Selected Correspondence Vineeto
RESPONDENT: (Thinking aloud, welcoming feedback/criticism)
At this point, virtually everything about AF makes sense to me intellectually. (The exceptions are minor). All remaining reservations have a common thread: the fear of inhumanity & madness, the fear of losing capacity for fellow-feeling, compassion, intuition, empathy, etc. (Same old shit that everyone on this list must be facing – or dithering about – in their own way).
VINEETO: When you think straight about the ‘fear of losing capacity for fellow-feeling’ – and this is what it takes for me to eventually overcome a deep-seated fear – then you will find that there is obviously a difference between fellow-*feeling* aka compassion and recognizing fellow-ship as in actually caring for and considering one’s fellow human beings who I actually meet.
Take a situation where you arrive as the first at a road-accident – you would stop, secure the road, assess immediate danger such as fire, inform police and ambulance, assist the people involved in the accident with first aid and do whatever is necessary to alleviate your fellow man’s or woman’s situation. In an actual situation the course of action is usually obvious and often feelings of compassion don’t arise until afterwards, as they would interfere with doing what needs to be done.
Now meeting someone who needs help at a road accident is a rather rare situation in order to practice actual caring – help as action rather than feeling sympathy – whereas when I started to pay attention to my daily routine of interactions with people, and became more sensitive how my words and actions where affecting not just myself but even more so my fellow human beings, I could easily see in what way I could replace a feeling compassion for the suffering all of human kind (which has no tangible effect whatsoever except on me who is feeling it) with an active and tangible change in the way I treat people in my immediate surrounding.
Take driving – I’m sure you know the difference between being followed by an angry, impatient or even reckless driver and a reasonable sensible driver who drives according the given conditions and considers his/her fellow drivers.
Take work – I’m sure you enjoy work much more when your colleagues are pleasant, polite, forthcoming, cooperative, considerate or even happy rather than grumpy, don’t want to be here, sullen, competitive, petty, bossy, bored and so on.
Take living together – it was always my dream to live in perfect peace and harmony with a man but prior to actualism I never managed to do so. Now not only do I get the benefit myself from having sorted out my emotional problems, my partner equally benefits from living with a happy woman who is actively committed to an equitable harmonious partnership.
In short, fact is that people actually tangibly benefit from me being happy and harmless whilst in my pre-actualism years they may have *felt* temporarily comforted by my expressed sympathy and compassion but given that one cannot change the human condition for somebody else, feelings were all I had to offer. This insight was the very reason why I left my job as a social worker and went off to the East searching for the solution to the riddle of life.
Additionally, paying ongoing attention to my own feelings and passions had the result that I became far less ‘self’-centred, ‘self’-oriented and busy being involved in my own problems and was therefore far more able to actually notice other people around me as my fellow people living out their own lives as opposed to seeing them as players on the stage of ‘my’ life and automatically classifying them as competitors or possible benefactors, as a business opportunity, as a possible love-interest, as a friend or an enemy, as a co-spiritualist or as aliens, and so on.
The process of actualism is not one big heroic jump into oblivion, not at the start anyway, but about *practically* doing something about all the little things in daily life that prevent me from being harmless and considerate.
RESPONDENT No 60 to Richard: Nothing happens to set off an instance of my problem with the method. Practising the method itself induces feelings that would not otherwise be present. All I have to do to is start asking myself ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’, and pretty soon it sets off the feedback loop I’ve written about several times now. This does not happen in daily life; it is caused by practising the method. I’ve just this minute been writing about this again here <snip>
RESPONDENT to Richard: (...) I’d like to hear some reasonable explanation of why from an experienced actualist.
VINEETO: (...) I’m talking about nothing other but good old pride.
RESPONDENT: I can’t speak for No 60, but I know there is still pride operating in me.
RESPONDENT to Richard: While wishing to know why another is having problems with the method may seem unrelated to my own practice of actualism, in this case I’ve had some experiences that mirror No 60’s.
VINEETO: As you probably know from experience in your line of work – sympathizing with a bad habit, someone else’s or one’s own, only serves as an encouragement for maintaining it.
RESPONDENT: I have witnessed that before. Empathizing with a common problem on the flipside often creates the opportunity to move past it.
VINEETO: I am reminded what you wrote to me in another post –
To feel empathy for someone’s problems is the very core of ‘love is the answer’, in fact empathy is considered to be the highest form of love one can feel and love, empathy and compassion are highly prized for being the cure to all the problems of humankind.
