Selected Correspondence Vineeto
VINEETO: My ‘soul’, this passionate imaginary ‘me’, needs continuous emotional affirmation from others or needs to feel connected to others in order to stay alive – for ‘I’ am non-actual, ‘I’ do not exist other than by feeling and imagination.
GARY: One of the things that I have been questioning is the notion of the importance throughout life of what is referred to as ‘attachment’. Again, it is psychological terminology, to be sure. But it is more or less assumed that attachment to others, first one’s mother or caretakers in the beginning of life, and then later other adults and one’s peers, is important throughout life and that healthy attachments are the hallmark of mental health. One can get attached to so many things as a substitute gratification – one can get attached to one’s job, a religion, a hero, substances, sex, etc, etc. What drives this attachment or ‘need to feel connected to others in order to stay alive’? We are dealing with something fundamental and basic to the experience of being a human being living in this world with other human beings. We are dealing here with the primitive instincts, are we not? The experience of attachment is ubiquitous, but perhaps it needs to be carefully defined. When I use the term I mean this sense of being connected to another. It involves dependency, looking to another to meet certain emotional needs, for affirmation, for praise and reward, for companionship, etc. Attachment may involve the deep experience of romantic ‘love’ but not necessarily. I think it is more or less assumed that when one is emotionally ‘healthy’ one’s attachments to others are carefully modulated and controlled, but nevertheless one is attached so it is only ‘natural’ that one experiences grief and sadness if one’s partner is sick or depressed or, in the extreme, dies. Hardly anyone would question the validity of these ‘normal’ feelings and reactions to extreme events but I do. I have found that, in addition to questioning the feel-good experience of ‘love’ and affection, I have been looking into this sense of being attached, connected to someone else. And there is a sense of identification: that this is ‘my’ partner, or ‘my’ girlfriend or boyfriend, or that I share ‘my’ life with someone.
VINEETO: Personally, the word attachment came to my attention through the spiritual teachings where I learned I should not be attached. Attachment as such was a bad thing, the concept was to become unattached to one’s body, one’s emotions, one’s relationships, one’s desires, one’s actions, until only the completely unattached higher self, the real ‘ME’ would remain.
In actualism, I deliberately went in the other direction – a full commitment to being ‘attached’ and then exploring the ramifications of it. I found that I am not merely attached to my emotions but ‘I’ am my emotions, I am not merely attached to objects of my desire but ‘I’ am my desire. Wanting to get rid of my attachments I had to get rid of ‘me’. And in the course of discovering what ‘me’ consists of I found ‘me’ in each and every state of love and hate, in every attachment and repulsion, in every dependency and need for independence, in each fear and every instance of pride. That’s what makes investigating one’s attachments really thrilling.
I found it was vitally important to fully commit myself to my relationship – 110% – in order to overcome my spiritual conditioning of being non-attached or aloof so I could then explore all of the emotions I had been avoiding experiencing. To commit oneself totally to something is utterly delicious and is the only way to get at the roots of whatever I have been avoiding by being half-hearted, aloof or detached.
Not only was it great adventure and liberation to root out my dependencies with Peter, for instance, but the reward came almost instantly, making way for a sparkling intimacy, obvious parity and uninterrupted harmony. Love and affection pale into insignificance compared to the delight of enjoying the direct intimate company of another actual human being each moment again.
GARY: Recently my partner came down with an inexplicable and rather puzzling disturbance of her hearing and balance and is now going for tests and diagnosis. There is the unpleasant possibility that it may involve a tumour or some sort or other. I found that this development rather threw me for a loop, I began to feel vaguely anxious, rehearsing the possibility that I might lose her or that she would become progressively more and more impaired, etc. All this made me investigate into my attachment to my mate and just what is involved emotionally for me. It made me think of other losses in my life, it kind of dredged some other things up. People get sick, they have ill health, they grow old and die – all these things we have experienced or are going to experience. There should be no dread of these things happening, as happen they surely will one way or another.
Neither should there be a kind of grim resignation and acceptance of life’s bumps and grinds. It gets, I think, to the crux of the matter: one need not be attached to others. One need not suffer pain of any kind due to another’s infirmities. One need not be depressed and sad because one’s partner is depressed and sad. One can be free from all these emotional reactions. But then, that is not ‘normal’, is it?
VINEETO: No, Gary, that’s not ‘normal’ at all. That’s far, far better than ‘normal’. And yet becoming free of one’s emotions is considered callous, unfeeling, dead, zombie-like, uncaring and – in its extreme – insane.
People sometimes get resentful when I don’t support their sadness by sympathizing or when I am not affectionately expressing my love and friendship. And yet I noticed that, as a fact, I care more about them than their so-called friends who I have seen expressing great sympathy and love for them and then putting them down in the next sentence or exploiting them at the next opportunity.
I paid great attention whenever I suffered with another’s sadness or fear or was shaken by their anger or desire. This exploration has inevitably led me to be aware of my own sadness, loneliness, fear and anger that I had conveniently delegated into feeling compassion or sympathy for the other, or repulsion or fear of the other. The more I dug into my own psychic world of affections, emotions and then instinctual passions, the more I understood everyone’s psychic world and in understanding it I could examine my investment in being part of this world – and then step out of it. Actualism is the ultimate escapism in that you leave all of suffering and malicious humanity behind – which is ‘you’ – and come here into the actual world to play.
But, as you say ‘that’s not normal’ at all – that’s unbelievable, unimaginable and utterly delightful.
VINEETO: You wrote to Peter about relationships –
GARY: So, let me pose the question: What is a ‘relationship’ between two human beings? Are relationships important? Why? Do you and Vineeto have a ‘relationship’ together? Wherein does it consist?
I hear many people around me talk about the importance, indeed, the primacy of having relationships in one’s life. The longer I practice actualism, the less and less important ‘relationships’ seem to be to me. This sometimes causes the reflection that I am indeed an outcast and I sometimes experience anxiety to realize that I am no longer part of any particular group, nor do I want to be. However, the anxiety is only occasional, and at other times there is this enormous sense of freedom and ease, a freedom that can only come when one is free from the obligations of being a member of a particular group, a family, a profession, a community, etc, etc. There is a tremendous comfort for me in just being alone, just sitting in my chair, for instance, doing nothing in particular.
But again, this statement of mine – about being ‘alone’ communicates the essence of the matter – for there is still this sense of being communicated in these terms. Richard has stated that in an Actual Freedom, even this feeling of being alone, this sense of isolation disappears. <snip>
On the subject of my ‘relationship’ with my partner, the matter gets a bit stickier. Since my need to affiliate with other human beings in groups has greatly lessened, to the point of almost being totally absent, I have wondered at times if I transferred these feelings on to my partner and whether I am clinging to her to get these self-same needs met. I do enjoy our being together, and I look forward to our weekends and holidays together, even our simple presence together in the evening when the day is done is very enjoyable. To be honest: I do find myself clinging to her at times with feelings of ‘love’ and affection. Yet I can say that for every moment in which there is this feeling of love and affection, there are counterpoised moments when the invidious passions are in evidence: resentment, peevishness, annoyance. In short, malice. It increases my feeling that you cannot have the positive, loving emotions without having the whole instinctual package. At least, that’s the way I think of it at this point. In other words, the entire package needs to be deleted.
So, I guess where this leaves me is to say that I think the closest thing I have to a ‘normal relationship’ is my relationship with my partner. It is here that the instinctual passions of nurture and desire occur most clearly and cleanly, compared to my other everyday ‘relationships’. To sum this all up: it seems to me that a ‘relationship’ is about sharing joy and sorrow, sharing the complete pathos and movement of human emotion and human feeling. If one is freeing oneself from the Human Condition, does one need or desire relationships then? In an actual intimacy, is there any ‘relationship’ with the other that one is relating to? Is there any ‘connection’ at all, or is this entirely absent? These are just a couple of the questions that occur.
VINEETO: You say that you ‘think the closest thing I have to a ‘normal relationship’ is my relationship with my partner’ and this coincides with my own experience. When I still had an affective relationship with Peter, I could observe, identify and whittle away all the subtle emotions and feelings that never the less occurred long after we both had recognized that love was not the answer to a peaceful living together. The cozy-good feelings of ‘being connected’, the feeling of belonging, feeling safe and protected from the alien world and not being alone were to persist much longer than the easy to recognize failure of the dream of romantic love. Also I discovered I could quite easily and quickly recognize and nip in the bud the negative emotions of relating such as anger and complaints when they occurred but it took a keen and persistent awareness not to repeat falling into the trap of the sweet rose-coloured moods of connectedness.
