Selected Correspondence Vineeto
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: There is also underlying this a fear, now that I am abandoning ship, casting myself overboard, so to speak. I feel like a ship adrift without a rudder, without the controls of faith, hope, belief. There is also the conditioned fear or dread of some kind of divine punishment, as I am turning away from religion and spiritual teaching.
It’s an interesting trip!
VINEETO: It is indeed an interesting trip! This fear of abandoning ship, which I remember from my own process, is the very proof that something had actually changed and I was not simply replacing one belief with another. I didn’t understand the nature of the fear at the time, yet whenever I stopped to reconsider the sensibility of my choice for Actual Freedom I knew I was better off ‘without the rudder’ of the traditional ‘Tried and Failed’.
The dread of ‘divine punishment’ was very real to me for some time – ‘what if everyone is right after all and I end up in (Eastern) hell?’ Each time one steps away from humanity’s beliefs to stand on one’s own two feet, there is this mad feeling of ‘oh dear, what have I done?’ And yet, when discovering the actual underneath the belief, the actual is so self-evidently obvious that I always thought ‘how come I haven’t seen this before, how come nobody tells you about it, how come nobody else sees this?’
The psychic world of divine and evil, with its atavistic feelings and psychic power structures, is not to be dismissed lightly. It is not a small thing we are doing, stepping out of ancient psychic history and leaving behind at least 3,500 years of recorded superstition and belief, hope for heaven and fear of hell. I encountered fears of being burnt as a witch, expelled from the tribe or starved to death – which in not so recent history were not just psychic imagined fears. These fears all seem to be woven as an ancient memory in our brain cells and are automatically triggered the moment one dares to steps out of the tribal, religious or social group one has belonged to.
Two things always helped me to overcome those fear-attacks – one was the obvious fact that feelings are not actual. Nobody is actually persecuting me or physically threatening me. The other thing is the understanding that I am deliberately and actively dismantling my very ‘self’, all of ‘who I think and feel I am’ and of course that will rock the boat, it wouldn’t be an actual change if it didn’t! Then, the journey becomes really thrilling ...
VINEETO: This kind of doubt is nothing but a by-product of ‘self’-belief, believing in my ‘self’. I then understood that ‘me’ doubting myself is the cover-up and, as such, a furphy, keeping the belief in ‘me’ alive, and along with the belief, ‘me’, the believer.’
GARY: Yes, again, this is what I am relating to. There is the fear of death, of letting go, of ‘me’ dying, pulling the plug, so to speak. ‘I’ don’t want to die. I also noted, during a period of disturbance a few days ago at work, that I read a portion of Richards’ writing on the subject of what an Actual Freedom is. And I was curiously and powerfully affected when I read a statement of his to the effect that ‘I have no identity whatsoever’. I found myself repeating this sentence over and over to myself. The words had quite a calming effect on me at that point in time. The words, seemingly, blew the wind right out of my sails. And more than just the words, the full implication of what he was saying ... to have no identity whatsoever ... settled into me quite strongly. It must be marvellous not to have an identity, and, I hesitate to say this because I don’t know if this is the correct thing to say, but this is one of the things I desire the most: to be free from any sense of identity whatsoever. But, you see, Gary is scared to death of losing this precious identity and Gary is fighting like hell to stay in the driver seat, white-knuckling the steering wheel, trying to keep the wheels on the road.
VINEETO: It is fascinating when you write about the effect of considering having no identity. Eliminating emotions to become free of the insidious grip of my instinctual passions was number one on my laundry list, and consequently it became glaringly obvious that ‘I’ had willingly agreed to ‘my’ death-warrant – self-immolation. So whenever the fear became almost unbearable, and due to the survival instincts it inevitable does so from time to time, I reminded myself that ‘this is what I want’, ‘this is the price I am willing to pay in order to become free’. It does take ‘the wind out of my sails’ quite effectively. And then you get to discover the thrilling aspect of fear and ‘the boat sails hard on the wind, with the wind’ instead of ‘me’ fighting against the storm of my emotions.
Eventually you become an expert on how to tackle fear this way, and the key is your sincere intent to live without any identity whatsoever – not only free of the ‘sense of identity’, but free from identity itself, actually free.
GARY: So, I think in this brief post, I have conveyed what I wanted to say of the fears and doubts that I am encountering. It is refreshing to hear you talk of your own doubts, and there is no doubt (no pun intended) a similarity to be seen. Having this list and these readings is very important to me right now and is occupying a significant portion of my time.
VINEETO: Oh, there is plenty of correspondence on fear if you are interested. Most of my early correspondence with Alan is about fear, about ways to investigate fear and to recognize the drama queen in action yet again.
GARY: It is the much touted ‘Fear of God’ that makes a person a righteous, religious soul. I have no fear of God now, and hence, I think there is that ‘indifference to hierarchy’ mentioned in the actualism writings. With the core fear of death and fear of God faced directly, I am getting over my fears of the authority of others as well as questioning my own authority. The whole warp and weave of the structure of the ‘self’ is coming unravelled, and I am finding that the atavistic fears are subsiding, to be replaced with a deep sense of freedom and peace. Perhaps I will face renewed onslaughts of the atavistic fears, as the psyche is still intact but withering away, or so I think. A question in my mind at this point is whether I have the guts and intestinal fortitude to stick it out to the end of ‘me’, in other words putting the same effort into ending ‘me’ that I have invested in maintaining this social identity, or whether I will settle for a second rate life.
What do you think?
VINEETO: What do I think? Honestly, when your computer crashed and you didn’t write for a while I thought – oops, there goes another one. Which means that really I have no idea, Gary, about your ‘guts and intestinal fortitude to stick it out to the end’, but I think you will find out in due course if you are ever able to settle for second best again after tasting ‘self’-lessness for several short periods.
Two things were essential for me when the storms of fear seemed to blow me over – one was that there was nothing I wanted to go back to in my previous life and the other was the clear memory of some of my outstanding PCEs. The necessary altruism developed on the way, maybe the passion that had previously been experienced as aggression, love and sorrow becomes simply focussed on one thing only – to do my share for peace on earth.
GARY: Actual intimacy is the quality in which I want to relate to people in my life. Everyone. Not just a select few. Usually when using the word ‘intimacy’ people refer to the special sense of coziness or closeness they reserve for their relation to their spouse or sexual and romantic partner. But I am seeing that one can be ‘intimate’ with everyone one relates to. And this is the quality that I have experienced in PCEs that I have had – there is that magical quality of naiveté and curiosity with others that makes relating to others – people on the street, casual strangers, etc. – so free and easy. As I investigated into the primitive animal instinct of fear, I don’t think I ever realized how frightened I have been of other people all my life. In all my contacts with others – personally and professionally – there has always been a strong undercurrent of fear, experienced as wariness, suspicion, distrust, aloofness, etc. I have always kept my guard up in situations.
Now I can bring full attentiveness to investigating this sense of needing to keep my guard up, with the accompanying social identity that needs to be protected, and the underlying primitive instinct of fear that causes these reactions. I can experiment with letting my guard down deliberately and joyfully in situations that used to trigger alarm and defensiveness. This is an exciting adventure and it is a considerable satisfaction to find that Actual Intimacy is possible with everyone, not just one’s sexual or romantic partner.
VINEETO: Yes, an actual intimacy is possible with everyone and this very fact is the proof you are experiencing intimacy and not a secure, secluded arrangement between two people.
In the process of investigating fear I noticed two different types of fear, just as you have described them – fears related to various issues of my social identity and plain instinctual fear without any cause or reason. The fears related to my social identity were diminished and incrementally disappeared by dismantling the various facets of my social identity, i.e. nationality, race, gender, belonging to a family, a peer-group and friends as well as my professional and my spiritual image. Some fears needed a practical down-to-earth approach as in checking that my physical and financial survival was sensibly taken care of, but mostly the fears were psychological and psychic fears.
Most of my early correspondence with Alan was about investigating such fears.
When the social identity is significantly demolished, the instinctual fear will rear its ugly head. But as one becomes acquainted with such storms of plain fear for no other reason than being an instinctually driven animal, it also becomes more and more obvious that the only way to get rid of instinctual fear is to eliminate the ‘self’, the very seat of this instinctual fear. Sometimes the sheer bewilderment of doing something completely so ‘unnatural’ – instigating one’s own psychological and psychic death – turns into the excitement of being in an utterly new and unknown enterprise, an enterprise that addresses all the problems of human life, at their very core. It is simply the best game to play in town.
