Selected Correspondence Peter
PETER: Hi Everybody,
PETER to No 95: Some of the items I recall from my checklist – <snipped for length>
This list is by no means exhaustive, but I well remember that the whole question of whether or not the instinctual passions were indeed genetically-encoded by blind nature was crucial to my really beginning to question the ancient yet still prevalent religious/ spiritual notions of the causes of evil in human beings. It was also pivotal in my realizing that, given Richard’s experience that these passions are ‘software’ as opposed to being hardwired, I too had the opportunity to become free of the human condition in toto, should I so desire. Peter, Actual Freedom Mailing List, No 95, 11.1.2006
RESPONDENT No 95: That’s an interesting set of considerations to ponder over but I am still able to entertain alternative postulations that are not being killed off by any sense of necessity in what you say. What you say is appealing but that’s all. I don’t hold the following theory, I’m only entertaining it (in the sense of that wonderful quote provided by No 92 in another post i.e. ‘It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.’ – Aristotle), amongst others but it just as plausible to me:
PETER to No 95: It’s good to keep in mind that Aristotle made his living and got his kudos from being a philosopher, hence what he is saying can be paraphrased as – ‘It is the mark of a shrewd philosopher to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.’ Given his vocation, his words of wisdom can be seen as nothing more than a disclaimer clause or a ‘get out of jail’ card, one that apparently strikes a chord for those with similar motivations. Peter, Actual Freedom Mailing List, No 95 17.1.2006
RESPONDENT: Obviously you could not entertain that quote without, as No 53 said, an allergic reaction.
PETER: Why would anything that No 53 said be obvious? He has an abysmal track record for making objective observations on this mailing list let alone for factual accuracy – thus far nil. He simply operates on the basis of ‘if you tell enough lies about someone and keep repeating those lies, then someone will believe them’ … and when someone else does, hey presto, you have scored a point.
RESPONDENT: That is the whole point of the quote.
PETER: What is the whole point of the quote – that it is a disclaimer? If so, then what is your point?
RESPONDENT: It seems that you are unable to take what is useful from this ‘human condition ridden world’.
PETER: I do indeed take what is useful in all that my fellow human beings have toiled in bringing to fruition and I do not take it for granted either. An ever-increasing proportion of the human population on this planet is enjoying safety, comfort, leisure and pleasure the likes of which has never, ever existed before, all of which is the result of human endeavour and all of which has been achieved in spite of the ongoing human condition of malice and sorrow.
It is staggering to think what could be have been achieved and can be achieved in the future if human beings were indeed free from being continuously hobbled by malice and sorrow. But then again, I have always had a vital interest in peace on earth, both personal and global.
RESPONDENT: I take it you can’t entertain a thought without accepting it? Or you think it is in bad taste to do so?
PETER: I am perfectly capable of abstract thinking and there are a good many things that I don’t know to be fact, but I never regarded the issue of my malice and my sorrow as being at all abstract. Consequently I took up the challenge of finding out whether of not my malice and my sorrow was indeed an archaic biological inheritance or whether, as is commonly believed, it is the result of imperfect nurture/ environment.
RESPONDENT: True philosophy is futile, but a true statement can still come from a philosopher’s mouth even if he is not ‘actually free’.
PETER: And yet that very same philosopher according to his own philosophy would immediately offer the disclaimer that having ‘an educated mind’, he is only entertaining the thought that it is true statement without accepting that it is true.
RESPONDENT: Or perhaps what is written above is your disclaimer for those who might want to think about actualism before accepting it?
PETER: No. What I was endeavouring to do was point out that anyone who thinks about actualism whilst firmly holding the view that ‘it is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it’ will be very likely disinclined to firstly make up their own mind sufficiently as to whether or not the deep-seated human passions of fear, aggression, nurture and desire are in fact instinctual and secondly be disinclined to find, in the everyday circumstances of their life, sufficient motivation to take the necessary steps to become actually free of these passions.
Here’s a question for you. Would not someone who accepted Mr. Aristotle’s logic as being a universal truth regard someone who accepted something to be a fact so much so that they acted on the fact as having an ‘uneducated’ mind?
PETER to No 95: I see that you are currently having a conversation with Richard about nature vs. nurture. I find it curious that you have yet to say where you stand on the subject as to whether the instinctual passions are at core genetically-encoded or whether they are the result of an imperfect nurturing process. Peter, Actual Freedom Mailing List, No 95 11.1.2006
RESPONDENT: About those instinctual passions. I recently read somewhere that there is a part of the brain believed to be responsible for aggression. Not a chemical, but a part of the brain. I have heard talk here before about brain scans and how they would prove nothing since the ‘self’ is not anywhere to be found ‘in there’. Well what about that pressure in the brain? Perhaps a physical change is occurring in the brain? Brain damage in a good way?
PETER: I recently read a book entitled ‘The Biology of Violence’ in which the author summarized a good deal of the discoveries of the brain circuitry and electrochemical reactions involved in causing all humans to feel and act upon the biological survival instinct manifest as ‘me’, a feeling being that has taken up a parasitical residence inside this flesh and blood body. The book was a purely academic study of violence in human beings because experiential studies of the human predilection for violence have been declared taboo, which is why the only course of action if you really want to find out the root cause of human malice – and hence of human sorrow – is to make your own experiential study into how and why ‘I’ am as ‘I’ am.
The means to making this exploration is both simple and straightforward – the one and only necessity is to get in touch with one’s feelings, when and as they are occurring, each moment again and by doing so expose them to the bright light of one’s own awareness and one’s own intent to rid oneself of malice and sorrow.
RESPONDENT: Perhaps I might spread my load a little and direct a few questions to the virtually free, to Peter and Vineeto:
Is there a difference between the benevolence of the universe and the universe actively conspiring to give me things I want to be happy? I want a good job, a good woman and a good house.
PETER: Speaking personally, I discovered in my own experience as well as by observing others that ‘a good job, a good woman and a good house’ are in no way a guarantee of happiness. <snipped>
RESPONDENT: Lordy no. <snipped>
PETER: If you have already understood this in your own experience, then why bother to ask me a question about the universe actively conspiring to give you these things you said you want in order to be happy?
RESPONDENT: Because although they don’t guarantee happiness they do seem to bring it in some sense, and, perhaps more the point, when these things are not there, it does seem to be painful.
PETER: If I can just backtrack a bit, you may have noticed I snipped quite a lot out of the previous post – a good deal of supplementary information I supplied in order to flesh out my response as well as whole raft of supplementary questions that you asked, all of which moved the conversation further and further away from the topic at hand. The reason I did this was to avoid having a conversation that was so wide-ranging and meandering as to be meaningless and to attempt to focus in on one issue only, in this case that ‘‘a good job, a good woman and a good house’ are in no way a guarantee of happiness’.
In my many conversations with Richard over the years I have learnt the art of thinking in a linear manner – examining and investigating one particular matter by sticking with the issue, no matter how uncomfortable or confrontational – in order to get to the bottom of the issue. To put it quite simply and succinctly, I wanted to get to understand the fact of the matter under investigation – to get a factual answer to my question – such that I could then be confident in once and for all dismissing all of the beliefs that normally relate to this particular matter. This simple act of thoroughly investigating, understanding and unreservedly acknowledging the facts of the matter then enabled me to act upon the fact and not remain suckered into believing what others believed, or would have me believe was the truth about the particular issue.
It does seem somewhat odd to me to have to point out the value of finding out the facts of the matter and acting upon the fact of the matter given that this type of straightforward down-to-earth thinking is often used by people in practical pragmatic problem solving. But I do acknowledge that it is difficult to apply such thinking in investigating the human condition in action – in particular with such close to the bone issues as the societal and instinctual causes of malice and sorrow – because not only is there are plethora of beliefs disguised as truths and wisdom that need to be investigated and thought about in order to get the facts of the matter but one also discovers experientially that the human psyche itself has innate resistance to being exposed. The latter is no doubt the reason why so many people are so adverse to using the actualism method of moment-to-moment ‘self’-investigation – indeed the very act of conducting such an investigation into one’s own psyche in action means the investigation is an experiential hands-on investigation rather than the dissociated intellectual-only analysis that has thus far masqueraded as investigating the human condition.
