Please note that Peter’s correspondence below was written by the feeling-being ‘Peter’ while ‘he’ lived in a pragmatic (methodological), still-in-control/same-way-of-being Virtual Freedom before becoming actually free.

Selected Correspondence Peter


PETER to Alan: I came across this little snippet of news that particularly struck me as a telling indictment of New Dark Age therapies. It particularly reminds me of the frantic attempts to induce an Altered State of Consciousness involved in ‘breath’ therapies, re-birthings, the Rajneeshees’ dynamic meditation, Trance dancing, the ‘radical highs’ of bungee jumping and the like.

[quote]: Neurological Disorder Inspired European Dancing Tradition ST. PAUL, MN –

An annual European dancing procession that blends legend and tradition may have roots in a neurological disorder causing dance-like movements, according to a historical review in the December 10 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

‘As a child growing up in Luxembourg, I danced in the Dancing Procession of Echternach,’ said neurologist and study author Paul Krack, MD, of the University of Kiel in Germany. ‘It wasn’t until later when I studied neurology that I learned of its significance to modern day movement disorders.’ According to legend, the Dancing Procession of Echternach originated in the late eighth century after patients with tremor and paralysis were miraculously healed at the grave of the missionary Willibrord. News of the miracles spread and people began to dance at Willibrord’s grave seeking protection from and cures for neurological disorders, and Willibrord soon became the patron saint of patients with neurological disorders.

During the 14th century plague epidemic in central Europe, Christians and pagans danced to seek protection from illness. These dances, based on religious fervour, pagan tradition or superstition, may have led to epidemics of mass hysteria. Neurologists later surmised that these epidemics were outbreaks of a disorder known as hysteric chorea, which caused involuntary dance-like movements. These movements became known as the dancing disease or Saint Vitus’ chorea. A chorea is an abnormal involuntary movement that occurs without purpose. The word stems from the Greek word chorea, which means dance. Saint Vitus’ dance later became a term synonymous with Sydenham’s chorea, a childhood condition associated with rheumatic fever.

Today the most common disease causing chorea is hereditary Huntington’s disease. Neurologists most frequently see choreic-like movements as a side effect of levodopa treatment in Parkinson’s patients.

Neurologists have sought to determine the significance of these dancing traditions. In the 1900s, neurologist Henri Meige studied the Dancing Procession of Echternach to look for chorea in the dancers. Throughout the procession he found no signs of chorea. He attributed the lack of chorea to two things. First, police took away people having epileptic or hysteric attacks during the dance. Second, patients could send a relative or hire a professional dancer to take their place.

Meige also examined epidemics of dancing disease of the medieval era. He believed that singing, dancing and laughing that occurred during these epidemics influenced brain functioning, and this may have led to the dancing disease of medieval times. He suggests that some people are more suggestible than others. Krack agrees with Meige’s conclusions of the medieval dancing disease. ‘Emotion, behaviour and the movement systems are tightly linked in the brain,’ said Krack. ‘You’ll see this in Parkinson’s patients. On a smaller scale, think of the elation that a person feels while dancing, singing and laughing at a party.’

Today, the Dancing Procession of Echternach occurs on the Tuesday following Pentecost. Dancers, in groups of four or five, take three steps forward, then two back; five steps are needed to advance one pace. The procession is a religious ceremony where people dance to folk music. ‘People join in the procession for fun or to pray for a disabled relative,’ said Krack. ‘Though the people involved in the dancing procession today are not choreics and are not likely to be hysterics, the event shows the close interface between society and early medicine and between Christian and pagan traditions in Europe,’ said neurologist Christopher Goetz, MD, of Rush Medical College in Chicago, IL. ‘It represents an early glimpse at self-help therapies.’ Copyright (C) 1999 Science Daily

I find the last sentence particularly telling and would only add my personal observation of ‘the close interface between NDA society and alternative medicine and between ancient animalist, religious and meditation practices in the East’ to his observations.

It’s a mad, mad, mad world.

PETER: I have appreciated your sincerity in our communications – it is an essential attribute that will stand you in good stead in your future reading and practicing.

RESPONDENT: One thing I’ve learned over the past few years is that I have no interest in wasting my or anyone else’s time with untruths, or even neurotic fabrications. I did a therapy stint for a while, and while it did have some value, I got very tired of regurgitating my own schtick repeatedly. I could well imagine that others were as tired of hearing mine as I was of hearing theirs. Sort of reminds me of a colony of chimps picking nits off each other.

PETER: I saw an interview the other day with that doyen of therapy, Woody Allen, where he was asked whether therapy had helped him in his life and even he dismissed it as being of not much use. From what he said in the interview he seems to have now slipped into a stoic resignation or a begrudging acceptance of his lot in life – a condition that is common to many men of his age.

