make a calm dispassionate review of your successes in becoming happy and harmless.
In short, pat yourself on the back regularly.
GARY: Your advice, as usual, is sensible and balanced. I am doing much better now. I went through a particularly low spell, but I have learned a good deal about myself as a result of the process. My partner and I were talking yesterday about how much we have learned about each other having gone through this recently. It is incredible actually how much better my life is since I started to focus my awareness on being here. My ‘bad spells’, if I can call them that, while intense, are comparatively shorter in duration. For instance, it was a bold step to quit my job with no other prospects in sight, but it got me off my butt and doing something for myself rather than continue on in a mediocre situation, which I was unhappy about. I was able to rally myself relatively quickly and to apply myself with assiduity to what needed to be done. That in itself is a big success.
PETER: It is common wisdom that suffering is good for you, you get stronger from suffering, that you grow and learn by suffering, etc. By experiencing the bitter-sweet lure of feeling sad, by observing it in action in your life and sufficiently investigating the roots of sorrow and depression, you eventually come to realize that all you get from suffering is more suffering. The feeling of sorrow is a seemingly bottomless pit leading only to utter despair where the only way out of a living hell seems to be suicide.
Personally, I did not have to dredge this deep to cut the ties to sorrow but I did explore fear to its limits of dread and terror. It does seem that exploring and experiencing the extreme limits of some of the passions may come about on the path to becoming free of them, but as more information and experiences are logged up this may well be unnecessary for many who follow. I can remember after my dread and terror experience saying that I had done that and didn’t need to explore any further.
I have run the gamut of the passions from the Altered States of Consciousness experiences of God and heavenly realms to the dark night of the soul experiences of Evil and hellish realms and while both were interesting, to say the least, it is not necessary to have experienced the extremes of the human condition to know that the only sensible way out is to leave the impassioned imagination of both Good and Evil behind.
PETER: ‘We moved to a new flat last weekend, so I am now sitting at my almost-totally-new computer in our new flat, looking out over heath covered sand dunes at the Pacific Ocean. <snip> The ocean is a steely blue-grey, today reflecting a seemingly paler autumnal sky.’
GARY: Sounds idyllic. Your seasons are almost an exact opposite to ours. We are in ‘spring’ here, but there is a covering of deep snow everywhere and our lakes are still frozen over. Even the natives here cannot believe the amount of snow and ice we had this year. But ‘iceout’ is not far away now, and one can see and smell many signs of the seasonal change, always a thrilling time of year in the north country.
PETER: Idyllic it is.
I have lived in many different places and circumstances and have always noted that the place or circumstances were irrelevant to my happiness. I have lived in rural houses, in city flats, in rich countries, in poor countries, in dumpy one-room student digs or in the lap of luxury, and this changing of circumstances has served to teach me that real-world ‘idyllic’ values do not translate into contentment, let alone peace of mind.
The last flat Vineeto and I shared was a very typical two bedroom flat with a small balcony and it proved perfect for our study of man-woman relationship and, with a satellite dish hooked up to our TV set, we were also able to study the human condition in general. This flat is far more open with a garden to play in, views of the ocean, the horizon and an expansive sky – ideal for the next stage: the cultivation of sensuousness.
Upon reflection, perhaps this is the reason that I find myself less interested in writing of the human condition – now that the explorations and discoveries are finished, I can clearly see and experience Humanity’s battle betwixt good and evil as an appalling instinctually-fuelled aberration in the face of the sensuous idyllic perfection of this physical universe.
Just a note about weather and its reporting that I recently found particularly interesting.
Here in the subtropics, we have a wet season in late summer when torrential tropical rain is quite common. Often so much rain falls so quickly that regional flooding occurs, as it did twice this year. A local town, built on a riverbank, often floods as it did this year. I was fascinated to see this reasonably common natural event reported on CNN as an event of global significance. The floods were reported as being ‘the worst in living memory’ whereas in fact, by measurement on the various gauges in the rivers, they fell in to the once in ten-year category.
Doomsday predictions of apocalypse have been legendary in human history and, in the face of increasing comfort, safety, leisure and pleasure, the human species is once again reverting to ‘the weather’ as being the latest apocalypse. In similar vein, I also saw a program which claimed the kangaroo was an endangered species despite the fact that they regularly reach almost plague proportions in this country.
The media seem to take the flippant approach that it is a pity to let a few facts get in the way of whichever fear-fuelled belief they are currently flogging to a doomsday-obsessed and gullible Humanity.
It is no little thing to break free of the feelings of misery and despair that literally enshrouds the human species. All spirituality and religion is founded upon human misery and despair. Christianity is based upon the mythical Mr. Jesus’ suffering, Buddhism is based upon the mythical Mr. Buddha’s Four Noble Truths – the first being ‘Life is fundamentally disappointment and suffering’. Every religion has a doomsday or hellish realm or endless cycles of suffering. Every religion promises a final end to suffering after physical death – a final rest in peace.
Suffering literally drips from the trees, encircles the ashrams, oozes from the pulpits, fuels the compassion industry, is the foundation of much of what passes for art and entertainment, serves to make heroes out of masochists and saints out of hypocrites and underscores all of the world’s great and noble wisdom.
GARY: I also think that our fundamental resentment as human beings of being here – being born and being in this world – as the resentment has been identified – underlies much of malcontent, misery, unhappiness, and ineffectiveness that many people experience.
Perhaps I should speak of myself here. One can be perfectly aware of one’s tendency to feel sorry for oneself, ‘bitch’ or grouse about various injustices, and just plain be unhappy and discontent. Many of times in my own experience I am able to identify that I am simply resentful about having to be where I am at the time and doing what I am doing. This morning it went like this ‘Poor me, I have so much to do ... when will I ever get it all done?’
PETER: Feeling sorry for oneself is an insidious emotional undercurrent that you soon discover in actualism. It becomes readily apparent that the feeling of sorrow is the fall-back position of the human condition – it is the very glue that binds humanity together and the very fuel for all of humanity’s religious and spiritual fantasies.
As you dig into sorrow you will inevitably discover all of the social conditioning that sets sorrow in concrete as part and parcel of being human. Most of what passes for entertainment, meaning, interaction, connection, gratification and fulfilment in the human condition is predicated on the bitter-sweetness of the feeling of sorrow. These ingrained layers of one’s own social/spiritual conditioning need to be peeled away if one is to ever become actually free of sorrow.
I remember dutifully following the social rules of the game played in the ‘real’ world and, by the time I got to the stage of having a wife, two kids, two cars and a mortgage by age 32, I discovered that neither I, nor any others in the ‘real’ world, were free of sorrow. It simply wasn’t part of the social rules to be free of sorrow – in fact the rules themselves actively conspired to prevent anyone from becoming genuinely happy and prevent anyone from becoming authentically autonomous.
Some 17 years later the same was apparent in following the rules of the spiritual world – practicing Eastern dissociative philosophies and spiritual theories didn’t bring a genuine end to sorrow at all. Dissociation is founded upon escaping the ‘essential’ sorrow of the real world – sorrow is set in concrete in the real world, it is deemed to be part and parcel of being human. The Eastern solution is to dissociate from being a physical human and become a Divine blissful spirit, steeped in Divine Love and Compassion – a love and compassion that both needs and feeds off other sorrowful human beings in order to exist. Becoming a Divine blissful spirit didn’t sit at all well with me which is why I went for the jugular – eliminating malice and sorrow from this flesh and blood body and leapt into the ‘fascinating and intriguing process’ of actualism, as you called it.
Just as an aside, I heard a one-liner on TV the other day that twigged my ear. I think it was an archaeologist who said ‘War, pestilence and other acts of God’. Such a simple throw away line but it struck me yet again how essentially evil the Gods are that human beings insist on praying to and how perverse all of human ‘wisdom’ really is.
GARY: The pay-off is being able to sweep away all the garbage that awareness has brought to light, once one has identified that it is ‘me’ or ‘I’ that is making me unhappy and potentially harmful, nobody else.
PETER: What you call ‘sweep away all the garbage’, I used to call cleaning out the cupboards, and I would find myself going back in there time and again on each issue that arose until I made sure there was nothing left. Genuine intent and sincerity in action – nothing glossed over or dismissed, nothing repressed or sublimated, nothing swept under the carpet or ignored. Great fun once you get the hang of it.