I don’t know if what I am saying makes sense to you or not but I can only suggest as someone who is experienced in these matters that it may be worthwhile contemplating upon because it is central to your being able to gain something meaningful for yourself from the contributions of others on this mailing list. After all you did ask me a question (presumably because you were interested in my answer) and as such would it not be sensible to pause at least for a moment to consider the answer you got before summarily dismissing it by immediately launching into objections, diversions and a long list of further questions.
Having said that I’ll now get back to the topic at hand – your yes-but acknowledgement of the fact that ‘‘a good job, a good woman and a good house’ are in no way a guarantee of happiness’.
This was something I personally discovered to be a fact in my twenties, not only from my own personal experience but also from close association with people who were above my rank on the materialist ladder of success as well as from copious anecdotal evidence that even those who are at the top rungs of the ladder – the much-envied rich and famous – invariably suffer from bouts of sadness, melancholy, anxiety, insecurity and the like. This combination of my own experience and the understanding that the experience was universal as in common-to-all with no exceptions meant that I never went down the path of materialism in the belief that it could, despite all the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, be the means to happiness.
Clearly seeing and acknowledging the fact of this particular matter, fully taking it on board with no ‘ifs’, ‘buts’ or ‘maybes’, combined with an innate sincerity I seem to have had at the time, meant that I didn’t waste my time in a fruitless search for happiness in the fickle and fierce world of materialistic pursuits. Clearly seeing and acknowledging the fact of the matter meant that I was compelled to act on the fact rather than take it on board as a feeling–only agreement (a moral stance) or as an intellectual-only understanding (an ideal or an ethic) – which would have only meant merely continuing to be a combatant in the materialist rat-race whilst feeling guilty about it or sprouting the ethics of equity all the while frantically squirreling away as many nuts as I could lest others get more than me.
So – in the interest of at least finding some common ground for continuing this discussion– I ask you, do you agree with the statement I made that ‘‘a good job, a good woman and a good house’ are in no way a guarantee of happiness’? In other words, do you agree that it is a fact … or do you not agree that it is a fact as your yes-but, yes-maybe qualifications and your yes-but-what if, yes-but-what-about questions appear to indicate?
RESPONDENT: Now, how did the PCE reveal anything about the origin, composition, extent, or duration of the actual universe?
PETER: As I said above, in a PCE it is clearly experienced that there is nothing at all mystical, nor spiritual about this actual world we live in and this direct sensual experience of actuality is all the more magical because it is devoid of the fears and fantasies of mysticism.
RESPONDENT: Sure, but that doesn’t answer the question as I intended it. I’ve been thinking a lot about Richard’s answers to my questions re cosmogony & cosmology, trying to make sense of it all. I wanted to know how the extent and duration of the actual universe can be directly experienced. The closest I can come to figuring out is simply that the mental constructs that sustain concepts of finiteness and temporality just drop away, revealing themselves to be figments of the imagination. Is that in line with what you’re saying?
PETER: I don’t know whether or not you have read my journal, but if you have you will notice that nowhere do I mention that what I wrote about was all spontaneously revealed to me in a PCE and nor do I say ‘this is what Richard has revealed to me’.
What I wrote about, and quite passionately wrote about, was the nitty-gritty process of how I became virtually free of the human condition (including the belief, be it religious, spiritual, mystical, cosmological or whatever else, that the universe had a beginning). In other words, what I wrote about was how a normal bloke with a full set of beliefs, feelings and passions came to understand, both intellectually and experientially, how the human condition operates such that I could get to the stage of being virtually free of the human condition. And as near as I can remember it, this is how ‘I’, as a normal person, applied my thinking to the matter at hand.
Regardless of what I remembered having experienced in a PCE, as normal bloke (being ‘me’) I found myself confronted by two diametrically opposite propositions – whether the universe is infinite and eternal or whether it is an ephemeral and transient construction.
Faced with this either/or choice, what I found I had to do was apply some practical common sense thinking in order to think it through so as to come to a conclusion one way or another. This meant making an evaluation of each of the alternatives based on my own common sense and my own life experiences as well as taking note of the experience of others. The next thing I needed to take into account were the consequences that would result in deciding one way or the other.
As you know, my experience of the failures of the spiritual beliefs that proposed that the physical universe is ephemeral in nature was that both the Western version and the Eastern version are but fairy tales. When I looked into cosmology I came to understand it is, as it says it is, the branch of science devoted to studying the ‘evolution’ of the universe. As birth and death is essential to the evolutionary process it became clear to me that cosmology is the branch of science devoted to the study of the birth and death of the universe. When I took this on board and did a bit of reading about the fields of research of cosmology it became aware that cosmology was a metaphysical science and not an empirical science.
As I dug into the history of cosmology a bit, I came to understand that cosmology has its roots in ancient spiritual beliefs and that it was a branch of science dedicated to finding proofs that would in turn substantiate one crucial aspect of spiritual belief – the belief that matter is ephemeral. Cosmological theories, as distinct from the rigorously-empirical and applied sciences, that propose that matter is ephemeral serve to ‘leave the door open’ to the core of spiritual belief – that matter is ephemeral and only consciousness is substantial and enduring – or in religious belief, that the universe is in fact an ephemeral creation.
When I came to understand this, the consequences of continuing to believe that the universe is ephemeral meant that I would continue to believe ‘I’ was, in truth, a substantial and enduring ‘being’ – that the spiritualists are right and this meant, for me, meant either staying on the spiritual path or, if I remained open to them being right, to stop searching and settle for being agnostic.
On the other hand, for me to consider that the universe was indeed infinite and eternal, i.e. it had no beginning to it, meant that the matter that is this universe is substantive and lasting and that consciousness arose out of this matter. Thinking this through meant that the consciousness of this material body only exists as long as this body is alive – physical death is the end of ‘me’ as consciousness – there is no after-life for ‘me’, as consciousness, after this material body dies. Death is the end – kaput, finito, no more, oblivion, finish. An infinite and eternal universe clearly has drastic consequences for ‘me’..
Firstly it meant that if I considered that the universe was indeed infinite and eternal I would be at odds with everyone else who believed in creationist theories, spiritual realms, supernatural forces or cosmological theories – including those agnostics who remained open to any such beliefs. But even more drastic than that, in an infinite and eternal material universe ‘I’, as the consciousness of this corporeal mortal body, have only one life to live and this made me realize this is the only moment, the only place and the only circumstances that I can actually experience being alive. This sudden in-my-face realization meant that I could no longer procrastinate, no longer equivocate, no longer postpone, no longer avoid the fact that I was not yet fully alive.
So I summarized my choice as either ‘more of the same’ – the spiritual path which I had already discovered to be shonky and more of not feeling fully alive – or embark on course of action that meant radical change. ‘More of the same’ was not an option for me so I took the option of radical and irrevocable change, which as you know, meant focussing my total attentiveness on being here in the world of the senses with the sole aim of becoming both happy and harmless. And what followed as a consequence of this decision was a progressive waning of all spiritual, mystical, metaphysical and supernatural beliefs, which in turn opened the door to many PCEs whereby I had direct experiences of the infinitude of the universe.
I wanted to lay out my thinking about this issue as thus far most discussions on this list regarding this matter seem to concentrate on the details of the either/or case rather than consider the broader issues and over-arching consequences. If I can summarize, it is a way of thinking that allowed me to get to the intellectual and existential core of the issue as quickly as possible, rather than get bogged down in details and sidetracks.
PETER: I like your observation as it demonstrates to me that you have been doing some down-to-earth thinking –
RESPONDENT: What appears to be contradictions to me …
‘Nothing can be known with certainty’ – certainly.
‘There is no matter – only sensations produced by ‘brain!’ exist.’
‘Quantum Physics for discussions/highest truth... common sense for everyday life.’
‘Ancient wisdom for discussion... common sense for everyday life.’
PETER: The tendency of human beings to indulge in abstract thinking, aka philosophy, is legendary, particularly so amongst the males of the species and it has done nothing but produce a maize of contradictions and a plethora of obscurations as well as endless opportunities for argumentations.