It’s good to find out and recognize when a door is the wrong door, when a revered wisdom has obviously failed and to eventually abandon hope that any of the old ways will bring peace and happiness. I remember once saying that actualism should have a sign on the door saying ‘Abandon hope all ye who enter here’ and by that I meant the hope that the traditional long- tried and always-failed methods would somehow, sometime, miraculously deliver the goods. When I recognized and acknowledged to myself that everything I had tried so far had failed to provide happiness and peace, I was then ready to try out something radically new.

RESPONDENT: That way we can separate emotion/passion from instinct and get a better look at it. The way I see it at this moment is that instinct is an inherited tendency, something a being is born with, and passion/emotion is something learned after conception.

PETER: The survival instincts are genetically-encoded in all human beings and are inevitably manifest as instinctual passions in all human beings. Contrary to ancient beliefs, human beings are not born pure and innocent – they are all pre-programmed to feel fear, aggression, nurture and desire and these emotions are usually evident in action in all children by about age 2 –

Peter: To recap again … at birth we come genetically pre-coded with an instinctual ‘self’ that is fully developed by the age of about 2 years. This coincides with the first obvious signs of the instinctual passions of fear, aggression, nurture and desire in every infant’s behaviour.

With the first signs of the emergence of this instinctual behaviour we begin to be instilled by our peers with a social identity consisting of morals – ‘good’ and ‘bad’ – and ethics – ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ – together with a full set of social beliefs and psittacisms. This social identity is instilled essentially to curb the excesses of the instinctual passions and to make one a fit member of society. This identity is one’s ‘inner policeman’ and must be tackled first if one wishes to eliminate the instinctual passions. Introduction to Actual Freedom

RESPONDENT: Instincts are there because it is useful for the survival of the organism to have survival behaviours in place from the start.

PETER: In a predatory world, survival instincts and the resulting instinctually-produced hormonal passions are essential if a species is to survive. The proposition that actualism presents is that these passions – the source of human malice and sorrow – are now not only utterly redundant, but they actually stand in the way of peace on earth between human beings.

RESPONDENT: The emotions are learned later and coloured by the specific environment and linked to the instincts to better assist the organism’s instinctual expression in the environment in which it finds itself.

PETER: This is what the therapists and spiritualists would have us believe but it flies in the face of scientific evidence to the contrary. It was a blow to my pride when I discovered that the extent to which holding on to spiritual beliefs involves denial of empirical fact. In the end the only reason I pushed on was that it was even sillier to remain being silly.

RESPONDENT: I’d say only the higher animals have this additional adaptive quality. I think there are many who believe emotions exist only in humans, some who acknowledge their existence in apes and chimps and a few who think other animals experience them.

PETER: The human species, no longer needing to fear and fight other animals in order to survive, are by and large nowadays left with only each other to fear and fight and they do that with gusto. An estimated 160 million human beings were killed by their fellow human beings in wars in the last century alone, not to mention all the genocides, murders, rapes, assaults, child abuse, domestic violence and so on.

The question I asked myself was why would I want to remain an instinctually-driven animal?

RESPONDENT: I am new on this mailing list, and the concept of Actual Freedom is also new for me, very interesting though. I have followed the debates with the highest interest and I have also read some of the texts on the Actual Freedom web. English is not my first language, so you might find some peculiar sentences and wordings. Please have some indulgence.

PETER: Welcome. It is good to have you writing on the list. No doubt if you persist in your interest you will not only discover more about Actual Freedom but your English will also improve. English is my first language but when I first read Richard’s Journal I had to go out and buy a good dictionary. At first I found his extended vocabulary use a bit frustrating but I soon found having to look up the meaning of certain words aided me enormously in understanding what was being written. It took me months of reading to begin to break through my inherent, and inherited, ‘blindness’ – as in cognitive dissonance – to the fact that there could be another human experience other than remaining normal or becoming spiritual.

RESPONDENT: I recognize major parts of the concept or method, described in Actual Freedom, from a book I read about cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This book (only available in Swedish and not very scientific, more practical) also recognizes the phenomena of pure consciousness experience (PCE), as something important. Even more interesting is that the described approach to ease fear and psychological pain is almost identical compared with the methods described on the Actual Freedoms web site. Actual Freedom has as I see it a much more radical goal. What I find interesting is the similarities in method. CBT have a good reputation as a proven effective treatment method. This gives credibility also for Actual Freedom’s method, despite the methods different goals.