GARY: So, with the actualism method, one is actually doing the process of change, not merely talking about it. One can talk about irrevocable change until the cows come home but unless and until one actually changes, it is all theoretical. How do you know you have changed – ask yourself the question honestly and with the utmost sincerity – ‘How am I experiencing this present moment of being alive?’ The answer will astound you sometimes.
PETER: The spiritual solution to becoming free is to think one is free or feel one is free – to become ‘Who’ you really think and feel you are.
The actualism solution is to irrevocably change oneself – to become what you are and not to remain ‘who’ you think and feel you are, whoever that may be. As you are experiencing, this process of incremental change brings palpable and tangible results, changes that can be talked about, shared with others, made sense of, and even passed on to others if anyone else is willing to listen.
For me, the first significant change that I experienced was that marvellous sense of autonomy and freedom of being free of being a devoted and loyal follower of a God-man or, its alternative for some, a resentful cynic forever ensnared within the narrow confines of the spiritual world and its belief systems. The second change was in stopping blaming other people for my own anger and my own sadness, which then meant I was becoming harmless to others. The third change was in incrementally replacing the fickleness and ‘self’-centredness of ‘my’ normal cerebral and emotional experiencing with a rock-solid sensibleness and sensuous ‘self’-less experiencing of the actual world we humans live in. All these are down-to-earth changes, down-to-earth hard won freedoms, not without their consequences and difficulties but abundant in their and astounding tangible rewards.
Well it is time to rope this one in, but it was good to have a chance to talk about actualism again on this list. The clouds have cleared and the sun has come out and I may well go for a walk purely for the pleasure of that wonderful golden light of the late afternoon setting sun.
GARY: Something else you wrote in your recent post to me caught my attention. You said:
Reflection on this observation of yours results in the realization that this is so. It seems that fear and anxiety are much more on the surface layer, if you will, of consciousness, whereas sorrow is a deeper-down rudimentary emotion. There is a bitter-sweet feeling of sorrow associated with the self – the ‘who’ I think I am. There have been times in the not-long-ago past when, reviewing my life, this emotion came to the fore and caused me to tear up at the eye, while contemplating ‘my’ life. It is much the same feeling I have had while watching a sad part in a movie and welling up with tears momentarily. I have found these emotions to be most interesting opportunities to observe ‘me’ in action. I think the underlying deep sorrow is about the supposed ‘tragedy’ that life comes to an end – a kind of funereal experience. Of course in some cultures one’s death is accompanied by the most unrestrained jollity, but that seems to be the exception.
PETER: My observation about sorrow being the predominant human passion is based upon observation of the human condition in action as well as my own personal experience. When I said sorrow was a hallowed emotion I was referring to the fact that all religious and spiritual belief is founded upon sorrow – the presumption that human life, here on earth, is essentially a suffering existence. The religious belief in a God, by whatever name, or the spiritual desire to become a God, by whatever name, is rooted in our personal experience of sorrow and sustained by compassion – a universal agreement to participate in the sorrow of others.
There is a clearly a sacred and inviolate covenant that the common-to-all bond of sorrow and suffering is what ultimately unites the human species. Thus in order to break free of the human condition it is necessary to continuously and persistently ‘pull oneself up by one’s bootstraps’ so as to break free of the spiritual/social and automatic/ instinctual predisposition to indulge in, and wallow in, the deep set feelings of bitter-sweet sorrow.
I’ve been doing one heck of a lot of ‘pulling’ lately, because just in the past day or two I’ve had an acute onset of sorrow, or rather I could say an eruption of those bitter-sweet feelings of grief, angst, sorrow, and disappointment, quite unbidden, and yet so, so familiar. Yesterday I felt almost paralysed by these feelings, they were so intense. Again, I am reminded that actualism is about examining and experiencing one’s feelings in the light of a sensuous awareness, not about suppressing or repressing one’s emotions.
I wonder if, as one is breaking free of the Human Condition, one is liable to experience fresh onslaughts of the ‘automatic/instinctual predisposition(s)’? I remember reading in Richard’s Journal the kind of scary, intensely abnormal and psychotic state that he experienced as he was on the verge of self-immolation, the description of which should be enough to deter any but the most serious of inquirers. I don’t want to suggest necessarily that that is what I am going through. But I have noted that the further and further I go my own way, depending on nobody, practicing attentiveness and sensuousness, and demolishing the social identities I have formed since birth, the more intensely do I seem to experience the raw survival program of the human species.
So, last night, as I commenced to get a grip on my boot straps, a fascinated awareness reflected on ‘So this is human sorrow and suffering – this is the bitter-sweet feeling of sorrow, so deeply embedded, so ancient, so much a part of being a human being that it is in a sense my very life. It is what my life has been about, never very far around the corner, always lurking in the background, something I have tried to ameliorate through compassion and acts of pity and helpfulness, something I have tried to assuage by loving others and being loved, through being comforted and comforting in turn’.
I don’t want to ‘get over’ sorrow just to have it come back again. Is one in a sense subjecting oneself to these bouts of emotion? Am I on the wrong track? Are these ‘pity parties’ totally unnecessary or is there some intrinsic value to going through these experiences? What does one need to do to finally and irrevocably break free from these ‘automatic/instinctual predispositions’? I have a sense that your answer is going to be to get back to being happy and harmless just as soon as one can ... which would be a splendid answer ... but I’ll let you answer this yourself.
PETER: Taking your questions one at a time –
No. The process of actualism is firstly to demolish the outer layer of one’s identity – one’s social conditioning. This social conditioning that each and every human being is inevitably subject to since birth is a two pronged habituation aimed at taming the brute instinctual passions via suppression and repression and encouraging the tender passions via praise and glorification. An actualist’s sincere investigations will reveal that both aspects of this conditioning comprise a moral and ethical straightjacket, a puppet-like existence which one either submits to, riles against or embraces by opting for seductive lure of self-glorification.
For an actualist the seeing of, and the direct experiencing of, the inherent failure of this social conditioning is the ending of his or her social identity. This ending happens progressively as one’s instilled morals, ethics and values are questioned and investigated and what is revealed underneath is what this social conditioning was specifically designed to hide – the fact that human beings are instinctually driven animals.
Thus, as you say, one is in a sense subjecting oneself to bouts of emotions beginning with the feelings and emotions triggered by one’s own social identity – feelings such as moral indignation, self-righteousness, prudishness and the like – and ending with the underlying instinctual drives and passions that give substance to one’s instinctual being. This direct experiencing is an essential component of dismantling one’s social and instinctual identity and while at times the journey may seem daunting, the rewards are inestimable.
As you indicated, as the bouts subside – which they invariably do – you are left with a fascinated awareness of having been aware of experiencing your own psyche in action. You have experienced ‘you’ in action for a brief period – neither suppressed nor repressed, neither glorified nor condemned.
My only other comment is that you never get more than you can handle because you set your own pace, you reap your own rewards and, by the very nature of your intent to become free of malice and sorrow, you have tapped into a palpable stream of benignity and betterment that is intrinsic to the physical universe. In short, nothing can go wrong provided your intent is pure. Another little reminder I used to run was that whatever went on in my head or heart in the day, I would go to sleep at night-time and find myself having breakfast the next morning, yet again. Then I was reminded that actualism is really about being here in this moment in time, in this place in space, and that the thrilling process of actualism, with all of its explorations and dramas, is what enabled this to happen more and more as ‘I’, the interloper, became thinner and less substantial.
You won’t get a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer from me about what is essentially your business. If it is working and brings tangible results then it works and only you can be the judge of whether you are getting tangible results. What I would do whenever I got a bout of the doubts, was try to remember the Peter who was before I became an actualist. What did he get upset about, what did he worry about, what made him angry, what made him sad and so on? I would then check how I was now and what tangible progress had been made towards my goal of becoming actually free of the human condition.
There was obviously a beginning to your own track, you know your own progress by comparison with ‘who’ you were at the start and you know the nature of the end of the track from your own PCE, so only you can answer your question.
It is vitally important to be aware of whatever feelings, emotions or passions one is experiencing without indulging in the inherited habit of suppressing or repressing or expressing or morally judging the experience. How else to find out what makes ‘me’ tick – and all the other ‘me’s on the planet as well? How else to fully understand the human condition than by direct personal hands-on experience?
