Selected Correspondence Vineeto
How to Become Free from the Human Condition
RESPONDENT: Now that I’ve told myself I don’t get to have anything, not love, not security, not immortality, well, the fear is profound.
VINEETO: Nowhere in the process of actualism did I tell myself that I ‘don’t get to have anything’ – I conducted an investigation into the issues at hand that prevented me from being happy and harmless when and as they arise. When feelings of love prevented me from being unconditionally happy and harmless, then I investigated my feelings of love and their respective counterparts. When fear for my security prevented me from being unconditionally happy and harmless, I investigated the facts of the situation to find out if and where my security was actually compromised and if I was physically in danger. When desire of immortality crept into my thoughts and prevented me from being unconditionally happy and harmless, I investigated those desires and did not stop until I uncovered the source of those desires and their respective fears.
Once I investigated these issues, traced them back to ‘my’ core and understood in what way they are the building blocks of my identity, I did not have to ‘tell myself’ anything – seen in the bright light of awareness the issue stopped being an issue … it became indubitably apparent that all I had lost was one dream after another. Being able to dismiss love and immortality as dreams was a tangible freedom gained and a notable step towards an actual intimacy with others and the confidence and integrity of beginning to be able to stand on my own two feet the first time in my life.
The reason I say this is that actualism is not about adopting a set of should’s and should not’s – a set of non-spiritual moral and ethics if you like. If anyone treats the writings of actualism in this way they are in danger of ending up less happy than they were before – a sure sign that they have left the wide and wondrous path. The writings of actualism have to be confirmed as being fact by the on-going awareness of your own everyday experience in order for actualism to be a life-changing matter.
RESPONDENT: Simultaneously I have noticed that I’m much more alive and energized. I’m in pain much of the time from enduring this intense fear, but I’m not depressed. I feel like I’ve been dozing for years and wasted a lot of time. I’ve thought about people watching frightening films – they (I) get some sort of rise from that – there’s an attraction to the fear that can’t really hurt the body and for some an attraction to the fear that can hurt, like war. Thanks for the fear discussion. I was already dabbling with the exciting aspect of the fear, now I will dive right in.
VINEETO: As I contemplated your post, I came across a bit of correspondence that Richard had with No 23 a while back and it seemed relevant as Richard describes the quality of the process of becoming free from fear and from all of ‘me’ –
Well, it’s time for me to join ‘the coalition of the willing’ and follow Peter to the bedroom …
RESPONDENT to No 23: I thought I might get corrected if I used the word ‘friendship’. I had missed that part of the site. Fellowbeingness, is it? I can appreciate that. It gets a bit prickly for me navigating through the word usage. I know I’m often bringing on unwanted responses by the words I use. (Unwanted in that I desire approval and flinch at correction – there’s me again.) It’s a little like when I speak French. I usually get my point across, but I know I often say things I didn’t mean because I make mistakes.
But that’s a gross example it’s really more like this: I once took a graduate class in philosophy studying Wittgenstein. I came away with one understanding. Each of us has his or her own associations for every word in our vocabulary. Because of this, when I say ‘goose’ one person remembers a childhood pet, another a fearful attack while crossing a farmers field, another an exquisite dinner in a posh Chinese restaurant, and these associations are often unconscious. We know what animal we are talking about, but the references are entirely different, and since those references largely remain unconscious, our communication with each other gets clouded by our subtle and differing reactions to the words we are using. When it comes to cultural conditioning the words are also, of course, heavily loaded. So it makes sense if you want to bring something entirely new ‘180 degrees the opposite’ to people you would need to coin some new words and also be extremely explicit about the meanings of the old words. Still, I am walking on eggshells and crunching quite a few here. Respondent to No 23, 3.5.2003
VINEETO: It is understandable that when you join a new mailing list that you would want to use the ‘right’ words . A few participants have reported a similar desire. However, actualism is not about changing one’s terminology or writing style, actualism is about changing oneself – or to put it colloquially, actualism is not about being able to talk the talk, actualism is about walking the walk. Merely adapting the words used in the writings of actualism to mean something they were not meant to mean would be comparable to adjusting your set of rules to what you imagine the actualism set of rules might be – you would simply replace the word ‘friendship’ for ‘fellowbeingness’ – a word that No 23 coined for his personal liking. What I did as an actualist was to investigate the connotations the word friendship had when I called someone a friend, my feelings of loyalty and trust, my expectations and disappointments, because I wanted to find out how ‘I’ tick as a social and instinctual identity.
My examination of the nature and integrity of my relationship to other people subsequently changed the way I now relate to people. I do not see people as either friends or non-friends because the more I investigated my social conditioning and the underlying feelings of aggression, fear, nurture and desire, the more my need for alliances and belonging has disappeared. As a consequence, I mostly perceive people as what they are – fellow human beings who go about their business of being alive just as I do. I put the horse before the cart – sincerity meant that the change of words only came hand-in-glove with a change of understanding, a change of attitude and a change of behaviour.
As for being ‘extremely explicit about the meaning of the old words’ – when you practice attentiveness to this moment of being alive with the aim of becoming unconditionally happy and unconditionally harmless, then you will inevitably want to be very precise with the words that you use to describe your experience because a precise description is a necessary precursor to obtaining precise information from your observation. After all, you want to find out exactly how ‘you’ tick. Similarly, an actualist would want to take care with the use of words when communicating with others simply because it makes sense to do so. Contrary to Mr. Wittgenstein’s philosophy, it is possible to call a spade a spade and to know that it is ‘a tool for digging or cutting the ground, now usually consisting of a sharp-edged rectangular metal blade fitted on a long handle with a grip or crossbar at the upper end.’ Oxford Dictionary. If any confusion occurs in the meaning of a word then clarification can easily be given or a dictionary reached for.
Should you, however, notice that your desire for approval gets in the way of an accurate exchange of information or an in-depth exploration of a subject, then that desire is something to be investigated. Should you notice that your own particular social conditioning causes you to misinterpret and affectively colour the words you read, then this particular emotional ‘reference’ is something to look at. My aim as an actualist is to become free from my affective interpretation of words, things, people and events, to divest them from the veneer of my personal, cultural and instinctual ‘references’ in order that the actual world becomes more and more apparent.
Actualism is a do-it-yourself-for-yourself-by-yourself job – and this is not just a throwaway line. You are indeed on your own, there is no language-test to be passed, no club to be inaugurated into, no inner circle to be part of and no gold medal to be won. What can be won, however, is peace-on-earth for the flesh-and-body called No 49 and the subsequent sensate experiencing of the splendour of living in this actual universe.
RESPONDENT: Quite simply... What is meant by ‘not suppressing or expressing’ emotion?
I understand that the method of actualism does not encourage to stop feeling – but to use its method of inquiring into how one is experiencing this moment. By not suppressing or expressing emotion – are you talking about ‘strong’ emotions? Are you talking of the extremes only? Love and trust and sorrow and malice?
VINEETO: No, in my first post to you I was talking about becoming aware of all of one’s feelings and emotions as they occur. Of course the strong emotions are usually noticed first and as such these are best to start with. If you set your sights on becoming happy and harmless then emotions such as anger, jealousy and resentment are good things to watch out for and observe as they are happening. Once you get the hang of it and begin to explore how you are experiencing this moment of being alive on a regular basis, you will become aware of your more subtle emotions like annoyance, irritation, dismissal, cynicism, touchiness, melancholy, gloominess, listlessness, boredom, disinterest, guilt, shame, withdrawal, sullenness, etc.
