Selected Correspondence Vineeto
RESPONDENT: I prefer to abbreviate V’s statement to So much for the ‘god’. The ‘god’ is one of the most fantastic concoctions that humans cook up. Due to dashed hopes, the future never turns out quite as rosy as imagined. Rather than settle for the present, revisionist history takes over. Take the nuclear family ... we have built such a myth out of that, yet it’s been less than a hundred years since children gained more stature than simple farm animals, or pets. The present, despite its problems (mostly self-induced of course), is the best time to be alive in human history, hands down. I heard recently (unsubstantiated) that by some estimates, the world population is actually starting to drop. All it takes is a very small improvement in the standard of living for someone who has nothing other than their multitude of progeny, to raise the importance of quality over quantity.
VINEETO: The curious thing is that ‘the most fantastic concoction’ of the good old days is not at all a recent invention but as old as human history. For instance, Sal Baron wrote in his book about the history of Jews that any prophet who made optimistic predictions was automatically considered to be a false prophet.
When I took up actualism I began to be very attentive to my insidious habit of trying to blame someone or something whenever something ‘went wrong’ because it stood in the way of a clear-eyed assessment of the particular situation. Interestingly I found that blaming myself was as much of a hindrance – or a safety belt for real change – as blaming others. But once I was able to prize apart my emotional reaction – blame or guilt – from what actually happened, it was relatively easy not only to fix the problem but also to avoid making the same mistake again.
In a pure consciousness experience it is palpably clear that ‘I’ am the problem – my emotional reactions are ‘my’ problem and my passionate beliefs are ‘my’ problem and nobody else can fix me up but me.
VINEETO: You recently wrote to No 33 about what you described as ‘a mini-PCE’, saying that it was ‘accompanied by a real sensation of unfettered happiness’. The expression, and my own experiences of ‘unfettered happiness’ triggered some trains of thought.
RESPONDENT: I’ve been mulling over the first part of your post, the reference to a PCE as seeing from ‘a bird’s eye view’. It was oddly coincidental as it arrived the same day as I had awoken to what I think was a mini-PCE. I had spent a good part of the day before actively recollecting PCE experiences of my earlier years so I must have greased the skids a bit (side note – this is why the vets hammer on remembering a previous PCE so strongly). It was similar to experiences I had had when younger, and there was a definite perception of being ‘outside’ or ‘not myself’, a ‘bird’s eye view’. It was also accompanied by a real sensation of unfettered happiness, something which I realize has been all too lacking of late. Alas, it was not long-lived but residuals did linger through the day. I think that my ‘outside’ interpretation is a natural first conclusion, when historically the ‘identity’ is considered the ‘real’, hence anything else is foreign, but if I have the nerve to suggest that the ‘identity’ is actually on the ‘outside’ (so to speak) of my actual self, then a PCE exposes the real nature of ‘identity’ as interloper. Same shoes, different feet.
I think it’s time to cut back on the intellectualization and spend some more time on the experiential half of the process...
VINEETO: I found that I am experiencing ‘unfettered happiness’ only when I am both free from fear and free from guilt, the two dominant emotions remaining after I had investigated, and greatly reduced, anger, sorrow, love and hope. I found that both fear and guilt are inextricably linked with the core of my identity, with being a ‘being’. At core ‘I’ am guilty being a ‘being’ and ‘I’ know it. ‘I’ am feeling guilty that ‘I’ am being here, and I am aware of it most of the time.
Richard’s latest conversation with No 37 threw some more light on the issue of the deep-seated feeling of guilt that remains even when the social-religious conscience consisting of the morals and ethics of society has been dismantled –
VINEETO: I always wondered what produces sincere intent to be happpy and harmless because it greatly puzzled me that some people seem to have more of it than others. I discovered that my own sincere intent to become free from the human condition consists of two main ingredients – one is the memory of a pure consciousness experience and the other is the awareness and acknowledgement of my inherent guilt for being a ‘being’ and the subsequent determination to do whatever is needed to become guilt-less – innocent.
Most people I met and talked to in my life were more interested in getting rid of fear which is, next to guilt, the other major side-effect of being a ‘being’. However, I found the pursuit of fearlessness an extremely ‘self’-ish and ‘self’-centred affair, given that feeling fearless only benefits and enhances one’s ‘self’ and is not concerned with bringing an end to human malice and sorrow.
In contrast, the pursuit of innocence – the determination to eliminate the root cause of guilt – is intrinsically altruistic in that I recognize that being a ‘being’ inevitably contributes to the misery and mayhem of human beings. And it is this altruistic, ‘self’-less, component of one’s intent that will ensure the success of becoming free from ‘self’.
So you see, your description of ‘unfettered happiness’ triggered an understanding as to why my spiritual pursuit of happiness through fearlessness was bound to lead only to dissociation and self-aggrandizement. However, when I stopped sticking my head in the sand, when I started to take a clear-eyed look at what’s going on in the world and finally dared to acknowledge and become aware of my guilt inherent to being a ‘being’ did I begin to fuel the sincere intent that is so essential for the process of becoming free from the human condition.
RESPONDENT: Do you consider guilt (‘major side-effect of being a ‘being’’) to be a significant component of your particular identity, or humans in general? Apparently, each of us has many layers, sharing some characteristics, but differing in others. The outer layers hold such emotions as anger, which would seem to be fairly easy to eliminate, if what I read on the AF site is true. The middle layers hold the more subtle emotions, which in your case would include guilt, and require more determined ferreting out. At the core are the instinctual based emotions – fear, aggression, nurture and desire, and presumably are only eliminated in an actual freedom. While the general categories would seem consistent for all beings, I suspect that our own particular onions would have somewhat differently flavoured layers.
VINEETO: The guilt I was talking about is guilt as Richard defined it in his post to No 37 that I had quoted –
This guilt ‘by virtue of ‘my’ very presence’ is not a ‘somewhat differently flavoured’ layer of my ‘own particular onion’ – this guilt of ‘being a being’ is intrinsic to every human being. The only way I became aware of this basic layer of guilt of being a ‘self’ was by repeated exposure to the perfection, purity and innocence as experienced in a ‘self’-less PCE. The more I experience purity and perfection, when this flesh and blood body is free from any identity whatsoever, the more I know, as soon as ‘I’ return, that ‘I’ am a fraud, an intruder, an alien entity, a fake – I undeniably know that ‘I’ am not the genuine article.