What I found was that I first needed to stop judging these emotional experiences as being right or wrong, good or bad, in order to be able to understand by direct experience and observation not only the debilitating effects of the emotion or passion but also how they actively prevent me from being here. So, to get back to the comment of mine about sorrow –
There is nothing at all to be gained by indulging in or wallowing in sorrow but if the feeling comes along by itself or is triggered by some event such as listening to music or watching the news then make the effort to check it out while it is happening. There is no more valuable attentiveness than this for an actualist, for you are literally discovering and experiencing what it is that makes ‘you’ tick.
You keep doing what works to make you free from the feelings, emotions and passions that are the root cause of malice and sorrow. The discovery that something works in practice brings an overweening confidence that enables you to then tap into the genetically-promulgated propensity for betterment that is inherent in the very cellular structures of animate life in the actual world. And as you seem to be discovering the only thing that can break the stranglehold of ‘automatic/instinctual predispositions’ is the cultivation of an on-going fascinated awareness.
Yep, get back to being happy and harmless just as soon as you can – but with the essential proviso that you be interested enough, and attentive enough, to learn whatever you can from these emotional experiences. If you milk these experiences for information then you can learn from them – if you indulge and wallow in them then you are but indulging and wallowing in the human condition. It is vital that you dip into these experiences as deeply as possible in order to learn as much as possible about how the human psyche operates because then you are learning what it is that is both the substance and driving force for the human condition in toto.
I could go on but I had better rope this post in. I’ll just end on a reminder that to be an actualist is to set off on a course that is diametrically opposed to all of humanity’s so-called wisdom. Whilst there is an inherent carefree simplicity to living free of the human condition that you would have experienced in a PCE, becoming actually free of the human condition requires stubborn perseverance and consummate patience. My experience is that it is a mightily good thing that the process of becoming free works incrementally because the experience that the process works – i.e. produces tangible results – is what ultimately provides both the incentive and the confidence to go all the way.
PETER: You wrote in comment to something I wrote to No 13 –
GARY: This accords with my own recent bout of morbidness. I realized on some level, at least, that the grief was part and parcel of ‘my’ very identity – it is a large part of who I think ‘Gary’ is. It is a very old, familiar emotion that heralds to the early years of life, and perhaps goes back a good deal further. It is tied up with my mother’s tragic illness and subsequent devastating disability, the sadness and grief of a small child, along with all the sympathy and well-meaning endeavours of a number of relatives and close family friends, later worn as a kind of badge of honour and used to justify the most malicious actions, and by the age of 7, I am sure, became a very part of my personality and modus operandi in the world. To experience this grief again, unhindered by the social identity with its conceptions of what is right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate, and to be able to see the effect that this emotional state had on my close, live-in partner, along with its unspoken demand for attention, nurturance, as well as the imposition of my moods and emotions on another, and the hurt that this caused in her, was a revealing glimpse at ‘me’ – the passionate identity – going full blast.
It did not do to tell myself that I ‘should not’ feel this way, or be this way. No, it took much longer to sort it all out, but also to make the shift to a sensuous awareness of the feeling and emotion and what it felt like, as well as a forfeiture of the claim of uniqueness – that this grief was ‘my’ own, but rather, looking at it as human grief and sadness, and the effect that this emotion is having on this present-day world of people in their interconnectedness. As the shift came and happened, it seemed to be a short hop, skip, and jump to pulling myself up by my bootstraps and determining to pull myself out of the welter of sad emotions and get on with the business of living my life to the best of my ability – happy and harmless again.
It was not a wrenching experience, which would imply a kind of suppression or repression, but it was a shift easily made when I realized the futility of remaining a sorrowful and suffering person. So there it is: Just a few thoughts for now.
GARY: To experience this grief again, unhindered by the social identity with its conceptions of what is right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate, and to be able to see the effect that this emotional state had on my close, live-in partner, along with its unspoken demand for attention, nurturance, as well as the imposition of my moods and emotions on another, and the hurt that this caused in her, was a revealing glimpse at ‘me’ – the passionate identity – going full blast.
No, it took much longer to sort it all out, but also to make the shift to a sensuous awareness of the feeling and emotion and what it felt like, as well as a forfeiture of the claim of uniqueness – that this grief was ‘my’ own, but rather, looking at it as human grief and sadness, and the effect that this emotion is having on this present-day world of people in their interconnectedness.
PETER: What you make clear in your comment is that the primary motive for wanting to get off your bum – or out of the lotus position – and change yourself is care and consideration for the effects your moods and emotions, and subsequent behaviour, is having on others. I usually tend to forget to emphasize this aspect because for me it was a given. I was always interested in living in peace and harmony with others – in fact this was the major attraction in tripping off down the spiritual path with its promise of blissful communal living, consensus, co-operation, and the like.
When I discovered that spiritual communities are held together by a combination of mindless surrender and fanatical loyalty which only results in fear-ridden pious insularity from the rest of one’s fellow human beings, I bailed out and began to look for something that worked. When I came across actualism I settled on a practical goal – being able to at least live with at least one other person in peace and harmony and in order for this to work I came to realize that it was totally up to me to change – not the other person. As success came in the process of actualism, it then became very easy to broaden this aim to include others, be it family, work colleagues, acquaintances, and so on.
The instinctual passions of fear, aggression, nurture and desire are sourced in the thoughtless automatic survival program that can readily be seen in operation in all animate life. This survival mechanism is seen at its crudest in the ‘what can eat me – what can I eat?’ reactions of all animals but some animal species also have altruistic tendencies solely in order to ensure the survival of their kin, and thus the species. This instinctual propensity for altruism or self-sacrifice can also be readily observed in the human animal species and, as such, can be personally experienced, particularly by those who have children or who have felt the instinctual urge to have children.
For an actualist it is essential not to remain ensnared by the crude totally self-centredness of the instinctual passions but to tap into and actively make use of the altruistic propensity that is genetically programmed in the human beings. Thus an actualist does not aim to become without feelings, emotions or passions but rather to actively diminish the malicious and sorrowful feelings whilst aiming to foster those that are felicitous and caring.
The crude survival instincts are genetically programmed solely to ensure the survival and propagation of vegetate and animal life, but the emergence of the unique combination of awareness and intelligence found in the human species has meant that this crude programming has been often consciously utilized for betterment of life on the planet.
The discovery of the actualism method takes the betterment of life on this planet to a new stage – the opportunity for individual members of the human species to eliminate their own blind and crude instinctual survival program, a program that is now not only redundant for survival but is also the direct cause of all of the malice and sorrow that typifies the human condition.
RESPONDENT: Four years ago my daughter died. She was 26 yo. She died from suicide, having stood bravely in front of a speeding Amtrack train in a suburb of Fresno, CA. She was identified by a single rose tattoo on her hip ... which she acquired in Georgia only a few months before. This event was preceded by a year or so of increasing depression and two unsuccessful overdoses. She was a beautiful young lady ... and before this year so filled with talent, ambition ... and an outward zest for life. Deep down inside, all of us knew it was coming ... all of us: her mother (my ex wife), her brothers, sisters, other relatives and some few friends. But in the end, we were all helpless to stop this train. The shock of her passing was so strong ... I could barely hold on.
RESPONDENT No 47: I decided to comment on your post because I saw many similarities between your daughter and myself some years back. Although I was fortunately unsuccessful in my attempt to take my own life away, I still remember what I went through and so do my parents. However, as I never finished, or was never finished by, the last step … my parents never knew the likes of your grief. But I have seen enough to wish it upon no one.
I also sincerely wish your daughter had not had to go through with it, and I also wish you had never felt the resulting pain because of it, and that is why I commit myself entirely to the purpose of doing something about it.
PETER: A comment that Richard made recently when asked about his use of the words malice and sorrow in describing the human condition seems pertinent to the discussion –
Malice readily comes to most people’s minds as being a salient aspect of the human condition – in the last one hundred years an estimated 160,000,000 human beings were killed by other human beings in wars alone – but we tend not to be so attentive of the central role that sorrow plays. Maybe this is because we are not so cognizant that an estimated 40,000,000 human beings also killed themselves in suicides last century.
