Selected Correspondence Vineeto
RESPONDENT: To whoever can provide an answer,
I can definitely locate an identity inside this flesh and blood body called [Respondent], but I do not actively/consciously identify with it.
VINEETO: As you stated yourself below, you *are* the identity and therefore there is no need to identify with it and to deliberately not identifying with it only results in dis-identification and dissociation. Attentiveness simply allows you to become aware of ‘me’ the spoiler and all of ‘my’ mischief.
RESPONDENT: I know that ‘affective felicity’ is the only type of ‘felicity’ ‘I’, the identity, can experience – ‘I’ being completely ‘affective’. However, as this is written, I am not currently experiencing a ‘PCE’ (a total absence of identity) yet do not experience this ‘felicity’ as ‘affective’ either. It is mostly caused by an awareness of the existence of actual time, this moment in time, and even though no real confidence in the ‘infinitude’ of the universe is experienced.
Now, am I correct in saying that it is not ‘affective felicity’ which enables me to feel good at this moment, as opposed to the ‘affective felicity’ I used to utilize to feel good in my earlier years with actualism (it being the only type of ‘felicity’ I could then experience), but rather the diminishment of the identity which lets sensuousness – something totally unrelated to the ‘self’/’Self’ – operate gradually more and more?
Or is it possible that the ‘affective’ part of this ‘felicity’ is so diminished as to not be experienced as such, which is nonetheless ‘affective’?
VINEETO: I’d give you a ‘very likely’ on the last one as I can well relate to it myself. In my experience my happiness changed from a conditional happiness – happiness about certain meetings with people, certain fulfilled expectations, purchase of particular goods or achievement of particular goals – to a more and more unconditional happiness and delight of being alive which prevails when malice and sorrow are greatly diminished or completely absent.
Although this happiness is affective because as a feeling being ‘I’ am always affective, my happiness nowadays is neither fickle nor contingent – it’s simply the naturally occurring feeling when ‘I’ don’t interfere.
Presently we are occasionally visited by our neighbour’s two children, aged 2 and 5 and particularly with the younger one I can see this underlying felicity in operation, i.e. he is happy most of the time … unless something goes against his grain. As adults things very often go against our grain and in addition one invariably carries a host of hurts and grudges from the past and as such the underlying felicity and innate naiveté has far less chance of occurring. As intelligent adults we also have the advantage of being able to choose to use common sense and be attentive to the all feelings, beliefs and habits that interfere with happiness.
RESPONDENT: Or could it be a bit of both?
I decided to ask because I think I may have muddled a bit a ‘sensuous felicity’ and an ‘affective felicity’ in my recent correspondence with No 60 – and, as No. 66 would say, I just wanted clarity.
VINEETO: Total un-affective felicity/ innocuity only happens in a PCE – and in an actual freedom of course. In the meantime my experience is that it is far better to feel felicitous/ innocuous than it is to feel malicious towards others or feel sorrowful about being here and it is far better to allow and enjoy a sensuous appreciation of the sensate delights of the physical world than to wallow in the murkiness of one’s own inner imaginary world.
RESPONDENT: Can’t criticism be another expression of interest?
VINEETO: There is a world of difference in criticism expressed by unsolicitedly putting other people down based on reading between the lines of actually written or spoken words as opposed to an interest in how to become free from malice and sorrow oneself for the benefit of this body and every body.
Maybe this is an apt moment to point out that actualism is neither a (therapeutic) group-dynamical process nor a purely subjective process as to what people gathered here want to keep or change, or throw out about the process nor is it a demographic exercise about how many people within the human condition feel about the style of the reports.
When I met Richard and realized after weeks of establishing a prima facie case that what Richard was talking about was a new paradigm – an actual freedom from the human condition, something no spiritual teacher had ever talked about, let alone had any experience of – I wanted to learn from him as much as I could. As such I knew and acknowledged that I was not at all equal to him in that I was an apprentice who wanted to learn something that Richard knew by his lived experience day by day. I was ignorant of the topic and was attentive to what Richard had to say because he knew what ‘he’ as an identity had done in order to become free from the human condition.
I also knew myself well enough to realize that I was handicapped, stymied and bound by the human condition and driven by the instinctual passions whereas Richard clearly wasn’t. As such I knew that I was easily prone to misunderstandings in my conversations with Richard, prone to emotional misinterpretations, to instinctual knee-jerk reactions, cognitive dissonance, blind spots, cunningness, and that ultimately I was fearful to be exposed as ‘me’.
But I was determined to nevertheless become free from these handicaps and from the human condition in total and therefore I knew that all these expressions of ‘me’ resisting and fighting ‘my’ diminishment and ‘my’ demise needed to be neither expressed nor repressed but clearly looked at if I were to become free of them – I also knew that any notions of wanting Richard to change in order to suit ‘my’ whims, or any notions of criticizing his style, his facial expression, his choice of words, his body-posture, his preferences and predilections was really only a distraction and a diversion from ‘me’ doing what was necessary – changing the only person I can change and needed to change – ‘me’.
Given that I was frustrated with the results of 17 years of spiritual search and eager to become free from being driven by malice and sorrow, it was not at all hard to do.
In short, after I satisfied myself that Richard is indeed free from the instinctual passions and their resultant feelings/ imaginations I stopped wasting my time and this opportunity in defending the human condition which is ‘me’, and got on with the business of learning from him as much as I could about the practical business of how to become free myself. And I still do.
RESPONDENT: Just for an example, when No 60 mentioned a long time ago that he was questioning the canonical question to ask oneself each moment again, his criticism was born of his intense interest to be successful in his quest to be happy.
VINEETO: I don’t know whether it has occurred to you or not but an interest in being happy is at best an interest in freedom from sorrow, not an interest in freedom from malice, and as such has nothing to do with an interest in becoming free from the human condition in toto.
There is far, far more to actualism than feeling happy. (...)
RESPONDENT: So why then create the Actual Freedom Trust website, eh?
VINEETO: In what way is the creation of the Actual Freedom Trust website for the purpose of passing on information about how to become actually free of both malice and sorrow to anyone regardless of their age, gender or cultural upbringing, regardless of where they are currently living on the planet, free of charge and free of any duty or obligation whatsoever, a contradiction to the statement that ‘what other people choose to do with their lives is entirely their business’?
RESPONDENT: You are happy, so why not keep quiet?
VINEETO: The reason why I have put time, effort and money into co-creating and maintaining the Actual Freedom Trust website is because of fellowship regard. I like to share my experiences about becoming virtually free from the human condition, something that has not been written about anywhere in the world other than on the Actual Freedom Trust website. In short, I do not take lightly the fortuitous opportunity of not only being able to actualize peace on earth but also of being able to share it free of charge with any of my fellow human beings who may also be as interested as I am in becoming free from the human condition in toto.
RESPONDENT: Precisely because communication is what we are all doing here. This mailing list is expressly set up to exchange notes and ideas and judgments and one’s experiences in one’s quest to be happy in a non-spiritual way.
VINEETO: This is the stated purpose of what this mailing list is set up for from the welcome message to this list –
The ‘quest to be happy in a non-spiritual way’ is markedly different to an actual freedom from malice and sorrow and maybe, just maybe, the ‘quest to be happy in a non-spiritual way’ as opposed to the intent to be happy and harmless is what causes a good deal of the controversy on this list including the recent feeding frenzy.
RESPONDENT: You say: I made Virtual Freedom my standard and I was then bound by my own integrity and supported by my intent not to slip back into not having a perfect day. I say: Virtual Freedom must be constantly policed ... maintained affectively and cognitively by a constant barrage of actualist ideation.
