Selected Correspondence Vineeto
IRENE: To me compassion is the full understanding through experiencing all the accompanying emotions of a particularly testing aspect of life, that this is what it is to be grieving, or to be angry or to intensely hate or to be desolate, lonely, utterly discouraged in all of life etc. and to accept it as belonging to the all-round human experience in order to become wise.
VINEETO: I have experienced others being compassionate towards me and me feeling compassionate towards others, and I see that it insidiously perpetuates the pattern we humans live in. Trying to fix the problem in somebody else instead of getting rid of ‘me’ only continues sorrow, superiority, fear, feeling the victim and helplessness in the face of human suffering. Whenever I have dared to watch the atrocious happenings in the world without the soothing cover of compassion and pity, those murderous and vicious actions of us humans always strike like a SledgeHammer – and force me to do something about it. As I am the only person who can make myself free from malice and sorrow, this is what I have to do. I cannot free anybody else from their intrinsic malice or sorrow. But I can dare the journey and thus prove that it is possible. It might encourage others to apply the method that works.
ALAN: I have spent the last few days exploring sorrow. It is something I had not experienced for quite a while and thought it may have been eliminated. I was wrong. Last Wednesday my wife and I accepted we were keeping our dog alive for us and not for him and so, my companion of the last 7 years is no more. Many of my recent insights, discoveries and PCEs happened during my daily walks with him.
I have experienced that love, or rather the loss of it, is indeed a physical, as well as psychological, pain. Despite intensive ‘rooting around’ I can find no reason for the sorrow that has overwhelmed me at times. I see the sense of loss, as in missing him being around and the loss of the enjoyment he used to bring. I read again Peter’s chapter on the death of his son, but have not yet discovered any sense of this death confronting me with the actuality of my own death. What I have seen (got) is that sympathy and compassion only perpetuate sorrow, which is so obvious once one ‘sees’ it – how can they do anything else? Following on from this, I would like to explore something Irene wrote to Vineeto a little while ago:
IRENE: The richness, the depth of each human feeling reveals the understanding of what it is to be a human being in such an empirical, intimate way that it is later instantly recognized in a fellow human being who is going through the same emotional, human experience and who can then be met by compassion, that very kind understanding that you will have enjoyed with another, not only when life was being particularly difficult or sad, but also when you wanted to share your utmost joy or love.
ALAN: Now my experience over the last several days is that compassion only served to perpetuate sorrow, so I would ask Irene how her compassion (assuming she is feeling such for me over the loss of my friend) is going to assist me?
VINEETO: Yes, I know sorrow. Sometimes it has been raging through me that I thought I would never be happy again in all my life. And yet, a few hours or a few days later, when it has done its thing and I have understood what I needed to understand, sorrow has disappeared without an emotional scar, and hardly a memory at all.
ALAN: It still astonishes me how people can so easily turn their backs on Actual Freedom, as epitomized in Peter’s mail to No 3 – most are simply not interested in discovering how magnificent life can be. I was discussing this with my wife last night and it got back to the familiar sticking point – giving up emotions and becoming a ‘zombie’, as she puts it. Is this an objection you have come across? So far, as what starts one on the exploration, I think you are correct that some disillusionment et. is necessary, but then all who live within the Human Condition suffer disappointment, longing and desperation. Speaking personally, it was my memory of a PCE which started me on the search for ‘answers’ – I wanted to again experience that purity and perfection. It was a decision which took years to make. How did you get started on the spiritual path?
VINEETO: ‘Giving up emotions and becoming a zombie’ – this is almost a standard expression, as if a zombie has no emotions. When I compare my life now with two years ago, then I had been living a zombie-life all my life, with a few exceptions. I had been dull and predictable, a biological mechanism programmed with different roles, beliefs emotions and instinctual passions, just like everyone else around me. Being programmed with emotions is like being out at sea – any moment the weather can change into a raging storm, rain or sunshine, for no apparent reason. ‘Zombie’ means being full of emotions, but keeping them so utterly repressed and distorted that one is 90% shut down.
The comparison of ‘no emotion’ and ‘zombie’ also reminds me of the latest science fiction films, where the robots and computers are very human-like in that they have been programmed with rudimentary emotions. Kryton in ‘Red Dwarf’ is a cute example, Hal in ‘2010’ another. The scientist working with the supercomputer Hal in ‘2010’ (a follow-up film of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001) said to his team: ‘Whether carbon- or silicon-based life forms, both species need to be treated with the same respect.’ What a hoot. In the same anthropo-centric manner that we would like computers to have human-like qualities we are searching in animals for ‘human-like’ behaviour – while completely overlooking the fact that we are observing our own animal-heritage, our core instincts and rudimentary self.
While now, having eliminated the fog of emotions which were cluttering every perception, restricting and distorting intelligence and apperception, life is easy, comfortable, peaceful, happy and imminently delightful. I am more alive than ever, the senses sharper and enjoying whatever is happening, the brain functioning perfectly to sort the sensible from the silly – and sometimes I am silly just for the fun of it.
So, the expression ‘zombie’ for ‘no emotion’ is a misnomer. For the ‘self’, our lost, lonely, frightened and very cunning entity, it is a reality that ‘I’ am my emotions and without them ‘I’ will only be a robot. For me, maybe particularly with a conditioning and instinctual programming as a woman, emotions were all and everything I thought and felt myself to be. To question emotions is to question one’s very ‘self’. It needs lots of courage, sincere intent and, if possible, the remembrance of a peak experience, to dare to look for something beyond this safe and familiar world of up-and-down emotions.
Meeting Richard was another help for me, for he was not at all the man one could call a ‘zombie’ – yet he is without emotions. Here is a man as normal and ordinary as Mr. Smith but at the same time radiantly alive, friendly, peaceful, gay, humorous, carefree, considerate and perfect as only legendary heroes would have been described – and this day after day, whenever I met him, without any flaw. Here I could compare the facts with my fears, the day to day actuality with my dark and confused fantasies.
But the main reason for taking up the third alternative was because I dared to acknowledge that ‘being normal’ had no attraction for me nor had all the spiritual practice borne any solutions for a happy life. The highly prized emotions had only caused trouble, fight, jealousy, disappointment, hope and desperation in my life.
ALAN: I was discussing this with my wife last night and it got back to the familiar sticking point – giving up emotions and becoming a zombie, as she puts it. Is this an objection you have come across?
VINEETO: I have come across that objection many, many times. Women hold emotions, particularly their own, in high esteem; it is the familiar territory of the power she yields and the most important part of a female identity besides being a mother. Men may have developed other identities, many manage to avoid feeling their emotions like all get out, which, of course, does not help to become free of them.
To me, it was obvious from day one, that if I wanted to live in peace and harmony with Peter, then an exploration and a questioning of all my emotions was inevitable. In the end, this exploration proved to be the dissolution of the male and female camp and resulted in a delicious actual and ongoing intimacy between us, something which, apart from a few glimpses, I had never experienced before.
The other aspect of emotions lies in a broader context, and I am encountering this lately as it is becoming more obvious. Feelings, emotions and instinctual passions are the only connection between ‘me’ and ‘Humanity’. Empathy, sorrow and compassion make us feel connected to the greater ‘community’ of humankind, thus perpetuating sorrow without any solution. Severing the ties to this suffering ‘Humanity’ and standing on my own two feet without even the option of ‘feeling’ the other if I wanted to, is a bold step, and has been a process that took me a few months.
The turning point was the experience that, one evening before sex, I had a flash of wanting to kill Peter. I perceived him as being a deadly threat to ‘my’ identity, and my instinctual reaction resulted in the wish to kill him. The surfacing of this raw instinct in me, directed against my best and most intimate playmate, was a severe shock – it became blindingly obvious and self-evident that ‘I’ am rotten to the very core. To guarantee peace-on-earth, ‘I’ will have to become extinct.
GARY: To try to make a long story short, I have been investigating the animal instinctual passion of sorrow. I noticed that when I pulled up in my car to park in front of the office yesterday, that there was a familiar let-down kind of feeling, a feeling of like ‘Oh Boy, here we go again’. Since I have been running the ‘How am I...’ question pretty frequently, it really got my attention when that feeling crept in. The feeling or emotion itself was one of sorrow. It is something that I know very well. I have only recently really been questioning and looking in to these things. It has been easier for me to understand malice, I mean understand in the sense of where it comes from, what its evolutionary function would be: to attack and destroy one’s enemies in order to survive and propagate the species. But it has been harder for me to understand where sorrow fits into the picture.
VINEETO: I would not call sorrow an instinct in itself but an emotion arising out of being separated from the magnificence and purity of the actual world due to the instinctually driven ‘self’-centred alien entity inside of this body. Malice, once one dares to acknowledge it, is a pretty clear emotion while we humans seem to be drenched in sorrow as sorrow is an essential part of our identity. The resentment of having to be here as in ‘I did not asked to be born’ lies at the core of all the various forms of sorrow.
Thinking about the relation of sorrow and the instinctual need to belong, one connection seems obvious – sorrow is the both the glue and the price we pay in order to be part of the herd. We relate most closely to other human beings in sorrow, feeling sympathy and empathy and always looking for someone to lean on, and share with, in hard times. Once I questioned sorrow itself, the main feature of connecting with others was disappearing – either I come back to the herd and feel sorrow with others and for others, or I am on my own. Being more and more happy, I found myself at a loss how to connect and relate to former friends – all we had shared was glee over other’s misery, common beliefs, commiseration, sexual flirtation or sympathy. I simply lost interest in friendships the more I discovered the delight of a direct intimacy to fellow human beings, which was so much more rewarding and fascinating that the feeling relationships I used to have.
GARY: I read about Sorrow in the AF glossary pages. One thing that rang my bell, in particular, was when it said:
Oh Boy, does that hit the mark. That seems exactly like what is happening. I feel like I have done something wrong and am being corrected, disciplined in no uncertain terms, brought back into the fold. I have strayed far, far away from the herd. Whilst I haven’t abandoned my family completely, I maintain considerable distance, and I am unaffected by any feeling of loyalty to my family or tribe. I also am on my own a good deal. I do not see myself as keeping any friends at work or being concerned to make any allies. That does not mean that I am blatantly unfriendly, but I just don’t seem to have the kind of relationship with co-workers that I see others having.
So what I am seeing here, from the reading in the glossary and thinking about it on my own, is that sorrow is a pre-birth programmed instinct to keep one in line with one’s group, tribe, work group, family group, etc. It is a way to insure that humans will conform with the wretched status quo even if that means being peevish, unhappy, or malevolent.
VINEETO: I found it useful to make a clear distinction between sorrow and the need to belong although they have common aspects. Leaving the herd created fear in me many times, popping up at regular intervals whenever the immensity of becoming actually free hit home.
The first layer of sorrow was closely linked to my social identity, to being a social being. I found that questioning common beliefs, i.e. how I should be and how things should be, and particularly questioning my spiritual beliefs, i.e. we are all here to suffer because it is God’s will, were essential to leaving the sticky sorrow-soup that is the glue holding humanity together.