And all of this mayhem and misery is the direct result of the blind and brutal instinctual passions that human beings insist are essential if human beings are to remain being human beings. T’is enough to make you want to abandon ship but in order to do so you may well find that the strongest emotional tether to break is that of sorrow.
I don’t want to pre-empt your own experiential observations about the sorrowful feelings but in my own investigations I discovered that feelings of malice is more readily discernible than feelings of sorrow. Speaking metaphorically – malice can be experienced as being peaks or flare-ups of emotion, sadness can be experienced as valleys or troughs of emotion, whereas in general the constant plain or milieu of human feelings is one of seriousness and sullenness. The other observation I have made is that sorrow in the form of the feeling of compassion – the compulsion to participate in another’s suffering – is the essential emotion that binds Humanity together, and hence binds ‘me’ to Humanity. Which is why I described sorrow as being a strongest emotional tether to break free of.
RESPONDENT: Thank you for your response. After some reflection, it appears that I am still participating in the feelings of compassion ... not as strongly as before ... but it is lingering around from time to time. I like your definition: ‘the compulsion to participate in another’s suffering’.
PETER: The deep feelings that come from being an instinctual being are not likely to disappear overnight as they are the very core of ‘me’. The reason I used the word compulsion was to emphasize the instinctual nature of grief, sorrow and compassion. Because these feelings are ‘me’ and ‘I’ am these feelings, the best ‘I’ can do is to be attentive of these feelings whenever and wherever they kick in, name them, observe them in action, feel what they feel like and, as soon as possible, get back to feeling good about being here. This way you disempower the sorrowful feelings before they set in and totally whisk you away from the sensual enjoyment of being here.
RESPONDENT: Now, if compassion were in some way genuinely useful ... if it actually worked in freeing one from insidious feelings that were either destructive to others or oneself, then at least compassion would have some positive purpose or value.
PETER: What really got me wanting to do something about my sadness and melancholy was a sincere consideration for other people – particularly those closest to me. When I started to become aware of my sad feelings, I also started to become aware of how my feelings affected other people – and feelings of sorrow have a way of spreading from person to person rather like a dark cloud of malaise. The curious thing is that when I started to be attentive to my own feelings of sorrow and thereby gradually stopped being a contributor to this cloud of malaise, I was also less and less affected by the sad feelings emanating from others.
RESPONDENT: I do conclude that when I moved into compassion from compassionless states ... I felt more connected with myself and others ... more in touch with feelings ... as opposed to not feeling or just feeling fear all of the time. Being compassionate, I felt myself to be coming from and living from my own heart. I was tapping into ‘love’ that I could finally experience for myself and share with others. I covertly set myself up as a ‘better’ person ... able to discern the difference between compassionate people and their actions and uncompassionate people and their actions.
PETER: Yes. The more you start to become attentive to how your own psyche operates, the more you allow yourself to feel the quality of feelings, the more you come to experientially understand the human condition – how feelings of sadness and grief have a bitter-sweet self-indulgent flavour, how feelings of compassion and pity have a cop-out element to them, how feelings of love and compassion for others are inextricably entwined with feelings of superiority and dependency, how the so-called bad feelings are debilitating and the so-called good feelings are aggrandizing, and so on. And the more you experientially understand the human condition the more you come to understand that there is no one to blame – the whole notion of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ is but a human invention that has no existence outside of the heads and hearts of human beings.
RESPONDENT: I do not actively do this any longer. I take this back! I do from time to time. Now, with actualism, compassion is up for grabs and may be more closely examined. If I throw out compassion, will I revert to the carefully guarded, encapsulated person I used to be. Will I loose my warmth and become cold? I’m not sure how to proceed with this. Yet, I will examine it.
PETER: Only you can dare to question the tried and true ways of humanity, only you can dare to take the necessary practical steps that are necessary if you want to be actually free of the human condition of malice and sorrow. I always said I went a fair way in questioning the tried and true ways of humanity before I met Richard and was emboldened by his success in becoming free of the human condition to keep going all the way. Those of us who follow Richard’s precedent have it much easier because there is now a path to follow but the wonderful thing is that you get to walk the path by yourself, for yourself and in doing so you prove by your actions that you genuinely care about actually facilitating peace on earth.
PETER: I don’t want to pre-empt your own experiential observations about the sorrowful feelings but in my own investigations I discovered that feelings of malice is more readily discernible than feelings of sorrow. Speaking metaphorically – malice can be experienced as being peaks or flare-ups of emotion, sadness can be experienced as valleys or troughs of emotion, whereas in general the constant plain or milieu of human feelings is one of seriousness and sullenness. The other observation I have made is that sorrow in the form of the feeling of compassion – the compulsion to participate in another’s suffering – is the essential emotion that binds Humanity together, and hence binds ‘me’ to Humanity. Which is why I described sorrow as being a strongest emotional tether to break free of.
RESPONDENT: What I just wrote to Vineeto fits well with what you wrote:
I have had people tell me that they hope my ‘childish view’ on life lasts (insinuating that I should grow up) and one even wished me ill when I did not agree with his sorrowful view on life. Tall Poppy Syndrome is it called? I think I see what you mean Peter.
PETER: I remember one of the things I found telling in my early days of being an actualist was the realization that so much of what human beings regard as entertainment is rooted in malice and sorrow. Be it sad music, love songs or angry music, novels that are historical rehashes of old grievances, romantic novels, action films, video games, soap operas, news reports, competitive sports, and so on. I remember going through my CD collection and being astounded at the bitter-sweet feelings that most of the music engendered – so much so that I soon hustled most of them out the door.
As I said to No 52 in my most recent post to him, it is important to feel the quality of any feelings of malice and sorrow that surface before you nip them in the bud in order that you have an experiential understanding as to how and why the feelings and emotions that arise from the instinctual passions operate. By conducting your investigations in this scientific way, you feel the feelings as and when they are happening which means you neither repress nor dissociate from your feelings, and then get back to feeling good as soon as possible, which means you neither indulge in nor become overwhelmed by your malicious and sorrowful feelings.
An intellectual understanding of the human condition is one thing – at best you know in theory what to look out for. But if you really want to become free of the human condition there is no other way but fully committing to a hands-on moment-to-moment attentiveness as to how you are experiencing this moment of being alive – which means fully committing to being here as a mortal flesh and body in this world of the senses, with all that this involves.
As for the ‘tall poppy syndrome’, you only need to observe the revolving door of spiritualists who come to this list and head straight for Richard in order to cut him down a peg or two. And it is fascinating to observe how they are so convinced that they, and their ilk, are right – that the meaning of life is somewhere hidden in the ancient mumbo-jumbo of Eastern spirituality – and that we actualists are wrong, so much so that they have not the slightest interest in what is being talked about on this mailing list. They provide a wonderful opportunity to observe first-hand how holding on to any religious or spiritual belief or philosophy actively stifles any possibility of even considering the idea that something new has now been discovered – that it is now possible for any human being, so inclined, to become free of malice and sorrow.
PETER: The reason I mention this is that the death of my 15-year-old son was not ‘plain fun’ for me, as you would have it. It was, however, an event that had a profound effect on me in that it spurred me on to find out the meaning of life mainly in order that that future generations of children should not have to suffer the angst of being instinctually-driven beings – and puberty is a particularly angst filled time for all teenagers due to the rapid onset of the sexual imperative. I also wanted to offer by living example a practical down-to-earth alternative such that they should not have to waste their lives by searching for meaning in the pursuit of a ‘spiritual’ freedom or by meekly following the herd that insist that you can’t change human nature.
Given that you have been a contributor to this mailing list for several years I am somewhat surprised that you made specific reference to the death of one’s children in your rant as it raises the possibility that it was a barb deliberately aimed at me to see if I would bite (a tactic you have admitted to employing in the past).
RESPONDENT: No, Peter, I wasn’t trying to get you to bite. But perhaps you think you are the only one who has lost a child?
PETER: Not at all. I know that I am not the only one who has lost a child – it was something I became acutely aware of soon after my own son died. I started to see the nonsense in my feeling that no-one else knew how much I was suffering, that my suffering was special, unique and more profound than others and this was the beginning of the end of me indulging in grief and sorrow. Eventually I saw that the bitter-sweet feeling of sorrow had become an integral part of my identity – sort of a badge of honour that marked me out as being special.
