Selected Correspondence Vineeto
RESPONDENT: It actually makes my head spin a bit ... definitely some ‘opportunities’ to explore.
VINEETO: This is a good sign, if I may say so, because when your head begins to ‘spin a bit’ then the familiar identity begins to crack … and through this crack you could snatch a glance of the actual world – magnificent, sparkling, pure and perfect.
RESPONDENT: There are momentary glimpses, as you say, as glancing through a crack. Is this what it was like when we were children? I remember being completely unbound from time and space, totally absorbed in what was happening in front of me right then and there.
VINEETO: Children are not born innocent as we have been made to believe by Eastern religions – they are little instinctually-driven beings that are in the process of being trained to curb their passions in a socially accepted way, the process known as instilling a social conscience. Young children follow their feelings more freely than adults because their socialisation process of shoulds and shouldn’ts is not yet complete and they might feel ‘unbound from time and space’ because their feelings are not yet burdened by the responsibilities of adulthood or the fear of death.
Sometimes, however, children do glance into the actual world by accident – as do adults on occasion – and experience a pure consciousness experience. I remember when I was about 8 years old and strolling through the meadow behind my parent’s house. It was summertime and the grass was about chest-height for an eight-year-old, the summer flowers were in full bloom and the grass itself was blooming. I lay down and completely disappeared in the high grass and all I could see were the tips of the swaying grass and the clouds drifting by in the sky. Everything was perfect, there were no worries in the world and I was engulfed by the magic of the meadow and the sky.
Later on I tried to have this same experience again, by simply lying down in the grass and I thought that I couldn’t have the same experience because the grass wasn’t the right height. No matter what time of the year I tried, I didn’t manage to repeat the same innocent, carefree and delightful experience that I had on that particular day. Only when I learnt about actual freedom and understood the difference between a pure consciousness experience, normal every-day experience and a spiritual experience, did I understand that on this particular day I had a glimpse of the perfection and purity of the actual world.
VINEETO: You recently wrote to No 33 about what you described as ‘a mini-PCE’, saying that it was ‘accompanied by a real sensation of unfettered happiness’. The expression, and my own experiences of ‘unfettered happiness’ triggered some trains of thought.
RESPONDENT: I’ve been mulling over the first part of your post, the reference to a PCE as seeing from ‘a bird’s eye view’. It was oddly coincidental as it arrived the same day as I had awoken to what I think was a mini-PCE. I had spent a good part of the day before actively recollecting PCE experiences of my earlier years so I must have greased the skids a bit (side note – this is why the vets hammer on remembering a previous PCE so strongly). It was similar to experiences I had had when younger, and there was a definite perception of being ‘outside’ or ‘not myself’, a ‘bird’s eye view’. It was also accompanied by a real sensation of unfettered happiness, something which I realize has been all too lacking of late. Alas, it was not long-lived but residuals did linger through the day. I think that my ‘outside’ interpretation is a natural first conclusion, when historically the ‘identity’ is considered the ‘real’, hence anything else is foreign, but if I have the nerve to suggest that the ‘identity’ is actually on the ‘outside’ (so to speak) of my actual self, then a PCE exposes the real nature of ‘identity’ as interloper. Same shoes, different feet.
I think it’s time to cut back on the intellectualization and spend some more time on the experiential half of the process...
VINEETO: I found that I am experiencing ‘unfettered happiness’ only when I am both free from fear and free from guilt, the two dominant emotions remaining after I had investigated, and greatly reduced, anger, sorrow, love and hope. I found that both fear and guilt are inextricably linked with the core of my identity, with being a ‘being’. At core ‘I’ am guilty being a ‘being’ and ‘I’ know it. ‘I’ am feeling guilty that ‘I’ am being here, and I am aware of it most of the time.
Richard’s latest conversation with No 37 threw some more light on the issue of the deep-seated feeling of guilt that remains even when the social-religious conscience consisting of the morals and ethics of society has been dismantled –
VINEETO: I always wondered what produces sincere intent to be happpy and harmless because it greatly puzzled me that some people seem to have more of it than others. I discovered that my own sincere intent to become free from the human condition consists of two main ingredients – one is the memory of a pure consciousness experience and the other is the awareness and acknowledgement of my inherent guilt for being a ‘being’ and the subsequent determination to do whatever is needed to become guilt-less – innocent.