Later I discovered the second layer of sorrow – compassion. Once my personal sorrow had disappeared out of my life and everything was running smoothly due to my rapidly diminishing social identity, I became more and more sensitive to, and aware of, the immensity of human suffering and sorrow. Compassion, the bittersweet feeling arising out of the nurture instinct, is very seductive in that is fulfils the need to belong without the tedious self-centred struggles of day-to-day sorrowful relationships. One simply lies on the couch and, watching the stark news in the world, feels connected to all the suffering people out there. Of course, nobody but me receives any benefit from this feeling – which proves, despite common belief, that compassion is an utterly selfish feeling.
GARY: Everything about sorrow says to me ‘You will never leave us. You will always carry this sadness around with you. You cannot be happy. Whatever you do in life or no matter how far you travel, you will always have me to remind you of who you are’.
A little further on in the glossary, it says the following:
It is hard for me to admit that I want to belong, that I am not free from this herding instinct.
VINEETO: I found that the need to belong was slowly, slowly replaced by my judgement of silly and sensible and the obvious tangible benefits I gained from not belonging to a miserable group, race or battling gender. Of course, it is invaluable to have someone to talk or write to and share common sense and the experience of success without being continuously cut down to size, a behaviour directly linked to the herding instinct. Everyone who is not aware of his or her instinctual need to belong can only judge you as a competitor to the present leader or leaders or a lonely madman the moment it becomes apparent that you are walking tall in the world. Watching herding behaviour in animals has been very useful research material for understanding my own feelings and behaviour and that of other people towards me.
GARY: Perhaps outwardly I behave as if it does not affect me that much, but the fears that I experienced when ‘I’ am under scrutiny for apparently not ‘fitting in’ are telling a different story. I think that it will be important for me to investigate this instinct. So, the basic thrust of the instinct, as I understand it so far, is to ensure loyalty and conformity to the group? Is that it? Or is there something that I am missing? I would welcome feedback from anybody who has dealt with or is dealing with this sort of thing. I have wondered if what I am experiencing is the ostracization or rejection by the group that others talk about, you know, the ‘you just don’t seem like everybody else here – what’s the matter with you?’ How have other people dealt with this?
VINEETO: I have found two aspects to ‘ostracization’ – one was my own fear of being on my own and the other was the actual withdrawal, resentment and sometimes attack from others for leaving the commonly agreed terrain of malice and sorrow.
I could eventually tackle the fear of being on my own, because of the memories from my pure consciousness experiences where any separation magically disappears the moment the ‘self’ goes in abeyance. In a PCE it is clear that I have always been on my own and lived my own life without great problems. It is the feeling of separation, fear and worry arising from a ‘self’ that makes the feeling of ostracization a common reaction. In the end it was not so much that others avoided me but I who lost interest in belonging to a Humanity that ardently insists on keeping the status quo of malice and sorrow. One can do nothing about the sceptical, disinterested or outright aggressive reaction from others except being practical and sensible and such reactions are an inevitable by-product of being a pioneer.
GARY: For instance, you stated:
The longer I practice actualism, the less and less inclined I am to be concerned with what is ‘fair’, both for myself and for others. My conception over the years of what is fair has shifted and changed, but the basic thing is that I am not interested in nursing grievances and harbouring resentment any longer. If I do notice a grievance or a resentment popping up, it only means there is some underlying belief that needs to be examined and demolished. I am sure that to those who march and labour for social justice, my lack of passion to aid those who are hungry or who are oppressed would appear as a dangerous and self-serving form of complacency and co-option by ‘the system’ but I am burned out on feeling righteous indignation over a pet cause and I have seen the disastrous consequences of defending a righteous cause only too clearly.
VINEETO: I fully agree with what you say. My comment that the system may not be fair was an acknowledgment of an ideal that has no existence outside of the human psyche. Life is not fair. The laws of nature favour the survival of the fittest, whether it be it the strongest or most fiendish, or the most sensible and intelligent. The ideal of fairness is purely a man-made ethical value and has nothing to do with what is the inherent nature of life on this planet.
However, I found the concept of unfairness to be one of the hardest things to come to terms with and I am glad that you brought up the issue. It is my ideal that life should be fair which sometimes triggers off traces of sorrow, compassion, pity or righteousness when I am watching reports of starving people in Africa, victims of landmines in northern Asia or victims of senseless violence – in short, people suffering physically through no fault of their own, i.e. not self-inflicted.
However, to suffer emotionally on top of any physical suffering one may have only exacerbates the situation. Emotional suffering is always ‘self’-inflicted in that only the emotional-instinctual entity, the ‘self’, and never the flesh-and-blood body harbours sorrow, grief and anguish. Only the ‘self’ harbours malice, revenge and resentment, which not only maintains and perpetuates emotional suffering but is also the cause of untold physical suffering. Far, far more people are killed and maimed by human beings fighting and feuding with other human beings than by any natural causes such as disease, earthquake, fire, famine or flood.
Which brings the issue of fairness back to precisely what you said – ‘the basic thing is that I am not interested in nursing grievances and harbouring resentment any longer’. By shifting one’s focus in such a way I stop grieving, whatever the reason for it may be, I stop resenting people or things, and I stop being angry or indignant, whatever the reason.
It is really very, very simple. It might take a while to fully grasp it, considering that it goes against all of one’s trained socialisation and all of one’s innate instinctual passion, but once the fact is understood that the only person I can change is me, it becomes blatantly obvious that changing oneself irrevocably is the only sensible and only possible solution to ending human misery.
GARY: (...) I’ve been doing one heck of a lot of ‘pulling’ lately, because just in the past day or two I’ve had an acute onset of sorrow, or rather I could say an eruption of those bitter-sweet feelings of grief, angst, sorrow, and disappointment, quite unbidden, and yet so, so familiar. Yesterday I felt almost paralysed by these feelings, they were so intense. Again, I am reminded that actualism is about examining and experiencing one’s feelings in the light of a sensuous awareness, not about suppressing or repressing one’s emotions.
I wonder if, as one is breaking free of the Human Condition, one is liable to experience fresh onslaughts of the ‘automatic/instinctual predisposition(s)’? I remember reading in Richard’s Journal the kind of scary, intensely abnormal and psychotic state that he experienced as he was on the verge of self-immolation, the description of which should be enough to deter any but the most serious of inquirers. I don’t want to suggest necessarily that that is what I am going through. But I have noted that the further and further I go my own way, depending on nobody, practicing attentiveness and sensuousness, and demolishing the social identities I have formed since birth, the more intensely do I seem to experience the raw survival program of the human species. So, last night, as I commenced to get a grip on my boot straps, a fascinated awareness reflected on ‘So this is human sorrow and suffering – this is the bitter-sweet feeling of sorrow, so deeply embedded, so ancient, so much a part of being a human being that it is in a sense my very life. It is what my life has been about, never very far around the corner, always lurking in the background, something I have tried to ameliorate through compassion and acts of pity and helpfulness, something I have tried to assuage by loving others and being loved, through being comforted and comforting in turn’.
I don’t want to ‘get over’ sorrow just to have it come back again. Is one in a sense subjecting oneself to these bouts of emotion? Am I on the wrong track? Are these ‘pity parties’ totally unnecessary or is there some intrinsic value to going through these experiences? What does one need to do to finally and irrevocably break free from these ‘automatic/instinctual predispositions’? I have a sense that your answer is going to be to get back to being happy and harmless just as soon as one can ... which would be a splendid answer ... but I’ll let you answer this yourself.
VINEETO: Recently I was watching a re-run of the Hollywood Cinderella fairy-tale called ‘Pretty Woman’. Once in a while I like to watch some kind of emotive movie just to check if they might trigger an emotional reaction in me. And indeed, almost at the end of the film a small scene between the heroine and the concierge of the hotel she had stayed in caught my attention. For a short moment these two were exchanging what one could call a common bond of sorrow, the mutual acknowledgement that life is not a fairy tale existence, that one should always have dreams but realize that they never come true, that it is pretty tough out there to survive. Their short interchange would be usually considered as friendship, even intimacy, mateship, love or shared compassion but, at a closer look, this ‘precious’ sentimental connection is nothing other than a shared agreement in sorrow, a bond that unites all those who suffer similar hardships like poverty, abuse, disillusionment or disappointment.
This bond of common sorrow is what connects me to humanity at large because everyone is suffering from more or less the same sorrow. Going to bed that night, I was still probing what exactly it is that makes me prone to tapping into the sorrow of other people, for instance while following the news reports or a even watching the occasional soap opera on TV. The next morning I dreamt about being deeply upset that I never had had any children. I was quite surprised about the dream, because I hardly ever have any emotional dreams any more and also never had any regrets at all about my choice of not having children, so I decided to investigate the topic a bit further.
I understood the dream to be closely connected to my bittersweet bond with people suffering the night before in the film. Both, the desire to raise children and feeling sad for a suffering humanity at large stem from the same instinctual passion of nurture, the instinctual drive to perpetuate the species. I could see that nurture and sorrow go hand in glove, so to speak, and that nurture is an integral part of the sticky feeling of belonging to a suffering – and malicious – humanity. I saw that it was the ‘good’ feeling of nurture lurking underneath the bitter-sweetness of sorrow that I had to identify and recognize in order to further loosen the grip that sorrow used to have on me.
The only way I know to get out of sorrow is to completely and utterly understand its ingredients. Once seen and understood the automatic-instinctual program stops being automatic and eventually must fall to pieces.
VINEETO: Mark Twain is only partially right in saying that ‘humour stems essentially from sorrow’.
Human beings are mostly occupied by malice and sorrow and therefore most humour stems not only from sorrow but even more so from malice. When I took up actualism I found that I incrementally began to loose interest in malicious humour, i.e. humour that is predominantly based on tearing others to pieces but I do enjoy those comedians who are able to poke fun at themselves or the absurdity of the human condition in general. I also noticed that with far less sorrow and misery, disappointment and frustration in my life, hysterical laughter as a vent for tension disappeared almost completely.
GARY: The Mark Twain quotation or remark was lifted from a PBS television production on the life of Mark Twain. It may not be exact or verbatim, but it was something like that. I found the program interesting in one respect as it showed the ‘private’ side of this great humorist and satirist and world-renowned author. Despite his enormous public appeal and worldwide notoriety, he appears to have been a very unhappy camper, controlling his wife and children and erupting in titanic rages from time to time. In that respect, he would certainly personally know something about how humour is a salve for sorrow. Since I cannot remember the exact quotation, I might have erred in presenting it the way I did.
VINEETO: This is what I found about Mark Twain –
I don’t think you erred much in your quotation because Mark Twain’s outlook on life was indeed sorrowful and resentful and humour was therefore a tool to make the burden of life bearable. This type of humour is like crying with one eye while laughing with the other.
