Selected Correspondence Vineeto
VINEETO: As well as Richard’s experiential report there is also the option of inquiring into why you are now doubting the sincerity of the information supplied to you to the point of suggesting that Richard might still have an ‘ego/soul/affect’ and is possibly ‘simply unconscious of same’. (Being verballed by Richard, 29.1.2004)
Whereas you had said in a post to me only 2 days previous to this –
(re infinity, 27.1.2004)
RESPONDENT: There is no ‘whereas’, Vineeto. I meant that, and I still do. I am trying to be more careful in differentiating and separating my personal impressions from what is actual/factual, in growing awareness that my own reactions are not necessarily reliable.
VINEETO: As for ‘whereas’ – personally, if I felt that someone was unconscious of ‘his ego/soul/affect’, and for a period of 11-12 years at that, I wouldn’t simultaneous think he was someone who truly knows what he is talking about. To me that would be contradictory.
RESPONDENT: Uhhh ... I was speaking to you, about you. Your words in that particular message seemed to be rather nice, they hit a spot that seemed to imply that you understood my frustrations without directly saying it. I appreciated it.
VINEETO: When you said (in plural) that you are ‘among people who truly know what they’re talking about’ I misunderstood this to mean the actualists on the list because in the post you referred to I was describing my experience with the actualism method. Vineeto, re infinity, 26.1.2004. It seems nowadays that the words of the objectionists on this list hit the spot for you far more than those of the actualists.
RESPONDENT: I never get that impression from Richard, which is not surprising considering it is more than a decade since he experienced himself as having a ‘soul’, and more than two decades since he experienced himself as having a social identity.
VINEETO: Not only does Richard not experience himself as not ‘having a ‘soul’’, he also does not affectively experience other people’s identity or ‘soul’, and the only way one can experience someone’s identity is via affection aka intuition, which is an instinctive-based gut reaction.
Because I understood that an actual freedom has to be a freedom from ‘me’ as an identity I wanted to learn from, and understand, how a ‘self’-less person experiences the actual world of people, things and events. I was not interested in complaining that he did not understand ‘my’ feelings or had no sympathy for my ‘self’-created problems.
Haven’t you noticed that sympathy only feeds and prolongs sorrow?
RESPONDENT: Incidentally, after posting my impressions of Richard vs No 59, I chanced upon one of your own accounts of Richard in person. You described him (from memory) as always cheerful, courteous, helpful. I was struck by the disparity between your real-life impressions and my plain-text impressions (not to mention No 59’s and No 58’s).
VINEETO: I presume you are talking about this correspondence –
The difference you see is not between ‘real-life impressions’ and ‘plain-text impressions’, the difference is in our different approach to the possibility of an actual freedom from malice and sorrow. I was keen to learn as much as possible from Richard about how to become free myself whereas you seem to object to the information that is presented while trying to negotiate a compromise that would keep your identity intact. Vis:
It never even occurred to me to accuse Richard of being an idiot, not knowing what he is talking about, of being arrogant, ignorant, full of shit, bone-headed or doing ‘obfuscation for devious and/or malicious purposes’ (One last shot at this, 4.2.2004) – for me it was clear from the start that ‘I’ am the problem and that it is my job and my job only to do something about it.
As for ‘not to mention No 59’s and No 58’s [impressions]’ – both No 58 and No 59 wrote to Richard not because they were interested in an actual freedom from the human condition but because they objected to Richard’s claim that he had found something entirely new to human history and their ‘impressions’ are guided by this intention. Vis –
I found that to justify my own impressions and feelings on the basis that other people feel the same as I do only served to thwart any possibility of conducting a clear-eyed investigation of my own passions in action. I simply got tired of endlessly running with the herd, which is why I started to engage brain and began to think for myself. (...)
RESPONDENT: When I first started reading the Actual Freedom web site, I thought the core ideas sounded really interesting. Then when I started to look into the correspondence, I saw that Richard seems to spend an inordinate amount of time discussing the minutiae, quibbling and quarrelling over trivialities, and seeming to be more interested in defending himself than helping the other. It almost deterred me from the start. I thought, how the hell can this guy have the goods he claims to have when all he does is bicker like the million and one pedantic geezers that hang out in newsgroups and mailing lists. It didn’t fit my impression of what a person who is actually free, beyond enlightenment, living a life of such quality that is unparalleled in human history, ought to be.
VINEETO: Of course, the ‘core idea’ can sound ‘really interesting’ in theory. People only begin to quibble and quarrel when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of actually doing the work of looking at their own beliefs and preconceptions, their feelings and passions. A little clear-eyed look at the website will reveal that the journals and articles are forthright, down-to-earth and to the point, whereas the majority of correspondence consists of answers to correspondents who raised objections to what was said. In short it is the correspondents themselves who set the agenda by the content and intent of their criticism.
I wonder why you feel Richard is ‘defending himself’ – aren’t his correspondents attacking him, often ad hominem? Do you think it is ‘not exactly consistent with someone who is ‘actually free from the human condition’’ to take the time and make the effort to put the facts straight and explain his experience in detail, over and over again? Do you think Richard should instead be a ‘lie-down-and-let-people- trample-all-over-him-pacifist? Do you think Richard should recant his discovery as Galileo was forced to do simply because the majority of correspondents think and feel he should not be challenging the status quo?
Is your idea that Richard should be ‘helping people’ by agreeing with them or pampering to everyone’s individual worldview and personal beliefs or that he should not respond to their concerns and attacks? By ‘helping people’ do you mean refraining from ‘discussing the minutiae, quibbling and quarrelling over trivialities’ that many people find important enough to raise as an issue?
VINEETO: I always found that I first had to sort out my feelings for myself before I could read with both eyes open, ask sensible questions of Richard or have a fruitful discussion that was helpful to me in furthering my inquiry into the human condition.
RESPONDENT: May I ask: does the kind of bickering I’ve witnessed here happen a lot in ‘real life’ too, or is it a text-only thing?
VINEETO: Ha! Never. I never talk to people about their personal beliefs let alone about the possibility of becoming free from all emotions and passions that constitute the human condition unless they invite me to do so, and even then the conversation soon turns to less threatening topics. If the ‘text-only’ comments on this mailing list were face-to-face group encounters then we actualists may well have been taken out and shot in front of the grateful mob who would have no doubt been glad to see justice done, such is human nature. T’is not for nothing that we choose to discuss these matters with our fellow human beings via the internet.
As a hint in case you are interested in less ‘bickering’ conversations – whenever I was in any way emotionally effected by what my correspondents wrote it has always helped me to look at my own feelings in the issue and then sleep over my response before I sent it so as to have some time to have a clear-eyed look at what was being said.
RESPONDENT: Given that ‘I’ am not actual, how can ‘I’ do anything that wasn’t going to happen anyway? In other words, how can an illusion have any executive power whatsoever?
If ‘I’, as the agent of ‘my’ thoughts, feelings and actions, am an erroneous ex post facto claim of responsibility for the actions of the meat puppet who generates ‘me’, in what sense is ‘my’ freedom in ‘my’ hands? If the neural activity that generates ‘me’ has already happened before ‘I’ become aware of it, how can ‘I’ actually do anything?
While such questions may well appear to be ‘logical’, at closer inspection it is obvious that such logic can only exist when kept separate from the reality of the myriad of daily activities, momentary affective reactions and mundane choices involved in everyday normal life. ‘I’ make hundreds of ‘executive’ decisions per day. And yet in those instances questions such as ‘how can an illusion have any executive power whatsoever?’ do not arise for ‘I’ am busy doing whatever ‘I’ choose to do.
My experience is that if one starts down the path of refuting what is obvious – that I can decide to take charge of my life such that I actually make life-changing decisions – I would in effect be ‘shutting up shop’ by begrudgingly accepting my fate. In other words, a little investigation revealed to me that fatalism in whatever form was nothing other than me categorically negating the possibility of ever changing my life for the better. This simply made no sense to me at all because it was clear to me that I had in fact made many choices in my life that resulted in change … and very often for the better.