Most people I met and talked to in my life were more interested in getting rid of fear which is, next to guilt, the other major side-effect of being a ‘being’. However, I found the pursuit of fearlessness an extremely ‘self’-ish and ‘self’-centred affair, given that feeling fearless only benefits and enhances one’s ‘self’ and is not concerned with bringing an end to human malice and sorrow.
In contrast, the pursuit of innocence – the determination to eliminate the root cause of guilt – is intrinsically altruistic in that I recognize that being a ‘being’ inevitably contributes to the misery and mayhem of human beings. And it is this altruistic, ‘self’-less, component of one’s intent that will ensure the success of becoming free from ‘self’.
So you see, your description of ‘unfettered happiness’ triggered an understanding as to why my spiritual pursuit of happiness through fearlessness was bound to lead only to dissociation and self-aggrandizement. However, when I stopped sticking my head in the sand, when I started to take a clear-eyed look at what’s going on in the world and finally dared to acknowledge and become aware of my guilt inherent to being a ‘being’ did I begin to fuel the sincere intent that is so essential for the process of becoming free from the human condition.
RESPONDENT: Do you consider guilt (‘major side-effect of being a ‘being’’) to be a significant component of your particular identity, or humans in general? Apparently, each of us has many layers, sharing some characteristics, but differing in others. The outer layers hold such emotions as anger, which would seem to be fairly easy to eliminate, if what I read on the AF site is true. The middle layers hold the more subtle emotions, which in your case would include guilt, and require more determined ferreting out. At the core are the instinctual based emotions – fear, aggression, nurture and desire, and presumably are only eliminated in an actual freedom. While the general categories would seem consistent for all beings, I suspect that our own particular onions would have somewhat differently flavoured layers.
VINEETO: The guilt I was talking about is guilt as Richard defined it in his post to No 37 that I had quoted –
This guilt ‘by virtue of ‘my’ very presence’ is not a ‘somewhat differently flavoured’ layer of my ‘own particular onion’ – this guilt of ‘being a being’ is intrinsic to every human being. The only way I became aware of this basic layer of guilt of being a ‘self’ was by repeated exposure to the perfection, purity and innocence as experienced in a ‘self’-less PCE. The more I experience purity and perfection, when this flesh and blood body is free from any identity whatsoever, the more I know, as soon as ‘I’ return, that ‘I’ am a fraud, an intruder, an alien entity, a fake – I undeniably know that ‘I’ am not the genuine article.
This ever-increasing awareness that all ‘I’ do is obstruct the purity and perfection of the actual universe from becoming apparent is what is speeding ‘my’ demise. To put it another way, acknowledging and being aware that ‘I’ am but a ‘fake’ undermines ‘my’ very foundation.
RESPONDENT: Though I understand your meaning, I could argue that this is a fairly abstract, or perhaps overly dramatic use of the word guilt (responsibility for a reprehensible act).
VINEETO: I don’t insist on using the word ‘guilt’ for my experience and understanding of the intrinsic birthmark of being a ‘being’ but I can’t find any other adequate word for the absence of innocence, which I so clearly experienced in my pure consciousness experiences. For me the awareness that ‘I’ as being can never be pure or innocent is neither abstract nor overly dramatic. For me it was the impetus nudge, constantly increasing over the years of practicing actualism, to do everything I need to do to become free from the blemish of the human condition.
If I can put it another way – if I find myself being angry about something, or at somebody, then it is clear that I am being angry. This anger is the very same feeling of anger that causes aggressive and violent behaviour – it is exactly the same kind of feeling, just different in degree. Thus if I am feeling angry, no matter how mild in degree, then I am hardly being pure or innocent. Another way of saying this is that if I am feeling angry, infuriated, peeved, disgruntled, resentful, annoyed or piqued about something, or at someone, then ‘I’ am guilty, as in neither pure nor innocent. Personally, I find nothing at all abstract about this – to me it is utterly down-to-earth and sensible.
