Selected Correspondence Vineeto
Pure Consciousness Experience
GARY: Yesterday I had the first really clear and unequivocal PCE since starting with this and I thought to write about it a bit. Previously, I had had what I call ‘mini-PCEs’. They lasted only very brief periods of time, say an hour or so, and I wasn’t really sure it was a PCE. Yesterday, however, I had no doubt at all about the experience, as it accorded in all details with what I have read about PCEs.
I had some trouble at work on Friday. There was a major disagreement between I and my supervisor over something that happened. There was some discussion about it, and some old fears of mine concerning work, authority, success, etc. came up for me. I found myself in some turmoil about these issues and, investigating deeper into it, I once again saw the futility of a feeling-based life, a so-called ‘normal’ life of sorrow, malice, nurture, and desire. On Saturday morning, I wrote in my journal to myself what I would do to bring about peace-on-earth, for myself and others. A little later, I sat in my chair and was still for quite awhile.
The PCE experience started there and continued for the rest of the day, at times most vividly, at other times diminishing somewhat, but always lustrous, vibrant, and rich. One of the things I noticed most strongly was the intensity of sensation – the clearness and brilliance of colours, and the ability to hear every little sound around me. We went to a gravel pit after breakfast and were just walking around, looking at the rocks and other natural features. We found some bear tracks and were examining those for a while. I saw a stone popping out of the ground that had some interesting features to it. I ran my hand along the exposed top of it and it felt to be alive. Similarly, the texture and surface of the stone appeared to be actually a living thing. It reminded me of psychedelic drug experiences I had when I was younger, except that it was natural and uncontaminated by any emotions of fright, fear, doubt, etc. Later on we went to the supermarket to do the week’s shopping.
Another thing I noticed about the experience was how any object, even the most ordinary and mundane, instantly had become amazingly interesting and wonderful to look at. Everything I looked at had a life of its own. Everything appeared fresh and new. Everywhere I looked there were sensual delights to behold. Another thing was that there was some kind of very pleasurable sensation located near the solar plexus region. I find this difficult to convey but it was a very satisfying visceral sensation. I shall have to, in future, see what I can notice about it.
VINEETO: What serendipity. I remember at the beginning of my path to Actual Freedom, PCEs would often occur when I had dug my teeth right into a topic and there was no turning left or right, because all the ‘tried’ had failed and my usual escapes were simply too embarrassing to me. Finding myself between a rock and hard place with the grim intent to find the solution to my particular puzzle at the time – for instance ‘what about God’, I experienced a suddenly ‘whoosh’ and a veil in my perception opened to reveal the actual world where everything was imminently clear, obvious and self-evident. At other times PCEs would sneak up on me, so to speak, when life was easy and carefree, pleasurable and delightful and I suddenly noticed the magical quality that makes the PCE stand out from feeling excellent. You have described the difference really well in your letter to Richard.
I found it useful to gather as much descriptive memory from my PCEs to have a touchstone for what my aim is, and I also look for as much information as possible about the various aspects of my ‘self’ while having a PCE. Standing outside the ‘self’ in a PCE, so to speak, lets me see clearly and without doubt what facet of ‘me’ I want to tackle next, what overall understanding about the human condition I can extract, what part of my ‘self’ I am stuck with or how it all works both in me and in humanity as a whole. Most of the stunning insights that happened in my early PCEs about Human Nature and my conditioning have now been forgotten, as all of the realizations and understandings are integrated in my daily life and are experienced as normal as going shopping. All the seemingly complex realizations and understandings about the human psychology and psyche had only one purpose – to get out of it, to leave it behind.
VINEETO: As I said above, in order to understand what Actual Freedom is about it is essential to remember a pure consciousness experience. It is vital to investigate precisely those ‘direct experiences’, and determine when and where and how the experience is being polluted by the ‘self’, by the feeling and spirit-ual interpretation of the actual sensate, sensuous experience. It is a fascinating adventure to explore one’s sensate experiences with the magnifying glass of attentiveness and heightened awareness and to discover the ingredients that invariably occur to stop or prevent one’s direct experience of the actual world.
GARY: I selected this excerpt because it reminded me of some of the questions I have about the PCE. I was wondering yesterday what made the experience fade away or diminish. Conversely, I found that I could refresh the experience by running the ‘How am I...’ question and by increased attentiveness to the feelings that contaminated the experience. A couple of times, the experience would come back in full bloom in all its’ lustrousness. The PCE stands out in such dramatic contrast to ordinary, every-day perception and sensation. I wonder if, as one advances on the path to Actual Freedom, they become more frequent, more a part of the landscape, so to speak? Or are they relatively rare? I gather from what Richard writes that his experiencing is like having a permanent PCE 24/7. How wonderful that must be! Which reminds me of another key feature of the experience – no affective element, no feelings, no disturbance whatsoever-there was nothing that could disturb the experience, take anything away from it, or detract from it. In other words, there was no feeling ‘me’ to spoil the experience.
VINEETO: Yes, how amazing. It is great news – a confirmation that actualism works for another human being via reading the words when the information is combined with the stubborn and sincere intent to find out for oneself. As the actual world is already always here one is bound to stumble upon it by diligently removing the obstacles in front of one’s ‘psychic eyes’ that we have inherited by default – through no fault of ours.
As for the frequency of PCEs I cannot make a definite statement. By the very nature of the process the PCEs of my first year of actualism stand out in my memory because they were in stark contrast to the emotional turmoil and the mental confusion that was then my normal state of mind. Now, as life has become infinitely better to the point of being virtually perfect, PCEs are rather rare, silently sneaking up and softly disappearing and only a few stand out in my memory as a stunning experience. When and how and why PCE occur is one of the things in actualism that I cannot make sense of yet and maybe never will. I have a few guesses as to why the intensity and frequency of PCEs has changed – one reason could be that I expect my final extinction to happen at any time and this expectation causes ‘me’ to be on guard. Another speculation is that PCEs are a glitch in the brain-circuit and, as the brain becomes rewired, those glitches, born out of contrast, are less frequent. A third option is that PCEs now vanish out of memory the moment they are over. However, as there are no records about the ‘workings’ of PCEs in actualism other than reports from Peter, Alan and me, this is simply not enough information for a scientific judgement. Frequency and memory of PCEs could merely be a personal attribute.
However, excellence is definitely a stable part ‘of the landscape’. There is hardly any interruption now in being excellent, having a perfect day, every day – only once in a while I get to work out some emotional hiccup.
Gary, I don’t know if that answers your questions or if my information is of any use to you. With your own outstanding PCE you are now becoming your own expert and it will be your reports that are contributing to the research we are conducting on the project of ‘Freedom from the Human Condition’. It’s the latest science, people simply have not twigged to it yet...
GARY: I used to get a bit confused by actualist’s descriptions of ‘feeling good’, ‘feeling fine’, and ‘feeling excellent’, and tried to differentiate how this contrasted with other feeling and emotional states because after all ‘feelings are feelings’. I still cannot determine if the feeling-good part of the so-called excellence experience or PCE is a feeling or a sensation. My memory of PCEs I have had is that there is certain exhilaration associated with it. Not a manic type high at all, or even a drug-like euphoria, but there certainly is an exhilarating, ever-fresh, yes, vividness is a good word, and there is an exceptional clarity to it all which is the chief difference so far as I am concerned. The PCE is characterized by an incredible clarity of perception and sensation. The most ordinary and mundane objects are fascinating in their own right and everything is imbued with a clarity and liveliness that is missing in the ordinary ‘normal’ state. So the experience itself must be one chiefly of sensuousness and not emotion. Nevertheless one can speak of ‘feeling excellent’ as the word ‘feeling’ can also refer to the faculty of sensation. I’ve probably taken something here and over-complicated it all, but I thought I would mention it. When both bad and good feelings disappear, something so exceptional happens that everything else pales by comparison. The realization that ‘I’ am the only thing standing in the way of this magical perfection and purity turns what is initially an interest into a full-time obsession to experience the best that life on this planet can offer.
VINEETO: Only in a pure consciousness experience is my feeling-fed self temporarily absent. The rest of the time ‘I’ am a feeling being, however inconspicuous. ‘My’ best choice is to feel good – or to feel excellent – which is the closest I can get to experience the world as it is. Feeling excellent means that no specific emotion spoils my experience of the day, thinking only happens when needed for the particular action I am involved in, my senses are heightened compared to normal-day reality and I immensely enjoy simply being alive. However, a simmering hesitation, a vague holding back, an awareness of a controller, a slight sense of ‘me’ lurking in the background marks a very noticeable difference to a ‘self-less’ experience.