In 1980, John Lennon, a man who had considerable wealth, fame and power, wrote a song for his son and a line from it went: ‘Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans’. It strikes me that he could equally well have written ‘Life is what happens to you while you’re busy philosophizing about it.’
I remember being struck by the inanity of this propensity to philosophize when contemplating my own mortality and I wrote about it in my journal at the time –
RESPONDENT: This may be somewhat of a ramble ... but I have found that expressing thoughts, as they come, may lead to insight and helpful feedback from others.
PETER: Yep. When I first came across Richard and his writings I had to learn how to think, and I kid you not. I learnt that the only way I could discover what were the facts of the matter was to persist in thinking in a linear way, as it were. Initially when thinking about a particular topic I would find that my thoughts would flitter all over the place or my mind would go into a blank or I would become aware that I was afraid to go further or that I would become weary or annoyed or angry or whatever. I eventually came to realize that emotional reactions were usually a sign that I had come across a belief that was standing in the way of me pushing on to be able to clearly see that facts of the matter at hand. Sometimes I found that I was maintaining a moral position, sometimes an ethical stance, sometimes a chauvinistic attitude, sometimes just being cynical. I came to reluctantly acknowledge that if ever I aspired to be totally free of malice and sorrow I had to become attentive to each and every aspect of my identity, no matter how ‘bad’ or how ‘good’, no matter how repulsive, no matter how captivating.
This process cannot be done intellectually or by sitting in the corner with your eyes closed, this process can only be done moment to moment in daily life in order that one is fully cognizant with all of the hows and whys of the programming that makes up one’s social and instinctual identity.
RESPONDENT: I have been reading some of Richard’s main articles this morning ... reading and rereading quite slowly. And as I was reading to reflect, contemplate ... but mostly to practically digest and apply, as best as I could, what was being said. I felt I was in the midst of quite a struggle ... and an image came to mind of hiking up a cinder cone laden with pumice: It took all of my energy, balance and focus to keep on track, upright ... trudging upward ... alternately gaining and losing ground. A real struggle ... no doubt about it.
PETER: I can relate to what you are saying. There is a definite physical aspect to the difficulties involved in being brought up to only think one thing and then to have to abandon that thinking, and that way of thinking, in order to be able to think something different in a completely new way. This physical difficulty has been documented by researchers and is been termed cognitive dissonance.
Whilst I relate to your struggles, my experience is that at some seminal stage I came to realize that it was ‘me’ who was causing the strife and maintaining the struggle by insisting on holding on to ‘my’ viewpoints, ‘my’ beliefs, ‘my’ morals, ‘my’ ethics, and so on. When I discovered this, I found it easier to abandon whole lumps of what were previously very precious and dear parts of my identity because I came to understand that holding on to them not only made me unhappy, but caused harm to others around me.
RESPONDENT: So it is the thought element of the emotion that is special and it is what allows us to have enormously varied ways of expressing our instincts.
PETER: In my early days of actualism, whenever I asked myself ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ I most often came up with a thought response, in other words I often thought that I was thinking something that I shouldn’t be thinking and all I needed to do was change my thinking and that would be that. I soon discovered that right thinking and wrong thinking was nothing but the morals and ethics and beliefs ‘I’ had taken on board as part and parcel of my social identity and that what I was calling a wrong thought or a bad thought was really a feeling.
As an example – sometimes I would come up with an answer that ‘I was just thinking about something that happened a while ago’. A little further probing and I would come up with an answer that ‘I was concerned about something that happened a while ago – did I do the right thing’. A little more probing and I discovered I was anxious about the repercussions, and a little further I discovered that I was feeling fearful of the consequences.
What started off as me thinking I was merely thinking, eventually revealed that I was really having a feeling at the time, and a strong one at that. I only say this because it is common that people have a good deal of difficulty in distinguishing between thoughts and feelings, and none more so than the male of the species.
RESPONDENT: I began learning the applicable thought patterns at birth (and probably even before birth). The question is, when do I stop linking learned thought patterns to instinctual drives and if I can link them, can I unlink them, or replace them with new ones? The answer appears to be yes. During the last year I’ve watched my emotions. I’ve felt fear, sadness and resignation and anger and found under it very often the drive to belong – to feel safe in a secure relationship to others. When I ponder this emotion I find that (given my personal situation) I am actually safe and secure in this physical world and will continue to be so regardless of which particular person I associate with. This produces an internal smile, a quiet sensation of happiness. This has allowed me to quickly drop the suffering of rejection and not-belonging and the malice I have felt toward others for excluding me. Since I’m less angry, sad, and resigned my relations with others have become more amicable and productive. I’m happier and more harmless.
PETER: Great, hey. When you say ‘during the last year I’ve watched my emotions. I’ve felt fear, sadness and resignation and anger ...’ – these aren’t learnt thought patterns, these are feelings that you have become aware of as they are happening, i.e. you have labelled them and felt them as they were happening. If you set your sights on becoming happy and harmless then, by becoming aware of feelings of sadness and animosity as they arise, you can pull the rug out from under these feelings and get back to being happy and harmless again as soon as possible. As you seem to be reporting, this process of continual awareness and disempowerment does produce tangible results.
RESPONDENT: I’ve had feelings of rejection and being misunderstood from responses and non responses on this list. It’s fuel for the fire that can burn away self-importance and a reminder that malice and competitiveness are there to be burned away too.
PETER: I do acknowledge that writing on this list can sometimes be a challenging business as one gets no support here for one’s dearly-held beliefs, no sustenance for one’s bitter-sweet sadness and no validation of one’s pet animosities.
But then again, would you have it any other way?
PETER: I know you have always had an issue with right and wrong but I am not talking about right and wrong in an ethical sense. It is a practical matter that if someone is doing something that doesn’t work, or following a teaching that doesn’t work in practice, then what he or she is doing must, by definition, be wrong.
RESPONDENT: Exactly. I have no concern for ethics. If you understand me in that framework then get your mind into a different framework. Once you get your mind into a different framework you might begin to see that all your work here on actualism has been in that sphere... the mind... whereas the problem lies in the brain.
PETER: I recently heard John Lithgow on the TV show ‘Third Rock from the Sun’ put it somewhat differently. He plays the character of a visiting alien from another planet sent to observe the human race. He commented that ‘there is no problem with the human brain – it’s just that the mind keeps getting in the way’. This common misconception has led the Eastern religions to embark on sublimating ‘I’ the thinker whilst giving full vent to ‘me’ the feeler to run amuck in an on-going narcissistic orgy of Self-indulgence and Self-centredness.
All of the work I did in actualism was to pay attention to how I was experiencing this moment of being alive. What I discovered was that it was invariably a feeling that was preventing me from being happy now, i.e. I was busy wasting my time feeling sad, lonely, miserable, lacklustre, bored, etc. and I was anything but happy ... and some other ‘place’ but here. Similarly what I discovered was that it was invariably a feeling that was preventing me from being harmless now, i.e. I was busy feeling pissed off, angry, resentful, annoyed, superior, inferior, resentful, etc. and I was anything but harmless ... and some other ‘place’ but here.
Whenever I was sufficiently aware I was able to nip these feelings in the bud and get on with feeling good about being here. Then I raised the stakes to feeling excellent and began looking at the deeper emotions and passions that give substance to one’s very sense of being. And all the while I came to more and more appreciate the wonderful and benign workings of the human brain when freed of the insidious feelings and emotions that are sourced in primitive thoughtless instinctual reactions common to all animate life.
The method of actualism is a radical departure from spiritual awareness because the aim is to come here to the actual world and not go ‘there’ – to retreat ‘inside’ to the false security of an imaginary spirit-ual world that has no actual existence outside of the heads and hearts of human beings. By practicing spiritual methods of awareness one is in fact moving further away from the actual world. When one sees and understands this, it is important to understand that the actual world is the paradise and freedom that one was seeking, lest one ends up back in grim reality of real world despairing.
