Selected Correspondence Vineeto
VINEETO: When I came across actualism and decided to investigate my beliefs and emotions, the superstitions about alleged health deficiencies were the first to go, together with my belief in vegetarianism and being a health food freak. It was such a delight to hoe into a good piece of steak, fish, chicken or bacon, to enjoy the superb taste of fresh-brewed coffee without any guilt, to drop all the vitamin supplements that I had taken out of faith and fear, and to simply consider myself healthy unless there were demonstrable symptoms that indicated otherwise.
GARY: How refreshing to read this! After a recent somewhat heated exchange with another individual over the supposed benefits and morality of vegetarianism, it is a delight to hear you extol the pleasures of a good steak. It is refreshing to find out that you actualism people are not promulgating dietary and moral codes of behaviour and clobbering those who do not adhere to their way of life. However, at first glimpse it appears a bit hedonistic. I seem to recall in another writing elsewhere a treatment of the differences between a hedonistic life-style and Actual Freedom. I believe this was in Richard’s explication of sensuousness. I shall have to read it again to see if I can find this point, as it is not quite clear in my mind.
VINEETO: Ah, Hedonism. The very term seems to point to immorality and shallowness. Here is what Mr. Oxford and The Actual Freedom Trust Library say:
Becoming free from the Human Condition of malice and sorrow means to pursue becoming happy and harmless. Whereas traditional Hedonism like the Charvakas have tried to suffocate or at least balance human sorrow by indulging in pleasures and avoiding pain, actualism aims to eliminate the root cause of malice and sorrow, one’s very ‘self’ – the animal instinctual passions with one’s overlaying social identity of beliefs, morals and ethics.
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’.
IRENE: Do you indeed consider it fulfilling to live a hedonistic life only – I have nothing against enjoying all delicious aspects of life to the full – but if the emphasis is on sensual and sexual delights alone,
VINEETO: No, it is not fulfilling enough to live a hedonistic life without the intent to become completely free. At some point of the perfect life of virtual freedom it becomes unfulfilling because one knows it is only half way. That was when I turned my back on Virtual Freedom and decided it was time to go all the way. With having experienced what was possible it was simply inconceivable not to want it all, 24 hours a day, every day.
IRENE: ...there is a huge part of human enjoyment that is deemed invaluable and therefore to be rid of, exterminated, extirpated etc. In other words these aspects of human life, decreed by Richard as worthless (have nothing to do with it), perverse (malicious) and needlessly painful (sorrow) are all wrong. He blames the actual human organism, that what is naturally manifested by the universe (and specifically by the earth), an absolutely magical phenomenon that can not only have sensual and sexual experiences (like all animals and even plants to a certain degree of intensity) but comes also with an exquisite capacity for thinking, feeling, sensing, and communicating all these capacities. To Richard this natural humanness is the cause of all problems in the world, and especially the feelings and instincts, as you well know. He is therefore anti-nature: preposterous.
VINEETO: Richard does not blame the human organism, but the Human Condition. The human organism is the body complete with senses and brain and the innate intelligence to be ‘sensible’. The Human Condition, the collection of beliefs and underlaying instincts of fear, aggression, nurture and desire, is exactly what spoils the unimpeded use of our innate intelligence. I admit, nobody before Richard has ever considered the possibility to separate the two, but they are definitely two different things. I can vouch for that with my own ongoing experience.
ALAN: And yet it is not a joke, for this is what I have been struggling with the last few days – ‘who is it who is knowing?’ – ‘who is it who is puzzling?’
VINEETO: I have always found the question ‘who’ would confuse me, distract me, re-create psychic dramas and keep imagination and feeling alive. While asking ‘what am I’ always brings me to my senses because ‘what’ I am can only be experienced by the senses. The actual world can only be experienced by the senses. Neither belief nor imagination nor feeling can answer ‘what I am’, but they can easily make up a lot of ‘who’s’.