A PCE, as you have described it, is not a feeling-experience. It is magical purity, experiencing everything in its directness, a stillness that has always been here, with psychedelic colours and glimmering textures, distinctly multi-layered sounds, sensations without filter and I am aware of sensately and reflectively experiencing the world and I am also aware of being aware. This apperception adds the depth and magic to everything experienced, fear disappears and I am no longer separate from the universe that lives me. For me, a PCE always starts as if a curtain rips in my head that then opens the view to this magical wondrous being here.
VINEETO: 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.
GARY: It is most striking when determined and ‘persistent inquiry’ of this sort triggers a PCE. Each time this happens, I see with renewed clarity how the affective and psychic entity prevents and precludes the experiencing of the purity and pristineness of the actual world.
VINEETO: Yes, at such times it is often like going deep into a dark tunnel of unexplored passions and then suddenly coming out the other end where everything has always been perfect and benign.
It is my ongoing conundrum how not only to weaken but to permanently switch off the magnetic force that inevitably sucks be back into being ‘me’ after a PCE.
VINEETO: 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.
GARY: Seeing my identity in action in a similar way to you can fuel my intent, can it not? If I see clearly what is getting in the way of living in peace and harmony, in other words the ‘downside’ to affective feelings, then would that not tend to spur my intent to be free from those very things that get in the way?
VINEETO: The comparison between a pure consciousness experience and my every day living experience certainly spurs me on. Seeing and understanding, over and over, the ‘‘downside’ to affective feelings’, as you say, does indeed weaken the magnetism of being ‘me’. However, I think that you need to have the firm intent to live in genuine peace, whatever the price, in order to be motivated to question and explore your identity and find out ‘what is getting in the way of living in peace and harmony’. Then the potent combination of sincerity, naiveté and wonder will tip the balance towards making ‘the already always existing peace-on-earth become apparent’, as Richard said to No 37.
Seeing similarities between your social/instinctual identity and others certainly gives you confidence as to the accuracy and veracity of your investigations, but what spurred me on was success in becoming more happy and, even more importantly, more harmless. Experiencing that the actualism pactice demonstrably works over a substantial period of time and in all down-to-earth conditions then incrementally turns confidence into surety.
GARY: Does the intent lead to a PCE or do you think something else is happening?
VINEETO: There are the spontaneous PCEs that everyone experiences at some point in their lives, which I explain as a spontaneous temporary glitch in the instinctual programming that allows the perception to be purely sensate and thinking to be free from any affective influences. These PCEs seem to be more frequent in childhood when the identity is not yet set in concrete, so to speak.
However, when a person has a good dose of sincerity, sufficient enough to re-awaken his or her naiveté, then he or she may develop an intent to live the purity, peace and wonder they have experienced in such rare moments of ‘self’-lessness as often as possible – i.e. it takes naiveté to devote one’s life to becoming happy and harmless. Only then, the memory of a spontaneously occurring PCE spurs me on to demolish the elaborate and firmly consolidated edifice of my ‘self’ in order to facilitate pure consciousness experiences happening again and again.
You could compare it to living in a securely air-tightened bunker when suddenly a crack appears in the wall and brings in some pure sweet fresh air … and suddenly the whole bunker disappears along with ‘me’. The bunker eventually reassembles itself and the crack is automatically repaired – a process due to the ‘self’-sustaining nature of the social-instinctual programming. It is then up to ‘me’, the one who thinks and feels to be in that bunker, to either wait for another accidental crack – akin to waiting for Godot – or to actively do something so as to experience the magical actual world again. In other words, when the PCE fades, ‘I’ then have to get on with the moment-to-moment business at hand – to demolish the very structure that is ‘me’.
A weakened and less ‘self’-centred structure of ‘me’ certainly provides more opportunities for ‘cracks’, i.e. PCEs, but all of ‘me’ needs to be extinguished in order that those ‘cracks’ don’t automatically ‘self’-repair and yet again shut out the splendour and purity of the actual world.
VINEETO: It is my ongoing conundrum how not only to weaken but to permanently switch off the magnetic force that inevitably sucks me back into being ‘me’ after a PCE.
GARY: I was curious about your use of the word ‘conundrum’, but I see that it is indeed a puzzle of the highest sort. Peter advised me to pay particular attention to what happens during a PCE to cause it to diminish and fade. This has been most difficult to do, but it can be done. It is an ongoing ‘work in progress’.
VINEETO: Is this the piece of Peter’s posts that you are referring to?
Peter suggested investigating what causes a period of feeling excellent to fade, not what causes a PCE to fade. A PCE by its very nature is a temporary experience, i.e. such experiences inevitably fade, they don’t need a cause to fade. As such, I can never determine what exactly causes a PCE to fade; I simply experience this fading as the unavoidable effect of being a ‘self’ – the ‘magnetic force’ of ‘me’.
It is one thing to experience ‘self’-lessness for a temporary period of time as in a PCE, it is quite another to permanently abdicate the throne. The act of ‘self’-immolation is not the act of prolonging a PCE indefinitely – they are two distinctly separate experiences. A PCE is a temporary-only experience of the actual world whereas ‘self’-immolation is a once-only event that brings an irrevocable end to my very ‘being’. (...)
GARY: I am also interested in what happens when investigation of particular affective feeling leads to the disappearance of that feeling and what causes it to come back. In my experience, it seems that certain issues come up again and again at times. I keep thinking that because they come back, I must have missed something in my investigation into them.
VINEETO: Despite the fact that I had experienced in a PCE a completely non-spiritual material-only universe that was utterly majestic and magnificent, I still had to whittle away at a lot of aspects of my belief in something other than this physical actual world. In fact, I am still at it because ‘I’ am, by my very nature, non-physical, non-actual and therefore spiritual. In the beginning I also often thought that I had missed something when a feeling or an issue returned but the longer I study the human condition in me, and the more I observe other people, the more I come to understand the perversity and the deeply ingrained structure of ‘me’, the psychological/psychic being that is a direct product of this ancient animal survival program. An estimated one million years of human history – dependent upon somewhat whimsical speculations as to the transition from animal-only to animal-human is an enormous heritage to unravel.
In the light of the extent and density of this programming, when a bit of the million-year old social programming or the billions-of-years old animal instinctual programming resurfaces, I came to understand that I haven’t necessarily missed something, I simply can’t understand it all or take it all in, at once. You could also say that one inevitably misses something the first time round in an investigation because particular issues have many aspects and many layers that are not all apparent at the first examination.
GARY: Your thoughts on this are most helpful. It is a hard thing for me to pinpoint what happens to cause a PCE to dimmer and fade, but essentially it always involves some ‘self’-centred, egocentric experience to take the fore, whether by dint of fear, apprehensiveness, and often (I think) a deep and abiding terror of extinction. Once ‘I’ realize that I am no longer needed, ‘I’ dig my heels in ever deeper and cling passionately to my ‘job’ which is to survive. There are indeed many layers to this thing, and as usual I think I may have berated myself for ‘missing’ something, when the many layers and the density of this programming is to a large extent unconscious and hidden from view. Many of my discoveries while practising Actualism have been serendipitous ... a bit like spontaneous happenings, and sudden realizations in unguarded moments about the nature of ‘me’ and how ‘I’ stand in the way of perfection.
This is not to say that there has not been hard effort and diligent persistence involved – a bit like wresting civilization from the wilderness, a deliberate hacking away and toiling to clear the ground. It seems to work in tandem.
VINEETO: I can very well relate to what you describe as ‘a deep and abiding terror of extinction’. The trick that often helps me turn this terror into excitement is to remember that ‘I’ have a voluntary mission which is far more dignifying that ‘my’ survival – ‘I’ am to bring about peace-on-earth by vacating the throne, permanently. And although sometimes I feel as though I am only inching my way closer to ‘my’ destiny, I do recognize that I am making progress. I only need to look back at how I used to experience life a few years back to know this is a fact.
