Actual Freedom – General Correspondence

General Correspondence

with Alan

(Part Two)


May 16 1998

ALAN: Richard, you put it on your web site without telling me! Well done! Now, what made me decide to have a look at feedback from correspondents No. 4 (‘General Correspondence Page No 4’)? Seeing my name on the page gave ‘me’ quite a shock. For the first time in a while the adrenaline button was pushed – hard. What an unpleasant sensation and to think I used to be an adrenaline junkie! Three things resulted: I discovered who ‘me’ is – the person who got shit scared at all his ‘stuff’ up there for others to read. What a devious, cunning little bastard ‘I’ am. Guess who was sitting back, with no beliefs, no emotions – ‘Ain’t I clever’ – ‘waiting’ for something to happen. I discovered the difference between focusing on a PCE, with intent and wanting or waiting to get there. It is sort of ‘holding’ the knowledge and conviction that ‘this is where I am going to be’, but with no effort, no desire to be there. I have suggested several people, whom I am corresponding with, have a look at my experiences – no response yet. I am now on a fast learning curve about HTML and related subjects.

RICHARD: I like the tone of your latest E-Mail ... and yes, what indeed made you look at ‘General Correspondence No. 4’? I will put the main parts of your other four E-Mails up when I answer them and will let you know, this time, when I do. It is quite ‘something’ to see your innermost experiences displayed for anyone to see, I guess (I am so used to it after eighteen years of relentless exposure that it never occurs to me to wonder what others think of me) and I am interested as to you describing the adrenaline rush.

Fear underlies pretty well everything – I have oft-times commented that fear rules the world – and is both the barrier to freedom and the fulcrum to swing one through into the ‘other’ dimension. Fear always has a thrilling element that is integral to its character and by focussing upon that – rather than the fear itself – the energy of fear transfers to the thrilling aspect and creates a momentum that can carry one through to a PCE. The requisite courage – initially in short supply – readily ensues and one finds oneself here where there is no fear at all ... fear is a feeling, not a fact.

It is an exciting journey ... the ride of a lifetime.

And you are on an HTML learning curve? My knowledge is pretty basic: I operate out of the HTML editor that comes with ‘Word 97’ in Microsoft’s ‘Office 97’ package and it is sufficient to meet my modest aspirations ... which is text only (no pictures or flashy things). Running the Web-Page is therefore simplified ... all I use is the Gifs that are contained in the Zip File I sent to you (there are some other Midi Files, of course), but basically, that is it. Oh, I needed a WS_FTP programme to upload to the server with, but that was quite simple to work out. It is all good fun.

I do like modern technology ... I have been ‘head down and tail up’ into computer technology for the past two weeks. I have two computers: The main one I use is a four month old 200 MHz Pentium and has been ‘freezing up’ on me for some time now and steadily getting worse. I have an older 75 MHz computer for backing up all my files on (floppy discs are too small for the amount of material I have on my hard disc) and I decided to upgrade it to 133 MHz and replace the Video Card and Mother Board to improve its performance and speed. Then I would configure it and load all my programs and use it to operate out of while my main computer went back to the manufacturers to have the problem fixed under warranty ... or so I credulously considered.

I received the up-graded 133 MHz last week and could not get it to work properly ... so back to the repair shop. Meanwhile, the 200 MHz started ‘crashing’ and I was in danger of losing all my data (the 133 MHz computer having had its hard disc reformatted all the back-up copies were deleted). Thus I was somewhat leery about using it until I backed-up on numerous floppies until the 133 MHz came back ... fixed this time. Back to re-loading it and re-configuring it and now it is running well. It is not as smooth and fast as the 200 MHz but I am well-pleased with it and with all the fun that has ensured. Also, I have learnt a lot more about computers ... a subject I thoroughly enjoy.

I will write a more substantial E-Mail later as I rather wish to go into the points you raise in your other E-Mail regarding ‘Terms Of Reference’ (with its implied question about the reliability of thought’s veracity) and the ‘Near Death Experience’ (with its allusion that there is an entity that survives the body at physical death). But before I do so, can I clarify ‘Terms Of Reference’? Do you mean a ‘bench-mark’ against which to compare? If so, it is the PCE. Or do you mean: ‘How do I (Richard) know that actual freedom is not another belief?’ (Bearing in mind that my eleven year experience of an Altered State Of Consciousness turned out to be a delusion). How do I know that actual freedom is not another delusion and that after another eleven or so years I will be announcing: ‘Sorry guys ... I got it wrong!’

It is a good subject to explore ... I have no doubts whatsoever that this is ‘the goods’ that humans have been looking for, of course, but another can only look at me in askance when I say that. Therefore it behoves me to put forward substantive evidence regarding of the credibility of actual freedom ... and delineate the criteria that it must meet.

Lastly, I consider it would be great that you want get your own page up and running and linked to mine ... more people will become interested, eventually. It has been eighteen years now, for me, so some more time elapsing before actualism becomes more well-known is simply that ... more time.

I am but fifty-one and have plenty of years left in me yet.

May 20 1998

RICHARD: You mention that on the second read of ‘Richard’s Journal’ you are discovering things you do not remember and that ‘it is amazing how ‘I’ only take in information that ‘I’ want to’. This applies to the whole of life, of course, and my experience shows that as one changes, so too does one’s ability to absorb information previously overlooked. Also, when one reads back over one’s own writing of, say, six months ago, one finds gems of information that one would be well-advised to be living right now! The journal is like this ... Peter read it nine-ten times before he considered he had grasped all of the new paradigm. He was amazed at how cocky he had been after his first read-through ... thinking that he had understood Richard’s main points well-enough. He said, after the third or fourth read, that there were ‘layers upon layers’ of understanding. Richard’s Journal’ is a seminal work – a turning point in human history – for those who are vitally interested in life, the universe and what it is to be a human being.

For the main, though, it is the ramblings of a war-crazed veteran’s drug-induced psychotic dream-world escape from reality ... or words to that effect.

My thirty months of existential angst could very well be because of the war and not applicable to anyone else. It is Peter’s opinion that it was because I came from an altered state of consciousness called spiritual enlightenment that induced the trauma ... and that I was the first to blaze a trail into hitherto unknown territory ... enough to scare the pants off anyone. Be that as it may, each person will go through whatever drama that is appropriate to their personal situation and purview on life.

Regarding belief: etymologically, ‘believe’ means ‘fervently wish to be true’ ... thus passion comes into play to sustain the hope. This has the unfortunate side-effect of sustaining the psychological or psychic entity called ‘I’ or ‘me’ ... such an entity being the product of passion in the first place. There are, roughly speaking, five factors involved in maintaining the status-quo; belief, faith, trust, hope and certitude.

Basically, these are the antidotes to scepticism, doubt, dubiety, despair and suspicion. Certainty, however, is born out of having the courage of one’s convictions as generated by the PCE; after all, that is why one has a peak experience ... one sees for oneself what is possible. Thus someone else does not have to believe Richard: he is simply living it twenty four hours a day and has the leisure to look about and describe it all accurately and easily. Thus the requisite confidence comes from recognising in the actualism writings one’s own experiential understanding of life as per one’s own PCE. Confidence far exceeds faith and leaves doubt in the rubbish bin where it belongs. Certainty invokes a momentum that has an eerie inevitability about it – belief is far ‘safer’ in this respect – for ‘I’ am heading for ‘my’ demise. ‘I’ set in motion a train of events that leads to ‘my’ psychological and psychic self-immolation. Pretty scary stuff, when all is said and done ... but definitely thrilling. As I oft-times say: ‘It is not for the faint of heart or the weak of knee’ ... one has to have nerves of steel to navigate the mine-field that is the Human Condition.

I am glad you have made contact with Peter and Vineeto ... they bring a different perspective to the whole business than what I provide. Peter has expressed interest in a Mail Forum at some future date (when there are sufficient people fascinated with finding out just what they are) and I know that Vineeto likes to correspond. The Internet makes it all possible and is the way that a living actualism will spread, as far as I am concerned.

As for your comments regarding alcohol: it corresponds with my personal experience. I cannot take alcohol at all ... which is a pity in one respect for I had always enjoyed a good port after dinner (I do say this rather tongue-in-cheek for one port often led to another and so on). Alcohol is debilitating ... when it is not inducing aggression, that is. I was never an angry drunk, though, nor maudlin. THC is a vastly superior drug to alcohol, if one has to use something, for it can be mind-expanding rather than merely mood-enhancing. Speaking personally, I am well-pleased to be free of both mood-enhancing and mind-altering drugs completely. Nicotine and caffeine is the limit of my capabilities.

ALAN: The terms of reference question becomes more intriguing, the more one goes into it and thinking back it is something which I have always been intrigued by. I can remember at a very young age (teens) wondering what someone meant when they said ‘that colour is red’ – did they see what I see? what colour did they see? Sure, I know ‘red’ vibrates at a certain frequency in the electromagnetic spectrum. That does not necessarily mean the colour being ‘seen’ is the same to every ‘seer’.

RICHARD: This is a subject that holds the interest of many professors and the such-like at the ‘Journal Of Consciousness Studies’ which I subscribed to for a couple of months last year: www.zynet.co.uk/imprint/home.html

I wrote to one – a Doctor of Philosophy – twice and he never replied the second time. It appears to be a subject of academic interest rather than personally finding out the experiential way ... they seem to have a horror of ‘going native’. The question ‘how do I know that red is red?’ is what they call ‘qualia’ ... by which they mean the ‘quale’ or ‘quality’ of a thing – considered apart from the thing having certain properties – and of what kind. They mean it in the philosophical sense of a quality-in-itself as distinct from any ‘location’ it might have in a physical object ... shades of ‘Plato’s Ideal’, I guess! Anyway, they use the word a lot and go around and around in circles. Eventually I unsubscribed as the discussions were rather dry, although entertainingly informative about the current state of human knowledge regarding the hoary question: ‘What is consciousness?’

Many years ago when I was a practising artist – ceramics amongst other things – I remember questioning what heat was as I looked into my kilns as they were firing up to 1300 degrees centigrade ... which is near white heat. I pondered the question for some time, to no avail, for an intellectual answer. Heat is a ‘given’ like gravity or why the sky is blue and not green or some other colour. It is not an eternal mystery, some facts are fundamental and these professors cannot accept that qualia and/or properties are ‘givens’ ... and that ‘givens’ are a thing to wonder at and marvel in. Not wonder as in wanting to know why ... there is no cerebral answer to such usage of the ‘why’ question. There is only the experiential answer ... and this they will not do. Thus they will never know what qualia is ... or why the universe is happening. Being here now, in actual freedom, is to know the answer, existentially. It is not for nothing that I endlessly repeat: ‘I am the universe experiencing itself as a sensate, reflective human being’.

How I know that another sees a tree when I see a tree is by an interchange of description. It is truly amazing that, not only am I here experiencing this whole business of being alive, but that I can communicate my experience to another and vice-versa. For sure, I understand that some are colour-blind and so on, but that is not a problem. One can convey one’s experience if sufficiently motivated and the other is sufficiently interested ... fascinated, rather. A matter-of-fact intelligence is what is required ... and a marked disinclination to wander off into lofty and abstract thought and sublime and exalted feelings.

ALAN: I have no idea how I came to be where I am today. Luck undoubtedly played a part. Luck in my early years of life, in not having too many, or too severe, parental instructions. I then got completely stuck/interested in ‘what made me what I was’ – why did I always question so much, know there was more to life. You have written about this and we discussed it briefly, on the phone. At the time, I said I had always been aiming for something better, whereas you were wanting to escape the misery of the human condition, but maybe it is the same thing? And what makes one question and decide to start the amazing journey – PCE’s? If so, why does one person pursue the matter and others choose to ignore it? Why do most get stuck in ‘blind alleys’?