VINEETO: Your idea that happiness ‘must be constantly policed’ is nothing new, it can be found in many proposed strategies for happiness. To name but a few –
The traditional secular ways of being happy always involve constant self-policing in that any outbreaks of anger or sadness must be either ignored or denied or kept under control via repression and fear of punishment – it implies a moral imperative, a set of ideals, morals and ethics that need to be met and maintained – whereas living in virtual freedom is nothing like that at all because being guided by pure intent makes morals and ethics altogether redundant.
Virtual Freedom means that I have learnt via the simple method of being attentive to how I am experiencing this moment to live with ease and in peace – there is hardly anything that can upset me and as such I don’t need to keep myself under control. In fact life becomes so deliciously out from control that it would be more accurate to say that life is increasingly living me instead of ‘me’ trying to direct my life, let alone control and police myself. Even when there is an occasional situation that causes fear or irritation to arise, the ongoing habitual attentiveness allows me to swiftly return to being at ease.
In other words, being happy and harmless is the consequence of having become free from the emotional problems arising out of my beliefs/ ideas/ opinions/ worldviews and the mayhem arising from my instinctive drives strutting the stage and as a result I am able to tackle any practical problems that occur with an unimpeded down-to-earth intelligence.
RESPONDENT No 47: I know that ‘affective felicity’ is the only type of ‘felicity’ ‘I’, the identity, can experience – ‘I’ being completely ‘affective’. However, as this is written, I am not currently experiencing a ‘PCE’ (a total absence of identity) yet do not experience this ‘felicity’ as ‘affective’ either. It is mostly caused by an awareness of the existence of actual time, this moment in time, and even though no real confidence in the ‘infinitude’ of the universe is experienced. Now, am I correct in saying that it is not ‘affective felicity’ which enables me to feel good at this moment, as opposed to the ‘affective felicity’ I used to utilize to feel good in my earlier years with actualism (it being the only type of ‘felicity’ I could then experience), but rather the diminishment of the identity which lets sensuousness – something totally unrelated to the ‘self’/’Self’ – operate gradually more and more?
Or is it possible that the ‘affective’ part of this ‘felicity’ is so diminished as to not be experienced as such, which is nonetheless ‘affective’?
VINEETO to No 47: I’d give you a ‘very likely’ on the last one as I can well relate to it myself. In my experience my happiness changed from a conditional happiness – happiness about certain meetings with people, certain fulfilled expectations, purchase of particular goods or achievement of particular goals – to a more and more unconditional happiness and delight of being alive which prevails when malice and sorrow are greatly diminished or completely absent.
RESPONDENT: This absence of conditional happiness, presence of unconditional happiness and sheer delight of being alive never happened during your spiritual days? Strange days that must have been, indeed.
VINEETO: No, unconditional happiness didn’t happen in my spiritual days. In my spiritual days my happiness was dependant on a fair amount of ongoing dissociation from the world-as-it-is, dependant on the feeling of belonging to a club of the chosen few, dependant on fuelling my feelings of love for the master and receiving his hypnotic suggestions on a daily basis, dependant on succeeding in transforming my anger towards my fellow seekers and my sadness into love and compassion (which quite often failed), dependant on physically retreating from the world into a bubble of meditation that was usually so fragile and conditional that it was easily broken by trivial events such as someone cutting in at the food queue or seeing my boyfriend flirting with another woman. It was also dependant on having enough cash to remain living in India and not having to go back to the West because that meant leaving the safe haven of the spiritual commune and once again competing in the dog-eat-dog world for survival.
As for unconditional harmlessness – that wasn’t even on the agenda. Any outburst of anger could always either be justified as being ‘right’ as in righteous.
In hindsight, they were strange days indeed.
RESPONDENT: I have just finished reading about ¾ of the UGK page with all his books for free. Now, there are some clearly crack-pot things about this man.
And the list could go on, but I think that’s enough. Now, all that being said, his statement that the very search for happiness causes unhappiness seems very sensible.
VINEETO: Apparently those crack-pot things haven’t deterred you from accepting U.G. Krishnamurti’s authority and from thinking that his statement ‘that the very search for happiness causes unhappiness seems very sensible’. I say this because when I began to question my spiritual beliefs I discovered that I had accepted the authority of certain people because they were well-known and famous within the spiritual tradition despite the fact that I knew from observation that their lives weren’t worth emulating.
RESPONDENT: UGK says nothing has permanence (and this seems true to me also). Would this not make striving (also causing suffering) for happiness impossible and futile? So, I’m having a problem with the ‘happy’ part of being ‘happy and harmless’
VINEETO: The only ‘problem’ you have is that you accepted the widespread belief that one needs permanence in order to be happy. This belief has driven millions upon millions of people to further disidentify from their mortal flesh-and-blood bodies and to further dissociate themselves from the physical ever-changing universe and to search for That-Which-Is-Unchanging – the unchanging, unmoving centre within.
Searching for permanence ‘within’ is a culturally induced aberration that is an utterly selfish obsession and it only serves to increase one’s isolation from the actual world of people, things and events. The very act of retreating inside is an act of retreat from the world of the senses. If one, however, dares to come to one’s senses both figuratively and literally, one finds that what is in fact permanent is this perpetually occurring moment – it is never ever not this moment, nor can it never ever not be this moment. This is the only moment that one can sensately experience – this is the only moment in which the actual experience of being alive can happen.
RESPONDENT: And while the harmless part seems valid, UGK points out that no one is ever harmless. We kill for our food (even if only a plant) and we of course will defend ourselves for our survival.
VINEETO: Again, you appear to have accepted the authority on the meaning of harmless from a man you describe as ‘a very irascible/angry old man’ – only to end up believing his assertion that no-one can ever be harmless. It is an unavoidable fact of life that life feeds of life and many so-called wise men of the East have used this fact to deduct that the on-going saga of human beings’ aggression towards their fellow human beings is also ineluctable.
The way to become genuinely harmless towards one’s fellow man is to successively free oneself from malice and sorrow – something anybody can do if they are so inclined.
As for ‘we of course will defend ourselves for our survival’ – human beings, like all sentient beings, are born with the instinctual survival passions of fear, aggression, nurture and desire but due to the intelligence of human beings that has transformed food scarcity into abundance, basic shelter into places of comfort, the ardours of hunting and gathering into leisurely shopping and so on, the instinctual survival passions have not only become redundant but are in fact now an impediment to the survival of the species.
Richard continues to demonstrate and explain that human beings can not only survive easily and more effectively without the instinctual passions operating but be benign and carefree into the bargain. Additionally, when the separating ‘self’ arising from the instinctual passion ceases to exist, one is the ongoing experience of the impeccable integrity and excellence of the actuality of this physical universe.
RESPONDENT: UGK also states that any ‘freedom’ is an illusion because something is always conditioning us – this seems obvious also.
These are some questions I have. Thanks
VINEETO: U.G. Krishnamurti’s statement that ‘any ‘freedom’ is an illusion’ is a statement based on his own illusionary freedom and merely goes to show that he has yet to find a non-illusionary actual freedom – a freedom from one’s social conditioning as well as one’s genetically-encoded instinctual passions.
RESPONDENT No 66: I have just finished reading about ¾ of the UGK page with all his books for free. Now, there are some clearly crack-pot things about this man. 1) after ‘awakening’ to his ‘naturalness’ he became hermaphroditic! 2) his eyes no longer blink. One can check this out by viewing his videos. (I have paid close enough attention to this – I will later) 3) he is sometimes unable to recognize objects, like a chair (I’m not sure what example he gave). 4) he is a very irascible/angry old man – just watch the videos. And the list could go on, but I think that’s enough. Now, all that being said, his statement that the very search for happiness causes unhappiness seems very sensible.