This ever-increasing awareness that all ‘I’ do is obstruct the purity and perfection of the actual universe from becoming apparent is what is speeding ‘my’ demise. To put it another way, acknowledging and being aware that ‘I’ am but a ‘fake’ undermines ‘my’ very foundation.
As you can see, the term guilty ‘by virtue of ‘my’ very presence’ is used in its meaning as the opposite to innocent – an innocence that is only apparent when the ‘self’ has left the stage.
Generally in society the term guilt is used to describe the socially instilled feeling of guilt – in religious circles this is known as having a ‘bad conscience’. For an actualist, this feeling of guilt inevitably arises when you begin to question the social principles of right and wrong and the spiritual values of good and bad. To dare to question the social principles and spiritual values is deemed ‘wrong’ and ‘bad’ by any social standards and, in fact, one transgresses what is considered taboo or off-limits in any society.
In the first years of practicing actualism I had outbreaks of guilt and fear whenever I was about to leave a chunk of my social identity behind – be it my spiritual identity, my identity as member of the ‘sisterhood’, my identity of being a Christian, a German, a family-member or whenever I questioned my sexual taboos. ‘Ferreting out’ these ‘middle layers’, as you call them, does indeed require great persistence, but it is both an enormous relief as well as an immense delight to be incrementally rid of the numbing straight-jackets of one’s social identity with its accompanying feelings of guilt and fears of ostracization.
What I found essential, whenever the feeling of guilt arose, was to inquire into the nature of the feeling. Had I come across a spiritual or social moral or ethic, had I broken the law of the land or was I feeling guilty for not living up to my own standards, i.e. was I being harmful to others, either intentionally or intentionally? The outcome of this investigation then determines if I need to change my action because I aspire to live up to my own standards, or can I dismiss the feeling of guilt because this guilt originates from the unliveable morals and ethics I no longer call my own.
VINEETO: As you can see, the term guilty ‘by virtue of ‘my’ very presence’ is used in its meaning as the opposite to innocent – an innocence that is only apparent when the ‘self’ has left the stage.
RESPONDENT: Though I understand your meaning, I could argue that this is a fairly abstract, or perhaps overly dramatic use of the word guilt (responsibility for a reprehensible act).
VINEETO: I don’t insist on using the word ‘guilt’ for my experience and understanding of the intrinsic birthmark of being a ‘being’ but I can’t find any other adequate word for the absence of innocence, which I so clearly experienced in my pure consciousness experiences. For me the awareness that ‘I’ as being can never be pure or innocent is neither abstract nor overly dramatic. For me it was the impetus nudge, constantly increasing over the years of practicing actualism, to do everything I need to do to become free from the blemish of the human condition.
If I can put it another way – if I find myself being angry about something, or at somebody, then it is clear that I am being angry. This anger is the very same feeling of anger that causes aggressive and violent behaviour – it is exactly the same kind of feeling, just different in degree. Thus if I am feeling angry, no matter how mild in degree, then I am hardly being pure or innocent. Another way of saying this is that if I am feeling angry, infuriated, peeved, disgruntled, resentful, annoyed or piqued about something, or at someone, then ‘I’ am guilty, as in neither pure nor innocent. Personally, I find nothing at all abstract about this – to me it is utterly down-to-earth and sensible.
RESPONDENT: But I shalln’t as I have resolved not to argue definitions any more, esp. when accompanied by clear example.
VINEETO: I like your resolution ‘not to argue definitions esp. when accompanied by clear example’, as continually questioning the appropriateness of descriptive words often only serves to divert from the issue at hand – the need to fundamentally and irrevocably change one’s behaviour and actions, not tinker with one’s lexicology or make revisions to one’s philosophy. My favourite metaphor for this resultless enterprise of mental gymnastics is rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic – others have called it fiddling while Rome is burning.
Nevertheless, I prefer to be as accurate as possible in my descriptions of the discoveries about the human condition and my experiences in the process of actualism and I welcome any feedback. I know only too well the tendency of religious and spiritual groups to create their own unique meaning of words in order to distance themselves from others. When I left the Sannyas world I began to relearn the English language, this time with dictionary in hand, and was quite often astounded how far Rajneesh and his followers had redefined words into meaning something other than what they were meant to mean.
VINEETO: Generally in society the term guilt is used to describe the socially instilled feeling of guilt – in religious circles this is known as having a ‘bad conscience’. For an actualist, this feeling of guilt inevitably arises when you begin to question the social principles of right and wrong and the spiritual values of good and bad. To dare to question the social principles and spiritual values is deemed ‘wrong’ and ‘bad’ by any social standards and, in fact, one transgresses what is considered taboo or off-limits in any society. <snip>
What I found essential, whenever the feeling of guilt arose, was to inquire into the nature of the feeling. Had I come across a spiritual or social moral or ethic, had I broken the law of the land or was I feeling guilty for not living up to my own standards, i.e. was I being harmful to others, either intentionally or intentionally? The outcome of this investigation then determines if I need to change my action because I aspire to live up to my own standards, or can I dismiss the feeling of guilt because this guilt originates from the unliveable morals and ethics I no longer call my own.
RESPONDENT: This is the definition I was using in my question. I agree that feelings of guilt of this type are strong indicators of areas needing attention, as are shame, embarrassment, etc. I was simply organizing them (engineer brain again) into a layer that is more subtle than the strong stuff, like anger and love. My onion implied an even more subtle layer, wherein resides something akin to your first definition of guilt. Enough of the onions now, let’s make soup.
VINEETO: Yes, I agree, the feelings of guilt instilled as an integral part of one’s social identity are an ingredient of the outer layer to be peeled away and these guilty feelings can also slightly vary from person to person due to their particular social conditioning. Personally I can say that being born a ‘German’ unavoidably left me feeling guilty for the atrocities committed by other Germans before I was even born. This underlying feeling of guilt drove me to question both my national identity and my Christian belief and join the search for Eastern spiritualism in my twenties. But only after I left behind the feelings arising out of my national and my religious/spiritual identity did I discover the deeper layers of guilt ‘by virtue of ‘my’ very presence’ – and this will only disappear when ‘I’ cease to be.
In the beginning stage of putting actualism into practice I often felt guilty for daring to question the tightly knitted web of society’s morals and ethics – the rules of the game defining what I – and everyone else – must believe as being good and right, socially acceptable and personally desirable. How dare I make my own rules and standards – even if they are far superior, as in based on an assessment of silly and sensible, not right and wrong, and founded upon fact and commonsense, not belief and passion?