And yes, unexpected insights and PCEs and deliberate exploration of ‘me’ do indeed ‘work in tandem.’ The serendipitous events happen when I again and again discover the already existing peace on earth in this wondrous and magnificent and not-passive universe. As the master wordsmith describes –
RESPONDENT: Could this PCE that is used as the goal be just a state brought on by delusion of some spiritual teachings including Richard’s? I.e. I want it so I’ll invent it.
VINEETO: Once you have experienced a PCE you don’t have to ask that question. A PCE is characterized by the – temporary – complete absence of any ‘self’ whatsoever, including your faculty of feeling and imagination. You can’t invent the actual world – it is already here. A tree is a tree, I can’t invent it. I am this flesh and blood body, and it is obvious that I can perfectly live without a ‘self’. After feeling and imagining has ceased completely, the actual world becomes apparent. A bit like taking one’s grey and rose-coloured glasses off and seeing the world for the first time. One experiences perfection and purity, no separation from the things and people around, but neither love nor bliss are felt as in the feeling-induced spiritual experiences.
Here is a joke that conveys very well the very, very cunning ‘entity’ that we are, when we refuse to take off the grey and rose-coloured glasses:
RESPONDENT: I don’t agree here, a vague memory of a distant PCE is nothing compared to the conditioning of ‘me’ with emotions and imagination. A PCE does point out though, the possibility of living a better quality of life, a standard to strive for.
VINEETO: In a PCE you experience the actual world of ease and perfection which might tempt you too, not to stop at second best.
See, No 3, for me it was the stunning, shocking and eye-opening experience of the PCE that kept me going when the investigation brought up sinister, fierce, embarrassing or otherwise uncomfortable feelings. When the floor rocked under my feet, when I had yet again lost the ground of beliefs I thought I was standing on – the memory of peak-experience reassured me that I was on the right track. I knew the direction that I was heading for, I knew the purity I was aiming for and I knew that nothing could go wrong. In a peak-experience you know that the only thing that is ‘wrong’ is ‘you’, the alien ‘self’ – nibble away the ‘self’ and nothing can go wrong – you inevitable end up in the actual world – the only danger is you can ground on the Rock Enlightenment...
RESPONDENT: This sounds a bit idealistic. Say I am facing fear but am holding on to the memory of a PCE. The memory of a PCE can be a suitable distraction for a self-response that doesn’t want to face those emotions. Those emotion are, after all, the bread and butter of ‘me’. Years of being imprisoned as a self plus the experience of freedom is enough to want to be free.
VINEETO: What is this experience of freedom, if it is not a PCE? How do you know that you are looking for an actual freedom if you have never experienced it? How do you distinguish between a possible mental construct, maybe called ‘absolute permanent freedom’, and the experience of living here, at this moment, fresh, sparkling, alive and free from the Human Condition? A PCE is not ‘a suitable distraction’, it is your landmark, your goal, your burning desire, when fear and confusion threaten to overwhelm you and hold you back. A PCE is what gives you the daring to call a belief a belief, even if the whole world insists on it being a truth. Unless you know what you are aiming for, you will get lost in the labyrinth of the very cunning entity of the ‘self’.
RESPONDENT: Although, the suggested method of trying to recall a PCE to get out of stuckness only helped in that it brought the obstacle into focus.
VINEETO: This is great success, don’t you think? To have ‘brought the obstacle into focus’ and to know what the obstacle is about which keeps you in ‘stuckness’ is an excellent starting position for investigation. Now this obstacle can be identified, labelled and experientially explored, using apperceptiveness to detect its reasons, connections, source and implications. This has nothing to do with the Buddhist method (Vipassana) of labelling a feeling and then dis-identifying from it. 180 degrees opposite again. An actualist labels the feeling to get the bugger by the throat, to explore it as a scientist, to check out its silliness or sensibility, to determine how it is part of the Human Condition and then, when all is said and done, to permanently step out of having that emotion. This final stepping out often results in a pure consciousness experience.
Last night I was contemplating about Alan’s description of his ‘reflective contemplations’, ‘practising the actual’ and arriving here in the actual world and how this records with my experience. Further Alan says:
Recalling step by step my own process into a PCE last night I found that contemplation serves to focus on the direction – being happy, dismantling the self, comprehending enough of the real world in order to see the self in operation and to step out of it. Contemplation always helps to focus on and remove obstacles and then, with no feeling or belief interfering I can build up the sensuous awareness of this moment of being alive. The wind on the skin, the sounds around, the wiggling of my toe, visual delights, tastes and smells ... Increasing sensuousness tips over into gay abandon, the self as both the controller and the feeler are abandoned and bingo ... I am experiencing what I had previously only reflectively contemplated about – this moment of being alive as a flesh and blood body only.
The gay abandon can, of course, also happen without the reflective part, as a nature experience, in sex or any time when sensual pleasure is sensuous enough to tip over into the self-less experience of being alive as a flesh and blood body only.
RESPONDENT: If I look back at last 6 months, since when I become interested in actualism, it looks like that it has generated more unhappiness than happiness. I was living a cool life with ordinary happiness. May be a bit dull but still happy most of the time. But when I read about actualism, I understood that I was living only on beliefs and not on facts. This disturbed me. Of course it presented another challenge and promised that something beyond this ordinary happiness exists – but now I realise that this is another belief I got into.
VINEETO: I told you my story of the first few months of actual freedom to make it clear that without the intense search to solve my paradoxical situation of having two beliefs – the spiritual conviction and the then-belief of actualism – I would not been able to prepare the ground for, and thus facilitate, my first major peak experience. As I see it from hindsight, my pure consciousness experience only occurred because of my intense questioning and investigation into the nature of my spiritual beliefs. The word ‘PCE’ contains the word ‘pure’, a purity from one’s beliefs and feelings for this particular time, a purity from the very substance of ‘self’. It is well documented that a PCE often occurs after a particular shocking or dis-orienting experience, and I had actively caused that situation in myself by questioning beliefs and daring to look at facts squarely in the eye!
I was at a point where I was willing to question ALL my beliefs, whatever the outcome, because I had understood that this was the only way out of my dilemma, hanging between two opposing choices as to what to do with my life. I had no way to figure out the ‘right’ thing to do, because there was no authority that could point out the direction for me. There was no moral, ethical or ultimate spiritual value that I considered ‘true’ enough to rely on for a decision. I figured that ‘truth’, as I called it then, could not be something that one has to support by believing it or trusting it. It has to be something so obvious, so evident and reproducible that it can stand for itself.
The intensity of wanting to find that which could withstand all questioning, made me ready for the eye-opening break-through, tearing open and dissolving the curtain of my passionate beliefs that had blinkered my perception, obscured my clarity and prevented me from seeing the actual.
The PCE did not appear out of the blue by the grace of ‘Existence’ to be leisurely compared to my ancient spiritual beliefs – it was born out of my intent to find a way out of the need to believe and to find a solution to my failure to be happy and free. There was already a rip in the curtain, so to speak, of my nicely settled, second-rate existence, and that rip widened dangerously with every questioned emotion, belief or ‘truth’. It got so big that it became un-patchable and then, despite my fears, I thought: ‘Well, let it rip, I can’t hold it together anymore’ ... You’ll find the continuation of the story in ‘A Bit of Vineeto’ on our website.
RESPONDENT: I have experienced many mini-PCEs and very slightly a PCE …
VINEETO: Given that a PCE is the lodestone for an actualist by which to determine the difference between the actual world and the normal experience of ‘self’, I found it essential to be particularly careful not to blur the distinction between feeling excellent or feeling exceptionally happy and having a ‘self’-less experience. In a PCE a new magic dimension opens that was hidden by the presence of ‘me’ and the actual world is experienced in its brilliance and wonder. In distinction, when I am simply feeling excellent or feeling exceptionally happy, I can detect upon close attention either a grey or rosy veil that lies between ‘me’ and the crisp radiance and sparkle of the actual world.
Only a ‘self’-less PCE is the genuine article, and it is so outstanding, so perfect, so obviously the way I want to live for the rest of my life. A while ago we had some discussions on this list about differentiating one’s experiences. You can find them in the library under ‘Excellence Experience’ with the links to related discussions.
RESPONDENT: Thank you for clearing up the confusion I had about PCEs and feeling excellent; there definitely was a ‘Self’ in the experiences I went through, but they were sooo good ... now I am having trouble trying to experience it again.
