Selected Correspondence Vineeto
RESPONDENT: Vineeto, a quick question: You said:
What is ‘affective’? Is feeling a ‘thought’ (emotionally backed)? Can you elaborate little further?
VINEETO: Affective according to Oxford Dictionary is ‘Of or pertaining to the affections; emotional’ and Peter explained it further in the library – The three ways a person can experience the world are: cerebral (thoughts); 2: sensate (senses); 3. affective (feelings).
The action of FEEL 2 Physical sensibility other than sight, hearing, taste, or smell; the sense of touch. b (A) physical sensation; a perception due to this. 3 The condition of being emotionally affected or committed; an emotion (of fear, hope, etc.). b In pl. Emotions, susceptibilities, sympathies. 4 Consciousness; an emotional appreciation or sense (of a condition etc.). 5 A belief not based solely on reason; an attitude, a sentiment. 6 Capacity or readiness to feel (esp. sympathy or empathy); sensibility. 7 Knowledge of something through experience of its effects. 8 The quality felt to belong to a thing; the general emotional effect produced (esp. by a work of art) on a spectator or hearer. Oxford Dictionary
As can be seen from the dictionary definition, the word feeling is generally used for two very different meanings – most generally it is used to describe an affective feeling (def. 3-8), which includes both a pleasant and an unpleasant emotion, whilst its less common use (def. 1,2) is to describe a physical sensation, the sense of touch that detects hardness, softness, temperature, wind on the skin, weight, etc.
Given the unique human ability to think and reflect affective feelings are very often expressed as thoughts and when one begins to become aware of the human condition in oneself, one notices that most of one’s thoughts are emotions-backed, i.e. most thoughts have an emotion as their basis instead of common sense or intelligent reasoning. The common wisdom in the East makes no distinction between thoughts and feelings and hence the practice of ‘right’ thinking can be literally translated into ‘right’ feeling – feelings such as feeling aloof, feeling morally superior, feeling pity for others, feeling dissociated from the world, feeling God-intoxicated, feeling Divine Love or feeling Divine. To encourage these feelings to run amok in the name of ‘right’ thinking leads only to full-blown narcissism and delusion. Contrary to popular Eastern-religion-inspired belief, thinking is not the problem, au contraire, when freed of emotion, passion and calenture it can lead to the emergence of a benign intelligence and common sense. Gary has already written about this to you from his experience with Krishnamurtiism.
With increasing awareness one is becoming able to distinguish one’s feelings, label them as feelings – even when they express themselves as thoughts – and examine them. When one becomes aware of the affective component of thoughts one is beginning to free one’s thoughts from their emotional-instinctual limitations and ‘one’s native intelligence can emerge into full view of its own accord. Intelligence will no longer be crippled’. Richard, List B, No. 19h, 19.8.2001
GARY: I have, since I was young, been concerned with personal protection. I used to be unable to sleep unless I had a loaded gun nearby. During my ‘nerve wracking’ periods of facing fear, I seem to be very concerned with keeping myself fully armed. When I am really fearful, I stockpile ammunition and it gives me a feeling of safety and protection, albeit a false sense of safety. I realize that in a shooting war there is no place of safety, that bombs and planes can wipe you out in a second.
In any event, the statement ‘You would not be in such a hypothetical situation to begin with unless violent thoughts of your own, faced or unfaced, had attracted it to you.’ This seems particularly true. I wonder if I have really faced the violence that is at the core of such an exaggerated concern with personal safety and protection. I don’t think getting rid of my guns is the solution, for the problem lies with the beliefs, values, and instinctual passions that provide the fuel for such fear and aggression. I have noticed of late that I am not interested in the guns or ammunition stockpiling. I have more of a sense of safety. Your posted material, while extensive, attracted me because this portion of it leapt out at me. Last night I awoke from a nightmare. I was howling in my sleep because something or somebody was killing me, I am sure. It takes a while to realize its’ just a dream...
VINEETO: Unlike Jane Roberts, who imagined herself to be a conduit for an ancient mythical Jewish wise-guy called Seth, I know that mere thoughts do not attract violence, but one’s actions can certainly attract violence or malice. In the course of becoming happy and harmless, my main concern was that I, for my part, do not inflict suffering on other people through my carelessness or malice. In order to become free of malice I had to examine my behaviour as well as my feelings and to find the roots of how and why I think, feel and act maliciously towards others. The first and most important thing for me was to stop acting on any impulse of violence towards others (and myself) and then, in due course, trace the cause of these impulses.
I found anger and fear inextricably interlinked – there is anger resulting out of fear and then there is fear produced by repressing anger. To be able to investigate and eliminate one’s underlying beliefs, morals and ethics it is vital to experience, examine and understand one’s ‘self’ in action as those different emotions.
Facing fear was and still is an ongoing issue, but it has become a breeze compared to the early months. The more I understood the workings of ‘me’, my ‘self’ in action, the more my intent grew to self-immolate in order to be free from fear, the core survival instinct in every human being. Many of our fears are closely related to the social identity of beliefs, morals and ethics and with investigating and removing this layer most of my social fears have disappeared. Tackling fear sometimes meant sitting out the storm of a fear-attack with stubborn determination before I could explore the triggers and causes, and sometimes, after extensive examination, a simple tasty cup of coffee could redirect my attention from a silly repetition of fearful thoughts. In the end it is the altruistic, unselfish willingness to sacrifice what ‘I’ hold most dear, that wins over the fear born out of psychic and psychological self-preservation and keeps one going on the path to a permanent freedom from fear.
I copied a piece of writing from Richard on ending fear –
GARY: Walking along the street with the cool breezes caressing my face and hair, the bright sunshine streaming down, the veil in my perception opened and I noticed, first, with stunning detail, every minute facet, crevice, and feature in a brick wall. Here I was again in fairy-tale land, seeing the actual. Everything was wonderfully interesting and engaging. I knew and sensed that my hard work had resulted in this handsome reward, and that further there had been the pure intent to have this happen again, though not to make it happen, a crucial distinction. The experience lasted a while, though not as long as the last time.
I particularly related to something Richard wrote in his journal, and could not agree more. He says, and I would like to quote him from pg. 46:
It has taken me a long time to come around to this view, but my experiences of late have all pointed to this one fact: that feelings and emotions obscure and cover over the actual world. When ‘I’ as feeler am not, the actual world rises to sight, and what a glorious sight it is indeed! But it is not something that people want to see because, as the passage indicates, people are amazingly attached to their feelings. It is felt that it is this that makes us feel alive, and that without them, we would be like necktop computers, devoid of ‘humanity’. Feelings are indeed where the Human Condition lives on, unchanged, in all its wretched misery and sorrow.
VINEETO: Yes, it’s 180 degrees in the opposite direction to where we humans have searched for solutions. In the course of my exploration into what my ‘self’ and the Human Condition consist of I was amazed how many times I found ‘180 degrees opposite’ the appropriate expression. Just a few such opposites as an example:
Only by looking again and again in the opposite direction did I find the actual world hidden beneath my preconceived ideas, concepts and beliefs and my ‘self’-centred attachment to being an emotional-instinctual being.
VINEETO: As the actual world is already always here one is bound to stumble upon it by diligently removing the obstacles in front of one’s ‘psychic eyes’ that we have inherited by default – through no fault of ours.
GARY: Yes... ‘stumble upon it’, an apt description of serendipity. Had I not participated on [Mailing List B], I would not have been acquainted with Richard’s experiences, nor those of any of the others of you. At the time, I was wallowing around in the morass of choiceless awareness and was frequently confused and in turmoil. It seemed to be a bottomless pit, and as with Krishnamurti, there is no ‘way’, no method, I was loath to find a way out. But I was looking for a way out in spite of ‘the teachings’.