To approach the issue of fatalism from a different angle –
At present I am reading a book by a primate biologist entitled ‘The Dark Side of Man’ (by Michael P. Ghiglieri, Helix Books 1999), a well-written account on the instinctual passions of both great apes and humans. The book reminded me that, as I look at ‘me’ at the instinctual level and leave aside the superficial variations that make up one’s social conditioning, the core urges and compulsions that make up the human condition are very simple and obvious.
For great apes, with whom we share 98% of genetic DNA, the core programming for males is to impregnate a female by display of or use of strength, power and/or cunning, and for females, if she has a choice, it is to find a male that is best capable of protecting her young, the strongest, most powerful and/or most cunning. By and large this blind instinctual imperative to reproduce is the same for humans. You could say that instinctually the sole meaning of life is to procreate – to fulfill one’s instinctual obligation to ensure the survival of the species by passing on my genes.
Further, great apes have a rudimentary sense of self, i.e. they are self-conscious, which manifests as an individual self-survival instinct. Humans have developed a more complex self-consciousness, a feeling of self, so much so that this ‘self’ is felt to be ‘me’, a substantive entity in its own right. Thus it is that human beings are not only compelled to ensure the survival of the species via procreation but the individual survival instinct is now manifest as a ‘self’-survival instinct. Consequently human beings indulge in all sorts of imaginary scenarios of ‘self’-survival – imaginary spirit worlds, a fantasy afterlife, the search for immortality for the soul, and so on, imagining these pursuits to be the true meaning of life.
Many people pursue both these meanings of life hand in hand – physical procreation to ensure the survival of the species by passing on my genes and the imaginary survival of ‘me’ as a ‘self’. While they are busy bringing up their young they are also busy purifying their soul and bettering their status for an afterlife.
As such, one is driven by one’s instinctual programming and subsequently pursues the instinctually imprinted ‘meanings of life’ and such an immersion renders one incapable of paying attention to the instinctual programming itself.
The interesting part of the adventure of life begins when I begin to apply attentiveness and become apperceptively aware of how ‘I’ function, socially and instinctually, because then I can make sensible choices based on both my intent (my goal) and the depth of my insight into the human condition itself. In other words when I clearly see the pattern of the outer layer of ‘my’ social programming, I can stop this pattern and replace it with sensible choices. When I am able to clearly understand the pattern of the innermost layer of ‘my’ instinctual programming, which is buried deep in the basement of my psyche, I have the opportunity to stop the pattern and make sensible choices.
This continuous action of becoming aware of and successively stopping the automatic patterns eventually weakens both the social identity and the instinctual ‘me’ to the point where stepping out of one’s ‘self’ into the actual world won’t be a giant leap that appears impossible, but a small step that is simply the next sensible thing to do.
VINEETO: Have you found some practical actual answers to your above question of ‘can I completely free ‘myself’ from suffering without ignoring her and still make sensible choices as to caring for her?’
RESPONDENT: Asking ‘Who is it that is suffering?’ offers relief and then I just do what is necessary at the time to care for her.
VINEETO: ‘Asking ‘Who is it that is suffering?’’ might easily lead to the ‘other’, higher identity of ‘the watcher of it all’, the spirit, who dis-identifies from the suffering and transcends its ‘mere’ bodily existence. This other identity can indeed offer temporary relief but keeps one trapped in the dichotomy of good and evil, a life torn between developing a higher ‘self’ and resentment towards having to perform the duties of everyday life ‘in the marketplace’.
In order to make the distinction between the old familiar spirit-ual practice (spirit being the imaginary entity inside the body) and actualism, it is essential to replace ‘who am I’ with ‘what am I?’ Asking ‘who’ always indicates an identity while ‘what’ clearly points to the factual flesh-and-blood body without any social or instinctual identity whatsoever. Asking ‘what am I’ will also bring to surface the particular aspects of one’s identity that pollute and obstruct the experience of the purity of what I am – a flesh-and-blood body experiencing the always present perfection of this magnificent universe.
Thus the question is not ‘who is it that is suffering’ but what is the cause of this suffering, where does it come from, what triggered it, when did it start, what are its roots? By investigating what hinders me to be happy and harmless in this moment, the ‘who’ I am will incrementally and noticeably diminish while ‘what’ I am will become more and more apparent until one day you know that you have always been here.
VINEETO: Talking to Peter later on I realized that there is only one solution to any problem that occurs – only when I have enough of it am I ready to get out of it, I simply stop feeding the feeling and, bingo, the problem disappears with the bit of identity that had kept it in place. It might take a long time until one has had enough – and some people are obviously tough and stubborn sufferers – but once the limit is reached, a curious decision can be made and then it is only a matter of minutes to be free of the burdening feeling. If the understanding and decision is total, that feeling won’t come back. And then, one is able to make sensible responses to the situation, free of affective feelings.
RESPONDENT: If this is true then obviously I haven’t had enough. I am suffering right now.
VINEETO: Actual Freedom is not a miraculous event that will one day appear all by itself and then all suffering will be over. Actualism, the process to becoming actually free, is a verified method which provides one with the means and tools to investigate the nitty-gritty of the Human Condition in oneself and – when applied with persistence, sincerity, diligence and pure intent – one can successively and permanently free oneself from one’s social identity and then from one’s instinctual passions.
The first thing to investigate is one’s social identity. Unless one has freed oneself from the social mores and ethical rules, from the various role-models that we have learned and adopted throughout our life time it will be impossible to tackle the deeper layers of the instinctual passions. Richard has outlined the social identity in his last letter to No 13 –
VINEETO: Which confirms what Richard has said:
RESPONDENT: I’m not there right now but I am going to be with why I am not ready to leave the ‘self’ behind.
VINEETO: Alan once called a similar attempt the 64,000-dollar question. Why not start with the easier task of tackling your identity as a son, as a man, as an American, etc. There is a plethora of social (and spiritual) rules and regulations to discover, and there is an immense freedom to be gained when leaving those various identities behind.
I copied the original correspondence for you because I think Alan described the situation very well –
VINEETO: So it looks as though now you want to continue our discussion that ended so abruptly on the Actual Freedom mailing list about exactly the same issue – emotion-backed belief in the spiritual teachings of an Authority versus drawing on the obvious expertise of a fellow human being who was Enlightened, emerged from the delusion to discover something far superior to Enlightenment.
RESPONDENT: I guess the main point you are trying to make is the difference in belief in the spiritual teachings of an Authority and drawing on the expertise of a fellow human being who was Enlightened, emerged from the delusion to discover something far superior to Enlightenment.
However, there are some major flaws in this statement:
RESPONDENT: I have used the AF method of running the question in the past and found it to be a good method as I have had extensive experience with similar methods in the past. The problem I have with a method of this type is it tends to become mechanical.
VINEETO: As you say that you had extensive experience with methods similar to the actualism method in the past, this indicates that you have not yet understood the difference between actualism and other – spiritual – methods of observing one’s feelings. The method of watching and observing one’s thoughts and feelings, common to many spiritual teachings, is derived from the Buddhist teachings of Vipassana and consists of becoming aware of your unwanted or undesirable feelings in order to dis-identify from them and successively become detached from all earthly phenomena so as to bolster and make Real one’s true and immortal ‘self’.
Buddha describes the method of watching and discernment very well –
Of course, such a method becomes sensately dulling and mind-numbing mechanical, as it is designed to completely dissociate from one’s unwanted feelings and one’s earthy sensual experiences. Vipassana and other practices of spiritual awareness are based on the premise that I don’t want to be here in the physical world and that I want to get out of here as soon as possible, and the method offered is to dis-identify from one’s thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations and become a disembodied Self existing as Consciousness only.
The actualism method is designed to do exactly the opposite. Actualism is about being here in this physical sensual paradise where we flesh and blood humans actually live. By asking myself ‘how am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ I become aware of what is preventing me from fully sensuously enjoying being here – ‘me’, the alien entity inhabiting this flesh and blood body, consisting of all of my beliefs, feelings and instinctual passions. In order to become free from those feelings and passions ‘I’ will have to die in ‘my’ totality. In actualism I don’t disidentify from my beliefs, feelings and passions but I sincerely acknowledge that ‘I’ am the problem and then proceed to facilitate ‘my’ demise.