VINEETO: There are plenty of references about pure consciousness experiences and how to facilitate them in The Actual Freedom Trust Library in Richard’s selected correspondence. Here is one such example from Richard’s journal –
… and another from his correspondence –
Personally, what eventuated my first major pure consciousness experience was that I wanted to know, without any smidgen of a doubt, the difference between belief and actuality. I wanted to know by experience that which exists outside of my own head and heart, or other people’s heads and hearts, that which actually exists as opposed to that which is merely a man-made or woman-made belief, feeling, opinion, theory or concept.
This single-pointed passion for what I then called ‘discovering the truth’ caused the veil of my beliefs to rip and lead me to discover the actual world – unspoiled by human-made feelings or beliefs, devoid of malice and sorrow, pure, benign, blithe and ever-now.
RESPONDENT: There is something else I would like to ask, when Richard says,
couldn’t he do this with you and Peter, when anyone one of you is experiencing a PCE? Or maybe you and Peter also when and if you have a PCE at the same time? Actual Freedom and PCEs are the same in quality, aren’t they? The only difference is one is permanent and the other temporary, would this be right?
VINEETO: A PCE is significantly different from an actual freedom from the human condition because a PCE can only ever be a temporary experience whereas an actual freedom is permanently ongoing and irreversible. I have many times experienced the actual world in a pure consciousness experience but once the ‘self’ returns as the PCE fades away, the purity and benignity of the actual world also fades and becomes but a memory. A PCE is something special for me because I know it can disappear any moment – it is only a holiday from ‘self’. Whereas Richard, being permanently devoid of the burden of being a ‘self’, is this infinite and perfect physical universe experiencing itself as a sensate, reflective human being.
RESPONDENT: I have been thoroughly enjoying and what more, benefiting by all the recent discussions in the list. Thanks to No 38 and No 37. And as always, to Richard, Vineeto, Gary and Peter.
I wanted to add my observation. There is a clear dichotomy as to what is actual and what is not in the actualist’s writings (Richard, Vineeto, Peter). And they have no use for what is not actual, which is only there to be exposed. And what is actual is arrived through PCE, not logical reasoning, though the latter is an aid. Is this correct? I noted this particularly in the dialogue between No 37 and Richard where No 37 tries to bring out the good aspects of imagination, whereas Richard has no use for it, as he is with the actual, which is more delightful and malice-sorrow free. More than logically seeing why ‘not actual’ is not so good (though seeing logically can be useful), it seems to be important to see that the ‘actual’ is beyond comparison with the other.
VINEETO: Yes, and the only way to understand what is actual beyond doubt is to remember one of your pure consciousness experiences, which everybody has had at some time in their lives. It could even be a memory of childhood when one experiences the world, very often nature, as magical, sparkling, vibrant, abundant and pristine.
I remember when I was about 8 years old and strolling through the meadow behind my parent’s house. It was summertime and the grass was about chest-height for an eight-year-old, the summer flowers were in full bloom and the grass itself was blooming. I lay down and completely disappeared in the high grass and all I could see were the tips of the swaying grass and the clouds drifting by in the sky. Everything was perfect, there were no worries in the world and I was engulfed by the magic of the meadow and the sky.
Later on I tried to have this same experience again, by simply lying down in the grass and I thought that I couldn’t have the same experience because the grass wasn’t the right height. No matter what time of the year I tried, I didn’t manage to repeat the same innocent, carefree and delightful experience that I had on that particular day. Only when I learnt about actual freedom and understood the difference between a pure consciousness experience, normal every-day experience and a spiritual experience, did I understand that on this particular day I had a glimpse of the perfection and purity of the actual world.
There are a few simple guidelines to recognize a PCE when you remember one. In a pure consciousness experience, your senses are heightened and you experience peace and wellbeing that comes from the absence of ‘me’, worrying about ‘my’ survival. There might also be a sense of déja-vu as you realize that ‘I have always been here as this flesh-and-blood body’ and everything in this actual world has always been perfect, is perfect now and always will be perfect. The critical difference to any spiritual experience of altered states is that in a PCE there is a complete absence of any feelings of awe, gratitude, beauty, love or grandeur. For reference you can check out various descriptions of pure consciousness experiences where several people have described their PCEs.
RESPONDENT: What follows is a ramble. Would be delighted if you respond, of course. Emotion backed thoughts. Feelings. Emotions. Instincts. Instinctual passions. Thoughts. Beliefs. Thinker and Feeler and Social Identity and Instinctual Self. Apperception. Are all these things demonstrably distinct?
VINEETO: Given that Richard has answered your questions in detail, let me just add my understanding of how apperception works. As you continuously ask yourself ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’ you are adding attention and awareness to whatever it is you are thinking and feeling this very moment. You become more and more aware not only of what you feel and think but also how your thoughts and feelings originate from and are maintained by your identity, both your social identity and your instinctual ‘being’.
The more you become aware of your feelings as they are occurring and your underlying identity, the weaker your identity becomes, which in turn frees your awareness for sensuous perception that was previously stifled. At some point there is so much awareness freed of its normal ‘self’-centredness that you are able to be both aware of everything that is happening and of this awareness in operation as well – and to be aware of being aware is apperception and apperception is what happens in a pure consciousness experience.
A PCE occurs when, for whatever reason, a ‘self’-less awareness is operating and awareness that is freed of the burden of ‘me’ becomes aware of itself. This is sometimes actuated either through a physically dangerous event like an accident, through a sudden shock, through drug use or an unusual relaxing experience like a nature experience. The actualism method – continuous and extensive attention, observation and questioning of ‘who’ you feel and think you are – is designed to increase awareness and facilitate apperception not only as a one-off event but as a more and more inevitable outcome of increased attentiveness.
RESPONDENT: There are momentary glimpses, as you say, as glancing through a crack. Is this what it was like when we were children? I remember being completely unbound from time and space, totally absorbed in what was happening in front of me right then and there.
VINEETO: Children are not born innocent as we have been made to believe by Eastern religions – they are little instinctually-driven beings that are in the process of being trained to curb their passions in a socially accepted way, the process known as instilling a social conscience. Young children follow their feelings more freely than adults because their socialisation process of shoulds and shouldn’ts is not yet complete and they might feel ‘unbound from time and space’ because their feelings are not yet burdened by the responsibilities of adulthood or the fear of death.
Sometimes, however, children do glance into the actual world by accident – as do adults on occasion – and experience a pure consciousness experience. I remember when I was about 8 years old and strolling through the meadow behind my parent’s house. It was summertime and the grass was about chest-height for an eight-year-old, the summer flowers were in full bloom and the grass itself was blooming. I lay down and completely disappeared in the high grass and all I could see were the tips of the swaying grass and the clouds drifting by in the sky. Everything was perfect, there were no worries in the world and I was engulfed by the magic of the meadow and the sky.
Later on I tried to have this same experience again, by simply lying down in the grass and I thought that I couldn’t have the same experience because the grass wasn’t the right height. No matter what time of the year I tried, I didn’t manage to repeat the same innocent, carefree and delightful experience that I had on that particular day. Only when I learnt about actual freedom and understood the difference between a pure consciousness experience, normal every-day experience and a spiritual experience, did I understand that on this particular day I had a glimpse of the perfection and purity of the actual world.
RESPONDENT: Clearly children are not wonderful innocent little beings. Far from it. However, as you say, at times they are directly connected to the actual. I remember having an experience occasionally before going to sleep where (and this is where words fail) I seemed to ‘expand’ to fill the universe, or maybe the gap between my skin and everything else disappeared. It was a calm clear place that would happen fairly frequently, but decreased in frequency over the years until my early teens or so, when I was awash in other more pressing matters.
VINEETO: In a pure consciousness experience the distance or separation between ‘me’ and ‘my’ senses – and thus the external world – temporarily disappears, because this separation is created by ‘me’, a psychological and psychic non-physical entity trapped inside the body. In actuality, there is no separation whatsoever between this physical body and anything or anyone else. Everything and everyone is the very self-same stuff that this physical world is and that this physical body is. Because there is no separation in the actual world, a pure consciousness experience is exemplified by utter purity and stillness in absence of the continuous noise that emanates from the emotions and passions of the alien ‘self’.