When I began to investigate why I felt this guilt, I found it to be a significant key to unlocking the psychological and psychic power and authority that others held over me. I found that my feelings of guilt were closely connected with the fear of punishment by an ultimate authority if I dared to question society’s revered morals and ethics. I became aware that I was afraid if I did not obey the rules that some invisible, non-physical, yet all-powerful force would punish me terribly – a fear that was over and above the fear of human ostracization and/or punishment. This rather atavistic fear was the fear of God – the ultimate moral and ethical authority. At the time I remember I was surprised to discover this deeper layer of fear as I had thrown out my belief in the Christian God a long time ago and my belief in Rajneesh’s Godliness some six months earlier.
To use your metaphor – the onion of my social identity became much thinner after I finally realized that an ultimate moral and ethical authority – a God by any name or form – only exists in the insidious passionate imagination of human hearts and minds and is nowhere to be found in an actual physical universe. In other words, being autonomous doesn’t come easy but it beats belonging and kow-towing hands down, any day of the week.
VINEETO: ‘Being mothered’ is clearly an expression for not only a physical taking care but also a close emotional relationship. Mother-child is the most primary relationship for a human being when starting life. A mother – or a substitute mother – is essential for the baby to physically survive and in later years – together with the father – essential for the child to learn the basic functions and rules in the world. From the parents one gets one’s first and strongest imprint and conditioning, and scientist say that in the first seven years one’s character is basically formed. In a physical sense it may well be that one ‘no longer need[s] to be mothered’ from the time one leaves home, but the roots of one’s identity are shaped by mother or father and the positive and negative feelings for mother or father usually play a considerable part in one’s life – unless one leaves home emotionally and physically.
Although I had done various primal therapy groups to investigate my emotional ties with my parents, there was still a lot to do and to investigate when I came across actualism. Psychology gives great credence and value to one’s memories of childhood feelings, be it anger, resentment, love, dependency or trauma and works to reconcile the now-adult with the past feelings of childhood – while actualism aims to find the root of a particular emotional hang-up, to understand the cause and eliminate it as part of one’s identity, as a son or daughter. For instance, when the question of ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive’ brings up a feeling of guilt connected to the values instilled by my mother, I would contemplate about guilt in the Human Condition as one of the moral functions that keep the social and religious system in place. With this understanding guilt is no longer a personal issue between two individuals, but an issue of the Human Condition instilled in me.
With enough courage and the firm intent born out of a PCE I can then step out of that part of my social identity and leave the values of being a ‘good daughter’ behind. The same procedure applies for any other issue connected with the mother-daughter, mother-son relationship, like loneliness, authority, fear and security, duty, peer pressure, etc. One needs not delve into the unreliable memories of childhood hurts but only investigate the feeling that is arising now as it applies to one now and as one is experiencing it now. Understanding is only needed in order that one can take action to be free of the feeling in any future moments where a similar situation may trigger a similar feeling. Be wary of trolling past memories for if one lifts the lid, the garbage bin will forever fill itself up again. Psychological and psychic therapy that focuses on childhood issues has failed for this very reason.
RESPONDENT: I noticed that my ‘unwillingness to enjoy being here’, doing whatever I am doing is my major problem preventing me from being happy now. It helps me if I check with myself if I am fantasizing or not. My mind is very fantasy prone and goes on different day-dreaming imaginative trips while numbing any other prevailing sensations.
VINEETO: Yes, I remember a kind of teetering between the intensity of pleasurable physical sensations and the subsequent fear, shame, guilt, and insecure feelings at having a good time, sometimes accompanied by an automatic anticipation of punishment that immediately dampened the experience. Particularly in sex I had to uncover and dismantle layer upon layer of numbing conditioning, social morals and atavistic fears, anticipated hurts and imagined ‘wrath from the Almighty’. And whenever the actual sensation became too burdened by fears and morals, I escaped into a well-known fantasy world. The trouble was that in my imaginary world I was always isolated from my sex-partner, from my own body-sensations and from the world around me. Secondly, this imaginary world could be destroyed by the slightest remark, by the smallest event.
Yet, knowing all those disadvantages of being in the imaginary world, it still took a conscious decision not to stay there. Whenever I found myself retreating, I had to actively remove the causes of my fears and frustrations that had initiated the withdrawal into fantasy-land in the first place.
RESPONDENT: Will this ‘I’-less state result in being slow, lethargic or will our natural body system of being active – passive self-regulate into a balanced state? There will be no more ‘I’ to psychologically motivate us and to influence the body to ‘get up and do something’ rather then, for example, to sit and enjoy a sunset. Or is being slow and lethargic an emotional state that will be weeded out by then?
VINEETO: If in asking the question of ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ I get the answer ‘ lethargic’, I know that there is a feeling to be looked at and investigated. In my experience, lethargy was a reluctance to investigate a scary issue, to question a deep-seated dearly held belief, to sort out peer-group pressure and explore what I had deemed to be the truth for many years. Lethargy, for me, is the same feeling that Alan calls ‘stuckness’, a seemingly non-feeling dull state where feelings are kept under the carpet because they are too scary to acknowledge and explore. Lethargy is simply another word for not wanting to be here, for whatever reason.
What got me out of lethargy or stuckness or denial or melancholy was always the sensible thought that it is my time and my life that I am wasting and that the issue will not go away by itself – nothing will change unless I change.
Enjoying being lazy is something different altogether. Doing nothing really well is an art that needs to be learned like every other ingredient of being happy and harmless. Doing nothing when there is nothing to do instead of running around frantically because ‘I’ need to add ‘meaning’ to life was an issue that I had to investigate over many months. For me, being capable of doing nothing involved exploring the fear and guilt of being useless, the need to belong to the group that was ‘doing something useful in life’ and the need of ‘me’, the identity, to assure my importance to others and to ‘myself’ with something that ‘I’ had produced. Additionally, there was the fear of boredom, the fear of being ostracized, the fear of loneliness, the fear of depression when there won’t be another meaningful task to get me out of bed the next day. All these fears were very real when experienced but none of them had actual validity for my physical survival.
The only thing I need to do is earn a living, pay the rent, fill the fridge and obey the laws of the land – the rest is a free choice of what pleasure to do next... There simply are no other rules as to what one has to do in life. And once I eliminated the need for, and the bondage of, the societal and religious morals and ethics, I am free to choose the best – which is to devote my life to becoming free from the Human Condition.