The ‘problem’ , as you put it, does not ‘lie in the brain’ because there is nothing ‘wrong’ with flesh and blood human beings. It’s just that inside every flesh and blood body is a non-physical psychological and psychic entity. It is ‘he’ or ‘she’ who invariably suffers emotionally and who, despite good intentions, invariably inflicts emotional suffering on others. The problem, as you put it, is this entity in its entirety, both the ‘I’ in the head and ‘me’ in the heart. The problem is not physical per se, but it does have its roots in the program of social conditioning that everyone undergoes from birth and in the genetically inherited crude survival program that results in thoughtless impassioned reactions, mainly those of fear, aggression, nurture and desire.
Richard’s discovery was that neither of these programs are set in concrete as it were – that you can, in fact, change human nature. These programs are software not hardware and as such they can be deleted. And what you discover is that the hardware functions better than ever without the debilitating effects of a software program which has as its centre an illusionary ‘I’ and at its very core a passionate ‘me’. This neurological programming consists of nothing other than socially imbibed millennia-old beliefs, spiritual fantasies, unliveable morals, unworkable ethics, platitudes and psittacisms that have been passed down to us by those who were here before us, layered upon a genetically inherited survival program that cause us to instinctively act like animals, to put it crudely.
The method inherent in actualism is specifically designed to facilitate the incremental deletion of this software programming such that one becomes progressively happier and more harmless in the world as-it-is with people as-they-are.
RESPONDENT: Regardless of your wrong thinking about what I understand by right and wrong, actualism is WRONG. Now read above what it means to be wrong. Just as in the end love is wrong, because it has been proven not to work, in terms of alleviating suffering on earth so is actualism wrong, and will continue to be wrong. No method that relies on an understanding based on psychic entities, such entities as thoughts and feelings and instincts, can be right, in the sense we agree on, that you wrote above, ... ever.
PETER: Goodness knows what it is you imagine we agree on. I can’t remember you ever agreeing with me on anything. Surely it would be totally out of character for an avowed dissenter’s dissenter to agree with anyone? Did I miss something perhaps?
PETER: I know that in your current state you regard all that is physical, palpable, tangible, touchable, seeable, smellable, tasteable and audible as so insignificant as to be illusionary, so writing this to you is as meaningful as trying to sell coloured pencils to a blind man.
As for your own posit – ‘through the utterly chance arrangement of random material substance, a resulting circumstance of the same significance as every other resulting circumstance that appeared’ – this does sound a bit like that dismal materialist-nihilist view that human beings are but randomly produced scum infecting a randomly produced planet in a random event called the universe ... or something like that.
RESPONDENT: This is wrong thinking. There has never been, is not now, nor will there ever be insignificance.
PETER: Pardon me No 22. Of course it has significance to you for you are ‘it’, as in your declared position –
It was definitely wrong thinking on my part. The problem I have is that I don’t believe in Gods, let alone creator Gods, and therefore I find it difficult to think rightly in the solipsistic ‘I am all that exists and all that exists is me’ terms.
PETER: It was definitely wrong thinking on my part.
RESPONDENT: Yes, that it was definitely wrong thinking was established prior to your response. The reason you posit, as your response, for it being wrong thinking is also wrong thinking.
PETER: Just so I get a grip on your categorization of thinking here – does this mean that every thought you have is ‘right thinking’ and every thought everyone else has that doesn’t agree with your ‘right thinking’ is ‘wrong thinking’?
PETER: Methinks you are far more interested in ‘Who’ or ‘What’ created animate life rather than in the question as to why so-called intelligent conscious animate life – the 6 billion or so human beings currently on the planet – are still involved in a grim instinctual and senseless battle for survival.
RESPONDENT: *deep bow*
Respectfully, if in fact ‘methinks’ means that you are in fact the above thought, please be assured that for the term of this study, there is no interest in who or what, as a general question, created animate life.
PETER: *Mind the keyboard*
No, methinks means I think. When I write to you, I am not ‘the thought’, I am this flesh and blood body marvellously able to think and astoundingly able to be aware that I am thinking. To say that I am ‘in fact the above thought’ makes nonsense of these fingers that are typing these very words and the eyes that are reading these words now.
This actual world we humans live in is not a thought creation, nor is it a feeling creation – we only think and feel it is. Actualism is about eliminating the thinker and feeler who by its very spirit-like nature forever feels separate or desperately seeks an imaginary Union with the Whole.
As for ‘for the term of this study, there is no interest in who or what, as a general question, created animate life’ – do I take it that, for the term of this study, you are going to somehow put aside your stated position of being the Creator of life, as in –
If you can manage this, your study may be indeed be useful.
If not, you are absolutely guaranteed to miss the point of what is on offer.
RESPONDENT: There is a specific interest, as is clearly evident by the questions thus far offered, that there is an interest in who or what you, as the understanding you are of the world view called actualism, have determined created animate life.
PETER: I have provided an answer for your database elsewhere, so I won’t bother repeating it here. Besides, now that you know what actualism is really about you will also know that such questions are a digression from the study of actualism. These types of questions have obsessed and tortured the minds of theoretical scientists, philosophers and spiritualists for millennia and done nothing but spawn yet more beliefs, theories and posits ... and yet more God-men espousing that only they know the Truth.
RESPONDENT: Indeed there are the occasional pop up thoughts of fear, but that is not my main problem. Mine is one of ‘trying’, the effort of thought rather than the effort to be aware. This though is an intermittent fault only, with the help of the Question.
PETER: The effort of thought rather than the effort to be aware has got me stumped a bit...
RESPONDENT: What I meant is that I was thinking about whatever presented itself and not giving it complete attention.
PETER: Thinking has had a very bad press in the spiritual world – ‘You are not the mind’, ‘leave your mind at the door’, ‘no-mind’, etc. are all phrases that attest to the spiritual belief that thinking is the problem, while not only letting feelings off scot-free but piously giving full reign to the supposed ‘good’ set. This misinterpretation of the human dilemma is based on the ancient ignorance of the genetically implanted instinctual passions and their subsequent effect on human behaviour. The revered ancients firmly believed that violence, masochism, torture, rape, etc. were the result of being possessed by evil spirits, and you can fully understand this if you have ever felt rage well up from somewhere deep inside you. ‘Something overcame me’, ‘It wasn’t me’ are common expressions used for this experience. For the less spectacular feelings such as sadness, melancholy, irritation and annoyance the ancients pegged thought as the problem – hence the Buddhists’ emphasis on ‘right thought’ and the meditative practices aimed at stopping thought.
Given that it is 1999, our knowledge and understanding, not to mention our physical circumstances, have so dramatically altered that we now can clearly see that these archaic beliefs about the workings of human biology, neurology, genetics and behaviour have no basis in facts. We now know why the spiritual ‘solutions’ didn’t work and why they can never work. The belief in God is an obvious fairy-tale but the belief in Good feelings will be a tough one for many to shake. It appears that good feelings – love, compassion, etc. and the accompanying morality of good and bad, and the ethics of right and wrong, are all that stop humanity from running amok. Indeed, they do a reasonable job – despite the fact that this has been the bloodiest century so far in human history, a substantial number of people have been spared the horrendous experiences of total warfare, me included. It is only from this reasonably comfortable and secure position that we are now able to tackle becoming free of the Human Condition in its entirety.
So, given the failure of God, the failure of ‘transcendence’ and the failure of morals and ethics, we now have discovered a method to eliminate the problem rather than merely seek solutions to the problem. The problem is that our instinctually based emotions contaminate thought and produce in us feelings of malice and sorrow, and, when ‘push comes to shove’, our moral and ethical safeguards rapidly break down to reveal the appalling dread, horror and violence of war and genocide.
Given our autonomous human make-up – flesh and blood body, able to think and reflect – the only resources we have available to ‘clean ourselves up’ is our ability to think and reflect.
Contemplative thought is the tool for the job – to make sense of the Human Condition and to become aware of how it is operating in oneself. As one gets the knack, this contemplative thought gradually becomes less contaminated, less churning, less confused and apperception can then occur. Apperception is when the mind becomes aware of itself as distinct from ‘I’ being aware of ‘my’ thoughts. Apperception is a Pure Consciousness Experience – a bare awareness. It is as though one has 360 degree vision or, as Alan said the other day, as though hearing and the other senses are amplified. The brain, freed of the pariah-like ‘self’, is capable of startling clarity in these times, and much can be gleaned from these experiences.