I have used the actualism method for four years to assiduously examine the source of my emotional upsets, the depth of my beliefs, the cunning of my alien entity inside, the reasons for my resistance to question further, the details of my social concerns, the insidiousness of my spiritual values, the contents of my affective relationships with people. There is nothing mechanical whatsoever to the in-depth exploration of one’s psyche, it is utterly thrilling to find out how ‘I’ tick and how to successively become free from ‘my’ automatic instinctual reactions.
If you are finding the method you have been using dulling and mechanical, you have not yet discovered the genuine article.
RESPONDENT: The problem I have with being an actualist is that is taking on another identity. You say you have lost your other identities but now you are identified with and as an actualist which is another identity.
VINEETO: There is no need to worry about your identity as an actualist. As you said you ‘have had extensive experience with similar methods in the past’, it is obvious that you have not practiced actualism yet because actualism is 180 degrees opposite to all spiritual and religious methods taught in the past. Actualism is brand new to human history and any similarity to any spiritual method is purely imaginary.
Further, the actualism method is designed to take all of one’s identity apart, without replacing any of it with any new beliefs, credos, values, wisdoms, etc. and – practiced diligently and sincerely – actualism works to minimize the possessive personal concept of ‘I’ or ‘me’ to such a degree that ‘I’ become almost non-existent. If one merely replaces one identity with another, one has not understood the method at all.
I am as much identified with being an actualist – ‘one who practices actualism’ – as I am identified with using a car, a kitchen knife or this computer. I don’t need to emotionally identify with something that works, I simply use it because it works.
It is indeed possible to live without any psychological or psychic identity whatsoever and pure consciousness experiences verify that fact each time again. Living without identity is the very aim of actualism.
VINEETO: At root, fear may be the most basic of all passions, but one has nevertheless to work at peeling away all the outer layers in order to reveal the root and then be able to eliminate it.
RESPONDENT: I have been peeling away the outer layers for a long time. How are you saying the root is to be eliminated once it has been revealed? That is what I am trying to get at.
VINEETO: I fully go along with Richard’s experience, as it accords with my own pure consciousness experiences – ‘only elimination will do the trick’, elimination of ‘me’.
The ‘outer layers’ consist of feelings like greed, sorrow, grief, loneliness, jealousy, loyalty, love, compassion, belonging, worry, discontentment, resentment, annoyance, anger, retribution, cynicism and pride. As you investigate each of those feelings when it arises, those feelings will incrementally disappear along with the bit of ‘you’ who feels and feeds those feelings. In my case, when my love and loyalty for my spiritual teacher disappeared, Vineeto the spiritualist also disappeared, when my pining for another’s love disappeared, Vineeto the romantic dreamer disappeared as well. With every aspect of the human condition that I fully and experientially understood, a bit more of ‘me’ disappeared. This is how you can tell that your method of ‘peeling away the outer layers’ works.
Once you have ‘revealed’ the root of a particular feeling in its totality, i.e. once you brought into the bright light of awareness, then that complete exposure and experiential understanding is at the same time the elimination of that feeling. If a feeling has not disappeared, then it has not been totally understood in all its aspects, and you then have another opportunity to look at it and examine it. Given that ‘I’ am all I think and feel myself to be, then the day I understand all of my emotions and instinctual passions in their totality, ‘I’ will disappear forever, never to return.
RESPONDENT: For example, I have a pretty good experiential understanding of the role that instinctual passions play in perpetuating the human condition and here above you have declared that I don’t understand it at all. I think your lack of integrity and your attitude towards me has a lot to do with it. Anyway, I don’t wish to try and talk to you anymore.
VINEETO: The reason why you seem to fail to understand how I deal with fear is because actualism has a unique approach to dealing with the instinctual passions, in this case the instinctual passion of fear. Your interest and approach seems to be to come to an intellectual understanding of the instinctual passions, in particular fear, in order that ‘you’ can do what ‘you’ want to do without being bothered by the instinctual passions, whereas the aim in actualism is to eliminate one’s social and instinctual identity – and because one’s identity is the source and fuel for sustaining the instinctual passions they will then collapse of their own accord.
The experiential knowledge that I have gained both from numerous pure consciousness experiences and from applying the actualism method over several years is that the instinctual passions only become less powerful if the identity is weakened, i.e. attempting to remove the instinctual passions while not paying attention to the very identity that sustains them will only result in frustration, denial or dissociation.
In other words, actualism works by slowly whittling away at the root cause of the instinctual passions, not by tinkering with the effect.
For that reason I don’t need to know the exact details of the mechanics of the survival instincts, details which even biologist don’t agree upon. I only need to pay attention to my passionate identity in action and by bringing it out into the open my identity inevitably weakens and as a consequence the instinctual passions are progressively dis-empowered.
What you see as my ‘lack of integrity’ may simply be the result of this basic refusal to acknowledge that one’s social- instinctual identity is the root cause of the instinctual passions, and not merely an unwanted by-product of one’s identity. The only way to test whether what I am saying is correct is to find out for yourself by a process of self-observation, but given you have made plain that ‘I don’t want to be a died in the wool Actualist who practices Actualism’, you are apparently left with no other course than to question my integrity.
Integrity to me as an actualist means that I set myself the goal of becoming free from malice and sorrow and then I do whatever is needed to reach this goal. Since I began to apply the method of actualism I have come a fair way towards freedom from malice and sorrow.
VINEETO: In other words, I made a deliberate decision to uncover my beliefs in order to abandon them, beliefs that were disguised as truths, held by me as well as my peer group to be valid and right, good and fair. What made them appear to be right and true were not only my own passionate feelings but the fact that others around me also felt them to be true.
Given that beliefs are nothing other than emotion-backed thoughts the task to uncover my beliefs was fairly easy in principle – whenever I got upset about what someone said I could then reasonably assume that one of my dearly held beliefs or values was challenged. In practice, however, it was often not so easy because each belief I uncovered in fact challenged the very person I felt myself to be.
So, the answer to your question ‘what’s left when all beliefs and ideas including the spiritual is abandoned?’ in my experience was that what is left is the feeler. Consequently I then began to investigate the feelings that do not necessarily have beliefs attached to them but that nevertheless stand in the way of me being unconditionally happy and harmless – the necessary prerequisite to becoming free from one’s ‘self’ altogether.
RESPONDENT: How did you investigate those feelings and link the identity to them?
VINEETO: How to link the identity to my feelings? That’s easy – the pure consciousness experience makes it undeniably clear that ‘I’, the social and instinctual identity, am a feeling identity … therefore any affective feeling is always an articulation of one’s identity in action. Even if one does not have a clear memory of having had a PCE, the simple act of being attentive experientially reveals that ‘I’ am my feelings and my feelings are ‘me’.
When I began to pay exclusive attention to this moment of being alive I soon became aware that my social and instinctual identity thrives on gloomy and antagonistic feelings as well as loving and compassionate feelings whereas feeling happy and delighted deprives the identity of its nourishment. Hence Richard’s method to minimize both the good and the bad feelings while activating and enhancing the felicitous feelings made imminent sense.
This method is not to be confused with the spiritual method of not identifying or not associating with one’s feelings and thoughts – as in the Buddhist practice of detachment – as this practice only serves to create a new pseudo identity, an identity who actively dis-identifies from unwanted aspects of one’s old identity. In actualism I readily acknowledge that ‘I’ in toto am the problem and then proceed to facilitate ‘my’ demise.
As for ‘how did you investigate those feelings’, i.e. those feelings that don’t necessarily have beliefs attached to them – I found that there was no need to make a distinction between feelings with beliefs and feelings without beliefs. Given that my aim is to eliminate ‘me’, the identity, in toto, any feeling that prevents me from being happy and harmless is acknowledged, felt and labelled as it arises, neither expressed nor suppressed but attentively observed, in order that I can then either nip it in the bud or, if need be, explore and understand it fully so as to then be able to abandon it.