VINEETO: I consider this stage of virtual freedom to be a time when I get used to the experience that ‘I’ am indeed non-essential and redundant, needed neither for corporeal survival nor for the capability of sensuous reflective enjoyment. Things are so much easier when no feelings or ‘self’-centred thoughts disturb the experience of the exquisiteness of this moment and the delight of simply being here, whatever happens or doesn’t happen. As you say, it then does not diminish the delight if I am alone in the house, the only difference being that I don’t share my thoughts whenever one worth sharing comes to mind. Since Peter works from home, it happens very rarely that I am alone in the house – I am the one who is leaving more often – and the first few times I checked if I wanted to do something I normally don’t do, but then I couldn’t think of anything. It confirmed that I am indeed simply myself, all the time.
GARY: It is an incredibly simple and straightforward matter to enjoy being here, to revel in the present moment. However, one’s habitual and instinctual ‘self’ does not take this all lying down easily. I have found the instincts to be very deeply entrenched and resistant to change. Lately I have been having a good deal of trouble, which I am trying presently to sort out. I’m not sure really what it is all about, but the ‘nerves of steel’ part is definitely needed. I feel like I am going through an emotional roller-coaster – all my emotions are right on the surface. There is also a depressed state of mind at work, which makes enjoying the present moment to be very difficult. I know that it is probably silly to think this – but I despair of ever freeing myself from the stranglehold of the Human Condition, which causes me to become discouraged and despondent. I can see easily where one might turn back at this point, but I do not want to. It has indeed seemed a lot lately that ‘I’ am on a very perilous course. There have been alarm warnings going off, telling me there is danger up ahead, that if I keep on the path that I am on right now, I will surely be ruined. What does one do in a situation like this? Have you had these fears yourself?
VINEETO: The feelings you describe remind me of Peter’s description of ‘past the half-way point’ or ‘the point of no return’. At this point one becomes increasingly aware that so much change has irrevocably and irreparably happened that going back has become virtually impossible. This realization, of course, rings all the alarm bells for ‘me’ and ‘I’ throw up every possible worry and fear ‘I’ can think of.
What I discovered about these fears connected to the feeling of ‘no return’ was that the fact of ‘no return’ was already established – my identity had become progressively diminished during the process of actualism and I had irrevocably changed to the point where I couldn’t imagine ever going back to either a normal or a spiritual life-style. In other words, only by becoming aware of having gone too far did hell break loose in my feeling department.
When I became aware of the feeling of ‘no return’ I eventually discovered that I was also relieved. After all, I had begun the journey of actualism with the intent to go all the way and the recognition that something had irrevocably changed increased my confidence that I would not, and could not, chicken out half way through. I always had the intent that actualism would be a journey of no return and now it had become more factual – i.e. my fears were in fact a sign of success.
I remember one time when I seriously doubted that I could ever become free. I had been miserable and fearful for a couple of days and could not work out how to proceed. I asked Richard for advice. I said things such as ‘I think I am too much of a coward, I don’t have enough guts, I cannot possibly ever succeed in becoming free, I am too much ruled by fear’. He listened and then said something like ‘what else are you going to do for the rest of your life?’ The question made me aware that nothing else would ever be good enough because not only had I tasted the purity of the actual world but I was also enjoying the thrill and satisfaction of doing something that is worth committing one’s life to. I knew then that I could never turn back again and occasional bouts of fear, although sometimes extremely uncomfortable, are an inevitable part of the journey to freedom.
VINEETO: I too was hung up with the abandonment theme for many years and, following the fashion, made an early childhood experience responsible for all that later felt wrong in life, until I simply grew tired of continuously complaining that nobody loved me. At some point I had worn the abandonment theme to death and its ending was marked by a short PCE wherein I suddenly realized that I am already here and if nobody liked me, so what. But as I had yet to become aware of and thereby understand the mechanism of the social-instinctual programming in me, this experience remained but a pleasant yet exceptional memory and I fell back into creating bonds – and problems – with people in order not to feel so lost, lonely and to give my life meaning and purpose.
GARY: Interesting you should say ‘I fell back into creating bonds – and problems – with people...’ For quite some time, I have been deliberately not forming bonds, not seeking support or comfort from the herd in order not to feel so lost and lonely. This is one of the things that seems so dangerous, yet it is precisely the kind of action which leads to an expansive, penetrating sense of freedom, and a simple delight in being here. Perhaps the danger is only imaginary: ‘I’ imagine all kinds of dreadful, baleful results from my going it alone. I know that one of my fears has been a complete mental collapse with complete madness as the result. I wonder if that is a common fear that people have as they get involved in actualism. Perhaps it is stronger in me based on some early childhood experiences with madness and insanity. Again, the childhood memories that, in part, make up ‘me’ hit the alarm warning button when I get too far away from people and ‘creating bonds’.
VINEETO: The incident of the short PCE I was talking about happened years before I came across actualism. Socializing with others was then a strong need lest I would feel lost, lonely and very frightened. But I can relate very well to your fear of ‘mental collapse with complete madness’. Some fifteen years ago, a close friend of mine went through a 3-months period of schizoid madness which scared the hell out of me, but I think, apart from everyone’s individual experiences in that field, the fear of madness is part and parcel of dismantling one’s social identity. After all, you are dismantling all the rules and regulations that have been put in place in order to curb the madness of the instinctual animal passions.
I remember a period when I read all the personal accounts of Richard regarding his period of mental anguish after becoming free and asked a lot of probing questions in order to satisfy myself that leaving my ‘self’ behind was indeed safe in regards to my mental health. I have collected all the relevant quotes under ‘Sanity, Insanity and the Third Alternative’.
As a result of this probing I took another look at what is generally regarded as sane and insane and it was sometimes quite shocking to realize that there is only a quantitative difference between the two – ‘insane’ people are often those who are less able to control their instinctual passions or who have developed particularly peculiar and socially-unacceptable ways of dealing with them. I began to establish my own definition of what I regard as salubrious and sensible for my life, i.e. what I consider as mental health, and that is nothing short of being completely free of the madness of the instinctual survival passions. (...)
VINEETO: As for your comment about ‘instincts seem to have come to the fore again’ – I am having an interesting encounter with fear these days. About two week ago I awoke about 3 a.m. on a Saturday night and saw a man standing outside out bedroom on the balcony. There had been a noisy party next door so I wore earplugs while sleeping and I hadn’t heard him coming. His appearance sent me into shock. I got up, hid behind the curtain and, while pulling out my earplugs, I started screaming at him to make him go away. I reacted completely instinctually and without any forethought due to the shock and the fact that I had just awoken from deep sleep. He seemed drunk and after the encounter eventually walked away mumbling something about ‘looking for Julie’.
Afterwards I was shocked about my thoughtless instinctual aggressive reaction, defending my territory so to speak, whereas, with benefit of hindsight, the intruder was quite harmless. The incident had opened the door to my core instinctual fear and since then I sometimes lay awake in bed with intense fear, listening to the sounds in the garden, cats or birds rustling through the bushes, apparent footstep on the gravel, wind in the palm leaves. The other night I remembered what I have discovered before – that one automatically searches for an outer cause for one’s fears because ‘the alternative ... is too unthinkable’. As a result I stopped listening to the noises outside and realized that the fear of strangers in the night pointed to a fear that has no external cause – the instinctual passions of fear itself.
These experiences are all par for the course of the thrilling adventure to leave one’s ‘self’ behind and I am convinced that I have to experientially know the debilitating nature of all my instinctual passions in order to muster the courage to irrevocably step out of the human condition.
GARY: You had asked how I am doing. I am very well.
I am returning to the list after a lengthy hiatus during which time I mainly lurked, reading the posts occasionally, and sometimes in depth. I had rather lost my interest in writing to the list, but had not lost my interest in Actualism.
VINEETO: I can relate to this, as I am now in a phase where I seem to have lost interest in writing to the list unless there is some sensible conversation to be had about practical experiences. But no matter if I write or not, I never cease to be vitally interested in this moment of being alive and in what prevents me from being actually free. There is a commitment that happened deep down inside a few months after I came across actualism, after I experienced what being free from ‘me’ is like. It is a commitment that is irreversible, unlike the new-year’s resolutions that are abandoned days after they were made. I think I have told the story before but it signifies for me the day I realized that I was hooked for life.