VINEETO: Generally in society the term guilt is used to describe the socially instilled feeling of guilt – in religious circles this is known as having a ‘bad conscience’. For an actualist, this feeling of guilt inevitably arises when you begin to question the social principles of right and wrong and the spiritual values of good and bad. To dare to question the social principles and spiritual values is deemed ‘wrong’ and ‘bad’ by any social standards and, in fact, one transgresses what is considered taboo or off-limits in any society.
In the first years of practicing actualism I had outbreaks of guilt and fear whenever I was about to leave a chunk of my social identity behind – be it my spiritual identity, my identity as member of the ‘sisterhood’, my identity of being a Christian, a German, a family-member or whenever I questioned my sexual taboos. ‘Ferreting out’ these ‘middle layers’, as you call them, does indeed require great persistence, but it is both an enormous relief as well as an immense delight to be incrementally rid of the numbing straight-jackets of one’s social identity with its accompanying feelings of guilt and fears of ostracization.
What I found essential, whenever the feeling of guilt arose, was to inquire into the nature of the feeling. Had I come across a spiritual or social moral or ethic, had I broken the law of the land or was I feeling guilty for not living up to my own standards, i.e. was I being harmful to others, either intentionally or intentionally? The outcome of this investigation then determines if I need to change my action because I aspire to live up to my own standards, or can I dismiss the feeling of guilt because this guilt originates from the unliveable morals and ethics I no longer call my own.
RESPONDENT: This is the definition I was using in my question. I agree that feelings of guilt of this type are strong indicators of areas needing attention, as are shame, embarrassment, etc. I was simply organizing them (engineer brain again) into a layer that is more subtle than the strong stuff, like anger and love. My onion implied an even more subtle layer, wherein resides something akin to your first definition of guilt. Enough of the onions now, let’s make soup.
VINEETO: Yes, I agree, the feelings of guilt instilled as an integral part of one’s social identity are an ingredient of the outer layer to be peeled away and these guilty feelings can also slightly vary from person to person due to their particular social conditioning. Personally I can say that being born a ‘German’ unavoidably left me feeling guilty for the atrocities committed by other Germans before I was even born. This underlying feeling of guilt drove me to question both my national identity and my Christian belief and join the search for Eastern spiritualism in my twenties. But only after I left behind the feelings arising out of my national and my religious/spiritual identity did I discover the deeper layers of guilt ‘by virtue of ‘my’ very presence’ – and this will only disappear when ‘I’ cease to be.
In the beginning stage of putting actualism into practice I often felt guilty for daring to question the tightly knitted web of society’s morals and ethics – the rules of the game defining what I – and everyone else – must believe as being good and right, socially acceptable and personally desirable. How dare I make my own rules and standards – even if they are far superior, as in based on an assessment of silly and sensible, not right and wrong, and founded upon fact and commonsense, not belief and passion?
When I began to investigate why I felt this guilt, I found it to be a significant key to unlocking the psychological and psychic power and authority that others held over me. I found that my feelings of guilt were closely connected with the fear of punishment by an ultimate authority if I dared to question society’s revered morals and ethics. I became aware that I was afraid if I did not obey the rules that some invisible, non-physical, yet all-powerful force would punish me terribly – a fear that was over and above the fear of human ostracization and/or punishment. This rather atavistic fear was the fear of God – the ultimate moral and ethical authority. At the time I remember I was surprised to discover this deeper layer of fear as I had thrown out my belief in the Christian God a long time ago and my belief in Rajneesh’s Godliness some six months earlier.
To use your metaphor – the onion of my social identity became much thinner after I finally realized that an ultimate moral and ethical authority – a God by any name or form – only exists in the insidious passionate imagination of human hearts and minds and is nowhere to be found in an actual physical universe. In other words, being autonomous doesn’t come easy but it beats belonging and kow-towing hands down, any day of the week.
RESPONDENT: You ask me why I want others to be ‘sensitive’ to me? I ask you why should you or I be ‘sensitive’ to others? My answer to this is that it’s not that I’m requiring or demanding that others be ‘sensitive’ to my needs – rather that I do realize that generally people are well meaning and benevolent, so that I don’t see any reason why sharing information about how I am feeling should be seen as a ‘demand’ placed upon them. It’s merely information that they are free to do with whatever they want. Giving information about how I feel, or have felt in a purely informative way only allows them to understand me – which allows their natural benevolence to be better directed.