When I can enjoy doing nothing really well, I can also distinguish the difference between lethargy and laziness, guilt and hedonism, the feeling that I ‘should’ do something and the pleasure of getting my teeth stuck into an engaging project or issue. Investigating the Human Condition always boils down to ‘what feeling is preventing me now from being happy and harmless?’ – and then doing whatever is needed to change to becoming more happy and more harmless, until all of ‘me’ is eliminated in the final ‘pop’.
RESPONDENT: What I’m trying to point out is that ‘expression’ can be anything from ‘taking out anger on someone’ to a frown, to the way I dress, and the food I eat, or what I do to ‘clear my head’. If we are to stop ‘all expression’ of emotion immediately upon venturing down the AF road, it would seem somewhat of a nightmare. I’m not prepared to completely ‘lock myself’ up.
VINEETO: If you translate the method of actualism as having to ‘lock myself up’, then you erroneously understand it as replacing one moral rule with another. Actualism is not about proposing a new set of morals, ethics and values – in actualism you set out on your own volition to remove all of the programming that generates malice and sorrow. ‘You’ are at root a passionate feeling being and everything ‘you’ do is expression of a belief, an emotion or an instinctual passion in one way or another. Therefore following the current fashion of overtly expressing my emotions is strengthening ‘me’ whereas questioning and investigating my emotions is pulling the rug out from under ‘my’ feet. That’s why the method of investigating one’s feelings by neither expressing nor suppressing the emotion is so effective in diminishing ‘me’.
I think when you have the single-pointed intent to become happy and harmless, then the answer to the question about expressing emotions will be very simple. For me, the intent to become harmless meant that I did not want to express any of my mean and malicious ‘self’ to anyone because I wanted to stop causing ripples, pressurizing others, creating guilt, or manipulating others in any way – in short, I decided not to pass on my malice. In exactly the same way and for the same reason, I decided not to pass on my sorrow in any way, be it by sharing my hurts and disappointments, airing my moods or commiserating with others about life being a bitch.
Similarly, actualism is not about repressing your emotions, as in ‘locking yourself up’. The aim of actualism is not to become an emotionless zombie but to eliminate the insidious good and the invidious bad emotions and aim for the felicitous/ innocuous feelings. Richard’s article ‘This Moment of Being Alive’ describes precisely and succinctly how you can rid yourself from malice and sorrow.
ALAN: The emotion I had most difficulty with was guilt. Guilt at ‘leaving’ my wife behind, guilt at being happy and guilt for making her unhappy.
VINEETO: Yes, guilt is a bummer! Not only did I find it rooted in my social or cultural conditioning, but also in the religious upbringing (catholic and even deeper, Jewish as the basis belief of Christianity). And underneath I found the instinct: Peter and I talked a lot about the male and female versions of the instinct of nurture and how they express. The man instinctually has to take care of his woman and child, secure their survival and work his whole life for it. Further he has to be strong and go out and fight should the family – or country – be in real or assumed danger. So guilt could also be rooted in not acting according to that instinct. We wrote a good definition on male and female instincts in Peter’s glossary.
ALAN: All of these boiled down to an examination of me being ‘responsible’ for others (which is, of course, nonsense) and underlying that, the fear of being on my own and of being different. As Richard has often said, it takes nerves of steel to break free from the safety of the herd and I was often accused of being obsessed, having a ‘one track mind’ and ‘twisting her words’. Another favourite was being ‘clever-clever’. As more emotional ties were severed and these taunts began to more and more miss their mark, so their frequency diminished – with nothing to hook into, there is little point in ‘casting’, as mentioned above.
VINEETO: Yes, the other ‘bummer’ for me was moving away from the herd, being on my own, moving away from the group of Sannyasin I knew and the women’s circle. It is another instinct, and it was accompanied with lots of fear – hence the nerves of steel.
The longer I am writing on the sannyas list, the more I understand the meaning of ‘twist’. I am looking at the world in a different way than they are (180 degrees, in fact) and they see it as me twisting reality, while I know that the Human Condition is twisting everyone’s perception. I have ‘untwisted’ myself.
‘Clever-clever’ is one of the typical male-female issues, I know it well from my past relationships. And women are often right in their accusation, when men go off into their cerebral world of logic and theoretical conclusions. But then, when the ‘hooks don’t catch’, you know that you experience the world neither cerebrally (more male territory) nor emotionally (more female territory), but sensually. And that’s where the male-female battle ends. Utterly fascinating!
ALAN: Then tonight, catching up on reading what had been written while I was away, it suddenly got to me. This, what I am engaged on, is of far, far, too much importance to give up this easily. Can I live with the fact that every suicide, every war, every rape, every murder, every abuse, every instance of malice is unnecessary – and do nothing about it? No. Whatever is necessary must be done.
VINEETO: My practical mind has always had trouble with ‘altruism’ for the simple fact that even if I become free, everybody will have to discover and achieve freedom for themselves. And, as we have seen, up to now not many people have been intrigued to investigate the proposition. So I figured, cunningly, that it wouldn’t make much difference to the world at large if I became free or not. I pursued freedom simply for my own benefit and delight, knowing that this is the very best I can do with my life.
But in the last few weeks this line of pursuit has proved to be insufficient. I noticed that I kept losing my happiness and sparkle of Virtual Freedom as it was sometimes replaced by complaining about physical inconveniences like headaches or a ‘pain in the neck’, weirdness, feeling odd, fear attacks and bouts of doubt. Assessing my situation objectively, I realised that the option to stop or go back to ‘normal’ had disappeared altogether. What would I want to go back to? I had left my old life because it was unsatisfactory and that would still be the case.
But something else was needed to get me through the oddness. Stubbornness, guilt for ‘being’ an intruding entity and the glittering prize of actual freedom were not enough. And I found another line of Richard’s writing – a benefit of my extensive playing with the web-site:
There it was again – ‘altruistically self-immolated’ – and this time I could see the word from another angle. It has nothing to do with being altruistic for other people – whether they get something directly out of my becoming free or not. It has to do with being unselfish as in my ‘self’ getting out of the way, so that the perfection can become apparent. ‘I’ won’t even get a medal for my altruistic behaviour – ‘I’ will simply not exist anymore. And thus my hang-up with the Christian – and spiritual – morality of being selfish or un-selfish has finally been resolved.