As an aside, I notice that someone recently has put a name to another aspect of this innate tendency of humans to indulge in sorrow, the tendency to indulge in feeling sorrow for others – ‘compassion competition’. If you care to look into the matter, as I did at the time, you will find that both are but versions of the eons-old game of human beings attempting to outdo others by claiming the moral high ground.
PETER: … I do happen to know of an actualist whose child was acutely ill at one stage. Would you exclude her from the ‘we’, ‘our’ and ‘each and every one of us’ of your accusations? Or I could ask you – did one of your children die? In other words, were you speaking from your own experience or were you merely intellectually ‘speaking for others’ by proxy when you made your accusation.
RESPONDENT: In this case I am speaking from personal experience.
PETER: In that case would you like to write about personal experience? As you know, I have written about my own personal experience when my young son died and I found the very act of writing about it was a great aid in being able to make sense of my feelings about it.
RESPONDENT: I don’t need to clarify a thing. A fact of life is losing loved ones. But this nonsense of feeling nothing at such an event is really something else.
PETER: Did what I wrote about my son’s death completely pass you by?
I’ve snipped it from my reply as you didn’t bother to respond to it but I’ll refresh your memory. I wrote about the feelings I had when my son died and how, when I investigated them, I found that there is a self-indulgent aspect to the feeling of grief and not only that but also a feeling of being special that I found came with it, as in ‘no one else knows how much I am suffering’. The fact that I was able to become so clearly aware of the insidious nature of the feelings I was having meant that they soon went away.
I discovered that the loss of one so close is difficult enough, but to compound this loss with the usual feelings that accompany such a loss was debilitating not only to myself but to everyone else involved as well. The reason I say everyone else is that I also became aware that I wanted others to acknowledge my suffering, I wanted others to feel gloomy along with me and yet on the other hand I resented their sympathy because it was never enough because in the end they couldn’t feel my suffering because only ‘I’ can feel what ‘I’ am feeling.
The other thing that helped me to clearly see the senselessness of the feelings that are involved in the death of someone close is that the circumstances involving my own son’s death were initially somewhat unclear and consequently many people were swamped with feelings of guilt, indignation, blame, resentment, helplessness, despair and so on. Coincidently, the shock of my son’s death caused me to be in a state of calm at the time – somewhat akin to the ‘being at the centre of a cyclone’ experience that many report – and this calmness enabled me to clearly see that having these feelings only made the whole situation surrounding the fact of the loss far worse and far more complicated. Everyone was so awash with their own emotions that it was left to me to do the practical things that needed doing, to take care of those who needed taking care of and to attempt to diffuse the feelings of bitterness and recrimination that were threatening to get out of hand.
Because I had felt these feelings and was aware that I was having these feelings when my son died, I came to realize that to suffer the loss of someone close is one thing but to compound the situation by having to suffer the affective feelings normally associated with such a loss does nothing but aggravate the situation.
I have nothing good to say about the feeling of grief – the feeling sucks and it sucks big time. Nor do I have anything good to say about the associated feelings of sorrow and compassion (feeling sorrow for others). Contrary to popular opinion, there is no ‘good’ in sorrow - the only thing that one gets out of the feeling of sorrow is the debilitating pain and angst that comes with all affective feeling.
RESPONDENT: By asking, ‘how am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’... I have ‘gone into’ the feelings of sorrow without blocking, or distracting, myself from their horror. I have felt over-whelming pangs of sorrow, too. Spontaneously, on one occasion, eleven years ago, I saw that there was no purpose to it all.
I have experientially grasped the emotion of both sickness and death to find that it was a toothless tiger. I have realised that life itself must end someday ... along with all the hope, love and nurturing, (as well as fear and anger) ... but the grip of sorrow is almost gone from my life now. <Snip>
I did not seek it out to ‘go into’ sorrow to wallow in it ... but when it came to me I refused to hide any longer and I faced it down until it lost its grip and ‘it’ eventually weakened and before long it withered and died. The rewards are incentive enough to continue, (not to wallow in, run from or fight sorrow), but to embrace and examine, ‘that which came my way’ and to live an automatically peaceful/ joyful/ sensible life one delightful moment at a time. No 13 to Gary 8.12.2001
PETER: What interests me particularly is your description that when sorrow came to you that you ‘faced it down until it lost its grip and ‘it’ eventually weakened and before long it withered and died.’ Your description is markedly at odds with my own experience of investigating and becoming progressively free both of my social imprinting as well as the feelings, emotions and passions that give substance and validity to ‘me’.
In the process of actualism I was often aware of and involved in investigating a number of intertwined issues and therefore it was often difficult to separate out one particular emotion, track the course of its demise as well as be aware of how the process in fact worked. I was often too busy separating out and making sense of my social programming – looking at my moral stance and ethical values that stood in the way of me clearly seeing and experiencing the emotion in its raw and basic state to have an overview. Because I was busy doing it as it were, I was much more fascinated that the process worked rather than in how it worked. Often I would be startled to discover that what had been a major worry or a pervasive and debilitating emotion had disappeared out of my daily life and all I had done was investigate it, root around in it, make sense of it, understand how it operated, look at it from all angles in order to get to the bottom of it.
I did, however, eventually come to realize that the very process of focussing my full attention on the feeling or emotion, investigating it as it was happening in all its aspects and then thinking about it afterwards in order to make sense of the experience was exactly what weakened its grip. As Richard describes it – if I remember rightly – you shine the bright light of awareness on the issue, problem, debilitating feeling or consuming emotion and it will eventually wither in the light of awareness. The work you have to do, and it is indeed work, is to be willing to bring it out of the cupboard and be stubborn enough to stick with it until it is resolved.
Speaking personally, I would not describe this process as ‘facing it down’ – it being the particular feeling or emotion – because that to me implies keeping the lid on it or forcing it further down or away from one’s awareness. It may be your choice of words but your description fits with what I did in my spiritual years. I, exactly like everybody else, was taught to separate my feelings out into two piles – the good ones that earned ‘me’ kudos and brownie points and the bad ones that got ‘me’ into trouble and that ‘I’ then felt ashamed of. Thus ‘I’ was forever on the lookout, forever on guard, just in case my dark side showed through. And invariably, every now and again, it would despite my best efforts and good intentions and these bleed-throughs were what finally twigged me to begin to really investigate my dark side as well as its opposite number, my ‘good’ side.
There’s another experience I had that might shed some more light on the issue of attentiveness and awareness. It relates to an event that happened about 5 years before I met Richard and became immersed in actualism. At this time I was following the spiritual principle of ‘self’-ishly sorting my feelings into good and bad, right and wrong, desirable and undesirable rather than going any deeper into investigating how ‘I’ ticked. I had a consuming experience of grief after my son died that served to put my spiritual smugness on the sidelines for a while. I wrote about it in my journal and I’ll just include a snippet for reference –
In hindsight, and it is only hindsight for at the time I was following no method at all, I simply became aware one day that the grief had gone – that the feeling had left me. All I had done was allow it to run its course without judgement, without indulgence, without suppressing it or repressing it. What I did was a lot of experiencing of, and thinking about, grief and one of the most striking aspects I clearly remember was how much this emotion was a part of my identity. When the emotion finally left me I was no longer a grieving father with all that being that identity involved. It was literally as if a part of ‘me’ had disappeared along with the associated reoccurring emotional memory.
This is why I can’t relate to the description of facing the emotion nor embracing the emotion, which is another description you used. It wasn’t as though a stronger ‘I’ faced the emotion down or a loving or wise ‘me’ embraced the emotion but more like the grief went away by itself and took a bit of ‘me’ with it.
In hindsight I would describe my experience with grief more as sitting with it, or walking with it in my case, feeling the feeling, thinking about it in all its aspects and checking out ‘my’ investment in hanging on to it, suppressing it, rejecting it or whatever. It was as though I had a good look inside the feeling and I do mean a good look. I sometimes plumbed the depths into despair and dread, I went up all the side alleys looking at all the related feelings such as guilt, self-pity, resentment, altruism, and the like. It took about four years in total until, as if by magic, one day I found I could no longer even dredge up the feeling of grief and until Peter, the grieving father – that particular aspect of my emotional identity – finally disappeared along with the feeling.
