Selected Correspondence Vineeto
Altered State of Consciousness aka Enlightenment
VINEETO: It is fascinating to read your ‘It was so self-evidently self-aggrandizing’ – such a simple statement about a simple fact. Everyone else I am corresponding with at present is frantically defending Love, Beauty, Supreme Intelligence, Compassion, the Unknown, universal Consciousness and whatever other names they have invented for their God. To acknowledge the fact that god is a mere figment of passionate imagination is more than most will bear.
GARY: No, I am not into defending these ideals and I will not. It was hard for me, looking back at it in retrospect, to admit of my former hero’s (Krishnamurti’s) debauches with his friend’s wife. At the time, I did not see the relevance of inquiring into what he did or didn’t do. But I am looking at that differently now. I think the critical thing is to be harmless. What an enormous hypocrisy to say things out of one side of your mouth while practising something differently in your personal life. I will not be disingenuous.
VINEETO: Before I met Peter and later Richard, I had not consciously questioned how and if the spiritual teachings were lived by the gurus themselves. It is one of their useful tricks, that the master is always exempt from his own teaching. He has already ‘got it’ and you, the disciple, have to practice humility, austerity, discipline, meditation, listening, etc. etc.
A whole new world opened up when I started questioning what was the practical outcome of the spiritual teachings in the master’s life, for his disciples and for the people who had lived the teachings of his lineage – in my case the Indian people. Had anything improved because of the teachings? Had my own life improved? Had my relationships to others become more loving, peaceful, happy? When enlightened, would I be living like the master? Did I like his lifestyle? How was he with women? How did he use power? Was it possible for everyone of his supposed 10,000 disciples to live like he did, all at the same time? Who would serve whom? Who would earn a living? Who would clean, cook and build the houses?
I started to put all the master’s seductive and soothing words to the test of common sense and was astounded that nothing added up. Not only was his teaching full of deliberate contradictions, but also it completely disregarded common sense. When I started to search for facts, there were more gaps than coherence. The teachings and the cult was only held together by the love, devotion and desire for enlightenment of his disciples. The further I investigated, the more I found dis-ingenuity combined with corruption, lies, extreme egotism, power games of the highest order, denial, greed, blaming the disciples and malicious competition with other gurus. Once I questioned and removed the overriding moral rule that you should never ever think for yourself and determine what is fact and what is belief, a whole Pandora box of rotten revelations followed.
As an aside – the latest guru gossip has it that John de Ruiter, the new kid on the block, was told by Truth to invite two female disciples into his household and it was Truth that told him to lie to his wife about the nature of his relationship to them. The Truth told him to lie, cute eh? Nothing stays hidden in the bright daylight of the internet.
GARY: As long as one is defending one’s sense of being, one will forever remain vulnerable to becoming either a guru or disciple. There is also the lure of becoming a secular leader or potentate. Cults, whether religious or secular, appeal to people who are seeking immortality. I am reminded again of Richard’s comment that the door to an Actual Freedom has ‘Extinction’ written over it.
VINEETO: One is not only defending ‘one’s sense of being’ – as spiritual teachers like to phrase it to emphasize that one only has to wake up to the illusionary nature of the psychological ‘self’ and be done with it. In actualism we explore and investigate our very core, ‘being’ itself, in order to facilitate the complete immolation of the ‘self’.
This ‘sense of being’ and its accompanying search for power and glory is not to be underestimated as it is supported by the strongest of passions, our desire to survive as a psychic and psychological entity. On the road to Actual Freedom, when the ‘self’ becomes thinner and thinner, the intense fear of death will at some point inevitably trigger a release of euphoriant chemicals in the brain as part of our physical survival program, and that chemical release can easily result in a blissful ‘unitary’ Altered State of Consciousness as the ‘self’ makes an instinctual grab for survival. It is essential that one becomes familiar with such overwhelming grand feelings while one’s intent is firmly set to the goal of an actual freedom beyond the delusion of Grandeur and spiritual so-called freedom. Indeed, ‘the door to an Actual Freedom has ‘Extinction’ written over it.’ And what a thrill!
RESPONDENT: My husband recently returned from a weeklong retreat given by an American, who is an Eastern type spiritual teacher. One of the main premises of this man’s teaching is that he ‘transmits’ Being-force that then ‘templates’ on those who receive the transmission and catalyzes the recipient’s own realization of Being. My husband said that after a week in that environment of transmission by the head teacher and other teachers that he felt an amplified ‘spaciousness’ that was conducive in bringing a lot of stuff up for him.
We have talked quite extensively about the discoveries I am making re: actual freedom. At breakfast the other morning he asked me how my ‘transmission’ is different from the teacher’s he spent the week with. I said that I don’t transmit anything. He was pretty critical of that, asking how I could deny transmission, that even a tree transmits a kind of ‘presence’. I said, why can’t I just see the tree for what it is, a material entity. I can say it’s a big tree, a healthy tree, a sick tree, whatever, but why do I have to feel it has some underlying presence?
I told him I certainly understood what he meant by experiencing the effects of so-called transmission. I’ve experienced all kinds of spiritual phenomena, but the way I look at it now, it was all a dissociative strategy to shield myself from my own very real mortality. I was, in fact, looking for some eternal me that would defy death, and that desire enabled me to experience all kinds of ‘real’ experiences to validate my need to be immortal in some fashion or another.