RESPONDENT: There is a spectrum of ‘expressing emotion’. You can look at my face and body language and determine how I am feeling. So it is impossible for me to not express emotion. Also, it seems much better for me if I am feeling stressed or upset – to exercise or do whatever I need to do to work the stress out of my body.
VINEETO: Yes, at the beginning of applying the method of actualism feeling an emotion and expressing it is pretty much happening at the same time. LeDoux has empirically measured the feeling response to sensorial input by the instinctual part of the brain, the amygdala, as only 12 milliseconds. However, with sincere intent and a little practice you become more and more aware of your emotions right when they are happening and then, rather than expressing or suppressing the emotion, as we have been taught to do, you can observe it, be attentive to it, trace it to its source and completely understand it.
I simply began to consider the journey into my psyche a scientific investigation and as such every emotion I experience has become a vital source of information. My attitude became more and more – wow, that’s fascinating, I wonder why I feel this – rather than the seesaw of ‘damn, another bad emotion again’ or ‘whoopee, another good emotion’. Every emotion occurring is valuable material to find out more about my identity, how ‘I’ tick, what social program I have been taught to follow and what instinctual program drives me to think, feel and act – and then I get to enjoy the process of both discovery and success as I irrevocably change towards being more happy and more harmless.
As for ‘feeling stressed’ – in the beginning of my investigation my emotions sometimes ran high and, because I was determined not to express or suppress them but to be attentive to them, I sometimes felt like a tiger in a cage. What helped best in those situations was to go for a long walk, through the forest or along the beach. The first half hour I was often busy relieving the physical tension that accompanied the emotion but afterwards I was able to think about what was happening and began to make sense of it. When I got home after an hour or two, I was then able to communicate what I had experienced and what sense I had made of it and often I explored the emotional event yet a little deeper in a further discussion with Peter.
The key to success for me was my intent. I was determined not to let any emotion slip by unnoticed and not to stop the investigation until I had traced the particular feeling to its source, which was either a belief, a moral-ethical value or a bare instinctual passion.
RESPONDENT: Or even if I am upset with someone – to be clear with them that I am getting upset – not that I have to ‘take it out on them’, but it seems better to communicate or express feeling rather than suppressing it.
VINEETO: Speaking personally, I soon discovered that my wanting to express to someone that they were making me upset was simply a way of blaming the other for my feeling upset – a convenient way of avoiding investigating my own feelings and discovering why other people’s acts or words upset me. In other words, I came to realize that if I didn’t stop the cycle of blaming others then I would never experience peace on earth.
Every emotion I have is ‘my’ identity expressing itself because ‘I’ am my feelings and my feelings are ‘me’. In order to eliminate ‘me’, all of the activities of this identity, i.e. beliefs, emotions and passions, are gradually brought to the light of awareness. Therefore whatever emotion is triggered, it is always ‘me’ in action and my interest lies in finding out about and incrementally eliminating the malicious and sorrowful ‘me’. As such, I have taken full responsibility for all of my feelings in that I accepted the challenge to eliminate the cause of my feelings in me.
For example if I felt insulted because someone was calling me an idiot or blaming me for something, my normal reaction had been to either grumpily swallow it or to tell the other off, depending on who was the stronger one in the situation. In actualism I investigated why I felt insulted in the first place and examined the reasons that lay behind this feeling. Personally I found that pride, self-image and righteousness were the most apparent reasons for such an emotional reaction. Once I discovered the root of the emotion I was then able to decide that I would much rather live without those examples of my identity and the feeling of insult also disappeared. The advantage of this approach is that nowadays nobody can insult me anymore.
RESPONDENT: So – just how does this ‘third alternative’ deal with ‘low levels’ of emotion. Where do I draw the line between what is advantageous for me to express and what is not? Just what is meant by ‘not expressing’ emotion anyway?
VINEETO: You don’t have to draw a line – not expressing one’s emotions means not expressing. The longer you practice the method of actualism the better you become in not expressing or suppressing the emotion when it comes up. I found that even slight expressions of my emotions, say irritation or displeasure, would cause uncontrollable ripples and repercussions in my interactions with people and, because my aim is to be harmless, I don’t want to create ripples.
If I express to another person that they are upsetting me, then I am blaming them for causing my anger and a careful observation of expressing my upset will reveal that it can never be expressed harmlessly. Similarly, if one expresses one’s sorrow to another, a careful observation will reveal that this does nothing but maintain and perpetuate sorrow in the world.
I also found it immensely freeing when I realized that my emotions are solely my problem to deal with and, when I am sure that there is no malice in what I say or do, other people’s emotions are their problem. This understanding makes all interactions with people incredibly easy, particularly when living together with someone else. You get to live in peace and harmony with the other without having to even try and change the other person in the slightest way.
VINEETO: I enjoyed your report of your experience with actualism you wrote to No 38. One part of it I could particularly relate to –
RESPONDENT to No 38: Yes, in the sense that my ‘search’ for truth has ended – and that is quite a relief. Also, my ‘relationships’ and dealings with people are virtually free of emotional entanglement, so they are much, much smoother.
No, in the sense that actualism and the recognition of the human condition has brought some unanticipated downsides that I am still working through. Briefly, the downside I am referring to could be summarized like this: ‘I’ resent being here, and ‘I’ know it.
So, I cannot definitively say that I am happier overall.
VINEETO: If I understand you correctly, I can relate to your observation that ‘‘I’ resent being here, and ‘I’ know it’.
When I discovered actualism and came to understand that the instinctual passions are the root cause of all human malice and sorrow I started to deliberately break my ingrained habits of dis-identifying and dissociating from my feelings and emotions – habits which had been part of my previous spiritual practice. I also began to watch television and read the newspapers to see what was going on in the world and to take notice of how I was in relation to other people. It wasn’t easy at the start because what I found was often not very pretty. When I took off my rose-colored glasses of dis-identification and dissociation I was at first overwhelmed with sorrow about the way people are with each other and, more importantly, I was shocked and appalled at the dark emotions I found within myself despite all my diligent spiritual practice and all my good intentions. In short, I discovered that I was as bad and as mad as everyone else, to paraphrase Peter’s description.
One of the first of my previously-hidden feelings I became aware of was ‘my’ resentment of being here and the constant effort required to be ‘me’ and yet I was determined and committed to not let these negative emotions slip away into the background again, but I wanted to actively investigate these feelings, look for the reasons for my resentment, consider and apply any practical changes if possible and where necessary, break my habit of carelessly lapsing back into these feelings – in short do whatever was needed to break the back of this insidious spoiler of my enjoyment of this moment. I found that the commitment to enjoy this perpetual moment of being alive was already half the battle and stubborn determination to not let fear, confusion or doubt stop me, the other half.
The practical and efficient tool – the actualism method – allowed me to not only become aware of my dark emotions but to examine them and incrementally disempower them, or, to put it differently, a tool that enabled me to become increasingly more happy and more harmless the more I uncovered the beliefs, morals, ethics, feelings and passions that prevented me from being happy and harmless. This tool, combined with Richard’s report of successfully applying it, meant that I increasingly dared to stop turning away from the dark side of the human condition, and to explore the darker recesses of my psyche in order that I could investigate the instinctual passions and then do whatever was necessary and appropriate in order to disempower them.
RESPONDENT: The fact that my ‘search’ has ended and dealings with people have improved is clearly attributable to actualism.