Now I can see the sparkling morning, the dewdrops glittering thousand fold on the thin tea-tree leaves, moving and shining like river stones, the birds chirping their birds-sounds and the air moist and warming for another glorious spring day. Everything is perfect when I stop insisting of keeping my ‘self’. Suddenly it is all easy and I am back on the wide and wondrous path – and the pain in the neck is just a signpost for the right direction. Ah, fantastic.
Since I finished this letter I had another discussion with Richard about being here now, in this moment in time, with having a past or a future, and I experienced again the eerie wonderful and odd thing of being here now without a ‘self-induced’ story that keeps the moments together like pearls on a string. From this point of view, from simply being here each moment again there is no question whatsoever that Actual Freedom is what I want, 24 hrs a day.
And, being back in having a bit of a past and a bit of a future, I am still determined to make it happen, no other reason needed. The continuing oddness of not really knowing where I left the ‘meaning of life’ that had tied my life together so nicely before, can only be a good sign. Ahoi.
ALAN: A bit more on altruism.
After writing the mail to Peter, I guess I got ‘off my backside’! I was sitting in the garden reflecting on something Richard had written, when suddenly I ‘got it’. The peace and perfection and purity of this actual universe is here all the time – every moment for ever and ever and ever. And, this body is experiencing that purity and perfection for every second of its existence (the body’s existence, that is).
Which led to the question – if that purity and perfection is always in existence why am I not aware of it? A few bricks tumbled down – because ‘I’ can never be aware of it. ‘I’ do not actually exist. ‘I’ am all that is standing in the way of that purity and perfection evincing itself each second. For so long as ‘I’ exist the purity and perfection (which is always there) cannot manifest.
So, why should ‘I’ get out of the way and allow that to occur? Why should ‘I’ cease to exist? After all, ‘I’ am all that ‘I’ am. And, the only reason for ‘me’ to self immolate is to demonstrate to others that the actual world actually exists. To demonstrate that peace on earth is not only possible but, achievable. Hence, altruism. Of course ‘I’ cannot do it for ‘me’. ‘I’ can only do it for others and for the sake of peace on earth. Facts are such deliciously wonderful things, are they not?
VINEETO: I used to have a bit of trouble defining altruism myself. When I discovered actualism the first thing I wanted was to become free for myself. In the beginning I couldn’t quite relate to an altruistic motive because I first had to investigate and eradicate the moral of unselfishness and the passion of compassion. I have written about unselfishness that had run deep in my original Christian conditioning and I think this I where your observation to Peter applies –
However, these acts are not done with an altruistic motive at all. People are merely obeying the morals of ‘thou shalt be unselfish and ye shall be rewarded in heaven.’ In order to discover my altruistic intent I first had to wipe out all traces of this particular moral in me together with the persistent feelings of guilt for doing something for myself instead of doing good in the world by trying to change others.
When I first started applying the method of actualism I quite selfishly wanted to become happy and to get rid of my debilitating habits of misery, my crippling feelings of fear and my embarrassing bouts of anger and neediness. A few months into the process of investigating my emotions I noticed that I had also become less and less ‘self’-centred and less and less ‘self’-ish. This was something entirely different to the hypocritical moral of being unselfish because by taking apart my emotions and passionate beliefs I was breaking down the very content and substance of my ‘self’. In my actions I became more considerate of other people and more sensitive to others’ preferences and needs. That’s when harmlessness slid to the top of the laundry list and being happy without being harmless became simply impossible.
At this point in the process compassion and universal sorrow started to come to the surface. By being less occupied with my own problems and less consumed by my own feelings – because they were simply disappearing into thin air – I started to clearly see the misery and fighting, the corruption and starvation, the injustice and torture, the rapes and murders, the child abuse and poverty, the devastating plagues and shocking wars that afflict everyone’s lives in one way or the other. There were days when I was simply soaked in helpless sorrow about the misery in the world, a misery so vast that it spread from one end of the planet to the other, an endless reservoir of sorrow stretching from the beginning of the human race until the present day.
The only way to extract myself out of this overwhelming feeling of sadness for others was to apply common sense – it doesn’t help anybody that I sit in front of the television and cry my eyes out. However, it is clear that it certainly helps me and everyone else I come in contact with that I am becoming free from malice and sorrow ... and this is where the feeling-only state of compassion was turned into active altruistic intent. The feeling of compassion then became the action of altruistic intent – I am ploughing on despite my fears, against any tendency to rest in comfortable numbness in order to bring an end to malice and sorrow, to prove that actual freedom is possible – not for one person only but for anyone who wants it desperately enough.
Peace on earth is not a small matter, it is enormous. Actualism is the participation in the process of making peace-on-earth a scientific, i.e. repeatable, fact ... to prove that it is possible to live free from the human condition, 24h a day, everyday. When actual freedom is proven to be repeatable then it is really an irrefutable fact.
After I cleaned myself up from the moral of unselfishness and the blind passion of compassion, altruism started to become more and more apparent – not so much as a feeling but rather as a continuous striving towards my avowed aim of ‘self’-immolation. This altruistic intent results in the deliberate obsession to do whatever is necessary to turn the dream for peace into a fact and to be considerate, caring, good company, harmless and perfectly happy in the world as it is with people as they are. In order to turn my dream for peace into a fact constant application, stubborn determination and keen awareness are needed – in one word, effort. What fuels this effort is altruistic intent and this is what gets me off my butt every day.
IRENE: ‘I can’t see you do much harm, though, in your frantic fanaticism. Other people have told me in confidence how they feel repulsed by you in the same way as you yourself freaked out when meeting a fanatic disciple of another ‘creed’ a few weeks ago.
VINEETO: Bye the way, that experience with the ‘fanatic disciple of another ‘creed’ a few weeks ago’ was not because I was ‘repulsed by’ his creed. You managed to re-interpret again.
When this ‘fanatic disciple’ talked about the damage Hitler and fascism had done and about the guilt and remorse he felt about his father’s deeds, I suddenly experienced the immensity of his emotions, both his guilt and his extremely vehement urge to seek the love of his God... it was so overwhelming that I had to leave the room for a while and later asked him briskly to leave. Repulsion, in my understanding, is an instinctual response to events, and I did not experience this at all. Again this is your interpretation.
RESPONDENT: Long time, no read. I’m wrestling with some questions about religion. I can understand the facts that are against any form of religion = (belief). I know God = religion = war, separation and all that comes with it. I know on a personal basis that religion (belief) feeling guilty, taboos, = struggle and loss of freedom. Intellectually I do understand that any kind of religion doesn’t work. That also means no religion, no god to believe in.