Just as an aside – when I watched the honour given to the Queen Mother at her funeral, I think that Tom Sawyer, one of Mark Twain’s characters, got it right. He had staged his own death at age 10 so that he could receive the honour at his funeral while still alive.
RESPONDENT: Interestingly though, I find my eyes will still produce tears when I, (or ‘I’), as soul and/or body, am moved by something ... it might be anything ... so I guess there are still some residual, instinctual, or physiological karmic issues to deal with? It is not really a problem to deal with but it is interesting to note and share with anyone interested? I know intellectually the whole process but there seems to be a soul, or physiological ‘something’ in operation still?
My laughter used to be almost uncontrollable fifteen years ago, but now I seem to only raise a chuckle ... angst or nervous energy release is dissipated with the dissipation of anxiety. The same seems to be true of tears ... it seems I still feel ... if only for milli-seconds ... all I can do is watch as a most interested observer ... watch and marvel at how me as this universe is working.
Any ideas anyone?
VINEETO: Tears, sympathy, empathy, love and compassion have been good indications for me that there was something to look at. Once I started to clean up my personal emotions and broadened my perspective from ‘self’-centred to factual, I became more aware of what is happening with other people. Television and new-papers, reports and films – they all gave me a very detailed picture of the malice and sorrow evident in everybody, and the way human beings treat other human beings often caused distress and brought tears to my eyes. Yet I knew that every feeling, be it for myself or for others, had its roots in my own instinctual passions – and they are the only thing I am able to change. My sorrow or being affected by others won’t change their situation, but by eliminating malice and sorrow in me I will stop causing ripples – at least I will then not be contributing to suffering in the world.
So, whenever I am moved by even the slightest feeling it is a sure indication for me that the ‘self’ is in action. And for me, 99% is not good enough.
RESPONDENT: To assume can be to egotistically presume superiority.
VINEETO: The other day I had a pure consciousness experience where I understood once again that the Human Condition of malice and sorrow is indeed the particular flavour of human beings on planet Earth. I experienced a broadened awareness that gave me an overview of planet Earth floating in space, observing all that is going on and seeing its common flavour of humanity, whatever the place, race, gender or age. Human beings, by their very nature are inflicted with the genetically-encoded instincts that produce malice and sorrow. They pervade every thought and action, are the fuel for every emotion and passion and make ‘life a bitch and then you die’. The social identity and the instinctual ‘self’ are intrinsic to and a result of the evolution that took place on this fair planet, the third rock from the Sun, in the Milkyway galaxy, in the infinite universe. Yet now the evolution has reached a point where humans can free themselves from the now unnecessary ‘appendix’ of the social identity and the animal survival instincts. What serendipity!
In this PCE I could also see that even though a staggering six billion people think, believe, feel and act within these parameters of the Human Condition, the actual world is nevertheless infinite, eternal, perfect, silent and magical. The actual world is always and everywhere present underneath the doom and gloom of our ‘self’-centred perception and can be discovered any moment. In such a PCE I can see that it does not matter that right now there is only Richard who lives in the actual world 24 hours a day, every day. This blithesome, magnificent and benevolent actual world exists always and everywhere around us, it is always here, always now and immediately experienced when I leave all of humanity behind.
Out of this and similar experiences, I don’t need ‘to assume’ – I know the Human Condition in its totality, in myself and therefore in everybody, because I can see it from not being afflicted by it for a certain period of time. Such experience is the opposite of ‘egotistical’ because a PCE is only possible when the whole ‘self’ is absent – in spiritual terms, both ego and soul. And yes, such an experience, even for a short period of time is vastly superior to any experience within the Human Condition. That’s why I want to live it every day, 24 hours a day. I don’t need to ‘presume superiority’, I simply write from the memory of the superior state evident in a pure consciousness experience and from the ongoing experience of Virtual Freedom. (...)
VINEETO: Yes, ‘we live in a very medically advanced society’. Therefore it is very well possible to have an old age that is as pleasant and as comfortable as one’s middle age. One can also have an old age that is as emotionally traumatic as one’s middle age unless one does something about it, and this will have the added advantage that one then won’t be an emotional burden to one’s children!
Strangely enough I have hardly met anyone who was interested in changing his or her painful, sorrowful or traumatic situation for a happy and harmless life, whatever the age or gender. Emotional traumas are for those who like to keep their emotions and their identity. But, in fact, there is no need to have an emotional trauma at all, provided one is ready to give them up and willing to investigate into the source of one’s feelings and emotions.
Eliminating one’s identity and leaving Humanity behind has the great advantage that one does not need to suffer with the sufferers and/or rescue the victims of self-imposed suffering. In my experience, most people want sympathy and com-passion (the word means literally – company in suffering), but nobody is interested in practical methods to bring about actual change – so any attempt to rescue others or offer advice is only like pissing in the wind – you get wet for trying.
VINEETO: Yet, to become free from the Human Condition in order to experience the actual world has been the most significant thing in my life. Every bit that I cleaned up in myself was significant for it changed my life for the better and stopped creating ripples of malice and sorrow in other people’s lives. The only significant thing that ‘I’ can do is to get out of the road.
RESPONDENT: ‘I’ have the road completely barricaded right now and it would be significant to get out of the road. ‘I’ feel miserable.
VINEETO: But the Human Condition in each of us is not just a belief. At the core, ‘I’ am the instinctual passions.
RESPONDENT: Yes I agree that this is so. The scientific evidence is indisputable. ‘I’ am the instinctual passions and I don’t like it but right now I’m tired of becoming. ‘I’ just feel like accepting the fact that ‘I’ am my instincts and be done with it. <snip> I don’t have any drive left. <snip> I feel like just staying with the ‘feeling being ‘and quit trying to change it. I feel bogged down and stuck.
VINEETO: In moments of extreme fear and doubt, these feeling seem to be the only thing that exists and they seem to last forever. The very nature of instincts is that they are utterly convincing and trigger an overwhelming automatic ‘quick and dirty’ reaction, if you remember the findings of Josef LeDoux’. (You’ll find relevant information under ‘Instincts’ and ‘Fear’ in The Actual Freedom Trust library.)
In the beginning it is often only some time after the ‘attack of the instincts’ that is one able to look at the situation with awareness, common sense and intelligence. You may then question if the response to stop the inquiry because of fear was really your best shot.
But if you prefer to stay ‘with the ‘feeling being’ and quit trying to change it’, at least you are not alone – six billion people prefer to stay with the Tried and Failed. Being a ‘feeling being’ usually means feeling ‘miserable’, ‘bogged down and stuck’, ‘helpless and hopeless’, not to mention anger, hate, malice, resentment, jealousy, insecurity, fear, neediness, greed, loneliness and sorrow.
RESPONDENT: I have a sense of abandoning humanity but I have no energy left for investigating. I have doubt like all of this investigating is what is bogging me down. <snip> I get the message loud and clear that my own survival instincts are the underlying cause but I feel helpless and hopeless to do anything about it. It even seems right now that the effort to do something about it is the cause of the problem.
The actual world of sensual delight seems like the memory of a fairy tale. I have lost it.
VINEETO: No 3 says it perfectly well: ‘Do these feelings really serve you in any real beneficial way, what are the practicalities of doing away with this, that says this is your limit you will not venture past this. The main thing is, if it is controlling you, then you are believing it. Let’s face it, emotion is truth but not fact, truth is not freedom, fact is, as can be directly perceived or deduced with reason.’ [endquote].
RESPONDENT: I’m up against the mother of all beliefs that I can’t do anything about it. I can’t change the instincts. This belief is so strong that it looks like a fact so what looks best to do is accept the fact that I am my instincts. This seems like the only possible relief.
VINEETO: Your reply shows that you are taking this ‘mother of all beliefs’ as a reality that you won’t question and therefore you accept that you cannot change. Fair enough, it is a deeply ingrained insidious belief, not only repeated for thousands of years by millions of people as the only wisdom but also deeply rooted in our genetic instinctual heritage. It needs sincere intent, courage and awareness to start questioning the ‘truth of our ancestors’.
The moment I questioned anything that I had believed all my life I was up against a whirlpool of fear, belief being the very substance of my identity. There are only two ways to respond to that fear – to go back to being miserable without possibility for change, or to stop running, face the fear and start investigating. The first was not a long-term option for me – knowing about Actual Freedom and not pursuing it meant that I would never be able to face myself in the mirror again with dignity.
Whenever I gathered enough courage to stop running and face the fear I was up for a surprise – the biggest part of fear was being afraid of fear itself. The moment I stopped avoiding fear, the remaining fear was substantially reduced. Still big enough to make me shake – but I had understood enough to know that I could not run forever. Fear, the very core of our software, the Human Condition, will only disappear as that software is being eliminated, anything else will only be a postponement or an avoidance.
So whenever fear hits me I ‘hold on to the mast and let the storm pass’, not make any decisions because of fear but sit it out. It always passes.
Of course, one has to acknowledge that ‘I am my instincts’. But serendipity has it that we are not only inflicted with instinctual passions but are also equipped with intelligence and the ability to be aware of what is happening. It is these very qualities that have the potential to separate us from the other animals. These are the tools to re-wire the brain, to slowly, slowly shift the balance from passionate beliefs to clear facts, from automatic instinctual reactions to considered, sensible, appropriate action and sensual delight.
I leave you with a recipe from Richard to get out of stuckness, Alan’s favourite piece of writing – by the way, Alan, how are you doing?
RESPONDENT: I have a new situation to deal with since talking with you last. My Mom is in the hospital and I am spending most of my time taking care of her. This subject of fear is still appropriate in relation to how I am dealing with this situation. The second I start thinking about it I am overwhelmed with fear, worry, etc.
However, I find that running the question ‘how am I’ is helping me to deal with the situation. Asking the question has helped me to stay in the moment and what I find is everything is ok in this moment right now. All my fears are in regard to how am I going to manage taking care of her at a future time. Right now at this moment in time she is taken care of.
VINEETO: Life seems to have given you a serendipitous opportunity to have a closer look at the instinctual passion of nurture, its correlating feelings of love and belonging and the implications of being a social identity as a family member. Quite an exciting range of possible discoveries that could help answer your earlier question of ‘How do I become intimate with the instincts?’
Love and compassion, sympathy and empathy are our usual ways of relating to family and friends and through the same emotional ‘channel’ we also invite their fears and worries, sorrow and resentment, anger and hatred. There is only one way when one relates to people affectively and that is within the rules and ways of the Human Condition. The moment I feel sympathy for someone I am also swamped by their fears, the moment I am empathic for someone’s suffering I plug into the collective misery of mankind. The need to belong makes one susceptible to everybody’s feelings, be it anger or fear, greed or suffering.