The unanticipated downsides have had to do with the fact that for most of the last two years, I have practiced actualism incorrectly. I have mostly looked at the human condition and my experience by trying to think through them and understand them. Unfortunately, though that approach gave me an intellectual understanding of the human condition, it has not allowed me to eradicate it in myself. I’ve only recently been able to discern the difference experientially, which has to do with examining emotions with attentiveness rather than attempting to analyze them intellectually. There is a big difference that can only be discerned experientially, and from what I can see, the trick is to remain with attentiveness rather than intellectualizing. Also, an important note – I’ve have long understood (intellectually) that there is a difference, but one has to understand this experientially.
There have been a lot of misunderstandings about the phrase ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive.’ I’ve tried to focus on ‘what’ I am experiencing – a sort of passive awareness, ‘what’ I am sensing – passive awareness – ‘what’ I am feeling – passive awareness – and other variations on the ‘what’ theme. It is only with the recent distinction between ‘what’ and ‘how’ that I see the question is specifically designed to be a simple test of the quality of experience in whatever form. ‘How’ is the important part in that it puts attention on the quality of experience – the emotions and feelings underlying thoughts so that one understands them experientially with attentiveness, not intellectually.
VINEETO: Ah, how simply you said it!
‘How’, not ‘what’ is indeed the clue to the difference between attentiveness with pure intent and the passive awareness of Eastern tradition. It had never occurred to me that it is this word that signifies the vital difference, but now that you said it is perfectly obvious – ‘how’ inquires into the quality of the experience and then the pure intent to improve the quality of this moment to be both more happy and more harmless indicates what needs to be done. Whereas ‘what’ simply takes stock of the content of one’s experience and by doing so one can either focus on sensate experiencing, thereby avoiding undesirable affective experiencing – trying to become an un-feeling ‘self’ – or one can focus on desirable affective experiencing, thereby regarding what one sensately experiences as being secondary or even illusionary – trying to become a non-thinking, dissociated ‘self’.
RESPONDENT: When I use the question I had made reference to the fastest most complete awareness happens when I have a sensate based energetic awareness. I described having to ‘slow down’ to have an emotive backed identity that reflects and goes ‘I’ am upset, afraid, etc. etc. I have detailed the process of ‘putting on [Respondent]’ or emotive backed identity awareness seems to occur when this Identity – (who I think I am) – lets me know I’m bothered by something. I can see as I’m writing this with a certain detachment.
VINEETO: When you say ‘this Identity … lets me know I’m bothered by something’ you seem to indicate that you are someone other than ‘this Identity’. However, your only chance to dismantling ‘this Identity’ is to recognize and admit that ‘this Identity’ is you, all of the time, the only exception being pure consciousness experiences where ‘I’, ‘this Identity’, is temporarily in abeyance.
‘A certain detachment’ does not alter this situation because this is merely the identity ‘playing detached’. The whole movement of spiritualism, where one aims via detachment to slip out of ‘this Identity’ into the ‘Real Me’ or ‘Higher Self’, blithely ignores the fact that a spiritual being is still an Identity, only wearing a different name.
The process of actualism consists of identifying, discovering and examining ‘me’, my social and instinctual identity. As I become aware of and fully comprehend one part of ‘me’, then this part of ‘me’ is exposed to the bright light of awareness and withers away. ‘I’ cannot survive for long in the bright light of awareness.
RESPONDENT: The truth is being bothered, is being bothered. I don’t mean to ramble. I am endeavouring to give the most accurate description I can. It seems I have an option on what I can pay attention to at any moment. I can pay attention to sights, sounds, kinaesthetic sensations, tastes and smells. When that is the case there is never any problem. Emotions are not a continual second by second experience like a sensation is. They demand reflections, interpretations and are discontinuous. I was modelling myself on the way you guys exist which is devoid of emotions, and identity. So I’ve focused on sensation based experience, which is always neutral (factual). I was letting the emotional stuff just flow through and I think I was not dealing with things, trusting they would pass just like a sensation. I’ve kind of thought the PCE experience analogous to a ‘drug or energetic experience’, also comes and goes.
While it gives you a goal it allows you to ignore issues and problems that are extant. I was doing the same with the question. I could just focus on sensations and a lot of pernicious beliefs would just go by like clouds passing in the sky. I would appreciate any comments on the above. Vineeto has been especially helpful in the past.
VINEETO: The method of actualism is to use the question of ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ in order to develop a non-discriminatory attentiveness of what goes on in your head and your heart each moment again. The significant word is ‘non-discriminatory’ in that I pay attention to everything that is going on, not just to the pleasant or trouble-free physical sensations, but also, and particularly, to the emotions and feelings that prevent me from being happy and harmless.
The point is not to avoid emotions and feelings or ‘trust… they would pass’ but to examine and explore those emotions and feelings, otherwise one will always live in apprehension of them returning and spoiling the sensate experiencing. Personally, I wanted to know why I kept getting angry, irritated, sad or depressed, why these feelings and emotions had continued to spoil both my interactions with others and my time on my own.
RESPONDENT: In addition when I’ve uncovered certain beliefs I’ve said to myself that I still believe this to be true even though they detract from my happiness and wellbeing. How would you advise dealing with this without lying or deluding myself?
VINEETO: You would be ‘lying or deluding’ yourself if you pretended not to have those ‘certain beliefs’ that you uncovered. However, if you have the sincere intent to become happy and harmless, you set about to question, examine and investigate why you have those beliefs and what are their underlying causes.
What makes encountering and examining ‘certain beliefs’ such a challenging business is one’s emotional investment that my beliefs are ‘truths’. To fervently believe something ‘to be true’, however, does not make it a fact. With the method of actualism you begin to probe into which underlying emotions uphold your beliefs and this enables you to become aware of the workings of your identity.
RESPONDENT: Let me give you an example that I could really use help with. I saw that I have a great deal of hostility toward woman. I thought, ‘gee it must be great to think that you are such a prize, that a guy ought to thank his lucky stars that he can get the opportunity to support you. To be a woman is to have the ‘divine right of Queens simply because you have tits and a vagina.’ I wasn’t thrilled that I have this belief but it is true for me. I would be lying to say I have vanquished it or am neutral. I know it doesn’t serve me and is unfair yet it is still the truth. So what is the best course of action in terms of dissolution of beliefs?
VINEETO: You say ‘this belief […] is true for me’ which is another way of saying that this is how you feel towards women. In contrast to the spiritual search for the ‘Truth’, i.e. what feels true for you, in actualism what feels true is not the end of the search but rather the beginning of your investigation.
While experiencing these feelings towards women – neither expressing or repressing them – you can at the same time observe them and probe deeper into the structure of your identity. As you experientially observe those feelings and accompanying thoughts, incrementally you are likely to uncover their underlying causes – first the various aspects of your social conditioning as a man and beneath that your instinctual passions as a male.
It is utterly exciting and rewarding to get to the root of the gender-battle in oneself because for the first time in your life it opens up the possibility of seeing, and relating to, all women as fellow human beings – an essential prerequisite for living in peace and harmony with the other gender.
VINEETO: You wrote asking for clarification of a quote you found on the web –
GARY: I think perhaps Vineeto might be referring to a common misunderstanding among the devotees and followers of J. Krishnamurti, among whom I used to count myself.
Thought and thinking is given a tremendous amount of attention among the Krishnamurtiites but feelings and passions correspondingly little. Krishnamurtiites speak a lot about bringing thought to an end, little realizing that human beings are for the most part deeply emotional and instinctual beings. Gary, No 33, 28.8.2001
RESPONDENT: If Vineeto is reading this correspondence, and if she can clarify this point, that will be good – somehow I think this seems to be the statement of my problem.