PETER: The similarities seem to be in the fact that both are pragmatic approaches and both address the issue of one’s immediate anxieties, emotions and behaviour in the world of people, things and events. The aim of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is to reign in the excesses of emotions so as to return the patient to normal – i.e. normally aggressive and normally sad. The aim of actualism is to eliminate the whole psychological and psychic structure – ‘who’ I think I am and ‘who’ I instinctually feel I am, as opposed to what I am – so as to completely eradicate the root cause of malice and sorrow. I know little about how cognitive therapy is used and applied by the hands-on practitioners in the field but this more practical approach to therapy does seem to be having more success than the previous approaches based on moral and ethical reconditioning, emotive expression, self-acceptance, self-love, shamanism and mysticism, chemical restraints, etc.

In order to explore the differences between the method of actualism and cognitive behavioural therapy, not only in intent but also in the processes, I have accessed a brief summary of CBT from the Net.

[Quote]: Cognitive therapy is a widely used form of psychotherapy that focuses on changing dysfunctional cognitions (thoughts), emotions, and behaviour. Cognitive therapy is based on the theory that individuals with depression, anxiety, and other emotional disorders have maladaptive patterns of information processing and related behavioural difficulties.

One of the primary targets of cognitive therapy is the identification of negative or distorted automatic thoughts. These cognitions are the relatively autonomous thoughts that occur rapidly while an individual is in the midst of a particular situation or is recalling significant events from the past.

‘Negative or distorted automatic thoughts’ is simply another way of saying feelings and emotions. Close and constant observation will reveal that feelings are most commonly expressed as emotion-backed thoughts. Thinking, when freed of the automatic influence of the emotions that arise from one’s instinctual passions, is a benign functional activity. Eastern religion and mysticism has always laid the blame of evil on thinking per se, while giving full vent to the so-called good emotions to run wild, unrestrained by any sense whatsoever. It would appear that CBT adopts a similar stance and lays the ills of the patient at the door of wrong thinking. It is inappropriate in the real world to question the instinctual passions themselves, for human beings hold their passions dearly to their bosoms, stubbornly and deliberately maintaining their blindness to the fact that these passions are none other than savage and brutal animal survival passions.

Just a note about the feelings and emotions that one notices by running the question of ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’

Many men in particular, because of their gender programming, have great difficulties in getting in touch with their feelings. As this is generally the case, then it may be useful to begin with observing what you are thinking in this moment of being alive. If you describe your thinking as a bit dull for instance, it may be that you are feeling lackluster. If you are thinking about what someone said or didn’t say to you, it may well be that you feel annoyed which is a mild form of anger. If you are thinking that someone has wronged you, then it is useful to label and identify the feeling that is happening in that moment – be it resentment, indignation, righteousness, envy, etc.

For women this process of investigation is identical, but given that they have usually been taught to identify more strongly with their emotions, their difficulty can be in sorting through a bewildering array of unrestrained input. Again, momentary awareness is the first thing – to catch the feeling while it is happening – and then to label the feeling is the next step. Then complete the investigation by finding the cause, the trigger, of the feeling or emotion that is ruining, clouding or standing in the way of you feeling good right now. This awareness is an experiential awareness of how ‘you’, as an entity, have been programmed to react to the world of people, things and events. This is 180 degrees different to practicing spiritual awareness, which is to either accept, ignore or deny one’s reactions to the world of people, things and events and retreat into an inner world of one’s own imagination. Spiritual awareness leads to the ‘self’-centred psychotic states of dissociation or the more extreme state of solipsism whereas the actualism method is an ongoing self-investigation that breaks the stranglehold the psychological and psychic entity, eventually leading to a ‘self’-less pure consciousness.

[Quote]: Patients with depression and anxiety have many more negative or fearful automatic thoughts than control subjects, and these distorted cognitions stimulate painful emotional reactions. In addition, negative automatic thoughts can be associated with behaviours (e.g., helplessness, withdrawal, or avoidance) that make the problem worse. In depression or anxiety disorders, there is often a ‘vicious cycle’ of dysfunctional cognitions, emotions, and behaviours.

Again we have ‘negative or fearful automatic thoughts’ or ‘distorted cognitions’ that ‘stimulate painful emotional reactions’, as though it is wrong thinking that causes emotional suffering. It’s a bit like putting the cart before the horse but then again, CBT is concerned about treating and reducing the symptoms and not about acknowledging the source of emotional suffering, let alone finding a permanent cure.

[Quote]: Automatic thoughts are frequently based on faulty logic or errors in reasoning. Cognitive therapy is directed, in part, at helping patients recognize and change these cognitive errors (sometimes called cognitive distortions). Some of the commonly described cognitive errors include: all or nothing thinking, personalization, ignoring the evidence, and overgeneralization. In cognitive therapy, patients are usually taught how to detect cognitive errors and to use this skill in developing a more rational style of thinking.