VINEETO to No 66: Apparently those crack-pot things haven’t deterred you from accepting U.G. Krishnamurti’s authority and from thinking that his statement ‘that the very search for happiness causes unhappiness seems very sensible’. I say this because when I began to question my spiritual beliefs I discovered that I had accepted the authority of certain people because they were well-known and famous within the spiritual tradition despite the fact that I knew from observation that their lives weren’t worth emulating.
RESPONDENT No 66: What the? Why do you think I accept his authority.
VINEETO to No 66: You appeared to have accepted U.G. Krishnamurti’s authority because you find his statement ‘that the very search for happiness causes unhappiness’ ‘very sensible’ on one hand whilst you regard him as ‘very irascible/angry’ on the other. By your own observation, surely it is apparent that he lacks any expertise about the nitty-gritty business of being happy and harmless let alone being even interested in doing something about his irascibility. Vineeto, The Actual Freedom Trust Mailing List, No 66, 26.6.2004
RESPONDENT: I can’t follow your logical coherence here. U.G states that ‘the very search for happiness causes unhappiness’ and U.G is ‘very irascible/angry’.
What has the statement that ‘the very search for happiness causes unhappiness’ has to do with U.G being angry? If I was stating that ‘the universe is experience it’s self AS human beings’ or that ‘actualism is the perfect method’ and I am angry, should you disagree with my statements? Of course not, because these statements are convenient to you. U.G is right, because you can not be happy when you are striving to be something. Is hope that keeps you going otherwise you should be very unhappy.
VINEETO: Perhaps if I put it this way – have you not noticed by your own observation that it is impossible to be happy whilst one is being angry? – they are two contradictory and conflicting emotions. Therefore it makes sense that I find it somewhat odd for someone to give credence to comments on the validity of searching for happiness from someone whom the person regards as being very irascible/ angry. It also makes sense that unless you want to be happy, and unless you strive to be both happy and harmless, you will never be happy – in exactly the same way that unless you want to be free of a fear such as agoraphobia, and strive to be free of it, and be prepared to do whatever is necessary to become free of it, that you will never be free of it.
RESPONDENT: Tell me something, is not the self that decides to be happy and more happy? Can you disagree with that? Is it possible for any human being on this planet having the average IQ to disagree that is the self that wants to be happy and is the self that wants to immolate itself for becoming more happy? So the hole process of this method is strengthening the self. The self might have another mask, but behind the mask is the same self.
RESPONDENT: By repeating to No 66, that he told that U.G is an angry old man, is this no malice? Is not malice speaking bad for another man?
VINEETO: Malice is the desire to injure another person whereas I was simply comparing No 66’s observation of U.G. Krishnamurti’s behaviour (irascible/angry) with his evaluation of U.G. Krishnamurti’s clichéd wisdom as seeming very sensible.
RESPONDENT: Even if is No 66 who said that, by you repeating and agreeing with that, is not malice?
VINEETO: You must be kidding. Is the mere act of pointing to a contradiction malicious?
RESPONDENT: And you say that you are free from malice? Do you see your hypocrisy?
VINEETO: Given that my statements were not malicious there is no hypocrisy.
RESPONDENT: You have changed authorities, before was Osho now Richard. You can not live without authorities, you are a second hand human being. The funny thing is that being so much depressed by authorities in your life, now you want to be one. You are a leader.
VINEETO: I am neither a follower nor a leader but a fellow human being sharing my experiences about the very pragmatic process of freeing myself from the human condition. What you do with my report is, of course, your business but I am amazed how much you persist in psychologizing and fantasizing about me – nothing I said so far has apparently changed your preconceived ideas about me or about actualism.
RESPONDENT: Tell me please. You wanted to be happy. That means that you was not happy. Because if you were happy, you should not want to become happy. Is impossible for you to disagree with that, without making your self ridiculous. Now in the moment you was not happy, how do you know that happiness exist? Somebody else told you that. You believed him. Became one authority for you. And now you say to as that we must not have authorities and beliefs. You see for once more your camouflaged hypocrisy?
VINEETO: I did not need Richard to tell me if I was happy or not happy. In the forty-four years before I met Richard I had observed myself enough and was honest enough to know that I was neither happy nor harmless. I simply took a straightforward stocktaking of my life as-it-was at the time – as you would know, this is an act of sincerity, not hypocrisy.
As for knowing what happiness is – that is very simple. There were sufficient moments in my life when I was happy, both in my childhood and in my adult life, for me to know what happiness is but those moments of happiness were always fleeting and usually conditional. Richard simply rekindled my search for a happiness that is both unconditional and lasting – the same desire for happiness that had initially set me off on the spiritual path in my twenties.
RESPONDENT No 66: I do not. That is an absurd statement. I read his books with these eyes and thought about them with this brain and certain things were perceived as logical and obvious.
VINEETO to No 66: If you perceive that ‘the very search for happiness causes unhappiness’ is logical and obvious then it inevitably follows that you will regard the actualism method of eliminating malice and sorrow from one’s life to be an absurdity. It is pertinent to remember that actualism represents a complete break with the revered wisdom of the past – the wisdom that has it that it is impossible to be happy and harmless in the world as-it-is with people as-they-are. Vineeto, The Actual Freedom Trust Mailing List, No 66, 26.6.2004
RESPONDENT: I think that you don’t know what you are speaking about. May be you are speaking about what Osho told you, but not other wise people.
VINEETO: An actual freedom from the human condition represents a complete break with the revered wisdom of the past – with all of it, both Western and Eastern.
RESPONDENT No 66: UGK also states that any ‘freedom’ is an illusion because something is always conditioning us – this seems obvious also. These are some questions I have. Thanks
VINEETO to No 66: U.G. Krishnamurti’s statement that ‘any ‘freedom’ is an illusion’ is a statement based on his own illusionary freedom and merely goes to show that he has yet to find a non-illusionary actual freedom – a freedom from one’s social conditioning as well as one’s genetically-encoded instinctual passions. Vineeto, The Actual Freedom Trust Mailing List, No 66, 26.6.2004
RESPONDENT: This is your assumption only. Who told you that?
VINEETO: Nobody needs to tell me that – it is obvious that when U.G. Krishnamurti states that any freedom is an illusionary freedom that he is yet to encounter an actual, non-illusionary freedom. U.G. Krishnamurti is of the old school – he is firmly rooted in the spiritual tradition in that he offers nothing else but a nihilistic version of spiritualism. He knows nought about an actual freedom.
RESPONDENT: Do you continue to beat Peter?
RESPONDENT: I’ve pondered in the past whether unhappiness is the absence of happiness, or the existence of something called ‘unhappiness’. I know better now, but it’s another case of the human’s determination to create in the presence of a void. Since the whole AF premise is eliminative, the brain/mind abhors the (perceived) vacuum and attempts to fill it with new creations.
VINEETO: According to my experience, my happiness is epitomized by the absence of unhappiness, of both malice and sorrow with its endless variations. This happiness is then unconditional, i.e. it does not depend on particular events, things or people but is quite simply the state I am experiencing when ‘I’ and ‘my’ neurosis and feelings don’t spoil what is happening in this moment. You could also say, happiness is what remains when all reasons for unhappiness have been removed – the ‘eliminative’ process of actualism.
I know what you mean by an abhorrence of the ‘(perceived) vacuum’ – that’s exactly where ‘I’ want to come back on stage and sometimes quite dramatically. That’s when the combination of courage, intent, stubbornness and determination come in handy and, for me, the knowledge that I left my old ways forever.