So, he asked me what I thought the phenomenon of experiencing ‘transmission’ really was. I said, I honestly don’t know for sure, possibly a form of hypnosis, group hypnosis, self-hypnosis. I wasn’t sure.
Anyone have any ideas of the how we humans actually produce the astoundingly real when you have them spiritual phenomena?
VINEETO: The idea of the psychic world had captivated me for years and the mystical-psychic playground was a big attraction on the spiritual path at the time. Consequently, when I took up actualism, I was immensely curious to really find out as much as there is to know about psychic phenomena, psychic powers and the ‘rules’ of the psychic world. I was fascinated to learn that Richard not only said he lived without feelings and emotions but also admitted to not having any psychic powers like telepathy, ‘energy’, psychic influence or mystical secret knowledge.
One area of my investigation was how I was influenced by, and connected with, other people’s vibes and feelings. I remember one incident with the woman I had lived and worked with for several years. One day in the office she received a phone call and, being the secretary, I took it, recognized her partner’s voice and transferred it to her into the next room, saying nothing but hello to the man. I didn’t hear the conversation as my door was closed, and just kept working on the daily accounts. From the moment of the call I had fierce pain in my stomach and thoughts of intense fear racing through my head that had nothing to do with my personal situation. After two hours it finally clicked – I went over to ask her if she had a fight with her partner on the phone. She said they did. My pain disappeared immediately. After this incident I investigated what made me so receptive to her vibes and feelings and I came to understand that my feelings of love for her were enough for me to be psychically connected to her fears and pain.
I see the psychic world as an invisible spider’s web that connects people together via their fervent beliefs, feelings and passions. The key to understanding and breaking out of the psychic web was questioning love and, in the spiritual world, my love for and the authority of those ‘who know’, the revered and adored masters. I began to understand that the feeling of love based on the instinctual passions of nurture and desire is just as much part of ‘my’ identity as the opposite passions of fear and aggression. Slowly, I started to see the psychic power battle that goes on between ‘good’ and ‘evil’, higher powers and lower powers, master and disciple, between teachers and between disciples of various ranks. Just as normal reality is a dog-eat-dog world, spiritual reality is a God-eat-God world and the fight is fuelled by the same merciless survival instincts.
Seeing that the psychic web is about transmitting or exchanging vibes, feelings and emotions in order to gain power and influence over others, I was then only interested how to disentangle myself from this insidious web that tied me to authorities, groups and friends, engulfing me in invisible power struggles and everyone else’s beliefs, feelings and instinctual passions.
When I experienced my first full-blown Altered State of Consciousness replete with feeling Love for all, with Truth continuously streaming into my head and the bliss of unlimited psychic power and knowledge, I came to understand even more how this whole psychic world works. In such a state one can tap into the pond of all of humanity’s so-called wisdom – the collection of ancient religions, beliefs, superstitions, atavistic feelings and passions. That ‘pond’ provides the ‘knowledge’ and ‘wisdom’ for spiritual teachers – the very reason why their teachings seem to be so true and familiar. Having risen to the top of the psychic ladder, God-men can choose to swan along in the ‘good’ feelings and push the ‘evil’ passions to the bottom – or blame their disciples for causing their anxiety and divine anger.
The transmission of Energy – a feature of all master-disciple relationships – can only work because the disciples are looking for a short-cut to happiness and love by receiving seemingly ‘free gifts’ from the master and thus get trapped into the addictive bargain of giving love and gratitude in return for dependency on his or her authority.
VINEETO to Alan: I want to tell you about a movie we watched lately, called ‘Fearless’ by Peter Weir. I found it interesting for various reasons. First, the hero has a near-death experience shortly before the plane crashes. He encounters an altered state of consciousness, being fearless and driven to help people, in particular the survivors of the crash. As I see it, the film describes well the delusion of an altered state of consciousness and even more so because the hero is an American, living in a Western society and not in the East. One can see the oddness and the ‘loony-ness’ of his state.
The only person who is not impressed by his heroic efforts to save people is his wife – as a down to earth, common sense and practical woman she can see that he is in severe physical danger indulging in his fearlessness in many silly ways. (He believes that he has already died and can only die once). She is then able to convince the woman whom the hero is currently saving and both try to reach his common sense.
He ends up seeing the point and in a dramatic second near-death experience he seems to come back to his senses. At least, that is how I would like to interpret his exclamation: ‘I am ALIVE!’ It could very well mean something completely different! Unfortunately, this is how the film ends. I guess that both the playwright and the director have no idea what happens when one actually comes to one’s senses! Peter sent him his journal to show that there is an option for a life after the altered state of consciousness.
ALAN: In the light of my current discussion with Richard, it would be interesting to hear of any enlightenment experiences you had.
VINEETO: I had only one, which lasted for about three days, because I really wanted to investigate all its implications. It was an experience first of great love and compassion for all, together with the Great Wisdom that I wanted to spread to all those ‘poor’ beings whom I considered needed my advice. (oops, I knew then, that I really had to keep my mouth shut and my hands in my pocket. I did not want to do or say anything I would have to regret later or feel embarrassed about!)