At one time I was particularly troubled by doubts and fears so much so that after a couple of miserable days I decided to talk to Richard about it. I said to him that the way I feel now I don’t think I am able to go through with becoming free, I am too much of a coward, I don’t have the strength and saying it I felt as despondent and scared as one can be. Richard listened attentively as he always does and then said, okay, if that is so, what are you going to do with the rest of your life, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, and so on? I didn’t have to think long, it was pretty obvious that although I was in the grip of my feelings at the time that they wouldn’t last forever and then I would not be able to resist pursuing the freedom I knew to be the genuine article. There simply was, and still is, nothing else I want to do with my life.
The other day someone asked if Peter and Vineeto ever take a holiday from actualism to which I could only say ‘holiday to where’. I am pleased to be here, I enjoy being here, I am vitally interested in being alive, I am aware of what I do, think, feel and sensately experience – why on earth should I want to take leave from that? It took me much effort to get this awareness going to the point were it happens by itself and now it is impossible to switch it off. The alternative could only be to deliberately do something to dull down, to get lost in imagination, to wallow in feelings, to be half-conscious or drugged and to pretend not to be here. The capacity to be aware of being aware is exactly what makes the human species unique amongst sentient beings and to work towards ridding this awareness of selfism – in any form – is a great adventure.
GARY: Instead, I have continued to apply myself to demolition work. I use that short-hand phrase to signify using the method to dismantle the social identity and expose the underlying instinctual passions. Then I have been able to get at the buggers. However, I have had long periods during which nothing much seemed to be happening. Getting a ‘taste of the instincts’ has sometimes seemed like a prolonged forced feeding at the pig trough of the Human Condition. But then, nobody is forcing me, are they? I realize in retrospect what has been lacking has been sustained, unremitting attentiveness on my part and sometimes simply the pure intent to proceed further.
VINEETO: There is something else that helps me and that is to remember to be friends with myself and rather than being down on myself for being irritated or fearful to instead give myself a pat on the back for noticing that I was. This way it’s much easier to pull myself up by my bootstraps and to get back to being happy again in no time. It’s a persistent habit to break, this telling myself off for not being perfectly happy for 24hrs a day, but I do notice it much quicker these days than I used to. Then it is not so much a matter of weening myself off the ‘trough of the Human Condition’, as you call it, but more a slipping out of ‘my’ skin and sensately – and sensuously – enjoying being here.
I also had to realize that after I’ve been through certain intense feelings and passions there is nothing further to be learned from staying in the feeling. I used to be suspicious of Richard’s expression of ‘nipping the feeling in the bud’, ostensibly for the reason that it could be confused with repressing the feeling. But now I realized that I was also avoiding the technique itself because ‘I’ wanted to hang onto being ‘the explorer’ of deep passions whenever they occurred and I can see now that there is neither meaning nor value in ceaselessly examining an instinctual passion over and over and over again. In other words I have come to understand that no valuable insight is to be gained from deeply and repeatedly feeling fear – the most prominent of the passions for me – and this understanding has greatly helped to simply notice and label the feeling, in this case my fear of oblivion, and then get on with enjoying this moment of being alive, which is after all the point of actualism.
GARY: I can tell you this: that I have during this period of time always used the Actualism method and have not found it necessary nor desirable to take side-detours or short cuts. I have never found it necessary to find add-ons to supplement my use of the Actualism question. Unremitting attentiveness and cranking up my pure intent have been the keys to pulling through what have seemed like unbearable onslaughts of deep dread and fear.
VINEETO: It’s so simple, isn’t it and yet almost everyone feels the urge to concoct their personal addenda in order to avoid its ‘self’-diminishing effects.
GARY: But along with complacency and a relative backing-off from the deeper sources of resistance at times, there has been for a long time steady progress too. I think of a graphic presentation of in which there are peaks and valleys, and regressive movement, but on the average a steady overall increase in happiness and harmlessness.
RESPONDENT: However, since that time I’ve had several experiences of overwhelming negativity. Twice I woke up out of a dead sleep, and with none of my usual distracting devices activated, I was just swallowed up by it. The experiences seem to combine fear, anger, dread, depression, just about every negativity one could experience – all at once. I find I’m just in it and feeling it and can’t even find my way to the bottom of it, or a resolution to it. The process that you and Peter describe seems a lot more cheery than this. Of course, everyone does things differently. I’m not freaked out by this, but I don’t know that I am making any ‘progress’ with it. By this I mean getting to the bottom of the whirlwind of feeling and saying, Ah, that’s what that is.
Would appreciate comments.
VINEETO: The beginning period of my exploring and applying actualism was not so cheery – on the contrary, there were bewildering, anxious, fearful, very confusing and sometimes dreadful episodes, particularly in the time when I was struggling to get disentangled from the spiritual world. You can find a description of our experiences of the first year in ‘Peter’s Journal’ and in ‘Vineeto’s Bit’ on the Actualism web site. On the path to Actual Freedom I needed to backtrack, unlearn the ‘watcher’ and abolish my spiritual identity in order to be able to start dismantling what had been left behind, unexamined and untouched, when the spiritual process of distancing and dissociation began.
The approach to feelings, emotions and instinctual passions in Actual Freedom is distinctively different to therapy or spiritual practice insofar that I not only experience the feeling and label it, but I also explore the very cause that makes me feel this way. What triggered it?, did someone say something to me?, what particular fear is triggered?, what is the connection to what I believe to be right or true or good?, what is the underlying moral or ethical connotation?, what guilt, shame or taboo have I transgressed?, what would actually happen, if I explore further?, which part of my identity is threatened?, how do ‘I’ function?, what are ‘my’ tricks? ... there were a hundred-and-one questions to be explored before I would get to the bottom of ‘me’ and see my identity in operation.
It is always a great opportunity when ‘fear, anger, dread, depression’ are coming to the surface by themselves. This is not just ‘negativity’ to be suffered through, this is the very stuff that underlies the ‘good’ feelings and that forms the basis of the Human Condition. This is the identity in action – and only an identity in action can be investigated. Progress for me happened when I had found the core belief or instinct of a particular feeling – ‘ah, that’s the underlying belief, oh dear, but that’s who ‘I’ am, oh dear...’ Some ‘eradications’ of feelings and beliefs felt like major heart operations until I grew used to remembering that they are nothing but feelings, experienced like a life-threatening procedure, felt as very real but never actual. The ‘operations’ did not leave any scars, neither emotional nor physical.
Doubts about the path, the actualism method and if I was going in the right direction were often insidiously persistent. I had to tackle my doubts by meticulously investigating the facts, weighing the actual situation against my, often overwhelming, feelings and inquire into the root of my occurring emotions and feelings. Eventually I recognized doubt as a cover for fear itself, the fear to move closer and closer to extinction. The trick to encounter fear is to look for the thrilling part in the experience, which might be tiny at the start, the little YES in the cloud of angst, and then one can surf the wave of thrill beyond one’s boundaries of what is considered familiar and safe.
What helped me a lot through all the weird and sometimes daunting experiences on the path was the pioneering spirit and the ambition to write down and report what I found out on this utterly new, first-time-in-history, adventure. Being a reporter as well as experiencing what happened increased my attentiveness and prevented me from both indulging in emotions for indulgence sake and from ‘keeping my distance’. I wanted to be able to describe the process as precisely and detailed as possible, and that very ambition has carried me through many strange adventures until the identity of the reporter itself became redundant. Writing down and reporting any of your experiences at this stage can be helpful for yourself and for others on this pioneering adventure.
RESPONDENT: As a side note, according to Richard’s understanding of the egoless state of being, there is no imagination possible in an egoless state because one is totally busy living the life as it is happening moment by moment. As a consequence, there might be no concern about the future. If there is a total dis-concern for the future and one is living – as the body – in the world inhabited by other people, will not the physical safety be in danger? Or is the very idea of ‘danger’ emotionally driven and even when a dangerous situation occurs, the body will be busy living it and hence there will be no hard feelings against the situation.
VINEETO: There are a few distinctions that are vital for an actualist – (...)
2. Richard lives in Actual Freedom, which is being here without any identity whatsoever. With the death of his identity the faculty of imagination disappeared along with his instinctual passions. Therefore, whatever Richard writes is not a mere ‘understanding of the ego-less state’ but an accurate description of what he is living 24hrs a day, every day. Imagination for him is simply not possible because imagination cannot exist outside the feeling entity inside this flesh and blood body – it dies with the entity. And because there is no imagination interfering, he is ‘living the life as it is happening moment by moment’.