What I found was that whenever I made the effort to understand someone else’s problem emotionally I always ended up only feeling their feeling (empathize with them) but not understanding the problem. Furthermore, I lost my happiness, my clarity of thought and my previous understanding of the human condition in direct proportion to the depth of my empathy.
The reason is obvious in hindsight – I was not only empathizing with the other having this particular problem, I was in fact re-feeling my own problem of the past (in order to be able to empathize), which means that I then felt as sad, angry or confused as the person with whom I was empathizing with, which in turn reinforced the validity and the apparent value of having this particular feeling. This habit of being hooked into feeling sad, angry or confused because someone else is feeling sad, angry or confused often happened despite the fact that I had previously recognized and tackled the particular problem and seen the senselessness of it.
Rather than nipping the feeling in the bud I was, over and over, seduced by the lure of feeling empathy for another’s woes to take yet another dive into sorrow or anger or worry or whatever feeling the other person was stricken with. Over the years I gradually learnt that I was doing neither myself nor the other person a favour when I empathized with their problem (which is but one form of patting each other on the back for feeling bad), because the solution to each and every emotional problem is to do whatever it takes to become free from its grip and then do whatever it takes to remain free from its grip.
VINEETO: As for the empathy issue that you mentioned in your letter to Gary –
U.G. Krishnamurti gave an excellent example that even the feeling of ‘true’ empathy does nothing to alleviate another’s pain and discomfort and he explains how this feeling prevented him from responding in a sensible manner to a situation –
If one believes, as U.G. Krishnamurti does, that ‘consciousness cannot be divided’, then this means one believes there is no way out of the collective mess that is humanity.
I found that the best I can do for my fellow human beings is to relieve them from my malice and my sorrow – this way, not only do I stop bludgeoning and burdening everyone I come in contact with but I actually reduce the amount of malice and sorrow in the world in the only person I can change – myself.
As for ‘failing my fellow human beings’ – yes, I have become a traitor to the ‘real’ world as well as to the spiritual world, giving up finding solutions and admitting to failure. But it is important to note that an actualist fails humanity and not his or her fellow human beings. Given that an instinct-driven humanity is, always has been and always will be, a failed institution, it makes eminent sense to bail out, as it were. The only way out of the madness of the ‘real’ world is to get out and that means that I stubbornly and persistently decline to play the game of passionate survival that everyone else is playing. I am abandoning humanity and humanity’s problems and, as such leaving my ‘self’ behind.
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.
VINEETO: Later I discovered the second layer of sorrow – compassion. Once my personal sorrow had disappeared out of my life and everything was running smoothly due to my rapidly diminishing social identity, I became more and more sensitive to, and aware of, the immensity of human suffering and sorrow. Compassion, the bittersweet feeling arising out of the nurture instinct, is very seductive in that is fulfils the need to belong without the tedious self-centred struggles of day-to-day sorrowful relationships. One simply lies on the couch and, watching the stark news in the world, feels connected to all the suffering people out there. Of course, nobody but me receives any benefit from this feeling – which proves, despite common belief, that compassion is an utterly selfish feeling. When all is said and done it is simply so much more sensible to be happy and harmless – even if stepping out of the human program is frightening at times.
GARY: I do not relate strongly to the feeling of compassion. Perhaps a little bit though. I have become more aware of the extent of people’s unhappiness. It has struck me often how unhappy people look as they go about their business. If you even just look at the faces around you, you will see how miserable, unhappy, depressed, or angry people look. As I have become more aware of these feelings, emotions, and their associated basic instincts in myself, I seem to see it more in other people.
VINEETO: The less I became busy with my own worries, the more I was able to extend my range of attention – which meant that I also became increasingly aware of the amount of suffering and malice there is all around. In my spiritual years I had stuck my head in the clouds because I did not want to cope with the feelings of desperation that are the inevitable result when one first acknowledges one’s own situation and the situation of one’s fellow human beings. One then usually escapes into the ‘trap of compassion’ and is seduced to be content with the compassionate feeling of Oneness and Love for all and misses out on the opportunity of doing something ‘hands-on’ about malice and sorrow – in oneself.