VINEETO: In my experience it is one thing to understand intellectually the personal facts and global consequences of believing in god and religion, and it is another step to actualize this understanding in my life. It is already a daring step to question the sensible-ness of all the religions, of the (imaginary) existence of God and the oh so holy belief in a ‘higher entity’ running the show and rewarding or punishing us for good or bad deeds. It is vital to gather your own information – facts and figures, so to speak – in order to make it blindingly obvious how much harm this belief in an absolute authority and an eternal soul has caused throughout human history. Once you have enough information for a ‘prima facie case’ then you can proceed with investigating what it is that still makes you want to believe in a Messiah, a Guru, Ancient Wisdom or Ancient Ethics.
In my own experience, a mere intellectual understanding was only the beginning of my investigation and it proved insufficient to get rid of guilt, fear, insecurity, taboos or the psychological need to rely on an ultimate authority. To eliminate the belief itself, in my case the belief in the superiority of an enlightened master, I had to dig deep into my psyche, examine the admiration, love and need to belong, investigate the source of the emotions and find the underlying passionate conviction. A great part of this conviction was made up of cultural conditioning (Christianity and Western ethics) as well as later acquired beliefs, such as the bundle of Eastern mystical beliefs. In questioning the validity and sensibility of all these morals and rules, beliefs and superstitions, I discovered an even deeper layer – my need to belong to a group, a religion, a tribe. I discovered the need to have a personal idol who I admired, worshipped, sought advice from (in books, Osho’s discourses or imagined conversations), who gave me reassurance and a feeling of ‘doing the right thing’. I knew ‘somehow’ that all this didn’t work very well – it produced neither personal happiness nor peace at large – but I was too scared not to have the guidance from those ‘authority’ figures.
VINEETO: Love is merely a human invention to cover the embarrassment of being animal at one’s very core.
RESPONDENT: Now, to move from the broader picture to the more personal picture: I was about 40 years old before it ever occurred to me that sex could simply be for sex. I don’t want to give the impression that I was dysfunctional, everything worked fine, but there was always a more primary purpose for sex than just enjoyment. As a young Catholic girl, you were told to hold out on sex for marriage. As a member of the 60’s generation, there was lots of sex, but the payoff was love, sex for love. As a married person, sex was to improve the relationship. As a person involved in spiritual discovery, sex was a tool towards enlightenment. Every cultural/spiritual influence of my life has said sex is for something else, besides yummy, delicious enjoyment. Just like life itself is the journey to heaven, or bliss, or freedom from the wheel of birth and death, etc.
VINEETO: I was raised a Catholic and I know the implications. Sex was always dimmed by the dark shadow of guilt, sometimes enhancing the thrill but always keeping me within the boundaries of society’s values. In my twenties I explored emotions via primal therapy but sex was strictly excluded from the explorations. The early years in Poona in Rajneesh’s ashram were a wide field of sexual experiments for me, but as you say, I always wanted more than sexual pleasure – attention, affection, love, recognition, being part of a group, etc., etc. Only when I came across Actual Freedom, I came to understand that one has to remove one’s identity completely in order to enjoy sex for the pure sensuousness of it – ‘I’ will always feel abused and neglected when ‘I’ am not recognized with affection, love and gratitude.
Sex as a ‘tool towards enlightenment’ was a theory and/or practice so full of contradictions, hypocrisy and loopholes that in the end I could not make any sense of it anymore. As I said to No 8, investigating and enjoying sex as integral part of a journey towards purity and perfection was for me one of the first attractions of Actual Freedom.
GARY: I still cherish the idea that conflicts can be dealt with openly and that it is not a waste of time to do so. But, on further reflection, it is meaningless to attempt to do so without intensive investigation of the beliefs, feelings, and passions involved for one at the same time. I have found that much can be done to resolve a conflict by openly discussing with another exactly what one’s position or stake in a matter is, in a respectful and considerate manner, whilst paying close attention to listen to another’s point of view. If one has intensively investigated a particular issue that comes up, say, in a work situation, and understood the instincts and passions that are involved in contributing to conflict with others, then one is in a good position to mend a relationship with another. All too often, and I think this may form the basis of your objection to dealing with things ‘out in the open’, however, the ‘open and honest’ approach is really just a way of scoring points on the game field by insistently pushing one’s point or one’s agenda on the other. If one is angry, for instance, one may merely want to make the other person guilty by airing one’s grievance in the open. If one does not have that scrupulous honesty by which every feeling, belief, or passion is rigorously investigated, then attempting to resolve conflicts will automatically go awry, and the ‘out in the open’ approach will not be so out in the open but subject to manipulation and game-playing. To be entirely honest with myself first, and then to give others the consideration which is their due, is often the best way to deal with conflict. But if the conflict is persistent and does not go away no matter how intensively one investigates it, then other measures, like respectful and level-headed discussion with the parties to the conflict, is indicated.
VINEETO: What I found works best for me when I have any emotional issue is that I always take it that I have something to look at in me. When someone else’s emotion triggers a reaction in me, again, I have something to look at in me. This way there is no conflict that needs to be dealt with ‘out in the open’. If I am not emotionally affected, the situation is not a conflict and the issue on hand can easily be dealt with according to what is silly and sensible in order to find a win-win solution for everyone. Should the others insist on their emotions, which they often do, it is not in my hands to convince them otherwise.
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: True again. One often has a corresponding sense of being on a mission to save other less fortunate souls. As I work in the social work field, I can see that social workers often have a sense of missionary zeal that is closely linked to Christian morality and ethics, harkening back to the time of Manifest Destiny, and the emergence of the social work field due, in large part, to the appalling poverty and social conditions during the Industrial Revolution. One sees over and over again that Compassion fails to deliver the goods. I am shocked sometimes by the anger that I see fellow workers express to the very clients they are charged with taking care of. I myself, when younger, worked in a mental institution and witnessed scenes of violence by the caretakers towards the patients and was violent myself towards my institutional charges. One sees the (and it is so-labelled) familiar ‘Compassion Fatigue’ among mental health field workers. A curious expression, it points up the fact that Compassion is phoney, not substantial, and is based on a sense of mission stemming from the professional and personal identity. It so easily turns to anger when others don’t live up to one’s expectations or when one’s sense of grandiosity is not fulfilled. One also sees the pity that fellow workers lavish on themselves by complaining that they are burdened and ‘burned out’ by taking care of so many people. Such a sense of exhaustion immediately relates back to the imperative in the field of being loving and compassionate, denying one’s anger and hostility towards the work, the institutional setting, and (oftentimes) one’s clients.