As a fact, I have been on my own all my life, however, the marked difference used to be that sometimes I felt lonely, insecure or even abandoned by my parents, friends or partners and sometimes, but more rarely, I felt excited, adventurous and thrilled by the feeling of freedom of not being bound by any relationship. These days I would rather say that ‘I am being on my own’ because I am no longer suffering the feelings and emotions that the word ‘alone’ usually conveys.
In terms of living together with Peter, I am on my own in that I take care of myself – my job, my finances, my clothes and my health – and I spend my time doing what I like to do. Then I have the added bonus of doing things with Peter together that we both enjoy, i.e. cooking food, playing in the garden, going for a walk, having a chat, watching TV and enjoying delicious sumptuous sex. I can simply be me, what I am, without feelings or vibes, hopes or fears and without any image or a social identity to be maintained. In my understanding that does not really fit into the category of having a relationship because a relationship is usually based on emotional components such as expectation, obligation, hope, love, worry, duty, loyalty, fear of loss, resentment or feeling responsible for the other’s feelings.
In other words, in a relationship one social and instinctual identity attempts to relate to the other’s social and instinctual identity and both parties are mutually dependent on the other for maintaining their identity, negotiating their individuality and battling their loneliness because a human being only has an identity in relation to other people. A personality is only better than or lesser than, more needy or less needy, stronger or weaker in relation to – i.e. relative to – other personalities. You are hundred percent spot on when you say that ‘the entire package’, both the good and the bad emotions in a relationship, ‘needs to be deleted’.
Last week I met a friend whom I had not seen for seven years and this meeting gave me an opportunity to observe in what way my relating to people has changed since I took up actualism. It was a very enjoyable meeting and a pleasant surprise, contrary to some meetings with other former friends, as we were able to find lots of things in common to talk about despite the fact that I have abandoned my spiritual beliefs and loyalties. It was all made easier by her own discontentment with the outcome of her own spiritual search and her interest in what solutions I have found.
What had changed for me since I had seen her last was that I experienced none of the emotional aspirations that are usually inevitable ingredients to a friendship. In fact, I was aware that I easily responded each moment to what was happening – be it her curiosity or bewilderment, a silent appreciation of our surroundings, a chat about food or living in Australia, her future plans or who she met yesterday. I told her as much about how I live now as she asked to know but felt no need to demand her attention or interest. I was simply me, I did not have an image, beliefs or precious feelings to promote or to defend and I did not feel any emotional bonds, fears and obligations interfering with meeting a fellow human being.
VINEETO: Living in peace and harmony with a person of the other sex has been a life-long dream and when I was presented not only with the opportunity of a sincere commitment but also with the tools to make it work, this dream finally came true. I had watched people living together from an early age and already in my twenties I concluded from observation and experience that playing the traditional role as a wife and/or as a mother would not give me the satisfying relationship I was looking for. In my university days I then discovered that feminism as well as conventional therapy also failed to provide suitable answers to the ending of the battle of the sexes and I then turned to the dream of spiritual love. It took a bit longer to sort that one out. During my spiritual years a relationship with a man became secondary and my love for the Guru became primary until inevitably – and fortunately for me – the Guru died and the uselessness of such an ethereal relationship became glaringly obvious.
GARY: Interesting that you should have mentioned feminism. Feminist theory was all the rage when I attended graduate Social Work school, and I would be interested in your own discoveries of why it ‘failed to provide suitable answers to the ending of the battle of the sexes’. I know that there are various brands of feminism, but I am talking in an overarching way about the feminist movement.
VINEETO: The practical benefits I got from the feminism movement were that I learned to confidently take care of myself and to be as equally capable and intelligent as men. Feminism has opened the door to the world for women who were previously confined to the socially-defined roles of ‘cooking, children and church’, as the slogan went. The break up of the traditional confining roles has certainly improved many women’s lives in many ways, particularly in combination with the invention of the pill.
My first disappointment with the ideals of feminism happened in my student years when I discovered that women were as bitchy and conniving with each other as men were with women and as men were with each other. When I watched how women related to each other in the feminist movement, I could see that the notion of women ruling the world would not solve the problem of aggression, revenge, back-stabbing and lust for power. Also the idea of excluding half of the population from one’s life in order to avoid relationship problems didn’t appeal to me.
When I became a disciple of Rajneesh, feminism was in full swing and Rajneesh’s slogan was ‘to be spiritual is to become feminine’. In his commune in Oregon, he put women in charge and men in subordinate positions. The outcome of this experiment in female overt power is well documented. The top female leaders succumbed to the lust for power and many even indulged in criminal activities – they bugged many buildings, set up an election fraud, poisoned a whole town with salmonella, attempted to poison some disciples who were becoming suspicious and in the end packed up and left with a few million dollars of commune funds. When this was revealed, the shock was enormous, not only because they were spiritual, i.e. supposedly good, people but also because they were women. It proved to me beyond doubt that giving ‘the power to the women’ won’t solve any problems.
Although feminism has succeeded in questioning the sensibility of a patriarchal society, it only wants to replace it with a matriarchal system. Feminism’s main focus is on changing the power balance between the genders – it doesn’t question the conflicting social and instinctual identities that are the cause of the battle between the sexes. Men and women are still as much defined by their gender as they were before feminism and the latest fashionable catchphrase that ‘men are from Mars and women are from Venus’ depicts the deep divide that basically entrenches the other gender as alien. Men are considered aggressive Martians while women are considered loving Venusians and nowadays it has become politically correct for women to tear down men whereas men making fun of women is considered offensive. In my student days and in my spiritual era I’ve experienced women’s aggression towards men when I attended women’s groups where women complained, bitched and plotted against their men, boyfriends or bosses and discussed the various strategies needed to ‘win the battle’. Any relationship with a man was seen as a constant battle to ‘make him do what I want’.
Feminism is certainly not the recipe for living in peace and harmony with the other gender.
GARY: Living in peace and harmony with my partner is indeed a tall order, and it is here, in the microcosm of one’s intimate relationship, where one finds the proving ground for being ‘happy and harmless’. It is a terrific dare to live happily and harmlessly with another. It takes all the pure intent I’ve got and more to stick with the work, and it is very hard work too. Right now I must say that it seems like an uphill slog, as my instincts seem to have come to the fore again.
VINEETO: It is also enormous fun to live happily and harmlessly with another. But I agree that it does not come easy. To live with Peter in peace and harmony didn’t happen overnight. I had to abandon all my deep seated beliefs about gender – I became a traitor to the women’s camp, I stopped being a woman as society sees it, I questioned my romantic dreams and my archaic suspicions about men, I looked at the instinctual role-play of man as the procreator, provider and protector and woman as the child-bearer, home-maker and nurturer and I examined all my sexual taboos, fears, expectations and instinctive feelings. In hindsight, as I look back on the list of issues, it has been quite a bit of hard work.
VINEETO: The longer I observe how I am in relation to other people, the more I find that whenever another person evokes an affective reaction in me then there is some kind of invisible thread or emotional hook also present on my side. I remember a visit from a close relative and how at first I felt guilty for not returning the love, affection and excitement that was offered to me. It was as if a web of invisible, yet sticky vibes was cast out to catch me into feeling loyal to and connected with her. These bonding strings might well be presented as a generous offer of love or friendship, yet – often unbeknownst to the person himself or herself – this offer always contains a request for returned feelings, a demand for support and an obligation for further loyalty. In other words, love is never unconditional, it is always given with conditions and it is only received subject to conditions.
GARY: This is an important observation you are making, as you are pointing not only to the feeling on your side but also the reciprocal ‘hook’ evoked by another person in you. I have seldom thought of it that way, but of course a relationship is a complex emotional attachment between two or more people, with feelings reciprocated among and between the participants to the relationship. Perhaps the crucial thing is not the specific feeling involved but the fact that an emotional connection of some kind has been made. It may be a feeling of ‘friendship’ or it may be a feeling of passionate ‘love’ but nevertheless an ‘affective reaction’ (as you described it) has taken place and an emotional relationship of sorts, perhaps even rudimentary, has been formed. It has also struck me how little this ‘relationship’ has to do with the facts of a situation and how much it has to do with fantasies and imaginings of various sorts. This is particularly clear in marital unions, which are often formed for the most neurotic of reasons. But even in everyday forming of friendships, you might say, between people, there is a strong dose of imagination involved in one’s making of a friend, because I am often forming an image of the person I am in friendship with and am not relating to the actual flesh-and-blood person.