RICHARD: A combination of sincerity and naiveté, I would say. A determination to live this life to the full, as it is the only one I am living. A dedicated approach to dissolving the Human Condition once and for all ... no more ad hoc band-aid resolutions for this boy. Plus the genesis of the existence of peace-on-earth via the freedom of the PCE ... and the ability to act upon this experience. Why me and you and not some other person? Someone has to be first ... and the marvel of mass-communication with its ability to disseminate all cultural and social information from throughout the ages makes it virtually inevitable that a person born in the West makes the break-through that humanity has yearned for over aeons.

ALAN: I am here, jumping up and down, waving a flag. This is the story of my journey through the maze of life, of how I found the exit and of how, you too, can be free of the misery of the human condition.’ I originally used ‘the centre’, instead of ‘the exit’, but to many the centre carries the wrong connotations – what do you think?

RICHARD: I agree ... ‘centre’ has spiritual connotations. I have most definitely escaped from the maze ... initially the world of the PCE seems as if it were another dimension. My current companion calls it ‘the fourth dimension’.

ALAN: What I started out exploring was the premise that the PCE is the same for everyone. It is their ‘terms of reference’ which make it and their interpretation different – see previous e-mails for more details. This then leads on to actual freedom, which I called ‘Enlightenment’, having no other terms of reference to go by. I ‘believe’ I previously experienced what you call actual freedom. I do not think there is any way either of us can know for sure. (How do you see ‘red’?). I know that when I have been experiencing actual freedom I knew that it was unsurpassable – there could be nothing more than this. That is why your writings ‘connected’ straight away – I knew exactly what you were talking about – this was what I wanted to rediscover.

RICHARD: Yes, you see this is where you can know that another sees red as you do: [quote] ‘I knew exactly what you were talking about’ [end quote]. I always know when someone comes through into a PCE ... it is so obvious. This is what makes it all so yummy ... another can experience life as I do. In other words: actual freedom is universal. It is the common human experience, and everybody that I have spoken to about this over the last eighteen years has had an actual freedom experience (PCE), which, as you say, they interpret ... according to their cultural icons, usually.

ALAN: This knowledge – that nothing more is possible – appears to be the difference from ‘enlightenment’, when you knew/believed that something more was possible, albeit only achievable with death. And there goes part of my theory i.e. that ‘enlightened masters’ are experiencing actual freedom but their terms of reference appear to make it different. If enlightened masters are not experiencing actual freedom, what are they experiencing?

RICHARD: A massive delusion ... narcissism taken to an extreme. It is self-aggrandisement ... based upon the instinct to survive that blind nature endows all sentient beings with. ‘I’ crave eternal life – immortality – and thus miss out on the eternity of this universe’s time as is evidenced when one is being here now at this place in infinite space.

ALAN: Continuing with the theory, and assuming my two previous ‘major’ experiences were ‘actual freedom’, my two experiences and your current experience are made different only by our terms of reference. My first was that sexual freedom was the answer – because the experience was triggered by reading a book on erotic philosophy and other matters, which you have read.

RICHARD: My companion is pursuing actual freedom via sexual freedom at this point in time ... for a woman to break through all the hang-ups around sex is a marvellous thing in itself. Wallowing in sexuality – and abstaining from ejaculation – was one of the things that ‘Richard-the-self’ used to gain peak experiences with back in 1981.

ALAN: My second was very close to what you describe in your writings, because I had then been through Exegesis, with a lot of work on being ‘here’ and eliminating ‘me’.

RICHARD: Hmm, yes ... I will have to do some research on ‘Exegesis’ to see where they are at.

ALAN: The Moody Blues were also a big influence, so the answer was ‘Love’ – nothing outside oneself, you understand – that was just a word I used. You describe it as eliminating the soul – because that was (is) your terms of reference. I have no sense of ‘the soul’, other than possibly a bit of me-ness, experienced as described to you.

RICHARD: Yes, ‘the soul’ as in ‘me’ at the core of ‘my’ being. It is ‘being’ in itself that is the problem.

ALAN: Leading to another interesting point. You describe becoming ‘enlightened’ as something turning over in the base of the brain. My previous experiences were of a shiver up the spine, then something in the base of the brain ‘clicked’ – a switch was turned, bringing the whole of my brain into operation for the first time.

RICHARD: The literature on spiritual enlightenment abounds with details about the spine and the base of the brain ... enough for me to be certain that the experience is global.

ALAN: One other thing, I have not read anywhere in your writings, is the ‘feeling’ I had (and still get in a PCE) somewhere around the solar plexus. It is like a feeling of love (can’t think of a better word), a warm glow, a connection with something (not outside nor Some Thing) just a connection with what is. Very difficult to describe – I almost use it as a benchmark as to whether I am having a PCE.

RICHARD: This is because the affective faculties still play a role in a PCE – usually – whereas actual freedom is free of calenture entirely. A peak experience is not actual freedom ... actual freedom is much better than what one can experience whilst remaining human. The PCE is the closest that an ‘I’ can come to the actuality of having eliminated all traces of the instincts one was born with.

A PCE is not actual freedom ... actual freedom is irreversible.

ALAN: So, I look forward to hearing your description of how you (Richard) know that actual freedom is not a belief – absolutely fascinating is it not? I love the bit in ‘Illusions’ by Richard Bach, where at the end of the Messiahs Handbook it says ‘Everything in this book may be wrong’.

RICHARD: Never a truer word spoken in jest ... everything in his book was wrong (although he would probably be the last to acknowledge it as he has too much invested to see through the delusion). I am working on a dissertation explicating the marked absence of belief in actual freedom and will post it as soon as I get it finished. You, however, point to the obvious facticity of actuality (above) where you say [Alan]: ‘I know that when I have been experiencing actual freedom I knew that it was unsurpassable – there could be nothing more than this’. [endquote]. The experiential ‘proof’ is the only proof worth having ... but it can be explained in words that resurrect the other’s long-buried memory of their own peak experience. I make full use of this when talking with another ... as detailed in Article 6 of ‘Richard’s Journal’. I always appeal to experience, otherwise I am talking to empty air and the other would have to adopt what I say as a belief ... which is pointless.

Everyone has had PCE’s anyway ... it doesn’t really have to be proved. It simply needs to be explained.

ALAN: I think there is little else, other than what I am doing, which will turn over that something in the brain stem – suggestions welcome! (I have found Peter’s suggestion of sort of ‘focusing’ through the eyes useful).

RICHARD: Not ‘through the eyes’ – that is what everyone already does – but from the front of the eyes ... from the surface of the eyes. This is what I am: I am these eyes seeing; these ears hearing and so on. (See Article 14 Paragraph 4 of ‘Richard’s Journal’). You will certainly gain from your re-reading of what is written.

I will stop at this for now ... I still have three of your E-Mails to catch up on. I have my main computer back so I am in the pilot’s seat once more ... although it still freezes up occasionally despite the motherboard, the video card and the RAM memory being replaced. I will send it back for more repairs ... maybe it is the Pentium chip itself that is at fault. Whatever it is, it looks as though the whim to write may have returned after a two-three week abeyance. My inspiration to write is rather spasmodic ... I have not written anything to ‘Mailing List ‘B’’ for about three weeks or more, although I am still subscribed (I have written maybe 100 posts to them since the beginning of the year). There are archives of all posts to that Mailing List if you care to spend some time examining them ... some I wrote are rather amusing and all are informative.

I guess I am going through a ‘lazy period’!

June 01 1998

RICHARD: In view of our recent conversation regarding compensation claims you may find the following to be of interest. The figure at the end ... that is an additional one billion dollars! The moral of the story: If one is at all eligible ... then one is a fool not to claim it. A legal advocate has explained to me that all this is a ‘medico-legal’ issue and has nothing to do with either the government being caring (‘compassionate’) or the recipient deserving it. The law states: if one meets the requirements one is entitled ... by law. As it is well known that ‘The Law is an Ass’, I guess they leave it up to the recipient to explain their personal understanding of a social conscience to their ‘Maker’ ... and either make their peace or suffer their punishment come their ‘Judgement Day’.

[quote]: ‘105th CONGRESS 2d Session H. R. 3948: To maintain health care coverage for veterans by the Department of Veterans Affairs for tobacco related illnesses, and to provide for additional authorization of appropriations for the Department. IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES May 22, 1998 A BILL: To maintain health care coverage for veterans by the Department of Veterans Affairs for tobacco related illnesses, and to provide for additional authorization of appropriations for the Department. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled:
SECTION 1. The Congress finds that the United States has both directly and indirectly facilitated tobacco use by members of the Armed Forces in that: (1) from the time of the Civil War until 1956, the Army was required by law ‘to cause tobacco to be furnished to the enlisted men of the army at cost prices, exclusive of the cost of transportation, in such quantities as they may require, not exceeding sixteen ounces per month’ with the cost deducted from their pay; (2) the Air Force is still required by law to make tobacco available for sale to enlisted members; (3) cigarettes have been distributed free of charge to members of the Armed Forces as part of the food and sundries packets referred to as ‘C-rations’; (4) tobacco products have been and continue to be sold by military exchanges at substantially discounted rates, thus actively encouraging tobacco usage by military personnel, and as late as 1996 commissary tobacco prices were as much as 76 percent lower than commercial retail prices; (5) the military culture historically has recognized, encouraged, and supported cigarette smoking by service members (‘Smoke ‘em if you’ve got ‘em.’); (6) a significant number of veterans were non-smokers upon entering military service and began smoking during military service, and reliable studies indicate that 75 percent of World War II veterans began smoking tobacco products as young adults during the course of their military service; (7) labelling requirements warning of the addictive nature of nicotine and the dangers of tobacco-related products, which were applicable to tobacco products sold in the commercial market, were not mandated for products distributed through the military system until 1970, five years after the requirement was applied to products sold in the civilian market; (8) the Department of Veterans Affairs has been authorized by law to provide tobacco to veterans receiving hospital or domiciliary care since 1957 and was authorized to do so by regulation since at least 1933.
SECTION. 2. Service-connected compensation for tobacco-related illnesses of veterans: Notwithstanding any other provision of law, for purposes of sections 1110 or 1131 of title 38, United States Code, in the case of a disability of a veteran from a disease or injury that may be attributable, in whole or in part, to that veteran’s use of tobacco products, the veteran shall be entitled to payment of compensation under chapter 11 of such title.
SECTION. 3. Increase in authorization of appropriations for the department of veterans affairs: In addition to amounts otherwise authorized to be appropriated for the Department of Veterans Affairs for fiscal year 1999, there is hereby authorized to be appropriated for the Department $1,000,000,000 for such fiscal year’. [endquote].

To me, it is a further example that I am living in an enormous insane asylum with 5.8 billion patients ... and the attendants are as mad as the inmates. There was a case in the USA a few months ago where a convicted murderer was executed after ten or more years on Death Row. She had ‘seen the light’ and become a born-again Christian ... and pleaded clemency due to abject remorse and repentance. The Governor of the State – who had the temporal power to grant a reprieve – declined her request and noted: ‘I will leave it up to a Higher Power to judge whether she is cleansed of sin or not’ (or words to that effect) and promptly pulled the lever that ended her life (or whatever they do to execute someone over there). Now, as dead is dead, I am glad that I have learnt to appreciate ‘black humour’ by watching shows like ‘Black Adder’, otherwise it would have all become too much. As I remarked before, it is a wonder that more people do not have nervous breakdowns. Insensitivity, I guess. However, like all good lunatic asylums, the gardens are lovely ... and one is well-fed every day if only one admits that one is mad (it enables ‘them’ to think they are sane).