Feelings connected with beliefs inevitably surfaced whenever the particular belief was challenged. The only way to completely disempower the feelings is to abandon the belief – no belief, no need to feel defensive, feel aggrieved, feel the need to attack and so on. Even when I thought I had eliminated my major beliefs, such as my religious and spiritual beliefs, I would nevertheless discover yet more beliefs that I had inadvertently taken on board and these beliefs made themselves apparent by the fact that I got upset or sad or irritated about what someone said or did.
Undertaking an exploration of one’s own feelings when and as they are occurring – becoming fascinated with the business of being alive – is the means to developing apperceptive awareness, a prerequisite to becoming free of the human condition itself.
VINEETO: ‘Being mothered’ is clearly an expression for not only a physical taking care but also a close emotional relationship. Mother-child is the most primary relationship for a human being when starting life. A mother – or a substitute mother – is essential for the baby to physically survive and in later years – together with the father – essential for the child to learn the basic functions and rules in the world. From the parents one gets one’s first and strongest imprint and conditioning, and scientist say that in the first seven years one’s character is basically formed. In a physical sense it may well be that one ‘no longer need[s] to be mothered’ from the time one leaves home, but the roots of one’s identity are shaped by mother or father and the positive and negative feelings for mother or father usually play a considerable part in one’s life – unless one leaves home emotionally and physically.
Although I had done various primal therapy groups to investigate my emotional ties with my parents, there was still a lot to do and to investigate when I came across actualism. Psychology gives great credence and value to one’s memories of childhood feelings, be it anger, resentment, love, dependency or trauma and works to reconcile the now-adult with the past feelings of childhood – while actualism aims to find the root of a particular emotional hang-up, to understand the cause and eliminate it as part of one’s identity, as a son or daughter. For instance, when the question of ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive’ brings up a feeling of guilt connected to the values instilled by my mother, I would contemplate about guilt in the Human Condition as one of the moral functions that keep the social and religious system in place. With this understanding guilt is no longer a personal issue between two individuals, but an issue of the Human Condition instilled in me.
With enough courage and the firm intent born out of a PCE I can then step out of that part of my social identity and leave the values of being a ‘good daughter’ behind. The same procedure applies for any other issue connected with the mother-daughter, mother-son relationship, like loneliness, authority, fear and security, duty, peer pressure, etc. One needs not delve into the unreliable memories of childhood hurts but only investigate the feeling that is arising now as it applies to one now and as one is experiencing it now. Understanding is only needed in order that one can take action to be free of the feeling in any future moments where a similar situation may trigger a similar feeling. Be wary of trolling past memories for if one lifts the lid, the garbage bin will forever fill itself up again. Psychological and psychic therapy that focuses on childhood issues has failed for this very reason.
Only then I can say with confidence that I ‘no longer need to mothered’.
VINEETO: I can go along with your statement that the mother needs to be ‘professionally cared for, nursed and hospitalized etc.’, if that is the case, but there is also the issue that people want to be taken care of in the emotional sense of the word. It is usually the demand for emotional care, the pressure to ‘give back what I have given to you’, etc. that creates conflict and stress.
An actualist will deal with this conflict like with any other conflict – not trying to change the other (which is impossible), but changing oneself in that one removes the stranglehold of the Human Condition in oneself and thus becomes un-afflicted and un-affected by the emotional demands of others, be they mother, doctor, brother or peers.
Then one can, with ease and delight, sort out the practical necessities and find the best and most sensible solution for everyone involved. (...)
VINEETO: Most people believe that one will forever be tied to one’s mother by the law of ‘nature’. It is factually wrong.
The moment I left home, my mother ceased to physically take care of me. Since then I have supplied my own food and shelter, my body-cells have renewed themselves many times over since my mother gave birth to me. I am not the same body that I was 20 years ago, let alone at birth. My mother cannot claim any credit for me as I am now. Emotionally, the bond on both sides continued – for me, until I stopped being a ‘daughter’, for her it may well never end.
ALAN: Do you still experience PCEs?
VINEETO: I noticed that PCEs are different to the stunning delightful surprises in the beginning, which were full of tumbling realization, psychedelic-like experiences of my surroundings. They lately seem to be more rare and short minute-long flashes, just long enough to recognize the sparkle and the absence of ‘me’, before ‘I’ appear back on the scene. I put it down to the fear of the ‘real’ thing that might just ‘accidentally happen’ while ‘I’ am temporarily in abeyance, and also to the fact that my continuous persistent obsession with the final event is keeping fear close at hand and thus prevents the ‘extra sparkle’. Since you brought up the question I thought about it and figured that this fear is actually part of me keeping death at bay, as much as I may be convinced that I don’t do it – ‘I’ am verily lost, lonely, frightened and very, very cunning through and through.
But we have lots of very ordinary moments of living together, Peter doing his thing – being an architect or watching cricket or whatever else he takes pleasure in – and I do my thing – playing with pictures or on the website – and then we share lots of delightful pleasures of cooking, eating, a walk into town, a talk on the couch or a rompacious romp. These times seem so normal and ordinary that only in hindsight I recognize their innocence and particular taste of well-being. And then there are these moments, often hours of being excellent, but not quite experiencing a PCE, obsessed with the conundrum in my head of what is in the road of me disappearing. And while I am searching for and finding more and more blinding evidence that there is really, really no solution whatsoever within the boundaries of the ‘self’, there is this deliciously sweet and thrilling ‘taste or smell’ of the approaching inevitability, what Richard calls one’s destiny and I call ‘the proof of the pudding’. And, admittedly, that’s what I am more fascinated with than inducing a PCE.
In my exploration of what I can identify as ‘me’ I was wondering what made me feel guilty, impatient, frustrated and annoyed at not yet being able to prove that actual freedom is possible as the non-spiritual, down-to-earth route that Richard mapped out after his extraordinary journey. What I found, surprise, surprise, was that I was hanging on to a feeling of integrity of ‘me’, which was causing these feelings to erupt. When I examined what that word ‘integrity’ really means, I discovered that this highly valued humanitarian value had been a great support for my investigation of feelings, emotions, beliefs and instincts. It appears in the same basket as sincerity, honesty towards myself and the stubborn resistance to settle for second best. But nevertheless, integrity is nothing but a nice man-made value, developed presumable in the Middle Ages, with the legends of heroic knights and fair maiden, to keep the raw instincts at bay. And what’s integrity worth as it is only covering the underneath lurking instincts, old and rotten like ancient dinosaur bones. And I noticed that it is particularly the ‘good’ bits of the self that I am still defending.
RESPONDENT: I don’t need your endorsement or approval, but honestly, it does mean something to me, approval from others. I know I have plenty to learn in many areas.
VINEETO: In my investigation I have made a difference between ‘needing approval’ and scrutiny. Since I embarked on my journey to freedom, every single person’s input has been of value to me for scrutinising myself, be it criticism or approval, because I would measure my reaction to their input on what I wanted to achieve ie be free from any emotional reaction and check if I was not kidding myself. Given that I, like everyone else, have this ‘very very cunning entity’ inside myself, I will use every help possible to dismantle the ‘self’s’ tricks to stay in existence.
The ‘needing approval’ I know very well and I can say that it disappears as the need to maintain an identity vanishes. It is the identity that needs approval, given it is made up of other people’s opinion about me, as well as the instincts that everyone is born with.
RESPONDENT: Peter just sent a diagram showing ‘who I am’ diminishes gradually and ‘what I am’ becomes apparent in actualism. I read the same thing in spiritualism. Just that they call ‘who I am’ as ego (and I understand soul also if any such thing exists) and ‘what I am’ as God (by whatever name). I don’t see God as an identity at all. It is just a situation when ‘I’ does not exist. With my understanding of both spiritualism and actualism so far, I think there are two big lies, which I have to understand:
I think I have understood the first lie, more or less.
VINEETO: When you say:
You have just defined ‘God’ as ‘a situation when ‘I’ do not exist’ and thus put it all nicely back into the spiritual belief system. If the spiritual ‘God’ is a non-identity, how come Rajneesh, Krishnamurti and all the other enlightened gurus had such glamour, glory and glitz about them, how come they needed heaps of devoted disciples and couldn’t live as a fellow human being among other fellow human beings? Is this not the most obvious proof of having an identity, now even bigger, brighter, shinier and ‘wiser’ than everybody else? No more ego, but the soul in full swing.