I also realized, somewhat after I responded to No 38’s post to me on the same topic, what an enormous step it is to question and investigate these relationships, and in particular the type of ‘love’ relationship that he was talking to me about. For me to tell him, and this list, that the word ‘love’ is not something I tell my partner is tantamount to proclaiming myself to be loveless, something regarded perhaps as a fate worse than death. However, it is impossible for me to imagine being unmoved to some degree by the syrupy feelings of warm affection, nurture, and what is commonly called ‘love’, in the same way that it is impossible for me to imagine what it would be like to live the rest of my life never ever getting angry or annoyed again.
VINEETO: Nowadays I hardly notice ‘me’ as an affective identity interfering whenever I relate to people in day-to-day affairs. When I go out to work or chat with the neighbours I am pleasantly anonymous, nobody really knows what I think or feel about life and the universe, and I am simply what I am and what I do – a fellow human being chatting about the garden, a bookkeeper, a customer standing in the queue in the post office or being served at a coffee shop.
It therefore came as somewhat of a surprise when I recently found an emotional ‘hook’ in my living together with Peter. I was contemplating about what exactly is standing in the way of ‘self’-immolation and found a bit of an affective identity in action – the ‘me’ who cherished the cozy corner I had in living together peacefully and delightfully. ‘I’ as an identity feel noticed and understood with Peter, he knows the happy ‘me’, the quizzing ‘me’, the puzzled ‘me’, the impatient ‘me’, he knows about ‘my’ aims and fears, ‘my’ quirks and wonderings. And this cozy relationship will certainly cease to be when I become free because then ‘I’ who is doing the relating will cease to be.
I explored this particular ‘hook’ on which my identity hung at first tentatively, then more boldly, knowing well that at any time I could discover the core of it and be lost. As part of this investigation I chatted to Peter about my explorations and a few days later to Richard, just to make sure that I would not succumb to the temptation of ‘forgetting’ a topic so close to the bone.
My persistent inquiry triggered a pure consciousness experience and with astounding clarity I experienced myself as completely separate from Peter, two flesh-and-blood human beings not at all affectively or psychically connected in any way. It was utterly amazing and magical that two complete strangers – as in not psychically connected – get to interact with each other in utter intimacy. In such intimacy there is no ‘me’ trying to pull the strings, no ‘me’ thinking or feeling about ‘me’ in relationship to the other, and a fresh, unmediated and direct experiencing happens on its own accord.
This PCE confirmed that my holding onto a cozy relationship was nevertheless my identity in action. Although my relationship with Peter is founded on felicitous feelings only and I live with him in perfect peace and harmony, I clearly could see that ‘I’ as an identity was preventing something far, far superior to any psychic or psychological connection – an exquisitely delightful direct intimacy with a fellow human being. A couple of days later, when I checked what was left of ‘my’ relationship to Peter, I realized that not only had I lost any sense of my former affective connectedness but also my feelings of competition and comparison had disappeared. I had always regarded Peter as the better and older actualist and the better and more accurate writer and now I found such emotionally-charged comparisons had completely vanished. I also discovered that this entailed that I no longer feel obliged to respectfully wait until he becomes free before I dare the final jump. Now that I don’t relegate myself to a slot in an imaginary queue, nobody can prevent me from becoming free from the human condition.
VINEETO: It therefore came as somewhat of a surprise when I recently found an emotional ‘hook’ in my living together with Peter. I was contemplating about what exactly is standing in the way of ‘self’-immolation and found a bit of an affective identity in action – the ‘me’ who cherished the cozy corner I had in living together peacefully and delightfully. ‘I’ as an identity feel noticed and understood with Peter, he knows the happy ‘me’, the quizzing ‘me’, the puzzled ‘me’, the impatient ‘me’, he knows about ‘my’ aims and fears, ‘my’ quirks and wonderings. And this cozy relationship will certainly cease to be when I become free because then ‘I’ who is doing the relating will cease to be.
GARY: I had discovered much the same thing a few months ago. I was acutely aware of ‘my’ need to create a cozy nest and cling to my relationship with my partner. My attention seemed to be particularly attracted to the aging process in both she and myself. And I found myself forming a sharp demarcation between being ‘in’ the relationship, and at home, and being ‘out’ there in the ‘Real World’. Connected to this, I discovered morbid fears of growing old and dying, along with anxieties of losing this cozy relationship I was clinging to. I don’t know what triggered all this but it may have been happening around the time that there was so much talk of war with Iraq in the air. I realized that human beings usually all create this comfortable and peaceful corner of reality in their homes as a means of warding off or keeping out the harshness and cruelty of the outside world. This seems to be an instinctive pattern of behaviour, harkening back to the time when our ancestors hunkered in deep caves for protection against predators and other perils of the night.
VINEETO: From my own explorations I know that a relationship with a partner has many layers that are worth examining. One of the first issues to be sorted out for me was my female identity – my belonging to the women’s camp as opposed to the men’s club. Part of this female identity was the continuous battle as to who is right and who is wrong – men or women. What I discovered was an unbridgeable gulf between the masculine and feminine version of interpreting the world and that the only way to ensure peace and harmony was to eliminate the gulf, whereas common wisdom has it that the gulf is a given and that one should bridge the gulf with the feeling of love or move closer to the other camp by becoming more feminine or more masculine. Needless to say eliminating the gulf meant eliminating my precious identity as a woman and all that entailed.
Once I had sorted out this aspect of my identity, the next obstacle to actualizing peace were my spiritual beliefs and my feelings of loyalty towards the guru and his followers. It soon became obvious to me that as long as I was busy defending my spiritual beliefs, I was again involved in yet another battle as to whose beliefs are right and whose beliefs are wrong. Only by questioning my own beliefs could I begin to find out the facts and thus establish a fact-based common ground for communication. In the same vein, I had to investigate my faith in my much-valued female intuition, for to continue to rely on it prevented me from distinguishing between the fact of the matter and my feelings about the matter.
Another issue that quickly emerged was my sexual social conditioning and its instinctual counterpart – the deeply entrenched instinctual patterns that have to do solely with the survival of the human species, the dissemination of the genes of the most successful fighters in the battle for survival. As I became more familiar with the process of investigating my beliefs and feelings, I noticed that each issue was successfully resolved only when I was able to trace my feelings and emotions back to their instinctual core – the primeval survival program that gives rise to all feelings, emotions, moods and vibes in the human animal. This instinctual programming was forged ‘when our ancestors hunkered in deep caves for protection’, but the roots of this programming stretch way back to when the first faunal creatures began to populate the earth. It is therefore essential to dig deep in one’s investigations into one’s own psyche in order to feel, experience and understand the instinctual core of one’s feelings and emotions in order to become free of their insidious grip.
VINEETO: From my own explorations I know that a relationship with a partner has many layers that are worth examining.
GARY: Yes. That is certainly so. A ‘relationship’ involves need, dependency, closeness, nurture, aggression, so on and so forth. Perhaps like yourself, I have been investigating emotional closeness. This involves dependency and the need, indeed, the drive to nurture and be nurtured. An emotionally close relationship is a prolonged type of infancy and childhood in which one seeks the closeness of ‘someone who understands’.
VINEETO: If you mean ‘someone who understands’ me emotionally, I fully agree with you as my former relationships and friendships have certainly been formed on that basis. Nowadays, I am the only person who needs to understand me emotionally, seeking understanding not for the purpose of commiseration or confirmation but in order to get to the bottom of ‘me’.
However, it is nevertheless very refreshing and delightful to talk to ‘someone who understands’ common sense and with whom I can share the sense that I made of the world of people, things and events.
GARY: Contained in this emotionally close relationship, which is considered the hallmark of adult maturity and independence, is contained the contrary states of it’s absence: abject loneliness, despair, clinging, cloying dependency, fear, and other such negative states. All of humanity’s most lofty ideals and dreams are enacted in one’s primary relationship, whereas as this flesh-and-blood body, apperceptively aware, I am incapable of emotional closeness of any kind.