RESPONDENT to No 58: And don’t forget about wanting to be happy and harmless. The above strikes me as being kind of arbitrary, a shopping list of trinkets to acquire. At this point, I might have said do whatever you want if it makes you happy, but I’m starting to think that the whole notion of happiness (and it’s evil twin unhappiness) is merely another trinket, an external, artificial object to be gained. No 30 got happiness, Richard got happiness, Peter got happiness, Vineeto got happiness, but it seems to me they are all clever metaprogramming (with possible exception of Richard... we’ll never really get inside his head) – ‘I’ve defined what happiness is and I’m going to do my damndest to convince myself I am it’.
VINEETO: For me as an actualist, becoming happy means that I investigate everything that stands in the way of being happy. In other words I begin by becoming aware of the causes of my unhappiness – feelings such as grumpiness, anger, irritation, sadness, moodiness, anxiety, etc. and then I take a clear-eyed look at the causes of my unhappiness and do whatever is necessary to prevent it from occurring again. When this attentiveness becomes on-going, the feelings that are an impediment to my happiness are disempowered. Furthermore, a genuine happiness is inextricably intertwined with becoming harmless – it is impossible to be happy unless one is harmless – something that is being overlooked again and again.
RESPONDENT: Sure, I understand that basic premise of actualism, and that you have a strong desire/intent to be happy.
VINEETO: I have the sincere intent, born of the PCE, to become unconditionally harmless and happy. Harmless always comes first with me, as it is impossible to be happy unless one is harmless.
RESPONDENT: Knock yourself out. My question was more general in nature, and I didn’t expect an answer from you or P or R any different than the one you gave.
VINEETO: As long as you make comments on this mailing list about what you imagine Peter and Richard and Vineeto are doing, and what you imagine actualism is about, you will likely get an answer from actualists whether you like it or not.
RESPONDENT: The essence of my question is in a response to No 60:
This question is not pertinent to a real actualist, but I think it’s interesting nonetheless. However, in light of the recent ‘spiritual’ thread, in which it becomes clear that P uses that term in a much broader sense than most others, I must ask how you all define ‘happy’?
VINEETO: Your question of ‘how you all define happy?’ is equivalent to asking what is the meaning of ‘feeling good’. Richard has explained that ‘feeling good’ is an unambiguous term more than once –
Have you never felt happy in your life such that you have difficulty understanding the meaning of ‘happy’? Have you never had a moment of spontaneous uncaused happiness because if you had, then you are able to answer the above hypothetical question for yourself.
VINEETO: You’ve raised this question before and you have indicated that you have understood that becoming happy and harmless in actualism is definitely not being ‘merely another trinket, an external, artificial object to be gained’. Vis –
RESPONDENT: And I have also indicated that I reserve the right to change my mind and/or appear inconsistent.
VINEETO: It does appear that you have turned your back on your own insight that ‘‘I’ have a vested interest in making sure that the fundamental experience of the actual never happens’ and have now settled back ‘to rationalize AF in terms that make sense to ‘I’’. Was there a particular event or issue that caused you to change your mind? The reason I ask is that I could relate to the insight that you had because it accorded with my own when I first understood what actualism is really about.
VINEETO: What you call ‘clever metaprogramming’ is your own misinterpretation of actualism …
RESPONDENT: No, I understand actualism very well. I just happen to think it’s faulty.
VINEETO: As long as you now call actualism ‘clever metaprogramming’ you are not understanding it at all. That you have now turned your back on your insight as to what actualism is about is also apparent in your recent post to No 67 where you suggest that actualism is equivalent to self-analysis –
There is no ‘‘searcher interfering with the searched’ thing’ in the method of actualism at all – when one is guided by pure intent to be happy and harmless and willingly and knowingly embarks on a journey to ‘self’-immolation there is no conflict at all because this guidance serves as a continuous reminder that ‘I’ am standing in the way of the purity of the actual universe to become apparent. Of course, if this pure intent is not activated, the ‘self’ has a vested interest in interfering with the search in every possible way even to the extend of waiting for ‘grace’.
VINEETO: …and it was one of the first issues you raised when you came to this list –
RESPONDENT: You have way too much spare time for this sort of attention to minutiae. Are you sure you are not trapped by your 4+Mwords of history?
VINEETO: No, the reason I am spending my time writing to you is that you once did understand what actualism is about and you had an insight that ‘‘I’ have a vested interest in making sure that the fundamental experience of the actual never happens’ – and this is no little thing to understand. I know from my own experience that such insights are easily forgotten unless they serve as a constant reminder of what actualism is about. Now if you have forgotten the insight then that is one thing but if you have deliberately turned your back on that insight and decided that actualism is not for you then that is another thing.
If you have changed your mind about actualism, then I am curious as to why you choose to remain subscribed to this mailing list and denigrate and misinterpret actualism and actualists and take sides with the naysayers?
Maybe this is an apt moment to reiterate something that is essential for an actualist to keep in mind during his or her explorations – the aim and process of actualism is not to suppress feelings and emotions in order to achieve ‘merely another trinket, an external, artificial object to be gained’, as you perceive it, but to become aware of one’s feelings and emotions in order to be able to explore them deeply and exhaustively.
The automatic socially-conditioned reaction is to wheedle one’s way out of feeling the bad feelings – those that are considered bad and immoral or wrong and unethical – by repressing the feelings and if this doesn’t work we have leant to revert to denial and/or deceit. Consequently the essential first step in becoming aware of one’s invidious feelings is to be aware of one’s habit of suppressing, avoiding or denying them.
In order for the actualism method to work it is crucial to first get in touch with one’s feelings (a common expression meaning to become aware of one’s feelings) because if I want to find out about ‘me’ in all of my guises I can’t afford to only investigate the ‘better’ half of my emotions and ignore, repress or deny ‘my’ dark side. To allow oneself to experience whatever feeling is happening often needs some investigation into what Peter has termed the ‘guardians at the gate’ – the moral judgements and ethical evaluations that trigger feelings such as guilt, shame, defiance or righteousness whenever one starts to become aware of one’s dark side and begins to feel one’s dark feelings.
It is important to remember that one needs to neither express one’s non-felicitous feelings nor wallow in them in order to become aware of them – after all the most important thing for an actualist is to be happy and harmless – and the aim is always, as soon as possible, to get back to feeling good about being here or feeling excellent about being alive. When you do get back to feeling happy and being harmless then you can put your feet up and spend some time contemplating on what it was that triggered you to stop feeling happy or being harmless. If you sincerely want to be happy and harmless you will then find that it is vital to drop that part of your social identity, be it a belief, a moral, an ethic, a value, a concept, a habit, that is causing you to be unhappy, sad, resentful, annoyed, frustrated, jealous, and so on.
As you can see, actualism is all about diminishing one’s identity to the point where one becomes virtually happy and harmless such that ‘self’-immolation can happen – it has nothing to do with re-programming, re-interpreting, re-defining, re-labelling, re-shuffling, acquiring trinkets or replacing one part of one’s identity with another more shiny outfit – if applied with sincerity and intent the method of actualism will evoke actual change and that’s why many apparently find it too frightening to commit to.
RESPONDENT: This is a stupid question according to Actualists, however, what is happiness?
When I think of it from an evolution perspective, I get happy when I’m on the track to ensuring my survival, and my genes’ survival. Simply getting back to a state of happiness doesn’t make much sense from this perspective. If I have no reason to be happy (not on track), then I’m neutral or starting to feel bad. I know that if I did absolutely nothing and had no survival skills, then I’d feel very crappy, since death would be close. Life triggers the state of happiness when I’m on track. Actualism seems to say to drop off the evolutionary ladder and somehow get back to being happy (before you start experiencing PCEs). I have the belief that happiness is a state and that trying to trigger it without a reason over an extended period gets extremely tiring since it is not homeostasis.