This experience is, however, not to be confused with the spiritual experience of Oneness, epitomized in the phrase: ‘I am everything and Everything is Me’. The feeling of Oneness creates an erroneous impression that separation is ended ... but the ‘self’ is nevertheless present. An altered state of consciousness often occurs as a result of intense feelings of loneliness, alienation and despair, a ‘dark night of the soul’ and then, as one seemingly makes a last instinctual grasp for survival, one is filled with grand thoughts and sublime feelings.
RESPONDENT: To this day, I’ve missed that experience, assuming it was a childhood thing, never to recur, but maybe not...
VINEETO: If you keep poking into your beliefs and feelings with honesty and sincere intent you are bound to find the crack in the door, the glitch in the ‘synaptic self’, as LeDoux calls it in his latest book, a glitch that eventuates a slipping out from control into a ‘self’-less experience. My first PCE occurred some months after beginning to practice actualism and it was this experience that finally confirmed Richard’s description of a state beyond Enlightenment to be factual. I then knew that this is what I wanted for the rest of my life.
RESPONDENT: A while back there was the thread on humour. I puzzled then and since. Richard, as the only person living in actual freedom, expressed a fondness for darker humour. How does a sense of humour fit into a fully apperceptive universe? It seems to me that a sense of humour is a program itself, with the brain responding to a certain external stimulus, resulting in a predictable response. That sounds like a program to me. Maybe I’m missing the point... if one of the stated goals is to eliminate all the programs, how does one rationalize this apparent humour program? And if humour is a running program, then actualist are not eliminating the programs, and merely selecting the programs they prefer.
VINEETO: Yes, here you are ‘missing the point’. The stated goal for me is to become free from malice and sorrow, not to ‘eliminate all the programs’. Although the ‘self’ consists of a social programming and an instinctual survival program, the process of becoming free from my ‘self’ does not equal (¹) questioning all programs per se. Actualism, the process of becoming free from my ‘self’, it is the practice of observing and investigating ‘me’ in action, and the way to do this is to examine my beliefs, feelings and emotions when and as they occur. In this process humour only enters as an issue of investigation if it contains malice or sorrow.
As is evident in a PCE, the sense of the humour intrinsic to many of life’s situations and events is not eradicated but is magically bereft of any trace of malevolence, pathos or pity. An actual freedom is squeaky clean but far from humourless.
RESPONDENT: I suspect this is the case, and it’s fine, because the implication is that the human is merely a collection of programs, then we make our choices and attempt to make the best ones.
VINEETO: There is only one program I am concerned about and that is the human condition consisting of the social-spiritual programming and the animal-instinctual survival program of fear, aggression, nurture and desire.
RESPONDENT: I could venture even further out on a limb and suggest that a PCE is in fact a program itself, but that sounds like a topic for another day).
VINEETO: The PCE is marked by the absence of ‘me’, the social-instinctual program, in other words, the absence of my ‘self’, the psychological and psychic identity that has taken residence within this flesh-and-blood body. The temporary absence of ‘me’ provides the opportunity to see the workings of my social-instinctual program from the outside, so to speak. When ‘I’ am not present, the actual world, which is already always here, becomes apparent.
You can compare the human condition with wearing gloomy or rosy filters in front of you eyes and actualism as a method to successively remove those filters. According to your supposition a PCE – when those filters are temporarily totally removed and one sees clearly – would be a new ‘seeing program’ as if one only exchanges filters. However, in a PCE you know without doubt that the ‘filter’ is completely removed – in a PCE there is no ‘me’ to be found anywhere.
At this point it might be appropriate to mention that the actualist writings can only give you information so as to establish a working hypothesis for yourself. This hypothesis can only be confirmed experientially. Only when you have – or remember having had – a pure consciousness experience, will you know for sure by your own experience that a PCE is not another program or ‘filter’ but that it is an experience of pure sensual perception and clear thinking, completely unrestricted by any psychologic or psychic program whatsoever. As Richard phrased it in his recent post to No 34 –
In a PCE you experience, without doubt, for yourself, that there is indeed an actual world already here, all the time, and that this actuality exists regardless of whether human beings object to it or rile against it, what they feel about it, how they imagine it to be otherwise or how they want to change it to suit their whims.
RESPONDENT: So, after a lot of mulling, I’ve determined that I’m using these various contexts as red herrings to dance around the fundamental issue of happiness and harmlessness. I’ve discovered that a lot of these intellectual exercises are contrived by my identity in a futile attempt to exercise a form of control in order to assuage an underlying anxiety. It’s clear that this anxiety is firmly rooted in the instinctual fear mechanism, with the horror of my inevitable demise looming on the distant horizon.
VINEETO: Richard is having an interesting conversation regarding the topic of this ‘instinctual fear mechanism’ with Respondent No 39 on another mailing list. You will find the thread in his latest correspondence starting October 22.
For me, I began to put the method into practice bit-by-bit and step-by-step, because in practice I neither would, nor could, bite off bigger pieces than I could chew. It’s the jumping in and doing of it that actually creates the courage and the incentive to keep going.
RESPONDENT: It’s also clear that this state has been created by my identity, an entity that has an increasingly alien character.
VINEETO: From my experience, it does not matter if ‘me’ as an identity – who I think and feel I am – has an alien character or a non-alien character – all of it is ‘me’, no matter into how many parts I preferred to split myself. In my days of therapy and spiritual practice I used to divide my ‘self’ into an ‘inner male’ and an ‘outer female’, the feeler and the watcher, the intuitive and the rational self, the lower ‘self’ and the higher ‘self’, the passionate old ‘me’ and the aware new ‘me’. Part of the job of backtracking out of the spiritual-psychological nonsense I had been conditioned with was to stop dividing me into various identities and recognize, acknowledge and affectively experience that ‘who I am’ is an instinctually driven, culturally tainted and spiritually conditioned identity.
This shocking and unflattering acknowledgement prepared the ground for an actual change.
RESPONDENT: Without going into the gory details, recently I’ve had another example of how insidious and entrenched the identity is, and how determined it is to protect its existence, at all costs.
In this instance, the identity demanded the usual set of emotions (guilt, shame, etc.), and while I certainly felt them, I didn’t react in the typical fashion by cooperating and going on an affective tangential loop-de-doo. It was really quite amazing to observe this marvellously complex process at play, sort of like those documentaries on life on the deep ocean floor.
I have spent a lot of time over the last 10 years digging into the various aspects of social conditioning (religion, socio-culture, gender, parents/authorities), a process accelerated over the last year by applying the AF method, and am relatively free of these overt influences. Now it’s time to take the elevator down to the next floor.
VINEETO: Your recent correspondences with Richard and me set me off thinking about the first few months when I started exploring actualism, and what it was that preceded and initiated my first major PCE. With the benefit of hindsight it was clear that my way of taking ‘the elevator down to the next floor’ was to decide to close the back door on a lot of aspects of my former life. Meditation and being the ‘watcher’ did not work because it did not make me happy, let alone make me harmless. Being a follower of Rajneesh and belonging to the Sannyas community did not work because it did not peace or happiness. There was still no peace in the world, neither within the Sannyasin community nor in any other spiritual or religious belief-system.
So, although I did not quite know where I was going when I closed the back door, I nevertheless knew by experience where I would not find the solution – neither in the real world nor in the spiritual world. In closing the door on my past life, I abandoned my dreams and entered new territory with no option to turn back.
I am convinced that it was this common sense commitment to say ‘no’ to the well-tried, and always-failed, methods and my daring to say ‘never again’ to holding on to my past hopes, dreams and beliefs that inevitably catapulted me into a PCE – the experience of being right here, right now, bare of any belief, truth, hope or preconceived idea. This pure consciousness experience radically changed my understanding of actualism because for the first time I understood, in my own experience, what Richard was talking about and what he is living 24 hours a day … and it’s paradise on earth.
RESPONDENT: I started thinking that close only counts in horseshoes. I started thinking that if Richard was the only one free of ego, how could any of us ascertain the terrain accurately. Even if 0.00001 ego remained, wasn’t missing by an inch missing by a mile? Hmmm. Now I hope this is all clear because I was going over this with innocence, earnest but not with deadly seriousness.
VINEETO: In a pure consciousness experience you know without doubt that you are, albeit temporarily, utterly free from both your ego and your soul. As long as there is a doubt that ‘I’ might be about, it is not a pure consciousness experience. But once you have had a PCE you can ‘ascertain the terrain accurately’ because you then know by your own experience the difference between normal experiencing, spiritual delusion and the perfection and purity of the actual world.