VINEETO: Yes, given that the ‘self’, the alien entity inside this flesh-and-blood body, is the very source and reason for feeling lost, lonely and frightened, the natural reaction is to seek emotional closeness, love and nurture. When I investigated my need for emotional closeness I inevitably uncovered my lost, lonely and frightened ‘self’ and have proceeded to whittle away at it ever since.
RESPONDENT: When in a relationship with a non actualist, what are you supposed to do when they are angry at you? Restore the perceived imbalance, say sorry, accept punishment, say it won’t happen again, and that you got nothing from it, or whatever the ‘best’ strategy is? Or Say you just did what needed to be done? Or If you did something ‘wrong’, say why you did it, end of story?
VINEETO: When I interact with a non-actualist, which is pretty much everyone, and they get angry at me, the first thing I do is stop adding fuel to the fire. Very often this is as simple as making it clear to the other person that I have no intention of upsetting them. I find this works on most occasions but sometimes the only solution is to bow out of the situation as gracefully as possible. Of course actualism is not about adopting a new set of social mores so how you handle each of the interactions you have with other people will be dependant upon your own success in eliminating the impediments you have to being as happy and harmless as possible. The more successful you are in this endeavour the more you will find that you are spontaneously happy and effortlessly harmless, in which case you will inevitably find that more and more of your interactions with other people will be harmonious.
Once the adversarial situation is ended and I am on my own I then explore whether there was anything in my behaviour that was in any way harmful or sorrowful, in other words, did I have expectations of the other person or did I feel disappointed by their behaviour, was I demanding or angry, smug or sad, arrogant or blaming, hypocritical or critical, and so on. If the other person’s behaviour evoked an emotional response in me then I explore the reasons why so as to be able to prevent having such a reaction the next time round.
The fact that one might live with someone in an intimate relationship does not change this basic intent to be harmless, in fact it requires even more attentiveness so as to be able to recognize the other as a person in their own right with their own aspirations and ideals, feelings and thoughts, behaviour and idiosyncrasies in order that one doesn’t fall into the habitual trap of wanting to change them.
My intent in every interaction is that I am, as much I can possibly be, without malice or sorrow and without expectation or hidden agendas whilst still being an identity. Whenever I find a malicious or sorrowful feeling in me, then I’ve got something to look at. Whether or not other people have malicious or sorrowful feelings is simply their business.
RESPONDENT: Vineeto/Peter, How do you live with a single partner without experiencing loyalty?
VINEETO: When I met Peter he said he was seeking a companionship with a woman in which he would look at everything that was in the road of intimacy and of being able to live together in utter peace and harmony. I found the offer intriguing in that I knew it would challenge me to do likewise.
Within a few months of agreeing to the proposition, we noticed that we had fallen in love and, as it became clear that the resultant tumultuous feelings were anything but peaceful and not conducive to harmony, each of us investigated our feelings of love. One thing that soon became very clear was that love inevitably entailed the insistence upon loyalty that arose out of one’s own feeling of bondage along with its opposite – fear of betrayal that arose out of the fear of feeling the heart-wrenching grief of loss.
RESPONDENT: Speaking from my on-going personal experience with my current partner, she is very much interested in love to the point of asking me if I love her on a weekly basis. And I say that I do, although I kindly explain to her that love is only a step and at a later stage even a hindrance :) towards happiness and intimacy and not the final goal. She is not willing to investigate her feelings and I’m constantly subjected to a bombardment in order to provide love proofs and declarations.
VINEETO: I am reminded of a remark made by an old friend of mine after he read Peter’s Journal and ‘A Bit of Vineeto’. He said, ‘it would be good if my girlfriend would read the book, she could learn a lot from it’. Needless to say that he didn’t consider that the only person he really needed to change, and actually could change, was himself. He has since moved on through several other girlfriends, apparently unwilling to commit to any one.
RESPONDENT: One step aside and I make her unhappy, I’m not what she wants, etc. So I’m constantly required to subserve myself to her ideals, ethics and desires about how a relationship should be just to avoid conflict and a possible break-up. But this makes me quite unhappy, not being able to be as I am and to follow my own interests. The other side is that without love, a relationship is a ‘heart-felt desert’ to her... ruled by feelings of indifference, coldness and callousness instead of warmth, closeness, trust, togetherness, common aims, etc., everything that draws us closer to each other, but which also separates ourselves from others. It is also very important for her to have a future together, like marriage, in order to provide a meaning to the relationship, otherwise it’s felt as a waste of time, no matter how pleasant it is.
VINEETO: When you read Peter’s chapter on Living Together you will notice that the magical key that made it possible for us to live together in peace and harmony was commitment. Peter was willing to commit himself to do whatever necessary to remove the obstacle to living in peace with a companion. This is how he described a seminal insight at the time –
VINEETO: One thing that soon became very clear was that love inevitably entailed the insistence upon loyalty that arose out of one’s own feeling of bondage along with its opposite – fear of betrayal that arose out of the fear of feeling the heart-wrenching grief of loss.
RESPONDENT: Bondage, love, loyalty and the fear of betrayal is connected to the fear of loneliness and the accompanying sorrow. This is in my view the deeper layer under the grief of loss. Loyalty and trust are special in-demand feelings, as they provide security and make someone feel special and hopeful in a future happiness and promise an escape from loneliness. In short, happiness goes hand in hand with bonding in the real-world.
VINEETO: Yes, ‘in the real-world’ love and loneliness are but the opposite sides of the same coin. Loneliness and the accompanying sorrow exist because ‘I’ as an identity feel deep down that I am separate, forever cut off from the actual world – ‘I’ can never experience actual intimacy, neither with people nor with the world as it is. Actual intimacy only happens when ‘I’ am in abeyance, temporarily or permanently.
This is how I described my first experience of an actual intimacy –
Experiencing an actual intimacy is not dependant on the other person – it happens when ‘I’ step aside. The intent to enable such an intimacy spurred me on to question and investigate ‘my’ beliefs, ‘my’ desires, ‘my’ selfishness, ‘my’ demands, ‘my’ pride, ‘my’ notions about freedom. The ensuing diminishing of ‘my’ ‘self’-centred view then enabled me to more and more perceive other people as fellow human beings, and I was less and less compelled, as my instinctual passions had programmed me to do, to perceive and treat them as bit-players in ‘my’ world whereby I am only happy when they comply and unhappy when they don’t.
RESPONDENT: To be alone and happy is inconceivable.
VINEETO: I was quite happy to be alone many times in my life and I certainly had many, many days when I was unhappy when I was not alone as in being in a relationship. One thing that became obvious to me erly on in my investigations into the human condition was that it was essential that I be happy alone – or that I alone needed to be happy – if I at all wanted to be happy whilst living with a companion. Or to put it another way, if I was not happy with my own company, how could I expect another to be happy with my company?
RESPONDENT: I also think sorrow goes deeper then fear and the personal survival instinct. Evidence might be that some people choose love over money, when presented with that choice. It also reflects my experience with relationships break-up, the feelings of sorrow are predominant and those of fear tend to be non-existent. Have any idea why this is so?
VINEETO: I have experienced the fear of betrayal and the fear of loss whilst in a relationship whereas the grief of loss was predominant at the ending of the relationship. However, a little digging reveals that fear is the predominant instinctual passion – that all feelings of malice and sorrow have their roots in fear.
RESPONDENT: The good part of the relationship is sex and simply enjoying our living together but I find it increasingly difficult to pay for and accept the whole ‘relationship’ package.
VINEETO: When exposed to the bright light of awareness it becomes obvious that to continue to feed such feelings is clearly nonsensical – it is inimical not only to one’s own happiness but it also makes impossible for one to not harbour antagonistic feelings towards one’s companion.
RESPONDENT: Exactly what I’m feeling when facing the pressure of love, loyalty, trust, belonging and bondage. I have no desire to bond with someone, although I very much enjoy their company. I have also noticed that to be somebody’s friend usually means to be someone else’s enemy. I tend to play the ‘bad guy’ role when in the company of a ‘good’ person’ like my partner is: compassionate, loving, nurturing, etc. She worked as a nurse and there is a mixture of actually caring for me, nurture and loving. I tend to focus and encourage the caring component although sometimes is difficult to distinguish between caring and nurturing. As a rule of thumb, to nurture means to feel that one cares and actually be surprised when the other reacts unexpectedly... which sometimes I do.