This is not just a poetic expression, it is my very experience. In order to become happy and harmless I had to examine my every relationship – to Peter, to my peers, to my work-mates, to my parents and relatives. Whenever I ‘reached out’ emotionally, understanding someone’s sorrow, fear or anger, I could not help being affected – that’s the very idea of ‘sharing’ and the common remedy against feeling lonely in the first place. But there is no choice of feeling just the nice, good feelings with or for someone and disregarding their negative feelings – by the very nature of emotions I am being hooked into the emotional web the moment I choose to go along with affective feelings.
The alternative was to consciously and deliberately decide to leave the cozy nest of bitter-sweet feelings, to abandon the ‘squabbling and miserable humanity’ and examine and then eliminate feelings and emotions in myself. I have found that the ‘good’ emotions were even more insidious than the ‘bad’ ones. Many people would like to get rid of anger, sadness and fear, but who would want to abandon love, compassion, beauty and bliss? But once I understood the intrinsic connection between love and fear, compassion and sorrow, empathy and suffering, I decided to get free of the lot.
When I love someone I am afraid to lose him or her. In order to have compassion for someone the other needs to be ‘in the pits’ emotionally – otherwise there is no use for my compassion. Empathy is even more insidious – the suffering creeps under the skin and one never quite knows what is happening. And all this sorry-go-round for the sake of not feeling lonely, bored and fearful? I discovered that by examining and eliminating my very identity as an appreciated and valued member of society I eliminated loneliness and boredom at the same time. And not even the closest friendship can ever take away one’s fear of death – for fear to stop the very ‘I’ that generates this fear has to become extinct.
Love is not the solution, love is the problem. With love disappearing I could for the first time live in peace and harmony, ease and equity with another human being, day-in, day-out, 24 hrs a day, without bicker or quarrel, crisis or boredom. Without love, actual intimacy and genuine benevolence became possible for the first time. What a serendipitous trade-in!
VINEETO: Love and compassion, sympathy and empathy are our usual ways of relating to family and friends and through the same emotional ‘channel’ we also invite their fears and worries, sorrow and resentment, anger and hatred. There is only one way when one relates to people affectively and that is within the rules and ways of the Human Condition. The moment I feel sympathy for someone I am also swamped by their fears, the moment I am empathic for someone’s suffering I plug into the collective misery of mankind. The need to belong makes one susceptible to everybody’s feelings, be it anger or fear, greed or suffering.
RESPONDENT: I saw yesterday what you are saying about sympathy and empathy. By not buying in to her suffering I was relieved of my suffering and I was better able to take care of her. Also have seen that ‘I’ am rotten to the core because a lot of my suffering has been worrying about ‘me’ having to take care of her.
VINEETO: To examine the so-called ‘good’ emotions of nurture, affective care, sympathy, friendship, duty, love and compassion is a fascinating subject and can only be done by questioning and examining at the same time the morals and ethics of society that forms one’s very social identity. If one wants to be actually free of the Human Condition, one has to examine and recognize that ‘good’ simply means ‘morally acceptable’ and ‘right’ is just another ethical value, both of which vary from tribe to tribe and from society to society. The ‘good’ is a much a bondage as the ‘bad’ – even more so because it seems much more desirable. As humans we don’t want to lose the other’s affection and reassurance, the appreciation of our peers, the cozy safety of being part of a family or group, the comforting knowledge of doing what everyone considers the ‘right’ thing or the ‘good’ deed.
Freedom lies in the opposite direction. On the path to actual freedom I did not bother to try to solve the moral or ethical problems of what is ‘good’ or ‘right’ but focussed my attention instead on discovering my own ethical and moral values – my social identity in action. ‘Ah, I’m trying to find out what is right? I’m upset that someone did the ‘wrong’ thing? I’m aiming again to be a ‘good’ person?’ These were indications that my moral identity was in action and I used my awareness to examine this very identity and learned to step out of it. What is now left is a simple sensible solution – and mostly my worries were seen to be an S.E.P.-situation, Someone Else’s Problem.
VINEETO: Have you found some practical actual answers to your above question of ‘can I completely free ‘myself’ from suffering without ignoring her and still make sensible choices as to caring for her?’
RESPONDENT: Asking ‘Who is it that is suffering?’ offers relief and then I just do what is necessary at the time to care for her.
VINEETO: ‘Asking ‘Who is it that is suffering?’’ might easily lead to the ‘other’, higher identity of ‘the watcher of it all’, the spirit, who dis-identifies from the suffering and transcends its ‘mere’ bodily existence. This other identity can indeed offer temporary relief but keeps one trapped in the dichotomy of good and evil, a life torn between developing a higher ‘self’ and resentment towards having to perform the duties of everyday life ‘in the marketplace’.
In order to make the distinction between the old familiar spirit-ual practice (spirit being the imaginary entity inside the body) and actualism, it is essential to replace ‘who am I’ with ‘what am I?’ Asking ‘who’ always indicates an identity while ‘what’ clearly points to the factual flesh-and-blood body without any social or instinctual identity whatsoever. Asking ‘what am I’ will also bring to surface the particular aspects of one’s identity that pollute and obstruct the experience of the purity of what I am – a flesh-and-blood body experiencing the always present perfection of this magnificent universe.
Thus the question is not ‘who is it that is suffering’ but what is the cause of this suffering, where does it come from, what triggered it, when did it start, what are its roots? By investigating what hinders me to be happy and harmless in this moment, the ‘who’ I am will incrementally and noticeably diminish while ‘what’ I am will become more and more apparent until one day you know that you have always been here.
VINEETO: Talking to Peter later on I realized that there is only one solution to any problem that occurs – only when I have enough of it am I ready to get out of it, I simply stop feeding the feeling and, bingo, the problem disappears with the bit of identity that had kept it in place. It might take a long time until one has had enough – and some people are obviously tough and stubborn sufferers – but once the limit is reached, a curious decision can be made and then it is only a matter of minutes to be free of the burdening feeling. If the understanding and decision is total, that feeling won’t come back. And then, one is able to make sensible responses to the situation, free of affective feelings.
RESPONDENT: If this is true then obviously I haven’t had enough. I am suffering right now.
VINEETO: Actual Freedom is not a miraculous event that will one day appear all by itself and then all suffering will be over. Actualism, the process to becoming actually free, is a verified method which provides one with the means and tools to investigate the nitty-gritty of the Human Condition in oneself and – when applied with persistence, sincerity, diligence and pure intent – one can successively and permanently free oneself from one’s social identity and then from one’s instinctual passions.
The first thing to investigate is one’s social identity. Unless one has freed oneself from the social mores and ethical rules, from the various role-models that we have learned and adopted throughout our life time it will be impossible to tackle the deeper layers of the instinctual passions. Richard has outlined the social identity in his last letter to No 13 –
RESPONDENT: I even feel as if I am abandoning Actual Freedom.
VINEETO: Okey, dokey, that seems to be more likely and it surely is easier than ‘abandoning humanity’. For obvious reasons Actual Freedom is not everyone’s cup of tea and it requires – as Peter wrote to someone earlier –
It is everyone’s freedom and choice as to what they want to do with their lives and only a few seem to be dissatisfied and frustrated enough with the results of their spiritual search to be vitally interested in the Third Alternative. Being vitally interested in Actual Freedom and peace-on-earth will give one the courage and sincere intent to actually and irrevocably change one’s direction of thought, and one’s actions, in order to become happy and harmless, 24 hrs a day, every day.
The first time I discovered that it is, in fact, possible to change one’s action I was rather shocked.
Peter and I had just started our relationship and Peter had discovered that he had been battling me to change according to his ideas. Peter wrote about it in ‘Living Together’ –
When Peter decided to stop battling me I reacted in disbelief. Everybody, particularly spiritual authorities and famous group leaders, had emphasized that it is not possible to change one’s behaviour in such a radical and irrevocable manner, just by mere decision. One would need long meditative practice or extensive therapy experience that could possibly ‘heal the wounds’ which supposedly caused such behaviour in the first place. Furthermore, Eastern spirituality teaches that it is entirely unnecessary to change one’s behaviour because one merely needs to transcend one’s ego and ‘realize’ that all is but a dream.
So I observed Peter very carefully for the next few days to see if he was merely suppressing the desire to ‘battle’ or just changing his manipulation-strategy. To my shock and surprise I had to acknowledge that he had actually changed his behaviour, by one definite and radical decision. The ‘bad’ news was that now I had no excuse to postpone putting my ‘good intentions’ into action instead of wanking about how nice it would be if one could only change oneself. The good news was that I finally had ‘live’ proof, through Peter’s changed behaviour, that one can indeed change Human Nature and thus can begin to put an end to all the sorrow and malice that is going on in the world – in one person, myself. It was now simply a matter of confidence and courage, because changing oneself based on intelligent thought, insight and subsequent action is irrevocable – and it irrevocably diminishes one’s ‘self’ each time, bit by bit.
VINEETO: I don’t know what ‘never-never land’ represents for you, but I am reminded of Peter Pan’s dreamland for children, where one is transported from the misery and dullness of the ‘real’ world into the unreal land of imagination, where one never has to become a grown-up.
RESPONDENT: Never-never land was not a good description to use because you have no way of knowing exactly what I meant. It did seem like an unreal land but it is more of a void or not-knowing. Kind of a disconnected feeling which is what I meant by a feeling of abandoning humanity.
VINEETO: ‘Abandoning humanity’ in Actual Freedom terms stands for gaily taking the pen-ultimate step before self-immolation. After one has removed one’s social identity of being a son or daughter, a man or woman, an American or Englishman, a seeker, a writer, a doctor, etc. and has become an utter non-identity, one is then able to investigate the collective psyche, the result of the instinctual passions that all human beings have in common. Applying attentiveness and awareness to the instinctual passions as they arise enables one to stop acting as per the instinctual software in the brain and thus one can slowly, slowly reduce the automated reactive and emotional impact that instincts have on our feelings, thoughts and behaviour. In doing so one not only becomes happy and harmless but also stops being part of the biggest fold of all, humanity itself. One is no longer a member of the species that ‘nourishes malice and sorrow in their bosom’ to quote Richard’s expression.
Whereas ‘a disconnected feeling’ is clearly an affective feeling, arising out of the instinctual passions of fear, aggression, nurture and desire. To have a ‘a disconnected feeling’ has nothing at all to do with ‘abandoning humanity’; it is, on the contrary, common to all human beings and arises out of the Human Condition in each of us.
You see, in order to communicate about the possible advantage that Actual Freedom could have for your life, it is essential to not mix up the terms that we use with emotional or spiritual terms. For instance, ‘not-knowing’ is used by Buddhists and other Eastern religions as an expression for the highest achievable wisdom when one enters the ‘Unknowable’, synonymous for the ‘Truth’. Aspiring to or succeeding in achieving the ‘Truth’ and reaching a state of ‘not-knowing’ is well accepted in the ‘book of rules for humanity’. When achieving a state of ‘not-knowing’ one simply exchanges the illusion of the ‘self’ for the grand delusion of a higher ‘Self’.