The trick is to try and remember these ‘gleanings’ so one can take them back into ‘normal’ life, as it were. It can be difficult at the start as one has no emotional memory of a PCE, but I would often write things down, jot notes, look at how I was in ‘normal’, see what action was appropriate to take, see what the issue was, think it through. It’s enormous fun, although sometimes a bit overwhelming in the beginning and I often felt quite split, as though I was two people. Looking back, these experiences often eventuated from setting aside time for contemplation and I would use Richard’s Journal as a catalyst, a kick start, to get the old brain working after all those years of spiritual drifting and day-dreaming. The brain really ‘likes’ to think, just as the legs like to walk or run. Thinking is its job, its function, and a brain freed of feelings and emotions is an amazing thing to behold. I’ve written more on this subject in the Intelligence chapter in my journal, if you are interested.
The other part of our ‘normal’ perception are feelings and the trick here is to aim for the felicitous feelings – care, consideration, patience, well-wishing, etc. while tackling the more pernicious ones that prevents one from being happy and harmless. Again the PCE will give invaluable insight as one checks exactly which feelings operate – and what is actual – when our perception is freed of an emotional ‘self’. When back to ‘normal’ again, you are then able to use whatever feelings are running to your advantage, to achieve your goal – passion became fuel for the fire to become free, stubbornness a refusal to give in, power the ambition to be one of the ‘few’, compassion the possibility to actually do something, rather than just feel sad for those fellow humans who suffer horrendously.
ALAN: And the last 9 months. I have posted little to this mailing list and have spent little time in reflective contemplation. Whether this is because all the discoveries have been made and, as I said to Vineeto, ‘I certainly have had a sense of, there is nothing new to write or report – and maybe that, in itself, is worth reporting’.
PETER: Personally, I find spending little time in reflective contemplation difficult to relate to because it is not my experience. Perhaps your meaning is different to mine so I will define what reflective contemplation means to me.
The ability to reflect is innate in all human beings. In animals, a primitive instinctual memory of past events is evident – a dog nuzzling up for food, a lion returning to a favourite hunting spot, a cat being wary in a place where it was attacked before. Humans have not only this primitive instinctual memory but also a reasonably detailed factual memory which, when combined with thinking, forms intelligence. The action of thinking without the ability to reflect would leave us unable to gain the practical benefit of life-experience – one would be not only immature but one would be unable to learn from one’s life experiences. Given that the aim of actualism is to be here in the world as-it-is with people as-they-are, reflective contemplation is an essential activity for an actualist.
ALAN: I think we mean the same thing by ‘reflective contemplation’. Perhaps I should have said ‘pure contemplation’, viz: –
PETER: Perhaps another way of putting it is that reflective contemplation is part of the work that ‘I’ do in order to investigate and eliminate the ‘human’ beliefs and ideals that actively conspire to prevent pure contemplation from happening.
RESPONDENT: Actually he [Bohm] doesn’t separate thinking and feeling. In his book ‘Thought As A System’ he considers thought to be one aspect of a larger system that not only includes feelings in the body but the all the myriad of connections with the body and world at large. Put aside regular conceptual boundaries placed in the word thought (ie the idea that thought is only internal and ephemeral ‘whispers in the mind’) and consider it to be part of a larger whole.
PETER: What you appear to be suggesting here is that if I ‘put aside regular conceptual boundaries placed in the word thought’ then I could consider it to ‘be part of a lager whole’, which presumably means that it includes the genetically-encoded instinctual passions. Therefore when David Bohm says that ‘the ultimate source of all these problems is in thought itself’, I am to assume he is saying that ‘the ultimate source of all these problems is in the genetically-encoded instinctual passions’? Are you for real?
RESPONDENT: Yes, I am for real. You actualists have a real problem with deviations to your preferred lingusitic patternings. You took the logical step and then got all incredulous.
PETER: What you are saying in support of your long-running case that spiritualism is saying the same thing as actualism is the word ‘thought’ means the same thing as the words’ instinctual passions’ because I should consider them to ‘be part of a larger whole’. To me that is nonsense because words do have meanings and the reason we use words is so that we can accurately communicate meaning to others. As an example, as I sit here at the computer I am typing these words on a keyboard and watching the words appear on the CRT screen – both are part of a larger whole called a computer but each are distinct and different components. You might have noticed that when I used the word ‘keyboard’, the word accurately describes something that anyone familiar with computers would know, i.e. they would not assume that I was talking about a CRT screen or a printer.
Now if I can move this discussion from the intellectual to the experiential – what I am saying is that there is a distinct difference between thought and the deep-seated feelings of malice and sorrow that are the product of the instinctual passions. If, in your experience, you cannot make such a distinction, then you will fail to understand that what actualism is saying is distinctly different to what the Eastern spiritualists have been saying for millennia.
RESPONDENT: I would have said ‘the ultimate source of all these problems is in thought which is both informed by and feeds back into the genetically-encoded instinctual passions’.
PETER: Well, the soldier who experienced the rush of the instinctual passions a half-second before feeling-fed thought kicked in would not agree with you and nor can I because I have experienced the fact that the instinctual passions are the primary reaction and thinking or rational thought only has a chance to feed back later. And not only that but the brain’s circuitry is such that the feedback loop is biased in that the instinctual reactions and subsequent emotional responses are seemingly stronger and quicker circuitry than those that carry the cognitive reaction and subsequent reasoned response.
Whilst you say ‘the ultimate source of all these problems is in thought which is both informed by and feeds back into the genetically-encoded instinctual passions’ actualism says, and LeDoux amongst others confirms, that ‘the ultimate source of all these problems is in genetically-encoded instinctual passions which are not only primary ‘quick and dirty’ reactions but they also feed back into thinking such that reasoned responses, sensibility, sensitivity and clear thinking have little if any chance to operate’.
If you think that you and I are talking about the same thing, I can only suggest getting in touch with your feelings and observe them in operation because that’s how I came to experientially understand the difference between thinking and feeling.
RESPONDENT: You can see that the movement of thought influences the brain, the body and the environment at large (buildings, roads, pollution, cultural influence, government etc) and that feedback returns into our bodies through the senses to make us feel and act in certain ways.
PETER: The ‘larger whole’ – the ‘we all live in one big thought-system’ theory – still lays the blame for the ills of humankind at the feet of thinking and conditioning, not feelings borne of the instinctual passions.
RESPONDENT: Come on, you’re not playing fair. If you wish to critique the ‘we all live in one big thought-system’ theory then you must respect the internal logic, even if you believe the assumptions to be flawed.
PETER: Why must I respect the internal logic – I gave up believing Eastern spiritualism years ago. The internal ‘logic’ of spiritualism is a crock and an utterly ‘self’-centred crock at that. James Randy amongst others offered substantial prize money to anyone who can demonstrate paranormal feats – including the claims that thought can influence matter – and no-one has thus far succeeded.
As someone who has worked in the building industry for years I have yet to hear of anyone who has evidence that ‘the movement of thought influences … buildings’. I have had people tell me that a house should be sited on a certain position on a block of land because of an imaginary ‘energy line’ that runs under the ground and that a particular internal arrangements of the house will bring either good or bad ‘Chi’ if that’s what you mean by thought influencing matter, but I don’t believe in superstition.
RESPONDENT: You’re not playing fair when you conclude that the ‘we all live in one big thought-system’ theory ‘still lays the blame for the ills of humankind at the feet of thinking and conditioning, not feelings borne of the instinctual passions’.
PETER: You keep coming up with these spiritual theories and then, when I don’t agree with them, you accuse me of not playing fair. I take it that a fair game to you is one in which I would sit here saying ‘Yes, No 59 … yes No 59… oh yes No 59’. If this is your idea of a fair game I can only suggest you stop playing it with me and start playing it in front of the mirror – that way you would not only have a captive audience but no doubt an admiring one as well.
RESPONDENT: The theory does not say that. In this theory you can’t separate the feelings borne of instinctual passions from the larger system of thought.