VINEETO: When I took up actualism, one of the first things I encountered was a feeling of guilt for being selfish, i.e. for not complying with the Christian and spiritual ethics of being unselfish. The idea of this so-called unselfishness is based on the instinct of nurture and the corresponding morals and ethics that are meant to balance our natural greed and aggression. You are taught to help others in need on the shaky premise that they will help you when you are in need – whereas it is so much more sensible if everyone first tended to themselves and cleaned up their own act. In order to clean up my act I had to stop getting involved in other people’s lives – as in giving advice, commiserating, being busy with everyone’s emotions or exchanging resentments about how tough life is. I became very ‘self’-obsessed, only concerned about my own emotions and how I can investigate and eliminate them.
About a year into the process it became apparent that, in becoming less and less of an emotionally driven being and therefore less ‘self’-centred, my range of perception and attention had broadened. It was then that I understood that altruism has nothing to do with my former ethical ideal of unselfishness but that it arises out of the fact that we are all fellow human beings and that I want the best for me and every other human being. When one is honest and sincere, the best contribution to peace-on-earth means freeing myself and others from the burden of my animal instinctual passions – ‘self’-immolation.
GARY: Actualism is the study, the investigation of this ‘me’ who is standing in the way of experiencing a totally incomparable quality of life, second to none, which is freely available to all and sundry, once ‘I’ willingly self-immolate. Trouble is, ‘I’ will do just about anything to stay in existence. Like the proverbial Dutch boy with his finger in the dyke, once I think I’ve got it under wraps, fresh new leaks of ‘me’ sprout up all over the place. Gary to Alan, 7.6.2001
VINEETO: I like your analogy because it describes very well how one can experience oneself when applying the method of ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ for some time, as belief after belief gives way to the irrefutable obviousness of facts and one ‘self’-image after the other crumbles in the bright light of sharpening self-awareness.
In the first months of my investigation I was thrilled and excited when I saw my beliefs tumbling, my morals thrown overboard and my ethical values gone out the window because they no longer made any sense. The challenge was to eliminate my social identity bit by bit, to question and examine my cherished beliefs, my ideas about right and wrong, good and bad and to shed my identity of belonging to a gender, a nationality, a profession, a race, a religious or spiritual group – in short everything that would give me definition, value and position as a member of society. Having looked again and again under the hood of the nice and the good girl that I usually was, I was at times shocked at what I discovered, as in ‘is that really ‘me’, is that who ‘I’ really am?’
However, some several months into my explorations, I remember a stage when I thought that I had done enough and cleaned up my remaining ‘self’ enough. Consequently, every time I experienced an emotion creeping up, I berated myself, resented that I still had feelings and wondered if I had missed a signpost and gone off the ‘right’ track. I had long discussions with Peter and Richard and read and re-read about the method of Actual Freedom until I had to admit that I had fallen into the trap of attempting to live as a ‘reduced self’, as much as possible devoid of feelings, and that this was the reason why I was feeling so stuck.
When I examined this attitude a bit closer, I found it to be a remnant of my past spiritual teachings – despite my initial genuine investigations I had inadvertently transmogrified the method of actualism into the Buddhist-based teachings of transcending or sublimating my feelings instead of eliminating the ‘self’ that generates them. This ‘escape route’ will inevitably present itself as a ‘self’-preserving way of sweeping the remaining ‘self’ and its resultant emotions and feelings ‘under the carpet’ in order to remain ‘me’. At this point the challenge was to see myself coming closer and closer to the point that cleaning myself up was not the whole story – that I was in fact undeniably moving to a point of no return. In hindsight, I can say that attempting to be a rational, sensible but emotion-reduced ‘self’ via sublimated feelings was jamming my foot on the breaks in order ‘to stay in existence’.
It took me many deep breaths to fully acknowledge that ‘I’ consist of nothing but my emotions and instinctual passions and that there won’t be any of ‘me’ left when all of the Human Condition in me is ‘cleaned up’. Or, to put it the other way round, it is impossible to clean myself up without simultaneously instigating my extinction. In actualism I am not merely sorting out and eliminating the good or bad attributes of ‘me’ – all of ‘me’ has to go. Once I fully comprehended the implications I could also see that there were only two options now – to abandon ship and turn back to ‘normal’ or to go full steam ahead and incite ‘my’ ‘self’-immolation. As I had already passed the point of no return because becoming ‘normal’ again was plain silly, I thought what the heck. By the way ... according to an American comedian, heck is a place not quite as bad as hell.
Well, ‘what the heck’ soon turned into more and more delicious abandon, and ever since I have been busy discovering how absolutely safe the actual world is – whenever ‘I’ have stepped aside to be able to experience its sensual abundance and utter perfection. The instinctual passions of survival are deeply ingrained in us and this is why, in order to be able to investigate those passions, the ‘dyke’ of one’s social identity along with one’s fixations of good and bad, right and wrong, has to leak and eventually break. As long as one feels it is ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ to feel fear, aggression, lust or dependency, there is no possibility of scientifically observing, factually examining, deeply understanding and successively diminishing one’s instinctual passions. Only when I know ‘me’ in all of my instinctual variations do I know all that I have to leave behind. As history has demonstrated very clearly, a blind jump from being ‘normal’ can only lead to ‘me’ changing identity by becoming ‘My Real Self’.
So, Gary, as you have discovered, actualism works successfully to ‘unwrap’, dismantle and eliminate what stands in the way of experiencing the actual – and as such the ‘Dutch boy’ may well be doomed to fail. I found, however, that I would never get more challenges than I could handle at one time, even if it sometimes initially felt that way. The trick is to remember not to take the discoveries of your emotions and beliefs as ‘leaks’ of an imperfect personality or as individual bad traits, but to understand them to be manifestations of our genetically inherited disease known as the Human Condition, i.e. common to all. The Human Condition by definition is common to all – however, each individual can instigate and facilitate their freedom only for himself and by himself.