My ‘concern about the future’ goes as far as covering the basic necessities for my physical survival – a place to live, spending money, clothes, food and obeying the law of the land. For work I found it sensible to keep a car, so I take care that it is registered, insured and running well. Neither a fearful nor hopeful imagination about the future nor feelings, beliefs, morals, values and instinctual passions interfere with this simple and solely practical ‘concern about the future’ and life is easy and carefree.
As far as ‘the world inhabited by other people’ is concerned – there are some practical safety measures to be considered. When appropriate, I will keep my mouth shut and not talk about Actual Freedom, because people seem to get really upset when their dearly held beliefs are questioned. The Internet for instance, is a much safer place to have a conversation about Actual Freedom. But most of what is considered ‘danger’ is, in fact, merely emotionally perceive and disappears with the thorough investigation of one’s emotions, feelings and instinctual passions – the actual world is an imminently safe place to be.
A side-note – once you actively start investigating those hopes and fears whilst experiencing them, you will find out for yourself that they are very real but not actual. Thinking about one’s fears without thoroughly investigating what they are based on will, on the other hand, merely confirm the mother of all beliefs – that ‘you can’t change the human nature’.
Once I started to investigate a fear that arose from changing myself, the next time I found I could not take the fear as serious as before, for I knew that by exploring the fear it would eventually reveal its illusionary nature. With each fear removed, my brain was functioning better and clearer than before and was less restricted by chemically driven irrational hopes and fears. But it takes daring and initiative to start exploring one’s ‘ghosts in the cupboard’, as Alan and I used to call them. Freedom from the Human Condition does not happen by itself and it does not happen overnight. It needs persistent and bloody-minded sincere intent and thorough investigation – and then the rewards are beyond your wildest dreams.
I keep saying to Peter that if people only knew what they were missing ... all my dreams have come true, one by one.
RESPONDENT: Another side note: in the ego-less state there might be no planning and ‘control’ executed by the ‘I’ but it might nevertheless happen because of the brain’s instinct (??) of the body-preservation? Or is the instinct of the prolongation of the life also gone in the ego-less state and one is not concerned when death approaches?
VINEETO: I don’t know and I don’t really care. ‘Body-preservation’ without the instincts is none of ‘my’ business because ‘I’ won’t be here anymore...
Once the ‘self’ is as weakened as it is now, I am simply doing what is happening. ‘I’ am not needed to keep this body alive, on the contrary, ‘I’ had been continuously interfering with my physical well-being by worrying and fighting, dieting and indulging, being stressed or depressed, fearful or driven. My health and well being are now better than ever, I have stopped worrying about vitamins or minerals, starch or protein, vegetarianism or health-dieting, natural or homeopathic medicine long ago. Also I take it that the medical technology in this country is so advanced as to give me a good chance of staying healthy as long as possible ... and when my time is over I can surely say that I had had a perfect life, every day, 24 hrs a day, for years and years and years.
With the ‘self’ the fear of death also dies. Once ‘I’ am gone there won’t be anybody left to be afraid of death. Of course I can still jump out of the way of an approaching car or an attacking dog. Intelligence and apperceptive awareness together with the physical startle-response are enough to keep this body alive as long as is possible. It is the psychological and psychic fear of death that casts shadows of fear and doubt into our lives and prevents us from experiencing the safety, magnificence and abundant perfection of the actual physical universe.
So, don’t let your doubts and fears take over and stop you from investigating your psyche – there is much magic to be discovered.
PS: I found a little quote from Richard that might give you further encouragement ...
IRENE: (...) You asked me to tell you my honest story about the discoveries I am making, so this is what I am doing, Vineeto. I hope that you now understand me better and that you can see that I am not at all out to demolish you, Vineeto, but your belief in the old spiritual man-made ‘ideal’ of getting rid of your self and that Richard has augmented with getting rid of literally everything that you can possibly call human: the feelings, emotions, instincts, sense of humaneness towards other people around you, in short all that was a natural given to start off with. To be so anti-nature is called preposterous.
Only a person who is deeply troubled by emotions will turn against them in anger and try to rid themselves of the whole plethora of emotional experiences. To me they are the palette that I use to paint my every moment onto the canvas of my immediate environment, except that this is 3-dimensional and it depicts more my atmosphere than colours or figures. Another thing you need to know about me is that I don’t see Richard as free, but rather removed from being human.
VINEETO: I have come out of a maze of strange days, full of both bouts of fear, doubt and desperation interspersed with long stretches of a wondrous soft and sensuous peace and contentment. The journey towards no-control has been a rocky one, thrilling indeed because it is so untrodden. Having experience the contents of various emotional attacks I have decided, for a change, to look at them from another angle – trying to understand what is happening. What we found was a repetitive circle of fear – frustration – doubt – and again fear, and the only way out of this circle is the intent to have the already always existing peace-on-earth become apparent.
For some reason the wide and wondrous path to freedom seemed to have turned into a thorny thicket, in itself a clear indication that I got off the road. As I have written to you earlier I had decided to leave Virtual Freedom behind and go for the genuine article – extinction. Since no one has completed the direct route to actual Freedom before, this is now truly unchartered sea. Understanding the need to give up the way I had controlled my life I am now like a ship without tiller, seemingly tossed by the moods of the ocean. It appears that fear is the last one of those insidious instincts, the root core of each being human, the instinctual fear of survival. But in its nature it is only real, not actual. This core fear is standing in the way of me experiencing the actual world, it is standing in the road to freedom. A yet un-met challenge!
IRENE: What I am actually most interested in you is what you described in your very first paragraph:
I know doubt, fear and frustration in myself, but could you describe to me, Vineeto, what your doubt is precisely to do with? What are the 2 alternatives that make up the dilemma and cause the doubt? What exactly has happened to make you doubt? And the same with fear?
Because I have always found it imperative – to use your words – to investigate and identify the nature of each emotion (doubt and fear and frustration etc.) and describe precisely what it is made up of. Because doubt is a very important feeling to find out, after all it is – like pain – an indication that there is something not clear. No use to steamroll over it by telling yourself off for not doing it right, because it will creep up as long as it is not addressed deeply and you have finally made up your mind about who or what is correct (your adopted way or your innermost sense of correct or incorrect).
Otherwise you are just a follower of someone else, no matter how convincing he/she is.
VINEETO: Doubt as opposed to scrutiny is a very destructive emotion. This is what I have come to in my latest investigation. Understanding that to reach my potential, I as an identity have to die, I have faced immense fear, naturally. After all, dying is truly an unnatural process, going against every single one of our animal instincts. I checked out every surfacing doubt for its content and finally came to understand that the act of doubting itself was a psychological trick to avoid the imminent fear of death – the very, very cunning bit of ‘me’. Doubt simply turned out to be the coating around fear, to protect me from its impact. This faculty of doubt has disappeared simply by my understanding its very function. Now there is no personal doubt left, only the instinctual fear of the impending discovery that the whole powerful experience of enlightenment is but a delusion, ie that there is no life after death.
Fear in the face of impending death is what potatoes are for a potato-soup, its very ingredients. There is no potato soup without potatoes, there is no death without fear. The only way to deal with that fear which I found after many days of going around in circle like a headless hamster is a suggestion from Richard:
Accepting the fact of death made me stop and welcome it. I see this as the only way to proceed. Only psychological death can free me from the psychological fear of a personal death (ego), and psychic death can free me from the instinctual fear of an absolute death (obliteration). The Enlightened Ones clearly avoid the second death. Having come that far in my understanding I just have to act accordingly...
RESPONDENT: Why does my saying I see we have things in common make you seem to pull back, retreating into a ‘You don’t understand Richard’ position?
VINEETO: I said: ‘It is not merely ‘definition differences’ we are talking about.’ And I still maintain that it is not only definition differences. Every difference in definition usually means a difference in belief, as I know from my own process of digging into my beliefs, emotions and instincts, and they need to be investigated before we know that we have things in common. As I have told you, it is good fun for me to be doing this and helps me to become clearer. Any communication about my favourite subject – and actual freedom from the Human Condition – is very welcome.
RESPONDENT: Because it would be scary to be like me? As ignorant and clumsy and stupid? As inconsistent and confused?
VINEETO: The journey so far has been also scary, yes, but incredible rewarding. I see it as no bad thing to be inconsistent and confused. After all, you are on a discovery journey. Ignorance, stupidity, inconsistency and confusion are part of the Human Condition that is being investigated. A bummer of a birthmark for each of us, that is true. The way to overcome the ignorance and confusion, created by the many beliefs, was to investigate the facts of each situation, and facts are simply facts. Further, it has taken many leaps to overcome pride and fear again and again, but the fascination and thrill of investigating and eliminating my own shackles has given me the necessary fuel.