VINEETO: Yes, serendipity is taking the opportunity that comes along – you have been the only one so far of all the fifty people who Richard corresponded with on that list and maybe 50 more who read what he wrote. We have given away 40 of Peter’s journals and sold 25 of Richard’s journal, written on several mailing lists and I am always stunned by the disinterest and the amount of petty or virulent objections to becoming happy and harmless. It obviously takes the right ingredients to be daring and willing to take up the challenge – watching your exploration into actualism I understand more and more what kind of ingredients one needs.
And yes, Eastern spirituality is a bottomless pit and Krishnamurti’s teaching has the particular twist that you should listen but not interpret, listen but not follow, aspire but never reach. What an insidious legacy, keeping everyone small and ignorant – and this is called Compassion! But then, no belief has common sense in it; otherwise it would not require belief.
RESPONDENT: I think I know what lies behind my problem with the actualist method. Now that I know what it is, I’m even more surprised that others are not experiencing it too.
It is NOT attentiveness per se that causes me to rebel. I am quite capable of observing, exploring and feeling my feelings deeply ... if (and ONLY if) I regard the feelings as both meaningful and valuable in some way. But, in actualism, attentiveness is accompanied by a goal that devalues the feelings, and this automatically introduces a wish to be rid of whatever I happen to be feeling (and a corresponding frustration that it is not happening).
This is not the same thing as repression or denial; I am not ignoring the feelings or shoving them away. But the fact that I regard them as having no intrinsic value or meaning makes all the difference.
When ‘Richard’ started practising his method, he did not have this problem. He was a man on a mission to bring about peace on earth; it was the most meaningful thing he had ever done, and he did it with his whole heart and soul, generating ‘love for all and sundry’, ridding himself of ‘impure thoughts’ (indicating that he was striving for a moral purity as well as a sensate/ reflective/ affect-free purity). He became intensely obsessed by the mission, and his affective energy fed the ‘process’ that eventually snuffed ‘him’.
It is not possible for ‘me’ to do this because (a) I know that the outcome of following this through to its natural destination is enlightenment, not actual freedom – and we’re told that this is 180 degrees opposite to where we want to be; and (b) one does not have any belief in the deepest psychic forces that create momentum on the scale of a sense of ‘divine’ destiny ... unlike Richard who had been ‘chosen’ to fulfil a mission. If ‘Richard’ had been an actualist at the time, what would have happened? It seems to me that he’d have quickly cut off his own energy supply – and, I bet, he would not be where he is today.
VINEETO: No, it doesn’t.
The problem you describe would only occur for someone who wants to jump to a total freedom from feelings without wanting to walk the walk via a virtual freedom from the human condition – i.e. without wanting to do what is obviously necessary in order that ‘I’ can become free of malice and sorrow – to become as happy and as harmless as humanly possible.
A virtual free person is not entirely free of feelings – which is impossible while still being a ‘being’ – but has diminished both malice and sorrow (the bad feelings) and their pacifiers (the good feelings) in order to fully experience the felicitous/ innocuous feelings and enjoy the sensate pleasure of being alive.
The urgency to clean myself up from both the bad and the good feelings arose not only from having activated my naiveté but also from having developed a concern and consideration for my fellow human beings whom I wished to free from the effects of my malice and my sorrow – it had nothing at all to do with having ‘a sense of ‘divine’ destiny’ nor of being ‘‘chosen’ to fulfil a mission’ (and nor did it with Richard if you care to carefully read his Journal).
Incidentally the actualism method does not ‘devalue’ feelings per se but the combination of an on-going attentiveness and pure intent enables you to make a choice between the different feelings that occur. Once you have understood, in your own right, that malice and sorrow create havoc both in yourself and in others and that love and compassion do exactly the same then the choice for the felicitous/ innocuous feelings becomes obvious and easy.
RESPONDENT: Like the other day I was sitting in a restaurant with a co-worker and a rat ran by. She jumped and was visibly distressed. I didn’t actually see the rat so I didn’t respond. I was just wondering if something like that phases you or Peter anymore. If there is no ‘I’ inside, what is your reaction? I’m not going copy it (as if I could) but just wondered if there is no identity anymore how do you react to things like death, violence, vermin etc?
VINEETO: Firstly, there is a great difference between murder, war and terrorism and a rat in a restaurant. The first is the appalling situation of the human condition and the second is simply a nuisance, admittedly an unhygienic nuisance.
Secondly, until (psychic) death does us part, there is still an ‘I’ inside this body.
However, I’m not jumping or screaming when I see a rat and I never have. I find cockroaches far more eeky. But whenever I do have an emotional reaction to a situation, which is far more rare than it used to be before I started actualism, then I notice, label and trace the emotion to find out exactly where it is coming from. It might be social conditioning, as No 38 suggested, or it has its source in the deeper layer of the animal survival instincts. Whatever it is, every such situation is a wonderful opportunity to see my ‘self’ in action and learn more about it in order to free myself from its grip.
RESPONDENT: I don’t know anyone personally like that so I am curious as to what it is like to just have a sensate experience of these things devoid of emotive content or identity.
VINEETO: It might help to be attentive to simple sensate experiences such as taking a hot shower, stretching out on the bed, feeling sunrays warming your skin or wind caressing your face – experiences that usually don’t have an affective connotation to it, so much so that we usually don’t notice them happening at all.
The more you are asking yourself how you are experiencing this moment of being alive, the more you will notice a distinct difference between a sensate experience and an affective experience. In the beginning the affective response both arrogates and dominates sensate experience but with practice the gap will become bigger and the difference will be more noticeable. You might become aware of the sensate input, for instance when you first taste some favourite food, and seconds afterwards you notice the affective response when the identity kicks in and ‘I’ claim the experience as ‘mine’. The difference is remarkable, and you will more and more notice that it does not need an identity to be aware of the sensuous experiencing of this moment of being alive.
RESPONDENT: On a lighter note when you have no identity do you still have predilections for chocolate vs. vanilla? If there is no I how does one ascertain who they are attracted to or what they prefer? Doesn’t that preclude having an identity?
VINEETO: As I said, I still do have an identity, albeit substantially weakened. I also have predilections – sometimes for chocolate, sometimes for vanilla, but every day for the delightful taste of fresh-brewed coffee. My senses delight in a great variety of tastes, and much more so since they are almost unhampered by an emotional identity running the show. To be aware of these eyes seeing and this tongue tasting does not need an identity at all.
RESPONDENT: My sister-in-law (who has a visceral revulsion to religion) stayed up to until 2am yakking about these matters. Her mother has been diagnosed with ALS and will need a lot of care for the remaining year of her life. This of course is a difficult matter to deal with as it brings up all sorts of issues, those of her mother, and those of the other family members. She wondered how to deal with the specific issues and I was at a loss to offer much concrete help. The next day it dawned on me that these sorts of predicaments don’t have ‘answers’, and all we can do is attend to the moment. Humans (including myself) by and large have a need to ‘fix’ pain and suffering as it comes up, and this is an impossible task.
VINEETO: When I ask myself how am I experiencing this moment of being alive and get the answer that I suffer or empathize with someone else’s physical or emotional pain, then the next question for me was why. From whence comes this, seemingly automatic, connectedness with someone in distress that makes me want to fix him or her up in order to ease my own co-suffering. Consequently I searched for the hook in me that ties me to other people’s feelings.