When you see that everyone is inflicted with the same instinctual animal passions, then ‘my’ shame, ‘my’ guilt and ‘my’ doubt begin to lose their grip in the face of this obvious observable fact. Then one’s investigation changes from ‘what is wrong with my belief?’ to ‘this is a belief and where in particular is it wrong?’ That’s when investigating the Human Condition, as it is manifest in everyone and in oneself, becomes such a thrilling and intriguing adventure, so much so that one becomes fascinated, rather than seriously concerned, about how ‘I’ tick. Actualism is about being sincere, not serious – after all, leaving the Human Condition behind is considered a mental disorder.
VINEETO: I remember a stage when I thought that I had done enough and cleaned up my remaining ‘self’ enough. Consequently, every time I experienced an emotion creeping up, I berated myself, resented that I still had feelings and wondered if I had missed a signpost and gone off the ‘right’ track.
GARY: Yes, I still discern that there are times, recently in fact, that I deride myself for experiencing unpleasant emotional states. I think there is a tendency still to think that I am doing something ‘wrong’ and that I am ‘failing’ in my investigations into ‘me’. I am aware at times of the ‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’ arising at these times, the result of a long period of socialization in which one has been schooled to conform to certain behaviours, attitudes, values and beliefs, according to one’s particular background, culture, gender, and other such socializing influences.
VINEETO: Whenever I have examined particular persistent feelings of ‘‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’’ I found that I had to investigate a layer deeper than purely questioning my particular socialization. I found that my fears of not meeting the ‘‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’’ were sometimes not only my own personal standards but were closely linked to my fear of losing friends, losing my image of who I thought I was, and again and again the atavistic fear of falling off the plate called humanity. The need to belong is a strong instinctual survival mechanism and not so long ago it was indeed almost impossible to survive on one’s own without the support of one’s tribe.
However, once I found that my particular feeling of not meeting my or other people’s standards was underscored by atavistic fears of being all on my own, it was relatively easy to stop focusing on ‘my’ individual failure or ‘my’ personal socialization and concentrate on examining this common-to-all instinctual passion. Then the reason for berating myself and blaming myself disappeared by itself – it is only natural that stepping out of humanity is causing fear – and it was at the same time clear beyond doubt that I would proceed despite the tremors.
GARY: For instance, I am particularly prone to deride myself for feelings of anger. It is not surprising that in earlier years this feeling/emotion dominated ‘my’ existence. It goes in the same way that I am aware of deriding other people, in my mind, for expressing anger. Sometimes I have found myself wondering ‘Why do people get so ugly?’ (here I am using the word ‘ugly’ as a synonym for peevish, annoyed, irritated, aggressive, angry and so forth). I don’t like it when people express anger in my presence. I sometimes am ‘cowed’ by other’s expression of anger, ‘cowed’ in the sense of adopting a submissive stance. I was curious about this reaction, saw it happening a lot, and undertook to investigate it when it came up. This has been happening a lot and I am still investigating.
VINEETO: Yes, I am rather astounded how people voluntarily and proudly air their smelly socks in public. It is one thing to feel angry and quite another to let one’s anger out on others. That’s why we actualists use the expression ‘keep your hands in your pockets’ while investigating the social identity and particularly while investigating the instinctual passions. Like you, I used to be ‘cowed’ by other people’s anger, and that is exactly the purpose of aggressive behaviour. Often others’ unexpressed anger had an even stronger effect on me, as aggressive vibes seem to intensify through denial and control. As feeling beings we are very susceptible to psychic emissions from others and this is part and parcel of our instinctual survival mechanism.
Apart from considerations for my physical safety when somebody gets angry, I found that my core fear in these situations was to be ‘found out’ for the fraud ‘I’ am – as Alan said it so succinctly in his recent letter to Richard. It’s been an ongoing process from realizing for the first time in a pure consciousness experience that ‘I’ am a fraud to translating this realization into daily discoveries as to how much this alien impostress has been running, and ruining, my life. As I am the one who on my own accord is investigating my own fraudulent existence, nobody else can expose me more than I am already doing so myself! And I am not only admitting that ‘I’ am a fraud, ‘I’ am also ready and willing to take the cure – ‘self’-immolation.
Once this commitment to eliminate my own aggression and my own taking offence is taken fully on board, then aggressive arrows of others simple fall flat on the ground. The aggression of others can only trigger fear and anger in me as long as I nourish malice in myself. When I start examining my own anger and maliciousness with the sincere intent to eradicate it source, ‘me’, then I can be confident that there is no glint of malice in what I say and write and therefore other people’s accusations simply look silly. Then whenever an accusation is made, I can use it for my own explorations, as I wrote to a rather belligerent correspondent, –
When I revisited this post that I had written four years ago, I could see my process of learning to think in action. I remember that each paragraph was the end product of mulling over topics, of sincere investigation into my emotions and of honest questioning of my beliefs. I remembered how I had enjoyed the process of discovery and the act of describing it to someone else. One thing, however, was always top priority in my writing – I needed to be 100% sure that I was in no way malicious, grumpy, resentful, spiteful, revengeful or aggressive in what I said. This means sticking to the facts and being aware of the slightest emotional reaction that I might have while making good use of it for investigative purposes each time it happens.
Nowadays, having lived in virtual freedom for a sustained period, it has become effortless to be non-malicious and non-sorrowful, and should any emotion be triggered then it is easily spotted and quickly traced. No ‘should’s or shouldn’ts’ prevent me from freely acknowledging when there is a twig of a feeling, being guided by pure intent replaces the need to control and when seen for what it is, the emotion disappears as quickly as it arose. However, most of the reasons to get upset have disappeared altogether as there is no ‘self’-image to uphold and no compulsive need to defend or to maintain my identity.
Writing with sincere intent and without malice and sorrow is such an excellent tool to examine one’s relation to other people, to aid one’s thinking, to oil one’s common sense, to set in motion one’s intelligence and to ride on the thrill of ‘living on the cutting edge of reality’ – as Richard termed it. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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.
No, ‘judgement’ is the only faculty I consider worth applying. Without the soothing veil of emotions I am experiencing the full impact of the horrendous amount of suffering that people create for each other every day. This very impact gives me the fuel and intent to stop being a contributor to both malice and sorrow, to become completely happy and harmless. And the only person I can change is myself. This means, not just applying the usual ethics from this or that religious conviction and be as good as one can repress oneself, or transcend oneself, but to extinguish the very entity inside that is the seat of our innate animalistic instincts of fear, aggression, nurture and desire. To extinguish not only the ‘one I think I am’, the ego, but also the ‘one I feel I am’, the soul, the Self.
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.
Vineeto’s & Richard’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.