RESPONDENT: As ‘full of malice and sorrow’, to use your all’s rather religious terminology?
...after all, it was Peter’s ‘advertisement’ for freedom from malice and sorrow that caught my attention.
VINEETO: Strange that you should judge the expression that caught your attention a religious terminology. If it is something you want to achieve, why put it down as a mere belief? Don’t you want to be free from malice and sorrow?
RESPONDENT: In fact, I would say that my very own ‘seeing the obstacles to paying attention now’ amounts closely to ‘how am I experiencing this moment alive?’ It’s just that, I suppose, I’m not very good at it, and the obstacles are formidable.
VINEETO: Yes, the obstacles seemed formidable, especially when I started looking. Taking the obstacles one by one without bothering about the one to come has helped me immensely to keep my feet on the ground and my mind off discouragement. Each moment, now, there is only one obstacle, the one that is bothering me in this moment. Like: ‘Why did this particular remark or behaviour upset me?’ ‘Why am I stressed out when I could do it also relaxedly?’ And after every obstacle removed comes the joy of yet more freedom, deeper understanding, greater confidence and more happiness ...
RESPONDENT: At the moment I have the opportunity to look at pain and the objection to that. As the pain gets more extreme the objections become more pathetic like ‘Oh I’m dying’. Then there is a moment of stillness and no objection at all. I guess you could call it at peace with pain.
VINEETO: Yes, I know that struggle. I had it particular strong with fear. First fear arises, whatever the trigger was. The first reaction is objecting to fear, trying to make it go away. Sometimes it took hours until I realised that this does not work. Now, it goes a lot quicker. Now I take on the challenge, ‘o.k. fear, show me your face, show me your name, what is the issue today!’ Fascinating how at least half of the terrifying emotion disappears by simply neither repressing nor expressing.
But then the investigation starts, I want to get the bugger by the throat, examine the issue so it won’t be back tomorrow with the same emotion again. And this ‘peace’, as you call it, is the perfect inner condition for investigation, for I can coolly, with no objection, investigate into the background of this fear, root around in conditioning, collective fears, or unquestioned conviction.
And then, when everything is pulled into the open, examined in the bright light of my awareness, it cannot uphold its existence – fear turns into thrill, the thrill of impending destiny, my extinction. And I know I am back on the track to freedom. Yippee!
RESPONDENT: Good to hear from you. I am glad you can now re-enter the discussion. I have read the new ‘Introduction to Actual Freedom’ and I was quite impressed. I found it to be excellent. Actually I think it is perfect.
VINEETO: Thank you for your feedback on the introduction. I agree that Peter did an excellent job in putting it together and I find it exactly the coherent preamble that can give newcomers an overview and entry into Actual Freedom. It probably needs reading more than once given that an actual freedom flies in the face of all normal solutions and traditional beliefs. Did you notice that I forgot to put a link ‘back to homepage’? Once one enters the introduction, one is trapped to read it again and again and again...
RESPONDENT: You have brought up this subject of pure intent at a good time because I really don’t want to look at it right now. I have gotten in touch with the bare awareness of fear and it seems hopeless right now.
I see it and I feel it but I don’t want to mess with it. I just want to calm it down and leave it alone. A PCE seems very remote. I am not concerned about a PCE. I just don’t want to upset ‘me’ anymore.
VINEETO: This reminds me of a day when I was so badly in the grip of fear that I couldn’t think straight, didn’t know how to get myself out of this overwhelming feeling and could hardly talk for my cluttering teeth. I thought that I will never gather enough gumption to become free, I am just too much of a coward. Telling my story to Richard he said something to the effect of: ‘what else would you want to do with your life – be miserable like right now for the next 30 odd years? Seems pretty impossible to me. Of course, you will keep going.’
On the path to freedom from the Human Condition I have encountered fear lots of time, firstly because I decided not to run from it anymore and secondly because questioning ancient wisdom and inherited instincts is not a familiar thing to do, to say the least. When you read my conversations with Alan – there was a time when we talked of almost nothing else but different forms of fear. We ‘entertained’ each other with scare-story after scare-story, private worries and collective atavistic fears, and it was very helpful to talk and write about it. After all, dismantling one’s set of beliefs and values, one’s very identity, is a scary thing to do.
But then, I have been fearful all my life. I have been running from fear for as long as I can remember, trying half-hearted solutions, distractions, movies, food, company, music, commune-life, work, meditation, mantras, security in boring or distressing relationships, being occupied with this or that and much more. Nothing has worked to permanently get rid of fear. Fears kept popping up and spoiling my days, making inner peace impossible.
By asking ‘how am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ I have learnt to face my fears and dig into them until I find their very core. In the beginning of my inquiries, my fears where concerned with my social identity. ‘Who’ am I in other people’s eyes, can I survive without their approval, without the support of my peers, without the company and security of the social spiritual club that I called my friends? Well, I discovered that I could. Facing my fears, questioning dearly held beliefs and investigating the facts of each situation has improved my confidence and surety, which in turn facilitated my next encounter with fear. As I said – the serendipitous spiral of actual freedom was set in motion.
RESPONDENT: As I ask the question ‘how am I’ the answer I get is cautiously. The belief I have right now is that I really can’t do anything about it. I have been on this path of self-discovery for 30 yrs now and this is where I’m at. I am directly in contact with my core right now. ‘Me’ at my core right now seems so rock solid that I couldn’t blast it out with dynamite.
VINEETO: Thirty years of spiritual search do indeed show a persistence not to settle for second best. You don’t seem to give up at the first scare. Yet, whatever teachings you have picked up on the way need to be discovered, questioned, investigated, examined and eradicated. The diagram ‘the path of self-aggrandizement’ in the ‘method’-part of the introduction shows clearly the direction in which spiritual beliefs and Eastern religions have guided us. As I have told you, I had been gullibly sucked into Eastern religious myths and it took extensive questioning of all the sweet spiritual fairytales to uncover the lies, deceits, beliefs and underlying intentions of the spiritual endeavour. Actual Freedom, being actual and not spirit-ridden (spiritual) lies indeed 180 degrees in the opposite direction to all spiritual teachings, present, past and future. You will find out for yourself as you go along.
RESPONDENT: Realizing that I have the belief that I can’t do anything about it is beginning to make a difference. Actually the ‘me’ is dissipating now as I am typing this. Ok Vineeto, reading your post got me to look at the belief that I was having about it and I now realize that the belief that I can’t do anything about the ‘me’ was holding it in place. As I now ask the question ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ The answer I am getting is peacefully.
VINEETO: You have just described how you discovered and questioned the mother of all beliefs – ‘that you can’t change human nature’, or, as you say, one ‘can’t do anything about’ one’s instinctual passions. As you have experienced, even the slightest doubting of this ‘Truth’ diminishes its solidity and veracity. Gathering courage after a fear-attack one resumes the questioning, each time with a little more suspicion towards and awareness about one’s own beliefs, each time with the memory that a fear directly encountered and questioned cannot last. Another day, another victory.
VINEETO: But the Human Condition in each of us is not just a belief. At the core, ‘I’ am the instinctual passions.
RESPONDENT: Yes I agree that this is so. The scientific evidence is indisputable. ‘I’ am the instinctual passions and I don’t like it but right now I’m tired of becoming. ‘I’ just feel like accepting the fact that ‘I’ am my instincts and be done with it. <snip> I don’t have any drive left. <snip> I feel like just staying with the ‘feeling being ‘and quit trying to change it. I feel bogged down and stuck.
VINEETO: In moments of extreme fear and doubt, these feeling seem to be the only thing that exists and they seem to last forever. The very nature of instincts is that they are utterly convincing and trigger an overwhelming automatic ‘quick and dirty’ reaction, if you remember the findings of Josef LeDoux’. (You’ll find relevant information under ‘Instincts’ and ‘Fear’ in The Actual Freedom Trust library.)
In the beginning it is often only some time after the ‘attack of the instincts’ that is one able to look at the situation with awareness, common sense and intelligence. You may then question if the response to stop the inquiry because of fear was really your best shot.
But if you prefer to stay ‘with the ‘feeling being’ and quit trying to change it’, at least you are not alone – six billion people prefer to stay with the Tried and Failed. Being a ‘feeling being’ usually means feeling ‘miserable’, ‘bogged down and stuck’, ‘helpless and hopeless’, not to mention anger, hate, malice, resentment, jealousy, insecurity, fear, neediness, greed, loneliness and sorrow.