PETER: This theory only appeals to those who are either incapable of, or are not interested, in making a distinction between feeling and thought … whereas I, along with others, can and do make a distinction.
RESPONDENT: The instinctual passions are an important part of the larger whole, being drivers and reactors to other elaborately interconnected parts of the thought system.
PETER: From what I understand of the brain’s operation – both intellectually through reading LeDoux and others and experientially by being attentive as to how this brain and other brains operate – there are no ‘elaborately interconnected parts of the thought system’, it’s all very simple really.
As I said above – ‘the ultimate source … is in genetically-encoded instinctual passions which are not only primary ‘quick and dirty’ reactions but they also feed back into thinking such that reasoned responses, sensibility, sensitivity and clear thinking have little if any chance to operate’.
Once I understood this intellectually I then ditched the ‘‘we all live in one big thought-system’ theory’ and all other spiritual concepts and started to find out for myself the experiential evidence that this is so. In short, I started to get in touch with my own feelings and passions and began to observe them in action – something that men, in particular, have been conditioned not to do. (...)
RESPONDENT: And please note that just because I quote or paraphrase someone does not mean that I endorse all they do and say. David Bohm spent far too much time and energy with the reprehensible J Krishnamurti.
PETER: If I may point out, it was you who made the comment –
When I provided quotes that clearly indicated that Mr. Bohm specifically said that the ultimate source of all the problems that plague humanity is thought itself, you then offer a disclaimer that you are not prepared to endorse all that Mr. Bohm said. That puts an end to the possibility of any sensible discussion, hey?
RESPONDENT: You put pay to discussion with feeble conclusions like that.
PETER: It was your failure to stand by the evidence you are offering in order to prove your point that actualism is nothing other than re-branded spiritualism, i.e. that it is not new, which led me to this conclusion. If you stop providing evidence that you are not prepared to stand by, and start to provide some that you are prepared to stand by, then we can have a sensible discussion.
In other words, it’s high time you stopped bluffing and started to play your trump cards – if you had any, that is.
RESPONDENT: In a previous point I said that Bohm would regard instinctual passions to be a part of the whole system of thought, so if Bohm sheets home the blame to thought you can be sure he includes a very wide section of experience including instinctual passions.
RESPONDENT: For many years meditation was a struggle for me because I couldn’t get out of my mind. I was born into an intellectual family, my father being a university professor. I was very fond of the intelligence I inherited from him. My mind was my most prized possession, opening doors of opportunity for me, giving me power and influence over people of lesser intellect. Thus it was very hard for me to let go of the hold that my intellect had over me. I still cherish all the gifts that God has bestowed on me, but I am no longer ruled by my intellect. Neither am I a starry-eyed bliss ninny. What I am is abundantly happy, endlessly grateful and consciously connected with the Pure Source.
PETER: Indeed. The intellectual person is totally out of touch with their feelings, any common sense, any sensuality and disconnected from world of people, things and events. Similarly, the spiritual person is totally indulgent in their feelings, is totally disconnected to any common sense and any sensuality and is absolutely unattached from the world of people, things and events. It is the identity, the personal ‘I’ inside the head and the impersonal ‘me’ inside the heart that prevents the purity and perfection of the actual world becoming apparent.
To blame one’s woes on thinking, repress one’s savage passions and indulge in one’s tender passions, completely unrestrained by any common sense, is truly a thoughtless exercise, and can only lead to thoughtless affective experiences. It took me months and months of running the question ‘how am I experiencing this moment of being alive’ before I began to see that it was ‘my’ precious feelings that caused my malice and sorrow – and not bad thinking or wrong thinking, as I had been taught.
Feelings are most commonly expressed as emotion-backed thoughts and always has its roots in ‘my’ crude animal survival instincts.
PETER: This new and non-spiritual down to earth path to freedom has only recently been discovered and is now in its initial pioneering phase.
RESPONDENT: The path you describe sounds very similar to what Krishnamurti espoused beginning in the early part of the 20th Century, and thus hardly qualifies as ‘new.’
PETER: I take it when you say ‘sounds very similar’, you mean feels very similar. If you had read what I am saying you would have understood that I am an atheist through and through whereas Jiddu Krishnamurti was a God-man through and through.
To quote the man himself –
He is describing well your desired state of ‘pure, thoughtless awareness’. I find it a blatant deceit for the great and revered teachers to claim they are thoughtless, for it is clearly nonsense. A human being has to think to operate and function at a level of intelligence beyond a dog or a chimpanzee. What they are talking about as thoughtless is, in fact, the training of right thinking – thinking in a certain trained spiritual way so that one can eventually ‘realize’ – as in think and feel – oneself to be God.
RESPONDENT: I too am fascinated by the discoveries in the field of neurobiology but fail to see how an understanding of the origin and functioning of the reptilian brain gives us any advantage in controlling it.
PETER: Human beings have been forever trying to control their instinctual passions and it has clearly failed, for law and order in the world is still only maintained at the point of a gun. Further the Eastern religious practice of Divine Transcendence, whereupon one suppresses one’s bad feelings and savage passions and identifies solely with one’s good feelings and tender passions, does nothing but spawn human beings who believe themselves to be Gods and thus reek even more malice and sorrow on a blighted Humanity. I am talking about a new method that results in the elimination of the blind instinctual passions – not the failed methods of controlling or transcending. I am talking about a third alternative.
RESPONDENT: The Brain is a computer; it processes information and relays it to the proper centres. The information is brought in thru attraction by attention of the mind.
PETER: What about the sensate input from the eyes, ears, mouth, nose and skin? Or is this purely illusionary for you? Are you so self-obsessed that you run on a closed mind-loop of only ‘I’ exist and everything else and everyone else is ‘Me’? Are you still being the sole creator of your own existence again? To remind you of a previous correspondence that you failed to reply to –
If you insist on creating your own reality, I guess it doesn’t matter a fig how your mind operates or what you think and feel because it has nothing to do with anyone else who exists in your reality. No wonder you desperately need to feel ‘We are all one’ and need to connect with others because it must be very, very lonely living in a reality of your own making and of which you are the ultimate authority.
RESPONDENT: The ‘hardware’ that attracts the mindal energy is intelligence, the software that governs how that energy/info is used is intellect.
PETER: The hardware is a two brain system – an ancient instinctual brain that is primary and thoughtless emotional and a newer neo-cortex that is the seat of human intelligence. The software consists of two facets – a social programming that forms one’s social identity and an instinctual survival program that forms one’s instinctual self. Being software, both these programs can be deleted – i.e. although they are felt to be real, cause immense pain and suffering both in oneself and to others one comes in contact with, they can be changed and ultimately deleted.
This deletion of the instilled social and genetically-encoded instinctual programming results in a beneficent clarity of intelligence freed from the insidious influence of the animal passions of fear, aggression, nurture and desire.
RESPONDENT: Of course the more refined the intelligence, the more refined the information being processed.
PETER: The more conditioned the programming, and the more passionate one is about this conditioning, the less intelligence is free to operate.
RESPONDENT: The real discovery here is that the ‘seat of intelligence’ and also the governing software, are located in the same place ... the Heart.
PETER: There was an enormous outcry by the church when heart transplants were first proposed. The reason the ancients believed the heart was the centre is that the ancient reptilian brain – the seat of the instinctual passions – pumps chemicals to the heart as a response to fear, aggression, nurture and desire, thus these responses are sensately experienced in the heart region.
RESPONDENT: One of the problems people experience is mistaking the Heart for the centre of emotions. That centre is in the pit of the abdomen. When the emotions are allowed out of their ‘pit’, they are brought up into Heart for purification, and ‘intelligently’ dispensed with.
PETER: The more savage emotions of fear, dread and despair are sensately experienced as chemical flows in the gut or abdomen whereas the tender emotions of nurture and desire tend to be sensately experienced as chemical flows in the heart region. The source of these emotions has been empirically demonstrated to be the ancient reptilian brain and we that humans share these instinctual passions – both the tender and the savage – with other sentient animals. These genetically-encoded instinctual passions are blind nature’s rather clumsy software package designed to ensure the survival of the species – to endow each and every human with fear, aggression, nurture and desire. Being only software, this programming can be consciously and deliberately deleted if one is daring enough.