VINEETO: Happiness is a feeling, therefore to theorize, philosophize or speculate about happiness doesn’t help to understand what happiness is, nor will it help you to feel happy – you will only arrive at various beliefs about happiness, but no genuine understanding that could help you to be happy. If you get stuck with the word happiness, try experimenting with feeling good.
Feeling good, as the word indicates, is a feeling and the only way to understand what ‘feeling good’ means is by feeling it. The way to do this is by deliberately getting in touch with your feelings and observe them in operation and the best way to do this is by asking yourself each moment again ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’
If you feel good, then fine, if not then you determine which feeling you now have that is preventing you from feeling good. You may find sadness, grumpiness, resentment, numbness, listlessness, boredom, cynicism, hate, despair, anger, love, greed, dependency, loneliness, fear, hopelessness, wariness or some other feeling and then you set about to investigate what most recently caused you to feel this way in order to get back to feeling good as soon as possible. In other words, you investigate your ‘bad’ feelings as well as your ‘good’ feelings with the sincere intent to be as harmless and as happy as possible.
And yes, you will find that it is initially hard work to feel good or feel happy for extended periods of time as you will find a myriad of excuses and so-called justified reasons for being annoyed, feeling sad, being bored and so on. This is why understanding that this moment is the only moment you can experience being alive is vitally important because then you will be less inclined to waste this moment by frittering it away by not feeling good about being here. You are here anyway, and it is now, and it can only ever be now, so why not make it your business to enjoy being here?
RESPONDENT: As the ‘wide and wondrous path’ is about minimizing the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ emotions and activating the felicitous feelings – I’d like to hear a bit more about those felicitous feelings.
Are we still in the realm of the ‘affective’ with felicitous feelings? We are using the word ‘feelings’ after all.
VINEETO: Yes, the method of actualism is to become aware of and minimize the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ emotions in order to be happy and harmless. One cannot be emotionless as long as one is a ‘self’ and to try and be emotionless means you would only end up repressing your feelings.
Felicitous/ innocuous feelings are affective feelings but only by feeling good, happy, cheerful and so on is it possible to enjoy and appreciate being here now for as much as is possible. Minimizing the good and bad emotions frees you up to feel happy and harmless and at the same time frees you to develop a delicious sensuousness of the world around you – when you are less busy with feeling sad or grumpy you become more aware of the visual delights, the multi-layered sounds, the delicate smells, the moisture and temperature in the air, the marvellous variety of tastes and so on. And once you succeed in feeling happy and harmless most of the time you then raise the bar to feeling excellent most of the time.
RESPONDENT: I suppose I understand ‘felicitous’ as being similar to what is meant by ‘delight’. I think sensate delight is fairly clear, but it’s difficult to see many times when an experience is verging on emotional, rather than just delightful.
VINEETO: I wouldn’t worry too much about anything when you are feeling happy and delighted – it’s the habit of worrying that serves to end your experience of happiness and prepares the stage for sadness, grumpiness, annoyance and irritation to enter again.
RESPONDENT: Would it be correct to say that anything emotional would somehow involve a feeling of sorrow?
VINEETO: No, there are also the feelings of aggression and malice that do not necessarily involve a feeling of sorrow.
RESPONDENT: While being ‘felicitous’ does not involve sorrow directly?
VINEETO: I am only felicitous when there is no sorrow present at all, neither directly nor indirectly. Also, even more importantly, I am only felicitous when there is no malice present at all.
RESPONDENT: Take ‘enthusiasm’ for example per my last post. It seems to me that there is enthusiasm designed to counter sorrow – like rallying to a ‘cause’ of some sort.
VINEETO: ‘Enthusiasm designed to counter sorrow’ is what Richard described as putting on rose-coloured glasses over the grey-coloured glasses everyone normally wears. The method of actualism is designed to take both glasses off. ‘Rallying to a cause’ most often involves fighting for a cause, which invariably involves malice, which inevitably produces yet more sorrow. The method of actualism is designed to become aware of that cycle and break free of it.
RESPONDENT: Then there is a purer enthusiasm born of just enjoying the here and now.
VINEETO: That’s what I call pure delight.
RESPONDENT: I suppose part of my wondering about this comes from seeing that the ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ of emotion I will gladly give up.
VINEETO: Yes, I found that the ‘highs’ of emotion, like adrenaline rushes, also came with an inherent fear of falling off the desperately sought-after ‘high’. Sometimes I even experienced a fear of getting punished for being too happy. This is all part of the hands-on exploration and you might have already discovered that the very instance you become aware of a feeling you deflate it or take the wind out of it and thus it becomes easier to examine your particular feeling further.
RESPONDENT: Is there such a thing as a ‘high’ of pure delight?
VINEETO: No, the ‘pure delight’ I describe and experience is a sensuous experience that happens when neither high nor low emotions are interfering with appreciating the delight of being here.
RESPONDENT: I guess the best way to put this is that along with questioning ‘emotion’ – I also find myself questioning ‘excitement,’ ‘enthusiasm,’ when it seems to get very ‘high’ – due to its association for me with ‘emotion.’
VINEETO: As I see it, it only makes sense to question my excitement or enthusiasm when it takes me away from being happy and harmless. After all, unless you are enthusiastic about becoming happy and harmless, nothing will make you roll up your sleeves and do it.
RESPONDENT: But it’s a real pain to question the ‘high’ I get from what is felicitous.
VINEETO: Yes, I agree. It does sound a painful business to harass yourself for being happy.
Why not stick to the actualism method of firstly becoming aware of and questioning the deleterious ‘good’ and ‘bad’ emotions that may be preventing you from happily and harmlessly enjoying this moment of being alive. Like any new enterprise, it’s always best to start with the simplest, easiest and most obvious things.
RESPONDENT: I have great conversations with my wife where I am basically analyzing myself, concepts like love, emotion, patriotism, etc where I’m trying to pick them apart. It is of immense help and oh so much fun to have a decent conversation about all that stuff. If that wonderful fun is being discouraged in AF – then I don’t have any desire for that.
VINEETO: Yes, part of the process of actualism is that one questions one’s concepts and beliefs and in the course of doing so you discover the underlying feelings and passions that hold your concepts and beliefs in place. Unless you discover those underlying feelings and how they relate to your identity, you will only replace those concepts with other, more fashionable, concepts and a different design of your identity. This practice of investigating one’s beliefs and concepts and their underlying feelings is not at all discouraged on this list – investigating one’s psyche is the very basis of actualism.
What is essential, however, is the sincere intent to be unconditionally harmless, or, as No 38 put it recently
Unless you are ready to take on board the whole package, you won’t be able to even begin to recognize your own malicious and sorrowful programming in action.
RESPONDENT: Again, another concern of mine is how others are feeling. I highly prefer that others tell me how they are feeling, rather than acting it out. If my son is being threatened by a bully at school – I want to know that he is feeling threatened. I don’t expect him to know how to dismantle himself using the AF method. Turning the tables, if my son is the bully at school – I want to know that other kids are afraid of him – so that something can be done to remedy the situation. So these are the contexts where ‘communicating about emotion’ is vital –
VINEETO: You have made it very clear that the way you prefer to deal with your emotions is expressing your emotions in interaction with others and I can understand this very well given that it is feelings and passions that tie human beings together.
Actualism, however, is a unilateral decision to do something about my emotions and passions in me, the only person I can change. In actualism I set out on a course to leave my ‘self’ behind and along with it, my ties to humanity.
RESPONDENT: Lastly, I’d like to point out something that seems like an absurdity to me sometimes.
Take these two premises:
from which it follows that everyone is completely ‘responsible’ for their own emotions.