I have found that by living in virtual freedom I have shifted my whole focus and emphasis from solving emotional problems and debunking beliefs to sensually and sensately enjoying ‘wee-things’ (as Billy Connolly said), the everyday things that life consists of – breakfast, rain, typing, coffee, walking, shopping, talking, sex, shower, watching TV and going to bed at night-time. And maybe half an hour of the day was spent pondering about ‘fear, death and deep matters’ of ‘me’. And thus the perspective changes, the focus changes from the imaginary to the actual, from the dramatic to the ordinary, from serious introspection to delightful hedonism – gay abandon, as Peter calls it. So it has been literally a turning away from giving importance to the ‘metaphysical’ to focussing on the actuality of life, the universe and what it is to be a human being. And what a delight that is, each moment again, just to be alive, breathing and listening, tasting and seeing, smelling and touching. And then you get to do things on top of it – sheer delight. (... ...)
RESPONDENT: PS: <snip>And even if reincarnation was truth then we should be more motivated to be free from malice and sorrow, because somebody with the oblivion might become cynical and say I don’t care for anyone, I am going to die, so I will enjoy my life by harming another one.
VINEETO: Those who overlook the second half of the phrase ‘happy and harmless’ often confuse actualism with hedonism and thus completely miss the point. You might be advised to check the topic of hedonism in The Actual Freedom Trust library – you will find that hedonism is diametrically opposite to an actual freedom from the human condition.
When you say ‘somebody might become cynical and say … I will enjoy my life by harming another one’ – haven’t you noticed that people are already cynical and are already harming each other despite the fact that almost everyone believes in an afterlife in some form or another, be it recycled back on earth or rejuvenated somewhere else? Facing the fact that physical death means extinction is an essential precursor to devoting one’s life to becoming happy and harmless – and I do mean essential.
The materialist’s motto is ‘life is a bitch and then you die’ while spiritual and religious people’s motto is ‘life’s a bitch but if you are a good enough person on earth you will be rewarded in heaven after death’. I always felt cheated by the Christian proposition that I should suffer life on earth for seventy-odd years in order to reap some spurious afterlife reward – a proposition solely based on hearsay, make-believe and nonsensical fairy-tales. When I came across Eastern mysticism and was told that you could experience paradise on earth by becoming enlightened, I gladly dropped my Christian belief in an after-death-reward in exchange for the promise of a here-on-earth reward. However, the longer I pursued enlightenment, the more unlikely it became that this narcissistic pursuit could ever be the solution to all of my problems, let alone to all of the ills of humankind, because it eventually became apparent that even the Enlightened Ones admitted that one’s real and true liberation will only be obtained after death in Parinirvana.
When I met Richard and began to practice actualism, my belief in a controlling, punishing and rewarding God began to crack and finally disappeared and with it the notion of God’s power to grant ‘me’ an my afterlife, also disappeared. All my worries about my bank account in heaven and all my hopes for a better life ‘somewhere-else’ became redundant. With no ‘Scottie’ to ‘beam me up’ out of here, I was free to abandon the waiting game for heaven and life after-death and focus my attention from wanting to be ‘there’ to being interested in being here, from waiting for ‘then’ to being fascinated with what is happening now.
In short, as long as you are occupied with paying your soul-insurance for a happy afterlife, you will have neither the motivation nor the necessary intent to do something drastic about your life here-on-earth as this flesh-and-blood body.
KONRAD: An AUTHORITY is somebody who is considered to be very special in the eyes of persons around him because of certain personal characteristics, ie. characteristics that make him act with total confidence in the social domain in the sense that the uncertainties that others have he does not seem to have. These personal characteristics go by many names, for example, ‘enlightenment’ ‘charisma’, but also this ‘apperception’ Richard talks about. An authority always bases his ‘proofs’ on an essentially ‘hedonistic’ base. Since a hedonistic proof of every position can be given, including that of drugs that are clearly detrimental to health, it is a false proof. Therefore hedonistic argumentation are the hallmark of an authority, and should be distrusted. In fact, if the only argumentation for the defence of a certain position is hedonistic, this alone constitutes a ground for rejection. Not that feeling good is wrong, but there HAVE to be other defences for a certain vision. As you can see in my mail I have NONE in actualism that could stand its ground without hedonism. If there was even ONE such ground, I would take it seriously.