What initially twigged my interest in CBT was a television program, which showed a patient being treated for agoraphobia. The treatment was very matter-of-fact and not at all esoteric or airy-fairy. The patient, at her own pace, was allowed to experientially discover for herself that her psychological and psychic fear was nothing other than a feeling, i.e. while it may have felt very real it was not a fact. By becoming aware of her fear, labelling it, discussing it, and thinking about it she was gradually able to desensitize herself to its influence. In her case the fear was not eliminated but it was reduced to tolerable levels such that she could function reasonably normally. Another patient had a fear of a particular insect and by increasingly prolonged contact he was able to become desensitized to the fear, thus replacing the feeling of fear with the fact that he was not being hurt. I don’t see this as a triumph of rational thinking over irrational thinking, I see this as a triumph of fact over feeling.

[Quote]: Another focus of cognitive therapy is on underlying schemas. These cognitive structures are thought to be the templates, or basic rules, for interpreting information from the environment. Schemas (sometimes termed core beliefs) can be either adaptive or maladaptive. Cognitive therapists assist patients in modifying problematic schemas.

Generally, cognitive therapy for dysfunctional schemas is more complex and demanding than therapeutic work with automatic thoughts.

This is where terminology tends to be confusing. ‘Templates, or basic rules, for interpreting information from the environment’ or ‘core beliefs’ seems to be referring to our instinctual ‘self’-centred survival programming. If so, these are not beliefs, this is a genetically-encoded neural program. This is where all therapy comes up against a brick wall and any ‘modifications’ can only be fiddling with the controls, or rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

[Quote]: Cognitive therapy also includes a number of behavioural interventions such as activity scheduling and graded task assignments. These procedures are used to reverse behavioural pathology and to influence cognitive functioning.

Breaking ingrained habits was another of the features of CBT that made sense to me.

[Quote]: The relationship between cognition and behaviour is considered to be a ‘two way street.’ If behaviour improves, there is usually a salutatory effect on cognition. In a similar manner, cognitive changes can lead to behavioural gains. Thus, cognitive therapists often combine cognitive and behavioural techniques in clinical practice.

Are they saying that success breeds success? If the success is tangible, then confidence grows which leads to a change in behaviour that happens almost without one noticing it.

[Quote]: The results described are of course much different. CBT aims to help people with severe psychological problems, depression, panic attacks or phobias, to overcome their problems and then to be able to act as normal people in the society.

Is this a disclaimer? Obviously the successes are limited but the success of such a pragmatic down-to-earth approach to therapy can be seen as more evidence of ‘the good sense of actualism’, as No. 13 put it. I know in the early days it was this good sense that lead me to establish a prima facie case in favour of actualism.

RESPONDENT: One problem raised by Mr. No 12 is if it really is possible to extinguish ‘self’. If it is possible to exist without ‘self’ as a human being. I have to investigate the concept ‘self’ more before I can decide if this idea is sensible or not.

PETER: May I suggest that running the question ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ will put you in touch with your ‘self’ and then you will find that ‘self’ is not a concept but a reality – it is none other than ‘who’ you think and instinctually feel you are. You may well discover that it is ‘he’ who is running and ruining your life and standing in the way of perfection and purity.

RESPONDENT: Another problem is the schematic descriptions of our brain works. The origin of instincts and their effect on our perception of our self and the world we all live in. I have to do some more studies in this area.

PETER: And I would welcome more discussion in this area for actualism is non-spiritual and down-to-earth, which is why I enjoy exploring what facts the scientists are discovering and what methods really work for the real-world practitioners of therapy.

If in your studies you find any inaccuracies in the schematic diagrams or have any comments about them I would appreciate you letting me know as I am a layperson, more than a little stretched in purely scientific areas.

RESPONDENT: I find though the ideas interesting and one thing I have experienced during the last weeks is that it is almost impossible not to ask oneself the question ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’, perhaps not all times but often. The thought gives some perspective for sure.

PETER: I have just realized I have assumed from your name that you are male and that was why I commented about feelings most commonly being expressed as emotion-backed thoughts. Anyway, for either sex it is useful to be aware that our feelings are most often cunningly disguised as, or described as, thoughts – unless you are overcome with rage, gripped by fear, overwhelmed by nurture or beset by desire, in which case the feelings are obvious as the chemical surges are so intense.

Well enough for now, it’s dinner time. I just wanted to say hello, reply to your comment about CBT and to have a bit of a dig around in that field.

RESPONDENT: I read a cor with u and someone about cognitive psy. I thought the Emoclear site ( might be of interest to you. I would like to hear your, Richard’s, and Vineeto’s ideas on the approach of this website. If I was ever to abandon the practice of actualism, this and cognitive psy. would be where I rest my hat. Looking forward to understanding more of the human condition and how to be free of it.