It is clear to me now that the most vital aspect of finally ridding myself of grief was my becoming aware of what I described in my journal as my ‘personal investment in continuing my grief’. What I experienced was that the feeling formed an integral part of ‘my’ identity, so much so that there was most often no distinction between the two. When I was in the throes of grief, ‘I’ was grief and grief was ‘me’, so consuming was the feeling. Eventually it became apparent that if the feeling of grief was to go, then that part of ‘me’ would have to go – and I willingly acquiesced to that happening. Just to make this perfectly clear – at this point, only at the end of a long and exhaustive period of experiencing and investigation, ‘I’ willingly agreed to this part of ‘me’ disappearing. ‘I’ did not actively do anything to finally bring an end to this part of ‘me’ – ‘I’ simply agreed to its demise.
This particular event sticks out in my mind as typifying the actualism method even though it predated my becoming an actualist by some years. It stands out particularly only because it was a one-off solitary event and not part of the kaleidoscope of investigations that typified my early years of actualism. However, all of my actualism investigations have followed the very same pattern and all of them invariably end up with the same result ... provided I have been persistent enough, and thorough enough, in my investigations.
It is important to discern and make clear the differences between the traditional spiritual practices of selective awareness, which is designed to be shallow and superficial, and the down-to-earth, all-inclusive, attentiveness that is the actualism method. Only by understanding the full extent of the difference between the two is it possible to go beyond the moral and ethical restrictions of spiritual belief and indoctrination and be able to dive deeper into the instinctual passions that are the root cause of malice and sorrow.
PETER to Alan: 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.
It’s cute, isn’t it. We first have to stop believing the fairy tales of the God’s and God-men that we are meant to suffer on earth and that there is a ‘some-where’ else, and then we can get on with the job of ‘cleaning’ ourselves up.
And what a great adventure, what an extraordinary thrill to find it is possible, and what sensate, sensual pleasures and delights become increasingly obvious on the way. I was commenting to Richard the other day that the path to Actual Freedom is like a journey out of sorrow, and I would add, a journey out of fear. The amazing thing one becomes aware of is that sorrow is so endemic in Humanity that the only way is to make a complete break – nothing less will do. To rid oneself of malice and sorrow one has to step outside Humanity, or to quote Richard – to step out of the real world into the actual world and leave yourself behind.
I remember a period where I would look for a solution to the human dilemma within Humanity – the ‘If only everyone would stop fighting’ or ‘Look, if only everyone would ...’ or ‘Why can’t we just get along with each other?’ T’was just another way of blaming someone else or expecting someone to sort it out. Well, if you count out God, you will see that there is no one in charge of human beings on the planet – we are still fighting it out – then it’s up to me to abandon ship – to free myself of Humanity’s insidious grip.
PETER: I met a friend of ours lately who has had some inklings that Vineeto and I were ‘doing something different’ with our lives. We got chatting and I said that it was about being happy and harmless. She seemed interested but when I said this meant being free of malice and sorrow she seemed doubtful. When I asked her wouldn’t you want to be free of sorrow she said she really liked to feel sad occasionally. Unperturbed, I asked her about being free of malice and she said that she liked to get angry, to defend herself, to make her point. She said she wouldn’t have survived in her life without her anger.
RESPONDENT: I agree that some of these emotions have their attractiveness but if that is weighed up against all the times one missed out on opportunities because of the negative effects of certain emotions then a strong argument can be made for sacrificing the ones that are found to be somehow enjoyable.
PETER: Yep. Tis writ large in the sacred texts of the ‘Human Condition’, sub-section ‘Human Attributes’ – ‘The faculty that distinguishes the human species from other animal species is our ability to feel. In short we are ‘feeling’ beings – take away our feelings and we are but animals or robots’. Of course, this sacred tenet was written in ancient times when the only chance of keeping fear and aggression in reasonable control was to emphasise nurture and desire. Thus it was that ‘good’ and ‘bad’, together with ‘right and wrong’, was chiselled in stone and written on rice paper as the morals and ethics of tribal groups. This was further reinforced by fairy-tales of Gods and Demons, good and bad spirits, and the power and influence of the shamans was set in concrete. To dare to question the Gods and the good was to tempt the Devil, invite the bad to run riot and invoke the wrath of the shamans.
All of this is based on primitive ignorance of modern human biological knowledge only evident this century. Human and animal behavioural studies combined with stunning genetic and neuro-biological knowledge has made the futility of sticking with Ancient and spirit-ual solutions patently obvious.
What we now know is that human beings have an instinctual program of fear, aggression, nurture and desire and that this is located in the hypothalamus primitive lizard brain. Its task is largely the regulation of stereotyped, or instinctive behaviour patterns and responses. In lower animals this response, sometimes known as ‘fight and flight’ is a simple response to sensorial input – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. In humans with our more complex brain, thought, memory, reflection and self-awareness this simple response becomes an emotional response – an emotion according to Mr. Oxford – Any of the natural instinctive affections of the mind.
Our treasured and dearly-held feelings are most commonly expressed as emotion-backed thoughts, firmly rooted in the ‘fight and flight’ instinct of fear and aggression. Hence we are ‘feeling’ beings – we live constantly with the feelings of fear and aggression implanted in us by ‘blind’ nature.
Fear hobbles us with a desperate need to belong to a group, to cling to the past, to hang on to whatever we hold dear to ourselves, to resist change and desperately seek immortality. Aggression causes us to fight for our territory, our possessions, our ‘rights’, our family and our treasured beliefs – seeking power over others.
We seek solace in the so-called ‘good’ feelings, or ‘trip off’ into unbounded imagination and delusionary feelings of the spiritual. Nurture causes us to care, comfort and protect but also leads to dependency, clinging, empathy, sacrifice and needless heroism. Desire drives us to sexual reproduction, avarice, greed, corruption and power over others.
If you think ‘a strong argument can be made for sacrificing the ones that are found to be somehow enjoyable’, do you realise that thinking like that, if actualized, could eventually lead to an end of religions and of religious wars – an end to malice and sorrow.
RESPONDENT: It is amazing how this human trap can be desirable, even after great suffering.
PETER: We do indeed love to suffer and to inflict suffering on others – our ‘entertainment’ is either sad ‘love’ stories and tales of suffering or ‘action’ and violence. We have turned suffering into a virtue and pleasure into a vice. All of the religious and spiritual texts point to the essential and unending human suffering on earth. It is understandable for they knew nought of instinctual programming, and life on earth was a ‘fight and flight’ business – a man eat man business – to put it in its brutal perspective. But it is 1999 after all, and the ‘sacred’ words of Jesus, Buddha and the likes can be seen for what they are – ancient spirit-ridden drivel of no relevance at all to the situation we – you and I, and the others on this list – now find ourselves in.
RESPONDENT: Or is it that the trap is accepted because the possibility of freedom requires opening a big heavy door and that is too much effort.
PETER: Well, up until now only one person has done it, and he did it via Enlightenment. To give up the power, glory and blissful feelings of being Divine and Immortal is indeed a big heavy door and it is extremely doubtful if any of the present lot will repeat the effort. They have ‘feet of clay’ as Richard puts it. But by utilizing the method Richard has devised – to eliminate one’s social identity, who you ‘think’ you are, the ‘ego’ if you like, and then eliminate one’s instinctual self, who you ‘feel’ you are, the ‘soul’ if you like – when you finally get to the door it’s a ‘step through’ job only.
Is it that you are worried about the end of the journey before you even begin?
PETER: What really got me moving on the search for freedom, peace and happiness was the death of my son, some 10 years later. It was indeed a shocking experience to stand beside my 13-year-old son’s coffin and be confronted by the sight of the dead body of someone so young and so close. Shocking to my very core. It was then that I really determined to find out how to remove the ‘shackles’ that I felt had always bound me, and to experience life free of them before I died. What my son’s death at such a young age did for me was to intensify the sense of urgency to find the meaning of it all – after all, I saw how short life can actually be. Here I was, my father dead, my son dead; I was still alive, in my early forties, and I was obviously living on borrowed time – as I saw it. And I knew that I was not even really living yet – there was fear, hesitancy, and that feeling of invisible shackles from which I yearned to break free. This experience was to prove for me a seminal point – the beginning of my search really. The other relevant point was that I realized that I had discovered nothing that I could reliably and honestly pass on to my children, there was nothing I knew that worked that would definitely make their lives happier or richer.