RESPONDENT: I surmised the PCEs that I described were in effect PCEs as nobody made any commentary to the contrary.
VINEETO: Nobody but you can be the arbiter of your experiences and that includes pure consciousness experiences. Only you can determine if your experience was non-affective and ‘self’-less or an experience of feeling excellent with heightened awareness or a delusionary altered state of consciousness. There are some guidelines and descriptions on the website but in the end it is you who assesses your own experience.
RESPONDENT: I thought of the days when we use to say I’m trying to find my self. How would you know you were lost? How would you know you were found, since you didn’t have a self in the first place?
VINEETO: This body knows when it is free from the inhibiting and pernicious self – it is such an exuberant experience of liberation when the ‘self’ temporarily disappears – one’s senses are perceiving with unprecedented intensity and the brain is functioning with exceptional clarity.
However, once the ‘self’ returns, the first thing that often happens is an attempt to dismiss, belittle and question the experience of purity and perfection in order for the ‘self’ to regain control. With practice you become experienced enough in your ‘self’-awareness to recognize these doubts as the very survival mechanism of the ‘self’.
RESPONDENT: I started contemplating what is the criteria that one would know if they were no more? How does one recognize non-identity? Or the innocence of apperceptive awareness and will, as opposed to some subtle form of soul or egoic identity. I couldn’t wait to get to my office to write this e-mail. It was about 5:00 AM when I was at this. Still I questioned who would be ascertaining and determining that looking under every psychic nook and cranny was not some form of thinking/feeling identity? Well I kept asking the question, and was real excited about getting it over to you folks hoping Richard and the senior folks would comment.
VINEETO: The ‘self’ is like a viral disease. This body knows when it is free of disease – it doesn’t need a confirmation from the ‘virus’ to know that there is no virus.
RESPONDENT: My train ride is about an hour. I stayed with this topic and noticed less separation between existence and the question (What am I experiencing). Things became subtler and subtler. I noticed that actuality is very fast. Actuality is warp drive and I had to slow down considerably to consolidate having an ‘I’.
VINEETO: My experience is that in a state of heightened awareness unhampered by my identity my senses are able to perceive my surroundings with more far detail and more depth. Un-interfered by my emotions I can think about the human condition or about some practical problem clearer and sharper. It is not that ‘actuality is very fast’ but that my sensual perception is not slowed down by fear and other ‘self’-centred survival instincts. And as you described, ‘I’ put the breaks on to stay in existence, and that is usually experienced as caution, fear or mental confusion.
RESPONDENT: In my initial criticisms of Richard based on my own ignorance, I had made reference to what I thought was some form of detached self in Richard, especially when he would use adjectives describing the topography according to the only maps that I knew. Is there a clear demarcation point, that those of us with egos extant can be sure we are coming from apperceptive awareness, PCE as opposed to some form of self?
VINEETO: For me the demarcation line between my nowadays normal state of feeling excellent and a pure consciousness experience is that in a PCE everything has an additional magical quality. There is a marked silence in my head as the identity suddenly stops generating subtle feelings and any emotional ‘connectedness’ to or wariness of people, things and events ceases. In a PCE, I am aware of an additional depth in my perception in that trees for instance are not only their shape, colour, movement and form but also their history, so to speak – they were a seedling, they have grown, they might be furniture or fertilizer one day. The same goes for computers, furniture, buildings or food – in this heightened awareness of a PCE one experiences that nothing is merely passive, everything changes, moves, grows or dies, is manufactured or is falling apart.
The other very obvious difference is that in a PCE I have no feeling of separation at all – it is not that I feel ‘one’ with everything as in a spiritual experience but that the very feeling of separateness has disappeared together with the identity who feels separate. It is then obvious that I am as much the universe as people and things around me with the added bonus that I am capable of being exquisitely aware of all its wonder and magnificence.
RESPONDENT: That’s what I didn’t understand about Richard’s comments about ‘perfection, coolness of the breeze etc. I thought those were examples of what Richard was talking about a ‘detached self’.
VINEETO: A ‘self’ cannot imagine that a ‘self’-less – or ‘Self’-less – existence is possible. But the more you collect information from your pure consciousness experiences, the less convincing will be the ‘self’s’ claims that everyone needs a ‘self’ to survive and to sensately experience the actual world we humans live in.
RESPONDENT: It is a very brief description of the ‘social identity’ and it happened to me to be removed in a short period of time.
VINEETO: What you have described in your first letter was not only a removal of your social identity but from your description it was evident that this temporary vacuum was immediately filled with emotion – it became an affective experience of ‘godliness’, also known as an Altered State of Consciousness. In such an ASC one feels that one knows the Truth, one feels oneself to be all-knowing, all-powerful, one-with-everything, filled with Love for all, compassionate to every living being and above and beyond all normal human experience. I once had such a powerful ASC that lasted for two days, and having learnt from Richard about its pitfalls, I used the experience to investigate exactly how my intelligence and my sensibility was devastatingly effected by these aggrandizing emotions. I was relieved when the experience was finally over and I was able to again think clearly and reasonably without being driven by feelings of grandeur and delusion. You can find the full description of the experience on our web-site.
You have described the experience ‘to be removed’ from your social identity in an earlier post –
In contrast to such altered states of consciousness, a pure consciousness experience is a non-affective ‘self’-less pure sensate experience where all of ‘me’, both ego and soul, both my social identity and my instinctual being are temporarily in abeyance. In a PCE there is no identity present to feel like a God living in an ethereal other-worldly realm. God, although everyone on the planet believes in him (or her) in some way or other, is nothing but a passionate imagination that only exists in people’s heads and hearts. In a pure consciousness experience one is one’s sense organs brimming with delight, wallowing in the enormous abundance of sensual experience that is perpetually here while one is at the same time fully aware of being an aware sensate and reflective human being.
This bare awareness of being aware, apperception, is the fundamental key to a pure consciousness experience – both coincide with each other.
With an investigative awareness running – how am I experiencing this moment of being alive? – one is able to examines one’s affective feelings, emotions and instinctual passions as they occur. The longer one practices such investigative awareness, the less one’s feelings, emotions and passions interfere with one’s sensuous attentiveness of being alive at this very moment – an awareness that simply registers sensate experiencing.
This sensate awareness is not something one can practice or cultivate in isolation from removing the affective feelings that interfere with the simple delight of being alive. Given sufficient practice of the actualism method, an ongoing idle sensate attentiveness to being alive can momentarily turn into an awareness of being aware, which is apperception, and a pure consciousness experience takes place.
RESPONDENT: Hey Vineeto, your comments are also welcome in regard to the different types of ‘knowledge’ derived from consciousness experiencing, as I remember you described both an almost full-blown ASC and a PCE
VINEETO: Any ‘knowledge’ from full-blown altered states of consciousness is purely affective, and as such subjective, as you may remember from your own experience. In a spiritual altered state one usually feels as though one has entered into an ethereal reality. Whilst in this greater reality one feels as though one is above and beyond the social morals and ethics and as such is one prone to not only feel compassion for those ‘poor humans’ who are still enslaved by society’s rules and regulations but also feels that one knows all about this part of the human conditioning temporarily left behind – the outer layer of the ‘self’. In such a state one can have access to what are termed the ‘Akashic Records’, an expression to describe contents of the psychic web in which all sentient beings are more or less entrapped and entangled. In an altered state one can be psychically sensitive to what humans through the ages have affectively thought (all of the accumulated truths and wisdoms) and felt (all of the accumulated suffering) … and the power and glory of this feeling of omniscience and of being one with the ‘higher Being(s)’ is the trap that no enlightened being so far has been able to escape from, let alone even wanted to escape from … with one exception.
A PCE is very different. One can have a PCE without much thinking happening – so delightful and magical is the direct sensate experience of the actual world that the notion to take notes as it were rarely occurs. Because I was on a quest to find out about the human condition and what to do with my life, during each PCE that I had after encountering actualism I was careful to take note of what was different in a PCE to normal experiencing and to ASCs and as a consequence had direct insights into what exactly is the difference between a ‘self’-centred and a ‘self’-less experience. My intent in a PCE was to gain as much insight about life without ‘self’ as possible and consequently I obtained valuable information that I could use once the PCE faded. The ‘knowledge’ I gained in each PCE was about that which is actual, i.e. that which remains when the affective faculty responsible for both my automorphic worldview and humanity’s anthropocentric view of the universe itself does not interfere with direct experiencing.