PETER: If I remember rightly, my only interest in behavioural cognitive therapy at the time was that it appeared to be the most affective therapy amongst all many psychological/spiritual therapies on offer and I put this down to the fact that it offered practical methods to overcome particular types of neurosis. As for its use in becoming free of the human condition, it has none at all. Like all such psychological therapies, it is designed to make one better able to cope with the demands and stresses involved in being a normal well-adjusted social identity, exactly as spiritual therapies are designed to make one turn one’s back on grim reality, and realize one’s ‘true nature’, thereby becoming a normal well-adjusted social identity of the spiritual ilk.

I remember seeing a cartoon drawing several years ago which I likened to the fact that no matter how well-adjusted I was to being able to cope with remaining ensnared within the human condition, the fact that I was genetically-encoded with a full set of instinctual passions meant that, ultimately, a genuine freedom could only be found by becoming actually free of the human condition … in toto.

GARY: Freud may have been a psychological and psychic adventurer (he regarded himself as such), but he stopped short, like so many before him. ‘Integration’ and cure ala Freud is a complacent resignation to living within the Human Condition, a kind of fiddling with the controls.

PETER: The more pragmatic practitioners of psychology and psychiatry freely admit that the aim of any analysis and treatment is to return their patients to normally neurotic, such that they can reasonably function within the range of limits set by society’s laws and regulations. Thus the aim is to reduce paranoia to ‘normal’ fear, to return violent behavior to ‘normal’ aggression and to return manic depression to ‘normal’ sadness. In extreme cases, the previous practice of incarceration in straight jackets has been replaced by incarceration in chemical straightjackets. Curiously, the therapy that seems to be the most effective is what is known as cognitive therapy – a very pragmatic approach to reducing fears and phobias in particular.

The Freudian approach to therapy is summarized in the quote from your last post –

[Eugene V. Wolfenstein]: Given these postulates it follows, first, that sexuality and aggression are built into the human organism. They cannot be eliminated. Second, as drives, they create a pressure, a psychosomatic state of tension, and hence the aim of discharge (tension-reduction). Eugene Victor Wolfenstein, Psychoanalytic Marxism

This approach to therapy was widely used in some spiritual groups, most notably the Rajneeshees, and has proved a spectacular failure, as it has in the real world. Many disciples and followers are still undergoing therapy after 20 years or more and the only ones who seemingly benefit are the therapists themselves. Most of the Rajneesh therapies now blatantly aim to do nothing other than whip up the emotions via discharge, venting or tension-release, giving the ventor a chemical rush that can induce temporary feelings of gratitude, euphoria or unconditional love. Many spiritual people believe that this emotional game-playing has meant they have studied the human psyche in operation and received some cure or healing, whereas they have but scratched the surface of their psyche – if at all.

GARY: Our age, and particularly our parent’s generation, was enormously influenced by psychoanalytic theory and psychoanalysis. I myself received costly and long-term analytic therapy when younger. Psychoanalysis, and its successors like Object Relations and Ego Psychology, maintained the view that the very first few years of life are of enormous impact in determining what occurs subsequently in later life. Lately, I have been questioning this view. I find that remembrances and understandings that I have of what happened in my childhood years have gone into and, in some way, been incorporated into an image of myself that I have being a certain way. In this way, I think sometimes that my understandings of childhood events have contributed to a mythology and identity that I have of myself, that they have gone into ‘who’ I think I am, not what I am - a flesh-and-blood body sensately and apperceptively aware.

Thus, they are part and parcel of ‘my’ memories, why I think ‘I’ behave the way I do, etc, etc. We have long stressed here on this list that one need not go so far back in time to uncover that which is impeding being happy and harmless in the present moment. The goal is being happy and harmless, not endlessly rehashing doubtful analyses of childhood happenings.

PETER: From what I understand about the current research into memories, it appears we are only capable of remembering the last time we remembered an event and we do not necessarily have an accurate recall of the event itself. It is a bit like accessing the last current updated file on your computer and the older ones fade away or get lost or deleted in the mists of time. Many studies have been done which throw doubt on the accuracy of memory recall in criminal cases and point to the susceptibility of memory recall to influence by the interrogators. Similarly, some doubts are beginning to be expressed about the accuracy of many childhood memories and their susceptibility to influence by therapists, guides, psychiatrists etc.

An extraordinary freedom comes when any memory recall begins to be free of ‘my’ psychological and psychic interpretations, when past memories become free of any emotional pains or colourings, whatsoever. This lack of emotional memories is a clear sign of ‘my’ demise, a practical example of the fact that ‘I’ have no past existence other than as psychological and psychic memories. It is experiential down to earth evidence that ‘I’ am an illusion – whose days are numbered.