VINEETO: Yes, I am reading with interest every post that is coming in. I can understand your confusion when I remember how I used to respond to overwhelming feelings – usually a lot of frantic thoughts arose as I tried to get rid of the unpleasant feelings. You describe it well in your letter to Gary –
The thoughts ‘with a quality of unpleasantness’ are in fact feelings or emotion-backed thoughts. When an unpleasant emotional reaction occurs, for instance a reaction to something someone said to you, then the automatic response is to try and ‘make the unpleasant feeling go away’, and this effort is often accompanied by frantic thinking. This thought-response is secondary to the affective feeling response which happens first. This fact can be observed by becoming aware of one’s own responses as they happen and they are best observed in reactions such as anger or fear where the automatic response is clearly felt as a strong bodily response in the heart, or in a sexual reaction where the automatic response is felt in the groin, or in grief or sorrow where the reaction is felt in the heart or gut.
In order to become aware of a feeling when it is occurring, the first thing one has to do is to stop trying to make it go away as we have been socially or spiritually conditioned to do. As long as you object to having the feeling you cannot observe it. This means one needs to become aware of and understand one’s automatic reaction of suppression – and/or dis-association – in order to be able to experience the feeling fully so that you can then feel what the feeling feels like and give it a name.
As a general rule of thumb it is impossible to examine a feeling while you are having it because, as you will have noticed, invidious and euphoric feelings, emotions and passions prevent clear thinking from happening – so the next thing to do is to get back to feeling good by recognizing that it is silly to waste this moment of being alive by being angry, irritated, fearful, sad, etc. When you are back to feeling good you can then begin to examine what made you angry, anxious, gloomy, etc. in the first place – when did the feeling first start, what was the event or situation that caused my affective reaction, why did I feel insulted, sad, angry, worried, etc., which of my cherished beliefs was being questioned, what part of my identity was being attacked, was there a fear underneath the initial feeling, what was this fear about ...?
In this way you are conducting a scientific inquiry into your own affective experience, you are in fact examining your own psyche in action – but at first you have to allow the feeling to come to the surface so that you can conduct an extensive examination into all its aspects. Once you get over the initial moral and ethical objection to having unpleasant or undesirable feelings in the first place, you will notice a keen interest and fascination developing that comes from being able to be aware of your own feelings and emotions while they are happening and from being able to investigate them as soon as you are back to feeling good.
This investigation into your feelings has to be experiential if it is to bring any tangible results – thinking about feelings and emotions abstracted from practical down-to-earth personal experience will not enable you to penetrate into the very nature of your psyche. So the first thing is to stop one’s usual habits of fighting, denying or expressing one’s feelings, blaming people and events for causing one’s feelings or dissociating from one’s feelings. By doing so you allow yourself to experience feelings all the while making sure that you keep your mouth shut and your hands in your pocket, otherwise you might do or say something you regret later on.
Thus far there have only been two alternatives to coping with the feelings and emotions that arise from one’s instinctual passions. The first is suppression and the fact that we still need police and armies, laws and judges, moral codes and ethical values, attests to the failure of suppressing emotions. The other alternative is expressing your feelings and emotions, something which is fashionable in some spiritual and therapy philosophies. Expressed sorrow is not only socially acceptable, it is an encouraged activity in that it is imagined to bring ‘closure’ and resolution and it’s generally believed that if you haven’t got something to complain and bitch about then something must be wrong. Humans generally delight in expressing sadness, in being sad, feeling the bitter sweetness of sorrow, watching sad love stories, listening to sad music, etc. On the other hand expressed malice can easily lead to physical violence so humans have created socially acceptable outlets for malice such as sport, gossip, games, films, competitive business, and so on. Rather than having a problem with being malicious and sorrowful most people find meaning, delight and entertainment from feeling the feelings of malice and sorrow, which is one of the major reasons that actualism will be unpopular for a long time yet.
RESPONDENT: Okay ... is there any short-cut here? Instead of going through each one of them and labelling (– greedy me)?
VINEETO: In my experience with using spiritual methodology for 17 years and using the method of actualism for the past four years, I can verify that actualism is the short-cut. My life has already become unrecognisably better than it was four years ago – I am living in perfect peace and harmony with a man and I am happy and harmless 99% of the time.
And why would I not choose to be happy and harmless? Why would I not do whatever it takes to experience this freedom from malice and sorrow, twenty-four hours a day? By always making a deliberate choice to be both happy and harmless in this moment, I am instantly improving my life. And the action of examining, investigating and understanding whatever prevents me from being happy and harmless in this moment incrementally deletes the social and instinctual programming of malice and sorrow in me, until, one day, as a consequence of this stubborn effort, the whole entity will collapse like a house of cards.
This kind of inquisitive investigation is exactly the opposite to the traditional method of Vipassana, whereby one is simply advised ‘going through ... and labelling’ and then dismissing one’s unwanted feelings in order to get on with the business of being somewhere else but here.
Maybe there is a misunderstanding as for how to apply the method of actualism. In the library there is a section with related correspondence on ‘How to become free from the Human Condition’ where the method is explained from all possible angles.
It is not enough to simply label an affective feeling when it occurs for at this very point the fun of your investigation begins. Whenever I noticed a feeling of greed, as in your example, I explored and uncovered while experiencing the feeling what exactly I was feeling – what was I missing, why did I feel I needed this object or person, what were my moral and ethical judgements about feeling greedy, what lay behind my impatience and urge, what would have happened if I didn’t get what I felt I needed, what other feelings were connected with feeling greedy, for instance loneliness, anger, competition, resentment, inadequacy, survival fear, lethargy, wanting something for free, etc.?
In short, I conducted an extensive exploration so as to map the territory of that feeling as exactly as possible and I used each opportunity of an occurring feeling in order to find out as much as possible about ‘who’ I am and what passions I am driven by. Once you get the hang off it, it’s great fun.
RESPONDENT: Okay ... is there any short-cut here? Instead of going through each one of them and labelling (– greedy me)? Something like J. Krishnamurti stuff (sorry!) by realizing that the whole thing of ‘ME’ has come about because of a misunderstanding that ‘observer’ is different from the ‘observed’?
VINEETO: No need to apologize, questions are the very stuff of investigation and discovery.
Jiddu Krishnamurti never realized ‘the whole thing of ‘ME’ – like all other Eastern teachers he only taught that thought is responsible for human suffering and he made no mention of the instinctual passions being the root cause of all the mayhem and misery of humankind.
As for his method of realizing the ‘misunderstanding that ‘observer’ is different from the ‘observed’, as you put it – according to his own words none of his non-disciples and non-followers has ‘got it’. If you think his method was a short-cut, it lead no-where because it did not work. He stated at the end of his life –
The longer I practiced the method of actualism – a wordless investigation as to how am I experiencing this moment of being alive and an examination of whatever it is that is keeping me from being happy and harmless in this very moment – the more I came to understand that actualism is actively changing one’s programming in the brain by examining and successively eradicating the roots of malice and sorrow deep in my own psyche.
Actualism aims at eliminating the very cause of one’s unhappiness, fear, greed and aggression. It is essential to experientially understand the grip that your moral and ethical values, your spiritual conditioning and, last but not least, your instinctual passions have on ‘who’ you experience yourself to be – your thinking, your feeling, your behaviour and your actions. ‘I’ and ‘me’ pervade every cell of this body, ‘I’ and ‘me’ control the functioning of its chemical-hormonal balance or imbalance, ‘I’ and ‘me’ are running the full show.
By applying the method of actualism one begins to insert increasing amounts of attentiveness, ‘self’-awareness and intelligence into the automatic instinctual and moral-ethical-spiritual programming and this process then evinces an actual and irrevocable change in one’s everyday life – one becomes ever more happy and harmless, no matter what the circumstances.