VINEETO: The third alternative to the ‘good’ person – ‘bad’ guy role-play is to aim for actual intimacy. To be with a companion and to withdraw one’s feelings of love without replacing them with something better is but to invite resentment and frustration from one’s companion.
RESPONDENT: Is that a preference or socially conditioned behaviour?
VINEETO: To me, it goes without question that someone who is willing to commit to living with me in peace and harmony – and do the work needed to be able of doing so – is the very best partner to be with … it doesn’t come any better than that. I have experimented with a lot with different types of relationships in my life – love affairs, marriage, triangles, commune living, a long-term so-called open relationship with affairs on the side, being single and having one night stands and periods of celibacy – but I have never ever been able to find the ongoing joy and delight that comes with the intimacy of living with one other person of the opposite gender in utter peace and harmony.
RESPONDENT: I guess it’s like trying the different available solutions, one by one or all at the time compared to practicing actualism or living in a certain location that you’re very fond of. Living the best leaves no room for the rest.
VINEETO: What I was trying to convey was that I knew by experience that the various normal solutions for relationships, as well as the spiritual solutions – being celibate or detached from your feelings – were an abysmal failure and because I had previously experienced these failures I was prepared to do something radically new.
RESPONDENT: I prefer having sex with different partners. At this stage I don’t know if it is simply a preference or my instinctual passions in action.
VINEETO: Oh, you may well find out should some of the ‘different partners’ accidentally come to know about each other.
RESPONDENT: Ha... at this stage monogamy is more like a matter of sexual salubrity to me then a value. And if the different partners were to meet each other it is their feelings they would have to face.
VINEETO: In what way is monogamy a matter of sexual salubrity to you? I understood you preferred having sex with different partners – are you saying that you prefer something which is insalubrious as in disagreeable, unhealthy, unfavourable?
RESPONDENT: I am not to sacrifice my (probably-felt) freedom for someone’s else feelings-gold cage.
VINEETO: Not just ‘probably-felt freedom’ – the freedom you describe is merely a freedom to follow one’s feelings and instinctual passions.
RESPONDENT: Not that I’m making an excuse for my instinctual sexual nature but nor do I want to advocate the women sexual paradigm: monogamy, love, loyalty and security.
RESPONDENT: Next! A little advice for you Vineeto – get a life!
VINEETO: Let me describe to you how I experience every-day life –
Apart from very rare emotional wobbles I spend my days in perfect peace and harmony with everything and everyone around me. When I wake up in the morning I know that I am going to have a perfect day and when I go to bed at night-time I do so knowing that I have had a perfect day. I am not bothered by petty worries, jealousies, competition, arrogance, grumpiness, impatience, frustration, annoyance, anger, malice or irritation, nor do I get sad, miserable, gloomy, heart-broken, bored, tired, uneasy, embarrassed, disgusted, anxious or depressed. I very rarely come across an emotion in me, and when that happens I simply investigate into the root cause of the emotion and then immediately get on with enjoying life. In other words, cleaning up my grotty ‘self’ does actually work in everyday life in the world-as-it-is with people-as-they-are.
Each day is a fresh day, I don’t know what surprises it will bring, but I know that I will enjoy it, for the grumpy, soppy, fearful ‘me’ that used to interfere with my enjoyment is greatly diminished. Every day is holiday-like regardless of whether I am going to work or whether I am staying at home because each moment I enjoy doing what is happening. Sometimes I work 5 days a week, sometimes only two or three, sometimes I spend all day updating the website and sometimes I work for hours in the garden. Writing on this mailing list is also one of my favourite hobbies – because actualism works so well for me I am pleased to let other in on the secret in case they are interested.
I am living in peace with the people I work for, I have no grudges against the system or the country I live in, the neighbours, other drivers, the community, the government or whomever else I used to begrudge or complain about. I am able to see and meet people as they actually are without the need to categorize them in moral and ethical terms. By using a combination of attentiveness and intent I have incrementally dissolved my emotional affiliations – both alliances and animosities – with people and am therefore able to meet and treat people as fellow human beings. Now with no identity to defend, I relate to people as they are, respond to what they are actually saying instead of feeling, intuiting, assuming or imagining what they might mean and thus interactions with people have become an intimate, refreshing, utterly simple and enjoyable affair.
For five years now I live with my companion in utter peace and harmony night and day without bicker or quarrel, crisis or boredom without disagreement or compromise, nagging or sulking, role-play or restriction. Because I dared to examine and abandon my female conditioning I am now able to live in peace and harmony, ease and equity with another human being 24 hrs a day. Because I investigated and abandoned the ever-promising but never-delivering dream of love, an actual intimacy and a genuine benevolence are happening of their own accord. Peter is my best mate, a companion with whom I share the delights of everyday living, such as shopping, cooking, watching TV, having a cup of freshly brewed coffee, walking on the beach, playing in the garden, going down-town, comparing notes, working or playing on our computers, chatting about whatever seems worth sharing or simply being quiet while each goes about their business.
With the instinctual sex drive all but gone I can now enjoy sex for the sensate and sensuous delight it is – and what a pleasure to have a willing playmate for scrumptious hours of sensual fun. It took a few months of committed investigation into my sexual morals and ethics and their accompanying feelings of guilt and fear, and now I can enjoy the actual physical happening of sex rather than the fantasies of always-unfulfilled hopes and dreams. Because I dared to eliminate my conditioning, my sexual instinct withered away and I can now abandon myself completely to the sensual experience of two bodies having fun. The resulting intimacy in our sexual play is each time again utterly astounding and lusciously delicious.
An on top of all this enjoyment of each moment of being alive there is the utter confidence that I am moving every day closer to the moment of ‘my’ final extinction.
VINEETO to No 37: I have enjoyed you latest posts to the list and I particularly liked your precise list of questions regarding the infinity of the universe. It was the urgent quest to know that served to bring me definitive answers about the universe and what it is to be a human being and, going by your posts in the last two days, you certainly have discovered some definite answers.
I am reminded of the time when my questioning was particularly pressing. I had been with Peter for a couple of months and in that time it became obvious that if I wanted to live with him in peace and harmony, I had to change, not only superficially but radically. I experienced that we could easily agree on facts – for instance the sensuous facts that sex is fun or which restaurant in town had the best coffee and lunch. We also had no problems agreeing on obvious empirical facts that could easily be verified. But as soon as it came to beliefs, opinions and feelings we often arrived at a loggerhead situation.
In particular I discovered that my beliefs in Eastern religion were increasingly impossible to reconcile with facts that emerged from reading Richard’s accounts of his discoveries, from mutual discussions I was having with Peter and from my own inquiries, yet my belonging to the Sannyas community made this investigation rather scary. For a few weeks we avoided talking ‘about the war’ but soon that was not good enough for me – living in harmony with Peter was at the very top of my laundry list and I was unwilling to settle for the normal relationship, where what passed for harmony was only sustained by constantly monitoring a ceasefire and constantly avoiding each other’s no-fly zones. For that very reason I needed to find out the facts and I had to dig deeper into the ideas, beliefs and truth that I had taken on board and that I felt so touchy and defensive about. To merely change one belief for another was not an option.
The need to find out as a certainty became so pressing that I began to ask more and more specific and sometimes very disturbing questions, so much so that one day I was distracted while driving and had a minor car accident. The following evening a crack in my beliefs became readily apparent, which resulted in my first major PCE. The rest is history described in ‘A Bit of Vineeto’.
RESPONDENT: I enjoy the conversations that I have read on this list. I’ve especially enjoyed your writings on gender issues on the website. One of my big gripes with spiritualities is the prevailing belief that existence is divided into masculine and feminine, or any other duality for that matter – and then there is all the ensuing gobbledygook, which I was taken in by as much as anyone, I suppose.
VINEETO: I am curious as to what you have found out so far concerning gender issues. For me, actualism started with the investigations into the supposed differences of gender because they were the most obvious issues that prevented our living together in peace and harmony. At the start of our relationship, Peter and I had plenty of vigorous discussions about the subject of male and female and we wouldn’t rest until we were both satisfied with the facts that we discovered underneath our beliefs, conditionings and ensuing feelings. Soon I was to find out that ‘gender’ was only the prelude to my questioning all that I had held true and right and good – love, intuition, beauty, music, sexual taboos and conditioning, compassion, gratitude, faith, trust, honesty, loyalty, authority, spiritual beliefs, etc. It’s good that I have written about most of this adventure in the last chapter of Peter’s Journal because by now almost everything is wiped from my memory. This enterprise leaves no emotional scars whatsoever.