PETER: The more pragmatic practitioners of psychology and psychiatry freely admit that the aim of any analysis and treatment is to return their patients to normally neurotic, such that they can reasonably function within the range of limits set by society’s laws and regulations. Thus the aim is to reduce paranoia to ‘normal’ fear, to return violent behaviour to ‘normal’ aggression and to return manic depression to ‘normal’ sadness. In extreme cases, the previous practice of incarceration in straight jackets has been replaced by incarceration in chemical straightjackets.

GARY: Much of psychiatry, psychology, and social work are really very conservative activities, concerned with dealing with extreme aberrations and returning the patient or client to ‘normality’ as soon as possible. As most social work students soon find out, much of their practice as social workers is going to be concerned with social control issues. As a social worker, you become a representative of so-called ‘normal’ society to your clients. You embody the time-honored ethics, values, and mores of the greater society, the society that subsidizes you by giving you employment. Were you not to represent these mores and values, you would not long find yourself employed in the field. Mental health work, I find, is extremely controlling and paternalistic. I have often been amazed at how condescending mental health workers, including myself, are towards their clients. While I can think of worse ways to make a living, there is a great deal about it that I am dissatisfied with. In the paragraph you wrote above, I think you have hit on why these activities do not work – they attempt to return the suffering client or patient to the pattern of normality valued by the society, the same pattern of normality that has produced the casualties in the first place. It is like treating war neuroses behind the lines in a tidy field hospital and then immediately returning your cured charges to the front lines. Changing the pattern of society, as the social engineers and politicians would have us do, would not work because we are that pattern. We are violent. We are aggressive. We are fearful and acquisitive, etc, etc.

PETER: Many professions or occupations have an idealistic impassioned undercurrent. I was trained as an architect and was imbued with the notion that good and pure architecture can ennoble the human spirit and thus change the world. I recently saw a comment in an architectural magazine that said ‘architecture challenges the belief that things were better in the old days’. The amazing thing is that now that I have stripped away all the emotion, passion and belief that surrounds my work it becomes the pragmatic, practical business that it is. I still do the best I can to design a building that suits the locality, the particular site, the owners needs, that is value for money and that looks good. I now do the same job, but it is totally different because there is no ‘me’ to stuff up the enjoyment of doing it or to battle others to do it ‘my’ way, as though ‘my creativity’ was of paramount importance.

But that is just how it is for me. There are no rules, or rights and wrongs in actualism – others may find they want to change jobs or do something different. It is the same with my decision to find a companion to prove that I could live with at least one other person in peace and harmony as a starting point to test out whether the process worked or not. Others may prefer to live by themselves, others will be happy to not change their existing circumstances; others may even change partners, or whatever.


PETER: Curiously, the therapy that seems to be the most effective is what is known as cognitive therapy – a very pragmatic approach to reducing fears and phobias in particular.

GARY: I have had a bit of experience with what is called cognitive or cognitive-behavioural therapy, and it does work. But I have the same reservations about it that I have about most ‘healing’ activities. It is not radical enough. It is my opinion that it is not radical at all. It only seeks to help the patient reduce or diminish emotions to ‘normal’, rather than eliminate them totally. As an approach, I feel it is an over-intellectualized approach to life.

It too, like most systems of therapy, is concerned with helping the sufferer fit into the warp and weave of society, to be able to adjust and cope. While these are certainly worthwhile activities and restore some people to a level of functioning that is much better than what they had before, it does not go far enough. I think the keyword in all this is reducing. Perhaps in actualism some will settle for the intermediate goal of reducing their fears and phobias, but they may be afraid to advance to extinction in toto.

PETER: As I have directly observed in quite a few people, even a little bit of actualism is far superior to none at all. It does work and it is entirely up to each person if they want to try it, at what pace they want to go and how deeply they want to go with the process.


PETER: The Freudian approach to therapy is summarized in the quote from your last post –

[Eugene V. Wolfenstein]: Given these postulates it follows, first, that sexuality and aggression are built into the human organism. They cannot be eliminated. Second, as drives, they create a pressure, a psychosomatic state of tension, and hence the aim of discharge (tension-reduction). Eugene Victor Wolfenstein, Psychoanalytic Marxism

This approach to therapy was widely used in some spiritual groups, most notably the Rajneeshees, and has proved a spectacular failure, as it has in the real world. Many disciples and followers are still undergoing therapy after 20 years or more and the only ones who seemingly benefit are the therapists themselves. Most of the Rajneesh therapies now blatantly aim to do nothing other than whip up the emotions via discharge, venting or tension-release, giving the ventor a chemical rush that can induce temporary feelings of gratitude, euphoria or unconditional love. Many spiritual people believe that this emotional game-playing has meant they have studied the human psyche in operation and received some cure or healing, whereas they have but scratched the surface of their psyche – if at all.