This personal experience gave me the driving force to dare to stop at nothing even, as it subsequently proved necessary, daring to question spirituality, both the teachers and the teachings. As part of this questioning I did pass through a phase of being angry at the teachers for I saw that they were wielding their psychic power to ensnare gullible disciples. This quickly dissipated when I realized that they only had power over me because I had let them have power over me and that the real issue was my susceptibility, gullibility and laziness in wanting to be a follower and a believer and not an explorer and a discoverer.
I had a wonderful time in the spiritual world. It was an amazing opportunity to immerse myself totally in the following of a living master and to experience the overwhelming experience of group highs, fervent belief and burning idealism in full flight. It was only by fully immersing myself in and experiencing both the ‘real’ world and ‘spiritual’ world without resorting to resentment, blame, bitterness or cynicism that I was able to remain naïve enough to even consider that there was a third alternative.
RESPONDENT: You wrote to another member about the losses you have had in your family. We have all had those loses, and it does make us want to come to understand more so we can deal with such pain. So many millions of people feel the same pain we do and turn to religion for some comfort. It is only illusion, but who can blame them for seeking relief from their suffering? There have always been a few who went beyond the surface and found something real.
PETER: Are you saying the pain is only illusion or are you saying that religion is only illusion or the comfort that religion offers is only illusion. Your use of the word ‘it’ is ambiguous. In the light of your claim. ‘there is something very real in what many Eastern teachers had to say.’ I would appreciate your clarification on this point as to which of the three – suffering, religion, or the comfort offered by religion – is illusionary and which is real.
RESPONDENT: Please don’t let the suffering you have gone through cut you off from something that can take you beyond suffering. Not that we ever completely lose some since of loss. As I write this, my own father is dying. They don’t expect him to live through the day. I also lost my dear mother and little brother in the last three years. I understand loss and suffering all too well. That is in part what drives me to try to express the inexpressible to all who will listen.
We truly are the same being, with the same needs. I wish you well
PETER: You have again made an inaccurate assessment based on your ‘going beyond suffering’ philosophy that seems eerily similar to the ‘turn to religion for some comfort’ that you appear to disparage in your previous section.
My remarks were directed at the sense of urgency the death of my son gave to my spiritual search for I abandoned the idea of a life after death. As for suffering, I thoroughly investigated grief for a period of 3 years and discovered amidst the overall feeling various facets – a seductive bitter-sweet indulgence in feeling sorrow and a gut-wrenching level of emotion that death had struck so close that it had triggered my own instinctual fear of death. As I continued to tease grief and sorrow apart and investigate, and name the various layers, the exploration eventually produced an experiential realization of the fact that he simply was no longer alive and I would see him no more. Since then I have not suffered from grief and had a head start in my later investigations into other feelings of sorrow, despair, terror and dread. It was only by investigating and eliminating the dark, evil and bad emotions that I was able to avoid the ages-old instinctual trap of seeking to ‘go beyond’ them into the warmer feelings of Light, Godliness and the impassioned search for Wholeness, Oneness and Timelessness.
Unless sorrow is eliminated it is merely transcended to emerge as Compassion – a deep feeling of sorrow and pity for others. Unless the diabolical is eliminated the human search for freedom, peace and happiness will always be a search to ‘go beyond’, to find the Divine – by whatever name.
And, as you said
Which brings me back to my original question –
‘Surely it’s time to consider a new non-spiritual, down-to earth, approach to becoming free of the human condition of malice and sorrow?’
PETER: Yes, I did note with interest your post on the subject of ego. Given that my interest is peace on earth and I like to reply in detail I can’t comment on your post on the list so I will take the opportunity to do so here.
You say you can’t hate but you obviously can still blame other human beings for as you said at the start of this post –
These feelings usually range from being upset, miffed, impatient, perhaps even angry or swing back the other way to feeling pity for them, sad, despairing, hopelessness and perhaps even depressed. If you ‘can’t hate’ which of these other feelings do you ‘still have’? When you say
do you include the human beings who are in the governments that run this world and do you include all the wars, murders, rapes, tortures, domestic violence, despair and suicide in this wonder-full creation that is not ‘separate from your own being’?
RESPONDENT: Just because I can’t hate doesn’t mean I can’t see the facts before my eyes. I find nothing wrong with feeling many ways about things in this world. That does not for a moment make me feel separate from the whole. That would be nonsense. It saddens me deeply to see what is happening in the world.
PETER: I presume you see what I see – people being malicious or angry to the point of killing others and people being sorrowful or sad to the point of killing themselves. You have said you don’t feel hate any more and now you say you can feel deeply sad in your awakened state. It is good to find someone in an awakened state who is willing to be honest about what is going on with them and how they experience the world rather than say it can’t be put into words. I am curious though when you say that after your ego-death, if I can use that term, you no longer identify with the nightmare of ‘fear, suffering, hatred’ yet you still feel the suffering of others. Is it that you no longer think you are identified with other human beings but you still feel identified? If so, this would be in accord with my experience in that transcending the thinking self still leaves a feeling self, often denoted as an impersonal self or a grand Self.
RESPONDENT: When you see what is real, and the false is still acting on the world, you do all you can to help stop that process. And that is what it is: A process of misunderstanding based on a false belief brought about by the ego dream. I know at the core of all those people doing all the things that cause suffering is the same being I am. I know that by going through what I did changed all that for me and it can change it for everyone.
PETER: But curiously enough you still say you suffer as in ‘it saddens me deeply to see what is happening in the world’. I presume this deep sadness for others is a suffering for others as in feeling compassion for others. This again would be in accord with the transcendence of a personal self and personal suffering to a state of being an impersonal self who then feels sorrow for others – an impersonal, non-identified suffering. Again this is in accord with my experience – the ending of personal psychological suffering is not the end of suffering for then one has the experience of suffering for all of humanity, a psychic suffering, whereby misery and pain can literally drip off everything. My experience in the psychic world is that this type of suffering can be far deeper than one’s own personal suffering for one then takes on everyone else’s suffering. No wonder the Enlightened Ones are driven to save the world and desperate to entice others to join them in their crusade, for underpinning the Divine lays, ever lurking, the desperation of universal suffering – often referred to as the Diabolical.
Of course, there is no Divine or Diabolical, bliss or despair, malice or sorrow or any of the instinctual passions in the actual world. All these feelings and beliefs, ideas and fantasies exist only because they are the psychological and psychic machinations of a wayward identity within the flesh and blood body. These feelings may well be real, and are felt to be so because of the chemicals that surge through the human body from the reptilian brain ... but they are not actual, as in existing in the physical world.
PETER: Hi Lord,
A further comment on your teachings about suffering –
RESPONDENT: ‘When we choose to act to alleviate suffering whether it be our own or someone else’s everyone’s lot is improved.’
RESPONDENT No 15: Except you cannot alleviate somebody else’s suffering ... and you wouldn’t try when you have full realization of what that suffering is (was) for.
RESPONDENT: Alleviation is not prevention.
PETER: Alleviation is neither prevention ... nor a cure for suffering. For, as No 15 correctly alludes to in Eastern religion, being here on earth as a human being is essential suffering. Once one realizes this, the aim is to fully realize that ‘who’ you Really Are is a bodiless spirit only, just passing through this earthly material plane of suffering. All religions accept that life on earth is suffering and believing in any religious or spiritual teaching is therefore to accept that it is not possible to eliminate human suffering.
Eliminating human suffering is not on the spiritual/religious agenda ... far from it.
RESPONDENT: We can alleviate someone else’s suffering ... and, in fact, realization leads us to a life wherein that is exactly what we do.
PETER: As a self-declared God-man perhaps you could explain exactly how you alleviate someone else’s problem? By telling them it is okay, there is a God who loves you and that God is me? This form of alleviation is both Self-perpetuating and suffering perpetuating.
RESPONDENT: Sufferings full brunt is borne only in separation.
PETER: Thus, when you realize that we are all one, one’s personal suffering is alleviated by knowledge that we all suffer together and it is part of God’s plan. Human suffering is, in fact, perpetuated by all spiritual teachings for without suffering there would be no need to alleviate it by the illusion of Union.