One significant reason for my empathy I found in the deeply ingrained belief that life is essentially suffering – and that the best one can do is alleviate the suffering. Every single religion and spiritual pursuit is built upon the basic premise that ‘life is a bitch and then you die’. I had to find this deep-seated conviction in me and deliberately root it out, discovering that I had indeed a choice to change and become incrementally free from the human condition of malice and sorrow. And if I can become free then anybody has that choice as well – human beings are not inextricably trapped in misery, as they so fervently believe.
RESPONDENT: Hence we ask ‘how am I...’ and things turn out the way they turn out.
VINEETO: How am I experiencing this moment of being alive? is not to be confused with a mantra that bridges bad moments until luck changes – this question is designed to be a piercing tool, an excavator, a well-digger and I apply it to uncover deeper and deeper layers of my unhappiness and my unfriendliness until I reach to the core of my identity. My suffering with the poor and downtrodden, the victims of war and violence, starvation and corruption was a longstanding issue – whenever I saw a contemporary report on television I would either be angry or sad and I had to look closely into my feeling connection with humanity in order to become gradually free from ‘my’ empathy and compassion, ‘my’ righteousness and idealism.
I experienced my psychic connection with people as emotional strings consisting of thousands of single strands – beliefs, values and instinctual passions – which I had to unhook one by one. Sometimes a whole bunch of them were loosened at once, and what a realization, but often it was a matter of tracing one feeling to its core and finding all the little ties and knots that connected me with the feelings and beliefs of other people. Often I was shocked when such a tie broke, particularly when I ‘unhooked’ my affective connection to a person close to me such as a family member or formerly close friends.
To become free from being connected with people is not a matter of cool detachment – as in ‘it doesn’t concern me’. What I discovered as I questioned my spiritual beliefs was that many suppressed feelings came to the surface, and I particularly became aware of the suffering of others as I no longer hid behind my feeling of righteous detachment. I began to understand that another’s feeling, when it resonates in me, is my social-instinctual identity in action. ‘I’ am humanity and humanity is ‘me’ and there is no way of escaping the fact as long as I am an identity. To step out of humanity is to leave ‘me’ behind.
RESPONDENT: Interesting analogy re thousands of strands, that’s really what it’s like. They connect us and constrain us.
VINEETO: Yes and I had to recognize and examine both the ‘strands’ that ‘connect us and constrain us’ or, in other words, both the desirable and the undesirable feelings that bound me to other people. Personally, I found love and loyalty amongst the hardest to let go of.
RESPONDENT: I’ve been down the detachment path too, but found it didn’t cut the mustard at all either. Seemed like the baby with the bath water.
VINEETO: Cute that you should use this analogy for the practice of detachment, as Richard has often been accused of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The reason is that in actualism one not only investigates one’s ego (the little man/woman in the head) but also one’s soul (the little fellow in the heart) and almost no one is willing or even interested to question one’s passionate identity, one’s soul. On our website we used an adapted illustration from P. Livingston to demonstrate this radical procedure.
RESPONDENT: I like this approach better. I’ve become convinced lately that this approach is the only way that makes sense. I’ve been applying effort in that regard and think that there are some tangible results. It’s to the point where I know I have to apply myself even more seriously, or get off the pot. Part of my psyche is excessive worry. This of course is focused on future events, with their unknown outcomes. Intellectually I’ve known it’s a total waste of time, but it recurs. I’ve found that when asking ‘How am I…’, time sort of disappears (??), or shrinks. It’s hard to describe exactly, but the future definitely isn’t even a consideration. Interesting.
VINEETO: Yes, intellectual reasoning by itself does not eliminate emotional worries, they will always bleed through or pop up like a balloon that you try keeping under water. I had to find the ‘worrier’, the part of my identity that was afraid of being alive, and question why I kept feeding and pampering her, so as to be able to put a dent into my automatic worrying.
You can use the question of ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ to bring your attention to this moment. However, if the worry is continuously taking your attention away from this moment then you can also pay close attention to identify the part of your identity that is doing the worrying. ‘Self’-immolation is all about luring the identity out of hiding and convincing him/her to exit the stage for the benefit of this body, that body and every body.
RESPONDENT: On to a couple questions at hand that I’ve been looking into.
One of the fears I’ve had to confront is that of losing my lifetime ‘love’ of music. Confronting that fear has shown me how foolish it is to hold something like that so dear to my heart which could be lost with physical disability. I read some of Richard’s comments scattered through the website about music – mostly which seemed to suggest that enjoyment of music is affective – a passion.
Then I began to question just what I thought ‘music’ is... There is music designed to pull at the heartstrings – music to rally soldiers to war – music which is intended as sorrowful – music intended to be happy music that is educational and fun – and music which doesn’t seem to have any purpose at all. Not that I can catalogue all the different types, but I soon realized that the word ‘music’ doesn’t really have anything in particular that it describes – rather a loose association of actualities. Now, it seems to me that most any actuality can be ‘experienced’ on 2 levels – what Richard calls ‘sensate,’ then also the ‘mental/emotional.’ So, remembering that the idea behind moving toward virtual or actual freedom is minimizing emotional highs and lows, what would music be like on a purely sensate level? I remember Richard remarking that he is not interested in ‘beautiful music’ or even artistic ‘beauty.’ Does that then eliminate any interest in ‘music’ or ‘art’ all together? It would seem to me that just as there is a level on which we can delight in what is ‘pleasing to the eye’ without involving beauty – that we can also delight in what is ‘pleasing to the ear’ – as in various musical forms – without involving the beautiful and the sorrowful. What can any of you say about this?
VINEETO: I found human-made music to be almost always affective. Given that human beings are emotional beings, they play music to express themselves and their feelings – be it rebellion, anger, love, sexuality, bliss, fear, sorrow, worry, beauty, awe or hope. As such, hearing and playing music can be an excellent tool to study and investigate whatever emotions are being triggered in you. As you become more and more aware of your emotional-instinctual reactions and free yourself from the affective impact music usually has, you will experience an increasing clarity, intensity and delight in your sensual perception.
RESPONDENT: Now – on to ‘relationships’. I think I can ask this one pretty simply.
If one is slowly whittling away at love, compassion, nurture, desire – then is there still room for rearing children and ‘sticking with’ your marriage partner come what may? Is the actuality of benevolence enough to keep people together as long as it’s a sensible thing to do? Or is there still some cultural factor that makes it ‘sensible’ to ‘care’ for spouse and child? In other words, where does the ‘continuity’ required to care for a child come from in actual (or virtual) freedom (where ‘continuity’ doesn’t exist)?
It’s easy to think that caring for your child is only based on the nurturing instinct. Does the ability to raise a child necessarily disappear along with the nurturing instinct – or is the benevolence of virtual or actual freedom enough to maintain ‘parenthood’? Does the fact of raising a child necessarily indicate the continuing presence of ‘nurture’?
VINEETO: It is a common fear that if one abolished one’s spiritual beliefs, morals and ethics one would become a dangerous sociopath and if one removed all of one’s emotions – good and bad – one would become a careless zombie. However, when you apply the method of actualism with the sincere intent to become free from malice and sorrow, then you successively remove what prevents you from being what you are – a flesh and blood body. And just as there is neither malice nor sorrow in a tree, in an ocean and in the air we breathe, there is also no malice and sorrow in a flesh and blood body when social-instinctual identity is deleted.