VINEETO: What is, in fact, responsible for my emotions is my social-instinctual programming that every human being is endowed with. I, for one, decided to take responsibility for my emotions and used the actualism method to eliminate my programming because I wanted to live in unrestricted peace and harmony with my fellow human beings.
Now these two are contradictory. I personally, accept the first premise but not the second. Vineeto, you stated that you wanted to ‘stop the ripples’ of frustration and upset feelings in the case where you mentioned you were contacted by phone at an early hour of the morning. Now why should you make yourself responsible for how someone else reacts to information you provide? Why not just tell them calmly that you prefer not being contacted quite that early and leave it at that? Why would you ‘take responsibility’ for how the other person reacts to that information?
VINEETO: This is the incident you are referring to –
In this incident I did not merely provide practical information about the phone call but I passed on emotionally loaded information. It made no difference that this information was given in a calm voice, it nevertheless transmitted the emotional information that was inherent in my experience with the early morning phone call. The other’s reaction made me realize that I had tricked myself and the other, by thinking I was calm, rational and entirely justified, when I had still blamed them for my being upset and thus my action was the cause for the ripples created.
RESPONDENT: Now, I take it that you weren’t really ‘taking responsibility’ for how someone else felt – rather realizing that you really do care about their feelings and the ripples that eventuate. (And how would you know about their emotions had they not ‘communicated them to you?’ Wouldn’t you say that information was vitally important to you?)
VINEETO: I did take responsibility for the fact that my passed on feelings created ripples in other people’s lives. I care enough for my fellow human beings that I do not want to add my own malice and sorrow to whatever other feelings people are already having. That they communicated their emotions to me was not ‘vitally important’ to me because there are enough opportunities to observe one’s own feelings when one is behaving maliciously towards others, provided one has the sincere intent to find out, that is.
RESPONDENT: You ask me why I want others to be ‘sensitive’ to me? I ask you why should you or I be ‘sensitive’ to others? My answer to this is that it’s not that I’m requiring or demanding that others be ‘sensitive’ to my needs – rather that I do realize that generally people are well meaning and benevolent, so that I don’t see any reason why sharing information about how I am feeling should be seen as a ‘demand’ placed upon them. It’s merely information that they are free to do with whatever they want. Giving information about how I feel, or have felt in a purely informative way only allows them to understand me – which allows their natural benevolence to be better directed.
VINEETO: It is a myth that human beings have ‘natural benevolence’ – every human being is born with mother nature’s rather clumsy soft-ware package of the animal instinctual survival passions of fear, aggression, nurture and desire and this programming is responsible for the human condition that is epitomized by malice and sorrow. What looks like beneficial behaviour to you is the social conditioning in which humans are taught to emphasize and highly value their ‘good’ instinctual passions and repress and control their ‘savage’ passions. However, we still have to rely on lawyers and laws, courts and jails, police, armies and guns to ultimately enforce law and order – a pathetic substitute for an actual peace and harmony between human beings.
Why would you feel the need to ‘better direct’ people’s supposed ‘natural benevolence’? Why do you feel a fear of being emotionally hurt by others if everyone has a ‘natural benevolence’? It’s a spiritual fairy-tale that priests and gurus want us to believe that human nature is essentially benevolent, that babies are born innocent and that they have only been misguided and corrupted by their upbringing. One only needs to take a closer look at 5,000 years of recorded history to see that this duplicitous belief is neither factual nor makes any sense.
RESPONDENT: I also refuse to ‘take responsibility’ for how others respond to information about how I am feeling (should I feel a desire to talk about it) – that is entirely up to them. I can’t ‘hold the whole world’ in my hands – that’s too painful. But, since I really do care about other’s feelings, then I am very willing to listen to others feelings and talk about my own experiences (past and present) so that further light can be shed on ‘how we tick.’
VINEETO: As long as one is entrapped within the Human Condition and faithfully follows its rules and tenets, not much light ‘can be shed on how we tick’. Only when I become aware and step outside of the normal human way, which is the way of feelings and passions, am I able to investigate and report about how the lost, lonely, frightened and very cunning entity ‘ticks’ inside this flesh-and-blood body.
RESPONDENT: In my experience, only by becoming Happy first – can I also become Harmless. This is not to neglect Harmlessness, rather to notice that if I try to be to vigilant – ‘taking responsibility’ for how my emotions cause ripples in other people, then I become a ‘tiger in a cage’ – i.e., unhappy. Granted, both happiness are harmlessness depend on each other, but happiness seems to be the horse carrying the harmlessness cart – and not the other way around. I don’t have motivation to be harmless, if I’m not happy. At least – that’s my experience.
VINEETO: If by ‘becoming Happy first’ one could ‘also become Harmless’, the whole world would be happy and harmless by now. The pursuit of happiness is as old as humankind but it still has not produced anything remotely resembling harmlessness, let alone harmony.
Actualism breaks with the instinctual compulsion of human beings to put their own happiness first and put harmlessness second – as a socially conditioned afterthought, so to speak. As long as I put my happiness above being harmless, my outlook towards others is inevitably ‘self’-centred, which means that I cannot consider others as equitable fellow human beings.
RESPONDENT: ...And love, Love are kind of feelings. Then what is happy and harmless? I am experiencing being happy and harmless as a kind of feeling right now.
VINEETO: I think here you are applying your ideal of love rather than what is actually happening. I remember the discourses in Poona, where every night there was a hushed competition who would sit closest to the Master, who would get a look from him or even be talked about. There was a tough competition going on – far from happy and harmless. And Rajneesh was as much part of that game as us, his disciples. He would stir the fire of competition, fancy some and neglect others, while all the while telling us to drop desire. Now, that the Master is dead, ‘spread all over Existence’, it is much easier to dream of his Un-conditional Love, and that one day you would attain it. The daily check on reality is but nil. But it is all ‘in the head’ or in the feeling, ‘spirit’-ual, it is not actuality.
Being happy and harmless is not a coating over one’s grotty ‘self’, over the Human Condition in us. Being happy and harmless is only possible when you actively remove the feelings, emotions and instinctual passions that the ‘self’ consists of – what then remains is a happy and harmless human being. What remains is the delight of a perfect universe experiencing itself as a sensate and reflective human being. (...)
RESPONDENT: And about your last question, my answer is just be happy right now with my full intention.
VINEETO: Happy and harmless belong together, you cannot be happy without being harmless. And you cannot be harmless without looking deep into your psyche to discover and investigate all the beliefs, emotions and instinctual passions that cause suffering and harm to others and to yourself.
Actual freedom is not about matching words with what you already believe, actual freedom is to actually do something so you become free of the Human Condition.
RESPONDENT: Here I have a question. As I said I am now experiencing being happy and harmless as feelings. This is my ‘good’ feelings. And I don’t understand the difference between this ‘good’ feelings and feeling good which is used at asking ‘how are you experiencing this moment of being alive’
Is this the difference between virtual freedom and actual freedom? I want to hear around these points from anyone.
VINEETO: The ‘difference between the good feelings and feeling good’ is the difference between hanging on to love and devotion as one’s highest goal (good feelings) and questioning everything that is an hindrance to being actually happy and harmless (feeling good), as in factually, in thought, feeling and deed, with everybody around you, even your wife and your children, your boss and your girlfriend. Feeling good is the first step to feeling happy, then being happy, as in gradually becoming free of malice and sorrow. To understand the difference is only difficult when you make a philosophy out of it, it is not difficult when you investigate into your being sad and angry.
Being happy and harmless is not a feeling. Being harmless is being without any feelings of annoyance, anger, impatience, competitiveness, ambition, being insulted, wanting to hurt or get back at someone, craving for attention, etc. When all those emotions and feelings and their underlying instinctual passions have been investigated and understood, and are consequently eliminated, then you are harmless. Feeling harmless sounds very nice, but it is just a cheap cop-out without having to do something about one’s Human Condition.