It’s a marvellous journey and it delivers instant incremental success. My relationship with Peter is based on parity, equity, harmony and actual intimacy and there is no bickering or resentment, complaint or withdrawal, compromise or manipulation. In short, the power battles, so obvious and prevalent in all human interactions, has disappeared without a trace.
Of course, I am a female and Peter is a male body, and what a delicious difference that is! But I know exactly what he means when we talk, and so does he, because we both have the same human sense organs and the same human intelligence. After we removed the programming of the male and female social identity and the instinctual conflicts of the male and female reproductive program, we are simply two human beings, immensely enjoying each other’s company.
ALAN: Still having difficulty accepting giving up <name deleted>. I understand only too well what she is going through (the Human Condition, as Richard calls it) and it is painful to experience. The attacks and comments, in an attempt to get ‘me’ back, made out of fear and loneliness. ‘I’ still hope she will join me and ‘I’ am using this as an excuse for not putting the house and business up for sale. Also the knowledge that this action will cause her yet more grief. On the other hand, delaying the sale only prolongs her hope that ‘I’ will return and everything will be ‘normal’ again.
VINEETO: I have read about half of your website and I am fascinated by your stories. Isn’t it a roller-coaster, up and down, up and down and all of it can be a delight – or not, when the Human Condition takes over...
I got particularly interested each time you referred to your wife and was wondering about some feelings that you possibly had, or still have. Surely my interest has to do that I am enjoying a mate-ship with Peter that is beyond anything I could ever dream up, or that I have ever come across in people around me. After all, it was the wish to be living in peace and harmony together with a man that made me investigate into the dreams and beliefs of love and successively all my other beliefs. And now his company, someone to talk to, someone to nut out the upcoming different emotions was and still is an immeasurable help.
And what a delight it was when for the first time, after several struggling months of investigating our beliefs and emotions, we were able to see each other for the first time in actual intimacy, one human being meeting another human being. In intimacy I am not a woman nor is Peter a man. Just seeing, what a wondrous combination of thoughts and senses the other one is, ever curious what sense he/she is making of life, what is going on in his/her head, the delight of exploring how we live and think and function and tick, an area that has been a mystery to me unto now. Now I am having a spy in the other camp, Peter tells me how men normally feel or react in a situation, how he had felt, thought or reacted in the past – such good fun!
Of course you are in a totally different situation, but still – until everything is sorted out – you are living together with a woman. Peter and I had a contract with each other to investigate the Human Condition together, but nevertheless, I think you can aspire to live with her in peace and harmony as far as you are concerned. Peter was such a good indication for me to see bits of the Human Condition when they were coming up, for instance, when I was getting irritated, when I wanted attention, wanted to live life through him or had authority issues. That has always been the checkpoint in any ‘feeling’ good for me: do I simply see Peter as a human being or do I hang any kind of relationship, security or any other emotion unto the fact that we enjoy living together?
The other can be a very precise tool to find the hiding bits in the ‘cupboard of the self’, I tell you! And why not, even when you both are preparing to separate, you are simply two human beings living in the same house, taking care of the same business... But I warn you: it might open a Pandora box of yet unexperienced emotions or feelings to tackle. But it is such a great challenge and a thrilling adventure to examine one’s emotions and feelings and eliminate them forever, one by one, the very thing the ‘self’ is made of. And every obstacle worked through leaves such a wonderful freedom and delight!
VINEETO: Going ‘mad’ all by yourself is a giant task and I am full of admiration for your courage. I had, and have Peter, to go mad with together, so it did not seem so weird all the time. A bit like walking on your feet while everyone else is walking on their hands, getting blisters and headaches and finding it perfectly normal. It is weird. I think, from what I read, you are doing very well in your post office in good old England without even a dog to talk common sense with. Quite thrilling too, isn’t it?
ALAN: It certainly is thrilling and it would be good to share the experience with another. However, I have you, Richard and Peter to discuss these matters with and the knowledge that others have and are experiencing similar things gives me sufficient courage to continue. And after all, at the end of the day, everyone has to do this by themselves, for themselves – that’s what so great about it, no guru or ‘master’ for me, thank you very much! One advantage – I suspect I have had less difficulty severing the ‘relationship’ with my wife than you had with Peter?
VINEETO: Yes, everyone has to do it for themselves. I have met several people who read Peter’s book and say they are intrigued or fascinated – but they don’t have a girlfriend or boyfriend to do it with, so what to do? I can understand the hesitation to take up such a task, but then it is everybody’s life. How can they make it dependant on a boyfriend or girlfriend! Would be more to the point to say: ‘It scares the shit out of me.’
I can’t say much about advantage or not, because the situation is different. My experience severing the relationship to my last boyfriend, which had not worked for years, was very different to being with Peter and taking my ‘self’ out of the living together. It took me a lot of determination and utter honesty, examining myself where I had hooks and ties still connected to him. My back-pressure was the thought: ‘What if he dies, what if he walks out on me tomorrow, will I be still happy and free?’ I did not want to wait until that happened to find out. So I ran that question again and again and found one bit of attachment after the other...
One time I remember clearly, the experience was like cutting a thick cord that appeared to run from the bottom of my spine to his, like a telephone cord of sharing delight. Afterwards it felt like my very bone marrow was being drained out of me, most of my strength, determination and will to ‘fight for freedom’. A very strange experience, I was almost physically curling back into my self and became autonomous, not relying on him. Any need for emotional support vanished with that event.
Also I was eager to challenge the spiritual belief that you can only become free ‘in your cave’, meditating on your own. One should transcend sex, transcend relationship and be completely alone, physically. That’s what they say... Well, I have proved them wrong. It is possible to become free living with a partner – it needs a lot of awareness and honesty. But that is what is needed anyway.
ALAN: I was discussing this with my wife last night and it got back to the familiar sticking point – giving up emotions and becoming a zombie, as she puts it. Is this an objection you have come across?
VINEETO: I have come across that objection many, many times. Women hold emotions, particularly their own, in high esteem; it is the familiar territory of the power she yields and the most important part of a female identity besides being a mother. Men may have developed other identities, many manage to avoid feeling their emotions like all get out, which, of course, does not help to become free of them.
To me, it was obvious from day one, that if I wanted to live in peace and harmony with Peter, then an exploration and a questioning of all my emotions was inevitable. In the end, this exploration proved to be the dissolution of the male and female camp and resulted in a delicious actual and ongoing intimacy between us, something which, apart from a few glimpses, I had never experienced before.
The other aspect of emotions lies in a broader context, and I am encountering this lately as it is becoming more obvious. Feelings, emotions and instinctual passions are the only connection between ‘me’ and ‘Humanity’. Empathy, sorrow and compassion make us feel connected to the greater ‘community’ of humankind, thus perpetuating sorrow without any solution. Severing the ties to this suffering ‘Humanity’ and standing on my own two feet without even the option of ‘feeling’ the other if I wanted to, is a bold step, and has been a process that took me a few months.
The turning point was the experience that, one evening before sex, I had a flash of wanting to kill Peter. I perceived him as being a deadly threat to ‘my’ identity, and my instinctual reaction resulted in the wish to kill him. The surfacing of this raw instinct in me, directed against my best and most intimate playmate, was a severe shock – it became blindingly obvious and self-evident that ‘I’ am rotten to the very core. To guarantee peace-on-earth, ‘I’ will have to become extinct.
VINEETO to Alan: 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.
VINEETO: As you can read in my letter to Alan on the mailing list, I do appreciate and made good use of your scrutiny. In my answer to you I have not yet expressed that. Because if you are out to demolish Vineeto, so am I and we are on the same ball-game.
But when I contemplated longer about it I realised that this was exactly the job you did with Richard, ‘scrutinizing’ him out of his enlightenment into actual freedom. When are you going to be generous to yourself and use this wonderful and sharp talent on yourself, the only person who really matters for you? Otherwise you will continue in the hopeless game of compassion and end up empty-handed yourself! Because who would believe in a reward in heaven after death, when you can have paradise here and now on earth?