I have never raised any children but I can confirm that, in the process of practicing actualism, care and consideration for other people, together with a general benevolence and common sense have incrementally emerged as my ‘self’-centredness, egoism and the affective-neurotic relationships that I used to have with people, animals or things have diminished. It is far easier to make sensible decisions when you are not run by social conditioning and driven by instinctual passions.
RESPONDENT: Also, the question arises as how to respond to others exhibiting extreme emotions. My 3 year old son instinctually cries out for me to hold him tight or rock him and give him his blankee when he’s hurting and insecure. Which is more appropriate – giving him the comfort he so desperately wants/needs – or dismiss his request for empathy as unhealthy for him – or finding some way to comfort him without allowing him to indulge himself? I suppose another way of asking this is that I find myself ‘feeling empathy’ and then feeling the horror of not being ‘empathetic’ toward my child (the opposite) – Is there is a happy and harmless medium there somewhere – which I’m still trying to find?
VINEETO: The intent of an actualist is to become free from malice and sorrow because the only person you can help and change is you. Apart from finding out how ‘you’ tick there are no rules in actualism as to how to behave or not to behave – every situation is yet another opportunity for you to discover how you are socially and instinctually programmed. The more I discovered about ‘me’, the more I was able to make sensible choices based on facts instead of beliefs and feelings. The more I investigated and became free from my own good and bad feelings and emotions, the less effect other people’s emotions had on me. Now I am able to respond with care and common sense to whatever situation arises.
When you practice actualism it is also important to remember that this is not about stopping feeling, for that is impossible while still being a ‘self’. I’ll include a quote from Richard’s correspondence where he explains the method short and concise –
RESPONDENT: Lastly, I’d like to learn more about what is meant by ‘not suppressing or expressing’ strong emotions. Normally, the example given is anger. We commonly make a division between the feeling of anger and taking it out on someone – so that seems an obvious example. But what about emotions like empathy or compassion or feeling beauty? Take playing the guitar for example. The feeling of beautiful music while playing is the very same as it’s expression. I don’t feel the beauty without actually playing the musical instrument. So it’s difficult to divorce feeling and expression in a context like that – so that it seems like not expressing in that context is none other than repression – which would mean NOT to allow oneself to pickup the guitar or be ‘tempted’ by beauty. Or do you mean by ‘expressing emotion’ – ‘to take it out on somebody or something’? Also, with empathy – are we to hold ourselves back from expressing empathy because we don’t yet know the dividing line between ‘feeling empathy’ and ‘being benevolent’? That to me, seems to verge on repression. I suppose I’d like to see a little more carefully detailed explanation of what exactly is meant by ‘not suppressing or expressing’ emotion – since it seems to me that some emotions only arise when expressed – or are in danger of being repressed if not expressed in some way.
I look forward to hearing of your explorations and how they might help along the way. Happiness and Harmlessness to all
VINEETO: Personally, I found that by continuously running the question of ‘how am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ with sincere intent I was unable to repress any emotion for long – by focussing my awareness on what went on inside my head and heart, all my beliefs and feelings came to the surface, one after the other. However, I first had to inquire into my spiritual, moral and ethical values that had taught me to consider some emotions as ‘good’ and worth expressing and some emotions as ‘bad’ and requiring repression. Only by examining and becoming free of the social-spiritual straightjacket of automatically classifying feelings as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, ‘good’ and ‘bad’ was I able to clearly experience and scientifically investigate each emotion as it arose.
As I had set my aim to become free from malice and sorrow, the first obvious thing to do was to stop expressing my malice and to stop imposing my sorrow on others. As for expressing the ‘good’ emotions like love, compassion, empathy, hope and trust – in a sincere inquiry you will soon find out that when expressing ‘good’ emotions one is as much driven by one’s instinctual passions as when expressing ‘bad’ emotions.
We have been taught that the alternative to expressing emotions is to repress them – however, there is now a third alternative. Whenever an emotion occurred, I usually stopped in my tracks, took notice, labelled the emotion, found out when the emotion started, what triggered it and whether any beliefs, moral and ethical values were the cause of triggering the feeling. In the first year of actualism I spent a lot of time on the couch thinking and contemplating about one or another belief or emotion, I talked with Peter about the issue, wrote about my discoveries and attempted to more and more understand the human condition in action. Often I found ‘good’ emotions like desire, hope, trust, attachment, loyalty, compassion and love also triggered off the ‘bad’ emotions and this discovery of the inter-connectedness and interdependence of good and bad then spurred me on to continue questioning the ‘good’ and ‘right’ values I had unquestioningly swallowed.
As for the ‘the dividing line between ‘feeling empathy’ and ‘being benevolent’’ – empathy makes you suffer with the other person, which can clearly be experienced as an emotion. You then either wallow with the other in their suffering or you have an emotional investment in attempting to alleviate the other’s emotional suffering in order to relieve your own co-suffering, i.e. com-passion. Then you subsequently become eager to impose your solution to their problem.
The benevolence that an actualist experiences it not a feeling at all but happens on its own accord when one’s ‘self’-centredness ceases to dominate one’s every thought and feeling. Benevolence arises out of the experience and understanding that we are all fellow human beings doing this business of being alive on this perfect lush and verdant planet earth.
RESPONDENT: I understand the part about neither expressing or repressing the emotions. As I stated above I’m trying to actually understand what it is to be intimate with the instincts. This may be what I have been calling the thing itself which is what’s left when I stay with the feeling without naming it.
VINEETO: ‘Neither expression or repression emotions’ is not a question of ‘not naming’ a feeling. I personally found it very important to name, distinguish, judge, discriminate, evaluate and investigate each feeling and what has triggered it, in order to get to the source of that feeling. The aim of the game is to replace feeling with actuality, belief with fact and discover ‘who’ one thinks and feels one is. In this way, more and more beliefs have evaporated into thin air as being simply silly and the accompanying feelings of fear, guilt, loyalty, worry, sorrow, etc. disappeared with them. It takes courage, persistence and bloody-mindedness to not only watch one’s affective feeling rise and fall, but to actually investigate and eliminate them. They constitute the major part of our identity, ‘who’ we feel we are.
RESPONDENT: I did get caught up in the urge of wanting it this week which I think could have been the desire instinct being activated. This very desire of wanting it was keeping me from enjoying the now moment.
VINEETO: One of the first things on the path to Actual Freedom which I had to investigate and eliminate was that hoary old spiritual belief that if only one stops wanting something, it will be granted by the Grace of Existence. After 17 years of spiritual search without results I was finally suspicious enough to question the very belief itself.
When I, for the sake of clarity, replaced the word ‘freedom’ with something material, like a car or money, it became blindingly obvious that by stopping to want it I would also prevent myself from getting it. When I ask myself the question ‘how am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ and I get the answer that I am not happy because I am not 100% free, then the next question is how to proceed from here. I had to be careful not to deceive myself by thinking that I only have to stop the urge for freedom in order to be happy again as it only served to stop me right in my tracks, leaving me with nothing I could do to reach my goal except wait and hope.
What I do is to find out why I am not 100% happy with my present situation, what little feeling, or emotional churning there is that spoils this moment. Then it is not just ‘not-being-free’ that is bothering me but some particular feeling, some particular emotion about something that maybe happened an hour ago. This more specific component of ‘not-being-free’ can then be examined, investigated and removed without stifling the desire and intent for freedom, which is my fuel and guideline to keep asking the question of ‘how am I experiencing this moment of being alive’, to keep investigating into how I experience the Human Condition in me.