VINEETO: This was my recent comment to a correspondent on this mailing list about this particular type of ASC –
RESPONDENT: First thing: neither of the above descriptions seems to quite match what happened to me. There was no ‘feeling of oneness’ or anything like that, no feeling that I am the Universe, no messianic urges, no sense of divinity, no sensory distortions, no feeling of being spaced out in a great ‘Nothingness’ or ‘Silence’ or ‘Stillness’ or ‘Void’ as described by mystics, and no loss of contact with the actual physical world around me. It was an ASC rather than a PCE, but of a rather different character from any kind of religious experience that I’ve heard or read about. (It was an LSD flashback, to be sure. I find it extremely interesting that it could be invoked at will, and I’m keen to understand what is actually happening here.)
VINEETO: Even if an experience starts off as a PCE, most often ‘I’ will step in and seize the experience as being ‘mine’ and interpret it to be a perfect experience according to ‘my’ idea or ‘my’ feeling of perfection. Or if one tries to induce a PCE as a deliberate repeat of a serendipitous event, ‘I’ want to remain on the stage in order to posses the experience as ‘my’ own. You described it well when you said –
As for ‘there was no trace of emotion’ it is useful to understand that ‘I’, the alien entity within this flesh-and-blood body am not only lost and lonely but also very, very cunning. With this is mind your experience could well be interpreted in this light – if ‘I’ have to disguise myself as a non-emotional psyche in order to stay in existence, then ‘I’ will do just that. This is precisely why pure intent is so crucial if one wants to become actually free from the human condition.
RESPONDENT: The underlying quality of my consciousness was very much like it was in the psilocybin experience I described earlier (walking through an invisible membrane into a bubble of perfection), except that there was more cognitive activity. That cognitive activity is extremely difficult to convey, but I emphasise that it did not eclipse or obscure the brilliance and clarity of the actual world, or make me feel I was a ‘spirit’, or that the world was illusory. Rather it complemented the actual world (as experienced by the senses) by exposing what seemed to be an innate pattern-matching / symbol-generating faculty in the psyche, which created a sense of underlying mathematical order and perfection pervading both mind and world.
The real difference between this ASC and a PCE, as far as I can tell after a bit of reflection, is that this ASC is characterised by what you might call ‘scientific mysticism’, but not the ‘mythological mysticism’ of religious experience. (Having said that, though, there was no suggestion of ‘other words’ or ‘parallel universes’ or ‘alternative realities’, either. It was a different way of experiencing this universe, right here and right now.)
To convey this more clearly, I’ll probably have to post some sketches of a much more extreme version of this pattern-matching / symbol-generating madness, which I experienced about 10 years ago on LSD (because this experience is very clearly an echo of that). I don’t have time to do right now ... but probably will later, because I suspect this is going to be a recurring theme with me.
VINEETO: When I read your deliberations about the experience, two things come to mind.
Firstly it is clear that you have no doubt that this ‘interesting experience’, as you called it, was an ASC and not a ‘self’-less PCE, so the difference is very obvious to you. Secondly, the perfection of the actual world is an innate quality to the infinitude of the physical universe, it is pure and magical but certainly not mathematically ordered as pure mathematicians would have it.
Many pure mathematicians apparently believe that mathematics is the governing principle upon which the universe was created and many even proclaim that God must have been a mathematician, or that pure mathematics is Truth. There seems no limit to anthropocentricity – it manifests itself in all sorts of weird and wonderful, and not so wonderful, forms.
In a PCE I am both apperceptively and sensuously aware of what is actually happening and the wide and wondrous path to an actual freedom is a journey of incrementally removing and abandoning all of one’s affective and imaginative programming that stands in the way of this experience of pure awareness.
Whereas in an ASC ‘I’ interpret what is actually happening according to what ‘I’ feel and imagine as being good and right and perfect and as such the path to a permanent Altered State of Consciousness necessitates the embellishing of one’s emotional and imaginative programming, not the elimination of it. You alluded to this when you said that in your ASC your ‘cognitive activity’ ‘complemented the actual world’ and ‘created a sense of underlying mathematical order and perfection’, which can only mean that a psychic entity needed to be present in order to do the complementing and creating.
In an ASC, as the name suggests, the psyche is altered, as in expanded, aggrandized, embellished, infused, refined and particularly flavoured according to the image or concept ‘I’ have of the perfect world. Once I had intellectually understood and personally experienced the world of difference between a PCE and an ASC, I rapidly lost interest in any detailed examination of the contents or contexts of ASCs – I simply saw them as being like wake dreams, outbursts of an excited, as in stimulated, electrified and/or feverish, psyche.
P.S. If you haven’t already discovered this – there is a topic in the library called ‘Affective Experiences vs. Pure Experiences’ and Richard’s correspondence on imagination might also be of interest to you.
VINEETO: Even if an experience starts off as a PCE, most often ‘I’ will step in and seize the experience as being ‘mine’ and interpret it to be a perfect experience according to ‘my’ idea or ‘my’ feeling of perfection.
RESPONDENT: For a while (not sure how long) when I was sitting on the rocks looking at the breakers foaming in, there was nothing but purity and perfection. When it became clear that something was definitely happening, something stunningly different from normality, ‘I’ must have stepped in and started playing around, and that’s when I found the same ‘plasticity’ that I’d delighted in 10 years ago. (You’re right, it is the most compelling ‘vision’ of perfection I had/have ever seen).
VINEETO: The actualism method is certainly a very powerful tool and, as Richard emphasizes throughout his writings, the only danger on the wide and wondrous path is that one can become stranded on the Rock of Enlightenment, as Peter called it – or fall into any other permanent state of delusion. When I first used the actualism method I was quite curious to experience all of the different altered states that I had heard and read about but once I experienced two or three of them for a couple of hours or more each I could see the flaws in all of them when compared to a ‘self’-less PCE – neither were they pure nor were they a direct sensuous experience of what is happening here on earth were we human beings live – in other words, they weren’t actual but they were happening in my mind only.
RESPONDENT: I do see the potential for this. It must seem as if I’m being quite defensive about the ‘validity’ of my ‘interesting experience’, but what I’m actually trying to do is firstly express it as clearly as possible, and secondly figure out where it belongs in the scheme of things. I do appreciate the feedback.
VINEETO: You are welcome. I know from my own experience with actualism that feedback from other people’s experience can only go so far – I gained both reassurance and warning from Richard’s reports of his experiences but in the end I had to sort out my experiences for myself … and my benchmark for that was always my first major PCE. It was the experience of which I had the clearest memory simply because the difference to my normal day experience was so incredibly stunning and at the same time so unquestionably obvious.
VINEETO: Or if one tries to induce a PCE as a deliberate repeat of a serendipitous event, ‘I’ want to remain on the stage in order to posses the experience as ‘my’ own.
RESPONDENT: This is true I guess, but what it felt like was not exactly a conscious desire to possess it as my own (though I do see the potential for that happening), but rather a desire to play around with it aesthetically, like a kid with a kaleidoscope. I suppose one can desire to ‘possess’ something for two different motives, either as a way of empowering and glorifying one’s ego, or as a way of entertaining oneself. I think the latter is probably what made this PCE into an ASC. (But I can accept that the self is very cunning indeed).
VINEETO: ‘A way of entertaining oneself’ implies that being here is experienced as needing some more entertainment, which is an assessment that ‘I’ make because there is no role for ‘me’ to play in the stunning clarity and sensuous delight of being right here in this moment in time. The more I paid attention to how I experience this moment of being alive the more I began to learn about how cunning ‘I’ am, how many ways and reasons ‘I’ invent and present in order for ‘me’ to stay in existence.
RESPONDENT: Well that really depends on what is meant by ‘I’ and ‘me’, doesn’t it? Being right here in this moment in time, can there be any sense of intention? In my experience, the answer is yes, for sure.
VINEETO: When I am right here in a ‘self’-less PCE there is no intent, I am already experiencing perfection. The intent comes in when the PCE ends and ‘I’ make an assessment what it is that ‘I’ need to do in order to live this experience 24/7.