So I invite you to another kind of game – let’s finish the mud-throwing and start telling each other our honest stories about the discoveries we are making in life, the way a certain method works or not, finding out what is belief and what is fact and actuality. I know I will be honest, if only for my sake. Care to join? Once right and wrong are of no concern and competition and power are considered silly then this game is thrilling fun. I had 18 wonderful months of it with Peter, who is now on his way out.
Then I can tell you the story of today, when I suddenly realised that when Peter will be free I am going to be left behind, on my own, abandoned, without protection. Although the fear itself wasn’t overwhelming I was still quite upset and for that very reason had access to the whole ‘library’ of emotional memories of similar situations in my life. The last ones I remember were when Rajneesh died and I was left without the physical guidance of the master. There were other occasions several times throughout my relationship with my ex-boyfriend whenever he went off with another woman or once when he fell seriously in love with a friend of mine. At that time I had tried to set anything and everything in motion to get him back so as not to have to experience the grief and the dread of being on my own.
The memory of those events added to the upset about my fear of a possible ‘abandonment’ and hit with quite a strength. I sat there during our lunch, while Peter peacefully read his newspaper, and contemplated on the impact of a woman’s instinct, on female conditioning and the dreams that were going out the door. I felt the passion of the belief of each woman that she needs to have someone to hold on to. And I could recognise it as the core of my female ‘self’ and appreciated that it was being challenged, examined and then withered away. What a freedom to have no relationship whatsoever to Peter because the Peter I fell in love with and who I used to relate to does not exist anymore. The realisation was stark at first and made me wobbly – I was uneasy towards him for a while because the way of relating was now new and unexperienced.
And now I am ready to disappear. What is the point in hanging on to a rotten identity. The whole process has been great fun and now it is time to go all the way. And what a thrill it is to go where no woman has gone before!
IRENE: If men and women will ever want to live in peace and harmony, the very root-cause must be addressed: a law can only be fair if both genders define that law, not only men. But men would not voluntarily choose to share all responsibilities and rights with women, because they are too proud of and too used to their supremacy, plus they would – quite understandably! – feel afraid that they might become redundant altogether, once women were given the chance to have equal say in the decision-making processes that are necessary for the organization of all men, women and children into a peaceful and fair living together.
VINEETO: If I had waited until that law you talk about was produced before I could live in peace and harmony I would still be living in conflict and despair. With our living together Peter and I have proven that every single person can decide for themselves if they want to live in peace and harmony or not. Any pre-condition before oneself is willing to change is just another excuse not to roll up one’s sleeves and start to clean up the Human Condition from within one’s own self.
RESPONDENT: I am now seeing Vipassana in a different light. It is very helpful in putting me at ‘this’ moment ‘here’ and it also puts me back to this physical body. Vipassana is not limited to watching of breathing only. It can be extended to watching any sensation in the body. In the beginning, of course there is a watcher, but I was told that gradually watcher goes away and there is only watching happening. I have, though, no personal experience of the watcher going away. But I could do away with emotions like anger with the help of extended Vipassana where apart from watching you also understand anger. The term ‘watching’ is used to be non-judgmental. That means I did not try to fight with anger, In fact I did not even wished that it should go away, but that doesn’t stops me from investigating. And just by understanding it and understanding the reason behind it, it goes away. It becomes foolish to get angry. That’s why I said it gives rise to common sense. As I have said earlier I did not try this method for all the emotions. Perhaps I never thought of listing down all the emotions and worked on them one by one.
VINEETO: (...) Further, Buddhism, and therefore Vipassana, is clearly based on the understanding that –
You see, their aim is to ‘get out of the body’ and ‘into consciousness’, because the ‘body is a collection of suffering’. Similarly, you ‘get out of anger’. But ‘you’ remain intact. That’s why anger arises again. Looking back I can see that at some point early in my relationship with Peter I made the decision not to let emotions come in the road between us and prevent a peaceful living together. Peace was the priority and for that I was ready to sacrifice everything – I was even ready to change, radically, completely, drastically.
RESPONDENT: I am really enjoying Richard’s Journal. The thoughts it raises are so factual and enjoyable to realise. I always had problems thinking that actual intimacy is greater than love. Yet the other day I realised that the times I have felt closest, and actually intimate, with my girlfriend have been those times where, instead of sweeping some issue under the carpet, we talk about our reactions and thoughts and generally the human condition. The other day this happened and I realised, ‘pow’, this is actual intimacy. It IS superior to love, it is just me and her talking about everything and anything. And the thing is that when we explore our reactions to an issue, there is a greater intimacy actually observable between us. If I didn’t have a word like ‘actual intimacy’ to describe I would call it ‘love’ as this is my only previous term of reference. :-)
VINEETO: Yes, I know what you mean. I had made no differentiation between love and the few short moments of intimacy that I had experienced, before I met Peter and Richard. So it was all one pot, one pan. Once I focused my attention on what it was that made me enjoy the time with Peter, if I did not feel love, I discovered that I enjoyed and valued our mutual undivided attention and our sincerity of investigating into ourselves. And one evening, click, suddenly I ‘saw Peter for the first time’ – meaning, I saw him as a human being, a man sitting across from me, and I had no feelings towards him whatsoever. And exactly that fact made the being together utterly intimate, there was nothing in the road between us, two actual human beings meeting each other – no expectation, no hope, no fear, no investment, no pulling of invisible strings. It was pure magic.
From that evening on, I became determined to eliminate love, whenever it popped up again, no matter what the dreams or fears were that accompanied the investigation. This moment of pure intimacy had been so delicious, so pure, so direct – it sure beats love by many country miles.
RESPONDENT: Vineeto, you and also others have mentioned a possibility of auto-rewiring of a brain as a result of a prolonged PCE experience. Have you noticed some old habits, gestures and body poses disappear? (If you disconnect synapses the vanishing habits could be used as indication that one is going into the right direction). As an example of what I am talking about, I noticed my semi-conscious habit of scratching my moustache (my brain must like the sensation of the moustache touching the soft skin on my fingertips), or earlier in my life, as a child, any pointed object. Or a habit of sleeping on your back, etc, etc.
VINEETO: The way you put the question, it sounds like as if one only has to find a switch ( a prolonged PCE ) and then – whoosh – the brain is auto-rewiring itself into the desired programmed position. That might be possible for computer programs, although even that is not an easy matter, but human beings function differently. One has to actively investigate into and progressively eliminate one’s emotions, beliefs and instinctual passions that constitute the ‘self’. To embark on such a thrilling adventure which will irrevocably change you, the one you think and feel you are, you will need to know what you are aiming for and why you want to question the status quo.
So the first thing which needs to be investigated is one’s intent. What is it that you are aiming for? Is it freedom from playing with your moustache and freedom from sleeping on your back? Or is there something else, something more important in your life that you want to be free from? For me, my main aim was to live with a man in perfect peace and harmony, twenty four hours a day. For that goal I successively was ready to give up religion, friends and peers, the ‘sisterhood’, job, my identity and everything I thought and felt myself to be. Living together in peace and harmony had been a longing all my life, and the failures of my former relationships had made it clear that conventional solutions including the spiritual search did not bring the desired result. While Peter and I were each dismantling our identities whenever they would hinder our peaceful living together, it became more and more obvious that there was more involved that just a happy two-some. My whole identity was at stake, my whole life was under investigation. If, for instance, I wanted to be free of being a nagging woman at home, then I had to get rid of ‘her’ completely, not just during the time I spent with Peter. So my original intent of a peaceful living together very soon extended to an actual freedom from being my ‘self’ with everyone, irrevocably.
Actual Freedom is not a small enterprise. And it is not a clip-on to one’s existing life to smooth some itchy habits and otherwise one stays the way one is. Actual Freedom is an enterprise that you decide for boots and all, to investigate into the very core of your being, into your ego and soul, in order to eliminate the very substance ‘you’ are made of – feelings, emotions, beliefs, instincts and imagination.
What I had said to Mark was:
In other words, once I have done ‘my job’, once I have investigated into my emotions, beliefs and instincts, the brain is doing the physical part of the change. But it is up to me to clean myself up, to investigate, running the question of ‘how am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ I have to remove every bit of my ‘self’ that is obstructing the smooth functioning of the brain. ‘I’ have to self-immolate. And for that I need all the intent I can gather, all the courage I can muster and whatever bloody-mindedness, patience, perseverance and determination I can pluck. And peak experiences and the success on the way give me the confidence to keep going.