With the grandeur came a great satisfaction of finally standing on the same podium that I had put Rajneesh on – now I knew from my own experience from which inner space he was talking and how he had been taking us all for a ride. I felt the power and authority and the wonderful tempting glory of it all. What a grand world it is – you know it all, you feel it all, you can help them all and you are superior to them all. Love pours out of every thought, grandeur is your nature and you swan in timelessness and eternity, forever relieved from the pain and sorrow of the personal little world of the poor mortals you left behind.
It was bloody good to have Peter as a landmark for common sense and Richard’s story and warnings as the blinking light-house and so it came that I did not ground on that wonderfully glimmering, seductively promising ‘Rock of Enlightenment’.
It took a lot of effort and re-starting my intelligence and common sense to dismantle the glory of Truth and the seduction of Power. I had to use all doubt and scepticism available to be able to discover the Truth-production machine in my head. The next thing to deal with was the attraction to power and glory. But without being able to rely on Truth, which was now impossible, how much power can you keep up? You can find the full description of the experience on our web-site.
But it was not all over yet. The sense of love and warmth that had resided in the heart moved further down into the belly, what Japanese call the Hara. I found it to be the seat of ‘being’, of bliss. It was a less fiery passion, more of a calm prevailing blissful state of eternal ‘being here’, as opposed to the actual being ‘here’. I don’t remember much of it except for the seductive invitation to stay there, ‘you have now found your destiny, this is what they are all talking about, this is your ‘ground of being’, you have arrived’.
I knew it was time to gather all my intent and my common sense and get out of this elusive, imaginary state of swanning in imaginary bliss and ‘being’. It was time to leave the wonder-full magician-castle in the clouds and enter the actual world of senses, sex and coffee.
ALAN: ... as this concurs with my own experience, which is in the current correspondence with Richard. I think all one can do to ‘warn’ another is to say watch out for this feeling of Love, which is definitely located in the belly, the seat of being. As we have both demonstrated it is possible to turn away from this blissful state, whether using ‘native intelligence’, ‘pure intent’ or whatever name.
VINEETO: Interesting that you talk about the blissful state. We found a book by Bernadette Roberts, a Christian mystic, called ‘What is Self?’ where she talks about no-ego and the no-self, only to describe that after enlightenment she gets even further lost into the fantasy of being one with Christ. And recently, when somebody asked me about Akashic Records, I experienced that bliss-state for about an hour, the state Mrs. Roberts seems to describe in her book. I finally got a grip on it – I could experience it and describe from the ‘outside’ what was happening. This blissful state seems unemotional, no love or compassion is felt in the heart, everything is a cool ‘oneness’. One feels all-pervading, ‘I am everything and everything is me and everything is divine’.
The experience can easily be mistaken as intimacy because the sense of ‘me’ is so expanded across the universe and spread so thin, so to speak, that ‘me’ is hardly noticeable. As ‘I am every thing’, one is of course ‘feeling’ intimate with the TV set or is able to intuit into someone else’s, in this case Mrs. Roberts, religious imaginations. (I had read Bernadette Roberts, a Christian Mystic’s book, ‘What is Self?’ prior to this experience). Fascinating and seductive and very eerie. I think this could be a bit like the parallel universe scientists fantasize about. One then lives in a universe where everything is a virtual replica of the actual, with the glow of divinity, unity and timeless-ness to it – and as it is virtual, it is controlled by the imagination of the one who makes it up. This ‘parallel’ universe ‘feels’ and is ‘imagined’ as intimate or not-separate, and yet it is twice removed from the physical body, the senses, this actual world. This ‘insanity’ of ‘feeling one with everything’ is the barrier that prevents one from experiencing the world as a flesh and blood body, with the senses. Boy, I really understand why these guys are so far out there, lost and locked in an imaginary space that has almost no return-ticket.
But then, you only have to pinch yourself and where it hurts, that’s actual.
It is good not to be trapped by this complete insanity. It is the same type of dis-association that people suffer from who are in an insane asylum. The film ‘Awakening’ depicted some of those people. There was one woman who could not walk to the window because the checker pattern on the floor was interrupted by a black line – until the doctor painted the black line into checkers. In her ‘world’ the black line was dangerous. The religious insanity is being locked into another type of fantasy-world, where one isn’t really the body and one’s True Self will be free only after death – it is an altered state of consciousness, i.e. mentally deranged, forever cut off from common sense.
VINEETO: And recently, somebody on the Sannyas-list asked me about the so-called Akashic Records, I experienced that bliss-state’ again for about an hour, the state Mrs. Roberts seems to talk about. I finally got a grip on it – I could experience it and describe from the ‘outside’ what was happening. It seems an unemotional state, no love or compassion is felt in the heart, everything is a cool ‘oneness’. One feels all-pervading, ‘I am everything and everything is me and everything is divine’.
ALAN: When I experienced this there was a huge feeling of Love and Compassion, so it is interesting you say it was an ‘unemotional state, no love or compassion is felt in the heart’. I recognize the ‘I am everything and everything is me and everything is divine’, though.