There is definitely no short-cut to actual freedom by stopping to want freedom, and then bingo, you are ‘That’ – it is the other way round. I want actual freedom like I never wanted anything in my life, it is my one and only desire, it is that very desire that motivates me to dive into the ‘cupboard’ of my psyche, my identity, my feelings and passions over and over and over, to sweep out all the cobwebs that I can find. This desire fuels my intent and makes sure that I never dishonestly settle for second best, for an imaginary freedom instead of the genuine, actual, tangible article.
The following two paragraphs are from the bit that I have written for our diagram of ‘Who am ‘I’ vs. What am I’, which you can find on our website. I consider the diagram an excellent schematic to understand the process of what happens on the path to Actual Freedom and Peter’s and my writing explain it a bit more.
On the path to Actual Freedom the ‘bad news’ is that I have to get off my bum, investigate every idea and imagination, every dream, hope and faith as much as every bout of anger, impatience, complaint, fear, love and compassion. It is the opposite of meditation because I actively pursue every obstacle to being happy now, here, and for that I use my capacity to think, contemplate, reflect, judge and investigate in order to find and eliminate the Human Condition in me, bit by bit.
The ‘good news’ is that there is nobody who can speed up or prevent my progress on the path to Actual Freedom except myself – it is all in my own hands. I am my own judge whether I am happy or not, honest or not, free of particular beliefs and morals or not. Nobody is interfering with this process and nobody can. And it is a journey of a lifetime – with imminent and incrementally increasing rewards of more and more freedom from bondage, malice and sorrow.
RESPONDENT: I have a new situation to deal with since talking with you last. My Mom is in the hospital and I am spending most of my time taking care of her. This subject of fear is still appropriate in relation to how I am dealing with this situation. The second I start thinking about it I am overwhelmed with fear, worry, etc.
However, I find that running the question ‘how am I’ is helping me to deal with the situation. Asking the question has helped me to stay in the moment and what I find is everything is ok in this moment right now. All my fears are in regard to how am I going to manage taking care of her at a future time. Right now at this moment in time she is taken care of.
VINEETO: Life seems to have given you a serendipitous opportunity to have a closer look at the instinctual passion of nurture, its correlating feelings of love and belonging and the implications of being a social identity as a family member. Quite an exciting range of possible discoveries that could help answer your earlier question of ‘How do I become intimate with the instincts?’
Love and compassion, sympathy and empathy are our usual ways of relating to family and friends and through the same emotional ‘channel’ we also invite their fears and worries, sorrow and resentment, anger and hatred. There is only one way when one relates to people affectively and that is within the rules and ways of the Human Condition. The moment I feel sympathy for someone I am also swamped by their fears, the moment I am empathic for someone’s suffering I plug into the collective misery of mankind. The need to belong makes one susceptible to everybody’s feelings, be it anger or fear, greed or suffering.
This is not just a poetic expression, it is my very experience. In order to become happy and harmless I had to examine my every relationship – to Peter, to my peers, to my work-mates, to my parents and relatives. Whenever I ‘reached out’ emotionally, understanding someone’s sorrow, fear or anger, I could not help being affected – that’s the very idea of ‘sharing’ and the common remedy against feeling lonely in the first place. But there is no choice of feeling just the nice, good feelings with or for someone and disregarding their negative feelings – by the very nature of emotions I am being hooked into the emotional web the moment I choose to go along with affective feelings.
The alternative was to consciously and deliberately decide to leave the cozy nest of bitter-sweet feelings, to abandon the ‘squabbling and miserable humanity’ and examine and then eliminate feelings and emotions in myself. I have found that the ‘good’ emotions were even more insidious than the ‘bad’ ones. Many people would like to get rid of anger, sadness and fear, but who would want to abandon love, compassion, beauty and bliss? But once I understood the intrinsic connection between love and fear, compassion and sorrow, empathy and suffering, I decided to get free of the lot.
When I love someone I am afraid to lose him or her. In order to have compassion for someone the other needs to be ‘in the pits’ emotionally – otherwise there is no use for my compassion. Empathy is even more insidious – the suffering creeps under the skin and one never quite knows what is happening. And all this sorry-go-round for the sake of not feeling lonely, bored and fearful? I discovered that by examining and eliminating my very identity as an appreciated and valued member of society I eliminated loneliness and boredom at the same time. And not even the closest friendship can ever take away one’s fear of death – for fear to stop the very ‘I’ that generates this fear has to become extinct.
Love is not the solution, love is the problem. With love disappearing I could for the first time live in peace and harmony, ease and equity with another human being, day-in, day-out, 24 hrs a day, without bicker or quarrel, crisis or boredom. Without love, actual intimacy and genuine benevolence became possible for the first time. What a serendipitous trade-in!
VINEETO: Hi No 16,
Now we are getting into the nitty-gritty of the matter of what is spiritual and what is actual and what is the difference between the two. You wrote –
I don’t know what ‘never-never land’ represents for you, but I am reminded of Peter Pan’s dreamland for children, where one is transported from the misery and dullness of the ‘real’ world into the unreal land of imagination, where one never has to become a grown-up.
RESPONDENT: Never-never land was not a good description to use because you have no way of knowing exactly what I meant. It did seem like an unreal land but it is more of a void or not-knowing. Kind of a disconnected feeling which is what I meant by a feeling of abandoning humanity.
VINEETO: ‘Abandoning humanity’ in Actual Freedom terms stands for gaily taking the pen-ultimate step before self-immolation. After one has removed one’s social identity of being a son or daughter, a man or woman, an American or Englishman, a seeker, a writer, a doctor, etc. and has become an utter non-identity, one is then able to investigate the collective psyche, the result of the instinctual passions that all human beings have in common. Applying attentiveness and awareness to the instinctual passions as they arise enables one to stop acting as per the instinctual software in the brain and thus one can slowly, slowly reduce the automated reactive and emotional impact that instincts have on our feelings, thoughts and behaviour. In doing so one not only becomes happy and harmless but also stops being part of the biggest fold of all, humanity itself. One is no longer a member of the species that ‘nourishes malice and sorrow in their bosom’ to quote Richard’s expression.
Whereas ‘a disconnected feeling’ is clearly an affective feeling, arising out of the instinctual passions of fear, aggression, nurture and desire. To have a ‘a disconnected feeling’ has nothing at all to do with ‘abandoning humanity’; it is, on the contrary, common to all human beings and arises out of the Human Condition in each of us.
You see, in order to communicate about the possible advantage that Actual Freedom could have for your life, it is essential to not mix up the terms that we use with emotional or spiritual terms. For instance, ‘not-knowing’ is used by Buddhists and other Eastern religions as an expression for the highest achievable wisdom when one enters the ‘Unknowable’, synonymous for the ‘Truth’. Aspiring to or succeeding in achieving the ‘Truth’ and reaching a state of ‘not-knowing’ is well accepted in the ‘book of rules for humanity’. When achieving a state of ‘not-knowing’ one simply exchanges the illusion of the ‘self’ for the grand delusion of a higher ‘Self’.
RESPONDENT: The difference between real and actual is however harder to grasp. My understanding is that it might have something to do with our sense of time. Actual might be ‘just now’, immediately as I see, feel and understand things. Reality as I see it, can be a more ‘timeless’ definition of the world.
VINEETO: Actual is never a feeling experience because only when ‘I’, the feeling entity steps aside am I able to sensately and apperceptively experience the actual world. The definitions from the library might throw some light on your question –
Any experience of the world around us is tainted and distorted by our affective feelings and beliefs and experienced as the ‘real world’ and therefore the underlying actual experience of people, things and events can rarely happen. In a pure consciousness experience one can experience the actual without the pollution of ‘me’, ‘my’ feelings, ‘my’ opinions, ‘my’ ethics, ‘my’ standards, ‘my’ beliefs and ‘my’ fears.