GARY: For instance, you stated:
The longer I practice actualism, the less and less inclined I am to be concerned with what is ‘fair’, both for myself and for others. My conception over the years of what is fair has shifted and changed, but the basic thing is that I am not interested in nursing grievances and harbouring resentment any longer. If I do notice a grievance or a resentment popping up, it only means there is some underlying belief that needs to be examined and demolished. I am sure that to those who march and labour for social justice, my lack of passion to aid those who are hungry or who are oppressed would appear as a dangerous and self-serving form of complacency and co-option by ‘the system’ but I am burned out on feeling righteous indignation over a pet cause and I have seen the disastrous consequences of defending a righteous cause only too clearly.
VINEETO: I fully agree with what you say. My comment that the system may not be fair was an acknowledgment of an ideal that has no existence outside of the human psyche. Life is not fair. The laws of nature favour the survival of the fittest, whether it be it the strongest or most fiendish, or the most sensible and intelligent. The ideal of fairness is purely a man-made ethical value and has nothing to do with what is the inherent nature of life on this planet.
However, I found the concept of unfairness to be one of the hardest things to come to terms with and I am glad that you brought up the issue. It is my ideal that life should be fair which sometimes triggers off traces of sorrow, compassion, pity or righteousness when I am watching reports of starving people in Africa, victims of landmines in northern Asia or victims of senseless violence – in short, people suffering physically through no fault of their own, i.e. not self-inflicted.
However, to suffer emotionally on top of any physical suffering one may have only exacerbates the situation. Emotional suffering is always ‘self’-inflicted in that only the emotional-instinctual entity, the ‘self’, and never the flesh-and-blood body harbours sorrow, grief and anguish. Only the ‘self’ harbours malice, revenge and resentment, which not only maintains and perpetuates emotional suffering but is also the cause of untold physical suffering. Far, far more people are killed and maimed by human beings fighting and feuding with other human beings than by any natural causes such as disease, earthquake, fire, famine or flood.
Which brings the issue of fairness back to precisely what you said – ‘the basic thing is that I am not interested in nursing grievances and harbouring resentment any longer’. By shifting one’s focus in such a way I stop grieving, whatever the reason for it may be, I stop resenting people or things, and I stop being angry or indignant, whatever the reason.
It is really very, very simple. It might take a while to fully grasp it, considering that it goes against all of one’s trained socialisation and all of one’s innate instinctual passion, but once the fact is understood that the only person I can change is me, it becomes blatantly obvious that changing oneself irrevocably is the only sensible and only possible solution to ending human misery.
IRENE: To me compassion is the full understanding through experiencing all the accompanying emotions of a particularly testing aspect of life, that this is what it is to be grieving, or to be angry or to intensely hate or to be desolate, lonely, utterly discouraged in all of life etc. and to accept it as belonging to the all-round human experience in order to become wise.
VINEETO: I have experienced others being compassionate towards me and me feeling compassionate towards others, and I see that it insidiously perpetuates the pattern we humans live in. Trying to fix the problem in somebody else instead of getting rid of ‘me’ only continues sorrow, superiority, fear, feeling the victim and helplessness in the face of human suffering. Whenever I have dared to watch the atrocious happenings in the world without the soothing cover of compassion and pity, those murderous and vicious actions of us humans always strike like a SledgeHammer – and force me to do something about it. As I am the only person who can make myself free from malice and sorrow, this is what I have to do. I cannot free anybody else from their intrinsic malice or sorrow. But I can dare the journey and thus prove that it is possible. It might encourage others to apply the method that works.
ALAN: I have spent the last few days exploring sorrow. It is something I had not experienced for quite a while and thought it may have been eliminated. I was wrong. Last Wednesday my wife and I accepted we were keeping our dog alive for us and not for him and so, my companion of the last 7 years is no more. Many of my recent insights, discoveries and PCEs happened during my daily walks with him.
I have experienced that love, or rather the loss of it, is indeed a physical, as well as psychological, pain. Despite intensive ‘rooting around’ I can find no reason for the sorrow that has overwhelmed me at times. I see the sense of loss, as in missing him being around and the loss of the enjoyment he used to bring. I read again Peter’s chapter on the death of his son, but have not yet discovered any sense of this death confronting me with the actuality of my own death. What I have seen (got) is that sympathy and compassion only perpetuate sorrow, which is so obvious once one ‘sees’ it – how can they do anything else? Following on from this, I would like to explore something Irene wrote to Vineeto a little while ago:
IRENE: The richness, the depth of each human feeling reveals the understanding of what it is to be a human being in such an empirical, intimate way that it is later instantly recognized in a fellow human being who is going through the same emotional, human experience and who can then be met by compassion, that very kind understanding that you will have enjoyed with another, not only when life was being particularly difficult or sad, but also when you wanted to share your utmost joy or love.