RESPONDENT: The mind is just a big sea of information, nothing to be ‘glorified’, as has been done on this planet.
PETER: And yet it is the process of thinking that has brought the amazing technological advances in safety, comfort, leisure and pleasure that an increasing number of we modern human beings are beginning to enjoy. And yet the church, the priests and their faithful followers would have us condemn and demean intelligence in favour of believing some mythical God or Higher intelligence is going to actualize peace on earth – an end to the grim instinctual psychological and psychic battle for survival still fought between all human beings on the planet.
It’s time to get real and stop mouthing ‘self’-gratifying psittacisms from the past.
RESPONDENT: The brain can only ‘process’ the feeling/emotion, that’s where one finds themselves ‘looping’ on some issue and staying awake all night.
PETER: So why blame the brain for this self-centred neurosis – why not turn one’s attention on the real issue that is inhibiting peacefulness – one’s precious feelings and emotions – both the savage and the tender? Why not look somewhere different than the traditional, fashionable hackneyed solution that has failed again and again?
RESPONDENT: If that information is taken out of the realm of the mental/mind and embraced/accepted by the Heart, the ‘looping’ ceases.
PETER: Indeed, one can dissociate from these churning emotions by going inside and imagining oneself to be above it all to connect with the Light, to feel God, to become an Impersonal Higher Self, or whatever other feeling state one gets into. One gets out of grim reality and escapes into a Greater Reality, by whatever name or whatever God, but it is all a fantasy, an illusion based on an illusion. The pioneering challenge is now for those willing to abandon both reality and Reality in search of the ‘self’-less experience of actuality.
RESPONDENT: The ‘intelligent’ manner to handle ‘the problem’ is then sent into the mental, if a physical action is needed ... or an ‘understanding’ appears in processing centres that puts the mental to ‘bed’. The ‘ah hah’ thing.
PETER: The ‘‘ah hah’ thing’ is the enormous relief that one doesn’t have to do anything except realize that the world of people, things and events is all an illusion and ‘who’ you really are is a spirit in transit – a grandiose ‘me’ of Godly power and immortality.
RESPONDENT: There is a ‘sister’ of mine from India, who has been known as Hazur. She said something I really appreciated, ‘A quiet mind is a Divine Mind’. That’s kind of opposite of what is taught, isn’t it?
PETER: Not nowadays. This advice is taught in the popular press and is fashionable in both East and West. The extreme form of mind quieting is those people who spend hours a day, sitting in a quite corner with their eyes closed, hiding from the world seeking Divine Realization.
The churning of the mind that everyone experiences is ‘self’-centred neurotic thoughts and worries that are underpinned by the feelings and emotions arising from the passions integral to the instinctual animal ‘self’. To trip off into a fantasy of a real Self with a ‘Divine Mind’ is a self-indulgent ancient fantasy that is to head 180 degrees in the opposite direction to actually eradicating the problem.
RESPONDENT: I am always counselling my clients to stop thinking, so they can Know. I get a lot of funny looks ...
PETER: But I bet when they get a taste of thoughtless dissociation from the world of people, things and events they find it addictive. It is such a cheap way out for one has to do nothing, there is no work to be done, there is no tough stuff to do, no changes to be made – just an acceptance of things the way they are, i.e. that humans will always be malicious and sorrowful and that the solution is to feel oneself to be Divine and above it all. It’s called copping out and I did it for years before integrity forced me to stop kidding myself, and others, that I was being genuine and honest. I finally realized that if I was fooling myself, I was being really, really silly.
RESPONDENT: I think we must inquire as to what spiritual means with regard to emotional. To me, spirituality means to be free from all knowledge, from one’s entire content of memory.
PETER: And yet what is called by jargon spirituality includes not only its previous traditional meaning of Eastern religion but has now grown to embrace the mysticism in Western religion – a vast reservoir of psychic knowledge, atavistic memory and altered state experiences. What you are saying is that one denies modern scientific knowledge, one’s common sense and previous life experiences in order to tap into this ancient knowledge. Not knowing and no memory are but platitudes of the East’s so-called wise men.
RESPONDENT: That means you do not get emotional with regard to all forms of thought, because thought comes from memory and knowledge.
PETER: Then how come one is advised to practice right thinking – in order to have right memory and right knowledge? In order to train or control one’s emotions so as to only have the right emotions? Surely if this system worked we could expect the practitioners to be perfect and pure, that they would not get angry, sad, annoyed, cynical, arrogant, be deceitful, power hungry, etc.?
By the way, thinking is what the brain does and all thought does not come from memory and knowledge. The ability to think, reflect and plan is what sets us apart from all other instinctual-driven animals. Thought, when freed of the shackles of ancient beliefs and the influence instinctual passions, is a marvellous thing.
RESPONDENT: However, that does not mean the spiritual person does not show compassion.
PETER: So spiritual people do get emotional, as in showing compassion, which means sharing one’s sorrow or feeling pity for others? The spiritual teachings make no bones about sorrow – sorrow is deemed essential and inevitable in earthly human experience in the ancient teachings, and feeling and sharing sorrow is an indispensable part of all religion. The deeper the sorrow, the more the need for God. The blacker the Darkness, the stronger the Light. This is why religions have always condemned scientific progress, safety, comfort, pleasure and leisure – anything that reduces human suffering is anathema to religion.
You may also have noticed that all religion is founded on fear. Fear and damnation is writ large in the teachings, constantly evoked in the sermons and mutually reinforced amongst the followers. The stronger the fear, the more the need for God. The more hellish the damnation, the more desperate the need for salvation.
And there is no greater fear than the fear of death.
RESPONDENT: The spiritual person expresses love and compassion to its fullest. I would even say that being emotional has little to do with spirituality and love.
PETER: Are you now claiming that love and compassion are not emotions? Are they not strong feelings felt in the chest area or in the gut? Are not the euphoric feelings of Love of God and the gut wrenching sorrow for the Human Condition deep-seated emotions?
RESPONDENT: Yet, that does not mean the spiritual person is not in touch with his or her emotions. Quite the contrary. The spiritual person knows where the emotions belong and does his or her best to keep emotions where they belong.
PETER: You also said – ‘[Spirituality] means you do not get emotional with regard to all forms of thought’. So what you are saying is the spiritual person carefully chooses, as in thinks, which emotions to be in touch with and which not to be in touch with. Keeping undesirable emotions, or wrong thoughts to use the Buddhist jargon, where they belong means to repress them, which as we know from the lives of the Enlightened Ones, is certainly not to eliminate them. This is why perfection and purity is never actualized in the spiritual/religious world, despite all the well-meaning efforts of billions of devotees over the millennia.
RESPONDENT: Emotions do inspire whether in music, dance or many of the arts. I even get emotional over a beautiful sunset or watching children playing in the park.
PETER: Do you get sad listening to music, watching a sunset, do you get upset when watching children fight? Do you also get emotional when you watch the news on TV, when someone says something unkind to you, when you are driving, when you do not get what you want, when you do not get your way? Simple observations of this type will reveal that emotions arising from the instinctual passions conspire to prevent one from ever being unconditionally happy and unreservedly harmless.
RESPONDENT: But when thought comes into play I set aside my emotions.
PETER: This is called right thinking, or very selective attentiveness, whereby one can keep the undesirable emotions where they belong and only feel the desirable emotions. This right thinking is always difficult in the cut and thrust of the market place, which is why serious spiritual practitioners always retreated from the world of people, things and events.
PETER: Just a comment on your post to No 12 entitled ‘achieving enlightenment’.
RESPONDENT: Some 27 years ago I had that enlightening experience, the light, the tunnel the warmth of the glow and that everlasting sense of peacefulness. We look for the words, but the words only take us away from that which is.
You ask, ‘can we bring the experience to earth?’ I believe I have found a way over these last 25 years or so to bring the experience to the playing field of everyday life. What I have found is that the ego is more of an illusion. You must ask what is the background of thought? The average individual thinks approximately 70,000 thoughts a day. Each thought is one complete cycle. Yet each thought cycle is connected to then next.