The ‘real’ world is not only about ‘a more timeless definition of the world’ but it is created by the layer of feelings and beliefs that continuously act as a buffer, separating me from directly experiencing the actual physical world. (...)
RESPONDENT: The concept of the abstract is not debated so much, perhaps because you all understand the concept better than I do. But anyhow, the question: In an actual perspective, where are the abstract. In the physical world, or just in our imagination? Is the abstract actual/ real or not? What do you say?
VINEETO: Abstract means: ‘Separated from matter, practice, or particular examples; not concrete; ideal’ Oxford Dictionary
Actualism is the very opposite to being ‘separated from matter’ – it is about discovering what lies underneath all our concepts, abstract ideas, passionate beliefs, affective feelings and fervent imagination that continuously separate us from experiencing the purity and perfection of the actual world.
The other night Peter and I went out for dinner and by chance met a couple we knew from our spiritual days. As we started discussing about life, the universe and what we have discovered in about being a human being, Peter talked about the difference between actualism, reality and spiritualism. The man responded that you could never really know what is actual. He touched the table we sat on and said ‘this is not a table – it is just the word ‘table’. For Australian Aborigines it would be a pile of firewood and not a table at all.’ Therefore, by his abstract thinking, he can never really know if what we call a table is really a table or in fact something completely different.
If you become totally abstract in your thinking and feeling you can even get to the stage where you really-truly believe that the table and everything else that is actual is only an illusion and only ‘you’ are real, or should I say ‘Real’.
This belief that one cannot know what is actual is only possible because he was removed from the direct sensate experience, his experience was totally coloured by his abstract thinking combined with his spiritual ideas. He didn’t acknowledge his sensate experience of the piece of furniture we were resting our elbows on. He preferred to question the actuality of the table rather than questioning his own ideas, beliefs and feelings. His stated position was that we cannot know anything as a certainty and he had made that into his prime spiritual belief. Thus he made the sensual concrete experience of a simple wooden table into a spiritual experience of ‘Not-Knowing’ – another word for connecting with the Divine Unknowable.
The conversation made it clear to me again that any belief, including the generalizing belief that you don’t know, casts a distorting veil over our senses and sensibility and thus prevents the direct experience of the actual.
RESPONDENT: Thanks for the response, it was very interesting, especially the part where you discuss real and spiritual. My concern though was about abstract concepts and if they exist in the real or actual world.
VINEETO: The real world is chock-a-block full of abstract concepts and passionate imaginations, whereas by stepping into the actual world any abstract cerebral-only concepts are instantaneously supplanted by sensuous and sensual information and the sensibility of reflective thought that is stripped of social morals and ethics and freed from instinctual passions. And when it comes to understanding and experiencing the vastness of this infinite and eternal universe or the fact that we are speeding on a rotating globe in the middle of nowhere, then abstract concepts fail miserably – one can only stand in wonder at the endless delight and perfection, abundance and sparkling diversity.
RESPONDENT: Another question I have if it is possible for the human brain to operate without these concepts.
Our brain works with information, it’s a computing organ. Not at all similar with a computer in design or internal operation, but still it’s some sort of computing device. The brain is processing information and information is in some sense abstract. Even if information needs some kind of physical entity to exist it is still not physical in its nature. All our senses are detecting information from the nature surrounding us.
VINEETO: The information that the brain processes is information that is obtained by the physical senses and, as such, the information is directly related to the physical material world – smell, touch, sound, vision and taste. The brain works like a big fast biofeedback computer, processing the sensual information about the physical world via millions of neural connections and switches. The process of clear and pure thinking, i.e. without an interfering and ‘self’-centric interpreting identity, is remarkably simple, straightforward and effective.
The reason why our sensual information is not being perceived in such a pure and clear way is because of our animal instinctual passions and the culturally imposed ethical and moral conditioning – the Human Condition. The way human beings usually process sensual information is primarily instinctual and the result is that the information is ‘abstracted’, separated from its physical sensual source, generalized, theorized, symbolized, conceptualized, intellectualized, idealized, scanned by moral/ethical evaluation and topped up with plenty of intuition and imagination. As such, the initial sensory information is, usually without noticing, removed from physical facts, edited, twisted and adjusted to the rules of our cerebral-abstract and affective-metaphysical world of belief, opinion, viewpoint and theory. To illustrate the nature of the physical process that gives rise to the emotionalising of incoming sensory input it is useful to look at the findings of empirical science –
What LeDoux has investigated is valid for every sensory input – the information is already filtered and distorted at the gateway, causing us to instinctually react to our sensory experience before we are aware of what has happened. This split-second later awareness is then experienced as an emotion or feeling, leaving scant opportunity for any sensible thought-process to even begin to happen.
The actualism method of asking oneself ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive’ is designed to dismantle the social and instinctual programming that interprets and distorts, imagines and conceptualizes, and, given diligence and perseverance, one then starts perceiving things as they are, and, even more wondrously, starts seeing people as they are. Then the sensual information is not distorted by a fearful, sorrowful and malicious program, our identity, but is very concrete, direct and intimate, ever fresh and utterly fascinating. Reflective thought, as opposed to abstract concepts, will always instil practical application and down-to-earth sensibility into the biofeedback loop of the information and thinking process and therefore integrate a constant flow of physical sensual information.
You can also look at the problem of abstracted thinking and feeling this way. ‘Who’ I think and feel I am is not a physical entity – ‘I’ experience myself as a meta-physical, psychological and psychic entity dwelling inside the flesh and blood body, looking out through the eyes, hearing through the ears, tasting with the tongue, feeling by touch, smelling through the nose. ‘Who’ I think and feel I am, as opposed to what I am, therefore always thinks and feels he or she is isolated from, and different in nature from, the physical world I actually live in. ‘I’ therefore can only gain a second-hand abstracted impression, via the physical senses of ‘my’ body, of what actually exists. ‘I’ am therefore always lost, always lonely, always frightened and always rely on cunning to get ‘my’ way.
In a pure consciousness experience there is no abstraction or disconnection between the sensorial input and what is being seen, heard, tasted, touched or smelt. In a pure consciousness experience the vibrant physicality of the universe becomes immediately apparent and the sensuous actuality of its perfection and purity is such that ‘I’ am not only made temporarily redundant but ‘I’ can be clearly seen for the spoiler ‘I’ am.
Actualism is the method and the process of coming to one’s senses, both literally and figuratively.
VINEETO: The other night Peter and I went out for dinner and by chance met a couple we knew from our spiritual days. As we started discussing about life, the universe and what we have discovered in about being a human being, Peter talked about the difference between actualism, reality and spiritualism. The man responded that you could never really know what is actual. He touched the table we sat on and said ‘this is not a table – it is just the word ‘table’. For Australian Aborigines it would be a pile of firewood and not a table at all.’ Therefore, by his abstract thinking, he can never really know if what we call a table is really a table or in fact something completely different. <snip>
His stated position was that we cannot know anything as a certainty and he had made that into his prime spiritual belief. Thus he made the sensual concrete experience of a simple wooden table into a spiritual experience of ‘Not-Knowing’ – another word for connecting with the Divine Unknowable.
RESPONDENT: I also understand your friend’s statement at the dinner, that the table is, in some sense, a table because we compare it with an abstract concept in our brain. Without this comparison, and recognition, the table would have no meaning for us at all. Most scientists also believe that most of the processing in the brain is pure pattern recognition. But instead of storing all patterns and then try to compare all new ones with all previous stored, the brain works with abstracts and ideal ideas. We have a concept of the table stored, the concept is not necessarily associated with a certain physical table.