RESPONDENT: I have a sense of abandoning humanity but I have no energy left for investigating. I have doubt like all of this investigating is what is bogging me down. <snip> I get the message loud and clear that my own survival instincts are the underlying cause but I feel helpless and hopeless to do anything about it. It even seems right now that the effort to do something about it is the cause of the problem.
The actual world of sensual delight seems like the memory of a fairy tale. I have lost it.
VINEETO: No 3 says it perfectly well: ‘Do these feelings really serve you in any real beneficial way, what are the practicalities of doing away with this, that says this is your limit you will not venture past this. The main thing is, if it is controlling you, then you are believing it. Let’s face it, emotion is truth but not fact, truth is not freedom, fact is, as can be directly perceived or deduced with reason.’ [endquote].
RESPONDENT: I’m up against the mother of all beliefs that I can’t do anything about it. I can’t change the instincts. This belief is so strong that it looks like a fact so what looks best to do is accept the fact that I am my instincts. This seems like the only possible relief.
VINEETO: Your reply shows that you are taking this ‘mother of all beliefs’ as a reality that you won’t question and therefore you accept that you cannot change. Fair enough, it is a deeply ingrained insidious belief, not only repeated for thousands of years by millions of people as the only wisdom but also deeply rooted in our genetic instinctual heritage. It needs sincere intent, courage and awareness to start questioning the ‘truth of our ancestors’.
The moment I questioned anything that I had believed all my life I was up against a whirlpool of fear, belief being the very substance of my identity. There are only two ways to respond to that fear – to go back to being miserable without possibility for change, or to stop running, face the fear and start investigating. The first was not a long-term option for me – knowing about Actual Freedom and not pursuing it meant that I would never be able to face myself in the mirror again with dignity.
Whenever I gathered enough courage to stop running and face the fear I was up for a surprise – the biggest part of fear was being afraid of fear itself. The moment I stopped avoiding fear, the remaining fear was substantially reduced. Still big enough to make me shake – but I had understood enough to know that I could not run forever. Fear, the very core of our software, the Human Condition, will only disappear as that software is being eliminated, anything else will only be a postponement or an avoidance.
So whenever fear hits me I ‘hold on to the mast and let the storm pass’, not make any decisions because of fear but sit it out. It always passes.
Of course, one has to acknowledge that ‘I am my instincts’. But serendipity has it that we are not only inflicted with instinctual passions but are also equipped with intelligence and the ability to be aware of what is happening. It is these very qualities that have the potential to separate us from the other animals. These are the tools to re-wire the brain, to slowly, slowly shift the balance from passionate beliefs to clear facts, from automatic instinctual reactions to considered, sensible, appropriate action and sensual delight.
I leave you with a recipe from Richard to get out of stuckness, Alan’s favourite piece of writing – by the way, Alan, how are you doing?
VINEETO: So whenever fear hits me I ‘hold on to the mast and let the storm pass’, not make any decisions because of fear but sit it out. It always passes.
RESPONDENT: I think that accepting the fact that ‘I’ am my instincts was facing the fear. This freed me up to see the actual. I am not having a PCE but there is a kind of peacefulness now. When I was talking to my friend on the phone I realized that what was actual was I was sitting here and talking to him. Everything else was made up (imagined).
VINEETO: Fear is never imagined. Emotions are never imagined although imagination can add fuel to the initial emotion. The physical reactions that accompany particular emotions ensure that you experience them as very real at the time. Instinctual passions are not mere imagination as one would imagine a bag of potato chips – they are the result of the chemical flows that are automatically produced by our genetically encoded software. When you were overwhelmed by fear or anger you did not experience it as imagination but as a very real situation. Nothing will change if one only regards instinctual passions as imaginary. The solution lies in a scientific and experiential exploration of the Human Condition. And once I understood a belief or an affective feeling in its totality, I was able to leave it behind.
One thinks and feels oneself to be locked up in a small world as a restricted and myopic ‘self’ and that seems to be the only world there is. But once one diligently and persistently examines the ‘self’, each particular belief, feeling and instinctual passion that it consists of, one discovers the door and dares to walk out, leaving one’s self behind. In the beginning there are only short moments of freedom, fleeting experiences of the perfection that is possible, then those moments increase until it becomes obvious that the only sensible way to live is as experienced in the PCE, every day.
It is possible, but one needs to make freedom the most important thing in one’s life.
RESPONDENT: How do you see it? It looks like at the bottom of it all is fear and that is ‘me’. If I see that fear is ‘who I am’ then what else is there to do but understand it experientially?
To get rid of fear completely it is not enough to just ‘see that fear is ‘who I am’’ and then become fearless as in rising above fear. There is no such thing as a shortcut of a blinding flash of light as the spiritual myths and fables have us believe. There is no fairy wand or Grace of Existence or a helping hand of God that interferes with human destiny and freedom. Becoming free from the instinctual passions is all in your own hands and it is a process of chipping away at one’s self-centredness and fearfulness and passionate survival automatism, bit by bit, experience by experience, in an ongoing attentiveness of how am I experiencing this moment of being alive.
Again, what I say is something you might possibly take at face value and then begin to discover for yourself as you diligently nibble away at your social conditioning such that you can begin to observe your instinctual passions in action in yourself.
It is a fascinating journey once one takes the plunge.
RESPONDENT: I guess this pretty much answers my question. I have been observing my instinctual passions in action for quite some time and I see that fear is at the bottom of all of it. So what there is to do is keep observing the instincts in action and chipping away by understanding it experientially. I was asking if there was anything else to be done other than that but apparently not.
VINEETO: When you say that apparently there is nothing other to be done than observe one’s instinctual passions you have apparently not read all of my post. Vis:
You might deem it unnecessary to examine all your beliefs and social-spiritual values but it is impossible to clearly observe one’s instinctual passions with an unbiased and unrestricted awareness unless one has first done the work of becoming aware of and eliminating one’s beliefs and one’s moral and ethical values.
Yesterday I met an old friend who asked me what I do with fear. He said often he wakes up in the morning and feels fearful for no apparent reason. He could well relate to when I told him that in my spiritual days I had an underlying fearfulness of not doing the ‘right’ thing and of being punished or struck by the wrath of Existence in some way or other for my ‘wrong doing’. He said there was a kind of mantra going round in his head searching for the next ‘right’ thing to do.
We talked about morals and ethics as being ingrained into human beings since earliest childhood. When I left home I was busy replacing my parent’s set of morals and ethics with another, then another and finally with the Sannyas Eastern spiritual set of morals and ethics. As my friend was a Sannyasin, he duly protested and said that Rajneesh did not teach any rules of right and wrong. I suggested that when one has an emotional investment in keeping the image of one’s master pure, one is likely not to notice that the ‘Truth’ is but another set of moral and ethical values. Even the ultimate ‘Good’ and the ultimate ‘Right’ are nothing but human-made values fuelled by ancient superstition and blind devotion to a Higher Being somewhere in the universe. Rajneeshism has its own set of morals, rights and wrongs, goods and bads, rules and social codes, as does Krishnamurtiism, Christianity, Buddhism, etc.
I said that had I questioned not only my own ideas as to what is right and wrong but also the very source of all moral and ethical codes – the belief in a God or Higher Power who enforces good and bad, rights and wrongs by a system of divine reward and punishment. Being good and right brings the reward of good karma, good fortune, respectability and a permanent berth in Parinirvana or Heaven and being bad and wrong brings punishment of bad karma, bad luck and condemnation to suffer endless rebirths or to plunge into the abyss of Hell. When I began to replace these fear-ridden spiritual beliefs with facts most of my fears began to permanently disappear.
Real-world fears are mostly based on religious or spiritual fairytales but it is also necessary to question all of the beliefs that would have us believe that life on earth is a fearful and miserable existence. One needs to question psittacisms such as ‘one needs to fight for one’s rights’, ‘it’s a tough world’, ‘life’s a bitch’, any of the multitudinous doomsday scenarios that are currently in fashion, the insidiousness of rumour and innuendo, the fear-propagating role of protest movements and the continual beat-up of the media in promulgating fear, angst and mass hysteria. To believe all that one is fed by one’s fellow human beings is to give substance and fuel to one’s fears. To make the effort to find out for oneself the facts of each situation is to cut away at the roots of these socially instilled fears ... and this is the very work that an actualist initially has to do in order to become free of the human condition.