RESPONDENT: Knowing that at the end all has to go, is there a method different from the step by step approach, or this is the only way?
VINEETO: I found that first I had to get acquainted with ‘all’ that ‘has to go’ . The way I did that was that I investigated every affective feeling and emotion as they occurred. Thus I became acquainted with ‘me’ in action. First, I examined my morals and ethics as to whether they were silly or sensible and they stopped having a grip on me. When I was getting acquainted with my spiritual conditioning it became obvious how silly it was and it eventually became impossible to hold on to it. Similarly, as I was able to come face to face with my raw instinctual passions they are now wearing thin and becoming increasingly rare.
Personally, I only know the ‘step by step approach’ and I like its incremental and certain success in improving my life way beyond my wildest dreams. I can appreciate its success particularly after 17 years of applying the spiritual method of mindless doing nothing, which brought no improvement in becoming either happy or harmless.
VINEETO: It appears you had quite some thought about actualism and actual freedom. Personally I found it well worth the effort of deeply and comprehensively understanding something so radically new to human experience.
RESPONDENT: Dear actualists:
I have tried to summarise what I have so far understood from the Actualfreedom website and through interaction with you.
Please correct/comment if appropriate...
VINEETO: I will keep to the same style and add a few points to your summary –
RESPONDENT: In dismantling the ‘feeler’, I found that ‘Feeling is not a fact’ to be useful; i.e. when the feeling is rampant, to realize that ‘what one feels to be true’ requires the ‘feeling’ to be true – i.e. when I question – ‘will what is felt be true if the feeling were not there to support it?’ I found this working for me rather than going through the whole structure of what caused this feeling etc. as it seems to become circular in my case.
VINEETO: When feelings seem ‘to become circular’ I found it helpful to find out the reason why particular feelings were so ‘sticky’, why it was important for me to feel this way, why I was afraid to question the particular part of my identity that was related to these feelings.
RESPONDENT: By circular I meant that the links I follow in tracing the root of the feeling become circular – I am afraid because I can’t perform well and I can’t perform well because I’m afraid; what would you do in such a case? Maybe from what you are saying, I should ask ‘why is it important for me to perform well’... because I want to be better than others... or I want the applause... why? Because it feels good... and then…? Some insights into this kinds of investigation will be very valuable. (I request others who are running the investigation to share their results too – I would do it eventually).
VINEETO: When I apply the method of actualism I do so because I want to become happy and harmless – that is my first and only priority. Then the investigation into how I am experiencing this moment of being alive has a clear direction – what worry, feeling, desire, belief, etc. preventing me from being happy and harmless and if so, why do I hold on to it?
Actualists have written a great deal about how to apply the actualism method and have shared their experiences as to how to make investigations into beliefs and feelings. You will find it under the links to selected correspondences on the library page of ‘How to Become Free from the Human Condition?’ and also under ‘Affective Feelings – Emotions, Passions and Calentures’.
RESPONDENT: Lately, I am getting a hang of the method and usually I find that there is some emotional memory/event in the past etc. hidden behind such feelings and once exposed (which is not at all obvious in the beginning – or should I say it is obvious but I would not see…???) the hold is either totally gone or weakened... but lot of work still remains. But as is pointed out in various actualism materials, it is very enjoyable as one gets freer and freer incrementally.
VINEETO: Yes, the test is always if the hold that feelings have on you in a particular situation is weakened or if the feelings return exactly the same way at the next similar occasion. If they do, you simply root around a bit more and probe a little deeper each time.
In psycho-therapy there is often great emphasis placed on remembering past harms and hurts, yet there is never a resolution of the associated feelings of sorrow and malice. Psychotherapy encourages you to remember childhood events in order to ‘heal’ the ‘wounded child’ but this only serves to enhance the social identity that is in part made of those memories. Whereas in actualism it is only necessary to go back to the event that triggered your current feeling in order to build up an experiential understanding of how your social and instinctual identity is programmed to work. Eventually past memories are not needed at all in order to recognize one’s identity in action – with sufficient practice you become aware of ‘me’ in action on the spot and nip it in the bud before feelings go rampant.
RESPONDENT: I should also mention that so much material is present in the website and these days I am reading non-meditatively with eyes open and it is delightful :) – and I find that it is becoming more and more clear what is being said, why I resist it so much etc.
VINEETO: I am delighted you understood the pun.
RESPONDENT: Couple of other things:
1. How am I experiencing this moment of being alive – I realize the importance of this question (which effectively focuses one’s attention to the present) and probably carefully designed by Richard to deliver the goods – namely to start the inquiry into the feelings as they are happening. I was wondering about the usefulness of ‘of being alive’ part – isn’t it implicit?
VINEETO: In the beginning I found ‘of being alive’ particularly useful given that spiritual practice focuses so much on how not to be here on this planet – typified by such sayings as ‘going inside’ or ‘finding an inner peace’ – and is only concerned with increasing your moral bank balance for life after death.
However, once I had understood the gist of the actualism method of investigating what is going on each moment again, the question became a wordless attentiveness to being alive now. Physical sensations, thoughtful reflections and affective feelings are equally noticed. The increased awareness of being alive makes the sensual experiencing more delightful, contemplations more effective and enjoyable and it allows me to detect affective feelings as they begin to arise before they fester into raging emotions.
RESPONDENT: I should say that sounds incomplete if you clip the tail, but it makes it shorter and therefore a little easier to apply in this phase of verbal questioning – particularly when feelings are rampant.
VINEETO: Whenever feelings were ‘rampant’ I was busy investigating the feelings rather than repeating the initial question because I already knew how I was experiencing this moment of being alive – I was being either angry or sad or frightened or euphoric. Then I would ask myself questions that lead to an in-depth exploration of the feeling in question – what triggered it, when did it first occur, why am I so emotional about the particular situation, what part of my identity does this relate to, etc. I would poke around, question and reflect until I had a sufficient experiential understanding of the issue at hand. Most often this process needed to be repeated time and again as I reacted in a similar way to a particular issue and I only concluded the investigation when there was the satisfying insight that allowed me to drop and dissolve the issue once and for all.
RESPONDENT: 2. Do you see any use in setting up a chat room for actualism discussions?
VINEETO: Personally I enjoy and prefer the current medium of the mailing list, where everyone receives everything that is been talked about and can then comment or not in his or her own time, pace and manner. With the mailing list as it is, writing about actualism does not interfere with living my life as I find appropriate.
VINEETO to No 47: When I disentangled myself from the spiritual practice of dissociation I began to allow myself once again to become sensitive to my own undesired feelings as well as to the perversities and horrors of the human condition. In short I allowed myself to feel the full range of my emotions in order to examine them and trace them back to ‘me’, the affective identity inside this flesh-and-blood body. When a reaction to a certain situation kept creeping up again and again, avoiding giving it ‘credence’ was not enough. I had to feel the feeling, label it, sort it out, understand it in the context of my social identity and figure out which part of ‘me’ was responsible for my emotional reaction in order to become free from it. Then I could go back to feeling excellent again and, as a result of this rooting around, was less prone to be disturbed by a similar situation. Vineeto, The Actual Freedom Mailing List, No 47, 4.11.2003
RESPONDENT: Thanks for the very lucid and succinct description of the actualism method; I would like to just add my observations to what you said (I have divided your description into three parts):
I think a) is extremely important. If not done diligently, it leads to denial of the feeling and also distortion of steps b) and c). If I don’t fully feel and acknowledge the feeling/ emotional reaction, it means that I have not fully come to terms with the whole of the feeling; I still have some vested interests in continuing to feel that way and I would trick myself to lie in the surface if I don’t take a good look at the whole of the feeling. It seems to be so difficult to stay with the feeling.