VINEETO: By accident Peter and I met the same couple a few days later in another restaurant. They had finished their meal and, as the restaurant was full, they insisted that we should take over their table when they left. We had a short amicable chat and then they left. The man, who had previously said that he did not know if a table existed in fact or not, was now, by his very actions, neither questioning the function nor the existence of this table – he rested his elbows on it, he confidently placed his wine and meal on the table, he also without questioning communicated to us and the waitress about passing the table on to us for our use.
His theories of ‘not-knowing’ were merely philosophical, conceptual and disconnected from his daily actions. His stated position of ‘Not Knowing’, derived from Eastern Spiritualism, turns the world upside down – everything physical is a mere concept and the only real thing is ‘Me’, the one who makes those concepts. No 22’s philosophy reflects this Eastern spiritual concept, he is an expert in this field of [No 22]: ‘I create what is by becoming what is’.
By asking ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive’ you can, one by one, discover and strip away your abstract and spiritual concepts in order to free your senses so you can directly and intimately perceive the world and people around you.
RESPONDENT: To understand new things, for example in physics, we can learn from books and create images of a reality, which we cannot see, smell and touch. These abstract concepts or models are absolutely essential for us to be able to grasp scientific ideas about nature.
We are learning about the world by experience, which includes the creation of abstract concepts and ideal ideas. This is true when we learn to understand the nature of the physical world, but also true when we learn about ourselves and about our fellow man.
VINEETO: ‘Creating images of a reality’ happens via the affective faculty in our brain. An example might help you to experience this fact rather than thinking it out theoretically –
When someone talks about cars and you create a particular image of a car in your mind, upon closer examination you will find that this particular image of a car, the brand, its colour, size, speed, etc. is directly linked to a feeling. In this case it would most likely be a desire, a liking, or a favourable memory. If there is no particular liking of this or that car, you won’t produce an image when hearing the word ‘car’ but nevertheless you will know what the generic term ‘car’ stands for.
As for ‘scientific ideas about nature’ – scientific ideas are but working models or theories for exploration purposes that will have to be proven to be verifiable, objective actuality in order to be considered scientific facts. And a fact is –
RESPONDENT: Just recently, scientists discovered something they call mirror neurons. These mirror neurons are used when we learn by copy or mimic someone we are observing. Another peculiar thing is that the mirror neurons make it possible for us to understand the feeling or mood of another just by looking. A similar pattern of neurons firing, representing a mood or feeling, in the brain of the person we observes fires in our own brain. You know the saying, smile and the world smiles with you, it is some neurological explanation for this.
VINEETO: ‘Mirror neurons’ discovered by G. Rizzollati, M.A. Arbib and others in the ventral premotor area were first studied in macaque monkeys and from these findings deductions were made for human beings and their possible evolutionary development of mimicry and language. Neurologist V.S. Ramachandran says in his essay about mirror neurons:
His deduction in the second paragraph is purely conceptual guesswork (as in ‘might fire’) and has not yet any factual scientific evidence. His theory is still hotly debated in university circles. Marc D. Hauser from the Reality Club discussion group comments on it –
In my own experience, the recognition of feelings in other people not only transmits via ‘looking’, as you say, but via an invisible psychic net of vibes that emotionally connects all human beings together. Anybody with strong enough feelings can trigger those feelings in others and some people are particularly receptive to those ever-present psychic transmissions.
One is affected by other people’s vibes and feelings because of one’s own psychic entity, an entity that both creates and receives those vibes and feelings, be they sorrow, aggression, fear, nurture or desire. In my spiritual years I had learned to suss out other people via my psychic antennas and I used this knowledge to guard myself, as well as to manipulate others.
However, when I came across Actual Freedom and learnt that one can become actually unaffected by any psychic influence whatsoever, it seemed a much more sensible solution rather than continuing the psychic power game. Whatever the pattern of neurons firing in our brains may be, I now know by experience that it is possible to investigate and successively eliminate the psychic entity and thus to be genuinely free from receiving and sending psychic vibes, moods and feelings.
RESPONDENT: So my concern really is, if our brain works with abstract ideal ideas or concepts, represented by neurons working with different patterns when firing. And if these abstract concept represents knowledge of the physical world intermingled with concepts representing experiences and knowledge about feelings, both our own and our fellow man, and also about accepted social behaviour. Is it then possible to separate or remove all of this or even parts of it and still have an operational brain?
VINEETO: Neurons do fire when emotions are triggered in the brain, this is something you can experience yourself quite easily the very next time you are emotional. However, just because there is more and more detailed physical evidence that maps some of our emotional and instinctual behaviour does not mean that this behaviour is unchangeable. Human beings can in fact learn to stop being a malicious and sorrowful entity by starting to investigate the entity in action. Eliminating the entity, and with it the automatic instinctual reactions, frees the brain for sensible and intelligent functioning when needed.
There are three ways we experience the world –
Cerebral interpretation and affective reaction are the only ways ‘I’, the psychological and psychic entity, can respond to the sensory information of the world around me. In order to directly experience the world around me, unimpeded by ‘my’ meta-physical concepts and emotional interpretations, it was vital that I inquired into the underlying emotions that were producing those elaborate concepts and beliefs in the first place. In order to make sense of the world around me, I developed a keen awareness towards my then permanently triggered emotional reactions and my uninterrupted flow of beliefs and imaginations. Slowly, slowly I was able to poke holes into this intricate web of emotions, affections, imagination, intuition, spiritual beliefs, truths, rights and wrongs and get glimpses of the astounding perfect actual world that lies beneath the human-made world of suffering, malice, fear and love.
The adventure is to find out that ‘I’ am not needed for the brain to think, and that the brain is perfectly equipped for the job it does – the sophisticated biofeedback process of thinking, reflecting, planning, communicating and also of being aware of itself in operation. ‘I’ am not needed to process information through eyes, ears, skin and nose – the senses and the brain are perfectly equipped to collect, process and make sense of that information, if required. The human body and brain is, as far as we know, the pinnacle of the development of animate life in the universe and everything operates wondrously and perfectly without ‘me’, the instinctually driven entity that is continuously interfering in the ongoing perfection with ‘my’ fears and desires, aggression and nurture, morals and ethics, concepts and imagination.
Yes, the more you remove parts of this ‘abstract ideal ideas or concepts, represented by neurons working with different patterns when firing’, the better the brain can operate and the more sensible you become. When you remember a Pure Consciousness Experience, as everyone had at least once in their lives, you will know, by direct experience, what clarity a non-cerebral, non-affective brain in operation is capable of. Freed from the crippling effect of instinctual passions and their resultant spiritual beliefs and meta-physical concepts one is able to be aware of the delightful process of the brain in operation ... ... or at rest, which I will do now.
VINEETO: But then it is, of course, up to you what words you use in order to determine if a certain feeling or attitude or decision or action is appropriate or inappropriate in your aim of becoming more harmless and more happy.
RESPONDENT: Oh, in actualism my own thinking is respected and I don’t have to just use all of Richard’s terms?
VINEETO: Doing your own thinking is an unavoidable necessity because you will have to do the whole process on your own, by yourself and for yourself. Other vital ingredients are pure intent and a memory of a ‘self’-less pure consciousness experience (PCE) – because the memory of the PCE will act as your guiding light as well as your touchstone or benchmark. Discussions with fellow actualists can also facilitate your own investigations so as to determine the facts about certain topics in order that you can discover the full extent of the beliefs, morals and ethics and dimwitticisms that one has unwittingly, inadvertently or deliberately taken on board in the course of one’s life.