When ‘I’, the complete identity, both the one ‘I think I am’ and the one ‘I feel I am’ have disappeared, there is no sense of identity whatsoever, nobody that can identify oneself as God or Existence or ‘All That Is’. Then there is only a body with limbs and senses, blood-circulation and a brain that is aware of being alive. There is no identity holding it all together, no identity experiencing each moment, nothing that has a past and a future, no sense of ‘being’ and nothing that has any emotional memory whatsoever.
RESPONDENT: Now I have to realise the second one, which I understand intellectually, but not experientially. I am not interested in branding my understanding as either actualism or spiritualism. If this is what actualism says and maintains that this is different from spiritualism – fair enough. As an expert on actualism, if you confirm that my understanding conforms to what actualism says, then the next question is whether spiritualism also says the same thing! I am not an expert on spiritualism. In fact I know very little of it compared to you. But what I am quite sure of is my understanding.
VINEETO: An intellectual ‘understanding’ that ‘I’ am a ‘big lie’ won’t do anything. It will just be putting another intellectual belief on top of an existing belief, a new dress over the old corpse.
The diagram is trying to make clear, that all we know, all we are, is this grey mass of ‘who I am’. This ‘who’ has to be dismantled, piece by piece, gradually and meticulously – and there are no short-cuts such as meditative mantras of ‘I am but an illusion’, ‘I am only a belief’. Because this ‘who I am’ is not only a mental construct that can be dismissed with an intellectual understanding, this ‘who I am’ is an emotional and instinctual package, supported by the chemical surges of our survival instincts, by ancient beliefs of our ancestors, a firm social structure of beliefs, morals, ethics and psittacisms, and on top of it a dearly held, carefully constructed, individual personality. There is a lot at stake when one decides for the path to freedom.
Logic is not going to make you free. Logic is a plain mental activity that avoids any real change. Actualism is about digging into one’s beliefs, tearing them apart, facing the upcoming fears and leaving one’s social identity behind. One has to fully experience each of the upcoming feelings in order to get to the bottom of it all. Then, out of this in-depth investigation, I am compelled to change my behaviour, and I am leaving my ‘self’ behind, piece by piece.
RESPONDENT: When an emotion has been fully investigated and there is nothing new to be learned from it, what can be done about it? I don’t think I really understand the difference between nipping it in the bud and repressing it. Many emotions recur automatically unless I take action to either dismiss them or redirect my attention elsewhere. I am not comfortable with this because it seems akin to repression, but I don’t know any other way to dispense with the feelings. Any tips would be appreciated.
VINEETO: In my experience with the actualism method, I didn’t nip many emotions in the bud until I was certain that the whole issue that brought on the emotion had been examined and clearly understood.
By neither repressing nor expressing an emotion I have opportunity to ask some investigative questions, either in the situation, if I am not too upset, or some time afterwards when the worst of the storm has passed. My questions go something like this – what brought on the emotional reaction, what is the underlying cause, what is the reoccurring theme, what is the belief behind it, what is it I particularly hold dear that caused my getting upset, what part of my identity feels insulted, threatened, annoyed, etc., what action do I possibly need to take in order to prevent a reoccurring of my upset, and finally, what part of ‘me’ do I need to let go of in order to permanently become free from this particular emotional reaction?
Some emotional reactions I could easily dismiss as being plain silly such as complaints about the weather, about obstacles in the traffic, about people being late, and so on. These situations merely needed a change of attitude, some attentiveness to stop the old habit and then the emotion would not occur again by my sheer determination not to let such trivia bug me. For those issues that needed no further inquiry, nipping any upcoming emotional reaction in the bud was the perfect and only sensible solution.
Other issues took more inquisitiveness, attentiveness, guts and intent to look at the uncomfortable dark side of ‘me’ in order to get to the bottom of reoccurring emotional reactions. For instance, when I first met Peter I had a lot of male-female issues that caused me to get upset which could only be resolved by me finding out the facts of the matter and then letting go of my various idea, opinions, beliefs and feelings around being a woman, i.e. my social identity of being a woman.
Another area that needed extensive exploration had to do with my feelings of love and loyalty for my former spiritual teacher. I began to inch my way into slowly questioning the sensibility of being loyal in the face of blatant contradictions between his teachings and his behaviour and his promises and the actual outcome of practicing his teachings, but for a while each time someone else said something against him I flared up, so much so that for the first 3 months Peter and I agreed to not talk about ‘the war’. It was clear for me that this could only be a temporary measure and I steadily proceeded with finding out the facts of the matter despite my reoccurring feelings of fear, doubt, suspicion, defensiveness, treachery and abandonment that this course of action could sometimes create. Those feelings only permanently disappeared when I managed to irrevocably let go of my identity of being a follower, a member of the clan, a worshipper and lover of a Godman, a New-Age goody-two-shoes and a spiritual seeker and believer.
From those two examples you can see that the actualism method is not a superficial tool to make bad feeling go away – it is, when used correctly, a powerful instrument for radical, i.e. eradicating, change. It’s my identity I willingly let go of when I apply attentiveness and understanding and as a consequence the feelings that were produced and maintained by the respective parts of my identity also disappear.
As an analogy, you could say that the good and bad feelings are only the tip of the iceberg, the tangible aspect of one’s identity. As such, when I pay increasing attention as to how I experience this moment of being alive, increasing parts of the iceberg, ‘me’, come to the surface – and this is a necessary process if one is to bring one’s ‘self’ to the light for progressive dissolution.
RESPONDENT: The identity is comprised of (not necessarily distinct) these parts: ego aka thinker, feeler aka soul, social identity, instinctual self, correct?
VINEETO: When I began to write on mailing lists about my experience with actualism, I first used the terms mainly used in spiritual circles to describe the identity – ego and soul, or thinker and feeler. However, as I explored more and more of my psyche and became more familiar about the nitty gritty of ‘me’ in operation, I found that the terms ‘social identity’ and ‘instinctual identity’ describe more accurately the two layers of my identity, the social identity being the layer of conditioning acquired after birth in order to curb the instinctual identity and its genetically encoded instinctual passions. This is just a preference that I have as I personally find the terms to be more descriptive and concise in conveying what I mean to others – contrary to what some believe there are no rules governing terminology around here.
RESPONDENT: Also the attributes or even the material by which the identity is made of is – feelings and emotions, instinctual passions, and thoughts (seldom free of emotions when an attribute of identity). Is this correct?
VINEETO: To the list of what the identity consists of I would add beliefs (feeling-fed thoughts about who rules the ethereal world and ‘my’ place in the hierarchy of the spiritual world), concepts (feeling-fed thoughts about ‘my’ place in the hierarchy of the materialistic world), moral and ethical values (feeling-fed thoughts about what is good and bad, right and wrong), vibes, myths and psittacisms.
There is no material by which the identity is made of, in that there is no ego in the head, or a little man pulling the levers and controlling the body, nor is there a soul located in the heart or a real me deep down inside as an actuality. However both aspects of one’s identity, whilst not being actual and having no material existence, are experienced as being very real – feelings are very real to the person having them. Beliefs are very real to the person who holds them dear, morals and ethics can dominate a person’s thoughts, actions and feelings, instinctual passions are very often overwhelming in their strength, and so on. In fact, the identity and his or her associated attributes are so real, so dominating and so overwhelming that they cause human beings to be nearly always in wary mode, defence mode, or attack mode – exactly as other animals are.
RESPONDENT: Is there a hierarchical structure to these various parts of the identity? Is it that one is operational at a given time not others – or – they all orchestrate with each other one feeding on the other like the legs of the millipede?
VINEETO: I found that because my social identity was mainly a training to curb my instinctual passions, particularly the so-called bad passions, I first had to whittle away at this layer of my identity in order to allow the deeper and stronger passions to emerge such that I could take a good look at how and why they operated. But this is not necessarily a smooth operation – sometimes just a crack in the outer layer reveals a bit of what is underneath, sometimes a big crack opens up and one gets a quite often shocking glimpse at what can be described as ‘the raw animal inside’ and sometimes one breaks right through the lot and a pure consciousness experience results when all of a sudden the whole centre and the protective circumference of my identity disappears … as if by magic.