VINEETO: Since I finished this letter I have read your recent posts on the list and I appreciate your sincerity. <snip>
RESPONDENT: There is a question I would like to ask you. I didn’t feel that I was acting out of malice with my last reply to you. Mainly I was reacting to your attitude when you came blasting in here and causing a big stir to get attention which I think is something else you have learned from Richard. It didn’t feel like malice at the time I was replying because I felt what I was saying was the truth and I still do. However, I definitely felt sorrow afterwards.
So, my question is: If there is sorrow does that mean there was malice involved even if it didn’t seem like malice?
VINEETO: Nobody but you can know with certainty what you felt the moment you wrote. I have no way of knowing if you were acting out of malice or not. Also, it is not necessarily a valid indication if someone is feeling insulted that the other was malicious for we are instinctually programmed to always react fearfully and defensively whether the supposed threat is real, imagined or intuited. Personally, I do not feel insulted by anyone, because I have investigated and eliminated my own malice and sorrow to the point where I cannot be insulted any longer.
When I took the plunge and decided that I wanted to eradicate malice in me I had to sharpen my awareness as to the nature of my malice. I became aware that aggression and malice are not only contained in the wish or intention to physically hurt or verbally abuse, but I started to notice the subtler, more refined versions of aggression and malice in me. This included the desire to get the upper hand, to gloat over another’s failure, to cut others down to size, to use facts or so-called ‘truths’ to denigrate others, to pass the buck, to impose my bad moods on others and to feel resentment, blame, arrogance, ill-wishing, contempt or repulsion.
The relevant point to your question was that I did not stop making factual assessments or judgments – in fact, I found myself using more of my intelligence the more I questioned my feelings. The knack of finding out about malice was to stop and investigate the feeling that almost always came with the sensible judgement of the other, this automatic program of my identity which puts me up and the other down – or, in the spiritual perversion of humility, seeks to keep me low in order to be extolled by others as being most humble.
You said to your correspondent –
Considering sorrow to be a unassailable and unchangeable fact is but to accept one’s lot in life and resign that you always have to be sorrowful, whereas acknowledging sorrow as an affective feeling based on the instinctual passions of fear, aggression, nurture and desire allows for the exciting possibility to do something about it. When it is happening, sorrow is very real but given it is an affective feeling it is not factual.
When I investigated sorrow in me I found many variations of being sad – resentment, guilt, regret, shame, fear, closing the door to my fellow human beings, unfulfilled desires and expectations, powerlessness etc, etc. At the core of each investigation I found ‘me’, who I think and feel myself to be, who was responsible for creating sorrow in my life.
As evidenced in a pure consciousness experience where the ‘self’ is temporarily absent, emotions are not a fact i.e. they can be eliminated. However, in order to successfully investigate sorrow I needed the firm intent to stop imposing both my malice and my sorrow on others. Malice, once one dares to acknowledge it, is a pretty clear emotion while we humans seem to be drenched in sorrow as if it was our daily bread. The deep-seated resentment at having to be here, as in ‘I did not asked to be born’, ‘life wasn’t meant to be easy’ or ‘life’s a bitch and then you die’ lies at the core of all the various forms of sorrow.
RESPONDENT: I do understand sorrow.
VINEETO: Good. Because when you understand sorrow utterly and completely, it disappears.
RESPONDENT: I am sorry that I have ever tried to have a discussion with you. It has been a total waste of time and I feel sorrow over that.
VINEETO: Ah, but that is not an understanding of sorrow but passing the blame for your own sorrow on to someone else. I understand now why you said to Peter –
The ‘first base’ for comprehending and becoming free of sorrow is to understand that sorrow, just like any other feeling, has its source in one’s own instinctual programming – regardless of whoever or whatever is the trigger for one’s feeling. To make someone else responsible for one’s own feelings only serves to multiply and perpetuate sorrow and adds feelings of malice such as frustration, condemnation and accusation to the equation, which in its wake brings one even more sorrow.
Given that the topic of our discussion has been your theory that ‘sorrow comes from fear’ and the fact that ‘at root fear is the most basic of all the instinctual passions’ I might add something that is essential to understand fear. Fear in human beings is the direct result of ‘me’ wanting to survive – ‘I’, the passionate alien entity inside this flesh and blood body, will do anything in order to stay in existence. Thus the only way fear can be diminished is to diminish the ‘self’ – the weaker the ‘self’ becomes, the less fear there is. There is simply no other way to permanently decrease and eventually eliminate fear because ‘I’ am fear and fear is ‘me’. The magic ingredient for diminishing the ‘self’ is altruism. Obviously, when my intent is focussed on a goal greater than ‘me’, ‘self’-interest and ‘self’-centredness then play a minor role in the game. Contrary to the traditional idea of battling and transcending fear via ‘self’-enhancement, the fact is that only an altruistic pursuit can reliably reduce and eventually eradicate fear because only altruism can break the instinctual ‘self’-centredness that is the very root of fear.
The traditional honourable goals have been to battle malice and sorrow in other people through political, religious or therapeutical pursuits – thus everyone meddles in everyone else’s life and is busy trying to solve everyone else’s problems. For an actualist the altruistic pursuit translates into actively eradicating malice and sorrow from his or her life in order not to burden anyone with his or her sorrow and not to hurt anyone with his or her malice. Fear then disappears on its own accord because the more faint the ‘self’ becomes, as the ‘self’-serving emotions are progressively investigated and eliminated, the less there is for ‘me’ to control, deny or defend. And as the shackles of malice and sorrow and its accompanying fear disappear, a whole magical and sensuous actual universe becomes readily apparent.
RESPONDENT: This is more of your useless bs.
VINEETO: Given that your aim in life is completely different to my aim – you want to become free from fear while I am becoming free from malice and sorrow – it is no wonder that you consider the sharing of my discoveries and experiences as ‘useless bull shit’.
RESPONDENT: Nowhere did I say that anyone else is responsible for my sorrow. This just shows the utter futileness of trying to have a discussion with you or Peter.
VINEETO: If you don’t feel that I am responsible for your sorrow, then what was the purpose and significance of complaining to me that you feel sorrow about our correspondence?
RESPONDENT: I wasn’t blaming or complaining. I made a simple statement about my own sorrow: ‘I do understand sorrow. I am sorry that I have ever tried to have a discussion with you. It has been a total waste of time and I feel sorrow over that.’
VINEETO: When I investigated my sorrow, the initial trigger of sorrow was only the entry into the deeper realms of my psyche to find the underlying causes of my sorrow – my expectations, my beliefs, my values, my ways of relating to people, etc. – until I found the original source of sorrow in the instinctual passions all humans are endowed with. People, things and events are always only the initial spark for the sorrow that is part of everyone’s social and instinctual programming. Provided you find the core of your sorrow that was triggered by some event, then that sorrow disappears.
RESPONDENT: I only have one question left: Is it ok to come here without talking to you or Peter?
VINEETO: This question shows just how an un-investigated belief can easily tie one up into knots and bounds. Despite a long discussion with Richard on this particular subject in July last year you stubbornly stick to your concept that actualism is a restricting cult and a religion. <snip>
You further maintain that this list consists of a bunch of ‘religious devotees’ and now you even imagine that it is ‘the Peter and Vineeto show’ – <snip> Now, according to this fantasy you conclude that you have to ask Peter and Vineeto for permission to talk to other actualists. It has always been made clear that this mailing list is un-moderated, free for all and set up to explore and share how to become free from the Human Condition. Everyone who is interested can write or read as he or she pleases. <snip>
However, your question ‘is it ok to come here without talking to you or Peter’ sheds some light on your first statement no where did I say that anyone else is responsible for my sorrow. If you don’t reckon that I am responsible for your sorrow about a discussion you consider futile, then why ask that I shut up whenever you write? You seek to stop your sorrow by attempting to change someone else’s action – asking me to shut up – instead of finding and resolving the cause of your sorrow in you. The sensible solution for me was to discover and sufficiently investigate the source of sorrow in me – my beliefs, values and instinctual passions – which then enabled me to live happily and harmlessly in the world-as-it-is with people-as-they-are. It is an eminently sensible and enjoyable way to live.
RESPONDENT: I said I feel sorrow over that. I didn’t say that you caused my sorrow. I don’t have time to waste addressing all the other things you said in your last post. Hopefully, you can understand this one simple fact. Please don’t write to me anymore.
VINEETO: No, I don’t understand ‘this simple fact’. You say I am not responsible for your sorrow – then why do you seek the solution in telling me to shut up?
As I said in the bit that you didn’t ‘have time to waste addressing’ – ‘everyone who is interested can write or read as he or she pleases’ and I might add that the word ‘un-moderated mailing list’ also means that there is no authority who can stifle anyone else’s communication. It is impossible to have an in-depth discussion about facets of the human condition that are usually considered too heretical or too close to the bone unless the conversation is unfettered by cultural moral and ethical restrictions and unless it moves beyond the limitations of personal sensitivities.
Is it really so hard to comprehend that the key to your happiness lies in your hands and your hands only? If you are not happy with the conversation, you are free to stop conversing at any time. The key to understanding the method of actual freedom is that everyone is solely and unilaterally responsible for cleaning up their own malice and sorrow in themselves. As such, applying the method of actualism enables me to live happily and peacefully without having to request that anybody change their behaviour and/or their actions to suit my particular emotional demands, needs or whims, whatever they may be at the time. If peace in the world is conditional on other’s changing it is worth remembering that there are reportedly over 6 billion people in the world and that’s a lot of people to change if ever there is going to be peace and harmony in ‘my’ world.
RESPONDENT: You are right here. You are free to lie all you want about what I said and I don’t have to answer.
VINEETO: I remember the time when I felt the need to be in control of what other people thought or said about me and it was certainly disquieting, in fact this need or desire consumed a great amount of my thoughts and feelings. That is the very reason why I keep reporting that I’ve used Richard’s method to become free of exactly those concerns – the habitual yet futile propensity to change others. I stopped searching for the solution in that direction, turned round 180 degrees, and began to fix up myself. It is a decidedly liberating experience to say the least.
RESPONDENT: Whilst I have no memory of a PCE, I do remember that I used to sit outside my parents’ house and contemplate the beauty around me until I one day came to a point where there was, for a split second, no ‘me’ there. Unfortunately the feeling function kicked in suddenly I felt the ‘tremendous love’ for the universe and ‘God’. This unfortunate incident led me down the path of the spiritual seeker who is trying to attempt to ‘make sense of it all’.
VINEETO: I know from my own experience how tempting this grand feeling of ‘tremendous love’ for all is. I am glad that Richard had warned us not to ground on the ‘Rock of Enlightenment’, so I did not have to get lost into that passionate fantasy for too long. But it is good that I had the experience of that tremendous love so clearly because I know now from my own experience, where not to go. It only leads to power, sorrow for all and the whole enlightenment-saga.
That ‘split second’ of your experience is, as Alan points out, a fascinating bit, a split second of a PCE. When such a moment comes around the corner next time, you could stay with the physical – with the actual – with the senses. Then feelings of love and beauty have less chance to overtake the pure consciousness experience.