VINEETO: Yes, I remember this ‘huge feeling of Love and Compassion’, it filled my whole chest and heart with this warmth that wanted to be spread to all of Humanity. When I dismantled it as the feeling component in the heart of the ‘Truth-Production-Machine’ in the head, it disappeared with a loud thump and I crashed on my bum for a day. Later something similar reappeared in the belly or Hara, a cool pervading bliss, a bit like stoned, all pervading and ‘I feel so wonderfully one with it all’, like touching the heights of human atavistic imagination. I remember Rajneesh talking about a hot and a later cool stage of enlightenment, so I cannot vouch for genuine invention of this story. The come-back is another thump, sitting out the dullness until the senses adjusted to the actual world after the ‘glitter’ of insanity.
VINEETO: As I said, the rungs of the ladder disappear and one is left ‘hanging in the middle’ with hardly any choice other than going forward. I say ‘hardly any’ because I am well aware of the fact that – probably with great effort – one is able to revert to some kind of normality.
ALAN: It must be a huge effort to return to ‘normal’. I cannot imagine (not that I can imagine much anymore) taking on all these beliefs and emotions again, though it is undoubtedly possible to be seduced by the lure of love, or Love.
VINEETO: I have no idea how big the effort would be and I have no intention to check it out. But I know that it takes a stubborn intent to keep going in the face of all the instinctual fear that has now surfaced. Other people climb Mount Everest or journey to the North Pole to get their excitement and sense of achievement – I just do it on the couch.
Love and Enlightenment are lures that are certainly not to be taken lightly. That’s why Peter and me are putting so much emphasis on Virtual Freedom. In the face of ultimate extinction the survival instinct tempts one to grab for the only option for the ‘self’ to survive – Enlightenment, the delusion of immortality. But I know now by extensive experience how enlightenment looks and feels like and I am 100% sure that it is a second rate alternative to Actual Freedom.
*VINEETO: Fear number one had been: what, if I get accidentally enlightened? For that exploration I went into this grand fuzzy feeling, observed how it expands in the chest, how it swamps the brain with waves of love and bliss until one loses all common sense and is convinced that one is one with it all. When I didn’t fall for the seductive power of this feeling the rush of glory subsided and plunged me into instinctual fear. But that experience to remain ‘unseduced’ was enough to give me the confidence that I won’t be struck by, or stuck in, enlightenment, whatever happens.
VINEETO: Personally, I stopped using the term ‘peak experience’, because for an actualist it is absolutely vital to make a clear distinction between a selfless pure consciousness experience and an emotional/ spiritual peak experience, including any Altered States of Consciousness. Both ASC and PCE have been clearly defined and exhaustively written about on the Actual Freedom Trust website – thus I am of the opinion that introducing ‘peak experience’ would only confuse the distinction.
ALAN: As I said, it was my attempt to do precisely this, which caused the confusion!
While the PCE and ASC have been extensively written about, our current correspondence shows there is still some confusion – for me anyway – and I consider it would be beneficial to all to further examine and explore exactly what we mean. It is also fascinating to do so. (...)
The first question to be addressed – is an ASC one and the same thing as ‘enlightenment’? From the above, the answer is plainly, yes. Though, in the quote you posted from Richard, he does seem to contradict this view:
I think we are agreed that enlightenment only occurs when the ego is permanently expunged, as happened to Richard in 1981 and, from what I have read, this seems to be generally accepted.
VINEETO: Those who know by their own experience use the word enlightenment when referring to the permanent Altered State of Consciousness, the death of the ego, the expansion into Being. While one can revert to normal from a temporary Altered State of Consciousness because the ego is not permanently extinct, Enlightenment is an irreversible, permanent state where the feelings run rampant, now uncontrolled by any personal self or ego. Vis:
There is, however, a vast diversity of how the word is used in New Age spiritual circles. On one of the lists, where Richard occasionally writes, I found the following correspondence –
For me, it is enough to have sufficient experiential knowledge of what I need to avoid – the instinctual grasp for ‘my’ psychological and psychic survival experienced in an Altered State of Consciousness. Now, from a state of Virtual Freedom, any Altered State of Consciousness would be dilapidation and has most definitely lost all of its former seduction of grandeur. (...)
VINEETO: My sole interest is to eliminate all of my ‘self’, both the normal ‘I’ and spiritual ‘I’, in order to be the actual I, ‘what I am’, this flesh-and-blood body brimming with sense organs. As such, any experience that is not a PCE, however unusual or seductive, needs to be thoroughly investigated. That’s what makes the pursuit of Actual Freedom so simple.
The difference between the spiritual search and actualism is that spiritual people give great significance to a temporary absence of the ego in a out-of-the-ordinary experience, Satori or ASC, while for an actualist such absence of the ego only signifies the unabated and uncontrolled presence of the soul, the animal-instinctual part of the identity. Whenever one removes only one’s personal ‘self’, the ‘ego’, with one’s ‘soul’, the animal-instinctual ‘self’, still intact, this will result, by its very nature, in the ‘soul’ running amok, unfettered by a personal ‘self’, inevitably evolving into an impersonal ‘Self’.
Given Richard’s experience of going through enlightenment and struggling to come out of it into the actual world, it is now an unnecessary, arduous and convoluted enterprise to unwittingly allow oneself to become enlightened and then torturously endeavour to free oneself of enlightenment ... ... in order to become actually free.