ALAN: Now my experience over the last several days is that compassion only served to perpetuate sorrow, so I would ask Irene how her compassion (assuming she is feeling such for me over the loss of my friend) is going to assist me?
VINEETO: Yes, I know sorrow. Sometimes it has been raging through me that I thought I would never be happy again in all my life. And yet, a few hours or a few days later, when it has done its thing and I have understood what I needed to understand, sorrow has disappeared without an emotional scar, and hardly a memory at all.
RESPONDENT: He [Richard] has eliminated the possibility of love, compassion, and true freedom – not just freedom ‘from’ something. The implications of true freedom are unknown. What Krishnamurti pointed out is that the human mind is limited and with that mind you cannot know the unknown. It appears that you have accepted the limitation of the human mind and the limited bodily functions to be all that there is the possibility of being and labelled it ‘actualism,’ just another form of belief. I don’t understand why people continue to accept a belief especially after they say they have discovered the falsity of believing.
VINEETO: Not so. If the unknown is beyond the limitations of the body and beyond limitations of the mind it must be a feeling-only imaginary state. This is evidenced by the thousands of different gods and religions throughout history and the thousands of God-men and awakened teachers on the planet at the moment, all of who have differing versions of ‘the unknown’ . The unknown is not only amorphous but polymorphous.
Love and compassions are passionate feelings and upon close inspection I found them to be sugar-coated, i.e. transcended, lust for power over others. But it took a lot of guts and a deep plunge into my psyche to question what I had considered to be the pinnacle of human virtue. However, when I acknowledged the fact that any belief, spiritual or otherwise, could only be believed and affectively experienced by ‘me’, the limited entity inside this body, this very acknowledgement opened the door to another dimension, the limitless pure magnificence of the actual world.
Don’t you remember one of your pure consciousness experiences where there is no ‘self’ extant – where, for a short period of time, there are neither emotions operating nor any identity present? In such pure consciousness experiences I have discovered the world beyond belief, the purity and perfection that is normally obscured by of our ‘self’. Once I popped through into the actual world I knew without doubt that ‘this is it’, it has always been here, I simply could not see it. A PCE is an experience beyond any doubt, it is an experience unpolluted by human nature, unrestricted by instinctual passions and ‘self’-centred, or ‘Self’-fixated, thoughts. In a PCE one doesn’t rely on belief at all but the very absence of belief makes it possible to experience something one has never experienced before.
U.G. ADMINISTRATOR: Have you ever watched a child dying of starvation? Its weak cries and vacant eyes, as it lies awaiting death? Have you ever walked past derelicts lying on the sidewalks, the stench of their rotting bodies wafting through the air as pedestrians step over them? Have you ever been raped by a stranger with a knife at your throat? Or had your toenails torn out one by one by some mad religious fanatic?
And all this without a thought of beauty, horror, fear, terror, judgment???
VINEETO: I am glad you are concerned about the suffering of other people. 160,000,000 killed in wars this century alone is sufficient evidence that something is terribly wrong with human beings. If you have a closer look, most of those wars were and are religious wars, people killing each other for their particular religious conviction and noble ideals. I know about the suffering both from experience of universal sorrow and from daily TV reports. Just the other day I saw ‘Oh, What a Lovely War’, a musical on World War I. 600,000 soldiers died on the English side alone, and at the end of the war they had gained no ground. The suffering of these soldiers was gut-wrenching, as they were living in trenches for no apparent reason but the questionable honour to die for the queen and country, in their sleepless nights listening to the cries of the wounded mates out in the fields. The survivors would even spare their wives and mothers about the horror-tales of war they had experienced.
But to have feelings of ‘beauty, horror, fear, terror’ about these facts doesn’t help anybody. ‘Horror, fear and terror’ is only an instinctual response that this might happen to me tomorrow. It won’t help me find and eliminate the cause of the violence and suffering. That you add ‘beauty’ to the list suggests the bittersweet feeling of compassion, which is just another word for ‘suffering together’ (common pathos). Compassion has been proclaimed the merciful solution to suffering but has only perpetuated it.