VINEETO: It’s usually difficult to acknowledge and feel a feeling when the particular feeling is either socially unacceptable or personally undesired, i.e. when to feel this way does not concur with one’s morals and ethics and/or one’s image of oneself. You described it well in your recent letter to No 4 when you said –
That’s why the questioning of one’s spiritual beliefs and one’s moral and ethical values is crucial for successfully investigating one’s feelings – I had to dare to go past the ‘guardians at the gate’ and take apart my social identity.
One thing that I found useful in this process of dismantling my social identity was when I became aware of a feeling that interrupted my feeling good and I had given it a name, I then identified this feeling with a specific aspect of my social identity. In my case when I felt annoyed with something that Peter said or didn’t say or did or didn’t do I would acknowledge that I was annoyed and then recognize that it was ‘Vineeto the woman’ and ‘Vineeto the lover’ who was annoyed and this made it clear that if I wanted to stop reacting in that way then ‘Vineeto the woman’ and ‘Vineeto the lover’ would have to go. (...)
RESPONDENT: c) brings back the focus on enjoying the moment and the purpose of the investigation is to find and remove the obstacle that took away from feeling good/ excellent/ perfect. The real test for correctness of the above steps is simply that it becomes once again possible to get back to feeling good/ excellent/perfect. At least the current problem has been understood and eradicated.
VINEETO: Yes and when the problem reoccurs I examine it again, I shine the bright light of awareness onto it, maybe explore it on a deeper level and come to understand how ‘I’ tick more deeply and comprehensively.
In every investigation a crunch point eventually comes when ‘I’ realize that the only way I am going to raise the bar of actually becoming more harmless and consequently feeling more happy is to let go of, or drop, a significant part of my social identity – in my case I was no longer a German, no longer a spiritualist, no longer a socialist, no longer a member of the sisterhood, and so on.
Change does mean change and change does have consequences. For an actualist the over-arching intent to become more happy and more harmless outweighs any consequences that the stripping away of one’s social identity may have.
RESPONDENT: What does one do when one feels bad? How much of study is required? Just the right amount to get back into feeling happy and harmless once again? If one has 100% intent can one just look at the feeling and get back to being happy and harmless instantaneously? Is the amount of work that is needed inversely proportional to the amount of pure intent to be happy and harmless? And is it inversely proportionally to one's grip on the method? When I look into the feeling - there is the cause of the feeling and there is the effect of the feeling and there is no clear boundary in between. At least in the beginning. The effect (the expression and evolution) of the feeling dominates the cause. One may feel irritated because his boss said something about him and might discharge that irritation on his child's undone homework thinking that it is the cause. I guess more attentiveness reveals the actual cause.
But is there always a cause? How about when one deals with instincts? Is there a cause or trigger?
I would like to ask Peter and Vineeto to write about some difficulties they found in this part when they practised this method initially.
VINEETO: I see that No 37 has answered most of your questions in an excellent way. As for writing ‘about some difficulties they found in this part when they practised this method initially’ I can highly recommend Peter’s Journal because it is to date the most comprehensive and down-to-earth account by a practicing actualist about utilizing the actualism method so as to become virtually free of malice and sorrow.
I can also recommend Peter’s conversations both with Alan and Gary where Peter passes on information about the various stages that can happen on the path. Here Peter describes one of the more hilarious of such episodes –
RESPONDENT: My email (as evinced by the subject: No 66’s food is fine with Daddy) was not about his diet per se, but about his seeking approval from others for his behaviour.
VINEETO: Considering that you sign your posts with the title ‘Peace on Earth in This Lifetime as This Flesh and Blood Body’, have you ever wondered why it is that you felt to publicly and unsolicitedly reprehend a fellow human being in a forum like this? Have you not understood that peace on earth in this lifetime for this flesh and blood body entails changing one person and one person only – ‘me’– and as such what other people choose to do with their lives is entirely their business?
For me the practice of actualism meant that I began to become attentive to and aware of my own feelings and my own behaviour and become vitally interested in how I felt, what I felt and why I felt it whenever my feelings interfered with my being happy and harmless.
I knew that the investigation into myself had to be experiential if it was to bring any tangible results – thinking about feelings and emotions removed from down-to-earth personal experience would have kept me at a surface level and would have prevented me from penetrating into the very nature of my psyche. So the first thing for me to learn was to stop repressing and ignoring my feelings, to stop fighting my feelings and to stop feeding and expressing my feelings and instead allow myself to attentively experience my feelings … all the while making sure that I kept my mouth shut and my hands in my pockets, in order that I wouldn’t do or say something I’d have to regret or feel remorseful about later on.
The next stage was to make sense of my thoughts and feelings as I became aware of them. Of course, in order to make any sense out of why I was having the feeling, I needed to get back to feeling at least reasonably good again by recognizing that it is patently silly to waste this moment of being alive by being righteous or bored or frustrated or worried or gloomy. Then when I was back to being able to think clearly, the real job begins, which is finding out what got me into this particular mess in the first place and how I can avoid falling into the same trap next time around.
Then I could begin to discern what was going on – not in the usual terms of right and wrong, good and bad, virtuous and reprehensible, but in more pragmatic down-to-earth terms of what exactly was the feeling I was feeling – am I feeling sad, am I feeling angry, am I feeling bored, am I feeling scared and so on. It was not an easy thing to do at first but persistence combined with intent eventually enabled me to acknowledge and label the feeling I was having while the feeling was running. I soon became aware that my social and instinctual identity thrives on gloomy and antagonistic feelings as well as on loving and compassionate feelings and I am now more and more able to choose to nip the arising feelings in the bud before they can interfere with my feeling excellent.
RESPONDENT: The fact that actualism has no systematic ‘method’ of inquiry has always been quite clear to me, so this is no new issue for me. At some point I realized that RVP either can’t or won’t have any helpful feedback for such a question so I just quite asking questions about improving the Swiss knife ‘method’ of actualism. I have no doubts about the awesomeness of living a PCE, because I’ve had a PCE. It’s actualizing that as an ongoing experience that is the ‘problem’.
I can respect that it’s up to me and me alone to come up with the questions to uncover the beliefs that cause my unhappiness.
VINEETO: The reason why the actualism method has no ‘systematic method of inquiry’ is simply that as one inquires into one’s beliefs (beliefs being feeling-backed thoughts), the resultant feelings when they happen are usually all over the place as you probably know from experience.
The only method I systematically apply, and ever needed to apply, is to keep asking whether I want to hold onto the particular feelings that come with being a believer or whether ‘I’ could afford to drop the belief in question in exchange for being more happy and convivial. This dropping of a particular belief sometimes happened quite quickly but more often, especially at the beginning, it took several rounds of repeating cycles of emotions such as doubt, fear, resentment, anger, hope back to doubt, fear, resentment, anger, hope, and so on. What was always needed was to clearly see ‘me’ in action, with the concurrent willingness to put an end to my present ‘self’-created misery.
RESPONDENT: And how did you find all those beliefs w/o a ‘method’ of inquiry (i.e. specific questions)?
VINEETO: And yet I had a method of inquiry – the questions that followed the method of attentiveness were merely common sense, the application of sensual observation combined with the experience of what works and what doesn’t work in regard to my aim. I started with the aim of living with Peter in unconditional peace and harmony (which soon expanded to being unconditionally happy and harmless) and applied the method of being attentive to this moment of being alive.