I watched the BBC ‘Hard Talk’ interview with Mr Robert McNamara (US Secretary for Defence during the Vietnam War) a couple of nights ago. He estimated that 160,000,000 people have been killed in wars this century. I have always understood it to be 100,000,000 ... which was bad enough.

So much for sanity.

June 10 1998

ALAN: Richard, today, for the fist time, I managed to induce several PCE’s!!!!!! Like now (and here) LOL. It’s so easy (and yet so difficult). It was reading Article 19 that did it, this time, and asking the question. How can one have a conviction it is possible, born out of one’s PCE, without a belief it is possible? And maybe I have just answered my own question. I certainly did, which was also what Article 19 was about, of course. The feeling of ‘love’ I described to you previously, in the heart, solar plexus region, appears to have been fear, as I experienced it earlier today. I suddenly ‘got’ there was no one here to experience this fear – shivers of delight/fear all over, especially up the spine, culminating in the brain stem. Then, I guess, ‘I’ tried to make something ‘turn over’. It has, however, proved remarkably easy to be ‘here’ again. Whether it will continue to be so, who knows and what does it matter. The conviction and determination has been rediscovered.

The second battle has been won. Let battle commence and off we go. WHeeeeeeeee! Ain’t life grand!!!!!!!!!

RICHARD: Great! I have just gone on-line to send my response to your last E-Mail and I find this good news waiting for me ... excellent!

I will still send my original response but I will shoot this off first so that you know I am up-to-date with what is happening for you. Also, I wish to read this more thoroughly, and savour the moment ... I am so pleased.

You deserve it.

June 11 1998

RICHARD: I have made myself a celebratory cup of coffee and have been sitting back with my feet on the desk smoking a cigarette with your last E-Mail sitting up in front of me. It is a fine morning, here in Byron Bay, and I have been awake since 1.30 AM writing my response to your previous E-Mail. I have had a great night ... when the writing fancy is upon me I enjoy it thoroughly, as it is like a dance. And then daylight came and my companion awoke and we spent some time together. Then I came back to the computer to give my writing a final check-through before sending it ... and went on-line only to find your E-Mail with your current success!

ALAN: Today, for the fist time, I managed to induce several PCE’s!!!!!! Like now (and here) LOL. It’s so easy (and yet so difficult). It was reading Article 19 that did it, this time, and asking the question: ‘How can one have a conviction it is possible, born out of one’s PCE, without a belief it is possible? And maybe I have just answered my own question.’ I certainly did, which was also what Article 19 was about, of course.

RICHARD: I have just opened up ‘Richard’s Journal’ and re-read Article 19 to see if I could read it through your eyes so as to find out what did the trick. This is important for me as I want people – anyone – to be able to ‘get it’ through reading what I have written. It is satisfying to see it working ... all that writing and editing and re-writing and polishing is paying off, it seems. Article 19 read well to me as I went through it ... I am so pleased.

ALAN: The feeling of ‘love’ I described to you previously, in the heart, solar plexus region, appears to have been fear, as I experienced it earlier today.

RICHARD: Now this I find interesting for it is a subject that I was discussing with Vineeto on Sunday. Most emotions – and some passions – are felt in the chest region. The ‘deeper feelings’ – wherein one goes into intuition and the psychic arena – occur in the solar plexus ... a ‘hunch’ is not called a ‘gut-feeling’ for nothing. As all psychic phenomenon is fear-based, it is most readily experienced at the ‘seat of being’ in the solar-plexus. The Japanese locate their ‘Hari’ three fingers below the naval ... hence – just maybe – you feeling it previously as love (the nature of ‘being’ is love, of course).

ALAN: I suddenly ‘got’ there was no one here to experience this fear – shivers of delight/fear all over, especially up the spine, culminating in the brain stem.

RICHARD: Ah ... ‘no one here’, eh? (this is what ‘‘I’ am an illusion’ means). And ‘delight/fear’ ... and ‘especially up the spine’. Yes, this is what I often refer to as fear having a thrilling aspect ... and thrilling is a delicious excitement than can transport you to being here now. By focussing more on the thrilling part of fear – rather than the fear itself which usually dominates – that very energy does the trick and one rides the wave of delight/fear through to the ‘Promised Land’ (joke).

ALAN: Then, I guess, ‘I’ tried to make something ‘turn over’.

RICHARD: Actively increasing pure intent is handy here. Effort – as in straining muscles – does nothing. The same applies to will-power ... and love. Pure intent is born out of naiveté, which is the nearest ‘I’ have to innocence. It is an effortless, almost foolish, sensation ... but exquisite.

ALAN: It has, however, proved remarkably easy to be ‘here’ again.

RICHARD: When you have the knack it is indeed remarkably easy. It is a matter of ‘just doing it’ ... but you have to know how. Another person cannot tell you how – only you know – and all another can do is give hints, clues, suggestions, encouragement and so on. Only you know how to set you free ... for the ‘key’ that one turns is different in everyone. This is delicious, because it means that it is all in your hands ... you are ultimately dependent upon no one or no thing for your freedom except yourself.

ALAN: Whether it will continue to be so, who knows and what does it matter. The conviction and determination has been rediscovered.

RICHARD: And it is this conviction and determination that will ensure success. Where there is doubt there can be no chance of freedom. Never, ever use faith or trust to deal with doubt ... you may be in danger of becoming enlightened then!

ALAN: The second battle has been won. Let battle commence and off we go. WHeeeeeeeee! Ain’t life grand!!!!!!!!!

RICHARD: It surely is.

June 22 1998

RICHARD: I received your E-Mail yesterday and I was pleased to see that you are still going on with your investigation into life, the universe and what it is to be a human being living in this world as it is with people as they are. Although I am completely self-contained, and dependent upon no one and no thing for psychological support or emotional well-being, it is indeed pleasing to see that there is at least some people in this world who have not lost the plot completely. Sensible, matter-of-fact people are extremely thin on the ground ... I have been talking about these matters – out of my experiential understanding – for eighteen years now. The usual course that such interactions take is that people are initially very interested – some fascinated – with what I have to say about what I have experienced. Then, somewhere between two weeks and two months later they disappear over the horizon in a cloud of dust ... never to be seen again. This has been going on for years and years and currently there are only a handful of people who are vitally interested in being here now as an actuality.

I have spoken with literally hundreds of people over the years; I put my Web-Page up at Peter’s urging mid last year ... and you can see the response for yourself. I went onto Mailing List ‘A’ late last year to promote an alternative to the ‘Tried and True’ ... only to receive such vituperative replies that I had to polish up my facetiousness in order to survive! I subscribed to Mailing List ‘B’ in February this year ... and you can see just how well I have progressed there. An actual freedom, here on earth, in this life-time, as this flesh and blood body, is simply not popular at all. The Glamour and the Glory and the Glitz of the Enlightened State Of Being has too much of a hold for people to see the facts and actuality that I keep putting before them.

I tell you all this not as a tale of woe but so that you will be under no illusions about what is involved ... it is very, very daunting to go all the way into one’s psyche. It is – as I am so fond of saying – not for the faint of heart or the weak of knee. One has to have nerves of steel to withstand the storms of the psyche ... but the ensuing peace-on-earth is so salubrious that anything – anything – is worth confronting and experiencing in order to be here as an actuality.

Peter and Vineeto are the driving force behind ‘The Actual Freedom Trust’ and are the initiators of making actualism publicly known. They are currently putting the finishing touches to ‘Peter’s Journal’ (Vineeto has written a thirty-page addendum and Peter has re-written the entire book after submitting it to an accredited editor for editing). Their plan is to publish both ‘Peter’s Journal’ and ‘Richard’s Journal’ in paper-back form and have both covers being printed at the moment (should be finished tomorrow) and both books go to the printer this coming Friday. They are printing 100 copies of each for starters ... and then comes the task of publicising and distributing. If anyone can do it ... they will.

So, although I have been discussing freedom with people on a one-to-one basis for eighteen years now, I have never ‘gone public’ before ... actual freedom is at the grass roots level at the moment.

ALAN: I have some questions. ‘I could no longer believe it was not possible’ is a double negative saying ‘I believed it was possible’. How can one have a conviction it is possible, born out of one’s PCE, without a belief it is possible? And maybe I have just answered my own question. (Quote from ‘Richard’s Journal’): ‘Personally, I never believed or trusted that it was possible; nor did I have hope or faith or certitude, for such an action of believing, trusting, hoping and having faith and certitude perpetuates the believer, the truster, the hoper and the faithful certifier. On the contrary, I could no longer believe that it was not possible ... which is a different action entirely. I stopped believing, period.’

RICHARD: Yes, maybe you have answered your own question (conviction as opposed to belief), but let us look more closely ... as it is an important point that I stress with people that I talk with face-to face. The status-quo is that it is not possible to be free here on earth (‘you can’t change human nature’). For thirty-three years this had been a truism for me and every single human being. Then I had a PCE in 1980 and I experienced perfection here-on-earth as an actuality. I saw, there and then, that the ‘it is not possible’ truism was nothing but a belief. That was the end of the belief ... period. With the ‘it is not possible’ belief of the ‘you can’t change human nature’ disappearing in the PCE, one finds that it is not replaced by a belief in ‘it is possible’ because the perfection of being here now is an actuality in the PCE. It does not have to be believed because it is already always here – now – as a fact.

Secondly, it cannot be believed because to have the PCE in the first place, ‘I’ have to disappear. As ‘I’ as ego have an emotive component – and ‘me’ as soul is nothing but passion – then the PCE has nothing to do with the affective capacities whatsoever. If there are any feelings – emotions, passions and calenture – operating one cannot have a PCE ... it is this simple. Thus I use words like ‘certainty’, ‘conviction’, ‘solid knowing’ and so on. Words like ‘believe’, ‘trust’, ‘hope’ ‘faith’ and ‘certitude’ all have an affective component ... they are fervent or ardent words. Hence such feelings perpetuate the believer, the truster, the hoper and the faithful certifier. That is what ‘I’ am at the core of ‘my’ being ... a passionate entity. ‘Being’ itself is affective. This is what ‘me’ is ... and believing and so on supports, endorses and perpetuates ‘me’.

When one reverts to being normal again after the PCE, it is vital not to believe ... vital.

The words ‘certainty’ and ‘conviction’ mean a state of being free from doubt. Whilst ‘certainty’ and ‘certitude’ are very close in meaning, in common usage ‘certainty’ stresses the existence of objective proof; e.g.: ‘that which can be confirmed with scientific certainty’, while ‘certitude’ emphasises a faith in something not capable of proof (for example: to believe with certitude in an afterlife).

ALAN: How is it possible for me to consider and discuss my own demise? ‘I’ choose to write this. ‘I’ choose to call you on the telephone. ‘I’ read what you have written. All of these choices, which ‘I’ make, are actions which will accelerate ‘my’ demise. So why do ‘I’ allow myself to do them? (Quote from ‘Richard’s Journal’): ‘I am full of admiration for the ‘me’ that dared to do such a thing. I owe all that I experience now to ‘me’. I salute ‘my’ audacity.’

RICHARD: First, with all of the wars and murders and rapes and tortures and domestic violence and child abuse and sadness and loneliness and grief and depression and suicides we are all affected ... because we are fellow human beings. ‘I’ do it – psychological and psychic self-immolation – because ‘I’ care about us all ... deeply and sincerely and utterly.

Second, because one has had a PCE and ‘I’ cannot deny the validity of the experience. ‘I’ see that ‘I’ am standing in the way of peace-on-earth. Of course ‘I’ sacrifice ‘myself’ ... there is no choice but to. It is the only thing to do.