RESPONDENT: (...) Recently I have been feeling great despair. I was feeling sick the other night and ‘I’ realised that no-one was there to help me. My parents were 2 hours away at their home, and my girlfriend was at least 30 minutes away. There was so much hurt at being so alone. I keep trying to console myself by reminding myself that as a body I have always been alone ever since birth. But through dismantling the self has left me with the knowledge that ‘I’ will feel alone, like I do.
VINEETO: It seems hard sometimes when you are fully confronted with some part of the Human Condition – in your case the fear of being helpless and the sorrow of being alone. It is essential to understand that this is the condition we are all inflicted with, whatever each person might do to ease the full impact of it. And now, that the hope for consolation and being part of a close-knit community has lost some of its conviction for you, the fear of being alone becomes even more obvious.
Richard wrote to No 7 the other day:
The trouble is that mostly we believe those feelings to be factual. We believe in their reality, in their substance – fear can create any horror story in the head and you start to tremble. I remember many times in my investigation into the Human Condition when I was lying on the couch shivering in fear; but I was determined not to let it overtake me, i.e. make me do silly things, make me dependant on another’s useless consolation. Not running away and not acting it out, the storm would eventually subside allowing me to examine exactly the cause of the particular fear. Then the thrilling and exciting part of the investigation started, the door to a new discovery, the tackling of the fear and leaving it behind as the mirage it is.
So yes, the journey to actual freedom is sometimes sprinkled with fear – after all, you are taking apart the very self you think and feel you are. Peter’s Chapter on Fear might have some insights for you.
RESPONDENT: The despair, the desolation, and the thoughts that life is not worth living occur and leave me flattened. Your advice would be appreciated. The thought of giving up on actual freedom has occurred many times – ‘is this worth it?’ I keep asking myself. I know to much now to ever rely on religion like I have in the past (eg. the most recent example of this was two years ago after I finished school, a few months later I had my first PCE), so what to do I don’t know.
VINEETO: What would change if you give up pursuing actual freedom? You would still be living in fear. Maybe soothed by a fairy dream-world of religious or spiritual beliefs and consolations – if you manage to believe in them again. Actual freedom gives you the option to tackle the fears as they come along and actually eliminate them, so as never to return again. You are not only the one who is having fear, you are also the investigator, the scientist. You investigate when fear rocks you to the core like a meteorologist would investigate a cyclone.
The outcome of tackling the Human Condition, one’s emotions and instincts, is astounding, a day to day life beyond your wildest dreams – happy and harmless, day by day, month by month. Have a look at Peter’s writing on virtual freedom, just to get a picture of how our life has improved over the last 2 years on the Library page of ‘Virtual Freedom’. You might need some time to read when you explore all the links.
Actual freedom is not a small thing to do, not like meditating a few hours per week without much impact on the rest of one’s life. It is a full time investigation and everything that comes up and happens in life is part of that investigation. It’s actual. And, with diligence and persistence, it works.
RESPONDENT: Vineeto, I would like to know something more about the happiness, benevolence and magnificence of the actual world. I can understand that it would be harmless because without ‘I’ there would be no malice. But wherefrom the happiness comes? Is it just the absence of sorrow?
Once you see the actual physical universe without the grey glasses of malice and sorrow and without the rose-coloured glasses of love and compassion, the magnificence becomes apparent. Take a sunset. Someone in love will see the beauty of the particular scene and be full of gratitude, love and awe. Someone who just split up with his girlfriend will see the sorrow, the transitory nature of all things, the ending of a day, a life, a period. Someone about to go to war will see the power and beauty of his God, pray for protection and feel supported in his passionate mission by the display of the glorious colours.
An actualist might see this immense fireball of helium in the sky, giving warmth and light and life to its orbiting planet called earth, all seen through the layer of atmosphere, giving it the wonderful display of ever-changing colours, different each day. To lay any feelings or imagination or even a creator-God over this magnificent event is to miss the actual experience of it. To experience the world around me without the distorting filter of self-centred emotions, feelings and instincts enables me to perceive and appreciate this infinite magnificence, this purity and perfection and this magical actuality of each moment in paradise.
RESPONDENT: Or is there anything positive about it?
VINEETO: ‘Positive’ is too small a word, for it is only invented to counteract the original objection to being here. The Human Condition in each of us inevitably results in not wanting to be here but to be somewhere else, in imaginary heights or in a hope for a better future or life after death. When senses and awareness are freed from the shackles of emotions, feelings, beliefs and instincts one is – as Richard says – ‘the universe experiencing itself as a sensate and reflective human being’, nothing less. Then, one is as benevolent as the rest of the universe.
I understand where your question may come from. The absence of sorrow, when one is empty of tears, can be experienced as a starkness, grey, empty and dull reality. Because this seems unbearable, one then cranks up some positive thoughts and feelings to ‘believe’ that life is not so terrible after all. This so-called happiness has nothing to do with the gay and abundant experience when there are no feelings and emotions.
The wide and wondrous path to Actual Freedom is to investigate and remove whatever feeling, emotion, belief or instinct surfaces until slowly, slowly the actual world becomes apparent – and its magnificent and benevolent nature. And you are then the bit of the universe that says ‘WOW, isn’t the physical universe extraordinary and amazing, wonder-full and perfect!’
RESPONDENT: Intellectual assessment and awareness are indeed great when forming judgments, assessments about the world of events, people, things around us; but feelings offer some innate mechanisms to do the same (error prone?): suspiciousness (smelling a rat), feeling rejected/ lonely (assesses one’s importance in the friend circles/society) etc. offer means of understanding/assessing complex things that maybe very laborious to calculate if one uses intellectual computation.
VINEETO: You said it yourself – ‘error prone’ – so much so that people are fighting and killing each other, and themselves, on the basis of their feeling-based assessments.
RESPONDENT: Can one not keep the assessment and not fight for it? Knowing that it is only an assessment?
VINEETO: Haven’t you noticed in yourself that when your assessment of a situation is based on and guided by instinctual passions such as fear or desire or aggression or nurture, then it is not ‘only’ an assessment but an overwhelming imperative to defend one’s assessment and act on it?
RESPONDENT: If one forgoes the feelings, one might simply lose track of such information... become unaware of various things that feelings give feedback (what others think of me?
VINEETO: It is the identity that needs information about what others think of me and what they feel about me – I as this flesh-and-blood body can take what people say and do at face value and act accordingly.
RESPONDENT: By taking the words at face value only, aren’t we blinding ourselves to the ‘feeling being’ behind the scene?
VINEETO: No, it’s the other way around – by letting yourself be guided by your feelings and instinctual passions you are blinding yourself to what is actually the case. However much intuition about other’s feelings you think you may have activated, when all is said and done, what you are feeling are your own feelings and your assessments are according to your own feeling-based values, ideals and interests.
RESPONDENT: Aren’t we losing the sensitivity to the feelings of others? Won’t we make light of other’s words if we have no idea of the intensity of the suffering behind it? Aren’t we depending a lot on the ability of the other to articulate in explicit language instead of reading the information that is there in various forms?
VINEETO: According to you, what is the value of intuitively feeling another’s suffering without being able to offer a solution to end this suffering permanently?
RESPONDENT: What are the qualitative differences between A and B?)...
VINEETO: The qualitative difference is that relying on one’s feelings is not only a fickle and unreliable affair but also guided by worry, greed, loyalty, malice and sorrow because one’s feelings arise from the instinctual survival passions. Whereas minimizing both the good and bad feelings in favour of the felicitous/ innocuous feelings gives me a gay and delightful experience of being alive – every day.
RESPONDENT: Can we not get rid of the deleterious effects of the feelings and use feelings as assessment device only?
VINEETO: Apparently not.
Apart from all the domestic squabbles and violence, the child abuse, urban unrest and civil turmoil that is going on permanently and ubiquitously, there are presently 24 ‘major’ wars (wars with more than 1,000 casualties) currently occurring and 22 ‘minor’ wars (wars with less than 1,000 casualties) currently occurring ... and 22 recently concluded or suspended wars. (see www.historyguy.com/new_and_recent_conflicts.html)
RESPONDENT: … moreover the feelings are automatic and we don’t switch it on or off and they keep doing their job. The downside seems to be that the feelings when doing their job are also suffering/malice (as ‘feelings are me’) whereas intellectual assessment does not induce taking the attribute of the external to the internal (when you assess intellectually that something is negative, you don’t suffer; when you feel that something is negative, you feel the feeling and hence suffer because of the negativity outside).
VINEETO: There is a big difference between intellectual assessment (whilst suppressing one’s feelings) and apperceptive assessment when intelligence can function unimpeded by feelings and instinctual passions.
RESPONDENT: Is the apperceptive assessment sensitive to other’s feelings?
VINEETO: Why should being sensitive to other’s feelings be something desirable when I can instead be joyful, benevolent and caring about another’s actual situation?
RESPONDENT: Or does it deny that feelings exist and ‘puzzled’ why people suffer? If the apperceptive assessment is ‘puzzled’ at why people suffer, it then lacks the understanding about suffering...
VINEETO: Before you go on theorizing and making assessments about ‘apperceptive assessment’, wouldn’t it be more fruitful to gain an experiential understanding of what apperceptive awareness actually is?
Besides, the problem is not that there is no understanding about suffering – people have understood each other’s suffering for millennia – the problem is how to bring an end to suffering, permanently.
RESPONDENT: So actualism sacrifices the error-prone, suffering/malice inducing measurement device called feelings for happiness/ harmlessness and a possibly less aware state?
VINEETO: First, feelings are not a ‘measurement device’, they are directly arising from the instinctual survival passions which every human being is endowed with by blind nature for the sake of survival at any cost of the individual and/or the species.
RESPONDENT: Aren’t they ‘sixth sense’ (albeit error prone) that senses the external world (hence a measurement device)?
VINEETO: Intelligence unimpeded by instinctual passions beats your ‘error prone’ ‘sixth sense’ by a country mile. I know because I’ve been doing the switch for years now and it works like a charm.
VINEETO: Second, when you have a pure consciousness experience it is no sacrifice at all to replace malice and sorrow with being happy and harmless – it is obviously the best option to choose for an intelligent human being.
RESPONDENT: It is clear that in terms of happiness (and even harmlessness) it might be the best option... in terms of understanding the plight of the human being? In terms of understanding the suffering of the fellow human being?
VINEETO: VINEETO: The way you phrased it seems to indicate that you value co-suffering above becoming free from suffering and what causes it.
Looking at the main thrust of your replies I wonder why you defend the alleged values of being able to suffer and co-suffer when there is a solution available to actually *end* malice and sorrow? Are you of the conviction that as long as one human being still suffers I am not allowed to be happy? Do you maybe suggest that all human beings can only become free from sorrow and malice all at once … or never? Do you consider compassion and empathy more desirable than freeing your fellow human beings from your own sorrow and your own malice?