RESPONDENT: In a PCE ‘who’ is it that dips his/her toes into a cool stream just for the joy of it? Dipping one’s toes in the stream doesn’t mean that ‘I’ and ‘me’ are there with all their status-seeking and emotional baggage, but the action happens. In a PCE there can be an ‘intent’, without there being an ‘intender’.
VINEETO: In a PCE there is no ‘who’ to ‘dipping one’s toes in the stream’ but ‘what’ – this body delights in the coolness of the stream on a hot day. ‘Who’ is the psychological and psychic entity who thinks and feels ‘he’ or ‘she’ is in control, whilst in a PCE this controller is temporarily absent. There is no intent in a PCE for I am simply the doing and experiencing of what is happening.
RESPONDENT: There can be thought without a thinker.
VINEETO: Yes. In a PCE thoughts happen or don’t happen depending on the situation.
VINEETO: Often it would take me days to discover that I had once again fallen for ‘my’ tricks, that I had believed ‘my’ reasoning as to why ‘I’ needed to run the show.
RESPONDENT: Ok, but while ever you are in ‘virtual freedom’ rather than ‘actual freedom’, you are indeed running the show.
VINEETO: The wonderful thing about being virtually free of malice and sorrow is that ‘I’ have become increasingly redundant – less and less am ‘I’ experienced as running the show or needing to be in control.
RESPONDENT: And part of the ‘you’ who is running the show is a ‘belief’ (for want of a better word) that ‘you’ as a psychic entity must disappear entirely in order to allow the already-existing purity and perfection of the actual world to manifest itself.
VINEETO: No. It was the ‘self’-less pure consciousness experience itself which revealed that normally there is an ‘I’ who thinks and feels she is running the show all the time and it also reveals that in order to allow the already-existing purity and perfection of the actual world to manifest itself ‘I’ have to disappear. This is not ‘a belief’ but recognition of a fact via direct perception. (...)
RESPONDENT: I would argue (not to be contrary, and not to suggest that you are wrong to do so, but simply because it seems like the truth to me) that it is indeed ‘one of your tricks’ to treat as ultimately valid only those experiences in which ‘you’ are entirely absent. Within the terms of your goal (actual freedom), this is understandable. But that goal is necessarily ‘one of your tricks’, even if you choose to define it as the only thing that is not a trick.
VINEETO: What you are arguing is that ‘my’ experiences of ‘my’ psyche are as equally valid as the only experience that is common to all flesh and blood bodies – the pure consciousness experience of the already-existing purity and perfection of the actual world. I can only suggest that you contemplate on the fact that it is precisely because everyone values their own psychic experiences so highly that peace on earth between human beings remains but a pipe-dream.
RESPONDENT: Not trying to be a smartarse, but after virtually all of your social identity has disappeared, there remains ‘Vineeto the actualist’ (which is not itself actual). I know this doesn’t matter to you personally, but I say it nonetheless: I am not trying to criticise you in any way, just saying it as I see it.
VINEETO: Four weeks ago you described a pure consciousness experience –
When you described the experience of ‘being present in a perfect bubble of real time and real space and real things’ – did you have any doubt that this experience was ‘one of your tricks’ or did you know beyond doubt that this was one of those rare events where your ‘self’ was absent and you were experiencing actuality as it is?
I know, it is hard to remember what a PCE was like when one returns back to normal and often one begins to doubt that the experience was only a dream. But during a PCE I know with absolute certainty that this actual universe has always been here – I only missed it whilst I was busy being ‘me’. And the realization and recognition of this very fact is what has become my benchmark for determining how to proceed in the process of becoming free of malice and sorrow. In this process ‘I’ willingly decide to instigate ‘my’ own demise and then it is simply a matter of applying attentiveness – something that anyone can cultivate if they so desire.
VINEETO: As for ‘there was no trace of emotion’ it is useful to understand that ‘I’, the alien entity within this flesh-and-blood body am not only lost and lonely but also very, very cunning. With this is mind your experience could well be interpreted in this light – if ‘I’ have to disguise myself as a non-emotional psyche in order to stay in existence, then ‘I’ will do just that.
RESPONDENT: I can see the potential for that happening too, but I have to trust my own judgement here. There was no trace of emotion that I could detect; I actually looked for it, it just wasn’t there.
VINEETO: Sometimes I found that missing something familiar could trigger ‘me’ stepping back in, in order to provide the ‘missing link’, so to speak. Vis:
At first I had only Richard’s report that he has no imagination whatsoever and that imagination is an affective faculty of the psyche – later in the actualism practice I could confirm this report by my own experience in that my imagination more and more disappeared and nowadays I have a hard time to activate it, for instance when I try to visualize objects others talk about that I have never seen. I don’t miss it though – it is one less distraction from sensually experiencing what is right here.
RESPONDENT: Right. I can understand this because in the PCE on a country walk I thought idly about where I was in relation to the town and river, found I could not construct a mental map, and did not give a damn. It didn’t matter in the slightest; it had no relevance. I was ‘here’, and that was all I needed to know. Besides, I was too busy perceiving to worry about creating some internal shorthand sketch of what was all around me in all its splendour. I do know what you’re talking about in this respect.
VINEETO: Good. And I take it that there was also no ‘desire to play around with it aesthetically, like a kid with a kaleidoscope’ as there was in your ASC. Interesting Experience, 15.12.2003
RESPONDENT: However, I am now starting to think that one can have one’s cake and eat it too.
VINEETO: Before you get carried away with this thought let me ask you how you think this would work in practice. The cake we are talking about is an actual freedom from the Human Condition, a ‘self’-less flesh-and-blood body living a pure consciousness experience 24/7. To ‘eat it too’ means to simultaneously have a psyche, which perceives the world as ‘pure’ in images and symbols? In other words you want to be ‘self’-less whilst remaining a ‘self’.
You can certainly entertain this as a philosophy but never live it as an actuality. (...)
VINEETO: The question as to whether an actual freedom from the human condition ‘is actually possible for all people’ can only be answered on an individual basis because to achieve this freedom requires that an individual makes it the most important thing in his or her own life. Thus far I have met or have corresponded with very few people who are interested in doing so. If, however, you want empirical proof that an actual freedom does not require ‘a biological configuration unique to Richard’ then you will have to wait until a second, or third, person becomes actually free from the human condition. Personally, I didn’t want to waste my time waiting for that, I’ll rather be part of the proof.
RESPONDENT: Yeah, I’m with you there. I dunno whether our paths will diverge or converge in the end, but having set off on the journey it’s very unlikely that I’ll turn back. I know it seems to you that I’m playing a different ‘game’, a self-centred game in which I’m desperately clinging to some cunning disguised form of ‘self’ as ‘psyche-as-medium’ in order to stay in existence, but it’s really not how it seems to me.
VINEETO: The marvellous thing about actuality is that one cannot make it up, destroy it or alter it in any way – it is already here exactly as it is. Nobody can add to it, take anything away from it, shape it or diminish it, possess it for themselves or hide it from others and therefore nobody needs to hold it up or defend it – it is always here in all its splendour and perfection readily apparent whenever the bubble of the ‘self’ bursts. (...)
VINEETO: When I read your deliberations about the experience, two things come to mind. Firstly it is clear that you have no doubt that this ‘interesting experience’, as you called it, was an ASC and not a ‘self’-less PCE, so the difference is very obvious to you.
RESPONDENT: Yep. The PCE I had last summer had none of this ‘pattern matching’ or ‘symbol-generating’, or ‘plasticity’, and the psyche was not ‘visible’ at all. There was an underlying similarity though that I can’t quite put my finger on, except to say that both seemed to have had a pure and perfect basis.
VINEETO: Would it be right to say that the first was a pure, i.e. ‘self’-less, experience while the other was an image of a pure experience created by your psyche?
RESPONDENT: Not quite. The other was an experience in which psyche was present, but it was not created out of or by the psyche. In both cases there was an underlying purity and perfection; in the latter case it was manifest in mind as well as in world. And the presence of a mind-medium (unlike ordinary ‘imagination’) did not in any way diminish the perfection and purity of the actual world as experienced by the senses.
VINEETO: The purity of the actual world means that there is no ‘self’ or psyche present and it is the affective ‘self’ or psyche that distorts the clear perception of what is actual.
If you decide to reinterpret ‘the perfection and purity of the actual world’ as being an experience of the psyche ‘manifest in mind as well as in world’ then we are talking about two different things. It does make communication a little confusing though.
Vineeto’s & Richard’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.