Third, because it is the adventure of a life-time ... the most thrilling experience ‘I’ can ever have. It far surpasses climbing Mt. Everest or discovering the source of the Nile, or any other now-petty physical adventure.

And last, but not least, because now the universe can experience itself intelligently as a reflective sensate human being

ALAN: From a previous E-Mail: [Alan]: ‘If enlightened masters are not experiencing actual freedom, what are they experiencing? [Richard]: ‘A massive delusion ... narcissism taken to an extreme. It is self-aggrandisement ... based upon the instinct to survive that blind nature endows all sentient beings with. ‘I’ crave eternal life – immortality – and thus miss out on the eternity of this universe’s time as is evidenced when one is being here now at this place in infinite space’. [endquote]. Yet, presumably this arose out of a PCE?

RICHARD: Yes, most definitely ... and a PCE is pure. Yet the purity of the PCE can become tainted and devolve into something less pure because the identity is not extinct ... merely in abeyance (when the identity is extinct it is actual freedom ... and thus irrevocable. The freedom of actual freedom is not only quantitatively superior to a PCE, it is qualitatively superior ... a PCE is the nearest thing one can have to actual freedom whilst remaining human). Whilst ‘I’ as ego have temporarily abdicated the throne in a peak experience, ‘me’ as soul may emerge ... and then that is the seduction of the Enlightened State that can come sweeping into the PCE and turn it into a religious or spiritual epiphany. Then it is no longer a PCE ... this is ‘me’ transmogrifying ‘myself’ into the grand ‘Me’ that exists for all Eternity (I have a description of this in ‘Appendix No. 1 in ‘Richard’s Journal’).

One can be lost for the remainder of one’s life in the Glamour and the Glory and the Glitz of mysticism ... hence my crusade (as you so aptly put it in your first telephone call to me) against Enlightened Masters. They have feet of clay ... and because I dared to go where no one else cared to go, I can rightfully call them ‘Gutless Wonders’.

ALAN: Why do you consider actual freedom to be permanent and irrevocable?

RICHARD: Both ‘I’ as ego and ‘me’ as soul have become extinct ... annihilated, expunged, liquidated, extirpated. As dead as the dodo and with no skeletal remains. It is final, complete and utter. This has been my condition since 1992, thus I have had five plus years to compare it with the enlightened state ... I can find no fault anywhere. In the enlightened state there were occasional ‘bleed-throughs’ from the transcended ‘I’ entity ... brief flashes of fear, irritation and so on (a close examination of what is written about various Enlightened Masters will explicate this). I have had nary a hint or a glimmer or a whiff or a faintest trace of a ‘bleed-through’ in actual freedom ... and I am ruthless in my examination of myself. After all, I am going public with an outrageous and outstanding claim that could – and should – set the squalid complacency of the religious, spiritual, mystical and metaphysical communities on their ears ... and for those eleven years I was determined to be ‘squeaky-clean’ before doing so. Five years without a single hitch has satisfied me beyond any doubt whatsoever – not only beyond reasonable doubt – that this is that which is the answer to all the ills of humankind.

ALAN: (Quote from ‘Richard’s Journal’): ‘No longer self-centred, that last little elusive bit which ‘I’ could not purify ‘myself’ has expired, enabling me to be here now.’ How?

RICHARD: By psychological and psychic self-immolation. I probably cannot say it again better than in ‘Richard’s Journal: Article 27’: It is possible to psychologically and psychically self-immolate. The identity is comprised of two entities: the ego and the soul and they are, roughly speaking, situated in the head and the heart respectively. It must be stressed that while they may be real, they are not actual ... they have no substance whatsoever. However, whilst they hold sway they are the ‘who’ one takes oneself to be; they are the ‘who’ one thinks and feels that one is. They are one’s intuition of ‘being’, an impression of ‘presence’, an awareness of ‘spirit’ that is mistakenly taken to imply and prove one’s existence. One can sacrifice oneself – psychologically and psychically speaking – for the good of society in general and for oneself in particular. With no identity whatsoever inside the body, one finds that one is both spontaneously benign and benevolent ... without any malice and sorrow.

One’s essential character is identical with the essential character of the infinitude of the universe ... this wondrous universe that all we humans live in. One discovers that one is living in a condition of perfection and purity ... and in perfection and purity there is no need for ‘Right’ or ‘Wrong’ and ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’. Nevertheless, one cannot psychologically and psychically self-immolate just because it seems like a good idea at the time. It requires a rather curious decision to be made ... a decision the likes of which has never been made before nor will ever be made again. It is a once-in-a-lifetime determination and takes some considerable preparation.

This ‘preparation’ is the purifying process wherein ‘I’ purify ‘myself’ for as much as ‘I’ can. By asking the question: ‘How am I experiencing myself at this moment of being alive’ ‘I’ have no choice but to examine each and every emotion, belief, value and so on that make up a large part of ‘my’ identity. The ‘last little bit’ of ‘me’ is what ‘I’ cannot undo ... it is like that phrase ‘you cannot pull yourself up by your bootstraps’. But ‘I’ can set in motion a process which gathers momentum and leads to ‘my’ demise. It is a thrilling ride and pure intent is the essential ingredient to ensure success. When the end comes, ‘I’ cannot distinguish between ‘me’ doing ‘it’ and ‘it’ happening to ‘me’.

It is the escapade of a life-time.

ALAN: (Richard): ‘Actual freedom is free of calenture entirely.’ According to Chambers, calenture is ‘a fever or delirium occurring on board ship in hot climates’. What does the Australian dictionary say?

RICHARD: Calenture is an incredibly useful word as it describes the delirious passion needed to manifest the delusion that:

1. There is a God ... and:
2. I am that God.

Here is the fullest description of the word that I have come across: CALENTURE: ka-len-chur; noun; 1593 [Etymology: From Spanish: calentura; calenture heat, fever, from calentar: to heat, from Latin: calent, calens, calere to be warm.] To see as in the delirium of one affected with calenture. [Poetic] ‘Hath fed on pageants floating through the air. Or calentures in depths of limpid flood.’ (Wordsworth). Calenture is a name formerly given to various fevers occurring in tropics; especially to a form of furious delirium accompanied by fever, among sailors, which sometimes led the affected person to imagine the sea to be a green field, and to throw himself into it. Synonyms: passion, ardour, fervour, fire, zeal, rapture, ecstasy.

ALAN: I am still struggling with ‘what is the point in doing anything, when one knows there is something so much better’, which I mentioned to you on the telephone. I answered myself in an email reply to someone the other day – there is no point, so one does it anyway.

RICHARD: Oh dear ... maybe it is not intended, but the phrase ‘there is no point, so one does it anyway’ reads somewhat like a stoic or existentialist philosophy. I always start with the physical basics ... there is definitely a point in doing whatever is necessary to provide the five physical essentials which are required in order to stay alive; air, water, food, clothing and housing (I classify these as ‘needs’ and anything else is a ‘want’). But there is only a point to doing this providing there is a point to staying alive in the first place. When someone says to me that ‘there is no point to being alive’ I invariably answer with ‘why do you not commit suicide then’? Generally they respond with something like ‘I didn’t ask to be born’ ... to which I respond with ‘why do you not commit suicide then’? This rather merciless process goes on and on until the person finally acknowledges that they stay alive because they want to be alive. This is important for it establishes a basis, beyond the physical necessities, for being alive. To wit: ‘I want to be here’.

Now the person knows that they choose to stay here on earth.

This is where I begin a process of getting the person to dig into their memory banks to find a PCE. It is amazing to these people to find the basis for their oft-repeated phrase ‘there must be something more to life’. Once it has been established that they have had a first-hand experience of a purity and perfection here on earth in this life-time, they now have a reason for being here: to live that PCE twenty four hours a day. This then, is the point of being alive.

Now, because you have had numerous PCE’s, your question was different to theirs: ‘what is the point in doing anything, when one knows there is something so much better?’ The point to ‘doing anything’ is that this is what is needed to be done in order to manifest and evince a condition which Richard calls actual freedom – which he says is better than a PCE – in which whatever one is doing, moment-to-moment, is perfect.

Thus one is well-advised to ensure that whatever one is doing, moment-to-moment, is exactly what one needs to do to make this event happen ... because the means to the end are similar to the end itself. There is none of that ‘the end justifies the means’ cliché in actualism. The ‘means’ and ‘the end’ are – in effect – one and the same thing. In other words, if you are not living the actual, then imitate living the actual ... as experienced in your PCE. A glum and/or grumpy person has no chance of becoming free. Only a happy and harmless person has a chance of becoming free. So ask yourself, each moment again: ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive’? It works like this: ‘If I am not happy and harmless now, then I have something to look at – something to do – until I am happy and harmless ... right here and now. Now that I am happy and harmless I have a chance of becoming free. And even if I do not become free today because of all this ... I am much better off because the way I am now living my life is far beyond normal human expectations anyway!’

It is a win/win situation. Peter and Vineeto, for example, are so pleased with the changes in their life that they have written about it and are putting up the thousands of dollars required to publish ... and they are not living in actual freedom. Virtual freedom, as I have oft-times said, is way, way beyond normal human expectations anyway.

ALAN: I have also been following some of the discussions on Mailing List ‘B’, with some amusement. Do you know sufficient people interested to start up the mail forum, you mentioned?

RICHARD: No, not yet ... but maybe there will be sufficient people one day ... some day in the not to distant future, maybe. Actually, I go for quality, not quantity. I would rather have five people fascinated with life than a hundred – or a thousand – merely interested. I want results discussed ... not mere ‘talking about’ like what is on the existing Mailing Lists.

It is a hobby for most, I see.

ALAN: How is your dissertation, ‘proving’ you are not living an illusion coming along?

RICHARD: Slowly. I am working on a completely new write-up in which actualism is clearly described once and for all and will not need revision ... I will let you know when I get it finished (maybe a month or six weeks yet ... I write slowly).

Great to hear from you. I get the distinct impression that you are made of the stuff that it takes to live the ‘impossible’ ... and I have spoken with hundreds of people over the years to no avail. This correspondence is a new thing for me as I have always discussed freedom face-to-face. I am very curious as to the week-by-week out-come ... and this may answer the question ‘how far can actual freedom be conveyed by the written word alone’?

July 10 1998

ALAN: The reason for this mail is that I am having an interesting discussion with someone on the OS forum, who been willing to share her ‘near death’ experience with me. Other than the obvious loss of the ‘I’, I have no idea what it means. Do you have any views? (It was sent in confidence – I have removed any identifying features).

RICHARD: Yes, I do have definite views: An NDE does not even indicate – let alone prove – Life After Death ... which is the conclusion most peoples jump to. You may find the following article illuminating (article made possible by: Lycaeum Drug Archives). ‘Using ketamine to induce the near-death experience: mechanism of action and therapeutic potential’. (From the ‘Yearbook for Ethnomedicine and the Study of Consciousness (Jahrbuch furr Ethnomedizin und Bewubtseinsforschung) Issue 4, 1995 (Ed.s C. Ratsch; J. R. Baker); VWB, Berlin, pp55-81 by Dr. Karl L. R. Jansen, Psychiatrist; 63 Denmark Hill London SE5 8AZ United Kingdom) . I have snipped all the – academically necessary – source-references for easier reading.