VINEETO: Goodness Konrad, your fantasy has had a ride with you. Where do you get the idea that Richard takes a hedonistic base as a proof for actualism? See, that is what I mean by the joke with the foot nailed to the ground. First you take a premise that is wrong, and then you go round and round in circles, proving your own false premise as false. Unless you question your premises, you will never be able to see beyond your thus limited horizon.
KONRAD: I do not say that you have to renounce everything Richard says, only that you think about the Hedonistic perspective. I have conclusively demonstrated how Richard rebaptises the word Hedonism, and therefore thinks to have shown that his vision is not hedonistic. But every philosopher, looking at how he defends his vision will disagree, because his uses of the term hedonism shows clearly that he goes against its meaning. There is an Arabic saying, that says about the Hedonistic perspective: ‘If you are good to stones, they will be good for you.’ In other words, from the hedonistic epistemology EVERYTHING can be vindicated. But this does not mean, that it is good. To give, again, the simple example of drugs. Drugs will make you feel good. This connection is even causal, because drugs are chemicals, and therefore belong to the causal domain. If hedonism is the criterion, this makes that this feeling good ‘proves’ that drugs ARE good for you.
VINEETO: You must be really, really afraid of ‘feeling good’ that you bring up the argument of drugs in, every time Richard or I use the word ‘happy’. And what drugs are you talking about? That Hedonism should be a criterion for ‘defending the vision’, as you call it, that is only your idea about actualism. Again you use your own falsely assumed premise to refute something you have invented yourself.
The phrase I used (as well as Peter and Richard) is to be happy and harmless . This means, you have to be harmless to be happy and happy to be harmless, one does not go without the other. You simply keep talking about drugs because you don’t want to consider becoming harmless yourself – it would require some clean-up work, you know.
KONRAD: The potential of growth is implicitly denied by every position whereby it is assumed that an end point is possible, and can be reached. This applies to Osho Rajneesh’s vision, to that of J. Krishnamurti, and it clearly applies also to actualism. Since all of the good of humanity arises from our potentiality, actualism, by just this position is a form of evil in the same manner as drugs are a form of evil. Drugs destroy the biological base of the functioning of the brains, no matter how much it makes you feel good. In the same manner, actuality destroys the psychological base of growth. No matter how much it makes you feel good, this alone makes it a form of evil.
VINEETO: I wonder really, how you passed your exam in logic. Just in this single paragraph there are three illogical statements.
VINEETO: (...) Now to your last mail:
KONRAD: Hedonism as an ethical principle is: ‘Pleasure as the guiding principle with which the distinction between right and wrong, good and evil, and/or better and worse’. In both the first quote and the second quote Richard demonstrates that he does not understand Hedonism as an ethical principle.
KONRAD: The above statement has nothing to do with me liking or disliking him to use this word. I just pointed out, that if you do not use the word in the meaning it usually has, then you are not in a position to state that your vision is not hedonistic.
VINEETO: Richard wrote to the Krishnamurti mailing list:
As you probably know, Anhedonia means the inability to experience pleasure. How does that gel with your understanding that Richard’s ‘vision’ is hedonistic. I can only see it as a useless excuse not to become happy and harmless, to persist in staying the way one is.
The second point is that it is not a vision. Richard is living it, Peter is living it, I am living it. To be happy and harmless and to abandon and eliminate all beliefs, emotions and instincts is much, much more than Hedonism –
VINEETO: I know from my own experience. The bliss and compassion of enlightenment – I was swanning in it for several days and luckily got out again – are but faint emotions compared to the magnificence and perfection of the actual world.
KONRAD: And then I ask again, are these feelings of ‘magnificence and perfection’ your only evidence? For if it is, then you might have fallen in the trap of Hedonism as an ethical principle, as I have described above. You have still not shown that you understand the term in the meaning I have put it forward, and what is the customary use of the term within philosophy.
VINEETO: They are not feelings in the sense of emotions. Magnificence and perfection is experienced when there are no feelings and emotions. It is then simply obvious and self-evident. Rather than trying to theoretically dissect what I say you would be better off to experience a peak-experience for yourself. It is like if you have never seen, touched and tasted water, then how can you join a discussion about water with mere psittacisms?
Vineeto’s & Richard’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.