The other kind of fear, however, is the raw animal survival fear that only comes to the surface when one’s beliefs and one’s moral and ethical codes have been substantially eliminated, and this kind of fear is indeed something one can only be aware of, and recognize, as the genetically-encoded survival program in action. This very attentiveness is the ending of fear’s ferocious grip. Or, as Richard puts it –
RESPONDENT: Basically, my understanding is that when one gets through the superficial understanding of emotions then one sees that fear is underlying all of these things. This could be wrong and this is why I am putting this out here to see if I am wrong. It looks to me like when one has uncovered these instincts that fear is what is all pervading and not sorrow. Please feel free to take all this with a grain of salt as I am just trying to look at my mind in operation.
VINEETO: My experience is that when ‘one gets through the superficial understanding of emotions’ then I started instigating an in-depth understanding of my emotions in order to eventually to be rid of them. I certainly had to question and examine the full range of my emotions, the desirable ones as well as the undesirable ones. So in order to ascertain the facts about fear and sorrow you will need to abandon any of your own preconceived notions about emotions and instinctual passions and experientially investigate the nature and the cause of each emotion as it arises within you.
Fear can only be tackled by removing the causes of why I am fearful and by questioning what it is that I want to desperately attain or avoid. If I am fearful of being sad then I find out how I can eliminate that specific sadness. If I am fearful of being lonely then I investigate the need to have someone to belong to. If I am afraid of death then I question why I want to be immortal despite the fact that every thing that is born must also die.
In practicing actualism, it has always been my sincere intent that urged me to move beyond my initial fears and get on with the business of actively and practically becoming free from malice and sorrow.
RESPONDENT: That brings up the question of: Can I do it without being greedy? I am a risk taker in a lot of ways so maybe I am addicted to the fear. The root problem still seems to be fear itself and not superficial greed or other desires, etc.
VINEETO: I do find it interesting that you call any other passion but fear ‘superficial’ as part of your theory that fear is the predominant passion. How can you scientifically examine your emotions, feelings and passions if you already dismiss everything other than fear as being superficial? Is it not time to question everything, including this unproven presumption along with your emotional investment in it?
You can easily find out for yourself that gambling without being greedy or fearful is possible when you replace ‘money’ with ‘bubblegum’ – gambling for bubblegum would certainly be without the emotional input of greed and there would be no fear to lose either – but then gambling may lose all attraction.
The question for me was what part of ‘me’ would have to disappear or die in order not to feel the greed and desire for something I desperately wanted. In my case one of the greatest desires I had to inquire into was the longing for the unconditional love of my spiritual teacher. In order for this desire to disappear, Vineeto the loyal disciple had to disappear. On another occasion it was the desire for the unconditional love of a lover, which caused me a lot of pining, anxiety and fear. In order to get rid of the anxiety that accompanied my desire I had to inquire into the romantic dream that lay behind my longing for love. The outcome of this inquiry was that the dreamer Vineeto disappeared together with ‘her’ anxieties about not achieving the dream. At the time this felt like an amputation of a vital and integral part of the woman I felt myself to be, but it sure did the trick. Both my desire and my fear around this subject disappeared miraculously. The romantic dreamer had irreplaceably disappeared.
Given that you say ‘maybe I am addicted to the fear’ then that would also mean that the No 16 you are today would have to disappear in order for ‘his’ fear to cease.
VINEETO: Fear can only be tackled by removing the causes of why I am fearful and by questioning what it is that I want to desperately attain or avoid. If I am fearful of being sad then I find out how I can eliminate that specific sadness. If I am fearful of being lonely then I investigate the need to have someone to belong to. If I am afraid of death then I question why I want to be immortal despite the fact that every thing that is born must also die.
In practicing actualism, it has always been my sincere intent that urged me to move beyond my initial fears and get on with the business of actively and practically becoming free from malice and sorrow.
RESPONDENT: There is something here that I am not sure about. You said that ‘fear can only be tackled by removing the causes of why I am fearful.’ This doesn’t make sense to me because there are certain causes of fear that one can’t remove such as death so that is why I am thinking that fear itself needs to be removed instead of the causes of fear. I don’t have much fear of death itself as I have already experienced that but there is still fear. In other words, I still have it wired up that the way to remove fear is to face it instead of removing the causes of it or avoiding the causes of it.
VINEETO: You can, of course, hold any theory or belief you like. But as long as it is not proven as a fact by demonstration that it works to free you from fear it will remain a mere proposition. In the process of questioning my beliefs I aimed to replace my beliefs with facts by finding out what is sensately experience-able, what is sensible and what repeatedly works. Everything else was doomed to the dust bin.
As for the ‘causes of fear that one can’t remove’ – in a ‘self’-less pure consciousness experience it is readily apparent that there is no fear in the actual world because fear, as well as all the other instinctual passions, disappear along with ‘me’, the emotional entity. It is not the physical body that is fearful of death, as you might have experienced in your own near-death experience you described to Gary. The cause for the fear of death is not death but ‘me’. It is ‘me’, the entity inside this body that maintains and feeds the fear of survival because the feelings of fear, anger, greed and nurture serve to keep this entity in existence. ‘I’ have no other substance than the feelings and emotions and imaginations ‘I’ generate. ‘I’ am a fake. ‘I’ am a make-believe. ‘I’ am not actual. That’s why ‘I’ make such a fuss in the first place.
By applying the method of actualism I have investigated every facet of this entity in me, every blink of an emotion, every whiff of a feeling, every superficial emotion and deep passion until I now know all ‘my’ tricks and loopholes, all ‘my’ games and sentiments, all ‘my’ workings and mechanisms – the whole programming of the social identity and the underlying instinctual passions. When I become aware and agree to fully and experientially understand a particular aspect of this programming then this aspect, this part of ‘me’, inevitably disappears.
Once you pick out and experientially examine one of your emotions closely, for instance the emotional involvement in stock market gambling – without applying your preconceived theory that only serves to stifle further investigation – then you can identify and eliminate one little part of your identity and experience the diminishing of fear for yourself.
My experience is that when you have nothing left to lose, because you have explored all the dead alleys of wrong solutions, then you really have the incentive and the courage to break with the past and change in a practical way. Then the change is irrevocable. And eventually the fear of death gives way to thrill as you realize that the death of ‘me’ is already happening. (...)
RESPONDENT: I wouldn’t say the odds are heavily stacked against me. In the current scenario I would say the odds are at least 50/50 or better but I have no way of knowing for sure. The point is that there is substantial risk. It looks like confronting fear itself is the way to overcome fear and not to avoid situations that cause fear.
VINEETO: It is, of course, entirely your choice and your business how you are assessing the odds – I was simply reporting the general figures of stock market gambling which are evaluated at 75% or more losers compared to 25% or less winners.
As for ‘confronting fear’ – people have tried for centuries to tackle their fear of physical danger by confronting it and many of the early pioneers discovered remote and dangerous areas of the planet only because they confronted their fears and left home despite their fears. Nowadays, in the absence of sufficient real physical dangers and explorations, highly dangerous adventure sports are promoted for people to satisfy their need of boosting their adrenalin and their ego – activities such as car and motorbike racing, Everest climbing for tourists, wild water rafting, cave diving, meeting man-eating sharks in plain dive suits, parachute and bungee jumping, etc., etc. There are also those who seek the same rush from other less physically dangerous activities such as playing video games, gambling or watching other people performing dangerous or violent activities.
What I am saying is that the idea of confronting one’s fears is nothing new, it is part and parcel of the human condition and has not resulted in any change towards more benevolence and happiness in human behaviour. People who confront their fear are in no way less malicious or less sorrowful despite the sometimes-enormous effort and time they invest trying to get rid of their fear. In your specific case you seem to want to tackle fear with more risk-taking, i.e. with greater desire, whereas in my experience it is the desire to ‘hit a homerun’ as you say further down, that generates the fear of loss in the first place.
The way I tackled fear was firstly to be sensible in practical situations thereby reducing the risk of actual danger or loss, which served to stop fuelling the fires of passion. Then I set about enquiring into the reasons that lay behind my various fears. My aim in actualism has never been to be free from fear only, but to become free from my malicious and sorrowful feelings and behaviour – and this enterprise initially generated a lot of fear. As I questioned my dearly held beliefs, my spiritual loyalty, my friendships, my role as a worker, as a woman, as a part of a social group – in short my entire social conditioning – the fear sometimes seemed completely overwhelming.