• [quote]: ‘Near-death experiences (NDE’s) can be induced using the dissociative drug ketamine. Advances in neuroscience have recently provided us with new insights as to the mechanisms involved at the mind-brain interface. On the ‘brain’ side, it is now clear that these NDE’s are due to blockade of brain receptors (drug binding sites) for the neurotransmitter glutamate. These binding sites are called the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. Conditions which precipitate NDE’s (low oxygen, low blood flow, low blood sugar, temporal lobe epilepsy etc.) have been shown to release a flood of glutamate, over-activating NMDA receptors. This over activation can kill brain cells (‘excito’ toxicity). Ketamine prevents excito-toxicity. Conditions which trigger a glutamate flood may also trigger a flood of ketamine-like brain chemicals which bind to NMDA receptors to protect cells, leading to an altered state of consciousness like that produced by ketamine. On the ‘mind’ side, induction of NDE’s has psychotherapeutic value via several routes which will be explored in this article. <SNIP> The near-death experience (NDE) is a phenomenon of wide general interest. Despite its association with sensationalist media reports, populist books of doubtful scientific value, and a series of dubious Hollywood films, the NDE is still of considerable importance to medicine, neuroscience, neurology, psychiatry, psychology and, more controversially, philosophy and theology. <SNIP> Philosophical and theological issues are beyond the scope of the present discussion, which is based within the scientific paradigm and is thus best assessed from within this paradigm.
Recent advances in neuroscience are bringing us closer to a brain-based understanding of the NDE as an altered state of consciousness. This discussion does not address the issue of whether there is life after death, but does argue that NDE’s are not evidence for life after death. This would be appear to be self-evident on logical grounds: death is defined as the final, irreversible end. The Oxford English Dictionary (Sykes, 1982) defines death as the ‘final cessation of vital functions’. According to this definition, ‘Returnees’ did not die – although their minds, brains and bodies may have been in a highly unusual state for a period of time. If these definitions are not accepted, then we need a new terminology to describe these states.
There is now evidence from thousands of studies relating brain events to alterations in mental state that ‘mind’ results from neuronal activity. These studies range from observing the results of directly stimulating the brain with electrodes, for example the pioneering work of the neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield, to the most recent studies using magnetic resonance imaging to observe brain activity, for example to demonstrate activity in the temporal lobe while schizophrenics are experiencing auditory hallucinations. <SNIP> The dramatic effects on the mind which result from the action of hallucinogenic drugs in the brain, effects which can include profound religious experiences, provide further evidence for the dependence of mind upon neuro-chemical and neuro-electrical events. <SNIP> However, the dimension in which mind itself exists remains a mystery.
Within a scientific paradigm, it is not possible that ‘the spirit rises out of the body leaving the brain behind, but somehow still incorporating neuronal functions such as sight, hearing, and proprioception’. <SNIP> To believe that this is possible, we must leave the realm of science and adopt a wholly different paradigm.

The Near-Death Experience: Typical Features:
There is no internationally agreed set of criteria which define the NDE as exists, for example, for psychiatric disorders. Some critics of neurobiological models have dismissed them because a feature of the NDE which they believe to be important may not have been fully accounted for by the model being proposed, although it may well be that the statistically determined key features of the NDE (a consensus view) would not include those features. Just as with classification in psychiatry, it is important to reach an international consensus and avoid the sectarian views of a few. Neurobiological models should not be disregarded because of obscure and exceptional cases which cannot currently be explained.
The typical features of a ‘classic’ NDE include a sense that what is experienced is ‘real’ and that one is truly dead, ineffability (i.e. a sense that what is experienced cannot be described using language, ‘beyond words’), timelessness, analgesia, apparent clarity of thought and feelings of calm and peace, although some NDE’s have been disturbing and frightening. There may be a perception of separation from the body (out-of-body experiences). Common hallucinations include landscapes, people including partners, parents, teachers and friends (who may be alive at the time), and religious and mythical figures including angels and a representation of ‘God’ as light. Transcendent mystical states are common. Memories frequently emerge into consciousness, although the organisation of these into a ‘life review’ is a relatively rare phenomenon. Hearing noises during the initial part of the NDE has been described – the significance of this feature will be discussed later. <SNIP> NDE’s [have been] classified on a 5 stage continuum:

1. feelings of peace and contentment;
2. a sense of detachment from the body;
3. entering a transitional world of darkness (rapid movements through tunnels: ‘the tunnel experience’);
4. emerging into bright light; and
5. ‘entering the light’.

60% experienced stage 1, but only 10% attained stage 5. <SNIP> As might be predicted in a mental state with a neurobiological origin, mundane accounts with less symbolic meaning also occur, e.g. children who may ‘see’ their school-fellows rather than God and angels. <SNIP> The intravenous administration of 50 – 100 mg of ketamine can reproduce all of the features which have commonly been associated with NDE’s. Intramuscular administration also results in NDE’s, but events evolve at a slower pace and are longer lasting. <SNIP> Mounting evidence suggests that the reproduction/induction of NDE’s by ketamine is not simply an interesting coincidence. Exciting new discoveries include the major binding site for ketamine on brain cells, known as the phencyclidine (PCP) binding site of the NMDA receptor, (<SNIP> the importance of NMDA receptors in the cerebral cortex, particularly in the temporal and frontal lobes, and the key role of these sites in cognitive processing, memory, and perception. NMDA receptors play an important role in epilepsy, psychoses, <SNIP> and in producing the cell death which results from a lack of oxygen, a lack of blood, and from epileptic fits (excito-toxicity). This form of brain cell damage can be prevented by administration of ketamine. Other key discoveries include that of chemicals in the brain called ‘endopsychosins’ which bind to the same site as ketamine, and the role of ions such as magnesium and zinc at this site. <SNIP> Ketamine administered by intravenous injection is capable of reproducing all of the features of the NDE which have been commonly described. <SNIP> Unfortunately, the study in which persons who have had NDE’s are given ketamine and asked to compare the two experiences has yet to be carried out, although the psychological effects of ketamine have been well documented in numerous clinical studies by anaesthetists. <SNIP> Information in the area of ketamine and NDE’s remains largely anecdotal, and some of these references are necessarily to secondary sources. The present author has experienced several NDE’s and has also been administered ketamine as an anaesthetic and within experimental paradigms. The NDE’s and ketamine experiences were clearly the same type of altered state of consciousness. Ketamine repeatedly produced effects which were like the NDE’s. <SNIP> Ketamine reproduced travel through a tunnel (sometimes described as ‘the plumbing of the world’, or in mundane terms such as ‘like being on a subway train’), emergence into the light, and a ‘telepathic’ exchange with an entity which could be described as ‘God’. Neither the NDE’s nor the ketamine experiences bore any resemblance to the effects of psychedelic drugs such as dimethyltryptamine (DMT; also administered to the author in experimental paradigms) and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD).

Ketamine: Typical Features:
Ketamine is a short-acting, hallucinogenic, ‘dissociative’ anaesthetic. The anaesthesia is the result of the patient being so ‘dissociated’ and ‘removed from their body’ that it is possible to carry out surgical procedures. This is wholly different from the ‘unconsciousness’ produced by conventional anaesthetics, although ketamine is also an excellent analgesic (pain killer) by a different route (i.e. not due to dissociation). Ketamine is related to phencyclidine (PCP). Both drugs are arylcyclohexylamines – they are not opioids and are not related to LSD. In contrast to PCP, ketamine is relatively safe, is much shorter acting, is an uncontrolled drug in most countries, and remains in use as an anaesthetic for children in industrialised countries and all ages in the third world as it is cheap and easy to use (White et al., 1982). Anaesthetists prevent patients from having NDE’s (‘emergence phenomena’) by the co-administration of sedatives which produce ‘true’ unconsciousness rather than dissociation. <SNIP> The altered state of consciousness resulting from ketamine administration is very different from that produced by psychedelic drugs such as LSD and DMT. <SNIP> As noted above, ketamine can reproduce all features of the NDE, including travel through a dark tunnel into light, the conviction that one is dead, ‘telepathic communion with God’, hallucinations, out-of-body experiences, strange noises at the beginning of the experience etc. (see ketamine references above). A consideration of some of the accounts which have been given of the effects of ketamine makes this clear. For example <SNIP>: ‘... becoming a disembodied mind or soul, dying and going to another world. Childhood events may also be re-lived. The loss of contact with ordinary reality and the sense of participation in another reality are more pronounced and less easily resisted than is usually the case with LSD. The dissociative experiences often seem so genuine that users are not sure that they have not actually left their bodies’.
Timothy Leary, who had very extensive personal experience of LSD, described his experiences with ketamine as ‘experiments in voluntary death’. <SNIP> One of the best accounts of the non-medical use of ketamine appeared in the popular magazine ‘High Times’. <SNIP> Although not included in the Medline and Psychlit data bases, this account is recommended to those with an interest in the subject: one infrequent ketamine user reported a classic near-death experience ... ‘I was convinced I was dead. I was floating above my body. I reviewed all of the events of my life and saw a lot of areas where I could have done better’. The psychiatrist Stanislav Grof, who also had extensive experience of LSD, stated: ‘If you have a full-blown experience of ketamine, you can never believe there is death or that death can possibly influence who you are’. <SNIP> An anaesthetist observed: ‘Ketamine allows some to reason that ... the strange, unexpected intensity and unfamiliar dimension of their experience means they have died.’ <SNIP>
Attempts to explain NDE’s as altered states of consciousness involving hallucinations are sometimes rejected by ‘after-lifers’ because many of those who have had NDE’s insist upon the reality of their experiences. <SNIP> However, 30% of subjects given ketamine were certain they had not been dreaming or hallucinating, but that the events had really happened. <SNIP> ‘After-lifers’ sometimes misunderstand the definition of a hallucination which is widely accepted to be as follows: ‘a hallucination has the immediate sense of reality of a true perception ... transient hallucinatory experiences are common in individuals without mental disorder’. <SNIP> If we are to consider that ketamine opens the door to alternative spaces which ‘really exist’, then what arguments shall we use to reassure a hallucinating, paranoid schizophrenic?
The apparently clear sensorium of some persons who have had NDE’s has also been used to argue that the NDE is ‘real’ and not an altered state of consciousness, <SNIP> which argument presupposes that altered states and experiencing hallucinations necessarily involve a clouding of consciousness. This is certainly not the case, particularly where some drug induced states are concerned. It is important to note that hallucinations in schizophrenia typically occur in clear consciousness and are believed to be real. Indeed, this is one of the diagnostic criteria. <SNIP> A personal conviction of the ‘reality’ of an NDE does not invalidate scientific explanations. It is not unusual for persons under the influence of hallucinogens to claim that their minds are clearer than usual. Some users of hallucinogens adopt the view that the hallucinogenic world is real while the ‘normal’ world is a veil of illusion. <SNIP> John Lilly, perhaps the most experienced user of ketamine in the world today, maintained that ketamine could take the user beyond ‘the social consensus reality’ to deeper, ‘meta’ realities. However, Lilly was also admitted three times to psychiatric hospitals with a paranoid psychosis linked to excessive ketamine use. For example, on one of these occasions he was attempting to telephone the President of the United States to warn him concerning the machine plot to take over the universe, from which only dolphins could save us. <SNIP> It is nonsensical to argue that while this is a paranoid delusion, experiences with a religious flavour are ‘real’ and evidence for ‘meta’-realities, because of the religious beliefs of ourselves and/or our culture.
Much has been made of the apparent mystery surrounding the occasional ability of cardiac arrest survivors to describe the resuscitation in detail. <SNIP> It is worth noting that ketamine can permit sufficient sensory input to allow accounts of procedures during which the patient appeared wholly unconscious. <SNIP> These reports are not regarded by anaesthetists as particularly mysterious.