In actualism one incrementally dismantles and eliminates both ego and soul, both one’s personal ‘self’ and the instinctual passions until both components of the identity become extinct in one great finale – bingo.
ALAN: On further investigation, I discovered a belief lurking in the depths – that it seems to be just as difficult to attain a condition of actual freedom as it is to ‘achieve’ enlightenment.
VINEETO: I’d like to throw in my observation that achieving enlightenment is peanuts compared to becoming actually and permanently free from the human condition. Why do you think hundreds of people have become enlightened in the last millennia while Richard is still the only one who is actually free?
ALAN: Because only a handful (measured in the hundreds, at most) of people have, so far, even heard of actual freedom, let alone investigated it?
VINEETO: The point I was trying to make is that actual freedom has only be discovered a few years ago for the simple reason that no one had dared to question everything, both the ego and the soul, whereas many have dared to question the ego and then aimed and settled for the delusion of enlightenment. An actual freedom from the human condition has always been available – it is only that Richard was the first to dare to question everything.
ALAN: By Richard’s account, achieving the delusion of enlightenment is much more difficult than accepting what actually exists.
VINEETO: ‘Accepting what actually exists’ is a spiritual term promoting the idea that the ‘I’ which resists to ‘what actually exists’ transforms into the ‘I’ which accepts ‘what actually exists’. And J. Krishnamurti for one made it very clear what is meant by ‘what actually exists’ –
In the process of actualism I am not aiming at ‘accepting’ ‘what actually exists’ but I dismantle the entity that prevents me from experiencing the perfection that is always already here. Only when the entity is not, does this perfection become apparent. For ‘me’, the social-instinctual entity, it is much easier to become enlightened than to disappear off the stage forever – that’s the very reason why nobody has done it before Richard.
VINEETO: And to add my own experience as evidence – some six months into my practice of actualism I arrived at an altered state of consciousness that had all the elements of enlightenment and only Richard’s strong warning not to run aground on the Rock of Enlightenment and rigorous sincerity saved me from entering permanent delusion.
ALAN: Yes, the Glamour and the Glory and the Glitz is a mighty attractive proposition for ‘me’ when the only alternative is oblivion.
VINEETO: For me, the only way to deflate this ‘mighty attractive proposition’ was to experience an altered state of consciousness with my wits intact and get as much information out of it as possible. Because I was able to both experience and observe this deluded state, I knew by my own experience that an ASC is indeed a poor choice compared to a pure consciousness experience. For me, this clear experiential observation was the end of the attraction of ‘the Glamour and the Glory and the Glitz’ and the rock of enlightenment eventually disappeared over the horizon. (...)
VINEETO: ... it is not ‘just as difficult’ but it requires much more sincerity and far more ploughing into the depth of one’s psyche to become actually free from the human condition in toto than it does to become enlightened. After all, in the identity-swapping fantasy of enlightenment one is merely replacing a shoddy ego with a grand soul, comparable to swapping a rusty old Morris Minor for a brand-new Rolls Royce, whereas for actual freedom ‘I’ am required to persistently and willingly whittle away at my very ‘being’ until ‘I’ arrive at a point where ‘my’ immolation is inevitable.
ALAN: As above, it is a mightily attractive proposition for ‘me’. This does not, however, mean that an actual freedom is more illusive than ‘enlightenment’ – merely that the seduction of ‘enlightenment’ will be apparent (and a pitfall) to all those who earnestly investigate the possibility of actual freedom.
VINEETO: I know by experience that it is possible to get past this ‘mightily attractive proposition for ‘me’’ by examining experientially the mighty feelings of attraction as compared to the actuality experienced in a PCE long before ‘self’-immolation. The other point is that if you have done a thorough demolition job on your spiritual beliefs, the idea of ‘getting out of it’ by escaping into an imaginary Greater Reality is seen to be patent nonsense. It may be attractive in theory but the more you progress in demolishing your ‘self’ the more you delight in the sensory experiences of the physical world.
RESPONDENT: My I ask then what ego should be left there for the continuation of actualism process?
VINEETO: Just enough not to become enlightened, of course.
RESPONDENT: What social conditioning and/or belief systems should be left there for the continuation of actualism process?
VINEETO: None. When I started the actualism practice and began to investigate some of my core beliefs, it often felt as if the carpet was pulled from under my feet as my worldview fell apart piece by piece. Some of the time this resulted in a pure consciousness experience but other times the shake-up lead to an altered state of consciousness. As Richard had sufficiently warned me of the trap of enlightenment I decided to consciously explore my altered states when and as they happened in order to find out where a realization/ a PCE forks off into an ASC and why, and in order to explore how I can be sufficiently certain to recognize the trap and avoid it on future occasions. It was a fascinating and worthwhile exploration in its own right and gave me valuable insight into spiritualism and the state of enlightenment but I have to say that it was only because of stubborn determination to not stop half way that I was able to escape the seductive grandeur of these extraordinary experiences. Nowadays, altered states of consciousness don’t even arise any more as this territory is comprehensively explored and found wanting and I can get on with thoroughly enjoying being alive.
RESPONDENT: I’m mostly interested in avoiding spiritual enlightenment, and am becoming aware of the instinctual drive to that place once some of my social identity has been resolved, once an affective feeling comes together with dissociation.