RESPONDENT: The baby is born with these raw instinctual passions, basic software to protect itself from some of the dangers and situations – also with things like ‘theory of mind’ (which is later programmed or tuned more) – this is the instinctual self.
As I understand it the ‘theory of mind’ develops at about age 2-3, therefore I would say all humans are born pre-primed to think and feel themselves to be a separate ‘self’.
RESPONDENT: And with time – are these same instinctual passions fine-tuned to give rise to various feelings and beliefs and emotional behaviour patterns by societal conditioning?
VINEETO: The instinctual passions are never fine-tuned – in my experience they were only overlaid with social conditioning. I was only able to conduct a clear-eyed investigation of the instinctual passions in their full force once I was ready, able and willing to incrementally lift the lid of my beliefs, morals, ethics, values, ideals and principles that are the very constituents of my social identity.
RESPONDENT: When do I know I have come face to face with a raw instinctual passion – not just a conditioning of social identity – is this when the ‘social identity’ is deleted to a great extent – so as to see the underlying ‘instinctual passion’ devoid of the thinking distortions that usually accompanies it?
VINEETO: This is how Peter described it in the ‘The Actualist’s Guide’ –
RESPONDENT: Or is it (I think I read it in Peter’s journal) when I get to this point where I don’t see any reason for the fear or the strong emotion – it is just there – then I know it is an instinctual passion? If this is the case, I have come across situations where I have a strong emotion and I see that there is no reason for it to be there, at least I don’t believe that it is apt at that time.
VINEETO: The way I determined that I had come across an underlying instinctual passion was by the sheer intensity of the passion that welled up like a giant octopus, sometimes for no apparent reason. In such instance it was not that I had become upset about a belief that was attacked or that an aspect of my social identity that had been exposed – I knew I was experiencing something deeper and far more substantial than feelings – it was naked fear, pure rage, bottomless dread, sheer lust to kill, or the mindless intoxication of nurture.
RESPONDENT: Also I thought about another ‘Spiritual Freedom’ vs ‘Actual Freedom’ item when I was reading one of the pages (if this is not already tabled): In the former, one is a saviour of humankind (at least (s)he feels/thinks so) and in the latter ‘one is an expert in human condition’ (unless in the future, the babies are born free – in which case they will be without such expertise except vicariously).
VINEETO: Yepp, I have felt, and in that moment experientially understood, the overwhelming feeling of ‘knowing it all’ and the urging need to spread this wisdom revealed to ‘Me’ in a full-blown ASC that lasted several hours. As for ‘one is an expert in human condition’, I can only talk from the perspective of Virtual Freedom but I would say I am only partially an expert in the human condition in as far as I have explored my own psyche, which to a certain extent is the human psyche, and I am certainly an expert in how I became virtually free from the human condition.
However, there are many, many aspects of the human condition, cultural nuances, tribal rites, personal obsessions, weird passions, senseless beliefs and elaborate philosophies that I don’t know and neither have I the slightest interest in gaining such expertise. In any case, everyone has to do the job to take himself or herself apart if they choose to become free from the particular bent of their own social identity in order to firstly become virtually free of malice and sorrow. For this, one doesn’t need to be an expert in the human condition – ‘you’ only need to be an expert in what it is that is stopping you from being happy and harmless, no more and no less.
As an example of this, Richard had little intellectual knowledge about the instinctual passions before he became free of them – it was only Peter’s curiosity that prodded him to find out more and to write about them in more detail. Actualism is after all an experiential business, not an intellectual one.
RESPONDENT: (...) Part of my psyche is excessive worry. This of course is focused on future events, with their unknown outcomes. Intellectually I’ve known it’s a total waste of time, but it recurs. I’ve found that when asking ‘How am I…’, time sort of disappears (??), or shrinks. It’s hard to describe exactly, but the future definitely isn’t even a consideration. Interesting.
VINEETO: Yes, intellectual reasoning by itself does not eliminate emotional worries, they will always bleed through or pop up like a balloon that you try keeping under water. I had to find the ‘worrier’, the part of my identity that was afraid of being alive, and question why I kept feeding and pampering her, so as to be able to put a dent into my automatic worrying.
You can use the question of ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ to bring your attention to this moment. However, if the worry is continuously taking your attention away from this moment then you can also pay close attention to identify the part of your identity that is doing the worrying. ‘Self’-immolation is all about luring the identity out of hiding and convincing him/her to exit the stage for the benefit of this body, that body and every body.
RESPONDENT: So, after a lot of mulling, I’ve determined that I’m using these various contexts as red herrings to dance around the fundamental issue of happiness and harmlessness. I’ve discovered that a lot of these intellectual exercises are contrived by my identity in a futile attempt to exercise a form of control in order to assuage an underlying anxiety. It’s clear that this anxiety is firmly rooted in the instinctual fear mechanism, with the horror of my inevitable demise looming on the distant horizon.
VINEETO: Richard is having an interesting conversation regarding the topic of this ‘instinctual fear mechanism’ with Respondent No 39 on another mailing list. You will find the thread in his latest correspondence starting October 22.
For me, I began to put the method into practice bit-by-bit and step-by-step, because in practice I neither would, nor could, bite off bigger pieces than I could chew. It’s the jumping in and doing of it that actually creates the courage and the incentive to keep going.
RESPONDENT: It’s also clear that this state has been created by my identity, an entity that has an increasingly alien character.
VINEETO: From my experience, it does not matter if ‘me’ as an identity – who I think and feel I am – has an alien character or a non-alien character – all of it is ‘me’, no matter into how many parts I preferred to split myself. In my days of therapy and spiritual practice I used to divide my ‘self’ into an ‘inner male’ and an ‘outer female’, the feeler and the watcher, the intuitive and the rational self, the lower ‘self’ and the higher ‘self’, the passionate old ‘me’ and the aware new ‘me’. Part of the job of backtracking out of the spiritual-psychological nonsense I had been conditioned with was to stop dividing me into various identities and recognize, acknowledge and affectively experience that ‘who I am’ is an instinctually driven, culturally tainted and spiritually conditioned identity.
This shocking and unflattering acknowledgement prepared the ground for an actual change.
RESPONDENT: Without going into the gory details, recently I’ve had another example of how insidious and entrenched the identity is, and how determined it is to protect its existence, at all costs.
In this instance, the identity demanded the usual set of emotions (guilt, shame, etc.), and while I certainly felt them, I didn’t react in the typical fashion by cooperating and going on an affective tangential loop-de-doo. It was really quite amazing to observe this marvellously complex process at play, sort of like those documentaries on life on the deep ocean floor.
I have spent a lot of time over the last 10 years digging into the various aspects of social conditioning (religion, socio-culture, gender, parents/authorities), a process accelerated over the last year by applying the AF method, and am relatively free of these overt influences. Now it’s time to take the elevator down to the next floor.
VINEETO: Your recent correspondences with Richard and me set me off thinking about the first few months when I started exploring actualism, and what it was that preceded and initiated my first major PCE. With the benefit of hindsight it was clear that my way of taking ‘the elevator down to the next floor’ was to decide to close the back door on a lot of aspects of my former life. Meditation and being the ‘watcher’ did not work because it did not make me happy, let alone make me harmless. Being a follower of Rajneesh and belonging to the Sannyas community did not work because it did not peace or happiness. There was still no peace in the world, neither within the Sannyasin community nor in any other spiritual or religious belief-system.
So, although I did not quite know where I was going when I closed the back door, I nevertheless knew by experience where I would not find the solution – neither in the real world nor in the spiritual world. In closing the door on my past life, I abandoned my dreams and entered new territory with no option to turn back.