VINEETO: It is a myth that human beings have ‘natural benevolence’ – every human being is born with mother nature’s rather clumsy soft-ware package of the animal instinctual survival passions of fear, aggression, nurture and desire and this programming is responsible for the human condition that is epitomized by malice and sorrow. What looks like beneficial behaviour to you is the social conditioning in which humans are taught to emphasize and highly value their ‘good’ instinctual passions and repress and control their ‘savage’ passions. However, we still have to rely on lawyers and laws, courts and jails, police, armies and guns to ultimately enforce law and order – a pathetic substitute for an actual peace and harmony between human beings. Why would you feel the need to ‘better direct’ people’s supposed ‘natural benevolence’? Why do you feel a fear of being emotionally hurt by others if everyone has a ‘natural benevolence’? It’s a spiritual fairy-tale that priests and gurus want us to believe that human nature is essentially benevolent, that babies are born innocent and that they have only been misguided and corrupted by their upbringing. One only needs to take a closer look at 5,000 years of recorded history to see that this duplicitous belief is neither factual nor makes any sense.
RESPONDENT: I do not mean to imply that humans are ONLY ‘naturally benevolent.’ No doubt you are correct in your assertion that complete innocence is a fairy tale. Your comments are aimed at a target that I don’t intend to defend. I agree that we are endowed with the ‘instinctual passions’ of ‘fear, aggression, nurture and desire’. But, I also see altruism and benevolence – though normally mixed (if not eclipsed sometimes) by the instinctual passions you refer to. All I mean is that people are generally well meaning. Maybe it’s best not to combine the word ‘natural’ and ‘benevolence’. Probably ‘good-intentioned’ is a better rendering – or ‘well-meaning.’
VINEETO: It is certainly ‘best not to combine the word ‘natural’ and ‘benevolence’’ because it is the instinctual passions that are natural and consequently come to the surface with often horrendous results when the social rules fail to curb the excesses. Children before about age two are ‘natural’ and so are animals – children at this age don’t yet have a social conscience and, as such, are run entirely by their instinctual passions.
What you said, however, is that you wanted to appeal to and direct people’s ‘natural benevolence’ so that they’d be ‘sensitive’ towards you and won’t emotionally hurt you. But apart from the fact that ‘natural benevolence’ is a myth, an actualist aims to become unconditionally happy and harmless, i.e. happy and harmless with people as they are. In order to become unconditionally harmless, I had to stop trying to direct people to live up to ‘my’ preferences and sensitive spots and instead I investigated ‘my’ instinctive need to be in control and change people according to ‘my’ self-centred ideas and feelings. The result is that now I am not only harmless but also happy regardless of what people say to me, or about me, because I removed the cause of my feeling hurt – and the cause is not in others, but in me.
RESPONDENT: I also refuse to ‘take responsibility’ for how others respond to information about how I am feeling (should I feel a desire to talk about it) – that is entirely up to them. I can’t ‘hold the whole world’ in my hands – that’s too painful. But, since I really do care about other’s feelings, then I am very willing to listen to others feelings and talk about my own experiences (past and present) so that further light can be shed on ‘how we tick.’
VINEETO: As long as one is entrapped within the Human Condition and faithfully follows its rules and tenets, not much light ‘can be shed on how we tick’. Only when I become aware and step outside of the normal human way, which is the way of feelings and passions, am I able to investigate and report about how the lost, lonely, frightened and very cunning entity ‘ticks’ inside this flesh-and-blood body.
RESPONDENT: In my experience, only by becoming Happy first – can I also become Harmless. This is not to neglect Harmlessness, rather to notice that if I try to be to vigilant – ‘taking responsibility’ for how my emotions cause ripples in other people, then I become a ‘tiger in a cage’ – i.e., unhappy. Granted, both happiness are harmlessness depend on each other, but happiness seems to be the horse carrying the harmlessness cart – and not the other way around. I don’t have motivation to be harmless, if I’m not happy. At least – that’s my experience.