VINEETO: Yep, I know that one from my own experiences. What I did was deliberately go into several of those altered states in order to explore them inside out. After that they didn’t hold any more secrets and lost their attraction as I had already experienced something infinitely better.
RESPONDENT: I feel that if I’ll let go all my beliefs and truths that will cause a spiritual enlightenment, since I won’t be left with anything to ‘stand on’, and won’t have any concept left.
VINEETO: Well, in spiritual enlightenment one still has a whole lot of beliefs and truths, more so than before, in fact. But you are right about eventually having no concepts left – in the process of actualism they are one by one replaced by solid tangible facts.
RESPONDENT: My question is, what should be left of my ego – social identity and belief systems to avoid the spiritual enlightenment, and safely continue on the actualism path?
VINEETO: I don’t retain any particular bit of ego on purpose. Simply by choosing not to fall into the trap of enlightenment the last bit of ego will only go together with the last bit of soul … when I become actually free.
RESPONDENT: Is a mere understanding of the issue is sufficient enough?
RESPONDENT: O.K. people, what was this? One day, thought saw that is was in a closed circuit of thought and was therefore fundamentally limited. I had a mental image of a circle completing itself down in the corner of some space and then (my mind?) was released into VAST EMPTINESS. No feelings or bodily sensations occurred but I was in amazement at the VAST EMPTINESS. That night, asleep, no dreams just VAST EMPTINESS. It was like I had my nose right up against VAST EMPTINESS. Then the next day vast emptiness went away.
I couldn’t understand it until I read Richard saying that the limitation of thought is that it cannot know itself apperceptively. That’s the ‘fundamentally limited’ part of my description. I didn’t have thought divided into ‘reflective, contemplative ‘ and ‘instinctual, emotional’ back then (or am I misunderstanding the way Richard sometimes speaks of thought?) it was just thought in general, all thought.
This wasn’t like a PCE where I am securely in this moment of eternal time. I have had PCEs of short (one minute) durations before and after this vast emptiness thing. I don’t know if affect gets in there and turns it into an ASC or what. I am about three weeks in to using HAIETMOBA? At first I just looked for bodily tensions and relaxed the tense areas, an easy thing to do except that they reinstate so persistently. Now I am also having that inquiry include my ‘heart’ but most of the time I can’t tell if anything is going on! I would appreciate any helpful commentary.
VINEETO: I won’t endeavour to analyse your experience, because that is something only you can do yourself by investigating whether your experience was either affective (ASC) or ‘self’-less (PCE). There are descriptions of PCEs on the website which might be useful to you in making your own assessments.
However I am inspired by Peter’s description of the different ways a PCE can be triggered to say something about the affective altered states of consciousness, which may also be of use to your explorations.
Given that an altered state of consciousness is always an intense feeling experience, they are a wholly ‘self’-centred experience, to some extent varying in character from individual to individual dependant upon the person’s social identity. Nevertheless, from my own experience and from what I have read so far about other people’s altered states I have determined two distinct types of affective altered states.
The first type of ASC I would call the ‘compassion-glory’ type. At the onset of the ASC fear temporarily abates to the extent that intense feelings of love and glory fill one’s chest, expanding the sense of ‘self’ beyond its normal limits. Telltale signs of passion and imagination run amok include all-encompassing feelings of love for all and feelings of Oneness with all of Existence, Divinity or Creation. The expansion of the ‘self’ into a ‘Self’ often results in heightened perceptivity of psychic vibes or currents, which is experienced as a revelation of the ‘Truth’ and the disclosure of ‘my’ specially chosen role in the ‘Greater Reality’. ‘My’ centre of gravity moves from the head to the heart, so to speak, fearful feelings are sublimated by a new-found empowerment and an overproduction of all the ‘good’ feelings, turning feelings such as love, compassion, bliss, oneness, beauty and truth into capital letter experiences. In short, in this type of ASC, a fearful and confused identity is transformed, by way of a passionate imagination run amok, into a powerful and all-knowing Identity.
The second type of ASC I would call the ‘far-out-there’ type because it is typified by a loss of all sense of perspective as well as any remaining sense of earthly reality. In such an experience the ‘Self’ is aggrandized to such an extent that it feels as though there are no boundaries to ‘Me’. ‘I am Everything and Everything is Me’ describes the feeling of far-out-there-ness that occurs in this ASC experience of Cool Nothingness. ‘I’ am so expanded that ‘I’ am the whole universe and this imaginary universe is then coloured by ‘my’ affective flavour, either ‘cool’ or ‘empty’ or ‘beautiful’ or some other affective experience.
I found this type of ASC harder to detect as being a delusion because such an ASC feels as though it is a ‘self’-less experience. When I had such an experience, my ‘self’ was transformed – blown out of all proportion – beyond recognition and the resultant feeling of ‘emptiness’ seemed to be not of ‘my’ making. What helped me to get my head out of the clouds and my feet back on the ground was when I opened my eyes and had to recognize that I was in fact laying on a couch in a room with four walls, that I was surrounded by material things that were anything but Nothingness. Then I knew that Nothingness and Emptiness were but my calenturous thoughts.