Mother Theresa is considered a great example of compassion, but all she did was feed and raise orphans to become a saint and be rewarded in heaven – while the pope is creating an unlimited supply of poor children with his prohibition of birth-control. I can see her compassion only as an extremely selfish behaviour. Or would you prefer the compassion of the Dalai Lama – his very title means ‘the Lord who looks down with compassion on the world of sentient beings’. In his ‘holy’ country the peasants starve while they work their butts off to pay for the dead Lamas to be replicated in gold – that is compassion! In Thailand and Vietnam, Buddhist monks have set themselves on fire for a compassionate cause, thus merely adding to the terror that was already happening.
It takes courage to step outside of all of humanity’s values and the ‘tried and failed’ solutions. Your particular solution suggests I should be feeling guilty for being happy, because other people are suffering. That would add yet another person to the already vast number of suffering people. Having spent 15 years on the spiritual path I have experienced the enormous impact those ‘solutions’ have on the continuation of suffering and confusion people are living in.
The reason for the confusion is that none of the spiritual teachers and enlightened beings have ever dared to question the soul or ‘being’. They all are content with exchanging the little ego with the grand ‘feeling one with the Universe’, exuding compassion for thousands of years, while every one of them teaches a different version of their particular way to bliss, redemption, paradise or enlightenment. The outcome has been poverty, religious wars and the generally accepted notion that the solution to the world’s suffering could only be found in afterlife or by turning away into the imaginary world of bliss beyond ego. To see the poverty, discrimination, disease, sexual repression and degradation of women in India alone tells enough about the impact and effect Eastern religions have on people’s lives.
That we are ‘feeling beings’ is held as the distinction between us and the rest of the animal world. This proud distinction unfortunately is founded on the instinctually produced feelings of malice and sorrow, for which we have invented antidotes of love and compassion. Our sorrow is based on a feeling of dread at its very core, and many people know only too well the spiral down from sorrow to despair to horror and finally dread. Suffering is accepted as an integral unchangeable part of the Human Condition and is even lauded as a noble trait. To suffer rightly or deeply is held in high esteem and often evokes a bitter-sweet feeling. Compassion or empathy is also held in high esteem. As humans we are subject to physical dangers, losses, ill-health, accidents, floods, fires, etc. which can cause pain. But to have and indulge in emotional suffering additional to the hardship is to compound the situation to such an extent that the feelings are usually far worse than dealing with the facts would be. Further, the feeling of sorrow usually leads to feelings of resentment, retribution, revenge or anger and this backlash is then maliciously directed at others who will then have to suffer, and they in turn feel ... and on, and on, and on, it has gone for centuries.
What I am talking about is the complete opposite, not feeling compassionate but eliminating the cause of suffering completely, not by trying to apply ‘no-thought’, but by ridding myself of the Human Condition, the emotions, beliefs and instincts. At last I can be without sorrow and malice, without authority and fear, without beliefs and imagination. This is not only tackling ‘the nature of thought’, as you say, but the nature of the animalistic instincts that every human being is born with. Now it is proven that it is possible to completely demolish the whole animal heritage, to rid oneself not only of ego but also of soul and instincts and become a happy and harmless human being for the first time in history.
Up until now everybody has tried in one way or another to wear the rose-coloured glasses of love, good and compassion over the grey-coloured glasses of hate, fear and sorrow. It has not worked. Fear, hate and sorrow are as much evident in the world and in everybody’s psyche as ever after three thousand years of spiritual practice. Why not, for a change, dare and remove both pairs of glasses and experience the physical world as the magical, fairy-tale and safe place it actually is. It is possible to rid oneself of the human qualities of ‘beauty, horror, fear, terror’, etc. and, without ego or soul, be completely innocent and harmless – one of 6 billion people on the planet, but not contributing to suffering and violence.
RESPONDENT: ...‘your care, which with pure love is compassion by the way’ ...
VINEETO: Compassion is a passion which binds the one who ‘needs’ compassion. The deal was that Osho gave his Compassion and I gave my devotion, which brought me to a point where I was even ready to die for him. At the height of the war against the fundamental Christians in Oregon, when rumours went around on the Ranch that the National Guards were on alarm and could attack any day, we were ready to lie down on the streets, have the tanks roll over us and be killed for love and protection for the Master. Can’t you see the power in it? Pure love is only an ideal, it is not pure at all. It is always a bargain.
Care, consideration and benevolence are not a relationship, they are not even a state of ‘being’. They are simply intrinsic to the human body, once the alien entity has been extinguished. They have no strings attached. I simply ‘wish you well’ in describing what I found out. What you do with it is completely your business.
Vineeto’s & Richard’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.