GARY: Yes. I was watching a program on TV recently about rage in America. There was a section of the program about a married couple where the woman was an inveterate ‘rage-aholic’ and had terribly abused her husband over and over again. Their marriage was on the rocks and, in desperation, she admitted herself to a rage treatment center based on the alcoholism treatment model. She underwent intensive therapy of all sorts, group and individual, to learn how to deal with her anger. On ‘family day’, hubby came to the center and they sat face to face in front of the other patients and had a prepared list of their long-suppressed gripes, resentments, and grievances to confront one another with. This done, they weepily embraced one another and vowed not to repeat the same patterns that had led to such destruction in their relationship. This section of the program was a rather characteristic portrayal of standard anger treatment: the intense emotional ‘catharsis’ coupled with cognitive-behavioral techniques for ‘anger management’. Suffice it to say, I was rather skeptical of the whole approach. It often satisfies the insurance companies and the treatment industry to have such expensive treatments for anger, a common human problem. Whether or not they are effective, is another matter. It would be interesting to follow up the participants in this treatment and see if there are really any long-term gains.

PETER: In my later years as a Rajneeshee I plunged head-on into expressive type therapies and found them lacking in substance. I was also shocked soon after to find myself overcome by anger one day and started to be aware that all of my spiritual colleagues suffered from similar slippages. Not only did these type of therapies lack substance but they simply did not work long term to alleviate anger or sorrow. There was a particular group who followed the ‘I am all right as I am’ path of ‘self’-love and these people had no qualms at all about expressing their anger at others, nor about being sad and spreading their sorrow to others.

Suppression doesn’t work, emoting doesn’t work, nor does transcendence; otherwise there would be peace on earth by now.


PETER: Becoming free of the human condition means what it means. To step out of Humanity is to no longer be a member of any exclusive club, to hold no truths as sacred or holy, to cherish no beliefs, to have no precious feelings, to nurse no malice or sorrow in one’s bosom.

GARY: I had a long talk with my partner, explaining that I am no longer attending AA and my reasons for not doing so. It was an opportunity to explain the things that I am doing and the changes that are occurring. I found that she understood exactly why I no longer wish to attend AA and why I feel that to continue to do so is holding me down. She said that she honestly could never see me drinking again. She never knew me when I was drinking and taking drugs, we having met while I was already off drugs and alcohol. AA is an exclusive club, but I never saw that before because I wanted to belong to a club; I felt I needed it. Yesterday I stepped into the AA club in the town where I work to speak for awhile with a client who works there. I have not been back there for quite awhile. I felt apprehensive about going in there. It felt a bit like walking into the Lion’s Den. AA is so spiritual, through and through, and it is impossible for me now to conform to any kind of spiritual viewpoint. It is interesting that in the United States, our state courts and appeals courts have consistently upheld the legal finding that AA is a religious organization and that to force people to attend AA, as is frequently done with people who are prison inmates or on probation in the legal system, violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of our Constitution (pertaining to the separation between church and state) and is hence unconstitutional. Yet attendance at AA is the sacred cow of our alcoholism and drug treatment system. There is little or nothing else on offer here but the spiritual Pabulum of the 12-step programs.

PETER: When I was a Rajneeshee, it was well accepted that therapists were in an ideal position to be recruiting agents for the religion – there are none more susceptible to indoctrination into whatever church or faith than the vulnerable and despairing. The compassion business is good business for God and His or Her little helpers.

PETER to No 7: Following on from your last post, I have been musing about the ‘life’-bit of ‘Life, the universe and what it is to be a human being’. ‘Life’ is one of those words that has many nuances in the English language, and it seemed a useful exercise to dig into the various meanings in order to make sense of what life is. When I came across Richard, one of the first things I did was buy a good dictionary. The meanings of words are so perniferously abused, particularly in spiritual writings and speech, that Richard was most particular in his choice of words and often searched for alternatives to both the normally abused and spiritually abused words. Astoundingly, the accurate meanings of words seems to make no difference to many who read his words – for them, the word ‘non-spiritual’ means ‘a new form of spiritual’ and ‘down-to-earth’ means ‘spiritual life while here on earth’ and ‘actual freedom’ is no different at all from the pseudo ‘spiritual freedom’ of turning away and escaping into a fantasy land. (...)