Receptors, Neurotransmitters and Neuroanatomy:
Over the last decade, it has become clear that the overwhelming majority of large neurones in the cerebral cortex use glutamate as their neurotransmitter (chemical messenger between cells). These are the brain cells which connect different parts of the cerebral cortex, and which project out of the cerebral cortex to other areas. It is the actions of glutamate, an excitatory amino acid, which make us human and unique, as this chemical is of central importance in the cerebral cortex – particularly in the frontal and temporal lobes and in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a structure in the medial temporal lobe involved in memory, emotion and integrating inputs from many parts of the brain. <SNIP> Glutamate plays a vital role in all cognitive processes involving the cerebral cortex, including thinking, memory and perception. <SNIP>
The NMDA receptor is a large structure with several ‘docking sites’ for neuro-chemicals and a channel through which ions can enter the cell. One of these ‘docking sites’ is a binding site for ketamine and PCP, called the PCP receptor, attached to the binding site for NMDA. <SNIP> The term ‘NMDA receptor’ is often used to refer to the entire structure, although strictly speaking the NMDA binding site (which is also the binding site for glutamate) is only one part of the whole. This is largely for historical reasons.
When the glutamate theory of the NDE was first proposed, <SNIP> it was not clear whether the hallucinogenic properties of ketamine were due to NMDA receptors or an entity referred to as ‘sigma’ receptors. It was initially believed that so-called sigma ‘opioid’ receptors were the same entity as the NMDA receptor. We now know that sigma receptors have a unique distribution in the CNS entirely unlike that of the NMDA receptor, and that sigma receptors are certainly not a form of opioid receptor. <SNIP> It is increasingly clear that the hallucinogenic properties of ketamine are due to NMDA receptor blockade, <SNIP> and that sigma receptors probably do not play an important role in this, although the mystery of sigma receptors and their role in the brain continues. Substances which bind to sigma receptors with a high degree of specificity (e.g. (+)pentazocine) do not produce NDE’s at doses where most of the binding is to sigma rather than NMDA and kappa opioid receptors (substances which bind to sigma receptors frequently have some affinity for NMDA and kappa opioid receptors at higher doses). <SNIP>

Glutamate is excitatory. When glutamate is present in excess, neurones are overexcited and die via a process called ‘excito-toxicity’. This involves the ion channel to which the NMDA receptor is attached remaining open for too long. Ions and water rush into the cell which bursts as a result. This is the mechanism of neuronal cell death in conditions of low oxygen, low blood sugar and epilepsy, conditions which have been proven to lead to excessive release of glutamate. <SNIP> Blockade of the PCP receptor prevents cell death from excito-toxicity. <SNIP> This is because the PCP binding site is located within the ion channel. Ketamine binds to this site and thus prevents neuronal cell death in these conditions.
This suggests that the brain may have its own protective mechanism against the documented glutamate flood. This protective, ‘anti-excito-toxic’ mechanism is likely to take the form of a counter-flood of a substance which binds to the PCP receptor, preventing cell death. The brain is a well-protected organ with many known defences: the skull, the meninges (‘wrappings around the brain’), the protective hydraulics of the ventricular system and the cerebrospinal fluid, the blood-brain barrier and so on. Considering the brain’s exquisite vulnerability to excito-toxic damage, it is reasonable to propose the evolutionary development of protective mechanisms against excito-toxicity. In some individuals, this protective mechanism is probably more advanced than in others, just as individuals vary, for example, in the rates at which different drugs are metabolised.
The existence of a natural system to protect against excito-toxicity is the only speculation in the process outlined above: the other statements are strongly supported by experimental data published in leading journals. <SNIP> Endogenous substances have been found in the brain which bind to the PCP receptor, one of which is a peptide called ‘alpha-endopsychosin’. (<SNIP> However, this is a controversial area of research. We do know that ions such as magnesium and zinc can block the channel, and it may be that a flood of ions occurs rather than large compounds such as peptides.

Alternative Explanations for the NDE:
Investigators who appear to favour explanations lying outside the scientific paradigm have argued that the NDE phenomenon must have a single explanation and then presented anecdotes to counter each of the scientific theories which have been proposed, <SNIP> or required that any scientific theory put forward must explain all of the experiences which have been labelled as NDE’s. <SNIP> This is a very limiting approach which has largely been abandoned in other areas of mental science where it is considered more profitable to view many conditions as having multiple causes. As with these other conditions, it is more likely that the NDE is a final common expression of several different causes. Even then, the final ‘common’ expression contains sufficient variability to suggest different types of NDE with different explanations. Multi-levelled interpretations and explanations are probably the most useful in terms of genuinely advancing our understanding and suggesting workable research projects. The hypothesis proposed in this paper is not intended to apply to all NDE’s. It is not incompatible with many of the theories described below, as it can be considered to be the molecular substrate of most of these events.
Psychological Explanations of the NDE

1. Depersonalisation: The depersonalisation theory proposes that the NDE is an adaptive mechanism of the personality which alerts one to the threat of death while potentially overwhelming emotion is held at bay, allowing the reality to be integrated without panic. <SNIP> While protecting nerve cells from ischaemic damage is largely irrelevant when one is falling from a cliff, the NDE-producing situation which first resulted in this hypothesis, NMDA receptors would certainly be involved in producing the experience of depersonalisation as they play a central role in cognition and perception.
2. Regression in the service of the ego: This theory maintains that confronting death leads to a cutting off the external world. The result is regression to a pre-verbal level which can be experienced as mystical ineffability. <SNIP> Certainly a loss of contact with the external world is one of the most characteristic effects of ketamine. This is probably the result of blockade of NMDA receptors involved in sensory transmission. NMDA receptors play a key role in the transmission of incoming signals from all sensory modalities. <SNIP>
3. A state dependant reactivation of birth memories: This theory explains the movement through tunnels towards ‘the light’ as a memory of being born. <SNIP> The NDE is thus actually a ‘near-birth experience’ rather than a ‘near-death experience’. NMDA receptor blockade could certainly be the underlying mechanism for the release of extremely primitive memories not normally available to consciousness.
4. The NDE as a sensory deprivation phenomenon: This hypothesis maintains that memories may normally be suppressed by a mechanism which acts as a gate, admitting primarily external signals when we are fully conscious and concentrating upon an external task. <SNIP> If this input is dramatically reduced, for example when we are dreaming, have been given drugs such as ketamine, or have just had a heart attack, in combination with a high level of central stimulation (e.g. as would result from excessive glutamate release during hypoxia, ischaemia, epilepsy, or arising without external provocation), stored perceptions are released and become ‘organised’ by the mind into an experience with some symbolic meaning. According to Ron Siegel (1980), the ‘white light’ may result from CNS stimulation mimicking light on the retina, and a lowering of the phosphene perceptual threshold. Sensory deprivation itself produces a profound alteration in consciousness which is certainly mediated via NMDA receptors (see ‘regression in the service of the ego’ above. <SNIP>

There is substantial evidence implicating the hippocampus in memory formation and retrieval. It is highly likely that the hippocampus is the anatomical location of the ‘gate’ described above, and that NMDA receptors are the molecular substrate of this gate. In the human brain, I have demonstrated that NMDA receptors have their highest concentration in the hippocampus. <SNIP>
NMDA receptors play a crucial role in learning, and in the formation and retrieval of memories. The PCP binding site of the NMDA receptor is in fact referred to as a ‘gated channel’. <SNIP> Whether the gate is open or closed will be determined by the degree of neuronal excitation: the amount of glutamate exciting the cell, which will determine the position of a magnesium ion in the channel – i.e. as the cell becomes increasingly excited, the magnesium ion is pushed out of the channel so that water and calcium ions can rush into the cell. <SNIP> Ketamine blocks this channel at the molecular level and, at a higher level, closes the ‘gate’ to incoming information. <SNIP>

The ‘Drug-induced Hallucinations’ Explanation of the NDE:
The hypothesis presented in this paper is that much can be learnt about the mechanisms of the NDE by studying drug-induced hallucinations, specifically the state produced by ketamine. However, it is certainly not my argument that the NDE’s reported by persons who have had heart attacks etc. are in any way due to drugs which they have been given. Administered drugs may explain a few cases of NDE’s, but in most no drugs were given with effects which resemble the NDE. <SNIP>

The Temporal Lobe Epilepsy Theory:
It has been claimed that there is some similarity between the phenomena experienced in temporal lobe epilepsy and the NDE. <SNIP> There is considerable evidence that glutamate plays an important role in epilepsy. Glutamate is the key neurotransmitter in the temporal lobe, particularly in the hippocampus. The neuropathology of epilepsy (e.g. sclerotic cell damage in the hippocampus) is believed to result from excito-toxic cell death. <SNIP> The endogenous neuro-protective system proposed above may well become active in any excito-toxic situation – not just conditions of low oxygen and low blood flow.
Temporal lobe epilepsy could lead to an activation of this system.
The degree of excito-toxic cell damage and the associated altered state of consciousness resulting from a glutamate flood, whatever the precipitating cause, may depend on the final balance in each neuronal pathway between excito-toxic forces and neuro-protective mechanisms. It is of interest to consider reports of persons who underwent prolonged oxygen deprivation as the result of a medical emergency, had a profound NDE, and survived the incident without obvious cognitive impairment. <SNIP> The lack of apparent brain damage in these cases may be due to these individuals being possessed of a highly effective in-built mechanism for blockade of NMDA receptors in the face of a flood of glutamate. These individuals may have other characteristics such as increased tendency to report vivid dreams. In this context, it is interesting to note that not all persons given ketamine report ‘emergence phenomena’.
Those who are not able to report experiences of this nature may be as high as 60% or more when the general population is sampled rather than illicit drug users who represent a biased and self-selecting group. Interestingly, it has been claimed that 40% of adult Americans report an NDE at some point in their lives. Anaesthetists have shown that persons who report vivid dreams are in fact more likely to experience emergence phenomena.
It is also possible that there is no protective mechanism against excito-toxicity. Rather than mimicking a natural protective process, ketamine may have some of its psychological effects by mimicking some of the processes seen in temporal lobe epilepsy. Ketamine does block glutamatergic neuro-transmission and prevents excito-toxic cell death. However, the effect of ketamine upon human electrical brain waves (the electroencephalograph, EEG) suggests a complex interplay of forces. There is a reduction in alpha wave activity, while beta, delta and theta wave activity are increased. <SNIP> Ketamine has been reported to act both as an anticonvulsant (i.e. substance which prevents epilepsy) <SNIP> and as a pro-convulsant (epilepsy inducing substance) <SNIP> [it is] reported that ketamine could produce EEG patterns in human limbic and thalamic regions resembling epileptic patterns, but that there was no evidence that this affected other cortical regions or that clinical seizures were likely to occur. This is quite consistent with the NDE model <SNIP> which involved limited electrical abnormalities in the limbic system. The hippocampus is one of the core structures in the limbic system. Thus the production of NDE’s by ketamine is not inconsistent with the hypothesis that NDE’s may result from abnormal electrical activity in the brain. <SNIP> [It was] concluded: ‘it is hard to draw objective conclusions regarding the anti-convulsant properties of ketamine ... animal data are particularly difficult to interpret because of interspecies variations’. Nevertheless, most of the available evidence favours the conclusion that ketamine is anticonvulsant at doses required to produce NDE’s <SNIP> supporting the hypothesis that NMDA receptor blockade results in NDE’s.