Human psychological and psychic suffering exists only in the individual and collective human psyche. When the psychological and psychic entity – ‘who’ I think and feel I am – ceases to exist there is an end to psychological and psychic suffering in this body.
RESPONDENT: By sharing the situation or doing what small thing we can do to assist someone struggling we allow them the opportunity to see that they are in fact not alone, and someone does care.
PETER: And the dispenser of this sharing is mightily loved and deeply appreciated for his or her sharing. In fact, the dispenser is only in business because there is suffering in the world. All religions and priests, Gurus and teachers only exist and flourish because there is suffering in the world. They have a vested interest in human suffering. Their fame, glory, support and income is derived from human suffering. Even now, when a way has been discovered to eliminate one’s own suffering and malice, these same pious God-men will be the most strident in riling against it.
RESPONDENT: We do this in a manner that does not interfere with the person’s experience.
PETER: On the contrary, the price demanded and received for this assistance is always gratitude, the deeper the better. To demand gratitude and love in return for compassion and empathy is the most insidious interference in another’s life.
RESPONDENT: ‘Sharing feeling’ is the meaning of the word compassion.
Indeed, compassion literally means sharing sorrow.
To maintain the sacred-ness of compassion as a human feeling is to perversely insists that no one is ever allowed to be free of suffering without being accused of being evil, unfeeling or callous towards others ‘less fortunate’. Misery and suffering is to remain forever locked in the human psyche by this mutual agreement to suffer together. Feeling compassion is but an attempt to alleviate the feeling of sorrow, exactly as love is an attempt to alleviate aggression, by a valiantly promoting and valuing the good instinctual emotions and repressing or transcending the bad emotions.
It is only by stepping out of the ‘real’ world’s agreement to mutual suffering and the ‘spiritual’ world’s sanctimonious and pious Divine compassion, that one can completely rid oneself of sorrow. Only when one stops ‘feeling’ compassion, empathy and pity, there is the direct opportunity available to actually do something about the wars, tortures, poverty and physical suffering of one’s fellow human beings – to stop actively contributing to human sorrow and facilitate an end to sorrow in oneself.
RESPONDENT No 6: Resistance is the No.1 enemy of change.
RESPONDENT: Resistance ... In a way all suffering is a form of resistance.
PETER: Is this the wisdom you would offer the rape victim, the child who has been abused, the tormented suicidal teenager, the terrorist hostage, the anguished hapless victim of senseless act of violence? That their suffering is due to a form of resistance? Resistance to God? Are they being somehow punished by God or were they born to suffer because of some bad karma in a previous life? Are they but cannon fodder in some perverse game plan by Existence which you, like countless others, have managed to see through and thus feel grateful to not have to play the game any more? Has it ever occurred to you that human malice and suffering might well have another cause – a more down to earth reason?
PETER: Personally I have no belief in God by whatever name, therefore the notion of God has ceased to exist. When one stops believing, hoping, trusting and having faith that something exists it simply withers away by itself.
I recently saw an interview with a Christian monk who said the first thing he was going to ask God was ‘How come there is so much pain and suffering?’ – an excellent question I thought. If there is a god or something that is pulling the strings or creating all this human suffering then it is about time we told He/She/It to butt out.
The excellent thing about stopping believing in God as the ultimate authority was that I was able to grasp the tiller, so to speak, and steer the boat away from the rocks – including the rock of Enlightenment.
RESPONDENT: That monk didn’t have very strong beliefs ... or maybe poor teachers. Even I was (should I use the past tense or not ... hmm) able to get past this stage in my relatively brief spiritual career.
PETER: You haven’t gone past this stage at all – you either haven’t gone far enough or you have just dabbled at the edges. All spiritual belief, both Western and Eastern, is founded on the fundamental principle that human existence on earth is essentially a suffering existence. I’ll post the piece I snipped from my reply to the list moderator about the famed and revered Mr. Siddhartha Gautama’s deeply cynical view of suffering on earth –
RESPONDENT: I thought this topic was over and done with among Christians. God created man in his own image and gave us the freedom of choice out of love for the humans, one can’t blame God for us making the wrong choices.
PETER: Methinks I was right in suggesting that one can only be interested in an actual freedom from the human condition if one has had sufficient experience with, and knowledge of, the spiritual path in order to understand its central message and why it has not, and never can, deliver peace on earth in this lifetime for anyone – let alone everyone. Your statement is another classic example of human beings forever blaming themselves – and not daring to even question the Gods or the God-men. This belief is so drummed into humans as guilt for our sins or penance for our very existence on earth that it is a miracle that someone has broken free and others are rapidly following.
RESPONDENT: Who said that life was supposed to be easy!?
PETER: Who said life was not meant to be easy and why do you believe them?
Just because God said so or Siddhartha Gautama said so or some Johnny come lately God-man repeated it doesn’t mean it is true or True. Of course life was meant to be easy and we all know it except we live in fear of the wrath of God or the scorn of our peers. The cute thing is once you stop believing in God you are free to stop believing that life was meant to be about suffering rightly. This then frees your senses to a literal smorgasbord of sensual delight that is on offer in this day and age on this cornucopian planet.
Life was meant to be easy – only a masochist would believe otherwise.
RESPONDENT: Living life is extremely challenging and what else could it be?
PETER: As humans, we are all subject to physical dangers, ill-health, accidents, earthquakes, floods, fires, etc. which can cause loss and pain. But to have, and actively indulge in, emotional suffering additional to the hardship is to compound the situation to such an extent that the resulting feelings are usually far worse than dealing with the facts of the situation. What impresses me is the extraordinary steps taken in wealthy, materialistic countries to not only reduce the hardship caused by physical dangers but to prevent them from happening in the first place. Early warning systems for fire, flood and storm, earthquake and storm proof buildings, emergency services, evacuation and relief plans, etc. all help to minimize and in many cases negate hardship, loss, injury and physical suffering.
RESPONDENT: Think about it ... would we really appreciate in the long run to have things just as we want them to be, to know exactly what life was about. No, I would not think so. Life is an enigma and that’s perhaps the only way it could be.
PETER: It’s good you said ‘perhaps’ because this is another of the furphies given to the world by the God-believers in order that nobody dares find out for themselves. The actual world is literally bursting with meaning, each moment again, whereas the real world is steeped in lament and the spiritual world is wallowing in compassion.
RESPONDENT: The Christian monk should maybe consider another line of duty if he can’t come to terms with the fundamentals of Christianity ... where’s the trust for Gods sake!?
PETER: I take it that you are now saying the monk should come to terms with the fact that human pain and suffering on earth is fundamental to Christianity yet above you indicated that God ‘gave us the freedom of choice’.
Which is it or are you having a bet each way? By the way, having a bet each way is not a sign of trust – it is a sign of doubt.
Let’s face it, whatever messages God has sent or whatever human form God is manifest in, He/She/It demands that we suffer rightly because this God also suffers for us and He/She/It demands that we defend our belief in this God even to the point of sacrificing our lives.
RESPONDENT: But Petertje (as we say in Holland) People are still weeping with gratitude when they read Kabir, or Rumi, or Osho, or Basho, or Meister Eckhart, and on and on ... What else is there to say?
PETER: You raise a good point here, when you mention ‘weeping with gratitude’. Have you ever noticed the connection between sadness and love, the bitter-sweetness of sorrow, the tug on the heart strings of a particularly sad love song? How we humans turn to believing in God in the face of depression, or death? Have you ever thought that humans need to feel gratitude because we resent being here, having to ‘fight for survival’ in the ‘real’ world. Have you ever considered that is why we seek solace in, and are grateful to, the Masters who promise us there is a better world awaiting us ‘somewhere else’?
It was becoming aware of these emotions and feelings in me and questions like these that I would contemplate upon obsessively until I got an experiential answer. In other words, an answer that provided me with freedom from sad and sorrowful feelings and, even more difficult to acknowledge, my feelings of malice and aggression.
Initially, I got thoroughly sick and tired of being sad and suffering from love, and further I saw that I was inflicting my suffering and need for love on others.
That was the starting point – to make becoming happy and harmless the unrelenting, unabashed ambition in my life.
Peter’s & Richard’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.