RESPONDENT: I think a lot of people think they must use Richard’s verbal constructs exclusively. I’m VERY glad to hear this is not the case.
VINEETO: In order to understand other people’s reactions to the writings of actualists it is useful to keep in mind that because actualism is about becoming actually free of the human condition in toto, it questions everybody’s dearest beliefs. Whilst people might at first be attracted by the vivid descriptions of life in an actual freedom or even by the pleasure and ease of a virtual freedom, many soon discover that they don’t want to pay the prize and then they begin to snipe, object, argue for arguing sake or begin bargaining to keep at least some of their pet beliefs. What you sometimes find in the discussions on this list are situations where clear thinking is muddled and prevented by emotions, feelings and beliefs (emotion-backed thoughts) even to a point where cognitive dissonance or denial make any further understanding of actualism impossible.
RESPONDENT: Though I understand why he keeps his words consistent and I am learning to speak the founding actualist’s language.
VINEETO: When I discovered actualism I found that I had been conditioned not only by the content of my particular spiritual teaching but also by the specifically loose and often deliberately vague use of language within the group of followers. I have since discovered that spiritualists like to keep the language they use vague, ambiguous, unclear and imprecise. They do not like to ascribe clear meanings to words – they prefer instead to intuit their own personal meanings to words, ascribing affective meanings to words that often are at odds with the actual meaning of the word itself. Many uphold this inability or refusal to communicate accurately as a virtue, claiming the word is not the thing, maintaining that words are merely concepts, alluring to ‘things that can’t be described’, and so on.
When I became an actualist I learnt to be specific in what I wanted to convey because accuracy in expression aided my accuracy in thinking and in order to be accurate I often use the English dictionary, more especially so given that English is not my first language. There is no such thing as ‘the founding actualist’s language’ – it’s a furphy invented by objectors. Apart from a few catchy phrases such a ‘happy and harmless’ there are very few words that are used different to dictionary definitions –
Additionally Richard coined the term ‘pure consciousness experience (PCE)’ in order to specifically describe the ‘self’-less pure consciousness experience in contrast to other altered states of consciousness where the ‘self’ is not only still present but has become rampant.
RESPONDENT: Interestingly though, I find my eyes will still produce tears when I, (or ‘I’), as soul and/or body, am moved by something ... it might be anything ... so I guess there are still some residual, instinctual, or physiological karmic issues to deal with? It is not really a problem to deal with but it is interesting to note and share with anyone interested? I know intellectually the whole process but there seems to be a soul, or physiological ‘something’ in operation still?
My laughter used to be almost uncontrollable fifteen years ago, but now I seem to only raise a chuckle ... angst or nervous energy release is dissipated with the dissipation of anxiety. The same seems to be true of tears ... it seems I still feel ... if only for milli-seconds ... all I can do is watch as a most interested observer ... watch and marvel at how me as this universe is working.
Any ideas anyone?
VINEETO: Tears, sympathy, empathy, love and compassion have been good indications for me that there was something to look at. Once I started to clean up my personal emotions and broadened my perspective from ‘self’-centred to factual, I became more aware of what is happening with other people. Television and new-papers, reports and films – they all gave me a very detailed picture of the malice and sorrow evident in everybody, and the way human beings treat other human beings often caused distress and brought tears to my eyes. Yet I knew that every feeling, be it for myself or for others, had its roots in my own instinctual passions – and they are the only thing I am able to change. My sorrow or being affected by others won’t change their situation, but by eliminating malice and sorrow in me I will stop causing ripples – at least I will then not be contributing to suffering in the world.
So, whenever I am moved by even the slightest feeling it is a sure indication for me that the ‘self’ is in action. And for me, 99% is not good enough.
VINEETO: ...perfection in humans is possible.
RESPONDENT: Whatever is, is perfect. It cannot be any other way. But there can be more.
VINEETO: One of those insidious spiritual beliefs. If you look around in the world, human beings are anything else but perfect. Murders, rapes, domestic violence, religious and tribal wars, child abuse and suicides tell enough of a story. This belief that everything is perfect is one of the reasons why people think they don’t have to change, just wait for the grace of god or the master, or the universe to miraculously remove them from this miserable realm of the body. But then you have to deny the body, all its pleasures, its intelligence, its physical senses. Then, the only place you can have peace is in some imaginary world of the psyche.
Actual freedom means living in this physical world, as this physical body with its marvellous intelligence. But it also means living without a psyche, without affective qualities – human or divine, without instincts, without imagination, without any sense of self or Self, ego, soul and idea of who you are. Actual freedom is to discover what you are – a flesh-and-blood body, one of 5.8 billion on the planet – completely ordinary with only one difference: one is completely harmless and as such a non-contributor to malice, and one is completely happy and a such a non-contributor to sorrow.
I have answered all your objections as clearly as possible. One thing strikes me as curious: You seem interested enough to engage in a detailed and inquiring conversation with Peter and me. Yet you have enough objections to not investigate any further into what actual freedom is all about.
There is another option, though. You could put your objections – which are more than understandable – aside in order to investigate scientifically, rather than emotionally. With a more informed understanding your questions will be more to the point and have more the quality of questions instead of objections.
VINEETO to No 10: The difference between ‘real’ and ‘actual’ is significant. ‘Actual’ is that which is palpable, tangible, tactile, corporeal, material and sensately experienced. In comparison, ‘real’ is that which, while appearing actual, is merely the affective interpretation of the actual.
As an example: usually people say, ‘I feel that what you are saying is...’, ‘I feel that your are being ...’, I feel melancholic because of the weather...’ – an affective response to and interpretation of the actual.
But how would someone who is fond of his affections – because they is the very substance the ‘self’ is made of – be able to experience and understand the non-affective, non-cerebral, but sensate and sensible description of the actual? I can give you a description of a pure consciousness experience, as I have done before, but are you able to read it with clear eyes? Whenever I compare the actual world to the spiritual world I do this to point to the ‘rose-coloured glasses’ that you, the reader, are wearing. When I was a Sannyasin, I had been wearing rose-coloured glasses, it was inevitable. It took great effort, courage and a year of continuous investigation into all my beliefs to be now able to experience the world-as-it-is, without any glasses ie. interpretations whatsoever.
RESPONDENT: What you might call the witness or the watcher is just the state of being without thought. It is consciousness, being without thinking!
VINEETO: What you are trying to tell me is just a psittacism of Eastern teaching. That does not make it a fact.
I take it that this sentence is supposed to be an answer to my last letter to you where I wrote:
This ‘ state of being without thought ’ is exactly the problem. The affective identity of this ‘thoughtless being’ is fully alive and kicking, causing even more havoc now that all sensible thought is removed. Nobody wants to acknowledge that it is the ‘feeling’ faculty that is the main problem with the Human Condition, and nobody has even bothered to acknowledge or investigate the instinctual emotions of fear, aggression, nurture and desire at the very core of ‘being’.
You may not yet be aware that my emphasis is upon examining and eliminating the feelings – affective feelings – that cause our thoughts to dominate the brain the way they do. Thought – the only tool that can bring about peace-on-earth in this life – is denigrated so much ... and the feelings that infiltrate thought get always off scot-free. Maybe re-examining the whole concept of ‘mind’ as being the problem would give you some insight into the actual world as opposed to the spiritual and affective world of ‘no-mind’. Just have a good look at the outcome of life in the East!
Vineeto’s & Richard’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.