Life is such a bloody good subject – I would say vitally interesting – and one I remember as literally earth-shaking when I delved into the misconceptions and psittacisms surrounding it. So let’s start with the Oxford Dictionary. I’ll break the definitions into sections dealing with different interpretations of the word, so as to best define the distinctive meanings associated with the word –

life ––

  1. A condition of power, activity, or happiness; esp. (chiefly in biblical and religious use) the condition of a person freed from the state of sin equated with spiritual death; salvation; regenerate condition. Oxford Dictionary

The final relevant definition points to attaining a new Life – as in being Born Again or becoming Enlightened or Self-Realized, whereby one takes on a new imaginary identity in an new imaginary life – thus becoming ‘freed’ from the state of sin (or life in the real world). For those not so dedicated to the pursuit of a spiritual New Life there is the more secular version offered by some therapists whereby the aim is to strengthen, en-richen or empower one’s existing ‘life’ such that one wins more than loses, one overcomes adversity, one fights for one’s rights, one becomes better, stronger, more powerful, more self-fulfilled, more self-centred, etc. Both approaches fail to address the fact that human beings are programmed with an instinct to survive that makes fear, aggression, nurture and desire an integral part of the Human Condition. Actual Freedom is the only approach to the human dilemma that addresses this fact – every other approach, avoids this fundamental fact.

Actual Freedom is the third alternative to the traditional acceptance or the spiritual avoidance of one’s lot in life. What an excellent thing to discover – the chance to actually do something about one’s lot in life – to become happy and harmless.

RESPONDENT: (...) There is a sensation of an I – someone to whom it all is happening, even though it is yet another sensation and this I is not very solid. Also, there are body movements and sequences of actions that are being accomplished. The main motive of the actions seems self-preservation and feeling good. There is some doubt arising about the benefit of this analysis of myself. Maybe this doubt is coming from the past knowledge, though, as probably everything else. So, my analysis kind of fails here. Some other thoughts are coming ... I don’t know where it is going. It becomes difficult to continue this... My concepts are cancelled by their opposites which become apparent as this is going on. It is difficult to describe things as they happen in real time. That seems OK, not a big deal, not a problem.

PETER: Sounds as if you are having fun. I experienced this digging and investigating as ‘deep sea diving’, as Richard puts it, compared with a mere ‘snorkelling on the surface’ of my spiritual years. Therapy as it is practiced in the normal world is designed to keep one within the accepted societal limits of ‘normal’ – to fit in, such that one does not need to be locked away from harming others physically. Spiritual therapy, on the other hand is tailored to evoke spiritual experiences. It usually consists of breath therapy, emotional release or catharsis such that it causes some form of altered state of consciousness with resulting heartfelt or Divine feelings. Re-arranging the furniture on the Titanic is how Vineeto and I refer to these exercises in futility as no emotions, feelings or instincts are permanently eliminated.

To really dig in and eliminate one’s ‘self’ in its entirety, to deliberately eliminate both the psychological and psychic entity requires a sincere intent and nerves of steel.

RESPONDENT: First of all, I had no ‘stated position’. Where do you get this stuff? Pure love and trust has got to do with killing for the master? How you try and confuse everything.

PETER: This gets a bit silly here. Are you saying you have not written about your valuing pure love and trust?

The reason that I probably would have killed or died for Rajneesh was out of ‘love’ for him and because I put my ‘trust’ in him. We are usually willing to kill in order to protect those we love – be they kin, kind or leader, and further, would often sacrifice our own life in order that they may live. This is a common reaction – a direct product of our instinctual programming. This is all very straightforward and basic stuff.

RESPONDENT: Perhaps you are this confused? Probably you are, but you don’t realize your problem, so there’s no helping you. What a waste, surrounded by gurus, and therapists from all over the world and you don’t get you have a problem.

PETER: It’s that old hoary adage ... you need to do some groups, Swami! Well here’s a bit on that subject –

[Peter]: ... ‘I threw myself into doing groups, but after about three full-on months I realised I was just hearing the same thing again and again. Everybody had the same problems with only very slight variations. Everybody had had a bad childhood, everyone was lonely and sad, and justified it or blamed someone else or some situation for their suffering. Compared to the last twelve months since meeting Richard, it was a mere ‘scraping of the surface’, an extremely superficial look at the Human Condition. The groups involved a lot of ‘getting it out’, resulting in deep grief and tears, followed by a Rajneesh discourse tape, more tears, and ending in wonderful blissful feelings. The problem was always that the bliss did not last – either someone cut in on you in the food queue or you went home to battle with your lover again.’ Peter’s Journal, ‘Spiritual Search’

And now you will tell me that I missed the point of doing groups, that I didn’t get ‘it’. What I did get was that we all have the same problems, the same issues – that we all suffer from the Human Condition – and this was useful in that I was then able to not take my own problems so seriously, or so personally. It was a crack in the door to getting free of the Human Condition in me – I stopped being so ego-centric in that I didn’t take everything so ‘personally’ anymore. Nor did I resort to denial, or dis-association. By neither suppressing or expressing I was able to begin to investigate my feelings, emotions and instincts in the light of bare awareness.

Peter’s Selected Correspondence Index

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