RESPONDENT: Are you much more aware (than before you started with actualism) about why a fellow human suffers by a mere look at him?
VINEETO: I know in general why human beings suffer because I know how I suffered and why, and the reasons for human suffering are very much alike because we humans are all endowed with the same instinctual survival passions. Besides, I don’t see any sense in knowing another’s suffering ‘by a mere look at him’ … or her. What is the point in wasting time by indulging in suffering together when one can instead become free from suffering … and maybe even share the trick as to how it’s done.
RESPONDENT: There seems to be a tremendous sorrow in me... it keeps coming back... it is not ‘Universal Sorrow’ or ‘compassion’ or something... it seems to not have reason (resentment to be here maybe?)... i am trying my best... it seems to be going away... but it keeps coming back... any suggestions? any experiences? Re: any suggestions welcome, 20.5.2005 AEST
VINEETO: I am pleased to read you subsequently think you have cracked your ‘sorrow/depression’ –
This is what I once wrote to a correspondent about sorrow –
One will undoubtedly find many reasons and justifications as to why one feels sorrowful because feeling sorrow is such a predominant (and valued) characteristic of the human condition. However, despite what everyone else may believe or have you believe – the *only* good thing about sorrow is when it ends.
I can remember one time when I seriously struggled with depression. It was in 1989 when after an extensive stay in the Rajneesh commune in India I had run out of money and returned to Germany. I had to struggle getting my feet on the ground in terms of finding a flat and earning a living but that was not that big of a deal. What I found depressing at the time was having returned to the ‘real’ world after years of living in the ‘sheltered workshop’ of a spiritual commune – life seemed dull and devoid of meaning in comparison.
Having been influenced by spiritualized Western therapy I thought that if I only went deep enough into my pain and sorrow I would come out the other side of the tunnel and be ‘healed’. So I found myself a therapist to hold my hand, so to speak, and then I ventured into the dark terrain of endless sorrow, hour after hour and week after week. There was no end to the tears and yet no understanding presented itself as to what to do in order to leave this valley of tears. After about 3 months of regular tear-sessions I suddenly ran out of motivation to keep feeling sorry of myself so much so that I simply became fed up with being sad. I started laughing at my own silliness of wasting so much time for just feeling sad and being miserable – and of paying good money for the privilege of doing so, I might add on top of it.
The experience stuck with me and whenever I came close to wallowing and indulging in sorrow I remember that despite my efforts and those of the therapist I had not found any intrinsic value in feeling sorrow … however it was not until I met Richard that I really learnt how to effectively leave it behind by blithely heading off in the other direction.
In this context I am reminded of a conversation Richard had with someone about what to do with ‘feeling bad’ in which the respondent similarly had some difficulty seeing the silliness of feeling bad Richard, The Actual Freedom Trust Mailing List, No 71, 15.7.2004
VINEETO: Now at last to your first question – ‘Is Actual Freedom a quirk of nature located in Richard.’
An actual freedom from the human condition is neither esoteric nor unrepeatable. Speaking personally, the reason why Richard is still the only one to be actually free is that I simply do not have the courage yet to become permanently free from the human condition – there is always this last bit of ‘me’ hanging onto ‘my’ precious existence. ‘I’ am tethering on the edge, toying with my thoughts of, and my longing for, ‘my’ extinction but I am putting off the final, irrevocable, jump. Lately I have experienced the beckoning of sweet oblivion whereupon ‘I’ will finally resolve the conundrum that ‘I’ can never be perfect by disappearing forever – but so far I’ve been too scared to take the plunge. Yet I know by my experience of the utter perfection of this actual physical universe that it is only a matter of time until one of the practicing actualists will dare to take the final plunge and prove to all the doubters and cynics that Actual Freedom is possible for everyone on this fair planet.
Until then second place is still up for grabs.
RESPONDENT: Called again on my cynicism. It’s a defence mechanism – the citadel of fear and cynicism, the last stronghold of myself. Thinking of giving up cynicism makes my head spin. This should be interesting.
VINEETO: When I said ‘all doubters and cynics’ I did not mean you in particular. The comment alluded more to the common-to-all belief that humans should forever live in misery, fear and aggression, which is a deeply cynical worldview, one that is firmly entrenched in the human condition and one that underpins all of religious and spiritual belief.
Cynicism is indeed a major defence mechanism and everyone in one way or another holds the belief that ‘life is a bitch and then you die’. In the real world this defence mechanism is apparent as criticism, sarcasm, doom and gloom beliefs and eternal scepticism and in the spiritual world it manifests as the passionate conviction that life on earth is essentially suffering and peace and true salvation can only lie elsewhere.
In my spiritual years I had shied away from the world and refused to read newspapers, watch television or listen to the radio – I stuck my head in the clouds and did not want to see suffering and aggression. I built an imaginary castle of inner peace and attempted to set up permanent residence ‘inside’. But as years went by I had to admit that my ‘defence mechanism’ failed because suffering and aggression was still present in me as it was in my fellow spiritual seekers.
When I came across Richard, I learnt that I could actually become free from malice and sorrow and that I could become free from taking offence and free from aggression. I decided to take up the challenge. I began to investigate what it was that I was defending with my cynicism and aloofness, with my imagination and denial. What I was really defending – for the sake of ‘me’ staying in existence – was the conviction that there will never ever be an end to misery and mayhem amongst human beings. In the course of my inquiry into my defence mechanisms I discovered that these very mechanisms are responsible of locking me out of the wonder, peace and perfection of the actual world.
To abandon cynicism in all its forms and rekindle one’s naiveté is a deliberate choice that one needs to make if one is ever to be happy and harmless and it is the only way to overcome, as you say, this ‘stronghold’ of the ‘self’. The question I asked myself was what did I have to loose? I had abandoned life in the real world when I was 26 and when I took stock of my life at age 45 I found that the spiritual life did not deliver the peace it promised. So I threw in the towel once again, abandoned my spiritual beliefs and decided to start afresh – wholeheartedly , as I had done with the other two previous options.
It is an act of daring to let one’s cynic guard down and re-engage one’s own naïve curiosity. At first I was sometimes overwhelmed by the sorrow, fear and aggression that I had tried to escape from when I retreated into my inner world. I began to feel and observe not only my own feelings of fear and aggression, but also the malice and sorrow in others – I began to grasp the enormous scope of the human condition in action. Compassion is a good example of such a universal feeling. It sometimes overwhelmed me to the point that I seemed to drown in sorrow, swallowed in a feeling of never-ending human misery. One time I went to the very edge of this feeling of overwhelming compassion and I dropped into a bottomless abyss of dread the likes of which I hadn’t encountered before. This is what I wrote at the time –
Because I remained attentive as the experience was happening, I could clearly see that there is no solution inherent in feeling compassion – nobody is being helped by my own feelings of sorrow, however deep, and all I am doing is wasting this moment of being alive by wallowing in sorrow to the point of experiencing the deep feeling of instinctual fear, or dread, that is the very root of human sorrow. I also understood that no matter how many people I felt compassion for and whatever violence I felt revulsion about, these were still my own feelings. They arise out of my own psyche and therefore it is in my hands, and my hands only, to do something about those feelings in me.
There is an inherent propensity within the human condition that one can call on to counter the human propensity for cynicism and that is naiveté. Naiveté is the closest thing to an actual innocence within the human condition and it is absolutely essential to muster in order to counter any fear and its subsequent defence mechanisms that arise. With pure intent garnered from the perfection and purity of the PCE acting as a golden thread and with naiveté as a constant companion, one pulls oneself up by one’s bootstraps and discovers, step by step, that becoming free of the Human Condition of malice and sorrow is indeed possible.
Since writing this a later post has arrived in which you appear to have demonstrated by your experience how it is that naiveté can circumvent fear as you invite the benevolence of the actual universe to become apparent. You will notice – and I can confirm it by my own experience – that the longer you dare to weather the storm of such intense emotions as fear, the more their grip will weaken.
VINEETO: When you say you must be doing something wrong because you are ‘stuck’, it might also be that you did something ‘right’ and then hit a major issue which might generate fear.
RESPONDENT: You have got this one right, Vineeto. There is an undercurrent of fear/sadness still there. I am going against it head on two ways: first, going to the daily life situations in which I would have dreaded to go into, 3-5 years ago, and apprehensive of going for them about 1-2 years ago. Second, keeping my eyes open to look for causes which brought this fear in the first place.
This one is a difficult one as, to best of knowledge, I cleaned myself of fears arising from the incidents from the age of 3 years-now. But I remember I had this undercurrent of fear/sadness at the age of ~4 years too. So, the causes for this fear/sadness must have their origins before the age of 3 years. The best I can think of is that my mother might have beaten the crap out of me before the age of 3, but I cannot have any memory of that. I am not sure how to go about it but I am working on it.
VINEETO: In my spiritual years I believed that I was ‘cleaning myself of fears’ by doing lots of Dynamic Meditation and lots of therapy but I gradually noticed that fear had only shifted to other issues, but it never disappeared or even diminished. I would not be afraid of one particular situation, but nevertheless apprehensive of another, fearful of change, of being alone, of being raped, of not getting what I desired or of not being appreciated by others. Yet, knowing no other alternative at the time, I kept going.
So, from my experience, I can say that digging into the past will never wipe out the causes of fear. Only when I met Richard was I able to understand the reason for it. It is a common belief that human beings are born innocent, ‘tabula rasa’, a clean slate, without any malice and sorrow, and that all evil – fear, anger, sadness – is only created by bad treatment in our childhood years – or maybe by ‘repressed memories’ of bad past lives. The very premise of that belief is wrong.
Human beings are born with certain distinguishing instincts, the main ones being fear, aggression, nurture and desire. These instincts are blind Nature’s rather clumsy software package designed to give one a start in life and to ensure the survival of the species. So despite our good intentions and moral codes, we are relentlessly driven to act instinctually in each and every situation in our lives and this is the base cause of all our angst, suffering and confusion. We, as human beings, also have a highly developed sense of self, overlaid with a social identity, consisting of the beliefs that had been instilled in us from the time when we were first rewarded for ‘good’, or punished for ‘bad’, behaviour. This identity includes the morals, values and ethics that ensure that we are a fit member of the particular society into which we are born. We then take on these beliefs and develop them as our ‘own’ identity. This innate sense of self, reinforced by our social identity, is the very ‘guardian at the gate’, sabotaging any well-meaning, but inevitably futile, attempts at fundamentally and radically changing the Human Condition of malice and sorrow within us.
When I put away my pride and dared to question this emotional, therapy-enhanced, yet utterly useless and harmful identity, I had to acknowledge the reason why the concept of therapy had never worked. One never gets to permanently experience the ‘innocence’ of a baby after digging into one’s memories of birth- or childhood-traumas – because the baby has never been innocent and without fear in the first place! Geneticists are now finding neurological evidence of those innate instincts, yet nobody except Richard has devised a method to get rid of those insidious buggers.