The same applies to ‘feeling happy’. You can feel happy for a particular reason, something worked out fine, some feared event did not happen, someone said he or she loved you, etc. But to be happy you have to get rid of everything that makes you unhappy, sad, lonely, terrified, angry, compassionate, guilty, restless, bored, tired, resistant, resentful, etc., in short, your very ‘self’. To be happy you have to ‘self’-immolate, because all you are made of are your emotions, feelings, beliefs and instinctual passions.
RESPONDENT: Your last two sentences are of particular interest. This does indeed seems to be the case as I feel I have achieved less when just being happy than when I can pull myself out of a dramatic state, to be confronted by immediate sensate perception.
VINEETO: In this particular post I was talking about my deduction of what would be needed to do the final step to extinction, the last ‘stepping out’. I don’t know if it is going to happen this way or any other way, but I am sure obsessed with ‘my’ extinction – which is one of the prerequisites for it to happen – so that’s taken care of. Vis:
But I can relate when you say ‘I feel I have achieved less when just being happy’. The self-doubt I had described arose mainly out of the situation that I was happy almost all of the time and it seemed as ordinary and normal as anything. The nagging feeling that there is something more to Actual Freedom than ‘just’ being happy – and there is, of course – sent me diving into worry and doubt to see if I had missed the track. But no, this apparent feeling of ‘non-achievement’ is par for the course, it is the very experiencing of becoming less of a ‘who I am’ and more of a ‘what I am’. The doubt just served to introduce ‘who I am’ back into the picture.
So, I am still busy shifting the meaning of the term ‘achievement’ into meaning ‘becoming less’, less of a drama queen and less of an identity. Besides, a little look at the ‘land of lament’ or the ‘land of denial’ will quickly show what we have already achieved. Being happy and harmless is sure neither ‘normal’ nor ‘sane’ according to the real world’s definitions.
And yes, I know the feeling of achievement when I have been completely in the grip of the ‘self’ engulfing me with a particular mood – usual fear for fear’s sake – and then ‘immediate sensate perception’ enabled me to step out of the ‘self’ into the actual world of people, things and events.
VINEETO: Mark Twain is only partially right in saying that ‘humour stems essentially from sorrow’.
Human beings are mostly occupied by malice and sorrow and therefore most humour stems not only from sorrow but even more so from malice. When I took up actualism I found that I incrementally began to loose interest in malicious humour, i.e. humour that is predominantly based on tearing others to pieces but I do enjoy those comedians who are able to poke fun at themselves or the absurdity of the human condition in general. I also noticed that with far less sorrow and misery, disappointment and frustration in my life, hysterical laughter as a vent for tension disappeared almost completely.
GARY: The Mark Twain quotation or remark was lifted from a PBS television production on the life of Mark Twain. It may not be exact or verbatim, but it was something like that. I found the program interesting in one respect as it showed the ‘private’ side of this great humorist and satirist and world-renowned author. Despite his enormous public appeal and worldwide notoriety, he appears to have been a very unhappy camper, controlling his wife and children and erupting in titanic rages from time to time. In that respect, he would certainly personally know something about how humour is a salve for sorrow. Since I cannot remember the exact quotation, I might have erred in presenting it the way I did.
VINEETO: This is what I found about Mark Twain –
I don’t think you erred much in your quotation because Mark Twain’s outlook on life was indeed sorrowful and resentful and humour was therefore a tool to make the burden of life bearable. This type of humour is like crying with one eye while laughing with the other.
Just as an aside – when I watched the honour given to the Queen Mother at her funeral, I think that Tom Sawyer, one of Mark Twain’s characters, got it right. He had staged his own death at age 10 so that he could receive the honour at his funeral while still alive.
GARY: To summarize what I think about humour and laughter at this point: It does sometimes stem from sorrow and malice, but not always. There is such a thing for me as laughing and being humorous simply because I am in a good mood, I am joyous, and I am taking delight in being alive, and present in this moment. Such laughter and humour lacks the emotive force, as I have termed it, that laughter and humour stemming from sorrow have, what you term the ‘hysterical’ quality of laughter. ‘Hysterical’ laughter can erupt at times of great danger, as a kind of tension release. ‘Gallows humour’ may be of this sort. The kind of laughter and humour I am describing comes from the extremely enervating and refreshing experience of being alive and present in the moment, and is in juxtaposition to laughter and humour that stems from nervous tension or impending danger. Essentially, there is nothing ‘wrong’ with humour and laughter, and the enjoyment of it does a body no harm at all, as long as its malicious or sorrowful elements, if present, are recognized by an alert intelligence.
VINEETO: I just watched a re-run of an interview with Billy Conolly, one of my favourite comedians, and he admits using the stage as his place for therapy. He says he tells the truth in his funny and often absurd little episodes about life and he only exaggerates them for the humorous effect. I have always liked this kind of humour best when people are able to take the mickey out of themselves, and thus out of everyone else as well, and it’s a great way of not taking oneself too seriously. While Mark Twain was a passionate pessimist who resented the ugliness of human nature, Billy Connolly is an avowed optimist. Nevertheless, within the human condition laughter is usually despite sorrow, comparable to putting on rose-coloured glasses clipped on over the top of the grey-coloured glasses everybody normally wears.
However, as long as I am alert to my feelings of malice and sorrow, there is certainly ‘nothing wrong with humour and laughter’, on the contrary, the less you take yourself seriously, the faster the ‘self’ diminishes due to malnourishment and this process leaves you with the laughter of pure delight.
GARY: In short, I am concluding that even the ‘feel good’ experience of laughter and humour can be tapped for information about what makes ‘me’ tick – in other words, ‘my’ feelings and emotions, moods and complexities. The discussion on the list recently about laughter and humour reminds me of the difficulty I have had, and likely still have, in understanding precisely what is meant by ‘the felicitous feelings’, as described in AF writings. I had thought that AF was on about a purely sensorial enjoyment of the present moment, devoid of any trace whatsoever of feeling and emotion. What then are ‘felicitous feelings’ if not emotions? Having been confronted with this apparent contradiction, I have looked into the so-called ‘positive’ emotions, including of course love and sentimentality.
VINEETO: Given that ‘I’ am a feeling being, there is no escape from feelings as long as I am a ‘self’. In order to diminish and eventually eliminate the ‘self’ I started my journey by shifting my emphasis towards those affective feelings that don’t feed the ‘self’, which are the felicitous feelings – feeling good, feeling at ease, feeling happy, etc. Therefore the main emphasis in questioning and investigating my feelings has been focussed on examining the ‘good’ feelings of love, hope and trust and the ‘bad’ feelings of malice and sorrow. When I am happy, even when I am affectively happy, ‘I’ have no problem with being here and consequently the ‘self’ has little or nothing to do.
However, the more I investigated my malicious and sorrowful feelings as well as all the beliefs that compose my social identity, the more I noticed gaps in my affective reaction to the world around me and consequently more and more often I feel neither sad, nor worried, nor angry, nor needy and nor do I feel affectively happy. By this I mean the feeling of happiness that normal people experience – happiness concocted or contrived as an antidote to grim boring everyday existence. I just remembered an experience I had which first made me aware of this.
On New Years Eve of 1999 Peter and I walked home from dinner in town at around 10.30 pm. The streets were filled with people celebrating the coming millennium, several music bands were playing in the streets and people were dancing to the music. As we traversed one of the dancing areas I felt as if I was dipped into a pool of intense frantic happiness that disappeared as soon as we entered quiet streets again. I had almost forgotten the feeling – this was affective happiness, multiplied by hundreds of people, all being happy for this one night of the year, eager to forget the misery and worry of their normal days. This affective happiness is conditional – one is happy about some event, some achievement, some person. I also noticed that most often this feeling of happiness is dependant on other people joining me in my happiness, because it’s more difficult to be happy when alone.