This fear I overcame by simply doing what I had decided to do despite my fears. This is not confronting the feeling of fear itself but simply setting oneself a goal in life and getting on with doing it. This way I did something useful with the fear by turning the feeling of fear into the thrill of discovery. I also did a similar thing with desire – I used it as the desire to succeed in my newfound life’s aim. Nurture was similarly utilized in wanting to be part of the ending to human suffering, and aggression was channelled into a quiet stubbornness and determination to succeed.
To only seek to become fearless is in itself a selfish aim and only serves to enhance and embellish the ‘self’, the lost, lonely and cunning entity inside this body. Those who pursue fearlessness without also investigating their aggression, nurture and desire often succeed in attaining a self-enhancing and self-aggrandizing altered state of consciousness, known in the East as Satori, or if the state becomes permanent, spiritual enlightenment.
VINEETO to No 16: Given that the topic of our discussion has been your theory that ‘sorrow comes from fear’ and the fact that ‘at root fear is the most basic of all the instinctual passions’ I might add something that is essential to understand fear. Fear in human beings is the direct result of ‘me’ wanting to survive – ‘I’, the passionate alien entity inside this flesh and blood body, will do anything in order to stay in existence. Thus the only way fear can be diminished is to diminish the ‘self’ – the weaker the ‘self’ becomes, the less fear there is. There is simply no other way to permanently decrease and eventually eliminate fear because ‘I’ am fear and fear is ‘me’.
The magic ingredient for diminishing the ‘self’ is altruism. Obviously, when my intent is focussed on a goal greater than ‘me’, ‘self’-interest and ‘self’-centredness then play a minor role in the game – that’s why actualists refer to ‘pure intent’. Contrary to the traditional idea of battling and transcending fear via ‘self’-enhancement, the fact is that only an altruistic pursuit can reliably reduce and eventually eradicate fear because only altruism can break the instinctual ‘self’-centredness that is the very root of fear.
The traditional honourable goals have been to battle malice and sorrow in other people through political, religious or therapeutical pursuits – thus everyone meddles in everyone else’s life and is busy trying to solve everyone else’s problems. For an actualist the altruistic pursuit translates into actively eradicating malice and sorrow from his or her life in order not to burden anyone with his or her sorrow and not to hurt anyone with his or her malice. Fear then disappears on its own accord because the more faint the ‘self’ becomes, as the ‘self’-serving emotions are progressively investigated and eliminated, the less there is for ‘me’ to control, deny or defend.
VINEETO: If you examine the situation you find yourself in then you might notice that it was greed that brought you into this situation in the first place and it is greed that keeps you in a situation that ‘is much more dangerous and could have much more dire consequences’. Vis –
If you want to ‘make progress toward eliminating the ‘me’ that is causing the fear’ you will have to take into account that greed is as much an instinctual passion that constitutes ‘me’ as fear is.
RESPONDENT: I’m not sure about greed being ‘as much an instinctual passion that constitutes ‘me’ as fear is.’ I haven’t heard about greed being an instinctual passion before. It seems to me that greed arises out of fear and also that greed causes fear.
VINEETO: The instinctual passions are one single operating program whose basic function is to ensure the survival of the species and this single program has various salient aspects to it – the main ones being fear, aggression, nurture and desire (aka greed). This instinctual programming can only be understood – and eliminated – as a whole, it cannot be eliminated in part. Any attempt to single out one passion while ignoring the rest can only lead to selective denial and dissociation – you will find many descriptions of, and teachings for, such practice in esoteric bookshops all over the world. (...)
VINEETO: The way I made ‘progress toward eliminating the ‘me’ that is causing the fear’ was that I stopped trying to suppress, sublimate or eliminate my unwanted feelings, and hoping for a world as-I-wanted-it-to-be as I had in my spiritual years, and set my goal in life at being happy and harmless in the world-as-it-is, with people as-they-are. I made the effort to become aware of my beliefs and my good and bad feelings when and as they were happening and I emphasized my felicitous feelings to the point that I could actually begin to enjoy be here for the first time in my life. With resentment gone from my life I found that I stopped blaming others for my moods and stopped using them as an excuse for my malice, which meant that I also found myself becoming more benign.
Becoming aware of what I feel and believe each moment again gives me the option of making a choice each moment again – away from automatically opting for actions determined by my instinctual programming (fear, aggression, nurture and desire) towards a sensible and intelligent decision as to how to avoid dangerous or stressful situations, and how to be at ease and enjoy life so as to be more happy and to be more harmonious with other people.
RESPONDENT: Yes, this makes sense but as I pointed out above sometimes when we are involved with other people we get into situations that are out of our control and sometimes unforeseen things happen.
VINEETO: The challenge for an actualist is to be unconditionally happy and harmless and that includes all involvements with other people and all ‘unforeseen things’ that happen.
RESPONDENT: You said above ‘And once I stopped doing what caused me to feel sorrowful, then the fear of this sorrow re-occurring also disappeared.’ I am not sure about this because stopping what causes fear in a given situation is not going to eliminate the fear from reoccurring. It will stop the current fear in the current situation but it won’t end fear (‘me’). This sounds more like an avoidance of fear (‘me’).
VINEETO: We’ve been at this point before. If I may remind you of the discussion in question –
RESPONDENT: Ok, this makes some sense and I have started doing this since I talked to you last. I have used the fear to start reducing the risk of actual danger or loss. I still don’t see how this is going to permanently eliminate fear from re-occuring but I will keep looking at it.
VINEETO: You cannot eliminate fearful feelings just because it seems like a good idea. In order to free yourself from the genetically encoded survival program you will need an altruistic goal – an aim in life that gives you the non-‘self’-oriented perspective you need in order to dare to radically change. Without an altruistic goal you will go round in circles, trying this method and that teaching, this technique and that medicine without ever evincing any change at the core of your ‘being’.
As an actualist I want to become unconditionally happy and harmless, knowing full well that achieving this goal will be the end of ‘me’. Because I have a clear direction I can apply the actualism method with success – whenever I am not happy, as in feeling fearful, worried, anxious or sad, I immediately explore what prevents me from being happy and do whatever it takes to return to feeling happy as soon as possible. Similarly, whenever I am not harmless, as in feeling annoyed, angry, resentful or unkind, I immediately explore what prevents me from being harmless and do whatever it takes to return to being harmless as soon as possible.
RESPONDENT: This seems in contradiction to what you said above and this is more in line with what I was talking about by confronting my fears. This is what I meant by not running from it.
VINEETO: It all depends what is your goal. If you want to be happy and harmless then stopping doing whatever it is that you are doing that is triggering your fearful feelings is an eminently sensible thing to do. However, if your aim is to be fearless, then you will choose to face dangers, battle it out and take all the risks you see fit in order to achieve your goal. Then, of course, you would see reducing risks by avoiding fearful situations as merely ‘running from it’.
RESPONDENT: Yes, this is understandable. The other passions must be investigated also but I still say that fear is the most dominant.
VINEETO: Fear may seem ‘the most dominant’ because it is the passion you avidly want to loose. The other passions that give rise to the overarching human feelings of malice and sorrow might be just as dominant in you life but they seem to be of less concern to you, for whatever reason. (...)
RESPONDENT: PS: As I said above, what’s keeping me from stopping is ‘I’ don’t want to stop. ‘I’ want to keep doing what I am doing without the fear and worry. Iow, I want to have my cake and eat it too.
VINEETO: Yes, you are making it very clear that you’re not aiming for eliminating ‘me’ but you want remain an identity without the inconvenient painful side effects, namely worry and fear – in other words, you do not want to change.
RESPONDENT: It’s not that I do not want to change. On the contrary, I am simply stating the fact so that I can deal with it.
VINEETO: That’s where you and I are chalk and cheese – you want to find a way of fearlessly dealing with your feelings of malice and sorrow whereas I passionately want to become free of them.
VINEETO: Given that even enlightened people do not manage to eliminate anger and anguish – they merely disguise and designate it as being ‘Divine Anger’ and ‘Divine Sorrow’ – I do wonder what plans you have and what method you want to use in order to accomplish your aim of having ‘the cake and eat it too’?
RESPONDENT: Having my cake and eat it too is only a saying describing what I have been doing. Obviously I can’t have my cake and eat it too and that is not my aim. I have been using an old method that I used in the 70’s which has been working.
VINEETO: You say
and you also say that
Putting the two statements together, it reads that your ‘old method’ from the 70’s is ‘having my cake and eat it too’.
Yet despite the fact that you say your ‘old method’ ‘has been working’ you started this thread with –
It seems that ‘your old method’ is not working after all if something is still missing for you. .
Vineeto’s & Richard’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.