PETER: Unfettered awareness and attentiveness will reveal that one’s thinking is continually affected by one’s animal instinctual passions and this is what creates feelings – a feeling is an emotional-backed thought. When something is said or observed one always has a feeling reaction, which could be a moral or ethical judgement as in good, bad, right or wrong, or it could be an automatic reaction arising from the instinctual passions resulting in feelings of fear, aggression, nurture or desire. Thus one’s thinking is never a complete cycle but rather a continual staccato that appears to be a continual thought neurosis but, if accurately observed, is found to be a continual turbulence of feelings and emotions.
Thinking firstly needs to be freed of superstition and impassioned feelings for intelligence to begin to operate, such that thinking can complete its straightforward simple process of awareness, investigation, evaluation, decision and implementation. (...)
RESPONDENT: Thought is the response of memory. When you are asked your name, you respond. When you are asked what you ate for dinner last Sunday you respond more slowly. A searching of memory takes place, similar to finding the correct path to open a file in your computer.
PETER: I watched a TV program documenting the amazing progress that has been made in the last century towards eradicating viral infection and epidemics. In 1918 an influenza epidemic killed 20 million people – more than died in WW I. By the last quarter of the century, defences and cures had been found for most deadly flu strains, polio, measles and chicken pox and smallpox had been eradicated. Millions upon millions of lives have been saved and suffering eliminated by human endeavour and intelligence. Jonas Salk, the pioneer of the polio vaccine, was interviewed and he said that it took until the1950’s before the combination of knowledge, experience and technique was such that real progress and innovation was possible in the fight against the plagues that had traditionally swept through human populations. I liked his definition of the thinking process – a combination of knowledge, experience and technique.
To belittle thought as a response to memory only, is but to parrot one the Eastern Church’s repressive favourite strictures designed solely to keep the priests and Gurus in power and control, and to keep the peasants in awe and gratitude and from thinking for themselves. To wallow in thoughtlessness is a self-indulgent wank.
PETER: You wrote to No 30 on the subject of clarity and perception –
RESPONDENT: Your follow-up question regarding the change in how we perceive ‘the world’ when our mood changes is an interesting one. I think there is a direct correlation between our level of consciousness and how we ‘see’, even in a physical sense. I too have noticed the dramatic lightening-up effect when the fearful or angry thoughts pass.
PETER: Fearful or angry thoughts are feelings, not thoughts. Fear is a feeling, as is anger. Feelings are most commonly expressed as emotion-backed thoughts. A feeling is sensately experienced in the body, either in the heart area or the gut, due to the flow of chemicals from the instinctual brain.
Spiritual belief is that bad thoughts and wrong thinking are the cause of our malice and sorrow and completely ignore the fact that it is the feelings that arise from the instinctual passions that are the real problem.
RESPONDENT: I am starting to experience these episodes as energy fields passing through consciousness and resisting the urge to identify them as ‘my’ problems or fears. This gives them a relatively short life-span. I notice that when I am experiencing these heavy energy fields they seem very real and I can’t imagine that I will ever feel happy again, and yet when they pass I do indeed experience happiness, love and joy once again.
PETER: What you label ‘energy fields’ are in fact your very own feelings and emotions. It is common in the real world to blame others for one’s own fear and anger and it is common in the spiritual world to blame others in general – the unconscious, evil or normal people – while disowning these same feelings in oneself.
This is what is called dis-identifying with one’s feelings. This is the quintessential religious/spiritual practice whereby one dis-identifies from the bad feelings that arise from the savage instinctual passions – it is not ‘my’ anger or ‘my’ fear – and identifies with the good feelings that arise from tender instinctual passions – the real ‘me’ who is all-loving and all-encompassing.
RESPONDENT: You may be interested in the following scientific thing:
I saw today on NBC Today a short interview with Dr. Daniel Amen who wrote a book ‘Change your brain change your life’. Dr. Amen showed how activity of human brain is correlated with different mental states. He actually refers to the brain as hardware vs. personality as software. Both affecting each other (he claims you can reprogram, rewire your brain by restructuring your thoughts). He showed different blood flow (related to the brain activity) patterns observed by a NMR scan, I think, in a brain as related to depression, hyperactivity, obsession, etc. More is supposedly available on http://www.today.msnbc.com (if I recall the address correctly). He, for example, praised positive thinking. Would be interesting to see influence of a prolonged meditation or your ‘mantra’-investigation system on these blood flow patterns as brain is being ‘rewired’, wouldn’t it?
In a scientific mood today.
PETER: Yes indeed, we are starting to begin to understand a bit about the brain’s hardware. I always find it interesting that, in terms of mapping feelings, emotions and instinctual reactions, they can only watch and map the situation ‘as is’. The next major challenge facing the human species is to eliminate the animal instincts of fear, aggression, nurture and desire that are located in the reptilian or ‘lizard’ brain located at the top of the nerve system of the spinal chord .
It could well be that in the future it may be possible to cause this elimination genetically, but that is a mere speculation.
In the meantime, there is a tried and tested way of doing it yourself. It is possible by your own effort, guided by your own native intelligence when freed of the psittacisms of the past, to cause the elimination of these instincts in yourself.
To cause their elimination to such an extent that the final demise is inevitable. To finally become human, freer than a bird on the wing, pure and innocent, perfect and delightful.
As for positive thinking, the problem for me always was the effort needed. The need to be on vigilant guard or in ‘positive mode’ was a constant effort on ‘my’ part. I found it an exhausting thing to maintain and I saw that I often used it to cover up something I didn’t want to look at, dig in to and investigate.
Some aspect of the Human Condition, that was in me, that was causing me to be unhappy (sorrow) or causing me to make others around me unhappy (malice).
The very commitment to become happy and harmless meant that I was compelled to eliminate all the feelings associated with malice and sorrow.
At the core of who you ‘feel’ yourself to be is your very instinctual ‘self’ – the core instincts of fear, aggression, nurture and desire – the very animal survival instincts that still entrap the human species in animal behaviour.
It is now possible to evoke that change in yourself, should you so desire.
I do like the human brain and the marvels it has wrought. It’s time to do something about the lizard brain.
PETER: Eastern philosophy and religion deny and negate the innate intelligence and common sense operation of thought while giving full and unbridled reign to the affective and imaginary faculties. ‘Get out of your head and into your heart’ can be translated into ‘give up common sense and you can imagine and ‘feel’ anything you want to’. Feelings of Love, Oneness, God, etc. abound – varying only by the particular belief system one is influenced by at the time.
Hence Christians ‘see’ and feel Christ, Buddhist ‘see’ and feel Buddha, scientists ‘see’ parallel universes, etc. etc.
PETER: And feelings and emotions form part of the ‘self’ – they are who we feel we are and as such ‘form a world of their own’ – very real and very substantial in that we kill and die for our passionate heart-felt feelings – and yet to date they have got off scot-free. It is significant to realise that feelings are most commonly expressed as emotion-backed thoughts – a fact easily observed in one’s ‘self’ is given sufficient awareness.
PETER: ‘Not knowing’ is highly venerated in the East – where ignorance is bliss, thinking for oneself and questioning of one’s faith is actively discouraged – for the very reason that facts and common sense are anathema to beliefs and impassioned imagination.
Thus it is that people are encouraged to ignore what the ‘mind-fuckers’ are saying – ‘you are in your head and not your heart’ is a common spiritual put-down. One is encouraged to go by one’s own ‘experience’ by which they mean go by one’s own feelings for the spiritual world is but a world of feeling and imagination.
PUBLISHER No 1: I have tried intellectualizing and I enjoy that, which is why I return your emails – I think you must like intellectualizing as well. I have no problems with using the mind or whatever you wish to label it.
PETER: Do you have a purpose to your intellectualizing, as in using your thinking ability to find out, explore and investigate something which you do not know about? I always find it interesting that people will read, ask questions and investigate by whatever means to find out about computers, work, gardening, etc., but not about the Human Condition we find ourselves ensnared in. For this they accept, and follow devoutly, the Wisdom of the Ancient Ones as though their myopic world view and their fear-ridden perspective on human existence and meaning is somehow sacred and profound. Most curious.
Peter’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.