The Endorphin Flood Theory:
<SNIP> [It was] suggested that NDE’s might result from a flood release of endogenous opioids (endorphins) through the brain at the time of death, although no theoretical explanation for this flood was suggested. The basis of the proposal was a research report that survival time could be increased by administering opiate antagonists (endorphin receptor blockers) such as naloxone, in fatal circumstances. <SNIP> [The] concept of a flood release of endogenous compounds is useful, and it has now been established by experiment that a glutamate flood results in excito-toxic cell death in hypoxia/ischaemia and epilepsy (see above). However, endorphins are very different from glutamate. They do not bind to NMDA receptors.
Endorphins are not responsible for NDE’s as they are not potent hallucinogens. <SNIP> Injection of beta-endorphin into the cerebrospinal fluid has analgesic effects lasting well over 22 hours. <SNIP>However, NDE’s are typically brief. Ketamine produces brief, deep analgesia. <SNIP> due to NMDA receptor blockade. <SNIP> The very limited hallucinogenic properties which some synthetic opioids (not endorphins, e.g. (-) pentazocine) do possess appear to result from binding to kappa opioid receptors, with some binding to the PCP site on the NMDA receptor occurring at higher doses. <SNIP> The effects of (-)pentazocine binding to kappa receptors in humans are described as ‘feelings of cheerfulness and strength’, <SNIP> which is a far cry from the effects of ketamine and the NDE. Thus the effects of selective opioid binding to kappa receptors are mild in comparison with the profound alterations in consciousness produced by ketamine. When substantially higher doses are given, more marked effects on the mental state may result from binding to the PCP site on NMDA receptors.
The claim that the (+)isomers of benzomorphan opiates, which are more selective for sigma receptors, have hallucinogenic effects is not supported by an extensive literature based on research in humans, carried out in the 1960’s, which demonstrates that it is the (-)isomers which have some hallucinogenic properties – and these may prefer PCP receptors. <SNIP> The degree to which any effect is due to opioids is determined by administering a substance (naloxone or naltrexone) which prevents opioids from binding to opioid receptors. The effects which are then lost are called the ‘naloxone-reversible’ components. The naloxone-reversible component of benzomorphan opiates is due to kappa opioid receptor binding, while the naloxone insensitive component is now known to be due to PCP (i.e. NMDA) receptor binding, not sigma receptor binding. <SNIP>
The role of opioid receptors in ketamine effects is controversial. <SNIP> [It was] found no evidence that naloxone could reverse the effects of ketamine in humans. Similar results were reported from an important study using dogs. <SNIP> However, ketamine is supplied by the principal manufacturer (Parke-Davis, under the brand name ‘Ketalar’) as a mixture of both (+)ketamine and (-)ketamine isomers. The controversy may be partially resolved by considering the separate effects of the isomers, and the dose levels at which these effects appear. As dose levels rise, drugs will bind to a wider range of receptors for which they have less affinity. In this context, it is important to note that ketamine induces NDE’s at doses much lower than those required for anaesthesia – sometimes stated as being at least four times less. <SNIP> [It was] demonstrated that (+)ketamine has some opioid binding properties and produces more ‘conventional anaesthesia’, while (-)ketamine produces psychic emergence reactions (NDE’s). It was later reported that (+)ketamine is about four times more potent as a hypnotic (sleep-inducing agent) and analgesic, and has different effects upon the EEG from (-)ketamine. <SNIP> This may explain some of the confusion concerning whether ketamine is an anticonvulsant or a proconvulsant, <SNIP> and suggests that future NDE research might be better done with (-)ketamine rather than the mixture currently supplied to anaesthetists.
<SNIP> [Researchers] reviewed animal studies which suggested that beta-endorphin may be epileptogenic (pro-convulsant) to support their argument that beta-endorphins produce NDE’s, <SNIP> While beta-endorphins may have these effects within the rat experimental paradigms used, it is common clinical experience that opioids do not induce epilepsy in humans. They are more commonly associated with sedation than excitation, although the latter can occur. <SNIP>
Overall, it seems more probable that released peptides would have protective functions rather than contributing further to excito-toxicity, as would be the case if they were pro-convulsant. <SNIP> [Researchers] also discuss the report <SNIP> that some endogenous steroids can bind to sigma receptors, and suggest that these steroids could thus play a role in producing NDE’s. As discussed above, current evidence does not favour a role for sigma receptors in the psychological manifestations of the NDE: the role of sigma receptors in producing the mental state – if any – remains to be determined. It should also be noted that the steroid in question was the sex hormone progesterone, which is certainly not a dissociative hallucinogen. Furthermore, <SNIP> [researchers] have suggested that the affinity of progesterone for sigma receptors is insufficient to result in significant receptor occupancy.
It is possible that the ‘endogenous ligand’ (i.e. the naturally occurring substance) which binds to the PCP site is not a peptide but an ion or some other class of compound. Magnesium and zinc are definitely involved in inhibiting the action of the NMDA receptor. <SNIP>

The Abnormal Blood Gases Theory:

1. Hypoxia (low oxygen): The proposal that lack of oxygen might precipitate NDE’s <SNIP> has been criticised <SNIP> because experiments in which the inspired oxygen was made to fall slowly resulted in mental clouding rather than states of consciousness resembling the NDE. <SNIP> However, these experiments are clearly not a satisfactory reproduction of events in, for example, cardiac arrest, a drug over-dose or other types of medical emergency associated with NDE’s. Hypoxia has been clearly shown to cause an excessive release of glutamate with resulting excito-toxicity and cell death, which can be prevented by ketamine (see previous references).
2. Hypercarbia (excessive CO2): In experimental paradigms, CO2-enriched breathing mixtures can result in NDE phenomena such as bodily detachment, being drawn towards a bright light etc. As with NDE’s, diverse personality types report similar experiences, suggesting that a shared neurological substrate is at work. <SNIP>It is again likely that NMDA receptor blockade is involved in producing the effects.

Does Serotonin Play an Important Role?:
Serotonin was one of the first neurotransmitters to be identified, and the effect of LSD at serotonergic receptors was one of the first direct links to be established between a drug binding to a receptor and a potent change in the mental state. Unfortunately, however, because of its historical primacy attempts have been made to link serotonin with an absurdly wide range of mental phenomena, both normal and abnormal. The fact remains that the overwhelming majority of cortical neurones use glutamate as their neurotransmitter, and those small neurones which do not are likely to employ the other major amino acid in the brain, gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA). These discoveries, however, are relatively recent and are only gradually having an impact upon the ‘serotonin industry’. There are very few cells within the cerebral cortex itself which use serotonin as a neurotransmitter.
Like endorphins, serotonergic effects may be contributory but do not play a central role in producing NDE’s. Psychedelic drugs such as LSD and DMT are serotonergic in action. The psychedelic mental state is very different from the NDE. One of the most important differences is that LSD frequently involves an overwhelming increase in sensory input from the environment, <SNIP> in sharp contrast to the dramatic decrease in input, the cataleptic dissociation produced by ketamine. Psychedelic visual phenomena are largely based in the environment, and bear little relationship to the dream-like images of ketamine and the NDE. Ketamine removes the mind from the environment altogether. The ‘ego dissolution’ experienced on LSD has a very different quality from the conviction of having died which may arise with ketamine, and loss of contact with the environment leading rapidly to the ‘tunnel experience’ is not a typical psychedelic drug effect, although it may occur.

Ketamine: Therapeutic Potential:
This section has been entitled ‘therapeutic potential’ rather than ‘psychotherapeutic potential’ as it is doubtful that ketamine could be used for psychotherapy within the conventional meaning of this term, which implies a ‘talking’ therapy. Ketamine interferes with cognitive function to such an extent that meaningful communication with another is largely out of the question, and the nature of the relationship between client and therapist is of limited relevance to the experience. Ketamine removes the person from the environment to the extent that set and setting are greatly diminished in importance, although these factors do still have some impact upon the experience, and suitable music can influence the outcome. The mild psychedelic drugs which act upon serotonin, such as MDMA (‘Ecstasy’) and MBDB (‘Eden’) are more suitable for ‘talking therapies’, and LSD can sometimes also be used to good effect depending upon the circumstances, although it is often too chaotic when used as the sole substance (the combination of MDMA followed by LSD at 90 minutes results in preservation of the ego and an anchoring in consensus reality which is particularly valuable for psychotherapeutic purposes, as a result of neuro-chemical changes and tolerance induced by the preceding MDMA).
However, the ketamine experience may nevertheless have therapeutic aspects via two routes: the effects of the resultant altered state of consciousness itself, and the neuro-chemical/neuro-electrical effects of the drug. With respect to the former, it has been reported that persons experience a number of positive benefits from an NDE. NDE’s can have a favourable impact upon values (e.g. less concern with material goals), anxiety about death (a reduction in death anxiety occurs), and have been linked to an increase in altruism. <SNIP> The event can be a pivotal turning point, encouraging significant and positive life changes. Suicide attempts which result in ‘transcendental’ NDE’s may be followed by a reduced risk of subsequently committing suicide. <SNIP> In contrast, in those who attempt suicide considered as a complete group, the subsequent risk for completed suicide is 50-100 times greater. <SNIP> Of those who survived a jump from the Golden Gate bridge and had such an NDE, none went on to completed suicide, and all were united in their support for a barrier to prevent further attempts. <SNIP> This occurred despite an increased belief in an after-life. Psychodynamic explanations have centred around the idea of ‘ego death’ followed by ‘rebirth’. <SNIP>
It is evident from the above that psychotherapeutic benefits might follow from the artificial induction of NDE’s by ketamine. This possibility has been pursued, <SNIP> in the treatment of alcohol dependency, with good results.
The other possible avenue by which ketamine might benefit mental health lies in its effects upon the substance of the brain itself. As noted above, ketamine produces localised electrical abnormalities which bear some resemblance to temporal lobe epileptic phenomena. This suggests that treatment with ketamine may have some effects resembling electro-shock treatment, one of the most effective means of combating severe depression. Electro-shock treatment is still widely used in the United Kingdom. In this context, it is of interest to note that ketamine has some anti-depressant properties. <SNIP>

Conclusions:
The NDE is an important phenomenon which can be safely reproduced by ketamine, and the ‘glutamate theory of the NDE’ can thus be investigated by experiment. Recent advances in neuroscience strongly suggest a common origin for ketamine experiences and the NDE in events occurring at glutamatergic synapses, mediated by the NMDA (PCP) receptor. This theory represents an extension of previous hypotheses, and incorporates most of the neurobiological and psychological theories which have been put forward. It links many of these ideas (hypoxia, peptide release, temporal lobe epilepsy, regression in the service of the ego, reactivation of birth memories, sensory deprivation etc.) rather than being an alternative to them. Most of the planks upon which the hypothesis is built are strongly supported by experimental evidence, which implicates glutamate and the NMDA receptor as unifying entities in the processes leading to an NDE. The main exception to this is the postulate that anti-excito-toxic agents can flood the brain, which remains to be clearly established.
It is unfortunate that those persons with an interest in the spiritual appear to view neurobiological explanations of the NDE as boring and reductionist. In fact, the exploration of the mind-brain interface is one of the most exciting adventures which humans have ever undertaken, and the real reductionism may lie in wrapping a mystical shroud around the NDE, through nothing new can ever be seen or tested by experiment.
REFERENCES: <SNIP>’. [endquote]. (http://www.lycaeum.org/drugs/Cyclohexamines/Ketamine/)

About the Author: Dr. Karl Jansen was born in New Zealand and trained in medicine at the University of Otago. After registering as a medical practitioner, he proceeded to carry out brain research at the University of Auckland as a research fellow of the New Zealand Medical Research Council. At this time he became interested in ketamine and its effects and published his first observations in this area, and also in antipodean use, users and consequences of psilocybin-containing mushrooms. He then went to the United Kingdom, and attended the University of Oxford (New College) were he completed a Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Pharmacology. He was the Glaxo Fellow at Green College. On completion of his studies at Oxford, he went to the Maudsley Hospital and London Institute of Psychiatry to complete his training as a psychiatrist. He is now a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. His current research interests are the ketamine model of the near-death experience and the consequences of long-term, high dose recreational use of Ecstasy (MDMA).