The happiness I experience today is rather an absence of any feelings of sorrow and malice, coupled with an increasing sensitivity for the sensuous delights of simply being alive, whether in the company of others or when alone.
GARY: Even the so-called felicitous feelings do not escape the spotlight of attentiveness, but that does not mean that I have to retreat into a kind of benumbed feeling-less state, what Alan some time back has called ‘comfortably numb’.
VINEETO: ‘The kind of benumbed feeling-less state’ you are talking about is, in fact, also a feeling – it is a feeling standing on its head, and is usually accomplished by repressing and denying one’s unwanted feelings. That’s why it is so important to question one’s moral and ethical values as a first step when taking up actualism, lest one ends up replacing one’s real-world and spiritual-world values with a new ideal of a achieving a no-feeling state. In fact, the no-feeling state is akin to the Buddhist practice of disassociating from one’s unwanted thoughts and feelings.
The other thing I noticed was that becoming happy when everyone else in the world insists on having problems was not always an easy task. Both my internal moral judge and the people I interacted with would question why I was having such a good time for no particular reason – something must be wrong with me, I am not taking life seriously enough, I stick my head in the sand, I must be insensitive to other people’s suffering, I must be cynical, neurotic, silly, mad, etc. etc. I found it essential to examine and eradicate this globally accepted social conditioning of ‘never be too happy’, because the question ‘why am I happy?’ is simply the wrong question to ask on the path of becoming free from the human condition.
VINEETO: But I can say that overall I am laughing more than before in my life for the simple reason that I am happier than ever. As I am far less occupied with my own problems because they have pretty much disappeared, I am also far more aware of the many, often hilarious, absurdities of human behaviour in general and of the various forms of social conditioning in particular. Given that there are so few things that engross me emotionally, I can now really ‘look at the bright side of life’ ... and its very sensuous deliciousness makes me often chuckle for no particular reason. So yes, there is a lot more ‘mirth, laughter, and good humour’ in my life than ever before.
GARY: Your paragraph here about sums up my present experience of humour. I too am ‘happier than ever’, and less preoccupied with ‘my’ troubles and woes. Spontaneous laughter and seeing the humour in simple, everyday commonalities is not only good fun but need not stem from, as No 13 had termed it, ‘duplicitous stupidity’. Given that the sorrowful and malicious entity in this body has progressively and incrementally shrunken to an exceedingly small percentage of its original size, this then leaves me free to (as you say) look ‘at the bright side of life’, not as a state of denial of my sorrowful state, but because ‘my’ sorrowful state has evaporated, leaving me enjoying, indeed revelling in the present moment. There is only then enjoying the journey, as No 13 had termed it.
VINEETO: The only way I could apply the word ‘duplicitous’ is that I have been disloyal and unfaithful to all the clubs I used to belong to – the women’s camp, the German people, the family ties, the bleeding-heart liberalists, the passionate environmentalists, the loyal spiritualists and being a member of a fighting and suffering humanity. There is indeed a cornucopia of humour, including black humour, to be found when one abandons all loyalty for these camps, but this is not ‘stupidity’ but sheer common sense.
GARY: Just as a caution, though, because I had read this morning Peter’s post to No 23, I can and have often lapsed into a Krishnamurti-ite state of joyless self-inquiry. Such unceasing and rigorous ‘self’-inquiry can become a wet-blanket thrown over the sensate enjoyment of the present moment, and I think the caution to avoid this kind of intense analysis-paralysis is well taken. Then too I am reminded of that curious word Grübelsucht which perhaps best expresses that intense pondering, musing, and speculating that some are attracted to. To spend one’s time ‘grübelnd’ when one can be sensately enjoying the present moment is indeed a waste of time and misapplication of the actualism method.
VINEETO: Yep. I remember that at some point in the journey to freedom I had to consciously shift my attention from unrelentingly ‘searching for feelings to investigate’ to focussing my attention on enjoying being here. There were hardly any problems occurring that would keep me busy investigating, and thus enjoying this moment came more and more to the fore.
VINEETO: Richard once said in a correspondence that to his surprise he developed a taste for black humour, which he didn’t have before becoming free from the human condition.
GARY: I can’t think of an example of ‘black humour’ that I find funny right now and I am not familiar with this ‘Black Adder’ program. Political satire may indeed be funny, depending on the quality of the delivery. Some things in movies and on TV are funny but the things that are the most fun, as far as I am concerned, are some of the moments that my partner and I enjoy together which are spontaneously mirthful, just downright funny. These things may seem nonsensical to someone not acquainted with the situation and not even funny. But I don’t see how laughing at most of the things that we do can ever cause anyone any harm at all.
VINEETO: As long as I have no intention to harm or denigrate anyone and be sensitive to issues that people take very seriously, laughing can’t ‘cause anyone any harm at all’. People just might think I’m a little mad because I’m laughing about something they don’t think funny but even that doesn’t cause ‘any harm at all’. You’ve got to have ‘a few screws loose’, as they say, if you are capable of being happy all the time!
VINEETO: I find it fascinating, you seem to become interested in happiness and harmlessness – you are proposing to someone else becoming happy and harmless, so maybe it is not such a terribly thing to consider, after all? If you wish that on No 33 or No 14, why not for yourself? Don’t you want to be happy and harmless as well? The trouble is, nobody else can make you happy and harmless, you have to do it for yourself. And what a thrilling journey it is!
RESPONDENT: Actually I am quite joyful. I make a distinction between happiness and joy. Happiness is conditional, joy is from one’s heart.
VINEETO: Good, that we come to discuss the term ‘happiness’. The happiness I live in is unconditional. It is far superior to the fickle happiness that is only there when certain conditions are fulfilled. It is neither dependant on what happens on the ‘outside’, nor on having to go ‘inside’, into the ‘heart’ – it has nothing to do with heart-felt feelings like love or compassion. I am simply happy because I have no objection to being here in the actual world, on the contrary, every moment of being alive is delicious. Maybe delight is a better word. I just like the catchiness of the phrase ‘happy and harmless’. It is a state of at-ease-ness, abundance and intimacy with everything around me, unburdened from the shackles of the ‘self’.
RESPONDENT: As I have been reading your posts one thing keeps really bothering me. You said that as you pay attention to it, the ‘sweet feeling’ in your body which one could call ‘love’ always disappears...
This is really bothering me. And then I have found this (about what you guys or Richard wrote in your journal, Q&A No 2):
Well, I call ‘feeling good’ = love! To me, ‘Not feeling good’ is the absence of the delicate, sweet feeling of gooooooddness in your body. Otherwise what is feeling good???? ‘Love’ is naturally when the organism is running perfectly smooth. I guess it is just a matter of definition. It is funny, but some people might argue for love while you might say love is not important, etc – just feeling good every moment is what matters ... while perhaps everybody is talking about the same feeling in the body.
VINEETO: You are really digging into it now. Great journey, isn’t it?
Feeling good = being at ease, the absence of churning emotions, the peace of mind, when the little man in the head and the feelings in the heart are not in control of your body and brain.
Love, on the contrary, is a feeling that there is a presence, a positive emotion to counteract the otherwise prevalent feeling of separation. The self, this psychological and psychic entity inside of us, creates by its very nature a feeling of separation, because having an identity, a self, one has to feel to be someone different and separate to everything and everyone around. This positive emotion will disappear when you become aware of it and trace it to its roots – the sorrow of feeling separate and the fear of being alone.
Vineeto’s & Richard’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.