VINEETO: If by ‘becoming Happy first’ one could ‘also become Harmless’, the whole world would be happy and harmless by now. The pursuit of happiness is as old as humankind but it still has not produced anything remotely resembling harmlessness, let alone harmony. Actualism breaks with the instinctual compulsion of human beings to put their own happiness first and put harmlessness second – as a socially conditioned afterthought, so to speak. As long as I put my happiness above being harmless, my outlook towards others is inevitably ‘self’-centred, which means that I cannot consider others as equitable fellow human beings.
RESPONDENT: I do not mean to imply that happiness and harmlessness are exclusive of each other. I also am not asserting that one can become happy without being concerned with harmlessness. I recognize the two are dependents and intertwined together. I am just as concerned with harmlessness as happiness – my experience just tells me that if I become overly concerned with harmlessness and begin to castigate myself for it, then I don’t have a chance at being either happy or harmless.
VINEETO: The challenge in actualism is to resist the temptation to compromise your aim and your sincere intent when you are not perfect at the first attempt, but instead investigate the ‘little man in the head’ who is doing the castigating. Given that the inner critic is your social identity, ‘he’ is nothing other than the conglomerate of all the beliefs, morals, ethics, values, principles and psittacisms that ‘he’ has been programmed with since birth. Your social identity also determines how you automatically relate to other people and how you expect and demand other people to perceive you. In order to eliminate one’s social identity one needs to replace the moral and ethical arbitrary judgments of good and bad and right and wrong with an open-eyed evaluation and intelligent judgment based on what is sensible and what is silly. One also needs to replace the beliefs and psittacisms one has been instilled with in childhood, or has later chosen as one’s own, with observable and verifiable facts.
By choosing to become happy and harmless I set my goal far higher than the societal values of ‘right’ and ‘good’ and, as such, the nagging ‘little woman in the head’ eventually ran out of objections of me being happy and harmless. It is the intent to be harmless that is the crucial difference between a spiritualist and an actualist because everyone wants to be happy but very few are ready to commit themselves to the truly benevolent aim of becoming harmless.
RESPONDENT: Why Has The World, This Society Become What It Is Now?
And why have I become what I am now?
VINEETO: In my university days I have asked the first question ‘Why Has The World, This Society Become What It Is Now?’ and endeavoured enthusiastically to contribute to change the world and society. It soon became obvious that this line of pursuit was bound to fail. All in all there are 6 billion people in the world and everyone has a different understanding how society should be and how it should be changed, and consensus is totally impossible with people as they are.
Then I tried the other approach – ‘And why have I become what I am now?’
I did plenty of groups in New Age therapy and followed the teachings of an Eastern guru for years and years. At the core of Eastern religious view of the world is the concept that all humans are born innocent and have only been conditioned with ‘evil thoughts’ since birth. It is further believed that it is possible for a chosen few to ‘regain’ this mythical natural innocence, in this lifetime on earth – hence the search to find one’s ‘original face’.
However, neither therapy nor spiritual practice provided satisfactory solutions to my question and didn’t give me a practical insight as to how to proceed in becoming happy and harmless. After years on the spiritual path it was perfectly obvious that I was incapable of living with one other person in peace and harmony, let alone with a group of seekers who supposedly shared the same loves and goals.
In my search for understanding the cause of sorrow and malice in me and in others, I have learnt and experienced by extensive self-exploration that human beings are genetically-encoded with instinctual passions and are therefore not born innocent. Our basic instinctual start-up software program is further overlayed by a set of moral and ethical conditioning and beliefs instilled in order to keep the lid on our instinctual animal passions.
Despite my best efforts, spiritual morals, ethics and practices, these instinctual drives of fear, aggression, nurture and desire where ever present as feelings which spoiled my moment to moment happiness and I experienced regular bleed-throughs of strong emotions such as anger, frustration, sadness, fear and hopelessness.
By taking the latest scientific findings about instinctual passions in human beings into consideration I could finally make sense of the Human Condition in me and others and had an effective tool to proceed becoming happy and harmless.
Vineeto’s & Richard’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.