While such explorations into the realms of fantasy are fascinatingly alluring and instinctually seductive – once you tasted the genuine article, a ‘self’-less pure consciousness experience, then any affective altered states of consciousness and any imaginary changes of identity are seen for what they are – out-and-out fantasies.
RESPONDENT: It is a very brief description of the ‘social identity’ and it happened to me to be removed in a short period of time.
VINEETO: What you have described in your first letter was not only a removal of your social identity but from your description it was evident that this temporary vacuum was immediately filled with emotion – it became an affective experience of ‘godliness’, also known as an Altered State of Consciousness. In such an ASC one feels that one knows the Truth, one feels oneself to be all-knowing, all-powerful, one-with-everything, filled with Love for all, compassionate to every living being and above and beyond all normal human experience. I once had such a powerful ASC that lasted for two days, and having learnt from Richard about its pitfalls, I used the experience to investigate exactly how my intelligence and my sensibility was devastatingly effected by these aggrandizing emotions. I was relieved when the experience was finally over and I was able to again think clearly and reasonably without being driven by feelings of grandeur and delusion. You can find the full description of the experience on our web-site.
You have described the experience ‘to be removed’ from your social identity in an earlier post –
In contrast to such altered states of consciousness, a pure consciousness experience is a non-affective ‘self’-less pure sensate experience where all of ‘me’, both ego and soul, both my social identity and my instinctual being are temporarily in abeyance. In a PCE there is no identity present to feel like a God living in an ethereal other-worldly realm. God, although everyone on the planet believes in him (or her) in some way or other, is nothing but a passionate imagination that only exists in people’s heads and hearts. In a pure consciousness experience one is one’s sense organs brimming with delight, wallowing in the enormous abundance of sensual experience that is perpetually here while one is at the same time fully aware of being an aware sensate and reflective human being.
This bare awareness of being aware, apperception, is the fundamental key to a pure consciousness experience – both coincide with each other.
With an investigative awareness running – how am I experiencing this moment of being alive? – one is able to examines one’s affective feelings, emotions and instinctual passions as they occur. The longer one practices such investigative awareness, the less one’s feelings, emotions and passions interfere with one’s sensuous attentiveness of being alive at this very moment – an awareness that simply registers sensate experiencing.
This sensate awareness is not something one can practice or cultivate in isolation from removing the affective feelings that interfere with the simple delight of being alive. Given sufficient practice of the actualism method, an ongoing idle sensate attentiveness to being alive can momentarily turn into an awareness of being aware, which is apperception, and a pure consciousness experience takes place.
RESPONDENT: I was wondering if you’re aware of the fact that many of the principles and ideas evoked by AF can be found in other practices, and when I say that I refer to fourth-way ideas. For me they are strikingly familiar.
VINEETO: Allow me to answer this question at the end of this post.
RESPONDENT: Apart from this, I cannot figure out how Richard managed to ‘escape’ from his real ‘I’ (here in the sense of God, Self, etc.), that is if he has had One (which is the equivalent of saying one’s enlightened). So if you please can explain. I had the experience of being enlightened, although for only three hours, and it seems to me to be Impossible to exist something beyond that, as this state contains all possibilities.
VINEETO: Yes, I know from my own experience that while feeling enlightened it does seem ‘to be Impossible to exist something beyond that, as this state contains all possibilities’ – but it only seems that way.
RESPONDENT: Another aspect of that experience was that the ‘I’ was not mine, but belonged to a person I very much loved; the identity called No 32 was not there during the period.
VINEETO: Could ‘a person I very much loved’ by chance be another name for God, the glorious ‘Being’ who replaced ‘the identity called No 32’? That would make you about God number 5872.
RESPONDENT: Was not this a PCE, as in my memory it has all + many more of the characteristics attributed by AF language for a PCE? I must say I don’t know which were the exact causes for that, maybe the collapse of my identity, or maybe the suffering involved, or maybe the love played an important part in the process.
VINEETO: The description of your ‘experience of being enlightened’ that it had ‘all + many more of the characteristics attributed by AF language for a PCE’ together with your comment that ‘‘I’ … belonged to a person I very much loved’ clearly point to an affective ‘Self’-loving experience whereas a pure consciousness experience is a non-affective ‘self’-less (and ‘Self’-less) experience. Your comments about feeling the collapse of ‘Suffering’ and the importance of ‘love’ are also words that describe an affective experience.
RESPONDENT: All I know is that it Happened and was real.
VINEETO: Such an experience seems very, very real while it is happening – all the good feelings come rushing in and seem to overpower the bad feelings … and these feelings are so much grander than ‘my’ normal experiencing that they are experienced as very real. However, Enlightenment, although experienced as very real, is a feeling and not actual. (see The Actual Freedom Trust Library for descriptions of fact and feeling, real and actual).
RESPONDENT: What I don’t understand about AF is why do you ignore the fact (for me) that when this identity collapses, someone else gradually takes the space, and that is our true Self.
VINEETO: The writings of actualism do not ‘ignore the fact … that when this identity collapses, someone else gradually takes the space, and that is our true Self.’ It’s just that a ‘Self’, by whatever name, is a delusion born out of an illusionary self – or to put it another way – the idea of God is nothing but a fairy tale and to imagine oneself to be a God is to live in a ‘self’-created dream-like state.