I am convinced that it was this common sense commitment to say ‘no’ to the well-tried, and always-failed, methods and my daring to say ‘never again’ to holding on to my past hopes, dreams and beliefs that inevitably catapulted me into a PCE – the experience of being right here, right now, bare of any belief, truth, hope or preconceived idea. This pure consciousness experience radically changed my understanding of actualism because for the first time I understood, in my own experience, what Richard was talking about and what he is living 24 hours a day … and it’s paradise on earth.
VINEETO to Gary: Recently Peter and I were talking about this very quality of virtual freedom – after sufficient explorations into the human condition I am now able to ‘nip these reactions in the bud’ shortly after they appear and many events that usually would have triggered an angry or sad response in the past now fail to do so.
At my stage of the process the job now is to remember to stop the once essential but now redundant habit of rummaging around in my psyche in order to regurgitate issues that I have already explored, resolved and understood so as to get on with being happy and harmless as soon and as uninterruptedly as possible. Strangely enough that leaves ‘me’ increasingly with nothing to do, which in itself sometimes stirs the uncomfortable feeling of being redundant – a sure sign that my efforts of actively diminishing ‘me’ have had tangible effect. Vineeto, The Actual Freedom Trust Mailing List, Gary, 12.2.2003
RESPONDENT: This is akin to taking the training wheels off the bicycle.
VINEETO: I don’t quite relate to your metaphor. What I described was my acquired habit of searching for trouble-spots in my psyche that I could investigate when there is really nothing going on.
In the process of practicing actualism over the past years I have uncovered and explored many parts of my identity with the aim of eliminating my social identity and experientially understanding the instinctual passions as much as humanly possible. The part of my identity that for obvious reasons has remained as the tail end of my enterprise in ‘self’-immolation is ‘Vineeto the researcher’ or Vineeto the ‘‘self’-investigator’. Lately I began to realize with occasional trepidation that even this part of my identity will eventually have to come to an end if ‘I’, in my totality, am to come to an end – i.e. one day the search is definitely going to be over.
However, given that for actualism to work ‘I’, the identity, willingly and consciously agree to take myself apart, I would not advise anyone to attempt a shortcut and start to question the ‘‘self’-investigator’ at an earlier stage of the process. That would be mere self-deceit, akin to the Advaita slogan that ‘if only I stop my desire to be free then I am ok as I am’ and bingo, ‘Thou Art That’!
RESPONDENT: I’ve found that while some issues have been explored thoroughly, they do continue to pop up. I too can nip them in the bud, but I’m careful to ascertain that the instance is one of the ‘old ones’ and doesn’t bear too much more investigation. It’s important to ensure that it is fully understood as the identity is a slippery devil. This is too serious a business to let down the guard too far. On the other hand, too much ‘analysis is paralysis’. Is this roughly what you’re getting at?
I noticed that in your correspondence with Gary you changed your expression of ‘letting down the guard too far’ for ‘monitoring’. I like the expression of monitoring because it describes well the process of being attentive to everything that is happening in one’s head and one’s heart with the sole aim of becoming happy and harmless. Once this aim was clear, my persistent and sincere monitoring has resulted in increasingly detecting my automatic ‘self’-sustaining reactions, such as my ‘self’-perpetuating indulgence in feelings or my ‘self’-preserving denial of unwanted feelings.
As for ‘too much ‘analysis is paralysis’’ I’d like to take the opportunity to discriminate between ‘self’-investigation and ‘self’-analysis as it is used in psychoanalysis. Psychological ‘self’-analysis prescribes a process of ‘self’-validation via dreams and memories in order to strengthen one’s identity so as to better cope within the human condition. Psychology, psychoanalysis and new-age therapy have no intention of diminishing the ‘self’, let alone eliminating the identity altogether.
In actualism, ‘self’-investigation is a process that not only has the opposite intent but it also goes far deeper – it is not rearranging bits of one’s identity but it is a tangible weakening of the ‘self’ via eliminating beliefs and moral and ethical values. Each time when I hit a major issue and proceeded to examine it, I came to a point where I understood the issue so clearly that I had no choice but to take action and drop that part of my identity in question if I was at all sincere. There were several loud ‘clunks’ that I distinctly remember, some of which I have described in ‘A Bit of Vineeto’, and very often the letting go of the investigated part of identity resulted in a pure consciousness experience where the actual world became stunningly apparent.
VINEETO: Hi Gary,
Some observations on the topic ‘how am I in relation to other people’ –
GARY: to Richard: One of the most striking things to happen to me since I started practising Actualism is the diminishment of emotional connections to other human beings. I cannot say that there are absolutely no connections to others, as it is obvious to me in my relationship with my partner that a sense of connectedness comes up from time to time in various ways. And no doubt this happens with other people as well. However, I have noticed for a long period that when people want to be ‘friends’ with me, for instance, and make certain friendly overtures, these are generally not at all reciprocated on my part. In other words, the offer to ‘make a friend’ or ‘be a friend’ or such similar things as happen in the social world usually fall completely flat on my part. I have sometimes gotten the impression, gleaned from body language and other cues, that this irritates people. Overtures of this type just do not seem to ‘take’ with me. It is difficult to describe but I am sure that the other practiced Actualists on this list know what I am talking about.
Another obvious sign of the diminishment of emotional connections is in the ‘need’ to affiliate. I seem to have no need to affiliate with others, in the sense that that word is commonly used. This is not to say that I am rude or inconsiderate towards others, but as I feel little need or drive to ‘socialize’, pair off with, or otherwise ‘bond’ with others, there is little in an active social sense that is going on with me. Which brings me to a point: in my investigations of what it means to be a human being, I have been struck with how much of human socializing is based on commiseration – sharing a common plight and grievance, and additionally sharing feelings and emotions: whether it be returning to work on Monday, the state of the economy, the price of gasoline, how unfairly the work place is treating you, etc., etc. Human beings seems to revel in their complaints and gripes, and a sense of resentment is the cement that seems to bind people together in many social situations. Indeed, it is the raison d’etre for political groups and political causes of various types.
VINEETO: You are right; ‘the ‘need’ to affiliate’ is a sticky business. I remember clearly when I saw Peter for the first time not as an affiliate of any kind but as a separate-from-me fellow human being. In an instant of clear perception, all ‘my’ sticky psychic tentacles that automatically reach out both to objects and to people around me had fallen away. From this particular insight I gained an understanding about what usually happens in interaction with others. I began to see, and unravel, the connections that ‘I’ spun with others, the deals ‘I’ struck, the bargains ‘I’ committed to and the mutual obligations ‘I’ engaged in during my daily interactions with people, particularly those I considered ‘my friends’.
I am reminded of another insight about ‘connectedness’ from my early days of actualism. As I walked into town one day, I noticed a tree at a street corner and with surprise I also noticed that in that moment I did not feel connected with that tree in any way. I was surprised because, by the very absence of connectedness, I became aware of ‘my’ psychic tentacles and how they normally engulfed everything as belonging to ‘my’ milieu – not only this particular tree but most things in my close environment. ‘I’ considered everything as being related to me, either giving reassurance or posing a threat – I either liked it or disliked it, it was part of ‘my’ territory, or it was part of, as No 45 lately called it, ‘my universe’. This meant that whenever anything in ‘my’ territory changed alarm bells rang – I became confused, if not upset, disturbed, hurt, annoyed, resentful, angry or sad.
Throughout the process of actualism I have become aware of, and incrementally dissolved, my ‘connections’ to things in my close environment and I investigated my affiliations and friendships with people. As you pointed out, most sharing between people consists of commiseration, but as I continued with the actualism practice I had less and less to complain about my own life, which meant I had less and less common misery with people. The wonderful outcome of this ‘unconnectedness’ is that I am more and more able to meet and treat people as fellow human beings – that means I recognize and treat them as what they are instead of relating to them as bit players in ‘my’ game, subjects of ‘my’ moral judgements and demands, projections of ‘my’ fears and desires.