RESPONDENT: I would appreciate advice from Richard, Peter, Vineeto or anyone for that matter regarding meeting a potential partner. I’ve never found anyone remotely like Vineeto or Devika to even start the conversation with.
VINEETO: I can’t give you ‘advice … regarding meeting a potential partner’ – all I know is how to become free from malice and sorrow. As an actualist I am, and always have been, committed to change myself and only myself and that is something anybody can do, should they be so inclined.
RESPONDENT: The least potential candidates were actually from New Age circles or holistic groups. You guys describe the meeting of your partners like you were walking along the road, and then you met an attractive partner and proposed the idea of let’s just ‘go for it’; total togetherness, a leave no stone unturned relationship, with a commitment to not bail out, not use any revelations against one another, and most of all not to fall in ‘love.’
In the last five years I’ve been I sometimes wondered why none of my former friends became interested in actualism, as I did. It seemed such an obvious choice to me, after my years of struggle in the spiritual business had produced no tangible results. The only explanation I have is that I had clearly underestimated the stranglehold that the feelings of love and hope have over people.
As for ‘the idea of let’s just ‘go for it’’ – before I met Peter I had lived without a partner for about 3 years. In this time I had observed relationships and contemplated about living together in peace and harmony with a man and as time went on I became more and more determined to do anything I could to make it work. That meant that I was then ready to review all of my ideas of who was the ‘right’ man, how he should be, how he should look, what he should believe, what he should do, etc. I was ready to undergo a questioning of all my beliefs and expectations in order for a peaceful and harmonious relationship to succeed.
In other words, this intent existed in the period preceding my meeting Peter. Living in peace and harmony with a man had advanced to the very top of my laundry list – it was at that stage the most important thing in my life. As it turned out, this determination was absolutely necessary, because I did indeed have to question everything I ever believed and I examine anything I ever belonged to, and only my sincere intent made me to overcome the obstacles and chasms that appeared on the road to perfect harmony.
RESPONDENT: I don’t know anyone who would want to be involved without the ‘love potentiality’, unless they had done a goodly amount of reading on the site.
VINEETO: The question is not if anyone else ‘would want to be involved without the ‘love potentiality’’ but if you are ready to question all your cherished beliefs and investigate your favourite and familiar feelings in order to become completely happy and harmless. Only a happy and harmless person can live with a partner in peace and harmony – it is an impossibility for a miserable and grumpy person. First things first.
VINEETO: So far, in some 5000 years of written history, none of the revered spiritual teachings have succeeded in bringing anything remotely resembling peace on earth. Thousands upon thousands of teachers have expounded the Truth and millions upon millions of disciples have diligently applied the teachings of the Truth and still there is fighting and squabbling, murdering and raping, torturing and suiciding. Once one stops one’s cherished beliefs standing in the way of the facts, it becomes blindingly obvious that the Revered Teachings of the Enlightened Ones do stuff all for peace on earth, in fact they add even more passion to the religious and spiritual fervour that flames conflict and animosity, despair and denial, hostilities and persecution – as is made evident by the spiritual correspondents on this list.
But if you are still convinced that enlightenment will deliver the goods – whatever that means for you – then surely it is good to abandon the ‘real’ world and get on with the business of pursuing the subject of spiritual enlightenment rather than waste your time and spleen on this list. Get out of the real world and get right into the middle of the spiritual world and make your own observations and have your own experiences. This is exactly what I did and the view from the inside is not at all pretty.
For instance, none of the Enlightened Ones has ever been reported as living with a woman in peace and harmony, equity and parity – it is not even on their agenda. The girlfriend of Mohan Rajneesh was so depressed in the end that she committed suicide whereas he is known to have indulged in blow jobs from a number of female disciples, Franklin Jones aka Da Free John is notoriously famous for his sexual orgies that included under-aged young girls, Jiddu Krishnamurti is reported to have had a longstanding secret affair with his best friend’s wife, a globe trotting guru from the town where I live has just separated from his wife and two children because of too many domestics, married man John deRuiter is said to have invited two additional wives into his home because the Truth told him so ... The list of dysfunctional human relations in the master-disciple-world goes on and on, if one is at all ready to see with both eyes open what a rotten and corrupt profession the guru business really is.
This mailing list is set up for those who are genuinely interested in investigating exactly the nature of those passions that the Revered Masters of the East have not had the guts to look at in themselves – the blind instinctual passions of fear and aggression as well as nurture and desire.
As a woman I found it particularly revealing and revolting that none of the oh so wise gurus had tackled even the first step of peace in action – to live with one other person in utter peace and harmony. And as for their expounded wisdom – neither meditation nor therapy has offered any useful advice for a satisfying peaceful relationship and nobody can say that I haven’t tried hard enough. But after seventeen years I finally threw in the towel and admitted failure and started to question the revered teachings themselves.
Actualism has offered me the tool to achieve this life-long goal of living with a man in peace and harmony and I know from my own experience that it works, 100%. There is not a single bickering, no trace of resentment or even a compromise in my relationship with Peter. There is no dependency, no jealousy, no disappointments, no scoring points, no neediness and no fear of loneliness – living together is simply great fun, day after delicious day. Sex is an ever-fresh innocent sensual play whenever the opportunity arises, a physical-only sensational delight that leaves any wild fantasy for dead. Gone are the days when I was plagued by worry, fear, guilt, shame, expectation, complaint, dissatisfaction or the undignifying need for sex. I never think of sex during the day or the night, I never fantasize and I never miss it, I no longer look at men as desirable sexual objects or would-be predators – I simply see fellow human beings regardless of gender.
RESPONDENT: Like people judging the whole Christian civilization only from the Inquisition, the Opus Dei and the Borgia popes. I mention Ramana, Nisargadatta and Aurobindo and you reply with the ‘enlightened Ones Rajneesh, Da Free John and John deRuiter’. Please be honest enough to consider they don’t play in the same category. Please be honest to acknowledge you use caricatures.
VINEETO: Why do you think that Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj and Aurobindo Ghoose don’t play in the same category as Mohan Rajneesh, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Franklin Jones and John deRuiter’? Are they not all declaring themselves to be enlightened and are they not all offering their teaching as the solution to a suffering mankind? Do you think there is ‘good’ Enlightenment and ‘bad’ Enlightenment? Usually people have one or several pet gurus and a particular pet teaching, which is, of course, ‘better than everybody else’s belief’ in the typical competitive style common to all beliefs.
However, in order to investigate what those teachings have practically contributed to peace on earth, one needs to step back and look at the whole guru business per se. Upon honest inquiry you will find that no spiritual master has ever lived in peace, harmony, equity and parity with a woman and no Goddess has ever lived in peace, harmony, equity and parity with a man because of the holier-than-thou nature of Enlightenment itself. The companion of a master, if He or She chooses to have one, will always be a devoted disciple and willing servant, humbling and belittling themselves to earn shares in good karma by serving and pleasing God’s latest representative or God’s latest incarnation.
I am not using particular ‘caricatures’ but well-known teachers – or do you consider Jiddu Krishnamurti being a caricature as opposed to ‘Beedi Baba’ as Nisagadatta used to be called? It seems to me that you are stretching your case a bit thin here. However, if you investigate the Holy Men’s and Women’s lives you will become shockingly aware that living in peace and harmony with a partner is not even on their spiritual agenda – it is not part of God’s message, it is part of the ‘Maya’ that has to be transcended. The very principle of Eastern spiritual teaching is rotten to the core – every enlightened teacher is a caricature of a mythical non-existent God as in ‘an exaggerated or debased imitation or version (of), naturally or unintentionally ludicrous’ Oxford Dictionary. To say that some are better than others is to defend the indefensible.
Of course, at first, it is an enormous blow to one’s pride to have bet on the wrong horse, but then again, to be spiritual has been the only alternative so far to being normal. Now that there is a third alternative available, anyone who is willing can put God and his/her mind-numbing devotion for God’s Go-Betweens into the dustbin where they belong and get on with the business of becoming free from malice and sorrow.
It is so good to be free from spiritual belief. Not just Rajneeshism, but free from all spiritual belief – all belief in any God by whatever name, in life after death, in good and evil spirits or in the supposedly theomorphic nature of our planet. This freedom from all spiritual belief gives one dignity for the first time in one’s life.