RESPONDENT: Why do you ignore the Self?
VINEETO: I have come to know the ‘Self’ in an extensive Altered State of Consciousness but I have also had numerous pure consciousness experiences when the ‘Self’ and the ‘self’ (the identity) is temporarily absent. An actualist does not ‘ignore the Self’ but knows by experience that there is a Third Alternative to being normal or being spiritual.
RESPONDENT: Before having that experience I knew nothing about religion or have anything in common with any spiritual practice. I’ve read your posts (and I fully agree with you) about some spiritual teachers, about their pretences, the lies and the hypocrisy involved as I was also part of a group. It must be made a clear difference about what each one of us understands by the term ‘enlightenment’, as this term has been widely used and may now signify many different things. The best description I can find is in the term ‘4th state of consciousness’ as described in fourth-way terminology. I would also like to ask Richard if he understands the same this as I do by ‘enlightenment’? (google, yahoo ::: ‘fourth way’, ‘4th state’).
VINEETO: ‘The 4th state of consciousness’ is another description for enlightenment. To search for the ‘true Self’ is spiritual, meta-physical practice because it involves the belief in something non-physical – the Self.
RESPONDENT: What I’ve found out was the truth that none of these present self-named, entitled enlightened beings are at present in such a state, at best in an altered state of consciousness.
VINEETO: Given that ‘self’-aggrandizement is the very core of enlightenment, it is common amongst enlightened people or wannabe enlightened people to dismiss all other enlightened beings as ‘not quite enlightened’. ‘My Truth’ is a highly affective experience, and a very competitive one at that.
RESPONDENT: What I want to say is that this so-called Self, Absolute, I, God really exists, it’s alive and kicking and that the state in which you discover him is not an altered state of consciousness but the ultimate state available for humans. To be or not to be a bee?
VINEETO: There is no doubt that according to ancient wisdom and common belief the experience of enlightenment is ‘the ultimate state available for humans’. Nevertheless, this ancient 5000-year-old experiment of achieving Higher Consciousness or God-consciousness is significantly flawed, i.e. it has failed to bring anything resembling peace on earth between human beings, and all the wars and murders and domestic violence and torture keep going on.
To recognize and admit to this long history of continual failure is to begin to initiate a change in one’s perception – a 180 degrees turn, away from all the ‘self’-aggrandizing spiritual beliefs and practices towards a down-to-earth investigation into one’s beliefs, feelings and instinctual passions that make ‘me’ tick.
VINEETO: Now in response to your first question –
RESPONDENT: I was wondering if you’re aware of the fact that many of the principles and ideas evoked by AF can be found in other practices, and when I say that I refer to fourth-way ideas. For me they are strikingly familiar.
VINEETO: Given that you said that ‘this so-called Self, Absolute, I, God really exists’ and that this is ‘the ultimate state available for humans’, it is understandable that you don’t consider a third alternative possible.
A third alternative to being normal or being spiritual only comes into view when one is deeply dissatisfied with either of the traditional ‘self’-centred and ‘self’-obsessed states of consciousness .
For those who are dissatisfied with their life as-it-is and who are suss of the spiritual world, the Actual Freedom website points to the fact that there is an actual world right here under our very noses, a world which can only be discovered when one leaves the self and the Self behind.
RESPONDENT: Hey Vineeto, your comments are also welcome in regard to the different types of ‘knowledge’ derived from consciousness experiencing, as I remember you described both an almost full-blown ASC and a PCE
VINEETO: Any ‘knowledge’ from full-blown altered states of consciousness is purely affective, and as such subjective, as you may remember from your own experience. In a spiritual altered state one usually feels as though one has entered into an ethereal reality. Whilst in this greater reality one feels as though one is above and beyond the social morals and ethics and as such is one prone to not only feel compassion for those ‘poor humans’ who are still enslaved by society’s rules and regulations but also feels that one knows all about this part of the human conditioning temporarily left behind – the outer layer of the ‘self’. In such a state one can have access to what are termed the ‘Akashic Records’, an expression to describe contents of the psychic web in which all sentient beings are more or less entrapped and entangled. In an altered state one can be psychically sensitive to what humans through the ages have affectively thought (all of the accumulated truths and wisdoms) and felt (all of the accumulated suffering) … and the power and glory of this feeling of omniscience and of being one with the ‘higher Being(s)’ is the trap that no enlightened being so far has been able to escape from, let alone even wanted to escape from … with one exception.
A PCE is very different. One can have a PCE without much thinking happening – so delightful and magical is the direct sensate experience of the actual world that the notion to take notes as it were rarely occurs. Because I was on a quest to find out about the human condition and what to do with my life, during each PCE that I had after encountering actualism I was careful to take note of what was different in a PCE to normal experiencing and to ASCs and as a consequence had direct insights into what exactly is the difference between a ‘self’-centred and a ‘self’-less experience. My intent in a PCE was to gain as much insight about life without ‘self’ as possible and consequently I obtained valuable information that I could use once the PCE faded. The ‘knowledge’ I gained in each PCE was about that which is actual, i.e. that which remains when the affective faculty responsible for both my automorphic worldview and humanity’s anthropocentric view of the universe itself does not interfere with direct experiencing.
Vineeto’s & Richard’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.