GARY: However, not to get too far afield and to return again to the theme of emotional ‘connection’, I have sometimes in past months been aghast at my lack of emotional, social connection to others. There has been the fright that I am suffering from a serious mental disorder. In that one’s emotional connections with others are a prime indicator of one’s mental health, that may certainly be the case, although I carry no official diagnosis (not having come into contact with mental health professionals in any capacity that relates to me personally). There has been something at times like anxiety and shock to recognize that I am no longer moved by a need to affiliate and identify with others. This fear reminds me of the fears I first encountered in Actualism – atavistic fears relating to being an ‘outcast’, ie. falling off the plate of humanity, so to speak. However, the fears have taken on a somewhat different spin, at times feeling myself to be the object of derision or discrimination. Whatever it is, and although there may be a slightly paranoid flavour at times, I am unable to return to what once was a habitual mode of operation socially – to seek out ‘relationships’ with others, whether they be friendships, kinship with family members, or groups to identify with.
VINEETO: What you describe as being ‘aghast at my lack of emotional, social connection to others’ I would describe in my experience as the natural reaction, sometimes fearful, sometimes merely surprised, at seeing how radically I have changed as I am extracting myself more and more from my social and instinctual connection with humanity. During the recent years of living in virtual freedom I could verify again and again that I am not only capable of physically surviving without those ‘emotional, social connections’ but I am far, far better off than I was ever before – I am virtually free from any mood swings, I am feeling excellent almost all the time and I genuinely enjoy the company of anybody with whom I interact, whatever the occasion.
Now that I don’t have a ‘social connection’ with a few specifically chosen friends it becomes apparent that my daily life is full of social interactions – I have pleasant and friendly interactions with my various clients, agreeable chats when I answer the phone, a little gossip with the checkout person in the supermarket, with the waitress in the coffee shop, with a neighbour, and so on. These are all social interactions that I used to dismiss as unwanted time-consuming distractions as opposed to the ‘real’ interactions with my chosen friends.
And then there are interactions on the Actual Freedom Mailing list – talking about my favourite topic with other practicing actualists and people interested in, or objecting to, becoming happy and harmless.
GARY: As I write these words, I am thinking that these fears are basic atavistic fears related to the demolishment of one’s identity, as well as fears that indicate the presence of the identity in the first place. These fears have largely settled down at the present time.
I would welcome any comments either you or other participants have about the topic currently under discussion.
VINEETO: I think you have summed it up very neatly. It is ‘me’, the identity, who needs emotional so-called meaningful interactions with people in order for ‘me’ to exist. Without the constant confirmation from others of my identity ‘I’ feel rather weak, insecure and become increasingly feeble. The other night I had a very clear perception that ‘who I am’ is almost entirely made up of my affective instinctual connection with other people – both with those whom I meet face-to-face and with humanity at large. In that particular moment of understanding ‘my’ affective extensions that reach out to the world around me were once again temporarily disengaged and I was here, as what I am, this physical flesh and blood body, not obligated to anybody and free to leave the herd.
RESPONDENT: At another passage Mrs. Charlotte Joko Beck (Everyday Zen, Harper &Row, New York) advocates the opinion that emotional thoughts have to melt away, all these imagination, hopes. Every near relationship bring sufferings as our expectations are not fulfilled. We should make clear about these disappointments etc. and no longer cling to emotions. I don’t know whether I agree to it. But I think it sounds familiar to you.
VINEETO: It might sound similar. But what Zen implies and what is not mentioned in your quote is that the human emotions should ‘melt away’ for the higher goal of dissolving into the Divine or Higher Self. One should turn away from earth life and its disappointments and discover one’s ‘True Self’ (the Inner, the Soul, the True Nature) which then becomes one with everything. A giving up of human suffering for bliss in the ‘spirit’.
If you look closer it is only slightly different from the Christian faith, don’t you think so? Another translation, a less personified God (no man with a long white beard), but nevertheless a turning away from life on earth with its self-centred feelings and emotions.
The new thing, that I found in Richard’s discovery, is a questioning of everything that is not actual – not experience-able through the physical senses. This includes everything – good and bad – that human beings believe and ‘feel’ about being on earth. The important words are ‘believe’ and ‘feel’. Everything that we human beings have made up in our minds, in head or heart, is part of the particular identity of each of us. For instance: I have been a German, a woman, a secretary, a restaurant-owner, a Sannyasin, a drug-counsellor, a girlfriend, a lover, an Australian resident – all those emotional identities were the ‘who’ I thought and felt I was. Those roles and identities made me different to and separate from everyone around me who had different feelings, different beliefs, different emotional experiences or emotional memories. Further I discovered that I was driven by instincts – our animal heritage from the days of sheer survival – that all humans are equipped with from birth. They all form what we call ‘self’.
In the end, when I look around, it is exactly those different, passionate defended roles, beliefs and emotions that are causing both religious and territorial / tribal wars in the world. No religion or philosophy has ever, or will ever, succeed in bringing a lasting solution to wars, rapes, murder, suicide, depression, fear etc. Although using different methods, both Eastern and Western religions tell us to ‘go somewhere else’ in our imagination, into some inner space or some hoped for heaven after death.
The new approach is to get rid of this entity inside the physical body, which is more or less the same for every human being, and have paradise here on earth, while we are alive. I cleaned myself of the alien entity inside that feels, worries, is hurt, is hopeful, is loved or unloved, feels connected or an outsider, is angry, is anxious, excited or bored. An identity that continuously wants to make sense of questions like ‘why are we here?’ and ‘what happens after death’?
Recognising beliefs and emotions as just that, as ideas and feelings and not an actual part of my physical body and thus non-essential to living as a sensate and reflective body, I slowly slowly discarded every single one of them as redundant. It is a continuous psychic operation, shaking the very ground I thought I was standing on, but it is like removing a cancer that has made life hard, fearful, miserable or ‘otherworldly’.
This process is like taking the skin-tight suit off to feel the air on the skin for the first time, smell a flower for the first time without an interpretation of good or bad, to hear the rain falling on the leaves for the first time in this moment in time. Just the senses, and the delight of being aware of it. Any meaning, any goal, any moral or ethical judgement would stand in the way of this direct sensate intimacy. Simply being a human being, enjoying every moment of life, without malice, without sorrow – without an identity that would feel and act on those emotions.
The end-result is that one lives on this earth, in this moment, utterly carefree, able to apply intelligence wherever needed, fully enjoying the sensual delights and pleasures, and is much more innocent than a new-born child.
Not only hopes disappeared but also the ‘hoper’, not only feeling insulted disappeared but also the ‘feeler’ along with an ‘insulter’. The whole factory of emotions and imaginations (believing) has gone up in smoke. A wonderful liberation. A final arrival. I had searched all my life, but always in the wrong direction, away from life, away from earth, away from the physical. In a big loop I now come back to my senses, literally and figuratively.
I have intended in this summary to hit the core of the matter, but one never knows. However, after all my psychic and psychological problems are solved, the practical organization of a comfortable survival and life-style are no big challenge at all, which means that life is fun. I am as happy as can be, and harmless on top of it.
RESPONDENT: I assure you that I’m not talking about an eastern ideal or philosophy. The experience of the witness I’m describing is my current personal experience, for me it is a fact! If you are experiencing some other personality in this space of being that you call witnessing, as far as I’m concerned you are not just witnessing!
VINEETO: I don’t doubt your personal experience – but, ‘who’ is witnessing? And who told you to develop that witness in the first place? ‘Who’ is so firmly convinced about this personal experience? ‘Who’ is this witnessing entity inside of you? What would happen if this witnessing entity stopped ‘being’ the witness? ‘What’ would be left?
When bare awareness happens, there is no entity that can identify itself as ‘being one with everything’, ‘being love’, ‘being’ anything at all. With bare awareness you are this flesh and blood body only, your eyes seeing, your ears hearing... – no love, no bliss, no oneness with anything.
RESPONDENT: There is no personality in this space what so ever. There is no me in this space! There is just witnessing! Feelings are nothing more than subtle thoughts, and I’m not talking to you about thoughts, I’m talking to you about what I experience when there are no thoughts! There is no female or male in witnessing, just being!
VINEETO: ‘Just being’ is still an identity. It is the most subtle of all identities that the ‘self’ can produce, and yet it is – on honest investigation – distinguishable from this flesh and blood body, it is a ‘something’ or ‘someone’ inside your physical body, it is a passionate imagination.
Vineeto’s & Richard’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.