RESPONDENT: My sister-in-law (who has a visceral revulsion to religion) stayed up to until 2am yakking about these matters. Her mother has been diagnosed with ALS and will need a lot of care for the remaining year of her life. This of course is a difficult matter to deal with as it brings up all sorts of issues, those of her mother, and those of the other family members. She wondered how to deal with the specific issues and I was at a loss to offer much concrete help. The next day it dawned on me that these sorts of predicaments don’t have ‘answers’, and all we can do is attend to the moment. Humans (including myself) by and large have a need to ‘fix’ pain and suffering as it comes up, and this is an impossible task.
VINEETO: When I ask myself how am I experiencing this moment of being alive and get the answer that I suffer or empathize with someone else’s physical or emotional pain, then the next question for me was why. From whence comes this, seemingly automatic, connectedness with someone in distress that makes me want to fix him or her up in order to ease my own co-suffering. Consequently I searched for the hook in me that ties me to other people’s feelings.
One significant reason for my empathy I found in the deeply ingrained belief that life is essentially suffering – and that the best one can do is alleviate the suffering. Every single religion and spiritual pursuit is built upon the basic premise that ‘life is a bitch and then you die’. I had to find this deep-seated conviction in me and deliberately root it out, discovering that I had indeed a choice to change and become incrementally free from the human condition of malice and sorrow. And if I can become free then anybody has that choice as well – human beings are not inextricably trapped in misery, as they so fervently believe.
RESPONDENT: Hence we ask ‘how am I...’ and things turn out the way they turn out.
VINEETO: How am I experiencing this moment of being alive? is not to be confused with a mantra that bridges bad moments until luck changes – this question is designed to be a piercing tool, an excavator, a well-digger and I apply it to uncover deeper and deeper layers of my unhappiness and my unfriendliness until I reach to the core of my identity. My suffering with the poor and downtrodden, the victims of war and violence, starvation and corruption was a longstanding issue – whenever I saw a contemporary report on television I would either be angry or sad and I had to look closely into my feeling connection with humanity in order to become gradually free from ‘my’ empathy and compassion, ‘my’ righteousness and idealism.
I experienced my psychic connection with people as emotional strings consisting of thousands of single strands – beliefs, values and instinctual passions – which I had to unhook one by one. Sometimes a whole bunch of them were loosened at once, and what a realization, but often it was a matter of tracing one feeling to its core and finding all the little ties and knots that connected me with the feelings and beliefs of other people. Often I was shocked when such a tie broke, particularly when I ‘unhooked’ my affective connection to a person close to me such as a family member or formerly close friends.
To become free from being connected with people is not a matter of cool detachment – as in ‘it doesn’t concern me’. What I discovered as I questioned my spiritual beliefs was that many suppressed feelings came to the surface, and I particularly became aware of the suffering of others as I no longer hid behind my feeling of righteous detachment. I began to understand that another’s feeling, when it resonates in me, is my social-instinctual identity in action. ‘I’ am humanity and humanity is ‘me’ and there is no way of escaping the fact as long as I am an identity. To step out of humanity is to leave ‘me’ behind.
RESPONDENT: I have a couple questions for you pertaining to ‘virtual freedom.’ I know, from observing myself at this moment, that I am not experiencing life as being perfect, excellent, great, or even that good – to be honest. My ongoing condition is a kind of ‘neutral mood.’ Not a bad experience, but then a not too good one either.
VINEETO: Would ‘being comfortably numb’ describe how you are generally experiencing yourself. You’ll find that Peter used this phrase quite often in his journal to describe the state he was living in for most of his life. He also described what he did to lift himself out of this state of inertia – <snipped quotes>
RESPONDENT: No, not quite (going by Peter’s description of what being ‘comfortably numb’ is about). There is no ‘resignation’ or an ‘acceptance of life and its inherent suffering’ in me at all actually. It’s been a plague and a blessing to have this constant ‘pushing’ in me, telling me to ‘never, ever give up, goddammit.’ It’s been a long time coming since I started trying to figure the whole mess out but I can finally say that my ongoing bottom line nowadays is ‘neutral’ to ‘pretty good.’ Just a couple of years ago, my bottom line was ‘a world of shit.’ Life, a couple of years ago, was just plain horrible for me. I could never accept, and this is before coming across Richard’s writings, that my life was not going to be perfect. I made it my goal, about five years ago, that I would somehow, someway never suffer again. I still can’t accept this ‘neutral’ to ‘pretty good’ state that I’m in.
VINEETO: Of course not, that would be defeatism.
RESPONDENT: Yeah, it’s much better than being depressed all the time but it’s still wanting. It’s not perfect by a long shot. And to be honest, if I had not come across Richard’s writings, I would still be horribly depressed. See, back then, I had it in my head that the way to happiness/ fulfillment was through SUFFERING … and loads of it. So, I allowed it in … I tolerated the suffering, the pains, the anguishes, the anxieties, all in the hopes of one day being free from it all. I theorized, with absolutely no concrete evidence to support (I was largely following my feelings and intuition), that if I were to experience as much suffering as was humanly possible, my ‘being’ would somehow short-circuit, die and be born again, and would rise form the ashes as a ‘being’ that could not be harmed by anything, anymore.
VINEETO: Your theory was, of course, an extreme interpretation on what you have been taught by your parents, teachers and peers – the general Christian belief that only after patiently suffering on earth you can earn your place in heaven – a theme one can find, in a slightly different context, in Eastern mysticism.
RESPONDENT: Well, after about two and a half years of taking that tortuous path, I gave up my path and my goal of being a ‘being’ that couldn’t be harmed by anything for something seemingly much better … an actual freedom with no ‘being’ at all. And not only that, the path to being actually free is by being HAPPY & HARMLESS rather than my previous path to enlightenment by being a MISERABLE & MALICIOUS identity. Good stuff.
VINEETO: Ha, the way you have put it shows clearly why Richard keeps saying that an actual freedom is 180 degrees opposite to all spiritual beliefs.
RESPONDENT: By the way, would you know anything about the ‘path of suffering’ towards spiritual enlightenment? Have you come across anything like it or do you have experiential knowledge of it?
VINEETO: Yes. Western and Eastern religious religions are very much alike in their teaching that only suffering will lead to redemption / salvation / liberation and I have plenty of experiential knowledge from both my Christian upbringing and my years of spiritual search.
Maybe you have heard of the ‘dark night of the soul’, which for many religious seekers has been the jumping point into an epiphany, a God-realization or for whom it had been the seminal precursor to the permanent delusion called spiritual Enlightenment. You may be interested to study some autobiographies of genuinely enlightened people who describe the events that led up to their moment of becoming enlightened. If I remember rightly they have all gone through at least one dark and desperate period and particularly immediately before their breakthrough into Greater Reality.
Personally, in the first year of practicing actualism, I had an experience of dread, i.e. an altered state of extreme darkness and anxiety, where I felt to be sucked into a bottomless abyss of hopeless desperation, unopposed fear and endless suffering. This is how I described it at the time –
Through extensive studies of near-death experiences it has been discovered that in moments of extreme danger/ fear of death/ unbearable suffering the brain produces certain chemicals but it also produces chemicals to counteract the impact of the first chemicals and these ‘counter-chemicals’ often result in a blissful altered state of consciousness. For an excerpt on the scientific findings of what happens during NDEs I refer you to Richard, General Correspondence, No 4, 10 July 1998
However, there is neither value in nor necessity for such an experience in order to become happy and harmless – it is enough to know that indulging in extreme fear, in collective sorrow, guilt or shame and in unabashed misery is a ‘self’-aggravating and ‘self’-aggrandising dead-end road that will only lead you further and further away from being able to experience this actual world.
Here is what Richard has to say about the dark night of the soul –
VINEETO: For me the relationships to different people have clearly shown me the flaws I still had to tackle, shown the occasions where consciousness is not pure but inflicted with greed, anger, superiority, jealousy, sorrow, pity and other such emotions. Only since I have eliminated those emotions in me have I been able to be with whoever I meet in an easy, equal, benign manner, fully interested in the person in question in that moment, undistractedly or undisturbed by any flaws in my behaviour.
KONRAD: Sorrow? Don’t you feel any sorrow about the victims of wars? So I cannot see any reason why this is a negative emotion. Only, if you are a sad person and you expect of others to help you end it, this places a burden on others. However, if you investigate the root causes of it yourself, it leads to clarity.
VINEETO: The sorrow I felt for the victims of wars did nothing for the victims of wars. It neither stopped the wars nor did it console the victims. It simply added to the sorrow that is already plentiful and rampant in the world. Clarity comes when I find that compassion for others creates as much mess and interference in other people’s lives as it continues the cycle of superiority and inferiority. The famous Mother Theresa is an obvious example. You seem to be trying to exorcise the Devil with Beelzebub, as the saying goes. Compassion adds to sorrow and suffering, it does nothing to eliminate it.
RESPONDENT No 9: Or do you bring a heart to the pain?
RESPONDENT: Yes, I think I do.
It is so heavy. Can we take the heart out of the pain?
VINEETO: There is a way to take the heart out of the pain. One can pay exclusive attention to this moment of being alive, and examine all the feelings and underlying instinctual passions, both savage and tender, that produce this pain.
The nature of instinctual passions is such that one either has to keep the lot or eliminate the lot – they come in one software package, they are one operating system and a very crude one at that. But you said you were not interested in eliminating your instinctual passions, as you wanted to keep the good bit of the heart-felt feelings to nurture your grandchild.
Do you ever consider that one can raise a child with much more care, benevolence and consideration when you are not bound by heart-felt feelings of love and hate, defence and attack, compassion and sorrow, pain and worry, fear and dread?
RESPONDENT: Can there be a transformation from that ‘partiality’ of that cause to that totality of staying with that sorrow? Does not the ‘self’ exist even in that partial, fragmentary response instead of totally staying with that sorrow?
VINEETO: I don’t subscribe to the method of ‘totally staying with that sorrow’, a method devised by those who had no knowledge of our animal instinctual passions. To successfully investigate sorrow, I first need to honestly examine its trigger, and determine what belief, moral or ethic is implicated in the feeling. The next step is to trace it back to its core and, in experientially understanding its root cause, my instinctual ‘self’, I can then step out of it. If you do that process with sincere intent each time sorrow arises, your life will soon be 99% free from sorrow.
Has your method of ‘totally staying with that sorrow’ delivered freedom from sorrow for you so far?
And I am not talking about ‘a transformation’ either. The spiritual ideal of transformation or transcendence has failed lamentably, and always will fail for it does not address the fundamental issue – the genetically-encoded instinctual passions. ‘My’ demise is not a transformation but means exactly demise – the extinction of ‘me’ in my totality, both ego and soul. Finish, caput, extinct, dead as a dodo. Nothing less will do to completely eradicate malice and sorrow in me.
Vineeto’s & Richard’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.