Putting this attentiveness into a list my line of questioning would look something like this – with the proviso that when I notice that I am feeling hurt or peevish or irritated the first thing to do is to get back to feeling good –
Yet all in all this whole process of feeling the feeling, finding the underlying belief, identifying the aspect of identity involved, understanding this part of the human condition as common to all and abandoning the whole lot was so fascinating, rewarding and thrilling that it took on its own momentum which was then speeded up by success.
In a relatively short time I could see tangible results in that I was less prone to feeling hurt, there were less and less issues I felt hurt or angry about and life became more and more a cruise rather than an uphill journey, which I might add was only possible because my aim was unwaveringly clear (after my first PCE) and I was determined, come what may, to be scrupulously honest to my aim and with myself.
Along with abandoning beliefs and the related fickle good and bad emotions I also made some practical changes in my life so as to have more free time (in exchange for having less goods, less social status) and less social engagements.
RESPONDENT: Personally, I don’t think it needs to be this hard though.
VINEETO: No, it doesn’t need to be hard but ‘I’ tend to make it hard for various reasons. One reason for this hardship I discovered was that I believed life has to be hard because I have to earn, and justify, my right to exist and I believed that if I didn’t play my part I would be a useless fool. Another reason I discovered was that I was taught to be responsible and to look after those less fortunate in order to balance the injustice happening in the world – a moral injunction based upon the notion of scoring brownie points with the Big Judge in the sky. Another reason was that if I made it really hard for myself then the later victory over myself would be all the more glorious. Another reason was that everyone around me insisted by word and deed that it is heartless to have too much fun and to abandon carrying the burden of humanity.
There were many more of society’s beliefs, morals and ethics that I encountered on the way to becoming virtually free but these might convey the tricks ‘I’ am up to in order to stay strong and on stage.
RESPONDENT: They were instructive.
VINEETO: One thing I found useful to keep in mind – when things looked difficult and complicated and I felt I could not find my way out of the maze of my emotions and beliefs it was usually the thing that I least wanted to do or have happen that lead to the exit of the maze. In other words, ‘I’ had set the parameters and thus made the situation apparently complicated and seemingly insoluble by desperately wanting to hang onto one particular aspect of ‘me’.
RESPONDENT: Maybe ‘actualism’ worked so well for RVP cause there all very simple folks. What about us complex city folks? I still think a keen psychologist/ actualist could write a brilliant manual contain ‘how to’ investigate one’s beliefs, how to minimize emotions through attentiveness, etc.
VINEETO: (…) When I began to apply the actualism method I soon found out that all of my seemingly complex problems had a very simple solution, so simple that I first had to abandon bucket-loads of complexity and rediscover naiveté in order to even see the simple solution that was right under my nose – the challenge always being, did I dare to do the obvious and immediate thing I needed to do in order to be more happy and more harmless.
RESPONDENT: I am fighting this ‘simplicity’
RESPONDENT: It seems to me the actualism ‘method’ is pretty lean on method. Besides one descent article by V there is really no systematic ‘method’ given to uncovering beliefs. (…) Actualism is much more unstructured and that’s cool for some, but I think a little more structure and even a ‘technique’ of inquiry could be very useful.
Let the ‘No 66 doesn’t understand actualism’ onslaught begin. :) or not. The ‘No 66’s silly questions don’t merit even responding to, but No 89’s, etc does’ will be the more probable ‘response’. But I can’t be certain and probabilities don’t exist in the actual world as No 60 knows. Actualism is just about the facts ma’am.
No 60 will be happy cause I’m being ‘honest’. Peter will be bewildered cause I’m being silly. Richard will be silent. And one of our opportunists will take the opportunity to show the customary malice toward a would be (wannabe) actualist. It’s all so un-simple here in the real world.
RESPONDENT: Of course they are cognitive distortions. They were somewhat ‘tongue in cheek as well’.
VINEETO: Personally I found it essential to take all of my feelings sincerely enough to investigate them, specially at the beginning of practicing actualism, particularly in situations where my feelings caused me to imagine about other people’s feelings, thoughts or intentions.
To give you another possibly useful hint – for me the actualism method has been the tool to go backwards – to the origin of a feeling, an imagination, an invention, an accusation, a belief – until I arrived at the original source from where the feeling/ belief was generated and that’s where the switch is located to turn the feeling/ belief off. In fact, as Richard pointed out in his recent post to you, seeing that it is a belief is already the end of it.
VINEETO: If so, the question I used to asked myself was something like: what is the common theme behind those ‘cognitive distortions’ and what is the dominant feeling generating this onset of negative projections in the first place – in other words, bring the investigation right to where it really needs to happen in order to be fruitful.
RESPONDENT: Ok, that is a sensible question. I guess I’d like to see more practical examples of ‘investigation’.
VINEETO: Ok, would it be a suitable practical example to apply the same sensible question to yourself in this particular situation?
What I would ask myself in a similar situation (after having returned to feeling good) was what was the dominant feeling behind my ‘cognitive distortions’ that made my world appear so complicated and/or so hostile? Once I found the dominating feeling that generated the belief, the belief disappeared and the feeling looked just silly.
RESPONDENT: When an emotion has been fully investigated and there is nothing new to be learned from it, what can be done about it? I don’t think I really understand the difference between nipping it in the bud and repressing it. Many emotions recur automatically unless I take action to either dismiss them or redirect my attention elsewhere. I am not comfortable with this because it seems akin to repression, but I don’t know any other way to dispense with the feelings. Any tips would be appreciated.
VINEETO: In my experience with the actualism method, I didn’t nip many emotions in the bud until I was certain that the whole issue that brought on the emotion had been examined and clearly understood.
By neither repressing nor expressing an emotion I have opportunity to ask some investigative questions, either in the situation, if I am not too upset, or some time afterwards when the worst of the storm has passed. My questions go something like this – what brought on the emotional reaction, what is the underlying cause, what is the reoccurring theme, what is the belief behind it, what is it I particularly hold dear that caused my getting upset, what part of my identity feels insulted, threatened, annoyed, etc., what action do I possibly need to take in order to prevent a reoccurring of my upset, and finally, what part of ‘me’ do I need to let go of in order to permanently become free from this particular emotional reaction?
Some emotional reactions I could easily dismiss as being plain silly such as complaints about the weather, about obstacles in the traffic, about people being late, and so on. These situations merely needed a change of attitude, some attentiveness to stop the old habit and then the emotion would not occur again by my sheer determination not to let such trivia bug me. For those issues that needed no further inquiry, nipping any upcoming emotional reaction in the bud was the perfect and only sensible solution.
Other issues took more inquisitiveness, attentiveness, guts and intent to look at the uncomfortable dark side of ‘me’ in order to get to the bottom of reoccurring emotional reactions. For instance, when I first met Peter I had a lot of male-female issues that caused me to get upset which could only be resolved by me finding out the facts of the matter and then letting go of my various idea, opinions, beliefs and feelings around being a woman, i.e. my social identity of being a woman.
Another area that needed extensive exploration had to do with my feelings of love and loyalty for my former spiritual teacher. I began to inch my way into slowly questioning the sensibility of being loyal in the face of blatant contradictions between his teachings and his behaviour and his promises and the actual outcome of practicing his teachings, but for a while each time someone else said something against him I flared up, so much so that for the first 3 months Peter and I agreed to not talk about ‘the war’. It was clear for me that this could only be a temporary measure and I steadily proceeded with finding out the facts of the matter despite my reoccurring feelings of fear, doubt, suspicion, defensiveness, treachery and abandonment that this course of action could sometimes create. Those feelings only permanently disappeared when I managed to irrevocably let go of my identity of being a follower, a member of the clan, a worshipper and lover of a Godman, a New-Age goody-two-shoes and a spiritual seeker and believer.