(He would be interested to receive correspondence concerning the subject of this paper. You can email him at: K@BTInternet.COM).

July 17 1998

ALAN: Richard, how did you discover ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive’? It is absolutely marvellous – there is no way ‘I’ can escape it. If I am not completely satisfied with where I am now, ‘I’ am trying to achieve something which is not here and now, so it is unachievable. It appears one must remain absolutely vigilant – keep asking ‘What am I experiencing at this moment of being alive?’ Watch the answer. Do not make any effort to puzzle it out, just watch the answer. Keep asking and watching and something will come up. At the very moment you start to think something like ‘Well that’s it, I got here, there is no need to say it any more’ or ‘What is the point of saying this’ or ‘this is boring’ or ‘what does it mean’ or ‘what am I supposed to answer’ – that is the time you just need to keep on going. I know, I have been through them all (and there are plenty more variations) ... I tell you, the sound of one hand clapping is a piece of cake compared to this ... ... You must discover you, by yourself, and what an exciting discovery waits to be made. The sooner you start the better. So, right away, ask yourself, ‘How am I feeling at this moment of being alive’ and keep on asking, every moment. If one perseveres, the least that should be achieved is living in happiness for 99% of the time and that is not a bad reward, for a bit of effort and diligence. How am I experiencing this moment of being alive? Why as it always has been and always will be – absolutely perfect. After all, how can it possibly be anything else.

July 26 1998

RICHARD: Alan, I have finally got my act together and have just created a Mailing List for The Actual Freedom Trust (wow!). If you are so inclined, you may view it by clicking on the following URL: (www.actualfreedom.com.au/richard/ ). You will probably have to click ‘Refresh’ on your web browser to get the latest version of my home-page. You will find the subscription box directly to the left of the following paragraph: ‘This is a forum for discussion about an end to malice and sorrow forever ... and an actual freedom for all peoples. This Web Page is for anyone sufficiently motivated to explore into just what constitutes the Human Condition. It is about what one human being searched for in his own life and the discoveries he has made ... and what other peoples have done about ameliorating their present situation. All the articles on these pages should be sufficiently challenging to initiate some preliminary discussion. As an actual freedom will appeal to anyone already suspicious of what passes for wisdom in the real world – those people who still have some remnants of common-sense left – accordingly The Actual Freedom Trust is currently maintaining a Mailing List so that a lively and in-depth series of dialogues can be promoted. Click on the Link on the left in order to subscribe to the List ... and to view the archives so as to ascertain just what is being discussed’.

Obviously there is no one subscribed yet ... if you would care to join, please do.

We can but start small and see what eventuates.

August 01 1998

RICHARD: The Actual Freedom Mailing List is working well ... and it gets me motivated to write again. I am busily combing through cyber-space for anyone with whom I have corresponded in the past and consider may – even peripherally – be interested in joining. But even so, it goes well as it is.

ALAN: I first had to discover how to set up a new e-mail account (only just introduced by my ISP). I wanted a more anonymous address for my web page, as my phone number and address are readily ascertainable, having seen some of the weirdos out there and some of the mail you have received and it made sense to have the same address for your mailing list.

RICHARD: Ah ... how is your Web Page progressing? I am very interested in seeing you getting it up and running as soon as you can ... then I can link from my Web Page to yours (the more there is for people to read the better it is. And the more people who can speak intelligently about their experiences the better ... then I am no longer a lone voice to be dismissed as a freak or a crank). Of course I realise that I am no great example of getting things done swiftly ... I still have not got around to doing my ‘dissertation’!

ALAN: A timely setting up of the mailing, too, as it appears the last two people I was corresponding with have ‘headed for the hills’. One proclaimed our correspondence was ‘distancing us’ and the other that she was not ‘in the mood for analysis and introspection’.

RICHARD: Hmm ... and so it goes. This is all so familiar. When I read through your E-Mail correspondence with [name deleted] that you forwarded to me it was so typical of what I have been dealing with for years and years it was almost as if a deja vu was happening. Actually, people are so predictable that I have not had an original objection thrown at me for years and years now ... just the same old same old. Do you have anyone at all left who may be interested in subscribing and participating in the Actual Freedom Mailing List?

As you will have gathered, the two books have finally been printed a few days ago. Peter and Vineeto got 100 of ‘Peter’s Journal’ printed and 50 of ‘Richard’s Journal’. The reason for only 50 of ‘Richard’s Journal’ being that we are in the process of editing my E-Mail correspondence (like the ‘Questions and Answers’ section on my Web Page) and getting a third book printed instead of the full 100 ... tentatively called ‘Objections And Answers’. They have decided to then print 20 copies of it for starters instead of spending the money on 100 of ‘Richard’s Journal’ like with ‘Peter’s Journal’. The rationale behind this being that maybe half of the people buying ‘Peter’s Journal’ will drop out there and then and not go on to buying ‘Richard’s Journal’ ... and those that do will want a third book.

These are the weighty decisions that ‘The Directors’ of ‘The Actual Freedom Trust’ make at their spasmodic meetings!

August 01 1998

RICHARD: I have accessed your Web Page ... congratulations! I had no troubles at all. I have down-loaded everything onto my hard disk and will read it all there at my leisure. Suffice to say that at a brief – very brief – skim-through on-line it read well. I like your style of writing and the honesty and straight-forwardness of what is said. However, I wish to read it all thoroughly after I have sent this E-Mail.

I have already put a link to it on my Web Page directly under ‘Peter’s Journal’ ... I called it ‘Alan’s Journey’. I added a notification to draw attention to the link in the scrolling marquee that promotes ‘Peter’s Journal’ (I took some of your own words from your opening paragraph for it).

I am pleased that the books arrived okay and that you are enjoying reading ‘Richard’s Journal’ in book-format and that your wife is going through ‘Peter’s Journal’.

All is going very well indeed.

RICHARD: Here is that quote by Mr. Jiddu Krishnamurti that I told you about. I have made bold the phrases that relate to your experience as detailed on your Web Page [Alan]: ‘I am now out walking the dog and suddenly ‘got’ the universe experiencing me. Only for a split second. The wind was blowing through the ferns, a chain saw was buzzing in the distance, I was focussing on pure intent (or something). A very peculiar sensation in the brain stem, or where I imagine the brain stem to be – at the back of the head. A prickling, tingling, pressure sensation and suddenly I was the ferns, the wind, the chain saw. I was them and they were me’. [endquote]. Just in case bold does not show up on your computer I will copy and paste them here: [Mr. Jiddu Krishnamurti]: ‘I felt acute pain at the nape of my neck. There was a man mending the road; that man was myself; the pickaxe he held was myself; the very stone which he was breaking up was a part of me; the tender blade of grass was my very being, and the tree beside the man was myself. Just then there was a car passing by at some distance; I was the driver, the engine, and the tyres. I was in everything, or rather everything was in me, inanimate and animate, the mountain, the worm, and all breathing things’. [endquote].

[Mr. Jiddu Krishnamurti]: ‘On the 17th. August, 1922, I felt acute pain at the nape of my neck and I had to cut down my meditation to fifteen minutes. The pain instead of getting better as I had hoped grew worse. The climax was reached on the 19th. I could not think, nor was I able to do anything, and I was forced by friends here to retire to bed. Then I became almost unconscious, though I was well aware of what was happening around me. I came to myself at about noon each day.
‘On the first day, while I was in that state and more conscious of the things around me, I had the first most extraordinary experience.
There was a man mending the road; that man was myself; the pickaxe he held was myself; the very stone which he was breaking up was a part of me; the tender blade of grass was my very being, and the tree beside the man was myself. I almost could feel and think like the roadmender, and I could feel the wind passing through the tree, and the little ant on the blade of grass I could feel.
The birds, the dust, and the very noise were a part of me.
Just then there was a car passing by at some distance; I was the driver, the engine, and the tyres; as the car went further away from me, I was going away from myself. I was in everything, or rather everything was in me, inanimate and animate, the mountain, the worm, and all breathing things.
‘All day long I remained in this happy condition. I could not eat anything, and again at about six I began to lose my physical body, and naturally the physical elemental [the part of the body that controls its instinctive and purely physical actions when the higher consciousness is withdrawn. It is at the low stage of evolution and needs guidance] did what it liked; I was semi-conscious.
‘The morning of the next day (the 20th.) was almost the same as the previous day, and I could not tolerate too many people in the room. I could feel them in rather a curious way and their vibrations got on my nerves. That evening at about the same hour of six I felt worse than ever. I wanted nobody near me nor anybody to touch me. I was feeling extremely tired and weak. I think I was weeping from mere exhaustion and lack of physical control. My head was pretty bad and the top part felt as though many needles were being driven in. While I was in this state I felt that the bed in which I was lying, the same one as on the previous day, was dirty and filthy beyond imagination and I could not lie in it. Suddenly I found myself sitting on the floor and Nitya and Rosalind asking me to get into bed. I asked them not to touch me and cried out that the bed was not clean. I went on like this for some time till eventually I wandered out on the veranda and sat a few moments exhausted and slightly calmer.
‘I began to come to myself and finally Mr Warrington asked me to go under the pepper tree which is near the house. There I sat cross-legged in the meditation posture. When I had sat thus for some time, I felt myself going out of my body, I saw myself sitting down with the delicate tender leaves of the tree over me. I was facing the east. In front of me was my body and over my head I saw the Star, bright and clear. Then I could feel the vibration of the Lord Buddha; I beheld Lord Maitreya and Master K.H. I was so happy, calm and at peace. I could still see my body and I was hovering near it. There was such profound calmness both in the air and within the lake, I felt my physical body, with its mind and motions could be ruffled on the surface but nothing, nay nothing, could disturb the calmness of my soul. The Presence of the mighty Beings was with me for some time and then They were gone.
‘I was supremely happy, for I had seen. Nothing could ever be the same. I have drunk at the clear and pure waters at the source of the fountain of life and thirst was appeased.
Never more could I be thirsty, never more could I be in utter darkness. I have seen the Light. I have touched compassion which heals all sorrow and suffering; it is not for myself, but for the world. I have stood on the mountain top and gazed at the mighty Beings. Never can I be in utter darkness; I have seen the glorious and healing Light.
The fountain of Truth has been revealed to me and the darkness has been dispersed.
Love in all its glory has intoxicated my heart; my heart can never be closed. I have drunk at the fountain of Joy and eternal Beauty.
‘I am God-intoxicated’.
[endquote].

I had numerous experiences of a similar nature myself ... and spent eleven years in an altered state of consciousness. I also had other experiences that I overlooked in favour of these ‘I am everything and Everything is Me’ experiences. If I had not been taken in by delusions of grandeur I would have paid particular notice of experiences like the one I detailed in a post to the Actual Freedom Mailing List recently. [Richard]: ‘I remember the first time I experienced being the senses only during a peak experience. There was no identity as ‘I’ thinking or ‘me’ feeling ... simply this body ambling across a grassy field in the early-morning light. A million dew-drenched spider-webs danced a sparkling delight over the verdant vista and a question that had been running for some weeks became experientially answered: without the senses I would not know that I exist. And further to this: I was the senses and the senses were me. With this comes an awareness of being conscious ... apperception’. [endquote].

When narcissism packs its bags and slinks out of the door ... then I am this physical universe experiencing itself as a sensate and reflective human being. As me, this universe can be intelligent.

There is no ‘Intelligence’ behind this universe creating and running the whole show.

Continued on The Actual Freedom Mailing List


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