From those two examples you can see that the actualism method is not a superficial tool to make bad feeling go away – it is, when used correctly, a powerful instrument for radical, i.e. eradicating, change. It’s my identity I willingly let go of when I apply attentiveness and understanding and as a consequence the feelings that were produced and maintained by the respective parts of my identity also disappear.
As an analogy, you could say that the good and bad feelings are only the tip of the iceberg, the tangible aspect of one’s identity. As such, when I pay increasing attention as to how I experience this moment of being alive, increasing parts of the iceberg, ‘me’, come to the surface – and this is a necessary process if one is to bring one’s ‘self’ to the light for progressive dissolution.
RESPONDENT: Hi everybody, to me the question HAIETMOBA? Has no meaning whatsoever. <snip>
VINEETO: If you have no interest in finding out how you are experiencing this moment of being alive, then of course this question has no meaning to you.
RESPONDENT: This HAIETMOBA is nothing new, is just a new name of passive awareness. A new name just to give the impression that something new is discovered. That’s all.
VINEETO: Asking oneself sincerely, each moment again ‘how am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ with the intent to become free of malice and sorrow is anything but passive. First of all you deliberately and actively take the decision to make being happy and harmless the most important thing in your life. This decision is integral to the method of actualism – in other words if you don’t want to become unconditionally happy and unconditionally harmless then you ain’t practicing actualism.
This is the method of actualism broken down in small steps –
This is how one begins to become free from one’s social conditioning, one’s morals and ethics in order to be able to experience and be able to observe the bare instinctual passions but this alone will increase the enjoyment and appreciation of being alive immensely. Becoming free from one’s social conditioning is the necessary preliminary step before one begins to explore the animal instinctual survival passions.
However, as long as you are firmly convinced, despite reading the posts from the Actual Freedom mailing list for almost 2 years, that ‘HAIETMOBA is nothing new’ then nothing I have said so far and nothing I will say in future will be of use to you.
RESPONDENT: The practical investigation involved in the actualist method, from what I understand, depends on common sense and discerning facts from beliefs, as well as pure intent from the a PCE, and the PCE itself. Can someone get rid of their conditioning while not having seen that the self is a hallucination, as experienced in a PCE?
VINEETO: One can certainly begin to dismantle one’s conditioning without remembering having experienced a PCE.
One of the first parts of my social identity I examined thoroughly was my female role in the man-woman relationship, which I have described in ‘A Bit of Vineeto’ in Peters Journal. In my investigation I started with my problem of pining, examining why I did not feel happy and whole without the man I loved, dug into my gender conditioning of feeling and believing that I was not complete as a human being in my own right without having partner in life, and eventually discovered the Cinderella-like dream programmed into me since childhood. I did not stop my inquiry until I got to the very root of the problem, my identity as a woman in relationship to a man. I was then faced with the decision of hanging onto my dream or making a conscious decision to abandon the dream and with it a chunk of my female identity and then be able to relate to the flesh-and-blood person I was living with instead of seeing him as the man of my archetypal dream.
This particular investigation happened before I had a complete understanding of the full scope of actualism and a couple of months before I had my first PCE. However, it is my experience that the more one successfully inquires into one’s social conditioning and the more one abandons one’s beliefs, morals, ethics, social roles and cultural taboos, the more likely it becomes that a tear will occur in the fabric of one’s identity, which then can enable a pure consciousness experience to take place.
RESPONDENT: Are facts concerning the self exclusive knowledge to actualists who believe or know that the self is not real?
VINEETO: I think No 60 had a good point in his answer to you – the belief that the ‘self’ is not real can turn into an obstacle if one maintains it as a belief. Having said that I also remember that, whenever fears or objections loomed which threatened to prevent me from investigating further, it was helpful to remind myself that it was my identity in action – and not actuality.
RESPONDENT: Can you blame spiritualists for believing nonsense if they have not had or recall a PCE?
VINEETO: I don’t blame spiritualist for believing nonsense – I was a nonsense-believing spiritualist myself for most of my adult life. But now that I am free of these beliefs I simply call a spade a spade and nonsense I call nonsense. To do anything less would be to do a disservice to any of my fellow human beings who are also interested in becoming free of their spiritual beliefs.
RESPONDENT: In general I find it makes sense that the self does not have any actuality, but that doesn’t mean that I am any more sure of it than theologians convictions and arguments about the existence of God.
VINEETO: The non-existence of ‘me’ as an actuality makes sense because it is an experience that everybody has had at some stage in their life albeit one that most people only have a very vague whiff of a memory tucked away in the mist of early childhood.
The existence of God, however, does not make sense – god is a product of fervent imagination and even devout theologians cannot answer all the questions that arise from the mysteriousness of God’s supposed nonsensical qualities. But the belief in God has a certain emotional appeal for most people – for ‘me’ as an identity it might be comforting to believe in a creator and protector god because ‘I’, by ‘my’ very nature, am lost, lonely and frightened and very cunning.
RESPONDENT: So are matters of investigating conditioning dependent on being able to say ‘I have seen that the self is not real’ and getting a clearer perspective on the issue from there? I find that if I didn’t know that the self was not real, I would not be able to think clearly when I investigate various topics.
VINEETO: In a way this question is now irrelevant because you have already said that
As such you can use this intellectual understanding to practically question the actuality of ‘you’ in action whenever ‘good’ and ‘bad’ feelings prevent you from being happy and harmless. In the moment of my decision to let go of the Cinderella dream ‘I’, the ‘self’, felt to be very real and what helped me to become free from this part of my identity was not the knowledge that the ‘self’ is not an actuality but my intent and determination to get rid of my feelings of pining and dependency whatever the cost.
After the decision of course I knew that what had felt so very real was not actual because it had disappeared without a trace. In other words, when I found that I could do without a part of my self that was causing me to be unhappy and in doing so I felt more happy and more free, it became more obvious to me that whilst ‘I’ don’t exist as a physical actuality, ‘I’ am real in that ‘I’ manifest myself as malicious and sorrowful feelings. If you are interested in having an experiential understanding of how ‘you’ operate then there is only one way to do it and that is to do it – thinking about it is not the same as doing it.
RESPONDENT: However, earlier in my investigative process I did not recall a PCE, but saw that Richard’s written experiences made sense, and that upon looking for the self the oft-repeated bit ‘you are your feelings and your feelings are you’ rang true. But still at that point, and I’m not 100% sure at this point, could I say ‘I have seen that the self is not real’.
VINEETO: I found that it was useful to have a good intellectual grasp, as in making sense, of the actualism process and the information involved before I began to translate the theory into practice. However, I was never a great fan of theories and particularly in the case of actualism I was eager to apply what I had understood in order to become more happy and less antagonistic towards others as soon as possible … and the more I practically applied myself to the investigation the more I theoretically understood what Richard was talking about.
This is no different than learning anything new – read up a bit on the theory, read through the instruction manual, try it out, learn by trial and error, check back with the manual if needed, if you get stuck then ask questions of someone with more expertise, keep at it until you develop a certain level of competence and then all of a sudden it all makes sense and you find yourself doing it effortlessly. Learning anything new requires an initial interest, then the intent to do it and the rest is application, diligence, patience and perseverance.
As such you could say ‘I have seen that the self is not real’ as an intellectual understanding which will then give you the confidence and the courage to go ahead and confirm this understanding as an actuality – first by questioning certain aspects of your ‘self’ and not being distracted by the smoke-screen ‘you’ will inevitably produce, and then by the happening of a ‘self’-less pure consciousness experience.